Sunday, December 4, 2016

Sentimental Sunday: A 1937 Christmas Card from Aunt Gret and Uncle Lee

Back on March 28, a couple third cousins, John and Mari, found me via my blog.  They are the children of Mary Ann Pape Bates (1932-2013), who is the daughter of Karl James Pape (1889-1958) and Catherine Gertrude Schwall (1892-1977).  Karl is my grandfather Paul Pape's first cousin - Karl is the son of Lorenz Pape (1862-1932), the brother of my great-grandfather John Pape (1851-1945).

Karl and his family lived in Wilmette, Illinois, for much of his adult life.  Also living in Wilmette was his first cousin Lee Pape (1893-1979), my grandfather Paul's older brother, and Lee's wife Gretchen Anna Reis Pape (1886-1947), an artist.  John sent me the following image, saying, "I just got a framed picture of a card sent out by Gretchen and Lee Pape, probably to my Grandparents, or mom."

That is definitely Gretchen's artwork.  Obviously, her signature is on it (G. A. Reis-Pape), but it's also her style for drawings.  I suspect the snow people represent themselves, as Lee was very tall and Gretchen was very short.  The 210 on the door is for their address, 210 17th St. in Wilmette, which they were living in by 1929 (if not earlier; they married sometime between 1924 and 1927), and Uncle Lee continued to live in until his death.  Under Gretchen's signature is the date, 1937.

Mari explained, "My mother [Mary Ann] kept that greeting card from her mother's [Catherine's] belongings. So John is my brother and I gave it to him to keep as he enjoys Wilmette. I found that going through mother's papers during her last hospital stay, placed it in a picture frame and had it next to her bed. I have kept it the past few years."

© Amanda Pape - 2016 - click here to e-mail me.


  1. This is so delightful to see. How quaint her message,"two friendly souls". The more I find out about her the more I like her. Another great find. I don't remember if I told you, but the Evanston History Center did accept her painting into their collection. I struggled with letting it go at this time but knew it belonged there. Besides I have been able to enjoy it for over 50 years. Happy New Year.

    1. Amy, that was so wonderful of you to donate the painting! I hope to be up in Chicago in March or May, and will try to go by the Evanston History Center. Happy New Year to you too!