Interview with Donald Hallam, 1980 September 2 [audio]

Hagley ID:
  • Introduction of Donald and his mother, Elizabeth Chase; Background of Donald and his family, including place of birth and occupations; his father's entry into Bancroft as a child helping stonemasons, childhood in the Rockford area
    Partial Transcript: Tremaine: Side 1, Tape 1, September 2, 1980, Don Hallam, Dorothy Tremaine interviewer. Name?

    Hallam: My name is Donald G. Hallam - H-A-L-L-A-M

    Tremaine: And address?

    Hallam: Two Albany Place.

    Tremaine: And that's New Castle County - and Age?

    Hallam: New Castle County - 51.

    Tremaine: And place of birth?

    Hallam: Wilmington, Delaware.

    Tremaine: And nationality, U.S.?

    Hallam: U.S.A.

    Tremaine: Language spoken - have you always lived here?

    Hallam: Always lived in Wilmington.

    Tremaine: In Wilmington. And your occupation?

    Hallam: I'm an electrical engineer.

    Tremaine: And your father's name?

    Hallam: Thomas Earl Hallam.

    Tremaine: Earl?

    Hallam: Earl.

    Tremaine: And your mother's name?

    Hallam: Elizabeth C. Hallam - Elizabeth Chase Hallam.

    Tremaine: And your father's place of birth?

    Hallam: Wilmington.

    Tremaine: And his occupation?

    Hallam: He was a maintenance foreman at the Bancroft Company.

    Tremaine: And his father's place of birth?

    Hallam: I believe it was Wilmington, but I'm not sure of that.

    Tremaine: And do you happen to know his occupation?

    He was the timekeeper at the Bancroft Company.

    Tremaine: And your father's mother's place of birth?

    Hallam: Was she born in Wilmington or Pennsylvania - it could have been Philly, I'm not sure of that, that's one I'm not sure of. But it was generally local here too, not far away.

    Tremaine: Did she work at all?

    Hallam: No, not that I know of.

    Tremaine: Your mother's mother's place of birth?

    Hallam: Newport, Rhode Island.

    Tremaine: And did you ever work (question addressed to woman).

    Elizabeth: No, oh yes I did, I worked in a music store for about six years.

    Hallam: She worked during the - worked in a music store and during the war you worked down at Bancroft’ s, you know, like during the war most of the women in the Rockford are worked in the mill.

    Tremaine: And your husband's place of birth?

    Elizabeth: Wilmington.

    Hallam: Wilmington, Wilmington, Delaware, right.

    Tremaine: And what was his occupation?

    Elizabeth: Textile, wasn't it? Bancrofts.

    Hallam: Well, he was a foreman. Are you getting these right? Alright, this is my Mother, you're writing of my Grandmother's place of birth.

    Tremaine: She was born in Rhode Island?

    Elizabeth: Newport, Rhode Island

    Tremaine: Yes, and grandfather was born in Wilmington.

    Hallam: Okay.

    Tremaine: I don't write the whole thing out, I have to fill another one in, it's on the tape.

    Hallam: Okay, I didn't know whether this was for the mother's family and the father's family. Well, alright well her father would have born, not in Wilmington, he would have been born and worked up in Rhode Island. But this is for the mother?

    Tremaine: Yes, right, okay - Rhode Island.

    Hallam: Okay, would have been Rhode Island. What was his job, Mother? Your Father's job?

    Elizabeth: Well his father was a boat builder and as far I know he always worked in a boatyard, boat builder.

    Tremaine: Boat builder. Well, this is your grandfather?

    Hallam: Would be my Grandfather, would be her Father. What was your Father's job, not your grandfather's job?

    Elizabeth: They all worked in the boatyard.

    Hallam: They all worked in the boatyard, didn't they?

    Elizabeth: He had eight sons and six daughters, or seven sons and six daughters - they all worked, I mean all the boys worked in the boatyard, boat building.

    Hallam: And Grandmother's place of birth was Rhode Island, Newport, Rhode Island.

    Tremaine: And what is your name?

    Elizabeth: Elizabeth.

    Tremaine: Oh, you're Elizabeth Chase.

    Elizabeth: I was a Chase, but when I was married I kept the Chase.

    Tremaine: Okay, so I know who else's voice is on here. Since you're too young, really, because we're looking for things up until 1921.

    Hallam: You missed me (laughs).

    Tremaine: You weren't even a gleam in her eye at that point I don't think. So we'll try and go back and what you remember your father has told you - stories that he's told you, or things that you remember.

    Hallam: Alright - what kind of things in terms that you would like to know?

    Tremaine: Interested in the daily life, they're interested in school activities, what they did before school, after school, celebrations, swimming, anything that went on - or if he worked there.

    Elizabeth: He's a boat builder, Don, wasn't he?

    Hallam: No, Mother you are talking about Dad, not Rhode Island now.

    Tremaine: The house - did he live in that particular area?

    Hallam: He was not born in the Rockford area. Generally we are all Rockford oriented because the Father's name was always associated with Bancroft. And Grandfather worked down there and my Father worked there and I worked there for a good while. So he was born, I think, in the middle of Wilmington, but at a fairly early age they moved out on Ivy Road, 33 Ivy Road, and that's where he grew up most of his younger life. And in terms of school, I don't know, I guess Dad got out of school like most kids those year, and went to work when he was about twelve. Went down to Bancroft, started out in the stone masonry world which he remembers the building of the large homes that John Bancroft's family lived in. And the Bishopstead, if you know, up in back there. He often described the way that the stone masons would cut. He often talked about the way the stone masons and their apprentices would out those stones by hand. Brandywine granite's pretty tough, and they would square that off with a steel square, and he said that they had something like 24 stone masons and their helpers working for two or three years in a row just cutting the square stones to build the Bishopstead. So, you know those were sort of the jobs that the younger ones got those days.

    We talked about what type of things they did for entertainment, well, I'm not sure that they lived on the Brandywine like we did. That was your swimming hole. We swam there for sun up to sun down when we were young. I could swim down there til midnight. Those of the group that were learning to be machinists, why they'd go down into the Mill and one of the first things they would make would be a brass cannon on a lathe. And that was always used at Fourth of July because they could go up the Brandywine and steal powder from the powder mill. Dad said all you could hear were these cannons booming all through the Fourth of July celebration. And this would usually be up in the Rockford Park and Rockford Tower area. And they would build a bandstand up there and they had the whole type of entertainment you would see with the bandstand and people picnicking and kids firing their cannons off, and everything along that nature.

    Elizabeth: We were sledding down there, from the Brandywine down, right down by Rockford Road, right down Rockford Road from the Tower.

    Tremaine: Well now who ran the picnics?

    Hallam: I don't think I ever remembered anyone saying who ran the picnic, I'm not really sure - the Fourth of July picnics, things like that.

    Elizabeth: It seemed to be a community affair, everybody pitched in. Like one made rolls, and another made ginger cakes.

    Hallam: Mother you're talking about the street dances, I'm talking about the picnics that were held in the park. I really don't know who would have run those things.

    Elizabeth: Always said Bancroft picnics, so I don't know whether the company - I think the company did it.

    Hallam: I don't think so, Mother. I would imagine it might have been City, or something like that, I really don't know. Uncle Dan might remember some of that, as to who would have run those picnics because he would have been involved in that. He was a little younger than my Father, but still he would remember all those - he's about 72 or 73 now, so he's back in the time frame you're looking for.

    Tremaine: Yes, I want to get his name and address. I think you did give it to me on the phone.
    Keywords: Brandywine River; Fourth of July celebrations; Joseph Bancroft and Sons Co.; Masonry; Rockford Tower (Wilmington, Del.); Wilmington (Del.)
  • Father living and attending school in the Rockford area; Sledding during the winter and pranks during the summer; Bancroft company relationship with employees and community
    Partial Transcript: Hallam: Those were the kind of things they did, 'course as I say, schooling for a lot of them ended somewhere in the eleven, twelve years old, and they went to work.

    Tremaine: Do you remember any stories he told you about things that went on in the school?

    Hallam: Well, I don't remember too many stories. They had - I can tell you one of them - of course I grew up in Rockford also; we moved down and I was born at 67 Ivy Road and lived there for 45 years before I moved here. That's when those homes were all purchased and converted to town houses. I had a painting made of Ivy Road before I left, the one with a lamp post is our house. Now they're changed as you know now. They're changing the whole character of the Mill Village, but ours is one of the few that was left in the original Mill Village in the style.

    Elizabeth: Yes, I think it's still the same inside.

    Hallam: No, they've changed all the interiors around.

    Elizabeth: Did they change the exterior - no I haven't been when we went up there, she was away.

    Hallam: Well, anyhow, we lived right downstream, if you will, from Rockford Park and there used to be a schoolhouse right up there, No. 27 School. Are you from the area, do you remember that? Okay, well there was a public schoolhouse up there and they had a park guard - I never knew his first name, all I ever knew they called him Swack Riley, but he was a typical oldfashioned park guard and would walk his rounds through the Rockford Tower area. One of his stops every morning and after- noon was to go through the old grade school, No. 27. And anyone that needed it, why he took them in the coatroom and whacked them a few times for what they did wrong during the school morning or afternoon. So they used to have a different way of living then - he was the punishment. But other than that, I don't remember much of what Dad would have said in terms of schooling.

    I remember primarily the kind of things that they did for entertainment. Like wintertime the kids would all go, the boys would all go sledding, and one of the sleds they would build was to get ahold of some large two by twelve boards and they would make what they called a kicker sled. It would be a high one that you sat on.

    Tremaine: About how high?

    Hallam: Oh I would imagine it was kind of chair high, on which you could probably stack quite a number of teenage boys. And the way you would steer that sled would be the person sitting in the front would kick. He'd sit and hold onto the front edge of a two by four and he would kick it to the left or to the right, and that's how they wore out plenty of pairs of shoes.

    Elizabeth: Came down from the Tower, right around Rockford Road.

    Hallam: And down at the bottom of Rockford Road, they used to have a large gate that they would close off, you know, to stop people from going into the mill. Bancroft Company used to put ashed on all of Rockford Road, which is a nice long, downward slope, you know, and down at the bottom of the road where the gate would be was very steep, so one year they didn't get the thing sanded and ashed quick enough and the boys got out there with their kicker sled and by the time they got going down Rockford Road, there was no way that they could stop, so they managed to take the gate right off it's hinges as they went on into the mill.

    So most of their fun was home grown. They had lots of routines. They would - some of the typical teenage pranks I guess. They'd pick a nice summer night and in the Rockford area you had fairly high fences between all the backyards, you know, it was typical, all fenced in, both front and back yards. The front yards were all the wrought iron kind, and the back yards were wood. So they would wait until there was a nice hot summer night and people would all be out on the porches, and they would get a hold of a policeman's uniform somehow or another, or a couple of them, and they'd start at one end of Rockford, and a couple of kids would be the crooks and a couple would be the cops and they'd come down through the back yards over all the fences and by the time they hit the other end of the little village, why everything was stirred up.

    They were typical of teenage pranks, but that was probably all you had to do, moneywise. There wasn't much else you could do. Let's see, what are some of the other ones that they pulled. They would always initiate a new boy into the group by taking him across the Brandy- wine, and they would go on up into the Alapocas Woods, and they would have some one of the group hidden up in the woods dressed as the farmer with a shotgun. And they'd be going up to steal some- thing from the farmer's field, I guess, because by the time they would come up into the farmer's field, this one with the gun would start chasing them. And they'd, of course, make their mad run down through the woods with the poor Victim not knowing what was going on. When they got down to the Brandywine area whoever had the shotgun would fire a couple of shots and two or three of them would fall over and roll down and into the water like they were dead. They pulled all those kind of stunts growing up.

    They were the type of things that I would remember more. Let's see, I don't know what other type things you might think of. Bancroft was sort of a community held together somewhat by the fact that everyone worked down at the Bancroft Company. And the company was sort of, in those days it was more of a family-type protective style of life. A couple of times a year they would take some of the big trucks that they would ship their material in, and clean them all up and paint them and build benches in them and there would be a big excursion from the mill, containing all the families of all the workers. And I guess at that time they probably had 1500 or 2000 workers down there, it was a pretty big organization. So they would take off for a day at White Crystal Beach or a day at someplace like that. They used to - the ladies, mothers had a mothers' club and they would go down to Atlantic City occasionally. It was a whole different routine in terms of the ways company and employee worked. It was very much more paternal, I think.

    For instance, they had a couple of widowed people, widowed gals that were very much taken care of by the company. The company generated their own electrical power, which was very unusual. They would furnish these women their homes, their electric power and everything, basically for nothing, just let them stay there because they were part of the family. I can remember a couple of them who were in that condition.

    Bancroft's had a kindergarten operated by the company, using company buildings which they would outfit for the children of the people that lived at both Rockford, which was one end of the Bancroft Mill, and Kentmere was the other end. So they set up a kindergarten up at both ends of the mill and this would take all the company employee children. Take them off the street, I guess, so there were none left to go to public school.

    Tremaine: Now about what year was that?

    Hallam: Well, I went through there, and I was born in '29 so it was operating before that. My sisters went there, so this would have probably been in the late '20's anyhow. The company also set up in the Rockford end. I don't think they did at the Kentmere end, but they set up a public library, a separate version of the public library out there. They put a building up and they put the lights and provided for the library branch out there. As I say, it was a different kind of approach of what companies do today, I think, they're not as personal as they were in those days. Everybody knew the President of the company by his first name because he grew up with them. My Father and Mr. MacIntyre, the President of the company, were friends from the day they probably started working on the mill.
    Keywords: Alapocas Woods; Benefits; Joseph Bancroft and Sons Co.; Kicker sled; Pranks; Rockford Park; Rockford Tower (Wilmington, Del.); Vacations
  • The Bancroft Family; Transportation in Wilmington; Company-owned housing; Characteristics of homes in Rockford neighborhood
    Partial Transcript: Elizabeth: Mrs. Bancroft came down to see me when she found out I was from New England from her people were from New England. She came down to see me.

    Hallam: They were very nice people. John Bancroft was a very nice person when I got a new job.

    Tremaine: Did the people from the Bancroft Mills associate with people from the other mills?

    Hallam: Not that I recall. Bancroft was separate from other mills, of course I guess there weren't quite as many mills in my time.

    Tremaine: No, they were gone.

    Hallam: See, the powder mills were over with and I guess the paper mill was still going and there really wasn't much association there. But the other thing that kept people a little further apart those days was that everyone didn't have a car. It was a different kind of living.

    Tremaine: Your father lived there - did he have a car?

    Hallam: He had a car - let's see, what was the year, Mother, that he had the very early car? Was that one when I was very young, and I don't know when he got rid of it. I don't even remember the car. Then we didn't get another one until I was in college. We didn't need one in the city, buses were very good. I could catch a bus on Delaware Avenue and go on in town. Of course that was your major shopping area. As teenagers, young kids, we never - we spent the money on the bus, if we went to the movie theater we got twenty-six cents, which was eight cents in and out and ten cents for the movie. And we weren't going to spend sixteen cents for a bus when we could walk into town, what the heck, it was only four or five miles. We could spend that money on candy in the theater. So we would walk into the Grand Theater, or whatever it was we were going, and spend the carfare money on the candy. So we didn't really need a car. Of course we also had access to one of the vehicles from down at the mill.

    Tremaine: You were allowed to drive it?

    Hallam: Yeah, if we needed to go get something in the car, why Dad would go on down and get the truck and we'd go get it.

    Elizabeth: We had straw rides in that truck too.

    Hallam: Well, not in that truck, no Mother. But there was also another thing that didn't happen - doesn't happen now that happened then. We had a man from Haldas Brothers on 5th and King. Man's name was Bill Watson, and he would come around on Friday night and deliver you weekly order, and take the order for next week. And he would take the whole community this way. Of course milk was delivered, bread was delivered, ice was delivered if you had an ice box, rather than a refrigerator. So you really didn't need to go to a store to bring food down. Bill Watson must have called on us for at least forty years that I know of. And he would come out - well at ten o'clock Friday night he would still be going from house to house, delivering the orders, getting the order and getting the money from last week, getting paid and taking the order for next weekend. It was a whole different thing. You really became person friends with these people. The insurance man did the same thing, Metropolitan Insurance came out and collected. We'd get to be personal friends with them. And this man would visit his Mother over in Atlantic City and when he would come back he would bring candy to the different families. He always brought salt water taffy back to our house, we had six kids and Mom loved candy and he'd bring it back for us. He sort of be making deliveries as well as selling insurance. So it was a different way of life.

    Elizabeth: Now you don't even know who your neighbors are.

    Hallam: The automobile helps that, you know.

    Tremaine: Yes. I wanted to put down the dates of the years you lived there, do you remember?

    Hallam: I was born in - on Ivy Road in 1929 and we stayed there until about three years ago, three or four years ago.

    Elizabeth: But then when you lived down at the mills...

    Hallam: Right, okay - so in our own home on Ivy Road, my Lord, it must have been at least twenty-five or earlier, Mother, because I was born there in '29 and they were living there before that, so it had to be at least 25. See I have two sisters older than me, one was born in - wasn't Betty born up at 33 Ivy? See that's where my Grandmother and my Father's Mother would have lived, at 33 Ivy Road and my oldest sister was born there. And they left there and moved down the street, that's when we started our residence. How old was Betty? Gee I don't remember, Betty's got to be about 56 or so, or 57, so you can see - 25 would have been a pretty fair frame.

    Elizabeth: Yes.

    Hallam: Now Catherine Walsh's family would have been much longer than that because that house, she was at 65 Ivy Road, and that house was in their family name probably longer than anybody's house was in any one of the homes. If we can get her to help you, she'll be a big help. So that would have been the time frame, I would say '25 through, say three years ago. We've been here just a little over three years. We moved in '77.

    Elizabeth: We didn't actually get the framework altogether then.

    Hallam: Okay, some of the stories that I was telling you would have been prior to the 25 because this would have been when my Father lived at 33 Ivy Road. That would have been the time frame of some of the teenage pranks.

    Tremaine: Do you remember whether he smoked at all?

    Hallam: Yeah.

    Tremaine: He did smoke - tobacco?

    Hallam: Dad smoked tobacco, yes, cigarettes.

    Tremaine: Cigarettes - do you remember the brand of them?

    Hallam: Lucky Strikes as I recall.

    Tremaine: Well when he went to work, what did he wear when he went to work, do you remember?

    Hallam: I wouldn't...

    Tremaine: He didn't wear any special type of shoes or clothing? Or pants?

    Hallam: I don't know of anything - let's say his earlier days in the mill, I wouldn't have any idea. But when he was in charge of all the company-owned property - see what happened was, Dad was in charge of all the company-owned property that was external to the mill. And they owned some 230 homes, company employees lived in. There were some at Rockford end of the mill, and some at the Kentmere end of the mill, and there were some in the City of Wilmington up around the Gilpin Avenue area. Like between Lincoln and Union Street on Gilpin Avenue; they owned a group of homes there. There were quite a number of them over in the St. Anne's Church dis- trict area that were owned by the company. And this is, again, part of the old English industrial system of having homes for the company, and Bancroft was a company that came over from England. They were cotton, textile cotton finishing. They were part of the family of this Clarke, that owns, you know, has the sewing cotton. You've seen the name Clarke, it was part of that family. So the idea of owning company homes, was part of their business as they came over.

    Tremaine: Did people have to pay rent, do you know?

    Hallam: Yeah, yeah it was very, very minimal, and all the homes were company maintained. That was my Father's job, he has a crew of men that included a carpenter and a plumber and a paperhanger and a painter and they would do all the maintenance of the homes, all the painting, all the paperhanging, and you know, they were kept in really good shape.

    Elizabeth: They did keep them in good shape, too.

    Hallam: They did everything about a house that had to be kept up.

    Tremaine: Did they take care of the yards?

    Hallam: No, that was about the only thing you did yourself, you took care of your own gardening or what have you. Company invariably paid for all the white- wash because that was one of the things you had to do to the water of the Brandywine was to get the mud out of it. And you had lime and alum settling ponds where they would mix the lime and the alum together and that get ahold of the mud, if you will, and settle it to the bottom, so come springtime, many a 50-pound bag of lime ended up being whitewash on all the wooden fences and around the lower part of the house, you know, the lower part of the brick work was the concrete or stone wall, they weren't concrete, they were stone walls. That was all whitewashed. Every kid in Rockford got the job every spring of whitewashing all the outside walls. They didn't maintain the yard, they helped pay for the whitewashing, though.

    Tremaine: Well now were there gardens in the back of the houses - vegetable gardens or flower gardens?

    Hallam: An awful lot of flowers at the time. Vegetables came into the game a little bit - particularly during the war, or those who kind of enjoyed doing it, but it wasn't a big thing as I recall, although I can still remember people making...

    Elizabeth: Like cucumbers or something like that.

    Hallam: I can remember the smell of people cooking - what are the various relishes - the chow-chows and the piccalilli and all these things that you remember - people did that and did canning. But gardening in terms of flowers, that was a very common thing. Everyone kept the yards up, and I think that's - if you've been over in London, roamed around England, you'll see that that's still a big fad over there and you can see where it came from. People are very proud of their yards over in England, London. Iâ € ˜ ve been over there several times, and you can still see the nature of the yards with the gardens, and this was very characteristic of Rockford. They had the iron fences in the front and people had flowers growing along them all the time. Even the backyards were full of flowers.
    Keywords: Bancroft, John; Clarke family; door-to-door; Gilpin Avenue; home delivery; home maintenance; Joseph Bancroft and Sons Co
  • Fire suppression at the mills; Power generation at Bancroft
    Partial Transcript: Tremaine: Did they have sheds in the backyard?

    Hallam: No, a lot of time underneath the kitchen area would have been what we called the shed. Or under the porch represented a shed, so there weren't many separate buildings. One man was directly in back of us, his home - name of Roberts - their home was originally a log cabin, because my Father, as he was growing up in his younger years as a stonemason, he helped plaster over the old log cabin. And that man was a fancier of bird dogs, so he had a couple big sheds full of bird dogs - beagles, things like that. Most of the time there weren't many sheds back there that I recall.

    Tremaine: Well now, did the people make noise, disturb people?

    Hallam: Not too much, old Bill kept them under control, he really did.

    Tremaine: If you had a disturbance, did you call the police?

    Elizabeth: Oh, what police? I don't think we had any disturbance, do you?

    Hallam: No, I don't really remember that kind of a problem. Neighbors were pretty good neighbors in those days, you didn't have any problems.

    Elizabeth: Everybody knew everybody else's business.

    Hallam: I don't think when we were growing up, I don't know of a door in Rockford that was every locked because I don't know...

    Elizabeth: We never even had keys.

    Hallam: I can remember the key hanging up alongside the kitchen door, but I don't ever remember it ever being used. People didn't lock the door in those days.

    Tremaine: What about fire equipment, where did it come from if it were needed?

    Hallam: Well, let's see - I don't remember much, it would have been city apparatus. The mill itself had their own fire brigade like most mills did, but they never came out into the area of the company homes.

    Elizabeth: The houses were all stone anyway.

    Hallam: No, it would have been primarily city. They had, literally had the hand-drawn, or hand-pulled carts in the mill and I used to know where a few of those old hand-drawn carts were, but they're probably long gone now. But other than that, it would have been city apparatus. And there is some of that right over in what we called the Forty Acres, which was not far from the Rockford end of the mill. That's probably eight blocks away or so, there is a fire house.

    Tremaine: Now these were manned by volunteers?

    Hallam: No, I think they were city, I don't remember them being volunteers in my time.

    Tremaine: In the mill?

    Hallam: Oh, in the mill - of course those were set up as workers who had a job, they were part of the fire brigade, and if a fire broke out, they had to go get to their station and do whatever they were trained to do, but as far as a fire, let's say, in a company home or something, that would be city apparatus. And the city also responded to any fire in the mill. In fact, whenever they had a call from a mill fire, they responded heavily because the mill was old, it was wooden in most cases, and they came from both ends of the mill as fast as they could run. The only big fire I ever remember down there, the one that really got out of hand was the one back in the wood pile, and it was probably set - it was on the weekend, so it was hard to tell how that one got started. They had a few of them in the mill proper, but they never got out of hand, they always controlled them very well.

    Tremaine: Did they have things such as fire extinguishers in the mill?

    Hallam: Yeah.

    Tremaine: Or buckets.

    Hallam: They had fire buckets of sand, I remember those throughout the mill when I worked there. I went to work down there when I was about fourteen, starting outside the mill, and then a year or so later, I went in the mill prior to going to college. They had fire extinguishers, they had fire hoses, and buckets of sand. Back in those days you used a lot of carbon tetrachloride. Everyone had also had a habit of taking the carbontet out of the extinguisher home and cleaned the clothes with it, so they got in the habit of dyeing it red. When it came in, they'd open the big 55-gallon drum and dump some red dye in it so people would run to an extinguisher to put a fire out and fine it empty. That was a big thing, you had the soda acid extinguishers those times. They were throughout the mill, and they had a couple of large steam-driven fire pumps. I can remember those, they were right down opposite the power house and whenever there was a fire, these things would come on line and be ready to pump water pressure throughout the mill. Having the Brandywine right close, they had all the water supply they needed.

    Tremaine: Did they keep the steam pump all the time?

    Hallam: Bancroft generated their own electrical power! They had a very large power generation - in fact, I don't remember, but I was told that Bancroft originally supplied the City of Wilmington with power before D.P. & amp; L. came into existence, because they had two waterwheels, one at both ends of the mill. And they did two things, the waterwheel could drive a mechanical shaft that ran half the length of the mill and a lot of the machinery was belted to the shaft. They could also drive an electrical generator from that and generate power for their lighting. And they supplied all the homes with lighting, that were close to the mill. They didn't have Delaware Power & amp; Light power. Clocks didn't run very accurately, but that didn't matter.

    Tremaine: There was a change in the voltage?

    Hallam: Change in the frequency, so this is why your clocks didn't work too good, you would lose time, gain time, either way. But it was because they generated their own powder and I would say it was only in the last ten years, maybe at the most, that the Rockford homes were converted to Delaware Power & amp; Light power, so you can see Bancroft carried those, they charged the same rate structure as D.P. & amp; L. did and got away with it. The system was set up for that, it was expensive to turn it over to D.P. & amp; L., so they just let the thing go like it was so long as they didn't charge any more. So we got all of our power from Bancroft. They had steam generation as well as water power. When they would take the power house off the line for any maintenance, they'd put it on the waterwheel. That provided enough lighting and provided enough for all the homes. It was kind of unusual, but that's you know, that was the way the setup was made.

    Tremaine: Of course Hagley now sells their excess power.

    Hallam: Right, I think they have a different kind of water- wheel, but in any case, it's the same thing. Yeah, I know, that's how we got talking about it, into this thing, because I know the two men that installed that. Ed David was my boss when he was working for Du Pont and Fred Anderson was one of the co-workers and they were the two engineers that helped install that equipment up there at Hagley.

    Tremaine: Have you been down to see it?

    Hallam: M-huh, yeah, I've been up there to see that. In fact when we talked to Fred Anderson, from Du Pont one time, he called up with some questions and we helped him over the phone from Du Pont. That's what sort of led into the conversation at the solar energy fair that probably led up to this interview.

    Tremaine: Probably, when you spoke to Rosemary Turpin at the desk.

    Hallam: Right. But as I say, Bancroft generated a lot of power. They ran that entire mill on the electrical power that they generated, so there was always steam up to run those fire pumps, other than the short time they might be down to maintain the boiler. And that would have been very unusual, that would have been during a shut-down period.
    Keywords: Carbon tetrachloride; Delaware Power and Light; Dogs; Electric generators; Fire Departments; Fire extinction; Fires; Steam power plants; Steam-boiler
  • Detail on textile processing in Brandywine area
    Partial Transcript: Tremaine: I was trying to look at some of the things back when your father was there. Did you wear cosmetics or jewelry when you were first there?

    Hallam: You're thinking of when she was down in the mill itself?

    Tremaine: Yes, u-huh, when you were down in the mill.

    Elizabeth: I remember I always did.

    Hallam: There were no uniforms as such in anything that I remember at the mill. No, you wore whatever clothing you had to wear, in fact protective clothing wasn't even too important in those days. And I am sure that those people who dealt with the acids and all, probably had some protective equipment, but in general people wore whatever they had, their own clothing.

    Tremaine: Apparently the girls who worked with the powder, up further, had to be so careful, no jewelry, no bobby pins, whatnot, and I just wondered if down in Bancroft Mills if they had any regulations or restrictions.

    Hallam: None that I know of, because they didn't have any kind of a process that would need that other than the few areas where they would handle acids, as I say, things of that nature. At the time Mother was down there, during the war, they still did a lot of sewing, which people don't probably remember. They had a large machine-driven sewing machines and the Kentmere Inn where they made tablecloths and napkins and they would take the material and do all the hemming for primarily things like tablecloths and napkins and towels. And people probably don't remember that they really made a finished product. Their primary purpose was finishing textile - finishing cotton material and that meant taking what you called the raw gray goods that was woven in some mill somewhere, and treating it to the finished state. They would - the first process this material would go through would be singeing. They had two ways, they would take - and the material really was gray looking, it was pretty crude looking material. They would run it over an open flame and singe all the fuzziness off of it, or they would draw it over a heating copper plate that was literally heated white hot with a gas flame, and they would draw it over that thing, at a very high rate to singe it. So you would singe both sides of the material, then you would take it on into the bleach area, and they would put it into a bleach vat for whatever time period it too to bleach it white. Then you would go ahead an do all the various processes to it, like Sanforize it for shrinkage, you would do in Wilmington area solid color dyeing. Any printed patterns were done at their Eddystone Plant in Eddystone, Pennsylvania, so it would go through all those various stages and finally be packaged for sale. And usually, now this was not material owned by Bancroft, they were a processor for other peoples' products. They didn't own them, any of the material as far as I know, and I don't think they do today, they're still doing this today, but on a smaller scale. There was always a little excess when you stretched the material - you'd run it through a frame, long frame that they called it, for stretching purposes. Part of the contract was who got the excess.

    Tremaine: Did they have a store - second store?

    Elizabeth: They had a mill store.

    Hallam: Yeah, there was a store that was not really a part of Bancroft, though, but it was sort of a tag-along outfit, and that's the Everfast Mill Store, which is still going today. That was a totally separate company, and they were, of course, very tied with Bancroft because part of their contracts, I gather for doing the material, was who got the excess, and if Bancroft got it, it went through these people for sale. They also bought remnants from other people as well, other companies. The company, as far as I know, had no outlet other than through Everfast Mill Store and that was just a friendly group that grew up with the Bancroft Company. And they were all personal friends of each other, but it was not really a part of the Bancroft organization. I can still remember when I was down in the mills, seeing this large room at the end of the mill full of women who were sewing. And it was the kind of thing you'd see in what you'd think of the garment district somewhere. But it was actually done here at the Bancroft Mill as well.

    Tremaine: And the finished cloths and napkins would go back to some company?

    Hallam: I don't really know who owned them. I don't know whether they were doing this for another company, for instance, or whether it was a product of their own, I'm not sure how it was done.

    Elizabeth: Who was Stevens?

    Hallam: Well, Stevens is a big name - like Burlington - Stevens is a big name in the material world. Most likely they were doing this for other companies.

    Tremaine: How did the material come in, was it in bolts or round drums?

    Hallam: I think it was more in large bales. It was received at the Kentmere end of the mill usually in - what did they call that - I forget the name of the building, it was up on a high hill up in the building, up at the end of the mill; I can't remember the name of the building. All the buildings had names, depending on what they did in the building, and this was just a gray goods storage building, but I thought it had a special name, it went from there into the Singe House, from the Singe House to the Bleach House, and from the Bleach House to the mercerized - or they had a copper black dyeing area. I can still remember that - that was a very permanent black dye they used. I don't remember the name of that particular building, but I remember - I think it was primarily bales and large boxes.

    Tremaine: And then when it was finally finished and left...

    Hallam: Well, it could be in all kinds of forms - it could be in rolls, very large rolls, it could probably be folded, I'm not really sure. You know some of it was finished all the way to the point of making book cloth - the book covering, and that was the case of putting a very heavy plastic on top of the yard, on top of the material, and then embossing it with the pattern of the book cloth. That was quite a process they went through to get book cloth material. And they made - what would you call it - like an oilcloth. These were various processes that they also handled.

    Let's see, I can remember the large embossing machines that did the book cloth embossing, and had another area called the arrow stock which was part of the book cloth process as well. But that was a very thick, gummy-like plastic that was spread on top of the cloth and then embossed into the material real hard. So they did a lot of little things like that along the side; during the war they processed a lot of camouflage material, the kids have pajamas made out of camouflage material all around Rockford, I remember seeing them hanging on the line (laughs). I can remember, too, they processed printed American flags all different sizes. I don't know how that came about, but I can remember at one time they went through and everybody managed to snip off a couple of flags before it made it out to the end of the mill.

    Elizabeth: We all owned flags.

    Hallam: Oh they did a lot of specialty stuff like that I guess.

    Tremaine: Now when was the date when the mills closed?

    Hallam: Well the mill is still going now. The mill as Bancroft Company ceased - oh Lord, a good ten years ago when it became somewhat of a family squabble between the Clarke Company and the people over here and they ended up selling the place to Indianhead Mills, so Bancroft ceased to exist as Bancroft Company. And it went to Indianhead Mills and then Indianhead went in there and they chopped it all to pieces. If something didn't look like it was making any money, they got rid of it. So they in essence shut down a good half of the mill, did away with a lot of employees. Eventually I think they were getting ready to shut the whole thing down, and those people who had grown up with the mill managed to go in town, and wherever they had to go, and they borrowed enough money to buy the place, and they are running it today. It's a lot smaller in scope, but they're still doing pretty good.
    Keywords: Clarke Company; dyeing; Everfast Mill Store; J.P. Stevens and Co. Indianhead Mills; Kentmere; Pennsylvania--Eddystone; raw gray goods; Sewing; singeing; Textile manufacturers; Work clothing; Workplace safety
  • Rockford area homes
    Partial Transcript: Tremaine: Was that when the homes...

    Hallam: Yeah, that's about the point where the homes started being sold off. The homes at the Kentmere end were such that they could...

    Hallam: ...oh, it's still going now. The mill as Bancroft Company ceased, oh Lord, a good ten years ago when there became somewhat of a family squabble between the Clarke Company and the people over here and they ended up selling the place to Indianhead Mills.

    The homes at the Kentmere end were such that they could sell them to the employees. They would kind of meet city building code. And the homes at Rockford had a private sewer system, they had a private electrical system that was not easily converted to the city. They had no fire wall between duplex homes which would have made it difficult, so for a long while they ended up in a couple of other hands. They went to Hiller Greenstein who was part of this Everfast Mill Store organization, and then he, in turn sold it to another group of men, let's see, I think they called themselves the Rock- ford Company, or something like that, but they're the ones that own them now and are gradually selling them off as town houses or private homes, whatever people want to make of them. So they have had to convert a lot of that area to meet building City codes, or City building codes, I should say. I don't know what they ever did about the water system. It was City water that we had, but the sewer system literally was processed in the company sewer; I presume they've had to get that out of the Bancroft sewer system because they were liter- ally treating City water and City rain water and everything and they were charging them. So there was a little bit of a flack over that when they realized what had been done all those years, but I guess they've gotten all that straightened out. I've lost track of it all.So those, yeah, those are some of the things I remember as I grew up around there.

    Tremaine: Well now your home, how did it strike you, the outside and when you were coming in the door?

    Hallam: Okay, alright - originally, when you were walking into the home, you would walk into a small hall- way, and the hallway would lead right into the Steps to go up to the upper floors. The home was a basement, first, second and attic area - third floor attic was really big enough for rooms, it wasn't strictly storage.

    As you walked into the little hallway, you had a pipeless hot-air heater which came through a large grate from the basement up. Heat was not piped throughout the house. Some of the homes didn't have those, those were the later additions, some of the other homes - I know Rockford was built in stages - some of them had the old kerosene type furnace in the living room, which of course went on out through a chimney, but never- the less, it was a large kerosene furnace. Kitchens had - I don't remember coal or wood-type cook stoves, but they just had to be in that area. I don't see how they could not have been there. I know that the first hot water heaters were a bucket a day stoves, we called them, old pot- belly bucket a days that were usually placed in the kitchen, or you had what you called a Lion Heater, which was a gas heating system and a hot water storage tank. And the Lion Heater is nothing but a gas flame down at the base of it and it had a coil of pipe over it and you would open a little door and light the thing with a match and close the door and heat enough hot water to do whatever job you wanted and then turn the thing off again, you didn't keep that tank full of hot water all the time. So you had either the Lion Heater or the coal fired bucket a day stove in the kitchen.

    Now, again going back, you would come in the living room and you would turn to your left - I mean come into the hallway and turn to your left and go into the living room area, turn to your right and go into the dining area.

    Tremaine: How large was the living room?

    Elizabeth: Pretty good size.

    Hallam: They weren't really large, no, I'd say they were about - oh, eleven or twelve by fifteen - seven- teen feet. Now most people took down the wall that formed the little hallway and you ended up having the entrance into the living room with an exposed stairwell going upstairs, you know these were 180 degree winding stairs. So you had part of that 180 exposed to the living room, of the railing, they just took down the one wall and made the living room much larger.

    Upstairs we had the bath and two bedrooms on the second floor and then two bedrooms on the third floor. A lot of people ended up putting concrete in the basement and making a nice concrete floor and taking one of the back cellar windows and busting it out and making an exit door. Most of those things, I think, were fostered by my Father; we'd do it to our house, and everyone would see it and they'd like it and we'd end up doing it - helping all the neighbors. We concreted plenty of floors and both basement walls were - my God - twelve to eighteen inches of stone, and it wasn't an easy thing to bust a hole through that wall I'll tell you.

    Tremaine: They were regular pieces of stone?

    Hallam: They were regular stone, no concrete block, these were stone from the Brandywine granite area, and we ended up with a sledge hammer and busting them out. I help break up plenty of them when I was growing up around there.

    Tremaine: And you heated the second and third, or attic floor, with an open grill?

    Hallam: From the open grill from the basement. The heat would just rise up into those floors. And of course when you reach the third floor, it didn't get real warm up there, but none of us ever froze. I ended up taking over one of the attic bedrooms for my room, and my two sisters had the other one. Storm windows weren't popular those days, so - I don't know, you just never knew you should have been warm (laughs).

    You dressed differently, for one thing. You dressed to live warm. And I still say you did have tougher winters those days. I can remember an awful lot more snow when I was growing up than you have today. We had snow that would come almost up to the top of the fences in the front of the yard.

    Elizabeth: You couldn't see across the street - down the street - it would snow so high.

    Hallam: You just don't see snow like that anymore. The Brandywine used to freeze a couple feet thick. It didn't mean - if you go back to the living in the house - it didn't mean anything to get up in the morning and take your fingernails and scratch a hole in the ice on the window to see what the weather was outside. Those windows stayed frosted on the inside. So, you just dressed differently.

    Tremaine: Did you have screens?

    Hallam: We had screens - of course eventually when storm windows came into vogue, we put storm windows on the house, but we started off with a little screen that you would put under the window, then we eventually went to large screens that you would take off every fall and put the storm window on. Those were big, heavy windows in those days, you didn't have this nice lightweight aluminum, they were all heavy wood and that was quite a balancing act to lean out the window and hold one foot out the window with the window balanced on your foot while you tried to catch those two hooks at the top, see. You did this three storied up - never dropped one that I know of. I think I dropped a screen one time, I never dropped a window, but that was quite a balancing act. But there was something awful nice, also, about that old heater. When you were out sledding all hours of the night during the cold winter months, it was the best thing in the world to come running in and stand over that heater. You know it's a big difference from running into a house that's running about seventy-five to eighty degrees or something and when you could stand on a heater that was put- ting up a hundred degrees heat, you could thaw out pretty quick. That was the way the homes were heated, very few of them had anything - at least in the Rockford area, I don't remember Kentmere, I don't remember what their heating systems were right now, but the Rockford area, they were primarily - kerosene was phased out and just about everyone of them went to what you would call pipeless hot air before they did away with the homes.
    Keywords: Company-owned housing; Dwellings--Heating and ventilation; Hiller Greenstein; Kentmere; Kerosene heating; Lion Heater; Rockford; Sewer systems; Winter
  • Ice skating; Childhood in Rockford area; Swimming in the Brandywine; Working at country clubs
    Partial Transcript: Tremaine: Did you skate on the Brandywine?

    Hallam: Oh yeah, we skated on the Brandywine. We would skate on the Brandywine down at what we called First Dam, which is between Bancroft and the Experimental Station. We skated at Second Dam which was really at the Experimental Station and the Third Dam was up at Hagley Museum area. We skated up there - you could skate everywhere. It was a big thing to see the skaters out, particularly up at Hagley, because the water wasn't nearly as swift up in that area and you could skate pretty good distances. Quite a big skating area. Sledding, of course, was a big thing. Rockford Tower, Where they now have a monument - that monument didn't exist and the hill was higher and you could get some very good snows. You could come from - Rockford Tower, you could come down, and if you will, parallel - if you wanted to come down the street, you would swing off the hill and out onto the street and come down Red Oak Road, take a left when you hit Rockford Road and go all the way down through the Rockford Village and end up taking another left and going down into what was known as St. Helena. There were two groups of houses in the Rockford area, Rockford end of the mill; one was the larger group called Rockford Proper, and then down along the millrace, they had St. Helena, which was another row, probably fifteen or more houses. We could swing all the way down and end up at St. Helena and then we'd have to - we'd literally walk back through the woods to get back to the Tower. That was a long ride, you're talking about - I don't know, quarter of a mile ride, all downhill. And the other route you would come down and across the field and across the one road that cuts through the parkland up at Rockford Tower area, and to on down into the roads that were put in there for the early trolley days. You know there were trolleys that ran all the way along the Brandywine. I can remember going down through the woods, through these old trolley paths and actually hitting the railroad tracks. 'Cause I can remember my uncle broke the best sled we had by coming down there on the sled and hitting the railroad track and broke the runner. Those were really snowy days that we had, you just don't get that kind of snow today. There was a big difference.

    Speaking of the trolleys, that was another one that they used to pull on the trolleys. The trolley would come down Rockford Road and make a left and head on up through the woods, up along the Experimental Station, and I don't remember how far it went. It went quite a ways. It would go up past, I think, what we called the Silver Bridge, which was the low bridge on the Brandywine beneath the Tyler McConnell, the one they just recently repaired, and I don't know how much further up the Brandywine that one went.

    But my Father and his gang, they used to get the old brown beeswax soap. They knew right where the trolley had to put his speed on to get up the hill and they'd soap the tracks, and he'd get up about halfway up the hill and slide all the way back. Those were some of the things the boys did.

    Tremaine: Were they ever caught?

    Hallam: A few times (laughs). Back in those days when the motorman would catch them, they'd give them a good swift kick in the rear end. They didn't go through this family court bologna, they just whacked them a few times if they caught them.

    Tremaine: Did they go to the parents at all? Hallam: Oh I'm sure they did. I can remember jumping on the train coming out of Bancroft's as a kid. The train would come out carrying the material and we used to jump on and ride for a While, and we got caught and when we came home we got the second whack (laughs).

    Tremaine: No one got hurt ever?

    Elizabeth: No, no, no one ever got hurt. In fact I don't even remember very many drownings in the Brandywine, there would probably be a few, but it was never the ones that grew up in the Brandywine. It would always be some City boy that came out and really didn't know how to swim. 'Cause we learned to swim as soon as you could walk to the Brandywine and somebody threw you over and made you learn to swim. And it was pretty swift, the Brandywine was pretty swift in some areas. That used to be the challenge, to see if you could out swim those rapids.

    Tremaine: And if you couldn't?

    Hallam: Well, you'd drift on downstream. You knew how to ride the rapid water, just like a log, and you'd go over the rocks and around them. It was a big thing. We used to swim under the metal gates and into the race. In fact I've still got a big cut where I dove into the millrace one time and scraped the bottom, but that was part of growing up around Rockford.

    Tremaine: What did you wear when you went swimming?

    Hallam: At First Dam - nothing (laughs). When you went up to Beechies on the Second Dam, those were literally called Depression Beach, because they were the depression days. And the people that lived close enough to the Brandywine, that was your entertainment. They went down, they had big picnics there. This would have been directly opposite the Experimental Station. Everyone got on the rocks or onto the banks with towels and blankets and picnic baskets, families went down there. These were families. But downstream be- longed to the boys.

    Tremaine: No girls allowed?

    Hallam: No girls allowed down there.

    Tremaine: Did they have a place further upstream?

    Hallam: No. No, they weren't as - I guess in those days they weren't quite as liberated as they are today (laughs). You know, that was a big form of entertainment for people in the depression days. I guess, I don't remember picnics up at the Tower, you know the Rockford Tower area. There were a lot of them. There are probably as many now, though, that the parks have taken over and put in a lot of facilities for it, but there were a lot of picnics up there. We played a lot of baseball and things during the evening in the fields around the Rockford area. Those were the kind of things I'm sure were done even in my Father's time. You had to make your own entertainment more so. You went to the movie once a week if you were lucky enough to get twenty-six cents.We caddied when we were old enough to learn how to caddy. We would go up and caddy up at the Du Pont Country Club. That was a big thing, there or the Wilmington Country Club up on Pennsylvania Avenue.

    Tremaine: You don't remember how much they paid you do you?

    Hallam: Probably a dollar or a dollar and a half for carrying for eighteen holes.

    Tremaine: And then were you allowed to play early in the morning?

    Hallam: They usually had one morning a week that was the caddy's day and you could go up and play, right. And I also remember that usually about half of what you earned you turned into the house. That was part of what you did those days.

    Tremaine: Did they give any medals to the caddies or recognition?

    Hallam: None that I recall, no. I don't remember any of that. Of course we also got into Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts as we were growing up. I don't remember Dad ever talking much about that in his time, but it was a big thing when we were growing up. We've been in all of them. I guess those were the main things unless you've got some other ideas to spark some more thoughts.
    Keywords: Du Pont Country Club; DuPont Experimental Station; Golf Caddy; Great Depression; ice skating; millrace; Rockford Tower (Wilmington, Del.); sledding; Street-railroads; Wilmington Country Club
  • Vacations; Culture at Bancroft; Life in Rockford
    Partial Transcript: Tremaine: I was wondering about vacations - do you remember your father speaking of vacations in the early days?

    Elizabeth: The company used to provide trolleys or something to go?

    Hallam: No, they would have their little company excursions like I talked about, but those were usually one-day things. And the foreman, in the mill, they had their evenings that they would go up to a ball game or something like that. Again, they'd go to Philadelphia usually. That was sort of later on, they would get - they would literally hire a bus for that kind of a trip. You know this was a little later when the buses were more in vogue than using the company trucks. No, I don't remember too much about vacations.

    We would go up to Rhode Island, that was one of our trips, of course, to go up and visit family up there. And as we grew up a little bit, we used to go down to Rehoboth a lot. We did a lot of camping down there when camping was very prominent on the public lands down there. In fact, people didn't just put a tent up, you rented a plot for the whole summer, and you literally put a tent up there and left it for the whole summer.

    Tremaine: Oh - came back up and went down again?

    Hallam: Yeah, leave it there for the whole summer and every weekend we would go down, and this probably costs you five dollars a months or something like that for the public - or the State rather. Our place wasn't a tent, we built one out of two by fours and covered it with oilcloth, probably even supplied by the mill, I'm not sure, but it was really a cloth cabin that we built which was a little better than a tent. And a lot of people at Rockford had the same thing. Everyone took care of everyone's place, there wasn't any stealing or anything going on down there those days. So that was a big thing when I was small.Well, I guess you didn't get as much vacation as you do these days, big difference today in vacation plans that companies have. Those were the kind of things we did. I don't know what other type of ideas you...

    Tremaine: Well, unless you think of something else.

    Hallam: No, I can't think of much else. You're probably more interested in earlier than my time there, so I don't remember an awful lot of it.

    Tremaine: Yes, but I still think it's important to cover -you know now - we're just now thinking we should get records on all this.

    Hallam: Well, I don't know, I think Bancroft was a very unique place in that it probably was one of the better examples of a paternal company, if you will, with its own little village, mill village. In fact, if I'm not mistaken, I think the Smithsonian came up through there and took a lot of photographs to record Rockford as a mill village, if you will, one of the better examples of a mill village in the country. It was a very close community.

    Tremaine: I wonder how it would compare to the ones in New England?

    Hallam: I don't really know much about up in New England what it would be like. I don't have any very good way of knowing those. But there were a lot of close ties with friends. Oh, the neighbor- hoods were more clannish in those days. Like the Forty Acres, there was a Forty Acres gang, there was a Rockford gang, and there was a Kentmere gang, and there was some rivalry. Even some good fights once in a while, I'm sure. Yeah, yeah, growing boys, but none of them were anything really big, it was just something to do. Not much of it. But, you know, there would be ball games between the different groups. But other than that, why it was a different life than there are today. I don't think you see neighborhoods as they were those days. Nobody would ever live for years and never have a lock on the door today.

    Elizabeth: Oh, we didn't have a key, we didn't even have a lock.

    Hallam: It was a different kind of life.

    Elizabeth: We moved here twenty-eight years ago, I never locked my door - left the windows open. Everybody knew everybody else's business. When we had street parties, block off the top of Ivy Road. Everybody would contribute something - I would make rolls and somebody else would make ginger cakes and have a street dance. Just the local gangs.

    Hallam: Well, there was a lot of participation in the church activities - like bake sales were very big those days, and all the people in the neighborhood had their specialty. The woman next door to us, Gert Horgan, she made the best sticky buns that you ever tasted. Mother, she made hot rolls, that was her specialty. Edna Murphy made the best darn ginger cakes you ever ate. I know lard was the basis - it was a molasses cake really, it was about that thick and she'd cut them out with a glass so they would be about that big around and probably all the wrong things for you to eat, but you can still remember them. A woman up the street was from Scotland and she made a Scottish pound cake which she still makes for me - she lives down in Rehoboth now, she gives me one every Christmas. It's still one of the best darn cakes you'd ever want to eat. It's not over sweet, it's just something that grows on you. I freeze it and eat it very slowly (laughs).

    All the churches had their various bake sales. It was a big thing in those days. Mother mentioned street dances to raise money for the ball team. They would go do to the mill and get a bunch of lumber and come up and build - they had one empty lot right in the middle of Rockford - and they'd build a big stage and they'd put on street dances and have music and people would get up and kind of entertain. This was to raise money for the ball team, things like that.

    Elizabeth: I sat up on Al Slogan's knee singing.

    Hallam: He sat on your knee, you sang, "Climb Upon My Knee, Sonny Boy."

    Elizabeth: "Sonny Boy" - oh my, the things we did, but we had a lot of fun. I mean we really did have a good time.

    Hallam: Somewhere we still have a picture of you and Gert Horgan, Harry Walsh, Miss Peggin - the Belles of Ivy Road - they're all sitting out in the middle of the street with a hose on them (laughs). We kid about it even today - that was how you got cool in the summer.

    Elizabeth: Nobody had a fan.

    Hallam: When we used to come in from sledding, and we'd go to bed, they'd put on our snowsuits and they'd go out in the snow and sled.

    Elizabeth: We did - went up to the Tower, come down from the Tower. All the mothers went out, the kids didn't know I was out the door. They liked it pretty good. But those days are gone forever - the good old days.

    Hallam: I guess from Dad's time, you know the kind of things I mentioned, like they literally went up and swiped the powder from the powder mill. One of the things they used the powder for was the cannon. And the second things they would do, they would get hold of some - I guess it was sulfur and saltpeter and they'd mix this together and put little piles of it on the railroad - on the trolley track and when the trolley would come roading down the hill, each pile would explode as the wheel hit it, and it ground it a little bit. And I guess that was the only accident they ever had. Dad said they were mixing that one time and a tin of it went off, and one fellow was burned, but not bad. But that was the only time I ever heard of an accident from it.We used to lay along the Brandywine down below First Dam and in the area between the millrace and the mill itself, and there was sort of a sandy area, and when they would have a large rainfall somewhere, they'd have a lot of smokeless powder would come down from the powder mills and get embedded in the sand and mud. And when we had nothing to do during the summer, we'd lay there and we'd pick these - looked like, well I think they were literally called noodles, weren't they? We'd pick these pieces out of the sand and when the day was done and we'd have a pile of what we'd been digging out all day, we'd light a match to it and when that burned, that was the end of the day. I used to have some of that around, I don't think I have it anymore, but I had some in the house here. In fact somewhere I used to have a coil of the black fuse that was used to light the powder. I don't know whether I have that around anymore or not, could be - could be down the cellar. I have about probably a small coil of fuse about that big around. So those were the things that I would remember of the Brandywine area.

    Tremaine: You spoke of an uncle.

    Hallam: Yeah, I have an uncle Daniel Hallam, Daniel W. Hallam, and he lives on Weldin Road up in Liftwood. I'll get you his phone number.

    Tremaine: Oh, you're hooked up.

    Hallam: Yes, I'll watch myself here, I'll just grab the telephone book.

    Tremaine: I just didn't want you to walk away.

    Hallam: I'll get the phone book - I think it's 764-4868, but I thought I'd better check that for you.

    Tremaine: And he...

    Hallam: Well, he would remember earlier than I would be- cause he grew up in the area. Yes, 764-4868. Now he could remember some, and the other one would be Catherine Walsh, and I'll get your Catherine's phone number, because I think Catherine's not much older than me, a little, but she's the kind of a person who would remember a lot of family- oriented things, and I think she had a lot of family that lived up in the Hagley area. I've tried to call her several times. Cath - Catherine Walsh, W-A-L-S-H - 656-7062. And she lives in Brandywine Hundred Apartments on Platt (Sp) Road, Apartment 4A6, the last I knew. And I think Catherine - if I'm remembering right, she had a lot of relatives that lived in that area and worked up, probably, in the powder mill. And I'll bet she could firmly recall a lot of it. She's the kind of person that had an excellent memory for this sort of thing.

    Tremaine: It could be that her name is on the list, there are two lists, and I just have one list, and I don't know who's on the other list, but that's why I put it down and then I'll give it to Frank.

    Hallam: Well her, as I say, her family had the home two homes up from us, three homes up from us on Ivy Road and it was probably in the Walsh name longer than any other company-owned home was in any name, so they were long-time residents of Rockford, and I think a lot of the other related family relatives and all, I think, lived up in the Hagley area. Probably working at the powder mill. Oh, we used to swim all the way up to the mill when we wanted to. You learned to be a good swimmer in those days.

    Tremaine: I guess so.

    Hallam: You learned to swim with your head out of the water because it wasn't too clean those days.

    Tremaine: It was used as drinking water then too?

    Hallam: Yeah, as far as I know, the City was still using it as drinking water. But I can remember getting out of the water to let a big patch of blue dye go by that the Experimental Station had dumped in.

    Tremaine: All the different mills dumped things in?

    Hallam: I think probably all the way up the Brandywine people dumped in it.

    Tremaine: But people didn't seem to get sick.

    Hallam: Well, the polio came along in the time frame when we were growing up and they always used to blame that on sewage in the water supply, but I don't remember any of us who swam the Brandywine who probably got the sewage from upstream somewhere up the line, none of us got polio that I know of.

    Elizabeth: I don't remember any polio.

    Hallam: I can remember Bill Crumlish, the plumber, he said if you were going to get polio, he'd have had it a long time ago, being a plumber. He didn't believe them. I'm sure it wasn't as clean a water as it should have been. Kind of a common practice to dump the industrial wastes out, everybody did it.

    Tremaine: Were there fish there, did you go fishing?

    Hallam: Yeah, there weren't too many fish that were good to eat as far as I was concerned. We caught what we called "Sunnies" and there were some carp, which I never thought much of the carp, but that was about all. Is the cat chasing somebody.

    Elizabeth: Cat chasing somebody over in (inaudible) yard. Our cat, always chasing - we have two cats.

    Hallam: Well, we have five.

    Tremaine: Oh, five (laughs).

    Hallam: I'm a sucker for the little strays. That's the only one I bought, all the rest have walked in.

    Elizabeth: Walked in and stayed.

    Hallam: I only had four, but we have one neighborhood stray tom cat - I have a little window door that they can go in, and he figured if they could go in and get food, he will too, so he's coming in and out right along with the rest of them, I guess mainly we're a hotel or not. He's behaving himself pretty good.

    (More miscellaneous comments about the cats.)

    Tremaine: I'm going to turn this over - end of Side 1 (actually end of Tape 1, Side B).
    Keywords: Camping; church activities; community; Joseph Bancroft and Sons Co.; mill village; Pets; pranks; Rehoboth Beach (Del.); sledding; Vacations

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