Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Santa's Busy Busy

I stopped at an estate sale last night on my way home.  It was an odd Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday sale.  It was the end of the second day, so there wasn't much left, but I did pick this up for a quarter.

It's typical of coloring and activity books of the 50's through the 70's.  In fact, I recognized the interior artwork right away.  The same artists illustrated a Christmas coloring book I have from my childhood.  The artists were Bonnie and Bill Rutherford.  There's very little about them on the internet. In fact, all I could find was Bill's obituary.  This husband and wife team illustrated a multitude of children's books.  Similarly, the cover artis, Florence Sarah Winship was also a prolific children's book illustrator, but very little can be found about her.  I know her work best from the Whitman Tell-a-Tale book "The Night Before Christmas".  And yes, Santa's suit and hat are fuzzy.

Anyway, let's get into the book.  It's a fairly thick book, so I had some difficulty scanner the entire page.  I've transcribed the text where needed.

Right from the get-go, the coloring prospects aren't looking good.

"At times the fire went out"

Then how do you explain the elf with scalded hands and face?

I never used a white crayon when I was a kid.  I thought it was a waste of time, the paper was already white.  Oh, how wrong I was.

You gotta admire a kid whose only coloring on this page was the word "Red" in red.

The elves are keeping babies prisoner

Okay, they're actually living dolls that cry.  Which is creepier?

Thanks, Mr. Whiskers.  Is this the puzzle for the dumb kids? Match 2 sets of twins up?  Not really much of a challenge.

Have fun finding all of the toys, Jimmy.  Oh, and be careful.  I hid my gun in here too and I don't remember where.

Mr. Whiskers offers a maze that's only slightly more challenging.  Slightly.

"And in the tiniest room there's a wondeful sight":

A clown baby from Hell.

"But I'll tell you a secret! What Santa doesn't know, 'Cause I didn't say."

When he's out on Christmas Eve, Mrs. Claus and I will play.

I think we've all felt flustered like Dad here with the box of tangled Christmas lights.  However, few of us wear lipstick while doing it.

Seriously.  What is wrong with this kid.  A black tree?

"Green Icing"

Blue face.

Wow, Yellow Grandma is emanating a black hatred that engulfs her granddaughter.

"Peter Popped Corn"

"Peter Popped Corn".  
How much corn did Peter's popper pop?

I always wanted to know how to make those cutout snowflakes.  Thanks Mr. Whiskers!

It looks like Dad shops for Christmas trees at that same lot Charlie Brown and Linus go to.  Why does he have an evil smirk on his face?

"For Pammy"

Yes, I'm sure she'll just love the clown doll.  What she really wants is a paint set.

"A Toy for a Boy"
Oh... Sorry Pammy.

Not sure what this has to do with Christmas, but okay.

Some activities for you

 "Santa Waves Good-by"

And finally Santa is off.

"Down the Chimney" 

"A Bone for Bumps"

Man does Santa love him some gingerbread cookies and egg nog.

"A peek at Peter and Pammy"


Santa feeds the reindeer broken Christmas tree branches.

Ooo-ooo-ooo!  Someone colored my face black! 

Whoops.  Looks like mom forgot to water the tree again.  You know, I just realized: there isn't one green tree in this whole book.  Messed up kid.

Word of advice, Mom.  If you plan on creeping down the steps, leave the high heels behind.

Everyone opens their presents.

"A Real Drum" 

"A New Doll" 

"A Pretty Apron" 
Second only to the vacuum cleaner in the gift giving world is the apron.  However, it looks quite sheer.  Maybe Dad is planning some cooking in the bedroom instead of the kitchen.

Mom repays him with gloves.

"A Christmas Puppy!"

Yay!  A new puppy!  Oh, um, hi Bumps... Yes, we still love you Bumps.  Wow, this is awkward.

You gotta respect an era that had no qualms about putting tobacco imagery in children's coloring books.

Santa has drunk so much spiked egg nog, he's blitzened out of his mind and can't find his way home.  Won't you help?

His long ride over, Santa arrives back at the North Pole and discovers Einstein was right: if you travel faster than the speed of light, time will go backward.  Either that or Santa's been dipping into the Grecian Formula.

And finally, Santa and I both leave you with a Christmas Wish.  Solve the puzzle to find out what it is.


  1. i approve everything about this. you may scorn the owner's coloring choices, but if s/he was of our generation, then clearly s/he was a cynical gen-xer from the start, scoffing at traditional notions of dictums like lines and "normal" color choices, and also relished pushing the color barrier by putting grandma and (i assume) grandpa in a mixed-race marriage while it was still in the shadow of the unrest of the 60s. BRAVO, brave child, i say!

    i'll grant you that the Rutherfords were clearly putting some subtext in with their sheer apron + leather glove imagery, and the creeper/peeper santa looking in on the kids is a bit.... unsettling. (don't get me started on "a bone for Bumps...")

    all in all, a solid find! i would love to know where the kid who owned this is today.

    1. The book was published in 1957, so it's more likely the colorist was a boomer who grew up to be one of those radical hippie types...or a serial killer. I found the book at the estate sale of a pair of spinster sisters who would have been too old to have been the original owner of the book. Perhaps a niece. I


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