Friday, November 17, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 11/20/1967 to 11/26/1967

Rome City school students celebrated Thanksgiving with a five-day weekend. Students were off Wednesday through Sunday, while teachers used Wednesday as a work day to prepare report cards. 

Governor Lester Maddox began a push to encourage school systems to add Driver’s Training to the curriculum in every high school as a non-fee course. The only school in the Rome area that offered a Driver’s Training class in 1967 was Coosa; the Rome City School System contracted with private instructors (including Don Undsworth, the instructor from whom many of my friends and I took Driver’s Training) to offer fee-based classes after school hours.

Rome and Floyd County agreed to work together in an effort to secure more than a half million dollars in federal and state funds for major improvements to Russell Field, Rome’s airport. Planned upgrades included a longer runway to handle slightly larger commercial flights, additional taxi aprons, improved lighting, and acquisition of extra land for future expansion. The city and the county were optimistic that, with these improvements, Rome would continue to serve as a northwest Georgia hub for commercial commuter flights to Atlanta, Chattanooga, and Birmingham.

Rome’s burglary spree continued—but this time, it was spectacularly unsuccessful. Burglars broke into Simpson Grocery Company on E. 2nd Avenue in the early hours of Monday morning and attempted to break into the safe—but not only did they fail in that, they ended up leaving behind almost $100 in equipment in their haste to escape. The burglars did manage to punch out the combination lock and drill one hole into the safe—a process that must have taken hours—but that did not enable them to open the safe. So why did they ultimately leave? Because when they finally drilled through the safe door, they also drilled into a tear gas canister located inside the safe just for in case something like this happened. The pressurized canister pumped tear gas into the office, which caused the thieves to make a tearful retreat without their tools.

Two nights later, two men and a woman, all from Alabama, were arrested with burglary tools after they broke into a Rome laundromat. Hundreds of dollars in tools were confiscated, along with the $26 the thieves managed to steal from the laundromat. While the amount of the theft was small, the damage to the laundromat was sufficient to earn the thieves some pretty serious felony charges.

Judging by advertising from Belk’s, Sears, Penney’s, and Big K, avocado was the hot new color of the year for cookware and kitchen accessories. Every store was pushing avocado kitchen items as Christmas gifts, with Sears also offering appliances in the trendy new color.

Piggly Wiggly had roasting hens for 33¢ a pound, oranges for 33¢ a dozen, and Maxwell House coffee for 49¢ a pound. Kroger had turkeys for 26¢ a pound, celery for a dime a bunch, and Morton’s frozen pies for 29¢ each. A&P had smoked hams for 35¢ a pound, a three-pound fruitcake for $2.49, and a twenty-pound bag of russet potatoes for 89¢. Big Apple had pork roast for79¢ a pound, Ocean Spray cranberry sauce for 29¢ a can, and pole beans for 15¢ a pound.  Couch’s had Hormel fully cooked three-pound canned hams for $2.79 (do they still make three-pound canned hams?), Aristocrat ice milk for 39¢ a half gallon, and large coconuts for 19¢ each. (My parents must have carefully hidden these cheap coconuts from me—because if I had known, we would have had a lot of coconuts and hammers scattered across the patio and driveway…)

The cinematic week began with Bonnie & Clyde (starring Warren Beatty & Faye Dunaway) at the DeSoto Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In, and Grand Prix (starring James Garner) at the First Avenue. The midweek switchout brought Clambake (starring Elvis Presley) to the DeSoto Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In, while Grand Prix hung around for another week at the First Avenue. 

The Strawberry Alarm Clock finally knocked Lulu out of first place with their song “Incense and Peppermints,” pushing Lulu’s “To Sir With Love” to second place. Other top ten songs included “The Rain, the Park, and Other Things” by the Cowsills (#3); “Soul Man” by Sam & Dave (#4); “Daydream Believer” by the Monkees (#5); “Please Love Me Forever” by Bobby Vinton (#6); “I Say a Little Prayer” by Dionne Warwick (#7); “It Must Be Him” by Vikki Carr (#8); “I Can See for Miles” by The Who (#9); and “Expressway (To You Heart)” by the Soul Survivors (#10). 

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