What kid didn't enjoy the annual Christmas parade in downtown Summerville?  Here's a look at the 1962 event, along with an essay by writer Judy Brooks.

parade wide shot
Look out, everyone!  Santa's about to land on Commerce Street in Summerville!  After waving to the crowd, Santa reportedly landed in Pennville.  (Note the courthouse trees on the left.)

parade 2
Santa's sled in front of Jackson Chevrolet, awaiting take-off.  Sue Ellen Johnston is ready to chauffeur Santa Claus.  Looks like the reindeer are on strike, or the elves needed more protein.

fbla float
The Future Business Leaders of America float is in line on North Commerce Street, ready to begin the procession.

garden club
Members of the Chattooga Cherokee Rose Garden Clubs are shown holding their complimentary pamphlets, Cherished Christmas Carols, courtesy of Hoyt Farmer and the People's Laundry.

commerce street
Trion High School's Blue and White Color Guard moves southward down Commerce Street.

Santa Claus is always a crowd pleaser.  (Somehow, I get the feeling Santa is related to "Big Wink" McWhorter.)  The float behind him, heading north, depicts our Cold War enemies, the Soviets, sitting behind a banner that reads "Communist Iron Curtain," eating gruel while on the other side, there's a bright Christmas tree with all kinds of American consumer goods and Mattel toys stacked around it.  Take that, Khrushchev!  Santa don't cotton to no Commies!

Does this girl look like Mary Salley to you?

fire truck
Fireman Meredith Tutton drives an antique fire engine courtesy of Santa Claus.

The kids in the front seat with Mr. Tutton appear to be his two sons, Randy and Bill.  Randy cranks the siren.  Joseph Jackson sits facing left.

miss cc
Miss Chattooga County waves from the back of a Chevrolet Corvette.  I wish Santa would bring me one of those.  (I mean the car!)

The Chattooga High School Marching Band heads back to their starting point on North Commerce Street.

Santa rolls back up Commerce Street with members of Mrs. Rosemary McWhorter's kindergarten aboard.  (Summerville resident Robert McWhorter still owns this wonderful old fire engine.)

Christmas Memories: 1962
by Judy Brooks

The Christmas season of 1962 begins for our family the weekend after Thanksgiving. Although our parents usually purchase the Christmas tree from the Piggly Wiggly, they surprise us this year with an expedition to the woods. Daddy brings along a saw and a small hatchet, which he will use to cut down the family tree.

By remembering to bring along tree-cutting tools, Daddy's an improvement over Clark Griswold, but he's not exactly Larry the Lumberjack. It's only after prolonged and vicious sawing and hacking, frequently punctuated by language unsuitable for use here, that he manages to cut down a medium-sized, well-shaped pine.

He provides us with a lovely tree, and we are so grateful that we completely ignore the fact that, because Daddy's no Bob Vila either, the poor tree totters and sways on the two wooden boards he has hastily nailed in an “X” shape on the tree's bottom. So what if it's a little wobbly - it looks terrific once we hang paper chain garlands fashioned from strips of construction paper, and drape a few strings of those big old C-9 lights around it.

Apart from the tree, my favorite harbingers of the season are probably much the same as other children who live in the area. I am looking forward to seeing lights strung in the shape of a Christmas tree on top of the Georgia Rug Mill's water tower, and I find the shiny bicycles displayed in Western Auto's window especially appealing as they are placed alongside the latest in holiday decor: an aluminum tree and a rotating color wheel.

Mesmerized, I gaze at the garlands of glittery plastic bells and snowflakes that hang over the downtown streets, and am captivated by the windows of the local 5 & 10 cent stores. I think fake snow and glitter provide the perfect setting for dolls, tea sets, and just about anything else a little six-year-old girl can wish for Santa to park under the tree. But, I still feel that the most exciting sign of the holiday to come is the Christmas parade.

I find the annual parade particularly thrilling because it is always held sometime during the first week of December, and is usually scheduled only a couple of days or so before my birthday. This year, the evening of the parade finds our family headed downtown long before the festivities began, due to a combination of the excited clamoring of four small children, and our parent's desire to snag a good parking space.

Daddy parks near the downtown Ford dealership, and we stroll at a snail's pace past Redford's, stopping to take a long look in each of their windows. Afterward, we make our way past the Jiffy Burger, still moving slowly enough to breathe in the redolence of fried onions along with the crisp December air. From there, it's only a block to the front of Farmer's and Merchant's Bank, which we decide is the perfect vantage point for watching the parade.

Practically dancing with excitement while waiting for the parade to begin, I am shivering as much from anticipation as I am from the frigid winter temperatures. From blocks away, I hear the drums of the marching bands, and know it was only a matter of minutes before the police cars roll down the streets, running their red lights and sirens as they ensure the parade route is clear.

As the first decorated vehicles come into view, the crowd surges forward en masse as the band plays “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” Enthralled, I watch the majorettes twirl, toss, and catch their batons accompanied by the thunder of the drumline and the blare of the brass. The band is followed by beautifully lighted floats, more bands, and small flocks of scout troops and church groups. All too soon, Santa himself rides past, tossing hard candy that lands with a loud cracking noise on the icy pavement.

The crowd dwindles swiftly afterward, and our parents gather us up for the trip home. As we return to the car, an icy wind begins to gust, ridding the streets of every trace of holiday parade enchantment, but it would be a mistake to believe that the magic is gone. It remains just below the surface of the quiet downtown streets, and lingers always in the hearts and spirits of we who believe.


After graduating with the CHS class of 1973, Judy Brooks attended Berry College before beginning a career that encompassed a number of diverse positions, from bartender and directory assistance operator to assistant grant-writer and office manager. She has lived in Rome, Atlanta, and Paducah, KY, where she spent two years in the Information Technology program at West Kentucky College and Technical School. Judy returned to Summerville in September of 2010, and is quite content to be back among family and friends. She is currently a writer and editor, and is in the process of establishing her own Internet publishing company. She is passionate about movies, books, writing, cooking, jazz, and spending time with her family, and would be thrilled to hear from friends, classmates, and other interested members of the community. Judy can be reached at judybrooks375@windstream.net.

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