Interview with C. Natalie Rogerro Meriggi, 1984 June 10 [audio]
- Spelling of last name and birth certificate problems; family background; emigrating from Italy; birth dates and birthplaces of parents, grandparents, siblings, and husband; husband's deathKeywords: Birth certificates; Casina Province de Alessandria (Italy); Communite de Valada (Italy), Province de Avalina (Italy); Emigration; Henry Clay (Del.: Village); Italy; Montchanin, (Del.: Village); Rockland,(Del.: Village); Squirrel Run,(Del.:Village); Tom Catalina's store; Wilmington, Del.Transcript: Bennett: Being here with you today. Would you tell me, please, your name and would you spell your family name for me.
Meriggi: My family name is Roggero -- R-o-g-g-e-r-o -- My name is C. Natalie or Natalie C. Roggero Meriggi.
Bennett: Your address- your present address?
Meriggi: 608 Marsh Road, Wilmington.
Bennett: Would you mind telling me your age.
Bennett: And your telephone number?
Bennett: Do you want to tell me now about the difference in the spelling of your name and how it has been confused?
Meriggi: Yes. My name has been spelled R-u-g-g-i-e-r-o.
Bennett: O.K. So you have not had a birth certificate because of that?
Meriggi: That's right.
Bennett: And, you've just learned -- and there are other people that worked for DuPont that --with the other name-- is that correct?
Meriggi: Well, I don't know if they worked for DuPont, but they lived here -- Montchanin, Rockland, Wilmington.
Bennett: Would you tell me about the "C" in the Natalie.
Meriggi: Why that's --Well, my right name is Catherine Natalie Meriggi, but when my grandparents took -- my godmother and godfather took me to get christened, Father Scott only wanted me to have one name so he said he would baptize me "Natalie" and wouldn't take "Catherine."
Bennett: Why was that?
Meriggi: I don't know.
Bennett: But how about the – wasn’ t it December you were born?
Meriggi: On December 24, 1911.
Bennett: So, he wanted you to be the natal day, I think. Would you tell me in which village you lived.
Meriggi: We lived in Henry Clay, Delaware, but it was called Squirrel Run.
Bennett: And when did you live there?
Meriggi: Well, I was born there and lived there until I think it was 1920. I'm not sure- late 1919.
Bennett: So, you were born December 29, 1911.
Meriggi: That's right.
Bennett: Could you describe the location of your house in Squirrel Run. Was it a corner property -- were they single homes?
Meriggi: It was next to the corner property.
Bennett: Was it adjoined to another one?
Meriggi: Yes. The corner had a store.
Bennett: What was the name of the store?
Meriggi: The name of the store was Tom Catalina.
Bennett: You were convenient to the corner, then, and right to the store.
Meriggi: Yes, Right to the store.
Bennett: Was there a street address that you might know of or a number -- a house number?
Meriggi: No, I don't. I remember mom and dad going down to the post office. We had -- it was called the post office -- down below. I don't know what they called it. They used to say, "down the crick." There used to be a post office and they used to go pick their mail up So, that was Henry Clay and you didn't have any street.
Bennett: Would you tell me your father's name, please.
Meriggi: My father’ s name is Dominick Roggero Casina Roggero. His mother's name was Casina.
Bennett: So, he's named for -- that would be his middle name. Is that correct?
Meriggi: No, his middle name is supposed to be Francis, but he never used it. His right name is Dominick Francis Casina Roggero.
Bennett: And where was he born?
Meriggi: He was born in Casina Province de Alesandria.
Meriggi: Italy -- um-hum.
Bennett: What was his date of birth?
Meriggi: October 29, 1885.
Bennett: Did your father work in the yards? At DuPont?
Meriggi: No, he worked in the shop.
Bennett: O.K. In which shop?
Meriggi: It was called the machine shop.
Bennett: Do you know how long he worked there?
Meriggi: Well, he must have worked there from 1911 until-he worked there, I guess, I’ d say maybe the beginning of 1911 -- 1911 until -- did you want how long he worked there. He worked for DuPont 18 years.
Bennett: How many years?
Meriggi: Eighteen or 20 years.
Bennett: But he went on from the Hagley area to the Wilmington shops.
Meriggi: The Wilmington shops.
Bennett: The Wilmington shops. And he worked for DuPont for a total of 18 years. Is that right?
Meriggi: I think so, yes. He had gotten the silver pin, too.
Bennett: Now, would you tell me your mother's name, please.
Meriggi: My mother's name was -- do you want her last name first?
Bennett: No, you can give me her first name first. That’ s O.K.
Meriggi: All right. Her name is Maria Katerina Ghione Roggero.
Bennett: And her place of birth?
Meriggi: Casina Province de Alesandria, Italy.
Bennett: And her date of birth?
Meriggi: 1886. The 6th of July.
Bennett: O.K. Did she ever work at the Company -- DuPont's?
Bennett: Did she ever do any work in one of the houses maybe?
Meriggi: No, she did laundry.
Bennett: She did laundry -- for who?
Meriggi: For different families.
Bennett: All the time or just -- all the time that she lived there, or just part-time?
Meriggi: Well, that I remember, she did it for quite a while.
Bennett: Would you name your brothers and sisters, including yourself and give me their birth dates and where they were born.
Meriggi: Mine first?
Bennett: Yes, please.
Meriggi: C. Natalie, December 29, 1911.
Bennett: And you were born at Squirrel Run?
Meriggi: At Squirrel Run. My sister, Teresa, was born November 10, 1913, Squirrel Run. My sister, Mary,- oh, my brother. My brother was born November 8, 1918 at Squirrel Run. My sister-
Bennett: What happened to your brother?
Meriggi: Oh. My brother was born -- that was Armistice -- the 11th was Armistice Day. He was born the 8th. On the 11th, we had Armistice Day. He was born and after the epidemic came whooping cough and he got the whooping cough and he died. I know we buried him. It was around Christmastime so that was December. So, he was very small- I don’ t know if he was a month old or not. Then, we moved and my sister Mary was born in Wilmington, 1921, and she was born February -- I think -- February 26, 1921.
Bennett: Is that all your brothers and sisters?
Bennett: How about -- would you tell me your grandfather’ s name.
Meriggi: My grandfather? Which one -- my father's father or my mother’ s father? Both of them?
Bennett: Both of them if you have the information. Yes.
Meriggi: All right. My father's father was Francesco Mario Roggero. My mother's father was Francesco Ghione -G-h-i-o-n-e -- Ghione.
Bennett: Can you give me their places of birth?
Meriggi: No, I don't know where they were born.
Bennett: Do you know the dates of their birth?
Bennett: How about your grandmothers?
Meriggi: My grandmothers. My mother’ s mother -- her name was --let me see -- Teresa -- T-e-r-e-s-a -- A-r-d-i-t-i --Arditi Ghione. That's my mother’ s mother. My father’ s mother was Katarina Casina Roggero.
Bennett: Do you know places or dates of birth for them?
Meriggi: No. I know both of my grandfathers died -- they were 90 years old.
Bennett: In Italy?
Meriggi: Um-hum -- in Italy. Yes, they were born and died in Italy. And my mother didn't know- don’ t remember her mother. She died young.Bennett: Would you tell me your husband's name, please.
Meriggi: My husband's name is- his name is Bartrome Lawrence Meriggi. And he's also known as Bart L. Meriggi.
Bennett: And his place of birth?
Meriggi: Communite de Valada, Province de Avalina, Italy.
Bennett: Would you give me the date of his birth, please?
Meriggi: 1903 -- August 10th.
Bennett: Did he ever work for the DuPont Company?
Meriggi: When he first came from Italy, he did work -- I guess you would call it out in the yard or something like that, but he --I don't know -- he drove the horse. For Alfred I. See, his grandfather was working there at the time.
Bennett: For who?
Meriggi: For DuPont.
Bennett: For Mr. Alfred I?
Meriggi: Yes, and he got a job through the grandfather. Yes. But then after that he got in his own trade. He learned a trade in Italy -- shoe repair -- shoemaker, rather, because he made -- they made shoes there. I have a pair of sandals he made.
Bennett: You still have them, huh? Oh, I don't blame you.
Meriggi: He died -- oh, he died in 1972, June 4.
- Other family from Italy; family documents and photographs; other keepsakes; sending bread to KoreaKeywords: Bread; Documents; Education; Family; Henry Clay, (Del.:Village); Hope chests; Italy; Keepsakes; Knives; Korean War (1950-1953); letters; Passports; Rockland, (Del.:Village) Photographs; Wilmington,(Del.)Transcript: Bennett: Did you have any other relatives at the time when you moved here that had come from Italy?
Meriggi: Yes, I had -- I don't know much about my cousin -- his name is supposed to be Giacomo Ghione and he died in 1914 that I know of. But I had an uncle -- my mother's brother – his name is Carlo Ghione.
Bennett: And he worked for the company?
Meriggi: And he worked for DuPont.
Bennett: Would you tell me the circumstances of your mother and father coming from Italy?
Meriggi: Yes. They came from Italy. They arrived somewhere on 8th and West Streets. It was a long-distant cousin and their name was Tazalli. But then my uncle worked for DuPont. They went to live in Henry Clay because my uncle got them the home. That they worked at DuPont. And they were paying five dollars a month.
Bennett: Five dollars a month -that was the rent.
Meriggi: He made seven dollars a week.
Bennett: Would you like to tell me the nice story about your mother and father coming over from Italy?
Meriggi: Well, my mother was my grandmother's helper. She used to help her to cook and take the meals to the country because they had vineyards -- people growing – working the vineyards for them and everything. So, my mother would help her to cook and all and then she would bring them their meals. They would go to work real early. They didn't have breakfast. But then they would have a big meal at noon that they would bring it to them. So, my mother's father -his trade the way I understand it – he used to go -he had a dog and they used to go – he used to go hunting for what they called truffles. He used to sell them to the rich people. They were the only people that -- See, it's -- oh, it’ s a herb and you grate it like you would cheese and put it on your food. And it's supposed to give it a good flavor. Very expensive. And that’ s what he used to do. And he had a dog -- a special dog that they did that hunting for. But then, as they grew older, my mother and father went to school together, but they didn't go to a Catholic school; they called it a community school -- like it would be here at a public school. He had to have money to go to Catholic school. And when you went up to the fourth grade in Italy, you went to high school. You were a high school student. The reason I know that -- because my husband -- see, his brother had a chance to go to higher school. He didn't. So, well when they decided to get married, my grandfather didn't approve to it on my father's side. He was on the wealthy side and my mother wasn’ t so then they decided that they would come here. But my father's idea was to come here then to go to California to start the same business, but he didn't. He never got any farther than Wilmington- because of his girlfriend's brother –
Bennett: That would be your uncle?
Bennett: Do you have any pictures or any artifacts that might be of interest to us at Hagley or anything that we could see?
Meriggi: Well, the only one I have is this picture. The picture is from Henry Clay -- is my mother and my sister and I.
Bennett: That’ s nice. Those big hair bows.
Meriggi: I have hair bows, and I have three layers of- Oh, yeah, lace, dress, pants, petticoat-
Bennett: Do you remember wearing that? Do you remember when you looked like that as a little girl with all the skirts?
Meriggi: Oh, yeah, I remember. Now this picture is a picture of --That's my mother and father -- that's my father's -- he's a cousin of my father but I don’ t know how. And she's a cousin of my mother.
Bennett: And that's their wedding picture.
Meriggi: And that’ s their wedding picture there on St. Joseph’ s On the Brandywine, February 5, 1911.And they’ re wearing black dresses. Black suits. My mother had a hat with a big white feather.
Bennett: Would you tell me why they wore a black dress?
Meriggi: Well, in Italy they tell me that black was the- it's the former color they used to use because mostly everybody got married -- they used to call it -- what do you call it -- black dresses with mantillas. You know instead of veils.
Bennett: So, black was the most important color really?
Voice: You’ re all in white there.
Bennett: Was that just for the summer or year round?
Meriggi: No, in the summer. She used to keep us all in white and see, she's all in white -- grandmom. She has a dark skirt but she always had- I don't know what happened 1n it --but she always - she made them herself - these aprons but they were long, you know. Some had laced; some had like embroidery -- things like that.
Bennett: Do you have any of those?
Bennett: Now you have the passports there. That was your mother’ s and father’ s passports from Italy. And then I think this is very interesting. Would you describe it?
Meriggi: Well, that's a plate. When my parents would take us to buy the shoes -- you know --On King Street? I forget -- King Street or Market Street. I don't really remember what place. But it was around Christmastime and they would give you a dish. This dish is from 1915.It has a calendar on it. It has a Cupid and what would you call that?
Bennett: Father Time, I think Father Time. You know, like the Old Year and the New Year.
Meriggi: It has 1915 on it and the sickle. And then it has a bunch of carnations.
Bennett: And there's also a chair in the family.
Meriggi: There is a chair which -- well, they used to have a fella would come around up in Rockland and they used to purchase their coffee or sugar or anything they would buy from him and they gave them stamps. Mom would accumulate the stamps and then she would buy different things that she needed. That I knew of she purchased a chair -- oh, she purchased a lot of things. The blankets -- because when she left at least in Italy she had made a hope chest for herself. And then the way I understand, she wrote here and asked if it was all right if she would bring her hope chest with her. And then they wrote back to her and told her that hey don’ t use it here. And when she got here, she was disappointed because she could have used it. So, she left it there all to her half-sisters -- two half-sisters that she had. So, she had to buy everything.
Bennett: The chair -- is it an all wooden chair or is it an over-stuffed chair?
Meriggi: It's all wood -- a wooden chair with wicker seat. Or cane, I guess.
Bennett: Cane. And you have that tool that your father.
Meriggi: Oh, I have a half-moon knife. They call it the half-moon knife and that’ s the knife that They used- then he made a chop board and we used that to chop all our meat and food that had to be chopped and that's how she chopped all her food.
Bennett: And your father made that for your mother?
Meriggi: Oh, yes. It sorta looked like it had two wooden handles. Well, it’ s metal -- iron -- and it has two -- what do you call them -- knobs, wooden knobs on it. And you would rock it back and forth to chop onions and garlic to cut real fine.
Bennett: And then this is very interesting. Is this plastic?
Meriggi: This was at the time my mother was sick. But she made – she always made her sweet bread -- raisin bread because it's got everything in it -- raisins, currants, dried fruit and so my son was drafted and they had sent him to Korea. And she wanted me to send him this loaf of bread and I couldn't see sending just a loaf of bread alone so I kept it. So, I still have the bread. It's still the shape.
Bennett: I think that's amazing.
- Daily life on the Brandywine; making breakfast; doing chores; feeding boardersKeywords: Boarders; Boarding houses; Breakfast; Chores; Coffee; Congoleum (Floor Covering); Cooking stoves; Family home; Gnocchi; Kerosene, (Coal Oil); Macaroni; Pasta; Preparing food; Ravioli; Sewing machines; Spaghetti; Squirrel Run (Del.:Village)Transcript: Bennett: Well, what we’ re trying to do is find out what the family life and the social life was like around Hagley at the turn of the century. So, I would like you ,if you don't mind, I'd like you to describe the inside of the house. Let's start with the kitchen and how many rooms did you have on the first floor?
Meriggi: It was just one big room, but in the back we used to call it the cellar. And that’ s the room, it was just like our kitchen was almost as big as these two rooms – not quite. And then it had a door -- not a door that you closed, but it had a doorway and you went into the cellar.
Bennett: Was it lower than the kitchen area to it? Did you step down?
Meriggi: No -- it was just level.
Bennett: Like an archway? Was it an extension to the house in the back?
Meriggi: Well, kitchen and there was our cellar, back was another home. See we were in a row, the front and they were in the back, see, them days the home we lived in this was our-
Voice: In other words, the houses were connected in the back?
Voice: And you didn't live on the corner?
Meriggi: No. Next to the corner.
Voice: On the corner was the store?
Meriggi: That's right.
Bennett: Now, you said it was about as big as -- would you say it was like 18 feet wide by --I don't know how long it would be.
Meriggi: We had a sofa in there; she had a big what do you call it -- cook stove, I guess you would call it.
Bennett: What was it, oil or wood?
Meriggi: Wood and coal she used to call it. Black iron stove and it had a big cupboard in that kitchen and then we had --dishes, pots and pans, everything fit in there; it was a big one -- big cupboard. And then she had her sewing machine.
Bennett: Where did she keep that?
Meriggi: Well, she kept it around the wall out of the way more. And then she had chairs and benches. I mean that was our parlor, kitchen.
Voice: How big a table did you have?
Meriggi: She had a table -- oh it was a great big table.
Bennett: Round or square?
Bennett: Did you have a light above it or a lamp?
Meriggi: No, no lamp. We had coal oil. Lanterns.
Bennett: But none from the ceiling?
Meriggi: Oh, no, no.
Voice: Where were they?
Meriggi: The lamps -- we used to put them on the table and then she --she had lamp on the table and then she had two or so lamps --big lamps, and then she had a little lamp -- real cute --had like a little handle to it, you know, you put your finger in it and that’ s when you used to go to bed; it was dark -- to carry around the steps or when we went in the back -- anyplace it was dark we used that.
Voice: Did she had a container for putting her dough she used to bake?
Meriggi: Oh, yeah. She had a great big pan that she used to mix her dough in.
Bennett: A pan?
Bennett: Was it wooden?
Meriggi: No, it was a metal pan. She’ d put a chair alongside her big wooden stove and -- in the wintertime -- and in the summertime it was hot enough for it to rise -- it took maybe a little longer. She made all her bread. Baked all her pasta.
Bennett: Was there certain days for making bread and pasta?
Meriggi: Well, most -- well, her pasta she used to make it daily as --she used to make all different kinds, you know, spaghetti, raviolis. She used to make gnocchi, orzo. She used to make like small pasta. It was according to what kind of meal she was going to have. If she was going to have maybe beans and soup, she'd have maybe one kind of macaroni. If she made another kind of plain soup, she’ d make a plainer, smaller. And if she made raviolis, it was raviolis or gnocchi and she did this each day as she-
Bennett: So she did this every day?
Meriggi: Every day. And all her meals were from scratch – her soups and vegetables -- everything. She never bought nothing.
Bennett: Would you describe like morning, a day -- when you got up in the-Who got up first, your mother or your father?
Meriggi: Well, they both got up at the same time. But, see, Pop would go down and he would get the water ready, the coal ready, the wood. Their stove would be -- they would bank their stove that it would be lit, but it wouldn't be -- there wouldn’ t be fire enough that it would boil stuff. By the time pop got the stove started and hot, mom would be preparing. The coffee -- she used to have a coffee grinder that was nailed on to the wall. And she had to grind her coffee to make the coffee. And then she had the kettle on the stove but the water sometime it would be hot enough for them to put it in the coffee pot and have her coffee perking. And by the time pop would get that all ready, she would be getting breakfast ready. Well, usually breakfast -- see they didn't have a breakfast. Coffee was their main thing. But then they would have a big lunch. Either he would take it or then when he worked shift work, if he worked in the evening, she would bring it down to him, his supper. And that's how they lived.
Bennett: When your father went to work, did they wake you up, or did you get up after he left for work?
Meriggi: The way I could remember, when we were small, they would wait for us to wake up. They never woke us up until we had to go to school.
Bennett: You slept as long as you wanted to?
Bennett: What did you do in the morning and what did your mother do?
Meriggi: Oh, well, when we got up, we had to get ourselves washed, our hair combed and get dressed and all. Then she’ d give us our breakfast and things. And she'd make us do things. She'd start us off washing dishes little at a time when we got of age; At about six years old she started us washing the dishes. We had to wash dishes in the cellar, but she had a bench and there she had one pan for the water and soap and the other pan for rinsing the dishes. And then she had the third pan where you would put them to drain. And that’ s how-
Bennett: You didn't dry them then?
Meriggi: Oh, yes, we dried them, but as we washed them and rinsed them, we'd put them in there and then we had to take them out and dry them. We had to rest them someplace.
Bennett: You did this with your sister?
Meriggi: Well, mostly this was with my mother. Then when we got older she used to make them do it. If I washed, my sister had to dry. And if she washed, I had to dry. So we had to do the dishes. And she'd make us dust -- dust the chairs and things.
Bennett: Any other chores?
Meriggi: Not that I remember when we were that small. Oh, the floor. She used to do the floor herself. But she used to let us wipe it once in awhile to teach us how.
Bennett: What was it made of?
Meriggi: It was wood, but she had congoleum over it.
Bennett: And she taught you how to clean this?
Meriggi: Oh, yes.
Bennett: How did she -- what did she tell you, do you remember how she made you do it?
Meriggi: How she made us do it? Oh, mom, used to what you call --She had one bucket you rinsed the rag to wash the floor and the other bucket you had soap and a brush in it and you had to scrub. So you had a bucket on each side. And when you scrubbed, you'd do a little piece and pull the two buckets.
Bennett: Did you mind doing that?
Meriggi: No, I used to love to do the work; it didn’ t bother me.
Bennett: Now then, while you were let's say doing your chores or playing as a young child, what was your mother doing in the morning?
Meriggi: Well, see, after she got up and got pop out to work and things, at the same time she had her brother as a boarder and she had that I remember I think she had a couple more, but I can't remember real good. Because as we got older, I remember she didn't have no more boarders. But she had to get their supper ready for them, too; she used to give them their supper. She used to wash their clothes and keep the room clean. So, and then she used to do all her mending. She used to do all her sewing.
Bennett: Did she do their mending?
Bennett: Did she do their ironing as well as their washing?
Meriggi: Everything, yeah.
Bennett: And she gave them three meals a day?
Meriggi: No, two meals a day. She would give them their -- well, just like I said maybe a cup of coffee, but it was no breakfast. But lunch and dinner.
Bennett: Do you know how much they paid her?
Meriggi: No, I can't tell you how much they paid her, but I don't think they paid her. Well, they weren’ t making as much. But it would be interesting to know, wouldn't it?
- Second floor of family home; yard and shed; getting wood for the wood stove; Father's homemade icebox; getting milkKeywords: Canning (Vegetables); Cooking; Family home; Floor plans; Furniture; Iceboxes; Kerosene (Coal Oil); Milk; Outbuildings; YardTranscript: Bennett: It would, yes it would. Would you describe the second floor?
Meriggi: Well, the second floor, all I can remember was another big room but mom had it like half that we shared for us, me and my sister -- we had a bed. And in her room she had this -- her bed and chair and then she had like --what do you call it -- a bureau, wardrobe – something like that.
Bennett: As a closet you mean?
Meriggi: No, she had a two pieces. Her closet was like a -- it was a small closet in our room that I can remember. Then she had this high-drawer --Highboy. Something like that I think she had. And we just had a small thing. And she had this dry base -- dry sink basinor whatever you call it that they used to wash. That’ s all she had in that room.
Bennett: How many windows were in?
Meriggi: I think there was two windows.
Bennett: Now, how was your part partitioned off from hers?
Meriggi: Oh, she just had it like on one side.
Bennett: There was no division then?
Bennett: Did you have curtains and shades at the windows?
Meriggi: Oh, she had curtains and she had shades.
Bennett: Did you have screens?
Meriggi: Well, we had screens but they were them half-screens that you could take them out and put them in. Because the windows didn't have no sashes on, you know, that they would stay up themselves.
Bennett: Did you have a rug on the floor?
Meriggi: Gee, that I can't remember, on the floor, I don't think she had a rug.
Bennett: Was there heat?
Meriggi: No. In the wintertime she had a small coal oil stove for heat.
Bennett: How about in the attic? Was that any different? Was it smaller?
Meriggi: No, the attic was a pretty nice big sized room and that’ s where the boarders stayed.
Bennett: Was there any other room up there with the attic or was it just one big room?
Meriggi: One big room. That I can remember. Oh, the stairs. The stairs was like when the door was closed, you would think it was a closet. And you had to open the door and then you'd go on the stairs and the stairs went around. Remember the stairs we had on the avenue in the back, you know, they go up and wind and they were wide and then narrow?
Voice: Did you step out on the second floor from the stairs?
Meriggi: No, you went up and you went up -- from down the stairs you opened this door and there was this step -- was a little wider -- and you step on that and then you go upstairs. Then you went like a little hall and then you went up the attic steps.
Bennett: So, it was really separate. Did you have any outbuildings and sheds?
Meriggi: Yeah, We had a shed right across the road. It was a road between the shed and the home.
Bennett: And is that where the outhouse was?
Meriggi: No. The outhouse was still in the back of the shed.
Bennett: But it was across the road?
Meriggi: No. The shed and the hen house and my mother's chicken shed they were all together there in the back.
Bennett: In the back? Can you tell me about how big that whole area is?
Meriggi: Let me see. Maybe the shed was as big as our living room in there.
Bennett: That’ s good size, wouldn’ t you say? Well, about how big because I need to know. Would you say it was 15 by 20?
Meriggi: I think it was because that’ s where she used to do her canning in the summertime. She had her -- she had a two-burner coal oil stove and that's where. In the summer time, too, she used to cook her soups and things out in the shed. The house would be so warm she did her baking --not her baking -- but her cooking out there. And then they kept their wood for the winter; in the shed; their coal. They kept their -- what would you call it --garden tools, their chicken feed -- well anything.
Voice: Canned goods?
Meriggi: No, she never canned. No, She wouldn't keep them out there. She would bring that inside. That was all jars, and that was kept in the cellar.
Bennett: Would you describe the shed. Your dad's tools were in there. Is that right? And is that where the wood was for the stove?
Meriggi: For the stove, yeah.
Bennett: How did they get the wood for the stove?
Meriggi: If I ain't mistaken, I think they used to -- I don't know who it was -- go around and sell it. They used to sell it by the yard or cord. And that's how they used to buy it.
Bennett: Did he have to cut it up or was it already cut up?
Meriggi: No, he used to cut it up himself. And then he would store it in there.
Bennett: And his tools were in there?
Meriggi: Yeah -- all his tools that he used for his garden and whatever he needed. Like the things maybe if something broke in the house –
Bennett: If something did break, was your father the one who fixed it?
Meriggi: Oh, yeah.
Bennett: He was handy?
Meriggi: He was handy. Oh, he even made his own ice box.
Bennett: For your kitchen? Tell me about it.
Meriggi: We had a big -- let's see -- it was about this size.
Bennett: O.K. Let's see, now that would be about 3 ft. by 5 ft.?
Meriggi: I guess it was. It was all wood on the outside. It had wooden legs. Then on the inside he had lined it all with tin. And then he had a drainage-- like a little hole for drainage and my mother used to keep the Pan underneath for the ice when it dripped. And he made it.
Bennett: They're very popular now, you know. Collector’ s items. Made out of oak and people use them for bars. A very popular thing. Did it have a lot of little shelves that were removable? How many doors?
Meriggi: It had a big lid. And he lifted it up. And of course mom used to put her bottles and her food, you know, and another thing -- I don't know where it was at -- but dad used to take me all the time. He used to have a kettle that he used to go get the milk. I don't know where it was, but it was at the end of the car line. Some farm. We didn’ t have the milk man deliver the milk. But he always went and, got milk.
Bennett: And you would go with him?
Meriggi: No matter where he went, I would always have to. Oh, yes, go with him.
Bennett: Because you wanted to?
Meriggi: Oh, yes.
Bennett: We were talking about -
Meriggi: Going to get the milk.
Bennett: Yes. You would go with your father for the milk.
Meriggi: I don’ t remember where it was, but I remember going up at the end of the car line, and getting the milk at the dairy. I don't know where it was, but it was a farm.
Bennett: How often did you do that?
Meriggi: I don't know if we did that about twice a week, but I don't remember what days.
- Mother's chicken coop; Father's garden; buying food from hucksters and other traveling merchants; making wineKeywords: Basil; Beans; Canning (Vegetables); Chickens; Chow-chow (Food); Concord Grapes; Crushing grapes by foot; Eggs; Food; Fruits; Herbs; Hucksters; Italy; Onion; Oregano; Parsley; Peaches; Pears; Peppers; Potatoes; Red beets; Sage; Sweet peas; Tomatoes; Vegetables: Carrots; WineTranscript: Bennett: Out where the shed was you had -- your mother had chickens --a chicken coop?
Meriggi: Yes. And pop used to clean it for her but she always took care of the chickens. She raised them.
Bennett: About how many did you have at a time?
Meriggi: I don't know. I know she had quite a few because when she – didn’ t buy chickens -- she always raised them for us to-
Bennett: Did she sell any?
Meriggi: No, not that I know of.
Bennett: Just for your own use?
Meriggi: For our own use. And for our eggs. She used to maybe let some of them get older, you know, that would lay eggs and when they got older, she would use them for soup.
Bennett: Did you have a garden?
Meriggi: Pop had a garden. He used to raise everything. There isn't anything. He used to raise his own parsley, basil -- what's the other one? Oregano. There's the other one that they used to use a lot for fish -- sage. He used to have all that. And then he used to raise carrots, red beets, sweet peas, all kinds of beans, string beans, tomatoes, peppers, onion, Oh, yes.
Bennett: How about potatoes?
Meriggi: Well, he raised potatoes but not enough to keep us all.
Bennett: The Irish people seemed to grow so many potatoes there for a while.
Meriggi: He used to raise potatoes, too. Well, mom didn’ t use an awful lot of potatoes because we used the pasta. Pasta and rice was the things we used a lot. Instead of potatoes.
Bennett: And then your mother canned, is that correct?
Meriggi: Oh, yes. She canned everything. She made her own relishes. Chow chow and a whole bunch of stuff. Green peppers and green tomatoes -- something like -- not chili sauce – a relish and she canned all peaches, all kinds of fruit, seckel pears, peaches.
Bennett: Where did you get the fruits?
Meriggi: Oh, she used to buy them. We used to have hucksters.
Bennett: They would come around?
Meriggi: Yes, they would come around.
Bennett: How often did they come?
Meriggi: Well, I think they would come once a week. The butcher used to come, I think, once a week. Or was it Wednesdays and Fridays -- I 'think he used to come Wednesdays and Fridays -- the butcher did.
Voice: He sold fish, too?
Meriggi: No, we used to have - he sold just the meat, but he didn’ t sell fish. That used to be the fish man used to come around.
Bennett: He probably came on Thursday for Friday or did he come on Friday?
Meriggi: The fish man used to come, I think, on Thursday. And sometime he used to come on Friday. And then we used to have the baker deliver bread. He used to come out there. We used to have a baker by the name of Del Campi and Trenches.
Bennett: What was it?
Meriggi: Del Campo and Trenches. Trenches Bakery Shop.
Bennett: Would you spell it for me?
Meriggi: I don’ t know how they would spell it, come out. But they used to-
Voice: Del Campos is a bakery.
Bennett: That's familiar, but the other name I've not heard of.
Meriggi: They went out of business a long time ago.
Bennett: Did you grow any grapes?
Meriggi: Not in Squirrel Run. But when pop went in town he did; he had grapes.
Bennett: Did he make any wine?
Meriggi: Oh, yes, he dido Plenty for the whole year. He always made his wine.
Bennett: Would you describe it to me?
Meriggi: Well, I know they used to order their grapes, but who from, I couldn't tell you. They used to deliver it out there in trucks like in boxes.
Voice: Did he make it out here at Squirrel Run?
Meriggi: And he made it. He had. Yeah, he made it out there at Squirrel Run, in the cellar. And he used to have his barrels.
Voice: A grape crusher?
Meriggi: No, he didn't have -- Them days I didn't see no grape --most everybody that made their wine I don't remember. We didn't go around too much, you know, but all the people I knew then that made it they all mashed it with their feet.
Voice: You did, too?
Meriggi: No, I didn't. I used to watch.
Bennett: Would you describe that?
Meriggi: Well, 'the thing was like this. They had the boxes of grapes and then sometimes in the box there would be the leaf of the grapes in 'the box, you know. So mom had to help. And we’ d help him that way -- pick out the leaves. He didn’ t want the leaves in the –
Bennett: And you would take the stems off, too?
Meriggi: No. Just the leaves and the grape would go in this wooden tub. Well, pop, I knew, but I don't know how anybody else did, but pop always used to roll his pant leg all the way up above his knees and then he would scrub his -- just like you say, you know -- he'd scrub his feet and leg and all and then he would put his foot in the tub and he wouldn't take it out until he got done, see. And grandmom and I used to pick out the leaves out of the boxes and my mother used to hand him the boxes and pour it in the tub.
Bennett: Didn't that hurt.
Meriggi: No, he would just smash them.
Bennett: How long did this take, do you have any idea?
Meriggi: Well, it was according to how much fruit he had.
Bennett: Did it look like fun?
Meriggi: It really looked like fun.
Bennett: Did he look like he was having fun? Did he laugh and tease or-
Meriggi: Oh, he enjoyed it. Because that's how they did it in Italy. That I know of. He never told me that they had a grinder in Italy or anything the way I could see Because he told me how he learned not to get drunk. He got drunk. His father made the boys all the time get in the barrel, you know, and clean the barrels. They had to get in the barrels and clean them, so that they wouldn't leak; you had to fill them up with water and then the barrels would swell up --the wood would swell up -- and that way when you put your grape in there, you would hold, so he said the first time he did it he got dizzy
Bennett: About how big was the barrel?
Meriggi: Oh, the barrel. Oh, I guess the barrel -- maybe -- I don't know if it held maybe -- would it hold about 100 gallons. Oh, it was a BIG barrel.
Voice: About as tall as a man.
Meriggi: You've seen them there at the Acme, they have them. Outside. This year they had them out there. I was surprised. Those great big ones that you would store stuff in it.
Bennett: Where did he keep this when he wasn't making wine with it?
Meriggi: In the cellar, but he had like a stand. He built his own stand -- a wooden stand -- and then after he'd get done the wine then was all ready, he'd take it out of the barrel and all, he would put it in a big glass jug. But the jug had straw around it - you know the jug was inside the straw like. Well then he would get the barrels and he would clean them all up and he’ d get this tub that he used, too, and turn it upside down and lay it there until he used it the next year.
Bennett: So it was used for nothing but wine?
Meriggi: Oh, no, nothing but wine.
Bennett: Do you remember if he felt that some years it was better than others?
Meriggi: You mean the wine?
Meriggi: Oh, yeah. Some years 'the grapes were nicer than others. In fact, I think their grapes used to come from New York. The Concord grape. I think that’ s where they used to come from.
Bennett: Did he ever talk about how his parents used to make it --how it was made in Italy as opposed to the way he made it?
Meriggi: Well, he made it just like they used to in Italy. Because he had learned off his parents.
Voice: His father used to sell it.
Meriggi: Yes his father had a big business of wine.
Bennett: You talked about a strainer before but was that for your mother’ s in the kitchen or was that strainer with the long handle - would that be something your father would have used for the wine making?
Meriggi: That was -- this was just for her kitchen use. When she used to make her spaghetti and make her raviolis and gnocchi, you know, like we use a drainer -- well she didn't. She had this strainer that she would pick them out of the pot. So that was her strainer.
Bennett: Oh, I see. You have one similar but you don't have –
Meriggi: I have one, but I don’ t know just where it's at. If I would have known, I would have took it out. My husband had it made for me. See, the raviolis they always used this big strainer because if you flop them in the strainer all together, they break; they don't come –
- Storing food; The family outhouse; Father's garden and keeping vegetables for winter; buying groceries; Mother's knitting; getting water for cooking and cleaningKeywords: Baking; Cabbage; Carrots; Cheese; Chow-chow, (Food); Cooking; Eggs; Hamburgers, (Food); Italy; King Street, (Wilmington, Del.); Knitting; Meat; Outhouses; Red beets; Relish; Root vegetables; Sausage; Scarves; Storing dry goods; Sweaters; Toilet paper; Tomatoes; Waste; Water; WheatTranscript: Bennett: Your mother made then she made all the Pasta and she made her bread.
Meriggi: Oh, yes, she used to buy the flour by the what do you call it -- by the bag -- 100 pounds.
Bennett: Where did she store that?
Meriggi: She used to store that also in the cellar.
Bennett: In a can, I suppose?
Meriggi: No, she used to keep it in the bag. It was dry.
Bennett: Oh, it was a d –
Meriggi: It was a dry space.
Bennett: And the same way with sugar?
Meriggi: Sugar was the same way.
Bennett: In a bag?
Meriggi: She used to keep her eggs in the wheat -- what do you call them -- them big jugs -- yeah, it's a jug -- a great big one.
Bennett: You mean like in a big jar?
Meriggi: Clay crock. No, it's not a jar. One of them crocks. Well, she used to put -- what do you call it --Straw? No -- wheat -- and she used to put -- in the wintertime, she used to put her eggs in there and they kept fresh. When she had so many because in the wintertime the chickens didn't lay as many eggs as in the summertime. Sometimes they laid more eggs.
Bennett: When you say wheat, do you mean like strands of the wheat?
Meriggi: Regular wheat. Instead of ground up it would be wheat. And that's how they did in the old country. They used to put a layer of wheat and a layer of eggs and a layer of wheat.
Bennett: Then, could she also use that wheat? Did she use it for anything else?
Meriggi: She used to feed it to the chickens.
Bennett: You didn't waste anything, that's for sure.
Meriggi: Oh, no, she never wasted a thing.
Bennett: Speaking of waste, what did you do with your garbage?
Meriggi: They used to dump it in the toilet. Outhouse. That’ s where everything went that you didn’ t feed to the chickens. Just what we didn't feed to the chickens - when they threw what vegetables there was stuff that was worthwhile for them to eat, we fed it to them.
Bennett: Did you have a one-seater or two-seater outhouse?
Meriggi: Our outhouse was a two-seater. Pop made a little one for us.
Bennett: So you had a three-seater. Did you have a three-seater?
Meriggi: See, it was a regular two-seater but we couldn't reach it -- it was a little too high. So, pop made a little one on the side. That was another thing we had to keep clean. And mom made sure that it was locked. And when anybody would go to use it, they would always look for the clean one.
Bennett: How did you lock it?
Meriggi: Pop put a lock on it.
Bennett: And you had the key in the house, was that it?
Meriggi: Yeah. We had it locked. So you'd have to go across and get the key. A lot of people had them and they wouldn’ t keep them clean and they would keep the door open, you know.
Bennett: What did you use for paper or for like the Sears-Roebuck catalogue?
Meriggi: Yeah -- that's what I say. Now we have to spend the money. No, they used to use, what you call newspaper, catalogues, or whatever they got a hold of.
Voice: But did the print come out like it does now?
Bennett: In other words, you really saved your old paper.
Meriggi: Oh, yeah. They didn't waste anything. We recycled.
Voice: They were very environmentally conscious – ingenious in what they did.
Bennett: Necessity. Were they decorated on the inside or the outside of 'the outhouse? A calendar or anything?
Meriggi: No. No. Oh, that’ s another thing. They used to save their calendars, too. For the outhouse. Some people used to get them big calendars with them big pages, you know.
Bennett: Anything, I guess, in the paper line. Now the outhouse was across the road.
Meriggi: Uh-huh. It was like this was our home and there was a road in between and then you had to go over there in the back. Well, we had next to our shed and outhouse was the trolley car line. Right in the back of it.
Bennett: I know I'd like you to talk about your outhouse. Would you tell me about your outhouse?
Meriggi: The only thing I could tell you we had to keep it clean. I mean mom always kept it clean and then, I think it was once a year they used to come out and clean it. They used to what you call clean them out and all and then they used to put this sulfur in them to sterilize them, I guess, we got across the road there.
Bennett: Let's go back where the garden was. How did your father keep things -- the vegetables, the root vegetables, for the winter?
Meriggi: In the winter he used to dig a -- I guess you would say more like a hole -- quite big -and then when it came time for the carrots, red beets, cabbage -- You know at a certain time of the year they all mature you know, and I think it's mostly in the early part and middle part of September – the beginning of September and middle part is when they used to do all -- and some of August. They used to do all their canning and all their preserving -- all their food. And he would, for instance, dig up his red beets and he would clean off, you know, the dirt and things as much as he could. And he used to let them just dry a little bit. And his carrots. And the cabbage would be the same way. He would cut certain amount of the stem off, you know, and he would leave certain leaves on it. Then he would pack them in this hole he made. And he would put like a row of his carrots and red beets and the cabbage and celery -- all the food that would last. And he would put straw like all around inside. And then he would leave like a hole -- like a doorway or something that he could reach and get whatever he wanted at a certain time. And that would last -- oh, I think he would -- a lot of times it would last us after Christmas --the vegetables and things like that. But, of course, he used to pickle peppers and mom used to put peppers up in different ways, too. And tomatoes -- she made her own tomato paste. She made her catsup. She would make jelly. Let me see what else. Just like I said, she made all her jelly. Oh, chow chow and what was the other one -- tomato -- I can't think of it now. It's like a relish like you have for hamburgs -- stuff like that.
Bennett: Like a chili sauce, you mean?
Meriggi: Yeah, maybe something like that because there used to be tomatoes and different things -- she used to put different seasonings in it. And we used to have all that stuff and she didn't have to buy none. The only thing she used to go buy would be her meat and chickens she would raise and have her own chickens. Cheese -- she'd buy cheese, and she'd buy sausage. But I remember she used to go in town on King Street -- there was this big store and they used to have cheese on the stand there like in a ball -- a great big ball -- butter wheel – and butter used to be the same way. And she used to buy a pound, quarter or whatever it was and I remember they used to cut it and I guess maybe every other week or so they'd go in town, you know, they'd buy enough to last them.
Bennett: Did you go with them?
Meriggi: Oh, yeah.
Bennett: Liked to go?
Meriggi: Yeah, we liked to go. Because we used to have fun riding the trolley. We never used to go no place.
Bennett: Your mother was busy and you said she also did the sewing?
Meriggi: Oh, yeah. She sewed. She made a lot of her own. She'd do our clothes, make our dresses, made her dresses.
Bennett: Did she --She knit sweaters. Did she go to Wilmington to get the fabric and the patterns or –
Meriggi: She used to maybe have a dress or something that she liked. She'd rip it, cut it out of newspaper, and then she'd have a pattern. And she made all her sweaters. Made us hats and things -- all by heart --no pattern. I have a sweater and I have a shawl she had made for her when she was little.
Voice: She could be knitting and looking at you at the same time. She didn't have to -- she could be talking to you and didn't even have to watch what she was doing.
Meriggi: Oh, she knew how to make stockings. Bennett: Stockings -- you mean knitted stockings?
Bennett: Did she always use the same thickness of yarn? Was it always or did she use-
Meriggi: She used different sizes of yarn and different sizes of needles. And the needles didn't even have numbers. I can't understand.
Voice: She was talented, she really was.
Meriggi: Just to look at the needle, she knew the needle went with the --She just knew -- so many stitches to an inch.
Voice: I even had a beautiful green -- what was that material? It's popular now. It's shiny -- a little bit shiny.
Bennett: Like a chintz, you mean?
Meriggi: No. She knitted it. It was a beautiful sweater and you wore it in the summertime because it had --It had little flecks in it. Like little silk threads in it or something. I don't know what you would call it.
Meriggi: Yeah, boucle.
Voice: She made a whole suit -- for Aunt Mary, remember -- skirt -- and the top blouse.
Bennett: Who took care of getting the water?
Meriggi: My father.
Bennett: How far did he have to go to get it?
Meriggi: Well, I think maybe he had to go half-a block or maybe a block.
Bennett: Did your mother ever go for it?
Meriggi: Well, if pop wasn’ t home and she ran out of water, yes. But she would go get only a bucket, maybe until he got home or something because they had to have all their water to cook, to do their washing, the dishes and everything.
Voice: Did he have buckets that you could put on your shoulder?
Meriggi: No, he used to do it all with his hands. He had pails that he used to use to fill it up and use it to drink. And he would have this pail that he would carry to cook and drink. But then when it came to wash the dishes, then he would have maybe it would be a tub. Now like, for instance, if it was for the laundry, he used to fill up her boiler; then he used to fill up about three tubs of water. One to rinse and one to wash. And two to rinse. Because I remember that's how mom did her clothes all the time. She washed them, she rinsed them two times.
- Memories of mother doing the laundry; cooking for boardersKeywords: Boarding houses; Bocce, (Game); Castile Soap; Church; Clothes wringers; Cooking; Fels Naptha (Laundry detergent); Food; Irons, (Clothes); Jacks, (Game); Jump Ropes; Laundry; Octagon, (Laundry detergent); Playing Cards, (Game); Sandwiches; Soapine; Starch, (Clothes); Sweetheart, (Soap) Ivory, (Soap); Washboards; Wild flowers; WineTranscript: Bennett: And did you have a wringer?
Meriggi: No, didn't have no washing machine -- all washboards.
Bennett: You used a washboard but you never had one of those wringers that would attach on to the bucket?
Meriggi: No -- everything by hand.
Bennett: How -- where did you hang the clothes in the summer?
Meriggi: In the summer we would hang them outside.
Bennett: On what kind of a line? Was it metal or –
Meriggi: No, it was cotton. Rope.
Bennett: And in the winter?
Meriggi: In the winter, why, she'd wash her clothes and have them all ready when everybody went to bed, she had hooks like and she would put the line up in the kitchen and then she'd hang her clothes. But if it was like -- even if it was cold -- you know, freezing. But if the sun was out, she'd hang them outside. And boy we had a time to take them out -- you know where the Clothespins was at, they would freeze. And sometimes they would bring them in and she would have to lay them on the table or something because they were all stiff. That's supposed to bleach things, I don't know whether it really does or not. And then she'd have to get up real early if she hung them in the kitchen because she couldn't get through.
Bennett: It's a lot different today, isn't it?
Meriggi: You said it. And they got everything and they're not --They're still complaining.
Bennett: That's the truth. On which day of the week did your mother clean? Was it more than one day?
Meriggi: Oh, yeah. She'd clean all the time. Well, Monday was her wash day. Now if she didn't have an awful lot, she would wash and iron in one day. But if there was an awful lot, then -- and you know everything -- all our dresses and slips were all starched. Her aprons were all starched. If she did her doilies, they were all starched.were all starched. Tablecloths, Pillow cases, they were all starched.
Voice: Where did she get her starch from?
Meriggi: They bought it. No., We made it; she used to get the -- buy it -- that starch you buy it. And then you would boil your water and dissolve it. Then they had a little blue tablet like that they put in this starch. That was to keep the clothes looking white and we used to get real hot water and you melt it -- this tablet -- and the starch you melted real, real good and then you started pouring the water a little cooler, a little cooler that you would make the starch to use it for your hands. Then they had another kind that you had to boil it, but that was a pest. I remember if you didn't mix it right, it didn't come out right. But this other one with the hot water was better. Now it's better yet – you get it out of the bottle and you mix it with water.
Voice: Did she buy her soap powder, too?
Meriggi: Oh, yeah. Well, we only had -- what do you call it --soapine. You didn't go to the store -- you went to the store and you didn't say I want this kind of soap or that; it was one kind of soapine – two soaps: Octagon and Fels Naphtha. Bennett: We had Sweetheart Soap and Ivory soap -- were the two soaps that you used.
Meriggi: Of course, for bathing she used to use that Castile soap.
Bennett: Did your mother ever make soap?
Bennett: A lot of people did.
Meriggi: Yeah, I know. She bought the soap.
Bennett: When she ironed, did she have more than one iron to put on the stove?
Meriggi: She had the iron that had the handle, you know and you switched if from one to the other.
Bennett: Do you have any idea how long it would take her to do all this? This ironing?
Meriggi: This ironing? Well, I think maybe it would take her -- just like I said, if she washed and ironed in one day,
Bennett: That's what I'm surprised at.
Meriggi: Uh -- it would have took her quite a bit because she had to get her big supper ready -- get her soup and everything else ready. It would take her all day.
Bennett: What did she do the rest of the week? What happened on Wednesday? Was there a routine for Wednesday?
Meriggi: Oh, she always had clothes to mend and just like I said, if she didn't have anything to do, she'd always be knitting -- either making sweaters or making -- she made pop's sweater; she made our sweaters. She made our scarves.
Bennett: Would she do that in the evening, too?
Meriggi: Oh, yeah.
Bennett: When did she sew?
Meriggi: She used to sew in between times after she got her clothes and things done. And see, she would wash maybe twice a week.
Bennett: So then, when did she go to the store?
Meriggi: On Saturdays was usually when they went to town to get the -- because pop used to go with her and help her carry the basket. The store right next door, maybe she'd go every day, you know, whatever they needed or something. But to do her big grocery –
Bennett: Sunday was different than the rest of the week?
Meriggi: Oh, yeah. Sunday was more like relaxed day.
Bennett: Would you describe Sunday?
Meriggi: Well, Sunday –
Bennett: Did you all go to church together?
Meriggi: No. Momma used to go to church early. She would like to go to church early. And then she'd come home and she'd get me ready and I'd go to church with pop. Now, I don't know what time that would be -- nine o'clock or something like that. And she'd get home because then she'd have to cook a big dinner. For everybody. And by the time we got the dinner done and our dishes done and all I guess it would be maybe three o'clock. And then she would start another meal because she would have another meal for supper. She would have -- say for instance for lunch maybe she would cook and we would have macaroni; we would have maybe meat and a salad, you know, something like that. Then when it came about say five o'clock, 5:30, something like that, why then she would maybe make some cutlets and then she'd fix maybe some different vegetable like carrots or red beets or something like that and make a salad. She used to make a salad with pepper and cabbage. Oh, she made all different kinds of things.
Bennett: Did you have dessert on Sundays? Usually?
Meriggi: She made cakes. She used to make – how we usually had dessert anytime. She used to make custards. I would call it -- pudding. But was the Sunday dinner –
Bennett: O.K. You had more food on Sunday, would you say?
Meriggi: It's not that we had more food on Sunday. They would have the big lunch. Now for instance, they would take for instance, three, four sandwiches --fruit, and well, mostly them days the men didn't care for cake. But the fruit and sandwich – big sandwich -- that was -- Oh, grandmom used to give them what you call -- salami. Cooked salami. But that was good stuff them days. You could smell it a mile away -- how good it was. And ham. Then she used to even make what you call it -- omelet.
Bennett: On Sunday night?
Meriggi: No. For sandwiches. She used to cook pepper, and then make omelets for them to put in sandwiches.
Bennett: Would the men take this with them to work when they left in the morning?
Bennett: She had this all ready for them then she would fix this for them?
Meriggi: No. She would have everything ready but she would make the sandwich in the morning.
Bennett: Yes. Before they left.
Meriggi: And then they came and had their dinner.
Bennett: Now did the boarders each eat with you?
Meriggi: Oh, yeah.
Bennett: And did they drink wine also -- did they get wine?
Meriggi: Oh, yeah. Well, usually they got their own wine. They used to buy it.
Bennett: They didn't drink any of the wine that your father made?
Meriggi: Now, a lot of people had boarders and the landlords would have to buy the wine separate. That's what it seems to be.
Bennett: That was special with you at dinnertime?
Meriggi: Wine didn't go with –
Bennett: Did the boarders eat
Meriggi: Yeah. They would eat with us.
Bennett: Did you eat at different times or as a family?
Meriggi: No, we always ate as a family.
Bennett: Did you have a prayer before?
Meriggi: Well, most of the time, yeah. But it wasn't really strict, you know what I mean.
Bennett: Did your father like grace and would he do it or your mother or who?
Meriggi: Usually my father.
Bennett: As you were growing up and sitting around the table at dinnertime, did you talk or was it a quiet dinner?
Meriggi: Oh, no, we would talk. Pop would always talk, especially when it was a holiday. Now for instance like Christmas or any holiday, you know, he would eat and it was a joy to eat with him. And then he would tell stories that you would never believe. He was funny, but some of the things he did – he used to tell us about him going sledding on the ladder in the old country.
Voice: Is that a tall story?
Meriggi: No, that was true. He did it. Oh, you'd be surprised at some of the things. And he said they used to go and steal people's figs and they weren't ripe and their mouths would burn.
Voice: He had a good sense of humor.
Meriggi: You know what happened to him one time -- He was supposed to go to sleep. So, instead of going up to go to bed, he was still in his sleep he went in the fireplace, and he left his hat. And he went hunting for his hat and couldn't find it. Come to find out, his mother said, "Oh, look what you did; you left your hat in the fireplace." They were really something.
Voice: Grandmom and grandpop were very religious people. Very religious.
Meriggi: Oh, yeah. Well, see, his mother was a Franciscan: she belonged to the Third Order. His mother --not his father.
Bennett: After you had your dinner with the boarders, did the boarders talk as well as your father?
Meriggi: Oh, yeah. They would talk. But usually they would have their meal and then they would go on their own. Because they had, you know, places they went.
Bennett: And after dinner and after the dishes were cleaned up?
Meriggi: Yeah, we'd sit out on the porch or otherwise they gathered like in a group because everybody --you couldn't help seeing everybody -- and we'd get together in a group and talk.
Bennett: And then you'd play outside, I suppose.
Meriggi: Oh, yeah. We'd play outside, what you call bocce a lot, cards. Bocce, the men used to play.
Bennett: They used to play in the evenings or would that be just like on the weekends?
Meriggi: There was people -- yes in the nice weather they would play -- after they had dinner, they'd go out. They'd have a bocce game or they had a place that they would play cards.
Bennett: Now was cards usually the weekend or was that any night?
Meriggi: See, pop didn't play cards. But I remember people having card games. They used to have them in different homes. There used to be different groups of people doing different things.
Bennett: In the winter in the evenings, what did you do? Meriggi: Well, in the winter -- just like I said by the time mom would get our supper and she would get the dishes done and all, then she would, like I said, she would get everything ready for the morning. We used to play; my sister and I used to play -- games, little things that we played with. She used to make us go to bed by nine o'clock. So, there wasn't too much time.
Bennett: Do you remember any particular game you used to play?
Meriggi: Well, in the summertime we used to play mostly jump rope, jacks.
Bennett: Oh, did you have jacks in those days?
Meriggi: We used to use a ball with pebbles. We used to go pick these pretty pebbles. And for dishes we used to use old jar tops -- play dishes. We used to make mud pies. Go pick weeds and make on it was grass, pick flowers. Oh, yeah, there was a lot of flowers. We used to love to pick them – the violets and I don't know what you call them -- they're like little-