CCW wraps up Christmas tradition

by marlys good

Peanut brittle, divinity, caramels, Almond Roca and peanut butter balls are just a few of the delicious homemade candies the community expects to find covering several tables at the annual holiday craft bazaar at Herb Asp Community Center.

Sponsored by the Council of Catholic Women (Altar Society), members of Sacred Heart/St. Philip’s Catholic churches have been selling the goodies for 30-plus years (they also sold Rada knives), giving the money to charity. If you purchased candy this year, enjoy it; there will be no booth next year, unless another organization takes it over.

“I’m getting too old,” laughed Esther Lindsey, co-chair of the CCW with the late Ann Mazur. As membership declined, and the age of the candy-makers “inclined,” it got harder and harder to get volunteers to make all the candy needed to fill the tables.

“We would ask (members) for either homemade candy or a donation, and as the years went by, we started getting more donations, and less candy.” There was a lot of work involved, getting signs, tables ready, knives set up for display, candy weighed and wrapped. “We had a scale and measured the candy into 1-pound portions.” At $5 per pound, it was a bargain.

Lindsey said for many, many years, the CCW booth was the first table to the right as you entered the hall. Then several years ago, organizers switched things up. “You’d see people walk in, immediately look to the right – and get that look at their faces when they didn’t us where we had always been.” Didn’t take them long to get acclimated.

For the past 19 years Tina Spragg has donated her expertise, making signs, helping put up/take down the tables. It is a collective/cooperative effort by many women that has kept it going for the past 30 years.

“Ora Probst always made divinity and every year Art Schutte would be at the hall, even before the doors officially opened, buying as much of the divinity as he could. Mary (Shelledy) always made caramels, and Bob Nielsen would come in every year just for that.” Ione Craft’s peanut brittle was a popular item; and you could always depend on finding Almond Roca made by Shirley Williams.

Lindsey said she was introduced to Rada cutlery by the late Willa Austin, who sold it. When Austin “got out of the business,” the Catholic women took it over.

All the money raised went to charity, usually associated with the church so they knew it went directly to the charity – no middle man involved. At one time the Altar Society “adopted” a girl from Africa; that was dropped when the girl married. “For the past five years the money has gone to St. Joseph’s Children’s Home in Torrington ($500 each year).”

Lindsey said sales were excellent this year, as they have been every year. “We are just so thankful to the Basin and Greybull communities for their support; they have been wonderful.”

After three decades Lindsey said she is going to “miss the people,” co-workers, customers, etc., that have been a big part of the effort year-after-year. “We’re hoping some one else will take it over.”