Friday, April 13, 2018

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 4/14/1968 to 4/21/1968

The Board of Regents finally gave into local pressure to build a junior college in the Rome-Floyd County area, agreeing to let Rome and Floyd County voters make the final decision. Since local funds would be required to assist in construction, the voters would have to approve the $1.25 million expenditure. Rome saw the approval as a victory, since survey showed significant local support for the school. 

After several months of burglaries that involved using tools to break into the back door or the roof of a business, thieves took things to the next level on April 15th when they broke into the JAG store on Hwy 27 North by driving a truck through the side door of the business, causing considerable damage to the door and to the surrounding wall. The thieves made off with a significant quantity of clothing, which they apparently loaded into the truck before driving away.

The Chieftains garnered ten first place wins on Monday in a three-way track meet against Armuchee and Cedartown, leading to a 111-45-12 victory for West Rome. Roger Weaver won two first places as a sprinter, and also ran a leg on West Rome’s relay team. Xavier Smith was also a double winner, taking first in high jump and high hurdles. The Chiefs did less well in their Wednesday match against Lafayette, however, losing 69-67. Mike Johnson hurt has back in the hundred-yard dash and had to be scratched from the 220; had he been able to run, he was expected to pick up the win, which would have made the Chieftains victorious. 

West Rome’s baseball team had an inauspicious week, losing 5-0 to Calhoun. Billy Bray and Richard Wood were the only Chieftain players to get a hit in the game, with each getting a single.

The next evening, thieves cut off phone service to Summerville when they stole hundreds of feet of copper phone line near Taylors Ridge. The phone company estimated that the thieves made off without about $25 worth of copper, but caused about $10,000 worth of damage in doing so. 

Coosa Valley Book Shop, a favorite of mine since I first discovered their cache of Edgar Rice Burroughs books in 1965, completed the move from their old Tribune Street location to East Third this week in 1968. I loved the store because they were so much more than an average used bookstore; Mrs. John Grigsby, the driving force behind the store, had an amazing array of 18th and 19th century hardcover volumes in stock as well as the usual array of more recent used paperbacks and a large assortment of used comics for half-price. The move more than doubled the store’s square footage, which meant that they were the largest bookstore in Rome. It also meant that, for a brief while, the square block on Broad Street between East Third and East Fourth was Rome’s bookstore haven, with Liberty Newsstand, Reader’s Den, and Coosa Valley Books all within a few hundred feet of one another.

Kroger had round steak for 89¢ a pound, strawberries for 33¢ a pint, and a five-pound bag of sugar for 35¢. A&P had grond beef for 45¢ a pound, Dinty Moore beef stew for 55¢ a can, and oranges for a dime each. Piggly Wiggly had picnic ham for 33¢ a pound, corn for 6¢ an ear, and Bama jelly for a quarter a jar. Big Apple had chicken breasts for 47¢ a pound, Luzianne coffee for 49¢ a pound, and carrots for a dime a bunch. Couch’s had lamb roast for 49¢ a pound, Nabisco saltines for 37¢ a box, and locally-sourced medium eggs for 33¢ a dozen. 

The Donut Shack expanded to three locations in Rome: on Shorter Avenue across from the Burger King, on Martha Berry Highway near the underpass, and on North Broad Street. (Owner Liilian Crane spent a few years working at Conn’s, home of the best donuts in Rome, prior to launching her own donut shops.)

The cinematic week began with Walt Disney’s Blackbeard’s Ghost (starring Peter Ustinov) at the DeSoto Theatre, The Graduate (starring Dustin Hoffman & Ann Bancroft) at the First Avenue, and Texas Across the River (starring Dean Martin) at the West Rome Drive-In. Blackbeard’s Ghost and The Graduate hung around for another week, while the West Rome Drive-In brought in Five Million Years to Earth (starring James Donald & Andrew Kerr). 

Bobby Goldsboro took the number one slot this week in 1968 with “Honey.” Other top ten hits included “Young Girl” by Gary Puckett & the Union Gap (#2); “Cry Like a Baby” by the Box Tops (#3); “Lady Madonna” by the Beatles (#4); “(Sweet Sweet Baby) Since You’ve Been Gone” by Aretha Franklin (#5); “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” by Otis Redding (#6); “The Ballad of Bonnie & Clyde” by Georgie Fame (#7); “Dance to the Music” by Sly and the Family Stone (#8); “I Got the Feelin’” by James Brown & the Famous Flames (#9); and “Mighty Quinn (Quinn the Eskimo)” by Manfred Mann (#10). 

The three-season run of I Spy, the show starring Robert Culp and Bill Cosby as spies who used professional tennis as their cover, came to an end on April 15th. The show was well written and had a first-rate cast, but it never managed to appeal to the spy audience who loved James Bond films and The Man from UNCLE.

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