And it came to pass this time every year, a railroad car would roll into a siding off Chelten Ave. and unload Christmas trees: Noble firs, Douglas firs, Scottish pines and some Blue Spruces among others. A veritable mountain of trees--all awaiting distribution to points around our town by men in trucks wearing Navy watch caps--all with that fresh pine scent and sticky sap, something I experienced sensually by rolling around in them until I took on that seasonal odor. Loved that smell! Some were huge, destined for bank lobbies like the Germantown Savings Fund, or the Mellon Banks and larger homes. Most of the rest were smaller (6-10'), perfect for most of our homes. One would be ours, no doubt, but only after the annual ritual of selection. That process would start at either Vernon Park or the Acme Market on Chelten Ave. near Rowel's Department store for us. After much haggling over the trees in the $2.00- $5.00 range (outrageous!), my dear Mom would select the best of the worst, bind it up in twine and drag it home, leaving that tell-tale trail of needles along the way. It would be put in our backyard, left tied up like a captured soldier and, depending on the weather, would take several days to unthaw inside the house before it could be decorated. Cut to size, with the "bad side" turned to the wall and secured with tie-downs (Mom learned this technique after several trees were pulled down by little hands), this orphan of the forest was turned into "the best little Christmas tree in the world"--except for your own, of course. Strings of big, fat GE bulbs went on first: red, blue and green ones--none of those later chincy little ones the Japanese pushed onto us, where if one went out, you lost them all, followed by the heirloom balls (not broken in previous crashes), then ornaments the kids and family made along with tinsel for that icicle effect. Finally, an angel topped the tree proclaiming all was well and only one addition remained--a plastic Santa, with an open sack on his back, was handled with special care and placement. A note with all the decorators names and those that were away was placed in his sack. Over the years one might say: his sack "runneth over." That little plastic Santa would become a most prized possession. Sitting beneath this beautiful tree, along with family and friends, we would enjoy a glass of eggnog (with a shot of Four Roses) and sing a few songs before retiring. I can still recall, laying in bed, wondering how the hell Santa was going to get down our chimney, survive the roaring coal fire the old man made up to keep us warm overnight, and, if he did make it through this hell, he would be in our cellar facing the best watch dog in the neighborhood...Poor, poor Santa I thought, just before.....zzzzzzz.