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Elvin L. Haupt

October 24, 2009|By MARLO BARNHART

Editor's note: Each Sunday, The Herald-Mail publishes "A Life Remembered." This continuing series takes a look back -- through the eyes of family, friends, co-workers and others -- at a member of the community who died recently. Today's "A Life Remembered" is about Elvin L. Haupt, who died Oct. 12 at the age of 85. His obituary was published in the Oct. 14 edition of The Herald-Mail.

Just how does one become a broom maker in this modern age? Or perhaps the better question is why would one want to hearken back to such a bygone profession?

In the case of Elvin L. Haupt, the answer was simple.

"Dad learned broom making from his father -- it was tradition," said David Haupt, one of Elvin's three surviving sons.

David learned how to sew the brooms from his father and admits that given enough time, he can fashion one from start to finish.

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As to the why, David said quality homemade brooms are in demand, and not just at festivals such as the annual Boonesborough Days, where Elvin set up shop for more than 20 years.

"Some country stores bought his brooms," David said. "He was still making them up to his last days."

Oldest son Jim Haupt is a retired contractor who lives in Damascus, Md. He, too, learned how to make a broom from his father.

But some of Jim's favorite memories center around hunting for morel mushrooms with his parents.

"We went out in an area where Greenbrier State Park is now," Jim said. His mother then would take the treasured mushrooms home and fry them up for the family.

Farm life was hard work, Jim recalled.

"We grew and tended a lot of berries as well as the famous Boonsboro cantaloupes," Jim said.

Agreeing with David that their father was an introvert, Jim remembers what always brought laughter and smiles to Elvin.

"He loved 'The Three Stooges,'" Jim said. The three boys often would get down on the floor and try to mimic the comedy trio's antics for their father.

Now that their father has passed away, David said he's not sure if he will keep up the family broom-making tradition.

"There are a lot of steps, including making sure the corn is wet when you begin," David said.

Also, a broom only brought between $7 and $10 at sale, a lot of work for a man who already was busy with his family and contracting business.

Elvin grew up on Greenbrier Road, where his father had a working farm. Armed with an eighth-grade education, Elvin had to work on the farm from an early age.

"He and my mom met at the City Market in Hagerstown, where their families' stalls were close together," David said. "They didn't know each other before that."

Elvin married Helen Staley in 1948 -- a union that lasted 55 years until she died in 2003.

David said his father had a lot of brothers and sisters and they all lived close by, but except for occasional reunions, they didn't get together very often.

"Mom's side of the family was a different story," David said. "They were big gatherers."

Growing up in his father's household, David said he and his brothers learned a good work ethic built on self-sufficiency.

A man of few words, Elvin led by example, teaching his sons about farm machinery and crops as well as the finer points of hunting, David said.

"Dad bought 20 acres on Mountain Laurel Road in the late 1950s, where he grew strawberries and black raspberries," David said. The view from that property was so panoramic that one could see three states.

The family's home wasn't built there until 1964.

Elvin was raising a family, growing berries and making brooms, both at home and at numerous craft shows.

"Dad would make brooms while mom caned chairs and made Christmas wreaths," David said.

The proceeds from the berries paid the taxes on the land, David said.

In his "spare" time, Elvin worked full time for the Maryland State Highway Administration for 28 years.

"That was his job -- highway maintenance," David said. "He always hated plowing snow in the winter."

After he retired 20 years ago, Elvin had more time for the more important things in his life. That included a crop of eight grandchildren, some of whom called him Pap, while others called him Pappy.

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