Friday, February 09, 2018

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West rome - 2/12/1968 to 2/18/1968

The Rome News-Tribune unveiled its “new look” this week in 1968 complete with a more modular layout, sans serif headline fonts, an eight-column layout, and more. The use of higher-quality offset printing (which came about due to a multi-million dollar investment in an all-new printing facility on East Sixth Avenue, which in turn required the Rome News-Tribune’s relocation from its venerable location on Tribune Street, just behind Murphy’s Department Store) resulted in sharper, clearer photos and more vivid graphics and artwork. It’s the sort of thing that people don’t usually notice, but it was such a change from the prior old-style-newspaper look of the Rome News-Tribune that even casual readers were writing in to comment on how the paper was much easier to read in its new format. (I still remember how proud Dad was of the look of the paper; the staff had put in a lot of extra time to prepare the newspaper each day for the month prior while also approving layouts, designs, and other new look elements so that they could roll out the redesign, and he was happy that so many of our West Rome neighbors told him how good it looked.)

"Showtime 68,” a West Rome talent show jointly presented by the Chieftains Club and the Student Council, took place on Friday, February 16th, and Saturday, February 17th.  The production, directed by Mrs. Clara Ellison, featured students, teachers, and former students performing skits, comedy routines, songs,and more. Surprisingly, the first ticket sold was purchased by East Rome Gladiator Club president Gene Stewart, who bought the ticket from Chieftains Club president Dolph Kennedy to show that parents on both sides of town could appreciate student talent. 

At long last, a date for the end of Rome’s segregated school system was set. The 1968-1969 school year would be the final year in which a dual school system based on race could continue to operate for any grade level, according to the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. If the The Rome school system had until the summer of 1968 to submit a plan for total school integration; if they missed the deadline for submitting the plan or the deadline for implementing the plan, they would lose all federal education funds. 

Piggly Wiggly had JFG instant coffee for 99¢ a jar, chuck steak for 49¢ a pound, and cabbage for 9¢ a head. Kroger had sirloin steak for 89¢ a pound, carrots for 15¢ a bunch, and large eggs for 37¢ a dozen. Big Apple had spare ribs for 59¢ a pound, Bailey’s Supreme coffee for 57¢ a pound, and bananas for a dime a pound. A&P had Oscar Mayer bacon fore 59¢ a pound, grapefruit for a dime each, and Jane Parker bread for a quarter a loaf. Couch’s had store-made sausage for 59¢ a pound, Showboat chili for 29¢ a can, and Zesta saltine crackers for 25¢ a box.

The cinematic week began with Walt Disney’s The Jungle Book at the DeSoto Theatre, The Penthouse (starring Suzy Kendall) at the First Avenue, and Counterpoint (starring Charlton Heston) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switchout brought Cool Hand Luke (starring Paul Newman) to the DeSoto Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In and The Billion Dollar Brain (starring Michael Caine) to the First Avenue.

The number one song this week in 1968 wsa “Love Is Blue (L’Amour Est Bleu)” by Paul Mauriat & His Orchestra. Other top ten hits included “Green Tambourine” by the Lemon Pipers (#2); “Spooky” by the Classic IV (#3) “I Wish It Would Rain”  by the Temptations (#4); “(Theme From) The Valley of the Dolls” by Dionne Warwick (#5); “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” by Otis Redding (#6); “Goin’ Out of My Head/Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You” by the Lettermen (#7); “Nobody But Me” by the Human Beinz (#8); “Judy in Disguise (With Glasses)” by John Fred & the Playboys (#9); and “I Wonder What She’s Doing Tonight” by Tommy Boyce & Bobby Hart, who also wrote some of the Monkees’ most successful songs (#10). 

The Beatles, Donovan, Mike Love of the Beach Boys, Mia Farrow, and others headed to Rishikesh, India to join the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi at his transcendental mediation retreat this week in 1968. The influence of the Maharishi influenced popular music for several years, even though after the Beatles became disillusioned with him (even going so far as to write the song “Fool on the Hill” as a criticism of the Maharishi).

Enemy Ace, a WWI aviation comic book series inspired by Baron Von Richtofen, took over Star Spangled War Stores beginning with #138, on sale this week in 1968. The moody drama that explored nobility and honor in time of war, written by Robert Kanigher and illustrated by Joe Kubert, began in the pages of Our Army At War, then ran for two issues in the test-market book Showcase before becoming the lead feature in Star Spangled War Stories.

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