Patricia Hoy submitted the following Christmas blog that conjures up wonderful memories for me of the now defunct Woodward’s department store on Hastings Street in Vancouver. It was like a Christmas Disneyland for adults and kids alike, an annual Christmas shopping event for Vancouverites in the pre mega-mall era. From huge street level windows showcasing animated motion figurines enacting winter holiday scenes, to the store’s fifth floor Toyland: a floor of toys with a pathway to a simulated north pole where animated elves were making toys for kids in Santa’s workshop, with reindeer on standby for delivery. The experience was etched in the local children’s psyche. A much anticipated visit with Santa was the reason for the line at the workshop. In my childhood imagination I believed that my gift would be made by the magic workshop elves that evening after store closing.
Like Patricia, my fond memories of Woodward’s stretch back in time to when I was 8 years old, when my dad and I stopped at the Woodward’s lunch counter for some refreshments and to rest our Christmas shopping weary feet. We split the reuben sandwich on the menu; I couldn’t eat it all myself; with 3 inches of shaved corned beef piled between the rye bread. “The best reuben in town”, my dad declared. Read Patricia’s story about Woodward’s special delivery of a Christmas gift to her home…..
Patricia’s Christmas Story:
In my family it was Santa Claus who brought the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve. The kids didn’t see it until Christmas morning. Not only did my parents set out the gifts and fill the stockings on Christmas Eve, but they also put up and decorated the tree. These were the years when dad often worked all day Christmas Eve, perhaps getting off work early, maybe 3 p.m. Mom would be busy dealing with the preparations for Christmas dinner and four excited kids. There were some very late nights for my parents.
So, it was a thrill when I was 9 or 10 and dad told me I was old enough to stay up and help put up the tree. The other kids would have to go to bed to await Santa’s arrival. As I was putting ornaments on the tree, there was a knock at the door. I remember dad questioning who would be at the house at that late hour on Christmas Eve. I looked out the window to see the blue Woodward’s truck and the delivery man at the door. When dad expressed how surprised he was to see him working so late on Christmas Eve, the delivery man replied that he didn’t want anyone to be without their packages for Christmas morning. I never did know which present it was that had been delivered, but I do know how impressed I was with that Woodward’s delivery truck driver!
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These 10 Christmas songs were hits when the baby boomers were kids or young adults, and are now classics. These quality songs are still being played on the radio today, and the reruns of the television specials that many of them are a part of, are being enjoyed all over again by the boomer’s kids and grandkids. Read the stories behind the songs.
The first 4 songs are from these four classic animated Christmas television specials that still air every year:
1. Burl Ives – Rudolf The Red Nosed Reindeer, Rudolf The Red Nosed Reindeer TV special 1964,
The song was written by Johnny Marks, and was based on a poem written by his brother in law Robert L. May in 1939. It was recorded by Gene Autry in 1949 and was #1 on Billboard pop singles chart at Christmas that year.
2. Vince Guaraldi Trio – Christmastime is Here– A Charlie Brown Christmas TV special 1965
Peanut’s creator Charles Schultz asked pianist Vince Guaraldi and his trio to put together the soundtrack for his Charlie Brown Christmas special, and he did an extraordinary job in capturing the funny and whimsical story with music that we know and love. Christmastime is Here is one of the most memorable songs on one of the most popular Christmas albums of all time.
3. Thurl Ravenscroft – You’re a Mean One Mr. Grinch, How The Grinch Stole Christmas, TV special 1966
The lyrics were written by Theodor “Dr. Seuss” Geisel. Albert Hague arranged the music and Suess was happy that Hague could slide a full octave on the word “Grinch”. The Grinch’s character was based on Suess’s grouchy feelings during the Christmas season. Anyone who has tried to park at the mall on Christmas Eve, or lined up at numerous checkouts can relate; but like us, the Grinch’s heart expands by Christmas time and he is transformed.
(see Youtube video below)
4. Jimmy Durante – Frosty The Snowman, Frosty The Snowman TV special 1969
This song was written by Walter Jack Rollins and Steve Nelson and was recorded by Gene Autry and the Country Boys in 1950, a year after the successful Rudolf, and although it never mentions Christmas, it remains one of the most popular Christmas songs ever.
5. Ross Bagdasarian – Alvin and The Chipmunks Christmas Time Is Here (Christmas Don’t Be Late) 1958
– Bagdasarian sang the song and released it in 1958. To make the voices sound like chipmunks he sped up the playback. It topped the Billboard charts for 4 weeks and won 3 Grammy awards. Bagdasarian died of a heart attack in 1972, and in 1981 his son, Ross Bagdasarian Jr. released A Chipmunk Christmas, the animated Christmas tv special
6. Burl Ives – Holly Jolly Christmas, Rudolf The Red Nose Reindeer TV special 1964.
Burl Ives released the Johnny Mark’s song as a single the following Christmas along with “Rudolf The Red Nosed Reindeer” and “Silver and Gold” and had great success with the singles.
7. Gayla Peevey – I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas – 1953
This song was released at Christmas time in 1953 when Gayla was 10 years old. She performed the song on The Ed Sullivan show before it was released in October of that year. The Oklahoma City Zoo did a newspaper promotion to raise money from the public to buy Gayla a hippo. She received Matilda the hippo which she donated to the Oklahoma zoo, and Matilda lived there for over 40 years and had many babies that were given to other zoos across the United States.
8. Spike Jones & The City Slickers – George Rock (lead vocal) – All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth, 1947.
The song was written in 1944 by Donald Yetter Gardner who was a public school music teacher in New York. While teaching music to his second grade class, Donald Yetter Gardner asked his students what they wanted for Christmas, and saw that most of them had one or two front teeth missing and that they talked with a lisp. He wrote the song in 30 minutes, and it was recorded it in 1947. It was a hit on the pop charts in 1948 and in 1949.
9. Rolf Harris – Six White Boomers – 1965
Australian Christmas song, written when the temperature was 100 degrees fahrenheit in Australia. Boomers are special white Kangaroos used in Australia by Santa instead of reindeer.
Their names are: Jackaroo, Bluey, Curly, Two-Up, Desert-Head, and Snow.
10. Royal Guardsmen – Snoopy’s Christmas – 1967
Fictitious song, but based on a true story that occurred during World War I in 1914. German soldiers (not the officers) initiated a “Christmas truce” with the British soldiers between Christmas and New Years. The truce varied in length depending on location, but the soldiers exchanged small gifts of beer and tobacco across the lines.
“The Grinch that stole Christmas” on vhs, was on constant rewind in the 1990’s at our house. My three sons watched it at Christmas, in the spring, in the summer, and in the fall. They loved Dr. Suess’s classic Christmas special so much, they wore out the tape from rewinding it so many times, that a message appeared at the beginning of the tape that said “tracking” for the first five minutes.
The original 1966 version of the animated Christmas special was expertly narrated by Boris Karloff. My son’s favorite part of the show was when the song: “You’re a Mean One Mr. Grinch” was sung. I assumed Boris Karloff was the singer of the famous song, until I learned that Boris Karloff couldn’t sing. Instead, actor Thurl Ravenscroft, ( who did the voice of Tony The Tiger for Frosted Flakes), sang the song, but his name was left out of the credits in error on the original film. Isn’t that grrrrrreeeat trivia?
I took my my sons, age 1 and 2 to the bank one Christmas season. While I stood in line in the dull building, the only sign of life was my two rambunctious boys playing at the children’s play table. Suddenly my oldest boy shouted: “Mom! look what we found – presents!” pointing to a lighted Christmas tree beside him. My jaw dropped at the mess of shredded wrapping paper beside empty shoe boxes, and their two delighted faces, so proud of their work. The people in line were bent over laughing. My face turned the color of mulled wine, as I told the kids to clean up the paper and give it to the lady, and bowed my apologies around to the room. Every Christmas since, the memory of that story is rekindled and it always makes me smile.
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One year, we booked an appointment at The Sears Photo Studio for a family Christmas portrait. When we arrived, they were an hour behind schedule, so the challenge was to keep the boys quiet and their hair combed. The waiting room was full of antsy kids with bottled energy and parents with the same refrain:”It’s almost our turn”. I was distracted by the baby squirming in my arms, when a pregnant pause filled the room, followed by a loud clap of laughter. I scanned to see the source of such joy…and there at the front counter, was my son, smiling like the Grinch. He had dropped his pants and was mooning the room and getting the exact response he was hoping for.
I hope you have an “embarrassing” moment with kids to share?
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