Our first (I hope of many) guest professors, "The Marshal". 11/29/2011
Special Christmas memories of the Cimarron of my youth.
By Dodge City Marshal Allen D. Bailey
I don’t know if everyone is the same as me when it comes to aging. The older I get, the more time I take to reminisce about the past. I spend a little time there every single day, just walking familiar places, visiting with folks that are long gone, even buying things from a general store in Ingalls that has been a grassy lot now for years. I ride horses, drive old cars and hang around with friends. I can still see me and my buddies in different places that I go, not only in my mind’s eye, but in real life whenever I walk the streets of my old hometown of Cimarron. The house that I grew up in is, for the most part, boarded up now. So many things have changed.... Aw, the past... It’s a nice place to visit, but would I want to live there? At times, most certainly! This time of year naturally brings back to my heart all of those old Christmases of the past, when all of my loved ones were alive and doing well. I can clearly hear their voices, their laughter, see their smiles, feel their hugs and handshakes. These melancholy memories give way to other wonderful times that seem to come to me in a rush when I think about the Christmases of my youth. I recall things like the old hometown tradition of releasing live ducks and geese and chickens from the roof of the town hall, down to a crowd of excited and eager kids all hoping for a chance to catch one and take it home. The movie theater that would show a free Christmas movie every year, followed by Santie Clause, who was always played by a local whom you could usually recognize behind that cotton beard, because in our little town, everyone knew everyone, and despite his best “ho ho ho”, it wasn’t enough to hide his identity. One year, when the tumbleweeds were really bad, someone had a great idea... they gathered perhaps a thousand of those things, piled them up against a building in the shape of a huge Christmas tree, and spray painted the whole thing, then added various ornaments and decorations to it. It was probably a big effort with the local businesses, I really don’t know, I was just a kid, but the memory of that has stuck in my mind for fifty years. Dad used to bring home a real tree, as did most everyone I knew, and the house had that great smell that only a live tree can give it. Now-a-days, those kinds of memories would not be made available to a child. No one would ever think of throwing a live duck over the side of a building even though its clipped wings provided a perfectly safe flight down. There would be all kinds of ‘animal rights’ groups protesting that kind of thing. With the wide spread takeover of the movie theater business by nationwide chains, it would be pretty hard to find a theater that would consider showing a free Christmas movie, and if they did, the movie sure wouldn’t be one that might express what Christmas is really all about. There might be a Santa Clause, but they would want to charge you for your picture with him... the free apples and popcorn in a sack? getting kinda rare. I don’t think I have to mention the tumbleweed Christmas tree. Are you kidding? No way!! Fire hazard... big time!! (I recently read about an ‘executive order’ that puts a 15% tax on Christmas trees... sheeze, no kidding. Sorry Dad.) But, in my mind’s eye, all these things do exist, because they did once exist, and the pleasant memories and feelings will live in my heart as long as I do. These are some of my memories. The memories of the kids now days will be completely different, no doubt, but the main thing that I was always taught, and have always clung to, and have always loved, is that Christmas is a celebration of a special remembrance. The birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. My prayer for the kids of this country today is that in fifty years, they still have the freedoms and opportunities to celebrate the real and true meaning of Christmas. I pray for our nation that we experience the revival needed to get us back on track to being the great nation that God wants us to be. Merry Christmas from the Marshal, and God bless us all.