Sunday, May 27, 2018
One of America's Great Newspapers ~ Toledo, Ohio

Mary Alice Powell


Unexpected moments that have warmed the heart

It’s the little Christmas stories of love and celebration that please the heart during this season. I suspect that everyone sees or hears at least one sweet story as we go about our usual holiday schedule of shopping, card writing, and sometimes just taking the time to sit down and visit with an old friend.

Here are some incidents that have warmed my heart when I least expected them.

AT A ROADSIDE TREE SALE. As the family members were loading the tree they had chosen into their van, I said to the 3 year old, “Is Santa coming soon?”

The little fellow ran to me and hugged me. When I said to the father that these days an adult really doesn’t know what to do at such times, he responded. “Go ahead, hug him back, we’re old fashioned.”

MEOWING TO MUSIC. A sound system at the Toledo Animal Shelter is in the works, thanks to the hard working shelter auxiliary members whose fund-raisers added $15,000 to the coffers. From that amount, $3,000 will be spent on a sound system, Nancy Ligibel announced at the Christmas party at Inverness Club. “Our animals enjoy music,” she said. “The cats especially like jazz.” 

Cats’ music appreciation may explain why Jerri, the head housekeeper at the Red Roof Inn turned the TV in my room to cartoons when Geranium the cat that was my roommate for three days. It worked. When I returned Geranium was so content that I do believe her tail was keeping time to the music.

CHATTING AT THE BREAKFAST COUNTER. Memories of Christmases past are common conversation topics and for Bill Baumberger of Holland one favorite recollection takes him back to Andrews Barber College in Toledo. He was chosen to dress as Santa Claus getting his beard trimmed for a Blade photo. “I was chubby, that’s probably why they picked me,” he said.

When he began his profession at 18 years old, hair cuts were $1.75 and he could expect a quarter tip. When he retired 47 years later, the price was $13 and his customers tipped him $2. Here’s a tip to other service people from the veteran hair snipper: You will get a better tip from people who pay cash if you hold your hand palm side up.

SHE SCOUTS FOR SWEATERS. The snowman with tall white hat, long coat, and knitted carrot nose was once someone’s Irish wool sweater. When I bought it at Brigid Kilpatrick’s open house, the name on the ticket was Willard. I immediately changed it to Claudia. The open house is an annual local pre Christmas event that draws about 40 vendors who sell a wide range of hand crafted items from fudge to stained glass.

Claudia was made by Pam Meike of Adrian whose company name, SOS means more to her than just standing for Sweet Old Sweaters. By adding three dots, two dashes, and three more dots she explains it was the SOS signal her father, the late Gail Sanderson of Adrian, would have used as an army radioman in World War II.

Ms. Meike, a multi-talented woman who taught floral design at Lenawee Tech Center and is a popular entertainer with her hammered dulcimer, has been making sweater art for three years. She scouts garage sales, Goodwill, and the Salvation Army for wool and cashmere sweaters to recycle into decorative pieces. Before being turned into her personal artwork the sweaters are taken apart, placed in pillowcases, and washed in very hot water with a little soap. By washing the sweater parts they are easier to sew and do not fray, she said. Her products include Kitty Cuddlers, cat beds made from children’s sweaters.

She is online at

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