Must have been in the early 1970s. My mother had toured the Holy Land earlier in the year and purchased a number of souvenirs that she would mail occasionally.
Among them were a miniature wood-covered Bible and small clay jars that symbolically represented the type of vessel in which long lost Dead Sea scrolls were discovered in a cave.
But at Christmas, she sent a box of presents for the kids. Each of them received a package containing a real mystery gift – a small patch of burlap attached to the middle of a cord or heavy string. After half an hour of guessing what the gifts were, the kids came to the conclusion they were nose warmers. (This was during the time that we still enjoyed cold, snowy winters.)
They tried ‘em on – not only did they look goofy, the things smelled bad, too.
About then Grandma called to wish us a merry Christmas and wondered if the box of presents had arrived on time.
It had, and I told her the kids thank her for the nose warmers.
There was silence on the other end, broken when she asked, “Nose warmers?”
“Yeah, those cords with a burlap patch attached.”
“Oof, those aren’t nose warmers. They’re slingshots that I brought back from my Holy Land trip!”
Of course, a little later the kids began to wonder what, where and how to use those slingshots. One of the boys mentioned that marbles would work.
“Don’t even think about it,” their mom cautioned.
Sometime between then and after dinner, those nose warmer/slingshots mysteriously vanished. Despite an extensive search of discarded gift wrap and boxes, they never have reappeared.
Hmm, I wonder where?
There were occasional broken windows, but those were from years of backyard baseball games and errant wild pitches when I was teaching how to throw a curveball – before Whiffle balls replaced baseballs for those backyard games.
Paul Fugleberg is a former editor and co-publisher of the Flathead Courier of Polson and the Ronan Pioneer, his freelance articles and photos have appeared in numerous national and regional magazines and newspapers, and he has written several books. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.