Rocco Perrone, Margaret Perrone, Victorine Camoirano, and Mary Oliverri Guerrina, 1985 March 12 [audio]
- Growing up in Squirrel RunKeywords: Catalina's store; Free Park (Del.: Village); Hagley Community House (Breck's Mill); Kennett Square, Pa.; Squirrel Run (Del.: Village); Street-railroads; TrolliesTranscript: [There are so many voices on this tape that is hard to distinguish one from another and I am sure that I have incorrectly identified a speaker at times. Also some of the Italian names I have just guessed as to the spelling. Mrs. Mary Perrone’ s name incorrectly appears as “ Margret” at the top of each page of this interview.]
This interview is with: Rocco & Margaret Perrone with Victorine Marenco Camoirano and Mary Oliverri Guerrina
Frazier: This is Chris Frazier, I'm at the home of Rocco and Margaret Perrone, March 12, 1985. With us are …
Victorine: Victorine Marenco Camoirano.
Mary: Mary Oliverri Guerrina.
Frazier: Victorine was born at Squirrel Run and lived there until age 14. Did you live there at the same time that Mr. Perrone did?
Victorine: Yeah, he said I was, I don't remember being there.
Rocco: I used to see you go down to the post office every morning (laughs).
Frazier: And a...
Mary: Well, I was born there and lived there for about three years, born in 1921.
Frazier: 1921 was...
Mary: Really four years, I guess we lived there.
Frazier: When the powder mills closed in 1921.
Victorine: She was our neighbor.
Frazier: And when was the last time you lived there?
Victorine: That I lived there? We all moved about the same time, didn't we, Mary?
Mary: Well, we moved in 1924, up to Kennett Square.
Victorine: Yeah, so did we, we moved in 1924 up New Garden.
Frazier: And at that time were people still living in Squirrel Run?
Victorine: Oh yeah, there was a few left, but they were all starting to move out.
Frazier: Yes. Now tell me what you remember, what you remember about the other houses down there in Free Park?
Victorine: Free Park? I don't remember too many.
Frazier: You don't remember?
Victorine: No, I just remember Cheney's - Mr. Cheney's house.
Frazier: And you said there were stairs?
Victorine: You know to come - when you come down past the church, you go down, to come down Squirrel Run, there was steps to go down to get the trolley car. You had to go across the bridge, a wooden bridge, and then you'd get the trolley car to go in town, or wherever they were going. You remember that Rocky?
Victorine: Remember the bridge there - and then you got the trolley car there.
Rocco: The Diamond Bridge. That's what they called the Diamond Bridge.
Victorine: Did they, I didn’ t know what they called it. And then there was another bridge up further, up near the store, remember?
Rocco: Near the store, yes.
Frazier: Where was the store?
Victorine: The store was up, right up in the middle of – right in the middle.
Frazier: Do you remember the name of the store?
Mary: You mean the Catalina?
Victorine: Yes, Catalina, yeah. It was at the end of the group of houses there in Squirrel Run. There was a bridge there too, right across from the store. There was two places where you could get the trolley car. We always got the one up there because it was closer to our house.
Frazier: Where did your father work?
Mary: He worked down at that gate, you know, you go down - what was the name of that place, Roc?
Rocco: The mill down there.
Frazier: The gate on Blacksmith Hill, was it?
Victorine: Yes, yes.
Frazier: Was he the gate keeper?
Mary: No, he worked inside of the buildings.
Frazier: Oh, he worked in the powder mills?
Frazier: He was a powderman?
Victorine: I don't know what he used to do, I was too young, you know, young to remember, but I remember we used to even bring him lunch sometimes in a basket.
Frazier: Now what was his name?
Victorine: John Marenco.
Frazier: John Marenco - and you took it down to the gate, probably? The big gate there.
Victorine: Yes. Yes, and then he would meet us there at the gate.
Frazier: He would meet us there. 'Cause I don't think anyone was allowed into the powder yards.
Victorine: Oh, no, we weren't allowed to go in there. But he would meet us at the gate and we'd hand him the basket.
Frazier: How long did he work...
Victorine: Then the post office was down there, too.
Frazier: Oh, u-huh.
Victorine: Post office was down - remember where the post office was? It was in-between the gate and the other bridge to go across to go to the wool mill.
Frazier: Walker's Mill?
Rocco: Oh, that was right close to Hagley's Community House, the post office. Right on the trolley car...
Victorine: Yeah, on the other side, yeah.
Rocco: On the other side, yeah. That was Hagley's post office. Hagley Community.
Frazier: Hagley Community Post Office.
Victorine: And they also had a school like for the Italians to go and learn to speak English, it was night school - remember? Father used to go to it.
Rocco: That's where I went, night - used to be the Hagley Community House - now they call it Hagley Community House. That's where we went to the high school, we had school there.
Frazier: That's where it was, down there by the bridge.
Victorine: I didn't know where it was, but I know it was down that way some place, it was at night, you know.
Frazier: Down near the river.
Victorine: 'Course I never went, I was just a young girl.
Frazier: I didn't know they had a language school, glad to hear that.
Rocco: Well, we used to at night school, the Hagley Community House used to be a club - clubhouse they call it. And downstairs we had all the rooms for the - go to school there. We had a German teacher.
Frazier: To teach you English?
Frazier: To teach you English?
Rocco: No, I was taking up mechanical drawings.
Frazier: Oh, oh I see, this was - this was after you finished St. Joseph's?
Rocco: Oh yes. This was at night school. My brother and I used to go there, we would bicycle from way up du Ponts, we used to ride down and it's about four miles.
Frazier: Yes, from where you lived.
Rocco: What's the name of that teacher, she used to go with ___________ , do you remember the name of the teacher? I used to remember, but I've forgotten.
Rocco: The Sisters?
Victorine: No, the teacher, the teacher that taught the Italian people to speak English.
Rocco: No, I don't remember that name. It's too long.
Frazier: Mary, do you remember anything about it at all?
Mary: I don't remember anything because I was only four years old when we were...
Frazier: When you left, yes.
Victorine: We used to go at Hagley Mill, you know, like on a Saturday, a lot of the children, we'd have tables, we had - we'd color, you know, or cut and paste, paste things together. We used to do that.
Mary: Like a Kindergarten.
Victorine: Yeah, like a Kindergarten.
Frazier: M-huh - this was on Saturday, now where did they hold this?
Victorine: At the - right at the Hagley Mill.
Frazier: At the Hagley Mill. Did you want to say...
Louis: I just wanted to inject something here, I had nothin' to do with Squirrel Run myself, I'm Louis Guerrina, husband of Mary Oliverri Guerrina. That just in conversations with her father, years ago before he passed away, he used to recount some of the things that happened at the powder mill. And if you'll check the payroll records, I think you'll find that Bart Oliverri was the last employee - he was the gatekeeper, and when he closed - put the lock on the gate - this was at the time that they were dismantling the powder mills themselves, they were selling all the machinery for scrap metal, selling all the - and he stayed at the gate and let the trucks in the pick up the scrap metal and then he would lock the gate, and when he was the last one, and when his boss - I forget the name of the man that was his supervisor – told him, "Bart, this is the last, put the lock on the gate, that's it.” And from there, of course he had another job working for Mrs. Ruly Carpenter as a gardener. And this was 1924.
Mary: No, probably in 1923, because we moved from Squirrel Run in 1924.
Louis: Twenty-three. So if you have access to the payroll records...
Frazier: Yes, yes they do.
Louis: You'll find that he is the last employee of the old powder mill.
Frazier: He was the last employee.
Rocco: I remember the man's name, the foreman, one of the powder makers, was Haley, Buster Haley.
Louis: Buster Haley was it, I don't recall.
Frazier: He was the last...
Rocco: He was the foreman.
Louis: The last supervisor that my father-in-law worked for. He must have been the one that gave him the instructions, "Well, Bart, this is it, put the lock on the gate for us."
Rocco: (Italian name), all those people, her father, Bart Oliverri, and everyone. He used to tell them what to do.
Frazier: He was the boss. Thank you, glad to know that.
Mary: Mr. Haley, he wanted my father to give - my mother passed away, you know, and we were just little girls and Mr. Haley, he was, you know, my father's boss, he wanted my father to give my sister and I to him, 'cause they didn't have any children.
Rocco: He wanted to adopt you.
Mary: Yeah, wanted my father to give us two girls. And my father was ready, he packed a suitcase and everything, and he said us two girls put our arms his neck and we said, "We don't want to go, we want to stay with you." And my father said he got that suitcase and swung it around, put it on the floor, he says, "U-huh, you're staying with me."
Frazier: Oh, my goodness. Mr. Perrone was telling me about his sister. Mrs. Crowninshield wanted to adopt.
Rocco: She wanted to adopt Agnes, you know. They used to send a coachman to take her to the hospital every time.
Frazier: How many children in your family?
Rocco: How many were you? There was Victor and Fred and you.
Victorine: Fred, Vera - four, me. 'Course my sister, Tess, but she was just born, you know, child birth, four of us, five of us.
Frazier: And how many in your family, Mary?
Mary: There was three.
Mary: Of course only the two of us were born in Squirrel Run, myself and my brother, Frank.
- Homes in Squirrel Run; Going to school; GamesKeywords: Bocce; Games; Homes; Jacks; New Garden, Pa.; Saint Joseph on the Brandywine Roman Catholic Church (Wilmington, Del.); Squirrel Run (Del.: Village)Transcript: Frazier: Now, do you remember anything about the house?
Victorine: My house?
Frazier: Yes, at Squirrel Run.
Victorine: The house that I lived in? We lived in two different houses while we were down there. The last one I remember real well.
Frazier: How many rooms did it have?
Victorine: It had two rooms on the second floor and a great big room on the third floor. And then we had on the first floor we had the front porch, then there was a big room, you know, and we used that as a living room and a dining room together, then we had a little kitchen on the side. Then we had a little, we used to call it the shanty in the back, you know, where my mother used to store things away, in the back of the house.
Frazier: Did it have a cellar? Or an attic?
Victorine: No, no cellar.
Frazier: I wondered where she would store things, and she stored canned goods and stuff in the shanty?
Victorine: In the back of that - yeah, in the shanty. And upstairs on the first - on the second floor, we had a door that you could go right out the backdoor, you know, and go right up Free Park.
Rocco: That was level with the ground, see upstairs, because the hill was up like that.
Frazier: Was up like that? They were built into the, built into the hill. Was it a free-standing house, or was it...
Victorine: No, it was three houses in a row.
Frazier: They call those a bank, didn't they?
Victorine: I don't remember what they called them - did they?
Frazier: They did in Blacksmith Hill, I don't know if they did there or not.
Victorine: There were three houses there and then there was a space there and then there was three more, you know.
Rocco: Yours and my Daddy and Bacchino, three houses there.
Victorine: Bacchino was the end one. Yes, I remember Bacchino.
Rocco: Then there was Victor Pesce and Joe Pesce and one in the corner.
Rocco: Braccotti, yeah. Braccotti was killed at the time when they had the big blast, 33 or 35 boys killed at one time.
Frazier: What would be ‘ 83 I think.
Victorine: Then when the Bacchinos moved away, your father moved in their house.
Mary: The only thing I remember about Squirrel Run is what my Dad told me when he worked there. He needed the money and worked, for a time, for twenty-four hours a day. He brought a little cot and he stayed in the boiler room and he was taking care of the boilers - had to feed the boilers and watch then. And he had an alarm clock, so he would get up after so many hours and take care of the boiler, so I know he stood there twenty-four hours a day for quite some time.
Frazier: Oh, my goodness, just to make the money?
Mary: Just to make the money. He slept there.
Frazier: Now this was down at the powder yards?
Victorine: Used to walk to church, you know, from Squirrel Run up to St. Joseph's on the Brandywine. We used to walk up that hill, and we went to school there at St. Joseph's school.
Frazier: How many years did you go there to school?
Victorine: I went about four years there, then I went to Du Pont School, too. Then I moved up New Garden and I went to Penn Green School for one year, then I went to Kennett for one year. I went to a lot of schools.
Frazier: When you left Squirrel Run, you moved to Kennett?
Victorine: Yes - no, not to Kennett, we moved to New Garden.
Louis: She went to Kennett School.
Victorine: Yeah, I went to Kennett School.
Frazier: How many - you remember how many people there were living at Squirrel Run when you were there - was it a busy community, a lot of people?
Victorine: There was not really a lot, but a good many, don't you think, Roc?
Rocco: Well, right across from us there was those French people, down there - what was their name?
Rocco: Antoine - there's three houses there.
Mary: Three houses in the back and three in the front.
Rocco: Yeah, back to back. Three in the front and three in the back. Now where we lived, there was no houses in the back because we were up against the back - the hill.
Victorine: So there was six houses down there.
Rocco: Then there was three houses up there where Victor Pesce and Joe Pesce lived and Braccotti, then there was a big pump on a little hillside and up there there was McGonagall.
Mary: McGonagall and Primaldi's, remember Primaldi, they lived right near where the water was.
Rocco: Yeah right - that was a twin house. Then up further along the creek there was three more doubles.
Mary: Onsomo (sp?) and Robino and Gaino.
Rocco: Then, if you went up below the stable of Catallano, on the other side of the creek where the store is, if you start from the top, come on down, it was Marenco - Commorano lived there, Corazzo.
Mary: Jacomalli's sister-in-law, I think, lived there in-between.
Mary: Commorano and Corazzo.
Rocco: And Jacomalli.
Mary: And my aunt lived there, Corazzo's.
Rocco: Who lived in the back, what they call Miko's brother?
Mary: Jiroso, but his name was what?
Rocco: A nickname.
Mary: John Giroso.
Frazier: Mr. Perrone gave us a map that he'd made of all the residence and the home - it was very helpful, seemed to remember all the residents.
Rocco: I gave them all the name of the children, and families that lived there.
Mary: Then the other three - then there was a separation there and then came down here there was her uncle there, aunt and uncle, Zinno. Zinno and Perrones and Pesce - they lived in the back. Then there was Jacomalli - not Jacommalli - her name was Miniotti.
Victorine: Miniotti - I think that's the name - was it Katie?
Mary: And Salvo and then...
Victorine: Terselli - how about Terselli?
Rocco: Pete Terselli.
Victorine: Pete Terselli was there too.
Mary: Yeah, they were, that's right. And then there was the store in the back, you know, they lived up in the back of the: the store was in the front and they lived behind the store.
Rocco: Mr. - the store owner lived in the back.
Mary: Yeah, Catallano's.
Rocco: Catallano, yeah.
Frazier: Alright, well getting back to your house, how did you heat it - was it...
Mary: We had one of those black pot-bellied stoves.
Frazier: Stove - wood?
Mary: Oh yeah, wood, and sometimes we'd put coal, too.
Frazier: And where did you store the wood or the coal?
Mary: Out on the porch.
Frazier: Out on the porch - did your mother do canning, did she have a garden - vegetables?
Mary: Oh yeah. We didn't have the garden up close where we were living, we had to walk the distance.
Frazier: Was it like a community garden?
Mary: Yeah, was quite a few people had their garden up there, alongside of each other.
Frazier: And she would store the...
Mary: Yes, in that back shed like I told you.
Frazier: How about storage of sugar and flour and things like that, did she keep that in the back shed too?
Mary: In the kitchen.
Frazier: In the kitchen.
Victorine: In the kitchen.
Frazier: Did she make pickles or sauerkraut or anything like that - I guess that's not Italian is it?
Mary: No, no.
Frazier: How about games you played when you were children.
Mary: We used to play out there - go out and Ring Around the Rosie and those kind of things (laughs).
Victorine: Jump rope - and jacks.
Mary: Yeah, and jacks, that's right. Hide and Go Seek. We used to have a lot of fun.
Victorine: How about the woods over there - didn't we have a good time in those woods?
Mary: Oh gosh, yeah.
Louis: Picnics on Sunday in the summertime.
Frazier: Tell me about the picnics.
Victorine: Men playing bocce on Sundays all the time.
Frazier: Tell me about the picnics.
Victorine: How about that game when they punched the balloon - what do you call that game?
Mary: Balloon - that's all, balloon.
Victorine: They played that game and bocce.
Rocco: That's an Italian game, playing ball.
Mary: Most of the Italian men would all go up there right after they got done eating, play those games. Sometimes we'd go up there and watch them, sit up there, the wives and the children, used to go up and watch them sometimes.
Victorine: And Victorine, you remember ___________ with his accordion?
Mary: Oh yeah, he used to come around our houses and play the music and we'd dance in each other's houses.
Frazier: Yes, Mrs. Perrone told me about that, yes.
Mary: Yeah, I used to love to dance when I was young. I didn’ t know how to dance very good, but I tried. (Laughs)
Victorine: You know I went to Mary Pacchino's christening.
Mary: Did you really?
Victorine: Yes, while I was there.
Mary: I went to her christening.
Margaret: They used to have big parties for christenings.
- Funerals; Keeping animals; Floor and wall coverings; Drinking Yerba mate tea; Living with boarders; Work and wages; Making beer and wineKeywords: Animals; Beer; Boarders; Chickens; Coffee; Cows; Floor coverings; Funerals; Goats; Pigs; Tea; Wages; Wall coverings; Wine; Work; Yerba MateTranscript: Frazier: How about funerals - did they have wakes? Or were they all at the...
Victorine: Oh yeah, they’ d have them all at the house.
Louis: 'Course you have the cemetery right up the road, across the street from St. Joseph's.
Victorine: Yeah, those days they didn't take them in the funeral parlor, they were all in the house, yeah.
Frazier: Now were there any livestock around, like chickens or...
Victorine: Oh yeah, almost everybody had chickens.
Frazier: Most everybody had them?
Victorine: Yeah. And Mr. Pesce had a cow, he used to have a little shed on the side, you know, and he'd have this cow and I used to go up there and buy milk, Jenney's father.
Frazier: So you all had your eggs, your own fresh eggs?
Victorine: Oh yeah, had our own - fresh eggs and chicken. Whenever anybody was sick, we used to go out and get a chicken and make broth.
Frazier: Who had to take care of the chickens – that’ s a lot of work.
Victorine: Bairns - my mother used to do it.
Margaret: The women - the women used to do it.
Frazier: The women did it? No goats or pigs?
Mary: Yeah, some people had goats, because I remember when Mr. Bacchini used to kill them, oh, I used to feel so bad, you know, you'd hear them Na-a-a- - or how they'd go. Oh, killing them poor animals, but they used to grow them purposely, you know, raise them purposely to...
Victorine: Kill the young ones.
Mary: To kill them. No too many, though, had them, not too many.
Frazier: How about the floor of the house - was it brick or was it wood or stone?
Victorine: Wood, wood, mostly wood - wasn't it, Roc?
Rocco: There was some hard clay, but most of them were wood.
Victorine: Yeah, most of them were wood.
Frazier: And the walls, were they papered or whitewashed or painted?
Victorine: Oh paint, some of them had it papered, the walls were - they were nice inside, I thought they were then, anyhow.
Mary: Well, the people were very clean.
Victorine: Yeah, very clean people.
Mary: All very clean people.
Frazier: Took good care of the homes.
Victorine: Yeah. Nobody had rugs - wooden floors, everybody had wooden floors that I remember.
Frazier: They have linoleum or carpeting? No?
Victorine: Wooden floors. Nobody could afford it.
Frazier: Wooden floors. No, that's true. How about if you came in with your muddy boots, were there foot scrapers or door mats or anything like that?
Victorine: Oh yeah, they had mats out on the porch, 'cause you had a big porch, you know, just before you got in the house - your shoes were clean.
Frazier: Now was there - you and your parents drink coffee?
Frazier: Was there a coffee grinder in the...
Victorine: No, my mother just...
Frazier: You bought it ground?
Frazier: Did you drink tea?
Victorine: No, I don't remember drinking tea.
Mary: Did they drink mate at that time?
Victorine: Oh, yeah.
Mary: Did you have mate?
Victorine: Oh, yeah, my mother didn't, you know, it wasn't...
Rocco: Mate a jaba.
Frazier: What is mate?
Mary: It's a tea, it's a drink like tea.
Rocco: It's a Spanish tea.
Louis: South American tea, Argentinian tea: mate.
Mary: And a lot of those people had parents or someone that went to South America - like Roc's father went to South America and they brought up this tea, yes, they would bring this tea - we had it for years even after I was married.
Victorine: And most of the families had boarders, they helped them to keep the family.
Frazier: In fact I've heard some other...
Mary: My mother always had three and four boarders all the time down there, all the time.
Frazier: Even with just the two bedrooms, the two rooms there?
Mary: Well, they used to sleep up in the attic. She'd have three beds up in the attic, and they'd all sleep upstairs - my brothers and four boarders.
Frazier: Do you remember how much they got for boarding?
Mary: I think it was $25.00 a month - was it?
Rocco: Probably a month.
Louis: Yes, that's what she said, $25.00 a month.
Victorine: Oh, not even that - no, it was about two or three dollars a week, that's about all.
Mary: I don't remember, see my mother didn't tell me how much.
Rocco: I know, _________________ used to pay my mother seven dollars a week.
Louis: That's $28.00 a month.
Mary: That's food and all.
Victorine: Sure, my mother used to wash their clothes – feed them.
Margaret: Well, how much did they make in those days? A week?
Rocco: They didn’ t make too much. Well, at DuPont they made pretty good, but I know when I work at DuPont I used to make $4.00-$4.50, the highest I made and my father used to make the same.
Margaret: Every day or a week?
Rocco: A day.
Mary: I worked for four dollars a week - for the store lady. I used to help Mrs. …
Mary: Pesce - no, Pesce - during the summer.
Frazier: Where was that?
Mary: Up in the - you know she had bought the store after...
Frazier: Oh, she bought Cattalano?
Victorine: Oh, she bought after Cattalano. - Oh, I didn't know that.
Mary: I used to go up and babysit for her and help her to clean. Sometimes she'd make me go down and sell, down in the store, you know, and somebody wanted ice cream or candy, I used to help her.
Frazier: And she paid you four dollars a week?
Mary: Four dollars a week. And I worked hard, believe me.
Frazier: Well, that was probably a lot.
Rocco: Four a week. I used to make nine dollars a month when I first went to work for Henry du Pont with a - not the pick, but the maddick to pull the old weeds in the pasture - dandelion, mustard, stuff like that - nine dollars a month (laughs).
Louis: That was a little before Victorina, though, Victorina's talking about after the first World War. This was about 1920-21 she's talking about. The wage differential was quite different than it was before the first World War.
Frazier: It certainly was, yes. Yes, that's right.
Louis: I think if you'll check with the payroll records, the ones that worked in the powder mill, I think, after working a six-day week, they brought home maybe about fifteen to eighteen dollars a week. After the ones that worked after 1918 - after the finish of the first World War: I think the wages were quite a bit - maybe double that, probably brought home anywheres from thirty to thirty-five dollars a week for a six-day week. So, you got to differentiate between before the first World War and the short time it was in existence after the first World War. Victorina, I believe, mostly recalls after the first World War.
Victorine: Oh yeah. But the food was cheaper then, too.
Frazier: Oh yes, and you grew a lot of it yourself.
Victorine: Oh yeah. But like bread - bread was what? Ten cents a loaf probably.
Mary: Oh yes, some of it was even (lot of voices at once saying "five” ).
Victorine: Milk was ten cents a quart.
Mary: That's right, right.
Victorine: And butter was fifteen cents a pound – everything was really cheap.
Mary: Oh, everything was cheap, but people didn't have the money even for that.
Victorine: Didn't have the money, sure.
Frazier: But your mother didn't make butter or anything like that?
Victorine: No, she didn't have no cow.
Frazier: I mean from milk?
Victorine: No, oh no.
Frazier: Did you have grapes - grape arbor?
Victorine: No, we didn't have any grapes.
Frazier: I wondered if they did maybe for wine making.
Victorine: Some people did. Well, no, I don't think anybody had that much grape to make wine.
Frazier: Not enough.
Victorine: Maybe a few vines just to eat.
Rocco – Oh, they used to make it, but they used to go in Wilmington and buy grapes.
Mary: Do you remember the Bazzano's coming with the beer?
Victorine: Oh yes, no, well my father didn't buy the beer, my mother used to make it, my mother used to make beer and make root beer for the kids and they drank that other beer. And he'd make wine, but he'd go buy the grape in Wilmington.
- Collecting water; Gathering blackberries; Corn husk mattresses; Tobacco use; School and work lunches; Calling the doctor via telephone; Clocks and timekeepingKeywords: Beds; Blackberries; Cigars; Clocks; Corn husks; Doctors; Lunches; Mattresses; Pumps; Telephones; Tobacco; Water; WhistlesTranscript: Frazier: Did they collect rain water - some people collected rain water for washing and things like that.
Victorine: No, no, we had a pump right in front of our house.
Frazier: Oh, that was handy.
Victorine: Go out there with the, you know, hand pump and we’ d have those tubs. My sister and I would go over and fill the tub, and catch on one side and one on the other, bring them up on the porch, and wash out on the porch.
Mary: Victorine, wasn't the pump the center place where people used to go and talk about all their business?
Victorine: I guess there was, I don't remember that.
Mary: Yeah, because see where I went, it was on the other side where DiNicoli's lived, and they had a pump not far from them.
Victorine: They lived near to the store, didn't they, DiNicoli?
Mary: Yeah, on that same row, they were on the end house of the store row. They had a pump there and boy everybody'd come around there: and all the talking.
Victorine: But see, I didn't have to go on that side, we had our up...
Mary: No, you had yours on the other side. Roc told me that you had one up there on the other side.
Rocco: There was one down there, then the one between Pesce and - the name I mentioned before, those two houses up there - McGonagall right below McGonagall.
Frazier: Did you ever go...
Mary: I used to go get water for the table up there because that was spring water, spring water.
Frazier: Did you ever go and gather berries and nuts for...
Victorine: Oh yes, up in the woods. I never went and get the nuts, but my father used to take some home, you know, where he worked. Those walnuts.
Victorine: No, walnuts.
Mary: No, we got berries up in the woods. I remember going up that way.
Victorine: Blackberries - oh yeah, we used to get the bucket and go early in the morning and get a bucketful: then my mother used to make jelly.
Frazier: Yeah, that was good, wasn't it?
Frazier: Herbs - did you grow herbs?
Victorine: No, I don't...
Victorine: Well, you always had parsley and rosemary and...
Mary: Yeah, in a little garden right near the house.
Victorine: They always had those things. And my mother used to make her own mattresses every year, you know, in the spring, or in the fall - in the fall I think it was when we used to go up in the fields and get husks from the corn.
Rocco: Corn husks.
Victorine: Yeah, and then they'd make the - beds were high, you know, and every morning my sister and I – you had a split here and a split over there and one there and one there, so we'd put our hand in there you know, and shake them up.
Rocco: Shake them up.
Victorine: One on one side, one on the other, you know, they'd come up nice and - you ought to see how high our beds were. My mother was a very clean woman, step-mother - she was clean, wasn't she, Margaret?
Margaret: Yes, very nice.
Frazier: Was it comfortable on a mattress made of...
Victorine: Very comfortable, oh yeah, in the morning it was all down, leaves were all down, flattened down (laughs).
Mary: Remember we used to have the chicken feathers.
Louis: Chicken or duck feathers, first I remember. I don't remember corn husks. I was too young for that.
Victorine: Yeah, what’ s the name - on top of our mattress.
Mary: And they had to change them every year, you know, because otherwise they get all funny, breaking up.
Frazier: Did they use bed warmers in the cold weather?
Frazier: And what were the pillows?
Victorine: We'd put that brick in the stove, in the oven, early that evening, right after supper, each one of us had a brick and we'd put it in the oven to heat up and then before we went to bed, my mother would have a piece of wool, you know, 'cause that wouldn't burn, wrap it up in wool and then bring it down and put on the bottom of our bed and put our feet against it.
Mary: Feet against it, sure.
Frazier: M-m-m, that felt good, didn't it?
Victorine: Yeah it did, ‘ cause nobody had heat.
Frazier: No, except for the kitchen stove.
Victorine: Right, and those pot-bellied stoves.
Frazier: You had one of those upstairs?
Victorine: No, no, downstairs.
Frazier: Just downstairs. Ice box?
Victorine: Yeah, we had ice boxes.
Frazier: They delivered ice?
Victorine: Yes. You had to make sure to empty that thing underneath that ice box, too.
Frazier: And tobacco - did your father use tobacco at all?
Victorine: Yeah, my father used to smoke. He used to smoke stogies, he didn't smoke a pipe.
Rocco: Cigars about that long.
Victorine: Cigars - they used to call them stogies.
Mary: Italian type.
Victorine: Yeah, those Italian cigars.
Frazier: Now, when you went to school, did you take your lunch?
Victorine: Yeah, wasn't much of a lunch.
Rocco: Sometimes we went home, sometimes we went home. Remember, used to run all the way down? You remember Salvo with the hoop, hitting the hoop going home.
Victorine: No, I don't remember that.
Mary: That was before her.
Rocco: It was a little bit before you.
Victorine: That was your time.
Frazier: You told about taking lunch to your father – what would he have when he worked at the mill?
Rocco: In his lunch?
Frazier: In his lunch.
Rocco: I don't know, I didn’ t...
Frazier: You don't remember - you didn't pack his lunch.
Victorine: No, I didn't pack it, my mother would pack it and put it in a basket and made us carry the basket down.
Mary: Oh, probably...
Victorine: Probably eggs and bacon...
Mary: Eggs and onions (laughs).
Victorine: Eggs and onions and peppers, you know, they used to cook that a lot.
Mary: That's about what it is, you know, sauté the onions first, or peppers and then they'd beat the eggs in it, you know, and make an omelet, that was the usual thing, because it would keep the bread nice and moist.
Victorine: She used to make her own bread, too.
Frazier: She probably got up early in the morning and did her cooking - in the summertime especially when it was hot, so she wouldn't have to do it in the heat of the day.
Victorine: I know sometime my brother would get sick, or my sister, and we'd call the doctor in the middle of the night, you know, no matter if they had a temperature, you know, they were always scared. So you'd call the doctor and she'd make us girls get up and straighten up the house, you know, and scrub the floor and everything before the doctor came.
Louis: Do you remember the doctor's name?
Victorine: Dr. Samuels.
Mary: See that, that’ s it, yeah, that's what we told her.
Frazier: He certainly doctored a lot of people.
Victorine: Oh, he was a good doctor.
Rocco: He was a good doctor.
Frazier: I said his son was still living in the Newark area.
Victorine: Really, you said he's a doctor, too.
Louis: He'll probably be very interested in this.
Frazier: No, he's not a doctor.
Victorine: He's still living today. Oh, he's not a doctor?
Frazier: No, he's a newspaper person.
Mary: But you said called a doctor, you meant you went to his house and called him.
Louis: There was no phones at that time.
Rocco: No phone - how did...
Louis: Run - somebody had to run over...
Victorine: He was in Wilmington, somebody had to call, somebody had a phone.
Louis: Did they - at the store did they have a phone?
Victorine: Oh, I'm pretty sure they did.
Frazier: That's right, I'm glad you thought of that.
Mary: Yes, I think so. I think they had one of those grinding things.
Louis: Well, we're talking about after the first World War, yes, it's possible.
Mary: We didn't have any phone in our house, but we had to go someplace to call.
Frazier: Somebody had a phone.
Mary: Somebody had a phone, must have been the store.
Victorine: I think at the store, I think they did. Because he was from Wilmington, we had to call him, we couldn't go down there.
Rocco: I remember, they have a crank.
Victorine: Yea, I'm sure, in the store.
Frazier: Did you have homework from school: carry books home?
Victorine: Never, I don't remember...
Frazier: Did all your work in school?
Victorine: You know what my mother used to make me do – crochet all the time. We used to crochet - we had lace around the pillows and around the sheets, everything lace, lace, lace. And she just kept us busy crocheting all the time under the lamp. No electricity.
Mary: No they had the kerosene lamps, yes.
Frazier: Did anyone knit, or was it just crochet?
Victorine: Was knitting too, I used to knit too and crochet. But she didn't do it, though, my mother. She didn't have time, she had the little kids.
Frazier: Oh sure, she had a lot of work to do, yes. And was there a clock - clocks in the house?
Victorine: Yeah, we had a clock, yeah we had clocks.
Frazier: Were there whistles from the powder yard telling people when the...
Victorine: Yeah, at noon, at twelve o'clock there was always a whistle, wasn't it, Roc, you remember? Yeah, at twelve o'clock that whistle would blow, we knew it was twelve o'clock.
Rocco: The boiler room, that's where they had the whistle because they had steam. All they had to do was pull a chain.
Victorine: At twelve o'clock every day.
Frazier: And your father worked a long day - six-day week?
Victorine: Oh yes. He had a mustache, my Daddy, and in the wintertime when it was real cold, he used to come home and there'd be icicles on it.
Victorine: That's the truth, because I used to want to go kiss him and I didn't want with those icicles (laughs).
- Getting around on foot; Traveling peddlers; Celebrating holidays; Pets; Making lace and crocheting; Neighbor with a motorcycle; Furniture; Taking care of boarders; SleddingKeywords: Bicycles; Boarders; Chairs; Christmas; Couches; Crocheting; Door to door salesmen; Easter; Fourth of July; Furniture; Lace making; Merchants; Montchanin, Del.; Motorcycles; Peddlers; Pets; Sledding; Squirrel Run (Del.: Village); Turkey; WalkingTranscript: Mary: Everywhere they went they had to walk.
Victorine: Yeah, they walked, they had nothing else, they had to.
Frazier: Nobody had cars in those days.
Mary: Not even a bicycle.
Victorine: Well, I don't know, Roc says he had a bicycle.
Mary: Oh, that's right, he did.
Frazier: People ride horses?
Mary: They had wagons, like people come around with groceries sometimes with the wagon. You remember that man, what was that man's name that used to come around, I forget?
Rocco: I don't remember. At Montchanin we used to have a - I told you his name...
Mary: From Centerville, the man from Centerville.
Rocco: But I don't remember down there - in Squirrel Run - his name - there was a butcher used to come around once a week.
Victorine: Macino was it - Macino from Wilmington.
Rocco: Macino was from Wilmington, yeah, that was a butcher.
Victorine: Wilmington - he used to come in.
Victorine: But the other one up - where did you say the store was that they used to bring your grocery around...
Mary: From Centerville.
Victorine: Conner’ s - yeah that's it, Conner's.
Frazier: How about holidays, did you celebrate Thanksgiving?
Victorine: We didn't know what Thanksgiving was. I never saw a turkey.
Frazier: Was not a holiday, was it?
Victorine: (Laughs) The only turkey I saw was across the road - it was Dougherty's, living right across from us. And they had - every Thanksgiving they had a turkey hanging up there and we just used to admire that turkey from the window (laughs). I never tasted turkey until I got married - you believe that? (laughs)
Frazier: But Christmas was an important holiday?
Victorine: Oh, they'd always have a nice dinner – ravioli and chicken, but no turkey. We always celebrated the holidays.
Victorine: Easter and Christmas and Fourth of July.
Frazier: Was that a big holiday?
Victorine: Yeah, Fourth of July was a big holiday down Squirrel Run.
Mary: It was the one that they used to go up in the woods and dance and all, Fourth of July.
Victorine: They put up platforms, you know, and we'd have music and we'd go up there and dance on that platform.
Victorine: I don't remember any fireworks.
Frazier: No, don't remember fireworks?
Mary: No, I don't remember any.
Frazier: Any other holidays you remember?
Mary: New Year's, I guess.
Mary: They didn’ t celebrate New Year's.
Victorine: No, never celebrate - just Christmas, Easter and Fourth of July, three holidays a year.
Frazier: How about pets - dogs or cats?
Victorine: Oh, almost everybody had pets.
Frazier: Cats for the mice.
Frazier: Did you ever see any poisonous snakes around there, anything like that?
Victorine: I never did.
Frazier: No. You said you made - you did a lot of crocheting.
Frazier: Did you make any sachet for your bureau drawers or anything like that?
Victorine: Oh yeah, we used to make those doilies on the bureaus and everything. Should see those crochet: I still got some that's been done down Squirrel Run, do you believe it?
Mary: Still have some?
Frazier: Still have some?
Victorine: They used to crochet and we'd make, you know, for the back of the chairs, they didn't have, like now, I throw a towel - those days everything have to be lace.
Frazier: What were those things called? Can't remember.
Victorine: What: the back of the...
Frazier: The back of the chair, there was a name for them.
Victorine: I don't remember either.
Frazier: Antimacasser, or something like that.
Victorine: Oh yeah?
Frazier: Then you said alcoholic beverages, they went around with beer and they made wine and things like that.
Victorine: Yeah, they made their own wine, mostly everybody did - that liked wine.
Frazier: Do you remember any stealing or any crime, any petty crime in your neighborhood?
Victorine: Never, never.
Frazier: You said some people did have bicycles, too?
Mary: No, we didn't -I don't remember any bicycles.
Frazier: No, but...
Mary: I remember her uncle had a motorcycle.
Rocco: My father.
Mary: That was Frank Bacchino.
Frazier: That was later though, wasn't it?
Victorine: No, that's when she was a baby.
Louis: Had to be 1921, 1920. (voices talking together, can't understand).
Rocco: He married my sister.
Victorine: He married - she died in 1918 during the flu, so he was married before then.
Louis: Yeah, but I say, when he had the motorcycle.
Victorine: Oh, well I don't know.
Rocco: He had a motorcycle in Squirrel Run.
Mary: Yeah, he had it before he was married, no doubt.
Victorine: Oh, yeah, yeah.
Rocco: When he was single. I'll tell you what, he was a real hot temper, you remember that. So one morning it was cold, didn’ t want to start, so he got a hold of a hammer, he says, "Yeah," he started, broke the cylinder and everything on it. He had a few drinks (laughs).
Louis: That the time he killed the motorcycle?
Rocco: He killed it. Then he bought one with a sidecar.
Victorine: Yeah, I went for a ride with him, too. Oh, I used to love to go for a ride in there in that motorcycle, you know, the sidecar.
Frazier: What do you remember about the furnishings in the house?
Mary: Nobody had any really fancy furniture, but they all had a couch, tables and chairs. Not comfortable chairs, just plain chairs like this, like a wooden chair.
Frazier: Like a dining room chair.
Mary: We didn't have no comfortable chairs, I never remember sitting in a comfortable chair (laughs).
Margaret: What were the couches like?
Mary: They were almost all made, you know, and then they'd made a little mattress about that thick - wood. Like you see those benches like they have on porches – well we had – only they were bigger, longer, and then they'd make a little mattress to put on top, and pillows.
Victorine: Not like the couches of today.
Mary: No-o-o - no way.
Victorine: And I bet your furniture came from the secondhand shop just like ours used to come from.
Mary: Probably did, probably did.
Frazier: Now the...
Louis: It would be worth a lot of money if you had it today.
Frazier: Yes, would be. Did your mother feed the boarders?
Mary: Oh, yes.
Frazier: Breakfast and dinner.
Mary: Packed their lunches.
Frazier: Packed their lunches, everything like that.
Mary: Yes. And washed their clothes.
Frazier: All that for seven dollars a week, or something like that.
Mary: I don't remember exactly, but I know it wasn't much.
Victorine: But when you said twenty-five dollars a month, that's very much like it.
Mary: Yeah, I think it's what it was.
Victorine: That's what they used to call full board, if they ate...
Mary: My mother always had boarders - always.
Frazier: Well, she needed the money.
Mary: Yes, right. Then my step-mother had two more children of her own, you know, so we were four - six children.
Frazier: Six, six children, and at least three boarders.
Mary: At least three, maybe four.
Frazier: Did she do quilting, did any of the women do quilting?
Frazier: What did you use for bed covers?
Mary: Just blankets, you know, those flannel blankets.
Victorine: Some of them brought the woolen blankets from Italy.
Mary: Yeah I know, but my mother didn't have any.
Victorine: Remember, almost everybody did.
Frazier: Now, your mother did laundry at home?
Victorine: Oh, yes, and she also did laundry for other people.
Frazier: Boiled the water on the stove...for other people.
Victorine: I used to go early in the morning, before I went to school, pick up the soiled clothes and bring them home and my mother would do them and then when I'd come from school I had to take them back.
Frazier: Did you have wagon rides or sleigh rides in the winter? No?
Victorine: We didn't have no money to buy any sleds.
Frazier: No, I mean I thought maybe you might know someone else.
Mary: Well, there was - Victor Pesce, I think, had a sled. One Sunday we went up, his girlfriend – I went with his girlfriend and we were sledding way up where we had the gardens. I don't know what they called that place up there, I forget, up in the field. My mother didn't know it, though.
Frazier: She might not have liked it.
Mary: No, she wouldn't have left me go.
Louis: There was a lot more discipline from the parents to the children in those days, as you probably gather.
Frazier: Yes, yes I know there were.
Louis: I think it was true all over, but very strict with the children. Always knew where they were at all times, which is different than today.
- Mother's weekly routine; Chores; Home remedies; The influenza epidemic; Food; Getting rid of wash water; GardensKeywords: Chickens; Chores; Fels Naptha; Gardens; Home remedies; Housekeeping; Influenza Epidemic (1918-1919); Laundry; Medicine; Oil lamps; Plasters; Polenta; Pollution; Rabbits; Routines; Seeds; Shopping; Soap; Squirrel Run (Del.: Village); Wilmington, Del.Transcript: Frazier: Did your mother have a routine, like washing on Monday and ironing on Tuesday?
Victorine: They sure did, yes indeed.
Frazier: Do you remember what it was?
Victorine: On Mondays she'd wash and then - I know on a Saturday her and I used to go to Wilmington and do our shopping, do the shopping, you know, and I used to have to carry the bags.
Frazier: You go on the trolley?
Victorine: On the trolley car.
Frazier: Did food shopping?
Victorine: Food shopping, yes. Carried those bags, you know, with the handles. Every Saturday her and I we'd go, and my sister would stay home and clean the house.
Frazier: And she'd probably wish she could go along.
Victorine: No, no - she didn't want to go.
Frazier: She didn't?
Victorine: M-m-m, 'cause my mother was a woman that she always wanted to do things right, you know, and she used to say, "A week each." She said, "One time you come, one time Vera comes." And Vera said to me, (whispers) "You go.” She was very bashful, she used to go, "You go all the time, I'll stay home and clean."
Frazier: She didn't want to go.
Victorine: And I was just so tickled to go, I didn't want to stay home and clean (laughs).
Frazier: She had a lot of work, she had a real busy day.
Victorine: Yes she did, she was a very hard working woman, she really was.
Mary: Victorine, you're talking about your step-mother?
Victorine: Step-mother, yes, I don't remember my mother.
Mary: You don't remember your mother?
Victorine: No, I was only two years old.
Rocco: Oh, she was small, very small.
Victorine: I was only two when my mother died.
Mary: Oh, I see, I didn't know just when she came in.
Victorine: And my father stayed two years without getting married, then he got married and I was four years old when my step-mother came.
Mary: Oh, so you really knew her better than your own mother?
Victorine: I didn't know my mother at all.
Frazier: Were they married in this country?
Frazier: Yes? Was she Italian also?
Victorine: Yes, she came from Italy and she had lost a husband and four children over there, so then she came over, she married my father with four children and she says it looked like God gave her back her husband and her four children.
Frazier: Oh, isn't that nice.
Frazier: So she was your mother?
Frazier: How about toys and games when you were a youngster?
Victorine: Never had a toy in my life.
Frazier: You didn't - not a doll or...
Victorine: Never, never had a doll or nothing. And I used to hang my stocking back of the stove.
Frazier: At Christmas?
Victorine: For Christmas, and she'd put an orange in there and a couple nuts and I used to like anisette, and she always put a little bottle of anisette for me. That was my Christmas presents, and nothin' else.
Frazier: But you children ...
Victorine: We were happy just the same, we were all happy.
Frazier: You were always busy, had a lot to do.
Victorine: Always busy, oh, we had a lot to do. On Saturdays we had to get all the lamps, you know, in all the rooms, we had all lamps, you know, kerosene lamps, had to wash the tubes, fill up the lamp, you know, with the kerosene, then bring them back to each room.
Frazier: That's a messy job.
Victorine: And in the morning, every morning we used to have to go - we had those pots underneath the beds, you know, get a bucket with water and wash them out, then go down there outside house and dump it – that was our job every morning too.
Frazier: Don't think of those things, do you? Now when you got sick, though, you called the doctor – nobody had home remedies or anything like that?
Mary: My mother had some home remedies - she used to always make plasters when we had a cold, onion plasters. She took care of us pretty good, and made broth, you know, and give us orange juice to drink, yes, she took good care of us.
Frazier: Well, of course, a lot of children died at an early age in those days.
Mary: Yeah, I guess mostly with pneumonia.
Frazier: A lot of them did. And even a simple infection...
Victorine: We had the flu, too, down Squirrel Run. A lot of people died then.
Frazier: That was 1918.
Victorine: Yeah, almost all the mothers that were carrying a baby died.
Frazier: Yes, that's what the Perrone's said.
Margret: Yes, she told the same thing, 'cause Roc's sister died then too.
Mary: Joe Pesce's wife died when she was carrying twins.
Victorine: Oh my, imagine that.
Mary: I had a little brother that died during the flu.
Frazier: That was a bad time all over the country. Now, did your mother have favorite recipes – did she write them down in a book, or just keep them in her head?
Victorine: Never - she never had a recipe, I don't think - everything was just out of her head.
Frazier: She just cooked good meals.
Victorine: Yes, yes (tea kettle is whistling in background).
Mary: Plain, plain meals - soup one day and spaghetti the next. The food that didn't cost much, and then we'd have meat once a week.
Victorine: And chicken usually.
Mary: Yeah, chicken on Sundays.
Frazier: Your chickens?
Mary: And rabbits - we raised a lot of rabbits down there.
Frazier: Oh, did you raise rabbits?
Mary: Yeah, I used to go get the grass and feed them. One time I had as far as thirty.
Louis: Thirty rabbits.
Mary: Yeah, so my mother used to kill them and we'd cook rabbits.
Frazier: Well, that was a good meal.
Mary: Yes, it was very good.
Victorine: Polenta, maybe.
Louis: Cornmeal, cornmeal mush.
Victorine: Cornmeal mush, and rabbit gravy over it, that was a good meal.
Frazier: When she did her washing, did she have a wringer for her washtub?
Frazier: Did it by hand?
Mary: Know what she used to do, when like in the spring, when you take all off the heavy covers, you know, she'd wash them before she'd put them away and she'd go on one end and I'd go on the other. She'd twist one way and I would twist the other way, and that's how we did it.
Victorine: Yes, I used to do the same thing. With the sheets, we did that too, yeah.
Frazier: What kind of soap did she use when she did her laundry - did she make her own soap?
Mary: She used to make her own soap sometimes, she didn't make it all the time, but she did sometimes, yes.
Victorine: It was usually be yellow soap, you know that...
Mary: Yeah, the yellow soap like Fels Naptha.
Victorine: Octagon, Fels Naptha, yes, stuff like that –
Mary: Strong soap.
Victorine: Did she boil the clothes?
Mary: Oh yes, oh yes.
Victorine: She did, huh, see, that's what we did too – boiled them in a big boiler, you know on the stove and put your clothes down there and boiled them.
Frazier: And what happened to the wash water when she was finished with it?
Mary: We used to throw it down the creek, we used to call it (laughs) down, you know, below our house and there was a running water down there. There was like a little hill and we'd go dump it down there. Everybody did.
Victorine: But there was no smell or anything.
Frazier: Well, I guess it took it away.
Louis: I think the soap was natural soap and it disintegrated as against the modern day soap that does not disintegrate.
Frazier: That's right, that's right.
Louis: I don't think there resulted any pollution from these natural-type soaps that they used in those days.
Frazier: There were a lot of them made at home. Ice – you said you had ice - ice man come through and deliver. Did you ever skate on the Brandywine when you were a youngster?
Mary: No, I was scared to death of the water.
Frazier: I think a lot of the boys did, I don't know that a lot of the girls did.
Victorine: Oh yeah, Roc used to go.
Frazier: How about seeds for the garden, where did you get the seeds?
Mary: I guess they bought the seeds - they had to buy then, I guess, don't you think?
Victorine: And some of them they would save, you know, they would save them. I still save like pepper seeds and things like that. You know you could go down and buy a pack of seeds for ten cents almost anywhere.
Mary: Oh, yeah.
Louis: Well, there was a lot of farm supply stores in those days too, farm supply places to sell the seeds for the local farmers. Plenty of farms in those days they're talking about - take in the teen years – in other words, before the first World War and even up until the late twenties, until farming in the northern Delaware and this part of Pennsylvania started to be done away with. I mean there wasn't – farming declined as it is today in northern Delaware, there's not too many farms left.
Louis: But in those days every house that was out away from the city was practically a farm house.
Frazier: They grew tomatoes and...
Mary: Tomatoes and peppers and...
Louis: Beans - lettuce.
Mary: Beans and potatoes.
Frazier: Oh, you did grow potatoes?
Mary: Yes, father used to grow potatoes.
Frazier: Did you use compost - have a compost pile for the garden?
Mary: We may have.
Frazier: How about flowers, did you have flowers?
Mary: A lot of people had flowers down at Squirrel Run.
- Dealing with flies and mosquitoes; Women's social activities; Work; Getting mail; Breakfast; ChoresKeywords: Breakfasts; Coffee; Eggs; FLies; Henry Clay (Del.: Village); Hodgson Bros. woolen mill; Irons (Pressing); Laundry; Mail; Mosquitoes; WorkTranscript: Frazier: Do you ever remember visiting at Eleutherian Mills or anything like that - the house?
Frazier: No? Were there problems with flies and mosquitoes and bugs like that?
Mary: Oh yes, yes there was.
Frazier: Did you have screens?
Mary: They had - yeah, we had screens, and they'd buy those papers, you know those...
Victorine: That sticky paper.
Mary: Sticker paper you used to call them, like in sheets, like this, you know, and they'd put them wherever, you know, there would be food or anything, and the flies would just ... and then when they were full of flies, we'd throw them away and put new ones. Then they had the other kind that you...
Victorine: That you hung.
Mary: ...with a thumb tack, you know, then they would hang, a little strip.
Louis: Hang from the ceiling.
Mary: Little strip.
Frazier: Bought those at the store?
Frazier: Did you buy things from catalogs, like the Sears Catalog?
Victorine: Didn't you - you never bought from the catalog?
Mary: I don't remember - did you?
Victorine: Yes, we used to. We used to buy everything from the catalog.
Frazier: Did your father belong to any men's groups?
Mary: He belonged to Northern Italy Society, in fact I've still got his pin.
Frazier: And your mother?
Victorine: There wasn't much for women at that time.
Mary: Women had to just work, they had...
Victorine: That's right.
Louis: The only social events that they had was visiting one another.
Mary: Yeah, that's all, I mean there was nothing...
Louis: There was no clubs or any recreation for – once you were married, your children were your recreation.
Victorine: That's about all.
Louis: And your household duties.
Mary: They were too busy to.
Louis: Well they were very busy, naturally they were. (There has been rattling of dishes as some refreshments are served.)
Mary: Cookies are good.
Victorine: Walt did my shopping this morning, so I left it up to him.
Frazier: Some of the families earned money by peeling willows that they used in the powder works. Did you ever hear of that? Maybe that was earlier, probably earlier than you lived there.
Victorine: Did you ever work at that mill - the...
Louis: Wool mill.
Victorine: Wool mill?
Mary: U-huh: I was too young.
Victorine: Oh, you were too young.
Louis: This is where we were saying Katie - if she would have been here, she worked at the...
Victorine: Yes, there was another party that was supposed to come.
Mary: But she doesn't remember hardly nothing anymore.
Margaret: Well how old did you have to be to work?
Mary: Oh at that time? About fourteen.
Louis: Fourteen, fifteen years old, she moved away just when she was getting ready to go to work.
Mary: Yeah, you bet, fourteen they went to work.
Margaret: My brother worked down at that mill.
Frazier: Did he - at the woolen mill?
Frazier: Was that Hodgson's Mill, do you know?
Margaret: I don't remember the name, don't know.
Frazier: There were several there.
Victorine: Across the creek, down further, down towards Henry Clay, wasn't it, down that way? Further down, before you got to Squirrel Run, in other words. It was way down.
Mary: Oh yeah, it was down there, oh yes.
Frazier: Lots of children did work?
Mary: Oh yeah, and there was - the little boys used to deliver paper, and the one was in charge - her name was Mrs. Mundy, and she used to come every Saturday in all the houses in Squirrel Run, and collect money, that, you know...
Frazier: For the paper.
Mary: For the paper.
Frazier: Do you remember what paper it was?
Mary: No, I don't remember, but I know we always got it.
Frazier: Wilmington paper?
Victorine: Must have come from Wilmington.
Frazier: Who delivered the mail? How did they deliver the mail?
Victorine: You know I don't know.
Louis: Well you said it came into the post office down at the... (Several voices) Henry Clay, you had to go down for it.
Louis: Everybody had to go down there to pick it up, wouldn't come to the house, had to go down there to pick it up.
Mary: That's right, you’ re right.
Louis: And you mailed your letters down there, when you wrote your letters to...
Mary: Oh yeah, sure, we had to bring them down to the post office.
Louis: Bring them down to the post office.
Frazier: Were there any other deliveries, like magazines or anything like that?
Mary: Not that I know of.
Frazier: Your mother was the first one up in the morning and she cooked the breakfast for the family?
Frazier: Do you remember what you had for breakfast?
Victorine: Sometime I used to have coffee and milk and an egg beat up, you know, with the coffee and the milk and dip my bread in there.
Frazier: Oh, like an egg nog.
Victorine: An egg nog, yeah.
Frazier: Very nourishing.
Victorine: Most of the time I'd have that.
Frazier: Children drank coffee when they were quite young then?
Mary: Yeah, but they would put very little coffee, almost all milk.
Frazier: Almost all milk.
Mary: Just to give it color.
Victorine: Yeah, it was called lach a'caffette - lach a'caffette was a thing that they would have in Italy. The lach was the milk, and caffette was coffee, and then they'd spusa - the bread in it, you know, dip the bread in.
Mary: I used to like it too, we all grew up like that. And on Easter morning we used to go to church early in the morning and then my mother would have a big bowl of hard boiled eggs on the table, and that was our breakfast for Easter morning.
Frazier: With the chickens, you probably had a lot of eggs.
Victorine: I think that's the reason we are very particular about the eggs we buy, they have to be fresh. 'Cause we were used to it, you know, just having a fresh egg practically the morning...
Mary: The morning eggs, almost always brown eggs.
Victorine: Yeah, brown was the one that...
Mary: I don't ever remember seeing any white eggs.
Victorine: No, they were partial to those brown eggs.
Frazier: And after school when you came home, you said you didn't ever have any homework - you had to work, though, didn't you?
Mary: My mother would have - you know - we didn't have no electric - my mother would have the irons, those irons, you know, on the stove, nice and hot – when we got home we changed our clothes and the ironing board was up already and the clothes were all there and we got busy and ironed, right as soon as we got in the house.
Frazier: Every day?
Mary: Every day.
Louis: With all those boarders and brothers and father and everything, there was ironing to do every day.
Frazier: I imagine.
Louis: And it wasn't just Monday you washed, you washed a couple times a week.
Mary: Oh, yeah, oh yeah.
Louis: Wash day was more than just Monday.
Mary: But like I say, I wasn't sorry that my mother, my step-mother was so strict on us and made us work because it taught us a lot, you know. When I got married it wasn't hard for me. I knew how to make homemade spaghetti already, I knew how to cook, knew how to wash, and there was a lot of things I knew how to do on account of my mother making us do it before. But how many girls got married and didn't even know how to boil and egg or anything, or boil water or anything like that. So I never...
Victorine: Regretted it.
Mary: No, I always said she done me good.
Frazier: With no electricity you probably went to bed early in the evening, didn't you?
Mary: Not really early, we used to have that pot-bellied stove, you know, and we'd all sit around it and talk, you know, and things like that. And I'd go to sleep like in front of the - my mother would go, "Go to bed." Alright, but I didn't want to leave because it was so warm there and upstairs it was cold.
Frazier: It was cold.
Mary: And I said, "Alright, Mom, alright, Mom.” And I'd just go to sleep (laughs).
Frazier: And in the summertime it was lighter so you could go out and play.
Mary: Oh, then we'd play, yeah.
Frazier: Play games and everything.
Mary: Stayed out on the porch.
Frazier: I guess it must have been a very nice community.
Mary: It was, I thought it was. I wished I was still there.
Victorine: Well, I enjoyed my time when I went there, always did.
Rocco: Especially on a Saturday. Every Saturday we had a dance, Saturday and Sunday.
Louis: Well, people did more things together in those days, they were closer.
Mary: They had to stick together because of the language barrier.
Victorine: You know what I had to do on Saturdays? Like I said, we had a bench out on the porch - I had to get all my brothers', my father's, and the boarders’ shoes. I put them there on the bench and I polished all them shoes.
Frazier: Oh my goodness.
Mary: Imagine that.
Frazier: Yes, that's a lot, isn't it?
Mary: Yeah, then my neighbor, sometimes used to come over with her son's shoes. "Will you clean Pete's shoes?"
Louis: Didn't have enough to do, did you?
Mary: I couldn't say no, I’ d be ashamed.
Rocco: You didn't have enough (laughs).
Louis: Figured you had another minute or two maybe that you weren't too busy.
Mary: Today, if you tell a kid, you know, "You do this for me for nothing," you know, they wouldn't do it, you'd have to pay them, right?
Rocco: You have a little more coffee?
Mary: No, I don't want any more, thank you.
Victorine: No thank you - it was good, Roc.
Louis: No thank you.
- Bathing; Explosions at Hagley; Parents work; Irish Italian prejudice in Squirrel Run; Moving away from the BrandywineKeywords: African-Americans; Bathing; English language; Explosions; Hagley Yard; Hockessin, Del.; Hygiene; Irish Americans; Italian Americans; Italian language; Kennett Square, Pa.; Mushroom baskets; New Garden, Pa.; Prejudice; Squirrel Run (Del.: Village); Toughkenamon, Pa.; WorkTranscript: Frazier: Very good, thank you. Did you get water from the pump to wash your face before you went to bed?
Mary: Yes, oh yes. My mother would always have a big bucketful in the kitchen.
Frazier: Now how about bathing, bathing - where was that done?
Rocco: Right in the kitchen, tub, usually have...
Mary: Close - she'd pull down the shades on the windows and we'd be in there in the kitchen with a tub. And my sister and I used to use the same water -what are you gonna do - you couldn't heat all that water up. We were clean, my mother kept us very, very clean.
Frazier: No if anyone has anything to add - Mrs. Perrone, or Mr. Perrone - either of you about what you remember from your father or something, why, you know...
Mary: Right now I can't recall.
Louis: But I'm really - as far as I'm concerned, I'm really anxious to look at those payroll records, especially the period we're interested in, which is from 1914 or 1913 up until the plant closed. Because a lot of the people who worked there at that time were related.
Victorine: Yes, all the people that lived down there.
Mary: I'm sorry you didn't make a tape recording of my Dad when he used to reminisce about...
Louis: Her father-in-law and my wife's father used to - here before they died, I mean, ten years ago, ten, fifteen years ago - this was their pastime because they were both elderly and retired and they used to recount all the stories of old, you know, from Italy and then down at Squirrel Run and the different events that happened and they would constantly – we got to memorize some of those things that they kept recounting all the time. This is when a tape recorder would have come in handy.
Frazier: Would have been wonderful.
Mary: It was awfully hard for them, not knowing the language. And of course they were taught that you're here, and you have to learn the English language.
Louis: The last time that the mill blew, what was it - 1917? Or 1918, Roc?
Louis: ’ 18 - my father-in-law at that time was a black powder man, he had just moved over to tending the boiler in the boiler house, the boiler house was quite a ways distant from the rolling mills, and he had some friends, and I think he was to deliver a message to the men that were working in the rolling mill, he knew them and he was told to go over there and tell them to do something. And he said he wasn't out of that rolling mill, on his way back to the boiler house, when he heard this tremendous blast.
Frazier: Oh my goodness.
Victorine: Just imagine.
Louis: And only...
Victorine: Could have been it.
Frazier: Yeah, he could have been in it.
Louis: Yeah - realize that all of his friends were gone.
Mary: Oh, there was an awful excitement down there - Katie Catalina...
Victorine: Katie Catalina's husband was killed (several voices speaking at once talking about the blast). Terrible.
Mary: When that went off, the house, you know, all the windows just shook something terrible.
Frazier: That was a bad blast, it really was, yes. Do you remember any special events at Breck's Mill when you were living there? No?
Victorine: I guess you didn't get out very much.
Mary: No, I didn't, I didn't, we always had to work, we were always home.
Frazier: Well, you had your parties or - right at Squirrel Run when you lived there?
Mary: Yes, in each other's homes, in each other's homes.
Frazier: Yes. You rented your house, didn't you?
Mary: Well, my father used to work for DuPont, you know, and whoever worked for them, they got the house free, free of rent.
Frazier: I think some of them they did and some of them they didn't.
Mary: Well, we didn't have to pay.
Frazier: You didn't have to pay, no. Did anyone beside yourself have a job for extra income - like you said you worked in the store and you did babysitting and things like that - did your brothers have...
Mary: Oh, both of my brothers worked for the same place where my father used to work, yeah. But they were older than...
Frazier: They were older than you and your sister?
Mary: Yeah, one was four years older and the other was six years older than me.
Frazier: They both worked at the mills did they?
Mary: Yeah, they worked at the mill and they worked at Bancrofts and then they worked up for the du Ponts. Used to go up there and work in the fields, I don't know what they did.
Frazier: Labor type - did your father have a second job? Oh, you said he worked around the clock, he worked twenty-four hours.
Margaret: That was my father.
Victorine: That's her father, worked twenty-four.
Frazier: Oh, that's right.
Mary: But my father did too, I think.
Margaret: Well he had his cot over there and slept there. I don't know how long he did it, but for a period of time I know he did.
Louis: The way he explained it was that they were making a new type of powder and they needed the boiler kept for twenty-four hour a day the boiler must be maintained at full efficiency. The steam must be up to a certain level twenty-four hours a day for a period of, I think, well over two weeks that he did this.
Victorine: I used to come over and sleep with your mother.
Louis: While they ran this test new powder through the process, and that's how it came about.
Frazier: Do you remember any luxuries that you were able to afford at all? No?
Victorine: Not at all.
Frazier: Everything was needed was it?
Frazier: Have any stories you have about neighborhood characters or anything like that – neighborhood bully?
Mary: Well there used to be, but I forget the name. (Some comments in the background.)
Frazier: But you said you thought it was a nice place to live.
Mary: I thought it was because we were all friendly, you know, everybody...
Rocco: Like a big family.
Mary: Yeah, just like one big family.
Victorine: I think so.
Mary: Somebody got sick, you know, they'd right away go help, you know, and bring them broth or whatever they had - crackers and things like that.
Margaret: Except they weren't too well liked by the Irish.
Frazier: Oh, was there...
Victorine: Irish people were very much against.
Margaret: And it was the funniest thing, you know, Squirrel Run had the water and it had rows of houses that side and all on this side. All the Italian people lived on that side and all the Irish lived over this side, they were all together, weren't they, Roc?
Margaret: They used to call us names, those Irish.
Victorine: They used to play, too, with us. I mean I met those girls up there.
Mary: Weren't very nice to us, they kept calling us names all the time. Every time my brother or my sister was born, you know, they'd call "Mom, another little Guinea in the Marenco family." They used to make me cry.
Victorine: Oh yeah, they enjoyed it: they would call names all right. They'd go "Wop, Guinea", everything under the sun (laughs). We never called them names.
Mary: Well, I had that trouble in Philadelphia, too, now. I mean I had the same trouble, in Philadelphia.
Frazier: I'm sure you did.
Mary: And then they marry with - you know - I've got an Irish sister-in-law.
Louis: Then later years...
Frazier: Oh, you have?
Mary: My brother married an Irish girl.
Louis: In later years they inter-married.
Mary: Victorine, is her name Haley?
Mary: She's a Haley, yeah. One of the old names of the Squirrel Run people.
Frazier: Well, language was a barrier, of course, because you probably spoke Italian at home.
Mary: Yes, oh yeah, my mother couldn't speak one word English.
Frazier: And the Irish, of course...
Mary: Well, see being that they spoke English right away was something that they were very proud of. They could speak the language where we couldn't.
Louis: Go back to the Irish history, they weren't very proud of it, from the way they talk, you know, they were forced to learn English.
Mary: I don't know.
Louis: Ireland, they spoke Gaelic.
Mary: They did, really?
Louis: Yeah, when England actually punished them for speaking Gaelic.
Frazier: Made them speak the English language.
Louis: So that they went through their terror too, back in Ireland.
Victorine: Over there.
Mary: Well when they came here, they were better off than...
Louis: Well, they were forced to learn English, so naturally when they came here, they already knew English.
Victorine: Yeah, that’ s true.
Louis: 'Course the Italian, it was a rather strange language and it took a long time to pick it up and become fluent in English. Very few of the old-timers ever did become fluent in English.
Mary: Nobody had washing machines or dryers.
Victorine: Oh, not at that time, nobody...
Frazier: When you went to school, though, you didn't have special language training did you? You just went, and you had to pick it up, whether you knew English or not.
Margaret: Did you know English before you started school?
Mary: Oh yeah.
Frazier: You did - just from talking to people in the...
Mary: The kids around.
Frazier: The kids around - kids always learn fast. But as you said, your mother probably wasn't...
Mary: My mother couldn't say one word, my father could.
Frazier: Yes, well he worked...
Mary: He went to school too, night school. And he knew how to read English too, but my poor mother didn't.
Frazier: Well, she worked so hard and was so busy with her family. Now when you left Squirrel Run, you told me you went to...
Margaret: New Garden. You know where that is, don't you?
Mary: That's just above Kennett Square, it's the next town.
Margaret: That's right near Toughkenamon, you know, you go...
Mary: Toughkenamon, New Garden, it's all...
Margaret: Where the school is, there's a school up there. That's where I lived.
Frazier: You've lived in this area, then, ever since. Did you go - you went to work up here.
Margaret: I went and worked at the basket factory in Toughkenamon, when I was fifteen. And I was doing piece work down there. I was getting thirty-five cents a hundred baskets. I was making mushroom baskets, thirty-five cents a hundred.
Frazier: Oh my goodness.
Victorine: Didn't you get your hands cut up pretty well with those baskets.
Margaret: Wasn't the basket, it was the hooks you made. Used to make holes and then blood would squirt out of my fingers. You had to tape them.
Frazier: That's hard work.
Margaret: I worked there for two years and then I got married. Moved in Hockessin. (Tone of voices seems to change on the tape at this point - not sure who is speaking.)
Victorine: That's where she's living now, in Hockessin.
Mary: I've been living in Hockessin now for - it will be fifty-five years in June.
Frazier: That must have been country when you moved there.
Mary: Yeah, there wasn't much - now all built up.
Frazier: No, now it's all built up, but it's a nice area.
Mary: Yes, I like it. I don’ t like where I’ m living, but … Kind of in front, you know.
Frazier: Now, anybody have anything else they want to...
Rocco: You know who used to live down (coughs) across from you? Dan Shields family, he had a lumber yard.
Margaret: You mean in Squirrel Run?
Rocco: In Squirrel Run, yeah.
Frazier: The Shields family?
Frazier: Oh, the lumberyard Shields.
Rocco: Now he has lumberyard in Greenville - Dan. He knew my Daddy well.
Frazier: There is a Shields family now living in a house near Christ Church, that used to be - now I don't know if it's the same house - where the Seitz family lived. This is Nelson Shields, he may be a grandson or...
Rocco: Could be.
Frazier: Could be? But he's living there in that house.
Rocco: The Antoines.
Mary: Down there we never saw colored people.
Frazier: Never? (Several voices emphasize this point.)
Mary: But up Free Park at Cheney's, they had a colored maid there, colored maid. So I was taking my little brother and sister for a walk up there, you know, and she was sweeping out on the porch, and I stopped (laughs) I stopped and looked at her, you know, it was something new for me, because the rest were all white, you know, and she was the only black, and I was thinking to myself, how come she's black and the rest are white, you know, so I just stopped and stared at her. And she said, "What are you looking at?" Boy did I keep on going (laughs).
Louis: That's the first colored person you saw?
Mary: First colored person I ever saw. No, there was no colored people in Squirrel Run.
Frazier: Probably not many in Wilmington, then, either.
Frazier: Well I certainly thank you. This has been wonderful. Thank you all.
Mary: I’ ve enjoyed it myself, talking about it again, you know - go back.
Victorine: Well, you'll be more than surprised when you hear this.
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