Here's The Very First Story From December 2000 That Evolved Into The Website
There was Bing Crosby coming through the family Zenith loud and clear, two weeks before the big day. He was warning Butchie and me in a mellow way to not shout, pout, cry or get in any type of trouble that might have an adverse effect on our take of the loot scheduled for delivery to 117 Elm Rd, Mastic Beach, NY sometime after sundown December 24th 1952. If we only knew then what kind of a father Bing was, we might of not paid that much attention. But after all this guy wore a priests collar in a whole lot of movies, so to be on the safe side, I guess we heeded his advice. I preferred Gene Autry's version though.
Truth be known, I don't think Butchie or me ever caused too much trouble for our folks the whole time we were young, especially around Christmas time. Oh true there was that Christmas of '49 in South Ozone Park when I got the pedal car fire engine. I must of been close to three years old, which would of put Butch as going on six, when he hopped in my Super Chiefs Car to answer a 5 alarmer.
All of a sudden he let out a scream and jumped out. There was blood all over his slipper and pajamas. It seems the manufacturer saw no need to round off and dull the edges of the steel along the bottom of their fine product. As much as he yelled, he screamed even louder when Mom said, " Wally we have got to get him to the hospital." That just sent Butch over the edge. Total hysterics, screaming blue murder. It wasn't until pop said "We are going to the emergency room that he clammed up." We all piled in the Hudson and off to Kew Gardens hospital... uh ER we went. Having spent a good deal of my first year on earth in hospitals, they didn't bother me. Perhaps Butch witnessing the radiation treatments they did on me, was what got him so upset. However the word emergency room was like a switch that calmed his fears. I heard that he didn't even cry when they sewed up his heel, I stayed out in the waiting room with my sister Gerry and Pop. Ho Ho Ho.....
Other than that traumatic Christmas, I don't recall too much about Santa in the city but Christmas' in Mastic Beach are etched in my memory bank. We moved there when I was three in November of 1950. The "Beach" was a very small town then, located on the south shore of Long Island, it was around 60 miles east of our old house in South Ozone Park, Queens.
Christmas of 1952 sticks out pretty good as
I got Butch and Gerry, who was not only a Girl Scout, but old
enough to know better, in hot water with me that year. The house
in Mastic Beach had an L shaped loft over the knotty pine living
room. Mom and Dad had recently taken over one side of the loft
as they felt Gerry who was just hitting her teens, should have
the private bedroom downstairs. Come Christmas eve we were more
than ready. The stockings were hung up on our real fireplace.
(we had a fake one in the city) The fact that Pop was utilizing
it didn't seem to faze Butch or Gerry. When I asked how Santa
was able to go through the flames the answer was "Santa is
Magic, Nothing can stop him".... Ok, that was good enough
for me. The tree was set up at the foot of the stairs just a few
feet from Gerry's door. She being the oldest laid down the Christmas
morning rules. Whoever gets up first, has to wake the other two
so we can mount a three prong attack.
Just like a scene from Irving Berlin's song, 1952 in Mastic Beach was a white Christmas, and as if anyone needed a boost of madness, it was also a full moon. I remember waking up and looking out the window to a sight that was postcard perfect. The moon was so bright on the snow and icicles it may as well of been morning.....well technically it was, it was 3:15 AM eastern standard time. I gave Butch a shake.....but somehow had the intuition to whisper "Butchie...get up it's Christmas" As we snaked our way down the stairs through the darkness the tree came into view. Butch being the diligent middle sibling, obeyed the rules and knocked on Gerry's door. I decided to just center myself on the floor and survey the sight.
It was a lot darker in living room as there were only two small stained glass windows on both sides of the fireplace and most of the light was being supplied by what was left of the evenings logs. God almighty what a sight it was, even though the tree was unplugged the tinsel reflected all the colors of Christmas. Among all the pretty wrapped packages were some of the main attractions. There in the center of it all was a "Super Circus" play set by Marx all set up and ready to roar. Super Circus was a popular Sunday TV show back then and now we didn't have to wait for Sundays. Ringmaster Claude Kirchner stood in front of a lithographed tin tent with a cast of 1000's both man and beast. Butch declared it his and proceeded to open the lions cage.
Gerry's stuff was mostly wrapped and of little interest to this 5 year old. I did notice she got a Venus Paradise colored pencil art set though. What caught my eye and full attention was the Dick Tracy squad car. It too was from Marx and there's a reason for that but that's another Christmas story. I've been a car guy ever since I released the parking brake on our Hudson back in the city and proceeded to back down the slight hill in our driveway across the street and right up the neighbors, narrowly missing his kids who were playing there.
The Dick Tracy squad car was dark green made of tin and was both wind up and battery powered. I showed it to Butch and he showed me the switch underneath that turned on the lights and siren. No sooner had Tracy, Sam Ketcham and crew taken off across the living room floor in pursuit of the bad guys, our mother appeared at the balcony wall and hollered down at us, "&^%D##** It's Three In The Morning Get Back To Bed!!!! Uh oh... Game Over. Tracy and crew crashed into a chair leg that paid no heed to his flashing lights and screaming siren. Butch and Gerry who had been inordinately quiet up to this point both meekly protested with, " Well Kenny said it was morning." Marching back up the stairs was like a trip to the gallows and the three hours we had to wait before we were allowed back down felt like a lifetime. But it was a lifetime memory of the magic that's called Christmas.
J Fred was also a duo partner with Walter T Shirley back in Vaudeville Daze