Thursday, December 31, 2009

My "I Love Lucy" Moment~New Years Eve 1983

I have many fond New Year's Eve party memories, but I am choosing to write about one funny one, my Lucy Ricardo moment. The date was January 31, 1983, the place was the Franklin House in New Village, New Jersey.

My sister Ruth Ann was tending bar that night, and I was attending the party. I can't remember what I wore as a dress that night, but we always got all decked out in our finest on New Years Eve. The icing on the cake, my haute couture fashion statement was my late Great Aunt Rees full length Fitch fur coat. It was so luxurious, however it was not kept in proper storage for over thirty years so the pelts were pealing off.

Uncle Bill gave it to me as I was the best fit for the coat, being of a similar body type as Great Aunt Ree. He and my brother Buddy took the coat to Flemington Furs to be repaired. The expert furrier there had said that it would be much to costly to repair it. He also said that if it had been kept in proper storage, it would have been worth over ten thousand dollars.

In my eye it was much too gorgeous to go to waste, so I thought that if I glued all of the curled up pelts down, it would be fine for at least one night. So I set out to do just that. I painstakingly glued each pelt down, and it looked wonderful.

I made my grand entrance into the Franklin House that evening feeling like a queen or at least a glamorous movie star. I spent the next few hours dancing, eating great food, and making merry with all my friends and relatives.

Thank goodness that I had to wait for Ruth Ann to get off of work, after all the patrons had left, because I went to put the coat on and all of the pelts had curled back up, and were popping out all over the place.

We all laughed, and it was most definitely my "I Love Lucy" moment!

Happy New Year and may all your dreams come true in 2010!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

I See My Savior Face To Face

My book, My Ominous Adventures At True Blue Farm, The Secret Behind The Mirror is centered around two very important people who greatly influenced my life, my godparents. Irene Marie Eck Lattig was my Godmother.

The following is an excerpt from the book: As I close my eyes and picture my wonderful Aunt Ree I see a heavyset woman with soft rounded features. Her hair was gray and parted on the side, a bobbed cut with finger waves on her forehead. She always used Palmolive soap and Jergens Lotion and her skin was soft, with slightly rosy cheeks and never a wrinkle. Her eyes were of a transparent blue and she had a cleft type scar on her bottom lip that gave her lips a certain attractiveness like a mole on the cheek does for some women. As a young lady she resembled the Hollywood actress Jean Harlow who was known as the original blond bombshell.

When I was little she had the perfect grandmother look. When we would go outside in the summer she wore a big straw hat and a tea length cotton flowered dress covered with a pinafore apron, which also was of a flowery pattern. Although she never bore children of her own, she sure knew how to make kids happy and holy.

During each visit to her house you heard a sermon daily. You were taught scripture from the Bible and you always said your prayers. On one occasion I can remember her telling us a story about how she had been shopping at a grocery store when a boy was caught shoplifting. She pulled the store manager aside and paid for the item the boy stole and she then proceeded to preach the wages of sin, and the gospel of Jesus Christ and forgiveness to the boy. I’d like to think that she led that boy straight down the path of salvation that day.

She was not only our Great Aunt but she was also the God Mother of each of my mother’s children. She took her responsibility seriously as her faith in God and her Pennsylvania Dutch Lutheran roots influenced her devotion to spreading the gospel to all she met.

Yes, there is no doubt that she had a profound influence on my life, and so did her sudden passing.

On Christmas Eve 1978, she had baked her famous Busy Day Cake, and was reaching into the cellar way for a can of condensed milk on a shelf.* She lost her footing and fell down the cellar steps. She was 77 years old at the time of her fall. She managed to make it back up the steps and into bed.

Christmas morning her leg was terribly swollen and bruised. My brother Buddy went up to see her, and called the squad. She was taken to Warren Hospital. I went to visit her that Christmas day and brought her a small gift, a porcelain child on a sled. I did not know that it would be the last time would see her alive.

On December 30th while I was working as a barber at the Palmer Park Barber Shop, I received a phone call from my sister Ruth Ann telling me that Aunt Ree, our God Mother had passed away. Apparently, she had a pulmonary embolism.

While helping Uncle Bill prepare for an auction sale I found a daily devotional book in her desk, and on the thirtieth of December there was a poem, that ended with these words; "A few more rolling suns, at most, will land me on fair Canaan's coast, then I shall sing the song of grace, and see my Savior face to face." Prepare to meet thy God. Amos 4: 12

*At her wake Uncle Bill served the mourners the cake Aunt Ree had baked on Christmas Eve. She wanted the condensed milk to make an icing. My sister-in-law Joan made an icing for the cake. I tried a piece and I couldn't swallow it, knowing that it was the reason for her falling. It just stuck like a lump in my throat
. I have posted the recipe here on blogspot, on August 1, 2009.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Making Memories

I have adequately recovered from all of the preparation and merriment of our traditional Christmas celebration, and look to this last week of the year 2009 with a thankful heart. On Thursday, I plan to re-cap my "Year Of Miracles".

Today I am going to feature a short slide show that I had created a few years ago. This slide is a compilation of some of the little simple things that help me cope with day to day stress, and to enjoy the beauty of God's creation. I hope you enjoy it!

Thursday, December 24, 2009


May you all have a most blessed Christmas, filled with people you love, delicious food, the laughter of children, and those who still have childhood in their hearts, remembering that HE came to give us the most precious gift of all, Everlasting Life in HIS name.

Christmas is forever, not for just one day,
for loving, sharing, giving, are not to put away
like bells and lights and tinsel, in some box upon a shelf.
The good you do for others is good you do yourself...
~Norman Wesley Brooks, "Let Every Day Be Christmas," 1976


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Walps Wednesday~The Final Installment

Wiener Schnitzel
Yield 4-6 servings
2 lbs Veal Steak

2 Eggs, beaten

1/2 C. milk

1/2 tsp salt

1/8 tsp ground black pepper

1 C. Dry Bread Crumbs

1/2 C. Frying Shortening

1/2 lemon

2 tsps. chopped parsley

Cut the veak into serving size pieces.

Mix the beaten egg with the milk, salt, and black pepper. Dip the veal into the milk mixture, and then into the bread crumbs. Heat shortening, place the veal in t pan, brown quickly, turn down the heat, and simmer, covered. After about 5 minutes, uncover, turn the veil and cover. Repeat this process until veal is cooked and tender. Sprinkle with lemon juice and parsley and serve.

German Sauerbraten

2 c. cider vinegar
4 bay leaves
4 whole cloves
12 peppercorns
1 tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 c. water
4 lb. beef roast, heel of round
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
12 crushed ginger snaps (3/4 cup)

Heat vinegar, water, spices, sugar and salt to boiling. Use large enough bowl, so liquid almost covers the meat. Pour over sliced onions and allow to stand until cool. Stir in oil. Pour marinade over roast. Allow to stand in refrigerator 5 days, turning meat once a day so it will marinade evenly (use wooden spoons preferably). Save marinade to use for gravy.

Remove meat from marinade and pat dry. Dredge with half the flour. Brown on all sides in hot shortening in a Dutch oven. Place rack under meat and add all of marinade. Cover meat tightly and simmer or bake in oven 350 degrees for 3 to 4 hours or until meat is fork tender. Remove to hot platter.

Add all of the remaining marinade to the Dutch oven, bring to boil, and stir in the crushed ginger snaps, thickening to delicious sauerbraten gravy.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Soul Felt It's Worth

O Holy Night

O holy night, the stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Savior's birth;
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Till He appeared and the soul felt it's worth.
A thrill of hope the weary soul rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn;

Fall on your knees, Oh hear the angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born!
O night divine, O holy night, O night divine.

Led by the light of Faith serenely beaming
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand
So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming
Here come the wise men from Orient land
The King of Kings lay thus in lowly manger
In all our trials born to be our friend.

Fall on your knees, Oh hear the angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born!
O night divine, O holy night, O night divine.
written by Adolphe Adam in 1847

Christmas Reading

Christmas Reading; This can be read in one hour, and is best read as a family.

The Christmas Box by Richard Paul Evans.

If you do not like to read it is also out in VHS and DVD as a movie, and the movie is excellent, and did not stray from the book. It stars Richard Thomas who formerly played John Boy Walton on The Waltons television show, and Maureen O'Hara

A Visit from Saint Nicholas
    by Clement Clarke Moore
’Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that Saint Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her ’kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled down for a long winter’s nap;

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be Saint Nick.

More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:
“Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on Cupid! on, Donder and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys, and Saint Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney Saint Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

His eyes — how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook, when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself.
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!”

Luke2: 1-14

2:1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.

2:2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)

2:3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

2:4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)

2:5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

2:6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

2:7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

2:8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

2:9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

2:10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

2:11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

2:12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

2:13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

2:14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Rod McKuen has many lovely Christmas Poems: Click Here

My Favorite Christmas Movies

One Magic Christmas


Holiday Inn

White Christmas

Trapped In Paradise

Mr. Magoos Christmas Carol

The Christmas Gift

Foxfire "A Hallmark Hall Of Fame Movie with John Denver, Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn"

A Season For Miracles

A Christmas Cottage

The Bishops Wife

Santa Claus The Movie (Dudley Moore)

Movies That Have Scenes Surrounding Christmas

On Moonlight Bay

Meet Me In St. Louis

It's A Wonderful Life, Miracle On 34th Street, The Bells Of St. Marys, and Little Women

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Happy Childhood Memory, The Ingersoll Rand Christmas Party

If you lived in the Phillipsburg, New Jersey area from 1950-1990 or so, you most likely had a relative or friend who worked for Ingersoll Rand. In our family my brother Buddy, my sister Ruth Ann, and I had worked for I.R.

I think it would be fair to say that it would be hard to find a kid who had not attended the Ingersoll Rand Christmas Party that was held every year. I can remember attending my first party when it was held at the former Hillcrest Club which had been in Delaware Park before it burned down on March 9, 1966. After the demise of the Hillcrest Club, the party was held in the Gym of Phillipsburg High School.

The Saturday on which it was held, the entire gym was transformed into a Christmas Wonderland. The bleachers were packed full with excited children who were filled with the spirit of the wonder of the season.

First there was always a show that was made up of performing dogs, who could dance and jump through hoops of fire. Then there was a magician, and when my girls were little that magician/ventriloquist was the extremely entertaining Linda Holliday who was actually Linda Cotugna a Phillipsburg alumni.

After the entertainment all of the children join in on a sing along of Christmas carols and songs, which usually ended with Jingle Bells or Santa Claus Is Coming To Town, with a request to sing it louder and louder...then Santa arrived.

While all the children filed out of the gym, Santa, or one of his elves handed each child a Christmas decorated shopping bag filled with a toy, and orange, apple, animal crackers, and hard candy.

It is so heart warming to write about this event, as it has brought back all those wonderful inner feelings of being in that moment. It was an experience that I have shared with my siblings, friends, and even my children, and their friends.

Ingersoll Rand is no longer the force it had been in Phillipsburg, I am not sure, but I think it is totally gone. There hasn't been a Christmas party for many years. It is a sad day that this tradition in Phillipsburg no longer exists for our grandchildren, as it is such a wonderful memory.

In Alpha we also loved to attend the John Dolak American Legion Christmas Party. They also gave the best gifts, and their bag of goodies included chocolate candy. That too is now just a memory.

If you had attended this party, please leave a comment below with your memory.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Downtown Christmas Shopping, When I Was Young

So today, many of you may already be finished with your Christmas shopping, but quite a few of you are out shopping as I write this. I heard on the news last night that PennDot was worried that Christmas shoppers would jam up traffic as we are expected to get quite a bit of snow today. Those of you south of us have already felt the trepidation of traveling out on icy snow covered roads doing your shopping.

My daughter Jamiann has purchased the majority of her Christmas gifts online. She avoided the hazards of driving, crowded stores, and the unhealthy quick bites to eat at fast food restaurants on the ride home.

I have discovered that the older I get the more I hate shopping of any kind. Because I have spinal column injuries, walking and standing are quite painful, and money has been tight. I ordered a few gifts online, and my husband got the majority at Cabela's last week. I still have a few to get, and I am waiting for those last minute sales.

Nothing can ever compare to my memories of shopping with my mother on South Main Street in Phillipsburg, NJ, downtown Easton, PA, and even the Hillcrest Mall. I will first address my memories of Twin City, and the South Main Five and Dime.

When I was about six years old Mom took me along to Twin City which was situated on South Main Street between Tyndall Avenue and Hudson Street on the left side going up South Main from Union Square on the left. In later years George Penyak ran a store in the same building called the Lucky Penny.

That year, 1957 I wanted a Tiny Tears doll for Christmas. I can remember my mom whispering to the sales lady and her responding, "We sold the last one yesterday." I just knew she was talking about a Tiny Tears doll. Well, I did get a doll that wet, and cried, that year but it wasn't the real Tiny Tears, it was the reasonable facsimile. Coming from a family of five kids, with a stay at home mom, most of our toys were just that or hand me downs. We all shared one sled, and one bike. One year mom got me the baseball, and Irene the bat. We had to get along with each other in order to play a game. Our mother should have gotten the Nobel Peace Prize that year.

My other favorite store on South Main in Phillipsburg or P'Burg to most of the locals, was the South Main Five and Dime. This store sat on the corner of Stockton and South Main right across from St. Phillips and St. James Roman Catholic Church. The store had those creaky wooden floors, and isles and isles of display tables filled with everything from home decorations and cloths, to hardware items, and toys. It also held a candy, and cookie section, which was sold by the pound . Mom always bought windmill cookies, chocolate covered wafer cookies, and horehound candies.  Horehound candies, yucky, awful horehound candies, all of us kids hated them. Just like the stinky Limburger cheese she bought for New Year's Eve those horehounds were meant for adult consumption only. I so loved the little rubber cars, trucks, and balls that were sold there for a dime! They were blue, or pink, and the cars had silhouettes of people molded into the side windows. They also sold those plastic naked dolls with the open and close eyes, and wavy hair. The kind of doll that ended up with a crepe paper or crocheted dress and was placed on the hood of wedding cars, along with Kleenex roses.

On Christmas Day 1954 my cousin Carol gave my sister Irene and I crocheted pocket books that were made using those dolls, and the dress part doubled as a pouch, hence the pocket book. I can vividly picture her giving them to us and I was only four years old. I sure wish my short term memory was as good as my long term memory.

There were other stores on South Main Street where mom had shopped, Stoney's Dept. Store, Harold's Shoe Store, Bob Piscello's Italian Market, New York Italian Bakery, and The Food Basket. On one occasion Mom and I went shopping at the South Main Five and Dime. We drove there in our dad's 1959 green Ford pickup truck. After we were done shopping, we headed across S. Main where we were parked in front of the Catholic Church Rectory. We got into the truck, pulled out onto S. Main and were heading back to Alpha.  As we traversed down S.Main, I spied a radio in the dashboard, and questioned mom as to when dad put a radio in the truck. Mom screamed, "Oh no, we are in the wrong truck!" She then nervously turned down McKean Street to Sitgreaves and headed back in the direction from which we came. We had to pass the former city hall, and police station, to end up on the right side of S. Main, hoping the same parking space was available, and that the truck's owner had not discovered that their truck was missing. Well, we made it, and there was our truck parked about three spaces down the street.

I have a few favorite memories of Christmas shopping in downtown Easton with Northampton Street all decked out in its finest of Christmas decorations, and a Salvation Army member in complete uniform, ringing a bell by the kettle, and sometimes playing a Carole on a horn.

On one shopping trip with my mother while shopping in Pomeroy's/Laubach's Dept. Store Mom bought me a really nice green hooded car coat, and a stuffed chimpanzee that looked like Chatter the popular TV show personality. In recalling that trip, I have this feeling of pride and joy when I think of those two gifts, that were not at all a surprise from Santa that year, 1960.

During the Christmas shopping season of 1967, Mom, asked me to do some of her shopping for her. I was sixteen, with a list in hand, a purse filled with money, my sister Ruth Ann, and friends Cynthia and Celia, and I boarded the Transbridge bus from the adjacent corner of our family store, The Alpha Luncheonette, and headed off to downtown Easton.

I can't remember all of the gifts I purchased from that list, but I do remember some. One gift was for my sister Irene and it was Bing Crosby and the Andrew Sister's Christmas Album, and I found it at Woolworth's on the corner of Northampton Street and Center Square. I also got a couple of flannel shirts from Woolworth's, and some Christmas decorations. Then there was the Surprise Store where I got some plaid flannel night gowns, white cotton underwear, and cotton stockings that were for Great Aunt Ree. My mother was always practical, and socks, nightgowns, and underwear were always considered the best Christmas gift anyone could give. The other stores where we shopped were, Green's Dept. store that had the " tubular money containers" that traveled above our heads from the registers to the store office, John's bargain store, the forerunner to the Dollar Tree, Lerner's Shop, and The Caramel Corn Shop. At Christmas time we always bought clear toy, barley sugar candies there, if Dad hadn't already gotten them from the Nazareth Farmer's Market and Auction.

No trip to Easton was complete without eating in either the My Place Lunch, the Woolworth's lunch counter, the Easton Sweet Shop, or the Deluxe Restaurant. Our friend Georgia worked at the later for many years, as it was owned by her Aunt Olga and Uncle Pete. So, it was always nice to see her there along with her cousins Lillian and Dino.

I can remember stopping by our dear friend Sam's apartment on Northampton Street in Easton, and convincing him to come home with us for Christmas. At that time Sam was about 68 years old, living alone, and sad as his mother had passed away on Christmas Eve many years earlier.

His name was Samuel Stewart Jones, and he was a vaudeville drummer, turned house painter. He also sold Christmas trees, and fruit for a farmer who befriended him, in Center Square at the farm market that used to be set up in the middle of the square.

He was a friend of our family, since my Uncle Dick introduced him to us after meeting him in the army. We all loved him like a family member, a grandfather like figure. If you have read my book, the character Sam is one in the same. Christmas 1968, he bought not only my sisters and I gifts, but he also bought our friends gifts too. Christmas at our house was more complete when Sam was there.

Another of my favorite Christmas shopping adventures was Christmas Eve shopping at Harold's Auction House in West Portal, NJ. It was the same year, 1968 when my sister Irene bought our brother David a snow mobile race set, with a track molded into snow mounds. It was a really neat thing, and we all played with it. Harold's auction was an exciting place on Christmas Eve with bargains galore. It still exists today as Dave's Family Auction, http://www.davesauction.com. I am not positive but I do believe that Dave had been related to Harold, and was a partner with him back in the day.

Once the malls became a popular place to shop, downtown Easton and Phillipsburg, slowly began to fail, and one store after another closed their doors. It was a sad day for all of us. We started shopping at Woolworth's in the Hillcrest Mall, Fashion Bug, Thrift Drug, and the Orrs Dept. Store. My girls have fond memories of eating at the Hillcrest Mall Woolworth's lunch counter. One thing was for sure we always had this huge box of Ann Page Chocolates, our mother bought at the Hillcrest Mall A and P every Christmas.  Sooner or later Mom would open the box only to be angry that many of the chocolates were smashed in on top, by our prying little fingers trying to discover what flavor it was before placing a yucky maple cream in our mouths. Today, I love maple cream chocolates, but back then chocolate covered cherries were my favorite.

I for one really miss the experience of shopping in a downtown atmosphere. The last time I did have the experience was in 1998 when Jamiann and I went shopping on a bus trip to NYC with former fellow employees of the Warren County Welfare Board. Now that is a really fun way to go shopping in a downtown atmosphere. We walked from one end of Fifth Avenue to the other. I had to buy Jamiann a pair of sneakers while there, as she opted to wear fashionable boots against my warnings. The window decorations are fabulous, and it is really easy to get into the spirit on this kind of shopping adventure. I would recommend it to anyone who can handle the walking, or in a motorized chair.

I have seen that the "Shopping Mall" trend has now switched from the indoor malls to the new huge "Strip Malls" with the big anchor stores like Walmart, Target, and Lowes. The Sear's Catalog Wish Book is now online, and the Salvation Army no longer wear uniforms, and play instruments while ringing their bell by the kettle.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Annie and Willie's Prayer, One of my favorite Christmas Poems

Written by Sophia Snow

Twas the eve before Christmas, good night had been said,
And Annie and Willie had crept into bed.
There were tears on their pillows, and tears in their eyes,
And each little bosom was heaving with sighs,
For tonight their stern father's command had been given
That they should retire precisely at seven
Instead of at eight--for they troubled him more
With questions unheard of than ever before.

He had told them he thought this delusion a sin,
No such creature as "Santa Claus", ever had been
And he hoped, after this, he would never more hear
How he scrambled down chimneys with presents each year.
And this was the reason that two little heads
so restlessly tossed on their soft, downy beds.

Eight, nine and the clock on the steeple tolled ten,
Not a word had been spoken by either till then.
When Willie's sad face from the blanket did peep,
And whispered, "Dear Annie, is you fast asleep?"
Why no, brother Willie," a sweet voice replies,
"I've long tried in vain, but I can't shut my eyes,
For somehow it makes me so sorry because
Dear Papa has said that there is no "Santa Claus."
"Now we know that there is, and it can't be denied,
For he came every year before Mama died.

But, then, I've been thinking that she used to pray,
And God would hear everything Mama would say,
And maybe she asked him to send Santa Claus here
With that sackful of presents he brought every year."
"Well,why can't we pray just as Mama did then,
And ask God to send him with presents again?"
"I've been thinking so to," and without a word more
Four little bare feet bounded out on the floor,
And four little knees the soft carpet pressed,
And two tiny hands were clasped close to each breast.

"Now, Willie, you know we must firmly believe
That the presents we ask for we're sure to receive:
You must wait very still till I say the 'Amen,'
And by that you will know that your turn has come then."
"Dear Jesus, look down on my brother and me,
And grant us the favor we are asking of thee.
I want a wax dolly, a tea set, and ring,
And an ebony work box that shuts with a spring.
Bless Papa, dear Jesus, and cause him to see
That Santa Claus loves us as much as does he,
Don't let him get fretful and angry again
At dear brother Willie and Annie, Amen"

"Please Jesus, let Santa Claus come down tonight,
and bring us some presents before it is light,
I want he should div' me a nice little sled,
With bright shinin' runners, and all painted red;
A box full of candy, a book and a toy,
and then, dear Jesus, I'll be a good boy.Amen"

Eight, nine and the little French clock had struck ten,
Ere the father had thought of his children again.
He seems now to hear Annie's half suppressed sighs,
And to see the big tears stand in Willie's blue eyes.
"I was harsh with my darlings," he mentally said,
"And should not have sent them so early to bed,
But then I was troubled, my feelings found vent,
For bank stock today has gone down ten percent.

But of course they've forgotten their troubles ere this,
And that I denied then the trice asked for kiss,
But, just to make sure, I'll go up to their door,
For I never spoke harshly to my darlings before."
So saying, he softly ascended the stairs,
And arrived at the door to hear both of their prayers.
His Annie's "Bless Papa" drew forth the big tears,
And Willie's grave promise fell sweet on his ears.
"Strange-strange-I'd forgotten," said he with a sigh,
"How I longed when a child, to have Christmas draw nigh."
"I'll atone for my harshness" he inwardly said,
"By answering their prayers ere I sleep in my bed."
Then he turned to the stairs and softly went down,
Threw off velvet slippers and silk dressing gown,
Donned hat, coat and boots, and was out in the street,
A millionaire facing the cold, driving sleet!

Nor stopped he until he bought everything
From the box full of candy to the tiny gold ring.
Indeed, he kept adding so much to his store,
That the various presents outnumbered a score.
Then homeward he turned, with his holiday load,
With Aunt Mary's help, in the nursery was stowed.
Miss Dolly was seated beneath a pine tree,
By the side of a table spread out for her tea.
A work box well fitted in the center was laid,
And on it the ring for which Annie had prayed.
A soldier in uniform stood by a sled
"With bright shinning runners and all painted red."
There were balls, dogs, and horses books pleasing to see,
And birds of all colors were perched in the tree!
While Santa Claus, laughing, stood at the top,
as if getting ready more presents to drop.

As the fond father the picture surveyed,
He thought for his trouble he had amply been paid,
And he said to himself, as he brushed off a tear,
"I'm happier tonight than I've been in a year.
I've enjoyed more pure pleasure than ever before,
What care I if bank stocks fall ten per cent more.
Hereafter, I'll make it a rule, I believe
To have Santa Claus visit us each Christmas Eve."

So thinking, he gently extinguished the light,
And tripping down stairs, retired for the night.
As soon as the beams of the bright morning sun
Put the darkness to flight, and the stars one by one,
Four little blue eyes out of sleep opened wide,
And at the same moment the presents espied,
They out of their bed they sprang with a bound,
And the very gifts prayed for were all of them found.

They laughed and they cried, in their innocent glee,
And shouted for Papa to come quick and see
What presents Old Santa Claus brought in the night
Just the things that they wanted and left before light.
"And now," added Annie, in a voice soft and low,
"You'll believe there's a 'Santa Claus', Papa I know."

While dear little Willie climbed up on his knee.
Determined no secret between them should be,
And told him soft whispers how Annie had said
That their dear, blessed Mama, so long ago dead,
Used to kneel down by the side of her chair,
And that God up in heaven had answered her prayers.

"Then we dot up and prayed dust well as we could,
And God answered our prayers,now wasn't he good?"
"I should say that he was, if he sent you all these,
And knew just what presents my children would please.
"Well, well, let him think so, the dear little elf,
it would be cruel to tell him I did it myself."

Blind father! Who caused your stern heart to relent,
and the hasty words spoken so soon to repent?
Twas the being who bade you to steal softly upstairs,
and made you his agent to answer their prayers.

Walp's Wednesday~Moravian Brown Cookies

On November 29, 1998 Walp's Restaurant closed. The property was sold to the Rite Aid Drug Company. It was an emotional event for the entire family, the employees, and the many patrons, but after 62 years of serving the Lehigh Valley, the time had come to pass another Lehigh Valley landmark into the annals of history.

My daughter Jamiann and I had dinner at Walps on November 15, 1998 just two weeks before it's doors were closed forever. The elderly waitress who tended our table told us that the owners were finding it very hard to find reliable help, they wanted to retire, and there was no one in the family who was interested in keeping the restaurant going. It was certainly a sad day for the Lehigh Valley, and travelers passing through.

The owners had the good sense to publish a cookbook to pass on it's many wonderful recipes, which include a great deal of Pennsylvania Dutch delectables.

For the next few weeks up until December 23, 2009 I will be posting recipes from this cookbook.

Moravian Brown Cookies

1 c light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 c butter
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground clove

1 tsp ground white pepper

1/2 tsp dry mustard

1 tsp ginger

5 cups flour, divided

1 egg well beaten

1 cup molasses, slightly warm

1 tsp baking soda dissolved in
1/4 cup hot water

Cream brown sugar with butter together. Sift together baking powder, salt, spices, and 1 cup flour into a mixing bowl. Work sugar-butter mixture into flour mixture, add beaten egg and warm molasses. Stir hot water and baking soda into mixture. Stir in 4 cups sifted flour a little at a time. Chill in the refrigerator over night. Roll out very thin on a lightly floured board. (or parchment paper) Cut out with cookie cutters. Bake on a lightly greased cookie sheet in a 325 degree oven about 15 min. until lightly browned. Suggestions: If desired, pierce with a darning needle when they are removed from the oven so they may be threaded with yarn or string to hang on the Christmas tree. Cookies may also be iced with colored frosting and decorated with chopped nuts, dried fruits or colored sprinkles.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

One Wonderful Christmas

My memories of visits with Great Aunt Ree and Uncle Bill on Christmas are filled with the images of a Norman Rockwell painting. A trip to their farm on the mountain just above Martins Creek, PA was just like riding through a Currier and Ives Christmas Card. Traveling along the Delaware River, and then crisscrossing Martins Creek, while driving down Creek Road, and up Rasely Hill Road through the small secluded wooded valley blanketed with fluffy white snow was a wondrous sight on Christmas Day.

Upon arrival we were greeted by the smell of the wood burning stove in the big room, combined with the scent of a roasting turkey and a freshly cut cedar tree decorated with antique German family heirloom blown glass ornaments.

The laughing eyes, and the sparkling gold tooth in the welcoming smile of Great Uncle Bill met us at the side porch door. He was wearing a red and black plaid flannel shirt, and overalls held up with a pair of suspenders. Right behind him was Great Aunt Ree whose soft round features, azure blue eyes, and silky silver hair completely defined her as the perfect grandmother image.

Great Aunt Ree and Uncle Bill were our God parents, and she took her responsibility seriously, and preached a sermon at each visit. She was devoted to her faith, and loved to quote the Bible. The true meaning of Christmas was defined by her deep love for Christ, and shared with all who came into her home.

They always seemed to be delighted to see us, and made us feel so special to be there in their warm cozy farmhouse. It was the most perfect setting for a family to gather on Christmas Day. When I first saw The Waltons on television I experienced an immediate connection to their extended family Christmas gathering.

Each year Uncle Bill would cut down a fresh cedar tree from their farm. Each of the ornaments were very old and passed down through generations of the Eck/Hinkle family. On the top was an angel with a composition face. Underneath the tree in the putz was a family of bears, a fuzzy Santa in a sleigh, and another Santa standing there with his pack on his back. I so loved standing near their tree and staring at them. I still love looking at antique decorations.

We always knew what our gift from them would be before we even opened it. Aunt Ree always bought us flannel night gowns from Woolworth's. We made a fuss, and thanked them for such a great gift that would keep us warm on cold winter nights.

Our entire family sat down to dinner around a large pink table, surrounded by pink chairs. After we finished eating everyone sat around the same table and talked. I can remember the lighting to be dim, and the room was toasty warm from the wood burning stove. The feeling of love and acceptance permeated the atmosphere of that quaint, comfortable room of that pleasantly peaceful farmhouse.

Soon, Dad would announce that it was time to start our journey back to Phillipsburg, NJ. We gathered all our things together and kissed them good-bye. During the winter months they always stood at the side porch door waving good-bye. I have this vivid image of their wonderfully loving faces, while they stood there in the doorway.

I praise God that I have these memories, I have inherited the bear family, Santas, and few of the blown glass ornaments. When I place them out for the Christmas season, they are a tangible connection to those wonderful memories.

If I could have one Christmas wish come true, it would be to have all those same participants gather in that same big room for one more wonderful Christmas together.

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Grand Finale Of My Favorite Christmas Cookie Recipes

Night Before Christmas Mice

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring not even a mouse.

3 cups of all purpose flour

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup unsalted butter softened

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 large egg

Sm. bag almond slivers

10 feet of black licorice laces
6 ounces of semisweet chocolate melted and kept slightly warm.

Whisk flour and salt together in a small bowl. In large bowl beat butter until creamy, gradually add sugar and beat until fluffy, add vanilla and egg, then beat. Mix in about a third of the flour at low speed. Gradually add remaining flour until well blended. Scrape dough onto large piece of plastic wrap, and cover completely, and refrigerate 2 hours or overnight. Needs to be firm enough to roll into balls. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper, and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll dough to 1/4 inch ovals, pinch one end to make appearance of the face, eye sockets, and nose of a mouse. Gently add two almond slivers just behind eye sockets as in the photo. Place the mice two inches apart on the cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes until light golden brown on bottom edges. Remove from oven, and quickly pierce rear end with tooth pick and insert a 3/4 inch piece of licorice lace for tail. After they cool, pipe eyes and nose using melted chocolate, you may make a parchment or wax paper cone* or use a decorator bag with smallest writing tip. *Directions for making a parchment cone: Click Here

Merry Cheese Cakes


16 oz. softened cream cheese
1 tbsp. lemon juice
3/4 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla

Beat all ingredients until fluffy.

In mini muffin pans, place cup-cake liners (silver or holiday ones are very festive). Drop tsp of graham cracker crust mixture into each lined cup, and press down with thumb, then fill 2/3 way full with cheesecake mixture,top tsp. with cherry pie filling..

Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes. Allow mini cakes to cool, before storing. Keep refrigerated until transported or served.


    1 1/2 cups crushed graham crackers
    1/4 cup sugar
    1/3 cup butter, melted

In a small bowl, combine the crumbs and sugar; add butter and blend well

Cookie Cutter Sugar Cookies

    5 cups all-purpose flour
    1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
    1 1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 1/2 cups butter, softened to room temperature
    2 1/4 cups sugar
    4 eggs
    1 tablespoon vanilla extract

    In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt until well blended. Set aside.
    In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
    Beat in eggs and vanilla. Scrape down bowl with a rubber spatula.
    Stir in the flour mixture until incorporated.
    Cover the bowl, and chill the dough for at least one hour (or overnight).
    When you are ready to bake the cookies, make sure one of your oven racks is in the center of your oven and preheat oven to 400F degrees.
    Line your cookie sheets with silicone liners or parchment paper. Alternatively use ungreased cookie sheets.
    Scoop out about 1/3 of the dough onto a lightly floured surface and return the rest of your dough to the refrigerator until you are ready for it.
    Roll out dough on floured surface or parchment paper to 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick, getting it as even as you can.
    Cut into desired shapes with your favorite cookie cutters.
    Place cookies 1 inch apart on prepared cookie sheets.
    Bake 6 to 8 minutes in preheated oven for thin cookies and 8 to 10 minutes for thicker cookies.
    Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheets before transferring the cookies to wire racks to cool completely.

This recipe makes about 4 to 5 dozen sugar cookies, depending on size and shape of the cookie cutter used.

Some tips:

    Chill the dough thoroughly, when instructed to do so.
    Roll only a portion of the dough at a time and keep the rest in the refrigerator.
    If the dough seems sticky, you can roll the dough between parchment paper to avoid sticking.
    Roll the dough to an even thickness so your cookies will cook at the same rate.
    The thinner you roll the dough the crisper your cookies will be. Thicker dough will result in a softer cookie.
    Only place cookie dough on cool cookie sheets.
    Dust your cookie cutters with flour between cuttings.
    For best results bake your cut out cookies one sheet at a time in the center of your oven.
    To decorate, simply sprinkle your sugar cookies with colored sugar before baking.
    Plain cookies can be painted using clean good artist or model painting brushes with your favorite sugar icing once baked and cooled.
    I have also beaten an egg yolk, separate to make different colors, add food coloring paint unbaked cookie as you like it, then bake. This stains the cookie and adds no extra sugar or changed flavor.

Egg yolk paint:

5 egg yolks

2 tsp. water

Food color

Frosting for painting cookies:

1 egg white, room temperature

1 c. powdered sugar

1/4 tsp. cream of tartar

Food coloring

Beat egg white until frothy. Add sugar; beat until stiff. Add cream of tartar until thick. Dilute with food coloring and water. Paint on cookies with paint brush.

Nut Tossies or Nut Cups

1 cup flour

3 oz cream cheese, softened

1/4 lb butter or margarine, softened

1/2 brown sugar, packed

1 egg, beaten

1 cup chopped nuts (pecans or English walnuts)

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1. Mix softened butter and cream cheese. 2. Add flour to butter mixture. 3. Divide into 24 balls. 4. Press into tossie or mini muffin tins. 5. Mix brown sugar, vanilla, and nuts together then add beaten egg, mix well. 6. Fill crust about 3/4 full. 7. Bake for 20 mins until crust is brown.

Delicious Appetizers: I have also used this recipe for delicious appetizers, just make the cups and bake them empty until lightly golden brown about 10 minutes, take out and allow to cool.

Spinach Cream Cheese Filling: Mix one package of cream cheese, with 1/4 cup grated onion, 1 tsp. chopped garlic, 1 box of thoroughly drained and patted dry frozen chopped spinach, pinch of seasoned salt or soul seasoning, and dash of pepper, spoon into cups.

Liverwurst Cream Cheese Filling: Beat one package of cream cheese, with one tube package of Oscar Meyer Liverwurst until smooth, you may add onion if you wish, spoon into cups.

Chudder Filling: Beat one package of cream cheese with one container of Wispride Cheddar Cheese, spoon into cups.