Christmas Memory, 1954

Howdy Doody, 1960: Clarabell The Clown Ends It With Two Words

I was five-years-old. We were living a year with my father’s mother in a big old house on Thompson Drive, then in the outskirts of St. James with only Kirkfield Park west of us. My grandmother always had men rooming with her and one of them, Matt, a large gruff man, was very ill and somewhat angry about having me around the house. My parents were working in the day then and I was probably getting underfoot so my grandmother sent me outside to play on a cold windy day on the snowdrift-covered garden beside the house.

I was basically digging about in the drifts. She would call me in later for Howdy Doody, the only ’50s tv program for kids in the late afternoon. Anyway, as I tried to play in the snow, I imaginatively transferred Matt’s condition to myself there outside and pondered what it might be like ‘to die’. I finally decided that it would be better to die in the house watching Howdy Doody, and then my grandmother called me in.

Just a few moments ago, this afternoon almost 67 years later, lying on the couch in our darkened living room, the big tree ablaze with glorious lights and decorations, listening to the holy-voiced English choirs of the Christmas 101 CD, singing carols and other seasonal music I had not heard for many a year, thinking ‘Yes, this would be a fine way to go. I could not imagine a better exit at Christmas time.’ Until I remembered a five year-old-boy playing by himself for what seemed like hours, imagining a better, more perfect finale–while watching Howdy Doody.

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