Saturday, September 02, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 9/4/1967 to 9/10/1967

Mike Grass was named lineman of the week by the Rome News-Tribune for his performance in the season-opener Dalton football game, which West Rome won. Grass was credited with seventeen tackles against the  Catamounts; he also recovered a key fumble that contributed significantly to West Rome’s surprise victory over the Dalton team, which had been picked to win by almost ever sports prognosticator—including my Dad, the RNT sports editor who had picked Dalton for a two-touchdown win over the Chiefs. This time, Dad saw the light and picked West Rome to win over the Chattooga Indians.

And win they did: West Rome pulled off a 7-0 victory over Chattooga in their first home game of the season. Quarterback Jimmy Edwards scored the touchdown on a two-yard run in the very next play after Johnny Rimes’ diving catch that put the Chieftains in scoring distance.

(I remain impressed by my Dad’s skills at picking high school football games: he actually got 5 of 7 predictions right this week in ’67.)

Rome’s economy continued to boom, with a $2 million gain in retail sales in the second quarter of 1967 compared to the same period in 1966. (A half-century ago, when computers were monstrously large devices rarely used by government agencies, it took a few months to calculate quarterly figures.) That was a 10.6% percent increase in retail growth in one year—and that was before the scheduled late-1967 opening of Gala Shopping Center, planned to be the largest shopping center in northwest Georgia.

Burglars went for the big heist when they robbed the Coosa Valley Discount House on Division Street in West Rome in the wee hours of the morning on Tuesday, September 5th. The burglars stole nearly 400 items with a value in excess of $7,000.00 (that’s $50,000+ in today’s dollars!). The thieves obviously came prepared, because they made off with eight fullsized console television sets, six stereos three power saws, twenty fans, two sets of golf clubs, shotgun shells, rifles, pistols, and more than 220 watches.

Piggly Wiggly had beef liver for 29¢ a pound, grapes for 19¢ a pound, and Heinz tomato soup (yes, Heinz once made canned soup) for a dime a can. Kroger had baking hens for 29¢ a pound, bananas for 13¢ a pound, and Kroger brand bread for 18¢ a loaf (white bread, of course—I don’t even recall most grocery stores carrying whole wheat bread when I was a kid, although I could have simply been paying no attention). A&P had chuck roast for 39¢ a pound, corn for a nickel an ear, and Pickle Paton (I don’t make up these names, I just report them) hamburger dill slices for 29¢ a quart. Big Apple had round steak for 77¢ a pound, Bailey’s Supreme coffee for 59¢ a pound, and honeydew melons for 69¢ each (and considering that’s the equivalent of $5 each adjusted for inflation, I now see why we never had honeydew melons). Couch’s had pork chops for 49¢ a pound, Van Camp’s chili for 29¢ a can, and tomatoes for 15¢ a pound.

The cinematic week began with Walt Disney’s Gnome-Mobile at the DeSoto Theatre, The Sound of Music (starring Julie Andrews) at the First Avenue Theatre, and Hell’s Angels on Wheels at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switch out brought Fathom (starring Raquel Welch) to the DeSoto Theatre and Horrors of the Black Museum (starring nobody important) to the West Rome Drive-In, while The Sound of Music continued to deprive us of another cinematic choice at the First Avenue.

Bobbie Gentry’s enigmatic ballad “Ode to Billie Joe” held onto number one once again this week in 1978. Other top ten hits included “Reflections” by Diana Ross & the Supremes (#2); “Come Back when You Grow Up” by Bobby Vee and the Strangers (#3); “Baby I Love You” by Aretha Franklin (#4); “The Letter” by the Box Tops (#5); “All you Need Is Love” by the Beatles (#6); “You’re My Everything” by the Temptations (#7); “Light My Fire” by the Doors (#8); “Apples, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie” by Jay and the Techniques (#9); and “San Francisco Nights” by Eric Burdon and the Animals (#10).

NBC filled a hole in their prime-time schedule on Saturday night, September 9th, with a comedy special that combined slapstick gags, quick-cut jokes, light-hearted burlesque, guest-cameos, and oodles of silliness. The special, Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In, proved to be such a surprise hit that the network quickly signed up Dan Rowan and Dick Martin to bring the show back on a regular basis a few months later—and it went on to become one of the hottest comedy programs of the late 60s, making stars out of Goldie Hawn, Arte Johnson, Henry Gibson, Joanne Worley, Judy Carne, Alan Sues, Ruth Buzzi, and many more.

This was also the week that kicked off the Fall TV season, with several noteworthy show premieres, including He & She (with Paula Prentiss & Richard Benjamin) on Wednesday, September 6th; The Flying Nun (starring Sally Field) on Thursday, September 7th; and The Mothers-In-Law (starring Eve Arden and Kaye Ballard) and The High Chaparral (starring Lief Erickson and Cameron Mitchell) on Sunday, September 10th.

And for those of us who were comic book fans, there was great news: Spider-Man (“does whatever a spider can”) was one of two memorable cartoons premiering on Saturday, September 9th. The other was Jay Ward’s  Tarzan spoof George of the Jungle (“watch out for that tree”), which also featured Super-Chicken as as part of its half-hour zaniness.

It was also the end of an era for fans of DC Comics’ The Flash: Carmine Infantino, who had illustrated the Silver Age Flash ever since his return in Showcase #4, ended his long run with Flash #174 this week in 1967. It always seemed unfair that he ended with this issue rather than #175, which featured the landmark race between Superman and the Flash. Who could have possibly done a better job on that speed faceoff than Infantino? (Certainly not Ross Andru and Mike Esposito, who did their best but simply were not suited for the Flash.)

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