My sis-in-law, Fran, had quite a time finding a gift for me for this Christmas. She’s a character in her own right and always comes up with something unique. Now, there’s unique and then there’s inimitable. Leave it to her to locate impossible.
She and The Klackerman go back 55 years, as that’s when she met my Bro Jack whom she later married. When I started writing The Klackerman’s memoirs, I called her a few times to pick her brain about how or where or who was involved in getting him to where he wound up, if it were Jack’s doings. When I told her I was writing articles about his journeys her wheels started spinning.
She began to wonder if there could possibly be another one of these little men sitting on someone’s shelf and if it just MIGHT be for sale. This began her web-wide search which started in late October. The problem was…how in the world to “Google” a “Klackerman.” Obviously he wouldn’t be listed that way as that was just a name Bro Jack and I made up along the way. So, how does one describe “a small, ceramic man, in a tuxedo, with a top-hat shot glass who also serves as a dinner bell?” That was her dilemma. Well, she actually did type in just about all that information! The results were everything imaginable…tuxedo rentals, beach hats, ceramic cuff links…pages of worthless links and no Klackerman.
She shortened it to “ceramic dinner bell tuxedo,” and found you could actually buy a small Texas map dinner bell, or have dinner prepared for 12 people in your home by the St. Mary’s staff and chef, or even buy a cowboy repeater dinner bell. Doesn’t everyone use a repeater to summon guests to the table for dinner?
These attempts were not working. So Fran tried using just the words on his cap, “A Measure of Cheer”…aha! That might work! Right? Wrong! She did learn how to measure for a cheerleading costume, how to measure the right amount of Cheer for a load of laundry and that the school district cheered the passing of the measure.
She tried so many combinations of words and descriptions, it would boggle your mind: tuxedo dinner bell, tuxedo top hat, tuxedo ceramic, black ceramic dinner bell, ceramic shot glass dinner bell, and on and on.
She decided to focus on just eBay and see what could be found there. This search for “figurines” brought over 66,000 results; narrowing that to “ceramic” reduced that to just over 4,500; narrowing that to “tuxedo” didn’t bring much of anything; “dinner bell” was a loser; “shot glass” brought over 300 results, but the closest thing to a Klackerman was an elephant. By now, it was mid-November, and ole Fran was pretty discouraged! But, if she’s anything, she’s tenacious.
While on eBay, she happened upon a lady who collects and sells “stuff”… she even calls it that in the name of her store. She has over 6,000 items listed, so Fran thought, why not? After pouring through the lady’s lists of “stuff,” which was more than anyone could imagine, Fran kept thinking things like, “if she has an overstuffed ceramic cow with bulging eyes bottle opener, wouldn’t ya think she’d have something like a Klackerman?” On about screen 39, and 2000+ photos later, she couldn’t believe her eyes: Man In Tuxedo & Top Hat Ceramic Bell & Shot Glass appeared.
There it was…OMG, a Klackerman! The only difference was his yellow vest (not blue) and that he was in ‘mint’ condition. It was apparent; this guy had none of the fun of traveling that the original did. Also apparent was the fact that “Google” can’t read the headers in eBay! I mean, how much closer could she have gotten with her Google search than what was posted in this eBay description? Jeez!
Naturally, she wrote the seller immediately and did a “buy it now” purchase. Fran told the lady a little bit about the background of the original and why this was such a great find. The lady was happy for Fran and packed him very carefully for his shipment to St. Louis. (She did not have anymore like him.)
For his Christmas presentation, Fran went shopping again, this time for a suitable container for his display. She decided on a round glass dome with a brass base – much like what is used to display a collectible pocket watch. Using a clear sticker she typed on gold lettering and labeled the dome, “Klackerman II.” The Klackerman was wrapped separately from the dome so when I opened my gifts I had to open in order of how she had numbered them.
The one labeled ‘fragile’ I gingerly unwrapped (having no clue as to its contents) carefully unrolling it from layers of tissue paper. Then I heard a sound I hadn’t heard in 15 years…and knew it was The Klackerman!!! Surnuf, down to every detail, but for his yellow vest, was my old buddy! A chill ran down my spine and a few tears welled in my eyes. But delight in having him back again overcame sad emotions with glad feelings. And the dome to house him was simply the icing on the cake!
While nothing can ever replace “The” Klackerman, K2 will serve nicely as a warm reminder of many fun times and fond memories. Fran said, “He sure brought a big smile to my face! For next Christmas I’ll work on giving you something that’s really unique and probably hard to find. Ha!”
Originally published in the February 2011 issue of The Cross Timbers Gazette.