Sunday, September 25, 2022

C. Stroup – The Klackerman Memoirs (continued)

Last month I told you about a few of the places where The Klackerman appeared.  He was for 25 years passed back and forth between my brother and me.  Once an unwanted piece of porcelain, he became coveted and notorious for showing up in the strangest places.  And now his journeys continue:

We took a vacation to Boca Raton and stayed with some friends named Bob and Shirley.  They had moved from St. Louis to Florida a few years earlier.  Turned out we all enjoyed boating and when our friends moved they moved their 44-foot boat with them.  We made the boat ready for our trip up the St. Lucy River.  About the last thing to do before taking the lines loose is to put up the antenna…which in this case was 18 feet tall.  Bob raised the thing up and I heard a familiar sound, one I hadn’t heard in quite some time.  It was The Klackerman letting me know he was attached to the very top of the antenna and there he stayed for our entire 3-day cruise.

Another trip to Florida, several years later, landed The Klackerman on the plate the waiter brought me in a restaurant in Ft. Lauderdale.  I had my picture taken while sticking my tongue out at him (at The Klackerman not the waiter) and mailed that to my brother Jack.  Of course, Bob and Shirley had their fingers in that plan, too.

My husband called me from work one day and said, “You’ll never guess who was in my briefcase at work today.  He wasn’t there this morning but he was after lunch.  My sister-in-law, Fran, knew the IBM account representative who called on her company.  She gave The Klackerman to him and he in turn gave it to a co-worker of Ken’s.  The co-worker smuggled it in to Ken’s briefcase.  

My greatest coup was when Jack and Fran took a trip to Hawaii.  They flew from St. Louis to LA with a connection onto Oahu.  They boarded the plane and when they got to their seats, The Klackerman was taped to the window.  My sister-in-law almost let out a scream when she saw him.  And my bro stood there with his mouth open.  The Klackerman became quite famous on that leg of their trip as Jack and Fran entertained all of the coach passengers with The Klackerman’s previous appearances.  The stewardesses even gave them free champagne!

I worked for a travel agency at the time and one of my co-workers was friends with a gate agent at the Kansas City airport.  Once anyone learned about The Klackerman they were gung ho to get involved.  So my friend sent The Klackerman to her buddy who managed to have a stewardess affix the figurine to the window prior to Jack and Fran boarding the plane in St. Louis.  He had to do a lot of explaining to many of his fellow airline employees to get the job done.  Just imagine trying to pull something like that off in today’s world of airport security.  It was tough enough back then.  But as a result The Klackerman vacationed for that week in Hawaii.  And true to form my brother told me that he and Fran had changed their seating arrangements at the last minute and weren’t in row 14, seats A & B.  Oh he’d been had alright, but he always had some reason to tell me why he hadn’t.

It became more and more difficult to find new presentations for The Klackerman, so one year for Christmas I gave my brother a set of license plates for his car.  They were actual real plates I’d managed to get through the Missouri DPS.  His old plates were about to expire so the timing was perfect for new vanity plates which read:  KLKRMN.  He kept them on his car for a full year.  People that didn’t know about our game would ask what the letters stood for.  Of course, this would involve unfolding the entire background of The Klackerman including his first appearances and then his travels, as well. 

For my birthday one time I was given a cake made in the exact likeness of The Klackerman.  Obviously the baker had gone to great lengths to replicate him in this fashion.  I remember thinking I didn’t want to cut into the cake…it was like cutting The Klackerman up into many pieces.  But he was quite delicious!

After we moved to New Jersey Ken’s folks came to visit.  They were 3 days into their stay before I noticed The Klackerman was on my fireplace mantle.  Finding The Klackerman was always a surprise and this time he hadn’t been seen in almost a year!

One visit back to St. Louis my brother insisted on taking me to a bar for a drink before he took me to the airport.  We were sitting at the bar and he was introducing me to his cronies.  I was looking around at things as you do when you sit at a bar and up high I spied The Klackerman stuck to the wall.  It was another one of those “The Klackerman hadn’t been seen in over 6 months and now there he was grinning down at me.”  Everyone in the place knew he was there; it just took me awhile to discover him.

That Christmas I had a Klackerman T-shirt printed up to give my brother since I had no way of getting him down from the wall in the bar.  That was an unspoken rule in our game…you had to be able to retrieve him from wherever you found him, in order to reclaim ownership.

We moved to Texas a few years later after making great friends up east.  One by one each of the 5 couples was transferred to another state.  But we had a pact to meet once a year for a reunion.  It just so happened that the year we met in Connecticut prizes were awarded by the hosting couple to the group.  For instance, one couple was given a prize for being the first to arrive.  Our boxed up gift was for traveling the farthest distance.  We opened last only to find The Klackerman.  Since all of our friends were aware of his past this particular prize beat all.

More next month.

Originally published in the December 2010 issue of The Cross Timbers Gazette.

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