At the end of this week the first day of winter is here, though with the snow and ice of last week our hometown felt what could have been the early arrival of winter, yet the shortest day of the year remains December 21.

Bad weather and staying indoors gave me time to return to the Newport Plain Talk bound volume of 1974 newspapers where I flipped to December ’74 and the approach of winter.

I recently noted in my column the hotly contested City of Newport election that took place Dec. 3, a Tuesday. Reece Balch led the ticket of aldermen and became vice-mayor. Dr. Fred M. Valentine, Jr. gained a fifth term as mayor with 1,689 votes. Gene Layman was re-elected city recorder.

Other big news included the front-page photo of H. H. Parrott, who celebrated his 101st birthday. Born about 10 years from the Civil War, he was the son of Charles S. and Melinda Parrott of Parrottsville.

For entertainment on the horizon of 1975, the Newport Kiwanis Club already planned to have Johnny Paycheck appear in April for the annual Kiwanis Kapers fundraiser. There are a few Kiwanians and former Kiwanians alive who were there.

Each week a favorite column appeared in the Plain Talk: Cook of the Week. You will see a photo here from Dec. 1974. Shoppers then and now turned to the Plain Talk for grocery sales. Super Dollar featured Morton salt at 8 cents for 26 ounces. Or buy bread 18 cents/20 ounce loaf; chuck roast 68 cents per pound; Valleydale franks 12 oz. pack 68 cents.

Competitor White Stores featured boneless top round steak $1.67 per pound or a three-pound can of Crisco vegetable shortening $1.99.

If you liked sports, the Plain Talk always covered the basketball courts. Nickey Maxey photographed Dec. 3 Parrottsville vs. White Pine, and you see a photo here. Some of these athletes then are approaching retirement age now.

A big story in Dec. 1974 and concerning grocers happened to be the sharply rising price of sugar then at near $1 per pound. White Store manager Bill Eldridge reported the store would sell 2,000 to 3,000 pounds per week, even when five-pound bags sold for $2.99.

There is an eye-catching photo showing Super Dollar store manager Don Smith with a 25 lb. bag priced at $14.36. While families paid more for sweet desserts, the local farm families welcomed the fat tobacco sales checks. Burley broke $120 per hundredweight.

With snow still on the ground in the shadows at Grassy Fork and Hartford’s Big Creek, I found a related tidbit in the 1974 Looking Back column. Looking back to Dec. 6, 1959: The heaviest snowfall.

Then and now the local Christmas parades drew plenty of attention and dozens of photos in the Plain Talk. Dec. 9 photos appeared for the Newport Christmas Parade. Beta Sigma Phi Sorority won $100 for Most Attractive Float: Family Love on Christmas Eve.

December 13, City of Newport announced plans for a five million gallon waste treatment plant to cost $7.3 million. Merchants & Planters Bank opened the Cosby Branch Bank. By the way, this past Friday was a 13th and so was Friday, Dec. 13, 1974.

In the Dec. 18 Plain Talk, one of many items on pages that jumped out to me was the photo of a young Terry Edward Hurst, who received his law degree. He is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Harold Hurst.

Plain Talk Sports Editor John Harper, who died in recent years, presented the “Mr. Hustle” Award to Cocke County football player Tim Hill.

After Mrs. A. C. Wood announced her resignation as registrar, the board chaired by Dr. Nathan Ford appointed Diane Huffman the new Cocke County Registrar at Large.

To end the year of 1974 that had plenty of rain, snow, and cold weather a portion of the mountainside east of the Foothills Parkway slid off and partially blocked Interstate 40 eastbound lanes Christmas night.

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