Tag Archives: 1940s

In the Spirit of Christmas…I am Going to Talk About Santa…


….but not that Santa…..

While this site is dedicated to my dad, running and Disney, if I were to stray a bit on the family history side of things, I would hit other parts of family. And with that, I am letting myself stray for a moment and appreciate my Grandma Stengel. While Grandma Stengel may not have been around in my life as long as many other peoples’ grandparents (she passed away when I was 3 years old) she is someone who I treasure and recollect back at the moments I was able to spend with her.

Let’s start by noting my Grandma’s first name was Santa. For real. Santa. Middle name Maria. My grandma is Santa Maria Stengel. And before being married she was Santa Maria Basci. Her parents are both direct off the boat from Sicily and that is my direct, blatant connection to the Deep South of Europe. I have so much to learn family history-wise in regards to my dad, that the details of my maternal Grandmother could take me another lifetime…I know my Auntie Susie has already begun to collect family letters between my grandparents during WWII, and she longs for a visit to Sicily,…so hopefully in my future, I can head this way too.

I have been a clinger and possessor of old photographs….much thanks to my mom inheriting all the old family photos. These were all in old cardboard boxes and albums deep in my parents’ basement, and I am glad I was a freak of a child who spent hours on end just sorting and staring through old photos from the 40s and on….if not, I would have never found these gems of Grandma:



My Grandma Stengel was a strong woman—she raised my mom and her two younger sisters on her own after my Grandpa passed away from a heart attack when he was 50. My mom was 15 at the time, and her two younger sisters were 9 and 10, respectively. My mom helped out a lot and took over a maternal role in the house, helping raise her two younger sisters. My mom and her sisters are still incredibly close—I was fortunate enough to live most of my life only two blocks away from Auntie Debbie and my cousins, and got to visit Auntie Susie and her family tons.

My Grandma passed away from lung cancer at age 67. She, like many people from her time, over-used and never quit smoking cigarettes. This was the cause of my Grandma Lammers’ death also, close to the same time too. I am glad I have photographic memories and stories to hold on to of time I was able to spend with Grandma Stengel.



My Family Saves a lot of Shit!


Growing up, our family basement was “finished” in terms of the fact it had more than just a sub floor. It wasn’t necessarily a livable space, or somewhere where you would want your middle child to have their bedroom, but it had the flooring down and was framed and insulated. My friends and I could play down there, and it was fine. We had a lot of storage space in my parents house—it’s amazing my mom and dad did not become hoarders! I know as an only child, we have more photos of me growing up, more photos of our family at holiday events…I know I was spoiled growing up with gifts and other items….but with all that, comes years of random stuff being stowed in your parents’ basement. But then, over the last ten or more years, some of that “garbage” has been filtered out and thrown away.

Now, I know for a fact nothing precious has been tossed. I’ve been a guardian of that basement my whole life. I spent many of days when I was middle school aged or older looking through my moms’ family photos. I loved the idea of the past, and loved looking back at it. Photos like the ones below exemplified my grandparents and their families, and we have held on to those!



But other than family photos, there was a bunch of my toys. The things piling in my parents’ basement were random Barbies, board games and hand-me-downs from my cousins. We also had a lot of my school work. The wooden walls in our old-school basement were a stapling ground for anything I did in art class. We also had an old-fashioned desk we got at a rummage sale, that my best friend Ali and I would use to play school. In the desk we stored old notebooks, folders and classroom supplies. From kindergarten and, on this desk was in my basement—and I added old notebooks into in. But later on, many got thrown away. However, me being the master of the basement, I made sure my early ones stayed.

When my family went to Walt Disney World for the first time in 1991, me; being the studious young kid, made sure to ask Mrs. Shrake if there was anything I needed to do. We use to do a single sentence journal entry every day in class, which included the date, and was usually about a topic on the board. She told me to write in my journal each day when in Disney World. Since I am currently on my 15th trip to Walt Disney World, I thought it would be fun to look at these pieces of history (ha!) Here are excerpts from my school journal in 1991, when I was on my first ever trip to Walt Disney World:




I have, and always will, remember those first words: I am up in the airplane. I am up in the sky. And it is even crazier to think about these words I wrote back in 1991, while in Disney World with my family, and that I am here now in 2013, writing words about these words while on vacation with one of my best friends.