Interview with Adelaide Pesce, 1984 March 27 [audio](part 1)

  • Moving to Squirrel Run from Italy in 1920; an explosion that killed Mrs. Gerosa's son; having parties on a hill near Squirrel Run
    Keywords: accordion; ballone; boccie; Diamond Bridge; explosions; gunpowder; Italian American families; Italian Americans--Social life and customs; piece work; Squirrel Run (Del. : Village)
    Transcript: [Transcriber's or interviewer's note: Mrs. Pesce has a heavy Italian accent and it was difficult to understand her at times. I am sure that I interpreted things incorrectly, but the words slurred together or she lapsed into Italian at times.]

    Pesce: I remember I told you...We would get a trolley car we would go to, Montchanin. With them and Montchanin, we get a trolley car and we go to Wilmington. But the trolley car at Montchanin was come through, the one that was leaving, we was living next to the bridge, what do you call it...

    Johnson: Was that Squirrel Run?

    Pesce: Squirrel Run, yeah we would go direct from Montchanin, we live in Squirrel Run. We have a toilet outside, we have the - what do you call it? We have to get water to the spigot outside, to the pump. We have to go get coal in a little shack. We have to wash the clothes in the because we didn't - that belonged to DuPont. And my husband, he was work for DuPont who make the part to ship to Italy, the thing you put the powder - piece work. We have to, each one, it was get one penny. We have the fence, when he come up he was put his pipe in his mouth. When he go back, it was put the tobacco in his mouth, because he was not able to smoke because he have to - with the machines to make the thing to ship for the war.

    Johnson: Which war was this, do you know?

    Pesce: First War I.

    Johnson: First War I.

    Pesce: Yeah. When I come up this way - first I was in France, when they declare war. I was in Toulon. That night, with the Chinese and the Italian fight. A Chinese, he had a knife this big, he killed a horse, Italian horse that night with the revolu - because the Puerto Rico, they don't like the Italian.

    Johnson: This was in France?

    Pesce: Yeah, Toulon.

    [Daughter-in-law]: This was before she came to this country.

    Johnson: Yes, yes.

    Pesce: 1916, I think fifteen, not sixteen, I think fifteen. When did they declare war? The night they declare war, I was over there.

    Johnson: Could I go back and start now, I'm going to tell who we are on the tape and ask a few questions and you can tell me - I wanted to ask some names and things. Today is Tuesday, March 27, 1984. My name is Dorothy Johnson and I am interviewing Mrs. Joseph Pesce at 503 Irwin Place in Kennett Square. Mrs. Pesce, we're interested in learning what life was like in the small villages which were located near the DuPont Powder Mills on the Brandywine. In order to do this, we are asking people who have lived in these areas to help us complete this questionnaire, so for the tape, could you tell me your name, please?

    Pesce: Adelaide Pesce - P-E-S-C-E.

    Johnson: Thank you, and what was your maiden name?

    Pesce: My...

    Johnson: Maiden name - before you were married?

    Pesce: Oh, Brondo.

    Johnson: And how did you spell that?

    Pesce: B-R-O-N-D-O.

    Johnson: Thank you. And would you tell us, tell me your age, please, now?

    Pesce: Gonna be 88 the 26th of August. I'm 87.

    Johnson: Oh, that's wonderful. And I have your telephone number down here, so I won't ask that. In which village did you live? Now you told me it was Squirrel Run.

    Pesce: Squirrel Run.

    Johnson: What years were you there?

    Pesce: I come in here in 1920.

    Johnson: And how long were you there?

    Pesce: Oh, we stayed down there about ten years or more, at Squirrel Run, then we move here, what do you call it?

    [Daughter-in-law]: Brockton Farm?

    Pesce: Brockton Farm - we have placed our name and then we build here. I come in this way 1920, 1921 I married.

    Johnson: So you weren't married when you came to this country?

    Pesce: No, I was not married. I was 24 years old.

    Johnson: Yes. Did you have friends here that...

    Pesce: Well, I had my sister and my brother-in-law, oh yeah, my brother. Oh, yeah, a lot of...

    Johnson: And did they work for DuPont?

    Pesce: My brother was working with...the powder, to shoot - it blow...

    [Daughter-in-law]: The bombs, the shells - explosions.

    Pesce: Yeah, it pass in the trolley car - in the track, and make a...

    [Daughter-in-law]: Spark.

    Pesce: Yeah and it shoot everything. And my sister-in-law, it killed about three or four of my friends from Italy that I know.

    [Daughter-in-law]: Friends or relatives.

    Pesce: My brother was lucky, was not killed. Mrs. Gerosa, she lost a boy, was killed. My sister-in-law, she was pregnant - when they shoot like that - she was scared so much she lost the baby. Oh, it was awful, awful.

    [Daughter-in-law]: Do you understand what happened, Dorothy, with the explosives? I mean, I really, I get a very vague idea about this.

    Johnson: Was this the time when they were taking them into Wilmington on the wagon and there was a big explosion on the way?

    Pesce: Yeah, with the trolley - the tractor, tractor, tractor.

    Johnson: Oh, was this in the powder plant itself?

    Pesce: Yes, front, the front what they have make the powder.

    [Daughter-in-law]: There were tracks, apparently there were tracks, trolley tracks.

    Pesce: With a horse, it passed on top of the track, it was explosion, make the powder, and it blow - it go up, everything is burned, everything and my friend was killed. And my brother was lucky, he was not killed. And my husband, he have to go - oh, get up every morning early, go to make this - Squirrel Run where they have to work at Du Pont, like I told you, do piece work.

    Johnson: Yes.

    Pesce: He have to - he have a fence...

    [Daughter-in-law]: A gate.

    Pesce: A gate, oh, he never, never took it up to move it - voom, voom, voom, voom - the more you make, one penny each. But then - it was a du Pont, we was go work in the dance - we have a party - we have a good time, all the friends together. Who played boccie, the dance, we played ballone.

    Johnson: Was this on Kee's Hill, just above Squirrel Run, where they had the boccie field?

    Pesce: Yeah, du Pont build all the big house on top of - before it was du Pont, nobody was there, we have like we make a party. We have so good time, oh, I tell you the truth, we really enjoyed.

    Johnson: Now how often did you play - how often did you have the parties?

    Pesce: Almost every summer, all the summer. We goes down there all...

    Johnson: It didn't have to be a certain day like Fourth of July, it could...

    Pesce: No, no, no - Sunday, Saturday. We make a lot of things to bring down there, to bring some bread, we cook a chicken with beer, we cook, ourselves, everybody. We play cards, we sing, or dance or play ballone - I don't know, throw up in the air.

    Johnson: Balloons?

    Pesce: Or boccie, we have good time, yeah.

    Johnson: Did they have somebody from Wilmington bring those balloons, or did you...

    Pesce: No, we bring...

    Johnson: You'd just buy them?

    Pesce: No we bring, we live down at Squirrel Run, we was living down there. No, no, we got everybody, everything, we have everything, yeah. We have good time.

    Johnson: And who played the music, do you remember that?

    Pesce: My nephew, he play accordion, and oh, we have...

    Johnson: What was his name, do you know?

    Pesce: Salvo Fortunato.

    Johnson: Yes.

    Pesce: He die now, he died years ago. He was ready to go - and my daughter, she send me a letter, down there - Florida - West Palm Beach, my nephew he die, we never gonna go to Italy no more. Same time, my husband die, too, pass away, too, when we come that night - the 25th or 26th of March.

    Johnson: What year was that, do you remember?

    Pesce: Every morning, my husband, he was sick.

    [Daughter-in-law]: He died in 1960.

    Pesce: We have a good time, we, like I told you - all the friends, all the relatives, every - and du Pont was not built yet. Was big and make everything you want, it was a good time. Then we got a trolley car, we go downtown and it was a bridge, and to go to Wilmington, you have to go straight, you have to pass a little creek. We have - I told you this too - we have...

    [Daughter-in-law]: How would you cross the creek, you had to go in a little boat?

    Pesce: Yeah we had a ponte [bridge].

    [Daughter-in-law]: Oh, you had a bridge, there was a bridge?

    Pesce: Yes. Joe Comerrado, he was so drunk, friend of mine, Bartelli, but he was a baby, and he was so drunk - he got his machine, he poured all the gas he had, it was lucky he didn't break - the what do you call - the bridge where they fall down the creek - when he goes so damn fast, I don't know, lucky he didn't kill - good thing the machine had more sense than them - it stuck. Then my brother - my husband, he had to go get a, with his machine - a friend of mine, was my nephew, he go, one he drive the machine, the other one, because the machine, he have sense, is stuck, and was unable to go down - he was careless, we have more sense. And my brother, I mean my husband, he have a machine, he bring his machine, a friend of mine, my cousin, he bring the other machine. When he bring my husband, this cousin bring the machine to the place, the wife who smelled - I get it yet because he gonna whip me. He was drunk, oh my God, he was drunk, yeah he was drunk.
  • Taking the trolley to Wilmington before she learned any English; her husband working for the railroad when he was fifteen years old; the Irish making fun of the Italians
    Keywords: explosions; Immigrants; Irish Americans; Italian Americans; kitchen; laundry; porch; railroads; spigots; Street-railroads; trolley; water pump; Work environment; Working class--Social conditions
    Transcript: [Daughter-in-law]: Tell how you did, once in a while you went on a trolley into Wilmington.

    Pesce: Oh, I go down to - just come from Italy, I don't know nothing, I got a trolley car, I want some glasses, and I go down there. All the store - five, ten cents store, I don't see no glasses.

    Johnson: Eye glasses you mean?

    Pesce: No.

    Johnson: Drinking glasses?

    Pesce: To drink with. Well, I didn't see none. I didn't look what street I was, I got the trolley car to go down there, I didn't have no address, I don't know nobody, and I said I was lucky, I got the same one to come back. So, I was going in the other places, nobody can every find me, because I don't know talking English, I don't know talk my name if they get it or not, and nobody they never know where we go. Well anyhow, I come home, my two daughters, and they say "Mamma, where you put the glasses?" I go all the stores, I didn't see none. I'll tell you the truth, we froze to death down there because we had the kitchen - if you open the door, and the air it froze you to death, all the rest, my sister-in-law, a friend, he had a little...

    [Daughter-in-law]: Closed.

    Pesce: Closed - we passed what they get the wood and everything, he passed a shack, a thing like that, they come in and then they go in the kitchen, it doesn't get no air. I have the door this way - you open the door, all the air come on top of you, you froze to death, I have that baby. Oh, we don't know - it was a miserable one, we was...

    [Daughter-in-law]: How did you wash your clothes?

    Pesce: The porch - with cool water. We warm a couple of buckets of water - on the porch.

    Johnson: Now, were all the houses - yours was the only one where the door opened right into the kitchen like that?

    Pesce: Yes, all that drafty air - we have a little shack, it passes the other way, then they go in the kitchen, nice and warm, we don't get no cold.

    Johnson: Now, where would you - did you have the shed there, though, that you could wash in?

    Pesce: No, no, no. I have to go get it in the - a thing like that - what do you call it - go get the water in the pump, in the spigot. Then we had a little garage, a little - not garage, a shed. We have all the coal down there, we have to go down there. It was the one I know - to go to the bathroom, we have to go outside, like in the cold and do it. At DuPont, you pay one, boy they didn't give you much in service, u-huh.

    Then they have my cousin, three I think was killed with the powder. They got a tractor thing like that - it fly -

    [Daughter-in-law]: Made a spark.

    Pesce: Yes, spark - went all over...

    [Daughter-in-law]: What were the horses, what were the horses pulling, a wagon?

    Pesce: I guess so, I think so because the wheel, what they go in the track, thing like that.

    [Daughter-in-law]: Would you hear the explosion?

    Pesce: Oh gosh yes, oh.

    [Daughter-in-law]: What would happen, would the women cry or would they worry that...

    Pesce: They would crying because they look at somebody killed and the woman, if she ever heard her husband dead was killed - my son, my brother I was sure they was dead - thank God it was safety. I don't know why they go to the bathroom, why they go, it was safety, they were not - when - what do you call it? - Victoria, she got two nephew killed.

    Johnson: Did your husband work for DuPont before you were married?

    Pesce: Oh yeah, he come up when he was 15 years old.

    Johnson: So you had no choice about where you worked or anything, he was already working here.

    Pesce: No, no, no. And then first he was working at DuPont, I mean the train route, down there what the - train it was called. And in the night, he have to sleep on the pipe, he was sleeping on the pipe with chimneys what do you call it - it was killing, so he would sleep outside and the - what do you call it?

    [Daughter-in-law]: Mosquitoes.

    Pesce: Mosquitoes was killed. He wanted drink, he have to drink the one that...

    [Daughter-in-law]: The well?

    Pesce: No - he have to get it - what I told you - get it...

    [Daughter-in-law]: Oh, in the trench, right in the gutter.

    Pesce: Yes, in a...

    Johnson: In the trough of the...

    Pesce: Yes, there was a lot of train, he have the water in the train, and sometimes my husband would get some water to drink, he said, another place, because he got some water in the train, it was supposed to go in the [?] thing like that, the one that cut your mouth - it was awful. Bread - bread - it was a loaf of thing like that, it was all moldy. Some I told you - everything, I told you the truth, honest to God.

    Johnson: He was working for the railroad when he was fed like this?

    Pesce: Yes,...he was fifteen years old. [Makes some cries] Why they do - the way we have to do.

    [Daughter-in-law]: They were homesick, I believe, for Italy, their country, because they were quite young, you see, when they came.

    Pesce: Then they go to the movie, they have big pots, the water, they cooking spaghetti, then all the men, they got with the hands and get spaghetti - say in Italian, thing that make a fool, the Italian people.

    Johnson: Yes. That sounds terrible.

    Pesce: Tell you the truth...

    [Daughter-in-law]: Well, it was because, of course, they did not understand the language, the same as we do the Spanish people.

    Pesce: Yes, he go to the movies. He have a big pot of spaghetti - not a dish - it was pick up with his hands.

    [Daughter-in-law]: Was this after you were married, Mom, that you saw this movie?

    Pesce: No, before, before, before. He was 15 years old. It was in yesterday, Italian - the Irish was the worst when they...

    Johnson: Who was against them? Who did you say was against them?

    Pesce: See, now like the Italian - it was making funny, if they work together, when the one...

    Johnson: But they made fun of...

    Pesce: If you take the Italian - Italian would go with the hands, the spaghetti, he never heard it with the hands.

    [Daughter-in-law]: You understand who she said were against the Italians?

    Johnson: No.

    [Daughter-in-law]: The Irish.

    Johnson: Yes. Did you make any jokes against them back?

    Pesce: Oh, I don't - my husband - it was - no...

    Johnson: I think it's harder because you didn't speak English, and it's hard to do.

    Pesce: No. And anyhow, my daughter, sometimes we laugh so damn much he said, "What the heck," it was funny.
  • Getting married on the same day as her sister-in-law at St. Joseph's; her house and neighbors in Squirrel Run; death of her first child at age seventeen months; her husband almost dying from the fumes at the powder mill
    Keywords: fumes; industrial accidents; learning English; neighbors; powder mill; Saint Joseph on the Brandywine Roman Catholic Church; trolleys; wine making
    Transcript: Johnson: Do you know, you husband - where your husband came from, what town did he come from in Italy?

    Pesce: Giusvalla. Province of Savona.

    Johnson: And where did you come from?

    Pesce: Same place.

    Johnson: Same place. Then where did you get married here, were you married...

    Pesce: In Wilmington, St. Joseph's.

    Johnson: St. Joseph's.

    Pesce: St. Joseph's - me and my sister-in-law we married the same time. My sister-in-law, she married my cousin, and I married her brother.

    Johnson: And how did you meet your husband?

    Pesce: At Squirrel Run. When I come up from [Italy?], it was every one of my sister, and my brother and he bring me to my sister, and everybody come up and we dance...

    Johnson: Now did your sister and brother live in Squirrel Run?

    Pesce: Yeah. Oh yeah, my sister she come years ago, I don't know how many years - five or six years, I know.

    Johnson: And did you live with her there when you first came?

    Pesce: For a while, yeah, then I married my husband and we go separate. That's Squirrel Run, same place.

    Johnson: Yes, did you have any choice about that house, or did they just assign that house to you - the one where all the air came in - right in the kitchen?

    Pesce: No - they told my husband he was living there.

    Johnson: He had to live there.

    Pesce: Yes. I have my mother-in-law too, my mother-in-law, when she pass away she was ninety years old.

    Johnson: Oh, and she lived in that same house. How many rooms did it have altogether?

    Pesce: Upstairs was three rooms, three bedroom. Downstairs was just like a big kitchen, then way in back was a little shack where you can put a - sometimes wash a tub of clothes in there, like in the pantry, what you call it - to save the air.

    Johnson: Yes. And then did you have rooms upstairs to sleep in?

    Pesce: Oh yeah, we have three bedroom.

    Johnson: Three bedrooms up there.

    Pesce: Yeah, downstairs we have just the kitchen, a little thing back what you can put - wash a couple of clothes. Put water, you can put it - walk in there a thing like that.

    Johnson: Do you remember anything about what that house was like - did they have - what the windows would have been like - did they have screens on them?

    Pesce: No.

    Johnson: No screens?

    Pesce: No screens - no, no.

    Johnson: A shade to pull down so you could have...

    Pesce: Yeah, my husband he have a - yeah, to the window, yeah. Oh yeah, my sister-in-law, too and my neighbor, too. But then it was a woman, lived in Squirrel Run, she was living one side, and a porch, and the other side was a man. It was fight, these two. If she was put up the clothes, he said, "Kiss my ass." (Laughs)

    [Daughter-in-law]: Yeah, but they were not Italian people.

    Pesce: No.

    [Daughter-in-law]: They were French, I think.

    Pesce: Yeah - no they were Quakers.

    [Daughter-in-law]: Quakers?

    Pesce: Quakers, something like that. She was not so good, you couldn't understand. But was lot of French down there, it was so good, oh my God. She learned, my sister-in-law - Victoria - to talk and to do everything. When she said you gonna have a baby, so you don't wanna, I told you the way you have to do...

    Johnson: So she taught her English?

    Pesce: Yeah, she was good. And Nick - Nicko, his brother, he gotta woman, French - she was beautiful, she was wonderful - my Henry don't like it, they go together make a - what do you call it - marriage.

    [Daughter-in-law]: Were they married?

    Pesce: Oh yes, she has two, three kids.

    [Daughter-in-law]: Oh, he would ridicule her.

    Pesce: Yeah, she had three kids, I think. But then they have the fence, when they gonna move away, he is gonna put a fence, and leave the monkey inside, everybody if move away, he left two of the monkey, the gate, it was closed out there.

    Johnson: Do you remember the name of the woman who helped your sister, Victoria, with English? Do you know her name?

    Pesce: No, no, I never - she was talking French and everything. I wasn't understanding everything, I never go bother her, because she was one way, we was the other way, but Victoria was same neighbor and not too far away, and was grand.

    Johnson: And how did you learn English, just talking to your friends?

    Pesce: To what?

    Johnson: Learned English, to talk English.

    Pesce: I don't know, I don't know, I don't go to no school or nothing, just learned it like that, that's all. I never, nobody showed to do it. Oh, I go two times, the teacher was come up in the house to show - to read.

    Johnson: Oh, really?

    Pesce: Oh yeah, and I go three time, but then I have my baby, she was sick and then she died, she was 17 months old, see I lost...

    Johnson: Was that your first baby?

    Pesce: Yeah, my first girl.

    Johnson: And how many children did you have while you lived in Squirrel Run?

    Pesce: One, one.

    Johnson: Just the one - the one that died?

    Pesce: Yeah, the one - she died - then the one, she born here - my two, my boy and my son. My first, she was down at Squirrel Run. Then I have my sister-in-law, she had twins - they marry same day together. Oh, we have a lot of friends down there. We get a trolley car, we don't have no - we had the machine - I never want to drive the machine, I was not able to drive. I was - just get a trolley car and go.

    Johnson: You didn't really have to drive when they had the trolley car.

    Pesce: It passed right in front, like you live within the kitchen, the trolley - you passed a little bridge, you come here, the trolley car, it passes - you go anyplace you want to go. You don't need no machine.

    Johnson: Did they keep that house in pretty good repair, was DuPont supposed to make the repairs on it and did they...

    Pesce: No, they didn't do much of anything. We had to do it ourself. My husband was make a little wine, they have to dig underneath outside to make a hole to put a thing - want to put a barrel down in - no, DuPont don't spend nothing, no, no, no, you have to do yourself, no DuPont, they didn't do it.

    [Daughter-in-law]: Was there a basement, Mom, to the house - a cellar?

    Pesce: No, no, we don't have no basement, no. But my husband, I told you, he make a ditch, to make the wine down there. But then he find somebody in the wood who was dead - probably drink something that was no good, somebody make wine, and my husband was afraid get somebody look around, see what we got a thing like that, he got it - he throw 'em away. Little barrel, thing like that. He was dead in the woods.

    [Daughter-in-law]: Excuse me, Mom, but I can remember you telling me about, you know [Vicino Bachancha?], who breathed a lot of the dust and became very ill, remember you told me that?

    Pesce: Oh, yeah.

    [Daughter-in-law]: Would you like to tell her that?

    Pesce: What I told you - what?

    [Daughter-in-law]: Do you remember [S?]'s husband, how you told me that he breathed a lot of the - was it the dust from the explosives? And he became very sick and then he would go into Philadelphia to be treated?

    Pesce: No, wasn't Joe [Comorana?]

    [Daughter-in-law]: You told me he lived over here at Pemberton, he used to walk here to visit you and then he used to get a bus...

    Pesce: Oh yeah, was - oh yes, it was Angelo's - Geonino's brother, yeah it was...

    [Daughter-in-law]: Where did that happen?

    Pesce: It happened - was working - what do you call it - the - the mill...

    [Daughter-in-law]: Where was that, at Squirrel Run?

    Pesce: Yeah.

    [Daughter-in-law]: At the mill?

    Pesce: Yeah. My husband was passed away, too, and was couldn't breathe no more, was choke, the gas, something broke at work - the mill, down there, worked in the mill.

    [Daughter-in-law]: The powder mill.

    Pesce: Well this fellow, he go - broke something - he go down there to try to fix it, he breathe - he killed - it ruin his lung. He was lived at Pemberton, come here [...poach eggs..?], he stop again, I give something to eat again because he have to walk to Pemberton, so far way. [?] but then he die.

    [Daughter-in-law]: But do you think it was because he had breathed...

    Pesce: Sure, sure. The lung, the gas, the poison. And Joe I tell you, he come over, so you never think he was gonna get up no more, because he try to catch it, and they swallowed so much gas, what do you call it, and say they never think they make it. But this...

    [Daughter-in-law]: Why did they stop working in the powder mill, why did did they stop working?

    Pesce: I don't know.

    [Daughter-in-law]: Because they decided to come to Kennett to live?

    Pesce: Oh my husband, oh yeah, we come up here. We got apartment house, work in - sell the beer, first the soft drink. Yeah we move in Kennett. Oh, we do change a lot of place. My husband, down in - what do you call it - down in the mill...

    [Daughter-in-law]: Powder mill.

    Pesce: Almost died a couple of times, oh, he drink so much water, then he don't give a God darn what you do, excuse me, he was lay down on the bed, with clothes or not, he was gonna die and the more he gave wine or coffee or tea, more he would drink, more he was worse. Then my father-in-law, he started rubbing, said the word for go-go-go to make it sick, well then he was gonna pass away.

    [Daughter-in-law]: Apparently he was exhausted or very dehydrated.

    Pesce: With the cold water, ice water and was dead - he said, "I don't care." It happened before I marry him, when they never think he was gonna live any more. Then it happened another time.

    Johnson: Was the drinking water not any good, was it contaminated?

    Pesce: Ice water, yeah, ice water. But this, he have to work in all the gas, was the gas what killed you. Oh, it was awful.

    [Daughter-in-law]: The fumes.

    Pesce: Yeah, I never think he come home - pass away.
  • A peddler from Philadelphia trying to sell her rotten fruit; her vegetable garden; her sister's illness and later blindness; the 1918 flu epidemic in Squirrel Run and Italy
    Keywords: bacon; cataracts; death; Delivery of goods; grocery trade; illness; Influenza Epidemic (1918-1919); peddlers; Pneumonia; spaghetti; vegetable gardening; worms
    Transcript: Johnson: Now, when you were living at Squirrel Run, how did you do your shopping, where would you buy your groceries?

    Pesce: We get a machine - we got some store down there.

    Johnson: A store - would you know the name of the store and what it was like?

    Pesce: Oh, my sister-in-law, Victoria Pesce, and [Pasano?] they're my sister-in-law, what do you call - Victoria Pesce - then there was a fellow come from - I think it was Philadelphia, I don't know anymore, he was Italian, was go buy ice, spaghetti, anything that we went to him that he was bring up - with the worms. I said, "Listen, we no animals, what we get, we pay, I don't want - you eat it yourself, I don't want it."

    Johnson: This is somebody that came around with a cart to sell you meat, and it was wormy?

    Pesce: Yes, sure he was - gonna cheap.

    Johnson: This was meat that they were bringing, was this meat they brought?

    Pesce: No, it was fruit - spaghetti, things like that.

    [Daughter-in-law]: The greens, probably.

    Pesce: Yes. No, you have to watch, that fellow was bringing, I said, "We don't need you, things you buy. We got everything we want. We don't buy no more."

    Johnson: Did you have trouble getting the kind of food you liked?

    Pesce: No, we got no trouble. Then I have my sister-in-law, she got everything. Then we got in the garden almost everything.

    Johnson: Oh, I was going to ask you about that. Did you - what did you grow in your garden?

    Pesce: We gotta string beans, we got a few potatoes, we got lettuce, we got tomato, little cabbage, we have a little bit of everything. Oh yeah, in September we have [?]

    Johnson: Was it hard to grow those things?

    Pesce: No, no. A little, for me, too far away to go pick it. I don't mind. I don't mind.

    Johnson: Was it right by the house you had to go, or did you go up to the field?

    Pesce: No, it was not too far over, not next to the house, we have to go up in the hill, little top of the hill, but it was not too far away. Like to here...

    Johnson: Did a lot of other people have gardens up there with you?

    Pesce: Oh yeah, most everybody got a little garden.

    Johnson: So it was kind of fun to have other people go up with you, too, I suppose?

    Pesce: Sure. And my poor sister, she have - I think it was the tumor...she has still string beans in the garden...and she was so sick and the doctor told her nothing he can do. She was awful sick, my poor sister, she still make and eat the vegetable - string beans, little potatoes, little cabbage, and things like that. She started to come back. Dr. Sam...

    [Daughter-in-law]: Simon?

    Johnson: Samuels?

    Pesce: Dr. Samuels said my sister don't feel good, was gonna take her to go to him, she was going to the doctor. And my sister, she said, "Come up with me, I bring to the doctor, Dr. [Rueti?]." Down there, he gave her - he told her eat a lot of - what do you call it - you make to slice it - I don't remember no more - [describes in Italian].

    [Daughter-in-law]: Cream of wheat, or was it a vegetable?

    Pesce: No, slice it...

    [Daughter-in-law]: Oh, mush - polenta?

    Pesce: No.

    Johnson: Celery or onions?

    Pesce: Celery - what do you call...the pig...

    [Daughter-in-law]: Bacon?

    Pesce: The bacon. She started cooking the bacon so much, she feel better. My sister said - then she almost come blind, when she was read the paper, she don't - my sister she says right away, she was not see too good. I said, "Oh no, my eyes was good. Come on, I bring to the doctor, maybe kitchen dark." She didn't go, she come blind, she had - what do you call them...

    [Daughter-in-law]: She had cataracts.

    Pesce: Yeah, she lost both eyes.

    Johnson: Oh, that's too bad.

    Pesce: She had twins, she had a lot of kids, God bless her, she lost the husband in the flu, 1918, a daughter.

    Johnson: Yes. Did you know many people who had the flu in 1918?

    Pesce: My husband lost his baby, he lost his wife, first wife, and his daddy.

    Johnson: Then you were his second wife?

    Pesce: Yeah, I was second. And his daddy, and my sister-in-law, she lost two boy, then - oh, a lot of people died. Undertaker told - you don't change doctor, I bury everyone.

    Johnson: Now what was the name of the doctor you took her to, do you remember?

    Pesce: I don't remember, I was not here yet, when the flu, I was in Italy, almost pass away, too.

    Johnson: Oh, did you have the flu there too?

    Pesce: Oh, my gosh, thank God, they come after me, thank God that when they came after, now you safety because you mastered it.

    Johnson: Took away the poisons.

    Pesce: A lot of woman - there was a lot about four sister, twenty - twenty-four years old, die everyone because they have [?] - when it come, the [?], they would pass away - it was done. Thank God, my doctor - I don't remember - my doctor in Italy...A lot die, oh my God. My sister-in-law - my aunt, not my sister, she just get up to go get some eggs in the chicken shed, it was about four o'clock, by eleven o'clock she was dead already. She killed right away, if you get a little bit here, the flu, it was kill you right away. My cousin, the daughter, she lost a husband, it was about twelve o'clock he died. She says, "You gonna stay with me, I will be a good." [Speaks in Italian] "You don't need a gift, you go in bed." - my doctor in Italia. Thank God they saved me, my sister, she was so sick, and my father. I put a little thing, a brick, real hot - it was so hot, he had a fever so hot, he don't feel it - it burned, too, cooked a little bit. He have to go to here, or down there what a [medico?] to feed somebody's else's cow. Then, he has to go another place to feed somebody's cow, too. Then he has to go feed the horse and everything. He was in...too. Thank God I saved, my poor sister, she was in Savona, she have to come home. She got right away the fever, just like that, the flu. Thank God we save her. Oh, she get a little well, it was die.

    [Daughter-in-law]: I didn't know that was the flu, apparently it was a different kind of a flu.

    Johnson: It was a very severe...

    Pesce: Yeah. And like I told you, this girl who's four, five - was 22 - 23 - 25 years old, honest to God, every one they die. They have no [mast?], they just die. Oh lot, lotta lotta die over there, and here. Oh, my God.

    Johnson: What did your little baby die of?

    Pesce: Pneumonia.

    Johnson: How did that happen, was there a lot of sickness in that...

    Pesce: She have the measles, then the blackness, then she have pneumonia, she die.

    [Daughter-in-law]: And she's buried in St. Joseph's cemetery.

    Pesce: He lost a girl, what do you call - Victorina first, she was 22 months old. She was in a coach to visit [Chicken Lane?]. And my husband, he told her, this girl she is sick - oh no, she's [?], the neighbor. That night she died.

    [Daughter-in-law]: Well, your husband's first wife died with the flu with twins, too, didn't she?

    Pesce: Yeah, she died the flu, she had twins. She lost the baby, when the babies born - she die, she had twins. She had four girls, two she live the first, the second she had lost one - the flu. All three got died together, the kids were born when...

    Johnson: How did you get the doctor when you wanted to call him - was there a phone that you could use?

    Pesce: He have to call down there - Dr. Leone, Dr. DiSone, a lot of thing. Like I told you, the long it take, he said, you're not going to change the doctor for you women, for everyone...Oh, Angelina's daddy, and they were with the family, was in the house when the wife, have the flu, but the poor man he try his best to save it, but then he was so sick, too, say "I'm not gonna - I have to bring to the hospital because I can't take care no more." Ten minutes of different, this one and they just walk in the hospital poof - he die. Just little bit there, change the hair, he was dead - poof. And they try his best to save him, they were sick, too.

    Johnson: I'm going to turn this over now.
  • Singing Italian songs at local picnics; her sister's death in Italy after the doctor gave her the wrong medicine; her brother-in-law's singing voice; her wedding and reception; her sister's house
    Keywords: accordion; Arrivederci Roma; buggy; dancing; honeymoon; Italian songs; Physicians--Malpractice; picnics; Rising Sun; singing; tenor; wedding dress; wedding reception
    Transcript: Pesce: We have picnic altogether, if somebody - everybody bring something. Then we all - the table and everything - playing and dancing and we have a good time singing, we have good time.

    Johnson: Do you remember any of the songs that they sang?

    Pesce: 0h, all Italian, every one Italian song.

    Johnson: Can you remember any of the Italian songs?

    Pesce: Arrivederci Roma, [Son Partito?] de Guisvalla...[continues to recite in Italian]

    [Daughter-in-law]: That's very nice.

    Pesce: Oh, I have a lot of them - I don't remember to say no more.

    Johnson: If you could say...

    Pesce: Because I'm not good to say, my bus - my father, not my husband - that was after the come to the ship and everything, I think I was a [tenor?] to sing. Then my father was come for the time - oh-o-o!

    Johnson: Did he come to America with you?

    Pesce: No, my father, no, no, no.

    Johnson: Did you go back to Italy to visit him ever?

    Pesce: When they go, was dead, my father, he died. When we go to Italy, I think, you remember?

    [Daughter-in-law]: Thirty-nine, thirty-seven.

    Pesce: Thirty-seven - my father died a year - before thirty- six. My poor sister, too. My sister, she have four kids, four or five kids, she have a little sore throat, Sunday morning - the day before she fix some [chair?]. In the morning she get up there, doctor give her needle - fifteen minutes after she was dead. They kill her, he gave her wrong medicine. He was drunk like a pig. Doctor - I don't remember, I told you - he was drunk all the time. He have a daughter and a son, he have to go get it done whether my sister-in-law she was having [?], he would come so drunk, that the daughter, she have to go get a [taxi?] home, he gave a needle to put to sleep. Dr. Bigotti, yeah, Dr. Bigotti. When they - oh, he was so drunk, all the time, all the time.

    Johnson: Was there any of your family left when you went back to Italy, when you went back to Savona, was there any of your family left there?

    Pesce: Well my father was dead, he die, and my poor sister, like I told you - she died in 1936 and we go 1937. Thirty-six she passed - she said I don't mind - I don't care to [?], I would like to see my sister once more - and we go next year, see, the year after.

    [Daughter-in-law]: Your brother was there - your brother was living. Oh, yeah, my brother was over there, yeah.

    Johnson: When you were here, did your husband sing at all, did he sing in the choir in the church?

    Pesce: No, no, no - my brother-in-law, he was sing so good, he was sing like a tenor, he says it's a shame he didn't go to the movie theater like that, because he have good voice. My husband, he would sing, but didn't have the voice of my brother-in-law, oh, Vito, he was - oh everybody said, why you didn't go sing tenor in the movie thing like that. He was good.

    Johnson: Did he sing in the church here, or just sing at parties?

    Pesce: Well, he would sing when we was at party, picnic - all together. No, he never go sing church.

    [Daughter-in-law]: Where did you go to church at Squirrel Run? At St. Joseph's?

    Pesce: Squirrel Run - St. Joseph's, we was with St. Joseph's.

    Johnson: Did you walk to church every Sunday?

    Pesce: Oh yeah, we walk, we don't mind. We was to make a turn and go around in the road and then we go there, we had a...

    Johnson: What was your wedding like there - did you have a white dress?

    Pesce: No, no because my sister-in-law she marry - we were together, my cousin - my sister-in-law was a - a sister of my husband, and then my cousin, they married her, and my husband - then we go to honeymoon in Washington.

    Johnson: In Washington - and how did you go, by train?

    Pesce: Oh yeah, we go by the train.

    Johnson: What day did you get married on? What day of the week? One of the women I talked to said that...

    Pesce: What day? I was married on Saturday.

    Johnson: Oh, she said everybody got married on Wednesday.

    Pesce: No, Saturday, Saturday. Saturday, then we got a machine, a special machine take to the station, then we got a train, we go Washington.

    Johnson: Did you have a party or anything, did you have cake and things?

    Pesce: When we come back, when we come back my poor sister she make a big party her place.

    [Daughter-in-law]: I didn't know that, I don't remember you telling me that. That's very nice.

    Johnson: Did she make a cake - do you remember what that was like?

    Pesce: I think - I don't remember much, I think my poor sister, God bless, she was the best cook in the world. You never saw so fast that woman cook and prepared - oh she was wonderful person to cook, she was - while she was in France, my poor sister - she lived some over there, because after '27, the baby, she go over there in France, I don't know anymore, then she come home because she come United States. Well I tell you the truth, my poor sister, she was good to make a cook and everything, few minutes she everything ready, she have big room. After we eat, everybody start to dancing. We have - my nephew, who was play accordion, guitar and everything.

    Johnson: Oh, guitar too?

    Pesce: Oh yeah, we have good time. Oh, I never forget...

    Johnson: Did more than one person play at the same time, that is, could they have one person play a guitar and one the accordion?

    Pesce: Well, it was a change - it was like - my husband brother-in-law, he was that big - and he was play accordion. When it ended - he was paid and everything - but then he would go with the hat, he go collect money again. My brother-in-law, he said, "I fell like punch you right in the face, I pay you, I give you money already. You never should..." He go, on a Saturday, after a woman, somebody whipping him. [laughs] That's the truth, he was a nut - he was bringing woman in the house all the time, and she have big hotel, she buy big place, then he want it back. My sister-in-law? "Oh no, you're not gonna get it back, it does belong to me. Get the hell out." He go.

    Johnson: Was this downtown in Wilmington that she had this...

    Pesce: No, no, no - it was in Italy, it was in Italy. Well then my sister-in-law, this place - thank God they left to her. And then they want it back - oh, no, you're not gonna get 'em back. Then they got a woman, they got another time, and my sister-in-law, she have some woman - he have another woman he bring to my sister-in-law, if she has to feed it, take care of, give it some - she say, "you know, let's go." To here, to go Wilmington - he have another woman. Somebody called it, he go to this place. He got - my sister-in-law, she got a horse - oh a little what do you call it - to make it go - come si chiama carrozzino?

    [Daughter-in-law]: A little cart? A buggy?

    Pesce: Yeah, buggy. To here to go Wilmington. He was up in this - he have the clothes. My sister-in-law, and the other - he opened the door, he got the clothes, the two so go up in the garret, but they have no clothes, they take the clothes away.

    [Daughter-in-law]: I don't understand that, do you, Dorothy? I don't understand what she's trying to say. You know, I heard you mention Rising Sun, and I saw it in here. What was that, what was Rising Sun?

    Johnson: Well, I think it was a tavern at the top of Rising Sun Lane. Was Rising Sun a tavern?

    [Daughter-in-law]: What was Rising Sun? I heard you say Rising Sun before, Mamma, was it a tap room - beer garden?

    Pesce: Rising Sun, lived [speaks Italian].

    [Daughter-in-law]: That's where you lived?

    Pesce: Yeah, Rising Sun.

    [Daughter-in-law]: Oh, I thought you lived at Squirrel Run.

    Pesce: Yeah, Squirrel Run, yeah, but Rising Sun...

    [Daughter-in-law]: Was the little...

    Pesce: Yeah.

    [Daughter-in-law]: Oh, I see. I had never heard you say that until today.

    Pesce: Well, to go - to go up a little - to go like Montchanin, but then you come down, you go pass the road, what you call the trolley car, it take you to Wilmington. Then you go another road, you go to Montchanin, every place.

    Johnson: Now your sister-in-law owned the place at Rising Sun?

    Pesce: My sister-in-law, it was - she have a - next to me - the apartment. And my poor sister, she have the other side, see we was this way, and my sister was another big house in there. Everybody, all we was down there, a lot of people. When my poor sister, God bless her, she have a lot of place with a lot of room, and every time somebody want a dance, they go to my sister. She make a party - dinner, dancing together. She was dancing, I never know, I never learned.

    Johnson: But your sister danced?

    Pesce: Oh my poor sister, she danced - the other one in Italy, no, she never learned. We didn't have no chance to go out. My poor sister, first, she have a lot of cousins, everybody, with their boyfriends, go to the dance, they went around together. Me and my poor sister, we didn't have no chance, we didn't have nobody to go to dance. We stayed home.
  • Her mother dying in childbirth; her nephew contracting polio as a child in Delaware; looking at a photograph of relatives with an automobile; her mother-in-law coming to visit
    Keywords: crutches; mother-in-law; parenti [relatives]; polio; shame; widowers
    Transcript: Johnson: Was this sister older than you, or younger?

    Pesce: No, I was the young, the baby.

    Johnson: You were the baby?

    Pesce: My mother, she pass away when I was twenty months old. She lost with baby, she died. My father never marry again, he raised - we have three girls, we were three girls and my father never married again. There was a lot of women go after him, to want to marry - he say "Oh, no, I don't want a step-mother for my kids."

    Johnson: Wasn't that nice?

    Pesce: Yeah raised - he'd get up early in the morning, go work a day, come home make a breakfast - go work, make a dinner, then go work, come - what do you call it - three o'clock? And then in the night he cook again.

    Johnson: Isn't that nice.

    Pesce: Yeah, he wanted to be with. He was good to us, very nice.

    Johnson: And then your older sister, she came to this country before you?

    Pesce: Yes, yes.

    Johnson: And was she married when she came?

    Pesce: No, she was married already, she had a boy.

    Johnson: When she came she had a boy?

    Pesce: Oh, yes, she had a boy. Then he have the polio, her son. He was all paralyzed, he cut the legs to here to help...

    [Daughter-in-law]: She had the polio in Italy, Mom, or when he came to this country?

    Pesce: Here, here. See was polio around, there was a neighbor, this woman, she had a little girl, my poor sister, she go see this girl, and Fred, my grandson - my nephew, he goes over there, too, and before long he have the polio, too, he was all paralyzed. Then they bring down Wilmington, they cut all the way through, around his legs. And he was walking, never wanted to wear the crutches because it was shame. And this legs, was catching, the other one, it was just far away.

    Johnson: Would you like to just have a cup of tea for a while?

    Pesce: Yeah, you want a cup of tea?

    Johnson: Yes, please. [pause]

    Johnson: That family's name - do you know any of those people on there? That family's name was Gaino?

    Pesce: If I know these people?

    Johnson: Gaino - they lived in Squirrel Run, and this was taken - well, this was 1890, so that was - this picture was taken before you came here.

    Pesce: Probably I remember but I don't remember anymore. So many years, so many years.

    Johnson: I guess it was a big family.

    Pesce: Maybe when I look again. [pause]

    Johnson: Still have your pictures here that you gave me.

    Pesce: This is all my parenti, all the relatives, the family.

    Johnson: Now was this taken up where the boccie field was, is this where the boccie field was up on Kee's Hill, do you know?

    Pesce: I don't know.

    Johnson: Was this right near Squirrel Run?

    Pesce: Yeah, down Squirrel Run, yeah we lived down there. But we make the party all the time, top the hill and everything when we lived there.

    Johnson: Are you on this picture?

    Pesce: I can't tell you.

    Johnson: Can't you tell me where you are?

    Pesce: I have to look in the light, we go over there in the kitchen and maybe...

    Johnson: Okay. [noise on tape]

    [Daughter-in-law]: Would you like tea, Dorothy, or coffee?

    Johnson: I'd like tea.

    [Daughter-in-law]: Tea?

    Johnson: Tea, please.

    [Daughter-in-law]: Why don't you sit here while we; then you can be cozy.

    Pesce: She wants me to sit on there.

    [Daughter-in-law]: Maybe you'd better sit closer to her, Mom-Mom, if she wants to - this is your cup, I took it from your table. [noise] Are these your pictures?

    Johnson: Yes.

    Pesce: No, this is mine here.

    Johnson: They're your mother's pictures.

    Pesce: See, this is me. This is my cousin - my nephew, not my cousin, yes, my brother-in-law.

    Johnson: Would that be Alfredo?

    Pesce: My husband - the wife - this is my sister-in-law - my husband's brother-in-law - married my husband's wife. This is Mary [Ferzanno?] - Pete [Ferzanno?]'s wife, John [Ferzanno?]. This is - what do you call it - David [Ferzanno?]. This is - what do you call it - my brother-in-law - Frank Bachinni - this is her son, Joe Bachinni.

    Johnson: Yes, they're right next to the car there, yes.

    Pesce: Yeah. This is Joe Bachinni - see, all the family. This is her son, this is - I don't know, I don't remember no more. This is my sister-in-law, this is my niece, my sister-in-law's daughter, this is her daughter, too.

    Johnson: Now What was this woman's name again - your sister-in-law - was that Victoria?

    Pesce: This is Caroline, Caroline Bachinni. This is my sister-in-law, this is - the one I told you, she become blind.

    [Daughter-in-law]: Camilla.

    Pesce: Camilla. This is my nephew...

    [Daughter-in-law]: Dave? That looks like Dave.

    Pesce: Yeah, Davey. This is the [Buchaney?]

    [Daughter-in-law]: I never knew them.

    Pesce: This is the Buchaney.

    [Daughter-in-law]: She's still living, isn't she?

    Pesce: No, she died so many years ago.

    [Daughter-in-law]: Oh, that's the Ferraro woman.

    Pesce: Yeah, Ferraro. This is Braunt, with the baby.

    [Daughter-in-law]: Yeah, I recognize her.

    Johnson: Now, when you say, Ferraro, was that the one had the - did the dresses, made the dresses?

    [Daughter-in-law]: Very well could be. Did she sew, Mom? Maria Ferraro, did she sew?

    Pesce: No, no.

    Johnson: It must be a different one, then.

    Pesce: No. This is Joe Bachinni.

    Johnson: That's the one on the very end, then, great.

    Pesce: This is - she put her face down, I don't know. This is Vito Pesce.

    [Daughter-in-law]: Do you want to sit here, Mother. Sit here, and then I'll put Dorothy next to you.

    Johnson: Mr. Pesce, is he related to you?

    Pesce: Yeah, my nephew. Look, this is my nephew.

    Johnson: And who's the baby that he's holding?

    Pesce: It belonged to him. This is John Bachinni.

    Johnson: That's the one on the extreme right?

    Pesce: Yeah.

    Johnson: Oh, they're related?

    Pesce: Her son, son.

    Johnson: And that's the one, near the rear wheel of the car.

    Pesce: And this is the woman, she died with the cancer. She lost two - she lost three kids, God bless her. Now this is my sister-in-law. This is my sister-in-law. This is my nephew, this is my nephew, this is Joe Bachinni - Frank Bachinni. This is my sister-in-law that were twin with Perone - John Perone.

    Johnson: That would be the fourth one in from the left in the front.

    [Daughter-in-law]: Dorothy, would you like to take care of your tea, because I don't want it to get too strong. I'll let you put yours in mine.

    Pesce: Yeah, please. [pause] Look, this is my mother-in-law.

    Johnson: Oh, that's your mother-in-law in the dark dress.

    Pesce: Yeah, that's my mother-in-law.

    Johnson: And she's the one who lived to be ninety?

    Pesce: She died at ninety-two.

    Johnson: And she lived in your house right with you?

    Pesce: No, no, she come up and stay one week, she got everything, I buy clothes, everything she want, when she have it, she go back [laughs].

    Johnson: Oh.

    [Daughter-in-law]: Did you understand what she said?

    Johnson: Not all of it.

    [Daughter-in-law]: She said that her mother-in-law would come to visit her and then she would dress her, Mother would dress her and buy her things that she needed and then she would go back. She was ready to go back.

    Pesce: She had to go home, because the daughter, she would buy all the clothes, and then she had to go back to work.

    Johnson: And did she live in downtown Wilmington?

    Pesce: She lived [Wilmington?].

    [Daughter-in-law]: Would you like a little doughnut - I made those? [chatter as tea is served]
  • Making spaghetti, gnocchi, polenta and other dishes; picking mushrooms near Squirrel Run; accidentally drinking too much wine when she was a waitress in France; Christmas in Squirrel Run
    Keywords: chickens; Christmas; Christmas tree; coffee; Cooking, Italian; drunk; gnocchi; lamb; mushrooms; polenta; rabbit; sausage; shed; siphon; spaghetti; St. Joseph's; steak; stew; waitress; wine
    Transcript: Johnson: Did you know how to cook at all when you were married?

    Pesce: Oh yeah.

    Johnson: Yes.

    [Daughter-in-law]: Well, tell her that you worked in France as a waitress.

    Pesce: Oh yeah.

    Johnson: And what was your husband's favorite dinner, do you remember what you made for dinner? Did he eat at noontime, when he worked there, or did he eat at nighttime?

    Pesce: He would come, during the time he would come home.

    Johnson: Come home at noontime. And what would you have for dinner, do you remember that?

    Pesce: Have a little steak, sometimes have spaghetti, sometime he like gnocchi, and would make what he liked.

    Johnson: Did you make your own spaghetti,or did you buy the...

    Pesce: Oh no, I would make mine, I would make [mushroom?]

    [Daughter-in-law]: She meant polenta.

    Pesce: With the gravy mushroom.

    [Daughter-in-law]: Sausage with gravy and mushrooms? Where would you get the mushrooms?

    Pesce: From Italy.

    [Daughter-in-law]: They would send them from Italy? Did they? Did you ever pick mushrooms in Squirrel Run? Would you go out in the fields and pick mushrooms?

    Pesce: Yeah, we knew the ones.

    [Daughter-in-law]: You knew the ones to pick?

    Pesce: Yeah. [?]

    [Daughter-in-law]: They wanted to sell them.

    Johnson: They had a lot of good markets on King Street, too, in those days, right? If you took the trolley in, you could buy things in Wilmington, too.

    Pesce: Yeah.

    Johnson: Now, did you make your own sausage, or...

    Pesce: In Italy we would make - we killed the pig - we killed the lamb, we killed everything, we had a lot of place, everything.

    Johnson: Now when you were here, did you raise any animals, did you have chickens and pigs here?

    Pesce: ...We killed, what do you call it - lamb.

    [Daughter-in-law]: But you didn't have any beef or pork? You didn't have...

    Pesce: Not too much.

    [Daughter-in-law]: But mostly lamb?

    Pesce: Yeah.

    [Daughter-in-law]: Goats?

    Pesce: Yeah.

    [Daughter-in-law]: Wonder why they didn't have the - I don't understand why they didn't have...

    Pesce: We have a lot of chicken, we roast and making stew.

    Johnson: Did you raise your chickens or did you just buy them?

    Pesce: No, we got it, oh we got a lot of them.

    [Daughter-in-law]: You raised them?

    Johnson: You raised them?

    Pesce: Yeah, we did.

    Johnson: Where did you keep them, in the shed next to the house?

    Pesce: We have a shed, right close back of the house, in the field. We have chicken, we have rabbit.

    Johnson: Oh, you raised the rabbits, too?

    Pesce: Yeah.

    [Daughter-in-law]: Mine is running out faster than yours, Dorothy.

    Johnson: I have a ninety-minute tape.

    Pesce: We would go down the field and we find some mushrooms they'd be - oh, some they come up in the water - the dirt - when they come up, was all white, then they grow, become pink - what do you call it...

    [Daughter-in-law]: Were they good - would you eat them?

    Pesce: Oh my God.

    Johnson: Really good.

    Pesce: Mushroom - oh!

    [Daughter-in-law]: Do you remember picking mushrooms in Squirrel Run though, out in the fields?

    Pesce: Yeah.

    [Daughter-in-law]: You do remember that?

    Pesce: Yeah, we walk to St. Joseph's, see what they have the church, go up in the field. My poor sister, she would pick some basket.

    Johnson: Did you ever pick berries up there, too? Did you pick berries up there - somebody remembers elderberries growing there - did you ever pick berries?

    Pesce: No, no, no, I never go pick them, no. I don't remember seeing them. I was never go touching nothing nobody, I was afraid. I never did. My poor sister, God bless her, she have a little bit everything in the garden.

    [Daughter-in-law]: Have more, Dorothy.

    Johnson: They're very good.

    Pesce: You make-a this, is good.

    [Daughter-in-law]: I made them when I came home at lunch, I bowled this morning, so I didn't have a dessert, I think they would be something to have.

    Johnson: Is that an Italian recipe too?

    [Daughter-in-law]: No it isn't, my sister-in-law gave me that.

    Pesce: I want to told you this thing - when there was a [hotel?] in Tulone, was all womans, l7 woman and just the boss, no men, just the boss. I was go down the cellar, put wine in the bottle, I have to take and make it come off of there...

    [Daughter-in-law]: Siphon.

    Pesce: Yeah, before I know, I swallow some. Then they have basket, I put - drank - the basket would go round, before I know drink about fifty swallows.

    [Daughter-in-law]: She was a waitress at the time, and I think they had to fill the bottles.

    Pesce: I have to - in the morning I have to service in the coffee, in the coffee cup, and we have to give the whiskey, have to go wine, have to go any of them down there. And my poor cousin, she come - the whole bottom broke. You go upstairs, you go stay, and don't come up then.

    [Daughter-in-law]: They wanted you to sleep so you wouldn't...

    Pesce: Didn't come up til next morning.

    [Daughter-in-law]: Oh, really?

    Pesce: Drunk like a...

    [Daughter-in-law]: She must have really had a lot of wine.

    Pesce: Drunk like a pig...Not used to it - never drink, but when I try to put it basket, the basket was so big, it go round. Then I was servicing the coffee in the restaurant, after I started to talk a little bit, one told me you're [speaks Italian/French].

    [Daughter-in-law]: What does tre joli mean?

    Pesce: Pretty.

    [Daughter-in-law]: You're pretty.

    Pesce: [Laughs]...tre jolie

    Johnson: Do you remember how you celebrated Christmas here. Did you celebrate Christmas in Squirrel Run? Did you have a Christmas tree in the house?

    Pesce: Oh yeah, we have a - my husband - it was a beauti - every Christmas, to bring everything, oh yeah, we have a good...

    [Daughter-in-law]: You did have a tree?

    Pesce: Yeah.

    Johnson: Did he cut it down, or did he buy one?

    Pesce: No, he cut it. He buy it, the little tree, yeah, he put it up the table. Then he help me to fix it and everything.

    Johnson: Now, did you put candles on the tree?

    Pesce: No, no candles, because we afraid.

    [Daughter-in-law]: We did, as children, we did that.

    Pesce: But here, if we had a little...

    [Daughter-in-law]: Christmas tree.

    Pesce: Christmas - he was the one help me to fix it.

    [Daughter-in-law]: To decorate it.

    Pesce: Yeah, he was like to help do that.

    [chatter about the tea]
  • Her daughter's christening at St. Joseph's; her husband witnessing one of his bosses and boss's girlfriend being chased by the boss's wife; explosion caused by one of the powder mill horses
    Keywords: christening; christening dress; explosions; gardeners; Miscarriage; St. Joseph's; wedding dress
    Transcript: Johnson: Did you have your baby christened at St. Joseph's?

    Pesce: Yeah.

    Johnson: What was that like?

    Pesce: Frances was the one I lost, then I got second daughter, I called her Frances, too.

    [Daughter-in-law]: I didn't know your first baby was Frances.

    Pesce: The first that died was Victorina.

    [Daughter-in-law]: I was gonna say, that was Victorina, your first - no, that was Pop-Pop's daughter that died, that wasn't your daughter, that was his daughter.

    Johnson: When you had a christening, did you have a party?

    Pesce: Oh yeah.

    Johnson: Did you have a party when you had the christening?

    Pesce: Oh yeah.

    Johnson: No somebody told me that she remembers going to christenings at St. Joseph's and they gave out Jordon almonds, that is the almonds with the candy coating - would you do that - did you do that, do your remember?

    Pesce: No, I don't remember. No I don't remember.

    Johnson: She said she used to go to all the christenings she could to get the candy.

    [Daughter-in-law]: Who would give the candy, Dorothy?

    Johnson: The parents of the child that was christened - I'd never heard that before.

    [Daughter-in-law]: The parents - oh, I see.

    Johnson: Would you have the christening dress for the baby, did you make the white, long white dress?

    Pesce: Yeah, we buy long, we didn't make it, we buy it.

    Johnson: You bought it?

    Pesce: Yes.

    Johnson: Would you buy that downtown?

    Pesce: Yeah, Wilmington. My sister, she bought...

    [Daughter-in-law]: You didn't keep things like that, did you, Mom? You didn't keep the things that you have from your little children?

    Pesce: M-huh...I give away everything.

    [Daughter-in-law]: Because they did have beautiful - her wedding dress was absolutely gorgeous, we have pictures of it. And I just so wish that she had kept these things.

    Johnson: Well, it's nice to know that you have the pictures.

    [Daughter-in-law]: She was dressed very beautifully.

    Johnson: Yes. Did your mother-in-law buy you the wedding dress, too? You said your mother-in-law bought you things.

    Pesce: No, no.

    [Daughter-in-law]: No, she bought things for her mother-in-law.

    Johnson: Oh, I see.

    Pesce: I bought for her, all the time she come up, I buy stockings, I buy shoes, I buy dress and everything, then she got everything, then she was go home, because a lot of things she - the daughter, she needed it.

    Johnson: I see, I thought you had said that she bought it.

    [Daughter-in-law]: Who bought your wedding dress? You bought it yourself?

    Pesce: My husband, he buy it.

    [Daughter-in-law]: But he went with you when you bought it?

    Pesce: No, [Cabella?], she come with me.

    Johnson: Do you remember any parties that you went to that were given by the du Ponts - now Alfred du Pont used to have - he'd have an excursion by boat for the employees - did you ever go on that?

    Pesce: No, the du Pont, they never give nothing to you.

    Johnson: This may have been earlier, I'm not sure just when it was.

    Pesce: Maybe before we went down there. Actually I tell you the truth, my husband, when we left, the boss who was working with du Pont, my husband was sit down, it was too hot, side of the road, and when he saw boss, he started to get up, and then he would come up, he was go with the woman, he have a girlfriend, then the wife, she come after with a stick. Asked my husband, thing like that - no, we didn't see. She go around, she go get it with a stick, and make her go back so damn fast.

    [Daughter-in-law]: Be careful of your tales, Mamma.

    Johnson: Do you know who this was, do you know the name of the person who was being chased?

    Pesce: No, I don't.

    Johnson: Wouldn't tell [laughs].

    Pesce: I don't remember.

    [Daughter-in-law]: This was something probably...

    Pesce: My husband, it was laughed so much - she was - she run so fast - he, my husband, when he pass him, it was little space - it was hot, and then in the shade, when he pass, then it was her with a stick.

    [Daughter-in-law]: There was hanky-panky going on even then, huh?

    Pesce: You tell me. And then we go up. [laughs]

    [Daughter-in-law]: Didn't at one time, your husband work in those homes way up in the hill, Mom, as a gardener?

    Pesce: Yeah, yeah.

    [Daughter-in-law]: Didn't he do that for the du Ponts?

    Pesce: Yeah, yeah.

    [Daughter-in-law]: Was that after you were married?

    Pesce: No, I think it was before.

    [Daughter-in-law]: Before?

    Pesce: Yeah, I think...

    [Daughter-in-law]: Do you know the homes that are on - I don't know those roads...

    Pesce: We lived Squirrel Run, my husband, God bless, we come...

    [Daughter-in-law]: I think they were at Montchanin.

    Pesce: We come right here.

    [Daughter-in-law]: Many of the immigrants worked as gardeners.

    Johnson: There were quite a few of them around here.

    Pesce: While they was working, the old fence, [laughs] they do, the du Pont; the ones I told you, this woman, she was so dog gone jealous, and she have the stick, and she go get it, too.

    [Daughter-in-law]: Well, all the homes at that time were built with walls around them. Do you remember how they built the homes with the glass that was on top?

    [Daughter-in-law]: Why did they do that, Dorothy, do you know?

    Johnson: I think it was to keep people off the walls, you mean the glass on top of the walls?

    [Daughter-in-law]: Yes, keep it private.

    Pesce: When, like I told you, my poor sister-in-law, she have a baby, when the powder it was - blow -

    [Daughter-in-law]: Explosion.

    Pesce: Is shaking all the houses, everything, all the glass it could fall, and everything, my poor sister-in-law she scared so much, she lost her baby. Like I told you, my brother was lucky, he was not killed. My brother-in-law, he was killed. Mrs. [Geroso's?] brother was killed over there.

    [Daughter-in-law]: Excuse me, Gram, I'm just starting to realize, perhaps I've never really been as interested, but why did they make explosives, for the war, were the du Ponts at that time making the munitions for the World War I?

    Pesce: Yeah, yeah, yeah, World War I. Like I told you, my husband, he was making pistole, then you send - for to put the powder to shoot.

    [Daughter-in-law]: He made the shell.

    Pesce: Yeah.

    [Daughter-in-law]: Then they would fill it with the powder.

    Pesce: Yeah. And like I told you, my brother was work at this, what they ship all the powder and everything. It was a horse, he come in, he pass the tracks, and it was...

    [Daughter-in-law]: Cause a spark.

    Pesce: Yeah, because the fire, it was fall on top - the horse make a spark, it shoot up in air, burn everything. The house, down where my - a lot fall and shake everything, make everything fall. And my brother was really lucky, he was not killed.

    [Daughter-in-law]: See, I never really thought about it, I remember you telling me about, never think of why they were doing it, but it was war time.

    Johnson: They even had women working for the du Ponts at that time just for the munitions.
  • Visiting Hagley since it opened as a museum; various children attending St. Joseph's and Alexis I. du Pont School
    Keywords: Alexis I. du Pont School; powder demonstrations; Saint Joseph on the Brandywine Roman Catholic Church; Squirrel Run
    Transcript: Pesce: Then down there, we have a - what my husband was work before, then they make it like du Pont they got everything - you could see the museum.

    [Daughter-in-law]: That's where she works, Mother, she works in the Library.

    Pesce: You work down there?

    Johnson: Yes.

    Pesce: At the museum?

    Johnson: In the museum now, yes.

    Pesce: Oh, we go down there a lot of times to look at the - everything, we go all around.

    Johnson: It would be really nice if you would come down sometime and tell people what you know - identify things for them and tell them the way it used to look.

    Pesce: Oh, I was - we was go walking down there, we was go look - we go what they got garden, they have everything down there, we was - there was no place that they go, I was go all over. We go - this garden, we go everything, what was here, what was there, and my husband was work down there before.

    [Daughter-in-law]: Do you still have the homes that people lived in?

    Johnson: Yes. Now, old Squirrel Run is gone, all the homes in Squirrel Run have been torn down. One of the du Ponts built an estate and took those all away.

    Pesce: Yeah, when we go next time, we go down there, we go, lot of things, what all become, what he should - it was a lot of things there.

    Johnson: Yes, they're trying to show how the powder was made. They have men demonstrating how it was done and they restored a steam engine there now and a power house.

    Pesce: All you was down there?

    Johnson: Yes.

    Pesce: My husband was, too. He was far away, have to go so many things, maybe we go down...

    [Daughter-in-law]: Well it wasn't the same when you lived there, of course, some of it changed.

    Pesce: We go all over, I go, there's no place I didn't go - you come with me, I don't know if she come or not.

    [Daughter-in-law]: I think we might have taken you when the children were, our children, were younger. I know our children were very small.

    Johnson: It would be nice if you could see the powder foreman's house, too, they're trying to restore that, the way it looked. He was there in the 1870's, so they're trying to make that look the way it looked in 1870. We have a schoolhouse there which would be - they didn't use that schoolhouse after 1856, so that was very early when they had the school, because there were no schools in Wilmington when they first had the powder mills, so then they had a school on Saturday.

    Pesce: My daughter, Anna, he go to Catholic teacher. My grandson, he go down there, what do you call it, du Pont - the big school, what do you call it?

    Johnson: Alexis I. du Pont?

    Pesce: I don't...

    [Daughter-in-law]: Who went there?

    Pesce: [Charseau?]

    [Daughter-in-law]: Oh, you mean your...

    Pesce: Not [Charseau?], what do you call it...

    [Daughter-in-law]: [Dauphine?]

    Pesce: [Dauphine?] - my friends was working Sunday...

    [Daughter-in-law]: They went to St. Joseph's, they went to the Catholic school.

    Pesce: Yeah, yeah. But - what do you call it - the other one - [Dauphine?] go...

    [Daughter-in-law]: Victor's children, Victor's boys.

    Pesce: Yeah.

    Johnson: After they went to St. Joseph's, a lot of them went on to high school and Alexis I. right - it was right there.

    [Daughter-in-law]: Well, by that time they had moved to Kennett, and some of the women were still there.

    Johnson: I'm gonna have to get another tape.