Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - December 24, 1971, Lethbridge, Alberta
Former Resident Gives a Town a Taste of Its Own Kind of Good Will Chrislma by DAMON RUNYON pHRISTMAS is coming Vj around once more, and it always reminds mo of what good limes wo have at such a season of the year back in my old home town out West. It also reminds me of the Christmas that Swede Sam Sudenbcrg has the big Christmas tree and celebra- tion in Union Park, and gives Christmas presents to all the little, boys and girls of my old hnme tov.'ir, there being many such, both male and female. In fact, statistics prove that there are more little boys and girls in my old home town in those days than any other town west of the Mississippi, propor- tionately to population. It is a matter of which all our citizens are very proud in- deed, and is mentioned to everybody who visits our town. This Swede Sam Suden- berg who gives the Christ- mas tree and celebration to the little boys and girls is a big squarehead who is run out of my old home town by Marshal Dillon a year before, because all Sam does is to hang out around saloons, and drink beer, and whiskey, and keep himself drunked up at all times. Naturally nobody wishes to see such a character around my old home town, and Marshal Dillon not only run Swede off, but gives him a good booting down the railroad track to make Swede Sam understand he "The park is jammed with children, pleasured up over the idea of receiving presents from Santa Claus." is not wanted. SAM GOES UP into the Cripple Creek district, and the next thing anybody knows he strikes it rich. He is wandering around the hills drunk one day and falls into an old prospect hole, and what does he find in this hole but a pay streak which is overlooked by the guy who iirst digs the hole. Sam comes back to my old home town with plenty of dough, and naturally everybody forgets what a no-account proposition he is when he is there before. A no-account guy without money, and a no account guy with plenty of it, are two different matters in my old home town and every- where else. Well, it is along about Christmas when Swede Sam returns, and he says he wishes to 'put on a big Christmas tree and celebra- Well, of course, a lot of nice things are said about Swede, and what a credit he is to the community, which, of course, he is nothing of the kind, and then out comes old Bill Hemming made up as San- ta with whiskers and one thing and another, and starts to hand out "the pres- ents. Old Bill is one of pa's :r< the days when Sam is .ng around the saloons, but he makes a first rate Santa. IT SEEMS the bicycles go to the little girls, every lit- "Nobody is safe in the streets. They are sure to be knocked over by little girls on bicycles." tion because he always loves the little boys and girls of my old home town, and also is very proud of my old home town having so many little boys and girls, both male and female. NOW THIS DOES NOT SOUND like sense to a lot of people who know Swede Sam well, and know it is not like him to be loving anybody or anything, or being proud of anything, but' as long as he has the dough to pay the bills for his celebration, nobody can see any objection. In fact, many of our citizens are in favor of it, figuring it will save them money in Santa Claus. So Swede Sam sends -10 into the hills and h.-.- biggest pine tree in whole country cut do.', n and put up in Union Park. Then he goes to Denver and buys Christinas presents for the little boys and girls, though what these presents are, nobody knows until the V night of the doings. i-.f" V '-i The tree is certainly a pretty sight standing there in. Union Park, all lighted up with electric lights, and decorated with glass balls, and one thing and another, and at the foot of the tree- are stacks of long bundles and a whole slew of bi- cycles. There are hundreds of long bundles and mm-' dreds of the bicycles which anybody can see are girls' bicycles. The park is jammed with little boys and girls, pulling and hauling, and much pleasured up over the idea of- receiving presents from Santa Claus. Furthermore, all their parents are there, figuring maybe Santa may have something left over for them. OLD SWEDE SAM: cer- tainly does the thing up right. He has McClclland's Silver Cornel Band there and also the choir from the First Methodist Church to do some singing, and Preacher Hathaway to say a sermon, and Dr. T. Han- nibal Wilcox to -make a speech, although of course, Dr. T. Hannibal Wilcox is nobody but old Doc Wilcox. makes him sore at us, be- cause by this time of day, there is not a pigeon and very few canary birds left in town, and cats and dogs are running every which way screeching and howl- ing like the dickens, with bullets from these ,22-cali- bre rifles zinging at them. EVERY WINDOW LIGHT in town is busted; and no- body is safe in the public streets, because if they do not get hit by stray bullets, they arc sure to be knocked over by little girls learning to ride bicycles. It is one of the terrible situations that ever comes up back in irr.- uid home town out It found like the Fourth of July in the as tome rji the little boys are tliere is some comment on Sam's choice of presents it sounds like the Fourth of July." hands, including the par- ent.-, and then the celebra- tion cnmes to an end with everybody giving three cheer.-; lor Swede Sam. Well, of course, there is some comment on Sam's choice nf presents, because some of the little boys who pet, the rifles are only two or three years old. and some of the girls who get the bi- cycles are not much older, but everybody figures it shows Sam's heart is in the right -place, anyway. But by r.oon the next day, one and all realize that Sam picks thc.-e presents out on purpo.-.u, and they can see what a terrible man he is at Furthermore, every- body in my old home lown is very sorry Marshal Dil- lon runs Swede off, and .playing Indians with their rifles, and other little boys arc playing cowboys, and everywhere you hear the voices of little female chil- dren crying because they tumble off their bicycles. Well, the members of the city council get together as soon as possible and pass an ordinance forbidding .22- calibre rifles, or bicycles, in the city limits, but by this time the damage is so great that they also add another ordinance forbidding public Christmas trees, or Swede Sam Sudenberg within the county lines for a period of ten years. But the chances are Swede Sam Sudenberg does not care, because nobody ever sees him near my old home town again. Nature Takes a Wintry Bough to Show the Life Yet to Come IN COLDER CLIMES, the December days are gray; eve- ning comes early and dawn is late. Nature appears to have come lo a .standstill. It is no wonder that green is a color of symbol of elernal life amid the deso- lation of winter, a promise of life to come. Terlullian, a Christian convert and ecclesiaslical writer of Carthage in the second century, advised: "Let those who have no Light burn their lamps daily. Let those who face the fire of hell affix laurels to their corner-posts. You are a light of the world, a tree ever green." But the laurels with other greens were soon accepted decorations in home and church. Although most of the greens of winter have their roots in pagan festivals, their use was really more natural than pagan. With the coming of Christianity, they fitted naturally into the celebration of the Feast of the Lord's Nativity. parasite were believed to be compelled to lay down their arms and keep a day-long truce. As such a token of good will, mistletoe evolved into a symbol of true love. Watch those kisses. tACREL (BAY) TRIUMPH is symbolized by laurel and is applied to Jesus for his victory over sin and death. This is not mountain laurel that grows extensively in the United States and which has leaves sometimes poisonous, but rather a plant close to the aromatic bay family. Used in Britain for Christmas decoration, laurel did not. come to America with other English customs. It was rather Irish immi- grants who brought the plant for use, mainly for the Advent wreath. HOSEStAKY "THERE'S rosemary, that's for says Ophelia in Shakespeare's Strangely enough, this low shrub of the mint family has almost been forgotten as a Christ- mas decoration. Legend has it that Mary spread Jesus' garments over a rosemary patch lo dry while on the trip to Egypt, and since then, the shrub has had its pleasing fra- grance. Prose and poetry mentioned rosemary from 1300 to the mid-1800s, and that is usually where it now- spends the holidays in literature. MISTLETOE THE DRUIDP held mistle- toe to he sacred in Britain, believing it had healing powers, made poisons harm- less, and brought great blessings and good luck. Enemies who passed the HOLLY OF ALL greens, holly fits most easily into the Christ- mas festival with its white flowers to represent Mary's purity, red berries for Jesus' blood, and thorns for the crown to come. Holly is believed to bring good luck to men, and is called the "he" of greenery. ivy THE OPPOSITE of holly is the ivy, badge of the wine god, Bacchus. Holly repre- sents the home; ivy the inn. It is also the symbol of hu- man weakness clinging to Divine strength. Ivy is also considered to bring luck to women. rOINSETTIA. THE STAR of Bethlehem is seen in the flowers of the poinsettia, brought from. Mexico to South Carolina by Dr. Joel Poinsett, U.S. ambassador to Mexico in the mid 1800s. The plant flourished and has become an American contribution to the greens of the holiday. Mexicans believe that a young boy, going to Mass on Christmas Eve, cried be- cause he had no gift for the Lord. At the church, he touched a shrub and it sprang into blossom. He then had the poinsettia, the most magnificent gift of all to offer. On9 Donder and Blitzem; In Toys! TVTHEN SANTA opens his VV pack on Christmas Eve, he will have an extra gift for the toys. A determined campaign by the Food and Drug Administration, and. the cooperation of the Toy Manufacturers of America has resulted in many pos- sibly dangerous toys being' taken off the market. Just a few days before Christmas, 1970, the FDA banned 39 toys, the first ban under the Toy Safely Act that had been made law a year earlier. Targets of the ban were rattles (hat could break or had parts that could be swallowed, dolls or stuffed animals with sharp metal pieces in- side them, noiscmakers and balloons with parts that couid be swallowed or in- haled, dart toys with sharp edges, and caps or guns with a noise level above 138 deci- bels. Manufacturers were told of the ban and were expected to notify retailers to remove the offenders from the shelves. All this gives the prospec- tive toy buyer perhaps a false sense of security. One likes to feel that the toy given for Christmas will not have the child laid up for New Year's but facts about safety must be considered. Maybe the feeling is one of: "They don't make them the way they used to." That's true and false. Toys may not be as solid, but in some ways they are more dependable. That old wooden rocking horse of days of yore was also likely to tip easily. Years ago, doll heads shattered, and that was a trauma for parent, child and doll. Today, course, there is The Child Can't Be Insulated but Playthings Are Different the question of what a child wants for Christmas. An estimalcd one million in- juries annually from bicy- cles arc complicated by Ihe popular higher handlebars, considered a must among pre-teens who object to having "everybody laugh at me because I have i o n c d handlebars." Hold firm. Slowly but surely, safety engineering is be- coming an integral [.art of toy designing. What measures can tin- toy buyer take'.' The Nation- al Safety Council and the- Toy Manufacturers Associa- tion agree with other orga- nizations on a few points. First, a toy should be chosen in keeping with the child'.; ago and ability. less than three years -old should not be giv- en playthings with small remnvahle parts. Second, look for toys that will not shatter or break rasily. Avoid things with sharp that might cut if one child snatches the toy from tin; hands of another. Savr the pointed tools, rherr.islry sets, bows and until the child j; a! least right and old enough lo understand that they r.m br dangerous. KIiTlric.il plug-in toys .hnuU only be considered fur responsible child and where adult supervision Toys of the 3800s were sturdy and simple, but they also liad their hazards. is available. The toys should have U. L. (Underwriters Laboratory) seals indicat- ing electrical safety in de- sign and manufacture. Speaking as president of the manufacturers, associa- tion, Fred F. Erll Jr. has pledged lo intensify the drive to eliminate "all hid- den but he warned that "we can't elim- inate all accidents, some of occur because oi mis- use." Kids will be kids and will fight over, throw and gen- erally abuse toys, but this year, Santa has more than" elves to help him make things safer. Di.slribulcjd by Kinjt Features Syndicate.