Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Memories

My earliest memory of Christmas was the fun of watching Disney characters on TV

Here we are, Christmas Day 2013!  I hope you and yours are having a glorious Christmas Day.

On this Christmas Day I am reminded of Christmas Days of past.  The first Christmas I can remember I was probably about eight years old.  We were living at a cockroach infested 2nd floor apartment at 120 Washington Avenue in Downingtown, Pennsylvania.  Being the oldest of three sons in the Tipton family I wanted and thought I was entitled to my first ever Lionel train set.  All year I whined and whined about getting my own Lionel train set.  Christmas morning comes, with the colored bubble lights on the Christmas tree in the corner of the "front" room (what we called the living room of our $22.00 a month apartment).  

Me and my brothers and some neighborhood kids on the stoop steps at our apartment at 120 Washington Avenue in Downingtown, PA - the Poor White Trash section of the town (still there by the way!)

I could hardly sleep Christmas Eve.  By the first light of morning I rush from the back bedroom on the cheap linoleum floors to the front room.  There it was!  A big box.  I look at the tag.  Next to Santa's smiling face it said "To Ronnie, Junior and John."  WHAT?  To the three of us?  One present to the three of us?  As my younger brothers held back, I tore the Christmas wrapping off the package and there it was, a Lionel train set.  But for the three of us?  How was that going to work?  
My Mom said "It's for the three of you?"  OH.MY.  Even my eight year old brain understood that WASN'T GOING TO WORK.  

What I wanted and DIDN'T get - first Lesson In Life - if you want something get it yourself

Well, with Disneyland cartoons playing on the TV, I opened the box.  We (I) decided that I would get the engine and coal car.  My second brother Isaac would get the two middle cars, and John, as the youngest brother, would get the caboose.  Well folks, long story short, it didn't work.  Within a half an hour we were arguing who was controlling the train.  The big problem was who controlled the tracks.  We each took a portion of the tracks but we needed the whole tracks to make it work. Needless to say, this "It's for all of you" didn't work.  I think this was the first time in my life that I realized my Mother could make mistakes too.  I don't know whatever happened to that train, all I knew is that I never played with it again.  I gave it up to my brothers.  It didn't take them to long to destroy it.  

Where we lived on Boot Road, Downingtown, PA, above the Gindy Manufacturing Company offices - rent free.
We lived their rent free because living there we maintained a presence next to the plant - one might say we were the watchmen (and kids) - this building is no longer there

The next Christmas that I can remember we had moved to another second floor apartment in Downingtown, this one on Boot Road and without cockroaches (it was a brand-new building and the cockroaches didn't have time to set up house).  This time Santa my Mother gave me the present that I was whining for all year, a Kodak camera, and it was ALL MINE.  

My first camera!  All mine!
Here are some of my first pictures with my new camera on that Christmas Day in 1953:

Isaac and John with Sam and my cat Bobby
I'll say this about my brothers, as many differences as we have had growing up and over the years I could never have had two better brothers.  We're unlike as possible, we don't even look alike but you know, I wouldn't trade them for anything.  And something else, unlike some family members, friends and co-workers, they have never but NEVER refused to let me take photos of them. I guess the Ham Factor runs in the Tipton Family.

I think this is the first ever picture I took with my new camera.  I didn't even give Isaac and John time to put on their coats (they 

John and Isaac with their Christmas gifts, a bicycle for EACH of them (no sharing here, I guess Mom understood that brothers don't share)
My first "action" shot with my Kodak Brownie camera of my brothers playing with our family dog Sam in front of our Boot Road Apartment house in Downingtown, PA
Tall and gawky me (just turned 12 years old) - what was I doing? 
Me with my one and only ever feline pet "Bobby" (names after a upper classmate I had a crush on at that time - only "Bobby" and I knew the source of his name - my father later gave Bobby to the ASPCA without my knowledge - Pop only liked to have pets around that adored him - I wasn't permitted to have a pet that choose me - fact of life folks)
"Bobby" - a stray tabby cat that I found as a kitten born somewhere in the Gindy manufacturing plant - he took up with me - I loved that cat and he loved me - never had a cat since - maybe someday

Brother John hugging MY cat Bobby (who doesn't seem too thrilled about it) 
One of the best Christmas presents I ever got was a painting of a clipper ship.  Bill gave it to me on our first Christmas together 1964.  I had admired the painting at an art store on Chestnut Street in Philadelphia.  I had no idea that I would ever receive it as a Christmas present.  But our first Christmas together Bill surprised me to no end. I have to say that was the best Christmas present I EVER got.  

My very own Picture of Dorian Gray - however this one is reversed - I get old and the picture stays the same

The Old Guy with his best Christmas Present Ever taken this Christmas morning 2013
Merry Christmas everyone!

Christmas 1971 - taking presents to my parents


anne marie in philly said...

we just returned from the indian restaurant. later this afternoon, a nap and a marx brothers movie.

nitewrit said...

The Christmas when you were 8 years-old was 1949. The property to build Disneyland wasn't purchased until 1953 and Disneyland opened in 1955. Networks didn't start broadcasting television shows to the public until 1948. You must have had a TV before us and you might have been watching some of the older Walt Disney cartoons that Christmas morning. I remember mostly Farmer Alfalfa cartoons in the early years, especially on Willie the Worm's show. Of course the Willie the Worm show didn't start on TV until November 1950. I think my grandfather bought our first TV in 1950. Either Billy Smith or Denny Myers family had the first TV on our block, I just can't quite get it straight which one it was. Bill had lived in that house, moved and then Denny moved in around that time when some of us would gather there to watch TV.

Shame about the train. Electric trains were my favorite. There are some advantages to being an only child.


Ron said...


I may have my dates a bit askew. I don't think we got a TV before you did but maybe we did. I remember my Mother brought it with her inheritance of $3,000 which was payable to her when she reached age 35 which would have been in 1958 so I that doesn't make sense because I'm pretty sure we got a TV before then. I used to go up to Eddie Rose's house to watch "Kukla Fran and Ollie" at 5 pm, then "Frontier Playhouse" at 6:00 pm. I definitely remember watching Disney cartoons on Christmas Day at our house. I thought it was magic. Can you imagine "sharing" a train set? What was my Mother thinking?RON

Ron said...

Sounds good to me Anne Marie. We all have out Christmas traditions. I like Indian food.


Java said...

I love the old pictures! You have some great family memories. I also like the clipper ship painting, and the comparison between you then and you now.

Ron said...

I LOVE that clipper ship painting. I've had it for 49 years now. It hasn't. Changed one bit but I sure have.

pat888 said...


Love the photos and all the sentiment. Great shot of you delivering presents. I'm not sure if I received the same train set. Mine I think ran on batteries - probably a lesser sophisticated type. Heck - we were poor too!

Jon said...

Fantastic photos and great Christmas memories. It's wonderful that you still have the very first photos you ever took. I also love the painting of the clipper ship.

When I was five years old I got an elaborate Lionel train set for Christmas - - with an entire village, a bridge, a tunnel, and loads of other enchanting things. A few days later my father decided it was too big and cumbersome, so he returned the village!! All I was left with was the train and the tracks. Afraid that I might "ruin" the train because I was so young, my Dad finally packed the train away and I never saw it again until I was 15. I still have the train and it's still in the original box. Very weird......

Roger said...

As always Ron thanks for the morning read.

Ron said...

You're quite welcome! Have a great day!

Ur-spo said...

I hope your christmas was a happy one; I hope 2014 is your best year yet.

Ron said...

Dr. Spo,
Right back at you!

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