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Sharon Smith and Santa

When Sharon Smith was 7 years old, she was taken to town to see Santa Claus. She looked up into the eyes of Santa and told him what she wanted for Christmas — a doll that walked. Santa held her tight and asked her if she had been a good girl.

“Oh, yes,” she replied. “I help mama cook supper, wash dishes, and help her clean house. I always keep my room clean. And I shovel snow for papa and help him with chores.”

Santa gave her a warm hug, a flashbulb popped, and little Sharon had to get down because her older brother, Gene, was clamoring to get up on Santa’s lap. She heard her brother tell Santa he wanted a Daisy BB gun.

On Christmas morning Sharon was up early, prodding her brother to wake up so that they could go downstairs to see what Santa had brought them. They tumbled downstairs to see the living room ablaze with lights, stockings stuffed and brightly wrapped presents under the tree. The little snack they had left for Santa, a glass of milk and cookies, had been partially eaten, and there was a note from Santa, thanking them for the treat. The handwriting looked an awful lot like their mother’s.

And there under the tree, was the walking doll that Sharon wanted so terribly bad.

The year was 1955. The Smiths lived in Ottumwa, the snow was deep and it was very cold outside.

When Sharon was nine years old her Grandpa, Harry Meyers, died. Her grandpa had been her idol. Little Sharon stood in snow up past her knees at the graveside service the day before Christmas. Girls wore dresses then, no exception, and she remembers the cold and snow whipping up her dress.

She also remembers that she was told that the Santa Claus, whose lap she had sat on, had been her grandpa. She’d had no idea. But the knowledge that she had sat on her grandpa’s lap, and not known that it was him, added to her love for him.

Her grandpa had fixed her doll for her when its legs had come off. It was a walking doll. When you moved its arms, the legs walked. Her grandpa had accidentally put the legs on backward and Sharon left it that way because that’s the way her grandpa had fixed it.

Sharon, now Sharon Bortz, 69, of Mt. Pleasant, still has that doll.

Dr. Beth Zielinski and her husband Jim are well known Mrs. and Mr. Santa Claus figures at Christmastime. Sharon is friends with Beth and Jim. To remind her of her childhood memory of sitting on Santa’s lap, only to find out later that it was her grandpa, Sharon asked Beth and Jim if she could have her picture taken with them. Of course they said yes.

So, in 2015, Sharon posed once again with Santa Claus. This time, Mrs. Santa Claus was present to oversee the proceedings.

Contact Curt Swarm at 319-217-0526

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