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Grand Dame of Holmdel - Adeline “Addy” Lubkert
03/14/2007 - By by Tobi Drucker Tesoriero
Looking at her historic family lineage and seemingly endless community service activities one would be tempted to crown Adeline “Addy” Holmes Lubkert as the grand dame of Holmdel.
This, although an apt title, would not reflect her graciousness and charm, or her humbleness. Through her involvement and long history in the area, she has been a driving force in the formation of the character of the town and county. Among other activities, Lubkert has been actively involved in politics with the Republican Party and has been an important advocate of the Monmouth County Parks system. Additionally, she has been on the board of the Visiting Nurse Service and a member of the Holmdel Historic Commission (among a host of other activities). Addy is a direct descendant of the founding Holmes (as in Holmdel) family, who settled in this area prior to the Revolutionary War. Lubkert lives in a centuries-old farm house that was built by her ancestors; actually, this is the house where she was born. She has been a resident in town for most of her 90 years. Still an active member of the community, Lubkert’s newest project is her involvement on an advisory committee to decide the future of the Bayonet Farm.
Living in Holmdel spoke with Addy Lubkert to find out more about her life and her roots.
LIH: Your family, the Holmes, was the founding family of present-day Holmdel. Where had they lived previously and what made them decide to relocate?
AL: This is history that goes back a ways. I think they came down [to Holmdel], I think part of them were in Middletown. As I understand it, when Obadiah Holmes came over way back, and the family…they spread out in different directions. I mean I have relatives which I did not know about in New Egypt and down that way. They are not relatives that I had been keeping up with or knew at all before, so I only know about the relatives around here actually. Another Holmes descendant nearby is my cousin, Anna Lora Holmes Maghan, who now lives in Matawan. Her childhood home was what is now the Kare 1 building on Route 34.
LIH: What country did they come from and in what year?
AL: They came from England, in 1600 and something.
LIH: How long have you lived in Holmdel?
AL: Off and on all my life. I was born here. I was born in this house in the middle of a snow storm and the doctor stayed overnight. Now how about that? My father was a potato farmer and then he had horses of course, and a couple of cows. Both of my grandmothers lived in Holmdel [then the little village of Holmdel]. So, he used to take milk up to them and there were a couple of other people who lived nearby and they said, “Well if you come up with milk for them, why don’t you bring some to us?” So he also ended up with a little milk route!
LIH: How many years did he do that?
AL: Not exactly sure, but several.
LIH: What are your fondest recollections of the area from your childhood?
AL: People were really very pleasant and good all around and I had, when I was younger, other children of farmers around here to be friendly with and get together with, and so on and so forth.
LIH: What was schooling like at that time? Did you go to school in Holmdel?
AL: Yeah the school that I started out in was in Holmdel. Well, I can’t really say that, as my father took to me to Middletown to a little private school for 2 years because he didn’t like the teacher here. I never knew why or anything else or cared at that point. Anyway, so I was there for 2 years [Middletown] and when I came out it was the fourth grade so I got skipping a couple of years. So the whole way through school I got to be younger than everybody else. Now all of a sudden I think I am older than everybody else!
LIH: Does that school still exist in Middletown?
AL: No, no it doesn’t. Then I went to a local school in Holmdel till the eighth grade. Then I went to Red Bank High School.
LIH: Did you have any brothers or sisters?
AL: No, I am an only child. I think it has advantages. When I was younger I kept saying, “Oh everyone else has brothers and sisters. I wish I did, I wish I did.” Now I look back and see some of the problems they had with their brothers and sisters and I am glad I did not have to deal with that!
LIH: Were there drawbacks living in this area during your youth?
AL: No I don’t think so … if there was, I didn’t recognize them at the time. You put up with what you have.
LIH: Have you ever lived anywhere else and if so where?
AL: In New York. Well, I went to Goucher College and after that (when I finished there my major was physics and women didn’t have anything to do with physics at that point) I went to New York City to…I think itwas a YMCA or YWCA business school. And it was there that I met my good friend from High School. We had drifted apart as I went to Goucher and she went to Monmouth University. So, we ended up getting a place together. She had a job in New York and so did I so we ended up together for the next 3 years or so. We lived in New York for the winter and, because we were both from around here, came back here for the summer…that worked out nicely.
LIH: Where in Manhattan did you live?
AL: Oh we lived in … the first place we (my friend from home and I) lived in with another girl for the first year. The place was around 80th Street. Then we moved downtown, so we moved to the Village.
LIH: What kind of work did you do in New York?
AL: After that business course I got a job. I was hired for 2 months in the financial end, that department of Atlantic Mutual Insurance Company and stayed for 10 years.
LIH: Around what year was that?
AL: Oh, oh my goodness, around 1937, 38, 39, 40. Then my roommate got married in 1941. I met my husband-to-be at Atlantic Mutual. We worked together. But you couldn’t say that we were going together because of company rules. So when we did get married, we got married here in the house where my mother and father were living and the two immediate bosses came…and two girlfriends. Beyond that, until I left we couldn’t even say we were married.
LIH: Where was your husband from?
AL: Mamaroneck and the Bronx.
LIH: Can you compare the differences between living in New York and Holmdel? And why did you choose to come back to live in Holmdel?
AL: My husband and I moved down, well that was because my mother and father moved to the village of Holmdel where my grandmother and grandfather had lived. They moved to one of the houses there. So this house [the farmhouse] was available so we decided why not.
LIH: Did he continue to work in New York?
AL: Yes he did. I was finished with working then.
LIH: Did you have any children?
AL: Yes, my son Kenneth is living out in Indiana and I am going to visit for Christmas! It is going to be quite something as you have to switch planes. He and his wife Beth sent me the ticket which is very nice.
LIH: How did he end up in Indiana?
AL: The company he is working for now is right near there in Indiana. They have lived in Wisconsin and they lived in Brussels, Belgium for a while and then he transferred companies and that is why they are there. My grandson goes to Purdue which is right there as well. My other grandson graduated from Duke last year. Next year we have three graduations in the family. One from college, one from high school, and one from grammar school!
LIH: What was Holmdel like 50 years ago?
AL: Oh my goodness, dirt roads, I guess you can say, well I mean a lot of them were. Everyone had cars, it was not horse and buggy, there were horses around…I guess it was quieter.
LIH: That was the 1950’s. Was development starting in the area?
AL: Well they have always been trying to keep it open spaces. Even up to now they are doing that, but I mean there are very few farms left. Right up the street there are a few others; the Casolas have moved in to Holmdel, but most of the farms are gone now. Pretty soon we are going to have to eat pills as we won’t have any more food!
LIH: What has been your family’s involvement in Holmdel?
AL: Well, my father was pretty busy with the farming and all. He was on the township committee way back you know. He was always a staunch Republican, and my mother was a democrat because she didn’t know the difference [laughs]. I’m sorry but she didn’t really. You can tell I am a staunch Republican. She was a democrat because that was what her father was. I listened to my father!
LIH: What community activities was your family involved with?
AL: We were involved with the Baptist Church, which is no longer here. It is a community church now. Well, not directly related to this, remind me to tell you about this DAR Asher Holmes thing that happened a few months ago.
LIH: Please share it with us now.
AL: What is now the community church in Holmdel on Main Street has a burial ground in the back and one of the people buried there is Asher Holmes and his wife and his daughter, and this dates backs to 1700 and something…so the DAR [Daughters of the American Revolution] found out there wasn’t any plaque there, so they had this little get-together and they asked me to come; I went and then they had like five other relatives from New Egypt and I did not know them at all. I guess I am about the last one left in Holmdel that was a Holmes. You see, all those in the family all had girls, so there was no one to carry on the name Holmes. Then the girls all had boys, but then they did not have the Holmes name. Just thought that was interesting.
LIH: So your father was a Holmes?
AL: Yes, apparently one of the last named.
LIH: What has been your specific involvement in Holmdel?
AL: I was the Municipal Chairman for several years…Republican, naturally.
LIH: What were some of the general duties of that position?
AL: Well, the town is divided into a various number of districts. There were not so many then, I think they are up to ten now, and there is supposed to be one man and one woman for each district. Basically what they are supposed to do…and it doesn’t always work, but particularly, for new people in town, is to welcome them and so forth. Go around visiting and getting acquainted with people. It makes a big difference in voting because some people do not know what they are voting for anyway. You try and you do your best and I think there is still something to be said for trying. I think a lot of people take the job with the idea, well on Election Day I have to be there and see that everything is done; and of course, that is only one thing you’ve got to do. But so it goes.
LIH: So you coordinated all the districts?
AL: Yes, this is interesting. A number of years ago somebody had called me that had lived here in Holmdel and said, “Gee, Addy, I want to tell you one thing I really remember and appreciate is when we came to Holmdel, you came to the house and welcomed us.” And I thought, that is such a simple thing to do, why can’t people do it, you know?
LIH: Any other activities or organizations that you have been involved in?
AL: In town? Bayonet Farm, Laura Harding’s…you know Laura Harding was a fixture in town. Bayonet farm is her farm. So I am now on the Bayonet Farm Advisory Committee to see what to do with it.
LIH: So it is a land usage committee?
AL: Well it is several things involved with the township – how ou use it and you raise money, and then what are you going to do with it. I mean you have to upkeep and repair. There is the original house and there are two barns there and then there is a house right on the street that is now rented. All these things you have to try to work out a little bit. It was interesting; I used to go see Laura. She was such a nice person, and I went one day through the kitchen and Ulla Swanson, who helped Laura out, was in the kitchen and told me someone was in with Laura, so I breezed on in and said, “Oh, hello Laura. How are you?” and so on, and chatted with her and her visitor. As I was leaving Ulla said do you know who that was? I said, “No.” She said, “That was Katherine Hepburn!”
LIH: How did Laura know Hepburn?
AL: They were together in California, they did some pictures together. I would never have thought it was Katherine Hepburn sitting there.
LIH: Are there any other groups or organizations you are involved with?
AL: Monmouth County Parks System. I have been a recreation commissioner and I was chairman for a number of years too. Actually, next year will be my 25th year with them. I think they do a great job. In fact I feel that the Monmouth County Park System is the very best around. We try to please everybody – even the dogs! [laughs] Also, Kappa Kappa Gamma. I was president of the NY Alumni Association and then I was president of a group down here and I was Beta Province Director of Alumni.
LIH: What is your general observation, advice or wisdom to impart to the current residents of Holmdel?
AL: Orderly growth; people want to live here, so obviously there are going to be more homes. And we have to accommodate the people. Holmdel has had an orderly growth and I hope it continues. There is not much left to be concerned about. Now the Lucent property is a big thing. We will see how that works out, 400 and some acres. It has been sold; there have been a couple of meetings to get ideas on property usage. Presently there is a good-sized building. Some suggest to take part of the building down; they also talk about putting some businesses there, and then they talk about some houses. But they are trying to not have a lot of houses there, just maybe housing for seniors, so this way you do not increase the school population. I hope that the whole way around the property they leave that, so when you drive along you don’t see houses, houses, houses; but they may not listen to me [laughs].
LIH: Is there anything else you think is important to know about you, your family, or Holmdel?
AL: Well, I just thought of something. I want to show you some plaques. (Note: The plaques detail the following community service involvement, and also declared April 21, 2006 “Adeline “Addy” Lubkert Day.”) Listed among the activities were: Holmdel Republican Municipal Chairman; Former Treasurer of the Holmdel Republican Committee; Former Vice Chairman of the Monmouth County Republican Executive Committee; Honorary Vice Chairman of the County Executive Committee; President of the Monmouth Federation of Republican Women; County Board of Commissions - Past Chair; Office of the Aging; Holmdel Historic Commission; Board of Directors of Visiting Nurses.
LIH: Thank you so much “Addy” for your time and service!
I Cavallini, in Colts Neck,
and the Molly Pitcher Inn
Favorite kind of music:
Can’t think of one favorite film
Can’t say I have one, I try to look at the good side of things
Three people you would like to dine with:
President Reagan, Assemblyman
Sam Thompson, and former
Assemblyman Mike Arnone
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