Christmas Eve In Winona Lake


I was raised in a small Indiana town that use to have wonderful Christmas parties sponsored by the local fired department. I wrote and posted the following story on a local website a few years back. It is a compilation of memories I had from these Christmas celebrations during my childhood back in the 60’s. Hope you all enjoy it.

Has anyone in here ever attended the annual Christmas parties they use to hold at the fire department in Winona Lake? They would start late in the afternoon on Christmas Eve driving the fire engine around, sirens screaming and lights flashing, up and down Park Avenue with Santa on the back, waving and tossing candy to the little kids that were lined up and down the street. A dozen or so rambunctious little hellions would push, shove, pinch, punch, kick and bite for the right to possess the same piece of candy. In the midst of this royal rumble lay untouched, several other pieces of candy, never to find the lips of a needy child.

After the smoke cleared and everyone within earshod of the sirens
were fully alerted to the festivities, the fire truck would then
pull back into the fire house and let everybody in. Santa would
perch himself on his throne and start passing out presents to the
kids when they came up to sit on his lap. It was always really cool
stuff back then: a can of playdough, a coloring book with crayons,
an etch-a-sketch, a water color set or various little games. Some of
the children would laugh, others would cry. But most would sit and
stare at Santa with wild eyed amazment, trying to remember what they
wanted to ask him to bring for Christmas. There were all kinds of
tasty little goodies laid out on tables around the fire house for
anyone to enjoy.

After Santa lost all circulation below his waist, and everybody was
about to throw up from all the goodies, everyone would head over to
the park where they had decorated this enormous Christmas tree that
seemed like it was 100 feet tall. By then, it was pitch dark
outside. There must have been a million gleaming, glittering,
twinkling lights on that tree, and ornaments the size of
basketballs. Then, just like all the little Whos’ down in Whoville,
they gathered around the tree and sang Christmas carols. It seemed
like the whole town was there. And eventually, not too many dry
eyes, I might add. It seemed that we almost always got lucky on
Christmas Eve and would get at least a fresh little dusting of snow
during this part of the event. I guess God wanted to make sure
Jesus’ birthday party went over perfectly with out a hitch. And it

The amazing thing was, if I’m remembering correctly, hardly anyone
drove a car to these festivities. Some lived at least a mile or two
away. When the party was over, everyone just seem to slowly and
reluctantly drift off in little groups. Some of the parents would be
carrying their small children that had passed out, on their
shoulders. Young couples would fade back from the crowds, arm-in-
arm, while thoughts of sugar plums danced in their loins. OOPS!
SORRY folks! I mean HEADS! Everywhere you looked, little bundled up
energizer bunnies would be buzzing around all over the place. Some
of the elderly folks would be slowly shuffling down the snow covered
sidewalks to their modest, but festively lit homes. If we weren’t
too tired, many of us not so little kids (probably age 6 and above)
that didn’t have our parents with us, would head down to the canal
and play on the ice until we were almost too tired to walk home.

When we entered the house, we were greeting by the most heavenly
scent in the universe – the smell of Mom’s Christmas cookies baking.
Big sister would jump in immediately and help Mom with the cookies
and might even put on a pan of hot coco, while two rowdy little
brothers fought for space in front of the heater to thaw out.
Occasionally, Mom would offer the boys each a beater covered with
some tasty batter to lick clean. They also were the duty tasters for
every single batch of cookies that came out of the oven: From oat
meal, to chocolate chip, to peanut butter, to various Christmas
shaped sugar cookies. EMMMM! Darn it! I’m making myself hungry!

Soon, everyone would settle in the living room and watch Christmas
specials: Bing Crosby, Red Skelton, Andy Williams, The King Family
or what ever special was on at the time. The patriarch of our little
abode would be sitting in a huge overstuffed chair that was such a
faded red color that it almost looked like rust. Earlier in the day
the Good King of this castle might have went a couple rounds on the
floor with Blacks’ Mulligan and Lansa, aka…the two rowdy little
brothers. Laying now, at his feet, were the two rowdy little
brothers and a boxer dog that was stretched out and relaxed so much
he was passing more gas than the fuel pipe to our furnace. Come to
think of it, we probably should have hooked him up, rear end first,
to the furnace. But it might have caused an explosion and burnt the
house down. Mom and Big Sis were curled up on the couch, taking a
much needed break from the cookies and trying to ignore the gagging
odor coming from the business end of the boxer. The rowdy little
brothers could often be caught stealing hungry, almost predatory
glances at the colorfully wrapped presents under the sparkling
Christmas tree. A mixture of exhaustion, anticipation and a cozy
feeling of contentment would settle in and the two rowdy little
brothers would pass out. Only to be inexplicately awakened around
4am in the morning, laying in the little bed they shared, energized by uncontrollable anticipation of the day’s festivities.

Merry Christmas, folks.


Attempt At Poetry



One uneventful night while in the grip of relentless insomnia, I decided to take a crack at writing a poem. Not having any idea how to even start such an undertaking, I searched the web for tips on poem writing. I found a web site intended for fourth graders on how to construct a poem. I figured that was as simple of instructions as I was going to get, so I dove right in and began to construct my “literary masterpiece”. As per the tutorial, I searched my surroundings for a subject. My eyes landed on a ceramic beer stein perched on a shelf above my head that was purchased at Busch Gardens. The scene on it was of an old Budweiser beer wagon being pulled by a team of clydesdales with a couple of drovers at the reigns and dalmatian perched beside them. The following “disasterpiece” emerged as my sonnet:



Sitting at the desk alone

By glow of office light

Glance I upon the shelf above

A little to the right

There it stood all by itself

My precious little stein

Handle curving to its hip

Ceramic cup divine

Massive stately horses

Marching past in step

Of proud and noble Clydesdale breed

It’s pageantry they kept

Atop the large red wagon

Are dressed two men in blue

Stacked neatly up behind them

Endless creates of brew

Perched beside the truckers

A spotted faithful dog

Their diligent Dalmatian

Will keep them on their jog

Rushed to stay on schedule

This freighter won’t be slowed

A canine scent to guide them

Down a dusty narrow road

During this long journey

A thousand-one travails

Adventure waits before them

What destiny prevails

First see they a farmer

Baking in the sun

Ask him if he’d like some beer

Says “Thanks. I’ll just have one”

His face a sunny smile

These mournful eyes he had

To them he seems both happy

And yet a little sad

To them the dog and horses

He serves them food and hay

Warmed by generosity

They hear that wise man say

God above both good and hard

Gives you a balanced life

Your cows He’ll bless then your crops

And one day take your wife

In the barn they’re resting

This cool and lovely night

Farmer’s wisdom soon will prove

Most truthful and so right

On they roll with purpose

Till next they meet a man

Wearing shiny metals won

On violent blood soaked land

Soldier looks so tired

Coming from the west

They move some creates and boxes

And offer him some rest

His bones and limbs are battered

Ask they what went wrong

Caught up in a tragic war

Been fighting all year long

When the battle’s over

He alone is left

Foes and friends are vanquished

That’s why he looks bereft

Journeys end yet not in sight

Claps thunder deep and loud

Yonder dark horizon

See they a twisting cloud

Quick they search for cover

Turning around the bend

A welcome empty cavern

That they can all hide in

Safely hid from nature’s spear

Beneath the rocky banks

Farmer’s wisdom in there heads

They bow a knee in thanks

As miles pass in splendor

Great beauty much supplied

Think they all of wonders

Abundance not denied

Spot they the sign St. Louis

At last the bustling town

Fatigue lifts from there bodies

Excitement all around

Majestically provokes the scene

A sentimental tear

Next will come a quaking thirst

They’d like an ice cold beer

Gazing at the picture

Upon a little stein

This silly little story

Ending in my mind

Sit I in peace and quiet

Thoughts mine have moved along

Looks back a little mug at me

Filled tall with dream and song


Bats! (posted on Warsaw Alumni Website 3/13/06)

Folks, I have been wanting to tell a certain story since the day I
joined this group and now that my brother is 1200 miles away, it
might be safe to do so. When we lived in our 2 story house on 12th
street in Winona Lake, we would intermittantly have a problem with
bats residing between the floors. Every once in a while we would have
one announce his presence to the whole house and hysterical
pandomonium would usually ensue. I also must mention two things about
our upstairs bathroom. First, the door didn’t lock and second, it had
holes in the floor for the plumbing, which made it a great place for
the bats to exit their nests. Our washer and dryer were located in
the bathroom and my bed was located in the hallway right outside the
bathroom. My mom would take our clothes out of the dryer and put them
on my bed until someone had a chance to fold them and put them away.
Well, this one particular day, it was my turn to fold the clothes and
put them away. As I start folding the clothes, I see Mark enter the
bathroom. I think he may have had a newspaper or comic book with him
for some very serious business. I noticed that when he closed the
door it creeked back open just a crack. (no pun intended) I picked up
a pair of black socks and all the sudden a little cartoon devil
appeared on my shoulder and whispered the most awful, evil, wonderful
idea in my ear. A devious smile started splaying across my face
worthy of the Grinch That Stole Christmas. As per the devil, I folded
the socks together and carefully crept closer to the door as quietly
as I could. Then, as per the devil, I suddenly kicked the door open
and threw the socks toward Mark while screaming the word “BAT!” At
that moment, Mark jumped so high off the toilet that I thought he was
going to bump his head on the ceiling. Simultaniously, I did the
quickest about face in the history of the human race and dashed down
the steps. I was laughing so hysterically I thought I was going to
pass out from hyperventalation. When Mark finally came back down from
outer space and his feet hit the floor, he began to pursue me like a
lion chases its prey…Except that he still had his pants down around
his ankles. Luckily for me, our mom was standing in the living room
at the bottom of the steps. I ran around behind her and clutch onto her
clothes. She asks me what’s the matter and I am still too out of
breath from laughing to speak at first, and then I manage to
gasp “He…haw haw haw…is…haw haw haw…is ggonna…haw haw
haw…ggonna kkill…haw haw haw…kill me…haw haw haw”. About this
time Mark is crashing head-over-hills down the steps with his pants
still down around his ankles. I clutch onto my mom as tight as I can,
erupting into even louder guffaws. Mark finally reaches his feet and
hitches up his pants and says “Let me at him mom!” while striding
toward us at a full and angry march. My mom, still comepletely
bewildered, sticks her hand straight out like a traffic cop and
says “Hold on Mister! What in the world is going on?” As Mark starts
unraveling the details of my evil, mischievous deeds to our mother,
she begins to break up into light chuckles, to hearty laughter, to
hysterical shrieks. I am 100 percent positive that I actually saw
steam coming out of the ears of my crimson faced brother. If mom had
not been there, I would not have lived to spin this tale of devious,
evil, cruel trickery thrust upon my loving, trustworthy, unsuspecting
sibling. I hold my brother in the highest esteam for being such a
good sport all these years later. His own offspring torture him with
the retelling of this story when ever I am around. For those of you
who are new to this group, marklinitown is my brother Mark and is
also a member of this group. He just moved back to Warsaw this week
from Florida, which is where I currently reside. I already miss him
dearly, but I am eternally greatfull that he will be 1200 miles away
from me when he reads this. If he so chooses, he has a multitude of
stories about me to counter with. So, I better settle in, buckle down
and get ready.

My Daily Routine

Wake up.

Pass gas

Eat Breakfast

Watch Fox and Friends

Check e-mail and surf computer

Take a nap

Wake up

Pass gas

Eat lunch.

Watch Megan Kelly

Shake fist and cuss at television because gas is sky high, economy sucks, Romney is winning GOP primary, Obama is about to win re-election inspite of deplorable condition of country and crazy little Iranian bastard ain’t been wiped off the face of the earth yet.

Take a nap

Wake up

Pass gas

Surf web

Watch reruns of Bonanza

Take a nap

Wake up

Pass gas

Eat supper

Watch Bret Baier

Shake fist and cuss at television because talking heads don’t have a clue what they are talking about

Surf web while wife watches Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy (where in the world does Trebek find all these eggheads that know the exact diameter of a piss-ant testicle during mating season on Bora Bora?)

Suffer loss of 10 IQ points just watching eggheads on Jeopardy (I had to look up how to spell Jeopardy)

Simutaniously surf web and watch more useless tv programing (loose 10 more IQ points)

Pass gas

Put on cpap mask and fall asleep

Pass gas through out the night

Repeat cycle 365 times a year (366 during leap years)

As you can see, going out on disability can lead to a very exciting and frenzied lifestyle. By the way, what, exactly, is the diameter of a piss-ant tesicle during mating season on Bora Bora?


 “I’ll take ‘The Rapists’ for 800 Alex.”

“That’s ‘Therapists’ you idiot!”

A Father’s View

Of life my view had just been torn
Upon the day that you were born

World throughout nothing so pure
Miracle from God you truly were

Cradled within your mothers arms
Pledged I to keep you safe from harm

Lay you there so soft and sweet
Think I my heart had skipped a beat

Looked you so peaceful fast asleep
Feared I that I may start to weep

That day on I could not know
Joy it was to watch you grow

Heaven beyond no song was heard
Half so sweet as your first word

Believe not I your zeal and pep
Took you the day that first small step

Many a time I watched you play
Wondrously made a hallowed day

No thoughts abound so sharp and cool
You the day you entered school

Looked you so big, so proud and smart
Spears of pride pierced my heart

Cherished days fade into years
Could not I contain my fears

Fast grew you, as you stood
On the brink of adulthood

Come a time when it would start
Tears the endless, broken the heart 

Matter no what came your way
Over you came a painful day

Pains of growth you would endure
Able you were to mature

School all day, work at night
Had I you rare in sight

Much too soon these years have passed
Graduation at final last

Tonight stand I at your side
Know can’t you my depth of pride

Have I for you an endless love
Gift you were from God above

Memories these but just a few
Glimpse a fleeting, a father’s view