Jane Soverns doesn't mind being kissed by dogs. In fact, she and her husband are surrounded by them.
In celebration of the 30th anniversary of St. John Lutheran Church's nursery school, Soverns of Linthicum has created a special Snoopy Christmas tree that reflects the school's mascot but also holds good memories for a teacher with a passion for a cartoon pooch.
The blue spruce tree is weighed down with some 75 ornaments, many of them gifts from St. John's children to their favorite nursery school teacher, each inscribed with the name of the children and the date of their class. Soverns said she remembers almost every child when she puts the ornaments up on the tree.
Others were made by Soverns' husband, George, who also fed his wife's fancy by making her a wooden Peanuts calendar. There are also Snoopy lights, Peanuts' dolls and the odd red ball or two.
Soverns made Snoopy the mascot of St. John's in 1968 and holds a birthday party for the dog in her classroom every October.
"It's a nonviolent type of character, and the humor is one that both children and adults can enjoy," she said. Any of her young charges not familiar with the Peanuts gang when they enter the school soon learn, she said.
"I have a backpack with a Snoopy on it and a Snoopy doll and journal inside, and every weekend, a child gets to take the backpack home," Soverns said.
"The parents have to write in the journal what Snoopy did over the weekend, and we read it in class. Snoopy went to see the pope a few years ago in Baltimore, and he's been to Disney World. Sometimes he comes back in different clothes. He gets around."
Word of the Snoopy love spread and so did the teacher's collection, including a Snoopy waffle maker, hair dryer and cookie cutter. The couple is holding an open house for Soverns' class and a few of her former students so that they all can come see the tree and other parts of the collection.
Not to be outdone by his wife, George Soverns set up his own tree -- covered with about 70 Beanie Babies.
The retired engineer fell in love with the collectibles trying to find some for his granddaughter last summer. Then his wife wanted the Teeny Beanie Babies that came with a McDonald's meal for a Noah's ark display at school. Mr. Soverns ended up eating 20 Happy Meals. Finally, he started collecting them for himself.
"At first, he would make me go into the stores and buy them because he was embarrassed," said Mrs. Soverns.
"Well it wasn't embarrassing for a grandmother to be seen buying them, but for a grandpa, well ," he said.
The local Hallmark store knows to call whenever it gets a new shipment. But Mrs. Soverns said her husband shouldn't expect to see any babies under the tree for him.
Likewise for the Snoopy presents, retorted her husband.
They both grinned.
Pub Date: 12/21/97