Interview with Ella Fitzharris, 1985 August 8 [audio](part 1)

Hagley ID:
  • Memories of her Grandmother Farren, a neighborhood midwife; storing potatoes and other goods in the attic of their house near Walker's Mill; impression of powder yard explosions
    Keywords: aprons; attic; bicycle; box shop; Breck's Mill; checked gingham; DuPont Experimental Station; explosions; grandmother; Keg Mill; Lower Yard; midwives; moth balls; pine box; St. Joseph's School; Walker's Mill; Walkers Bank
    Transcript: Lotter: This is Marge Lotter, the date is August 8, 1985, I'm going to the home of Ella Fitzharris in Wilmington this morning for an oral interview.

    Fitzharris: Start now?

    Lotter: Yes, would you...

    Fitzharris: Ella Fitzharris, 1510 Delaware Avenue, Apartment AlA, Wilmington, Delaware.

    Lotter: Now, one thing I wanted to cover before we get to the questionnaire, you mentioned your grandmother Farren. You said she was a midwife?

    Fitzharris: Nanna, yes, Nanna Farren.

    Lotter: Nanna Farren. Can you tell me a little bit about what you remember about Nanna Farren?

    Fitzharris: Well, she was short, stout, and I think a very pretty lady. She had snow white hair, and she was very kind to all the children in the neighborhood. And just a typical grandmother, so I think she died when I was about seventeen, so that's all that I remember. She lived with my aunt, Mrs. Hazzard's mother. That wasn't too far from our house, she lived in Walker's Bank, where the houses are still standing there, and we lived further down the road by Walker's Mill, but they have been torn down years ago.

    Lotter: Did you live in a single house or a bank?

    Fitzharris: No, it was a semi-detached, was sort of stucco and they whitewashed it. I lived directly across from Hagley House, you know the Breck's Mill, Breck's Lane, right across the dam from there, that's where I was born.

    Lotter: And do you remember your grandmother going out to deliver babies?

    Fitzharris: Well, I remember she went here and there, but of course I didn't know just what she was doing. She visited everybody you know, and she was just always going someplace to help out, because I guess she had to, I mean her husband was dead and that was the only income she had.

    Lotter: Certainly, certainly. Did she take anything with her?

    Fitzharris: As far as I remember, she had some sort of a bag, but I don't know, a little black bag or something, but everybody just referred to her - Nanna, there goes Nanna. Course we didn't inquire about it you know. So, that's about all I remember.

    Lotter: And you mentioned that she had a couple different aprons?

    Fitzharris: Oh yes, she had her Sunday apron and her everyday apron. Everyday apron was a checked gingham, Sun- day was sort of a white linen with lace on the bottom. You could always distinguish the days.

    Lotter: Now the checked gingham, what color was it?

    Fitzharris: Blue. Little tiny check, and she wore sort of gray house dresses, but on Sunday, it was black, black dress with the white apron. I suppose she came from church and just kept it on.

    Lotter: And her dresses during the week would be the one-piece dresses, or was it a skirt and a top?

    Fitzharris: Really I don't know, she was so heavy, you know, with the apron, I don't know. I assumed it was one piece. Seemed like it was very padded up here, you know, little tucks.

    Lotter: Oh, I see. Did she sew her own clothes?

    Fitzharris: I'm not sure, I think my Aunt Rose, which is Mrs. Hazzard's mother, I think she did. Now I might be mistaken, but I think she did the sewing.

    Lotter: Okay, we'll go ahead and start on the questionnaire. What do you remember about your attic?

    Fitzharris: It was pitched roof, you couldn't stand up on the sides, you could stand up in the center, one little window, very, very hot. Didn't go up there very much. That's where we kept our potatoes, why they kept the potatoes all the way up there, I'll never know, but I guess it was the only storage place because they didn't have cellars.

    Lotter: But the attic wasn't finished off at all?

    Fitzharris: Yes, it was plastered, like whitewashed.

    Lotter: Oh, it was?

    Fitzharris: Oh yes.

    Lotter: So it could have been used as a room if you needed it?

    Fitzharris: If you had to, but it just had one small window, it wouldn't be very good. I suppose, years ago, people did use it. We never used it for a bedroom.

    Lotter: What else did you store up there beside the potatoes?

    Fitzharris: Well, I remember my Mother had a bicycle, that was stored there. And we had a box that we kept all clothes in. Must have been off-season clothes, I don't know, because when Mother died, a lot of her clothes were in that box.

    Lotter: What kind of a box was it?

    Fitzharris: Just a pine wooden box with a lid that you lifted off. Maybe about five foot long and - I'm no judge of width - maybe three feet wide, or something like that. I guess probably Pop or somebody made it, it was nothing fancy.

    Lotter: I see, now when you stored your woolen clothes, did you put anything in there to...

    Fitzharris: That I don't remember.

    Lotter: You don't remember.

    Fitzharris: I think after Mother died, see I was only seven, and when Mother died my Dad had different ladies in the neighborhood come in and do things, like for the laundry and things like that, so evidently they took care of that - I don't remember.

    Lotter: I see, so they came in and did the laundry?

    Fitzharris: Yeah, u-huh, but I don't remember what things they used like, I guess moth flakes or moth balls, everybody used moth balls in those years, you know.

    Lotter: You don't remember, then, taking the laundry out to someone to...

    Fitzharris: No, not in the beginning, but later on we had to take it up to Squirrel Run which was a long distance, an Italian lady used to do it. But we took it on Mondays on our way to St. Joseph's School, and we picked it up on Friday, why it took so long, I don't know.

    Lotter: Do you remember anything else about your attic, do you ever remember going up there to play or...

    Fitzharris: Getting potatoes, and I remember when there was an explosion.

    Lotter: Oh, is that right?

    Fitzharris: We had an explosion and I was up there - my sister tilted the barrel so I could get potatoes out, and as children will do, she let the barrel go back up and I was on my head in there and there was an explosion at the time, and I can remember never wanting to go up in that attic after that. Whether I did, I don't know, but those explosions were terrible.

    Lotter: I'm sure they were.

    Fitzharris: I don't know what year that was, but it would have to be before 1918 'cause Mother died in 1918. Oh my, those...

    Lotter: So you were pretty young?

    Fitzharris: Oh, the windows rattled - yeah, I was seven when Mother died, see so - she died in June. I was seven that same month. It wasn't too much I can remember like being six - you know I remember my Mother and as I say, my Grandmother, you know.

    Lotter: Do you remember any other explosions?

    Fitzharris: I do, I remember several, but I can't place the dates.

    Lotter: What do you remember about them?

    Fitzharris: Well, I remember I had a girlfriend that lived up directly across from the museum, place called Keg Mill, I don't know whether you've ever heard of that.

    Lotter: Keg Mill?

    Fitzharris: U-huh.

    Lotter: No, I haven't.

    Fitzharris: Well, it's a little - it's on the opposite side of the Hagley Museum and up a little further and there was two houses up there in my time, but previous to that there was about six houses, and she lived there and I remember she had a married sister that came home to live, her husband was ill, their name was Thompson, and I remember the little boy was in bed and the explosion knocked him out. I thought that was terrible, I mean you can imagine anybody being knocked out of bed, a little boy, and the windows were all broken. But there again, I don't know what year it would be, but I do remember lots of times the different noises and they'd say, "Oh, there's another explosion."

    Lotter: Anything else that your remember in particular about an explosion?

    Fitzharris: I remember Mr. - I think his name was Williams - used to go around and pick up the parts of the bodies that were blown out, you know, they were blown across the Brandywine on the side where we lived, and I remember talking to him, and he had this bag, 'course we didn't know what was in it, you know. I mean, if you could just look back and remember all those things, but you just sort of take things for granted, you know, say "Oh, there's an explosion, there goes Mr. Williams."

    Lotter: Yeah, I think you learn to live with things.

    Fitzharris: Yeah, you just - well when you're young like that, you don't think it's that important, I guess you know. 'Course now, we would think - I wouldn't go near a person if I thought they had parts of a body you know. And I do remember, I think it's more hearsay than remember, but every time there was an explosion, the priest from St. Joseph's would go down to the gate, you know, to see who was in the explosion.

    Lotter: Now, how about your Father, didn't he work in the powder yard?

    Fitzharris: He worked up there, but...

    Lotter: Was he ever in the yard when there was an explosion?

    Fitzharris: That I don't - I don't know, I really couldn't say. I know he had his three fingers amputated - how, he got it caught in the wheels or something, but he had three fingers amputated. But there again, I don't remember him talking much about it. I don't think he worked up there too long, and then he came down to what they called the Lower Yard, the DuPont Experimental Station. He worked there most of the time.

    Lotter: Oh, I see.

    Fitzharris: But I think when he, I'm not sure, but I know he went to work when he was thirteen, and whether he went up there - I think he did - I remember my aunts talking about box shops, what that was I - whether they just made the boxes there or what they did, I couldn't say that he worked in there.

    Lotter: I see.
  • Her other grandmother bringing flowers and ginger cookies when visiting; sheds used for laundry and storing wood, coal, tools, and cooking oil
    Keywords: bluing; breezeways; canned peaches; clothes props; clotheslines; coal stove; crosscut saw; ginger cookies; iron rake; kindling wood; larkspur; Laundry; Number 7 trolley; Octagon soap; oil barrels; oil stoves; sheds; sickle; Street-railroads; Toonerville Trolley; trolley cars; wash tubs
    Transcript: Lotter: How about your cellar?

    Fitzharris: We didn't have cellars.

    Lotter: You didn't have a cellar at all, your house was built into the side of the hill, wasn't it?

    Fitzharris: U-huh.

    Lotter: How about canning?

    Fitzharris: Well, I guess my Mother - I know my Mother was supposed to be a very good cook, and I'm sure she did that. I remember having canned peaches, but I can't remember her actually doing it, you know, I'm sure she did, but I just couldn't...

    Lotter: Do you remember your grandmother doing any canning?

    Fitzharris: No, not Grandmother Farren, I remember my Mother's mother used to come up and she used to bring things - there again, I don't remember seeing her canning. She used to live here on Pennsylvania Avenue, right back there.

    Lotter: Oh, did she?

    Fitzharris: Yeah, m-huh.

    Lotter: What else do you remember about your other grandmother?

    Fitzharris: She had lovely flowers, really a beautiful yard. I can remember, I think she had every kind of a flower, all around the fences, you know the whitewashed fences, you know, and I remember when she'd come up, she'd always bring a bouquet of flowers and a box of cookies.

    Lotter: Do you remember any particular flowers, did you have any favorites?

    Fitzharris: No, but I - one flower I think I found out from her was Larkspur, do you remember what that is?

    Lotter: Yes, I do know what that is.

    Fitzharris: But I know she had a lot of flowers - like petunias and things like that you know, but her yard was just very colorful. Everybody remarked about that.

    Lotter: Oh, I'm sure it was, it must have been beautiful. What kind of cookies did she bring you?

    Fitzharris: Ginger - little round ginger cookies. I remember she brought those up in sort of a - oh we have them now like a wicker basket, you know, had a lid on it, just a round oval wicker basket. She always had that, she never came without the basket.

    Lotter: And how did she get there?

    Fitzharris: I don't know, I really don't know. I mean that was a long distance, there weren't cars, probably horse and wagon, I really don't know. 'Course years after that there was No. 7 trolley came up, but how she would get on that from Pennsylvania Avenue, I don't know because it came out - guess it came out Delaware Avenue and down through Rockford - do you know where Rockford is?

    Lotter: Yes, yes I do.

    Fitzharris: And up along the woods. Whether she got that someplace, she could have gotten that, I don't know.

    Lotter: She may have, yeah.

    Fitzharris: The old Toonerville they called it.

    Lotter: Oh, is that right?

    Fitzharris: Toonerville Trolley.

    Lotter: How about sheds, separate sheds.

    Fitzharris: Oh, everybody had a shed. We had a huge one, coal in one place, wood in the other and I think that's where my Mother did her washing on a bench, you know, big tubs, wooden tubs.

    Lotter: Was this shed attached to the house or - it was completely separate?

    Fitzharris: No, it was...I guess like a two-car garage would be now and had a high roof, but it was between the house and that was a wooden platform where people would call probably now, breezeways, but it didn't have any roof on it.

    Lotter: I see, u-huh. What kind of tubs did your mother use for washing?

    Fitzharris: Round wooden.

    Lotter: Wooden - and did she have them on a stand or were they...

    Fitzharris: On a bench.

    Lotter: On a bench?

    Fitzharris: Two could fit on the bench and she did her - boiled her clothes in a boiler, had a big stick to stir the things. And there again, they had to carry all the water from about two houses down, you know, they didn't have running water.

    Lotter: Oh, that must have been a job.

    Fitzharris: I think Dad did that on Sunday night, you know, they had to wash religiously on Monday, come hell or high water [laughs].

    Lotter: Do you remember anything else about her washing? Did she ever use bluing?

    Fitzharris: Yes, I remember that. I think you can still buy it in those bottles.

    Lotter: I think you can.

    Fitzharris: And it had like a little wooden stopper on it, and Octagon soap, I remember that, but as far as soap powder, I don't know whether she chipped the soap, I think they did, but everybody had Octagon soap, it's a brown...

    Lotter: So she heated the water, then, in a big boiler on the stove.

    Fitzharris: On the stove and she put the white clothes in that, that would be to sterilize them, boil them, and then she used that water to wash the colored clothes too - on a board, on a board. And then after that, to conserve water, they scrubbed porches with it, you know, the soapy water.

    Lotter: Oh my goodness.

    Fitzharris: I mean they had to, you know, you could never carry water for things like that, but everybody had their porches scrubbed on Mondays I remember. I don't know what they did if it rained, because they always washed - I remember a friend of mine saying that her grandmother would have a fit if she couldn't get her clothes out first, she'd maybe take one thing out to say she was the first one to have her clothes, you know. Now they don't bother about things like that.

    Lotter: What kind of clotheslines, and where did they hang the clothes?

    Fitzharris: Like from the shed to the porch roof - porch post.

    Lotter: And what kind of a clothesline did they use?

    Fitzharris: Just a regular rope with wooden...

    Lotter: I see, no wire lines?

    Fitzharris: Oh no, no. The people did, but we never did, we had rope and we had wooden clothes props which had to be pained all the time so you wouldn't get splinters, you know.

    Lotter: Oh, that was a good idea, yes. Who painted them?

    Fitzharris: Pop.

    Lotter: Oh, he did?

    Fitzharris: I remember, speaking of clothes props, I had two up at Breck's Lane and they were always painted and my son took them and he painted them again. Well they've been in the, for years they were in the family.

    Lotter: Well, they made them to last, didn't they. Do you remember anything else in the shed?

    Fitzharris: Just the wood and coal, we had to keep in there.

    Lotter: I see, so it was used for storage?

    Fitzharris: Yeah, and one - we had most of the heavy wood was in the big shed and we had a little tiny shed next to it, my Dad used to keep kindling wood, what he called, in there to start the fire, but you couldn't go from one shed to the other, you had to go outside.

    Lotter: Was there a reason that he had two separate sheds that you know of?

    Fitzharris: Yes, because he had a lot of kindling wood and it was much easier, like if he wanted to start the fire, we could always bring the kindling wood in, but he would have to bring the heavier wood in, you know. But it was very neat, it had to be piled just so.

    Lotter: How about tools, where did he keep...

    Fitzharris: In the shed also.

    Lotter: In the large shed?

    Fitzharris: U-huh - I think they had some sort of shelf in there if I'm not mistaken, he used to keep them all spread out on that.

    Lotter: I see. Did he have a workbench of any kind?

    Fitzharris: No - I was going to say, I don't think they had a lot of tools. They made do with - I can remember having one iron rake, but I remember he used to make, when it come time to rake leaves, he used to get twigs from trees and wire them together to get the leaves. That was easier than the rake to get under hedges and things.

    Lotter: Yes, I would imagine it would be.

    Fitzharris: I know we had that, we had a sickle and a crosscut saw, you know, two people had to use it.

    Lotter: Yes.

    Fitzharris: And then a small saw and hammers, but other than that - oh and there was a little barrel of nails, I do remember that. We used to get into that every once in a while, but that's about all.

    Lotter: Anything else you remember about the shed?

    Fitzharris: No, that's about all.

    Lotter: Were there any other...

    Fitzharris: Oh, pardon me, yes - we had oil to cook with, you know oil stoves, and the oil barrels were in there. Like they were, I guess they were five gallon, they were like a metal, a tin, and then they had wood around them, and I remember we had two of those. That was for the cooking.

    Lotter: Where did you have your oil stove?

    Fitzharris: In the kitchen.

    Lotter: I see, you had a big oil...

    Fitzharris: On a bench.

    Lotter: This was a big oil stove?

    Fitzharris: Yeah, three-burner cook stove, you know. And then of course in the winter time they used the coal stove to cook.

    Lotter: Oh, so you had two, you did have two stoves in the kitchen?

    Fitzharris: [Coughs] Pardon me - in the summertime you had to have oil, because it would be too hot.

    Lotter: Yes, I would think it would be.
  • Chores including scrubbing the outhouse and dusting; her father cleaning the bed slats; ordering from Larkin; Irish Stew and homemade ice cream
    Keywords: agate roaster; benches; brown soap; canned peaches; feather bed; homemade ice cream; Irish stew; Larkin; Larkin Soap Company; mattresses; Outhouses; steak and potatoes
    Transcript: Lotter: Now how about any other separate shed - did you have an outhouse?

    Fitzharris: Oh, naturally.

    Lotter: Where was that located?

    Fitzharris: Well, we had kind of a large yard and it was off to itself in the corner by the - where you go up into a big field, sort of into the bank.

    Lotter: I see, behind the house?

    Fitzharris: Yeah. Then of course they had a boardwalk up to it.

    Lotter: Oh, you did?

    Fitzharris: That's part of the life you don't like to remember [laughs].

    Lotter: I'm sure you don't and I think you said you had a two seater?

    Fitzharris: Yeah, and had to scrub it.

    Lotter: Oh, you did?

    Fitzharris: Oh, definitely.

    Lotter: What did you use to scrub it?

    Fitzharris: Brown soap and water and a big scrubbing brush. It's a wonder we ever had any hands left.

    Lotter: And this was your job?

    Fitzharris: Well, we all had to take turns, but I had to do most of it. After Mother died, my sister had her chores and I had mine, and of course Dad had the woman come in and clean once in a while, you know, but I can't remember just when they came, but one was a relative and one was another neighbor and they were very good to him, you know, help him out.

    Lotter: What other chores do you remember doing?

    Fitzharris: Dusting, I remember that, oh I used to hate that.

    Lotter: What did you use to dust with?

    Fitzharris: Just regular cloths and some kind of a - there was what they called a Larkin product - somebody had a, something like they have Avon today, come around, you know, and sell it. But I remember we had some kind of a Larkin polish. And I just didn't like to dust, and I still don't like to dust [laughs]. But I had to do it. I just couldn't stand that job.

    Lotter: How often did you have to do it?

    Fitzharris: I don't know. I know it had to be done for Saturday, I know that. And I think once during the week I'm not sure, but everything had to be done.

    Lotter: Your father was very particular about the house.

    Fitzharris: Everything had to be done Saturday and he - I remember him taking the beds apart and cleaning them, whatever he used, I don't know, you know. But we had feather beds then and mattresses, but I remember quite often he would take them apart and do all the slats and things, we never had to do that, but that was a chore. They had the feather bed and the mattress and the spring, and then the slats, you know, they were all wooden beds.

    Lotter: And how often did he do this?

    Fitzharris: I don't know, it seemed like he was always doing it as far as I'm concerned, probably every other month or something like that. I often wish we had some of those beautiful wooden beds now, I don't know what ever happened to them.

    Lotter: Oh, I'm sure you do.

    Fitzharris: But they were all engraved and you know, carved at the top.

    Lotter: They must have been beautiful.

    Fitzharris: Oh, they were. I remember he used to polish that, he used to polish the bed and it was always shiny. That is, you know the headboards were almost up to the ceiling and then the foot boards, they were up quite high, too. They were comfortable though.

    Lotter: I'm sure they were.

    Fitzharris: [Laughs] I didn't like the idea with the feather beds - not everybody had feather beds - I guess we were about the last to have them, and they were nice and warm in the wintertime, but you couldn't make a bed as pretty - when you put the spread on, you know, you know the bumps, how the feathers would be, you know. I was so glad when we got rid of those.

    Lotter: What did your father use to shine the bed, polish the bed?

    Fitzharris: I don't know, but I imagine it was the Larkin stuff, too, but he used to polish them.

    Lotter: So they carried all sorts of household products?

    Fitzharris: Oh they did - everything, mops and can openers and bottle openers, they came...

    Lotter: Would they be similar, say, to the Fuller Brush man?

    Fitzharris: Yes, definitely, about like that. But I think they came around in a wagon, I'm not sure, but everybody got from Larkin. And then there was, you sort of got a bonus I think, you bought so much and you, not accumulated I wouldn't say coupons, but you got a bonus after you bought so much, you know. I remember they used to get, like a roaster, an agate roaster. I remember my Mother did get one of those, now that I remember when I - as I say, I was just seven, but I do remember that. In fact, I have one very similar to it now, I did have one and I gave it to my daughter, sort of navy blue and white agate?

    Lotter: Oh yes, yes.

    Fitzharris: I remember that.

    Lotter: Now did they sell directly off the truck, or did you have to order these?

    Fitzharris: You had to order it and then they brought them.

    Lotter: And how long did it take to get them?

    Fitzharris: I don't really know, I assume maybe a week or so. But when Larkin man came through, of course all the ladies had to give their orders, you know. I don't what other prizes they got, but I do remember the roaster.

    Lotter: We were talking about the outhouse a little while ago - what did you use for toilet paper?

    Fitzharris: [Laughs] Anything I guess, tissue paper or anything you could get a hold of, nothing like they have today.

    Lotter: You don't remember the Sears catalog?

    Fitzharris: No, I don't remember it, people talk about that, but I - oh, we may have, now I'm not saying no, but there again, how did people ever survive. It's a wonder they didn't get all kinds of infections.

    Lotter: That's right. How about any attached sheds, do you remember any that were directly attached to the house?

    Fitzharris: People - some people did, but we didn't, not at all, Nanna Farren had one attached to hers, that row of houses that's still standing. You know she lived in the far end and she had a shed there and that's where she did all her washing. It was nice because you could go right off the porch onto it.

    Lotter: Yes, so most women did their washing in a shed. And did most women use benches to put the wooden wash tubs on as you recall...

    Fitzharris: I think so, u-huh.

    Lotter: There were no wooden stands for those, was that later on?

    Fitzharris: No, it was like a long bench, and I do think in later years, I know we - whether it was the same bench I don't know, but it was painted and it was on the front porch. You know, it was a wide bench, very nice - in fact, I'd like to have had one of those when I lived up the creek, I would like to have one on the porch, you know, the back porch.

    Lotter: Yes, that would have been nice.

    Fitzharris: But there again, they were painted all the time, always nice.

    Lotter: What color?

    Fitzharris: Gray, sort of a neutral color.

    Lotter: Was the shed painted?

    Fitzharris: Oh yes, it was gray too. Like I said, all they ever used was gray paint.

    Lotter: Do you remember Irish stew?

    Fitzharris: Oh definitely, every Monday.

    Lotter: Is that right?

    Fitzharris: Yeah. I don't remember everything that went into it - my Dad used to say when they had vegetable soup, used to always say, "Well, what's in it?" And he'd say, "Soup that's hot, and soup that's not, and soup that's made of God knows what." And that's the truth, I think they did put everything in soup.

    Lotter: I'm sure they did.

    Fitzharris: But everybody had Irish stew and I remember he used to make ice cream, fresh peach, fresh strawberry ice cream.

    Lotter: Oh, really?

    Fitzharris: Oh, every Sunday we had fresh ice cream.

    Lotter: Oh, that must have been a real treat.

    Fitzharris: It was a real treat. Soon as he come home from church, he'd make that. My Mother always had homemade cake and pie, and to this day there's something that I don't like - I like fresh peaches, but I remember sometimes in the wintertime when we couldn't get fresh fruit, they had canned peaches for dessert. Oh, they make me shiver, I can't stand canned peaches.

    Lotter: They don't compare with the fresh do they? Do you remember after your mother died, did your father make Irish stew?

    Fitzharris: He did, but we had - it seemed like we were always having, like steak and potatoes, that was the most thing, and to this day I do not like steak. I wouldn't thank you for steak.

    Lotter: Do you remember your mother cooking Irish stew in a certain type pot?

    Fitzharris: No, but I remember some of the pots we had were just great big tall pots with a handle on each side with a lid on it, you know, and there again, they were that...

    Lotter: She didn't have a special pot that she used?

    Fitzharris: Not that I remember, she may have, but as I say, I don't remember.

    Lotter: And mainly what vegetables do you remember in the stew?

    Fitzharris: Well, I remember carrots and onions and celery. I remember those three, what else she put in I don't know, but I do remember that 'cause we always had celery, I still do, I love celery.

    Lotter: Did you have a garden?

    Fitzharris: I don't think so, my Dad might have had a small one or not, but everybody seemed to have them, now whether he did, I don't know, but everybody was generous, you know, just like now when everybody has tomatoes, they give out, you know. But I don't know.

    Lotter: Where did they get their fresh vegetables?

    Fitzharris: Well, like different Italian men would come around with wagons, and then later on with trucks. And then there was a grocery store people by the name of Gregg, they came - a man would come in the morning - now I don't think he came every day, I'm not sure - but he'd come and take your order and then they would deliver it in a truck.

    Lotter: I see.
  • Flour barrels and dish towels; learning embroidery and other things at the Hagley Community House in Breck's Mill; games played as children such as baseball; adults having Euchre parties
    Keywords: baseball; beads; Card games; checkers; Cooper Shop; dish towels; dolls; embroidery; Euchre; flour barrels; fudge; grocery delivery; Hagley Community House; Hide and Go Seek; hoop rolling; Hop Scotch; Jacks; Old Maids; Parcheesi; sewing machines; swimming
    Transcript: Lotter: How about flour storage, where was that stored?

    Fitzharris: You know, I can't remember in our house just where it was, but everybody had a barrel, you know, in their kitchen. I'm sure my mother must have, because she baked all the time, but that I can't remember.

    Lotter: This would be a wooden barrel?

    Fitzharris: A big barrel, so high, and a lot of people would have a - like a Challis print curtain made to go around it, dress it up, you know.

    Lotter: Oh, I see.

    Fitzharris: Just like you have a dressing table now, you know. I remember my sister's mother-in-law, she had one and it was a blueprint and it was always - she must have washed it every week because it always looked so starched.

    Lotter: Well, that must have been pretty.

    Fitzharris: It was pretty.

    Lotter: And what kind of a top was on the barrel?

    Fitzharris: Just a wooden lid like comes on the end of the barrel, you know. They used to make barrels up on Breck's Lane in the back by the run, they called the Cooper Shop. I don't know whether that's where people got their barrels or not. Did you ever hear anybody else speaking of that?

    Lotter: I did hear about a cooper shop, yes. Where did you purchase the flour, do you know?

    Fitzharris: Evidently from the Gregg's man that came around I guess.

    Lotter: I see, and then they delivered it right to your house.

    Fitzharris: U-huh.

    Lotter: How about sugar?

    Fitzharris: I guess it came the same way. I remember flour came in cotton cloth, you know, and I remember the people use to use that to make things, like dish towels and things like that after they washed it, because it would still have print on it, they'd wash and wash, but I remember that. Of course for good, everybody had linen dish towels.

    Lotter: I see, but you did use the flour sacks for every day dish cloths?

    Fitzharris: I'm not sure, but I think some people even made pillow cases out of them after they got bleached, you know, because they were nice soft material.

    Lotter: Is that right? Now these dish towels, were they hemmed?

    Fitzharris: Oh yes.

    Lotter: By machine, or by hand?

    Fitzharris: By machine.

    Lotter: By machine.

    Fitzharris: And I remember we...

    Lotter: Most people in the area that had sewing machines?

    Fitzharris: I think everybody had a sewing machine, I really do. But I remember we had a lot of linen dish towels, too, with like the yellow or red or blue borders on them - stripes down the sides, you know. I think they bought it by the yard and then cut them to suit their own length. I think most of them run between 27 inches and 36 inches long, there's nothing like a linen towel to this day.

    Lotter: Oh no, that's right.

    Fitzharris: I have several, I gave some to my daughter the other - oh, about a year ago, I love them.

    Lotter: Do you ever remember any of the young girls sewing hems on the dish towels when they were learning to sew or anything?

    Fitzharris: Not especially that, I remember we used to do more like embroidery work and things like that. I think the mothers always hemmed the towels. 'Course they stamped things on pillow cases and they would embroider, of course I didn't learn to embroider until after my Mother died, and then we learned that from over at Hagley Community House.

    Lotter: Oh, you did?

    Fitzharris: Miss Bubb, and I've forgotten the other lady's name. We had sewing, like one day a week, you know, and she would show us how to do that. And it'd be...

    Lotter: This is in the afternoon after school?

    Fitzharris: After school. And they taught us to make beads out of, like Sears Roebuck catalogs or any catalog that had the bright colored paper. We used to roll and make beads. They also taught us how to make fudge, it was really nice there. We only had about an hour or an hour and a half, but there again, it kept children off the street - then it was off the roads, more than streets.

    Lotter: Yes. So you don't remember getting any of that instruction at home?

    Fitzharris: No, as I say, I didn't do it I know when I was seven.

    Lotter: How about other girls in the neighborhood, did their mothers teach them some of the basic embroidery stitches...

    Fitzharris: Oh yeah, crocheting and things like that. I was more, I wasn't the type to do a lot of sewing, I was more athletic - baseball and swimming and things like that, you know. Get out of housework as much as I could.

    Lotter: What games do you remember playing?

    Fitzharris: Hop Scotch and Hide and Go Seek and Jacks. Baseball was the main thing, I loved baseball. Baseball and swimming. I could do that all day long.

    Lotter: How about other games, like hoop rolling?

    Fitzharris: Yes, they had that. I did it, but...

    Lotter: What kind of hoops did they have?

    Fitzharris: I guess they were off barrels, just some of them were wooden and some of them were metal. The wooden ones were - oh like about an inch wide, but the others were much narrower, and we used to have a stick, you know, to roll them, see who could roll them the furthest. There again, I wasn't in for that.

    Lotter: How about checkers?

    Fitzharris: Oh, well I liked checkers and Parcheesi, they had that way back years. And Old Maids.

    Lotter: Oh yes.

    Fitzharris: Then we used to have our own game - like Tit-tac-toe you drew it on paper you know, and put the numbers in and see if you win. There again, everything was just homemade more or less, nothing like the children today have.

    Lotter: No, I'm sure not. Do you remember playing with spinning tops?

    Fitzharris: No, I remember playing Jacks, but I didn't - they did have spinning tops, but that was considered a boy's thing, you know.

    Lotter: Oh, I see. Well, how about dolls?

    Fitzharris: Oh yes, we had dolls. I loved dolls.

    Lotter: What kind of a doll did you have?

    Fitzharris: The one I had I can remember was leather body and leather arms and china face and hands and feet, that I had - I must have gotten that right before Mother died, oh it was lovely, you could bend it and fold it and do most anything with it, you know. I've never seen once since, never saw one before either like that. It was large, it was about I guess 18 inches tall, but it was a beautiful doll. I don't ever remember anybody having one - Mother used to make clothes for it, I do remember that.

    Lotter: Oh, did she?

    Fitzharris: Yeah. Of course, she made all our clothes. She was a - not bragging, but they say my Mother was the best cook on Walker's Bank at one time. I mean I've heard a lot of people say that, and my sister more or less took after her. I can cook, I can't say I like it, but I do, I do cook, but my sister was an exceptionally good cook, especially pie, beautiful pies.

    Lotter: How about any card games, do you remember playing cards, other than Old Maids?

    Fitzharris: No, the families go together and played Euchre, the men. I remember my Dad used to - St. Joe's used to have Euchre parties, I think maybe once a month and they all went, men and women went and played.

    Lotter: Oh, I see.

    Fitzharris: My aunts, oh for years and years, and they were awarded prizes, you know. But they took it, well like - I don't know what to say - if they didn't win, you know, it was just - wasn't really a sociable game towards the end, you know, if you would lose - you know what I mean - there's some people play cards like that.

    Lotter: Oh, it got a little serious.

    Fitzharris: Yeah, but they always played it, and I think that's how they made money for St. Joe's, you know. They had suppers and they also had...

    Lotter: That would be similar to Bingo games?

    Fitzharris: Yes, but everybody knew how to play Euchre.

    Lotter: What about other games that the adults played, I mean did they get together in each other's homes?

    Fitzharris: I don't remember. I think the men, when they came home, they were tired, and I don't think they did much of anything, take care of the yard or something.
  • Irish Mail scooters and her sledding accident; playing marbles; salt bags placed on water pumps to filter dirt from the water; the DuPont Experimental Station "bloomer girls" baseball team; Fourth of July celebrations
    Keywords: "bloomer girls"; Alexis I. du Pont School; baseball teams; bocce; DuPont Team; fireworks; Flexible Flyer sleds; Fourth of July picnic; Gunning Club; Irish Mail cart; marble bags; marbles; salt bags; scooters; sledding; water pumps; Women baseball players
    Transcript: Lotter: Do you remember scooters or bicycles?

    Fitzharris: I never had a bicycle, I learned to ride one. And one of the boys in the neighborhood, he had everything - every toy going I think - like a scooter, Irish Mail, that was something like a scooter which you sit on. But I remember riding all those things, but as I say, I never had a bicycle.

    Lotter: So this was a type of scooter you would sit on.

    Fitzharris: Sit on. And what I can remember, you sat on it and then you sort of had some sort of a pedal to make it go, but there was also another, I think an Irish Mail was something you sat on and it had a handle on it and you pulled it back and forth - like that - to make it go, you know. 'Course you always would get on a hill.

    Lotter: Yes, that would help.

    Fitzharris: And there were plenty of them around the Brandywine.

    Lotter: Yes, there were, certainly were.

    Fitzharris: And of course sledding, everybody loved to sled.

    Lotter: Oh sure.

    Fitzharris: Everybody had a sled, you know. 'Course my brother made me one when I was real small. He was going to Alexis I. School. It didn't have anything to steer it, you sort of had to guide it with your hands and your feet, but later we all had Flexible Flyer sleds.

    Lotter: U-huh, I remember those. The sled that your brother made you, did that have metal runners?

    Fitzharris: It had metal runners, it was all wood other than that and it sort of came up in the front, you know. I don't know what it was - sort of bowed? The runners started there and then went all the way down to the back and then under, so you couldn't get hurt, you know, and wasn't sharp. And then on the side it had two handles, was painted red and black, I remember that. In fact I still have a scar to show for it.

    Lotter: Oh is that right? What happened?

    Fitzharris: I was coming down - well I guess what you would call now 141, I was coming down by Ferraro's and - those houses still stand at Walker's Bank, you know, I was coming down - there was an apple tree and a pear tree in the field and my cousin, Mrs. Hazzard's twin sister, was on my back, and I asked her to roll off because I couldn't steer, we were gonna hit the tree. Well she fell off just as we hit the tree, but I got a beautiful scar, right here, seven inches - seven stitches. It was really a bad - that was right before Mother died.

    Lotter: Oh, is that right?

    Fitzharris: Doctor said it was just a narrow escape that I didn't bleed to death.

    Lotter: My goodness.

    Fitzharris: But I can always remember that sled. 'Course I don't - I still love to sled, I mean I wouldn't be disgusted about it, but right after that then we got sled that we could steer, you know.

    Lotter: Did your mother have a phone that she could call the doctor when you got hurt?

    Fitzharris: Oh no. I don't know how...

    Lotter: How did you get a hold of the doctor?

    Fitzharris: I don't know how they got the doctor, whether they I think they used the phone at the Experimental Station, they had a watchman there at the gate, you know, and I think that's how they must have used the phone, but he came out and I remember he put seven stitches in there.

    Lotter: Where did the doctor have to come from?

    Fitzharris: He lived down what they call the East Side of Wilmington, down around like Pine Street or down that way.

    Lotter: Oh, that was quite a distance.

    Fitzharris: Oh they did, they came in horse and wagon, but I remember that - my Mother said you could hear me at St. Joe's screaming 'cause it hurt so bad, you know.

    Lotter: Sure it did.

    Fitzharris: I know they didn't hear me that far, but that's what she said.

    Lotter: Do you ever remember playing marbles?

    Fitzharris: Oh yes, I liked that.

    Lotter: The girls played marbles as well as the boys?

    Fitzharris: Always had dirty knuckles.

    Lotter: Where did you play?

    Fitzharris: On the road, just where...

    Lotter: On a dirt road?

    Fitzharris: On a dirt road, we'd sweep it off and then - 'course lots of roads had stones on it, but every once in a while you'd get a place - down by Walker's Bank there those houses, there was a spot there we used to play. We'd sweep it all off and play. Just draw a circle in the mud or dirt, you know.

    Lotter: And did the boys and girls play together?

    Fitzharris: Together, and we had glass marbles for what they called the men to shoot with and then there were just plaster of Paris or something, the all-colored marbles that you put in the ring to shoot out, you know. Everybody had little marble bags. Some of them were homemade and some of them were tobacco - what tobacco came in, with a drawstring, you know. You'd keep your marbles in that. They made use of everything.

    Lotter: What kind of material was the - did the tobacco come in?

    Fitzharris: Well, something like a cotton handkerchief, like a lawn, you know, you could almost see through it.

    Lotter: Oh you could?

    Fitzharris: U-huh, but they had a little drawstring of yellow string or red string, every time anybody would get tobacco in one of those, of course they washed them out and kept them for marbles. And they also used salt bags. Salt came in bags then, and they used to wash those and put them on the pumps to keep the dirt coming from the well - straining the water. Everybody had a salt pump, you know - or salt bag.

    Lotter: Wrapped over the pump?

    Fitzharris: They'd put it right on the edge of the pump and there was some sort of a wire they had to hold it on, and then every once in a...

    Lotter: I see, sort of acted like a strainer?

    Fitzharris: A filter, yeah, and every once in a while they would, somebody would take it off and put a clean one on, but they were always clean. I don't know whether they just did it of their own ideas or who did it or what, but there was always one on there. Because, you know, there would be all kind of sediment that would come out of those wells.

    Lotter: Yes, yes. Do you remember bocce?

    Fitzharris: I've heard of it, but I don't remember ever playing it. A lot of the Italian men did, that lived up in Squirrel Run, they played that.

    Lotter: Do you remember ever seeing them play it?

    Fitzharris: Just vaguely, going by them, like if we would have to go get our laundry, if we didn't stop after school on the way home, we had to go up at night in the summertime, you could see them playing around the house - a lot of houses up there. Do you know where Squirrel Run is?

    Lotter: Yes, I do.

    Fitzharris: There's quite a few houses up there.

    Lotter: Do you remember any women ever playing?

    Fitzharris: I don't remember women - I just remember them sitting on the porch, maybe knitting or crocheting when the day was done, you know.

    Lotter: I see.

    Fitzharris: But I don't remember them - of course I do remember, there was a baseball team of girls, I would say maybe eighteen, twenty, they worked at the Experimental Station, they had a baseball team they called the DuPont Team.

    Lotter: Oh did they?

    Fitzharris: They called them the bloomer girls, they wore black sateen bloomers with white tops and white - navy sailor ties. They played also in the field back of where Walker's Bank is, those houses.

    Lotter: I see, now what teams did they play?

    Fitzharris: I don't know who, but they always played different teams. I guess it was like different DuPont's.

    Lotter: These were other women teams?

    Fitzharris: Yeah, u-huh.

    Lotter: Were they pretty good?

    Fitzharris: Very good. I remember, I think there was two people from - one lived on Breck's Lane and the other lived along the Brandywine - they worked for du Pont and they played, but I think the others were from the city. That was a great team, the bloomer girls.

    Lotter: I'm sure that was fun to watch.

    Fitzharris: It was, that's where we got a lot of points, too, you know, watching them.

    Lotter: I'm sure you did, yeah.

    Fitzharris: Then they'd leave and we'd take over the diamond, and we'd play there, see.

    Lotter: Ch, now did you have an organized team, or just whoever was...

    Fitzharris: Whoever was free that day, and anybody would be pitcher or anybody be catcher, but we always...

    Lotter: I see, never had any certain position?

    Fitzharris: There never seemed to be any fights over - no, everybody seemed to get along good, you know.

    Lotter: That must have been nice. Do you remember fireworks?

    Fitzharris: Oh yes, Alfred I. du Pont put them off, you know, where the institute is now?

    Lotter: Yes.

    Fitzharris: We used to walk out there and watch them, Fourth of July. And years ago, before the DuPont Country Club, they had a Gunning Club?

    Lotter: Yes.

    Fitzharris: And I remember we used to go up there and they had a grandstand and we used to sit there and watch, too.

    Lotter: Did you ever picnic on the Fourth of July?

    Fitzharris: They had a picnic - I'm not sure whether it was the Fourth of July - up where Hallock du Pont has his home now, or had his home, and St. Joe's always had a Fourth Of July - or sometime in July, picnic. And They had dancing and all sorts of things.

    Lotter: Was this kind of an all-day affair?

    Fitzharris: Everybody took their own dinner, you know, and then of course they had other things to sell, I guess - I don't know whether they had ice cream or not, but homemade sodas and things like that, root beer. That was a big place up there, right just about where the du Pont home sits today. Everybody looked forward to that.
  • Musical instruments, hymns, and the Mount Vernon Orchestra; Mrs. Rowe as "an ideal grandmother" on Rising Sun Lane
    Keywords: accordion; banjos; Breck's Mill; Catholic hymns; Christ Church; dances; Double Dutch; Hagley Community House; Hudson Wool Mill; Jew's harp; Joe [Valentine?]; jump rope; Mount Vernon basketball team; Mount Vernon Orchestra; Musical instruments; organs; painting; Saint Joseph on the Brandywine Catholic Church; upright piano
    Transcript: Lotter: You mentioned jump rope, do you remember any of the rhymes that you jumped to?

    Fitzharris: Well, all I know we had some ditties, but I can't remember them. Always used part of the old clothesline for the rope, you know. And they played Double Dutch, you know what that...

    Lotter: Oh, they did?

    Fitzharris: Oh yeah, they had that.

    Lotter: That's becoming more popular now.

    Fitzharris: It is, yeah.

    Lotter: How about songs, what songs were popular when you were young?

    Fitzharris: Oh, I can't remember now. I can't remember any of them. Probably maybe a day or two they'll come to me, but I just can't remember right now.

    Lotter: How about hymns?

    Fitzharris: Oh at St. Joseph's, yeah, we always had the choir.

    Lotter: Were there certain hymns that were more popular than others?

    Fitzharris: Well like in May, it was all hymns to the Blessed Mother, like "On this day, oh beautiful Mother" and - I don't know, we had quite a few.

    Lotter: How about any folk songs or any songs that your family sang?

    Fitzharris: I don't remember those. I know that everybody said that everybody used to get together and sing, but I can't pinpoint any particular song, you know.

    Lotter: Did someone in the neighborhood have a piano that you would...

    Fitzharris: Some of the people had organs. A friend of mine had an organ, Mrs. DeNight, and she used to play the organ, but she used to play like "The Old Rugged Cross" which is very pretty I think. And she went to Christ Church and all the hymns up there, you know they sang up there, she used to play for us. We used to love them. She had a beautiful organ.

    Lotter: What other musical instruments do you remember?

    Fitzharris: I remember some of the men had banjos and Jew's harps.

    Lotter: What is a Jew's harp?

    Fitzharris: It's a little metal thing they put in their mouth and it's similar to like an edge of a spoon and they hit it with their hand - they blow in it and hit with their hand and make a tune.

    Lotter: I see.

    Fitzharris: Not like...

    Lotter: Not like a harmonica?

    Fitzharris: No, not a harmonica, it was different from that, but on the same type, you know. I remember the banjos and then later, I guess when I was maybe fourteen or fifteen, they had an orchestra they called the Mount Vernon Orchestra.

    Lotter: Oh they did?

    Fitzharris: They played Rising Sun, my brother-in-law and his brother and sister, they played. They also had a Mount Vernon basketball team too, everything was Mount Vernon, why I don't know, but they played for quite a few dances, that orchestra, but then one would get married and leave and it just sort of all broke up.

    Lotter: What kind of instruments were in the orchestra?

    Fitzharris: They had a drum, a violin, piano, sax - I don't know what else.

    Lotter: And where the dances held?

    Fitzharris: Pardon?

    Lotter: Where were the dances held?

    Fitzharris: Hagley Community House, on the third floor. They used to practice on Rising Sun - Mrs. Rowe, that was my sister's mother-on-law, she had a big home. It was a frame house and it's - are you familiar with Rising Sun Lane? [Tape is switched]...road that goes into the Tower steps. Do you know where the tower steps are?

    Lotter: Yes.

    Fitzharris: Well, it was halfway between there and it was a big frame house. She had about seven or eight children I guess.

    Lotter: Oh my.

    Fitzharris: But there again, she was the lady of Rising Sun. Mrs. Rowe could - she used to take us blackberrying and take us for walks. She was really an ideal grandmother, but the house was torn down, they had a big barn in the yard, too. And had a swing there, I remember, on a tree, but everybody loved Mrs. Rowe. 'Course they're all dead now, I guess they're all dead, every one of them.

    Lotter: So that's where the band practiced?

    Fitzharris: That's where they practiced, in their living room.

    Lotter: I see.

    Fitzharris: I remember people used to come home and just stand on the porch just to listen to them, you know, they weren't bad.

    Lotter: Do you remember people playing banjos?

    Fitzharris: Oh yes, there was one man in particular, name was Buchanan, I remember he used to come to visit somebody and always played the banjo. But that's the only man that I knew that played a banjo. Used to play all the different songs, you know. He was in the Service and he would play Service songs, you know.

    Lotter: Oh, I see, u-huh.

    Fitzharris: But of course where he visited, the house is torn down, too. So many houses, things took part, you know, but they're all - it's a shame they are all gone.

    Lotter: It certainly is. How about a tin whistle or an autoharp?

    Fitzharris: I remember people had whistles, but I don't remember an autoharp.

    Lotter: How about a flute?

    Fitzharris: There may have been people playing, but I just don't know.

    Lotter: Guitars?

    Fitzharris: I don't know about guitars, but I know a man used to play an accordion.

    Lotter: Oh.

    Fitzharris: An Italian man, he used to play that. He could play it quite well.

    Lotter: This was someone in Squirrel Run?

    Fitzharris: No, he lived in a barn, where those houses still on Walker's Bank, between that and the next row of houses there was a huge barn and he kept his horse in one part and he lived in the other part. And they used to say that when he'd drink too much wine, the horse would always know how to bring him home, the horse knew the way.

    Lotter: Right - and he would visit the neighbors?

    Fitzharris: He never bothered - I don't know where he worked, but everybody knew him, but he never came into the houses, everybody just knew that Joe lived in the barn and talked to him that way. He'd talk as he went along the street, but he always rode a horse and everybody knew him. Just a respectable old Italian man.

    Lotter: And you mentioned a lot of organs in the neighborhood, but were there any pianos that you remember?

    Fitzharris: Mrs. Rowe had a piano where they practiced the orchestra.

    Lotter: She did?

    Fitzharris: Yeah, she had - quite a few had them, people by the name of Dougherty, lived next door to us, I remember they had one, and the people that ran the Hudson Wool Mill - they had one, Mr. and Mrs. Hudson.

    Lotter: Yes. Now what were these pianos like?

    Fitzharris: Real high, a lot of carving on them, very high. Well then, I could just about see on top of them, you know, nothing like today, and they were carved and they all had long benches that you sat on. Some of them even had upholstered chairs that they sat on instead of the benches, you know.

    Lotter: Oh they did - do you remember any stools?

    Fitzharris: Yes, I remember stools, too, but I remember some of them would be like a stool, but it would be upholstered and it had a high back too. I guess they were the expensive ones. Mrs. Rowe had one like that.

    Lotter: Yes, oh she did?

    Fitzharris: Mrs. Rowe's husband worked for Alfred I. du Pont, he was a painter, and he walked from Rising Sun out to that Institute every day, to work.

    Lotter: Oh my.

    Fitzharris: He was a clever painter. Christmastime he would paint scenes on his - they had buffets then with mirrors, and he always painted a Christmas scene on the mirror.

    Lotter: Oh, that was nice.

    Fitzharris: Oh, it was beautiful, really pretty. And it so happened that he died between Christmas and New Year's and then they buried them from home, you know, and everybody thought that should be taken off, he could take it off, you know, I don't know what he used to do it, but you could take it off, and his wife said no, that he would never take it off until after New Year's, even though he died and was buried before New Year's, but they left it on. I always thought that was rather nice, you know.

    Lotter: Yes, I think so, too.

    Fitzharris: It was a scene like from around the Brandywine, there would be a sleigh, and you know, old farm house or something.

    Lotter: Oh, that must have been very pretty. Now how about the organs, were they - what did they look like?

    Fitzharris: Well, they were sort of old fashioned, more or less like a piano, they were high too, not low like they have now, you know.

    Lotter: And were they carved also?

    Fitzharris: Yes, u-huh. I remember years ago St. Joseph's had one, they had it up in front of the church before they had the pipe organ and it was - lady by the name of Miss Lawless, she used to play it, and it was rather high, but it was always in the front of the church. But then of course they got rid of that and then they had the pipe organ. I don't know what year they got rid of that, but I remember they had it when I was a child.

    Lotter: Any other musical instruments that you remember?

    Fitzharris: I don't believe so. Can't think of any.
  • Knitting and sewing practices; haircuts, hairstyles, and hair accessories
    Keywords: barrettes; bone hairpins; Domestic sewing machine; Dutch bob; hair combs; haircuts; hats; Hudson's Wool Mill; knitting; Madeline Ferraro; Martha Washington bedspreads; pattern books; sewing machines; Singer sewing machine; skeins; steel combs; sun bonnets; unbleached muslin sheets; White sewing machine
    Transcript: Lotter: You mentioned people, women sitting on their porches knitting - what did they knit?

    Fitzharris: Well, sweaters for the family and for the soldiers in the Service - they knit sweaters and hats and mittens, shawls. Seemed like they were never idle, they were watching children at night like, would be playing around, but yet they were always doing something. But the men, they were so tired they just mostly read the paper and just relaxed, you know.

    Lotter: Yes. Was there a particular place that they would get their yarn?

    Fitzharris: Well, Hudson's Wool Mill had it.

    Lotter: Where was that located?

    Fitzharris: What everybody now calls Walker's Mill.

    Lotter: Oh, I see.

    Fitzharris: That was Hudson's in my time.

    Lotter: And they could get the yarn right there?

    Fitzharris: Get the yarn, yeah. And they brought it in, that's where they manufactured it, they'd dry it and put it into skeins you know. I remember they used to hang it out to dry on long wooden racks.

    Lotter: Oh, they did?

    Fitzharris: Yeah, it would come just in great big barrels, the wool, you know, and then they manufactured it and I guess, I think after - well Mr. Hudson and his son run the one over at Walker's Mill and then for a short time they had one up where the Hagley Museum is today, just a few years I think because they had two shifts, they used to, the girls, we never worked there, but I mean there was a lot of girls that worked in it, and they worked - I don't know what time they started, but some of them worked until ten o'clock at night.

    Lotter: Oh, my goodness.

    Fitzharris: And the lights were water power, you know, and I remember the one at Walker's Bank, you could always tell at ten o'clock, because the lights went out, you know. I don't know how - I think it was only three or four years up at the Museum, but I do remember that.

    Lotter: How about sewing machines?

    Fitzharris: Oh, everybody had a sewing machine, every house. Is that what you mean?

    Lotter: Yes, yes. And where were they kept?

    Fitzharris: Our was in the kitchen, and I think the majority of people had them in the kitchen. They were Domestic and White, I remember the two names. And then Singer came out, I think Singer was the thing afterwards, you know, but I think it was White and Domestic when we were growing up. We had a Domestic.

    Lotter: Do you remember what they looked like?

    Fitzharris: Well, they were iron and they had two drawers on one side and then a little narrow drawer where they kept the bobbins and drawers on the other side. And then there was like a - ours had like a wooden box that fit over the mechanism, you know - later years they had them, they could drop them down in, but we didn't have that type, ours was a box.

    Lotter: Yes, yes. Now did your mother keep it, the box over it when it was not in use?

    Fitzharris: Always covered.

    Lotter: And what type things did she use the sewing machine for?

    Fitzharris: Dresses, clothes for us. I don't know whether she ever made shirts for Dad, but I know they used to change collars, men's collars would wear and they used to change those. I guess they made their own sheets out of unbleached muslin. They were, I think only about forty inches wide and they had to have a seam down the middle, and then in later years they got the 86 inch muslin and then when it would - by the time it was bleached and sewn, it would be about 81 inches wide, but I remember everybody had sheets with - unbleached muslin they were made out of, but then each washing would make them whiter and whiter you know. You could always tell when somebody got new sheets because they were sort of tan color, you know. Pillow cases made out of that. They had heavy blankets and heavy bedspreads. I don't remember any summer bedspreads, they were always heavy like the Martha Washington spreads - that's the kind we had, and we used those summer and winter.

    Lotter: Yes, heavy woven type spread. Where did your mother get the material that she used?

    Fitzharris: I don't know, I don't know where she got - in the City of Wilmington someplace, I guess, because they always went shopping in town.

    Lotter: Oh they did?

    Fitzharris: I think it would be, I'm just saying this, but I think it would be some place like Lippencott's or Smith and Solenger's, they were department stores, and I think that would - Crosby and Hill - I think that would be about where she would get it.

    Lotter: How about hand sewing?

    Fitzharris: Well, they'd do fancy work on things, like dresses, maybe a hand embroidery, you know, a few little flowers or something like that. And on - I remember a lot of the ladies wore sun bonnets and they had flowers embroidered on that.

    Lotter: Oh, did they?

    Fitzharris: Yes.

    Lotter: Were they done in color?

    Fitzharris: Some of them were checked, some of them were white, but the brim of them, you know, what a sun bonnet would be like.

    Lotter: And what color of embroidery work did they do?

    Fitzharris: Mostly like pink and blue, forget-me-nots, you know, had things like that on it.

    Lotter: Oh, that must have been pretty.

    Fitzharris: And we had a lovely - I guess you've heard of Miss Ferraro that used to live there in Walker's Bank?

    Lotter: Oh yes.

    Fitzharris: She was the seamstress, you know, of Henry Clay, and she was the one who always gave us pins and thread and things like that to play with. Like we'd put leaves together, pin them together and she always gave us her pattern books, we made paper dolls out of her pattern books.

    Lotter: Oh, did you?

    Fitzharris: Yeah, she was a grand old lady, really nice.

    Lotter: Do you remember doing any hand sewing other than what you did at Breck's Mill?

    Fitzharris: No, I was never a sewer. I'm telling you, I was typical athletic. My sister, she could - she was only three years older than I am, but she could make dresses and slips and things like that.

    Lotter: Is that right?

    Fitzharris: Yeah, I guess, being a little older, Mother probably taught her, you know.

    Lotter: Well, that could be, yes. And did - your mother made most all of your clothing then for the children?

    Fitzharris: All clothes, u-huh. Dresses and slips.

    Lotter: How about your father's clothing?

    Fitzharris: No, I don't think so, I think they bought the - as I say, changed the collars and things on shirts, but I think everything was bought.

    Lotter: She bought the shirts?

    Fitzharris: Yeah, u-huh.

    Lotter: How about hair work, hair jewelry, remember?

    Fitzharris: Everybody had fancy combs and big hairpins, like bone hairpins. Some people had metal, but the dressier ones were bone, like a brown bone. And we had barrettes, fancy barrettes, sort of glass stones or something to make them look pretty, you know, but I remember mostly mine were just like a brown. I don't know whether it would be celluloid or - similar to a plastic, course it wasn't plastic then, but I think it was sort of a celluloid, and then they also had metal ones, metal barrettes.

    Lotter: Oh, they did?

    Fitzharris: M-huh, just crude silver-colored metal, you know.

    Lotter: What did the hair combs look like?

    Fitzharris: Much bigger than they are today, the teeth were longer and all colors - white, blue - and the hair brushes were bigger, they were more round than they are today. But everybody had to have their hair combed and brushed every day, and I mean brushed, not just...

    Lotter: Did you have long hair?

    Fitzharris: I had long hair for about four weeks, but my hair was so thick, I couldn't - I always wanted braids and by the time it was long enough to braid, they just stuck right out, you know, so I got it cut. Always wore the Dutch bob after that, but a lot of girls wore the long braids, but my hair was just definitely too thick.

    Lotter: Who cut your hair?

    Fitzharris: Man by the name of Conley, a barber that lives where Coleman du Pont had his estate there on Main Street by the tavern?

    Lotter: Yes.

    Fitzharris: Well, between the tavern and - was in the basement more or less where Coley du Pont had his - do you know where he lived, Coley du Pont?

    Lotter: No, I'm not sure.

    Fitzharris: It's those - you know where the tavern is, well then the next row of houses down there's a single house and then like a three-story apartment? Well that's where he - he just remodeled the side of it, has a beautiful garden, you know.

    Lotter: 0h - oh yes.

    Fitzharris: Well, it was in the basement, like right off the main - where he has his garage...

    Lotter: Yes, yes, I know where you mean.

    Fitzharris: Well that's where the barber shop was. And then my uncle, my cousin rather, also had a saloon there, Pat Dougherty's saloon, so that was a - Mr. Conley just had a small part of it, you know, where he had his - I think one barber chair and a bench - always kept a lot of newspapers and magazines for anybody come in and wait, you know, that's where we got our hair cut.

    Lotter: So girls as well as boys went to him for haircuts?

    Fitzharris: Oh yeah - he never liked to cut my hair. He used to always say that my hair was so thick every time he got his scissors cut, I'd come over and get a haircut and it would dull them. I had the thickest, coarsest hair!

    Lotter: How about your mother, how did she wear her hair?

    Fitzharris: Pulled back and like a bun on the back of her neck. At night she always braided it and she had a long braid. Her hair was thick, but I think I got mine from my Father, he had black, curly hair. And of course when he died, he just had a bald spot about as big as a dime and he was seventy-four years old, but very thick, black, curly hair. 'Course there's his picture there, you can tell about the type hair.

    Lotter: Oh yes, yes. It does look like he has thick hair.

    Fitzharris: It was thick. I always say I took after him with thick hair and thick head [laughs]. They tell me grass doesn't grow on a busy street - I guess that's why I had thick hair.

    Lotter: How did the other women wear their hair - did most of the women have a bun?

    Fitzharris: Most of them like that, I don't think anybody ever had it cut, you know, when we were small.

    Lotter: Now, for every day, what type - how did they hold the hair in place?

    Fitzharris: These big bone hairpins - they rolled it around, you know, and they stuck the bone hairpins in it. And I think some of them had combs, I don't know whether my Mother had combs or not, but they put them towards the back to hold it, they'd comb it right straight back and hold it back, very neat, everybody had neat hair.

    Lotter: What kind of combs did they use for everyday?

    Fitzharris: Sort of - whatever our barrettes were made out of, like a - as I say - I don't know what they were. I think some people even had steel combs, but not too many. They weren't as dressy, you know, and they would show up more. I remember Mother's just had the brown, it would match her hair, you know. And of course a lot of them wore hair nets too to keep their hair just so, you know.

    Lotter: Yes, yes. Do you remember your mother wearing a hat when she went out?

    Fitzharris: Oh yeah, a hat with a lot of flowers on it, straw hats with lots of flowers on the brim, but I don't remember her winter hats, I don't know what they were like.

    Lotter: You must have liked the summer hats better.

    Fitzharris: Well I liked flowers, anybody had anything with flowers appealed to me.
  • Newspapers, magazines, and books; her father's political activities; gardens, rose bushes, and shrub bushes
    Keywords: Bulletin; chicken wire; elections; Every Evening; gardens; Inquirer; Ladies Home Journal; magazines; newspapers; picket fences; politics; red rambler roses; shrub bush; tea roses; The Extension magazine; Wilmington Library; Working class--Political activity
    Transcript: Lotter: How about newspapers, do you remember a local paper?

    Fitzharris: We always got the Every Evening I think it was called, Every Evening, and a lot of people bought the Bulletin, too. Inquirer -

    Lotter: Oh they did?

    Fitzharris: I remember Sundays they would the funnies from the Inquirer and the Bulletin. The Bulletin was out for a long time.

    Lotter: Now were these papers delivered?

    Fitzharris: Yes, local boys would have a route. There would be one man would have like - Mr. Lundy I think he was the regular paper man, then he would have different boys to deliver the papers.

    Lotter: How about magazines?

    Fitzharris: Yeah, they had - I remember one magazine we got from church, it was called The Extension, then I think there was a Ladies Home Journal, I think that was it. I can't remember, but there was quite a - everybody seemed to have magazines to read.

    Lotter: How about books?

    Fitzharris: Well, I remember going to the library and getting books, but we never had a whole lot of regular hardback books at home. But then if somebody would get a book - if you got a book for Christmas, well you'd pass it on to all the neighbors and let the children read it, but you'd put your name in it so you'd get it back again. But there wasn't a whole lot of books, we mostly went to the library.

    Lotter: Where was the library?

    Fitzharris: Tenth and Market, you know, where it is now.

    Lotter: Oh, yes - that was quite a long trip.

    Fitzharris: Oh yeah, but we didn't go very often. Mrs. Roomer was a school teacher next door, she lived next door to us, and she used to go every Saturday and bring home a regular market basket full of books. And I don't know whether she would lend us some of those or not, I think so and then they would take them back, every Saturday morning she went to the library.

    Lotter: I see, so you do remember reading?

    Fitzharris: Yeah, but she would never let - her daughter was a school teacher, she never carried the basket, the mother always carried the basket.

    Lotter: How about elections and politics?

    Fitzharris: My Dad was a Democrat and he was very interested in politics. He would be, oh I don't know what you would call him, but when they had cars - they used to have to vote out at where Sharpley is out near the Concord Pike...

    Lotter: Oh yes.

    Fitzharris: And the people that lived on that side, and the people that lived on this side of the Brandywine, they went to Alexis I. School, but he always would be the man to go around to make sure everybody got out to vote, you know, and he always stayed at the polls until it was all over so he found out how the election ran. But he was really what they call "Hot Democrat."

    Lotter: Oh, he didn't do any campaigning for any particular candidate? -

    Fitzharris: Oh yes, yes he did. I can't remember now who, but soon as it was time for election, you could always tell my Father was busy, he really liked election.

    Lotter: Did he ever run for an office?

    Fitzharris: No.

    Lotter: How about national elections?

    Fitzharris: Well, I guess he did. I don't know, but mostly it was just presidential elections that he was really interested in, you know, but I never heard him argue about anything, I mean he had his own thoughts and all, but he was never bitter, you know. Mike was just a Democrat and somebody said recently, "I don't know what Mike Farren would do if he ever thought he had grandchildren that were Republicans." [Laughs]

    Lotter: How about gardens?

    Fitzharris: Well, as I say, I don't remember we had gardens, but everybody seemed to have - we may have had, but I don't know, but everybody seemed to have a garden patch. I guess they'd have to.

    Lotter: I would think so.

    Fitzharris: Tomatoes and beans and things like that. And quite a few people had chickens, but we didn't have chickens - they were so dirty. We never had chickens.

    Lotter: Do you remember any fences around gardens?

    Fitzharris: Everybody had picket fences around their property and I think they had just sort of a wire, what they called chicken wire, you know, around their gardens. But there again, I don't think anybody would go in and invade somebody else's property, you know.

    Lotter: No, I don't think people would, but I was thinking of the chickens and the other animals that might get in and eat the crops.

    Fitzharris: But I remember some of them didn't have anything around them. I remember one Italian man in the neighborhood, Mr. Baldo, he had a beautiful garden, but he had a fence plus wire too on the inside. I guess that was to keep everything out, you know.

    Lotter: I guess so.

    Fitzharris: But he had a pretty garden.

    Lotter: Do you remember what he had in his garden?

    Fitzharris: I remember peppers, tomatoes, beans, always had pole beans, and lettuce, the leaf lettuce, but it was just a pretty garden. And some of them had strawberries, very few, but some of them had strawberries. 'Cause we used to go out and get wild blackberries, you know, in the season. Go out where the DuPont Country Club has their golf course now, had lovely patches of blackberries. You'd see a snake once in a while.

    Lotter: U-huh - were you afraid of snakes?

    Fitzharris: No, snakes never bothered me. I'm more afraid of a cat than I am of a snake.

    Lotter: Is that right? Do you remember flowers in the yards?

    Fitzharris: Oh yes, everybody had flowers, all kind, roses especially. I had one that I prized very much, I bought in the ten cents store and I brought it home and planted it, it had beautiful roses on it. I think I paid twenty-five cents for it.

    Lotter: Oh my goodness.

    Fitzharris: It was beautiful - right in the center of the yard. My Dad wanted to know why I planted it there, I said so I could see it, but he didn't like the idea because of cutting the grass around it, you know. Oh, it was beautiful.

    Lotter: What color were the roses?

    Fitzharris: Everybody seemed to have red rambler roses, but this was sort of a tea rose and it was a dark pink. Oh we had it for years, in fact, one of the rambler roses that were growing in our yard, we lived across the Brandywine. After I was married, my husband and I were over there walking one time and there was still - the house was torn down - there was still rose bushes. And I brought a piece over and I think, when I left Breck's Lane, there was still part of it there. I always kept it cut down short because it was in my Iris, but that rose bush would come up every year, right by the mailbox. And I wouldn't be surprised, I never let it grow 'til it would bloom because the Iris were so pretty, but I think it's still there.

    Lotter: Oh for goodness sake.

    Fitzharris: That was years and years ago. I left over there when I was about sixteen or seventeen and I'm seventy-four.

    Lotter: How about that. Do you remember any shrubs around the house?

    Fitzharris: Everybody had a shrub bush - do you know what a shrub bush is?

    Lotter: No.

    Fitzharris: It's a - it's a big bush, but it has sort of a dark purple, almost a burgundy bloom on it and it smells like something you would use like for baking, like allspice or something like that. There's one of those in the yard I left up Breck's Lane, too. Oh a lot of people haven't heard of it, but it grows - the bush grows quite high and there's - like each stem would come out, would be one here - it would be like something like, you know how you cut radishes, you know, that sort of a bloom and there would be maybe eight or ten on each stalk. Oh they're beautiful and you can smell them as soon as they start - even the leaves smell of it. And you've never heard of them?

    Lotter: No, I never have, no.

    Fitzharris: Oh, it's too bad you don't have an occasion to go up there. It's between - the house I lived in and Swartz, and it's halfway back in the yard.

    Lotter: And what time of the year does it bloom?

    Fitzharris: Well, right after Lily of the Valley in - I'd say early part of June, oh but you can smell it all over the place.

    Lotter: I'll have to try to find it.

    Fitzharris: Oh, it is really beautiful, but nobody - I mean people today don't know about it, but it was an old flower - that and lilies and roses were what most people had, and Lily of the Valley, everybody seemed to have Lily of the Valley - day lilies. I'm sorry you don't know what that shrub is.

    Lotter: I am too, I'll have to find out.
  • Animals kept in the neighborhood; her father making homemade ice cream; her mother's funeral; window treatments, lighting, and floor coverings
    Keywords: birthdays; carriages; floor coverings; floor matting; funerals; hearses; homemade ice cream; hunting; linoleum; oil lamps; pigs; rabbits; Rayo lamp; shutters; window screens; window shades
    Transcript: Lotter: You mentioned that a lot of people had chickens, do you remember any other livestock? Ducks, goats?

    Fitzharris: Oh, there was a family had a goat, but just one family that I know, there might have been one or two ducks, but everything was chickens and there was pigs, too.

    Lotter: Oh, there were pigs?

    Fitzharris: Pigs up on Breck's Lane back near where the Cooper Shop, was a colored family lived back there and they had pigs. That's when I was going to school, but that's the only family that I know had because - well, they were so dirty and that was a good place for them, up in the woods, you know.

    Lotter: Yes, yes it would be. How about rabbits?

    Fitzharris: Yeah, I think people did have rabbits. They used to shoot rabbits, the regular wild rabbits, and people used to eat those. Some people had rabbits, but not too many I don't think.

    Lotter: What did you make a stew out of the rabbits?

    Fitzharris: Used to fry it.

    Lotter: Oh, you did, even the wild ones?

    Fitzharris: You'd put it in salt water for so long and then you would fry it. A rabbit leg would be very tiny, but it was good if it was dipped in cracker crumbs, you know. I wouldn't want to eat it today, but I did eat it then.

    Lotter: They say they're very good. How about hunting and fishing?

    Fitzharris: Well, I used to fish once in a while, but I never caught much, but I don't think too many of the men fished. They do it more now than they used to, in the Brandywine.

    Lotter: And how about hunting, did any of them...

    Fitzharris: Well they used to go out for mostly rabbit. I don't know of anybody going for deer hunting because there weren't any deers around here at that time and they would have no means of getting there, you know.

    Lotter: How about birds or anything like that?

    Fitzharris: No, I don't remember them shooting birds. I only saw one pheasant in my life up the Brandywine.

    Lotter: Is that right?

    Fitzharris: Just one.

    Lotter: Can you describe birthdays?

    Fitzharris: Well, I didn't have a birthday party - I might have had them if Mother was living, but I didn't have a birthday party until after I was married.

    Lotter: Is that right?

    Fitzharris: U-huh - not too many - I think the families just, if it was your birthday, your Mother just made a cake and had homemade ice cream, but there weren't any big parties like they have today.

    Lotter: Do you remember getting any birthday presents?

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

    Lotter: Just the cake and the ice cream?

    Fitzharris: The cake and the ice cream.

    Lotter: Any particular kind of cake?

    Fitzharris: White cake with white icing, I remember that.

    Lotter: What about the ice cream?

    Fitzharris: Well, if it was in the summertime, it would be like fresh peach or fresh strawberry, you know.

    Lotter: That your Father would make?

    Fitzharris: U-huh.

    Lotter: Did he make all of your ice cream?

    Fitzharris: Most all of it, yeah.

    Lotter: Was there a place close by that you could buy ice cream?

    Fitzharris: Well, I think where the post office used to be, which was Hagey's, Hagey's Tavern, they had ice cream there.

    Lotter: Oh, they did?

    Fitzharris: U-huh, but it was a little general store, they had ice cream and candy, a few - like tobacco and bread, things like that.

    Lotter: I see. What do you remember about wakes, funerals and burials?

    Fitzharris: Well, I do remember they buried them from home and I don't remember ever going to a funeral in Mother's, and I remember then they had horse and wagon, those old-time chariots like, you know. And I do remember riding in one of those. But I think, I'm not sure, but I think when she died they did have a - the hearse was run by, it was a car - but the people went in horse and wagons. Two horses to pull it, very classy I would say, the coachman sat up high, you know, and we were in - in fact there's a carriage very much like it up at Hagley in the old barn.

    Lotter: Oh is that right?

    Fitzharris: U-huh - that we had. And then when, well when anybody died, 'course it was just a dirt - but when Mother died, the men in the Experimental Station took up a collection and they had a white sheet with red rose buds to line my Mother's grave. And after the casket was put down, they folded it over. I remember my Dad talking about it, it was the first one they ever did, they did it for other people later, but he said he thought it was so much money, it cost $38.00 for the roses, that was a lot of money.

    Lotter: Yes, it was.

    Fitzharris: But he could never get over the fact that they did that. It was a nice thought.

    Lotter: It certainly was. Do you remember any wake?

    Fitzharris: No, we never - as children, we never went. After we got older we went - an Irish wake was almost like a party, you know, they have food...

    Lotter: That's what I've heard.

    Fitzharris: And drink - I don't know, I think it's out of line myself. I don't believe in viewings myself either, people have them, but I wrote everything down like my children do for me. So my son said, why, you have so many friends, why wouldn't you like them to come to a viewing, you know. So on a slip of paper I said, well, I won't have anything to say about it, do with me what thou wilt - that's what I've got on the paper.

    Lotter: Is that right?

    Fitzharris: Yes, so if they want to have a viewing, okay, but I don't approve of it. I think it's sort of a solemn thing and I think you should just go and bury the person, but not this big fanfare. 'Course they can do with me what they want, I don't care. Maybe I'll outlive them too [laughs].

    Lotter: What do you remember about window shades, shutters, curtains?

    Fitzharris: Oh, everybody had shutters and they were closed in the wintertime to keep the house warm. And they were sort of a lattice, well like they have today, but they were wooden, they weren't the - and everybody had green shades. And some people had glass, just plain glass curtains, you know, like a lacey affair. All the shades were green, just green shades.

    Lotter: They really kept the light out?

    Fitzharris: Yeah.

    Lotter: When you opened your windows, did you have any screens?

    Fitzharris: Oh yes, they had - most of them were just sort of square, screens like this. I remember we had them, I don't know whether Pop made them or what, but they were just a square with a screen in and you pushed them in real snug, just for the bottom part of the window.

    Lotter: Oh, I see, so it did fit the whole bottom part of the window?

    Fitzharris: The whole part, but not up at the top, because we never lowered the windows from the top, but they fit the bottom and I remember they were crude, but there again, they were painted gray. I think they must have got gray paint by the gallons. [laughs]

    Lotter: How about lighting?

    Fitzharris: Had lamps, oil lamps. In the kitchen we had, oh sort of fancy, like a cut glass, it was just cheap, you know, and it had sort of a green on the inside and white on the out - the shade that came over top of it. And then in the living...

    Lotter: Excuse me - a lamp that hung?

    Fitzharris: No, just sat on the table.

    Lotter: I see.

    Fitzharris: Some people did have them extended from the ceiling, but we didn't. And then we had a fancy one in the, well the family room as you would call - living room, dining room, everything combined, and it had flowers painted on it, but the ones that had the fancy - the green shades - they were called Rayo lamps R-A-Y-O. Why, I don't know, but everybody had a Rayo lamp. They could either be silver with a green shade, or could be glass with the - but the silver ones were Rayo.

    Lotter: Did you have enough light to read by in the evenings?

    Fitzharris: Oh yeah, we had lamps in every room. Everybody sat around the kitchen table to read, really, just do you lessons and things like that, you know. 'Course we didn't have any radios to distract us, we had to do our lessons and then we played games or went to bed, that was all.

    Lotter: What time did you go to bed?

    Fitzharris: I remember it must have been about eight o'clock, because my sister could stay up a little longer, she was three years older, she could stay up a little longer. But I was always awake when she'd come to bed.

    Lotter: You shared a room?

    Fitzharris: Oh yeah, big double bed.

    Lotter: How about outdoor lighting - was there any - you mentioned lights around the factory, what kind were they?

    Fitzharris: They were run by water power, like electric light, you know. 'Course soon as the power - the wheel was shut off, the lights went out. But people didn't have anything outside, if they went any place on a dark night, they either took a flashlight or a lantern, but we had no outside lighting.

    Lotter: Do you remember any brick or stone floors?

    Fitzharris: No, not around there.

    Lotter: What kind of a floor did you have in your kitchen?

    Fitzharris: We just had a wooden floor with like linoleum.

    Lotter: Did the linoleum cover the whole floor?

    Fitzharris: The whole floor, u-huh. And then in the other rooms we just had area rugs with a border, you know, the wood around the sides. And the stairway, they either had rubber mats or nothing, just the wooden steps, you know. That's about all. The bedrooms, they had what they called matting, it was like a - something what the people have on the beaches today, like a - you know the mats made out of straw - well they had those in bedrooms. They run three foot wide and, depending on the size of the room, but on one side they were plain, and the other side they had flowers painted on them.

    Lotter: And you used it summer and winter?

    Fitzharris: Yes. The dust would go right through, you know, you always had to pick them up and sweep underneath them.
  • Kitchen stove and other home heat sources; cleaning muddy shoes and drying wet mittens; coffee, lemonade, and root beer
    Keywords: coal scuttle; cocoa mat; coffee; fire shovel; foot scrapers; galvanized boiler; heating; Heroy's Coffee Place; lemonade; lifter; parlor stove; root beer; rubbers; soup dipper; stove polish; stoves; turner; warming shelf
    Transcript: Lotter: Can you describe your kitchen stove?

    Fitzharris: Oh it was a big, black - very similar to what they have up in Hagley today, up in the Gibbons House.

    Lotter: 0h, at the Gibbons House - u-huh.

    Fitzharris: Gibbons House, u-huh. But ours, I think, had a little more steel, I guess that you call, trimming around it and Dad had - I don't know what they polished that with, but I know the stove part itself, it had to be polished every week. Stove polish put on it, you know, with a brush, and then it had to be done when the stove was cold. And then after you put it on with the brush, when it would dry, then you'd take a cloth and polish it. You could almost see yourself in some of it, but some of the houses that didn't polish them, they would all burn up, be practically white, the main place where the holes were, you know. But they had to be polished. Majority of people kept them highly polished.

    Lotter: Who polished your stove?

    Fitzharris: My Dad, oh that was a dirty job.

    Lotter: I bet it was.

    Fitzharris: It had a big oven.

    Lotter: What did you use to cook with?

    Fitzharris: Wood, and sometimes coal, mostly wood. In the winter time they had coal, you know, to keep the fire going all the time, but sometimes in the summer, if it wasn't too hot, they'd just have the wood burning and they could use it, otherwise they'd use the oil stove.

    Lotter: The oil stove was a smaller stove?

    Fitzharris: Yes, smaller. That had to be filled, it had sort of a tank, you had to go over to the shed and fill it, you know, kerosene, which was a messy thing.

    Lotter: Yes, I imagine it was. What tools did you use with your kitchen stove, do you remember any...

    Fitzharris: Well, it was just sort of what they called a lifter, it was something that fit under each plate and you just lift it up, then you hung it up beside the stove where it could be seen, you know, you could grab it right away. And they also had, like on top of the stove was a shelf, I don't know whether the one up at the Gibbons House has or not, does it? A shelf to keep to keep things warm?

    Lotter: A shelf? Yes, it does, yes.

    Fitzharris: And then two little shelves that come out like that.

    Lotter: Yes, yes it does, on each side.

    Fitzharris: Used to keep things warm.

    Lotter: How about when you - did you have any special tools for taking the ashes out?

    Fitzharris: Oh they had a regular coal scuttle and also a fire shovel, they called it a fire shovel, long handle, but just a small scoop on it, you know. You had to take the ashes out with that.

    Lotter: I see, now what about utensils that your mother used for cooking?

    Fitzharris: They were all kept in a drawer, I think. The cabinets were old fashioned closets and the dishes were kept on the top. And pans in the bottom and then they had two drawers. And they also hung some of the things on the wall, you know, the bigger - like turners.

    Lotter: What do you remember hanging on the wall?

    Fitzharris: Like a turner and a soup dipper, things like that you know.

    Lotter: And when she boiled - when your mother boiled the clothes, what did she use?

    Fitzharris: It was a big boiler, but a wooden - like a wooden paddle more or less and that's what she'd stir them with, but that was always kept in the boiler, in the shed when it wasn't in use, it also had a lid on it.

    Lotter: What kind of a boiler, was it galvanized?

    Fitzharris: Galvanized, some of them had copper bottoms.

    Lotter: Oh, they did?

    Fitzharris: Yeah, and through the course of the years they would get bent up and dented and all, but everybody boiled their clothes. That's one thing, they were clean then, you know.

    Lotter: Oh, I'm sure they had to.

    Fitzharris: Imagine boiling everything you washed!

    Lotter: That would be quite a job. Did you have a parlor stove?

    Fitzharris: Yes, they were round and tall, just had a fancy dome like on the top of it, but the place where you kept the coal, where you burnt the coal and where the ashes was, was very small. It had to be cleaned out sometimes twice a day, the ashes, because there was just a small pan.

    Lotter: Did you keep it going every day when the weather was cold?

    Fitzharris: Yes, m-huh. We also had one up in our bedroom.

    Lotter: Oh, you did?

    Fitzharris: Yeah, up on the third floor, Mother had one when we were small, so my sister and I could keep warm. It was a crazy house, there was two rooms, then one room, then two rooms and one room, that's the way it was built. It was like kitchen and family room, dining room combined on the first floor. Mother and Dad's bedroom on the second floor, on the third floor was my sister and I and my brothers - two rooms, and then this little attic.

    Lotter: Now did your brother have a stove in his room also?

    Fitzharris: No, it was just...

    Lotter: Did the one stove warm the whole floor?

    Fitzharris: I guess it warmed practically - the rooms weren't real big, but the girls got the attention, they had to be kept warm, they were younger, see.

    Lotter: Yes, well how about your parents, did they have a stove in their bedroom?

    Fitzharris: No, just ours.

    Lotter: Was there enough heat that came up from the...

    Fitzharris: Well, they had holes in the floors, you know, round holes, and the heat from the family room would go up to Dad's and there was a little - this hole had like a little shutter that you could open or close, you know, and that would let the heat go up.

    Lotter: Well now was there just one stove on the first floor?

    Fitzharris: No, there was two, was a kitchen stove and then the family.

    Lotter: Oh, there was a separate one in the family room? Similar to what you had in the parlor?

    Fitzharris: We just used coal in that, no wood at all. Just to start it would be wood, but it was coal all the time.

    Lotter: Do you remember any special tools for that stove?

    Fitzharris: Not really.

    Lotter: Anything different than you used in the kitchen?

    Fitzharris: They had a poker and a shovel, that was about the main things, you know.

    Lotter: Did you keep a wood box in the house at all?

    Fitzharris: No, Dad used to just keep a little bit of wood piled in the kitchen by the cabinet, just a little bit, but he always went out to the shed to get it.

    Lotter: Did he have something special that he kept that wood in?

    Fitzharris: I think it was just some sort of a wooden box, very little. I think it was the idea to have it there in case Mother needed it and he wasn't around to go get it.

    Lotter: How about weddings, receptions, honeymoons?

    Fitzharris: I don't ever remember going to a wedding until I was about eighteen I guess. And it was just like they have today.

    Lotter: Anything you remember hearing about?

    Fitzharris: Well, I do, when my cousin got married, and he got married to a girl from West Chester, and my aunt did hire a bus and we all went there, but then I guess I was about eighteen. Married in a church up in West Chester. But other than that, I don't remember.

    Lotter: How about door mats, foot scrapers?

    Fitzharris: Always had a metal thing that you scraped the mud off and then sort of a cocoa mat on the porch, everybody had one of those. And then on the inside I think they had some kind of a small mat to take the extra dirt off before you walked through the house.

    Lotter: Well, suppose you had real muddy shoes, did you...

    Fitzharris: Well, you'd have to take the muddy shoes off on the outside.

    Lotter: And just leave them outside?

    Fitzharris: Then make sure you get them dry and cleaned off before it was time to wear them again, you know - you had bedroom slippers we used to put on. 'Course lots of times, too, in the summertime in the mud you wore rubbers, therefore you could take the rubbers off, everybody had rubbers.

    Lotter: And did you have a place to leave them outside, did they go in the shed, did you leave the rubbers in the shed.

    Fitzharris: We used to leave them on the porch 'til they dried off, then take them in the house.

    Lotter: How about drying things like wet boots or mittens or gloves?

    Fitzharris: I remember they used to be put on that shelf on the stove in the kitchen.

    Lotter: Oh, they were?

    Fitzharris: Not boots or anything, I mean mittens and things like that, but the shoes just had to dry out.

    Lotter: That would be a good place to dry them.

    Lotter: Did you have a coffee grinder?

    Fitzharris: I don't remember, I think we always put our coffee - it was already ground I think. I'm not sure now, don't quote me on that.

    Lotter: Where did you buy your coffee, do you know?

    Fitzharris: Well, this man that had the store used to bring it, but I remember also Mother, when she went into the city, she got it at a place called Heroys or Leroys Coffee Place, was on the corner of Sixth and King, just a coffee store.

    Lotter: How was the coffee stored?

    Fitzharris: I think it was all in paper bags, like a heavy paper bag. 'Course when we had it home, we had it in a can, they put it some kind of a coffee can, but when she brought it home, it was in a paper bag.

    Lotter: And how was tea stored at home?

    Fitzharris: I think just in a can too, but I don't remember any of our family ever being tea drinkers. I'm sure we had it, for Mother when she had her friends in, but I don't remember tasting tea until I was quite old, we always had milk, cocoa, then when we got older, we had coffee.

    Lotter: How about lemonade, do you remember lemonade?

    Fitzharris: Oh, lemonade, we had that every night - lemonade.

    Lotter: Every night?

    Fitzharris: Every night, lemonade, in the hot summer. No - well, we just had about three lemons, we'd get a pitcher and always have it made. We didn't actually drink it every night, but we always had it. I remember having it if anybody wanted it. That's another thing...

    Lotter: Did people stop by quite often on summer night?

    Fitzharris: Every once in a while, you know, but there again, lemonade turns me off. I think I had so much of it when I was a kid.

    Lotter: How did you squeeze the lemons?

    Fitzharris: With a glass squeezer, just cut it in half, you know, in fact I think they still have them today.

    Lotter: Oh yes they do, they sure do. Do you remember any kind of soft drinks?

    Fitzharris: Homemade root beer, everybody had homemade root beer but that's about the...

    Lotter: Did your father make the root beer?

    Fitzharris: Yes, my sister's mother-in-law, she used to make, everybody made root beer. And they also made wine, when grapes were in, they made wine. But they just kept their - I don't know, they bottled the root beer in bottles...

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