Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Mr. Jingeling

I don't really enjoy Christmas. I haven't in years. I've mentioned this before.

HOWEVER, this year I'm going to try to change my tune. I've been thinking about Christmases past, hoping that they will help me feel better about the holiday. Lucky YOU, my dear will get to read all about my Christmas memories!

If any of you grew up in an area where you could see Cleveland television stations, you may know who I'm referring to with this particular memory. I spent the first eight years of my life about 35 minutes southeast of Cleveland in northeast Ohio.

There was a nice department store in downtown Cleveland called Halle's. I don't know the history of the store, and never actually visited there, but everyone around knew about the store. Halle's sponsored a half hour television show that came on each weekday for a few weeks before Christmas.

There was a character, Mr. Jingeling, who was the "keeper of the keys" and was Santa's right hand elf. Mr. Jingeling would basically promote items from the Toy Department at Halle's, but would do it in such a subtle way that it wasn't obnoxious. He would also tell stories about Santa, working with the other elves, and what the North Pole was like. He would also spend part of his show sitting behind a table with a child on either side of him. Mr. Jingeling would talk to the children and gave each one a special large key to wear around their neck.

Oh, how I wanted to be one of Mr. Jingeling's children!

Occasionally throughout the holiday season, Mr. Jingeling could actually be found on the 7th floor of Halle's Department Store, handing out keys to the children.

At least that's what I've HEARD...I never got a key of my own.

When Mr. Jingeling came on for the season, Christmas couldn't be too far behind.

The theme song was quite catchy too:

Mr. Jingeling, how you tingaling,
Keeper of the keys.
On Halle's seventh floor,
We'll be waiting for
You to turn the key.

Mr. Jingeling went off the air in the 70s, well after I grew out of watching him, and the actor who played him passed away on December 26, 2000. This doesn't mean that I've ever forgotten him though.

Apparently there is still a gentleman playing Mr. Jingeling. I don't want to spend too much time thinking about him or looking at his photo too much, because it will tarnish my childhood memories. But you can see the history of Mr. Jingeling and the "new guy" here.

I miss the old Mr. Jingeling and what he represented...the innocence of youth.


The Arthur Clan said...

I'm also trying to change my tune about Christmas this year. I usually get so overwhelmed by the decorating (putting up a tree with four excited kids) and the shopping (buying gifts for a million and one people) that I just want the season to be over.

But, there is so much joy in Christmas for me right now as well...four kids who LOVE the season (three of whom still believe in Santa) and I don't want to miss out on one bit of that joy!

So my Bah-Humbugs are officially banished. (Although the Christmas music playing EVERYWHERE is still driving me nuts!)

PERBS said...

Well, I still believe in Santa. . . looks like it was a neat tradition.

Anonymous said...

There were several men who took on the role of Mr. Jingeling over the years. In fact, the pictures you've posted show two different actors who played the part. The top picture is Earl Keyes, who was Mr. Jingeling for the longest period of time, from 1964 until he passed away (on Christmas Eve) in 2000. (After Halle's Department Store closed, he appeared at Higbee's and then Tower City.) The bottom photo is of Max Ellis, who played the part from 1957-1962. How do I know so much about this? I'm the guy who's taken on the mantle of Mr. Jingeling since 2002. I just wanted to say that it's been an honor for me. Reviving Mr. Jingeling is a way for parents and grandparents to share their Christmas memories with their children and grandchildren. I've heard such wonderful stories from people of all walks of life about how the trip downtown to visit Mr. Jingeling was a magical event. The Magic Key is to be placed under your pillow on Christmas Eve for guarenteed sweet dreams and visions of sugar plums dancing in your head.

Merry Christmas,

Jonathan Wilhelm (the 5th Mr. Jingeling)