Interview with James Gamble, 1984 April 5 [audio](part 2)

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  • Experience with explosions at the powder yards; Dr. Chandler in Centerville and getting the flu
    Keywords: Explosions; Gunning Club; Gunpowder industry; Gunpowder, Smokeless; Influenza Epidemic (1918-1919)
    Transcript: Lotter: Must have been a bad explosion.

    Gamble: Well, yeah, it's a place where - a whole lot bigger than this, and these men were in there, and the powder, I understand, they had to separate it or get stuff out of the powder. And a lot of boys that I run around with up there - one of these boys, his name was Elmer Thompson, Compson - the Compsons from up the creek. And I was - my uncle's first name's Elmer too, and I often asked him - his cousin, and he says he don't remember him, but he's a little younger than I am, so he was a cousin of Elmer's and his mother used to come to my Grandmom and to help Grandmom with a lot of work, Mrs. Compson's mother. And he was - oh the Bairds - ever hear of them speak of the Bairds up the creek?

    Lotter: No, I haven't.

    Gamble: They come to me, the names every once in a while, cause when I went up - I used to belong up at Green Hill Church, and I'd go up there and all the kids were all sit on the railing.

    Lotter: And you were talking about an explosion?

    Gamble: Yeah, did you ever hear, if you ever hear an explosion it's very funny; now I've heard a few of them. Now I might be just guessing this or something, but if you ask somebody else, when an explosion comes, you don't know it - well, outside I mean. I was on this side of the creek one time, where you come down from the Experimental Station and go across the bridge - well there was no bridge, you had to go straight into the - across the wooden bridge. Well, I was up there with the Gunning Club that used to be there and a - this fellow that went to school with my sister up there - Jones - Jones Farm was right there.

    Lotter: Near the Gunning Club?

    Gamble: Yeah, and that's where I was then, coming around there and I was standing there and this explosion hit. Well, to me it felt like - I didn't hear nothing, all of a sudden, I didn't hear nothing at all - like everything stopped, air and everything else. And then the explosion, but they say the explosion happened before that. But you didn't hear it, well I don't know, I think they're crazy, I heard it [laughs].

    Lotter: When was this explosion that you're talking about?

    Gamble: Well, that was around the first World War.

    Lotter: Do you remember any when you were younger, any explosions?

    Gamble: Yeah, I remember one, and all the people up in Squirrel Run, that's where the yards were, they would - women would come out and want to know whose husband was working this shift, was working today. I know that's what the - which one - Cunningham was blown off - that's when I heard the first of that, that somebody - Grandmom, see Grandmom, Mrs. Gamble - Mr. Cunningham went up in the powder - nobody else - nobody speak much about the whole thing. They found out who it was and they were awful quiet about all that stuff. Nothing you could do - Grandpop he - I said to Grandpop about it - he said, "Well, I'll tell you, I was up in the yard working," he said what building he was working in, "and one went off." And he says, "I was walking down and I don't know which one of these du Ponts was coming up, and says, "Sam, anybody get hurt?" He said, "I don't know, I think", he told who the man was that was working that shift, he said, "Well, come back up, and let me see it." He said, "I'm going home. Go that way." Oh, he was a funny man. But it's nice up in there, you know Black Gates, you ever - Black Gates up in there across...

    Lotter: Yes, there's a Black Gate Road.

    Gamble: Yeah, yeah. I worked up in there when they were repairing all that stuff, up in there, years ago. Where there used to be a cotton mill up in there, or no, the woolen mill, there was a woolen mill up in there too, you know. Up in the yard, they'd turned, just turned it over to something, I mean, all up in there. We did work on...

    Lotter: This was in the Hagley Yard?

    Gamble: Yeah, up in the powder yard. Down in the Hagley Yard they made, they worked on smokeless powder, it was altogether different. But there were quite a few blown up in the powder. You ever in the mill, see how it works?

    Lotter: Yes, yes, the wheel?

    Gamble: Yeah.

    Lotter: Yes.

    Gamble: It was all wood, and they had a wooden shovel, the piece that fits in under the wheels, you know? But the tumbling, I don't know whether I know what I'm talking about or not, but you don't get - they don't blow up when - much - when the mill is running. They blow up a lot after the mill stops because you drive your wedge in here, and you do the same on the other side, and you do four of them, the wedge you drive in I think. And every thing is wood, the shovel, the wedges, the big wooden mallet they drive it with, but if there's any powder underneath that wedge, when you pull that wedge out and that big iron wheel comes down and hits that, that's when the explosion comes. That's what they tell me, I don't know whether it's so.

    Lotter: That makes sense.

    Gamble: Yeah, well I tell everybody that anyway. Some of them say I'm crazy, I said, "Well, I'm not going in there to find out."

    Lotter: Now, were there any doctors in the area when you were young that - you know, if there was an explosion or someone was hurt?

    Gamble: Centerville. When the explosion? Well, I don't know about the doctors then. When I was born - do you know where Centerville?

    Lotter: Yes.

    Gamble: That's where I - Dr. Joe Chandler. And then there was another doctor up there too.

    Lotter: You had to go all the way to Centerville to get a doctor?

    Gamble: That's right, as far as I know. That's what I say - old Doc Chandler, Joe Chandler.

    Lotter: Do you remember any epidemics, any illnesses when you were young?

    Gamble: Well not in them days, the only ones I remember was the flu in the first World War - I had it. I was about 14, 12 or 14 years old when I got it. We had some neighbors, two of them were nurses - they worked night and day in the Delaware Hospital, but they both died theirself. They wouldn't come home, they stayed there - living two doors below us, Tamminey. But DuPont's a good company to work for, I think. They have a lot of good points, but they have a lot of bad people - that's what I mean, bad people. They come in and they want to be the head guy right there and know about it and everything - I don't know. I was supposed to go out to the Station now the last of this month for an examination, my monthly - yearly examination. But I go to my doctor's every other month - Dr. Kerrigan.
  • Looking at photographs in "The Workers' World" publication and non-interview discussion
    Keywords: Breck's Mill; Hagee's tavern; Hagley Community House; Hibernians; Saint Joseph on the Brandywine Church
    Transcript: Lotter: Well, I don't want to tire you out - I'd like, I'd appreciate it if you would sign a permission form for us that we might use this information that is on the tape.

    Gamble: I'll do that if you'll do one thing for me.

    Lotter: What is that?

    Gamble: Will you see how I can get in to see the pictures, wherever they're at, of all the people who were in there. All the people - you know you can go walk around and there are some of them, the pictures are in there?

    Lotter: You might find a lot of pictures in this book that I'm going to leave with you.

    Gamble: Because my Grandmother's in there.

    Lotter: Is that right?

    Gamble: And my Grandfather. And we used to have...

    Lotter: Was this in the "Workers' World" display, are you talking about?

    Gamble: I guess so, I don't know where they're at.

    Lotter: Because some of the pictures are in this book, and you may find some of them, but I will check into that for you.

    Gamble: See, my brother and myself would like to go in sometime, just to see them. Now I had a cousin who - well my Grandmother and...

    Lotter: Now is this your Grandmother and Grandfather Frizell or both of them?

    Gamble: Well, both of them are in there. See, my Grandmother and Grandfather Gamble was boss of all the plant and all the property there at one time.

    Lotter: I see.

    Gamble: Because this cousin, he has - you know where Walker's Mill is?

    Lotter: Yes.

    Gamble: Well they had Walker's Mill after Walker - that was Barlow, that was their name. See his mother and my father are brother and sister. Now he took all his stuff he had up to the mills and he stayed up there, I mean up to the powder mill, and he talked - he liked to go up there, he was retired from the bank in town, and I'd like to see - they tell me that some of the old people are in there, I mean their pictures are in there, and other things. I'd just like to - I know a man, fellow I worked with, well this was one of the Comptons, he had pictures about that long of things on the creek, of people in there.

    Lotter: I see.

    Gamble: He - that was his hobby, I don't know whether he still has them or not, I'll find out. But I'd just like to see some of them. Now my Grandfather, I don't remember. I know he had whiskers, I seen him one time with another man and a neighbor of mine.

    Lotter: Which grandfather was this?

    Gamble: Gamble, he had the long whiskers. Yeah, he was a...

    Lotter: Well, I'll certainly look into it - we'd certainly like to...

    Gamble: Yeah, I'd like to - wait a minute, I think - you can't if you pay the four dollars you can't see all that, you can see the machinery, they'll show you how out of wood and all that stuff.

    Lotter: Right, right.

    Gamble: Well, I've seen enough of that, I don't want to see that. I want to see the real people, you know, like television. [laughs]

    Lotter: I'll see what I can do.

    Gamble: I get something here that...

    Lotter: Okay, I just unplugged you, watch out for that cord.

    Gamble: Oh, Jiminy Christmas.

    [Unidentified woman]: He'll walk allover it if you don't watch him.

    Lotter: I'll unplug it - there, I don't want you to trip on it - it's all right. [long pause]

    [Unidentified woman]: Well, it turned out to be a nicer day than they said it was going to be.

    Lotter: I think it has, it certainly has.

    [Unidentified woman]: This weather's really been a mess. We had to be out all day yesterday.

    Lotter: Oh, did you?

    [Unidentified woman]: Yes, it was really something. It's hard on him.

    Gamble: I'm not holding you up am I?

    Lotter: Not at all, not at all, I've enjoyed talking to you and I'd like to leave this book with you. You may know some of the people in that book. I think you, yeah, I think you...

    Gamble: See this here? That's Grandfather. Well, we had a lot of pictures like these, but I don't know.

    [Unidentified woman]: I don't know where they are.

    [Unidentified man]: Well, I don't think Jim got them.

    Lotter: If you could find any of them, we would really love to see some of them, we'd certainly take good care of them and return them to you, but if you can't find any, and you also mentioned you have another brother...

    Gamble: Yeah.

    Lotter: ...in the area, do you think he might be interested in talking to us?

    [Unidentified woman]: No.

    Gamble: Well, he was raised in the city with Pop.

    Lotter: He was?

    [Unidentified woman]: I had said to the lady that called, the first lady that called - I said well maybe we could have the two brothers here, and she said, "No, we don't like to do that." So then I was talking with him and he said, "No, I really don't know that much."

    Lotter: Well, he was younger.

    Gamble: Gentieu? You called it "Johnteau."

    Lotter: Yes, yes.

    Gamble: They're our friends, old man - son used to live right down here.

    Lotter: Oh, really?

    [Unidentified woman]: Was that his son? Oh, the family that was here was his mother?

    Gamble: Yeah, Gentieu - he was French.

    [Unidentified woman]: I don't get into this because I don't know... [Several voices talking at once]

    Gamble: He was a great man in there - my father knew him.

    Lotter: Well I hope you'll enjoy looking through this.

    Gamble: There's the old bridge.

    Lotter: Yes. Yes, I'm sure you'll know most of these pictures in here, I'm sure they'll be familiar. In fact, if you don't mind sometime, maybe I'll come back and we can discuss some of these pictures.

    [Unidentified woman]: Well, in the meantime, there is one place he might be able to look and see. I've been trying to get rid of a lot of pictures between my family and his, and of course then children have wanted different things.

    Lotter: I'm sure.

    [Unidentified woman]: And so something might turn up. The only thing is, I do know a long time ago, we went through pictures and we had no idea who they were or what it was. And of course I'm no help to him whatsoever. Now his brother, and even his wife, would be better than I am, because she knows more...

    Gamble: There's that store - Henry - see.

    Lotter: Whose store was this?

    Gamble: Harry Gregg.

    Lotter: Oh, yes.

    [Unidentified woman]: He likes to look at things like that.

    Lotter: Oh, I'm sure they'll bring back a lot of memories.

    Gamble: ...between the Catholics and the Protestants, Episcopalians.

    Lotter: And here is this...

    Gamble: That's Sam Frizell.

    Lotter: That's right.

    [Unidentified man]: Which one's he?

    Gamble: Squirrel Run - Sam Frizell.

    [Unidentified woman]: Well, the little house...

    Gamble: Harry Gregg - where you come down Rising Sun hill and make the turn.

    Lotter: Yes.

    Gamble: And this is where, see that offset in there, in here, that's Uncle Sam's store.

    Lotter: Right - right on the bottom floor, on the ground floor.

    Gamble: Yeah - that burnt down. And then right here - let's see, you come down here...

    Lotter: Now this looks like it was a dirt road at...

    Gamble: Yeah, they all were dirt roads then. And this one here goes up to the - see this one here goes on up to the mill.

    Lotter: Okay, so this is Creek Road here?

    Gamble: And this is where the Hagley Community House is.

    Lotter: Oh yes, at Breck's Mill.

    [Unidentified woman]: Did they ever finish the little pink - was it a pink house that Frizell house that was over like in the parking lot, did they ever fix it up again?

    Lotter: It has been fixed up - it's open for the school children.

    [Unidentified woman]: We were out one time and they'd had a fire. Somebody had told us about it and we went out and I think and just had fire engines before that, so that was supposed to be the Frizell grocery - general store or something, wasn't it?

    Lotter: Yes, yes, yes - it is open now. [Pause] You see any familiar faces?

    Gamble: Not on this one, I seen on those other ones I had. There's the old - now that's the bigger trolley car. We have a picture - it must have close to 35 men on it and they all had derby hats on. And if you'd have seen them, they looked like a bunch of drunks and they were right in front of this - oh, that tavern there - what's it's name? Agnes used to keep it - Agnes, I can't think of her name. Right there on Creek Road - that tavern there?

    Lotter: Oh, Hagee's?

    Gamble: Hagee's, yeah, Helen Hagee was her name. All these churches, now this, which one's this? Doesn't say.

    Lotter: No, it doesn't.

    Gamble: Well see, this must be the Catholic church because they all used to go up stairs. To Green Hill I know you go up stairs, and I know you do out there too. And they had this here out at Hagley - the Catholics didn't have a big school, just had a small school. The Knights - what do they call themselves?

    [Unidentified woman]: Knights of Columbus?

    Gamble: Hibernians, the Hibernians built a place, two stories, next to St. Joseph's Church. So the priest moved in there, I don't know what his name was, he put them out so they put - used that for the new school, that was the new school there.

    Lotter: Oh.
  • Continued discussion of photographs and restored locations at Hagley Museum
    Keywords: Company stores; Grocery trade; Hagley Museum and Library; Hispano-Suiza automobile; Industrial accidents; photographs; Sunday school teachers; Tom Catalina's store; Victor Stirling's store
    Transcript: Gamble: One time - that looks like that's the office.

    Lotter: Yes, that's...

    Gamble: That's where Francis - that's where I started kindergarten, then I moved.

    Lotter: And Alexis I.

    Gamble: Yetter - I can't think of his name, was principal up there. Bess Stirling, that was my Sunday School teacher.

    Lotter: I don't either.

    [Unidentified woman]: I don't remember all this from my childhood, 'course my life was different from his, too.

    Gamble: Victor Stirling, I guess we call them 32nd cousins of ours.

    Lotter: Is that right?

    Gamble: Stirling, had the store in the yard, the powder yard.

    Lotter: Yes, yes.

    Gamble: Did all the hiring and stuff like that for DuPont's.

    Lotter: I see, now what kind of things did he carry in the store in the yards?

    Gamble: Well, everything that you used, the Company used, plus what the men could buy. But I don't think they bought much of anything, but they got all the rest of...

    [Unidentified woman]: What do you man, clothing or tools?

    Gamble: I think so, they did, but they got it over at - in Squirrel Run - Tom Catalina had a store over in there.

    Lotter: In Squirrel Run?

    Gamble: In Squirrel Run, yeah.

    Lotter: Now were there other stores in Squirrel Run, or was that...

    Gamble: Yeah, there was two other stores - no, one in Squirrel Run and then one up towards - I'd say two squares up, above Grandmom's, and then the other one was up in Barney Hunter's at the end of the line we called that. Montchanin - that's still there. I think that's where you come across the railroad tracks to go down into Rockland. Victor Stirling. Stirlings had a big house out on the Pike there by the DuPont Country Club.

    Lotter: Oh, they did?

    Gamble: Tom's had a place.

    Lotter: That I didn't know.

    Gamble: They are all dead but one, and he's in California now, Tom's two youngest ones. Breck's Mill. Well, I'd like to look this over. This is going down there, that's Breck's Mill, that's what you called it.

    Lotter: Yes.

    Gamble: And this one here is Walker's. But Howard, my cousin, he had all these mills painted - you know, a painting of all the mills?

    Lotter: Oh, he does?

    Gamble: I don't know whether - well there's only two brothers left - or two grandsons, I think, Howard, no Bobby Barlow.

    [Unidentified woman]: Cousins, cousins - no grandsons, he never married.

    Gamble: Cousins

    [Unidentified woman]: Bos boy, that would be...

    Gamble: Yeah, he's got the old home out there on 18th Street. You know where 18th Street is?

    Lotter: Yes, yes.

    Gamble: And Riverview Avenue, right...

    Lotter: I know about where that is, yes.

    Gamble: Woodlawn Avenue?

    Lotter: Yes, yes, I know Woodlawn.

    Gamble: Well, right around the corner from Woodlawn Avenue on 18th Street facing north, on the right, that's Barlow's place there. With the exception of one that is down by the...

    [Unidentified woman]: A big home, in fact, it's very interesting.

    Lotter: Is it, u-huh.

    [Unidentified woman]: Well, you can sit down and study the book now, that will give you something to do until dinnertime, may keep you from going to sleep. [laughs]

    Gamble: Yeah, find 'em all, maybe I can tell you a whole lot more.

    Lotter: Fine, if you can identify some of those people, that would be a big help to us. Maybe in a few weeks I could come back and talk to you again. Hopefully the weather will be a little bit better.

    [Unidentified woman]: The wind last - the wind was very bad here last night. It was almost like the storm we had before.

    Lotter: Is that right? It wasn't quite as bad where we were.

    [Unidentified woman]: And Wednesday night we all - most of us along here put our trash and garbage cans out - and we do have a part, the lady next door, she doesn't, and I said, "Oh, I'll bet it will upset and it will be all the way up the street." But fortunately, it didn't, but everyone I've talked to, I was out this morning, and they said, "Oh, did you sleep last night with all that?" It was really bad.

    Lotter: Oh, that's a shame. We don't need another storm like that last one. There were over forty trees down at Hagley.

    [Unidentified woman]: Really?

    Lotter: Yes, yes, some of them were very big trees.

    [Unidentified man]: All them trees are marked too, did you ever notice?

    Lotter: A lot of them are, yes, yes.

    Gamble: Everyone goes - now Mrs. Copeland, a part of the Experimental Station grounds, they owned that, now that she's dead - every tree was marked, you know when she had it, and you could tell...

    Lotter: Oh, really?

    Gamble: Every tree, and one blew down, or they cut one down, they'd have to replace it. That's the way...

    Lotter: Well that's a good idea.

    Gamble: That's going on this side of the creek, by the - here, go down this road. Walker's Banks, I know that, aw, come on, give us some names.

    Lotter: Do you remember the Kindbeiters that lived, and I think Ferraro's lived on this end?

    Gamble: Yeah. Mandear we used to call him, that's the little one, Ferraro.

    Lotter: Oh, is that right.

    Gamble: Yeah, and the other one was Eric, Eric Ferraro.

    Lotter: Yes, yes, I've heard of him.

    Gamble: Yeah, he had - he was working - he's a blacksmith, and he was working in the blacksmith shop, and outside of that they were going to take a big thing off the truck, and so he come out and helped. And the thing come over, and went on his legs, gotta cut his leg off.

    Lotter: And then I guess there were two sisters?

    Gamble: Yeah, yeah, they were both, what do you call them - seamstresses.

    Lotter: Yes. Oh, both of them were seamstresses?

    Gamble: Yeah, same way with the Dougherty's too, that's what they were.

    Lotter: Oh, they were?

    Gamble: Most - a lot of them, they went to work for these du Ponts in the house, and that's what they were, seamstresses, stuff like that.

    Lotter: I see. Now did they do any sewing for the residents?

    Gamble: Oh some did, yeah.

    Lotter: In the area?

    [Unidentified woman]: I guess in those days everybody had to do their own sewing - families.

    Lotter: I would think so.

    Gamble: Boy, that is an old one, I don't know any of them.

    [Unidentified woman]: Having a seamstress would be quite expensive I would think.

    Lotter: Yes. Yes, they probably had special dresses made, but I'm sure most of the women sewed.

    Gamble: It's the place now where the moving pictures is, isn't it?

    Lotter: Yes, the machine shop. They have this whole end restored now, over here.

    Gamble: Mrs. Copeland, when she - no not this place, the other one-story building...

    Lotter: The new machine shop?

    Gamble: The old, yeah, the old, small - I think that's - yeah, because of the way this looks, could be this. Mrs. Copeland used to keep them cars in there and they used to have a French car, Hispano-Suiza, I think, or Spanish car. It belonged to the boy, and that's where he used to keep it, up in there.

    Lotter: Oh, really?

    Gamble: Then she had another...

    Lotter: Not up in the barn?

    Gamble: No, no, I know where you mean, the barn - that's where we seen the movies, up in the barn.

    Lotter: But she didn't keep the cars up there?

    Gamble: No, she kept them...

    [Unidentified woman]: That was the day of that - what they had the Irish - what did they call it?

    Lotter: Irish Day?

    [Unidentified woman]: Yeah, years ago we went up and it was a cold day, it was awful cold up there. I don't think we've been up since. He may have been up with somebody.

    Lotter: Well, they're having another Irish Day celebration on the fourteenth of April - did you get a notice for it?

    [Unidentified woman]: Yes, we got that for it, yes, but I don't think we'll be there.

    Lotter: Well, if it's a nice day maybe.

    [Unidentified woman]: Well, he can't walk too well, and I'm just recuperating from - well it will be a year from my broken hip, so I haven't been - I'm just starting to walk any distance, and without a cane.

    Gamble: Well, thank you, I'll look that other thing.

    Lotter: You're welcome, I hope you enjoy it and I would like to come back and talk to you again, I enjoyed it very much.

    [Unidentified woman]: He'll probably have it all memorized and then he'll give it to his brother, and then...

    Lotter: Maybe you can help me with some of the names and we have other people who have recognized faces in there, so hopefully we'll be identify more of them.

    [Unidentified woman]: His son is very interested in that, because as I said, he lived in West Virginia.

    Gamble: Do you live far from here?

    Lotter: I live down in Newark.

    [Unidentified man]: Outside of the United States.

    Lotter: [Laughs] Not quite, it's far enough.

    [Unidentified woman]: You going to let him get away with that?

    Lotter: I will see what I can do about finding out any information about these pictures.

    Gamble: Yeah, I mean they said they had a place you could go and look in and see all this, I don't know...

    Lotter: All right, I'll see if I can find out where they are kept and when you can come and see them. Well, thank you again, I enjoyed it. Bye-bye.