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Need a boost for the Christmas spirit? Try Ray County in 1965

By Linda Emley

The year was 1965 and L.B.J. was our President. The war in Vietnam was heating up when 3,500 U.S. Marines arrived in South Vietnam March 8 and became the first American combat troops in Vietnam.
The fight for civil rights was in the news and on Feb. 21, Malcolm X was assassinated. The world lost another great leader when Winston Churchill died in January of 1965. Tokyo was the world’s largest city, an honor that had belonged to New York City.
A very historic event took place on July 30 in 1965 when President Johnson signed the Social Security Act and established Medicare and Medicaid as a law to help win the war on poverty.
It was also a big year in the music world. The Beatles gave the first stadium concert while 55,600 fans watched at Shea Stadium in New York City. On the West Coast, Jefferson Airplane debuted at the Matrix in San Francisco.
Many favorite memories were created in 1965. It was the first year for the Pillsbury Doughboy, Tom and Jerry’s world premiere on CBS, the soap opera “Days of Our Lives” first aired and “The Sound of Music” movie hit the big screen. One of my favorite Christmas traditions was started when “A Charlie Brown Christmas” aired on CBS as the first Peanuts TV special Dec. 9.
On the local front, the Arch opened in St. Louis and the Christmas spirit was filling the streets of Richmond.
Some of us are having a hard time finding the Christmas spirit this year and the following story really helped me. Saw this in the Richmond News Dec. 21, 1965: “Starts in Orrick Tonight. Nativity In Real Life. By Steve Gooch. On three evenings this week, the congregation of the Orrick Methodist Church will portray a story that is without time or place or ending. They will portray a story that is one of the most historic and most beautiful of all events. Farmers, businessmen, housewives and students will represent characters of this ageless story. Portrayed will be the story we cherished most dearly, yet the same story that we so easily lost sight of during the rush of the season. This story will be the birth of Christ.
“The idea for portraying the Nativity was brought before the congregation in 1960 by Rev. Robert Shearer, pastor of the church at the time. This year the sixth annual live Nativity will be presented on the north lawn of the church on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings, Dec. 21, 22 and 23 from 7 to 9 pm.
Appearing in the rugged manger among the live animals will be members of the congregation both old and young, with the hope in mind that they may share with others the true meaning and joy of Christmas. Fellowship periods following the Nativity each evening at 9:00 pm,make it possible for the congregation to be together during the holidays.
Many people are involved behind the scenes with construction, lighting and costume preparation. Working on this year’s Nativity have been, personal- Mrs. P. H. Larkin, Construction- Mr. Fred M. Sanderson,  Mrs. Fred M. Sanderson- Fellowship periods and costumes, The Willing Workers Class and Publicity- Steve Gooch. Approximately thirty characters will be involved with the evening scenes.
At a time when the world is in such great need of peace,and when goodwill among mankind seems to disappear, the Orrick Methodist invites you to join with them in the observance of the birth of one who came that there might be “Peace on Earth, good will toward men…”
One of my favorite childhood memories was when my country church created our own small version of the Christmas story. Joseph and the shepherds wore bathrobes and the angels wore white sheets with tinsel covered halos. It was always a special treat if you got to be Mary, the mother of baby Jesus. Sometimes you would just be in the choir,but it was still a magical night when everyone joined together and sang Christmas hymns. Baby Jesus was someone’s baby doll, but he was always wrapped in a snow white blanket and laying in a manger on real hay or straw. My boys got to experience this same tradition growing up, so it’s one of those treasured memories that we will always cherish.
For several years now the local Rock Falls Baptist Church has hosted a live Nativity program each Christmas. It was held this past weekend and if you missed it this year, you can always start a new tradition by visiting it next year. It’s a wonderful experience that you will never forget.
The same Richmond News had some interesting stories about local life in 1965 but the A & P ad on page 3 really made my day when I saw it. “Busy Santas Save Time and Money at A & P! Come See…Christmas Shop In Our Thrifty Stop!” I enjoyed this statement because this A & P store buildings is one of my favorite places to visit in modern day Richmond. It’s the current home of my favorite “Thrifty store”, the Richmond Salvation Army. The A & P ad for 1965 offered pumpkin pie for 49 cents, turkeys for 29 cents a pound and celery was 19 cents for a large stock.
The words found in this 1965 Richmond News story still apply to our world today, “At a time when the world is in such great need of peace,and when goodwill among mankind seems to disappear…” Once again this story has proven that the old French proverb still applies, ‘’The more things change, the more they stay the same.”
The world will always need peace and goodwill. We can’t change the whole world, but we can share goodwill and try to make our own small piece of the world a better place. Merry Christmas my friends.

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