All posts by pamgreen

Leg Lamp Trivia: 7 Things You Don’t Know

1. The leg lamp did not exist before the movie’s author (and narrator) Jean Shepherd  dreamt it up for his short story My Old Man and the Lascivious Special Award That Heralded the Birth of Pop Art (First published in 1966).

Jean Shepherd, Leg Lamp inventor.
Jean Shepherd invented the leg lamp and narrates A Christmas Story. (He has a cameo in the movie, too!)

2. The author imagined a soda pop company had unwittingly given birth to the “pop art” movement. He came up with the idea of a leg-shaped lamp after seeing a Nehi Cola ad featuring a woman’s stocking-clad leg.

Soda Pop Art
What if “pop art” was invented by a soda pop company? Would it be soda pop art?

3. The leg lamp has Canadian roots! The original was fabricated by Toronto prop-master Henry Piersig and rigged by special effects guru Martin Malivoire.

Peter Mansbridge is a leg man!
Revered Canadian broadcaster Peter Mansbridge is a leg man! (Click to watch CBC story)

4. Several versions of the leg lamp were made for use on-set.  Despite what has been reported elsewhere, at least one did survive the shoot and sat for years in the window of Martin Malivoire’s special effects shop in Toronto. It became dirty and dusty over the years, so he disposed of the forlorn lamp in the early 1990s, just a few years before A Christmas Story leg lamps became “a thing.”

Break a leg lamp!

5. Memorabilia company NECA was the first to license and mass produce A Christmas Story leg lamps as a novelty, starting in 2003. They were inspired by reports from around the country of people making their own leg lamp to display at Christmas time. Now leg lamps come in all shapes and sizes, including this nifty leg lamp light string!

Lots of Leg Lamps
Leg Lamps come in all shapes and sizes.

6. According to A Christmas Story Treasury, the leg lamp in the movie was created by casting  a mould of an actual woman’s leg. “The studio sent over a chubby model,” said effects wiz Martin Malivoire, who helped fabricate the lamp for the movie.

A Christmas Story Treasury
Great book about A Christmas Story

7. Although Jean Shepherd came up with the idea of the leg lamp itself, production designer Reuben Freed created its look. He based the lampshade on the “classic bell shape” of a lamp in his mother’s living room window.

Dying to put a leg lamp in your front window? has lots of leg lamp options, from tall to tiny!


Oakville Santa Claus Parade

Christmas On Parade!

If you remember much about the holiday classic A Christmas Story, you’ll recall the scene in which the Parker clan ventures downtown to watch the annual Christmas Parade. They snag a prime spot in front of Higbees Department Store and marvel at marching bands, garish floats, Santa Claus and even Mickey Mouse being pestered by the flying monkeys from the Wizard of Oz(?)!

Christmas parade kids
Christmas parade kids

For many of us, watching the annual home-town Christmas parade is part and parcel of our Christmas traditions.  That’s because Christmas parades serve to usher in the excitement of the holiday season.

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Back in Black: Who was the Real Black Bart

Remember the dream sequence in A Christmas Story when Ralphie has visions of saving his family from Black Bart? It’s a nod to the kind of 1940′s-era characters that would have pervaded young Ralphie’s imagination.

But in reality, Black Bart wasn’t just some fictional desperado.  In actual fact, the character originated in an 1870s dime novel that was loosely based on a true story. The writer called his main character Bartholomew Graham who took the name of “Black Bart” because he wore black clothes, had black long curly hair and a dense black beard. And Black Bart had real-life inspiration.

Charles Bowles was born in England around 1830 and immigrated to New York a few years later with his family.  Shortly after entering adulthood, young Charles Bowles had his name changed to Charles Boles and, in 1849, he set off for California with a cousin to find gold. Like countless others, they failed to strike it rich and returned home a few years later.  But, undaunted, Charley Boles set out to find gold again with his cousin and his brother. Once again they failed, and both his brother cousin both perished after falling ill.

Eventually, Charley returned again, fell in love, and was married. Later, he spent some time in the Union Army and then went west to Montana where he set up a mining site that was dependent on water. His claim attracted the attention of some men from Wells Fargo who wanted to buy his claim.  When Boles refused, they cut off the supply of water and Charley was forced to abandon the mine. In a letter to his wife he wrote, “I am going to take steps.” She wasn’t quite sure what that meant.

But it wasn’t long until a series of daring robberies began, in which Wells Fargo stage coaches were hijacked and robbed of their money and valuables.  The robberies began in 1875 and each time a poem was left behind, hinting that the perpetrator would strike again. They were signed “Black Bart”.

Throughout the late 1870s and early 1880s, Bart robbed Wells Fargo stage coaches many times.  He wore a flour sack on his head and never fired a shot, though on a few occasions, shots were fired at him. There was never any mayhem or extreme violence.