Chipmunks

In 1958  a novelty record featured three singing anthropomorphic chipmunks. Within three weeks of being released The Chipmunk Song had sold over 2.5 million copies, making it the fastest selling record of 1958. It hit #1 on December 22, 1958, and stayed there for 4 weeks. This is the last Christmas song to hit #1 in the US. A remixed version of this song returned to the American Hot 100 in the first chart of 2008 after a gap of 45 years, thanks to the box office success of the film Alvin And The Chipmunks.

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The song was written and produced by Ross Bagdasarian. The inspiration came to him from his youngest son, Adam, who in September would regularly ask if it was Christmas yet. He figured if his son was asking that question, other kids probably were too.

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Bagdasarian, whose stage name was David Seville, performed all the voices of the group by speeding up the playback to create high-pitched voices. That process resulted in two Grammy Awards for engineering. After his death in 1972, the characters’ voices were performed by his son Ross Bagdasarian, Jr and Ross. Jr.’s wife, Janice Karman, in the subsequent incarnations of the 1980s and 1990s.

The singing chipmunks were mischievous leader Alvin, brainy Simon, and chubby, impressionable Theodore- all named after the executives of their original record label. The trio is managed by their human adoptive father, David (Dave) Seville. The characters became a success, and the singing Chipmunks and their manager were given life in several animated cartoon productions and films.

I have had the privilege of having my grandchildren (and their parents) visiting with us for over two months as they transition from living in Asia to their next destination in southern Spain. We have spent a good bit of time visiting and eating meals on our patio and looking out on the beautifully landscaped back yard created by my wife.

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We have enjoyed the cardinals, finches, doves, and other birds as they play and sing in the tree and around the feeders. As we have watched the birds I have observed that Alvin, Simon, and Theodore also live in our back yard. At least the chipmunks that scurry around look a lot like them.

These cute little creatures scamper around and scavenge for food everywhere. They are a joy to watch most of the time.

The birds are attracted by the feeders that we have placed in our yard and a couple of years ago I discovered bird feeders that stymied the squirrels. They finally gave up on their efforts to rob the birds of their food but last week I discovered that the chipmunks have found a way.

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As I sat on the patio the birds were fluttering all over and feasting on the food I had provided. The chipmunks were playfully chasing each other along the ground and eating the seeds that the birds dropped. Simon, Theodore, ALVIN! One of them had climbed onto the bird feeder and was hanging upside down in such a way that his weight did not close the feeding openings. He was enjoying the safflower seeds until I yelled at him and he scurried away.

After a few times of scaring “Alvin” away when he tried to eat the bird’s food, I decided to leave him alone. After all what he ate was a small price for the enjoyment he and his friends provided as they entertained us with their playfulness. I am happy to have the chipmunks and I am willing to pay the price.

A lot of life is that way but often I forget that the good times come with a price.

Jamie Jenkins

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