Interview with Catherine Hackendorn Sheldrick, 1989 January 1 [audio]

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  • Doing laundry and laundry equipment; Chores and Housework
    Keywords: Chores; Fels Naptha; Harry Gregg's store; Laundry; Laundry bluing; Octagon soap
    Transcript: Julian: ...is to expand what our interpretation that we're doing on Blacksmith Hill and we're trying to give a little bit more of the daily life, what they did every day and they're trying to find some things that we can do to show people the way life was lived earlier. Now what we have, what our job is to try to find things, to do it exactly the way it was really done, but we have another part to our job, we have to find something that we can do that we can get volunteers to be willing to do. So you see where we have a problem.

    Sheldrick: You do, that is definitely a problem. To begin with, how would you get the equipment?

    Julian: Well, that's one of the problems - that's what we want to ask you, is what we need to get. And so this is where we - the thing that they asked us to emphasize is laundry - can you think of anything that people are going to be less eager to do as a volunteer?

    Sheldrick: Well it certainly would not be laundry. Although I done enough of it.

    Julian: Well, this is what we thought, but we thought we're going to try to find a way to put it down into easier ways, but what we would like to do is to get you to tell us as much as you can remember. Go back to when you were a little girl and your mother - it was a wash day and it's time to wash and so we want to know just as much as you can remember about when you were a little girl and the washing was done.

    Sheldrick: When the washing was done?

    Julian: Yes - just tell us...

    Sheldrick: Well, to begin with, we had a pump. They had to pump the water.

    Julian: Alright, when did you do that?

    Sheldrick: You had to carry it in and carry it out.

    Julian: Alright, did you wash on Monday?

    Sheldrick: No, we never washed until Tuesday because my Mother thought that you needed Monday to get the house in order after the weekend.

    Julian: Was this unusual?

    Sheldrick: No, no.

    Julian: A lot of people did wash on Tuesday?

    Sheldrick: Yes, well there was a big family of us and you can imagine, you know, so then on Tuesday we washed.

    Julian: Did you get the water on Monday night, or did you get it on Tuesday morning?

    Sheldrick: We got it on Monday night. My Father had made a long - we called it the wash bench. It was a bench and the boys brought it in, or my Father, my Mother never did it, I never saw my Mother do it. The boys would bring it in and they would fill the tubs at the pump and then two of them would carry them in. And I think, as far as I know, that bench held four tubs.

    Julian: My Goodness, that's a big bench.

    Sheldrick: It was quite long, that's the reason it had to be outside. It was outside and it was brought in.

    Julian: Oh, but you washed inside?

    Sheldrick: We washed inside.

    Julian: In your kitchen, or in a shed?

    Sheldrick: But not in summertime, we washed outside in the summertime.

    Julian: On the porch?

    Sheldrick: We had a porch in front, and we had -- I love to tell this story. We had a patio when nobody else had one. But we called it the back bricks.

    Julian: Okay, the back bricks.

    Sheldrick: We washed on the back bricks.

    Julian: Okay, that's in the summertime.

    Sheldrick: In the summertime.

    Julian: And in the winter you did it in the kitchen?

    Sheldrick: In the kitchen, in the kitchen. We had two houses and they were broken into one, and we washed in the kitchen.

    Julian: So you had the four tubs...

    Sheldrick: The four tubs and a big wash boiler. I'm sure you've seen them, they were oval and they sit on top – well that was filled up and...

    Julian: Now you're saying - your hands are two feet apart, or two and a half feet.

    Sheldrick: Yes, yes, it was about that wide, about this wide and this long.

    Julian: This long, about two and a half feet and oval and what, about...

    Sheldrick: And then about this size.

    Julian: A foot and a half across.

    Sheldrick: About that.

    Julian: And you put it on the stove.

    Sheldrick: And it was put on the stove the night before, filled with water, and it would be hot in the morning. See the fire would be dampened and it would be hot. Well then the night before all the white things were soaked and rolled, why I don't know.

    Julian: Soaked?

    Sheldrick: Soaped, s-o-a-p-e-d, soaped and rolled. Now why I don't know.

    Julian: Were they wet or were they dry?

    Sheldrick: Wet. Well then this hot water would be put in on them and they were scrubbed - the collar, cuffs and down the front was scrubbed with a scrubbing brush. Wasn't that horrible?

    Julian: No -- I've done it myself. You see I don't think – I used to have to do that when I was a child.

    Sheldrick: And rub. Then my Grandmother lived next door to us and she came in and she would help my Mother. In the meantime, we would all be getting ready to go to school, you know, but it was my job to take the clothes down when I came home from school.

    Julian: Off the line?

    Sheldrick: Off the line, that was my job.

    Julian: Alright, now let's go back to this, you did not actually put those white things in the boiler, you just used ...

    Sheldrick: Oh you boiled them, yes, we boiled them.

    Julian: Oh you did boil them.

    Hanrahan: After you scrubbed them?

    Julian: And then you rinsed the...

    Sheldrick: You rolled and soaped and rolled them and then you put them in the boiler... In the boiler and let them cook and you had a long stick, my Father made it, we called it the clothes stick, and you pressed them down and lifted them up, you know, let them cook. They actually cooked. And then what happened - well then they were taken out of that.

    Julian: And put into soapy water?

    Sheldrick: Put into clear water, then into another clear water.

    Julian: Okay, rinsing off.

    Sheldrick: And then you put bluing, wash bluing came, it came for washing and you blued them, supposed to make them whiter. And believe you me, they would be white.

    Julian: That's right. Somebody explained to me the other day the scientific reason for that, it's all to do with light rays and refraction and all that stuff, but it was interesting. Really makes them white doesn't it?

    Sheldrick: Yes, yes. And then that was it. And then they were all rinsed.

    Hanrahan: Did you have a wringer?

    Sheldrick: Later a wringer came out.

    Hanrahan: Before that, though, you just squeezed them, you'd squeeze them between each tub?

    Sheldrick: Yeah, wouldn't you just love to go back to that - never! The good old days-- forget it.

    Hanrahan: When you had the wringer, was it on your tub, was it attached to the tub or was it...

    Sheldrick: The tubs were wooden and the wringer screwed onto the tubs. And then you ran it through. Well then after that we had a, it was a hand washer and you run it back and forth like this. But my Mother didn't like it.

    Julian: Oh, she didn't like it, didn't do as good a job?

    Sheldrick: I don't think it did and Grandma didn't like it either. Then, of course, we got the washer and I'll never forget when the electric one came out. Oh that was Heaven.

    Julian: Yeah, and then you put them in and you had two tubs behind it - right.

    Sheldrick: That was wonderful, really.

    Julian: It was really a great improvement. Let's see, let me look at my questions here. Now tell me about those tubs, were they round tubs?

    Sheldrick: They were round, yes.

    Julian: And you'd buy them...

    Sheldrick: And they were wooden. And you bought them at Harry Gregg - I guess you would call it like you see in the movies now, a country story, and he sold everything, anything and everything was there. And he sold these tubs. And in the meantime, when you washed them out at the pump when you were through with them and you put about maybe two inches of water, because if you didn't, they would dry out.

    Julian: That's right, and shrink.

    Sheldrick: And then, you know, they'd come apart.

    Julian: And they were held together with a metal strip, bands?

    Sheldrick: Yes, around, yes the metal band, this way.

    Julian: You don't remember how much a wash tub would cost do you, by any miracle?

    Sheldrick: I have no idea.

    Julian: I didn't think you would, but I was just curious.

    Sheldrick: But I do know that after my Mother had an operation, she had a tumor removed, we had someone come in to do the rubbing, and I think she rubbed all those clothes for thirty-five cents.

    Julian: How many were in your family?

    Sheldrick: There were seven children and my Mother and Father. And she worked hard.

    Julian: Thirty-five cents, let me ask you another question, do you remember what kind of soap you used?

    Sheldrick: Yes, Octagon.

    Julian: Octagon, was it shaped in an octagon shape?

    Sheldrick: Yes, and then there was Fels-Naptha, it came in, and then some woman - I don't know what her name was, it seemed, I have no idea now what her name was, it seems to me it was Pinkerton. She lived down around Bancroft and she made soap and sold it, but Mom didn't like it, she put lye in it.

    Julian: She got too much lye in it.

    Sheldrick: Yeah, she liked it for scrubbing and things like that.

    Julian: But not for clothes?

    Sheldrick: Not for clothes, no.

    Julian: Okay, very good. Let me ask you another question. Do you remember what kind of bluing you used?

    Sheldrick: No I don’ t.

    Julian: Alright, another one - what about hanging your clothes on the line, did you hang all the clothes outside?

    Sheldrick: Everything outside.

    Julian: Even the underwear, did you hang your underwear out on the line outside?

    Sheldrick: Everything went out on the line.

    Hanrahan: How about in the winter, did you hang it in?

    Sheldrick: In the winter when it would freeze, they were brought in, but no woolen were hung out in the cold weather. You washed the woolen things by hand, but they were not hung out, they would be put on hangers and hung up in the kitchen.

    Julian: Is that your woolen underwear, for instance?

    Sheldrick: A hundred per cent wool.

    Julian: Your wool underwear was hung inside?

    Sheldrick: No, it would be hung out, unless it was a freezing day, if it was freezing it would not be hung out.

    Julian: How often did you change your sheets - did you wash them every week?

    Sheldrick: The sheets, yeah, they were changed every week.

    Julian: Would you change both of them or would you just wash the bottom one?

    Sheldrick: You'd put the top one on the bottom.

    Julian: And washed just the bottom sheet?

    Sheldrick: Washed the bottom, put the clean one on top.

    Julian: Sure, that's what I - I know about that. And your job was to bring the clothes in - did your brothers and sisters have jobs?

    Sheldrick: Of the rest of them - my job was take the clothes in and set the table for dinner.
  • Sibling's chores; Storing food; Getting milk; Ironing clothes; Baking; Food and daily menus
    Keywords: Argo Starch; Baking; Chores; Faultless Starch; Harry Gregg's store; Irons (Pressing); Milk; Montchanin (Del.); Philadelphia Bulletin
    Transcript: Julian: Okay, and what were some of the other jobs they had?

    Sheldrick: Well, the boys would have to bring in the coal, the wood and the water. And my Father had built, we called it the potato bin in the cellar and he had an old carpet that he put over the potatoes to keep from freezing, and then the boys - my Mother would have a basket, and if that basket wasn't full, it had to be taken down to the cellar, filled up and brought in. We also kept our butter down there and our milk. Not so much the milk, because we had a milkman, his name was Jim Ball, and Jim came every morning with the milk, went around, he had a horse and wagon and he would bring - he had a can, a milk can and my Mother had this great, big pitcher, I guess it held a gallon or so, and he would fill that up every day.

    Julian: Boy - fresh milk. I wonder if that's the same Balls that live out near -- on the Red Clay -- out that way, out toward Hercules. Is that the same Ball family?

    Sheldrick: I don't know. I'll tell you where he lived. You know when you go over the railroad in Montchanin, as you go over the railroad, the Ball farm was the first one on your left there, and I think they remodeled that house, but that was the Ball farm, Jim Ball.

    Julian: I want to check that out because I know a lot of Balls.

    Sheldrick: Then we had another milkman after -- I think they sold that farm, I'm pretty sure, and his name was Bartel and he lived up around Thompson's Bridge.

    Julian: Okay, very good, okay. Now tell us about - so you cleaned the house and got the house ready on Monday, and then on Tuesday you did the washing, and I'll bet on Wednesday you did the ironing.

    Sheldrick: Tuesday we did the wash, did the ironing. And the Grandma would come in every week and she would iron until one o'clock and then she quit and she mended, all the mending was done.

    Julian: After that.

    Sheldrick: She would be mending and my Mother would keep on ironing.

    Julian: Okay, well now we've seen pictures of them ironing, they just had a big kitchen table and you just ironed - put the clothes out flat on the table...

    Sheldrick: Oh no, we had an ironing board that fit on the table. It wasn't on a stand or anything, it fit on the table.

    Julian: Okay, and did you use - how many irons would you keep going?

    Sheldrick: Oh, I don't know, about five or six.

    Julian: Did you ever do any ironing as a girl?

    Sheldrick: Not that much. Oh, I ironed, sure, especially if you needed a blouse or needed something, you washed it out yourself at the pump and hung it up to dry and ironed it, you know, but everything was washed, and then you'd starch them, you know. Those shirts had to...

    Julian: We forgot to put the starch in there, was that another tub, was that one of the tubs -- you had four…

    Sheldrick: No, the starch was in the dishpan, it was made in a dishpan. And then you got the collar and down the front and the cuffs and you dipped them in starch.

    Julian: Oh, you didn't do the sleeves?

    Sheldrick: No, no, not the rest, just the collar, the cuffs and the down the front. And they had to be dampened when they were brought in, dampened and piled into the basket, into the laundry basket.

    Julian: For the next day. Oh, a lot of work, wasn't it? Did you all boil your starch?

    Sheldrick: Oh yes, yes.

    Julian: And did you use Faultless or did you...

    Sheldrick: We used Argo, Argo Starch, yes.

    Julian: And you boiled it?

    Sheldrick: Yes.

    Julian: Right, see I have the advantage of you, I've done all this, I know all about it firsthand.

    Sheldrick: Isn't this awful.

    Julian: Oh gosh, okay, now did you have special irons for special jobs?

    Sheldrick: No, no, we used the one iron to iron everything.

    Julian: Even a little ruffle?

    Sheldrick: No, no.

    Julian: You'd still use the big iron?

    Sheldrick: We'd use the big iron.

    Julian: And your sleeves here, you would just flatten them out and then iron with the big iron?

    Sheldrick: And then iron up into them.

    Julian: Now that's - on Wednesday we're ironing and we're mending. What did we do on Thursday?

    Sheldrick: Thursday, well, whatever was to be done.

    Julian: Did she have a baking day particularly?

    Sheldrick: A baking day, my Mother baked every Saturday. She set her bread every Friday night and baked every Saturday. And sometimes she would bake, it was according to how we ate it I guess. Sometimes she would run out of it on Thursday and we went over to Harry Gregg's and we -- oh we loved that – go over to Harry Gregg's and we got two loaves of bread together, you got six of them for a quarter. That would be three pans and each pan held two loaves and you got six loaves for a quarter.

    Julian: Oh gosh. But you didn't make as much money either.

    Sheldrick: Oh no.

    Julian: Well did you bake cookies or pies and cakes too or were those really special occasions?

    Sheldrick: Pies, if we had soup, if my Mother made a big pot of soup, we always had apple pie.

    Julian: Oh, that sounds good.

    Sheldrick: Because she always thought that the soup didn't stay with us, you know, it filled us up, but we needed something that would...

    Julian: Last a little longer.

    Sheldrick: Yes, to hold you over. And I don't remember eating anything before we went to bed, you know. I don't even remember calling for a glass of water, right before you go to bed. We just simply went to bed.

    Julian: You probably didn't want to drink anything because you sure didn't want to go out to the outhouse.

    Sheldrick: That's another thing. And listen, ours was a way up on the hill.

    Julian: I read that, and it was fifty feet a way up the hill and I thought, oh my goodness, on a cold winter night that would be a long way.

    Sheldrick: You're not kidding. Well, when you don't know any better, that's the way it had to be, that was the way of living. We weren't the only ones that lived like that. Everybody in or out of town -- and another thing I always wondered about -- why my Mother's relatives would love to come to our house and we would go to their place - they had electric light, indoor plumbing, closed in porches, and yet they came out to our house -- why did they leave their nice place and come out?

    Julian: Nostalgia, that's neat.

    Sheldrick: Wouldn't you wonder?

    Julian: You would wonder, right, you would wonder.

    Sheldrick: Why would they come out...

    Julian: Must have been you had a nice family.

    Sheldrick: Well, yes, and another thing, they always stayed for dinner.

    Julian: What would you have for dinner when they came out?

    Sheldrick: Whatever my Mother had.

    Julian: Tell me a meal that you enjoyed, we had soup and apple pie, what's another meal you enjoyed?

    Sheldrick: Well, my Father made sauerkraut, homemade sauerkraut, mashed potatoes and applesauce, or baked apples.

    Julian: Oh, that sounds good. Did you have meat every day?

    Sheldrick: We had meat every - only Friday, we didn't eat meat on Friday.

    Julian: Okay, were you a Catholic?

    Sheldrick: Yeah. We didn't eat meat on Friday. On Friday we had fish. I went to Goldey Beacom to school and on Friday it was my job to bring the fish home for dinner.

    Julian: Okay, when you were coming back from school, you would - sure.

    Sheldrick: I went to the Wilmington Fish Market and got the fish, whatever my Mother would tell me to get. She'd get smelts or cod fish, steak cod, or little bitty butter fish, about eight pound. You got two pound of cod fish for a quarter.

    Julian: Where'd they catch them, in the area, or were they brought in from somewhere?

    Sheldrick: Oh they were brought in from somewhere, I don't know just exactly where.

    Julian: ‘ Cause cod fish I don't think of that from around here.

    Sheldrick: You would get it - we would get it - I never spent over two dollars for the fish for our dinner.

    Julian: That is something.

    Sheldrick: Never. We'd have liver, we all didn't like it, but we had to eat it. There was nothing extra, you know, such and such a one doesn't like this or that.

    Julian: Did you have potatoes almost every night?

    Sheldrick: Had potatoes every night, religiously. And then my Mother would roast chicken or ham, roast beef, just the same as we, pork chops. When you cooked pork chops you used two frying pans, keep two frying pans going.

    Julian: Right, for a big family like that, sure.

    Sheldrick: If you fried oysters, you fried a great big platter and then we kept frying while they ate. And a great big bowl this big of coleslaw.

    Julian: Did your mother sit and eat with you, or did she spend most of the time at the stove?

    Sheldrick: My Mother walked around the table and then after the dinner was over, after we had gotten up, my Father sat there and he brought the Bulletin home every night, the Philadelphia Bulletin, and she read the Bulletin and ate her dinner. And we girls would clean up the kitchen and get things ready. But he sat there and talked to her all the time she would be eating. I don't know whether anybody else's mother ever done that or not, but that's the way it was in our house.

    Julian: Well that is interesting. And the children did the cleaning up of the dishes.

    Sheldrick: Oh yeah, oh Mom wouldn't have anything to do with the cleaning up, we done that. I guess you'd call that our job too, but it didn't take that long, you know.

    Julian: Did you use a tablecloth, a clean tablecloth – did you use a linen tablecloth or did you use an oilcloth?

    Sheldrick: We used a linen tablecloth on Saturday and Sunday.

    Julian: Oh, Saturday and Sunday.

    Sheldrick: I don't know why Saturday and Sunday, but we had a red damask tablecloth for everyday. And then someone told my Mother to get an oilcloth. She didn't like it, she didn't like it at all. She said you had to wash it and it was more trouble than the...

    Julian: The red cloth that she had to wash and iron.

    Sheldrick: It was cotton - oh no, it would be just and folded and spread out, you know.

    Julian: Put back on, okay. That's a relief. I was thinking of having to wash and iron that every day.

    Sheldrick: No, it would do three or four days. You took it out and shook it out, you know, and put it back on again. We had a dining room, I guess, I don't know, there were very few people that had a dining room.

    Julian: I was wondering about that, that's pretty fancy isn't it?

    Sheldrick: Yes.
  • Almanacs and other publications; Rugs, embroidery, crocheting, and lace making; Repairing socks and other textiles
    Keywords: Crocheting; Embroidery; Good Housekeeping; Lace making; Ladie's Home Journal; Metropolitan Insurance Company; Philadelphia Bulletin; Repairing; Rugs; The Delineator; The Farmer's Almanac; The Saturday Evening Post; Wilmington Savings Fund Society
    Transcript: Julian: You were talking about your Daddy brought home the Bulletin. One of the things we've been interested in are the collection of almanacs that they have over in the Library. A lot of almanacs - The Farmer's Almanac, one put out by the Quakers, and a whole lot of different kinds of almanacs. Do you remember those as a child?

    Sheldrick: I don't remember - I remember the almanacs, yes.

    Julian: Okay, you all would have them in your house?

    Sheldrick: The insurance company would give them out, the Metropolitan Insurance Company gave an almanac out and the Wilmington Savings Fund gave one out – I don't remember any others.

    Julian: Okay. Did your Mother read things, did she have cookbooks or magazines, did she read Good Housekeeping or anything like that, or do you remember those as a child?

    Sheldrick: No, we had The Delineator.

    Julian: What is that?

    Sheldrick: The Delineator, it was like the Ladie's Home Journal, but it was large.

    Julian: You're showing me fifteen inches there.

    Sheldrick: It was as big as The Saturday Evening Post you know, the size of that and it was called The Delineator. And then there were Collier's Magazines that came every week. Then we got several - we got two Catholic magazines, one was The Sacred Heart Messenger and the other one was, isn't that awful.

    Julian: No, I think you're doing remarkably.

    Sheldrick: I'll think of it after a while. Sign - and there were another one, another Catholic magazine, Extension.

    Julian: My goodness, you all had a lot of reading things in your home then, didn't you?

    Sheldrick: My Mother and Father were both great readers. But my Mother didn't have that much time to read.

    Julian: That's what I was thinking, that's a lot of stuff you're talking about and she was an awfully busy person.

    Sheldrick: Oh we wouldn't get them all. Well she subscribed to The Delineator and the two Catholic magazines and the boys would bring them in. Or my grandmother and my uncles lived next door. My Uncle Jack – Uncle Jack didn't get married until he was about 38, 39. My Mother thought he was going to be a bachelor I think, but finally some girl got him, and he would bring these things in too, you know.

    Julian: So you really, that's fun. Did you all have any children's magazines?

    Sheldrick: No.

    Julian: Did you have many books?

    Sheldrick: Oh we had all kinds of books, you know. My Mother's sister was a school teacher, she saw to that. She was a nut. She taught school in Philadelphia for about sixty years.

    Julian: Oh, who was that, what was her name.

    Sheldrick: Dorefista.

    Julian: Okay, I have two more things I was interested in. Did you all do any quilting?

    Sheldrick: No, I never did, my Mother never did either, although we had quilting frames in the attic.

    Julian: Okay, so somebody had done them in the past.

    Sheldrick: Somebody had done some quilting at some time.

    Hanrahan: Was it popular during that time, quilting?

    Sheldrick: I would say so. I'll tell you what we used to do. We would cut all kinds of rags into strips and sew them together for rag carpet. And there were a man on Breck's Lane, now wait'll I think of what his name was.

    Julian: Did you braid them.

    Sheldrick: You tore them, and then you took the threads off or you cut them, whatever. And then you sewed them together.

    Julian: Oh, you sewed them together.

    Sheldrick: Maybe some pieces would be this long, some about that long, some like this, whatever. And you sewed those together. And then you made them into balls. Jimmy Henderson was his name.

    Julian: Okay - that made the rugs?

    Sheldrick: He wove the rugs.

    Hanrahan: I'm worried about this. I feel like it's already stopping

    Julian: No, it's fine, it's got half a tape.

    Hanrahan: Okay, can you see, you can see it pretty well. I cannot see it at all and I don't want us to run out because we've got - we're getting some neat stuff here and I don't want to lose it.

    Julian: Did your mother do other needlework other than the mending? Or mostly just what had to be done, she was too busy.

    Sheldrick: My Mother used to crochet our, she called them hoods. They came down and they had a tape on them.

    Julian: Okay, I've seen those.

    Sheldrick: With a bow of ribbon up here. Why that would be I don't know. And the strings would be ribbon. And the cape like a collar, like a circular...

    Julian: Right, I've seen them, right.

    Hanrahan: Did she crochet lace on maybe an apron or something?

    Sheldrick: Yeah, crocheted lace, yeah. And hairpin lace that was done on hairpins. And - what else? Embroidery, the embroidery like centerpieces, you know. The lamp would be on the table, there would be a doily under it and it would be hand embroidered. The buffet had a long scarf on it. We never did have a serving table. I guess we had tables and chairs and a buffet and the centerpieces, you know, on the bedside table, the lamp on it.

    Julian: Would be embroidered. Well you taught to embroider at an early age, did your Mother teach you how to embroidery at an early age?

    Sheldrick: My Grandmother did.

    Julian: Your grandmother did.

    Sheldrick: My Grandmother had nine stitches to the inch, honey.

    Julian: That's pretty little.

    Sheldrick: And you know what - the sugar came in a muslin bag and they were -- do you remember that?

    Julian: Oh yeah.

    Sheldrick: I didn't think anybody remembered - and they would be bleached. Now the soap would be used on that, the lye to take the printing off of it.

    Julian: Hammelmate soap.

    Sheldrick: Then they were hemmed. My Grandmother would tell you how to turn them in and then nine stitches to the inch and miter the corners, you know. And showed you how to miter the corners, you folded them over.

    Julian: Did you ever have to do any hem stitching?

    Sheldrick: Hem stitching, oh yes, where's my doily? I made it and I hem stitched the bottom of that. I can still remember counting the threads and stitching them up. You'd have to count you threads and you'd take so many, you know. And then you'd wrap it around and then you'd take the next, count that many, makes your hem stitch. And then eyelet embroidery, you'd punch, you know I have one of those somewhere.

    Julian: The punchers?

    Sheldrick: Yeah, I wonder where that is.

    Julian: I don't know about, I've never seen that.

    Sheldrick: You punched them on the wrong side and then that little -– I wonder where they are, I had two of them. I don't know whether they're in the drawer of the -- Oh, well I'll get them -- you remember it. And then you go around it.

    Julian: Sort of buttonhole stitch around it. That sounds like work.

    Sheldrick: It was work. Well, it was past time too, you didn't go to the movies, you didn't have television, you didn't have telephone, you know. And everybody sat around the table where the light was. There were no such thing as a lamp in that corner, one over there, it was in the middle of the table and you sat around it and you mended and you sewed and you done whatever you had to do - wrote letters, anything. All done on that same table.

    Julian: And I used to play under the table too, you know, in and out on the legs, on those big - we had a big oak table. What kind of table did you have?

    Sheldrick: It was oak.

    Julian: It was a big oak table too?

    Sheldrick: A big oak table with great big legs.

    Julian: Big tall legs, yup.

    Sheldrick: And casters on it.

    Julian: Yes, that's right, I'd forgotten, but you're right.

    Sheldrick: Open it out and put leaves in it, three or four leaves would go into it. And ours never was closed. Because you have so many people, children and all every night. We had to sit around.

    Julian: Oh, very good. Back when you were mending, did you darn your stockings, did you use an egg to put in there to darn your socks?

    Sheldrick: I have one of those. As a matter of fact, I had that this morning and my handle was coming out and I left it out to glue it in. Remind me to get those, look for those two things for you.

    Julian: Alright, did you have a thing to mend your socks where you pulled the thread through with a little thing that had a little head on it that you pulled through.

    Sheldrick: No, we had the long darning needles, you know.

    Julian: My Mother had this thing, it was a little - kind of like a needle except it had a little catch that caught the thread and went through and pulled it, I just wondered, and then it was also used for knitting.

    Sheldrick: Oh yeah, it could be.
  • Tonics and medicines; Root beer and special treats; Weekly routines; Meals and foods
    Keywords: Baking; Castor Oil; Danforth's; Earaches; George Frizzell's store; Granogue (Del.:Estate); Jamaican ginger; Knox Gelatin; Medicines; Root beer; Sam Frizzell's store; Sweet oil and paregoric; Tonics
    Transcript: Julian: Alright, now one more thing I was interested in. Did you all take any - did your mother have you take a tonic, did you take cod liver oil or were you supposed to take some kind of, don't look at me like that.

    Sheldrick: Why would you bring that up. I can taste the darned stuff now - castor oil.

    Julian: Caster oil pretty regularly or just...

    Sheldrick: Horrible - no.

    Julian: Just when you needed it.

    Sheldrick: Yeah, when she thought you needed it, and if you said you didn't feel good, she felt the back of your neck and if it was...

    Julian: She felt the back of your neck - and what?

    Sheldrick: And if it was hot, you know, and she could tell whether you had a temperature or not, yeah, but every time, if you didn't have a temperature, she either gave you castor oil, it was always castor oil, it was never anything else.

    Julian: It was always castor oil. I can remember. Did you all raise you own - did you have your own castor beans or did you just buy it at the store?

    Sheldrick: No, no.

    Julian: We even did that.

    Sheldrick: No, no, my Mother bought it. We had a druggist out there you know. He moved from down along the Brandywine. I don't know what year that was, I was a little girl and I remember him. He went into business for himself in Atlantic City and he used to come back and forth, you know. His name was George Frizzell and he lived - his father and mother lived at the first house as you get off the Delaware Avenue trolley at the top of 19th Street where Rising Sun Lane goes up and 19th Street, well that's where he lived on the first house on the right as you went down the hill. And then they moved to Atlantic City and his wife was a great friend of my Mother's. She was Grace Toy's cousin - her name was Toy, Rose Toy. Beautiful girl, beautiful. And even as an older lady she was pretty.

    Julian: What other medicines did you use besides the castor oil? What if you got a sore place, did they use did they ever use that?

    Sheldrick: No, no, no. Usually yellow soap and sugar for like a boil would be, you'd put a little poultice of yellow soap and sugar on it, or bread and water. My Mother put tea leaves on burns.

    Julian: Okay -- the tannic acid, right.

    Sheldrick: And what else -- camphorated oil -- rub your neck with camphorated oil. If you had a sore throat, you gargled with salt water or she'd get you to stick out your tongue and then she'd put salt on your tongue.

    Julian: And what if you had just a regular tummy ache, would you just...

    Sheldrick: Jamaican ginger, you got Jamaican ginger. I haven't thought about that in years either. And she bought it in a - after George went to Atlantic City, we'd go in to Danforths at Second and Market. It was a wholesale drug house. Well if a store, a drugstore, they would get their supplies from there, but they had a drugstore that you had prescriptions filled or whatever in the store, in front of the building.

    Julian: Okay. What if you had an earache?

    Sheldrick: Earache was sweet oil and there was something else mixed in it, and the druggist would mix that for you. Sweet oil - I'll catch up with that in a little while. paregoric, sweet oil and paregoric. For an earache.

    Julian: That's interesting because I think of paregoric for stomachache. But that's right, it deadens nerves, so that would work for you, that would be good, sure.

    Sheldrick: That's what you used for, and my Mother would drop that in your ear from the spoon. There was no such thing as a medicine dropper.

    Julian: Very good. Are there some questions you wanted to ask?

    Hanrahan: Well we had been reading a lot about root beer. Was that a treat, or did you have it often?

    Sheldrick: You had root beer all summer. My Mother made it all summer long, she made root beer. And she put it in quart jars, air tight in quart jars. And it came, the flavoring came in a bottle about this big.

    Julian: About four inches tall?

    Sheldrick: Yeah. And then, I don't know how much water she would put in, and then she'd put it in these jars or if she had ketchup bottles that had rubbers and then snapped them down, she'd put them in that, but it was always easier to put them in the quart jars. There were so many of us that we could just open the jar, you know.

    Hanrahan: Did she put yeast in it to make it bubble?

    Sheldrick: Yes, yes, the yeast and this thing and water. As far as I know, that was all she put.

    Hanrahan: Did she put sugar?

    Sheldrick: I think she put sugar in it too.

    Hanrahan: And you could just get this any time you wanted it or was it only for a special treat?

    Sheldrick: Oh no, we could have it whenever we wanted it you know.

    Julian: And was it cold?

    Sheldrick: No, it wouldn't -- the ice -- we'd get the ice, had an ice chest you know, and put it in there. But there wouldn't be that much room for it.

    Julian: That's right, you wouldn't use it for your root beer. Boy, you're good. You don't remember anything you did specially on Friday - you had fish on Friday, and anything else special about Friday?

    Sheldrick: Nothing, no.

    Julian: And Saturday, baking.

    Sheldrick: Baking - you got ready all day for Sunday.

    Julian: And then Sunday you went to church.

    Sheldrick: Sunday we got up and went to church, of course. Heaven protect the working girl, you had to go to church. Nobody ever said they didn't want to go.

    Julian: And then you'd come home and eat dinner?

    Sheldrick: No, we had a nice - well, we'd come home and we always went to early Mass and we'd come home and have our breakfast, and then we'd eat around maybe 2:30, 3:00. Then my Mother always had something like cake or maybe something with coffee. I'll tell you want we used to love was lemon Jello. She would make it with Knox Gelatin and lemon juice and things and she'd put white grapes in it. Oh we loved it, we just loved it. And she'd make a big bowl of it.

    Julian: And she would seed all those grapes?

    Sheldrick: Yeah. Oh, there wouldn't be that many, you know, not like you put fruit in Jello now, you know.

    Julian: That's right, but you've got to seed grapes to put them in, right. Fantastic, that's fun. That's a nice little sewing table you have right over there.

    Sheldrick: That is as old as the hills. I got that table for five dollars.

    Julian: Oh really.

    Sheldrick: I started to refinish it and that's all the further I got.

    Julian: I like it.

    Sheldrick: And I moved it here. I've only been here since May.

    Julian: Oh, since May. Are you happy here?

    Sheldrick: I'm as happy here as I can be anywhere else, you know.

    Julian: I like these - awfully nice. We were admiring your apartment when we came in.

    Sheldrick: I'll tell you what, the way I feel about it, I have to live this way, so I might just as well be happy as unhappy because I had two bad falls and I think the reason - I think my Mother fed us so well that our bones are strong. I really believe that.

    Julian: My Mother-in-law keeps falling. She has these terrible falls, she breaks the furniture up, but she doesn't break her bones, and I can't believe --97 she can have a terrible fall and not break anything. It's amazing. Let me ask you another question, this doesn't have anything to do with Hagley, but it's just for my curiosity. Those two houses right over, these two big houses across the street over here, who lives in those big houses, so you know?

    Sheldrick: Right up here - Sharp's lived in one and the other one, the one on this side, Sharp, and it belongs to the University of Delaware now, they left it, Wheelwright.

    Julian: Wilcastle? That's across the street, but I'm talking about on this side of the street.

    Sheldrick: Well Sharp's lived in the big gray stone.

    Julian: Yeah and then there's a big yellow one.

    Sheldrick: And the other one was Haskell. And then Haskell moved from there I think, I'm not sure of this, but I think they moved from there to Granogue. Both du Pont, Mrs. Haskell, I think, was a du Pont. They don't like to leave Delaware. I don't think that applies to the younger generation, though, I think they'll go anywhere.

    Julian: Well, that's fun. ...first opened up, they sewed squares.

    Sheldrick: Squares, and they were patchwork and you could quilt them and then sew them together. Any why I didn't -- I always was going to do it and...

    Julian: Next week you'll have more time, right.

    Sheldrick: Nobody ever died with a case of procrastination because, really, if they did I'd been dead long ago.

    Julian: And I love your dolls over there - those are wonderful.