As an adult, it seems your priorities change radically from what they are when you were a child. More work, more stress, more expense, but through it all you need little as far as material things. You just want your children to be as happy as you were at their age. All I need is to see my grandchildren smile and maybe coerce a hug or two to make me happy.
Among all the things you got for Christmas, there was always that one, special thing that made you the happiest and that you never forgot. That may be part of the reason why A Christmas Story, that holiday institution, is something that so many of that era can relate to. The trials and tribulations of a young boy’s quest for a BB gun. We all lobbied at some point for something we just knew we’d die if we didn’t get.
Granny had a big walk-in closet where she hid things until she wrapped them. It wasn’t much of a secret, though. In 1960,she got me this:
Whenever she’d leave in the car I’d go into the closet and play with it without taking it off the card and had to act surprised when I unwrapped it on Christmas morning.
We didn’t have a lot of money but we always got at least one toy. There was a little store down the road from our farm that was run by two old sisters. It looked like something right out of a magazine. Wooden floors, a meat counter in the back, complete with sawdust on the floor and a cranky old man named Clyde Schlenk (never forget him), who would cut a piece of meat for you if you didn’t see what you wanted. Soda pop came in glass bottles and cost 10 cents.
Behind the counter were boxes of penny candy and nickel candy bars. A rack with 10-cent comics stood near the door with the Sunbeam Bread door pusher. When grandpa didn’t feel like getting up, he’d write a note and give me a dollar to ride my bicycle to the store to but him a pack of cigarettes. They sold them to me as long as I had the note. And he always wanted the change back from his dollar. He was a hard man when it came to his L&Ms.
They had a wooden shelf that went all the way around the store with some wonderful toys on it. Dolls, doll buggies, steel trucks, games, and, yes, a couple cap guns. (You KNEW that was coming, didn’t you?) I don’t recall saying anything to anybody, but there was a two gun rig made by Daisy, the BB gun maker, that had a dark finish and fake wooden grips. I thought they were so cool.
Apparently, my lust was obvious. All I can think is that the ladies must have seen how I gazed at them every time I came in, which was often. They had to have told my grandmother because it caught me completely off guard when I opened the package on Christmas morning and there they were. I was about 8 at the time, so it had to have been around 1958.
I strapped on those brushed leather holsters and I was the fastest gun in the West. Looking back, I seem to remember the grin on Granny’s face when I opened the box. Now that I’m a grandfather, I know what she was feeling. There’s nothing like a child’s squeal with delight when she gets something she’s been wanting. Sadly, too many kids today want the latest electronic gizmo with the most storage and such. How sad.
I can’t imagine in 40 years them telling their children, ‘I remember the Christmas I got the new I-phone 8 with mega memory and fast download speeds. I cuddled with it every night and dreamed of texting the entire civilized world.’ Meh.