Sunday, January 21, 2018

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 1/22/1968 to 1/28/1968

The four-laning of Lavender Drive and Redmond Circle from Shorter Avenue (near the West Rome Baptist Church) to Alabama Road (in front of West Rome High School) was put on hold yet again because of a delay in federal funds. The road was first put on the schedule in 1963 and should have been finished by 1965, but numerous delays in federal funds put the project way behind schedule. According to  the state highway department, the widening was now scheduled for completion by the end of 1968, with state funds completing the project if federal funds continued to be delayed. The expansion was needed because of the expansion of manufacturing and industrial facilities along Lavender Drive and Redmond Circle.

Some kids engage in petty shoplifting, but not these guys: two sixteen-year-old juveniles were arrested on Monday, January 22nd, after stealing seven tons of iron from the Rome Speedway on Chulio Road. They were caught when they tried to sell  the iron to a scrapyard. They were charged with felony theft and turned over to juvenile authorities.

Rome’s safecrackers were back in action on Wednesday night, January 24th, cracking open a safe at Cardinal Glove Company and stealing approximately $150. According to a Cardinal spokesman, the damage to the safe exceed the value of the cash stolen.

Taxes were apparently much simpler in 1968: H&R Block advertised that they would prepare both federal and state income tax forms for $5 for a basic form with no additional attached schedules. Adjusting for inflation, that’s about $37.50 in today’s dollars—and I challenge you to find any tax preparation company that routinely does federal and state forms for a total price that low!

Piggly Wiggly had chuck roast for 39¢ a pound, Maxwell House coffee for 59¢ a pound, and lettuce for 16¢ a head. Kroger had five pounds of sugar for 39¢, whole smoked hams for 49¢ a pound, and Bama apple jelly for 25¢ a jar.. Big Apple had sirloin steak for 89¢ pound,   pears for 15¢ a pound, and Land o’ Lakes butter for 69¢ a pound. A&P had rib roast for 85¢ a pound, Castleberry beef stew for 35¢ a can, and a five-pound Morton frozen pies for 39¢ each. Couch’s had roasting chickens for 29¢ a pound, Showboat pork & beans for 19¢ a can, and bananas for a dime a pound.

The cinematic week began with Valley of the Dolls (satrring Susan Hayward) at the DeSoto Theatre, The Games (starring Simone Signoret) at the First Avenue Theatre, and A Man Called Dagger (starring Jan Murray) at the West Rome Drive-In (yes, comedian Jan Murray starred in a spy film!). The midweek switchout brought The Wicked Dreams of Paula Schultz (with Elke Sommer) to the First Avenue and You Only Live Twice (starring Sean Connery as James Bond) to the West Rome Drive-In, while The Valley of the Dolls hung around for another week at the DeSoto.

The week in 1968, Iron Butterfly released their first album, Heavy. This fine example of rock psychedelia revealed early elements of the group’s sound that would develop more fully in their next album, In-a-Gadda-da-Vida. This was also the week that the first Spirit album was released. Randy California’s guitar riff on the song “Taurus” proved to be so catchy that Led Zeppelin borrowed it a few years later for their song “Stairway to Heaven” (and there’s no doubt that Led Zep knew the song, since they opened for Spirit in their 1968 American tour).

It was the beginning of the end of the spy era in American entertainment: The Man from UNCLE aired its final episode this week in 1968. The show, influenced by the James Bond films, was actually built around concepts developed by Bond creator Ian Fleming.

But it was also the beginning of something quite unexpected: a zany, fast-cut, vaudeville-influenced comedy series named after its two hosts, Dan Rowan and Dick Martin. Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In premiered this week in 1968, and quickly became a popular culture phenomenon, contributing such catch phrases  as “sock it to me,” “here come the judge,” and “you bet your bippy,” among many others. Arte Johnson, Judy Carne, Joanne Worley, Henry Gibson, Ruth Buzzi, Goldie Hawn—these were just a few of the members of the ensemble cast who became media darlings because of their roles in Laugh-In.

Steve Ditko, who had left Marvel in 1967, made his DC debut this week in 1968. Ditko introduced his new character The Creeper in Showcase #73; The Creeper would go on to star in his own short-lived series, although Ditko would depart a few months after the book’s launch.

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