Ah, there it is, Ralphie’s house! And good old Cleveland Street. How could we ever forget it? To say that Rachel and I are huge fans of A Christmas Story would be an understatement.
Into the museum shop we jostled in wonderment with other film fans to buy our tickets next to the tinkling display…of pure…electronic…joy!
Apparently, the clodhopper who owns the company that makes leg lamps found Raphie’s house for sale on eBay, and restored it from a duplex to look as much as it could like the original layout.
We had been scheming for weeks how to get there. We decided to take a northerly route from our former home on good old Cara Drive en route to Colorado to be able to see it.
All in all, the street looked pretty similar to when they filmed the movie back in 1983, except the houses across the street from Ralphie’s house had been joined together into a massive museum gift shop. Even the Bumpus house was still there–minus the 785 smelly hound dogs.
Walking in was incredible. There was a gigantic old radio set, a Christmas tree in the corner, old newspapers and comics lying around, and of course, a leg lamp front and center in the window (it’s a major award, after all!). Underneath the enormous kitchen sink was cleared out so we could be sure to close the door when hiding under it. Upstairs there was even a telephone extension you could pick up to hear Mrs. Schwarz screaming at the top of her lungs.
The museum next door was just as amazing. I simply couldn’t believe how well everything was preserved from this 1983 non-hit! There were scripts, costumes, set photos, and wow, there it was! The holy grail of Christmas gifts, the Red Ryder 200 shot range model air rifle, actually used in the film, and as coolly deadly-looking a piece of weaponry as ever I had laid eyes on.
One thing that wasn’t so well preserved? Higbee’s. It is now a crummy casino. Rachel and I drove away from downtown Cleveland to face the world again, wiser.
Oh….fudge…(Only I couldn’t find any other place to fit this in the blog post.)
Ted Turner and his 24-hour marathons making this film popular aside, I keep coming back to A Christmas Story as not only a reminder of my childhood, but a piece of my youth itself. I remember the excitement I had going through the Sears catalog every year, circling things that interested me and overplaying my hand dropping hints to my parents about what I wanted. The excitement of the season, particularly for kids, is so incredibly special, but the way that excitement is interwoven into ordinary, everyday memories is what makes this story stand out and nurtures not only our nostalgia for our own childhoods, but our desire to create a bit of magic for our own kids someday.