Remembering Dolores “Dolly” Sapp, of Start (1933-2019)

Personal Remembrances of Mrs. Dolly Sapp

The communities of Start and Crew Lake were saddened with the loss of Mrs. Dolores “Dolly” Sapp, on December 28, 2019. I’ve known Mrs. Dolores my whole life, and we shared a common interest in history, and local history, more specifically. As I began to write this post, I did a little research, and noted that on many occasions throughout her life, her name was (I assume?) spelled incorrectly as “Delores.” I’d always heard others refer to her with the pronounciation being “Doll-uh-rees.” That name only made sense to me after seeing how her real first name was correctly spelled. Dolores, aka, “Dol-uh-rees.” I fondly remember her presentations to students covering local history, as well as incredible and descriptive tales about the Native American’s who once called our region home. To me, she was authentic, smart, witty, and had a gift of being an amazing story-teller. She’ll be missed, but her lifetime of magnetism will not be forgotten. Thanks Mrs. “Dolly” for your many contributions as a local historian, community educator, and for inspiring imaginations in younger generations, while you took us on a trip back through time. The pictures you painted with the stories you told, will live on. I’m only one of countless young students, who was listening. – Luke

The Yankee Author Who Met Dolly Sapp In The Late 1990’s

Credit must be given to unusual source when it comes to painting a picture of Mrs. “Dolly” Sapp. Dale Peterson, an author from Massachusetts, while traveling the country in the late ’90’s, wrote the book Storyville, USA. He began his journey in Start, and once he had an audience with “Dolly,” Peterson’s account of the day is priceless. For a complete copy concerning his visit with Mrs. Sapp, (as well as many others), consider purchasing his book. The following are some excertps relating to that visit.

“Y’all come on in!” replied Dolly Sapp, to the stranger at her door from Massachusetts.

-Peterson, Dale. Storyville, USA. University Of Georgia Press, 2001.

That was the response Dale Peterson, the author of Storyville, USA, received when he knocked on the door of “Dolly” Sapp in the late ’90’s. When Peterson set out to write a book about “interesting places” across the United States, he chose to begin his journey in you guessed it, Start, La.

“It was hot. In the field around the water tower and fire station, a zillion cicadas and crickets were making the usual racket, while overhead and down the way, two snub-nosed yellow-jacketed crop dusters were buzzing like a couple of giant bees. And on the other side of the fire station, a field of corn was quietly growing.”

-Peterson, Dale. Storyville, USA. University Of Georgia Press, 2001.

After finding no one home at the “Start Fire Station,” Peterson strolled into Billy Whitten’s barbershop. Whitten answered the author’s queries to his best ability, but when his own expertise on Start hit a dead end, Whitten picked up the phone and called a trusted source; Mrs. “Dolly” Sapp.

As the day trickled on, he found himself at the door of Mrs. Fred “Dolly” Sapp.

“Y’all come on in!” she said.

Peterson goes on to descrive her. “Waving and friendly. She wore black shorts, red button earrings, and a white T-shirt with a cartoon portrait of a cow on the front. The cow had black and white spots and was wearing a red bandanna. Dolly’s earrings looked to have been made from the same red bandanna. Her lightish brown hair had been recently cut and decently curled on her head. She was a retired schoolteacher, we soon learned, and, like most teachers, she was pleasant and patient. Her attractive face widened with a generous smile.”

“We soon found ourselves sitting in her kitchen in front of soft drinks and snacks and looking from there directly into the living room, which had water-melons ripening on the floor. They looked fresh and just about perfect. The tiling on the kitchen floor looked like Tostito Chips. A lot of plates had been set up on display around the top of the kitchen. There were also ceramic ani-mals of various sorts and some religious hangings. The refrigerator had a wel-come mat on the Aoor in front of it, and on the refrigerator door was a picture of country singer Billy Ray Cyrus with a milk mustache.”

“Now, where did you say y’all was from?” asked Dolly?

“Massachusetts, near Boston,” replied Peterson.

-Peterson, Dale. Storyville, USA. University Of Georgia Press, 2001.

The author soon found that he’d hit a goldmine when it came to “local history.” Dolly” Sapp noted that she’d been at school in Start all her life. She went to elementary school there, and she graduated from high school at Start in 1951.

When she graduated from college, she came back and taught the third grade one year. Then she taught the seventh grade three years. And then after those four years were over with she taught the eighth grade. She taught eighth grade the rest of her time, which was thirty-one whole years. That was very interesting, he thought, but he wanted to know more.

Peterson pressed a little deeper, asking, “What do you know about the town (Start) these days? What’s the population of it, for example?”

“I have no idea. It has just grown so much since I was a kid until it’s unbelievable, you know,” said Dolly.

(Clearly, Peterson found this amusing.)

“Really? It doesn’t look very big,” Peterson replied.

“It goes WAY back on that side over there on the lake,” noted Dolly, not missing a beat, “and up above the schoolhouse, all up through there.”

-Peterson, Dale. Storyville, USA. University Of Georgia Press, 2001.

Mrs. Dolly continued to provide the traveling writer with a wealth of local “gumbo.” Gumbo was actually a subject that came up in their visit, but not the good kind. Peterson asked her about her mention of Gumbo on the ground. Gumbo? What’s gumbo? Well, gumbo is a sorry piece of land. It’s sticky, as Peterson learned that day.

Dolly gave the simplest explanation of gumbo mud that she could think of, with a story from her childhood. As a little girl they used to go out into the woods to cut Christmas trees, and her daddy would always tell her:

“Put your boots on. Don’t mess up your shoes because you can’t get that gumbo off your shoes,” lectured Dolly’s father, Jimmy Robinson.

Dolly explained further, “you’d go into the woods being one height, and you’d come out four inches taller because the gumbo would stick to your boots and things. But in the summertime it gets so dry that that gumbo will crack open. It actually will have big, wide cracks in it.”

“This piece of land right where we were now,” she said, “was kind of a sandy, clay soil. But down at the edge of the yard, is where the gumbo starts.”

“From there on up to the railroad tracks…nothing but gumbo,” Mrs. Dolly said matter-of-factly.

-Peterson, Dale. Storyville, USA. University Of Georgia Press, 2001.

Their afternoon concluded after a much deeper discussion of all things Northeast Louisiana. As the author packed up to leave, he made this final observation.

“The Research Assistants and I got very comfortable there, drinking soft drinks, eating snacks, and in general wallowing in all that Southern Hospitality.”

-Peterson, Dale. Storyville, USA. University Of Georgia Press, 2001.

I have no idea what Mr. Peterson thought he would find that hot afternoon in the home of Mrs. Dolly Sapp, but what I do know, is that he found a diamond, who represented our fair community better than anyone else could have. An exemplary citizen, an educated story-teller, who could’ve filled his pages for an eternity. – Luke

Looking Back At The Life of Dolores Sapp

High School Days

Dolly Robinson, was an all-star student, during her time at Start High School. She played for Coach Elaine Kirkland, who gained at least one Class-C Championship during Dolly’s era.

The Start basketball teams won their second double-header from the Mangham teams Wednesday night at Start, when the Owlettes beat the Dragon-ettes 30 to 12 and the Owls defeated the Dragons 54 to 43. The Start girl’s team was led by the sharpshooting of Pearl Alford, Ethel Moore and Dolores Robinson, while Gladys Sullivan, Connie Copeland and Jo Ann Nolan stood out defensively.

The Richland Beacon-News, Rayville, Louisiana, 25 Dec 1948, Sat  •  Page 6

Dolly Robinson was also elected as President of her Senior Class

Class officers for the high school have been elected. They are: Seniors Dolores Robinson, President; James Deal, Vice-President; Cecil Watts, Secretary; Pearl Alford, Reporter; Mr. F. Ellerbe, Sponsor.

The Richland Beacon-News, Rayville, Louisiana, 14 Oct 1950, Sat  •  Page 1

Dolly was also chosen as the Homecoming Queen at Start High School. She was escorted by Fred Sapp, who would later become her husband.

The halftime ceremonies, under the very able direction of Miss Marjoria McCarty, was a very pleasant sight to view. All the lights were turned out and the Owlettes, with flashlights, made several nice formations. Fireworks were being sent into the air throughout the halftime. Miss Dolores Robinson reigned as Homecoming Queen. Her court consisted of Beatrice Sullivan, Maid of Honor, escorted by Tot Malone; and Maids: Bobbie Stringfellow, escorted by Billy Finley; Heloise Twiner, escorted by Will Roark; Jewelline Adams, escorted by Houston Hill. Fred Sapp was the Queen’s escort. The Mascot and bearing the Queen’s crown was little Miss Judy Sullivan. Mr. Walters, Asst. Supt. of Schools, crowned the Queen.

The Richland Beacon-News, Rayville, Louisiana, 05 Nov 1949, Sat  •  Page 1

College Years

Dolly was a graduate of Start High School, class of 1951. She attended Northeast Louisiana State College. Pictured here, is a photograph from her Junior year, in 1954.

Dolores Sapp, 1954, at Northeast Louisiana State College

Dolly Sapp Recognized As Outstanding Teacher of Conservation, ca., 1964

Start Teacher Recognized By SCS Supervisors Mrs. Dolores Sapp, Start Junior High School, was selected as the outstanding teacher of conservation and resource-use of soil, water, woodlands, range, and wildlife in the Boeuf River Soil Conservation District, at the regular monthly meeting of supervisors. District supervisors stated that the report and scrapbook submitted by Mrs. Sapp showed an outstanding job of teaching and making her students aware of the importance of conserving all our natural resources. Mrs. Sapp has been teaching at Start School for the past seven years. At present, she teaches the eighth grade.

This is the first year that a unit on conservation has been presented. An appropriate certificate will be awarded Mrs. Sapp, along with a book entitled “Land, Water, and People.” Mrs. Sapp’s report and scrapbook will be sent to the Chairman of the Youth Activities and Education Committee of the Louisiana Association of Soil Conservation Districts to be considered in the state Association contest. The State Association will select first, second and third-place teachers, and recognize, them at an appropriate meeting early each year with awards as follows: First-place teacher, $100 with the suggestion that it be used to pay the teacher’s expense to a conservation conference or to buy instructional material for her class. The school from which this winning teacher came will receive a plaque; second-and third-place teachers, a plaque.

The Richland Beacon-News, Rayville, Louisiana, 25 Apr 1964, Sat  •  Page 5

Mrs. Sapp Teaches Native American History At Start, ca., 1988

Mrs. Dolly Sapp, guest speaker of the tales of Indian life in early America with the fifth-grade class at Start Junior High School. Sapp is shown displaying and discussing holds her students spell-bound with her Indian “lightning ball.”

The Richland Beacon-News; Rayville, Louisiana, 01 Nov 1988, Tue  •  Page 19

Dolly Sapp Leads Fundraising Drive To Dedicate Start Gymnasium To G.J. Fleischmann, ca., 1989

Don’t forget the dedication of; the G.J. Fleischmann Memorial Gymnasium on May 21 at 2 p.m. Mrs. Fred Sapp to help with placing lettering on the building and having a portrait made to hang in the foyer.

The Richland Beacon-News, Rayville, Louisiana, 11 May 1989, Thu  •  Page 6

Dolly’s Candy Jar Arrives, ca., 1990

Dolly’s Candy Jar has “arrived” so to speak. The Shreveport Times’ columnist Margaret Martin in a recent article wrote the following: “If you’re heading east on Interstate 20, consider pulling off at the Start Columbia Exit 132. There’s a little building with a bench on its porch and a garden at its side adjacent to the Exxon station. This is Dolly’s Candy Jar. Dolly is Dolores Sapp, a retired school teacher who is trying for a second career. She makes many small crafts. The wooden toy furniture such as cradles, rocking chairs, and deacon benches, and the stuffed flop-earred rabbits and cows are crafted by senior citizen” she seeks out in the area. Her daughter makes the fine porcelain dolls. Dolly’s card reminds customers ‘God loves you, and I love you, too.”

Daughter should be daughter-in-law, we know, but it was so refreshing to see a local person featured in a big city paper. Thanks to Lois Cox, we didn’t miss the write-up. – Orea Bennett, in Start Scribblings

The Richland Beacon-News, Rayville, Louisiana, 27 Sep 1990, Thu  •  Page 8

Obituary for Mrs. Dolores M. Sapp

Funeral Services for Mrs. Dolores M. Sapp, 86, of Start, LA, will be 11:00 AM Tuesday, December 31, 2019, at Crew Lake United Methodist Church in Start, with Bro. Marshall Sevier officiating. Interment will follow at Start Cemetery. Arrangements are under the direction of Mulhearn Funeral Home, Rayville.

Mrs. Sapp was born on January 9, 1933, and passed away on December 28, 2019. She taught school for 31 ½ years at Start School. She loved all of her students and treated them just like they were her children. Mrs. Sapp graduated from Northeast Louisiana State College (ULM) with a bachelor’s and master’s degree plus 30 in education. She loved traveling, watching her grandson, Landon, and great-grandson, Jacob, play baseball, working with arts and crafts, color books. She loved family gatherings, spending time with her family and most of all loved her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Mrs. Sapp taught Sunday school for many many years.

She is preceded in death by her husband Fred Sapp Sr.; father, Jimmy Robinson; mother, Louise Robinson Taylor; and sister, Macy Robinson.

Survivors include son, Fred Sapp, Jr (Denise); grandson, Landon Sapp (Andrea); great-grandson, Jacob Sapp; brother, George Taylor Jr.; and sisters, Tina Wooten and Sue Bryan; special family, Mickey, Connie and Cody Skains, Billy Whitten, Todd Whitten, and Dennis and Clara Jackson; numerous nieces and nephews and cousins.

Pallbearers will be Delbert Crow, Gregg Pickens, Lynn Word, Bill Duffey, Kevin Eppinette, and David Ray Davis. Honorary Pallbearers will be Charlie Baxter, Mickey Whitten, Buddy Copeland, Walter Garner, Dennis Watts, and Bill Brown.

Visitation will be 9:00 AM until 11:00 AM Tuesday, December 31, 2019, at Crew Lake United Methodist Church in Start.

Memorials may be made to Crew Lake United Methodist Church memorial fund, P.O. Box 280, Start, LA 71279.

Online registry/condolences: http://www.mulhearnfuneralhome.com
Mulhearn Funeral Home
Rayville, Louisiana

Tribute Wall

1 reply »

  1. What a wonderful tribute to a wonderful Lady! She was my P. O. buddy and my persimmon “supplier”. We would talk while checking our mail and continue with it to our cars. I will miss her smiling face and great conversations. When I stopped by for persimmons she always said, “just pick whatever you want without breaking the limbs, you don’t have to ask.” I always followed her instructions. My condolences to family and friends.

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