Merry Christmas Baxter Springs, this 2017 young people walked in uniformity from Central grade school, built in 1950, three blocks to American Bank for their once a year Christmas cookie and punch drink.

The tradition started about 10 years ago as I was told by Personal Banker Jessica Gilman. It's no wonder they have her desk out front as she has a smile that lights up the entirety of the spacious lobby.

In the beginning a small group of students trickled down the street for a cookie. Presently around 600 students from pre-school to 6th grade parade and partake of the sweet Christmas treat courtesy of American Bank 1917-2017. Now that's hometown banking at it's best.

The annual Baxter Springs Historical Society and Christmas Dinner was held Dec. 7 reports Museum Director Mary Billington. Those in attendance shared a lovely evening highlighted by the wonderful performance courtesy of the Baxter Springs High School Choir, with caroling and a museum tour following dinner. Thanks for the invite Mary. The festive decorations for the holiday season are up, a must see. Museum closed Dec. 24 and 25, also closed Jan. 1. The next Historical Society meeting is at 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 20, and I will be present as I am a student of history.

Also at the museum on Dec. 2, the initial meeting of the Tri-State Facts & Stories Research Group met, wow what a title. Are you interested in learning more or contributing to research, discussion and preservation of area history whatever your age? I am and this column is preserving and making a little history. The next meeting is at 1 p.m. on Jan. 20. For more information call Mary at the museum, at 620-856-2385. Lets get the young people involved Dads and Moms.

Modern Jewelry marquee 1118 Military Ave. proclaims 'Have a Shiny Bright Christmas', Bethel Church sign reads 'Jesus is the reason for the season', your home town Pizza Hut sign reads 'don't X Christ out of Christmas as He is the reason'. Pete's Phillip 66 wants you to join the club, the fountain club. Buy 10 cups of tea and get one free! They have Krispy Kreme donuts too. They also have a bulletin board, one hand bill advertiser promises to make your leaves disappear. Casey's General store has fresh oven baked cinnamon rolls each morning, they are gigantic, I pre-ordered one and had them hold the icing for my holiday waistline sake.

Near Pete's on the corner of East 12th and East avenue is what's left of Lerner Brothers MFG company. On the side of the building is a sprinkler alarm that reads Star Sprinkler Corp. Red sign above reads when bell rings call police or fire dept., keep the departments in your holiday prayers.

Across the street from the bell is the First Presbyterian church, established 1867. Christmas Eve Candle Lighting service 9 p.m. Thank you Geoffrey Casey Roberts for the tour. I love the magnificent pipe organ, breathtaking stain glass windows and small chapel. Reverend Larry Gantt is the minister. Alan Paxson Director of Music, Charlotte Clemens Assistant Organist. I really enjoyed my Sunday morning visit.

I found four of the hand made ornaments that had blown off the Baxter Springs official Christmas tree up at True Value-formerly Food Fair Super Market and hung them up on tree outside the church. I hung one over at Lerner Brothers under the bell in honor of the four brothers who brought all those jobs to Baxter in the 1940's. If that old bell could talk, it could tell some tales of goings owns up and down that street and building.

Well that leads me for a spell to tell a true tale of mine. I once wrote a weekly column for seven years for two newspapers simultaneously.

After raking for days at at a mission I was the director of, I went into my office to write my columns. What was I raking? Gumballs from a sweetgum tree.

You know those sticky, spiky balls no one likes. Well right to my typewriter and away I went. God don't make mistakes but why in the world did He make sweetgum trees that grow gumballs. They are of no earthly or heavenly use as they only aggravate, have led to people twisting there ankle, falling and on and on I wrote.

Soon a package arrived in the mail and a beloved reader sent me a poodle made out of gumballs. Well if that don't beat all. Soon the county fair rolled around and I built me a puppy out of gumballs and swelled with pride when I saw that first place ribbon on it worth three dollars, best I remember.

Later I discovered by accident they make great kenneling. They would hardly burn up in a pile almost working as a type of coal, alright you may be laughing yourself silly right out of that lazy girl recliner sipping on some dollar store Hiland yellow old fashioned egg nog, but you better read out before judging. By the way I call it 'nilla nog' for short, as a writer I don't like to waste words, hold the pumpkin spice please.

Remember as a writer much thought and research goes into each article. It was often said about Elvis he didn't do throw away concerts, same with Mickey Mantle, he left it all on the field. I swing for the bleachers each week with local news you won't get anywhere else. No filler here.

Just yesterday I googled for the first time and folk are making Christmas ornaments and wreaths out of these prickly gum balls and they are selling like hotcakes after a church fast.

These northern folk who buy leaves while we pay to have them hauled off ain't never laid eyes on these sticky balls or even know what a cocklebur is, modern art is what big city folk call it. I saw Easter gumball peeps online and people putting them in flower pots for proper drainage in planting.

Baxter friends face it, cattle and mining are the glorious past. The future of Baxter could be in part gumballs. The gumball capital of the world?, as they are from one end of Baxter to another. Travel over to the courthouse, they are ankle deep. Ralph will furnish you a bag probably after you finish your popbottle tour.

Lastly one site said the gumballs have medicinal purposes related to a flu vaccine. I will be asking Wolkar Drug, Baxter drug-Walgreens, and Monarch pharmacy and Soda Shop to look into this. One site said chewing gum could be made from them, I sawed one open and chewed a bit and ended up using some nilla nog for mouth wash. I suppose I had an old one, that's why I'm calling in the pro's. In the end I swallowed the nilla nog as its double expensive as gasoline.

This is now in print so I'm headed to the chamber and Mayor Randall Trease office with my proposals, Dawn I need a appointment to pitch my plan for a gumball factory to bag-em up in 100 pound feed sacks and an art factory for the youth, maybe the old WalMart building? Now if it all works out don't bother naming a baseball field or rainbow bridge after me. Besides Wayne Metcalf has that covered. I would have Howard Hughes money if I would have first put a patent on all my big ideas before I put-em out. Well long as good is done, I'm good with it, never seen a U-Haul behind a herse.

Maybe just plant a tree down by the American bank in my memory, a gumball tree please.

The bible says a merry heart is good for us like a medicine paraphrasing, so a very Merry Christmas to you from me. Hey we are flying in outer space on a rock so don't forget to have some fun and laugh a lot. Eat more ice cream in 2018.