Interview with Catherine Hackendorn Sheldrick, 1984 February 28 [audio]
- Early life and family origins; Home and household chores;Keywords: Calmar, France; Chester Heights, Pa.; Colamar, France; County Clair, Ireland; Elgin, Il.; Henry Clay (Del.:Village); Homes; Household chores; Ivy Mills, Pa.; Kitchens; Oil lampsTranscript: Bennett: First, if you will give me your name and would you mind spelling it for me, please.
Sheldrick: C-a-t-h-e-r-i-n-e S-h-e-l-d-r-i-c-k.
Bennett: And your address?
Sheldrick: 2126 Linden.
Bennett: That's in Wilmington?
Bennett: Your age?
Sheldrick: Ah, 82 as of last October.
Bennett: And your telephone number, Mrs. Sheldrick.
Bennett: Would you tell me which village you lived in?
Sheldrick: In Henry Clay.
Bennett: Henry Clay. Ah. When did you live there?
Sheldrick: I lived there -- I was born there, and I moved in 19 -- My family moved in 1924.
Bennett: And you moved then with your family to --
Sheldrick: Yes. Mmm-hmm.
Bennett: Would you tell me where your house was and if you remember the street name and the address?
Sheldrick: Well, it was Main Street and our address was 8 Main Street. Henry Clay.
Bennett: And would you give me your father's name, please?
Bennett: Samuel --
Sheldrick: Samuel Hackendorn.
Bennett: Hackendorn. And what was his place of birth?
Sheldrick: Uh -- France. He was born in France. I can't think of the name. I have it written down on a piece of paper.
Bennett: Do you remember the name of the town where he was born?
Sheldrick: Calmar, France. [possibly Colmar, France]
Bennett: Can you spell it for me?
Sheldrick: C-a-l-m-a-r. [possibly Colmar, France]
Bennett: Do you know his date of birth?
Sheldrick: Uh. May 10, 1872.
Bennett: And your mother's name.
Sheldrick: Jenny Lawless. That's L-a-w-l-e-s-s.
Bennett: And her place of birth?
Sheldrick: Uh. Malbir. It's the -- That thing's running all this time, too.
Bennett: That's all right.
Sheldrick: It's called Chester Heights now. It was Ivy Mills then And they changed it after that to Ivy Mills.
Bennett: And her date of birth?
Sheldrick: March 7, 1870.
Bennett: Did you have any brothers and sisters?
Sheldrick: I had four brothers and two sisters.
Bennett: Would you name them for me -- and the oldest first.
Sheldrick: Uh -- Alfred, John. And -- Myself, Catherine, Aloysius, Mary -- Uh Mary, Frances, and Eleanor.
Bennett: Do you know their dates of birth?
Sheldrick: Not right off, I don't, no.
Bennett: And were they all born --
Sheldrick: They were all born in Henry Clay -- mmm-hmm.
Bennett: How about your grandfather's name?
Sheldrick: My grandfather was Joseph Hackendorn and he was born in this Calmar, France [possibly Colmar, France]. And my grandfather Lawless was Thomas Lawless and he was born in Elgin, Illinois.
Bennett: Any of those men work at the Brandywine? Did they work at the mills?
Sheldrick: Both of them.
Bennett: Yes. Do you know their dates of birth?
Sheldrick: No. I have no idea.
Bennett: How about your grandmothers?
Sheldrick: I don't know -- I couldn't. My grandmother Lawless was born in County Clair, Ireland, and -- but I wouldn't know her date of birth or how old she was when she died. Nor my grandmother. My grandmother Hackendorn was born in Alsace Lorraine. To my knowledge.
Bennett: And you don't know the dates of birth. Let me see. Do you know any other people who might be available for an interview like we are doing today?
Sheldrick: Not now. Laughter.
Bennett: Now your one sister-in-law. Does she?
Sheldrick: She doesn't. No. No. Sarah was born in Wilmington.
Bennett: Her mother -- You said something about talking to Bill Hearn.
Sheldrick: Someone did, yes. Well see, he would be Sarah's brother. But when you ask Sarah about anything, she doesn't -- you know -- she doesn't remember. Course, she had no connection. She's much younger than I am.
Bennett: I see.
Sheldrick: And -- so that she has no knowledge -- being born and raised in Wilmington wouldn't have any connection at all other than even her grandmother I know had – and her grandfather were long gone when she was born.
Bennett: Mmm-Hmm. Uh -- Do you have any pictures or letters or newspaper clippings from those times?
Bennett: Not a thing, hm?
Bennett: All right. Let's talk first about your house that you lived in.
Sheldrick: The house that we lived in?
Sheldrick: The house we lived in. Our house was a double house. It was two houses. And it seems that the people next door had moved out and it was put into one house -- made into one house.
Bennett: How many rooms?
Sheldrick: We had four rooms downstairs and-- uh -- four bedrooms and I suppose -- I dont' know what -- we called it the morgue. The -- it was like a trunk room would be, you know. But my father had put a bar across and our winter things were put in there, you know – or vice versa. And we didn't use it as a bedroom.
Bennett: This was on the second floor?
Sheldrick: On the second floor. Then there was an attic over that.
Bennett: And what did you --Did you store things in the attic?
Sheldrick: No, we played up there.
Bennett: You had a playroom. That's nice. Can you describe the kitchen area. Can you describe what you remember?
Sheldrick: About the kitchen? Oh. Of course, I remember. It was quite a large room. I imagine -- well -- there were a big kitchen range in it and table and chairs and -- you know -- the regular kitchen furniture.
Bennett: Was the stove a coal or wood burning stove?
Sheldrick: Coal and wood burning.
Bennett: Uh. Did you have a summer kitchen?
Sheldrick: We never had a summer kitchen.
Bennett: Mmm-hmm. Uh.
Sheldrick: We had an oil stove -- You know -- A kerosene stove that we used for cooking in the summertime. Because it did not make so much heat. That would be the whole thing.
Bennett: And did you have a separate dining room?
Sheldrick: We had a separate dining room, yes.
Bennett: Did you use that for all your meals?
Sheldrick: Only breakfast. You know -- when we were all – which was lunch time or dinner time we ate in the dining room because there wouldn't be that many around the table.
Bennett: Mmm-hmm. Mmm-hmm. Uh. And how about the parlor?
Sheldrick: The parlor was the parlor. Then we had another little, smaller room. See, we had the two living rooms -- the house next door and our own living room. So we had the parlor as you say. Everybody had a parlor, you know.
Bennett: When was it used?
Sheldrick: Oh, it was used quite often, really. The wintertime there was a stove in there that we would put a fire in you know. But mostly in the evening you would sit in the kitchen or the dining room.
Bennett: Mmm-hmm. Uh -- would you tell me some of the chores that you had to do as a little girl?
Sheldrick: Well. The little -- From ever I can remember I had to set the table for dinner. And I had to keep the lamps filled and the wicks trimmed and the chimneys cleaned.
Bennett: And that was the job that --
Sheldrick: That was MY job, and that -- well, chimneys weren't -- wouldn't have to be cleaned every day -- you know. They wouldn't have to be filled every day, either, if according to how late you stayed up at night whether it needed oil the next day or not.
Bennett: And did you have any other chores other than those?
Sheldrick: That's all I can remember ever doing.
Bennett: I think you were kind of lucky. Did your sisters and brothers have other chores?
Sheldrick: Did they have other chores? The boys had the wood and the water. And the rest seemed to me to do anything my mother told them to do.
Bennett: You said something about coming in the door first.
Sheldrick: Whoever came in first -- You do this or you do that, you know. And now I'd like that done or – my mother was the most -- well -- soft spoken, you know -- really, Now Catherine -- That's the way she would talkto us. Now John.
Bennett: Uh -- You said --
- Doing chores for grandmother; Buying fruits and vegetables; Evening routine with familyKeywords: Amalgamated Leather Company; Canning; Christ Church Christiana Hundred (Wilmington, Del.); Evening routines; Family; Free Park (Del.:Village); Grandparents; Household chores; Kennett Square, PaTranscript: Sheldrick: And they also had to do these things for my grandmother- who lived next door to us. They would have to bring her water in -- and her wood -- and feed her chickens and do those kind of things for her. And sweep up the leaves in the fall and all that clean-up around.
Bennett: She was right next door? She lived right next door?
Sheldrick: She lived right next door to us and she came in pretty near every day and done all the mending and done all that. I think that's where we got the sewing business. She would be teaching us while she would be darning stockings and she could really do beautiful handwork, really.
Bennett: Did your sisters learn this as well as you? I know you said it's your hobby, but did your sisters --
Sheldrick: Oh -- yes -- yes. Mary was before -- Of course her eyes are not that good now. She has had cataract operations and uh she sews beautifully and knits beautifully.
Bennett: And this all came from the grandmother?
Sheldrick: This all came from BOTH grandmothers – grandmother Hackendorn -- she was a great knitter. She could knit beautifully. Uh -- I can't remember my grandmother Lawless -- only just on the sewing business -- you know.
Bennett: Which grandmother lived next door?
Sheldrick: Lawless -- my mother's mother.
Bennett: And where did your grandmother Hackendorn live?
Sheldrick: Up next to Christ Church. where they lived.
Bennett: Right up there -- that's Do you know the address up there? At the --
Sheldrick: I don't know -- It's Free Park. mum-hm. We always called it Free Park, but they say it's Flea Park. Now we never knew that it was Flea Park. I didn't know that for years after I had grown up that that's what they called it -- Flea Park.
Bennett: It makes me laugh.
Sheldrick: No wonder. They didn't. They said Flea Park.
Bennett: The boys -- their chores. You said they had to get the wood and water. Where was the water? How close by?
Sheldrick: Right at our back door. Right at the kitchen door.
Bennett: And that served how many houses?
Sheldrick: That served four houses.
Bennett: Where did the boys go for the wood?
Sheldrick: Where did they go? Over to the wood shed. The wood was put in the wood shed and then they had to go over and get the wood from the wood shed and -uh - bring it in the house and put it in the wood box behind the kitchen range. And the coal stubbles, they had to be filled from the summer, as we called it, and then they would be brought up and put behind the stove.
Bennett: I guess really what I meant -- Did you buy the wood or did they chop it down or --
Sheldrick: If a tree fell over, they would; otherwise they bought it.
Bennett: I see. How about the outbuildings? Did you have a shed?
Sheldrick: We had the wood shed. My father had a work shed that had a lathe over there and, you know. My father was a ship's carpenter by trade, and he done a lot of – he done all the repairing in the house and my grandmother'shouse and -- you know -- he was very good at it.
Bennett: What was his job at the Mill?
Sheldrick: He never worked for DuPont.
Bennett: Oh, he didn't?
Sheldrick: No. uh-uh. My father -- none of his brothers – my uncle -- uh -- Lees -- he worked at the Experimental Station for quite a few years. But he worked up in ballistics. None of them ever worked in the powder mills.
Bennett: So, what would you say your father -- did he do his carpentry for people? Is that --
Sheldrick: No -- He worked for Amalgamated Leather Company for years -- for fifty years he was with Amalgamated Leather Company.
Bennett: You said about the gardens. You had chickens?
Sheldrick: We never had chickens. Grandma had them.
Bennett: Did you have a garden?
Sheldrick: No -- no. Flowers. That would be -- We never had a vegetable garden until the First World War the victory gardens, you know, and we lived on the side of that hill and you couldn't grow grass on it-- it was -- you know -- if you’ re familiar along the Brandywine, the houses are built on the hill, you know.
Bennett: All right. Now, what did you -- did you have a root cellar?
Sheldrick: No -- no -- we never had a root cellar.
Bennett: What did you do -- keep in your basement?
Sheldrick: What did we keep in our basement? We kept the coal and my mother done a lot of canning -- that was all kept in the basement. Uh -- the potatoes were bought by the bushel -- 25 bushels of potatoes -- and my father had built a bin for those and then in the wintertime it was covered with a carpet to keep them from freezing, and then that was another thing – you had to bring those things up from the basement, you know -- and -- but, she canned everything -- tomatoes, pickles, fruits, jellies -- that was all done and stored in the cellar.
Bennett: Where did she get the fruits and vegetables?
Sheldrick: She bought it from the farmer that would come around. Mr. Cloud, his name was. And he was a Quaker – a nice old man. And then when you bought the potatoes, he gave you a bushel of apples. Wouldn't you love that? Can you imagine these days getting a bushel of apples given to you?
Bennett: No. Not even a baker's dozen.
Sheldrick: No.--No -- No, you got a bushel of apples and then the fruit in season, like peaches, and - uh-the peaches -- I guess the peaches and the apples -- crab apples for jelly he would bring down. But he lived up around Kennett Square someplace and came down by horse and wagon.
Bennett: How often?
Sheldrick: Oh, not too often, you know. Maybe two or maybe twice a month.
Bennett: Uh -- What did you do with the garbage? Do you have any idea?
Sheldrick: Well -- that's what I say. My father would dig this great big pit -- really it was. He and the boys. Talk about the boys having the job, the boys never knew what their regular job was. And then he would cover it over, you know.
Bennett: What would he put in there?
Sheldrick: Potato peelings, coffee grounds. You know, as you would clean your vegetables, all that would be thrown in there.
Bennett: Mmm-hmm. How about - uh -- tin cans or --
Sheldrick: Tin cans -- very few tin cans. Very few canned things that we ever had.
Bennett: Or broken glass. Would that go in there?
Sheldrick: That would go in there. Yes. Yes. Yes.
Bennett: How about fish heads?
Sheldrick: Fish heads and the insides of the fishes and all -- they were all saved and put in one place and every once in a-while he would throw dirt in on top of that, you know, then more, then turned it over and he put that around the rose bushes and -- uh, uh -- anything else that he would plant. Sweet peas would go in before St. Patrick's Day.
Bennett: Was that a tradition?
Sheldrick: Well, I don't know whether it was a tradition or whether that was when sweet peas should be planted. But they had to be planted before St. Patrick's Day in order to have them for maybe the latter part -- sometime in May, June. Didn't you ever hear that before?
Bennett: I've heard it about potatoes. I thought it was potatoes.
Sheldrick: No. Potatoes didn't go in until -- I remember my grandfather Hackendorn planting potatoes, but they wouldn't -- they would be ready to be dug around the fourth of July, so they evidently went in sometime around the latter part of April or May. Early part of May.
Bennett: Uh -- Did they always have a garden, then, when you said the potatoes --
Sheldrick: As long as I can remember.
Bennett: A big garden?
Sheldrick: A huge one. HUGE.
Bennett: And did they share the vegetables with you --?
Sheldrick: Oh, yes -- yes.
Bennett: Tell me -- O.K. -- I sort of lost my trend of thought, here. In the evening as a family, what would you do?
Sheldrick: Well, it was according to the time of year. You jumped rope and played jacks until dark. Then you came in and went to bed. In the summertime -that's what you did in the summertime. In the wintertime, of course, after the homework was done, why you played checkers, or dominoes or -- we used to play card games like cofina or something like that.
Bennett: All the brothers and sisters?
Sheldrick: All the brothers and sisters.
Bennett: And what was your mother and father doing at this time?
Bennett: Or sewing, maybe?
Sheldrick: The neighbors would come in. That's another thing they don't do any more. The neighbors don't come in in the evening, you know. They -- maybe – my mother never went out. She didn't have time to go out. She had to stay home and babysit. Uh -- But the women would come in, you know, and --uh-- talk and you'd finally get to bed. Everybody went to bed Very early. They got up very early in the morning. It wasn't anything to get up at five o'clock in the morning, so naturally you had to go to bed early. Or sewing.
Bennett: Did the younger children go to bed before the adults?
Sheldrick: Oh, dear, yes -- yes.
Bennett: And then the children before the parents?
Sheldrick: Oh, yes -- yes.
- Morning routine; Meals and eating; Grandmother's stories about growing up in Ireland; Sewing clothes and other household textiles;Keywords: Blankets; Breakfasts; Clothes; Handkerchiefs; Morning routines; Petticoats; Saint Joseph on the Brandywine Roman Catholic Church (Wilmington, Del.); Sewing; Towels; UnderclothesTranscript: Bennett: Would you tell me -- let's start in the morning – who got up first in your home?
Sheldrick: My mother got up first and went down and started the breakfast and then my father got us up and I don't think he didn't stay in there too long after her, you know, but she went down and got the breakfast. And we didn't always eat breakfast at the same time. Of course he went to work very early, you know, and then we'd get up and go to school. We didn't have to leave for school about eight o'clock -- a little after eight. We walked from along the Brandywine up to St. Joseph's.
Bennett: Did you have any chores that you had to do before breakfast?
Sheldrick: No, no.
Bennett: Did you make your bed?
Sheldrick: No, No, didn't make my bed. My mother made the beds; my mother and my grandmother. They made the beds.
Bennett: Did you have a closet for your clothes in your room or how did you store your clothes?
Sheldrick: We had this extra room that we hung things in, see, and then there were shelves in that room that we kept our, that my mother kept her sheets and pillow cases and towels and things on.
Bennett: What did you eat for breakfast, usually?
Sheldrick: Well, it's according to the, as the season of the year. My mother made -- eh -- we never had what you called ready-to-eat cereal. It was always set the night before -- like oatmeal or oh, corn meal, oatmeal, cream of wheat eh, I guess that was about as far as the cereal was concerned. We'd have applesauce or prunes -- a lot of dried fruit. You'd have dried apples and dried pears and of course that was bought at the grocery store, and toast --milk.
Bennett: Did the children eat together?
Sheldrick: Mostly -- always at dinner time. That was a must, you know, that you'd be in when dinner was ready -- but not always breakfast.
Bennett: That's understandable.
Sheldrick: What is it, please?
Bennett: I said, "I can see how you wouldn't necessarily be together for breakfast."
Bennett: You went to school.
Bennett: And then did you come for lunch or did you stay at school?
Sheldrick: Sometimes we came home for lunch -- very rarely we came home but the lunches were packed -- you know -- my mother would make us sandwiches and fruit and cookies and that kind of stuff. You never got a bought-- rarely, I should say, not never but rarely got bought bread. She made all the bread.
Bennett: Did she have a certain day that she made bread or did she make it when she needed it?
Sheldrick: She always made it on Saturday -- always baked on Saturday morning and maybe about Tuesday or Wednesday, maybe the early part of the week she would bake. She baked twice a week. Then she'd make biscuit -- spoon bread, we called it, you know, it was like, uh, she called it spoon bread herself. It was like a biscuit only it was all baked together.
Bennett: I like it. The sandwiches, what was in the sandwiches?
Sheldrick: Well -- ham and dried beef and cheese -- we didn't eat meat on Friday then -- and jelly -- didn't have peanut butter either. I don't remember peanut butter, you know, until I was quite grown up, and hard-boiled eggs. She'd make hard-boiled eggs, you know, and put--
Bennett: Well, we'll have to get back to the sandwiches. You said, "and hard-boiled eggs."Sheldrick: --Hard-boiled eggs -- and she would make a dressing, you know, a boiled dressing and put it on it and that was our sandwich. They were good.
Sheldrick: Good food, you know, nothing fancy but good food.
Bennett: When you got home from school, what did you do? Did you change your clothes?
Sheldrick: You changed your clothes and you put your play things on -- and usually your play things were gingham dresses, something like that, you know, or maybe school clothes that were still good enough to wear for play but theyweren't good enough to wear to school -- that type of thing.
Bennett: Then did you do your chores or did you go out and play for a while?
Sheldrick: No, I done my chores or if I didn't do them there were a whistle that blew at a quarter of five at the lower yard where we called it the Experimental Station then. It was not up on the hill; it was down along the Brandywine and the whistle blew at a quarter of five. So, when the whistle blew I had to go home and get this business ready for our dinner -- get thetable set and the lamps ready.
Bennett: And then you always ate dinner together?
Sheldrick: We always had our dinner together.
Bennett: Did you say grace before meals?
Sheldrick: Yes, we said grace before meals and I never could understand why we didn't say grace afterwards.
Bennett: Did you take turns saying grace or did your?
Sheldrick: No, no, we said it together. You blessed yourself and said your grace and that was it.
Bennett: Mm-hm. And then who cleaned up after dinner?
Sheldrick: Everybody. Everybody picked up the things and took them into the kitchen and then the dishes were washed and whoever was around would dry them and whoever was there would wash them, you know. I can't ever remember, you know, any fussing about it. If my grandmother came in -- which wasn't too often -- she would wash. My grandmother was quite an independent lady. She wouldn't, you know, she got her own dinner ready. See, she lived by herself. There were just my mother and her brother, then after my uncle was married why she lived by herself. And we used to go around there and stay with her in the evening. She went to bed every night religiously. So then we came around home. And you know it wasn't a question of whose turn is it? We just said, "I'll go in and stay with grandmom." And we went in and stayed with her; that's all there were to it and nobody said, "It's my turn or it's yourturn." We just done it.
Bennett: If you visited her in the evening, what would you do?
Sheldrick: I would read the paper to her. She had very poor eyesight. We would all read the paper to her, read the death notices. Then we'd talk. If she knew anybody that had died she'd talk about them, you know, and she'd tell me about when she was a little girl in Ireland and she'd tell me about holding the rush for her mother to sew.
Bennett: What is that?
Sheldrick: Rush would be a long taper -- like a weed, only it's stronger -- like a cattail weed, you know, and you would light that and it would burn like a match. And between the light of the fireplace and the light from this rush her mother could see to sew at night. Wouldn't you love that?
Sheldrick: But she used to tell us those kind of things, you know. I've never heard of that. No wonder the eyes were poor.
Bennett: Yes, listen, isn't it so? Is this the grandmother that taught you to sew?
Sheldrick: Yeah, Yeah.
Bennett: How old were you when she started teaching you; do you remember?
Sheldrick: I can't even remember not learning to sew. It just seems to me that I have been doing it so long that I can't remember when I started. You know, haven't you done things that you can't remember?
Bennett: You just knew how to do them.
Bennett: What did she tell you about sewing?
Sheldrick: Well, the nine stitches to the inch. And your sugar came in sugar bags then -- in muslin sugar bags -- and then they were all washed and bleached. Then you had to hem those for handkerchiefs. And when you turned the hem, then it had to be nine stitches to the inch and if it wasn't -- this was an inch.
Bennett: Would you tell me what that is?
Sheldrick: The top of your thumb was an inch -- when you bend your thumb, the top of it - from the nail to the knuckle - was an inch, and that had to be nine stitches. And she measured it. Then you ripped it out and I could never understand an old sugar bag having so much attention. That I never could understand. Isn't it funny, though, when you think of it?
Bennett: Unh-huh, You did the handkerchief - what else did you sew?
Sheldrick: Oh, the linen toweling came by the yard and you had to hem those. The unbleached muslin came by the yard and the unbleached muslin was made into pillow cases They had to be hemmed by hand. I don't know whether they had to be hemmed by hand or not, but they were. And bolster cases -- there's something went out with high-buttoned shoes.
Bennett: Well, I still have them.
Sheldrick: Do you really? Uh-huh, bolsters and things? I don't have any anymore. There were one on every bed.
Bennett: I like them.
Voice: Excuse me for interrupting but when you said they went out. They did go out.
Sheldrick: Yeah, yeah.
Bennett: What else did you do with the muslin?
Sheldrick: Made sheets, sheets and pillow cases and blanket covers.
Bennett: Underwear, what was used for underwear?
Sheldrick: I can remember my mother making -- what did she call that? Lawncloth. It was white -- l-a-w-n lawncloth and it was made into petticoats. It wasn't a slip then, you know. You wore a pantybody and your panties buttoned on to it and there had to be buttonholes put in-- and your panties was on a waistband and it buttoned onto your panties, you know, and the panties buttoned onto the pantybody. Then you put your petticoat on over that again.
Bennett: How did you hold up your stockings?
Sheldrick: Garters.They were made of elastic, you know, just a round garter.
Bennett: I see, mm-hm.
Sheldrick: You had black ones for black stockings and white ones for white stockings. And when you took them off you put one over here and you pulled the two of them together so they wouldn't get lost.
Bennett: Oh, -- I wish the tape recorder could see that.
Sheldrick: Yeah, you know you get a hold of this and this and just pull them together.
Sheldrick: Then they'd be together.
Bennett: And when you took your stockings off, you tied them together so they wouldn't get lost in the wash.
Bennett: Well, with all your brother sisters, how did you keep straight whose belonged to who?
Sheldrick: Oh, you knew your own things, you knew your own things.
Bennett: Stockings, yes. Until the boys were quite.....my mother... our boys wore white shirts and my mother could pick one up and no matter who it belonged to she could hand it to them. That's if I were ironing or anything she'd say, "That's John's shirt or I'd say, "Whose shirt is this, ma?" "That's Hack's." She knew them all.
Bennett: No little name on them?
Sheldrick: No, and then after I don't know how long, they all wore --well they were back in long pants, you know, wore the one size and she done all the shopping. And they were either black or brown and when the laundry wasput away so many pair was put away and, you know, they knew where to go get them.
Bennett: Was this like that shelf that you mentioned where each one had their own bin.
Sheldrick: They had their own chest of drawers. I'll show it to you. Just now the upstairs is a bit askew. I have mine upstairs. I have my grandmother's bed. I'm having some work done up there and I'm waiting for a carpenter to come. So...
Bennett: That waiting takes a long time.
Sheldrick: Yeah. He's going to get another call tonight.
- Family dinners; Bedtime and evening routines; Locking the door before going to bed; Weekend routines; visiting Wilmington, Del.; Ice skating on the Brandywine Creek;Keywords: Beds; Brandywine Creek; chores; Dinners; Evening routines; Family life; Fishing; Ice skating; Pajamas; Reynolds; Saturdays; Street railroads; Sundays; Wilmington, Del.Transcript: Bennett: Well it's not going to take long. When you were eating your dinner, did you all talk or was it a very quiet dinner?
Sheldrick: Oh, we all talked and chattered and everything else while we would be eating, Anything that would be going on during the day or anything that happened, you know, we would be talking about it and if anybody heard a joke they told it.
Bennett: So your dinner was a happy and a social time.
Sheldrick: I can't remember our dinner being anything else but happy, because my father was a sticker on it was the only time of the day when you were all together and he insisted on it, you know It would be…
Bennett: Did he question you as to like what you did in school; did he keep up with your school work?
Sheldrick: Oh, yes, he'd ask you what was going on, you know, and how things were going.
Bennett: Then did you do your homework?
Sheldrick: Then we done our homework after the dishes were done, you know. We ate early. We'd have our dinner -- our dinner would be over before 6 o'clock.
Bennett: And about how long did you spend on homework?
Sheldrick: Oh, about a couple of hours, according to how much we had. The lessons would be funny. I can remember my mother hearing Eleanor's spelling, you know, and the word was spoon. I can see my mother yet. She said, "Spooon" and Eleanor said, "Spe-oonT” . Such laughter, We tease her about that yet.
Bennett: That's cute. Well. And then the younger children went to bed before the --
Sheldrick: More or less, yes, yes. But we all -- everybody went. My mother and father -- everybody went to bed -- everybody in the neighborhood went to bed early. You know after -- after you're old enough to go in town tothe movies, and you know, things like that – starting to go around with boys and things, well then that was another--
Bennett: Saturday night.
Sheldrick: Yes, that was another milestone.
Bennett: Did your sisters -- Did you all sleep in the same bedroom?
Sheldrick: We -- the three of us slept in the one bedroom -- yes. It was quite a large room. We each had our own bed.
Bennett: And your own dresser?
Sheldrick: That was quite a large room. It was really the largest room. And then the boys shared the other rooms -- the other two rooms. My father and mother --
Bennett: Did they have -- the boys have separate beds as well?
Sheldrick: No. John and Hack slept together. The other two slept by themselves.
Bennett: Did they -- the boys wear nightshirts or what did --what did you sleep in?
Sheldrick: The girls had nightgowns. The boys had -- I don't know what you would call them -- something. It was just a straight up and down thing they put on.
Bennett: Like a nightshirt.
Sheldrick: It was -- well -- shorter than a nightshirt -- you know.
Bennett: Half way?
Bennett: O.K. I know where they slept. What did – before you went to bed, was there like a routine -- did you
Sheldrick: Before -- My mother would say, "It's bedtime." Well very often we would have milk and cookies or maybe lemonade or, you know. She made root beer and we would have root beer, but that would be it.
Bennett: Did you lock the door?
Sheldrick: NEVER: NEVER! NEVER LOCKED THE DOOR. Never locked the door --didn't know what a key was, hardly.
Bennett: Did everybody kiss everybody goodnight or --
Sheldrick: Sometimes, according to who was mad at who. We kissed our father and mother goodnight, you know. But that was it.
Bennett: How about an alarm clock -- did you?
Sheldrick: Yes we had an alarm clock -- Big Ben.
Bennett: Where was that in your?
Sheldrick: In my father's room. My father had charge of the alarm clock. Unless somebody. Well, even if somebody had to get up earlier than he, you know, then later years John would get up very early to go play golf. My father was a great fisherman and he would get up early to go fishing or something like that. The alarm would be set very early.
Bennett: Was Saturday or Sunday -- was it different in a routine?
Sheldrick: Oh, dear, yes! Yes! Sunday -- different than -- , Saturday -- Yes, quite.
Bennett: Tell me about Saturday.
Sheldrick: Saturday -- My father worked half-a-day. And the boys when they went to work -- we had our dinner in the middle of the day. Bread was baked. Then in the afternoon -- on Saturday afternoon you got dressed and – All dressed up and went to town on the trolley car, yet. And then you went shopping -- if you needed shoes, the shoes were bought on Saturday. And then as we grew older we went by ourselves -- to the movies and, you know, things like that. And many, many Saturday afternoons you would go along and you would pick up a girl here and a girl there and up Rising Sun Hill and you walked into town -- into Market Street. And we went to the movies, and after the movies, we went to Reynolds and had ice cream. Oh that was quite the thing, you know. And then very often we walked home and the carfare was a nickel. It was a lot of money then. Yes. Yes. You got -- Maybe you would get a quarter. Some Saturdays you would get a quarter. That was, you know. And some, maybe, well – some Saturdays you would get only 15 cents. I guess it was according to how much change was in the house.
Bennett: It was not an allowance?
Sheldrick: Never an allowance -- Never. No. to give me extra. I don't why because -- I don't know why. They all accused me of being her favorite. I don't know whether -- I can't see that I was. I thought she was very fair with all of us. But, they always said that I was her favorite. And I never knew that she played favorites -- I don't know. But I do know this -- that my older brother loved my mother more than any of the rest of us. It was evident in all of his actions; he adored her. He adored her. And you know, he would do things he didn't have to do for her. Even after he got married. My grandmother used Just some people sometimes.
Bennett: Was she aware of this?
Sheldrick: Well if she wasn't, we didn't know it. didn't know it. was evident. But she HAD to be aware of it. It It was very evident.
Bennett: How about then -- when you came home, you've had your ice cream -- would you have a light supper?
Sheldrick: Yes. Yes. We always had steak on Saturday night and everybody came in and waited on themselves, you know. That is as we got older.
Bennett: You mean you would make your own?
Sheldrick: We would make our own. My father and mother would go into town. They may go to the movies, you know, or maybe she would go Shopping for things for the house or something like that -- the two of them.
Bennett: Did you normally as a younger child as well as older stay up later on Saturday night?
Sheldrick: No. No. Because we got up to go to mass on Sunday morning.
Bennett: Now tell me about Sunday.
Sheldrick: Oh, Sunday was a red-letter day. My mother's relatives would come and my father's relatives would come and they would very, very often stay for dinner with us, you know. We always had a great big dinner in the middle of the -- well maybe around two o'clock, you know there would be a thing and then we would have some kind of -- you know. It was just a big dinner -- a big roast and -- you know -- a lot of food, really. And these cousins of my mother's would come out. My grandmother would come in and her brother would come with his little girl. He only had the one -- they only had the one child. And they would stay. We had a nice time. It was fun. Make ice cream. All that business, you know.
Bennett: Did you go to mass together? Or did you go separately?
Sheldrick: When we were young, we all went together, but then after we got going out, you know, we would go to different masses.
Bennett: Was it still your job to set the table?
Sheldrick: It was always my job to set the table! Always! I can remember one day we were -- my father and I were going skating. And I had to set the table. I said, "Pa, I'll set the table and I'll meet you down on the creek." We skated on the creek, you know. Ice skating. And I just about got the table set when my father came in. He had fallen through the ice. Oh, he could skate. I mean he could skate! And then later on, you know, we went up to -- you know where Hoopes' Dam is now -- that was Coleman's Lake at the time. Coleman du Pont lived up there. We went to Coleman's Lake to skate and the girls come from town to skate on the Brandywine. That's what she never could get that into her head.
Bennett: Did you have a good reason?
Sheldrick: I would think so. Why do you think? Oh, no it wasn't the scenery; it was the boys. Oh, my. The boys, you know the boys in the neighborhood they were, you know. They were nice boys, I mean, some very, very nice boys. But, the grass is always greener in the other fellow's yard.
Bennett: That's the truth. I've heard and I've read that the boys would fight boys --
Sheldrick: Any boys who came out of town they would fight, yes. They didn't want -- they just didn't want anybody moving in on them, you know.
Bennett: Protect their own girls?
Sheldrick: Protect their own girls.
Bennett: Now, how about when you gals would go up to skate somewhere else. Was there any --
Sheldrick: Sometimes the boys from along the Creek would go with us. Maybe that's why they went. I don't know. It never dawned on me until just now. But they did fuss and you know -- my brothers were -- the oldest one was very protective of us girl so You better not bring anybody around that -- you know.
Bennett: He's the one that was protective of your mother?
Bennett: He just happened to be of that nature, I suppose.
Sheldrick: I think -- yes -- and the poor guy, he's in bad shape now. But that's another story.
Bennett: On Sunday, then, you usually spent it -- the family came out. Did you ever go and visit your relatives rather than you having them at your house?
Sheldrick: Very rarely on Sunday. My grandmother and mother would occasionally. But if my grandmother -- when I was a little girl, and even after -- if we had a holiday at school, my grandmother would take me in, you know, like during the week to their place. You know -- to cousins and -- she had first cousins, you know that came -- that would be her uncle's children that came to this country and she would go visit them and they would come -- and their families would come to our place. But they always seemed to come to see grandma and then they ended up in our house. Of course, we lived right next door to each other, you know, but I can understand why because when grandma lived by herself, well, why not come in, you know.
- Father's activities outside of work; World War One; Holidays and Christmas trditions; Buying gifts for mother and father;Keywords: Christmas; Christmas Eve; Fishing; Gift-giving Perfumes; Hagley Yard; Leisure; Sewing; Traditions; World War OneTranscript: Bennett: Did your father belong to any organizations where he might go?
Sheldrick: He never had time. He went fishing a lot, you know.
Bennett: Where did he go fishing?
Sheldrick: Oh, he went to all the lakes around -- down at Townsend -- down as far as Smyrna. Oh, I don't know -- down at the Delaware and Chesapeake Canal. He would go down there by train -- take us sometimes -- take the boys.
Bennett: How would he keep the fish?
Sheldrick: He had a big -- well it was galvanized tin, I guess, and it was what he called the mini-bucket. And he would put water in that and put the fish in that. And then -- or he would clean the fish as he caught them and put them in that. And bring them home and put them in the ice box.
Bennett: Did he hunt, as well?
Bennett: Did he go hunting, as well?
Sheldrick: No. No.
Bennett: He didn't like that.
Sheldrick: No. He never -- I don't know whether he liked it or not, but he never did it.
Bennett: Did your mother belong to any sewing circles or ladies' organizations?
Sheldrick: No. But during the First World War, she used to go down to Hagley -- you know -- to Hagley -- to Breck's Mill and she would knit and sew. All the women around did that. But as far as -- you know -- going out without my father -- anytime they went to go out, they went out together.
Bennett: From church, did you have any organizations that the children might have other than like Sunday school or church -- was there any organizations?
Sheldrick: No. No. No.
Bennett: Let's talk about holidays and Christmas.
Sheldrick: Oh, Christmas. Wasn't it wonderful.
Bennett: I'd like to hear your Christmases on the Brandywine.
Sheldrick: Well. I don't know. Along the Brandywine there was an awful lot of visiting done. You know the neighbors would come in and, of course, we had our tree and, you know, never too many -- never that I can remember did we have guests on Christmas; it was always just our family and my grandmother and, but, the different friends of ours, you know, would come in during the day. And Christmas Evening, and you know, they would come in. But you know, as far as my mother going out, she never seemed to want to. I guess she was happy to stay in her home, you know.
Bennett: Did you have a turkey, for instance?
Sheldrick: We always had turkey. We always had turkey and everything that went with it -- and corn bread and why we would have corn bread for Christmas dinner, I don't know. And then Christmas night, you know later on at night, we had turkey sandwiches and cranberries and we always had gelatine as of Knox' gelatine with lemon juice, orange juice and white grapes. Every Christmas we had that.
Bennett: Where did she get the white grapes?
Sheldrick: She would go to market and get them in town.
Bennett: O.K. The white grapes.
Sheldrick: You know -- like we get now.
Bennett: This was Christmas night?
Sheldrick: Christmas night.
Bennett: How about Christmas Eve?
Sheldrick: Christmas Eve -- nothing very -- well, you went to confession on Christmas Eve and after your dinner, you know, and then you came home -- well the tree was never trimmed until Christmas Eve. NEVER trimmed a Christmas tree before Christmas Eve.
Bennett: Who trimmed the tree?
Sheldrick: Well, after we all stopped believing in Santa Claus, we all did. But, up until that time, the tree was never put up until we all went to bed when we all believed in Santa Clause. We never saw the Christmas tree until Christmas morning.
Bennett: I like it that way.
Sheldrick: Uh-huh. You never saw the Christmas tree. And we had a yard around it, you know. You don't see those anymore, either. There would be a yard around it on the floor and there would be like dirt, you know, andwalks with beans for the walks and mirrors, lakes, you know and I guess they were cellophane -- couldn't have been cellophane -- or whatever they were – it was some kind of plastic of some kind -- like swans floating on the lake.
Bennett: Maybe they were wood.
Sheldrick: No. They weren't. They may have been chalk.
Bennett: They couldn't have been plastic.
Sheldrick: No. They were like egg shells -- that consistency -- and then there were little dogs. And my mother gave all those things to my brother -- the first grandchild got all those things; the rest of us got nothing -- Nothing. Nothing.
Bennett: Did you have little houses?
Sheldrick: We had little houses and then later years they were lighted, you know, but -- we had a big house about this big that was put under the Christmas tree and I remember it had curtains on the window and they were made from -- it looked like embroidered paper -- my father built it. It had a roof on it, a front door.
Bennett: What did you use for decorations on the tree?
Sheldrick: On the tree? The Christmas -- regular Christmas balls like they have now. They were more fancy, you know, and they were a lot of paper dolls, you know, dressed. If I knew where I could put my hand on it, I would show you something. It was a Santa Claus on gingerbread. I still have that someplace and I don't know where it is. But it was an old-fashioned Santa Claus and it would be pasted on the gingerbread and that would be hung on the tree. I can remember -- my father after we were – some of us did believe in Santa Claus and he was fixing the Christmas tree in the block, you know, and he said, "Now on Christmas morning, this tree is going to havecherries growing on it." We believed him. In the morning were these cherries that you get on Washington's birthday -- one on each end of the wire -- that's what was on the Christmas tree. We firmly believed that that was -- that they were real.
Bennett: Did you make those paper garlands?
Sheldrick: Yes. And tinsel -- paper tinsel, you know, glittery stuff. And it would be draped on it, you know, draped from the floor to the ceiling.
Bennett: How about cranberries?
Sheldrick: No. We never had cranberries or popcorn on the tree -- never. Whether that was before or after our day, I don't know.
Bennett: How about oranges or tangerines?
Sheldrick: We got those in our stockings. They came in the stocking.
Bennett: What did you put on the top of the tree?
Bennett: On the top of the tree? An angel. We had -- I don't know where the angel came from, but she stood there for years. I guess she went off with the other things, you know, that -- my mother had a sister, a nun, and she used to send us handmade things that the other nuns would make for Christmas trees.
Bennett: How about Christmas gifts?
Sheldrick: Christmas gifts -- as I can remember, we didn't give each other Christmas gifts until long after we were grown up. But, we all got -- that was another thing that always puzzled me -- how my mother knew after Santa Claus left -- how she knew that this was mine and that was Mary's, and that was Eleanor's and this was John's and -- never could figure out how she done that -- how she knew, you know, and it used -- it was food for thought, you know -- just how did she know that, you know. How did she know that those things were John's. Oh, and you would get dolls or whatever.
Bennett: More than one doll?
Sheldrick: Oh, no! Heavens, no. You'd get one doll. And you wouldn't get a doll every year, either.
Bennett: Did you usually get the same as your sister, or?
Sheldrick: Yes, everything balanced out. That's what I never could understand why they thought that, you know, my grandmother thought so much of me because we were all treated very fairly -- very fairly. Only my youngest sister, we all spoiled her.
Bennett: The baby.
Sheldrick: The baby. You would take a vow almost that you weren't going to do a thing for her, you know. -- Now when she asks me to do that, I'm not going to do it. And she would ask you in such a way that you would be doing it and you wouldn't know it.
Bennett: Isn't that something.
Sheldrick: And you know even after she was Just -- Married, her husband treated her the same way.
Bennett: Just her way.
Sheldrick: It was her way. She had a way of getting around you.
Bennett: Now, as children, did you give your mother and father a gift?
Sheldrick: Oh, yes. We would all give them something, you know.
Bennett: Did you go together?
Sheldrick: No -- no. We would all buy something. We would all go to -- like on these trips to town -- we would buy her something, you know.
Bennett: Can you name something, for instance?
Sheldrick: Well, for instance, it might be a little dish or a cup and saucer or maybe a bottle of perfume. Well, then you didn't get your perfume so much in bottles, you know, you went to the drug store and you picked out your odor and they put it in a bottle.
Bennett: Oh, I didn't know that. Tell me about that.
Sheldrick: The perfumes came in bottles about this high with a glass stopper in it, and the glass was ground glass, you know. I have one out there I'll show you. And the perfume was there. And the druggist would pour so much very carefully. There was a little spout on the container. And pour very carefully in the bottle. And then sometimes you brought your own bottle; sometimes he would give it to you. And you would get the perfume that way.
Bennett: I never heard that.
Sheldrick: Didn't you, really?
Bennett: No. No.
Sheldrick: And then, I don't know -- I don't know -- Well if it came, it was very rare, you know, but – now toilet water you would get in the bottle that shook on, you know -- those kind of bottles. In fact, you would shake it on -- it had a little metal top on it and you shook it on, you know. Now we spray.
Bennett: Then did you -- before you chose the odor, did you get to smell all of these?
Sheldrick: Oh, yes! Yes. He would let you smell any of them that you liked.
Bennett: And how would you get labels? Would he write on it?
Sheldrick: He would write on what it was. And my mother’ s was always violet. She loved the odor of violets. And you know I have a sister that is the same way. Yardley's used to make violet -- Yardley's violet perfume, toilet waters, powders -- they don't make that anymore, and Mary would be putting that perfume on her and taste it. She liked the odor of it. I used to buy it for her every Christmas until they stopped making it. And I don't know why they stopped.
Bennett: Not the demand, I guess, anymore. What would you buy for your dad?
Sheldrick: Oh, maybe a tie or -- he never smoked. Oh, handkerchiefs, stockings. Things like that.
Sheldrick: Books, magazines. Fishing lures , you know.
Bennett: And now for your grandmother, did you children go together and buy her one gift or did you all buy her --?
Sheldrick: My mother bought her one gift and maybe she would, you know, buy her -- well nightgowns or bedroom slippers or perfume, too, and soaps. Well, whatever.
- Receiving Christmas gifts; New Year's Day traditions; Birthday celebrations; Observing Easter; Picnics on the Fourth of July; Trick-or-treating on HalloweenKeywords: Birthdays; Christmas; Easter; Fourth of July; Games; Gift-giving; Halloween; Kee's Hill; Mischief Night; New Year's Day; Pork; Saint Joseph on the Brandywine Roman Catholic Church (Wilmington, Del.); ToysTranscript: Bennett: Toys. Did you get games?
Sheldrick: Oh, yes. We got checkers and dominoes and those kind of things, you know.
Sheldrick: Oh, yes.
Bennett: How about New Year's? Did you do something special on New Year's Day?
Sheldrick: Nothing special New Year's Day. No. We'd have a special Christmas dinner New Year's Day.
Bennett: Special food?
Sheldrick: Nothing special, no. No. It would be maybe chicken or roast pork -- baked ham, baked fresh ham.
Bennett: Pork is usually for New Year's. That's what I know of.
Sheldrick: Yes. We'd have fresh ham.
Bennett: If there was a birthday?
Sheldrick: If there was a birthday, we always had a cake with candles on it. And occasionally you could -- oh -- when it was our birthday, whoever's birthday it was ordered the dinner; they got whatever they wanted. No matter what it was, you know. And then we had cake with candles.
Bennett: Ice cream?
Sheldrick: Not always ice cream. We didn't have the refrigeration then like they have now, you know, and when you wanted ice cream, you'd have to go down to du Pont Street to buy it. Until after the freezer came, you know, electric freezers came out, then you bought it in the store along the Brandywine -- where that Hagee's saloon was, you know, they sold ice cream. Then there was another little store across the road from it that sold ice cream. You'd go over there.
Bennett: What was the name of it?
Sheldrick: Pete Kimbotter kept that.
Sheldrick: Pete-- they were Alsatian, too. He was -- that's another thing --Their name was Kindbeider.
Bennett: And he had a grocery store?
Sheldrick: No, it wasn't exactly a grocery store, but they had like handy foods, you know -- bread, milk and ice cream and few things in cans -- and like cookies or whatever. Something that you would run over quickly and buy.
Bennett: What kind of a gift would you get for your birthday?
Sheldrick: Well, for your birthday you usually got something rather nice -- maybe a nice pin, you know, or bracelet or ring. You know.
Bennett: Something very personal.
Bennett: And if it was for your mother or dad?
Sheldrick: It would be about the same thing.
Bennett: How about for graduations and that sort of thing. Was that a special occasion, as well?
Sheldrick: Not particularly, you know. No. Not particularly, really. Of course, you know, you would have something afterwards, you know, and people would come in. But you didn't get gifts like they do now.
Bennett: Easter -- would you have a special -- was it very religious -- Good Friday, especially tradition.
Sheldrick: Oh, Good Friday was very special. Good Friday you didn't eat from the time you ate your lunch until after three o'clock. You wouldn't eat anything. You wouldn't hardly talk. You didn't eat butter on your bread; you didn't put sugar in your tea – all those kinds of things that you done on Good Friday.
Sheldrick: Because 1- just fasting because it was Good Friday. The way they had of observing Good Friday. And every night during Lent you said the Rosary -- every night. That was special.
Bennett: Yes. And Easter. What occurred on Easter.
Sheldrick: What occurred on Easter? You got all dressed up on Easter Sunday morning and went to mass. That was for sure. And then you'd have a special dinner; you'd get an Easter egg or an Easter basket, you know, after you passed a certain age, you didn't.
Bennett: But you did wear new clothes?
Sheldrick: Oh, dear, yes. If you were going to get anything, it would be more for Easter -- new coat, new hat.
Bennett: That's changed, too.
Bennett: That's changed, too. They don't do it like they used to.
Sheldrick: And you only wore it on Sunday, dear. You didn't wear that -- your good things, you know. And when you came home from church, you changed your clothes. Put them away until next week. Shoes -- you never wore your Sunday shoes to school -- never. You had your shoes -- your Sunday shoes and you had your every day shoes. When you needed a new pair of Sunday shoes, then, or everyday shoes, then you might take your Sunday shoes for everyday and you'd get a new pair of Sunday shoes.
Bennett: Did you ever pass them down to the next --?
Sheldrick: Not me. No. I never had to pass mine down because I was so much bigger than the other two girls that they couldn't wear them. So I got my own. But Mary and Eleanor did. They would pass -- you know -- Mary's coat would go to Eleanor or vice versa, you know, whoever. So --
Bennett: How about Fourth of July? What -- was that a special occasion?
Sheldrick: St. Joseph's always had a picnic, on the Fourth of July. I suppose you've heard about that, haven't you?
Bennett: Tell me about it.
Sheldrick: That was up where Hallock duPont's house is now -- where Hallock duPont lived up in Squirrel Run Hill. That's Where the picnic was. It was then called Kees’ Hill, and they had this picnic up there. They had an orchestra and they danced and played games and had ice cream and all that.
Bennett: The whole neighborhood went?
Sheldrick: The whole Parish -- the whole Parish went. It was just people came from miles around -- came out on the trolley cars -- you know, the trolley car ran up to where at the end of the trolley line, you know, near Buck Road and then the people would all come from town on that and hadn't seen each other from the year before and there were a lot of, you know, men, women and children. It was a lot of fun.
Bennett: What would you take for the food?
Sheldrick: Oh, you didn't take anything.
Bennett: You bought it there.
Sheldrick: Yes, you bought it there. They had sandwiches, finger food, and ice cream and candy. All those kind of -- you know --
Bennett: Now, was there fireworks at night?
Sheldrick: No. No. No, it would be all over before dark, you know. Of course, the lighting -- it would be after the electric came around and got popular, and they would string lights along, but even then it would be over comparatively early.
Bennett: How about Halloween. What happened on Halloween?
Sheldrick: Oh, my dear, we all went out all dressed up. Went from pillar to post. No. In a group, you know, go from one house to another.
Bennett: Did you wear costumes?
Sheldrick: Oh, yes. Yes.
Bennett: Describe one of your favorite ones.
Sheldrick: One of my favorite ones was the man next door loaned me his Palm Beach suit and it was Palm Beach. It wasn't a white suit; it was a Palm Beach suit. Those days they were as expensive almost as they are now, you know, in comparison. And I wore the Palm Beach suit. And his wife nearly had a fit because he loaned it to me.
Bennett: What did you do about your face?
Sheldrick: We had masks -- false faces, we called them – you know -- old women, old men. Pretty ones, ugly ones -- whatever. But it was a lot of fun -- more so than the children have now. And you never saw them destroying anybody's property, you know, you just went from house to house and would get apples and -- very -- mostly apples.
Bennett: You went in groups?
Sheldrick: Oh, yes, yes. Ten -- 12.
Bennett: The lady that was upset because you wore her husband's suit -- was she afraid you'd -- something would happen to it?
Sheldrick: Oh, sure, she was afraid something would happen to it.
Bennett: Did you get it back in good shape?
Sheldrick: Oh, yes. My mother had it sent to the cleaner afterwards. And there's another thing, there was nothing much sent to cleaner's in those days, either. You know what I mean? Your very best things would be sent to be cleaned.
Bennett: Where would they have to go to be cleaned?
Sheldrick: Into town. There was a place at 9th and Shipley -- It was called Berneau's-- B -- I forget how you spell it -- Bornou -- Berneau -- or something like that. It was French -- French cleaning or something.
Bennett: Mischief night. What happened on Mischief night?
Sheldrick: We never heard of Mischief night. We never heard of Mischief night. We never went out the night before Halloween. That is something that came about of late years. You know. When they would set the – that might happen a week before Halloween. That always didn't happen on Mischief night or the night before Halloween. That would happen anytime before Halloween week.
Bennett: Were there any other pranks that you know of?
Sheldrick: Oh, they might take a gate off now and then someplace. Something like that. But nothing -- you know, like the --
Bennett: It wouldn't be destroyed?
Sheldrick: Oh, definitely not -- not.
- Thanksgiving; Social functions at Breck's Mill;Keywords: Breck's Mill; Du Pont, Alfred I. (Alfred Irenee), 1864-1935; Hagley Community House (Breck's Mill); Harry Gregg's Store; Rising Sun Lane; Tancopanican Band; Thanksgiving; Wine makingTranscript: Bennett: How about -- we've covered them all but Thanksgiving -- was that?
Sheldrick: Oh, Thanksgiving.
Bennett: Turkey, I guess.
Sheldricck: Yes, it was turkey on Thanksgiving. And nothing -- nothing insofar as celebration was concerned, you know what I mean. Your Thanksgiving dinner, you know, that was the main thing.
Bennett: And your family came?
Sheldrick: And my grandmother would come in. And we would sit after things were cleaned up -- sit and talk and --
Bennett: You know Breck's Mill. Did you go to any functions?
Sheldrick: We used to dance at Breck's Mill, you know, on different. I can't remember any particular – Friday nights usually they would be -- not every Friday night, but every once in a while they would have a dance at Breck's Mill.
Bennett: And you would go down there?
Sheldrick: It was called Hagley House then.
Bennett: Called Hagley House?
Bennett: Do you remember Alfred I. being there with his--?
Sheldrick: I don't -- no -- no. That was another thing that was before my time. I remember Alfred I. Yes.
Bennett: But you don't remember --
Sheldrick: But I don't remember his band or anything.
Bennett: Then really when you had like dancing, did you go other places other than up there? Were there other places available?
Sheldrick: No. We would walk up to Walnut Green, you know. Walnut Green. Do you know where Walnut Green is? It's up you know by Hoopes' Reservoir, up on top of the hill as you go near Mt. Cuba. We would go up there to dance. We would go into town to dance.
Bennett: Let's see. Would you tell me about the grocery stores that were close to you there?
Sheldrick: Well, the biggest one of them was Gregg -- you know -- Harry Gregg -- and it was right at the foot of – the bottom of Rising Sun Lane, and he had anything and everything that you wanted -- a regular country store, you know -- like yard goods and ribbons and laces and buttons and pins. All kinds of groceries – you know what I mean. Barrels of apples and barrels of potatoes and all that business. And meats and fish. Fish on Friday and it would be really you know – he had a horse and wagon and he went in town and bought these things himself and came out and you would go to the store and see what he brought with him and later years he had a boy work for him. His name was Harry Phillips. And Harry would go around to the houses and get the orders and then they would deliver them by horse and wagon.
Bennett: Would he pick these things up in town, then?
Sheldrick: Yes, he would go to the wholesale houses and pick these things up -- fruits, bananas, oranges, apples, grapes. Grapes came in baskets like this, you know. That's how you bought the grapes and anything and everything you wanted and if you would go over -- my mother would send you over and say tell Mr. Gregg when he goes to town, to get you such and such a thing and you will pick it up later. And he would have it when you went back for it.
Bennett: That's quite a service.
Sheldrick: And then you paid the bill every Saturday morning and you got a big bag of candy.
Sheldrick: FREE! Free, yes.
Bennett: Like a big bag of apples.
Sheldrick: Like the big bushel of apples. You know, nobody puts out anything anymore but electric lights.
Bennett: That's cute. Did you have an ice box, then, to keep these things in?
Sheldrick: We had a big ice box. The ice man came around.
Bennett: How often did he come around?
Sheldrick: Well, you had a card you put in the window and no matter how much -- if you wanted 25 pounds, 50 pounds or 100 pounds, you put that number down and then he brought whatever number of pounds you wanted that's what he brought in and put in your ice box.
Bennett: Who emptied the ice box?
Sheldrick: That was a nice question. Very often it was forgotten -- the pan under the ice box. Whoever would think of it would go by -- maybe two or three people in one day would empty it; maybe it wouldn't be thought of for another couple of days and it would run over. But, then later my father decided he would hook a hose to it and run the hose down to the basement and there was a drain in the basement so it would drain out.
Bennett: That's a clever idea.
Sheldrick: Then we didn't have to worry about it anymore.
Bennett: You mentioned that wine making...Did you keep the wine in the basement.
Sheldrick: Under lock and key, my dear. Yes.
Bennett: Could you tell me about what kind of wine you made?
Sheldrick: He made all kinds. This was during prohibition. And he got a permit to make all these wines. And he made anything and everything. The recipes were floating around like...pennants.
Bennett: Did he make it for other people as well?
Sheldrick: No. No. No. And he gave more away than he drank. It was kind of a hobby with him. And everybody and everybody that had any bottles brought them.
Bennett: That's normal, isn't it?
Sheldrick: He used to say it was harder to get the bottles than to make the wine.
Bennett: And he made all kinds?
Sheldrick: He made all kinds. He made some kind they called "Stonewall Jackson."
Sheldrick: Then they called it "Block and Fall." You drank it, walked the block and fell. It was...you know, at that prohibition business, that was a terrible thing. People drank it and made it that would never even think of drinking it. But just because it was forbidden...forbidden fruit...Adam and Eve started the whole thing. You know? But it's strange that when a thing is forbidden it becomes very important to a lot of people. And I suppose making the wine was a challenge for him too, you know. He made it from grapes. My brother would go over to Union Street...not Union Street... Lincoln Street. On Saturday. There'd be truckloads of grapes come in during the grape season. And he would buy I don't know how. Whether he bought it by the pound or how. But he'd bring home all these grapes and they all had to be taken off the stems. And he had made a press and pressed them.
Bennett: He made his own press?
Sheldrick: He made his own press. Pressed them and, uh, then he would put it in barrels and let it ferment. He had made his own...I guess, I don't know it was his own invention. He had a tube that came up and down and up again, likeS-shape. And this little can with a handle on it, like a little tiny pail, you know. And the glass would go down in it. And when that stopped bubbling, he would sit and watch that until the bubble would come. For long time. And when he would sit long enough that he didn't see the bubble, then it was time to bottle it. The fermentation was finished.
Bennett: Then did he store this in the basement.
Sheldrick: He stored that in the basement. We called it the pony shed. When he was building it, somebody asked him what he was building, and he said he was building a pony shed. So we never called it anything but the pony shed.
Bennett: They all had a good sense of humor.
Sheldrick: Oh. Not much money but a lot of fun.
- Explosions at Hagley Yard during the First World War; The Influenza Epidemic on the BrandywineKeywords: Breck's Lane; Explosions; Hagley Yard; Influenza Epidemic (1918-1919); World War (1914-1918)Transcript: Bennett: Do you remember any of the explosions?
Sheldrick: I remember quite a few of them. Especially the ones during the First World War. Oh, they were... I would like... If there were anything that you could ever want to blank out of your mind, that was one thing that I would like to think I never experienced. I saw...you know when there would be an explosion, all the people within earshot would run to the...you know where you go in to Hagley now? The women and children and all. And they would wait there at the gate for word to come back. Who was killed. You talk about the mines, you know, the men in the mines. At least when they were found they were whole. Their bodies were whole. And I never saw it myself, but I have heard them say that the men would be going over in the woods, you know, picking up parts of bodies. Wasn't that horrible. You know, you would wonder...that's the reason my grandfather, well he worked in the powder himself, but he'd never allow his own sons to work in it. And you would think that to work under those conditions, that they would have gone somewhere else to work. Wouldn't you?
Bennett: Knowing? Yes. Yes, I know what you mean.
Sheldrick: You know. It was almost like sending your son off to war. They didn't know whether they would be home for dinner or not .
Bennett: Do you remember other explosion besides those during the war. When you were a child?
Sheldrick: Oh yes. As far back as I can remember there were explosions. But it seemed to me that during the First World War, they were...but of course, another thing, during the First World War the mills were at capacity. And there were a whole lot more people working there, and they had shifts, you know. Twenty four hours. They went to work at seven and would finish at three. Then another shift went on at three and worked til eleven, and from eleven to seven. So there had to be more explosions, but I couldn't tell you the day and dates. But I could tell you, you know, there were different... there were children who went to school with us and their fathers were killed in the powder. I went around with a girl that...her grandfather was killed in the powder and left her grandmother with seven children.
Bennett: Who was that?
Sheldrick: Her name was Dougherty. She lived on Breck's Lane. I don't know what her grandfather's first name was. But she had seven children. You know, of course at that time you knew and you felt awfully bad about it. But now when you grow older, you wonder why people didn't do something else, you know.
Bennett: Sometimes it's what you know you do, and you're afraid. You have a family, you want to feed them and you're afraid you wouldn't find another job.
Sheldrick: I guess there's many reasons for it, or they wouldn't do it. But by the same token...I don't know.
Bennett: Do you remember the flu?
Sheldrick: Oh yes. I had it. I had it, my father had it and my sister had it. Just the three of us in our house. I can remember being awfully sick, and my sister will say... the worst headache I ever had in my life was when I had the flu. But...the schools closed. There were no services at church, any of the churches. The movies had closed. No, you know, no public places were open that a group of people would be together. You know what I mean? I can remember the little girl that was a very great friend of my sister, she died of it. And that was another sad thing. You know, it wasn't all...there were a few thorns among the roses. But I can remember that little girl's father coming over to the lady that loaned me the suit. And she coming in to my house, to our house crying. Her brother was going up to dig his little girl's grave. You couldn't get anybody to dig graves. It was just awful. And my mother said, "He's not going to dig his..." My brother was about 17. And she sent him up to dig the grave. To go over there among those boys over there "And you pick yourself out a couple of big boys and go up there and dig that grave." He never thought of saying no. Could you do that to a boy now?
Bennett: Well, some would do it.
Sheldrick: They went up and dug that little girl's grave.
Bennett: I guess so.
Sheldrick: And there were no services, she was simply buried.
Bennett: People didn't congregate?
Sheldrick: No. They'd shun each other.
Bennett: Could you get a doctor?
Sheldrick: Couldn't get a doctor for love nor money. The man next door to us had a friend, a Doctor McCauley was in town. And when we had it, he came out to him and he told the Doctor McCauley to go in to our house. He said, "I don't have time." He said, "You go in the front door...in the back door, and see what you can do for them. And go out the front door. You'll be in and out while you're walking around. He came in and he gave us some medicine. I can remember he asked my mother for a cup. And he put whatever it was, and he never said what it was. But we took it. It could have been aspirin; it could have been anything. But we took it, and we got better. Of course, some people didn't get better. And they were dying like...St. Joseph's was getting calls...couldn't hardly keep up with the telephone calls...going sick call. It was just a horrible, sad...I don't know a word that would fit it.
Bennett: It's hard to believe.
Sheldrick: And you couldn't get an undertaker.
Bennett: What did they do.
Sheldrick: I'll tell you what they did. I can remember this. There were gates...and you can see it yet...when you go in the Cathedral Cemetery...you're coming from town and you come to the Cathedral Cemetery...from the front gate all the way back there was a long trench dug. Deep enough. And the caskets were put in, one...as they died, they were just put in one right...
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