Christmas has always been a special time for Sharon Reed’s family. When she was a child, her father sold Christmas trees, roping and wreaths made by the family at a friend’s Tastee Freez across from the Third Street Plaza.
“When my two sons were young, we would decorate our house with lots of lights and Santa flying through the air,” says the Jamestown resident. “We were recognized several times by the local community. Our house always had lots of traffic during cold winter nights with people stopping to see the lighting display. Many times, Santa would be on the porch handing out candy canes to the young children.”
The Reeds would spend Christmas Eve with Sharon’s side of the family exchanging gifts and sharing a meal together. When they returned home, her sons were allowed to open one gift before going to bed. Christmas Day was spent with her husband, Gerald’s, family, where dinner and a gift exchange took place.
“This was a busy two days with lots of cousins and family,” says Mrs. Reed. “When our boys were old enough to drive, they would drive Santa and Mrs. Claus to visit friends on Christmas Eve.”
Tea “Claus” were invited to local church and club events to give gifts to young children. Playing the role of Mrs. Claus is a very small part of Mrs. Reed’s community involvement. As a young mother, she was active with the Boy Scouts as a Cub Scout Den Mother. She was a member of the Auxiliary, during the years her husband was involved in Falconer Fire Department.
When her son joined the Marine Corps, near the beginning of Desert Storm, she found herself getting involved in Operation SOS (Support Our Soldiers). During Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm the operation gathered and shipped over 5000 pounds of goods to service persons serving in Iraq. She helped sell items to raise money for various projects and to help family members. She received letters from President George Bush, General Colin Powell, Secretary of Defense Richard Cheney and Barbara Bush along with commendations from County Legislature.
She was nominated to run for political office.
“I unsuccessfully ran for a county legislator position. I will never forget being told to ‘not be so bipartisan,’ she informs. “This was at a time when there wasn’t so much division between parties and the ideals were focused on morals and less radical. My views have changed significantly in the past several years as our country has lost its moral compass.”
She is a Certified Master Gardener through Cornell Cooperative Extension, having more than 1,500 volunteer hours providing gardening information, assistance and education to the community. This includes obtaining a competitive grant from Cornell for a project at the Jamestown Audubon Society and facilitating gardening classes at local libraries and garden clubs. She has supported garden projects at Audubon, RTPI, Love School and Grow Jamestown Front Yard Recognition program. She is a founding member of the annual Grow Jamestown Garden Fair and the Koinonia Christian Fellowship Community Garden.
She is an active member of two local garden clubs and a lifetime member of the Chautauqua Bird, Tree and Garden Club where she led weekly garden walks at Chautauqua Institution and documented plants in many of the garden located there. As a member of the Transplants Garden Club, she taught the members how to make wreaths for the Winter season. The club made more than 200 wreaths that were donated to the local Civil Air Patrol to be used as part of their Wreaths Across America project. The wreaths were placed on soldier graves in the Lakeview Cemetery during the national ceremony.
As Program Director of the Jamestown Garden Club, she coordinated the recent Fall Garden Symposium.
She is a Certified Food Preserver and has taught classes at the Jamestown Winter Market.
In addition to a vegetable garden, she maintains several perennial gardens and a garden focused on providing a butterfly habitat. Her yard has been certified by the National Wildlife Association by providing habit, food source and water to support wildlife. Additionally, her garden has been certified by the Monarch Watch Association.
“I have documented a variety of butterflies each year in the gardens. Over the past five years I have maintained a Monarch nursery where I gather Monarch eggs from the garden and keep them in a safe enclosed cage where the eggs hatch and the caterpillars are fed fresh milkweed until they enclose them and emerge as beautiful butterflies.”
Through a lot of time and dedication, she has maintained and released more than 500 healthy Monarchs. Many local garden club members and children have visited her gardens and learned about Monarchs.
“My love of gardening inspired me to take a trip of a lifetime. I traveled with a group of gardening folks to London England where we toured the Royal and Historic gardens of England. The culmination of the trip was attending the Chelsea Flower Show.”
Another of her hobbies is paper crafting. She enjoys making pretty cards and craft items from paper. She is a self-taught card maker, having held classes at several libraries, churches and clubs. She is currently preparing for a card making class to be held on Black Friday at the new Pearl City Clay House. (See the PCCH website and Facebook page for organization information.)
She is an avid scrapbooker and has created many books of beautiful pages that document her family’s adventures.
Recently she began making vintage-looking miniatures paper houses to add to her collection of houses that are more than 100 years old, with several from her paternal Grandmother and others acquired at sales. She will be teaching a PCCH class on making paper houses in December. It will be a mini vintage-looking ornament. In her final PCCH class she will teach how to make a snow globe ornament.
As an RSVP volunteer, she helps with events at the Lucille Ball Little theater and the Reg Lenna Center. For several years leading up to Covid, she was the co-leader for the RSVP sponsored Healthy Bones classes.
She is currently the Treasurer of Croche Inc, a non-profit organization started by Governor Fenton’s daughter more than 120 years ago.
“Growing up with a hunting family, my husband and I enjoyed the time spent together during deer season,” she says. “We always dressed and butchered our harvest. It was a family affair preparing our harvest for freezing and canning. We made sausage, jerky, ground meat and steaks.”
She no longer joins her family when they go to the woods, but she supports and encourages her sons and grandsons, who carry on the tradition. Her only rule is “if you harvest, you don’t waste it.”
“Although I was born and raised in Jamestown, there was a period of about ten years when I was given opportunity to move to Nashville, TN and then to Columbus, IN. it was an adventure, but leaving family behind was difficult, so a move back to Jamestown was important. Spending time with parents, children and grandchildren was the driving force. I’m so glad we returned home.”
Mrs. Reed shares some of her family’s favorite recipes below and says the baking ammonia and vanillin socker mentioned in the Swedish Ammonia Cookies recipe are available at Peterson Farm on Fluvanna Avenue.
“Many of my favorite recipes have been included in the cookbooks I coordinated while still working. Two books were published using favorite employee recipes,” she states.
5 medium-sized apples
1 c sugar, divided
1 tsp flour
¾ tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/3 c oil
1 egg, beaten
Peel and slice apples. Place in 9-inch square baking pan. Sprinkle with cinnamon, nutmeg and ½ c sugar. Sift together flour, remaining sugar, salt and baking powder. Add oil and egg, mixing well. Crumble mixture over apples. Bake in 350 degree oven until apples are tender, approximately 45 minutes.
Swedish Ammonia Cookies
2 tsp flour
1 tsp sugar
2 sticks margarine, room temperature
2 T vanilla sugar (vanillin socker)
1 tsp baking ammonia
2 egg whites
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream flour, sugar and margarine together. Add vanilla sugar and baking ammonia. Mix together and form into small balls. Beat egg whites. Dip balls into egg white. Bake on greased cookie sheet 10-15 minutes.
1 c butter or margarine, room temperature
1 tsp sugar
1 T dark corn syrup
2 tsp flour
1 tsp soda
½ c chopped nuts
Combine ingredients in order given. Form in two rolls. Refrigerated overnight. Slice. Bake on greased cookie sheet at 350 degrees until set.
Blueberry Yogurt Pudding (Sugar-Free)
2 c plain Greek yogurt
2 c plain regular yogurt
1-3.4-oz pkg sugar-free instant pudding powder
(I find vanilla, lemon or pistachio are the favorite.)
12 oz sugar-free whipped topping, thawed
2 c fresh blueberries
Mix together both yogurts. Add dry pudding, stirring until well blended. Fold in about half of the whipped topping. Fold in the blueberries. Refrigerator.
Green Bean and Potato Casserole
1-lb fresh green beans
8 oz Baby Portabella mushrooms
2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 – 4 medium potatoes, sliced thin
4 T butter
1/4 tsp flour
1T fresh thyme, chopped (dried can be substituted)
3 c milk or 1 c heavy cream and 2 c milk
Trim green beans. Cut in half lengthwise. Cook beans in boiling salted water until tender-crisp and bright green. About 2-3 minutes. Drain beans and plunge into a bowl of ice water to stop cooking and retain color. After beans are cool, drain well and set aside.
Slice mushrooms in half. Brown mushrooms in olive oil, allowing them to cook 3-4 minutes on each side. Do not season or stir during this process. Remove from pan, set aside. Add onions to pan and saute until clear, set aside.
Melt butter in Dutch oven until bubbles subside. Add flour, using a whisk. Continue to stir and cook for about two minutes. Slowly add the milk or cream/milk combination to butter/flour mixture. Whisk together and simmer until sauce is slightly thickened. Add thyme and salt and pepper to taste. Add beans, onions, potatoes and mushrooms.
Pour mixture into a casserole dish (sprayed with cooking spray if desired) Bake in 350 degree oven for 30-45 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
Some may garnish the dish with crunchy French-fried onions or butter cracker crumbs and bake for another 5 minutes.