Friday, February 23, 2018

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 2/26/1968 to 3/3/1968

Rome City Schools failed its initial state accreditation inspection—a relative rarity for a system the size of Rome. The problem, according to the inspectors, was with the facilities (elementary schools in particular), which were undersized, poorly maintained, and in substandard condition. The visiting committee that handled the inspection also found that most schools had inadequate counseling staff, and that more than half the schools had inadequate physical education programs and facilities. Thankfully, West Rome was not named in either of those areas, although our competitors on the east side of town were. “we knew we had a few minor weaknesses we knew we could correct,” superintendent MS McDonald said. “The study did not point out any major weaknesses except in space and sites. These must be corrected by the community by providing funds for the replacement of obsolete, overcrowded facilities and by providing for projected building plans. If Rome really wants to have top quality schools, the the must community must make a serious effort to reorganize school facilities, particularly on the elementary level.” (I was lucky enough to spend the first three years of elementary school at Garden Lakes Elementary, a relatively new and well-maintained county school. I spent the fourth grade at Elm Street, and can attest that everything the visiting committee said was true: it was too small, poorly maintained, and shoehorned into an absurdly small site. My fifth grade year was spent at the building that we later knew as West Rome Junior High, and my sixth grade year was at West End Elemetary—a new, more spacious, and well maintained site. So I know first-hand the discrepancies and inadequacies the committee criticized, as did many of us who grew up in West Rome in the 1960s.)

David Baxter Joy was named West Rome High School’s STAR Student; he selected Mrs. Elliott Evans as his STAR teacher. 

The Atlanta Chiefs came to Barron Stadium on Friday, March 2nd, in an effort to build interest in soccer, which got very little respect from US sports fans in the 1970s. Tickets were available for $2 each, with all proceeds going to the Rome Cerebral Palsy School.

Rome experienced a surprise five inch snowfall on Wednesday night, February 28th, into the morning hours of Thursday, February 29th. Schools were closed, as were most businesses, although the State Patrol said that all major roads were passable by mid-day. Power problems were reported all over the Rome area, but most power outages were restored within two hours. The Redmond Road-Shorter Avenue-Alabama Road intersection (right in front of West Rome) was a particular problem spot, with three snow-related accidents reported during the day. 75 telephone poles were brought down by snow and ice, knocking 750 lines out of commission for most of the day Thursday and part of Friday.  The snow hung around for two days, with schools closed both Thursday and Friday as a result. 

Rome and Floyd County reached an agreement to maintain a “no man’s land” road in West Rome. North Division Street, between the underpass and Redmond Road, was the subject of a dispute, since one side of the road was in the city limits and the other side was in the county. As a result, neither was willing to spend any money repairing potholes or repaving the road, making it one of the worst paved stretches of road in the area. After years of arguing, the city and the county agreed to split the cost of maintenance—a decision that was applauded by all who had to travel that stretch of road.

Piggly Wiggly had sirloin tip roast for 99¢ a pound, sauerkraut for 15¢ a can, and Lady Alice ice milk for a record low price of 29¢ a half-gallon. Kroger had fresh whole fryers for 29¢ a pound, Starkist tuna for 30¢ a can, and Libby fruit cocktail for 23¢ a can. Big Apple had Butterball turkeys for 35¢ a pound, pizza rolls for 59¢ a box, and Pillsbury canned biscuits for a nickel a can. A&P had pork roast for 69¢ a pound, tomatoes for 29¢ a pound, and Duncan Hines cake mix for a quarter a box. Couch’s had leg o’ lamb for 89¢ a pound, Van Camp’s chili for 33¢ a can, and bananas for a dime a pound. 

The cinematic week began with The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly (starring Clint Eastwood) at the DeSoto Theatre, Bonnie & Clyde (starring Faye Dunaway & Warren Beatty) at the First Avenue, and a double feature of Born Losers (starring Tom Laughlin as the half-Indian Green Beret Vietnam vet Billy Jack) and the marijuana shocksploitation film Mary Jane (starring Fabian) at the West Rome Drive-In. Both The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly  and Bonnie & Clyde hung around for the last half of the week, while the West Rome Drive-in brought in The Biggest Bundle of Them All (starring Raquel Welch and Robert Wagner).

Paul Mauriat’s Orchestra held on to the number one slot for a second week with “Love Is Blue (L’Amous Est Bleu).” Other top ten hits included “(Theme from) The Valley of the Dolls” by Dionne Warwick (#2); “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” by Otis Redding (#3); “I Wish It Would Rain” by the Temptations (#4); “Simon Says” by the 1910 Fruitgum Co. (#5); “ Spooky” by the Classics IV (#6); “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)” by the First Edition--the first top ten hit for Kenny Rogers, who was the lead vocalist for the First Edition (#7); “I Wonder What She’s Doing Tonight” by Tommy Boyce & Bobby Hart (#8); “Bottle of Wine” by the Fireballs (#9); and “Everything That Touches You” by the Association (#10). 


The musical news this week in 1968 was mixed. Frankie Lymon, lead singer of the doo-wop group Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers, died from a heroine overdose on February 27th, while Johnny Cash and June Carter tied the knot in Franklin, Kentucky on March 1st. 

Friday, February 16, 2018

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 2/19/1968 to 2/25/1968

Rome’s burglars were back in action in the early morning hours of February 19th, breaking into four businesses, including Floyd County Lanes on North Elm Street, Mobley Furniture Store, North Rome Methodist Church, and Gresham Auto Parts. In every case, burglars broke into vending machines and ransacked offices looking for cash. The total amount of cash stolen exceeded $350; damage to the various locations pushed losses above the $2000 mark.

Two days later, a mysterious fire caused extensive damage to the Coosa Valley Furniture Company at 632 Shorter Avenue. Investigators found three milk bottles filled with a flammable liquid at the place where the fire began, leading them to conclude that the fire was arson. Police and fire authorities said that they had no immediate suspects, but investigations would continue. 

West Rome’s girls basketball team defeated Cedartown 41-37 in the first game of the region 6-AA tournament on Tuesday night, but the Chieftains' joy was short-lived, as the the boys lost their game 54-39 against East Rome on the same night, knocking them out of the single-elimination tournament.  Debbie Poarch was the high scorer for the girls, while Mike Day was the high scorer for the boys with 12 pints. 

A surprise cold snap brought lows of 14 degrees to Rome on Thursday morning, with Thursday afternoon highs never making it above freezing. Thankfully, there was no snow in Rome to accompany tdhe very cold weather, but areas in Central Georgia weren’t so lucky. Rome got its blast of frozen precipitation two days later as the front moved back north, bringing a mixture of sleet and snow Friday night and Saturday morning. Lows fell into the 20s over the weekend, with highs barely topping the freezing mark. 

The cinematic week began with Cool Hand Luke (starring Paul Newman) at the DeSoto Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In and Billion Dollar Brain (starring Michael Caine) at the First Avenue Theatre. The midweek switchout brought The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (starring Clint Eastwood) to the DeSoto Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In and Bonnie & Clyde (starring Warren Beatty & Faye Dunaway) to the First Avenue. 

Piggly Wiggly had chicken breasts for 49¢ a pound, ten-pound bags of potatoes for 39¢, and three pounds of Swift’s shortening for 64¢. Big Apple had sirloin steak for 87¢ a pound, Campbell’s tomato soup for 13£ a can, and 2 pounds of Kraft’s Velveeta cheese for 95¢. A&P had shank portion hams for 29¢ a pound, Eight O’Clock coffee for 49¢ a pound, and Poss Brunswick stew for 49¢ a can. Kroger had pork chops for 49¢ a pound, Kroger white bread for 18¢ a loaf, and bananas for a dime a pound. Couch’s had T-bone steak for $1.08 a pound, Morton’s pot pies for 18¢ each, and large brown eggs for 39¢ a dozen. 

“Love Is Blue (L’Amous Est Bleu) by Paul Mauriat & His Orchestra took the number one position this week in 1968. Other top ten hits included “(Theme from) Valley of the Dolls” by Dionne Warwick (#2); “Spooky” by the Classics IV (#3); “I Wish It Would Rain” by the Temptations (#4); “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” by Otis Redding (#5); “Simon Says” by the 1910 Fruitgum Company (#6); “Green Tambourine” by the Lemon Pipers (#7); “I Wonder What She’s Doing Tonight” by Tommy Boyce & Bobby Hart (#8); “Goin’ Out of My Head/Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” by the Lettermen (#9); and “Nobody But Me” by the Human Beinz (#10). 

Fleetwood Mac released their first album this week in 1966, but it was a blues-based album very different from the 1970s vocal-driven sound that most associate with the group. The week also saw the release fo The Beat Goes On by Vanilla Fudge, the group’s most ambitious album; and the Mason Williams Phonograph Record, which featured the mega-hit song “Classical Gas.”


Fred Rogers put on his red sweater on NET Television (the precursor to PBS) for the first time on February 19th for the premiere of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood

Friday, February 09, 2018

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West rome - 2/12/1968 to 2/18/1968

The Rome News-Tribune unveiled its “new look” this week in 1968 complete with a more modular layout, sans serif headline fonts, an eight-column layout, and more. The use of higher-quality offset printing (which came about due to a multi-million dollar investment in an all-new printing facility on East Sixth Avenue, which in turn required the Rome News-Tribune’s relocation from its venerable location on Tribune Street, just behind Murphy’s Department Store) resulted in sharper, clearer photos and more vivid graphics and artwork. It’s the sort of thing that people don’t usually notice, but it was such a change from the prior old-style-newspaper look of the Rome News-Tribune that even casual readers were writing in to comment on how the paper was much easier to read in its new format. (I still remember how proud Dad was of the look of the paper; the staff had put in a lot of extra time to prepare the newspaper each day for the month prior while also approving layouts, designs, and other new look elements so that they could roll out the redesign, and he was happy that so many of our West Rome neighbors told him how good it looked.)

"Showtime 68,” a West Rome talent show jointly presented by the Chieftains Club and the Student Council, took place on Friday, February 16th, and Saturday, February 17th.  The production, directed by Mrs. Clara Ellison, featured students, teachers, and former students performing skits, comedy routines, songs,and more. Surprisingly, the first ticket sold was purchased by East Rome Gladiator Club president Gene Stewart, who bought the ticket from Chieftains Club president Dolph Kennedy to show that parents on both sides of town could appreciate student talent. 

At long last, a date for the end of Rome’s segregated school system was set. The 1968-1969 school year would be the final year in which a dual school system based on race could continue to operate for any grade level, according to the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. If the The Rome school system had until the summer of 1968 to submit a plan for total school integration; if they missed the deadline for submitting the plan or the deadline for implementing the plan, they would lose all federal education funds. 

Piggly Wiggly had JFG instant coffee for 99¢ a jar, chuck steak for 49¢ a pound, and cabbage for 9¢ a head. Kroger had sirloin steak for 89¢ a pound, carrots for 15¢ a bunch, and large eggs for 37¢ a dozen. Big Apple had spare ribs for 59¢ a pound, Bailey’s Supreme coffee for 57¢ a pound, and bananas for a dime a pound. A&P had Oscar Mayer bacon fore 59¢ a pound, grapefruit for a dime each, and Jane Parker bread for a quarter a loaf. Couch’s had store-made sausage for 59¢ a pound, Showboat chili for 29¢ a can, and Zesta saltine crackers for 25¢ a box.

The cinematic week began with Walt Disney’s The Jungle Book at the DeSoto Theatre, The Penthouse (starring Suzy Kendall) at the First Avenue, and Counterpoint (starring Charlton Heston) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switchout brought Cool Hand Luke (starring Paul Newman) to the DeSoto Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In and The Billion Dollar Brain (starring Michael Caine) to the First Avenue.

The number one song this week in 1968 wsa “Love Is Blue (L’Amour Est Bleu)” by Paul Mauriat & His Orchestra. Other top ten hits included “Green Tambourine” by the Lemon Pipers (#2); “Spooky” by the Classic IV (#3) “I Wish It Would Rain”  by the Temptations (#4); “(Theme From) The Valley of the Dolls” by Dionne Warwick (#5); “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” by Otis Redding (#6); “Goin’ Out of My Head/Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You” by the Lettermen (#7); “Nobody But Me” by the Human Beinz (#8); “Judy in Disguise (With Glasses)” by John Fred & the Playboys (#9); and “I Wonder What She’s Doing Tonight” by Tommy Boyce & Bobby Hart, who also wrote some of the Monkees’ most successful songs (#10). 

The Beatles, Donovan, Mike Love of the Beach Boys, Mia Farrow, and others headed to Rishikesh, India to join the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi at his transcendental mediation retreat this week in 1968. The influence of the Maharishi influenced popular music for several years, even though after the Beatles became disillusioned with him (even going so far as to write the song “Fool on the Hill” as a criticism of the Maharishi).

Enemy Ace, a WWI aviation comic book series inspired by Baron Von Richtofen, took over Star Spangled War Stores beginning with #138, on sale this week in 1968. The moody drama that explored nobility and honor in time of war, written by Robert Kanigher and illustrated by Joe Kubert, began in the pages of Our Army At War, then ran for two issues in the test-market book Showcase before becoming the lead feature in Star Spangled War Stories.

Friday, February 02, 2018

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 2/5/1968 to 2/11/1968

The Rome City Commission clarified and revised ordinances involving mobile homes within the city limits. The commission had considered a proposal to ban mobile homes within the city except for those owned by the resident or a relative of the resident and located on private property. The public outcry against this, both from those who already owned and rented mobile homes and those who rented and lived in them, convinced the city to reconsider. Under the new rules, the city would allow the rental of mobile homes to third parties once an application was filed with the city and a fee was paid; this ordinance would also allow all existing trailer parks and existing rental trailers to continue operation as usual, including a few that were within the West Rome School district. 

Rome got a dusting of snow on Wednesday night as temperatures fell to the low 20s. The snow wasn’t enough to close schools, although areas south of us got much more snow, with school closings reported from metro Atlanta all the way to Savannah.

Marc Maslanka was awarded the rank of Eagle Scout this week in 1968. Maslanka, a freshman at West Rome High School, became a tenderfoot scout in 1965; he went on to serve in various leadership capacities within the troop, including patrol leader and instructor of new scouts. Maslanka’s Eagle Scout badge was presented to him by his mother at a meeting of Scout Troop 55; his father, grandparents, friends, and fellow scouts were also present for the award. Other scouts presented with  a variety of achievement badges at the ceremony included Chieftains Ivan Rutherford, Brad Durham, Bob Washington, Robert Ayers, Alan Ware, David Payne, Mike Tolbert, Dennis Conway, David Johnson, Chuck McKinney, John Furr, Rip Prater, Mike Littlejohn, Doug Carver, Ronnie Hart, Kent McKee, David Whitworth, Ronnie Hart, John Christenberry, Glen Henderson, Wynn Henderson, Darrell Coleman, Dennis Jones, Andy Smith, Sandy O’Neal, Mike Smith, and Marc Weaver. (Some of these badge recipients might not be Chieftains, but I decided it would be better to list non-Chieftain badge recipients than to accidentally omit one of our own!)

Piggly Wiggly had Oscar Mayer bacon for 49¢ a pound, eggs for 37¢ a dozen, and canned biscuits for a dime a can. Kroger had turkeys for 27¢ a pound, Sealtest ice cream for 49¢ a half-gallon, and bananas for a dime a pound. A&P had cubed steak for 89¢ a pound, grapefruit for a dime each, and Pet Ritz frozen cream pies for 25¢ each. Big Apple had pork chops for 69¢ a pound, Stokely catsup for 33¢ a bottle, and celery for 19¢ a bunch. Couch’s had smoked ham for 39¢ a pound, Libby’s spaghetti and meatballs for 39¢ a can, and Castleberry’s chili for 19¢ a can. 

The cinematic week began with Walt Disney’s The Jungle Book at the DeSoto Theatre, The Robbery (starring Stanley Baker) at the First Avenue, and The President’s Analyst (starring James Coburn) at the  West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switchout brought The Penthouse (“The film you will never see on television,” they advertised, starring Susy Kendall) to the First Avenue and the West Rome Drive-In, while The Jungle Book hung around for another week at the DeSoto. (Thinking back on it, it’s surprising that the West Rome Drive-In showed so many “mature-viewer” films like this, since the screen was clearly visible to almost anyone driving past on Shorter Avenue. Apparently, no one considered it an issue—surprising, considering this is the same era when ministers were still trying to block the sale of Playboy Magazine within the Rome city limits!)

Paul Mauriat and his Orchestra took the number one slot this week with “Love Is Blue (L’Amour Est Bleu).” Other top ten hits included “Green Tambourine” by the Lemon Pipers (#2); “Spooky” by the Classics IV (#3); “Judy in Disguise (With Glasses)” by John Fred & the Playboys (#4); “Chain of Fools” by Aretha Franklin (#5); “I Wish It Would Rain” by the Temptations (#6); Goin’ Out of My Head/Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You” by the Lettermen (#7); “Nobody But Me” by the Human Beinz (#8); “Woman, Woman” by Gary Puckett & the Union Gap (#9); and “Bend Me, Shape Me” by the American Breed (#10). 

The Bee Gees made their American television debut on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour this week in 1968 in advance of the release of their second album, Horizontal. They would quickly become the most most successful Australian musical act in the United States, with album sales that rivaled the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.

The tenth Olympic Winter Games in Grenoble, France became the first Olympics to be fully broadcast in color. ABC heavily promoted the color broadcast, airing many of the events in prime time (almost unheard for the less-popular Winter Olympics). 


Captain Marvel #1 and Sub-Mariner #1 both premiered this week in 1968. In publishing the former, Marvel took advantage of DC’s failure to maintain the trademark on the Golden Age Captain Marvel, a character that they had acquired as the eventual result of legal actions against Fawcett Publishing. A few years later, they would regret not protecting that trademark, as they had to relaunch the Billy Batson Captain Marvel in a comic book entitled Shazam! since Marvel now had the trademark on the Captain Marvel name. Sub-Mariner had starred in his own series in the Golden Age, but had shared Tales to Astonish with the Hulk in the mid-1960s before finally getting his own series once again, courtesy of Roy Thomas and John Buscema.

A Life in Four Colors - Preface

My love affair with comic books began relatively early. And I owe it all to my parents, who decided that a few comic books would be the perfect distraction for a child about to undergo surgery.

I was a few months more than five years old when my pediatrician decided that the only feasible way to deal with my persistent throat and ear problems was a tonsillectomy. I didn't really know or understand the details of this procedure, but I did understand that I was going to be in the hospital for a couple of days, that my throat would hurt for a while but it would get better quickly, and that I wouldn't be able to eat much of anything but ice cream. The first worried me, the second part scared me, but that third part sounded pretty good.

(Yes, in early 1959, a tonsillectomy required a few days' stay in the hospital. It was a different time.)

I wasn't happy about the upcoming surgery--a word neither my parents nor my doctor used in explaining all of this to me, as far as I can recall--so my parents decided I needed something to distract me. So they stopped at Garden Lakes Grocery, which had a comics rack, and told me that I could pick out four comics--one for each day of my hospital stay and one more for the night before.

It seemed like a spent hours looking over that rack for just the right comics, although I'm sure that it was actually less time than that. When you're a five-year-old kid, time seems to go by more slowly. I pulled out comic after comic, looking for the perfect comics.

Finally, I made my decision. I handed my four comics to Mom, and she and Dad took them to the clerk and paid for them, along with a few others items--including, I believe, some vanilla ice cream that would be waiting for me when I got home.

The fateful four comics? Dennis the Menace Giant #6, Little Archie #10, Spooky #30, and Superman #127. It's slightly surprising that only one of those four books was a superhero comic, but I guess it makes sense when seen through the eyes of a child. I knew Dennis the Menace from the newspaper, and I loved the strip, since Dennis was a kid just like me. That same logic probably extended to Little Archie: he, too, was a kid not much older than me, and his life looked pretty exciting when I flipped through the book. (Thanks, Bob Bolling!) Spooky was a ghost, but he looked to be a likable ghost. And Superman--well, he was Superman! And even better, the issue had him fighting a King Kong-esque giant gorilla!

 My choice was made. I took the comics home that evening, and just as my parents had promised me, I got to read one of the books that night before we went to the hospital the next day. The first comic I read? Superman, of course. I could read at the age of five, but my reading vocabulary was limited enough that there were some words here I didn't know. It didn't matter, though: the art made it clear what was going on.

The next morning, my parents took me to the hospital very, very early. I slept through most of the trip and the hospital admission in that way that only young children can--that "carry me like a sack of potatoes" sleep that seems almost unbelievable to anyone who hasn't witnessed just what a child can sleep through. (Of course, the whole admission process was much simpler way back then...) I woke up at the hospital, just in time for them to "put me to sleep" for the surgery, leaving me to wonder why they woke me up at all, since I was already asleep.

The surgery went well enough, I suppose, but just as my parents had warned me, my throat was really sore when I woke up. After a few hours, the nurse came in and asked if I wanted to eat anything. My mom knew what my answer would be, so she replied for me. "Ice cream."

A while later, I got strawberry jello.

Mom saw my disappointment, and she told the nurse that I had wanted ice cream. The nurse said she would check into it, but she left the jello so that I would have something to eat. Reluctantly, I ate the jello. Mom figured the best way to keep my mind off the ice cream, so she offered me the next comic in the stack--the Dennis the Menace. It took a long time to read it--I had wisely chosen a 100-page comic for one of my books--but when I finished going through it, with Mom reading some of it aloud to me, I wanted more comics. "We said one each day," she told me. Ah, but even at five years old, I was looking for loopholes. "Can I read the Superman again?"

Mom couldn't think of any rule that would prohibit me reading the book I had read the previous night, so she agreed, and once again, I thrilled to the adventures of Superman vs. Titano, asking Mom to help me with all the words I didn't know.

The second day at the hospital, I had sufficient voice to ask for my own ice cream.  I think I even asked for two bowls of ice cream to make up for the one I missed the day before.

When they brought me lunch, I had a bowl of chicken noodle soup and another bowl of jello. Something was going horribly wrong here.

And once again, Mom took my mind off my ice cream deprivation with another comic book. This time, it was the Little Archie. It, too, was a giant 25¢ issue, so there was a lot to read.  And Mom, have that prescience that mothers often have, also let me have the two books I had already read--Dennis the Menace and Superman. They sustained me through an ice-cream-less dinner as well.

The third day, the nurse told me that the doctor was going to let me go home if everything looked good. "I want some ice cream," I  asserted, determined to get my promised ice cream before we left the hospital. As it turned out, I got nothing at all, because the doctor come by before lunch was served. He looked at my throat, talked grown-up stuff to Mom, and soon after, we were on our way home.

Where the first thing I got was vanilla ice cream. And the second thing I got was that issue of Spooky that I hadn't read yet. It seemed like I spent all afternoon eating ice cream and reading that comic--and as you might expect, the comic book did not remain ice-cream-free. (Now, I look back on that as a portent of things to come, when many of my comics would be marred by drips of melted ice cream from a Candler's ice cream cone held in one hand while I read the folded-back comic that I held in the other hand. We knew nothing of mint condition comics back then...) And of course, I also got to re-read the three comics I had already read.

For two more days at home, I ate soup and ice cream and jello and oatmeal--and I re-read the same four comics, over and over again. Thanks to Mom, I even knew all of the words! Finally, the ice cream ran out.

"I'll get you Dad to stop by the store on the way home and pick some up," Mom said. "What do you want?" Of course, she meant "what flavor of ice cream do you want?" But my answer wasn't an ice cream flavor.

"More comic books."

So a lifelong love of comics began--and a lifelong mistrust of the medical community, who still owes me some ice cream.


Friday, January 26, 2018

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 1/29/1968 to 2/4/1968

Rome finally got its first specialized cardiac care facility when the Floyd Hospital approved the creation of a five-bed coronary intensive care unit at Floyd Hospital. The facility, which would be stocked with the latest cardiac care technology, was budgeted at $25,000. One drawback: the facility would not include a coronary surgical unit, which would have added an additional $15,000 to the cost. Because of the change, cardiac patients could be diagnosed and stabilized at the Floyd facility, but would have to transported to Atlanta for surgery. 

West Rome High School was approved for funding of a 24-booth language lab for the 1968-1969 school year, expanding the capacity and the technology of the existing language lab. The new lab technology would allow teachers to listen to all students at the same time or to individual students, to address all students or individual students, and to arrange for students to listen to one of four different language lessons at the same time, making it possible for the lab to be used for students of French, Spanish, and Latin simultaneously for instance. 

Cole Drug Store opened in Gala Shopping Center, right across the street from West Rome High School, this week in 1968. The store was almost twice the size of any other West Rome drugstore, and its competitive pricing made it a major challenger to Enloe's and Candler's.

It was a somber weekend for West Rome basketball fans as the Chiefs lost 59-53 to the East Rome Gladiators in a Friday night faceoff.  By knocking off the West Rome team, the Gladiators secured a positionin the region 6-AA playoffs, while the Chieftains’ managed to make their Friday night loss a little less painful with a 55-54 win over Armuchee on Saturday night. 

Piggly Wiggly had chicken breast quarters for 39¢ a pound, Maxwell House coffee for 79¢ a pound, and lettuce for a dime a head. Kroger had ground beef for 49¢ a pound, okra for 19¢ a pound, and donuts for 39¢ a dozen.  A&P had stew beef for 69¢ a pound, apples for 19¢ a pound, and Marvel ice milk for 45¢ a half-gallon. Big Apple had sirloin steak for 87¢ a pound, tomatoes for 27¢ a pound, and Luzianne coffee (“with a touch of chicory”) for 49¢ a pound. Couch’s had Oscar Mayer bacon for 69¢ a pound, Libby’s spaghetti & meatballs for 39¢ a can, and ten pounds of white potatoes for 39¢. 

The cinematic week began with Valley of the Dolls (starring Susan Hayward) at the DeSoto Theatre, Wicked Dreams of Paula Schultz (starring Elke Sommer) at the First Avenue, and You Only Live Twice (starring Sean Connery) at the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switchout brought Walt Disney’s The Jungle Book to the DeSoto and The President’s Analyst (starring James Coburn) to the First Avenue and the West Rome Drive-In. 

The Lemon Pipers made it to number one this week in 1968 with their song “Green Tambourine.” Other top ten hits included “Judy in Disguise” by John Fred & the Playboys (#2); “Chain of Fools” by Aretha Franklin (#3); “Spooky” by the Classics IV (#4); “Bend Me, Shape Me” by the American Breed (#5); “Woman, Woman” by Gary Puckett & the Union Gap (#6); “Love Is Blue (L’amous Est Bleu)” by Paul Mauriat & His Orchestra (#7); “Nobody But Me” by The Human Beinz (#8); “Goin’ Out of My Head/Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You” by The Lettermen (#9); and “I Wish It Would Rain” by the Temptations (#10). (About that ninth place song: the actual title is “Goin’ Out Of My Head/Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,” which is more grammatically correct… but that’s not what the Lettermen sang. They definitely sang “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You,” and the “of” is necessary for proper meter, so I will diligently re-insert the missing preposition into the title every time I run across it.) 

Steppenwolf made their album debut with the release of their eponymous first album wthis week in 1968. The LP would become become a top ten hit because of the success of their signature song, “Born to Be Wild.” “The Pusher” and “Sookie, Sookie” became popular cuts on FM radio. (The former never got any significant AM play, though, because of objectionable language, even though the song was very much a condemnation of drug pushers.)

Five years after his debut in Tales of Suspense #39, Iron Man finally got his own comic this week in 1968 with the release of Iron Man #1 by Archie Goodwin & Gene Colan. Alas, this would the last issue in Colan’s run (he had illustrated Iron Man for a while in Tales of Suspense prior to this time), and the book would never look quite as good.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 1/22/1968 to 1/28/1968

The four-laning of Lavender Drive and Redmond Circle from Shorter Avenue (near the West Rome Baptist Church) to Alabama Road (in front of West Rome High School) was put on hold yet again because of a delay in federal funds. The road was first put on the schedule in 1963 and should have been finished by 1965, but numerous delays in federal funds put the project way behind schedule. According to  the state highway department, the widening was now scheduled for completion by the end of 1968, with state funds completing the project if federal funds continued to be delayed. The expansion was needed because of the expansion of manufacturing and industrial facilities along Lavender Drive and Redmond Circle.

Some kids engage in petty shoplifting, but not these guys: two sixteen-year-old juveniles were arrested on Monday, January 22nd, after stealing seven tons of iron from the Rome Speedway on Chulio Road. They were caught when they tried to sell  the iron to a scrapyard. They were charged with felony theft and turned over to juvenile authorities.

Rome’s safecrackers were back in action on Wednesday night, January 24th, cracking open a safe at Cardinal Glove Company and stealing approximately $150. According to a Cardinal spokesman, the damage to the safe exceed the value of the cash stolen.

Taxes were apparently much simpler in 1968: H&R Block advertised that they would prepare both federal and state income tax forms for $5 for a basic form with no additional attached schedules. Adjusting for inflation, that’s about $37.50 in today’s dollars—and I challenge you to find any tax preparation company that routinely does federal and state forms for a total price that low!

Piggly Wiggly had chuck roast for 39¢ a pound, Maxwell House coffee for 59¢ a pound, and lettuce for 16¢ a head. Kroger had five pounds of sugar for 39¢, whole smoked hams for 49¢ a pound, and Bama apple jelly for 25¢ a jar.. Big Apple had sirloin steak for 89¢ pound,   pears for 15¢ a pound, and Land o’ Lakes butter for 69¢ a pound. A&P had rib roast for 85¢ a pound, Castleberry beef stew for 35¢ a can, and a five-pound Morton frozen pies for 39¢ each. Couch’s had roasting chickens for 29¢ a pound, Showboat pork & beans for 19¢ a can, and bananas for a dime a pound.

The cinematic week began with Valley of the Dolls (satrring Susan Hayward) at the DeSoto Theatre, The Games (starring Simone Signoret) at the First Avenue Theatre, and A Man Called Dagger (starring Jan Murray) at the West Rome Drive-In (yes, comedian Jan Murray starred in a spy film!). The midweek switchout brought The Wicked Dreams of Paula Schultz (with Elke Sommer) to the First Avenue and You Only Live Twice (starring Sean Connery as James Bond) to the West Rome Drive-In, while The Valley of the Dolls hung around for another week at the DeSoto.

The week in 1968, Iron Butterfly released their first album, Heavy. This fine example of rock psychedelia revealed early elements of the group’s sound that would develop more fully in their next album, In-a-Gadda-da-Vida. This was also the week that the first Spirit album was released. Randy California’s guitar riff on the song “Taurus” proved to be so catchy that Led Zeppelin borrowed it a few years later for their song “Stairway to Heaven” (and there’s no doubt that Led Zep knew the song, since they opened for Spirit in their 1968 American tour).

It was the beginning of the end of the spy era in American entertainment: The Man from UNCLE aired its final episode this week in 1968. The show, influenced by the James Bond films, was actually built around concepts developed by Bond creator Ian Fleming.

But it was also the beginning of something quite unexpected: a zany, fast-cut, vaudeville-influenced comedy series named after its two hosts, Dan Rowan and Dick Martin. Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In premiered this week in 1968, and quickly became a popular culture phenomenon, contributing such catch phrases  as “sock it to me,” “here come the judge,” and “you bet your bippy,” among many others. Arte Johnson, Judy Carne, Joanne Worley, Henry Gibson, Ruth Buzzi, Goldie Hawn—these were just a few of the members of the ensemble cast who became media darlings because of their roles in Laugh-In.


Steve Ditko, who had left Marvel in 1967, made his DC debut this week in 1968. Ditko introduced his new character The Creeper in Showcase #73; The Creeper would go on to star in his own short-lived series, although Ditko would depart a few months after the book’s launch.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 1/15/1968 to 1/21/1968

After a couple of snowy false starts, “snow day” was the call of the day for January 15th, when an inch of snow and a layer of sleet made Rome roads too dangerous for school traffic. “If there’s any water on the road, it’s going to be ice,” a Georgia State Patrol officer warned travellers. With highs not getting out of the 20s for the first part of the week, very little melting took place--but it was just enough to make it possible for students to return to school on Tuesday, although attendance for that day was only about 88%.

Both Citizens Federal and Rome Bank & Trust reported record years for 1967, while Home Federal paid its largest dividend ever based on 1967 earnings. All three institutions reported significant growth in savings and a strong home loan market as factors in the growth.

West Rome High School won first place in the Region 6AA one-act play competition portion of the Region Literary Meet with their performance of “One Upon a Playground.” The cast, coached by Mrs. Judy Woody, consisted of Elaine Byars, Debbie Cole, Daye Davis, Cherrie Dixon, Bill Doster, Beverly Hall, Baxter Joy, and Kippy Scarbrough.

Piggly Wiggly had sirloin steak for 99¢ a pound, Lady Alice ice milk for 39¢ a half-gallon, and yellow corn for 7¢ an ear. Kroger had pork chops for 49¢ a pound, canned biscuits for a nickel a can, and bananas for 9¢ a pound. A&P had baking hens for 39¢ a pound, Eight O’Clock coffee for 49¢ a pound, and Armour chili with beans for 39¢ a can. Big Apple had ground beef for 39¢ a pound, grapefruit for a dime each, and Blue Plate mayonnaise for 49¢ a quart. Couch’s had lamb roast for 49¢ a pound, Duncan Hines cake mixes for 33¢ a box, and fresh strawberries for 39¢ a basket.

The cinematic week began with Tony Rome (starring Frank Sinatra) at the DeSoto Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In, and The Ambushers (starring Dean Martin) at the First Avenue. The midweek switchout brought Valley of the Dolls (starring Susan Hayward) to the DeSoto Theatre, Biggest Bundle of Them All (starring Raquel Welch) to the First Avenue, and A Man Called Dagger (starring Jan Murray) at the West Rome Drive-In.

The number one song this week in 1968 was “Judy in Disguise (with Glasses)” by John Fred and the Playboys, knocking the Beatles’ “Hello Goodbye” out of first place. Other top ten hits included “Chain of Fools” by Aretha Franklin (#2); Hello Goodbye” by the Beatles (#3); “Woman, Woman” by Gary Puckett & the Union Gap (#4); “Green Tambourine” by the Lemon Pipers (#5); “Daydream Believer” by the Monkees (#6); “Bend Me, Shape Me” by the American Breed (#7); “I Second That Emotion” by Smokey Robinson & the Miracles (#8); “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” by Gladys Knight & the Pips (#9); and “If I Could Build My Whole World Around You” by Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell (#10).

College sports are a vital part of television nowadays, but this week in 1968 saw the first-ever prime-time televised college basketball game. Houston defeated UCLA 71-69 at the Houston Astrodome. At the time, many were unsure that there were enough college sports fans to justify a prime-time showing; extremely high ratings for the game made it very clear that tdhe audience was definitely large enough.

Friday, January 05, 2018

Fifty Years Ago This Week in West Rome - 1/8/1968 to 1/14/1968

The Braves Caravan paid a visit to Rome--and to West Rome High School--on Monday, January 8th as their first stop on a whirlwind tour of numerous Georgia cities and schools. Eddie Glennon, the area sales manager for the Braves, set up the Caravan, bringing Phil Niekro, Pat Jarvis, Pat Carroll, Bob Uecker, Milo Hamilton, Ernie Johnson, Lee Walburn, Wayne Minshew, and Milt Browning to town to promote the upcoming baseball season. Caravan participants signed autographs, posed for photos with students, and talked baseball with eager students (and a few faculty members, too!).

Rome began the week with sub-freezing highs and lows in the low teens, with a little freezing rain and sleet moving through on Tuesday, January 9th. Students were sad to see that the icy precipitation was not enough to call of school for the days, although almost every surrounding county did close schools for the day.  A second round of freezing rain came through on Saturday, January 13th—but all the ice was gone by Monday morning, so once again no school holiday...

Romans were also dealing with a flu outbreak, with 90 students absent from West Rome High School on Monday and 107 absent on Tuesday. According to Principal Dick McPhee, typical absentee rates at West Rome were 50-60 students per day. 15% of West Rome’s faculty was also out of school on Monday due to the flu. 

First National Bank raise their savings account interest rate to 5% to kick off the new year, with most other banks offering within .25% of that rate. Today, a 5% interest rate sounds like some sort of fantasy, but back in 1968 anyone could walk into a bank with a $10 deposit and started earning that return on their investment!

After taking a holiday week off, burglars were back in action: the safe at Brackett Pharmacy was broken open in the early morning hours of January 9th and $1800 was stolen. A branch post office in the same building was also broken into an an undisclosed amount of cash and stamps were stolen . The burglars also broke a water pipe during the commission of the crime, flooding both the pharmacy and the post office.

Four teenagers were arrested on Thursday night after they siphoned off gasoline from a truck belonging to the Garden Lakes Company. An alert officer caught the four in mid-crime. 

The next night, burglars broke into Quick Service store on South Broad, stealing $50 in cash; Rome Warehouse on East 12th, making off with some tools that they used in an unsuccessful attempt to break into the safe; Adams Grocery on East 12th, where about $10i in cash and a .38 caliber pistol were taken; and Maple Street Cafe, where  four vending machines were ransacked. 

Piggly Wiggly had chuck roast for 35¢ a pound, cabbage for 9¢ a pound, and Merico butter-me-not biscuits for 13¢ a can. Big Apple had perch fillet for 33¢ a pound, Sealtest ice cream for 49¢ a half-gallon, and pole beans for 23¢ a pound. A&P had sirloin steak for 89¢ a pound, Eight O’Clock coffee for 49¢ a pound, and Poss chili with beans for 39¢ a can. Kroger had pork chops for 49¢ a pound, bananas for a dime a pound, and Campbell’s tomato soup for a dime a can.Couch’s had Armour Star hot dogs for 49 a pound, medium eggs for 35¢ a dozen, and Nabisco saltines for 37¢ a box.

The cinematic week began with The Comedians (starring Elizabeth Taylor & Richard Burton) at the DeSoto Theatre and House of 1000 Dolls (starring Vincent Price) at the First Avenue Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In. The midweek switchout had a Rat Pack feel, with Tony Rome (starring Frank Sinatra) at the DeSoto and the West Rome Drive-In,  and The Ambushers (starring Dean Martin) at the First Avenue.

The Beatles maintained their grip on the number one slot with “Hello Goodbye.” Other top ten hits included “Judy in Disguise (with Glasses)” by John Fred & the Playboys (#2); “Daydream Believer” by the Monkees (#3); “Woman, Woman” by Gary Puckett & the Union Gap (#4); “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” by Gladys Knight & the Pips (#5); “Chain of Fools” by Aretha Franklin (#6); “Bend Me, Shape Me” by the American Breed (#7); “I Second That Emotion” by Smokey Robinson & the Miracles (#8); “Green Tambourine” by the Lemon Pipers (#9): and “Skinny Legs & All” by Joe Tex (#10). 

This week in 1968, Johnny Cash paid a visit to Folsom State Prison in California, performing a concert that would inspire the most successful live album of his career. 

The Hulk got a second chance at stardom this week in 1968 with the release of Incredible Hulk #102, the first issue of his new ongoing series (it wasThe Incredible Hulk #102 because Marvel continued the numbering of the old Tales to Astonish series that the Hulk had shared with the Sub-Mariner). The Hulk’s first solo series, which launched in 1962, only ran for six issues before it was cancelled; in spite of quality creators that included Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Dick Ayers, and Steve Ditko, the first series never managed to achieve any real success.


Green Lantern Guy Gardner made his premiere in Green Lantern #59, this week in 1968. After many years as a footnote in Green Lantern history, Guy returned in the 1980s and has gone on to become a popular member of the Green Lantern team.

Friday, December 29, 2017

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

Chieftains were surprised by the announcement of a major coaching change this week in 1968: Coach Paul Kennedy was promoted to coordinator of athletic activities and elementary physical education. Kennedy had been head coach at West Rome since the school’s opening in 1958; prior to that, he was line coach at the old Rome High School for three years. During his West Rome head coaching career, Kennedy compiled a record of 66 victories, 32 losses, 7 ties, and one incredible state championship.

To fill the vacancy left by Kennedy’s departure, Rome City Schools superintendent M.S. McDonald announced that Nick Hyder would be promoted to head coach and athletic director for West Rome High School. Both promotions were slated to take place with the beginning of the 1968-69 school year, although Coach Kennedy would be splitting his time between West Rome and the Board Office effective immediately and Hyder would be in charge of 1968 football spring training. “I consider it a privilege to have coached under Paul for ten years,” Hyder said. “Needless to say, it’s a real challenge to carry on the program that Paul has developed."

Most of West Rome was without power for a couple of hours on Wednesday night, January 3drd, when a substation failed. Most of Shorter Avenue from Horseleg Creek Road to Redmond Road were left in the dark, along with many residential streets that fed off the Shorter Avenue lines. The power failure also affected parts of Broad Street and the area around Floyd Hospital, although tdhe hospital itself went to backup generator power a few minutes after the power failed. 

1967 was another good economic year for Georgia, with thirty thousand new jobs created and unemployment hitting record lows of 3.8%. Average weekly earnings for Georgia manufacturing workers reached $89.50, an increase of $3.50 over 1966 levels. The Georgia Department of Labor predicted similar improvements throughout 1968. 

1968 began with an almost crime-free week; the only reported theft for the week was a burglary at the office of Dr. Norton and Hortmann, where a cashbox containing $63.00 was taken. 

Piggly Wiggly had fresh whole fryers for 25¢ a pound, Double Q salmon for 45¢ a can, and bananas for a dime a pound. Big Apple had sirloin steak for 89¢ a pound, JFG coffee for 59¢ a pound, and Sealtest ice milk for 39¢ a half-gallon. Kroger had pork chops for 49¢ a pound, Bama grape jelly for 19¢ a jar, and eggs for 37¢ a dozen. A&P had Allgood bacon for 49¢ a pound, perch fillets for 43¢ a pound, and cabbage for 8¢ a pound. Couch’s had country sausage for 59¢ a pound, Nabisco saltines for 37¢ a box, and Van Camp’s chili with beans for 29¢ a can. 

The cinematic week began with Fitzwilly (starring Dick Van Dyke) at the DeSoto Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In and The Family Way (starring Hayley Mills) at the First Avenue. The midweek switchout brought The Comedians (starring Elizabeth Taylor & Richard Burton) at the DeSoto Theatre and The House of 1000 Dolls (starring Vincent Price) at the First Avenue Theatre and the West Rome Drive-In. 

The Beatles held on to number one this week with “Hello Goodbye.” Other top ten hits included “Judy in Disguise (With Glasses)” by John Fred & His Playboy Band (#2); “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” by Gladys Knight & the Pips (#3); “Woman, Woman” by Gary Puckett & the Union Gap (#4); “Daydream Believer” by the Monkees (#5); “Chain of Fools” by Aretha Franklin (#6); “Bend Me, Shape Me” by the American Breed (#7); “I Second That Emotion” by Smokey Robinson & the Miracles (#8); “Storybook Children” by Billy Vera & Judy Clay (#9); and “Honey Chile” by Martha Reeves & the Vandellas (#10). 


Captain America graduated to his own series this week in 1968, although the book was listed as Captain America #100 on the cover, since it continued the numbering from the Tales of Suspense title that Cap had shared with Iron Man since 1965. Because Marvel had a half-issue Iron Man story ready to go (as well as a half-issue-length Sub-Mariner story from the end of the Tales to Astonish split-title that Sub-Mariner shared with  Hulk), this week also saw the release of the one-and-only Iron Man & Sub-Mariner #1.