- Written by Todd Moning
“Only I didn't say ‘Fudge.’ I said THE word, the big one, the queen-mother of dirty words, the "F-dash-dash-dash" word!”
- The infamous leg lamp
- Little Orphan Annie Secret Society decoder ring
If the quote or these two items strike a chord with you, you’ve probably seen the 1983 movie A Christmas Story.
If you liked the movie you’ll probably enjoy visiting A Christmas Story House near downtown Cleveland, where most of the movie was filmed.
The house used in the film has been restored to its original movie appearance. A Christmas Story House Museum, directly across the street, displays original props and memorabilia from the film, and more than 100 behind-the-scenes photos.
The house and museum will open to the public Nov. 25, with actors from the film officiating grand-opening ceremonies.
A seasonal favorite
A Christmas Story, set in 1940s Indiana, centers on 9-year-old Ralphie Parker (played by Peter Billingsley), who daydreams of shooting bad guys with a genuine Red Ryder BB gun he wants for Christmas.
Boy, does he want it. In the movie, he hints at his desire for this gift 28 times despite warnings from parents and Santa that “You’ll shoot your eye out!
The movie was adapted from short stories and a novel written by Jean Shepherd, who provides the narration in the film from the perspective of an adult Ralphie.
Highlights from the movie, as Ralphie endures trials of childhood and family life:
- He is terrorized by a neighborhood bully in a coonskin cap, and finally fights back with a fury.
- While helping his father fix a flat tire, he blurts out the worst swear word and gets his mouth washed out with Lifebuoy soap.
- The “top-secret” message translated by his Little Orphan Annie decoder turns out to be a radio station’s crummy commercial for Ovaltine.
- His Old Man, played by the late Darren McGavin, wins a ubiquitous lamp shaped like a woman's leg and displays it in the front window.
- His classmate is triple-dog-dared to stick his tongue onto a frozen lamp post, and the fire department has to be called to remove him from the pole.
Thanks to TV exposure, especially between Thanksgiving and Christmas, the low-budget movie has become a classic — more popular now than when it was released in 1983 to little fanfare. The cable TV network TBS airs a 24-hour marathon of the film starting on Christmas Eve.
Owner buys house on eBay
In 2005 Brian Jones, a devout fan of the movie and former Navy lieutenant, purchased the A Christmas Story House on eBay for $150,000. For the past few years he has been marketing exact replicas of the leg lamp and using the profits to revamp the house.
He has restored the home’s deep yellow exterior and green-trimmed windows and also has recaptured the detail of the interior.
Jones’ San Diego-based company, Red Rider Leg Lamps, offers a 53-inch Deluxe Red Rider Leg Lamp for $149.99. According to www.RedRiderLegLamps.com, “All of the quirky features are present in this leg lamp including the butt cheek, the chubby thigh and the knobby knee.”
A Christmas Story House and Museum are open year-round. Hours are Thursday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. Open Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Nov. 26 to Dec. 31. Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas days.
Tickets — $7.50 for adults, $6.50 for seniors and $5.50 for children for ages 7 to 12 — can be purchased at the museum. The price includes a guided tour of the house and yard and admittance to the museum.
A Christmas Story House is located about five minutes from downtown Cleveland at 3159 W. 11th St. in the Tremont neighborhood. It’s best to drive your towed vehicle; limited free on-street parking is available.
Clark Field, off Clark Avenue, is the nearest parking lot that can accommodate motorhomes. Follow the signs to Clark Field along West 14th Street and Clark Avenue. Clark Field includes a park and the city's first dog park.
It's a five-minute drive from Clark Field to A Christmas Story House. Drive your towed vehicle, as it would be a strenuous uphill hike on foot.
Lolly the Trolley rides from downtown to A Christmas Story House are offered on a seasonal basis. Visit the Lolly the Trolley web site, www.lollytrolley.com, or call (800) 848-0173 for info.
More information: www.AChristmasStoryHouse.com