When you dress up like Santa Claus for nearly three decades, you get asked some interesting questions.
For instance, “Can I have a caboose for Christmas?”
Lifelong Tacoman Gerald Scholer was on the spot that day. So he asked the boy if he wanted a toy one or one for his train set.
He wanted a “great big one.”
“Wait a minute,” Scholer replied. “I can’t get it down the chimney.”
The boy, undeterred, replied: “It’s alright, I’ve got a big yard.”
Scholer recently published a collection of stories like this, “Funny Things Said to Santa,” with the help of his granddaughter Andrea Scholer, a Bellingham freelance writer. The book is available online through Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
The white-bearded Scholer, 89, started dressing up like Santa 27 years ago after his wife, Evelyn, made him an outfit, complete with the fuzzy white cuffs and trim.
She dressed as Mrs. Claus and tagged along for the first two decades, until she died in February 2012.
While Gerald Scholer was meeting with children, Evelyn was taking notes — those later became the basis of the book.
The pair were married for 64 years and had 13 children together.
“She wanted children, I wanted children. So we had 13,” said Scholer, a Stadium High School alumnus. “One thing led to another, and I played Santa Claus.”
The Santa outfit was not the first costume Gerald Scholer donned. He had also dressed as the Easter Bunny and a bear, among others.
The trips took them to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Madigan Army Hospital, nursing homes, even an IHOP — always for free and always with candy for kids.
“We just went ahead and did it because we wanted to, and we had fun,” Scholer said.
Scholer has continued dressing up as Santa for the past five years, even without his Mrs. Claus.
As for the boy who wanted the caboose, Scholer sent him off to see what his parents thought of that gift idea.
The boy returned a short while later.
He asked, “Can I have a Chihuahua instead?”
Kenny Ocker: 253-597-8627
‘Funny Things Said to Santa’
By Gerald Scholer with Andrea Scholer, Ingram. $9. Available through funnythingssaidtosanta.com.