HEY, kiddies, you sure were fooled if you fell for that...

salmagundi

January 03, 1995

HEY, kiddies, you sure were fooled if you fell for that old saw that Santa Claus comes from North Pole.

"Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. But his story begins in southern Turkey where warm sea breezes blow, and not, as you believe, in the north," The Turkish Times reported recently.

According to that publication Santa Claus -- or St. Nicholas, as he was called -- was born in the village of Myra in Turkey. He was said to have been pale and lean -- quite unlike the modern image of Santa.

St. Nicholas was known for his kindness and became archbishop of Myra. A church was built in his honor and still exists in town. St. Nicholas reportedly died Dec. 6 in 343.

According to the Turkish paper, St. Nicholas' fame spread to Northern Europe after Russian leader Vladimir was baptized in Constantinople and returned home with tales of Nicholas.

From there, Nicholas' fame spread to the Lapps and the people who use reindeer sleds.

So now you know.

* * *

AS might be expected, late-night talk show hosts haven't been able to resist commenting on President Clinton's firing of U.S. Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders for her comment that masturbation might be a worthy topic of discussion in American schools.

Jay Leno of NBC's "Tonight Show" noted, "Today, Joycelyn Elders performed her last official act as Surgeon General. She pardoned Pee-Wee Herman! Nice to see that happen."

Conan O'Brien of NBC's "Late Night" observed, "After being fired for advocating masturbation, Joycelyn Elders is going back to Arkansas to teach. Reportedly, her class is already filled with teen-age boys."

And this from David Letterman of CBS' "Late Show": "If you missed President Clinton's [Dec. 15] speech, let me give you a quick summation: It was the political equivalent of what Jocelyn Elders said should be taught in school."

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