At the end of “White Christmas” (1954), the first few flakes of long-awaited and hoped for snow finally fall. No sooner have Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye spied the snowflakes floating down like a benediction on this Vermont soundstage, er, landscape, that a sleigh cruises by. Bing and Danny cheerily wave and shout to the driver, but neither wonders how a sleigh can move on what must have been only an eighth of an inch of snow. Yet, we hear no scraping of the metal runners on the road, no clawing of clumps of dirt in the drive. This is because it is snowing, and when it snows in New England, New Englanders ride in sleighs. Ayuh.
In “Holiday Inn” (1942), Bing’s other New England country hotel outing, Marjorie Reynolds arrives at Holiday Inn in a sleigh. This is because it is winter, and Holiday Inn is in Connecticut. This sleigh happens to be a taxi. In New England, taxis in the winter are sleighs. How do I know? The movies tell me so.
In “Christmas in Connecticut” (1945), Barbara Stanwyck arrives at her fiancé’s Connecticut home by sleigh, again a taxi. Again, there is only about an eighth of an inch of snow on the ground. In a little while Dennis Morgan arrives by sleigh, and a little while after that, Sydney Greenstreet arrives, also by sleigh. Later on when Miss Stanwyck and Mr. Morgan, who have taken a liking to each other, sneak away from a party at the local town hall to be alone, they naturally go for a sleigh ride. This is New England. In winter, we ride in sleighs, got it? There is one conveniently parked by all the automobiles. They ignore the cars and steal the sleigh. They get arrested for sleigh-knapping, which is a serious offense in these parts.
Being a New Englander myself, I can vouch for the veracity of this sentimental Hollywood version of New England. If I had a nickel for every sleigh I see driving around in the winter on city streets, I’d be a millionaire. Not just city traffic, mind, but the interstate highways are veritably clogged with them. Driving those horses like gosh all hemlock, not signaling when they change lanes. Sweet Betsy from Pike, it’s maddening.
You think summertime traffic coming off Cape Cod at the end of a weekend is rough? Try coasting over the Bourne Bridge in a sleigh in the wintertime, only to find yourself behind a line of sleighs ahead of you as far as the eye can see. You think Route 1 from Connecticut to Maine is bumper to bumper in the summer? Try it in December, my friend. You’ll be huddling under your buffalo robe in your sleigh, moodily sipping from your flask and becoming more foul-mouthed by the minute as you wait in traffic. But the movies never show that ugly part, do they? No, they go for pure fantasy.
That’s all for this week. Have a nice weekend. See you Monday. I’m off to wax my runners.