Julia Ann "Dolly" Daneker Haupt
  • My aunt, Mildred "Diddy" Haupt, recently celebrated her 97th birthday. The short pieces of audio that have been added here are her memories of the events. Diddy was as close as her younger sisters could get to Mildred, and she has been known as Diddy ever since. (editor's note: Months after Diddy celebrated her 98th birthday, she passed away on Mother's Day 2012.) Diddy told the story of how my grandmother became Dolly to my sister, Lynda.

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When my grandmother was in her mid nineties, she rode a stationary bicycle most afternoons just to get some exercise. Most afternoons because frequently after lunch it was time to get together with the bridge club. They always bet on their games and my grandmother hated losing. Then there was the afternoon that she got off her machine and lay down complaining of being tired. Over the next months, the tired feeling did not get better and she rarely got out of bed. Visits to the doctor produced no hint of a disease that could be identified or cured with medicine. In the last weeks of her life, the frail shadow of my grandmother lay in bed talking to people that had been dead for many years. As hard as it was to lose her, I was glad when she finally slipped away to where she wanted to be because I only wanted to remember the feisty character that taught me gambling at the bridge table and argued that Richard Nixon should never have resigned.

  • Diddy on my grandmother's illness.

Dolly Daneker had quite a life. She was one of many children. There is some discussion of how many brothers and sisters she had as several died of various waves of influenza that killed so many people at the turn of the 20th century. There may have been as many as five who died before the grief became too much for her mother. Apparently, her mother's grief led her out to wonder aimlessly in the dead of winter. Before she was found and brought back to a warm fire, she had contracted the disease that quickly took her life. Dolly's father sent his two surviving daughters (Dolly and Helen) away from their Cambridge, Maryland home to live with relatives.

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West Virginia became her home at a time when Henry Ford was learning about assembly lines and the Wright brothers were gluing canvass on wings. Riding horses was normal transportation, but the stories were of Dolly riding to win, on the track, but mostly on a sulky behind a trotting horse. She must have been remarkable on a horse with her curly red hair bobbing with the motion of each stride. She left West Virginia when her uncle died to live 10 or 15 miles from Frackville, Pennsylvania when she became a young woman and the United States was approaching the first of two World Wars.

Frackville was a coal mining community north of Allentown. It takes its name from Daniel Frack who is generally considered to be its founder. I have heard three versions of the story of the naming of Frackville. The first one I heard was that my great-great-grandfather, Samuel Haupt was a developer in partnership with Frack. When the town incorporated, they tossed a coin to determine the name for the new city. Sam lost and there never has been a Hauptville in Pennsylvania. The second version had Samuel as the developer of a second and competing town that he named Plainville. Two petitions for incorporating the city were presented and the courts decided on Frackville over Mountain City. The remaining 5,000 residents still use the nickname of Mountain City to describe Frackville. The third version has a bitter rivalry between the Frack family and the Haupts that was resolved at the time of incorporation with the toss of a coin.

Whatever the best version of the story is, Samuel Haupt, my grandfather, was a developer and real estate speculator in Frackville. His family owned the lumber yard and had created the water works for the city. While most folks in rural communities still used horses for transportation, he had a car or a truck or maybe both that he used in his travels. I can only imagine how my grandmother must have seen him as a dashing figure in his gleaming black Ford or how striking Dolly must have been galloping around with her hair flying. The story of how they met has been muddled with time, but the impact of Sam having a car/truck was always a part of the story. Shortly after they met, they eloped, married at "The Little Church Around the Corner" and honeymooned in Atlantic City. Yes, she did enjoy playing Monopoly.

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Sam and Dolly married and started a family. They lived, like many at the time, in a house that was also the office and yard for the real estate business. Their second child, the only son they would have, was run over by a truck driven by one of Sam's employees in the yard behind the house. My grandmother must have remembered how devastated her own mother was at the loss of her children. She must have resolved to not allow that to happen in her family as this is among the most difficult stories for my mother and her sisters to tell. She must have added another layer of toughness to her emotional armor.

  • Diddy was five years old when Sam, Jr. was run over at the age of 3.

Four daughters born and growing, the war to end all wars over and the next disaster was the crash of 1929. Real estate was not a good business to survive the depression. My grandparents lost everything they had, business and personal. Sam went to work trying to rebuild his life, while my grandmother took the girls to live with relatives in West Virginia (see Foreclosure). By the time the family was back together, World War II was starting and my mother was a student at Albright College and rarely at home in Reading Pennsylvania. Sadly, the years of separation and hardship had taken a major toll on Sam. I remember him as a tired man who seemed to spend all of his time sitting at his roll top desk that occupied a corner of the dining room. I do not remember seeing him enthusiastic about anything. I was very young when he died.

The events of those 50 years happened to many American families. The flue epidemics, the wars, and the depression left scars and fresh graves in their wake. The hardships that Dolly's generation endured are beyond the comprehension of the generation beginning life a century later. I always admired Dolly for her strength of character, well, some would still compare her to a mule. The lady had the courage to face the hand she was dealt, to ride against men when women didn't, to follow her heart in an open ford, to keep her family together through the tough times and to spend the sixties arguing politics with me while we gambled at a bridge table. She also had the sensitivity to write poems for herself that we helped her collect into two volumes.

A sample of Dolly's poems

Love to the hilt
Each hour, each day
Enjoy its beauty
We're not here to stay
As the day passes over
When another day dawns
In your heart now
More saddened
Or attuned to the Sun
The days now are shorter
The hours not so long
As they were in our youth
When life was a song
I thank God for each beauty
For the Sun and the sea
For the love of my children
God gaveth me

I do not know when this was written, but I do know it was written for Sam.

Memories of you are so vivid
Thoughts of you are so dear
That again I can feel your caresses
As the breeze softly blows
Through my hair.
Though time and distance
Divide us,
My heart responds to your touch.
Does your heart respond
To my longing?
Or is that asking too much?
As the breeze passes over,
I slumber,
On my cheeks are the tears,
That I shed
As I dream of your love
And devotion,
Of the day that we once
Planned to wed.

My parents began playing tennis about the time that they were qualifying for AARP membership and played several times a week on indoor and outdoor courts. Dolly wrote this about my mother who continues to play tennis as she approaches her 90th birthday.

Tennis

The excitement mounted
The game a tie
A ball was coming
Swift and high
She hit it with
A stinging twang
Out of reach
Of her opponent's hand.
The tournament ended.
The announcer said,
“We have a winner!”
Her name he read
She felt confused
By the thrill she had,
As they rushed to kiss her,
Or shake her hand.
Now one can plainly see
Luck and courage
Is what you need.
With age no barrier
To skill and speed
When playing tennis
Against Jane Louise.

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