Answer to Depression Query Isn’t Easy  
Thursday, February 10, 2011

The woman called James J. Manzi, Webster’s well-known memorabilia collector, in the first place. Her daughter, a Bartlett High School sophomore, had to write a paper on the Great Depression (that’s late 1920s to just before World War II).

Jimmy could probably stuff a house with Great Depression reminders, but he left the “how” people survived hard times to me.

OK, I’ve read all about the terrible stock market crash. I’ve researched local effects of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s 1933 Bank Holiday, brought on by a rash of failures, when all the federally chartered banks in the country were closed, giving auditors time to check their solvency; and looked at records of the subsequent Webster-Dudley town meetings that cut municipal functions to the bone, but comparisons seemed hard to come by. The First National Bank of Webster was closed for about two weeks; Webster National Bank, with more mortgages in default than deposits, was permanently closed, although it was allowed to reorganize some years later.

I had an idea how people in my family and certain others survived during the Great Depression, but I couldn’t give an absolutely not-to-be-challenged response. The angst left me feeling like a contestant on Jeff Foxworthy’s “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?” show. In my case, the admission says, “I’m not smarter than a Bartlett High School sophomore.” A final thought: Too bad Jimmy Manzi didn’t field the query himself!

There was a one-year anniversary Mass in St. Louis Church in Webster Jan. 22 for the late Gladys (Dauksz) Cacciapouti, and her kid brother and his wife came up from Fairfax Station, Va.

Edward D. Dauksz was a Marine Corps Col.-Ret. when we last met. He was at a post-church breakfast with others, including his buddy, Joseph R. Pizzetti, and Joe’s cousin, Lucille R. Tucker, when we happened along.

Mrs. Tucker seemed happy to report that her husband, Harry, is coming along quite well after undergoing surgery at St. Vincent Hospital in Worcester.

Now back to Mr. Dauksz. His business card says: President, National Capital Region, Association of the United States Army. And to think, he was a high schooler, a pitcher for the Bartlett High baseball team, when we struck up an acquaintance more than 50 years ago. His baseball triumphs at the University of Connecticut, and career as a Marine Corps officer, stretched through the years. His doting sister, Mrs. Cacciapouti, kept things current when our daily constitutionals intersected sometimes along Webster’s School Street.

She disappeared for weeks at a time, and now I know why: Visits with Ed and his family in Fairfax Station. Incidentally, Col. Dauksz’ job as president of the national capital region for the Army is pretty close to full time, because the association is responsible for activities in the nation’s capital, where a major concern is the care and comfort of hospitalized veterans.

The published notice says the late “Janet Malser was a quiet, diminutive woman with a raspy voice and a steady smile.”

A pretty good description, I thought, realizing that the legal provided insight into the life of a woman who might also be remembered for her years with Waterhouse Co., starting when they built custom auto bodies; the Bartlett Insurance Agency; and, along with the late Corrine Pratt, provided the glue that held the Webster-Dudley Business Bureau (later the Chamber of Commerce) together.

The surprise in the notice is that Miss Janet Malser made a sizable amount of money through investments in Commerce Insurance Group stocks. She was 90 when she died in 2007, and still serving as an organist at the First Congregational Church of Dudley.

Her generous bequest will benefit programs that Janet Malser had great interest in, such as beautification work, music in the schools, concerts, library programs, church work, assistance activities and health projects.

Who would have thought of the wonderful munificence of Janet Malser? She gave her effort to all kinds of good programs through life, with the Killdeer Island Club’s annual road race probably being her most recent project. Miss Malser was a friend to many, and a sometime contributor to this corner.

I once sat between Miss Malser and veteran Dudley Selectman Anthony B. DiDonato Sr. on a Black Tavern Historical Society remembrance panel. Miss Malser knew a great deal about town history, and her interests hit such a range as to be nearly all-encompassing. Tony, a builder all his life, knew who built just about every post-World War II house in Dudley, who first lived there, and the then owner; while Chet Kulisa, across the table, filled in Dudley’s agricultural portrait with wit and wisdom.

It was a long night of learning for the guy in the middle!

When he was a young guy working as a reporter, and before he put in 25 years as Webster Town Collector, John E. Bialy was one of the region’s fledging snow-machine enthusiasts.

Florida beckoned with retirement. He recalls the fun of his “younger snow years” but says “I don’t regret the move south as I bask in the sun.”

The “sorry” is “you are getting all that snow.”

Yeah, old buddy, don’t get sunstroke!

-Courtesy Of
Telegram & Gazette

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