Interview with Les Mathewson, 1976 September 3 [audio](part 3)

Hagley ID:
  • Quarrying stone at the Hagley Yard
    Keywords: Bickford safety fuse; Breck's Mill; drilling; Du Pont, Alfred I. (Alfred Irenee), 1864-1935; dynamite; Hagley Powder Yard; hydro electric power; quarrying; railroad trestle; steam power; Stewart and Donohue Quarry (Wilmington, Del.); water power
    Transcript: McKelvey: We were talking about stone quarrying in the yards here. How far do your memories go back on activities here at Hagley?

    Mathewson: I'd say 'til about 1910.

    McKelvey: Do you remember stone quarrying being done here then?

    Mathewson: Yes. I remember them taking stone out when they had a blow that did any damage or something like that to those buildings. how many quarries around had stone.

    McKelvey: Do you remember stone being brought in for any purpose?

    Mathewson: I faintly recollect that they had bought some stone from the Stewart & amp; Donohue Quarry.

    McKelvey: Where would that be? I have to tell you that I've just come down about 6 months ago from New York State, so I don't this area at all.

    Mathewson: It's down along the Brandywine opposite Bancroft Mills in that area. I don't know whether someone else had that quarry before or not. Then I heard my father speak of them getting stone from. That would be over near Edgemoore.

    McKelvey: Your father worked in the yards?

    Mathewson: Yeah.

    McKelvey: What did he do?

    Mathewson: He was an engineer there.

    McKelvey: Did he have anything to do with the steam plant when it was in operation?

    Mathewson: He built that electric--electro plant down there. He and Alfred I du Pont worked together.

    McKelvey: Before that they used to run it with steam power?

    Mathewson: Yeah. They had it so they could convert it. And they also had an auxiliary plant down in Breck's Mill on the bottom of Breck's Mill.

    McKelvey: Did you work in the Yards?

    Mathewson: Just a couple years at vacation, that was all.

    McKelvey: Now we were looking at this photograph of the stone cart. You said that we must have had a couple of them here...

    Mathewson: Well I would think so. As I remember it, I seen more than one there.

    McKelvey: And that perhaps this quarry site might be up behind the old engine house.

    Mathewson: It may be up along there. But that picture with that house has got me stumped. I can't think of it.

    McKelvey: Were there many quarry sites open when you remember the yards where they would take stone out of?

    Mathewson: No. I don't remember many. I got a feeling that that picture there was taken...let me see...I know there was a railroad that came from down there by New Bridge and crossed to Hagley Yards. Came across the trestle. Across Breck's Lane. On either side of that trestle was a big stone pier. And all along there was stone piers. And I think that picture there is the building of that railroad, because that house is very familiar to me, and that looks like the back of a house looking toward Breck's Lane. Back in that area. That would be my guess.

    McKelvey: So that puts it pretty close to home. That's what I was interested in. And you also said that you don't remember any sort of stone boat being used in the yards.

    Mathewson: No.

    McKelvey: To drag stone?

    Mathewson: Well, I know that they had...I didn't know your term "stone boat"...They used to have a, like a 3x6 or something on with crosspieces nailed across it. I seen them drag stone on those through the fields and all.

    McKelvey: That's what I remember from upstate New York farming, clearing rocks out of fields. But you don't remember anything like that being used in the yards?

    Mathewson: I don't know about the yards, but I seen the farms here.

    McKelvey: But it doesn't stick in your mind as being used on

    Mathewson: No. No.

    McKelvey: How about dump carts to move stone.

    Mathewson: Yeah, but they used the dump carts....if it was it was small stone. It wasn't big stone.

    McKelvey: Who did the quarrying here? Did they have a special quarryman or were they the masons?

    Mathewson: They were the masons mostly. Some Italians here that did it. The man that did the quarrying along here, as I remember, was Tyre. T-y-r-e. Tyre. He ran those quarries over there at Shellpot. And his sons. I think his son was the one on this job here...building those piers for the railroad.

    McKelvey: Now in the yards, would they be quarrying all year round or just when they needed stone?

    Mathewson: Just when they needed stone.

    McKelvey: Do you ever remember actually seeing one being worked?

    Mathewson: Not in the yard. No.

    McKelvey: Do you remember what kind of tools they used?

    Mathewson: Well they used to use hand drills and hammers.

    McKelvey: They used hand drills for making the blow holes?

    Mathewson: Yeah. There wasn't any air hammers in those days. In those days they did cause they didn't have any other It was all hand work in those days. It was all hand drilled.

    McKelvey: And it would be your guess, as you said before that they were using B blasting here. And probably not using Bickford safety fuse.

    Mathewson: Yeah. I don't think Bickford safety fuses was even made back in those days.

    McKelvey: In the time that you remember would they have used Bickford?

    Mathewson: I don't think so.

    McKelvey: How about squib? Would they have bothered with anything like that?

    Mathewson: I don't know whether they did or not. I have used some squib. But not very much.

    McKelvey: Well probably they wouldn't have used electric detonation on B-blasting. Would they?

    Mathewson: Not in those days as I remember around here. It was all lighted fuses.

    McKelvey: Which kind of fuse?

    Mathewson: Lighted. Lighted with a match.

    McKelvey: Cotton. Or hemp fuse?

    Mathewson: It was sort of a taped fuse with a powder center.

    McKelvey: Single tape?

    Mathewson: Yeah. I still got some old ones over at home.

    McKelvey: In the quarries when they were doing a small amount of blasting like that, would they have carried their powder to the site in 25— pound kegs?

    Mathewson: Yeah.

    McKelvey: They wouldn't have used the smaller size?

    Mathewson: No. They'd usually carry the big

    McKelvey: Do you remember them using funnels to get the powder into the hole?

    Mathewson: No. They used to drill a hole about an inch and a quarter. Just pour it in.

    McKelvey: Just pour it in. And how did they tamp it?

    Mathewson: They used to use...around these cricks here was a lot of blue clay...One of the best things to pack with was they'd take a piece of cloth or newspaper and put it on top of the powder. They'd stick a fuse in first, then put the paper in. Put this clay in and tamp it with clay.

    McKelvey: Would the clay be wet?

    Mathewson: No. They'd get the dry part of the soil.

    McKelvey: With the wooden tamp? Broom handle?

    Mathewson: I don't know what it was, whether it was a broom handle or not. Round tamps. Just take it off a tree or something.

    McKelvey: Now they drilled their holes wet. Or didn't they?

    Mathewson: Yeah, they used to have a little can of water they'd pour...

    McKelvey: Coffee can?

    Mathewson: Yeah. Tin cans. Any kind.

    McKelvey: And how'd they clean the hole out?

    Mathewson: They'd take a swab rag tied on a stick and clean it out that way.

    McKelvey: Now, in the yards here, for this kind of hard stone they're getting out...

    Mathewson: Brandywine granite...

    McKelvey: Brandywine granite. How deep would those drill holes be going down?

    Mathewson: Depends on how large a stone you'd want to get.

    McKelvey: So it is dependent on what they needed to get out.

    Mathewson: You won't find this hard stone they use around here too far away from the Brandywine crick. It seems to be...Now you take out here at Wooddale...they had a big quarry out here at Wooddale, but the stone wasn't nearly as good, hard a stone as Brandywine granite.

    McKelvey: Yeah. Now the spacing of the holes would be dependent on what they wanted to get out?

    Mathewson: On what they wanted to get out. Yeah.

    McKelvey: When they were drilling for a blast, would they just go down or would they come in at different angles?

    Mathewson: Well they used to do mostly all ledge work. From the top. Drilled down. Course out in the field they drilled right in and blow there. Get stone out and go on.

    McKelvey: Have you ever seen them charge a seam? Spring a seam rather than putting the powder down in the holes.

    Mathewson: No. Never saw them do that. I've seen them do wedges.

    McKelvey: They wouldn't encourage it with powder?

    Mathewson: No.

    McKelvey: Have you seen that here in the yard using wedges?

    Mathewson: Yeah. Oh yeah. Not in the yard. But in this area. In the farms.

    McKelvey: How about plugs and feathers, would they use that on the rock face?

    Mathewson: No. Not that I remember.

    McKelvey: Now in the quarry that you remember here, once they got the stone down and they wanted to make very small stones, would they work that on the bench? Couple of saw horses with a plane.

    Mathewson: No. Work it right on the ground.

    McKelvey: OK.

    Mathewson: Anything I ever seen them work. of course in building.. Buildings they work it on a scale.

    McKelvey: All right. So there was no...At the quarry here there would be no shed or shelter for the men to be working in?

    Mathewson: Not here. Would be at the other quarries. Shellpot Quarry and Donohue...Those were full-time operations.

    McKelvey: They were full-time operations.

    Mathewson: And I think towards the last they purchased a good bit of their stone from these people, too.
  • Steam drills; stiff leg derricks; dynamite blasting; his brother's blasting manual
    Keywords: "Big Mary"; blasting manual Alfred "Fred" Mathewson; Brandywine granite; derricks; drills; Hagley Yard; quarrying
    Transcript: McKelvey: You don't remember any steam drills or compressed air drills being used in the yards?

    Mathewson: No.

    McKelvey: Do you remember any stiff leg derricks being used to get the stone and move it?

    Mathewson: I don't know if it would be done in the quarries or not. Down around where I told you they got those curb stones out of. Down around Delaware Avenue and Bancroft Parkway, down there. Not in the yards. No. Quarry.

    McKelvey: They had a derrick?

    Mathewson: Oh yeah. Two or three derricks down there.

    McKelvey: Do you remember how they lifted the stone with the derrick?

    Mathewson: They had a horse.

    McKelvey: Really.

    Mathewson: Wind the derrick.

    McKelvey: Yeah, that's Not in

    Mathewson: Yeah. Horse used to go around in a circle on a drum...wind the rope on a drum, you know the way they did that down at Scott's quarry, not the yard. Never did that in the yard.

    McKelvey: Do you know how they actually got a hold of the stone they were lifting?

    Mathewson: Chains.

    McKelvey: Chains with hooks on the end.

    Mathewson: No. just chains.

    McKelvey: Wrap it around?

    Mathewson: Wrap it around and have a grab link on it.

    McKelvey: Here are a couple of ways they did it in England with Lewises, where they would make a hole in the stone and put a wedge in. You've never seen that used here?

    Mathewson: No.

    McKelvey: Or nipper like that? Like a pair of ice tongs.

    Mathewson: I've seen that, but I've never seen it used on a rock.

    McKelvey: Or around here? Or this sort of thing with chains fed through a...Just wrap the chain around it?

    Mathewson: Wrap the couldn't use this on Brandywine granite. It wouldn't hold. You couldn't get that...the points wouldn't..

    McKelvey: The nippers wouldn't handle it?

    Mathewson: They wouldn't touch that Brandywine granite. And this would be an expensive way to do it. You'd have another hole to drill. They just took a big bar and a couple men...there'd be a couple of bars...there was three bars...and put heels under and pry it up, enough to get the chain underneath it. And then as I say they'd either pull them up on these derricks with a horse or would have these carts that you'd pull the shaft down.

    McKelvey: You don't know where there's a cart like that today, do you? Love to find one.

    Mathewson: No.

    McKelvey: Did you ever see them use greased planks to skid stone from one place to another?

    Mathewson: No. Never heard of it.

    McKelvey: I'm told the Egyptians used to move them for the pyramids that way, and I wonder if they did it two thousand years later.

    Mathewson: No. I never heard of that.

    McKelvey: The guy that's going to be blasting, he drilled all the holes to begin with. He wouldn't have his powder sitting around day in and day out, would he? That would be stored somewhere else until the day he needed it? See what I'm trying to do...when I set this stone quarry exhibit up, I want to make it look as though the guys just went out for a lunch break and they'll be back any minute. With the right tools lying around. Just as though they just left it.

    Mathewson: The can of powder would be there.

    McKelvey: It would be? Ok.

    Mathewson: But it would be closed. Powder...all powder, dynamite, isn't nearly as dangerous as people think. I'd rather have a case of dynamite in my car than a can of gasoline.

    McKelvey: Really?

    Mathewson: Oh, my god yes.

    McKelvey: Would they have ever used F, or double F or triple F for blasting? That was sporting powder??

    Mathewson: They wouldn't have bothered using that. You just couldn't put dynamite off. You can't strike it with a blow hard enough for that.

    McKelvey: Now when we're drilling a hole, say a two or three inch bore hole, you have to use two or three different drills to get down there deep. Start off with a short one and add to it.

    McKelvey: Oh yeah. Now if you're drilling a wet hole, I wonder if you ever seenthem tie a rag around the drill so the water doesn't..

    Mathewson: Yeah.

    McKelvey: Would they use a leather washer?

    Mathewson: I've seen them use both.

    McKelvey: In this area?

    Mathewson: Yeah. Mostly rags though than leather. Just wrap a rag around it. You can still push it down. I've done that myself.

    McKelvey: Any of these guys working in the quarries wear safety glasses?

    Mathewson: No. Didn't have them in those days.

    McKelvey: Did they chew tobacco?

    Mathewson: Some of them did.

    McKelvey: What brand. What was the popular brand?

    Mathewson: Newsboy.

    McKelvey: Still get that, can't you?

    Mathewson: Yeah. Then there was Polar Bear, Red Man, Big Gun, Jolly Tar.

    McKelvey: So they liked it lose rather than plugs?

    Mathewson: Some did. My father, he chewed Newsboy clean up to when he died.

    McKelvey: Now if you were going to tamp with clay, dry clay, where would you keep the clay until you were ready to use it?

    Mathewson: Well, that would depend. You'd have to go along one of these streams around here to get the clay, if you got it here now. I never did use too much powder. I used mostly dynamite. Of course we tamped that with anything. Sometimes we'd fill the hole up with water and put the dynamite in. You couldn't do that with powder. I haven't had too much experience with blasting with black powder.

    McKelvey: In blasting with black powder, would they squib a hole

    Mathewson: Spring it?

    McKelvey: That's it. Spring it to make it larger.

    Mathewson: It has been done. I don't know whether they did that in the quarries or not? I know I did it several times with dynamite blasting out that railroad cut. I used to spring the holes with dynamite.

    McKelvey: Now with the tape recorder on, you've got to explain what you said about blasting mud: settling gravel on top of it.

    Mathewson: You load the area where you want to build the road. You load that area, then you have it wired up. Then you have the stone dumped on top right in the marsh like. Then you set the blast off and it sort of compresses the muck and everything. And the stone, being heavy falls down to where you want the base.

    McKelvey: It's not in the book, is it?

    Mathewson: No. I don't know whether it was in that handbook my brother made or not. He had a blaster's handbook that he put out for the DuPont Company when he was with the Company. I think I got one of them.

    McKelvey: What would your brother's name be.

    Mathewson: Alfred...Fred Mathewson. He was in the Northwest… no, not the Northwest, Central North. He was with the DuPont Company, but he was attached to the University of Michigan on a land clearing special up in Northern Wisconsin. They were clearing a lot of land up there for the farmers.

    McKelvey: What was your job here when you were working in the yards?

    Mathewson: In the summer time when I worked here, I just worked for my father doing electrical work.

    McKelvey: Do you remember the steam engine at all?

    Mathewson: Oh yeah.

    McKelvey: In that building up on the hill?

    Mathewson: Yeah. Next to the glaze.

    McKelvey: Yeah. How many engines were there?

    Mathewson: Let me see now...I think there was only two in there.

    McKelvey: How many generators?

    Mathewson: Well generators were down the hydroelectric plant.

    McKelvey: There were none up in the steam plant?

    Mathewson: Not that I know of. I don't know, I forget. I was only a kid about 15 in those days.

    McKelvey: Was there a switchboard in that building?

    Mathewson: Telephone switchboard?

    McKelvey: No. Electrical switchboard?

    Mathewson: There was in the hydroelectric plant, yeah.

    McKelvey: But there wasn't in the steam plant?

    Mathewson: I believe there was. I believe there - sure there was. Oh no. No. Now wait was up there in the steam plant.

    McKelvey: What did it look like?

    Mathewson: I forget.

    McKelvey: Do you remember what kind of front it had? Was it marble?

    Mathewson: No. It was more like slate.

    McKelvey: Knife switches?

    Mathewson: Yeah. Knife switches. Gooseneck lamps. I remember them.

    McKelvey: How many?

    Mathewson: One at each board.

    McKelvey: So there were two boards up there.

    Mathewson: There were four boards down at the...I remember better the hydroelectric plant.

    McKelvey: Right over the center of the board?

    Mathewson: Yeah. Right over the center. And the gauges were there--the meter and the meter. They were up on there. They were at the top with a light over each one of them. A small light. And uh...then my uncle used to run the plant at, in daytime he ran it and Yabba Buchanan ran it at night, the hydroelectric plant.

    McKelvey: So what else would you have on the switchboard? .You'd have volt meters, Gnapp meters, knife switches.

    Mathewson: Knife switches and fuses. That's about all. Then later on I think they had breakers on.

    McKelvey: But you think the one up in the steam plant looked like slate.

    Mathewson: No the ones in the hydroelectric plant looked like slate. I forget...I don't remember up there very much. The only time I was ever up there...up near there...right outside the boiler room they had a pole, and lightning hit the line one night and knocked the insulator off the pole. This was around 9 o'clock at night. The wind was blowing, and every time the line would come in and hit the brace for the cross wire-~the iron brace--she'd strike fire. A ball of fire would fly out. It wasn't very far from Big Mary, the glaze, we called Big Mary. Had about 27 ton of blasting powder in there that night and there was a load on the floor, a load in the barrels and a load in the attic ready to be put in, which made 27 ton. Dad and I went up there and I put the hooks on. I told Dad, now you go up there and pull it off. I'll go up this pole--I remember I had gloves on— -I said I'd grab it and hold it until you cut the line off. So I went up the pole and grabbed it and held it 'til he cut the line off, then I pulled it in and untied it.

    McKelvey: Did you use glass or porcelain insulators?

    Mathewson: They were glass.
  • Workers nicknames for buildings at Hagley Yard; additional quarrying and blasting details; quarrying tools; shooting a cannon for celebration; encounter with the Wilmington, Delaware fire marshal
    Keywords: aprons; Birkenhead Mills; blasting; cannons; celebrations; Eagle Pack House; fire marshals; Fourth of July celebrations; Hagley Yard's mills; Hunter's Store; Lady Mill; Longhurst; nicknames; quarrying; Rebel Shanty; rulers; Skin Packing House; stone hammers; third of July night; Wilmington, Delaware
    Transcript: McKelvey: Now you called her Big Mary. Did you have any other pet names for any of the other buildings?

    Mathewson: Of course you knew that one. Well, there was the Rebel Shanty. Skin Packing House. Then there was the Eagle Pack House,

    McKelvey: Skin Packing House.

    Mathewson: I don't know why it ever got the name Skin Packing House or Eagle Packing House. Then of course there was Birkenhead Mills and there was one they called Benny's Mill. That was little Benny Watson.

    McKelvey: Is that one still up?

    Mathewson: I think it is. I'm trying to think which one, which block Benny ran.

    McKelvey: Do you remember the Lady Mill? It's one of the little small ones.

    Mathewson: Never heard of it.

    McKelvey: We picked it up in the early records.

    Mathewson: Well my father was there 'til 1910. I think that's when they pensioned him. In 1910. They kicked Alfred I. out of the company and he went with him.

    McKelvey: When you're cutting large blocks of stone after it's been blasted out, you drill those little series of holes to put the wedges in. Do they chalk that line where they're going to put the wedges or just set it in?

    Mathewson: I've seen it done both ways.

    McKelvey: Depending on how careful you want to be.

    Mathewson: Yeah. But I'll tell you one thing, they had the best stone masons around here that they ever had.

    McKelvey: Oh boy. Did some beautiful work didn't they?

    Mathewson: Sure did.

    McKelvey: One of the most used tools in the quarry would be the pry bar, wouldn't it?

    Mathewson: My house over here is build out of the stone of the upper yard press room. Boy it's a beautiful piece of work. It was built in '22. They had some good stone masons then. I don't know where you'd find one now.

    McKelvey: They're hard to come by. And quarrymen are even harder to find.

    Mathewson: Well, there's a fellow whose name is Dick Armstrong out at Spark's Construction Company on Lovering Avenue. He's still got a couple good stone masons. He does a good bit of stone work around Wilmington today. Course there's not much of it done. It's too expensive. But that house that I live in over there is a double house. In 1922 it cost 22,500 to build a building that's got 24 inch solid stone walls. So you can imagine what it would cost today to build it.

    McKelvey: When a stonecutter was working in the quarry to get the stone down to a smaller size, would many tools would he be using?

    Mathewson: He'd use what they called a stone hammer. It's a hammer that's got a flat face which is only about maybe an inch and a quarter wide and about 3 inches long. With a flat face on one side and a tapered wedge on the other side.

    McKelvey: This would be for one hand work? How would he use it?

    Mathewson: Chip it off.

    McKelvey: Would he use any Chisels or points?

    Mathewson: They used chisels. They did use points. They had some chisels.

    McKelvey: But a lot of the work was done just with the hammers?

    Mathewson: Just the hammers.

    McKelvey: Hmmm.

    Mathewson: Those fellows, they just knew where to hit it.

    McKelvey: Let's see if I can find a picture of the hammer that might be like that.

    Mathewson: If you can't find a picture of one, I can show you one over at home.

    McKelvey: I have an old 1906 Plumb catalog here.

    Mathewson: There you are. No that's not it. There's brick hammers.

    McKelvey: Boy you can't find half of these tools anymore. Lot of meat cleavers. Well here's a stone hammer. None of those?

    Mathewson: No. There you are.

    McKelvey: OK. On page 46. They're called flat-faced stone sledges. And stone breaking hammers. So you would use this kind of a hammer to drive your points also?

    Mathewson: Yeah, that's what they used. That's probably about the only hammer they carried. They came in several different weights.

    McKelvey: Then they'd use the end here for just chipping stone. And this would be a one-hand hammer rather than a two-hand sledge.

    Mathewson: Yeah. Yeah one-hand. And it had a longer handle on it than a hatchet. A little longer. I'd say it had about a 15" handle on it. '

    McKelvey: Would you grip it at the end or..

    Mathewson: At the end. Well, say about 6" up from the end.

    McKelvey: Yeah. Give you a little balance.

    Mathewson: They came in different weights. Two pound, four pound .Just like hammers come in different sizes.

    McKelvey: Do you remember any of the quarrymen or stonecutters wearing aprons?

    Mathewson: Oh yeah.

    McKelvey: Did they wear leather aprons?

    Mathewson: No, most of them had burlap bags tied around them.

    McKelvey: I heard that before. You know Paul Grimes, who just retired here? He was describing his early days. He said they used to use the old cloth cement bags and tie a strong on it, wrap it around them.

    Mathewson: Yeah they used to use it...I've seen a lot of them with just burlap bags around them. Anything to protect their overalls. Keep from tearing their overalls.

    McKelvey: Now in a stone quarry, do you remember the men using rulers of any kind.

    Mathewson: Oh yeah, they all had rulers.

    McKelvey: What kind?

    Mathewson: Mostly two foot ones.

    McKelvey: The folding?

    Mathewson: Yeah

    McKelvey: What other kind did they have?

    Mathewson: That's about the only other kind I saw them use.

    McKelvey: How about a carpenter's square. A steel square?

    Mathewson: I don't think I ever saw anybody with a steel square.

    McKelvey: And you don't remember them working on benches here in the yards?

    Mathewson: No. Only on a pulley.

    McKelvey: Now in the quarry, when you were working in the Yards, do you ever remember piles of stone-u-piles of one size and another?

    Mathewson: Yeah.

    McKelvey: They set them up according...

    Mathewson: Because they had different prices on them.

    McKelvey: To the size. Yeah. Now right here in the yards, how would the mason or stone quarryman get paid? According to the stone he got out?

    Mathewson: No. He got paid by the month. $30-40 a month in those days.

    McKelvey: What did he keep his tools in?

    Mathewson: Well, I don't think I ever saw a stone mason carry anything but a bucket with his tools in. Never had very many. He'd carry his small drills in the bucket and his long drills in his hand.

    McKelvey: Toss them in the pail? Would that be the pail they'd use for water:

    Mathewson: And then they used to carry their tin can or their- Mostly a good many of them had tin cups. That's about it, old cheap tin cup. could buy one of them for a nickel.

    McKelvey: When you were setting off a fuse in those days -- now you've described them using a trail of powder too -— tell me how they'd set up a trail of powder for a blast.

    Mathewson: Well, if you -- you would only do that in an emergency where you didn't have any fuse. If you got stuck and had to do quick, you could take a trail of smokeless powder and run it from the hole and that a way.

    McKelvey: Would you have to use a miner's prick then for that?

    Mathewson: It wasn't very often done. We used to do it more on a (laughs) July night than we did any other time. We didn't do too much in blasting. We used to get an old piece of pipe maybe eight or ten feet long and go along the crick somewhere and get this clay and put it in, then one of the kids would take their shirt off, tear a piece of their shirt off and stick it up there. Stand up on a fence and - a four— rail fence - and pour the powder in the pipe, then stick the fuse in it. If you didn't have any fuse, you'd just wad it up with paper. We'd mostly do it with fuse, pipe. Then they would put another piece of shirt in and some more clay there and then set it off on the third of July night. We used to go up there to what we used to call the Cannon House up there near Longhurst and snitch some powder up there.

    McKelvey: Was there a lot of pilfering of powder in the Yards?

    Mathewson: Not too much. We fellas on Third of July night would know where it was. Or we'd get some of the men that worked in the powder to give it to us.

    McKelvey: Did many kids play in the yards after hours?

    Mathewson: No. We had a cannon we used to keep down there Hunter's Store. We used to shoot that off on certain days. Whenever anybody got married in the neighborhood we'd shoot it off. That's the time we'd use the trail of smokeless, because we just had a cannon . We would take the wick out of it, the fuse out of the firecracker and stick it in that hole, see. It would be too fast for us to get away from, so we put the wick in there, then run a trail of smokeless powder a ways from it and light it so it would give us more time to get away from it.

    McKelvey: Times do change, don't they?

    Mathewson: Yeah.(laughs) That's like the time at the— -down here, I don't know where it was--some tank company bought an Harlan plant down there and had these wedge blocks down there that they wanted taken out. Concrete wedge blocks. It was in the city limits. I had to get a permit, so I went around to the fire marshal to get a permit to take this dynamite. He gave me a hard time. It was right during gasoline rationing, so I told the guy, the fire marshal, I said, "You got cars running right here in Wilmington everyday that are more dangerous to run the streets of Wilmington than if you had every one of them handling dynamite." He said I was crazy. So I had a case of dynamite in the car. I got it out and dropped it down on the ground to break it open. I didn't have any tool to break this box, this wooden box. I just dropped it down. Boy he like to had a fit. So I took one of these sticks and threw it up against a weigh block as hard as I could throw it and it just crumbled. I took some of it after it broke, put in in my hand and stuck a match in it, then put the match out. So I said, "Now are you convinced that dynamite's safe?" He says yeah. (laughter)

    McKelvey: I've run out of questions. Maybe I'll think of some more and we can get back together, but I think what you've said this morning is pretty much what I thought except maybe the quarrymen were a little more casual then I might have thought they would have been. I thought they would have had more tools. They would have been more careful with their powder.

    Mathewson: No. They didn't have many tools. Matter of fact.

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