Thursday, April 28, 2011

Santa Dan

I'm in the process of updating my website and I decided to relocate this fun piece of my history here since I am getting ready to do a rewrite over there!

In the picture is me; granddaughter Lydia and her American Girl doll, Lydia; Santa Dan, one of the original Miller & Rhoads Santas; and Donna Deekens, Snow Queen in the program for many years. We are at the Children's Museum in Richmond where the Santaland program now resides. (So sad, not magical at all). We were doing Donna's book signing and knew that Santa Dan would be there. Emily drove the kids down from Springfield to see the real Santa. Donna took a pause from the signing to go say hi to Dan and invited me along. Lydia happened to be chatting with us at the time, taking a break from playing in the museum, having already seen Santa. We all dashed to Santa's side, cutting in line to the annoyance of many. The signing was in the main lobby. Santa in his own room. Folks in the lobby could watch the Santa activity on a monitor. Suddenly Emily, who was in the lobby with Donny and grandson Martin and had not seen us dash, spots Lydia on the monitor,"That's my daughter with Santa and the Snow Queen!" She got some funny looks. "No really it's okay, she's with her grandmother too."

My Richmond roots run deep. I attended Westhampton School on Patterson Avenue from grades K-2. We lived in the Little House my grandfather built behind their Big House at 6416 Three Chopt Road. I rode the city bus from school and walked by myself up Old Mill Road to home. We did the military life for the next few years with a small stop during 5th grade to slip back into Westhampton School where I joined old classmates Cary Shade, Tommy Tucker and Patsy Tyler. Our military wandering finally landed us permanently in Whitehall, Ohio but every Christmas was spent at 6416. Patsy always include me in local fun like cotillion, trips to the Clover Room and visits to her school, Thomas Jefferson. Shopping at M&R was a must with a stop to say hi to Breezy in Junior Colony where Mom used to work. I started college at Miami in Oxford, Ohio but transfered to RPI to study Fine Art during the beatnik era. I was one of the first coeds to live at 909 W Franklin, Mrs Bocock's private home. I tutored friend Webby Rhoads III's new wife, Carolyn in math and got rides to my student teaching gig (at Westhampton) with good friend, Northern Neck Judge Gordon Wilkins, who then lived in his car. After graduation I worked in advertising at M&R with Gene South and Jack Horne. A few years later I moved on to teach art at Varina HS and marry Donny Ball from Seven Pines in a fairy tale wedding at St James Episcopal Church. We lived in a tenent house on Slim & Virginia Mistr's Darbytown Road farm in Varina before buying our first home at 54 Oakland Road. It had an apple orchard next to an aging daffodil field, a hill great for sledding and two ponds perfect for ice skating. In September of 1983, just in time for school to start, we relocated to Kitty Hawk Bay on the Outer Banks. We find the beach life just the thing for us, our five children and six grandchildren.

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