AT THE TABLE WITH: Harold J. Gaugler

Harold J. Gaugler and Maggie

Before we go any further, I need to clarify his name. Due to the fact that his father’s name was Harold, the family started to call him by the nickname of his middle name. So, the family and childhood acquaintances know him as “Jimmy.”

He and I are first cousins — our mothers were sisters. Our group of maternal cousins are referred to as the Marton cousins, of whom I am the oldest and he is number nine of 10.

After graduating from Phoenixville Area High School, he went to work for a paint company in town. The next year, he went to work at the Gateway Pharmacy, working his way up from the stock room to doing it all, including supervisor. Five years later in 1983, he went to work in King of Prussia for a company that did computer repairs. When he was there, the company was bought and sold a several times. Due to cutbacks, he found himself looking for a new job after 18 years.

For the last 15 years, he has been employed by the Indian Creek Foundation based in Souderton. This foundation provides services to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Starting up in direct care staff, he now supervises two of the group homes with five residents per home. As a gentle and kind person, this job well suits his personality and talents.

Music is very important to him. He has attended so many concerts and performances by so many artists he has lost count.

He is a big karaoke fan, as is his sister, Janice. She has lived in the Frederick, Md., area for many years. Whenever they get a chance, they enjoy singing together. His has a younger brother, Ron, who lives in Phoenixville.

He has been a longtime fan of Hollywood movies of the ’30s and ’40s, especially those with stars like Cary Grant, Bette Davis, Jimmy Stewart and Katherine Hepburn.

A cat named “Maggie” is his current companion, having had four different cats over the years.

Harold is a proud member of the LBGT community. He recalls the Lark Bar in Bridgeport as a family, where he would perform — using his voice with “fun drag” — as well a emcee and take backstage jobs for shows.

He remembers when at a young child I would take him to the Barn Playhouse where he took part in community parades and watched stage productions.

He is fond of eating — he especially likes extremely hot Mexican food — but he doesn’t spend a lot of time in the kitchen, so I share with him and you this quick and easy Mexican chili recipe.


1 lb. lean ground meat

1 onion, chopped2 chipotle peppers

10 oz. can dice tomatoes with green chili peppers

30 oz. can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

2 tsp. kosher salt2 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. garlic powder1 tsp. chili powder

3 tsp. hot pepper sauceShredded Cheddar cheese

Sour creamBrown ground meat, and drain. Combine meat and all ingredients with the exception of the cheese in a large pot. Cook for 30 to 40 minutes. Ladle chili into bowls. Sprinkle with cheese. Serve sour cream on side to regulate level of heat. Amount of spice used can also be adjusted to taste.

Enjoy!Let Bette hear from you: Search YouTube for “Look Who’s Cooking with Bette Banjack,” as well (search bar: Banjack) for this column. Find Bette on Facebook by searching “Bette Banjack’s Downtown Kitchen.” Her book, “2 Cups of Yesterday,” is available at Gateway Pharmacy or by contacting her.

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