Introduction to my Family Resesarch

I am Enjoying doing some research on my family history - things I was never interested in before. Now that I am older, and unfortunately my parents are deceased, I want to know so much more and wish I could ask them. What would make them want to take myself at age 8 and and my brother at 4, on a one way trip to another world they knew so little about in 1957- what was it about their own country of Germany that made them want to leave. I am finding out so much! Here's a few photos of the brochure and 1 of me, from the "Arosa Star", the ship we took across the Atlantic.


There are also some things that I am finding out that are disturbing also though - that no one ever talked about, and archives are just being opened up relatively recently. My dad's family lived in the Sudetenland - a section of what is now Czechoslovakia that had been inhabited by Germans since the early Germanic tribes and the Habsburgs. At the end of the second world war the powers to be (and partly in retribution to the horrible atrocities of Hitler- which I agree where horrendous) The Czechs decided to expel the German population there - about 3 million of them. When my dad got back from serving in Greece (in charge of keeping the truck envoys repaired) he had no idea where his parents and 3 younger brothers were. He was married to my mom and had me before he found out that they were living in the former East Germany and were united. There was a big gap in photos - I have 1 engagement and 1 wedding photo and then photos of vising his parents in East Germany when I was a toddler. Still a lot of dad never wanted to talk about it and I was too involved in my own life to ask.
I may write a book about some of this personal history and how it relates to what was going on a the time.

Wally My history...

Wally is short for Waltraud,  a nice German name that no one can pronounce -  so Wally adopted me (maiden name was Schabestiel)- I was born in Kiel, a city in northern Germany on the Baltic Sea. At 8 yrs old I got onto a big boat with my mom, dad and little brother Gunter and ended up in Windsor Canada. My dad had already stated working in his own Auto Electronic business in Detroit when, as Canadian citizens, we immigrated to the states and settled in Garden City.

I must have gotten my entrepreneurial spirit from my my dad (Opa)!  He also had a darkroom in the basement under the stairs in several of our homes and loved photography.  I still have his 2 1/4 black and white negs from both Germany and the states when we were young - what a treasure!
They also had professional photographs taken at times - and I so cherish these.
Take a look at some of my favorites---


I graduated from Garden City West in 1967, went to Schoolcraft Community College and then graduated from U of M.  (after getting married to Russ Spice, living in married housing on the Michigan State campus and then the U of M campus)
I have a teaching certificate in German and English, but spent the years with the my girls (Julie and Tracy) at home - with just some jobs in new home real estate and market research,


Wally is the matriarch that started this family business 20 years ago. and so proud of what it has become. 

At that time, I had been photographing for the Masonic groups I was involved with - I was the official photographer for the OES (Order of the Eastern Star) for their yearly Grand Chapter Sessions and also did a lot for the Rainbow for girls  ( A Masonic youth group) when my girls were active in it and I was an advisory and State Official.  It was so exciting to get published in their little newsletters etc.  That got me hooked.  When I was going through a  divorce during that time,  I had to choose between taking a minimum wage job somewhere or following my dreams and start my own photography business. I decided to go for it and have never regretted it!

In the early years we were often published in the Bridal magazines,  they would often contact us to see if we had any photos of something  to go along with articles they were writing - these would then be published nationally in all the magazines across the country.

I have always been active in eh local and state photography associations - starting on the local level with the Detroit Professional Photographers Association (DPPA)  I was on the board for 5 years and served as the president 2007-2008.  So happy to see Julie follow in my footsteps as the current president and doing an awesome job.
We learned so much from the associations we joined - local statewide and national - from the speakers and programs as well as the other professional photographers who freely shared their knowledge and experience.

This is my third year for being on the board of directors for the Professional Photographers  of Michigan (PPM)).  Ed has recently joined the board also.

My youngest daughter lives in Alaska with her family and i have loved to visit over the years - some of my best travel/fine art prints have been from this beautiful awe inspiring state.