The Real Don Steele – KHJ – December 23, 1965 –
Some things you just don’t forget – you try. But every year around this time you can’t help it. The mere sight of some smiling Santa somewhere – some ad, a billboard, even a passing reference to anything Red with a White Beard and you break out in a rash. Been that way for almost 60 years – and people wonder.
Your Senior year you were voted Class Santa. Nobody else was nominated – you won by default. Your buddies broke up laughing when they heard. They knew – every guy in your class knew. Spending your entire Christmas Vacation sitting in the toy department in the basement at Sears, listening to kids all day may have been an honor bestowed on your school by your local Sears-Roebucks, but you saw it as a life sentence to wear an enormous three-sizes-too-big itchy Red Suit, A sweat-producing white beard and a giant brain-scorching Wool hat. To bellow Ho-Ho-Ho seven hours a day – be pee’d on, barfed on, punched and cussed out by micro-malcontents who didn’t get the American Flyer City of St. Louis Train set they asked for the Christmas before and wanted you to know about it. And to do it every day until closing time on Christmas Eve – and best of all; not get paid for it – not even class credit. “To do it for the honor of the School” was the Boys vice-Principal’s sage advice.
You endured – you listened – you bellowed. You grew to hate The Chipmunk’s Christmas Song – you were horrified by just how greedy little kids were. But you prevailed. And at the end of two weeks the Store Manager handed you a $10.00 gift certificate and a slug on the arm, a sort of “atta-boy”, for all the hours and personalities you had to endure. You were invited to the Store Christmas Party as a bonus – free food and getting sloshed on Party Punch was appealing, and maybe a way of making up for the endurance test.
But you had to wear the Santa Suit. Not so bad, considering the clientele was older and some of the salesgirls were indescribable. But you quickly realized playing Santa for the Office Christmas Party was not all that different than playing Santa in the Toy Department. Being pee’d on, barfed on, punched and cussed out by wildly drunken Sears Employees was a little different, but no less messy.
And after that, you and Santa were never on speaking terms. And Christmas makes you break out in a cold sweat.
At least you got to spend two weeks in the Sears Toy Department outfitted with a transistor radio and an earphone – KHJ was helping you survive – big time.
Here is 45 minutes were of The Real Don Steele from KHJ for December 23, 1965. Ho-ho-ho.
Merry Christmas from Past Daily!
And don’t forget . . .