It seems nearly everyone dreams of a white Christmas every year, but it has been more than four decades since anyone around here has seen a real one.

It was Dec. 24, 1966, a Saturday, and the snow, accompanied strangely enough by thunder and lightning in some places, started falling in the morning. By midnight, a foot had accumulated in Philadelphia and up to 16 inches in the surrounding suburbs.

In the spirit of Christmas past, take a quick look at the last white Christmas:

More than half the people alive now in the United States weren't born yet.

The nation, as now, was at war, with a president from Texas serving as commander-in-chief. A Yule truce had been declared in Vietnam, but it was not holding.

On Christmas Eve, President Lyndon Baines Johnson went to a Texas air base to greet nine wounded American soldiers returning from Vietnam.

South Vietnamese leader Nguyen Cao Ky, in an address to his national assembly, asserted that the Vietcong's ambitions had been "foiled."

The former first lady, Jacqueline Kennedy, in the meantime, was in a dispute with author William Manchester over passages in his book The Death of a President, about John F. Kennedy's assassination three years earlier.

The space race heated up as the Soviet Union reported that an unmanned lunar craft had made a second soft landing on the moon, besting the United States.

Pope Paul VI summoned bishops to the Vatican for what was described as a worldwide synod and he celebrated midnight Mass in a flood-damaged Florence.

Bethlehem, where Jesus was born, belonged to Jordan. And in Bethlehem, Pa., they still made steel.

The Dow Jones industrial average had closed down at 799.10 before the holiday break.

The 76ers beat the Los Angeles Lakers, 118-107; the Flyers did not yet exist.

Shirley MacLaine and Michael Caine were starring in Gambit at the Fox at 16th and Market Streets and Alec Guinness was in Hotel Paradiso at the Cinema at the Cherry Hill Mall.

Philadelphia had four VHF TV channels - 3, 6, 10 and 12 - and two UHF channels, 29 and 48.

Channel 6 broadcast the 1951 version of A Christmas Carol starring Alastair Sim at 7 p.m. Christmas Eve.

James H.J. Tate was mayor of Philadelphia, and the federal government had just awarded the city $1.38 million for a program to assist high school dropouts.

City Controller Alexander Hemphill was investigating payments of $100,000 in fees to seven constables for serving summonses to municipal code violators.

The lead story in the Sunday Inquirer ran under the headline "Major Snowstorm Paralyzes Area." The story that followed went to great lengths detailing the problems that the storm had created around the region. Not once did it use the expression white Christmas.

And this writer delivered 65 Inquirers that morning, thanks to help from his father.

Contact staff writer Joseph Gambardello at 215-854-2153 or jgambardello@phillynews.com.