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Thursday, July 10, 2014
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Published: Saturday, 12/25/2010

Special people, traditions fill my holiday notebook Family tradition More tradition Lost and found

Don't let the spirit of Christmas die. Throw another log on the fire and settle back for some clips from my holiday notebook that include a glass blower, a model airplane hobbyist, and family traditions.

And, by all means, don't discard the Christmas cards, but set them aside for now to read and enjoy later. Too often we rip open the envelopes, take a quick look at the signature, hope we sent them a card too, and don't take the time to think about the person or people who remembered us.

The glass blower is Dr. Steve Pero, who is better known as a children's dentist in Maumee, but judging from the ornament hanging from my fireplace mantle he is as accomplished an artist as he is a specialist in pediatric dentistry. I have met Dr. Pero several times socially at Long Beach on Lake Erie where he and his wife, Mary, reside. But it wasn't until a few weeks before Christmas when we were invited to the same dinner that I learned of his glass-blowing hobby.

Each guest was asked to take a gift from a basket Dr. Pero passed and each was a different color glass ornament by Steve's Hot Air, as the business cards read. Of course I think mine in muted tones of gray and mauve is the most beautiful though other recipients had similar opinions.

A 10-foot Christmas tree with 150 multicolored ornaments in Dr. Pero's office is a dazzling display of his glass artistry. No two are alike, or even close to being alike. Occasionally the parent of a young patient will ask if the ornaments are for sale. They are. "I don't have a 'for sale' sign, " Dr. Pero said. "Maybe I should next year."

The hobby began when Christine and Stephanie, two of the Peros' four daughters, were children and asked for a hobby they could do with their dad. The trio took glass-blowing classes at the Toledo Museum of Art. The daughters later got caught up in things like marriage, children, and moving from Toledo, but Dr. Pero continued the workshops and still spends one evening each week creating at the new Glass Pavilion. "I think I am getting better and better," he said.

The satisfaction of creating something unique and the challenge of combining colors are some of the pleasures he enjoys, Dr. Pero said. And, on a cold winter day you are sure to be warm in a glass-blowing studio.

It isn't that Joan and Chester Kwiatkowski couldn't decorate their tree. But they haven't had to since their grandchildren were old enough to put the tree in the stand and pull out all the old and nostalgic decorations and hang them.

Following the family tradition, 16 grandchildren and great-grandchildren decorated the tree Dec. 12. The family rule is that no new decorations be purchased for the tree; only the old ones everyone remembers. Many of the ornaments saved through the years were made by the four daughters and one son of the Kwiatkowskis when they were students at Our Lady of Lourdes School. John Kwiatkowski, the son, makes sure the Santa Claus he made as a Boy Scout hangs on the wall in the same place each year.

Once the tree is up, it's time for a pre-Christmas feast with everyone sitting around the large table in the family room for pulled pork, kielbasa, and always Busia's (grandma in Polish) cookies.

Every year I receive a Christmas card from Joanne and Mike Tressler and look forward to the photo of their large family. This year instead of a family photo, the photo was of a Christmas tree top that was unlike any I had ever seen. The photo was of the Tressler family's cherished keepsake of Mary that has been used about 30 years or so since daughter Jody made it in fifth grade.

As far as I know, Phil Smith of Adrian didn't wander through the fields near Hudson, Mich., singing "All I want for Christmas is my model airplane." But he was almost that disheartened after losing the plane with a five-foot wingspan and controls that included a TV camera, TV transmitter, GPS receiver, data logger, receiver for radio control, and a gyro.

The retired Tecumseh Products engineer dates his interest in flying model airplanes to 1938. "One of my first planes was from the Blissfield dime store," he said.

In early August Phil and his model airplane cronies were flying at the old Hudson airport on Day Road when without warning the ground station receiver lost the video control and the plane flew out of sight.

As distraught as he was after looking for the plane in the area, he felt some consolation thinking it would be easier to spot after the corn in nearby fields was harvested.

Corn harvest, no plane, and more disappointment.

Enter the deer-hunting season in Lenawee County nearly three months later and the plane was spotted in a pasture field about one mile from where it was lost. Dennis Brown of Hudson found the plane and decided to call Don Kerr, former Hudson postmaster, who is a plane hobbyist. But, Mr. Kerr was in Florida.

Mr. Brown didn't give up. He told the waitresses at the Carleton Cafe in downtown Hudson what he had found. A customer told Dick Bade, a plane hobbyist, who retrieved the plane and kept it for Mr. Smith to pick up.

The happy ending continues. Mr. Smith says, "Just getting the plane back was fortunate, but most of the parts work."

Mary Alice Powell is a retired Blade food editor.

Contact her at: mpowell@theblade.com.



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