David Graves Delahunt (Dela Hunt), Sr.
|Also Known As:||"Dave", "Deacon"|
|Birthplace:||Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States|
|Death:||Died in Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States|
|Cause of death:||lung and heart ailments due to smoking cigarettes|
|Place of Burial:||Holy Cross Cemetery, Block 2, Section A, grave #3, Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States|
Son of Benjamin V. Dela Hunt, Sr., banker; Benjamin Delahunt; Julia Dela Hunt and Julia Delahunt
|Managed by:||Private User|
Historical records matching David Graves Delahunt, Sr.
About David Graves Delahunt, Sr.
David Graves Delahunt I was born March 17, St. Patrick’s Day, 1916, Milwaukee, WI. He said in 1985, “My birthday, St. Patrick’s Day, always was, and still is, a grand occasion. The whole world seemed to make a big fuss over it. In fact the world turned green for a day!”
David was actually born with the surname Dela Hunt. He chose to make the H an h because, he said, it required less explaining, and his grandfather Patrick used the h. (Evidence now shows Patrick used H, but the US government's citizenship papers specified Delahunt.)
David's father was Benjamin Vincent Dela Hunt. He was born April 10, 1871, Milwaukee, WI, and died August 9, 1939, Vicksburg, MS, at 68.3 years. BVD was a banker who started his career as a teller, and completed it in the mid 1930s as the vice president of the State Bank of Milwaukee. He co-founded that bank in the fall of 1929.
Dad's mother was born Julia Lorraine Graves, February 26, 1876, in Milwaukee, WI, the youngest of seven children. She died August 22, 1924, Milwaukee, WI, at 48 1/2 years, of cancer of the breast, leaving her children motherless. David Sr. was just 8 years old.
David wrote in 1986 that his “Mother was a mother only — she was never employed.” He also wrote, “Since I was only eight when she died, I didn’t know her very well. I was told she was more than adequate at the piano, and pictures indicate she was quite a beautiful woman.”
David and his three siblings had several “maiden aunts,” sisters of their father and mother, who did what they could to replace the mother the children must live without. David said that he and his siblings used to refer to the aunts as “The Poopsies,” in teasing acknowledgement of the aunts’ propensity for flatulence.
The most important Poopsy was "Aunt Dinny." She's the one who lived in the family home for many years following Julia’s death. One of Julia's sisters, Dinny was born Hanna Graves in 1868. At some time in her early adulthood [1880s or 90s?] she was employed as a companion to Miss __?__ Plankinton on a “Grand Tour” of Europe and the Far East. Miss Plankinton was a member of a wealthy Milwaukee family. (She was either a daughter of John Plankinton, 1820-1891, operator of a meat packing company and the Plankinton House hotel, or of his son William. In 1863 John partnered with Philip D. Armour to form Plankinton, Armour and Co., establishing branches in Chicago, Kansas City, and New York City. He visited Europe in about 1872. The partnership was dissolved in 1884, and Plankinton reorganized the business in Milwaukee as John Plankinton and Co., with Patrick Cudahy as his partner. John Plankinton retired from the business in 1888, and the major portion of the firm came under Cudahy's control. When John Plankinton died in 1891, his son William devoted himself to administering the Plankinton estate. In 1893 he organized the Plankinton Packing Co. to operate the Plankinton plant vacated by the removal of Cudahy Brothers to Cudahy, Wis., and was president of this firm until his death. He was prominently identified with the Layton Art Gallery, the Milwaukee Public Library and Public Museum, and the Milwaukee Chamber of Commerce.) Dinny returned home with a sizable collection of souvenir spoons from this great excursion. A devout Catholic, Dinny was very afraid of contracting an illness involving her throat. She was, as a consequence, highly devoted to St. Blaise, patron saint of all who suffer from throat ailments. Once every February 3rd is the “Feast of St. Blaise.” In those days, Catholic priests gave a special blessing to the throats of all Catholics attending church. It involved the placing of two candles tied in an X at the throat of the person receiving the blessing. Dinny never married.
During David's entire childhood his family lived in a three-story wood-frame house at 1924 North Cambridge, on Milwaukee’s near-northeast side.
“(1985) We had a wonderful maid, Anna, who came before I was born and died about 1932. She was a rather bulky farm girl, who lived in a room on the third floor, and occasionally complained about her wages of $10 / week. She had Thursday afternoon and Sundays off, but I don’t think she went anywhere. I was her special pet, though I teased and taunted her terribly.”
Dave said of the neighbors: “(1985) On one side, Charlie Gorman — a short-tempered, sourpuss, shirttail relative. On the other side, the Donahue family. Beyond them and across the street, a number of Polish families.”
“(1985) Christmas Eve Santa came in person, and I saw and talked to him through the banister. He was, in fact, my drunken Uncle Jim Graves, but he always left for me exactly what I asked for. Christmas night we had dinner with / at Dad’s sisters. Like Mother’s sisters, they had never been married — or anything!”
David had two brothers and one sister, each of whom were born before David. Excepting Benjamin Vincent Jr., David's parents gave each of their children Julia's maiden name for a middle name.
“(1985) Holy Rosary [Parish and] School was three blocks from home, no big deal. Some kids had to go much farther and I never quite knew how they got home for lunch and back in time for the afternoon! It was run by the BVM [Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary] nuns, a first class order of smart women. All of them must have been Irish because they taught us to sing “Wearin of the Green,’ ‘Irish Eyes,’ etc. at a very early age. They were also very big in the English language — grammar, syntax, diagrammed sentences — we should all have wound up with Churchillian mastery of the mother tongue! Several nuns I’ve never forgotten — Sisters Thaddeus, Dechantal, Ellenette — great teachers who’d never hesitate to administer a little corporal punishment when necessary — as it frequently was.”
“(1985) There were not a lot of cars around so we could use the streets to play touch football and softball. Any agility I may have stems from that I think. And our summer home at Pewaukee Lake provided similar action. A couple of scraggly dogs came and went. One was shot by a cop who had nothing else to do at the time.”
(See photo of the family at Mt. Vernon.) David described this trip: “(1985) In 1927, Dad [BVD Sr.] ‘borrowed’ a Packard ‘touring car’ and took the four of us on a two-week trip to New York and Washington. Ben did most of the driving, and the roads were mostly unpaved. In fourteen days we enjoyed about seventeen flat tires, which caused a few of the 'Myst Allcrytys' aforementioned. We stayed in tourist homes’ along the way, sort of a bed-and-breakfast of the time. Another year we all drove up north for David’s vacation. I think it took a whole day to get to Baraboo, about 150 miles away, and frequent flats were standard fare.”
In June of 1929, Benjamin V. Dela Hunt was one of fourteen prominent Milwaukee businessmen who joined forces to fill what they perceived to be a great need in the community — a conveniently located, independent bank that would specialize in meeting the financial needs of small- to medium-sized businesses, while still serving individuals. This goal was achieved with the creation of the State Bank of Milwaukee, 745 North 4th Street (since 1998 the site of the Midwest Airlines Center, Milwaukee’s principal convention facility). BVD was one of only two of the men who had banking experience, and he was the more senior of the two. The bank was projected to open on November 1.
On October 29, 1929, the stock market crashed. Across the country hundreds of banks were forced to close. In spite of the business climate, the State Bank of Milwaukee went ahead with its plans. It officially opened its doors for business on November 30, 1929, with assets of $501,814. A simple but effective tactic allowed the bank to remain unaffected by this financial disaster and the subsequent Depression: it maintained its customers’ confidence by keeping the currency visible inside the wired teller “cages.” Since customers could always see that the bank was solvent, few withdrawals were made. David was a Marquette High freshman.
In 1930 he and two buddies decided to place a prank call to the Milwaukee police. They falsely reported that students were rioting, were caught watching the arrival of police cars from the tower of the school, and promptly expelled. David completed his secondary education at Riverside High, a public school. Years later, whenever he drove through the old Riverside neighborhood, or the subject of that school entered a conversation, my father invariably pointed out, in a PR-slogan tone, “Riverside High: The Factory of Learning!” David never revealed the history of his expulsion from Marquette High until well after I had graduated from Marquette High. David loved to tell a colorful story, but as colorful as that episode might be from the distance of several decades, he didn't expose his children to this tale of misadventure until they were older than high school age themselves.
Meanwhile the Great Depression deepened. Like most Americans, the Dela Hunt family's day-to-day economy was pinched. David had grown up in the Jazz Age, alcoholic beverages having been prohibited by an amendment to the US Constitution. Nevertheless David enthusiastically explored the potential of partying. His father had few vices. BVD Sr. smoked cigarettes and a pipe, but he did not drink alcohol, he never drove a car, and he took long walks. David's grandfather on his mother's side (James Graves (1826-1883) died at 56 as a result of alcoholism. David said Jim Graves Jr. (died in 1925) was also a drunkard. David and his siblings, although faithful Catholics each of them, indulged in bootlegged drink. In fact, the Dela Hunt children came to refer to their house on Cambridge Avenue as “Hangover Hall,” to recognize over-indulgences from which they recovered there (a little history Dad was amused to share with his children about his youth only when his children were fully grown).
The year David graduated from high school, 1933, America's economic crisis was reaching new intensity. Business for his father's bank, the State Bank of Milwaukee, was so bad that Benjamin V. Dela Hunt resigned from it on Oct. 6, 1933. At 62 years old, he concluded that he should retire from business altogether. Anticipating later generations of retirees, he and his fellow-retiree, George F. Ruez (who was president of the bank while BVD was vice-president), found it appealing to move to a warmer climate. They both took residences in Edinburg, Texas within several months of leaving the bank. Edinburg is twenty miles from the US bordr with Mexico, and fifty miles from the Gulf of Mexico. (The bank survived the Depression, though its present  name is the Associated Commerce Bank.)
In 1934, Benjamin V. Dela Hunt Sr. urged David to join him in Edinburg to attend a junior college there. (Edinburg Junior College has since become University of Texas - Pan American, Edinburg.) He could live with his father while he went to school. David was happy to go.
While in Edinburg, he formed a life-long friendship with a fellow who was then a local radio personality named Garry Moore (1915-1993, his birth name was Garrison Morfit). Garry went on to host nationally televised game and variety shows during the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. He hosted The Garry Moore Show, and the game shows I've Got a Secret and To Tell the Truth. Our family was nearly always in "the audience at home."
While in Texas, David introduced Garry to a woman he knew. They later married. Ever after, Garry was grateful to Dad for having made the match. The two couples exchanged cards every Christmas. Garry spent his last years in South Carolina, where Sukey and Dave visited the Moores in [the late 1980s?].
After two years in Edinburg with his father, David returned to Milwaukee to attend Marquette University’s Law School in 1936. Among the jobs he held on the side was delivering ice to peoples’ homes for their use in “ice boxes” — before the era when everyone had a refrigerator.
Either while he was at Pan-American or at Marquette, David decided to try a little acting. [Documentation of this might be found in the school yearbooks.] He played the leading role of Petruchio in a college production of William Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew. Petruchio woos Katharine, weds her, and teaches her to find happiness in marriage.
Also during this period David met Suzanne Manierre. “(1985) Our paths crossed on a blind date arranged by Betty Leach Rummler in the fall of 1936. I was in Law School, she at Downer College. I was also gravely impecunious.” One wonders how much Dad's study of Petruchio's romantic methods of persuasion influenced his own. Mom later said that Dad occasionally recited various lines from memory.
David's father decided to spend the summer of 1939 in Vicksburg, Mississippi. He missed seeing his children though, and thought they'd like to take a vacation with him in the mountains. He invited David to join Mary and Tow to meet him in Nashville, Tennessee, in order to spend a week or so together for a family vacation. In a letter to a friend he sent five weeks later, BVD Sr. wrote that on June 7, 1939,
They were on time to the minute 4:45 PM. The occasion I assure you was a most Happy one. We proceeded to make the most of it. We visited in Knoxville, Chattanooga, & toured through the Great Smoky Reservation, a Park of 440 acres. Perfectly beautiful. Visualize if you can, Mary & me in back seat, R[obert] & D[avid] in front, covering a new, & strange (to us) country. I cannot express the Joy of it. Even tho I say it was Sublime. We swam in the Mountain streams & road Horse Back over Mt. Trails. The weather was perfect, and the People we met were Most Friendly, which of course increased our Happiness. (We also visited the Great Norris Dam — quite an Eye Opener. I bid Good Bye to the children in Louisville after having visited the Celebrated Racing Stables plus Churchill Downs. I have rec’d letters from each of the children stating that they enjoyed the visit immensely, and that the Trip was one of Great Happiness. Vicksburg is a very interesting City, pop 20 M+ [with a population greater than 20,000]. Many Historical Battle Fields to look over. I expect to remain here several weeks.
On August 7th, eighteen days after writing this letter, David's father suffered a heart attack. He was taken to a hospital, but died three days later. The body was transported to Milwaukee by train, a funeral held at Holy Rosary Church, the burial at Holy Cross Cemetery. In three weeks Hitler's military machine invaded Poland, plunging all of Europe into World War II.
When asked to remember the words with which he proposed marriage, David quoted himself (1985) saying, “’What do you think?’ and she said, ‘Lets!!!’” Mom’s parents had been unenthusiastic about the couple’s marrying. Both George and Katharine Manierre were descendants of English and French Protestants. They, their parents and grandparents had all been college graduates. Their forebears had been Americans since the 17th and 18th centuries. David’s parents were Irish Catholics, neither had attended college, although his father had been a successful banker until his retirement in the Depression. David's grandparents had fled from Ireland in the mid-19th century, worked their way up from poverty, and may have been illiterate. A family story overheard in the 1980s is that in the late 1930s both David's and Suzanne's parents hired detectives to investigate the other family’s stories. In spite of this classic family friction (reminiscent of the Capulets and the Montagues), David and Suzanne made up their minds, and went ahead with their plans to marry, even without Suzanne’s family’s involvement. The wedding occurred on November 23, 1940, in St. Paul’s Chapel, a Catholic church tied to the University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI. David said (1985) that to his wedding he wore a, “jacket, slacks, and a big smile.” It was, “a lovely fall day. Fr. Kutchera presided. Only Mary and Bob Crowley [my sister and brother-in-law] and Tow [my brother Bob] were present. But there were thousands in Madison for the annual Wisconsin – Minnesota [football] game, which somebody won. Who cared? [We spent our honeymoon at] the Majestic (and only) Hotel in Oconomowoc. Our cash flow was minimal, and we both had to be at work on Monday.”
In 1940 David graduated with a degree in law. Newly married, and with a child, he went to work for the Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company. A&P was a large grocery store chain, and David was given the job of supervising the management of several stores. [?]
David and Suzanne’s first child, David Graves Junior was born July 17, 1941.
Following surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, December 7, the U.S. declared war on Japan, Germany, and the other Axis powers. David Senior enlisted in the U.S. Navy. With his degree in law, David was eligible for an immediate commission as an officer.
(See a photo of Dad, July, 1943, in the uniform in which he was first commissioned, as Ensign in the U.S. Navy. He was later promoted to Lieutenant.
Although he briefly toyed with volunteering to train as a bomb-disposal specialist [the official term?], the Navy gave David command of a “Pogie Boat.” [also spelled "pogey"] [This is a nickname. What's the official term for this vessel?] His principal mission was to rescue fliers who had crashed in the Gulf of Mexico near the shores of Texas and Florida. At various times David was stationed in Atlantic Beach, Jacksonville Beach, Neptune Beach, Daytona Beach, Fort Lauderdale, and New Smyrna, Florida; Corpus Christi and Port Aransas, Texas. [Were there other locations?]
One night while David was on duty, he felt he had to get to a phone to contact Suzanne. [His reason?] In order to do so he decided he had to break a window to get to a phone. David's superior punished him for breaking the window by requiring him to remain in his quarters for five days. This would not have been so dismaying if his parents-in-law hadn’t just arrived for a visit, making his absence the cause of some awkwardness.
At some point around this time [when?] Dad decided that it would be best to change the way he wrote his last name — from his father's Dela Hunt to Delahunt, capitalizing it the way BVD Sr's father, Patrick Delahunt, had spelled it. [Why had BVD Sr. changed it to Dela Hunt? Perhaps he thought it looked more sophisticated?] Dad's brother Tow maintained BVD Sr's "Dela Hunt," while Benjamin Jr. styled it as "Dela-Hunt."
[There's big gap in the story here. Help!]
In the spring of 1980, Suzanne and David shared a plane ride across the Atlantic Ocean. Suzanne had traveled to Europe in the 1930s, but David had never gone there before. The purpose of the trip: to get a good look at Ireland, the land of his grandparents, a connection he avidly celebrated every St. Patrick's (birth)day. They rented a car in Dublin, and in a week or so, drove around the perimeter of Erin's Isle in a clockwise direction. They were delighted by everything they saw, particularly charmed by the Dingle Peninsula, partly for its name no doubt. David said he always kept an eye out to spot evidence of the family name, and this readiness was greatly rewarded. About fifty miles short of their return to Dublin, making their way through the town of Wicklow, County Wicklow, they were startled by the big gold letters of a sign on a block-long store that proclaimed "S.V. Delahunt & Co." Stopping immediately, they learned that a man named Sylvester Delahunt owned and operated this mercantile company, an adjacent tavern, a real estate business, the local bottling plant for Guinness Brewing Company, and who knows what else. They were directed to S.V. Delahunt's residence, on the edge of town, an estate known as Seafield House. Introducing themselves to Sylvester V. Delahunt, his wife [Anne?], daughters Aisling, [?] and [?], [who else?], all embraced with great conviviality. David and Suzanne happily accepted their Irish cousins' invitation to spend a few days in their home. The "blood relationship" between the Wicklow and the Milwaukee branches was never charted at all, but its basis was never doubted. David spoke of the Wicklow branch as his wealthy irish connection, mocking references American Irishmen have been known to make to their kin who remaned in the Old Sod. Suzanne and David brought some Irish peat home with them to show to family and friends. Over the years to follow, a growing number of Milwaukee Delahunts became fast friends with their Wicklow counterparts, and various Wicklow Delahunts came to Wisconsin to reciprocate. Before leaving their Irish kin, inquiries led them to a nearby cemetery where they saw, and Mom made rubbings of, the gravestones of numerous Delahunts who've "gotten away." (An Irish euphemism for "died" that Dad absorbed from his reading of Leon Uris's Trinity. David loved this novel published in 1976. Set in Ireland, a young Catholic rebel and a beautiful Protestant girl are immersed in the Irish struggle for independence.) Suzanne and David were amused to find gravestones on which the family name was spelled and capitalized in an amazing variety of ways — Delahunt, Dolahaunt, De La Hunt, etc. — suggesting either numerous schisms, rampant illiteracy, or both!
David had many occasions to celebrate over the years, and many were the weddings of his children.
(See the photo in which he stands beside Suzanne, bride Katie and groom Kevin, [1982?].)
Dealing with a future son-in-law
Mark Harrington: In 1976, a young, slightly unkempt man (myself) began dating DGD Sr's middle daughter, Julie. As the relationship progressed, I had a chance to meet all the Delahunt family and was impressed with their devotion to each other and the light-heartedness with which they approached nearly everything. Eventually, Julie and I decided to share living arrangements. I was driving a Plymouth Fury and Julie had an AMC hatchback. One afternoon, we drove to the family home, "Central", in our cars to load them up with all of Julie's worldly possessions. This would have been difficult for any father to embrace at that time, and was something DGD Sr had never had to face before. As we were preparing to leave, he stepped up to me on the front lawn, shook my hand and said "Don't think I'm reading from a script, here!" I always thought it was the perfect thing to say; conveying a multitude of emotions (of BOTH of us) in a concise and creative way.
David took a great interest in creative uses of words, sometimes coining them himself.
He gave his children nicknames:
David Jr. Dana [DAN-eh] [What's the history of this nickname?]
Stephen Bewere, B [What's the history of these nicknames?]
Katharine Berger, and Tassie-Tassenberger for long [What's the history of these nicknames? Tassie was a sibling's baby-talk for Kathy, then Dad extended Tassie into Tassie-Tassenberger?]
Michael Bean, Beaner, Beanmeier, and Bean Brain [What's the history of these nicknames?]
Julia Doody Goose, and Dood [What's the history of these nicknames? Doody was a sibling's baby-talk for Julie, then Dad extended Julie into Doody Goose?]
Mary Jane Putzyputz [pütz pronounced like books] [What's the history of this nickname?]
Kevin Pevinator Pooperator [What's the history of this nickname?]
He gave two of his grandchildren nicknames:
Emily Copps Person [What's the history of this nickname?]
Andrew Copps Party [What's the history of this nickname?]
David enjoyed his command of a huge vocabulary. The magazine Reader’s Digest offered a vocabulary test, and David often took its challenge, always achieving a perfect score. David also liked lots of exotic words like "impecunious" and "obsequies." He added to his vocabularies by inventing and drawing from many languages. He appeared to have a greater knowledge of Yiddish than many of his Jewish friends.
David was an avid user of what he said was his father’s abbreviation language. Here are some of the words and phrases he commonly spoke in this cryptic tongue:
G. B. Goodbye.
G. N. Good night.
T. t’ G. t’ B. Time to go to bed. …as in “It’s T. t’ G. t’ B., Pevinator Pooperator.”
P. G. Pretty good. …as in “That’s P.G.”
P. N. Pretty nummy. …“nummy” being family baby-talk for tasty, delicious
T. S. Tough stuff. [tough shit, more likely!]
G. me a C. Give me a cigarette.
C. the D. Close the door.
O. the D. Open the door.
T. O. the L. Turn off (or on) the light. ... Variants might include “T. O. the TV” for
“Turn off the television,” or “T. O. the FM” for “Turn on the FM radio."
(FM is an abbreviation for the range of radio stations broadcasting on
the portion of a radio’s dial termed “frequency modulation.”)
G. to the J. Go to the john (toilet).
F. off the F. Feet off the furniture.
P. O’d Pissed off (annoyed, dismayed)
P. the S. ‘n’ P. Pass the salt and pepper shakers.
David’s vocabulary also included phrases originating in other ways
Baby talk from Dad's siblings or his children
bizzert [b’-ZERT] dessert
biz shortened form of bizzert
nummy as a noun: food or food that tastes good; as an adjective: tasty, delicious
ordeen orange juice
peatie peanut butter
soogy [SÜ-gee] sugar
toiley toilet paper, bathroom tissue
wuddies his youngest children [This was a relative term.
Mary Jane and Kevin were last to be in this group.]
Yiddish, German and other eastern European influences
kraust [krahwst] a euphemism for “Christ” [?]
uppenzee getten Get up. Sometimes shortened to “Uppenzee.”
sittenzee down Sit down. Sometimes shortened to “Sittenzee.”
shotski Broken. As in “That thing used to work fine, but now it's shotski.”
Body parts and expletives
fezahzah [f’-ZAH-ZAH] buttocks
donecker [DAH-n’-k’r] penis
shorts expletive, alternative to “shit”
Phrases taken from Milwaukeeans with immigrant heritage
Fitcha git dat say? Gimme dat. You get anuhdah one.
Where did you get that? Give it to me. Get a different one for yourself.
(Credited by Dad to one of his childhood playmates)
See once. I’ll take a look, let’s have a look.
Other favorite phrases
tapioca Broke, no money available. As in "I'd pay for it, but I'm tapioca."
This borrows the word for a specific type of pudding, because its
first syllable tap- reminded him of the tap or spigot that allows beer
to flow from a barrel. When a beer barrel is empty it is said to be
David as a Businessman
In the 1950s, David worked for Milprint [sp? as Sales Manager or?], a Milwaukee company that was a pioneer in the manufacture of plastic (polyethylene) bags. Most bags until this time had been either paper or fabric. David Delahunt Sr. was the head of his company’s marketing programs. Their principal clients were fruit and vegetable growers and distributors. One of David’s innovations was bags that had small holes punched in them to allow for air to flow through them.
A branch of his company produced the small cast plastic toys that were given away in boxes of cereal, and he brought them home to give to his children. One of these was a tiny gray submarine that had a compartment in which to put baking soda. When placed in water, the baking soda’s reaction with the water was to propel it.
For many years David was an insurance salesman who found his clients in several counties north of Milwaukee. For some time he worked for a locally formed company, General Life of Wisconsin. He told stories about many of his customers, and the towns they lived in or near. He amused us by calling the hotel he frequented in Chilton, Wisconsin, “The Chilton Hilton,” although its actually name was something else entirely. He made sales to several patriarchs in Howards Grove, Wisconsin, and was amused by their Dutch names. The one that amused him most was that of Mr. Weeberdink-Rohrdink.
During several days in January of 1954, while David was away from Milwaukee on a business trip, his Aunt Dinny died. No one was able to contact him to tell him about it, or about her funeral. When he returned a day too late he wept and wept, at her loss, and that he had missed seeing her one last time — either alive or at her wake.
Later David sold such investments as mutual funds. One company whose products he represented was Vanguard.
When enlisted to tell a bedtime story, David often told one about a child named Scabootch. David said that his father had told Scabootch stories to Dad's brothers and sisters. Cousins have confirmed this. Perhaps the tradition of Scabootch originated many generations back — from somewhere deep within our Celtic ancestry.
Each telling of a Scabootch story was different from all others, but every one followed the same pattern.
1 Scabootch was a child much like the listener(s).
2 Every story began with Scabootch preparing for bed by doing all the things good children do. He would take a bath, brush teeth, put on pajamas, put away the clothes of the day, say a prayer, get in bed, kiss his mother and father, pull up the covers, and close his eyes.
3 Once he was cozy, Scabootch’s bedroom window opened (and the listener’s might be opened if the weather permitted it), the bed rose from the floor (the listener’s might shake), and “gazoopy-gazoopy-gazoom,” Scabootch in his bed flew outside, happily soared up high into the night sky, above trees and houses, observing stars and the moon, and one landmark after another before landing somewhere far away, just as the sun was rising.
4 Dave selected Scabootch’s destination. Perhaps it was suggested by a topic at dinner, something on the news, or a curious memory. He might take a suggestion, but he made the final choice — most likely a town, city, or region with which his listeners had shown some aptitude to make a connection.
5 He’d describe important traits of the environment where Scabootch and his bed would land — plant and land forms, weather, buildings, etc., and shortly introduced Scabootch to one or more children he encountered, each of an age similar to those of listeners, and each new acquaintance eager to become Scabootch’s newest friend.
6 This charming person (or persons) immediately included Scabootch in a string of adventures, the sort children are apt to enjoy. They’d be fun, worthwhile, and reveal important aspects of another culture. There might be a game, an encounter with a strange animal, unusual technology, a visit to a school, a meal with the family. These adventures would continue until the storyteller felt it was time to wind things down. Scabootch found it best to get back into his bed, waved goodbye as his bed ascended again, and returned him to his bedroom, where he opened his eyes to find himself in his own bedroom.
7 The end of the story comes with Scabootch looking under his pillow to find some tiny souvenirs of his adventures. There would be a miniature version of the plate of food just described. If Scabootch had ridden a horse he would find a tiny copy of the original. If he had seen the Eiffel Tower Scabootch would find a tiny model of it. Listeners might suggest something, and sure enough, it was among the things Scabootch found under his pillow.
The Candle Story
Among the other stories David told, and for which his children begged, was one he'd sometimes tell after a dinner, as the family sat around the table, all lights out except for one candle David placed to illuminate his face. Then he'd begin, saying:
One very rainy afternoon a traveling salesman was driving along some small country roads. When it was very late in the day, and as the sky grew ever-darker he realized he'd better find a place to spend the night. Coming into a small town, he saw a hotel on the Main Street. The entrance was oddly dark, but opening the door he walked in. several candles had been lit and sat on tables in the lobby. He approached the front desk, and rang the bell he found there.
A balding gentleman came out from another room. The hotelman said with a stammer (stutter), "W-w-welcome s-sir. W-we've h-had a p-power outage, w-what with the s-storm and all. W-w-would you care to take a r-room for the n-n-night?"
The salesman was from the north, so, of course, he spoke out of the north of his mouth, like this: [push lower lip out and up while speaking] "Yes," he said, "I would like a room with a single bed if you please."
"S-s-sign r-right here, s-sir," he said, handing the salesman his key. "Y-you can t-take th-this c-c-candle, sir. J-just be sure to p-put it out before you f-f-fall asleep."
The salesman took the candle, just like this one, carried it to his room, opened his suitcase, got ready for bed, and once he was ready to get under the covers, turned to the candle. Taking a breath, he blew. [Blow upward, leaving the candle lit.] With some frustration, the salesman picked up the phone beside him, and rang the front desk.
He heard the man who'd checked him answer, "F-f-front d-desk."
"[Lower lip out, hold telephone to ear.] That candle you gave me. Can't seem to blow it out."
"I-I-I'll s-send someone r-right up, sir."
In a couple of minutes there was a knock on the door. [Knock on table.] The salesman opened it. Here was a woman from the south. When she spoke, it was, of course, from the south side of her mouth. She said, [push upper lip out and down while speaking] "I'm here to blow out your candle, sir." She walked to the candle, and leaned toward it. [Blow downward several times, the candle remaining lit.] "Sorry, sir. This is a stubborn candle. Someone else will have to blow it out. Goodnight sir." And with slight curtsy, she left the room.
The salesman was disappointed because he was getting drowsy. He picked up the phone, dialed the front desk, and said, [lower lip out, phone to ear] "The woman you sent couldn't blow out my candle."
"M-m-my g-goodness, sir. I-I'll send someone else right away!"
And not a minute later there was a knock on the door. [Knock on table.] It was a man from the east, so of course he spoke from the east side of his mouth. [Open only the left side of mouth, keeping the right side closed.] "I'm going to blow your candle out for you sir," he said, and put his face near the candle. [Blow stronger and stronger puffs of air, but direct breath to the left, leaving the flame lit.] "Excuse me sir, but this is a very strong flame you have. I'm afraid I can't blow it out." He threw up his hands and left the room.
The salesman shook his head, picked up the phone, and dialed "O."
"Y-yes?" the man at the front desk said hopefully.
"[Lower lip out, annoyed, phone to ear.] That man couldn't put out my candle either."
"W-well, I'll s-send up someone who'll put your c-candle out r-r-right away, s-s-sir. D-don't you w-worry."
And not a moment later came a knock. [Knock on table.] This was a woman from the west, so you can imagine what side of her mouth she spoke from. "[Open only the right side of mouth, close the left.] Here to blow out the candle, sir." [Lean in, blow, breath passing to the right of the flame.]
"[Extend lower lip.] That's IT! Go tell that man at the desk to get up here himself! I can't stay awake ALL NIGHT!"
And sure enough, the man from the front desk arrived very shortly.
"I-I-I'm s-so sorry sir," he said. "Th-there won't be any more trouble with th-this candle. Because a-all you have to d-do, [wetting fingertips,] is p-p-pinch it out." [Pinch the flame when saying the word "pinch." It goes out. Someone else should T. O. the L.]
David retired in [was it 1983 or?].
Dad was the principal organizer of the 50th anniversary reunion of his 1933 class at Riverside High School.
David Graves Delahunt Sr. died in Milwaukee on November 27, 1990, four days after celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of his wedding to Suzanne Manierre. He was 74 years old. The cause of death: lung and heart ailments resulting from his lifelong smoking of cigarettes.
The president of David's Gyro Club sent this message to each of Gyro's members:
"Every once in a while life is made a little sweeter by someone with a special knack for adding something pleasant to the moment each time we see him.
"Gyro lost a member with that rare gift when Dave Delahunt, as he would have said, 'got away" last week.
"Dave was an effortless practicianer of the Gyro spirit of friendship. Because he was totally comfortable with everyone, he sat at a different table each Thursday sharing his good humor, expressed in a private blend of the king's English and Irish blarney.
If you don't miss him, you weren't listening."
Some topics about which to add info / anecdotes
* Roman Catholicism, keeping the faith, Vatican II, etc.
* Holy Rosary
* St. Roberts, Santa Monica, helping start a new parish in between them: Holy Family, Fr. Wallet [sp?], Fr. Staskounis [sp?]
* Attending other parish churches. Taking his family to attend a Mass celebrated by Fr. Groppi [sp?] in this activits priest's "Inner Core" church during the racial turmoil of the late 1960s
* Holy Angels, the parish church in one of Milwaukee's predominantly African American neighborhoods, attended in the 1980s and 90s
* St. Patrick's Day Birthday
* others' birthdays
* 4th of July
* Christmas — putting up the elves, playing Santa, cookies from a lady-friend
* Manierre cottage at Lake Mills
* camping in Bailey’s harbor, Ephraim, and other places
* renting a cottage near Plymouth
* renting a cottage near Eagle River
* borrowing blankets from a hotel in Alamosa, Colo.
* tenting in Three-Turkey Canyon and Canyon de Chelly with Manierres — Kraust! What a huge rain!
* badminton, tennis, golf, baseball
* spectating in-person, via tv and radio
Gyro, and other socializing
* Gyro —
David was an enthusiastic, active member of the men’s club “Gyro.” He was considered something of a “king-maker” in the local group, because so many men became its leaders due to his influence. Please insert some of the gems you have stashed away from the letters Dad wrote as Gyro's secretary.
* Rudy’s on Burleigh, and other watering holes
* his buddies [what did he call them?] in various places
* Republican leanings. He refused to post bumperstickers, etc., in order to avoid offending clients.
* Finagling his way onto a stage with Wendell Willkie, Republican, presidential candidate opposing F.D.R. in 1940 [There's a newspaper photo of this. Anyone know how to find it?] The word "finagle" is an American expression from the early twentieth century which might have had either Gaelic or Yiddish roots — a little like Dad!
* Pajama rides
* drives in the country
* Helping to deliver newspapers, percolating coffee
* Green stripe in the middle of Hampton Road
* paying bills
* snoozing on the couch
* clearing his throat when son or daughter participates in a public event
at dining room and kitchen tables
mention/discussion of/educating about the-birds-and-the-bees
Appearing on TV to advertise Very Fine Ice Cream, circa 1955. Do you have any idea how to obtain a photo of this episode?[Okay, so what are YOUR memories?!?!]