Interview with Mary Perrone, 1984 July 24 [audio]

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  • Her wedding reception and wedding gifts in Squirrel Run; examining the long rolling pin for making pasta that was a wedding gift
    Keywords: china closet; gravy; leather couch; mahogany dressing table; rolling pin; St. Peter's Cathedral (Wilmington, Del.); wedding dress; wedding gifts; wedding reception
    Transcript: Bennett: Here we go - Mrs. Perrone, it's nice to be back with you today.

    Perrone: Yeah, I'm glad to see you.

    Bennett: And we've done a lot of talking already - we better get it down on the tape, don't you think?

    Perrone: Yes, I suppose we better.

    Bennett: I have down here that you were Little Mary with a smiling face and a trying heart — right?

    Perrone: Yes, u— huh.

    Bennett: The last time that I was here there was a few questions that I should have asked you, and I'd like to know one thing — when you talked about your wedding...

    Perrone: Yeah.

    Bennett: You said you were married from your sister's house, is that right?

    Perrone: Yes — no, I was married in St. Peter's Cathedral, but then we came up where my husband boarded in Squirrel Run and had the reception there — over the Ferraro's place.

    Bennett: The reception, all right - would you describe what you wore to your wedding?

    Perrone: Oh yeah, I had a beautiful white gown, all beaded in the front.

    Bennett: Oh boy.

    Perrone: And a veil, and that's it - white satin shoes, and that's what we had, the whole attire.

    Bennett: And did you have a train?

    Perrone: No, no train.

    Bennett: You must have had a matron of honor...

    Perrone: Yes, my sister was the matron of honor - no, my cousin, my husband's cousin was the matron of honor, my brother— in— law was the best man.

    Bennett: And that was the whole wedding party, that many?

    Perrone: Yes, just the bridesmaid and the...

    Bennett: Now, you said you had your reception then at Squirrel Run?

    Perrone: Yes, at Mrs. Ferraro.

    Bennett: At her house?

    Perrone: At her house.

    Bennett: She was your neighbor?

    Perrone: Yes.

    Bennett: Where did she live?

    Perrone: She lived the block away from us, when I first got married, you know we lived — I told you we went up for the ditch — to a honeymoon.

    Bennett: Okay, but I want that on the tape [laughs]. Would you describe how she had the reception or how you arranged the house? Did you move the furniture out to have dancing or...

    Perrone: No, they done all that, I didn't do anything. I don't know what they done with the furniture. They didn't have much furniture in those days, in 1918, you could imagine. But they have raviolis for the whole caboose, and roast, naturally and, you know - different — what you have on a reception.

    Bennett: About how many came?

    Perrone: Oh, I'd say around thirty, thirty-five people — to the dinner, but then later in the night they played the accordion and they danced.

    Bennett: So it went on for a long time?

    Perrone: Oh, until after midnight, I'm sure.

    Bennett: Did they have like the Shivaree, did they have that...

    Perrone: What's that?

    Bennett: I think it's the Polish idea where they throw cans and make a lot of noise.

    Bennett: No, no, no, no

    Perrone: Just had a nice...

    Bennett: Was just a nice - dinner and then they had the reception later, and that was it, you know — played the accordion and danced, and of course they drank and had cakes and cookies and things like that, but that's it.

    Perrone: Did you have a wedding cake like we have today?

    Bennett: No, I don't even remember, I don't think so. I don't know, I'm not sure.

    Perrone: U-huh, okay.

    Bennett: I'm sure we had a cake, but I don't think it was a wedding cake that's like they fix today, you know, they decorate them so pretty.

    Perrone: Yes, that's what I was just wondering.

    Bennett: No.

    Perrone: How about the presents that you got — what kind of...

    Bennett: Well, in those days they didn't give no presents, but I was fortunate enough that I got a mahogany dressing table for the bedroom...

    Perrone: As a gift?

    Bennett: As a gift, but the boys got together. Then another bunch of boys got together and gave me a china closet, because I had the sideboard and a round table, but I didn't have the china closet, so they gave me the china closet. And another few boys got together and got me a leather couch.

    Perrone: You started out very well.

    Bennett: I did, but then other than that — they wouldn't even give you two pillow cases, they gave you one pillow case [laughs].

    Perrone: Well, two heads on one pillow.

    Bennett: But then I did get that rolling pin as a wedding gift.

    Perrone: What kind of a rolling pin?

    Bennett: Emma, show it to the lady.

    Bennett: Well, I mean it's a...

    Perrone: Oh, it's about that big around and about that long and I could make a sheet of dough as big as that thing goes.

    Bennett: I guess that's about - what? Thirty inches would you say?

    Perrone: What — I said about that long.

    Bennett: How long is that?

    Perrone: Well wait 'til my daughter brings it out.

    Bennett: Well, see I want to get the size sort of, on the tape.

    Perrone: That's not like - see

    Daughter: Lift it up. Make macaroni...

    Bennett: Oh my gosh...

    Perrone: When I told you this long, I mean that long [laughs].

    Daughter: 36 - you make a big sheet.

    Bennett: Okay.

    Daughter: That's how they make their...

    Bennett: That's heavy.

    Perrone: Oh yeah, well you need it heavy to roll the dough out.

    Bennett: U-huh, there's no really handles on it.

    Perrone: No, no handles.

    Bennett: I guess that's - 36, that's a yard.

    Perrone: Oh, that's even more than a yard, but anyway...

    Bennett: And it's about what - see for the tape, I need, would you say...

    Perrone: Wait a minute, I'll give you the tape...

    Daughter: Two inches, what better two inches — Mom...

    Perrone: All right, all right, all right.

    Bennett: She knows how far to go...

    Perrone: I'm not going any further than that...

    Perrone: About three inches.

    Bennett: Yes, it's just about 2 and a half to three inches.

    Perrone: Boy they rolled that much dough — that thing there, that rolling pin. See, now we got the machine to make it.

    Bennett: U-huh, u— huh.

    Perrone: No, I like it better made like this — it absorbed the gravy better when you make it like this because it's flat. The machine makes it kinda round like a spaghetti that you buy.

    Bennett: Okay.

    Perrone: This one, instead, is flat. And you could cut 'em small as you want 'em, like tiny noodles for soup, you could cut them a little bit wider to make them with the gravy, you know.

    Bennett: However, yes.

    Perrone: Well, whichever way you want them, you cut them — then we rolled them up — see, you rolled the sheet like this, and then you cut them this way, but if you want to make different design, like I make — you cut them a corner this way and that way and this way and that way...

    Bennett: However...

    Perrone: Oh, and that's delicious when you make it with the gravy.

    Bennett: Now, did someone give you that that — from Squirrel Run?

    Perrone: Yes, Mr. Ruggerio gave me that.

    Bennett: Mr. Ruggerio gave it to you, that's very nice. Do you suppose he made it there at the...

    Perrone: Yeah, he made it himself. He made it in a machine shop I think.

    Bennett: Is that Mrs. - my Mrs. Marigies...

    Perrone: No, that's her sister's brother.

    Bennett: Okay, all right, and his first name was — do you remember?

    Perrone: Charlie.

    Bennett: Charlie Ruggerio.

    Perrone: Wait a minute, his last name wasn't Ruggerio, though, Charlie —

    Daughter: His name was Ghione.

    Perrone: Charlie Ghione, Ghione — his name was Charlie Ghione.

    Bennett: Yes, okay, he...

    Perrone: He made me that as a wedding present, and I guess that's about all the wedding presents I got, I guess, besides couple of pillow cases.

    Bennett: Well, now all right, but when you said they went together, by that, who do you mean?

    Perrone: The people that Eddie worked with in the powder mill, my husband.

    Bennett: I see, they went together...

    Perrone: Yes, see they had a night shift, an afternoon shift, a morning shift, and they were all friends, you know, and the young fellow, even the ones that didn't work there, they lived up there, they boarded up there. They got together, and five or six, because in those days they didn't have much, much money, much of anything.
  • Obtaining linens for her wedding hope chest; her neighbors near her first house in Squirrel Run and location of water ditch, clothesline, and coal bin
    Keywords: clothes props; Clotheslines; coal bin; cotton sheets; hope chest; Kennard's Department Store (Wilmington, Del.); linens; Lippencott's department store (Wilmington, Del.); Neighbors; Outhouses; Squirrel Run (Del. : Village); toilets
    Transcript: Bennett: Now, you didn't — did you ahead of time have, like a hope chest with linens?

    Perrone: Oh, yes, oh, yes.

    Bennett: What did - would you mind telling me what you had in your hope chest?

    Perrone: I had sheets, pillow cases, towels, tablecloths, napkins, nightgowns, all the underwear and everything went in the hope chest.

    Bennett: Did you make these?

    Perrone: No, we bought them.

    Bennett: You bought them.

    Perrone: Yes, I started to work two days after I came from Italy and I quit the day before I got married, so I didn't have much time to make anything, no, we bought them. They used to be a store by the name of Lippencott — I don't know whether if you ever even heard of it.

    Bennett: Down on Market Street.

    Perrone: Way down on Third and Market.

    Bennett: I'm beginning to hear about it, yes.

    Perrone: Because, when my children were small, it was like a Kennard and Pyle — you know, Kennard's. And anything you couldn't find no place else, you went there. But you paid the price. I used to make all the woolen undershirts for them — woolen bands — belly band, you know, and little under — little slips underneath of their little dresses, you know. But we used to have three or four dollars a yard then, but it was wide and you did get a lot of...

    Bennett: A lot out of it.

    Perrone: Yeah, and they lasted, boy they lasted — and I think the bands I made for her, I used them for all three of my other children, except my youngest son, I mean then the others, I think I used them for all of them.

    Bennett: Well it really pays to have quality.

    Perrone: Yeah, yeah, you buy something good, you have it - they say you get what you pay for.

    Bennett: That's right, I think that's very true.

    Perrone: But they used to have a lot of stuff to embroider, linens, and different things.

    Bennett: This is what I wondered, if you did embroidery work...

    Perrone: Yes, we did embroidery, crochet, we did everything - knit.

    Bennett: Now did you - your sheets, were they linen or were they cotton?

    Perrone: No, they were cotton, who could afford linen?

    Bennett: Well, this is what I wondered.

    Perrone: No, no cotton. But I did have a dozen of sheets, though. And a couple of dozen pillow cases and towels, two or three big tablecloths, the smaller one, the bigger one, a banquet tablecloth, you know, in case you need it.

    Bennett: This was all in the hope chest?

    Perrone: In the hope chest, oh yeah.

    Bennett: Did you bring anything with you from Italy, any of those — nothing at all?

    Perrone: Nothing except our clothes. No, we didn't bring anything.

    Bennett: Then you were in that first house in Squirrel Run?

    Perrone: No, I lived in Wilmington with my sister and brother— in— law when I came from Italy.

    Bennett: I see, okay...

    Perrone: Until I got married, and then I went in the first house in Squirrel Run.

    Bennett: In Squirrel Run.

    Perrone: Where the Carolina lived, they lived on the end and underneath they had the store. And the other row, I mean, the same row, but on the corner was the store and then the other houses, they were — let's see, the DiNicholi's, the McGonigal, the, oh what's the name of them — Oliveri lived in one of them, the Ruggerio's lived in one of them houses too only they moved during the flu, after the flu, they moved.

    Bennett: Yes, that's right. I think they lived right next to the store.

    Perrone: Next to the store.

    Bennett: Yes, yes. Now is that where the Primaldi's lived also?

    Perrone: Primaldi - no, they lived on the other side of the creek.

    Bennett: On the other side — your second house?

    Perrone: No, I lived on this side across this little ditch that I'm telling you. There was four houses — there was the Carolina, it was I, it was the Salva and a - DiNoti — they lived — that was one block, four houses. Then there was this space, like, and there was a ditch in between there, then we went across to the other houses. They was a Pesci, the Ferraro, and then they was the Gilena and there was me and then there was the Carey. And then there was another space and up further there was another four houses. They were the Camarano's, Brando, there was a couple more families, but I don't remember their name — oh, yes I do - Emma, Emma what's the name of that girl that married Charlie Bonaficino — what was her maiden name?

    Daughter: Janie Persoleo.

    Perrone: No, not the Persoleo, the one at Squirrel Run, the one that Mary Perrone said they were a good friend of theirs. Oh shoot, I can't think of the name, after a while I'll get it, but...

    Daughter: Old Mary Perrone?

    Perrone: Old Mary, yeah.

    Daughter: Good friend of theirs?

    Perrone: M-huh, then they moved on Sixth Street, and their daughter, one that married that Dayton, and one of them, did I say, died not long ago, that I told you — what was their name?

    Daughter: Yeah, let me think, talk about the...

    Bennett: All right, we can come back to that, can't we?

    Perrone: I know 'em, but now I can't remember.

    Bennett: When I was here before, we talked about your first house. Now I'd like - okay, let me - tell me first about the ditch and what happened in the ditch. You mentioned...

    Perrone: Well, that's all it was, a ditch. It was nothin', there was nothin' — it wasn't made a ditch, it became a ditch by throwing water out the door.

    Bennett: What would they throw out the door?

    Perrone: Oh, wash water, dish water, you name it.

    Bennett: And just out the door?

    Perrone: That's right.

    Bennett: So it wasn't very healthy, was it?

    Perrone: No it was not. It wasn't very sanitary I'll guarantee you. Because there wasn't no cement, it was all dirt, except in front of your door, you had a little patch of cement there. I think it was cement, yeah, I'm pretty near sure.

    Bennett: Did you have a little fence around your house at all? No little fence in the front?

    Perrone: No, there was as much space from our house to the door to the — there was a wall like, wall of dirt, let's say a hill like, where the toilets were up there, and where we had the clothesline. We had to go up and, there used to be a step to go up to them. They was about as much space from that — from here to the door there, that's all. And where the door would be, the space over here, they throwed the water up against that wall there, and that made itself a ditch to go down, down to the road, naturally.

    Bennett: Yes, sure. That's not any more than ten feet really, the whole...

    Perrone: Oh, no, there was no ten feet, no.

    Bennett: Now, when you said, "Up to the toilets and to the clothesline", they were up in this - they were up high...

    Perrone: Up — uphill, that's why I said this wall, but it was just a hill, but it was like a bank, let's put it that way. But no dirt come out of it, it was a bank, but that's it, was there.

    Bennett: So you went up there with your clothes?

    Perrone: Oh, yes.

    Bennett: All right, and how did you hang your clothes up, did you use...

    Perrone: We had the line, we had clothesline.

    Bennett: Did you use a rope or...

    Perrone: Yeah, we had rope.

    Bennett: Did you have clothesprops or something to hold the clothes up?

    Perrone: Oh yeah, yeah, sure, we always had them. Our husband made them, you know, get a long stick, made a hole.

    Bennett: Yes, to hold the - where did you keep those?

    Perrone: On the line.

    Bennett: When they weren't in use, where did you store them?

    Perrone: Up there.

    Bennett: Okay, you kept them...

    Perrone: Hooked to the line, they never came off - you push them back and forth, or you take them out and bring them where you want.

    Bennett: Oh, I see. Did you have any separate sheds?

    Perrone: No, we didn't.

    Bennett: You didn't. Did you have an attached shed?

    Perrone: No, the only thing they had was a coal bin.

    Bennett: A coal bin, and...

    Perrone: Where you keep your coal that's all, in the winter time.

    Bennett: How did you buy the coal?

    Perrone: It was like a big box with a lid that you open and close it.

    Bennett: Did you buy the coal by the bag or did you buy it by the...

    Perrone: Oh, yeah — no we used to buy it by the ton.

    Bennett: By the ton.

    Perrone: We used to be - half a ton at a time, or quarter of a ton, I don't even remember. We used to get it from Shield Brothers — what's the name of that?

    Bennett: Shield's?

    Perrone: Shield, yeah, that's the name of it. See, I forget, my mind isn't so good.

    Bennett: You said it before we did.

    Perrone: I wasn't sure I said it right, though.

    Bennett: Oh, okay. Oh, my, I think you're fabulous.
  • Description of her second house in Squirrel Run and kitchen interior; soap used for washing clothes
    Keywords: accidents; chopping boards; cupboards; curtains; Fels Naphtha soap; Household soap; kitchen table; Neighbors; Octagon soap; oil lamps; porches; Squirrel Run (Del. : Village); washing soda
    Transcript: Bennett: Let's talk about your second house, when you moved.

    Perrone: Next to Mrs. Carey.

    Bennett: Next to Mrs. Carey.

    Perrone: Well, they were four houses in that block, too. Like I said, the Ferraro's, the Ginino's, and me, and then Mrs. Carey, she had the corner house.

    Bennett: And Mrs. Carey is the one that...

    Perrone: That French lady.

    Bennett: That a...

    Perrone: Her daughter got killed by that big branch — but she lived on the other side of the creek, she didn't live on this side. You probably heard of her — the Henry, Henry Carey? She had three or four boys.

    Daughter: I've heard her mention Henry Carey.

    Perrone: Yeah, that old woman was so good to me. She was really an old woman, and I had, naturally, three kids. My son was, well when we move up in Kennett he was three, so he was a couple years old, and she used to bring, she brought a lot of stuff from Christmas trimming from France — oh, my God, you should have seen all the Christmas balls, the fence and the little animals to put under the tree, you'd be surprised the stuff that that...

    Bennett: She would bring them to you?

    Perrone: She gave them to me.

    Bennett: She gave them to you.

    Perrone: Her kids got too big, she had a grandson, but it was only about nine or ten, but she brought them all over to me for the kids.

    Bennett: Isn't that nice?

    Perrone: And I had them until we moved down here, then somehow or other they disappeared. Every time something broke was always one of the better ones, you know, naturally.

    Bennett: Well, I think that's true, that's what happens.

    Perrone: And she never went to Wilmington once, in town I should say, Wilmington, we lived in Wilmington, she never went in town once that she didn't come home with a couple bags of candy or toys for my children.

    Bennett: That's nice.

    Perrone: She was, oh honest to God, I just loved that woman so dearly, I really did.

    Bennett: Would you tell me what happened to her daughter?

    Perrone: She was going in town, and before she crossed the bridge, a big branch fell on her, on her shoulder, and broke her collarbone, or whatever it did — a couple of days later she died.

    Bennett: Branch just fell from the tree - this is at the diamond bridge, you said, sort of...

    Perrone: Yes, at the diamond bridge.

    Bennett: I bet it broke more than - maybe her neck or something?

    Perrone: Gotta be, it had to be.

    Bennett: How old was she when that happened?

    Perrone: Oh, she was a young woman. She had a daughter, I'd say she must have been around ten, twelve, because she used to take her daughter with her all the time, you know. In the summertime especially, she wouldn't leave her home. The husband I didn't know very well, I'd seen him, but her, she was a wonderful person. She was just like her mother.

    Bennett: Would you describe your second house for me?

    Perrone: Well, the first house I told you, it had one — it had the basement, then it had the kitchen, dining room, everything in one, then it had one bedroom and the attic, that's it. The second house, it had two rooms, it had the kitchen and the living room, what you want to call it, dining room...

    Bennett: Separate, two separate rooms.

    Perrone: Separate, yeah, two separate rooms, there was a little hallway and then there was a stairway to go upstairs, there was two bedrooms, and there was an attic, too.

    Bennett: Now, would you describe to me, as best you can, what the kitchen looked like, and like, what you had on the walls, did you have...

    Perrone: The walls, there was nothin' on it.

    Bennett: You had no decorations on the walls?

    Perrone: No, nothin' on the walls.

    Bennett: All right, about how big was the kitchen?

    Perrone: Oh, the kitchen was pretty big, it was about from that fan over to here, square, was a good sized kitchen.

    Bennett: Okay, I'm gonna say — I'm not too good at this, but...

    Perrone: Say about twelve by twelve at least.

    Bennett: Okay, that's good. See, that can't - see - we have to tell it, the size. This is why I'm asking you...

    Perrone: But that was a square kitchen. And the other room was just as big, if not bigger, it was a nice big room, too.

    Bennett: And now, did the door come in at the hallway, or where did you enter into the kitchen or into a hallway?

    Perrone: Into the kitchen, then there was this little hallway to go — because they were the stairs that went upstairs, those winding stairs, and they was just about that much hallway, and a little down further that we used to keep, you know, bottles or something there, and then you go into the other room. And then there was a porch, they had a porch. That one had a porch.

    Bennett: Off of the...

    Perrone: On the front.

    Bennett: Off of the dining room. Now, let's stay in your kitchen a little while. You had a table?

    Perrone: Yeah, and the chairs.

    Bennett: About how many chairs?

    Perrone: Four or six, we never had less than six chairs, and then we had the stove, and there was a cupboard for the dishes, and then we had a bench where we kept the buckets, and the basin and stuff like that.

    Bennett: Now, in the cupboards, could you store your food?

    Perrone: Well, you didn't buy much food in them days to store.

    Bennett: Okay, did you can maybe, I guess...

    Perrone: Yeah, we used to can tomatoes and stuff like that.

    Bennett: And would they stay in there?

    Perrone: No, we put them in the basement.

    Bennett: In the basement.

    Perrone: They made shelves, and we'd put them on the shelf.

    Bennett: And you had no pictures on the wall?

    Perrone: No.

    Bennett: Did you have any curtains?

    Perrone: Oh, yeah, we had curtains.

    Bennett: And shades?

    Perrone: I don't think so.

    Bennett: How about screens?

    Perrone: No, no screens. Yeah, I think we did have shades, those green shades, green shades, yeah.

    Bennett: Did you have a work table?

    Perrone: No, the one table that was used for everything.

    Bennett: You used your dinner table as your work table?

    Perrone: As the work table, that's right. We always had the chopping board and the knife, I told you that, you work on it, when you're done, you take it off, you wipe your table off and that's it, that's clean. We had one of those great big cupboard, I guess the cupboard was about the space of that wall there, from the door to the corner.

    Bennett: I'll bet it was gray?

    Perrone: No, I painted it white, so I don't remember what color it was — no, I don't remember what color was, because my husband working there, I don't know how many months, to scrape the grease off of them, and then we paint them. No, I liked white and my husband liked white. He was partial to white. You see the dirt, but you saw it when it was clean, too.

    Bennett: But you could get it off faster if you didn't let it go so long. Well, you know I think, too, soaps weren't as...

    Perrone: Oh, it was strong, the brown soap, it was good - what you call it — that Octagon and Fels Naphtha — I loved the Fels Naphtha, it had the best smell, clean smell for the clothes. And then we used washing soda, naturally, for the clothes when we boil them in the boiler. The soap and the soda, that way, why washing soda — it made the clothes nice and white, though.

    Bennett: Yes, yes, I think so.

    Perrone: And it disinfect them at the same time.

    Bennett: I would think so — it was tough on the clothes.

    Perrone: I don't think — no, we didn't use that much. It didn't burn the clothes. My clothes lasted and lasted and lasted. We may have put a handful into a boiler of boiling water. If there was a stain, that would take it off, let's put it that way.

    Bennett: Would you - can you think of anything else, like in your kitchen, that you would have had — how about lamps, did you have a...

    Perrone: Oh, naturally, we had lamps, coal oil lamps.

    Bennett: Where — did you have one hanging from the ceiling?

    Perrone: No, we had them on the table.

    Bennett: On the table and on the chest that you had over there, no?

    Perrone: We had one lamp.

    Bennett: Just one lamp. I'd want light in more places.

    Perrone: Yes, so would I, but...

    Bennett: That's what you had. All right, how about...

    Perrone: It was a great big lamp though, it did throw out a lot of light. And for me, well it wasn't so good, because just in Wilmington they had the electric, they had gas, you know, in town. See we used to live between twelve and thirteenth and West, and naturally we had a lot of accommodations, but we didn't have them up in Squirrel Run. They were tenant houses, let's put it that way.
  • Other rooms and interior furnishings of the second Squirrel Run house; coal stove in the kitchen as the house's only source of heat
    Keywords: attic; bedroom furniture; closets; coal stoves; cribs; dining room; Dwellings--Heating and ventilation; heating; hope chest; rocker; sleeping arrangements
    Transcript: Bennett: How about the dining room that you mentioned, what did that have?

    Perrone: The dining room, well we used it as a dining room, a living room, whatever you wanted. I had a round table, I had a buffet, I had the china closet like I told you, but unless we had a dinner, the family just lived in the kitchen, we ate and everything in the kitchen.

    Bennett: Did you have any pictures on the walls in there?

    Perrone: No, no pictures no place.

    Bennett: Did you have curtains in there?

    Perrone: Oh yes, we had curtains in all the rooms, upstairs and all.

    Bennett: Now, how about upstairs — would you describe the bedrooms — what did you have...

    Perrone: The bedroom, we had the regular bedroom set.

    Bennett: What - okay, when you say that — that would be the bed and a bureau...

    Perrone: The bureau and the dressing table and the chest of drawer — we had...

    Bennett: You had it all — now I think I remember you saying you got that when you got married?

    Perrone: The dressing table, it was given to me when we got married, as a wedding gift.

    Bennett: And didn't you have the bed already, didn't you have - you bought the bed I think?

    Perrone: Oh yeah, oh we bought the bed when we lived in the first house, when I got married, sure.

    Bennett: That's what I thought, yes, that's what I mean, I remember that you...

    Perrone: But we still had the same furniture there as we had there.

    Bennett: Yes, I'm sure you did. Now did you have a chest for your husband's clothes, or...

    Perrone: Yes, we had the chest of drawer, we had the bureau, the bed and the dressing table. And then we had a closet that you hung your clothes, your dresses and coats and stuff, in the bedroom.

    Bennett: In the bedroom. Was it a good-sized closet?

    Perrone: Well, it wasn't too big, but it was big enough for us in those days, you didn't have as many clothes.

    Bennett: How about in your kitchen, did you have pegs that you would hang coats on?

    Perrone: Back of the door.

    Bennett: Back of the door, yes.

    Perrone: Those pes that — we have them over here in - we never took them off, see them in the hallway.

    Bennett: I see the pegs, yes. Yes, they have one of those over at the Gibbons House, it makes sense, yes, sure - handy.

    Perrone: Yes, they're handy.

    Bennett: In the — then you really - you didn't have a...

    Perrone: We had chairs, naturally, and a rocker, in the bedroom. Because I remember in the night we used to rock her to sleep all night.

    Bennett: Now the other bedroom that was the children's room?

    Perrone: That was the kids' bedroom, yes. We had the bed and the chair and the little chest for the clothes.

    Bennett: Did you have a crib?

    Perrone: Yes, oh yes, naturally.

    Bennett: But did you have two cribs, I mean...

    Perrone: The crib and the bed, a single bed, because the room wasn't that big, the spare room wasn't that big. We had the crib to put the baby in and she went in her own room when she was three years old. She said "I don't want nobody to sleep with me because I'm not afraid."

    Bennett: A big girl.

    Perrone: A big girl is right. She was always very independent.

    Bennett: I see, okay. I wonder where she gets that?

    Perrone: Not from me [laughs].

    Bennett: Oh, no. Why - now did you have any trunks in that...

    Perrone: Oh yeah, had a trunk with my - with my — hope chest, that was my hope chest, a trunk.

    Bennett: Where did you keep it?

    Perrone: In the bedroom.

    Bennett: In the bedroom.

    Perrone: Oh, I wouldn't leave that anywhere else, naturally.

    Bennett: What was it made of?

    Perrone: It was made of wood I suppose.

    Bennett: Was it carved and fancy?

    Perrone: No, it wasn't carved and fancy, no.

    Bennett: Some of them - now my mother had one, but it was like cedar lined.

    Perrone: No, mine wasn't cedar lined, no.

    Bennett: But it was sort of plain, but it did have a cedar...

    Daughter: Your mother didn't live down there?

    Bennett: No, no, u-huh. Now how about the attic?

    Perrone: Oh, the attic, there was nothin' that we could use. What we didn't use, we put up in the attic. But I didn't have much in the attic in those days because - what did I have - I mean, I was just a young bride and I didn't have any junk to say you want to put up there that you want to get rid of.

    Bennett: Well, I know you had the boarders in the first house. But you didn't have boarders there?

    Perrone: No, not in the second house.

    Bennett: So that was really just used for storage, you would say?

    Perrone: For storage, that's right.

    Bennett: Now was that the same size as the other...

    Perrone: No, it was smaller than the other room - do you mean than the other house?

    Bennett: Yes.

    Perrone: Well, the front bedroom was bigger than the other one, but then we had the other room where the kids slept. That was a little bit smaller, but it did have a closet in their bedroom, though. Well, I didn't have none in mine in the second house.

    Bennett: That's unusual.

    Perrone: That's unusual is right.

    Bennett: How about the attic of that, was that a good-sized attic?

    Perrone: Yeah, the whole house.

    Bennett: The whole...

    Perrone: Which it wasn't very big, because I mean, well, it was a two— room house, so downstairs — four-room house and it take quite a space to make four bedrooms you know, four rooms.

    Bennett: Yes, that's right. Did you have heat up there in the...

    Perrone: We didn't have heat no place. We had a coal stove.

    Bennett: But you didn't have a little stove upstairs or a heater of some sort?

    Perrone: No, nothing, nothing, nothing. No there was an open stairway - whatever heat there was downstairs, it went up in there. The attic we didn't use, and there was enough heat going upstairs. And under - we didn't feel the cold like we do today, I don't know why. We're getting delicate.

    Bennett: I think I've always been delicate [laughs]. Could you block off the attic so that the cold...

    Perrone: Oh, there was a door, yes, a door that you closed the door.
  • Vegetable garden and storing cans and potatoes in the cellar; getting along with her neighbors; not having the opportunity to learn to cook before getting married because she was working in a Morocco shop
    Keywords: basil; Blumenthal's; Canning and preserving; cellars; Child labor; childhood mischief; cooking; Morocco leather; mushroom houses; Neighbors; parsley; vegetable garden
    Transcript: Bennett: Now, did you have a garden at this place?

    Perrone: We had a garden, but you had a walk from here to Fred [Melancca?]'s mushroom houses.

    Bennett: Okay, so that's...

    Daughter: That's way down here, that's way down here this way.

    Bennett: Okay, down that way. So you had to...

    Perrone: We used to go up that hill, like I said, where the toilet was and the — and then we went to the gardens.

    Bennett: So it would be — oh...

    Perrone: Oh, it was quite a bit, say...

    Bennett: Quarter of a mile?

    Perrone: Oh, no, not quarter of a mile, I won't say that.

    Daughter: But you walked two or three blocks.

    Perrone: About two or three blocks every bit of it, sure.

    Daughter: If it's that far, down by the Russian House, that's a couple blocks at least.

    Perrone: Well, I'd say, two or three blocks. To me it looked like it was forever.

    Bennett: Oh, I'm sure. Now, what did you have in that garden?

    Perrone: Everything that we could plant - beans, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, onions - anything that could be planted, we had it. But tomatoes, then we can everything. We just didn't can — we put them in jars, let's put it that way. Well, we call it canning anyway.

    Bennett: Yes, it's canning, yes. Did you — when you canned, did you do it as a community project, or did you just do your own?

    Perrone: We done our own, each one done our own.

    Bennett: Did any people do it as a community project that you know of?

    Perrone: Not that I know of — everybody done their own. They canned what they wanted and when they wanted, when they had it that they were ready to can it. But everybody took pretty good care of what they had in a garden. If you didn't you had to go buy it, so...

    Bennett: Did you grow herbs as well?

    Perrone: No. Well, basil, that's about it — parsley - basil and parsley, that's about the only two herbs that we used.

    Bennett: Did you have a place where you kept the winter vegetables in the garden, that you could use, like a pit that you kept the vegetables...

    Perrone: The potatoes, in the cellar.

    Bennett: You kept those in the cellar? Okay, describe the cellar to me if you can.

    Perrone: I couldn't even tell you because I never went down the cellar — nope.

    Bennett: You kept the potatoes in the cellar...

    Perrone: Yep, and the jars, what you canned.

    Bennett: The canning — so your husband went down and got them, he's the one that — he took them down and he went and got them.

    Perrone: Oh yes, took them down, and he went and got them, yes.

    Daughter: What kind of steps did you have to go down? Why didn't you go down?

    Perrone: I never did went.

    Daughter: The black hole?

    Perrone: Well, maybe I was afraid to go down.

    Bennett: I know - say were you afraid that...

    Perrone: Of the dark.

    Bennett: Of a mouse or something?

    Perrone: Could be — in those days we never closed any doors you know.

    Bennett: You mean to the outside?

    Perrone: The outside doors. Anybody could have gone in and go and hide anywheres.

    Bennett: But nobody was afraid, were they?

    Perrone: No. I know one time we went — one time — we used to go meet my husband every night when he come home from the powder mill, you know, with the kids, dress them up and go to meet him. I remember Eddie — every time he saw a man "Da— da, da-da da". I said, "No, it's not your da— da." And one time we came up and one of our neighbor's kid had gone into my kitchen — I had the table set with the dishes and everything — when I went home I found the tablecloth and my dishes on the floor.

    Bennett: Oh...

    Perrone: I could have screamed.

    Bennett: Oh, oh, all that...

    Perrone: Oh God, I'm telling you - well, the door was open, he went in. It was open, it was ajar, like, you know, you didn't exactly close it and you didn't leave it wide open.

    Bennett: He was probably too young to realize what he was doing.

    Perrone: I suppose so, I don't know.

    Bennett: Did you find out who it was?

    Perrone: Oh, I knew who it was.

    Bennett: You knew it was.

    Perrone: It was my next door neighbor.

    Bennett: He was hungry.

    Perrone: Maybe he was, it could have been.

    Bennett: Oh, that's a shame, that would be quite a shock.

    Perrone: It was, well it's a good thing my supper was on the stove — he didn't go and get that.

    Bennett: Well, that's probably what he wanted to begin with.

    Perrone: Well, he saw the dishes on the table, I guess, and he couldn't reach 'em so he pulled on the tablecloth. Well, it could have happened to one of mine.

    Bennett: It's children, that's all.

    Perrone: That's right, that's right, let's face it, kids are kids. What do they know? Right from wrong, especially two or three— year old kids. He had to be about three years old, because he was Eddie's age, six months older than my boy.

    Daughter: Didn't you always say about how [?]...

    Perrone: Yes, it was spilled my pot of soup. Another time they were playing ball, I said, "Don't play ball in the house, I've got gravy on the stove." No more said than done, the ball was in the gravy. I'm telling you, I was glad when I moved away from there. I loved the neighbors, now don't get me wrong, but you had to put up with a lot of things, the kids did, you know what I mean. Us neighbors, we never had a word, never, never, never. Regardless of what went on - that's one thing I gotta say — never had a word with one of my neighbors, and they never had a word with me - never! If we could help one another we'd do it, but that was it.

    Bennett: Yes, that seems to be the general feeling of the people from there. I think everybody has the same kind of a feeling.

    Perrone: We never went and visit into one another's house. The only house that we went was to Maria Ferraro - that's the lady I'm telling you — she gave us the wedding, you know, the wedding dinner and all. Course my husband paid for it, but we had it from her place. But she was the only one that I knew when I moved up there. Oh, I knew the Carolina, but sure we were friends. In fact, her daughters, every time they went into Wilmington, to town, Mary, do you need anything, what can we bring you home? Which I thought that was very nice, you know. But we didn't go visit one another, the only one I go would be like this lady that I'm talking about, the Ferraro family. I used to hadda go to her to teach me what to do, what to cook.

    Bennett: She's the one that taught you then how to...

    Perrone: How to cook, anything at all, yeah.

    Bennett: That surprises me in one way 'cause usually in those days girls were taught how to cook. How did you get — how did you miss getting taught?

    Perrone: I used to get up five o'clock in the morning to go to work and come home at five, six in the night — how did I cook?

    Bennett: Okay, so there just wasn't time to teach you how to — you started working early, then?

    Perrone: I came from Italy on a Friday and on Monday morning I started to work, and I quit the day before I got married. And that was it, so how could I learn to cook, when I went home, supper was ready. When I went away, I barely got a cup of coffee and left for work — we walked, fifteen, sixteen blocks, and if you were five minutes late, they docked you fifteen, if you were ten minutes late, they docked you half an hour.

    Bennett: Where were you working then?

    Perrone: In the Morocco shop - Blumenthal. I was glad to get a job, I was only fourteen you know, they didn't hire them before sixteen. My sister lied, she told them I was sixteen. When the boss saw me, he said, "You're sixteen, I doubt if you're twelve."

    Bennett: Well, you're so little for one thing.

    Perrone: Yeah, well I was small. And I didn't grow any, now I'm getting smaller. My grandchildren said to me, "Grandmom, when are you gonna grow, you're getting smaller every day." But they love me.

    Bennett: Oh, I'm sure they do.

    Perrone: That's all that matters.

    Bennett: That's right, you're right.
  • The ice box purchased from the former powder yard's cafeteria and custom of giving appliances to others when no longer needed; Mr. Gaino's death in an explosion; water supply and getting a sewing machine during the 1918 flu epidemic
    Keywords: Armistice Day; bottled gas; coal oil stove; ice box; Influenza Epidemic (1918-1919); marble interior; pot-belly stove; rain barrel; sewing machine; water pump
    Transcript: Bennett: When we were discussing the food and so forth, and you told me that you had an ice box that your husband bought from...

    Perrone: Yes - from the place where the restaurant they had up in the powder mill.

    Bennett: At the powder mill. Would you describe it to me?

    Perrone: It was just a plain box, real thick, real heavy, you know with real heavy door, and then like I say, it held as much as a hundred pound of ice in it - a block of a hundred pound.

    Bennett: And how — where did they store the ice?

    Perrone: In a - on the top in the chest.

    Bennett: The lid would lift up.

    Perrone: Up.

    Bennett: And you would put the ice, a hundred pounds...

    Perrone: Yeah, in a chest, and then you close your lid and that was it. And you had a place that you put the dishpan underneath for the water. And every day, or twice a day, depend on the weather, you'd take out the water and dump it out and put it back underneath there again.

    Bennett: Was there more than one door?

    Perrone: No, just the one door, but it had three or four shelves though. And the walls inside were all marble, cracked, but it was marble.

    Bennett: Now, do you know where this is now?

    Perrone: I don't even know what happened to it.

    Bennett: That's what I wanted to know.

    Perrone: No, I don't.

    Bennett: I'm sorry that you don't know what happened to it.

    Perrone: No, I don't know. I don't remember when we bought the refrigerator or what happened to it. I have no idea what we done with it at all. He might have given it to somebody, I don't know, because I know when we put the heater, we gave the stove to Bertel back there, and you know.

    Bennett: Well, like if you buy something new, lots of times they cart away the old one, this is...

    Perrone: No, I don't think they cart it away, no.

    [Cross-talk]

    Perrone: Now, we had a pot— belly stove in here, when we moved here. As soon as we got the heater, boy we got rid of it in a hurry. And the cook stove — we got the gas, who wanted them things, we had coal oil stove for a while until we got the bottled gas, then we got the bottled gas and we got rid of the coal oil stove. But we never sold anything, we gave it to friends that needed it.

    Bennett: Yes, well this is, yes this would fit - and they passed things on.

    Perrone: Yeah, and I know the ice box, they must have given it to somebody. They might have given it to those colored people in the tenant house - who knows.

    Bennett: Well, they would like to have seen that as anything that you might have used when you were there, like you showed me your rolling pin, you know, that type of thing. They're very interested in...

    Perrone: Well, I don't have...

    Daughter: You don't have anything from down there, do you, that I can think of.

    Bennett: Mister — do you know the name Primaldi — do you remember that name?

    Perrone: Primaldi, yeah, I knew their name and I saw, maybe, the name a couple of time, but I think the only one I knew was his sister that lived there, not his wife, it was a sister. Now, he was — no Primaldi was a family man, but his sister, the one that I'm talking about, [DiBonchavonni?], lived there before them, when they moved, Primaldi moved in that house. He had six or seven kids, and they were ornery as hell.

    Daughter: Did [DiBonchavonni?]'s live there?

    Perrone: Her uncle or cousin, the man they called Banana — his brother lived there.

    Bennett: I've heard a story that when Mr. Gaino was killed, that their dog brought home...

    Perrone: The head.

    Bennett: The head — have you heard that story?

    Perrone: I heard it too, then, but I mean that was it, then they just said — couple of days and then everything died down, no more.

    Bennett: Yes, it was so gruesome, really.

    Perrone: Yeah, that's right, yeah.

    Bennett: Do you know Mrs. Perrone, I understand that the head was wrapped in a blanket and put under the...

    Perrone: I don't know, I don't know, I couldn't tell you that, that I don't know. I don't know what they did with the head, I know I heard that...

    Bennett: Yeah, but you seem to think, though, that it was the sister that did this — covered it so the children wouldn't see it, I understand, it was...

    Perrone: I don't know who covered it, who didn't cover it. The only one, it had to be is Ray's daughter, not his sister, because he didn't have a sister up there. He had one daughter and two sons, and those boys were too small to do anything at that time.

    Bennett: Okay, so then it would have had to be...

    Perrone: It had to be a neighbor, had to be somebody else besides...It might have been Charlie [Gayonne?] that wrapped it — he lived next door.

    Bennett: It was a lady.

    Perrone: A lady, could have been Charlie [Gayonne?]'s wife, you know, I don't know, but it had to be...

    Bennett: Yes, yes, this was so the children, you know, it was a gruesome sight for children.

    Perrone: Yeah, that's right.

    Bennett: Now, this - when we discussed this — when he was killed, this is, it would have been your husband that was killed.

    Perrone: It should have been my husband, yeah, he was supposed to go to work that day and then he said, he was ready to go and call my husband and instead he thought of me, of what I told him that I'll never forgive him as long as he lives, as long as I live. And he said he changed his mind and he called Mr. Gaino instead.

    Bennett: It's fate isn't it, when you think of it.

    Perrone: Yeah. I told him, I said, "If you don't have nothing else to offer him," I said, "Fire him — he'll go and look for a job someplace else." I told him. And I needed the money, believe me, with three kids, but no I didn't have three, I only had two at that time, but anyhow, the wages were very small that he got, and we had to pay rent, we bought everything except the water that the Lord sent us free of charge.

    Bennett: The rain water, huh. What did you - did you collect the rain water?

    Perrone: For clothes, yes.

    Bennett: Now, did you use that as a rinse water?

    Perrone: We used it to rinse and to wash them. We filled the tubs, when the tubs were filled, then we put it in the boiler and heat it to wash the clothes, and then the other, you needed to — but mostly we got, we went down at the pump, and pumped.

    Bennett: Yes. I know the other, you described about a football field away I think, where was the pump as opposed to this house — about the same distance?

    Perrone: The same distance, yeah.

    Bennett: Now, when you sewed the clothes for your children, we discussed that, did you have a sewing machine?

    Perrone: My husband bought me a sewing machine — before my daughter was born he bought me the sewing machine. During the flu.

    Bennett: During the flu.

    Perrone: In nineteen - and then he was called in the Army, that's the best part of it - and he said to me, "I went and spent all that money on a sewing machine and now I gotta go in the Army." But then he didn't go, they didn't call him, thank God for that.

    Bennett: U— huh - because of the asthma?

    Perrone: No, they just didn't call him, the war got over in November, see he bought the machine in the summertime and he got notice that he was gonna be called for the Army, you know, but then they never did call him. We had the Armistice Day, November the eleventh of November and that was it. So...

    Bennett: Where did you keep your...

    Perrone: Sewing machine?

    Bennett: Sewing machine?

    Perrone: Downstairs, in the dining room, living room, kitchen — when they bought me the sewing machine I still had just the one room downstairs. It was a kitchen, dining room, and living room [laughs].

    Bennett: Okay, there, but when you moved to the other house...

    Perrone: We put it the other room.

    Bennett: You had it in the dining room?

    Perrone: In the dining room, whatever you want to call it, because I had dining room furniture. I mean, I didn't have nothing else.

    Bennett: And that's where you kept that?

    Perrone: M— huh.
  • Making her children's clothes; the bocce ground at Squirrel Run; firewood practices; never needing to lock the door
    Keywords: bocce; firewood; homemade clothing; porch; robbery; Sewing machines; smocking; wood pile
    Transcript: Bennett: Now, if I remember correctly, you told me that you made your children's clothes.

    Perrone: Oh yeah, made all my children's clothes until they went to school, and then after that I bought them. I was always afraid that they didn't look like the rest of them, you know.

    Bennett: That's what I was going to ask you.

    Perrone: And I was particular that my kids looking nice.

    Bennett: I believe that, yes.

    Perrone: Did I show you that picture with all the [Giusvalli?] on them?

    Bennett: Yes, yes, the big one of the whole group, yes.

    Perrone: Well, then you see, my daughter, how she was dressed. All those ruffles on her dress.

    Bennett: Now, you did all the ruffling?

    Perrone: No, that was given to her, but I could have made the ruffles — but she was already going to school at that time.

    Bennett: Now the dresses that you made, or the clothes that you made for your son, did you use a pattern, or did you just...

    Perrone: Oh yes, we ripped the old ones and we got the pattern from the old ones. We bought 'em - like the good clothes, like a Sunday suit, and then when they weren't good enough to wear for Sunday no more, they wore them around, naturally, so if we wanted a pattern for a pair of pants, we ripped those, opened them up and made the pattern.

    Bennett: You didn't need a paper pattern, you just...

    Perrone: Paper pattern — you got that pattern.

    Bennett: Pretty good — okay, let's say she grew, would you just...

    Perrone: Yeah, well you leave it an inch or two longer and an inch wider and that's it.

    Bennett: And that's it. Did they come out looking pretty good, I mean, did...

    Perrone: Oh yeah, they come out good, they come out nice. If they were too big, you take in the seam, like that. I mean, there's nothing to that.

    Bennett: No, no.

    Perrone: I had learned to smock to make my daughter's dresses so she would look pretty.

    Bennett: I love smocking, I really...

    Perrone: She had a picture taken with a dress all smocked that I made.

    Bennett: Do you know that's coming back in the...

    Perrone: Yes, I know it's coming back.

    Bennett: In a — I think a smocked dress on a little girl...

    Perrone: That looks beautiful.

    Bennett: Is the prettiest that it can be.

    Perrone: And that big sash in the back.

    Bennett: That's right — and the deep hem, you know...

    Perrone: Yeah, the deep hem, yeah, I used to love to dress them up, I really did. I was always - for the kids, nothing was too good for them, not too fancy...

    Bennett: I suspected that the reason she bought the clothes when they went to school — I thought that's what it was and that's why I asked that.

    Perrone: Because homemade clothes are always homemade clothes, I don't care how good you are, to me it seemed like that they could tell they are homemade.

    Bennett: You sound like my mother, yet I don't think you could have told her homemade clothes, but she made beautiful...

    Daughter: I was going to say the same thing.

    Bennett: And my mother would make a dress for herself and she'd never like it.

    Perrone: No, me neither.

    Bennett: Because you made it, that's why.

    Perrone: I had Dr. Samuel, that he used to be our doctor when we lived down there...[tape is switched]...and I was going into town for medicine and he said "I'll take you in in the car and you can come back on the trolley car." And he said, "I love your dress, Mrs. Perrone." I said, "You do, I hate it." [laughs]. He said, "That's so pretty." That's it.

    Bennett: Well, that's it, that's part of it, because you made it, that's right. You didn't have your sewing machine, then on the porch?

    Perrone: No, I had it in the kitchen, kitchen— dining room, whatever you want to call it.

    Bennett: Would you describe your porch to me?

    Perrone: Well, it was just like I said, I mean, an enclosure, and they had three steps to go down, and this here boards around. It wasn't all the way up, built up, you know, like you have it halfway with the board, then you got the windows, no, it was just an open porch.

    Bennett: What did you have on the porch?

    Perrone: The bench and the buckets and the basin and that's it, nothin' else.

    Bennett: Did you sit out there in the evening maybe? No?

    Perrone: You didn't get much air there anyhow. Up against the kitchen, and when the sun set, it was facing us, so you wouldn't get...

    Bennett: No wonder [laughs]. That's a good enough reason, isn't it?

    Perrone: And if we wanted air, we'd come up where they played the balloon, the balloon or the bocce ground, what— ever they — where they played ball or bocce.

    Bennett: The men would go up there and you would go up and watch them?

    Perrone: Yes, the kids — we'd take the kids up — they'd play.

    Bennett: Did the children ever play bocce?

    Perrone: My kids were too small to play.

    Bennett: But did...

    Perrone: No, they were just men, married men. Even if they weren't married, they were olderly men.

    Bennett: And did the women ever play?

    Perrone: Not up there. We played when we moved down here, but not up there.

    Bennett: Not up there.

    Perrone: Up there was a man's game. And how we got started here was Mrs. Carrazo.

    Daughter: The women came into their rights.

    Bennett: [laughs] You're right. So then really you used your porch as a shed?

    Perrone: As a shed, that's right. In the wintertime, we'd gather wood, you put it in there up against the wall there, and then you take it in instead of leaving it outside, you know.

    Bennett: When would you start gathering wood?

    Perrone: Well, we had to have it some all summer long, but we put it in in November, October and November when the weather started to begin to get cold - they tried to have fire in the house, you know.

    Bennett: Where would you get it?

    Perrone: In the woods, we had plenty of wood.

    Bennett: You would just go around and...

    Perrone: And get the dead branches, the dead tree - they were glad to cut them down and make firewood out of them.

    Bennett: And this was all stored on that porch then?

    Perrone: Not all of it, they make pile where they cut it, but then we take it down little by little, as we needed it, you know.

    Bennett: You left it in the pile where it was cut and then bring it...

    Perrone: Sure, oh then there was a little shed underneath of that — on the first house - there was like a little shed that you could have put chicken in there if you want to, but we never did. It was just a dirt thing with a door - it was like a cave, in other words.

    Bennett: Yes, and you would store it.

    Perrone: I never stored anything in there, I never used it.

    Bennett: So then, the men would cut down the trees, leave the wood there, and then when you needed wood, you would go get it.

    Perrone: Go and get it, that's right.

    Bennett: And everybody would just...

    Perrone: Get their own, yeah, they don't bother it. No, everybody cut their own, and have their own pile in front of their own house.

    Bennett: Okay, so maybe your husband and a few other men didn't go out together and cut it?

    Perrone: They went out when they needed it, naturally, when they cut a tree down, there'd have to be more than one, but other than that, I mean, no, everybody cut their own afterwards, you know. Made their own pile, and nobody never touched anything for anybody. And if it was now, they'd rob you blind.

    Bennett: That's the truth, yes.

    Perrone: But in those days, like I said, we never locked any door, we never carry any money with us, not that we had much money to carry, but even if you had five dollars in those days, it was a lot of money. Never take money with us, we always left it in the house, the door wide open. We went in town, we came home, we never had to have the key to open the door. Now if I have three keys, I put 'em.

    Bennett: You almost have to.

    Perrone: Yeah, when we first moved down here, I used to go in town and leave the door open. I wouldn't leave it wide open, I would leave it like it is now, well, it's open, it's not locked. And my husband would be in back of the mushroom house, anybody could've came in, they could've come in, taken the house away if they wanted to, let alone just rob a few things, you know. Never had any trouble. Now I wouldn't even go as far as my garage in the night, I'm scared to death.

    Bennett: I know, it's terrible.

    Perrone: My son told me that ten years, twenty years ago, he said, "Mom, it won't be long before we have to have a gun to go out the door." He said, "You won't be able to go from one house to the other empty handed." Because you go out the door, you think you're safe, you got somebody behind your garage waiting for you to knock you on the head.

    Bennett: That's the truth.

    Perrone: And how - why to us? It's the truth. They rob in the daytime as much as they do at night.

    Bennett: Oh, I know.

    Daughter: I know several people, our friends, that have been robbed, cleaned their freezers in the daytime when they were working...
  • Neighborly environment; Asta Salva's death; local women assisting when the doctor was unavailable; scrubbing the floors and polishing the stove daily
    Keywords: Bon Ami stove polish; childbirth; deaths; embalming; funerals; linoleum rug; neighborhood spirit; pall bearers; spaghetti board; undertaker; wakes
    Transcript: Perrone: No, we were safe up there, we was a nice place - we didn't have beautiful homes, we didn't have beautiful grounds, but the place was nice. We all got along together good, and if we could help one another, we'd help one another. If there was a party, we get together, you know. But other than that, u-huh.

    Bennett: When you say help one another, if someone became seriously ill...

    Perrone: Yeah, yeah, sick - we'd go in and do what we can for them. If you had to sit up with them, you sit up with them.

    Bennett: Now how about if somebody died?

    Perrone: Yeah, we still help one another, we go in and do what we could for them. I mean, the one that died, had died, but you'd help the family out, you know, do what you can. You cook a meal for them, or bring a meal already cooked in for them, or have them over to your house and eat a meal.

    Bennett: How about a wake?

    Perrone: Well, they had it in a house. In those days they had everything in the house.

    Bennett: And the men stayed...

    Perrone: Yeah they stayed all night...

    Bennett: All night long?

    Perrone: All night.

    Bennett: Did the women stay, too?

    Perrone: No, the woman went home and went to bed. The women all had kids - they had to go home with their children.

    Bennett: Let's say if someone died, would you get somebody to stay with your children and you go together with your husband, or did you go separately?

    Perrone: No, we'd go separately. Well, see, we were all so close. I mean, the houses were next to one another. In fifty feet space you had four houses.

    Bennett: Yes, yes. Would you describe a funeral? Can you picture...

    Perrone: You know, I cannot describe a funeral. Next door — two of them died next door, and I couldn't tell you about it, anything about it. The first one I was just home — she was just born, ten days old and I had to cook dinner for them. And I couldn't stand up, I was passing out every half an hour, I was, you know, so sick. And the other one, let's see, was it you, it was you, that we had to take you to the hospital, so you was a young kid - when Asta died, Asta Salva — I don't remember when even — we were there the night before, but I don't remember the funeral at all. I don't know why.

    Bennett: The hearse with the horses, do you remember...

    Perrone: I said I don't remember at all.

    Bennett: You'd just blank it out. Isn't it funny how some things...

    Perrone: Well, they couldn't have came where we were, there wasn't enough of space, they had to have the hearse on the lower end where there was a lot of space, the road, like, the road was wider. The man would take it [crosstalk]. That's why I don't remember, I remember the undertaker that I bawled him out, because they embalmed her in the house, and he went out in front of the door, there was snow this high piled up in front of the doors, and he went out with those tubs, buckets, whatever, threw all that blood, water and stuff on that snow. I went out there, boy I really let him have it. I tell him, "Who you think lives here — pigs or what?"

    Daughter: I think that's why the funeral's blanked, she blanks out.

    Perrone: It was when Asta died.

    Daughter: Well, I've heard you say it, but I don't know...

    Bennett: But also I think she — as you say - they couldn't get..

    Perrone: No, they...

    Bennett: I don't have in my mind how wide a space this is.

    Perrone: No, that was only, like I said, from here to that door. They could never bring a hearse up here.

    Bennett: No, that's right.

    Perrone: So, they used to leave it in the front and then they took it out. That I don't remember at all, I don't remember the pallbearer, I don't remember getting the casket out of the door.

    Bennett: How about births - now were the children born at home?

    Perrone: Yeah, they were all born at home, yeah.

    Bennett: Did you have a midwife?

    Perrone: Doctors — I had doctors, always had doctors.

    Bennett: Do you remember any midwives?

    Perrone: No, not at Squirrel Run.

    Bennett: Not at Squirrel Run.

    Perrone: Well, an orderly person, if they was somebody that was having the child and there was nobody around, no doctor available, she'd do what she could. I know Maria Ferraro brought a few of them in the world, and she was no midwife. But, I mean, in a case like that, orderly woman went in and help out, done what they could in case of an emergency up there. But they always had doctors, I always had — as far as I remember, we always had doctors.

    Bennett: Well, see, that's a little older — whether when like, I know I've heard of [Nana Farren?] - does that...

    Perrone: Probably she lived way down by the...

    Bennett: I think she lived in Walker's Banks, over at Walker's Bank.

    Perrone: By where the mill was — what was the...

    Bennett: Walker's.

    Perrone: No, no, it wasn't Walker's Mill, it was a where they spin, what'd they spin — wool or something?

    Bennett: By Breck's Mill?

    Perrone: Yeah, something — round up there. The Ferrado they used to call them, Ferrados.

    Daughter: Well, that woman, Mrs. Ferraro, wasn't she a seamstress or something. What Mrs. Ferraro — Ferrara — remember that old lady you always talked about, Mary?

    Bennett: There's a Pierre Ferraro.

    Perrone: They was a Ferraro that lived on the other — down below the creek, way down there.

    Bennett: That did sewing?

    Perrone: Yes, that did sewing, yeah, lot of sewing. But I didn't know her, but I heard of her. But the other Ferraro, up here, they were friends of my husband, you know, they came from the same place in Italy, in fact, they were neighbors in Italy. He was boarding with them and that's why they had the dinner and everything over there when we got married.

    Bennett: Oh, I see.

    Perrone: I think those other people were French, yeah, they were French.

    Bennett: I think part French, yes, I understand.

    Perrone: They were French, m-huh.

    Bennett: Did you have like a scraper to scrape your shoes, the mud from your shoes at your door? How did you...

    Perrone: No, you put a piece of rug, or take your shoes off if you didn't want to — in those days they weren't too particular.

    Bennett: Yes, but you had all that scrubbing to do.

    Perrone: I know, every day of the week I went down on my hands and knees and scrub my floor. My floor was as white as my spaghetti board.

    Bennett: I believe it.

    Perrone: Every day before the kids got up, I had my stove polished and my floor scrubbed. And if she happened to be up, she used to go on the bench and sit there and hold her feet like that.

    Bennett: Do you remember that?

    Daughter: No.

    Perrone: And she wouldn't come down until I told her, "Go ahead, the floor's dry, you can come down."

    Bennett: But you had no scraper...

    Perrone: No.

    Bennett: Nothing, or mat outside.

    Perrone: If you want to put a bag - a burlap bag - in the front of the door and wipe your feet on it.

    Bennett: How about, did you ever have a linoleum rug?

    Perrone: Oh yeah - we didn't have it, but they sold it in those days, but I never had one.

    Bennett: But you didn't have one — in either house?

    Perrone: Nope, we had bare floors. And we had four floors to scrub, bare floors.

    Bennett: Did you scrub the first floor of both rooms of your second house every day still?

    Perrone: Oh yes, no, not the bedrooms, once a week, the bedrooms. But the ones downstairs like the kitchen, dining room, where you tramped you know, every day of the week. And the stove had to be polished every morning.

    Bennett: Well, over at Blacksmith Hill, the area - there's a stove over there and I understand now, from what you said, I guess why you blackened it all the time, if you didn't, it would rust, wouldn't it?

    Perrone: It would get red, it would be white like...

    Bennett: Like a rust...

    Perrone: Like a piece of iron that it had been burnt, and then it gets white, and it would look funny. This way, we kept black on it all the time and the stove looks shiny and nice all the time. It had chrome around the handles, and we used to get Bon Ami and polish it with Bon Ami.

    Bennett: What was that black made of, what is that substance?

    Perrone: Oh, don't ask me what it was made of, but it was in a bottle anyway.

    Bennett: Oh, a bottle. Did you put it on with a cloth or a brush?

    Perrone: Yeah, with a cloth, no with a cloth.

    Bennett: Just a little bit of...

    Perrone: And then we polish it later and then it would shine. It's like shoe polish - you get it in a can, you get it in a bottle, you take your choice.

    Bennett: Well, I didn't know how or what you really — but I can see how...

    Perrone: Sure, the burners would be cooked so much, I mean they would be so white...

    Bennett: Like your pots, you know, frying pans, same as the flying pans.

    Perrone: So every morning I used to polish it.

    Bennett: And when you're Mrs. Clean, you want everything shiny.

    Daughter: Well, that's right.
  • Repainting their house and the company cleaning the outhouses; keeping flies off of drying tomatoes and mushrooms; her dislike of creamed foods
    Keywords: baby coach; cesspool; creamed mushrooms; dehydrated foods; flies; fly nets; mushrooms; outhouses; painting; potato salad; tomato paste; tomato sauce
    Transcript: Perrone: Oh, I used to take pride in my home. We only had those rooms, but to me it was a palace. I lived there, me and my husband and my kids.

    Bennett: Well, it was - and it was yours.

    Perrone: It was my home, I paid the rent, it was my home. We painted it every couple of years — put a new coat of paint.

    Bennett: Did the Company supply the paint?

    Perrone: Nope, we bought our own paint. The Company didn't supply us with anything, we had the house and that's it, period. We paid, I think it was $8.00 a month.

    Bennett: For the second house?

    Perrone: And the first one, it wasn't much less than that, maybe six or seven, I don't know, I don't remember, but I know we were paying $8.00 a month and you had to buy everything. We didn't have nothin', I mean, well, we had the four walls, but it was a roof over our head. But anything you wanted done, you done it. If you couldn't do it, you get somebody to do it and you pay 'em.

    Bennett: Now, they did clean out the outhouses, though, didn't they?

    Perrone: Yes, yes, they had the cesspool, they had the man to clean out the cesspool. The man used to come around and clean them once a month, once - I don't know, every so often.

    Daughter: ...the stench...

    Bennett: I know. Did that Mrs. Meriggi, she said she remembers they really didn't have bugs.

    Daughter: Did you have bugs, flies?

    Bennett: Did you have bugs?

    Perrone: We had flies, but that's it.

    Bennett: No other...

    Perrone: Not that I know.

    Bennett: This is — she said there really wasn't bugs and...

    Perrone: Well, she was so young, how could she know what they were?

    Bennett: Well, I think though, she has a good memory, yes, you're right, she was young.

    Perrone: She was only about four or five when she moved from Squirrel Run, she went to Wilmington.

    Bennett: No, no.

    Perrone: She wasn't much older than that, I'll guarantee you.

    Bennett: She was born in 1911 and she moved in '18.

    Perrone: 1918.

    Bennett: Yes, see, so...

    Perrone: Seven years old.

    Bennett: She was nine.

    Perrone: Nine? Eleven, '18, oh, seven. Eleven and seven is 18. I'm sorry to contradict you.

    Bennett: I'm adding it on — you're right. She ought to hear this conversation, Mrs. Meriggi. She'd enjoy this.

    Perrone: No, I know she wasn't very old. Of course, she was the oldest of the kids. Theresa was the youngest. Theresa might have been four or five at the most.

    Bennett: She described how her mother would put the tomatoes out on a board to dry, you know, and how she would turn them.

    Perrone: Yeah, we done that. If you wanted to make tomato paste.

    Bennett: Yes, that's right. And she said, there were no bugs.

    Perrone: No, there wasn't. And then we used to have a net over them anyway, for the flies. You know, we did have flies, now don't tell me there weren't any flies because I know we had flies. But we used to put a net on them, like we used to put in the kids crib or the coach. You put the coach outside for the baby to sleep, you were gonna put a net or the flies, the kids won't sleep, let's put it that way. I always put a net over the coach, and we used to put a net over the table if we dried tomatoes. I never made tomato paste like that, I just made the tomato — tomatoes and whatever I made, I made tomato sauce like, you cook it.

    Bennett: And then you would can it?

    Perrone: Yeah, and put it in the jars, yes. I never made the dried tomato paste - I didn't like it. I didn't like the way it looked when it was spread on that board. They have to go turn it, you know, and let it dry.

    Bennett: Yes, she described it, she would go and turn it all the time, yes.

    Perrone: Yeah, sure that it would dry only on one side, have to dry on both sides. And then they would put it in a jug, in a crock like, a small crock, and they'd get a fistful and dissolve it in water, make tomato paste. This way it wouldn't take up so much space, let's say. Now, the way I made it, it took up a lot of jars because it was more like a tomato sauce, maybe a little bit thicker, but it was tomato sauce. But they made the dry tomato paste. And you know a teaspoon of that is like a can of - a real tomato paste.

    Bennett: How long would you have to leave it out in the sun?

    Perrone: It all depends on the weather. If the weather was dry, or wet, or mucky like it is now, damp, it'll take a week or ten days. If the weather was good, maybe in several, four or five days, I don't know.

    Bennett: Would you bring it in at night to keep it...

    Perrone: Oh yeah, they'd have to bring it in at night.

    Bennett: Bring it in and then put it out, so the different animals...

    Perrone: Put it out — we used to dry mushrooms that way. We used to slice them and dry them and then when they would be — and at night we'd take them in, put them out the next day. But even on the mushrooms, I used to put a net because I didn't want the flies to go on them.

    Bennett: Yes, yes. Really like dehydrated.

    Perrone: That's right.

    Bennett: Same thing as the dehydrated.

    Perrone: But the mushroom would be sliced, they would be so pretty when they dried like that, they dried so pretty and white, you know.

    Daughter: Mushrooms have a lot more flavor like that, too.

    Bennett: Oh, do they when they're dried that way?

    Daughter: Than canned, than canned.

    Perrone: Oh, in a can, they have no flavor at all. They're flat. I don't even want them in a can.

    Bennett: That's right.

    Daughter: But you dry mushrooms like that, they're much more flavorful.

    Perrone: Especially the ones that you find, like in Italy. We used to find them in the woods, but I was afraid, I was a little leery about picking them, because...

    Bennett: Because you don't know which...

    Perrone: That's right, I didn't know too much, but Mrs. Salva, the one I'm telling you her daughter died, the one next door to me, she used to go in the woods, come down with a big bunch, I said, "Are you sure they...", she said, "They're fine." But I used to be afraid to use them, I don't know — but, if we did get a couple, we'd dry them. And then you soak them and then you put them in your gravy when you make spaghetti gravy, you know.

    Bennett: Yes, I love mushrooms. I have them creamed every Thanksgiving.

    Daughter: We have them creamed, but she's not too crazy about them.

    Perrone: I don't want mushroom soup and I don't want - I had it when we went to that - up at the Club up there and eat, I managed to swallow three or four tablespoonful because I had young fellows alongside of me, I didn't want them to think I was an old hag altogether [laughs].

    Bennett: What don't you like, the texture of it?

    Perrone: I just don't like the flavor and I don't like the looks. To me it turns my stomach.

    Daughter: She don't like anything creamed, period.

    Perrone: I don't like much creamed stuff.

    Bennett: But you know, Mrs. Perrone, I didn't either, but my tastes are changing.

    Daughter: She never cared for creamed foods.

    Bennett: I didn't either, but I do like creamed mushrooms.

    Perrone: And my son wouldn't dare to touch anything that's creamed, u— huh.

    Bennett: So he gets it from you.

    Perrone: I don't know, I guess he does. And mayonnaise, he went to a - I don't know, a McDonalds, one of these places he went and get a hamburger, and he tell them to keep the mayonnaise off. They brought it with the mayonnaise, he left it — he paid it and left it. And he was right.

    Bennett: Just something he doesn't like.

    Perrone: He wouldn't dare eat it. He wouldn't eat potato salad, coleslaw, wouldn't eat nothing that contains mayonnaise in it.

    Bennett: He's missing a lot.

    Perrone: Well, mayonnaise isn't really that good, if you want to be honest about it.

    Bennett: Yes, but when you make potato salad, it's good.

    Daughter: You can't make it yourself, right. We had a...

    Perrone: Oh yeah, well I had potato salad for dinner. I had the grandson here and I said how about hot dog and potato salad, and I said, "I got chicken noodle soup." "Oh, that's fine, Grandmom." Okay.

    Bennett: But not — well, I don't know, I think everybody has their own - but I can't believe that I'm liking creamed things, but really, I guess my favorite one is creamed mushrooms.

    Perrone: Creamed mushrooms.

    Bennett: But - and it goes good with turkey, and the dressing.

    Daughter: I always liked...

    Perrone: Well, see, that's another thing I don't like — turkey.

    Bennett: I do.

    Perrone: I don't!

    Bennett: Creamed onions at Christmas and creamed mushrooms at Thanksgiving, this is sort of a...

    Daughter: I like creamed onions.

    Bennett: Yes, it goes with turkey, doesn't it?

    Perrone: If I made that and put it on the table, I'd think I'd have to take 'em off the table just the way I put them. I don't think none of them — maybe Joanie, you and Joanie, Bobby wouldn't touch them — Eddie — forget it.

    Daughter: Just think of your son, Eddie, he's the only one, the others will all taste everything.

    Perrone: Well, they might taste it, but I have my doubts. The kids, what's that, Grandmom?
  • Picking blackberries; disciplining the children and decision making with her husband; using hot bricks to treat her husband's illness; never needing a sweater in cold weather
    Keywords: Blackberries; Corporal punishment of children; delirium; discipline; fever; jelly; sweaters
    Transcript: Bennett: M-huh, m-huh. You mentioned the lady that found the mushrooms in the woods. Would you go in the woods for berries and nuts and those kind...

    Perrone: Oh, for berries, yeah, but not for nuts. What nuts were they there, there wasn't enough, u-huh.

    Bennett: I don't know. What kind of berries would you find?

    Perrone: Blackberries.

    Bennett: Blackberries — would you find enough to can, or would you...

    Perrone: Well, we used to eat them. We never bothered — make a little bit of jelly sometime, you know, blackberry jelly.

    Bennett: Just eat them - no so much jelly. They were plentiful, I guess?

    Perrone: Yeah, but not close to the houses, though. We had to go way up in the woods, way up where the mills were almost, you know, up that way. We used to — one day I think we walked three or four hours and that's when I sprained my foot and I had her to carry. She was about seven or eight months old. And she wouldn't go with nobody else. The lady offered to carry her for me, because we was three or four ladies together.

    Bennett: No, she wanted mommy.

    Perrone: Oh yes, she was a mamma girl — she was more of a daddy girl, though. If he was around — like Mary, little Mary.

    Bennett: Well, I think that's kind of the way most children are.

    Daughter: I would suppose.

    Perrone: Oh, my God, you know we spanked her one time and he went to bed crying himself — Daddy gave you a smack, but he'll never smack you again.

    Bennett: Did he ever?

    Perrone: No, never touched her. My husband never smacked one of the kids. I'm the one that smacked them.

    Bennett: You were the boss.

    Perrone: Well, I was the one that had them twenty— four hours a day, he didn't. He went out in the morning, come home at night.

    Bennett: I think for the most part men are more tender hearted.

    Daughter: [Inaudible]

    Bennett: Don't you think they are?

    Perrone: I think he spanked Bobby a few times, though, my youngest son, and they were fourteen years different between him and his sister, but he spanked him.

    Bennett: Well, by then he was getting used to it [laughs]

    Perrone: But he never spanked her and he never spanked my older son.

    Bennett: Now, when it came to like decisions, when you say that you did the spanking, when it came to a decision about...

    Perrone: We argue [laughs].

    Bennett: You argue — who won?

    Perrone: I did.

    Daughter: She spoke the loudest.

    Perrone: No, but sometimes he get mad at me, said "Why do you hit?" "Because they deserve it, you should hit 'em."

    Daughter: She's not talking about that, she said any decision you had to make.

    Perrone: Well...

    Bennett: Any — about anything, really. Let's say, about the children, but how about if you were gonna buy a new...

    Perrone: Oh, we made it together, the decision we always made it together. If one said "No", the other one wouldn't go ahead and get it.

    Bennett: You would talk about it?

    Perrone: Yeah, and then if we both decided, we'd get it — if not, we wouldn't get it.

    Bennett: But if it came to discipline and the children - it was really your job.

    Perrone: It was my job, yeah.

    Daughter: Her job was the discipline, yes.

    Bennett: Now, how about if they got into trouble in school?

    Perrone: Oh, well, he didn't want to know nothin' about that.

    Bennett: Okay, then it was still...

    Perrone: It was my job, yeah, was still my job. No, we never bothered too much about discipline the kids because when he came in, he didn't see that much of them.

    Bennett: Well, that's true, I think that's with men for the most part.

    Daughter: Well, that's almost true today.

    Perrone: Today I think the children see more of the father than the mothers. The mothers are out constantly.

    Bennett: It's a different world, Mrs. Perrone, a very different world.

    Perrone: Yeah, tell me. Tell me about it.

    Bennett: I guess you know it all, you've been through it all haven't you, more than once.

    Daughter: We do have some time.

    Bennett: I just wanted to make sure. Okay, we talked about the bocce...Let's see, I'm looking for something that — I know what I wanted to ask you about was — before we turned on the tape recorder, you described when you husband was ill — on the Fourth of July, and he thought — he was so cold.

    Perrone: No, it wasn't particularly the fourth - it was in July, the month of July.

    Bennett: But I meant - and...

    Perrone: He was so hot from fever, and he was going after snow — he wanted to go on the roof and get some snow.

    Bennett: He was that delirious.

    Daughter: He was delirious.

    Perrone: Yeah.

    Bennett: And then you talked about the brick that you would heat - would you describe how you did that?

    Perrone: We put them in the oven and let 'em get warm — bricks, regular bricks.

    Bennett: Regular bricks.

    Perrone: We put 'em in the oven, they were washed clean, then we put them in the oven — the oven was always hot anyway - and when he come home he couldn't get his breath, he laid down and put those two bricks there. One — when one got cold, we put the other one.

    Daughter: You wrapped them in something.

    Perrone: Well, you wrapped them in a towel, naturally, you didn't put the brick on the chest.

    Bennett: And then, now would you heat it again?

    Perrone: Oh yeah, we'd put 'em back in the oven. We put two at a time, when one was hot we'd put it on his chest, and when that got cool, we'd take the other one out. And we worked it like that.

    Bennett: Did you ever use this as bed warmers, like bricks?

    Perrone: We never used them.

    Bennett: Wrapped in a towel?

    Perrone: They had them, but we never used them. We were never that cold, really I don't think it got that cold in those days. Or maybe we were young, we didn't feel it, I don't know.

    Bennett: I think you were in luck.

    Perrone: You know, I never had a sweater on until I come up to Kennett Square.

    Bennett: Good night!

    Perrone: Honest to God, I'm telling you the God's truth. I used to go out four, five, six o'clock in the morning hang the clothes — never had a sweater on.

    Bennett: Even in the winter?

    Perrone: Never had a sweater on - besides the winter coat, I never had a sweater until I come up in Kennett Square.

    Bennett: So you wore the coat just to church, probably?

    Perrone: Just to church, when you go in town or something.

    Bennett: So you looked like you were cold.

    Perrone: And we never long sleeves neither, were always sleeves like this. And like I told them many times, I never felt the cold, now I'm always cold. I got two sweaters on and still cold, and the heat on [laughs].

    Bennett: Well, I think...

    Perrone: When you get old, your blood thins out, I think.

    Bennett: Yes, that's right. And then when you're young, I do think you don't notice...

    Daughter: That's true.

    Perrone: Not only that, you want to go — you go so fast, now you crawl along.

    Bennett: Yes, that's right. It's quite different than...

    Perrone: Oh, I think so. And it's not to say we didn't get any cold weather, because we did get 'em in those days, too. There was always snow, there was ice, because a lot of times we had to break the ice out of the tubs so we could rinse the clothes. But yet we used that icy water, there was no heat to heat 'em up.

    Daughter: Makes me cold just thinking about it.

    Bennett: Yeah, that's right, well, we could use a little of it today, couldn't we?

    Perrone: Well, see that's why we grew up rough and tough.

    Bennett: You're right.

    Perrone: Well, I started out when I was real young, believe me, I was about eight years old when I used to go to work at five o'clock in the morning to earn my living.

    Bennett: You're still getting up at five o'clock?

    Perrone: Oh, no, five— thirty [laughs].

    Bennett: Well, now, I guess you can have an extra half hour, right?

    Perrone: Oh, I could stay in bed and I got nobody to tell me to get up, but I just can't stay in bed in the morning. I wake up around three, then I look at the clock every half an hour, lookin' at the clock - sometimes it's only ten minutes. And then I get so tired of turning and twisting that I get up.

    Bennett: Yeah, you get - and it makes it a long night when you do that, I think.

    Perrone: Yes, it does. You get more tired when you get up than when you go to bed.
  • Mattress and mattress springs; raising chickens and rabbits; her independent spirit; buying sugar and coffee by the pound; her honeymoon "across the ditch"
    Keywords: chickens; coffee; Diamond Bridge; flour; ice; iced tea; lemonade; mattress springs; mattresses; rabbits; Squirrel Run (Del. : Village); sugar
    Transcript: Bennett: That's right, that's right. It's not — now, your mattress on your bed, was that a regular kind of a mattress that you would - was it a bought mattress and spring?

    Perrone: Yes, was all bought mattress, yes.

    Bennett: And did you have those springs...

    Perrone: We had the springs, yes.

    Bennett: It was exposed?

    Perrone: Yeah, it was exposed. I still got the spring on my bed, but I made a cover for it though. I made a cover for it and then I put a plastic cover on top of the cover. That way, wipe it with the damp cloth, it's clean as a whistle.

    Bennett: Yes, they're nice, the plastic.

    Perrone: The cover I made is just as white now as the day I made it.

    Bennett: Did you — your pillows, how did you get those?

    Perrone: Feathers, feathers. We used to kill chickens all the time, we raised chickens.

    Bennett: You raised them in...

    Perrone: Oh, yeah.

    Bennett: Which house?

    Perrone: The chicken house — they had a little chicken house. I don't know if the mens made them or if they were there, but we had little chicken house and we raised chickens.

    Bennett: Now, were the chickens loose, or did you keep yours in a certain area?

    Perrone: No, no - they were loose. And in the night they knew where to go.

    Bennett: Well, that's what I was going to ask you, how would you know whose chickens they were?

    Perrone: Yep.

    Bennett: And if you went out to get a chicken to kill, how did you know it was yours and not your neighbor's?

    Perrone: No, we knew our own chickens. Well, we really maybe had all one color, let's put it that way. Maybe mine were white, the neighbor's were gray, maybe the other neighbor's were black, some of them Rhode Island, you know, the reddish like. I mean, we all knew our own — the only thing we kept penned up was the rabbits.

    Bennett: Now, then you had rabbits as well?

    Perrone: Yeah, for a while, but then I gave it up. I had enough with the kids and the boarders.

    Bennett: Yeah, I would say so. How about the chickens - like how many would you...

    Perrone: Oh, we never had too many. The most we had, maybe, twenty — twenty-five at the most.

    Bennett: Course you used the eggs, I'm sure.

    Perrone: Oh, sure, the eggs. And if you want to make broth, you go up and you kill a chicken. Only I had to get my neighbor to kill it, I never knew how to break their neck for some reason. Now here they cut their neck or they make a hole and draw the blood. Over there they twist their neck, I don't know, my hands weren't big enough or something. Then one day my husband was sick all night — he said, "Get up and make me some broth." At three or four o'clock in the morning I wasn't going to call my neighbor to come and kill my chicken for me. So I grit my teeth together, I said if she do it, I do it, too — I went yank! I had the chicken on one side, the head on the other, and the woman was at the window watching me. She said, "Mary, you learned how to kill chicken." I said, "Well, when you have to, you have to." [laughs]

    Bennett: From then on did you do it?

    Perrone: Yeah, from then on I done it — after that I done it — I figure if other people could do it, why can't I. I got two hands the same as they have.

    Bennett: But I don't know, that first time around...

    Perrone: Well, I told you, I yanked the neck off altogether.

    Bennett: If there's a will, there's a way.

    Perrone: There's always...

    Daughter: I think that's her philosophy of life.

    Bennett: Well, I think that's true.

    Perrone: And if there's something that I want done, I might not do it as good, but I'm gonna do it, regardless. Even today, if there's something I want done, I'm gonna do it. I ask somebody to do it, if they linger on too long without doing it, then Mary's gonna do it.

    Daughter: No patience.

    Perrone: Is that you, too?

    Bennett: That's me, yes. A couple of — then finally I think, I'll do it myself, get it done.

    Perrone: Sometimes you ask 'em to do a thing, you ask them because it's necessary, you need it, or you wouldn't ask them, am I right? Sometime a day goes by, a week goes by, two weeks - Oh, do you expect to have it done the minute you ask? I said, "If I didn't need it, I wouldn't have asked, so don't bother." I go and do it. It's bad to be that way, but I can't help it.

    Bennett: Well, it's good and it's bad — a little bit of both.

    Perrone: Well, I guess so, I don't know.

    Bennett: I think it's good 'cause it keeps you busy and it keeps you active, not that you wouldn't be anyhow, but I think that's better than these people that sit down and say, "I can't."

    Perrone: I made cement last week.

    Bennett: I need my walk fixed, do you want to come and fix my walk?

    Perrone: Okay. One of the grandchildren this morning come up last night, he said, "Grandmon, that really looks nice, doesn't it?" He helped me, he spread it for me. I spread it the one before, then the second wheelbarrow full, he spread it for me. He said, "see how nice it looks." I said, "it sure does."

    Bennett: Well, good for you. I can't say the same, I'm not gonna do that one.

    Perrone: I like to do things.

    Bennett: Yes, well, I'll try anything once.

    Perrone: That's right, like I said, it might not be as good as a man would do it, but you do you best. When you do you best, you can do no more.

    Bennett: That's right. Let's see how much we have here. I have a little bit more time. Was there anything else that...

    Perrone: I told you when you call, I don't have nothin' else to tell you, I told you everything.

    Bennett: Well, I know we've discussed some things the second time, but I think some of the things you've told me have been really very interesting and, you know, special. I'd like to know - we have ice tea - did you ever have lemonade — did you serve or drink lemonade when you were there?

    Perrone: Oh yeah, oh yeah, lemons were cheap in those days.

    Bennett: Okay, now how about the ice, what did you do about the...

    Perrone: We used to chip it.

    Bennett: Because you had that hundred— pound block of ice?

    Perrone: Yeah, yeah, we chip it. If not, we go to the spring and get the spring water, and that was cold.

    Bennett: Oh, there's a thought, okay, you would use the spring water and the lemon.

    Perrone: That's right, that's right. And sugar was two cents a pound in those days.

    Bennett: How did you buy your sugar?

    Perrone: To the grocery store, we bought it by the pound, by the pound.

    Bennett: By the pound, you didn't buy big...

    Perrone: Oh no, I never even knew they had bags in those days, and they didn't have no bags to put it in, they used to use paper - a square sheet of paper, then they would fold it like this.

    Bennett: Sort of like a little sack?

    Perrone: And then they would go like that — and that's it. Sometimes they'd put a piece of string around it, it depends on who was carrying it. If it was a child, they would tie it. No matter what you bought, they generally — why they weren't using any paper bags in those days.

    Bennett: How about flour?

    Perrone: Well, flour, I never bought much of — I don't know, I don't remember.

    Bennett: You didn't make, you didn't make bread as a...

    Perrone: No, not when I first came up there, no.

    Bennett: But how about for pasta, did you?

    Perrone: I didn't make much pasta neither until I came up in Kennett Square I made the most. But you buy it by the pound, same as you do here, and they wrap it up same as here.

    Bennett: Some people used to buy it by the 50 pound bags.

    Perrone: Oh well, in Italy we used to buy the 100 pound bag.

    Bennett: Yeah, well, but I didn't know...

    Daughter: How about coffee, same thing?

    Perrone: Coffee, the same thing.

    Bennett: By the pound? And it came in - it was loose?

    Perrone: In a can - no the one that was in the can was the ground one, then they had the one that you grind yourself, the beans, the coffee beans.

    Bennett: Did you buy the beans and grind your own?

    Perrone: No, we used to buy the ground.

    Bennett: And tea the same way I suppose?

    Perrone: Yep. Cheese?

    Bennett: Tea.

    Perrone: I never used tea, I don't like tea.

    Bennett: Well, so lemonade — and then did you like ice tea in those days?

    Perrone: No, no, no, no iced tea. I didn't never use tea. They used the tea, not me, I never make myself a cup of tea, a cup of coffee, but not a cup of tea. Or a cup of chocolate, hot chocolate, but I don't want no — In fact I drink a little bit of tea now, if I got company and I have to have tea for them, so naturally I'm not gonna show myself that I'm gonna make something different for me, I'll drink it, but not that I enjoy it.

    Bennett: You're drinking tea with...

    Perrone: Yeah, well I'm getting used to a little bit of ice tea. The kids come in ten times a day, you have to fill their jug. Aunt Emma, make us ice tea, Aunt Emma, no more ice tea, Aunt Emma — Grandmom, where's Aunt Emma?

    Bennett: Well, I want to say that I thoroughly enjoyed speaking with you again today.

    Perrone: I enjoy your company, too.

    Bennett: And I just have a much better picture of over there and I told you that we did get to see Squirrel Run, the area, and it's so overgrown, and I did see the Diamond Bridge...

    Daughter: There's nothing at Squirrel Run at all now.

    Bennett: No, it's all gone and the only thing that's left is that, well the foundation of that Diamond Bridge, and is that where you said your honeymoon — is that where you spent your honeymoon?

    Perrone: No, I spent it across the ditch.

    Bennett: When you went across the ditch on your honeymoon.

    Daughter: She went from the reception to the house...

    Bennett: Across the ditch.

    Perrone: That's right.

    Bennett: I wanted to go over that Diamond Bridge - I liked that, that sounds romantic.

    Perrone: Very romantic [laughs].

    Daughter: She tells the kids that all the time.

    Perrone: Oh, they laugh.

    Bennett: I think they...

    Perrone: "Grandmom, where did you go on the honeymoon?" I said, "Across the ditch." That's the truth, you had to put your legs way over, true enough, to get in it.

    Bennett: It's a wonder that there wasn't a lot more disease.

    Perrone: That's right, that's right.

    Daughter: It's amazing, it's amazing.

    Bennett: Yeah, it really is. So, I'm gonna thank you again.

    Perrone: Oh, you're quite welcome. I'm glad that...