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Picture perfect: Woman wins Hallmark contest

Diane Johnson of Cottage Grove used a childhood photo of her husband, Fred, for a winning online entry in a Hallmark greeting card contest. Bulletin photo by Scott Wente.

Diane Johnson's creativity and interest in sweepstakes proved a winning combination.

A neat old photograph helped, too.

Johnson recently won a Hallmark contest with a light-hearted birthday card she created using a priceless childhood snapshot of her husband Fred in a vintage cowboy costume.

The Cottage Grove woman's card can be purchased online and, if her luck continues, it might appear on store displays.

Johnson said she likes sweepstakes and saw that Hallmark had a contest for greeting cards with the theme: "Remember when."

"I took it to mean old pictures," she said, so she went through four family photo albums and found what turned out to be the perfect picture.

The photograph was taken in Red Wing, where they grew up.

"Look at the boots - cute," Diane said while admiring the picture. "The costume was put together because they never had much money."

The front of the card includes the black-and-white photo of Fred, about 5 years old, wearing a cowboy hat and carrying a toy six-shooter. Below the photo it reads: "For your birthday, I'm gonna demonstrate my lightning-fast draw."

Inside the card it asks: "Wanna see it again?"

Johnson, 66, gets a chuckle out of that.

"Anybody my age would say that's an old joke," she said, "but it seemed to fit."

Johnson used to work in publications for the South Washington County Schools, and in her spare time drew political cartoons for the Bulletin. (Fred worked in the Bulletin's sports department at the time.) In her school job years ago, Johnson designed and printed district newsletters, but she did not get to apply those layout skills to her Hallmark card. She submitted the photo and phrase, and Hallmark designed the card.

Hallmark has a reputation for cards that make people cry, but Johnson's card would only produce tears of laughter.

"I don't do mushy," she said.

Johnson's card can be purchased online and consumers can change the caption on the card when ordering from the website. A second contest is under way to select cards to be sold in Hallmark stores. Those winners will be named in April.

Hallmark notified Johnson that her card was a winning entry in the online contest and sent her a $250 prize, but she had to buy the card to see how it turned out.

Conveniently enough, she bought one in time for her husband's birthday last week.

"It was only $3.50 - which was good for a Hallmark card," she said.

Scott Wente

Scott Wente has been editor at the South Washington County Bulletin since 2011. He worked as a reporter at other Forum Communications newspapers from 2003 to 2011.

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