I know Joyce Kilmer’s wonderful poem ends with, “Poems are made by fools like me, but only God can make a tree,” but this morning I was remembering how one day I made what might have been the world’s first talking Christmas tree. In 1973 our Santa Train was a huge success for Grand Trunk Western Railroad and so I was fishing for an idea that would add some special fun for children visiting the train. I looked around my cluttered office for inspiration and saw a speaker I wasn’t using. I put on my jacket and headed for the Salvation Army Retail Store where I picked up a small used artificial Christmas tree with a stand.
The Santa Train by Art Fettig – Kindle Edition available from Amazon.com
Then I stopped at the drug store and bought a roll of cotton. I rushed back to my office and put the speaker on the floor, covered it with a bed of cotton and then found a lavaliere mike I wasn’t using and clipped it to the tree. I hooked it all up with an amp. When we set it up on the first coach of the Santa Train tree we ran lines to a small room at the back of the gutted coach not far from the tree. We had a two way speaker system and Mrs. Burdakin and the other ladies would take turns being the voice of the tree. Thousands visited our Santa Train each year and kids loved that talking tree. I was amply rewarded with all those smiles and the laughter.