Judy Spooner is the longest-serving staff writer at the South Washington County Bulletin. Spooner, who covers education and features in addition to writing a weekly column, has been with the newspaper for over 30 years.
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This the eleventh year for the Santa Magic stories that began in 1996 when I was home recovering from breast cancer surgery and facing chemotherapy. They are stories of hope that help me celebrate another year of survival. This year, the story takes a twist. Daughter Margie wrote the story that is imbedded in this year's story. Hope you have a great holiday! Even though Joe Franklin was skinny as a rail and, at 72, did not have high blood pressure, Sophie insisted that he use only non-dairy creamer. But Joe occasionally stopped at the Good Eats Café where he got real cream in his coffee.
Since Tom West grew up around trains, it seemed natural that he accompany his grandson, Jacob, on the Canadian Pacific Railroad Holiday Train that stopped in Cottage Grove Tuesday, Dec.
The packages that originate from a Cottage Grove church end up in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kosovo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kuwait and Germany -- anywhere a group of local women know of military personnel serving overseas. Through Crossroads Church in Cottage Grove, the women in A Touch of Home started packing and sending boxes overseas in March of 2003. Over time, with help from other local churches and volunteers, A Touch of Home became a cottage industry.
Santa's helpers are very busy this time of year, especially three teens who helped young shoppers find and buy gifts for their families and friends. Santa's Secret Shop has been a holiday tradition at Armstrong Elementary School in Cottage Grove for more than 30 years. The school's PTA sets up items for the students to choose from and purchase in the gym. This year, the event was held from 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 7. When parents bring their children to shop, they wait in the cafeteria and have refreshments. Volunteer helpers guide students through tables of gifts.
Justina Marsh thinks her teacher is terrific, so she wrote an essay nominating Stacie Elan for a CWTC Channel 23 "Terrific Teacher" award. Marsh is a sixth-grade student at Armstrong Elementary School in Cottage Grove. Along with plaques for Marsh and Elan, the station brought Subway turkey sandwiches to school for her classmates, complete with packets of mayonnaise and mustard.
It might be cold outside, but inside the Oltman Junior High School theater, the heat of an Antilles island awaits. At 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 7 and Friday, Dec. 8, students will perform the musical "Once On This Island," a story about the persistence of love. Though set in modern day, the story is reminiscent of Romeo and Juliet. In her fifth year as director, Pam Uphus threw caution into the ocean breezes and cast all of the approximately 50 students who auditioned in the play. Twenty Oltman staff members are either actors or members of the stage and support crew.
Shoppers come to the Pullman Elementary School Craft Fair to shop for bargains. This year, it was held Saturday, Dec. 2. They also come for the Sloppy Joes that have been served annually for more than 20 years. Cindy Domeier, parent volunteer for the past seven years, said the recipe is the same one that was used for the first craft sale. Since then, it's been handed down to successive generations of volunteers. "We haven't changed the prices," she said.
There is much information about the legendary life of Charles Lindbergh who was the first to fly across the Atlantic Ocean in a single-engine airplane in 1927. There is very little known about his wife, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, however, and her contributions to aviation. But a new biography, "Anne Morrow Lindbergh First Lady of the Air" fills that gap. The book was written by Kathleen Winters, Grey Cloud Island Township, an aviation historian. Winters is also a pilot, former flight instructor and glider pilot.
When the youngest students in School District 833 take part in a Fall Feast, they have fun. They also learn how Americans plan, cook and enjoy a holiday meal. Preparations began the day before the feast by making hats to wear to the feast just as adults pick out what they will wear to celebrate a holiday meal. In this case, Crestview Elementary School kindergartners, on the day before Thanksgiving last week, made special hats. Nate McGuire's class made Native American headbands, added construction paper feathers and chose an Indian name to write on their headbands.
Anyone who offers Emily Springer a piece of butterscotch candy shouldn't be surprised if she turns it down. Springer, an eighth-grader at Cottage Grove Junior High School, had just put the remains of her lunch in the garbage. It was Halloween and there was plenty of candy around the school. She asked a friend for a piece of butterscotch-flavored hard candy. "We were laughing and it slipped down my throat and stuck there," Springer said. "She was making weird noises," said Alex Anderson, also an eighth-grader and friend of Springer.