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Saturday, December 24, 2016

The "Just ..... I Was Nice!" Story

The book of names from visitors to see Santa in Ephrata, PA.
It was an ordinary day.  Standing next to the REAL Santa Claus in Ephrata, Pennsylvania so he could have a photograph taken with me.  When I told him the reason for my visit, he insisted he have a photo taken with me.  Nah!  I really asked if I could have a photo taken with him, since he has been my hero ever since I could walk.  Actually, the real reason for my visit today was to view and take a photo of the town's Christmas book.  
Page one of the book is filled with names from all years.
That's the book that holds just about every signature of every child that has made a visit to Ephrata's Old Saint Nick over the past forty plus years.  The book holds many memories of years past and is considered the borough's historical holiday book.  The original book contains close to 1,500 pages and is fun to view.  Page after page of names, some with short "want-lists" while other have sketches, draws many parents and grandparents as they leaf through the book, looking for names from the past that they might remember.  
Page after page of names from as early as the 1970's.
The earliest signature with a date is from the mid-1970's.  The book isn't in chrono- logical order which would make it hard to research the entire book looking for a specific name.  The book is so valuable to the community that it is kept in the Ephrata National Bank's vault when not on display at the Welcome Center during the Christmas season when Santa arrives to take notes on the gifts his visitors would like for Christmas.  
One family lists names and ages along with mom and dad.
After reading about the book in the local newspaper, I called the bank and talked to Mr. Brown, the facilities director, who told me that the book had recently been rebound at the Water Street Bindery in downtown Lancaster, PA.  Now making a visit to Santa is a fantastic experience to just about every child who steps in the door, but for me, I enjoyed looking at the book of names on the stand next to Santa.  
The new book that is being used.
Some pages were packed with names while others held just a few.  The one page that really caught my eye was a page that contained only .... "I Was Nice!" and had a stick drawing of perhaps the author as well as a Christmas tree with a present under it.  Loved it!  Another page carried the names and ages of a family that made a visit.  Page 1 in the book is crowded with many names placed there to hopefully attract Santa's attention.  My stay lasted about 20 minutes as I looked through the book and examined the new book which is now being used for names.  One family of four arrived and all gathered with Santa for a photo before signing the new book.  Then it was my time to have my photo taken with Santa.  
Plain and simple!
He graciously stood so I didn't have to squash his lap.  Gave him my wish list and headed for the door.  In burst two young boys on a mission.  As they hustled toward Santa, I told them they were in luck because Santa was giving out extra gifts this year.  As their grandmother, or so I assume it was, walked in after them and hearing my comment said, "No way.  Not after what they just did down the block!"  Good luck to Santa!  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Santa and LDub.

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