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Family History

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BC: Today, Dear Lord, I'm 80 and there is much I haven't done. I hope, Dear Lord, you'll let me live until I'm 81. But then if I haven't finished all I want to do Would you let me stay a while until I'm 82? So many places I want to go So very much to see. Do you suppose you could manage to make it 83? The world is changing fast. There is so much more in store. I'd like to very much live to 84. And if by then I'm still alive I would like to stay 'til 85. More plays are in the air So I would really like to see what sticks And see what happens to the world when I'm 86. I know, Dear Lord, it's much to ask And it must be nice in Heaven But I would really like to stay until I'm 87. I know by then I won't be fast and sometimes will be late But it would be so pleasant to be around at 88. I will have seen so many things and had a wonderful time So I'm not so sure I'll be willing to leave at the age of 89. Just one more thing I'd like to say, Dear Lord and I thank you kindly. But if it is OK with you, I'd love to live past 90. Well, Now that I am 90, what more is there to say? Actually, hitting 100 will really make my day. Making jewelry and grab bags, sitting out with friends. Drinking Maxwell House instant coffee Eating tomato sandwiches and wearing my Depends I've had a dream for years now to celebrate that day, I'd like to parasail high above broad blue Cape Cod Bay. So let me turn 100 with everybody here All my friends and my family Everyone I hold Dear.

FC: The First 90 Years | Doris Sobzak: The First 90 Years

1: Front row, left to right: Doris' mother Delia Mathieu, and uncles Louis and Francis Mathieu. Back row: Aunts Rose, Vickie, and Anna Mathieu. | The Roaring '20s | That's Doris' mother Delia on the right above. | Lillian pulls Jeannette and baby Doris on their sled through the Chicopee snow during the winter of '24. | It was the Roaring 20s, the Jazz Age. Warren G. Harding was President, movies were still silent, photos were black-and-white. In 1923 -- January 4th, to be exact -- Doris Martin was born to Delia (Mathieu) Martin and Hermanegilde Martin (pictured on the right). She had been preceded by sisters Lillian and Jeannette, and would be followed by sister Cecile in 1927. The Martin-Mathieu union created a large, boisterous family. Growing up in the largely French-Canadian neighborhood of Aldenville (part of Chicopee), the children were accustomed to taking care of each other. Doris was a happy child with many friends and cousins. She would spend the next ninety years raising a large family with the lessons learned in a rowdy industrial town in Western Massachusetts. | That's Doris' uncle Francis Mathieu (better known to some as "Uncle Francie", to others as "Indian Joe") in front of the car. | The two women on the right above are Doris' aunts Vikie and Rose, and that's baby Doris in the carriage.

2: Becoming a teenager in the 1930s | The 1930's was not an easy decade in which to grow up. The Great Depression affected every aspect of life. But Doris wasn't one to let it change her outlook. She was -- and still is -- the eternal optimist, always ready to work hard and enjoy her friends. On this page are a few portraits from the 1930s. To the right, she's on the bottom of a pile of friends. At the bottom right is a picture of her when she was 15 years old. As can be seen from these pictures, Doris grew up as a happy, beautiful woman. | When she was a young girl, Doris learned to "make do" with what was available. Since there was no money for gum, she and her friends would chew on pieces of soft tar from newly paved roads. One time, she wanted to earn a few pennies for candy, so she took her step-mother's corset and went running after the rag-man, hoping to exchange it for money. It's probably a good thing her step-mother was running right behind her. | Memories

3: Doris' mother -- Delia Mathieu -- had sixteen brothers and sisters; while her father -- Hermenegilde Martin -- had thirteen. Needless to say, there was a huge number of cousins in the family. Among them were some of Doris' closest friends. In the photo on the left, the front row consists of cousins Lorraine (LeClerc) Rivers, Doris (Martin) Sobzak, and Rose "Skippy" (LeClerc) Robert. Behind Skippy is her husband, Roger Robert. Pictured in the left photo below is Doris' step-mother Julia (Earley) Martin. | Family and friends in the 1940s | On the left is Doris' half brother, Alfred. In the bottom row on the left is half brother Henry. In the center are half brothers Roland and Alfred flanking a friend. Below are Roland and Alfred.

4: 1940s bring marriage and war... | On January 31, 1941, 18-year-old Doris Martin married Walter Sobzak, a handsome 20-year-old printer's assistant. On December 7th of the same year, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, and World War II began for the U.S. Soon, Walter joined the Marines and headed for boot camp, leaving his young bride behind. On the pages are a few pictures that show the young couple. Walter always took pride in his appearance and even back then could be considered a "sharp-dressed man". | Although they were apart during much of the war, apparently they managed to spend a little time together, because bundle #1, Patricia Delia Sobzak was born on Nov. 14, 1942 in Holyoke. She was the first, but she certainly wouldn't be the last.

5: ... and kids | The early to mid-1940s were a challenging time for Doris and Walt. With a young family to support on the salary of an enlisted man, it was difficult to afford many luxuries. As the decade wore on and the war ended, Walt took a job at Savage Arms Co. in Chicopee - a job he would hold for nearly 20 years. On Feb. 19, 1946, the second bundle would arrive in the form of Carol Ann Sobzak, one of the first so-called "baby boomers". Finally, on August 1, 1948, the Sobzak family welcomed daughter #3, JoAnne Margaret Sobzak. It was a productive decade! | Walt Sobzak is pictured above holding Pat, while his mother Petronella (Targ) Sobzak assists with Pat's doll. Below right, Pat and Carol confer with Santa. | Memories One of Walt's favorite stories was about going to the doctor and being asked about the broken condition of his nose. When Walt told him it was broken in two places, the doctor advised him to stay out of those places.

6: 1950s see changes ... and more kids | Pat and Carol in the back, Walter Jr. and JoAnne in the front. | Below, Doris' sisters Jeannette Williamson and Lillian Talbot with husband Art Talbot (hidden), and Pauline Talbot. In the front are JoAnne and cousin Diane Williamson. | As the Sobzak's entered 1950, the family had grown to five. By the end of the year, it would grow again. Walter Sobzak, Jr. ("Wally") was born on Nov. 26, 1950. A couple of years later, the family moved into an old farmhouse in Granby. No running water and equipped with an outhouse, it was a "home" nonetheless. | In 1955, Doris and Walt bought their first house on Chauncey Walker Rd. in Belchertown. It was a comfortable rural life they led. The times were much simpler, and they enjoyed exploring the acres of land on which the house sat, or crowding into the car to go to the drive-in. | Dad and the four kids posing in Belchertown, around 1956.

7: As the 1950s neared their end, there was one more surprise in store for Doris and Walt. One October 8, 1958, Rita Marie Sobzak entered the world, nearly 16 years after Pat was born. Above, Walt and Doris -- dressed to the nines -- pose in the front yard of the Belchertown house. Top right: School pictures for the four who were around in 1956. Right: Pat on her throne as Junior Prom Queen. Below right, two Walters: One in typical clowning around pose, the other with black "leather" jacket and faux-cigarette, a la Marlon Brando. | Memories | In Belchertown, Pat was planning a dance party, so she and Doris tore down the front deck to use as a dance platform. When Walt replaced the old deck with cement stairs. he used lots of bulky objects for fill, including the old kitchen sink. JoAnne would earn money by sitting on neighbor Preston Atwood's hay baler and blow a whistle when a bale became tangled. For every tangled bale, she earned a penny. Carol really wanted a horse, but all the family could afford was a calf. Not a problem... she rode the calf around the yard instead.

8: 1960s: New houses and grandchildren | In 1960, Doris, Walt, and the kids moved into a brand new house on Paper Mill Road in Westfield. Known as the "pink house" because of its distinctive color, it was a busy place with five growing kids. A couple of years later, they would move into another new house on Elizabeth Ave., just a few hundred yards away from the old house. Doris was always working. Whether it was selling Avon or working at the flea market, she was a natural salesperson. Her charm and bubbly nature automatically draws people to her. Doris and Walt both enjoyed working at the flea market, where they specialized in selling beads and jewelry. To this day, Doris can't pass a tag sale without stopping. | During the '60s, Walt began working for the post office, where he won a number of awards for his suggestions for improving workplace efficiency. In 1963, Pat and Bob were married (pictured below). That's JoAnne on the right, Carol is third from the right, Pat in the middle, Walt Jr. second from the left, and Rita is the flower girl. A few years later (bottom right), Walter Jr. had gained a height differential over JoAnne.

9: In January, 1966, Doris and Walt celebrated their 25th Wedding Anniversary. At the party thrown by the kids to celebrate the occasion, all of their friends and relatives joined to offer their best wishes. | January 31, 1966: Silver Anniversary | By the end of the 1960's, Pat, Carol, and JoAnne were married and the grandchildren started arriving. Pat and Bob welcomed Laurie in 1964, Debbie in 1966, and Heather in 1969. Carol and Paul and JoAnne and Al both had daughters in 1968 - Natalie and Becky, respectively. Pictured below, left to right: Rita, Doris, Walt, Sr. with Walt Jr. behind him, JoAnne holding Becky, Pat holding Debbie, Bob, Carol holding Natalie, and Paul. Laurie is standing in front. | Memories | JoAnne was a bit of a rascal. Once while in her teens, she dyed her hair green. Doris didn't like it, and wouldn't sit near her in church until it was back to its normal color. The kids would earn extra money by stringing beads into necklaces, and assembling rubber tomahawks that Doris' Uncle Francie would offer as prizes at his carnival booth. Walt Jr. would often take Rita for rides on the back of his bicycle. Nobody had ever heard of bicycle helmets back then.

10: 1970s: Empty nest and more grandkids | During the '70s, the Sobzak family continued to expand. Pat and Bob welcomed Bob Jr. in 1975 and Ben in 1977. Carol and Paul saw the arrival of Heidi in 1970 and Dwayne in 1977. JoAnne and Jim greeted Kyle in 1971 and Jim Jr. (JJ) in 1975. By the end of the 70s, all of the kids had moved out, and Doris and Walt started thinking about retirement. | Below, Doris and Walt Sr. pose with the two "babies" of the family: Rita and Walt Jr. At the bottom left, Doris poses with Heidi and Natalie. At the bottom right, Doris (in Groucho Marx disguise) is surrounded by grandchildren: Jennifer (holding JJ), Dwayne, and Becky.

11: Six of Doris' aunts and uncles gathered for this photo in the 1970's. From left to right: Louis Mathieu, Anna Leclerc, Emma Girouard, Helene Brunelle, Rose Vaillancourt, and Francis Mathieu. | Sisters, sisters, sisters... | It seems like whenever Doris' relatives get together, almost all you can see are sisters. Sisters have outnumbered brothers in her family for at least three generations. The newest generation is still a toss-up, but the males currently outnumber the females. Top left: From left to right are four sisters and a brother, Lillian Talbot, Jeannette Williamson, Henry Martin, Cecile Gaulin, and Doris Sobzak. In the middle are sisters Pat Costantino, Rita Choe, Carol Vanderheiden, and JoAnne Sargent. | Doris has always asserted (correctly) that while she didn't get much of an education, she has more common sense than most people. Doris and Walt didn't have the educational opportunities of their children, but they both proved to be very smart. The newspaper would be read front to back daily, and Walt would spend his mornings over coffee, the crossword puzzle and his Western novels. Speaking of coffee, their brand of choice was -- and still is -- Maxwell House instant only. | Memories

12: 1980s bring retirement, more flea markets, and more grandkids | In the 1980s, Walt decided to retire from the Post Office. That didn't really mean retirement, though. Doris and Walt were passionate about the flea market. If it was Sunday, you knew where to find them. They specialized in beads and jewelry, and at one point, Doris had her own storefront (pictured on the right), "Doris' Beads 'n' Jewelry". Walt built customized stands to display the jewelry. They enjoyed their life in "retirement", although they were probably working harder than ever. They established a large base of regular customers, many of whom became friends. To this day, there are barrels of beads and jewelry in stock. Doris claims a couple of times a week "One of these days I'm going to sell all this stuff". But it's what she most enjoys... buying and selling. | In the picture at the top left, Doris can be seen in her home "office". (The downstairs bathroom was conveniently close to the phone.) Above, Walt poses with a native girl when he and Doris visited Hawaii. He claimed this is where he got his first "lei" overseas. | Memories | A few years ago Doris was visiting Montezuma's Castle in Arizona with Jeannette, Pat, and good friend Ann. Jeannette was pushing Doris in a wheelchair when they came to an incline. Jeanette accidentally let go of the wheelchair, but chased it and Doris down the incline until the ended up in a pile with the wheelchair turned over and Doris sprawled out with Jeannette on top of her. No one was hurt but later when recounting the story, Anne laughed so hard she peed in her pants -- literally.

13: During the 1980s, Rita was in the Air Force in Korea. While there, she married Bill Choe and their son Will was born in 1982, followed by Phillip in 1984. That's Will, Phil, and Bill pictured above. | The last of the grandchildren were born in California to Walt Jr. and Donna. Kayley arrived on Christmas Day, 1987, and Steven made his debut almost exactly two years later in 1989. | The "gang" is pictured here in the late 70s or early 80s. Back row: Heather holding Ben, Debbie, JoAnne, Carol, Walter Jr., Rita, Laurie, Pat, and Paul. Middle row: Natalie, Walt Sr. holding JJ, Doris holding Dwayne, and Kyle. Front row: Bob Jr., Jim Sr., Becky, Heidi, and Bob Sr.

14: 1990s: A decade of growth... | During the 90s and early 2000's, the great-grandchildren started to arrive. Laurie and Rob had triplets Ashley, Jessica, and Dakota. Debbie and Scott welcomed Thomas; Abigail would follow in 2000. Heather and Steve would have Matthew and Amanda in 2003 and 2006, respectively. Riley was born to Bob Jr. and Jodi in 2006. Becky and Tim ushered in Josh, Elliott and Jacob during the 90s. Kyle and Tash delivered the most bundles with Casey, Zack, and Sam during the 90s and Parker in the 2000's. Jennifer and Rick welcomed Amanda and Ashley in the 2000s. | After Walt passed away, Doris moved into her bungalow on Kasper Drive. It wouldn't be long before her front yard became the showplace of the street. She changes the display constantly, depending upon the season. She also proved to have green thumb. Tomato and cucumber plants grew to the roof. Doris insists that it's her habit of eating a tomato every day that has been most beneficial to her health (along with those great French-Canadian genes). Recent scientific studies seem to back up her claim. | Above, left: Doris' front yard is always decorated with seasonal decorations. The flea market (above) kept her busy buying and selling year-round. Although it closed in 2012, she still manages to find the occasional market for her goods. To the left, she appears in her trademark Groucho getup, ready to do some yard work. Below, she relaxes during a trip to Arizona. Bottom left: She can't start her day without reading the newspaper from from to back.

15: ... and loss | Walt Sobzak always knew the latest jokes (as well as a lot of the oldest). Although he could also be curmudgeonly at times, he was a hard worker, a good husband, a good father, a good grandfather, and a good provider. | Sadly, Walter Steven Sobzak, Sr. passed away on July 20, 1992 after a short illness. He was 71 years old. He and Doris had been married for over 51 years He left a hole in the lives of Doris, their kids, and grandkids and he is missed greatly. | Memories | Although she turned into a proficient cook, Doris had a lot to learn in the beginning. The first chicken she cooked was less than successful because she didn't realize that she had to clean out the innards before putting it in the oven. Her philosophy on food is simple: "Just eat it. It all turns to s**t, anyways." Walt's favorite foods included kielbasa, pierogies and -- when we went to the drive-in -- chocolate covered caramel creams squished together with popcorn disks. (Cashews and chocolate-covered cherries were a couple of other favorites.)

16: 2000s: Kids, kids, everywhere | In the 2000s, Doris has thrived. She says she's in pretty good shape "for an old lady", and she stays incredibly active. She manages to get more done in one day than people who are decades younger accomplish in a week. Her fondest wish is to go parasailing when she turns 100. She and Walt have created an impressive legacy. The next few pages are an attempt to illustrate that legacy. Doris is much-loved by her large family and all of her friends. | When Pat was a baby, Doris brought her downtown to do some shopping. She left her in her carriage in front of the store while she went inside (remember, this was the 1940s... it was a different time). Unfortunately, when she finished shopping and was headed home on the bus, she realized she had forgotten Pat. Rushing back to the store, there was Pat, asleep in her carriage. She also remembers when there was a bedbug problem. In order to get rid of them, she and Jeannette set fire to their bed. A long time ago, Jeannette had a new mink coat. Not long after receiving it, she got in path of a skunk and the new coat was sprayed. Doris had heard that tomato juice would take out the scent, so they soaked the coat in it then buried it for a couple of days. When they dug it up, the smell seemed to have disappeared, so Jeannette put it on and they headed to church. Unfortunately, it was raining, and the dampness refreshed the smell. For some reason, no one would sit near them in church. | On the right, Doris' familiar smile. Below, the Queen of the Flea Market keeps watch. Below right, she presides as Family Reunion march leader. At the bottom left, she cuddles up with Wally, the Red Sox mascot. Bottom right, it appears that's not her first drink.

17: Costantino Family | Above: Dr. Robert and Patricia Costantino. Right front: Laurie, Heather and Ben. Back row: Bob Jr. and Laurie. Below: Scott, Debbie and Thomas, with Abigail in front. Below right: Ashley, Laurie, Jessica, Pat, Dakota and Doris. Bottom left: Bob Jr. and Riley. Bottom right: Bob, Heather, Ben and Pat, with Matthew and Amanda.

18: Vanderheiden Family | Olechnowicz and Sargent Family | Above: Dwayne and Carol. Below: Natalie with Doris. Bottom: Heidi. | Above, Jim and JoAnne. Below: left to right rear: Elliott, Darren , Becky, Jacob, and Josh. Bottom: Kyle, Sam, Zachary, Parker, Casey, and Tash.

19: Sobzak, Jr. Family | Above: Doris and Walter Jr. Below: Kayley and Dexter. Bottom: Steven. | Above: Becky, Jennifer, Kayle, and JJ rowing an imaginary boat. Below: Michelle and JJ. Bottom: Amanda and Ashley.

20: Choe Family | Above: Tony and Rita. Below: Heidi, Will, and Pat. Bottom: Phil at Will and Heidi's wedding. | Above: Jim and Anne Loughlin have been good friends of Doris and Walt for many, many years. | Jackie Corbett barely knew Doris when Rita was born, but volunteered to give her a hand with the new baby. They've been very close friends now for over 50 years. Below: Friend Pat is on the left and Ann is on the right.

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  • Title: Family History
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