Santa Worries About Money, Too

Roger Franklin, on the job.

Roger Franklin, on the job. Caitlin Kenney/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Caitlin Kenney/NPR

We've been asking all kinds of people some basic questions about money.

Earlier entries in the series include conversations with the guy from Belle & Sebastian and a chemistry grad student who grew up poor. Here's the whole series.

Today, we hear from Roger Franklin, one of New York's longest-serving Santas. Franklin, who is 84 years old, has been entertaining children at New York City's South Street Seaport for the last 22 years.

We caught up with Franklin right after "Storytime with Santa" at the Seaport.

Do you worry about money?

If I said I don't, I wouldn't be truthful. But at least the hours when I’m here with these kids I don’t think about those things.

How did you get started as Santa?

There was an ad that the Seaport was looking for a Father Christmas and I answered it. Twenty-two years later (laughs) ...

You're still here.


Were you an actor at the time?


Do you still act?

Oh, yes. I do a lot of voice stuff.

Why have you kept doing Santa for 22 years?

Every year before I start for the season, I don’t sleep at all because I think, "How can I live up to the press? How can I live up to the children, what they think of me?" The next morning, I go out on the Seaport and a little child says "Santa," and it’s all back. That's what it’s all about.

How does being Santa pay compared to other jobs you’ve had?

It’s very nice. But this year there was a cutback. I used to have six days a week and now it’s just two. But then I thought to myself, with my health and everything, it’s just as well.

Anything you are saving up money for right now?

That I’m able to pay my rent on the Upper West Side. (Laughs.)

Would you consider yourself a spender or a saver?

It’s easy to answer that one. I would say a saver because I was born in 1926 and that was a time with all the problems and everything. A lot of the children now and adults don’t realize what we went through. My mother went out and worked. She knit things for the Red Cross and things like that.

Do you have a Mrs. Claus?

No, she's gone now.

When your wife was alive, who was the saver in the relationship?

I think we were both savers. We were in the same era, and you don’t forget that. The other day I saw something I would like to buy and I thought, "I’m going to get that." In my head a little voice was saying, "Oh no, you can’t afford this."

What was it?

It was a CD player.

Do you remember how much it was?


Did you buy it?

Yes. (Laughs.) It was on sale.

Are you happy with it?

I love it.

Note: This is a condensed version of our conversation.



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