Interview with Blanche MacAdoo Yetter, 1984 April 3 [audio](part 1)

Hagley ID:
  • Biographical information and early life; growing up in Squirrel Run; Squirrel Run water supply; families in Squirrel Run
    Keywords: Alexander Billingsley; Breck's Mill; DuPont Country Club (Wilmington, Del.); Eugene Hackendorn; Hallock du Pont; Hockessin, Delaware; Kennett Pike; Squirrel Run Black Gates (Wilmington, Del.); typhoid fever; water
    Transcript: Yetter: Blanche MacAdoo Yetter. [Laughter]

    Wagner: Address?

    Yetter: 129 Commonwealth Avenue, Claymont.

    Wagner: And your age?

    Yetter: 87.

    Wagner: Telephone number?

    Yetter: Hm?

    Wagner: Telephone number?

    Yetter: 37 -- oh -- 798-3791. Don't know my own number. [Laughter].

    Wagner:And your maiden name was?

    Yetter: Blanche MacAdoo.

    Wagner: O.K. Now. You did live in one of the villages?

    Yetter: In Squirrel Run.

    Wagner: Do you know what years?

    Yetter: Well, from when I was six years until I was 15. I was born in '97. [Laughter]. That would be 1903, wouldn't it? Six years. I've always lived in DuPont's houses. We lived at the Black Gates when my father died. And my grandmother and grandfather raised us but they lived in the Black Gates.

    Wagner: Black Gates? Um-hmmm. Where were they?

    Yetter: Do you know where the DuPont Country Club is? Well that's right -- that corner -- the house where I lived is torn down and they built the DuPont Country Club on the land that my father worked, before he took sick.

    Wagner:Well, then, he was a farmer?

    Yetter: Well, he had worked with Mr. Alfred I. down in -- Mr. Alfred I.was experimenting on some black powder down in the basement, I think, of Breck's Mill. He had worked there.

    Wagner: Do you remember anything else about Squirrel Run?

    Yetter: Well, of course, I was there until I was 15. That was home to me.

    Wagner: Tell me about it. How many houses? Who the families were.

    Yetter: Well, I never counted how many houses, but I could just picture them. They run right down the center of Squirrel Run, so there was houses on both sides. Here, I'm talking with my hands. And there was a stone block up at one end. I think there was like four families lived there and I think they were three story and that house Mr. Hallock du Pont used the stone to build his house up on the hill. And he tore that down. And then there was another house where one family lived in the front and another family in the back. The back family's name was Megonigle. And then the next row down was where my grandmother and grandfather lived. There was three houses in that row so their name was Billingsley. Alexander Billingsley. He was a DuPont Pensioner. And Eugene Hackendorn lived next and Mrs. McElhinney lived next. And her husband had been blown up in the powder. He was blown up the day I was born. [Laughter]. My mother told me. And then the next row had three -- I guess three houses in the next row. And there was one family of -- I remember their name was Bonificia. They were about the first Italians that came to Squirrel run. There wasn't many Italians at that time. They were the first family that came up there. And I think people by name of Devenney lived next. There must have been three houses in that row. And then the next house was a single house where Flannigans lived. So that took care of one side of Squirrel Run. Now on the other side of Squirrel Run -- shall I start up at the top of the gardens? Well, there was a little stone house. I think it's still there, maybe. Mr. Hallock du Pont used it -- it used to be the gardens. The family all had -- families around there each had a little plot. And they called it the Gardens. There was a little stone house up there -- it looked like about a four-room house. My mother said years ago two families lived in that, one family had about seven children. They had one room up and one down and no bathrooms. No water in the house; they had pumps.

    Wagner: Where were the pumps? Well, there would be one pump between each block of houses, like for the families.

    Wagner: Where did the water come from? Well, they had a reservoir in Squirrel Run. Uh-huh. And there was a spring of water right up on that end where people would go up and get buckets of spring water, to drink, and later on duPont's closed it. I think they had an epidemic of typhoid fever my mother told me, and sanitary conditions were terrible and after that they put in the reservoir and running water. Now that was before my days because we had hydrants and one hydrant would be between each family -- each row of houses and then you carried the water from that into your house. And the first row on that and the next row and the first row up that end was Constanos and I think they are all probably dead now. And then people by the name of Braden and then Samuel Buchanan who was blew up in the powder when I was a little girl.

    Wagner: Is that the family of Yabba Buchanan?

    Yetter: Well, he would have been a brother. Sammy was blown up in the powder and that was a brother. Uh-huh. And then my grandfather MacAdoo lived in the next house. And then the next row people -- no this isn't my day -- Careys lived in the first house and Beacoms-- I suppose you've heard of Beacoms. Bess Beacom, she has given a good bit to Hagley, I'm sure. And Gambles and one of these other Bonaficino families in the next house. So that was four in that row. Then there was an old pump in there which was closed. But they had boarded it over and we used to sit on that and play, play jacks. You know what jacks are. [Laughter].

    Wagner: Were they the kind that we have today?

    Yetter: Yes. A little ball and the jacks. It was like a big table then because they took the pump off and du Ponts put the boards over. So we could sit on it, you see, and play jacks.

    Wagner: Did you lose any through the cracks?

    Wagner: No. They had the boards pretty close. They had it so you wouldn't fall into the old well I imagine is why they closed it up that way. They knew the kids would be on top of it. And then the next row was well it was a double row. Years ago they used to have some of the family in the front and the others in the back of the house. And then that row had -- on the front was Harkins and then my uncle Dave MacAdoo -- Uncle Davey MacAdoo -- that would have been my great uncle, my father's uncle. My grandfather MacAdoo's brother. And then the grocery store. Robert- Bob Blakely had the grocery store. And upstairs over that in the back they lived -- the family lived. And then in the back part of the same building Walkers lived. Mrs. Walker and her three children. Her husband had been blown up in the powder. And I think there was an Italian family moved in there by the name of Sickle. Siek— Le— o— r— Sie-keloglcco And then a family by name of Harney lived around that back row. So that took care of that one. And then the next row. Stevensons lived in the next row. And I think a family by name of Berry finally came there while I was small. And Antoines. Have you heard of Antoines? Well some of them may be living, but they moved up Kennett Pike or up to Hockessin or some place. They wouldn't have been the old timers, anyhow. Let me see who else was there. Then the next house was Anthony Daugherty. I'm sure you've heard of the Anthony Doughertys. And the Stewarts -- there were just two houses there. But they told me years ago that was where a family lived in the front and another family in the back. And there would be a back porch. It was kinda on the hill, you know. Have you ever been in Squirrel Run? Do you know what Squirrel Run is?


    Yetter: It's kinda' built down in the valley. [Laughter]. And there was people front and back -- at the time -- years ago -- not in my day now because they had given them a little more room I suppose as the family grew. Then in the last row down well, there was a front and back row both there. And I think somebody named Mrs. Moore lived in the front and I think a Mrs. Cochran and Veale -- Frank Veale, I believe his name was. His wife's name was Maggie Veale. [Laughter]. I can remember her name better than his. I think he was Frank Veale. But there was three houses in back of that. McCandless -- people by name of McCandless lived there for awhile. And Megonigles lived in the next. And -- Can't think of that man's name. There was a man -— a white-haired man lived next to that. Son never married. Can't think of his name. I know it as well as mine, but I can't think of his name. It wasn't Maloney. Something like Maloney now -- I don't know what -- I can't remember his name. And then in front of that, right in front of the old office -- I don't know whether the old office is still there or not -- there was one little -- one small house there, probably a six-room house. And McLaughlins lived there. So I guess that really took care of Squirrel Run.
  • Hagley pulp keg mill; memories of the MacAdoo household; tracing Yetter's family tree; sanitation and hygiene at Squirrel Run
    Keywords: Black Gates; family trees; Henry Clay (Del. : Village); home life; hygiene; pulp keg mill; sanitation; Squirrel Run; typhoid fever
    Transcript: Yetter: Then there had been another house where Fultons lived but that was torn down when they built the pulp keg. You know where the pulp keg is? It's the Hall or Records now. But they used to make -- they done away with their tin cans to pack powder in and they made pulp. What would you call it? [Laughter] Pulp is all I know to called it...the pulp keg. They would have truck loads of paper and cloth and stuff come and they ground it all up and they made kegs out of that. I suppose it would stand handling better than the tin. But DuPont's made that when I was a little girl.

    Wagner:They made their own pulp?

    Yetter: Pulp, yeah. Uh-huh.

    Wagner: Uh-huh. I'm going to backtrack just a little bit.

    Yetter: Well, I think that takes care of Squirrel Run, anyhow. Did your house have a street name and a number?

    Yetter: No. I don't think we had any.

    Wagner: Just the MacAdoos of Squirrel Run?

    Yetter: Yeah. Everybody knew one another -- knew where they lived and you just said up the second row of houses in the second house or whatever it would be but I don't think we ever had a number.

    Wagner: Let me have your father's name, and place of birth and his birth date.

    Yetter: I don't -- James MacAdoo, But I don't know the date of his birthday. I might have it someplace in records.

    Wagner: Where was he born? Well, I think he was born in Squirrel Run because my grandfather MacAdoo lived there all his life. All his married life I'd better say.

    Wagner: Did grandfather MacAdoo -- how did he get here?

    Yetter: Well, he was real Irish. [Laughter]. I don't know because they never told me very much because I didn't live with him very long. Just after my father -- My father took T.B. and we had to give up our home and move down with him. And I only was with them one winter. My sister stayed with them a little longer but one day I was -- I went to kindergarten from there that one Winter and the next summer I had an old maid Aunt Liza and she wasn't very nice with us. And Saturday afternoon you got your bath in a washtub on the back porch. The back porch was closed in. [Laughter]. And that's where you got a bath on Saturday.

    Wagner: Just one bath a week?

    Yetter: Yes, one bath a week.

    Wagner: How did she heat up the water?

    Yetter: You heated it in the kitchen and carried it out and put it in there.

    Wagner: You bathed out there in winter? Well, in wintertime you got back of the stove or - they put it in the kitchen in back of the stove and that's how you got your bath.

    Wagner: Everybody in together or?

    Yetter: No. One at a time. No, only one at a time. But they had to carry all that water in. [Laughter]

    Wagner: What did you do with it after the bath?

    Yetter: Well, then they threw it outside the door -- carried it out and threw it outside in the yard someplace.

    Wagner: It would get kind of muddy with a large family, wouldn't it?

    Yetter: Well -- they didn't take baths every day like we do today. Sometimes our family take two a day, morning and night, you know. But you didn't in those days. And you didn't get clean underclothes every day at that time.

    Wagner: Let me have your mother's -- do you know your mother's maiden name?

    Yetter: Sally Billingsley.

    Wagner: And where was she born?

    Yetter: She was born in Henry Clay and Squirrel Run, too.

    Wagner: Squirrel Run.

    Yetter: My grandmother lived in Squirrel Run when she was first married. Do you know her birth date? No. I could get it from the cemetery if you wanted it and needed it, but -- well it was the 29th of March but I don't remember what year.

    Wagner: What about brothers and sisters?

    Yetter: I had one sister. Florence. She died two years ago. She was older than me -- three years and a half older than me. So she just -- And then I think my mother had -- her first baby was a boy and he died when he was a year old, I think. Her first child.

    Wagner: From What?

    Yetter: Well, they used to say they died the second summer, teething and things like that. They didn't have things -- medicines and things like they have today, you know. And there were a great many babies died in their second summer they always said was a dangerous time. So, I don't think anything particular other than this. As they said, the second summer.

    Wagner: That's interesting. Would it be vomiting, diarrhea, or?

    Yetter: Well, now I don't know. I don't remember them talking about that.

    Wagner: In the wintertime you would think of pneumonia.

    Yetter: Uh-huh. Well, he had been sick a little while and they just said he was teething in the second summer and I can remember they used to say, well if they get through the second summer, they'll live. You know, the old- time people had a great way of expressing themselves.

    Wagner: Do you have any picture, letters or objects from the old days?

    Yetter: No, I don't believe I do.

    Wagner: You didn't save anything?

    Yetter: Well, you know we didn't have cameras to take pictures. So we really didn't have anything. I have a picture of the house where we lived in Squirrel Run, but I don't remember where it is. I know it's in this house some place. But I wouldn't know where to lay my hands on it.

    Wagner: I wanted to ask you about your house. What did you do with things like sewage?

    Yetter: Well, you had toilets outside and one house - uh - when I was right small -- they called them backhouses or privys. You've heard the words. [Laughter] And then I think -- my mother used to tell me about epidemic of typhoid fever where sewage and and things was bad, you know, and the water was condemned and they thought a lot of people, she said a lot of people died with typhoid fever. And then duPonts finally dug big holes and had them -- they were big round holes and they were concrete -- and they built toilets up over that -- two-seaters. That's where you went and talked your private affairs with your girlfriend and you both went to the toilet together. [Laughter] Is that going to go down there? [Laughter].

    Wagner: That's right. [Laughter]

    Yetter: That's where your secrets were shared. And they put those in and then twice a year they came along with trucks and cleaned them out and hauled it away. I don't know where they had a dump for it. They hauled it twice a year -- like spring and fall they came and cleaned those out. And, of course, in the meantime they had put the spigots in with the hydrants. It would be just about this tall -- a little hydrant. And just one spigot on it, you see, and you took turns going down and getting water when you wanted it.

    Wagner: How did the reservoir get filled up? Was that --?

    Yetter: Well, there must have been a stream up on the side of the hill there and they built this reservoir but it was closed in. And it had a sloped roof. one showing with my hands again]. And we had one board smooth and we used it for a sliding board. So, I suppose duPonts had to keep that in repair so we wouldn't go down into the reservoir. But that's where the water came from when they put the hydrants in. I don't remember them building it because I was small and maybe I was living at Black Gates at the time with my grandmother. But when I came to Squirrel Run, they already had the hydrants in. And the reservoir was up there when I came and I was six -- six or seven -- I don't remember which when I came down there.
  • Family home layout; home life; food
    Keywords: baking; chores; food; home and family life
    Transcript: Wagner: How many rooms in your house?

    Yetter: Well, there was six -- six rooms -- four bedrooms. Now the downstairs had one large living room, kitchen, dining room, all in one and then there was a small back room which my grandmother used for -- we ate back there in summer because it was cool back there. In winter it was too cold so they just closed that off -- closed that door, and you just lived in this one great big room. All in the family lived in the one room. But we did have four bedrooms. And I had forgotten about that until just before my sister died she -- well, she had gotten a little senile -- and she kept thinking that we were going to go someplace. She said, "Well, we can always go up to granny's because granny has four bedrooms." And she would have room for us up there. You know, I guess when you get senile, you remember back -- maybe I'm getting senile now that I remember it. [Laughter]. But my sister kept talking about the four bedrooms and granny had room for us.

    Wagner: Now, the back porch -- was it in addition to the -- you said you bathed on the porch?

    Yetter: No The porch -- that was in my grandfather MacAdoo's house. It was on the first floor. It was a back porch closed in. But they had an open front porch. Our front porch had rails on it. And side steps because it was high up. And my grandfather sat out there on Sunday and read the Bible out loud. [Laughter]. And you had to behave. You had to behave on Sunday you were allowed to sit out. When you came from Sunday School you had your dinner at noon then. We at dinner at noon years ago. And night we had supper which was a light leftover -- cold meat and fried potatoes and coffee, I suppose, and cake for Sunday night dinner. We didn't have dessert every day, you know; we only had it on Sunday. So they would bake pies on Saturday or cake on a Saturday to have on had it on Sunday to have on Sunday.

    Wagner: Going back to the house again, what about lighting?

    Yetter: We had oil lamps. Oil lamps. And once a week you had to clean the oil lamps and we girls had to shine the chimneys. Do you know what the chimneys are?

    Wagner: Glass chimneys. What about wicks? Well, they had wicks and when the wicks burned down you had to buy a new one and put it in. I think that part -- Well,'course those days you didn't know the difference. We didn't have a switch where we could push a button.

    Wagner: You said the sewage was carted off; what did you do with garbage? Oh, you fed your dog and the chickens. Everyone had a little -- or most of the houses had a little chicken house. And so you fed anything to the chickens or you always had a dog outside -- the dogs weren't allowed inside the house in those days. We didn't have house dogs; they all stayed outside and had a dog box. And you fed the garbage, and I suppose the potato skins they just threw out on the side of the hill. They didn't have any way to take the garbage away at all. But, I mean we didn't have garbage cans, so I think every time my grandmother peeled potatoes, she just took them out on the side of the hill and threw them out. And they just went back into the earth.

    Wagner: I'm going to come down to the family's weekly routine. You just said the girls cleaned the chimneys. What other chores do you remember?

    Yetter: Well, I never had much to do because I had -- well, my mother went out working; she went out nursing. And if she was home, she would do the things, and my grandmother done all the washing and ironing, and then I had an aunt that came and lived with us for a good many years so we really didn't have any of the house- work to do; most of the girls did of my age. But we didn't have anything really to do.

    Wagner: What about washing? Monday — - Was this the time when washing on-

    Yetter: Monday; ironing on Tuesday, and they cleaned on Friday and they baked on Saturday. I suppose my grandmother baked more than once a week. And if she ran out of bread at night, she would get up at four o'clock in the morning and make some; she would set the bread the night before. They bought a barrel of flour.

    Wagner:They kept it at home?

    Yetter: Yes.

    Wagner: Didn't have any trouble with those creepy crawlers?

    Yetter: Well, if you had a big family, you used it within six months. Maybe you didn't buy in the summer in the barrel or maybe you just bought half a barrel in the summer, you know. But if we ran out of bread like at night, then she set the dough and she would get up at four o'clock in the morning and make little rolls and put them in pie plates -- or it would be a round pie plate like a cake plate and she would bake some for our breakfast. In time for us when we got up to go to school. She would get up early enough to set them and have them --

    Wagner: She was the first one up in the morning?

    Yetter: Yes. But I think my grandfather at that time probably went to work -- I don't know whether he went to work at six o'clock or seven o'clock. I guess seven o'clock -- up to the powder mills -- seven. We had a good many explosions after eight o'clock. And it would be when the men would just be getting the mills going good when you'd have an explosion.
  • Explosions at the Hagley Powder Yards; laundry; cooking, food, and recipes;
    Keywords: bluing; explosions; food recipes; Hagley Powder Yards; Larkin's products; laundry; Octagon soap; Sears-Roebuck and Company
    Transcript: Wagner: Bad ones or little ones?

    Yetter: Oh! Bad ones. You could - if you were sitting there, you could almost see the frame of your window shaking and the glass breaking and when the glass would break, well, of course, usually we had two mills went off at one time. I think it must have been rolling mills, I believe. As much as I can remember. And one mill set the other one off. They were close by, I think. And if you know what the powder mills looked like - they have a sloped ceiling - roof - and they said it was sloped so it would blow across the creek on the other side of the woods instead of going up and then dropping all around, it would blow the other way and the walls would be left standing. And everyone would be out front waiting to hear what mill it was and what man was working and then they would wait to see who was it.

    Wagner: Going back to the washing; they didn't have washing machines?

    Yetter: No. My grandmother washed everything on the board. And she boiled everything. we didn't have Clorox to bleach. She put things on the boiler and boiled them the hottest day in summer. But she had a little out-kitchen in summer.

    Wagner: Was that attached to the house?

    Yetter: Yes; But you had to go out the front door and around and up a couple steps to that. But they burnt wood there instead of burning this coal stove inside. They burnt wood outside and that's what she heated the water on and then she washed outside or else on the porch. But she rubbed everything and then she boiled every- thing to get it good and white -— good and clean. And then she would take and rinse it.

    Wagner: Did she blue?

    Yetter: Yes, they used bluing - bottled blue at the time. And I think - I don't know how old I was maybe when she got through Larkin's products. Of course, you wouldn't know a thing about Larkin's. But you could buy - order things like baking powder or - oh, I suppose household things - small things from Larkins. And you got so many coupons and after you got so many coupons, see, saved - I guess it took years. My grandmother got a washing machine; and you turned it by hand. And of course we were all thrilled to death to help because just to turn that wheel and make the washing machine go [Laughter].

    Wagner: I do remember Octagon soap, though, and they had coupons on Octagon soap.

    Yetter: Uh— huh. Well Larkin's products was some -» I would have thought it was something like Sears-Roebuck, you see, because they would bring a catalog around. I think somebody in the neighborhood-maybe had charge of it. Maybe they got a discount or coupons for doing it. Take your order and then it would be a month before it was delivered. But you'd get so many coupons at a time and then you saved up until you go so many hundred. Granny must have saved a long while to get a washing machine. But that was a big thrill in our family - when she got that washing machine.

    Wagner: For all the neighbors, too. [Laughter]

    Yetter: Yes.

    Wagner: So, you say granny did most of the cooking? Yes, she did.

    Wagner: Any specialties?

    Yetter: Well [Laughter].

    Wagner: The rolls and the cakes.

    Yetter: Yes. And you had vegetable soup, you knew one day a week. And she bought a great big soup bone, I think it was 10 cents for a big soup bone. And she'd make a big pot of vegetable soup, But that's all you had -— was your bread and butter and tea or coffee and soup. Another day which used to be an inexpensive meal in those days was ham and cabbage. Today it's an expensive meal. And there was a pot of cabbage and ham and potatoes cooked in with it. And there was another day -— That's the two main things I remember. During the week. Usually Sunday was the only day you would have a roast. Of beef or something — of some kind of fresh meat because you couldn't go to the store and buy fresh meat. A butcher came around twice a week with a wagon - horse and wagon - and he had the back of the wagon — it lifted up like a roof. And he had scales there and his butcher's knives and things, and he would cut whatever you wanted. And that's where you got your fresh meat.

    Wagner: Was this a horse and wagon or - a motor wheel?

    Yetter: Horse. Oh, no, it was a horse and wagon. There were no automobiles at that time. No. Horse and wagon.

    Wagner: Where did he get his supply?

    Yetter: Well, I don't know whether - I don't think he slaughtered his own. There was a slaughter house in Wilmington and I think he would go in there and buy from the slaughter house. Like Armour's - Or Wilmington Provision Company was a big one in Wilmington many years ago. And I think he would buy it in there -big sides of beef and then he would take it home and cut it smaller and have it on his wagon and you could buy roasts or steaks or - I guess he had a meat grinder. I guess you got hamburg. I don't remember hamburg sandwiches. In fact, I was a big girl before I ate a sandwich for anything only packing your lunch to go to school. We never ate a sandwich at home until my mother died she wouldn't make a ham and cheese sandwich. When we' d have one for lunch , she would put her ham and cheese on the plate and cut it and eat it. So, we didn't know such a thing as a hamburger.

    Wagner: Then you kept your chickens for eggs?

    Yetter: Yes. Everyone had a few chickens. And then during the winter when they wanted to roast chicken for Sunday, they would kill one of their chickens.

    Wagner: Now about gardens. You said -

    Yetter: Well, anyone that wanted a garden could have it. It was a plot. And, I don't think they had it plowed. I think the men went up and dug it. And each one - well there was just a walk between each garden. And they all planted potatoes and whatever they wanted, but I know potatoes was the main thing. Of course, they didn't have enough room to plant corn, but they would have string beans, I can remember. And cabbage. And in the fall they had turnips and the turnips would last a good while in the winter because they could stand the cold. So, that was the main things; but I remember potatoes, cabbage and turnips. And I suppose they put out onion sets. They had onions.

    Wagner: Back to the meat. What kind of refrigeration - how did you keep the meat?

    Yetter: Well, you didn't because when he came twice a week you would have your dinner that night. And he came on Saturday and you would cook it on Sunday. And usually by Monday --I used to hate hash. My grandmother called it hash. I guess maybe it would be more of a beef stew today. And I used to hate that leftover hash [Laughter]. But I never got a cold roast beef sandwich because my grandmother gave you a hot meal. We didn't eat cold meals. The hottest day in summer you had a hot dinner. So, I didn't know anything about cold things until I grew up. [Laughter].
  • Decorating with flowers from Chicken Alley; repairing DuPont worker's housing; taking care of the house; household chores
    Keywords: bridal wreath; Chicken Alley; chores; Fleischmann's Yeast; grape arbor; home maintenance; orange blossoms; petunias
    Transcript: Wagner: You didn't care for the children. You took - you didn't have young -well, you had a younger sister, but you didn't have any younger children?

    Yetter: No, she was older. My sister was older than me.

    Wagner: Any flowers - flowers around the house, not up in the garden?

    Yetter: No, we had them around the house. My grandmother always managed to have one flower box of petunias and things. And we had a front porch. And then there was a space that she had planted orange blossoms and bridal wreath which she brought from Chicken Alley. Have you heard of Chicken Alley?

    Wagner: Yes.

    Well, she - Chicken Alley had a lot of orange blossoms out there and they were very fragrant. I don't know whether the du Pont's brought them from France. Years ago my grandmother had told me, or something, and they must have seeded their selves or planted - spread out - Because everybody had an orange blossom Bush and a bridal wreath bush. I can remember those. And my grandmother had those out front. And there was a grape arbor from the porch out to the end of the fence which wasn't any larger than this dining room - maybe 9x12 or 15, or something like that. But there was a grape arbor there and out on the fence she had flower boxes where she would plant petunias or something like that. Just some annuals she would plant.

    Wagner: Did she use the grapes for wine or for jelly?

    Yetter: No, she made jelly or we ate them. [Laughter]. I guess we at most of them but she did make jelly. She always made ketchup and jelly and things like that.

    Wagner: Who repaired the house if it fell apart?

    Yetter: Well, duPonts took care of the property.

    Wagner: Did you just call than and say, "My house is falling apart" or -

    Yetter: Well, the thing is after these explosions they always had to come around. They came around with a big farm wagon full of window glass and several men on it. And they just went all way around all the houses and just repaired all the windows. And I suppose if there was any carpenter work around the window frames. the men done it right then. It was probably the carpenters that came around because DuPont's had a carpenter shop and a lot of men learned their trade there. And, of course, they had a machine shop and a lot of the young men learned to Be machinists. So the DuPont's did send the wagon around the day after the explosion and mend all the windows.

    Wagner: What about other maintenance, say the rain spouts fall down or the steps caved in.

    Yetter: Well, I suppose - I don't remember about that part. They "must have worn out sometime. Maybe the men just repaired them their self, i don't know. I suppose if they really broke down, DuPont's would have mended then. And my grandmother whitewashed the houses ~— the house for the Fourth of July every year. It had to he whitewashed. So it would be clean for Fourth of July. [Laughter].

    Wagner: That must have been a big improvement.

    Yetter: Yes. [Laughter] That was the day the outside of the house got cleaned up.

    Wagner: This is asking what was done on a specific day of the week. Like we know the washing was done on Monday. And the ironing on Tuesday. What kind of irons?

    Yetter: Oh, I think — ~ well - they were old irons with iron handles and you had to use a heavy potholder to take them off - and you heated them on top of your stove. And then later on we got irons with the - did they call them sad irons or something that the handles would clip on and off. You may have seen those in your day. I don't know whether they called them sad irons. Seemed like , but I don't know why the sad iron.

    Wagner: All ironing is sad. [Laughter]

    Yetter: Yes.I always thought so.

    Wagner: Any special jobs on Wednesdays? Baking you said.

    Yetter: Well, I'm sure my grandmother had to bake twice a week because when we got baker's bread, we thought it was a treat. Because we ate homemade bread all the time and when we got baker's bread --if she ran out and had to buy baker's bread we thought it was a treat. we thought it was better. [Laughter].

    Wagner: Did she ever give you biscuits instead of bread?

    Yetter: It was mostly the one with the yeast. And up in the other — ~ that little stone house up in the gardens - that woman raised hops and made yeast. And you went up with a teacup and a penny and you paid a penny for a cup of yeast. And you took it home and put it in - I think my grandmother put it in potato water. She saved the potato water. And mixed the cup of yeast with that and then set her bread with that. And some people could add a little, maybe a little flour or something, in the potato water, I don't remember. But, my grandmother didn't have too much luck with it because she was always sending up and buying another cup of yeast. Maybe she was 'making more bread than some of the people. But that's what she raised it with. we didn't have yeast cakes. I suppose the store had. I don't know how many years Fleischmann's Yeast has been on the market but they used the yeast from the hops that Mrs. Harwood raised.

    Wagner: Where was the store you got the flour?

    Yetter: Hell, it was right in the middle of Squirrel Run where Bob Blakeley had the grocery store. He sold the flour. Now, I don't know whether we ordered the barrel of flour from someplace else or whether he ordered it for us and delivered it. But I know every fall my grandmother had to have a barrel of flour put in. That was to start the winter.

    Wagner: Where did you get your sugar and salt from?

    Yetter: From the grocery store.

    Wagner: Just the yeast from Harwood?

    Yetter: Yes; the yeast from Mrs. Harwood.

    Wagner: What were the most important chores you remember?

    Yetter: Well, I really didn't have anything to do. Once in awhile I had to go to get a bucket of water if my grandmother ran out. I think that was usually the job for the men to carry the buckets of water up to the house. But if she ran out of water, I guess I would go down and get a bucket of water of maybe a half a bucket of water. [Laughter]

    Wagner: Did you scrub the floor?

    Yetter: No, I never had to do that.

    Wagner: Make the beds?

    Yetter: No, I never had to make the beds. When I got married, I didn't know whether the broad hem went to the top of the bed or the bottom. [Laughter]

    Wagner: That's unusual.

    Yetter: I had never made the beds in my life. I was fifteen when my mother got married again. And then, of course, she made the beds after that. When we went to live with her. I didn't leave my grandmother until I was 15. I thought I'd never be weaned away from up the creek. We didn't say, "creek." we said, "crick." Up the crick.
  • Additional family background details; status of grandfather as first DuPont pensioner; more on laundry; leisure activities
    Keywords: Black Gates; Brandywine Creek; Chicken Alley; Flexible Flyer; football; Hagley Powder Yards; Holly Island; ice skating; McConnell's Bridge; pensions; retirement; sledding; sports; Squirrel Run; Wagoner's Row
    Transcript: Wagner: You made mention of Chicken Alley, there? Now your mother came from-

    Yetter: No, she was born in Squirrel Run. My grandmother Billingsley lived in Squirrel Run first and then she moved up to the Black Gates; Now. I don't know how many years she was up there. And then she moved back to Squirrel Run because it was more convenient down there. And my grandfather worked in the black powder all the time until he was pensioned. And he was one of the first one I ever heard tell of being pensioned from DuPont's. And I didn't understand what they were talking about. When I would hear the neighbors say - they called him Wee Alec - Wee Alec Binsley, they said, not Billingsley. It was Spelled Billingsley, but they said Binsley. You know, the Irish sorta had their own way of talking. And Wee Alec was first pensioner up the crick. And so later on in years, I began to realize what it was and I guess they must have gone alphabetically. Because I don't remember anybody By the name of A's getting a pension at the time and he Being a "B" he was the first one in Squirrel Run that got his pension. When DuPont's first started to pension. So, I don't know what year that was. [Laughter].

    Wagner: Was he allowed to stay in Squirrel Run?

    Yetter: Yes and you paid rent and for this six— room house we were in they paid three dollars and a half a month. And we took it over to the office in - well, you know it as Free Park, I guess. The office was over there. Do you know where that office is? I think Pauline Seitz lived there for a good many years. Well, that 's where we took the rent every month. To pay the rent over there. It was $3.50 for our house Because we had six rooms. Yes.

    Wagner: Do you remember how much the pension was?

    Yetter: It seems like it was thirty-six dollars and something. But, I think when he worked in the powder, he only got about forty dollars or something a month. Their salaries were very s.mall and such a dangerous job. It was really small. And when the people would he blown up, DuPont's didn't give them any amount of money. They gave the widow a free house and I think somebody said five dollars a month. And she had several children to raise. With a free house and five dollars a month.

    Wagner: So how did she make out financially?

    Yetter: She had to go out and work. Uh-huh - she had to go out and work unless she had some boys big enough to go out and earn some money or something. And they would depend on the garden. And DuPont's allowed you to take all the fallen trees - you weren't allowed to cut a tree down -But any of the fallen trees you could cut for firewood. And the men would cut wood and take it home and have a pile of wood and that's what they burned all summer -was wood.

    Wagner: In the winter it was coal?

    Yetter: And then in winter, they bought coal. But they only had the stove in the kitchen. Sometimes if you had a parlor, in those days a living room now. That was the parlor. You had a little stove in the parlor and they would light that on Sunday. And burn coal in that on Sunday when the family was sitting around. Otherwise, the parlor was shut off. During the week you sat in the kitchen for heat.

    Wagner: All I can think of is all that washing.

    Yetter: [Laughter]. I can remember the neighbors saying, "Mrs. Billingsley had the side of the hill filled with was." Then, I can remember seeing my grandmother going around there hanging sheets and sheets and underwear! Oh, dear!Wagner: Clotheslines? Yes, clotheslines.


    Yetter: Yes.

    Wagner: Clothes poles?

    Yetter: Yes. And she would have the side of the hill, they said. We had an end house [Laughter] so it was the side of the hill where she hung her clothes.

    Wagner: What sort of activities did your family do together? Did you sit on the porch? You said on Sunday you had to sit on the porch.

    Yetter: Yes. That was when I.was at grandfather MacAdoo's house. He read the Bible and you had to sit up there and listen. I don't know that I listened very much, but we had to he quiet on Sunday, and we were. Of course, I loved to skate in winter. But we weren't allowed to go skating on Sunday. we weren't allowed to sled on Sunday. And I was a great outdoor person. I wasn't a tomboy, But I loved the outdoors. Sports. Now, my sister sat in the house and read all the time. And studied lessons. But, the sports '— we didn't have any toys or anything and in the fall they took sugar --the sugar used to come in bags ~-five pound, ten— pound bags. And the boys would fill them with leaves and use them for football. And that was their football. And then when the boys and girls all played together, I don't know that we played football with them. We would play baseball together with the Boys and girls.

    Wagner: Did you go ice skating?

    Yetter: Yes.

    Wagner: Where?

    Yetter: On the Brandywine right under McConnell Bridge v- down at Breck's Mill.

    Wagner: The winters were colder then?

    Yetter: Yes, uh-huh.

    Wagner: It froze solid?

    Yetter: Yes, it froze pretty solid. And we would go up to - I think we called it Holly Island — the first island right up in Hagley. Well, we weren't allowed to go quite that far up, But we would go as far as where the gates are now and that's where we would go up and down on to the ice - right where Hagley gate is now. And we'd get on the ice there and then we would skate down as far as Breck's Mill and up and down there. That's where we skated all the time.

    Wagner: What kind of skates? Shoe skates?

    Yetter: No, we didn't have shoe skates. We had to fasten the skates on our shoes and I was always getting scolded for tearing the soles off my shoes. [Laughter]. I wore more shoes out than my sister Because she didn't learn to skate.

    Wagner: Now what about - you said sledding - Sledding.

    Yetter: We didn't have Flexible Flyers. We had — we called them cheese boxes most of the time. The carpenters in those days used to make them for the boys -for the families - the father probably made them down in the carpenter shop. And they put runners on them and then in the winter when the snow would come around, they would take and drag the sled over ashes — ~ coal ashes - to make them shiny and slippery. To take the rust off them. That's the way they sharpened their sleds up. What about your skates? Did you sharpen your skates? No, I guess we just skated. We weren't in Olympics. [Laughter]. But I loved skating, I've enjoyed the Olympics so much, watching them now.

    Wagner: What about swimming?

    Yetter: Well, we swam all summer.

    Wagner: Where?

    Yetter: We had what they called it Sandy Butt. And that was up Between Squirrel Run and Wagoner's Row. Do you know where wagoner's Row is? I know where Wagoner's Row is. Well, it was half way up the run there. There's a run comes down through there, and we were about half— way up. And the boys would take this one spot - they had a long piece of tin and, of course, they would swipe bags from duPonts that they had phosphate bags hanging on the fences to air, so the boys would swipe the bags and fill them with sand and build up so far on each side and then have this big sheet of tin that they would draw across it. And it would fill up. Of course you couldn't dive other than taking a - we called it a belly flop.

    Wagner: It wasn't very deep?

    Yetter: No, no. It was probably up to your hips, you know. You learned to swim, but you'd never learn to dive because it was too shallow and we would just flop in - what you would call the belly flop. Sting you, too, when you did that. And if it was going to come up a bad storm, some of the kids would run up and pull that piece of tin over to the side so that the sand banks wouldn't wash away. And then the next day they'd have to go up when the rain and storms were over and push it back on and let the water fill up again. Because otherwise it would only have been about a foot deep. It would be quite shallow. It was just a very small stream that ran through there. The same stream that ran through Squirrel Run.

    Wagner: What kind of bathing suits?

    Yetter: We didn't have Bathing suits; we wore an old dress. And you undressed in back of the Bushes. There was no bathhouse, you know [Laughter] and we would undress back of the bushes. And the girls would have to stand guard duty while one got undresses and the other, and that's the way they would do it. You just took an old dress? An old dress and you just kept that dress. Well, I guess I had two dresses because one was always wet on the line because I would go in the afternoon and then at night when Bess Beacom would come home from work, she'd say, "I'm going up to swim come on up with me." And I’ d go back with her. And then you'd bring your wet dress bathing suit and hang it on the line until the next day again.

    Wagner: I guess the boys went fishing?

    Yetter: Well, there wasn't much fishing up the crick. No.

    Wagner: Did they ever go down to the Brandywine?

    Yetter: I don't think so. I don't remember the boys doing any fishing really of any account at all.

    Wagner: Did you play any musical instruments?

    Yetter: No.

    Wagner: Did your folks have any piano or...?

    Yetter: No. We didn't have any in our house. Beacoms had a piano and we all went to their house and sang at night. Somebody playing - some of their family played and we went over there. Their's was always an open house and that's where the whole gang would go over there. You were always welcome.

    Wagner: Sounds like fun.
  • MacAdoo family daily routine; getting a haircut from the butcher; shoes and clothing
    Keywords: clothing; daily life; haircuts; shoes; undergarments
    Transcript: Wagner: Describe a typical work morning. Your family's daily routine is the big Who got up first?

    Yetter: My grandmother. [Laughter]. And how did she awake you all? just -?

    Wagner: Did she ring a bell or did she-

    Yetter: No, she would come to the bottom of the stairs and call you. And I suppose grandfather got up next and he would probably call some of the boys. I had two uncles at home. They never married. And I suppose he would get them up because they slept on the third floor. I imagine that he would get them up to go out to work. Before he would leave. And by that time my grandmother must have served breakfast every hour until she got all of them out of the house. I don't know how long she would do it. And of course, we being in school, we would be the last to come down for our breakfast. What did you do when you first got up? Well, you came downstairs. You would dress yourself upstairs and then come downstairs and get washed at a table in the kitchen where there was the buckets and the basins. And the buckets of water were there; one was a bucket of fresh water for drinking water and the other was water that you washed and took hot water out of the teakettle off the stove. And that's what you got washed in the morning. And then before you got ready for school - my sister combed my hair until I was about 13 or 14 years old. [Laughter].

    Wagner: Long hair?

    Yetter: Well, I had bobbed hair. All my life.

    Wagner: Who was the beautician? Where did you go to get your hair done?

    Yetter: You never went anywhere. Somebody in the...Well the butcher when I was a little girl used to cut hair. And you either had your hair when school was over, you either had your hair bobbed which was just straight, and your front was pulled back on a hair ribbon. Well, I wore my hair ribbon on the side. Or you had your hair cut like a boy. And they had mine cut short one time and it nearly broke my heart. I didn't want to look like a boy. [Laughter]. But I only had it cut off short once because the next year I had gone to my grandmother Billingsley and, of course, she wouldn't have it done.

    Wagner: When it got a little long?

    Yetter: Well, I think your mother would just take the scissors and trim it off. You know. But this butcher, I suppose he had sharp scissors as well as sharp knives. Because they used to get a bunch of the kids together and he would cut all their hair in one day. I don't think he got paid for it; he just done it for the neighborhood. Everyone worked together.

    Wagner: Did he cut it outside? Did you sit on the porch?

    Yetter: Yes. He would have a bench out in front of the - well he kept his horse and wagon in one of the barns which was burnt down when I was seven or eight years old, and his horse and wagon would be in that barn and out in front of it they had home made benches that the-men had made. The men used to go over there and sit in the sun. And I think we would sit on one of those benches and he would cut our hair for us. Or maybe put us up on a box, don't know how he done it. I don't remember that part. But the butcher was the one that cut our hair. And then our mother trimmed it after that.

    Wagner: Where were your clothes kept? Did you have closets?

    Yetter: We had a closet in every bedroom. But we didn't have as many closets as we have today. We had one closet in each bedroom but you didn't have as many clothes. Right now I have six closets with dresses in every closet. I was hunting - yesterday - I have two clean skirts- wool skirts- and I had to go through six closets to find them. And I didn't find them but they are in the house. But we didn't have that many clothes in those days. You had two - you had two pairs of shoes - one for Sunday or school, and the others for play. You came home from school and took your good shoes off and put your play shoes on.

    Wagner: And were they high top?

    Yetter: Yes. They were high— top shoes. Did they button or did they tie? Well, I mostly had button shoes. And we had shoe buttoners that we would button our shoes with. And it seemed like I was always having to take my shoes to the shoemaker because I was running all the time and wore the shoes out.

    Wagner: Where was the shoemaker?

    Yetter: Well, there was a building right down at the foot of Breck's Lane. There was a building right back there which has been torn down for many years and he had a shop in there. And I guess the shoe - the uppers wore several pairs of soles out. And I don't remember what you paid him, but it wasn't very much money. But you would take them down in the morning and then he'd have them ready for you that night - he'd work on your shoes that night or all day and then you'd get them that night, or the next day - whatever it would be - I don't remember.

    Wagner: Did you have long stockings?

    Yetter: Yes, long stockings, uh— huh.

    Wagner: Made out of what?

    Yetter: Well, everyone wore long, black stockings, just cotton or lisle - I guess cotton they were in those days, I think cotton.

    Wagner: How did you keep them up?

    Yetter: We wore rubber garters. Just, your mother bought a yard of garter rubber and sewed them in a little hoop [laughter]. You put that on and then pulled that up above your knee and held your stockings up.

    Wagner: Did you ever roll them down?

    Yetter: No, we didn't wear rolled stockings in those days [laughter].

    Wagner: What about underwear?

    Yetter: Well, in winter you...

    Wagner: Did you have knee-length drawers?

    Yetter: No, you had long drawers in winter and long-sleeved shirts for winter, and then in summer, well, we wore shorter ones in summertime. And I think I had diphtheria when I was about ten years old, and I told my mother that it was the heavy underwear that gave them to me and I wouldn't put heavy winter underwear on in any winter after that. I wore summer underwear [laughter] 'cause I swore it was the underwear that gave me diphtheria [laughter].

    Wagner: Did you have things like bras and girdles?

    Yetter: [Laughter] No, you didn't have any bras or any girdles. You Were grown up when you finally got a girdle to put on. You were really a young lady then. No, you wore pantybodies that your mother made.

    Wagner: What are they?

    Yetter: Well, they would be instead of a bra and it was just a straight piece of material with built up shoulders, not straps, but it would be on the order of a bra today that you would button on.

    Wagner: Were they tight; did they...?

    Yetter: Well, they kinda' held your...I think maybe it was done to hold the girls' busts, so they wouldn't be flopping when they were changing, you know, and growing up. They called them pantybodies and then there was buttons on the bottom of that and buttonholes on your pants that you buttoned onto the pantybody that held your pants up. So, that's the kind of underwear you had.

    Wagner: You didn't have any elastic in the top of them?

    Yetter: No, we didn't have any elastic in them at all, no. They put bands on them and buttonholes in the panties and buttons on the pantybody; like the little boys had in later years - would button your pants onto the tops, you know.

    Wagner: Any slips or petticoats?

    Yetter: Well, we wore petticoats. Well, they were like a slip today, but your mother made them all; you didn't buy them. They were all home made.

    Wagner: Did you sew?

    Yetter: Well, I didn't sew until I was pretty well grown up. I got sewing lessons in school. Alexis I. duPont had a sewing teacher came one day a week and I learned to sew then. Later, then, I went and learned my trade. I was a dressmaker and you worked six months for nothing.

    Wagner: Hmm. [Laughter]. Back to the slips. Were they fancy?

    Yetter: Well, your mother would make one for Sunday with lace around the neck, you know, or something, you know, or around the bottom. And one winter she made me red flannel petticoats and she catch stitched them in black; put the hem in in black, and I thought they were beautiful [laughter].

    Wagner: [Laughter] They weren't the ones that gave you diphtheria?

    Yetter: No, that was the long underwear that gave me diphtheria. [laughter].
  • Breakfast; getting to school; the trolley and public transportation; lunch
    Keywords: Alexis I. du Pont School; breakfast; flitch; Hagley Powder Yards; lunch; Rising Sun; Rockford; salt pork; school; scrapple; Street-railroads; trolley
    Transcript: Wagner: Were there any chores to do before breakfast?

    Yetter: Well, we didn't have anything to do in our house.

    Wagner: Who cooked breakfast?

    Yetter: My grandmother.

    Wagner: Who set the table?

    Yetter: Oh, I guess grandmother done all that.

    Wagner: What did you have for breakfast?

    Yetter: Well, you weren't allowed to go out without breakfast. I suppose it was fried eggs or fried scrapple maybe in the morning. I don't remember but I'm sure we didn't have bacon. She would buy a big piece of flitch. Now that was salt; I think you call it salt pork today. But we didn't have bacon in those days. And she would slice it and fry it and then fry the egg in the that grease, you know. It made the egg tasty.

    Wagner: Did you say grace?

    Yetter: No, not in my house. Some of them did but we didn't in our house.

    Wagner: Now, you did go to school. Where did you go to school?

    Yetter: Alexis I.

    Wagner: And how did you get there?

    Yetter: Walked.

    Wagner: What route did you walk? From Squirrel Run, how did you walk?

    Yetter: Well, we went down the railroad and cut across the corner of Miss Mary's field [laughter] and up past the-

    Wagner: Who was Miss Mary?

    Yetter: Miss Mary du Pont. Do you know where Miss Mary du Pont's house is? Well, we cut across down at the foot of that and across Breck's Lane and in through the cooper shop. Do you know where the cooper shop is? Then up the railroad into the back gate into the school yard.

    Wagner: You went through the cooper shop or by the cooper shop?

    Yetter: By the cooper shop, yes, by the cooper shop, and there was a railroad track right there alongside of the cooper shop.

    Wagner: Where did the trolley come? The trolley came later.

    Yetter: The trolley came later, uh— huh. I don't remember what year that came, but that came right up through Squirrel Run on the south side of Squirrel Run. It came up on the south side of the track.

    Wagner: Did this parallel the railroad tracks for a little while or?

    Yetter: No, well, from down around Rockford it came across the field and up almost parallel with the railroad track until it got up to uh, let's see where it would come up to then... oh, to Rising Sun, Rising Sun, then. Well, no, it cut through the woods between Rockford and Rising Sun. They cut a track through there, down at the side down from the water tower and came up there.

    Wagner: O.K.this says now, "A typical weekday afternoon." What did you have for lunch? Did you take went to school?

    Yetter: Yes.

    Wagner: Did you take your lunch?

    Yetter: Yes, we carried our lunch.

    Wagner: What about the workers?

    Yetter: Well, they all had a tin lunch bucket that they took. I don't think they had anything to drink with them. They probably drank water. But they just had a metal lunch— box that they carried their lunch in. Peanut butter sandwiches? [laughter]. What did they carry for lunch? I don't know. I don't remember. But I remember the lunch bucket, because I remember seeing him coming in and out with that, you know, but I don't remember what he had in it, because as I say, we weren't raised on sandwiches but they must have put something in it when to work.

    Wagner: What about Saturdays? Now,Sunday you had your big dinner in the middle of the day.

    Yetter: Yes, uh-huh.

    Wagner: What about Saturdays?

    Yetter: Well, Saturday you had uh..... well, mostly you had the meal in the middle of the day and I guess my grandfather came home for his lunch most of the time if he was working close enough. Now, in the later years he was almost up to the iron bridge, because I think he was boss of the packing house. You know where the iron bridge is, when I say iron bridge. Well, the packing house was pretty well up in Hagley Yard up there. He was boss of the packing house when he retired, and that was a little far away, but maybe when he worked down lower in the Hagley Yard, maybe he came up to Squirrel Run for his lunch; I don't know. But everyone ate...mostly had uh... well, most everyone lived in Squirrel Run worked in DuPont's, you see. They didn't work all over town. They mostly worked in DuPont's or else they wouldn't have been livin' in DuPont's houses,'cause when you left DuPont's you left the house, and so I think maybe he came home for his lunch part of the time, I don't know.

    Wagner: What time did he start work in the morning?

    Yetter: Well, I don't know whether he went to work at 6 or 7. And I think they worked 'til six o'clock at night.

    Wagner: Did they get adequate time off for lunch?

    Yetter: Well, I think so, I think so. Because I can remember them saying they took their lunch box and went outside of the building, you know, to eat their lunch or something.

    Wagner: Do you remember any after-school activities?

    Yetter: Well, that's when we got out and played these little games that we made up ourselves - hide and seek. You ran all over the woods and the fields when you played hide and seek [laughter].
  • Going to church and Sunday school; going into Wilmington, Delaware; activities for men; activities for women
    Keywords: 9th and Market Streets, Wilmington, Delaware; church; Claymont, Delaware; Crowninshield, Louise du Pont, 1877-1958; Green Hill Presbyterian Church (Wilmington, Del.); Henry Clay (Del. : Village); Improved Order of Red Men; religion; Rising Sun Lane, Wilmington Delaware; Sunday School; taverns; Wilmington public library
    Transcript: Wagner: O.K., what about going to church?

    Yetter: Well, that was....we had to go to church. We had to go to Sunday School; we didn't have to go to church. But we went to Sunday School all our life and then you got a little older and you went to church. But you did go to Sunday School from you were... Sunday School was always 9:30 in the morning, as it is today, and we always went to Sunday School.

    Wagner: Where did you go?

    Yetter: Greenhill Presbyterian Church. I still belong there.

    Wagner: Oh? That's nice.

    Yetter: [Laughter]

    Wagner: You said you had to listen to your grandfather reading the Bible on the porch.

    Yetter: M-hm.

    Wagner: Were you allowed to get dressed up and go visit on Sunday, or did you stay close to home?

    Yetter: We stayed close to home, m— hm.

    Wagner: What about going in town?

    Yetter: We didn't go in town very much. I think the first time I ever remember going to town must have been when I was about seven years old. My sister took me in. She wanted to go to the library to get books and she took me to the library, and just recently some man in Claymont said he remembered the library in Wilmington at 9th and Market. He guessed there was very few people knew anything about it. When I read that I said, "I remember that. My sister took me in." And he said there were stores on the first floor. Well, I don't remember the stores but I remember goin' in big, double doors and wide stairs. You had to go up stairs to the library; it was on the second floor. So evidently there were stores but I didn't remember that,because I wasn't that old. But that was the first time that I remember going into town. And you went up to the Rising Sun Lane and you got the trolley car there, before the Rising Sun cars started to run -- before the People's Line built the Rising Sun car line.You went up to Rising Sun Lane, where the...I think maybe the bus comes around the same place now there, and that was the end of the line, right there, and that's where you got tickets six for a quarter. If you bought a quarter's worth of tickets, you got six tickets for a quarter. And my sister took me to town this day, and that's the first day I remember goin' to town [laughter].

    Wagner: What activities did the men engage in, on say a weekly basis. Did they have....I'm looking for things like Odd Fellows or club meetings.

    Yetter: Well, the Redmen had an order at Henry Clay, because my father belonged to that, and I don't know that they had very much of anything for the men. When they came home from work, if they worked until six at night, I'm quite sure they worked 'til 6 at that time, and when they came home they were tired after they ate their dinner. And they went to bed early, because they had to get up early, and they didn't do anything at night.

    Wagner: Taverns?

    Yetter: Well, they wouldn't have money during the week to go to the taverns. They'd only have money on payday, which I think they got paid twice a month at du Pont's at that time. I think that's the way they got paid, twice a month.

    Wagner: Was there any tavern close by Squirrel Run?

    Yetter: Oh, yes, there were three up around Henry Clay. One was up by St. Joseph's, where the convent was built on that corner -- where there was once a saloon there, and there was one down the ...

    Wagner: Do you remember the name of it?

    Yetter: Lawless. That was the one up near S. Joseph's church. And then there was Blakeley's, who was a brother to the grocery in Squirrel Run. He was on Rising Sun, about half way up Rising Sun, there was a tavern there. Oh, then there was another one right up when the bus stopped, too. There was two on Rising Sun Lane when I was little. And then there was one down, Toy, I think had that, down near...I don't know how to explain that one to you. Well, half way between Rising Sun and Breck's Lane, there was one along...there was some houses along there and there was a tavern in there and the post office and drug store was all along there, and a barber shop.

    Wagner: O.K., this is activities for the women on a weekly basis. This is in reference to sewing class. Do you remember anything about it?

    Yetter: Well, Miss Louise had sewing class at Christ Church, but I wasn't old enough at the time. I think maybe my sister might have gone to that. I remember Bess Beacom talkin' about goin' up to Miss Louise's, but I never went to that because I was younger. And that must have been before Miss Louise was married. You know who Miss Louise is.

    Wagner: Mrs. Crowninshield.

    Yetter: Crowninshield, uh-huh. They called all those people by their first names.

    Wagner: Why?

    Yetter: I don't know. Now, Mr. Alfred, they never said, "Mr. duPont", "Mr. Alfred","Mr. Pierre", "Mr. Frank".

    Wagner: And everyone knew who it was?

    Yetter: Yeah, uh— huh. They didn't say, "Mr. duPont." "Mr. Frank, where he lived." That's all we ever knew. And Mr. Frank, then I don't know whether he was killed in an explosion, killed in the powder yard or what. Don't remember about that. He was dead as long as I remember, but his wife, Mrs. Frank, lived there [laughter].

    Wagner: What was the, well, I'll follow my list here. We've already talked about Sunday School. They didn't have things like Girl Scouts?

    Yetter: No, no, mm-uh. Just the sewing group.
  • Celebrating holidays:Christmas, Easter, Fourth of July, Halloween; other social gatherings; Alfred I. du Pont's band
    Keywords: Brandywiners; Breck's Lane; Breck's Mill; Christ Church; Christmas; Du Pont, Alfred I. (Alfred Irenee), 1864-1935; Easter; Fourth of July; Tancopanican Band
    Transcript: Wagner: O.K. Now, the most important seasonal events. Now, of course, the first thought is Christmas.

    Yetter: Well, Christmas at schools -— they had entertainment at school and we all took part in that. And usually the Sunday School had some entertainment. You got a box of candy for Christmas. We got a box at Greenhill and then we went up to Christ Church the night and they gave everybody a box of candy up there, whether you were a member there or not. They -- du Ponts paid for the candy. And so they must have ordered a lot of candy because they must have known all the children. Catholics and Protestants all went up Christmas and Easter and Easter they gave us a pretty colored Easter egg, not chocolate. They were pink and lavender and pretty colors. I thought they were beautiful.

    Wagner: Tell me about the Fourth of July. That's when the outside of the house got cleaned.

    Yetter: [Laughter]

    Wagner: Was there ever a Company picnic on the Fourth of July.

    Yetter: No, but I got -- that's one day of the year I got a quarter. One day in the year that I got 25 cents. And St. Josephs run a picnic up on the hill where Hallock duPont built his home. And the carpenters -- duPonts sent their carpenters up and lumber and they put -- or like take four trees and put stands around and then they would have a dance floor and benches on the side for the people to sit on. And raise another place up where the orchestra would be. And people would go up and dance in the afternoon and dance that night. And they strung some lights around that. And, of course, we kids didn't dance but we were out on the floor half the time thinking we were dancing. And then, your quarter -- you'd think how far can we stretch it. I always knew I wanted an ice cream cone for five cents. And a bottle of root beer for five cents. Then I had three nickles that I had to stretch out all the rest of the day. [Laughter].

    Wagner: That sounds like fun. What about Halloween. Did you get dressed up for that?

    Yetter Oh, yes. We made our own costumes and we went out. That was a big event. We went out in crowds and went to every house. And we went up to the duPonts' houses and usually they came to the door and had baskets of apples and would give us all an apple. But they would always either -- they didn't let us in. But the Mrs. -- the lady of the house would come and she would be the one who would give us all an apple.

    Wagner: Did you do any mischief.

    Yetter: Yes, the boys used to upset the toilets. [Laughter]. I guess that's the most. They used to say tic-tac- toe or something. They'd have a button on a string and put it on -- I don't know what -— how they would do it but it would make a noise on windows, sort of a tap-tap-tap, you know, bring somebody to the door and then you would run.

    Wagner: What about Company anniversary. Do you remember any duPont Company anniversary celebrations.

    Yetter: No. They had one when I was a baby. I remember the tin cups that all the families had from it. They had box lunches. My mother told me they had a box lunch for everybody that went and the whole families were up on this hill where they had the picnic. And duPonts furnished a box lunch for everyone and everyone got a tin cup. And I did see the tin cups around in the different houses later -- years later -- but I didn't remember that because that was 1900 they told me. So I would have been only three years old and I didn't know about it. Don't remember a thing about it.

    Wagner: That's all the general categories . Now we have a whole lot of other questions.

    Yetter: Are you getting tired of listening to me talk.

    Wagner: No I don't want you to get tired. If you get tired, just say so. Do you remember when any of the houses were built or torn down.

    Yetter: They were neither built nor torn down in my days.

    Wagner: They were just there.

    Yetter: There, yes.

    Wagner: Do you recall any social events at Breck's Mill?

    Yetter: Well, I hear my sister saying that my mother took her, but I guess I wasn't old enough when they had things in Breck's Mill. And then for years it was closed and they didn't do anything down there. So during my growing— up years, they didn't have anything in Breck's Mill. But later years they Opened it and had -- I think one of the Lairds -— which one was it. One of the Laird boys was interested in singing or something and he had the Brandywiners or something -— he had them up there.

    Wagner: Then you don't remember the band that was led by Alfred I.

    Yetter: Oh, yes, I do because my father played in it. He played the cymbals.

    Wagner: Do you remember the name of it?

    Yetter: No. But I remember it up on the lawn and we all went up on Breck's Lane to hear it. And there was kind of a stone wall. You could sit on that stone wall or stand out on the street, and Mr. Alfred had a good-sized hand there. And in the summer they played up there.

    Wagner: How often did they practice?

    Yetter: Well, I don't remember. I just remember seeing the band there and hearing them play. And that we all went up there, but that was -- I would have been maybe five or six years old at the time.
  • Visiting the powder mills at Hagley as a child; knowledge of powder manufacture
    Keywords: Blakeley's Grocery Store; Brandywine Manufacturer's Sunday School; Free Park; Frizzell's store; Hagley Powder Yard; willow trees; Wilmington, Delaware
    Transcript: Wagner: Were the children ever allowed in the powder mills?

    Yetter: Well, you weren't allowed, but they had a broad fence they built around it and it was - I don't know how wide the boards would be - ten or twelve inches wide and then there was that much space between and all we had to do was turn sideways and slip through it. And we would get inside there and we would play house. We would take sticks and clean the leaves away and put stones around and have walls and what we called our house. We would build little houses inside the powder yards. Why we went inside I don't know.

    Wagner: Forbidden fruit. I guess so - I guess so.

    Yetter: But they never chased us. [Laughter]. We just were ordered not to go in there, but we went in anyhow.

    Wagner: Did you ever see any of the du Pont's. Did they ever visit. The family.

    Yetter: No - never. Never saw any of them around.

    Wagner: Did you know very much about the manufacturing of the black powder?

    Yetter: No. Just the men talking about it. I knew they grew willow trees up there that they used. Did you hear about the willow trees? And every spring or early summer sometime they would but all these young branches off and pile them up into what they called cords - a cord of wood. And then I guess it was the women who went up and peeled them. And Mrs. Beacom used to get paid for that and she would take some and she used to take me up with her sometimes and give me a little knife and we would peel the willows, you know. And they would pay her so much a cord for peeling.

    Wagner: How big was a cord - a cord of wood...willows.

    Yetter: Well, I don't know. It would be stacked up - maybe a pile like the table or something. I don't remember how much it would be.

    Wagner: Would it be as big as a cord of wood. Well, of course, the willow trees weren't very - the branches weren't very wide - maybe an inch or so in circumference - and they would peel them and the peelings would lay there on the ground but the wood they would take away and grind it up and that's what they made black powder out of. And this was a summer job for the women to do after dinner at nights when they went up there. They didn't go in the daytime when the sun was hot, but in the evenings after dinner they would go up in the meadow - what they called the meadow - and peel willows until dark and then go home.

    Wagner: Then someone else would cut the willows.

    Yetter: Yes. duPonts would cut the willows and deliver it where they were going to peel them. They weren't ever afraid the children would but themselves. Well, I don't suppose that many children - they didn't take the real little ones up there. I was probably six, seven or eight years old when Mrs. Beacom would take me with her. And I suppose she just gave me a little dull knife. [Laughter]. I don't remember ever cutting myself. I suppose I run around more than I peeled.

    Wagner: Do you remember the Brandywine Manufacturers' Sunday School?

    Yetter: No. I remember them talking about it. That was at the bottom of Breck's Lane, wasn't it?

    Wagner: No, this would be where the Seitz sisters lived. That building would be the Brandywine Manufacturers' Sunday School.

    Yetter: No. The first I remember it, it was an office. It was an office when I remember it.

    Wagner: Did you ever visit the office. Do you recall being in it?

    Yetter? Well, yes. When I'd take the rent over. But there was only three or four people worked in there. Wasn't very many people worked in there.

    Wagner: And how long after that before they let the Seitzes move in. Well, I don't remember. That would have been a period when I was living in Wilmington. That would be after that. It was after they tore Free Park down. I guess they turned it into a house for them.

    Wagner: Do you know anyone who got a job at the mills because the father was in an explosion?

    Yetter: Well, I think maybe the McElhenny boys learned to be machinists, and I imagine they would give them preference. I don't know - I imagine that's how they learned to be machinists. She had two of her oldest sons. And then the next son he went to study something about blueprints but I don't think he worked at that because in later years he was with Mr. Henry up at Winterthur.

    Wagner: Do you remember Frizzell's grocery store?

    Yetter: Yes, I do.

    Wagner: You said it was Blakeley who had the -

    Yetter: No, well, Frizzells had this little store down there but they didn't have as many things as Blakeley's.

    Wagner: And where was Frizzells located?

    Yetter: Well, it was almost near Breck's Mill. Well, I don't know how to explain it to you. It would have been right along the road there just up from Breck's Mill, toward Hagley - but not very far up -— just around the corner from Breck's Lane.

    Wagner: And you say it was a smaller grocery story or he just did not carry much?

    Yetter: He just didn't carry much. He was a bachelor and a cranky old fellow. [Laughter]. And he lived in the house and I suppose his mother had lived there first with him and she must have died. I don't remember any women being around there until his sister came to keep house for him or something. I can barely remember her. Sam Frizzell was his name.

    Wagner: I've read that he liked to play tricks on people. Do you recall?

    Yetter: I think I've heard them talking about that but I don't know anything about that.

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