Growing up in a small town in Southern New Jersey

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Wentzels

I received an e-mail from a relative of Elwood Wentzel and that reminded me of some wonderful times I had in Runnemede because of that family.

Let me begin at the beginning. Elwood and Blance Wentzel were like an Aunt and Uncle to me, in fact I called Mr. Wentzel, Uncle El, and Mrs. Wentzel, Aunt Blanche.

Aunt Blanche was the children's Sunday school teacher and she taught the children aged 6-10. She was also the children's church teacher. She was also a wonderful teacher for me to want to love teaching. She used flannel graphs as her means of getting our attention. She's the lady who was really instrumental in my coming to the Lord, although I did settle that matter in the small bedroom at our home with my mom in attendance. And the Sunday's Aunt B wasn't in children's church, we fought to sit next to her because she always had Life Savers in her purse which she shared with us during church.

Aunt Blanche's flannel graphs were something I emulated and copied for years and years and years. Even when I was teaching Sunday school in recent years I used her method to teach both the Bible verses and the Books of the Bible to my students. It still worked, even in these days of video games and many other attention grabbers, her tried and true methods of teaching children to learn God's word still worked.

Aunt B and Uncle E had only one child, Elwood, Jr. Elwood, Jr. was a Bible study leader for the teenagers and was in charge of the youth group before Uncle Sam drafted him in the late 50s.

At least once a month during my growing up years we would go to the Wentzel's for dinner (after church). And Aunt Blanche was a great cook, and I remember that she made a great lemon meringue pie, which was one of my father's (and my) favorites. Mostly she made us a lamb dinner. Leg of lamb, mashed potatoes, peas, jello salad (that's the one with orange jello, celery, and carrots, and not one of my favorites) and she would always give us a choice of water WITH ICE CUBES or Kool Aid. I say WITH ICE CUBES because we didn't often get to have ice cubes in our water, mainly because the ice was reserved for my father, and secondly our freezer was too small to make more than one container of cubes at a time.

Uncle E was the primary driver for a long time in taking us to various youth outings. He had a truck and we'd all pile in the back -- yes, no helmets or seat restraints, just 10 to 15 of us piled in the back of that pick-up having a blast. God protected us, I guess, because we never lost a single teenager not even on the bumpiest country roads. Actually, we never horsed around in the back because he wouldn't allow it. If he caught one of us not sitting as he had instructed, he would not permit us to ride with him again for at least a month -- that's what you call a time-out!

The Wentzels had a cat -- Buffy? Anyway, every time I went to Aunt Blanche's home -- and I was there at least once a week until I went to high school for Good News Club -- I would sneeze and wheeze -- and never figured out that it was the cat until I was about 16. Then it was decided that I was allergic to cats. That allergy is not nearly as bad as it used to be. I know this because I can tolerate my children's cats without too much discomfort. Oh I get that throat itch and eye watering part of the allergy, but not the bronchial discomfort I used to suffer.

Aunt Blanche gave me a linen shower when I was approaching my wedding day and she took what few pictures I have of my wedding. I recall I received lots of sheets and lots of towels -- green, mostly. Why I chose green as the color, I don't know. I guess it was a popular color back then.

I have to thank God for those two people, who gave so much of their time to the children and teenagers of Mt. Calvary Union Church.

I must add one more thing -- if you wanted something from God, you asked Aunt Blanche to pray for it -- her prayers were very effectual.

(To the Mandukas -- another family that gave and gave and gave -- this in no way diminishes all the love and service you extended to us as children and teenagers. You, too, were a gift from God to that tiny church.)

1 comment:

Lori said...

I remember Aunt Blanche vividly. She was such a kind person and loved it when we were in town. She just ooh-ed and aahh-ed over dad. :-) She taught SS for us too when we were there. The Mandukas as well were sweet, sweet people. Those are the three people I remember that attended Mt Calvary. They were always so kind and wonderful to us kids and obviously loved dad very much. Gramps had a church full of wonderful people, but those three are the ones I remember with the most fondness. :-)