Monte’s A Christmas Story

December 14, 2009

In some ways, Monte was very similar to the character Darren McGavin played in the classic movie, “A Christmas Story.”  He was one of those people always looking to find a good deal or make a good bet.

One night, while in a tavern then known as the “9/24 Club, ” Monte came across a gentleman selling sets of kitchen knives.  This particular set of knives consisted of an attractive, decorative boxed set of knives. This display case even came with a hidden drawer of steak knives.  The little side, pull out drawer of steak knives was the “piece de resistance” of the whole set.

(On a side note, the 9/24 Club has an interesting history of its own.  This tavern is now known as McDuck’s and is located in Banner, IL.  It’s former name was what it was due to its location – the junction of Route 9 and Route 24.  During this era, the configuration of this junction was quite hazardous and vehicular traffic coming down the Route 9 “Banner Hill” would have to stop at a stop sign where the two roads met.  Unfortunately, for the 9/24 Club, this stop sign was directly across the junction from the tavern.  So any time a vehicle, most likely a semi-tractor trailer, came down Banner Hill with failing breaks or during icy roads, the possibility existed for the truck to continue through the intersection and right into the 9/24 Club.  This establishment was struck by vehicles any where from three to five times.  After one truck barreled into the tavern, Cotton Upchurch ended up with the gear shift to the truck.  This shifter was then hung on a pillar inside of the tavern with a number on it to designate which truck it had been.

The intersection has since been changed to allow traffic coming down Banner Hill to continue east without stopping.)

While assisted with a fair amount of good spirits, Monte bought this “attractive” knife set and then later on showed it off to anyone he felt should be enraptured to see it.  Eventually, Monte gave this to one of his family members for a Christmas gift.  Oddly, the first recipient did not have the same appeal toward this knife set Monte had first felt.  This was even after Monte pulled out the hidden steak knife drawer.

Eventually, each year, this terribly cheap knife set was passed from family member to family member as a family joke.  Because this knife set was seen as such a hoax during each Ellis family Christmas, other family members that were fortunate enough not to receive it were required to kick a dollar into the till to lessen the blow to the poor recipient who would receive this gift the following Christmas.

For a long time, the most sought after question in the Ellis family was of which family member would be the one to receive the “knife set” during Christmas.

Each year, the distinctive size of the knife set would be disguised in the most ingenious of ways to add to the surprise of who would receive such an unwanted gift.

This grand surprise went on for many years.  Sadly, some family members did not appreciate the uniqueness of this gift and eventually assisted in its demise.

It is unknown where this knife set now exists or who was the last Ellis member to receive it.

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