Shopping for Tires and a Christmas Record Album

Monday, December 17, 2012 - by Harmon Jolley
Christmas albums downloaded (to the floor).  The series continued into era of 8-track media.
Christmas albums downloaded (to the floor). The series continued into era of 8-track media.
- photo by Harmon Jolley

Hi-fi console units and 33 1/3 long-playing records became popular among music listeners in the 1950’s and early 1960’s.   When I was growing up, I think that our hi-fi appeared in our living room sometime around 1960.  I recall that ours was a small faux-mahogany cabinet that contained a record player and radio.  There was an auxiliary speaker cabinet in our basement that was connected by speaker wires to the main console.

 My parents enjoyed listening to music, particularly at Christmas.

  My father was always alert for bargains, and scoured the newspaper advertising each day in his quest.   His two interests – Christmas tunes and low prices – were piqued by an advertisement in the December 6, 1961 Chattanooga News-Free Press.  The local Goodyear stores were offering “The Great Songs of Christmas” for only $1.00 to customers who stopped by a tire and auto center.

Goodyear had stores downtown at 135 Market Street and in the Rossville Shopping Center, which included some of our favorite stores such as the S.S. Kresge and Miller Brothers.  One of the two Goodyears, probably Rossville, gained a sale that year, and the Christmas album became part of our annual celebration.   That record and others were played over and over each year.

The album’s individual tracks were recorded by several popular orchestra leaders and soloists of the day.  The first “Great Songs” album wasn’t labeled “volume one,” since I suppose that the popularity of the first couldn’t be predicted.   

Leonard Bernstein directed the New York Philharmonic in “Unto Us a Child is Born” from Handel’s “Messiah.”  Frank DeVol and the Rainbow Strings performed a medley of “Ring Christmas Bells,” “The First Noel,” and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”  Folk singer Burl Ives sang the tune that I always hoped would never acquire a scratch that would cause repetition: “Twelve Days of Christmas.”  My favorite from the album is the instrumental “Sleigh Ride” by Andre Kostelanetz and His Orchestra.”

In 1961, some of the record-playing equipment on the market was a Westinghouse stereo with AM/FM for $199.95 and a Motorola unit for $149.95 at Cherokee (Boulevard) Radio and TV.  Cooper Dyer Furniture down on Main Street also carried Motorola.

My father also responded to Goodyear advertisements in 1962 and 1963 for volumes 2 and 3 of “Great Songs.”  The albums again featured popular orchestras and soloists, including Julie Andrews and Nelson Eddy.

Firestone also offered a collectible Christmas album series which showed up a couple of times at our home.  Like Goodyear, the records were $1.00 each; limit one per customer.  The company had two stores - downtown at 2nd and Market, and Eastgate -  in 1966, when volume 5 of the Firestone series joined our Christmas music.  The album exclusively featured Julie Andrews, who was a ubiquitous star of the 1960’s for “Sound of Music” and “Mary Poppins.”

The visits to Goodyear and to Firestone weren’t all about Christmas music.  I recall that on one visit, my father was also in the market for tires.  The salesman pitched the idea that the width of whitewalls changed with each change in U.S. president.  He showed us an older, wider Kennedy-era whitewall compared to the narrower Johnson tire.  Even at my grammar school age at the time, I didn’t buy it, since I knew that styles change quite often regardless who is president.

My parents’ Christmas record collection has been archived until recently.  Christmas has a nostalgia dimension, doesn’t it?  We often search items of family history which have been preserved.

I decided to play some of the old Goodyear and Firestone albums recently.   I didn’t get trapped in the attic, though, like Clark Griswold of “Christmas Vacation” watching his old family home movies.  The records were easier to access than Mr. Griswold’s movies.

 I was amazed that the LP’s weren’t more scratched, given how many times that they were played.   They brought back pleasant memories of Christmas when I was growing up, and may have been a musical influence on me at a young age.

If you have memories of the Goodyear or Firestone Christmas album series, please send me an e-mail at jolleyh@bellsouth.net.

Merry Christmas to all, and may your records of “Twelve Days of Christmas” never be scratched!

 



The advertisement from the 12-6-1961 News-Free Press that started the collection
The advertisement from the 12-6-1961 News-Free Press that started the collection

Help Needed In Identifying Goodman Family Photo

I am currently researching a set of glass plate negatives taken over 100 years ago in and around Chattanooga. Many photos have been identified, yet many remain unknown in location and subjects. Several photos were taken within walking distance of the likely photographer’s home on Payne Street (now Battery Place). This included the 700 block of East 4th Street. At 710 ... (click for more)

Tennessee Historical Commission Awards Grants to Preserve Historic Sites

The Tennessee Historical Commission has awarded 31 grants from the federal Historic Preservation Fund to community and civic organizations for projects that support the preservation of historic and archaeological resources. “Tennessee’s treasured historic places make our state unique and contribute to our quality of life,” said Patrick McIntyre, state historic preservation officer ... (click for more)

$30 Million Development Planned At King And South Market; Will Include Hotel, Condos, Offices, Retail, Possible Restaurant

A new $30 million development is planned for the Southside at King Street and South Market. Nick Wilkinson, city deputy director for economic development, said it will include a hotel, condos, offices, retail and possibly a restaurant. It could also include some light industry. A storage building and a parking lot are now at the site. He said the developers plan to reuse ... (click for more)

Investor In Scheme Says Dyer Made Contacts At Quarterback Club

One of the investors who was a loser in an investment scheme recently halted by the Securities and Exchange Commission said one of the Chattanooga brokers involved made many of his contacts through the Chattanooga Quarterback Club. Paul Smith, former Hamilton County Democratic Party chairman, said Doug Dyer has been the president for many years of the club that promotes UTC and ... (click for more)

Expand Broadband Internet, Not The Size Of Government

I’d like to respond to two letters in your July 13 edition that praised Rep. Mike Carter’s efforts to expand statewide broadband access. Rep. Carter wants more government involvement in the broadband sector, including an expansion of taxpayer-funded, municipal broadband networks.  Rep. Carter’s supporters argued he’s standing up for consumers against huge telecommunications ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Our Horses Vs. DesJarlais

It is well-known that shortly after the despicable “Big Lick” faction of the Tennessee Walking Horse industry put on a very-pointed fundraiser for the equally repugnant Congressman Scott DesJarlais (R-Jasper) two years ago, the misguided doctor has repeatedly tried to bully and strong-arm the U.S. Department of Agriculture on the behalf of the vermin who sadistically torture the ... (click for more)