Sunday, December 20, 2009

Big Loo. A True Christmas Story

This story was first posted on Robot-Japan in '03. The pic came from google images.

I saw “Big Loo-Your Friend From the Moon” for sale on e-bay. Asking price was just over $1800.00. One thousand, eight hundred dollars for a forty year old plastic robot from the Marx toy company. Big Loo was a “Christmas toy” from the early 1960’s; kin to the likes of Great Garloo, Odd Ogg, Robot Commando, and Thinkatron.

Big Loo was the most desperately wanted toy on my 1963 Wish List. He could shoot balls out of one hand, and bend over and grab things to destroy with the other. He had blinking eye lights, and a crosshair sight for the dart shooters, missile launchers and water squirter. He could talk too. He had a crank operated voice with ten different sayings. Not to mention the warning bell, a two-tone whistle to further terrify the bad guys, and a compass and Morse code clicker in case you were lost in the wilderness and needed to send a message in code. Not only that- Big Loo was huge. 37” tall to be exact. He was just about everything I wanted in life that fall.

But late in that summer of 1963 we had returned home to Trenton Michigan after visiting friends who had moved to California. My younger brother had asthma; the pollen laden eastern summers were killing him. He had done remarkably better in the dry southwestern climate. Instead of spending time in the emergency room he had been running around, swimming, and skinning up his knees and elbows riding a steel wheeled sidewalk surfboard. Sometime around Halloween a ‘For Sale’ sign appeared in front of our house. My folks announced that we too would be moving to California. We were going to a place called La Habra- sort of near Disneyland, and sort of near the beach.

The house sold in November, and one Friday afternoon a fragment of broadcast broke across the loudspeaker in sixth grade Music class. The teacher turned directly to me. "John. Get down to the office right now, and find out what happened". Against all school rules, I ran down the ramp, through the lobby, and into the main office. “What Happened?” I asked.
The secretary looked at me for a moment and said in a flat, stunned voice,” Someone shot the President.” That was Friday, November 22.

Three weeks later, Friday, the Thirteenth of December was cold, and wet. The moving vans had gone. After school we said goodbye to our friends, finished packing, and took a last look at our home. The tree out front was a bare stick. The lawn was brown, the windows black, and everything else drizzly and gray. It was dark by the time we left. Mom piled my two brothers and me into the car, and my Dad drove south that night, into Ohio.

Many days later, our bedraggled family pulled up to the door of our friends’ house in La Habra California. It was after ten o’clock at night when we got there. The moving vans had been delayed, so we spent several days sleeping on the floor in their living room and everyone got the flu at once. One of the moving vans arrived Christmas Eve with half of our furniture and goods.
We spent that Christmas Eve moving into a shabby sprawling ramshackle house right off Whittier Boulevard. There were avocado, persimmon and loquat trees all overgrown in the huge shaggy yard. There were real poinsettias, too. Somehow in the midst of all that confusion my parents managed to get a Christmas tree set up and decorated in our otherwise empty living room. My Dad explained that Christmas might be delayed this year. At eleven, I understood what he meant, but my younger brothers still believed in Santa. He took my brothers and me to “Freight Outlet” and gave us each a few bucks to spend so we’d have gifts to give. My brothers and I never knew how broke we really were then. We got dinner that night from Burger Q, which was right across the street from our new home.

And the next morning my brothers and I woke up to Christmas. The house was half empty, and strange. Stranger still, it was warm, and sunny out. But it was still Christmas. I don’t know how my parents did it, but they did. We had presents. All the silly, wonderful Christmas-toy junk that my brothers and I had coveted, wished for, and figured we just wouldn’t get, appeared beneath the tree that morning. Including my talking 37” tall, ball firing, dart shooting, missile launching, water squirting eye blinking, waist bending, thing grabbing, bell ringing whistle blowing “Big Loo Your Friend From the Moon” robot from the Marx toy company.

That was Christmas 1963. By the spring of 1964, I had discovered car models, surf music, and then the Beatles. Big Loo went the way of most real toys, which is to say that I don’t know when or how it disappeared. And now there’s one for sale for eighteen hundred and some odd dollars on e-bay. There’s not a chance I’ll bid on it. Nonetheless, if it were mine I wouldn’t sell it.

A merry, and joyous Christmas to all my friends in the Coonosphere. John M

1 comment:

blendamore said...

my brother got one of those god awful looking things that same Christmas (the only year they sold them). he was four. he had his tonsils out the next month and my Dad had to go home and FETCH that god awful thing so my little brother wouldn't be lonely. obviously my little brother knew how important that robot was, but not important enough to keep. wish he did. i loved your "A True Christmas Story". brings back great memories. take care, Me, the Big Sister.