Memories and holiday giving

Friday, December 20, 2013
Murray Bishoff, news editor

There's something about this time of year that makes people feel particularly nostalgic. Places in particular bring back a flood of memories.

So it should come as no surprise that last Sunday afternoon there was a middle aged woman, parked by herself, next to the railroad tracks at Fourth Street, staring wistfully at what was left of the old Jumping-Jacks building, which disappeared this week. She wasn't the only one who undertook the ritual. A clark in a downtown store talked about crying as she watched demolition crews finishing off the place where she had her first job.

A lot of landmarks around Monett have fallen to the wrecking ball in the same time frame. The Jumping-Jacks building was converted into a factory 65 years ago. The original 1905 high school and the original Central School at Bond and Second Street lasted only a few years longer. The second high school, built in the mid-1920s, torn down at the same time as the first high school, didn't even last 50 years. Did people stand and watch them fall with tears in their eyes?

We know there were tears when the Gillioz Theatre fell after nearly 60 years. That is where the memories were made, particularly at this time of year. The seeds of Monett's Christmas spirit can be traced back to that place, to the Great Man himself.

In the darkest years of the Great Depression, Gillioz began his tradition of personally putting coins in the hands of children at his Christmas party, when families didn't have extra money for frivolous things. Gillioz continued the tradition for decades, leaving generations of Monett kids with a warm feeling. All that comes back even now, just talking about the theater.

It's that spirit of giving without obligation that made Gillioz the great man to kids who didn't know him was the second largest employer in town in the 1930s. It's what made Monett special to all the World War II soldiers treated by the War Moms' Club 70 years ago. It's what made Linn Thornton unforgettable to those who attended his annual Christmas dinners.

It's what makes Christmas the special time of year.

As another lodestone of memories left us this week, it's time to make new memories. What are you doing to end your year?