August 24 (Afternoon) – A Christmas Story Home

Leaving the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame we spotted Great Lakes freighter moored at a quay nearby the Hall of Fame

and then a plaque honoring a survivor of the December 7, 1941 attach on Pearl Harbor,

located in front of the local U.S. Coast Guard station.

Back to our car, we decided to eat out “picnic” lunch (which we always pack while on the road or sightseeing).  Suddenly, Debbie spotted

just down the street from where we were parked.  The quarter-mile trip took us by a lake-side airport where two F4 jets were on display.

The submarine was the USS Cod (SS-224), a World War II “boat”

Nearby was a

From there we headed for our next planned stop, only four miles away.  However, Debbie’s ever-sharp eye spotted the FirstEnergy Stadium where the Cleveland Brown play,

the Terminal Tower, a residential building and the second tallest structure in Cleveland,

examples of soeme interesting architecture,

a number of bridge and building murals,

and decorated electrical boxes controlling street and traffic lights.

We arrived at the house on Cleveland Street

which was used as a setting for Gene Shepard’s “A Christmas Story” … and a young boy’s dreams of getting a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas;

a story based to some degree on his own childhood.

Actually, the house was discovered by Shepard and his partner when they got lost looking for a steel mill.  Once they spotted the house, they knew it was perfect for their use.  Finding no one home, the retired to the local tavern across the street

to wait for the homeowner to return.  Luckily, when asking the bartender about who owned the house they were overheard by none other than the owner, himself.  After several rounds of drinks, the owner accepted an offer paying him three-times what he was earning at the steel mill where he worked for the rental of his home and immediately handed over the keys.

Once inside, however, Shepard discovered the interior was far smaller than he’d anticipated.  Nevertheless, by adding a dining room on and shooting some of the interior scenes in Toronto, the house worked well and, based on the movie’s enduring success, it has become an iconic location.

For those who have seen the movie, they will recall these settings.

The original car Ralphie’s father drove is in Canada, but a duplicate 1938 Oldsmobile is parked in a garage across the street.

Some trivia:

  •  The winter of 1983, the year the movie was made, there was NO SNOW in Cleveland.
  • The snow on Cleveland Street was created using a mixture of soap detergent, potato flakes and a chemical used in fire extinguishers.
  • If you look closely at that scene, there is a 3-4 second clip in which you will see a red house (center photo on bottom row) at the end of the street with no snow on it … as the owner wanted nothing to do with the movie.

  • The other winter scenes, including the fight, were shot in Toronto.
  • As the house had no dining room, one was added.
  • There were three original “leg” lamps.  Two were broken, one accidentally and one as part of the movie script.  The third was lost and years later discovered in pieces in a landfill.
  • The bowling ball was blue.  However, in the time period of the movie, all bowling balls were black.
  • If you look closely, when the box with the leg lamp is opened it has no electrical cord.

  • There were six Red Ryder rifles purchased for the movie.  The original was kept as a “real” Christmas present by the then young Peter Billingsby  (Ralphie).  One was damaged and discarded, three are missing   The sixth is in the museum across the street from the house.  It was never used as the stock is warped.

  • When  Ralphies’s  father is sitting in the chair reading the funnies (before the dogs ruin the turkey), there is a small gold lampshade sitting on the table next to him. In the first shot, there is a Christmas bow on it. In the following shot, the bow has disappeared.
  • Towards the beginning of the movie when Ralphie’s dad is in the basement fixing the furnace and the entire family is staring at the door, you need to keep an eye on the left side of the screen.  There is a crewmember in the family room, who is on the screen by mistake.  You don’t see the person right away, but it is in that sequence when you see the mom in the shot, then you can see the leg of the person very quickly in the background.
  • The flag pole was a piece of PVC pipe painted silver and Ralphie’s tongue was held to the pole because there was a vacuum attached to the base creating the suction to keep the tongue attached.
  • In the playground scene when Ralphie first sticks his tongue to the flagpole, the street in the background has been snowplowed. The kids all go back in to the classroom without Flick. When the teacher asks “Where’s Ralphie?”, and looks out the window and sees him at the pole, the same street in the back ground has not been plowed.
  • The first “take” of the flag pole scene, there was a delay before the bell rang and the kids returned to their classroom required a retake.  During the retake, the bell rang immediately and the kids ran back to class … but no one turned the vacuum off so Ralphie was truly “stuck” on the pole.
  • When Ralphie’s mother breaks the lamp, it is broken into many pieces, but when his father is gluing it back together it is now in much fewer and bigger broken pieces. Obviously different broken lamps were used.
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