Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday: Louis Henry Wolfe 1872-1929

Louis Henry Wolfe is my great-grandfather, my mother's maternal grandfather. He is buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Houston, Texas. My mother, Geraldine Guokas Pape, remembers visiting his grave with her mother, Sara Wolfe Guokas Archibald.

Around 1998 or early 1999, Mom went back to the cemetery with her first cousin and fellow genealogist, Edith Carole Ely Dillow. Below is a picture of how they found the gravestone that day. It had sunk quite a bit.

Members of Edith Carole's family later returned to the cemetery, dug up the stone to raise it, cleaned it off, and poured a new concrete base for it. The photo at the top of this post was taken in early 1999 while the base was still wet. You can see quite a bit more of the gravestone since they raised it up.

Louis Henry Wolfe was a brick mason, and is buried in a plot with a number of other brick masons. You can see the bricks outlining the plot in the photo above and just below the newspaper and tool in the photo below. More on Louis Henry Wolfe in a later post.

© Amanda Pape - 2009

Friday, December 25, 2009

Advent Calendar: December 25

Merry Christmas!

Taking a little break for a few days - posting every day during the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories was harder than I thought it would be! The photo is from one more memory I have to share - took my son Eric to this when he was 9:

ZooLights, Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium,
Tacoma, Washington, 1995


© Amanda Pape - 2009

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Advent Calendar: December 24

December 24 Prompt:
Christmas Eve-


How did you, your family, or your ancestors spend Christmas Eve?


Ha! I'm still PREPARING for Christmas on Christmas Eve! Usually I am still wrapping gifts. Amazingly, this year I finished my shopping and wrapped them all yesterday. Good thing too, as I need to make coffee cake all day.

Mark, Eric, and I will open our gifts to each other tonight as we head to Austin tomorrow to celebrate Christmas with my family of origin. My parents and siblings and their children will be there as well as my aunt, Sister Jean Marie Guokas, from Houston.

My brother Brian and his wife Paige have started a new tradition on the years they spend Christmas Day with Paige's family. On Christmas Eve, they invite everyone over for buffalo or venison stew, hot bread and a salad.

My dad tells me that growing up, his family opened their gifts on Christmas Eve. They would usually go to Grandpa Massmann's house, who would take them out for some kind of distraction while his servants played Santa and put the gifts under the tree.

Mom's family opened gifts on Christmas Day, so when she and Dad married, he adopted her customs. I don't remember anything special happening on Christmas Eve while I was growing up, except attending Midnight Mass when I was older.

My son Eric's father and I separated when Eric was ten. Our custody agreement specified how the Christmas holidays were spent, and in alternating years, Eric was with me on Christmas Eve (until 1 AM Christmas Day, after the midnight church service). I think this led to being comfortable celebrating on either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day - or both.

Below is a picture of Eric with a gingerbread castle he made during his sophomore year in high school, in a world history class. It was the last class day before the holiday break, and they HAD been studying the Middle Ages! I think that castle became part of our household decorations until I moved back to Texas in early 2006.

This is post 24 (and the final one) in the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories hosted by Geneabloggers.com

© Amanda Pape - 2009

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Advent Calendar: December 23

December 23 Prompt:
Christmas Sweetheart Memories-


Do you have a special memory of a first Christmas present from a sweetheart? How did you spend your first Christmas together? Any Christmas engagements or weddings among your ancestors?


I first met my sweetie 30 years ago, in 1979. That Christmas, I believe he gave me the large dark ring at the top in the pictures below, because the pictures are cropped out of larger photos taken in January 1980. The ring was sterling silver with a large malachite stone in an unusual shape. I wore it for years, until the stone fell out somewhere.

The photo at the top of this post is of his gift to me in 1980 (I think). It's a brown leather Coach bag that I STILL use today.

The photo below is of me in my sweetie's Christmas gift from 1981: a gorgeous angora green sweater dress. I remember wearing it to a New Year's Eve party that year.

My parents say they spent their first Christmas together (1954) in an apartment on Irving Way in Houston, Texas, that was "crawling with bugs." Dad was still stationed at Ellington Air Force Base. He was released from the service in April 1955, and then my parents moved to Evanston, Illinois, where they lived until I was about 9 months old, moving back to Houston early in 1958.

I'm not aware (yet) of any Christmas weddings or engagements in my families.

This is post 23 in the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories hosted by Geneabloggers.com

© Amanda Pape - 2009

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Advent Calendar: December 22 - Tombstone Tuesday

December 22 Prompt:
Christmas and Deceased Relatives-


Did your family visit the cemetery at Christmas? How did your family honor deceased family members at Christmas?


We didn't visit the cemetery, and I don't remember doing anything in particular to honor deceased family members at Christmas, but I know I think about family members who have passed on. For example, I think about my grandmothers, Nana and Nani, Elizabeth Massmann Pape and Sara Wolfe Guokas Archibald, when I make Streuselkuchen coffee cake and eat Christmas dinner respectively.

I'm going to use this post as an opportunity to participate in Tombstone Tuesday as well. The photo above was taken at All Saints Cemetery in Des Plaines, Illinois, by one of my Streff cousins before the graveside service for Nana on January 19, 2000. Nana passed away on January 13. I was fortunate enough to see her a few weeks before, around her 97th birthday on December 23. I was a single mom living in Washington state at the time while Nana lived near Tampa, Florida, and this trip would not have been possible without the assistance of my cousin Tom Streff who, as a pilot with American Airlines, was able to obtain a low-cost ticket for me both to see Nana and to go to her funeral in Chicago later.

This imposing monument is a result of my great-grandfather, Frederick Massmann, who at one point in his life was president of the National Tea Company and was rather wealthy. He is buried here along with my great-grandmother Elizabeth Dienes Massmann, son and daughter-in-law Alfred and Agatha Burke Massmann, Nana and Grandpa Paul Robert Pape, grandson Paul Robert "Bob" Pape Jr. and his wife Delores "Lorrie" Olker Pape, and granddaughter Rose Mary Pape Dietz and her husband Ronald Dietz.

This is post 22 in the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories hosted by Geneabloggers.com

© Amanda Pape - 2009

Monday, December 21, 2009

Advent Calendar: December 21

December 21 Prompt:
Christmas Music-


What songs did your family listen to during Christmas? Did you ever go caroling? Did you have a favorite song?


Although I had a record player, I can't recall if my parents had one - probably not with five boisterous kids around to bump it and scratch the records. We probably listened mostly to the radio, and mostly to vocals by popular singers of the day. When I got a CD player sometime in the 1980s, some of my first Christmas CDs were collections of these performances.

When I was six, the Catholic Mass was still said in Latin, and I still love to hear "Adeste Fideles" and my favorite, "Veni, Veni Emmanuel".

I don't remember going caroling as a child, but when my son was little, I went with a church group to various nursing homes in the area. My church choir did a performance of Messiah, and somewhere along the line I attended The Nutcracker ballet.

I don't think I could name just one favorite Christmas song. Rather, I have favorite Christmas albums. Most of them are instrumentals, and the 20 I like best are pictured at the top of this post. I like Narada and Windham Hill collections, Tingstad and Rumbel, Mannheim Steamroller, acoustic guitars, saxophones, dulcimers and harps, and old-fashioned music boxes.

The good thing about instrumentals is that I can stand hearing them a lot over the longer-and-longer Christmas season. Not so with the vocalists. I pretty much limit listening to them to Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I only have six favorite albums, pictured below. In some cases I bought the album primarily for one particular song on it (Kathy Mattea's "Emmanuel" and the King's Singers "Gaudete," for example). The Carpenters and The Moody Blues are among my favorite groups (and if Gordon Lightfoot had ever done a Christmas album, I would have bought it). As for Bing Crosby - well, that reminds me of what my family listened to when I was growing up. I especially love his duets with the Andrews Sisters.

This is post 21 in the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories hosted by Geneabloggers.com


© Amanda Pape - 2009

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Advent Calendar: December 20

December 20 Prompt:
Religious Services-


Did your family attend religious services during the Christmas season? What were the customs and traditions involved?


Growing up Catholic, naturally we attended Mass every Sunday (and usually every Friday at Catholic school). When my son Eric was little, we attended the Lutheran church (back then the church of his father). At both we observed Advent with the lighting of the wreath. I also remember some midnight services, and passing the flame from individual candle to candle.

Another custom in my family has been setting up a Nativity scene. Somewhere in the 1960s, my mother bought a beautiful hand-carved wooden set made in West Germany, pictured at the top of this post. I believe we started out with just Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, but over the years more pieces were added. By 1968, we had the stable, Three Wise Men, a camel, cow, deer and fawn. By 1979, when the photo above was taken, we had added two shepherds, a number of sheep, and an angel. We also got rather clever setting it up, using books to create "hills," hanging the angel and a star, and adding a light behind the stable for dramatic effect. My parents still have this Nativity scene and say it's worth about $400. Apparently you can still get pieces for it, but my mother says the quality is not as good.

My parents gave me a Nativity scene when I got out on my own, by 1982 when the picture to the right was taken. It's ceramic and the name "Cathie Byrnes" is penciled on the bottom of the largest piece, but I haven't been able to find out anything about her. Despite traveling to Washington state and back to Texas, it has survived intact except for the ears on one of the donkeys. Nowadays during Advent and Christmas, it resides on the mantel above the fireplace, where it blends in well with the limestone.

To the left is a photo I took in 1982 of the Nativity scene at my Uncle Ronald and Aunt Rose Mary Pape Dietz' home in Glenview, Illinois. The caption I wrote on it at the time said it was "in the Pape family for three generations." I'm not sure if that means it originally belonged to my great-grandparents John and Gertrude Kramer Pape, or if it came down through my paternal grandmother's family and originally belonged to Frederick and Elizabeth Dienes Massmann, or even to Fred and Regina Mattheis Dienes. All of them (except Elizabeth Dienes Massmann, born in Illinois) were German immigrants, so it is possible the Nativity scene was brought over from Germany. I've contacted some of my Dietz cousins to see which of them has this Nativity scene now and what they know about its origins.

This is post 20 in the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories hosted by Geneabloggers.com.

© Amanda Pape - 2009

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Advent Calendar: December 19

December 19 Prompt:
Christmas Shopping-


How did your family handle Christmas shopping? Did anyone finish early or did anyone start on Christmas Eve?


Christmas shopping. Ugh.

Obviously not my favorite thing. I'm not real big on gifts - receiving or giving them. I don't start shopping on Christmas Eve, but neither do I finish shopping early either.

My family of origin handles Christmas shopping via lists. Somewhere around the time the youngest outgrew Santa, we all started making lists of what we wanted. The lists would be circulated among the other family members and we'd indicate what we planned to buy. If your list was planned carefully (nothing too outrageous, stuff everyone could afford), you would get everything on it.

My family still does this today, although I only participate for Mom and Dad. Mom makes this particularly easy. My parents live in a smaller town and Mom does a lot of catalog shopping. She makes a list (at the top of this post), noting item numbers, price, where you can get it, the website and phone number. She also cuts out pictures and descriptions of the items from the catalogs. Dad assembles those onto additional sheets of paper (like below) and repeats the info about where you can get the items. He then e-mails the list and pictures to me and my siblings around Thanksgiving, and we e-mail each other saying what we're going to get her.

Since I now live in a small town and also do a lot of catalog and online shopping, I find Mom easy to buy for. Dad is not quite as detailed, but there is usually at least one thing on his list that I can easily get for him. I don't make any lists for myself because I really don't want or need anything.

This is post 19 in the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories hosted by Geneabloggers.com.

© Amanda Pape - 2009

Friday, December 18, 2009

Advent Calendar: December 18

Prompt for December 18:
Christmas Stockings-


Did you have one? Where did you hang it? What did you get in it? Do you have any Christmas stockings used by your ancestors?


I did have a Christmas stocking, but it may not have been until I was about 13. The picture above was taken in 1970, I believe shortly after my siblings and I decorated the felt stockings Mom made for us. They are lined up in our birth order, so mine is on the left, followed by Karen's, Mark's, Brian's, and Mary's. I do remember that Brian and Mary were fairly young when we got the stockings as Karen and I actually did the decorations on theirs, so it may have been earlier than 1970 (but no earlier than 1964).

To the left and right are pictures of Mark, Brian and Mary looking in their stockings on Christmas mornings in 1971 and 1973 respectively.


We didn't have a fireplace growing up, so the stockings were hung from a drawer in an etagere in the living room while they were empty. They were too full to stay hung there after they were filled, so I think they were laid out on a coffee table.

I don't remember exactly what we got in them. I think there was tangerines, walnuts, and candy, and little unwrapped gifts that were small enough to fit in them. By 1979, even our basset hound, Barney, got his own stocking filled with doggy toys and treats.


My husband Mark still has his stocking from childhood. His mother, Jewel Moore Gresham, made it for him when he was little (maybe around 1944?) and saved it for years. He found it among her things after she passed away in 1994. It hangs above our (unused) fireplace today, flanked by Eric's and my store-bought, fuzzy red stockings with white cuffs, with our names in green glitter glue.

This is post 18 in the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories hosted by Geneabloggers.com

© Amanda Pape - 2009

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Advent Calendar: December 17

December 17:
Christmas in Evanston, Illinois, 1929-1951


Prompt: Grab Bag/Author's Choice. Please post from a topic that helps you remember Christmas past!


I showed my dad (almost 81) the list of prompts for the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories, then had a hard time keeping up with my notes on everything he remembered!

Dad is the grandchild (or great-grandchild) of German immigrants on both sides, and he can remember real candles on some of their Christmas trees. He knew people that strung popcorn and cranberries alternately in garlands. He also remembers beautiful glass ornaments from Germany on theirs and his parents' trees.

Besides the Streuselkuchen I mentioned in the holiday foods post, he remembers prune and raisin coffee cakes, stollen, and eggnog. His mother, Elizabeth Massmann Pape (my Nana) also made tons of Christmas cookies, including pfefferneusse, which he remembers being rather hard to bite into. They'd have 10-12 boxes of different kinds of cookies, including cut-out and iced cookies and ones with baked-in goodies. Dad remembers helping as there were extra cookies for the helpers! His favorites were chocolate ones dusted with confectioner's sugar.

Because my Grandpa (Paul Robert) Pape was an insurance broker, Nana (Elizabeth Massmann Pape) sent out a lot of Christmas cards, and they received a lot too, which were put on display. Likewise his parents would have a holiday party for these customers, and Nana would hold one for the relatives too.

He remembers they had outdoor decorations, but mostly just around the door. The weather wasn't always conducive to putting up a lot more than that.

He remembers visiting Santa Claus in department stores, but as mentioned in other traditions, Santa also came on St. Nicholas Day. Dad said his Grandma (Elizabeth Dienes) Massmann used to go to Hibbard, Spencer & Bartlett for toys and other gifts - Dad worked for them one summer.

As for holiday travel - Dad remembered Christmas in 1951, when he was a navigator cadet at Ellington Air Force Base outside Houston. The Chicago area received tremendous snowfall that December and getting there for Christmas was going to be a problem. He said Colonel Lee released planes, and two were going to the Chicago area. He managed to get into O'Hare (this was back when it was being used by the Air Force and wasn't the commercial airport it is today) when all other Chicago area airports were closed.

Mom likes fruitcake - Dad does to a point. One of his summer jobs was working for Casey's Fruitcakes in Evanston during World War II. An exact amount of dough had to be put in cans in which the cakes were baked, sealed, and then sent to servicemen overseas. He said the amount of dough had to be just right in terms of weight.

As mentioned earlier, Nana's birthday is December 23. Dad said she insisted on having a separate birthday party and presents, not combined with Christmas. He and his four siblings would pool their money on shopping for their parents' gifts, with his older sister Betty usually purchasing Nana's, while he and his brother Bob would get Grandpa something like fishing line (or a new reel when they were older).

I'll save Dad's other stories for later. The photo at the top of the post is of a postcard of the Evanston City Hall (a hand-colored photograph) that I bought in an antique store in Granbury, Texas. It's undated, and it's hard to read the postmark (in Chicago, Illinois), but my son thinks it says 1907. That would correspond with the type of postcard it is (undivided back with some writing space on the front, which were made December 24, 1901 through at least March 1, 1907) and the one-cent Franklin stamp on the back (which was introduced in February 1903). Postcards could be mailed for one cent until 1952 (except November 2, 1917 - July 1, 1919, and April 15, 1925 - June 30, 1928 when the rate was also two cents). You can see the building in the backgrounds of this 1902 photo of the Rood Building housing the Lord's store next door, and this supposedly 1896 photo of Fountain Square in Evanston (actually taken 1893-1895 based on the location of Lord's), but I haven't been able to determine if it still exists today.

This is post 17 in the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories hosted by Geneabloggers.com

ETA: Karen Hansen, Adult Services Librarian at Evanston Public Library, answered my query. "According to Evanston: A Pictoral History, the city broke ground for the City Hall building in 1891. In 1946, the building in your postcard was sold and the former Evanston Country Club building was designated as the new City Hall. The old City Hall was razed shortly afterward during the same year. So...the building would have existed at least for part of the time your father lived in Evanston. I hope that helps you fill a gap in your family history!" Thanks also to digital image expert Jennifer Lafleur for additional links to images and articles.

ETA2: Debra Gust, Image and Licensing Specialist with the Curt Teich Postcard Archives at the Lake County Discovery Museum in Wauconda, Illinois, wrote to me, "This is a very early Teich card, the number on it is 94. Because of the undivided back we know that it was printed sometime before 1907, but I cannot give you the exact year. The one we have in the collection was postmarked 1905."

© Amanda Pape - 2009

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Advent Calendar: December 16

Prompt for December 16:
Christmas at School-


What did you or your ancestors do to celebrate Christmas at school? Were you ever in a Christmas pageant?


Well, of COURSE I was in a Christmas pageant! I went to Catholic school, after all. I was Mary, mother of Jesus in third grade. In sixth grade I was in the school choir (along with my 5th-grade sister Karen) - snippets of the printed program are above.

Once a photographer from the Texas Catholic Herald came out to take the photo at right of my 8th-grade class lighting the candles on an Advent wreath. It was published December 18, 1970. I was very tall in 8th grade and you can see me in my dark-framed glasses at the upper left of the photo.

I went to an all-girls Catholic high school that held a formal Christmas Dance at a classy location each year. Being an all-girls school, of course the girls asked the guys to the dance. I invited someone each of the four years, but was turned down by the guys I invited in my freshman* and junior years because they were (supposedly) going to be out of town the dates of the dances, which fell in the week before Christmas. We girls bought a "bid" to attend the dance which resulted in a lovely engraved souvenir like the one at the left.

(*The guy I invited freshman year is at the far right in the windbreaker in the newspaper photo above.)

This is post 16 in the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories hosted by Geneabloggers.com.

© Amanda Pape - 2009

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Advent Calendar: December 15

Prompt for December 15:
Holiday Happenings!-


Often times December to mid-January birthdays get overshadowed by the Christmas/Hanukkah/New Year holidays. So we're going to shine a spotlight on those family members and ancestors this time around. Select one or more December to mid-January birthdays and/or anniversaries in your family tree. Write a short tribute to or memory of those birthday guys or gals and write a toast to the anniversary couples.


I think every family has lots of birthdays (and a few anniversaries) that fall during the Christmas holiday period. I'm picking a few from the early 1980s just cuz I have some photos of these events.

My paternal grandmother, "Nana," Elizabeth Massmann Pape, was born December 23, 1902. The family decided to throw a big 80th birthday party for her in 1982. At that time she had five children (all married), 28 grandchildren (many married), and 9 great-grandchildren, and most of them were able to come to the party in the Chicago area. A lot of the grandchildren, their spouses, and great-grandchildren are in the photo at the top of this post - I'm not going to try to name them all!

The photo at right is also from that 80th birthday party, and pictures Nana with her five children, from left, Elizabeth "Betty" Streff, my dad Fred Pape, Paul Robert "Bob" Pape Jr., Marilyn "Beete" Hedger, and Rose Mary "Moe" Dietz.

On January 2, 1981, my cousin Donna Pape married John Jajich, also in the Chicago area. Donna is just a few weeks younger than me, and her parents, Bob and Dolores "Lorrie" Olker Pape, are my godparents. We're all pictured at left. Donna had come to Texas for a long vacation the previous January, so of course I had to go to her wedding!

The days after the wedding were fun too. Donna's brother-in-law, her sister Terrie's husband Mark Zitzelsberger, celebrated his 28th birthday on January 4. In the photo below, surrounding Mark are Terrie (pregnant with first child Lisa, who just married Bryce Roebke this past October), Aunt Lorrie, my cousin Judy Pape Schaller, and me.

That same trip, I cross-country skied for the first time in the Forest Preserve District of Cook County, Illinois. That's me pictured to the left, and Judy and Uncle Bob in the photo below right.

All of these photos are especially meaningful now because Nana, Aunt Lorrie, Aunt Moe, and Uncle Bob have all passed away. I miss them, especially this time of the year.

(This is post 15 in the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories hosted by Geneabloggers.com).

© Amanda Pape - 2009

Monday, December 14, 2009

Advent Calendar: December 14

Prompt for December 14:
Fruitcake, Friend or Foe?-


Did you like fruitcake? Did your family receive fruitcakes? Have you ever re-gifted fruitcake? Have you ever devised creative uses for fruitcake?


I know we received fruitcakes when I was growing up. I tried them, enough to know I don't like them. If someone gave me one today, I think it would be cruel to "re-gift" it, since I don't know anyone who likes fruitcake. (Well, I take that back - Mark says his mom made a fruitcake that was actually quite good.)

As for creative uses of fruitcake - I'm going to make creative use of this post and talk about OTHER food gifts.

I grew up in Texas, and live there again, but from November 1984 through December 2005, I lived in Washington state. For a number of years, my brother Brian sent me pecans from Pape Pecan House (no relation - I think!) in Seguin, Texas. One year he sent shelled pecan halves in a green ceramic dish shaped like Texas (which alas, broke in transit back here), but most of the time he send two-to-five-pound bags of shelled pecans suitable for baking. This was a great gift that I really appreciated, as the pecans froze well and I could make Pecan Puffs year-round if I wanted.

The pecans always arrived with recipes, like this one (right) for pecan pie. This one was so close to my mother's recipe that I just made the necessary changes. I've never been to the Pape Pecan House, but I need to go - they have The World's Largest Nutcracker Collection - over 6000 of them as of a year ago.
During some of the years I lived in Washington, we sent apples to my family in Texas. The gifts did double-duty as they also benefited the Children's Home Society of Washington. The packaging isn't so nice now, but I thought about sending the gifts to myself at times as the beautiful boxes they came in were perfect for storing Christmas ornaments. Plus, I understand the apples were better than any even we could get in local grocery stores. To the left is an article about the apple sales from the December 1, 1986 (a year we would have sent them) Spokane Chronicle.

Today we send Rio Red grapefruit (yum!) from the Rio Grande Valley of Texas to Mark's two sisters (in New York and Washington states) and his daughter in South Carolina. From them, we've received gifts of home-smoked salmon, home-grown walnuts, apples and pears, and dried fruits, all of which we really appreciate.

The photo at the top of this post is of pecans we've picked up in our neighborhood - lots of pecan trees in this part of the state! They are in a wooden dish that used to belong to Mark's parents.

(This is post 14 in the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories hosted by Geneabloggers.com).

© Amanda Pape - 2009

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Advent Calendar: December 13

Prompt for December 13:
Holiday Travel-


Did you or your ancestors travel anywhere for Christmas? How did you travel and who traveled with you? Do you remember any special trips?


Growing up, Christmas was always at my family's house. There were seven of us, and my mother's two siblings had no children, and my dad's siblings and parents all lived far away (we were in Houston, Texas, and they were in the Chicago area and Rochester, New York). So no, we didn't do any traveling for Christmas.

Nowadays, Christmas is usually at my brother Mark's house in Austin. He and Debbie have the most kids (four) and the biggest house. Since I moved back to Texas in 2006, we've driven down there for Christmas Day. The first year, I tried to drive back the same night. THAT was a mistake. Tons of deer along the road - very stressful. So now, we stay overnight. The past couple years, it's been at the famous Austin Motel, but we probably won't stay there this year, because Christmas is on a Friday and "weekend rentals must include Friday and Saturday." Kinda defeats the purpose of staying in an $80 room if you HAVE to stay two nights.

(This is post 13 in the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories hosted by Geneabloggers.com). © Amanda Pape - 2009

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Advent Calendar: December 12

Prompt for December 12:
Charitable / Volunteer Work-


Did your family ever volunteer with a charity such as a soup kitchen, homeless or battered women's shelter during the holidays? Or perhaps were your ancestors involved with church groups that assisted others during the holiday?


I wasn't really quite sure about how I would answer this prompt, until I remembered the photo to the left. It was taken around 1946 of my paternal grandmother's father, Frederick Henry Massmann. According to The American Catholic Who's Who, Volume 7 (1946 and 1947, page 300), he was named a Knight of the Pontifical Equestrian Order of St. Gregory the Great in 1932. The honor can be bestowed on those who, by "the renown of their deeds or the degree of their munificence, are deemed worthy to be honoured by a public expression of esteem on the part of the Holy See.” Although I have not been able to find a source detailing the reasons he received this honor, from what my father has told me, I believe it has something to do with Massmann's involvement in the establishment of the Catholic Youth Organization and with the Boy Scouts in Chicago, Illinois.

The uniform is described as a "dark green tail coat and trousers, both trimmed with silver embroidery, a cocked hat and dress sword: white gloves are worn." Detail of the sword can be seen here and detail of the badge here.

(This is post 12 in the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories hosted by Geneabloggers.com).

© Amanda Pape - 2009

Friday, December 11, 2009

Advent Calendar: December 11

Prompt for December 11:
Other Traditions-


Did your immigrant ancestors have holiday traditions from their native country which they retained or perhaps abandoned?
Did your family or friends also celebrate other traditions during the holidays such as Hanukkah or Kwanzaa?

Wasn't sure what I was going to post this day in response to this prompt, but my parents called tonight, and my almost-81-year-old dad told me something I didn't know. Dad is 100% German, I think - three out of his four grandparents emigrated from Germany, and the other was the daughter of a German immigrant. Dad says that when he was a child, they celebrated Saint Nicholas Day on December 6. He and his four siblings would hang their stockings ("the biggest socks we could find") on their phony fireplace in their Chicago area home. The next morning, they would find them full of fruit (tangerines and Golden Delicious apples), nuts (walnuts and pecans in the shell), and candy.

We didn't do this when I was a child, but I'm hoping some of my aunts and cousins read this and let me know if they celebrated Saint Nicholas Day in their families, then or now.

I have some good friends, Jeff and Kathleen, who celebrate Hanukkah as well as Christmas--at least, I assume they do, because Kathleen makes the best latkes!

When my son Eric was growing up, we tried to observe the true Advent (the period before Christmas beginning four Sundays before Christmas Day - so it would often begin in November--as it did this year, on the 29th-- and NOT on December 1). When Eric was in kindergarten, he made a lovely wreath with dried pasta, pine cones, and walnuts sprayed with gold paint. With a simple ring of candle holders added, it makes the perfect Advent wreath. I've put a lovely music box snow globe (it plays "Oh Holy Night") with the Nativity scene that my paternal grandmother gave me years ago in the center. To the right is a photo of the Advent wreath and snow globe music box Nativity scene.

(This is post 11 in the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories hosted by Geneabloggers.com).

© Amanda Pape - 2009

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Advent Calendar: December 10

Prompt for December 10:
Christmas Gifts-


What were your favorite gifts both to receive and to give? Are there specific gift-giving traditions among your family or ancestors?


Just addressing the second question--I remember in my early 20s that my family of origin would have a morning Christmas and an afternoon Christmas.

On Christmas morning (above left, 1981), the tree would be loaded with gifts to and from my parents and siblings. When my grandmother, aunt, and sometimes great aunt's and uncle's family would arrive in the afternoon (above right, 1981, with our basset hound Barney in front), there'd be a whole 'nother load of presents put under the tree for all of us to open.

Below are family from my mother's side opening gifts on Christmas afternoon, 1982. From left are my aunt Mary Anne Sarmiento Guokas, great uncle Don Gould, grandmother Sara Wolfe Guokas Archibald, cousin Sophia Sarmiento, family friend Sister Cecilia, and great aunt Edith Wolfe Gould. You can see my aunt Sister Jean Marie Guokas' black veil (the back of her head) in the foreground, and my uncle Charles Guokas III is on the floor.

(This is post 10 in the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories hosted by Geneabloggers.com).

© Amanda Pape - 2009

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Advent Calendar: December 9

December 9 -
Corpus Christi Christmas -


Prompt: Grab Bag/Author's Choice. Please post from a topic that helps you remember Christmas past!


I'm writing about Christmas in Corpus Christi, Texas, where I was blessed to live April 1, 1979 until mid-October, 1984. One of the highlights was Harbor Lights, when boats in the marina downtown were decorated with lights. This apparently has since become a big festival with a nighttime illuminated boat parade where some people go all out, but it was just stationery boats lit up in their slips back then. The pictures above and below are from 1981. On the left below is my husband Mark's first sailboat (co-owned with his friend Tom, and now owned by his son Drew), the Wagon, and on the right is his second sailboat, Contagious (aka Contigo).

Another annual event back then was the Christmas Tree Forest, held in the Art Museum of South Texas in Bayfront Plaza. Local organizations and individuals would decorate trees to fit with a unifying theme. In 1982, that theme was international holiday traditions. I love the Texas tree, below left. The city Park and Recreation Department (where I worked April 1979 to October 1981) did a "Japan" tree (below right) decorated with paper fans and origami:


The Christmas season wasn't complete for me without participating in the Collier Pool New Year's Day 2 Mile Swim (I'm thrilled to see this is still going on!). Collier Pool was an outdoor pool (heated in winter) where I worked out regularly except in the busy summer season (I used the pool at Corpus Christi State University, now Texas A&M - Corpus Christi, that season). Below left is my shirt from the 1983 swim--temperatures that day ranged from 42 to 50 degrees. Collier staff even had their own tree (below right), festively decorated with race ribbons and swim lesson cards, among other things.

(This is post 9 in the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories hosted by Geneabloggers.com)

© Amanda Pape - 2009