a little girl wanted most for Christmas
is a reprint of a previous Christmas column.)
my friend Jack Sallee was with the Jaycees in Fayetteville, they'd put
an ad in the paper at Christmas-time, saying that for $2 you could have
Santa come to your place.
+++ There'd be a group of Santas going
out every night, and Sallee was among them.
+++ "Each Santa went to about 10 homes
a night," Sallee says. "Each Santa had a driver. Mine was
named Larry Nixon. He was a big fellow, and I would tell the kids Larry
was driving me around town."
+++ Usually nothing out of the ordinary
+++ Kids got to tell Santa what they wanted
for Christmas, and Santa gave them lots of candy, and everybody went
to bed happy.
+++ But then something different did happen.
Sallee said, "One night we had two houses left to go. We drove
around for a while, and when we found one, it was a one-room house.
We went inside, and the house had a dirt floor and hardly any furnishings."
A young girl was there with her mother. They were as poor as they could
be: They had nothing or very little.
+++ The two Jaycees, college educated and
professionals who'd seen dozens of nice homes, couldn't believe what
they had walked into.
+++ "There were two cots to sleep
on, and a table and a chair," Sallee says. "The house had
a pot-bellied stove. She had one of those small Styrofoam ice chests.
So needless to say, I was taken aback because I didn't think people
still lived like that. This was inside the Fayetteville city limits
+++ "The girl was seven or eight years
old," Sallee continues, "and she had long hair and blue eyes.
She wore a nightgown that looked like a man's T-shirt her mother had
cut off. She was flabbergasted that Santa Claus would actually visit
+++ He says, "For a Christmas tree,
her mother had brought in a branch and put it on the table."
+++ Her mother had found her a present
a ball wrapped in tissue paper. Sallee wondered what else this
poor girl would ask for.
+++ "In the homes we had seen,"
he continues, "the children would tell us what they wanted by reciting
the toy sections in stores they'd been to."
+++ But that wasn't what the girl wanted.
"The girl sat on my lap and looked at me seriously," Sallee
recalls. "She said, Santa, the only thing I want is for Daddy
to come home."
+++ "I looked at my driver, this big,
burly guy, and he had to walk outside because tears were streaming down
his face," Sallee says.
+++ "The mother turned her back to
us, and I just turned my head away from her," he adds. "I
was just stunned and moved and speechless. I wanted to hold the little
girl and tell her everything was going to be all right, but there was
nothing you could do. You felt helpless. She never asked for a toy or
+++ "I said there are some things
Santa Claus can't do," Sallee adds, "but Santa Claus would
try. I gave her all the candy I had.
+++ "It's an experience you'll never
forget," he says. "It will haunt you for the rest of your
+++ Sallee remembers that little girl around
this time of the year. He wonders what happened to her father.
+++Maybe this Christmas he will be home,
and, who knows, they'll have a nice home to live in, and everything
turns out all right. +++
seek more openness on pardons
you talk to prosecutors around the state, many of them will tell you they're
unhappy that Gov. Huckabee pardons criminals without letting law-enforcement
officials or victims' families know why he's doing it, as he's required
by law. [FULL
prosecutors go on offensive
trade jabs over sentencing, pardoning of killers, other thugs
prosecutors around the state are upset with Gov. Huckabee for grant- ing
clemency to violent criminals, but he is blaming the prosecutors for often
not seeking the maximum penalty and keeping felons locked up longer.
B.B. goes home then to funeral
King didn't seem his usual old self last weekend when he was performing
in his hometown of Indianola, Miss.
___ He put on two fine shows in one evening,
but he seemed a bit distracted. [FULL
Clintons in lovefest with Bush
there's anything more unappealing than watching politicians mud wrestle,
it's watching them pretend they like each other.
insincerity, Presi-dent Bush praised his predecessor on Monday during an
unveiling of the Clintons' official (and utterly mediocre) White House portraits.
World-class blues played near here
couple of great blues musicians showed up at Sticky Fingerz in Little Rock
on Thursday night.
___ Michael Burks, probably Arkansas' most talented
young bluesman, dropped in to catch Deborah Coleman and her band and he
was impressed. [FULL
Reagan had won in '76
of words and thousands of images have filled newspapers and television screens
since the passing of Ronald Reagan on Saturday.
colleagues, politicians and scholars have discussed every facet of his remarkable
life: How he started out poor, became a Holly-wood star, found a second
career on television, then a third as a corporate spokesman, and yet another,
more spectacular career as a politician.
His life has been thoroughly examined this week, but one crucial period
and its consequences are virtually overlooked: His losing out to President
Ford for the Republican Party's presidential nomination in 1976, which,
it could be argued, helped the Soviets stay in power for several more years.
These Vets couldn't go to unveiling
Albert Jonikas couldn't make it to the dedication of the World War II memorial
over the weekend.
an 84-year-old veteran of the Second World War who saw action in the Pacific
- Iwo Jima, Saipan, Okinawa, which was near where the Japanese surrendered
- but he doesn't get around much anymore. [FULL