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StoryCorps: Marie DeSantis

From: StoryCorps
Series: StoryCorps
Length: 03:01

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Marie DeSantis tells her grandson, Mark Hayes, about a Christmas during World War II. Read the full description.

Desantis_small Marie DeSantis [duh-SAN-tiss like "sand"], 80, remembers the day the dreaded telegram arrived in late 1944. Her brother Joe was fighting in Germany and word came that he was missing in action. DeSantis, 18 at the time, was afraid to tell her parents. "I ran to get my three sisters, who were at church. And I said, 'You have to come home. Mama and Papa need you.'" "We were so upset, my sister, instead of getting in the car, she ran... all the way home alongside the car. It was the worst news you could get." It was decided the family, who lived in Staten Island, N.Y., wouldn't have a Christmas tree that year because of Joe. "We don't know if he's alive, we don't know anything, so we're going to not have a Christmas tree," DeSantis recalls her mother saying. Then on Christmas Eve, a letter came from Joe: "I'm in a hospital. I'm all right, I'll come home soon. By now you must be putting up the Christmas tree." A day earlier, DeSantis' other brother, John, had bought a tree home and tucked it under the porch in hopes that the family would celebrate the holiday after all. "So we put it up and we decorated it -- 'This one's for you, Joe' -- and it turned out nice," DeSantis says.

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Piece Description

Marie DeSantis [duh-SAN-tiss like "sand"], 80, remembers the day the dreaded telegram arrived in late 1944. Her brother Joe was fighting in Germany and word came that he was missing in action. DeSantis, 18 at the time, was afraid to tell her parents. "I ran to get my three sisters, who were at church. And I said, 'You have to come home. Mama and Papa need you.'" "We were so upset, my sister, instead of getting in the car, she ran... all the way home alongside the car. It was the worst news you could get." It was decided the family, who lived in Staten Island, N.Y., wouldn't have a Christmas tree that year because of Joe. "We don't know if he's alive, we don't know anything, so we're going to not have a Christmas tree," DeSantis recalls her mother saying. Then on Christmas Eve, a letter came from Joe: "I'm in a hospital. I'm all right, I'll come home soon. By now you must be putting up the Christmas tree." A day earlier, DeSantis' other brother, John, had bought a tree home and tucked it under the porch in hopes that the family would celebrate the holiday after all. "So we put it up and we decorated it -- 'This one's for you, Joe' -- and it turned out nice," DeSantis says.

Broadcast History

NPR's Morning Edition, 12/22/2006

Transcript

MD: In 1944 my brother Joe was in the service, of course he was fighting in Germany. A telegram came saying that he was missing in action and so I was afraid to tell my parents and I ran to get my three sisters who were at church and I said, "You have to come home. Mama and Pappa need you." We were so upset my sister, instead of getting in the car, she ran home, ran all the way home alongside the car. It was the worst news you could get. It was getting closer to Christmas and my mother says, "We won't be able to have a Christmas tree this year because Joeys not here we don't if he's alive, we don't know anything. So we're going not have a Christmas tree." Then Christmas Eve, a letter came from Joey... "I'm in a hospital. I'm alright. I'll come home soon and by now you must be putting up the Christmas tree." My mother says, "Oh look what happened, he is telling us to decorate...
Read the full transcript

Intro and Outro

INTRO:

STORYCORPS has been listening in as loved ones talk to each other across
the country.
We've heard that people sometimes tell the most important stories ... to the ones who know them best.
[STORYCORPS MUSIC posts, then fades under copy]
Marie DeSantis [duh-SAN-tiss like "sand"] recently talked to one of her grandchildren about CHRISTMAS in 1944. World War Two raged on in Europe.

DeSantis [duh-SAN-tiss] was eighteen then living with her family in Staten Island, New York. She recalls how their holiday CHANGED ... with news from the war.

OUTRO:

Marie DeSantis in New York City. We can tell you that Joey Valenza [Vah-LENS-ah] eventually came home ...
StoryCorps interviews are archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.
Listen to more of them NPR-DOT-ORG.

Related Website

http://www.storycorps.net/listen