A real life ‘Christmas Story:’ Woman remembers living in historic home

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NORTH OLMSTED, OH -- It was 72 years ago when a North Olmsted woman called the "A Christmas Story" house her home.

Each year, the holiday classic reminds her of the life she spent living there during World War II.

In the film, the house on W. 11th Street in Cleveland was home to Ralphie and the Parker family, but in real life, 83-year-old Helen Spakes lived there in the 1940s.

"That was the best time that I had in the house was at Christmas time,"said Skapes.

When "A Christmas Story" was being filmed back in 1983, Helen went down to the set and even got to take a picture with the actor Peter Billingsley who played Ralphie.

"I've seen the inside since they remodeled it and it's completely different. It used to be a two-family house, I should say. And now, they made it just into a one."

Each year when the movie is aired, members of the Skapes family stop what they are doing to watch it. They say it's become a family tradition.

"Yea, every year we watch it, I mean, everyone knows about the re-runs that they play on certain television channels now, but ever since I can remember, we would watch it several times every year and have always known that she lived there, so it was really cool for us," said Derek Skapes, Helen’s grandson.

"I look for different things to bring back my memory. The backyard is not the same so that's what I look for in the movie. I know the story so well, but it's still a joy, isn't it?" said Helen Skapes.

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