Wolfgang Hampel - and Betty MacDonald fan club fans,
don't miss the letter, written by Betty MacDonald's unique grandmother Gammy, please.
You'll enjoy it very much.
You can read several wonderful satirical poems and stories written by Betty MacDonald Memorial Award winner Wolfgang Hampel. ( see Betty MacDonald Newsletter December )
Wolfgang Hampel stories and poems are my favourites.
Gwen Grant's Christmas story is wonderful.
Betty MacDonald Fans from all over the world enjoy Gwen's story very much.
Thank you so much for this very special Christmas gift, dear Gwen Grant!
I adore Gwen Grant's books. We can be very proud to have unique Betty MacDonald Fan Club Members like this.
Thanks a Million dear Gwen Grant for sharing this wonderful story!
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Wolfgang Hampel - Wikipedia ( English )
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Wolfgang Hampel - Ma and Pa Kettle - Wikipedia ( English )
Wolfgang Hampel - Ma and Pa Kettle - Wikipedia ( French )
Wolfgang Hampel in Florida State University
Betty MacDonald fan club founder Wolfgang Hampel
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Betty MacDonald fan club - The Stove and I
Betty MacDonald fan club organizer Linde Lund
‘ON TOP OF THE WORLD’
George One had been staring down at the Earth for a little while before he realised something was different.
Squinting, he concentrated on the big space telescope, the one that was always aimed directly at him. Well, at him and Mr. Estimet, he corrected, because whatever was different seemed to lay there.
‘Ah!’ he exclaimed, as his eyes focussed. ‘That’s it. There’s a new person on the telescope, Mr. Estimet.’
Mr. Estimet, who had also been looking down at the Earth, gently rocking backwards and forwards on his heels, suddenly came to life.
‘A new person, George?’
George zoomed in on the new person and read her name badge.
‘Tilly,’ he announced. ‘Tilly Moffat. Haven’t seen HER before.’
George and Mr. Estimet knew all the people who worked on the big telescope. They knew the ones who got excited about any little change in the Universe, just as they knew the ones who remained calm, even a touch aloof when a new star was spotted, or a new asteroid, or a new anything come to that.
Sometimes, just for the fun of it, he would throw a scrap of foil through the observation window, chortling at the sudden burst of activity below.
Hardly worth a moment’s amusement, though, he admitted, because then he had to go out and get it back and that wasn’t easy, not with the pulling and tugging of all those gravitational fields swooping and soaring around him.
Felt as if he’d been dragged through a force field backwards by the time he’d finished.
But there you are, as Mr. Estimet always said, there was enough junk from the earth cluttering the cosmos without him adding to it.
Now here was Tilly Moffat and George had no idea how she would respond.
‘And that,’ Mr. Estimet pointed out, ‘is because she hasn’t been behind the telescope before. Wasn’t it Zachariah Bumble before Tilly?’
Then Mr. Estimet also closed up on Tilly Moffat.
‘Looks quite pleasant,’ he observed, ‘for a person.’
George was not convinced.
‘Hmmm. Pleasant until she buys a great big field and builds a great big house on it with no regard for the non-humans who were there first.’
‘Now, now, George,’ Mr. Estimet began, then let it go.
His own eyes shifted from Tilly Moffat back to the earth. He could see snow falling in parts of that little world down there and he totally loved snow.
Adored it, really.
Why, if there was anything that could make him volunteer for the very next stint on earth as an observer, it would be snow.
There was no snow on their planet, no misty mornings, no blue seas and golden sands, no anything, really.
‘You know,’ he began, ‘despite all the things they do wrong…’
‘Which is practically everything,’ George put in.
Mr. Estimet stopped him.
‘I know, George, I know, but on the other hand, they do have a capacity for love.’
George One almost snorted.
Love, he thought. They had a capacity for love all right when they drowned the sea in oil and chemicals, when they chopped down the rain forests, when they polluted the air and chucked things into space without a thought for those living there.
But all he said was, ‘Really? They have a capacity for love? Are you sure about that, Mr. Estimet?’
‘Well, look at what some of them do,’ Mr. Estimet began. ‘Some try to save the whale and the tiger. Quite a lot of them are trying to save the world. Yes, yes,’ he held up a hand as George One’s mouth opened, ‘I know much of it is self-interest to avoid extinction but not all of it, George. Many of them, for example, work for peace and, most promising, millions of them care about people they don’t even know.’
George thought about this. Nope, he couldn’t believe any of these things but then, Mr. Estimet always had been a wishful thinker, although he denied it.
‘I’m not a wishful thinker so much as a hopeful energy source,’ he would say, ‘just like some of those people on earth.’
Now, he smiled.
‘Can you see those trees?’ he asked.
George looked down.
‘You mean the few they’ve got left,’ he retorted tersely.
‘No,’ Mr. Estimet’s voice was gentle. ‘I mean the trees with stars on them.’
There was silence for a moment as both George and Mr. Estimet winkled out the star dressed trees.
‘Hmmm,’ George murmured. ‘Very pretty.’
Mr. Estimet glanced at him.
‘Pretty?’ he repeated, and George blushed.
‘I know it’s an earth word,’ he said defensively, ‘but it happens to be one I like.’
‘And why not,’ Mr. Estimate smiled. Then, ‘Well, George, those trees are called Christmas trees. No, don’t ask me why. I have no idea. All I know is that they do this to them every year and what I thought was, we could put a Christmas tree on top of our planet to show the earth that we quite like them.’
‘At the moment,’ he added.
Ignoring the last remark, George said, ‘Wouldn’t it have to be an extraordinarily big tree?’
‘It would.’ Mr. Estimet’s agreement was instant. ‘But we can do that. We can put a Christmas tree in space with a star on its top branch.’
‘How about the North Star,’ George suggested. ‘That’s the brightest star we’ve got.’
Mr. Estimet shook his head.
‘Better not. They’ll get a bit miffed down there if the North Star suddenly disappears.’
When it was ready, George and Mr. Estimet sent their particle Christmas tree roaring into the silence of the Universe.
It was enormous.
‘Bite bare,’ George said thoughtfully, balancing the North Star on the tip of the tree, whipping a long strand of the Milky Way out of place then draping it artistically over the branches so that the tree sparkled and shone.
For a moment, the whole Universe shuddered until Mr. Estimet put the strand back almost as fast as George had removed it.
‘Sorry,’ George said.
Other stars were fastened to the tree along with two or three glittering comets put on for a bit of interest and they were having a fine old time until George noticed Tilly Moffat staring up at them.
‘She can see the tree,’ he said.
‘Yes,’ Mr. Estimet nodded. ‘She can.’
The response was immediate from the little world below them and when George spelt out ‘HAPPY CHRISTMAS’ in very small stars, hanging them on the tree in place of the bit of the Milky Way that had been there before, Zachariah Bumble and the whole of the telescope team crowded around Tilly Moffat to stare at the Christmas tree floating in space.
‘Happy Christmas, George,’ said Mr. Estimet, holding the Universe steady as George carefully took down the North Star and put it back where he had found it.
In the deep still silence, George said, ‘Happy Christmas, Mr. Estimet,’ and glancing down at Tilly Moffat’s shining eyes, added one more word to his banner of stars.
‘HAPPY CHRISTMAS, WORLD.’
And to Mr. Estimet’s surprise, this time, George meant it.
© by GWEN GRANT