Matt Weinstock, Dec. 25, 1959
Ribbing St. Nick
In December, 1823, Clement Clarke Moore (1779-1863) wrote a poem titled "A Visit From St. Nicholas" which, as everyone knows, began:
'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring -- not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.
I keep wondering what old Clem would think if he knew what has been done to his timeless verse.
The most noted parody for years has been the paisano version "Feliz Navidad, Amigos!" which includes this lilting bit:
Santa is down at the corner saloon,
Muy borracho since mid-afternoon.
Mama is sitting beside la ventana
Shining her rolling pin para manana.
This year parodies busted loose all over the place. Some sort of compulsion seems to have gripped people to create their own.
The Mt. Washington Star, monthly stencil-printed newspaper published by two youngsters, Ed Carpenter and Pete Coonradt, had a Christmas Fable with this couplet:
Santa was dressed all in red
and he looked just
The only thing was,
he needed Vic Tanny.
Rich Fowler cut loose
with one which began:
'Twas the night before
pay day and all
through the house
The women were stirring
and starting to grouse;
"We need shopping
money!" was the gist
of their plaint--
But I showed them my
pockets, where money
Noel Toy and Carleton Young uncorked a 28-stanza job for their Christmas card which opened:
'Twas the night before
Christmas and all
through the pad
Not a creature was stirring,
not even old dad.
The chick had her nylons
draped on a chair
(This Freudian slip showed
she's still a bit square.)
I said, "Babe, this whole
Christmas kick is a rig,
Just stop with that jazz
before I flip my wig.
He's taking payola,
this Santa Claus creep
So quit bugging me and
go on back to sleep.
SPEAKING OF parodies, every year about this time I get to thinking of comedian Fred Allen and the classic satire on "The Christmas Carol" he repeated annually. In it he played a reluctant and depressed St. Nick who found the world in such a sad state that he announced, "I ain't agoin' to ride tonight!"
But such were the pleadings of a small boy that he finally agreed and as he harnessed his reindeer and took off, he shouted his unforgettable "Maaayreee Christmas!"
Fred's death in 1956 was one of the great losses of the departing decade.
AMONG OTHER reasons why postal clerks get gray was an incident overheard by a lady named Nola in the branch post office at 9th and Broadway. A sweet little lady asked the clerk, "Do you have 1-cent stamps?" He said yes and she wanted 12 of them. As she dug in her purse she added thoughtlessly, "How much will 12 of them be?"
HERE AND THERE -- Melissa Caron isn't claiming a record but her hands are numb from gift wrapping more than 1,000 packages for a Brentwood drugstore . . . A beleaguered salesgirl in a Crenshaw Blvd. store was overheard muttering, "With all this confusion I'll be surprised if Santa over there doesn't get gift-wrapped" . . . Lady on the phone: "We all know Christmas has its commercial aspects but I think some stores sunk to a new low this year, I received a brochure from one store describing the very gifts I'd just bought -- but at reduced prices. For instance, I paid $2.90 for a child's present and it was advertised in the after-Christmas sale for $1.77. I think they could have waited a few days."
FOOTNOTES -- You'd hardly recognize Jayne Mansfield on her Christmas card family portrait- she wears a black wig . . . Actor Marc and writer Fanya Lawrence broke loose from the chains of tradition in their card. It states, "Merry Christmas and a Glad New Year." Instead of happy . . . Fate worse than death dep't .: A young woman on Broadway was overheard telling a companion, "The minute I heard about their divorce I cut them off my Christmas card list!" . . . Lady named Mary Louise: "Every Christmas I hope I'll get two things- a square cut emerald and half a dozen dish towels. I made it 50% again -- the dish towels."