Interview with Rocco Perrone, 1984 July 10 [audio](part 2)

Hagley ID:
  • His love of hunting and a near-accident with a gun; him and his brother catching 17 rabbits and his mother making polenta and rabbit gravy
    Keywords: Childhood pastimes; Cooking, Italian; Hunting; Hunting guns--Safety measures; Polenta; Rabbits; Shot (Pellets)
    Transcript: Frazier: This is Tape 2. Do you have anything of yours that was a favorite toy when you were growing up - like a favorite possession I would say.

    Margaret Perrone: A gun — gun [laughs]

    Rocco Perrone: Guns — oh, I got plenty of guns.

    Frazier: You learned to use a gun when you were fairly young?

    Rocco Perrone: I think I was about 11 and a half or 12 years old. I used to go down back of Ms. Evelina du Pont. There was pheasants there and rabbits. My father didn't want me to use the gun yet, but I went down with this Edward Zerlino, they used to board in our house, he used to work at the powder yard, he quit at three-thirty, he'd be home about four— thirty. So we'd go down — this one day he had the gun, I said, "What would you do if you'd see a rabbit - you think you could shoot 'em? You think you could hit 'em?” "Why do you say that, maybe you don't have no shell in the gun." And instead of him breaking the gun, he pulled the trigger to break it and the shot went by and burnt my shirt.

    Frazier: Oh my gosh, were you lucky.

    Rocco Perrone: That's how close. I grabbed the gun, I was only a boy, but I grabbed the gun away from him. "You not fit to have a gun in your hands. Why didn't you let it down easy and break it without shooting it?" "I thought you didn't have any shell in it, that's why I wanted to look." That's not the way to do. Oh my, I had a close one.

    Frazier: You had a close call, yes.

    Rocco Perrone: It burnt my shirt, right there. I didn't get a scratch, but the flame of the gun — that's what - my brothers, oldest brothers taught me how to handle a gun. Always keep it up in the air or down toward the ground. If it should go off, it won't hurt nobody. But never point toward anybody. He had the gun like this and he just pulled the thing. Couple more inches he would have just blown a hole that big right through me. Oh my. He got me so upset.

    Margaret Perrone: Always, always since we got married, he's always been wanting to hunt. His mother made him - his mother made him a coat - a hunting coat.

    Rocco Perrone: A hunting coat — she was a seamstress. She went to school and learned. She used to make men's clothes, and she made me this hunting coat. She never said a word until it was finished. Oh, I was so happy and so...

    Margaret Perrone: Khaki - we still have it here, it was made - you know, for years - I don't know whether — when did we get rid of it? I don't know.

    Rocco Perrone: Probably up the shop.

    Margaret Perrone: It's probably up there.

    Rocco Perrone: Well, it came around, the body, you know...

    Margaret Perrone: Had all pockets in it and everything - wonderful.

    Rocco Perrone: Fancy pockets, couple pockets here and then a place to put your rabbits in the back.

    Margaret Perrone: Yes, the thing for the rabbits, yeah. And he used to get a lot of rabbits when he was young. Oh, he got many.

    Frazier: Lot of woods up there to hunt in, weren't there?

    Rocco Perrone: While we lived in Montchanin, Delaware, I had a date with my oldest brother to go hunting and for some reason that morning, he didn't get there until nine— thirty, it was pretty late. And my father happened to be working for Henry du Pont, right below the railroad track building a bridge, a little bridge over the creek, and he said, "Where you boys going at this hour?" Well I said, "Pop, you know Lawrence had his men put to work." He had nineteen or twenty men down at Lammot du Pont, put them to work, then he came up, it was nine-thirty when we went along there, came up towards Chadds Ford. Night, when we came home, I had seventeen rabbits and he had eleven.

    Frazier: Oh my goodness, isn't that something.

    Rocco Perrone: Never missed one. I shot the left-hand barrel every time and killed one every time. Yeah, that was the biggest day I ever had.

    Frazier: Did your mother prepare...

    Rocco Perrone: Then my father, when he came home, they used to work 'til five-thirty, when we lived Montchanin we had a round table, we put them all head togethers, all around. We had — the table was just...

    Frazier: Full of rabbits.

    Rocco Perrone: Full of rabbits. He went and touched them. He said, "Where did you buy these rabbits?” "Buy 'em ~ we bought 'em up in the woods at Chadds Ford, at Summit, all the way along." On the way home about half a mile from home, the last rabbit got up and I got him and he was still hot when we got home.

    Frazier: That was a lot of food, wasn't it?

    Rocco Perrone: Seventeen rabbits. Oh, we give around to all the neighbors, some, you know.

    Frazier: Give them away and everything.

    Margaret Perrone: But his mother did cook it, yes. She would make...

    Rocco Perrone: Did you ever hear the polenta?

    Frazier: Yes, I have.

    Margaret Perrone: Yeah, well that's when...

    Rocco Perrone: That's polenta and rabbit, that's when it's good.

    Margaret Perrone: She would make the rabbit gravy and then the corn mush.

    Rocco Perrone: That's corn mush.

    Margaret Perrone: Big cake there — see we used to make it...

    Rocco Perrone: Use wine in it.

    Margaret Perrone: Real heavy, real thick, you know, so that it would be - not like some that you would buy, it's very soft, but this — we would make it hard so that when you cut it, cut it in slices - what did we use? String to cut it.

    Rocco Perrone: You would use a string. Just put it underneath it, pull it up, cut it in slices.

    Margaret Perrone: And then put the gravy on. That was very good.
  • Margaret Perrone's childhood activities in Germantown, Philadelphia, including sewing, babysitting, singing, dancing, and jumping rope; Rocco Perrone playing marbles and baseball as a child
    Keywords: Babysitting; Baseball; Dancing; Diapers; Games; Germantown (Philadelphia, Pa.)--Working class families; Girls--Conduct of life; Jacks (Game); Marbles (Game); Philadelphia--Working; Rope skipping; Sewing; Sewing machines; Singing
    Transcript: Frazier: How about you, Mrs. Perrone, what did you like to do when you were a girl?

    Margaret Perrone: Well, I used to do a lot of sewing on the machine when my mother had a sewing machine. And of course, being the second of the — second child of the family — we had nine, there was nine of us, so every once in a while my mother would need diapers, you know, to - for the youngest one that was coming, and so I used to love to make that sewing machine go and make the hems on the diapers. And then I made little clothes, little things for the children. And I was very much a baby sitter, you know, take the children, the child out, the youngest one usually, in a coach around the block, like that. And at that time, see we lived in north Philadelphia at that time when I was growing up, and in north Philadelphia there were all kinds of people. We had Germans, Slavish, Russian, Polish, some Italians, not my kind, I mean the northern Italy, it was very few, but the southern Italians were on the block there. And of course, I used to love to go to church, to the Polish church, with the Polish girl. I even learned how to speak a little bit, and just going from one girl to the other, I loved to dance and I loved to sing. I did go into singing later on and had a concert of my own in a boys' club, club for boys and girls...

    Frazier: Oh, nice - that's nice.

    Margaret Perrone: Yes, when I was eighteen I had a concert and I was the soprano and then I had a friend that started to sing — I used to sing in church, in Germantown — we used to sing in church and this girl used to sing with me, she was a contralto. So we got together, and we put on this concert. That was before Roc came to Philadelphia, so I didn't have him then, but I had plenty other friends, lot of friends there.

    Frazier: What kind of games do you remember playing when you were children?

    Margaret Perrone: Rope.

    Frazier: Jump rope.

    Margaret Perrone: Jump rope was our main game. We didn't do too much - and jacks, you know, played jacks and jump rope. There wasn't many games inside the house, like for instance Scrabble and this and that that you did afterwards. We didn't do much of that, we did this - oh jacks, we'd go on the different pavements, you know, or on the steps and played there. And then at night we used to love to go out and sit on the steps, 'cause we didn't have any cars to go with — to go out with — and we'd sit on the steps, or we had a porch, sit on the porch and sing. All our things from school and things like that.

    Frazier: Mr. Perrone, what games do you remember that the boys played?

    Rocco Perrone: Oh, ball — baseball.

    Frazier: Baseball. How about marbles?

    Rocco Perrone: Oh yes, we had those too.

    Margaret Perrone: Oh, yeah, marbles, yeah. Remember my brothers...

    Rocco Perrone: I always had a pocket full of marbles.

    Frazier: That was very popular, wasn't it?

    Rocco Perrone: Yes, yeah.

    Margaret Perrone: Oh, very popular.

    Frazier: Were there ball fields for you to play?

    Rocco Perrone: The what?

    Frazier: Fields for you to play ball?

    Rocco Perrone: Oh yes. I used to go up above Rockland, Centerville, then Wilmington by the tower.

    Frazier: Rockford Tower?

    Margaret Perrone: Oh yes, Rockford Tower.

    Frazier: Play ball up there?

    Rocco Perrone: Yeah, yeah.
  • Speaking the Piedmont Italian dialect; their daughter traveling to Italy with her husband
    Keywords: Immigrant families; Italian American; Italian language--Dialects; Piedmont (Italy); Travel
    Transcript: Frazier: Did you speak Italian at home?

    Rocco Perrone: Oh, yes.

    Frazier: All the time?

    Rocco Perrone: All the time.

    Margaret Perrone: Our dialect, not the regular Italian.

    Frazier: There is a dialect?

    Margaret Perrone: Yes. See, the written Italian is one thing.

    Rocco Perrone: The Piedmont dialect.

    Margaret Perrone: Piedmont — Piedmont we call it. That's what they called the northern part of Italy was the Piedmont section. And we each have our dialect — his is a little different from ours. We understand each other and everything, but some words are a little bit different, have a different pronunciation, something like that. But, we don't even notice it anymore, because when we speak, we seldom speak Italian any more with anybody because they all speak English here, you know.

    Frazier: That's right.

    Margaret Perrone: But when we used to talk, for instance, with his mother before she died, I would speak it my way and she would understand every word because it was so much alike.

    Frazier: When you went back to Italy, you didn't have any problem with the language then?

    Rocco Perrone: No, not a bit.

    Margaret Perrone: No, no problem whatever. In Milano and Rome, for instance, and big cities...

    Rocco Perrone: Venice.

    Margaret Perrone: And Venice, and all, you spoke Italian, but you spoke the written Italian with the, for instance, people at the hotel or like that, you spoke the...

    Frazier: I didn't know there was a difference - I don't know why I didn't know that. Every other language has a dialect, so...

    Margaret Perrone: The way — yes - yes, the other languages have too.

    Frazier: Yes, everyone does.

    Margaret Perrone: Oh the Italian is so many dialects. Why just a little town from here to there, few miles, would be a little different.

    Rocco Perrone: By the way, my daughter just came back from Rome and Venice, they went it Italy with her husband.

    Margaret Perrone: Do you know Dr. Garcia?

    Rocco Perrone: Have you heard of him from Wilmington?

    Frazier: No.

    Margaret Perrone: My daughter married Dr. Garcia in Wilmington. He's a Columbian, from Columbia, South America, but he came here and went to Memorial Hospital and took his internship there.

    Frazier: What's his specialty?

    Margaret Perrone: Stomach.

    Frazier: Oh, gastro...

    Margaret Perrone: Yes.

    Rocco Perrone: He's a surgeon. He operated on me and her too.

    Margaret Perrone: I think he could do almost anything, but I mean he's not a - for pediatrics or — bone and like that, he does this other business, more like stomach stuff — hernias, specialty in hernia, yeah. Well Marguerite is my daughter that married him, and she was a nurse at Memorial, that's how they met.

    Frazier: That's how they met.

    Margaret Perrone: Yes. She never worked as a nurse, because they got married right after she graduated [laughs].

    Frazier: Well at least she's had the training.

    Margaret Perrone: And she's had the training and now, of course, she's in the office. They do have a girl in the office, but she goes too — the office too and does all, a lot of book work and takes care of his personal...

    Frazier: A lot of doctors' wives do that, I think, they really do.

    Margaret Perrone: Yes, take care of the personal things. So she went, she just came home Sunday, this Sunday...

    Frazier: From Italy?

    Margaret Perrone: Yes, they took a tour.

    Frazier: Does she speak Italian?

    Margaret Perrone: No.

    Rocco Perrone: Very little. She understands some.

    Margaret Perrone: Well, she'll understand a little bit.

    Rocco Perrone: She said over the phone that Mario, he would speak Spanish and he would understand quite a few words of the Italian and they made out pretty good.

    Frazier: I'm sure they probably did.

    Margaret Perrone: Yes, I guess they did, yeah. She said that they liked Venice very much, very much. It's a very clean, beautiful city. Did you ever go?

    Frazier: Beautiful — No, that's one place I'd love to go.

    Margaret Perrone: Oh, she said they really loved it.

    Frazier: And they're trying to clean it up now, I think, for all the treasurers, the art treasurers and thing.

    Margaret Perrone: Yes, yes. And she went to Rome — they went to Rome first - that's where their plane landed, in Rome, but she said Rome is too congested. She didn't care too much for it, she said it isn't very clean. Well, it isn't because it's very — it has a lot of population.

    Frazier: Yes, very large.

    Margaret Perrone: And cars going and coming all the time, cause we were there.

    Rocco Perrone: Heavy traffic, very heavy.

    Margaret Perrone: When we went in 1972, believe it or not, we were there three weeks in all, and I think two weeks of it rained. We went to Venice, it rained the two days, went to Rome, it rained for three days. We stayed three days because we wanted to go and see something - every day it rained. We went to Rome to try to see the Pope, but the Pope was in Venice. When we got up to Venice, the Pope had come back to Rome.

    Frazier: He'd gone back to Rome [laughs].

    Margaret Perrone: So we didn't see him.
  • Cast-iron stove and household furniture; telephones at the store in Squirrel Run and on Ms. Evelina du Pont's property
    Keywords: Cast-iron stoves; Furniture; Radio; Secondhand trade; Technological innovations; Telephone
    Transcript: Frazier: Trying to see if there's some other - furniture — the furniture in your home, did you...remember where they bought it or anything like that?

    Margaret Perrone: Plain, very plain.

    Rocco Perrone: Well, I remember a stove being — with an oven that you would turn up. Probably that way you kept the food warm, but you would turn over, just like a desk, you know, the desk that came down. And my mother used to push that up and put the food there until everybody was at the table, then she would serve it. I remember that old stove.

    Frazier: Was it a wood stove or coal stove?

    Rocco Perrone: No, no, it was cast iron stove.

    Margaret Perrone: Yeah, but did you burn wood or...

    Rocco Perrone: Wood - either one, wood or coal, you could burn either one, combination.

    Margaret Perrone: Now, I don't know whether your family did the same as our family, but we — I remember my father going to second— hand stores to buy our furniture. We bought most of our furniture - like the table, the chairs and almost everything except the beds — the beds he bought from a new store, the mattress and all, but the other furniture was all second-hand, because it was cheaper.

    Frazier: Sure.

    Margaret Perrone: And our furniture, our rooms weren't furnished — like for instance, three or four pieces, like that. It was very bare. We were interested, and they were interested to get enough, a table and enough chairs for us to sit on, but it didn't make any difference whether they matched or not, yeah.

    Frazier: Do you remember when telephones came in? Radios?

    Rocco Perrone: The phone were in before — they used to have a phone that you ring, you'd crank it, yeah, I remember that.

    Margaret Perrone: But that was at the store, Roc, we didn't have it in the house, no.

    Rocco Perrone: Not in our house. Down there at Ms. Evelina's, they had it in the stable, in the coach stable, they had it up the house, but the one you had to crank it to make a call.

    Margaret Perrone: Yes, now we had a phone when I was just a little girl. We had a phone in our house because my father was a stone mason, but then he went into business for himself so it was in the teens when we already had a phone in our house, because we moved in Germantown in 1920 and we had had a phone in our old house for years before that. And of course the radio was something that came, but we were very late in getting one. We didn't get it right away, went many years, and even us, Roc, we got a radio when we went in the mushroom business up at what's the name?

    Rocco Perrone: Chambers Road.

    Margaret Perrone: Yes, we didn't have a radio before that. And television, my goodness, television only — how many years is it we have television? No too many, I mean we weren't right away, you know, we waited a long time before we got that [laughs].
  • Margaret Perrone participating in Camp Fire Girls; Rocco Perrone's mother taking his sister Agnes to Seaside Heights; ice skating; garbage disposal
    Keywords: Boy Scouts; Camp Fire Girls; Children with disabilities; ice skating; Refuse and refuse disposal; Seaside Heights (N.J); Vacation homes; Vacations
    Transcript: Frazier: How about vacations when you were children, did you take — visit relatives or...

    Margaret Perrone: Yes, now I was the fortunate one in our family. My sister never got — my older sister never got away, but I was the second one and they always let me go somewhere. Like, for instance, there at Squirrel Run for a few years, and then I belonged to a Boys' Club, it was called Boys' Club because my brother belonged there, he was a Scout, and they used to have girls in it because we used to put on plays, and I would be in one of the plays. We would go there for almost everything. I wasn't a Scout, I was a Camp Fire Girl, do you know what they were?

    Frazier: Yes, yes I do.

    Margaret Perrone: I was a Campfire Girl for many years until my leader left town and went to New York and so we didn't have her anymore, but I was a very good Camp Fire Girl. I won all the — the ring and the bracelet and all those things that they had.

    Frazier: Did your family take vacations, do you remember?

    Rocco Perrone: Nope, I don't remember ever them going out on a vacation because Daddy had to work all the time and Mom, she wasn't too much - wait a minute. Yes, one time my poor little sister, Agnes, when she was crippled, she went to New Jersey, up — what's the name of the park, near Seaside Heights?

    Margaret Perrone: Park near Seaside Heights?

    Rocco Perrone: Mom went there with the [Mennigraus?] were down there and they asked her to go down. She went down with Agnes, I went down on the train with them. Oh, I can't remember the - that Sea Shore, there's a sea shore there.

    Margaret Perrone: Well, Seaside Heights is where my family went...

    Rocco Perrone: Yeah, but this is before Seaside, that's where Mother went.

    Frazier: They went to the Jersey Shore, though?

    Rocco Perrone: It's the Jersey Shore. That's the only time I remember my Mother going to a vacation.

    Margaret Perrone: Well, my family was a little more fortunate as far as that's concerned because my father became - he was a stone mason contractor and he had made a few dollars and - in fact in 1930 — '29 was it, or '30, that they built a seaside home at Seaside Heights.

    Rocco Perrone: Twenty— nine.

    Margaret Perrone: We were already married and Roc helped to build it and my people went there for vacationing. But it wasn't while I was home, I mean, I was already married.

    Frazier: Yes, you were grown then.

    Margaret Perrone: Yes, I was already married.

    Frazier: Did you skate on the Brandywine in the wintertime?

    Rocco Perrone: Oh yes, I skated along the Brandywine, yeah.

    Frazier: I think most of the people around did.

    Rocco Perrone: Yeah, yeah.

    Frazier: As you said, you went through the ice ([laughs] and got your clothes all wet.

    Rocco Perrone: Mrs. Evelina du Pont's secretary taught me how to skate.

    Frazier: How about garbage and trash - where was it dumped or taken care of at Squirrel Run, do you remember?

    Rocco Perrone: At the du Pont's everybody took care of their own, they had to take it out in the garden and bury it up Montchanin - I know we did.

    Margaret Perrone: Up there in Squirrel Run, Roc, they used to bury it in the woods.

    Frazier: Oh, they did?

    Margaret Perrone: Yes, they used to have to bury it in the woods.

    Frazier: Well, there was a lot of woods for them to bury it up there.

    Margaret Perrone: And they burnt, they burnt the papers and stuff like that. Well, I mean, the other stuff that you couldn't burn, they would have to bury it.

    [Transcriber's note: tape ends abruptly before tape has run out. Nothing is on Side B, although it sounds as if the tape is running.]

Digitized material in this online archive may document imagery or language that reflects racist, ableist, sexist, homophobic, or otherwise offensive and harmful beliefs and actions in history. Hagley Library is engaged in ongoing efforts to address and responsibly present evidence of oppression and injustice in our collections. If you are concerned about the archival material presented here, or want to learn more about our ongoing work, please contact us at