December 25, 2008

An Althouse blog Christmas tradition: the 1953 Santa Claus.

Christmas 1953

Here we are, probably at Wanamaker's in Wilmington -- or was it Newark? -- Delaware. I will be 3 in January, and my sister is 6. I don't think either of us is buying that beard, but my doubt is tinged with trepidation, perhaps because the right jolly old elf has got me in his grip...

Santa's hand of doom

... Meanwhile, I seem to have a lollipop.

29 comments:

phx said...

Lollipop or cigarette lighter?

john said...

It looks like a Pez. I still like to munch that candy.

Merry Christmas, Professor!

Donald Douglas said...

Merry Christmas, Ann. You're as cute as a button!

wgh said...

Very cute! Merry Christmas!

Richard Fagin said...

Merry Christmas!

...from the other Jewish Richard

Pastafarian said...

I love that photo. I wonder if you're contemplating sticking that lollipop into Santa's eye. Your expression reminds me of one that my own daughter might make -- maybe she'll be a law prof someday.

Merry Christmas, Althouse and all Althousians.

save_the_rustbelt said...

Cute and determined - then and now.

Merry Christmas!

Meade said...

"Lollipop or cigarette lighter?"

Hmm... Or could it be one of the early blog pipe prototypes? Version 1.0

Chip Ahoy said...

Adorable, that is.

The Eyeclopse night vision goggles I got for the boy was well researched. The reviews were all considered and discussed with the boy's parent. Several reviews mentioned it drains batteries quickly so I also got battery charger and extra rechargeable batteries. The boy called to thank me (he opened it early, the little scamp) He conveyed the warnings proved to be overly cautious but he mentioned a manufacturer's warning on the back of the package against using rechargeable batteries. This caused consternation because I thought I had it covered and a lot more research as to why that is so. Still, don't want to give a battery-sucking toy then leave to the recipient to cover the battery requirement so yesterday I picked up a pack of a million AA batteries. Did I just say a million? I meant to say thirty-two. He totally flipped over the toy.

So there's that.

A friend dropped in just as I was fixing coffee and cutting cheese for sourdough slices. I'm glad because I had extra sourdough loaves ready to give away. He's hosting a party tomorrow so I asked if he had enough ice. He said, "Got that covered. The refrigerator makes it." I asked, "Yes, but does it make SQUARE ice?" Then showed him my fabulous cubical ice which I had in abundance. He took it all, a huge sack full, and now I'm back to making more ice for the party tomorrow. I'm using the frozen balcony for supplemental ice storage.

While sipping coffee the friend goes, "You made this vanilla latte perfectly." I go, "That's the AeroPress for you." I'd give them as gifts but I learned people have their own coffee routines and many are hesitant to try something different. I made that mistake once, imposing an AeroPress on someone already enamored with their own French press and settled in their established routine. But his compliment did give me an idea, since this guy liked what we were drinking I could assemble a vanilla latte kit. Trouble is, my wrapping paper is the suck so I made my own.

Normal people take wine to parties, I take cubical , and coffee with vanilla extract and chocolate in irresistible little Egyptoid boxes. Go figure. No need for a card because there's no question about what they're for or who brought them or any reason to express a prosaic mushy sentiment.

As to prosaic mushy sentiments, merry Christmas, Everybody, and best wishes for a new year. God bless you all, each and every one.

EDH said...

I say she's holding a candy bar with the wrapper pulled back as a sticky-free handle, or an unextended switchblade knife that is also a cigarette lighter.

Researching the archives, we have found a transcript:

Santa: What would you like for Christmas, little girl?

Althouse: You're a very nosy fellow, kitty cat. Huh? You know what happens to nosy fellows? Huh? No? Wanna guess? Huh? No? Okay. They lose their noses. [flicks knife, cutting open Santa's nostril].

Next time you lose the whole thing. Cut it off and feed it to my goldfish. Understand? Understand!?


Now that's what I call "cruel nostrilarity" at a very early age. But always thinking of her pet goldfish. How sweet.

MadisonMan said...

Hope you all have a great Christmas!

gary myers said...

Wanamakers in Wilmington on the Augustine Cut-off. A stone building on a hill. Closed since 1991 and now an office building. Wannamaker name ended entirely in 1997.

Catharine said...

Merry Christmas!

rcocean said...

To all at Althouse - Merry Christmas!

Trochilus said...

Merry Christmas, Ann!

What!

You didn't go see Santa at the Strawbridge & Clothier store in the Wilmington Merchandise Mart out in Edgemoor, just off the Governor Prince Boulevard?

I think that store opened in 1950.

And, as I recall, Santa showed up there as well. Believe me, he looked a whole lot like that fellow in your photo, too. It's almost uncanny, the resemblance!

By the way, Ann . . . here is a bit of nostalgia for you -- a painting of the old John Wanamaker store in Wilmington, just up the hill along the left from the Augustine Cutoff Bridge over the Brandywine (or, the "Whiskeybeer," as my grandfather used to say).

The bridge was quite high over the water, as the banks rose sharply at that point. There was a railroad bridge running parallel to the Cutoff. And there was even a little footbridge down along the creek. If you were driving up from the direction of Salesanium School, you'd drive under the railroad on W 18th Street, head left, and then quickly make a hard right onto the Cutoff going up the hill, and then left into the lot.

I don't recall ever hearing of the artist, Larry Anderson . . . his precis says he moved to the area from the midwest in 1984. But the likeness is pretty damned good . . . except for all the primary color little box-shaped cars parked out in front. They look more like MatchBox series cars that went with HO train sets! You can see the Augustine Cutoff at the base of his painting.

The parking was really not in front of the store, but in tiered lots up the hill and to the right, from the perspective in the painting. Or, if you were a bit daring, you could sometimes park out on the Augustine Cutoff, if it was really crowded, such as at Christmas.

Ann Althouse said...

It might have been Strawbridge's. Strawbridge's and Wanamaker's were the 2 department stores in the area. We went to both, but more frequently to Wanamaker's, which was the basis of my guess today.

john said...

PEZ - In 1952 Eduard Haas introduced his product to the United States. In 1955, the PEZ company placed heads on the dispensers and marketed them for children.

(Just in case anyone was wondering.) So it is unlikely Ann was holding a PEZ dispenser in 1953. However, some of those dispensers are now trading for serious money.

Oh, and Merry Christmas to everyone, even to Michael, who doesn't beleive.

Skyler said...

Merry Christmas, Anne, but are you really trying to make Freudian allusions about that picture? Please say you weren't. Why ruin a perfectly innocent picture. Or were you just teasing?

Trochilus said...

If you go to Google Earth, you can quite plainly see the building from above where the old John Wanamaker store was located, which, as Gary Myers noted above, is no longer a department store.

As you are zeroing in, it is located just west of I-95 (which is parallel to and just east of the Augustine Cutoff) about midway between where the interstate intersects Concord Pike and Pennsylvania Avenue (Kennett Pike), as those two roadways angle toward one another other heading into town.

Immediately south of the old Wanamaker building and across the cutoff, is the Salesanium stadium -- the oval kind of jumps out at you as you are navigating.

You can quite clearly see the parking tiers, as well as the shape of the old Wanamaker building.

Unfortunately, my (free) version of Google Earth does not have 360 photos ("Street View" under "Layers") of anything in that immediate area so you cannot see the building from the street level, as you readily can for other areas of Wilmington and vicinity. I can look right at the house I grew up in, but not the old John Wanamakers.

Google Earth does, however, have links to a few photographs -- little blue squares on the view -- of the Augustine Cutoff Bridge (from below) as well as two nifty views of the little foot bridge. They were taken by a Joe Gawinski, whose work (including a lot of Wilmington photos -especially old bridges) can be found here.

Trochilus said...

Here is Joe's photo of the Augustine Cutoff Bridge from beneath. And the footbridge.

By the way, Ann, whatever you did have in your right hand is not likely to have been a lollipop! No one holds a lollipop like that. Few mothers back in the 50's would have permitted a child to hold candy in such a situation. And Santa would not likely allow candy of any sort that close to his faux beard.

I liked the Pez idea until John thoroughly date doused that notion . . .

Here's a thought.

Check out the borders of those jibs on him. Could it have been an early form of lip liner you were holding, and you had just finished giving Santa a quick makeover?

If so, your sister seems to be noting your work with a considerable level of approval.

Trochilus said...

The three bridges.

kynefski said...

Was there ever a Strawbridge's in Wilmington other than the one down by the river? 'Cause I can't imagine a Santa Claus there.

Ann Althouse said...

It doesn't look like a Pez dispenser, but I must say that I remember Pez dispensers before there were heads on top, that is before 1955.

kynefski said...

So, do I have this right? Are we discussing Christmas, the Delaware Valley, and Pez dispensers?

A Very Pez Nativity

Trochilus said...

According to Wikipedia, the Merchandise Mart Strawbridge's was the only one in Wilmington back then, and it was replaced by the one in the Concord Mall when the earlier store closed. That sounds right.

SippicanCottage said...

A lovely picture. Merry Christmas and happy New Year.

Host with the Most said...

12 midnight here on the West Coast as I push the "publish your comment" button:

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

And again, thank you Ann for this blog.

Ann Althouse said...

Hi, Sippican. Thanks for dropping by. Merry Christmas.

Kyle Hays said...

Looks more like a kazoo to me...