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Orval Faubus used to say that the only Christmas present he ever got as a boy on the family farm at Greasy Creek near Huntsville was a lard sandwich. You never knew with Faubus. Just because he said it didn't make it so.
Did anyone else notice how much the author Stephen King looked like the Grinch in a recent newspaper photo?
The Christmas message exemplified by the Huckatroll as opposed to the one espoused by him is that it's more blessed for you to give and for him to receive.
People with low BO tolerance who worked all too closely on hot movies sets with her once gave Marilyn Monroe a Christmas gift basket containing more than a score of small jars of Mum underarm deodorant. MM wasn't amused.
I don't know this from personal experience, but I'm reliably informed that the gold standard for Christmas gifts in these parts used to be the ones that came from M.M. Cohn's.
Two generations ago, the best-known Christmas/beverage connection was Santa Claus and Coca-Cola. Big red metal signs of the right jolly old elf hoisting a cold one. One generation ago, it was the Budweiser Clydesdales in jingly harness bringing home the Christmas tree on the beer wagon in the swirling snow. No wassail or nog for us'uns.
Allan Bellamy, the original Mad Butcher, once got a beribboned goat as a Christmas present. He was not particularly amused, either, but it's only urban legend that he had the goat butchered the same day and sold as barbecue meat at one of his Pine Bluff supermarkets.
Marse Thomas Jefferson repeatedly disappointed house servants at Monticello who had asked Santa to bring them emancipation.
Little Tommy W. used to love the boughs of holly that the Christmas halls were decked with. He thought the point of the berries was to see how many of them he could stick up his nose. He had the idea that he was planting them up there, and that soon he'd be growing pretty seasonal shrubbery on his head in place of his hair.
Some prankster friends of Howard Cosell once gave him a truly preposterous “road-kill” hairpiece as a gag holiday gift, but Howard liked it, thought it made him look “hip,” and wore it frequently.
As far as Christmas lighting, would you say that Charlie Brown and Jennings Osborne are at opposite extremes?
Another urban legend is that every time former Congressman Tommy Robinson has gone Christmas shopping in recent years, he's filed for bankruptcy again the next day.
Irving Berlin was incensed that so lewd a whippersnapper as Elvis “the Pelvis” Presley included a performance of “White Christmas” on his popular 1957 Christmas album, and the songwriter spent much of the holiday season that year lobbying DJs to keep the Elvis version off the radio.
Favorite Christmas gifts of Howard Hughes, the eccentric billionaire, were said to be (1) a fresh pair of empty Kleenex boxes, which he wore in place of shoes as a way to avoid disease germs, and (2) a Christmas dinner alone, consisting of a can of sliced peaches, which had to be served according to a strict ritual with each slice pointing in a designated direction.
I've probably told you that my father's favorite Christmas gift when he was a dirt-poor Lincoln County farmboy a hundred years ago was an empty Prince Albert tobacco can. You could fill it with water, punch a hole in it, and watch the dapper prince consort urinate copiously. Very amusing. Pap's favorite childhood Christmas gift and very likely his only one.
Judge Roy Bean, the Law West of the Pecos, said he'd be able to die happy after having received as a Christmas present a vial of what was alleged to be Lily Langtry's bathwater.
Recommended Christmas reading: “A Midnight Clear,” by William Wharton, published by Knopf in 1982. A novel that retells still another recurrent urban myth – the one in which German and American soldiers call a brief truce to celebrate Christmas together in the Ardennes Forest.
Do they even make “caps” anymore of the kind that came in rolls and popped so impressively in the toy pistols that were a yore Christmas favorite?
I have an inordinate fondness for a relatively ancient red vinyl 33-1/3 album of the Chipmunks performing Christmas novelty songs. Nothing to do with esthetics or musical quality. On idle Christmastide afternoons, it kept the yonng'uns intrigued and listening intently beside the record machine in the living room for what always seemed exactly the right amount of time for their elders to take care of some business in one of the other rooms. If you know what I mean, Vern.
In a more literate time, people generally knew the names of the Wee Three Kings of Orientar of the first Christmas. They also knew the names of the three men in the Fiery Furnace, and the names of the Three Musketeers. From this jumble of names, can you identify and properly place the members of those famous threesomes: Melchior, Athos, Simon, Balthasar, Abednego, Aramis, Theodore, Gaspar, Shadrach, Porthos, Meshach, and Alvin?
Bob Lancaster, one of the Arkansas Times longest and most valued contributors, retired from writing his column last week. We’ll miss his his contributions mightily. Look out, in the weeks to come, for a look back at some of his greatest hits. In the meantime, here's a good place to start.
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