Saturday, December 22, 2007

An Arnold Schnabel Christmas sonnet

Some of the boys from the Heintz plant, at the Green Parrot, Christmas Eve 1962

Not for us the liberal fascism of the war on Christmas. Hell no! And so to mark this hallowed season we interrupt our regular programming to present a long-lost classic poem by Arnold Schnabel, first published in the Christmas 1962 number of the Olney Times.

Do we see some indication here of the mental breakdown Arnold suffered not a month later? You be the judge.

“Christmas Eve in Olney

It’s Christmas Eve, the factories are closed,
The boys from Heintz and Budd and Tastykake*
Are free, the Proctor & Schwartz crew have hosed
Themselves down and gone home, each lad to take
Out his one good suit from off the Sears rack,
A crisp white shirt with tab collar from Krass
A thin dark tie, Thom McAn shoes of black;
Splash some Old Spice, then off to Midnight Mass;
But first a brief stop, but just for the one
At the Green Parrot, the Huddle, or Pat’s,
And perhaps also a shot, one and done,
Make it Four Roses, and backed with a Blatz;
Five to midnight, we have time for one more --
Who would dare bar us from Helena’s door?

*"Nobody bakes a cake as tasty as a Tastykake." -- Editor

Happy holidays, everyone! The editor of this site will be visiting family by the South Jersey shore all next week, in a land where computers and the internets are still but a rumor, but feel free to keep those comments and e-mails coming, and we should be back with brand-new programming by next Saturday.

Remember, that last shot of the night is
never a good idea!

(Check the right hand column of this page for listings of links to many other fine poems by Arnold Schnabel, as well as to our exclusive ongoing serialization of his
classic Schaefer Award-winning memoir Railroad Train to Heaven.)


Unknown said...

Timeless, that Christmas video.

Interesting sonnet, too. I wonder if Arnold picked up a few bucks from the stores and brand names. I hope so.
If not, then I think maybe "Christmas Eve in Olney" might suggest that quick cringe you feel just before the thing you never saw coming knocks you flat.

Dan Leo said...

Ah, but this thing that knocked Arnold flat opened up whole new worlds for him, didn't it?

Anonymous said...

love the poem

touching references to brands make it

Dan Leo said...

Thanks, Anon. I really miss Krass Brothers. Especially their commercials.

By the way, the Heintz factory (which Arnold and his mother lived right next door to) is now a shopping mall.

Anonymous said...

What insanity? Sounds very reasonable to me just a bit of a time shift.

What may be insane are current operations, i.e. importing toxic food and trinkets and exporting war and bad debt.

"By the way, the Heintz factory (which Arnold and his mother lived right next door to) is now a shopping mall."

Yea who needs production, we just wanna shop. Any predictions on the next Bubble--stock market, to real estate, to...?

2008 should veddy interestink.

Dan Leo said...

Thanks for the comments, Red. I found this interesting site called WORKSHOP OF THE WORLD—PHILADELPHIA. All about the hundreds of factories that used to thrive in this dirty old town -- including the ones mentioned in Arnold's poem -- and just about all of which are gone now.

Here's the site (read it and weep):

I wonder what happened to the Proctor & Schwartz plant at 7th and Tabor Road? One of my first apartments was right near there. Gossip in the hood said that some of their workers came down with asbestos-related illnesses; thus Arnold's perhaps playful reference to their workmen hosing themselves down after their shift.

Unknown said...

Sometimes, there's just no helping it.
In an [Aside],Polonius refers to Hamlet:
How pregnant sometimes his
replies are!--a happiness
that often madness hits on,
which reason and sanity could
not so prosperously be
delivered of.

Dan Leo said...

Ah, Kathleen, a "most palpable hit" of a quotation. I'm sure the Bard of Olney would have appreciated the Bard of Avon's words.