The arrival of Bo-Bo

Tommy Noonan, Christmas 1954
Tommy Noonan, Christmas 1954 Patti Noonan Foley

This is to my father, who made a certain little boy very happy back in 1954. The price was inconsequential — $3.98 or so — but the memory for me has been lasting and therefore priceless.

Fifty-six years ago, I was a very happy little girl who just loved the excitement of Christmas. I particularly remember that Christmas in 1954. I was very worried that my younger brother Tommy was going to be disappointed.

He was six years old then. Being older, I "knew about" Santa Claus. Tommy, on the other hand, was always so sure of "hearing" the reindeer on the roof, and whatever he asked "Santa" for, he usually received.

As I look back, I guess he was a bit spoiled, but he was a good little kid, appreciative and sensitive. He was the kind of kid who always kept us entertained. It seemed that every year he would ask for some hard-to-find toy.

That year he wanted Bo-Bo, an inflatable clown bigger than himself. "Santa" (my dad, of course) had called every store in Connecticut and Massachusetts. It was getting closer and closer to Christmas Eve and still no Bo-Bo. I remember feeling so nervous, but somehow I knew Bo-Bo would be there on Christmas morning.

Sure enough, he was. I can still feel the excitement on that morning. I don't think I realized it then, but I was so happy because Tommy was happy.

For years I never knew how Bo-Bo got there. (And I thought I was so smart!) Later, I learned that our very own "Santa," on a cold, snowy Christmas Eve, had traveled all the way to F.A.O. Schwartz in New York City to get Bo-Bo. In fact, he even bought two, one for Tommy and one for Tommy's best friend, David Rowley, who lived on our street.

That father of mine was a real Santa! He was such a kind and generous man. Making others happy made him happy.

Tommy died prematurely and unexpectedly in November of 1984, and our "Santa" died the following April. Both my father and my brother left many happy memories and, thanks to Kodak, I have some beautiful pictures which I treasure — especially those of Tommy and Bo-Bo standing side by side.

Although Christmas of 1984 was very sad, the memory of that special Christmas 30 years before still makes it easier for me to enjoy one of the most joyous and beautiful times of the year.

Merry Christmas, Tommy. Merry Christmas, Dad.

Tommy (left) and his best friend David Rowley
Tommy (left) and his best friend David Rowley Patti Noonan Foley
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