|Me wrapping Christmas presents at our Pennsauken, NJ apartment - 1964|
Well folks, here we are finally at Christmas Eve. Came around pretty fast again this year didn't it?
On Christmas Eve I often think of my Christmases past. Like most kids growing up in the Fifties, I believed in Santa Claus and really thought I was going to get what I wanted if I was a good boy all the year. Most of the year I was a Good Little Boy, at least the months leading up to Christmas. I was hoping that Santa had a short memory.
Of course I was always disappointed on Christmas morning when I open my presents to find a pair of gloves, underwear and maybe a toy or two. One Christmas I was especially disappointed. I wanted an electric train in the WORST way. Since I was the oldest of my parents three boys, I thought I would be the American Flyer electric train set.
The year was 1952. I was eleven years old. I could hardly sleep on Christmas Eve. At dawn's early light I go tearing into the front room (we lived at a second floor apartment building on 120 Washington Avenue in Downingtown, Pennsylvania; a suburban town of 5,000 souls west of Philadelphia).
|Me (the beanpole in the center) and my "competition", my two little brothers in 1953|
I open the package. Yes, it is indeed the American Flyer Electric Train set.......FOR ALL OF US. Now exactly how was this going to work out?
Of course right off the bat, while Disney cartoons are playing on our black and white, 15 inch Philco TV, I get into a dispute with my brothers as to who was going to put this train together and run it. This was terrible! What was my Mother thinking?
She resolved the problem of "sharing." I was to get the engine and coal car. Isaac, the middle son, was to get the two middle boxcars and the tracks. John was to get the next to last box car and caboose and the electrical switch box.
So how did this work? Of COURSE IT DIDN'T WORK. This was one of the worst decisions my Mother ever made. To say I was a "bit" unhappy wasn't the least of it. I was VERY unhappy, and that's saying something because I was generally a very happy kid.
|Me at 10 years old - the happy little fisherman with my worm box - 1951|
Long story short, I gave up the train to my brothers. They could have it. That was the Christmas I went without.
Fast forward to Christmas 1969 with My Bill. I was working in center city Philadelphia at that time. At lunchtime, I used to visit an art store on Chestnut Street. One painting I admired greatly was a ship sailing in the ocean. Oh how I loved that painting.
I wanted that painting so bad but couldn't afford it because it cost $250.00. I was only making about $80 a week at the bank. That was almost a month's pay for me. Just.....could.....not.....afford.....it.
Christmas 1969 rolls around. Bill and I return from spending Christmas Day with my parents in Downingtown. Our tradition was to open our presents to each other on Christmas Day Evening.
I saved that package for last. When it came time to open it I was truly flabbergasted. WOW! For the first time in my life Santa actually brought me something that I wanted and LIKED! My life was complete now.
I couldn't thank Bill enough. So this is what it feels like? I felt just like all those people in the movies and commercials who open their presents and are truly surprised. SUPER!
|Yes, that's me in my "western outfit and cigar (don't ask) - check out the painting over the fireplace - 1971|
I hung that magnificent painting over our fireplace in the living room at our house in Philadelphia. Over the years that painting has always occupied a prominent place wherever we lived. Now it hangs over my bed in my bedroom. Every afternoon before I take my daily nap and every night before I go to sleep I look at that ship "sailing the blue ocean" and get a familiar warm, comfortable feeling remembering back to that Christmas that Santa came through.
|Me with my Best Christmas Present - December 23, 2012|
|Me - 1971 - Philadelphia|
|Bill in our Philadelphia living room, front of the fireplace with the wonderful Christmas present - 1970|