When I was a young child my dad had convinced me and my young sisters that he was Ralphie from A Christmas Story. As in Peter Billingsly himself and even though the movie had been released when I was 3 years old and my dad was obviously too old to be in the movie, we truly believed him. See, he has a picture of himself as a child and he looked JUST LIKE RALPHIE! Thick glasses, same hair color, same chubby cheeks. In our young minds he was who he said he was. As we grew up we knew better but the tradition still lives on with his “Ralphie picture” and we kid him about it.
Years ago when we heard that someone had purchased the Christmas Story house in Cleveland, Ohio and turned it into a museum, we have always had plans of going as a family. After years of trying to coordinate everyone’s schedules and not being able to go together, Michael and I decided to make the trip on our own. Since we are only 3 1/2 hours away we can always return in the future with our family.
When we approached the neighborhood where the house is located, we were taken back by how “regular” of a street it is. I know they used a real house (and parts of the street) in the filming but we really hadn’t thought about it in terms of a famous house being right in the middle of residential homes. As in people actually live there and go to work and go about their day. (While lots and lots of people take over their neighborhood because they want to visit this house.) This was just something that hadn’t occurred to us until we parked a distance away and had to walk to the house, museum and gift shop. But as I told Shawn, I am sure everyone that lives here is used to it and knew what they were getting into by living there.
After registering for a time frame for our guided tour, we went to lunch and relaxed from our drive. While this extra time wasn’t anticipated it went by rather quickly and before we knew it, we were standing in line and waiting to head on in.
Since the tour was guided we got to learn a lot of neat history and trivia about the movie and the house. This was one of my favorite parts because I LOVE the behind the scenes, history and making of movies and since this one is so close to my heart, it made it even more special.
The best part of visiting the house…. it was essentially our playground! We could play with and touch (almost) everything and play with things is what we did! Up above is me sitting in the cabinet and my only regret was that I didn’t have a glass of milk in my hand. (I didn’t think of it until we were on our way home!)
Even Michael got in there! I was surprised because he’s not usually one for doing silly things (when others are around) but he was all for it. In case you’re wondering… this wasn’t “cool” for almost teenagers to do and Shawn refused. Party pooper! I did however, get him to do a couple of other things.
Apparently, touching the leg lamp isn’t as embarrassing as getting into a cupboard but I’ll take what i can get. hehe
Since there weren’t any Zeplins under the tree and just Randy’s fire truck, I had Shawn play with it a little bit. In case you’re wondering, the Zeplin had lead paint used on it and therefore wasn’t safe due to today’s knowledge of how toxic it is. We did get to see one in the museum but it wasn’t the original.
Walking up to the house you got a real sense of “wow – this looks just like it did in the movie!” but walking in the house you were flooded with more. The stairway and how it turns, the kitchen, the bathroom, etc. It was all… the same. and I had to keep reminding myself that this was “the house” and not just a replica. The real deal – the actual place and that made it more and more amazing as I could picture scenes directly from the movie.
The small details is what I pick up on – the crooked star (that star is perfectly straight!), the clump of plugs in the wall (you can see it in the leg lamp picture – I forgot to take one on its own), the furniture, the bar of Life Bouy soap, the decoder ring and notebook left in the bathroom. It was all there like they had just finished filming for the day and we stopped by.
One of my favorite “details” was the theme that Ralphie wrote for Miss Shields’ class in school – you know, the one where she writes “you’ll shoot your eye out” on the paper.
The kitchen had so many great details as well – including a (fake, of course) turkey before the Bumpus hounds got to it (though I think it would have been hilarious if it had been a turkey carcass now that I come to think if it! lol)
They even had Randy’s bib from the Mommy’s Little Piggie scene right before the Major Award was delivered to the front door. Speaking of the that… here it is in all it’s glory! Well without Shawn and I feeling it up. lol
These lamps are actually not the real ones from the movie – those were destroyed in filming and they only made a few to begin with. They also had one in the “Fragileeee” crate but there were too many people surrounding it and I never made it over there to grab a quick picture. Oh well!
The backyard was also part of where they filmed the movie – so the shed is the actual one in the movie where the bad guys climb over it in one of Ralphie’s daydreams. I tried to get Shawn to look like he was climbing the back fence but he truly wasn’t having it. (He did enjoy the trip but doing silly things isn’t for teenagers).
The museum is located across the street from the house. Our tour guide explained that since the movie was a box office flop, they started throwing things out but we are lucky they didn’t toss everything. Museums are one of my favorite things to visit and this one was no different. It was small but still quite neat to see.
The costumes were my favorite part because I could just picture Ralphie and Randy in each of theirs but my favorite piece of clothing (for some reason) was the hat that Scut Farkus wore. However, a lady was rushing me to get by and I took a quick (and turned out to be quite blurry) picture and moved on. I never made it back there to take another.
The only thing I was disappointed with, was the lack of the famous pink bunny suit. According to the tour guide, Peter Billingsly was given that suite after filming and I believe he still owns it to this day. Hey Peter – I mean my dad (right?), if you’re reading this sometime in the future – just give up the suit so I can see it the next time I visit.
This was super neat (and hard to photograph). It’s part of the chalkboard with the A+++++++++ written on it. So much fun and super cool! They also had some of the silly toys that the kids would use as pranks in Miss Shields’ classroom,
And here it is… an Official Red Ryder, carbine action, 200-shot, range model air rifle, with a compass in the stock and this thing that tells time!
This was truly such a fun (and long) day trip and we didn’t even get to do everything. There’s still a small piece of Higbees Department Store nearby, we could have searched out a flag pole to stick our tongues to, went looking for a Chinese place to eat (not really eat – I don’t like Chinese food! But I would have take a picture. lol) and so much more to make a complete story. However, it was super cold and due to the almost 3 hour wait to see the museum, we were exhausted and just started heading for home.
There’s always next time…