Born on this day in 1909, in Hunt City, Illinois, actor and singer, Burl Ives. While Ives had serious acting acting roles and was a popular folk singer, we remember him most fondly as the voice of Sam The Snowman, in the Rankin/Bass Christmas special, Rudolph The Red- Nosed Reindeer.
It must’ve been Christmas ’77 or ’78, when my brother and I awoke to find dual remote-controlled R2-D2’s underneath the tree. Initially, Kenner and the rest of the toy manufacturers had greatly under-estimated the demand for all things Star Wars, so the toys connected to the movie weren’t easy to come by. Somehow, though, there they were!
R2 looked just like the real thing, only in miniature. I remember quite clearly that this was my favorite gift that Christmas. I also remember thinking, “How in the world did Santa get this for me?” I only knew of one other kid in the neighborhood that had a Star Wars toy, so I was really thrilled.
Amazingly, our Mom had plenty of the correct batteries on hand. I don’t know how she always managed that. Maybe Santa had some way of contacting parents, to let them know the battery requirements of what he was bringing ahead of time. However it was worked out, I was one happy kid that Christmas!
When I was in grade school in the mid-seventies, the yo-yo made a huge comeback. I can clearly remember getting one in my Christmas stocking one year. It was a deep, slightly-transparent red, like a giant Smith Brothers’ cough drop.
At the time, a yo-yo probably cost $1, yet yielded a million dollars worth of fun. Santa had brought the premier yo-yo of the day, The Duncan Imperial. Although I never got to be proficient with it, I could make it sleep and walk the dog a little. I also seem to remember that my Dad would join in once in awhile, which was unusual. It must’ve brought back a good memory or two for him, because he wasn’t usually interested in doing “kid stuff.”
When I was looking for stocking stuffer for my daughter and my wife last Christmas, I picked up a Duncan Imperial for each of them, which they had great fun with on Christmas Day. You know, a lot of things don’t live up to their memories when they’re revisited as an adult, but The Duncan Imperial yo-yo sure did.