In my hometown, the banks have what are called “community rooms.” One used to be able to rent them for a fee.
Over the course of several years, I attended many get-togethers in those community rooms. Somehow, a bunch of us teenagers even rented one of them and had a party of our own down there. I still can’t figure out how that happened and I think we must have gotten a clueless teller to help us that day or something. A bunch of high school kids running amuck in the bank basement without adult supervision. Oh well, no one was hurt.
I recall one Christmas when we attended a party there. Believe it or not, my family belonged to a “CB” club. Yes, back in the 1970s when CB radios were all the rage, we all had “handles” and belonged to a CB club. It all seems so archaic right now that I am wondering if anyone even knows what a “handle” is. For those of you who don’t, it’s your CB name. I will not divulge my CB name nor tell you the names of my family. I just can’t bring myself to do it.
Anyway, back in the day, it was all fun. All of us chatted away on the radios and were friends with one another. You could listen in and have fun right along with everyone else. It was sort of like 1970s reality TV without the TV. We had friends on the CB (citizens band for those of you out-of-touch people) like “peach picker” and “what’s-her-name.” There was also “Minnie Pearl” and a few more. A group of friends who were fun to talk to.
There was also that club. There were meetings, music fests and lots of food. We also had parties. Our Christmas party one year was, you guessed it, held at one of those bank community rooms.
There we all were, most likely dressed in polyester. My brother and I probably had Toughskin jeans on and bowl haircuts. The community rooms were decorated with wonderful brown paneling, rust colored furnishings and plush shag carpeting. All very posh and uptown.
Santa appeared that year, and actually had a bag full of toys for all of us kids. My brother and I got remote control cars from Radio Shack and I am wondering if that had something to do with one of the officers of the club owning Radio Shack. Maybe he and Santa had a deal.
Anyway, we all conversed with Santa, who had a real beard, and got our presents plus a bag full of treats. As we all stared milling around and playing with our toys, I noticed old St. Nick making an Irish exit out the back door. With the skills of a ninja, I made a bee-line out the side exit and silently followed him up the back stairs. I heard him milling around by the door and wondered if he was waiting for his sleigh to warm up. Yes, I still believed.
I waited, breathless and frightened on the stairs below. Soon, I heard the door creak open and was determined to see him take off. I tip-toed up the stairs and carefully peeked around the corner.
Santa stood there, finishing a cigarette. After taking a couple of long drags, he threw it down, stomped it out with his black boot, and got into a powder blue 1971 Ford LTD. I could barely make out Mrs. Claus’s silhouette; she had a red bee-hive.
The motor revved up, they pulled out onto Delaware Street, and they were gone. I surmised at the time that they were driving out to the local airport where the sleigh must have been parked.
I was still scandalized that old Santa smoked cigarettes, but even some of the nicest guys I knew smoked. I wouldn’t hold that against him.
Maybe in his line of work, one needed a vice.