For those unfamiliar with Jean Shepherd’s “A Christmas Story”, it is the story of Ralphie and his quest for a Red Ryder BB Gun. “I want an official Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle,” exclaims Ralphie! The movie follows his adventures of trying to convince his parents, his teacher and the department store Santa Claus that this would be the perfect Christmas gift. (It also tells the story of his dad wining a “major prize” – the now infamous “leg lamp”.) When Christmas arrives, Ralphie scrambles to open his gifts but is disappointed when he doesn’t find the Red Ryder. As he sits on the couch trying not to show his sadness his father says, “What’s that by the desk?” The Red Ryder was hidden in the corner, out of view. When Ralphie see the box, he knows that his Christmas wish has come true.
(For those unaware, “A Christmas Story” was based on a collection of individual stories written by Jean Shepherd in the 1960’s. )
I also had my own “A Christmas Story” gift. It was 1963 and the toy was “Big Loo”. It was a robot that stood 3 feet tall. Just of few of it’s features were that it could talk, squirt water from its navel, was equipped with a compass, whistle, bell, a Morse code clicker with chart, and could bend over and pick up objects. For me, it was the greatest gift ever made. And when Christmas arrived, my big desire was also “hidden in the corner, out of view”. And when my Mom pointed out the box, I knew that my Christmas wish had come true.
Of all the toys I received when I was a child, that is the one I still have. Some gifts are too special to ever get rid of.
My Big Loo & me – 2013.
This year we have been very lucky not having any major snowstorms in the northeast. (Of course winter’s not over and that could change tomorrow.) However, 4 years ago we had one but that didn’t stop me from taking a portrait of my toy robot. His name is “Big Loo”, was popular in the 1960’s, a favorite of mine and, thankfully, a toy that I never disposed of.
I also wondered what the neighbors thought that while they’re shoveling snow (which I eventually got around too), their neighbor was orchestrating a photo op.
And, I want to add, I wish that all of my portrait subjects were as cooperative as Loo.