Just the right book:
By Rita Maisel
Like many people born when my brother and I were children, our home did not have a wide selection of books. I can remember cloth books about standard tales like The Three Bears, The Three Pigs and The Little Red Hen, a book of nursery rhymes, a green covered book of Peter Rabbit, and later a book with a purple cover that may have been a Disney version of Peter Pan. Some of these had been hand-me-downs from older cousins or an earlier generation. Because these books did not survive at our house, I expect they were passed on to younger cousins years ago. Yes, we memorized every story long before we learned to read. As a result, one of the best remembered gifts was finding a book under the Christmas Tree. No matter whose name was on the tag everyone in the family had a chance to read the book! Those memories meant I often was drawn to the book section in any store when searching for the right gift for Christmas giving. Whether the person who received the book enjoyed it as much I did, the book purchased was often well read before it was wrapped in Christmas paper and ended up under someone else’s tree.
As younger relatives joined the family, I tried for years to see that they had an enjoyable book for Christmas. However, when they lived in other states it was often difficult to find a book a they did not already have on-hand or one that fit their current interests. With age I am not too versed in super heroes, Goosebumps and other reading choices. So, visiting some bookshelves featuring books for Christmas meant I had entered a maze of authors and topics way out of my personal comfort zone, even when the signs said the shelf was designed for childhood readers. Few books will be on my giving list this year.
But while going through possible Christmas music on the shelves, out popped a slim little book from the 1960s called “The First Night of Christmas”. It still has its paper cover and 1968 price tag of $1.95. The story is written to the musical meter of “Twas the Night Before Christmas” with a spiritual twist to its narrative. The author was Samuel B. Beardsley and the illustrator Margaret Jervis. It is doubtful any young relative would treasure a book 60 years old, but after two or three readings I wondered if the book is still around. It must be. Amazon.com still carries the book on its available list in two categories: used and first edition collector’s with varying prices going from around $5 plus shipping to over $75. My aunts were given this little book in 1969, and in the cover is a Christmas postage stamp and some Christmas seals also carrying that date. Old books are not in great demand by library patrons no matter how timely or interesting their narrative may be, and children might be turned off by the fact that this book has color illustrations on only a few of its pages. It was copyrighted to the Gibson Company of Norwalk, Connecticut, so I cannot quote the words, but if someone wants to borrow the copy and read it to their grandchildren or a Sunday School class, let me know.
In the meantime, the name of the author Samuel B. Beardsley sounded familiar. Was this the same Samuel someone who had designed those delightful Precious Moments children in the 1970s? Checking a mug that had been a gift long ago I found out the Precious Moments, also often designed with a Christmas theme, revealed their original artist as Samuel J. Butcher. By the time he got to designing Christmas cards he signed the drawings as SJB. A friend who died recently had joined his Precious Moments collector’s club when it began in 1980 so I had memories of buying the cards for her each Christmas they were available—for some years they were featured as a Hallmark tradition. The cards featured children as Wee Three Kings (no pun, they were wee), Angels We Have Heard on High (pictured singing from the top of a ladder), and both black and white lambs at the manager in a day when all children, even those supposedly living in the Holy Land, were designed to look like white children from America. When I asked about current Christmas books, one of the first suggested by Grand Forks retailers was a Precious Moments book. Some readers of this column may want to look them over when purchasing books this Christmas.
100 year correction
Writing about people who have celebrated 100 years had some mistakes and an omission I want to correct. Tina McLaren, who was a resident of the Osnabrock Home when she died around 1980, had either just had her 100th birthday or was close to it. Her daughter, Emma Watt, who died at Maple Manor more than 20 years later, was 105 at the time of her death. Yes, long lives did run in their family because they had a distant connection to the Gjevre family as well.
A name on my handwritten list which did not get into the story was that of Emelia (Robillard) Thielbar who died around Christmas time in 2017 at the age of 101. Emelia was a good friend of our family and well-remembered down through the years for her delicious doughnuts. In later years she became even more special when she “adopted” caring about my cousin, Curt. If there was a day he did not call her, she called him, and if he did not answer she called me to get help. To the best of my knowledge Emelia was the only one of her brothers and sisters to reach the age of 100, but it seems like her mother either was 100 or more at the time of her death.
Remembering Sandy Jennings:
For more than two years a gracious and fun-to-know lady, Sandy Jennings, has been on prayer lists in Arizona, Washington, and also in Cavalier County as she battled, heart, lung and kidney problems which resulted in her death November 16, 2018, in Federal Way, WA. Several have read her story of the time when her family lived in Hawaii while her father worked at the Naval Shipyard at Pearl Harbor. Sandy was only three when the bombs fell on Pearl Harbor and, along with her brother Gordy and their parents, became a survivor of the attack December 7, 1941. Sandy and Gordy were officially honored as survivors of that attack at the 70th Anniversary Celebration December 7, 2011. Her book written from their memories is available at the Cavalier County Library and in several area homes.
Sandy met her future husband, Frank Jennings, through mutual relatives/friends, and they were married in 1958 in Kent, WA, where her family lived at that time. Then it was on to NDSU where Frank continued his schooling before they moved to the Puget Sound Area in 1961. Daughter Krisanne was born in North Dakota and son Terence joined the family after they had settled in Seattle. Friends from North Dakota remained friends for life as did active church membership. Both Sandy and Frank served on many boards, sang in choirs and filled many needed positions down through the years with quite a few of those positions in the congregation of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Tacoma or Lord of Life Lutheran Church in Sun City West when they became snowbirds.
As it happened Prince of Peace called a pastor with North Dakota roots. Conrad Tollefson, raised in Osnabrock, has been their pastor for 25 years and will officiate at Sandy’s funeral on December 9, 2018. Her cremains will rest in the Tahoma National Cemetery in Covington, Washington, joining others who were victims and survivors of the Pearl Harbor attack 77 years ago.
Survivors include her husband, Frank; their daughter, Kris, and husband Herb Lowe; son Terey and his wife, Cheri, and four grand-daughters: Jillian and Hayley Lowe and Lauren and Dana Jennings as well as extended Jennings and Stennes relatives. Sandy was preceeded in death by her parents and her brother, Gordon, who died earlier this year.