Universal Monster Army

Collecting Monsters => Vintage Monster Toys => Topic started by: mjaycox on December 24, 2011, 07:03:27 PM

Title: A Child's Christmas In Riverwoods. (Christmas monster toy memories)
Post by: mjaycox on December 24, 2011, 07:03:27 PM
Hello Boils and Ghouls,

The following long essay is my reminiscing on Christmases from my childhood, and one in particular when I desperately wanted a Remco Wolf Man figure. It is also about when I saw "Son of Frankenstein" for the first time, and how it became a holiday favorite. And of course it is also a homage to Dylan Thomas's great remembrance of things past. It is not meant to be entirely historically accurate, but more an evocation of what life was like for me then. Riverwoods was the small town north of Chicago I grew up in. It was the greatest place to grow up. I think of it more at this time of year than any other.

Merry Christmas all. And thanks for reading.

Matt

***

 A Child’s Christmas In Riverwoods



When I was a boy it snowed on Christmas.

Every Christmas.

Each snowfall was distinguished from the last only by the amount and insistence with which it came. It would fall down from the tips of the branches of Gardner’s woods, roll down the hill of Duffy lane, obscuring the well-worn footpaths through the park, where only a few months ago the sand diamonds were freshly raked. Large flakes, silver and dark against the lamplight, fell silently year after year on to the smooth, still waters of our pond and settled into invisibility. 

I would watch from my upstairs bedroom window as they drifted past, illuminated by the Christmas lights strung high in our evergreen tree. Sometimes my window was closed, sometimes open. It didn’t matter. My house was warm in those days, always. What need had I to close it? As it pillowed softly inch by inch on the long stretch of the open meadow near my home, its surface began to look like another planet, and, in my mind, it was always how I imagined the North Pole must look. Half-fallen wood posts, secured together by railroad spikes, once which held wire fences, stuck up slightly above the snow in the twilight. If they had been candy-cane striped, the image would have been complete.

The magnificence of my childhood in Riverwoods began in 1974. It lasted throughout all the years that saw my Father’s family spread, leave, and grow into its second generation— (I was the last of its first). There were twelve of us, in all. 11 brothers, one sister. Hard to believe then. Harder now.  When my Father first built our home, it was barely a ranch.  The family was smaller then. As it grew, the house grew with us until it was a split-level with 6 bedrooms and two fireplaces, one at each end. The basement windows were below ground halfway, and so if we wanted to, my brother Chris and I could pretend we were snowbound. And when the snow was deep, as it so often was, we could leap from our upper windows into the banks.

(http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7032/6566158377_1187e3a815_z.jpg)
(a snowbank outside my bedroom window)

(http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7001/6566179869_350d7953e2_z.jpg)
(my front yard)

I remember so little of those early years. Mostly what remains are the images. They crowd through my mind in rapid colorful succession like confetti at a parade, tangible, but flimsy. Hard to grasp. 

But I remember the snow. It was not an inconvenience in those days, and therefore so much more important to me. The way it settled onto the top of our toffee-tree lamp post, diffusing the light, until, as the tree grew around it in time, it became shielded from the snow forever. The snow would come down so heavily, that once in 1978, we dug paths through the snow drifts so that we could walk in the back yard. I would pass through the tunnels like a gunnery sergeant in the trenches of France. I remember all the snowfalls. And I remember the Christmases. The two are linked, really. You can’t have one without the other. Not if you grew up in my home in the 70s.     

 
***
“ The Christmas tree is out!” I heard exclaimed.
“Are the branches sorted?”
“Don’t know—wait—yes, they’re doing it now!”

They were indeed. My Father and older brothers.  Our Christmas tree was kept in an old refrigerator box in the rafters of our attic. We used to have a real tree every Christmas, but when our house burned (from something else) one year, my mother feared for having anything so flammable as a real tree in our house again. So we had an artificial one. Its trunk was made of two joined pieces of ash with sockets drilled into it. Each branch went in individually, and were color coded on their stems by size. The colors had been put on with crayon by my dad and me the year before. From this same crayon set, each year, I would take a blue crayon and mark down the date of the first snowfall in the back cover of an Incredible Hulk coloring book I had. I kept this same crayon to write with every year. I was an observer of ritual even then. 

(http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7141/6566181701_c05e4c9a70.jpg)

But on our tree, the crayon marks were wearing off, and hard to see, so branch sorting was going slowly. My father hated to leave a project in progress, so when the time for 5 O’clock Saturday Mass came, he stayed behind while my Mom took my brothers to Church. I stayed with him and we began to decorate the tree. Lights, tinsel, garlands, ornaments, nativity set with ceramic figures, and tree-top star made by my bother Tim. The TV was on in the front room, and my Dad and I had started a fire (my job was to crumple the newspaper and stuff it under the kindling). With the fire crackling, and the light fading, Dad stood on top of a dining chair and hung the ornaments high above while I worked below.

The TV was tuned to WFLD channel 32, which, regardless of season, showed Saturday Chiller Theater. The shows were in a rotation, and rarely deviated from a set order. Thus “The Wolf Man” came on in October (and again in Summer),  “Dracula” was  early in the rotation, around the time school would start. “Abbott and Costello Meet” was, of course, Halloween.

But Christmas time? That was the time for “Son of Frankenstein.” 

I remember so clearly seeing it for the first time that Christmas season as my Dad and I set up the tree. The strangeness of Frankenstein’s Sheepskin vest, how it made him look like he stepped out of a story book. The pit of what looked like lava in the Baron’s laboratory. The strange worn countryside outside of train car. How Wolf Frankenstein’s fireplace resembled ours. It was the sort of fireplace conversations of great import could take place around.  And most of all, I remember Ygor—his wild mischievous eyes and grizzled beard. The Monster I could be friends with. He was a child too. But instinctively as a child, I knew Ygor was one to not trust.
(http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7018/6566307681_7f320acf5d_z.jpg)

When the film was over, the tree was done decorating. My Father went upstairs to change and my Mom returned home from church. She followed him upstairs. They were having company this evening. They and their friends would gather, and go home to home seeing each others’ Yuletide decorations. They would bring Christmas cards and bottles of wine and exotic cheeses and fruits and desserts. The cards would be clipped to a pair of long green canvas banners which hung high from the side of our brick fireplace. I liked hanging them. Feeling the heavy cardstock, the red velvet surfaces fretted with gold, and baroque images of the Virgin and Christ Child, somber silhouettes of the Magi traveling beneath the star. Inside were inscriptions from family and friends I didn’t know, but my heart raced to read them nonetheless; they were like the harbingers of people I would be seeing in coming weeks. Each with a new story fit only for telling over a plate of pfefferneuse cookies and a glass of warm egg nog.

As the door bell rang, I would rush to answer it, passing beneath the holly-swag garland my dad and I hung in the archway leading to the foyer, (thinking how I would swing from them when nobody was looking).  Elegantly-dressed ladies passed through the door one after the other.  Some called me “Mark”, others “Chris”. Very few could get my name straight, and when they did, always came the tone of surprise.

“Matt?! Really?!”
“Oh my goodness. Getting big.”
“No longer sickly…”

But on this night, so soon after “Son of Frankenstein” finished, the doorbell rang one last time. I ran to it, opened the door and peered out into the darkness over the snow of the front yard. From up to my right, a head leaned down and looked at me. Two wild eyes beneath a mane of shaggy hair were the only human features in a face concealed by the thickest beard I had ever seen. Mischief looked out of them. Teeth went from ear to ear, and he wore a heavy wool sweater turtleneck. And worst of all, he knew my name.

“Hello, Matt!”     

Ygor had come to my house, and he knew my name! I screamed and ran away up to my room and hid, never having been so scared in my life. Mr. Schorr, my Dad’s friend, stood on our doorstep, feeling bewildered. But he never forgot the day I mistook him for Frankenstein’s evil assistant. 

And I have never forgotten to watch “Son of Frankenstein” at least once each year at Christmas time.

***

“The presents are starting to come!” Chris said.
“Really? Where?”
“There, next to the table side of the Tree!”

And so they were. This Christmas, those who couldn’t be with us, (and they were thankfully few), sent their presents ahead. They stood like the advance guard beneath the tree, wrapped in red glossy paper and tied with green velvet ribbon. Even one of them was for me. Christmas was still more than a week away, and for some reason, my brother Chris and I had a made a point to play with our toys of last year. At that time, we had been given a planetarium set. It was a small table-mounted black lantern that when lit up would shine the stars of the night sky on our ceiling. It came with a cassette tape which you played in a tiny tots tape player. When played, a deep voice would begin, “This is our solar system.” As though we had guilty consciences, we would always return to our presents of the year past to show—“look Santa! We really are still playing with it! Please bring more toys.”

I did not know what they contained, but these new presents were a reminder to me that I needed to get a move on if I didn’t want Santa Claus to forget my wish list. Especially this year above all years.

Because this year I wanted the “Wolf Man.” Not just any Wolfman.

The Remco Wolfman. On the blister card with the artwork that looked like it was from “Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein.”  I had seen it in pictures, and catalogues for Sears and Penneys and Childs World, and on TV commercials. I loved the Wolfman beyond all reasoning, and I desperately wanted this figure. It was the same size as my Star Wars figures, but so much more important in my imagination.
(http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7161/6566180815_ca93c89d21.jpg)

I had seen the ad on TV—how they glowed. How they had a carrying case which doubled as a monster castle. How a lab table could energize them to glow in the dark. I delighted at the prospect that the monsters could hang out as friends, like the Justice League. Even as a child I knew there was something off about Remco toys, something a little different—special even. They were like regular toys turned on their side… they had attitude.
(http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7153/6566181983_af12918f43.jpg)

Their Spiderman toys crawled up web lines and cast web-shaped flashlight lights. Incredible Hulk could parachute alongside the Planet of the Apes. They didn’t bother making a fortress of solitude for Superman… they made his prison instead. Utility belts weren’t restricted to Batman—the Enterprise crew had them too, as did Captain America. 
(http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7171/6566185471_d8734e79a9_z.jpg)
(http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7021/6566180679_ab6d43b56c_z.jpg)
(gamma glow machine? Superman's hula hoop prison is more like it)
(http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7152/6566181069_3357069167.jpg)
(http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7002/6566180911_304755c40e.jpg)
(http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7145/6566181325_7ffc8a180a.jpg)

So it was off to Santa with the list. And keep it short so its importance would be emphasized, lest Santa get distracted in amidst the needless requests for a new soccerball or hot wheels cars.

But I hedged my bets and told my parents too.  No need to take risks.

(http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7168/6566168485_a1f22bc2f1_z.jpg)
(me and my brother Chris seeing Santa at the mall in Vernon Hills. I am the one talking)

(continued on next post)
Title: A Child's Christmas In Riverwoods. (Christmas monster toy memories) (part II)
Post by: mjaycox on December 24, 2011, 07:04:36 PM
(part II and end)
***
It was the last Christmas of the decade. The era of the glow was drawing to a close. 70s fashion was disappearing. Or at least what most people think of when they think of the 1970s (although it really only comprises the time from ‘76-’78).

Bell-bottoms were disappearing in favor of skin-tight denim. The long contagion of plaid had arrived, held together by snap buttons with faux mother of pearl inlay. Suede vests, nubuck finish, with lambswool lining and fringe soon followed. And boots, which formerly had meant only those particular black galoshes one wears over their sneakers, now came in all varieties—one year it was suede engineer boots, (to go with the vests), the next it was the duck boot. The moon boot, whose failure to keep out moisture was equaled only by its monumental ugliness, was not yet upon us.
(http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7159/6566170405_dc6a91cd3b_z.jpg)
(my family at Christmas. I am front and down below looking up.)

Outside, my brothers were building snowmen. They did this every year. Except for the year they built the snow “Thing.” No one was quite sure what it was… it looked like an obelisk. In the end, my brother Steve sat astride it. 

(http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7016/6566159281_3fe4ef60c1_z.jpg)
(http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7152/6566159599_2cf4ef08a3_z.jpg)
(http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7169/6566169951_33fbe7ce6b_z.jpg)
(that snowman looks kind of frightening, actually)

But this year, a snowman was enough. The fire was again lit, and I moved through a sea of legs this Christmas Eve.  They passed around me, revealing only the fabric of their pants: jeans, jeans, corduroy, flannel suit trouser, flannel skirt, jeans. Occasionally a hand would hang down and ruffle my hair, as though I was the family pet passing through the living room looking for a handout. There was my oldest brother Tom, always wearing two-toned glasses. My Uncle Bobby who was a toy train enthusiast, and never more so than when on Christmas.

My Uncle Charles was a priest.  It seemed every Catholic family big enough had a priest in it somewhere in those days. He would spend Christmas with us, although my brothers remember him more. He brought with him on Christmas a Frankenstein doll, that when a button was pushed, would drop his pants and blush. How he would laugh till tears rolled when he did this! Ostensibly a present for my brothers and me, we all deep down knew he bought it for himself. 

And my brother Dave—beautiful Dave, still smiling and alive and happy always in my memory. This is how I like to remember him-- heedless joy and a little bit of wickedness in the eyes. Those eyes were well-honed. They could spot the perfect forked branch from which to make a sling-shot, or the ideal tree in which to build a tree house. Wearing a Deerfield letter jacket, the leather cracked at the elbows.
(http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7153/6566168943_87fde6311e_z.jpg)
(gathered around the fireplace in winter. I am on my brother Dave's lap, left foreground)

I watched the adults through the fireplace from the dining-room side. Kneeling down next to the warmth, I could peer past the hearth into the living room beyond as the embers glowed and popped. I didn’t really know why the funny stories were funny or the somber stories sad. It was easier to kneel here. The Christmas tree was behind me. On it, there was a string of lights which was mostly pink and blue and yellow. It flashed on and off, and the blinking would reflect in the glass of the fire-screen.
(http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7003/6566168121_d59e824493_z.jpg)
(our walkaround fireplace, viweed from the living room through to the dining room. My brother Mark, Chris and me in the middle)

Behind me under the tree was, I believed, the toy I had been yearning for. Wrapped in blue wrapping paper with white snowflakes on it. From my Mom and Dad it was signed. My parents presents to me would always arrive a few days before Christmas. (Santa’s would come only on Christmas, and usually unwrapped so as to distinguish the two.) Looking at it, it certainly was the right size and shape to be a blister-carded Wolfman. What else could it be? I had shaken it several times, and even temporarily hazarded the thought of lifting up just the tiniest corner of the paper to peer inside. After all, I reasoned, how would Santa ever find out? But I was too chicken.       

So we watched a performance of the “Nutcracker” on PBS, and then all dispersed for bed.

***
And so that night I lulled to sleep—and woe betide
And dreamed a dream of monsters deep
From my warm bedside

I saw pale creatures, and wolfmen too,
Pale monsters—death pale were they all;
They cried: “the pitiless Remco glow Wolfman
Hath thee in thrall!”

I saw their starved lips in the gleam
With horrid warning gaping wide
Till I awoke and found me here,
On my cold bedside
.

No Christmas that I can recall now ever began with me awakening… it was always the rapid running down of the stairs to the hallway. Never pausing to put on slippers, I can recall so easily now the feel of the shag carpeting between my toes, the white patches of it interspersed here and there with darker brown, like a moocow. How luxuriant it felt! The running over it in the race to the dining room. Leaping over the ottoman like a sprinters hurdle, round the coffee table, narrowly avoiding the copper log-bin before sliding on pajamaed knee to the wood parquee floor in front of the tree. Briefly pausing to examine the clock to see that it was in fact 7:00 am.

Chris and I would carefully examine our presents first before diving in, placing them in an order in which to be unwrapped—first a large one, then a couple small ones, then a medium, another large. It didn’t do to unwrap all the big stuff first—what came after might be a let down in comparison.

But this year I couldn’t wait for such precision. I grabbed the wrapped blister carded figure and ripped it open quickly, only to find, much to my dismay… Boba Fett! I sat back on my heels and sighed, not paying attention as Chris worked his way through the presents.   

(http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7004/6566241903_b49ba38a4f.jpg)
(Drat!)

The next one I opened was a large present. It was a beginners Magic set, complete with top hat and cups with balls and rings and—best of all—a magic wand! Black shaft stick with white ends, like in the cartoons! I opened the box and dug around for the magic wand. As I grabbed it, I half expected to feel some of the magic transfer into my hand, like static electricity… but it just seemed like a normal piece of wood. Yet I had seen it work with my own eyes! Just this last summer at a birthday party, I saw this very same wand produce a rabbit from a hat.

(http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7016/6566241997_e23a8df1a0.jpg)

If I couldn’t have a Remco Wolfman, I would make one. But better start with something simple first—an invisibility trick. That seemed about right. I searched around for something to use, half tempted to try and make my brother disappear. The obviousness of his joy was getting on my nerves. I took the salt shaker off the dining table and dropped it inside a Christmas stocking. I pinched the end of the stocking closed. I waved the wand over the top of it solemnly, and intoned: Abra Cadabra! Then looked inside.

The salt shaker was still there. I cursed myself for a fool. I didn’t bother to try again. A nagging feeling inside told me it wouldn’t work. This would go down in my memory as the Christmas when I learned that magic didn’t exist.

Until I looked down and saw how wrong I was…

There they were. 

Stacked one behind the other at my feet. The black glossy cards with the silver-toned images. The sunburst of glow lightning peeking out around the edges of the blister.  In my rush to open the wrapped gifts, I had somehow forgotten about the unwrapped ones Santa always left at the hearth. And now I was holding them.

Dracula was in front, his mouth spread wide, and two fangs hanging down like silver stalactites.  I cast him aside. Behind him, ImHoTep peered out from a  ¾ profile, and as my pulse quickened, I set him down only to find Frankenstein behind, his scarred forehead burned in the windmill fire.

Finally, as I got to the back, there he was. On canine tip-toe, eyes turned to the side as though scouting for his prey. Twin trails of blood down the corners of his mouth, and a sickly green pallor to his face. That could mean only one thing.
(http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7151/6566181485_aae1435126_b.jpg)
(the face of fear)

Thirty seconds later he was out of the package and I was in the bathroom holding him next to the night-lite, the blinds fastened and the door closed to admit no illumination. Then I flicked off the night-lite. At that moment, as I had when seeing the movies in the past, I knew the happiness of harmless fear. I tried them all out, one by one, culminating with the Mummy whose glow power wasn’t restricted to his face and hands—his whole body glowed! But I kept returning to the Wolfman, as I would in the months and years to come.

Later that night, I was again passing among a sea of legs, the Wolfman tucked safely in the pocket of my maroon corduroy pants, being turned over and over in my hand. The reality and weight of him was comforting.

Everyone walked around wearing their new sweaters-- some styled like those a downhill racer might wear, some like a logger; some fine knit, others cable-knit; some turtle neck, some V-neck; but thankfully none with Santa Claus on them. That particular affliction passed us by that Christmas.  My brother ran past with his Goodyear blimp hoisted above his head like a football. It appeared to the size of a watermelon. He, for some reason, made jet sound effects as he ran past before disappearing into the basement. New Hot Wheels cars were tried out on the stair railings like a long ski jump. They would crash into the banister on the way down.  Enough damage and they would be off to the crank vice in my fathers workshop, to be crushed like at the auto wreckers.

(http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7029/6566170793_9cd94686de_z.jpg)
(Christmas again. My brother Chris is wearing the "7" shirt)

My Uncle came in the front door, dripping onto the multi-colored slate floor of the foyer, shaking the dampness out of his scarf, he told of how it was really coming down in Deerfield and Lincolnshire where he had just been to visit. I threw his coat on the bed of the nearest room as he headed into the kitchen to pour some egg nog. Blushing Frankenstein had come with him as expected. Outside the window of the bedroom, I could see the moon was beginning to rise above Gardner’s woods, golden yellow like warm custard

“Get the leaves for the dining table” 
“All of them!”
“How many are we today?”
“Just get all, we will need them”

Our dining table was maple wood and could expand to accommodate a growing crowd. Like our house. There were three removable leaves I knew of, and whenever the table was opened to place them, it meant something truly special was going on. As I stood warm by the fire, I watched my Dad and older brothers unlatch it and pull it lengthwise.  One by one, the family gathered around it as the leaves were laid down and secured, as though scouting out their favorite place setting.

At the time, I thought it would continue expanding endlessly as the family grew around us, and the children had children and wives—but we were, in the future, never to come together again so completely as in those days. The faster we all became, the less convenient it was to all be in one place. But in those days, time was less valuable, and now therefore so much more precious. There was time then for hockey games on Gardner’s pond, time for Christmas eve’s eve, Christmas eve, Christmas itself, the day after—the revelry being released like one long, slow breath, fearful of running out. And as the days passed beyond towards the Feast of the Epiphany, the matter of which of the toys and gifts were the best would gradually reveal itself through natural selection. 
(http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7153/6566410683_a6e6335bdb_z.jpg)
(hockey game on our pond)

Perhaps I suspected this even then. I don’t know. But something made me put on my coat and snow pants and venture out into the night. The Wolfman was secure in the pocket of my coat as I stepped out of the basement stairwell under the light of the moon.
(http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7157/6566166879_06e219f399_z.jpg)
(my backyard, looking toward Gardner's wood)

I turned toward Gardner’s woods.  The moonlight on the snow looked like the ending of “The Fearless Vampire Killers”. If you know that movie, then you know what I am talking about. I walked on toward the wood.
(http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7034/6566185115_5f4e9dfd9f_b.jpg)
(FVK)

As I continued, the voices from the house gradually receded behind me until it was still and silent and dark. There was only a faint whisper in the wind; the sound of thousands of snowflakes gently displacing the air as they came down around me. On nights like these, you could hear the sounds of snow.
(http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7025/6566181863_2d1521fb2b_z.jpg)

I passed into Gardner’s woods , the trees closing in around me like taller gargantuan versions of the legs of my family. Legs which must surely be sitting down to the table now, passing around warm cookies. The trunks stretched high into the air, like skinny telephone poles, no canopy of leaves to shield the falling from above.

Presently I came upon a field of birches. The snow from the previous evening had melted in the warm sun of Christmas day. But now, cold again, it had frozen to ice leaving the trees to appear as though they had been encased in candy glazing. I struck one with a heavy stick and its diamond-like jacket broke and showered down into the cushioned bed of the forest floor. The ice that remained up high was cracked, and picked up the moonlight in a many-colored prism.

Beyond the patch of birches was an open field, a small meadow within the woods. I was very far from home now. No lights could be seen from any neighbors houses, no smells of fireplaces were carried this far on the wind. Given enough time, my footfalls would be obscured, and I would be lost and perhaps remain here as a permanent fixture, covered in frosted glaze.

My Uncle was right. It was snowing heavily now. All over Riverwoods and beyond, into Lincolnshire and Bannockburn. Over all of Gardner’s wood. The Ponds and hills of Duffy. On the steeple of Holy Cross church, and tombstones of the cemetery, and on the far meadows beyond my front yard.
(http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7034/6566158947_c288f480b6_z.jpg)
(my backyard at Christmas)

I fell down gently onto my back, feeling the snow drift support my weight for the briefest, sweetest of moments, until I sank into its enfolds. The moon was directly overhead, and the illuminated snowflakes came toward my face like stars falling from the sky.

I took the Wolfman out of my pocket and held him in the moonlight for a long while, silhoutted and perfect for the last time. Cupped in my mittens, I could see him glowing, dreaming of the hunt.

Soon I would rise and return home. But not now. Not yet.

Somewhere, in the night, I heard a dog howl.

I knew how he felt.   

(http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7146/6566180515_ef3de0de2e_z.jpg)
(sunset over Gardner's wood)
Title: Re: A Child's Christmas In Riverwoods. (Christmas monster toy memories)
Post by: Dr. Madd on December 24, 2011, 08:23:55 PM
(http://a3.ec-images.myspacecdn.com/images02/123/204f52c6697e4bc0ab187877c7aa302b/l.jpg)

(http://a1.ec-images.myspacecdn.com/images02/130/ec5c55d209ff4de8b4a421e8e7cdc1cc/l.jpg)

(http://a2.ec-images.myspacecdn.com/images02/116/57875bc3ded24e9095694427862a79ff/l.jpg)

This was one of my favorite christmas Presents.. Its a wonder That I'm not a Hairy Hominid myself.

(http://www.samstoybox.com/toypics/MonsterMachine.jpg)

I wish I still had this.. I loved this toy as a kid.

(http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3563/3473822921_cbfc21a42f_z.jpg?zz=1)

I loved this game.. I wore it out playing it as a child.
Title: Re: A Child's Christmas In Riverwoods. (Christmas monster toy memories)
Post by: raycastile on December 24, 2011, 09:01:09 PM
Beautifully written, Matt!  Poetic.
Title: Re: A Child's Christmas In Riverwoods. (Christmas monster toy memories)
Post by: Radioactive Rod Whitenack on December 24, 2011, 09:02:56 PM
This is the best post I've ever read on the UMA. Thank you, mjaycox. In a way, reading this saved me on a lonely Christmas Eve in place far from my own better memories.

Rod
Title: Re: A Child's Christmas In Riverwoods. (Christmas monster toy memories)
Post by: Gasport on December 24, 2011, 09:47:00 PM
There is nothing else i could think of that i would rather have read on Christmas Eve, Matt....Simply beautiful. I, too lived in a very rural area with a backyard hill worthy of Olympic quality sleigh riding. Up until right now i had forgotten how you could actually hear the snow falling around you as you sat on your sled at the top of the hill contemplating the wild ride which laid ahead. Thank you for reminding me...Merry Christmas!
Title: Re: A Child's Christmas In Riverwoods. (Christmas monster toy memories)
Post by: seed_murda on December 24, 2011, 10:01:14 PM
Awesome post, reminded me of better times during christmas. Florida really bums me out sometimes.  I dont really have family down here and ever since I moved down here things just havent been quite the same during the holidays. Thank You for sharing !!
Title: Re: A Child's Christmas In Riverwoods. (Christmas monster toy memories)
Post by: raycastile on December 24, 2011, 10:09:47 PM
I wish I could remember my own childhood so vividly. What I remember are impressions, emotions, atmosphere, snapshot images. I can fill in the blanks with my imagination, but it's contaminated by my adult experiences. I think one of the reasons I collect toys is to reinforce these faded memories, make them seem more corporeal. Reading of someone else's childhood helps me better remember my own.
Title: Re: A Child's Christmas In Riverwoods. (Christmas monster toy memories)
Post by: fmofmpls on December 25, 2011, 09:04:52 AM
What a great Christmas present to all of us Matt! Thanks for posting such a poetic masterpiece!
Title: Re: A Child's Christmas In Riverwoods. (Christmas monster toy memories)
Post by: Dr. Madd on December 25, 2011, 11:28:00 AM
I have to agree, Matt. Your story brought back memories of my own christmas. Thus the Monkey puppet.
Title: Re: A Child's Christmas In Riverwoods. (Christmas monster toy memories)
Post by: Devlin on December 25, 2011, 12:14:00 PM
There are a couple of pages of original art from that Hulk coloring book framed and hung in the living room only 6/10 of a mile from me at this moment. My buddy Robert opted for those... I went for some H.E.R.B.I.E. the Robot pages from the Fantastic Four coloring book that came out at the same time.
Title: Re: A Child's Christmas In Riverwoods. (Christmas monster toy memories)
Post by: AHI Creature on December 25, 2011, 03:04:00 PM
Truly masterful writing Matt, thanks for the awesome Christmas present.  This is exactly what UMA is all about.  You are blessed to have such a vivid memory and the ability to communicate it so well.  Please get this published so people beyond the UMA can enjoy it!
Title: Re: A Child's Christmas In Riverwoods. (Christmas monster toy memories)
Post by: RICKH on December 26, 2011, 12:57:54 AM
Truly a hauntingly beautiful piece of prose.  The longing, excitement and magic of Christmas are described perfectly.  Thank you.
Title: Re: A Child's Christmas In Riverwoods. (Christmas monster toy memories)
Post by: poseablemonster on December 26, 2011, 11:31:47 AM
Beautiful work, Matt.  This was a great thing to read after experiencing my own kids Christmas this year, and recollecting on mine.  Thanks for the post, one of the nicest treats the UMA has ever had to offer.  Merry Christmas, my friend.
Title: Re: A Child's Christmas In Riverwoods. (Christmas monster toy memories)
Post by: Moonshadow on December 26, 2011, 12:11:46 PM
Matt, thank you for sharing your memories. That's beautifully written and quite evocative.
Title: Re: A Child's Christmas In Riverwoods. (Christmas monster toy memories)
Post by: Unknown Primate on December 26, 2011, 04:58:57 PM
Awesome!  Conjured up a few Christmas memories of my own - thanks for posting your beautiful story.
Title: Re: A Child's Christmas In Riverwoods. (Christmas monster toy memories)
Post by: Hepcat on December 26, 2011, 08:02:39 PM
Quote from: mrjaycox
Until I looked down and saw how wrong I was…

There they were. 

Stacked one behind the other at my feet. The black glossy cards with the silver-toned images. The sunburst of glow lightning peeking out around the edges of the blister.  In my rush to open the wrapped gifts, I had somehow forgotten about the unwrapped ones Santa always left at the hearth. And now I was holding them.

Dracula was in front, his mouth spread wide, and two fangs hanging down like silver stalactites.  I cast him aside. Behind him, ImHoTep peered out from a  ¾ profile, and as my pulse quickened, I set him down only to find Frankenstein behind, his scarred forehead burned in the windmill fire.

Finally, as I got to the back, there he was. On canine tip-toe, eyes turned to the side as though scouting for his prey. Twin trails of blood down the corners of his mouth, and a sickly green pallor to his face. That could mean only one thing.

Wow! Do you still have them, or do you now have M.O.C. ones to replace the originals you had that are now long gone?

 ???
Title: Re: A Child's Christmas In Riverwoods. (Christmas monster toy memories)
Post by: mjaycox on December 26, 2011, 08:36:52 PM
Wow! Do you still have them, or do you now have M.O.C. ones to replace the originals you had that are now long gone?

 ???

I still have them-- the original 4. All still beautiful. Somehow, they avoided the purges of my teen years.

Matt
Title: Re: A Child's Christmas In Riverwoods. (Christmas monster toy memories)
Post by: RedKing on December 28, 2011, 08:19:57 PM
what a wonderful story matt-thanks so much for posting it! side from the huge family, i grew up in almost the exact same way in the same time period. i'll never forget christma 1976 when i wa s 5 years old. after all the presents were opened my dad said he thought santa left more stuff behind the bar-lo nd behold there were several aurora prehistoric scenes kits all assembled and beautifully painted(by my dad, not santa as i thought at the time) There ws the triceratops, wooly mammoth and most wonderful of all-the giant tyrannosaurus! Christmas was magical back then indeed!
Title: Re: A Child's Christmas In Riverwoods. (Christmas monster toy memories)
Post by: bigbud on December 31, 2011, 10:32:19 PM
Great stuff Matt! One of the toys you show a pic of intrigues me. I have never seen the Super Heroes Gamma Glow Machine before. I'll have to start looking for one of those!   Buddy
Title: Re: A Child's Christmas In Riverwoods. (Christmas monster toy memories)
Post by: Sleepyhollowstudios on January 01, 2012, 10:43:04 PM
This is wonderful stuff, Matt. This is the type of story they publish, turn into a movie, and then air during 24-hour marathons on superstations.

Seriously, though, it is a wonderful story that reminds me of my own childhood Christmases. It's very evocative.

-Andy
Title: Re: A Child's Christmas In Riverwoods. (Christmas monster toy memories)
Post by: mjaycox on December 20, 2012, 11:56:19 PM
This is a bump up. I know it is the height of arrogance to bump up your own thread.

But I am in a Christmas state of mind. As an annual ritual, I just re-read what I feel are the two best Christmas stories in the English language: "A Child's Christmas in Wales" by Dylan Thomas, and James Joyce's "The Dead" (from The Dublineers). Both obviously heavily influenced what I wrote here. Nonetheless, it sums up everything I feel about Christmas, and, in a way, monster toys too.

Merry Christmas everybody. I can't wait to see what everybody got. :)

Best,

Matt
Title: Re: A Child's Christmas In Riverwoods. (Christmas monster toy memories)
Post by: 1975 on December 21, 2012, 08:55:10 AM
Great stuff!
Title: Re: A Child's Christmas In Riverwoods. (Christmas monster toy memories)
Post by: Hepcat on December 21, 2012, 11:49:21 AM
This is a bump up. I know it is the height of arrogance to bump up your own thread.

As an annual ritual, I just re-read what I feel are the two best Christmas stories in the English language: "A Child's Christmas in Wales" by Dylan Thomas, and James Joyce's "The Dead" (from The Dublineers). Both obviously heavily influenced what I wrote here. Nonetheless, it sums up everything I feel about Christmas, and, in a way, monster toys too.

No problem bumping up your own thread with great tips like that! I'll look up both those stories this week.

 8)
Title: Re: A Child's Christmas In Riverwoods. (Christmas monster toy memories)
Post by: Hepcat on December 22, 2012, 09:51:04 AM
This is the best post I've ever read on the UMA.

A year later and I still agree.

 :)

Quote from: mjaycox
When I was a boy it snowed on Christmas.

Every Christmas.

Each snowfall was distinguished from the last only by the amount and insistence with which it came. It would fall down from the tips of the branches of Gardner’s woods, roll down the hill of Duffy lane, obscuring the well-worn footpaths through the park, where only a few months ago the sand diamonds were freshly raked. Large flakes, silver and dark against the lamplight, fell silently year after year on to the smooth, still waters of our pond and settled into invisibility. 

But I remember the snow. It was not an inconvenience in those days, and therefore so much more important to me.

Yes. I too really miss the snow. The snowfall in Toronto this century is a far cry from that of the London, Ontario of my childhood.

 :(
Title: Re: A Child's Christmas In Riverwoods. (Christmas monster toy memories)
Post by: terrypierson on December 27, 2012, 12:20:47 PM
Stunning, beautiful writing. My first Christmas wasn't until the late 80s but for reasons I don't totally understand I feel a total kinship with the times you speak of. Thank you for this touching story that has provided a glimpse at what seems like a truly magical time.
Title: Re: A Child's Christmas In Riverwoods. (Christmas monster toy memories)
Post by: JulioPatrick on January 29, 2014, 05:32:30 AM
Hello Boils and Ghouls,

The following long essay is my reminiscing on Christmases from my childhood, and one in particular when I desperately wanted a Remco Wolf Man figure. It is also about when I saw "Son of Frankenstein" for the first time, and how it became a holiday favorite. And of course it is also a homage to Dylan Thomas's great remembrance of things past. It is not meant to be entirely historically accurate, but more an evocation of what life was like for me then. Riverwoods was the small town north of Chicago I grew up in. It was the greatest place to grow up. I think of it more at this time of year than any other.

Merry Christmas all. And thanks for reading.

Matt

***

 A Child’s Christmas In Riverwoods



When I was a boy it snowed on Christmas.

Every Christmas.

Each snowfall was distinguished from the last only by the amount and insistence with which it came. It would fall down from the tips of the branches of Gardner’s woods, roll down the hill of Duffy lane, obscuring the well-worn footpaths through the park, where only a few months ago the sand diamonds were freshly raked. Large flakes, silver and dark against the lamplight, fell silently year after year on to the smooth, still waters of our pond and settled into invisibility. 

I would watch from my upstairs bedroom window as they drifted past, illuminated by the Christmas lights strung high in our evergreen tree. Sometimes my window was closed, sometimes open. It didn’t matter. My house was warm in those days, always. What need had I to close it? As it pillowed softly inch by inch on the long stretch of the open meadow near my home, its surface began to look like another planet, and, in my mind, it was always how I imagined the North Pole must look. Half-fallen wood posts, secured together by railroad spikes, once which held wire fences, stuck up slightly above the snow in the twilight. If they had been candy-cane striped, the image would have been complete.

The magnificence of my childhood in Riverwoods began in 1974. It lasted throughout all the years that saw my Father’s family spread, leave, and grow into its second generation— (I was the last of its first). There were twelve of us, in all. 11 brothers, one sister. Hard to believe then. Harder now.  When my Father first built our home, it was barely a ranch.  The family was smaller then. As it grew, the house grew with us until it was a split-level with 6 bedrooms and two fireplaces, one at each end. The basement windows were below ground halfway, and so if we wanted to, my brother Chris and I could pretend we were snowbound. And when the snow was deep, as it so often was, we could leap from our upper windows into the banks.

([url]http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7032/6566158377_1187e3a815_z.jpg[/url])
(a snowbank outside my bedroom window)

([url]http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7001/6566179869_350d7953e2_z.jpg[/url])
(my front yard)

I remember so little of those early years. Mostly what remains are the images. They crowd through my mind in rapid colorful succession like confetti at a parade, tangible, but flimsy. Hard to grasp. 

But I remember the snow. It was not an inconvenience in those days, and therefore so much more important to me. The way it settled onto the top of our toffee-tree lamp post, diffusing the light, until, as the tree grew around it in time, it became shielded from the snow forever. The snow would come down so heavily, that once in 1978, we dug paths through the snow drifts so that we could walk in the back yard. I would pass through the tunnels like a gunnery sergeant in the trenches of France. I remember all the snowfalls. And I remember the Christmases. The two are linked, really. You can’t have one without the other. Not if you grew up in my home in the 70s.     

 
***
“ The Christmas tree is out!” I heard exclaimed.
“Are the branches sorted?”
“Don’t know—wait—yes, they’re doing it now!”

They were indeed. My Father and older brothers.  Our Christmas tree was kept in an old refrigerator box in the rafters of our attic. We used to have a real tree every Christmas, but when our house burned (from something else) one year, my mother feared for having anything so flammable as a real tree in our house again. So we had an artificial one. Its trunk was made of two joined pieces of ash with sockets drilled into it. Each branch went in individually, and were color coded on their stems by size. The colors had been put on with crayon by my dad and me the year before. From this same crayon set, each year, I would take a blue crayon and mark down the date of the first snowfall in the back cover of an Incredible Hulk coloring book I had. I kept this same crayon to write with every year. I was an observer of ritual even then. 

([url]http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7141/6566181701_c05e4c9a70.jpg[/url])

But on our tree, the crayon marks were wearing off, and hard to see, so branch sorting was going slowly. My father hated to leave a project in progress, so when the time for 5 O’clock Saturday Mass came, he stayed behind while my Mom took my brothers to Church. I stayed with him and we began to decorate the tree. Lights, tinsel, garlands, ornaments, nativity set with ceramic figures, and tree-top star made by my bother Tim. The TV was on in the front room, and my Dad and I had started a fire (my job was to crumple the newspaper and stuff it under the kindling). With the fire crackling, and the light fading, Dad stood on top of a dining chair and hung the ornaments high above while I worked below.

The TV was tuned to WFLD channel 32, which, regardless of season, showed Saturday Chiller Theater. The shows were in a rotation, and rarely deviated from a set order. Thus “The Wolf Man” came on in October (and again in Summer),  “Dracula” was  early in the rotation, around the time school would start. “Abbott and Costello Meet” was, of course, Halloween.

But Christmas time? That was the time for “Son of Frankenstein.” 

I remember so clearly seeing it for the first time that Christmas season as my Dad and I set up the tree. The strangeness of Frankenstein’s Sheepskin vest, how it made him look like he stepped out of a story book. The pit of what looked like lava in the Baron’s laboratory. The strange worn countryside outside of train car. How Wolf Frankenstein’s fireplace resembled ours. It was the sort of fireplace conversations of great import could take place around.  And most of all, I remember Ygor—his wild mischievous eyes and grizzled beard. The Monster I could be friends with. He was a child too. But instinctively as a child, I knew Ygor was one to not trust.
([url]http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7018/6566307681_7f320acf5d_z.jpg[/url])

When the film was over, the tree was done decorating. My Father went upstairs to change and my Mom returned home from church. She followed him upstairs. They were having company this evening. They and their friends would gather, and go home to home seeing each others’ Yuletide decorations. They would bring Christmas cards and bottles of wine and exotic cheeses and fruits and desserts. The cards would be clipped to a pair of long green canvas banners which hung high from the side of our brick fireplace. I liked hanging them. Feeling the heavy cardstock, the red velvet surfaces fretted with gold, and baroque images of the Virgin and Christ Child, somber silhouettes of the Magi traveling beneath the star. Inside were inscriptions from family and friends I didn’t know, but my heart raced to read them nonetheless; they were like the harbingers of people I would be seeing in coming weeks. Each with a new story fit only for telling over a plate of pfefferneuse cookies and a glass of warm egg nog.

As the door bell rang, I would rush to answer it, passing beneath the holly-swag garland my dad and I hung in the archway leading to the foyer, (thinking how I would swing from them when nobody was looking).  Elegantly-dressed ladies passed through the door one after the other.  Some called me “Mark”, others “Chris”. Very few could get my name straight, and when they did, always came the tone of surprise.

“Matt?! Really?!”
“Oh my goodness. Getting big.”
“No longer sickly…”

But on this night, so soon after “Son of Frankenstein” finished, the doorbell rang one last time. I ran to it, opened the door and peered out into the darkness over the snow of the front yard. From up to my right, a head leaned down and looked at me. Two wild eyes beneath a mane of shaggy hair were the only human features in a face concealed by the thickest beard I had ever seen. Mischief looked out of them. Teeth went from ear to ear, and he wore a heavy wool sweater turtleneck. And worst of all, he knew my name.

“Hello, Matt!”     

Ygor had come to my house, and he knew my name! I screamed and ran away up to my room and hid, never having been so scared in my life. Mr. Schorr, my Dad’s friend, stood on our doorstep, feeling bewildered. But he never forgot the day I mistook him for Frankenstein’s evil assistant. 

And I have never forgotten to watch “Son of Frankenstein” at least once each year at Christmas time.

***

“The presents are starting to come!” Chris said.
“Really? Where?”
“There, next to the table side of the Tree!”

And so they were. This Christmas, those who couldn’t be with us, (and they were thankfully few), sent their presents ahead. They stood like the advance guard beneath the tree, wrapped in red glossy paper and tied with green velvet ribbon. Even one of them was for me. Christmas was still more than a week away, and for some reason, my brother Chris and I had a made a point to play with our toys of last year. At that time, we had been given a planetarium set. It was a small table-mounted black lantern that when lit up would shine the stars of the night sky on our ceiling. It came with a cassette tape which you played in a tiny tots tape player. When played, a deep voice would begin, “This is our solar system.” As though we had guilty consciences, we would always return to our presents of the year past to show—“look Santa! We really are still playing with it! Please bring more toys.”

I did not know what they contained, but these new presents were a reminder to me that I needed to get a move on if I didn’t want Santa Claus to forget my wish list. Especially this year above all years.

Because this year I wanted the “Wolf Man.” Not just any Wolfman.

The Remco Wolfman. On the blister card with the artwork that looked like it was from “Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein.”  I had seen it in pictures, and catalogues for Sears and Penneys and Childs World, and on TV commercials. I loved the Wolfman beyond all reasoning, and I desperately wanted this figure. It was the same size as my Star Wars figures, but so much more important in my imagination.
([url]http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7161/6566180815_ca93c89d21.jpg[/url])

I had seen the ad on TV—how they glowed. How they had a carrying case which doubled as a monster castle. How a lab table could energize them to glow in the dark. I delighted at the prospect that the monsters could hang out as friends, like the Justice League. Even as a child I knew there was something off about Remco toys, something a little different—special even. They were like regular toys turned on their side… they had attitude.
([url]http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7153/6566181983_af12918f43.jpg[/url])

Their Spiderman toys crawled up web lines and cast web-shaped flashlight lights. Incredible Hulk could parachute alongside the Planet of the Apes. They didn’t bother making a fortress of solitude for Superman… they made his prison instead. Utility belts weren’t restricted to Batman—the Enterprise crew had them too, as did Captain America. 
([url]http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7171/6566185471_d8734e79a9_z.jpg[/url])
([url]http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7021/6566180679_ab6d43b56c_z.jpg[/url])
(gamma glow machine? Superman's hula hoop prison is more like it)
([url]http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7152/6566181069_3357069167.jpg[/url])
([url]http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7002/6566180911_304755c40e.jpg[/url])
([url]http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7145/6566181325_7ffc8a180a.jpg[/url])

So it was off to Santa with the list. And keep it short so its importance would be emphasized, lest Santa get distracted in amidst the needless requests for a new soccerball or hot wheels cars.

But I hedged my bets and told my parents too.  No need to take risks.

([url]http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7168/6566168485_a1f22bc2f1_z.jpg[/url])
(me and my brother Chris seeing Santa at the mall in Vernon Hills. I am the one talking)

(continued on next post)


Awesome way to celebrate Christmas.. I am bit scared of these horror stories and would never be love to alone at such places.
Title: Re: A Child's Christmas In Riverwoods. (Christmas monster toy memories)
Post by: Hepcat on January 29, 2014, 09:46:16 AM
What horror story? In which places would you be scared to be alone?

 ???
Title: Re: A Child's Christmas In Riverwoods. (Christmas monster toy memories)
Post by: freddie poe on January 29, 2014, 10:47:44 AM
Matt! having been an English major in college of course we read A Child's XMass in Wales ( i even played Dylan Thomas in the school production) and your short story is amazing!! You really captured the moment in memory which is not easy when writing any piece of  lengthy Lit... Its SO good i wish i wrote it!!! Nice job Buddy!! F.P.
Title: Re: A Child's Christmas In Riverwoods. (Christmas monster toy memories)
Post by: mjaycox on January 31, 2014, 04:48:11 PM
Matt! having been an English major in college of course we read A Child's XMass in Wales ( i even played Dylan Thomas in the school production) and your short story is amazing!! You really captured the moment in memory which is not easy when writing any piece of  lengthy Lit... Its SO good i wish i wrote it!!! Nice job Buddy!! F.P.

Thanks FP! And thank you to whoever resurrected this thread. I am flattered.
Title: Re: A Child's Christmas In Riverwoods. (Christmas monster toy memories)
Post by: Wich2 on February 26, 2014, 09:28:18 PM
Friend Matt, I don't know how I missed this over the holidays - but I'm glad that it was resurrected, like Larry in his crypt at Llanwelly, so that I could find it tonight. Such prodigious talents you are blessed with, sir! A Healer, a Toymaker... and a Poet.

But for the passel of brothers (in my case, it was ever-aborning cousins), and the slight shift from Silver Age to Bronze Age, your story reminds me much of my own childhood in lake-effect Defiance. Like all genuinely rich writing, your piece speaks to me particularly, even though the details are yours specfiically.

The snow. No, back then - The Snow (which seems to have returned this winter of '13 - '14, for the first time); Santa's Christmas, and Christ's Mass; priceless gifts both of tales told round the fire, and of the little sculpted bits of petroleum byproduct from those OTHER bibles of Christmas, the Wish Books.

This sometime chronicler of "The Fifth Gospel," Mr. Dickens' Yuletide masterpiece, says with the reformed Scrooge, "I thank you fifty times!"

From the heart,
-Craig

P.S. - You should submit this to GOOD OLD DAYS magazine. One of my holidays rituals in recent years, has been reading just such little memoirs - spanning 1900 to 2000 - in their back issues.
Title: Re: A Child's Christmas In Riverwoods. (Christmas monster toy memories)
Post by: Hepcat on December 20, 2014, 11:49:37 PM
Nice job Buddy!!

You bet it is! And nice enough to resurrect for Xmas again.

 :)
Title: Re: A Child's Christmas In Riverwoods. (Christmas monster toy memories)
Post by: mjaycox on December 21, 2014, 12:36:07 AM
Thank you H.C.! This is very flattering. I am glad people like my memoir.

Merry Christmas!

Matt
Title: Re: A Child's Christmas In Riverwoods. (Christmas monster toy memories)
Post by: Wich2 on December 21, 2014, 03:07:50 PM
It's a classic little memoir.

Merriest, Matt!

-Craig
Title: Re: A Child's Christmas In Riverwoods. (Christmas monster toy memories)
Post by: Ghost on December 21, 2014, 03:19:10 PM
From this same crayon set, each year, I would take a blue crayon and mark down the date of the first snowfall in the back cover of an Incredible Hulk coloring book I had. I kept this same crayon to write with every year. I was an observer of ritual even then. 

([url]http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7141/6566181701_c05e4c9a70.jpg[/url])



Here  I am with my brother receiving the same book in 1979. Same book different Christmas memory.

(http://www.retro-daze.org/images/postImages/1418837805SantaHulkcoloringbook.gif)

(http://www.retro-daze.org/images/postImages/1418845806hulkcoloringbook.gif)

Title: Re: A Child's Christmas In Riverwoods. (Christmas monster toy memories)
Post by: Wich2 on December 21, 2014, 03:52:38 PM
A much shorter one, as it just serves as an Intro to my book. But I hope it sparks memories for some.

Merriest,
-Craig


Picture if you will a brisk Christmas Eve of the early 1970’s in the snowy countryside around Defiance, Ohio. A teenage boy and his young sister sneak away from the extended family festivities taking place in a wood-paneled basement, to hunker down on the carpeting in front of the hulking Entertainment Center upstairs. The strains of Bernard Herrmann conducting Tchaikovsky’s Theme from Piano Concerto No.1 (aka Tonight We Love) begin, and soon the two are whisked away to Queen Victoria’s England—and somehow, to Franklin Roosevelt’s America at the same time!

WOWO Ft. Wayne (“The 50,000 Watt Voice of Farming”) was rebroadcasting Lionel Barrymore’s classic 1939 Campbell Playhouse production of “A Christmas Carol”—furnished, most likely, by legendary radio syndicator Charlie Michelson. The show was as magical that night as when first heard on the eve of the Second World War, and its powerful dramatization of Dickens’ heart-gripping tale of redemption was to be one of the main reasons why the present writer—only 4 years old when Classic Radio Drama was decimated by the American networks in 1962— became a life-long lover of “The Theater of the Imagination,” as well as a sometime portrayer of Ebenezer Scrooge.

That brother and sister both still love that production to this day. Like your first children’s book, your first song, or your first date, your first Carol is often one of those things that stays with you forever...

Title: Re: A Child's Christmas In Riverwoods. (Christmas monster toy memories)
Post by: Sleepyhollowstudios on December 23, 2016, 12:31:32 PM
I don't know about anyone else, but I have read this essay every year on Christmas Eve since it was first published here on the boards in 2011. It has become a Christmas tradition for me. For anyone who has not read it, do yourself a favor. It will take you back to a warm, cozy, carefree time that we can all relate to. I'll be reading it tomorrow night, as always, myself.

I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas and happy holidays!

-Andy
Title: Re: A Child's Christmas In Riverwoods. (Christmas monster toy memories)
Post by: Hepcat on December 23, 2016, 02:02:19 PM
I don't know about anyone else, but I have read this essay every year on Christmas Eve since it was first published here on the boards in 2011. It has become a Christmas tradition for me. For anyone who has not read it, do yourself a favor. It will take you back to a warm, cozy, carefree time that we can all relate to. I'll be reading it tomorrow night, as always, myself.

I agree! It's truly worth a rereading every Xmas.

 :)
Title: Re: A Child's Christmas In Riverwoods. (Christmas monster toy memories)
Post by: Wich2 on December 23, 2016, 09:19:39 PM
"A Good Story is Worth Repeating!"

Title: Re: A Child's Christmas In Riverwoods. (Christmas monster toy memories)
Post by: mjaycox on December 24, 2016, 04:12:28 PM
I don't know about anyone else, but I have read this essay every year on Christmas Eve since it was first published here on the boards in 2011. It has become a Christmas tradition for me. For anyone who has not read it, do yourself a favor. It will take you back to a warm, cozy, carefree time that we can all relate to. I'll be reading it tomorrow night, as always, myself.

I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas and happy holidays!

-Andy

Dear Andy--

What a wonderful, kind thing to say. You made my Christmas, buddy. I am so pleased my little memoir has touched people here on this list. It means more to me than you know.

Merry Christmas!

Best,

Matt
Title: Re: A Child's Christmas In Riverwoods. (Christmas monster toy memories)
Post by: YoungestMonsterKid on February 13, 2017, 07:37:01 AM
I had seen the ad on TV—how they glowed. How they had a carrying case which doubled as a monster castle. How a lab table could energize them to glow in the dark. I delighted at the prospect that the monsters could hang out as friends, like the Justice League. Even as a child I knew there was something off about Remco toys, something a little different—special even. They were like regular toys turned on their side… they had attitude.
([url]http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7153/6566181983_af12918f43.jpg[/url])


They had TV ads for the Remco monsters?
Would love to see if they still survive somewhere today.
Title: Re: A Child's Christmas In Riverwoods. (Christmas monster toy memories)
Post by: mjaycox on December 25, 2017, 10:25:56 PM
Hello all

it's Christmas evening

This memoir was about a Christmas evening from my childhood

The moon is out tonight

It reminds me of that long ago night

Merry Christmas

Matt
Title: Re: A Child's Christmas In Riverwoods. (Christmas monster toy memories)
Post by: Hepcat on December 26, 2017, 10:06:25 AM
And still a good one!

 8)

Title: Re: A Child's Christmas In Riverwoods. (Christmas monster toy memories)
Post by: Sleepyhollowstudios on December 24, 2018, 05:04:32 PM
Time for my annual reading!

Merry Christmas to you all, and Happy Holidays!

-Andy