At first I thought this might be some sort of vintage Coke stunt -- you know, first they had Santa present Coke
to the brown bears so that they might tell the polar bears of the joys of Coke... And then they wouldn't have needed to create those animated polar bears
I dunno, the legend of Santa is magical and powerful and I'm a Believer. Anything is possible with legends. And marketing. Santa included.
Which reminds me of a cute story of my son two summers ago...
We were having a yard sale and, as we had lots of old books available, lots of the local book dealers were showing up. One of the local book dealers was stopping by every day of our sale to check out the 'new' old books we continued to bring out as books sold. This gentleman happens to be a bigger man with the snowy white hair and beard. .
Because my then 6 year old was on a mission to A) deny the existence of Santa & B) convince me that there was no Santa (something he'll never ever
get me to believe), I had no idea that my son would think this was Santa. On our front lawn. In July.
But he did.
When the book dealer asked my husband a question, my son grabbed my arm tightly and, speaking in that half-whisper of awe, he breathed, "Santa talks."
So, near as I can fathom, his previous notion was that of a mute Santa. That
Santa did not exist. But this talking guy on our lawn? He was Santa.
I naturally corrected my son that this man was not Santa, that he was 'just a local book buying guy'. You'd think that would have cemented Santa's death, right? But no; apparently the idea of a speaking Santa put into motion an official Belief of the legend & its magic. Now my son Believes. (At least when he's with me.)
Anyway, the power of Santa's legend is strong.
So are our local legends.
For example, these photos are not of Santa (no matter how
those eyes twinkle!). Rather, as we discover via UpNorth Memories - Don Harrison
(at Flickr), this man is John "Spikehorn" Meyers, a local legend in Meyers Clare County, Michigan.
Harrison’s most colorful character was John “Spikehorn” Meyers, known to thousands of Michigan residents simply as Spikehorn. He was a showman, naturalist, politician, coal miner, tile manufacturer, furniture builder, inventor, realtor, bear hunter, lumberjack, and above all, individualist. The old gentleman had a fertile imagination under his white thatch of hair and full white beard.
According to neighbors, Spikehorn’s interest in the woods and buckskins developed around 1930, when he opened his Bear and Deer Park established on his property at the corner of US-27 and M-61. Rumor has it the park even contained an occasional buffalo.
Spikehorn and his friend, Red Eagle, dressed in buckskins for tourists and treated them to tales of their adventures in the woods. He enjoyed feeding his pets sweets, popcorn, and pop and loved posing with his deer and bears for cameras.
His enemies were the Conservation Officers, as indicated by the sign in front of his business: “Feed Conservation Officers to the Bear.”
It looks as if those bears love
the taste of conservation officers.
Seeing these old photos reminds me that we all have our local legends.
Some are so colorful they cannot be contained in black and white photos, so large they cannot be limited to the mere 3.5 x 5.5 inches of a postcard they are presented upon. But not all of them are.
Some neighborhood legends are much smaller. They don't have to be anything more than the local shut-in, as we October Road
fans were reminded this week (in the We Lived Like Giants
episode) when Sam was afraid of Physical Phil because neighborhood kids, who do not understand Phil's fear driven behavior, believe Phil drinks the blood of cats and wears a suit made of human flesh.
It sounds silly, but every neighborhood has The One To Watch Out For, the one kids spread stories about... I'm pretty sure that Spikehorn was the goof of his time and neighborhood.
He at least had to have outshone the crazy cat lady.
Which just makes me wonder if hubby and I, as "that crazy collecting couple", should be promoting & preserving ourselves on postcards so that we might live on as legends... You know, past the neighborhood rumors and into Forever...
Nah, we've got this blog.
Labels: bears, childhood, collecting, ephemera, legends, old photographs, photographs, vintage