Helena Pribula Deegan grew up on Bridge Street near Prospect Street in Phoenixville. It was at a time when life moved by at a slower pace than today.
Helena attended both Gay Street and Church Street grade schools, onto Memorial Junior High on Second Avenue and then on to the old high school on Nutt Road. She remembers in high school the only time girls could wear pants to school was on gym day when Miss Rankin marched them to Washington Field for a workout.
She played the French horn while a member of Walter Sample’s award-winning marching band. Ask why she played the French horn, and her answer: “They needed one.”
It was at the Kimberton Fair in 1954 that she and Paul Deegan met. I got to wondering how many other couples have met at the fair. This summer, the area attraction is celebrating its 90th year.
They married and started their family totaling seven children, which has multiplied to 38 of-spring — seven children, 18 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren. Family is important to Helena and the entire family. They enjoy sharing events and gatherings.
Along with rearing the children, she rose up in the banking world. Starting out as a teller at the old Farmers & Mechanics Bank, Helena moved over to the Phoenixville Federal Savings & Loan and became branch manager for 20 years.
With so many interests and to spend more time with Paul, she retired in 1999. At the top of the list was gardening with Paul. He tended the large vegetable garden. She took charge of the flower garden.
Sadly, Paul passed away in 2003. She downsized and moved from the family home to a smaller place in Linfield. This was no small task, as she was and is a “collector.”
Travel was on the Deegan itinerary, especially after Helena retired. One of her favorite trips was to China for two weeks. “Did not like the food.” She did find a local dig fascinating. They were unearthing large figures of soldiers and horses made from terra-cotta. She liked the Great Wall of China but found toilet facilities difficult to use and too public.
Today, Helena, along with all her offsprings, finds time to crochet (afghans a specialty), take day trips and, yes, still garden.
The kitchen is still the hub of the house. She really enjoys making soups. She shares here with us a recipe that is a family favorite.
HELEN’S PINEAPPLE BAKE
1 cup butter
1 cup graduated sugar
1 can (20 oz.) crushed pineapple — drained
6 slices bread — cubed
Beat butter and sugar together until smooth and creamy. Add eggs, one at a time. Add bread cubes, and mix well. Put into a greased casserole dish, and bake for 45 to 50 minutes in a 350-degree oven. Top should be lightly browned. Best served warm.
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