Christmas 1956

I know what you're thinking. C'mon, Clark, 1956 was the year you were born! What possible memories could you have from that year? And you're right - I don't remember anything at all about Christmas, 1956 or anything in this photo.


Zip the Chimp was a very early toy, perhaps my first. I didn't get him for Christmas this year - I got him shortly after I was born, as witnessed by this photo. Why he's so prominent in these shots, I don't know. It could be that I prefered the stuffed tiger with the tartan body and, my parents disliking my cupidity, put Zip in the photo. But I remember playing with Zip or at least throwing him around when I was three or so.

Leering over at the tiger from the left is a Kewpie doll. I have never liked those. I would assume that a small child, waking up in the middle of the night and seeing one of those gazing at him, would find it nightmare-inducing. But there it is.

Nothing else to write about this photo save that the hairy arm is obviously Dad's. Besides, Mom always took the photos. She was the Chief Family Memory Officer before I took over the job.

When my wife and I were going over these unmarked and undated photos, we tried to assign a year based on the fact that, in this photo, I am clearly standing - perhaps walking. "No baby stands or walks at only eight months. These must be from 1957," said she. But a look in the achievements log in my baby book confirmed that, yes, I could stand at eight months. Hey, I was a baby on the go - things to do, places to see, stuff to put in my mouth and drool upon.

There is no additional information from this shot save that Zip and Kewpie are now friends, there's some odd-looking baby toy that I cannot make out just behind me, and the big star ornament my parents hung on the tree seen near the right edge was also hung on the tree in 1961.

Zip! All is forgiven! Come back to me!

It looks like my parents bought me a wagon wheel (?) and a ball with Mickey Mouse on it. And that is one old-looking television.

Another special thing about Christmas 1956 - my first - was the fact that my father was hauled in by the L.A. cops for drunken driving on Christmas Eve. Here's the tale from the Los Angeles Times the next day, 25 December 1956. I understand a write up of this story appeared in some other paper with the byline "Angel of Mercy Apprehends Santa" or some such thing. Every now and then Mom would bring this story up in arguments with Dad.

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