Interview with William Ball "Billy" Montgomery, 1988 June 13 [audio]

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  • Questions about the family home on Breck's lane; Gardens and vegetables; Food storage; Storing eggs in the winter; Games and toys;
    Keywords: Breck's Lane (Del.:Village); Canning; Chadd's Ford, Pa.; Checkers; Chinese checkers; Chow-chow; Dolls; Du Pont, Alfred I. (Alfred Irenee), 1864-1935; Eggs; Gardens; Hoops (rolling); Irish Stew; Marbles (game); Rehoboth, Del.; Sports; Squirrel Run (Del.: Village); Storage; Vegetables; Wagons
    Transcript: Bennett: This is June 13, 1988 and I'm at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Montgomery at 181 Breck's Lane. We're going to talk about the questions from Questionnaire No. 2. Thank you for having me, Mr. Montgomery.

    Montgomery: You're quite welcome.

    Bennett: Do you mean it? Yeah, sure.

    Montgomery: You can cross it out if you want.

    Bennett: Don't worry about it. I did tell you that this would be a repetition of the other questions. And the first questions I have here is -- I would like to know what place in your attic. Now I think we're going to relate to this house here on Breck's Lane mostly rather than Squirrel Run. Did you have an attic here?

    Montgomery: Yes, it's used for storage only.

    Bennett: Just storage. Was it finished as a room?

    Montgomery: No.

    Bennett: Did you have a cellar?

    Montgomery: Yes.

    Bennett: What did you use in your cellar, what did you do with it? Storage?

    Montgomery: Laundry, and all the preserving, was done down there.

    Bennett: Did you have shelves and so forth?

    Montgomery: Yes.

    Bennett: When the canning was done, did your grandmother and aunt do it just for the family or was it sort of a community project?

    Montgomery: Just for the family.

    Bennett: Just did your own.

    Montgomery: My job was after it was all fixed, they'd let it sit overnight and my job was to make sure the lids were secured tight enough. I had a little stronger grip than they did.

    Bennett: Uh-huh. Did you have to wash the jars too?

    Montgomery: Oh, they boiled them.

    Bennett: Okay. Was that one of your jobs?

    Montgomery: No.

    Bennett: Just that one. What did they can mostly?

    Montgomery: Everything in general from the garden. We had close to an acre in garden from here up to the other home.

    Bennett: An acre, that's a lot of garden. Are there any separate sheds here at this house, on Breck's Lane? Were there separate sheds then?

    Montgomery: Yes. Alfred I. du Pont had his tool shed up there. It fell down and we tore it down.

    Bennett: He tore it down?

    Montgomery: No, we did. It was there after he had left, for ten years, and at that time it was in pretty good shape. It had are windows and it had an indoor bath...

    Bennett: You can say.

    Montgomery: Not the water.

    Bennett: Was it heated?

    Montgomery: No.

    Bennett: And did you use it for storage as well?

    Montgomery: Oh yeah.

    Bennett: What would you store in it?

    Montgomery: Tools.

    Bennett: The tools - for the garden and so forth?

    Montgomery: Yes. And I had a brother, he was drowned within two years ago down in Rehoboth, he was a great worker in the Future Farmers of America and the 4-H Club; in fact he was President of both of them and his hobby was raising chickens. You had to have a hobby to be in either of those groups. And he won a lot of awards.

    Bennett: For raising chickens.

    Montgomery: Mostly leghorns for that.

    Bennett: Did you have any attached sheds to this house?

    Montgomery: No. He built a garage. He was the first Montgomery to have a car, first V-8 car to come out.

    Bennett: Your brother?

    Montgomery: My grandfather bought it for him to commute to Delaware. Of course in later years they built the cars longer, and it wouldn’ t really fit into the measurement he had made for the ’ 32 V-8, and eventually it started to deteriorate under those trees and we tore it down. Right at the present we don’ t have a garage, haven’ t had one for years.

    Bennett: You haven’ t? Was it heated?

    Montgomery: No.

    Bennett: No – just regular garage. Now in this house here, the outside kitchen, would that have been considered a shed?

    Montgomery: Yes.

    Bennett: That would be the same – to this house – that would be a shed, so to speak?

    Woman: They had a stove in there, like a cook stove, and they did a lot of cooking out there.

    Bennett: In the summertime, I suppose – yeah, because you showed me where the chimney was – double chimney from one kitchen to the other one. Where did they store their wood – your grandparents?

    Montgomery: In the shed out – Alfred I.’ s shed.

    Bennett: Alfred I.’ s shed, okay. Was it your job to go get the wood?

    Montgomery: Yes, if I was around.

    Bennett: Let’ s see if that’ s any better.

    Woman: Well they didn’ t really use too much wood, did you – didn’ t you use coal most of the time?

    Montgomery: Oh in the fall, before we started the coal, and in the late spring.

    Woman: But wintertime it was all coal.

    Montgomery: All coal.

    Bennett: Where would you store the coal?

    Montgomery: Coal bins were in the basement.

    Bennett: In the basement along with the foodstuffs and so forth. How about Irish Stew, did you ever eat Irish Stew as such?

    Montgomery: Oh yes.

    Bennett: What was in your Irish Stew, do you remember?

    Montgomery: Meat, potatoes.

    Bennett: Any vegetables?

    Montgomery: Yes.

    Bennett: Carrots maybe?

    Montgomery: Yes, corn.

    Bennett: Onions?

    Woman: Probably.

    Montgomery: Probably, but I don’ t care for onions even to today.

    Woman: Well I still cook with onions, I just use a little bit of onion.

    Bennett: I think lots of times it adds some zest. Can you remember where, here, your aunt and your grandmother stored their flour?

    Montgomery: Yes, they had a big wooden barrel under the sink.

    Bennett: Under the sink?

    Montgomery: Well – I put that sink in now, the other one was just a wooden drainboard and there was room there. And they’ d buy it by the bag and just dump it in there.

    Bennett: How big of a bag?

    Montgomery: I don't remember, but there used to be a man down in the Highlands - he would send a man around to take your order, and deliver it in several days.

    Bennett: Was the bag made of cloth?

    Montgomery: Yes, usually.

    Bennett: How about sugar, was it done the same way?

    Montgomery: Yes, and prunes and any dried stuff.

    Bennett: And then it was also put into a wooden container? The sugar?

    Montgomery: No, I don't believe it was -- tin -- tin can.

    Bennett: Tin can, okay. Do you know if it was bought in large quantities?

    Montgomery: Not too large. Now we used to - I don't know if you have ever seen the - how you could store eggs for the entire winter?

    Bennett: No, tell me.

    Montgomery: We had a big crock, and we used to buy something similar to Jello that would harden, and you'd fill the crock up with maybe -- it would hold maybe seven or eight dozen of eggs, of course we had to have some duck eggs in there for my Grandfather, he liked them. Then you melted this like a wax and completely cover the eggs and it hardened and it kept them, not under refrigeration. And when you wanted an egg or two, you'd get a spoon and take them out and wash them off, shells and all.

    Bennett: Where would you store the crock?

    Montgomery: Down the basement.

    Bennett: In the basement. The flour and sugar, were they in the outside shed or in the kitchen.

    Woman: Underneath the sink.

    Bennett: Underneath the - okay, in that one. How about the storage of pickles, where would you store those and sauerkraut, that type of thing?

    Montgomery: We never ate much of that.

    Bennett: Didn't eat pickles either?

    Montgomery: No.

    Bennett: How about relishes -- chow-chow or chili sauce?

    Montgomery: Well, they'd make the chow-chow.

    Woman: Well his aunt would make it - they'd put it in quart jars.

    Montgomery: They'd go over to the well pump cover and husk all the corn and shell all the beans and everything, kept all the dirt over there.

    Bennett: Did you have - store oatmeal, did you buy that in large quantities?

    Montgomery: Pardon?

    Bennett: Oatmeal, did you...

    Montgomery: Oh yeah, my Grandfather was a great oatmeal eater.

    Bennett: How would you store that?

    Montgomery: In a metal container.

    Bennett: Same thing. I think every thing was in metal probably, well, mouse proof and whatever, wasn't it. Well, let's talk about children's games you played, and I'm gonna...

    Montgomery: I'm not cunnythumb either, I'll take you on any day.

    Bennett: That had to be one of your favorite games. That and baseball, is that right?

    Woman: Yes.

    Montgomery: No, I played every sport.

    Bennett: Oh, you played them all -- I think you did. Okay, I'll bet you didn't play jacks, did you?

    Montgomery: That was a girls' game.

    Woman: You might have played them when your cousins came, Martha and Ella and Mabel and Jane.

    Bennett: He wouldn't be caught playing jacks I don't think. How about rolling a hoop, did you ever roll a hoop?

    Montgomery: Oh yeah.

    Bennett: Where did you roll a hoop?Montgomery: Oh, we’ d run for miles.

    Bennett: Down Breck’ s lane?

    Montgomery: Oh, clean out to Lancaster Pike, then back Center Road and all the way around.

    Bennett: With a hoop?

    Montgomery: Yeah.

    Bennett: Wow! Where did you get your hoops?

    Montgomery: Oh – barrels, hold the staves together.

    Bennett: They probably weren’ t very hard to come by, were they?

    Montgomery: I got a couple in the basement.

    Bennett: You still do?

    Montgomery: On an old – it’ s a wooden flour tub. We used to bring it up, this is the first year we haven’ t – the bottom’ s…

    Woman: It’ s falling apart.

    Montgomery: deteriorated too much, but there’ s two rings on it. I was looking at it the other day, and you can make hoops out of them.

    Bennett: Well, if I see somebody going off with a hoop, I’ m gonna know who it is.

    Montgomery: I’ m not rolling them today – I couldn’ t keep up with the hoop.

    Bennett: Did you ever play checkers?

    Montgomery: Oh yeah, both kinds.

    Bennett: Winter and summer, or was it wintertime…

    Montgomery: Winter.

    Bennett: When you say “ both kinds” , what do you mean?

    Montgomery: Ordinary and Chinese.

    Bennett: Oh, okay.

    Montgomery: I guess you would call it the American checkers.

    Bennett: Did you have a swing?

    Montgomery: Oh yes, we had one of those old wooden ones, with two seats like that.

    Bennett: Oh, like the glider type of swing?

    Montgomery: Yeah. And my cousins were young and they went up there and you had to have a ticket to get on. We had a forsythia bush - pull a leaf on that, and use it as a ticket.

    Bennett: And that was a ticket. Isn't it funny the things that you did.

    Woman: Was that on the front porch?

    Montgomery: No, down there near the garage where we burned. Too big to be on the front porch.

    Woman: Oh, I see.

    Bennett: How about spinning tops, did you have a top?

    Montgomery: Yes, many of them.

    Bennett: Did you like them, like playing with them? Now I know you didn't have a doll, or did you?

    Montgomery: No.

    Bennett: If you said "yes", some of the men did have dolls.

    Montgomery: I probably would have had a carriage and a doll that the Museum would have liked. It was my Mother's...

    Woman: We don't have it.

    Montgomery: ...and we disposed of it. She was raised by the Ball family and when - they moved, eventually, up to Chadd's Ford, they're deceased now -- they gave it to me and we had it up in the attic for a while and we disposed of it.

    Woman: Well, see, we had three boys.

    Bennett: Yeah, yeah.

    Woman: And they didn't want no parts of the carriage.

    Bennett: Yeah, well that's right.

    Woman: And it was really old.

    Montgomery: But, they probably would have liked something like that, they could have fixed it up.

    Bennett: Oh yes, loved it. And you know, anything like that, you know it would be well taken of over there, that's the thing -- forever, let's say. How about wagons, did you have a wagon?

    Montgomery: Oh yeah.

    Bennett: Would you describe your wagon to me?

    Montgomery: Oh, they were similar to what they still build today.

    Bennett: Was it wooden?

    Montgomery: No.

    Bennett: It was metal?

    Montgomery: Metal.

    Bennett: Did it have like a high side, or the low sides?

    Montgomery: Medium.

    Bennett: Did it have spokey wheels? Or was it the wooden spokes or wire wheels or was it a solid?

    Montgomery: No, they were solid.

  • Card games; Biking and rollerskating; Different marble games; Fireworks and other amusements; Popular songs
    Keywords: "On the Banks of the Brandywine" (song); "Picture of Life's Other Side" (song); "The Vacant Chair" (song); "Two Little Boys in Blue" (song); Barley Mill Lane; Bicycles; Breck's Lane (Del.: Village); Breck's Mill Cronies; Card games; Centerville, Del.; Hagee's tavern; Hump the Hare (game); Marbles (game); Rollerskates; Rollerskating; Squirrel Run (Del.: Village)
    Transcript: Bennett: Solid wheel. How about card games, what kind of card games did you play?

    Montgomery: Now I told you...

    Bennett: Well I know, but this is another tape, see, you've got to tell me.

    Montgomery: I got a deck of Budweiser cards, and you got any money in your pocketbook, I'll take you on. The only deck of cards was allowed in this home was Bible cards.

    Bennett: Bible cards - would you describe them?

    Montgomery: Well, they were the books of the Bible.

    Bennett: And you recited them, right?

    Montgomery: But after that, I played poker all my life -- hadn't played much since I was in the Service -- I'd sit up all night while I was in the Service, card game.

    Bennett: Where would you play?

    Montgomery: In the latrine, it was the only place allowed to have a light on.

    Bennett: Oh, okay.

    Montgomery: And the guard making the bed check, he'd have to come down there and check us off.

    Bennett: See who was playing cards -- where were you stationed then?

    Montgomery: Oh, I was in about six camps in the United States before I went to the South Pacific.

    Bennett: You did it anywhere that you got an opportunity to play?

    Montgomery: Played so much on the train going from coast to coast, and on the boat and on to the Pacific. I got just too much of it I guess.

    Bennett: Well, I have a feeling it kept your mind from other things. I think this was part of it, it was a release, it gave you something to think about other than your personal life.

    Montgomery: I was pretty good at it. I very seldom came out a loser.

    Bennett: Oh, okay, no wonder.

    Woman: He ought to go to Vegas and play.

    Bennett: Or go down to Atlantic City.

    Woman: Or play the lottery.

    Bennett: How about a scooter, did you have a scooter?

    Montgomery: No.

    Bennett: No, no scooters. Did you have a bicycle?

    Montgomery: Yes, real small one.

    Bennett: A tricycle I guess, was it a three--wheel?

    Montgomery: I had a real small - they built bicycles, see the wheels weren't no more in diameter than what that fan was.

    Bennett: That would be how big would you say?

    Montgomery: Oh, fifteen, fourteen inches.

    Bennett: Yeah, I guess so, okay. And about how old were you then when you had that?

    Montgomery: Maybe twelve.

    Bennett: Would you ride it on Breck’ s Lane?

    Montgomery: Oh yeah. Back in those days still horse and buggies, they wouldn't run you down.

    Bennett: Yes, and you could go out on Pennsylvania Avenue there, I guess, as well.

    Montgomery: We used to roller skate from here to Centerville, right up the middle of the Pike.

    Bennett: I used to love to roller skate.

    Montgomery: I did too, I wasn't -- I always wished I could waltz with it, but I never accomplished that.

    Bennett: There was Woodside Park in Philadelphia, right? And we used to go there on Friday nights and you could dance on the skates - it was kind of fun, but I was never that good, but I did enjoy doing it. How about tag, did you ever play the game of tag?

    Montgomery: Oh yeah.

    Bennett: Run Sheepie Run?

    Montgomery: Yeah - Hide and Go Seek.

    Bennett: Hide and Go Seek, yeah. Marbles, did you ever play marbles?

    Montgomery: Plenty.

    Bennett: Plenty of marbles.

    Montgomery: For keeps.

    Bennett: Beg pardon?

    Montgomery: For keeps.

    Bennett: For keeps, okay. Would you describe the games that you played - the different marble games?

    Montgomery: Well, I guess they called it King in the Ring, King in the Center, large circle or ring like they do today. You have to shoot from outside of the ring.

    Bennett: And how did you win the marbles?

    Montgomery: By either knocking the other opponent out of the circle.

    Bennett: Out of the circle, then it was yours. Any other games with marbles?

    Montgomery: Not that I can recall.

    Bennett: How about your marble bag, what was it made of?

    Montgomery: Salt bag.

    Woman: That's pineapple juice.

    Bennett: Oh, thank you.

    Montgomery: And we used to use the salt bags - I told you we drank this well water...

    Bennett: Yeah.

    Montgomery: I drank it sixty-some years, Flo drank it for forty-some, then they come down to hook us up with the City water. But there was always certain - little rust or something and we always had to -- had a hand pump too and a wooden spout -- trough, and we always had a salt bag where the water came out in case there were any impurities in it, why it would get caught in the bag.

    Bennett: Would act like a strainer then, I guess.

    Montgomery: Filter.

    Bennett: Yes, yes. How about fireworks, did you ever...

    Montgomery: Oh yeah.

    Bennett: Did you make them?

    Montgomery: No, they were legal then.

    Bennett: Alright, where did you get them?

    Montgomery: In town, store right on Market Street sold them.

    Bennett: Anybody close here that would sell them?

    Montgomery: They sold them at Hagee's all year 'round. It was a general store.

    Bennett: I know where you mean. Wasn't it considered dangerous, to be this close to the yards and have fireworks?

    Montgomery: Yeah, an accident happened down in Forty Acres. A man sold them and he sent two young boys down – oh look at the groundhog -- you missed it.

    Bennett: I missed him.

    Montgomery: Flo had seen it, she'd wet her pants. She hates them. They're not gonna bother you. I'm scared of the skunks since there's rabies in them.

    Bennett: Yeah - do you have many skunks?

    Montgomery: Don't see them at night time, but daytime. Now when they come out in the daytime, they are rabies.

    Bennett: That's right, like the...

    Montgomery: I look up in the trees, I can't find any, but we got to put our garbage out, we can't put it out overnight - they'd knock it right over.

    Bennett: I know, their hands look human.

    Montgomery: And I know they're up in these trees every night because I see the bark tore off and I'm picking limbs up every morning -- it's not a squirrel because their weight isn't enough to knock the branches off. Anyway, where were we -- oh about these two young boys - the store owner sent them down the basement to unpack the fireworks and they were in wooden boxes -- cherry bombs, and they went off and they were both killed. And that was the beginning of banning them in the State of Delaware, in fact they are nearly banned in every state now.

    Bennett: That must have been awful.

    Montgomery: Did you see where they're getting millions of them being shipped in from China down in Florida?

    Bennett: No.

    Montgomery: Same as -- checking cocaine in Florida -- found millions of these illegal fireworks being shipped there. We used to put them off over on that wall. We had them under - we couldn't wait to get up at the crack of dawn to put them off. Of course I told you prior to that -- this neighborhood was a noisey neighborhood. We got windows in the basement and had to put our dog down there, and they're still all chewed around the edges where she wanted to get out and scared to death of them. They used to -- they alldidn't have money to buy 'em, they used to use a carbon in a tin can. And you put a little bit of this carbon in the tin can, and wet it a trifle, putthe lid back on, and make a nail hole in the other end and hold a match there -- wham -- blow that lid off and make a terrific noise.

    Bennett: Wow -- that would be dangerous, wouldn't you say?

    Montgomery: Oh yeah, I knew a fellow -- when we left Squirrel Run we were in Barley Mill Lane for a while -- and next door neighbor there, he had a pox face from the marks until he died one of the Haley's.

    Bennett: Sure, it would penetrate the skin and it would -- did you ever play boccie?

    Montgomery: Not here, but at a tavern I went to over on Lancaster Pike, an Italian man ran it and he had a court in his backyard and we’ d go out there and play for beers.

    Woman: Is it the same as what Jim has, boccie ball?

    Montgomery: Yeah.

    Bennett: How about Hump the Hare?

    Montgomery: Yes.

    Bennett: You played Hump the Hare -- that was a summertime thing, probably? I'm going to go to songs now and when I spoke with you before, we discussed popular songs and one was “ On the Banks of the Brandywine" and I did bring you...

    Montgomery: Banks of the old Brandywine amongst the hills, the powder mills, as a boy I did wander -- but I can't never find the rest of the words. These men were -- one of them was Mr. Buchanan, some of his family worked in the powder mills, one was Mr. Flannigan, he lived right under the - across from the Hall of Records, the home is tore down, and they knew these old-timers and tear jerkers. I told you some of them, "The Vacant Chair”  , "Picture of Life's Other Side", "Two Little Boys in Blue" – they were their favorites.

    Bennett: I think that one, "On the Banks of the Brandywine” they adapted their own interpretation. That's what that was, yeah, and that's why...

    Woman: Yeah, you gave us a copy...it's a different version.

    Bennett: No, see -- they just made up their own version, probably somebody that was a Breck's Mill Cronies, or some of those people, you know, in those times.

    Montgomery: I told young girl was in Flitch's Cafe at one time, and she used to come in Hagee's with her husband and we got friendly with them, she was originally from Chadd’ s Ford. Now she had a different version of it too, she'd get up and sing it.

    Bennett: Well, it's one of those things I hope sometime we can find the words, it would be kind of fun to have it I think. Did your family have any traditional songs that you would sing -- like you mentioned those songs, any others - that were just your personal family songs?

    Montgomery: No.

    Bennett: Nobody was that interested in singing. Did anybody play a banjo?

    Montgomery: None of our family played any instruments, even our boys. They played sports.

    Bennett: Nothing musical?

    Woman: Well, his family was religious, very religious, they didn't go for any...

    Montgomery: Every Sunday evening Grandmother, my Grandfather wouldn't get in it, my Aunt and her boyfriend, my brother and I, we'd sit in the living room and read a chapter, each one read a verse around a circle. And my brother and I weren't no chickens.

    Bennett: Well, that was quite -- your family life. This is really what we’ re interested in learning, how the different families...

    Woman: They wouldn't do that today, our kids wouldn't sit and read a verse of the Bible with us.

    Bennett: No, no, it's a very different world, it sure is.

    Woman: It sure is.

    Bennett: Some's good and some's bad.

    Woman: Oh yes, oh yes.
  • Grandmother and aunt's knitting and quilting; Grandmother's weekly routine; Newspapers and magazines; Books and reading at home;
    Keywords: Baking; Chores; Embroidery; Hagee's tavern; Hagley Community House (Breck's Mill); Knitting; Needlework; Quilting; Rover Boys (book series); Sewing
    Transcript: Bennett: Do you remember your aunt or your grandmother knitting?

    Montgomery: Oh yeah.

    Bennett: Can you tell me...

    Montgomery: I told you about - they used to meet here for quilting. My Aunt's brother, my Uncle Tom, was a pattern maker and he built the...

    Woman: The frame.

    Montgomery: ...rig to stretch the quilt on. And there was about five or six of them meet here every afternoon, of course I didn't work then. Including Mrs. Yetter that used to live up next to us, Mrs. MacAdoo, lives in Claymont, has a restaurant. We go up to see her occasionally.

    Bennett: Do you remember -- I've read her interviews, I've met her down at the party at Breck's Mill.

    Montgomery: Yeah, her and her son were down there.

    Woman: She's a lovely person, but she's really feeble, can hardly walk.

    Bennett: I think they carried her in if I remember correctly.

    Woman: All crippled up with arthritis.

    Bennett: Arthritis, yeah.

    Woman: She usually calls -- it's about time for her to call here. She usually calls like once every three weeks.

    Bennett: Oh, does she?

    Woman: Or maybe she’ s waiting for me to call her, but I don't like to call her because I'm afraid she may fall, you know, getting to the phone.

    Montgomery: She has to use a walker.

    Bennett: Does she live alone?

    Woman: She has a housekeeper, but she does live alone. She has a woman come in at night, and she's looking right now for somebody to stay with her in the daytime. She had a woman, she didn’ t like her, she was…

    Montgomery: You’ re not doing nothing, Peggy. You didn’ t hear that.

    Bennett: No, I didn’ t.

    Montgomery: You’ re not doing anything.

    Bennett: I’ m bothering you.

    Woman: This woman that she had, she was -– I forget what nationality she was – - she ate her out of house and home.

    Montgomery: Jamaican.

    Woman: Jamaican, yeah, big woman. And she would, you know, her daughter-in-law would bring ice cream and everything, what she would need from the store, and the Jamaican woman would sit down and eat it all. And then at night Mrs. Yetter would say, “ I’ d like a dish of ice cream,” and she’ d say, “ Well, there is none.” Oh she ate her out – - so she fired her, she said she couldn’ t put up with her.

    Montgomery: Well the son’ s very good to her, but he turned the business – they went out of the restaurant business, they just have the liquor store, and he turned that over to the son and he’ s bought a place in Florida, him and his wife. They come occasionally but…

    Woman: When the mother passes away, he’ s going to move to Florida.

    Bennett: Oh, I see.

    Woman: But he’ s back and forth. He still has a home up on Talley Road, big home, but eventually they want to move to Florida. Then he has a sister, this is Mrs. Yetter’ s daughter, and she’ s full on arthritis, she can hardly get around.

    Bennett: Must be in the family genes.

    Woman: Must be, uh-huh. So of course the son’ s very, very good to the mother.

    Bennett: Yes, I had that feeling, and the grandsons as well, I’ ve had that feeling. This started with the knitting, and then you said about the quilting, did your grandmother and your aunt knit as well, do you remember that?

    Montgomery: Some, not too much, shawls or something like that.

    Bennett: Sweaters?

    Montgomery: Shawls.

    Bennett: No sweaters?

    Montgomery: I don't believe so.

    Bennett: How about socks, did they ever knit socks?

    Montgomery: Not to my knowledge.

    Bennett: Would this be -- if they did do this, would it be in the evening?

    Montgomery: Well when they had the quilting parties, they were in the afternoon.

    Bennett: In the afternoon, probably better to see.

    Woman: Yes - and then traveling.

    Montgomery: Many a needle - I had to thread all the needles, but I don't think I could do it now unless they make the hole big enough for a camel to go through.

    Bennett: Oh, that's neat. Okay, how about baking - do you remember when your grandmother or your aunt did the baking?

    Montgomery: We baked all our bread. I told you about going down to the general store, and they gave me two cents to get a cake of yeast, the old man wouldn't - he'd boosted his price to three cents and I had to walk all the way home and get the other penny, I cussed him all the way home and all the way back.

    Bennett: I don't blame you. And he probably knew you very well, didn't he?

    Montgomery: Sure.

    Bennett: Sure, he just wanted you to have a little exercise. When did they bake, do you remember which days it was?

    Montgomery: No - they'd knead it all up and my grandfather had a sofa in there - he only went in the other part of the house, in the bedroom, and he'd lay there and smoke...

    Bennett: The sofa was in the kitchen?

    Montgomery: ...smoke his corncob pipe. And they would make all the dough, and knead it and set it in the - cover it over and not bake it until the following morning, let it rise.

    Bennett: Do you have any idea how many times they would do this a week?

    Montgomery: Probably several.

    Bennett: Did they bake more than bread - did they make cakes or rolls - how about pies?

    Montgomery: Oh yeah.

    Bennett: Was a cake for a special occasion?

    Montgomery: Usually - we didn't have too much -- people back them days didn't eat as many sweets as they do today.

    Woman: They ate more preserves.

    Montgomery: We'd go up to church, we'd buy the bake table out.

    Bennett: Yeah, that's true. Did they -- oh -- pies, did they make pies in the summertime - blueberry?

    Montgomery: We used to buy a whole crate of cherries, I told you we had a stoner, and I usually seeded them and they preserved them. And a whole crate of strawberries when they were in season, we'd preserve them and had them all winter long.

    Bennett: Now when they preserved them, was this for dessert as such, or would it be for pie making?

    Montgomery: No, it would be dessert. I could sit down and eat a whole quart of them cherries.

    Bennett: Right now?

    Montgomery: No, then. They wouldn't allow me to have that many.

    Bennett: Does sound good - I love those dark, red cherries. How about a sewing machine, did they have a sewing machine?

    Montgomery: Oh yeah.

    Bennett: Where did they keep it?

    Montgomery: Sitting right in there where that radio is.

    Bennett: It's right there?

    Woman: Oh no, it's not there now.

    Bennett: It was right there in the kitchen?

    Montgomery: Wasn't electric, old peddle one.

    Bennett: And it was always in the kitchen?

    Montgomery: Yes.

    Bennett: What did they do with it, did they make clothing or did they mend?

    Montgomery: Mostly mend.

    Bennett: Mending. Do you remember that they might have made some clothes?

    Woman: They might have made aprons, something like that, something that was easy, but they didn't make...

    Bennett: They didn't make dresses or anything like that?

    Woman: Oh no. They could have made a long skirt or something. Any pictures I've seen of his grandmother, she always had a real long skirt on.

    Bennett: Well that was the popular costume and the high-neck blouses and so forth.

    Woman: Yes, but it was mostly aprons I think they made.

    Bennett: Do you remember that they might have done any hand sewing?

    Montgomery: Yes, my aunt did needlework - what do you call that? She made one when I was in the Service.

    Woman: Embroidery - she did a lot of embroidering.

    Montgomery: She had my picture in the middle of it and embroidery all around.

    Woman: A verse or something.

    Montgomery: And had it framed.

    Bennett: Oh, that sounds nice. How about -- not many people are familiar with this -- do you know what -- have you ever seen hair jewelry? It's very old, I think -- what I really think it was, the ladies would have – when their hair was cut off, they would twist the hair and make jewelry?

    Woman: I've never heard that.

    Bennett: I've seen one piece, but I would not have guessed what it was made of. How about newspapers and magazines - did you get any newspapers delivered here?

    Montgomery: Delivered here.

    Bennett: What did you get, the local paper or...

    Montgomery: The local paper.

    Bennett: Weekly as well?

    Montgomery: When it was down to two cents.

    Bennett: It's come a long way, hasn't it?

    Montgomery: I've got one somewhere, it was only a cent.

    Woman: One cent.

    Bennett: One cent, oh imagine. A Wilmington paper – an evening or morning paper?

    Montgomery: I don’ t know what it is, probably back those years only put out one a day.

    Bennett: How many pages, do you recall?

    Montgomery: How many pages?

    Bennett: Yeah, for a penny, how many pages did you get?

    Woman: Not too many pages were in it, probably...

    Montgomery: We didn't get many magazines, Presbyterian Magazine.

    Bennett: Okay, how often did it come?

    Montgomery: I think we bought that at the church, didn't we, or was it mailed?

    Woman: I don't know.

    Bennett: You don't remember. The newspapers, were they delivered, or did you have to go buy it?

    Montgomery: It was delivered. The Conley family lived right across from Hagee's. See there used to be about four homes there in a row. And his mother really had charge of it. Then of course she got old, she had different younger ones and youths in the neighborhood deliver them, and he was the one with the barber.

    Bennett: These names, when he starts to talk, or someone does, I know I know something about these people, and the barber finally made it click. Did you have books at home, did you read books, did your family read books?

    Montgomery: Oh we -- "Rover Boys" was always a Christmas gift. I was just reading about - in the paper yesterday about Tinker Toys coming back.

    Bennett: I read that, yeah.

    Montgomery: And Erector sets, I think they had faded out -- we had them too. The corporations are even using Tinker Toys -- didn't the article say that?

    Bennett: M-huh, m-huh.

    Montgomery: I didn't read it thoroughly.

    Bennett: Well things do a circle. Did your grandfather read books and magazines?

    Montgomery: I don't think my Grandfather could read.

    Bennett: You want to hold it (the microphone). Let me see, I don't want you to be annoyed holding it, unless you want to. If you'd like to, I'll let you.

    Montgomery: What do you want me to sing "On the Banks of the Brandywine?” 

    Bennett: Sure, I'd love it if you would.

    Montgomery: I wished I knew it.

    Bennett: So do I. I don't know what to do with this thing to make it stick, the softness of the sweater, the knit, okay, let's try that for a while. Yeah, want to sing for me? Oh, we were talking about books, your grandfather, did he read books?

    Montgomery: I don't think my father could read.

    Woman: Your Grandfather could write or read.

    Montgomery: No - Aunt Jenny, he put an X down and Aunt Jenny would fill the rest of it out. Alfred I. put the plan in the State of Delaware, before any pension plan, and this wasn't just for Du Pont employees, every senior citizen in the United States got it, I mean Delaware got it. He paid it...

    Bennett: He was responsible for that?

    Montgomery: He paid for it out of his pocket. He got that for working up there and he was getting paid for working up to the State.
  • Interest in politics; Grandfather's garden; Memorial Day observations; Livestock animals and pets
    Keywords: Cantaloupes; Chickens; Concord grapes; Corn; Dahlias; Delaware; Du Pont, Alfred I. (Alfred Irenee), 1864-1935; Gardens; Guinea Fowl; Memorial Day; New Hampshire Midget (watermelon); Pensions; Politics; Poppies; Potatoes; Rabbits; Red potatoes; Sweet potatoes; Tomatoes; Turkeys; Watermelons
    Transcript: Bennett: He was quite a man, wasn't he? Was your family interested in politics and elections when they came around?

    Montgomery: Not too much, they were Republicans and we're Democrats. Well I was in union work and most union men are inclined to be Democrats.

    Bennett: I think this could be true, yeah.

    Montogmery: We've been fed up with the Republicans.

    Bennett: But growing up, you don't remember - let's say them discussing the coming president or maybe the mayor or the governor?

    Montogmery: Oh, probably did, but a lot of it go in one ear and out the other.

    Bennett: Okay, you’ re not aware of -- we did start to discuss the gardens, the next is the gardens. I think it was off the tape that you mentioned the size of your grandfather's garden. What was the size, it was over an acre, did you say?Montgomery: Close to an acre.

    Bennett: Close to an acre, okay.

    Montgomery: But he planted about a fifth of it in potatoes, enough to last all winter. And he didn't bother picking small ones up, and my Grandmother and Aunt would get them and boil them and feed them to the chickens - skins and all.

    Bennett: The small ones you mean?

    Montgomery: Yeah.

    Bennett: Oh - now would they keep for a long time, as food...

    Montgomery: No.

    Bennett: You’ d have to do it sort of right away. Now you said that you did so many potatoes— how were they stored and where were they stored?

    Montgomery: In the basement.

    Bennett: In the basement— that needed to be a good-sized basement, didn’ t it?

    Woman: Didn’ t they call it a root cellar or something, was that what it was?

    Montogmery: We never had a root cellar. Uncle Bill had put some dirt down there once under the steps for dahlia bulbs. They should be stored in dirt too.

    Bennett: In dirt. Can you remember any of the other vegetables? I know we just sort of discusses a little bit before— if a fifth of it was potatoes, what was the next largest— maybe tomatoes, that sort of thing.

    Montgomery: Tomatoes and corn and when I took it over I tried everything imaginable— watermelon, cantaloupes, white potatoes, red potatoes, sweet potatoes, you name it.

    Bennett: You had them all.

    Montgomery: And I worked it after I come home from work.

    Bennett: How did melons grow? Were they easy to grow, melons?

    Montgomery: Well summers here aren’ t really long enough to grow regular watermelons. I tried these New Hampshire midgets, they’ re much— about the size of a cantaloupe.

    Bennett: Oh, those little round, yeah.

    Woman: We didn’ t plant that many, but we had enough for ourselves.

    Bennett: Did you have a fence around the garden?

    Montgomery: No, nobody ever bothered it.

    Bennett: How about the animals?Montgomery: Oh, occasionally you’ d find tomatoes chewed on, the ones down low. I think rats come out of that wall down along the road.

    Bennett: But not enough to hamper the garden.

    Montgomery: No.

    Bennett: How about flowers and shrubbery, did you have a lot of flowers?

    Montgomery: We had enough— a whole row of peonies and a whole row of poppies and they’ ve all died away, didn’ t get a one this year.

    Woman: The poppies.

    Bennett: I like poppies, don’ t you?

    Montogmery: Oh, they’ re so fragile thought. No my uncle, he was more interested in flowers than vegetables.

    Woman: He would plant a lot of dahlias, and I love a dahlia plant, I think they’ re pretty.

    Bennett: They are, they are.

    Montgomery: Now, he’ d always try to time the poppies to put them in the church around Memorial Day and he would cut them and he’ d blacken the stem with a candle so they would keep at least twenty-four hours.

    Bennett: Were the flowers grown in with the vegetables, around the vegetables, or closer to the house?

    Montgomery: Closer to the house. Then we had two rows of grapevines there, and they got old and weren’ t pruned properly and we eventually tore them all out.

    Bennett: What kind of grapes, do you recall?

    Montgomery: Concord purple grapes.

    Bennett: you didn’ t make wine? Grape juice?

    Montgomery: Grape juice. My father made a little winder and I’ d sneak a little of it.

    Woman: And his aunt made quite a lot of jelly – grape jelly.

    Montgomery: Aunt Jenny made grape juice out of them. She’ d keep it til Christmas and along with it and fruit cake for company come in for dessert.

    Bennett: That sounds like a good combination, doesn't it?

    Montgomery: Well Flo used to make fruit cakes, until maybe six years ago.

    Woman: It was just too much work. I don't know, it was just too much work I thought. When I made them I ate too many.

    Bennett: That's my problem, if I've got them, I eat them, I know, yeah.

    Woman: But he would still like me to make a fruit cake. Maybe sometime I will.

    Bennett: Do you make the wet kind, wet fruit?

    Woman: Well I usually use a pound cake, and put the fruit in it.

    Bennett: Fruit in it, yeah. That’ s a little different.

    Woman: Oh his aunt used to make very good fruit cake. It would take us all day.

    Bennett: Oh sure, oh sure.

    Woman: Getting the stuff ready.

    Bennett: Did you grow any herbs in the garden?

    Montgomery: Pardon?

    Bennett: Did you grow any herbs?

    Montgomery: Not many, no.

    Bennett: Do you remember any that you might have grown? Herb - it's very popular. A lot of herbs, they're growing them.

    Woman: Oh yes.

    Bennett: Do you think, maybe, parsley - they might have had something like that, but not an herb garden as such?

    Montgomery: Now. We make homemade soup, we used to buy the— what do you call them? The bundle that contained all the…

    Bennett: Oh yeah, Okay, potherbs, potherbs.

    Montgomery: I don’ t think you can buy them today.

    Woman: Yes, you can.

    Bennett: Sometimes you can.

    Montgomery: I thought you told me you couldn’ t.

    Woman: Well, sometimes I make soup. I’ m not neat the store, but they still sell them. I’ ve seen them. It’ s like a bunch of celery and carrots tied together.

    Bennett: Yeah, and some parsley and whatever. But you do remember them using that for soup, I’ m sure.

    Woman: You can’ t even buy, I mean you can hardly get a soup bone today, you have to pay for them.

    Bennett: I know you do.

    Woman: And they’ re expensive.

    Bennett: It’ s ridiculous.

    Montgomery: We went up to Dunkin Donuts one day and Flo— we used to so like them holes, you know in the donut?

    Bennett: I know what you mean.

    Montgomery: And a man in back of Flo says, “ You don’ t have to pay for them, do you?” Indeed you do, you don’ t get nothin’ for nothin’ today.

    Woman: And they charge about five cents now, each, for those donut holes.

    Bennett: My grandson came in wit a little carton of them, you know, and they were all mixed up. But they’ re nicr, I like the bite size, they’ re really nice.

    Woman: Yes, uh-huh, you can get a different variety. It’ s better than a big, fat donut.

    Bennett: That’ s right. I still like the old kind, the cruller kind, that’ s my favorite. Did you grow chickens— raise chickens?

    Montgomery: Oh yeah - chickens, turkeys, guineas.

    Bennett: Right here?

    Montgomery: Yeah.

    Bennett: Did you have chicken houses and so forth?

    Montgomery: Pardon?

    Bennett: Did you have a chicken house?

    Woman: Yes, that’ s what was up there.

    Bennett: Oh, okay, up there.

    Montgomery: The tool shed, my brother built on to it.

    Bennett: Okay.

    Woman: You know even the chickens today aren't any good.

    Bennett: I think they're too fast, they inject them and make them grow, yes, you're right.

    Woman: Doesn't even taste like chicken.

    Montgomery: We had tame pigeons, rabbits.

    Bennett: About how many chickens would you have had, it would have been your brother, I guess? Did your grandfather have chickens as well?

    Montgomery: Well, yes, before my brother got interested, but my brother, he was all white leghorns, and well over a hundred.

    Bennett: And your grandfather, would he have had the white leghorns as well?

    Montgomery: No.

    Bennett: What did he have?

    Montgomery: Mixture.

    Bennett: A mixture. And did they run loose?

    Montgomery: Well, no, they were fenced in. Now the guineas, of course, they would take off when they were ready to nest. They'd go way beyond the Columbia Gas building and lay an egg a day. And after they all hatched, come streaming home with about fifteen little ones behind her.

    Bennett: Isn't it funny.

    Montgomery: They were good eating, dark meat, they're very tasty.

    Bennett: I've never tasted it - guinea hen, is that right, is it more like duck?

    Montgomery: U-huh, they're a little smaller.

    Woman: They're more like a Cornish Hen, wouldn't you say, Bill? Small.

    Montgomery: Mmm, a little bigger, a little bigger.

    Woman: Small

    Bennett: Oh, smaller, okay. They're gray, aren't they?

    Woman: I think they are.

    Bennett: I can picture a gray, fat, speckled sort of, but I've never tasted it. And you said you had turkeys?

    Montgomery: Yes.

    Bennett: Were they in the shed?

    Montgomery: Yes.

    Woman: He had them, his grandfather never had them. He had them with a man down the road, they went in the turkey business.

    Montgomery: And I hated to kill them.

    Bennett: Well, I think this would be my problem. That would be my problem, with any of those kind of things I think. Did you have ducks?

    Montgomery: I don't remember, I don't believe so.

    Bennett: How about cows, did you have cows?Montgomery: No, we didn't have the space.

    Bennett: Goats?

    Montgomery: No.

    Bennett: Pigs?

    Montgomery: No.

    Bennett: I like pigs. I think they’ re so ugly, they’ re cute. Rabbits?

    Montgomery: We had tame rabbits.

    Bennett: How many, about?

    Montgomery: Maybe four.

    Bennett: Back in the same shed?

    Montgomery: Uh-huh.

    Bennett: Did you ever eat them?

    Montgomery: No.

    Bennett: A lot of people say that they’ re very good eating.

    Woman: Well if somebody served it to me and told me what it— you know— if they didn’ t tell me what it was, maybe I could eat it, but if they told me it was a rabbit, that would be— that’ s all I would hear.

    Bennett: My dad used to go hunting, gunning, and he’ d pride himself if he shot it so that it didn’ t, you know, harm the body, the buckshot and so forth, and everybody would eat it, but not me, I could just see those animals. I wouldn’ t even try. Did you go hunting or fishing?

    Montgomery: No, I always said fishing was for old men, now I’ m old and I’ m still not interested in it. They don’ t bother me, I’ m not gonna bother them. I don’ t hear anybody— our youngest son goes, but we don’ t get no fish from them.

    Woman: Never catches anything.

    Bennett: Isn’ t it funny how…

    Montgomery: And he’ s down at Rock Hall, Maryland, where those places…
  • Birthday celebrations; Funeral and death traditions; Shutters and window coverings; Heating homes and oil bills; Stoves and cooking
    Keywords: Birthdays; Coal; Cooking; Curtains; Death; Funerals; Green Hill Presbyterian Church (Wilmington, Del.); Kerosene; Saint Joseph on the Brandywine Roman Catholic Church (Wilmington, Del.); Shutters; Stoves; Wakes; Windows; Wood
    Transcript: Bennett: Oh yeah, well I would think that’ s good fishing down there, isn’ t it? How about birthdays when you were growing up, you and your brother was it made as a special occasion?

    Montgomery: No really, only my Grandmother and Grandfather when they got— we had maybe thirty people there, their friends.

    Bennett: A big party for them.

    Montgomery: Buy ice cream by the— all iced down.

    Bennett: Gallon?

    Montgomery: No, bigger than a gallon.

    Bennett: Oh, those bigger—

    Woman: March 18th was her birthday and they always had good weather that they could sit out there and eat their ice cream.

    Montgomery: And their anniversary—

    Woman: How many years were they married – in the seventies, wasn’ t it?

    Montgomery: No, sixties.

    Woman: Sixties— it was quite a long time.

    Bennett: That’ s good genes, isn’ t it, both of them, that’ s a long time. But when you were growing up, did they make much of a birthday for you, was it a party or just…

    Montgomery: No, not really.

    Bennett: Did you get presents?

    Montgomery: Oh, yeah.

    Bennett: Can you think of some special present you might have gotten?

    Montgomery: No.

    Woman: They might have a dinner, like a special dinner or something for their birthdays.

    Bennett: Your special— your favorite food.

    Woman: Yeah, something like that.

    Bennett: No cake, particularly?

    Montgomery: I probably had cake.

    Bennett: Let’ s talk about wakes, funerals, and death.

    Woman: Oh, God.

    Montgomery: Good-bye.

    Bennett: Get them all in a line here, that’ s what I’ m reading. What I really, you know – way back, do you remember any particular traditions that were followed by the people in the neighborhood or from your church? Do you remember, let’ s say. Did the minister or priest come to the house when a person died? The viewings were probably— the wakes were in the house?

    Woman: They always had a crepe on the door.

    Montgomery: Always laid out in the house and had crepe on the door. Now we didn’ t have wakes like the Catholics, they had sometimes set the corpse up.

    Bennett: Dougherty got— they had to change Dougherty’ s clothes— fat Dougherty’ s clothes. The friends fed him so much whiskey— in the casket— that the man had to come and change his clothes.

    Woman: and I don’ t approve of what the Catholics do today. I mean they have a big party afterwards, and they drink for three and four days.

    Bennett: They do— still?

    Woman: Some of them, some of them.

    Bennett: The old traditions, I guess.

    Woman: I don’ t know, I don’ t think it’ s right.

    Bennett: Well, describe what would happen in your family or your church. Could you describe that, if someone died? What do you remember, let’ s say, death— the body was in the house?

    Montgomery: Yeah.

    Bennett: Alright, and then what would happen?

    Woman: They’ d have a viewing at the house here, and then they’ d take the body up to the church and have the service in the church.

    Bennett: How would it get up there?

    Woman: The undertaker.

    Bennett: Do you remember— was it a wagon and horses?

    Montgomery: No.

    Bennett: You don’ t remember back when it was the horse and wagon?

    Montgomery: No, not for any in my family.

    Bennett: No, I mean even if you just remember a neighbor or someone.

    Montgomery: No. All I remember -- the man I told you about sending me back for the extra penny -- they come up the lane going to St. Joseph's, we hung on the back with our sleds and got a free ride up the hill.

    Bennett: Now, do you remember if that was horse and wagon?

    Montgomery: No, that was a car.

    Bennett: That was a car, okay. I've seen a picture of one procession and it was like a glassed-in coach and the horse had a plume on the front, he was all decked out very fancy. That was in the area, but I don't know, maybe, what year - maybe 1910, perhaps, it could have been.

    Montgomery: Now the aunt got killed -- I told you -- you read the article, getting killed by a stone, that was carriages. You read that -- you read the prices of the coaches, the way it was worded.

    Bennett: Okay, yes, that's right, and the cost, yes.

    Montgomery: Now an older man, he's deceased now, he was at a viewing once and he said -- that was the beginning of the craze of the miniskirts -- he said when he dies he wanted a glass side so he could roll over and look at the girls go by.

    Bennett: Men will always be men, won't they. Do you remember any traditions that have carried on until today? That maybe your grandparents would have followed, or from their parents, when it came to death?

    Montgomery: I don't follow you.

    Bennett: Well, you know how some people have certain things that they do, like I know the Jewish people, for instance, always cover the mirrors, you know, that's a tradition. I just didn't know whether your family might have some kind of a tradition. That's the only thing that can come to my mind at the moment.

    Montgomery: No.

    Bennett: Did you have windowshades in this house, and shutters?

    Woman: Yes.

    Montgomery: Shutters completely all over the house.

    Woman: And they would close them at night.

    Bennett: You would close the shutters at night?

    Woman: They would, I wouldn’ t.

    Montgomery: And while I was away, a lot of them deteriorated while I was in the Service, so when I come back, I just saved two, four, six, eight for the front, the best ones, and disposed of the rest.

    Bennett: Did they close the shades— the shutters in the summer and winter or just the winter?

    Woman: I think summer nights they did too, didn’ t they, Bill?

    Montgomery: Yes, especially storms.

    Woman: Yes, especially storm.

    Bennett: Did they keep the windows open a lot during the day?

    Montgomery: Oh yeah.

    Bennett: For instance, a lot of Italian people keep the curtains drawn and the shades down to keep the house cool— I guess that’ s what that is.

    Montgomery: Our neighbors over here, their front door is never open. You’ ve seen her out in a bikini.

    Bennett: Yeah, yeah— did you see the smile on his face?

    Montgomery: you know what happened? The storm door caught when you and I went out, and I had to go over and borrow a knife off her to try and unlatch the back door. And I couldn’ t do it, so I got the hammer and screwdriver out of the trunk of the car and had to take the hinges off. Just the pins out of it.

    Bennett: Oh boy, took you a while to get in.

    Montgomery: Oh, I had two trips over there.

    Bennett: It was worth it, wasn’ t it?

    Montgomery: Now you said that.

    Bennett: How about lighting— street lights— do you remember street lights, like the gas lights.

    Montgomery: Oh yeah.

    Bennett: When did they come in, do you know?

    Montgomery: No, I don’ t remember. They really never had them on the lane, some of these have, in their front yards, they put them there their self. Course come the gas, got them all up here, and them people over there, they were complaining, they were shining down too much. But those trees have grown up, they like to complain about the least little thing. Some of the neighbors, now some are alright.

    Woman: The thing that we, this lane at night is very, very dark.

    Bennett: I would imagine, yeah.

    Woman: Very dark, unless they put their outside lights on.

    Montgomery: I was coming home from visiting her on the other side of the creek one night and got just at the brow of the hill there, and it was pitch dark, I felt something in my back, like that. I thought uh-oh, I’ m being held up. Here it was just a dog that come up in back of me and had jumped on me.

    Bennett: Oh, I’ ll bet you were scared there for a minute, weren’ t you? The floors in your house, were they brick or stone?

    Montgomery: They were always wood.

    Bennett: Wood floors. How about the basement floor?

    Montgomery: It’ s cement. They’ re the original floors, all the doors and doorways— upstairs is a darker stain and it has never been stained or nothing done to them in 72 years, that’ s how…

    Woman: That’ s how good they did them, back then.

    Bennett: Isn’ t that neat, really is. And you took good care of them, everybody took good care.

    Woman: Oh, yes.

    Bennett: Which makes a difference also, I think.

    Woman: Oh yes, I can’ t see getting in a house and wrecking it.

    Bennett: Yes, it’ s a shame, but some people do.

    Woman: Yeah, but some people do. But houses today, they aren’ t built like the ones years ago.

    Bennett: Oh no, you’ re right.

    Montgomery: The wood is green.

    Bennett: Yeah, and they just slap it together. One thing I do think is better is the way they’ re wrapping the houses with that insulation before they put the exterior. Because mine’ s brick and cinderblock and oh boy, do I spend a lot of money on oil.

    Montgomery: So do we, this is a hard house to heat.

    Woman: It’ s a nice, cool house in summer, and a cold house in winter.

    Montgomery: We only have – we paid to have insulation blown in the attic, but none of the walls are insulated.

    Bennett: Yes, that’ s my situation.

    Montgomery: And this kitchen is the coldest room in the house because I told you there’ s five windows, four windows and five doors.

    Bennett: Your kitchen stove— would you describe it for me please, for the tape recorder. The original , the one way back. I’ m sure you have a different one now. Your grandmother, the stove that she used, was it wood burning, coal burning, or was it…

    Montgomery: You could use either in it.

    Woman: Combination.

    Montgomery: The one out in the outside shed, but the one in the inside shed also heated the water. You got water lines run near, practically on top of the coal and that furnished the hot water. Of course, now, we’ ve got it in the basement hooked up with the heater.

    Bennett: When would you say they would start using the summer stove, the one in the shed? Would that be used all summer long when it got hot, ot was it used more for preserving and that type of thing? When would they use it?

    Montgomery: In the spring of the year.

    Bennett: Did you ever use— have a gas stove or kerosene stove?

    Montgomery: No.

    Woman: Not in those days, way back, we have a gas stove now.

    Montgomery: Gas wasn't put down the lane, I don't know what year it was, but I can remember them digging out there. A couple boys went to Alexis I. and they worked for the gas company during the summer and they worked their way through college.

    Bennett: Good way to do it, isn't it? So you think, then really come springtime, they used the outdoor shed up through til the fall?

    Woman: Oh yeah. I can remember his aunt - what did she use to clean the inside kitchen stove, black paint or, wasn't paint?

    Montgomery: Stove black.

    Woman: Stove black. Cleaning that stove all up for the summer and then using the other one out in the shed to cook on.

    Bennett: Okay. Would she have to stove black that more than once during the summer, or --

    Woman: I don't think so, just like once.

    Bennett: Did you have - you must have had tools for the stove -- a wood box and the scuttle and so forth -- did you have those things right close by?,

    Montgomery: I have an old stove bucket. We use it for magazines, It’ s in the hallway, but it...

    Bennett: Was that used here for the...

    Montgomery: No, I got that in - an old man tore a shed down up, by the church, and it was laying there, and I brought it home and painted it all up.

    Bennett: Where was - was it right next to the stove when it was in here?

    Montgomery: Yes.

    Bennett: Where did you keep the wood?

    Woman: Probably out in the shed.

    Bennett: I would imagine. Did you have a stove in a parlor?

    Montgomery: Little, round kerosene, did you ever see them? No rounder than that, about that tall.

    Bennett: So that's about what - two and a half feet tall, and how big around?

    Montgomery: About ten or twelve inches. It had a wick and kerosene.

    Bennett: And it would be put on the floor?

    Montgomery: Oh yes.

    Bennett: And it wasn't vented, it just - sort of like the kerosene ones today...

    Montgomery: I think they advised you to put a pan of water on top of it.

    Bennett: So it wouldn't be dry. So there really was no other stove in the house? How about the bedrooms, did you have any upstairs?

    Montgomery: No.
  • Montgomery describes his own wedding and wedding and reception traditions of his time; Floor coverings; Preparing food; Tea, coffee, lemonade, and other drinks
    Keywords: Cocoa mats; Coffee; Cream; Green Hill Presbyterian Church (Wilmington, Del.); Ice; Ice boxes; Lemonade; Milk; Rag rugs; Receptions; Shivaree; Tea; Weddings; Well water
    Transcript: Bennett: Now let's go to the weddings. Do you remember any weddings in the neighborhood?

    Montgomery: My own, my own.

    Bennett: Alright. Now he's smiling, isn't that nice?

    Montgomery: Now you want to hear about my own?

    Bennett: Sure, I do.

    Montgomery: I was only home about, only had a twelve hour pass. Run up and got married and they...

    Woman: We had a reception here.

    Montgomery: Had a little reception here, and we got in bed, somebody snuck up and found a lot of golf balls in one of the drawers and put them all under the sheets. So it was - you've heard of water beds, that was.

    Woman: Then we went to church the next morning and then he had to leave again.

    Bennett: That fast.

    Woman: We were married during the war, but we went together for so many years.

    Bennett: That's funny, the golf balls.

    Montgomery: Long candle -- burned at both ends.

    Bennett: Oh, I think that's funny. So you had no honeymoon?

    Woman: No.

    Bennett: The reception was here - just family or...

    Woman: Well, there were friends.

    Bennett: Was it - do you remember sort of what was served?

    Montgomery: We had a full-course dinner.

    Bennett: Was it in the summer?

    Woman: Yeah, it was in August.

    Bennett: Then you could be outside as well, it would make it a lot -- did you observe any family traditions at the wedding?

    Montgomery: No. Flo's sister and brother-in-law stood for us and the preacher was the only one there. My Father tried to make it out...

    Woman: We really didn't know the time.

    Montgomery: I only got home four o'clock or something, got married at four-thirty I guess. Preacher wouldn't take no money, he said, "Not from a serviceman."

    Bennett: Well, how about that, that was nice. Shivarees – now do you remember Shivarees in the neighborhood? I think a shivaree is like -- it seems to me the married couple -- there would be people outside that would yell and tease and make a lot of noise on the wedding night?

    Montgomery: No.

    Woman: No, I never heard tell of that.

    Bennett: I think it's Polish, that's one of their traditions, and, the other word, I've got pranks, I know what the prank is, the golf balls. How about hornings, do you know what that is?

    Woman: I don't know that either.

    Bennett: How about other weddings, do you remember any other weddings in the - your friends, or friends of your grandparents or your aunt? Any weddings?

    Montgomery: No - cousins.

    Bennett: Well, do you remember their weddings?

    Montgomery: Some of them. Some of them got married while I was in the service.

    Woman: They were mostly married in Greenhill, and their receptions were at their home.

    Bennett: It was typical then, you would say, to have the reception at home?

    Woman: Uh-huh.

    Bennett: Mostly family and a few close friends.

    Woman: And close friends, uh-huh. In those days they didn't have much money, you know, you never heard of these great big halls that you can rent.

    Bennett: You rent them, now, for showers.

    Woman: I know. And the shower gifts are like wedding gifts they say.

    Bennett: They're worse that -- or more that -- it's ridiculous.

    Woman: Just like a baby shower. You don't give a dozen diapers today, you give a crib or-a playpen.

    Bennett: That's right. Did you have doormats in those days at your front door and back door?

    Montgomery: Pardon?

    Bennett: A doormat?

    Montgomery: Oh yeah.

    Bennett: What were they made from?

    Woman: Straw or something. What is that stuff, that brown...

    Bennett: Like creeks (sp) rugs?

    Woman: I forget the name of them.

    Bennett: So do I, I've got one.

    Montgomery: Oh my aunt and Grandmother made a lot of rag rugs.

    Woman: They were throughout the house a lot, but outside it was coco -- no...

    Bennett: Cocoa mat, you're right, that's what it was called. Did they have those in those days?

    Woman: Yeah, for the outside.

    Bennett: Yeah, okay, and then the round ones - they were all over the house on the inside?

    Woman: Yes, the bedrooms.

    Bennett: Yes, a lot of people have those. Did you have a foot scraper?

    Woman: Yes, we've got one out there.

    Montgomery: Right out there.

    Woman: An old time one.

    Bennett: Is that the original one?

    Montgomery: Yes, I don't even know where it come from.

    Woman: It's been there for many days.

    Bennett: Did you have one at the back door and at the front door, or just the back door here?

    Woman: Just the back door.

    Montgomery: The back door was used mostly.Bennett: I think that's typical.

    Woman: Very seldom did they come in the front door.

    Montgomery: You can’ t do it today. Got to lock everything up, just like I locked myself out last time you were here.

    Bennett: I'm sorry.

    Montgomery: I don't know who hit it, maybe I hit it.

    Bennett: You know what, I think he did it on purpose.

    Woman: I think he did too. She had him all upset.

    Montogmery: What -- from the bikini?

    Bennett: Yeah.

    Montgomery: And you know, she's no chicken. She's got a boy, 25.

    Woman: And a boy 22. She was born the day we were married and that'll be 46 years on August 29th.

    Montgomery: She married a man 19 years her senior. He still til this day -- he'll drop dead over there. He don’ t start until eight -- he leaves twenty minutes of seven.

    Woman: Some mornings it's six-thirty now I hear him.

    Montgomery: To beat the traffic, and he's the last one to leave.

    Woman: Comes home about five-thirty at night.

    Bennett: A lot of people are like workaholics.

    Montgomery: He's a chemist.

    Bennett: What - does he just go over here?

    Montgomery: Yeah.

    Bennett: There are people that are, you know...

    Woman: Well she sits up all night and sleeps all day. So maybe he's glad to get out of the house, that's what I figured.

    Bennett: Doesn't sound like much of a relationship, does it?

    Woman: No - and she smokes, drinks beer. 'She won't come out of that house unless she has a cigarette dangling out of her mouth and a bottle of beer in her hand.

    Bennett: Well, she's kinda looked good at a distance, I thought.

    Woman: She don't do no housework.

    Bennett: She doesn't?

    Woman: He does it all, everything. Now she might clear the table at midnight, they eat by candlelight every night, and don't ask me what they eat, cause I couldn't tell you.

    Montgomery: Look, I don't think that...

    Woman: Is that still on?

    Bennett: Yes. But they don't know who you're talking about. The gal that's gonna type it, she's gonna wonder about this. Muddy boots and shoes, where were they put -- were they -- sorry, I'll have to hear the rest of that later. Were they put here in the kitchen?

    Woman: Out in the shed.

    Bennett: In the shed, they would go in the outside shed. Did you have something to dry them with - the muddy boots, or wet boots?

    Woman: Well they would lay out there until they kinda dried, then we'd take them down the basement. And to this day, my boys, if they come in with wet, they take them off on the front porch if they're coming in that way, and carry them in and put them down the cellar. They don't come through the house with muddy shoes.

    Bennett: Mine stayed on the porch. How about gloves and mittens, what did you do after you were sledding? And you came home with wet mittens, did they go in the shed?

    Woman: No, they'd be hung around the stove in the kitchen.

    Bennett: To dry?

    Wife: Uh-huh.

    Bennett: Did you have a coffee grinder?

    Montgomery: I think so. Meat grinder. I told you one son took it, I think they've got their eye on the cherry seeder.

    Bennett: How about coffee, how did you store your coffee and your tea?

    Montgomery: I've never drank coffee in my life.

    Bennett: You've missed something. You don't like it?

    Montgomery: And it was rough in the Army, that's all they throwed at you.

    Bennett: Did you drink tea?

    Montgomery: Couldn't get it.

    Woman: He drinks tea, yes.

    Bennett: Couldn't get it then, could you?

    Montgomery: No -war.

    Bennett: I like coffee, do you drink coffee?

    Woman: I love coffee. I like perked coffee, but I don't make it for myself, I make the instant.

    Bennett: Well, I perk it.

    Woman: If I go out, well I get a cup of coffee, good coffee.

    Montgomery: On me.

    Bennett: Beg pardon?

    Montgomery: On me.

    Bennett: Do you remember how they stored coffee and the tea? Your grandmother, was it stored in a can?

    Montgomery: Yes.

    Bennett: And then did they grind their own beans?

    Montgomery: I don't think so.

    Bennett: How about - did you drink tea?

    Montgomery: Yes.

    Bennett: Hot and cold - iced tea?

    Montgomery: Yes.

    Bennett: Did you have lemonade?

    Montgomery: Yes - muddy water.

    Bennett: Muddy water. When you had iced tea, how icy was it? Did you have ice in it, because ice was not, you know, that available in those days?

    Montgomery: We had ice delivered - we had a wooden ice box here, and we had a hole in the floor for the melting ice to run right in through.

    Woman: And the ice was delivered.

    Montgomery: And the milk sitting many a times right - when it was cool, on the windowsill.

    Woman: And the cream would be up over the cap of the bottle.

    Bennett: Knock the top off, I remember that.

    Montgomery: Can’ t find no cream on them now. I don't care for milk now - skim milk.

    Bennett: Well, it's supposed to be a lot better for you, so I guess we are better off in some ways. But the iced lemonade, were you allowed to chip ice off of the block and put it in your lemonade?

    Montgomery: Yeah.

    Bennett: There was one lady I spoke with - they had well water, or spring water, and it was so cold that she didn't need the ice, she said it was just perfect for lemonade.

    Montgomery: Well that's what we drank, or I drank all my life until they condemned it. Now did you ever see the scraper that made the hokey-pokey snowballs out of?

    Bennett: We had one.

    Montgomery: Well I was watching a program on T.V. one Saturday afternoon and it showed various museums and antique places around, this was up in the New England states, and they had one of them and nobody knew what it was. They said that if anybody watching knew, to write in. But I didn't bother to write in, I didn't bother writing in, but I knew what it was. I don't know what kind of workers they had at that place, didn't know what it was.

    Bennett: Ours was like aluminum, it seems to me, and when you scraped, it went up into a little ball.

    Montgomery: And they had a lid that flipped.

    Bennett: Lid, yeah, u-huh. I don't know what happened to it. Now see, I had forgotten all about those things. Then you had flavoring that you would put in there. How about soft drinks?

    Montgomery: Well we weren’ t allowed too many of them.

    Woman: They made their own root beer.

    Montgomery: We made a big tub - we'd make a batch of root beer and buy the extract and we had a bottle capper.

    Bennett: Did it ever hit the ceiling when you opened it up?

    Montgomery: Oh yeah.

  • House plants and herbs; World War II black outs; Alfred I. du Pont and his contemporaries; Rainwear
    Keywords: black outs; Du Pont, Alfred I. (Alfred Irenee), 1864-1935; Edison, Thomas A. (1847-1931); Galoshes; Herbs; Mint; Rain slickers; Rubber plants; Sousa, John Philip (1854-1932); Sullivan, John L. (1858-1918); United States Army; World War II (1939-1945)
    Transcript: Bennett: My mother used to make it and every once in a while it went up on the ceiling. Did your grandmother and your aunt have plants indoors, indoor plants?

    Montgomery: I don't think as many as we have today.

    Bennett: You don't remember any particular one?

    Montgomery: No. She used to, Aunt Jenney used to grow her own mint when she preserved jelly, she put a leaf on top of the jelly before she put the lid on, for flavor.

    Bennett: And she grew that inside - was that grown inside?

    Montgomery: No, I don't believe so.

    Bennett: Outdoors. Did she have flowers in the house during the summer? Would they have vases of flowers?

    Woman: Oh yes, she always had flowers on the front porch even.

    Bennett: Now that was a family tradition, then, I would presume, to have flowers on the front porch.

    Woman: Always had flowers on the front porch. A big vase on each side of the steps.

    Montgomery: And we had a couple large rubber plants and they'd be brought in and put in a vase in the wintertime. That was my job, and my job in the spring to bring them out in the yard.

    Bennett: Is your basement light? Light, I'm surprised that a rubber plant would, I'm picturing a dark basement for some reason.

    Montgomery: Yeah, there’ s one, two, three, four, five windows in it.

    Bennett: Okay.

    Montgomery: And it's under the entire lower floor, but the main gets...

    Bennett: So there was enough light to - must have been a big plant.

    Montgomery: Oh they were big pots.

    Bennett: How about - did you have window boxes here?

    Montgomery: Never.

    Bennett: You did have a grape arbor you said, with Concord grapes. How about lawn furniture, did you have lawn furniture, oh, you mentioned the swing.

    Montgomery: The old timers, they didn't make them in those days.

    Woman: They had wicker.

    Montgomery: Whoever invented these made a bundle.

    Woman: They made a fortune.

    Bennett: They're nice.

    Woman: Yeah, they are nice.

    Montgomery: They sit here most of the time, and it wasn't screened in either - swatting flies.

    Woman: They had some wicker furniture on the front porch.

    Bennett: Did they have, like the wooden kind, out on the lawn?

    Montgomery: No. Back in those days, those old timers didn't get much time to sit.

    Bennett: Well, I think this is true. There were times they probably needed, and felt guilty probably that they weren't doing something else. Who took care of the lawn?

    Montgomery: Well, when it was in garden, there wasn't as much to cut, and my Grandfather did around the house here. Of course when I come back from the Army, it was like death.

    Woman: Well you couldn't get anybody to do it.

    Montgomery: And I had to get a sickle to cut it before I could get through with the mower. Took me a couple years to get it back in shape. Yet, just my aunt and I was here then, and I tried to get a deferment. They sent a woman from the Red Cross out, she found out that my Father and two uncles were living, it was up to them to look after their sister. They took me right in, and I wasn't no chicken, I was pushing thirty I guess. And after I'm in, some colonel called me in "Montgomery, you got dependents, you can get out." I said, "Fine time to tell me now, I tried to stay out." But see how they over ruled the Red Cross. So then we got married and Flo got her allotment and then they started sending Aunt Jenny an allotment, retroactive.

    Woman: Well I moved up here and stayed with his aunt at night, cause she was elderly and she was a little afraid. It was awful when they'd have those blackouts. Used to have black pieces of cloth over every window. And we had a bucket-of-stove and we were so afraid they would see that light in the stove. We had them quite often.

    Bennett: Did you have a lot of them?

    Montgomery: They called them brownouts, didn't they?

    Bennett: No, we had blackouts.

    Woman: They were called blackouts I think.

    Bennett: Blackouts.

    Montgomery: Well I wasn't here.

    Woman: No, you were in the service I'm saying.

    Bennett: And it was blackouts.

    Woman: We had black material over all the windows.

    Bennett: I went to New York, oh actually this was my and when you're leaving there, at the trains they're telling you to be careful cause there's no lights in the cars, careful, there's no lights in the cars. Now there wasn't as many cars because there wasn’ t that much gasoline, but still, you had to be careful, and there was no street lights. So it was quite different. Who did -- was there watering of the garden and the lawn and the flowers when you were growing up?

    Montgomery: When we moved here, Mr. du Pont maintained all those cold frames or hot frames, and the sash was still all there, only the glass broke in it after ten years sitting idle, must have been good kids in the neighborhood then, like when I come along. They said he had asparagus bed here, from them beech trees up was all his garden, and he had running water from down home all the way up. And my brothers hooked in and had running water in the chicken houses, so we could use it, outlets for the garden too. Now his was the first home in Delaware to have electric in it, I told you. He got friendly with Tom Edison, helped him hook it up.

    Bennett: So that's how he got it through, Tom Edison?

    Montgomery: Yeah. Oh he was prominent with all the wheels then, John Philip Sousa, because he, himself, Alfred I. played about five or six instruments. And he'd take his hand up to New York and John Philip Sousa was playing up there. And he bent the elbow with John L. Sullivan, great knuckle -- before they used gloves. And he drank -- bent the elbow with him, I guess.

    Bennett: When you went to school, did you have a raincoat and rubbers or galoshes?

    Montgomery: Oh yeah. I think my brother and I were the only two up there with the old yellow slickers. Do you remember them?

    Bennett: Oh yes, uh-huh, we had that too.

    Montgomery: An uncle bought them for us. Gave my aunt money to buy them for us - in Mullins. I remember distinctly going in and buying them. That was on my Mother's side, the florist, he was pretty well fixed.

    Bennett: It was J. Elmer Betty?

    Montgomery: Yes. Of course, as I say, he was pretty well fixed, he worked for what he got, but he had five sons and he practically kept Mt. Salem Church. Anything they needed, why it was given by him.

    Bennett: That's nice.

    Montgomery: And when he became Social Security age, sons told him, "Why don't you go in and get it?" He says, "Oh I don't need it."

    Woman: He didn't want to take it.

    Montgomery: So he took it and he turned it over to the church.

    Woman: But you know there's a lot of people get that today that don't need it. .

    Bennett: That's the truth.

    Montgomery: But there was some other distant cousins in that family and they'd kinda pump me, pump my sons, if we were left anything. And he had five sons, why should I come into anything? He did good with his money when he was living. Now when Aunt Jenny and my Grandmother both broke their hips in the same spot in the kitchen - I come home early one night and come to the store and Aunt Jenny was down in the heater, and she got up and turned around and went down and broke her hip. Well she finally died from that. And Aunt Jenny was standing there ironing and took the wrong step and went down and broke here there too. So when Uncle Elmer found out about it why he come over and he made arrangements to rent a hospital bed for downstairs and brought a big electric fan over, not that one, we gave it back to him, and he handed Flo a good-sized sum of money...

    Woman: And he wanted to get help for me because I had just had a baby, be was two and a half months old, and he wanted me to get outside he to come in and I said, “ No, that wasn’ t necessary.” I could do it in daytime.

    Montgomery: Other than that, we never inherited any money.

    Woman: And then when he would come home from work, he’ d pick her up and put her in a wheelchair and bring her out on the porch here.

    Montgomery: that’ s going to be the same way with our children, they’ re not going to get nothing from us, we’ re giving it to them as they’ re living. They’ re each buying their home.

    Woman: They’ ve all got homes but us.

    Bennett: You know what, you don’ t need it when you’ re older, you need it when you’ re younger. Well you think how – well, you didn’ t buy a house, you had a house, but if you had that mortgage every month – it’ s just like when you bought a car, you know, you had to pay that off every month.

    Montgomery: You see now they want to – you can mortgage a car for ten years— a car would be wore out. And they said what they’ ll charge you, a $10,000 car, you’ ll pay $20,000 in ten years.

    Bennett: Oh I bet you will, that interest, sure.

    Woman: Well Alfred I. was very good to his grandfather, I mean building this house for him, and then letting us stay. Now that was…

    Bennett: Is this – are you the end of the line?

    Woman: Yes.

    Bennett: Do you know what’ s gonna happen, or are they gonna…

    Woman: Well, they don’ t own it now, Copeland owns it. He bought it about five years ago. See, they wanted to put houses…

    Montgomery: Are you taping this?

    Woman: Is that tape still on?

    Bennett: It’ s on, yes. Do you want to forget it for now?

    Montgomery: You finish.

    Woman: Why don't you finish before we get into that.

    Montgomery: Aren't you finished?

    Bennett: Where are we - okay, we were with the rain wear. Did you have galoshes or rubber boots?

    Montgomery: Oh yeah, galoshes - both.

    Bennett: And you always wore them on rainy days and so forth. Do you remember if the other children had them also?

    Montgomery: Yes, I can tell - well no, I can tell you about the - One of Tommy Dunlop's brothers, oh he was a big six-footer, used to be a gas station we hung in up there. And it started lightning and they said, "We got some burlap bags to wrap around your feet to go down the lane." He fell for it, he wore them down so he wouldn't be hit with the lightning. Go ahead, let's get finished.

    Bennett: Well, the next thing is funny stories and jokes, so you've got...