On Saturday, December 3, 2022, at 1:00 pm Central time, guests are invited to gather in the historic Santa Claus Church where the spell-binding Susan Fowler will return to the site to give us her entertaining and interactive rendition of the classic tale Twas the Night Before Christmas. A Merry Memory Sketch souvenir illustration of the afternoon’s story will be available for each family. There is no charge to attend, however donations to help restore the historic church are happily accepted.
Immediately following the storytelling, Mrs. Patricia Koch, w will hold a book signing for her recently published book entitledSanta’s Daughter. Mrs. Koch’s nostalgic book shares stories about her hometown of Mariah Hill, her experiences at Santa Claus Land and memories of her dad, Santa Jim Yellig. Her goal, at age 91, is to preserve the history of the town of Santa Claus and the surrounding area. Mrs. Koch will be in the historic church to sign books, answer questions and chat with visitors. Mrs. Koch is being honored this year by Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb with the 2022 Sachem Award, the state’s highest honor. She also has been inducted into the International Santa Claus Hall of Fame.
Also at no charge, families are invited to visit the museum, check in with Santa in his Museum Office, browse the gift shop, write letters to Santa in the historic Post Office, view the 12-foot Santa Claus Mural and the 22 foot Santa Claus Statue.
The Santa Claus Museum & Village is a not-for-profit organization which not only seeks to preserve the history of the town of Santa Claus but also to perpetuate the tradition of answering thousands of children’s letters to Santa. The Museum & Village are open daily Monday through Thursday from 10 am – 2 pm and Friday through Sunday 9 am to 4 pm, closed Christmas Day. The Santa Claus Museum & Village is located just south of Holiday World at 69 State Road 245 in Santa Claus, Indiana. For questions or further information, please call the Santa Claus Museum at 812-544-2434. And for more holiday ideas in the town of Santa Claus, click here.
Michigan is home to more lighthouses than any other state and about 40 of those are rumored to be haunted by the spirits of former keepers, mariners and others with ties to these historic beacons.
Inside the pages of Michigan’s Haunted Lighthouses, long-time researcher, writer and promoter of all things Michigan, Dianna Stampfler, shares stories of those who dedicated their lives — and afterlives — to protecting the Great Lakes’ shoreline. Her second book, Death & Lighthouse on the Great Lakes, Stampfler delves into the historic true crime cold case files that have baffled lighthouse lovers for as many as two centuries.
Throughout the fall season, Stampfler will be speaking at libraries around the state, sharing her lively and upbeat presentation about these lights. Copies of her books will be available for purchase and signing at every program.
For the complete schedule of upcoming events (including other topics beyond lighthouses), visit the Promote Michigan Speaker’s Bureau online.
About Michigan’s Haunted Lighthouses
Michigan has more lighthouses than any other state, with more than 120 dotting its expansive Great Lakes shoreline. Many of these lighthouses lay claim to haunted happenings. Former keepers like the cigar-smoking Captain Townshend at Seul Choix Point and prankster John Herman at Waugoshance Shoal near Mackinaw City maintain their watch long after death ended their duties. At White River Light Station in Whitehall, Sarah Robinson still keeps a clean and tidy house, and a mysterious young girl at the Marquette Harbor Lighthouse seeks out other children and female companions. Countless spirits remain between Whitefish Point and Point Iroquois in an area well known for its many tragic shipwrecks.
About Death & Lighthouses on the Great Lakes
Losing one’s life while tending to a Great Lakes lighthouse — or any navigational beacon anywhere in the world for that matter — sadly wasn’t such an unusual occurrence. The likelihood of drowning while at sea or becoming injured while on the job ultimately leading to death were somewhat common back in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.
Death by murder, suicide or other unnatural and tragic causes, while rare, are not unheard of. In fact, more than dozen lighthouse keepers around the Great Lakes met their maker at the hands of others – by fire, poisoning, bludgeoning and other unknown means. A handful of these keepers, either because of depression or sheer loneliness, took their own lives. A few we may never know the true story, as the deaths now 100 or more years ago, weren’t subjected to the forensic scrutiny that such crimes are given today.
In many ways his book is a behind the scenes look at the Notre Dame Fighting Irish but for those who groan at the thought of another football book, Brooks wants you to know it’s more than that. He discusses both the highs and lows of his life and career, offering a human look at being a gridiron star as he takes us on his personal journey, often peppering his book with humorous anecdotes. That includes the time he scored a 20-yard touchdown against the University of Michigan in 1993 while unconscious.
“I didn’t even know I was knocked down,” says Brooks about the incident where, after catching a pass, he was able to break through six Wolverine tackles—the last knocking him out—and still managing to make it across the finish line before falling face first in the end zone.
“I didn’t really know about the play until I saw it on Sunday during our film session and team meeting,” he says.
Brooks, a Notre Dame tailback, ended his senior year with 1,372 rushing yards, averaging about 8 yards a carry and scoring 13 touchdowns. He was named an All-American, finished fifth in the voting that year for the Heisman Trophy and was selected in the second round of the 1993 NFL by the Washington Redskins. But after a stellar first year in the league, his career started stalling, in part, he believes by a disagreement he had with the management over the team’s use of his image.
Welcome to the NFL. For Brooks, it seemed that he had upset the wrong people and paid the price for doing so. But he’s self-aware of how he responded. Feeling as if he were drowning he retreated into himself and didn’t avail himself of the help he was offered. Brooks’ experiences in the NFL reinforced his realization of how important Notre Dame had been in his life.
“It allowed me to see more clearly how special my teammates at Notre Dame were and what it meant to be a college football player,” he writes. “It’s the maturity you have to develop and the care for the others—even if you do not consciously think about it.”
He also saw the power of the Notre Dame network and how it opened doors for him when he was struggling—how the kindness of those he knew there helped him find his way.
When I ask what impact he hopes his book will have on readers, Brooks responds that he wants to show how his life and Notre Dame intertwined.
“I also want to get people to realize the value of ‘you’ and what ‘you’ bring to the community,” he says.
His father was his first coach and taught him the importance of treating others well. The emphasis was not on football as a way make a lot of money (though no one is arguing that isn’t nice) but the impact you can have on others.
“I still struggle with fandom,” he says. And we laugh about the old saw about never believing in your own press clippings—in other words not letting the hype change who you are.
“Those who are just starting are as important as the most famous,” he says.
Married to his college sweetheart, Christina Brooks, the couple have five children. Until recently Reggie Brooks worked for Notre Dame as the university’s Director of Student-Athlete Alumni Relations/Engagement and participated in after game shows. Recently he accepted the position of executive director of Holtz’s Heroes Foundation which precipitated a move from South Bend, Indiana to Prairie View, Texas. But that move was in part participated with his wife getting a job in Fort Worth and it was time, he said, to support her as she had always supported his career and many moves.
Still there was a sense of loss about leaving. Brooks had followed his brother Tony, who also played football, to the university after high school, played there throughout college and then returned. He loves the school’s values. When I tell him my brother taught accountancy there for 30 years and never ever was pressured to give a break to an athlete, he laughs, saying “You go to class, you do the work, that’s what makes it Notre Dame.”
He makes sure to complement the university’s accounting program as if wanting to assure me that it’s just as glamorous and important as their fabled football program. It’s just what makes him Reggie Brooks.
In 1924, Peter Levant’s opened what was one of Whiting’s famous “perch palaces,” a place that served freshly caught perch right from Lake Michigan. They also advertised such menu items as steak, chicken, and, of course, this being The Region, frog legs—mostly likely from nearby Lake George.
Indeed, frog legs were so in demand that Vogel’s—which was just down the street and totally classy—raised their own frogs for legs in the lake. But that’s a different story.
Located at 1247 Calumet Avenue, Levent’s became the home of Juster’s Charcoal Broiled Steaks and then later George Diamond’s. Though my mom liked to cook, my parents were totally into eating out as well and though its been years and years, I remember going with them to George Diamond’s. It was the kind of place where everything was overlarge—the steaks, the salads, the charcoal flames, and even the menus.
That Diamond (yes, there was a George Diamond) even opened a place in Whiting shows the town’s status as a food destination. Indeed, around that time, there were a lot of great restaurants–and I’m sure I’m leaving a lot of places out–Vogel’s, Phil Smidt’s, Margaret’s Geneva House, Al Knapp’s Restaurant and Lounge, and the Roby Café. But Diamond was international. Besides his flagship restaurant at 630 S. Wabash Avenue in Chicago that was said to have cost over $1 million to renovate in a style I call 1950s swank, all red velvet and red upholstery, he had places in Las Vegas, Palm Springs, Antioch, Illinois on a golf course, and Acapulco, Mexico.
What I remember most was the house salad dressing which they bottled and sold on the premises. It was so unique that even now it has a cult-like online following with people searching for the recipe. It wasn’t Russian and it certainly wasn’t French or at least not the orangish French dressing we buy in bottles now. Diamond’s dressing was an almost translucent reddish pink. And if the recipe I found online is close to the original, it’s main ingredient was tomato soup.
There’s nothing left of Diamond’s empire today. Diamond died in 1982 at age 80 and the building housing the Wabash Avenue restaurant went up in flames in 2006. But people still remember that dressing.
George Diamond’s salad dressing
1 (10-ounce) can condensed tomato soup
2/3 cup oil
1/2 cup each: white vinegar, sugar
1 small onion, peeled and grated
1 clove garlic, peeled and halved
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon each: salt, ground black pepper
Place undiluted soup, oil, vinegar, sugar, mustard, salt, pepper, onion and garlic in a blender or food processor fitted with a metal blade. Cover and blend or process on high speed until pureed, about 2 minutes. Serve chilled. Store covered leftovers in refrigerator.
Scarlet Clark, the lead character in Layne Fargo’s newest psychological thriller, They Never Learn, is not your typical English professor. While she takes her studies and students seriously, for 16 years she’s also been on a mission, to eliminate men at Gorman University she considers to be bad guys. By planning carefully and keeping the murder rate down to one a year, she’s managed to avoid discovery. That is until her last killing—the poisoning of a star football player accused of rape—doesn’t go so well.
She’d posted a suicide note on the guy’s Instagram account, but it turns out you can’t kill a star athlete without some ramifications. Suddenly, the other suicide notes written by Scarlet are under review and her current project—dispatching a lewd department head who also (not all of Scarlet’s killings are devoid of self-interest) is her competitor for a fellowship she desperately wants.
Trying to forestall discovery, Scarlet insinuates herself with the police investigation while under pressure to get away with soon with this next kill.
But it’s even more complex than this, after all it is a Fargo book and the Chicago author who wrote the well-received Temper, likes the complexities and power struggles inherent in relationships.
In this case, adding to the drama is the transformation of Carly Schiller, a freshman who has escaped an abusive home life and now immerses herself in studies as a way of avoiding life. But when Allison, her self-assured roommate, is sexually assaulted at a party, Carly dreams of revenge.
“We’ve had hard times, but we have resilience and we always knew we wanted to be together,” says Rev Run, front man of Run-DMC about how he and his wife make their marriage work.
A Hip Hop artist, even one who whose group has sold millions of records globally and was recently inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, isn’t the person we typically turn to when needing relationship advice.
“We’ve had hard times, but we have resilience and we always knew we wanted to be together,” says Rev, front man of Run-DMC.
“Now people come up to us, people who see us on TV or follow us on Instagram,” says Justine about their reality shows—Run’s House, All About the Washingtons and Rev Run’s Sunday Suppers. “They ask us for advice or say we should write a book about how we make our marriage work.”
You can’t have a marriage without a love story, so let’s start with theirs. They met when Rev Run was just Joey but, still at the age of 15, an up and coming musician. He met Justine when performing at a roller rink. She was 14 but a vision in blue as he remembers. They went out, they liked each other, he wrote her a letter saying, “I will marry you one day.” But though they both lived in New York, the physical distance eventually worked against them. They parted. Joey became Rev Run, front man for the first rap group to earn a Grammy Lifetime Achievement honor. He was on top—fame, gold and platinum records, millions of fans, long days and crazy nights as he recalls. For some that would be all you’d ever need.
But there must have been something missing because years later when his cousin asked him if he remembered a girl named Justine, Rev Run asked him to get her number. He called and just like that the relationship was on again.
So what makes a marriage last, I ask Rev and he refers me to the chapter he wrote about that very subject. It’s simple but it all makes sense. “If you want to go partying and clubbing and carousing and drinking, here’s a better piece of advice: Do. Not. Get. Married.” Instead just stay single.
He has more to say.
“Be selfless, not selfish,” he tells me. “Pay attention, listen to what your spouse is saying, don’t let it be in the background. “If I can see she really wants something or if she doesn’t see my point of view, then I back up. One of the biggest takeaways I want for this book is that it’s important to listen to the whispers to avoid the screams later.”
Takeaways are a big component of their book. Each of the chapters, written alternately by Rev and Justine end with a page of “Takeaways” or their advice on nourishing relationships.
Here’s a big one from Justine.
“Both my parents were divorced and remarried,” she says. “If you have children and go into another relationship, make sure that they love your kids like they love you. And make sure you love their kids. If not, then don’t marry that person for your own selfish reasons because your child or their children will suffer.”
Luckily, when Justine met Rev she loved his three daughters. When the two adopted after the death of their infant daughter, they all blended into one family. Parenting became so important that the couple wroteTake Back Your Parenting: A Challenge to America’s Parents about how to make it all work.
Which brings us to this. Both Rev and Justine, who are a deacon and deaconess, want to help guide others—whether it’s in parenting or love. Helping is what they are all about.
One last thought. The letter 15-year-old Rev wrote the note pledging to marry Justine one day—well, she saved it and when they reconnected, she gave it to him.
What: Rev Run and Justine Simmons presentation, Q&A and book signing event. Old School Love and Why It Works
Cost: Each ticket includes a copy of the book and admits one or two people. You will receive your book when you arrive at the event. They will not be available for pick up before that time. Rev Run and Justine will be signing each attendees book and posing for photographs after their presentation.
Hilliard, who writes about Hip Hop culture and has been featured on C-Span, CNN Headline News, ABC News and Our World with Black Enterprise, has long had an adversarial relationship with food. Over 6-foot tall at the age of 12, she also wore both a size 12 dress and shoe at that time. In other words, she was different and she knew it.
“Fitting in was never an option for me,” Hilliard said in a phone interview, noting that she was the loser of the fat trilogy—someone with a slow metabolism, baby weight that didn’t go away and big bones. “Growing up, it was unfair that people said just do this or that to lose weight. But now I understand it’s about acceptance, to be comfortable and to be healthy and okay with who you are.”
It was a truth that Hilliard came to only after a long time of trying to change her body with the help of fad diets, intense workouts, starving herself and consuming diet pills. Now she looks at her body image in a different way and understands how much our culture negatively impacts the way we perceive ourselves, how corporations including the diet industry also reinforces our image of ourselves. It was enlightening and freeing. But it wasn’t easy.
“I thought the book was going to be way more lighthearted,” says Hilliard. “I didn’t realize how difficult it would be to write. But it helped me understand where I was at different times in my life.”
But being Hilliard, who made her national TV debut on NBC’s “Last Comic Standing.” the book is not only informative but laugh out loud funny as well. Afterall, she has a message for readers—you’re okay.
“I use a lot of facts and figures,” she says. “I didn’t want the book to be voyeuristic, I wanted it to be about how culture effects our relationship with food and our waistline and teaches us that we are nothing without a perfect body. I want to help people get away from that. Be healthy, be fit. It’s a new year but you don’t need to be a new you, just yourself.”
What: Chloe Hilliard is launching her new book and performing at Zanies Comedy Night Club.
When: Monday, January 6 and Tuesday, January 7 at 8 p.m.
“Reputation is a book about different members of a university community and how they react to a school-wide email hack– and a subsequent murder,” says Sara Shepard, author of the New York Times best seller, Pretty Little Liars. “There are a lot of different perspectives, a lot of scandals, and a lot of twists, but the crux of the novel deals with two estranged sisters, Willa and Kit, and how they come together again in a time of crisis. “
Sitting in the bar of a posh
hotel, Kit Manning-Strasser fumes that the Hawsers, the mega donors she flew
into town to wine, dine and hit up for a huge donation to the university where she
works, canceled at the last minute. Back at the offices of Aldrich University
Charitable Giving, her subordinate Lynn Godfrey is also angry. She’s the one
who spent hours and hours grooming the Hawsers for the big kill but it’s Kit who’ll
get the credit when the check arrives.
A text flashes on Lynn’s phone.
Get ready, it reads and as she’s pondering its meaning and who sent it, every
computer in the office goes dark. They’ve been hacked and their data stolen.
But as disastrous as that is, there’s opportunity as well. For one quick moment
a master list containing every file for every employee appears. Does Kit have
secrets she might be able to use, Lynn wonders, as she click to open her file.
And so begins Sara Shepard’s latest novel, Reputation, a take on modern technology and the old fashioned premise that everybody’s got something to hide.
“Reputation is a book about different members of a university community and how they react to a school-wide email hack– and a subsequent murder,” says Shepard, author of the New York Times best seller, Pretty Little Liars. “There are a lot of different perspectives, a lot of scandals, and a lot of twists, but the crux of the novel deals with two estranged sisters, Willa and Kit, and how they come together again in a time of crisis. “
Willa is Kit’s younger sister,
who scarred by an incident in her hometown, took off for California when young.
Throughout the years, Willa has avoided returning to her college town or having
any semblance of a real relationship with her older sister, who followed the
more traditional path, remaining at home. Marrying, Kit had two daughters and
then became a widow. But from the outside, anyway, she appears to have upgraded
her life to a bigger house, great vacations and a cushy life, with her
remarriage to a wealthy doctor.
maybe it’s not all that it’s cracked up to be,” says Shepard. “It’s Kit’s
husband who ends up being murdered because of rumors about him that come out in
the hack– and suddenly, all eyes are on Kit, wondering what she might have
done. But did Kit kill her husband? And maybe Willa is hiding a dark secret no
one in her family knows, too.”
Shepard conceived of this book at
the newspapers were filled with stories about the Sony hack.
“I couldn’t believe that people’s run-of-the-mill emails were suddenly
broadcast everywhere for everyone to read,” says Shepard. “It got me thinking
about what I’d do if my emails were on a similar server– or emails inboxes of
people I knew. We all have things we aren’t proud of, you know. As for setting
the novel in a college town, it seems like colleges are a big target for
hackers– and for scandals. Try Googling “college scandal.” You’ll
get so many varied results, your head will spin! And terribly, I remember
pitching an idea of an unethical coach before the whole Larry Nassar / USA
gymnastics scandal broke. It was eerie– and terrible– to see an imagined
scenario come true.”
Though she’s never had to deal with the intense scandals her characters
have endured, Shepard says she tries to relate to how they feel.
“We’ve all been betrayed,” she says. “We’ve all felt watched and judged.
We’ve all felt lost and small and scared. We’ve all felt the complications of
motherhood and marriage and, perhaps, being with a partner we don’t entirely
trust– or, at the very least, someone who turns out differently than what we
Shepard in conversation with New York Times
and USA Today Bestselling author Mary Kubica.
Thursday, December 5 at 7 p.m.
Anderson’s Bookshop Naperville, 123 W Jefferson Ave, Naperville, IL
Cost: This event is free and open to the public. To join the signing line, please purchase the author’s latest book, Reputation, from Anderson’s Bookshop. To purchase please stop into or call Anderson’s Bookshop Naperville (630) 355-2665 or order online.
Godfrey, a journalist, never intended to
become an expert on urban legends, ghostly tales and creatures half human and
half animal or whatever—there are so many different things that she categorizes
them in her book with chapter titles like “Haunts of the Werewolf,” “Phantom Quadrupeds,”
“Other Nonconformist Canines” and “I Saw
It all began in 1991 when Godfrey, a local
interest reporter at The Week, a weekly county newspaper in Delavan, Wisconsin,
was listening to similar stories told by sober locals about the frequent
sightings of what they described as a large wolf walking—and sometimes running
on its hind legs, devouring large amounts of road kill on Bray Road.
“I was trying to keep an open mind,” says
Godfrey, who was seriously skeptical.
But when she kept hearing the same
story—or relatively the same story—repeatedly from everyday type of reliable
people, she began to reconsider, wondering what they really were seeing. Could
it be a wolf that could, like trained dogs, walk up right like humans? Her
first book, Beast of Bray Road, Godfrey shared results from her
investigation and gained her national attention.
“It’s easier to record encounters than
understand them,” says Godfrey who has become more open to believing that there
are other-worldly things as well as real. “There’s a good chance that what
we call monsters are actually unknown and unidentified natural creatures that
have learned to be very elusive. After all, the people who report monsters come
from all demographics. They are police officers, businesspeople, teachers,
housewives, doctors—they’re from all walks of life. Sometimes they are too
traumatized to talk about it or report it.”
Many of Godfrey’s stories reflect her
geographic location—she still lives in Wisconsin. But she travels all over the
country to follow up on sightings. They not only cross state lines but also timelines—many
of the creatures she hears about today have their beginnings in legends
hundreds of years ago.
If you have a sighting you’d like to
report, she’d like you to email her at email@example.com says Godfrey, noting as a journalist, she’d like both
facts as well as the feelings and emotions engendered by encounter.
“Provide as much information as possible
including date, time of day, weather, lighting conditions,” she says, citing a
long list of what she’d like to know. These include physical characteristics as
well as any thoughts or emotions that occurred when a person made a sighting,
how they felt afterward, whether they observed the creature leave the scene,
any interactions with the creature, whether, after the sighting, the person returned
to check for evidence such as footprints or hair and such. And for those who can draw, a sketch would be
great. Those reporting sightings should know that Godfrey keeps all the
information she gathers confidential unless she has permission to reveal it.
“For those who do go looking for these
creatures or who have encounters, Godfrey is both reassuring and cautioning.
“We need to take care,” she says. “As we
would of any wild thing.”
What: Reading, Q&A and signing with Linda Godfrey
When: Thursday, July 25 at 7:00 PM
Where: The Book Cellar, 4736-38 N Lincoln Ave Chicago, IL
“It’s a totally separate mystery from the first book,” says Shaffer while sitting at a table where a long line had formed waiting for him to autograph copies of his novel at a two-day book fair in Lexington, Kentucky. “The first was set in Wilmington, Delaware and this one is set in Chicago on Obama’s turf and takes place in the spring around St. Patrick’s Day which is certainly a holiday they take seriously there.”
who at one time lived in Chicago, says he revisited old haunts and new places for
background as the two BFFs hunt for Obama’s Blackberry and the murderer of the their
who originally stole it.
the premise of the two joining together as detectives is somewhat zany, Shaffer
describes his book as dealing with serious topics as well.
“But I try to do it in a lighthearted way,” he says. Also, fun are the covers for both books including the first in the series, Hope Never Dies. Harkening back to the vivid colors of 1960s, the first shows Biden driving a convertible while Obama stands in the front seat pointing out the way as they chase their quarry. In the latest, Obama leans down from a swaying rope ladder tethered to a helicopter, his arm outstretched to help Biden up.
One person who thinks the mysteries
are fun is the former vice president. When Biden was campaigning in Kentucky
(Shaffer and his wife, a romance writer, live in Louisville), he was contacted
by the campaign who set up a meeting.
know whether he liked the book or not or what he was going to say,” says Shaffer
adding that the Biden hadn’t read either book but signed his copies. “It was really
kind of different to have a character in your book sign your book. I found out later
that people have been bringing my books to his campaign stops and asking him to
sign them, so he was probably thinking who’s the guy who wrote this?”
tricky writing about people we know publicly but not in person says Shaffer.
in ways I know them too well because I know their history and what I think they
would do and say, because I’ve written about them and I’ve seen and read about
them for eight years,” he says. “When I heard Biden speak in Kentucky, I was
like my Biden wouldn’t say that.”
book might have garnered a few votes for the vice president.
one person who said I can’t wait to vote for them again because now they’re
detectives,” he says.
Cost: This event is free and open to the public. To join the
signing line, please purchase the author’s latest book, Hope Rides Again,
from Anderson’s Bookshop. To purchase, stop in or call Anderson’s Bookshop