Interview with Louis J. "Primo" Robino, 1984 December 3 [audio](part 3)

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  • Hammock; flour; religion; music; leaving Squirrel Run
    Keywords: Avondale, Pennsylvania; Baccini family; Catholoicism; Kennett Square, Pennsylvania; mushroom growers; music; Perrone family; Protestantism; religion; Wilmington, Delaware
    Transcript: Meyers: We're on another tape, the other tape ran out.

    Robino: Yeah, I said there was no room in the front for the hammock because on account of the wood pile out there, the tubs for the clothes, you know, chair and stuff, didn't have no room for that. The hammock was in the woods between two trees, we had them up there. In other words, right behind the house.

    Meyers: Oil lamps, we talked that big oil lamp in the kitchen, and then you indicated that there were...

    Robino: And I said that there was a wall lamp, wall oil lamp on each - on the wall in each room.

    Meyers: In each room, in each bedroom where all those boarders slept and the rest of the family. And we've talked about this barrel of flour, I asked you about a keg and you said yes, you did have a...

    Robino: A keg to put the flour in.

    Meyers: Put the flour in, we talked about that earlier.

    Robino: Hundred pound keg it was.

    Meyers: And we just only talked just briefly about the outhouse, now tell me where that outhouse was.

    Robino: Well, in other words when you came off the porch, you'd go about 20-25 feet, it would be right out there in the woods, right near where the rabbits were at. It wasn't very far, but in the winter it was far enough, especially when it was cold and snow - ow- o-ow - brother. God bless the man that invented toilets.

    Meyers: You had a shaving mirror somewhere, where was it, where all of you men stood to shave?

    Robino: In the kitchen.

    Meyers: In the kitchen.

    Robino: In the kitchen, around where the water was at.

    Meyers: And was there one in those bedrooms where all those boarders slept?

    Robino: No, there was no shaving mirror.

    Meyers: Where did they shave?

    Robino: They shaved in the kitchen.

    Meyers: They all came down and shaved...

    Robino: Everybody got washed in the kitchen, got shaved in the kitchen, washed themselves and all, there was no other room to do that in.

    Meyers: All of you, including those half a dozen boarders?

    Robino: The men too, they came in from work, they took their clothes off, they washed themselves real good, or shaved, whatever they had an area there for it, go in their bedroom, put their clothes on, eat and go out. Wasn't anything fancy in them days, nobody had no money, everybody's trying to economize and trying to get ahead, so you had to suffer, that's all. Then they talk about the Puerto Ricans today being sixteen, eighteen, twenty in a house - Christ, we was worse than them.

    Meyers: Sounds like it.

    Robino: Only thing is, we didn't depend on no welfare and stuff, we did it on our own.

    Meyers: You said you didn't have any alarm clocks in the house, but you had one clock in the kitchen, was that the only clock in the house?

    Robino: That was the only one.

    Meyers: Now you had a Bible...

    Robino: Course my father had watches - pocket watch, so did the men, but the only clock in the house was that on the wall.

    Meyers: You had a Bible?

    Robino: No, we didn't, we're Catholics, we didn't believe in the Bible.

    Meyers: What do you mean, didn't believe in the Bible?

    Robino: Well, the Catholic people don't read the Bible.

    Meyers: They don't?

    Robino: No, we read what we call, when we go to the church, the Priest reads something out of the - oh, what do they call it now, some kind of name a book over there, he reads whatever he wants us to know, and that's it. We ain't supposed to know anything else, but only what's in that book.

    Meyers: I see, so you had no Bibles in the house.

    Robino: No, Bibles and stuff, we're not supposed to believe in it according to the Priest, but I go to the Protestant church too, I go to both, I go to Catholic and I go to Protestant.

    Meyers: I see.

    Robino: I want to find out what both of them are doing.

    Meyers: I see, so you did not have a crucifix either?

    Robino: Crucifix, yeah.

    Meyers: You did have a crucifix?

    Robino: Yeah, we had a crucifix, but no Bible. We had crucifix, we had candles, holy candles, you know, holy pictures.

    Meyers: Where were those, on the walls, pictures on the walls?

    Robino: In the bedroom the crucifix was over my father and mother's bed, and the holy pictures were on the wall.

    Meyers: Did you have just one crucifix in the house?

    Robino: One, that's all.

    Meyers: And that was in their bedroom.

    Robino: That's it, in their bedroom.

    Meyers: Was there a cradle for a baby?

    Robino: Yeah, in the bedroom, their bedroom.

    Meyers: Your parent's bedroom. We talked about your flooring there in the kitchen and you said that your mother would shine that up with lye, clean that with lye and make it almost white. So you had no oilcloth floor covering anywhere because of that?

    Robino: No, no oilcloth, no kind of rugs.

    Meyers: You mentioned how clean the floors were.

    Robino: First, they didn't have the money to buy them, and the next thing is, that was the next best thing they could do, keep them clean, that's all. One thing you could say about them people up there, they were clean, maybe they might have been poor, but they were clean.

    Meyers: Yes, I believe that, I believe that totally. You did not have an organ in your home?

    Robino: No.

    Meyers: You did play instruments, though. Some of you. You played an instrument, didn't you?

    Robino: Not then. I didn't play until I was fourteen.

    Meyers: I see, not while you were living there. Was there any sheet music in the house?

    Robino: Not that I recall. Once in a while a man would come over with an accordion, you know, and would play for a little gathering they got together, or a little sing-a-long, or a guitar player would come in, but that's all, that's the only kind of music I can recall, we never had none.

    Meyers: Well, Mr. Robino, we have finished this set of questions.

    Robino: Good.

    Meyers: And that's winding up the interview, my second time here to interview you, and this will wind this up today. Is there anything at all that you would care to add to this, any recollections that you might like to add to this?

    Robino: Only thing that I can add is when it came time for us to move, when the du Pont turned around and decided on building a big mansion up there, he wanted everybody out, everybody cried like babies, they ain't nobody wanted to leave. That's how close they were to one another. They wanted to be with one another. But then there was no alternative, some had to leave, come to Wilmington, some went to Kennett Square, some went to Avondale - that's where all your mushroom people are at today, all the people from over there.

    Meyers: From the powder yards area, left and went to...

    Robino: That's right that where the Baccini, the Perrone and all them people that you've got in that paper, they're all up there. All mushroom dealers -growers or dealers or something to do with the mushroom business. And the ones that came to Wilmington became contractors or different other things. But, that was one tight family up there and they didn't was to get broke up, but they had to go, had to go. Everybody hated to go, but that was it.

    Meyers: Do you still see any of those people from time to time?

    Robino: Two weeks ago I saw one. Man come in, he's trying to buy our plant, our plant's up for sale, my children don't want to bother with making ravioli anymore, they want to get out of it, so got the word around. This Perrone man came in, not the one in there, his brother, and he used to run the cannery up here - , but the co-op of all the mushroom people had him run it and he's a big time operator, and I seen him. And soon's he saw me he says, "You're a Robino. "How do you know?" "I still remember that face.

    Meyers: From those days in the Hagley Powder Yards area. Oh that's funny.

    Robino: I said, "You're Perrone."

    Meyers: Yes, well that's wonder. Well, this has been a real pleasure and I'm just so happy to have had this interview with you and I do thank you for your cooperation.

    Robino: You're quite welcome.

    Meyers: Thank you very much.

    Robino: Anything I can do, just call up and whatever I can do for you, I'll do it.

    Meyers: Well, thank you so much, Mr. Robino, it's been a real pleasure.