I Remember Television

S24 E7 | FULL EPISODE

The Ruggles - Christmas Eve

It’s the classic Christmas Eve episode of The Ruggles from 1949. The Ruggles clan decides to do something nice for Sharon's classmate, Elaine, whose father recently died. They prepare a lavish meal and take to her house on Christmas Eve, but discover that she's quite happy and a great singer, to boot.

AIRED: December 24, 2017 | 0:59:06
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TRANSCRIPT

(dramatic music)

(upbeat music)

- [Announcer] Now wasn't that nice?

- Hello, I'm doctor Piers Britton.

- I'm Jessica Greenwell.

- And I'm Ron Witte.

Welcome to I Remember Television Again.

- It's 1949, the turn of a new decade is near.

Peace on earth is closer to being in reach

than it has been for decades,

the war is over and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization

or NATO has been signed.

Economic prosperity is just around the corner

and with it the golden age of television.

In the month of November a TV series brings Americans

the warmth and positivity of a New Years promise.

It's the Ruggles.

- Every 30-minute episode of this endearing family sitcom

is a vision of the suburban American dream.

Charles Ruggles stars as the faithful man of the house

with the charisma of a star performer

and the jolly nature of Kris Kringle himself,

rosy cheeks and all.

With one of the longest careers in show business to date,

dating him back to the era of silent film,

Charles knew better than anybody

how to brighten up a television screen.

- The remaining numbers of the Ruggles family

complete the picture of perfection.

Mr. Ruggles brings home the bacon,

his devout and loving wife Margaret prepares it,

and the whole family serves a delightful side dish

of bountiful laughs.

The line up of kids are Shannon, the astute college student,

Chuck, the good-natured high schooler,

and the adorable twins Donna and Donald.

- Joy, generosity and more warm-hearted family values

take the lead in tonight's special Christmas Eve episode

bringing us back to the days before holidays had phones

and tablets disconnecting us from sincere togetherness.

- So let's commemorate the true meaning

of the Christmas spirit as I Remember Television.

(lively orchestral music)

- Yours very truly, Donna Ruggles.

Here, now I'm already to read it.

- No I wanna read it to Daddy.

- No, no I will. - No I will.

- Here here here, what is the argument?

- Donna won't let me read the letter to Santa Claus.

- Oh?

Well now you wrote that letter together, didn't you?

- Yes, Daddy. - Yes, Daddy.

- Well then you both can read it together to me.

So I tell you, Donna you start and Donald you butt in

any time you want.

- OK. - OK.

- All right, sit down and let's hear what you've written.

- Let's see.

Dear Santa Claus.

- Yeah, Dear Santa Claus.

- We know that with all the kids in the world

it must be very hard for you to keep track

of who's been good and who's been bad.

And so we thought we would help you out.

We're going to tell you.

- Ah-ha, mm-hmm.

- Donna as been a very good girl, all year long.

And Donald has been very good, also.

- Yeah, how about that Donald, have you been good?

- Well I've been good more times

than I've been bad, I think.

- Oh, so you think you'd perhaps rather skip

the being bad part, huh?

- Besides, I've been punished for being bad.

- And we've been sorry every time.

- You have, well then you have a point there, now go on.

- OK, let's see.

So please, Santa, as long as we've all been so very good,

we'd like to have you bring Donald a train.

A real train that runs.

- Well, how about the Super Chief?

- We like Jerry very much, so we think our sister Sharon

should have a couple more boyfriends.

That would make it more exciting,

so please Santa bring her some.

- Bring her, oh now wait a minute, wait a minute,

boyfriends just don't grow in bunches, like bananas.

- Now wait just a minute here.

- Sounds looks like the kids

have been peeking into your dream, Dad.

- (laughing) You mean about Jeff Logan, eh?

Well go ahead kids, more?

- OK, yeah there's more Daddy.

And please Santa bring our brother Chuck

a car with hot rods.

- [Chuck] Now you've said something.

- On the condition that he lets us ride in it.

- Mommy wants a new bed.

The one she's got now has got lumps.

- Oh, just because you hid some of your old toys

in the mattress, that's all.

- And we'd like you to bring Daddy a checkbook

so he can write out some more money.

- A checkbook, well now that is something I'm going to need,

believe me, no kidding.

- We think that's all Santa.

Signed, yours very truly, Donna Ruggles.

- And Donald Ruggles.

- Well now that's a very nice letter, kids.

- Wait a minute, I got a P.C.

- A what, a P.C., what's that?

- Please Santa.

- Oh no, you mean P.S.

- P.S. Please look around and see if you have anything left.

And if you do, give it all

to those who aren't as lucky as we are.

Oh, we thank you.

- Oh, that's fine, that's very nice, OK.

And ask your mother.

- Do you think Santa will like our letter, Mommy?

- Well, he certainly well, that's a very fine letter.

- Sure it is. - Can we go mail it?

- Yeah, you go mail it,

but don't go wandering all around the block now, run along.

- [Donna] We've got to be good until after Christmas.

(twins singing "Jingle Bells")

- Say Dad? - What?

- Where are we gonna put the tree this year?

- The tree?

- [Mother] Over by the windows, I guess.

- Well now, I tell you, I thought that perhaps,

about the tree, that maybe this year--

- [All] We wouldn't have a tree.

- We wouldn't, oh my golly,

I say that every year, don't I?

(chorus of agreement)

Well all right, I'll leave it up to you guys,

and I hope it'll be the biggest

and prettiest one on the block.

- Want to play a game of checkers, Sis?

- Oh, swell.

- Charles? - Yes dear.

- Do you realize?

22 Christmases.

We've had 22 Christmases.

- Oh my gosh, don't remind me of that, Margaret.

- We still have our health,

that's something to be thankful for.

- Yeah yeah, it certainly is.

- And almost everything else that we need, besides.

- Well, it has been a good year honey,

I'll say that for it.

- I wish we could share our blessings.

- Oh, you mean you think we have more than enough?

- Well you know, I mean with with somebody

less fortunate than we are.

- Well we always manage to do our bit dear,

you know the Community Chest

and any other charity that we can afford.

- Oh no no dear, I don't mean that,

I mean something more personal.

- Oh, you mean for instance like Ernie

and your mother, maybe?

- Oh, we always take care of them.

- Well why don't we invite them over this Christmas,

you know they'll probably be alone.

- Darling don't you remember, I told you

that Ernie is taking Mother to Denver for Christmas,

to spend it with his family.

- Oh, that's right, that's right, that's right,

well we'll think of something now Margaret, don't worry.

- Ah, now watch this move, you really did it this time.

One, two, three. - Oh, no.

- Oh, no. (laughing)

- Oh, I do wish I could think of somebody.

- How about Blinky and his pop.

- Now let me see, who?

- Blinky and his pop.

- Blinky and his pop huh, now there's an idea by golly.

- Hey, I know of someone. - Who?

- Elaine Schuman. - Elaine Schuman?

- You remember, she was in my graduating class.

She has less than anybody I can think of.

And she and her mother are probably alone this year,

her father passed away, you know.

- Yeah but, we hardly know her, Sis.

Why don't we just ask Mary Anne?

- Oh now Chuck dear, that isn't the idea at all.

We want to give to somebody who really needs it.

- Well Elaine needs it.

What about it, Father?

- [Father] Well I tell you I'm not in favor

of doing things on the spur of the moment, Sharon.

- Well you said that we should

share our good fortune with others.

- No, it was your mother who said that.

- Father, don't you think--

- Ah no, of course I still am in favor of it.

- Well then why all the objections?

- Well what I object to dear

is waiting for the holidays to do something for someone

that you should have done a long time ago.

- [Sharon] Oh Father, for Pete's sake--

- Well now look here, you didn't go out of your way

to be nice to this girl all during the year did you?

- [Sharon] Father, I haven't seen her

since I started at college.

She hasn't been coming to any of our parties.

- Oh I see, well did you ever stop to think

that there might be a reason for that?

- What do you mean, Dad?

- Well, in the first place, because if you say

she was not so well off,

maybe she couldn't afford to go to college.

- Well, I'm almost certain of that.

- And by the same reason

she probably couldn't go to parties you see, either.

That's the same deal.

- [Sharon] Well I know that, and her mother's been ill.

- Maybe she has to work.

Yeah, you know that, that's the idea,

that's just what I mean Sharon.

You know all that

and yet you didn't do anything about it until now.

You know kids, let me tell you something.

All around us, every day we see someone who needs help.

But do we do anything about it, no.

Instead we wait until Christmas rolls around, by golly.

And then we start buying gifts for each other,

and writing letters to Santa Claus,

and dropping a few pennies in the Salvation Army bucket.

And for a few short days only, we have a feeling of peace

and goodwill toward our fellow man.

- [Mother] But Charles, isn't that

one of the main reasons for Christmas?

- I don't get what you mean, dear.

- Well to remind us to do the things

that we do we should do.

- [Sharon] Yes, Father, how about that?

- Well now why should we have to be reminded?

I just don't want our kids, dear, to grow up and think

that they can neglect all their duties

throughout the entire year and make up for it

by one good deed at Christmas time, that's all.

- You've got something there, Dad.

- Well I guess we better forget Elaine, then.

- No, I didn't say that, Sharon.

I just wanted you to know how I feel.

- Well, isn't that the same thing?

- Well, I'll leave it up to you.

- Those are for you, and pass that to Donna.

And another one for Donald.

Oh, Chuck, pass that to Chuck.

Here Sharon, here's for you.

Oh, Christmas cards, Christmas cards,

I love to get Christmas cards.

- You do really, Christmas cards, and early too, by golly.

It's a good deal because then you can send

to those that you may have forgotten.

(Sharon laughing)

- What's the matter, someone send you one

with a feather in it?

- Listen to this.

"At Christmas time don't send me money,

"just let me touch your lips, my honey."

- Now who sent that?

- I don't know, it isn't signed.

- Young most probably, or your friend the coach.

- Oh I don't think so.

- Jerry couldn't be that icky.

- I got one from Grandma.

- Oh did you dear, well read it.

- It says, "Merry Christmas to Donna.

"I hope Santa brings you all you wanna."

- Oh my golly, we'll have to send Grandma

one of those rhyming dictionaries, I think.

- Wait a minute, I got one from Grandma, too.

"Happy yuletide, little boy.

"Hope Santa brings you many a toy.

"From Grandma."

- Where does Mother get those cards?

- Very juvenile.

- Doesn't she know we're grown up?

- Well here's my little contribution.

"When I picked out this little verse"

"I pays my dough and takes my cherce.

"So happy Noel to all youse joiks.

"Wit a merry Christmas and all the woiks."

- Oh, Ben Milligan.

- Ben Milligan, how'd you know?

- Well, who else?

- Well at least he didn't send back

the card we sent him last year, by golly.

- Well, here's someone who, did Mrs. Van Markam.

"'Tis the season that follows the fall,

"So merry Christmas to one and all."

- Oh my gosh, don't tell me

we sent a card out like that, Margaret.

- Don't you remember?

- Yeah well yeah I know, but it's so silly.

Everybody knows that Christmas is in the winter,

and that winter is the season that follows the fall,

who picked that card out originally?

- You did, Father.

- No, I didn't.

Well no wonder she sent it back, huh?

- [Donna] Can we be excused?

- Have you finished?

- [Donald] We want to go up and wrap packages.

- All right, well run along there, run along.

Wrap those packages good too, because...

- Thanks, governor.

- Governor, where do you get that governor stuff?

- That's grown up talk.

- Ah, run along.

Those kids are growing up too doggone fast, you know?

- Um, Father would you like to

go over to Elaine Schuman's with us?

- Well that's what we decided on isn't it?

- Yeah, both of us.

- Well then sure we'll go.

But first I think if we've all finished,

we ought to practice what I preached a little last night

and help our mother with the breakfast dishes.

- Glad to hear that.

- I'll wash. - OK, I'll wipe.

- And I'll see that you do it right.

- Oh no you don't, you just get a dish towel.

- You're gonna do the what Chuck,

you're gonna do the scraping?

- Here's a nice pile for you.

- There you are, boy.

- You know Margaret, what you said last night

sorta started me to thinking, I dreamt about it all night.

I don't know...

- What dear?

- Well about that 22 year thing, you know.

My gosh it seems like yesterday

that we had our first Christmas with Sharon, you know it?

- It seems longer than that to me.

- The older I get the faster time flies.

- Yeah, well I hope the older you get the wiser you get.

- Oh, I'm doing all right, Dad.

And I found out you don't learn everything

from books, either.

- No? Meaning what?

- Marianne, I learned about women from her, yeah.

- Thank you, Rudyard Kipling.

- Well I hoped you learned a little something besides.

- Oh, I'm doing all right Mom, honest.

Now for instance, I have learned that if a guy

really buckles down and applies himself

he can accomplish almost anything he wants to.

- Oh, you mean you're thinking about that time

that you were selected

to be the judge of the court, are you?

- Well, that's one thing.

- Well now let me tell you, you earned that one, son.

- Yeah but, I was sure glad I had you advising.

- Well, that's what fathers are far, isn't it?

- Yeah, but it took me 19 years before I learned

never to underestimate the power of a father.

- Oh well thank you, son.

Yes, well don't be rubbing the flowers off of that thing,

try another one, try another one.

And you know the same rule

applies to a mother too, by golly.

- Oh, indubitably. - Yes, sir.

And speaking of mothers,

now that we're throwing compliments around,

Mother, we want to thank you, we have you to thank

for being so nice to us and making all our lives

worth living this past year, as always.

- Oh, well now dear I did I didn't do anything different

from the year before.

- I said, "as always."

You want to go over to Elaine Schuman's with us, dear?

- Oh dear, I've got so much to do.

If you don't mind I think I'll stay right here.

- OK, OK, then Chuck and Sharon and I will go.

- Oh Father.

On second thought, I don't think I'll go.

- Why not? - What's the deal?

- Well, frankly I'm a little ashamed to face her.

- It was your idea.

- Well, I know, but like Father said,

I shouldn't have ignored her,

I should have taken the initiative

and invited her over once in a while.

Golly, with college and Jerry and everything,

well I just didn't have the time.

And I, well you know how it is.

- That, my dear, is what is known in psychological circles

as justification by rationalization.

Yeah, I'd forget about that whole deal if I were you,

and finish up and come on let's get going now, hm?

(gentle music)

(bell ringing)

- Yes?

- Hi, Elaine. - Well, Sharon.

Sharon Ruggles.

- It's me all right. - And Chuck.

- In the flesh.

- Oh, Elaine, I'd like you to meet my father.

- How do you do, Mr. Ruggles.

- How are you Elaine,

I've been hearing a great deal about you lately.

- Well, won't you come in?

- Well thank you, thank you, we will.

- I'm just finishing my holiday decorating.

- Oh?

- It's the first chance I've had.

The babies have been keeping me so busy.

- The babies? - At the nursery.

A lot of the mothers in this neighborhood work at night,

so I help take care of their children.

- Oh, I imagine the extra money comes in handy,

eh Elaine?

- Oh, we don't get paid, it's purely voluntary.

- Oh. - Oh.

- May I take your things?

- Well I'm afraid we can't stay too long.

- Oh, your place is just beautiful.

- It's all sort of clean and cozy.

- Are you surprised?

- Oh well, I, that is...

- It's not what you expected, is that it?

- Well, no, you see...

I don't know--

- Well Chuck didn't mean it the way it sounded.

- No, he just opens up his mouth, and you never know.

- That's right. - I'm sorry.

- You needn't be, I understand.

Come and see my gallery, and my little Bethlehem

- Well, well. - Isn't it beautiful?

- Well my goodness, look at that, isn't that wonderful,

that is really something isn't it?

- Say, I'll bet that really cost a lot.

- [Elaine] Oh no, my father made these for me

when I was a little girl.

He carved all the figures out of wood with his penknife.

And then Mother and all of us painted it together.

- [Father] Why, I mean the detail is remarkable.

- I remember when he carved this wise man,

he told me the story of Jesus.

- Oh, when he was carving it he told you the story of,

well, you and your father must have been very very close.

- Oh we were.

He was terribly sentimental.

He believed that happiness could cure anything.

- Well, maybe he was right, by golly.

- He was full of all those corny old platitudes.

Smile and the world smiles with you,

there's always a silver lining,

and prosperity is just around the corner.

Why, he believed them all.

- Oh, well how about you, do you believe them?

- I think I do, but sometimes I get a little impatient.

- Well don't we all,

you know life is very unpredictable, Elaine.

- Father always used to say that life

was an everlasting struggle to keep the money coming in

and his hair from falling out.

- Well, that's a page out of my book,

I'm losing mine any day now, I tell you.

- Hey, you know something?

- What?

- I bet the twins would really get a kick out of these.

- Why don't you bring them over?

Oh my goodness, I forgot to ask you to sit down.

- Well, I was wondering--

- Please sit down right here.

- Why sure, thank you, thank you.

- Um, Elaine? - Yes?

- I suppose you're wondering why we came over.

- Well, frankly I am surprised.

- Well, as you know, we never palled around much

in high school together, and--

- Let's get to the point, shall we?

- Look, Elaine, it being a holiday season,

we all got to thinking about how lucky we are--

- And how we have everything that we could ever ask for.

- And how we'd like to share our happiness with someone,

well, someone who was--

- Less fortunate?

- Yeah.

- And you thought I might know of someone.

- Well--

- Oh, I do, there are lots of people in this neighborhood.

Why, there's the Harringtons,

and Mrs. Greenly, and Mrs. Joyce.

Why her three children have all been sick.

And then there's Mr. Hillman, oh there are lots of people.

- But Elaine, you don't understand,

you see what we meant was--

- What Chuck meant was that's exactly what we mean, Elaine.

Yes, you see last night, we talked over the idea

of helping someone less fortunate than ourselves this year.

And Chuck and Sharon suggested they come to you.

They said that you knew a lot of people who needed help.

So if you'll give us the names and the addresses

of those people, we'll probably see what we can do tomorrow.

How about it, Sharon, Chuck, isn't that what we came for?

- Yeah, sure Dad, that's right.

- Oh yes, swell.

- Oh, they'll be very grateful, I know.

Mother and I do what we can but it's never enough.

And well, mother's in San Diego now,

working over the holiday.

- Well then you're alone.

- Until after New Year's.

- Well then we could spend the night together,

you know the whole evening, how about it Dad?

- Yeah, I mean we can have dinner.

- Oh, that sounds like a wonderful idea.

I'll tell you what, I've got plenty in the icebox,

and I'd love to have you stay.

- But, Elaine, you don't understand, you see--

- And Donna and Donald will have a chance to see my gallery.

- Well they'd be thrilled, Elaine, believe me.

- How about it, Mr. Ruggles.

- Eh well, that's very nice of you Elaine, but--

- You could go home and get Mrs. Ruggles and the twins,

and in the meantime I could start getting things ready.

- Well, I tell you, I'll make a deal with you.

- A deal?

- I think Mrs. Ruggles has the dinner already prepared,

in fact she probably has it all fixed up

and ready to put in the oven.

But I'll tell you, supposing you leave what you have

in the icebox, and I'll get Mrs. Ruggles and the twins,

and the dinner, and we'll bring it over here.

- But I could just as well--

- That is my ultimatum, either you take us,

or you take us and don't take us, or you do or don't

and take the dinner together.

- Very well Mr. Ruggles, you win.

- All right, that's a deal.

Come on Chuck we're gonna need a little hand here.

And Sharon, you can say with Elaine you know,

in case she needs some help.

- Hold on to your appetites girls.

We'll be back in a flash with the hash!

- My son.

We thank thee, Oh Lord, for the bountiful meal

of which we have partaken.

We thank Thee for Thy guidance and protection,

and for all the blessings You have bestowed upon us.

Grant us continued health and happiness.

Bless our country, that it may be a stronghold of peace

and goodwill among men.

Thy most precious gift.

Strengthen the bonds of friendship and brotherhood

between all the peoples of the earth.

And may Thy name hallow every home and every heart, amen.

- Amen. - Amen.

- [Donna] May we please leave the table, Daddy?

- [Donald] Yeah, we want to see the manger,

the wise men, and all the other things.

- Oh well, all right, all right, but be careful please.

My golly, up and down, up and down,

I don't know whether we have twins or animated pile drivers.

Well, all I can say is that was a wonderful dinner,

and that roast was simply scrumptious.

- Aren't you forgetting who cooked it, Mr. Ruggles?

- Credit where credit is due.

- All right, so I give you credit, it was out of this world,

it is now anyhow, but somehow or other I don't know,

I think maybe the atmosphere of this home

seemed to make it taste even better.

- It's the Christmas spirit.

The house has nothing to do with it.

- Oh?

- Shall we go into my parlor?

- How about clearing away the table?

- Oh, we can do those later, I hate dishes.

(twins singing "O Little Town of Bethlehem")

- [Elaine] Don't stop.

That was beautiful, please go on.

- I'm unconscious.

(laughing)

- Self-conscious, dear.

- I'll tell you what we do,

supposing we all sing this together, huh?

Are we all set now, all ready.

Ready?

♪ O little town of Bethlehem

♪ How still we see thee lie

♪ Above thy deep and dreamless sleep ♪

♪ The silent stars go by

♪ Yet in thy dark streets shineth ♪

♪ The everlasting Light

♪ The hopes and fears of all the years ♪

♪ Are met in thee tonight

- [Mother] Oh Elaine, that's beautiful.

- My goodness, well.

- Why is a voice like that hanging around loose?

- By golly, a voice like that's

not going to hang around loose.

You know what I'm gonna do, Margaret?

I'm gonna see Joe Connelly

of the Continental Recording Company and ask him

if he won't listen to the Elaine's voice.

Would you mind if I did that?

- Oh, I'd just love it.

Oh, Mr. Ruggles you're very kind.

- [Chuck] Why have you been hiding a voice like that

under a bushel?

- I haven't hidden it.

I love to sing, but it's just that I've been too busy

to do anything with it.

- Oh Elaine, you must sing.

Oh my my, what surprises we've had this evening.

- Haven't we really, full of surprises, I'll say.

And by golly not only surprises but a lesson.

A lesson for all of us.

A lesson the Ruggles and all of us,

and every other family can profit by.

You know, happiness is within oneself.

It isn't what we have or how much we have that counts,

it's how much of what we have that we enjoy.

You have that gift, Elaine.

The gift of enjoying what you have,

and of giving it to others.

You're a very lucky girl, and much richer than most of us.

Well, look at me making a little holiday speech here.

Well now that I have, how's about giving us a little encore,

will you Elaine?

- Oh, please.

- What should I sing?

Well, let me look in my book.

Oh, I know.

This is my favorite, and I'm sure it's yours.

♪ Silent night, Holy night

♪ All is calm, all is bright

♪ Round yon virgin, mother and child ♪

♪ Holy infant, so tender and mild ♪

♪ Sleep in heavenly peace

♪ Sleep in heavenly peace

(lively orchestral music)

- A reminder of the simpler days

when all the entertainment a family needed

was a song to sing, and each other.

In our next show, we'll travel to Los Angeles

and the search to find a missing statue of the baby Jesus

only hours before Christmas Day mass.

- Dragnet was first created as a radio show,

but after immense success

it was adapted for the small screen.

It first aired in 1951.

It would run for the next eight years,

following the adventures of sergeant Joe Friday,

played by the show's creator, Jack Webb,

and his partner officer Frank Smith,

portrayed by Ben Alexander.

- The show's name relates to the police term dragnet,

meaning a system of coordinate measures

for apprehending criminals or suspects.

The show is almost instantly recognizable

from its theme song, titled Danger Ahead,

composed by Walter Schumann and notably used

in the 1946 film version of The Killers.

Each show is organized in the same manner,

starting with the visual of a police badge

marked with the number 714.

And a narrator that explains that the story

you are about to see is true.

And is later followed by Joe Friday's description

of the setting and details of the case at hand.

- In tonight's episode, we get the details on a theft

at a local church on the day before Christmas.

So let's take a look back at the year 1953,

as I Remember Television.

(dramatic music)

- [Narrator] Ladies and gentlemen,

the story you're about to see is true.

- [Joe] This is the city.

Los Angeles, California.

I work here, I'm a cop.

It was Wednesday, December 24, we were working the day watch

out of Burglary Division.

The boss is Captain Barnard, my partner's Frank Smith.

My name's Friday.

- Hi Joe. - Hi.

- Christmas cards, huh?

Little late, aren't you?

- Well I was gonna send them out Monday

but we had that stakeout.

- You ought to get married, Joe.

- Yeah?

- It's the only system.

Faye does all that stuff for me.

Laundry, mails cards, only system.

- Might help.

- You got a big stack there.

- I ought to cut down the list.

Look at this here, upholstery shop.

- Yeah.

They send me a card every year,

I never get anything upholstered.

- Faye and I ought to go over our list, cut off a few names.

I brought in your present.

Want to open it now?

- No, I'll wait.

- I always open a couple the day before.

- Why?

- Well, puts you in the spirit ahead of time.

I opened Phil's this morning.

- Who's he?

- Faye's his brother in Denver.

Gave me a magazine, one of those funny ones.

- What do you mean, a comic book?

- No, one of those funny ones, you know.

- No I don't, Frank.

- Well, some of the pages have holes in them.

You look through and there's a picture on the next page.

- Oh yeah, I've seen those on the newsstand.

- They have cloth pasted in.

- Cloth? - In the ad.

If you want to buy a suit, they have a sample right there.

- You mean you can feel it?

- Reach right out and feel it.

There was one for $200.

- A suit? - Sure.

Cloth comes from Scotland.

- What's it made out of, solid gold?

- No they got a special kind of goat over there,

it's real smooth.

- Not a goat, Frank, a sheep.

- Well it's a special kind of sheep then,

because the suit cost $200.

- You gonna get one?

- I told Faye, she said wear the sample.

Anything doing?

- Fanning and Pryor were in on that market holdup.

- They come up with anything?

- Pound of air, nothing else.

- I hope it stays quiet.

I got more shopping to do.

- I finished.

- What'd you get Anne?

- Stationary set, some paper and envelopes, leather binding.

- Joe, you'll never learn.

- Well what's the matter?

- No woman wants a stationary set,

get her something personal.

- Well it's got her initials on it.

- No no, you want something more sentimental, romantic.

- What'd you get Faye?

- It's different in her case.

- What'd you get Faye?

- Sewing machine.

- That's romantic.

- Well, it is, in a way.

- Why don't you buy her a catcher's mitt?

(telephone ringing)

- Burglary, Friday.

Yes, that's right, you have the right department.

All right Father, we'll be right down.

No, you can tell us about it there.

Goodbye.

The Old Mission Church, they've had a theft.

- Collection money?

- Statue of the Child Jesus.

(dramatic music)

- [Joe Voiceover] Frank and I checked out of the office

and rode over to the church

at the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Main Street,

near the Union Station.

It was an old church,

it was there before there was a Union Station

or trains to come into a station.

The padres from down in Mexico built it.

The devout Mexicans in town still attended services there.

10:05 a.m.

We asked for Father Xavier Rojas,

who had communicated with us.

We were told he was inside.

We found Father Rojas up near the sanctuary.

He told us about the crib.

It was a $70 duplication of the scene at Bethlehem.

The parishioners had taken up a collection for it

31 years ago.

It was put up every year on December 22nd

and taken down after the holy season.

It was beautiful except that one of the shepherds

had lost an arm, a sheep was old and cracked,

and the infant Jesus was missing.

- I'm sorry to bother you men.

- It's all right, Father.

- Especially now, the holiday season.

- We cash our checks, Father.

You want to tell us what happened?

- Or what you think happened?

- I discovered the statue is missing

right after the six o'clock mass.

- You say the six?

- Yes, I started over to the rectory

and stopped by the crib.

- Was the statue there before mass?

- I don't know, but it was there last night.

- How late is the church open?

- All night.

- You leave it wide open, so any thief can walk in?

- Particularly thieves, Sergeant.

- You say it was there last night Father, how late?

- 10 or 11 o'clock, we had confessions.

- No one saw it after that?

- One of the altar boys, he says it may have been there,

he thinks it was.

- Did he see it?

- He's not sure.

- What's his name?

- Pardon me.

Here's the schedule,

you'll find the names for every mass there.

- Was there a big crowd at the six o'clock mass, Father?

- Not too many, seven's the big one,

people on their way to work.

- Did anyone stay after mass, did you notice?

- Not especially, I came back here, took off the vestments,

I suppose it was 10 or 15 minutes

before I went back in the church.

- It was empty then?

- No, people were coming in for the 7 o'clock.

- Are these the altar boys, James Cornyn

and Joseph Heffernan?

That's right, Joe's the one who mentioned

it might have been there.

- Did you check with the other priests, Father?

- Before I called you.

None of them knows anything about it.

- Just for a check on the pawn shops,

how much is the statute worth?

- In money?

- Well that's the point in pawnshops, Father.

- Only a few dollars.

We could get a new one, but it wouldn't be the same.

We've had children in the parish,

they've grown up and married.

It's the only Jesus they know.

- We understand.

- And we've had children who died,

it was the only Jesus they knew.

So many of the people who come here are simple people,

they wouldn't understand, Sergeant.

It would be like changing the evening star.

- We'll do our best, Father.

- That's why it would mean so much

to have it back for the first mass on Christmas.

- Not very long, Father.

- Less than 24 hours.

- If anything turns up here

you know where to get in touch with us.

- Yes.

Sad, isn't it?

- How's that?

- In so short a time men learn to steal.

- Yes, but consider us, Father.

- Us?

- If some of them didn't, you and I'd be out of work.

(gentle orchestral music)

- [Joe Voiceover] 10:50 a.m.

We notified pawnshop detail.

We gave them a description of the missing object,

the time and the place of theft.

A few minutes later,

Frank and I checked out the two altar boys.

The first one James Cornyn,

said that he knew nothing about it.

After mass he'd gone out the sacristy door

and come straight home for breakfast.

The second one, Joseph Heffernan, was not at home.

His father said he had a part-time job.

He'd have him get in touch with us after lunch.

By 11:30 a.m. we'd run out of book procedure.

We had a man to find.

Our only clue, he'd been to church.

(dramatic music)

- We're police officers.

My name's Friday, this is my partner Frank Smith.

- Great to see you.

Caught me in the middle of a big chess match.

- Where's your partner?

- Up in San Jose, we've been playing for years.

- I see.

- You know, we do it through the mail.

I send him a move, he sends me one.

- You Mr. Flavin?

- How do you know, we never met.

- Your name's on the window out front.

- Mr. Flavin, we checked the other two religious stores

in this neighborhood, they're closed.

- This is the best one anyway.

50% European items.

- We're checking the stores around the Mission Church.

- For what?

- Statue of the Child Jesus.

Do you have on we could look at?

- Sure.

- No sir, a larger one.

- You don't want a larger one, unless it's for a church,

that's where you want a larger one.

- Could we see it, please?

- It's not my due to butt in,

but unless you live in a big place this,

will make your living room all a-kilter.

- Yes, sir.

Do most of the people who go to the Mission Church

trade here?

- Good many of them, 'specially the kids.

- Why kids?

- More religious.

Check on yourself, see if kids

aren't more religious than you.

- Might be so.

- That's what's wrong with the world.

Oh, I don't mean you're wrong with it, everybody.

- Yes, sir.

Wonder if we could sick to the point, Mr. Flavin.

- Sure, lot of people from the Mission Church

come in here.

- Do people ever come in and sell back a religious article?

- Like a prayer book or rosaries?

- Yes, sir. - Secondhand you mean?

- Yes, sir.

- Not since I ever been around, it's silly.

- Why?

- People don't have religious articles

so they can get rid of them.

They haven't so they can have them.

- But if a man had a statue and wanted to sell it,

he'd come to a place like this.

- Sure, but he wouldn't want to sell it.

- He would if it was stolen.

- No sir, if a man was to steal a statue

he'd be crazy or something like that.

The only place he'd want to go is where crazy people are.

- You may be right Mr. Flavin

- I don't know what you fellas are looking for,

but if it's somebody who stole the statue,

he's crazy and you won't find him.

You won't find him as long as you live,

or in a million years.

- That should cover it.

(gentle orchestral music)

- [Joe Voiceover] We continued to check religious stores

out as far as Van Ness.

We asked the same questions.

The owners gave us the same answers,

but none of them were as encouraging as Mr. Flavin.

Frank and I had lunch and reported back to the office.

It was 1:30 p.m.

- I just checked for you in the lunch room.

- We've been out of that theft at the mission.

- May get some action on the Patterson case.

- They locate him?

- They think he's on the bus from Sacramento.

- Well that means the Bakersfield police.

- We'll wait and see.

- Are one of you fellas Sergeant Friday?

- He is.

- I'm Joe Heffernan.

My father said you wanted to see me.

- Sit down son, you didn't have to come in,

a phone call would have worked.

- My father said to get on over.

He says that any kid that uses phones is lazy.

- We want to ask you about this morning.

- You serve 6 o'clock mass?

- Yes, sir.

I'm senior boy, so I get the six.

- You're senior, and you take the early trick?

- Yes, sir.

That way if you receive communion,

you get to have breakfast sooner.

- Father Rojas says you think the statute

was there before mass.

- I didn't look, but I have a feeling it was there.

- A feeling?

- You know, how you have a feeling about something,

but you're not sure?

- Did you stay around long after mass?

- I put out candles and hung up my surplice.

- How long would that take?

- About 5 minutes, maybe.

- Did any of the people at mass stay on?

- Some always do, especially ladies.

- Oh?

- Maybe they don't finish in time.

Or else they new prayers, I don't know.

- So when you left there was still some women there?

- No sir, that was at first,

after I went back to the sacristy,

there was only this one man.

- What man?

- He comes to 6 o'clock all the time.

Do you know his name? - No, sir.

But he works down on Olive.

You know, paint shop, where they paint signs.

- Could you describe him?

- Sort of medium, wearing a suit that didn't match.

- Didn't match?

- You know, different pants than coat.

- How about his age?

- Oh, he's pretty old. - Take a guess.

- About 40 maybe.

There's nothing particularly about him.

- Then why did you notice him?

- I seen him before, and the bundle I guess.

- The bundle?

- Out in front, I saw him when he was coming out.

He had this bundle, and he almost dropped it.

- How large a bundle?

- It's hard to say.

- Come on son, was it large or small,

the size of the statue?

- About that big, yes sir.

(gentle orchestral music)

- [Joe Voiceover] We located the sign shop.

The suspect didn't work there anymore,

but we discovered his name was Claude Stroup.

We found out where he lived.

2:25 p.m., we arrived there.

It was a hotel for men, mostly old men,

mostly down-and-outers.

It was called the Golden Dream.

- Police officers, we're looking at Claude Stroup.

- Hope Claude didn't get in any trouble.

- So do we, is he in?

- No, he's got room 307, you can check if you like.

- We'll take your word.

- Were you one this morning?

- Hm?

- You have the early shift.

- Well we don't have shifts, my uncle owns the place.

I'm a shift.

- Did Stroup spend last night here?

- Came in about 11:00.

- When did he leave this morning?

- Around 6:00, maybe before.

- He come back?

- After 8 o'clock or so, then left,

supposed to be back at 10:00.

And pulls this trick.

- What trick? - Our program.

He knows the other fellas need him.

- Program?

- Here at the hotel, every Christmas we have a program.

Put up a tree and sing.

They're mostly old fellas, singing like that

makes him remember back when we were kids.

Then Jimmy Finn comes on.

- Jimmy Finn?

- He shares number 409.

His family once had a lot of money,

so he tells the fellas about it.

Stories about Christmas, how they had this big log,

and his grandfather used to start it up.

And after dinner everybody turned over his plate,

and there underneath was a $20 gold piece, a brand-new one.

- When Stroup came in this morning did he have a bundle?

- I didn't see him come in.

- You said you saw him.

- I saw him go out after but not come in.

- When was that? - 8:00.

If you want to look for a bundle

I could give you his key.

- We don't have a warrant.

- It's all right, I know about police,

it's all right with me.

- It's not with us.

- I didn't mean that, I just meant it was all right with me.

♪ Good King Wenceslaus looked out ♪

♪ On the feast of Stephen

♪ When the snow lay round about ♪

♪ Deep and crisp and even

♪ Frankly shone the moon that night ♪

♪ Though the frost was cruel

♪ When the poor man came in sight ♪

♪ Gathering winter fuel

- This is the last rehearsal.

They got most of the songs down pat.

- Sounds pretty good.

- Yeah, that's why it's a shame Claude isn't here.

He's tenor and they need him

to make it sound just right.

- Does Stroup have a job?

- No sir, he used to have jobs.

Not much lately though.

- Did he say where he was going?

- No, he should have, the fellas need him.

- When he comes in, will you call us?

- Sure, and not say anything to him, huh?

- That's right.

- I hope it's nothing serious with Claude.

Fella's troubles ought to be over.

- Troubles?

- Way back, wouldn't count now.

- Tell us anyway.

- I don't know much about it.

- As much as you know, now come on.

- Was something back where he used to live.

Robbed somebody or something.

- What else? - That's all.

It was a long time ago, away far back.

But he forgot it all, the robbing and everything.

- No, not quite - Hmm?

- He remembered it this morning.

♪ God rest ye merry gentlemen

♪ Let nothing you dismay

♪ For Jesus Christ our savior

♪ Was born upon this day

(dramatic music)

- [Joe Voiceover] We ran Claude Stroup's name through R&I.

If he'd been booked anywhere, we had no record of it.

At least not under that name.

4:15 p.m.

Pawnshop detail reported back.

Up until that time no object

resembling the statue of the Child Jesus had been turned in.

- Patterson's on that Sacramento bus.

- I thought Bakersfield had it?

- They were supposed to confirm, they did.

I'll inform the station.

- What about Fanning and Pryor?

- They're still out.

- Well, they'll be back soon, when's the bus arrive?

- Six o'clock.

- Plenty of time for them to make it.

There's more time for you.

- We're still in that theft.

- Can't it wait? - No.

- What is it, $10, $15 statue?

- When's the price determine a case?

- I realize it's a church statue

but that doesn't give it priority.

- It's important to them Captain,

Joe and I promise to get it back.

- What do you got on it?

- Nothing much.

- Then why are you so big hearted?

(telephone ringing)

- Burglary, Friday.

When?

No, don't say anything.

No, right.

Claude Stroup, he just walked into the hotel.

He's our suspect.

- Nobody's leaked to him? - No.

- He'll keep, you can run him down tomorrow.

- It will be too late then.

- They need it for the first mass

in the morning, skipper.

It's kind of a big thing for them.

- I'm sorry, I can't juggle details around

so you can get a statue back.

If there's time later on we'll do our best.

- Yes, sir.

- You better get over to station.

- Yes, sir.

Will you call Father Rojas over at the mission?

- Why?

- Tell them we're too busy to work on that statue.

- Well we'll do it later tomorrow, or when we get a chance.

Why can't you call him?

- Well we better get over the station.

- If Patterson's on that bus we don't want to miss him.

- All right, I'll call him.

Friday? - Yeah.

- I can send Fanning and Pryor,

you might as well stay on another thing.

- Whatever you say, Captain.

(gentle orchestral music)

- [Joe Voiceover] 4:43 p.m.

We arrived at the Golden Dream Hotel.

The desk clerk was right, Claude Stroup looked like a man

who'd had his troubles at bargain rates.

- Your name Claude Stroup?

- Yes, sir.

- Police officers, we'd like to talk to you.

- I didn't do anything against the law,

honest I didn't do anything against it.

- You haven't been accused.

- Want take you downtown.

- We'd like to talk to you.

- No sir, I'm not going, I'm not going anywhere,

I'm not gonna talk to anybody.

- You're half wrong already.

(dramatic music)

- [Joe Voiceover] 5:15 p.m.

We return Stroup for interrogation.

He kept his word, he refused to talk.

6:05 p.m. Frank called Faye,

told her that he'd be a little late.

Stroup didn't move for a whole hour.

He sat and stared but he didn't talk.

6:40 p.m. we got a final report from pawnshop detail.

The shops were closed, there was no statue.

Stroup still hadn't talked.

- Don't you ever want to go home, Stroup?

- If I was to talk you wouldn't let me go.

- Depends on what you'd say.

- I'd say it wrong, and I wouldn't get home.

- You won't this way, either.

- I'd like to go, you can bet on that.

This is the seventh year we had the program,

and I never missed a one.

Not a single one.

- Why don't you tell us what happened, Stroup.

- How would I know you'd let me go?

- You wouldn't.

- I might as well anyway.

- All right what happened, from mass on.

- Well, there was mass.

I came out and started down toward the hotel.

- Back up.

- I left my stuff at the hotel

and then I picked up George's car.

I didn't steal it.

He said I could have it anytime I wanted.

Only this time I didn't ask him.

I took it and started off.

- Well.

- I shoulda asked, but I just didn't.

I went over to Grant Avenue for the Christmas bulbs,

where this fella sells them secondhand.

It was coming out with a lot that I did it.

- Yeah.

- The bumper must have caught the other car.

Didn't leave too big a dent but there was this long scratch.

I got out and tried to wipe it off with my handkerchief.

You know, spit on it like?

Only it didn't do no good.

I didn't think anybody saw.

I don't know how you fellas found out about it.

- I'll check auto records.

- Right.

Stroup we didn't bring you down here to talk about that.

- You didn't? - No.

There's a statue missing from the church,

the statue of the Child Jesus.

- You mean I took it?

- You took a bundle out of church.

- Yes sir, that was my other pants for the program tonight.

I had a place sewed up and there was a button on it.

You can check.

But I wouldn't take a statue.

- I don't think you would either.

He's clear at auto records.

- Go on home.

- For the program?

You mean it's all right.

- Good night, Stroup.

- Good night.

Merry Christmas.

(gentle orchestral music)

- Where to?

- Well I don't know, we could stay and work on it tonight.

- Wouldn't do any good, we won't find it.

- I don't think so.

- No use kidding the priest, build his hopes up.

- Might as well go tell him now.

Merry Christmas.

(dramatic music)

- [Joe Voiceover] 727 p.m.

We arrived the Old Mission Plaza Church.

Frank told father Rojas how it was,

that we couldn't get the statue back by morning,

but that we'd keep trying during the week.

He said he understood.

We told him we had to get on.

(doors opening)

- [Father Rojas] Paquito?

- Padre Rojas.

- It's Paco Mendoza, a boy from the parish.

- Ask him where he found it.

(speaking Spanish)

- He didn't find it, he took it.

- Why?

(speaking Spanish)

- He says all through the years he's prayed for a red wagon.

This year he prayed to the Child Jesus.

He promised that if he got the wagon

the Child Jesus would have the first ride in it.

(speaking Spanish)

He wants to know if the Devil will come

and take him to Hell.

- That's your department, Father.

(speaking Spanish)

(choral singing)

(speaking Spanish)

- I don't understand how he got that wagon today.

Don't kids wait for Santa Claus anymore?

- It isn't from Santa Claus.

The firemen fix old toys and give them to new children.

Paquito's family, they're poor.

(choral singing)

- Are they, Father?

(dramatic music)

- Whew, I'm glad Friday and Alexander solved that case.

Talk about a time crunch, huh?

If that show's ending

didn't embody the Christmas spirit

then I don't know what does.

Thank goodness for Joe Friday's narration.

It provides so much helpful background information.

- Jack Webb was well known as a stickler for detail

because he believed that his viewers

wanted the most accurate and honest portrayal

of the world of policing.

Webb was also passionate about

respecting law enforcement officers,

so he wanted to do them justice

and show how much they helped the community.

- So until our next case, when we again venture back

into the golden days, the days that remind us

of where this magic all began,

as I Remember Television Again.

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