A Christmas Story: A 1937 Oldsmobile and a Bar of Soap

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For many fans, watching the 1983 movie, “A Christmas Story,” has become a holiday tradition. Set in a small town in northern Indiana in the early 1940’s, the movie chronicles the events leading up to Christmas at the Parkers. There are many memorable scenes in the movie, such as the Old Man’s “Major Award”, the flag pole incident, and the bunny suit. But, one of my favorites begins with the family’s Oldsmobile and ends with a bar of soap.

The ’37 Olds

Early in the movie, Ralphie, the nine-year-old son tells us, “Some men are Baptist, others Catholic; my father was an Oldsmobile man.” Although the Olds, a 1937 four-door sedan, was seen throughout the movie, usually covered in snow, its biggest role was during the family outing to pick up a Christmas tree. After the Old Man skillfully negotiated the price of the tree, and it was tied to the top of the car, the family began their trek back home, singing Christmas Carols along the way. However, the merriment was interrupted when the Oldsmobile blew a tire. The Old Man’s prediction, that he would change the tire in record time, unfortunately this wasn’t realized, when the lug nuts, held by Ralphie, were knocked into the air. Without thinking, Ralphie said, “Oooh fuuudge!” He, of course, didn’t really say the word fudge.

The Bar of Soap

In the early ’40s, in small town U.S.A, colorful language spoken by young boys was not easily forgiven. However, Ralphie’s mom didn’t send him to the guillotine, the electric chair, or the rack for saying The Word, as he feared. Instead, she made him sit with bar of Lifebuoy soap in his mouth. Apparently, Ralphie was a repeat offender, because he admitted: “Over the years I got to be quite a connoisseur of soap.” Since Ralphie deemed Lifebuoy to be the worst brand of soap, it seems his mom may have unknowingly chosen the punishment that fit the crime.

Movie Trivia

Whether it’s your first time, or your 30th time, you’ll become addicted to “A Christmas Story.” It’s full of scenes and one-liners that you’ll be laughing about, long after the movie ends. Chances are you’ll become, if you aren’t already, “A Christmas Story” junkie. Let’s see how many questions you can answer about the Parker family’s 1937 Olds, and Ralphie’s encounter with the bar of soap.

Questions
  • Which tire blew on the Oldsmobile?
  • How long did the Old Man predict it would take for him to change the tire?
  • How many lug nuts was Ralphie holding in the hub cap, when his father accidentally knocked them in the air?
  • What tool wasn’t shown during the tire changing scene?
  • What was the condition of the spare tire?
  • Where was the spare tire stored in the car?
  • What was the interior color of the Olds?
  • Did the Oldsmobile have an outside rearview mirror?
  • What is different about the rear doors?
  • Was the Parkers’ Oldsmobile a 6 or 8 cylinder car?
  • The Old Man got a Christmas gift to use on his Oldsmobile. What was it?
  • What was the Old Man’s complaint about his beloved Oldsmobile?
  • Besides Ralphie, who else tastes the soap?
  • What other soap brands did Ralphie tell us he had sampled?
  • What did Ralphie’s mother ask him while he was holding the bar of soap in his mouth?
Answers
  • The right front tire.
  • Four minutes.
  • Four.
  • The car jack.
  • It looked bald (no tread).
  • The upper shelf of the trunk.
  • Brown.
  • There was a rearview mirror on the driver’s side, but not on the passenger side.
  • They opened in the front (commonly called suicide doors).
  • It was a 6 cylinder car, which was distinguished by the front horizontal bar grill. The 8 cylinder model had a mesh grill design.
  • Simonize car wax.
  • He complained about it freezing up. He said, “It would freeze up even in summertime at the equator.”
  • Out of curiosity, Ralphie’s mother tasted it.
  • Lux and Palmolive. His personal preference was Lux, but he found that Palmolive had a “nice, piquant after-dinner flavor – heavy, but with a touch of mellow smoothness.”
  • Ralphie’s mother asked him where he heard The Word.