Interview with Herbert James Devenney, 1984 April 19 [audio]
- Getting ice delivered and taking care of the ice box; Neighborhood bully; Neighborhood hero; Devenney family's Irish origins; Parents' work ethic; Living conditions in Henry Clay; Buying and storing food; Attitude toward progress and new inventions; HatsKeywords: Blackberries; Brandywine Creek; Canning; Cellars; Cherries; Chores; Delaware Ice Company; Deliveries; Elderberries; Ferraro, Pierre; Foraging; Hats; Henry Clay (Del.: Village); Ice; Ice boxes; Immigration; Inventions; Ireland; Pigs; Progress; Sauerkraut; Sheds; Walker's Bank; Wilmington, Del; Work eithicTranscript: Myers: Where did you get your ice?
Devenney: As far back as I can remember it was delivered from Wilmington. Now, when I was a little baby or maybe before I was born, I don't know whether a lot of that ice was taken right off the Brandywine in wintertime. But in summer, I know there was deliveries from Wilmington. Delaware Ice Company, if I recall correctly.
Myers: Who emptied the ice box pan?
Devenney: (Laughter). Oh, that was a chore that we younger boys took care of everyday. That had to be done. I can't recall any food ever spoiling, either. We used to always have a big ice box.
Myers: Do you remember any stories about the neighborhood bully?
Myers: The bully of the neighborhood?
Myers: Do you remember who that was?
Devenney: Well, I shouldn't repeat names. The man is not living today.That was one of the Hodgson brothers -- the woolen mill --Daniel. He was considered the bully of the crick -- and he was. In fact, they gave him a nickname -- Dog.
Myers: What did he do?
Devenney: He was one of the co-owners of Hodgson's Woolen Mill. The two Hodgson brothers took it over after the cotton mill left there -- Walker's.
Myers: What are some of the things that you recall?
Devenney: What -- about the --
Myers: What he did.
Devenney: Well, this shouldn't go on no record. Do you want to shut it off, I'll tell you the reason why.
Myers: Mr. Devenney, was there a neighborhood hero that you can recall and can you perhaps tell me some stories about him?
Devenney: Yes, there was in my estimation. And we owe him a debt of gratitude and that's Pierre Ferraro. He lived in Walker's Banks and he worked in the powder yards and from the powder yards he went down to the Experimental Station. He was a blacksmith. This night my father was sitting on the wall over there by the old wooden bridge when a trolley car coming out -- the conductor went in and put off blacks -- men and women drunk. And they all had corn husking knives because they were going up -- back to the farm where they had to work cutting corn. And they spotted my father sitting along by the wall so they attacked him. And with all the yelling going on, Pierre Ferraro went over there -- that was before he lost his leg -- and if it wasn't for him coming upon the scene, they would have cut my father up badly. Which they did. They cut him all to pieces with them knives. In fact, that's why my father died later on with pneumonia -- he had no resistance to fight it. They cut pop all up. And Pierre Ferraro was the man who saved my father's life.
Devenney: Yep. Yep. Oh, incidentally, those blacks were chased and the police were brought in -- detectives from Wilmington -- and they arrested them later on. This is the God's truth.They arrested them later on and I don't know how many was arrested, but they were sentenced in the court of Wilmington and sent to the workhouse at Greenbank. And for years thereafter there used to be a minister and a woman from the church in Wilmington that used to come out and ask my mother to please sign for a pardon for them. And,boy, mom refused to do it. Yeah, my father never recovered from all them cuttings. Now that's something that really did happen. Yeah. And we owe Pierre Ferraro a debt of gratitude.
Myers: I'm sure you do.
Devenney: Yeah. He was a wonderful man. The whole family was. You know, it's a funny thing how Samuel and his wife -- I forget his wife's name -- they were Italians from Italy. They bore four children in that home. That's where they lived with their father and mother; that's where they were born and that's where all died -- right at the end home in Walker's Bank. The Ferraros. And it's a funny thing.They all carried the same name as a lot of the du Pont family.Pierre, Eugene, Madeline and Delaphine.
Myers: That's interesting.
Devenney: It is. And the father's name was Samuel, which is a coincidence but it so happened. Well, they couldn't have named them after any better people.
Myers: Your family did emigrate to America. Did they find what they expected to when they arrived here?
Devenney: Oh, my father said that it was a blessing to get out of Ireland. There was nothing there but poverty and stones.And of course, my mother's people came from England. They had a much better life. Yeah. Pop's people owned a farm in Moville -- outside the village of Moville -- in Donnegal. And later on in years, the brothers got together and sold it. Judge Bradford who was a lawyer and a judge in Wilmington settled all that estate. A 13-acre farm in Donnegal. Yeah.
Myers: Do you recall any people who returned to the old country after being in this country for a while?
Devenney: No, I don't. Either those old Irish people up there died at the Brandywine or moved in to Wilmington or Wilmington suburbs. No, I don't recall anyone ever going back to Ireland.
Myers: But those who stayed did have communication with the old country?
Devenney: Oh, I imagine they did, yes. Yes, the ones that were left in Ireland.
Myers: What was your parents' attitude towards work? Did they feel it was your duty to do it or did they feel they had a right to expect more out of a job than just pay? For example, you should derive some certain personal satisfaction from doing a good job.
Devenney: I'm sure they did. I'm sure they did.
Myers: And if they did something well, they'd like some acknowledgement from other people. What was their general attitude towards working?
Devenney: Oh, Edmond was glad to work for the DuPont Company. Not only in the mills, but in their plants later on.
Myers: What did they teach your family? What did your parents --
Devenney: And, of course, they stayed there until they closed their powder mills -- pop, too. and then he went to Bancroft. Edmond went on to the DuPont Company. I don't know whether he went to Betts's shop or one of the plants; I know he wound up at Carney's Point as a machinist. That was a powder-making place, too, I believe. They made cellulose and gun cotton, and so forth over there.
Myers: But they taught you to say everybody had to get out and earn his or her living. They taught you those principles,did they.
Devenney: Oh, they weren't afraid of work. Oh, yes. And I think did a good job. And I think they had nothing but respect for the company they worked for. I'm sure of that because they were treated right.
Myers: What did you feel about the living conditions in Henry Clay Village? The standard of living that you were exposed to?
Devenney: Oh, I thought it was O.K. Of course, at that time there wasn't too many conveniences, but I believe that everyone up there bettered their own property and their own selves through their own endeavors. And, of course, any repairs needed on the homes and all the DuPont Company took care of that.
Myers: Where did you buy food?
Devenney: Oh, golly, it was bought most of the time from the stores right along the Brandywine there which was all on Main Street, you know. And later on, of course, we carried groceries up from Delaware Avenue and then later on before we left the Brandywine, Glanding's big food market came out from Wilmington and delivered orders, you know. That's the last I recall because after that we left the Brandywine.
Myers: Where was the food stored and how was it stored?
Devenney: Well, of course we had ice boxes at that time. Later on electricity came in there -- refrigerators. Yeah.
Myers: Was there much spoilage of food?
Devenney: Not that I can recall. To tell you the truth, it never hung around long enough to spoil. (Laughter). And, of course, an awful lot of canning was made. They called it canning, but it was put up in jars. Ball Mason jars. Oh, that was another job and we boys had to do -- help with canning and pickling cherries and putting them up and making pies. Blackberries. Elderberries. Everything was put up. That crick was loaded with everything. Yep. That was another job I forgot to mention that the boys all helped with. And the sisters, too. Oh, gosh, yeah, I can still see those long rows of jars mom used to put up. Everything. And peaches -- when you could buy peaches.
Myers: Where did she keep all those jars of canned goods?
Devenney: Out in the shed that was in back -- yep. Everyone up there had a shed, either on the side or in back.
Myers: Most of it was all right -- very little spoiling?
Devenney: I can recall no spoilage. Of course, Pete Kindbeiter who was a German used to make sauerkraut -- right across the road in a shed there. My Lord, many a time I stole a handful of sauerkraut out of that big barrel.
Myers: I bet that was fun.
Devenney: Oh, and then later on they did have some pigs up in back of Johnny Dorman's store and we had one at that time. It was put up by some butcher from Centerville. Our pig was named Sampson, believe it or not. Yep. Of course,it was all salted down at that time, back in them years.Everything was salted down in a barrel. No, I recall no spoilage.
Myers: How do you or your family feel about progress?
Myers: Progress -- yes. Do you think new inventions coming on made things a lot better?
Devenney: Oh, I'm all for it. Yes sir. Everything benefited our lives. Everything that was new and innovative that reduced labor, care, worry.
Myers: Were there any inventions that you felt then were bad --they didn't do a great deal?
Devenney: Well, the only thing I can say that was bad that didn't do anything good was armaments. And every year they made them even worse, but that's the way the world lives. But all new inventions are a wonderful things. Gosh, I remember our first sewing machine. Oh, what a blessing! Oh, that was a blessing, the first sewing machine.
Myers: Tell me what that was like.
Devenney: Oh, God, now, I don't know who made. I don't know what kind it was. At that time I can recall only two. Singer and White made sewing machines, but I don't know what ours was. Of course, electric refrigeration -- that was amazing --that was really something -- do away with the ice box.
Myers: When we look at some of these old pictures, it seems that the men always had their hats on.
Devenney: Oh, yeah. The main hat in them days was the derby hat. A felt, hard derby hat. Of course, the younger boys they used the soft felt hats. There were quite a lot of dudes up there on the Brandywine, and a lot of good-looking men,too. And good-looking girls. Brandywine was loaded with good-looking people. Yep.
Myers: Your father wore a derby?
Devenney: Pop wore a derby. And so did Benjamin. Benjamin Thomas was the dude of our family. Yep. Yes, in fact, Edmond who was the oldest used to call him after his pet pony.
Myers: He was pretty proud of his hat?
Devenney: Yes, and his spats and -- Yeah -- Ben was the dude of the family.
Myers: Always wore it?
Devenney: Oh, yeah. Well, Saturday night was his big night -- go courting or in town.
Myers: What kind of hat would he wear to work?
Devenney: Well, that was either a cap or -- mostly caps. A great deal of them wore caps for work -- yeah.
Myers: Did women wear hats and scarves and --
Devenney: Oh, yes. Hats. Oh, yeah, most of the women's hats were large hats.
Myers: When did they wear those hats?
Devenney: Well, of course all during the winter months they wore hats.
Myers: And on Sunday to church?
Devenney: Oh, yes.
Myers: Never went hatless to church?
Devenney: No. No indeed.
- Foreman's clothes; Cosmetics; Family size; Clothes and jewelry; Memories of Joe Valentine; Contents of pockets; Neighborhood characters; Pets; Class in Henry ClayKeywords: Boston Terrier; Brooches; Class distinctions; Clothes; Cosmetics; Dogs; Dorman's store; Dresses; Earrings; Henry Clay (Del.: Village); Honey hunts; Jewelry; Penknives; Pets; Pocket watchesTranscript: Myers: Now would you say that a foreman and his family would dressed differently from the rest of the people?
Devenney: No, I wouldn't say that. Their life may have been a little bit better because their wages were a little higher. But everyone dressed pretty nicely up there. I can't recall any poverty up there at all.
Myers: If a man was promoted, would there be any changes that would come along?
Myers: The way he looked, the way he dressed, or the way he would act?
Devenney: Of course, I never worked in the mills or the labs, really can't answer that question.
Myers: Would you have heard discussion maybe about that?
Devenney: I don't think they kept aloof from their fellow workers just because they were supervisors or foremen.
Myers: Was a man proud of having working man's hands? To say that he earned his living by working with his hands -- was that something that made him really proud?
Devenney: Well, I don't know. I imagine the men in the powder they really liked the work or they wouldn't have stayed in where the danger was. So, I guess they were proud of their job.
Myers: Do you recall that women used cosmetics?
Devenney: Oh, yes, but I can't recall just what they were. My sisters,I know, all used creams of different sorts and I suppose -- I don't recall lipsticks. I guess they did at that time.
Devenney: Yeah, rouge, that's it. Yeah. Rouge. I can’ t recall lipstick. Rouge usually was put on the cheeks to give them a glow or something. As I recall. The girls up there all had beautiful hair, too. I always -- yeah -- beautiful hair.Yeah -- a lot of pretty girls on the old Brandywine.
Myers: Was there an ideal family size, would you say, or a number of children.
Devenney: Most of them were six-footers.
Myers: I don't mean by their stature, but I mean by the number in a family.
Devenney: Oh, most of them were large families -- I'd say from four to eight to nine or ten. Yeah. Any wheres from four on up.
Myers: So, you'd maybe have eight to ten children in a family?
Devenney: Oh, I imagine that would then be the tops -- ten, yeah.
Myers: What did you wear around the house?
Devenney: Overalls, dungarees, khaki or woolen shirts because when we were children we had to doff our school clothes, of course,so they wouldn't get ruined because they were too precious.Other than that, mackinaws, you know.
Myers: And your mother -- what would she wear?
Devenney: Just gingham dresses, sweaters. Yep.
Myers: Some of which she sewed herself?
Devenney: Oh, yeah. Mom was always busy. If she wasn’ t baking or housecleaning, she was sewing.
Myers: She sewed a lot for the family?
Myers: How about jewelry? Did many people have jewelry? Wedding bands? Pocket watches?
Devenney: Oh, pocket watches and wedding bands. That’ s about the only jewelry I can recall.
Myers: About the women? Did they ever wear earrings those days?
Devenney: Yeah, my sisters were earrings.
Myers: What type?
Devenney: Oh, I don't know. Can't recall. Probably something that wasn't too expensive like mother of pearl. Brooches. They always used a chain with a brooch -- is that the correct word -- a brooch? Usually with a picture in a cameo or something like that. Yeah, I recall that, but I can't recall any expensive jewelry because they couldn't afford it, anyhow.
Myers: Costume type.
Devenney: That's right, yes.
Myers: Would you happen to know, Mr. Devenney, whether men would wear rings when they were working around machinery?
Devenney: No. That was good common sense not to wear it.
Myers: You did not -- or your brother?
Myers: What about religious jewelry? Did your family wear religious jewelry?
Devenney: No, we didn't.
Myers: How about Sunday school pins? Odd Fellows pins?
Devenney: Well, I didn't belong to Odd Fellows. Neither did my brothers. Edmond belonged to Red Men. Later on became a Mason.
Myers: Did your family have a wagon?
Devenney: What do you mean by wagon? Do you mean a horse-drawn wagon? No. There was only one carriage up there on our side of the Brandywine.
Myers: And who owned that?
Devenney: Who owned that was Joe Valentine. He had a horse named Boxer and he had a carriage, you know, that you put the top down in back.
Myers: Who was Joe Valentine? Did he work in the yards? Joseph name Valentine, I don't child knowing that man as his name was?
Devenney: Well, you know I grew up as a Joe Valentine. You know what Tartarollo. Where he got the know, but everyone called him Joe Valentine. Yes, and he lived in the old stable in back of our home. There was a big old stable there where the DuPont Company used to keep the horses. And wagons. And later on when they disbanded the powder mills and everything the community house was disbanded and so was this big stable. And that's where Joe Valentine moved in; he was an Italian.
Myers: Lived there alone?
Devenney: Yep. Now this is what my oldest brother told me. He said one day Mrs. Copeland who owned all that property on that side of the crick -- that's Lammot duPont Copeland's mother --she used to make periodic visits to our homes -- look them over, you know. And so she came to the stable and, of course Joe Valentine was there so she entered to see and she looked around and this is the story -- I guess it's true. She said, "Mr. Valentine, where is your furniture?" There wasn't a stick of furniture in the place. All he had was two or three wine barrels and a couple cases. No furniture. She couldn't get over it. "Where is your furniture?" That was Mrs. Copeland. (Laughter).
Myers: That's interesting.
Devenney: Well, she was amazed that a man could live without furniture. Yep.
Myers: And did he ever get any?
Devenney: No. Joe Valentine eventually -- they tore that stable down,they put him out, of course, and tore the stable down. It was made out of Brandywine granite, too.
Myers: Mr. Devenney, do you recall what you carried in your pockets those days? Did you have a penknife?
Devenney: Oh, my Lord, yeah. Every kid had a penknife. Oh -- that was one thing was sadly lacking except when we found a lot of bones or bottles to sell to Pierre Ferraro -- and papers.That was another great thing, going around -- the people didn't want to save their Sunday papers and all -- and bundle them up, you know, and Pierre would buy them by the hundredweight, you know.
Myers: What did he do with all those papers?
Devenney: Eventually, Pierre sold them. Sold them -- and rags -- that was another thing. Because there was a sale for those things. Medicine bottles.
Myers: Did you have a lucky piece you carried?
Devenney: No. I don't think I ever owned anything.
Myers: I don't know whether you know what a woman would carry in her handbag or pocket -- do you recall as a young man what your mother would carry in her pocket.
Myers: In her pocket?In her pockets or her handbag?
Devenney: My mother. No, I don't recall.
Myers: Do you remember any characters in your neighborhood -- people that you'd say, "Oh, he's a character." "She's a character."
Devenney: Well, Joe Valentine was a character. Every Saturday night he went up to Squirrel Run with his own people, the Italians.And they'd drink three or four barrels of that dago red as it was called, and there would be Joe sound asleep on the carriage seat and Boxer would take him right to the stable door. Every Saturday night. And people would always get a big kick out of that horse bringing Joe home. Joe never even knew he got home. Yep, that's the truth. That's no-made-up story. That was a character -- Joe was.
Myers: Are there any others that you might mention as being a character?
Devenney: Johnny Dorman -- owned the Dorman's store was a character. He was a good character, though, I mean he was always putting on some bee hunt -- honey hunt, they called them. Bring some fellow out of Wilmington or something, you know,and go steal some farmer's honey. And, of course, he always got caught. Simon was the squire and they tried him there in the store and then they'd lock him up in back and some of them would always release him, you know. And then someone would fire a shotgun -- blank -- at him going up the hill. That was called the honey hunt. That went on for years. That's about the only thing -- let's see. Johnny Dorman.
Myers: Did you have any family pets?
Devenney: Oh, yeah. We had a bulldog. A Boston terrier. His name was Teddy.
Myers: How long did you have him?
Devenney: He was -- 14 years.
Myers: Where did you get him originally?
Devenney: Oh, God, pop got him somewhere. I don’ t know where pop got him but he was pop's dog.
Myers: Did you have any livestock?
Devenney: No, the only thing we had was rabbits. We didn't even have chickens. A lot of people had chickens up there on our side of the crick and Lundys had a goat. He was a mean, old goat. And he smelled to high heaven. He was mean, and his name was Sampson.
Myers: In that Henry Clay Village was there one street through there or road through there that was considered to be a better street than the others?
Devenney: I guess Main Street was.
Myers: Was the better street?
Devenney: I would say so, yeah.
Myers: Was there one that might be good?
Devenney: Well, there was only two streets and that was on Walker's Banks and it was just dirt. That's right. Eventually they did pave Main Street over there.
Myers: Do you recall when that took place?
Devenney: That was after -- no -- that was after I left the Brandywine. Yeah.
Myers: Was there a poor area?
Devenney: Well, none of them up there were affluent. Some shop keepers, average working people, tradesmen. I don't think anyone was affluent. And I don't think any of them -- no -- none of them were actually poor. Even if those people were living today, I don't think they would ask for welfare or anything because they weren't that type of people.
- Wearing eyelgasses; Going barefoot in the summer; Weddings; Babies; Local names for features of the landscape; Safety and crime; Traveling peddlers; Newspapers and magazines; NicknamesKeywords: Babies; Birth; Brandywine Creek; Crime; Evening Journal; Every Evening; Eyeglasses; Hanover Shoes; La Observator; Locks; Names; Nicknames; Peddlers; Safety; Shoes; Thundergust Run; Traveling salesmen; WeddingsTranscript: Myers: Mr. Devenney, did many people wear glasses in those days? Eyeglasses?
Devenney: Yeah, I recall. Yeah, a number of people had eyeglasses. So, I guess trouble with the eyes was back then as they are today.
Myers: All ages, in other words?
Devenney: Oh, yes.
Myers: Where did they get those? Downtown Wilmington?
Devenney: Oh, my God, where did glasses come from? I don't know. None of our family had glasses.
Myers: Did you wear them as a young boy?
Devenney: No. No, just lately that I had to buy glasses. I don't recall any of our family ever wearing glasses.
Myers: Do you remember in school some of the young children would wear glasses, but they didn't necessarily have to be young,would somebody tease them because they had to wear glasses?
Devenney: Oh, yes. That was an awful thing.
Myers: Was that a common thing?
Devenney: Yeah -- four eyes was usually the term applied. It was very crude, very rude, I think. And, of course, it was a shame because a lot --especially a boy -- a lot of activities he couldn't get into because of glasses.
Myers: Sports activities. Did you ever go bare foot?
Devenney: Oh, my Lord, yeah. I wish I had a dollar for every stone bruise I've had.
Myers: How often did that happen?
Devenney: Well, that happened whenever it warmed up enough that we could take our shoes off.
Myers: But you wore shoes to school?
Devenney: Oh, yes, that was compulsory.
Myers: Where did you get those shoes?
Devenney: Well later on, I recall, Hanover's in Wilmington. Everybody bought Hanover shoes because they were least expensive and they made them for children. Hanover shoes, I recall them.
Myers: They didn't make men's shoes and women's shoes at that time?
Devenney: Oh, yes, they did, but they also made children's shoes.
Myers: Do you remember what kind of shoes your parents wore at home?
Devenney: Black leather. That's all I can remember, black leather.
Myers: When young folks got married in those days, Mr. Devenney, what sort of things did they have to take care of immediately -- the necessary things had to be taken care of just prior to their being married?
Devenney: What was that question again?
Myers: Well, I was asking when young people were ready to get married, what sort of things were considered immediately necessary. They had to go get the license.
Devenney: Oh, yeah, preparations for a wedding, of course, legal things have to be taken care of. And at that time when I was a kid on the crick, I don't think physical or medical examinations were necessary. They are today. Although the things you find today I don't think were prevalent at that time. But other than getting the license and -- if you had a few dollars in the bank, of course, set up for a party or shindig. Mostly down at the community house or somewhere else and, of course, a place to live other than with the parents.
Myers: Did many of them live with their parents? What was the percentage?
Devenney: That I can't say. I know a lot of them did live with their in-laws.
Myers: Would you say more lived with their in-laws than not?
Devenney: I'd say most of them went off on their own.
Myers: Were they able to find a house?
Devenney: Well, there wasn't many houses on the Brandywine that wasn't occupied. So, I imagine the ones that did get married moved off -- into Wilmington or suburbs around there.
Myers: Well, before they were married, did they have parties for them like they do today? Did they have showers and --?
Devenney: Oh, yes. Oh, yeah.
Myers: All get together and bring presents?
Devenney: Oh, yeah. Certainly. Yes they did. Gosh, everyone knew each other on the Brandywine, anyhow. It was bound to happen.
Myers: Would they have to obtain permission of their parents in order to be married?
Devenney: Yes, it was done properly.
Myers: And how about, did they have to be a certain age. Did they have to have a house all ready to move into? Did they have to have a steady job?
Devenney: I don't ever remember young people getting married, I mean that weren't adults. They knew what they were doing; they were of age; most of them had jobs. Today it's a different story. It seems like a lot of marriages have to happen -- ill equipped -- no jobs, no nothing.
Myers: Now this question I'm going to ask is not very relevant to you since you were a young man living in that area, but you had sisters who were married eventually, do you recall what they had to do before a baby arrived?
Devenney: Well, Edith wasn't living at home. She was the first one married. And she moved to Wilmington. And she had her child in Wilmington. Ben was the second one got married, and of course, he moved to Union Street. There was no marriage there at our home at all. Mary never married, neither did Rebecca. Rebecca got ill -- pneumonia. That killed Rebecca.
Myers: Were there places in the neighborhood that had local names? For example, you might say a special rock that had a special name. A certain tree had a name. And maybe a place where you would go swimming. What would you call that?
Devenney: Oh, yes. There were places. Same as the hills. Now, these were names that were given by someone, and of course, you pick it up and as you grow older, it's passed on to the next one coming up. Like right down Walker's Bank was a shallow sandy place. It was called, "Girlie" because that's where all the children and the girls swam. Girlie. Across from that -- across the crick -- was called "Minnie". That’ s where all the larger boys swam and dove.
Myers: Minnie -- M-I-N-N-I-E?
Devenney: Yes, probably named because that's where the fishermen used to net their minnows down there. And that's where they caught them for fishing and it was called, "Minnie." There was small hills off the main road like. There was Lloyd's hill because Mr. Lloyd lived there. He was superintendent in the lower yard. There's no such a place listed in the archives of Delaware as Lloyd's Hill. Down at the base of the small hill going off to Walker's Bank lived Duke Bott. That was called Botts' Hill. Then there was Farrens who lived on another small hill going down to the woods, up towards the keg mill. Farrens' Hill. Known to all us boys.They're not listed in Delaware.
Myers: Can you think of any others? You gave me quite a few there.
Devenney: Thundergust run. That's not listed in any of New Castle County.
Myers: Tell me about that.
Devenney: That's a run that comes tumbling down along side of Brecks' Lane. Empties into the Brandywine, right by the community house, and it was well made because in the spring when that ice melted and them rains came, oh, boy, that thing was atorrent. And that was a local name given -- Thunder Gust Run.
Myers: Are there any others? You recalled several there and I appreciate those. Did you have a lock on your door?
Devenney: No. I don't think anyone ever looked their doors on the Brandywine. There was never --
Myers: In other words, you would say most people did not lock their doors?
Devenney: I'd bet money on it. We never looked ours. There was never any thievery or robberies up there or anything.
Myers: No crime at all?
Devenney: No, not that I know of.
Myers: Do you remember whether people, when they came to visit you,came to the back door or the front door?
Devenney: Oh, they had to come to the front door because that was --all them houses fronted on the road and the back door entered into the back yard or the field. They always came to the front door. Occasionally you had salesmen or peddlers that would come into the area.
Myers: Who were some of those people and what were they selling?
Devenney: Well, when I was a little kid, there was an old man -- I guess he was a Greek or a foreigner of some origin, wore a white uniform and a horse and wagon and he sold ice cream. Made by himself. Probably synthetic, I don't know what in the world it was. But one and two and three cents for a cone of ice cream. I remember him quite well.
Myers: Did he have a lot of flavors?
Devenney: Yeah, uh-huh, that's right.
Myers: What were some of them?
Devenney: Oh, Lord, I don't recall. Red, white, blue, you know, all kinds. Probably some kind of liquid same as they use in what they call Italian ice cream. It was more like Italian ice than ice cream. I recall him. And every now and then a man would come around with a pony with a saddle on him. And people would have their children sit up on the pony and have their picture taken. I have one taken when I was four, five or six years old. I have it upstairs. Corduroy coat -- they dressed me up in corduroy for that. And my sisters always teased me -- "Rabbit on the pony" they used to call me. Rabbit. (Laughter).
Myers: Did you have a coal man?
Devenney: Yeah, who in the devil delivered coal up there?
Myers: How about a fish peddler?
Devenney: Probably Delaware Ice -- probably sold coal, too. I know they used to shoot it into our cellar -- or bag it in.What was that other question?
Myers: A fish peddler -- did he come in? A fruit peddler?
Devenney: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. Horse and wagon and a fish man. That usually happened once a week, towards the end of the week because Friday was a great day -- Catholics always abstained from meat on Friday. Oh, yes, fish. You know, I bet if I heard this one time, I've heard it a thousand times. When someone is saying something or praising it to the sky or he's got the best, and the other fellow say he never heard a huckster holler, "Rotten fish," In other words, quit lying to me or quit building it up. That's the truth. I never heard a huckster holler, "Rotten fish." Did you?(Laughter). Fresh fish.
Myers: Did your family subscribe to any newspapers or magazines?
Devenney: Well, there was always a newspaper, of course. Ours was the Evening Journal. It leaned more toward the Republican Party. The Every Evening, the Democrat Party, and of course there was the Italian paper which I don't know. La Observator, which probably in English means The Observer.
Myers: And where would that paper come from?
Devenney: I don't know, either Philadelphia or New York. It came down to Lundy's and we had to serve it to the Italians.
Myers: Was that a daily paper?
Devenney: Yes it was. It came down. It was a small paper. It usually dealt with things that happened in Rome or the old country,you know, that was pertinent to the Italians.
Myers: Now you've already given me some nicknames that people had in that area. Can you think of any other nicknames for people in the neighborhood and how the people got those nicknames.
Devenney: Well, there's Stockle's goat. Joe Valentine -- how he got the name Joe Valentine, I don't know. That's a long ways from Tartarollo, isn't it? And, let me see. Well, there was Hickory Kindbeiter. Right name Joseph. Everyone called him Hickory. Gump Houghton. His name was Miles. Everyone called him Gump. Let me see. Oh, my Lord, Second Story Hanby. He played the bugle -- not a bugle, but a trumpet.And he rented the third floor off Enis Oatman who lived in back, next to Ferraro's. And he used to have the window open up there because of the heat and the trumpet would be outside and he would play it. You could hear it all over the crick. He got the name, Second Story Hanby, which actually was the third story from down below but second up above. Let's see, any others. See if I can think of anymore. Oh, there was a lot more, but I can't think of them.
- Haircuts and hairstyles; Description of rooms in the family home; Ghost stories; Most important lesson taught by Devenney's parents; Cherished possessions; Household objectsKeywords: Axes; Barbershops; Beds; Canning; Coffee pots; Connolly's barbershop.; Fluting irons; Furniture; Ghost stories; Haircuts; Hairstyles; Kettles; Kitchens; Lessons; Mouse traps; Music; Pans; Parents; Parlors; Respect; Sears-Roebuck catalog; Stoves; Towel racks; Toys; Victorlas; WagonsTranscript: Myers: Where did you go to get your haircut?
Devenney: Mr. John Thompson cut all us boys hair. He used to do that for the children. He lived in the yellow house across from Dorman's grocery store. And later on we went to John Connolly's barber shop which was in the Black Cat which is in this book here.
Myers: Where's the Black Cat?
Devenney: Well, that was near Pat Dougherty's saloon. In that building.That building is still standing today. John Connolly's barbershop.
Myers: Did the men go to one place and the women to another?
Devenney: All the men went to the barber shop. I don't know where in the world -- where in the world did the women get their hair fixed? Where in the world was it? Oh, I guess they fixed their own. Guess everyone had their curlers and irons.
Myers: Cut their hair and curled it?
Devenney: Yeah. I remember my sisters used to do each other's hair.With curlers and irons.
Myers: Did they dye their hair in those days?
Devenney: My sisters never did. They all had beautiful hair.
Myers: Permanent waves?
Devenney: The only wave they could make in it was with these irons.
Myers: Was there a certain kind of hairstyle that they considered proper for women?
Devenney: A lot of girls up there wore their hair long, you know, and then they'd make a bun or bring it up on top or --
Devenney: Yeah, my sister Mary -- her hair was never touched. She had beautiful hair and she always wore it long, but Edie and Becky always had their hair done up.
Myers: Was there an improper hairdo?
Devenney: I can't recall any -- improper hairdo -- no.
Myers: When you think about your kitchen and your living room and parlor, Mr. Devenney, thinking back, what would be the main object in each of those rooms. Let’ s take your kitchen.
Devenney: Well, the kitchen was the big cook stove which all of them had big cast iron cook stoves. That was the dominant thing.Then we had a kitchenette or shed in back which contained the coal oil stove which was used for various things. But that stove was the dominant factor there, plus that great big table that held 10 people. And the chairs around it and the pictures on the wall and a big living room. Of course,it was a double house and it had a large living room. And it was heated with a coal oil stove or kerosene.
Myers: What would be the main object in the living room?
Devenney: The main object in that was the Victrola with the records --John McCormick, Enrico Caruso and all of them. Yep.
Myers: Did you play that pretty often?
Devenney: Oh, they played it all the time. That was entertainment in the evening, when Ben wasn't beating on the drums -- or Edmond, rather, and Ben with his mandolin. Oh, Ben played the mandolin every night before he got married and left. Took his mandolin with him, too.
Myers: You missed that.
Myers: Did you have a parlor?
Devenney: Oh, that was the parlor. Well, today we refer to it as the living room. That was the parlor. That's where the girls entertained their boyfriends, too.
Myers: So, the living room and the parlor were all in one?
Devenney: And that's where all the best furniture was, too, you know.
Myers: But that was one room? The living room and the parlor?
Devenney: Yes, they had a main entrance out to the stoop there, too. The porch went all the way along.
Myers: Do you remember any ghost stories in those days, that as a child you would be told ghost stories or something about supernatural? They tried to scare children -- did they do that in those days?
Devenney: Well, they may have, but I don't recall it. I know this that whenever we would be over by Dorman's store killing the evening before we had to come home at nine o'clock and go to bed, coming through that bridge which very rarely had lights in it, we would get 60-mile an hour speed with our feet and go hurdle through that. Any ghost in that bridge could never catch us. Oh, that dark bridge.
Myers: Did anyone ever say there were ghosts down there in the powder yards?
Devenney: I don't recall anything. I don't know. Maybe ghosts of the men who went up in the air with explosions.
Myers: What was the most important thing in all your recollections that your parents taught you?
Devenney: Well, there was a lot of things. You could wrap it up in one thing, I guess, and that is respect. Along with that came obedience, love, honesty. I don't recall any boys on the crick that I could say were smart little crooks. They were all -- I don't remember any of them ever stealing or anything. That's the thing that's sadly lacking today.
Myers: What was your most cherished possession as a child?
Devenney: Oh, God, that's easy. The first wagon we ever got. It was used to haul groceries later on, you know, and also going up and down Lloyd's Hill on it. Yep. There was quite a number of fellows had wagons. They were used for all kinds of purposes, you know, as well as riding in them. Oh, Lord yeah, the wagon. We never owned a bicycle.
Myers: Were there many bicycles?
Devenney: No, not very many bicycles.
Myers: Do you recall what was your mother's and your father's most cherished possessions?
Devenney: I just can't put my finger on that. Of course, there was one thing and that, of course, was the children. That was the most cherished possession of all. But as far as material wealth, I can't say that I could put my finger on anything.
Myers: What was the most popular homemade toy?
Devenney: My God, the whistle. Made out of of wood where you could cut into it -- yeah. Everyone made their own whistles.
Myers: How about the most popular store-bought toy?
Devenney: Oh, that was -- one of them was the top -- the spinning top,with the string. Yeah. You had to get on smooth surface to use it. Everyone had --
Myers: What was your favorite toy?
Devenney: Well, I guess that red wagon, if you can call it a toy. It was a very useful toy and also a lot of enjoyment out of it, going up and down them hills, especially Lloyd's Hill. We always had to take good care of it because it was used for hauling, groceries, and so forth.
Myers: What object in your home was the most beautiful?
Devenney: Well, looking at it from the eye of a boy, I'd say mom's 12 loaves of homemade bread out on that table. And then, of course, the thing that was most revered of all and the most taken care of was the big glorious Victrola which was played every night. Other than that we had pictures, but I can't recall whether I would classify them as beautiful or not. I don't know.
Myers: What would you say was the most expensive thing in your parents' home?
Devenney: The most expensive thing. The most expensive thing I would assume would be the beds. And they were all large, great big beds. And they were -- I imagine they cost mom and pop plenty to buy beds. They were about the most expensive item that everyone had up there. And that was an essential thing. Is that the third question?
Myers: Thank you very much, Mr. Devenney, for the time you've given me.
Devenney: Oh, you're welcome, Mrs. Myers. I enjoyed doing it. I hope it's helpful and beneficial to you girls what you re doing
Myers: Mr. Devenney, I have a list of objects here and I'd like to find out whether you had these in your home. Number one is an axe. Did you own an axe?
Devenney: Oh, yes.
Myers: And where was that kept?
Devenney: That was kept in the -- one of the two cellars which our home had, along with other tools, gardening tools, and so forth.
Myers: Did you have a gem pan or muffin tins?
Devenney: Oh, muffin tins, oh, yes.
Devenney: Oh, yeah, quite a few of them if I recall, along with a bread pan which were tin, incidentally.
Myers: A coffee pot?
Devenney: Oh, yes.
Myers: How about a kettle?
Devenney: Oh, yes.
Myers: More than one?
Devenney: Oh, yes.
Myers: And made of what?
Devenney: Tin and agate.
Myers: A dish pan?
Devenney: Oh, Lordy, yes.
Myers: Different sizes?
Myers: A towel rack?
Devenney: Oh, yes.
Myers: How many of those did you have? Let's see, there was one out in the back kitchen and in where the dining area and the cooking area there was one, two back of the stove and one by big mirror -- three -- three racks -- towels. That was one of the things that were washed a great deal.
Myers: We discussed the fluting iron.
Devenney: That I don't remember anything about it.
Myers: Mason jars?
Devenney: Oh, yes.
Myers: Did your mother can a lot?
Myers: What did she can?
Devenney: Cherries, peaches, let's see what else did mom. We all helped mom put all that stuff up. Oh, fruit that could be purchased and used during the winter. Probably also pears,too. Also, incidentally, pears and peaches we would findup on a farm in back, without buying them. (Laughter).
Myers: You did not have your own fruit trees?
Devenney: No. No, we didn't.
Myers: How about Sears catalogue?
Devenney: Oh, yes, we had them.
Myers: Mouse trap?
Devenney: Oh, yes.
Myers: Where did you put the mouse trap?
Devenney: Oh, they were used throughout various parts of the house to make sure those varmints were kept under control.
Myers: It was a real source of irritation?
Devenney: Yes, you see we were surrounded by fields, and naturally that's a habitat of mice.
Myers: Did they do any damage in your house?
Devenney: I don't think they ever did. Everyone did up there. I can’ t recall any. We kept them under control.
- Household objects 2Keywords: Almanacs; Boot jacks; Buckets; Christmas; Closets; Clothes pins; Coat stands; Eating utensils; Egg beaters; Farmer's Almanac; Furniture; Goose grease; Hat stands; Ice boxes; Ironing boards; Irons (Pressing); Matches; McMahon Brothers; Oil lamps; Pitchers; Settees; Shoe repair; Soapstone griddles; Spice boxes; Stoves; Tables; Telephones; Washboards; Washtubs; WringersTranscript: Myers: A wall telephone?
Devenney: No. We never did have one installed. The first one I recall on the Walker's Bank side that was installed was in Kindbeiter's. And --
Myers: Kindbeiter's? Would you spell that.
Devenney: Kindbeiter's, yeah, they lived close to us.
Myers: Would you spell that.
Devenney: K-I-N-D-B-E-I-T-E-R. They were German. And everyone used their phone. Then later on the Ferraros had a phone in because Madeline became a seamstress.
Devenney: Yes, Ferraro.
Myers: Hat and coat stands?
Devenney: We had them. We had them upstairs and down.We were very fortunate. Oh, my God, yeah. And we also had closets.
Myers: Several closets?
Devenney: Oh, quite a few closets. I remember quite well in that large home. Yeah.
Myers: Oil lamps?
Devenney: Oh, yes. We had oil lamps down and up -- before we got electricity. into the home.
Myers: How about a soapstone griddle?
Devenney: Yes, we did.
Myers: Where did you keep that?
Devenney: That was kept out in the second kitchen.
Myers: What did you use that for?
Devenney: Oh, mom used that for -- if I recall that was the same soapstone griddle that she made buckwheat cakes on. I'm positive. That and she had a couple big steel griddles --or iron griddles, not steel. Soapstone griddle can be used for most any kind of cooking that's on a wood stove.
Myers: A cherry pitter?
Devenney: That I don't recall. I know cherries were pitted one way or another because many a bucket of cherries we brought down from way back in the field there. There were plenty of cherry trees up there. Sweet cherries, also.
Myers: How about an iron ring or a trivet?
Devenney: I can't recall that.
Myers: A cabbage slicer?
Devenney: No, that was done with the old carving knife.
Myers: Do you recall a Green's Almanac?
Devenney: Offhand, I can't.
Myers: Do you recall any almanac?
Devenney: I know we had them in that house, yes. Almanacs. Farmers' Almanac. Oh, yeah, but Green's Almanac, I can't recall. The Farmer's Almanac, yeah. It dealt a great deal with predictions of weather, and so forth. It still does, today,I believe, doesn't it?
Myers: High chairs?
Devenney: Yes, we did have high chairs and they remained in that house until we moved and left when we grew up. They like the settees were destroyed or sold or done something with. We had two -- three settees.
Myers: Butter molds?
Devenney: No, I can't recall butter molds.
Myers: An ice box?
Devenney: Oh, yes. We had two of them if I recall.
Myers: Where did you keep those?
Devenney: One was in the main cooking area or living area -- that's where the large cook stove was. And where we all had our breakfast, lunch and supper. And the other was kept in the second kitchen in back.
Myers: Egg beater?
Devenney: Oh, yes.
Myers: You had more than one of those?
Devenney: I don't know, but I do recall the egg beater, yes.
Devenney: Oh, pitchers, oh, yes.
Myers: Made out of what?
Devenney: What was used -- clay, I suppose. Hard clay that was fired. And usually white. Pitchers were usually white.
Myers: Carving fork?
Devenney: Carving fork? I don't know. If I recall, we had plenty of those long forks for holding a piece of pork or beef or a goose, you know, for carving so your hand would be away from it. Oh, I guess we must have had plenty of them.
Myers: Several of those?
Devenney: Yes. Because my father was very fond of goose and so at Christmas season we never went without a goose.I recall that quite well.
Myers: Where would you get them?
Devenney: They were bought in town, either that or they were ordered from someone . Yep. Never failed to get the goose. It had a dual purpose. The goose grease is made from it, you know, for chest colds, and so forth.
Myers: A table.
Devenney: The main, important table was the one that was in the dining area and the cooking area. It was a very large one because it had to seat the whole family. And then we had a table in the living room. It was a much more expensive and more beautiful table. Yeah, we had a beautiful living room out there. Yeah. The girls were working then and they saw to it that the good furniture was bought then. Reminds me of old McMahon Brothers. I believe that's where all that furniture came from. Used to be on King Street, I believe. McMahon Brothers. Did you ever hear of that?
Devenney: Downtown Wilmington. Yeah, Wilmington, yeah.
Myers: How about stools? Do you recall any stools in your home?
Devenney: Yes, there was stools. Stools of all shapes and kinds. There was stools where large containers for heating water sat upon. There were stools for shining the shoes. That was the job all us younger boys had -- keep the older ones' shoes shined and cleaned up. Yes. There was stools, all right.
Myers: And you had a cook stove?
Devenney: Yes, we had two.
Myers: Where were they both located; were they in different areas?
Devenney: No. One was in the main room, the cooking area, and the other was out in the second kitchen along with an oil stove or coal stove as we called them then. And later on that was done away with and we just used the main big stove in the dining area.
Myers: That was a coal stove, also?
Devenney: Yeah, it was coal and wood.
Myers: Do you remember a stove lid lifter?
Devenney: Oh, yes. Yes, indeed. That was necessary.
Myers: An iron? What type of iron?
Devenney: Well, in the beginning before electricity it was just a plain old iron with a coiled handle which she always had to use a Cloth to handle it with because it got just as hot as the bottom of the iron. Oh, yes. All the pressing was done with those until electricity came along. And the before we moved, there was electric irons.
Myers: How about an iron heater? How did you heat those irons?
Devenney: Oh, on the cook stove.
Myers: A match keeper?
Devenney: Oh, yes. They were made of tin, usually with pictures on them.
Myers: What kind of pictures?
Devenney: Oh, scenes -- winter scene or something like that. Yeah.
Myers: Where did you have that?
Devenney: In the dining area, by the cook stove, and one out in the second kitchen in back.
Myers: Hanging up?
Devenney: Yeah. On to the wall with a hook and it had to be. That was a safety feature, that tin. You know they were long striking matches -- blue tips.
Myers: Did you have a wooden churn?
Devenney: No. I can't recall a wooden churn.
Myers: An ironing board?
Devenney: Oh, yes. Oh, my Lord, yes.
Myers: Clothes pins?
Devenney: Oh, my Lord, yes. Plenty of them.
Myers: Spice box?
Devenney: Yeah, mom did have one of them. Now what spices were in them I can't recall.
Myers: A washboard?
Devenney: My, Lord, yes. They were made out of zinc, believe it or not.
Myers: How many of those?
Devenney: Well, there was always one or two of them there. In fact, was one of the things that you were continually buying. You wore them out.
Myers: Coffee grinder?
Devenney: No. Our coffee was purchased all the time.
Devenney: Either at one of the stores on the Brandywine or whenever shopping was done in town.
Myers: Did you have a wringer?
Devenney: Oh, yes. It was one of those ancient gadgets that was fastened on to a table back there. And the clothes were wrung out of two tubs, one to catch all the water and the other to catch the clothes for hanging out. Yep. You're bringing back memories.
Myers: I expect. We're trying to do that. How about a wooden bucket?
Devenney: I can't recall wooden buckets. We had plenty of tin buckets.
Myers: All different sizes?
Devenney: We may have had wooden buckets because they were useful at that time; they still made them.
Myers: A boot jack?
Devenney: Oh, yes. We had one because a lot of our shoes were repaired right at home, you know.
Myers: Who did that?
Devenney: Pop used to do it, and Ben. Benjamin was good at shoe repair. The second oldest brother.
Myers: That was used frequently?
Devenney: Yes it was. It had to be.
- Household objects 3; Describing the attic and sleeping quarters; Having two cellarsKeywords: Attics; Baking dishes; Bayer Aspirin; Bedrooms; Bowsaws; Bucksaws; Card games; Cellars; Chairs; Checkers; Clocks; Dewing boards; Dishes; Hatchets; Hats; Hutches; Ice tongs; Kegs; Kerosene; Kettles; Lunch buckets; Medicine; Oil lamps; Paintings; Phillip's Milk of Magnesia; Pin cushions; Rugs; Saws; Sloans' Liniment; Tea; William of OrangeTranscript: Myers: Do you recall a hutch?
Devenney: We had built-in closets and we also had other closets for storing garments.
Myers: No, a hutch of that nature, like you have.
Devenney: Yeah. There's different types of hutches -- they're open. Yes, we had them.
Myers: How many of those?
Devenney: Let’ s see. We had one in the dining area and one in the living room. That's the only two that I can recall.
Myers: How about kerosene lamps. How many of those did you have?
Devenney: They were upstairs on the second landing. None were allowed in the attic. Second landing, let's see, there was two of them up there. One at the head of the stairs going up, the other one between the bedrooms. That's two of them. And one, two downstairs. That would make four oil lamps. Oh, Lord, we had them.
Myers: Did you have sleeping space in your attic?
Devenney: Oh, yes.
Myers: You were able to accommodate people in the attic?
Devenney: Oh, yes. That's where all the youngsters slept.
Myers: How many slept up there?
Devenney: Well, there was George, I, Tommy, and Bobby. The downstairs until the oldest ones started to get married, they slept on the second floor.
Myers: That attic, was that partitioned off?
Devenney: It was partitioned off. A doorway between one section and another.
Myers: How about a bowler hat?
Devenney: Oh, yes. I recall them. They're derbies, you know. My father wore one, and later on as Benjamin grew up --the second oldest son -- he wore it. He was quite a dude.
Myers: Tell me something about the lunch bucket.
Devenney: They were made out of tin and some were oval and some weren't. Gosh, we all had containers for sandwiches.
Myers: You carried a beverage in there, too?
Devenney: Yes. Yes, we did.
Myers: Ice tongs?
Devenney: Yes, we did have ice tongs. Yes, we did. I tell you the reason why we did have them. We often times had to move that great, big piece of ice in each one of the boxes for different reasons as it melted, you know. Ice tongs. Yep.
Myers: Straight chairs?
Devenney: Oh, my Lord, yes.
Devenney: Yes. In fact, all the dining area that's all it was, straight chairs.
Myers: Medicine chest?
Devenney: Yes, we had that.
Myers: Kept where?
Devenney: That was kept in the main cooking area, a lot of times. I imagine everyone up on that Brandywine had a medicine chest --you had to doctor yourself, you know.
Myers: Can you recall some of the things you had in that medicine chest?
Devenney: Oh, God. Sloan's Liniment for one. Let's see.
Myers: Any laxatives?
Devenney: Yeah, I'm trying to think of it. It used to come in a bluebottle. Phillips Milk of Magnesia.
Devenney: I guess it was Bayer's, I don't know. Yes, I guess there was. Yep. But there was aspirin tablets at that time. And various salves for different stuff and --
Myers: Did you have a shelf clock?
Devenney: Oh, yes. And you know it's a shame that those things weren't saved. It was a beautiful old clock and it said one side --it had a long mantle going in back of the cook stove and out on to the side and that clock used to sit there so that anyone could see it from any part of the room. Yeah. It had, as I recall, a beautiful chime, too. And then we had another clock similar to that in the living room. Yep. They're the only two clocks I recall except the alarm clock. Which was always set by hand.
Myers: Did you have a milk can -- a tin milk can?
Devenney: No. No we did not. About the only place you would find them would be on farms. You're talking about a big milk container 10-12 gallon. No.
Myers: Did your mother have a sewing board that she would put in her lap?
Devenney: Sewing board. You know, Mrs. Myers, I believe she did, yeah. It was always kept with her needles and pins and pin cushion. Yeah. Gosh, she did enough sewing.
Myers: Could you describe that?
Devenney: It was a square board, if I remember correctly. I'm positive it was square, yes. What was it made out of, I don't know. It was nothing but a plain, non-splintered board. Yeah. Lord, yes. Mom always had clothes in her lap. Doing something with them.
Myers: How many tea kettles did you have?
Devenney: Oh, good heavens. Oh, we must have had three or four of those.
Myers: Do you recall casseroles -- the bean-pot type casseroles?
Devenney: Well, I was going to say -- yes, we had dishes for baking and at that time I don't think they were called casseroles. They were just baking pots, that's all, for beans, and you know like baked beans, cooking stews -- anything that was done above -- on top of the stove, you know.
Myers: Tell me something about the dishes you used.
Devenney: Well, at that time most of the dishes were bought for lasting purposes. They had to be very durable, you know. I guess they were all ironstone china. That's about the only way I can describe them. Not till we grew up and started to move and had our own place did we select china of more value, you know. At that time we had to buy things that would last.
Myers: Do you recall any paintings?
Devenney: Oh, yes. Yes, I do. Well, you know, my father was of the Protestant Irish. So, when he left Ireland with his brothers and daughters, of course, he brought a picture of King Billy, they called him, William of Orange. He actually was a Holland Dutchman; he wasn't Irish at all. Yeah, that hung up in our house for years and years. And later on when Edmond was presented that picture of the paddle wagon, that was hung up there. And, let's see, now there was other pictures around, Mrs. Myers, but right at – without taking time to think, I can't recall just what they were.
Myers: Did you have a creamer and a sugar bowl?
Devenney: Oh, yes. Yes, we did.
Myers: Tea pot?
Devenney: Um-hmmm. Yeah. I imagine we drank more tea than coffee on the old Brandywine.
Myers: How about a hatchet?
Devenney: Oh, yes, we had a hatchet.
Myers: Where did you keep that hatchet?
Devenney: That was kept with all the tools. Down in -- we had two cellars underneath the long porch. One was for wood and coal and the other was for garden instruments -- or rather garden tools -- odd and ends; our saws. We had three types of saws. One was the buck saw as we called it. Some people call it a bow saw.
Myers: I was going to ask you about a bow saw. You did have a bowsaw?
Devenney: Oh, yes. Well, we called it a buck saw. And a straight saw and then a long saw for crosscut.
Myers: You mention you had two cellars, will you tell me about that.
Devenney: Yes we did. That was the reason -- see the home was converted from two homes into one.
Myers: Were these cellars at different levels?
Myers: Yes, the cellars were on the ground level. That road came along to Walker's Mill and all. That cellar extended. It was right level with the road and there was steps going up into the parlor. Parlor (Laughter); They call it living room now. And the other steps went up the other side of the porch and entered into our dining and cooking area.
Myers: Did you have a rocking chair?
Devenney: Oh, my Lord, yes.
Myers: More than one?
Devenney: Oh, yeah. They were downstairs and upstairs.
Myers: Where would they be in the living area?
Devenney: Well, wherever and if I remember correctly they were painted white.
Myers: In your kitchen, as well?
Myers: How about a wood box?
Devenney: Oh, my Lord, yes. That was one of our duties to keep that thing filled.
Myers: Did you all have Checkerboards?
Myers: Checkerboards to play your game with?
Devenney: Oh, Oh, Oh, certainly. I was thinking of something entirely different. Oh, my Lord, yes, that was a favorite game.
Myers: You played that often?
Devenney: Yeah. About the only game we knew with cards was -- kids, I guess, was old Maids and stuff like that. And the older boys played different card games there at home. What in the world were they called? Bumps was one, now what that was I can't recall. Bumps was one of them. With cards.
Myers: Did you have any prints? Do you recall any.
Devenney: Well, that reverts back to that third or fourth question awhile back -- pictures. Yes, we did have prints on the wall but I just can't recall what they were. Yeah, we were great for pictures, anyway.
Myers: Did you have a braided rug?
Devenney: Yeah, that's all we had. A woven rug.
Myers: Did your mother make any?
Devenney: No, she did not. No. They were bought.
Myers: Did you have a keg?
Devenney: Yes, we did. They were a handy container for almost anything -- nails, odd and ends and everything. I'll tell you something a lot of them had up there --they had rain barrels. We never bothered with one. That's a funny thing -- I recall that now -- a rain barrel underneath the down spout. I'll be darned. Yes, we had kegs.
Myers: Did you have a dough table?
Devenney: A dough?
Myers: I imagine that question refers to baking of bread and kneading of dough?
Devenney: No, mom did that on her big table.
Myers: You didn't have a separate table?
Devenney: No. It was kneaded right on there.
- Household objects 4Keywords: Armchairs; Autograph albums; Bamboo fans; Biscuits; Blankets; Brass beds; Cameras; Chamber pots; Chests of drawers; Cigars; Courier and Ives prints; Crewel work; Curtains; Dippers; Eating utensils; Embroidery; Furniture; Ice picks; Ice skates; Larkin Company; McMahon Brothers; Pans; Pokers; Pot-bellied stoves; Quilts; Rolling pins; Samplers; Shelves; Slide viewers; Smoking pipes; Sofas; Spitoons; Tobacco; Wash basinsTranscript: Myers: Did you have an iron poker?
Devenney: Oh, yes.
Myers: And a frying pan?
Devenney: Oh, a multitude of those darn things. They were all wrought iron.
Myers: Real heavy?
Devenney: Yes, iron skillet. We referred to them as Skillets.
Myers: How about a hanging shelf?
Devenney: A hanging shelf. Well, the shelves were fastened on to the wall. They contained almost anything -- odds and ends, cups, most anything. Knick-knacks. Oh, yes. I recall them.
Myers: Did you have a dipper or a ladle?
Devenney: Yeah, we had dippers.
Myers: What were they made of?
Devenney: If I recall, they were made out of tin. Yep. Before water was put in the house, that's how you drank out of a bucket. With a dipper. And the water was always heated.
Myers: An ice pick?
Devenney: Oh, yes.
Myers: A rolling pin?
Devenney: And I can see my mother rolling dough out. Yeah. A rolling pin. Oh, my oh, my Lord, yes, for pie crust. Baking pies. Lord, yes.
Myers: Biscuit cutters?
Devenney: Yeah, Now, I can't recall what it looked like, Mrs. Myers, because mom always used to make breakfast, you know. Biscuits. biscuits. That was part of -- Oh, my Lord, yes.
Myers: Did you have them every morning for breakfast?
Devenney: I can't say we had them every morning. I don't know, whether it was every morning or not.
Myers: Did you have a coffee roaster?
Devenney: Coffee roaster. Well, you know, of course, if I remember correctly, we had two large coffee pots, but as far as a roaster goes, no.
Myers: Do you recall any bone handled forks?
Devenney: Oh, my Lord, yes. In fact, a great deal of the eating tools were bone handled. You know, those things should have been saved. Oh, my Lord, yes.
Myers: And your knives were bone handled?
Myers: Did you have a viewer that you could look through and see slides?
Devenney: Oh, yeah, later on we did. That was one of the pleasures of the evening. Yep.
Myers: What were some of the slides?
Devenney: Oh, Lord, I can't say that I recall just what they were.
Myers: How about an arm chair and a side chair?
Devenney: Arm chair. Yes, we had them in the parlor. Arm chairs. Yes, that's what they were called back at that time -- armchairs. You know why? Because they did have arms extending out for the resting of your arms on them. Arm chairs. I'll be darned. Yeah.
Myers: And side chairs, as well.
Devenney: Yes. Yes.
Myers: Did you have a love seat?
Devenney: Well, Mrs. Myers. I can't recall a love seat referred to as it is today. We had sofas. I guess enough loving was done; the girls grew up on them. So, I guess you could refer to them as a love seat.
Myers: You're familiar with the Courier and Ives prints. We still see them today. Did you have any of them?
Devenney: Yes, we did. Now, you know something, I'll bet you some of them were on the wall. Yes. Courier and Ives. I'll be darned. Yes. You're right.
Myers: Did you have a spittoon and if you did, where did you keep it?
Devenney: Well, that went wherever pop went -- whether it was on the porch, in the kitchen or where. And later on Benjamin used a spittoon. None of the other boys chewed tobacco. He was the only one outside of pop. And when he went, the spittoon went.
Myers: Did he smoke a pipe?
Devenney: No, he smoked cigars.
Myers: Your father?
Devenney: My father. No, he was a pipe smoker. Benjamin smoked cigars. I don't recall Edmond or any of the other boys smoking at all. They were the only two.
Myers: Did you have an autograph album?
Devenney: Yes, the girls had one later on because -- who had that camera? I guess it was Mary. One of them old box cameras. Later on. Yeah. There was a photo album. You know that was destroyed, too, somehow or other. When we all moved and separated. Yes, there was.
Myers: Do you recall the samplers, the embroidered samplers that they had in those days? Did you have one of those?
Devenney: Yeah. They were made out of cotton. What in the world were they used for? Yeah.
Devenney: Yes. I guess they were used for anything -- pot holders or anything, you know.
Myers: Were some of them hanging on the wall, maybe in a frame?
Devenney: I don't recall them being framed. They were hung on the wall, all right. They are decorative. Yeah. You know, I never thought about that. I wonder who thought about bringing that question out?
Myers: Well, I really don't know. Did you have a wooden bowl?
Devenney: Wooden bowls, oh, yes. Several.
Myers: And a pot-bellied stove?
Devenney: Yeah. That was in the parlor. Yeah. They were usually a prettier looking stove.
Myers: And you'd put wood in there, as well as coal?
Devenney: Same as the parlor stove. Yeah. That's how we heated our parlor. Kindbeiters and the rest of them did.
Myers: Did you have a bamboo fan?
Devenney: Oh, my Lord, yes.
Myers: Several of those?
Devenney: Yes. My mother -- I can still see my mother fanning herself with a bamboo fan. Yeah.
Myers: Lace curtains in your home? -
Devenney: Oh, boy. All I remember is plain old cotton curtains until the girls grew up and then in the parlor there were good curtains. Now whether they were lace or not, I can't recall. They may have been.
Myers: Did you have ice skates and roller skates?
Devenney: No roller skates. There was no place to roller skate up there. The roads were not paved until -- oh just prior to before we all left for Wilmington. Ice skates, yes. They were the kind that clamped on to the feet -- on the shoe, rather.
Myers: Did you have a brass bed?
Devenney: Yeah. We sure did. They're worth a fortune and they're pretty, too. We had quite a few of them. And some were made out of wood. I wish I had those brass beds today. I love them.
Myers: We were discussing embroidery a few questions back, and samplers, and so on. Do you know what crewel work is?
Devenney: Yes. It's done by needle.
Myers: Did anyone in your family do that type of work?
Devenney: I'm trying to remember that. Oh, the girls were good with those needles. Some were shorter than others and they had like a little hook on the end. And they were forever making doilies and various other things. Crewel. Oh, sure. All the three girls did.
Myers: Did they sometimes frame them and put them on the wall?
Devenney: No. I don't believe they were framed. They may have been. Yeah, the girls were good with those needles.
Myers: Did you have quilts in your home?
Devenney: Oh, my Lord, yes. Now there's where you come to your different colors and all-- I think every bed had a different color for changing of quilts. They were heavy.
Myers: Did some of your family make those?
Devenney: Yes. Some of them were made. Some were bought.
Myers: Where would you have bought those?
Devenney: Well, they had to be bought in Wilmington. My Lord, where was -- McMahons was furniture. They sold quilts and blankets and everything else.
Myers: McMahons on King Street? How about a chest of drawers?
Devenney: Oh, heck, yes, we had those. Every bedroom had a chest of drawers. You know, come to think of it, no wonder what little money did come in, do you know what had to go out? For those things were essential. Yeah.
Myers: How about a wash basin?
Devenney: Oh, yes.
Myers: You had several of those?
Devenney: Oh, yes.
Myers: Where did you keep those wash basins?
Devenney: Oh, that stuff was kept in the second kitchen in back. That was another thing that Mrs. Copeland gave us, you know, along with a big grape arbor in back which grew the most wonderful grapes -- a Delaware grape. Yep. Wash basins. Oh, my Lord, yes.
Myers: Chamber pots?
Myers: Several in the house?
Devenney: Yes. Upstairs. Yep.
Myers: A towel stand?
Devenney: Oh, yes. My lord, they were all over the place. Not in the parlor. The kitchen, upstairs. Yeah. Upstairs. You know they bought water in to us later on with electricity and everything.
Myers: We were discussing the Larkin Company the other day. Did you have a Larkin?
Devenney: Yes, we did.
Myers: Will you describe that to me.
Devenney: I can't recall just what it was, what it looked like. It was something that you could set on a stand or something that you could mount on a wall which contained spices or herbs that Larkin distributed and also soap. I guess today you would refer to them as cosmetics. They sold things that were essential -- creams and various other things. Larkins. (Laughter). I remember what ever became of that company?
Myers: Dresser scarves?
Devenney: Oh, yes.
Myers: Were they handmade. Did your family make them?
Devenney: Yes, the girls made them. Mary was good at that. Crocheted. Different colors. All I can recall is white.
Myers: How about buttonhooks?
Devenney: Oh, my Lord, yes.
Myers: The young folks learned how to use those.
Devenney: Yes, indeed, you know, because from a buttonless and from a shirt, you didn't throw it away; you repaired it.
Myers: Where would you have those buttonhooks?
Devenney: Oh, gosh. Mom had sewing cabinet. Everything was kept in there. Pin cushions and pins.
Myers: Pin box you had?
Devenney: Oh, yes. Needle box for different sized needles.
- Household objects 5Keywords: Baseball; Baseballs; Bats; Beds; Bench tables; Books; Bureaus; Cellars; Chests of drawers; Closets; Cots; Dishes; Dolls; Fine china; Flour barrels; Fun; Games; Joseph Bancroft and Sons Co.; Magazines; Oil lamps; Painted ball chimney lamps; Pitchers; Rabbits; Settees; Sideboards; Sofas; Sports; ToysTranscript: Myers: Did you have a bench table? Perhaps you could put books underneath that. Do you remember anything of that type?
Devenney: Yes, we did.
Myers: What did you have on your bench table and where did you have it?
Devenney: No that table was in the parlor and the books and magazines were in that -- and we kept books in one of the closets. That was in the living room, also -- no, the parlor.
Myers: Did you have a settee?
Devenney: Yes, we did. We had two of them.
Myers: In the parlor?
Devenney: Well, we had one in the parlor, or the living room it's called today. And one was out under the grape arbor. For summer, spring and fall. And it was always brought into the second kitchen.
Myers: What did they look like?
Devenney: Originally they came -- the one we kept outside it was always kept painted every year. And the one inside was a varnished affair. Not upholstery.
Myers: Did you have a sideboard?
Devenney: Yes, that was in the cooking area and it was like everything else in that area. A multitude of things was on the sideboard.
Myers: I was going to ask you what you put on that? Can you recall what was put on that?
Devenney: Oh, I guess pitchers were kept on there.
Myers: Any dishes?
Devenney: Dishes -- various dishes, yes. in fact that's where most of the dishes were kept. Yes.
Myers: Did it have drawers or doors that would open up?
Devenney: Yes. It had doors; I can't recall drawers. 'And under there was kept the dishes and the glassware was on the top section.
Myers: And you've already told me you had a couple of cellars, didn't you?
Devenney: Yes, we did, we had two of them because we had two homes.
Myers: Did you have a chicken house?
Devenney: No, we didn't keep chickens. We had rabbit huts in back.
Myers: How many rabbits did you have?
Devenney: Oh, I can't recall how many. Quite a few -- Belgian hare.
Myers: What did you do with those rabbits? Were they just pets?
Devenney: No. They were used for food and were sold.
Myers: How many?
Devenney: I don't recall. We didn't keep too many --maybe 6 or 8.
Myers: Did you have a rain barrel?
Devenney: No, we did not have a rain barrel. Other people did around there.
Myers: Did you have a hydrant with a spigot?
Devenney: Yes, we did.
Myers: Where was that located?
Devenney: Well, before water was brought into the house, it was across the road, right in front of our home, same as the rest of the homes there. And later on as they brought them in, that was brought into the kitchen area. That's where the spigot was then.
Myers: Did your sisters have dolls?
Devenney: Lord, yes, I think every girl in the crick had a doll. Yes, indeed.
Myers: Can you describe some.
Devenney: What they were -- most of them were made out of cloth and filled with sawdust.
Myers: What were the faces like?
Devenney: (Laughter). Today it would be described as funny, I suppose. But I guess the young girls loved that just as much as they do today with the fancy wigs and all on them.
Myers: Did you have bats and balls?
Devenney: Oh, God, yes. Yes we did, we played baseball.
Myers: Where did you get your bat? Where did you buy the bat.
Devenney: They were picked up somewhere. Most of them as I recall were bats that the school no longer had, you know, were split or something. And ingenuity of the Irish up there to repair them, and us kids always had a patched-up bat to hit a ball with. Same as we got the baseballs from the school, they were given to us where they became scuffed up and no longer able to pitch with them. Yeah. And gloves. Most of the time we played baseball barehanded. Yeah, gloves were expensive.
Myers: Do you recall what the balls were made of?
Devenney: Well, they were horsehide, of course, and nothing but woven twine inside, into a ball.
Myers: Did you have a china closet?
Devenney: Yeah. Yes we did, as far as I can remember. Later on it was one of the pet projects. Always kept up well because Mary went to work for Mr. John Bancroft. He was a very generous soul and he used to give Mary various pieces of glassware and things, and that's where she kept all those things and Mary picked up a lot of things, beautiful dishes and all. And they were left in Bos home. They're antiques today.
Myers: Do you recall having a horsehair sofa?
Devenney: Yes I do. Now you're going really back. We were glad to get rid of that thing. That horsehair would always come through somehow, through the fabric.
Myers: Where did you have it?
Devenney: That was in the parlor.
Myers: That would seat how many people?
Devenney: I would say three or four.
Myers: Did you have any cots?
Devenney: Yes we did have cots.
Devenney: Yeah. In fact, us boys slept on cots before we got beds for the attic.
Myers: How about a bureau?
Devenney: No, we didn't have -- yes we did. Yes we did. At the front of the stairs -- at the top of the attic between the division of them was one bureau for underwear, socks.
Myers: We talked about brass beds. Did you have any iron beds in your home?
Devenney: No, I can't recall any iron beds. I remember the wooden beds and brass, but I can't recall any iron beds.
Myers: Did you have any painted ball chimney lamps?
Devenney: Now what was that again? Painted ball?
Myers: Painted ball chimney lamps.
Devenney: I'm trying to think just what in the world that is. Painted ball chimney lamps. Now, we had some beautiful oil lamps. Some were just ordinary plain. But some of them were c-- oh, now, I know what that is. Certainly I do. That was the two that were in the parlor. They were gorgeous. We called them globes today, I believe. Yeah. And they were painted with flowers, roses, daisies, or something on them.
Myers: Very decorative.
Devenney: Yes. The elders usually handled them for cleaning and all because they wouldn't trust them to children.
Myers: Did you have a hammock on your porch or a swing?
Devenney: Yes, we did.
Myers: Always had that?
Myers: And you had oil lamps?
Myers: Several in your home, of course?
Devenney: Yes, they were, quite a few.
Myers: Did you carry them around?
Devenney: Yes, um-hum. No, the only time they were carried around was when they were brought upstairs after being refilled. And then they were brought down again and then when they retired again upstairs, the lamp went with them.
Myers: Who filled those lamps?
Devenney: Oh, Mrs. Myers, I wouldn't recall just what name was on them. There was names on them. Oh, Lord. Now that I can't answer.
Myers: Did you ever have a barrel of flour?
Devenney: Well, no. Flour was kept in a wooden box with a lid.
Now was that lid in the front – and swung back?