A lot of fun can be had with a 1968, $35 Santa suit. One year I got the bright idea to buy me a Santa Clause suit. My best friend at the time had five, yeah 5 count them kids. one, two, three girls skip a year then one boy and then the next. His wife’s brother had a son and daughter about half way in the middle of this bunch. Seven little ones with the firsr just in to the school years. Both families lived in La Peunte just several miles apart. So on Christmas Eve I applied rough and lipstick stuffed my cheeks with cut foam and glued on the beard. climbed in to the bright red flannel suit. I put a Marine corps field jacket on under it to add the weight I did not have at the time. I drove my fire engine red 58 Jeep station wagon the twenty miles or so from where I lived to their house. Luckily they had a fireplace in the living room located on the back side of the house. I had instructed Steve the dad to leave a latter in the front yard and to build a fire in the fire place. With my bag of toys that were my gifts for the kids in toe, I climbed the ladder. Crossing the roof as nosily as possible I shouted down the chimney, How can I come down there with a fire going? Pandemonium broke out in the living room, kids crying for dad to put the fire out and much excitement. I said have your dad get a ladder so I can get off the roof. Steve wet to the front and retrieved the ladder and brought it to the back in front of the Patio door. Then I climbed down in front of their disbelivieving eyes. I went in to the house and sat in the provided chair where we began the necessary question and answer section. Have you been good or bad and so forth. finally the other brother and his two showed up and then I dispenced with the gifts. a wondrous time was had by all. Only the third daughter Beth kept studying me and looking up my sleeve, finally asking me are you Uncle Bob. smart little kid I had a hard time convincing her I was not. There was some question why I was leaving bu the front door. I finally told them my helper had moved the sled down the street to the next stop.
My night was not over my next stop was at my sisters house in Hawthorne, forty miles away. On the way it was necessary to stop for gas, so there stood Santa Clause along side his bright red jeep pumping gas. I don’t know how many people stopped so Santa could assure their kids he was on the way and they needed to get home and into bed. this occurred at red lights and stop signs, I was waving all along the forty mile trip. this was not something I had taken into account. being a well known celebrity must be a royal pain every day. When I arrived at my sisters house, a upstairs appt. there was no way I could climb onto her roof. I simply had to knock on the door. My parents and youngest sister had came down from Oxnard to spend the night and Christmas day. A quick check of my make up and beard alignment and I was ready. Entering after knocking on the door and my two young nephews were startled to see Santa. the youngest was only about three and was afraid but the oldest at six was excited, and ready to accept his gifts. the youngest did come forward when I produced the candy to get his share quickly the running back to grandma. After the short visit I was ready to retire to the car and remove the outfit. I cleaned my face as best I could then returned with my gifts for all and my sleeping bag to spend the night. I had wore rose colored granny glasses to hide my eyes and brought them in to give to my younger sister. the oldest nephew threw a fit because those were Santa’s glasses and he might come back for them.. We finally convinced him that Jackie would keep them for Santa. All in all it was a happy experience.
The old suit is still boxed up in the garage after these many years. It had many dust offs at a number of my wife’s family parties we used to have. On time that also stands out was when my daughter was maybe three, I put it on in the bed room and came out to the living room to her saying I had entered through the window. After playing the part and returning to the bedroom I had just came out and set down when the door bell rang. I opened the door and there stood Santa again. the neighbor down the block had got read to play Santa somewhere and had made a suprise visit to our little girl. Robbyn looked at him then turned and looked at the bedroom door with a puzzled look on her face. We laughed about that for many years.
As I said for a number of years the suit was used at the family parties. Usually the man with the youngest kid did Santa. the year I did it our daughter dressed as a elf and was my helper, she was about five then. Pictures were take with all the kids and often many adults smashed old santa’s poor lap. One of the last parties we attended my son was Santa to my grandson with the other kids. With the death of some of the older sisters and Nana the parties petered out.
I wrote a blog concerning the death of my wife’s niece’s husband. At his memorial they put up a large collage of pictures of Charlie. In two of them that were included were photos of Charlie sitting on two different Santa’s laps, mine and my sons. Yeah I got a lot of mileage out of that old $35 suite, it was well worth the investment.
One other neat Santa story happened while I was a member of the JayCee’s, before becoming a member of the Rusty Rooster Roster, We were taking calls at a local bank from local kids posing as Santa. I was lucky enough to intersept the call from my four year old daughter that evening. As such I was able to steer her requests in the direction of what we had alreday got for her, so on Christmas morning she recieved most of what she asked for.
So guess it is time to hop in my sled and get out of here.