It's a Wonderful Life  
  Sandra's Bedford Falls Village  

Here is a picture of my Bedford Falls village from the Cape Craftsman Collection. They were only made in 1993 & 1994 a fact I was not aware of when I first saw and fell in love with the collection. They are all larger than the more common small villages I had seen previously.

My son was stationed in Pearl Harbor and his wife, Cinthia, had to have emergency surgery so I went to take care of their 4 month old baby for a few weeks, in December 1993.

After she had recuperated we saw a "Welcome Home" store that looked interesting so we went in. There was a large area filled with "It's a Wonderful Life" items including some buildings, water globes, afghans, and assorted other items.

The buildings were so beautiful I knew I would start collecting them when I got back to Illinois. Little did I know they were not available here. However, I never forgot them and just hoped somehow, someday I would find them.

We had been watching the "It's A Wonderful Life" video for a number of years and I just loved it. (In fact, I think when people get a marriage license they should be immediately ushered into a room where they MUST watch the IAWL film - then if they still want to get married - that's great!

About 2 years passed and my son was stationed in Monterey, CA. I got an exciting, unexpected phone call from Cinthia. She said "Mom, you've got to come out here - I've found your Village!" Sure enough we went out to visit them and we bought 1 of each building, explaining to the clerk how I came to know about them, and she told us that the company only made them in '93 and '94! I shipped them to Illinois and immediately called the company in North Carolina that originally distributed them, and purchased as much of the remaining buildings, characters, trees, fences, water globes, etc. They were so accomodating and advised me to keep watch and some of the pieces I still needed might be found on Ebay. At that time, I didn't know what Ebay was and didn't own a computer! But I never gave up on the missing pieces.

Later my daughter gave me a computer (July, 2000) and I began to search Ebay. Little by little I found pieces including the Bedford Falls Church which I had never seen! Now I have only the "Bedford Falls Library" to find and I believe my set will be complete! I have also purchased some pictures, various books, a cookbook and some posters. You will notice the large one in front of my display.

Once I had my buildings, they question was - how and where can I display them??? They we came up with the idea of laying the top of my grand piano downand covering it with a flat white sheet. Then we bought a sheet of foam insulation (4X8) and Ron (my hubby) trimmed it up a bit, and covered the area with a sparkling snow blanket and started setting the Village up. We tried to tell by the movie exactly where the buildings were in relation to each other but were not sure on some of them. He managed to wire them so one switch turns the whole City on and we are so proud of our efforts!

Karolyn, we live in a town of 1,000 or less people and I do believe my Village was the most exciting thing that happened this Holiday Season! I'm the "Mary Kay Lady" here so I know most of the town and they have followed my dream of securing all the Cape Craftsman buildings. It gave me so much pleasure for people to stop in and look because they, too, love the film! I don't plan to take it down for awhile yet and hope someday to have a permanent display that's open all year long!

I still have the dream of attending the "Donna Reed" Festival held in Iowa every June. It would only be an 8 or 9 hour drive so perhaps when my husband retires, we'll get all the info and go check it out.

I trust this hasn't been too lengthy but I wanted you to know how much I appreciate your book and what an inspiration you are to me and others! Let me know what you think of my "Bedford Falls" and if you have any questions, I'll be glad to answer them. I'm trusting you will recognize the buildings but if not, I'll identify them.

Sandra Shipmen's '93-'94 rare collection, issued by Cape Craftsman, "Bedford Falls Village" is displayed just how they appeared in the IAWL film. Click on the image below to see a larger image. Then use the back arrow to get back to this page.

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