Interview with Jane "Jenny" Toomey, 1985 February 12 [audio](part 1)
- Cooking and food traditions including stew, meat storage, chicken, root boor, sauerkraut, and breadKeywords: Cooking (Bread); Cooking (Sauerkraut); Fathers and daughters; Fermented foods; Irish stew; lemonade; Refrigeration; root beer; Stews; Yeast--GrowthTranscript: Johnson: My name is Dorothy Johnson, and I'm interviewing Jennie Toomey at her home, 164 Brecks Lane.
Jennie Toomey: Right.
Johnson: Mrs. Toomey, we thought of some more questions to ask.
Jennie Toomey: I don't know what else [Laughter].
Johnson: I was wondering if we could start with cooking. Did you make Irish stew?
Jennie Toomey: I made what?
Johnson: Did you make Irish stew?
Jennie Toomey: Oh, I've often made it, yeah.
Johnson: Could you tell me how you made it, or how...
Jennie Toomey: Just like anybody, regular stew. I don't think there is any difference in Irish stew, only lots of times they put parsnips and things in it that we don't here, usually as a rule people around here don't put parsnips in stew, but I think it's just the same as anybody else's stew.
Johnson: What kind of meat would you use?
Jennie Toomey: Beef cubes, yeah, brown them and then boil, stew them or boil them until they're tender and then add the vegetables is what I do and then...
Johnson: What vegetables would you add?
Jennie Toomey: I put onions and potatoes and celery and carrots and then when the carrots are, vegetables are cooked, I thicken it a little bit, and that's the way we like it, I don't know how - and potatoes, I put potatoes in it too, small potatoes.
Johnson: When you were younger and living with your father, and you told me in the first interview that you bought meat from a wagon and would keep it in the cellar, can you remember what kind of meat he had in his wagon, would he have beef and lamb, or .....
Jennie Toomey: He had everything, he had everything like there is, well, not as much as there is now, you know, but he came around once a week, and we just bought what need, what we could use for the week because we'd no refrigeration.
Johnson: Would you have lamb as well as...
Jennie Toomey: Yes.
Johnson: Were they big cuts of lamb?
Jennie Toomey: I don't remember about that, I don't know, 'cause there wasn't that many of us at home at the time, I guess we bought smaller ones, I don't know, I don't remember that.
Johnson: What about pork, would he have pork?
Jennie Toomey: Yes, and all this with no refrigeration. We had, I don't know what they called them, a deep hole in the back cellar, and a lid on it, it was like a vault, and that's where we kept the things, to keep them cold. There's one down this cellar, too, isn't there, Joe, underneath the porch, there's one here in this house, too.
Johnson: Could you tell me how you cooked chicken, you said you raised your own chickens, and how would you cook them?
Jennie Toomey: Mostly just stewed them, I think [laughs] my Father wouldn't kill them when they were real small, they had to be good size, you know, and you had to stew them, just cut them up and stew them.
Johnson: About how long did it take to cook it, chicken?
Jennie Toomey: I wouldn't remember now, according to the age of the chicken, I guess, as much as anything.
Johnson: I heard someone who had to cook a chicken all day because she let it grow too old.
Jennie Toomey: [laughs] That would be all falling off the bones.
Johnson: Do you remember anything about tea or coffee, did you make tea or coffee at home?
Jennie Toomey: I guess we did, yeah. I don't remember, I guess we did, I don't know.
Johnson: Did you have a special teapot or grind coffee?
Jennie Toomey: No, no I don't remember anything about that, I guess, I guess we did, but I don't remember - it's a long time [laughs].
Johnson: What about lemonade, did you make lemonade at home?
Jennie Toomey: Oh yeah, in the summertime we always had lemonade, yeah, no iced tea, we never heard tell of iced tea, course, just lemonade, and we used to make root beer.
Johnson: How did you make the root beer?
Jennie Toomey: Make our own root beer - get a bottle of extract, you know, Hires Extract, and make the root beer and put it in bottles and then keep it - you're supposed to keep it for at least three days before you would open it, but half the time it was half gone by the three days were up.
Joe Toomey: We made them right here.
Jennie Toomey: Yeah, I used to make it for my children too, and bottled it, we had a bottle capper, you know, to put on the bottles. It was the same way here, it would be half gone before it was really old enough [laughs].
Johnson: Would you remember how you made the lemonade, would you get lemons at the store and squeeze them?
Jennie Toomey: I imagine we did, I don't remember, but I guess.
Joe Toomey: Of course you did, you had lemonade - you get the lemons themselves and cut them up and you had the thing out there, you ground them up on and put them in the water, added the ingredients. Made your own sauerkraut here, made wine here - made root beer.
Jennie Toomey: Oh yeah.
Johnson: You did all those things?
Jennie Toomey: My Father made sauerkraut in our cellar.
Johnson: How did he do that, do you know?
Jennie Toomey: We had a big tub, yeah, I helped to do it many a time. And he had ...
Joe Toomey: I go back to 1925 so I remember some of these things too, I helped to make the sauerkraut. [laughs]
Johnson: Could you tell me your name for the tape recorder?
Joe Toomey: I'm Joe Toomey, I'm Jenny Toomey's son.
Johnson: Thank you.
Jennie Toomey: Well, we got the cabbage, my sister had a yard, a garden up the hill, and they grew the cabbage up there, brought it down the hill, and put it my cellar. My Father made it, but all he did was supervise mostly. I had two sisters, three sisters, we all had to get here that day, and we had this big thing like a cutter, in the - a board with a cutter in the middle of it, you know. We put that over a tub, we had to take turns doing it. All he did was pack it in the barrel and salt it.
Joe Toomey: Great big wooden barrel.
Jennie Toomey: Yeah, great big...
Joe Toomey: Put salt on it.
Jennie Toomey: Put salt on it, then he had a board he put on top of it. Big rock.
Joe Toomey: Wooden top and a great big rock to lay it down to put pressure upon the cabbage. And let it ferment.
Jennie Toomey: Then when he decided to open it, every, all the neighbors came and got there, brought their little kettles or buckets or whatever they had. We sent the word out, Grandpop was gonna open sauerkraut [laughs] and everybody came and got their dish of sauerkraut, their little pot of sauerkraut. He dished it out for everybody that - ones that we knew well right nearby.
Johnson: How long would it take for it to be ready, do you remember?
Jennie Toomey: I don't know how long, about six weeks, I guess, he let it sit.
Joe Toomey: Couple months as I recall, yeah.
Jennie Toomey: Yeah, I think about six weeks at least he let it sit, you know, before he dared to touch it. We never dared to touch it, he had to do that himself, my father. He was an old Irishman and he was thick-headed [laughs].
Johnson: How about bread, did you make bread, or did you buy you bread?
Jennie Toomey: Oh, we made it, oh we made it - until the First World War come along and you couldn't get the flour. My father could not eat store-bought bread, we had to bake it.
Joe Toomey: Not couldn't, wouldn't.
Jennie Toomey: He wouldn't, no, we had to make it. Oh, we were delighted when we couldn't get the flour, we had to buy store bread [laughs].
Johnson: Where would you get the flour?
Jennie Toomey: I guess the grocery store, I...
Joe Toomey: We had stores around here.
Jennie Toomey: Yeah, there were several stores around here.
Johnson: Was it a special kind of flour?
Jennie Toomey: No, just plain white flour. But then during the war we had to mix it with whole wheat or rye or something. You couldn't get just enough white flour to do it, you had to mix it.
Joe Toomey: Did that flour come in cotton sacks?
Jennie Toomey: Yeah, great big 50 pound bags.
Joe Toomey: And you would use the sacks to make clothes.
Jennie Toomey: Oh yeah, our underwear was made out of sacks [laughs].
Joe Toomey: I wouldn't say what kind of clothes, I thought maybe you could add that. [Laughter]
Jennie Toomey: With Pillsbury's Best across your behind [laughs].
Johnson: Did you ever make a dish towel out of the..
Jennie Toomey: Oh, yeah, we made dish towels out of them, too, yeah.
Johnson: That's what they tell us at the Museum.
Joe Toomey: I don't remember you making clothes out of them. You're saying you did?
Jennie Toomey: And some people would take it and dye them, you know, and make dresses out of them, too.
Johnson: How would you dye it, if you wanted to do that?
Jennie Toomey: Well, I guess, I don't remember them doing it, I didn't do it, but I remember people, 'cause I didn't sew, but women who could sew, you know, they would dye them, the bags, and then make dresses for their children out of them. They were well worn - wore for a long time because there was sturdy material in them.
Johnson: Well, I guess it has to be to keep the flour in them.
Jennie Toomey: Yes.
Johnson: Did you have to make yeast and about how many loaves did you make at a time?
Jennie Toomey: Oh, yes, we had, I don't know how that somebody started it, a starter you know. We had a jar, and you added to it all the time. You used so much out of it, and then you added more stuff to it.
Joe Toomey: You had little cakes of yeast you used here.
Jennie Toomey: Oh, yeah, but that was in modern times.
Joe Toomey: In my time, you made it here, too, and that's what you used - the little cakes of yeast.
Jennie Toomey: Oh yeah, I used to make bread here too, and rolls and everything. Now I'm down to just cookies, is all I make now.
Joe Toomey: Cinnamon buns, I remember that you made all the time.
Jennie Toomey: Huh?
Joe Toomey: You made cinnamon buns, too.
Jennie Toomey: Oh, yeah, all the kids around the country come running in, know I was making cinnamon buns.
Johnson: How about popcorn, did you ever make that?
Jennie Toomey: No, I don't ever remember us having popcorn. We only had the necessities, we didn't...
- Gathering blackberries, mushrooms, and walnuts; outhouses and toilet paper; getting water from the nearby spring before indoor plumbingKeywords: Canning and preserving; Cooking (Walnuts); Mushrooms; Outhouses; Sears and Roebuck catalog; Springs; Toilet paper; United States. Works Progress Administration; Water-supplyTranscript: Johnson: How about jelly, did you make jelly?
Jennie Toomey: Yeah, anything you could get, any wild blackberries or...
Joe Toomey: Did you say jelly, we lived on blackberry jelly and jam and mush and...
Jennie Toomey: And apples, you would go out in the...
Johnson: Did you pick the berries around here?
Jennie Toomey: Yeah, oh wild blackberries, yeah.
Joe Toomey: ....picked them and then she made the jellies and the jam and we carried it to school in our sandwiches. [Laughter] To this day, I can't eat blackberries, jelly or jam - I had so much of it then. [Laughter]
Jennie Toomey: And then there were people, we had apples, you know, ones on the ground, you'd go and pick them and make applesauce out of them, make apple jelly out of them.
Johnson: Did they grow right around here, those apples?
Jennie Toomey: Yes, there was orchards around here.
Joe Toomey: We had an apple tree in the yard down here.
Jennie Toomey: Yeah, we had an apple tree in our back yard one time.
Joe Toomey: Blackberry bushes all through, up through here, these homes right here. We went out and picked them all the time.
Jennie Toomey: I remember when I was real little, there was a woman lived around here, and she used to get up five o'clock in the morning and go out to get, to pick the blackberries, and anybody that went with her, they had to be ready when she went. She took anybody in the neighborhood who wanted to go with her, as well as her own children. And we went way out, like where DuPont Country Club is now, out there in the woods, it was all woods then, and got the best blackberries. She knew where all the good bushes were.
Joe Toomey: That was Jones' Farm.
Jennie Toomey: Yeah.
Joe Toomey: Jones' Farm was out there, that's where the golf course is now, where the Country Club is now. That's where they went up there. We also went up there and picked mushrooms right off the golf course.
Jennie Toomey: Oh, yeah.
Joe Toomey: They'd use manure for fertilizer and then the mushrooms would grow. We'd go up there and pick 'em right off the golf course - early in the morning you had to get those before the sun hit.
Johnson: How did you know they were good to eat, did somebody tell you?
Joe Toomey: Well, we knew the difference between a mushroom and a toadstool - no problem with that [Laughter].
Jennie Toomey: We never had any trouble [laughs]. At least, I don't know if anybody eats wild mushrooms anymore, or not.
Joe Toomey: We used to pick 'em all the time on the golf course. It was a race to see...
Jennie Toomey: Oh, yeah, my husband used to get up early in the morning to get out so he would be the first one out on the Country Club, out on the golf course to get the first mushrooms, before anyone else would get there. I don't know whether anybody eats them anymore or not, wild ones.
Joe Toomey: Picks them like that - I don't know.
Johnson: You'd probably be in somebody's back yard now, though. [Laughter]
Johnson: Do you remember how you cooked the mushrooms?
Jennie Toomey: No, I don't remember, no, what we did to them. I know what I do to them now, but I don't know what I did then, I don't remember what we did then. And we probably just sort of stewed them and thickened them, creamed them like. I don't remember. I think they used to eat them raw, just put a little butter in them and eat them raw.
Johnson: They do that now at salad bars.
Jennie Toomey: Yeah. Well, I bought some last week at the store and they were real white. Wasn't a bit of taste to them, they didn't taste - taste like rubber or something instead of mushrooms. And Mary told me that they put something on them to make them white - takes the life out of them. So, they were tasteless. We have a couple of books there, Joe wanted to show you. Did you ever hear about the...
Joe Toomey: Let her ask all her questions first, she had a question...Make sure we cover what she wants ...
Jennie Toomey: Do you have any more questions? [Laughter]
Johnson: I really would be grateful to see the book too. I wanted to ask in connection with food - I also wanted to know about nuts. Did you pick nuts on the property - in the area here?
Joe Toomey: Walnuts, was all.
Johnson: There seems to be a lot of black walnut trees in the ...
Jennie Toomey: Oh, yeah, everybody gathered walnuts and had them up on the roofs, you know, and let them dry out.
Joe Toomey: Put them out on the roof and the first frost came and hit them, then you'd bring them in.
Jennie Toomey: Oh, everybody gathered walnuts.
Johnson: Would this be in that big, green shell?
Joe Toomey: Yeah, in the green shell, and you'd shell 'em.
Johnson: Was it easier to shell them after they dried than it is...
Joe Toomey: Well, you took the green shell off of them, and then let them dry. Everybody's hands were all stained.
Jennie Toomey: The nuns used to get mad at the children for coming with their fingers all stained.
Joe Toomey: Well, all you could do was to let it wear off, 'cause you couldn't get it off.
Jennie Toomey: It wouldn't wash off, there was nothing to take it off.
Johnson: When you ate them, would you just eat them plain, or would you make a cake?
Joe Toomey: Well, we picked them. My mother made cakes with them.
Jennie Toomey: Yeah, put them in cakes or cookies and things. Eat them, a lot of people ate them just plain, too.
Johnson: When you cleaned out the wood stove, what did you do with the ashes, when you used to have...
Jennie Toomey: Dumped them out back on the bank.
Joe Toomey: Well, before that, even, at one time this whole yard here was a garden and we used the wood ashes for the garden.
Johnson: I was going to ask you if it was used for fertilizer?
Joe Toomey: Oh, yes, we used it for fertilizer in the garden. Then we did away with the garden down here - we just plunked them out back, but up to that time we did use them in the garden.
Johnson: Did you ever use wood ashes for a bleach when you washed?
Jennie Toomey: No.
Johnson: Somebody told me they bleached their clothes.
Jennie Toomey: No, I never heard of it, no.
Johnson: When you had outside toilets, what did you use for toilet paper?
Jennie Toomey: Newspaper [laughs], Sears and Roebuck catalog.
Joe Toomey: Is that all you want to know about the outside toilet or privy? We could tell you a lot of stories about that.
Johnson: Tell the stories.
Joe Toomey: Well, you know what we did in the outside toilet was just baths, out back, we had to go out there to use it.
Jennie Toomey: Cold weather, everything else.
Joe Toomey: During the night time we kept a chamber pot in the hallway upstairs here and then somebody had the duty the next morning of emptying the chamber pot.
Johnson: How did you decide who did it, who emptied it?
Joe Toomey: I don't remember how we allocated the duty, none of us liked to do it.
Jennie Toomey: I think we had a bucket and dumped everybody's into the bucket and then took it out.
Joe Toomey: We didn't have indoor plumbing here until 1939 when the W.P.A. put the sewers through here, and I was 14 years old at that time. Ron was four years older and he was 18 years old, and we were still at the outside privy or toilet as you called it. The foundation is still out there and we have flowers in it now. Good spot for it.
Jennie Toomey: Yeah, we plant flowers [laughs]. When I came here in 1920, this house had no electric, and no running water or no inside toilet.
Johnson: When did you get the running water, do you know that?
Jennie Toomey: We had to walk 'round the road here, past this house here - was a spring and we had to carry all the water from that spring.
Joe Toomey: When did you get the water in, she said I don't remember that - water, when was the water put in the house.
Jennie Toomey: I don't remember either.
Joe Toomey: I was born in '25 and there was always water here as far as I can remember, so had to be sometime in the 20's...
Jennie Toomey: I don't remember when it was put in, but we used to carry all of our wash water and everything from over the road.
Joe Toomey: That spring is still there, they have it piped now where the water doesn't run out - probably declared the water unsanitary.
Jennie Toomey: Unsafe after people used it for fifty years or more.
Joe Toomey: Have it piped into this back run here, they have it piped and the pipe is still there and the water comes out in the run now. People came from all over town to get their water at one time. We drank out of it - kids, right from our hands.
Jennie Toomey: Never hurt anybody.
Johnson: Of course maybe the river has gotten polluted since then.
Joe Toomey: Spring came out of the banks up here. There's springs all through these banks, and that water came out of the banks up here and not out of the Brandywine or out of that run. Really spring water.
Johnson: Do you remember what the pails were like that you carried the water in?
Jennie Toomey: Oh, yeah, galvanized pails. Every Sunday night my husband went over and carried enough water over for me to do the wash on Monday.
- Memories of her childhood house in Charles' Banks and details of the house on Breck's LaneKeywords: Dwellings; Grapes; Henry Clay (Del. : Village)--Buildings, structures, etc.; rag rugs; white washTranscript: Johnson: You must have been very happy. [Laughter] Do you remember moving from Charles Banks to the house near here that you...
Jennie Toomey: No, I don't remember, I was only about eight years old. I don't remember the move, but I remember the houses that were up there. They were like these houses across the creek, they were three-story houses, two rows of them. One was close to the Brandywine and the other was behind it, like, up towards Mr. Laird's house and that's where I was born and lived all my life until I came down here.
Johnson: Do you remember, were they going to tear the houses down, was that the reason you had to move?
Jennie Toomey: Yes, and then they quit doing the - they used to burn the charcoal up there, you know. And they quit a lot of the work and they moved the people to these houses down around this part and I don't know how come, but they did tear them down. There was two rows of them up there.
Johnson: It was really the Company's idea that you should move?
Jennie Toomey: Yes, oh, yes. They put us in this house up here across from Hagee's. That's where we moved to, that's where I lived, grew up there.
Johnson: Do you know if those houses ever flooded when the river got very high?
Jennie Toomey: Well, ours were higher up. There was ones right here on this other side of this little bridge that used to be flooded every time it got real high, would come in their bottom floor.
Joe Toomey: I can remember one time in my lifetime, the water being up what we call Long Row between here and Hagley, being up on that road.
Johnson: And that was really across from...
Jennie Toomey: There was no wall there at the time.
Joe Toomey: Yes, the wall was there, my time, sure. The water was up in there, come up through the gates going into Hagley right now, the water was up that high, up on the road into Hagley.
Jennie Toomey: See, the houses were up there on Long Row and they were flat with the ground, level with the ground.
Joe Toomey: They would be flooded, but there used to be homes down in here where the original DuPont Experimental Station was, and that was all flooded, too, sure.
Jennie Toomey: This is where the DuPont Experimental Station started, right here in this corner. It was burnt down, what in 1908, I think.
Joe Toomey: I've got it all written down right out there. I'm doing a research right now of the family tree, and I've got all about Charles's Banks. I've been up to Hagley, I spent four hours up there ...
Jennie Toomey: He was up there last Monday.
Joe Toomey: I'm going back up again Monday, next Monday.
Jennie Toomey: We have a family reunion every year and he's getting the family history put together for us.
Joe Toomey: She was born in Charles's Banks, right on the other side of the iron bridge, there. And then moved down to Main Street, Henry Clay, in 1904, in that house right across from Hagee's.
Johnson: And this is the house right here, the one you are showing me in the picture. I think this picture is in this "Worker's World" book, too. You may have seen it.
Joe Toomey: Yeah, could be. Well, we have that here.
Johnson: You have that here, I think I brought one last time.
Joe Toomey: I went through the pictures up at Hagley, too, I think it might be in it, too.
Johnson: When you had a three-story house, how many rooms did they have on the first floor? This would be at Charles's Banks.
Jennie Toomey: Up in Charles's Banks. There was one room on the first floor, and then two rooms on top of that, and then, I think there was three bedrooms on the third floor. As far as I can remember, I don't remember too much about it, but I know that's the kind of houses they were.
Johnson: And it was attached so you would have a house right up against you?
Jennie Toomey: Just like across the creek here.
Joe Toomey: I was going to say, it's made just like the Walker's Banks...
Jennie Toomey: Yeah, like Walker's Banks house, that's what it was like.
Joe Toomey: That home over there where that man lives now, her father lived there, after her father moved from Charles's Bank to Henry Clay Main Street, and then from there over into Walker's Bank on the other side in 1933, was it, I think I've got the date.
Jennie Toomey: I don't know just when they moved.
Joe Toomey: Well, he lived over there, and lived in that first house. When he moved there, there were three bedrooms upstairs on the third floor. So I imagine Charles's Banks was very much like that house over there.
Johnson: It must have been very roomy then, you must have been very comfortable.
Jennie Toomey: Yes, the house over here was two rooms on the first floor because there was a big family there before that who had had two houses made into one, so that's why there's...
Joe Toomey: What was there - seven children wasn't there? You and six sisters, I mean brothers and sisters, weren't there seven of you?
Jennie Toomey: Yes, there were seven of us.
Joe Toomey: All right, and your Mother and Father, so there were nine living in that house at Charles's Banks at the time. 'Cause in my research I found out they all lived there together before they all moved down to Main Street. They were all living in that house at one time - nine people. Mustn't have been fairly roomy.
Jennie Toomey: It was snug [Laughter].
Johnson: By any chance would you remember how the walls looked, did you have painted walls or wallpaper on the walls?
Jennie Toomey: I don't know, I don't remember what they were - whitewashed, I guess, mostly. Yeah, that's what most houses had, whitewashed walls.
Johnson: Would you remember what the kitchen floor was like, would they have had a wood floor or a dirt floor?
Jennie Toomey: It was wood, but we used to save our rags and had rag rugs made. Strips of rag carpet and put it on the kitchen floor. That's what we had on the kitchen floor up here, I remember doing that. We had to get all rags, old dresses and things and tear them up and sew them all together and made big balls out of them. After you had so many balls you could take them and have so many strips of carpet made.
Johnson: Who made them, do you remember that?
Jennie Toomey: I don't remember, it went away someplace, but I don't know, I was just doing the sewing and rolling. I don't know who did them. There was some place, I guess in Wilmington to have them done. That was a big item when we got new carpet for the kitchen.
Joe Toomey: I imagine the walls in those houses were similar to this house, this house, we don't know how old this house is. We can't find out - I'm trying to find out right now. We know it's somewhere between a hundred and 150 years old. The walls upstairs are the original walls as far as I know, these were replaced in 1946 or '47, but the ones upstairs have not been replaced at all, in my lifetime anyway.
Johnson: And they're just plain plaster, no wallpaper?
Joe Toomey: They're plaster walls, yeah. Over top of wooden slats. I imagine that's how the walls were up the next hill.
Jennie Toomey: But I think everybody, nearly everybody's walls were whitewashed and then they got this, what'd they call it, colored stuff, you know. It was like whitewash only it was colored and people started using that on their walls then.
Joe Toomey: See, the basement of this house was the kitchen at one time. [clock chimes]...reason the walls still down there - that's all that is, a type of plaster with whitewash over top of it.
Johnson: You mentioned your father, when he came to this house down here, that there were rose bushes growing in front of the house. Do you know if he planted those rose bushes, or did he have them there?
Jennie Toomey: I don't know, but he certainly treasured it. I don't know whether they were there when we came there, or whether he planted them. We also had a grapevine, I know he planted that grapevine because he wanted - we always had to have a grapevine. And then we made jelly out of the grapes, too.
Joe Toomey: We still have grapevines here, it was here when my mother moved here. She's been here 65 years now. As far as you know, that grapevine's always been there hasn't it?
Jennie Toomey: Been there when I came here in 1920, and it wasn't young then.
Joe Toomey: I just trimmed it this past weekend and we had lots of grapes on it last year and we expect lots of them again this year.
Johnson: You know who was asking about your grapevine, I interviewed Grace Toy Ferguson, who used to live down here. Her daughter remembered your grapevine and she wondered if you still have it.
Joe Toomey: Oh, yes, she was over to the - we were talking to her. Which daughter was it?
Johnson: This was, I think she called her Frannie, and she said she was best friends with your daughter, Jane.
Jennie Toomey: Yes, Frannie and Jane, they were in the same class together in school. That's Jane there, with the dark dress on. She died in 1982.
Joe Toomey: Yes, the Fergusons, they had about the same number of children as us and they were all about the same ages.
Jennie Toomey: Yes, Mrs. Ferguson and I were both having our children at the same time. So each of hers, five - I had five and she had five and they were just round the same year, maybe the next early year or something.
Joe Toomey: Well,...her William is my age, went to school with him and we got on the golf team together, caddied together up on the DuPont Country Club.
Johnson: Can you remember when you lived in the DuPont houses, if you house needed painting, would the Company paint it for you?
Jennie Toomey: I don't remember anything about that.
Joe Toomey: You're going back a little too far.
Jennie Toomey: I imagine everybody did their own, I don't know.
Joe Toomey: My mother was only eight years old when they moved out of the Charles's Banks.
- Stoves and kitchens; screened porches; newspaper delivery routes; collecting rain water for laundry; raising chickens; her sister's sewing machineKeywords: Chickens; Laundry; Newspapers; Rainwater; Rhode Island red chicken; Screens; Sewing machinesTranscript: Johnson: Do you remember where you stored the wood when you had a wood stove? Would it have been in a shed next to the house?
Jennie Toomey: I think on the porch up here we had it.
Joe Toomey: We have a wood stove right here. Right out in the kitchen. Great big cook stove.
Jennie Toomey: Yeah, cook stove. When I came here it was just these two rooms. There was a little shed kitchen, we called it out there. You could only use in the summertime, but the big kitchen stove was right here in this dining room. And that's the only heat we had for upstairs and down, was that cook stove.
Johnson: But I guess in the summer it was cooler to use the stove...
Jennie Toomey: Well, we had oil stoves in the summertime that we put out on that porch and used it to cook out there in the summertime.
Johnson: When you had a porch, did you have furniture on the porch, did you have a hammock or anything like that?
Jennie Toomey: No, I think we just had the essentials.
Johnson: You wouldn't sit out on the porch at nighttime, or anything?
Joe Toomey: I don't know, the front porch, you sit there now in the summer all the time. I don't know what you did back then - you sat on the front porch - the chairs, the rockers.
Jennie Toomey: Yeah, we always, we always sat on this porch.
Joe Toomey: I have one of the rockers in the attic that you kept on the front porch. I refinished it and have it up in the attic now. It was back on the front porch back then.
Johnson: Would they have screened in the porches in the early times?
Jennie Toomey: No, Mr. Laird screened these in.
Joe Toomey: Those old screens are down the cellar were before Mr. Laird's time, they go back many a year.
Jennie Toomey: I don't know where they came from. They weren't on this porch.
Joe Toomey: Great big, square, wooden, yes, they're off the front porch, you just screw them in on the front porch, before it was screened in like it is now. The old ones are still down there.
Jennie Toomey: I don't know, but used to be you couldn't sit out there for mosquitoes.
Johnson: That's what I was wondering, if it was...
Jennie Toomey: And then, the woman next door and I used to like to sit out there in the evenings and talk. As soon as it started to get dark, the mosquitoes would drive you in, so I wrote a letter to Mr. Laird and asked him if he would please screen in the porches. And I didn't tell her, I was going to surprise her, but one of the neighbors saw the men here, and they had to tell her, she knew it before she got home.
Joe Toomey: They had been screened in prior to that, too, 'cause the old screens...
Jennie Toomey: Yeah, they were all rotted out and they took them off.
Johnson: They never replaced them?
Joe Toomey: They never replaced them, so it was screened in years ago.
Johnson: In the very earliest, in your earliest memories, can you remember if they had little half-screens they put in the windows?
Jennie Toomey: Oh, yeah.
Johnson: And did you have shades on the windows?
Jennie Toomey: I think we did, yes.
Johnson: Do you remember what color they were?
Jennie Toomey: No [laughs].
Johnson: Did you have your newspaper delivered?
Jennie Toomey: Yes.
Joe Toomey: We did back from 1920 on they did. I delivered them myself morning. Used to get up in the morning - delivered the Morning News around here, I got up at six o'clock in the morning and delivered - up Rising Sun Lane to get them, and delivered them around here and I got paid a total of 30 cents a day for doing that. Then I served the evening papers, too, but my older brother was doing that before me.
Johnson: And how far did your route extend?
Joe Toomey: Well, from the top of Rising Sun Lane, down Rising Sun, across the Brandywine, Walker's Banks, all down through here. Now, all the du Ponts, Hallock du Pont and so forth, they picked up their newspapers. See, the trolley brought them out, to the top of Rising Sun Lane, and dropped them off, that's why we went up there and picked them up. I kind of can remember Hallock used to get the New York Times all the time - when the sugar, that went up.
Johnson: Did you know somebody named Tom Dunlap?
Jennie Toomey: Oh, yes. [laughs]
Johnson: 'Cause he said he had a paper route here.
Joe Toomey: Oh, you're talking about the father, his paper route before...
Jennie Toomey: Well, Margaret, the daughter, used to serve the papers, too - Margaret Dunlap.
Joe Toomey: That's his sister, she's talking about the father. [Rudy's?] brother...
Jennie Toomey: Oh, Tommy, yeah.
Joe Toomey: Yeah, that's the father, sons are my age. Oh he served papers before, 1920 he's talking about, so whatever he told you about that, I don't know. Yeah, he lived right up the hill, here. He was over to the reunion, too. I was talking to him.
Jennie Toomey: Yeah, they were at the reunion, that thing at the Mill, you know.
Joe Toomey: The old timers reunion.
Jennie Toomey: We really enjoyed that - saw a lot of people, you know, we hadn't seen for years.
Joe Toomey: You ought to do that annually, because there were a lot of people didn't make it - or are sorry they didn't make it, and have talked about it since. I think they would be there if you had it again, like next year, or this year some time...
Jennie Toomey: They are going to have it again?
Joe Toomey: I said, if they would have it again some like Rab [DiManey?] would show up I know, Billy Montgomery would be there - both of them told me since that...
Jennie Toomey: Well, some people just couldn't make it and they really regretted it, too, that they didn't get there.
Joe Toomey: Well, they found out how much of a good time it was and now they'll come to it, you know.
Johnson: Well, I think with that recommendation, they'll have another one. When you got water, was there a pump at that spring when you'd get your water, or would you just lean down and get the water from the spring?
Jennie Toomey: When we lived up the road across from Hagee's, we had an open spring. We'd go down, went down and took a bucket and dipped it down in and carried it up the hill, the spring was down towards the Brandywine.
Joe Toomey: This one here, right here, you were talking about earlier, Daddy went over and got water and brought it over for your wash.
Jennie Toomey: There was a pipe there.
Joe Toomey: There was a pipe out of the ground, came right out of the ground over there. There was no pump to it, but other people around here did have wells and had pumps. Fleming had a well up there on Church Street and had a pump to it.
Jennie Toomey: But when we lived up the road, it was an open well, stone well, you know, and we had to go down and dip the bucket down in it and carry it.
Joe Toomey: Dipped the bucket right down into it.
Johnson: Did you collect rain water?
Jennie Toomey: Oh, yes [laughs].
Johnson: Why did you do that?
Jennie Toomey: To wash, use the wash it.
Johnson: It was easier than getting it at the spring, then?
Jennie Toomey: It was a whole lot easier than carrying it.
Joe Toomey: It was hard water, too. Water was easier to wash with.
Jennie Toomey: The rain water was soft, you know, and it was much better to wash with. Oh, everybody had rain barrels.
Joe Toomey: Soft, versus the hard water out of the spring. That was for washing clothes, primarily.
Johnson: So, you would drink the other water rather than the rain water?
Jennie Toomey: Oh, yeah, but everybody had a rain barrel, you know, to catch the water to do their wash with, if they possibly could.
Johnson: Did you do anything to that hard water when you didn't have the nice rain water to make it soft?
Jennie Toomey: No, they didn't have the things, you know, that they have now, you just did with whatever you had.
Johnson: When you kept chickens, where did you get the chickens to start with?
Jennie Toomey: We raised them, everybody had their own chickens.
Joe Toomey: We had chickens in the back yard here - fenced in area in the back yard, that's where we kept the chickens.
Jennie Toomey: Yeah, we had chickens back here when we first came here. Everybody had little chickens in their...
Johnson: And the hens would sit on the eggs and they'd hatch?
Jennie Toomey: Yeah, everybody had their own eggs and own chickens and you wanted ..
Johnson: Do you know what breed chickens they were?
Jennie Toomey: Had what?
Johnson: What breed they were?
Jennie Toomey: Rhode Island Reds mostly.
Joe Toomey: Rhode Island Reds - I helped to kill them, they had to kill them, too. [Laughter]. Well, my father, they way he killed them was he put their head on a block of wood, in fact I did it for him too, he taught me how to do it. He just chopped their head off. Now, her father, when he killed them, what he did, he believed in bleeding them to death, so he would hang them up by their feet and then take a knife and stick it up their throat and let the blood drain out of them until they died.
Jennie Toomey: Yeah, my father never cut their heads off, he bled them to death, he cut them until they bled to death.
Joe Toomey: That was the way people did around here. He cut their throat, he stuck the inside of their mouth.
Jennie Toomey: Oh, everybody had their own chickens, you know, and their own eggs. Everybody had a few chickens in their back yard.
Johnson: If you were going to make a pillow out of the chicken feathers...
Jennie Toomey: Oh, we saved all the feathers, yeah.
Johnson: How would you go about making the pillow, did you...
Jennie Toomey: I don't remember making them, but I know we always saved all the feathers, everybody saved their feathers and used them for pillows.
Johnson: Was there a special way to pull the feathers out?
Jennie Toomey: No, not that I know.
Joe Toomey: Out of the chicken?
Joe Toomey: Well, we dipped them in hot water a lot of times.
Jennie Toomey: Oh, and you had to scald them, and then pick them out and let them get good and dry, you know, and every body had their own, saved the feathers for pillows, yeah.
Joe Toomey: Squeeze them out, just pull them out, came out right...
Johnson: Would you have to do anything to them, would you...
Jennie Toomey: Cure them or anything, no, just dry them out good.
Joe Toomey: No, just let them dry and use them as is.
Johnson: Were they pretty soft?
Jennie Toomey: Oh, yeah.
Joe Toomey: Pretty soft.
Johnson: Did your sister, Mary, have a sewing machine?
Jennie Toomey: Yeah, oh we always had a sewing machine.
Johnson: You told me she made your clothes, and I wondered if she had a machine. Do you know what it looked like?
Jennie Toomey: It was, you know, a tread machine, had to work it by foot, of course, there was no electric in the houses...
Joe Toomey: Probably the one you had when I was a kid around here and it was a cast iron Singer sewing machine with a tread on it where you worked it with your feet. I imagine it was the one that you used.
Jennie Toomey: Yeah, that's the kind we had.
Johnson: Do you know where she would have kept it in the house?
Jennie Toomey: No, well we only had the one room downstairs, up the road here, and that was our kitchen, living room, sitting room and everything else, so it was in that room somewhere I'm sure, I don't remember just where.
- Joe Toomey restoring furniture made by Jennie Toomey's brother; her father's Irish trunk; getting ready for bed in the winter; her mother's sister; hair cuts and hairstylesKeywords: antique furniture; Dwellings--Heating and ventilation; hair bows; hair plaits; Haircutting; Hairstyles; House plants; Irish trunk; shoe lasts; Trunks (Luggage)Transcript: Johnson: Maybe you don't remember this, either, but would the Company furnish the houses, or did you have to buy, your father have to buy his own furniture?
Jennie Toomey: Oh, everybody had their own furniture, yeah.
Joe Toomey: I don't think the Company bought any furniture. The furniture that's around, there's furniture in this house, still that was owned by Timothy Toomey that lived on the Upper Banks originally, and her father, John Thompson, lived up there. And that's all bought furniture, wasn't furnished by the Company, no.
Jennie Toomey: A lot of it was built, you know, homemade.
Johnson: That's interesting. Would they make it in the Machine Shop?
Jennie Toomey: Most people had their own instruments at home to make it with, and they...
Joe Toomey: Your brother made a lot of yours. He was a cabinet maker, he learned his trade right up in the building that's the new Machine Shop, we call it, the new building in the alley...you people just within the last year or so, red brick building.
Jennie Toomey: I have to be excused, I have to go upstairs.
Joe Toomey: That's where he learned his trade, up there. There are a lot of pieces of furniture around here, like that little cabinet sitting there, that he made.
Johnson: Oh, isn't that nice.
Joe Toomey: He learned his trade up there in the early 1900's.
Johnson: Can you remember any other pieces of furniture that he made, would they have a big table...
Joe Toomey: Oh, settee, I have a table in the attic, the chairs for the front porch. I came through back here ten years ago and at that time there was a lot of furniture in the basement, cellar, as we call it, in pieces. They'd just been sitting around for years and years and years, and so, in my spare time I started reconstructing them and I have saved most of it and have it in the third floor now.
Johnson: That's a nice thing to do.
Joe Toomey: It's mine - it's cherished.
Johnson: Was it in pretty good condition?
Joe Toomey: Not originally it wasn't, no. Took a lot of Elmer's Glue to get it back together again. I have a Captain's chair up there that I reconstructed and a table, and I saved the chair off the front porch. The settee went to my sister, there, and she now, her daughter, has it, they live in Elkton, Maryland, so it's still around. Something of interest to you that maybe, that I put in this thing that I'm working on, the trunk that her father brought from Ireland with him, brought all their belongings over in, is still in the family. My mother is trying to get it back, but my cousin has it, her sister's son has it.
Johnson: Oh, that's something they are very interested in...
Joe Toomey: He won't bring it back. I wanted to refinish it, but he won't bring it back to let me work on it. He's afraid he won't get it back again, I think.
Johnson: We're talking about the trunk that your father brought...
Jennie Toomey: Oh [laughs]
Joe Toomey: And I got his shillelagh that he brought over, that's one of the things I have up in the third floor here, too.
Jennie Toomey: I don't know whether I'll ever get that trunk back or not, I told him I wanted it, but...
Joe Toomey: I don't - no - you know how he keeps, he has horses and he keeps the horse blankets in it.
Jennie Toomey: Keeps the horse blankets in it, and they painted it.
Joe Toomey: I want to get it back and take all the paint off of it and try to restore it like it was originally, but he won't loan it to me long enough to work on it.
Johnson: Was it a wooden trunk, or an iron trunk?
Joe Toomey: Yes, I have one in the attic right now that's another one very similar to it, but my mother knows the history of that and she's told me that it came, probably came from Ireland originally too.
Jennie Toomey: It probably came from Ireland, too, because the people that had it were from Ireland, and they gave it to me when they had to move, and it's up on the third floor now. But that one of my mother and father's, I only found out a few years ago that this nephew of mine had it down there with his horses and had painted it, and I told him I wanted it back. He said, "Oh, Aunt Jen, you don't want that back, it's all painted up, I painted it red or something." I said, "Yeah, I still want it back." [laughs]
Johnson: Can you remember anything else your parents brought from Ireland that was an heirloom?
Jennie Toomey: No, I don't remember anything else.
Joe Toomey: Well, you know, they brought everything in a trunk, and that was it and it was mostly clothes. All of their belongings came in that trunk when they came over.
Jennie Toomey: Mostly clothes, I guess, they brought because they had ... I went over to Ireland in 1979, and I was visiting my first cousin over there. Her mother had been to this country, she was my mother's sister. She had been in this country and then went back there again, and she had the trunk that her mother brought from Ireland here, and took back there again. [Laughter]
Joe Toomey: Made the round trip.
Johnson: Do you remember if you had house plants in the house when you were quite young?
Jennie Toomey: Had what?
Johnson: House plants - the way we keep little green plants in the house now, would you have done anything like that?
Jennie Toomey: I don't think we kept anything through the winter, I think we had lots of things around after...
Joe Toomey: Couldn't, 'cause there was no heat to keep them.
Jennie Toomey: There was no heat, you know, and you couldn't keep plants during the winter.
Joe Toomey: We didn't have any central heating in this house either, 'til late 40's, central heating was put in this house.
Johnson: They have a jardiniere in the Gibbons House that belonged to Mrs. Gibbons' oldest daughter and they're trying to keep a plant in it. Of course it dies because they don't have any heat in there either.
Jennie Toomey: No, no heat in there.
Joe Toomey: We had ice about a couple inches thick on the third floor up in the attic there, where we slept when I was a kid. [Laughter] Sounds funny, but it was true.
Johnson: I guess you got dressed downstairs and ran...
Joe Toomey: Jumped out of bed and jumped in your clothes and ran...
Jennie Toomey: Oh, everybody got ready for bed back of the stove, you know - brought your night gown or pajamas or whatever you had down, and got ready for bed, and dashed upstairs and into bed. I remember my sister, when we were real young and we'd lay together, you know, with my back up against, my stomach up against her back. Then she'd say, "You ready to turn over?" We'd both turn at the same time. [Laughter]
Joe Toomey: Used to have our Saturday evening baths, one bath a week, every Saturday evening.
Jennie Toomey: Yeah, put the tub up in the kitchen.
Joe Toomey: The kitchen, the only place there was any heat. Used the same tub of water over and over again, pan of water. Five of us here, and that's...
Johnson: Did you decide who would go first, according to who was the dirtiest?
Joe Toomey: I don't know how, I think it was the oldest.
Jennie Toomey: I think we started out with the oldest and went down. [Tape cuts out momentarily]
Johnson: You mentioned your mother having a sister, the one who took care of the baby after your mother died, was that her only sister who came here?
Jennie Toomey: Yeah, it was - no, she bad two sisters living here, but one was married and the other lived out, worked out in somebody's house. But the one that was married, she took my sister and kept her for about a year, I think. I don't remember it, but I've been told it, that she kept her for about a year, and then my oldest sister was fifteen and she took over after that - was seven of us.
Johnson: What I wanted to ask then, did you mother's sister's husband work for DuPont?
Jennie Toomey: No, I don't know where he worked. You don't remember him anyhow - Andy, Uncle Andy.
Joe Toomey: No, just you talking about him, no, I don't know where he worked.
Jennie Toomey: No, I don't think he ever worked for DuPont.
Johnson: Do you remember ever visiting her when you were little?
Jennie Toomey: They lived around, they lived up near the church, but he never worked for the powder, I don't know where he did work.
Joe Toomey: What was his last name?
Jennie Toomey: Flynn.
Johnson: So he wouldn't have lived in the powder yard hill?
Jennie Toomey: No.
Johnson: Do you remember any politicians who might have asked you or your husband to vote for them when you were quite young?
Jennie Toomey: No, I don't know. We just everybody - I don't think they did that much, I don't know whether anybody did or not, but I don't remember anybody ever doing it.
Johnson: Do you remember what it was like when your father cut the neighborhood children's hair? Would they come into your house?
Jennie Toomey: No, we had a platform, like, we had a porch, a long porch alongside of the house - they came there on that porch, and that's where he cut their hair, on that porch. Then we just sweep it away.
Johnson: Do you remember how he did it, did he have...
Jennie Toomey: Yeah, he had clippers, and...
Joe Toomey: They were little hand clippers is what he had, and a comb and a pair of scissors, that's all he used.
Jennie Toomey: Yeah, hand clippers, you know, no electric of course.
Joe Toomey: A man named Conley did the same thing - right up here. When I was a little boy, he used to cut ours and he had a little oil stove in there, he'd heat those hand clippers on, sometimes they weren't quite warmed up when he started on you. When he put those cold clippers on the back of your neck he made you jump. He did it the same way - hand clippers and hair scissors and comb, that's all he had, that was the equipment.
Johnson: Wonder what makes the big difference?
Jennie Toomey: Yeah, my Father, all the kids that lived right near us would come 'round and he'd cut their hair, mine included. I got mine cut off every summer - school was out and my hair was clipped close to my head. That's why it's so thick now, guess.
Joe Toomey: I don't remember what Mr. Conley charged us for, to cut our hair.
Jennie Toomey: Quarter, I think.
Joe Toomey: Quarter was it that much back then?
Johnson: And your father did it all just as a favor. Her father did it for free.
Joe Toomey: Oh, we mended our own shoes, too, back then.
Johnson: Do you remember where he kept the lasts that he used to fix the shoes?
Jennie Toomey: The racks?
Johnson: The lasts.
Jennie Toomey: Oh, yeah, Joe has some of them upstairs.
Joe Toomey: I have two of them up in the attic.
Jennie Toomey: My sister had some of them, I gave them all to her one time and then she gave Joe a couple of them back.
Joe Toomey: Her question was, where did he keep them, I don't remember where he had them when he lived over here.
Jennie Toomey: Oh, yeah, we had a little, what we called the cellar, it was half the width of the other room, you know, but that's where we kept...
Joe Toomey: In the back room - the back room...
Jennie Toomey: Yeah, the back room off the kitchen, everything went in there, we had our coats in there, anything we had to keep, that's where it went back in there.
Johnson: Did it have a window, or was it just a little...
Jennie Toomey: Yes, it had one window in the end of it, and that was all. That's where we had this vault that we kept the food in too, was in that place.
Johnson: When you wore your hair in plaits when you were little, how ...
Jennie Toomey: When I what?
Johnson: You said you wore your hair in long plaits when you went to school when you were little, do you remember how you fastened the ends to keep the hair in place neatly?
Joe Toomey: Rubber bands...
Jennie Toomey: Wasn't rubber bands, guess we put a piece of string on them, I don't remember. Yes, my hair used to be down to my waist when I was going to school. Other girls, too, you wrapped the plaits around your head and tried to see who'd get the biggest bows on the side. Everybody tried to outdo everybody else - a great big bow on each side [Laughter].
- Swimming and skating on the Brandywine; peeling willows; walking to school; explosions; her father predicting the weatherKeywords: charcoal production; Children--Social life and customs; cutting ice; Gunpowder industry; Industrial accidents; skating; Swimming; Weather forecastingTranscript: Johnson: Did you ever go swimming in the Brandywine?
Jennie Toomey: Did I what?
Johnson: Did you go swimming in the Brandywine?
Jennie Toomey: Oh yes indeed.
Joe Toomey: We were born and raised on the Brandywine, I was.
Jennie Toomey: No bathing suits, either, you had old dresses, you wore old dresses, nobody had a bathing suit.
Johnson: Did you wear anything on your feet, or go barefoot?
Jennie Toomey: No, we just went barefooted, I guess.
Joe Toomey: No we didn't, just went barefoot all the time.
Jennie Toomey: Oh, no, everybody went barefoot.
Johnson: How did you learn to swim, did somebody...
Jennie Toomey: Oh, you either swam or sank - somebody come along and pick you up and throw you down.
Joe Toomey: I learned right over here, on Walker's Banks there's a, what we call a sandy bottom right in back of the mill, there. It was sort of a gradual thing and you just kept trying and trying and you learned to swim. You were on your own - nobody taught you, you really learned yourself...
Jennie Toomey: No, nobody taught you, you just swam.
Joe Toomey: You got out there and did the best you could until you could finally swim across.
Jennie Toomey: Same thing with skating on the ice, you got on there and you got up and down as often as you could until you learned to stand on them yourself. We used to skate on the Brandywine, too, when I was young, we skated - they did too. Nobody does anymore, though, they don't anymore.
Johnson: It doesn't seem to freeze solid the way it used to.
Jennie Toomey: No.
Joe Toomey: Well, it probably was solid enough this year, but the snow's on there first and you can't skate on it, but sometimes back then it froze first without the snow. We even chopped the ice, there was a store on this corner, and what we used to do was cut our the ice, blocks of ice for use, you know, we didn't have any electric refrigerators back then. Had an ice box out here, we bought our ice - in the wintertime you just chopped it right out of the Brandywine and use it.
Jennie Toomey: What they used to do, well, the creek would be frozen and snow on it - everybody would get out there with broom and sweep paths around so you could skate, make places to skate 'round the snow. But nobody ever goes near it anymore. There's no children around here, very few children around here.
Johnson: That's right, they really don't have children...
Jennie Toomey: There's a couple boys up the hill, but they don't come down here at all.
Joe Toomey: You don't have the homes here either...
Jennie Toomey: No, there's no houses - there were dozens and dozens along...
Joe Toomey: House right across the street from here, just like this one. I helped to tear that down about 1938 or '39.
Jennie Toomey: Yeah, there were two houses right across the road there.
Joe Toomey: Almost identical to this one.
Jennie Toomey: Down here, just on the other side of this little bridge, was a row of houses there. Couple - must have been five or six houses there.
Joe Toomey: In my time, Long Row was there, people lived... Then there were other homes right by the Hall of Records, right across from two homes there, couple large families there.
Jennie Toomey: And up where Hallock's place is now, there were houses, dozens of houses up in there. All gone, all torn down.
Johnson: Did you ever hear the phrase "Poor Man's Beach", you mentioned sandy bottom, did they talk about "Poor Man's Beach" to you?
Jennie Toomey: The what?
Johnson: "Poor Man's Beach."
Joe Toomey: Beef, are you...
Johnson: No, beach, when you went swimming.
Joe Toomey: Poor Man's Beach...no beach along here by that name in my time, might have been in her time. [Laughter]
Jennie Toomey: One called Sandy Bottom across the creek.
Joe Toomey: In the thing that I'm writing up right now, [M?] and Sandy Bottom and the Point, right up at the entrance - that was called the Point a long time in my time, but maybe back in her day was a beach.
Johnson: Do you remember using a boat on the Brandywine?
Jennie Toomey: Oh, people had boats, but we never had one.
Joe Toomey: Leon Lloyd had a boat on there.
Jennie Toomey: Huh?
Joe Toomey: Sure, Leon had one, next door. He had one, kept right over here. I was a kid. He built it himself, another man named George Jackson used to have one on there, too.
Jennie Toomey: Oh, yeah, lots of people had, we never had one, but lots of other people had them.
Joe Toomey: Homemade though, weren't bought, couldn't afford to buy a good...
Johnson: Somebody said there was a du Pont that kept a boat there and they didn't like if anyone took them.
Joe Toomey: Leon Lloyd kept his over there, he lived right next door, here. Built it in his backyard and put it over there...
Johnson: When you helped to peel the willows, when you were little, did anyone ever talk about where they got the willows from?
Jennie Toomey: No, I never heard. They used to be on great big long wagons. See, I was only eight years old when we moved from up there, so it was before that time that we peeled the willows. I don't know how much peeling I did, but I know that I was there with them when they were doing it. Each family was allotted so many, you know, and then they were paid so much for whatever they got, which was a big item in those days to get something extra like that. And my father made us all go and peel them, I was only, I guess I was only six or seven. But when I started to school, at six years old, I walked from Charles's Banks up through the woods by Deed's place and up by Christ Church and up to St. Joseph's to school.
Johnson: That was a very long walk.
Jennie Toomey: Yes [laughs] some walk when you were six years old.
Johnson: Now you just have the school bus.
Joe Toomey: We walked from here to St. Joe's...
Jennie Toomey: That's what made me strong, I guess.
Joe Toomey: We went that way, right through there, right through the woods.
Johnson: And it's so hilly here.
Joe Toomey: Yeah, we had a path - aren't sure the path is still there.
Jennie Toomey: Oh, I did that after we come down here. Used to walk up over this hill and through that woods, across to Barley Mill and then on up.
Johnson: Did your father ever tell you anything about explosions that happened when he was working?
Jennie Toomey: No.
Johnson: Do you remember anything about explosions, you told me once that you were lying on a sofa and the explosion knocked you off the sofa.
Jennie Toomey: Threw me right off on the floor, yeah.
Johnson: Do you remember anything, any...
Jennie Toomey: No, well I remember everybody run out, you know, everybody was wondering if they had somebody in there - who was in it and all that, but I don't remember much more than that.
Joe Toomey: Well, you know about the one where Grandpop Toomey was killed in it, 1915 you remember that one.
Jennie Toomey: Yeah, it was away up in the upper yard that happened.
Joe Toomey: I have a complete record of that which I got from Hagley's records. He got hurt on the 13th of July and died on the 14th of July, 1915. My grandfather on the Toomey side of the family.
Johnson: Was he the only person killed on that day?
Jennie Toomey: Another man, too. Do you remember the name?
Joe Toomey: Crozier, I think it was, C-r-o-z-i-e-r, I have it written down. Killed two of them - I got it out of the newspapers back then, got it out of the features.
Johnson: It would have all about that?
Joe Toomey: Said one day about the explosion, next day about the various...
Johnson: Do you know of anyone who ever saw a ghost?
Jennie Toomey: Never heard tell of one, no. [laughs]
Johnson: Did you ever have any premonitions about anything, or talk about this with your friends, that an explosion was going to happen?
Jennie Toomey: No, I don't know if anybody ever did, some old people might have thought they did, you know, but I never heard of it.
Johnson: Was your father able to forecast what the weather was going to be like by looking at the sky?
Jennie Toomey: Oh, yes, he could tell you the weather.
Johnson: Do you remember what he said?
Jennie Toomey: He would always predict the weather, and it was pretty near right, too.
Joe Toomey: What would he base it on, what was his prediction?
Jennie Toomey: I don't know what he based it on, but he could pretty well predict the weather.
Johnson: Did he have any sayings like...
Jennie Toomey: No, nothin', but only his own instinct, I guess, I don't know what it was.
Joe Toomey: No sayings about the weather?
Johnson: My father-in-law used to say, "Red sky at night, sailor's delight, red sky in the morning...
Jennie Toomey: No, I don't think he went by any of that, I think he just went by his own intuition or somethin', I don't know what it was.
Johnson: Did people watch the sky at night - do you remember them looking at the stars or anything like that?
Jennie Toomey: No.
Johnson: Did they ever talk about the comet when it went by?
Jennie Toomey: No. [laughs]
- Fourth of July fireworks; 1930s fire near Hagee's Tavern; relating Chick Laird's story of how her house was numberedKeywords: Fires; Fourth of July celebrations; Henry Clay (Del. : Village)--Buildings, structures, etc.; Henry Clay (Del. : Village)--Social life and customs; Laird, W. W. (William Winder), 1910-1989; Postal service; Volunteer fire departmentsTranscript: Johnson: Do you remember fireworks in the area?
Jennie Toomey: Oh, yes, everybody had fireworks, little ones, you know.
Johnson: What was that like?
Jennie Toomey: Well, I don't remember what it was like, but I remember when I was young, Irenee du Pont had them, you know, every Fourth of July. And we used to walk from here up to Granogue to see the fireworks, and then walk back unless you could get a ride from somebody, and there wasn't that many cars and things around in those days.
Joe Toomey: Still had them up there at Granogue, oh, I don't know, into the '40's I guess, maybe up until World War II they had those, every Fourth of July. And maybe, what you're talking about too...the Centennial celebration of Hagley, they had a fireworks display at the DuPont Country Club...
Jennie Toomey: Well, they have it every year.
Joe Toomey: And Timothy Toomey, he was born in Ireland in 1850 and was a superintendent up at Hagley, was on the committee that ran the fireworks display up there - 1902. That's in Hagley's records, too.
Jennie Toomey: He found out that my father...
Joe Toomey: My great-grandfather, in other words, is who I'm talking about.
Jennie Toomey: My father was two years older than we thought he was, according to the records up there. See, his birth date was up there - we thought he was 87 when he died and he was 89.
Joe Toomey: Well, he was eighty...
Jennie Toomey: Wasn't it?
Joe Toomey: Yes, according to the census of 1900, which they took from him personally, he said that he was 45 years old at that time, and he died in 1945. So, he was 89 when he died, we always thought he was 87. Also, my mother's recollection of her own father was wrong when he got married and when he came from Ireland. We thought he came from Ireland in 1885 on his honeymoon. He came from Ireland in 1884 on their honeymoon. Her oldest sister was born in 1885, Aunt Sarah, so one year off...
Jennie Toomey: He's been picking my brains so I can't think any more. And Monsignor Sheers is supposed to come down some day and ask me about St. Joseph's, I said they'll all drive me crazy. [laughs] I don't know when Monsignor's comin', he said he was coming, but he had a recording machine that needs something done to it, and he was waiting to get batteries or something for it, and he was going to come down some day. He said he'll call me before he comes - I said you'd better - he hasn't called me yet. But, Joe, every day's somethin' else - now do you remember this?
Joe Toomey: I asked her this morning when they moved from the house up across from Hagee's to the Walker's Banks. Her youngest sister, I didn't know if she was married up here, in creating the family tree and family history, I wanted to know if she was living here on Main Street when she got married or living on Walker's Banks. See that's where her father moved to and she moved with him.
Jennie Toomey: But my father moved over there after 1920 because I was married from this house up here, across from Hagee's.
Joe Toomey: He moved there in 1933.
Jennie Toomey: Was it?
Joe Toomey: Yeah, he moved over to Walker's Banks...
Jennie Toomey: Thirty-three?
Joe Toomey: Yeah, I think it's '33.
Jennie Toomey: I don't think so.
Joe Toomey: Based on what you told me.
Jennie Toomey: Yeah, that was the year Aunt Jos was married and that... They were over there before that.
Joe Toomey: Aunt Jos, your sister, was dating her boyfriend, husband-to-be...
Jennie Toomey: What?
Joe Toomey: Aunt Jos, your sister, Josephine, was dating Jim McVay, when they lived up here before they moved to the other side of the Brandywine, because I remember Uncle Jim bringing me home from up there in his car, which was an unusual thing, no one had an automobile. I owned the first automobile in this house, in 1948, it was the first automobile we ever had, so there weren't any automobiles, and he had one back then. I remember him bringing us down here from the house across from Hagee's.
Johnson: Do you remember your first automobile ride?
Jennie Toomey: No. I don't remember my first one, no. But there was one young man around here that had a car. Anytime he asked you, you went for a ride, we didn't like him very much, but he had a car, went with him.
Joe Toomey: I remember my first one - Mr. Biddle, across the road here, took us to church.
Jennie Toomey: Yeah, I don't remember my first ride.
Joe Toomey: Snap on hinges on the thing - had to be way back in the early '30's sometime.
Johnson: Do you remember any fires?
Jennie Toomey: Any fires?
Johnson: Something got on fire, would they have a fire company sent out a truck...
Jennie Toomey: Yes, there was somebody came from - where did that fire company come from?
Joe Toomey: Well, tell them about the Morgan's fire that I reported.
Jennie Toomey: Yeah, there was a fire up the road here, what year was it?
Joe Toomey: Fourth of July, 1932 or '33, we established.
Jennie Toomey: I don't know where the fire people came from ...
Joe Toomey: They came from in town, 'cause there weren't any volunteer fire companies out here then. What happened was, that fire, was right up here, right below Hagee's, where Coley du Pont is now, there were two other homes in there, and they caught on fire. At the time we were up visiting with her father in the house across from Hagee's and I discovered the fire and walked up and saw the smoke coming up. And her brother, Jack, was living there at the time and I ran down and told him and he had to run from the house to the top of Rising Run Lane - had little things that you struck to call the fire department. The fire department had to come from in town - there was no volunteer fire companies out here then, so that's where they came - tried to put out that fire. Well, they were unsuccessful because the homes burned to the ground. [Laughter] Foundations are left up there now, that's all.
Johnson: Was there a telephone nearby then where they could...
Jennie Toomey: The only telephone was in Hagee's, at the post office. Anybody 'round in the neighborhood that got a telephone call, somebody had to go chase, hunt them up, and they'd go up there and get...
Joe Toomey: Yeah, but I think at that time, when that fire took place, Hagee's was not a post office, that was closed.
Jennie Toomey: No, there was no...
Joe Toomey: There was no telephone there then.
Jennie Toomey: No, but after, I don't know when they started the post office up there. That place of Hagee's at one time, the post office was in there, and the grocery store was on one end, there was a barber shop on the other end, all in the one room. You had to go there to get your mail. That's what Mr. Laird asked me about, he wanted to know how this house got number 164 on it. I said I had no idea. Well, he had this story, he wrote me a letter last week and I called him yesterday and talked to him. He has had a stroke, he's very hard to talk to. Somebody told him at one time that my husband, that was called Jake, Jake was standin' here - you had to go to the post office for your mail. Well, then they decided to deliver mail and none of the houses around here had numbers on them, and they decided to give the houses numbers. This was Mr. Laird's story, I don't know where he got it. They come down to number these houses and they asked Jake, my husband, what number he wanted, and they said they were going to make it Number 13. At that time, I came home from the market - I said I didn't want to live in a house with the Number 13. So the man, whoever it was, said to Jake, "How much money have you got in your pocket?" And he said, "Dollar sixty-four cents", so they numbered it 164. [Laughter] I told him yesterday, I said it's a good story, I never heard it, but it's a good story.
He makes up a book every year, we have them there, I wanted to show you. Every year at New Year's he makes up this book. One time, one of them is about all the saloons that used to be around here. One's about the iron bridge, and he's making up his book for New Year's 1986, which he gives out to all the ladies, you know, when they go around visiting, which they don't do any more. But I get one every year, he gives me one every year. So, he's trying to get started on next year's book. So I called him yesterday and I told him, I said I never heard it. He said, "Were you comin' from the market?" I said, "I probably was - I don't remember it. It sounds like a good story if you want to put it in your book, go ahead."
So then he asked me who run the store up there and I said Simon Dorman. He said, well, would he have anything to do with putting the numbers on here. I said, "No, he wouldn't have anything to do with it." So I don't know who ever numbered them, or why they ever started with 164 and went up the hill. Nobody knows, I guess, nobody ever will know, now, I guess.
Johnson: Did you ever hear of the custom of putting a piece of turf on the fireplace mantle for good luck?
Jennie Toomey: We never had a fireplace, so I don't know.
Johnson: Then most of the houses didn't have mantles, then?
Jennie Toomey: Just had coal stoves mostly.
- Family books and related Toomey family history; her visit with relatives in Ireland in 1979; her father's Irish brogue and his membership in the HiberniansKeywords: Ancient Order of Hibernians; Bible records; Emigration and immigration; English language--Accents and accentuation; Family Bibles; Genealogy; Irish immigrants; local characters; Men--Societies and clubsTranscript: Johnson: Did you have any books in the house that you thoughts highly of - like a family Bible or any...
Jennie Toomey: Oh, yes, we always had a family Bible, and we all had our own prayer books, special prayer books, you know. And if we didn't get to Mass on Sunday, if you said you were sick, weren't able to go to Mass, you had to go to your room and read the prayers for Mass.
Joe Toomey: Well, I have the two books. In my research that I'm working on right now, I have the two books right out here on the table that were in this house when my Mother moved here in 1920, and I've been able to determine that one of them belonged to Timothy Toomey, my great-grandfather, who came from Ireland, came up to the powder mills in 1870, went to work there, belonged to him. And the other one belonged to Daniel Toomey, my grandfather, the one who was killed in the explosion in 1915. They have a lot of family history in there. They were prized books as far as they were concerned.
Johnson: Were these family Bibles? Were these Bibles that they wrote the family ...
Joe Toomey: They're sort of a religious-type of book, they're not a Bible per se...
Jennie Toomey: They have birth certificates, and marriage certificates and records.
Joe Toomey: They have parts of the Bible all through them, but it's not really a Bible.
Jennie Toomey: When I married, the Toomey family lived here, five boys. I married the oldest of the five and moved in here and took care of the rest of them. The youngest was ten years old. I had a big heart [laughs].
Joe Toomey: That's the one, there, and you see, here, that's Mary Toomey, she says, Brandywine. She was the wife of Timothy Toomey - he started working at Hagley in 1872, was born in Ireland in 1850, my great-grandfather.
Johnson: Do you know anything about his life in Ireland - was he recruited to work here, do you know?
Joe Toomey: That's what I - I go back to 1850, I don't know exactly where in Ireland he came from. We know where the Thompson's, my mother's side of the family came from.
Jennie Toomey: They came from Dublin.
Joe Toomey: Came from Dublin - she still has relatives there. As far as the Toomeys are concerned, they're all gone, there's nobody - I'm the oldest Toomey living now and no one knows where in Ireland they came from, so I'm trying to trace it back. I do have a Toomey connection in County Cork, where my Mother says they came from. Eventually I hope to find out more about the Toomeys.
Johnson: Do you think you might go to Ireland sometime?
Joe Toomey: Perhaps, that'll be the next move, if I can find out exactly where they came from. I know there is a Toomey rooming house, right now, in a little town in Kent County Cork. Spelled the same way. I have the address, and if I can get more concrete information I'm going to write to them and ask them if, perhaps, they are a part of our family.
Johnson: It's really fascinating to trace your family like that.
Joe Toomey: So, that's one of the books that we have here, and then we do have - that book that Doreen has, my daughter has, that is a Bible.
Jennie Toomey: Yes, it's a Bible.
Joe Toomey: It's much larger, and she displays it in her living room. See, this has a lot of family history in here. See, there's a copy of their marriage in 1874. And I have the one for Daniel Toomey, my grandfather, in the other book. Same information is in there.
Johnson: Were they married in St. Joseph's here?
Joe Toomey: Yes, they were all married in St. Joe's.
Jennie Toomey: So was I.
Johnson: Really a valuable thing to have. Thank you.
Joe Toomey: He had it up in the church records, too, I'm going back up there for more of those.
Johnson: It's really an interesting book.
Joe Toomey: Well, they've been sitting up in the closet, there - nobody ever looked at them.
Johnson: Yes, isn't it nice that you got them and they were saved this long.
Jennie Toomey: Yeah, they were there for a long time and nobody ever looked at them. Joe started...
Joe Toomey: I've gotten forty or fifty hours' work into what I've been doing so far. I started on what was supposed to be just a family tree, reconstructing the Toomey side and the Thompson side of the family. And the first idea was just to go with dates of birth and where they came from and bring it right on down to the present generation - my generation. And go to hunt, but then I got into the birth dates and then marriage dates and the date of death and...
Jennie Toomey: One thing leads to another.
Joe Toomey: I've been down to the Wilmington Library and up to the cemetery and into the church records and Hagley's records and picking her mind on a daily basis almost, and so I've been working on that one for about three months, and just today I gave...
Jennie Toomey: The first of the year you started on...
Joe Toomey: The first of twenty pages of typing for my daughter to do, to bring it all together. One thing led to another, and I'm still not finished.
Johnson: You can just keep going on and on.
Joe Toomey: Well, I hope to get back to the Toomeys in Ireland eventually, that's what I would really...
Johnson: Yes, that would be really nice to take a trip to Ireland.
Joe Toomey: Well, my mother talks, she was telling you about being over there to Ireland in 1979, and so, while she was there - now she knows very little about her side of the family except her father. She thinks there was a brother came from Ireland with him, named Mike, who went to New York to live and we are pretty positive of that part of it. But outside of that, she knows very little about their family.
She and my cousin went over to Ireland in 1979 - spent two weeks over there. She visited some of the family, some of her relatives there, and never asked them one word about the Thompson family. [Laughter] So I tried to get her to write to a cousin over there now about what she knows about the Thompsons over there. She was going to do it, and about two weeks ago I said, "When did you write to the Thompsons in Ireland?" "Well, I decided not to do it," she said. So I said, "Well, you give me their address" and she gave me their address, and I quickly jotted down a letter and mailed it off to Ireland to tell me, please tell me about the Thompsons in Ireland, since my Mother forgot to ask when she was there in 1979. [Laughter]
Jennie Toomey: We visited so many people that...
Joe Toomey: She got reminiscing about other people and forgot all about the Thompsons while she was there.
Johnson: Interested in living people.
Jennie Toomey: Yeah. We were there for two weeks. And my niece is a nun and we rented a car, you know, and we drove. We visited all these people and all these places and I...
Joe Toomey: Well, her father's side of the family came, her name was Bonner, her side of the family came from Ireland too, but a different part of Ireland, northern Ireland in their family. So she was interested in finding out about the Bonners while they were there, and my mother was too busy swapping tales about some man named Mike Scully [Laughter] who's picture I happened to find in her records last Sunday and I come in here and said, "There's Mike Scully, don't mention his name again to me, I don't want to know anything about Mike Scully, I want to know about the Thompsons."
Jennie Toomey: This old woman I was talking to, this Mike Scully was a friend of my father's and we hated him. He was an old bachelor and every...
Joe Toomey: You couldn't have hated him too much, you took his picture.
Jennie Toomey: Every time he come around he'd have something to be sewed on, a button or something' to be sew on and my father would make us do it, you know. And this old woman we were visiting, she said she had just buried her husband a few months before that and she said, "I don't think I'll ever laugh again", and then she went on talking. And I said, "Did you know Mike Scully?" She said, "Indeed I did." I said, "Wasn't he a pain in the neck?" She said "Huh, huh, huh" - she started laughing. [Laughter]
Joe Toomey: So that's what she did in Ireland, swapped stories like that instead of asking about the Thompsons.
Jennie Toomey: I never thought of asking about my father.
Johnson: Were you aware of accents and foreign languages in this community when you lived here?
Jennie Toomey: Nobody ever paid any attention to anybody.
Joe Toomey: Well, nearly everyone was Irish - your Father...
Jennie Toomey: There might have been some Italians around, but everybody spoke English.
Joe Toomey: There were some Italians, but mostly Irish.
Joe Toomey: Or with the Irish brogue, you know. I know I had a difficult time understanding him, you were used to him, but I wasn't.
Jennie Toomey: You were what?
Joe Toomey: Your father, with his Irish brogue, I had an awful time understanding him.
Jennie Toomey: Oh, and I said to him when we were talking about my father, I said my father never had a brogue, you're crazy. [Laughter] I never knew that he had a brogue, I never noticed it.
Joe Toomey: I couldn't understand a thing he was saying, but she was so used to it, you know, that it came natural for her.
Jennie Toomey: I love the Irish brogue, Scottish, too.
Johnson: It seems as if children don't speak quite the way their parents do, either, they learn it from other children.
Jennie Toomey: They what?
Johnson: They learn more from talking to other children than from their parents.
Joe Toomey: Oh, language changes. Even today, you don't understand what they're talking about, you gotta, you need an interpreter, all the slang terms they're using.
Johnson: You mentioned the Hibernians in our first interview. Did your father belong to the Hibernians?
Jennie Toomey: Yes, my husband belonged to them.
Johnson: Where did they meet?
Jennie Toomey: Up at St. Joseph's, in the hall at St. Joseph's.
Joe Toomey: I remember them, [Pierre?] Ferrara, and all of them belonged to that.
Jennie Toomey: Oh yeah, when a lot of people - all the men of the parish practically belonged to it.
Joe Toomey: They sat as a group in church on Sundays all the time. I guess once a month, maybe, it was, I don't know. They had a ribbon they wore.
Jennie Toomey: Yeah, they wore ribbons.
Joe Toomey: They sat in one particular section of the church every Sunday. What they did outside of that, I don't know.
Johnson: Well, I think your mother said they arranged the picnics that they had on...
Jennie Toomey: Oh yeah, they had a picnic every year. That was up where Hallock's house is now. Kesus Wood, I don't know who Kesus was, must have been somebody lived there, that's what they called it at one time.
- Her father's cuspidor; Valentines ; memories of Mary du Pont Laird and working in several du Pont family homes; discussing the pamphlets put together by W.W. Laird, Jr. annually for du Pont family New Year'sKeywords: Darning eggs; Du Pont family; Henry Clay (Del. : Village)--Buildings, structures, etc.; Laird, W. W. (William Winder), 1910-1989; Laird, William W., Mrs., 1878-1938; New Year; Spittoons; Trestles; Valentine's Day; ValentinesTranscript: Johnson: Did you go on sleigh rides when you were young, that is a sleigh pulled by a horse?
Jennie Toomey: No, I was never in one, I don't think. I don't think anybody around here had one.
Joe Toomey: Didn't have any horses.
Jennie Toomey: No, nobody had a horse. [Laughter] To pull them. We sled - plenty of sledding.
Joe Toomey: You went on skates...and walked.
Johnson: And they really didn't have big roads here either, because of the hills I guess.
Joe Toomey: And you know those landings, like Barley Mill and Breck's Mill and Rising Sun, they had like flat places, you know, that was for the horses to rest on as they were going up the hill.
Jennie Toomey: They took those out, though.
Joe Toomey: No, there's still there, you go up Barley Mill right now, the bumps are, that's what it is, where the horses were, mainly for the horses to rest.
Jennie Toomey: What did they call them?
Joe Toomey: I don't know.
Jennie Toomey: They had a name for them.
Joe Toomey: Just stops, I don't know.
Jennie Toomey: I don't know, I forget what they call them.
Johnson: Can you remember if your father had a cuspidor in the house?
Jennie Toomey: Oh sure. Smoked a pipe all the time.
Joe Toomey: Right by the dining room table on the floor, is where he had it.
Jennie Toomey: We had to empty it and clean it every day. [Laughter]
Johnson: Was it a brass one?
Jennie Toomey: I don't remember what it was.
Joe Toomey: Yes, it was brass, I remember it, sure.
Jennie Toomey: Oh, we hated it.
Joe Toomey: I was eighteen years old, I was nineteen years old when her father died, so I knew him very well.
Jennie Toomey: Yes, he smoked a pipe all the time and we had to clean that darned thing all the time.
Joe Toomey: I've got a picture there, taken with him, was 84, was 80, in 1943 and I was 18 years old then. Was taken over in Walker's Bank. He died two years later. Oh, yes, he had a brass cuspidor, kept it right by the dining room table.
Jennie Toomey: Yep.
Johnson: Did you darn socks for your father?
Jennie Toomey: Oh sure [laughs]. You either darned them or went with your toes sticking out. You didn't throw it away like you do now.
Johnson: Do you have one of those eggs that you...
Jennie Toomey: Yes.
Johnson: Did you pass around valentines in school?
Jennie Toomey: Yes.
Johnson: Did you make them yourself?
Jennie Toomey: Yes, everybody made their own, nobody had the money to buy any, no, you just made up your own, with whatever paper you could scrooge from someplace.
Johnson: Do you remember anything you...
Jennie Toomey: No I don't remember anything about them.
Johnson: Did you have any special boyfriends or anything when you were...
Jennie Toomey: Not in school, not while I was in the eighth grade, I got to the end then I did.
Johnson: What would you do on a date with boys, do you remember that?
Jennie Toomey: Take a walk, mostly, just take a walk. Nobody had money for movies or anything. Maybe go buy an ice cream cone at the stores, or something like that, that was about all you could do.
Johnson: Was Mrs. Laird a nice person, I remember you said she made you, or paid the children to pick up the tin cans.
Jennie Toomey: Yes, Oh she was a lovely person, yes, Mr. Laird's mother, she was a grand person, yes.
Johnson: Was she kind of fussy though, would you think?
Jennie Toomey: No, well I guess she got tired lookin', everybody just threw everything out in the run, you know. And then they put the sewer in, so she wanted the run cleaned up. And she gave anybody - they got a penny a can for picking them up. Some men did it too, as well as children, picked them up and cleaned the place all up.
Joe Toomey: Mrs. Laird used to ride around in an electric automobile.
Jennie Toomey: She what?
Joe Toomey: She came down here, used to come down in her electric automobile.
Jennie Toomey: Yes, she had an electric...
Joe Toomey: Battery operated automobile.
Jennie Toomey: All of them did, her sisters, all of them, Mrs. Copeland and Mrs. Carpenter and Mrs. Laird, they were all sisters. And they all had electric cars.
Johnson: What year was that, do you know?
Jennie Toomey: I don't know.
Joe Toomey: Early 30's, I remember her doing it, coming down this hill and inspecting her home, she owned on Breck's Lane, and she inspected, she used to drive down and turn around and come back. This was two-way at that time and she would drive down here and go back up again in the electric car as we called it - battery operated.
Jennie Toomey: Yeah, Mrs. Sharp and Mrs. Copeland and Mrs. Laird and Mrs. Carpenter all had those electric cars. They were all sisters.
Johnson: Do you remember ever visiting any of the du Pont houses? Did you ever go up there?
Jennie Toomey: Mrs. Laird, yeah, I worked in several of them. I worked in Laird's and Carpenter's, those, and Mrs. Ross' recently.
Joe Toomey: Mrs. Laird's, old Mrs. Laird, Chick Laird's mother, you worked for the family home up here.
Jennie Toomey: Yeah.
Joe Toomey: And you worked for Chick Laird, you worked for...
Jennie Toomey: Yeah, I worked for Chick Laird and I worked for Letty Laird, Mrs. Downs, do you know Mrs. Downs? Have you ever met Mrs. Downs? She's a lovely person.
Joe Toomey: Rosses, you worked, for forty years you worked in Ross'.
Jennie Toomey: Yes, I worked at Ross' for forty years, off and on, doing substitute cooking, when the cook was off, I went in, every Wednesday and every other Sunday.
Joe Toomey: Well, and you worked up at Greenewalt's, you work up there?
Jennie Toomey: Oh, yeah, one time. When Mrs. Greenewalt was first married, she didn't have any help and I used to go in and cook for her once in a while.
Joe Toomey: He was President at one time, Mr. Greenewalt was President of DuPont.
Jennie Toomey: She has that Alzheimer's disease, or whatever it is, now. Mrs. - what's her name? Greenewalt - not Mrs. Greenewalt, no, Mrs., the one lives up here by - she's Irenee's daughter, but anyhow I forget her name now. I can't think of it. I know it well enough, but I just can't think of it now. Is that all the questions you have?
Johnson: Just about, I mean if you remembered anything about those people, or the relation between the workers and the du Pont family.
Jennie Toomey: No.
Joe Toomey: Alfred I., sure you do, about Alfred I. and the picnics and the boat...
Jennie Toomey: Oh, yeah, Alfred I. used to run a picnic every - a boat ride.
Johnson: Yes, you did tell me that.
Jennie Toomey: I told you that before, I think, and I never got on one. I was either nursing the baby or having one. [laughs]
Johnson: Oh, and about crime - do you remember any stories about crime? Did they have any problems, did anyone...
Jennie Toomey: No, nobody had any problems around here.
Joe Toomey: Fist fight was the basic crime.
Jennie Toomey: Maybe somebody get in a fist fight, you know, but nobody ever owned a gun or a knife, or anything like that. Did Hagley know about those, all the saloons that used to be around here?
Johnson: Well, I think they have a general idea of most of what they were.
Jennie Toomey: One of those books tells it.
Joe Toomey: Do you have any more questions?
Johnson: No, this pretty well covers it. Thank you.
Jennie Toomey: [Looking at W.W. Laird's annual New Years' pamphlets] That's about the iron bridge, I guess they know all that, don't they?
Johnson: I don't know if they do, or not.
Joe Toomey: He may have gotten some of that from Hagley's records, even to do it. I don't know where he...
Johnson: I think that probably some people know things that other people don't know very much about.
Jennie Toomey: That's the one about the saloons.
Joe Toomey: All the old taverns around here.
Johnson: Now are these the books that Mr. Laird puts out - you were telling me about?
Jennie Toomey: New Year's.
Joe Toomey: He puts them out annually, put them out. He always brings one to my mother, brings it personally to her.
Johnson: Isn't that nice. Oh, you were telling me about New Year's, too. Was that a custom to go around and call people?
Jennie Toomey: Well, that was the rich people, wasn't the poor folks. [laughter]
Jennie Toomey: Yeah, well that was a custom of du Pont - that came from France - on New Year's Day. The women stayed home - the men all went around and visited and took gifts - box of candy, or a little basket of fruit, or something. And they've stopped it now, but Mr. Laird still puts these books out every year for it. And there may be a few of the younger, the younger ones, too much for them, they gave up on it. The older people didn't want to do it anymore and the younger people didn't want to be bothered. It's a lot of work, whoever had the receiving end of it, you know, it was a lot of work.
Johnson: Now, I think Mrs. Mary Sam Ward has worked for the Museum, so they...
Jennie Toomey: What was it?
Johnson: It says that he wrote this book with Mrs. Mary Sam Ward and she works for the Museum.
Joe Toomey: He may have gotten a lot of that from Hagley.
Johnson: Yes, so they probably do know about it, but it's a very nice book.
Joe Toomey: I imagine some of these pictures are right from Hagley's collection too. I looked at the pictures they had up there and I didn't see these. I didn't see that one up there.
Jennie Toomey: What is it, one of the taverns?
Johnson: This is Henry Clay Village with the Rockford Tower in the background.
Jennie Toomey: Oh, yes.
Johnson: I've never seen that picture.
Joe Toomey: No, I don't know where he got that one.
Jennie Toomey: How about that long picture, Joe, where is it?
Joe Toomey: Well...
Jennie Toomey: I wonder if they have one of those up in Hagley? No, it's not in that drawer, it must be in the other one. I had everything out of that - Crissy had everything out of that drawer Sunday.
Johnson: Really a pretty calendar.
Joe Toomey: Put everything together and then she shifts it on me and I can't find...I think Hagley has this picture.
Johnson: Yes. Do you know the date of this picture?
Jennie Toomey: That's what the creek used to be like, all these houses. This is where the houses burnt down.
Joe Toomey: Wait a minute, wait a minute...Somebody got a snarl in it, or something...burned down. Of course this is trolley track, and Hagee's is up in here.
Jennie Toomey: See, these are all houses, all around here. This is Long Row up here and this is the house that is still up there, the stone house.
Joe Toomey: See, this is where the original DuPont Experimental Station was, right here.
Johnson: Oh, right there.
Joe Toomey: Like down in here, this is our house, this is the house that is right here next door and those two homes up in there. Yeah, that's where...
Jennie Toomey: On the other side of the creek is a lot of houses, too.
Joe Toomey: It's still there. See, there's a train running...People get the trolley and the train confused...
Johnson: Did you have to cross under this to get to school when you were walking to school, would you go under the railroad track?
Joe Toomey: Walked through the woods...see the bridge was right in back of our house.
Jennie Toomey: Went up through the woods.
Joe Toomey: I've got a picture right here, show you...in fact it's in that book...
Jennie Toomey: My roses are gettin' a little tired lookin'. My granddaughter brought them to me Sunday for Valentine's Day and these, too. These have held up good, but the roses are a little tired. There were six of them - I had to throw three of them out.
Johnson: But roses never last as long as the other flowers.
Jennie Toomey: No, they don't last as long.
Johnson: The last time I was here you had some forsythia that you were forcing in...
Jennie Toomey: Oh, yes, we do it every year.
Johnson: You haven't started yet?