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Picturing the Past 40: Christmas at Dr. Rogers'

Posted Thursday, December 24, 2009, at 7:12 AM

A Nativity scene at Dr. Carl Rogers' Skyview Terrace home from Dec. 19, 1952. (T-G file photo)
It didn't seem like Christmas for residents of Shelbyville in the 1950s and 1960s without at least one ride by the elaborate holiday display at Dr. Carl Rogers' home on Skyview Terrace.

The winter sky was lit up by a massive number of lights -- and headlights from the cars streaming by his home.

Here's a daytime shot of a Nativity scene in front of the Rogers home from Dec. 19, 1952 -- and from T-G accounts, this may have been the first year of his display.

Dr. Rogers told the Times-Gazette that the lifesize plywood figures took six weeks to construct, with help from his wife. She said she had "some experience" with painting the figures while it was his "first try."

Viewers could roll down a window and hear a recorded reading of the second chapter of Luke from the Bible by the Rev. Paul Lanius of First Methodist Church.

The lights and recording were on from 5:30 to 10 p.m. daily, according to the story.

Dr. Rogers reduced his display in his older years. But many years after the displays had ended, the Rogers family brought out everything again one final year for an encore -- as I recall, it was in the late 1990s. The old displays were faded and worn but still did their jobs well.

I imagine many readers remember Dr. Rogers' and others' Christmas lights and decorations from years back.

A few people still put on elaborate displays today as well across Bedford County. The tradition lives on.

A Sunday T-G in the 1950s: I was surprised to see the story about Dr. Rogers in the Sunday -- that's right, Sunday -- Times-Gazette from Dec. 21, 1952.

We thought the first Sunday editions of the T-G began just a few years ago. But in the early 1950s the T-G published one Sunday edition each year, shortly before Christmas, with all proceeds going to the American Legion.

Picturing the Past is featured each Tuesday in this blog. Reader contributions are welcome.

Showing comments in chronological order
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As I remember it Dr. Rogers may have been the first in town to put up a display for Christmas and that may have been the start of other people doing likewise. Anyway, it was a treat to get to ride by Dr. Rogers house at Christmas time and view and listen to his display

He had the perfect place for viewing as he was up on a hill. I also seem to remember that Dr. Rogers had woodworking as a hobby in those days.

-- Posted by leeiii on Tue, Dec 22, 2009, at 9:55 AM

That sure brings back memories. We had family from Columbia that would sometimes come here and we would load up everybody, sometimes two or three car loads and go see Dr. Roger's house.

-- Posted by MyMrMarty on Tue, Dec 22, 2009, at 10:34 AM

Nice memories :>)

-- Posted by Dianatn on Tue, Dec 22, 2009, at 2:34 PM

Another pleasant memory David, thank you. I remember Dad and Mom loading us up in the car to drive around looking at all the lights and decorations. Dr. Rogers home and others in that area were the highlight of the trip each year. I still think of those days when I hang my own lights for the Christmas season.

-- Posted by Tim Lokey on Thu, Dec 24, 2009, at 11:46 PM

Thanks for the memory. I remember my mother taking me when I was very small, the late 70's & she told me that she had heard this would be the last year that the display was up???? I had forgotten, but after the story & can almost remember that entire evening...we even went for burgers at Burger Chef afterwards.

-- Posted by MS fighter on Mon, Dec 28, 2009, at 9:35 AM

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David Melson is a copy editor and staff writer for the Times-Gazette.