Hard work, worries get high praise

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 7, 1999

If good things come in small packages, then perhaps good news can come in small passages …

Moving steeples and historic bells

While waiting for the Christmas parade to begin Saturday morning, some rather inventive – and imaginative – youngsters discovered that the steeple on St. Mary’s Basilica was moving.

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Or at least it seemed to be moving.

By tilting their heads back and looking squarely at the steeple and the sky, the young boys discovered what they called a &uot;really cool&uot; optical illusion … thanks to a brisk wind blowing white clouds across the blue sky.

What they couldn’t see inside was the historic bell of St. Mary’s, which was featured in the most recent issue of Mississippi magazine.

In an interesting article, author Forrest Lamar Cooper tells the history of &uot;Maria Alexandrina,&uot; the bell given by an Italian prince and his wife to the St. Mary congregation in the mid 1800s. While few of us will ever have the opportunity to see the bell in person, the article thoroughly details its beauty and lore.

I must admit, I never knew Natchez could be written in Latin …

A call for generosity

Katherine Killelea may be the only person I know whose holiday season is filled as much with worry as joy.

Mrs. Killelea is the leader of the volunteer network that coordinates and organizes the annual Children’s Christmas Tree Fund, a Natchez tradition that provides gifts to nearly 300 needy youngsters each year.

And right around Thanksgiving each year, Mrs. Killelea’s worries begin … and they are almost always for naught.

&uot;It’s going slowly this year,&uot; she tells me … each year. And she worries, right up until Christmas Eve morning, when those gift bags are placed in the arms of the smiling children.

You see, the fund is supported solely by community donations.

Some groups – businesses, civic clubs, and others – have generously given large donations in past years. But, the bulk of the donations often come in $10, $25 and $50 increments – individual’s gifts made in honor of or memory of loved ones and friends.

And they add up to a remarkable gift from the community – a gift that has continued for nearly 90 years now.

Of course, Mrs. Killelea is worried again this year … So if you’d like to help out and be a part of the Children’s Christmas Tree effort, you can send your donation c/o Brown Barnett Dixons, 511-515 Main St., Natchez, Miss., 39120, or c/o The Democrat, P.O. Box 1447, Natchez, Miss., 39121.

High praise for a talented man

Lanus Hammack doesn’t know this, but he received some mighty high praise this week.

The Natchez retiree whose inspiration and talents created what has become known as International Paper’s Christmas displays is a man of many talents.

I first met him last year while he was working on the set for the First Baptist Church’s Christmas program. His energy and imagination was inspiring, as well as his plain-spoken, humble manner.

And, like most folks around here, driving by to see those displays has become a favorite pastime for my family … especially since the displays are now at the Natchez Visitor Reception Center.

This week my father – the 73-year-old man who serves as my standard for measuring all handymen – rode along with us. And he was more than dutifully impressed.

&uot;How about that,&uot; he said … several times as he attempted analyzed the displays’ construction. &uot;That’s nice work.&uot;

And, in my book, that’s pretty high praise.

Stacy Graning is editor of The Democrat. She can be reached at 446-5172 ext. 239 or via e-mail at stacy.graning@natchezdemocrat.com.