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Some holiday-season Ask Joan miscellany

Ronald Klimes shared this 1970 photo of the star he used to light up on his Springettsbury Township home.
Ronald Klimes shared this 1970 photo of the star he used to light up on his Springettsbury Township home.

Hi everyone! Are you ready for Christmas yet, if you celebrate? In our house, many trees are up and decorated, the nutcracker collection is marching along the mantel, the music boxes are placed along a window ledge, and the cats are desperately trying to get into it all.

Today, I have a collection of holiday-related notes to share. And next week, stay tuned on Christmas Sunday because I have a special seasonal treat for Only in York County readers.

Last year, we talked about the Christmas pins given out by The Bon-Ton. Shortly after that, reader Cindy Baugher, formerly of Baugher Motors, who said that Zimmerman Jewelers on West Market Street had a wreath hanging in his store with numerous pins from many of the York stores. Since that was already after Christmas, I didn’t get a chance to go check that out last year, but I just wanted to say what a great idea that sounds like! Cindy noted, “My mother always took me to get my picture with Santa and we got a pin each time.”

Meanwhile, on more of a holiday baking note, some time ago, reader Don Knaub wrote and asked for the recipe for sugar cookies from the former Bear’s Department Store in York.

If you need to do some holiday baking yet, Barbara Rollman shared two recipes that might be of interest – including one for those sugar cakes!

Bear’s Sugar Cakes

3 eggs
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup shortening (either 1/2 cup butter and 1/4 cup margarine, or all butter)
4 1/2 cups flour
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda, dissolved in vinegar
1 Tablespoon vanilla

Beat eggs first, then shortening and sugar; add 1/2 cup buttermilk, vanilla, 3 1/2 cups flour, then add soda and the other 1/2 cup buttermilk and 1 cup flour mixed with baking powder. Drop by tablespoons on greased cookie sheet. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 375 to 400 degrees F for 9 to 10 minutes. Optionally, sprinkle with more sugar after they’re baked.

Soft Molasses Crinkles

1 1/2 cups butter
2 cups brown sugar (1 cup light, 1 cup dark)
2 eggs
1/2 cup Brer Rabbit molasses (yellow label)
4 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Cream shortening and sugar. Add eggs and molasses. Beat until well-blended. Add dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. Chill dough in refrigerator. Shape into balls 1 inch in diameter. Roll balls in granulated sugar. Place 2 inches apart on baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees F for 12 minutes. Sprinkle a little sugar on top of cookies after they are baked. Makes 7 to 8 dozen cookies.

Barbara notes that both of these recipes freeze very well, but I’m guessing if you’re doing some holiday baking for company, you won’t have to worry about freezing your dough!

Finally today, I wanted to share a note from John E. “Jack” Krug, who asked me to do an article on Christmas stories. He wrote, “We all remember the tree falling over, but there are plenty more out there.”

Well, I don’t have a specific column on that topic exactly, but I did want to share one fun previous Christmas post: Do you remember this York County Christmas star? In it, reader Ronald Klimes talks about a sight many longtime Yorkers will remember, related to the star you see in the photo with today’s column!

And, if you do have Christmas stories and memories to share, please send them my way! I’d love to share them.

Have questions or memories to share? Email me at or write to Ask Joan, York Daily Record/Sunday News, 1891 Loucks Road, York PA 17408. We cannot accept any phone calls with questions or information.