It was the Christmas of 1964, a year after the Kennedy assassination. I
was spinning the heavy hits in Spokane, Washington; a disc jockey at a
local radio station. It featured we announcers playing records while
sitting in a control booth in front of a large picture window. We were
visible for all passerby's to see and wave to, and, of course, make a
few funny faces at the Jocks as well. Well, there was this one kid...
Anyway, it was a cold week and it had begun to lightly snow. I asked
the program director that if he would spend the money for a Santa
costume, I would dress up and invite the neighborhood children to drop
by for some candy. He agreed; a nifty promotional gag, he must have
thought and the stage was set.
However, the night before, being
Christmas Eve, I decided to put the apparel to a test by going out into
the snowy community with a bag of candy and commence to knock on as
many doors as I could. I dressed myself to resemble St. Nick, to the
best of my ability, then hit the road.
I figured correctly that
most folks would be home beginning their celebration, hence little
traffic. I assumed the 'old man shuffle' while slinging the large bag of
candy over my shoulder and, would on occasion, loudly utter the
cherished laugh, 'ho ho ho', in the best impersonation I could muster,
as I trugged down the middle of the lantern-lit streets.
snowflakes were falling through the tall pine trees that laced the
sidewalks. I felt like a picture in a Hallmark Christmas card. It was an
extraordinary sight. Even I couldn't fathom what this night was turning
out to be. I actually believed it was like the real thing. I felt
It was also unbelievable when I knocked on the first
door. I was greeted like I've never been greeted before. I had to meet
the sleepy kids, drink milk and eat the homemade cookies and, of course,
take pictures, all the while keeping in character of dear old Santa in
attitude, voice and in spirit.
As I remember, I must have been
invited into at least a hundred homes, all with the same results. I
believe to this day that faded Polaroid's are still being shown to the
siblings and the sibling's siblings, their kids and all the grandkids,
including every kinsfolk, at each and every Christmas; thus proving to
the nay-sayers that the beloved Man was real!
eight hours, or so, I never broke character, even when the many adults
kept asking who was I, really?, Uncle Fred?, or whomever they thought
might try to pull off a stunt like this. But I never confessed I was the
local DJ; the guy they passed by each and every day. Plus the kid that
loved to 'moon' us.
To show what a community was like in those
days, as I went from house to house, the one I just left would call
their friendly neighbors and alert them that Santa was in town, 'wake
the kids'! It turned into a grand party.
The surprised children
never questioned my role and accepted me for what I was; a
pillow-stuffed 'old' Santa that was there merely to discover the best
way to deliver their gifts. It was the innocence of times, not counting,
of course, the passing of our president in the year before that had
begun the country on a collective downslide.
children had great fun feeding me their home-baked treasures through my
fake beard that luckily never came off. I must've gained a few extra
pounds during this journey. I could've thrown away the pillow and gone
au`natural, but it wouldn't have been the same.
It truly was
the best Christmas I ever had and one I'll never forget..a mental
Christmas card firmly stuck in my mind of the evening I pretended to be