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Lewes, Delaware
Jim's Towing Service
December 19, 1997     Cape Gazette
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December 19, 1997
 

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18 - CAPE GAZETYE, Friday, December 19 - December 25, 1997 CAPE LIFE Christmas spirit alive and well in Rehoboth couple's home Twenty years of collecting results in winter wonderland By Trish Vernon Jerry Watts of Rehoboth Beach is aptly named. He must be the darling of the electric company, as each Christmas his Fieldwood home is graced with more light- festooned Christmas trees, trains and animated figures than found in all of the store windows of a downtown department store. Watts and his companion Phyl- lis Draper begin sorting out 20- years-worth of holiday decora- tions around Halloween, when other people are content to just sit around finishing off the trick-or- treat candy. By the end of the Thanksgiving break, every nook and cranny of their foyer, living room, dining room and family room are transformed into a win- ter wonderland that even Scrooge himself couldn't dismiss with a "bah, humbug." Watts admits that Draper comes up with most of the themes, while "I do the work," erecting each the- matic display. The couple travels not only upstate to Webb's and Tull's, but also to the Poconos and Myrtle Beach, S.C. (apparently a hotbed of Christmas stores) in search of new and exciting deco- rations and figures. Upon entering the house, one is greeted by a four-foot Santa Claus on a stand, who is checking off the names of the lucky children he will soon visit. He is flanked by a cordon of rather rascally looking old elves who are busy making toys. A stunning Christmas tree topped with an angel and sur- rounded by more moving figures rounds out the initial image. The most prevalent figures in the adjacent family room are the teddy bears, which Watts has been collecting, while Draper's "doll Continued on page 20 Jerry Watts and Phyllis Draper, along with Phyllis' granddaughter Sydney, stand in their living room, decorated with no less than four trees. Everywhere the eye turns, it's met with a new detail, ornament or figure, impossible to absorb in only one visit. An elaborate nativity scene graces each public room of the house in Fieldwood, which the couple begins decorating around Halloween each year. Sydney Draper and Barney guard the family room train and tree display, complete with the Department 56 North Pole Village. A tribute to the 'Chairman of the Board' as he turns 82 Last Friday, I watched a tribute on "Larry King Live" to Frank Sinatra, who celebrated his 82nd birthday. I often watch "Larry King Live" just to hear him say "Toronto, go ahead...Pismo Beach, California, go ahead...and Yukka Flats, Wyoming, go ahead." I really don't care who the guests are for the evening, I just like the feeling that I'm in the middle of some crisis, given the fact that I've accomplished noth- ing the entire day. Living off of other people's lives was always a tradition in my family. But it is worth pausing for this man from Hoboken, N.J., who, in his own independent way, repre- sented a form of the music indus- try for so many years, and who made famous the term "broads." Growing up I never appreciated the music of Frank Sinatra. While AROUND TOWN I was busy listening to something that really made a lot of sense like "Eddie My Love" by a group called the Teen Queens, women of my mother's generation were swaying to Old Blue Eyes croon "You make me feel so young, You make me feel there are songs to be sung, bells to be rung and a won- derful fling to be flung .... " I didn't know anyone named Eddie and they never had a fling. But Francis Albert Sinatra spoke to them in a special way. They could look in the family room at their spouse passed out with a newspaper over his head and instantly know Frank Sinatra was the husband they always wanted, the lover they never had and the shoulder to cry on. He enriched and summed up their lives when they listened to that smoky voice in the back- ground emanating from the record player as they did the dishes, "Sat- urday Night is the loneliest night of the year .... " He was always a part of the family. My mother named me af- ter his first wife, Nancy, and kept candles burning after he left her for Ava Gardner in the hopes he would come to his senses and re- tum to his nice Italian family, in- stead of traipsing around Holly- wood with someone who wore red lipstick and a dress slit up the sides. She was never the same af- ter the divorce. Nancy Sinatra did just fine; my mother took it to her grave. It's not until later in life, when you've experienced rejection by the true love of your life, be it a girlfriend or boyfriend, or if you walked by an open window and a safe fell on your head, that you re- ally understand the delivery by Frank Sinatra of those haunting lyrics "That's life...that's what all the people say...you are riding high in April...shot down in May...but I know I am going to change that tune in June ..... " I know many people who have been saved by this song just waiting for a repairman to show up. I saw Frank Sinatra in person in Chicago one year. It was at one of those theaters that hold about 3,000 people and there is only one cab available outside once the per- formance is over. Anticipation ran high as we waited for "The Chairman of the Board." And that was just from all the sweat of our bodies packed into the theater. And then the moment came when Frank Sinatra stepped out from behind the curtain and belted out "Chicago." He owned the town, he owned the place. And I understood what all those women of my mother's generation knew. So if you are feeling a bit lonely and blue this holiday, remember there is a song out there for you. And I bet it has Frank Sinatra's name on it. Have a great holiday.