Interview with Rose Murabito, 1984 March 22 [audio]

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  • Family background and early life; Chores and daily life; Starting to work at Hodgson's woolen mill
    Keywords: Abruzzi, Italy; Brazil; Chores; Crochet; Great Depression; Hodgson Bros. woolen mill; Homes; Immigration; Italian Americans; Italy; Siblings; Wilmington, Del.
    Transcript: Frazier: Your name is Rose Murabito. You were born in this house, is that right?

    Murabito: Yes and raised here.

    Frazier: And how old are you?

    Murabito: 75.

    Frazier: And um what was your father's name?

    Murabito: Rocco.

    Frazier: And where was he born?

    Murabito: ________ Italy.

    Frazier: And the date was 1871.

    Murabito: About that.

    Frazier: And your mother's maiden name?

    Murabito: DeDiego.

    Frazier: And where was she born?

    Murabito: She was born in Abruzzi.

    Frazier: Italy?

    Murabito: Italy.

    Frazier: um hum... in 1880?

    Murabito: 1881.

    Frazier: 1881.

    Murabito: Right.

    Frazier: Do you have any brothers or sisters?

    Murabito: I have two sisters. Two sisters and one brother living. I have a sister and a brother that died.

    Frazier: You had a big family, then.

    Murabito: Yes there was five of us.

    Frazier: Did your grandparents ever come to this country?

    Murabito: My mother's father. We do not know any of my father's people 'cause they married in South America and they come here.

    Frazier: That was your mother's family.

    Murabito: My mother's family.

    Frazier: Did they move to Wilmington?

    Murabito: In the neighborhood, yes.

    Frazier: You said they went to Brazil.

    Murabito: Well ....

    Frazier: And then they came up here.

    Murabito: That's when she was young and single.

    Frazier: Yeah.

    Murabito: Thirteen or Fourteen years old.

    Frazier: Do know any other people that lived with you or worked with you up in the Hagley area that would be available for interviews? Any of your relatives?

    Murabito: Not my relatives, but I had a couple of friends that wouldn’ t mind being interviewed because I spoke to them about it.

    Frazier: Yes, what were their names?

    Murabito: It's been quite a while, I guess they thought...

    Frazier: Somebody forgot them? Huh? yeah.

    Murabito: I've got a couple of them and I can give you their names and phone numbers.

    Frazier: All right why don't you give me their name on tape and then you can give me their phone later.

    Murabito: Okay.

    Frazier: Well you can give it to me later.

    Murabito: Oh, I forgot that I was here.

    Frazier: You have to stay here. How about pictures? Do you have any pictures of the area?

    Murabito: That's funny, I don't but I believe you might get those from Mrs. Piane.

    Frazier: Mmm hmm.

    Murabito: I think she told me she had some pictures from when we worked down there.

    Frazier: Yeah. Now, let's talk about your home life when you were a little girl here. There were quite a few of you in this house. How many bedrooms do you have?

    Murabito: Two.

    Frazier: Only two?

    Murabito: Well, they're not your young people today, they want a room for each child today. (Laughter)

    Frazier: Yes. uh huh.

    Murabito: No, we were all raised together.

    Frazier: Mmm hmm.

    Murabito: Well this was another room here.

    Frazier: It was?

    Murabito: Yes I mean it's closed in because it's all been redone years ago. This was an extra room here.

    Frazier: Did the girls sleep in one room and the boys in another?

    Murabito: Yes they did. I only had one brother and he was the baby so most of the time they were in the parents' room.

    Frazier: That's right, yea. And I bet you girls had a lot of chores around the house, didn't you?

    Murabito: Oh yes we couldn't go out to play 'till we did so much crocheting we all had our homework, we all had to do dishes. (Laughter) we never got away with that. (Laughter) but we had a good time.

    Frazier: And bed making?

    Murabito: It sounds funny my mother was very particular about the beds. Beds and linen one thing she was very particular about. She didn't like anybody to sit on the beds just to sit around or talk like they would today. But uh no. We had kittens around the house so we wouldn't let 'em near the bed 'cause she didn't like anything sitting on her beds.

    Frazier: Did you have feather beds?

    Murabito: We sure did. Now we didn't really have feather beds. The regular feather beds would be what they'd sleep on wouldn't it? We had feather pillows. We used to wash the feathers and dry them and make them up.

    Frazier: Oh, put them out on the line? She made her own pillows then.

    Murabito: Yes, she did.

    Frazier: Where did she get the feathers?

    Murabito: We didn't have goose feathers at that time. (Laughter)

    Frazier: Chicken feathers! That's great!

    Murabito: You know they believed in killing their own chickens so we always had . . . . ..

    Frazier: So there were a lot of girls and one boy in the family.

    Murabito: Right.

    Frazier: The girls I bet had a lot of fun together, playing together.

    Murabito: Well, I guess a lot of people were a lot .... the young ones today would never understand it like we had a family next to us that had five girls and lots of girls were plenty of company. We always had, my father took in all the girls on the street (Laughter) he loved children. It didn't matter whose kids they were as long as we were around here they were allowed to stay here and play and all, and I think I saw then today, they're moving around.

    Frazier: That’ s right. Where did your father work?

    Murabito: Well, he was a laborer so he worked wherever he could' cause I remember him working on the du Pont Gardens worked wherever they could get work it was a pretty bad time.

    Frazier: Yeah.

    Murabito: That's why I went out to work so early.

    Frazier: That was the beginning of the depression.

    Frazier: When did you go to work?

    Murabito: You know I can't remember the exact date but I was fourteen.

    Frazier: You were fourteen, and where did you work?

    Murabito: The wool mill,that was the first job I had.

    Frazier: The wool mill. What was the name of the mill?

    Murabito: Hodgson's.

    Frazier: Hodgson's?

    Murabito: Hodgson's Brothers or Hodgoson's.

    Frazier: And where was that located?

    Murabito: Where the Hagley is today. They had what we called Walker's Mill we called that the old mill because they had they made wool there too. And then where we were at up the yard, we called up the yard, Hagley's we called that the new mill. So we used to say the old man runs the old mill and his brother used to run the new mill. But they were all a bunch of kids.

    Frazier: That worked in the mill?

    Murabito: That's right. We were all between fourteen and sixteen ‘ cause we went to school part time a half a day a week.

    Frazier: Where did you go to school?

    Murabito: Wilmington.

    Frazier: Half a day a week?

    Murabito: That's all.

    Frazier: That's all. And the rest of the time you worked.

    Murabito: That was it. That was working with working papers. The law made you do that.

    Frazier: And what was your job? You must have had several in the mill.

    Murabito: Well, yes. Twister, spinner, reel. (Laughter)

    Frazier: It was dangerous work.

    Murabito: To us it didn't seem dangerous. The only dangerous part was... the thing was they had the uh ends or big wheels were covered. So really unless you did something out of the way it wasn't dangerous. It was dirty, we got dirty, we got water all over us and all.
  • Typical work day at Hodgson's; Working at a cigar factory; Explosions at Hagley; Management at Hodgson's
    Keywords: Accidents; Cigar factories; Explosions; Hagley Yard; Hodgson Bros. woolen mill; Lunch; Management; School; Street-railroads; Wilmington, Del.; Work
    Transcript: Frazier: Now let's take a typical day when you went to work what time did you get up in the morning?

    Murabito: We had to be there at 7:00 and most of the time we walked.

    Frazier: You walked out to....

    Murabito: from here

    Frazier: From here?

    Frazier: How long did it take you?

    Murabito: Well we used to leave right after six, quarter after six we were on our way and it seemed like we would gather one after another that lived on the way up. We used to stop at the Rockford Tower first, and we'd rest there and then we'd go down... I don't know whether those steps are still there. There used to be steps that would lead down to Rising Sun Lane just before we had a covered bridge there at that time. And we'd walk up that road to work.

    Frazier: And, you had breakfast at home?

    Murabito: Very little, we weren't used to breakfast. You know, I still don't. Once in a great while if I eat late or say I'll have breakfast and eat late, but uh no most of the time we brought an extra sandwich and we'd would eat it up at the tower. (Laughter) that's funny.

    Frazier: But you took your lunch with you.

    Murabito: Oh, yes.

    Frazier: And what did you have for lunch?

    Murabito: Well, lots of times it was things that my mother had fixed for us. Like peppers and eggs, tomatoes and eggs, she'd fix something else for us. Some lunch meat, we had.... we may not have had a lot of money, but we were always fed. (Laughter)

    Frazier: Yes, well you got there at 7:00, and then what did you do?

    Murabito: Well, just worked 'till lunch time. Lunch time if the weather was good we went out along the banks and ate our lunch.

    Frazier: And that was about noon time?

    Murabito: Oh, yes twelve o'clock we had our lunch. Everybody had their lunch at the same time. The machinery stopped. I don't remember whether we had just a half hour and then like the ones that...like myself I wasn't old enough to work a full day; we got done at 3:30. We had eight hours. Some of the other women worked ten hours, but uh every afternoon some of us would have to go to school.

    Frazier: You went school at...after lunch on Friday.

    Murabito: Right, half a day. I'd work a half a day and then come home to school.

    Frazier: Did you work on Saturday?

    Murabito: Yes we did.

    Frazier: Six days.

    Murabito: Yes we did.

    Frazier: Eight hours a day.

    Murabito: That was fourteen-year-olds.

    Frazier: mmm hmm.

    Frazier: That's a lot of work.

    Murabito: Yes it was.

    Frazier: And then at 3:30 you finished and you walked home again?

    Murabito: You know, there used to be a trolley used to go up that way. Did anybody ever tell you that?

    Frazier: Yes.

    Murabito: There used to be a trolley, and that trolley used to come right by my house, and sometimes we took the trolley. You know where the hall of records is?

    Frazier: Yes.

    Murabito: I don't think they ever changed that building. I don't maybe they've changed the building or fixed it, but that building was there, and that trolley used to go all the way up to there because it was bad weather, those guys used to let us wait inside until the trolley came.

    Frazier: What was the trolley fare?

    Murabito: Why probably eight cents at that time. (Laughter) Maybe even less; I can't remember that well. I can't remember exactly. Sometimes we walked we didn't seem to mind and no wonder we ate so much. We weren't heavy either then. (Laughter)

    Frazier: You must have been in great condition with all that exercise.

    Murabito: Well, I guess we were to live through all of it.

    Frazier: How long did you work there at Hodgoson's Mill?

    Murabito: I guess I worked there 'till about age 16. Then I got another job. I wasn't there too long.

    Frazier: In the area? Was your other job in the Hagley area?

    Murabito: No.

    Frazier: No?

    Murabito: I worked in a cigar factory. (Laughter)

    Frazier: Oh! Cigar factory?

    Murabito: We had them here in Delaware.

    Frazier: Didn't know that.

    Murabito: You didn't? You're not a Delawarean.

    Frazier: No, I'm not.

    Murabito: We had several. There's one I think it was at second and Orange. That one I didn't work at. Uh there was one at 15th and Walnut and that's the one where I worked, American Cigars. But even at that age. . . . . . ..We weren't money conscious at that time even though we didn't have it. (Laughter) We weren't money conscious and we learned there, and what's so funny at that time um, Hodgoson's took that building over when, I don't know whether their lease run out up there or what. The wool mill was back down here; during the depression the wool mill was at 15th and Walnut.

    Frazier: Oh!

    Murabito: The cigar factory moved out. 'Course I was too young to even think of details of it, I understand the state was taxing the factories, because they moved out. And of course a lot of the women went with them to different states, New Jersey, Philadelphia. Our father refused to let us go. Let me go! (Laughter) He said, "You don't have to go, you're eatin'."

    Frazier: No, you could find other work here.

    Murabito: Well, it was bad around those years.

    Frazier: Yes, yes.

    Murabito: It was pretty bad at that time.

    Frazier: Do you remember the Hagley Powder Mills or not?

    Murabito: Well, I was really pretty small, but I still remember the big explosion. I heard it.

    Frazier: You heard it?

    Murabito: You know how something sticks in your mind.

    Frazier: Yes.

    Murabito: I must have only been about eight or nine years old. But at that time, even way in here our windows rattled.

    Frazier: That far away?

    Murabito: Oh yes, and then we heard ________ sixteen young boys were killed in that. But do you know when we went up the yards (see now it’ s all cleaned up and everything it looks nice) we could still see ___ up in some of the old trees in places, I remember.

    Frazier: When you went up there to work.

    Murabito: Yes.

    Frazier: Yes.

    Murabito: There used to be the shell of a building and there was a lot of ... well they told us it was sulfur a lot of the yellow stuff hangin' around____________________________________.

    Frazier: The du Pont?

    Murabito: Yea. She was a du Pont, but her name wasn't du Pont. I remember her coming up there she gave us the devil because we were in and out of the building.

    Frazier: Dangerous?

    Murabito: Yes, that's what she said.

    Frazier: Yes.

    Murabito: "I don't want yas in here, don't go in here, you may get hurt." (Laughter) But uh we used to go up there ___________ you could see the pieces of tin and stuff up there in the old trees. I always remember that. You don't see anything like that now. It's all cleaned up.

    Frazier: No, no, that was from the explosions.

    Murabito: But you know that was a good many years after the explosion, too.

    Frazier: Mmm hmm.

    Murabito: I mean that they still had some of that. How long has Hagley been turned into...

    Frazier: 1921 the mills were closed.

    Murabito: Is that when it was closed?

    Frazier: Yes. And the Museum is about 26 years old now.

    Murabito: You mean all those years it that was just there empty?

    Frazier: Yes, all those years, empty.

    Murabito: Now, see, I didn't know that. But you know, like I said Hodgson's moved to 15th and Walnut, leave that old mill and we worked there. I guess I worked there two or three years.

    Frazier: At 15th and Walnut.

    Murabito: Yes, see I had gone from the cigar factory it closed and then gone to that. But uh, today there the man that owns is very good because I think he was good to a lot of the women that worked around here like he knew that I was... really at times I was the only one in his house about 16.

    Frazier: yes.

    Murabito: And umm he would try to give us hours to help us like the girls that were married or the women that were married he would cut their hours, he was very good to us that way.

    Frazier: Do you remember his name?

    Murabito: Yes, Dan Hodgeson.

    Frazier: Well, he was the owner.

    Murabito: Well his father was really the owner, I guess he was too, I guess it was incorporated, I don't know. Because their family worked there too. Because we used to call... everybody said Billy the old man (Laughter) But he had a daughter that worked in the office, a grandson, after his grandson used to work there. But they were good to us. I mean I always felt they were because they were depression years and it was hard to get jobs.

    Frazier: That's right.

    Murabito: I know another time I got a job in one of these shirt factories, I think it was after that, I don't know and somebody, everybody I talked to said "We didn't get paid this week,” they would say "no, they didn't give us nothing.” And you know this isn't your work, and I'd work a half a day and then come out (Laughter) I said if I was gonna work, I wasn't work for nothing when we needed it.

    Frazier: That's right.

    Murabito: But there were bad times, I don't know you're not that old so you won't remember all that. (Laughter)

    Frazier: (Laughter) No. How long did you work at 15th and Walnut for Hodgeson's?

    Murabito: Oh, I worked a couple years maybe two or three years.

    Frazier: 'Till you were about 18 or 19.

    Murabito: mmm hmm, wait a minute, I was in my 20's when I went back there 'cause I had worked in the cigar factory in between. Yeah, I was in my 20's 'cause I remember Dan saying I was 22, the customers said to Dan, "Do you believe she's 22?” (Laughter)

    Frazier: He thought you looked young.

    Murabito: Well, we were skinny kids then. (Laughter)

    Frazier: How many women worked.... you said mostly women worked in the mill when you began.

    Murabito: Right there was some men, but not too many of course the men were in the beginning of the uh... when the wool come in they sorted and washed and... it's hard to explain it when you don't know .... they made things... wool out of it and then it would run and then it keeps comin' down finer; it was interesting. But uh like when we handled it, it wasn't as bad as what the men handled. There wasn't that much men at ________________________.

    Frazier: Were there many accidents that you remember? Fingers being lost?

    Murabito: I remember one girl came home. She cut her hand and all. But I don't think she was ever..... she had a hard time, but I don't think she was ever crippled from it.

  • Toys and games; Sewing and crocheting; Food and meals; Bedroom furniture; Growing up speaking Italian and English
    Keywords: Bedrooms; Crocheting; Eating; English language; Furniture; Games; Italian language; Jacks; Jump ropes; Meals; Portuguese language; Sewing; Siblings; Sports; Toys; Volleyball
    Transcript: Frazier: That's good. Well, let's go back to your family, your life when you were a little girl. You remember what kind of games you played around here?

    Murabito: Jumping rope, skippin', roller skatin', I never really skated, I was always scary! (Laughter) I fell once and I hurt my elbow, I'll never get on them again. But uh, we had all kinds of games. We played in front of our own places. We weren't allowed to bother other people.

    Frazier: There weren't a lot of cars then.

    Murabito: No. At this time, the winter time, I remember the kids used to sled from DuPont Street down to here. Now there wasn't cars as you say. And they would have a watch and down at each corner make sure ...

    Frazier: Nobody got hurt.

    Murabito: But you'd see kids...Trolleys would come up and they'd hang on to them. I was always scary, I looked I just watched. (Laughter) But we had all kinds of games that we played out front.

    Frazier: How about ice skating? Was there a place to....

    Murabito: Well, I don't think any of us kids had ice skates.

    Frazier: Because up at the... the people who lived in the Hagley area they could skate on the Brandywine.

    Murabito: Yea, but we didn't live that close.

    Frazier: That's right. Marbles, Jacks?

    Murabito: Oh, yes; a lot of jacks.

    Frazier: Did you play them indoors or outdoors?

    Murabito: We played on our steps.

    Frazier: On your steps. Mmm hmm.

    Murabito: We played on our steps. I think our jumping rope.....and besides that our mother made us crochet. We had to do our crocheting before we could play.

    Frazier: Every day?

    Murabito: That's why I'm sick of it now. (Laughter) Lots of times they said "Would you do this for me?" I said, “ Not now, I'm crocheting." (Laughter)

    Frazier: Did you do uh..... did you sew too? Did your mother sew?

    Murabito: I guess they had to. My mother made most of our clothes.

    Frazier: She had a lot of girls to sew for.

    Murabito: Yea, she even made my brother's shirts.

    Frazier: Did she have a sewing machine?

    Murabito: Oh yes we always had a sewing machine. I guess that’ s one thing she thought she's better have.

    Frazier: It was a necessity.

    Murabito: Yea, we always had a sewing machine. I always had that, now that I still do. We still have to sew.

    Frazier: What did the family have... for dinner at night, for example?

    Murabito: You know what? You know the West End House? You’ ve heard of it?

    Frazier: Yes.

    Murabito: ____________ wasn’ t the original. But the originator of it and I remember Miss Bancroft coming, she would run these.... all of us around in her what did she call it?...her roadster. At that time, that's what they called it. She'd take the kids around the rocks and make room for a playground down here. We were very lucky on that because we had one close to us. I mean a playground.

    Frazier: A playground, yes.

    Murabito: And a lot of little things that they taught us and that we learned. And you're saying, going back to your question about what Miss Weaver says she didn't know how my mother made it. She said my mother was one of the ones that kept the family together that didn't go around begging. (Laughter)

    Frazier: That's wonderful.

    Murabito: But, we ..... you know what today a lot of people say gourmet; our mothers cooked in them days, and they cooked big pots sometimes.

    Frazier: That's right.

    Murabito: And we had to eat what was given to us. Otherwise you didn't get it. But we all had to be home at a certain time. I mean we were allowed to go play, we were allowed to go to the playground. But we had to be home when my father came home from work; that's when we ate. (Laughter)

    Frazier: What time was that?

    Murabito: That time was usually about 5:00. After we went to the playground we had to be back. We were back until it got to be dark. But all I can say is she made big pots of soup. Big pots of greens, potatoes, and beans. So evidently we had nourishing meals. And like today, 'You don't want this', 'I want a hotdog', 'I don't want this,’ ‘ I want a hamburg.’ (Laughter) I see my nieces and children doing that. They said never do it if their grandmother was here. (Laughter)

    Frazier: Yea, that's right. Now what did you do after in the evenings after you ate?

    Murabito: Well, we mostly sat out front and played or we jumped rope, or like I said jacks was a big thing, marbles was a big thing. Even the girls played marbles. (Laughter)

    Frazier: I talked to one woman who said she loved to play softball. Did the girls play softball around here?

    Murabito: We played volleyball most of the time.

    Frazier: Volleyball.

    Murabito: When the neighborhood house there. I think that was the biggest thing for the girls there.

    Frazier: Volleyball?

    Murabito: Yea.

    Frazier: How many sisters did you have, I forget?

    Murabito: I had, let me see, there's three of us living now, but I had four.

    Frazier: There were five girls.

    Murabito: There's three of us now; no, four with the one that died.

    Frazier: Four girls.

    Murabito: Yea, and uh I had another brother that passes away. See, I had a brother and sister that were born in South America.

    Frazier: Oh, I see.

    Murabito: My mother married in South America. And then, of course, they were small when they came here.

    Frazier: They were older than the rest of you.

    Murabito: Oh, yes.

    Frazier: Yes. But all of the girls slept in one bedroom.

    Murabito: _____________________________.

    Frazier: Did you wear nightgowns?

    Murabito: We had big... Oh, yes. We had big double beds. (Laughter)

    Frazier: Big double beds?

    Murabito: In one room. Two double beds I should say. They were just the regular double beds.

    Frazier: What else was there in the bedroom? A dresser, or a bureau?

    Murabito: Oh yea, we had a bureau.

    Frazier: For your clothing.

    Murabito: I don't think we had too many clothes. (Laughter)

    Frazier: I think people now have more clothes than they did.

    Murabito: They sure do!

    Frazier: Yes, hardly room for them in their closets. And before you went to bed were there bedtime stories or.....

    Murabito: We didn't have radio and stuff in them days and yes, my mother would tell us stories, my father would tell us stories, some of the neighbor people, we'd all sit around and tell stories, especially in the winter. Yes, there was a story telling time. Things that they remembered from the Old Country, and what they did when they were young and all that (Laughter) Oh yea, we had that. See we had these other girls next door and their mother used to tell us a lot of stories too.

    Frazier: You were almost like one family between the two houses.

    Murabito: Really, we were. We were very close friends, still to this day when we see them.

    Frazier: What is their name?

    Murabito: Their name at that time was Monaco.

    Frazier: Mmm Hmm. How about... was the house locked up at night or were the doors locked or not?

    Murabito: No, we didn't have to worry about it. I remember when we were kids of course nobody had air conditioning in them days. We'd lay blankets on the porch and lay there when it was real warm. Nobody bothered anybody.

    Frazier: Did you have an alarm clock you said in order to get up in the morning?

    Murabito: Oh my father was the alarm clock. (Laughter) He got up.

    Frazier: He got up.

    Murabito: He got up.

    Frazier: Did you speak both Italian and English?

    Murabito: Well, yes, yes we did, but um my father insisted that we speak Italian in the house. He didn't want us to lose the language. Which we're glad to this day.

    Frazier: Oh, yes.

    Murabito: And uh, he said, "You get all the English outside. You go to school and get that," he says, "I don't want you to forget the Italian."

    Frazier: That's a good idea.

    Murabito: And I'm really not sorry today. Now my mother spoke Portuguese, so they did, but uh at that time she had nobody to speak it to. She used to always say "I wish I had somebody to speak it to because I would uh give it all come back," you know when you don't use it. But she spoke Italian.

    Frazier: Did you ever speak Portuguese? Did you learn Portuguese from her?

    Murabito: No, she never really spoke it much.

    Frazier: Mmm. Hmm, it’ s quite different.

    Murabito: She said said she didn't have..... yes, from the Italian.

    Frazier: It's quite different from Spanish even I think.

    Murabito: I thought that would be similar, aren't they similar?

    Frazier: Well, the accent is a lot different, they put an SH ....

    Murabito: Because I was surprised like it was uh, she was in Brazil that they spoke uh Portuguese.

    Frazier: Yes, like D-O-S in Spanish would be dos but in Portuguese they say "dosh.”
  • Going to church; Visiting family; Family ties to Italy; Father's social life; Making wine; Celebrating Easter
    Keywords: Church; Cousins; Easter; Family; Immigration; Italian Festival; Italy; Playing cards; Wilmington, Del.; Wine
    Transcript: Frazier: Uh, you went to church on Sunday as a family I suppose.

    Murabito: Not always.

    Frazier: Not always?

    Murabito: No. You know, I guess a lot of people don't realize the mothers of today are a lot different than their mothers, not that they weren't good mothers, they had to stay home and get the dinner ready while we went out on to church.(Laughter).

    Frazier: So mother stayed home, and the rest of the family went to church. Went to mass. How about relatives. Did you have relatives, you had your....

    Murabito: On my mother's side.

    Frazier: On your mother's side.

    Murabito: Yes, my mother had a brother and sister here, and my grandfather, we all remember my grandfather.

    Frazier: So you had cousins too.

    Murabito: Oh, yes.

    Frazier: Did you visit back and forth with them?

    Murabito: Yes. very much so.

    Frazier: They lived in this area.

    Murabito: They lived in the city, but not that close to us. My aunt lived down around Madison Street when we'd go see here in them days. It wasn't bad as it is now. (Laughter) And my uncle lived down around, oh Read Street, Chestnut Street down around there. It was within walking distance. you know.

    Frazier: You visited back and forth.

    Murabito: Oh yes.

    Frazier: And played with your cousins.

    Murabito: Oh, yes.

    Frazier: And did you take any trips that you remember?

    Murabito: We made a couple of road trips.

    Frazier: Did any of your family go back to the Old Country to visit?

    Murabito: Well my mother said she didn't leave nothing there, and she had enough right here, she wouldn't go back. (Laughter) I had an aunt and uncle who went back. In fact, I guess my grandfather was what we called a traveler. He worked, but he went back and forth. In fact he went back to Italy when my mother got married, and he came here before she did. So and my aunt wasn't married she still went back and forth with him. And my uncle, I'm pretty sure my mother said he went back to get married in Italy and come back here.

    Frazier: Mmm hmm. So there were strong ties with the Old Country still weren't there?

    Murabito: Yes, but they're all here now. I mean like I said we don't know my father's relatives.

    Frazier: What did you father do when he worked, did he go out in the evenings and go to club meetings or things like that?

    Murabito: No, they hung around the house mostly, and they played cards with this gang of men, but there wasn't much of going out.

    Frazier: Did they go out and play games, the men?

    Murabito: Well, in other people's houses or sometimes they played here, sometimes there.

    Frazier: Do you remember what card games they played?

    Murabito: Not really. At that time I didn't pay attention to cards. Although, you know, we had Christmas cards. New Year’ s used to be awfully fun. New Years and all. We used to have another family up the street that used to.... We'd have ... this was when we were getting a little bit older, they would come here for Christmas or we'd go there for New Years, now this only a few doors difference.

    Frazier: Yes.

    Murabito: And we used to play Ace Picks All and all that stuff, or Seven and a Half. Do you know what Seven and a Half is? (Laughs)

    Frazier: No, I don't.

    Murabito: If you got a Seven.... if you got a face card and a seven that took all their money, and we would play for pennies! (Laughter)

    Frazier: Oh, mmm hmm.

    Murabito: But umm. yea we used to.... we were allowed umm to sit up until the new year come in.

    Frazier: Oh! mmm hmm.

    Murabito: And especially then or even at Christmas and umm we were allowed to play with them because with that game you could play with a whole lot around the table, maybe ten or twelve of us. All the children played. The grown-ups and the children, until 12:00 and then we set a table. (Laughter)

    Frazier: For the meal.

    Murabito: Mmm. hmm. Well, we didn't have a regular meal. My father used to love pies. He loved sweets. An hour we started to make pies, and we'd make four big ones for this evening party.

    Frazier: What kind of pie?

    Murabito: Most of the time it was the Ricotta or um cocoanut. We liked both of them, and we liked, I remember time he come home and he asked us to make the pie. I said "I don't know how to make a pie!" (Laughter) Put it this way, put it that, and I can remember my nice hard crust in them days too. (Laughter) I used to eat 'em. No, we always had them. It would be open house at 12:00.

    Frazier: What did you have to drink with the pie?

    Murabito: Well, most of the time it was just coffee. Well they always made one. We always had one. I guess that's why today they're not drinkers (Laughter)

    Frazier: They made their wine. Their home made wine.

    Murabito: Oh yea, they made their wine.

    Frazier: What kind was it?

    Murabito: Uh, I would say it was red wine.

    Frazier: Red wine. umm hmm

    Murabito: I don't think we had fancy names for them in them days. (Laughter)

    Frazier: It wasn't a fruit wine, like Elderberry or....

    Murabito: No, mostly it was a grape wine.

    Frazier: Grape wine.

    Murabito: Mmm. hmm. I think most every Italian family around here had wine then.

    Frazier: Probably. Now your mother you said most stayed home and took care of the house.

    Murabito: That's right.

    Frazier: And did her cooking and sewing. Did she go out at all to any of the women's groups?

    Murabito – In those day, very seldom. I think she joined one, well she belonged to _________________ and there was a I can't think of their name right now. One group that started at the West End House that she belonged to, but um what's that once a month? something like that?

    Frazier: Mmm. hmm.

    Murabito: The older Italian women didn't get out. (Laughter)

    Frazier: No, they had to stay home and work.

    Murabito: That's right.

    Frazier: You went to St. Anthony's. Yes. Did you go to a Sunday school or a club down at church or not?

    Murabito: You know we get attached to the West End House, I went to most all their clubs.

    Frazier: When you were growing up.

    Murabito: Yea.

    Frazier: Did you learn how to do things there? At the West End House?

    Murabito: Oh, we always had something.

    Frazier: They had classes.

    Murabito: Yea, classes.

    Frazier: And how often did often did you go? Once a week?

    Murabito: I think it was once or twice a week. Because we went to the playground almost every day.

    Frazier – (Laughter) Now you talked about Christmas. What other holidays did the family celebrate? Birthdays? How were they celebrated in the family?

    Murabito: Well, I guess we didn't have too much for birthdays.

    Frazier: But did you have a cake or some kind of a special meal?

    Murabito: Not too much. They celebrated for Christmas. That's my father.

    Frazier: Christmas and New Years. Those were the big ....

    Murabito: The sixth and seventh, that's what we called Little Christmas. The ones the Ukrainians celebrated. The sixth of January.

    Frazier – Epiphany?

    Murabito: I guess. And you know Christmas eve you celebrated quite a bit because

    Frazier: Yes.

    Murabito: And we had all kinds of fish. That’ s one time they splurged. (Laughter)

    Frazier: The seven kinds of fish, yea I remember that from your other interview.

    Murabito: Oh, yes.

    Frazier: Yes. How about Easter?

    Murabito: Oh, we celebrated Easter.

    Frazier: Mmm. hmm. Pies, lamb.

    Frazier: Easter bonnets, Easter parades?

    Murabito: Well, I guess our parents couldn't afford too many clothes. We had to get shoes when we needed them, and we had to have things when we needed them. I'm afraid a lot of us got hand-me-downs. (Laughter)

    Frazier: I remember the Italian Festival every year is so wonderful around here. How long has that been going on?

    Murabito: Well you know, I remember way back when it wasn't so big. All that.

    Frazier: Just the neighborhood.

    Murabito: Yes, we loved that. To tell you the truth I don’ t like what they've got now.

    Frazier: It's too big, mmm hmm. You can't park.

    Murabito: You don't dare move your car. You won't have a place to come back to. I'm sorry, I don't like it. They’ d holler at me “ Can’ t you do that for one week?"

    Frazier: Do you go work? You go do cooking for them now?

    Murabito: No, they go plenty of help.

    Frazier: They got a lot of help down there?

    Murabito: Yea, they got all kinds of help.

    Frazier: (Laughter)

    Murabito: I always had too much to do around here to do much of that work. Because I practically took care of all _____________________ when I took over the house, so you work, take care of the house, take care of your own.

    Frazier: Mmm. hmm., yes.

    Murabito: So we didn't have that much really.

    Frazier: Uh did you um .... the neighborhood stayed pretty much the same around here, the houses and everything.

    Murabito: On this street I think we've been pretty lucky they do. They all look different, they've all got their big ____________ comfortable in size.

    Frazier: Yes, and a lot of the old families have stayed.

    Murabito: Well, like their children have if they're not uh, well, we have some new ones.
  • Visiting a friend on Breck's Lane; Buying the family home in Wilmington, Del.; Squirrel Run
    Keywords: Breck's Lane; Buying Homes; Electricity; Hagley Community House (Breck's Mill); Henry Clay (Del.: Village); Homes; Indoor plumbing; Renting; Squirrel Run (Del.: Village); Wilmington, Del.
    Transcript: Frazier: That's good. Did you ever go out to any of the activities at Brecks Mill or that area when you grew up?

    Murabito: No, not really.

    Frazier: No? Not after you left the.... you just went to work and came home and had your social activities in this area. I wondered if you remembered any of those.

    Murabito: They used to have dances up there.

    Frazier: Yes.

    Murabito: At the um at the end of Rising Sun, not Rising Sun, parts above there. We weren't allowed to go to those public dances.

    Frazier: No, that's probably right. It was too far away from home. Yes.

    Frazier: I... I'm just wondering if you remember anything in the area before the--you know, after the mills closed.

    Murabito: Well I used to have a friend that lived on Breck's Lane, and I always loved her house. (Laughter)

    Frazier: You visited her there?

    Murabito: Oh yea. I worked with her and then we used to... I've been in her place. I remember these stairways that uh you had to go around to get up to the next floor.

    Frazier: Curving?

    Murabito: Curving. Well, her father worked at the powder mills.

    Frazier: What was her name?

    Murabito: Todd.

    Frazier: Todd.

    Murabito: ___________ ago, and they used to go down to the uh Brecks Mill then. But they lived a few houses up there, I can't remember which one, second or third house up on the hill there. And it was so cute 'cause they still had all the old latches and all that. But uh she worked at the mill. They were raised there, and they all went swimming there and all of that.

    Frazier: Is she still living there?

    Murabito: I don't know where she's at today. No, they moved to Florida after she married. 'Cause she said her father well her father wasn't living at the time, but her father went to work at the powder mills. But from what I understand______________ that the families stayed there as long as they were there. They never asked them to move. So I don't even know what year she left.

    Frazier: That probably was after 1921 then.

    Murabito: Oh, it must have been ways after 'cause she still..... even when we were working down 15th and Walnut she was down there and they still lived up there.

    Frazier: Your family owned this house.

    Murabito: Yes, they rented it quite a while.

    Frazier: Oh they rented it before they bought it.

    Murabito: Oh yes it was a financed owned. They built all these houses. I would say on Seventh Street, Lincoln Street, Scott Street they had built a lot of houses and when they started to sell them off that's when my parents bought it.

    Frazier: Do you remember when that was?

    Murabito: 1921.

    Frazier: 1921.

    Murabito: It was either buy it or get out!

    Frazier: Oh, Wow. (Laughter)

    Murabito: (Laughter) Somebody else is gonna buy it from under you.

    Frazier: Do you remember how much they paid for it?

    Murabito: think at that time $2,200 (Laughter)

    Frazier: $2,200. Cash?

    Murabito: Well, people didn't have that kind of money. It was all through the banks. (Laughter)

    Frazier: Uh huh, got a mortgage.

    Murabito: A mortgage. In fact I remember two mortgages. 'Cause I remember going to pay our interest to our lawyer who used to live in Wawaset Park. (Laughter) He brought it up to the bank. That's what I'm saying, people don't know how bad it was in them days.

    Frazier: Well, this house, do imagine how much it would be worth today?

    Murabito: I don't know how much today.

    Frazier: Probably a lot.

    Murabito: A lot more than that, it would have to. (Laughter)

    Frazier: Yes. Did you have running water in the house?

    Murabito: We always had running water.

    Frazier: Yes, always had running water.

    Murabito: We didn't have electricity at one time. We had lamps.

    Frazier: Kerosene lamps?

    Murabito: That's right. See that was another job that we used to have to do. We had to clean the lamps off.

    Frazier: Every day?

    Murabito: Oh yes. That's one of the daily chores.

    Frazier: Dirty job.

    Murabito: Yep. (Laughter)

    Frazier: Very dirty job.

    Murabito: Of course, then when we got electricity in I remember after we bought the house my father dug the cellar out to give us a better cellar. It was too low. We didn't have no bathrooms, we only had an outside hopper. I don't how we kept clean in them days.

    Frazier: Well, no. Lots of people didn't. Even up in the Hagley area they didn’ t.

    Murabito: No I guess they didn't--no, they had them regular out houses up there 'cause they had the outhouse when we worked at the mill.

    Frazier: What kind of toilet paper did they use up there?

    Murabito: You know, I guess a lot of them brought that wool out with them to clean themselves. Unless you carried your own.

    Frazier – Yea.

    Murabito: You know, that's how I got to get in there one day. I went there with our teacher. We had permission to get in the area past the gate. And I told her that I had been there, that I had worked in there. She said "In here?" (Laughter) She said, "How? It must have been impossible." I said, "It's possible." She says, "You must have been a child." I said, "I was fourteen." I wasn't much more than a child. And that's how I got to be interviewed from there.

    Frazier: Have you been back lately?

    Murabito: Not for quite a while.

    Frazier: You'll have to come back and see it again.

    Murabito: We keep saying that we're going up in a group someday, some of the ones that we worked with, you know, 'cause some of them have never been back.

    Frazier: Oh, that's too bad.

    Murabito: It is when you've been there.

    Frazier: It's interesting 'cause you can ride around in the bus and see it.

    Murabito: Yea, well the first time I had seen the home all the way up. We knew some of the workers used to come down the yard that we used to talk to. They worked on the ground, but we had never gone.... There used to be a spring water thing that we used to walk up to get a drink. I don’ t know if it’ s still there or not. I never noticed it.

    Frazier: Do know where it was exactly.

    Murabito: I couldn't say exactly, but it's way up past Hagley, way up past the yard. And uh there used to be guys that used to work for them. They used to come down from the other end of Rockland and go in the other way. But um, I couldn’ t say exactly.

    Frazier: Well, of course, people lived there.

    Murabito: I think the last time that I was interviewed they told me they never heard of Squirrel Run. Have you?

    Frazier: Oh, yes! Yes.

    Murabito: Well, the one that interviewed me didn't know nothing about it.

    Frazier: Oh yes, that's one of the villages there. Very well.

    Murabito: But the village isn't there now, is it?

    Frazier: No. It isn't.

    Murabito: They built a big home or something?

    Frazier: Yes.

    Murabito: Because I heard them talk about it afterwards that . . . . ..

    Frazier: You remember Squirrel Run?

    Murabito: I sure do. We used to go up there. There was a couple of ladies that worked at the mill from out there, 'cause they used to go home even for lunch.

    Frazier: Yea, you visited them?

    Murabito: Just around

    Frazier: What was it like then?

    Murabito: Just little frame houses. I guess it didn't take much to throw them down. I've often tried to figure just where it was at. You can't see the ________ can you?

    Frazier: No.

    Murabito: See it used to be way up the hill there some.

    Frazier: Squirrel Run.

    Murabito: It tickled me not too long ago I saw that somebody died that had lived in Squirrel Run, and I thought, Gee here they told me they told me they never heard of it, here it's is again.(Laughter)

    Frazier: There were a lot of little villages up there. Henry Clay, remember that?

    Murabito: Well they called that Henry Clay on the other side of Hagley, wasn't it?

    Frazier: Yes.

    Murabito: We used to have an old man used to give us flowers from there. He worked for them.

    Frazier: Oh, he did?

    Murabito: We only knew him as Jimmy. He was an old bachelor, and he used wait for us and give us flowers. He always had a garden full of flowers. And we'd be walking down the road, and he'd say, "I flowers for ya." (Laughter) and we used to take 'em home.
  • Stores in the area around Hagley; Using the streetcar; The family garden; Buying things
    Keywords: Bread; Breck's Lane; Gardens; Lunch; Street-railroads; Toy's tavern; Victory Gardens
    Transcript: Frazier: How about stores out there? Remember the stores?

    Murabito: Only one. That was the only store there. All the way down the road.

    Frazier: What was it called?

    Murabito: I don't remember what they called it. It got to be a tavern. Is it still a tavern?

    Frazier: Toy's?

    Murabito: Whose?

    Frazier: No, that's something different. I remember--I know what you mean though.

    Murabito: You know where I mean?

    Frazier: I know where you mean, on Breck's –

    Murabito: We used to take....talk about eating....we used to bring four and five sandwiches for lunch. I told ya, we'd eat our first one up at the tower...

    Frazier: Yes.

    Murabito: And then lots of times we'd walk down the store to buy something else at lunch time. (Laughter)

    Frazier: Uh huh.

    Murabito: We'd never think of packing that many lunches, that many sandwiches today. (Laughter)

    Frazier: Well, you worked hard. You had that long walk.

    Murabito: We had the long walk, our mothers made -- my mother made great big loaves of bread (Laughter). See that's another economy thing. She really made the bread in her lifetime. It's funny, I like to make bread myself.

    Frazier: I do too.

    Murabito: Yeah, I love it.

    Frazier: It's really good isn't it? Do you remember anything else? Did you visit anyone else up in that area? And any other villages?

    Murabito: Well, we weren't that much up in there. We'd just walk around that's all. But I was in the house on Breck's Lane there.

    Frazier: You don't remember Blacksmith Hill and that area.

    Murabito: I don't even know where it's at.

    Frazier: Well, there was a sunday school up there, Brandywine Manufacturers Sunday School. That was a first school, and then later on it became a home for two women who worked for the DuPont Company. The Seitz sisters.

    Murabito: I never heard of that.

    Frazier: You never heard of that?

    Murabito: No,that I didn't.

    Frazier: Well, if you go up there now you can... it's kind of a home you can visit and you can see the Sunday School. Maybe the next time you go up to Hagley, you can go up there and look at it. It's quite interesting.

    Murabito: What direction is that in?

    Frazier: You know where the blacksmith shop is?

    Murabito: All the way up the yard.

    Frazier: Yes, it's right up the hill from the blacksmith shop.

    Murabito: They're open every day, aren't they?

    Frazier: Yes, except Monday.

    Murabito: Except Monday.

    Frazier: You said you got a street car from Hagley down here. Were there other street cars around here

    Murabito: Oh, yes. We had uh four or five ___________________. That was before I went to work. But, uh, yeah, I think they still had an open street car when we first started up there; know how they open? Do they still have some of them? They used to go all the way up the end of Rising Sun Lane. Not Rising Sun Lane; I think, ... You know at that time I think we didn't pay much direction to where those things went to 'cause I still can't figure just what part of the woods they went through; they went through a woods, and uh there used to be a man that used to have a stand at the end of the line, and I think it was way up you know where route 100 where the old post office is or where the post office is now.

    Frazier: Yes.

    Murabito: 100 there? I think they used to go that far. 'Cause I knew a couple of girls that lived in Rockland, and they used to say that they could only go that far, and then, 'cause I remember them sayin' some of the guys. See the DuPont men used to pick them up and run them home on their way home if they seen them walking from the trolley. But uh.

    Frazier: You should see what they're doing with Rockland now. That were the.... you know where the doeskin plant used to be.

    Murabito: I heard they're making condominiums or...

    Frazier: Yes, they are.

    Murabito: I had a sister that worked there.

    Frazier: At Rockland?

    Murabito: At Doeskin, yeah.

    Frazier: How did she get to work?

    Murabito: Well, they had a car pool. See, it was a little better then. She's younger (Laughter) And they used to have car pools. They went back and forth.

    Frazier: Did anyone in your family have an extra job for money; hold two jobs, or not?

    Murabito: We couldn't get jobs. We were lucky to hold one.

    Frazier: How about gardens? Did your mother and father have a garden?

    Murabito: Oh, yes; we always had a garden. I remember years ago when some of the lots around here the city allowed them to have a victory garden ______________. I still have a garden. I love to mess with it.

    Frazier: Flowers? Vegetables?

    Murabito: Flowers, vegetables; I love my tomato plants out there.

    Frazier: I do too.

    Murabito: I like to go out and pick nice tomatoes. Yea, still have them.

    Frazier: Your mother brought flowers in the house?

    Murabito: Well, my mother, I guess, was more interested in gettin' something she could cook or eat. (Laughter) We had a maid who came here ______________ about 16 or 17 years ago, and my mother would say to her She's got flowers, she's got beautiful flowers, and she was always fixing them, and my mother would say "We can't eat them flowers; you better plant tomatoes." She always laughs about it. She says, "You can eat that; you better plant something you can eat." I guess you get into the habit of those things. I mean it wasn't that bad for us later as it was for us then.

    Frazier: And where did you shop; where did you buy your food?

    Murabito: Well we had a lot of corner stores in them days.

    Frazier: Just like today.

    Murabito: You don't get too many of the regular corner stores that carry everything.

    Frazier: Carried everything. Yes.

    Murabito: Of course, then the big stores started coming up __________________ you carried them and you walked.

    Frazier: That's a long way.

    Murabito: It sure is to carry big packages.

    Frazier: Yes.

    Murabito: Of course today we have cars and we can go out and shop.

    Frazier: Did you have to go to Wilmington for things?

    Murabito: I remember my mother going in to Market Street. Into King Street, really. I remember as far back they had the closed market; it was down around Second and King and the farmers used to go in there, and my mother would go with a basket and then come back on the trolley. Yeah, they did a lot of shopping. But mostly it really was in the corner stores. That's funny I must have inherited some of that, 'cause I still like to go to the market.

    Frazier: How about items for the home that they had to buy, where did they get those?

    Murabito: If anything we bought on _________________.

    Frazier: From stores in the area?

    Murabito: Yes. I remember my mother even buying, there used to be an old Jewish man who used to cart stuff on his back.

    Frazier: Oh.

    Murabito: And he would bring stuff to these ladies for maybe about a quarter a week..... this is going back now. A quarter a week they bought most of their linens that way. That's funny, all the old Italian people wanted linens. They believed in linens: bedspreads, sheets, pillow cases and stuff like that.

    Frazier: Did they set a nice table?

    Murabito: Oh yeah.

    Frazier: How about a Sears catalog? Did you have one in the house?

    Murabito: Not in them days; not for us. I guess a lot of them did, but we didn't. We weren't allowed to buy too much on time. We had to make sure we could pay for it.

    Frazier: What was considered a luxury?

    Murabito: I guess we didn't have sense enough to know what was a luxury; we didn't have it. I remember my father. Like I told you they'd play cards, and we used to always say we knew when he won. He'd say why; when he'd come home with bags of candy for us. Or ice cream. I remember my mother getting mad at him because he'd bring it up to us and we were sleeping. (Laughter) She'd say, "I got to wash those clothes."

    Frazier: Well, he loved you; he liked to bring you gifts.

    Murabito: He did, on that.

    Frazier: That was a luxury, candy and ice cream.
  • Father's tobacco use; Getting ice delivered; Doctors and medicine; Going to Brandywine Springs and visiting family; Parents thoughts on America; Hats; Items carried in pockets; Traveling peddlers
    Keywords: Brandywine Springs; Family; Hats; Ice; Ice boxes; Immigration; Italian Americans; Knives; Peddlers; Pipes; Pockets; Purses; Smoking; Telephones; Tobacco; Watches
    Transcript: "Oh, he smoked a pipe..."
  • Coal deliveries; Hair and haircuts; Lace; Lessons from parents and most cherished object; Working in Hodgson's mill and going to school
    Keywords: Barbers; Coal; Curtains; Dolls; Electircity; Hair; Haircuts; Hodgson Bros. woolen mill; Lace; Parents; School; Tableclothes; Toys
    Transcript: "I remember it being sold like that, mostly in 20 pound bags..."