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Staying Informed And Involved Sharing Memories With Douglas Yantz
Tuesday December 29, 2015
By Cookie Steponaitis
Douglas Yantz, Sr. was born into an America in transition on December 12, 1921 and grew up at a time when the future of the nation was set in motion. While Doug’s life at first centered around the farm that he, his parents and four other siblings lived on and the chores that he did, Doug sensed that America was changing. Fast forward ninety-four years and Douglas Yantz, Sr. still feels the same way. Doug is an avid golfer and still active at 94 and follows all the political debates, issues and feels that once again America is at a turning point. “Now I have to say up front I am a Republican,” shared Doug. “It is the safety of our people and the economy that have together taken up my mind as issues to watch. I remember back when President Clinton and Newt Gingrich locked horns. They could not agree politically on anything but they worked to reach a compromise. That’s what these leaders need to do now instead of taking their position. They need to see America’s position.”
Doug grew up in Williston and Charlotte doing his share of farm chores and learning the ropes about life in a one-room school in Charlotte. His greatest teacher was a lady named Mildred Burley and as Doug explained it, “I thought misbehaving was the thing to do and she quickly straightened me out on that one. To this day I thank her for that.” Doug’s family moved to Waltham, Vermont in 1936 and purchased a farm with 200 plus acres and 50 Holsteins. Many things on the farm were self-taught and Doug developed the approach to life that if there was something you wanted to learn to do; you simply went out and learned to do it.
World War Two was pivotal in Doug’s life because it took him to the Philippines as a paratrooper and performing eleven jumps into hot spots in service for his country. Doug and the other paratroopers not only scouted out the positions of the enemy but found and assembled the Howitzer that had been airdropped with them in six different pieces on a static line in less than five minutes doing so on many different occasions.
Doug married his sweetheart Pearl Emma Danyow on November 11, 1944 which was a moment in his life that still brings a smile to his face. “We met at a square dance in New Haven,” grinned Doug. “And before you ask, yes she was a great dancer and no I wasn’t.” The couple had five children Jacqueline, Laura, Douglas, Jr., Billy and Sally and was always together until Pearl’s passing in 2008. Doug paused and offered a little advice for new couples just starting out, “Love and marriage is more than just words. It is a partnership. Agree with each other sometimes even if you don’t agree. Each of you have your own hobbies, but always have the family be the focus and being a family.” While Doug had his treasured woodworking shop and created desks and objects for the couple’s fourteen grandchildren and just as many great grandchildren, Pearl had her love of stained glass. When asked how the couple learned these wonderful pastimes Doug simply grinned and added, “She bought a book and just started doing them. I got the tools and then I learned how to use them.” Music is also a part of the family and son Billy played in a popular band from the 60’s, “The Galaxies” and Doug has many wonderful memories of Pearl playing her organ in church and people singing and enjoying the holidays. While the couple worked at places including Bell Aircraft, Simmons Precision and IBM, it was their home that was the place to return to and be the center point.
When the couple first started out they had huge gardens on the farm and canned and prepared meat and meals preserving over 90% of the fresh crop. “I remember Pearl had a brass double boiler and she would layer jars of preserves and meat. We would get them to the right temperature and seal them. It was a lot of work but truly a lot of fun.” While the years continue to roll by two hallmarks of Doug’s life continue to be a part of every day. “My dad used to tell me,” reflected Doug, “Get up early. Do a good day’s work and be on time!” When the weather permits you can find Doug wanting a game of golf at Rocky Ridge or Cedar Knolls. “I just love hitting that ball,” concluded Doug. “You watch it soar through the air and you follow it. If you hit it wrong you have to do it over and plan again your course of attack. It is a joy to play.”
As the interview drew to a close Doug moved to his dresser and pulled out a copy of a worn book that showed it had been read many times over. “Do your students see this and use it?” he queried since this reporter is a classroom teacher. It was a copy of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. “It all comes down to this book,” Doug stated. “They have to know it, use it and defend it.” Strong ideas from a man and generation that gave us America as we know it today and are watching with interest and concern as to how the next generation will take the reins and lead.
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