Interview with Edgar Dill Peoples, 1988 April 2 [audio](part 1)

Hagley ID:
  • Early life and childhood; parents and family; life in Squirrel Run; uncle's death in a powder mill explosion
    Keywords: accidents; Atlas Powder Co.; DuPont; explosions; Hagley Powder Yard; Ireland; parents and siblings; Squirrel Run
    Transcript: Johnson: It is April 2, 1988, I'm interviewing Edgar Peoples at his home in Wilmington, my name is Dorothy Johnson.

    Peoples: Glad to meet you, Dorothy.

    Johnson: Glad to meet you too. I'm going to begin by asking you to tell me your name, your name.

    Peoples: Edgar Dill.

    Johnson: And your age?

    Peoples: Ninety — well I'll be ninety-four in June.

    Johnson: And your address is 15 Lore Avenue in Wilmington.

    Peoples: That's correct.

    Johnson: And in which village did you live in the powder yards?

    Peoples: I didn't work in the powder mills at all.

    Johnson: You didn't work there?

    Peoples: My Father did.

    Johnson: What did your father do there?

    Peoples: He worked in one of the mills.

    Johnson: Do you remember which mill it was by any chance?

    Peoples: He worked there for a while, but you see — my Mother's brother was blown up in the powder, and my Father got out after that.

    Johnson: I don't blame him. Do you know what mill he ran before he got out?

    Peoples: I don't know the number of the mill, but for a while my Father was running two at a time, because one motor run two mills. My Pop was put on two mills at one time.

    Johnson: Were they grinding mills?

    Peoples: Yes. Grinding Mills. Yes, they had big plates. You know I was sent out to be Chief Clerk on a construction job out there for the building of the powder mill, for Atlas Powder at that time. For Atlas, u— huh.

    Johnson: What year was that?

    Peoples: Oh about, now you got me. that was about... That wasn't too long ago,

    Woman: That would be like 1923 I would say.

    Peoples: What was it?

    Woman: About 1923.

    Peoples: About 1923. Now when you were a child, where did you live? I lived in Squirrel Run.

    Johnson: Squirrel Run — and could you tell me how many years you lived there?

    Peoples: I lived there six years. old when they left there. I think I was six years

    Johnson: Yes, and you were born, then, in 1886, is that right?

    Peoples: 1884.

    Johnson:1884, and do you know - what name did your house have in Squirrel Run, or just which house was it, could you tell me that?

    Peoples: I can tell you — well from the top going down, we lived in — let's see there was Hardwick, and [Conseno?], another one and then us, fourth house up and down the hill.

    Johnson: Do you remember - what was your father's name?

    Peoples: Robert.

    Johnson: And do you know when he was born?

    Peoples: He was born in Ireland, I don't know exactly what date.

    Johnson: Born in Ireland. How about your mother's name, do you know her name?

    Peoples: Maryanne

    Johnson: Was her maiden name McElhanney?

    Peoples: Correct, correct.

    Johnson: And where was she born?

    Peoples: She was born in Ireland.

    Johnson: You wouldn't know what date she was born though?

    Peoples: I don't think so, I don't have any idea, it was pretty well back.

    Johnson: Then how many brothers and sisters did you have?

    Peoples: I had two sisters.

    Johnson: Do you know their names?

    Peoples: Yes, Emily and Jessie.

    Johnson: Emily and Jessie - and do you know the boys' names?

    Peoples: Yes, I can.

    Johnson: Okay, tell me.

    Peoples: It was John, Robert, me, Edgar, Ernest, Bill, Austin.

    Johnson: And you're the only one left?

    Peoples I'm the only one left of the whole crowd.

    Johnson: Did any of them work in the powder mills?

    Peoples: No, not any of them, not any of them, just my Father. See he came over from Ireland to get a job over here and that's what they gave him.

    Johnson: Now by any chance, do you know how he heard of the Company — did they have a man come to Ireland and tell him about the jobs that were here?

    Peoples: Now the way they told my — I don't know how that happened, but the way my Father come over, his sister and his brother— in-law wrote to him, told him to come over. And when he got over here, my Mother hadn't been married, and they fell in love and got married. So that's the way that worked.

    Johnson: Now his brother worked in the mills, is that right, in the powder mills - your father's brother, he was working?

    Peoples: Oh my Father's brother — he didn't work in the powder, but he worked in what they called the tin shop.

    Johnson: And so he wrote and told your father about it in Ireland?

    Peoples: Yes, that's right, that's right. Because my Father wanted to come to this country because jobs were scarce in Ireland.

    Johnson: Yes, they were having a hard time there.

    Peoples: Yeah they were, they had a famine over there.

    Johnson: Do you remember anything — did they bring anything with them when they came that they would have had around the house?

    Peoples: I don't think they had a whole lot to bring, I don't know what they brought.

    Johnson: Now somebody told us that her father brought a trunk with him.

    Peoples: That would be possible.

    Peoples: Yes, and that had their, you know, the base of their home. That must have been that old trunk we had up in the attic there one time.

    Woman: Not ours, but there was a trunk, I remember.

    Peoples: I'll bet that was the trunk.

    Woman: I think Emily had it, I remember.

    Johnson: Now they also ask your grandfather's name and your grandmothers' names, would you know those by any chance?

    Peoples: My Grandfather's name was John and I don't know about my Mother's father's name was.

    Johnson: You would never have met them would you, you never went back to Ireland did you?

    Peoples: I went over there.

    Johnson: You did go?

    Peoples: I was one year old, my Mother took me over.

    Johnson: Oh, is that right.

    Peoples: She said I was a crabby kid (laughs).

    Johnson: She took you...

    Peoples: She said I cried all the time (laughs). No wonder, they were having a lot of fun and I wasn't in it.

    Johnson: Yes, that must have been hard on you too.

    Peoples: Well I was just a little baby.

    Johnson: Yes, going on the ship and all. Did she tell you anything about your grandparents later on - what you had seen there?

    Peoples: Only that they were lovely people, she didn't say a whole lot about them. I should have gotten more from them, but it seems to me when you're growing up you're not interested in that sort of thing.

    Johnson: That's right, that's exactly right. that, they don't... Everybody says Now I wish I had asked.

    Woman: He had uncles that came over here and told you about...

    Peoples: Huh?

    Woman: You had uncles that came over here and told you about Ireland — remember?

    Peoples: I don't remember.

    Woman: You uncles? Yeah, they talked about...

    Johnson: Which was the uncle who got blown up in the powder?

    Peoples: That was my Mother's brother.

    Johnson: Yes. Do you know why he got - what caused the accident or anything about that? Did they say what caused that accident?

    Peoples: I got a little bit of a snack of that. My Mother and brother were standing in the doorway of his mill and he was talking to some men outside. And all of a sudden — boom. And they found part of his body up in the trees across the creek. It was pretty sad.

    Johnson: Yes, that must have...

    Peoples: Just found fragments of his condition.

    Johnson: Was he married at the time?

    Peoples: Yes he was.

    Johnson: Yes - it must have been very hard on his family.

    Peoples: Oh yes. Yes he had some children.

    Johnson: Did they give the children a job then, or anything as they got older?

    Peoples: Well you see, I think the mother had compensation from DuPont. I don't know how much that was, but I think she was taken care of pretty well. Back then the things were pretty cheap.

    Johnson: I guess you might not remember it — how much rent your parents paid or anything like that?

    Peoples: It wasn't very much I'll tell you that. I really couldn't tell you, but it was very small.

    Johnson: You were only six at the time.

    Peoples: Oh yeah, it's too far back for me to remember it.
  • Weekly routine; cleaning and cooking; DuPont worker gardens and food; doing laundry
    Keywords: childhood; Diamond Bridge; food; gardens; Irish Stew; laundry; potatoes; Squirrel Run
    Transcript: Johnson: Now they want to know something about your weekly routine as you remember it when you were a child.

    Peoples: My weekly routine?

    Johnson: Weekly routine — like cleaning and cooking. Do you remember your mother cleaning the house and what it was like?

    Peoples: Oh — we only had one stove to heat the house and one stove to cook on. And I don't know - I don't know how they cleaned the place, I wasn't interested.

    Johnson: And it must have gotten pretty dirty. Do you remember if it had two stories or one story?

    Peoples: It had two stories, but very skimpy, very skimpy.

    Johnson: And do you know where you slept?

    Peoples: I couldn't tell you. I can tell you where I slept when I moved down to Wilmington, but that's all. Then I was about six years old or something like that.

    Johnson: You were very small at Squirrel Run.

    Peoples: I don't remember up there though.

    Johnson: Do you remember the run that was there?

    Peoples: Yes I do, oh yes — Squirrel Run?

    Johnson: Right. Did they warn you against playing in that — did they warn you not to play in the run?

    Peoples: No, no - they weren't careful about those things back in those days.

    Johnson: So you could play.

    Peoples: Yeah, they wouldn't be today. But it was good, clear water though. It still runs through there I think.

    Johnson: Yes it does.

    Peoples: I think so. Then there was a bridge across the run, it was called Diamond Bridge.

    Johnson: Yes. Have you been back to see that bridge since then?

    Peoples: Oh yes. My brother took us up there. The houses are all gone at that time, but then he took us on up to Hallock du Pont's home, and it was very interesting. But all those houses have been torn down. He wanted it that way I guess.

    Johnson: Yes. And I guess if they didn't live there anymore, one they didn't work in the powder, they didn't need the houses.

    Peoples: That's right, if you didn't work in the powder, you might as well get out. That's what my Father did.

    Johnson: Left (laughs). When you see somebody get blown up like that.

    Peoples: He didn't want any part of it, he was a chicken, I'd be the same way.

    Johnson: Yes. Do you remember what the bridge looked like when you were...

    Johnson: Yeah. Did they change it at all?

    Peoples: It was just a bridge - it wasn't any wider than - well I don't think any wider than this room, just a small bridge across, because a lot of people lived on the other side. I remember those homes over there too.

    Johnson: Do you remember the names of any of the people?

    Peoples: Some of them, yeah.

    Johnson: Tell me what they are.

    Peoples: Well there was the McDowells on the first place and then comes my aunt, but I don't remember any more, just a couple of them. And then there was... Now what was... Pardon?

    Johnson: What was your aunt's name?

    Peoples: Which one (laughs)?

    Johnson: Well the one you were just thinking of in Squirrel Run.

    Peoples: Oh — her name was Hannah - Aunt Hannah, and it was her husband that was blown up.

    Woman: She lived to be a hundred.

    Johnson: Is that right! Did she stay there, or did she move to Wilmington? She stayed there as far as I know, she didn't move away I know, no she stayed there.

    Johnson: Would she take in boarders then?

    Peoples: No, no. DuPont's must have taken care of her pretty though. Of course her mother lived there too. I remember her, her name was Dill, that's what my middle name is.

    Johnson: Yes. What do you remember about them, do you remember anything that those — did they cook things that you enjoyed or anything like that?

    Peoples: As far as I know - to tell you the truth, at my age I wasn't fussy. Maybe I was fussy, but certain things I didn't like. I didn't like oatmeal and stuff like that.

    Johnson: I didn't either.

    Peoples: Now I love it.

    Johnson: Do you remember if they had a garden around the house?

    People Yes, my Father - you see DuPont's allotted a certain amount of ground to all the employees, and my Father had quite a sizable plot. It was about — oh an eighth of a mile away from the house. I remember he used to ask us to go up there and pull those weeds and we hated it.

    Johnson: Yes, because it's always so hot when you have to weed.

    Peoples: But he — you see the Irish liked potatoes. In fact they had a famine over there one time because they didn't have any potato crop. So when my Father came to this country, all he could think about was potatoes. So we had potatoes, potatoes.

    Johnson: Well he grew his own then. Do you know what kind he grew by any chance?

    Peoples: No I don't know, guess any kind.

    Johnson: He wouldn't have brought any seed from Ireland I guess.

    Peoples: That's right. No he wouldn't bring his seed with him. I. I guess you wouldn't remember where he got his seeds or anything, cause you were so young.

    Peoples: No, I couldn't remember that. No, I didn't remember much of anything, only certain things.

    Johnson: Well you were small. How did your mother cook the potatoes?

    Peoples: She always boiled them, always boiled the potatoes. We didn't have much of an oven.

    Johnson: You peeled them first and then boiled them.

    Peoples: Either way. You know the Irish like skins and all.

    Johnson: (laughter) I think I heard a saying about it. Would you eat butter on them then?

    Peoples: They're good that way, butter and salt.

    Johnson: How about - did your mother make Irish stew?

    Peoples: Oh yes she did. Mom was a pretty good cook for the family she had, you know, she had to be very careful, because she had to pinch.

    Johnson: Sure, with that many children. Did the men come around selling things at that time?

    Peoples: Oh yes. Used to be a lot of people come up there — meat men, grocer and stuff like that.

    Johnson: When she made Irish stew, would she buy lamb for that or beef?

    Peoples: She used to buy a bone (laughs).

    Johnson: That was it — you don't know what kind of bone it was - lamb bone?

    Peoples: I don't know what it was.

    Johnson: Whatever they had.

    Peoples: Just so it was a bone.

    Johnson: I think it adds to the flavor though, it gives it...

    Peoples: Oh Mom had a hard time of it, yes. One time I told her, I said, "Mother, let me go out and try to do the wash." So she prepared all the tubs and every thing and I got out there and started it and I got about halfway through and had to quit. Course I was only a youngster.

    Johnson: But that was hard work. And she had to fetch the water from a pump, right?

    Peoples: Oh yeah. It was quite a job. See in those days you had to get over the board and wash the clothes this way, didn't have any machines.

    Johnson: Now did your father help her get the water the night before?

    Peoples: I guess he did. I hope he did anyhow. I know I didn't.

    Johnson: Well if you were little — some people say the wives got it, that they enjoyed getting it because they met the other wives there, but then some fathers helped, it all depended I guess.

    Peoples: What was that again?

    Johnson: Some of the Wives enjoyed getting their own water because they would meet other people there to talk to, so it worked out both ways.

    Peoples: Oh yes, that's right.

    Johnson: Do you remember when you helped with the garden, did you have a hoe or anything to work with? Or did you just have to bend over with your hands?

    Peoples: Pull them out this way.

    Johnson: Did they grow anything else besides the potatoes?

    Peoples: Mostly potatoes. Pop used to grow a lot of potatoes.

    Johnson: How about onions, would they have onions?

    Peoples: Not that I know of, the only thing I can remember is the potatoes.

    Johnson: Tomatoes, would they have... Tomatoes?

    Peoples: I don’ t remember that either. As I said before, the only thing I remember is potatoes.

    Johnson: You liked them. Cause they hated to pull those weeds. I did too, I was too young to do much of anything.

    Woman: Oh yeah, I'd have to mash.

    Johnson: Do you remember, if you used to sit out on the porch at night...

    Peoples: What porch?

    Johnson: At Squirrel Run, you wouldn't remember this porch? They did have a porch on the house?

    Peoples:I don't remember a porch. I just remember a pair of steps going down.

    Johnson: Did they have a shed where you'd store things like coal?

    Peoples: Yes, they did have that. They did have a shed.

    Johnson: How would you store the potatoes in the wintertime?

    Peoples: Pop used to store them underneath this — wasn't exactly a porch, but it's like a — in the front of the house it was, underneath in front of the house he stored them. They seemed to keep pretty good, I don't know — I was too young to know to know whether they kept or not.
  • Games and recreation; buying shoes; taking the trolley into Wilmington
    Keywords: boating; games; Rising Sun Trolley; shoes; Street-railroads; swimming; trolley; Wilmington, Delaware
    Transcript: Johnson: Do you remember any games that you played when you were little - games that you played with the children?

    Peoples: Did you ever hear of Deck on Davey?

    Johnson: No, tell me about that (laughter).

    Peoples: Well you see we couldn't afford to buy anything to play with, so they used to take a can and put stones in the can and then lock the stone inside the can and they'd sit that can up on another big can, and you'd stand back at a certain distance and see who knocks it off first. It was a lot of fun, though, we used to do it even at night.

    Johnson: Oh that's great, we don't have that game yet.

    Peoples: We didn't know any other games.

    Johnson: Around here kids play Kick the Can, I guess it's a little like that, but not something we had. Did you play Hide and Seek?

    Peoples: Oh yes.

    Johnson: Or Run Sheep Run?

    Peoples: Run Sheepie Run, yeah.

    Johnson: Now, were you allowed to play in the powder yards when you were little?

    Peoples: No, you weren't allowed in there. No, the only place you were allowed was right outside the powder mill. You know the entrance to the powder mill, you know where that is, don't you?

    Johnson: Right.

    Peoples: Well right down from that is the creek. Well that was called the Point, and that's where I learned to swim. My brothers took me down there and that was a great swimming hole, right there by the entrance to the powder yard.

    Johnson: And did they have a little beach out there that you

    Peoples" Holy smoke, no (laughs). You'd have to walk half a mile to get to — what they called Dick Devattis Grocery Store.

    Johnson:Oh — now some lady talked about Poor Man's Beach — did you ever go there?

    Peoples: I've heard of it.

    Johnson: It was just down a little ways I guess from the powder yard entrance.

    Peoples: I've heard of it.

    Johnson: What did you wear when you went swimming?

    Peoples: I didn't wear much of anything, I was barefoot. I took my shoes off, I guess about this time of year, I never put them on again until about, well, November maybe.

    Woman: She meant a bathing suit or anything like that. Probably just your underwear.

    Peoples: We didn't know what it was to step on a piece of glass, your feet were so hard that you didn't notice it. It didn't bother you, u-huh.

    Woman: He didn't understand that, probably. Yes. What you wear when you went in swimming, what did you wear?


    Woman: Did you go in with your pants on or did you take them off?

    Peoples: We didn't wear anything.

    Woman: I knew you had told me that.

    Johnson: The boys and the girls didn't swim together, isn't that right?

    Peoples: You see — they had a - it was back there so nobody could see anyhow, if they did they were too nosey, I didn't think they would want to see anything.

    Johnson: Did you go up and down the creek in a boat ever?

    Peoples: Yes, that's another thing — most of these powder workers, a lot of them, an awful lot of them, lived across the creek, and every one of them had a boat. And in the morning, to go to work, they all got in their boats and came across to the yard. And many a time as a little fellow, I sat in that boat to fish, and all I would catch would bit a little bit of a minnie about that big, but oh I got thrilled.

    Johnson: Did you take them home to your mother?

    Peoples: Oh no (laughs) — it wasn't my Mother, it was my aunt, she used to keep me over there a lot. My Aunt Lizzie — her father used to run the power for the yard.

    Johnson: Now what was her last name?

    Peoples: Krouse, he was a Dutchman.

    Johnson: Did you ever go ice skating in the wintertime?

    Peoples: Yeah, but I couldn't keep my skates on, I never had a decent pair of skates. Was a little fellow you know. I used to hook them onto the shoe, but the shoe was so worn out no skate would (laughs).

    Johnson: Where did your mother buy your shoes, did she take you downtown, or did somebody come around or did you just get the hand-me— downs?

    Peoples: Well we only needed the shoes in the wintertime, you know, but I don't...

    Woman: Where did you get them - where did you mother get them?

    Peoples: I don't know where she got them, I guess she got them in town. Once in a while she used to take us in town and I guess she got them in town, wherever she got them, I don't know.

    Johnson: How would she go, would you go on the trolley?

    Peoples: Yes, they had trolleys at that time, but they also had horse trolleys. I don't know how I got in there, but I got in there. She used to take us to Fourth and Market, and I think she used to set us up to a little bit of ice cream or something or other.

    Johnson: Yes, that was the best part.

    Peoples: Yeah, it was. We looked forward to that.

    Johnson: Tell me about the ice cream, what was it like?

    Peoples: Ice cream?

    Johnson: Yes.

    Peoples: Oh, it was just ice cream, that's all I know, they only had one flavor — I think it was vanilla.

    Johnson: Yes. Did the trolley run right into Squirrel Run, do you remember that?

    Peoples: Did which?

    Johnson: The trolley, did it run right into Squirrel Run?

    Peoples: Oh no, oh no, no, no. No the trolley didn't go in there at all. She had to walk, we had to walk to the trolley. That was up on Rising Sun Lane. You know where that is, don't you?

    Johnson: Yes, right.

    Peoples: It was up at the top of Rising Sun Lane, that's where the station was. That's where the car stopped, then it used to go down to Seventeenth Street and on in Delaware Avenue.

    Johnson: That was a long walk for you.

    Peoples: Yeah, we used to walk to the trolley from Squirrel Run.

    Johnson: Now you didn't go to school when you lived in Squirrel Run, right?

    Peoples: Oh no, I was too young.

    Johnson: So that you - I couldn't ask you how you went to school from there.

    Peoples: No, no.
  • Morning routine at home; clothes; going to church; breakfast foods; raising chickens and a cow; laundry and ironing; memories of stiff collars; evening routine
    Keywords: bathing; bed; breakfast; celluloid shirt collars; chickens; church; clothes; cornmeal mush; cows; ironing; laundry; oatmeal; prayers; religion; stiff shirt collars
    Transcript: Johnson: Do you remember who got up first in the morning in your house?

    Peoples: I'm sure my Mother did. I'm sure she did.

    Johnson: And I guess by that age you would have gotten up by yourself, she wouldn't have had to wake you up?

    Peoples: I guess I'd have to. I don't remember putting my clothes on though (laughs).

    Johnson: Do you remember where your clothes were kept — did they have a closet?

    Peoples: Yes, we had a closet, yeah. Wasn't very fashionable, but we had a closet.

    Johnson: Do you know what your clothes were like — would you wear long pants or short pants or those knickers that just came to the knee?

    Peoples: Well, I think I just wore whatever they had (laughs) I don't know what that was either.

    Johnson: How about church on Sunday, would you have to get dressed up for church?

    Peoples: Oh yes, that's one thing about my parents, especially my Mother, she was quite religious. Mother took us all — we all had to sit in the pew no matter what, no matter how young we were, we had to sit in that pew. You see up on the front of the church, they have a lot of writing up there. We kids used to sit there and guess how many "A's" are in it or how many "B's" and so on (laughs). We didn't know anything about the priest.

    Johnson: But you were quiet. What's the church that you went to?

    Peoples: It was training, anyhow. Mom trained us when we were kids, and that's the way it should be.

    Johnson: And it's nice for the people who go to church with you. Nowadays some children squirm...

    Peoples: Oh yes, she had to lug us along.

    Johnson: What was the name of the church, do you remember?

    Peoples: Green Hill — you know where that is, don't you?

    Johnson: Yes, I do. Now did you walk up there?

    Peoples: Yes, that's quite a walk too.

    Johnson: Would you have to wear shoes on Sunday?

    Peoples: Yes we did, but I don't know what kind they were.

    Johnson: And did you have a Sunday suit or anything that you remember like that?

    Peoples: Oh I had a — once I had a picture — is that picture still... I don't know even what you‘ re referring to. A picture of me and my brother. I don't know where that picture is. But I did have a nice little suit.

    Johnson: If you ever came across the picture and had a chance to show it to the people at the Museum, they'd be interested in how it looked. Do you remember how you sat at the table — would you have certain places to sit at? Would you sit in the same place every day?

    Peoples: You were lucky if you got a seat at all (laughs).

    Johnson: Did you sit on benches or chairs?

    Peoples: Yeah, I think we sat on benches, yeah I think we sat on benches.

    Johnson: And you said you didn't like oatmeal. I hated oatmeal. I love it now.

    Johnson: What did you have for breakfast then?

    Peoples: Back then?

    Johnson: Yes.

    Peoples: Well we'd have oatmeal, we'd have cornmeal - cornmeal was quite a dish. You liked that. I asked my wife to get some cornmeal and darned if she'll get it.

    Johnson: How would you eat the cornmeal? Would it just be like a cereal, or would you fry it?

    Peoples: Just make a mush out of it, she called it cornmeal mush. It was very good. I'd like to have some now.

    Johnson: Did you have sugar on it?

    Peoples: A little bit, yes.

    Johnson: A little milk?

    Peoples: Yes.

    Woman: He grew up totally different. later. Mine was many years later.

    Peoples: Well she was a pretty good kid, though.

    Johnson: Now how about lunch, do you remember, did you have lunch? Lunch — we didn't know what that was.

    Johnson: Dinner... Oh, you had dinner.

    Peoples: We always had dinner at lunchtime. Dinner at noontime. We had supper later on, if there was anything left.

    Johnson: Did your father come home for dinner?

    Peoples: I don't think so, no, he carried a little lunch with him.

    Johnson: Did you bring his lunch to him at the mill?

    Peoples: I wouldn't be allowed in the yard.

    Johnson: Would somebody bring it up to the gate, maybe?

    Peoples:No, never did that. He just had to take it. He always had his lunch box.

    Johnson: Do you remember what you would eat for dinner?

    Peoples: What we ate for dinner?

    Johnson: Besides the potatoes, and the stew with the bone in it.

    Woman: Probably lots of chicken.

    Peoples:Yeah, we had a lot of chickens.

    Johnson: Now did you raise your own chickens? Mother raised chickens. Also raised a cow.

    Johnson: Oh, is that right. And where did you keep the cow?

    Peoples:In the backyard.

    Johnson: Did you have to milk that cow?

    Peoples: My Mother could milk it. I went out there and started - the cow — plop.

    Johnson: She knew you weren't your mother.

    Peoples: Mom could really milk a cow, oh she really could. And she used to churn it and make butter.

    Johnson: Where would you keep the butter after it was done?

    Peoples: You telling me, I don't know.we haven't started yet. Don't go away, Ruth.

    Woman: I see the mailman — you're on your own.

    Johnson: Anything else that your mother made, do you remember besides...

    Peoples: Pardon?

    Johnson: Did your mother make any things - when you had a birthday, would she make you a cake?

    Peoples: Oh, she always had something, I don't know what it would be, but she would always remember you, yeah. She was a good Mom. She raised an awful lot of kids, that was awful hard job.

    Johnson: And milking a cow beside, and doing the wash. How about ironing, do you remember her ironing?

    Peoples: Yes. She had - you see back in those days you had to iron everything almost, not today.

    Johnson: Yes. But those shirts would get all wrinkled up. She did iron, but she had to put the iron on the stove, you know, heat it.

    Johnson: Would she have two irons so that she could heat one and then...

    Peoples: I think she did, one on the stove and one she used.

    Johnson: Do you remember what your father's shirts were like, did she have to iron his shirts?

    Peoples: Oh, I couldn't say, I couldn't say. I know one thing, I didn’ t like the stiff collars you used to have to put on. You know back in those days kids used to wear celluloid collars, that's awful dangerous. I don't remember using them myself, but they did have them in those days.

    Johnson: Well I guess it saved laundry, that was one thing.

    Peoples: Oh yes, yes that's right.

    Johnson: It was so hard to wash, that probably that was you remember any of your friends that you played with when you were little?

    Peoples: Only one little girl friend. I was bashful, you know. Oh she was a nice girl. What was her name? And she says, "Speak to me." She says, "Now or never." (Laughter) I think it turned out to be never. She was an awful nice kid. They lived next door to us when I moved down from Squirrel Run. This is when I wasn't in Squirrel Run, I moved down. They lived next door to us. Her name was Benson. Her father had a shoe store down in Dover, and they moved to Dover. That was the end of it — that was the end of it. So — now or never — it worked out.

    Johnson: Did they say Grace when you had dinner?

    Peoples: Yes — I don't remember that we always did, because they were too anxious to get something to eat. Oh, they didn't get that set, did they?

    Woman: No, junk mail, all junk. What do you mean. Oh, I gave it to the mailman, is that what you mean?

    Peoples: Did you give it — oh good, that's good.

    Woman: That's why I went out there.

    Peoples: That was my income tax. This is a bad week for people. I got tired doing it myself, I just turned it over to Mark, and got rid of it.

    Johnson: It's different this year, too, than it was. It's more confusing. Do you remember what time you had to go to bed?

    Peoples: Oh, I'm too old to tell you that, I don't know.

    Johnson: Would you wear pajamas when you went to bed?

    Peoples: I don't know whether we wore anything or not.

    Johnson: Did you have to brush your teeth?

    Peoples: I think we did, but... I. Don't remember why.I don't think we always did it, though.

    Johnson: Wash up, did you have to wash your face and hands?

    Peoples: Oh yeah, you see we had to wash in the tub, to take a bath.

    Johnson:How often did you take a bath?

    Peoples: Oh, twice a week, maybe.

    Johnson: And did you take turns with it?

    Peoples: You had to, you had to get out and say, "Now it's your turn."

    Johnson: And how did you heat the water?

    Peoples: On top of a stove. My Mother used to — had a big boiler, you know, and she had it filled with water about that deep. She used to lift it hot off the stove, on a chest like that, and dump it in the tub. Oh she had a hard life.

    Johnson: Yes, and that was dangerous too.

    Peoples: You don't know what it's like, today — and they grumble like the dickens.

    Johnson: We get to wash the dishes at the Museum — and they have a house there that they've restored, they call it the Gibbons House, and we get to wash the dishes, but we have to go outside, bring the water in, heat it on the stove, and then we go home and we're so happy to have running water. We don't appreciate it until we don't have it. Did you always say goodnight to your parents before you went to bed — did you kiss them goodnight? Did you have to say your prayers for your mother?

    Peoples: I think we thought a lot of them, but I don't think we did that. We did say our prayers, though, I can remember that. those prayers today. I still say one of them.

    Johnson: Do you remember what it was, can you say it for me?

    Peoples: Yes. Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep, If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take. I always remember that, and I always say it.
  • Traveling and visiting family; going into Wilmington: going to school
    Keywords: Alexis I. du Pont School; Amusement parks; Brandywine Springs; church; Diamond Bridge; Krauss family; Squirrel Run; trolleys; Wilmington, Delaware
    Transcript: Johnson: Thank you. Do you remember going to visit friends and relatives on a trip?

    Peoples: I always went to see my Aunt Lizzie, which lived across the creek. I always - they were nice people. They had — they were all girls - oh, they had a brother, John. Do you remember John Krauss?

    Woman: No.

    Peoples: He was very active in this church right out here, the Faith Presbyterian Church, he was very active in it. At his death, they filled the place. He was an awful nice fellow.

    Johnson: Was he older than you?

    Peoples: Oh, yes, yes he was. five years or more. He must have been older by.

    Johnson: So I guess he would tell you about things when you would go Visit then, too. Yes, they were awful nice people. very religious. They were very-

    Johnson: And did they go to Green Hill with you at that time.

    Peoples: Pardon?

    Johnson: Did they go to the Green Hill Church with you on Sundays when you all lived there in Squirrel Run?

    Peoples: Well no, since they lived across the creek, I don't know just exactly how they did get to church, but they had to go over and across Diamond Bridge and on up. But I think they did, though. I can't remember that. There's a lot of things at my age, pretty hard to remember.

    Johnson: Do you remember going to any other places, like downtown Wilmington or to visit people in...

    Peoples: Once in a while maybe once or twice a year, Mother would take us downtown and set us up, maybe some ice cream or something or other.

    Johnson: You don't remember going to any places like Brandywine Springs or Riverview?

    Peoples: Yes I went there. But probably that was when you were older. Yes, they took us out there. We rode the trolleys at that time. Remember the summer trolleys?

    Johnson: Yes, the no sides. Yeah. Were they pulled by horses at that time?

    Peoples: No, no they had the electric trolleys.

    Johnson: Yes, that was later.

    Peoples: I don't remember the horse cars at all. Or I guess my Mother does, I'm sure she did.

    Johnson: When the peddlers came around, like the people who brought the meat or the ice or the coal, would they have a horse? For their wagon?

    Peoples: Well there wasn't anything but horses in those days, so that's what they had to have. I saw the first automobiles.

    Johnson: And when did they come in?

    Peoples: The first automobiles I saw, they were owned by du Ponts - Madeline du Pont and Bessie du Pont and they both had a - one you steered this way. And that's the first one I saw.

    Johnson: Did they give you a ride in it?

    Peoples: No — I didn't know them.

    Johnson: I thought maybe they'd give children rides if they saw them. '

    Peoples: I think they would, though, if they knew you, I think they would. That was Alfred I.'s daughters.

    Johnson: I guess he was pretty nice and people liked him.

    Peoples: Yeah — I can remember when I went to school, I went to kindergarten at that school out the pike, you know.

    Johnson: Alexis I.?

    Peoples: The du Pont — Alexis I. — well Alfred I.'s home is about halfway to the school, and we had to pass his home and to heat his home, he had an outside furnace and he had a stoker, a man to keep that going. And we kids going to school would always halfway there, and warm ourselves, and go on to school.

    Woman: Do you want to turn it off and have a little inter- mission and a cup of tea?

    Peoples: Oh, is this the intermission?
  • Christmas; Duke the pet dog; Thanksgiving
    Keywords: Christmas; dogs; pets; Squirrel Run; Thanksgiving
    Transcript: Johnson: Could I ask you about Christmas, what do you remember about Christmas.

    Peoples: Cooking?

    Johnson: Christmas in Squirrel Run. Did you have a Christmas tree then?

    Peoples: Yes, we always did. We always went out somewhere and cut one. We always had a Christmas tree.

    Johnson: Did you cut it on the DuPont property there, or just out in the woods?

    Peoples: Well if it was on DuPont property, we go it. I really don't know where they got it, but they went out and got a tree somewhere.

    Johnson: Did your father go with you, or your brothers?

    Peoples: Yes, Pop used to go with us.

    Johnson: And do you remember how big the tree was, would it be...

    Peoples: It wasn't very big, wasn't too big. We didn't have too many things to put on it, so it wasn't too big.

    Johnson: And he knew about how tall the house was inside, so it wouldn't be a problem.

    Peoples: Oh yes.

    Johnson: Because sometimes you see a tree all bent over. When you put things on it, would you make the ornaments — did you make those paper chains?

    Peoples: We used to make things to put on the tree, you mean?

    Johnson: Yes.

    Peoples: Oh yes.

    Johnson: Do you remember anything you made or what it was like?

    Peoples: No I don't remember that. I was a little too young to fool with sort of thing.

    Johnson: Did you remember what the tree stand was like. did they have a wooden thing that they put the tree in?

    Peoples: Oh, my Father made something. He had a stand like this, that block was that big, the next block was this big, the next block was that big, and then he had a hole in the center. He made it himself.

    Johnson: Did you put water in there?

    Peoples: No. I. No, just the stiff tree.

    Johnson: Did you have lights on it?

    Peoples: Lights?

    Johnson: Yes, that is, candles. Would you put candles on your tree?

    Peoples: Oh no, wouldn't dare put a candle on it.

    Johnson: Most people were afraid of the candles.

    Peoples: Oh, I would be, especially with us kids. We'd like to see it burn.

    Johnson: When you disposed of the tree, would you burn it outside?

    Peoples: Yes, we'd take it off somewhere and burn it where it was safe.

    Johnson: Did you have tinsel on it?

    Peoples: Tinsel - yes, yes. Anything that wasn't expensive, we'd had on there alright.

    Johnson: Would it be the kind that you'd wrap around from the top to the bottom?

    Peoples: Yes.

    Johnson: And was it silver colored?

    Peoples: Yeah, I think that adds to the tree.

    Johnson: Did they have a star for the top?

    Peoples: They had something at the top I know, I don't know what it was.

    Johnson: Did your Mother buy those glass balls?

    Peoples: If she did, I don't know where she got it.

    Johnson: How about toys, did they give you boys for Christmas?

    Peoples: Oh yeah, and no matter what we got, we were just crazy about it.

    Johnson: Do you remember anything that you got?

    Peoples: Nothing to wear that I can remember.

    Johnson: I think children don't enjoy that as much. How about toys, did you have any toys that you remember?

    Peoples: If they were, they weren't very expensive. We had to live sort of hand to mouth back in those days.

    Johnson: Yes, they didn't have stuffed animals they way they do now, I guess.

    Peoples: Yeah we had, but they weren't very good.

    Johnson: How about tin soldiers, would you have anything like that?

    Peoples: Not that I remember.

    Johnson: Little cars that you pull around?

    Peoples: No, I don't remember it.

    Johnson: Did your sisters have dolls?

    Peoples: A dog, you say?

    Johnson: A doll, did they have dolls for Christmas?

    Peoples: I don't remember that, if they had a doll.

    Johnson: They probably wouldn't have let you boys play with them anyway. Well as long as we mentioned. dogs, did you have a dog?

    Peoples: Back when I was a kid, there was a man came home from the war and he brought with him this little dog. It had a real curly tail, little bit of a dog. I remember its name.

    Johnson: What was his name?

    Peoples: It was called Duke. And we praised that little dog. He gave it to us. He came home from the war.

    Johnson: Did he get it in Europe?

    Peoples: I don't know where he got it, I was too young to know where he got, but we got it anyhow.

    Johnson: What color was Duke?

    Peoples: I really don't know the color, either. He was a little bit of a dog, though, with a little curly tail.

    Johnson: It might have been a Fox Terrier.

    Peoples: Oh, no, I don't know what he was. Could have been. I never saw one like it, haven't seen one since.

    Johnson: Did you feed him whatever you ate at the table, just scraps?

    Peoples: Oh I don't know whether he ever got any — wouldn't be anything left. We probably put a plate down, let him like it or something like that.

    Johnson: And could he run around — all around there, you didn't have to worry?

    Peoples: I guess so, I don't know. I just remember Duke.

    Johnson: Did your mother like him?

    Peoples: Yes, she did.

    Johnson: Did you have a cat?

    Peoples: No.

    Johnson: Did they have any trouble with rats and mice?

    Peoples: Mice — if we did, I didn't know it. They probably did.

    Johnson: Sometimes they had a mouse trap or something, but you wouldn't remember that as a youngster. How about Thanksgiving, do you remember that? Did you have turkey?

    Peoples: Well, we always had — you see, my Mother raised chickens, and she probably...
  • Memories of daily life; chores; social clubs; Alfred I. du Pont orchestra; Halloween and tipping outhouses; Fourth of July celebrations
    Keywords: Fourth of July; Halloween; laundry; outhouses; social clubs; water
    Transcript: Johnson: It's the Museum's recorder.

    Peoples: You mean to tell me I'm going to be in the Museum?

    Johnson: You're going to be in the Museum (laughter). This is your chance to be remembered.

    Murphy: Give them something to laugh at anyhow.

    Johnson: Well, that's the only way they know what life was like there, by talking to the people who lived there, it all happened so long ago now.

    Peoples: Oh, it was pretty tough, I'll tell you. See. to get the water to do the wash, you had to carry it from a pump. And that pump was almost a block away. And later they installed a spring - they had a spring up the hill, rather, and they run a pipeline down to almost where our house was, with a regular spigot on it. So that relieved the situation very much.

    Johnson: I should say so.

    Peoples: I remember that spring, it was very good water.

    Johnson: Did your mother collect rain water to...

    Peoples: She had a rain barrel. Yes, she used to use that for wash too, you're right. And it used to fill that barrel up, you're right.

    Johnson: Would that water be softer, did she say?

    Peoples: That's true.

    Johnson: Do you remember what kind of soap she used or any- thing like that?

    Peoples: Soap?

    Johnson: Soap — did you have soap, what kind of soap? You didn't have soap, okay.

    Peoples: Soap — I'll have to call my Mother up and ask her if she had any soap (laughs).

    Johnson: Some people made their soap, but I don't think...

    Peoples: I know they did.

    Johnson: ...your mother would have had to, because they had something...

    Peoples: I don't know what she did, but we wore — whatever cleaning she did, we wore.

    Johnson: How about the floor, did she have to scrub the floor in the house, remember that?

    Peoples: Nobody else would do it but her.

    Johnson: Was it a wooden floor?

    Peoples: I think it was, I'm pretty sure.

    Johnson: Some of them had linoleum.

    Peoples: No, things were very scarce back in those days.

    Johnson: And you don't remember anything like a rag rug or a braided rug?

    Peoples: No I don't.

    Johnson: Do you know if your father belonged to any social groups like Odd Fellows or the Masons?

    Peoples: No, no he didn't.

    Johnson: Didn't go to meetings of any kind?

    Peoples: No he didn't. He didn't take time to go to those things.

    Johnson: I guess he kept pretty busy.

    Peoples: He was busy all the time.

    Johnson: When he worked, and then came home. Do you know if your sister or your brothers belonged to any clubs or went to any group meetings?

    Peoples: Well, my brother was a Mason, that was Robert, and John belonged to something in connection with the railroad, I don't know what it was. And I didn't take time for anything. I used to play the violin a little bit.

    Johnson: Oh, now did you know anybody in Alfred I. du Pont's orchestra?

    Peoples: Du Pont orchestra? No I don't.

    Johnson: So that you wouldn't have known about that.

    Peoples: No.

    Johnson: How about Halloween, what did you do on Halloween?

    Peoples: We used to dress up in crazy clothes and go out and raise the dickens.

    Johnson: What were some of the things you did?

    Peoples: I hate to tell you.

    Johnson: I think I know.

    Peoples: We used to dump over these (laughs).

    Johnson: The outhouses.

    Peoples: They were an ornery crowd, but they didn't mean any harm.

    Johnson: Didn't hurt anybody.

    Peoples: No, just had to put them up, I guess.

    Johnson: Where was the outhouse at your house, do you remember using that?

    Peoples: Yes, it was about - if it was real dark at road, you had to cross the road, and down an alley, and it was about 75 feet from the house, something like that, it was out front.

    Johnson: That's a funny place. A. Yeah, down an alley, between the shed where we kept wood and stuff.

    Johnson: Did they have a walk on it, a wooden walk that you could walk on?

    Peoples: Yeah, it had a walk on it. It was pretty good that way.

    Johnson: Who cleaned it, do you remember that?

    Peoples: Not me!

    Johnson: Somebody said the Company came around and cleaned them out.

    Peoples: I don't really know, but you have to have it cleaned.

    Johnson: Oh yes, and you had to do your own. Did they have any parades that you remember?

    Peoples: Not on our street, no, not in Squirrel Run.

    Johnson: How about Fourth of July?

    Peoples: Well, just like any other place — back in those days there was no ban on fireworks or anything, and there used to be quite a bit of that going on around there. Didn't have any of these sky rockets and things likethat, mostly noise.

    Johnson: Do you remember a picnic, did they have a picnic?

    Peoples: Yes. The picnic was organized by the Catholic church up on what they call Kee's Hill, where Hallock du Pont's house is now? And they used to have a dance floor and a regular set— up for Fourth of July. Yeah, I canremember that 'cause we kids used to take some of those boards before they put them together — we'd put them up a tree and slide down them.

    Johnson: Oh, what fun.

    Peoples: Yeah, I can remember that.

    Johnson: When you got there, did you have things to eat?

    Peoples: They had something to eat, we didn't get anything.

    Johnson: You probably didn't...

    Peoples: We kids weren't invited. We'd snoop around maybe.

    Johnson: Yes. I guess they had a band then when they had the dancing.

    Peoples: They had something, I don't know what it was, I think it was one of these accordions or something.
  • Swamp Lily Club; DuPont's 100th anniversary; more on celebrating Christmas; father's hand made sleds; naming of Breck's Mill; sledding on Breck's Lane
    Keywords: Breck's Mill; Christmas; DuPont; Flexible Flyer; handicrafts; Kee's Hill; repairs; scones; sledding; sleds; Swamp Lily Club
    Transcript: Johnson: Do you remember something called the Swamp Lily Club?

    Peoples: Oh, Swamp Lily, yeah — that's what I say, that was right across the road from my house. My Uncle John, his son now owns Connelley's Paint Store, his name is Bob, but my Uncle, his father, was quite a boxer and in this Swamp Lily room they had these shows at times. And his father used to knock the dickens out of them. He was a big man.

    Johnson: And did they charge for people to come in?

    Peoples: No, not that I know of, no I don't think so, I think it was just a club. The called it the Swamp Lily Room — right across — it was a stable like, I forget who owned it, but it had horses and so forth in there.

    Johnson: It was upstairs, then, that they had the shows?

    Peoples: Yeah, upstairs. Of course there was a road in the back and you come into it. That was right across the road from my house.

    Johnson: Would they have danced in there too?

    Peoples: Not that I know of, I never heard of it. Just a little roughhouse, I guess.

    Johnson: Now somebody said that they burned some of the barns, I think it was Mrs. Lattomus said that they burned some barns and she thought the Swamp Lily Club was burned when they burned the barns. Maybe this was after you left Squirrel Run.

    Peoples: I don't know about that.

    Johnson: She thought it got burned later. Do you remember the DuPont Company having a hundredth anniversary?

    Peoples: The hundredth anniversary?

    Johnson: Yes, that would be in 1902.

    Peoples: I remember something about it. I think that was up on Kee's Hill too.

    Johnson: I think so.

    Peoples: That was right in back of my house. I remember something about it, but not much. It was kind of similar to the one that the Catholic church put on up there. Maybe I have them balled up, it might have been the DuPont thing instead of the other.

    Johnson: I think they probably were a lot alike, because the DuPont people had put up their dance floors and they may have done...

    Peoples: Yeah, they used it for both occasions.

    Johnson: Right, but at different times. What do you think was the most important holiday when you were little — would it have been Fourth of July or Christmas, what did people look forward to?

    Peoples: Well, I guess Christmas was the most important of them all, yeah Christmas I guess. Fourth of July was a lot of fun back in the days when you could have fireworks and so forth.

    Johnson: Did you ever have any fireworks of your own that you set off?

    Peoples: Very little, very little. The kind that I had you could almost hold in your hand.

    Johnson: You didn't have friends that brought in things that would scare you?

    Peoples: No.

    Johnson: Or your older brothers wouldn't have done anything?

    Peoples: No. They didn't — they weren't into a whole lot until we moved out of Squirrel Run.

    Johnson: They were quite small to really - getting back to Christmas, do you remember when they set up the tree, would you come down Christmas morning and be surprised by seeing the tree?

    Peoples: Yes, See they'd put it up Christmas Eve. And when we come down in the morning, oh my — "Mom, Mom," everybody excited. And what we got was — although we cherished it - it didn't amount to a darn.

    Johnson: It was just the idea. Did you have stockings that you hung up?

    Peoples: Yes.

    Johnson: And what did they look like?

    Peoples: We didn't hang them up, though. I don't remember what they were like.

    Johnson: It wasn't a sock that you'd wear and then hang it up that night?

    Peoples: I don't know that, I don't know. I don't think back in those days you could buy them. I don't know what they were. We set out a plate, you know, on the table. And that plate was what we got, whatever we were going to get was in that plate, but I think there were some stockings.

    Johnson: Did you leave food out for Santa Claus when he came in? Would you have left Santa Claus some cookies and milk or anything?

    Peoples: Oh, I think he'd starve to death.

    Johnson: Did your mother bake cookies?

    Peoples: Yes, I think she did, I don't remember. She called them scone, and I liked them. I tried to get my wife to make them.

    Johnson: Well, they wouldn't taste the same anyway.

    Peoples: But you know, you sort of long for some of the things that you got when you were little fellow. You're that way too, aren't you?

    Johnson: Oh sure. That's what you like the most.

    Peoples: Sure, maybe I wouldn't like them, but I long for them.

    Johnson: Even if you tasted them, they might not really be what you remember.

    Peoples: Yeah, right.

    Johnson: Did these have raisins in, do you remember?

    Peoples: No, I don't think they had, but raisins were pretty cheap back in those days. Must have had raisins, I didn't like raisins in bread back them, now I like them. A lot of things I didn't like back then, now I like them.

    Johnson: You change as you get older. How about coffee and tea, did you drink those when you were little?

    Peoples: I never had coffee back in those days, we kids couldn't have coffee.

    Johnson: Your mother was strict about that. Do you remember anything about the way she took care of children, would she have diapers for the baby, you had a younger brother, would you remember? That's too far away.

    Peoples: I don't know - I changed a few of them myself, but I don't remember back in those days. They must have had diapers, or had to have something.

    Johnson: I guess they trusted you.

    Peoples: Oh, it would be terrible (laughter).

    Johnson: Hate to think about that. Do you remember any houses that were built — houses, did they build any houses?

    Peoples: While I was up there?

    Johnson: While you were there.

    Peoples: No, not a house.

    Johnson: And they didn't tear any down at that time either?

    Peoples: No.

    Johnson: If anything got broken, do you remember who fixed it, would the DuPont Company come to fix it? If anything was broken, like a step broke on the porch or a door got broken, would the DuPont Company come and fix it? Maybe nothing happened that you...

    Peoples: I don't think they would. I don't think they had anything to break, I guess.

    Johnson: How about your father, would he have to fix things?

    Peoples: Yeah Pop was pretty good at it. He made two sleds.

    Johnson: Oh, what were they like?

    Peoples: He made a sled for my sister, and he made one for my brother. And I still can see those two sleds. The one for my sister was long with a couple paddles out that far with points on them. And my brother's wasn't much longer than this thing here.

    Johnson: Well it's nice and hilly on the property, isn't it?

    Peoples: Yes.

    Johnson: So I guess they had fun with those sleds.

    Peoples: Pop used to mend his own shoes, too. I took a shot at it one time and he was proud of it. He showed them to everybody.

    Johnson: What you did. Do you have one of those metal lasts that looks like this with an old shoe shape on it? Where did he get the leather?

    Peoples: That's another one. Well that's when he worked at Bancroft's, see he moved from DuPont and then he worked at Bancroft. And he knew the belt man at Bancroft's and when the belt man repaired a belt, he'd have a certain amount of it left over — that's what went on my shoes.

    Johnson: Oh, that was a good idea. And he taught you how to do it?

    Peoples: Yeah, that's right. He had a regular last to mend shoes with.

    Johnson: Do you remember Breck's Mill at all — what they called the Hagley Community House at that time?

    Peoples: Hagley?

    Johnson: Hagley Community House — they used to have dances and they'd have a basketball...

    Peoples: Oh, what was it called at that time?

    Johnson: Hagley Community House — now we call it Breck's Mill.

    Peoples: Breck's Mill - I didn't — see Breck's Mill was way down at the very foot of...

    Johnson: Yes, you wouldn't have...

    Peoples: In fact of the matter, it was right at the foot of Breck's Lane, right down at the bottom. I didn't know anything of what was going on there at all.

    Johnson: You were too little.

    Peoples: No, I didn't. But — what do they have in that building now?

    Johnson: Well now the Museum has — when they have a group in, they have party lunches — then they leased out the first floor to a consulting firm I think it is, and the top floor is leased by a sculpture. He's a very good sculptor.

    Peoples: You know how those hills got their name? Like Breck's Lane — know what Breck's means?


    Peoples:That's the way I understand it, but when the powder wagons went up the hill, they had a ditch like which they called a break so that when the horses got that far, they had to rest and they'd rest the wheels of the powder wagon in that break, and I think that's why they call it Breck's - Breck's Lane and Barley Mill Lane, and so on.

    Johnson: But I guess if they got too tired, it might be dangerous.

    Peoples: See, it was a pretty hard job for the horses to pull that powder up that hill, and they didn't want any accidents, so they rested in these breaks. That's the way I understand it. And boy, was that good sledding. When you hit those breaks, whew! The first real sled that I saw that was any good, a Flexible Flyer you know, the first one I saw was when I was a little fellow, and I remember the guy that owned it — Tommy Jackson. And I never forgot that sled, boy he just flew down that hill — the first Flexible Flyer I saw. Weren't very many in those days, if any.

    Johnson: Yes, you couldn't steer your sled, is that right?

    Peoples: That's right, you steer — you don't have to do it by yourself, you do it by yourself, but in a different way.

    Johnson: Yes. Well how did you steer your sled, just by leaning your weight — did you steer yours just by shifting your weight some?

    Peoples: With your feet. With your heel — this way and that.

    Johnson: That was hard work.

    Peoples: Yeah, it was hard work.

    Johnson: Was that sled a lot heavier than the Flexible Flyer?

    Peoples: Oh yeah, much heavier. Oh it must have been three or five times as heavy. That Flexible Flyer - they have a lot of them today — it seems like coasting today, isn't the sport that it was back in those days.

    Johnson: Well, with all the traffic there, you know, I don't think there are enough hills, maybe in the parks.

    Peoples: Well the best place to sled, is up Tower Hill, you know where that is, don't you?

    Johnson: Yes, yes.

    Peoples: We used to come down that hill and hit Rockford Road and go all the way down Rockford Road to the entrance to the powder mill. That was a long sled, long ride. I don't know whether they use it now or not.

    Johnson: I guess they'd have to rope it off to traffic if you used it with the sleds.

    Peoples: I suppose so.
  • Grocery stores and shopping; home cooking; neighborhood sounds and smells; picking flowers, mushrooms, and berries; Sears Roebuck catalogs
    Keywords: berries; Blakeley's grocery store; Blakeley's tavern; catalogs; Cavanaugh's grocery store; flowers; hepatica; mushrooms; Sears Roebuck; smells; sounds
    Transcript: Johnson: They want to know if you remember any of the grocery stores that were around there.

    Peoples: Yeah. There was Dick Cavanaugh, and Blakeley's. Blakeley's were just about, well they were between one and the other. I can't just tell you.

    Johnson: They were in Squirrel Run, right?

    Peoples: They were in Squirrel Run. Dick Cavanaugh was a little bit out of Squirrel Run, but he had a pretty good store. That's where the post office was.

    Johnson: That would be the post office for Squirrel Run?

    Peoples: Yes, yes.

    Johnson: Did your mother send you to the store when you were little? Did she send you to the store sometimes, did you have to go for your mother?

    Peoples: Oh yes, but you see, the grocery store was only about - oh two long blocks from my home.

    Johnson: So you could walk there with no trouble.

    Peoples: About two blocks from my home.

    Johnson: Would your mother have gone there often too, or just...

    Peoples: Did she what?

    Johnson: Did your mother go to the store on a regular basis, or would she more likely send you when she needed something?

    Peoples: I really don't know how she got her food to tell you the truth. There used to be an awful lot of hucksters, as they called them. They used to come up to Squirrel Run and sold meat and fruit and stuff like that, and I think she used to buy a lot from those people. And bread.

    Johnson: So she didn't have to bake her own bread, she could buy it.

    Peoples: She used to bake bread — oh she used to bake some wonderful bread. Oh my, you don't get a loaf like that today. This guy next door can bake good bread, oh he can make darned good bread.

    Johnson: It's just that people don't make the effort, I think you can buy it so easily. But there's nothing like homemade bread.

    Peoples: Nothing like good bread. You can't buy 'em in the store, unless you pay a big price for it.

    Johnson: How often did your mother bake bread, do you remember that?

    Peoples: She don't bake any bread, she don't bake bread, she just buys it.

    Johnson: Did your mother make pies and cakes as well as bread?

    Peoples: Well, once in a while.

    Johnson: Yes. How about taverns, do you remember any taverns around there?

    Peoples: Tavern?

    Johnson: Yes.

    Peoples: The only one I can remember is down by Dick Cavanaugh's grocery store. There was a tavern down there.

    Johnson: What was the name of that?

    Peoples: I think it was called Jeff Blakeley's, I'm not sure. That part is very vague.

    Johnson: Do you remember if they had political meetings, like if a man was running for office — sometimes they gave their speeches at the grocery.

    Peoples: Could have, but I wouldn't know, I wouldn't know. They probably did.

    Johnson: Do you remember any sounds that they had in the neighborhood — if somebody asked you what sounds you remember as a child — do you remember?

    Peoples: Signs?

    Johnson: Sounds — like a whistle — would they have a whistle to call people to work?

    Peoples: Oh — I think DuPont must have had something in the yard, I don't know.

    Johnson: But you don't — do you remember hearing a train?

    Sounds: No, I don't remember.

    Johnson: How about the mills, did you hear noise from the mills?

    Peoples: No. Where my Aunt Lizzie lived across the creek, you could hear the mills very faintly, but you could hear them.

    Johnson: And I guess you could hear chickens, if you kept chickens.

    Peoples: Yeah, I guess you did, I don't remember.

    Johnson: What is the worst smell you remember?

    Peoples: Worst snow?

    Johnson: Smell — smell — did anything smell bad?

    Peoples: You say snow or smell?

    Johnson: Smell.

    Peoples: The worst smell I smelled? Boy, I don't know.

    Johnson: The most pleasant smell?

    Peoples: I never paid much attention to smells to tell you the truth.

    Johnson: I guess baking bread smelled very good.

    Peoples: That smells very good.

    Johnson: How about flowers, did they have flowers around the house?

    Peoples: Oh yes - just wildflowers and stuff like that.

    Johnson: Did you ever pick any for your mother?

    Peoples: Oh yes. I used to go back in the woods. I used to like what they called a hepatica. They were scarce, you know, but if you could find a hepatica, you found a prize. So I was more like a girl than a boy at that time, because I really liked the wildflowers. But hepatica is a very scarce flower.

    Johnson: Would you bring that to your mother?

    Peoples: Oh, show it to her, yeah.

    Johnson: Would you ever pick mushrooms in the woods?

    Peoples: I'd pick them on the golf course, and eat them, right on the golf course.

    Johnson: Right there, you didn't bring them home to cook?

    Peoples: No, there wasn't that many. I picked them on the golf course.

    Johnson: How about berries, did you go picking berries?

    Peoples: Yeah, we used to called blackberry pickin'. We used to get a lot of them too.

    Johnson: Did your mother cook them, did she make jam or anything?

    Peoples: She has made it, yes. I'll never forget that - we went out there one time and my sister, Emily, was along with us, you know. I was only a little fellow, but I never forgot it. We jumped over — on the way home, we jumped into this man's orchard to pick up some apples that were on the ground — he jumped on a horse and started after us (laughs).Emily jumped over that fence and tore her clothes. Had a lot of fun though.

    Johnson: Yes. Well, you'd think he'd let you have the apples. Did you have a Sears catalog or any kind of a catalog that your mother could shop with?

    Peoples: Any what?

    Johnson: A Sears, Roebuck catalog or any of those catalogs — you know, the mail order catalogs?

    Peoples: Yeah, but Sears never had any in those days. I don't know whether Sears existed in those days.

    Johnson: Some people remember using them in the outhouse — they'd use them for toilet paper.

    Peoples: Always had a Sears, Roebuck catalog, maybe, if there was one. You remember the guy — he wanted to know where you get toilet paper. He says, "Look in the Sears, Roebuck catalog." “ Oh, if I had one of them, I wouldn't need any toilet paper." (Laughs)

    Johnson: What were some of the ways in which it was expressed to the family and community that a young person was now considered an adult?

    Peoples: I don't know.

    Johnson: Would a young man wear long pants, and then you...

    Peoples: Everybody wears long pants today, even the women.

    Johnson: Would girls put their hair up at that time if they were...

    Peoples: I wished they didn't because I always liked their hair down. I think today, that they have the wrong style for women. I think the women ought to wear their hair back, I really do - all of them, but I guess they think it looks too childish.

    Johnson: It's harder to take care of too.

    Peoples: Is it harder to take care of?

    Johnson: Oh sure, because you...

    Peoples: Oh, I see, I knew there was something wrong with it.
  • Retirement and getting a gold watch; career; tobacco use; doctors; people in Squirrel Run; explosions at Hagley
    Keywords: Atlas Powder; Dr. George Forrest; DuPont; explosions; Freon products; Hagley Powder Yards; retirement; Squirrel Run; tobacco; watches
    Transcript: Johnson: Do you remember if your father had a watch — to tell the time?

    Peoples: Well, he never had one like this. Did you ever see this one?

    Johnson: No.

    Peoples: Look at the face of that watch.

    Johnson: Oh, it's got letters instead of numbers.

    Peoples: What are the letters?

    Johnson: Edgar Peoples — that's your name. You name has just twelve letters in it.

    Peoples: You didn't read the back, did you? You can't read it — maybe you can.

    Johnson: I guess I can't read it, no. Oh, "Freon" products, 1959. Is that when you retired?

    Peoples: Yeah.

    Johnson: That's a beautiful watch.

    Peoples: Oh I had a wonderful retirement-wonderful.

    Johnson: You must have, did you ever...

    Peoples: You know, they called on me, or no, they invited me to one of their regular meetings, you know, and all them salesmen are there, that sort of thing, and when I was sitting there beside the — Tom Johnson, who is the main one in the office, he said, "Ed, I didn't know a thing about it, but I want to say something.” I got up and said, "Well, when I was talking to Bill Quill, I asked him why I was invited to this thing. And Bill said, "Don't you know? They want to give you a hundred shares of DuPont stock. "So the crowd just roared, and after that I told them how wonderful they were. And then I got invited to this party.

    Johnson: That's a beautiful watch.

    Peoples: Enjoyed my last few years at DuPont. Had all the main guys there at the...

    Johnson: How long did you work for them?

    Peoples: Twenty-seven years.

    Johnson: That's a long time.

    Peoples: I worked at Bancroft's for something like seven years, I worked for the Atlas Powder for twenty— eight years I think it was, and then DuPont's thirty— seven years, so I worked a long time.

    Johnson: Yes, you did. How about tobacco, do you remember if your father smoked tobacco?

    Peoples: Yes, tried it.

    Johnson: Do you know what kind he smoked?

    Peoples: What kind — any kind (laughs).

    Johnson: I guess he had a pipe, right?

    Peoples: No - I tried everything, but I said "The heck with this, I'm not gonna smoke,” so I cut it out and thank God I did.

    Johnson: They didn't know in those days how bad it was did they?

    Peoples: No.

    Johnson: Do you remember if there was a wise person that you would go to for advice in the community?

    Peoples: I never needed any advice (laughs).

    Johnson: How about a doctor, did they have doctors come if you were sick?

    Peoples: We had a stinker.

    Johnson: Who was that?

    Peoples: Did you remember the guy that was mayor of our City, Dr. Forrest?

    Johnson: No.

    Peoples: Well he was a stinker. My wife was laying in bed, he gave her up as gonna die and he told my brother that. My brother told me. I said, "Yeah?" So I immediately went down to the doctor. I says, "You're not the last word on this, she's to be put in a hospital to find out what the trouble is.” So we put her in the hospital, and doctor — what is his name? But he says, "Take this girl home and feed her iron. She‘ s very anemic." She came around alright. But that was Dr. Forrest, that was awful. I never forgave him for that. You never know.

    Johnson: Well, it's a good thing you went and asked somebody else.

    Peoples: He was mayor of our City at one time. I hope he hears that on the air.

    Johnson: Okay, it's there. How about when you were little, do you remember a doctor coming to Squirrel Run?

    Peoples: Yeah, it was Dr. Forrest.

    Johnson: Oh, he came to Squirrel Run too?

    Peoples: Yeah, my Mother used to swear by him, but after...

    Johnson: old, doctors aren't...

    Peoples: That's right. Yeah he used to come to Squirrel Run. We didn't know any other doctor, you see, but that's the way it is.

    Johnson: Do you remember why they would call the doctor when they did call one?

    Peoples: Why they'd call him?

    Johnson: Yes.

    Peoples: I never heard of...

    Johnson: If you were going to have a baby, I guess you would call him to help with the baby?

    Peoples: You don't get one to come to your house today.

    Johnson: No. But in those days, would a doctor come if you were having a baby?

    Peoples: Yes he would, indeed he would.

    Johnson: How about midwives, did they have a woman who would help with the babies if you couldn't get the doctor?

    Peoples: Well I wasn't around at that time (laughs).

    Johnson: I don't think children paid attention to those things. If somebody was sick, would a neighbor come in and bring in some food or something?

    Peoples: Well, yes they would. Especially in Squirrel Run, they were nice people up there. They were ordinary people, but they were nice people, they were, they were kindly. Liza MacAdoo lived next door to us and she was a wonderful woman.

    Johnson: Oh - do you remember anything she did?

    Peoples: Well, I just know that she was so kind to my Mother and that sort of thing, but I don't remember anything in particular that she did, I just know that she was a nice person.

    Johnson: Yes. Did they have a neighborhood bully — were any of the children bullies, would you say? Anybody you were afraid of as a child?

    Peoples: Oh, I was afraid of the dark (laughs).

    Johnson: A lot of children are.

    Peoples: I always think somebody was gonna put their hand on my shoulder when I was out in the dark.

    Johnson: Well somebody said it was the fact that they had those explosions, that they were afraid — they associated that with the dark, you know, they didn't know what was going to happen.

    Peoples: Some of those explosions were terrible.

    Johnson: Do you remember any that happened that you remember seeing?

    Peoples: No.

    Johnson: ...and fall off the house or anything?

    Peoples: They only got fragments of my Aunt's husband.

    Johnson: That must have been a terrible thing.

    Peoples: Some of it was up in the trees and that sort of thing. Boy, I'm gonna have — somebody's gonna have a lot of fun.

    Johnson: How did your family feel about progress - did they ever say anything about modern inventions or improvements that came in?

    Peoples: Oh, they had no time for things like that.
  • Fashion; medicine; life lessons; household objects
    Keywords: baby furniture; boilers; cabbage; coffee pots; cosmetics; dishes; fashion; glasses; hats; jewelry; kettles; life lessons; nubbie; oil lamps; prayers
    Transcript: Johnson: It seems like most men wore hats to work, do you remember if your father wore a hat to work?

    Peoples: If he had to work?

    Johnson: If he had a hat when he went to work. A lot of the pictures show hats on the men who were working.

    Peoples: I think men in those days, everybody wore a hat.

    Johnson: And probably your mother did too, when she went out.

    Peoples: I think so, nearly everybody wore a hat back in those days.

    Johnson: Did your mother crochet you a hat for wintertime or anything like that — did you wear a crocheted or a knitted hat that your mother would make when you went out to play in the winter?

    Peoples: No, I don't think so, no.

    Johnson: Did women use what we call cosmetics - would your mother have used rouge or anything like that?

    Peoples: She didn't know what it were.

    Johnson: She was too busy.

    Peoples: Poor soul, she was lucky to get through the day.

    Johnson: Do you know what she wore around the house, would she have a house dress — what she was like?

    Peoples: Is there such a thing called a nubbie?

    Johnson: Oh, I've heard of that. A nubbie was a hat, wasn't it, that they wear with a scarf?

    Peoples: Yeah, yah, she wore something like that.

    Johnson: How about an apron?

    Peoples: She had an apron alright. Oh yes, she really had to have an apron.

    Johnson: Did it tie around her waist?

    Peoples: Yes.

    Johnson: Did it go over the top too — did she have a top on the apron?

    Peoples: I never saw her put it on.

    Johnson: Oh, okay, she'd just come around with it. Was it white? Was it a white apron, white color?

    Peoples: I don't believe I even knew colors at that time. I don't know, just an apron.

    Johnson: They ask here, what would a woman carry in her pockets?

    Peoples: What would a woman carry in her pocket — what pocket?

    Johnson: Okay. You know what Mrs. Toomey said — she said the family jewels perhaps (laughs). And they also ask about a man — what would he carry in his pockets — would he have a pocket knife?

    Peoples: There wasn't any - that's why she carried them in there (laughs).

    Johnson: How about a man, what would he have in his pocket - a knife, pocket knife?

    Peoples: Penknife in his back pocket, yeah.

    Johnson: Do your remember any ghost stories or anything they told like that?

    Peoples: No, no I was just afraid of the dark and that was all I knew about it.

    Johnson: Did many people wear glasses at that time?

    Peoples: Very few, I don't think the optometrist and eye doctors would make any money back in those days.

    Johnson: Right. I don't think they examined the eyes like they do nowadays.

    Peoples: No, I think there was a lot of things that they didn't have that they have today. That's why they live longer today, it's true. They wouldn't go to a doctor or anything, they just died, that's all.

    Johnson: How about the water, did anybody get sick from the water in those days?

    Peoples: Well they must have because Dr. Feltz told me, he said more people get sick from the water than anything else. They don't know what they get, but they get something from the water.

    Johnson: Yes. I think they really have cleaned up the water supply a lot. They didn't know at that time.

    Peoples: A lot of people should boil the water - Ruth boils hers.

    Johnson: Uh-huh — you mean even today?

    Peoples: I don't boil mine - I just live.

    Johnson: How about when people got married, what sort of things would they - would they have to ask their parents' permission, for one thing?

    Peoples: Oh they should, they should ask their advice anyhow - "What do you think, Mom, or Pop?"

    Woman: What in the world am I gonna do with this one, I don't know.

    Johnson: You got another plant, that's pretty.

    Woman: Another one? This is Joanne — Joanne and Jackie and Kathy and Bill.

    Johnson: Oh, it's beautiful.

    Woman: It is - I used to keep my coffee table over here where it belongs and — well, for two years we've been planning to go to Cokesbury and we haven't gotten there yet. But I mean she's made me feel that we're going to be there any minute, you know. So we sold the big television set and I got this little one and thought well I'll just put it on that, it'll only be a few months and then — so I miss it, you know.

    Peoples: How did you get that — at the back door?

    Woman: Yeah — the side door, it must have gone to Nick's and Nick brought him over. It's from Joanne and Jack, Kathy and Bill. Oh, it's very fragrant.

    Johnson: Very pretty. Did your family get a newspaper or magazine?

    Peoples: They didn't have newspaper — yes they did. I don't think we got it while we were in Squirrel Run, but when we moved from Squirrel Run, I used to serve papers. Do you know how much I got for papers — a half a cent a paper. Half a cent a paper, that's all I got. But you know, you could buy a loaf of bread back in those days for something like — oh three or four cents. Now you can get a good loaf of bread, you have to pay about at least fifty or sixty cents — a good loaf.

    Johnson: And just mailing a letter, now it's going to be twenty— five cents. It used to be three cents.

    Peoples: Yeah, things have really changed terrible. They're going up all the time, too, we're having inflation all the time, I don't know where it's going to stop.

    Johnson: How about getting your hair cut, do you remember getting a haircut? When you were little?

    Peoples: Oh, your Father or Mother always did that.

    Johnson: How did they do it, did they have a clipper?

    Peoples: I really don't know, they must have had clippers because I had funny things in my head after they were through.

    Johnson: Did that bother you when you played with the other kids or anything, I guess they were all the same, right?

    Peoples: Did it bother me?

    Johnson: Did it bother you when your hair looked funny - did the kids make fun of that?

    Peoples: Well, I think we wore a hat all the time (laughs).

    Johnson: Well, you answered about ghost stories. Do you remember the most important thing your parents taught you?

    Peoples: Must have been my prayers. I think it was.

    Johnson: Do you remember what was your most cherished possession as a child, if you had a cherished possession?

    Peoples: As a child?

    Johnson: Yes.

    Peoples: I don't know — I didn't play with dolls.

    Woman: I don't think they had many toys, did you when...

    Peoples: I don't know, really, what it was.

    Johnson: How old were you when you got your sled — how old were your brothers — Emily and your brother when they got their sleds — the sleds your father made?

    Peoples: They weren't really old, they must have been seven years old, or something like that, they were real young.

    Johnson: And would you ride on the sleds with them, if they let you?

    Peoples: Yeah, probably did, I don't know.

    Johnson: Are you getting tired, or can I

    Woman: I think he is.

    Johnson: I have a whole list of little things that they have around the house, and if you want to just tell me if you remember. Did your father have an axe?

    Peoples: Have a what? Axe?

    Johnson: To cut wood with?

    Peoples: He must have had.

    Johnson: And did your mother have a coffee pot?

    Peoples: Yes she did.

    Johnson: What was it like, do you remember?

    Peoples: I never paid any attention.

    Johnson: A kettle?

    Peoples: Yes.

    Johnson: You said she had a big boiler, what color was that, the big boiler she'd heat water in?

    Peoples: The boiler? You never seen a boiler, haven't you?

    Johnson: I've seen...

    Peoples: Well, it's about that high and about that wide and about that long, I mean. And it held quite a bit of water. She used to lift that off the stove - she had it on two burners — on her chest like that.

    Johnson: It was scary when you think about it.

    Peoples: Oh, it was really tough.

    Johnson: Did she have a dishpan to wash the dishes?

    Peoples: Oh yeah, you had to have, you'd have to have something like that.

    Johnson: Would it have been enamel, or was it just what they called galvanized?

    Peoples: No, it was galvanized - the best she could get.

    Johnson: How about dish towels, did you have to dry the dishes with a towel?

    Peoples: I don't know what she used. I didn't dry any.

    Johnson: Do you remember anything about her dishes at the time?

    Peoples: Not a thing. All I know is just so you get enough to eat off of whatever they served in. (laughs)

    Johnson: Did she have a big cupboard to keep the dishes in?

    Peoples: I don't remember that.

    Johnson: Probably not a telephone?

    Peoples: No, no telephones. There weren't any up there at that time.

    Johnson: They wouldn't even have had one in the store yet?

    Peoples: I don't think there was any around there at that time.

    Johnson: Oil lamps — did they have oil lamps?

    Peoples: Oh, oil lamps, yes, yes.

    Johnson: Did your sisters have to clean those off, because they would get pretty black?

    Peoples: No.

    Johnson: How about a cabbage slicer — did she cook cabbage?

    Peoples: Cabbage — what about it?

    Johnson: Did she have a cabbage slicer?

    Peoples: Oh, slicer - I don't think so, she used to cut it with a knife.

    Johnson: Highchair that the baby sat in — a highchair?

    Peoples: Oh, highchair - Yeah I'm sure we had a highchair. I must have sat in it too.

    Johnson: You must have, but you don't remember. How about a crib, do you remember?

    Peoples: Well I don't know what they had back in those days, see it was pretty hard living.

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