Thank You for Letting Us Solve Your PIA Jobs!™

Because of you, our clients and friends, we’ve been able to fulfill our mission here at Kowalski Heat Treating – Solving Our Client’s PIA Jobs. For us, it’s what gets us up in the morning and keeps us here late at night, making sure we do great, consistent, reliable work for you, in a timely manner, and deliver as we’ve promised.

Like any business, we’ve had our hiccups and challenges, (what I like to call “HIDDEN OPPORTUNITIES!”). But looking back on this past year, I can say we’ve done a wonderful job, and had a little fun along the way.

Some of the things I’m most proud of:

  • Our Kowalski Heat Treating family continuing to grow and working together to make all of us better. My team’s been great focusing on the little things and helping each other out, especially in those times of need, both personal and professional.
  • Continuing our tradition of company ‘get togethers’ and cook outs, and finding that we have a bunch a fantastic cooks! We here at KHT all love to eat!!
  • Continually hearing from my folks, “don’t worry Steve, we got this” or “No problem”. Especially after they see all of those PIA Jobs that come into us! You can call it culture, attitude or what I like to tell everyone … THE KOWALSKI WAY!
  • Our customers, vendors and business partners – without all of you, we would not be able to do all this. I can honestly say, we truly enjoy all of our partnerships – you make what we do rewarding and FUN!

I’m looking forward to 2017. It’s sure to bring us all kinds of excitement – with the addition of new equipment, processes, people and certifications! And don’t worry, I will be keeping you all posted along the way!

Thanks again for a great 2016 from the gang at KHT!

Happy & Prosperous New Year to you and your families.




May The Warmth of the Holidays Be With You and Your Families

John 3:16
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,
that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Psalms 72:11
May all kings fall down before him, all nations serve him!





Painting: Adoration of the Child, 1620 by Dutch Master Gerard Van Honthorst (1590–1656)


Speculaas or Pepernoten

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, when families around the country take to their kitchens to bake cookies galore – (or for those of us not so flour-inclined, swing by the bakery aisle). Whether you prefer gingerbread men, crisp springerles or crunchy biscotti, chances are you’ll enjoy some fresh baked Christmas cookies this holiday season. For me, there is nothing like a plate of cookies (or two or three…), a steamy cup of hot chocolate, and a toasty fire. Like many Christmas traditions, the origin of this delicious custom begins ages ago, in solstice rituals conducted long before Christmas became the huge commercial holiday it is today. Here is a little history to enjoy and share with others and a special recipe from Grandma Kowalski.

Grandma Kowalski’s Cream Cheese Crescents Kolachy Recipe:


  • 3 cups flour
  • ½ pound cream cheese – large pack
  • ½ pound margarine
  • your favorite jam


  1. Mix flour, cream cheese, and margarine thoroughly.
  2. Roll ¼ inch dough out on powdered sugared board (refrigerate dough if soft).
  3. Cut into 2 inch squares.
  4. Drop a dollop of jam into the center of each square.
  5. Fold corners to center to make pillow shape.
  6. Bake for 20-25 minuets at 350 degrees.

HINT: Add bread crumbs to the jam to prevent it from spilling out while baking. Or use specialty fillings purchased in the produce department of your grocery store., Prune, Apricot, etc.

The sweet history of Christmas Cookies

  • Winter solstice festivals have been held for eons throughout the world. From Norway to West Africa, Ireland to India, groups of people gathered to celebrate the changing of the seasons. Celebrations revolved around food; after all, you had to feast before the famine of the winter.
  • Solstice often meant the arrival of the first frost, so animals could be killed and kept safely to eat through the winter, and fermented beverages like beer and wine that had been brewed in the spring were finally ready to drink. As any modern host knows, a hearty roast and a tasty beverage need just one thing to complete the party: desserts!
  • By the Middle Ages, the Christmas holiday had overtaken solstice rituals throughout much of present-day Europe. However, the old feast traditions remained. And while the roast and drink recipes were probably quite similar to what earlier Europeans had enjoyed, the pastry world was experiencing some amazing changes. Spices like nutmeg, cinnamon and black pepper were just starting to be widely used, and dried exotic fruits like citron, apricots and dates added sweetness and texture to the dessert tray. These items, along with ingredients like sugar, lard and butter, would have been prized as expensive delicacies by medieval cooks.
  • Cookies have been around a long time (they probably originated as drops of grain paste spilled on hot rocks around a fire), but they became associated with Christmas in Europe in the 1500s. Gingerbread was a similar food, but laws restricted its baking to guildsman (think early specialty unions), however at the holidays these regulations were relaxed and people were allowed to bake their own at home, making a very special once a year treat.
  • The original roots of this holiday food tradition go back even further—all the way to ancient Norse mythology. Odin, the most important Norse god, was said to have an eight-legged horse named Sleipner, which he rode with a raven perched on each shoulder. During the Yule season, children would leave food out for Sleipner, in the hopes that Odin would stop by on his travels and leave gifts in return. Such a tradition continues today in countries such as Denmark, Belgium and the Netherlands, where children still believe that horses carry Santa’s sleigh instead of reindeer. On Christmas Eve, they leave carrots and hay—sometimes stuffed into shoes—to feed the exhausted animals. In return, they might hope to receive such holiday treats as chocolate coins, cocoa, mandarin oranges and marzipan.
  • Gingerbread originated in the Crusades and was originally made using breadcrumbs, boiled with honey and seasoned heavily with spices. It was pressed onto cookie boards (carved slabs of wood with religious designs) and dried. Gingerbread evolved to become more secular and to use more modern ingredients. Eventually it became associated with Christmas when speculaas (gingerbread cookies) were made into animal and people shapes and used as holiday decorations. Recipies include ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and mace combine to make a snappy, spicy taste, just like they would have back then. And gingerbread uses molasses as a sweetener, something that medieval cooks would appreciate as refined sugar was so expensive. These cooks would not have made gingerbread men, however. The first person to try that was none other than Queen Elizabeth I of England, who had the cookie molded into the shapes of her favorite courtiers.
  • Germans were responsible for associating Christmas trees with Christmas cookies. As early as 1597, Alsatians hung oblaten (decorated communion wafers) on their tannenbaums. Americans hung Barnum’s Animal Cracker boxes on trees in the 1800s (the boxes were designed for this purpose). Today some people hang faux gingerbread men on their trees, continuing the tradition.
  • In the more recent history of Christmas cookies, cut-out cookies are now almost universally associated with the holidays in the US. We can trace these cookies back to mumming, a Christmas tradition in colonial areas where the Church of England was influential. In mumming, Christmas stories were acted out and food was used to help depict the stories. Yule dows were cut-outs made in this tradition, often in the shape of the baby Jesus.
  • In the 1800s, Pennsylvania Dutch children created large cut out cookies as window decorations. Around this same time, Yule dows became popular again and were called Yule dollies. They were made with tin cutters and shaped like people, elaborately decorated with icing (like today’s gingerbread men). The face was always made out of a scrap of paper cut out of magazines, which had to be removed before the cookie was eaten. For some, the cookies were controversial because some factions felt the cookies were not religious enough (i.e., not depicting Jesus).
  • In the 1840s, Santa became associated with Christmas and dollies representing him, with a scrap face, were made. Some of these cookies were so beautifully decorated that they weren’t actually meant to be eaten (like today’s gingerbread and gum drop houses). Yet another connection to Santa comes from the Dutch, who believed that pepernoten cookies were thrown around on Christmas by Black Peter, Saint Nicholas’s helper.
  • Moravians were a Protestant sect that formed in the 1740s and were known for creating pyramids of cookies as Christmas decorations for their Christmas Eve services. Today, spicy Moravian cookies are part of Christmas for many people.
  • Only on the most important holiday could families afford treats like these, which led to a baking bonanza to prepare for Christmas. And unlike pies or cakes, cookies could be easily shared and given to friends and neighbors. Our modern Christmas cookies date back to these medieval gifts.
  • Today in the United States, leaving out a plate of cookies (Oreos and classic chocolate chip are popular choices) and a glass of milk for Santa Claus on Christmas Eve is a well-established tradition among children. But it hasn’t always been that way. According to one theory, the cookies-and-milk custom is derived from an older tradition, when families would stuff stockings with goodies for Santa and hang them by the chimney, his preferred mode of entrance, as a welcoming gift. Now, however, those stockings are usually chock-full of treats and smaller gifts for the family members themselves.
  • Leaving cookies and milk for Santa—and perhaps a few carrots for his reindeer—took off as an American holiday tradition in the 1930s, during the Great Depression. In that time of great economic hardship, many parents tried to teach their children that it was important to give to others and to show gratitude for the gifts they were lucky enough to receive on Christmas.
  • Over the years, different countries have developed their own versions of the cookies-and-milk tradition. British and Australian children leave out sherry and mince pies, while Swedish kids leave rice porridge. Santa can expect a pint of Guinness along with his cookies when delivering toys in Ireland. French children leave out a glass of wine for Père Noël and fill their shoes with hay, carrots and other treats for his donkey, Gui (French for “mistletoe”).
  • In Germany, children skip the snacks altogether and leave handwritten letters for the Christkind, a symbolic representation of the Christmas spirit who is responsible for bringing presents on Christmas. Though many German kids mail their letters before the holiday—there are six official addresses for letters addressed to the Christkind—others leave them out on Christmas Eve, decorated with sparkly glue or sugar crystals. On Christmas morning, the letters have been collected, and gifts left in their place.

(thanks to: Stephanie Butler at Hungry History for her insights)




“Oh Come All Ye Faithful”

Caroling all around the land. The center image is titled “Evening Carolers” by the remarkable American painter Thomas Kinkade. (January 19, 1958 – April 6, 2012) Prints of his work are available HERE.


One of the things I love most about the Christmas season is the carols (oh yea, and the food).  Not one to be blessed with a magnificent voice (think howling dog with a sore paw), I’m not afraid to sign along in church, (as long as those around me are loud enough to drown me out).  I do the same thing in the car when the songs come on the radio – I crank the volume and let ‘er rip.  I’m usually good with the first verse, and then the others become “mmm, mmm”.

These songs bring back wonderful memories of when my daughters were growing up.  When our youngest daughter was 3 years old, my wife started what would become a wonderful tradition for all of us. – A Christmas Caroling party.   Our four daughters would invite a bunch of their friends for an evening of singing Christmas Carols throughout the neighborhood.  We went with the girls, rain or snow no matter what the weather!  After caroling we would return home for hot chocolate (multiple crockpots full!) and Christmas cookies.  Over the years we would have as many as 60 girls from middle school through high school all singing Christmas Carols.  We would have to serve the hot chocolate in shifts!  Then Jackie and I would sit back and watch the different groups just hang out and chat. This tradition lasted until our “baby” was out of high school.

Here is some fun trivia on caroling, (special thanks to James Cooper at for the info) and the history behind some of my favorites – enjoy!

  • Carols were first sung in Europe thousands of years ago, but these were not Christmas Carols. They were pagan songs, sung at the Winter Solstice celebrations as people danced round stone circles.
  • The word Carol actually means dance or a song of praise and joy! Carols used to be written and sung during all four seasons, but only the tradition of singing them at Christmas has really survived.
  • Early Christians took over the pagan solstice celebrations for Christmas and gave people Christian songs to sing instead of pagan ones.
  • In 129, a Roman Bishop said that a song called “Angel’s Hymn” should be sung at a Christmas service in Rome. Another famous early Christmas Hymn was written in 760, by Comas of Jerusalem, for the Greek Orthodox Church. Soon after this, many composers all over Europe started to write ‘Christmas carols’.
  • Back then, not many people liked the church versions, as they were all written and sung in Latin, a language that the normal people couldn’t understand.
  • By the time of the Middles Ages (the 1200s), most people had lost interest in celebrating Christmas altogether, and the carol songs fell out of fashion.
  • This was changed by St. Francis of Assisi when, in 1223, he started his Nativity Plays in Italy. The people in the plays sang songs or ‘canticles’ that told the story during the plays. Sometimes, the choruses of these new carols were in Latin; but normally they were all in a language that the people watching the play could understand and join in!
  • The new carols spread to France, Spain, Germany and other European countries. Also, at this time, many orchestras and choirs were being set up in the cities of England and people wanted Christmas songs to sing, so carols once again became popular, such as ‘Good King Wenceslas’.
  • The earliest carol was written in 1410. Sadly, only a very small fragment of it still exists. The carol was about Mary and Jesus meeting different people in Bethlehem. Most Carols from this time and the Elizabethan period are untrue stories, very loosely based on the Christmas story, about the holy family and were seen as entertaining rather than religious songs. They were usually sung in homes rather than in churches.
  • Traveling singer or Minstrels started singing these carols and the words were changed for the local people wherever they were traveling. One carols that changed like this is ‘I Saw Three Ships’ (see history below).
  • When Oliver Cromwell and the Puritans came to power in England in 1647, the celebration of Christmas and singing carols was stopped. However, the carols survived as people still sang them in secret. Carols remained mainly unsung until Victorian times, when two men called William Sandys and Davis Gilbert collected lots of old Christmas music from villages in England.
  • Before Carol singing in public became popular, there were sometimes official carol singers called ‘Waits’. These were bands of people led by important local leaders (such as council leaders) who had the only power in the towns and villages to take money from the public (if others did this, they were sometimes charged as beggars!).
  • Christmas Eve (This was sometimes known as ‘watchnight’ or ‘waitnight’ because of the shepherds were watching their sheep when the angels appeared to them.), was when the Christmas celebrations began, along with the carols.
  • Many orchestras and choirs were set up in the cities of England, and people wanted Christmas songs to sing, so carols once again became popular.
  • New carols services were created and became popular, as did the custom of singing carols in the streets. Both of these customs are still popular today! One of the most popular types of Carols services are Carols by Candlelight services. At this service, the church is only lit by candlelight and it feels very Christmassy! Carols by Candlelight services are held in countries all over the world.

The most famous type of Carol Service might be a Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, where carols and Bible readings tell the Christmas Story.  Here is the history behind three popular carols:

I Saw Three Ships

The tune of this carol is a traditional English folk song and the words of this carol (of which there are several versions) were written by wandering minstrels as they traveled through the country. In the original version of the carol, the Three Ships were the ones taking the supposed skulls of the wise men to Cologne cathedral in Germany. However, since the Middle Ages, when it was first written, there have been many different lyrics with different Bible characters being on the ships. The most common lyrics used today are about Mary and Jesus traveling to Bethlehem.

Good King Wenceslas

This carol was written in Victorian Britain by John Mason Neale to a traditional folk tune. It was written in the town of East Grinstead, in the county of West Sussex, at Sackville College where he was staying at the time. The story in the carol is about the King (or Duke) of Bohemia (an area in Central Europe which is now part of the Czech Republic) from over 1000 years ago, seeing peasants, on Boxing Day, from his castle and taking food and wood to them. The story in the carol was probably completely made up! In fact the real story of King Wenceslas (907-935) is rather unusual.  Wenceslas’ father was the Duke of Bohemia and a Christian but it’s thought that his mother might have been a pagan. His father died when he was 12 and, as he was not old enough to become Duke until he was 18, his mother took control of the land as regent. During this time his grandmother, Ludmilla, took care of Wenceslas and brought him up as a Christian (she smuggled priests into the house to help teach him). It’s thought that His mother had Ludmilla banished to a distant castle where she was murdered by the Queen’s guards!  Wenceslas was still a Christian after this and learned to read and write, something which was unusual for even a King/Duke in those days! He had local Bishops smuggled in at night to teach him the Bible. When he reached 18, Wenceslas took control of his dukedom. He then defended Bohemia from a couple of invasions by Dukes of neighboring regions and legend says that he banished his mother and her pagan followers from his castle.  The (fictitious) story told in the song was written by a Czech poet Václav Alois Svoboda in 1847. He wrote many ‘manuscripts’ that tried to prove that Czech literature was much older and more developed than it really was. The poem was written in three languages, Czech, German, Latin, and was called ‘Sankt Wenceslaw und Podiwin’ (Saint Wenceslas and the Crocheteer). The Poem found its way into the UK in the 19th Century where JM Neale put the translated words to the tune of a 13th century spring carol ‘Tempus Adest Floridum’ (‘It is time for flowering’) that was came from a collection of old religious songs called ‘Piae Cantiones’ that was published in 1582 in Sweden/Finland!

Silent Night

The words of Silent Night were written by a Priest called Fr. Joseph Mohr in Mariapfarr, Austria, in 1816 and the music was added in 1818, by his school teacher friend Franz Xaver Gruber, for the Christmas service at St. Nicholas church in Oberndorf, Austria.  Fr. Mohr asked Franz Gruber to compose the melody with a guitar arrangement. It was several years later that Franz Gruber wrote an arrangement for the organ. Historians who have conducted research in recent years believe that Fr. Mohr wanted a new carol that he could play on his guitar.  There is a legend associated with the carol that says, Fr. Mohr wanted the carol to be sung by the children of the village at the midnight Christmas Eve service, as a surprise for their parents. But in the middle of practising, the organ broke and not a note would come from it! So the children had to learn the carol only accompanied by a guitar. They learnt the carol so well that they could sing it on its own without accompaniment.  However, there are no records to indicate that a children’s choir was involved or that the organ was broken!  At Midnight Mass in 1818, Fr. Mohr and Franz Gruber sang each of the six verses with the church choir repeating the last two lines of each verse. Mohr set down the guitar arrangement on paper around 1820 and that is the earliest manuscript that still exists. It is displayed in the Carolino Augusteum Museum in Salzburg. There are a number of manuscripts of various ‘Stille Nacht’ arrangement that were written by Franz Gruber in later years.  The original words of the song were in German (and it was called ‘Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht’) and translated in to English went:

Silent night, holy night,

Bethlehem sleeps, yet what light,

Floats around the heavenly pair;

Songs of angels fills the air.

Strains of heavenly peace.

It’s thought that the song might have traveled around the area with an organ repairman, Karl Mauracher, who could have taken an early arrangement with him in about 1820. Then two singing families (like the ‘Von Trappes’ in The Sound of Music) seem to have discovered the song and performed it as part of their concerts. In December 1832, the Strasser family performed it at a concert in Leipzig. It was first performed in the USA in 1839 by the Rainer family, who sang ‘Stille Nacht’ at the Alexander Hamilton Monument outside Trinity Church in New York City. During this time the tune changed to the one we know and sing today!  It was translated into English in 1863 by John Freeman Young. The carol was sung during the Christmas Truce in the First World War in December 1914 as it was a song that soldiers on both sides knew!  By the time that the carol was famous, Fr Mohr had died. Franz Gruber wrote to music authorities in Berlin saying that he had composed the tune, but no one believed him and it was thought that Haydn, Mozart or Beethoven had written it! But then the 1820 manuscript was found and in the top right corner Fr Mohr had written: ‘Melodie von Fr. Xav. Gruber.’.

It’s now one of the most, if the the most, recorded songs in the world!




It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like…


(top row left) Over a million acres of Christmas trees are grown in the US. (top row right) The event of finding the perfect tree. (middle row left and second from left) Many ways to get the tree home. (middle row second from right) Charlie’Brown’s Christmas tree. Get yours at Kohl’s or Toys R Us. (middle row far right) You know who delivering you know what on, well, you know. (bottom row right) It truly is a magical time of year for young & old. (bottom row left) And there’s my whacky anything goes Christmas tree. :)))


If you are like me, you’re probably finishing up those turkey day leftovers, pulling out the holiday decorations and getting things ready for Christmas – another one of my “favorite” holidays.  This year, like others, we all got together this past weekend to put up the “FAMILY” tree in the family room – hence the name.   We actually put up two trees and I will get to that shortly!  Now back to the “FAMILY” tree, this tree is always dressed with an eclectic mix of ornaments, some handmade ones from the girls when they were growing up to Jackie and mine’s ornament from the year we got married.  We all enjoy the memories that go with hanging each ornament.   Part of our Christmas tradition is to buy an ornament for each of the girls every year plus one for Jackie and me.  This way when the girls take their’s with them, we still have ours.  Some years the ornaments are whimsical and other years they are exceptionally delicate which leads us to the second tree (Mom’s!)  Years ago we put up a second tree in the living room that is trimmed with only delicate ornaments, strands of white beads and white lights.   It has become affectionately known as Mom’s tree and we all know not to mess with it – especially me!

Here is some Christmas tree history and trivia you can share with family and friends.


  • Long before the advent of Christianity, plants and trees that remained green all year had a special meaning for people in the winter. Just as people today decorate their homes during the festive season with pine, spruce, and fir trees, ancient peoples hung evergreen boughs over their doors and windows. In many countries it was believed that evergreens would keep away witches, ghosts, evil spirits, and illness.
  • In the Northern hemisphere, the shortest day and longest night of the year falls on December 21 or December 22 and is called the winter solstice. Many ancient people believed that the sun was a god and that winter came every year because the sun god had become sick and weak. They celebrated the solstice because it meant that at last the sun god would begin to get well. Evergreen boughs reminded them of all the green plants that would grow again when the sun god was strong and summer would return.
  • The ancient Egyptians worshipped a god called Ra, who had the head of a hawk and wore the sun as a blazing disk in his crown. At the solstice, when Ra began to recover from the illness, the Egyptians filled their homes with green palm rushes which symbolized for them the triumph of life over death.
  • Early Romans marked the solstice with a feast called the Saturnalia in honor of Saturn, the god of agriculture. The Romans knew that the solstice meant that soon farms and orchards would be green and fruitful. To mark the occasion, they decorated their homes and temples with evergreen boughs.
  • In Northern Europe the mysterious Druids, the priests of the ancient Celts, also decorated their temples with evergreen boughs as a symbol of everlasting life. The fierce Vikings in Scandinavia thought that evergreens were the special plant of the sun god, Balder.
  • Germany is credited with starting the Christmas tree tradition as we now know it in the 16th century when devout Christians brought decorated trees into their homes. Some built Christmas pyramids of wood and decorated them with evergreens and candles if wood was scarce.
  • It is a widely held belief that Martin Luther, the 16th-century Protestant reformer, first added lighted candles to a tree. Walking toward his home one winter evening, composing a sermon, he was awed by the brilliance of stars twinkling amidst evergreens. To recapture the scene for his family, he erected a tree in the main room and wired its branches with lighted candles.
  • Most 19th-century Americans found Christmas trees an oddity. The first record of one being on display was in the 1830s by the German settlers of Pennsylvania, although trees had been a tradition in many German homes much earlier. The Pennsylvania German settlements had community trees as early as 1747. But, as late as the 1840s Christmas trees were seen as pagan symbols and not accepted by most Americans.
  • It is not surprising that, like many other festive Christmas customs, the tree was adopted so late in America. To the New England Puritans, Christmas was sacred. The pilgrims’s second governor, William Bradford, wrote that he tried hard to stamp out “pagan mockery” of the observance, penalizing any frivolity.
  • The influential Oliver Cromwell preached against “the heathen traditions” of Christmas carols, decorated trees, and any joyful expression that desecrated “that sacred event.” In 1659, the General Court of Massachusetts enacted a law making any observance of December 25 (other than a church service) a penal offense; people were fined for hanging decorations. That stern solemnity continued until the 19th century, when the influx of German and Irish immigrants undermined the Puritan legacy.
  • In 1846, the popular royals, Queen Victoria and her German Prince, Albert, were sketched in the Illustrated London News standing with their children around a Christmas tree. Unlike the previous royal family, Victoria was very popular with her subjects, and what was done at court immediately became fashionable—not only in Britain, but with fashion-conscious East Coast American Society. The Christmas tree had somewhat formally arrived.
  • By the 1890s Christmas ornaments were arriving from Germany and Christmas tree popularity was on the rise around the U.S. It was noted that Europeans used small trees about four feet in height, while Americans liked their Christmas trees to reach from floor to ceiling.
  • The early 20th century saw Americans decorating their trees mainly with homemade ornaments, while the German-American sect continued to use apples, nuts, and marzipan cookies. Popcorn joined in after being dyed bright colors and interlaced with berries and nuts.
  • Electricity brought about Christmas lights, making it possible for Christmas trees to glow for days on end. With this, Christmas trees began to appear in town squares across the country and having a Christmas tree in the home became an American tradition.
  • The first tree at Rockefeller Center was placed in 1931. It was a small unadorned tree placed by construction workers at the center of the construction site. Two years later, another tree was placed there, this time with lights. These days, the giant Rockefeller Center tree is laden with over 25,000 Christmas lights.
  • The Rockefeller Center tree is located at Rockefeller Center, west of Fifth Avenue from 47th through 51st Streets in New York City and dates back to the Depression Era days. The tallest tree displayed at Rockefeller Center came in 1948 and was a Norway Spruce that measured in at 100 feet tall and hailed from Killingworth, Connecticut.


  • Christmas trees have been sold commercially in the U.S. since about 1850.
  • In 1979, the National Christmas Tree was not lighted except for the top ornament. This was done in honor of the American hostages in Iran.
  • Between 1887-1933 a fishing schooner called the Christmas Ship would tie up at the Clark Street bridge and sell spruce trees from Michigan to Chicagoans.
  • The tallest living Christmas tree is believed to be the 122-foot, 91-year-old Douglas fir in the town of Woodinville, Washington.
  • The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree tradition began in 1933. Franklin Pierce, the 14th president, brought the Christmas tree tradition to the White House.
  • In 1923, President Calvin Coolidge started the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony now held every year on the White House lawn.
  • Since 1966, the National Christmas Tree Association has given a Christmas tree to the President and first family.
  • Most Christmas trees are cut weeks before they get to a retail outlet.
  • In 1912, the first community Christmas tree in the United States was erected in New York City.
  • Christmas trees generally take 6-8 years to mature.
  • Christmas trees are grown in all 50 states including Hawaii and Alaska.
  • 100,000 people are employed in the Christmas tree industry.
  • 98 percent of all Christmas trees are grown on farms located in all 50 states.  More than 1,000,000 acres of land have been planted with Christmas trees.
  • California, Oregon, Michigan, Washington, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina are the top Christmas tree producing states. 77 million Christmas trees are planted each year, with over 2,000 Christmas trees planted per acre.  The best-selling trees are Scotch Pine, Douglas Fir, Fraser Fir, Balsam Fir, and White Pine.
  • You should never burn your Christmas tree in the fireplace. It can contribute to creosote buildup.
  • Thomas Edison’s assistants came up with the idea of electric lights for Christmas trees – see story in Dec 2016 Smithsonian Magazine.
  • In 1963, the National Christmas Tree was not lit until December 22nd because of a national 30-day period of mourning following the assassination of President Kennedy.
  • Teddy Roosevelt banned the Christmas tree from the White House for environmental reasons.
  • In the first week, a tree in your home will consume as much as a quart of water per day.
  • Tinsel was once banned by the government. Tinsel contained lead at one time, now it’s made of plastic.
  • In 1984, the National Christmas Tree was lit on December 13th with temperatures in the 70s, making it one of the warmest tree lightings in history.
  • 34 to 36 million Christmas trees are produced each year and 95 percent are shipped or sold directly from Christmas tree farms.





“…till you drop”


For some, there is nothing more exciting than Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving in the US. Regarded as the official start of the Christmas Shopping season when most retailers open very early, and some the night before to offer shoppers promotional sales. Many of you have already gotten up early today and rushed off to the malls and stores looking for deals. In my house, being a Dad of four girls, the “day after” was met with fun and fervor. We weren’t a family that would race out and go nuts, but we did at times, go looking for savings. So, in KHT fashion, here is some Wikipedia trivia about the day.

  • Although the concept of a national day of thanksgiving originated in the time of George Washington, it was not until 1863 that President Lincoln declared an annual holiday to be celebrated on the last Thursday (now the fourth Thursday) in November, a proclamation ignored in the Confederacy until after the Civil War.
  • The day after Thanksgiving as the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season may be linked together with the idea of Santa Claus parades. Parades celebrating Thanksgiving often include an appearance by Santa at the end of the parade, with the idea that ‘Santa has arrived’ or ‘Santa is just around the corner’ because Christmas is always the next major holiday following Thanksgiving. (as kids, we’d watch TV waiting to see Santa)
  • The earliest known use of “Black Friday” occurs in the journal, Factory Management and Maintenance, for November 1951, and again in 1952, referring to the practice of workers calling in sick on the day after Thanksgiving, in order to enjoy a four-day weekend. However, this use does not appear to have caught on. Around the same time, the terms “Black Friday” and “Black Saturday” came to be used by the police in Philadelphia and Rochester to describe the crowds and traffic congestion accompanying the start of the Christmas shopping season. In 1961, the city and merchants of Philadelphia attempted to improve conditions, and a public relations expert recommended rebranding the days, “Big Friday” and “Big Saturday”; but these terms were quickly forgotten.
  • In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, many Santa or Thanksgiving Day parades were sponsored by department stores. These included the Toronto Santa Claus Parade, in Canada, sponsored by Eaton’s, and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.  Department stores would use the parades to launch a big advertising push. Eventually it just became an unwritten rule that no store would try doing Christmas advertising before the parade was over.
  • Thanksgiving Day’s relationship to Christmas shopping led to controversy in the 1930s. Retail stores would have liked to have a longer shopping season, but no store wanted to break with tradition and be the one to start advertising before Thanksgiving. For this reason, in 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued a presidential proclamation proclaiming Thanksgiving to be the fourth Thursday in November rather than the last Thursday, meaning in some years one week earlier, in order to lengthen the Christmas shopping season.  Most people adopted the President’s change, which was later reinforced by an act of Congress, but many continued to celebrate Thanksgiving Day on the traditional date.
  • The earliest evidence of the phrase Black Friday applied to the day after Thanksgiving in a shopping context suggests that the term originated in Philadelphia, where it was used to describe the heavy and disruptive pedestrian and vehicle traffic that would occur on the day after Thanksgiving. This usage dates to at least 1961.
  • More than twenty years later, as the phrase became more widespread, a popular explanation became that this day represented the point in the year when retailers begin to “turn a profit”, thus going from being “in the red” to being “in the black” on their ledgers.
  • For many years, it was common for retailers to open at 6:00 a.m., but in the late 2000s many had crept to 5:00 or 4:00 a.m. This was taken to a new extreme in 2011, when several retailers opened at midnight for the first time.  In 2012, Walmart and several other retailers announced that they would open most of their stores at 8:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, prompting calls for a walkout among some workers.  In 2014, stores such as JCPenney, Best Buy, and Radio Shack opened at 5:00 PM on Thanksgiving Day while stores such as Target, Walmart, Belk, and Sears opened at 6:00 PM on Thanksgiving Day.
  • Black Friday is not an official holiday, but California and some other states observe “The Day After Thanksgiving” as a holiday for state government employees, sometimes in lieu of another federal holiday such as Columbus Day.  States include Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
  • Many non-retail employees and schools have both Thanksgiving and the following Friday off, which, along with the following regular weekend, creates a four-day weekend, thereby increasing the number of potential shoppers, routinely making it the busiest shopping day of the year.
  • In the past few years, “Christmas creep” has been cited as a factor in the diminishing importance of Black Friday, as many retailers now spread out their promotions over the entire months of November and December, rather than concentrate them on a single shopping day or weekend.
  • Three states, Rhode Island, Maine, and Massachusetts, prohibit large supermarkets, big box stores, and department stores from opening on Thanksgiving, due to blue laws (designed to enforce religious standards).
  • It is common for prospective shoppers to camp out over the Thanksgiving holiday in an effort to secure a place in front of the line and thus a better chance at getting desired items. This can pose a safety risk, such as the use of propane, tents and generators in the most elaborate cases, and in general, the blocking of emergency access and fire lanes.
  • Historically, it was common for Black Friday sales to extend throughout the following weekend. However, this practice has largely disappeared in recent years, perhaps because of an effort by retailers to create a greater sense of urgency. In order to take advantage of this, virtually all retailers in the country, big and small, offer various sales including limited amounts of themed sales named “doorbuster”, “doorcrasher” and “doorsmasher” items to entice traffic.
  • In Canada, the large population centers on Lake Ontario and the Lower Mainland in Canada have always attracted cross-border shopping into the US states, and as Black Friday became more popular in the US, Canadians often flocked to the US because of their lower prices and a stronger Canadian dollar. After 2001, many were traveling for the deals across the border. More recently, due to the parity of the Canadian dollar compared with the American dollar, several major Canadian retailers run Black Friday deals of their own to discourage shoppers from leaving Canada.
  • In the United Kingdom, the term “Black Friday” originated within the Police for the Friday before Christmas, a day where those services activated contingency to deal with the anticipated extra pressures put on the emergency services inherent in the larger than normal volumes of people going out on the final Friday before Christmas. Since the start of the 21st century, there have been attempts by retailers with origins in the US, such as Amazon, to introduce a retail “Black Friday” as it would be understood by Americans, into the United Kingdom. In 2013 Asda (a subsidiary of Walmart) announced its “Walmart’s Black Friday by ASDA” campaign promoting the American concept of a retail “Black Friday” in the UK.
  • In Mexico, Black Friday was the inspiration for the government and retailing industry to create an annual weekend of discounts and extended credit terms, El Buen Fin, meaning “the good weekend” in Spanish. El Buen Fin, when major retailers extend their store hours and offer special promotions, including extended credit terms and price promotions.
  • Recent trends in the US show over 250 million shoppers will spend beyond $50 billion in one day, followed by lesser yet meaningful sales on Saturday, Sunday, Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday.

With the Dow Jones Industrials topping 19,000 this week, it’s no wonder what this year will bring.  Grab your hat and coat, jump in and have some shopping fun!


It’s Gittin’ A Bit Nippy Out There


As most of you are aware, the temp is a changin. When I left for work this morning, I noticed a light frost coating on the grass and on my truck. So being the curious type, and also a lover of everything temperature related, (or as we like to call it – Distortion Sensitive Thermal Processing effects), I thought I’d do some digging and share what I found. Wow – way more cool info on frost than I expected. Some fun facts and some “techy” info for my science geeks out there. (Special thanks to Wikipedia and National Weather Services for info and images)

  • Frost is the coating or deposit of ice that may form in humid air in cold conditions, usually overnight. In temperate climates it most commonly appears as fragile white crystals or frozen dew drops near the ground, but in cold climates it occurs in a greater variety of forms.
  • Frost is composed of delicate branched patterns of ice crystals formed as the result of fractal process development. A fractal is a mathematical set that exhibits a repeating pattern that displays at every scale, also known as expanding symmetry or evolving symmetry.
  • Frost forms when the temperature of a solid surface in the open cools to below the freezing point of water and for the most clearly crystalline forms of frost in particular, below the frost point in still air. In most temperate countries such temperatures usually are the result of heat loss by radiation at night, so those types of frost sometimes are called radiation frost.
  • Different types of frost include crystalline hoar frost from deposition of water vapor from air of low humidity, white frost in humid conditions, window frost on glass surfaces, advection frost from cold wind over cold surfaces, black frost without visible ice at low temperatures and very low humidity, and rime under super cooled wet conditions.
  • The size of frost crystals varies depending on the time they have been building up and the amount of water vapor available. Frost crystals may be clear or translucent, but, like snow, a mass of frost crystals will scatter light in all directions, so that a coating of frost appears white.
  • Frost is known to damage crops or reduce future crop yields, therefore farmers in regions where frost is a problem often invest substantial means to prevent its formation.
  • If a solid surface is chilled below the dew point of the surrounding humid air and the surface itself is colder than freezing, ice will form on it. If the water deposits as a liquid that then freezes, it forms a coating that may look glassy, opaque, or crystalline, depending on its type. Depending on context, that process also may be called atmospheric icing. The ice it produces differs in some ways from crystalline frost, which consists of spicules of ice that typically project from the solid surface on which they grow.
  • The main difference between the ice coatings and frost spicules arises from the fact that the crystalline spicules grow directly from desublimation of water vapor from air, and desublimation is not a factor in icing of freezing surfaces. For desublimation to proceed the surface must be below the frost point of the air, meaning that it is sufficiently cold for ice to form without passing through the liquid phase. The air must be humid, but not sufficiently humid to permit the condensation of liquid water, or icing will result instead of desublimation. The size of the crystals depends largely on the temperature, the amount of water vapor available, and how long they have been growing undisturbed.
  • As a rule, except in conditions where supercooled droplets are present in the air, frost will form only if the deposition surface is colder than the surrounding air. For instance, frost may be observed around cracks in cold wooden sidewalks when humid air escapes from the warmer ground beneath. Other objects on which frost commonly forms are those with low specific heat or high thermal emissivity, such as blackened metals; hence the accumulation of frost on the heads of rusty nails.
  • The apparently erratic occurrence of frost in adjacent localities is due partly to differences of elevation, the lower areas becoming colder on calm nights. Where static air settles above an area of ground in the absence of wind, the absorptivity and specific heat of the ground strongly influence the temperature that the trapped air attains.
  • To “frost” a mug, start with a “dry on the inside” thick walled glass. Set it in the freezer for at least 10 minutes. To speed it up, wrap it in a damp paper towel. If you don’t have a freezer, simply fill your glass/mug with ice and top it off with water. Wait about 6 minutes and then empty the ice/water and the sides will frost up.
  • As some of you may remember, Frosty the Snowman was a 1969 animated Christmas television special based on the song “Frosty the Snowman”, which first aired on December 7, 1969 on CBS (where it still airs to this day). It was produced for television by Rankin/Bass Productions and featured the voices of comedians Jimmy Durante as the film’s narrator (Durante’s final performance in a film) and Jackie Vernon as the title character. Arthur Rankin, Jr. and Jules Bass wanted to give the show and its characters the look of a Christmas card, so Paul Coker, Jr., a greeting card and Mad magazine artist, was hired to do the character and background drawings.
    Jack Frost is traditionally said to leave the frosty, fern-like patterns on windows on cold winter mornings (window frost or fern frost) and nipping the extremities in cold weather. He is sometimes described or depicted with paint brush and bucket coloring the autumnal foliage red, yellow, brown, and orange.
    And a little throwback for my “hip” baby-boomers – Christmas tribute – Jack Frost & the Hooded Crow

So, it’s going to get pretty frosty this weekend. Send me one of your cool frosty photos and I’ll send you one of my hot KHT gifts.








Please take a minute today,
in your own way,
to pray for the men and women,
living and deceased,
who served our country with valor,
honor and relentless belief in our freedom.


This prayer was “edited” from a post on Godvine









Autumn Splendor


Sure leaves are pretty from afar but take some time to get real close. Nature is incredible, isn’t it?
Oh, and by-the-way, I have this incredible itch to flatten that dried leaf on top. But that’s just me.

Every autumn I marvel in the beauty of the fall colors. Whether I’m out for a morning run, raking and blowing leaves in the yard, or driving on county roads visiting some of my favorite customers, I just love this time of year.  And I’m sure like you, just when the sun hits the trees at the right angle, we get a sense of nature’s grandeur, and know just how lucky we are to live and work in northeast Ohio.  I remember back in grade school I learned about chlorophyll, but I thought I’d double check my knowledge, share with you and also give you a list of some great hiking trails in the area.  Before the weather gets really chilly, and the leaves drop, do yourself a favor, get outside and enjoy. And send me your photos, and I’ll post them on a future blog for us all to see – top three will get a KHT prize in the mail. (special thanks to and US National Arboretum


  • The mixture and variety of purple, red, orange, yellow and light green is the result of chemical processes that take place in the trees as we change over from summer to fall to winter.
  • During the spring and summer the leaves have served as factories where most of the foods necessary for the tree’s growth are manufactured. This food-making process takes place in the leaf in numerous cells containing chlorophyll, which gives the leaf its green color. This extraordinary chemical absorbs from sunlight the energy that is used in transforming carbon dioxide and water to carbohydrates, such as sugars and starch.
  • Along with the green pigment are yellow to orange pigments, carotenes and xanthophyll pigments which, for example, give the orange color to a carrot. Most of the year these colors are masked by greater amounts of green coloring.
  • But in the fall, because of changes in the length of daylight and changes in temperature, the leaves stop their food-making process. The chlorophyll breaks down, the green color disappears, and the yellow to orange colors become visible and give the leaves part of their fall splendor.
  • At the same time other chemical changes may occur, which form additional colors through the development of red anthocyanin pigments. Some mixtures give rise to the reddish and purplish fall colors of trees such as dogwoods and sumacs, while others give the sugar maple its brilliant orange.
  • The autumn foliage of some trees show only yellow colors. Others, like many oaks, display mostly browns. All these colors are due to the mixing of varying amounts of the chlorophyll residue and other pigments in the leaf during the fall season.
  • As the fall colors appear, other changes are taking place. At the point where the stem of the leaf is attached to the tree, a special layer of cells develops and gradually severs the tissues that support the leaf. At the same time, the tree seals the cut, so that when the leaf is finally blown off by the wind or falls from its own weight, it leaves behind a leaf scar.
  • The process that starts the cascade of events that result in fall color is actually a growth process. In late summer or early autumn, the days begin to get shorter, and nights are longer. Like most plants, deciduous trees and shrubs are rather sensitive to length of the dark period each day. When nights reach a threshold value and are long enough, the cells near the juncture of the leaf and the stem divide rapidly, but they do not expand. This abscission layer is a corky layer of cells that slowly begins to block transport of materials such as carbohydrates from the leaf to the branch. It also blocks the flow of minerals from the roots into the leaves. Because the starting time of the whole process is dependent on night length, fall colors appear at about the same time each year in a given location, whether temperatures are cooler or warmer than normal.
  • In autumn, when the connection between the leaf and the rest of the plant begins to be
    blocked off, the production of chlorophyll slows and then stops. In a relatively short time
    period, the chlorophyll disappears completely.
  • Most of the broad-leaved trees in our area shed their leaves in the fall. However, the dead brown leaves of the oaks and a few other species may stay on the tree until growth starts again in the spring. In the South, where the winters are mild, some of the broad-leaved trees are evergreen; that is, the leaves stay on the trees during winter and keep their green color.
  • Most of the conifers – pines, spruces, firs, hemlocks, cedars, etc. – are evergreen in both the North and South. The needle, or scale-like leaves remain green or greenish the year round, and individual leaves may stay on for two to four or more years.
  • Temperature, light, and water supply have an influence on the degree and the duration of fall color. Low temperatures above freezing will favor anthocyanin formation producing bright reds in maples. However, early frost will weaken the brilliant red color. Rainy and/or overcast days tend to increase the intensity of fall colors. The best time to enjoy the autumn color would be on a clear, dry, and cool (not freezing) day.



Here are some great spots to hike and photograph the colors:

  • Black River Reservation in Elyria has nearly 500,000 visitors each year. The paved Steel Mill Trail, about two miles long, crosses the Black River and French Creek. It also offers an array of stunning views of nature and the steel mill.
  • Chapin Forest Reservation in Kirtland has views of a historic quarry. The Lucky Stone Loop Trail is a difficult 1.5-mile hike, but at the highest point hikers can see all the way downtown.
  • Cleveland Metroparks’ Scenic Park Loop Trail is part of the Rocky River Reservation. The trail is 0.7 miles long and is mostly flat so even the most inexperienced hikers can enjoy the trail along the Rocky River.
  • Gorge Metro Park in Summit County is a 1.8-mile course ranging from easy to rigorous hiking. The trail has access to the Mary Campbell Cave and many rock formations. There is also access to two waterfalls and fishing docks.
  • Lake Erie Bluffs in Lake County. The Shoreline Trail goes along ¾ mile of protected shoreline, dotted with rocks, sand and driftwood and eagle sightings.
  • Mentor Marsh State Nature Preserve, owned by the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, offers views of wetland plants and wildlife. The 1/3-mile Wake Robin Trail offers an up-close look from a boardwalk.
  • Ohio and Erie Towpath Trail in Cuyahoga County is more than 20-miles long and boasts hiking, biking, running and walking trails. Bikers have the opportunity to use the Bike Aboard Program. They can start at any point in the trail and bike one way and ride back on the train for $3, runners and hikers pay $9.
  • Princess Ledges Nature Preserve in Medina County is a good spot for seeing spring warblers, wildflowers, oak trees and tulip poplar trees. The moderate, mile-long Nature Trail leads to the half-mile Ledge Trail, which has views of the dramatic sandstone shoreline.
  • Walter C. Best Wildlife Preserve is a 101-acre reservation in Geauga County. The Cattail Trail goes about 1 mile around the scenic Best Lake. Fishing platforms along the way allow hikers to take in waterfowl and other wildlife.
  • Nelson-Kennedy Ledges State Park (Portage County) – Three miles of hiking trails featuring unusual rock formations with names like Indian Pass and Old Maid’s Kitchen. Best for experienced hikers and adults.
  • Beaver Creek State Park (Columbiana County) – Sixteen miles of hiking trails and 23 miles of bridle trails that border on the gorge of Little Beaver Creek, a state wild and scenic river.
  • Findley State Park (Lorain County) – Ten miles of hiking and mountain biking trails (including part of the Buckeye Trail) that run through portions of a scenic old-growth forest.
  • Mohican State Park-Mohican Memorial State Forest (Ashland/Richland counties) – Thirty-seven miles of hiking trails, including some multiple-use trails, that slice rolling hills and the Clear Fork River Gorge, designated a National Natural Landmark.
  • Quail Hollow State Park (Stark County) – Twelve miles of hiking trails, including a one-mile paved path, are a good place for beginning hikers. This is one of the most picturesque urban parks in Ohio.
  • Fowler Woods State Nature Preserve (Richland County) – Three hiking trails meander through this 148-acre preserve, one of the oldest in the state. Some trees here are 100 to 200 years old.
  • Blackhand Gorge State Nature Preserve (Licking County) – Six trails of varying lengths including a 4 mile bike trail, cut this 970-acre preserve which lies on the Licking River Gorge.




Spooktacular Night


Halloween has a little something for everyone. I’d like to point out the painting in the lower right. “Jack O’Lantern” a digital painting by by Rado Javor (©2010-2016 RadoJavor) created in photoshop CS5. “The Legend of the Jack O’Lantern tells about the eternal Irish wanderer who wasn’t ‘let to the Heaven neither to Hell.’ He is traveling through the world in the search of Redemption.” See more of his work HERE.


It’s “ghosts and goblin” time again – with Halloween next week, the element of surprise makes it fun and unpredictable. When we were kids, my brothers and I used to sprint from house to house, block to block, and see who could get the most candy. As my daughters got older they would get all dressed up, go out with their pillow cases, and bring them back filled to the top. At that point, the real fun would start. Jackie and I would watch them dump out all of the candy in the family and start trading. Guess who got anything they didn’t want!! For fun, here is some trivia and scary urban legends you can share for a “spooktacular” night.

  • The fear of Halloween is known as Samhainopobia.
  • Orange and black are Halloween colors because orange is associated with the Fall harvest and black is associated with darkness and death.
  • The tradition of carving faces into vegetables dates to the Celts. As part of their autumnal celebration, they wanted to light the way to their homes for the good spirits, so they carved faces into vegetables such as turnips, potatoes and squash. Irish immigrants brought the tradition to America, home of the pumpkin, and it became an integral part of Halloween festivities.
  • The name Jack o’ Lantern comes from an Irish folktale about a man named Stingy Jack. According to the story, Stingy Jack invited the Devil to have a drink with him. True to his name, Stingy Jack didn’t want to pay for his drink, so he convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin that Jack could use to buy their drinks. Once the Devil did so, Jack decided to keep the money and put it into his pocket next to a silver cross, which prevented the Devil from changing back into his original form. Jack eventually freed the Devil, under the condition that he would not bother Jack for one year and that, should Jack die, he would not claim his soul. The next year, Jack again tricked the Devil into climbing into a tree to pick a piece of fruit. While he was up in the tree, Jack carved a sign of the cross into the tree’s bark so that the Devil could not come down until the Devil promised Jack not to bother him for ten more years.
  • If you see a spider on Halloween, it is the spirit of a loved one watching over you.
  • The common little brown bat of North America has the longest life span for a mammal it’s size, with a life span averaging 32 years.
  • The Ouija Board ended up outselling the game of Monopoly in its first full year at Salem. Over two million copies of the Ouija Board were shipped.
  • Halloween was brought to North America by immigrants from Europe who would celebrate the harvest around a bonfire, share ghost stories, sing, dance and tell fortunes.
  • Tootsie Rolls were the first wrapped penny candy in America.
  • The ancient Celts thought that spirits and ghosts roamed the countryside on Halloween night. They began wearing masks and costumes to avoid being recognized as human.
  • Chocolate candy bars top the list as the most popular candy for trick-or-treaters, with Snickers #1 – industry experts predict overall candy sales this year will top $2 billion.
  • Bobbing for apples is thought to have originated from the roman harvest festival that honors Pamona, the goddess of fruit trees.
  • Black cats were once believed to be witch’s familiars who protected their powers.
  • Signs of a werewolf are a unibrow, hair palms, tattoos, and a long middle finger.
  • In 1962, The Count Dracula Society was founded by Dr. Donald A. Reed. To this day, there are vampire clubs and societies with people claiming to be real vampires.
  • There really are so-called vampire bats, but they’re not from Transylvania. They live in Central and South America and feed on the blood of cattle, horses and birds.
  • Many people still believe that gargoyles were created by medieval architects and stone carvers to ward off evil spirits.
  • “Halloween” (the movie) was made in only 21 days in 1978 on a very limited budget. The movie was shot in the Spring and used fake autumn leaves. The mask used by Michael Meyers in the movie “Halloween” was actually William Shatner’s mask painted white. The character Laurie Strode, played by Jamie Lee Curtis was named after John Carpenter’s first girlfriend. While the setting for the story is in Illinois, the vehicles have California license plates.

Every year, urban legends make the rounds once again. Similar to the “Poison Halloween Candy” story, they play on parent’s fears that madmen are out to harm our children. Just a few …

BLOODY MARY: Who can forget the scary story of Bloody Mary, the evil spirit who will scratch your eyes out when summoned? Most people heard the Bloody Mary legend when they were children, listening to spooky ghost stories around the campfire. The tale is still told at slumber parties, campouts, and late-night bonfire parties. The legend claims that the evil woman can be summoned by chanting “Bloody Mary” into a mirror anywhere from three to one-hundred times in a darkened room lit only by a candle. (Thirteen seems to be the most popular number of chants, appropriately so). The bathroom is the most popular setting to test out the legend, but other dark rooms seem applicable. After the given amount of chants, the spirit will then appear in a mirror to claw your eyes out. Death will follow. Other variations have her driving you insane or pulling you into the mirror, never to be seen again.
Who Bloody Mary really is remains a mystery. While there are many versions of this story, many accounts point to a woman named Mary Worth, who was horribly disfigured in a car crash. Some are adamant that it’s Queen Mary I of England, daughter of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon. Some people still tell of a witch who was burned at the stake and has returned for revenge, or it may be the devil himself who comes for your soul. Legend has it that if you are near a mirror in total darkness, she can still come for you, regardless of whether or not you’re trying to call for her.

FRIDAY THE 13th: Most historians agree that the history of Friday the 13th as an unlucky day is a relatively short one, beginning sometime in the 19th century. Facts include: Antonio Rossini was an Italian composer famous for operas such as the Barber of Seville. His 19th century biographer, a British journalist named Henry Edwards, wrote that Rossini thought Fridays and the number 13 were unlucky. Rossini died on Friday, November 13th, 1868. Many folklorists cite Rossini’s biography as the first written reference to Friday the 13th as an unlucky day.
In the Canterbury Tales, written in the 14th century, there is a reference to “unlucky Fridays”. The whole root of the superstitions surrounding the number 13 may come from a Norse myth originating during prehistoric times. The myth goes that 12 gods were celebrating and dining in Valhalla when in walked Loki, the Norse god of mischief. According to the myth, Loki got the god of darkness to shoot Balder, the god of joy and gladness with a poisoned arrow, causing all of Earth to become dark as Balder died. Loki was the 13th guest, leading to the belief that 13 was a bad, unlucky number. No one can really say whether Friday the 13th is an unlucky day or even if there is any such thing as bad luck. That being said, millions of people believe in the superstition and no one can really say they are wrong.