With Christmas Eve just around the corner the young boy searched for his present in many of the traditional hiding places around his family’s large house.
He had used his paper route money to buy small presents for his Mom and Dad, and for his siblings, and was awaiting the magic of Christmas Eve, the night when the presents were opened.
Being the oldest child in a large family, he had figured out a couple years earlier that his family had little money and that there wouldn’t be many presents. He was OK with that because he knew his parents worked hard to feed the family of eight on a monthly salary that was only a fraction of what a decent weekly salary is today.
With the other children all asleep one night in December a year earlier, he had sneaked as far as he dared down the stairs and listened as his parents talked about not having enough money for presents that Christmas. His mother was crying and they wondered what they would do.
A week later the 9-year-old boy came home from his paper route on a dark, snowy December night and told his parents that he had found two $5 bills blowing along the sidewalk a couple blocks from home. His little white lie came after he decided to take some of his paper route money, pretend to find it and then give it to his parents, hoping they would use it for Christmas presents for his sisters.
His parents, perhaps sensing that it was too good to be true, insisted the bills be taken to the doors of neighbors to see if anyone had lost $10. The neighbors, honest to a fault, said they hadn’t lost the bills, one even saying he hadn’t ever had that much extra money around.
The little boy was questioned and asked to go over the story again and again. He tried not to mix up the details and his father finally gave in, saying, “The money must have come from God for Christmas.”
His mother’s tears of despair became tears of joy that evening, the sum of $10 being enough in 1951 to turn things around for that Christmas.
It was a time in that family’s life when five sisters took turns getting a new doll each year, the doll from the previous year being kept for a year or two before being passed to a younger sister, a sister who was grateful but knew her turn was coming soon for the new doll, a doll that came from the pages of a dog-eared Sear Roebuck catalog. By the time December came each year the pages of that catalog and the Montgomery Ward catalog were worn and ripped. They truly were “wish books.”
A year later (the same year the boy had searched the hiding places) the family went to church on Christmas Eve, hurried home after the service, dined on a traditional Christmas cranberry dessert, and settled in for the opening of presents after singing some Christmas hymns, everyone attired in their finest, most of them hand-me-downs or made-at-home clothes.
The presents were opened, starting with the youngest first, and as it got closer to his turn the boy began to think it was to be a Christmas without a gift. There was nothing for him under the tree.
When all the presents had been opened, his father made a point of looking around the room and said he would be right back. He came up from the basement and handed a wrapped package, with coal dust on it, to the boy. The boy was as cool as a a 10-year old could pretend to be and quickly ripped the wrapping paper off the box.
The box fell open and a slightly-used baseball glove fell out. (The glove, it turned out, came from a neighbor family.) The boy turned toward his mother and father to say thank you and found them standing together in a corner, conspiratorial looks on their faces, his mother’s eyes glistening.
The boy didn’t know how they had done it but his parents had found him a glove. He ran to a closet, picked up a scuffed-up baseball, and began pounding it into the glove. He would gladly have gone outside and played catch in the snow.
As it was, I went to bed with that glove tucked safely under my pillow, dreaming about spring and how I would use that glove, maybe eventually in the major leagues.
It was the best present ever in my young life.
Dec. 29, 1966 – PHS grad Dean Hansen, a senior linebacker at Army, intercepted two passes and recovered a fumble for the North in a 27-14 win for the North in the annual North-South all-star game.
Jan. 5, 1972 – Crosby-Ironton beat North Branch for the title in the four-team Princeton Basketball Invitational. The Tigers lost 56-54 to North Branch and then beat Milaca, 56-52. Bob Hedenstrom had 15 points and 8 rebounds in the win over Milaca.
Jan. 6, 1977 – Dave Mingo scored 22 and Buzz Johnson 17 as Flat Iron knocked off undefeated United Farm, 74-50, in city league basketball . . . The girls basketball team had 27 turnovers in the second half in a 54-23 loss to Brainerd.
Dec. 31, 1981 – Art Skarohlid scored 14 as Princeton State Bank beat West Side Lumber in city league basketball. Bob Koelman scored 20 as Credit Union stayed undefeated in a 75-25 win. Also in double figures for Credit Union were Steve Cartwright, John Gloege, Luther Dorr and Steve Davis.
Jan. 1, 1987 – Princeton lost 66-38 to Robbinsdale Armstrong in St. Cloud’s Granite City Classic. Brad Hoff had 11 and Scott Kinney 10.
Jan. 2, 1992 – The boys basketball team lost to Elk River, Osseo and Monticello in the Elk River tournament as Mark Anderson scored 58 points . . . Corrine Lundell scored 52 points as the girls basketball team placed third in the Hibbing tournament. Princeton beat Chisholm and Cambridge but lost to Bemidji.
Jan. 2, 1997 – Princeton lost 66-62 to Tartan as Jesse James had 22 points and 10 rebounds. Chad Olson had 20 points and Darren Gray 8 assists.
Dec. 27, 2001 – Kayla Walker had 18 points and 12 rebounds in a 47-38 win over Big Lake . . . The boys hockey team was 7-1 after beating Sauk Rapids, 5-1, and Cambridge, 5-2. Josh Miller had 4 goals in the Sauk Rapids game and 2 in the Cambridge game as Karl Larsen and Joey Bacon had 3 points apiece.
Dec. 28, 2006 – Wins over Big Lake (57-52) and Milaca (69-38) gave the boys basketball team a four-game winning streak. Jared Berggren had 26 points and Ryan Fay 17 in the Big Lake game. Berggren had 15 points and 16 rebounds in the Milaca game, Tyler Roehl 14 points and Joe Patten 13 points . . . Goalie Stephanie Boemer got the shutout in a 3-0 girls hockey win over Minnehaha Academy.
Dec. 29, 2011 – Princeton beat Moose Lake 11-3 in boys hockey as Dan Voce had 3 goals and 2 assists, and Danny Pelzer 2 goals and 3 assists . . . Princeton beat Moose Lake twice in five days in girls hockey but lost 3-2 in overtime to Cambridge on a controversial g0al, video showing later that the puck didn’t cross the line.
Girls hockey team is ranked; other PHS teams playing ranked teams
The PHS girls hockey team is ranked 9th in the state in Class 1A in the latest rankings released by the Let’s Play Hockey publication, despite recent losses to Cambridge and Buffalo. And some of its players are among scoring leaders in the state.
The team had Delano, now ranked 6th in Class 1A, on its early schedule.
The PHS girls basketball team opened the season with a 75-63 loss to Grand Rapids, now ranked No. 4 in Class 3A, after leading by a point at halftime.
The boys basketball team lost by 32 points to Delano, ranked No. 2 in Class 3A, Princeton’s class. The team plays Big Lake here on Jan. 26 and the Hornets are ranked No. 9 in 3A.