Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Doll-A-Day 323: Singing Santa Claus

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  Today's doll brings us back to our Christmas theme. He's this singing Santa.
Santa is 12" tall. For the record, when I was a kid, we did not have a silver Christmas tree, although I do seem to remember us having one of those electric colour wheels that sat behind the tree.
 
 I suppose it did work best with an aluminum tree, if you liked that kind of look.

He's got a lot of wear, and isn't so much to look at any more, but he means a lot to me, especially this year, having lost my dad in May.

The story of this Santa begins one Christmas when I was 9 or 10 years old.(That's about 1971 or '72.) I was particularly nosy that year. Or maybe it was just because the presents were under the tree before Christmas that year, now that I was older.But I nosed around and figured out what every one of my presents were, except one. (Well, I thought I had them all figured out. My sister, knowing how nosy I was, had made a false book jacket for the Robin Kane Whitman mystery she had gotten me. So when I managed to see through the wrapping paper I thought I was getting some strange book about a kid and a mountain of peas.

It was this one. Note: No mountain of peas!
 I forget the title she gave it, but I thought she was crazy buying me such a weird book.) I knew I was getting the Screech! game I wanted, and everything else except one box.
Wanted it. Got it. Never played it. Nobody to play it with. When the kids were little we tried to play it, but the battery prong had fallen apart! The game was still in the box!
The only present I hadn't figured out, (Besides the Robin Kane book!) was this Santa

I always thought he looked like he was holding his beard, or pluffing it.

We never opened presents on Christmas eve. We only ever opened them on Christmas day. My parents were divorced and Dad lived about an hour or more away. He usually came to see us once a week at this point. He must not have been able to be with us on Christmas, because he wanted me to open a present on Christmas eve. He was all grins, and as excited as a little kid who couldn't wait for Christmas.He knew exactly what he wanted me to open too.It was the one thing I hadn't managed to figure out! I wanted to open something else, so I'd have something to surprise me on Christmas day. I didn't tell Mom and Dad why I didn't want to open that one! But Dad insisted that I open the unknown present. It couldn't be anything else. He must have picked it out himself, and been really pleased with his shopping, and wanted to see me open it. So I opened the one last surprise I would have had on Christmas, (Since I had ruined all my others by being so nosy.), and within was Singing Santa.


Imagine my surprise when I found this guy on Ebay just now!
I don't remember what my guy's box was like. Was it like this?
 This guy says 'Sonsco', but there is another without a box on Ebay now, and he's listed as a 'L.B. Cohen and sons'. I think the guy in the box says 'Cohen at the very bottom.
My guy: L.B. Cohen and Sons.

For an old guy he sure has baby-like hands.He must use Oil of Olay or something.
Singing Santa runs on one D battery, and has a switch that can be slid one way or the other to make him sing faster or slower.When his button is pushed there's a pause, and a lot going on in there, involving all sorts of connections being made and a mechanical whirr that makes you think Santa might rocket off on his heels.His only song is Jingle Bells, which he sings in a weird way, rolling the 'R' in "Santa Claus is heerrrrrre." like a tire down a mountain.
His speed switch is the square at the back of his battery compartment.I don't remember him ever having a battery door, but there seem to be screw holes. No wait. They didn't put screws in the battery doors back then. Kids were free to lick all the battery acid their little mouths could hold.

As you can see, his metal battery thingy has eaten a hole in his coat.
He comes out every Christmas though. When I was 12 I moved to live with my Dad. I didn't take much, since originally I was just going for the summer. So I must have already brought Singing Santa to Dad's the year before, because every year he stood on the edge of our electric fireplace, often getting his beard caught in the chain link screen.
That accounts for some of his beard problems.

When my kids were little their dolls used to give their Christmas lists, (The dolls' lists that is, not the kids'. Of course, it was kind of the same thing.), to Singing Santa, in spite of his annoying inability to sit down so they could sit on his lap.
"Stand on Santa's feet and tell him what you want!"
Singing Santa had a plastic rod that went through his body, connecting his 'on' button, disguised behind his belt buckle, to his 'on' switch deep in the recesses of his back.When Emma was little the plastic rod broke. Ken rigged Santa up with a replacement rod made out of a plastic drinking straw.That worked for a while, but Ken had to repair him a couple more times. Finally the button inside must have broken, because Santa just couldn't be made to sing any more. His singing box can actually be taken out of his styrofoam body,so we have looked at it to see if it can be fixed,but it looks like even repairs are a thing of the past now. I can still here him though. "Welcome one, welcome all,Santa Clausss isss HEERRRRRRE!"

  Thanks to reader JennZ for posting the voice of the singing Santa on YouTube! You can hear him sing again HERE!
  See you again tomorrow.

8 comments:

  1. Oh, my goodness! You HAVE him! I had one just like it (I'm 46 now)! Can still remember the song!

    [sleighbells start jingling]
    Dashing through the snow
    On a one-horse open sleigh
    O're the fields we go
    Laughing all the way

    Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells
    Jingle all the way
    Oh what fun it is to ride
    On a one horse open sleigh

    Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells
    Christmas Time is Near
    Welcome one, welcome all...
    Santa Claus is heeeeeere!

    I would give just about anything to have another one, in working condition. If I could digitize the song, that'd be awesome, too!

    If anyone can point me to a functioning model, I'd be greatly appreciative!

    By the way, NEVER let your batteries get low... his voice gets slow and he sometimes gets stuck on a verse... very spooky...

    Jingle bells, bells, bells, bells, bells
    Laughing all the way, way, way, way...

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    1. Hey! The last time I looked, just a couple of days ago, there was one on Ebay listed as 'untried'. That probably means he doesn't work, but you never know. When I was writing this post Ken and I started talking about how I would like to have mine sing again. We were doing dualing computers, me on the regular and him on the laptop, so we both checked on Ebay to see if there were any for sale there.There were two, one which said it didn't work and one which said 'untested'. Ken surprised me on Christmas with the untested one! He bid on it and it actually arrived in time for him to try him out and have him wrapped for me on Christmas! Ken couldn't get him to do more than what he thought was whirr. I tried him out and he did have a problem getting started. His battery had to be in sort of crooked, but he was working somewhat. I recognized the 'whirr' as a very slow version of those jingle bells you mentioned that he starts off with. Sadly, he just can't seem to get past those sleigh bells.Maybe the battery is just weak, like you said! We'll mess around trying to get him to work, but apart from cutting the stryrofoam body open, I don't know how we would get the voice box out to put in my old one. The on switch rod goes from the belt buckle to the voice box. This new one is so mint I would hate to destroy him, plus I'd have to do the same to mine. By the way, your rendition of the song was perfect!

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    2. The last time mine worked (back before we threw him away) was back in the early 80's (beforewe moved to Pasadena, CA in '84). One Christmas, we put in fresh batteries and he no workie. I ended up taking the voice box out and disassembling it.

      The audio is on a thin plastic "record" (white, I believe). There is a plastic speaker, attached to a tiny plastic needle. It's a primitive phonograph! If you have a voice box that is otherwise unrecoverable, disassemble it to see how it works. Maybe there is a belt that's rotted and slipping (if it's not direct drive), or maybe it needs a new needle or the speaker is separating from the needle or whatever.

      I'd love to get a digitized sample of the audio (I'd pay $5-$10 for that alone! Even with repeats (where the needle gets stuck, as long as the entire song is there, I can use Audacity (audio software) to edit it down to a clean, straight through copy) . We could then take that and put it in a little digital playback "box" (with replaceable battery; hearing aid size) with a push button, and place those inside of the original bodies and restore them! We only need ONE copy of the song, to preserve it forever. And, if we got adventurous... we could build NEW Santas with these same digital audio boxes and sell them to people like me, who want to relive our childhood anytime we like!

      I'd gladly pay $50 for a working Singing Santa... even $100, if necessary. How about you? You have the Santas and their voice boxes... get me the audio and I'll clean it up. The world is our oyster beyond that point!

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  2. Hi! Is anyone still monitoring this thread? I came across this blog while searching for info on this singing santa... I could probably help with the audio-recording! If you are interesting in an audio-copy, just reply to this comment with your email! PS - if you know how to create the 'replacement' Luposian is talking about, I would love to hear more!

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    1. I know there are small recordable things that come in children's books,(So you can record a special someone reading the book.), and even in picture frames. I'm guessing it would be something like that. You could always try emailing Luposian and see if he's still interested. As for me, respond here with your email address,which I won't publish, and I'll email you and we can sort this out privately. I now have THREE non working Santa's: my own and 2 that were bought 'untried'.(Naturally they didn't work either!)

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  3. Hi all!

    I hope that this Singing Santa and his voice will bring back some happy memories. Enjoy!

    https://youtu.be/8obTiMA1Kv0

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    1. Thanks JennZ! I put a link at the bottom of the post. We've already listened to him. Ah memories!

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    2. You know that switch behind the battery? I think I had mine turned down a bit because I remember him singing just a little slower. That last word stretched out forever: heeeeerrrreeee!

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Thanks in advance for your comments.