Christmas 1947 in New York, New York, had its Miracle on 34th Street. But for my brother John and me, exactly ten years later, Christmas 1957 in Hamden, Connecticut, had its miracle on Giles Street.
It started when something I would never have believed possible occurred: Instead of my brother John and I waking our father up on Christmas morning, he woke us up. Then, before we could even get out of bed, he gave each of us the strangest possible gift, a teeny ball of string. And it wasn’t even all wrapped up. Groggily I got out of bed to wrap up the rest but realized it went all the way across my room and out the door.
My father called after me, “Promise me that, no matter what, you won’t look up from that string till you find its end.”
“I promise,” said I, with no idea what I was in for.
I tottered along the upstairs hallway, wrapping the string up as I went. The teeny ball was getting bigger. I heard my older brother John up ahead of me somewhere, wondering where the end of his string was, but I didn’t look up.
The string I was following led into the spare room. Ah, thought I, it must end with something that’s hidden in here! But no. I followed the string over boxes and under old furniture and around a cracked mirror, but then it lead me back out of the room. The teeny ball I kept adding to, as I rewound the string I was following onto it, wasn’t at all teeny any more.
As I followed my string down the stairs, I realized without even looking up that the whole house had been festooned with string like cobwebs. John and I were crawling under and over everything from the furniture to the dog to each other.
Finally we arrived in the living room where I followed the instructions exactly but John looked up just before he got to the end of his string. I heard his sharp gasp of surprise. Then my hand came to the end of my string, against what seemed like an oddly opaque window, slightly green. Looking up at last, I saw that the window had a large picture-like frame, but it wasn’t anywhere near an outside wall of the house. Instead it was part of a huge, boxlike piece of blonde-wood furniture.
Our father turned it on. The Lone Ranger called, “Hi-Yo, Silver!” as his white horse reared before galloping across that green-tinted window. It was our first TV.