Judy Koontz wants her 23-year-old son and his friends to have a taste of home this Christmas, so she is baking cookies for them--2,700 oatmeal-chocolate chip cookies for the crew of the frigate Thach in the Persian Gulf. That's a dozen cookies for each of the 225 people on the ship, where her son, Johnny, is a fire control technician. Later this week, the cookies will be express-mailed to Norfolk, Va., and from there will be sent on to the ship in time for Christmas, she said. It took the Lebanon, Ohio, woman about a month to bake the cookies, using 50 pounds of oatmeal, 50 pounds of flour, 100 eggs, 25 large bags of chocolate chips and 25 pounds each of butter, white sugar and brown sugar.
--Elsewhere, Christmas preparations hit a snag. Gene and Peggy Schwartz of Albany, Ore., donated a 50-foot Christmas tree to the city. But their gesture went awry when the blue spruce toppled a crane, downed power lines, broke a water pipe and damaged their garage. "This is a tree the city of Albany probably won't forget," Peggy Schwartz said after the Public Works Department tried unsuccessfully to remove the tree from her front yard. City officials said the tree was too heavy for the crane that was trying to lift it onto a flatbed truck. The crane fell over and the tree landed on the Schwartzes' garage and driveway. The tree broke a water line as it fell and the garage and front yard were flooded. The tree also downed power lines, causing traffic lights at a nearby intersection to malfunction. Morning traffic was backed up for blocks. The couple said they learned several years ago that the tree in their front yard would have to be cut down for the widening of their street, so they offered to donate it to the city as a Christmas tree. Officials said that if the tree was not badly damaged, workers will take it to a parking lot where it will be decorated as the city's official Christmas tree. Next time, they said, workers will use a larger crane.