Alton Telegraph (Newspaper) - December 25, 1999, Alton, Illinois
Cross beacon of hope to travelers
By ANDE YAKSTIS
Telegraph staff writer
HAMEL — The illuminated cross on St. Paul’s Lutheran Church is a beacon of light for weary Christmas travelers in the night along busy U.S. Route 55.
“The cross has been a light of hope for many years to truckers and people who drive through the night along the interstate highway,” said the Rev. William Weedon, pastor of the historic St. Paul’s Lutheran Church at Hamel.
Lonely travelers see the cross shining bright above a lighted Christmas Nativity scene of the baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph on
the lawn of the church, which faces the well-traveled highway.
Truckers blow their horns and flash the headlights when they see the familiar cross on the front of the majestic brick church.
Drivers from across the country send notes, letters and e-mail to the congregation to say that the cross is a “beacon of light” to them on their lonely trips along the highway on a cold winter’s night.
“We found a note stuck in the church door from a traveler along Route 55,” Weedon said. “The driver said the lighted cross was a reminder that the Lord was with them on their
See CROSS, Page A7
Bulletin Board .
Vol. 164, No. 344 - 50 cents _Saturday, December 25, 1999 _www.thetelegraph.corn
Wadlow grew to new heights
Alton was home to Gentle Giant
Christmases like this. This is so amazing. I think I’m going to cry again,” she said.
She cried several times the day the family moved into the house. It was the weekend before Christmas. A crew still was at work laying carpet as furniture and bicycles and a computer were brought inside the home.
Deshotel took one look at the computer and burst into tears. She ran upstairs to compose herself.
The computer was donated by Anne, who lives in Godfrey. When she learned about the Deshotel family’s hardships, she wanted to help.
“My kids have so much. I really did this for the kids. It just makes us feel good to do this,” she said.
The computer has several educational programs for different age groups. Deshotel’s children range in age from 2 to ll. The computer will be set up in the dining room so she
I See MIRACLE, Page A7
By DAVE WHALEY
Telegraph staff writer
ALTON — To most of the country, Feb. 22 is George Washington’s birthday. To 4l|on, it’s the birthday of a local giant.
RoDert Pershing Wadlow \yjs born here in 1918 and grew up here. Unlike others, His “growing up” took on a greater meaning. When he entered kinder-garten at the age of 5, he was as tall as his teacher. At age IO, he . was 6 feet, 5
inches tall and weighed 210 pgfiBflg.
13, he was the largest Boy Scout in the world ai f foot 4. By the time of his cteflth, at age 22 in 1940, Wadlow had reached 8 feet, IXJ inches — the tallest person in recorded history.
Though it wasn’t easy, Wadlow tried his best to remain a normal young man. He was advertising manager of the Tatter, the Alton High School yearbook, before graduating in 1936. He then enrolled at Shurtleff College in Upper Alton, where he planned to study law.
• But life could hardly be normal for the son of Harold
■ See WADLOW, Page A7
I mHMMoM*I IMQMMW
The Telegraph By the time of his death at age 22 in 1940, Robert Wadlow had reached 8 feet, 11.1 inches — the tallest person in recorded history and likely to remain so.
Top religious leaders visited area
St. Louis welcomed Graham, Pope John
By KATHLEEN HILL
Assistant city editor
ALTON — Slightly more than a month ago, Sonia Deshotel had told her six children there would be no family Christmas this year.
She didn’t see how it could happen. The family was living in an Alton shelter. She had lost her job and her home in Louisiana. A planned living arrangement with a family member in Collinsville ended badly.
“I told them Santa just would not be able to do it,” Deshotel said.
That was before she met Joe Morales, the members of the Alton Mexican Club and all the generous people who created the Christmas miracle on Central Avenue.
A few days before Christmas, Deshotel had a house. She had a job. And the children had presents wedged
L' . _ . , The Teiegraph/MARGiE m. barnes under and around and behind
□arian Deshotel, 2, stands on a stepladder to admire the family Christmas tree. His sister Tabitha Deshotel, 3, center, and the tree,
family friend Ashley Sanders, 8, right, look up at the tree. Ashley is the granddaughter of Joe and Linda Morales. “They don’t haveCentral Avenue!
Santa Claus, Mexican Club gift wrap new home for mother, six children
Evangelist Billy Graham and Pope John Paul ll made appearances in St. Louis this year.
also is likely never to return.
The pope’s visit came with forewarnings of massive traffic tie-ups for mites around the St. Louis area, with the possibility of snow further complicating things. However, after some snow and ice in the first part of January, the weather was almost spring-like for the pope’s visit Jan. 26-27, and the traffic jams never materialized.
President Clinton greeted the pope on his arrival Tuesday afternoon at Lambert-St. Louis
International Airport. The pope then greeted 20,000 people — mostly youths — at a Kiel Center rally the first night of his visit.
“The energy level was inspiring,” said Jeff Galligan,
■ See LEADERS, Page A7
By DAVE WHALEY
Telegraph staff writer
St. Louis became a common dateline in religious news all over the globe in 1999 as two of the most famous religious figures in the world visited the area.
In late January, Pope John Paul II
spent two days in St. Louis. It
was the pontiff’s first visit to the United States since 1993. At the age of 78, he might not make a return trip to this country and will almost certainly never return to this area.
In October, the Rev. Billy Graham came to St. Louis for four days. The Billy Graham Crusade made the Trans World Dome its final stop of the 20th century from Oct. 14-17. Graham, who has preached God’s word for more than 50 years in front of 210 million people in 185 countries, turned 81 in November. Since it had been 26 years since his previous St. Louis appearance, he