December 10, 2018
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Incredible! It’s just two weeks before Christmas Eve. But don’t worry; if you order by the 22nd it will be here by December 24th. Christmas Eve, that is, not your gifts, which you really should have purchased ten days ago. Yeah, I’ve been there too. Oh, and this is also Week 378 of our little visit together. And I didn’t even charge you for shipping it.
Once in a while around this time of the year I try to remember what my favorite Christmas gifts were as a kid.
One of the top-rated gifts on my personal hit parade was the train set I got one year. Don’t remember the brand; it wasn’t a top of the line Lionel, but I had a lot of fun with it. It had a black transformer box that you would hook up to the rails at a certain point to supply the juice to power your train around the track. The transformer had a slide lever on the side of it. Slide it forward, the train went faster, move it back and the train slowed down. If you kept it on the ‘fast’ setting too long the transformer would begin to get hot, make a humming noise and give off that classic ‘electrical’ smell. As I recall, if you touched the exposed (never happen nowadays) power terminals on it, you’d get a little ‘poke.’ Not a bad thing. Kept you alert.
Two of my other favorites were an Erector Set and Lincoln Logs. These two were hugely popular in the ‘50s. The Erector Set came with prefab metal girders, braces, wheels, pulleys, cranks and also about a thousand little nuts, bolts and washers with which you could build cranes, buildings, construction equipment, or cobble together something of your own design. I remember hearing an interview with a famous tech giant who said Erector sets were what got him interested in science.
Lincoln Logs were low-tech fun for the entire family, but more boys than girls tended to get them. I remember my sisters and I all playing with Lincoln Logs, building cabins and more ambitious structures, all the while arguing over who lost the one piece we needed. Sooner or later we found it, usually under the tree skirt or buried in the under-tree pile of ‘stuff’ a few days after Christmas.
I always got my brother and sisters one gift each from my snow shoveling money, or if snow season had been a little thin up to that point, whatever I could beg from my Mom. I remember getting my brother a brand new Craftsman pliers one time. I seem to recall getting my sisters dolls or crayons or maybe an article of clothing recommended by Mom, who usually went and bought the item herself. One year I bought my older sister a foot-long beautifully detailed plastic Palamino horse. She later became a talented artist who drew and painted all sorts of horses and eventually owned a few.
Gifts for Mom and Dad were usually hand-made (we’re talking grade school here) through the good offices and helpful advice of the Franciscan Sisters who had all sorts of crafty ideas. You can do a lot with construction paper and glue. For those with more ambition (and skill) you could whip up a nifty Nativity set with flour, salt and water, the same stuff you made your hand print with in kindergarten. I think I made a Nativity set one year. The three wise men looked a little worse for wear after their long journey. More like the three wise blobs.
Well, I’d better get shopping for this Christmas. Thank goodness my snow shoveling fund is in good shape this year.
Lots of correspondence from you over the past few days…
As for the Lincoln ‘problem child’ question, I think I inadvertently misled you. I did not mean an actual child, just a problematic person in Lincoln’s inner circle. He was a high-ranking official in the Administration.
Terry guessed Robert Lincoln as the ‘problem child,’ and yes, he was one at times. Josie thought Tad Lincoln was the culprit. Tad was a bit of a wild hair, but no, that’s not what we need. So, that question is still available.
Eldon was the first one to remember the unforgettable trio of Giesick, Dodge and Morrison, all piano teachers in GB during the ‘50s and later, also. Eldon liked piano so much he took up the saxophone!
Edith also remembered the trio of keyboard ticklers from way back when. Great Bend had a slew of piano teachers in those days. It was (and still is, to a lesser degree) a great work-at-home job.
Tim guessed Louisville Slugger as the nation’s second-oldest sporting goods manufacturer. Good guess, but sorry, not quite what we needed. HINT: The sport served by this company was not ordinarily (although it COULD be) known as a team sport.
We had two correct answers for the stratospheric soprano singer of the ‘70s. Vicky got it first: Minnie Riperton; Bill was in just a little later. Minnie had a huge hit in ’75 with ‘Lovin’ You,’ and also was mother of comedic actress Maya Rudolph. (Thanks to Vicki for that latter fact.)
If my math is correct, that leaves three ‘leftover’ questions: Lincoln’s problem child; also the edible confection that can be used as a hair conditioner and sunburn soother question. One more: the name of the 2nd oldest sporting goods manufacturer.
And since you’ve been so good this year, Santa has left you two new ones:
What popular Christmas tune mentions the name (first and last) of the singer’s girlfriend?
If you were a member of a trendy, adventurous family in the early-to-mid ‘60s, what sort of Christmas tree might you have had in your home? I’ll consider either of two types correct.
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Well, until next week, be naughty or nice. (Don’t worry, Santa can’t be watching EVERYONE all the time, right?