College Place resident Thomas "Steve" Chadek, who served as a correctional officer at the Washington State Penitentiary for around 30 years, found himself inspired by the Christmas spirit and the hot-button topic of satellites back in December 1961.
One night while manning the No. 4 tower at the prison, he wrote a little ditty called "Santa and his Satellite" that uses the tune to "Here Comes Santa Claus."
Every Christmas Eve since then, he has sung it with his family, "as we all join hands and literally dance around the Christmas tree," said daughter Becky Donovan of Walla Walla.
"Yes! The old-fashioned Christmas spirit you see on TV still does exist -- even in the heart of a seasoned-retired prison guard."
"It makes us smile, just singing it, and it seems so many people are down this Christmas season. Everyone wants another reason to smile," she added.
The lyrics are as follows:
"Here comes Santa - upon your roof,
You'd better hope - he don't goof,
For on this here - Christmas night,
Santa's riding a satellite.
Look at him come -- his face all smiles,
Just 10 seconds -- to go 20 miles.
He looks happy -- and gay all right,
I guess - Old Santa - likes his satellite.
He'll soon leave -- the North Pole,
For there's no satellites -- up there you know.
Down to Florida - he will move,
To put those scientists - in the groove.
Santa thinks - that he will soon,
Be taking presents - to the moon.
When he gets - way up high,
Upon that moon - up in the sky,
He'll remember - us down here,
With a great - big Christmas cheer."
"I'm sending copies to friends all over the place and relatives in Oslo, Norway. It is a blast, people crack up," Becky said.
Becky surprised her dad this year with a collection of newspaper clippings. Serving as a union rep during his service at the prison, he was quoted in many articles over the years, she said.
He retired and traveled a lot, Becky said, but always comes home for Christmas and the traditional singing of his clever song.
Etcetera appears in daily and Sunday editions. Annie Charnley Eveland can be reached at email@example.com or 526-8313.