A place of honour in the front window

In praise of Ralphie’s Old Man

A ‘fragile’ leg lamp like the one in A Christmas Story has a place of honour each December in the front window of a Cloverdale home.

“‘Fra-gee-lay.’ It must be Italian.”

“I think that says ‘fragile’, honey.”

“Oh yeah.”

A ‘fragile’ leg lamp like the one featured in the classic 1983 film, A Christmas Story, has a place of honour each December in the window of the Denexter family’s home at 17388 62A Avenue in Cloverdale.

In the movie, set in 1940s Indiana, Ralphie’s Old Man, Mr. Parker, hates hounds, blown fuses and dealing with the blasted, smoke-blowing clinker of a furnace.

But he loves his lamp. He won it. It’s A Major Award.

“Oh boy, oh boy,” he trills, opening the large wooden crate that’s just been delivered, hoisting up a provocatively-shaped, fishnet-stockinged leg.

“Would you look at that?” he gasps admiringly. “It’s a leg!”

To his wife’s horror, the crate also contains a lampshade.

“This is a lamp! What a great lamp,” he says, adding he knows just the place for it: right in the middle of the living room window, for all of Cleveland Street to see.

“Will you look at that?” he says, admiring the gaudily glowing limb. “It’s indescribably beautiful. It reminds me of the Fourth of July!”

It’s a classic scene from a classic film. All little Ralphie wants for Christmas is an Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle.

“You’ll shoot your eye out, kid,” the boy’s warned time and again, thwarted in his efforts to convince his parents, teacher and the big man himself, Santa, that he deserves one this year.

A Christmas Story is directed by Bob Clark (Porky’s!, Black Christmas) and based on screenwriter Jean Shepherd’s novel,

In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash. It stars Peter Billingsley as Ralphie, Melinda Dillon as Ma Parker, and Darren McGavin as The Old Man.

In the spirit of the season, and in tribute to Ralphie’s Old Man, here are more favourite quotes from the film:

 

“Don’t you touch that! You were always jealous of this lamp!”

***

“My father worked in profanity the way other artists might work in oils or clay. It was his true medium, a master.”

***

“The Old Man stood there, quivering with fury, stammering as he tried to come up with a real crusher. All he got out was…

‘Notafinga!!’”

***

“He looks like a deranged Easter bunny.”

“He does not!”

“He does too. He looks like a pink nightmare.”

***

“The heavenly aroma still hung in the house. But it was gone, all gone! No turkey! No turkey sandwiches! No turkey salad! No turkey gravy! Turkey hash! Turkey a la King! Or gallons of turkey soup! Gone. All gone.”

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