Saturday, February 18, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in 1967 - 2/20/1967 to 2/26/1967

Oh, so close: Chieftains awakened to snow on Monday morning, February 20th—but the snow turned to rain by 7:15 that morning, so Rome City Schools chose not to cancel school and everyone went to class just like always, although probably not with smiles on their faces… Temperatures  warmed into the 40s for the next couple of days before dropping to 10 degrees on Friday night, followed by a low of 8 degrees on Saturday night.

The 1960s saw a rise in the interest in UFOs, and Rome wasn’t immune to the phenomenon of strange sightings. Rome US Weather Bureau director Juanita Lester reported that she had seen a UFO in the skies near Russell Field. “Two white lights were moving slowly, almost lazily, across the sky in an easterly direction,” she said. “At first, I thought they were airplane lights, then I realized that was impossible The lights were very brilliant and seemed to glow. Their edges were blurred.” It seemed to hover above the airport, so she got in her car to drive over and check it out. “When I was just about to the airport, the object began to move again and it soon disappeared to the south. There was no sound nor any other lights. If an aircraft had been that low, there would have been some sound.” Lester knew aircraft, weather balloons, and other airborne objects, and said “what I saw was none of these.” The report inspired a number of other Romans to report UFO sightings in the Rome area. A resident who lived off Burnett Ferry Road said that he and his wife saw a large object hovering a few hundred feet above his house; his wife said that this was the latest in a series of strange UFO activities near their house. Ivan Payne of 34 Conn Street reported UFO sightings as well; at first, he thought it was a plane or a satellite until it abruptly stopped and instantly reversed direction in the sky; he watched for approximately two minutes until it disappeared into the distance. (My mother, a very practical person not prone to exaggeration, eventually shared with her family that she had seen a UFO near our home in West Rome in 1967—and had a bizarre experience that we first dismissed as a dream until we found some physical evidence to support her assertion that something strange had occurred near our home that evening…)

Rome’s grand jury criticized local law enforcement for allowing houses of prostitution to operate with impunity in Rome.  According to the grand jury, some local nightclubs and beer parlors had even installed trailers adjacent to their places of businesses for the use of prostitutes, who paid a percentage to “the house.” Locations on Alabama Road were specifically referenced, although business names were not given. They recommended stronger action to shut down these illegal operations.

Thomas Evans Fricks, a West Rome High School graduate, was one of the very few Romans to make it to West Point Military Academy. The Rome News-Tribune spotlighted Tommy’s accomplishment in a page 3 article on Monday, pointing out that the former member of the 1965 Class AA championship football team, came from a military family and spent several summers marching alongside Guardsmen at Fort McLellan, and even accompanied Company A, 2nd Battalion, 108th Armor, on weekend marksmanship training at Camp Catoosa near Ringgold while he was a high school student.

Piggly Wiggly had fresh whole fryers for 25¢ a pound, Orange Nip frozen orange juice for 25¢ a can, and Morton’s new tuna pot pies (no, I’m not making it up) for 25¢ each. Kroger had sirloin steak for 89¢ a pound, a box of six Kroger donuts for 23¢, and Hunt’s tomato sauce for a dime a can. A&P had Allgood bacon for 55¢ a pound, Cap’n Johns frozen fish sticks for 50¢ a box, and five pounds of pink grapefruit for 33¢. Big Apple had Hormel franks for 49¢ a pound, yellow corn for 8¢ an ear, and a two-pound jar of Lenox Park peanut butter for 49¢. Couch’s had spareribs for 29¢ a pound, a dozen eggs for 29¢, and cabbage for a nickel a pound.

The cinematic week began with A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum (with Zero Mostel) at the DeSoto Theatre, The Sound of Music (with Julie Andrews) at the First Avenue, and The Fortune Cookie (with Jack Lemmon & Walter Matthau) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switchout brough Tobruk (with Rock Hudson & George Peppard) to the DeSoto Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In and The Restless Ones (with Johnny Crawford) to the First Avenue (and yes, that means that they finally ended the seemingly-eternal run of The Sound of Music, only to bring in a two-year-old grade B film in its place).

The Buckinghams leapt to number one this week in 1967 with “Kind of a Drag.” Other top ten hits included “Love Is Here to Stay and Now You’re Gone” by the Supremes (#2); “Ruby Tuesday” by the Rolling Stones (#3), “I’m a Believer” by the Monkees (#4); “Georgy Girl” by the Seekers (#5); “The Beat Goes On” by Sonny & Cher (#6); “Gimme Some Lovin’” by the Spencer Davis Group (#7); “Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye” by the Casinos (#8); “ (We Ain’t Got) Nothin’ Yet” by the Blues Magoos (#9); and “Baby I Need Your Lovin’” by Johnny Rivers (#10).

The Beatles appeared on American Bandstand in a taped appearance this week in 1967, premiering their new videos for “Penny Lane” and “Strawberry Fields Forever.”

Jack and the Beanstalk, the first TV special to combine live action and animation, premiered on February 25th, 1967, courtesy of NBC and Hanna-Barbera.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 2/13/1967 to 2/19/1967

Owen Blanton reminded Chieftains that this week was the deadline for signing up to take the National Educational Development test scheduled for Saturday, March 4th. The NEDT was actually a series of tests in English, social studies, science, math, and vocabulary designed to measure each student’s ability to apply learning skills (rather than his/her ability to memorize facts). The test was to be given at West Rome High School on Saturday, March 4th, at 8:30 am, but no one could take the test unless he/she signed up by February 17th.

Diane Massey of West Rome was one of four winners of a DAR Good Citizens Pin, awarded by the Xavier Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. The pins were given to senior girls selected by the faculty and class as having outstanding qualities of dependability, service, leadership, and patriotism.

An internal audit of Rome’s Headstart project revealed numerous financial discrepancies, leading to a full-scale audit of the entire program by an independent state auditor. The second audit revealed even more discrepancies leading to one immediate dismissal. Spokespeople said that the audit revealed small discrepancies that got larger as the year went on—a typical sign of intentional mismanagement of funds. The city and the county jointly issued checks to replace the $3000.00 that was missing, which seemed to satisfy the federal government, who declined to reveal the name of the person responsible for the discrepancies or to recommend prosecution.

1967 was the first year that Georgians were required to play their ad valorum taxes at the time their tags were purchased, and Floyd County tax commissioner Sarah Keown said that Romans apparently didn’t like it. Tax collection and tag sales were down by about 35% over the same period last year, with 75% of Romans apparently waiting until the last minute to pay their tag and taxes.

West Rome’s girls pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the season when they defeated top-rated Pepperell 41-37. Coach June Hyder had special praise for her guards (Linda Hilley, Judy Stegall, and Debbie Hovey). “We fouled only eight times—four times in each half,” Coach Hyder explained. “And this certainly helped. And they managed to hold Nancy Mathis [a top-ranked Peppered player who had averaged 34 points per game) to 16 points.”

H&R Block was pushing their tax preparation service this week in 1967, offering to prepare both federal and state returns for $5 for a basic return.

Piggly Wiggly had Hormel potted meat for a dime a can, T-bone steak for 99¢ a pound, and Bama preserves or jam (in jars that could used as drinking glasses once emptied) for a quarter a jar. Big Apple had ground beef for 39¢ a pound, Coke/Tab/Fresca/Sprite for 29¢ a case plus deposit, and carrots for 19¢ a bunch. A&P had rib eye steak for $1.79 a pound, Eight O’Clock coffee for 59¢ a pound, and bath-sized Lifebuoy soap (“The soap that’s 99 and 44/1000% pure… so pure it floats!”) for 19¢ a bar.  Kroger had pork loin roast for 59¢ a pound, lettuce for 15¢ a head, and strawberries for 29¢ a pound. Couch’s had pork chops for 49¢ a pound, squash for a dime a pound, and ten pounds of White Lily flour for 99¢.

The cinematic week began with Funeral In Berlin (with Michael Caine) at the DeSoto Theater, The Sound of Music (with Julie Andrews) at the First Avenue, and Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines (with Stuart Whitman) at the West Rome Drive-In. Those Magnificent Men flew over to the DeSoto at the midweek switchout, Julie Andrews refused to vacate the First Avenue, and Second Time Around played for the first time at the West Rome Drive-In.


The Buckinghams’ “Kind of a Drag” pushed the Monkees out of the number one slot this week in 1967, knocking “I’m a Believer” down to second place. Other top ten hits included “Ruby Tuesday” by the Rolling Stones (#3); “Georgy Girl” by the Seekers (#4); “(We Ain't Got) Nothin’ Yet” by the Blues Magoos (#5); “Love Is Here and Now You’re Gone” by the Supremes (#6); “98.6” by Keith (#7); “Tell It Like It Is” by Aaron Neville (#8); “The Beat Goes On” by Sonny & Cher (#9); and “Gimme Some Lovin’” by the Spencer Davis Group (#10).

Dolly Parton released her debut album Hello, I’m Dolly this week in 1967. The album generated two top twenty country hits: “Dumb Blonde” and “Something Fishy.” The album also brought Dolly to the attention of Porter Wagoner, who would soon invite her to join his band and appear on his weekly television show.

Khan Noonien Singh (played by Ricardo Montalban) made his first appearance in the Star Trek episode “Space Seed”  this week in 1967. Of course, he would go on to kill Spock in The Wrath of Khan… but don’t worry, Spock got better!

Two future TV stars crossed paths this week in 1967 when Green Arrow and Batman teamed up in Brave & Bold #71, courtesy of Bob Haney & George Papp.  (But I can assure you that, back in 1967, not even the most dedicated DC comics fan ever would have dreamed that Oliver Queen would ever make the jump to teevee!)

Friday, February 03, 2017

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 2/6/1967 to 2/12/1967

Twenty young men (all juveniles) were detained by the police after carrying off a large stack of school supplies (pencils, notebooks, paper, pens, etc.). The youths insisted that they were told by an adult in the store that they could just take all the items, but the store owner said that no one who worked at the store had talked with the. The police held off on filing charges until they could find out who gave them permission to take them. Detective Tom King did say, however, that school supplies weren’t high on the list of desirable items for roving gangs of thieves…

West Rome’s basketball teams continued to struggle, with both the boys and the girls losing to Wills on Saturday night. The boys never had a chance, losing 62-45, but the girls nearly pulled off a victory, losing 36-34 in the last 30 seconds of the game. Juanita Williams was the girls’ top scorer with 28 points, while Kenny Stephens was the top scorer for the boys with 15 points.

The West Rome Honor Society inducted new members Karen Hart, Beth Watson, Myra Beth Boggus, Linda Morgan, Debbie Morris, Robert Blaylock, Beverly Hall, and Debbie Cook in a ceremony that took place on February 7th in the West Rome High School Auditorium.

West Rome junior Vickie Casey was elected 1966-1967 DECA Sweetheart. Vickie,  a member of the Distributive Education Club and the Library Club, was chosen to represent the Rome DECA chapter at the state convention in early April.

Rome continued to investigate the possibility of annexing Garden Lakes into the city. According to the Garden Lakes Company president, the main reason residents wanted to join the city was the school system. “ The county’s schools are in a crisis,” he said, “while West Rome High School is one of the finest schools in the state.” (But we already knew that!) Floyd County representatives said they would consider taking part in annexation planning if the city agreed to assume bonded indebtedness for Garden Lakes elementary (which would become a part of the Rome City Schools system), repay the county for prior payments on bonds and for the cost of the land, and assume all responsibility for road repair in Garden Lakes.

Apparently Rome was  a major player in the Georgia moonshine industry: yet another raid by state and federal alcohol tax agents (aka “revenuers”) took place on February 8th, with one still located near Burnett Ferry Road shut down in the process. More than 150 gallons of illegal whisky was confiscated and the still was destroyed.

A surprise snowfall accompanied 16 degree temperatures on the morning of February 7th, creating numerous traffic problems, including a three-car collision on Shorter Avenue near Horseleg Creek Road. School was cancelled for the day, and I’m sure the cheers of students could be heard all over West Rome… The weather improved by Wednesday, but more snow and sleet moved back in on Sunday, February 12th, wasting a perfectly good bad-weather day on a weekend when school was already closed.

Piggly Wiggly had baking hens for 33¢ a pound, orange juice for 39¢ a half-gallon, and lettuce for 15¢ a head. Kroger had pork roast for 29¢ a pound, Spotlight coffee for 55¢ a pound, and tomatoes for 19¢ a pound. A&P had pork chops for 49¢ a pound, Poss Brunswick stew for 49¢ a can, and grapefruit for 6¢ each. Big Apple had chicken livers for 39¢ a pound, Van Camp pork & beans for 20¢ a can, and Bama apple jelly for a quarter a jar. Couch’s had country ham for 49¢ a pound, eggs for 39¢ a dozen, and Couch’s store-made country sausage for 59¢ a pound.

The cinematic week began with Penelope (with Natalie Wood) at the DeSoto Theatre, The Sound of Music (with Julie Andrews) at the First Avenue, and The Wrong Box (with John Mills & Michael Caine) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switchout brought Funeral in Berlin (with Michael Caine) to the DeSoto and The Big Show (with Cliff Robertson) to the West Rome Drive-In, while Julie Andrews had apparently moved into the First Avenue Theatre to stay.

The Monkees’ “I’m a Believer” held on to the number one slot for another week. Other top ten hits included “Georgy Girl” by the Seekers (#2); “Kind of a Drag” by the Buckinghams (#3); “Ruby Tuesday” by the Rolling Stones (#4); “(We Ain’t Got) Nothin’ Yet” by the Blues Magoos (#5); “Tell It Like It Is” by Aaron Neville (#6); “98.6” by Keith (#7); “Snoopy Vs. the Red Baron” by the Royal Guardsmen (#8); “Love Is Here and Now You’re Gone” by the Supremes (#9); and “The Beat Goes On” by Sonny & Cher (#10).

Monkeemania was in full swing this week in 1967 as the Monkees took the number one and number two slots. Their new album More of the Monkees was the new number one album for the week, while their eponymous first album held on at number two.