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New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung (Newspaper) - December 25, 1996, New Braunfels, Texas HeraldZeitunq n Wednesday December 25 1996 n 7 A Death for those hard to shop for people By PAULA M STORY Associated Press Writer AP Business is far from dead at the Los Angeles County Coroners office In fact in the last shopping days before Christmas theyve been buried in customers For many Skeletons in the Closet the agencys gift shop is the offbeat and irreverent answer to those lastminute Christmas gifts When youve thought of everything else you come said shopper Emmet Ryan who works for the California Highway Patrol The shop tucked in a small office on the second floor of the coroners office is chockfull of Tshirts hats mugs note pads and beach towels Most like the undertaker boxer shorts bear the County Coroner seal or a chalked body outline The Shop opened in late 1993 selling one or two Tshirt designs and a beach towel About two years later it moved from what marketing director Marilyn Lewis called a closet into a 15by 20foot room About 70 items are on sale including an apron with extra hands and spare ribs and a personalized toe tag key chain for the perennially prepared A lot of people say this is better than A lot of people say this is better than the mall I think at first we had a lot of doubters but people have a curiosity about the Marilyn Lews the said Ms Lewis I think at first we had a lot of doubters but people have a curiosity about the Monday afternoon people filed in and out snatching up items like there was no tomorrow Phillip Bagues a local funeral director who dropped by for a few gifts said he thinks the gift shop is a positive idea This lightens things up a he said is not a bad thing its part of Besides people in Los Angeles are just a bit odd anyway he said and others around the world want to buy a piece of California weirdness So much so in fact that the shop now has a mailorder catalog and exclusive distribution rights to sell coroner memorabilia in Japan The shop is seeing an increase in tourist business and mails merchandise to everywhere from England to Australia to South America Some of the proceeds go to a coroners program aimed at stopping drinking and driving But gift shop sales have been so successful that the office has been able to pay for an extra coroners vehicle and an emergency radio among other things The shop usually grosses between and a month Last year it sold worth of merchandise in December alone And if Monday was any indication this years sales are stacking up too I was really excited to come said Marti Livingston as she rushed out with her new purchases This is almost the last stop Postal Service volunteers trying to answer all Dear Santa letters By DEBORAH HASTINGS The Associated Press AP The letter from the 8 yearold begins like thousands of others Dear Santa I want a computer for Christmas with a But read on I am partially blind and I want to learn all I can because my doctor said that I will lose my sight by the time I be come a teenager My mom cant get us anything for Christmas Because she dosnt have any Another child prints neat block letters on white paper make my Daddy stop Another asks Santa to cure her mothers cancer Confides 8yearold Audrey in a labored cursive hand I need my mom to stop believing that my dad has another woman because when thay fight my heart starts By the tens of thousands they come addressed to Santa in Santa up in the Santa Claus North The Postal Service through its 85 consumer affairs offices around the country tries to answer every one Often volunteers who contact local post offices try to fulfill some of the childrens Christmas wishes In Southern California at a massive distribution center an hours drive north of Los Angeles Stacia Crane is surrounded by overflowing bins of mail addressed to Santa Claus She manages the consumer affairs office for the Van Nuys district which stretches north more than 200 miles Her regular job is handling complaints At Christmas she and Looma FOR A QUALITY WOOD STOVE Patio Ham large election of wood stoves Qtiadraflrc Rarth Stove Waterford Our itaff if trained to answer your questions and show you the stove that best fits your needs INSTALLATION AVAILABLE FREE DELIVERY ON ANY STOVE Gas Logs Tool Sets Screens Gifts PATIO HAUS Austin NewBraunfelt San Antonio 2631111 606D95J 4925559 Winter Sale Savings On All Merchandise December 26 January 18 173 South New 5raunfels Texas 21O 6292414 1O 6 Moa Fri 1O 4 Saturday 1 KrystolKids Birthstohe Charms Buy 3 or More Gift Certificates Receive 5 Off Buy 5 or More Gift Certificates Receive 10 Off JHerry Christmas RETREAT 6200615 A V A DAY SPA J 225 S Segum Ave colleagues across the country start reading Santas letters This season alone will bring letters she estimates Crane and her twomember staff place the most poignant in a box marked The contents are heartbreaking They are also full of hope Not only children believe in Santa Claus In broken misspelled English a Hispanic mother of two in Massachusetts writes Pleses help me I need toys and closes for my grils I do not have a home and 1 only get social security of She addresses her letter Santa Claus North Pole and for some reason scribbles a California zip code on the envelope A softhearted woman with no family Crane works 12hour days straight through Christmas Eve answering letters organizing volunteers and delivering gifts Ask her why she docs this and her eyes fill with tears These kids really believe They deserve to have somebody get back to In the needy box writers ask for food for shoes for gifts for everyone in their family except themselves for jobs for their parents and for an end to abuse Theyre just she says blinking hard They shouldnt have these Postal employees and volunteers have been known to take boxes of food and gifts place them on a letter writers doorstep ring the bell then run We watched from around the corner as they opened the Crane said We want them to think Santa brought Facilities engineer Mike Scisson takes home letters that have phone numbers on them Then he calls and pretends hes Santa Claus Does he get paid overtime Oh heavens lie says I wouldnt want Since 1912 post offices have been authorized to open mail addressed to Santa Claus and to answer such letters and enlist volunteers to help the writers Eight years ago the job of answering Santas mail was given to the new consumer affairs department Previously individual post offices and letter carriers answered what they could The rest ended up in the dead mail department At first we werent vciy good at Crane admits LOWKST PRICKS OFTHK YEAR SAVE Talk About Great Deals SPECIALITY UOIIT1QUE SAVE 30channel scanner tunes ISIOAA weather instantly reg Requires 4 AA batteries or AC or DC adapter 49 HALF PRICE Full legal power CB walkietalkie reg Requires 8 AA alkaline or 10 AA rechargeable batteries or AC or DC adapter 9999 SAVE Our smallest micro recorder reg Requires 2 AA batteries or AC or DC adapter 8 HALF PRICE Talking alarm watch tells you the time reg 17 40 OFF thermometer with jumbo display reg 163869 Requires AAA battery 69 OFF Portable CD player with dual headphone jacks reg Requires 2 AA batteries or AC or DC adapter 69 SAVE Car stereo with 30 presets and autoreverse cassette reg 19 33 OFF 14 40 OFF Personal radio plays cassettes too reg 0141207 Requires 2 AA batteries portabl reg Requires 4 C batteries or AC or DC adapter 999 33 OFF Pocketsize 8range multitester reg K22218 Requires AA battery 6 30 OFF Phone directory and calculator reg H65944 19 HALF PRICE Personal organizer and scheduler recj reg 79 99 W43I015 PRICE 10channel spacesaving upright cordless 1 39 99 HALF PR ICE Cordless with 10 channels and super clarity reg 17 40 OFF Compact phone with speed dialing rey While Almond Hunter Green 27 60 OFF Lightweight headset phone recj 29 HALF PRICE Caller ID display with memory eg RadioShack Youve got questions Weve got Prices good through Prices apply at participating RadioShack stores and dealers Items not available at a participating store can be specialoidired subject to availability at the advertised puce A participating store will offer a comparable value if the product is sold out Independent RadioShack dealers and franchisees may not be participating in this ad or stock or specialorder every item advertised
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