Just so you know! . . . October 24, 2017


By David Spears


. . . Hot Wire Foam Factory: We own at least one each of the following: Sculpting Tool, Hot Knife, Engravers Tool, Crafters Deluxe Kit, Freehand Router and Variable Heat Pro Power. We like them all and use them on a regular basis. Just received an ad for one we won’t be purchasing. It’s called ‘Sign Maker Hot Wire CNC Machine – CNC 052.’ The cost $6,300.00. I do like what it does.


. . . Dept. 56 Disney Parks Village Series ‘Silversmith’ house. Three readers reminded me the Silversmith is one of the nicest ‘corner angle buildings’ – the kind I wrote about last column (those from Lemax). Thanks to the readers. Note: Our zoo display has been the location for our Silversmith. Reason, the building looks very much like those at the Duluth Zoo.


. . . They were taking a three person ‘selfie’ with Lake Superior in the background. I offered assistance. Lifting their phone high in the air, I quickly took two pictures – of myself! At least they were all smiling when I finally did take pictures of them. Have I mentioned that I don’t own a cell phone?


. . . We both liked the pretty white tree at Mills Fleet Farm in Hermantown, MN. It’s the Lemax Village Collection ‘Black Walnut Tree.’ Black-white, I don’t understand it either. 9-1/4 inches tall, $12.99. The bright, very white tree will look great in a North Pole display. I like the packaging for storage. Linda thinks the container takes up too much room.



. . . ‘Sweet Home Chicago,’ a Dept. 56 gathering. It will be held September 27-30, 2018. Crowne Plaza Hotel Chicago O’Hare, Rosemont, IL. For further info: Hotel reservations not yet possible.


. . . ‘Just so you know!’ appears on It is not in Village D-Lights as stated in the VDL subscription renewal I just received. I can say this with certainty - I wrote the words when they appeared on the Minnesota 56 Clubs web site, then in Village D-Lights and now The Village Collector. Linda and I thank all the folks that have followed during the moves. Please remind your friends we are here.


. . . I saw a Lemax Village Collection ‘Multi-Color Fireworks’ in a display video. Always liked the Dept. 56 Fireworks – we have three! Don’t think the Lemax version will look as good ‘in the sky.’ Its 11.02" x 4.92" x 1.18, sort of like a (very) large cell phone (color black). However, I saw in the video it had a very nice presence as the background for a building or two. 80mA current at 4.5V DC (adaptor or batteries). Note: we now own one. Eleven inches is taller than I thought. Linda says “It really looks nice” in the shadows. Cost, $27.99 at Michael’s, $14.99 at Menard’s and Mills Fleet Farm. I’ve been informed it’s too large to be called ‘cell phone size.’


. . . Lemax Christmas Village ‘Fireworks Soundbox.’ It makes fireworks sounds - obviously. I haven’t ‘heard’ it, but it might be a nice idea (if I need more noise).


. . . 2017 Dept. 56 Retirement Day is scheduled for Friday, November 3rd. I remember when you had to find a USA Today for the list of retiring village items. So did the members of our Village North club when I brought it up at a recent club meeting – it was a sad moment. Now you sign up for emails at and the list comes to you.


. . . A Department 56 Gathering is to be held at the Cincinnati Airport Marriott on June 20 - 23, 2019.


. . . The Duluth MN/Superior WI Village North Collectors Club meeting will be held November 15, 2017. Always looking for new members. Village North is a member of the National Council of 56 Clubs.


. . . Need ‘stuff’ from Dept. 56? You know, things you’ve lost or broken. Begin looking now – before everyone is building displays. Call Customer Service: 1(800) LIT TOWN (548-8696), any weekday between 8 AM and 6 PM Central Time. This is a friendly reminder! 


. . . It might be for a limited market - Dept. 56 just released the ‘Greek Chapter House.’ The ad says. . . “use as a wonderful addition to your holiday Village display, recalling fun-filled college days. The Greek Chapter House makes the perfect gift for any Fraternity or Sorority member.” “Personalize with 3 or 4 Greek letters to represent any Greek Society and we will expertly finish the house for your favorite organization.” The Snow Village House is 10” Long, 7.75” Wide, and 7.75” high. The one in the image is “Delta Phi Sigma.”



. . . Making our Christmas cards – Linda let me help – honest! Note: this will not be the finished version.



. . . Halloween is October 31st Just so you know! 










 Just so you know! . . . October 13, 2017 


By David Spears 


. . . ‘Deer Stand Hunting,’ purchased at Menard’s in Hermantown, MN. Linda feels it’s a nice addition to our planned outdoor/woods scene. We have hunters, fisherman, woodsmen, animals and now a deer stand. Yes, some of the people are women. Deer stands are usually at least ten feet above the ground. This one is ‘wood’ on a metal stand with a ladder. Note: Neither of us is a hunter.


. . . Now we have to make up our minds. ‘Songs By The Fire’ or ‘Campfire Music.’ We really like Lemax ‘lighted’ fires and these are two of them. Which one do we pick?



. . . Do I want to continue to submit ‘Just so you know!’ when I have something to say? Or, should I do it on a schedule, i.e., the same dates two or three times each month? They would contain the same info, simply a different schedule. I’d appreciate opinions.


. . . We were talking about people for our Dept. 56 castles. Someone said the knight was wearing Chain Mail. I had to look it up. The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica say: Chain mail, also called Mail, form of body armour worn by European knights and other military men throughout most of the medieval period. An early form of mail, made by sewing iron rings to fabric or leather, was worn in late Roman times and may have originated in Asia, where such mail continued to be worn for many centuries. – Who knew!


. . . ‘Christmas in Alma’ – Nov 11-Dec 25, 2017, Main Street, Alma, WI – House Walk, Shopping Events & Community Tree Lighting, On Alma’s Main Street. Found in the Buffalo County Travel Guide.


. . . RC Gifts, Spooner, WI – the only real Dept. 56 dealer we visited (of three) + a Harley Davidson dealer. Misty was the very personable salesperson. The store has their houses ‘out of the box’ and side by side on shelves (a lot of shelves). No actual displays. They have few ‘people’ out of the packaging, but are right there to help you with that. We bought ‘Wilkommen To Octoberfest,’ ‘A Little House People,’ ‘Octoberfest Musicians’ - all Alpine. Seeing products ‘in person’ makes it easier to spend money. To be fair, Country Treasurers, Chippewa Falls, WI, had three nice China cabinets containing Dept. 56, a very limited amount. Pretty sure nothing even close to current. One of the other stores had a few Snow Babies, Evenson’s in Eau Claire, WI. Oh yes, RC Gifts also sells ‘Village D-Tails.’, they do ship. 



. . . Who said they were going to paint the Yoga soldiers? I pictured them in ‘Just so you know! . . . September 10, 2017.’ A reader wrote, had made a purchase, planned to paint them to look like people. They come in a single color. I would love to have images of the finished product. Note: my computer and/or I have lost the email I received.


. . . A ‘Toys for Tots’ building has been added to Holiday Time at Walmart. That means they also have the teddy bear, in a Marine Corps dress uniform, pulling a sleigh of gifts. As I said in past years, I like the bear. I believe the building is new. 



. . . ‘Rocking Away in Margaritiaville’ – new from Dept. 56 for 2017. I want one. Nearest dealer that sells them – Racine, WI – 422 miles away.


. . . Linda found a cow feeding a calf (village size). She thinks it’s right for a farm scene - pretty nicely done. From White Christmas, Rural Route. We also bought an old guy reading a Christmas book to a young boy, ooops, girl, nicely done. It’s Lemax 2017, ‘Christmas Stories.’ Found at Mills Fleet Farm, Winona, MN.


. . . Wouldn’t you know, we bought the Lemax ‘Snowman Friend,’ and ‘Giant Snowball,’ $3.96 each (of Holiday Time) at Walmart, Rice Lake, WI. Linda thinks the boy hugging his friend, the snowman, would be appreciated in our display at Viewcrest Health Care Facility (Duluth, MN). I think the big snowball, with kids all over it, will be right at home in the large park in our home display. Now answer me this, why did we drive over two hours to make the purchase – one way?


. . . International Owl Center, Houston, MN – We bought a Great Horned Owl for our village. While there we were introduced to live versions ‘Uhu,’ a Eurasian Eagle Owl; ‘Ruby’ a Great Horned Owl (her brother Rupert stayed home, he is molting and didn’t come to work ); and ‘Piper’ a Barn Owl. The small Barn Owl stayed in the back of a protective area, sleeping.


. . . Can’t figure this out. As we go around looking for Christmas village items I see a change. Locally we, of course, don’t have anywhere to buy new Dept. 56. That hasn’t changed. And some places, like Michael’s, have less Lemax than prior years (but more small accessories from other companies). Mill’s Fleet Farm has a pretty good selection of Christmas Lemax (more than past years?). Walmart has more of their ‘Holiday Time’ this time around. Still waiting for Christmas Lemax at Menard’s and Kmart.


. . . For people who think you can’t have too many – how about ‘Ice Fishing Shanty’ and ‘Camping Trailer’ from St. Nicholas Square at Kohl’s. Those would be for those who think you can’t have too many fishing shacks or camping trailers.


. . . City Planning on the road - going and coming on our recent trip to visit Linda’s son. Tried to decide what displays were going in the bay window, or on top of the barrister cabinet, or living room shelfs – you get the idea. It went pretty well. We remember what we have but got into trouble with sizes and didn’t always agree on what was where last time (or the time before). Next time maybe we’ll remember to bring pictures. Note: it looks like our ‘50’s display is going in our living room bay window.


. . . Lefton ‘Colonial Village’ - I was reminded of this/these. We saw the very large selection at Red Cross Pharmacy in Spooner, WI. They have soft colors and lots of detail. Some coordinating people too. Could be used with Dept. 56, probably New England.


. . . There have been ‘corner angle buildings’ before. It seems this year Lemax is trying to corner the market. They have more than a few new buildings with that footprint. Example -, ‘Shutterbug Photo’ below. We’ve previously used a couple on opposite corners of an intersection. It opened things up just a bit and gave us more space to use.



. . . Jack Daniel’s Truck tree ornament – black barrels in the back. Not fancy, but would make a nice background piece (in the Jack Daniel’s Dept. 56 Village). Found it at Blain’s Fleet Farm, Rice Lake, WI.


. . . Linda thinks these trees will work well in our Dept. 56 North Pole display. I think they might be a bit too ‘bright.’ Holiday Time at Walmart.



. . . Sure is a whole lot of Halloween in our local stores. Glad there isn’t more ‘village.’ Then for sure we’d have to have some sort of spooky town.


. . . Lemax has a new ‘Building a Snow Castle’ for 2017. Three kids making a pretty fancy structure taller than they are. No doubt it’s a castle. The more I look at it, the better I like it. 








 Just so you know! . . . September 29, 2017


By David Spears


. . . The ad on my computer monitor said Walmart, Dept. 56 Margaritaville 2017, ‘Mararitaville Village Set/6 Jimmy Buffet’ - Sold & shipped by Sweetheart Collectibles, $405.95 (one left). I don’t understand Walmart and Sweetheart Collectibles – anyone??


. . . We bought the ‘Sidewalk Chalk Artist,’ 50% off, at Michael’s. I very much like the concept but Santa is painted too well. Actually, it’s a decal. I’m going to check and see if Linda’s interested. If so, I’ll remove the decal and she can paint Santa on the sidewalk. It’s nice to have an artist in the house.


. . . They say “Cubic Zirconia” and look like ‘fancy’ little containers for very inexpensive rings. Linda found four of them in a box in the basement. For some reason we both think we can find a use for them in our North Pole display. Maybe place some small presents inside, or how about snow and multi-colored glittery stuff. Or an elf on top, or standing inside. We’ll have to see what works.


. . . I showed picture(s) of the new Dept. 56 Village Friends ‘Cocoa Cart’ at our club meeting. A club member said it would go with her ‘Village Tree’ from last year. I really enjoy these carts - nicely done and they take up less display room. $60.00. Choice of Snow Village or Heritage Village (the set I choose here).



Dept. 56 Village Friends Benefits - Members mailed a copy of 2018 Brochure – Early retirement information & exclusive content shared – Coupon to save at Village retailers and online at


. . . The roof is green, not black, on ‘Popcorn Treats.’ So I’ve been told (and they used my own picture to confirm it). In case you don’t remember, Treats is a 2017 Lemax Spooky Town piece (that we bought). 


. . . People have written me how much they like the ‘painting’ of recent Lemax structures. I paid particular attention when I saw the 2017 Christmas releases at our local Michael’s. I agree, most of the buildings they sell now are better than several years ago. Really don’t feel I can say that about the people. Linda picked the best of the bunch – we bought the new ‘Home For The Holidays’ anyway. It’s mom, dad (and dog) welcoming son back from college. Small and it shows emotion – a nice touch.


. . . It really bothered me after a short period of time. The clerk ‘suggested’ I not turn it off. The music from the Lemax ‘Elf Made Toy Factory’ drove me crazy. It plays over, and over, and over again – pretty sure it’s not a Christmas song.


. . . I wrote 3,791 words in August – Just so you know! That’s more than I ever wrote for a single issue of Village D-lights. 1,889 words in July.


. . . Eight figurines/accessories that include dogs in Michael’s, Lemax Christmas 2017 flyer. Six more feature other animals. That’s fourteen of twenty accessories. They also have a ‘Table Accent,’ ‘Christmas Catastrophe,’ cats assisting in decorating a tree – note the name.


. . . ‘Boot Scotin’ Boogie,’ ‘Tush Push,’ ‘Watermelon Crawl’ – some of the line dances we taught (as country dance instructors). Mostly we taught couples dances such as the two-step, waltz and polka. Someone asked - we met at a dance class. Linda was attending, I was assisting. Seven years later we were married. 


. . . is a European Lemax web site. Taking a look around I found figures I haven’t seen before. One is titled ‘Snowboard’ and the other ‘Ski Standing.’ Why are two people not wearing skis – or why are there more skateboards than people in the other picture? They look nicer, and different, than the ones we have. I’m looking for a U.S. dealer that sells them. Why? We live in Northern Minnesota and have a rather large ski hill (in our display) - it’s only natural. 



. . . Gift cards make very nice signs for displays. I’m thinking a Christmas In The City display using signs for ‘Caribou Coffee,’ ‘Subway,’ ‘Target,’ or ‘Dillard’s.’ The cards could be placed on the roof, or tacky waxed to the side of buildings. Maybe several cards in a row recessed into a brick (Styrofoam) wall. It’s a thought in progress.


. . . St. Nicholas Square is available at Kohl’s (at least locally). My eye was drawn to the ‘Skating Plaza (with lights and motion).’ The brochure says it’s retiring. It features two small animated skating rinks. It sparkles a lot, but with the lights shining, it didn’t seem to bother me. They only had one, with no box. Cost - no one knew. Comparing to other items ‘on sale’ I’d guess $90. I did not buy it. They show ‘Bumper Cars’ available only online. They do have a new ‘Christmas Carousel’ on the shelf (not going around). 


. . . I voted for my three favorite display videos! If you are on this web site, you know where to vote. It was very simple but I’m pretty sure Bill can’t call it a voting machine - can he? 












 Just so you know! . . . September 18, 2017 

By David Spears 


. . . “Bud’s Garden,” was a tribute to Bud Arntzen, 1937-2015, charter member of Village Addicts Anonymous. The images are from the California Gold Gathering, September 2015. The display features a roller background. It automatically changed to show four different times of the day. Please note the sky between the mountains. 




. . . Michael’s in Duluth, MN has already placed Christmas ‘Tiny Treasures by Celebrate It’ on display. Probably an eight foot wide area so far. They have several items I really liked. One is a village-size white rocking horse. Very pretty, nicely done - $4.99. Not sure why I didn’t make the purchase. They also have some small snowmen, Santa’s, tree’s, wreath’s – you get the idea. Another item was/were four nicely decorated doors. Doorways actually. They look like we should be able to make a nice vignette with one or more of them. Maybe use as background pieces. The Halloween from the same company includes costumed people and accessories. They have a horse drawn red carriage. Both the driver and the horse are skeletons (Linda was wondering why they had used a zebra - she figured it out). She liked the combo.


. . . ‘Patty’s Pumpkin Patch’ is back and nice as ever. Lemax has included the cutest puppies with the pumpkins for sale. Even the black witch hats they wear can’t make them scary. The set includes the six puppies, two kids, pumpkins and fences for $6.95. Mill’s Fleet Farm, Hermantown (MN). - Parents ‘Dead’ and ‘Mummie,’ and the two kids, trick or treating. They are all Mummies walking hand in hand. There was also a Zombie family. Lemax is less expensive at Fleet Farm than other chain stores (but they seldom have ‘big’ sales on the items).


. . . I’m finding fairy garden and aquarium things that will work nicely in a spooky display. Among the items are various buildings and ships. There are also walls, trees, backgrounds and even a few people. Unfortunately we don’t do a Halloween display. Well, except for the one at Viewcrest Health Care Center. Residents get upset when they think it should be there and it isn’t. 


. . . The Dept. 56 ‘Ryman Auditorium, Home of the Grand Ole Opry 1943-1974,’ always attracted me. Probably because Linda and I taught country dancing (using country music). We visited the Ryman when we were in Nashville for a dance convention. Few Snow Village pieces at our house, but we have made exceptions.


. . . When I saw some distant/small images of ‘Seashell Cove,’ it looked like something for a ‘southern ocean island’ display. I was wrong - the pieces would fit in with Dept. 56 New England Village. Seashell is actually part of the Lemax Plymouth Corners Village. 


. . . I’ve seen the Lemax ‘Round Up’ in pictures of displays, and in ads. Thought it was OK, but between Dept. 56 and Lemax, we have seventeen animated carnival pieces - figured it was enough. Now I’ve seen the 2017 Spooky Town ‘Ghost Around.’ Same piece as the Round Up, but with Halloween decorations. In person, for some reason I like the look of the round, spinning cage. It keeps the riders pressed against the outside wall as it rises up. 



. . . A reminder to the members of our Village North Collectors Club. Our next club meeting will be held on Wednesday, 5:30 P.M., September 20. VIP in Superior, WI. 


. . . Lemax Spooky Town ‘Popcorn Treats’ - love the orange shoes on the vendor – he’s dressed so I can use him in any carnival – most likely without the little girl in a Halloween costume. The popcorn wagon is nice enough, small, and orange and black. 



. . . OK, OK – Michael’s offered more coupons and we went back. I bought the little white rocking horse (mentioned earlier) and a small bicyclist (wearing a helmet). Both were 20% off. I’m thinking about a daycare center display this year. Either inside a glass structure or a ‘summer look’ vignette. 



Above right – Margaritaville is apparently still in/on my mind. 70% off, so we purchased a VW minibus (surfboard on the roof), a green guitar, and a sign, “At the BEACH every hour is HAPPY HOUR.” All are from ‘Tiny Treasures Celebrate It.’ The last three from their Shoreline collection. 


. . . Question?? What color base do we use for ‘The Little Town of Bethlehem’ display? I’m thinking sand, or maybe grass and brown, but not snow. We won ‘The Inn at Bethlehem’ at our last Village North meeting, courtesy of Dept. 56. We just purchased two more pieces at an estate sale. Now we need a display. Suggestions, ideas, please. 



. . . It’s time to begin viewing the candidates for the ‘Hall of Fame.’ By the time voting begins on September 29, there will be twenty-four village videos to review. I’ve looked at, and even took some notes, of each of the candidates currently posted. You know I must be an informed voter. Go to  (and then Hall of Fame) to see some nice displays. 



. . . The Dept. 56, Christmas In The City ‘Cathedral of St. Nicholas’ will be shipped on October 1. In 2006 it was a limited edition for the 30th Anniversary of Department 56. They kept 3,500 behind for the 30th anniversary of ‘Christmas In The City.’ Each will be signed and numbered by artist Tom Bates. It remains at the 2006 price of $120. Note: The Snow Village ‘Grapevine Winery’ will also be shipped on October 1. 



. . . Is that the ‘Blues Brothers’ doing promos on the National Council of 56 Clubs Facebook page? Something about the 2018 Dept. 56 ‘Sweet Home Chicago’ gathering. We keep checking to see when we can make reservations at the Crowne Plaza Hotel Chicago O’Hare, Rosemont, IL. - September 27-30, 2018. 


. . . My thanks to clubs that are sending members to It makes webmaster Bill happy. He actually says he’s ‘jocose!’ I know he works hard, and is enjoying the website, but jocose? I had to look it up. The definition: adjective, 1. given to or characterized by joking; jesting; humorous; playful. His wife Kathy is going to have to confirm those words for me. Note: Linda wants me to pronounce ‘jocose.’ 











 Just so you know! . . . September 10, 2017 

By David Spears

. . .  I like the interior scene in ‘Pinnacle Pete’s Pool Hall’ (Lemax). Billiards? – did that in another life. Actually I played eight-ball and snooker, not billiards. Note: The gal inside, as well as the other people, are Homies - small people we purchased from bubblegum machines. 

. . . Halloween at Joann Fabric and Craft Store, Duluth, MN – The first things I really looked at were some Autumn trees, 2 sizes, $20 and $13, battery powered. They look like cheap versions of Dept. 56 Autumn Maple trees (but apparently they lite up). 




There was also a lit, scary tree stump (to me, a nice look). Not able to lite either of the items in the store. They also have a variety of display size people, mostly witches (some are cute). A pumpkin, 10 or 12 inches tall, with an open front. Could be used to place small vignette inside. Linda likes it, a lot ($40, expensive). Items are from ‘Maker’s Halloween Littles.’ 


. . . Found this while looking for something else. It said, ‘Purchases - The Seasons of Michigan 2010 - David and Linda Spears:From Tracy’s Collectibles: Clown on hand unicycle; Sitting witch with red and white stockings; Running Chinese man with red lantern on pole; Witch in tan dress black cats on skirt, with broom; Sitting Oriental girl, lavender outfit, pink vest, pigtails; Moonshine still (2). From Minithings: Curling brooms (2); Two reindeer playing Twister – Hasbro; Fruit press; Charlie Brown throwing baseball; Golfer, bending over; Babies lying on stomach wearing diapers (3); Howling baby wolves, brown/gray – (6); Lemax weeping willow trees, three sizes, one each. From the Gathering: Event pin and ‘Village Collectors of Michigan’ pin. The list of gifts and prizes was twice as long. With our seminar material, and display contest entry, we really filled our Subaru Outback on the way home. 


. . . ‘Yarmouth’s Bay Discovery’ – Melinda Seegers said “. . . It features a pair of youngsters investigating the shore and a tide pool (with realistic water) on the beach. . ."  It was designed as an accessory for the Dickens’ Village, ‘Great Yarmouth Light,’ an exclusive for  ‘Platinum Retailers.’  The non-exclusive Village accessory was drawn by artist Lynn Maderich. I read about this in Village D-Lights. I can see ‘Discovery’ with our first lighthouse, the Dept. 56, New England Village, ‘Pigeonhead Lighthouse.’ 





. . . Purchased the October/November O Gauge Model Railroading. They mentioned a Christmas village or two coming in the December issue. They almost always show some Dept. 56, or Lemax, village houses and accessories in that issue. 


. . . From an old sign: “A nickel drink, worth a dime! - Pepsi-Cola” 


. . . 2006 Whitby Modial (Mercedes Sprinter) Ice Cream Van, “Coronatois Ice Cream.” Brightly colored, large glass windowed, 1:43 scale vehicle in the ‘food truck’ style. I believe the sign says “Italian Style.” $22.95 Our other food trucks are the bit larger, Lemax variety. 


. . . ‘Jack Daniel's Barrels & Rye,’ 1.18 inches tall – set of three, actually six barrels with a bag of rye and a cat(?) - new for 2017, part of ‘Jack Daniel’s Village, Dept. 56.'  Actually I like the ‘Jack Daniel's Distillery Sign’ and ‘Jack Daniel's Delivery Truck’ too. No plans for any of the buildings, but . . . . ?? 


. . . I was asked about the pirates we purchased at the Naval Pier in San Diego. There was a nice, colorful selection. We bought three, they weren’t expensive. We’ve used them with the Dept. 56 ‘The Emily Louise,’ a couple Lemax boats and even the Dept. 56 ‘Dudley Docker.’ I’ve also seen them on a sand beach and our Lemax wooden docks. 



. . . Stopped at Gordy’s Gift and Garden, Hermantown, MN. They are a flower buying stop for us. And, a large former Dept. 56 dealer. We check each fall to see what they’ve found in the backroom, Dept. 56-wise. Not much this time around. A few older Dickens’ house’s, and a very small group of North Pole and Snow Village accessories. They also continue to show a lot of ‘fairy garden’ items that are display usable. Some at a reasonable cost. The one item I should mention is the seven or eight rural mailboxes on a wooden log and posts. Very colorful, and with a bit of imagination, village size. Most of the stuff I liked is from ‘The Fiddlehead Fairy Garden’ by Story Books. 


. . . Gordy’s also still has the Dept. 56 Dickens’ Village ‘The Old Globe Theatre.’ I’ve always liked the way it looks; round, nicely decorated, with an open interior. But I just know we’d put too many people on the inside stage. And, probably in the audience as well. I did see a ‘mock-up’ of the building divided in half. Good for making use of space, and ease of decorating. To me, it sort of looked broke. I also remember reading about the Globe in Shakespeare classes many years ago. 


. . . I use a camera to take notes (pictures) when we are out and about. Usually Linda’s camera ‘cause I left mine at home. The ‘notes’ are necessary when I need to remember what I see (and write about it later). Linda has a track phone (never used the camera). I‘ve never had a cellphone – just so you know! 


. . . Do you like to add unusual things to your village displays? How about nine classic plastic army men doing yoga poses. You’d have to paint them; they only come in solid/single colors. $25 per set. We saw them in our friend Lisa M’s apartment. Village sized figures from Yoga Joes.



. . . 4th Edition Village D-Tails - I’m still looking for opinions on how it compares with the former versions. We did confirm one thing that we already knew – the new, two book version, is cumbersome to use ‘on the fly.’ Taking it along to a busy home Estate Sale is far from convenient. Most sales don’t allow you to bring in something like a backpack to carry it. A flat surface is also needed to make an entry in the book. At home we do like the 4th Edition for keeping track of our collection. Much easier to use and it doesn’t require both hands keep it open/flat. Note: Remember if you have suggestions to make it better, contact Richard Puckett, 


. . . Linda had a bunch of coupons. You know what that means - we stopped at Michael’s. The label on the bottom says I purchased a couple of “CHRISTMAS MINI EMBELLISHMENTS.” Or, “NOËL, MINI DĖCORATIONS” if you prefer. I think they’re a four person choral group. The adults are three inches tall, kids are smaller. Not well detailed, but colorful with decent proportions. From a couple of feet away they look just fine. Tiny Treasures from Celebrate It. I think they were eight dollars apiece, but remember, we had coupons! Linda purchased some yarn. 


. . . Memories of times past? This week the former co-owner of Pam’s Hallmark stopped by our house; there is an estate sale at the home of the past proprietors of Mainstreet Gifts; and Gordy’s Gifts and Gardens has just put out what‘s left of their village stock. The only other local store we dealt with on a regular basic was CJ’s in Cloquet, MN. All were Dept. 56 dealers and each supported our Village North Collectors Club. Linda and I conducted classes at some of the locations and all held events for the club. Displays by members also appeared in their store windows. We were good for each other (I say with fond memories). 










Just so you know! . . . September 3, 2017


By David Spears


. . . The Summer Issue Village D-Lights arrived at our home on September 1st. The magazine has made many changes beginning with the current issue. First, Editor Erich Gaukel is no longer with the magazine. No mention why or where. . . Village D-Lights is now with Tandem Publishing Group. Polly Clark remains the Publisher. . . Richard Puckett is still mentioned as Contributing Editor. . . Melinda Seegers (Ms. Lit Town), Stephen Pepin, J. Michael Sanders, Richard Puckett, Leigh Gieringer (Guest Contributor), Polly Clark, Matt Gaffney (Puzzle) and Michael Griffith (President of Dept. 56 Village Brands) all have contributions in this issue. . . . The Dept. 56, Christmas In The City, Cathedral of St. Nichols is on the cover. I like that building very much – just so you know!


. . . Christmas cards - it’s time to start planning. Linda designs and makes the cards we give. She likes to use photos we’ve taken. Our 2014 Christmas card picture was from the previous year’s display. It featured the Dept. 56 Simple Traditions, ‘Roasting Marshmallows.’ Purchased in 2002 at Kohl’s. Note: She lets me help. 



. . . I’ve been asked about the Dept. 56 ‘Family Friends’ program. While reading about it on the company website, I noticed the ‘Heritage Village Town Tree Membership Kit.’ It reads “This porcelain matte finish tree will complement Dickens', North Pole, New England, and Alpine Village.” I ask, why not Christmas in the City??


. . . “Ever stop to think. . . and forget to start again?” – Anonymous


. . . Their big sign says “Michael’s – The Arts & Crafts Store” – Didn’t they formally have a different tag line?


. . . Our West Duluth Kmart has no Halloween. Not just villages, no Halloween – at all!! 

A big box store not stocking for a major holiday. The web really shows nothing. Am I missing something? Did KMart cancel Halloween?


. . . Dept. 56 Christmas tree ornaments can make great additions to a display. Four we frequently use are the bicycles with riders. If anyone knows their name, please let me know.



. . . “My favorite son–in-law,” my mother-in-law wrote (talking about me). My wife had four brothers, no sisters. She died in 2012 – we still miss her.


. . . ‘City Express Bus,’ KMart. The two part vehicle bends in the middle. Probably too long/big, but I like the look for a ‘newer’ Christmas in the City display. It’s only $11.00. Toy department - take a look. 


. . .        “I know nothing!!” - Colonel Klink 


. . . How about four NCC Pin Shops ‘acting’ as different businesses? The buildings were ‘The Nutcracker,’ ‘Merry Makers,’ ‘NCC Traders Pin Shop,’ and ‘Bridgeman’s.’ Signs, accessories, and interior light colors were all changed. Does that mean we did a rehab? Heard about rehabs after the Tempe gathering. Note: Immediate background is a wallpaper border.













Just so you know! . . . August 28, 2017


By David Spears 


. . . Received an email from a friend. It began “Just got your latest missive . . . “ I had to be sure what she was saying to me. Looked it up. Missive is defined as: communique, epistle, dispatch, note, message – now I know – this is a missive!


. . . Our displays always look better with people in front of them. Note the 'sign-in book' on the table. Now we know who to invite next year.



. . . For my north of the border friends - I just noticed something from Lemax: ‘Hockey Tryouts.It features four players wearing ‘Canadian uniforms,’ a coach and a dog. They are on a small skating rink. Not animated. Could fit in our Canadian neighborhood – when we build it.


. . . Thanks to Francis for providing me the ID of Harley Quinn. She is a frequent accomplice, and lover, of the Joker. Harley, not Francis. In comic books and animation since 1992. The Suicide Squad in 2016 was ‘her’ live-action cinematic debut. Well, I did ask who she was. 


. . . There are many village accessories with lit fires. Some are better than others. I’m reminded each time I put one in direct sunlight, or under a lamp, that it’s not a good idea. Many look very good, but you have to be able to see the fire. A glow ‘works’ better in the shadows. Lemax has many ‘fires’ currently available. There is a link to their catalog at: 



. . . More than several of our village visitors noticed ‘David taking pictures!’ I’m at the bottom of the bunny hill. I usually wear a hat/cap – just so you know! 



. . . Linda added the paint to make the pagoda stand out. Color makes a wonderful difference. The pagoda came from a hospital gift shop. We bought the pirates on the Navy Pier in San Diego. Not sure why they are in the picture. Note: I remembered why. We brought them all to a Village North Collectors Club meeting for ‘show and tell.’ 



. . . I enjoy looking at the ‘VillageWorld – Minidorp’ website. Mostly I look for ‘people’ from Luville we might use. This time two facades got my attention - ‘Santa’s Workshop’ and ‘The Milk Factory.’ Animated facades - not expecting that. . . . Two Luville skiers are also worth mentioning. We have many people on skis but these are different – look like they are in ‘skiing’ trouble. I like that. It’s called ‘Ski Jumper.’ The Lemax ‘Sidewalk Chalk Artist’ also has my attention. He’s drawing Santa Claus and it’s pretty darn good. Delivery time is a bit delayed (right slygranny?). Luville is a business in the Netherlands. Website available at














 Just so you know! . . . August 24, 2017


By David Spears


. . . The National Council of 56 Clubs presented a check for $32,699.01 to Crops of Luv. That was the official amount donated by attendees at the Tempe, AZ Dept. 56 gathering. Sue Chretien, Vice President of the NCC, thanked all who participated. Info from the NCC Facebook page. 


. . . Halloween is out at our Hermantown, MN Menard’s. They have the small Lemax selection they’ve had the past several years. Not the same items, but the same size selection, well you get it. I like the new house, ‘Creepy Crawler Pet Sitting.’ The animals they call ‘creepy’ are well done and all over the place. A sign “Not responsible for lost limbs” gave me a chuckle. . . . I’m thinking the ‘Haunted Castle’ from Pumpkin Hollow would make a nice background piece for a Dickens’ display. It might be a bit small, but it looks good. The cost is $34.99 (too expensive). Comes with some spooky accessories. 



. . . Stopped at Hobby Lobby. They have a whole lot of Christmas stuff, almost nothing that says ‘village’ to me. I’m disappointed; generally we’ll find something of interest. Not so this time. At least so far. This is August, right? 


. . . Tuggle Family display. ‘Building the North Pole’ on YouTube. I saw the video on The Village Collector web site. 50 hours, 127 houses, 131 trees, 320 elves - three hundred and twenty elves


. . . The black lights in this display make the glass beads glow. A very nice look. Drew a lot of attention. This scene was ‘The Nog Pub’ in our display. I’m trying to confirm the light source is still active. This is from our display in 2013-2014. Elves from Dept. 56, tables from Minithings, glass beads from Michael’s



. . . “You will be surrounded by those who love you.” Good thing I was there. Linda’s fortune cookie at the China Star, Hermantown, MN. Mongolian Chicken was her menu choice for one of her August birthday celebration dinners. 


. . . Rodeo riders from Mills Fleet Farm. It doesn’t seem fair that we have to buy a four or five piece set just to add a rodeo clown to our collection. We haven’t made the purchase – yet! 


. . . It’s new for Dept. 56 Snow Village Halloween. I thought it was interesting, but couldn’t figure out the name – ‘Witch Watch.’ Then I read their description. “Tilly, the Tower Witch uses a centuries old, specially built telescope to look for her sisters in flight. - ” Got it, witch watch! It must have been the eclipse that piqued my interest (I noticed the telescope). She really looks good in the right display. 



. . . I’m thinking ‘The 56 Street Brewery’ should have a real market in a city like Duluth. I’m not sure how many craft and micro-breweries we have, but there are many. I’m thinking each one should have this new Dept. 56 offering on the bar. It comes as a box set that includes a lit house, a three person accessory, a tree and snow. It’s from Snow Village. I don’t drink beer – just so you know! 



. . . Embossing folders from The Paper Studio. They are used to emboss paper when making fancy greeting cards – one of Linda’s hobbies. The folder she showed me was 5 ¼ X 4 inches. With it you could emboss ten rows of 1 X 3/8 inch bricks on a piece of thick paper. Paint it and you have a brick wall. You find these things at craft stores. 


. . . Alpenhorn Serenade. You may remember that because of a thrift store purchase, our Alpine collection is much larger. It might even be Linda’s favorite village. For some reason these Dept. 56 guys keep showing up. In displays, for sale, Dept. 56 web site -we see them everywhere. I like the St. Bernard



. . . This is new to me. I just received an email from Dept. 56. It said: “We noticed that you visited our site recently but didn’t actually make a purchase. Below is a list of your recently viewed items, just in case you wish to return and find them online later.” I didn’t realize that Dept. 56 was doing monitoring. But then everyone is, soooo. 













 Just so you know! . . . . August 17, 2017 


By David Spears


. . . We thought we were going out for pizza and ice cream, er, custard. Came home with display ‘add-ons.’ A stop at ‘Thirsty Pagan Brewing,’ Superior, WI and we found an advertising beverage coaster. It was for the bar/pizza shop – maybe a sign for our displays. At Culver’s Linda spotted a blue plastic knife and fork. She’s thinking of using them with a Dept. 56 North Pole restaurant. The color almost matches the roof of ‘Tillie's Tiny Cup Café.’


. . . Do you remember when Collector Editions was supposed to replace the Village Chronicle? It was with the Winter 2004 issue. Peter and Jeanne George had decided to stop publication of their magazine. Instead Pioneer Communications elected to do an entire magazine devoted to Dept. 56 - Village D-Lights. Linda Kruger was the editor. I had a column – ‘Just so you know!’ 


. . . We use Dept. 56 ‘Fresh Fallen Snow’ for our displays (the winter ones). It doesn’t like to leave your hand as you ‘snow’ your village (it sticks to you). Try putting it in a paper bag and spraying it with ‘Static Guard.’ That solves the ‘electricity’ problem. Hint: don’t use baking soda, salt or sugar as snow in your display. All are corrosive and attract unwanted visitors.


. . . The following information is new from the National Council of 56 Clubs web site: “NCC Fellow Villagers, We are pleased to announce that we have signed a contract to hold our Department 56 Gathering in 2019. The Gathering is to be held at the Cincinnati Airport Marriott on June 20 - 23, 2019. More information will follow in the near future. A special thanks goes out to Joe Meyers for all his hard work throughout the contract negotiations. . . . Sincerely, The QCV Gathering Team 


. . . “Know who gets the longest vacation every year? Santa Claus.” From The Family Circus by Bill Keane. 


. . . We’re driving down a county road. All of a sudden it’s “stop!” - Linda has spotted a future village tree. Down in the ditch she goes and picks a whole bunch of weed/flowers. She trims them, gets rid of the rough edges. Next the stems of the weed are taped to a length of floral wire. She then wraps it all with brown floral tape. Spray painting the flower end different colors finishes the ‘trees.’ We use many colors for variety; depict seasons or maybe to separate areas of a display. 



. . . Checked with a local Menard’s store. They do have Lemax Halloween on their ‘shelf plan.’ Should be out before the end of August. 


. . . Looking for houses to use outside for a Halloween display? I spotted two cookie jars and a candle holder at Saver’s. All looked like houses decorated for the season. The jars were ‘village size’ and brightly colored. The holder was pretty small, but I’ll bet we could find a use for it. Of course, we do very little Halloween.


. . . I was going to share John and Gerry Facebook greetings from Saskatoon. But I can’t spell Saskatchewan. Looked like it was fun. They were on a mystery bus trip. 


. . . “56 on the Square, Woodstock, Illinois” – that’s what it says on a blue and silver pen I just found. It was in my ‘2008 NCC Comes Home to D56’ goodie bag. I’m confused, I use the bag all the time, why is it I find an Illinois pen now? 


. . . A Tuk-Tuk is essentially a rickshaw with a small engine fitted in. They have been used in Thailand for ‘taxi-type’ transportation. We use a couple of them in an Oriental display, or maybe even Christmas in the City. Matchbox Toys has a new version for 2017. Now that I’ve see them up close, I’ll not be buying! Too small (I knew that) and really not very well done. So why did I mention it? 



. . . You were born on August 17, but you knew that. Happy Birthday Linda!! 


. . . Can you have too many Santa Claus in your collection? If you would like one a bit different, how about this. It’s from Luville, ‘Reindeer Teasing Santa.’ I call it a tug of war. Not sure what a reindeer wants with a bag of Christmas gifts. 



. . . Summer issue of Village D-Lights?? Anyone received their copy? Don’t think my subscription has expired. I will check.



. . . Labor Day – The United States Department of Labor web site says (in part) . . . . “It is appropriate . . . that the nation pay tribute on Labor Day to the creator of so much of the nation's strength, freedom, and leadership — the American worker.” I know the first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City. In my growing up years, all I remember is a downtown parade and several large picnics with lots of food. What do you do for a display/vignette? I mean besides a parade and picnic. 











 Just so you know! . . . . August 11, 2017 


By David Spears 


. . . Ms. Lit Town - No phone contact with Melinda Seeger ‘til September 5. 1-800 (LIT TOWN) 548-8696. Dept. 56 is making system changes/improvements. You may still email her, after August 14, when she returns from vacation. All the customer service contacts are operating normally on 


. . . Linda’s family heirloom China cabinet has a background mirror. We used it to double the size of our golf course. Note: there are only two golf greens in the display.




. . . Have you ever heard a CD player rattle when you shake it? It was a first for my ‘computer person’ brother. Our desktop computer ate a CD – it came out in too many pieces to count. A new one is on order. 




. . . This was a surprise. He looked the part: dressed in a black T-shirt and jeans; tall, husky, maybe a tatoo or two, pleasant smile. The gentleman biker purchased the ‘Reaper Motorcycle Company.’ It’s a, new for 2017, Spooky Town offering from Lemax. Note: While I was still there, he came back to see if it was on sale. He didn’t want to waste his Michael’s coupon. 



. . . From a 1993 Disney movie, Tim Burton’s ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ Black Light Village. See at I saw a picture on the National Council of 56 Clubs Facebook page. If we did a Halloween display, I’d take a look. I like the buildings, the ‘people’ are a bit much for me. 


. . . ‘A Closer Look’ is about doing the little things that make a difference, make them better, more fun, more interesting. We’re talking about displays and that is part of what I do. Should I be jealous, or maybe Bill (The Village Collector person in charge) is making sure I don’t work too hard. Oh, in case you hadn’t noticed, ‘A Closer Look’ is planned feature for this web site 


. . . Our Michael’s has Halloween on the shelves. That includes the 2017 Spooky Town from Lemax. They show ten new buildings, not all are actually houses. Two are carnival rides and one is the ‘Creepy Camper.’ Of the fifteen new accessories, Linda likes the ‘Black Cat Millinery’ and I like the kids ‘Ready, Set-Treats.’ Both are pictured below. to see everything offered at Michael’s.




. . . Remember, past words from ‘Just so you know!’ are available on this ‘The Village Collectors’ web site. There will be an even larger history of the columns in the near future. My writings will not be on any schedule. When I have a new thought, learn something, receive a comment, suggestion, or question, I’ll write. Any and all input is much appreciated. 


. . . 1996 PA5-6000, Lancaster PA. That’s the Dept. 56 gathering Billy Edwards recently found some fun stuff from. He continues to share his memories on the NCC Facebook page. You have to remember that that he attended those events. 


. . . Welcome to Larry Treadwell. He will be sharing the 2017 story of Hauntsville with all of us. If you don’t know Larry, he’s a story teller with words to accompany the images of his Halloween display. If we’re lucky, he’ll honor us with his Christmas display/story as well.



. . . Today (August 11) is the 25th Anniversary of the Mall of America, Bloomington, MN. Minnesota, home of Dept. 56, and not a Dept. 56 dealer inside the walls. I found that fact amazing when I researched the information on the company web site. For personal background, I visited the company store in the MOA maybe six or eight times. All but one of the times, that store was the reason we were there. Not many visits, but in those days there were many dealers in the one hundred- fifty plus miles between here and there. I just find it sad. 







Just so you know! . . . . August 6, 2017 


By David Spears 


. . . I’m thinking the Dept. 56 Margaritaville accessories/people would go very well with some items we already have. Our ‘beach house’ and bus were purchased in the Dominican Republic. We were there for a wedding (not ours) in 2009. Flowers from Minithings;   Mariachi Band - Our Town from Pretty Petals; sand from sawdust. I think the new ‘Parrot Head King’ would fit right into the scene. That’s him, twice, just below. Of course it could be ‘A Couple of Cheeseburgers in Paradise,’ or my favorite, ‘Rocking Away in Margaritiaville’ – a couple eating or a guitar player. 



. . . ‘Paws & Refresh,’ from Dept. 56, was introduced in 2007 (and is still current). In my last column I mistakenly said the dog and fire hydrant were new. Thanks to Kathy for reading and correcting. 


. . . ‘Windsor Castle’ was on the cover of the Premier Issue of Village D-Lights, February/ March 2005. The façade is part of the Dept. 56 Historical Landmark Series. ‘Just so you know!’ was on page 32. It featured a picture of ‘Angel’s Wings’ from Lemax. Below is the same accessory, different picture. A favorite in our displays each year. 



. . . I’d forgotten how effective the Dept. 56 ‘Village Sounds’ are. Listening on The Village Collectors web site reminded me. I made a note to remind us to use our tape in the village display sound system this season. 


. . . Linda brought home another plastic container. A salad was the original content. We use many of them to store village accessories (that don’t have boxes). I took her to Wendy’s for lunch. I know - what a guy. 


. . . 4th Edition Village D-Tails - Noticed that the index in each volume is for that volume only. It confused me for a minute or two, well five. I’m sure it says that somewhere, but I might not remember something like that (‘cause it makes sense). 



. . . There are no ‘official’ U.S. holidays in August. Linda reminds me we can/do celebrate her birthday – all month! 








 Just so you know! . . . . August 3, 2017 


By David Spears


. . . Western Snow Plows – TV advertisement on July 31st - July 31st !! Don’t they know we don’t have snow on the ground - yet! Note: same ad as last year.


. . . Found some useable display items in PetSmart (Duluth, MN). How about a colorful surfboard set to use with the new Dept. 56 Margaritaville. Four inches tall - the colors sure look good. There was also a beach sign and a seagull on a pier/piling available. An Oriental gate is worth looking at (not for Margaritiaville). $9.99, Top Fin Surfboards. All items are intended for aquarium use. 


. . . Summer issue of Village D-Lights?? Folks used to ask me when to expect it. Now I ask others. Anyone received their copy? 


. . . Homies Clowns Series sets 1 and 2 – I just realized we need Series 2. I believe we have thirty plus total clowns available for use in our village displays - mostly in our carnival. These are a bit small to be ‘village size,’ but no one seems to complain. Note: looking at the picture, most of our other clowns are more ‘normal.’ 



. . . August 1, 2017, Christmas trees on display at Hobby Lobby (Duluth, MN). Maybe before that date, but we just saw them. 




. . . Have you seen the new Dept. 56 ‘Paws & Refresh?’ We’ve had several dogs peeing for ten years (did I say that right?). They came from Concord Miniatures and Walmart Holiday Times. For some reason people noticed them and smiled. Of course we keep breaking their leg(s) – the one in the air. The Dept. 56 dog and fire hydrant combo is porcelain, 1.5 inches tall, and costs $12.50. 


. . . My writings on The Village Collector will not be on any schedule. When I have a new thought, learn something, receive a comment, suggestion, or question, I’ll write. Any and all input is much appreciated. 


. . . Folks have asked who the little people are they saw scattered around the rides in the picture including the Dept. 56 ‘Twirling Tea Cups.’ It appeared in the June 29th ‘Just so you know.’ They are Homies! We mostly found them in ‘bubble gum’ machines. Even more at Spencer Gifts, Miller Hill Mall, Duluth, MN. Images can be seen at:


. . . Dept. 56 Christmas In The City ‘Majestic Theater’ 25th Anniversary edition. It was released in 2000. We saw one on the shelf at G & L Country Barn Christmas Shop, Windham, CT. Why didn’t we buy it? Don’t make that mistake! We were there after the Northeast Harvest Gathering in 2013. They were planning on closing the store in 2014 (according to my notes). . . . . We also thought the airplane show below was an interesting addition to their New England Village display. We didn’t purchase that one either. I remember saying something about taking extra stuff home on the plane. Yes, I’m familiar with USPS, FedEx, UPS – just so you know! 




. . . 4th Edition Village D-Tails - I’m still looking for opinions on how it compares with the former versions. One I received was the ability to modify/change the books to fit your needs. Example: If you don’t collect all villages, put the ones you do collect together in the same book. Suggestions to make it even better should go to Richard Puckett,



. . . Saw a recent on-line image of a ski jump. It was in a North Pole display on the National Council of 56 Clubs Facebook Page. Bright red! It looked like lots of fun. I thought I’d share our John Rapacz ski jump. Attractive, very well done and attracts attention. John could maybe tell us how long we’ve had it (well over ten years). The ‘jumper’ is from Joann Fabrics, all but one of the other skiers are Lemax. Linda trained me to make rocky backgrounds. 












 Just so you know! . . . . July 29, 2017 


By David Spears 


. . . I noticed a box of Keebler Graham Crackers on the kitchen table. It had the cutest elf in the corner (well, ‘he’s’ a picture). I’m looking to see if he’s available, village size, and in 3D. I think he would look great in our North Pole. And, very few others would have one! 


. . . Club Fundraiser – Her name is Beth and she donated a bunch of Dept. 56 North Pole pieces. They were from a family member who longer had room, nor an interest in keeping them. Our Village North Collectors Club is hosting an annual garage sale fundraiser for the Essentia Health NICU in Duluth, MN. They will receive all proceeds. 


. . . The University of Minnesota/ Duluth announced they are replacing the chemistry building on campus. They said the current building was open in the first half of the last century. Hey, wait a minute – I went to UMD in the first half of the last century. It’s OK, I didn’t take chemistry. 


. . . Have not yet received the summer issue of Village D-Lights - Just so you know! 


. . . If you are looking for replacement parts/pieces for Dept. 56 houses/ accessories, now is the time to contact Ms. Lit Town. Call 1-800-548-8696. You get faster service and it makes it a whole lot easier for those in Eden Prairie. Don’t forget to call between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., Monday thru Friday. They try their best all the time, but the closer to Christmas, the busier they get. Please say ‘Hi!’ to Melinda Seegers for me.


. . . Always looking for comments, suggestions, questions, etc. Any and all input is much appreciated.


. . . Remember, no more Minnesota 56 Clubs web site as of August 1, 2017. I’m going to miss ‘working’ with Dave Erickson. He has been putting up with me for many years and has certainly taught me a bunch of things. Thanks Dave! He is retiring – again! 


. . . A couple visiting our garden party brought gifts. Among them an Alco, Brougham, and Victoria. I didn’t know any automobiles with those names. There was also a Buick, Pierce Arrow and Ford Model T. They are two and one half inch little cars. Two small for our village people but I’ll bet they’ll work in a kids playground or maybe a carnival. Thanks to Dan and Karen. 

. . . ‘Cocoa Cups,’ interesting carnival ride from Lemax new for 2017. It features passengers in eight ‘cups.’ I prefer the Dept. 56 ‘Twirling Tea Cups.’ Ours came with three cups, it now has six. If you look close, you will notice three are dressed for winter, three for summer. Note: it stopped operating the day before our 2017 village open house. Thus the sign, “Closed for repairs.” 


. . . 2018 Dept. 56 gathering ‘Sweet Home Chicago.’ It will be held September 27-30, 2018. Crowne Plaza Hotel Chicago O’Hare, Rosemont, IL. For further info: The committee is beginning to add info, keep the web site handy. 


. . . Has anyone begun using the new 4th Edition Village D-Tails? I’m looking for opinions on how it compares with the former versions. 


. . . Lemax has new, animated ‘Skateboard Mushers,’ and ‘Clearing The Ice’ accessories. I think they are worth looking at. Remember, we live in northern Minnesota (snow and ice are part of life). ‘The Bike Ride’ was interesting as well. It has three young girls with training wheels on their bicycles. Detail is not good, but it’s a cute idea.   All are new for 2017. 





 Just so you know! . . . . July 16, 2017 

By David Spears 


. . . The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research is the announced charity for the 2018 gathering ‘Sweet Home Chicago.It will be held September 27-30, 2018. Crowne Plaza Hotel Chicago O’Hare, Rosemont, IL. For further info: 


. . . 4th Edition Village D-Tails. Linda and I spent an hour plus beginning to post our new Village D-Tails. Entering what we own is what I mean by ‘post.’ So far we managed to ‘do’ Snow Village (very limited numbers) and Dickens’. We can tell you it is easy to find items and post them. We used an orange ‘highlighter.’ The flat, open pages, makes writing so much easier. So far most everything is where we expected it to be. We also posted the ‘Handbook’ as we went along. Both being in date order makes it the smart thing to do. Will say more as our experience grows (or I receive more input from others). 


. . . 46.50 N Lat, 92.10 W Long, Elev. 1250 feet. That’s where we live. My QSL card says so. Note: That’s actually on top of the hill in Duluth, MN. Amateur radio operators confirm on-air contacts with QSL cards. My call sign is WBØZAH – just so you know! 


. . . A Christmas tree ornament from Millie's in Tempe, AZ. I’m guessing John and Gerry McGraw are using it in ‘Margaritaville’ – their new collection. Yes, I like it too! 



. . .‘Round Up’ a 2012 Lemax Carnival piece – I would like opinions from folks who have one, or have at least have seen one in person. I sort of like the idea of the way it looks, not sure about the motion. We already have a carnival with seventeen animated rides. Gotta be careful/thoughtful before we make another purchase. How does it look in a carnival display? Wouldn’t mind opinions on ‘The Cosmic Swing’and/or the ‘The Snowflake Drop’ as well. Thanks! 


. . . Miles Wood and Tom Taylor sent us a ‘Hi!’ from the gathering in Tempe, AZ. It came via Village North Collectors Club members, Gerry and John McGraw. I believe the 2013 NE Harvest Gathering in Connecticut was the last time we visited with Miles and Tom. Very nice to hear from them again. 



. . . Nano Metalfigs, Walmart, $1.00. They offer a choice of twenty-three different action figures. I purchased Harley Quinn (from Suicide Squad), Jada Toys, Inc.1 ¾ inches tall (looks smaller), 100% die-cast metal. I don’t recognize Mr. Freeze, Killer Croc, Katana, Commissioner Gordon, Cyborg and or course, Harley Quinn. Harley looks like a clown, in a red and black costume. She is leaning against a very large, black gavel. All of the ‘people’ are too skinny, and short, to be used has normal folks in any village. But they could certainly be used in a carnival, or on a parade float, etc. 


. . . Really been enjoying reading the National Council of 56 Clubs Facebook page. Especially Mr. Billy Edwards (and Sharon) and their recent travels. Now they are in the ‘NCC history mode.’ It’s worth a look. 


. . . Thomas Kincade ‘Snow-Kissed Holiday Memories’ – Masterpiece Snow Globe Tree – I think it’s my first Christmas ad. Came in today’s newspaper. Sure doesn’t look like anything we’d purchase.


. . . Remember Linda and I will host our annual ‘Garden Party’ on Tuesday, July 25, 10 to 4. The flowers are looking good. 


. . . Remember, no more Minnesota 56 Clubs web site as of August 1, 2017. Until I find a place, it will soon be email only for ‘Just so you know!’ Still looking for a place – suggestions welcome. 





 Just so you know! . . . . July 7, 2017 


By David Spears 


. . . I didn't realize these people (elves and Mr. and Mrs. Claus) were so darned cute. The Dept. 56 North Pole 'Peppermint Skating Party' was available at recent estate sale - we bought it! I un-wrapped it and discovered how smart we were with the purchase (‘cause of the cute elves). Not sure we have room for more skating elves but I’ll bet we'll find a way (Linda is pretty clever). 



. . . We now have our NCC 25th Anniversary pieces (umbrella couple and clock). Thanks to John and Gerry McGraw for their personal pickup (in Tempe, AZ) and delivery (in Duluth, MN). I understand the McGraw’s found the maximum capacity of their car. Another purchase and one of them would have had to stay in Arizona. Thanks to Diane Welch, gathering Registration Chair, for making it all possible. Also, enjoyed their Margaritaville story. The McGraw’s have begun a new collection. 


. . . Anything new?? . . . ‘Sweet Home Chicago,’ September 27-30, 2018. Crowne Plaza Hotel Chicago O’Hare, 5440 N River Rd, Rosemont, IL 60018. $119.00 + tax (reservations mid-October 2017). Parking: $14.00 per night with in and out privileges. 


. . . Very few words seen/heard on the 4th Edition Village D-Tails. Is that good or bad? We haven’t posted ours yet (with the Dept. 56 items we possess). 

. . . The NCC Facebook page has a recent post by Red Misha. It features an old bakery he rehabed into an 'Ugly Sweater Shop.' It looks great! We have something, from Lemax, that looks like they were made to go together. Linda 'rehabed' the Lemax Ugly Sweater accessory. All four of the guys are now wearing ugly sweaters.



. . . I listened to several minutes of fireworks on the radio. How do I know? They told me, "you are listening to fireworks on the radio." Below is a Facebook link to the 2017 fireworks in Duluth, MN. In the distance you can see the fireworks across the Bay in Superior, WI 


. . . The neighbor had several items sitting by the curb. Two signs indicated they were free. A car pulled up, the driver got out, picked up the two signs, put them in his trunk and drove away. ‘Free’ signs . . . . . ??? 


. . . I didn't know I had a Village D-Lights T-shirt. "Miniature Enthusiasts Unite" on the front and "Village D-Lights" on the back. "I don't remember ever seeing it before. It must be mine, it was in my dresser. - NP Sue (on Yahoo) said “I remember them selling the T-shirts at some gathering years ago. Don't remember which one.” - It is a color I like. Maybe I made a purchase at a gathering. 


. . . No more Minnesota 56 Clubs web site (as of August 2017). Thanks to Dave Erickson for all his work on behalf of the clubs (and for putting up with me). He probably won’t mention it, but I’m sometimes tough to train. 


. . . Linda said “My sandwich is so good I’m coming back here without a coupon!” We were having lunch at Casa Latte in Hermantown, MN. My turkey, apple, spinach, cheese sandwich was also more than worth repeating – we will go back. 







 Just so you know! . . . . June 25, 2017 


By David Spears 


 . . . No one has given me an idea for a village vignette in our gardens. The picture below is of some pots I filled. That’s to show you we do have flowers in northern Minnesota. I still need help! 



. . . Melinda Seegers, Dept. 56, made a quilt for the Tempe gathering. Silver, black and white. I saw many images, very nice looking. Bet it looked great ‘in person.’ 


. . . Looking to see when we attended our first gathering, I discovered some interesting things. One, members of our Village North Collectors Club had ten sessions of display construction in 1999. It was our clubs entry for the display contest at Bachman’s Gathering in August of that year. When completed, it barely, just barely, fit in the back of a pickup truck (with topper). We won no awards at the gathering but our display received lots of attention. A picture was even posted on-line. That was unusual in 1999 (and a first for our club). The display was the Lake Superior shoreline from the Aerial Bridge to Glensheen Mansionin Duluth.


. . . ‘Sweet Home Chicago,’ September 27-30, 2018. Crowne Plaza Hotel Chicago O’Hare, 5440 N River Rd, Rosemont, IL 60018. $119.00 + tax (reservations mid-October 2017). Parking: $14.00 per night with in and out privileges. 


. . . The ad for the estate sale said “tremendous amount of Dept. 56.” We were there the afternoon of the fourth day and we still spent $74.25. We left much more than we bought – just so you know! The horse cookie cutter will not be used in our displays. 



. . . Congratulations to Collector of the Year Debbie Shelgren. Named so by the National Council of 56 Clubs at the recent Tempe, AZ gathering. 


. . . Melinda Seegers – Dept. 56, and Harry and June McGowan – Dept. 56 Retirees, were the first to be awarded the NCC Presidents Award. – It is a milestone award that will be presented annually, beginning with the organization’s 25th Anniversary. The award shall have a broad reach in an effort to recognize an individual, individuals or entity who through their selfless actions have left a permanent and positive imprint on the National Council of 56 Clubs, its Member Clubs and Department 56 collecting. Recipients may include Department 56 employees, NCC officers, Clubs, individual collector(s), Associate Members, retailers and the like. The award(s) shall be presented, publicly, at the gathering of the sitting President's choice. 


. . . I really enjoyed all the images posted from the Silver Rush 25th Anniversary Gathering. Saw pictures of a bunch of friends. Thanks to Pete N Trudi Baer for all their work. 


. . . We were at the Park Point Art Fair in Duluth, MN. Linda saw a ‘tower’ she liked for our gardens. I think it looks like a rocket. The artist built it from heavy metal. Its maybe eighteen inches tall, made to be placed on top of a piece of re-rod. Just don’t think it will work in a village display. 









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November 3, 2017






David Spears

105 East Toledo Street

Duluth, MN 55811

(218) 724-6148