Madeira’s doll maker has live-in chef

By Regina Villiers. Originally published July 23, 1997 in The Suburban Life, added July 16, 2019.

Hazel Valentiner, Madeira’s doll maker, poses with her live-in chef, her husband, Dick. He enjoys doing the cooking, giving her more time for dolls.

     Hazel Valentiner, Madeira’s doll maker, has what all of us who hate to cook dream of having- a live-in chef.

     Before you jump to any unseemly conclusions, let me explain that her live-in chef is her husband, Dick.

     Dick Valentiner not only likes to cook, but he’s an award-winning cook.  And he has the blue ribbons and silver cups to prove it.  The blue ribbons are lined up all across a wall of the large Valentiner kitchen.

     Dick started winning awards years ago in field cooking at the Camargo Hunter Trials.  He routinely wins every year, and the trials are coming up again in September.

     At the trials, Dick will fry 45 pounds of chicken at a pop, in a huge fryer on a large grill.  He also makes large quantities of German potato salad and his special baked beans.  His dessert specialty is a recipe he developed himself for a raisin-banana cake.

     After Irma Lazarus died, her husband, Fred, started presenting silver cups for the first-place cooking award, so Dick is now amassing a collection of those.

     At home, Dick does all the cooking, even to baking biscuits. He will cook five gallons of chili at a time, freezing the surplus.

     Although she’s truly grateful that she doesn’t have to cook, Hazel, true to human nature, does complain a bit that she has to clean up the kitchen.

     Or, at least, help.  “He says a chef doesn’t do dishes,” she said.

     Dick also makes good coffee and presides every morning over the coffee urn at the AmeriStop store, a job he has been doing every morning since he retired.  He was a general contractor.

     Though he’s famous in some circles for his award-winning cooking, Dick is known around Madeira as a local historian.

     He has lived all his life in Madeira and is an authority on the “way it was,” going back to stories of his father.

     His father, Richard E., was an Indian Hill Ranger for 35 years, and at one time, he was one of the four mounted Rangers.  Dick tells how his father, in wintertime, would go around by sleigh to feed the birds.

     His father’s family also was one of the first families to start St. Gertrude’s Church.

     Dick, himself, was with the fire department for 14 years. Hazel estimates that, if he’d stayed, he’d now have 64 years of service.

     After that, he owned a filling station for a time, before becoming a contractor.

     Dick remembers everything about Madeira, complete to people, places, and dates.  As a child, he carried handbills for the various businesses.

     For instance, without batting an eye or stopping to think, he will tell you that Brinkroger’s Hardware Store, in the location of the present cleaners on Camargo, burned in 1942.

     In conversation, he will drop little nuggets of information you’ve never heard before.  He’s the only one to ever mention Burke’s Grocery to me.  It was in the Mar-Jean Building, he says.  For those of you who wonder, the Mar-Jean Building is the building that once housed Dr. Crull’s office, next to Adriens, which, of course, once was Braun’s Drug Store.

     And Braun’s, Dick remembers, had a soda fountain, where you could get homemade ice cream.  Braun’s made their own.

     “They had those little, round tables where you’d sit,” Dick says, “with wire-backed chairs.”

     Dick had lots of memories about that particular corner in Madeira.  The empty lot, now occupied by Revco and surrounding businesses, was the “meeting place,”  Dick says.

     A medicine show and carnival showed up there every year, and Dick is the first to tell me that the name of the play they presented every year was “Ten Nights in Barroom.”  Like Disney, that would, no doubt, get banned or boycotted today.

     Dick, this past May, enjoyed going to talk about Madeira history to Jeanne Gulick’s “Walk through Madeira” class in the 30-Day Program at Sellman School.

     “The kids were so interested and asked such good questions,” he said.  He’s enthusiastic about the class and thinks it’s a great way to keep Madeira’s history alive.

     Dick has another hobby that goes along with his cooking. He collects teapots.  He thinks that interest stemmed from his father’s family, which was in the pottery business.

     Since retirement, Dick and Hazel Valentiner live interesting lives, filled with numerous interests.  Each supports the other.  Dick even helps Hazel in the making of her dolls.  Hazel is grateful for that.

     But most of all, she’s grateful that he likes to cook. With a live-in chef, she can devote more time to doll making and playing with dolls. To her, that’s much more fun than cooking.  Leave the cooking to Dick, and Martha Stewart.