The Herald Bulletin

December 20, 2012

‘Fra-gee-lay, that must be Italian’

Resident’s love of film inspires unique holiday decor

By Abbey Doyle
The Herald Bulletin

PENDLETON, Ind. — Retired veterinarian Dr. Phillip Shirley likes the classic movie “A Christmas Story.”

Actually, he really, really likes “A Christmas Story.”

Shirley is such a fan of the holiday film set in Indiana that he created a display in honor of it in his front yard.

“I’m hooked on ‘A Christmas Story,’” he said with a laugh. “It is very Hoosier, set in a Hoosier community depicting a typical Hoosier family. The father is so corny; and little Ralphie, I can relate to him.”

Most families remember images from the film.

Some of the most memorable scenes involve young Flick sticking his tongue to a cold flagpole and  a tongue-tied Ralphie sitting on Santa’s lap.

Another memorable scene involves the famous “lady leg lamp,” that “gift” that Mr. Parker receives in a huge crate.

Shirley purchased the largest lamp replica he could find — about 4 feet tall — and had contractors frame the leg lamp making it about 5 feet square so he could suspend it between the middle pillars of his Pendleton home.

“It is illuminated very nicely,” he said. “It is just so tacky, but that’s the charm of it.”

But it doesn’t stop there. Shirley discovered an adult-sized fuzzy pink bunny outfit, a replica of the one Ralphie’s Aunt Clara gave the boy in the film for Christmas.

“Aunt Clara had for years labored under the delusion that I was not only perpetually 4 years old, but also a girl,” says adult Ralphie while narrating the film.

Shirley laughed, saying that wearing his own bunny suit was just one more way to have fun with the film. In addition to the bunny suit, Shirley’s companion Gloria has a costume reminiscent of the lamp itself.

The film is something that not only Shirley’s generation can relate to, but also others as it remains popular running on TV’s TBS channel for 24 hours straight on Christmas Day.

“For us, it is part of our Christmas, so of course we watch it,” Shirley said. “I just love living vicariously through it. I am little Ralphie. I was a child during the era it was filmed. I wanted a Red Ryder BB gun. I just had to have it, like every little boy. And every little boy’s mom said, ‘You’ll shoot your eye out.’”

Shirley finally got a BB gun, although it was several years later. To this day he’s never shot his eye out.

Find Abbey Doyle on Facebook and @heraldbulletin on Twitter, or call 640-4805.