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WUNDRAM: Christmas as it used to be

WUNDRAM: Christmas as it used to be

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“It used to be …” That’s great-grandpa talk. You heard it every time the young ’uns gathered around the old boy. He’d chew on his cigar and talk with sincerity about the old days when Christmas trees would be real — not artificial — and the only places you’d see them was through the lace curtains in parlors along small town streets where he lived.

Small towns were once silent wonderment, always waiting for Santa. Santa was the most exciting thing to happen in hamlets like Sunbury, Iowa. Now, Sunbury is all but gone. The big hall, where the holidays danced with joy, was long ago razed.

I like to think of small towns the way it used to be with forgotten names like Sunbury, Ten Mile and Jim Town and about a hundred different spellings. Small towns were once the heart and soul of the Midwest. Now, the tinseled malls have usurped the simple warmth of the small town country store.

Small towns believed in the holidays as the season sought all year in memory. Women were pestering the butcher counter for the ingredients for holiday mincemeat. Fresh cranberries were in cute wood crates, all the way from Massachusetts.

Christmas time in a country store meant congeniality, customers visiting as they filled their 12-pound paper bags with English walnuts, still in their shells.

Small towns used to be the pendulums of friendship in the Midwest. I liked to think of it that way when I would take the Ford truck out to Grover Meyer’s general store in Maysville to fetch a crate of eggs for my dad’s store. Grover had a cluster of mistletoe hanging by the front door for the amusement of men in seed caps, sitting in easy-back chairs around the store’s wood stove.

There are few things I enjoy more than remembering those men, debating all the worries of the world. I was a teen then, remembering how those old men said that we would never again go to war. I was soon to be drafted.

Best holiday rum cake ever

Begin with one or two quarts of rum. Sample it. Good, isn’t it? Select a large mixing bowl and cup. Check the rum again. In the bowl add a cup of butter, a half-cup of sugar and a glass of rum. Add more sugar and a cup of rum and two eggs. Mix well. Add two cups of dried fruit.

Take a good swig of rum to test its purity. So you don’t run short, open the second bottle of rum. Get an electric beater and mix it all until the beater sticks. Sift in three cups of salt and pepper. It really doesn’t make any difference. Just add salt and pepper to your rum cake. The salt and pepper will add some snap. Don’t let the cat lick the spoon. She will go silly. Sample the rum again to check its toxity. Fold in chopped butter and strained cup of nuts. Try the rum for purity. Add one babblespoon of brown sugar or whatever color you can find.

Wix mell. Add a cup of rum. Now, pour the whole mess in the coven at 360 gradees and ake. Go to bed.

Contact Bill Wundram at 563-383-2249 or


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