Interview with Blanche MacAdoo Yetter, 1984 April 3 [audio](part 2)

Hagley ID:
  • Fourth of July; seeing Barnum and Bailey Circus; other celebrations
    Keywords: Barnum and Bailey Circus; parades; Street-railroads; The Fourth of July; trolley; Wilmington, Delaware
    Transcript: Wagner: We've been over picnics, fairs and festivals -- right? Your picnic on the Fourth of July. Were there any other big doings in town - you went in town especially for?

    Yetter: Only when the circus came to town - we went in to see the parade on Market Street.

    Wagner: Where were the Circus grounds?

    Yetter: The circus grounds? Well, they were - when I was small, they were out at Front and Union. But they always had a parade in the morning - usually on a Saturday morning, and then the circus. The circus must have started at night, or maybe it was summer time because we would all go to Wilmington to see the parade - Barnum and Bailey, I guess it was in those days.

    Wagner: And you went in on the trolley?

    Yetter: Yes, uh-huh.

    Wagner: Any other festivals like St. Anthony's or...

    Yetter: Well, the churches all had strawberry festivals and things like that around - and church suppers. That was big treats to us to go to those things.
  • Renting a home from DuPont; earning supplementary income; sounds of the neighborhood; explosions at Hagley Powder Yard; smells of the neighborhood
    Keywords: "The Workers' World at Hagley" by Glenn Porter; DuPont; explosions; Hagley Powder Yard; housing; renting; Rising Sun Streetcar; sauerkraut; smells; sound; Squirrel Run, Wilmington, Delaware; Street-railroads; The Hackendorn family
    Transcript: Wagner: Did your family rent or own your home?

    Yetter: Hmmm?

    Wagner: Did your family rent or own your home?

    Yetter: Everyone rented from DuPont's up there.

    Wagner: And we've already talked about your house. You had four bedrooms upstairs and big rooms downstairs. Do you know what the rent was?

    Yetter: Three dollars and a half. [Laughter]. I always remember that because I took it over.

    Wagner: And your landlord was?

    Yetter: The DuPont Company.

    Wagner: We've talked about a lot of things. No inside water - where did you get your water and where was the toilet located outside. Streetcars - we got the streetcar line established.

    Yetter: Um-hum. The Rising Sun car came through Squirrel Run.

    Wagner: Did anyone in your family have a job for extra income?

    Yetter: No. There was no such a thing in those days. You lived on what you made - one salary. [Laughter].

    Wagner: No paper route or -

    Yetter: Well, the children. The Walker family who the father had been blown up - they had the paper route for years up around Squirrel Run and one boy and two of the girls served papers every night.

    Wagner: You didn't take in sewing or know anybody who took in sewing?

    Yetter: Well, there was usually a seamstress someplace around up the crick you could get if you wanted for a special occasion. But then most mothers made their children's clothes.

    Wagner: And laundry - we did the laundry.

    Yetter: Yes.

    Wagner: Did your father have a second job?

    Yetter: No. Not really.

    Wagner: All right - some of the sounds of the neighborhood. when the mills were operating, was it noisy?

    Yetter: No - no - until you had an explosion. [Laughter] And if I would hear an explosion today, I would know it's an explosion right away just from hearing them when I was a child. I guess it's just born in you when you were used to hearing them up there.

    Wagner: They weren't noisy?

    Yetter: Well, if you were over near them, you could hear them. But, you see, we were down in Squirrel Run, down in the valley like, and at one time in what they called Chicken Alley they houses were closer, but they finally done away with Chicken Alley. It was too close there when the powder mills went off. And they finally done away with all those houses in Chicken Alley. Well, there might have been one row part way up the hill that was left. And I don't know who lives in the yellow house that used to be up there. I guess I heard, but I don't remember. Up from the iron bridge.

    Wagner: Bells. Did they ring bells to get the work started in the morning?

    Yetter: I don't remember that because we had the bells that tolled the hour of night. So maybe it tolled the hour all day and I didn't notice it in the daytime because I knew I had to be home at nine o'clock at night if I was out playing, you know.

    Wagner: Train noises? Well, there weren't any trains, you see. The only train would come up maybe once a day to Hagley - up in Hagley - to load powder on and take it away. That would maybe be only once or twice a day.

    Wagner: And, of course, you said explosions. You know explosions.

    Yetter: I sure do.

    Wagner: The river. You would be protected from river noise, right?

    Yetter: Oh, yes. There wasn't any — — there was just the Brandywine there, you see, and there wasn't any boats on that.

    Wagner: Chickens?

    Yetter: Well, all the neighbors had chickens, so you paid no attention to them.

    Wagner: Perhaps that was your morning bell.

    Yetter: Well, maybe the rooster got them awake. The people used to say they would hear the rooster crow at four o'clock and then they would get up, but I didn't get up that early. [Laughter].

    Wagner: I know what I want to ask you. Do you ever recall any of the neighbors making sauerkraut out back? Did they keep a little special shed for -—

    Yetter: Oh, yes. Well, the Hackendorns always made it. This one that I told you up here in this house. And then her daughter lived about the third house down from that and I run around with this one's granddaughter. And every time she had sauerkraut, she knew I loved it and she would invite me up to her house. And she had sauerkraut, pork and mashed potatoes. And she always had a glass of wine. And I got a glass of wine then. I don't drink anything since I've grown up, but when you were at that house, you just took it like you would a cup of coffee or tea. But they always served wine with it. But, I think she made her own wine. And they made their own sauerkraut. But they would buy a lot of cabbage up. And, of course, these people had a big yard - garden.

    Wagner: We ought to say that the Hackendorns are on the cover because the tape can't see it.

    Yetter: Yes. Oh, well, the Hackendorns are on the cover of The Workers' World - - the front page - where the Hackendorns lived. I don't remember what his first name was.

    Wagner: O.K. What is the worst smell that you remember? Besides sauerkraut?

    Yetter: Oh, I like the smell of sauerkraut. I don't know. Nothing particular. Only when they had to clean the toilets out. It was bad in spring and fall.

    Wagner: The most pleasant?

    Yetter: Maybe that's your orange blossoms. Oh, the orange blossoms were lovely.
  • Family flower garden; shopping at local grocery stores; luxuries
    Keywords: Blakeley's; dresses; Federal Bakery; flowers; Frizzell's store; gardening; gardens; ice cream; Market Street and King Street on Fourth Street, in Wilmington, Delaware; Sears Roebuck and Co.; Walker's Banks; Wilmington Delaware; Yetter family bakery
    Transcript: Wagner: Now we talked about the garden. Your folks had a garden.

    Yetter: Yes.

    Wagner: And a flower garden. Did you ever sell or trade your produce?

    Yetter: No. We never sold it, but I imagine maybe some of the neighbors if they had a surplus, would give one another some and share. In those days, people shared more than they do today.

    Wagner: And flowers - we made mention of annuals - petunias, and what else?

    Yetter: My grandmother had some dahlias - I remember yellow dahlias. Not any other colors, I just remember the yellow.

    Wagner: What about daffodils?

    Yetter: No, I don't think we did.

    Wagner: Marigolds?

    Yetter: Well, I suppose she had some marigolds and zinnias something like that.

    Wagner: Was there ever a company store? No. When you went to the store - to Frizzell's or the Blakeley's - you paid cash?

    Yetter: No, they had books. Well, you would pay cash if you had the money. But, you had books, and when you got your check on payday, you went and paid your bill. But there wasn't any machines - they just added it up and you paid your bill and they receipted it right in that same book.

    Wagner: What things did you have to go to Wilmington for?

    Yetter: Well, I think dress material and things like that they would go to Wilmington for that - and their shoes and things - wearing apparel they went to town for because those grocery stores didn't carry anything like that.

    Wagner: Did you ever shop from catalogs?

    Yetter: Well, I guess they did some, but I wasn't used to Sears at that time. [Laughter].

    Wagner: In what way was it expressed to the family and the community that a young person was now an adult? Did 12 years old make you an adult?

    Yetter: Well - no - I think you had to be 21 if you were a girl or a boy before you were a man or a woman. [Laughter]. Before you were your own boss I might say.

    Wagner: Did your clothing change? When you became an adult? Well, I suppose your dresses - the girls' dresses got longer. I don't know that there was so much change. And the boys went from knickers to - from knee pants - well, they went to knickers first and then into long pants. For the boys.

    Wagner: Well, that would come before 21.

    Yetter: Yes. Uh-huh. What was considered a luxury?

    Wagner: A gallon or two gallons of ice cream on the 4th of July. The Yetter family made ice cream. They had a bakery on 4th Street in Wilmington between -

    Wagner: I was going to ask you about that. I came across that. Was it about 6th and Market? It was between Market and King on 4th Street. They had a bakery and in the summer she made homemade ice cream . And 4th of July, they came around a week or so before and took orders. And you bought one gallon or two gallons, whatever you could afford. And 4th of July morning they came up with a horse and wagon and your ice cream. And they delivered it and you paid it right then and sometime later he came back and gathered up his tubs. So we all ate ice cream then; that was a luxury and they had delicious ice cream. That was the same Yetter family that my husband - it was his Aunt Rosie who had the store. And she sold that - she sold it to Federal - You know the Federal Bakery on Market Street - maybe that's where you got this one on Market Street. She sold out to them and then they moved up on Market Street - had more room or something. But that would have been the same Yetter.

    Wagner: A note I picked up is that Jimmy MacAdoo was an Irishman who lived in Squirrel Run.

    Yetter: Well, that would be my grandfather MacAdoo and, of course, my father was Jimmy MacAdoo, too.

    Wagner: Now, back to luxuries. That was ice cream on the 4th of July. Any clothing or house fixtures or furnishings that -

    Yetter: Well, we just had one living room suit all their life. That was it. They didn't change it every few years.

    Wanger: Jewelry?

    Yetter: No.

    Wagner: Did everyone have a watch?

    Yetter: No. You were grown up when you got a watch. That would have been a luxury. Maybe a boy got a watch when he was 21. Or maybe the girl got one when she graduated from high school. But they wouldn't have had it just to wear to school every day, you know.

    Wagner: Who was the dressmaker in the neighborhood. You said you would have a seamstress for a special occasion.

    Yetter: Well, one lived over on Walker's Bank. Let's see, what was her name? I think her name was Tillie. Allison. I suppose Matilda would have been her name. They called her Tillie Allison. Have you heard of her?

    Wagner: I haven't come across her.

    Yetter: Tillie Allison was her name. I think she was a maiden lady and she was a dressmaker. She went out. She would go to your home. And then there was the Ferraro girls. You've heard of them because one only died a few years ago, couple years ago, was it? She must have been nearly a hundred. She lived on the other side of the Brandywine over near the DuPont Experimental Station. She lived in a house there and I think some of the houses were torn down but they never put her out. They let her stay until she died. Her name would have been Ferraro. Two of them there. They were dressmakers. One died several years ago. Of course, the other one didn't sew in later years.

    Wagner: What would be a special occasion? A wedding dress?

    Yetter: Yes. Um-hmm. I guess they made wedding gowns or something like that or - well, the Ferraros made my sister and I both dresses alike one time. And I think they were Winter dresses: I can kinda remember them. [Laughter]. But I didn't get many new dresses because my sister got the new dresses and I grew into them when she outgrew them, so I didn't get many new dresses.I thought they were beautiful when she got them, but they weren't beautiful when I got them. Although she took care of her clothes.
  • Using tobacco and personal hygiene; safety measures at the Hagley Powder Yards; community medical care; epidemics and typhoid fever
    Keywords: Centerville, Delaware; death; Diphtheria; epidemics; Hagley Powder Yard; illness; influenza; Influenza Epidemic (1918-1919); medical care; midwives doctors; pulp keg mill; Rough and ready tobacco; smoking pipes; Squirrel Run; Tobacco usage; typhoid fever; Wilmington, Delaware
    Transcript: Wagner: What was the most commonly found tobacco? Who smoked in your family?

    Yetter: My grandfather smoked a pipe.

    Wagner: Do you remember the tobacco?

    Yetter: Yes. He bought Rough and Ready. And it came in a long piece about two inches wide maybe and three inches long. And he would break pieces off and stuff it in his pipe and light it. And he would sit back in the corner in back of the stove and smoke at night and relax and he would stick a paper in the stove when he wanted to light his match and then put it over and I can remember sparks flying from his clothes if a little bit of powder would be on his clothes; and the heat, or the light of the blaze would pick up little bits of dust on his clothes. There wouldn't be enough on it to catch fire, but I can remember seeing the blaze picking up little bits of powder on his clothes. He didn't change his clothes when he came home like the men would today, because he wasn't going out anyplace. [Laughter].

    Wagner: Then he did not wash up before he left the mills.

    Yetter: No, there was not place to wash up, at the mill. They had to come home to get washed.

    Wagner: He didn't leave his clothes outside?

    Yetter: No. He came right in with them.

    Wagner: He wasn't dangerous to have around?

    Yetter: No. And the shoes that they wore didn't have nails in them. They were wooden pegs. They had to buy special shoes to go in the powder yards to work in the powder.

    Wagner: Well, did the Company buy them or did?

    Yetter: No, I don't think they did. I think the men had to buy them themselves. I don't remember, but I think the men bought them themselves. But they didn't have nails, I can remember that and they were put together with wooden pegs because if they had tramped on powder on something, it might have set off the powder mill. And that's why they had to wear safety shoes. DuPont still believes in safety things.

    Wagner: Did social status in the community depend on your position in the Company?

    Yetter: No, I don't think so. There wasn't too much social other than what you made yourself. The Company didn't have anything to do with that.

    Wagner: Was there any one person in the neighborhood to whom you went in time of trouble or if you needed advice? Was there a godfather in the neighborhood?

    Yetter: Well, I think they all took care of one another. I think maybe my grandmother took care of a lot of maternity cases. When someone would have a baby.

    Wagner: Were there midwives?

    Yetter: No, they weren't midwives, but you know in those days if you called the doctor, you didn't get the doctor. No one had telephones unless it would be the grocery store. And you had to go to them and ask them to call if you wanted a doctor. And the doctor wouldn't get there for three or four days maybe. Of course, he came in a horse and buggy in those days. Before I was 15, of course they had automobiles by then, but in the beginning when I was smaller, they still used the horse and wagon and so they didn't come right away. So, I suppose when a woman had a baby, the next door neighbor came in to take care of her. And they would do their washing and ironing and cook their meals for them; get the kids all off to school. And one woman would do all this and take care of her own family.

    Wagner: But there were no midwives as such?

    Yetter: No. Well, there was maybe one woman lived down Breck's Lane. I think her name was Miss Mary Sweeney and she was a nurse who went out and took care of maternity cases. But she would go with the doctor, you know, she wouldn't deliver the baby herself. Unless the doctor did not get there, and I'm sure she delivered more than one. But she wasn't trained for that. She was trained to be a nurse to take care of the mother and the baby.

    Wagner: Was there any doctor in the neighborhood?

    Yetter: No. I think when I was small, Centerville was the closest doctor and one in Wilmington that came out.

    Wagner: No Company doctor?

    Yetter: No. Laws hadn't changed in those days. They didn't have to have them.

    Wagner: Did neighbors help when someone was sick?

    Yetter: Yes. We all went in and pitched in. My grandmother brought more than one load of wash home to her house to do for some of the neighbors when someone was sick in the house. I can remember her doing that. And all the neighbors done that. And there was one woman, Miss Flanigan; when anybody died, they sent for her. And she came up and would bathe the dead person before the undertaker got there. She done that for everybody that died in Squirrel Run and she didn't get paid for it. They just called her; whether it was night or day she went up. So, can you imagine something like that today? Anyone doing that? And she was just a good-natured lady and had a big family of her own; she had seven or eight children of her own. But she was always willing to help the neighbors.

    Wagner: Do you remember any epidemics as such? You made mention of the typhoid epidemic.

    Yetter: Well, my mother told me about that when the was younger. That so many people died from typhoid fever and that's when they began to get after these outside toilets and things that you know would drain off and get into the springs and the water they were drinking. That's what they blamed it on. Because later years they didn't have that kind of epidemic. But when she was young, she told me that a great many families lost someone in the family. From typhoid fever.

    Wagner: Now, you made mention of diphtheria. Was that epidemic?

    Yetter: No. It wasn't really an epidemic. There was one other girl in Squirrel Run had it when I had it and we both had been going over to the pulp keg when this load of rubbish, I would call it, -- load of things came in that they would grind up and all; and it came from stores and things and there would be little short ends of ribbons and things and we would take them home to make doll's clothes. And we would go over and sort through it and we both took diphtheria, so whether we caught it from some of these things, I don't know or whether it was heavy underwear [Laughter]. But we had it the same time. I had the old time doctor and he didn't give me antitoxin. And the other doctor, the younger doctor, gave the other girl antitoxin and it left her lame in one leg at that time. And she was lame and she dragged that one leg until she died. She was about my age at the time.

    Wagner: Do you remember influenza?

    Yetter: Well, that was later on. That was in 1918. So, I am sure that wiped a lot of people out up the crick. [Laughter].
  • Getting ice, butter, and milk; taking care of the icebox; maintaining contact with Ireland
    Keywords: butter; correspondence; ice; icebox; Ireland; James Baugh; milk; Montchanin, Delaware; Squirrel Run; travel
    Transcript: Wagner: We go from illness to where did you get your ice?

    Yetter: There was an ice man come around. I don't know whether he came on Saturday and you would buy 50 pounds or something. Maybe that would help keep your meat over the weekend. You didn't have ice outside of that and you just cooked your meat up and you ate it before it spoiled. I don't know how they — they just kept it wherever was the coolest part in the house.

    Wagner: What about your butter and milk?

    Yetter: Well, they got fresh milk every day. They didn't buy half a gallon like we would for all week. The milkman delivered the milk fresh every day to you and you see it hadn't gone through any other systems or length of time; it was really fresh when he delivered it. It had been milked the day before and it would keep for a couple days. And then if they thought it was going to spoil, they would boil it or put it on and heat it through and it would keep longer for them that way. But getting it fresh every day; they didn't lay it in.

    Wagner: Where did it come from?

    Yetter: The milkman. Jimmy Baugh had a milk route there and he lived at Montchanin. And he delivered milk every day.

    Wagner: Did he have a dairy herd?

    Yetter: I guess he did. And he probably bought milk off other people too - farmers up around Montchanin. And he just measured it out in quart cans and poured it in your own bucket. You didn't have bottles. You didn't have milk bottles.

    Wagner: Didn't worry about sterilizing them?

    Yetter: No, nothing.

    Wagner: I guess when it started to sour, you would make buttermilk.

    Yetter: Well, yes. People used to make their own cottage cheese. Now we pay 99 cents for a little container. [Laughter]. We used to buy it for 5 cents a cup in the market.

    Wagner: Who emptied the ice box pan? Whose job was that?

    Yetter: Well, that was later - later years when they got the one with the ice in. That was - I mean my first refrigerator was ice and we had to empty that pan every night because it got filled up. And either my husband or I would empty because if you left it overnight, it would overflow.

    Wagner: In the neighborhood in Squirrel Run was there ever a neighborhood bully?

    Yetter: Oh, I think there's a bully everyplace. Even today. Do you recall a special bully? No no, not especially.

    Wagner: No one you were afraid of?

    Yetter: No. No, I don't think so.

    Wagner: Any neighborhood heroes everyone looked up to?

    Yetter: Well, I don't know that there was.

    Wagner: If your family emigrated to America, did they find what they expected to find when they got here?

    Yetter: Well, I never heard them say anything because I think they were very young when they came. My grandfather Billingsley who raised us - oh, I think he went to war when he was 15. And, so, he never talked much about - he would know his own home if he went back to Ireland. He never went back, but if he did, he would know it by the green clothes props. His mother always painted the clothes props, and you know what clothes props are. She painted them green and he would know those. [Laughter]. If he ever went back.

    Wagner: But he never returned.

    Yetter: He never returned, no.

    Wagner: Did you know anyone who did return, just go back to t he old country?

    Yetter: No. No. In later years people began to go back for visits, but people got more money in later years. But, way back then I don't think they had enough money to go back.

    Wagner: Or really wanted to?

    Yetter: Or really wanted to. I guess they thought our streets were lined with gold when they came over, you know. I guess we still have everything better than the other countries. [Laughter].

    Wagner: Was there any communication with the old country? Did you have any relatives who came to visit or who came to stay?

    Yetter: No. We never kept in touch with anybody over there - not that I remember. Maybe my grandfather didn't write letters. He could read because he read the newspaper but he maybe didn't write very much. But I don't think they ever bothered writing back and forth to one another. Or maybe his family all came over here, you know, in this country. I don't know.
  • Attitudes toward work; living conditions in Squirrel Run; telephones; buying and canning food; family's reactions to new inventions; hats and scarves for men and women
    Keywords: derbies; food; hats; living conditions; scarves; slouch hats; Squirrel Run; technology; telephones; work
    Transcript: Wagner: What was your parents' attitude towards work?

    Yetter: Well, I don't think they ever complained. They just got up and went to work in the morning. Knew they had it to do and they didn't complain. They weren't griping like the people today. [Laughter].

    Wagner: It was simply considered a duty, or did they feel they had to expect a lot from a job?

    Yetter: No. They just expected a living and that was all. And they were happy with it.

    Wagner: What were your feelings about the living conditions in your village?

    Yetter: Well, we didn't know any better so they seemed to be all right to us. We didn't know to complain about them because we didn't know any better. So, you just accepted everything as it was.

    Wagner: Did you compare yourselves with the neighbors?

    Yetter: Well, everyone was the same. We were all poor. We all had, as I say, two pairs of shoes - the good ones and the old ones. And that was it.

    Wagner: One thing I didn't ask you about was telephones. You said there was only one.

    Yetter: The grocery store maybe had a telephone. The would be about the only one.

    Wagner: One neighbor in the block wouldn't have a telephone?

    Yetter: Oh, no, no, no. Only one telephone maybe in a hundred houses. There were very few telephones when I was growing up.

    Wagner: What were they like?

    Yetter: The telephones?

    Wagner: Yes.

    Yetter: Most of them were on the wall. with a hand crank? Well, I don't remember because they didn't have any when I was small and I don't remember much about them. The first time I ever talked on the telephone was down in the office down at the end of Squirrel Run. Florence Seitz was - at the - what do you call it - the switch board and she let us talk to someone so we could say we talked over the telephone. And two or three girls went in to talk to Florence and she let us talk to someone. I don't know who it was. So, we thought we were grown up when we said hello on the telephone.

    Wagner: Where did you buy food? We determined - Yes - at the grocery store.

    Yetter: But then there was hucksters - they called them hucksters - came around with wagons with vegetables and things on it. I don't know whether they came once a week or whether they came the year round or not - I don't remember. But sometimes they would come around with things on a truck or something and sell you. And in the summer time when farmers had baskets of tomatoes, they would come in farm wagons full of tomatoes and sell you baskets and that's when my grandmother would can tomatoes in quart jars she put them up in. I made ketchup and things.

    Wagner: Do you remember helping with any of the canning?

    Yetter: No. We never had to do that. We were just lucky. We were lucky kids.

    Wagner: What about food spoiling? What did you do with food that went bad?

    Yetter: I don't think it ever got a chance to go bad. There must have been too many mouths in our house to feed. I don't know. The dog got what was ever left over. We didn't buy dog food. We just fed the dog off whatever came from the table. So, I suppose when anything was through with family, the dog to it. I don't remember my grandmother ever saying anything about things spoiling. Of course, like if you had ham in those days, they were cured different than they are today. Ham would keep, you know, for a long time. Well, the ham today isn't. It's just cured very fast and it won't hold up like the hams used to. They were dried and smoked before, and things kept better.

    Wagner: Were they terribly salty?

    Yetter: Yes. They were quite salty. And then they were smoked until they were kinda dry. Today you find if you buy a piece of ham, it has water added.

    Wagner: Did you have to soak the ham?

    Yetter: Well, I think my grandmother maybe used to soak it overnight and then cook it the next day. I think she would maybe soak it. I don't know whether that took any out, but by the time you cooked it and made your pot of ham and cabbage, everything was flavored.

    Wagner: How did your family feel about progress? New inventions?

    Yetter: Oh, well, I guess they didn't know enough about them at that time to think of them being progress. I don't think they gave it much thought. They took for granted anything that came along, I guess, and didn't look at it the way that you would today or even that I would in my day or you in your day. They just didn't look at it that far ahead. That's life.

    Wagner: You're too busy In looking at pictures taken during the early 1900's, it seems that men almost always wore hats.

    Wagner: Yes, they did. Can you tell me something about men's hats?

    Yetter: Well, they wore derbys. Mostly derbys, I think. Of course, a lot of men wore caps, too.

    Wagner: Did they wear caps to work in?

    Yetter: Yes, I think so. They wore caps to work in and the derby was dress-up. When they were dressed up. Maybe some of them had slouch hats. I don't remember. Because I had pictures of my father with a derby on. So, I'm sure they wore derbys on Sundays.

    Wagner: Did they have as many hats as they had pairs of shoes?

    Yetter: Oh, no. I guess they only had one that lasted for years. They didn't get a new one every Easter. [Laughter].

    Wagner: When did women wear hats and scarves?

    Yetter: Well, they always wore hats. And well, scarves, I think came in around - well - maybe not until around 1915 or so when they began to wear scarves. Put a scarf on your head instead of a hat sometimes.
  • Status at DuPont compared to social status in the worker's villages; women's use of cosmetics; medicines, drugs, tonics, and home remedies
    Keywords: cod liver oil; cosmetics; Delaware Hospital, Wilmington Delaware; E.I. DuPont de Nemours and Co.; Frizzell's store; Henry Clay (Del. : Village); home remedies; Homeopathic Hospital, Wilmington Delaware; Lydia Pinkham's Compound; medicine; mustard plaster; promotions; social life; work
    Transcript: Wagner: Back to village life again; would a foreman and his family dress differently from workers?

    Yetter: No. He was just considered the boss, but I don't think he would dress any different or any better. Just because he was a step above them, I don't think he did.

    Wagner: There was not much social difference?

    Yetter: No, not much social difference; no.

    Wagner: When someone was promoted, what change followed? Did everyone move up the line?

    Yetter: Well, I don't know. They were small groups in those days. It wasn't like DuPont's offices today, you know. And there wouldn't have been too many there to get a promotion. And they weren't always fighting to get the other man's job, I think. They just had a job and stuck by it.

    Wagner: Was a man proud of "working man's hands"?

    Yetter: Well, I guess maybe he was proud that he was able to work. That's all I know.

    Wagner: Did women use what we call cosmetics?

    Yetter: They used some powder, I think. But I can remember my mother having a block of what she said was rice powder. It was a square block and she could rub that on her face instead of shaking it out of a can like we have talcum powder. But I don't remember the block ever getting smaller. I can remember it being on her dresser and she would put it on her face. And I think they used rouge even many years ago. I think they did use rouge.

    Wagner: Could they buy these at Frizzell's?

    Yetter: I don't know. I imagine the drug store. I think she would buy them at the drug store.

    Wagner: Do you remember the name of the drug store?

    Yetter: I can't think of his name now who had the drugstore. Well, there was a Frizzell had the first place, but I don't remember the name of the man who had the last drug store in Henry Clay. There was a Frizzell had it. I guess he would have been - maybe a brother to Sam Frizzell, I don't know. His name was Frizzell who had the drug store. When I was real small.

    Wagner: What would you purchase in the drug store?

    Yetter: Well, you took your prescriptions there. And some- times you got it in a bottle and mostly it was - you didn't get pills. They put it up in little papers. Have you ever seen them? Little papers.

    Wagner: You mean like chewing gum papers?

    Yetter: Yes. The way they fold it. They put so much on each paper. In a little box?

    Wagner: Yes.

    Yetter: Well, that's what the druggist either put it in powder form or sometimes it would be liquid. In the bottle. But, I don't remember much about pills. I don't remember taking pills when I was small.

    Wagner: What about tonics and cod liver oil - things like that?

    Yetter: Oh, yes. Some of the families used to take cod liver oil in wintertime. We never did, but one time I went to the drug store with Bess Beacom and she was getting cod liver oil in a bottle. And coming home she said [Laughter], "did you ever taste it?" And I said, "No." She said, "Do you want to taste it?" So she takes the cork out of the bottle and I just put it on my tongue. I still think I taste it! [Laughter]. Oh, I thought that was the most horrible thing. And when my children came along, I heard some of the women saying they were going to start to give them cod liver oil. And I said, "I'm never going to give mine cod liver oil; I tasted it years ago and I still can taste it." So, I never did have cod liver oil in my house.

    Wagner: You don't remember any other things like Lydia Pinkham's Compound?

    Yetter: I remember they used to say about Lydia Pinkham's was a tonic to take. Never tried it? No. Never tried it. My grandmother used to mix sulfur and molasses in the spring of the year. She said your blood needed thinning out and she would give you a few days in the mornings a spoon- full of that and you had to eat it. It wasn't too good tasting, either. [Laughter].

    Wagner: Do you remember any home remedies?

    Yetter: Well, of course, they all made their own mustard plasters if you had a cold in your chest or a pain in your back, you got a mustard plaster. That was made with flour, lard and mustard. And they would - and I suppose add a little bit of water to it - and she would heat it on the stove or get it warm and then if you had a cold in your chest, she would slap it on your chest. They weren't very comfortable, but you had to use it, you know. Men used to get pains in their back, you know, and she would put one on their back. And she used to make cough medicine out of rock candy and a couple of other things she would mix together to make cough medicine. We always had a bottle of that around the house.

    Wagner: Where was the local hospital?

    Yetter: Well, the Delaware and the Homeopathic Hospital were the two in Wilmington way back then, but people didn't run to the hospital then like they do today. If you took appendicitis they got you there, but outside of that you didn't go to the hospital very often. In some emergency, well, if you got a broken arm the doctor set your arm in his office; he didn't send you to the hospital to have it done, or if your leg was broken he came to the house and set it and you stayed in bed until it was better to get up and walk again. So people weren't running to the hospital all the time then.

    Wagner: Let's see, we got off onto the medicine from the cosmetics [laughter] I was thinking of home remedies like, uh, well, I was always thinking of home cosmetics. Do you remember any special, like night cream to keep you beautiful looking. [Laughter]

    Yetter: No, I can remember the Seitz girls. They said they used to bathe their face in milk every night, and they were all nice looking girls — — had nice complexions - and they said they used to bathe their face in milk. There might be something to that. But they were nice-looking girls. They all had good complexions. That was a very nice family.
  • Family size; clothes for housework; other clothes and jewelry; walking paths; village life; pets and hunting
    Keywords: Christ Church Christiana Hundred (Wilmington, Del.); dog; family size; Free Park; Freemasons; Hagley Powder Yards; house dresses; hunting; jewelry; Odd Fellows; pets; Squirrel Run; village life
    Transcript: Wagner: Was there an ideal family size or number of children? [Laughter]

    Yetter: Oh, they all had a lot of children. It was in my day when they came with only having two children [laughter], but before that they used to have four and five and six. Of course, in later years they developed the pill so, whether they had children or not, they had the pill later on.

    Wagner: What did you wear around the house? Did you have a dress for housework?

    Yetter: Well, they just wore the same dress all day and all the time - maybe had a couple of house dresses, you know, that they could wash one a week and wear it for a week and then wash it the next week, you know, and have a clean one for that week. They didn't have a lot of clothes.

    Wagner: So you'd almost have to have something to wear when you were cleaning?

    Yetter: Sort of gingham house dresses and, of course, then they wore great big gingham aprons that covered the whole front clear down to their ankles. The gingham aprons were so large that they covered them all over and I guess their dresses didn't get as dirty, you know, because the apron would catch the dirt, you know, and then when they sat down in the evening they'd take their apron off and they felt clean, I guess.

    Wagner: It was easier to change the apron than the dress.

    Yetter: Yes, than to change the dress. Of course, the young girls now don't even wear aprons [laughter]. I used to make a lot of aprons for bazaars and nobody wants to buy aprons anymore.

    Wagner: A good dress. Of course, you would have a good afternoon dress.

    Yetter: You'd have for your Sunday best. Everyone had their Sunday best.

    Wagner: Now, here we're back to jewelery again. Wedding bands, both men and women wore wedding bands?

    Yetter: No, men didn't wear wedding bands - just the women. They all wore a broad, thick,gold band, 18 karat gold [laughter]. And the men didn't?

    Yetter: No, the men didn't. That's just late years.

    Wagner: And the men had pocket watches? Yes, they had pocket watches.

    Wagner: Wristwatches?

    Yetter: No, no watches — - no wristwatches.

    Wagner: Were the men allowed to wear rings working around the machinery?

    Yetter: Well, I don't think they ever had any on. I never remember the men wearing rings. I'm sure they wouldn't worn them around the machinery anyhow.

    Wagner: Do you recall religious jewelry? Did the men wear religious jewelry? Well, the Catholics wore crosses around their neck; the Protestants didn't wear crosses - just the Catholics wore crosses around their neck.

    Wagner: Sunday School or club pins?

    Yetter: Well, Sunday School used to give little pins if you didn't miss a day in the year, or something like that, and the children were always to earn those so they went to Sunday School steady.

    Wagner: What about men, like Odd Fellows pins or Masonic pins? Well, if they belonged to those organizations they mighta' had a pin, but they didn't wear it all the they just put it on when they went to the meetings something. They didn't wear it and display it all time, you know time.

    Wagner: Where some of the paths went, said. "your own two feet," you said. [Laughter]

    Yetter: Yeah, well, there weren't very many paths around there. There was a path up the hill to go to Free Park, a short path, and at the lower end of Squirrel Run the DuPonts' had put steps up - wooden steps up and there was a walk up at the top of it along the fence around Hagley Yard. They had put a walk up that way in later years. You just rambled any place you wanted in those days. You didn't have to have a path. You went through the field or through the woods [laughter].

    Wagner: But you did have a path up to school?

    Yetter: Yes, uh-huh.

    Wagner: And up to church.

    Yetter: Yes, uh-huh. Well, I think that was one of the reasons they put the steps up - maybe for people to go to Christ Church, you know, to go up that way. I don't know how many years those steps were up. They were up for a long while and that was probably one of the things, because people [the Episcopals] down the creek had to come up that way and go up that hill to get to Christ Church. Of course, nowadays I suppose it's more of the wealthy people that go there and there's not many villages up there any more, you know. Everyone has moved away.

    Wagner: What sort of things would a woman carry in her handbag or pockets?

    Yetter: Not much of anything but her handkerchief [laughter].

    Wagner: A change purse, a few extra pennies?

    Yetter: I don't think they ever had that many extra pennies. A few pennies to put in the collection.

    Wagner: And there was no pay telephone, huh?

    Yetter: No, there was no pay telephone.

    Wagner: Do you remember any neighborhood characters? Was there ever anyone, you know how kids do - point fingers at you.

    Yetter: Oh, I suppose there'd been some of those around.

    Wagner: Do you recall them?

    Yetter: I don't know if there was...not really up the creek I don't think there was so many. I don't remember any in particular, uh-uh.

    Wagner: Now, for a pet you had?

    Yetter: We had a dog outside. He wasn't in the house.

    Wagner: Any special dog?

    Yetter: Just a hound dog. Usually my uncle would go gunnin' and take him gunnin' once a year, but I don't know whether he ever caught anything with the dog with him.

    Wagner: Where would he gun?

    Yetter: Oh, up over the duPonts' fields, up toward Montchanin around the different woods.

    Wagner: What would he get?

    Yetter: Oh, rabbits and squirrels, that's about all they would ever gun for up there.

    Wagner: You didn't keep any livestock - you didn't have any sheep or anything?

    Yetter: No, no, just a few chickens, you know.

    Wagner: Was one village considered better than the other?

    Yetter: No, I don't think so. No they were all sort of on the same level, just all workin' people.

    Wagner: No right side of the tracks or wrong side?

    Yetter: No, no, no, I don't think so.
  • Glasses, clothing, and shoes; marriage; getting coal deliveries; peddlers and other traveling salespeople
    Keywords: babies; Borden's Condensed Milk; clothing; coal; family; glasses; peddlers; Peninsula Condensed milk; shoes; traveling salespeople; weddings
    Transcript: Wagner: Did many people wear glasses?

    Yetter: Oh, I guess I thought all the older people wore glasses [laughter] I don't know.

    Wagner: Did children wear glasses?

    Yetter: Well, they weren't taken care of in school like they are today. They probably didn't get them until they were pretty far advanced -- that their eyes were pretty bad when they would get glasses. But there weren't too many children wearing them. They couldn't afford to buy them maybe, to begin with.

    Wagner: Did anybody tease a child if he wore glasses?

    Yetter: No, I don't think so.

    Wagner: What about going barefoot?

    Yetter: Well, I never could go barefoot because I always got "stoney bruise", my grandmother called them, so they never allowed me to go in my bare feet. Most of the children go in their bare feet nowadays, but a lot of the children did go in their bare feet but I never was allowed to go in my bare feet.

    Wagner: Now, we've already talked about shoes, about how you got shoes. You went in town to get shoes.

    Yetter: Uh-huh.

    Wagner: What kind of shoes did your mother and father wear at home?

    Yetter: Well, they just wore whatever was in style at the time, or whatever was on the market, I guess, you didn't have any particular style or shoes.

    Wagner: I just wonder if they put on slippers.

    Yetter: No, I don't think so; I think they put their shoes on in the morning and wore them 'til bedtime. They didn't go around in bedroom slippers [laughter] or slouchin' around. You were either dressed when you got up in the mornin' or undressed, you know.

    Wagner: No dungarees?

    Yetter: No, and women runnin' around in housecoats all day long!

    Wagner: O.K., when a young couple got married what things were considered necessary — - what things did you have to have when you got married?

    Yetter: Well, I don't know, I guess they just furnished the house the best they could afford at the time.

    Wagner: Did they have a house?

    Yetter: Well, they didn't own it. They would have to rent a house, because people didn't buy houses years ago; most everyone rented. Nowadays most people own their own home, you know, but years ago they did't. We'd begin to think people were gettin' pretty well off when they began to buy their own home.

    Wagner: Did young,married people live with their in-laws? Most of them, I think most of them tried to go house- keepin' themselves.

    Wagner: What about bridal showers?

    Yetter: No, they didn't have such a thing.

    Wagner: Big, fancy weddings?

    Yetter: Well, they had home weddings, I guess, more or less. Maybe they'd have ice cream and cake or maybe it'd be just lemonade and cake. Years ago we went to all the parties and had lemonade and cake. And the women made the cake and somebody made the lemonade and that was it!

    Wagner: Sounds good to me! [Laughter] How old did you have to be to get married?

    Yetter: I don't know, I don't remember whether a girl had to be 18 and the boy 21. Seems like the girl had to be 18 and the boy 21. I was married on my nineteenth birthday, but my husband was 24 and I told him he shoulda' had better sense. [laughter]

    Wagner: I have to go down my list again. O.K., where did you get baby diapers?

    Yetter: You bought the material by the yard and you cut them off and hemmed them yourself.

    Wagner: Now,this follows the marriage question, you understand, the baby things? Uh-huh. Because you said the babies followed shortly after.

    Yetter: Were babies nursed or bottle fed? Most of them were nursed.

    Wagner: Now, those who had to go on formula, where did you get the baby formula?

    Yetter: Well, I think the only bottle babies that I knew used condensed milk. There was about two brands, Borden's brand and Peninsula brand, condensed milk in cans and it was thick and sweet and you used a spoonful of that to a pint of water or something. I don't know how much they used. I never used it. I nursed both my children.

    Wagner: And you could buy this at?

    Yetter: At the grocery store. At the grocery store you bought them.

    Wagner: We talked about peddlers and salesmen. Coal man. Do you remember coal deliveries? Where did the -

    Yetter: Yes.

    Wagner: Well - Where did you store the coal?

    Yetter: We had coal bins right outside the - well, not far from the kitchen. Maybe it was right on the outside of your fence. Well, when the coal man delivered, he'd just lift the lid and shoot it right into that.

    Wagner: Did he leave a bill? How did you pay for it?

    Yetter: Well, they usually brought the bill with them and you paid them cash or else they would mail you one and you paid for it when you got your money. Whenever you got enough money to pay for it.

    Wagner: In the book?

    Yetter: Yes, in the book.

    Wagner: Now, we've talked about the ice man. What about the fish peddler? Do you recall seafood?

    Yetter: Well, in the spring of the year, they used to come up with shad and herring. But that would only be like around the Easter holidays or during Lent, I imagine it would have been. We used to get fish that time of the year.

    Wagner: We talked about the fruit peddler coming around. How about scissors grinders?

    Yetter: Well, there would be one of them come around maybe once a year. And an umbrella man would come around about once a year. Mend the umbrellas.

    Wagner: I never heard of that.

    Yetter: Didn't you? You know how one of the wires would come off or break? Well, there used to be somebody would come around - tramps we called them, or bums - they would want to earn ten or 15 cents. And they would come around and they would have some old umbrellas with them and take the part out of that and put it on yours and charge you ten or 15 cents.
  • Hair curling; hair color; hair styling
    Keywords: "blue ointment"; curling irons; hair "rats; hair dye; hair styling; head lice; kerosene
    Transcript: Wagner: We talked about newspapers. Do you recall magazines?

    Yetter: No. I don't remember getting magazines.

    Wagner: O.K. We talked about hair cutting. What about hair curling?

    Yetter: Oh, just somebody in the neighborhood had a curling iron and you'd stick it in the hot stove and get it hot and [Laughter].

    Wagner: Curling papers?

    Yetter: Well, yes, they would take newspapers or paper bags and twist them and put peoples' hair up in curls. They used to make a sugar and water solution. We didn't have dips like they do today.

    Wagner: I was going to ask about permanents. Well, there was no permanents then. No.

    Wagner: Dye?

    Yetter: Well, later years I imagine they did. But years ago, if your hair turned gray, you just stayed gray. And they expected you to be gray when you got older. [Laughter]. And mine is getting there now, do you see it? They all kid me about my hair. My daughter-in-law - her hair would be snow white. Have you got that hooked up?

    Wagner: I've got that hooked up. It's all right.

    Yetter: She'll say to everybody, "Well, Mother Yetter's hair is just beginning to turn gray and she's never had a rinse in her whole life. And my daughter-in-law's hair is kinda red and I think it would be snow white if she didn't go to the beauty shop every two weeks.

    Wagner: Your hair is remarkable for your age. You hardly have gray in it.

    Yetter: Well, it's getting pretty gray now. [Laughter].

    Wagner: Were there any fancy hair styles in style? Did the women have any?

    Yetter: The women wore what they called rats in their hair. Yes, there was some sort of twisted thing they would put their hair up over it. And tuck it in under to make it like a pompadour, I think they used to call it. I remember my mother putting that in her hair and pulling her hair up over it and made a pompadour.

    Wagner: Did they ever have any trouble - we've talked about epidemics - how about head lice and things like that?

    Yetter: Oh, when they were - yes - the children were always getting - and every once in awhile there would be an epidemic of lice in the children. Because I can remember my mother getting something she called blue ointment to put on our heads so we wouldn't get them. And when she would wash her hair sometimes she would put a drop of coal oil - kerosene - in the water to wash her hair. I remember that when I was little, her putting that in. But there would be - lots of children would have an awful lot of lice in their heads. But I think people - I don't know whether they had - the tell me now that the boys have lice in their head, not the girls.

    Wagner: Well, the boys have long hair.

    Yetter: They really do and they don't take as good care of it as the girls.

    Wagner: You don't remember anything like your mother fine-tooth combing to get rid of the nits?

    Yetter: No, I don't remember but I know she put something in the water to wash my hair.

    Wagner: You don't remember what was in the blue ointment?

    Yetter: No, I don't remember what it was.
  • Home furnishings; ghost stories; doll babies; Valentine's day; meeting her husband; courting her husband; memories of Brandywine Springs Amusement Park
    Keywords: Amusements parks; Brandywine Springs Amusement park; Christmas; dolls; ghost stories; home furnishings; Irish parties; Rising Sun line; Shellpot Park; Street-railroads; Valentine's day
    Transcript: Wagner: Do you remember the main object in the kitchen - that would be the stove?

    Yetter: The cook stove, hm, hm.

    Wagner: What about the living room?

    Yetter: Well, our cook stoves and kitchens and all were living room and all together. We didn't have very many rooms, you know.

    Wagner: You did have a parlor.

    Yetter: Well, some people did. If you had two rooms, you had a parlor and a kitchen. And your dining room was in the kitchen, too, your big dining room table. Uh-huh.

    Wagner: How about ghost stories? Do you remember anything?

    Yetter: Oh, my grandmother always could keep us amused. In the evenings by telling us a ghost story. [Laughter].

    Wagner: Did she scare you or just entertain you?

    Yetter: Well, I think she was entertaining us. But, I guess maybe we were half believing her - what she was telling us.

    Wagner: Do you recall any ghosts around the powder yards?

    Yetter: No. I've heard people talk about them but I haven't seen any myself. [Laughter].

    Wagner: As a child, what was your most cherished possession?

    Yetter: Doll babies.

    Wagner: Where did you get the doll babies?

    Yetter: Well, I guess I got one every Christmas. Some sort of a one. And the Christmas after my father died an uncle of mine gave my sister and I both a large German doll and it was a beautiful thing. And I had it up until maybe ten years ago and it was in a storage box. And my husband had the gas station torn down and he told the men to burn everything up in there. And I had a box of my daughter's dolls there and my doll baby in there. And they threw it out and when I asked one of the men that was doing it - I said, "Did you take that box of dolls home?" because I knew he had several children. And he said, "No, they were burned up." And I still didn't believe him. And the next day I went out back where they burned the rubbish and I took a stick and started fooling around and I found the doll's cheek with the dimple in it of my doll. [Laughter] I was really heartbroken. I said to my husband, "I'll never forgive you as long as I live." So, I guess he died without my forgiving him for burning my dolls and all my daughter's dolls was in that some box.

    Wagner: Now where did you meet your husband?

    Yetter: At Bess Beacom's house. At a Valentine party. And he - my husband years later said he got a Valentine and I was the comic Valentine he got. That's what he used to tease me and tell me that I was the funny Valentine that he got. [Laughter].

    Wagner: This was at a Valentine party?

    Yetter: Yes. The Beacoms, I tell you always had open house, you know, and they had a lot of parties at their house. And we went there and had a lot of fun. This happened to be a party at their house this night, and that's when I met my husband.

    Wagner: How long did you court before you were married?

    Yetter: About two years.

    Wagner: What did you do when you were courting?

    Yetter: Well, we went to theaters and things like that. And he didn't like to dance. I liked to dance, but he didn't like to dance so we didn't go to many dances. But they had what they used to call Irish parties. Some of the old up-the-crickers would get together and we had moved into the city at the time - or I had. And these different ones from up the crick would have parties at their house. And we were always invited to those. So, I would go with Hammy Beacom, and dance with Beacom and come home with Bill Yetter. [Laughter]. I used to kid him and I said, "Well, anyhow, I went with Hammy," because I never thought of Hamilton Beacom being a boyfriend or anything. He was just like a brother. And we would run around a lot together, but you just thought of him as being a brother. You never thought of him as a boyfriend or anything. And then he married some girl from way out West. [Laughter]. And he ran around all his life with all we girls. So, it's funny how the years change.

    Wagner: Do you recall going to any amusement parks or anything?

    Yetter: Yes, Brandywine Springs. Of course, you wouldn't remember that, but that was a beautiful park. And it had every kind of amusement out there. And the people's line which put Rising Sun line up the crick, they had a line out to Brandywine Springs and you could go out there for - oh, I guess the tickets - I said six for a quarter, and you could get a transfer to the Brandywine Springs car and change at 7th and Woodlawn Avenue, and get the car out to Brandywine Springs so it didn't cost you much to go out there. And, they had everything out in that park. Carousels and scenic railways and things and beautiful shrubbery around and it was sort of in a valley - you know - down - and up the sides they had little houses like with roofs over them and tables and benches in there where people could take picnics. And there used to be trains come down from Philadelphia. Maybe five or six trains for a picnic from Philadelphia. Sunday Schools and things would come down to this park. It was everything imaginable out there, and beautiful. And then there was Shellpot Park, too, but that was a smaller park. That was out Market Street at the foot of Penny Hill. Where Penny Hill is now. But they didn't have too many amusements there. They had - they used to have orchestras and dance there, and things like that. They had a carousel and a few things like that. But Brandywine Springs was one of the main attractions. It was a beautiful place. So, if you had ten cents, you could ride out to Brandywine Springs on a Sunday for a day -- an afternoon outing when you were growing up.
  • Eloping in Elkton, Maryland; learning how to become a dressmaker; sewing from home
    Keywords: dressmaking; Dupont Street, Wilmington, Delaware; Elkton, Maryland; learning a trade; marriage; Mrs. Charles Miles; Squirrel Run
    Transcript: Wagner: Do you want to take a quick look - let me stop this a minute.

    Yetter: Elkton and got married, yeah.

    Wagner: You ran away and got married?

    Yetter: Yeah. I remember Pierre Gentieu - that picture. He was a photographer, right? I don't remember what he did. He lived back in the - not far up from Mrs. Copeland's house. Had a very pretty place. Maybe it was once a little farm house back in there. He lived there for years. Up the crick. And that was the covered bridge when I was growing up which is an open bridge now.

    Wagner: Do you remember the Experimental Station coming in?

    Yetter: Um-hmm. Well, I don't know that I remember the beginning but it was supposed to be smokeless powder when they opened that up there and it just ran along the stream and wasn't very large when they first opened it. So, that's where I used to skate down as far as the dam here. [Laughter].

    Wagner: So, you ran off and got married. Did your parents object?

    Yetter: Well, -

    Wagner: What did they say when you came home?

    Yetter: It was too late. So, I had a stepfather and he was home when I came and I showed my mother my wedding ring and she looked at me and she said, "Why that's a wedding ring!" I said, "Yes." She said, "Are you married?” I said, "Yes." And my stepfather said, "Well, I hope all your troubles will be little ones." [Laughter]. So that's what he said to me. So, they didn't get mad at me.

    Wagner: Well, you had a house to go to.

    Yetter: We had our house furnished in the same block as my mother. And my mother didn't know it.

    Wagner: How did she not know it?

    Yetter: Well, Bill's sister - I didn't go around the house and Bill's sister went up with a colored woman and cleaned the house, had the furniture delivered and she had dinner ready when we came home that night - his sister. And we went up to my mother's first and said "Come on and see our house." And we were at 1810 and she was at 1824. And she didn't even know who was moving into the house. And my husband - I went to the milliner - Have you got that shut off?

    Wagner: How many grades did you complete?

    Yetter: Eight - eighth grade. And then they only had three years of high school, but I didn't go to high school because I quit and went to work to learn my trade.

    Wagner: Which was?

    Yetter: Dressmaking.

    Wagner: Where were you an apprentice? Who taught you?

    Yetter: With Mrs. Charles Miles. She was on duPont Street. And she took one girl at a time to learn and she had another girl who was finished that worked there. And you worked six months for nothing. And you worked from eight o'clock in the morning until six at night. And you worked Saturday until four o'clock. And I began to want Saturday afternoon because I couldn't get weaned away from Squirrel Run and I said, "Well, can't we cut our lunch hour short?” And pile up a half-hour each day and get off earlier on Saturday. So, I worked it out that way [Laughter]. To get off so that I could get up to Granny's. I wanted to get back to my grandmother. So that's the way we worked that out. But we worked six whole months and we never got a nickel for doing that. And they were long days you worked, too.

    Wagner: Where did you stay in town?

    Yetter: Well, my mother had gotten married and she lived on duPont Street which was only about two squares from where I was working. Because my sister had gone to live with my mother and I had stayed with my grand- mother. Well, of course, I was going to school at the time and I - my sister was in high school and she was allowed to go back to du Pont School on account of being in high school. And, I guess she was a senior then, but I would have had to give up school and gone - if I moved to town, I would have had to go to city school, so I still stayed with my grandmother until I - until they finally found this woman that wanted to have an apprentice. And an aunt of mine knew her, so when she got me in as an apprentice there, I left school. And, of course, by September, I would have loved to have gone back.

    Wagner: Was she a good teacher? Obviously she was.

    Yetter: Oh, yes. She was an excellent teacher. Excellent.

    Wagner: The sewing was hand sewing, was it not?

    Yetter: Yes. Of course, we had sewing machines, but I mean she taught you how to cut things out, to fit and do everything all the way through. Now, I had some other friends that went to learn dressmaking but they didn't get a chance to fit people. Or to cut into the material, but she taught us everything.

    Wagner: Did you continue dressmaking after you were married?

    Yetter: No. I continued sewing, but my husband wouldn't let me go out. I was booked up for over a year. [Laughter]. And he wouldn't let me go. So, I had to call them up and tell them that I couldn't come back because my husband didn't want me to go out sewing and one of the women said, "Well, if you won't come to me, I'll come to you." [Laughter]. So, she came with a big chip basket full of clothes for me to...
  • More on sewing at home; running a business with her husband
    Keywords: Bancroft's Mills, Wilmington, Delaware; Claymont, Delaware; Dover, Delaware; Kentmere, Wilmington Delaware; Park Drive, Wilmington, Delaware; Riddle Avenue, Wilmington Delaware; Riddle Mansion; Riddle's Chapel; Scott Street, Wilmington, Delaware; Silver Lake, Delaware; Yetters Restaurant
    Transcript: Wagner: And it was all right for you to sew at home?

    Yetter: It was all right for me to sew at home, but he wouldn't have me - he didn't want me - he said "You got married; you didn't get married to go to work." But then, it wasn't long after that, he was in business - in the grocery business with another fellow and then he decided he would like to go on his own. So, he sold his part out and he got a store down on Riddle Avenue. Do you know where Riddle Avenue is? There used to be a place called Riddle's Chapel. It would be north of Scott Street across Park Drive. Bancroft's lower mills. You know where Bancroft mills are on the lower end of Kentmere. Well, the old Riddle Mansion they turned it into two apartments and we rented the second floor apartment and we had the grocery store downstairs. And we were there for, I think 19 years, and then my husband bought the place in Claymont. It was a liquor store - saloon and restaurant. So, we built it up but now it's just a liquor package store. But I got out of the business in '79, I guess. I turned the business over to my son. I run it for 27 years after my husband died.

    Wagner: Was it called Yetter's?

    Yetter: Yetter's - Yetter's Restaurant. I always say Yetter's Restaurant because I was interested in the restaurant. I never liked the liquor business, but when we came up there, so many people owed us money in the grocery business that never paid us, he said, "I'll never be in business again where I have to use a book." "Whenever they buy, they are going to pay for it when they take it. I'm never going to give anybody credit again." So, that's when he wanted the liquor store and the restaurant because people paid for the things when they got them. And it wasn't so big at the time but we have remodeled and changed it around and after I turned the business over the Billy, he changed it. He gave up the restaurant because they were losing money there.

    Wagner: Now, how many children have you?

    Yetter: Two.

    Wagner: One boy and one girl?

    Yetter: One boy and one girl.

    Wagner: Is your daughter close by?

    Yetter: She's in Dover. Well - as of today, she's outside the city, but she just bought a new home on Silver Lake and she's going to move Saturday into the new home. She bought a what do you call them - a town house. She just retired. She was in charge of the school cafeterias in Dover - the Capital District. She served 6500 meals a day. Can you imagine?

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