Friday, May 25, 2018

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 5/27/1968 to 6/2/1968

Rome police officers raided Shorter Heights Drive-In at 414 Shorter Avenue on Tuesday night and arrested thirteen Rome residents (ten from West Rome) for illegal gambling. An assortment of gaming paraphernalia was seized, along with a sophisticated electronic warning system designed to allow the bartender to alert the gamblers that authorities were on the way. The drive-in’s beer license was suspended along with their business license until the case could be tried. 

Memorial Day was observed on Thursday, May 30th (the holiday had not yet been moved to the fourth Monday in May); while most federal and state facilities were closed in observance of the holiday, US District Court continued to hear cases on that date, state and local offices were open, and school was still in session. (It would be years more before all government agencies and schools would close in observance of Memorial Day.)

School came to an end on Friday, May 31st, for Rome City Schools students (although the county school system would continue for another week). Seniors ended their week on Wednesday, May 29th to give teachers time to grade finals and determine who would graduate and who wouldn't; graduation was scheduled for Saturday, June 1st.

The city of Rome went to court to force Southern Railway to remove its outdated overpass on Shorter Avenue near the Marine Corps Reserve facility. The railroad link was discontinued and the tracks were removed in 1965, but Southern Railway did nothing to remove the overpass itself. Southern Railway was trying to use the underpass as a bargaining chip to get the city to cover costs for a grade crossing and warning signals near Southern’s main depot. These costs were typically covered by the railroad, not the city, so the city rejected the proposal and went to court to force Southern to remove an unused eyesore and a traffic bottleneck.

Wednesday evening thunderstorms spawned a tornado that skipped over the lower end of Horseleg Creek Road before touching down again in the north Rome area. One mobile home on Wayside Road was destroyed by the tornado, and several other homes sustained roof damage. 

Kay’s Kastles celebrated its grand opening in the Gala Shopping Center (also known as the Big K Shopping Center), right across the street from West Rome High School. During the grand opening, the offered a half-gallon of their ice cream for only 79¢, a dime off the regular price. Kay’s Kastles advertised that they had ten delicious flavors of ice cream--and while that may not sound like a lot right now, that was two more flavors than the eight flavors that our very own Candler’s Drugs offered!

Piggly Wiggly had smoked ham for 49¢ a pound, yellow corn for 8¢ an ear, and Chase & Sanborn coffee for 69¢ a can. Kroger had round steak for 89¢ a pound, Irvindale ice milk for 33¢ a half-gallon, and canned biscuits for 6¢ a can. Big Apple had sirloin steak for 89¢ a pound, tomatoes for 25¢ a pound, and Blue Plate ketchup for 33¢ a bottle. A&P had fresh whole fryers for 29¢ a pound, strawberries for 39¢ a pint, and Ann Page bread for 24¢ a loaf. Couch’s had Beaver’s wieners for 49¢ a pound (I don’t make up these names, I just report ‘em), Nabisco saltines for 37¢ a box, and a three-pound jar of JFG peanut butter for $1.29.

The cinematic week began with A Stranger in Town (starring Tony Anthony) at the DeSoto Theatre, Around the World in 80 Days (starring David Niven) at the First Avenue, and The Road Hustlers (starring Jim Davis) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switchout brought Yours, Mine, & Ours (starring Lucille Ball & Henry Fonda) to the DeSoto, Sweet November (starring Sandy Dennis) at the First Avenue, and Wild In the Streets (starring Shelly Winters) at the West Rome Drive-In.

Simon & Garfunkel took the number one slot this week in 1968 with “Mrs. Robinson.” Other top ten hits included “The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly” by Hugo Montenegro, His Orchestra, & Chorus (#2); “A Beautiful Morning” by the Rascals (#3); “Tighten Up” by Archie Bell & the Drells” (#4); “Honey” by Bobby Goldsboro (#5); “Yummy Yummy Yummy” by the Ohio Express (#6); “Mony Mony” by Tommy James & the Shondells (#7); “Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing” by Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell (#8); “Cowboys to Girls” by the Intruders (#9); and “Do You Know the Way to San Jose?” by Dionne Warwick (#10). 

Meanwhile, over in the UK, the Beatles began recording songs for what would eventually become The Beatles (better known as The White Album); the sessions would run through the summer and into the fall, wrapping up in early October so that the double album could be released in November in time for the Christmas season (lots of us got albums as Christmas gifts back in the 1960s, after all!).

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