Saturday, December 20, 2014

Random Vintage Christmas!

I like Christmas, but when I was a kid, I looooved Christmas. I guess it was just that thing, your kid brain amps everything up and makes it more exciting and magical. My dad would dust off his favorite LP's of holiday music (Nat King Cole, "The Nutcracker Suite" by the Boston Pops, Bing Crosby), we'd salivate over the new Sears "Wish Book", and we would enjoy a variety of Christmas-themed arts and crafts in school (glitter, pipe cleaners, macaroni, and glue were key ingredients). 

Speaking of school, here's a photo from a classroom from sometime in the 1950's. They've got their tree all decorated; I wonder if the kids dressed up for this photo, or if this is just their regular school clothes?  The kid with the bow tie (lower left) is my hero. It sure looks like nighttime, so maybe this was some sort of Christmas party.

Meanwhile, in another classroom, children wear traditional diapers on their heads (now that's a party!) as Santa Claus and the Monsignor (Catholic school!) make surprise appearances. The Monsignor is there to make sure that things don't get too secular.  

Santa looks like he is wearing a blond wig as a beard. There's no way that bag holds enough presents for every child in the classroom. Unless they are tiny presents. 1961, they can't be "Hot Wheels". And all I want is Hot Wheels! Notice that there is snow outside - the only time I really miss snow is during Christmas.

Here's one from Balboa Park in San Diego, circa 1964. I like the brightly-lit Santa with his sleigh and eight reindeer - if that's Rudolph at the end (see his bright red nose?), shouldn't there be nine reindeer? The amazing thing is that I believe that this very same tableau can still be seen in Balboa Park today, a full 50 years later. Ho, ho, ho!



Nanook said...


Just when I thought our pal with the bowtie was going to take the cake, in walks "Santa", with, as you point out, what appears to be a blonde wig standing-in for a beard. (Shouldn't those be white whiskers, anyway-?) Perhaps he was granted his own wish-!

Thanks, Major - and ho, ho, ho.

Chuck said...

What a great set today! I especially love the Balboa Park shot. There's something about time exposures and colored lights that feels especially Christmas-y to me.

My favorite random detail is the Boy Scout troop flag in the center right of the second photo. You can almost make out the word "TROOP" in white on red (which would be in the top half of the flag) and see the gold "A" in the "BSA" emblem on a dark green background in the center of the flag. What's odd about this is that this doesn't appear to be a Boy Scout meeting - no uniforms, no dads, the boys are too young, and there are too many icky girls. I'm going to guess this was a church/school multi-purpose room and the flag was probably always on display along with an American flag and (perhaps) a Papal flag as well.

As far as there only being nine reindeer, you may recall there was a period when Donner left the show to pursue a rather successful directing career. The audience was told that his character had joined the Air Force and was stationed in Greenland, but he made a guest appearance in the final episode.

Nanook said...

@ Chuck-

Yes, of course - "Richard" Donner. Yeah, but nobody ever bought the story about "being stationed in Greenland" - that one was used so often, most folks reacted with serious rolling of the eyes.

K. Martinez said...

I still love Christmas and Halloween to this day. Different than when I was a kid, but I still find it magical. Those old school rooms are great. I remember going to a pre-school that looked like that. Love the Balboa Park display too! Thanks, Major.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, blonde beard Santa is just too weird. I wouldn't go near him. Bowtie kid is the best!

Chuck, I think the yes thing about that Balboa Park shot is the feeling that the deer are actually soaring. Colored lights don't hurt though! I didn't notice the Boy Scout flag… As you suggested, I''m sure that they held meetings for the Scouts there on Saturdays. As for the reindeer, there's nothing worse than a "prima Donner". KAPOW!

Nanook, "stationed in Greenland"? Whaaaa? Richard Donner? The guy who directed "Superman"??

K. Martinez, the schools I attended on the East coast especially looked like that. They probably were five times older than the California schools I went to. They definitely had a particular look (and smell) that is hard to forget.

Chuck said...

Sorry, Major...Nanook and I were riffing on an obscure reference to "Happy Days." When Ron Howard (a.k.a. Richard "Richie" Cunningham) left the show, his absence was explained by him having joined the Army (sorry - memory failed me above) and being stationed in Greenland.

His character's girlfriend was still on the program, so they would make periodic references to Richie, and the show jumped yet another shark when they got married in the Cunningham's living room...over the phone...without even a split-screen cameo for Howard. He did come back for a two-part episode in the final season, supposedly fresh out of the Army with a moustache and haircut that made him look like a refugee from a M*A*S*H episode.