December 22, 2008, - 10:51 am

SAD: F.A.O. Schwarz, Michigan Businesses Say “Bah, Humbug” to Santa

By Debbie Schlussel
Even though I’m a Jew and do not observe Christmas, I feel the pain of my fellow Americans who are Christian, when I see these stories of the way Santa is treated. You might not know that when Jews were poor immigrants to this country, early in the last century, many Jewish men played Santa. Most already had the beard, and for many, it was the only paying job they could get.
First, there is the extremely sad story of Manley “Butch” Stowell, age 66. For most of his career, he played Santa, but two years ago, he went blind, when oxygen was cut off to his brain during back surgery. Since then, few will hire him. His wife, Enid, who plays Mrs. Santa (and looks just like her) whispers in his ear who the kids are and what they want, and most kids don’t even know he’s blind. Still, many stores that used to hire him are playing Scrooge.
Oh, and by the way, the Stowells raised 116 foster children.
Very sad:

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Blind Santa Butch Stowell & Wife Enid

After a decade as Kris Kringle, businesses stopped hiring Butch Stowell after he became blind. His last annual stint as Santa is at a private party at Huckleberry Junction hosted by the Independent Order of Forresters, a Flint-based fraternal organization.
“He’d be Santa tomorrow if places would take him,” said Enid Stowell, 64. “He’s a wonderful Santa, and it makes us feel bad he can’t do it all the time.”
Butch Stowell lost his sight in 2006 during back surgery that cut the flow of oxygen to his brain. The ordeal left the man — who above all else valued children — unable to see his grandchildren and unable to find work as Santa Claus, except for the Forresters.
Enid Stowell continues to be Mrs. Claus during the holidays, but without Butch.
It’s too bad, too. He’s a good Santa, said Fran Teeple, a member of the order.
“Here you had a good, healthy, strong man up until a few years ago, and he loved to do this Christmas stuff. He didn’t want to give it up,” Teeple said. “I don’t think any of the kids know he’s blind, and we’ve hired him for many years.”
The Forresters pay the Stowells $250 for their Santa and Mrs. Claus impersonations, but they won’t take the check.
Instead, at the Stowells’ request, the Forresters give the money to the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan. The Stowells get no credit for the donation, which is made in the name of Mr. and Mrs. Claus.
Even without their red suits, there was always something special about the Stowells, who for 35 years shared their love and their home with 116 foster children, two of which they adopted. They also have four biological children.
“My foster dad is so loving and caring, especially when it comes to kids,” said Rose Boatman, 45, of North Carolina. “They gave me a good foundation that I didn’t have before and showed me what it’s like to have a loving home.”
Boatman, who was 15 when she began living with the Stowells, said they were the first couple to give her a birthday party and a caring family.
The couple stopped fostering children after Butch Stowell lost his sight.

Let’s hope that, next year, businesses change their tunes on a blind Santa and understand what the holiday is all about.
Then, there’s F.A.O. Schwarz, the famed New York toystore that also famously filed for bankruptcy a few years ago. The store is using the holidays to push political correctness on your kids.
The store’s Santa doesn’t wear a red suit. Nope. He wears a booger green one, to push the “importance” of being green, as embodied in an exclusive book the store is pimping for the holidays, “When Santa Turned Green.”

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Bah Humbug!: F.A.O.Schwarz Santa in Booger Green Suit Indoctrinates Kids

Bleccch. Kids toys and politics shouldn’t mix. No wonder the store had to file for bankruptcy. It’s bankrupt in so many other ways.
If I could engineer my own “Schlussel’s Gift of the Magi,” I would have F.A.O. Schwartz hire Butch Stowell as its Santa . . . in a red suit.

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6 Responses

This is a really heart-touching story- especially in light of all the “war on christmas” stuff that’s been happening in recent years. Despite all the commercializaion that’s happened over decades, Christmas is still all about compassion, caring, and the desire for peace for all people. It’s a travesty that political correctness, moonbat ideologies, and general mean-spiritedness of the secular crowd is eroding those attributes.
As for F A O Schwartz- I’d give them a huge bag of reindeer poop- it is an organic present after all.
Happy Channukah and Merry Christmas to all.

Mistress_Dee on December 22, 2008 at 11:38 am

I picked up the book, “When Santa Turned Green”, just out of morbid curiosity. I had to put it back down after 5 or so pages. Nothing like terrifying young children at Christmas time, I always say! I couldn’t say much, since I was shopping with my little girl. I was FUMING! I got my meteorology degree from Iowa State in 97. Apparently some of my former professors were working on sections of that UN Climate report (or whatever). Ok fine. A debate between adults is fine. No TV, no beer and scaring little children makes Casey something something…
(I hate that damn book.)

cirrus1701 on December 22, 2008 at 11:53 am

Great story Debbie, as usual.
My Jewish friends would tell you that joining in the celebration of Christmas with me is timely for them and helps them appreciate the celebration of Hanukkah even more.
[FS: THANKS, BUT LET’S BE CLEAR. YOUR JEWISH FRIENDS WHO SAY THAT ARE IGNORANT. CELEBRATING CHRISTMAS IS AGAINST JUDAISM. I DON’T WANT ANY OF MY JEWISH READERS TO GET ANY IDEA OTHERWISE. I APPRECIATE THE CELEBRATION OF CHANUKAH JUST FINE. DON’T NEED TO CELEBRATE ANOTHER RELIGION’S HOLIDAYS TO SEE THE BEAUTY IN MY OWN RELIGIOUS OBSERVANCES, JUST AS I WOULDN’T TELL CHRISTIANS TO CELEBRATE OUR HOLIDAYS TO APPRECIATE THEIRS. DS]

FranklySpeaking on December 22, 2008 at 11:59 am

What a sad story … if I owned a toy store or mall, I would hire Butch Stowell in an FAO minute.
As for the famed New York PC FAO … what the hell are they thinking? Has everyone gone mad, forgetting that Christmas is for the children? There’s plenty of time to mess with their melons throughout high school and college.
Since FAO is at it, they should aptly release regional specific rendition of that book … and name them the following:
San Francisco FAO: “When Santa Turned Gay”
Chicago FAO: “When Santa Turned Corrupt”
Phoenix FAO: “When Santa Hired Illegal Aliens”
Detroit FAO: “When Santa Sleigh Was Repossessed”
Washington DC FAO: “When Santa Turned Liberal”
Jimmy Lewis
SCS, Michigan
Blog: http://rougerevival.blogspot.com/

Jimmy on December 22, 2008 at 12:58 pm

Good response to Franklyspeaking, Debbie. I oppose the misguided war on Christmas waged by liberal Jews and the Left. But the at the same time it should be clear the two faiths are not and will never be the same. The multicultural mush prevalent in our society tries to wipe away all differences. All values are NOT created the same. Jewish and Christian holidays are different and people of each faith can appreciate that in a free country they can observe their own faith. But that does not mean they have to celebrate the other faith when that is against their religious teachings. That’s the way it ought to be.

NormanF on December 22, 2008 at 1:06 pm

Great list:
San Francisco FAO: “When Santa Turned Gay”
Chicago FAO: “When Santa Turned Corrupt”
Phoenix FAO: “When Santa Hired Illegal Aliens”
Detroit FAO: “When Santa Sleigh Was Repossessed”
Washington DC FAO: “When Santa Turned Liberal”
you forgot to add “San Diego FAO: “When Santa started running drugs across the border”
and
Cuyahoga County FAO: “When Santa registered to vote illegally”

Mistress_Dee on December 22, 2008 at 5:59 pm

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