Recalling pleasant things and taking the time to dwell on them.
As The Dunkel World Turns.
Long before the days of reality television, there was the world of TV soap operas. As The World Turns, for example, ran for 54 years, sponsored by Proctor & Gamble. And before that, radio entertained Americans on a weekly basis with dramatic stories like The Guiding Light, Young Doctor Malone, and Ma Perkins.
You see, we all enjoy hearing dramatic stories of those whose lives have a bit more spice and excitement than our own. And since we, here at Our Iowa Heritage, specialize in telling Iowa stories of days gone by, allow me today to tell you about…
At the turn of the 20th century, The Dunkel Family of Iowa City had their hands in a variety of business ventures. A Directory found in The Iowa City Republican – August 1907 – showed the following Dunkels:
So, briefly, allow me to give you the earliest beginnings of the Dunkels here in Iowa City…
As it is with most families, there was a mix of good, bad, and ugly associated with The Dunkel Family of Iowa City. The one difference, of course, is that with the Dunkels being so well known around town, many of their ups and downs made for great reading in the local newspapers! Let’s take, for example, the year – 1907…
But hey, let’s look at Charlie’s brother – Albert ‘Punch” Dunkel (below)! He’s got his Majestic Hall up and ready to roll, and according to the Local News, Punch has a new-fangled automobile on order from St. Louis, and will be the first in Iowa City to drive around in style…
Now, on the sad & shady side, 1907 also found these new articles (below) about the Dunkels. First (left), New York’s Favorite Palmist and Clairvoyant – Mile Zara – has set up shop at The Dunkel Hotel, and for 25-cents – be sure to bring the ad – Ms. Zara will tell you everything you need to know about your life. Hmm. I wonder – has the ‘Wonderful Woman’ – fresh from Europe – read Frances H. Dunkel’s fortune – opening up the door for her to divorce her long-time husband – Frank P. – who appears to be a violent and abusive drunkard! Yowsers! What a scandal!
1907 closes on a sour note for the Dunkel Family as fire once again strikes one of the Dunkel’s properties. This time, it’s The Dunkel Hotel in downtown Iowa City – the corner of College & Capitol – and while no one was killed, it sure sounds like it was a close call for Mrs. Frances H. – with her son, Charlie, saving her from certain death! Wow! What a story!
(P-0385)This rare postcard from December 1908 is addressed to Mrs. Charles (Frances) Dunkel in Iowa City and comes from a friend – Mrs. L Kos – in Washington, Iowa. Notice the text is written in German!
And, in 1913, there was another disaster that hit the Dunkel Family. Charlie F. – remember we mentioned him earlier with the 1907 postcard – went into a wild rage of jealousy, believing his wife – Frances Grace – was cheating on him. You can read all the juicy details (above right), but suffice to say, having this story on the front page of The Iowa Citizen was not the kind of publicity the family would have preferred!
Apparently, after the embarrassment of 1913, Charlie left Iowa City for several years, living and working in Rock Island, Illinois. But in 1919, ‘ole Charlie is coming back home to open up a “first-class cigar, soda and ice cream” business. Welcome home – Charlie!
We have no records, how well business went for Charlie, but in 1920, The Dunkel Family celebrated 80 years of Iowa City living. Thanks for the memories.
So, in closing – here’s a big salute to three generations of Iowa City’s Dunkel Family. Good-bad-or-ugly – you’ve made our soap-opera story quite entertaining!
Godspeed, dear Dunkel Family – Godspeed!
Kudos to the amazing resources below for the many quotes, photographs, etc. used on this page.