Chicago’s Frazier Thomas at Christmas

For me, it began with sitting in front of the small TV in the den. I had a card table and chair that was set up so I could do a paint by number from Bargain town with a small glass of 50/50. I loved paint by numbers….still do…and my father knew the owner of 50/50. It was here that I first met Frazier Thomas and his puppets. Garfield Goose and Friends, created by Thomas, aired at approximately for 4 or 5 central time, right before dinner in Chicago.

Frazier Thomas created Garfield Goose the puppet and the show. It began on other stations but in 1955, they found a permanent spot at WGN and became Garfield Goose and Friends. He wrote it and produced the long running Chicago childrens show. This was my favorite show and host of several cartoons. This site offers the best memories of cartoons and live action segments which included Clutch Cargo, Space Angel, Pow-Wow the Indian Boy, Spunky and Tadpole, The Funny Company, My favorite was Journey to the Beginning of Time.

During the holidays, Suzy Snowflake, UPA’s Frosty the Snowman.and The Three Little Dwarfs (Hardrock, Coco and Joe) were Chicago children’s TV christmas hosted on Garfield Goose. Suzy Snowflake is a song that was originally made famous by Rosemary Clooney. Here comes Suzy Snowflake dressed in a snow white gown will stay with me always. It was a short black and white cartoon with stop motion animation made about snowflake in 1953.

Suzy Snowflake https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xaUBpsn4QjQ

Thumpity thump thump, thumpity thump thump, look at Frosty go is how I will remember the first Frosty produced in 1950. Made by Castle films, you can play it over and over hearing the lyrics match those precious memories watching on television as well as airing on Bozo’s Circus in 1955.

Frosty the Snowman https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7SocOdoXKYY

Finally, The Three Little Dwarfs was about three of Santa’s helpers who ride on Santa’s sleigh each Christmas produced in black white in 1951. Joe is extremely tiny and has a very low, deep voice which I remember the most. For some reason, Santa had a wierd expression and cartoon was improving rapidly at the time though sitting in front of the black and white television as a child was still the only choice for late 1950’s and early 1960’s.

Hardrock, Coco and Joe https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xfQoZCCU4-k

When I became a little older on a Sunday afternoon, it was the family’s favorite, Family Classics which began in 1962 which showed classic films such as the Adventures movies that included Huckleberry Finn, one I loved, Robinson Crusoe, Robin Hood, and the Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Thomas actually produced the show and edited them so that they were appropriate for viewing. At Christmas time, it was Scrooge, or the Christmas Carol though now Christmas, I always liked Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.

When Frazier suddenly passed away in 1985. He actually had a stroke and was at work when it happend. Roy Leonard became the host of Family Classics which had a regular run up until December 25, 2000. At that point Family Classics was no longer on the air. In 2017, Family Classics was brought back with a special Christmas time showing of Scrooge (1951) hosted by Dean Richards.

Kaye Kraus offers some wonderful Chicago television photos.

Top of the list in 2020 gifts : Barbie’s Dream house (1962)

One day, I overheard the first grade girls in my class talking about the big present they wanted for Christmas. According to them, everyone gets a big present so I asked what they wanted….I heard them say it was 3 stories. Actually, they showed me a picture of the latest and greatest…the Barbie Dreamhouse. But what they didn’t know, that I quickly shared was the first dreamhouse for Barbie was created in 1962 and I got it for Christmas under the tree the first year it came out…hah hah…the big present... I even have a faded movie of me playing with the house. When I showed them a picture, they were not impressed.

The house I got was made of paper and cardboard. You could fold it up and carry it like a suitcase. It was a one room design with everything in it including bed, sofa, and console with stereo and TV. My father hated putting the furniture together but I took special care of it. It lasted until my college days. It had been stored in a basement and there was a flood. That was the end of that. I still want another one!

In the early 1970’s, the townhouse had been three stories and partially plastic with a working elevator and the furniture was plastic. It showcased a patio with a pool painted on one side of the back wall as well her own study or office. But 1979, they produced an A- frame house which I always wanted, a real one that is. It had working doors and windows including six rooms and was very realistic. At this time, they created mirrored top coffee tables and end tables….furniture I had and still do. 

I also liked the early townhomes Barbie had in the early 1980’s. Loved the paintings on the wall and depicted the great 80’s style of wicker, especially white. There was also a dream cottage which was one story with a kitchen, bedroom and bathroom as well as a pool area.

Now in the early 1990’s, what my daugther’s generation always wanted was the magical mansion that was two stories, sx rooms, with working lights. The windows truly reflected 90’s culture. It featured a working fireplace that lit up as well as a working telephone and doorbell but my daughter thought it was just too pink. In 1998, a castle type, Victorian house was created that had stained glass windows and bay windows.

In the early 2000’s, the house became three stories with a toilet that actually flushed. In 2014, the house with three stories and two elevators. Today, the Barbie DreamHouse measures an impressive 3+ feet tall and 4+ feet wide and features 3 stories, 8 rooms and 70+ accessories. Special amenities include a working elevator, home office, carport and second-story pool. Barbie also has a Malibu cottage and her own plane. For over 60 years old, she is quite the celebrity and quite the jettsetter.

Anyone who is interested in purchasing the original dream house, Ebay offers an excellent selection of my Barbie house and one that actual includes record albums that were popular at the time and almost as much money as the houses today. Boy, I don’t remember the albums and it looked like one of them was of Frank Sinatra…not impressed. Now, if I could find an album that represented the beginnings of rock and roll, I…………….

Chicago holidays with Marshall Fields

Being a lifetime resident for many years, Chicago has magnificently celebrated the winter holidays with amazing, timeless displays at the building behind the clock that have become well-known throughout the country. I continue to meet people today who talk of the same tradition that they had experienced as children, parents, grandparents and even great grandparents. The Marshall Fields store on State Street that began in 1870 and renamed Macy’s in 2009 have kicked off the most treasured memories for family and friends.

During the 1960’s, it began for me in a car driven by Mom accompanied by my best friend and her Mother. Of course, we were dressed in our finest, sometimes with hats and matching gloves, but always in dresses. We parked in what was known as the Underground Parking Lot on Michigan Avenue though many took the Illinois Central to walk a short distance to Marshall Fields Department Store. And there it began before we even entered the massive 8 story building.

The store had designed animated windows that told a story and so we would begin our trip around the building to see each breathtaking display. In 1946, Marshall Field’s created Uncle Mistletoe that became so popular, it was a local television show for awhile and we would watch his adventures in one window after another. Finally, generally cold and hungry, we made our way to the 7th floor to the beloved Walnut Room established in 1907 with beautiful paneling, seating 600 guests around a phenomenal Christmas Tree always stretching our necks to see if Uncle Mistletoe graced the top of the tree. In the early 1990’s, I took my little ones to the Walnut Room as well but they seemed more impressed in the pagers signaling when a table was available.

The Walnut Room at Macy’s can still be enjoyed for the holidays. Macy’s on State Street still offers holiday windows and lunches around their Christmas tree though weekdays are the best for wait times. Holiday shoppers will receive a pager so they can still shop while waiting for a table. A breakfast buffet is also served through the holiday season. Relive your childhood or start a new tradition with your children and after lunch, visit Santa on the fifth floor. See if Uncle Mistletoe is still on top of the Great Tree.

Merry Christmas

By Caryl Clem:

Songs vibrate cheer, tales of the Christmas Star

Wise Men traveling, Santa and his famous reindeer

Frosty the Snowman or a relative may come over

Adorned with scarves and bright red holly

Boisterous lawn valets waving to neighbors

Ready to help unload the world wide sleigh

Parading evergreens in holiday gowns

Bearing jeweled necklaces and lit crowns

Sweep into rooms hiding mounds of gifts

Beneath their huge green skirts

Dark chocolate mounds, cookies, a confectioners haven

Spill from clean socks into waiting pockets

No cure has been found to stop holiday treat craving

Family lore and traditions at fireplace fire

Hidden presents, those who co-conspire

Elaborate their adventures with laughter and humor

A fitting end to a busy year

Spend time with your loved ones dear

 

Home for the holidays

By CARYL CLEM:

Festive holiday surround sound

Familiar refrains, bells and chimes

Baby, its cold outside, travel back to past times

Looking forward to being snowbound

Visiting with friends and family, staying warm.

Masterpiece art forms, radiant ornaments

Reflecting light and past traditions

Packages waiting for childlike astonishment

Glistening stars and snow, sparkling companions

Adorn the skies, trees, translucent accents.

Dine and enjoy once a year treats

Symbols of heritage and past sweets

Made with love and secret ingredients

While baking, unforgettable scents

Blend treasured old memories with new ones

Tell stories that tickle everyone’s funny bones.

Rejoice in the love that is shared

Stand united promoting everyone’s welfare.

Hold on to the holiday cheer through the New Year.

Holidays in Chicago: Remembering Marshall Field and the Walnut Room

The first clock went up in 1897 at State and Washington while the second was added in 1907 at State and Randolph. It did receive a new paint job in 2015 according to ABC news.  and still keeps time.

Being a lifetime resident for many years, Chicago has magnificently celebrated the winter holidays with amazing, timeless displays at the building behind the clock that have become well-known throughout the country.

I continue to meet people today who talk of the same tradition that they had experienced as children, parents, grandparents and even great grandparents. The Marshall Fields store on State Street that began in 1870 and renamed Macy’s in 2009 have kicked off the most treasured memories for family and friends.

During the 1960’s, it began for me in a car driven by Mom accompanied by my best friend and her Mother. Of course, we were dressed in our finest, sometimes with hats and matching gloves, but always in dresses. We parked in what was known as the Underground Parking Lot on Michigan Avenue though many took the Illinois Central to walk a short distance to Marshall Fields Department Store. And there it began before we even entered the massive 8 story building.

The store had designed animated windows that told a story and so we would begin our trip around the building to see each breathtaking display. In 1946, Marshall Field’s created Uncle Mistletoe that became so popular, it was a local television show for awhile and we would watch his adventures in one window after another. Finally, generally cold and hungry, we made our way to the 7th floor to the beloved Walnut Room established in 1907 with beautiful paneling, seating 600 guests around a phenomenal Christmas Tree always stretching our necks to see if Uncle Mistletoe graced the top of the tree.

In the early 1990’s, I took my little ones to the Walnut Room as well but they seemed more impressed in the pagers signaling when a table was available.

The Walnut Room at Macy’s can still be enjoyed for the holidays. Macy’s on State Street still offers holiday windows and lunches around their Christmas tree though weekdays are the best for wait times. Holiday shoppers will receive a pager so they can still shop while waiting for a table. A breakfast buffet is also served through the holiday season. Relive your childhood or start a new tradition with your children and after lunch, visit Santa on the fifth floor. See if Uncle Mistletoe is still on top of the Great Tree.

Holidays in Chicago: Lighting the Tree

In December 1956, Chicago’s Christmas tree was in fact one large tree that had been created from many smaller trees. The tree was 70 feet tall, decorated with about 4,400 lights and more than 2,000 ornaments, and was located in the Grant Park tree platform at Congress Parkway and Michigan Avenue. The Tree Lighting Ceremony was eventually  moved to Civic Center Plaza, known today as Daley Plaza, in December 1966.

That was where I remembered the beauty of the tree.I was shocked that the tree was so tall because there was more than one tree bundled together. Each year I kept looking up trying to figure out how this all worked and the time it must have taken. I remember going to see the tree with many waiting regardless of the weather. I remember that first gasp we all made together as the lights came on. Over a 100 year tradition that we celebrated and eventually the tree lighting came in tandem with the magical Christmaskindlemart.

Chicago’s first municipal Christmas tree was lit in 1913 on Christmas Eve by Mayor Carter H. Harrison in Grant Park. The tree was a 35-foot Douglas Spruce placed on 40-foot poles and studded with smaller trees to give the appearance of a much larger tree. It was decorated with 600 multi-colored lights and topped with the Star of Bethlehem according to the City of Chicago.org.

The first Christmas tree was a gift of an associate of Captain Herman Scheunemann and was lit in his honor. He was the captain of the Rouse Simmons, known as the “Christmas Tree Ship.” The ship was lost in a storm in Lake Michigan on November 23, 1912.

In the 1990s, the cost of constructing the tree with individual trees was astronomical  So  the city asked for donations of single, massive trees.  In 2008 one family actually donated a 70 foot tree.

Enjoy this holiday tradition, a glittering tree set among Chicago’s sparkling skyline and the iconic art of Millennium Park. The City of Chicago is proud to present the 104th Anniversary of the Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony on Friday, November 17. Chicago’s 104th Christmas Tree was donated by Darlene Dorfler of Grayslake, Illinois. The 62-foot Norway Spruce was selected out of 71 submissions received by the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events.

The ceremony will be emceed by WGN TV’s Demetrius Ivory and Erin Ivory along with a special appearance by Santa and Mrs. Claus.

Admission to the Tree Lighting Ceremony and all other holiday activities in Millennium Park is free.

The Christmas Tree will remain up until Saturday, January 6, 2018.

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