Topic: "You Put Your Eye Out"(2)
"Wanda Hickey's Night of Golden Memories" was Frodo's initial confrontation with a fearless comic chronicler of the Twentieth Century in America. Despite all evidence to the contrary, PLAYBOY magazine was widely-read by those seeking additional information about John Dillinger, why toes curl during sex, and what caused Jimmy Carter to "lust in my heart." Jean Shepherd was introduced to Hobbits and Elves alike beside the glistening likenesses of Barbi Benton and all her sisters-in-air-brush-magic.
Ralphie was Shepherd's character who desperately wanted a Red Ryder BB-Gun for Christmas, and his adventures that winter caught the imagination of an entire generation who were not ashamed to admit that they, too, had stuck their tongue on at least one frozen flagpole. The TV adaptation of Shepherd's short story is a part of television viewing as real as either Jimmy Stewart, Ed Asner, or Natalie Wood. Darren McGavin portrayed the Father of "Everyman" who had failed to recall a single item of desire while seated on Santa's knee. Who among us can ever forget the display of the only thing that Ralphie's Dad had ever won?
It was reported recently that the house, in Cleveland Ohio, which was the backdrop for that marvelous TV production, was sold via E-Bay, over the Internet, for $150,000. The purchaser has converted the house into a museum, charging $5 for the tour, and opened an obligatory gift shop across the street. Amidst the Tee shirts, the bulls-eye targets, and the snowsuits with bunny feet, there is one mail-order item which is making the venture into a real money maker. As of this writing more than $700,000 in orders of "leg lamps" have been shipped to purchasers around the world. These duplicates of McGavin's display in the front window have become a cult classic.
Frodo eventually got his Red Ryder BB-Gun, he beat the hell out of the neighborhood bully after years of misery, and he always thought that the little house on Buchanan Street would make a great museum. He thinks of these things every time he thumbs through an old copy of PLAYBOY.