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

History Center and Outdoor Chattanooga Present A Sunset Kayak History Tour through the Gorge

The Chattanooga History Center will partner with Outdoor Chattanooga to offer two special sunset kayak tours through the Tennessee River Gorge on August 11 and August 25, 2015 beginning at 7:00 PM. The kayak tour will be led by experienced Outdoor Chattanooga river guides. The CHC’s Senior Educator, Caroline Sunderland, will narrate the city’s history with the gorge. Join ... (click for more)

History Center Presents Walking Tour on Main Street

The Chattanooga History Center will present Southside: Historically Speaking, a walking tour, on August 4, 2015, at 6:00 PM. The tour, led by Senior Educator Caroline Sunderland, will begin at the corner of Main Street and Market Street.  Join us as we gain a deeper historical picture of Chattanooga's Southside from its days as Montgomery Avenue through its recent ... (click for more)

Thousands Line Route For Funeral Procession Of Sailor Slain In Chattanooga Shooting; Wife Sings Song At Funeral She Was Singing When They Met

Thousands of people waving flags and signs again lined the streets and highways of Chattanooga for the second of two local funerals for military personnel slain by a gunman on July 16. And at the funeral service for Petty Officer 2nd Class Randall Scott Smith, his wife, Angie, sang the song she was singing the first time they met. She said she was singing "You say it best when ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Man Who Declared He Was "An Innocent Man" On Child Pornography Charges Gets Conviction, 24-Year Sentence Overturned

The Federal Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed the conviction of a Chattanooga man who claimed at his trial and sentencing that he was wrongfully convicted by a jury of possession and distribution of child pornography. James Paul Lowe had been sentenced in May to serve 24 years in federal prison. After the sentencing, he had bid his family goodbye and told them to ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Strong

The hearts, minds and prayers of Tennesseans, and of the entire nation, have been turned toward Chattanooga this month.  We are sickened and saddened by the senseless tragedy, and we grieve for the families of the five service members who were killed, Gunnery Sgt. Thomas J. Sullivan, Sgt. Carson A. Holmquist, Lance Cpl. Squire “Skip” K. Wells, Staff Sgt. David A. Wyatt and ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Could Obama Win Again?

When President Barack Obama spoke to the African Union yesterday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, he made a pretty brash statement: “I actually think I’m a pretty good president,” he told the African leaders. “I think if I ran, I could win. But I can’t.” While everyone is entitled to their opinion, I don’t think that’s true. Obviously, term limits keep Obama from running, but as I sit ... (click for more)