Christmas tree's branches

sparkle with special gifts

Part of 8-year-old Richard Fogarty's holiday fantasy has come true. Neiman Marcus brought to life his original drawing of a Fantasy Christmas tree decorated with wheelchairs, prosthetic limbs, crutches and other treasures used by students with special needs. The young Dallas artist's idea was to design a tree featuring the many gifts Texas Scottish Rite Hospital For Children has given to its patients over the years. Richard was diagnosed at birth with Poland's Syndrome, (, a rare congenital condition resulting in underdeveloped chest muscle and webbing of the fingers and hand. Richard's right hand and pectoral muscle are missing.
"Richard is the strongest, most amazing child. When he was in kindergarten, kids would tuck their arms into their sleeves with only their elbow hanging out so they could 'be more like Richard because he was so cool,' '' says the best friend of Richard's mom, Lori.
Neiman Marcus asked 52 youngsters to submit drawings for the fundraiser. Richard's artwork is among six that designers used to create actual trees. The six "masterpieces'' are now showcased on the downtown store's first floor. Shoppers can place bids on the trees, which will be auctioned off before Christmas. Proceeds will benefit Dallas' St. Philip's School and Community Center and Texas Scottish Rite Hospital For Children.
Throughout the holiday season, visitors also can see the collection of the 52 drawings, which are on display in the store's sixth floor lobby.
The rest of Richard's fantasy will come true when he wins your vote for the favorite among the six winners. To see Richard's creation and cast your vote, go to .
The Color Pink, All Grown Up

“Daddy, why do we have to have a pink house?’’ the girl had asked for the bazillionth time of the screaming wood frame structure on the corner of Cherry Street. “Your mother likes pink,’’ would be her father’s short unrelenting reply.
“It’s embarrassing. My classmates make fun of it.’’ She would whine. “Too bad they don’t know how special it is,’’ he would firmly say. The girl knew the nonconforming overpowering carnation pink color, the crayon in the box she had grown to hate, would cover the house for the long haul. She also knew that sharing her Dad’s explanation with friends would be even more awkward.
She had lived for more than a decade in the 1950s two-bedroom double shotgun on cinder blocks, a home her parents had had built the year she was born. Now that junior high had arrived, she could hardly contain her humiliation. Her parochial school was on the other end of the block, and each day her classmates would walk home from school, passing by 626 North Cherry Street, staring and asking, “Why do you live in a pink house?’’ Some would snicker, some would whisper behind her back at school, “She lives in a pink house.’’
By high school, her Dad had grown weary of the constant question. Either that or her parents were tired of the color. The girl’s family also had grown, and her father remodeled and enlarged the house and at last painted it white to complement the other wooden and brick homes on the paved street that held the lives of 20 or so working class families.
The teasing stopped as teenagers’ memories of the pink house faded. And the little girl, now practically grown up, proudly walked up and down the concrete front porch steps and sidewalk to and from the ends of Cherry Street.
If only she had known then what she knows now, sophisticated things like the meaning of pure love and the power of personal preference?
Four decades later, when she would grow up and read about the “Pepto-Bismol’’ pink house in The Secret Lives of Bees, there would be an instant appreciation for its anachronistic appeal. Author Sue Monk Kidd set the stage for the poetic aptness of the dwelling’s color. The girl, now a woman, couldn’t imagine a more perfect staging for the Boatwright sisters whose mother had bravely named them August, May and June.
There had been an epiphany long before the novel about the beekeepers. Fifteen years earlier the girl from the pink house had been awed by the sight of the colorful Victorian cottages lining streets of historic Oak Bluffs, Massachusets, on Martha’s Vineyard.
A "lifetime'' before those two events, the girl, by then a young woman, had gone home to visit her father only to find that he had painted the stark white house a striking canary yellow with forest green trim. Her mother had passed away by then.
Overcome with curiosity, she felt compelled to ask, “What made you paint the house, Dad?’’ His reply was characteristically brief.
“I did it for me. I like color.’’

(PHOTO ILLUSTRATION of Oak Bluffs, MA cottage : Jean Nash Johnson)
(SKETCH: Michael R. Johnson)