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Christmas present from a stranger will be cherished

December 18, 1997

Christmas present from a stranger will be cherished

KATE COLEMAN

Staff Writer

Here's a story with a happy ending.

On Sunday, Nov. 16, Lifestyle shared readers' memories of their favorite childhood books in celebration of Children's Book Week.

One reader, Cindy Lauffer of Waynesboro, Pa., called to tell us about a small book she loved as a child, "Under the Saskatoon Tree." She mentioned that she doesn't remember the author and has searched without success to find a copy of the little book that had such an impact on her.

It tells the story of animals in the forest gathering to play and have a good time under the Saskatoon tree on a gray, rainy day. They had fun despite the weather, and Lauffer said she believes that kids wouldn't mind gray, rainy days if they could read this book. She doesn't.

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A recent rainy day, Wednesday, Dec. 10, brought Lauffer a wonderful surprise.

A man greeted her by name at her Hagerstown workplace. He identified himself only as "Gary." He told her he recognized her from her picture in the newspaper, and asked her if she had found her book.

Lauffer had not.

"I have a little Christmas present for you," Gary said, and he handed Lauffer a book - "Under the Saskatoon Tree."

Lauffer was in shock, and told him she couldn't believe he would give her his childhood copy.

"It obviously means more to you than it does to me," was the man's response.

He also said he hopes her son enjoys the book as much as she did. Then he was gone as quickly as he had arrived.

Flabbergasted, Lauffer didn't think to ask Gary's last name.

Inside the book Lauffer found the middle and last name of a young owner. There were two listings in area telephone books, but repeated calls failed to find the mystery man at home.

Lauffer said she will keep the book for her 8-month-old son, Ian.

She thanks Gary, and so do we.

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