Friday, February 23, 2018

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 2/26/1968 to 3/3/1968

Rome City Schools failed its initial state accreditation inspection—a relative rarity for a system the size of Rome. The problem, according to the inspectors, was with the facilities (elementary schools in particular), which were undersized, poorly maintained, and in substandard condition. The visiting committee that handled the inspection also found that most schools had inadequate counseling staff, and that more than half the schools had inadequate physical education programs and facilities. Thankfully, West Rome was not named in either of those areas, although our competitors on the east side of town were. “we knew we had a few minor weaknesses we knew we could correct,” superintendent MS McDonald said. “The study did not point out any major weaknesses except in space and sites. These must be corrected by the community by providing funds for the replacement of obsolete, overcrowded facilities and by providing for projected building plans. If Rome really wants to have top quality schools, the the must community must make a serious effort to reorganize school facilities, particularly on the elementary level.” (I was lucky enough to spend the first three years of elementary school at Garden Lakes Elementary, a relatively new and well-maintained county school. I spent the fourth grade at Elm Street, and can attest that everything the visiting committee said was true: it was too small, poorly maintained, and shoehorned into an absurdly small site. My fifth grade year was spent at the building that we later knew as West Rome Junior High, and my sixth grade year was at West End Elemetary—a new, more spacious, and well maintained site. So I know first-hand the discrepancies and inadequacies the committee criticized, as did many of us who grew up in West Rome in the 1960s.)

David Baxter Joy was named West Rome High School’s STAR Student; he selected Mrs. Elliott Evans as his STAR teacher. 

The Atlanta Chiefs came to Barron Stadium on Friday, March 2nd, in an effort to build interest in soccer, which got very little respect from US sports fans in the 1970s. Tickets were available for $2 each, with all proceeds going to the Rome Cerebral Palsy School.

Rome experienced a surprise five inch snowfall on Wednesday night, February 28th, into the morning hours of Thursday, February 29th. Schools were closed, as were most businesses, although the State Patrol said that all major roads were passable by mid-day. Power problems were reported all over the Rome area, but most power outages were restored within two hours. The Redmond Road-Shorter Avenue-Alabama Road intersection (right in front of West Rome) was a particular problem spot, with three snow-related accidents reported during the day. 75 telephone poles were brought down by snow and ice, knocking 750 lines out of commission for most of the day Thursday and part of Friday.  The snow hung around for two days, with schools closed both Thursday and Friday as a result. 

Rome and Floyd County reached an agreement to maintain a “no man’s land” road in West Rome. North Division Street, between the underpass and Redmond Road, was the subject of a dispute, since one side of the road was in the city limits and the other side was in the county. As a result, neither was willing to spend any money repairing potholes or repaving the road, making it one of the worst paved stretches of road in the area. After years of arguing, the city and the county agreed to split the cost of maintenance—a decision that was applauded by all who had to travel that stretch of road.

Piggly Wiggly had sirloin tip roast for 99¢ a pound, sauerkraut for 15¢ a can, and Lady Alice ice milk for a record low price of 29¢ a half-gallon. Kroger had fresh whole fryers for 29¢ a pound, Starkist tuna for 30¢ a can, and Libby fruit cocktail for 23¢ a can. Big Apple had Butterball turkeys for 35¢ a pound, pizza rolls for 59¢ a box, and Pillsbury canned biscuits for a nickel a can. A&P had pork roast for 69¢ a pound, tomatoes for 29¢ a pound, and Duncan Hines cake mix for a quarter a box. Couch’s had leg o’ lamb for 89¢ a pound, Van Camp’s chili for 33¢ a can, and bananas for a dime a pound. 

The cinematic week began with The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly (starring Clint Eastwood) at the DeSoto Theatre, Bonnie & Clyde (starring Faye Dunaway & Warren Beatty) at the First Avenue, and a double feature of Born Losers (starring Tom Laughlin as the half-Indian Green Beret Vietnam vet Billy Jack) and the marijuana shocksploitation film Mary Jane (starring Fabian) at the West Rome Drive-In. Both The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly  and Bonnie & Clyde hung around for the last half of the week, while the West Rome Drive-in brought in The Biggest Bundle of Them All (starring Raquel Welch and Robert Wagner).

Paul Mauriat’s Orchestra held on to the number one slot for a second week with “Love Is Blue (L’Amous Est Bleu).” Other top ten hits included “(Theme from) The Valley of the Dolls” by Dionne Warwick (#2); “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” by Otis Redding (#3); “I Wish It Would Rain” by the Temptations (#4); “Simon Says” by the 1910 Fruitgum Co. (#5); “ Spooky” by the Classics IV (#6); “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)” by the First Edition--the first top ten hit for Kenny Rogers, who was the lead vocalist for the First Edition (#7); “I Wonder What She’s Doing Tonight” by Tommy Boyce & Bobby Hart (#8); “Bottle of Wine” by the Fireballs (#9); and “Everything That Touches You” by the Association (#10). 

The musical news this week in 1968 was mixed. Frankie Lymon, lead singer of the doo-wop group Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers, died from a heroine overdose on February 27th, while Johnny Cash and June Carter tied the knot in Franklin, Kentucky on March 1st. 

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