Senior Living

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Copyright c 2019 Five Points Bank. All rights reserved. Zelle and the Zelle related marks are wholly owned by Early Warning Services, LLC and are used herein under license. Send money with Zelle ® and retire your checkbook GET STARTED TODAY Send money directly from your account to theirs, typically in minutes 1 Send and receive money right from your online or mobile bank account Send money to almost anyone you know 2 using an email address or U.S. mobile phone number For reservations or more information, please call Linda Green at 308-389-8783. www.theindependent.com The Grand Island Independent THURSDAY, DECEMBER 12, 2019 4A senior LIVING HOBBIES & HANDICRAFTS ‘It never ends’: Hanssen collects Christmas all year-round By Kit Grode kit.grode@theindependent.com December has rolled around, and John Hanssen is fully in the holiday spirit. Hanssen, who works for the Green Plains ethanol plant in Central City, is well-known in the community for his work with the Hall County Historical Society — and during the winter holidays, for his collec- tion of antique Christmas ornaments and decorations. It begins with family “I started collecting — first old Christmas … and then Easter and Halloween and all the holidays — back in probably the mid-80s,” Hanssen said. “I’ve always liked Christmas.” Hanssen, the youngest child of a youngest child, missed out on the heyday of his grandparents’ Christmas-decorating. “By the time I came around in the birth order, my grandparents weren’t decorating anymore,” he said. But when Hanssen asked his grandmother if she had any old decorations he could have, since she wasn’t using them, the answer was “Yeah, we’ll have your dad get in the attic and whatever you find, you can have.” At that time, Hanssen’s definition of “old” was different than what he considers “old” today. But grandma delivered nonetheless, gifting him decora- tions ranging in age from those made at the turn of the century up through the 30s, 40s and 50s. “I had never seen anything like that before,” Hanssen said. “But my folks had always been ones to go to auctions, and I would tag along, and at that time, all the Christmas stuff was in two or three boxes at the end of the driveway. And (Dad) bought the whole thing for a couple bucks, sometimes.” And that, Hanssen said, was the starting point of a collec- tion that has grown and changed and grown some more over nearly 35 years. Decorations tell histories As you walk down the stairs into Hanssen’s home “museum,” the first display is a trio of antique German “feather trees” atop a glass table. Each tree is constructed from a wooden bore and dyed goose or turkey feathers wrapped around wire to create the classic “Christ- mas-tree branch” look. The trees were a popular decoration from the late 1800s through the 1950s. Hanssen’s trio is probably from the early 1900s, by his estimation. Each tree displayed a differ- ent style of ornaments: One held glass ornaments made in Czechoslovakia in the 1930s, ranging in style from a windmill to a plane to a spinning wheel; a second showed off a set of German “cottage-industry” glass ornaments from the early 1900s, including a fish, a Santa, and a teapot; and a third displayed tinsel and glass ornaments. “There are hundreds, if not thousands of styles of (cot- tage-industry) ornaments out there,” Hanssen said. “Dad was the glassblower — these were all handblown. Mom and maybe the daughters painted the ornaments; and the sons might have packed them all up. It was whatever the craftsman, the glassblower, could think up.” The ornaments would vary in colors, shape, and size, which means that it becomes amatter of preference, rather than comple- tion, when it comes to collecting. “For glass ornaments, you can’t necessarily say there’s a Holy Grail because there’s so many different varieties out there,” Hanssen said. “It’s just a matter of finding that type or that style.” FAR LEFT: John Hanssen found a handwritten note that his grandparents had from the Heddes, who owned The Independent at the time. LEFT: This is one of the oldest pieces in John Hanssen’s collection, and a piece that got him into collecting. Originally from his grandparents, a note on the back, in German, said that this was a bullet that came from a roast deer. Independent/Carissa Soukup John Hanssen collects Christmas decorations from the 1800s to the 1900s. He has many rare pieces, and really enjoys the different types of lights that have evolved through the years. His basement, affectionately called “the museum” by family, displays a part of his growing collection. Independent/Carissa Soukup Continued on page 5A Voices of the Past Hanssen to present ‘Ephemera’ on Jan. 12 Part of John Hanssen’s work for the Hall County Historical Society involves an annual program educating the public “on some aspect of antique Christmas,” Hanssen said. As part of Hall County Historical Society’s “Voices of the Past” series, Hanssen will present on “Ephemera,” paper and cardboard Christmas decorations from the 1800s through the 60s, 2 p.m. Jan. 12 at Burlington Station, Sixth and Plum streets in Grand Island. Hanssen will have examples of ephemera on hand for the public to view, in addition to his explanations about each piece and its place in history. This Voices from the Past program is free for society members; admission for nonmembers is $5. For more information, call Hanssen at (308) 380-2086 or Annette Davis at (308) 226-3465.

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