NO “TIME” LIKE THE PRESENT

“How did it get so late so soon? It’s night before it’s afternoon. December is here before it’s June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?”    Dr. Seuss

And here we are again, at the dawning of a NEW YEAR.

How can that possibly be?

Where did 2021 go to?

It feels like time passes much to quickly every year, especially the older I get.

AND, this time of year, time passes at warp speed, and there never seems to be enough hours in the day to accomplish all the extra tasks at hand, this year even more so. I’ve never felt a holiday season feel so compressed before. No sooner did Advent start it was Christmas Day.

Granted, I know it’s because Christmas fell on a Saturday, and like most people, I calculate my time available by the weekends available, so when Christmas falls on a weekend, technically you loose a weekend of time for the tasks at hand.

AND, had I been able to get an earlier start on things time would not have been chasing me down the closer Christmas got. BUT, dealing with health issues from mid-October into November certainly didn’t help with my time management. It did however force me to get a little creative with what time I had, and what I thought I was capable of achieving.

It also made me decide, I get done what I get done. If something doesn’t happen it’s not the end of the world. Did I still try to accomplish all that I had hoped to? Of course, but I didn’t chastise myself if I didn’t. That’s a huge accomplishment for me.

“Own time, or time will own you.”  —  Brian Norgard

In general, when it comes to weekends, I feel like there never seems to be enough time in the day to complete all the things I hope to accomplish. Maybe it’s just because I’m not moving at the same pace as I used to, or it could be because I tend to create lists that not even someone half my age could accomplish, given the time at hand.

You’d think by now I’d start to create more realistic lists instead of challenging myself with a mountain to climb and no hiking boots. Maybe my New Years resolution should be to do just that?

“We go back and forth between being time’s master and its victim.”  —  James Gleick

I’ve always been a list maker, and find great pleasure in crossing things off my to do list. I know that being this way is what helped me make it as a single parent. My lists were (and still are) my saving grace, especially when my Son got more involved with extra-curricular activities.

BUT, now that my Son is in college, and I hit 60 and am eying retirement, despite the goal I have set regarding establishing a chalk art merchandise business, I need to learn to be a little lighter on the to do list, and include a little more play time.

“As time goes by, you seem to weed out the things that were making your life hard.”  —  Tom Petty

NOW, a lot of the extra stuff on my lists is because of my goal of establishing a side business to allow me to retire with a cushion, but even with that, I have to start giving myself a break. I feel like I honestly don’t know how to just chill, unless all my tasks for the day are done, and that just never really happens. I technically just call it a day when it gets to be late and I need to get dinner.

I do take time to exercise, either bike riding or walking, and of course to do my chalk art, but other than that it’s chores or business related stuff. Don’t get me wrong, I actually enjoy some of the chores, and am inspired when pursuing the business related stuff, but my Son is a gamer, and I just couldn’t imagine sitting at a computer for hours gaming, to me that’s just wasted time.

“Time you enjoy wasting, was not wasted.”  —  John Lennon

SO, how the hell do I find a happy medium between Type A List Oriented Mentality and Sit Around and Game All Day Mentality?

Granted, for my Son, gaming is a form of entertainment and relaxation, and as a college-student who’s majoring in game design, I get that this is what he fills his free time with. BUT, it seems to take precedence over things that need to get done beyond schoolwork.

I just can’t do that with anything. I fantasize about spending an afternoon reading or watching an old movie or binging some show, but I just can’t get myself to do that unless I’m not feeling well.

If I don’t schedule my walk, bike ride or chalk art into my day, it won’t happen.

Now of course my Son is still in college and unencumbered by the chores/tasks involved with the world of a work full-time, homeowner, grown-up, but I know my Task Master mentality is not that of every grown-up.

I tell myself when I’m retired I’ll have more time to play, but in reality if I don’t learn to lighten up now, I’m quite sure I’ll still be filling my retired days with more tasks than play.

“The way we spend our time defines who we are.”  —  Jonathan Estrin

Don’t get me wrong, I’m proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish beyond every day tasks because of my time-management, and I’m grateful I actually have that skill set, but when I’m so consumed with doing that just being falls by the way side, I know something has to give.

Add to it, I am slowing down, and have to learn to accept that it’s OK to take longer to climb the mountain. AND, honor the fact that I’ve earned more down time. It’s the down time I need to refuel for that climbing, and that will help inspire me for more playful pursuits.

“Don’t wait. The time will never be just right.”  —  Napoleon Hill

Of course this quote is in reference to pursuing your dreams, which ironically I have used to inspire me to keep pushing, but where I stand now, I feel it’s a reflection of the fact that I need more balance between pushing and playing. AND, no matter how hard that may be for me, I know that needs to be a “goal” for me in the New Year. Especially with all the past 2 years have dumped on the world.

SO, with that said

I hope you all have a very happy, healthy, and “time” balanced 2022. 

AND – REMEMBER“There’s only one thing more precious than our time and that’s who we spend it on.”  —  Leo Christopher

© Mariann E. Danko and Waking the Woman, 2021. All rights reserved.

Goddess Masthead © Pamela Danko-Stout and Waking the Woman, 2021. All rights reserved.

Clip Art Courtesy – ©123rf

Dawning of NEW YEAR – Copyright: <a href=’https://www.123rf.com/profile_nicholashan’>nicholashan</a&gt;

#WakingtheWoman

#MomMemoir

#TimeTheGreatEqualizer

#NoTimeLikeThePresent

#TimeManagement

#BalanceWork&Play

Act 3 vs Act 1

With my Son away at college for his Senior Year, and my free time dedicated to getting my chalk art business off the ground, my mind has been wondering to the great, big world of retirement a lot. I still have about 5 years till I can really step into that stage of my life, but I can tell you I am most certainly looking forward to the days when I only have to answer to me. AND, I control what I will do every day, not just in the evenings and weekends.

I will be at my present job 20 years the end of this year, and although I’m quite content in my position, and appreciate the perks that come with working for a small business, I’m beyond ready for my retirement years. In all honesty, if not for the chalk art that came out of COVID quarantine, I don’t think I could realistically be considering retirement before at least 67 because I know I need a back up kitty in addition to IRA’s and Social Security.

Originally I was hoping to monetize this blog, but as I also discovered during COVID quarantine, is not a simple task. Especially when my content is a bit too esoteric to pin down followers, let alone businesses that would want to advertise on the site. When people started to ask about merchandise with the chalk art on it, it was the furthest thing from my mind. I realized though it just might be a great replacement plan and started to focus all my energy on looking into how to create a merchandise business.

AND, here I am, a year and half later on the precipice of opening an online store. The closer I get to this reality, the more excited I get for the prospect of actually being able to seriously start to plan for retirement. Retirement before 67. I don’t need a fortune as back up, just enough to supplement, and if I can get a jump-start on that I can also jump start my retirement.

https://thechalkcharmer.shopping

Fingers crossed and lots of prayers it works. 

As I pondered this next phase of my life, it dawned on me that I’m heading into Act 3 of my story and my Son is on the doorstep of his Act 1.

Yes, he’s 21 years old, but everything that has transpired in his life up to this point is actually a Prequel, leading into his Act 1. After he graduates from college he’s officially an “adult” stepping into the great, big grown up world of working full-time, pursuing his dream job and living on his own at some point. And all that goes with branching into being your own person separate from your parents.

Two vastly different stages for sure.

For me it’s about the stage in my life when I can work less, and play more. About having more time for me to do the things that bring me great joy, like my chalk art. About more freedom in how I spend every day. About actually having time to spend with family and friends and not having to schedule time months in advance. About actually finishing unfinished projects. AND, maybe even changing things up in my house, even if it’s just a new coat of paint.

But for my Son, it will be about working more, and playing less. About learning how to structure his day to allow time for play. About taking on the responsibilities of having a place of his own. About learning to be fiscally sound because there are now bills to pay. About balancing work, home and play.

Sure he’s been working on some of this, sort of, all through college, but he’s also had a lot of luxuries, like a meal plan. That certainly won’t exist any more, and learning how to not spend your paycheck on carry out and actually buying food and cooking can be a real challenge when you’re first starting out on your own. 

The more I pondered all of this, the more I realized although my Son and I are at two very different stages in our lives, they are also very similar. We are both stepping into the beginning of the next phase of our lives. Extremely exciting and scary at the same time. So much unknown, but we will have each other as support as we venture forth.

I’ve seen a lot of growth in my Son this school year, I think living in an apartment and having a girlfriend has helped with this. So although I still worry about how he’ll do on his own, if he comes to me for advice now, I know he will still after he graduates and eventually lives on his own. This alone gives me a little peace of mind.

As for me, starting a small online business is something I never would have considered, but my Son encouraged me to do so. And, because he has a better grasp of social media he has become a bit of an advisor when it comes to reaching a broader audience than my Facebook world.

SO, before we take the leap into our next act, we will continue to bounce things off each other. Just knowing we have each other’s back is a means to making sure we each succeed. AND, realizing just how similar our paths truly are, makes it even more special.

A Mother and Son stepping into the great unknown together.

Me Act 3 and He Act 1, both a new beginning with amazing possibilities.

© Mariann E. Danko and Waking the Woman, 2021. All rights reserved.

Goddess Masthead © Pamela Danko-Stout and Waking the Woman, 2021. All rights reserved.

Three Act Structure – courtesy of https://prewrite.com/blog/2020/07/29/a-beginners-guide-to-three-act-structure/

Daily Routine – ©123rf – artinspiring

Clip Art – ©123rf

#WakingtheWoman

#MomMemoir

#Act3vsAct1

#Act3Retirement

#Act1PostCollege

#NewBeginings

Learning to Step Back

So I thought I’d be writing about dealing with an empty nest again after having my Son home from college for almost a year and a half, March of 2020 to August of 2021, BUT, although I had a very emotional day the day after I took him back, I’m doing better than I thought.

Could be because this year, his Senior year, he’s actually living in suite-style housing, not a standard dorm. AND, once we moved him in, we discovered things that worked in the dorms won’t work in the “apartment” which meant Mom had to do a little shopping and got to go back the following weekend to get him completely set up.

SO, I was able to ease my empty nest heartache with another campus visit.

The Empty Nest – original chalk art created by me – AKA the CHALK Charmer

PLUS, as can be expected when living in an “apartment” some drama is to be had. Unfortunately for my Son, it turned into major drama, which means he’s been communicating with me more, AND, even came home over Labor Day weekend.

SO, I’ve actually seen him 4 weekends since he’s gone because he had to come home once again to pick up a new desk chair for his room.

All this helps fill my empty nest void, but the “apartment drama” my Son has endured is upsetting to me not just because he’s my child and I hate to see him upset. BUT also because it’s his Senior year. This year matters the most on many levels, the most important being acing the schoolwork so he can secure a good job when he graduates. I fear that all the nonsense he has been dealing with will impede his path to fulfill his dreams of being a professional game designer.

Needless to say I have given a lot of council to him and have noted I will step in if the issue doesn’t get resolved soon, and I’m trying hard to respect his desire to “handle” it. As a Mom who has had to step in over the years this isn’t that easy. Not that I’m a “Beverly Goldberg” smothering type of Mom, but when my Son was younger I had to be his advocate on many occasions to see that he didn’t get “screwed” or come to his defense when it was most certainly needed. 

This situation though is a bit different because my Son is somewhat at fault because he trusted someone he thought was a friend and neglected to ask any questions. SO, despite my desire to want to pick up the phone or just show up on campus, I am trying hard to sit tight in hopes that my Son can “handle” this and resolve the mess that was created by the lack of communication and a sincere trust that he was being told the truth.

As most of us have had to deal with at some point in our lives, these young college students are dealing with a “guest” who has over stayed their welcome and won’t leave. What was meant to be a couple days as a favor to someone they thought was a friend has turned into weeks with a jerk of guy who has no respect for anyone’s personal space.

What makes the matter worse, the “guest” graduated last year and is dating one of the roommates.

The situation amplified, because as time went by, more and more of the truth came out. The biggest discovery was the need for a temporary place to crash till the “guest” got housing was really all a rouse to shack up with his girlfriend. The guy’s family actually lives near by, and even if he got the job at the school he was going on and on and on about getting, he still would not have gotten housing supplied because he lived near by.

Add to it, they also found out he was told this well before he even hustled his way into the apartment. SO, he’d been lying from the start and manipulated my Son and the other roommate. This just infuriates me because had my Son mentioned the guy was dating one of the roommates I would have advised against it. BUT I was not consulted. I was just told he’d be there for a few nights so it would be OK

Trust is a good thing, but sometimes one must be weary of those we think are a friend, but may not know that well, especially after not being on campus for over a year.

To say my Son and the other roommate were up in arms about this is an understatement, but it’s a not a simple fix because of how long it’s gone on. My Son still insists he will resolve it and I need to stand down. Which I am, no matter how much I just wanted to go to the campus and haul that guys butt out of the apartment. (He’s a big guy though so I would need back up.)

Learning to step back and let my Son “handle” this has been extremely hard because of the gravity of the situation and the impact it could have on his future. BUT, I also know now that he is 21, and will one day in the not so distant future be out in the great big world on his own, he needs to be able to handle any situation that could be thrown at him or that he may unwittingly get himself in.

SO, despite my desire to step in and put an end to this mess, I know the only way my Son will really grow up and mature is to stand on his own two feet and accept the consequences of his actions. Which I’ve hoped and prayed won’t impact his education or health because of the stress the situation has put on him

I admire his determination to resolve this, and not get help from Mom, but I most certainly worry. Which as a Mom just comes naturally.

Stepping back to let your child fly on their own, is not for the faint of heart. I have been slowly loosening the tether since my Son was in high school, but to know I need to really let go some day soon is not something I’m sure I’m ready for, no matter how much I know I must. Something tells me my empty nest syndrome will be nothing compared to the day my Son actually moves out to officially live on his own and start the next phase of his grown-up adventure.

What I do know though, is if my Son comes to me for advice, that means I must have done something right. He trusts my judgement and respects me as not just his Mom, but as an adult who has experienced more in life than he has, and acknowledges I might just know more about some things. Which ultimately means he has matured.

And it’s only with maturity that I will feel better when he does officially leave the nest. 

I questioned a lot when my Son was adamant about handling this situation himself, especially because of how upset, and even angry he was getting the longer it went on. It’s not easy to think clearly when your emotions get in the way, and this concerned me, but my Son was playing the waiting game, just waiting for the right moment to approach the guy.

Fortunately the waiting game paid off. My Son had mentioned the school enacted a New Guest Policy due to the continuing pandemic and he thought that may be the perfect way to get their freeloading guest out.

Turns out he was right. He mentioned this to the roommate who is dating the “guest,” and she in turn mentioned it to him. And by later in the day he was gone, a win-win for all of them. 

The school policy became the bad guy and saved them from dealing with any resentful behavior on the part of the “guest” who wouldn’t leave.

Seeing how he handled the “guest” issue is evident of the fact that my Son is maturing. By thinking things through before acting, and taking the time to formulate a plan and not just react, he became the adult in the room, which I am very grateful for. When he starts to apply this thought process to all areas of his life, like how he budgets his time and money, I’ll know he’s made the leap into actually being an “adult” and won’t worry so much.

Until then, I will do my best to step back and not step in or give advice unless asked. After all, the only way he’ll truly grow up is by handling his own stuff as we all had to do at some point in our lives.

© Mariann E. Danko and Waking the Woman, 2021. All rights reserved.

Goddess Masthead © Pamela Danko-Stout and Waking the Woman, 2021. All rights reserved.

#WakingtheWoman

#MomMemoir

#SteppingBack

#ParentingaCollegeStudent

#EmptyNest

Empty Nest Art – the CHALK charmer © 2021

All Clip Art Courtesy of 123rf.com

Drama, Trust & Stand on Own -– moniqcca

Advice – denyshutter

Adult Child – topvectors

A Respite From Something

Part of emerging from the COVID Cocoon was actually being able to take a REAL VACATION.

VACATION –

a period of suspension of work, study, or other activity, usually used for rest, recreation, or travel; recess or holiday:

a respite or a time of respite from something

Funny that the definition of vacation doesn’t seem to truly capture just how wonderful that “respite from something” really is. I have always looked forward to my week at the beach, but not being able to go in 2020 made this trip even more special. I was almost giddy in the days leading up to it. 

The thought of standing in the surf with the warm, glorious sun on my back was what helped me make it through the days leading up to the trip. Even the endless road trip down to Delaware didn’t bother me because I knew I had an entire week to do absolutely nothing. Something I don’t do well unless I’m on vacation

I can be a bit Type A with lists on top of lists, so not being home is the key thing for me to actually take a break. 

When I’m home all I see is what needs to be done. AND, now I have the added push to get my chalk art business off the ground, which is a very positive thing, but at the same time can be exhausting. 

NOW, the actual creating part is a way for me to recharge on the weekends. Kind of like a mini-vacation “coloring on my driveway.”

BUT, the technical part of starting a business, making sure all things are done correctly and researching online print-on-demand sources, has been a bit overwhelming. Which is what I needed a break from.

Taking time to physically get away enabled me to shutdown, reboot and fully recharge. 

There’s something about the sea air, sand and surf that completely soothes my soul and makes everything that’s cluttering my mind disappear. A complete de-cluttering of my mind was long over due. Thus allowing my creative and playful side more room to breathe and experiment.

Part of that experiment was an extension of the chalk mandalas I have been creating on my driveway. While researching ideas for a beach themed mandala awhile back, I discovered there are many people who create mandalas in the sand. Some when it’s wet with rakes, and others drawing in the sand and adding natural objects to the design.

When I saw this I knew I wanted to experiment myself. This could take my mandalas to a new level.

The first sand mandala I did, I kept it simple. But after that all bets were off.

Building a sand castle out of objects found on morning walks is a tradition my sister, her husband, my son and I have had for years. This year though, in addition to that castle, we tried a castle/mandala, which I have to say turned out pretty cool. And even held up the entire week we were there.

SAND CASTLE MADE FROM FOUND OBJECTS
Castle Building Team: my brother-in-law, sister, son and I

We all had a great time experimenting with this new type of art. Both my sister and her husband are also artists, so finding a new outlet for their creative expression is always appreciated.

CASTLE/MANDALA CREATION

The day we built our standard sand castle, I played around with a loose sand mandala using stray objects not used in the castle. This one definitely took on the appearance of some type of Native American or Wiccan worship thing, so I felt the need to explain myself to a couple sitting close by. Once explained they were very intrigued, which sparked a lengthy conversation, which is always a nice thing.

In addition to sand art, I had grandiose ideas about getting a lot of reading done, which did not happen, but finding a new form of creative expression certainly outweighed the lack of reading I have all winter to get caught up on my reading.

This “respite from something” also gave me a week with my son, whom I hadn’t seen much of since May because he was working full time nights for the Summer. I only got to see him on a Monday and Friday evening, and before he left for work on a Saturday and Sunday. And, considering he would be heading back to campus for his Senior year the middle of August, I knew I needed the time to help me with the withdrawal I would be facing when he left.

Token photo of my son and I on the day we were heading home. He hates having his picture taken.

And trust me it was hard the day after I took him back, but that’s a subject for another post.

My Son isn’t quite the “play in the surf and sand” kid like he was when he was little, but he did hang out with us on the beach. And to see him reading a book instead of staring at his phone or computer was a gift in itself. One night he and I went out for a real drink to toast his 21st and do one his favorite things, play games in the arcade. I’m not a big arcade person, especially now during the pandemic, but he had fun which is all that mattered.

My son just chilling.

In reality, any time I get to spend with my Son is precocious, especially the older he gets. AND, the closer he gets to graduating from college. I know I’m not ready for him to actually venture off into the great, big world on his own, so until I’m forced to face it, I won’t. I’ll do my best to suspend time.

As I ponder the adventures of our vacation, the bottom line is, just being able to hang out and “play” in the sand and surf felt like a luxury after quarantine and all the other restrictions surrounding the pandemic. To actually feel like it was pre-pandemic times was a beautiful thing. Of course I know we most definitely aren’t there yet. And Lord knows when and if we will ever get back there, BUT this feeling of “freedom” became another glorious part of this “respite.”

Granted, once back, the reality of the world we are now living in came front and center, but this “respite from something” was just what I needed to be able to deal with all that we have to continue to contend with for an unspecified amount of time. Plus, just dealing with the day-to-day that is life.

SO, I hope that you all can find some sort of “respite from something” too.

Even if just brief, because I know we can all use it after all that has transpired in the world since early 2020. Having an opportunity to escape the real world is most certainly what any “respite from something” is all about especially in this day and age.

Our creations still stand

© Mariann E. Danko and Waking the Woman, 2021. All rights reserved.

Goddess Masthead © Pamela Danko-Stout and Waking the Woman, 2021. All rights reserved.

Photos from my personal collection

#WakingtheWoman

#MomMemoir

#VACATION

#respitefromsomething

#COVIDcoccoon

#beachmandala

#sandcastle

The Dechert Sisters Legacy – A Hometown Visit

In conjunction with the posts I wrote about my Mother, Helen Grace Dechert Danko, and her amazing Sisters; Kassie, Mabel, Betty and Mickey, some of my Cousins and I decided to venture to the Dechert Sisters hometown, Myerstown, PA and explore a few of the landmarks that played a big part in their lives, and ours.

https://www.myerstownpa.org/index.php

This trip was very much a walk down memory lane for us because Mickey and Kassie both remained in Myerstown, and there were many extended family gatherings either at one of their homes or the local American Legion were both Mickey and Kassie’s husbands were members and Mickey and Kassie helped out. 

PLUS, many of us Cousins spent extended time at Mickey’s home, so it was like a second home for us.

Those of us on this excursion were 2 of Helen’s Daughters, Myself and my Sister Pam; one of Mickey’s Daughters, Kathy; Mabel’s Daughter Sallie; and Betty’s Daughter Linda and her Daughter Lori, Betty’s Granddaughter.

The designated meeting spot was the Myerstown Playground were we all had many great adventures, particularly in the Summer hanging out at the pool, going to pool parties in the evening or Playground activities like arts and crafts during the day. This landmark was very much for us, the Cousins, because this was our hangout when we would be visiting Mickey’s house. For Kathy the playground held even more memories because Myerstown is also her hometown.

From the Playground we ventured to Mickey’s home, which was just a few blocks away. Driving down Maple Street was like a flashback to all the times we visited Mickey’s home. I could see the layout of the interior of the home and the smells of Mickey’s phenomenal cooking and baking wafting through the rooms. My heart was overflowing with excitement and love just driving by. Mickey welcomed everyone with a great big hug and kiss, and you instantly felt like you were at home, even though it wasn’t your home. 

Our next stop was one of legends. I had heard many a story from my older siblings about this Dechert Sister landmark, but it was no longer in use by the time I was old enough to appreciate it. So I was excited to see this spot who’s legendary stories danced through my head as a kid.

This spot of legend was the location of Kassie and her husband Krilly’s store with a small apartment above it. In addition to the stories my older Sisters Carolann and Georgene had told; Kathy, Sallie, Linda and Pam all had wonderful stories to tell of their time at Kassie and Krilly’s store, and the family picnics in the back yard.

They talked about being able to fill a bag with penny candy and pick a soda from the cooler, and how neat it was to be able to have that much freedom as a kid. Kassie and Krilly had no children of their own, so all their Nieces and Nephews filled that void, and to say they spoiled us all is an understatement.

En route to our next destination, we passed the house Mabel and her husband Lloyd lived with their 2 children David and Sallie. They were only in this house for a few years before moving to the Philadelphia area when Sallie was three years old, but as we passed Sallie noted little details about the house that she remembered, to include a smaller cottage style house in the backyard.

Which is still there, but I was unable to get a picture of because there was a Mennonite Woman outside hanging laundry and I didn’t think she would have appreciated that. We suspected she may be the one living in the smaller house out back, but that was just a guess.

One little tidbit to add here is the fact that this house was across the street from Smith Candies, a landmark in Myerstown that some how escaped me growing up. BUT, that’s probably because all the Aunts always had quite the stash of candy, which I now know why.

Before my Sister Pam and I headed home, we stopped by the retail store and it was a candy lover’s paradise. Every candy you could conceive of from the old days to today was available for your sweet tooth craving. You could purchase in bulk or just a small sampling. My Sister and I settled for a small sampling. Can’t do candy in bulk any more.

Next up on the agenda was the house the Dechert Sisters grew up in. I was excited to scout this one out because I do recall my Mother commenting when we would pass it while we were in town visiting, but I was a kid and it had no significance to me then. Now it most certainly did.

None of us that were on the trip had ever been in this house. I believe my 2 oldest Sisters Carolann and Georgene may be the only offspring that may have actually been in the house when our parents and grandparents actually still lived there. Even they were very young, but their memories painted a wonderful picture of what the inside was like.

“The home they lived in was a classic old German style red brick house that only had heat in the basement. It would seep up through the grates in the floor to the main floor of the house, leaving the second floor quite cold, especially in the winter. It would take multiple quilts just to keep warm.”

“One of my older Sisters has fond memories of coming downstairs from the cold bedroom into the warm farmhouse style kitchen with the smell of coffee and fresh baked goods in the oven.”

Below is the link to the full post about the Dechert Sisters Parents, which has more details about the Dechert Sisters family roots.

Based on it’s appearances now though, it’s present owners have not quite given it the love Sallie and David Dechert did. We suspect it may now be apartments, which can explain that.

We knew this was the right house though, because it was across the street from the Seminary which used to be the State Police Barracks which all the Sisters would mention when telling stories about the trauma they experienced when having to take the chamber bucket from the house to the outhouse while the Troopers were out doing their morning drills. They were all mortified by this act, and seeing how close the house is, it’s completely understandable.

Note, the house they grew up in did not have a bathroom, thus the chamber bucket.

State Police Barracks – back in the day

Another spot we could not miss was the Bahney House, a landmark in town that is still an active business. Back in the Sisters days it was a bar and restaurant that their Father frequented, and where Mickey honed her amazing cooking skills. The building has certainly gone through renovations, to include adding solar panels on the roof.

Bahney House – back in the day

Plus the building also houses a hair salon and laundry mat, but at it’s core, is still the bar and restaurant. It was still early in the day when we were there, so we didn’t venture inside, but seeing the outside and the care the owners have taken in the upkeep of the building was more than enough for us.

Another destination that was a must to stop by was the infamous American Legion where many major events were held. From birthday parties to wedding receptions, this was the go to place. From an early age I can remember hanging out in the Bingo Hall when one of the Uncles was calling the numbers, or celebrating with family at private parties. It’s too bad poor management closed the place down years ago; otherwise we most certainly would have gone in just to see if the inside had changed.

This was the side entrance to the Bingo Hall

We had one more stop before heading outside of town to our final destination, and that place of many sweet memories was Kassie and Krilly’s home in the Lynncrest development.

Kassie and Krilly loved to entertain, and once they got this house they could really put on a spread. Hosting a huge Summer cookout for the entire family and their annual Easter gathering at which they held an Easter Egg Hunt for the kids and had baskets made up for each Niece and Nephew. 

Kassie and Krilly’s home when they first moved in

Although there have been some changes made to the house, and the neighborhood is more developed than back in the “Old Days” it didn’t take away from the memories that came flooding through my mind when we pulled up in front of the house. 

From Myerstown we headed into Lebanon, a short 15-minute drive, to a little restaurant called The Gin Mill. This is the place all the Sisters would meet after they were all grown and married. This became their watering hole for their annual “Sister Beer.” As their children aged, many of them would join them on this excursion, to include myself at least once.

BUT, nothing beats the days when it was just the Sisters. As part of our journey this day I wanted to recreate the one photo we have of the Sisters sitting at the bar having their beverage. And although the interior of the building has been updated, it didn’t take away from the history we wanted so much to recreate.

The Dechert Sisters at The Gin Mill enjoying their “Sister Beer” –
Betty, Mabel, Mickey, Helen and Kassie
The Next Generation Recreation –
Kathy (Mickey’s Daughter), Sallie (Mabel’s Daughter), Mariann and Pam (Helen’s Daughters), Linda (Betty’s Daughter) and Lori (Betty’s Granddaughter)

The 6 of us spent close to 3 hours lingering over our lunch reminiscing and getting caught up. I can only imagine this was what it was like when the Sisters gathered at this very spot. We had the most wonderful time and hope to make just getting together a more regular thing, just like our Mom’s did. 

We’d love to one day track down the Merkey homestead which was the Dechert Sister’s Mother’s Farm. The actual barn was supposed to be moved to the PA German Heritage Center at Kutztown University, but we don’t know if or when this was done yet.

http://www2.readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=228187

http://www2.readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=219580

We had hoped to find the Merkey home in Myerstown where their Grandfather had a bike shop, but based on the address we had the home is long gone and is a Senior Home now. 

At least the rest of the town was still like walking back in time. There’s something to be said for leaving things untouched for posterity.

Speaking of posterity, if you have not read all the posts on the Dechert Sisters, below is a link for my wrap up post that has links to their individual stories.

History transcribed for all the generations.

© Mariann E. Danko and Waking the Woman, 2021. All rights reserved.

Goddess Masthead © Pamela Danko-Stout and Waking the Woman, 2021. All rights reserved.

Photos from my personal collection

#WakingtheWoman

#MomMemoir

#TheDecehertSistersLegacy

#EndofanEra

#SallieandDavidDechert

#Kathryn”Kassie”AmandaDechertKrill

#MabelMaeDechertSwanger 

#HelenGraceDechertDanko

#Elizabeth“Betty”MaryDechertKoblentzKutz 

#Mildred“Mickey”AliceDechertBortz 

#Family

The Dechert Sisters Legacy – SUMMARY

Mickey, Betty, Helen, Mabel, Kassie

Individually each one these women were amazing in their own right.

Kathryn Amanda Dechert Krill
August 24, 1911 – January 10, 1998
A Rosie the Riveter and Small Business Owner

Mabel Mae Dechert Swanger 
October 24, 1912 – March 3, 2013
Pursued a Career as a Hairdresser in her 40’s

Helen Grace Dechert Danko
September 13, 1920 – April 10, 2015
Registered Nurse, ran the health services for students at DeSales University

Elizabeth “Betty” Mary Dechert Koblentz Kutz 
November 12, 1926 – July 11, 2011
Beauty Shop Owner

Mildred “Mickey” Alice Dechert Bortz 
March 23, 1928 – July 10, 2020
Home Health Care Provider, long before it was ever classified as a real occupation

As a group though, they were a force to be reckoned with. 

Mickey, Betty, Helen, Mabel, Kassie

All strong women forging their own paths at a time when that was not the protocol for women, they were certainly pioneers. BUT they didn’t see it that way. They never saw themselves as anything other than ordinary.

BUT ordinary they were not.

They were feminists before feminists were a thing, but they never came off as anything other than caring, loving women, who wanted nothing more than the best for every person they ever met, especially their family.

Family always came first, no matter what. 

Mickey, Kassie, Helen, Mabel, Betty

They loved completely, lived fully, and persevered through some of the toughest situations: divorce, loss of a spouse, loss of a child, health challenges, and financial difficulties. 

And lived through some of histories greatest events: The Great Depression, World War I and World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War, President Kennedy’s Assassination, Watergate Scandal, Persian Gulf War, and the Terrorists Attacks on 911. 

Plus, endured ridicule for being poor, their heritage, their “duchy accent”, and their religion/faith. 

YET, they never flinched.

Kassie, Helen, Betty – front row; Mabel, Ralph (step-brother), Mickey – back row

Did they cry? Most definitely. No matter how resilient they were, they were human, with huge hearts that felt everything. 

Did they get angry? Sure, why wouldn’t they? Once again, they were human, and felt everything very deeply.

Did they retaliate? ABSOLUTELY NOT, it wasn’t in their nature. They wouldn’t stoop to the attackers level. That was not who they were.

They had each other’s back and were always there to support one another. They were all cut from the same cloth and they understood each other better than anyone else.

Regardless of what they may have been confronting, others always came first. A rarity no matter what era. Their empathy for their fellow man was greater than any struggle they may have been enduring.

Mickey, Betty Helen, Mabel, Kassie

Kassie, Mabel, Helen, Betty and Mickey, lived their lives by following the Golden Rule – “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

They were the “Personification of Love and Kindness.”

Their every action was motivated by their deep, unadulterated love of family and their fellow man. At their core they knew nothing more.

The Dechert Sisters legacy of love left an indelible mark on the hearts of all who knew them. They may have achieved great things, but who they were at their core, what made their souls shine, is how they are remembered. 

“You have no idea what your legacy will be because your legacy is every life you touch.”Maya Angelou

Kassie & Mabel
Helen
Mickey & Betty

Their children and grandchildren cherish every memory they have and honor the beauty of their souls by trying to carry on their legacy.

Living up to these women’s example is a tough feat, but the amount of love that flows through this extended family is a true extension of the love these five beautiful women bestowed upon every one of them.

Family continues to be the priority for each of their children and grandchildren, and it’s obvious the circle of love will continue for generations to come.

Especially by keeping their astonishing stories alive.

Kassie with her nieces & nephews
Mabel with her children David & Sallie
Mabel’s grandchildren: Amanda, Kim, Stacie, Mike & Aria
Mabel’s great grandchildren: Huck, Evan, Jessica and great nephew Roy
Mabel’s granddaughter Stacie with her husband Micah and their son Django
Mabel’s granddaughter Kim and her daughter Mia
Helen with her children Carolann, Georgene, Pam, Fran, Mariann and Bill, grandchildren Dustin, Ethan, Dylan, Billy and Roy, and great grandchild Ian
Betty with her daughter Linda, granddaughters Lori and Jenn, and great grandchild Ashley
Mickey with children Judy, Kathy, Mike and Jim, her husband Forrest and sister Kassie
Mickey with her son’s Jim and Mike and their family’s, Joanne Jim’s wife, Valerie Mike’s wife and Mike’s children Kellan and Alex, and Jim’s daughter Jaimie
Mickey with her granddaughter Jenna and great granddaughter Merritt
The Dechert Sisters with their parents David & Sallie – where the Legacy of Love started

© Mariann E. Danko and Waking the Woman, 2021. All rights reserved.

Goddess Masthead © Pamela Danko-Stout and Waking the Woman, 2021. All rights reserved.

#WakingtheWoman
#MomMemoir
#DechertSisters
#KathrynAmandaDechertKrill
#MabelMaeDechertSwanger
#HelenGraceDechertDanko
#BettyDechertKoplentzKutz
#MickeyDechertBortz
#FamilyLegacy
#EndOfEra

The Dechert Sisters Legacy – Mildred “Mickey” Alice Dechert Bortz

March 23, 1928 – July 10, 2020

Mildred, better known as “Mickey” was the 5th and youngest daughter of Sallie and David Dechert, but in no way was she ever really the “baby” of the family other than in age.

By the time she was an adult, Mickey’s home became the central meeting point for all the sisters and their families.

AND, she sort of became the keeper of all that was going on within the extended family. She was like the central switchboard operator, with all lines of communication going through her.

I’m thinking some of this was because Mickey, by choice, stayed in Myerstown, while all the other sisters ventured out beyond their little hometown, SO, by default, she became the center of the family without even realizing it.

BUT, there were also the unique relationships Mickey forged with each one of her sisters. 

Mickey, Betty, Helen, Mabel and Kassie

All the sisters were very tight and absolutely loved spending time together, but because there was such a large gap in age between Mickey and her older sisters Kassie and Mabel, the dynamics between them was different than with she and Betty, who was just two years older.

Kassie and Mabel were teenagers by the time Mickey and Betty were born and actually helped to raise the youngest Dechert girls, but in no way did they ever resent this though. As a matter, by the time Mickey and Betty were school age, both Kassie and Mabel were married, and along with their husbands, would often take the girls places, and even buy them little gifts. 

SO, instead of being “older” sisters who dominated their younger siblings, they were Mickey and Betty’s equal, which you don’t often find between younger and older siblings with a large age gap. And this bond of equality just tightened, as they got older. 

Mickey, Betty, Helen, Mabel and Kassie at Mickey’s daughter Kathy’s wedding 1991

Now Helen was only 6 when Mickey was born, which is not as much of a gap, but enough of one that allowed Helen to also step in to help with her younger sisters whenever she was called upon. But in no way did that impact the dynamics between Helen and her younger siblings. She too felt like their equal, not an older sibling who could boss them around.

As a matter of fact, Mickey and Helen and their families became extremely close over the years, in part because of the closeness in age between their children, but even more so because they had very similar personalities.

Mickey and Helen in their senior years

Plus they both inherited their Mother Sallie’s baking gene carrying on the traditional Pennsylvania German treats they grew up on.

Now Mickey and Betty, being the youngest, were tight as tight could be. As a matter of fact, it was Betty who had a hand in Mickey meeting her husband Forrest.

Mickey and Betty as kids

As the story goes, Mickey had been dating a young man who turned out to be not the best match for her, so they split up. After this adventure Mickey, who would have been in her early 20’s, was not in any hurry to start dating again. Betty however disagreed, and being the charmer that she was, talked Mickey into joining her and her husband Bob to a dance at a local social club. 

Forrest, who was chatting with a friend when the threesome arrived, spotted Mickey right away. When his friend commented about the red head who just arrived, Forrest commented, not the red head, the blonde.

For Forrest It was love at first sight, and he wasn’t going let that blonde leave without finding out who she was. 

Finding a table near Mickey, Betty and Bob, Forrest was able to keep tabs on Mickey and when the time was right asked her to dance. Mickey was very reluctant at first, but eventually gave in, and upon doing so Forrest told her every dance that night was his.

As the evening was drawing to a close, Forrest overheard Mickey, Betty and Bob discussing going to a diner for breakfast. Not one to back down, Forrest showed up at the diner, and before you knew it he was sitting with the three of them.

And that pretty much sealed the relationship.

Forrest, who lived outside of Myerstown, would come into town to visit Mickey as often as possible. The two started dating seriously and by early 1951 the two were married, and their first child, Jimmy (Jim), was born in October.

After WW2, Forrest had taken advantage of the college incentive available and headed to Kutztown University where he got a degree in art education. When he met Mickey he was teaching at a high school in Reading, but when things got serious between them he took a job as a serviceman for Metropolitan Edison Electric Co.

At one point, he even had an offer to work on TV sets in New York City, but Mickey had no interest in leaving Myerstown, so without giving it a second thought, Forrest found work that was more suitable to support a wife and family.

Having an outgoing personality paid off in the promotion department for Forrest, who by 1956 was a “right of way” agent for MetEd, which helped support, their growing family.

In 1957, their second child Kathy Rose was born, with Judy Lynn soon after in 1960, and their youngest, Mike, in 1965.

Mickey and Jimmy
Mickey and Jim
Mickey, Kathy and Judy
Mickey and Mike

Mickey loved being a mother. She was a natural and it was her greatest joy, which is why the loss of a child, Johnny, in 1958, was beyond devastating for her. He had only lived for one day, which about destroyed Mickey.

Thank goodness she had her sisters to support her through this crushing loss. Especially Kassie, who stepped in to help with Kathy. In so doing it allowed Mickey the time she needed to heal and figure out how to move forward.

As it turns out, Mickey’s dedication and devotion to her children and family would be her saving grace. Her world revolved around them and it showed in the tender loving care she put into everything, from her cooking, baking, housekeeping and selfless support of everyone in her life, not just her family.

Whenever anyone needed help Mickey was there. Early on she and Forrest took in her parents David and Sallie when David become ill, and Sallie lived with Mickey and her family until she passed in 1972. Sallie was senile late in her life, so there were some interesting days to say the least, but through it all Mickey was always upbeat and had a big smile on her face.

The bond between Sallie and Mickey was extremely tight, and this was evident in the story of Sallie’s passing.

At the end of her life Sallie was in a coma at the hospital. With nothing more they could do, the doctors told Mickey it was best to bring her home, and just make her comfortable till her time came. Upon bringing Sallie into the house, she opened her eyes, grabbed Mickey’s arm and said “Mickey it’s so nice to be home.”

Sallie passed a few days later and although the loss was very painful for Mickey, she knew by Sallie’s last words she had done right by her Mother.

It wasn’t just her parents that lived with Mickey and her family. Her sister Betty stayed with them after her divorce from Bob until she could reestablish herself. And her sister Kassie and her husband Krilly stayed with them while they built their home.

Kassie, Sallie holding Judy, Betty, Mickey, Jimmy and Kathy

For Mickey and Forrest, it was always the more the merrier. Forrest was the Master of Ceremonies and Mickey the gracious host.

Family was the most important thing to Mickey, and having the family together, whether it be just her immediate family or the extended family, brought her pure happiness.

Mickey, Judy, Kassie, Forrest – Standing: Kathy Mike and Jim

Along with these gatherings came massive amounts of food, all of which Mickey was thrilled to prepare. She was in her element in the kitchen. She loved to cook and bake, and boy was she good at it. Every dish was made from scratch, and everything was fantastic. 

Mickey had her specialties, and to this day no one has ever matched them.

In the baking department it was treats like her lemon sponge/meringue pie, shoo fly pie (her pie crust was phenomenal), chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting, snowball cookies, snicker doodles, and sand tarts.

AND, can’t forget her spectacular baked beans (from scratch) with lots of bacon, homemade Mac and Cheese, fried chicken, spaghetti sauce and juicy roast beef.

As a matter of fact, her daughter Kathy is in the process of putting together a cookbook for the family, so all her recipes can be passed down from generation to generation. Her biggest problem though is translating “a pinch of this,” or “some of that to taste.”

Some of Mickey’s secrets were inherited from her Mother Sallie, but a few of them she learned while working at the Bahney House, a local restaurant. Although she was a waitress, the chef and Mickey became good friends and she often helped him in the kitchen. This just helped to fuel her love of cooking.

The Bahney House

Come the holidays, Mickey made a feast fit for King, with quantities large enough to feed an army. For example, her Thanksgiving meal would include: turkey and gravy, candied sweet potatoes, PA Dutch style potato filling, dried & yellow corn, broccoli with brown butter, pepper cabbage, cranberry sauce, warm rolls, fruit salad, and for dessert either pumpkin, mincemeat or apple pie.

AND, don’t think you’d get away from the table without having seconds. Mickey would be sure to stop you and say “You haven’t had a nauthin.” Even though you were stuffed and could barely move.

When she and Forrest won a kitchen makeover, she was beyond excited. This was sometime in the 60’s when Jimmy was in high school and Mike, the youngest child, was just a baby, so the timing was perfect. It allowed them to open up the kitchen from two rooms to one large room, which was ideal for all the family gatherings.

Mickey loved to entertain and have a good time. When she and Forrest were dating they often had Betty and Bob over for high balls. And early on she established New Years Eve as her holiday to have her sisters and their husbands over to celebrate and ring in the New Year.

Betty, Izzy, Mabel, Kassie, Mickey, Lloyd (back to camera)

She and Forrest also socialized outside their home as often as they could, even winning a jitterbug contest at some point.

They were also both very active with the American Legion and VFW, helping Kassie and her husband Krilly run bingo and other events. Even letting Kathy and one her friends help recall the numbers.

Before Helen lost her husband Bill, Mickey and Forest would often visit them in the Lehigh Valley and the four of them would go to the Steel Club, where Bill was a member.

Mickey and Helen’s families were always close; often visiting each other’s homes for holidays and summer picnics, but this loss brought them even closer.

Even before Bill’s passing, Mickey would often have Helen’s children visit and stay for a weekend or even a week by themselves. This gave Helen a little time to regroup, and the kids a change of scenery. With 6 children, this was very helpful for both Helen and her kids.

When Helen’s two oldest girls, Carolann and Georgene, were in their early teens, they recall fondly visits with Mickey when they would attend dances at the local park. This was when Mickey’s oldest daughter Kathy was only 2, so it was a real treat for Mickey to watch the girls primp before the dance, and she could hardly wait to hear stories when they got home.

Helen’s two youngest, Mariann and Bill, both cherish their memories of their summer visits to Mickey’s. Being close in age to Mickey’s two youngest, Judy and Mike, they had a buddy for the week, which they loved.

The week would start off with a visit to Hershey Park, followed by a week of swimming at the local pool and attending evening events at the community park. And you can’t forget those amazing half dollar pancakes for breakfast!

Hershey Park trip, sometime in the 70’s – Mickey and Helen on the bench, Judy and Mariann standing

Mickey treated Helen’s children like her own, and she was like a second Mom for them. And this didn’t change as the children got older and had children themselves. When Mickey would visit, she always came with a “sister gift” and a little treat for Helen’s grandkids too.

As a matter of fact, Mickey was like this with all her nieces and nephews. Whenever they visited, no matter what age, she made them feel right at home and welcomed them with a huge hug and a special treat.

Mickey was a “small town girl” who liked to keep things simple, and wasn’t big on change. Which is why she could even be stubborn (a PA German thing) about some things. Like not wanting to fly, or driving the new-fangled automatic cars. Believe it or not she preferred driving a three speed on the column with manual steering and brakes.

Some may consider this a negative trait, but not for Mickey, it was actually part of her charm. There was no false pretense with her. Mickey’s heart was pure and everything she said and did was a reflection of this.

She believed strongly that everyone should be treated equally and the only thing that would get her dander up was seeing someone being bullied or treated unfairly. This all goes back to how she and her family were treated at times because they were poor.

Mickey often recalled how people would pass them by on their way to church and never even considered to offer them a ride. This type of thing stuck with Mickey and she vowed to not be like that.

Mickey as a child

AND, she most certainly stuck by that creed. Mickey was one of the kindest women on the face of the earth. 

When a neighbor had surgery, she cooked and cleaned for them until they were back on their feet. At Christmas, she would always invite the milk delivery man in for cookies and coffee and he loved her cookies so much he asked her to bake a cake for he and his wife’s wedding anniversary. Of course Mickey obliged, asking nothing in return.

One of the most touching stories though is when Mickey’s sister Helen’s husband died in October of 1964. Mickey just couldn’t bear to see Helen have to face the holidays alone and went out of her way to prepare the most amazing Thanksgiving meal for Helen and her children.

For many years after that, Mickey continued to host Helen and her children for Thanksgiving. A tradition both families embraced whole-heartedly.

To say Mickey was a happy homemaker, OR, better yet, a “Domestic Goddess” is an understatement. She actually enjoyed doing housework, even ironing, and took great pride in the cleanliness of her home.

Mickey was up early every day, tending to her housework, and seeing that everyone had a hot breakfast, no matter what time they got up. Getting a healthy start to the day was a priority to her. 

Some how, some way, Mickey got it all done, and she still took a break to watch her Soap Opera during the week. This was her one guilty pleasure, and she most certainly earned it.

OR, if a neighbor stopped by, she always had a pot of coffee on and would pause to chat and get caught up.

There is one story of a time when Mickey got walking pneumonia, and was so exhausted she actually had to spend time just laying around. Her Mother Sallie, who was living with her, actually asked her why she was laying around so much.

It’s pretty evident that was not the norm and where Mickey got her intense work ethic came from. The apple hadn’t fallen far from the tree.

How she accomplished what she did when there were times she had an endless stream of children under foot, her own, friends of her children, or nieces or nephews, is a miracle.

BUT she did and with a bright big dazzling smile too.

Mickey always seemed to just roll with things, and never seemed to be flustered by things, but that’s not to say she didn’t worry about her loved ones. As a matter of fact, Jimmy, her oldest son, said her middle name was more like “Anxiety,” not Alice. Especially when he joined the Air Force and became a fighter pilot.

Worrying though is just part of being a Mom, as well as being a protector, which was a hat Mickey wore regularly with her children. Protecting them from the wrath of Forrest if they misbehaved.

Not to say Forrest was mean, he was tough, and didn’t believe anyone should get a free ride. If the kids had problems with homework he would review their work, and point out where the problem is, but they had to fix it. He wasn’t going to just step in and fix it.

And forget asking him how to spell a word or what it meant, he’d point you in the direction of the dictionary and leave it at that. This coming from a man who did cross word puzzles in pen.

Being parents was one of Mickey and Forrest’s greatest joys, only matched by becoming grandparents. Being grandparents opened the door for a whole new level of loving, and they cherished every minute they had with their grandchildren.

Their oldest son Jim had married his sweetheart Jo Ann in September of 1978, and their first child Jamie was born in September of 1982, with their second, Jenna, following in November of 1986.

Mickey with Jamie
Mickey with Jenna
Mickey with Jenna

Being the only grandchildren until 1997 when Mike’s son Kellan was born and his daughter Alex in 2000, gave Jamie and Jenna quite a few years to have Grandma Mickey all to themselves. One of the best parts of this time was when Mickey would come to Virginia to babysit the girls while Jim and JoAnn went on their “every five year” anniversary jaunts.

AND, just like when her children were young, would end up with a houseful of Jamie’s friends. The best part was when the friends would show up after school before Jamie even got home, and would make themselves right at home. Not sure what Mickey was thinking when a stream of teenage girls came knocking, would say “hi” and stroll right in.

Jenna and Mickey – Jenna’s graduation from James Madison Universtiy
Jaime, Mickey and Jenna

Although Mickey didn’t get to spend as much time with Mike’s children Kellan and Alex because Mike and his wife Valerie had settled in the Pacific Northwest, that just made their time together even more extra-special.

Alex and Kellan
Alex and Mickey
Sitting Valerie, Alex and Jaimie – Standing JoAnn, Mike, Kellan, Mickey and Jim

Mickey was also blessed with one great-grandchild. Her granddaughter Jenna and her husband Brian had a little girl named Merritt in December of 2017. For Mickey, who was 89 by the time Merritt was born, being able to hold her precious little great-granddaughter brought her a level of joy equal to that of holding her own children as infants.

And although Mickey passed before Merritt turned 3, Jenna has made sure to carry on her memory by telling Merritt stories, and most of all showing her videos. As a matter of fact, when they watch Jenna and Brian’s wedding video, Merritt always comments “That’s Grandma Bortz” when she sees Mickey.

Jenna, Merritt and Mickey at Mickey’s 90th birthday party

So even though Merritt will only have others memories of Mickey, with time they will become hers too, and she like every one who knew Mickey will feel immense love when one of those memories dances through her mind.

Jim and his family lived in Germany for many years while both he and his wife were in the Air Force, but once home and settled in Virginia and later North Carolina, they would host the entire family for Christmas, which quickly became the highlight of the year for the family.

Family visiting Jim and JoAnn in Virginia – seated: Mike, Forrest and Jenna – standing: Jim holding Jaime, JoAnn, Mickey and Judy

For Mickey and Forrest, who came from extremely humble backgrounds, and grew up with very little, it was overwhelming to see the level of generosity bestowed upon them by their children. Not to say they weren’t beyond grateful for every gift they received, it was just more than they had ever experienced.

There’s even a story of how Mickey burst into tears upon opening a gift of a chef-caliber stainless steel colander noting “it was the nicest colander she ever had.”

Mickey and Forrest had a very unique dynamic in their relationship. Forrest was very outgoing, had a quick wit, and never stepped away from the limelight. While Mickey would just quietly stand by his side, smiling and often shaking her head and rolling her eyes.

Forrest often came off as being flirtatious, but Mickey knew he was harmless and only had eyes for her, and it showed in their boundless love for each other. As a matter of fact, his flirty personality was just part of his charm.

As were some his comments like “Baldness does not detract from my physical charm, it merely exhibits the classic sculptor of my brow.”

Mickey and Forrest were married for 48 years before his passing in November of 1999, and every one of those years was wonderful regardless of any hardship because they had each other.

Mickey and Forrest at Kathy’s wedding 1991

In early 1999, Mickey and Forrest had sold their family home and moved to a retirement community in Lebanon. It was a difficult decision, but once they settled in they were extremely happy they did.

The townhouse had everything they needed, but the best part was a screened in porch that overlooked a baseball field. They could relax with a beer and watch the local teams play, and on the 4th of July had a front row seat for the fireworks.

Unfortunately Forrest became ill and passed in November, less than a year in their new home.

After Forrest passed, Mickey was by herself for the first time in her life. Concerned about how she would handle this, Jim, Kathy and Judy activated a plan to rotate weekend visits so they could be there for her.

Sometimes just to visit, other times to run errands with her. OR just go out to eat or take a drive. Mike being on the West coast couldn’t physically be there, but he would always call to check in on her.

Jamie, Jenna, Mickey, Kathy, Mark and Jim visiting Mickey at the townhouse

Much to their surprise Mickey adapted to her new independence quite well.

She had her regular housework schedule to keep her busy, AND as a long-time Penn State football fan (all her children were Penn State grads) during football season she had her weekly games to watch.

Along with those games came a ritual Mickey had developed over the years. Prior to each game she would carefully place her Joe Paterno bobblehead, a Beaver Stadium ashtray and Nittany Lion that played the fight song on the coffee table where they would stay through the entirety of the game.

But, what was better than the ritual was Mickey’s response to the game. If a Penn State player was tackled her comment would be “Look how ugly they are to those poor Penn State boys.” YET, when it was Penn State who was on the defense, she would yell, “Rip his head off.”

AND, if Penn State lost, it was because the other team cheated or there were dirty referees.

Mickey lived by herself till she was in her early 80’s, deciding at that point it would be best to move in with one of her children.

All the children were happy that Mickey had decided it was time to transition into living with family. They were all open to having her join them, but many of Mickey’s doctors were near Kathy, so she felt it would be best to move in with Kathy and her husband Mark.

Kathy and Mark were excited to have Mickey join them, but wanted to make sure everything was just right for her, and decided to make some renovations to their home so they could create a space for Mickey that felt like it was hers.

Mickey’s actual move though would be postponed due to emergency surgery for a bowel blockage and the subsequent recovery time needed to heal.

By the time Mickey was 84 she had her house on the market and by the following year, at the age of 85 she was finally able to move in with Kathy and Mark.

There were some adjustments once Mickey became part of the household, but with time Mickey and Kathy became the best of buddies, much like Mickey and her mother Sallie.

Kathy, Mark, Mickey and Forrest – 1996

Over the years though, Mickey began to show signs of Alzheimer’s. Kathy did everything she could to keep Mickey safe and well cared for, but it became more and more evident that moving her into an assisted living home was the best thing to do.

This decision was devastating for the children, but they wanted to keep Mickey safe and had no other options. In February of 2019, one month shy of her 91st birthday, Mickey moved into Saucon Manor. The home was extremely close to Kathy, which enabled her to visit Mickey almost every day.

Although this was another huge adjustment for everyone, the family settled into acceptance and a new routine.

BUT, when the COVID Pandemic hit in March of 2020 their new routines were shut off. No one could visit Mickey at the home, which was even more painful than having her in the home.

The family’s pain was amplified in July of 2020, when Mickey’s body could no longer fight off the complications brought on by Alzheimer’s and some underlying heart conditions and she passed peacefully in her sleep

Not being able to be with their Mother when she passed was the most painful thing any of the children and grandchildren had ever endured.

Mickey was the poster child for unconditional love, and it showed in everything she said, and did. AND, was reflected in the sparkle of her eyes and the kindest, sweetest smile beaming from ear to ear regardless of the circumstances.

Even the ravages of Alzheimer’s couldn’t remove the glimmer of love, and kindness that was in Mickey’s heart. Her memories may have been fading, but that love was stronger than any disease because it was the purest of any love.

“Intense love does not measure, it just gives.” – Mother Teresa

This completes the individual posts dedicated to each amazing Dechert Sister, but there will be one more post next month recapping what a special group of women these Dechert Sisters were. So check back for that wrap up post.

© Mariann E. Danko and Waking the Woman, 2021. All rights reserved.

Goddess Masthead © Pamela Danko-Stout and Waking the Woman, 2021. All rights reserved.

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The Dechert Sisters Legacy – Elizabeth “Betty” Mary Dechert Koblentz Kutz

November 12, 1926 – July 11, 2011

Betty Dechert was the 4th child born to Sallie and David Dechert and very much the baby of the family at least until her sister Mickey was born in 1928.

Her sister Helen was 6 when she was born, and Mabel and Kassie were 14 and 15 respectively. One would think the age gap would have impacted the relationship between all the sisters, but not with the Dechert Girls, they adored each other, and spending time together meant the world to them throughout their lives.

AND, they always had each other’s back.

Being teenagers, Mabel and Kassie helped care for both Betty and Mickey, but there was no resentment; this just helped tighten their bonds. Plus the older sisters were always keeping tabs on the younger ones.

Betty and Mickey

Like all the other Sisters, Betty was weaned into the ranks to help sell Sallie’s shoofly pies and homemade egg noodles. Sallie’s little side-hustle helped support the household, and she took her business very seriously, training each one of the girls from an early age. First with the baking/cooking and clean up process, then the actual door-to-door sales, traveling around town with the goods in a wagon.

Betty and Mickey became a tag team for the sales part, but Mickey often noted that Betty preferred to stay with the wagon instead of doing the actual sales transaction. 

Not sure if Betty’s reluctance to be the sales person was before or after the infamous “You dum ‘tings, I bet you broke every noodle in da box.” incident, but I could see why this incident might impact her reluctance to be any more involved than necessary

As the story goes, when Betty was 10, she fell down the steps that Sallie so carefully lined her boxes of noodles on to dry. During her fall, Betty some how was able to knock down every box. Needless to say, when Sallie discovered Betty at the foot of the steps with toppled boxes and broken noodles all around her, she was not pleased. Not only was the days work ruined, but it was also a loss of income, income the family needed.

Now, if Betty had been injured I’m quite sure Sallie’s reaction would have been different, but other then a few bruises, Betty was OK.

As a child, Betty was your typical kid, but by her teens it was obvious her spark was a little different than her sisters. All the Dechert Girls were beauties with a personality to match, but Betty was the glamorous one and turning into quite the charmer, especially with men. Her stunning red hair and hazel eyes did not go unnoticed. 

By the time she was 18, she was dating Bob Foreman, a tool and die maker for the Bethlehem Steel, extremely handsome and 5 years her senior. They had met at a dance and had an immediate connection. 

At the age of 19, Betty was a contestant in the Miss Lebanon Pageant. The local newspaper referred to Betty as “a titian haired beauty.” Which is evidence enough to confirm she was a standout in the beauty department.

For the talent portion of the pageant Betty sang accompanied by her sister Kassie on piano. Both Bob and her sister Mickey were in the audience cheering her on.

In the Spring of 1947, at the age of 20, Betty and Bob were married. On December 6, 1947 their daughter Linda was born.

Betty and Bob’s Wedding picture with her sister Mickey as Maid of Honor and her niece Carolann, Helen’s daughter, as flower girl

It was the events surrounding Linda’s birth that would impact Betty in ways no one can fathom unless they experience it themselves.

For all appearances, Betty’s pregnancy was a very normal one. That was until her sister Helen, who was a nurse, came to visit to check on her because she was a week past her due date.

Upon examining Betty, Helen was concerned that something wasn’t right and told Bob he had to get Betty to the hospital right away.

At the hospital the doctors discovered Betty was not only in labor and didn’t know it, but the umbilical cord was wrapped around the baby’s neck and the baby was experiencing Meconium Aspiration Syndrome (MAS).

Both these issue in themselves are extremely dangerous, but combined they can be fatal. MAS occurs when stress, such as low oxygen, causes the baby to take forceful gasps, thus inhaling amniotic fluid containing meconium into their lungs. Even though fetuses do not eat, their intestines contain a sterile substance called meconium. Meconium aspirated into the lungs may block the newborn’s airways and cause regions of the lungs to collapse.

Getting the baby out was the priority, but the doctors knew it would be risky, not just for the baby, but for the mother too. They told Bob he may have to choose between his wife or his child.

An emergency C-section had to be done in order to save Linda because Betty’s hips would not loosen enough to have the baby naturally. Fortunately the doctors got Linda out just in time, but Betty was told she should not have any more children because she might not make it through another birth.

The doctor’s most certainly saved both Linda and Betty, but both of them always felt the real hero was Betty’s sister Helen, whose natural instincts as a nurse knew something was wrong. Had she not come to visit things most certainly may not have ended up they way they did.

It goes without saying this was a traumatic event, and one that would leave scars, even if they weren’t visible.

Betty was physically, mentally and emotionally drained from this event, and needed help caring for Linda. Fortunately Betty and Bob had already been living with Bob’s parents, so Bob’s mother stepped in to help, not just to care for Linda, but also help care for Betty who was put on 5 – 6 weeks of bed rest due to a swollen leg, also known as “milk leg” – a painful swelling of the leg caused by inflammation and clotting in the veins, affecting some postpartum women.

Finding out at the age of 21 you shouldn’t have any more children was a tough pill to swallow, so when Betty was back on her feet she threw herself into her work.

After high school Betty had gone to the Bryland Beauty School in Reading, graduating with a certificate in cosmetology and completing an apprenticeship at the Heffelfinger’s Beauty Shop in Lebanon. 

Falling back on this training Betty was able to secure a position with the Stuart Wood Salon in Lebanon. Because her mother-in-law was already caring for Linda, she had a built in babysitter, which enabled her to establish herself in the world of cosmetology.

This also gave Betty and Bob the money they needed to move out of his parents, first into an apartment and later purchasing a house, both in Lebanon, PA.

Even though they had their own place, it was decided it was best for Linda to stay with Bob’s mom during the week and spend weekends with Betty and Bob. This would keep some level of stability in Linda’s life, and allow Betty the opportunity to pursue her vision of owning her own beauty shop. 

By 1956, Betty and Bob had enclosed their porch and converted it to a beauty shop for Betty. Betty was in heaven, slowly building up clientele and creating a place where Linda could spend time with Betty even when Betty was working.

With cookies, coffee and adult conversations always available, Linda loved hanging out at Betty’s shop. She not only got to spend time with her Mom, but she also got to know all of Betty’s regulars.

Unfortunately Betty and Bob’s marriage started to have problems, there were obvious signs of abuse and by 1959 they were divorced. Their house was sold along with the shop and Betty temporarily moved in with Mickey and her family till she could get back on her feet.

This time with Mickey was a life saver because the troubles Betty faced in her marriage were very damaging to her psyche and having a sister always by her side was the comfort she needed to heal before stepping back out on her own.

It also gave Linda the opportunity to hang out with her Mom and Mickey and her family, who she adored. Needless to say the relationship between Betty and Linda was challenged enough, and with Linda heading into her teens, it was important she have the comfort of family around too.

Sometime in the early 60’s, Betty reestablished herself getting a small apartment of her own, and got involved with the Lebanon County Hairdressers and Cosmetologists Association, even becoming the secretary.

She also once again ventured forth into the world of beauty shop owner. This time though she rented space in Lebanon.

Betty would run Betty’s Beauty Shop until she retired in 1992 at the age of 66. Her shop became her refuge and her life. And although Linda continued to spend a lot of time at her Mom’s shop, by her teens she started to feel a little resentment. This could be expected considering all that had transpired, but it would put a strain on their relationship that wouldn’t show signs of healing until Linda was older and a mother herself.

Being very outgoing and friendly, Betty got very close to a lot of her clientele, some of who also became close friends. She would often go to events at the local synagogue and Jewish center with some of these women who were of the Jewish faith.

AND, in so doing, she would meet the love of her life, Isador Koblentz, better known as “Izzy.”

Izzy was a well-educated, well-dressed, well-mannered and very handsome gentleman, who treated Betty like she was the only woman on the face of the earth. They adored each other, and it showed in the joy on both of their faces.

Betty and Izzy

Betty was truly happy and her heart could once again feel love. BUT, due to Izzy’s mother’s objections because Betty was not Jewish, the two settled on dating for many years before they could consider marriage.

As long as Betty and Izzy were together it didn’t matter to them though. They had each other and that was enough. Betty was complete with Izzy, whether she was wearing a ring or not. They didn’t need a marriage license to prove their love. Their actions said it all.

They would often do romantic things like take trips to the Poconos where they would rent a cabin, take long walks and later warm themselves in front of the fireplace or just linger chatting on the patio taking in the beauty of the mountains. They also loved to share a bottle of wine with a gourmet meal, and could even be seen holding hands. They made the best of their situation and were very content.

Their day did come though and on Christmas Eve of 1971 Betty and Izzy were finally married. To say they experienced wedded bliss after all those years is an understatement.

By this time, Betty’s daughter Linda was 24, and married with 2 children, Lori, 6, born in 1965 and Lanny, 7, born in 1966.

Betty had discouraged Linda from marrying so young like she herself had done, and this only added to the friction between the two of them, but with Izzy in her life Betty began to lighten up.

Izzy had stepped into his role of stepfather whole-heartedly and was there for Linda whenever she needed fatherly advice. As a matter of fact he was more like a father than her real one and she referred to him as “Pop.”

The bond between Izzy and Linda truly helped heal the friction between Betty and Linda and by the time Linda’s third child Jenny was born in 1983, Betty had fully embraced being a grandmother.

Izzy’s presence in both Betty and Linda’s lives was what they both needed to heal old wounds and move forward. As the wounds healed, so did the amount of time together.

Holidays were always a big thing with Betty and Izzy, but now they could expand their celebrations to include Linda and her family. They would host a light meal after Christmas Eve Services followed by a big Christmas Day gathering at Linda’s house.

Things weren’t perfect, but they could finally really feel like a family again. The strains of the past were not gone, but things had mellowed with time.

This mellowing was very evident in the amount of time Linda would spend with Betty and Izzy. They both loved to take walks daily in South Hills Park near their home, and Linda would often meet them for lunch on her days off, even bringing Jen, her youngest daughter, who had gotten very close to Betty.

The strength of the healing bond between Betty and Linda was put to the test when Izzy was diagnosed with prostate cancer a few years after Betty had retired in 1992. To say this was devastating news for both of them is understatement.

Izzy had become Betty’s rock and to see him knocked down by illness was a challenge she wasn’t prepared for. BUT, when you love someone as much she loved Izzy, you find that inner strength you need to persevere which is exactly what Betty did. She went from being the center of Izzy’s universe to caregiver.

In the beginning things went fairly well, but Izzy’s battle was a long drawn out one, and eventually Linda convinced Betty it was time for Izzy to be admitted to the V. A. Medical Center where he could get round the clock care.

This was a tough decision for Betty to make, but she wanted what was best for Izzy. As can be expected, Betty came every day to be with Izzy. Even if she just sat quietly by his side, he had the comfort of knowing she was there.

Linda, who had become a nurse, just like her Aunt Helen, also worked at the V.A. Medical Center so she would visit with Izzy and Betty every day on her lunch and after work.

Through it all though, Betty never really knew how bad things were until Izzy succumbed to the ravages of the cancer in October of 1996.

Izzy’s passing just about destroyed Betty. She was lost and lonely. How could she go on without Izzy?

All the troops rallied around Betty: Linda, her children Lori and Jen, and her new husband Pete, and of course all of Betty’s sisters stepped in to be there for her us much as they could.

In so doing though, Linda discovered how much Izzy had actually done around the house and she knew her Mom would never be able to handle it all. Especially in her state of grief, so she took charge of all she could while Betty got back on her feet.

Throughout the grieving process, Linda and Pete would take Betty out for drives, to dinner and to visit her sisters. Seeing her sisters helped a lot. It reminded her of the great times they had over the years.

Betty, Linda and Pete

And, by this time, Lori, Linda’s oldest daughter was married with 2 children, Ashley, born in 1995 and Dylan, born in 1998 and they would spend as much time as they could with Betty.

Linda, Jen holding Lori’s daughter Ashley, Lori and Betty – Four Generations of Women

Linda’s son Lanny was also married with children, Skye, born in 1994, and Kyle, born in 1997, but he was in the service and not available to visit as much as he would like.

Seeing the great grandchildren really helped Betty, but her loneliness was too much to bare some days, so with Linda’s urging, she decided to get out more on her own.

Lori, her daughter Ashley and Betty

On one of her adventures, she went to a local Burger King, and while there, an older gentleman approached and offered to buy her a cup of coffee. Not quite sure what to make of it, Betty declined, but after giving it some thought, she decided to go back to that Burger King to see if that gentleman would be there again.

Just so happened he was, and after that cup of coffee, the two started to date. That gentleman’s name was Jim Kutz, and much like Izzy, he was well-dressed, well-mannered and very handsome. He was however quite a few years older than Betty, but that didn’t matter to her, she was happy again and that’s all that matter.

It wasn’t long before Betty and Jim bought a home and soon after, in June of 1998 married. All seemed right in the world again for Betty. She had worked through her grief, and even though she continued to miss Izzy, she was able to find some happiness.

Betty and Jim
Betty, Jim, Jen and Linda

Unfortunately that happiness was short-lived. Jim had underlying health conditions and in October of 1998 died of complications from a massive heart attack.

Losing two husbands within two years was more than Betty could process. It destroyed her mentally and emotionally. Once again the family rallied around her all they could, but this time that wasn’t enough.

Linda quickly discovered Betty wasn’t paying bills and doing basic household chores. These all seem like a normal response to all Betty had endured, but because of her age and the trauma to her system, her doctor was concerned this behavior could be signs of Alzheimer’s. He recommended Linda attend a few meetings at Cornwall Manor, a nursing facility for Alzheimer’s patients.

Linda took the doctor’s advice and it was a blessing she did because it prepared her for what was to follow.

Over time Betty’s behavior became even more erratic, including wondering the streets at night in her nighty looking for Izzy. Wanting to keep Betty in her own home as long as possible, Linda brought in nursing care to keep tabs on Betty in the evenings.

Despite all the two of them had been through throughout the years, Linda could not turn her back on her Mom, she felt a deep obligation to her. Their roles had change. Linda was now the mother and Betty the daughter, and it was at this point that all the wounds of the past were permanently erased.

Taking on the role of caregiver for Betty only strengthened Linda’s love for her Mom.

In September of 2004 though, Linda could no longer make things work keeping Betty at home and had to make the difficult decision to admit her to Manor Care in Lebanon. Betty had developed blood clots in her legs and had to be admitted to the hospital for a week, so transitioning her into nursing care at this point was the best thing to do.

Betty battled Alzheimer’s for years. Sometimes knowing her family and other times not, but that didn’t stop them from having a birthday party for her every year, and visiting as often as they could.

Betty, Jen, Ashley and Dylan

Seeing the once bright light that was Betty slowly extinguish was the greatest heartache the family had to endure. And although the pain of losing her on July 11, 2011 was almost unbearable, they knew she was no longer suffering. They knew she was in a better place and whole again.

AND, they had their memories of the days when Betty’s light was shining bright. Memories that remind them of the truly beautiful soul Betty was, both inside and out. No disease could take those away.

Memories like the story of how Linda’s male classmates in high school were so enamored by Betty’s glamorous presence when she would come into school for parent/teacher conferences they would send notes home with Linda for her. As Linda noted, I was extremely popular on those days.

Or the twinkle in Betty’s eyes when she would great her niece Pam, Helen’s daughter, with “There’s my Scorpio Buddy.” They had birthdays one day a part, and this greeting always made Pam feel exclusive to be paired with her glamorous aunt.

Or the joy Betty would be beaming with when she was with her Sisters. The love the Dechert Girls had for each other was only matched by the love they had for their own families.

BUT, most of all, was Betty’s dazzling smile and sparkling eyes that would light up a room when she walked into it. No matter what challenges Betty was facing, she always had a smile on her face.

And it is that smile that will forever shine in all of our memories.

Please check back next month when I will feature Mildred “Mickey” Dechert Bortz, the fifth of the Dechert Girls.

Many thanks to my brother-in-law Terry Stout for his assistance with scanning all the photos for not only this post, but all posts on the Dechert Sisters.

© Mariann E. Danko and Waking the Woman, 2020. All rights reserved.

Goddess Masthead © Pamela Danko-Stout and Waking the Woman, 2020. All rights reserved.

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The Dechert Sisters Legacy – Mabel Mae Dechert Swanger

October 24, 1912 – March 3, 2013

Mabel was the second oldest of Sallie and David’s 5 girls, and only 18 months younger than their oldest daughter Kassie. Being the only two in the house for 8 years before Helen was born just reinforced the tight bond these two had not only growing up, but throughout their lives.

All the Dechert sisters were extremely close, but Mabel and Kassie had a special bond, formed not just by their placement in the line of birth, but because they were the only two who never graduated from high school. Not because of any fault of their own though. 

They were teenagers by the time their youngest sisters Betty and Mickey were born, in 1926 and 1928, so it’s understandable they wold be expected to help with their younger sisters. Especially in that time period.

But they were needed more full-time because their mother Sallie was 42, and running a thriving side business selling homemade pies and noodles. Adding two little ones into the mix was a lot for her to handle even if she was a fireball of energy. Kassie and Mabel were the extra help that enable her to keep things running smoothly.

They had always helped around the house and even with the pie and noodle business, becoming Sallie’s delivery girls, as did all the girls when they became old enough, but now Kassie and Mabel were needed for an even greater task, tending to an infant and toddler.

Mickey, Betty, David, Helen, Sallie, Mabel and Kassie

Beyond this though, there was also another factor that came in to play.

The Dechert Sisters had a half-brother named Ralph, who was in his 20’s by this time, and a well establish business man in the Philadelphia area. He had built up a business selling Amish goods at a farmers market and was always in need of help. Not just with the market, but also with his own young daughter Jeanie.

Who better than his siblings to solicit for help? 

So, Ralph saw this situation as an opportunity he couldn’t pass up. Telling Sallie and David “Girls don’t need an education.” He helped reinforce their decision to have Mabel and Kassie drop out of high school.

And, eliminated any guilt Sallie and David may have had about pulling the girls out of school.

Although this gave Mabel and Kassie the opportunity to explore the world beyond Myerstown, and earn some money, not graduating from high school would be a stigma that Mabel wouldn’t shake her whole life.

Even if this was a very common practice in that era, Mabel was embarrassed by this and very rarely ever spoke of it. She often said she came from nothing and had nothing of importance to say.

Which is oh so wrong, because life is our best teacher, and it is the things we learn as we face all that life can throw at us that teaches us far more than anything we could ever learn in high school. 

AND, Mabel just so happened to live a full and long life, celebrating her 100 birthday the Fall before she passed in 2013. This in itself is an achievement far greater than graduating from high school. It’s a sign of a life well lived and most definitely filled with lessons learned.

Certificate from the White House honoring Mabel on her 100th birthday

Lessons worth sharing with her loved ones, which Mabel most certainly did, especially her grandchildren. It is her sage words that they still recall with fond memories and have heeded on many occasions. 

Some of those sound words of advice were:

“Stay away from the bums.”

“If he/she doesn’t treat you right, give them the shoe.”

“Don’t settle.”

“You must rise above it.”

“If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

“Drink a glass of water in the morning to get the bowels going.”

“If you ain’t Dutch, you ain’t much.”

AND

While cleaning up in the kitchen “Lick the spoon.”

Some of these sage words were garnered from hardships Mabel herself faced. She learned early on how important it was to stand up for yourself and to not let anyone treat you badly.

Plus, how critical it was to be proud of your heritage regardless of what others thought. Mabel took a lot of ribbing for her PA German accent, but she never let it hold her back from living her life to the fullest.

Her other words of advice were just a way of life learned growing up in a humble, simple and faith-filled household. From an early age Mabel learned you had to work hard for the things you want, and never look for anything to be handed to you. 

It was this lesson that inspired Mabel to go to beauty school to learn to become a hairdresser in her 40’s. Even though she was married with children, she no longer wanted to ask her husband for money if she wanted or needed something for herself. Nor did she want to rely on him for transportation. She wanted a car of her own. She wanted to be self-sufficient.

Needless to say, Mabel was fiercely independent, and wanted to live her life on her terms.

Kassie, unknown friend & Mabel

This of course was something other woman in her neighborhood couldn’t understand. They were living the June Clever life, but she wanted more. Not that she didn’t love being a wife, mother and housekeeper. Her family was the most important thing to her, but she knew she needed her independence too.

As a matter of fact, when she bought her first car, she was furious the registration was put in her husband’s name. It was her car, not his, why would they do that?

As her granddaughter Aria stated, “She was a feminist before her time in her own Mabel Mae Dechert way.”

And indeed she was. Raising a family and having a career was not something you saw many women do in the 50’s, but that didn’t stop Mabel. She moved forward and never looked back. Getting a job as a hairdresser at Lit Brothers Department Store where she worked until her retirement in 1974 at the age of 62.

Mabel in her beautician’s uniform

Mabel loved being a hairdresser and took her career very seriously, carrying her scissors with her wherever she went. Even at family gatherings she would offer haircuts, especially to anyone with long hair.

As a fan of short hair she couldn’t resist. As a matter of fact both her and Kassie got in trouble with their Mother and Grandmother for cutting their hair short when they were young.  

As a woman with boundless energy, it’s not a surprise Mabel was able to accomplish being a wife, mother and career woman. She was often called the “Energizer Bunny” because she was always one step ahead and constantly on the move. Even well into her senior years she could run circles around people younger than her.

Mabel was a natural beauty with wavy, short red hair and beautiful, flawless, ivory skin. She never washed her face with anything but water, and the only make-up she wore was eyebrow pencil. There’s even a story that in her senior years, when driving by the funeral home, she insisted on stopping in to drop off her eyebrow pencil to insure they had the right color.

One can only imagine that it was her stunning looks that caught the eye of her husband Lloyd Swanger. Although we aren’t sure about the story behind their meeting, it is believed they both worked for the same hosiery company, Nolde & Horst Hosiery Company in Womelsdorf, PA and once Lloyd spotted Mabel the writing was on the wall.

Mabel and Lloyd were married on August 25, 1935 at her parent’s house in Myerstown. They had a small civil ceremony followed by an intimate reception with family and close friends. 

Mabel & Lloyd’s 50th Wedding Anniversary

In 1943 Lloyd was drafted into the Navy and served aboard the USS Tuscaloosa from May 19, 1943 to November 25, 1945.

Mabel and Lloyd held off starting a family until September of 1946 when their first child, David, was born. Followed by Sallie, their second child, in September of 1948. Yes, Mabel named her children after her parents. Just another sign of how tight knit the Dechert family was.

Sallie & Mabel

Mabel and Lloyd lived in Myerstown until 1951, when they moved to the suburbs of Philadelphia in search of a better employment. At this time, David was 5 and Sallie was 3.

David and Sallie as kids
David & Sallie as adults, at David’s granddaughter Jessica’s Sweet Sixteen party

Sometime in the 60’s they purchased a cabin in Deer Lake, PA on a beautiful wooded lot with a little stream running through it. This place became not only their escape from the city, but a place for the large extended family to gather every Summer.

AND, these gatherings became legendary. 

Grilling duties were left in the hands of all the Sisters husbands who were always having a few beers and playing cards while they performed the task. Needless to say, some of the food ended up burned, in particular the chicken. After awhile though, this was just expected. 

Kassie, Helen, Betty, Mabel, Ralph & Mickey – Deer Lake

The sisters were so busy getting caught up and preparing the rest of the food they were oblivious to what their men were up to and that was just fine.

Betty, Mabel, Kassie & Mickey – Pavilion Deer Lake

All the kids would go off on adventures. The cabin was near the Pollack Mink Farm and Muhammed Ali’s Training Camp, so there was always an excursion on foot to see if they could spot any minks or Ali. 

Link to Muhammad Ali’s Training Camp webpage

PLUS, there was a huge park and playground along the lake, so after the excursion the kids would head to the park to hangout and play till the food was ready.

In addition, even though the cabin had running water and a real toilet in it, there was an old outhouse, which for the kids, in the dark, was a scary place to venture to. Needless the say the boys did all they could to scare the girls. All in good fun of course.

Even when the kids hit their teens, these adventures didn’t loose their charm. Being able to hang out with all the cousins was the best thing in the world.

Even as adults the cousins are the same way. We wish we had more opportunities to be together. The tight bond all of our mother’s shared is most definitely part of the gene pool. Family means everything to all of us.

Falling in love with the Deer Lake area, Mabel and Lloyd decided to build a home on the lot next to the cabin when they retired in 1974. And even though the lot was smaller, they continued to host the annual family gatherings.

Mabel absolutely loved having all the family together. She was in her element. She would scurry between the kitchen and the guests, dabbing her brow with a hanky she had tucked under her bra strap. Beaming with love seeing all of her extended family gathered together. 

Mickey, Kassie, Helen, Mabel & Betty

And these Summer gatherings would not be complete without Mabel’s famous fruit salad and cabbage slaw. Both extremely refreshing treats on a warm Summer day.

Mabel was noted for spending a lot of time in the kitchen when she had family visiting, but this is what brought her joy. She always made sure she had her children and grandchildren’s favorites on hand, like mashed potatoes, applesauce and corn & broccoli with brown butter.

Butter being a critical ingredient in everything she made. As it’s been noted, she put butter in or on everything she made. Her granddaughter Stacie even noted that she got dubbed the “Butter Grandma” by some her friends.

Mabel’s grandchildren – Amanda, Kim, Stacie, Mike & Aria

She even made sure her children’s spouses had their favorite foods. In particular making sure there was a basket of bread when Sallie’s family was visiting because Sallie’s husband Fred was Italian, and they always had bread with their meals.

Keeping busy was part of Mabel’s DNA. Even when her children or grandchildren would finally get her to sit down when they would visit, it would not be long before she’d be up and scurrying back to the kitchen getting a jump on clean up. 

AND, when she wasn’t in the kitchen cooking for her loved ones, she’d be busy with housework. She kept a very clean and tidy home and was very proud of this. She even had her seasonal cleaning she did ritually like taking down curtains to be washed, and cleaning inside cabinets. Climbing up on stepladders well into her senior years.

Nothing was going to slow Mabel down. Determination ran through her bloodstream from an early age. 

Being an early bird certainly helped. She was generally up before sunrise to get a jump on any tasks she had planned for the day. There’s even a story about a time her sister Betty and her husband Izzy were visiting and Izzy got up to use the bathroom around 6AM. Mabel was already up bustling around the kitchen, when she caught sight of Izzy, she said ‘Now how do you like your eggs?”

Needless to say, Izzy felt compelled to stay up and have breakfast.

Mabel’s love for her sisters was endless. Just speaking about them brought a smile to her face and joy in her heart. Getting together with her sisters meant the world to her, and she so looked forward to their time to visit and share a beer together.

AND, not just any beer, a “Sister Beer.” 

Betty, Mabel, Mickey, Helen & Kassie having their “Sister Beer”

The feeling was mutual with the Dechert Girls. As Lloyd often told Mabel “There’s nobody like your sisters.”

No matter what their age, they always looked out for each other. Being a generous, and kind-hearted soul, Mabel would often slip Helen, who was widowed at a young age, some cash at family gatherings, often noting, “Don’t tell Lloyd.” She felt there was no need to let him know, after all Helen was her sister, and it was her money.

The level of kindness and compassion all the Dechert Girls had not just for each other, but for everyone, was immeasurable.

Sometime in the early 80’s, Mabel and Lloyd moved back to the Myerstown area. By this time they were in their early 70’s and living in a more rural area like Deer Lake wasn’t the best idea, plus, it meant Mabel could be closer to her sisters.

By this time, both their children were married with families of their own. 

Mabel, David & Sallie

David had married Ruth Parkhill in 1970 and had a daughter Kim in 1973, and son Michael in 1976. 

Ruth, David & Mabel’s mother Sallie
Mabel with her first grandchild Kim

To say Mabel and Lloyd were thrilled to become grandparents is an understatement. Being the first grandchild, Kim was like royalty in their eyes. She was treated like a Princess. Not that they didn’t love and adore all their grandchildren, it’s just being the first one that brought perks with it. 

Sallie married Fred Galletti in 1977, and had three daughters, Aria in 1979, Stacie in 1981 and Amanda, who was named after Mabel’s sister’s Kassie, who’s middle name was Amanda, in 1986.

Mabel with Sallie before her wedding
Amanda & Mabel
Aria, Stacie and Amanda – Stacie’s wedding 2008

Sallie and her family lived in Florida for a while, and during this time if they weren’t visiting Mabel and Lloyd, Mabel and Lloyd would visit them.

Being able to spend time with her grandchildren meant the world to Mabel.

As a matter of fact, when Aria and Stacie were little, Sallie got pneumonia and couldn’t care for the girls, so Aria went to be with Fred’s Mother and Stacie stayed with Mabel. Mabel would take her to visit Kassie and the three of them would just hang out. Even well into her 90’s Mabel would remember fondly the time Stacie stayed with her.

Mabel was not only blessed with 5 grandchildren, but also 5 great grandchildren. David’s daughter Kim has 3 children, Jessica born in 2000, Evan in 2004, and Mia in 2012. And, Sallie’s daughter Stacie has 2 children, Huck born in 2009 and Django in 2011.

Sallie and her girls Aria, Amanda & Stacie at Mabel’s 100th birthday party
Mabel, her granddaughter Aria, Ravi, Aria’s husband & Sallie – 2007
Mabel with her great grandson Huck, Stacie’s oldest boy
Stacie with her husband Micah and the youngest son Django at Mabel’s 100th birthday party
Huck, Stacie’s son, Evan and Jessica, two of Kim’s children with Mabel’s great nephew Roy (Helen’s grandson) at her 100th birthday party
Kim with her youngest child Mia at Mabel’s 100th birthday party

It has been well documented that Mabel had quite the “sweet tooth.” She had a candy addiction unrivaled by anyone and one she did not deny.

As a testament to her faith though, she would religiously give up candy for lent. Never once bending. Talk about strong will and commitment.

In her senior years, candy was often the gift of choice, and once the wrapping was off, Mabel would crack open the box so she could sample her tasty treat. AND, as was her nature, she would always be sure to share.

When her grandchildren were little they always wondered which one of their teeth was their sweet tooth, or if “sweet tooth” meant Mabel had one tooth that was black and rotted through. It wasn’t until they were older that they realized it meant she had a massive love of candy. 

One of the best stories regarding Mabel’s “sweet tooth” came in her senior years when she was living with Sallie. After being gone all day, Sallie asked Mabel if she had breakfast, Mabel’s response was “Of course, candy.” and when asked about lunch, Mabel’s response was the same.

Mabel would often note “It had a moreish taste.” meaning it’s so good you want to eat more. Her sister Helen also used that expression and stated it came from her mother Sallie. Whether this is true I’m not sure, but it’s more than a coincidence that two of the Dechert girls used this same expression, especially in reference to sweets.

After Lloyd passed in 2000, Mabel lived by herself in their home, with David and Sallie checking in on her regularly. It wasn’t until she started to show signs of having vision problems that she moved in with Sallie, who had lost her husband in 1999.

Sallie, Mabel & Stacie, Sallie’s daughter

Setting Mabel up with all new physicians, Sallie found out Mabel had macular degeneration and was considered legally blind, this combined with her failing hearing presented it’s challenges, but having her Mom with her meant the world to Sallie. 

AND, Sallie’s daughters loved the opportunity to get to know their grandmother even better, and they cherished the time they had with her. Often recalling with great love some of the silly things she said because she didn’t hear well.

One incident was when the girls were leaving and they said, “See you next Tuesday.” Mabel turned around and yelled ‘What’d ya say about the cheese?”

This expression is still used between Sallie’s girls when they miss what the other one said. 

Hearing issues were definitely in the family. Not only did one grandfather suffer with hearing issues, but also both Helen and Mickey ended up very reluctantly wearing hearing aids.

To say the Dechert Girls were a bit stubborn at times is an understatement.

One of the other things the sisters had in common was they loved to dance. At family gatherings the sister’s would often hit the dance floor as a group.

Helen & Mabel dancing at their niece Kathy’s wedding

Polka’s were Mabel’s favorite and at her granddaughter Aria’s wedding in 2007, when she was 95, she and Helen, who was 87, kicked up their heels to the Polka of her choice.

To say they were the hit of the reception is an understatement.

It didn’t need to be a big party to get Mabel up on her feet though. Sallie’s girls vividly recall a snowed-in Christmas when Mabel was living with Sallie and they all hung out in Pj’s listening to music and dancing. This time though it was Elvis music that got Mabel up on her feet dancing with Aria.

Mabel dancing to Elvis with her granddaughter Aria

In addition, the Dechert Girls all had their own unique style, and Mabel was noted for her awesome sweaters, cool aprons and love of the colors kelly green and purple. Green in particular was not just for her fashion; it often came into play in the décor´ of her homes and the color of her cars.

Mabel’s style was certainly a reflection of her spunky, go-getter personality, which even into her very senior years was very present. BUT, behind this spunky, fireball of a woman was a resilient spirit, who despite hardships, always had a smile on her face, never complaining or speaking negatively, and most definitely never raising her voice.

As her granddaughter Aria has stated, “ She didn’t know how great she was, but we do.”

Please check back next month when I will feature Elizabeth “Betty” Foreman Kobletz Kutz, the fourth of the Dechert Girls.

© Mariann E. Danko and Waking the Woman, 2020. All rights reserved.

Goddess Masthead © Pamela Danko-Stout and Waking the Woman, 2020. All rights reserved.

Many thanks to my by brother-in-law Terry Stout for all his help with scanning of photos.

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The Dechert Sisters Legacy – Kathryn Amanda Dechert Krill

August 24, 1911 – January 10, 1998

Kathryn, better known as “Kassie”, was the oldest of Sallie and David Dechert’s five girls. Her sister Mabel was born 18 months later, and it was just the two of them for 8 years until Helen was born in 1920.

Because of this Kassie and Mabel developed a very tight relationship. One that would last their entire lives, even writing letters to each other when they were not living close enough to see each other on a regular basis.

Kassie even stayed with Mabel and her family periodically while going through radiation treatment for cancer in her 50’s. The treatment Kassie needed wasn’t available in the Myerstown area, but was in Philadelphia, and Mabel just happened to be living in Sharon Hill, a suburb of Philadelphia.

Sometimes it was just a short visit, but it was enough for Mabel to keep tabs on the health of her big sister.

At an early age both Kassie and Mabel would help their mother Sallie deliver her homemade shoofly pies and noodles. Loading up the goodies in a wagon and delivering to all the regular customers. This sort of became a right of passage for all the girls, but Kassie and Mabel were the first to assist in Sallie’s cottage business. Teaching the younger sisters the ropes as each one grew old enough to help.

Mickey, Betty Helen, Mabel and Kassie

Kassie was also an accomplished vocalist and pianist, often performing for concerts at school. She did not perform publically beyond that though, likely because family obligations took precedence.

After Helen was born in 1920, there was a gap of 6 years until Betty was born in 1926, and Mickey 2 years later in 1928. Kassie and Mable were teenagers by the time the youngest two sisters were born, which gave Sallie the extra helping hands she needed.

Considering Sallie was 42 when Betty was born and 44 at the time of Mickey’s birth, and still had her pie and noodle business it’s very understandable that Sallie needed some help.

Because of this, Sallie and David decided to have Kassie and Mabel drop out of high school.

This decision was not done in haste or taken lightly though. It was however encouraged by Ralph, the Dechert Sisters half-brother, who by this time was in his late 20’s and well established in the business world. As a matter of fact, David, his father, truly admired how far he had come, and respected his opinion.

Because of the age gap, Ralph did not play a huge part in any of the girl’s lives, until they were older, and able to work away from home. He saw an opportunity he couldn’t pass up.

He ran a farmers market in the Philadelphia area where he would sell goods from the Amish, and often needed extra help.

Who better than ask his siblings to help? 

Mabel, Ralph, Mickey, Kassie, Helen and Betty

He got the help he needed, and they made some money too. Plus, got to experience what the city had to offer.

Ralph knew he would need Sallie and David’s permission though and had the perfect angle. By telling Sallie and David that “Girls don’t need an education.” it helped ease the guilt they may have felt when pulling Kassie and Mabel out of school, and opened the door for him to get the extra help he needed.

Although Kassie was happy to make money, and get exposure to life in the city, not graduating from high school left a huge impact on her. She became very conscientious of English and grammar. Teaching herself all she needed to know to be well-spoken. She certainly didn’t want to sound uneducated when speaking with people in Philadelphia.

And, she took her grammar very seriously often correcting those who spoke incorrectly.

Whether it was her exposure to city life, or just in her blood from birth, Kassie became the trendsetter, wearing stockings with seams, and being the first to wear pants, which was a big deal for the time period. She had a real sense of style, and wasn’t afraid to show it off making sure to find ways to include her favorite colors orchid and lavender.

She was also the trailblazer for the rest of the sisters. Daring to cut her hair short, which triggered a major argument with her Mother and Grandmother.

Having Mabel follow in her footsteps, just added to the problem. Rumor has it the argument between Kassie and her Grandmother actually got physical with the two of them rolling around on the floor swinging at each other.

Now that would have been a site to see.

Kassie’s feistiness was even more obvious when it came to politics. She was a staunch Democrat and was in awe of FDR. She loved what he did for the people and felt he was the best president.

She was often called a bar room politician, getting in arguments with people who didn’t quite see things the way she did.

Women had just gotten the right to vote in 1920, when Kassie was 9, so it’s obvious as a young woman she was quite conscious of the importance of this right and did not take in lightly.

Being extremely patriotic, Kassie even became President of the American Legion Auxiliary, which is the word’s largest women’s patriotic service organization. Embodying the spirit of America that has prevailed through war and peace, standing solidly behind America and it’s ideals.

https://www.alaforveterans.org/100th-anniversary/

Kassie’s love for her country was at the root of her desire to stay educated on current affairs. She didn’t let the fact that she didn’t graduate deter her from staying informed.

She had many jobs over the years, from bakery worker, to pretzel maker, but the one that made her feel the most fulfilled was a war effort manufacturing job.

Yes, Kassie was a “Rosie” one of approximately 5 million civilian women who served the defense industry and other commercial sectors during World War II in order to free up the men to fight.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosie_the_Riveter

Kassie had even more inspiration beyond her patriotism though in the fact that her husband, Miles Krill, better known as Krilly, was serving in the Air Force from 1943 to 1945 during the war. Not only was she serving her country, she was also aiding her husband in his efforts.

When Kassie and Krilly met it was love at first sight for both of them. There was a catch though. They met at a picnic, and both had come with a date. Krilly very much wanted to leave with Kassie, but she refused, stating she wanted to do the right thing by the date she came with.

After that though, the two were inseparable. Marring on June 27th, 1931, just a couple months shy of Kassie’s 20th birthday. Krilly was 23 and working as a shirt presser, while Kassie was working in a bakery.

Kassie with Krilly and his family

Krilly had a variety of jobs, to include brick layer before settling in at North American Refractories Company in Wolmelsdorf just before enlisting in the Air Force in 1943 where he remained until he retired in 1971.

While working at NARCO, Kassie and Krilly dabbled with making homemade potato chips, and selling them to local markets in the Myerstown area. It was while doing this they set their sites on one day having their own market.

That opportunity opened up when a small convenience style market called “the Shanty” went up for sale in the mid-50’s. This market was on the ground floor of a home in Myerstown with a small apartment above. It was exactly what they wanted.

Based on Krilly’s retirement date from NARCO, he obviously kept his day job while they had the market. I’m guessing that was for financial security and insurance purposes.

Their little market became the neighborhood gathering place with a couple of small tables and chairs where men would hang out, playing checkers, reading the paper and chatting. Plus, pinball games attracted the local teenage boys, which their nieces really appreciated when they came to visit.

They even had a one-armed bandit (aka slot machine) in a back room and punch cards for those that where interested in a game of chance.

The local Amish farmers would periodically come and sell their goods from their trucks in front of the store, offering everything from fruits and vegetables, to meat and cheese.

The store was very quint and rustic with a large penny candy section. This section was a hit with all their nieces and nephews when they came to visit because Kassie and Krilly allowed them to indulge in whatever treats they wanted.

AND, when it was time to head home, they could fill a small paper bag with whatever candy they wanted.

Kassie and Krilly doted on all their nieces and nephews. They had hoped to have children, but Krilly had mumps as an adult and that destroyed all hope for children of their own. Instead they spoiled their nieces and nephews. 

Kassie with her nieces and nephews at her 80th birthday celebration

They treated them all like their own kids, even proudly displaying their artwork on their refrigerator.

The store property also had a nice backyard ideal for cookouts, which they did often. Kassie and Krilly loved picnics, and spending time with family, so they got the best of both worlds. Add to it, Krilly was quite the master when it came to grilling.

Kassie and Krilly were both very active with the American Legion running the weekly Bingo Games along side Kassie’s sister Mickey and her husband Forrest.  

The four of them got very close because Krilly and Forrest had a military background, plus the rest of Kassie’s sisters had relocated to other areas of Pennsylvania. Mabel had moved to the Philadelphia area with her family in the early 50’s, Helen relocated when she left for nursing school in 1943, and Betty had relocated to Lebanon for cosmetology school and remained in the area post graduation in the mid-50’s.

Not that the sisters didn’t see each other as often as possible, it was just that they had all ventured off to forge their own paths in the world and Kassie and Mickey remained in Myerstown.

Kassie, Mabel and Mickey

Over the years Kassie (and Krilly) would become extra close to Mickey and Forrest’s children, especially their second daughter Kathy Rose, who Kassie helped to raise.

Mickey lost a child between Kathy and her younger sister Judi Lynn, and needed the extra support, so when Kathy was 3, Kassie started to watch her during the day, and after school.

Kassie was in her late 40’s by this time, but that never slowed her down.

The two of them became quite the buddies. Kassie would drop whatever she was doing to give Kathy her undivided attention. She even helped Kathy learn to read and taught her some cooking skills.

Kathy had a little stool next to the stove and she played Kassie’s sous Chef while she was cooking. Kassie was quite the cook, teaching Kathy some valuable tips. One her specialties was slowed cooked pork chops on the stove top, which Kathy noted shows just how patient Kassie was.

Kassie often bought books for Kathy and one her favorites was one filled with not-so-common Fairy Tales like “Rumple Stiltsken,” “The Princess and the Pea,” “The Emperor’s New Clothes” and “Thumbelina.” Kathy loved this book and Kassie never tired of reading it to her.

The bond between Kassie and Kathy never faded. As an adult Kathy would visit Kassie on a regular basis, and often cook a special meal for her. To say they were tight is understatement.

By the time Kassie and Krilly hit their 50’s, they decided it was time to expand beyond apartment living and buy a house. Krilly was an avid coin collector and often did consulting for a fee. It was this money that helped them buy their first home in a small development called “Lynncrest” just outside of Myerstown.

The house was a rancher with 2 bedrooms, 1 bath, full basement, garage, central air and a large backyard, ideal for cookouts. They were in heaven.

Their house became the new gathering spot for the large extended family.

Helen, Mickey, Sallie their Mother, Betty and Mabel at a gathering at Kassie and Krilly’s

They hosted an Easter gathering and large cookout over the Summer every year. Easter was epic with a huge egg hunt for all the nieces and nephews, and individual Easter baskets made from box lids for each one.

In the Summer the nieces and nephews would go between playing outside and in the basement, where they would often roller skate from one end to the next.

To say that many fond memories were created in that house is an understatement.

Besides being an amazing cook and housekeeper, Kassie also collected colored glass figurines, bowls and vases, and proudly displayed them in an open framed wall between the kitchen and living room. They were absolutely beautiful, and fascinated quite a few of her nieces.

How they survived all the kids coming in and out of the house is still a mystery today?

Kassie with one of Mickey’s Grandchildren, glass collection is in the background

Kassie and Krilly enjoyed a good ten years in their home before Krilly’s heart condition got the best of him. Having a heart attack while at home, he passed in 1974. Because this happened in their home it was hard for Kassie to go home.

For 6 months after Krilly’s passing, Kassie lived with Mickey and her family. Working her way up to being in the house again by spending days in the house, but sleeping at Mickey and Forrest’s house.

Kassie became part of the family. Wherever Mickey and her family went so did Kassie. She didn’t drive, but Forrest, was more than happy to bring her back and forth.

As a matter of fact, Forrest would often go in the house ahead of Kassie to make sure everything was safe. Living alone had made Kassie a bit nervous, and this reassured her. AND, Forrest was more than happy to oblige.

Kassie with her sisters, Mabel, Helen, Mickey and Betty at her 80th birthday party, wearing her favorite color, purple.

Kassie remained in the house till her early 80’s when a fall caused a bad sprain and she never was able to fully recover. This forced her into a series of rehab and nursing homes, finally settling into an assisted living facility in Myerstown where she remained until her passing in 1998.

Funny thing though, through all of this, what she missed the most was her nightly beer. Normally alcohol isn’t really allowed, but with a little wheeling and dealing Mickey, Forrest and Kathy got permission for her to keep some in her room so she could still have her nightly beer. This made Kassie very happy.

Another thing that made her happy was music, listening to her favorite songs like “Yes Sir, That’s My Baby”, “A Cup of Coffee, a Sandwich & You”, “Stardust” and her all time favorites “You Are My Sunshine”, and “Ava Maria” would always put a smile on her face.

Kassie was a sweet and gentle woman, who’s true beauty was reflected in her eyes which were truly the window to her beautiful soul.

In her senior years Kassie was very quiet, far from the feisty woman she was in her teens and twenties, but the one thing that was consistent was her simple, no pretense demeanor, which was ever present in her greeting “Hello Dare!” There, sounding like “Dare” because of her Pennsylvania German accent. I can still her sweet voice greeting me to this day.

And she would say this with a dazzling smile and a sparkle in her eyes.

Many thanks to my family, especially my cousins Kathy Lewis and Sallie Galletti, for their contributions of stories and memories which enabled me to pull together Kassie’s story.  

PLUS, I have to send out a huge thank you to my brother-in-law Terry Stoudt for scanning all the photos for all these posts. I am eternally grateful for his help.

Please check back next month when I will feature Mabel May Dechert Swanger, the second oldest of the Dechert Girls.

© Mariann E. Danko and Waking the Woman, 2020. All rights reserved.

Goddess Masthead © Pamela Danko-Stout and Waking the Woman, 2020. All rights reserved.

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