Friday, February 12, 2016

How Sweet It Is!

Thought for the day:  Man cannot live on bread alone; he must have peanut butter.


[morguefile]
Most women would also tout the vital importance of chocolate. Especially this time of year, with Valentine's Day only a couple days away. Not all, mind you. Some would prefer... cheese. Not mentioning any names, but especially someone with the initials Crystal Collier. (Um, when you read this post, Crystal, for your increased pleasure, I'd suggest you substitute the word cheese whenever I mention chocolate or candy...)

Now then, this post is gonna be a bit different from posts I've done for Valentine's Day in past years. This year, we're gonna talk about an inordinately sweet man known as the Candy Bomber. No, he has never detonated sweet caches of candy, (Perish the thought!) but at the end of World War II, his efforts delivered chocolate, chewing gum and much-needed HOPE and LOVE to war-torn Berlin. (Cheese, Crystal, cheese...)

[wikipedia]

To refresh your memories, following the end of World War II, Germany was divided into four occupied sectors. Berlin was also split among the four occupying countries, as shown in the map, with the western part being shared by France, Great Britain, and the United States, and the eastern part occupied by the Soviet Union. Berlin was actually situated deep within the Soviet-controlled portion of the country, and let's just say they weren't enamored with the other countries controlling any part of Berlin. They wanted all of it. In hopes of achieving that end, they closed all highways, railroads and canals from western-occupied Germany into western-occupied Berlin, initiating what came to be known as the Berlin Blockade. They figured they would force the other countries to abandon their areas of Berlin.

[wikipedia]
They figured wrong. In response to the blockade, the U.S. and U.K initiated the Berlin Airlift, or as it was officially known, Operation Vittles, to supply food, fuel, and other supplies to Berliners via airplane. During the airlift, an Allied supply plane took off or landed every thirty seconds, and made more than 300,000 flights in all, delivering approximately 2.3 million tons of cargo.



courtesy of the U.S. Air Force [wikipedia]
In 1948 and '49, 27 year-old Colonel Gail "Hal" Halvorsen piloted C-47s and C-54s during the airlift. He was also an avid photographer, and while taking pictures one day, a group of about thirty children watched him through the fence. When he talked with them, he was astounded by the gratitude they expressed, and by the fact that they didn't ask him for anything. He wanted to do something for them. He only had a couple pieces of chewing gum, which he passed through the fence. To his amazement, the children tore it into tiny pieces and shared it as best they could, and then ripped the wrappers into tiny pieces, too, and passed them around, so they could all get a whiff of the minty goodness.

His heart ached for these children, and he promised to drop some candy to them from his plane. So they'd know it was him, he said he'd wiggle his wings at them, which made the children laugh, and earned him the nickname Onkel Wackelfulgel, or Uncle Wiggle Wings. 


courtesy of the U.S. Air Force [wikipedia]
When Hal got back to base, he used his rations to buy candy, and got some of his friends to contribute, too. They used extra clothes and handkerchiefs to fashion little parachutes for the boxes of candy, and the next morning, in addition to his usual supply drop, Hal dropped three boxes of candy to the children. It was the start of a regular routine for him, in which he dropped candy to the children every week. He became known as Rosinenbomber, or the Candy Bomber.

[In the picture, he's in the midst of attaching candy to parachutes.]


courtesy of U.S. Air Force [wikipedia]



When the airlift commander heard about Hal's efforts, he gave it an official name... Little Vittles... and threw his support behind it. As the news of the operation spread, children and candymakers all over the U.S. began donating so many treats, the drops were increased to every other day. By the end of the airlift, some twenty-five aircraft crews had dropped twenty-five tons of chocolates, chewing gum, and other candies to the children in Berlin.

[wikipedia]
How did the children react? After the very first candy bombing, they started sending thank you notes to Hal... along with handkerchiefs to be used again as parachutes.

How did the countries react? With an outpouring of love and gratitude, which continues to this day.  Both Germany and the U.S. have bestowed numerous honors on Colonel Halversen, including the Congressional Gold Medal. In 2002, Hal was invited to the Olympics in Berlin, where he was given the honor of leading the German team during the opening ceremonies. In 2013, a secondary school in Berlin was named in his honor.

[wikipedia]
And every year, to commemorate the airlift, the Candy Bomber returns to Berlin... and drops candy to the children.

This picture was taken in Berlin in 1989, the fortieth anniversary of the end of the airlift.

As a lifelong devout Mormon and sometime missionary, Colonel Halvesen sincerely believes what he said some years ago: Service is the bottom line to happiness and fulfillment.

Not only has he lived his life by those words, he delivered happiness and fulfillment to many children, and his caring deeds went a long way toward healing wounds between countries that were once at war.

But he isn't done! Not yet...


[photo by Sammy Jo Hester,  The Daily Herald]



This picture of him was taken last July in Orem, Utah. Looks like he's still going strong, doesn't it?




That isn't all he was doing...







[photo by Spenser Heaps, The Daily Herald]



Yep! You guess it! He dropped one thousand candy bars, attached to tiny parachutes, to the excited children below.


The Dead Sea is dead because it wraps itself around all of the fresh water of the Jordan and gives out nothing. In your community, there are Dead Sea souls who do the same. [Gail Halversen, 2015]

It's a cinch, he isn't one of those Dead Sea souls. No, he's been more like a gentle rain that nourishes the parched earth, bringing hope, and creating fertile grounds for new growth of understanding and peace. And candy! Don't forget the candy! May this loving caring man continue to candy bomb for many more years to come. How sweet it is! No... how sweet HE is. Happy Valentine's Day, y'all.

                                     Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

78 comments:

  1. You brought tears to my eyes what a wonderful story.
    I am not a big chocolate fan but while I do like cheese I would rather have some Lemon Bars !

    Happy Heart Day !
    cheers, parsnip and thehamish

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    1. I'm glad you liked the story. Sometimes we all need to hear about one of the Good Guys.

      Lemon bars sound good to me, too!

      Happy Heart Day right back atcha. Cheers!

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  2. I remember this story and feeling so glad that someone thought of bringing sweetness to the kids.

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    1. Yeah, I can only imagine how much those sweets... and the loving thoughts behind them... meant to those children.

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  3. What a truly lovely man. I hope that his own life overflows with sweetness (or cheese).

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    1. I hope so, too. With as much joy as he has given others, I hope his life has been a joyous one, too, Somehow, I believe it has been.

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  4. I've never heard of Colonel Halvorsen before. What an uplifting and inspiring story. It certainly renews my waning faith in humanity.
    Thanks for sharing this sweet tale of generosity.

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    1. Good! I'm glad the story renewed your faith in humanity a little. No matter how many bad people and events we encounter, I honestly believe there are far more good people and events in the world. We just have to look for them.

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  5. Is it weird that I'd prefer neither chocolate nor cheese? LOL.

    And aw, this is such a sweet and inspiring story. Never heard of Colonel Halversen till now, but he definitely sounds like the perfect person to highlight for Valentine's Day! Amazing how he still drops candy down like that to this day...

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    1. Nah, not weird at all. One of my daughters-in-law would prefer PICKLES!

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  6. Wow, what a guy. He deserves more medals, like the medal for one of the best people ever.

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    1. Well, he's been awarded quite a few medals, but I don't think he's won THAT one. (Yet.)

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  7. very sweet story. I like the note about "thanks for the sky candy".........such a little treat from a big heart. Happy Valentine's weekend to you

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    1. Yeah, that fella definitely has a very big heart.

      Happy Valentine's weekend to you, too!

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  8. One awesome guy indeed. That is a lot of chocolate and candy that was dropped too.

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    1. Yeah, 25 tons of candy is a LOT. Good thing it wasn't all dropped at once. :)

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    3. Yep... or on one kid. Talk about getting smothered (and smashed) with kindness...

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  9. Wow - that is a wonderful story to read on a Friday morning when the world is full of bad-news stories. I'm sure there are other good news stories like this one, but we just don't get to hear them. May this one inspire many more. What a man! What a human being!

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    1. For sure! There are plenty of inspiring stories to be told; unfortunately, too few people tell them.

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  10. I loved this post so much. It's so full of hope and determination. The fact that he selflessly tried to be the change he wanted in the world. And what a marvellous idea to do that with children! :-)

    Thanks.

    Greetings from London.

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    1. I agree. To change the world for the better, what better place to begin than with children?

      I'm glad you liked the post. Greetings back atcha.

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  11. What a sweet story. He and the other contributors made so many people happy. Happy Valentine's Day weekend.

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    1. He and the other fliers certainly did their best to make a difference, and to make people happy, especially the children.

      Happy Valentine's Day to you, too.

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  12. Aw, what a wonderful story. I love that they called him "Uncle Wiggle Wings."

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  13. Thank you, Susan. I've known a number of men who flew the Airlift and took a measureless pride in having done so. Your account of Colonel Halvorsen's innovation is a special addition.

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    1. All of the airlift participants should be proud of what they did, not just in Berlin, but the humanitarian efforts in other countries, as well.

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  14. This is such a great story. I've never heard the dead sea souls quote before but it is definitely well worth remembering.

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    1. Isn't that a GREAT quote? He may not be a spring chicken anymore, but he's still one sharp cookie.

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  15. Oh, the candy man can. Yeah, the candy man can. The candy man can 'cause he mixes it with love and make the world taste good.

    I appreciate your tribute to this man.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. Great minds think alike. That song was going through my head the whole time I was writing this post. :)

      Happy Valentine's Day, Janie! I hope you're feeling better.

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  16. What an incredible story. I just shared your blog on my facebook page. Loved reading about this man. Wow. I'd never heard his story before. Thanks for sharing this.

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    1. I'm glad you liked the story, Barb, and thanks for sharing it. :)

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  17. Hi Susan - what a wonderful story ... amazing candy man. So interesting to read - I knew Americans gave things away during the war and thereafter in the days of rationing .. but this is heart-warming and he's carried on. Certainly stirs the heart and that's what we all need over Valentine's weekend - cheers Hilary

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    1. HI-ya, Hilary. I'm glad you enjoyed the story. Something heart-warming seemed especially appropriate for this weekend. :)

      Cheers back atcha!

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  18. Tom Brokow did a story about the Colonel last year and it was shown on PBS for either Memorial Day or July 4th. Some of the recipients of his good deeds were in attendance. I was crying like a baby when it was over. Good people and acts of kindness do that to me. Thanks for telling me the story again. Excuse me, as I have to get a Kleenex.

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    1. I'm sorry I missed seeing the story on PBS, but I did see a tiny snippet of it on Youtube. The show must have been terrific.

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  19. Thanks for this beautiful post, Susan! He is very much remembered in Berlin by old folks (and the children then living in Berlin), and the name "Rosinenbomber" is something anyone here knows. A wonderful and kind deed!
    We live quite near to the Schöneberger Rathaus, where the Friedensglocke rings - and one radiomessage of a broadcastery is always at 12 a-m. the text of a part of the American Declaration of Independance.

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    1. Dear Britta,

      I'm so glad this struck a note with you, and it's terrific to hear about the Candy Bomber from the German perspective. I never knew about the radio messages that cover part of our Declaration of Independence. That's really interesting! Thanks for letting me know.

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  20. blessings.....
    quite a contrast from chocolate to cheese to war.
    I love chocolate though I am discriminating, I love cheese, although discriminating there too. War not so much yet I am thankful for those that were/are on the front line, have a lot of family serving. Just lost one last year - his one year annaversary is coming up Feb 21st. If you have an opportunity stop by the blog I do in his memory utilizing some of his writings along with my own http://honoringossie.blogspot.ca/.

    Have a blessed weekend.
    peace.
    Rhapsody
    http://rappingonamelody.blogspot.ca/
    https://plus.google.com/101099217204323189067
    https://www.goodreads.com/rhapsodyphoenix
    http://twitter.com/rhapsodyphoenix
    http://pinterest.com/rhapsodyphoenix/
    https://www.facebook.com/RhapsodyPhoenix
    http://www.bloglovin.com/blog/4a442621/rhapsody-phoenix
    http://rhapsodyphoenix.tumblr.com/


    “The highest education is that which does not merely give us information, but makes our life in harmony with all existence”-Rabindranath Tagore

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    1. I agree with you. Thumbs up on chocolate and cheese, and two thumbs down on war. I'm so sorry war claimed one of your family members last year. I'll definitely check out your tribute to him.

      Blessings back at you.

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  21. Isn't this one of the best and sweetest stories in the history of humankind?

    A few years ago, I had the chance to see one of the planes that participated in this operation at the Sun N Fun fly-in here in Lakeland. They had pictures, newspaper articles, and the historic background inside the plane. I was misty-eyed as I got out of the plane. What a great story!

    Happy Valentine's Day to you and Smarticus.

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    1. I think it is. (Obviously, you do, too!)

      How cool that you got to be inside one of the planes. I don't blame you for getting misty-eyed.

      Thanks! It's almost over now, but we had a super day. (Heck, super weekend!) I hope yours was terrific, too.

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  22. LOVED THIS! We all need someone to drop sweets on us now and again. Happy Valentine's Day!

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    1. THANKS! I'm glad you did. Yeah, we could all use a bit of sugar every now and then.

      And a very Happy Valentine's Day to you, too.

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  23. Susan, I like this story... it's so nice that he started out with a small gesture and people jumped on the bandwagon with him... it's awesome that there are so many good people in the world, even if it doesn't look like it... and a small gesture can change the world... (I like cheese too ... lol)

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    1. In spite of what's on the news, there are still plenty of good people in the world, and like the Candy Bomber showed us, sometimes that goodness can be contagious. :)

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  24. Susan, I'm very much in the know regarding Colonel Gail "Hal" Halvorsen. What a great story and thanks for sharing it in such depth with us!

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    1. I only became aware of this story in recent months, and thought it was too good not to share. I'm glad you (and a number of others) were already familiar with it. Y'all are a bunch of smart cookies.

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  25. What an awesome story, and further proof that all it takes is one person to start something big and make a difference. I hadn't heard of the guy before, but I'm glad I do now. The handkerchief parachutes were a great touch.

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    1. Yep, it's a big fat cop-out when someone fails to do something because he's "just one person." One motivated person can definitely make a difference.

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  26. Gosh darnit, he makes my ears tear and my heart smile. What an angel. Thanks for spotlighting Hal Halvorsen, the Candy Bomber.

    I hope you had a very sweet Valentines Day, and I'm sorry it took so long for me to drop by.
    Hugs, hon!

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    1. See, I KNEW you had a soft heart! :)

      No need to apologize. It's always good to hear from you. Hugs back atcha, kiddo.

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  27. The original Candy Man! While I've heard mention of the Candy Bomber, I knew nothing about him. Now I’m ashamed I didn’t do a little research. Thank you for doing it for me, Susan. What an inspirational story—I can't stop smiling.

    VR Barkowski

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    1. My pleasure! Really. I'm one of those weird ducks who loves to do research.

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  28. What a wonderful story. I've never heard it before, but I love it. Hurrah for WiggleWings. :)

    And while I'm here, Happy Valentine's Day weekend to you.

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    1. Yeah, Uncle Wiggle Wings is quite a guy. :)

      Thanks! I hope you had a super Valentine's weekend, too.

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  29. Now that's the perfect Valentine Story! It would have been perfect for the WEP - Valentine Challenge!
    Was this research for a book? It's lovely and would make a great story for a book and or movie! You'd be the perfect writer!
    Thanks for sharing!
    And Happy Valentine's Day, well, day after Valentine's Day!

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    1. Well, darn. I shoulda joined your Challenge, huh? Oh well. Maybe next time.

      No, it wasn't research for a book. I heard enough about him to pique my interest, and wanted to know MORE. So I dove into the rabbit hole. :)

      Happy couple days after Valentine's... AND Happy couple days after your Anniversary, too. (You ol' romantic...)

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  30. I haven't heard this story before. It amazes me how many people committed small good acts in the face of so many evil ones associatd with that war. This story is exceptionally sweet! ;)

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    1. Acts of kindness always make a difference, but I think during and in the aftermath of war, they matter even more, and touch our hearts more deeply.

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  31. It's amazing to think how one small favor could end up meaning so much to so many people.

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    1. Like ripples in a stream caused by one little pebble.

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  32. When I got to the picture of him from last year I got all choked up. Amazing! And to think he is still at it, bringing joy to so many children. These are the kinds of stories I would love to hear more of instead of all the ugliness we get from the news. Thanks for sharing!
    And I loved the thought of the day because I have said many times that I could live on peanut butter. No question. :D

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  33. Yeah, this is my kinda story, too. There's more than enough "ugly" in the world, so why not share more of the sweet?

    HA! I'm a peanut butter freak, too. :)

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  34. What a sweet story!! The world has so many wonderful souls working on it, so good to see one highlighted. Ugly sells better, but stories like Hal's warms the heart.

    (That's truth about the peanut butter...it's my go-to staple.)

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    1. I'm all for warming the heart... and eating peanut butter. :)

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  35. Bwahahahaha! Oh Susan, thank you for the chuckles (and cheese).

    I actually watched a video all about the Candy Bomber last year, and I was totally inspired. There is goodness in the world, even in the midst of war, eh?

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    1. HA! I was starting to worry you wouldn't get here in time to see this cheesy post. :)

      Yes, there is always goodness in the world. I've always believed that, and I always will.

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  36. Stumbled across a book on Amazon not long written by Leon Uris. It is called "Armageddon: A Novel of Berlin" and it mostly tells the story of the Berlin airlift. Being a history nerd I was totally enthralled by the book. And yes, the author mentions the candy drop. I highly recommend the book.

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01BRL7KH6/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?ie=UTF8&btkr=1

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    1. I haven't read anything by Uris in a while, and haven't heard anything about this one before. Thanks for the heads up. (We history nerds have to stick together.)

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  37. I've never heard of him before! Thanks Sus, what a story, what a guy, and how sweet it is! <3

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    1. I'm thrilled to be the one who introduced you to the story. I KNOW he's your kinda guy. :)

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  38. Argh, this made me cry! How amazing, that there are ppl like that in the world. I've never heard of this either, so thank you for sharing!

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    1. Sorry to make you cry, but isn't it wonderful to know people like him are still around?

      Thanks for signing on as a follower, Leandra. Welcome aboard!

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  39. Hi Susan - thanks for the tip re the colour .. I'd have never thought I could 'apply' it that way - when the whole is from a blogger template - still trial and error I guess. Thanks - and I've 'forgotten' your email .. can't put my little brain into gear to bring it back to the memory forefront - hence this note here .. so please delete it ... if you wish! Cheers and thanks for the tip .. Hilary

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