What does the summer of '57 and Christmas have in common? Usually, not much, but when you are a young girl just graduated from high school, and a new company comes to town and hires you for your first job, one has very much to do with the other.
Me, on the left. Kathy, on the right.
Steiff bear, middle. Can you imagine what kind of a price tag that guy had on his head?
My cousin, Kathy, and I applied for the job of Santa's Helper when Santa's Village, an amusement theme park started in southern California, set up shop in Scotts Valley, a small town just a stone's throw away from Santa Cruz.
Kathy is two years younger than I and she lived "in town", whereas I lived "out in the sticks" of Soquel, another small town by Santa Cruz as the crow flies.
Every day my dad would drop me off at her house on his way to work and another "older" girl, that had also been hired, picked us up and hi, ho, hi, ho it's off to work we'd go!
Shirley drove a really sharp little MG, a two seater, if I remember correctly. I can't imagine how we all fit, but we had a ride in a sports car and the driver smoked, so we were "very cool"...of course, our uniforms said otherwise, but no one could have told us differently at the time.
An official Santa's Helper's uniform consisted of: dark green tights, white blouse, brown suede pixie boots and hat, both complete with jingle bells, and a tan suede vest.
Me, first on left, Kathy, second left along with a few of the other elf's and Mrs. Klaus
The park itself was very well thought out, a really charming place for families to come and spend a day. There were real reindeer, hitched up to a sleigh for rides; brightly painted cement toad stools dotted the grounds for kids to climb on; a "Through the Looking Glass" fun house; a merry-go-round and ferris wheel; Mrs. Klaus' Kitchen, where an assortment of scrumptious candies could be found; a gift shop, numerous attractions and rides for the whole family; picnic areas; and Santa's House where the man, himself, resided complete with the North Pole.
I have never seen, before or since, a more perfect example of Santa Claus then our Mr. Hansen. He was the sweetest and kindest man, with the perfectly round body, a really hearty voice and laugh, and a Swedish accent. All the children really related to him. He later went on to become the clown known as Hocus Pocus, a popular figure at birthday parties and local television. Unfortunately, I don't have a photo of Mr. Hansen as Santa Claus. Pictured below is the first Santa who didn't last very long!
Our duties included working the entrance where we would hand out a card and explain: "WELCOME TO SANTA'S VILLAGE. THIS IS YOUR ENTRANCE CARD. ANYTHING YOU PURCHASE IN THE VILLAGE WILL BE ADDED TO THIS CARD AND YOU WILL PAY FOR YOUR PURCHASES AND ADMISSION WHEN YOU LEAVE. HAVE A GOOD TIME." Of course, nine times out of ten one or the other of us would start laughing, uncontrollably, during the spiel and the other would have to take over. Looking back, I'm surprised we lasted the whole summer!
There were a lot of other fun projects also, like the story book doll fashion show.
All in all it was a very fun summer that year and I have some very fond memories. Now when we go to Santa Cruz to visit the kids, we drive right by the place where Santa's Village used to be and it's sad to see that the brightly colored buildings and toad stools are all gone and just a large stand of redwood trees marks the spot where I transitioned from youth to adulthood.
I hope you enjoyed the summer of '57, and my first work place, and now back to the business of Christmas...Judy
A sneak peek of the next part of our Christmas story.
I'm sharing this today with: