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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THE END OF AN ERA

THE END OF AN ERA

It’s not often I’m half way through a month and lost for a theme for my post, but this month I can say I was beyond writer’s block.

I could blame it on a couple things: getting busier and busier at work, and still working an odd schedule, family crisis regarding one of my sisters which created excess stress, or even just the fact that since the Pandemic hit daily life is very limited. A lot of the same old same old, nothing new or intriguing going on, which is the case for everyone I suppose.

And the last thing I wanted to do was write about the same old same old thing like; quarantine, social distancing, or wearing masks in public and at work.

Although a post about life wearing a mask in public could very well be in the future. You have to admit; only seeing someone’s eyes is an interesting thing, especially if the eyes are truly the windows of the soul.

I have noticed that the eyes can be very telling as to the mood of the person behind the mask. We’re so use to basing mood on other facial expressions, but now we only have the eyes to go by. And surprisingly they can reveal a lot.

This observation however will take a bit more research to see if it’s worthy of an entire post.

So as the month ticked away, with nothing sparking my writing soul, I began to think for the first time since I started blogging six years ago I just might have to concede to writer’s block.

Then, the weekend the crisis with my sister hit it’s peak, my family also experienced the unexpected passing of my dear Aunt Mickey.

Mildred (Mickey) Dechert Bortz

Although we were concerned about the situation with my sister, we had traveled this road more than once, and were just grateful she was finally in the hospital.

The passing of my Aunt however was very upsetting, not just for my Cousins, but also for the entire extended family. My Aunt Mickey was a sweetheart of a woman, who treated her nieces and nephews as if they were her own. Her home was your home too.

Some of my greatest childhood memories are about time spent hanging at her house for a week during the Summer. Our annual trips to Hershey Park with my Mom, my Brother, my Aunt and my Cousins were epic.

My Aunt Mickey was also the last of my Mom’s living Sisters and her passing became the end of era.

Dechert Sisters 1990 – Mickey, Mable, Betty, Kassie, & Helen

An era steeped with amazing family gatherings, with five sisters who stood by each other’s side through every life experience possible; marriages, births, divorces, deaths, etc. and with their Pennsylvania German heritage, from religious beliefs to the food. Oh so much amazing food.

My mind was flooded with memories the days leading up to my Aunt’s funeral.

AND, I couldn’t help but ponder about my Mom and each one her Sisters and how they impacted my life.

To say my Mom and her Sisters were unique is an understatement.

They came from very humble roots, and through out their lives never forgot that. They were all selfless, caring and giving women, who looked at everyone as equals.

Family came first. They were always there for each other, regardless of what was going on in their personal lives.

The Sisters were a tight group of ladies who cherished each other and encouraged each other’s individuality.

Helen, Mable, Betty & Mickey – Mid-Nineties

Looking at today’s standard this may seem normal, but you have to remember these ladies were born in the early 1900’s. Encouraging individuality was not a common thing.

Especially growing up in a strict religious household.

They were raised Dunkard Brethren which is an offshoot of the Brethren, very similar to Protestant, but closer to Mennonite because they had to wear head coverings, and drinking, smoking and gambling were prohibited.

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

Now, by the time these ladies hit high school, like normal teens, they started to rebel, but not in a wild way. They wanted to wear more stylish clothes, high heals, and make up. Plus be involved in things at school, like sports and clubs.

BUT, they never forgot the roots of their faith.

The oldest two, Kassie (Katherine) and Mabel, paved the way for the younger three, Helen (my Mom), Betty (Elizabeth) and Mickey (Mildred).

Helen & Mable Kicking Up Their Heels at Their Niece’s Wedding

In addition to the restrictions put upon them by the church, they also had a very strict Mother. She was the disciplinarian, not the Father. Which in itself speaks light years as to why these five ladies grew up to be five very uniquely different women.

The more I pondered all of this, the more I realized these amazing women needed to be honored, by documenting their story and individuality.

Not just for their uniqueness, but also for the lessons we all learned from them. My Siblings, my Cousins and all of our extended families are who we are because these five special ladies touched our lives, and forever made a mark.

Mickey, Mable & Helen at Mable’s Granddaughter’s Wedding

Each one of them imparted upon us little bits of wisdom that have guided us through good times and bad. AND, by example, showed us that family, faith and food, are all one needs to be truly happy.

So, It brings me great joy to say for the next couple months I will be dedicating my posts to the Dechert Sisters. I have reached out to my Siblings, Cousins and extended family to aid me in this quest.

After all, part of rediscovery is looking to the past, and what better time to do so.

I haven’t quite decided if I will dedicate a month to each Sister, or mix it up. This idea is a work in progress and to a point a labor of love. A way to carry on the legacy that is “THE DECHERT SISTERS – KASSIE, MABEL, HELEN, BETTY AND MICKEY.

The Dechert Sisters – Mickey, Betty, Helen, Mable & Kassie with their parents, David & Sallie

I hope you enjoy reading about the Dechert Sisters legacy as much as I do sharing it.

And, maybe you too will start to ponder those within your family who have also left a legacy. Because, it’s those legacies that have molded each of our families and lead us to where we are now.

© 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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Eyes Soul – 123rf – Sergey Nivens

Photos from personal collection