Friday, June 22, 2018

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 6/24/1968 to 6/30/1968

Rome set a temperature record on Friday morning, June 28th, with a low of 48 degrees--and this was not just a record low for Rome, but for the entire state of Georgia! The cool wave was short-lived, though, with temperatures climbing to 84 degrees by Friday afternoon.

The Rome City School System received a state grant of $13,815 for use in the system's special education program. The director of the program, West Rome High School's very own Dick McPhee, said that almost half the money would go to classes for developmentally disabled students, while the rest would go for supplies and evaluation testing for the special education program.

The school board announced that, beginning with the 1968-1969 school year, all incoming first-graders would have to have proof of immunization before they could start school in Rome. Failure of parents to have their children immunized was a misdemeanor. The complete panel of immunizations included measles, smallpox, polio, diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough; in addition, incoming students were required to have a tuberculosis test. All parents could get those immunizations free of charge at the Floyd County Health Department.

The Regional Health Advisory Council determined that Rome had an acute shortage of hospital beds in 1968. Based on the population of the service area at the distance to the next hospital, the Council said that Floyd Hospital should have at least 500 beds and a complete coronary intensive care unit; however in 1968, the hospital had only 260 beds and no dedicated coronary unit at all. Representatives for the hospital said that it would take them at least five years to secure funding to begin implementation of the Council's recommendations. There was one surprise, though: the hospital finished May 1968 with a revenue excess of $7,400, which brought 1968's revenue surplus to $46,000; I don't recall ever hearing of a hospital finishing in the black in my adult life.

Rome had a pub? I was too young to know of such things, but apparently The Lions Head Pub ("Ye Olde English Beer & Ale Tavern) was located in the Forrest Motor Hotel in Downtown Rome, bringing a British touch to Rome in 1968. (It strikes me as truly odd that Rome would have a pub at all--and it's also odd that, considering my interest in all things British in 1968, I was unaware that the Lions Head existed. The pub's beverages would not have appealed to me, since I have never been a drinker, but the presence of something faux-British should have caught my attention...)

Piggly Wiggly had Swift's premium hams for 49¢ a pound, yellow corn for a nickel an ear, and Butternut Coffee for 68¢ a pound. Kroger had spareribs for 59¢ a pound, Georgia peaches for 15¢ a pound, Double Cola for 88¢ a case (plus deposit). A&P had turkey for 39¢ a pound, Bama apple jelly for 29¢ a jar (and when you ate it all, you could use the jar as a drinking glass!), and watermelons for 79¢ each. Big Apple had fresh whole fryers for a quarter ra pound, Aristocrat ice milk for 39¢ a half-gallon, and bell peppers for a dime each. Couch's had leg o' lamb for 89¢ a pound, squash for a dime a pound, and Van Camp's pork & beans for 17¢ a can.

The cinematic week began with Speedway (starring Elvis Presley) at the DeSoto Theatre, Planet of the Apes (starring Charlton Heston) at the First Avenue, and Guns for Sabastian (starring Anthony Quinn) at the West Rome Drive-In.  The midweek switchout brought  Devil's Brigade (starring William Holden) to the DeSoto and and one of the strangest films I've run across in my six years of "Fifty Years Ago" reporting, The Mini-Skirt Mob ("Come and get it if you're man enough... They're hog straddling female animals on the prowl," starring Diane McBain) at the West Rome Drive-In, while those damn dirty apes hung around for another week at the First Avenue.

Herb Alpert (sans the Tijuana Brass) climbed to number one this week with "This Guty's In Love With You." Other top ten hits included "The Horse" by Cliff Nobles & 'Co. (#2); "MacArthur Park" by Richard Harris (#3); "Yummy Yummy Yummy" by the Ohio Express (#4); "The Look of Love" by Sergio Mendes & the Brasil '66 (#5); "Mony Mony" by Tommy James & the Shondells (#6); "Angel of the Morning" by Merrilee Rush & the Turnabouts (#7); "Think "by Aretha Franklin (#8); "Here Comes the Judge" by Shorty Long, inspire by the Laugh-In skit (#9); and "Reach Out of the Darkness" by Friend & Lover (#10).

And what a week it was for fresh new music: June 29th saw the release of debut albums by the Steve Miller Band (Children of the Future), Fairport Convention (Fairport Convention), Spooky Tooth (It's All About), The Pentangle (The Pentangle), and Randy Newman (Randy Newman), as well as the second album by Pink Floyd (A Saucerful of Secrets). That's a very diverse list of albums--but then again, 1968 was a year of very diverse music!

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