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PROFILE/FAMOUS - INFAMOUS - NOT SO FAMOUS... SANTA CLAUS: Jolly Old St. Nicholas
FANTASY KING IS STILL NUMBER ONE!
"I just can't tell you how GREAT my granddaughter is."
S L I G H T L Y
F I C T I O N A L I Z E D
'Jolly old St. Nicholas
Lend your ear this way
Don't you tell a single soul
What I have to say.'
'Soon you'll hear Kris Kringle
And his jingling bell.'
'Here comes Santa Claus
Here comes Santa Claus
Right down Santa Claus Lane.'
'Me, Myself and I', the voice on the phone was saying, as if to himself. Silly little Elf...' then he spoke up louder. 'Yes, one and the same.'
This man had called saying he'd received a message that I was looking for a subject to profile.
'Who is this?' I asked.
'This is Santa Claus.' he claimed.
Trying to cover a snicker, I assured him I wasn't trying to reach him, that I was planning to profile Steve Hall and Shotgun Red for the next issue.
'Shotgun Red? Ho! Ho! Ho! He's not even real!'
'But I didn't leave a message.... anywhere.' I protested.
'It was mental telepathy.'
'Oh?' Well, who's to argue with Santa?
As though he realized I hadn't prepared any questions to ask him, he just started telling me that it took such a long time for him to be accepted, that he'd had to change his name three times.
'You remember, I was first Kris Kringle, and then St. Nicholas, before I was accepted as Santa Claus. It was such a bother to have to re-establish my identity every 50 years or so.'
'Oh, I suppose it was.' I commented.
Thomas Nast was born in Landau, Germany on September 26, 1840 and immigrated to the United States in 1846. He studied art in New York City in his teenage years. The image of Santa Claus, as we know it today, was formed from the minds and pens of three men. The first was Clement Clark Moore, who wrote 'Twas the Night Before Christmas in 1822. Next was Thomas Nast, who between the years of 1863 and 1886, drew images and made up facts about Santa that appeared in Harper's Weekly, Harper's Bazaar and Harper's Young People. Lastly was Haddon Sundblom, who painted his first Coca-Cola Santa in 1931 and would do so until 1964. Even though the Santa we know today looks more like the Sundblom Santa, it was Thomas Nast, the illustrator, who really defined Santa and his environment. All the Nast prints from Harper's were done using a wood engraving process and there were over 70 drawings done this way. His most famous print is from January 1, 1881, entitled "Merry Old Santa Claus". It is still used today over and over in all kinds of merchandise. Nast is credited with establishing the North Pole as Santa's home, having elves assist him in his workshop, showing children mailing letters to Santa and giving gifts to only good children. The children shown in many of his drawings were his own children and the setting was his own home in Morristown, New Jersey after 1871. Nast also incorporated nursery rhyme characters in many of his drawings because he loved Mother Goose. Thomas Nast died in Ecuador on December 7, 1902.
'But back in 1863, Thomas Nast, a cartoonist who drew the Democratic Donkey and the Republican Elephant, did my portrait, and it was published in Harper's Magazine. After that, I was history.' Santa finished.
Somehow he managed to convince me, sort of, that he was, indeed, Santa, and said he would send some pictures and call me again to explain more things.
When the pictures arrived, I got a whole new concept. Then Santa called again and told me the little girl in the picture with him relaxing at home, is his granddaughter, Heather.
'Well, she's a great, great... I just can't tell you how great my grandddaughter is.' he said.
Now doesn't that just sound like a typical grandpa?
'I just call them all my grandaughters. I can't keep track. One of my granddaughters is Heather's grandmother.'
RETAINING THE CROWN
Santa informed me he was the owner of a multi-million dollar manufacturing firm, under an assumed name, of course.
'How else do you suppose I could give all the kiddies presents?'
I couldn't understand why he was giving me all this new information, and asked him about it.
'Public relations.' he said. 'To stay on top you have to keep a pulse on the action. We have to keep revealing a little more all the time. It wasn't too many years ago that we started doing personal appearances at shopping malls, you know. And we do parades.'
'But why did you pick me?' I persisted.
He chuckled. 'You ARE the Queen of Hearts, aren't you?'
Oh, that explains it.
'But this isn't Harper's Bazaar'.
'Well! Harper's wasn't no bazaar then, either! he said indignantly. 'Besides, I heard you were doing a story on Marvel the Mustang. Well, I remember that Christmas! That was a big challenge for me. First, to get that frisky little colt into that store window, and then to get you to turn onto that street...' he trailed off, as if remembering, while I silently said, 'Well, I'll be...'
Santa as Big Business Man
Santa in a Parade
'Speaking of parades,' he said suddenly, 'Do you remember Gene Autry?'
'Oh, yes, he was one of the singing cowboys.' I said.
'Well, he once rode in front of me in a parade,' Santa explained. 'He said he kept hearing folks yellin' 'Here comes Santa Claus', the whole parade. He went home that night with it running through his head and just sat down and wrote that song, 'Here Comes Santa Claus.''
'What about 'Santa Got A DWI'?' I just couldn't resist.
I could just about hear him scratching his head. 'Well,' he finally said, 'Yeah, it is true, that I got a DWI, but it wasn't like the song, exactly.'
He said, first when he tried to call his firm, he'd dialed wrong and got Sherwin Linton.
'I didn't even know the guy, but since they only give you one phone call, I figured I'd let him try to raise my bail, or get a hold of my company for me. How did I know he was a singer/songwriter and would write a song about it?'
'Anyway, I'd been at the St. Paul Winter Carnival and it was cold. So, I'd been sippin on a little peppermint schnaaps, like the song said, but I could have beat the wrap if I'd had a blood test done. But I figured they probably wouldn't find any blood in this ole body. Besides, I got just enough for me.
'But I wasn't weaving around in the sky in my sleigh. And it wasn't Christmas Eve, either. It was about a week before Christmas, and I was driving my truck, just like anybody else. So I got picked up just like anybody else.'
SANTA GOT A DWI
Santa won't be back next Christmas Eve
It sounds strange I know, it's hard to believe
But the State Patrol's watchin' everybody these days
He was weavin' around in the sky in his sleigh
So they radioed to every cop in the state
That it was only a matter of minutes to wait
When he landed on a housetop, there they were
Tellin' Santa to breathe into a breath-a-lizer
But Santa refused to take the breathalizer test
"In that case, Buddy, you're under arrest...!!!
They frisked him where he landed on that little house top
Found a Miniature bottle of Peppermint Schnaaps
Santa got a DWI
For weaving around in the sky
Believe me, I wouldn't lie
Oh...Santa got a DWI
They took Santa down to the County Jail
Gave him one phone call to raise ten-thousand bail
By some strange note, Santa called me
Said he needed ten-grand just to set himself free
I told him I'd get on it and do what I could do
But I can't make anyone believe my story is true
Just tryin' to help Santa; I don't mean no harm
Now they're tryin' to put me in the funny farm
They impounded Santa's sleigh and his reindeer too
And they'll probably end up in the City Zoo
And there won't be any Santa next Christmas Eve
I can't raise his bail..., no one will believe
There's a moral to the song, don't be mad at MADD
If you have a few nippers, better catch a cab
Don't ever try to drive if you can't walk
Cuz even ole Santa ain't above the law
Santa got a DWI
For weaving around in the sky
Believe me, I wouldn't lie
Oh..., Santa got a DWI..., Yeah..., Santa got a DWI
FOR A SONG
Apparently, the subject was closed, because he didn't say anything else, so I asked him about the other picture.
'Well, that's me, during the 'off' season.' he said, and related that he takes a few weeks off now and then and travels the country as a singing minstrel.
'It helps clear the cobwebs out of my head. And it gives me a chance to do some basic research, you know, on my lists.'
'What kind of music do you play?'
'Mostly folk. A little Gospel, a little Country. I like to do positive songs. Up-beat, happy songs. It makes people happy. And that makes me happy.'
'Have you done any recordings?'
'Do you plan on any?'
'Do you travel alone?'
'Not always,' Santa stated. 'Sometimes I take one of my little elves with me - well, he's not so little anymore - and he plays a mean fiddle.'
'Where do you play?'
'Oh, sometimes we play the bars. We play parks and picnics, once in a while I snag a County Fair.'
'How do you bill yourself?'
'I can't tell you that. I have to maintain a low profile, you know. That's why I don't do any recording. You know, it's funny, people always come up to me and say, 'You look like Santa'. The don't ask me if I am - they just say I look like him.
'Then I dress up in my red suit and get ready for Christmas and make a lot of personal appearances, then they ask me, 'Are you the REAL Santa?''
It's hard to think of Santa traveling around with a guitar. My mind drifted off... a bearded Johnny Cash. Nice hat. Could you see him saunter up to a mike and say, 'Ho, ho, ho, I'm...'?
'Now,' he said sternly. 'You tell this story just like I told you. Don't tell no lies, now.'
No, Santa, I won't.
Santa as a Wandering Minsteral Man
Ho Ho Ho... found it!
Merry Christmas, Y'all...
Tiana Dreymor - Author
Stop beleiving in Santa Claus and you get underware.