Interview with Jennie Sicco Leto, 1983 May 25 [audio](part 1)

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  • Visiting Free Park
    Keywords: Chicken Alley; Explosions; Free Park (Del.: Village); Hagley Yard; Potatoes; Squirrel Run (Del.: Village); Upper Yard; Walker's Bank
    Transcript: Voice: I'm glad you did. I was just kicking myself. I forgot my tape recorder.

    McKelvey: Mrs. Leto, how are you. It's good to meet you. This is Karen Perkins, one of my students.

    Leto: How nice.

    Smith: She's working at Longwood, mom. She's interested in gardens. And I was telling her that your grandmother had an herb garden with rosemary and parsley.

    Leto: Oh. She have everything, my grandmother. I have my grandmother's ring.

    Smith: She wanted to show you her grandmother's ring.

    McKelvey: Let's go down to where Free Park used to be.

    Leto: Let's get it over.

    Smith: My mother has a habit. Ever since I was a little child, my mother always shook. It's normal with her.

    Leto: All right. Let's go. Last time we pass her, I don't know with Hilda or who was it, then I was sick for a week.

    McKelvey: We'll go down past Christ Church.

    Leto: I was here. But I couldn't go back no more to see where my father was killed. Upper Yards.

    McKelvey: We'll go down past Christ Church. Then down that hill. OK?

    Leto: Let's get it over.Smith: This is my daughter, Jeanine.

    McKelvey: Hi.

    Voice: She's a Penn State graduate. Looking for a job right now.

    McKelvey: Kennett School System?

    Voice: I’ m trying to get into Kennett.

    McKelvey: Cause we just moved down here from Landenberg eight months ago. My son Frank moved down from Kennett last years ago. Just finished his freshman year at the University of Delaware.

    Smith: I was a teacher in the Kennett School System. My husband taught there too.

    McKelvey: You're swinging back up around...

    Smith: I'm going around this way.

    McKelvey: That's correct. I know where Christ Church is...

    Leto: See we used to cross Christ Church to go to St. Joseph. And through the field. They used to have a cow. We had to run because we were afraid of the bull there.

    Smith: My mother recognized this. She said, this is where her father was killed. Right down below Eleutherian Mills.

    Leto: Mrs. Crowninshield. See there used to be all houses here. The people used to work…

    McKelvey: What did they call this?

    Leto: Upper Bank houses.

    McKelvey: We have some old photographs of those houses.

    Leto: I used to have a lot of friends there. Talk about speed demons on road.

    Smith: Mrs. Laird took me up this way from a private road back here past the Nemours House. It is the Nemours House here?

    McKelvey: Yes.

    Smith: We passed that house. She said something about somebody's mother living in that house. Whose mother lived in that house?

    McKelvey: I don't know.

    Smith: See we go this way. And she came up through here. Across the Iron Bridge. Mom and I have been reading several du Pont books. My mother lived at Walker's Bank, Chicken Alley, Free Park and Squirrel Run.

    McKelvey: Slow down, this is kind of dangerous. Sharp left hand turn and go down the hill.

    Leto: You go to the left. Flea Park. We used to go ? there across the field. Then we used to go down Squirrel Run.

    McKelvey: Right up the hill here. Where was the big potato patch that everybody talks about?

    Leto: Oh my grandmother used to put a lot of potatoes out too. Everything she used to have in the garden. Great big garden. Free Park.

    McKelvey: Start right down the hill here to your left.

    Leto: Yeah. This is Christ Church. My aunt, when I went to see her in Italy, she said she used to live near Christ Church.??

    Smith: Is this the house that your aunt lived in?

    Leto: No.

    Smith: I thought it was this one.

    Leto: I don't remember no more. They have the door on that side. Let's go further down.

    McKelvey: We just passed the first house.

    Smith: Now here's the second.

    Leto: I think maybe it was the other one. I don't remember no more.

    McKelvey: Some of them have been torn down.

    Leto: Let's see. Maybe. Mrs. Doughtery used to live here.

    McKelvey: What was her first name?

    Leto: Oh, she have a daughter. Didn't have this gate...this wall .Let's go see the wall here. My grandmother...used to be a big tree there and the cows used to be there all the time.

    McKelvey: Up by this wall.

    Leto: Yeah.

    Smith: On this side.

    Leto: On this side. Yeah. Now there was a big tree there.

    McKelvey: Mrs. Leto, where there any gardens up here?

    Leto: Mrs. Dougherty, they have a daughter used to work with me down the Mill. We used to walk in the morning. Come from Chicken Alley. Pick her up and then walk down. We have a long step there to Squirrel Run to make. To go down in the road. Let’ s see the big wall. There it is. The wall is still there. The big tree...

    Smith: You're looking for big tree. What kind of tree?

    Leto: I don't know what kind of tree was.

    Smith: It wasn't evergreen, was it?

    Leto: No. No. Easy now. Those houses weren't there.

    Smith: Wait a minute. You'll see mom. When we turn the corner, you'll recognize it.
  • Visiting Hagley; Carrying lunch to her father in the powder yards; Identifying buildings around Free Park; Taking care of the kitchen floor
    Keywords: Accidents; Floors; Free Park (Del.: Village); Hagley Yard; Lunch; Squirrel Run (Del.: Village)
    Transcript: Leto: Oh my. Easy. Now we going to the Hagley Yard.

    Smith: Yes.

    Leto: Oh no. It was further up.

    Smith: Up further was where your uncle lived.

    Leto: No. Further was my grandmother's garden. Now let’ s go see the big house where the other aunt, my father's sister, used to live.Smith: We're refreshing her memory now.

    McKelvey: Do you remember this building. The Office?

    Leto: Yes. The old office was here. And then my aunt, she used to live in the other house next to the yard. Tall house. There it is, down there. I remember now.

    McKelvey: Pull right in here next to the barn. If we can then walk down to the Gibbons House...

    Smith: All right very good.

    Leto: Yeah. This other house. But the other one was at Flea Park there.

    Smith: Was this house there at that time.

    McKelvey: Yeah.

    Smith: Do you recognize this house?

    Leto: All houses. Yeah. My aunt...that's Hagley Yard down there, see.

    McKelvey: Mrs. Leto. Do you remember the Collinson family?

    Leto: No. I remember Charlie Gear? They had a daughter, they used to come my house all the time. And they moved. They had a strike here. They all moved Wilmington. And we met in Wilmington.

    McKelvey: Where did they live up here?

    Leto: Charlie Gear used to live the last house in Free Park.

    McKelvey: Down the Hill?

    Smith: Up this way? Closer to Christ Church.

    Leto: Yes. It was a house...My uncle Joe used to live there. The daughter got burned there. The mother was sick in bed, and she said, "Lucy go down..." she was about 5 year old. "Go down heat up a cup of tea. Bring it up to me." She didn't know there was fire in the stove. She put gasoline in there. The flames came to her stomach. She had the door open. She was afraid that her mother would hit her...or go upstairs or something. She run down the road. We have a pump there. We used to pick the water up. Use the water for the house. Mrs. Charlie Gear, she was right outside. She took a carpet. Put the fire out. Then they took her to the hospital. She died. It was over her face and her stomach.

    Smith: That was your cousin?

    Leto: It was Joe Persoglio's daughter. He used to work in the powder mill. This is not the house my aunt...It was one of these houses...at the gate.

    McKelvey: How old was the little girl?

    Leto: She was 5 years old, because Jenny and Jimmy was the name. Jenny, she had my grandmother’ s name. Joanna. Like I have. But they start to call me Jenny. And Jimmy was the name of my grandfather. See the father, Joe. I remember when..

    McKelvey: Mrs. Leto. The house with the pump up in Free Park? Was that your house right in front of the pump?

    Leto: No. It was down in...Free Park. I get all confused.

    McKelvey: You lived downhill from the pump?

    Leto: No. We lived that second house to the big house. That big house next to the church. But everything's changed.

    McKelvey: I know where you mean. I think that house is gone.

    Smith: What we can do, we'll go down here and go back again. Then we'll go up and look it over. I don't know whether she can walk down and back.

    Leto: I can walk. Sure.

    Smith: But you'll have to walk up this hill again.

    McKelvey: We'll walk down and drive back-

    Leto: Let's go down Free Park again.

    McKelvey: Can we go later. I want to show you some things here first.

    Leto: I carry lunch to my father, not too many time. He took my grandfather's mill. My grandfather said, "You better not let her go down any more. It's not allowed.” So I left the soup--a can of soup-~right back. Then I didn't go back no more.

    McKelvey: What kind of soup?

    Leto: My grandmother used to make vegetable soup. All kind of soup.

    McKelvey: What was your father's favorite soup?

    Leto: All kind. Anything. He doesn't like no dry stuff. Don't care for spaghetti or anything. She used to make homemade spaghetti, my grandmother.

    McKelvey: When you took soup to your father, did you also take bread or cheese?

    Leto: No. Just soup.

    McKelvey: How did you take it?

    Leto: In a kettle.

    McKelvey: With a top on it?

    Leto: Oh sure.

    McKelvey: Like a little pail?

    Leto: Yeah. They move my father to Upper Yards, see. Sam Buchanan took the mill here. My father’ s mill. See they have another grinding mill up there. So he went up there, my father. Then I took a couple time the lunch up there too. But Mr. Beacom, Bessie's father, he was hurt...they had an explosion in the upper yard. He used to work in refinery. Upper Yard. Then he was hurt and they put him on the gate there. It was a little gate. And he let nobody go in where my father was. Upper Yard. He said, "Now Jenny...l used to live down Squirrel Run...he said, "Now Jenny. You're not allowed to go up there. Give me the kettle and I'll take it.”

    McKelvey: Oh, he would take it.

    Leto: Yeah. . I said, "All right Mr. Buchanan.” We were living one block...next to house. Mr. Buchanan used to live the other block in Squirrel Run. We got acquainted with the daughter, Bessie. And Madeleine. And two or three boys. The last one. His son worked for one of the DuPont offices here.

    McKelvey: When you took lunch to your father, where did you go? Did you walk down the hill there?

    Leto: Yeah. I'd walk down the hill right where the mill was, and my father said, "I don't want you to come no more."

    McKelvey: Were the gates opened or closed.

    Leto: Open. The man was there.

    McKelvey: Do you know what man worked at this gate?

    Leto: I remember everything there. I get all shaky.

    Smith: Do you think you can walk down to that house mom?

    Leto: You go down with the car. It's better. I should have worn the other shoes.

    Smith: You just wanted to look pretty. We'll go back and see if we can find the tree and the location of your grandmother's house.

    Leto: Now they built more there, I see. Up there. Now this house. See my Aunt Mary, she was living one of these house. A big house. She had a house full of boarders. They were all French.

    McKelvey: We can get out here. And you can even park in the driveway back where we were.

    Smith: She'll need some help. There's her smelling salts. She carries her smelling salts everywhere.

    McKelvey: Mrs. Leto, do you remember this house?

    Leto: Oh yeah.

    McKelvey: Who lived there?

    Leto: I don't know at that time. I don't know.

    McKelvey: And there were other houses up in here at that time?

    Leto: Yeah. Everything changed. But I know this house was here.

    McKelvey: Do you know where their garden was?

    Leto: Oh that I don't know. I know Free Park. My grandmother's garden..(Faint)

    Smith: Now your grandmother lived up there.

    Leto: Yeah. But my aunt. She lived in this house. I'm sure.

    Smith: Which house did your aunt live in?

    Leto: She told me near the gate.

    McKelvey: And what was her name.

    Leto: Mary Satano. He was working in the Mill. I don't know what kind of work was doing.

    McKelvey: Now up there was Free Park. Did you ever hear it called Flea Park?

    Leto: Yeah. ? ? Yeah. They always called it Flea. And I said, "It's Free."

    McKelvey: And what was this area called?

    Leto: I don't know. I passed down here many time for my father-

    McKelvey: When you came down her for your father, do you remember out houses? Toilets being out here?

    Leto: I don't know.

    Smith: But you remember where the toilet was at your grandmother's.

    Leto: Yeah. Way down at the end of the garden.

    Smith: We'll have to go up there and get out. But he wants to know what you remember about this house. Do you remember who lived here?

    Leto: No.

    Smith: I thought you told me the French family lived here.

    Leto: Oh yeah. French. My grandmother she had all French boarders. They didn't work Saturday and Sunday. They go out. They go Wilmington and have a good time. Come back Monday morning.

    McKelvey: Let's go someplace cool and sit down.

    Moving from one place to another.

    Smith: She said in her house she didn't have a brick floor.

    Leto: We have wood.

    McKelvey: Do you remember any of the houses having a brick floor?

    Leto: The kitchen...they have...not our house...not this floor. She have a cement floor. Then upstairs, she make a kitchen herself.

    McKelvey: But you've never seen a brick floor in a house?

    Leto – No. No. We never have brick. When we live in Chicken Alley we had a nice floor. Wooden floor.

    Smith: In the kitchen too?

    Leto: Yeah. All over the house.

    McKelvey: Whose job was it to clean the kitchen floor?

    Leto: I used to scrub the floor.

    McKelvey: How did you scrub it?

    Leto: With a scrubbing brush.

    McKelvey: On your hands and knees.

    Leto: And to dry, we used to beat each other. Clean our house. In the summertime we had to move the stove. It was too hot in the kitchen. We move it in the shed outside. We have like a shed outside.
  • The kitchen stove; Living in Chicken Alley; Grandfather's death on the Fourth of July; Childhood home layout; Grandmother's garden
    Keywords: Chicken Alley; Death; Fourth of July; Free Park (Del.: Village); Gardens; Stoves
    Transcript: McKelvey: What kind of a stove did you have? A wood stove?

    Leto – Wood stove. And we used coal.

    McKelvey: You used coal?

    Leto: We have a coal bin outside the house. It was in the box they used to put. And we have a toilet way up on the hill when we used to live Squirrel Run. And Chicken Alley I don't remember where the toilet was. I used to live with Mrs. Nicolai. Her husband was working in the refinery. See my grandmother, before she went Italy, took me to live in Chicken Alley with Mrs. Nicolai. She didn't want to leave me there with my uncle and my father and a brother-in-law. So she took me Chicken Alley to live. My father, he asked for house. And they didn't have any at Free Park. They have at Squirrel Run. So then after we moved, she moved with us from Chicken Alley. She want to move there because she have two children. And she wanted them to the church and go to school there. And Mary she’ s still living. She lives I don't know now. Her husband died. She still lives in Square or Oxford.

    Voice: Mary who?

    Leto: The Nicolai's daughter.

    McKelvey: What was her married name?

    Leto: I don’ t know. Her husband die. Perrone, I think.

    McKelvey: Perrone.

    Leto: He died. He has a crypt right in the same room where I'm going to be. Pop is in the corner.

    McKelvey: In the house you lived in in Free Park. Who else lived in that house?

    Leto: My uncle. See, my aunt…

    McKelvey: What was his name?

    Leto: Dominick Persoglio. He worked here. Rolling mill. Him and his brother Joe. See Joe lived in next house. White house.

    McKelvey: So two families lived in your house?

    Leto: No. My grandmother...you mean at Free Park. Free park was living when we came there my grandmother. We got there in June. And my grandfather and grandmother, on July 2, left for New York. For Italy. And it was July 4, we got a telegram 9 o'clock in the morning. Something happened in New York. They told us the address. My uncle -- the address. And this other man, the telegram he got it. Named Pisalla. He lived in Wilmington. So he came up to Free Park. It was the Fourth of July in the morning.

    Smith: What year?

    Leto: 1902. He said, something happened to your father and your mother. I got a telegram. He showed the telegram to my uncle and my father. He said, "We have to go. It's urgent." So what they did, they left. My uncle Dominick and Pisalla. I forgot his name. He passed away. Anyway it was a friend of my grandmother. The same town. So they left. So that day, the Fourth of July, My Uncle Dominick, he was in a ball game. The Fourth of July. DuPont have a big celebration up Free Park...Squirrel Run Hill.

    McKelvey: Do you remember what that hill was called?

    Leto: Squirrel Run Hill.

    McKelvey: Have you ever heard it called Keyes Hill?

    Leto: No. We used to call it Squirrel Run Hill. So he had to report...he had to go New York. He had to go see his mother and father. Both sick. So they had to get another man in his place. So we were there...just my father and I...in the house. And the nephew...son in law of my uncle.

    McKelvey: And what was his name?

    Leto: Carlo.

    McKelvey: And what was his last name?

    Leto: Rose....I don't know.

    McKelvey: Did he work in the powder?

    Leto: Yes. And he was named Charlie. We used to call him Carlo But it was Charlie

    Smith: Was he Italian?

    Leto: He was my Uncle Dominick's brother-in-law.

    McKelvey: Mrs. Leto. The house next to yours going down the hill, who lived in that house?

    Leto: Was...Oh, I don't know his name. I don't want to say. The man used to get drunk all the time and fight with his wife. See my grandmother was house. We lived on this side.

    Smith: Who lived on the other side?

    Leto: Man and a husband.

    Smith: Man and wife-

    Leto: No children. And across my grandmother, see, he was my grandmother house. And another house was another family. Husband and wife.

    McKelvey: In your house was the kitchen on the ground floor?

    Leto: Ground floor. Yes. And then she have a cellar floor on that side. Where she put the stuff.

    McKelvey: What stuff?

    Leto: What she eat. Like meat.

    McKelvey: Was there an icebox?

    Leto: I don't remember.

    McKelvey: Now think.

    Leto: She used to buy the meat. The butcher come twice a week. I remember that. She used to buy a lot of meat. And then she used to buy this big can of spry. She used to buy a barrel of flour.

    McKelvey: How did you keep food cold?

    Leto: I don't know how she used to do it.

    McKelvey: Did she use a spring house?Leto: I don't remember. I know she had like cellar there that was cold. But I don't know. I don’ t remember no more.

    McKelvey: Did she have to go downstairs to get into this room?

    Leto: I don't know.

    McKelvey: Was it open from the back? Could you go in from the back of the house?

    Leto: No. Outside the house she had a shed that she used to put the tools from when she work in the garden. And then two gates. A gate you go out. Because she had one dog. Oh he was a nice dog. Used to call it watch...dog. Now I wanta tell ya, that morning when my grandfather died, that night. He was barking. He was going just like a wolf. And my uncle said, "The dog is barking. Something happened.” And that's true. See, he knew what happened. She had another gate here. Because she had chickens.

    Smith: You were telling me she planted a lot of parsley and rosemary.

    Leto: Oh yeah. She had everything there. Parsley. She use a lot of parsley every time she cook. Rosemary. Everything. The rosemary, she had it covered in the wintertime.

    McKelvey: What other herbs did she grow?

    Leto: Oh. She had garlic. She had onions. Everything. She was really a farmer.

    McKelvey: So there were vegetables and herbs in the same garden?

    Leto: Oh. She have everything. She have lettuce, cabbage. Everything you could imagine. Beans. She used to raise beans all winter round.

    McKelvey: Tomatoes?

    Leto: Oh yeah. She used to can a lot of tomatoes.

    McKelvey: Asparagus?

    Leto: I don't think so. But I remember well that she had lot of flower. Aster. Like she would know from my grandfather would die. She had all the fence. She had a board. And she had all colored flowers there. And every Saturday after my grandfather passed away, she would make me a bouquet of flowers and bring it to his grade.
  • Grandfather's work at the powder mill; Family friendship with the Ferraro family; Siblings
    Keywords: Blakeley's tavern; Chicken Alley' Squirrel Run (Del.: Village); Ferraro Family; Free Park (Del.: Village); Hagley Yard; Immigration; Italian Americans; Italy; Photogrpahs; Rent; Siblings; Work
    Transcript: McKelvey: What was your grandfather's name?

    Leto: Jimmy. James. Persoglio.

    McKelvey: And he worked in the yards also. What did he do?

    Leto: I don't know if he run the grinding mill or rolling mill. I know Joe and my Uncle Dominic they have a rolling mill. Sometimes he worked daytime, sometimes nighttime. That's a picture of my grandmother when she was young. And here's...this is, I have it in my drawer for years and years...She said that's my mother when she was 15 years old. She lived for years on Walker's Bank. And this is her sister. And this is my grandmother. This is my grandfather.

    Smith: This is her grandfather. He came to Hagley around 1870, 1871.

    Leto: So we made a new one. Mary went down. The same picture, they made.

    Smith: That's a copy

    McKelvey: Oh yes.

    Smith: This was her father and her uncle.

    McKelvey: This was your father? He's a tall man.

    Smith: He was over 6 foot tall.

    Leto: They used to call him big Charlie. When it was Christmas, they used to give him a big turkey because he was a big man. And my Uncle Joe, he needs it more than my father because he has three or four children, they give a little small one.

    McKelvey: He's a handsome man.

    Leto: Yes he was. He came 1882-1883.

    Smith: 1883 you told me. I have his army book at home. And I have her ring. I forgot to put it on. My daughter's keeping it. There she is, my poor grandmother. She was so nice to me.

    McKelvey: She taught you a lot of things, didn't she?

    Leto: Yes.

    McKelvey: Mrs. Leto when you were living up in. Free Park, how long did you live there?

    Leto: Oh, I wasn’ t living there long. From May to September

    McKelvey: Then you moved to...

    Leto: Then my grandmother left for Italy. See my Aunt, Dominic's wife, she left for Italy in 1900 to see her mother. She took Jenny, Rosa and Jimmy. She have another little boy. I don't know was 2 years old or something. He took sick on the road

    Smith: This is another story.

    McKelvey: When your grandmother went to Italy, what did you do?

    Leto: I go Italy.

    Smith: No. You told me you moved to Chicken Alley.

    Leto: Oh. Now. She took me to Chicken Alley to Mrs. Nicolai. See Mrs. Nicolai she has two children and her husband and herself. She taught me how to cook a lot of things I'll never forget the first time she made gnocci.

    Smith: I guess they called them potato dumplings?

    Leto: We lived at Chicken Alley. We were waiting for a house for my father. My father want a house at Free Park. They said, "We don’ t have any at Free Park. We have at Squirrel Run, near Blakely's store. Next door to Mrs. Walker, we lived. She had two daughter and a son. She lost her husband 1900. They had a big explosion at the Powder Mill. So we went to see the house and we moved in with Mrs. Nicolai.

    McKelvey: Do you remember how much rent you paid?

    Leto: My father didn't pay no rent because he worked in the powder mill.

    McKelvey: No rent.

    McKelvey: Now your father worked in powder all the time?

    Leto: All the time.

    McKelvey: And your grandfather before him?

    Leto: Oh yeah. My father when he came to this country. He was 24 years old. His sister already left for Italy. She told him that Cumantese, (she might referring to Piedmontese people from Italy) the name of the people, all nice family. And he said -- the families there. And Sam Ferraro there, is from our town. So he went there; and he went to live my grandfather's house. From the day he came this country. And he stayed there with my grandfather till he left for Italy. And he take permission two years from DuPont. He had to go home. Because his mother passed away.

    McKelvey: Now your grandfather, when he came over here to work, did he know he had a job before he came over?

    Leto: Yes. Because they all knew they could get a job at DuPont.

    McKelvey: So many Italian families around here were from the same town in Italy. Is that correct?

    Leto: Yeah. All of them. But my father’ s town, it was him and Sam Ferraro. Sam Ferraro, he left before my father. And then my Aunt, she was before my father. That's the town. My father’ s town.

    McKelvey: Do you remember Maddie Ferraro?

    Leto: Oh my. She came dress me when I got married.

    McKelvey: She was a seamstress?

    Leto: We went to see her just two or three days before she died.

    Smith: She was a very good friend of hers.

    McKelvey: She lived over on Walker's Bank all her life.

    Leto: Yeah, we used to go every week with my son. Every Christmas I always bring a gift. Last time I went there with Richard, we spent more than two hours with her. And she was in bed. She was telling me all the history about my mother and father. Everything. She remembered when I was born. She said, "You know when you were born, all us kids we came to the door. We want to see." Then she said, "My grandmother said, "all right, when she get up from bed, I'll bring the baby down and you'll come up." So when she got up they took me in the porch. They have a closed-in porch. It only was open a little big in front like that. And she took me and saw me. And the brother he remembered... what's the name… Pete? Pete or the other one. The oldest one. He couldn't see very well. He said he started to laugh when my father and mother got married. He remembered everything. They were married there. I have the paper. The church. They got married. Then I was born. They got married October 29, 1887 and I was born in 1889. I was baptized St. Joseph church. I was born April 16, and they baptize me May 5.

    McKelvey: How many brothers and sisters did you have?

    Leto: I have four sisters. No brothers.

    McKelvey: Older sisters.

    Leto: All pass away.

    McKelvey: Were they born here?

    Leto: No. Not a one born. Only myself. Only one. The last one she died was named...she died Squirrel Run at flu time. And the doctor told her, "Now Helen, you mustn't go down visit the people." She went visiting people. She was 6-months pregnant. He said, "If you want to catch pneumonia, you go." She said, "Oh, I'm not afraid to die." 1918. you wasn't even born yet. And they didn't tell me when she pass away. Pop, my husband, my sister Sadie she used to live with us. They went to funeral and they didn't tell me because I was...carrying her, see. Then I find out later on. I don't know how I find out she pass away.
  • Grandmother's garden; Grandmother's baking; Work; Father's death in an explosion at Hagley
    Keywords: "The Workers' World at Hagley" by Glenn Porter; Baking; Beans; Bread; Du Pont, Pierre S. (Pierre Samuel), 1870-1954; Explosions; Gardens; Hagley Yard; Polenta; Potatoes; Tomatoes
    Transcript: McKelvey: I want to change the subject if I can. You were talking about your grandmother's garden.

    Leto: We gotta go up there and see.

    McKelvey: Now you said there was a shed where she kept her tools for the garden. What tools?

    Leto: Oh, she have everything for the barn. Rake and hoe. Everything.

    McKelvey: Don't say everything. What kinds of tools?

    Leto: All kinds of tools. She was a regular farmer.

    Leto: She had a big garden.

    McKelvey: Did most workers families have big gardens like hers?

    Leto: Some. There was other families. Cary, what's her name. Charlie Gear. He had a son he learned to be a butcher. Name was Ralph. Selling meat. He has a nice store. I remember when my grandfather was brought from New York, they came up the house. And my grandmother had an old rug upstairs in the parlor. She roll up her rug and it was clean. The room nice. She was a stout woman.

    McKelvey: Let's talk about the fence around the garden.

    Leto: Oh they had pointed fence. The fences they have a point. Made of wood.

    McKelvey: Let me show you a picture.

    Leto: The same fences. It was all around the garden. Both sides. The other family have the same...my grandmother had big garden.

    McKelvey: Where would the other family's garden be?

    Leto: Same thing. My uncle Joe, he only had little bit of garden.

    McKelvey: What did he grow?

    Leto: Like tomatoes. Like us. But my grandmother, she feed everybody. Everybody was jealous of her.

    Smith: Potatoes. Bushel of potatoes. Beans.

    McKelvey: Did she have corn?

    Leto: I don't think so.

    McKelvey: I don't think there we much corn around here.

    Leto: She had a lot of beans and all kinds of flowers.

    Smith: Where did she get corn meal for polenta?

    Leto: Oh polenta, my grandmother used to make polenta most of the evenings.

    McKelvey: Did she buy the corn meal?

    Smith: In Italy, they didn't eat corn on the cob, but they made a lot of polenta. Cornmeal mush

    Leto: They grow corn and then they take it to the mill in Italy. She used to buy a big bag here. After she left the baker come from Wilmington. Like Matasini was the one. That was my sister in law. My husband's sister.

    McKelvey: How many loaves of bread did she make a week?

    Leto: She used to save a piece of yeast all the time. I don't know. What she needs. She used to make round loaves.

    Smith: She didn't have to go buy the yeast, because she would save a little bit of dough. After the trolley car came, I think it was 1904 Sam Buchanan, he had 11 children when he passed away. We moved to Wilmington 1905 or 1906 or 1907.

    Leto: He told us after a long time, that he was working right outside the Mill



    McKelvey: Did you ever come back after that?

    Leto: No. I never come back. My father's boss was Pierre S. du Pont. He didn't want to go back. He said you got too many dangerous people there. I don't like to work there. He quit again. Next time he came after my father, and I didn't want to tell him. I was afraid. Well come He used to call him Charlie. And he used to go. Last time he came after my father, I didn't want to tell him. I was afraid. When he find out I didn't tell him I said, "Your boss want you." So he worked 2 or 3 months. But he used to come home and complain all the time. He said he'd find things we wasn't supposed to find in the mill. Nails all junk. And so..we used to live 816 Madison. And I know he looked out the window. And he saw me. I run away next door to Ceccio house. See we have an alley in the back. So he come there. He said Mr. du Pont sent this man. He said, I saw you there. I said, I know what you want. You want my father to come back to work." She said, "His boss wants to talk to him. I didn't know what to do. I even told my husband, I don't know what to say, eh said. If anything happens to pop, I have it on my conscience. I passed two or three days and I told him. So he worked a couple months. And they had another explosion. The packing house. And they lost a lot of people there. And he said that was carelessness. He let pass a week and he went to see his boss. Then he worked two or three months there. And that night he couldn't sleep. I wake him up that morning. I said, “ Pop, the trolley passed.” I couldn't sleep last night. Something wrong with me. He used to every morning make the coffee for us. But he rushed that morning. I just saw him go out the door He said goodbye to me, that's all. Every time they had the explosion, I would hear it. That was a rainy day. I said to Pop when he came home. It was 4 o'clock. I said "I don't know what happened to Pop. He used to come home early." As soon as he finished passing the powder through the mill. He couldn't talk. He was on the wagon with his brother. He was working for the brewing company. They were down Yorklyn. And the wagon shook. He said, "Oh it's my father in law.” Right away he hopped on the trolley. He came up. He asked and they said Charlie Sicco. And he came home to me. It was 2:15 when it happened in the afternoon. Somebody went to see him. He said, I don't know what’ s wrong with this mill. Last night I left and they were running fine. I had a lot of trouble, but now it runs good. This man was just out the gate when he went up A man went to see him. He told us later.

  • Doing Laundry; Keeping chickens; Morning routine and chores
    Keywords: Bluing; Breakfast; Chores; Laundry; Morning routine; Soap
    Transcript: McKelvey: Do you recognize the name Trillyard. A French family

    Leto: No. Al I knew, Charlie Gear family Dear family. They were nice. They have a son.

    McKelvey: Do you remember in the old days washing clothes.

    Leto: If its wintertime we wash them in the house. They got the water from the pump near Mr. Gear's house. The men carried the water. They filled up one for blue. One for rinse. One for watching. Wooden tubs. One that was leaking, he planted the verbena for my grandmother.She brought it from Italy years ago. My uncle Dominick, P.S. Du Pont was his boss.

    McKelvey: What day a week did you wash?

    Leto: My grandmother, she had clothes she would wash every day. She had a one she wash clothes. If the water was too dirty, they dump it and put clean. In a ditch. She had a scrub board. I used to help her. A dark soap they used to buy. In chunks. We don't see no more that kind of soap now. My grandmother didn't have a wringer, but Mrs. Beacom did. We used to twist the clothes. They help her in the garden lots. And she had a mess of chickens. They used to have a garden there near the crick. And my father planted a rose bush. Katie Gaino used to live there. She got hurt. The man come in and she jumped out the window. Hudson's Mill. Tom and Billy. Tom was nice. He worked with us. Bill married one of the girls who worked in the mill. Tommy lived in… I worked on the bobbin machine. They had a whole line.

    McKelvey: In the old days when you were young, what color…

    Leto: White. My aunt was sleeping inside. His house was the white house. Who got up first in the morning. My grandmother was the first one all the time. 5 o'clock. I still get up now at S or 6. She would cook breakfast. Eggs. Potatoes, sausage. She didn't want me to get up early, but I was used to it. My Uncle Dominick used to work sometimes night time and daytime. They had a washroom. They never came dirty with powder. He always come home clean. I had to help wash the breakfast dishes.We had a rain barrel there. When the rain come it comes in there. We believed it was better water. We used to say it was blessed. We used it for washing dishes and clothes. We didn't drink it. We heated it on the stove. All the time. Sweep the house.

    Bag. Behind the stove on a shelf with the clock.Over a hundred children. Then the chicken don't want to move, it has a lot of eggs. Don't touch that. It's going to hatch. She didn’ t steal eggs, she gave them away. I used to bring water to the chickens. When the little chicks… they had a coop. They'd put the mother hen from the chicks. When she make soup she'd put some soup meat and some chicken. She used to make a big pot of soup. Another man would come eat lunch at my grandmother's. My grandmother would kill and clean the chickens. I used to help her clean them outside. She'd save big bags of feathers. She used to wash them in hot water. They used to have a boiler they used to use. She washed them outside. She brought hot water from the stove outside. She used to leave them in a bag for a long time and she'd dry. She kept them hanging outside in the sun. She used to dry beans in the sun. Parsley. She had a fence around the garden so the chicken wouldn’ t go. She'd make cushions. She wouldn't waste anything.

    Nice brown dog. They used to call him Watch.Dusting rag every Saturday my grandmother made me clean upstairs.