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101-year-old has ‘been there, done that’ PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, July 02, 2013 11:59 PM


Staff Writer

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DELPHOS— From growing up through the Depression era of the 1920s to experiencing the atrocities of world wars to seeing the incredible technological advancements of the past century—and everything in between—Bernice Dupler has seen it all.

It was July 4, 1912, when this little firecracker came into the world. A time when a new car sold for $650, a loaf of bread cost 4 cents and a gallon of gas was 11 cents. Compared to today’s prices, those costs seem unbelievable; however, the average monthly take home pay was only $1,260.

She was a coal miner’s daughter who learned to live off the land in an oil- and coal-rich countryside. Her family grew and canned much of their own vegetables, slaughtered and smoked the meat of their own farm animals and made enough food for a huge Sunday dinner that would feed the family through the later part of the week.

“My Dad began working in the mines when he was 9 years old,” Dupler sifted through the images in her mind. “I remember all the slack piles (residuals washed off the coal) and huge coal piles.”

After graduating from high school, Dupler married and started a family—she had three girls—and not long after the youngest child was born, she divorced and took a job at the Egg Auction.

“I walked five miles to work in the snow, rain and with ice on the roads and it was pitch black,” Dupler said with vigor. “Then I walked five miles back home.”

The girls were taken care of by their grandmother while Dupler worked. There weren’t monetary payments in the form of alimony or child support, since they did not exist at that time.

Living in the foothills of the Appalachian region, technology was slow to come to the area. Cars, telephones and televisions were truly a luxury. Dupler walked the steep, hilly terrain for four years to and from her work in Nelsonville before she bought her first car.

“I cried once, while I walked to work,” she said emphatically. “I made up my mind that I was not going to cry anymore.”

Bernice Dupler, left, and her friend Avril take a break from work outside the Egg Auction building in Nelsonville. (Submitted photo)After the Egg Auction moved to Somerset, Ohio, Dupler traveled there for work each day. In 1958, she was offered an inspector’s position at Gressel Produce by the owner Phil Gressel.

“He [Phil] was just getting started when he offered me the job,” she recalled.

Dupler moved to Delphos in 1959 with her youngest daughter, Nancy (Hawk) Rosen, who was a high school senior at the time and attended Jefferson Senior High, which is now Jefferson Middle School.

Delphos had much more to offer the family—a job with the State of Ohio and the conveniences of living in a small town versus in the rolling hills of a countryside. Dupler’s job was to inspect and double-check all the eggs that passed through a huge candling machine.

“I held two eggs in each hand and twisted them around, checking the shape,” Dupler said. “The shell would indicate if it was a good egg.”

Dupler spent the rest of her career at Gressel Produce and retired in the early 1980s. As a member of the Methodist Church, Dupler spent a great deal of time volunteering at the Interfaith Thrift Store. She now resides in Vancrest Health Care Center and loves having people drop by to reminisce about working at Gressel’s, the Thrift Store or any other topic of interest.

Bernice Dupler joins her siblings for a celebration of her parent’s 50th wedding anniversary. From the left, Max Kinnear, Curtis Kinnear, Sarah and Guy Kinnear, Bernice Dupler and Elenore Vore. (Submitted photo)Currently, Dupler’s family includes five generations: three daughters; nine grandchildren; 13 great-grandchildren; and eight great-great-grandchildren.


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