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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Johnston's Jottings: Singing carols to strangers on Christmas Eve

  • The following is an excerpt from the book “Wolf's Bain City” by Walter Montgomery.
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  • The following is an excerpt from the book "Wolf's Bain City" by Walter Montgomery.
    It was a nice but cool night for Santa to make final preparations for his trip.
    I was in the company of a few of the guys, strolling around Bain City, trying to figure out what to do to help pass the time. As we arrived at my grandmother's house, someone yelled at us. It was my Aunt Mae. She was two years older than I. She had been raised in the community but moved to Kansas City when she was old enough to go to work. She wanted to know what we were doing and where we were headed.
    "No plans," somebody replied. "Come and join us and we'll find something to pass the time."
    We started walking again, headed no where in particular. Aunt Mae worked at Emery Bird Thayer' department store in Kansas City. Some of us had been there to see her, both at her house and at the store. It was hard to believe that a girl from Bain City could live in such a big city and not be lost all the time. And to work in a store that employed more people than the entire population of our little burg.
    Aunt Mae suggested we take a walk to Wadsworth and look at the decorations. We had seen them many times but didn't tell her. After we reached the area of the bandstand she asked if any of us had ever sung Christmas carols. I think we all blushed at the same time. After we recovered, she asked again. We all agreed that, yeah, maybe at school. She suggested we go to the barracks and sing carols to the veterans residing there.
    At first, only a couple of the guys agreed to try one or two. Well, what the heck, the rest of us agreed to join in. Two or three of the veterans had come to the front of the barracks. They put their hands together and clapped a couple of times. We moved to the next building and repeated the same songs. We eventually went to about six buildings, getting the same results each place. Mae asked "Now isn't this fun?" We reluctantly agreed. "Now, she said, let's go stand in front of the library and sing to the people walking by and for the people on the bus when it stops." That, too, was mildly successful.
    The highlight of the evening came when one of the bus drivers asked if we would like to ride the bus to Ft. Leavenworth and back and sing to the passengers. That sounded like fun and we agreed. It went a long way to help pass the time. A round trip was eighty minutes. When we got back to the library the driver asked if we would like to do it again. There was no debating. We said "Yes" in unison. Off we went on another round trip. Although there weren't many passengers the driver said he enjoyed the carols very much.
    Page 2 of 2 - On the way home Mae said ,"Well what do you guys think?"
    "Aw, it was okay," If I live to be a hundred, that night will be one of the most memorable in my life. If I contacted the guys where were along that night, I'm sure they would agree.
    And it happened on Christmas Eve.
    Walt "Wolf" Montgomery, now deceased, wrote this book, which my husband produced. It is available at the Book Barn and the Corner Pharmacy.
    Annie Johnston is a Leavenworth resident and wife of the late J.H. Johnston III, former Times publisher.
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