Friday, July 17, 2009

Good Old "Cleveland Street"

Ah! Good old Cleveland Street!

I didn't know much about Cleveland when we were choosing our itinerary for our road trip, but one thing I did know...if I were coming here, I needed to visit THIS corner, so I could see this....

Recognize it?  Let's take a closer look, shall we?
What's that in the window? A Leg Lamp???

Yes, one of my all-time favorite movies, "A Christmas Story", was partially filmed in Cleveland, mainly at two locations - this house and Higbee's Department Store in what is known as Tower City in downtown Cleveland.  

Although Maggi and my husband got into a few disagreements as to how to get there, we finally made it and came face to face with "The Parker House".  Across the street is a museum, housing some props, photos and interesting information about the filming of the movie, as well as a gift shop, where we spent more than we bargained for.  

While we waited for the tour to begin, Punkin checked the mailbox to see if the Little Orphan Annie Inner Circle Secret Decoder Pin had had not, so we proceeded into the famed house.
Here it is!  The moment we'd been waiting for!
This room just inside the entrance was actually used in the film - the Famous "Fra-Gee-Lay" scene!
This momento is in the corner...
While only a few interior scenes were shot in Cleveland, some were, and the house has been restored to reflect that era as well as the actual scenes in the movie - note the radio where Ralphie and Randy listened to their favorite program...
There's my Punkin, asking which of those presents is her's...
The famous "blue ball"....(in falsetto, "Thanks a lot")
"Well...there's just one too many!"
I thought this was cool - I love antiques, and this chair is just like one I used to own (until it fell apart...)
Our guide told us that most of the scenes with the Bumpeses' hounds were shot here, so this could be the very chair "The Old Man" was sitting in as they trotted by towards the kitchen.

Here's Punkin, with our tour guide, on the famous stairs.
Judging by the expression on Punkin's face, she kinda looks like she's being forced to wear one of Aunt Clara's gifts, doesn't she?

One of the things I love about this movie is that they really captured that era - the 1940's - with the furniture, fixtures and clothing.  I love those old stoves!

However, we could tell before the tour guide told us that this kitchen probably wasn't used much - if at all - in the movie.  It's smaller and set up slightly different.  But still, I was grateful that the house had been restored to reflect the movie.   You'll also notice in the movie that there is a dining room in the background of some scenes - there was none here in the real thing.

A little about the house - it had been owned by the same man for 50 years, including the period when filming took place - however he did not live there but rather rented it out.  After he passed away, his two sons decided to sell it, trying to capitalize on the movie connection.  They placed it for sale on eBay...yes, eBay!  Asking price was $50,000, as most of the houses in this neighborhood at the time were going for abut $40,000.  The current owner, a huge fan of the movie, bid $150,000 and it was immediately accepted.  He then put in another $200,000-plus into restoring it, bought the house across the street for a museum and here we are!

The upstairs bathroom does closely resemble the one in the movie.  And having lived in a house with fixtures from the 1920's to 1940's when I grew up, I think I can attest to the authenticity of their appearance!
We had a bathroom sink exactly like this one!  And a clawfoot tub, but our's was painted blue.

On Ralphie's desk in his and Randy's bedroom sits the famous "theme".  Or, more likely, a reproduction!
And in the back yard stands the shed - it is the same shed that appears in the movie, although some details have been removed.  The Black Bart Fantasy scene in the beginning as well as the BB gun scene towards the end were actually filmed here.

All in all, I was very pleased with the tour!  Being a huge fan of the movie, we really appreciated all that we saw.  I was a little apprehensive of the museum, thinking that someone was trying to make a quick buck on some cheesy replicas, but as soon as I stepped inside I realized that it was very cool!

First, we are not the only crazy people who make the pilgrimage here...

There were so many pins stuck in Massachusetts, I had no room to place my own!  When asked, the curators said they receive between 30,000 and 40,000 visitors...each year!

They have a lot of costumes and props from the movies, such as...

The mother's bathrobe and the boys' pajamas.

This is an actual piece of the original chalkboard, salvaged from St Catharine's School in Ontario, where the school scenes were shot.   The "Oh Fudge!" scene was also shot in Canada, although the area in the night time background could have easily been filmed in Cleveland, as there are railroad bridges and mills galore.

The place is loaded with photographs and interesting trivia, such as this:
And who could forget these!

"He had yellow eyes...YELLOW EYES!"

The gift shop actually had a nice assortment of moderately priced gifts - I got a sweatshirt for $10, and t-shirts were buy two get one free ($9 each or 3 for $18) and were of fairly decent quality.  They have a lot of ornaments, Christmas village items, and other novelties.  Punkin is the only kid on the block who has a leg lamp nightlight now!

When we got back to our hotel, I took this picture:

That building in the middle is Tower City, which not only housed Higbee's, but is just finishing up a 12-year restoration plan.  

It would be nice if another "Higbee's" was part of the plan, but even if it's not, I wish Cleveland the best of luck!  With or without the movie tie-in, it could be a great place to visit when you come to Cleveland!


Willoughby said...

Great pics! It's a tradition at our house to turn on "A Christmas Story" on Christmas Eve and leave it on until the marathon is over. I can honestly say I know most every line of that movie by heart. A true classic!

Chicago Mom said...

I love that movie too! We also have it on all day when the marathon is running on Xmas Eve. I had no idea the house was still there, but if we ever pass through Cleveland you can be sure we'll be stopping to see it! Great post, thanks for the pics!

Mama Goose said...

Oh what fun!!

Tattoos and Teething Rings said...

I had no idea the house from the movie was a real house! That would be a great place to visit for my family, we love the movie.

Lissaloo said...

Lol, sounds like a fun place!

babs said...

Right here in my own city and I haven't been there to see it yet. I'll have to check it out! I was working in The Terminal Tower when they were filming in Higbees. They filmed at night and the store was open for business during the day so we could walk around the sets. It was beautiful and so nostalgic. My mother-in-law knew the crabby elf lady that walks Ralphie up the steps to see Santa Claus.