Interview with James Kindbeiter, 1984 April 13 [audio]

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  • Local character "Mad Dog" Hodgson; being a half hour late for his own wedding; acquaintance with Betty du Pont
    Keywords: City and town life; Du Pont family; Husband and wife; Man-woman relationships; Stoves, Gas; Weddings
    Transcript: Kindbeiter: Well, he got a woman tied up up there, running her all the time -— Katie Todd. You asked for it, now, don't blame me for it.

    Bennett: Well, I never heard of the name before and somebody mentioned it.

    Kindbeiter: Dog.

    Bennett: Mad Dog.

    Kindbeiter: We always called him Dog. Dog Hodgson.

    Bennett: To his face?

    Kindbeiter: Yeah. Call him Dog. He run the woolen mill over in Walker's Bank. They had a long driveway going down to the mill. The office was up top of it. Oh, he was all business down there 'til come quitting time and then he'd leave with Katie Todd. And he finally went to Florida. He went down below Miami and bought a house down there. He lived at 14th and Riverview. When he went down there and Katie Todd went with him. And he died down there. And I don't know what become of Katie. Well, she had a sister Mary and Helen. But their name wasn't the same as Katie. Yes they were, too. Katie Todd and Mary Todd and Helen Todd. Helen Todd was something wrong with her eyes. She had a lot of eye trouble and she was cross eyed and almost blind. But they lived at 14th and Riverview.

    Bennett: Why do you suppose they never married?

    Kindbeiter: Well, they had reason to never marry. Dan Hodgson was already married. His wife was a nice kind of a woman. I know one time Dan says, "Hey, you coming out of town?" "Yeah, stop at the house and get my dinner for me." They'd pack it in a tin box, you know. I like a nut stopped to pick it up for him. He lived then at 14th and Riverview and then he moved to 16th and Riverview. His wife was kind of a character, too. She didn't put up with him too much. She lived with him because they had three sons, and she had to look out for them. So, what the hell did she do but pack the lunch for him with stools out of the toilet. Put it on there. And he jumped all over me -- give me hell for bringing it up there. I said, "Hey, wait a minute." I started then in a cussing match. So they pushed me outside and left him go. But that's what the woman done to him. She got even with him.

    Bennett: And you got the blame?

    Kindbeiter: I got the blame.

    Bennett: What was his disposition like when they say Mad Dog?

    Kindbeiter: Well, when he was around that woolen mill. I remember it as well as I do my own name. They had spinning frames all down -- had four rows of them. And they had women and girls working there. They would spin the wool and make it into heavier wool and then they would sell it. They would dye it and everything down on the first floor. So, after they would dye it -- they'd dye it and sell it, and he was stern with them girls up there. Oh, he'd make faces at them and everything. And then when quitting time come he'd take Katie Todd and they'd leave. And the old man -- he was an old Englishman -- what the devil was his name -- Billy Hodgson. We always called them Hodgson. Their name was H-o-d-g-s-o-n. That's the name they went by.

    Bennett: O.K. I'm glad you cleared that up because I was thinking H-U-D-S-O-N.

    Kindbeiter: Well, that's what we called them -- "Hudson." Hodgson. H-O-D-G. Well, he had a brother that he couldn't stand, old Billy. He went up to New England and started a cotton mill. I don't know how he made out up there. He had one son, Sammy. He used to come down here once in a while and stop and see all the friends he had. But, old Billy -- Dan had to keep on the dark side of Billy. He didn't know anything about Katie. Dan was running her. So what are you gonna do?

    Bennett: Were there any other people in the area with strange names and nicknames like Mad Dog?

    Kindbeiter: No, not offhand. They called him Dog and Doggie and Mad Dog and everything else.

    Bennett: Kind of a character.

    Kindbeiter: Yeah. I even remember the automobile. I know you don't remember it. Winton. The Winton automobile. And it was as far as I remember it was a European car. He had three of them, one right after the other.

    Bennett: What year would this be?

    Kindbeiter: Now you got me stopped. That would be l9l7,'18,'l9.

    Bennett: War time?

    Kindbeiter: Yeah.

    Bennett: That car is a very unfamiliar name.

    Kindbeiter: I was -- we were married in 1925 -- Halloween night.

    Bennett: You told me in the beginning of our first interview that you had a reception that went on for a whole week.

    Kindbeiter: A whole week -- it might have went on longer than that.

    Bennett: Tell me about your wedding. Why don't you start with your wedding? Where you were married?

    Kindbeiter: All right, now I'll start with the wedding. My wife came down to live with her sister and brother-in-law at 9th and Adams. That's where the freeway cuts through now. So, then we decided to get married, and the brother-in-law he didn't think much of me. But, I finally taught him to drive a car and drive a bus and he drove the bus for the trash company. This may amuse you. The way I taught him to drive I took him up in the Hagley Yard across the iron bridge over on the same side Walker's Bank is on. And him and I drove up there from 7 o'clock in the morning until late at night. And he come out of there and he could drive.

    But, the way we got married at St. Peter's -- I was half an hour late. Frankie McKenna lived up on the Kennett Pike and my wife's sister. Stood up for us. Frankie lived up at Buck Road and Kennett Pike. He worked for the Pullman Company. So, a half hour late. What we done in the morning -- we were moving into Judge Laffey's apartment, and we carried a big gas stove down the steps. The wife she didn't like a big gas stove -- wanted a little one. So, we carried this big gas stove down the steps. I still got a lump in back of my ear -- I guess it's this ear -- carrying the stove down, he was in the back and I was in the front and the stove got away coming down there. It was heavy. They built stoves them days. By the time I got straighted out I was half hour late going to church.

    Bennett: Did it knock you out?

    Kindbeiter: Yeah, knocked me out. And I can see him yet, pouring water on me to wake me up. [Laughter]. Well, that was part of the business. So, I went to St. Peter's Church and all the people were in there, they played the organ and the organist would turn it over and play it over again, and it ended up me being a half-hour late. He was half-hour late, too, and my sister-in-law and the wife was sitting there like mummies. So, then we got married. Coming out of church, Hughey Casey -- worked for Belin du Pont. He's the first man ever worked for DuPont's that they ever put a bed in in the airport for him to sleep on. Belin got chasing around Betty du Pont. She was married to a guy by the name of Smith that had these lockers in railroad stations. So she divorced him and married H. B. du Pont. She's still a friend of mine. I stop and see her once in awhile and talk to her. She and her mother was a wonderful person. We used to -- her father was Vic. He had the whiskey barrels outside with the cider in and glass tube down and he'd make his own applejack in the wintertime. And the winters were colder then than they are now. So, but his wife was a real little lady. She was a nice woman. I come up King Street one day with a truck, and I wanted to go into Hurley Powell's. I'll never forget this as long as I live. Hurley Powell's furniture store. And she was parked right in front of the driveway. I get out of the truck and I says, "Mrs. du Pont, you stay there as long as you want to stay there. I'm going to park this truck here and I'm going to get a couple of beers after I park it. "Well," she says, "I don't want you to do any more work than you have to." That's how humane the woman was. I said, "No, you stay here. I'll leave you room to get out and when you get ready to go out, you can pull out. Leave the truck set out." They wouldn't bother a truck parked on King Street. So, she lived alone after her daughter got married -- Betty got married -- Charlie went down to Charleston, West Virginia, and Vic went to school down there. He was the first son and Charlie was the second son. And Emily who married H. B. du Pont was the third daughter -- fourth daughter -- first daughter. So, they were all nice people. They were all humane and I've had Betty du Pont holler at me going down the Kennett Pike -- "Hey, why don't you speak to me?" Holler out the car window at me. Now that's the kind of people they were. I don't know. It's one of the things.
  • His week-long wedding reception at Hagley House
    Keywords: Caterers and catering; Dance; Distilling, Illicit; Parties; Prohibition; Theft; Wedding cakes; Weddings
    Transcript: Bennett: Now, you got married. Now tell me what kind of a dress did your wife wear and what did you wear? Did you wear a hat?

    Kindbeiter: I carried a hat that time, but I think I left it in church. I had a [slouch?] hat on and I left it in church. And then I bought another hat after that, and I give it to my granddaughter. She was going out Halloween night and I give her the hat to take with her. But coming out of church there was a lot of people there. Of course, my wife didn't know many people down here and a lot of people knew me. I had a big family, and they come to church. And this Hughey Casey we were talking about. The only man worked for the DuPont Company ever had a bed installed in the airport. He had a bed put in the airport out there. So, if H. B. du Pont would come in at night, they'd wake him up by radio and he'd turn be lights on to land the plane. But this time the same guy that he -- well, Hughey Casey, the man -- he married an aunt of mine.

    Bennett: Well, now was Hughey Casey your best man?

    Kindbeiter: No, Frankie McKenna. He lived up the Kennett Pike.

    Bennett: But Casey went to your wedding?

    Kindbeiter: 0h, Casey went to the wedding. All the family went to the wedding.

    Bennett: How many bridesmaids did your wife have?

    Kindbeiter: Just one.

    Bennett: Did she carry flowers like they do today?

    Kindbeiter: Oh, yeah, carried flowers.

    Bennett: Did you wear a boutonniere?

    Kindbeiter: Yeah -- big bouquet -- Somebody said, "Why the hell don't you take that bouquet off."

    Bennett: All right. You came out of church and then what did you do?

    Kindbeiter: Coming out. Well, before we got out of church, Hughey Casey got up and come up and gave the wife a kiss and shook hands with me and he went right across the street at 6th and West on 6th Street and leaned against the fence -- he was drunk, of course, he fell down the steps backwards. That finished him. They got him home. So, then, they held the reception up at the Hagley House. And that lasted for a week up there -- or longer. A week, anyway. I know it lasted for a week. We were hauling alcohol out of Rising Sun, Maryland. The gang come up from down in the South and they run stills up there and they never bothered them all the time they were running them. They were making pretty good whiskey. And they come up to Newark, and Cunningham was the chief of police of Newark. And he was a son-of-a-gun. They had the main street in Newark was two ways. And we always carried a hatchet on the floor to chop the can in case he came up. So, he never bothered us. We came through there. He knew we weren't selling it. We were -- for our own use. We'd take that five-gallon can of alcohol up to the Hagley House. Take another five-gallon can and pour it into a ten gallon can. And pour the alcohol in that and stir it up. And then we finally got so we put color in it. To stop you drinking it colored. So that went on for, I know, a week.

    Bennett: Did you have music?

    Kindbeiter: Yeah. They had dancing every night.

    Bennett: And did you have food?

    Kindbeiter: Yeah. They had food. Well, it finally ended up after the first two or three nights we finally had sandwiches.

    Bennett: What did they have like the day you were married?

    Kindbeiter: Oh, it was a catered affair when we were married. They had all steak and everything else. Half that gang never ate steak before.

    Bennett: Did you have a wedding cake?

    Kindbeiter: Yeah, wedding cake and that was up on the table in the middle of the floor.

    Bennett: Things haven't changed that much.

    Kindbeiter: No, it hasn't changed. That's in 1925. Yeah, Halloween, 1925. Had a big -- well, of course, lot of ins and outs before that. Now, New Bridge Station was where the railroad runs across at Rising Sun Lane. Well, DuPonts used that siding over in back of the station. And I finally rented that station off the Reading Company, but we -- I ran it as a warehouse for storage. We had -- or as I say, I rented that station. And then we needed coal to heat that Hagley House. Had a Franklin automobile. That had a wooden frame on it and it was a good car -- a fancy car. Touring car. Put the top down and backed it up alongside the car. We hauled eight loads of coal. Out of soft coal. Belonged to DuPont's of course, it was Saturday; they didn't know it. Took it down and piled it up and that's what we heated the building with. Stole the coal and heated the building. They'd put me in jail and throw the key away after they found out what we had done. But, that's the way we done it -— it kept the building warm. And then, as I say we we had something to eat every night and the first meal was catered. Well, the gang got drunk.

    Bennett: You would go back every night then until the booze ran out?

    Kindbeiter: Yeah. My wife says, "When is it going to quit?" Oh, I said, it will be over after a while, don't worry about it.

    Bennett: You really had a good start.
  • Working for Judge Laffey in Deadwood, South Dakota; building St. Joseph's Church; John D. Kelly's Logan House on Delaware Avenue and dairy on Rising Sun Lane
    Keywords: Cattle stealing; Dairying; Judge Laffey; Logan House; Oxen; Prohibition; Property, Real; Salesianum; Voluntarism
    Transcript: Kindbeiter: Well, at that time, I worked for Judge Laffey. He was a vice president of the DuPont Company. Lived at 3 Red Oak Road. They furnished the apartment down there to live and that's when I say the stove fell down the steps, it was too damn big. The wife didn't like it. And that was it. But he was a pretty good skate. He died in 1937 or '38. I worked for him all that time. I spent a good bit of the time out in Deadwood, South Dakota, servicing diesel pumps on the lot out there. He had -- run into four counties. The match factory was run by people named Hart in Wilmington. They lived -- the Greenstone house on Delaware Avenue -- it's torn down now to make these steamboat apartments at Broom Street on down to the car barn. And they run the narrow gage railroad out in Deadwood, South Dakota. And that run from Broken Bow, Nebraska, up to Deadwood, South Dakota, up the hill. They backed that train in in the daytime and then they had the Hibernians was the crew on the train. They got rustling cattle and stealing up there and then they run the Broken Bow Railroad up to Deadwood, South Dakota, from Broken Bow, Nebraska up to Deadwood, South Dakota and on top of that they owned the glutch down at the bottom of the hill. That was the red light houses all down there. So, down in Florida one time, Laffey says, "Say, did you see that ring that Mama lost?" They always called her Mama. She come from South Dakota by covered wagon out to Deadwood. I said, no I didn't pay no attention to it. Oh, he says, I bought that in Swift's in the bookshops. And her riding in the back of the car. I know she couldn't help but hear it. And they finally left Florida and they found it laying down under the trunk. Somebody kicked it under the trunk. She might have done it herself.

    Bennett: Was it a valuable one?

    Kindbeiter: Oh, it was. It was a great big rock. They had it insured for $20,000. With Gilpin, Van Trump and Montgomery. That was a lot of money. Will you have a drink? I mean water?

    Bennett: Sure, I'd love to have a drink of water. [Laughter]

    Kindbeiter: Well, the men working in the powder plant carried the material up there and built the church out of it.

    Bennett: At St. Joseph's Church?

    Kindbeiter: Yeah. They built the church out of -- the men that worked in the powder works down along the Brandywine. They were all Catholics. They worked up there on the church and they built the church. They didn't buy any material; they stole it.

    Bennett: Do you think they gave it to them at all?

    Kindbeiter: Well, they knew it was being stolen. Lots of things DuPont's knew was going on, but they never bothered about it.

    Bennett: So, who was the contractor for the church?

    Kindbeiter: No, I don't. That's way before my time.

    Bennett: What I was really wondering was if it was done on a volunteer basis?

    Kindbeiter: Well, it was on volunteer basis. The men still to that. Now, there's that big gymnasium out at Corpus Christi Church. That was built the same way, with the people living in the neighborhood coming along and worked day and night on that building.

    Bennett: Wasn't Salesianum built that way, too?

    Kindbeiter: I don't know whether Salesianum was or not. I had an option on that property over there to buy it one time. My wife says to me, "You ought to go to the bank and borrow money to pay for it." I said, "How am I going to get credit to go to the bank." "You can get it. Go there. Get somebody to go your credit." And I never did. But they sold that whole property over where Wanamaker's is -- it was the National down where Salesianum is built now. We used to haul rubbish over there and dump it. After the Brandywine Park stopped us from dumping over there. I was living on Red Oak Road then. We would haul it up to where Salesianum School is built -- tree limbs, trees, all kinds of junk. And we never thought of buying it. My wife was brighter than I was.

    Bennett: That's a nice spot. The only thing was the railroad that's right there...

    Kindbeiter: Well, the railroad never bothered it. You see, over at Delaware Avenue where the Logan House is - well that railroad made a turn there to get over to straighten out to go to Philadelphia. And they wanted to take that turn out of the railroad. In that way the Logan House would get more property, and the Irishman, John D. Kelly, he says, "The hell with them. I don't want no more property there; I got enough." And that's what happened to it. The B& amp; O would gladly give them property for what they took, but he didn't want no property. That old John D. Kelly was quite a man. He used to run a dairy at the top of Rising Sun Hill. Where the trolley cars come down 19th Street. He run a dairy down there. And he had oxen. The first time I ever saw oxen. Worked on a treadmill. They were grinding feed. They'd get on that treadmill and he'd give them a swat with the whip and they'd keep that treadmill turning all day.

    Bennett: Where was this?

    Kindbeiter: At the top of Rising Sun Hill right across the street from Irenee du Pont's and Conways -- yeah Conways saloon where he had smallpox. Ned Conway. The oxen would work the treadmill. I'm getting old when I'm talking like that. But, I see somewhere -- reading in the paper here they're having an oxen race down in Maryland somewhere next week.

    Bennett: You were talking about Kelly. He had the oxen that ground up the feed.

    Kindbeiter: He had the oxen grind the feed to feed the cattle that he'd milk and he'd run a milk route down the Forty Acres. That's where he got his money. And then he built the Logan House and he got loggerheads with the B& amp; O right away. And when he built that Logan House, Prohibition come in and that kinda knocked it in the head. He had a bartender town there, Doggy Hahn, We always called him Doggy Hand. Doggy Hahn. They lived on 18th Street, 18th and Riverview. His wife worked for -- or his mother -- now I said wife -- his mother worked for DuPont Company, and his father died while -- he died when he worked for DuPont Company. DuPont Company hired her to work the same job as he was doing. They were humane. If you got them right, they'd talk to you. But, in my time when all us gang grew up, hell, we were like a bunch of bandits up there. You know. What we thought DuPonts had didn't belong to us. That wasn't right.

    Bennett: You were really like borrowing.

    Kindbeiter: Yeah. Borrowing and forget to bring it back. I'll tell you. If they turn that tape recorder on and listen to the people I knew up the Brandywine, man they -- [Laughter] -- the State police would be down here and pick me up.
  • Other acquaintances from the Brandywine, including Ted Doremus, the Roes, and the Farrens
    Keywords: DuPont Gun Club; Neighbors; Rising Sun Lane; Vietnam War (1961-1975)
    Transcript: Bennett: When you mentioned out west, did you know a Mr. Doremus? Doremus.

    Kindbeiter: Doremus, Yeah, now wait a minute. He was up at the DuPont Gun Club. Doremus. Doremus we called him. Ted Doremus. Whether that's right or wrong I don't know, but that's what we called him. I knew him pretty well up there.

    Bennett: He had the powder, and he was a good shot?

    Kindbeiter: He took a liking to me up there. He gave us -- at what they call the bocce grounds -- the horse field. That's up where the Experimental Station is built now. They had a picnic grounds up there and Joe Roe -- the fellow that had the bad back. He couldn't sit up straight. He'd put a half-a-barrel of beer on his back. In them days a half-a-barrel of beer weighed as much as the beer did in it. It was solid oak. He'd put that on his back and walk right straight up to the horse field, and then he'd come back and pick up another one. So, that's Joe Roe. His father -- he lived the second house coming down the front road in Walker's Bank. His father was a nut of some kind. He used to get outside on the porch and he'd preach at night. He'd always be preaching and us kids would get out there and listen to him. He was a Catholic -- supposed to be. He was preaching all the time.

    Bennett: Was there any relationship between the Roes and the Farrens?

    Kindbeiter: No. Not that I know of. Now my grandmother was a Farren. And my mother was a Farren. But there was no relation that I know of that was in the Roes and the Farrens. But, Roe lived up Rising Sun. He was a painter for Alfred I. du Pont, and he was a relation of mine. He used to paint bicycles for us up there.

    Bennett: In that family there's a new book out called, "The Brandywine." It's written by a Roe and dedicated to his grandparents and it's Rose Farren and the men of the Brandywine.

    Kindbeiter: All right. Now, I'll tell you who that guy is. That's Jack Roe. Jack Roe was a graduate of West Point. Now he's a relative of mine. He was a graduate of West Point and the day he graduated they sent him to Vietnam. When he got to Vietnam he got the hell shot out of him over there. And he come back and he's done nothing but write. He taught school and it got too much for him and he had to quit. Taught school in California. And he was in here -- oh, three months ago -- stopped to see me. Al Roe just died about a month ago down at 400 or 500 -- oh, I used to go down to see him. He lost his legs first and then he went blind. And he was in the traffic department of DuPont Company. He used to keep me straight -- that traffic department. That's the reason I's friends with him. And his father was Denny Roe. And Jack Roe that writes these books is the son of Al Roe. What's the name of that -- the place -- across from Joe Ward's house over on. I'll think of it in a minute. It's the nurses home down there. Now he's got a daughter in the Marine Corps down in Washington.

    Bennett: Joe does?

    Kindbeiter: Yeah. The last time I was down to see her, I met the daughter. I didn't know the daughter. And I was going down to Baltimore and she was going to Newark and she followed me down 95 to the road turned off at Newark and she blowed the horn at me and waved going down there. Her name is Betty. Well, she had kind of a rough time, too. She went out west somewhere and went in a convent. And that didn't suit her very good and she got out of it. And then she got in the Marine Corps in Washington, and she was doing all right in that. In the Marine Corps or the Navy, I don't know which it was.

    Bennett: I don't think it mentions Jack Roe's family life.

    Kindbeiter: Well, Jack Roe lived at Rising Sun Lane. Now, you come across the road that turns into --

    Bennett: You mean coming down Rising Sun Lane?

    Kindbeiter: Yeah, coming down Rising Sun Lane.

    Bennett: Main Street, right along the yards.

    Kindbeiter: No. Long before you get to that. It's the first road after 19th Street. Turns right. Well, they lived in the house on the corner and Jack Roe he married a cousin of mine, Elizabeth Farren. [Doug?] Farren. And then he lost his legs and went blind, pensioned off the DuPont Company. And he died about not more than five or six months ago; he had diabetes and his wife had died. My wife used to take her out to the Hope Farm or whatever they call that. We used to take her out there once a week for treatment. And the poor fellow never forgot that. He had no way to get her out there and my wife always had a car and would take her out there. Just one of them things. You would do it. Now, people don't do that now. They want paid for it. And he had no money; had no more money than we did.

    Bennett: That's the way I think life was along the Brandywine.

    Kindbeiter: That's right. They all looked out for each other. You never had any money, anyway, and nobody cared...Not being able to do it, you just felt that there was an obligation to help them because they would help you if you needed help. That's the way we always went up there, as far as I know.

    Bennett: I agree. Well, I think I'm going to tell you that I've enjoyed being with you and talking with you and the tape is near the end, I think. And I've enjoyed your stories very much. Thank you.