I heard the bells…


On a pre-Christmas day, in a small village in southern Wisconsin. This is the same village that was the scene of the hostile hostas war a few years back.

The Cooksville Store, established in 1846, did an unusually brisk business between 4 and 5 PM on the day of the winter solstice. This small specialty store hosted the Chimes Choir of the Cooksville Lutheran Church. I was there because one of my sisters, a sister-in-law, and a niece are chime ringers.

I wandered the two aisles, walking over wavy floors, perusing the shelves stocked with soup mixes, jellies, canned pickles, hot drink mixes, spices, baking chocolates, extracts of many flavors, cookie sprinkles of many colors, and the like. I sat on a swivel stool at the ice cream counter, and studied the memorabilia on the walls. I thought about how this store looked nearly 35 years ago when one of my brothers and I slipped away from our sister’s wedding rehearsal to buy a tub of pickled herring to bring back to the church and share sitting in a back pew. I remembered the in-between years when the store was closed due to the retirement of Cigar Eddie, the longtime storekeeper and distant cousin.

It makes me happy the Cooksville Store has re-opened, and seems to be doing okay, if not quite thriving, yet. It is just in time for the village’s upcoming 175th birthday anniversary.

With the dusting of snow on the ground outside, I heard the bells. The sounded pretty darn good.

It is nice to be back home with my family for Christmas.


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