Musical memory comes home

?Antique ?music box? returned to original family

Because of the generosity of a former Hills?boro resident, a current resident is reliving a pleasant memory from a family Christ?mas gathering 77 years ago.

Now on display in the home Ray Franz shares with wife Aldina on South Lincoln Street is the same rotating Christmas-tree stand that played ?Silent Night? during a gift shower his grandfather, John W. Suderman, hosted in his mercantile store in 1937.

The whereabouts of the Christmas-tree stand?Ray calls it his ?music box? because it plays the famous Christmas carol when wound?was unknown to Franz for decades.Ray Franz sits near the German-made musical tree stand that he recalls from a pre-Christmas grocery shower in 1937 in his grandfather?s mercantile store in Hillsboro. The two were reunited this summer when it was delivered to the Franz home from Bella Vista, Ark. ?It just was overwhelming,? he said. Don Ratzlaff / Free Press

It suddenly showed up at the Franz front door this summer, transported from Bella Vista, Ark., by Judy and Larry Klein, who had lived there for a time before moving back to the Hillsboro area.

The Kleins brought the tree stand to the Franzes at the request of Lloyd Schultz, who lives at Bella Vista. He is the son of Hank Schultz, who became Suderman?s business partner in 1938. When Suderman retired in 1949, the tree stand remained with the Schultz family.

According to Aldina, Judy Klein said, ??We have something for you here. Lloyd Schultz said to give this to Ray.?

When he first saw the antique in their home, ?I just was overwhelmed. I loved Grandpa so much, it just was so special.?

Ray was a young boy when he and his boyhood family?which included seven children?traveled to Hillsboro to celebrate Christmas with Grandpa Suderman that year.

?In the 1930s, the Franz family lived in McPherson and were in hard times,? Ray recalled. ?Grandpa Suder?man invited our family to a pre-Christmas gift shower at the store, which consisted of food, underwear, candy and so forth.

?In his store he had an old German music box, I call it,? he added. ?I still remember where he placed it?right across from the shoe department, up on the shelf.?

Ray said he isn?t sure how his grandfather came to possess the musical tree stand that was made in Berlin. But the ?music box? has stirred a lot of memories from those times.

?We got together ordinarily the Sunday right during Christmas?or it might have been Christmas Day,? he said. ?We came from McPherson. The aunts and uncles all came.

?We had gotten such meager gifts at home,? he added. ?But I had an uncle who didn?t have any children, Uncle Herb. They lived at Elmo and were wealthy farmers. They gave us a steam engine that really worked, complete with track. You could put a match to it and it would light?it ran on alcohol. It blew our minds.?

Ray said he and Aldina are grateful to receive the musical tree stand, but are sorry they haven?t been able to thank Schultz for sending it to them.

?They didn?t tell me what Lloyd?s address is, or anything?I have no idea,? said Ray, who is hoping a Free Press reader might be able to help him out.

In the meantime, he added, ?The music box continues to play. Christmas blessings to all.?

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