On my recent trip to Los Angeles (see this post here for more photos), I found myself once again roaming around the Los Feliz Village neighborhood. Located on Vermont Ave., just north of Sunset Blvd., this area is a funky little restaurant and shopping destination. I go here for two reasons: a great little bookstore called Skylight Books (which actually has two locations: one a more mainstream indy bookstore, the other devoted to art and photography books with an emphasis on graphic novels), and a bizarre shop called Wacko Soap Plant. The latter is difficult to describe, but I’ll try: Imagine a store that’s part bookstore, toyshop, and art gallery, specializing in the kitschy, weird, fringe, and cool. That’s about it. If you’re ever in the Los Angeles area and you gravitate towards any of those four descriptive words, this is the place for you.
But I digress. When I was walking back to my car, I came across the window of a consignment shop (pictured above), whose name escapes me, I’m sorry to say. And to what do my wondering eyes do appear, but the ghosts of Christmas presents past.
A long time ago and far away, my paternal and maternal grandparents conspired to give me a two-part Christmas present that combined to be one. I must have been 4 or 5 years old when this happened, and, like any child growing up in the early ‘60s, I was in love with cartoons. In that era, that meant if it was on TV—either Saturday morning or syndicate during the weekdays—it was more than likely by Hanna-Barbera. The studio’s stars at that point were Yogi Bear and Huckleberry Hound, and my grandparents bought “giant” (Hey … I was little. Still am.) stuffed versions of both for me that year.
On Christmas morning, we went to my dad’s parents place and they gave me Yogi Bear. After lunch, we went to my mom’s parents place and they gave me Huckleberry Hound. Both of these figures are pictured above in the photo I snapped on Vermont Ave. It’s a veritable Christmas miracle to me (but not enough so to make me want to purchase them for the exorbitant price they were asking). Just seeing them together took me back to that day, which has to be one of my earliest Christmas memories. I loved those figures and wrestled with them on a regular, year-round basis. They also kept me company when I watched cartoons, the Three Stooges, the Adventures of Superman, and so much more after school each day.
And to add to that, in the very same window, was this little toy to the left. I had Santa on a tricycle toy as a kid, too. You wound it up and it went tooling around in circles. It had a little rotating bell on the back that went around in circles. It was like a little rotating, peppermint hypno-wheel. We would dig it out every year, along with a myriad of Christmas candles, ceramic angels, assorted doo-dads, and plastic junk that still makes me go “Aww …” every time I see it again.
They call this stuff “vintage” now. Back then, we just called it Christmas. I miss that.
Merry Christmas to everyone who is reading this …