Sunday, December 14, 2014

Santa's Christmas Rocket coloring book (1982)

Last December I featured a circa-1971 Christmas-themed fun book from the York Mall. This one is of a more recent vintage. The 1982 publication of Handi-Ad Printing Company is called Santa's Christmas Rocket and it is stamped with the name and address of the West Manchester Mall here in York.1

The coloring book features the adventures of Becky and Bobby and, yes, Santa's rocket. On Page 1, Santa invites the two children aboard his rocket to "visit the galaxy." Then he shows them a map of the planets they will visit. By Page 3, he's explaining the rocket's controls to Becky and Bobby, showing them a lever labeled "FASTER." The exact science of the rocket is unclear. Santa then inexplicably lays down on the floor and takes a nap, turning full control of the ship over to these two children he has just met. Instead of flying the ship, however, Becky and Bobby take advantage of Santa's nap to dig through his sack of toys, which they likely did not have permission to do. Then things get weird, with LSD possibly involved. They meet presumably alien creatures called Hairheds, Dractidecs and Boolies, and placate them with various toys from Santa's bag. Santa, who conveniently has a human-sized lollipop, gives it one of the giants on Glopuso, a planet I am unfamiliar with. Becky then reads Mother Goose to the Nannas, a race of disturbingly anthropomorphic bananas. Finally, they give both a fire truck and the gift of fire to a race called the Mimfies, and it is unclear that their civilization is ready for those advances. Fortunately (?) the final page involves Becky and Bobby waking up to find the whole thing was a dream. It is not, however, explained how they shared the same dream.

The back page of Santa's Christmas Rocket features an advertisement for the commercial real estate company Crown American, which remains based in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Crown American was originally responsible for many of Pennsylvania's smaller-town malls, the type that people like me grew up with in the 1970s and 1980s. They were involved, for example, with the North Hanover Mall, Nittany Mall, Capital City Mall, Chambersburg Mall and Lycoming Mall.

I have just now realized that my wife wrote about this same coloring booklet on her blog, Only in York County, in 2012. And, best of all, she scanned all of the trippy coloring pages, so you can see exactly what I'm talking about when I say that this is one weird booklet.

1. As I write this, the West Manchester Mall is undergoing a major renovation that will turn it into the West Manchester Town Center. Ashar and I went inside a couple of days ago and the few remaining businesses include the movie theater and a comic-book store (where we browsed the Batman offerings). The renovations will make it more of an open-air mall, with exterior storefronts rather than an indoor gallery. That configuration will make it less useful as a potential hiding place in the event of a zombie uprising.

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