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Magical Manchester by the Sea Christmas stuff

Remember the gift shop that Ruth Kelley used to run downtown? She had some magical puppets hidden in a box underneath one of the display tables. I still remember her taking them out and the longing I had to play with them forever. They had a history which is really the best in a toy because they are more than they seem and like a  used car they don’t depreciate as much as a new one after each use. The puppets looked like these.

no, not quite these

more like these

They were the most magical things I ever saw! Somehow I connect them with Christmas. Maybe because just experiencing them was such a gift. I never saw them perform. It may be that she actually showed them to me in the spring after my father died because I withdrew quite a bit and she and my mother might have thought they could magically pull me out of it. It worked to a certain extent. I fell in love with the puppets but I didn’t dare tell them.

The most magical sound during the Christmas season was that of the firetruck coming with Santa and the animal crackers. Not that they tasted very good. I was very curious if there were special Christmas animals as in from a manger or if they were just regular circus animals. I don’t think there were any cows or goats but there were camels. It was that marvelous anticipation. The giant machine carrying the big guy and the hope that luck would throw you a cracker. I think I’ve lived my entire life around waiting for a siren to sound so I’ll be ready for some man to throw me a crumb but maybe I’m getting off topic here.

note: Now with calcium!

As you may remember the American Legion also had a party which gave out boxes of “hard” candy. Maybe Santa also threw these out, perhaps because he didn’t like them! But wouldn’t they crack? Didn’t the animals lose limbs as well? I was not as big a fan of the legion party because it was a long way to go for candy I didn’t really like. Had I known that you could buy a machine and turn it into cotton candy I might have perked right up.

There was also a place called “The Manchester Shoppe”, I believe. It was way too expensive to buy things from but it had lovely Christmas displays. It would be a nice evening’s walk to go feed the ducks and then look at their windows. I saw on facebook that this weekend is  “Christmas in Manchester”, a kind of shopping and entertainment festival complete with a “meat” raffle.  This must be a new tradition. Perhaps they will add some  kale or quinoa for the vegetarians next year.

The old high school gym  roof dripped water which left frozen pools around the north side. My mother would take us over to skate there as toddlers. Now you might say we were skating in discolored bumpy puddles but back then it was magic. Double bladed skates could turn my boots into tiny sleds and it wasn’t far to go to get back home for hot cocoa. Just cut through the Samolchuk’s yard!

I bet even Dorothy Hamill started on these

Now it’s time for me to decorate my home, and pay my rent. I’m going to try organizing some caroling in our neighborhood. It’ll be tough because it’s cold and people in my neighborhood don’t have as long a history together as we did in Manchester. I remember on Christmas eve my mother opened up a window in my brother’s room and made him play the saxophone while we all sang carols. It was freezing but fun. I wonder if anyone heard us? I hope we can do folk songs and Hanukkah songs this year. I hope someone wants to join me even if we just sing in the living room. I might even splurge to have one of those horse carriages  come up the trail if enough people want to do it!  Gotta make some traditions so that we don’t leave this world a big old factory when we die. Factories don’t make magic, people do.


About polarflares

My head is so big because it has so many holes and air gets in.

10 responses »

  1. i have such fond memories of those animal crackers! during early childhood, my parents were very poor. but my mother ALWAYS purchased animal crackers for me and the sisters during our weekly grocery shopping trips. what a lovely memory. i am happy to see that they are now boasting “calcium!” 😉 x

    • I must admit they are quite delicious in cocoa. We were exposed to the ritual of a Peggy Lawton cookie each week if we accompanied our mother on her date with her gentleman caller on Sundays after church. Peggy Lawton’s are very New England, pale, hard, dry but sweet and they come wrapped in crinkly cellophane. I can taste them right now in my head. Also good with cocoa. Is anything not good with cocoa?

  2. We can Skype a sing-a-long! My family hates when I sing so I think this would be just the thing. 🙂

  3. I like the idea of reverse caroling where you open a window in your house and sing out to anybody passing by on the street. I also like the hired horse and carriage – seems very festive and memorable. The puppets sound very magical. Have a wonderful holiday season, Joan!!!

    • You could reverse Carol in your apartment except there’s lots of car noise. In Manchester there was no car noise but not many people out on our street. Probably lots of people inside watching tv but also like any small town, very keen on any sounds out of the ordinary which might mean something going on with the neighbors!

      • Reverse caroling in Berkeley is a polite form of taking back the street. If you actually know someone named Carol who will sing along, even better. Lots of passersby on this car-heavy street – if I give it a try I’ll report back.

      • Remember when we caroled in front of Cup o Tea on college Avenue one evening?

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