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Column: We all love everyone, everywhere in Christmas season

Editor’s note: Former longtime Daily Globe Editor Ray Crippen died Dec. 27, 2015. We will continue to publish previously run “Isn’t That Something” columns on Saturdays, until further notice, as a tribute to Crippen and his knowledge of local and regional history. The following column first appeared Dec. 24, 2005.

WORTHINGTON — The Christmas and New Year holidays both are upon us. Days are getting longer. Everything is going our way.

Someone said, “And the price of gas is reasonable again.” I didn’t say anything. I have told you I used to sell gasoline five gallons for one dollar. Even two-dollar-a-gallon gas never seems reasonable to me.

This reminds me: I should report that I am doing battle with the gas company — the natural gas company. I don’t know if you noticed; the price of natural gas is getting high, too.

In the long ago, the gas company kept an office at Worthington, opposite the State Theatre on Third Avenue, next door to the Daily Globe. There were some good men working there. Charlie Mattingly, Bob Geisendorfer, Jack Wallace. Charlie, and then Bob, managed the place.

They all served on local committees and local boards, of course. When it was your turn to work the block for Red Cross donations, you knew they would give.

They talked of “Blue Flame.” Cook your meals, heat your home with the clean Blue Flame. I think it was Minnesota Natural Gas, and then Northern Natural. Worthington gave the gas company a monopoly. It is for them to charge — whatever — with no competition. They maintain no office here now, pay no real estate taxes and they don’t give a dime to our local Red Cross.

About my doing battle with them:

I have a microwave, a crock pot, a toaster oven and one of George Foreman’s grills. I’ve got an arrangement with Hy-Vee; Cliff Miller bakes cinnamon rolls fresh every morning.

The point is, I am not using my gas range. I am not cooking with gas. I don’t know that it makes a difference in the final bill, but it gives me a satisfaction.

I was telling about this. Someone said, “What would you do about the gas company?”

I said, “About their monopoly? I would tell them they have to provide postpaid, return envelopes with their gas bills. They can afford the postage on their end better than we can afford it on this end. One home furnace at Worthington would cover their postage costs for a year.”

Postage costs. I am sure you noted the price of first-class stamps is going to 39 cents. I was getting Christmas cards into the mail. That price hike caused me, oh, a kind of embarrassment.

I went to Hy-Vee’s service desk. “Can I use a debit card to buy U.S. postage stamps?” I asked. “Oh sure,” the young man told me.

He rang $7.40 on the register. One sheet of stamps. I started pushing the debit card buttons and the young man went to sell another man some lottery tickets at the next register. The young clerk came back, gave me my receipt and took a sheet of stamps from a drawer. They are Valentine stamps — a design with two pieces of heart-shaped candy and a message that says, “I Love You.”

“It’s all we’ve got. It’s all we can get,” the young man explained. “The post office is getting no more 37-cent stamps. They’re cleaning out all of their old stock.”

Well — some people will wonder why I am sending a Christmas greeting and telling them, “I Love You.” I should not be saying “I Love You” to some people.

While the topic is stamps, we missed a 100th anniversary last Christmas. It was in the Christmas season of 1904 that Christmas seals first went out to help end the TB scourge. This was in Denmark. A man from Denmark had the idea. The first seals in the United States came in 1907.

I remember, in the long ago, the Christmas seal campaign was one of the few national fundraising efforts we knew. Christmas seals were a penny apiece. You bought a sheet of 100. The designs vary year to year, but there always was/is the bright red cross with the double bars.

One Christmas seal went on each Christmas card, usually on the back. You knew you were doing a bit to help a good cause — Worthington had the TB sanatorium in that era. It is my impression people still put Christmas seals on their Christmas cards with a bit of pride.

And now: Merry Christmas to you! Love ya.