Welcome to Jingle Jangle Christmas and Mr. Bingle!

Mr. Bingle in 1915

Mr. Bingle by George Barr McCutcheon
(Ashleigh Austin's Personal Collection)
Click thumbnails for full-size photos

Mr. Bingle
by George Barr McCutcheon
Illustrated by James Montgomery Flagg
Copyright 1915 by Dodd, Mead and Company
New York

Mr. Bingle by George Barr McCutcheon
Mr. Bingle at his bookkeeping desk at the bank

Naming Maison Blanche's "Mr. Bingle" - a Connection?

By Ashleigh Austin
September 20, 2002

"Jingle, Jangle, Jingle, here comes Mr. Bingle...
with another message from Kris Kringle.
Time to launch the Christmas Season,
Maison Blanche makes Christmas pleasin.'
Gifts galore for you to see,
each a gem from... MB."

As the story goes, Herbert Schwartz President of Maison Blanche chose the name for their new, little holly-winged Christmas mascot for several reasons. The name Mr. Bingle rhymed with Kris Kringle, thus giving it a "holiday ring;" and the initials were that of the landmark department store that had graced Canal Street since 1897. The rest is history --- Mr. Bingle lived at his Maison Blanche "Home" for 50 years until 1998. Was there actually more behind the inspiration for which Schwartz donned the name "Mr. Bingle" upon Santa's little helper? It's very possible. . .

Interestingly, 33 years before Mr. Bingle made his first appearance at Maison Blanche in New Orleans, George Barr McCutcheon's Christmas novel Mr. Bingle was published in 1915 by Dodd, Mead and Company. An accomplished, best-selling author in his day and better known for his numerous romance novels such as Graustark (1901) and Jane Cable (1906), as well as Brewster's Millions (1903) for which six movies have been made, McCutcheon (1866-1928) already had 25 novels to his credit before he wrote Mr. Bingle (1915.) He wrote a total of 42 novels before his death in 1928. Twenty-five of his novels were made into silent films or movies, and McCutcheon was listed in Who was Who in America in 1929.

McCutcheon's Mr. Bingle, with its underlying theme of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol throughout, is the story of Mr. and Mrs. Bingle, a childless couple who take less fortunate children into their modest New York apartment every Christmas Eve and provide dinner and gifts for them. Before dinner and gift time, however, Mr. Bingle performs his yearly ritual by reading Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol as the children sit patiently, yet eager to get on with the Christmas festivities. It was Mr. Bingle's belief that Dickens' classic, A Christmas Carol, helped to teach children good qualities as well as the real meaning of giving. Here are a couple of excerpts from McCutcheon's Mr. Bingle pages 3-5:

"It was Christmas Eve. There were signs of the season in every corner of the plain but cosy little sitting-room. Mistletoe hung from the chandelier; gay bunting and strands of gold and silver tinsel draped the bookcase and the writing desk; holly and myrtle covered the wall brackets, and red tissue paper shaded all of the electric globes; big candles and little candles flickered on the mantelpiece, and some were red and some were white and yet others were green and blue with paint that Mr. Bingle had applied with earnest though artless disregard for subsequent odours; packages done up in white with red ribbon, neatly double-bowed, formed a significant centrepiece for the ornate mahogany library table --- and one who did not know the Bingles would have looked about in quest of small fry with popping, covetous eyes and sleekly brushed hair. The alluring scent of gaudily painted toys pervaded the Christmas atmosphere, quite offsetting the hint of steam from more fortunate depths, and one could sniff the odour of freshly buttered popcorn. All these signs spoke of children and the proximity of Kris Kringle, and yet there were no little Bingles, nor had there ever been so much as one!"

" . . . No Christmas Eve was allowed to go by without the presence of alien offspring about their fire-lit hearth, and no strange little kiddie ever left for his own bed without treasuring in his soul the belief that he had see Santa Claus at last --- had been kissed by him, too --- albeit the plain-faced, wistful little man with the funny bald-spot was in no sense up to the preconceived opinions of what the roly-poly, white-whiskered, red-cheeked annual visitor from Lapland ought to be in order to make dreams come true."

In his novel, McCutcheon's Mr. Bingle character was in the real sense Santa's helper, as was our beloved Maison Blanche Mr. Bingle since 1948. Did George Barr McCutcheon's 1915 book inspire Herbert Schwartz? We will never know for certain. However, we can be sure Mr. Bingle still lives in the hearts of those who will always remember him, as well as for those who choose to never allow
"The Spirit of Mr. Bingle" to fade.

Copyright © September 2002
by Ashleigh Austin

My original theory above was featured in the 2006 WYES-TV PBS
New Orleans documentary "Christmas in New Orleans," as well as
in Peggy Scott Laborde's book,
Canal Street: New Orleans' Great Wide Way (2006)

Click thumbnail to view full size

"Christmas in New Orleans"
WYES-TV PBS documentary DVD
(Ashleigh Austin's Personal Collection)


Christmas in New Orleans (2009)
My theory is also featured in Peggy Laborde's
latest book above.

You may visit Peggy's site at the link below for more about
Canal Street: New Orleans' Great Wide Way
Christmas in New Orleans

Click Here for Peggy Scott Laborde


Mr. Bingle 1915 continued on next page . . .

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