Saturday, May 19, 2018

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 5/20/1968 to 5/26/1968

Rome City Schools submitted a five-step plan to eliminate the remnants of its segregated school system before the beginning of the 1968-1969 school year. The most important aspect of the plan involved the closing of Main High School, which had been Rome’s black high school during the segregation era. Plans called for all students to be transferred to West Rome and East Rome High Schools. Initial plans, based on a proposal from the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW, the precursor to today’s Department of Education) called for the elimination of West Rome Junior High and the use of Main High School as a junior high school until East Rome Junior High could be expanded to serve as a city-wide high school. Furthermore, high school would have been redefined as grades 10 through 12, with grades 7 through 9 being designated as junior high school. West Rome residents were strongly opposed to this plan and lobbied successfully to keep West Rome Junior High as a community junior high school, stressing the benefits to West Rome to have a consistent community educational experience that allowed students to attend school in or near their own neighborhoods. (Alas, a little more than a couple of decades later, however, the Rome City School System would dismiss the benefits of neighborhood schools in favor of neighborhood big-box-retail stores, consolidating West Rome and East Rome and selling the school sites to Walmart and KMart respectively.) 

West Rome’s baseball team won the first game in the Floyd Baseball Tournament on Thursday, beating Model 9-2. The game was close until the sixth inning, when West Rome scored five runs to pull ahead 8-2; the Chiefs scored one more run in the eighth inning. West Rome went on to win the next round 4-2 against Darlington, which set the m up to take on Pepperell in the next week for the Floyd County Baseball Tournament championship.

The King’s Inn arson trial of Rome real estate agent Dwyatt Dempsey began this week in 1968, and the first motion the defense made was to exclude evidence that included gas cans found in Dempsey’s car. The judge ruled against the motion, however, and the trial got underway. (I remain amazed at how quickly cases went to trial in the 1960s; today, it would take many months, and perhaps even a year or more, to bring an arson case to trial.)

The Rome Boys Club Choir performed its annual concert on Thursday and Friday at the Rome City Auditorium. Dan Biggers of Berry College (who was no relation to me whatsoever, although I sometimes wonder if the shared last name might have worked to my benefit during my four years at Berry College!) was the master of ceremonies for the concert and Betty Hester served as assistant choir director. 

National City Bank continued its push to bring the new BankAmericard to Rome, stressing its value to retailers. For only a quarter of one percent of the sales total, retailers could take the card and get funds deposited to their account within three days of submitting the credit card slips to their bank. That made it affordable for every retail establishment to offer credit to its customers. (Oh, how happy today’s retailers would be if they could take credit cards for only .25% per transaction!)

Piggly Wiggly had shrimp for 99¢ a pound, bananas for a dime a pound, and Double Cola for 99¢ a case (plus deposit). A&P had ground beef for 39¢ a pound, tomatoes for 29¢ a pound, and Nabisco Biscoes waffle cream cookies (apparently, there is at least one kind of cookie that I don’t remember at all!) for 37¢ a box. Kroger had sirloin steak for 99¢ a pound, lettuce for 19¢ a head, and whole watermelons for 99¢. Big Apple had spare ribs for 59¢ a pound, Blue Plate mayonnaise for 39¢ a jar, and Irvindale ice cream for 49¢  a half-gallon. Couch’s had chicken livers for 49¢ a pound, Derby potted meat for a dime a can, and strawberries for 33¢ a pint. 

The cinematic week began with The Party (starring Peter Sellers) at the DeSoto Theatre, Ballad of Josie (starring Doris Day) at the First Avenue, and Carpet Baggers (starring George Peppard) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switchout brought A Stranger in Town (starring Tony Anthony) to the DeSoto, Around the World in 80 Days (starring David Niven and many, many others) to the First Avenue, and The Road Hustlers (starring Jim Davis--not the Garfield artist--and Andy Devine) to the West Rome Drive-In.

Archie Bell & the Drells took number one this week with “Tighten Up.” Other top ten hits included “Mrs. Robinson” by Simon & Garfunkel (#2); “A Beautiful Morning” by the Rascals (#3); “The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly” by Hugo Montenegro, His Chorus & Orchestra (#4); “Honey” by Bobby Goldsboro (#5); “Cowboys to Girls” by the Intruders (#6); “the Unicorn” by the Irish Rovers (#7); “Ain’t Nothin’ Like the Real Thing” by Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell (#8); “Shoo-Be-Doo-Be-Doo-Da-Day” by Stevie Wonder (#9); and “Do You Know the Way to San Jose?” by Dionne Warwick (#10). 

Simon & Garfunkel had both the number one and the number two albums this week in 1968... sort of. Their album Bookends was number one, while the soundtrack to The Graduate (which featured a number of Simon & Garfunkel songs) was number two. The Monkees, Aretha Franklin, & Herb Alpert rounded out the top five albums. 

It was a great week for new albums, with Johnny Cash’s At Folsom Prison, The Delfonics' La La Means I Love You,  The Mamas & the Papas' The Papas & the Mamas, Richard Harris's A Tramp Shining, and the eponymous Quicksilver Messenger Service all seeing release this week in 1968.

The Silver Surfer premiered in his own comic this week in 1968. Originally created by artist Jack Kirby and writer Stan Lee in the pages of Fantastic Four, the tragic Silver Surfer quickly became a fan favorite; when Marvel had an opportunity to expand its line of books in 1968, the Surfer became one of the new launches. Since Jack Kirby wasn’t available to handle the art on the 64-page comic, Marvel enlisted John Buscema to pencil the series; Fantastic Four inker Joe Sinnott finished the art to give it that FF look. 

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