September 4, 2013 -- Early this morning I finished writing a feature about the classic holiday film A Christmas Story. Hours later the news broke that rapist/kidnapper Ariel Castro had committed suicide in his prison cell. What’s the connection?
Well, the house where Ariel Castro lived—and where he held Amanda Berry, Georgina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight captive for more than a decade—is in the same lower middle class Cleveland neighborhood as the house made famous by Ralphie Parker & family in the 1983 film A Christmas Story. To be more precise, the Castro house (at 2207 Seymour Avenue) was in the same neighborhood; it was demolished last month. But the Castro property is just three-quarters of a mile away—less, as the crow flies—from the house at 3159 W. 11th St., which everyone associates with good humor ... and leg lamps.
As it turns out, the Christmas Story house has a compelling history of its own, which is why I visited the greater Tremont area (a short distance from Cleveland Hopkins International Airport) in mid-July. Long story short, in recent years the place has become quite the tourist attraction, drawing Ralphies—that is, fans of the movie—from all over the world. In fact, owner Brian Jones—who got the bright idea to buy the house after it was offered for sale on eBay in late 2004—has developed an entire complex devoted to A Christmas Story, complete with a stand-alone museum and stand-alone gift shop.
But that’s a story for another time. This November, in fact.