A reason to smile: Geneva dentist treats employees to local shopping spree
On occasion, you'll see a snippet on the television news or in the newspaper about a company that does amazing things for employees during the holidays.
It's nice to see at this time of year, but even better when you see it unfold right in your town. In that regard, Geneva dentist Dr. Elizabeth Sacrey has taken the concept of a holiday-season bonus for employees to a level that assures many merchants in Geneva also benefit.
With Dr. James Sacrey settling into his retirement, the Sacrey name continues to be associated with dentistry in Geneva as his daughter Elizabeth and associate Dr. Scott Capper keep the practice on Anderson Boulevard in operation.
The office, now known as Sacrey Dentistry & Associates rather than Sacrey & Sacrey, earlier this year, marked 50 years of service in the community.
For the past 20 years, the eight employees at this dental office could undoubtedly say they receive an interesting holiday-season bonus.
Each employee gets $200 in Geneva Chamber of Commerce "bucks" to spend at Geneva stores that accept those gift tokens. They also get $20 to spend on a colleague as part of a Secret Santa event in the office.
"You have to spend the money on yourself," said office manager Jamie Sacrey-Kohorst, "My sister (Dr. Elizabeth) tells the employees they work so hard throughout the year, she wants it to be about us and to treat ourselves."
That's a good concept, but it also assures the employees are spending the money in town through the chamber dollars.
"We have such a fun day," Jamie said. "It's a shopping high. If you can't find something in downtown Geneva, there is something wrong."
There's another twist. The employees have one day to do this. They get the chamber bucks in the morning, the office closes at noon on that day and they head out for their shopping spree. Then they all meet at Elizabeth Sacrey's home for a holiday party. "The employees come back to her house and talk about what they bought," Jamie said.
The Secret Santa aspect helps employees learn more about each other because when names are picked from a basket, information about what the person is interested in and likes to do is included. Anyone who has participated in a Secret Santa event knows this kind of information is helpful.
It may be too late this year for other businesses to pick up on this idea or a variation of it. But it's one that was worth a mention now because it has hardworking employees and the community the dental office serves in mind.
'Marlboro Man' passing:
Senior citizens who have been around St. Charles for many years remind me about people and things in this area that I may not have initially been aware of or even forgotten about over time.
The passing of Bob Norris at age 90 early last month in Colorado Springs triggered one such trip down memory lane. Norris grew up in St. Charles but was recognized and known worldwide because he portrayed the original "Marlboro Man" on television and print advertisements for the cigarette brand through the 1960s.
He had been a rancher in Colorado Springs much of his adult life but grew up here as the son of one of St. Charles' most famous couples -- Dellora and Lester Norris. He attended Elgin Academy and went to college at the University of Kentucky. Bob was one of five Norris children as his siblings were Laverne, Lester Jr., Joann and John. Reader Rosemary Leppert recalled the last time Bob Norris was in St. Charles was more than 15 years ago for the dedication of the Dellora Norris statute that sculptor Ray Kobald built.
Another interesting fact? Bob Norris didn't smoke cigarettes. That aspect of his personal life certainly helped him reach the age of 90.
Those disposable lights
Strings of holiday lights on our Christmas tree or the bushes outside tend to go out after a year or two. Then you get another string and do it all over again. I wonder if Edward Hibberd Johnson had that sort of "disposable lights" concept in mind in 1882.
He was Thomas Edison's assistant at that time, and he's generally credited with the idea that electric lights would look good on Christmas trees.
The idea didn't take long to catch on. Christmas lights were mass-produced by 1890. I'm sure they didn't look anything like the tiny bulbs we see now on our decorations. Five years after that, President Grover Cleveland presented the first electrically lit Christmas tree in the White House.
Silent film delight
The timing might not have been the best in terms of spending part of a day at the Arcada Theatre in downtown St. Charles when I maybe should have been out Christmas shopping or doing other tasks. But I couldn't turn down what amounts to a history lesson every time the theater shows silent films from 100 years ago.
That was the reasoning behind attending the Laurel and Hardy film festival last weekend, viewing some of the famous comedy team's silent films for the first time and their great "Sons of the Desert" feature.
The old theater wasn't full, but there were a lot of people there. Most of them were from the "Bacon Grabbers" organization, a Laurel and Hardy fan club that operates out of the Chicago suburbs. The group was having its 50th-anniversary celebration and chose the Arcada to do it.
It was a good choice, considering Lester Norris, the St. Charles philanthropist who built that theater in the mid-1920s, was a big fan of the vaudeville and silent-era stars. Arcada frontman Ron Onesti shared a story with attendees about how Norris helped movie mogul Hal Roach finance some of his early movies, thus fueling the careers of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, and many others.
I would recommend to anybody that a silent film showing at the Arcada is time well spent. It's a trip into yesteryear that is not easy to find these days. Plus, the work of organist Jay Warren during the films puts you directly back into a theater during the 1920s.
The Arcada's famous 1926 pipe organ is undergoing some rehab, so Warren used a digital keyboard last weekend, but it was still outstanding.
A great match day
The Colonial Café efforts on Dec. 14 to match any contributions to the Salvation Army red kettles in the Tri-Cities up to $40,000 paid off nicely.
The Salvation Army reports that nearly $57,000, including the matches, came in that day alone.
It should be noted that Mary Ann and Jim Lindquist help make those match donations possible, and have done so for the past few years.