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Christmases past – Christmas memories with Lorraine Ross

“I don’t remember the first one, but I remember by second Christmas, shared Glenwood City’s own Lorraine Ross, Santa Claus came to the house and he brought me a little table and chairs, but he was so loud that I was terrified and cried all night; Santa stopped by when we were in bed after that,” giggled Ross.

Ross still has that same table she was given from Santa all those years ago. She later found out that Santa was an uncle of hers, but she still has mixed feelings about the man in the jolly red suit.

As a child, Ross remembers their stockings were their actual socks and she usually received an apple, orange, nuts in the shell and possibly some candy.

Lorraine spent the holidays with her brother Bob and her parents, Victor and Emma Palewicz. She remembers that they always had a real tree that she helped decorate with lights and popcorn or cranberries strings.

Church was of course a Christmas tradition as well and they typically attended the midnight mass after arriving on their horse and sleigh.

“Being farmers we didn’t have much time for celebrating Christmas because there were always cows or other animals and work to tend to,” explained Ross about holiday traditions.

Ross grew up just on the outskirts of town north of the Catholic cemetery. As a young girl she would walk into town to school every day unless her dad took her and her brother on his way to haul milk.

“Winters used to be a lot different back then. It was cold and we had a lot of snow. One winter day I was walking home and it was snowing so hard that I could barely see. My neighbor had given me a ride, but dropped me off by the cemetery. Well I ended up getting lost and my mom followed my tracks and found me there in cemetery,” shared Ross.

Ross attended the school on the hill where she remembers performing as a fourth grader in the play A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.

When she was in third grade, her teacher drew her name for Christmas and Ross received a pair of snap on rollerskates. She would then teach herself to rollerskate on the cement porch at her house.

Over the winters she would ice skate at the pond that used to be in the area where Ormson’s Grocery Store is today.

The kids at school would take pieces of cardboard and slide down the hills for recess entertainment as well in the winter months.

“In the winter, a ski train would bring people from St. Paul and Minneapolis all the way here and the people would stop here and ski down the hills just outside of town by the vet clinic. I wonder what they would think about this town today,” reminisced Ross.

After graduating in 1946, Ross worked in a war factory in New Richmond where she made rations that were shipped overseas to the military men.

She left that job once the Red Owl opened in Glenwood City; a store that carried dry goods and groceries.

It was then in 1948 that she met a young man by the name of Jim Ross while at the White Owl, a pavilion her uncle owned that was a dance hall/bar that also served lunch.

Ross remembers she used to dance polkas and waltzes to music by Whoopie John.

After dating for a couple years, Lorraine and Jim married in 1950. Her parents were then living in town and the barn next to their house burnt down so Victor built a house on top of the existing foundation and that is where the newlyweds first lived.

“We lived there in that two bedroom house until we ran out of room,” chuckled Ross.

At that time, Lorraine had given birth to six children- Tom, Bob, Bill, twins Jean and Joan and Judy. The house was too crowded so they hauled everything across the yard and into her parents old house. After some time there, Lorraine then gave birth to her last son, Jim Jr. It was shortly after that, that Jim Sr. and Lorraine packed up the family and moved out to the farm that was previously owned by Bill Berends. It was there that their final child, Lori was born.

Jim Sr. farmed and worked at the local creamery and for some time Lorraine worked and then eventually became a stay at home mom.

With their own family, Jim and Lorraine had Christmas traditions of having a real tree that the children would help decorate with icicles, that were silver in color and narrow.

On Christmas Day the girls would get dolls and doll clothes that Ross herself sometimes sewed for presents and the boys would often get Lincoln Logs.

Ross shared that their family was so large that at times it seemed like 50 people would gather around the table during the holiday.

As parents, Jim and Lorraine took their children to church every Christmas and they would have programs and plays at school.

Ross taught CCD at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church and she was and still is a part of the choir.

“I have always liked to sing. I sang at school and at church, but once the kids were born I got too busy for that, but since they’ve grown up and Jim passed I’ve had more time,” said Ross.

Jim Ross, Sr. passed away a little over five years ago. Today, Lorraine spends her holidays with her children, 20 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren.

During the week, Lorraine keeps busy by playing cards with the ladies one day a week. She goes to plays and recently went to Fanny Hill in Eau Claire with a group of friends for an afternoon show.

Baking is another favorite of hers as she makes cookies and treats in her spare time and then gives them away or sends them to her family members.

She is also an active volunteer for the Red Cross bloodmobile and a volunteer at Glenhaven from time to time where she belongs to the auxiliary.

Lorraine keeps plenty busy by watching her grandchildren and great-grandchildren play sports.

“The highlight of my year so far was watching the state football tournament and seeing Richard. That was my first time at Camp Randall Stadium as well,” shared a beaming Ross.

Lorraine said her plans for Christmas this year are to spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at the home of her son Jim and his wife Terri.