July 28, 2020

 Just so you know! . . . . July 26, 2020 

Ideas, hints and opinions 

By David Spears 




 . . . It must be been my card, my name is on it. A Department 56 Heritage Village Collection  VISA Platinum Card - expired 09/02. The front of the card is a picture of a village display. I wonder if I ever used the card. 




 . . . Repeat question: Dept 56 Retirees – what can anyone tell me about them. Their ad exists on the National Council of 56 Clubs web site. Their own web site is still online. Am I missing something, I haven’t heard from Harry & June McGowan for a long time. Note: No reply to my recent email questions to them. 





. . . I was asked, so here's the answer: My column, 'Just so you know!' appeared in each issue of Village D-Lights from 2004 to Fall 2016. My words were on the 'MN 56 Clubs' web site even before than that. 'The Village Collector' has been kind enough provide a spot for what I say, most of the time, since 2017. My thanks to Editor Linda Kruger, and webmasters Dave Erickson and Bill Channell. - More than you wanted to know? 




. . . I have gnomes in our gardens now (outside/summer). She is very particular when I place my gnomes – says they are mean. Linda doesn't want them near her garden fairies. Maybe I can get gnomes for our winter (inside) displays. No garden fairies inside. Lemax has assisted me with ‘Christmas Garden Gnomes.’ The three piece set, was introduced for 2020. 1.25 inches tall. Note: In case you are familiar with them, these do not look like the Lemax Spooky Town ‘Zombie Garden Gnomes’ – these look friendly, not scary. 





. . . Lemax 2020 Spooky Town is at Michael's – it’s still July right? Our local store has the larger items out on their display. The scary people, and smaller accessories, were there but in packages hanging on the display. The Lemax Michael's Exclusives (houses) are: ‘Hideous Harry’s Toy Factory,’ ‘Black Raven Manor,’ ‘Zombie Jazz Café,’ and ‘Jack’s Pumpkin Farm.’ Remember, we have no Halloween displays at our house. For some reason I like the colors of the café. For all from Michael’s: Note: The usual Michael’s web sites made it tough for me to copy images of the above, so I didn’t do any - maybe later. 



 . . . Facebook Live with Ms. Lit Town, Thursday, July 23. The subject of most of Melinda Seegers conversation was Dept. 56 village animation. I discovered we have a first Dept. 56 animated piece, the ‘Animated Skating Pond.’ It was introduced in 1994. Included were four/five skaters plus a snowman and a dog. The last two are on the snowbank. It’s pretty large, but it still works fine. 


. . . Holidays: Aug 17, Linda’s Birthday; Sept 7, Labor Day; Sept 22, Autumn begins; Oct 31, Halloween; Nov 11, Veterans Day; and Nov 26, Thanksgiving



. . . Looking for Retired Dept. 56 Products? Try: It says “new” on the site and it shows a goodly amount of stuff – take a look. Shown are: ‘Original Snow Village,’ ‘Dickens’ Village,’ ‘North Pole Village’ and ‘Snowbabies’ - Note: It’s on the Dept. 56 web site. 




. . . Dept. 56 Gift Cards have been added to their web site. Right now they are offering 10% off when you buy the card. This is all on-line, you will not receive, or send, a ‘real’ card. Look on the Dept. 56 web site for details. 


. . . Take a look at the video of ‘Jack’s Pumpkin Patch.’ The animation has interesting movement. The little boy is pushing his choice of pumpkins, his sister is still thinking about hers. The gray flat surface, and ‘fall colored’ base, gives the piece a nice look. It’s a Department 56 Halloween Village 2020 introduction. 


. . . I have three notes that all say something like: “London Skating Club; belt with magnets; very popular.” Now that I think about it, Melinda Seegers said those words on Dept. 56 Facebook Live. I should be looking at ordering one of those ‘belts with magnets’ for our London Skating Club.


. . . July 26th is ‘National All or Nothing Day.’ It allows you to throw caution to the wind and go for broke. 


. . . Linda walked by my monitor and said “I like that!” (see below) This was a combo ‘Christmas In The City’ display: Dept. 56 buildings and accessories; Holiday Time people and one of Linda’s calendar ‘finds’ as the background. It looked good in person too. 



. . . ‘Hideous Harry’s Toy Factory’ - The colors clash wonderfully and it just isn’t good looking. I’m thinking this Lemax Spooky Town 2020 introduction would work in a carnival. I didn’t note the price, but I do know the ‘houses’ are getting more expensive each year – even with coupons and a ‘percent off.’ All of our Michael’s Lemax purchases the past few years have been ‘end of season,’ or even the display pieces. 



. . . Thanks to all who comment, question or reply on/to JSYK – I appreciate every word. 



. . . I saw on TV that some of the Beefeaters are going to be laid off. Those are the folks who guard the Tower of London. I’ve discovered our Dept. 56 Dickens’ ‘Yeoman of the Guard’ aren’t the same ‘people.’ However, we are going to make sure our version will all ‘work’ in our display this year anyway. Gotta help out when we can. Their actual title is: ‘Yeomen Warders of Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress the Tower of London, and Members of the Sovereign's Body Guard of the Yeoman Guard Extraordinary.’ There are 37 Yeomen Warders and one Chief Warder. All must have honorably retired from the British military with at least 22 years of service. 


. . . Have I mentioned Linda has shared a new talent with me – she is now cutting my hair. It doesn’t take long. 



. . . Facebook Live with Ms. Lit Town, Melinda Seegers – next date, Thursday, August 6th, 4 p.m. No subject given. 


. . . No ‘work’ on our planned summer village display. Pieces are still sitting on the shelf over there – he says pointing toward the kitchen door. 


. . . Department 56 had a recent ad on Facebook. “College Park Airport in Maryland is the oldest US airport that is still in operation today. It was established in 1909 as a training field for the Wright brothers.” I know its Snow Village, maybe the ‘Blue Skies Airport’ will work in a vignette. I’ve always liked airplanes and we have several (village size). It could use a place to park them. The ad continues “Recognizing the history of smaller regional airports, Blue Skies pays tribute to small plane pilots and hobbyists.” My connection to planes: My uncle and aunt ran a small regional airport; I retired from MN Air National Guard after 34 years (not as a pilot); Cirrus Aircraft has a manufacturing facility in Duluth. 


. . . I did a quick search of our "Under the NCC Umbrella" selection: We have the March 2000, yellow color, California Gold Gathering, Irvine, CA; June 2000, green color, TGIF, Ft. Lauderdale, FL; Red color, Int’l Collectible Exposition, Rosemont, IL; March 2001 blue color, MAVG, Williamsburg, VA; August 2001, silver color, Dept. 56 Silver Anniversary Celebration, St. Paul, MN. Linda and I were only able to attend the ‘local’ event. Friends, and the NCC, helped us with the rest of them. Note: Now I have to find our ‘blue’ version. 


. . . I’ve seen mention of ‘TVC Christmas Village Collectors ‘Village Fest 2022’ A Gathering. Bill has a ‘tease,’ with a fancy logo, on his web site. Now you know as much as I do (or more) 


Questions, comments and/or suggestions

are always welcome.


David Spears

105 East Toledo Street

Duluth, MN 55811

(218) 724-6148




Just so you know! . . . . July 14, 2020

Ideas, hints and opinions

by David Spears


 . . . Dept. 56 2020 Midyear Village releases: Comments, some images, somewhere below. Thanks to SuzyQ for pointing me in the right direction. 


. . . Have you ever ridden/driven a Segway? I always liked the concept of the two-wheeled personal transporter. I did get to use one several times – it was a lot of fun. The company has quit producing them – just so you know! Note: I never bought one (or even thought seriously about it :). 


. . . Well, it was Ms. Lit Town, Melinda Seegers, who hosted the June 25th Dept. 56 Facebook Live. After ten weeks I was wondering who it would be. She spoke mostly about the 2020 Midyear intros. My note says they are scheduled to arrive in late summer. 


. . . The theme/title for the Dept. 56 2020 Village Midyears Gift Sets is ‘Building Christmas Cheer.’ I understand it means building a snowman. Each of the three sets has a snowman featured accessory. The Snow Village version has a black silk hat, and a young boy sharing his green scarf; Dickens’ Village snowman is not made of big snowballs. Also has a woolen cap and a straw broom; Building the North Pole snowman was a test. Take a look; I don’t think the elf who built it is getting a passing grade. Sets, including building, accessory, sisal tree and bag of snow, are $99. 


. . . Dept. 56 Mid-Year 2020 Village Introductions: Snow Village, ‘Building Christmas Cheer’ Dickens’ Village, ‘Building Christmas Cheer’ North Pole Village, ‘Building Christmas Cheer’ Snow Village Halloween ‘Red’s Roach Coach,’ ‘You Are What You Eat,’ ‘Rat-Catcher,’ ‘Rest In Peace, 2020’ Alpine Village, ‘Christmas Market, Wine Booth.'


. . . "Santa's elves at the North Pole have just opened a new academy just for the Snowman building! Filled with all the different types of supplies, here, the elves can share new innovations, all while practicing their latest design techniques." That's the Dept. 56 description of the North Pole Village 2020 Mid-Year release 'Building Christmas Cheer.'




. . . I was reminded of the dates for mailing for future Village D-Lights. The Summer issue is scheduled for July 30. Others are October 15 for Fall, December 31 for Winter and May 15 for Spring. Have no idea if that is still the case or not. 


. . . Essentia Health plans to open a Ronald McDonald House in Duluth. It is expected to be available late fall. The location will be on the 4th floor, the Fifth Avenue Building (of the Essentia Health-St. Mary’s Medical Center). It will have five bedrooms, a full kitchen, family room, laundry and pantry. Our Village North Collectors Club has been supporting Ronald McDonald for many years. Our current fundraisers are an annual garage sale and collection of pop tabs.


. . . ‘The Village Collector’ web site: Since start-up on May 20, 2017, visitors from 122 countries, all 50 U.S. states, and 10 Canadian provinces. 


. . . My doctor asked if anyone in my family was suffering from mental illness. I said; “no, we all seem to enjoy it.” Saw on Facebook 


. . . Not sure what warm spice mulled wine tastes like, but I understand it’s called Glühwein. Linda enjoys an occasional glass of wine and I like our Alpine Christmas Market so we’ll have to see (what happens). We have a friend with a wine vignette display. We have shared a picture of this 2020 Dept. 56 Mid-Year intro for Alpine Village, ‘Christmas Market, Wine Booth’ with her. A mug of wine is being served by the waitress accessory. Note: The Christmas Market Booths were introduced in 2008. We have three of them.



. . . A Department 56 Vignette Display Contest was introduced June 25 on Facebook Live with Ms. Lit Town. We are asked to submit images of a small Halloween display (we make). Entries must be submitted by September 15. The vignettes will be judged by in-house village artists Paul Lundberg, Scott Enter, Tom Bates and Creative Director Rick Jackson. Winners will be announced on Facebook Live in October. The grand prize winners will receive a signed Halloween piece. Details are available at: 


. . . Several folks have contacted me saying the new Village D-Tails supplement has arrived. Most seem to be OK with the content. All mentioned the holes for placement in the books are not exactly in the same place (as past versions). Note: They did say the pages fit in the books. I have not yet received mine. I emailed the publisher to make sure all was well with my order. No so far. 



. . . ‘The Tin Can,’ is a Lemax 2020 introduction (see below). We have a fairly large Dept. 56 and Lemax carnival display - lots of animated rides and a fun midway. We enjoy the carnival (and so do many of our visitors). Maybe we can use one more ‘place to play.’ 




. . . July 9, 4:00 p.m. CST next Facebook Live – Watched the episode, Ms. Lit Town said planned ‘animation’ will be next time


. . . I was reminded what took place the first time Linda helped with a village display. She had to convince me the streets didn’t have to be straight. Nor did every house need a driveway. I believed her, but I was a slow learner. Note: I had only fourteen buildings at the time: Eleven Coca Cola and three Dept. 56. This had to be over 25 years ago. 


. . . Happened to wear a Dept. 56 T-shirt to work in the yard/gardens. Not sure if we got it during our first visit to Dept. 56 at 1 Village Place, or at a gathering. The shirts must have been co-sponsored by VISA. 


. . . Sure looks like no 2020 Lemax American this summer. Nothing on the Michael’s web site (or any of the Lemax sites). As I’ve said, we need a couple more ‘things’ for our summer vignette. Hopefully next year. 


. . . What so you think, would it be OK to use the ‘Victorian Show Jumping’ with ‘The Steeplechase?’ I know they are participating in different equestrian events, but they are all on horseback (and jumping over hedges). OK, after saying it out loud it didn’t sound, well let’s say, very sensible. Maybe I’ll use them in different locations in a vignette. I could also add the ‘Polo Players’ to make an entire ‘horse’ scene. All are Dept. 56 Dickens’ Village. 





. . . The Village Phone Book, second edition, was released in 1995. For some reason I’d never heard of it (‘til Bill Channell mentioned it). 324 pages, info on 4000 dealers and hundreds of collector clubs. Published by New Jersey's Gina Stevenson. Back in The Golden age of Villaging, Bill and Kathy (his lovely wife) took the book with them on every road trip. They even planned a few weekends around how many dealer display they could check off. It quickly became their most used Dept. 56 resource. Bill was kind enough to provide the image of their Village Phone Book (below). 








. . . Bill got me thinking about the ‘Golden Age of Villaging.’ Not sure when I acquired my first village piece, a Cavanagh Coca-Cola building. But I know the beginning of our Village North club was 1996; we attended the Bachmann Gathering (1999); the Dept. 56 25th Anniversary event (2001); and visiting Dept. 56 HQ in Eden Prairie (2009). Note that all were in Minnesota and only 150 miles from home. Let’s see what else, Lake Minnetonka luncheon cruise with the other Minnesota 56 clubs; 2002 Minnesota Gathering; I guess that’s enough thinking of the past . . . . for now. 






. . . No open garden party in our yard this year – very disappointing (for us). 


. . . In an earlier JSYK, I mentioned I liked the two children who move around the yard. They are part of the, new for 2020, ‘Building a Snowman.’ Ms. Lit Town said today the kids have been ordered by Dept. 56 to be available as replacement parts. I don’t think I need to have them move, but they are cute kids collecting ‘stuff’ to build a snowman. That makes them a possible purchase. 


. . . Holidays: August 17, Linda’s Birthday; September 7, Labor Day; September 22, Autumn begins; and October 31, Halloween






 Just so you know! . . . . June 22, 2020 

Ideas, hints and opinions 

By David Spears 


 . . . Angola became the 100th country to visit The Village Connector web site. Bill’s reaction was “WooHoo!” They didn’t visit my page on the site – BooHoo! Note: Bill Channell is the webmaster at Note: The counter now visitors from 105 countries.


. . . I have a different screen image each day when I turn on the computer. One got me thinking about using it as display background. It was a small village in the Black Forest. The distance view features lit houses, snow covered hills, water, and pine trees. Linda only liked the lit church (in the center of the image). Remember, she does most of our backgrounds, soooo . . . . . 


. . . The National Council of 56 Club is asking for ‘summer pictures.’ They want to use them as part of a slide show on the NCC website. One of their suggestions was a Margaritaville display. I thought I’d post an image of ours here. Below you will see we have all/most of the Dept. 56 Margaritaville people and none of the buildings – we like the display. The sign says “At the beach every hour is happy hour.” 





. . . The Bradford Exchange makes sure I see an online ad almost every day. Their ‘Harry Potter Village’ is the subject. I just received the same ad via our local newspaper. Apparently I looked online, once, earlier this year. I’ll ‘pay’ all year long - Merry Christmas? 


. . . Covid 19 tests negative – David, June 1, 2020 - Linda tested negative in May. We continue to stay home. Or be very careful, and always wear masks in public (and not be sociable). 


. . . Summer vignette for summer. I plan to build/keep it on a living room shelf. If I do it right, we will move it to the bay window. That way folks can see it from outside when we have visitors to our gardens. I believe it will be mostly Lemax. 


. . . June 2nd, Linda and I enjoyed our first meal at a restaurant since March 13. This was outside, at a table (with umbrella), in a restaurant parking lot. Food was good, atmosphere ??, experience - worthwhile. We have eaten drive-in food in our car several times. Eating out maybe, but not the same thing. 


. . . Dept. 56 Express Vans (is that the proper title?). I’m wondering why we didn’t purchase the 25th Anniversary Van. We were ‘there’ and it was available, hmmm. We did buy the 40th Anniversary red version (and display it all the time). The ‘green edition?’ We have three: gift, prize and estate sale. We note says there is 27 versions. I’m thinking there are more. I guess I should be happy we didn’t begin a collection. 





. . . ‘The Wonderful World of Disney Christmas Tree’ – Not the sort of thing I usually look at. It’s from The Bradford Exchange. I’m almost afraid to mention it (see comments above). I have to say I do like the looks of the ‘dancing princesses’ as well as the ‘Disney characters.’ if you want a look – I didn’t, just so you know! 


. . . My writing style has been commented on recently. - I’ve written ‘columns’ in the style of JSYK for many years. My thanks to Bud Horngren for getting me started. I was promoted to his position when he retired in the ‘80’s. He allowed me/suggested I use a version of how he did his column in our work ‘newspaper.’ Evidently continuing ‘his’ column was part of my new job. Bud suggested the two, three sentence, single subject, paragraphs. Humor, non-business, questions were all OK. I've been using some form of his style ever since. 





. . . June 23rd is the (new) announced date for Dept. 56 2020 Midyear Village releases.


. . . Somehow I have a writing pen with Emoji’s. I mean it has seven of those small yellow, expressive faces, all over it. The way I think, it has to have a place in a display (‘cause it’s cute). 


. . . Not so much of a football fan these days. However you should already know I am a big fan of polar bears. I really like the facial expressions, and body language, of the bears (below). ‘Bear Down And Go’ was a Dept. 56 North Pole 2018 introduction. Note: Obviously they are playing ‘touch football.’ 





. . . Holidays: June 21, Father’s Day; July 1, Canada Day; July 4, Independence Day; August 17, Linda’s Birthday; September 7, Labor Day; September 22, Autumn begins; and October 31, Halloween


. . . Elsa from Frozen was right there looking at me. She was standing in a blue cup on the windowsill. Let me remind you we have no children in our home. And seldom do we have ‘young’ visitors. Not sure what Elsa was doing in our kitchen.


. . . Is it too early to ask about the Summer Issue of Village D-Lights


. . . “The more birthdays you have, the longer you live.” I just had to use those words from a Jane Sprando card. First, it applies to me :)  And second, card making is one of Linda’s hobbies. The quote insured I read the words about Jane in the May/June Front Porch (the Village Idiots newsletter). She has some very nice cards on Pinterest – thanks for sharing. 





. . . Can I call Martha’s Vineyard a new Dept. 56 New England Village Subseries? Intros are: ‘Edgartown Boat Builder,’ accessory ‘Mending The Sails;’ ‘Edgartown Harbour Light,’ accessory, ‘Looking For Perfect Weather;’ and ‘Gingerbread Cottage #1, accessory, ‘Christmas Cranberries.’ I’ve been told by someone who’s been there a few times “the D56 designers nailed it. They truly captured the flavor. Should be a big seller for them, at least here in the northeast.” Images are available on the Dept. 56 website.


. . . Linda and I have taught village display related classes/seminars at gatherings, stores, clubs, and community education – just so you know!


. . . Bill, The Village Collector webmaster, sent me some comments on lighting. Room light dimmers, village light dimmers, remote control systems – he had some interesting things to say. I’m hoping he’ll write a couple of paragraphs on the subject and post it on his web site. I’ll let you know. 


. . . The email said, “I don't use the D56 people because I prefer more scale so when I find smaller scale people I usually buy a few. They're hard to find.” I had scale problems when I obtained my first people. Now we have Dept. 56, Lemax, O Scale Model Railroad people and Homies (sometimes side by side) with our Heritage Village houses. I guess you’d have to say I don’t have a real problem with scale anymore. 


. . . Dept. 56 announced they were back in the office, or telecommuting, as of June 15. What got my attention is FACEBOOK LIVE will return on Thursday, June 25, 4:00 p.m. Central Time. They will be showing some of the newly introduced midyear introductions. No real hints on the midyears, or even who is hosting the show. 


. . . Two people informed me they received Update Packet #2 – 2018/2019 Village D-Tails. Thanks to both of you for the note. Funny, one person was on each coast (east/west). I wonder when we will see ours here on the ‘middle coast.’ Note: It scares me thinking about posting the updates. 


. . . Lorna - Zoom and Skype. I hope the Village Idiots member doesn’t mind me commenting - I’m jealous! She actually used Zoom and Skype to communicate with friends and family members. It just hasn’t worked for us. Sometimes image, sometimes sound, most of the time . . . . . . No online ‘meetings/greetings’ for us – yet. 


. . . If anyone figures me out - I’d like an explanation 


. . . The message from Bill said . . . “Remember the Village PhoneBook? I still have mine. We used to take weekends and see how many dealer displays we could check off. Good times.” Village PhoneBook? I don't remember those. 










 Just so you know! . . . . June 1, 2020

Ideas, hints and opinions 

By David Spears 



 . . . May 18 - 'Make Trax to Jax' - The Jacksonville Gathering/TCA Convention - has officially been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing restrictions in place. 


. . . First Ruby Throated Hummingbird of the season at our feeders on May 18 – Linda is happy! 



 . . . Have I mentioned we have a master of "social distance" in our neighborhood? His name is Oscar. He has never come within six feet of anyone, except Alex, his owner. Oscar is a Chow. Note: He really doesn’t like men. He doesn’t snarl, bark or bite; he just looks the other way. 





. . . ‘Slainte,’ an article beginning on page 41 in the Spring Issue of Village D-Lights. I liked the Lemax elves ‘appearing’ as leprechauns. But I loved the twelve St. Patrick’s Day vignettes on the next two pages. Well done, each different, all by members of the Southwest Villager’s Collector Club


. . . I saw a ‘Maragritaville Hollidazler’ on the Dept. 56 web site sale. Not sure what the ‘piece’ is, but the aircraft featured sure looks like a nice addition to our Margaritaville. A small version of the flying boat would look good in the background (or up in the sky). A larger version would most likely overpower a small display. 


. . . On a roadside sign: Due to the Corona Pandemic we will only be telling inside jokes.” 


. . . The lighted Dept. 56 ‘Lighted Canvas’ were sold under the name of ‘Spotlights.’ You may remember Linda and I won two at a Village North meeting. We use them as backgrounds for displays. Note: This was one of my last questions answered by Kathy Balfanz. 


. . . Went looking for Lemax Americana at our Michael’s store – nothing. That’s OK, can’t find the 2020 version online either. We did find summer items from Ashland. Linda mentioned a few things including some nice little trees, fishing Gnomes, a Gnome couple, and a pink bicycle. I saw a Southwest style structure that looks like it might go with my Homies. Oh, and they had a small selection of Hot Wheels (mostly toy vehicles). 


. . . J&P Coats Dual Quality Plus thread – I mentioned a thread ‘spool’ last column. Now I know I/we have an expert on old thread reading what I write. She sent me a short history of the company. 


. . . Small villages will be featured in the Summer Issue of Village D-Lights. That means villages like ‘Harry Potter,’ ‘DC Comics,’ ‘ Hot Properties,’ ‘The Day of the Dead,’ etc. VDL already featured other small villages in the Spring issue. 


. . . Church Ladies With Typewriters, i.e., Church Bulletins– “Ladies, don't forget the rummage sale. It's a chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house. Bring your husbands.” 









Just So You Know . . . . May 14, 2020

Ideas, Hints and Opinions

By David Spears

 . . . We are still finding snow all around the house – on the inside!


. . . ‘J & P Coats Dual Quality Plus’ sewing thread. I know nothing about the thread, but the spool looks like a ‘user’ to me. Gold in color, plastic, a bit of extra trim. Could be the base for a village statue, or maybe a clown stand in a carnival, or. . . . 


. . . We received a black cat from a neighbor lady. Scary (Halloween type), village size, usable. It’s nice to have friends thinking about us (and our displays). Thanks to ’little’ Betty. Note: She is an interesting lady - 85 years old and does her own lawn mowing and snow blowing. 


. . . ‘Wizarding Equipment’ or ‘Basic Wizarding Supplies.’ Imagine Rubeus Hagrid and Harry Potter leaving the ‘EEylops Owl Emporium’ (with supplies). The Dept. 56 Harry Potter accessory will be available in June. It coordinates with the Emporium. 


 . . . Several folks asked about the Red Hat Ladies in the last JSYK. One is ‘Red Hat Barbie.’ We purchased her from Minithings at the Green Bay Gathering in 2006. The other two are ‘Red Hats and All That’ by Roman Lights (bubble lights). Found them in Hayward, WI, 2005. I don’t remember where their two red hats came from. Still looking - sorry! 



. . . OK, below you will find two of Ron’s displays. Barb sent me images of five (?) he made during the year. They are all in the same location, usually the same base pieces with a change in the background. The house, accessories and people are changed. I understand there is always a display in this location. My thanks to Barb for sending me the information/ images (and answering my questions). Easter, summer, Halloween, Winter/Christmas and ?? 




. . . Diane and Tommy Shine – pictured below, at My Kind of Town, the Chicago event in 2012. They, and their friends, were the reason Linda and I went to the Northwest Harvest Gathering Windsor Locks, Connecticut the following year. The Shines’ recently sent us an email to say ‘Hi!’ Note: We were eating at ‘Toby Keith's I Love This Bar’ – Diane was facing the sun, no curtains. 




. . . Village North Collectors Club information: Kandi, our president, is back in the area. – Reminder to members, no May club meeting


. . . ‘Taco Food Truck,’ ‘The Gingerbread Man,’ ‘Hot Dogs & Burger’ – the names of our three Lemax food trucks. We do have several more, but they are from different companies (and smaller in size). Seems like we had more – hum. . . . . 


. . . I saw the ‘Philippine Christmas Village Collectors Club’ newsletter. It said Volume No. 1, Issue No. 1, 31 March 2020. As a member of a dues paying member club, I was able to read it on the National Council of 56 Clubs web site. Did you realize there was a club in Manila?   Note: My club? Village North Collectors Club – Duluth MN/Superior WI


. . . Let me know if you would like more of something I write about, or let me know if you would like less. Did I say that good? Your opinions are always important, but don’t worry, I’ll be making the decisions (just need the help :-). 


. . . Dept. 56 Retirees – what can anyone tell me about them. Their ad exists on the National Council of 56 Clubs web site. Their own web site is still online. Am I missing something, I haven’t heard from Harry & June McGowan for a long time. Note: No reply to my recent email questions. 





. . . Our Spring 2020 Village D-Lights arrived in Duluth, MN on May 14. I’d like to say “right on time,” but I’ve long ago forgot what “on time” is with the magazine. I’m just happy it’s here – just so you know! 


. . . Florida Train Show/Gathering see: for current information. It changes each time I go there.


. . . Working on our ‘outside.’ Put up our little ‘in garage’ greenhouse today. Brought home a ‘few’ more plants. Grass is getting green – lawn treatment tomorrow. It must be Spring in Minnesota.


. . . What do I know about Dept. 56 Village Midyears? My head says I know nothing. Did I miss something? 





 Just so you know! . . . . May 8, 2020 

Ideas, hints and opinions 

By David Spears 




 . . . We’ve taken down all our village display houses. They’ve been cleaned, packed, and put away. Three paper box tops (11x17 inches) full of people/accessories remain to be taken care of. They all still need ‘homes.’ Note: Linda is already setting up our eight foot banquet table. She plans to plant seeds and grow a bunch of Lavatera (annual flowers). 


. . . Red Hat Ladies discussing if it’s time to meet the rest of the group for lunch. Or, do we have time to visit the ‘5th Avenue Salon.’ 


. . . “Today I’m doing nothing, because I started doing it yesterday and I wasn’t finished – and I’m no quitter.” 


. . . Thanks for all the comments on my last JSYK. It makes me feel good knowing folks are reading what I write. Short column this time – had to get the above correction out sooner rather than later. 


. . . The ‘Doo Wop Christmas’ singers entertaining outside the ‘Park Square Bistro.’ See them below for a pleasant place to go for an evening of fun! Note: Both are from Lemax




. . . ‘Blackbeard’s Tattoos & Piercing’ sign says “Done While Ye Wait” – really? Looks like an elf in the hammock on the front porch. Linda liked it very much (so we bought it). It’s from Lemax. 








 Just so you know! . . . . May 5, 2020 

Ideas, hints and opinions 

By David Spears 


 . . . Mary looked at our gardens (on the video) mentioned in my last JSYK. She said “With the fence around our back yard,  I have never experienced a fawn in one of the flower beds. But those darn rabbits – ugh!!! . . .” Linda suggests a sign to keep the rabbits away, “Fox wanted, meals provided.” We have such a sign in our yard. 


. . . Do you notice the ‘problem’ in the image below? Hint – half of the kids are dressed in summer clothes. OK, the problem

is six ‘cups’ rather than the three provided with the Dept. 56 ‘Twirling Teacups.’ Where are the cups from, can’t find the box. 





. . . Reminder, a couple of past years of ‘Just so you know!’ is available on this site.


. . . Lemax has very small writing on some power supplies. And, it’s white on white or black on black (stamped in). Linda had to use a lighted magnifying glass to read the volts and amps (necessary info to see what power supply works with what piece). Yes, we did now use a Sharpie to write the info we need on the power supply. Maybe I should ask Lemax to make a change  


. . . Five people wrote to tell me they attended, and enjoyed, the Dept. 56 25th Anniversary Gala. They recognized the big storage room pictured in the last JSYK. Like us, they pre- ordered the special edition ‘St. Paul’s Cathedral’ and picked it up at the event. The piece remains among their favorites (and ours). Note: Barb has hers in a Dickens’ display. She also said, “Those gatherings were so much fun. How I miss them.“ 


. . . We have three Cardinals back at our birdfeeders. I must be doing something right. Safflower seeds seem to be their favorite food. 


. . . “Unforgivable!! Such a waste of digital page resources. The conservation police will be after you for this!!- Larry Treadwell – Gee Larry, all I did was ‘print’ a blank page seven on the last JSYK. Note: Now someone else tells me they enjoyed page seven. 


. . . The Souvenir Water Tower for the June Florida model railroad/Dept. 56 event is available. or


. . . Interiors are a nice touch. The Pool Hall and Soda Fountain are good examples of well-lit interiors. Under the ‘Billiards’ sign, the waitress and outside guy are Homies. The gals inside the fountain can be seen drinking Cokes. Buildings are the Lemax ‘Pinnacle Pete’s Pool Hall’ and Dept. 56 ‘Coca Cola Soda Fountain.’ 





. . . We still have not completed updating our Village D-Tails (4th edition). The last supplement scared me and we haven’t added it to the notebook (or even unwrapped it). We are back to using VDT Volume 3; The VDT Vol. 4 Handbook (the little book); plus the ‘no pictures’ version I set-up on the computer years ago. It’s nothing special: building/accessory name; village; cost; year; store, etc. 





. . . The following is what Linda and I said when introducing our class at the ‘2015 California Gold Gathering:’ “We’ve been asked to share some of the things we discovered while out and about looking for absolutely nothing. We’ll talk about what we found, where we found it and what we might do with it. If something interests you, take a few notes. And, please ask questions.” Note: We reread the Village D-Lights – Winter 2015 story on the gathering. We really enjoyed San Diego. And thanks to Robin and Esme for working the computer, and lights, during our classes. 


. . . A thought I had while putting away display ‘people.’ I like the Dept. 56 Simple Traditions accessories. The size, style and ‘activities’ of the porcelain people always attracted my attention. Most of them look like they belong in a New England display. The active kids also work well in ‘The City.’ Note: An image of the ‘Roasting Marshmallows’ kids was featured on our Christmas card Linda made in 2014. 





. . . “Heritage Village Collection” – Do you remember those small green brochures (5 x 5 inches)? You know, they came inside the package of each new Dept. 56 house. They contained pictures (and names) of each current house from Heritage Village. Why did Dept. 56 do them? Why did I keep them? Why . . . . ? 


. . . It goes on forever - the look we wanted. Looking at the picture (below), I thought we’d used a mirror. I was wrong - the background is a calendar page. Remember, Linda is always collecting them. Looks pretty darn good! 






. . . Now I’m taking it personal – Dept. 56 says no more Kathy Balfanz! Who is going to answer my questions, solve my problems, find me images, answer emails, attend club meetings, provide prizes, and smile? I need to know there things! 


. . . “She kissed the hairbrush” “by mistake.” - “She thought it was” “her husband Jake.” Burma Shave. Note: Are you old enough to remember these ads along the highway? 


. . . First gas fill-up in seven weeks, 10.3 gals ($1.59 per gallon), 221 miles driven. Last 30 miles was a round trip to a very large greenhouse. We filled eight big flower pots with annuals. Only the owner couple, and us, were in the (14) buildings. 


. . . Hint: When you build/paint something (mountain, base, etc.) write the name/color of the paint you used on the bottom. When you need to make an addition, or repair, it makes it easy to match the color(s). 


. . . The Dept. 56 ‘Emily Louise’ - we almost always use the ship in our New England display. Seldom will you see the dock - not sure why. 


. . . ‘Spirit of Halloween’ first email ad of the season received today – May 3. 


. . . I was asked to ID the vehicle used to transport/show my 1:43 cars. The name is Kennworth W900 1:43 Die-Cast Die-Cast – ‘Long Hauler.’ It says NewRay on the box. A picture was shown in the most recent JSYK. 


. . . Upcoming holidays - just in case you need an excuse to make a vignette: May 10 – Mother’s Day: May 18 – Victoria Day (Canada); May 25, Memorial Day – June 14, Flag Day; June 20, Summer begins – June 21, Father’s Day – July 1, Canada Day (Canada) – July 4, Independence Day. 





. . . We began with a glass of ‘Trinity Red’ wine (bottled by Linda’s son Russ). Linda made a burrito bake and corn bread muffins. We also had fresh corn, Tostitos, sour cream and salsa. A nice variety of good food. We really enjoyed our Cinco de Mayo dinner. I’m a lucky guy. 


. . . Florida gathering update: 17 of 38 tours have been cancelled. It includes the two on June 25 that included Dept. 56 houses. You can go to  for updates. 


. . . Update: I’ve worn sweat pants for seven weeks (except for two days).** Linda cut my hair and did a very nice job. As she was draping a towel over my shoulders she commented, a cover was not necessary in front. – think about it. ** We are both staying at home (mostly), healthy and safe. Hope you are as well. 





 Just so you know! . . . . April 24, 2020 

Ideas, hints and opinions 

By David Spears 


 . . . I’ve been wondering if there was going to be a Hauntsville 2020. I asked and creator Larry Treadwell said, “I'm working on arranging social distancing with the witches. It does get a bit crowded riding on a broom. :-)” My guess is yes! If you need a reminder go to: - then ‘Hauntsville 2019. Remember to read the ‘story’ with each image. I also hope he produces ‘Dickensville’ before Christmas.


. . . “Santa’s helpers are subordinate clauses.” - JSYK October 28, 2002 


. . . Tom I. was kind enough to fill me in. Now I know the ‘read aloud’ feature began with the introduction of Microsoft Edge/Windows 10. He knew we had just loaded ‘10’ on this computer so . . . . And, he told me nicely. He could have said it was always there (that would have driven me nuts). Thanks Tom! 


. . . From Mary Z. . . “I have to admit . . . I was another one who did not know about the ‘read aloud’ button. But I saw it after reading your first few lines, pushed it, and it worked! Amazing! Because of my age, I am considering myself to be a life-long learner. And that’s a good thing!” 


. . . Our plan for 2020 is to have North Pole fill our China cabinet. That means vignettes on five shelves, and a larger display on the main shelf (it has a mirrored background). The largest display will be on the top. Behind closed doors means lighting/wiring is not easy. It does cut down on the dusting. This will be a fun challenge (the wiring not the dusting). 




. . . Every so often I remind folks of the other activities Linda and I share. Take a look at: - The local public television station aired this program on April 25, 2013. Our gardens appear about 17:25 minutes in. No comments about the ‘bugs and blight’ title.


. . . Are we ever going to see another Village D-Lights? I should ask the editor. 


. . . Where is Hohman, Indiana? It exists only in the movie, A Christmas Story. I saw the name on the side of a new, bright yellow, delivery vehicle from Dept. 56. The description says “. . . includes vehicle and delivery man ready to present the news of the ‘major prize'.” It also says “. . . hand-crafted, hand-painted, resin.” Haven’t seen the movie, don’t understand ‘major prize.’ Did I say its bright yellow? Note: We don’t have a telegram delivery vehicle. 







. . . I read, by law, you have to turn on your headlights when it’s raining in Sweden. How am I supposed to know if it’s raining in Sweden? – From 'Just so you know!' March 13, 2017. 


. . . Note I found on our ‘Village Display Ideas/Reminder 2012-2013.’ It said “do something with all the dogs we have.” We have over fifty dogs and have not yet featured them. We will have to do better. I just put a note in our 2020 ideas/reminders. 


. . . 2020 Intro, Dept. 56 Harry Potter ‘Professor Slughorn & the Trio’ - $50.00. What do you think; would they work in a ‘50’s display? Or maybe on the street in CIC? Some of our (younger?) visitors might recognize them. Not sure about the director. Note: We do have a lot of musical people in our collection. 



. . . 'Spirit of 56 on the Bay' Gathering, Wishigan Collectors Club, July 14,15,16, 2006, Notre Dame Academy, Green Bay, WI. We did a seminar on ‘Mountains, Ice and Water.’ The event organizers told us we had sixty-seven people in the classroom designed for 24. It was crowded. We appreciated it   



. . . And did you see the Sneak Peek of Midyears on the Dept. 56 Facebook page? 


. . . Luville ‘Ski Jumper’ (see below) – we need this guy to jump off our ‘big’ John Rapacz ski jump. The Lemax/Dept. 56 skiers don’t have their arms pinned to their sides – the way skiers do it off the big jumps. has other nice/interesting accessories: ‘Dog Sleigh,’ ‘Christmas Helicopter’ (Santa is the pilot), ‘Skipping Rope,’ ‘Ski Rescue,’ ‘Dennis is Painting,’ and ‘Winners podium.’ This is a very small part of what they offer on the web site.



. . . We use different colored light bulbs in some of our houses/buildings. Linda turned the village lights on when she was doing display teardown one evening. It showed me it has a better look when it’s darker in the room (and more noticeable). Maybe we’ll change our village open houses to the evening and then light only the village. 


. . . Dept. 56, Lemax and Woodstock, a popular scene in our display (below). With animation, motion and music, it drew a lot of attention. 



. . . Village pieces I like the most? I was planning to make a list, posting it in JSYK, and adding images as I used them in our display (or found a picture from the past). Maybe I’ll do away with the list and simply post the pictures as I find them. It will be mostly people. The couples below are Dept.56 Simple Traditions, Pine Isles, we purchased at Kohl’s in 2002. They have long been among my favorite people. 



. . . Do you ever buy more than one of the same accessory? Usually for me, it’s ‘village people.’ Occasionally I buy a replacement because I broke something beyond repair, but that’s not what I’m talking about. When you first saw it, did you think you could use more than one in a display, or you might need a spare (just in case), or maybe sometimes - just because. Lani and Mike started me thinking about having more than one, when we saw they had multiple ‘Radio City Rockettes.’ That was a long time ago. Recently I was putting away ‘Busy City Streets’ – that reminded me that we should have more a single set. Maybe someday. 


. . . Idea for Dept. 56 – create a ‘polar plunge’ village piece. For those who live with no ice on your lakes, let me explain. They cut a hole in the ice and you jump into the water very cold water! The North Pole would be the natural place. As I said last column, two elves jumping in. Polar bears would be the ‘observers,’ holding hot chocolate and blankets. Linda was kind enough to do the sketch below (a picture is better than words). 



. . . We had to use our ‘Sir JT’s Light Retriever Tool’ for the first time in several years. Linda was able to retrieve the socket using the tool as directed. The bulb stayed inside and she used an old fashioned ‘button hook’ to get it out. The building was our Christmas In The City  ’64 City West Parkway.’ Note: Very happy Linda offered to try, I hadn’t been successful. 





. . . SuzyQ received notice on April 24, her ‘first’ order of 2020 Dept. 56 village items had been shipped. She posted “Who knows what might get added once "look & feel" is back.” I like that phrase. Sure wish we had a dealer so we could touch and feel. 


. . . Linda and I were part of the crowd at the Dept. 56 25th Anniversary Gala. It was a huge event held in the St. Paul River Center (St. Paul,, MN) in 2001. We had ordered the special version of the St. Paul Cathedral (gold roof instead of the standard greenish/patina roof color). We picked up in the big room pictured below. 





The boxes behind the curtain contained the Cathedrals people were there to pick up. The tables in front were there so we could open the boxes to inspect our purchase. I remember the line was quite long (but fast moving). The Cathedral remains one of my favorite Dept. 56 buildings.


. . . Please read: Some names and email addresses for ‘Just so you know!’ have disappeared from my list. The people I added in the past six months are gone. If you know someone that this applies too, please have them send me an email. They would not have received the April 14th or this ‘Just so you know!’ Anyone who receives this email is fine. Thanks! 


. . . Linda and I went ‘out of the house’ today. A short walk around the neighborhood; grocery shopping; and food from a drive-up window. Displays are maybe 85% ‘down.’ Not that good a percentage put away – yet. We are feeling fine and hope you are as well. 





 Just so you know! . . . . April 14, 2020 

Ideas, hints and opinions 

By David Spears 


 . . . PDF’s can talk?? I simply opened the file on the screen and touched ‘Read Aloud.’ Am I the only one that didn’t know this? My computer talked to me!! It read the entire page and did a nice job! Note: I found a file from 2011 that it read for me - this must have been going on for a long time. 


. . . A March 19th Dept. 56 email informed me “New 2020 Village available to ship end of March, Pre-order Now.” Note: We all know that this has changed. See more on page 4. 




 . . . Hint: Don’t ask my wife “what do you call those big balls of snow that you make snowmen out of?” She absolutely loved to give me the obvious answer, “snowballs!” She laughed a whole lot and still smiles (a whole lot) when she thinks about it – or tells someone. 


. . . Vanessa Taylor “renovated to fit” her ‘Metropolitan Art Museum.’ She has painted the tall columns red and added Chinese writing. This Dept. 56, Christmas In The City building, is now in her very interesting Chinatown. I noticed she has lots of, other than Dept. 56, Oriental accessories that we also own. Probably can be explained that we have shopped at gatherings with Vanessa – it has been awhile. You can see her Chinatown on pages 14 and 15 of the current Village D-Lights.


. . . Use a mirror as a display base, a nice suggestion by Stephen Pepin in the Winter 2019-2020 Issue of Village D-Lights. We’ve only used mirrors as skating rinks and rivers. And, as backgrounds. You can see his display picture on page 10 of the most recent VDL. 


. . . City Lights, in their current VDL ad said, ‘We Are Now Again Buying all Villages.’ 800-262-5335 or Note: I have found City Lights good to work with -we really enjoyed our visit to their store in San Diego. 




. . . There is a complete list of Dept. 56 2020 Village Introductions in the Winter 2019-2020 Issue of Village D-Lights. Notice I said “list.” It has limited photos. I mention this because of the timing. The list was available online in January (ENESCO), on the Dept. 56 website since, in the 2020 Dept. 56 Village Brochure, on the NCC website, and some dealer’s sites. All have images and I’ve even seen prices. I’m interested in what is new, why would I wait two months to see them in the magazine? 


. . . The Village Press, Village Landlords, club picnic, March 22nd - The Beacon, The Tampa Bay 56ers, club picnic, April 5. I was on the National Council of 56 Clubs website and saw those words “club picnic.” Question: What do they do for fun club social activities in the summer? Village North has picnics! No snow then – just so you know! 


. . . SuzyQ – I’m guessing its Jerry’s 1963 Corvair in the ‘Corvair Lovers Weekend in Pensacola’ picture in The Beacon. I believe it was the excuse for your absence from The Tampa Bay 56ers meeting. Note: Sometimes I miss my ‘63’ Corvair Monza Spyder. Not so much my ’62 Corvair non-turbo model.


. . . For the first time ever, Lemax is offering in 2020, an actual smoking building. It’s the ‘Chestnut Cabin.’ The description does say ‘smoke’ comes out of the chimney. It doesn’t say what makes the smoke. Note: I remember our Dept. 56 ‘Steen’s Maple House’ smoked has a timer.‘ We use the piece frequently in our New England Village (or a vignette). We have only used the ‘smoke’ feature once. As we remember, the smokes maple fragrance, and smoke look, were fine. It was just difficult to place the house in a location where it was easy to service (i.e., add smoke fluid).


. . . Ooops, Snoopy Dancing’ was the name of the Peanuts piece I didn’t name in the last JSYK. I did provide a Dept. 56 image.


. . . SuzyQ reminded me “It is the Winter 2019 issue of Village D-Lights that hasn't yet arrived. Winter 2020 won't be published until at least December 2020. The Winter 2018 issue was so late it included the 2019 introductions - just so you know!” - My thanks to SuzyQ for the correction. Note: I had said the “Winter 2020” hasn’t yet arrived. Note #2: The Winter 2019 issue of VDL arrived March 16th (2020). And yes, it did include the 2020 Dept. 56 introductions. 


. . . “This space intentionally left blank.” 


. . . Possible vignette dates: May 5, Cinco de Mayo – May 25, Memorial Day. 


. . . "Don't worry about the world coming to an end today. It's already tomorrow in Australia." - Charles Schultz 



. . . ‘Make Trax to Jax’ – June 21-28, 2020 - Jacksonville, Florida or Anita Sanford at 


. . . ‘Harry loves Sally’ - we just watched Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan in the 1989 romantic comedy. It’s one of the movies that Linda and I both enjoy (she made popcorn).


. . . Dept. 56 Facebook Live, March 12, 2020, was ‘A peak into Ms. Lit Towns Treasure Closet.’ Melinda Seegers found/shared (1). Memories of the Dept. 56, 25th Anniversary in 2001. 10,000 people attended, 300 Dept.56 employees worked, Gerald Charles Dickens was a special guest.’ (2). A Gold ‘Village Express Van’ that was for prospective stockholders when Dept. 56 went public in 1995. Ξ She also mentioned the lst shipments of 2020 intros are on their way to dealers. Ξ Melinda also did a drawing for the NCC. The Southwest Villagers, Region 10, won the DV ‘Russell Street Books’ signed by Barb Lund. The drawing was among all clubs who paid 2020 dues ‘on time.’ A ‘Honey Ham Store’ was won by NCC Rep Julie Horst Jacky. Her Region 9 was one of the regions with 100% dues paid. 


. . . March 26!! We began our official village ‘teardown.’ The first to go was our ski hill. It included: skiers 56; elves 20; snowboarders 5; people on snowshoes 3; snowboarders 7; Santa and Mrs. Claus; snowmobiles 5; ski lodge; ski jump; halfpipes 2; campfires 2; kids playing 6; photographers 2; and a skunk. Note: I forgot to count the trees. Update April 14: Dicken’s, one Alpine village, our small carnival and zoo are all down, cleaned, packaged and put away. Plus two vignettes are gone. Over half done? 


. . . Cheryl and Bob Husby, Duluth, MN. 55 seconds posted March 25 WDSE/WRPT, YouTube. We visited her in February. 


. . . Jerry Sexton, the creator of Tiny Town, passed away on March 21. His lively descriptions of the many Dept. 56 displays made for fun tours of his South St. Paul home/garage(s). Linda and I fondly remember our visit to Tiny Town. His enthusiasm was wonderful. He even changed caps to match the display he was talking about. He, and his wife Marilyn, were wonderful hosts when we visited their home. mp;pid=195771102&fhid=9211 


. . . The clear container below is a great way to store/protect trees. We purchased the first of our Lemax trees (in these containers) in 2016. We now have thirty such trees (you can’t have too many trees). Ours are ‘Snow Queen Tree,’ ‘Christmas Bristle Tree,’ ‘Butternut Fir,’ ‘Blue Spruce’ and ‘Balsam Fir.’ We both think they all have a good look and add to our displays. Linda thinks the containers are big and take up too much storage room. 



. . . From the Dept. 56 website. - 1999 - In May, the first-ever corporate retail store opened in the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, a move that enhanced both brand and product profile. And for the first time, Department 56 introduced pieces that included exquisite interior detail.” 


. . . I thought a polar plunge would make a fun North Pole piece. I suggested elves jumping into the ice cold water. Mary responded saying “. . . As for the polar plunge piece, I would make the jumpers CLOWNS - I don’t think Santa would let his elves participate in that activity. They are too valuable to him.” 





. . . Gerry is cooking! If you’re not sure who I’m talking about, just ask John.


. . . ‘Davy The Dragon Who Was Afraid’ - the title of the book Linda gave me for my birthday. What frightened him? I read the book, he was afraid of his ‘fire.’ You know, dragons, breathing fire. . . . Davy is small and cute – just so you know! 

. . . I received a birthday card featuring my 50th birthday bear. BU, the bear, was sitting five feet away from me as I recently opened the card. A lot of memories of the wonderful present from thirty years ago. The bear was a gift from thirty lovely dance partners. Note: Linda and I were not yet together. 


. . . Waltzing polar bears – the picture on a birthday card from Linda. “David – Remember when a waltz was played, we would find each other and meet on the dance floor for the waltz of our dreams, wrapped in our own special world, the dance of love. – Linda” 



. . . Ellen Beighley, passed away on Dec 31, 2019. We last visited with her at the Chicago Gathering in 2018. Our first picture from the event was husband Hal escorting her down the hall of the hotel in her wheelchair. I used the image below instead because it was the one she asked me take at the event. She wanted to show off her new Village Idiots vest. Ellen, and the other members of the ‘Lemon Drop Committee,’ was presented the National Council of 56 Clubs ‘Presidents Award’ at the gathering. 





. . . I’m planning to maybe put together a summertime display. The two new sets of players from Lemax might fit right in. Nine players (one of the teams has a goal keeper), and an official. I like the movement and color they would add. The 2020 intros will be available this month. 




. . . Linda and I are staying at home. Our main project is to take down our displays. We’ve usually had two friends helping us. A system was developed after six or seven years, and it goes quite fast. When you take Carol and Barbara out of the mix it is a whole lot slower. We have always appreciated their assistance, now we realize how much they truly did. 


. . . Our computer guy, my brother Charlie, stopped by yesterday. (Our first visitor in a month). He was able to get the computer to work well enough to send out this JSYK. My thanks to him. You know I don’t have a schedule. It all depends on what folks tell me, what I find elsewhere and what Linda says. It is frustrating to me when I can’t send receive or send emails. 


. . . Linda and I visited JD Anderson in Petoskey, MN In 2009. He had recently finished his Dept. 56 Snow Village display (containing every SV piece). It was in the forty by sixty foot addition to his home built for his display (see below). It even contained seven operating model trains. A nice memory. 




. . . Notes: We have driven our car 61 miles in the last thirty-one days – sixty one miles! . . . Linda is busy sewing facemasks, forty-two so far. She has given out twenty-five. . . . We have three teddy bears in our front window. They hold friendly ‘hello signs’ for those passing by. We have a fair amount of walkers on our street - people and dogs with their people. 


. . . All is fine on East Toledo Street, hope you can all say the same. 






 Just so you know! . . . . . March 9, 2020 

Ideas, hints and opinions 

By David Spears 


 . . . Don’t they know the kitten and puppy just want to be friends? (see below) The description calls them “a frisky little puppy” and “a feisty feline.” The words continue, “The pet owners stepped in just in time and soon parted with "Christmas Tails" to tell!” ‘Christmas Tails’ was a 2019 Dept. 56 Christmas In The City accessory. Note: I thought the dog was wearing a dark vest - it isn’t. 





. . . Lemax has three new facades for 2020. ‘Beersmith Row’ attracted me right away. I don’t drink beer, but I like the ‘stuff,’ - beer barrels, beer mugs, beer signs, etc. And, I appreciate the hallway that disappears around the corner. When I showed Linda the ‘Houses On A Hill,’ she loved it. The stairway going up between the houses really adds depth. ‘Dashers Advent Stable’ doesn’t do anything for me. We use facades as display backgrounds, especially on shelves. These are about 11 inches tall but only 5 inches (or less) deep. 




. . . Not sure what ‘Waltz Weary’ means – that’s the title of the couple below. I’m guessing Lemax thought it’s what dancers look like after an evening on the dance floor. When I was their age I wasn’t tired, I was happy when I had been dancing. 



. . . Idea for Dept. 56 create a ‘polar plunge’ village piece. For those of you who live with no ice on your lakes, let me explain. They cut a hole in the ice and you jump into the water – very cold water! Here in Duluth you can even ‘pay’ to do it (with a donation to Special Olympics athletes). There were 31 plunge locations in Minnesota alone this winter (for Special Olympics). I haven’t thought about the details yet, but how about an elf or two in (or jumping into) the water. Polar bears could be the ‘observers,’ maybe holding hot chocolate and blankets. 


. . . Visited Michael’s to see spring stuff. Found a few new Ashland little trees and some Super Moss moss. Nothing to buy – yet. I was actually looking for the Lemax summer pieces. Nothing there either. Note: The Lemax web site says Michael’s Exclusives will be posted online April 15. 



. . . 2020 McDonald’s Happy Meal Toys for Pixar ‘Onward’ – saw them at a local restaurant.’ I didn’t buy either the Happy Meal or a toy.


. . . ‘Circus Fun House,’ 9.84 x 11.81 x 4.72 inches. The 2020 Lemax Carnival introduction will very likely find its way into our display. Our present carnival/circus does have many pieces, but more color and motion are always welcome. The cylinders with spiral graphics (barbershop poles) spin, the kids upstairs are walking in a ‘shaking’ room and the tunnel rotates with a boy inside. The house has lots of lights and provides carnival music as well. Linda really like it! 




. . . 2020 Lemax Village introductions. Lots of interesting stuff. No prices shown. 


. . . “Doing little things well is a step towards doing big things better.” Fortune cookie 


. . . Dept. 56 ‘Facebook Live, Ms. Lit Town, 4 p.m. on March 12, April 2, 16, and May 7, 21. 


. . . Always been a Schroeder fan, probably because he plays the piano (and he’s cute). I do have to watch the number of Snoopy’s we have in our displays. Remember, he is the ‘guy’ we ask people to look for (so no more than one at a time). Schroeder is animated (going around) and playing “Linus and Lucy.” It does say “Snoopy joyfully dances on the piano,” but he is really only going round and round. The catalog states the piece measures 3.75 x 3.75 x 3." That makes no sense (or is it just me)? 


. . . Somewhere, somehow I pushed a magic button. That button made the content of these page smaller (take up less room on the paper). It happens when I try to print them, or save a page as a PDF. I did whatever I did before the March 4th JSYK. I haven’t yet found a solution. I’m saying this so those of you, who noticed, will know what is going on. Also, maybe someone reading has done this themselves. Yes, it is frustrating



. . ‘Make Trax to Jax’ – June 21-28, 2020 - Jacksonville, Florida Anita Sanford at 


. . . Don’t give up on your dreams, keep sleeping.” 


. . . Visitors to our Christmas Village this season now numbers eighty-nine. The displays are still up - maybe we’ll add a few. Note: Linda has put away the poinsettia’s and Santa Claus’s. 


. . . “Everything is impossible until someone does it.” Fortune cookie. 



. . . Renewed my subscription to Village D-Lights on February 10. It was posted to my VISA by Tandem Publishing Group on February 12. - The mailing label says my subscription expires with the Winter 2020 issue. I should be OK; I’ve not yet received the Winter 2020 issue. (This is a repost from my last JSYK). 


. . . “Be yourself and you‘ll feel at home anywhere.” Fortune cookie 





And now, something special for

Collectors' Collectible Collection of Collectibles -

The First Ever "Just So You Know" to Appear on

"The Village Collector"





 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.