By JOSEPH KREISS
How did you get that Jeep inside? is a question employees at World Savingss downtown Sonora branch often face these days.
We pushed it in very carefully, replies Colleen Caciappo, bank supervisor.
Each year in October, Branch Manager Nancy Gokey and her employees get together to brainstorm decorating ideas for their annual Christmas window display.
In years past, the bank lobby at 242 S. Washington St. has been a holiday home for Smokey Bear, and a giant gingerbread house. This year, in light of Sept. 11, the banks crew decided on a military-theme Christmas display.
We thought it would be appropriate with everything going on, said Caciappo. It pays tribute to those whose loved ones wont be here during Christmas.
The idea began to take shape when branch employee Pat Franklin of Sonora suggested borrowing her husband Bens fully restored 1943 Ford-built Willys Jeep for the display.
After some quick tape measuring, Ben determined his 62-inch-wide vintage Army vehicle would just squeeze through the banks double doors.
We had about an inch clearance on each side, he said.
The World War II-era Jeep was pushed into the banks lobby and currently shares space with an Army tent, sand bags, field rations, helmets, packs, ammunition and other war memorabilia.
George Cantrell and Chris Sherwin of Sonora who with Franklin belong to Military Vehicle Collectors of California contributed these items to the display.
The scene includes a camouflage uniformed soldier sitting in the drivers seat of the Christmas tree-hauling Jeep reading a Christmas card from home while wrapped gifts float down from the sky beneath olive green parachutes.
On the wall behind teller windows, the bank has posted more than 30 black and white photographs of customers and members of their families who have served or are currently serving in the armed services.
The display went up inside the bank Dec. 1.