Saturday, December 02, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 12/4/1967 to 12/10/1967

Rome’s burglary trend continued as thieves broke into Walraven’s Service Station, Lathem Plumbing, West Rome Christian Church, and Matthews Service Station in the early morning hours of December 4th. The sheer number of thefts in such a short period of time led police to conclude that more than one group of burglars was responsible for the crime spree. The service station burglaries netted a selection of tools and a small amount of cash from vending machines; about $40 in cash and more tools were stolen from Lathem Plumbing; and nothing of value was taken from the church, although the pastor’s office was ransacked and furniture was damaged. In addition, a half-dozen pay phones in West Rome, Garden Lakes, and North Rome were shot open on the same day and an undetermined number of dimes were stolen; Southern Bell representatives estimated that total cash losses were no more than $50, but the damage to the phones amounted to almost six times that much.

West Roman S/Sgt. Jack Harwell Jr. of 811 Shorter Avenue--son of Emma Conn Harwell and Jack Harwell Sr., the folks who made Conn’s a West Rome mainstay for several decades—was injured when his jeep ran over a land mine in Vietnam. Thankfully, the injury was reported as “not serious.”

The first challenges to Georgia’s blue laws (which required most businesses to close on Sunday) began this week in 1967, and it was Zayre’s department store in Cobb County that began the trend, which soon spread to Big K in West Rome and other stores. The impacted businesses charged that the the law was discriminatory because it was not being enforced against radio stations, theaters, car washes, laundromats, and other services; additionally, grocery stores were taking advantage of the exception for sale of food and drugs to sell other products such as magazines, household cleaners, cosmetics, etc.

Remember decoupage, the craft of decorating objects with paper cutouts and paint effects? Well, it was becoming trendy in Rome in late 1967—so much so, in fact, that Sherwin Williams was scheduling a series of decoupage classes throughout the month of December. (I remember several friends decoupaging boxes, plaques, pencil cups, and other objects as gifts during the late 1960s and early 1970s; like many trends, it seemed to fall out of favor by the mid-70s. Does anyone still do decoupage today?)

Piggly Wiggly had Armour Star bacon for 59¢ a pound, Nabisco saltines for 35¢ a box, and bananas for a dime a pound. Kroger had chuck roast for 39¢ a pound, red delicious apples for 15¢ a pound, and five pounds of Domino sugar for 39¢. Big Apple had baking hens for 35¢ a pound, grapefruit for a dime each, and Ocean Spray cranberry sauce for 25¢ a can. A&P had sirloin steak for 89¢ a pound, Eight O’Clock coffee for 65¢ a pound, and a five-pound Claxton fruitcake for $3.99. Couch’s had chicken breast for 49¢ a pound, Bama blackberry preserves for 39¢ a jar (and you could use the jar as a drinking glass once you finished the preserves!), and spruce Christmas trees for 99¢ to $9.99 each. 

The cinematic week began with Point Blank (starring Lee Marvin) at the DeSoto Theatre, Jack of Diamonds (starring George Hamilton) at the First Avenue, and The Glory Stompers (starring Jody McCrea) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switch out brought Operation Kid Brother (a James Bond spoof starring Neil Connery--the kid brother of James Bond actor Sean Connery—as a British secret agent's civilian brother who is unavailable to save the world when his double-O brother is unavailable) to the DeSoto Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In, and Hotel (starring Rod Taylor) to the First Avenue. 

The number one song this week in 1967 was “Daydream Believer” by the Monkees. Other top ten hits included “The Rain, The Park, & Other Things” by the Cowsills (#2); “Incense & Peppermints” by the Strawberry Alarm Clock (#3); “I Say a Little Prayer” by Dionne Warwick (#4); “I HeardIt Through the Grapevine” by Gladys Knight & the Pips (#5); “To Sir With Love” by Lulu (#6); “I Second That Emotion” by Smokey Robinson & the Miracles (#7); “Hello Goodbye” by the Beatles (#8); “In and Out of Love” by Diana Ross & the Supremes (#9); and “An Open Letter to My Teenage Son” by Victor Lundberg (#10). I( have to confess that I have absolutely no memory of “An Open Letter,” which was a spoken-word reading of a letter by a father to his teenage son, played over an instrumental version of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” The record ends with Lundberg declaring that, if his son burns his draft card, he should “burn [his] birth certificate at the same time. From that moment on, I have no son.” While it only made it to tenth place before moving back down the charts, it is one of the twelve fastest-climbing singles in Billboard history).

Otis Redding died on December 8th in a plane crash, along with four members of his backing band, the Bar-Kays.

Six months after the release of Sgt. Pepper’s, The Rolling Stones released their own psychedelia-influenced concept album, Their Satanic Majesty’s Request, on December 8th. 

This week in 1967, a comic was released that would change my life forever. The comic was Batman #199, a rather forgettable issue with a gimmick cover that featured Batman desperately searching for a copy of the newest issue of Batman Comics. It wasn’t the story that was so significant, though, but the letters column. This issue features a letter that pointed out some flaws in the cover story from Batman #195—and the author of that letter was a young woman from Cedartown, Georgia. A few weeks later, I would take a chance and call her;  the call went well enough, so we would go on to talk regularly, then we met, then we began dating. Three and a half years later, we would get married—and we’ve been married ever since. So thanks, Batman!

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