Friday, June 29, 2018

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 7/1/1968 to 7/7/1968

Georgia's economy was doing so well that tax collection was running 2% above the most ambitious estimates for the year, thanks in large parts to "higher wages that produce higher income taxes, healthy increases in sales taxes, and unexpected surges in license fees," state budget officer Wilson Wilkes said. He said that at the current rates, Georgia would finish the year with a 2%-3% budget surplus that could be carried forward to future years.  On the local level, the news was good as well, with both the city of Rome and Floyd County reporting revenue increases; Rome was optimistic that they might be able to slightly reduce the millage rate for property taxes because of the general increase in city revenues.

The Federal Department of Health, Education, and Welfare approved Rome's desegregation plans for the 1968-1969 school year, which meant that Rome would continue to qualify for federal funds. Under the approved plans, Main High School would be eliminated (9th and 10th grades would be cut in the 68-69 school year, 11th and 12th grades in the 69-70 school year), while Mary T. Banks would be gradually phased out. All students at these schools would be allowed to choose whether to attend East or West Rome. The city was also finalizing plans to ask citizens of Rome whether they wanted to keep two high schools, or to close both East and West Rome and create a new high school for Romans that would be located outside of the area traditionally considered East Rome or West Rome. (As we know now, that plan did eventually come to pass, but it took Walmart and Kmart rather than a referendum to make it happen.)

Georgia was such a Democratic enclave in the 1960s that the Republicans didn't even hold a statewide primary until 1968. On July 5th, the Republicans announced plans for a statewide primary October as well as a city primary to nominate candidates for the Rome City Commission.

West Rome continued to grow at a very fast pace, which necessitated an expansion fo the West Rome Fire Station. West Rome's Engine Company 5 was joined by a new truck, Engine Company 6, to provide extra production to the fastest-growing area of Rome and Floyd County. The size of the fire department remains the same, however, as Engine Company 6 was made up of members of the former Engine Company 8, stationed in South Rome; with the decline in population in that area, the city decided it was time to move the engine company to West Rome, which was where the people were!

Rome expanded its surplus food distribution program to three days; the program offered Romans an assortment of food items, including grape juice, dehydrated potatoes, prune juice, apricot nectar, canned tomatoes, canned whole chicken, scrambled egg mix, and assorted vegetables. The free food was available to any women whose last name began with A-H on Tuesday; I-P on Wednesday; and Q-Z on Thursday. (Okay, it might not be the greatest selection of food--but it was absolutely free to any and all who wanted it, which is pretty amazing when you think about it!)

Piggly Wiggly had fresh whole fryers for 26¢ a pound, pole beans for 25¢ a pound, and large eggs for 39¢ a dozen. A&P had ground beef for 39¢ a pound, Marvel ice milk for 49¢ a half-gallon, and large watermelons for 79¢ each. Kroger has sirloin steak for 99¢ a pound, tomatoes for 29¢ a pound, and Oscar Mayer hot dogs for 49¢ a pack. Big Apple had picnic ham for 29¢ a pound, bananas  for a dime a pound, and Coca Cola/Tab/Sprite/Fresca for 29¢ a carton plus deposit. Couch's had Cudahy Bar-S bacon for 49¢ a pound, Sealtest ice cream for 49¢ a half-gallon, and Duke's mayonnaise for 39¢ a quart.

The cinematic week began with Devil's Brigade (starring William Holden) at the DeSoto Theatre, Planet of the Apes (starring Charlton Heston) at the First Avenue, and Mini-Skirt Mob (starring no one memorable) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switchout brought The Odd Couple (starring Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau) to the DeSoto, Custer of the West (starring Robert Shaw) to the First Avenue, and For A Few Dollars More (starring Clint Eastwood) to the West Rome Drive-In.

Herb Alpert took the number one slot this week in 1968 with "This Guy's In Love With You." Other top ten hits included "The Horse" by Cliff Nobles & Co. (#2); "Jumpin' Jack Flash" by the Rolling Stones (#3); "The Look of Love" by Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66 (#4); "Grazing in the Grass" by Hugh Masekela, one of the best cowbell songs of all time (#5); "Lady Willpower" by Gary Puckett & the Union Gap (#6); "Angel of the Morning" by Merrilee Rush & the Turnabouts (#7); "Here Comes the Judge" by Shorty Long (#8); "MacArthur Park" by Richard Harris (#9); and "Reach Out of the Darkness" by Friend & Lover (#10).

Jim Steranko, one of the most innovative and influential artists and storytellers of the 1960s, said farewell to his signature series, Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD, with the release of the fifth issue this week in 1968. Steranko would continue to provide cover art for two more issues, but his groundbreaking interior art ended here, much to the dismay of those who had fallen in love with his trendsetting work on the series in both its Strange Tales run and its solo series.

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