Interview with Thomas McCray, 1981 February 5 [audio]
- Biographical and address informationKeywords: Emigration and immigration; Family history; Genealogy; Irish immigrantsTranscript: Tremaine: You now live at what address?
McCray: 527 North Bancroft Parkway
Tremaine: Do you mind giving your age?
McCray: No ma'am. 83.
Tremaine: What was your father's name?
McCray: Ah. Rim.
Tremaine: And where was he born?
McCray: Up around the Brandywine some place. In a neighborhood somewhere around there.
Tremaine: And what was his occupation?
McCray: He worked the Powder Yards.
Tremaine: He worked the Powder Yards, too?
McCray: He was killed in the Powder Yards.
Tremaine: What year was that?
McCray: I was five years old. No. I was nine years old. Him and my uncle were killed in the same explosion.
Tremaine: What year would that have been?
Henry: You were born in '96. (Discussion)
McCray: 1904. 1905. Yes.
Tremaine: Do you know where his father was born?
McCray: No I do not.
L. McCray: Ireland, I presume.
Tremaine: Uh ... Do you know where his mother was born?
McCray: Yeah. She was born in Ireland.
Tremaine: Did she work at all? Your grandmother on your father's side?
McCray: My grandmother or my mother?
Tremaine: Grandmother on your father's side?
McCray: Didn't know nobody on my father's side. My grandmother on my father's side. On my mother's side I did. Her grandmo .... my grandmother. She lived with us for years. Smoked an old clay pipe.
Tremaine: What was your mother's maiden name?
Tremaine: And where was she born?
McCray: In Ireland.
Tremaine: Ireland. And did she work?
McCray: Mmmm-hmmm. After my father was killed, she worked for du Ponts for years. As a residential for ...
L. McCray: Eugene.
McCray: Eugene du Pont.
Tremaine: In the house?
Tremaine: And what were her duties?
McCray: Well, she would cook. She would maid. She raised the kids. She raised some boys and two girls. She was like all-around lady.
Tremaine: And do you know where her mother was born?
McCray: No, I don't.
L. McCray: Must have been Ireland.
Tremaine: Do you know where your mother's father was born?
McCray: No I don't.
L. McCray: Ireland. She and her sister were the first ones who came here.
McCray: Who came to America, yeah.
L. McCray: So all the rest of them stayed back there.
Tremaine: And where did you live? Where have you lived?
McCray: Long Row. I lived on the Rock first. Down near Rising Sun Lane. There were four houses up on the ... like a ledge up there. We moved from there up to Long Row just above the Powder Yard.
Tremaine: How long did you live there?
L. McCray: About 24 years.
McCray: Twenty four years. Yeah.
Tremaine: Leaving there when?
Henry: When you got married?
McCray: Well. I was 24 when I got married, and I left there. I was born in '96, so count backward.
Tremaine: Where did you go then?
Tremaine: Where in Rockford?
L. McCray: Ivy.
McCray: Ivy Road. My wife lived there.
Tremaine: What number or what location on Ivy Road?
McCray: 51. Next I moved on Rockford Road. Two different houses over there. One was 38 ...
L. McCray: 38 and 61.
L. McCray: They're all torn down now.
Tremaine: And then you came out here?
Henry: He's always lived in this area.
- Job as machinist at Hagley Yard; fetching water for his house's back kitchen; description of his childhood houseKeywords: Hagley Yard; Machinists; Powder yards; separate kitchens; water wellsTranscript: Tremaine: Well this is the type of person we like to interview. Because they know so much more about the area. Uh...Did you work there?
McCray: I learned my trade at DuPont's on the Brandywine. Hagley Yard.
Tremaine: And what were your duties?
Tremaine: Machinist. And which machines did you work with?
McCray: We built machines in the shop. I learned my trade there. And then they built the powder machines in the Machine Shop there. Hallock du Pont has that place now for to keep his dogs there. You remember the Machine Shop there at Hagley? Well, Hallock du Pont keeps his dogs in there now, I think.
Tremaine: And who taught you your trade there?
McCray: Jim ... I think his name was ... Jim ... damn I can't think of his name now. Jim somebody.
Tremaine: Do you remember if there were others that were training when you were training there?
McCray: Yeah. Leon Lloyd learned his trade there. Bill McGonigle learned his trade there. Snuff Moore learned his trade the same time I did. That was a crop? of apprentice boys up there then.
L. McCray: Jimmy?
McCray: He's a Du Pont man up the Experimental Station. They closed that place up and took all the shop over Maryland Avenue. Old Breck's machine shop moved everything over there. I worked there till about two years and a half. Got laid off. Her father got me a job over at Bancroft, so I spent 36 years there. In the Engineering Department.
Tremaine: Now, when you worked in the Machine Shop, what time did you have to be there in the morning?
McCray: Seven o'clock in the morning. Seven days a week. When I was training at Brandywine, I was on night shift. I worked five o'clock at night to seven o'clock in the morning. Seven days a week. During the war. That was during the war.
L. McCray: Tell her how much an hour.
McCray: Five cents an hour. (Laughter) The first year, five cents an hour.
Tremaine: Did you go home for lunch?
McCray: Lived right down the road. Only lived about half a square where we lived at. The houses right along...they're all torn down now. Just about a half a square down the road from the Machine Shop there. A row of little houses there.
Tremaine: How long did you have to go home?
McCray: About...You had a half hour for lunch. Something like that. Mostly carried our lunch, because one week you were on day work, the next week on night work. Seven o'clock at night to seven o'clock in the morning. Seven o'clock in the morning to seven o'clock at night.
Tremaine: Did you have to wear certain clothes to work?
Tremaine: Special shoes. Or smocks?
McCray: No. Sometimes we wore safety shoes with steel plates in them, in case you dropped anything on your toes. That wasn't compulsory. You did that on your own.
Tremaine: You had to buy them yourself?
Tremaine: Did you have sick pay or vacations?
L. McCray: Not in those days.
McCray: Not in them days you didn't.
L. McCray: Wasn't any fringe benefits.
Tremaine: Did you have holidays off?
McCray: Oh yeah, we had holidays off. I left that and went right in the DuPont Building. Worked in the Office for a while. A mail carrier. Carried the mail from the DuPont Building all up through .... the Powder Yards. To Hagley and up to the Upper Yards. And up to Judge Bradford's. Then up to [Connivle?] [...] found out I didn't have a trade and coaxed me into my trade; broke my damn neck for doing it too. (laughter)
Tremaine: You had to walk?
Tremaine: Carry the mail and walk. About how many times a day?
McCray: Twice a day you made trips. The trolley car come up the crick from ... the old Peoples Line used to run up ... used to get off at the Experimental Station. Started there and then come up to Hagley. Then from there up to the Middle Yards and then up to [Connivle's?]. Twice a day. Good job. Then they coaxed me into learning a trade so I give it up and started learning a trade. Dumbest thing I ever done. (Laughter)
Henry: What would you have rather been? A mail carrier all your life?
Tremaine: He might have gotten a promotion. You didn't have to have a college degree in those days.
McCray: No. I had a good man in back of me in the building, but I never...I was satisfied just to learn my trade.
Tremaine: Did you go to school while you were out there?
McCray: I went to the du Pont school up on the Kennett Pike. Went to the eighth grade. I didn't graduate from there because I had to get some kind of work. I mean, help my mother out. I had a sister besides me at home.
Tremaine: But you walked to school?
McCray: Yeah. Oh Yeah. Snowed up....to the top of the hedge some days in the wintertime.
Tremaine: Do you remember when you went to school did you take your lunch?
McCray: Yes indeedee. You had to. You'd have nothing to eat. They didn't serve no lunches.
Tremaine: There wasn't time to go home for lunch from there?
McCray: No, no. I guess they had about a half-an-hour recess, but I would've had to walk about a mile and a half to home. On Kennett Pike
Tremaine: What was in the lunch? What would you take for lunch?
McCray: Oh. Maybe a little piece of cake. Couple sandwiches with some meat in them. Or cheese. Something in there. Nothing special, because you didn't live too good in those days.
Henry: Tell her about the water. That always fascinated me up there.
Tremaine: The water?
Henry: There was no water in the houses. There was a pump.
L. McCray: Didn't you carry all the water?
Henry: Pop had to carry all the wash water. Had to go down there ... the well ...
McCray: Dip it out of ... my goodness, there wasn't a pump line! It was just the well water.
Tremaine: I thought you had a pump?
McCray: No. There was no damn pump.
L. McCray: It was his job to fill the washtubs.
Tremaine: Yeah. About where was the well?
McCray: Oh about ... well, about maybe from here across the crick, I mean across the street from where we lived. There was a row of houses right below us, and the well was in front of their houses.
Tremaine: And everyone got their water there?
McCray: That's where they had to get it from. Dishwater. Everything.
Tremaine: You were the one that ...
McCray: I did it. Yeah. For my mother. Yeah.
Tremaine: How many times a day did you have to go down?
McCray: Oh maybe twice a day. Get water for drinking. Then on washday, you had three washtubs to fill up with water.
Tremaine: What kind of a utensil did you carry the water in?
McCray: A 16-quart bucket.
Tremaine: What was it made out of?
McCray: It was either iron or aluminum. One of the two.
Tremaine: And where did you keep that in the house?
McCray: In the back kitchen.
Tremaine: And the tubs that you did the laundry in?
McCray: They were in the back kitchen too. On a...
McCray: Bench. Had three tubs: one for [blue?] water, one to wash in and one to rinse in.
Tremaine: And you heated the water for those?
McCray: Yeah. On the coal stove.
Tremaine: And the coal stove was in the...
McCray: In the kitchen .
McCray: The kitchen. Well you spoke of the back kitchen. Was that a separate room?
Tremaine: It was a separate room, yeah. Back of the house. Then you had to go up a pair of steps to get up to the back yard, cause the back yard was higher up. That's where you had to hang your clothes. Out there.
Tremaine: What else was in the back kitchen?
McCray: Well we ate out there most of the time. And the cupboard's out there. Kept the dishes out there. Things like that.
Tremaine: What was in the main kitchen?
McCray: The dining room.
L. McCray: The stove. The old cook stove.
Tremaine: When you did homework, which kitchen would you do your homework in?
McCray: In the front room.
Tremaine: Oh, in the front room.
McCray: Didn't do much homework, though.
Tremaine: They didn't give homework, or you didn't do it? (Laughter)
McCray: I done it if we had it. I left school when I was...I was about...16. I went to work in the building when I was 16. I was in the eighth grade when I left school. I'm not giving you a very good conversation.
Tremaine: Yes you are. Yes you are. Because sometimes you think of something else, and I don't want to interrupt your train of thought if I can help it. Could you describe your house, coming in, say, the front door? You spoke of two kitchens. Well start coming up the steps or whatever to the front.
McCray: Well, before they built that road up there, we had another. Steps about here to that ceiling to the porch. Then you had your living room and a room in the back. We called that the kitchen there. Then we had two bedrooms upstairs and two bedrooms on the third floor of the house. It was all stone house. And then later on they built that road up back there. A trolley car came by then up there.
Tremaine: Now you speak of the road up there. What is its name?
McCray: Ahh ... Well, the one along the crick, I don't know if it has any name or not. Runs right along the Brandywine. Ah ... Rising Sun Lane up to Barley Mill and the Powder Yard gate.
Henry: I really don't know what the name is.
McCray: I never ...
Henry: The one that runs directly along the Brandywine.
Tremaine: All right. I'm just trying to ... You know, sometimes we say something and then later ... "Well what road was it?"
- Mother going shopping and ice delivery; machines in the machine shopKeywords: Grocery shopping; Machinists' tools; Machinists--Training of; Refrigeration and refrigerating machineryTranscript: Tremaine: Where did you do the marketing? Did you do it or did your mother do it?
McCray: My mother done walked from there up to the top of Rising Sun Lane to get the trolley car to go into town. About a mile and a half.
Tremaine: Was there anyone who came to the house to deliver things?
McCray: Maybe...not for quite a few years. I mean, once in a while the huckster used to come around there with some vegetables or something like that. But we had one store down the road from us apiece. Her uncle run the grocery store. We used to buy some stuff down there. But mostly mother went in town on Friday. Done the marketing on Friday. Then had to walk from the top of Rising Sun Lane all the way down and up along the crick to bring the stuff home. In later years they put the trolley car in. Come up along the Brandywine. All the way up to Wagner's Row.
Tremaine: Now what type of things would she buy when she went to town?
McCray: Oh I guess potatoes and vegetables. Meat, just the average... You had a baker at the store. They baked their own bread.
Tremaine: She baked her own bread. About how many times a week did she bake bread?
McCray: About twice a week I would say.
Tremaine: When she bought meat, how did she preserve the meat?
McCray: Oh, you had a refrigerator ...
L. McCray: Ice box.
McCray: Ice box. You get a chunk of ice and put it in there. Then put a pan underneath to catch all the damn water.
L. McCray: If you forget to empty it, oh ...
McCray: Get up in the morning. All over the place. (laughter)
Tremaine: Was the ice delivered to the house?
Tremaine: Did the iceman just come around and put the ice in?
McCray: He come around and put the ice in. The 25-pound block, whatever it was. He put it in there. Once or twice a week. I just forget how often he come. We'd put a block of ice in the top of the refrigerator. Diamond Ice.
Tremaine: That was what I was going to ask.
McCray: Diamond Ice and Coal Company.
Tremaine: To get back to the Machine Shop, did your boss or foreman dress any differently than the rest of you?
McCray: No. All the same. Oh, he may have had a little better clothes. Maybe he wore a white shirt or something like that every once in a while. But I mean, he didn't have coats and tails (laughter) and a big Picadilly collar.
Tremaine: Not formal, huh?
McCray: Yeah. (Laughter)
Tremaine: Did he work ...
McCray: Jack Mcquade. That was his name!
L. McCray: That's right.
McCray: Jack Mcquade!
L. McCray: He's long gone.
McCray: He was foreman of the shop.
Tremaine: Did he live nearby too?
McCray: He lived down on the Forty Acres. You know where the Forty Acres are?
Tremaine: Now were the people in the different localities friendly with each other?
McCray: You mean in the...?
Tremaine: Forty Acres and Squirrel Run and ...
McCray: Yeah. They did pretty good. Sometimes the guys used to fight over a girl. Girls come up Rockford, and guys down there didn't like us coming down after the women and bringing them up there. Everybody was good. We didn't have no trouble. Always.
Tremaine: And in the Machine Shop, you learned what?
McCray: How to run different machines, like the drilling machine, boring mill, turret lathe...
Tremaine: What was the last one?
McCray: Turret lathe. Engine lathe--big heavy engine lathe, planer, shaper, grinder (Laughs).
Tremaine: Did you then go ... were you on your own to run those machines?
McCray: They'd move you from machine to machine. Uh ... like the regular machinists, they had one machine they run, see. The apprentice boy, about every six weeks or so they would switch him onto another machine, see. Break him in, see. Most of my time I was set on the big engine lathe boring out them big powder presses, the steel casting for powder presses. Took 36 hours for a cut to go through.
Tremaine: What was a cut?
McCray: Boring. The boring mark...boring it out.
Tremaine: Boring what out?
McCray: The casting. The big steel casting that they make the presses out of.
Tremaine: What would they use those for?
McCray: Make powder out of...they pressed the powder...called the hydraulic presses. See, they had this big solder and they had dies and something. They'd force the powder and they'd make, you know, different grades of powder out of it.
Tremaine: Did you grade the powder?
McCray: No. No I didn't do it. We just done the machine work. That was all done at the Powder Yards. We didn't have anything to do with that at all.
Tremaine: Well, when you were finished--you just worked on the machines, right?
Tremaine: When did the powder go up to the .. uh powder men?
McCray: No. Didn't have nothing to do with that at all.
Tremaine: Well did you have any problems with the machines? Did anything funny happen when...Do you remember anything?
McCray: Only that you'd break a tool sometime. You had a big piece of glass or something...that was during the war . They got some awful casting. Everything was hurry-curvy. We had trouble once in a while. That was natural. Everybody had that. It wasn't only one person. Bad material come in. Casting would be bad. Blow a hole in something and you'd have to either get rid of them or...something else. But it was very interesting work.
Tremaine: Did they have men there to repair the machines if something happened?
McCray: We very seldom broke one. Very seldom. I guess they had somebody that could repair them. I never knew of anybody to break anything on the machines while I was learning my trade. I'm boring you...
Tremaine: No you're not. These are the things we want to know.
Henry: How long before you started learning your trade was the Machine Shop there? It had been there all along?
McCray: Oh sure. It had been there for years. The Machine Shop. Yeah. I mean, I was a little kid.
- Playing as a child; powder yard explosions and death of his father; his mother working for Earnest du Pont's family after her husband's deathKeywords: Explosions; Household employees; Industrial accidents; Powder millsTranscript: Tremaine: When you were a little kid (laughter), where did you play?
McCray: Well, we swam in the crick or we skated or we went out hunting for berries.
L. McCray: Chestnuts.
McCray: Chestnuts. Go up in the woods. Hammer down chestnuts from the trees. Yeah.
Tremaine: Where were the woods?
McCray: Right in back of where we lived. There was a...ah...T&R...the trains come in there to the powder yards. We used to go up in back of them by Miss Mary du Pont's house. Get their French chestnuts up there.
Henry: I guess that woods ran all the way back to the...
McCray: Almost back to...
Henry: To the Columbia Gas...
Tremaine: Did you ever peel willows?
McCray: I never did, but I seen it done. They peeled the willows and bundled them up. And they sent them up the yard and made charcoal out of them. The women got so much for each bundle they took up there. They had willows all along the creek there. Then they built that wall, the big wall that built that road up. And I don't know about it too much after that. The trees were still there. I come in under the trees.
Tremaine: Did any of your friends peel the willows?
McCray: Not that I know of. I think that mostly the young kids done it. You know, for the money of it. I never...I imagine some of the old people may have done it. I remember...
L. McCray: You used to carry your dad's lunch down to the Powder Yard.
McCray: Oh yeah. I carried his lunch to the powder yards. I was just about to cross the creek when he was killed.
Tremaine: Were you allowed to go right into the yard with the lunch?
McCray: Yeah, we just carry lunch, take the dogs up. We used to take our dogs with us. Play around while they ate. Maybe pick wild strawberries or there was an rosy coat apple tree there. We used to get rosy coat apples off it. And we could play all around up there. But the only thing stop you from going up there is if they had the explosion. And the bodies were blowed around, see, and they had to hunt for them. And you took the the dogs up there sometime, the damn dog would come out from under the bridge or something with a piece of the body. So they wouldn't allow you to take a dog for maybe a week or two after the explosion.
Tremaine: Well you remember explosions, then?
McCray: Yes I do. Quite a few of them. I remember when the thirty-one was killed. All them young boys. I was learning my trade then, and I was in the Machine Shop looking right up the Powder Yard when that Mill went up. It's an awful thing to say, but a beautiful sight you ever want to see. That sky was just full of pieces of paper and clouds of white smoke. The whole damn 31 of them. And a lot of them were my buddies, too. From down the Crick there.
L. McCray: They had a community funeral.
Tremaine: Were they buried there?
McCray: No some of them are buried up at St Greenhill and some at...St. Joseph's. Different places. The different denominations.
Tremaine: Was there a fire along with that explosion?
McCray: No. There was nothing left. I remember ...there was always a story I heard. I don't know how true it is...some of the kids were [fooling?] They were all young boys. They were packing the shells up there. And they seemed to think that somebody struck a fire or something and that done it. That's the story I've often heard. I wouldn't verify that.
L. McCray: It didn't take very much to [?]
Henry: How many men were killed at the same time as grandpop?
Henry: He and two others?
McCray: No. Just him and Mr. Cannick
Tremaine: And that was the one in 1904?
McCray: Yeah. That was the Rolling Mill. Along the creek there's a dam. That dam . ..
Henry: They were the only two working there?
McCray: In the rolling mill, yeah.
L. McCray: He wasn't blown apart.
McCray: Oh no, no. They blowed out on the dam breast. I don't know...on the breast or at the dam. They weren't blown apart.
Tremaine: Now afterwards, was there any insurance given to the families?
McCray: They got about two, maybe a couple hundred dollars. Then you had a free house as long as you never married. Then as soon as you married...
Tremaine: Then out...
McCray: No you didn't out. But you started paying rent. It was about two dollars a month, I think, for that place.
Henry: They found grandmom a job.
Henry: They found grandmom a job.
McCray: Oh yeah.
Henry: It was awful for her, cause she had pop, and he has a sister younger than him. And she was still in bed with a baby.
Henry: Very young. How old was Ella?
McCray: Only ten days old. Bout that, yeah.
Henry: When his father was killed.
Tremaine: She was a young woman.
McCray: Yeah. Well he was young too. Only in his thirties, I think.
Tremaine: And then your mother continued to live there?
McCray: Yes. She got a job at the du Ponts. Eugene du Pont. She was cook. And I think she raised, practically raised the kids. I know that. Them kids just loved her to death. Aimee and Ethel.
L. McCray: Nicholas.
McCray: Yeah. Well Ethel didn't live. Wasn't she the one who commited suicide?
L. McCray: She's the one that married the Roosevelt.
McCray: Roosevelt. But she's a beautiful girl. And her mother also. Her mother was a beautiful woman. She was a Pyle, I think. Artist in town here. His daughter.
Tremaine: Well when your mother was working up there, she was home at night?
McCray: No. She stayed up there. But my sister, we kept house together.
Tremaine: Your aunt took the baby.
McCray: The aunt took the baby. Yeah. That was the daughter. My sister and I kept...My mother come home once in a while. They'd bring her down once in a while from up there... the du Ponts.
Tremaine: But you couldn't go up there and live with her up there?
McCray: Oh no. no.
Tremaine: Did she have her own quarters there?
McCray: Yeah, she had her own bedroom. Yeah, they thought an awful lot of her. They took care of her.
- Pockets; causing mischief on Halloween and other occasions; swimming, fishing, boating, and ice skating on the BrandywineKeywords: Brandywine Creek; Children--Amusements; Children--Conduct of life; ExplosionsTranscript: Tremaine: When you went to work, what did you carry in your pockets? Or what did your father carry in his pockets?
McCray: I know he didn't carry no matches. I know that. (Laughter) I don't think I know about anything else.
Tremaine: Pocket knife?
McCray: Pocket knife or something like that. But I don't know what he'd use it for.
Tremaine: Did he have a pocket watch?
McCray: No. Not that I know of.
Tremaine: Did you, when you were working?
McCray: No ma'am. I was lucky I had something to eat.
Tremaine: Did you carry a handkerchief?
McCray: Oh yeah. Carried a handkerchief. Had to have something to blow my nose with.
Tremaine: Any money? Would you carry money in your pocket?
McCray: Well, if I had some. It was very scarce. Five cents an hour, you didn't have much money.
L. McCray: Well there wasn't really anything in the shop you needed money for.
McCray: No. The baker used to stop there. We'd get pies and stuff off him. Hubert Bakery.
Tremaine: No vending machines?
McCray: No. No vending machines. No.
Tremaine: You don't remember any of the men selling candy then?
McCray: No. I never saw no candy.
Tremaine: No candy .
McCray: No. They stopped there. One guy he always like the-I'll never forget him--he always liked the raisin pie. He lived up on 19th Street. I can't think of his name. He lived up there. This boy, he got the pie, went and got a drink of water, took a knife and cut the pie in half, and there was a little mouse in there. (laughter)
Tremaine: Dead, I hope.
McCray: Yeah. Cheyney. His name was Cheyney. He lived up on 18th Street there.
Tremaine: Now, did he have a sister?
McCray: Oh yeah. He had a sister.
Tremaine: Do you remember her name?
McCray: No I do not. I don't know his first name either. My mind's slipping.
Tremaine: Oh. So is mine. And we're going back so far. Do you remember any other stories like that?
L. McCray: What you used to do on the Fourth of July?
McCray: Oh yeah.
Henry: And Halloween.
Henry: You told me about Halloween up there.
McCray: All the outbuildings, we'd used to clean them out. The night before Halloween...
L. McCray: Upset them...
McCray: And one old man downstream. We had a thing around the bathroom. We got clothesline and tied him in there. Upset the toilet with him in it. Baird, that was his name. [N?] Baird.
Tremaine: What did you do on the Fourth of July?
McCray: We made a cannon. Got a big piece of steel and made a cannon up the Shop there. Went up the Yard and got the powder and the fuses all. And uh...three o'clock in the morning, we took the cannon. Took it way down the crick. Loaded it all up with stones and powder. Got our clothes all off. Got out in the creek. We set the cannon off. Never found the damn cannon yet, but they thought the damn place blowed up down there.
Henry: You took it out in the water with you?
McCray: No. We set it on the shore. We got out in the water, swimming. Down there by Hudson's Mill.
Tremaine: Did anyone come running when they heard the noise?
McCray: I don't remember. We got out of there.
L. McCray: Didn't you get your hair burned or something one time?
McCray: Oh that was up home at the house, one Fourth of July. My dad and them ... they were half stewed up ... my uncle and them. And they had some black powder. I stole the can off them and goes up in the back yard. Set out on the board out there throwed a match at it. It cut loose and took all the hair off my head. Burned my face all. Then they soaked me with linseed oil by the gallon. Cleaned up.
L. McCray: They weren't very safety conscious then with their powder.
McCray: No. We'd go up in the Yard, and they'd give us gunpowder. I mean, not nothing in the Yard itself, but they had those sheds up at Christ Church where they used to keep the cannons and stuff. We'd used to go up there. We broke in. (laughter) It wasn't a...
Henry: Didn't you tell me too that a lot of people up there used to have boats. They'd go out...
McCray: Oh yeah. Go out on the crick. Yeah. At nighttime.
L. McCray: That's how you learned to swim.
McCray: Huh? Oh yeah I learned to swim, all right. My dad was out in the boat half drunk and come in and took me out in the boat. Throwed me the hell out. Swim or grin, he said. He loved it too.
Tremaine: What did you wear when you went swimming?
McCray: Birthday clothes. (Laughter)
Tremaine: Now there weren't girls swimming there?
McCray: No. No, we wore tights most of the time.
Tremaine: Well did the girls swim someplace else than the boys?
McCray: No. We used to all go down back of the Hudson Mill there, below the dam back there across...You know where the Hagley Community House is?
McCray: That cotton mill across the street on the other side. Well we used to swim right below that. The water was awful shallow. We used to swim down there, girls and all. But sometimes we'd go up the crick there in the Powder Yard and swim up that...where you go in the Hagley Yard, get up on that wall and dive off that end in the crick.
Tremaine: Is that the same place you went ice skating in the winter?
Tremaine: What type of ice skates did you use?
McCray: Regular skates.
Tremaine: Well they look different from the ones today.
Henry: Wood or metal?
McCray: No. They were steel.
Tremaine: They hooked on to the shoes?
McCray: Yeah. You had to clamp on and tighten it with a key.
Tremaine: Like a roller skate?
McCray: Yeah. Something like a roller skate. They had clamps here and clamps there, you know.
Tremaine: From the ball of the foot?
McCray: Yeah. And you just tightened them up ...
Tremaine: On the inside?
McCray: Yeah. They were just regular steel skates.
Henry: Did the boats that a lot of the men had, did they make them themselves or did they buy them?
McCray: No. They built them. Those old wooden rowboats.
Tremaine: Built them right there?
Tremaine: Built them right there on the Brandy ...
McCray: Yeah. Tie them up. In the nighttime, they'd go out there and sing. Take a banjo, a guitar with them. Take a case of beer out there with them and have a good time singing.
Tremaine: Did you do much fishing?
McCray: Not...you done some. Mostly when they had a good flood. That's when they done the fishing. Got the carp then and...
- Flooding, furniture, outbuildings, and pets at his childhood house; powder yards getting electricityKeywords: Electrification; Floods; House furnishings; Outbuildings; PetsTranscript: L. McCray: Before you had that wall built, when we had a flood it used to come into your mother's house.
McCray: It come in. Yeah. We had a flood all downstairs.
L. McCray: That wall wasn't there then. You had a flood, the crick would come right up into the house.
McCray: We had those ten steps to get in the house.
Tremaine: Then you had to take everything out and air it out?
McCray: Wash it out, scrub it out. Take all the damn mud out.
Tremaine: So you did this about every spring, perhaps?
McCray: Oh, not every spring. About every two or three year you'd have a bad...a bad flood.
Tremaine: Well if they built boats up there, do you remember anyone building...or making furniture?
McCray: Hmmm. Not that I know of. I never got around that much. I had to stay home most of the time. They wouldn't allow me out. (Laughter)
Tremaine: Where did your furniture come from?
McCray: Damn if I know where she bought it.
Tremaine: Was it handed down?
McCray: Oh no. No.
L. McCray: I can just remember the big brown oak dining-room table. They bought it when they got married.
McCray: I remember the old organ. We had an old organ there. I remember that.
Tremaine: Did you have Currier and Ives prints in the house?
McCray: No. They were out of our class. (laughter) Just regular, common furniture like a majority of the poor people had.
Tremaine: But you don't remember whether she went in town and bought it or...?
McCray: Miller Brothers. I think she bought some in Miller Brothers, Goldberg's or some other damn place.
Henry: She must have bought most of it when she first went housekeeping.
McCray: I guess she did.
Henry: I would imagine over the years she bought a whole lot of furniture.
Tremaine: Do you remember the beds when you were a child? Beds. What type of bed was it when you were a child?
McCray: Well we had damned old feather pillows. The damned pillows would stick in your ears. The chicken feathers.
L. McCray: And feather mattresses.
McCray: Mattresses too. Yeah. They used to get your goat, them damned pillows.
Tremaine: Why is that?
McCray: They had them chicken feathers. And the damn ends, they'd stick you. Come through the pillow. Didn't have them like you have now.
Tremaine: Did you have a rope bed or springs underneath?
McCray: Springs. The mattress and a spring. [audio repeats]
Tremaine: And when you were a child, when you got up in the morning, where were your clothes kept?
McCray: On the floor or wherever I took them off.
Tremaine: You didn't have a dresser?
McCray: Oh yeah. I had a dresser. But where we lived on the top floor on the wintertime. You didn't have damn time to think about getting dressed. You had to get the hell out of that room. Get downstairs to get warm. (laughter)
Tremaine: There was no heat on the third floor?
McCray: No. No heat on the second floor. Well, we did have a small stove in the second floor front room.
Henry: I don't ever remember her using that room. That was sort of...
L. McCray: In those days you had a parlor room, and that was for special...
Henry: I don't ever remember, all the times I visited up there, ever sitting or being in that room other than to look in. That was really off limits. You stayed downstairs on the first floor.
L. McCray: I remember the phonograph up there...
McCray: You had a phonograph. Yeah. Wound up.
Henry: The way the house was, the kitchen was almost underground. The second floor was the level you came out on the back yard. So you went up steps from the kitchen to get to the back yard.
Henry: Then there was one bedroom from ground level. It was actually the second floor. It was quite a steep rise.
Tremaine: Did you have sheds in the back yard?
McCray: One big shed.
Tremaine: What was kept in the shed?
McCray: Well we kept wood up there. We kept coal up there. Clothesline and clothes props and...all miscellaneous stuff.
Henry: What did you use to cut the grass?
Henry: You didn't have a lawn mower?
McCray: No. Cut it with a sickle.
Tremaine: Did you have chickens or anything?
Tremaine: Did you remember anyone around...
McCray: Yes. There was a lot of people there that had chickens. We never had any.
Tremaine: Did you have dog and cats?
McCray: Yeah. I loved dogs and cats.
Tremaine: Did you have a special dog or cat?
McCray: Well I had...we had...I had two small dogs, I remember. The kind they was, now I forget....One was a little terrier.
L. McCray: Black terrier.
McCray: Yeah. The black terrier. Yeah. And I forget what the other was. We didn't have the cocker spaniel till we moved on Rockford, did we? That's right. That's when we got them.
Tremaine: Did many of the children have animals as pets?
McCray: No. Not too many.
L. McCray: We always had cats.
Tremaine: Did you have a vegetable garden?
McCray: No ma'am. We didn't have no room for one. [?] but we never bothered about that.
Tremaine: And you talked about tying the man in the outhouse.
Tremaine: Where was the outhouse?
McCray: It was down where...You know where Brecks Lane comes down to the Community House? Well there were some houses along the crick. On that side there. It was a little bit back from the house.
Tremaine: Did you have an outhouse too?
McCray: Yes ma'am.
Tremaine: It was out in the back yard?
McCray: It was in the back yard too. They didn't have no bathroom. We didn't have no electric [audio repeats] until quite a few years up there.
Tremaine: Do you remember when the electricity came in up there?
Tremaine: Do you remember who first had electricity? Or what it was used for first up there?
McCray: Well the first electricity was up the Powder Yards, I guess. They had the hydroelectric plant up there. Made electric up there and I think they used it for some lights up there. They had their own power plant up there. Because you had the [accountant?] and a man named Krauss. They were the attendants on it. I can remember that as a kid, the electric plant.
L. McCray: Did you ever get water?
McCray: We finally did get water. Yeah. We didn't have water.
- Flu epidemic of 1918; his mother's painted ball chimney lamp and grandmother's clay pipe; local stores and saloonsKeywords: Bars (Drinking establishments); Beer; Clay tobacco pipes; Influenza Epidemic (1918-1919); Saloons; Stoves, OilTranscript: Tremaine: You spoke of the time when your face got burned with the gunpowder and they put linseed oil on it. Were there other remedies like that people used when you were young? Nowadays they don't use linseed oil on burns. Evidently it's very good.
McCray: I know that it saved more or less [?] I know they used near a gallon of it on me. It cured it up all right.
Tremaine: Was there a doctor in the neighborhood?
Tremaine: Did doctors come to the house?
McCray: Oh yeah. Doctors come to the house. Dr. Samuels was one.
L. McCray: In a horse and buggy.
McCray: There was another doctor lived up on the Kennett Pike come in a horse and buggy. I can't remember his name now. As I say, my memory...
Tremaine: Babies were born at home?
Tremaine: Do you remember the big flu epidemic?
McCray: Yeah. I remember.
L. McCray: You had it. You belonged to the Red Men, and I belonged to the Red Ladies. And I remember going in to the meeting and you weren't there, and your mother said you were home sick with the flu, and I come on the trolley car.
McCray: (laughs) You come up on the trolley car. That's how much she loved me. (Laughter)
Tremaine: Did you catch the flu also?
L. McCray: No. I was fortunate. I was working at DuPont's all along. People I worked with had it. I remember visiting one of the...young men that had it, and my mother being so mad at me when I come home. She said you had no right...
McCray: Are you taping all this stuff I'm telling you?
McCray: I better get that tape and burn it before you go. (laughter)
Tremaine: You see we ask everyone approximately the same questions. At least the men. And then we can correlate them. Different ones have lived in different sections over there. I ask a question sometimes, and I know the answer. But I want it on the tape. And that's why I sometimes ask something that sounds rather dumb, really. But it's because I want it on the tape, so that we can correlate.
Henry: You need some things to jog your memory sometimes, too.
Tremaine: Yes. Do you ever remember anything about an Irish trunk? Have you ever heard of an Irish trunk? Your grandmother or parents or anyone brought over an Irish trunk?
McCray: Uhh ...
L. McCray: I never knew his grandparents.
Henry: Grandmother had a trunk in the house?
McCray: I don't remember. May have. I don't know. My grandmother lived there for a few years, but I just about remember her.
L. McCray: ...smoking the clay pipe.
McCray: Yeah. Penny clay pipe. You had to buy about a dozen every week or so. She'd drop them and bust them. Damn thing. You could smell it for half a mile.
Tremaine: What kind of tobacco?
McCray: Well, any kind she could get, I guess. (laughter)
Tremaine: Do you remember a painted ball chimney lamp?
L. McCray: I remember that.
Tremaine: What did it look like?
L. McCray: Roses on it. It had big red roses on it. It was white and it had roses on it.
Henry: I remember that on the table in the Dining Room. On the dining table.
Tremaine: Whose job was it to clean the chimney?
McCray: What chimney? The house?
Tremaine: No the lamp chimney.
McCray: I guess mother done it. I don't think I done it.
Tremaine: Well if she were working up at the du Pont's ...
McCray: Well, she was home some days. Maybe I done it. Maybe my sister done it. Maybe.
Tremaine: At least you don't remember having to do it every day?
McCray: No. Unless you turned the wick way up and made it smoke. You didn't have to bother too much with them. Same thing with the oil stove. We had the oil stove too. Sometimes when we didn't use the coal stove, we'd use our oil stove.
Tremaine: And was the oil delivered to the house?
McCray: No. You had to go get it.
Tremaine: What did you carry it in?
McCray: Gallon oil can. Take it down the store and get it filled up.
Tremaine: Which store would that be?
McCray: Her uncle's store.
Tremaine: And the name of that store?
L. McCray: It was my uncle. Uncle Dick. My mother's brother had this grocery store there. He also carried oil, lots of things, a general merchandise store.
Henry: But pop, didn't there used to be another little store right across from Breck's Mill? You know where the road comes down from the Kennett Pike and dead ends at Breck's Mill?
McCray: At Breck's Mill or Rising Sun Lane? What do you mean?
Henry: Where Breck's Mill is now.
McCray: Oh. Oh what's his name? A little candy store. [?] Sutton had a little candy store on that side of the road. Wasn't no grocery store. There was a grocery store at the foot of Rising Sun Lane. Right across the road there. There was a grocery store there. That's the only one I know of around there. There was three saloons. One .. two .. three ... four. Four saloons. Jeff Blakeby's, Pat Dougherty's, and that boy that sold out who's name I don't recall...Gus Lawless.
McCray: Yeah. They lived up near the Catholic Church. St. Ann's .. uh ... St. Joseph's.
Tremaine: And who went to these saloons?
Tremaine: Who frequented these saloons? Men, I know.
Henry: I don't think many women went.
McCray: No. They used to take...what they called a "duck" of beer. You get a can and go get it filled up for lO¢ for a duck of beer. That would be almost a gallon of beer for a dime.
Tremaine: And they drink it there or they take it out?
McCray: Sometime they'd bring it home or drink it right there. They sold it over the bar too in glasses. You could buy it in a glass. But most people...not everybody...but some people just take it home and drink. That's where I got the hell knocked out of me over that. Mother made me go with my dad. When he got the duck of beer, we brought the duck of beer home. He got the beer and I got the hell. (laughter)
Tremaine: Were those there...those taverns still there when you grew up7
McCray: Oh yeah. In fact...
Henry: Hagee's is still there.
McCray: Hagees. Well, that's another one. Hagee's wasn't there then...at that time. Simon [Durmand?] had a store there. But the other saloon was just a little bit below that.
Henry: Closer to the Experimental bridge?
McCray: No. Toward Breck's Lane. That's where...Jeff Blakely was on Rising Sun Lane. Then there was another saloon up on 17th Street and Rising Sun Lane. And two along the crick and then...Lawless was up by St. Joseph's, up on that corner up there.
L. McCray: Wasn't much else to do in them days, I guess.
- Discussing photographs of house exteriors and granddaughter; Mattie Ferraro sewing for the neighborhoodKeywords: Church directories; Grandchildren; Historical photographs; Parishes; St. Barnabas Episcopal ChurchTranscript: Tremaine: You mentioned you had some photographs?
Henry: Well. There's three here. They're not back to when he was young, but the house hasn't really changed.
Tremaine: Maybe we'll describe it. Well, you described it fairly well. You wouldn't happen to have any interior shots?
Tremaine: That's something we're looking for. Interior shots.
Henry: I don't think flashbulbs...
Tremaine: Uh huh.
Henry: This is the outside, facing across the Brandywine. There were houses across on the other side.
Tremaine: On the other side. Yes
Henry: And this is my grandmother. And pop's stepbrother.
Tremaine: Now here's the house.
Henry: Yes. These are the houses that he lived in. I guess it was about the third one down. But that's the way they looked in later years, after this had been built up and the wall had been put in.
Tremaine: Then they put front porches on them. Little picket fences out next to the...dirt walk.
Henry: Yes, there were trolley tracks here. Tracks were right at the house. There was a third story that doesn't show too well.
Tremaine: Right there, maybe. I can see a piece of it.
Henry: But they're the only three. And they're in the 20s. We don't have any way back.
Tremaine: No. Looking at the clothes, they would be...Isn't that nice you have these?
Henry: Mmmm-hmmm. It's too bad more weren't taken.
Tremaine: We so seldom think of taking them. I've taken to carrying my camera with me.
Henry: Cameras weren't as commonplace then. Many families didn't have on.
McCray: Go up there now.
McCray: I say, go up there now. See them houses up there now.
L. McCray: These are all gone.
Henry: We were up there a few weeks ago, pop. And up where the houses all were, there's a fence now. I think they made parking space for the Hagley visitors.
McCray: Oh yeah. I think the bus comes down there now. Loads there instead of stopping at the old tin shop.
Tremaine: Oh right. Almost under the bridge?
Henry: The only house left on that side is the one down...
McCray: Oh that double house where the... That house is old. That's a damn old house there. I think, 1870 it is on that house.
Henry: That's the only one along that side. And I don't really remember these across there.
McCray: Dougherty's lived in one side of it, and Jones lived in the other side.
Henry: But the row here where Grandmom lived, how many were there? About six?
McCray: About six.
Henry: Six houses?
McCray: There were six, I think.
Henry: She lived in the second one up.
McCray: Then the one further down the road we lived before. I think were about four. They were up on top of that rock there. Mr. Copeland's house is right in back of it.
Tremaine: Do you remember anyone down there that did sewing for people?
McCray: Mattie Ferraro lived across the other side of the creek.
L. McCray: She did sewing.
Tremaine: Otherwise you mother took care of your clothes for you?
Tremaine: You didn't get, I suppose, many new clothes each year?
McCray: Naah. Don't get them now either. (laughter) If I told you a story, you wouldn't believe me.
Tremaine: Well, try me.
McCray: How long has Caroline been married?
Henry: Seventeen years.
McCray: I got a pair of shoes, I'm still wearing them.
Tremaine: From 17 years. What you got for the wedding? (laughter)
Henry: Caroline's my daughter. Their grandchild.
McCray: That's her there.
Henry: You talked to her on the phone.
McCray: You talked to her ...
Tremaine: She live out in
McCray: Dunlinden Road
Tremaine: Yes. I live in Cooper Farms, which is right there.
McCray: That's when she graduated.
Henry: That was at a prom.
Tremaine: That looks like a Willard Stewart.
Henry: Yes, it was Willard Stewart.
McCray: I wouldn't take a million dollars for it. She's my baby.
Tremaine: Qh. Isn't that a nice family? And you have two...three great grandsons. Qh. What nice looking boys. That's a lovely photograph. Was that taken for a church directory?
Henry and L. McCray: Yeah
Tremaine: St. James, Newport?
Henry and L. McCray: Yeah. No. Stans?
Tremaine: It's the same background we have in ours. And we are St. Barnabus. I'm sure the same people went around and took the photographs.
L. McCray: She really lives closer to St. Barnabus.
Tremaine: Well. We all go to the churches we like.
McCray: Got some wonderful ministers, that church.
L. McCray: ...very happy with this church.
McCray: That minister was a wonderful man, too.
Tremaine: Yes, they are a nice group over there.
L. McCray: An old church.
McCray: How long does that tape run?
Tremaine: Oh. It'll go on for another hour. But I'm not going to tire you.
McCray: No, I thought it run out. You're not tiring me.
Tremaine: I'll turn it over before it runs out.
McCray: You're not...you're not...
Tremaine: Do you have anything else you want to tell us? Sometimes I don't hit a subject that you...you have something you want to say?
McCray: No. No.
Tremaine: As I said, I guess when I talked to your granddaughter, sometimes we go as long as two hours. But sometimes I find that's too long.
L. McCray: It's hard to remember.
Tremaine: Yes. So I try to jog the memory with some of the questions. Sometimes people know things I've never heard about. Can you think of any incidents? Holidays?
McCray: Well I...
- Damage caused by DuPont explosions; sense of community amongst Irish neighborsKeywords: Communities; Emigration and immigration--Social aspects; Explosions; Industrial accidents; Irish AmericansTranscript: Tremaine: One of the things I have down here: hydrant with spigot. Does that mean anything to you? Hydrant with spigot?
McCray: After we had water put in the house up there. That's the only time I remember any spigot.
L. McCray or Henry: You didn't have any fire plugs outside, did you?
Tremaine: What did you do for a fire? If there were a fire?
McCray: Well, I guess they had to call the fire engines in town to come out there. I don't remember any fire, to tell you the truth.
Tremaine: You don't remember any fires?
McCray: No. We used to have more damn windows blown out. Doors blown out from the explosions. That was the worst damage.
L. McCray: There were quite a few explosions. Used to blow the windows out. I lived on Ivy Road then, and we always knew when the explosions...because our windows rattled. My mother would say, "Oh. There goes a mill." We'd look out and see all the smoke.
Tremaine: Did they come and fix the windows?
McCray: Oh yeah. They had a crew come around and fix everything up.
Tremaine: And the plaster?
McCray: Oh. Very seldom the plaster. Those houses were really built. Mostly windows.
L. McCray: They were built better in those days.
McCray: We had some good old days up in the Powder Yard when I was a kid. We roamed around there, nobody would bother you. Then we got something to eat, and you fooled around...
L. McCray: My mother used to say about the good times they had up there. Instead of going out, she used to say how they rolled the carpet back and you know, they would dance. You know, just have a good time that way with the neighbors. She always said they were the best neighbors she ever had when she lived up there.
Tremaine: You didn't have to lock your door?
L. McCray: No. Everybody...cause I was born up there. But lived there only a year, so I don't remember any of that. But my mother's told me. You know, the good times they had up there.
Tremaine: Were there even locks on the doors up there?
McCray: Oh, I think there were locks on the doors, but we never bothered about that. We had all honest people. All them Irish all stuck together.
L. McCray: They all helped each other.
McCray: We had the Irish on the crick, then up Squirrel Run they had the Italians. (laughs)
Tremaine: And they all got along all right.
McCray: Oh yeah. Yeah. Never no trouble. Once in a while, we used to have a fight in the saloon, but it didn't amount to much. Some drunk come in there and declare himself and the Irish wouldn't stand for it. Knock the hell out of him, and that'd be all there be to it.
L. McCray: They used to sit on that wall. Fall off and never hurt themselves.
Tremaine: They were too...they'd be relaxed.
McCray: You know where that bridge is across the Brandywine now that goes up the Experimental Station?
McCray: That used to be a wooden bridge at one time across there. And a big wall was along there. I guess the wall's still there now. I know it must be 35 or 40 feet off that wall down the ground in back of it. And I know this man got drunk, he fell off it three times, and it never even hurt him.
L. McCray or Henry: The same night?
McCray: No. different times.
L. McCray or Henry: But never was hurt? (laughter)
McCray: On the bridge there, they used to ... well, Sam Ferraro used to go up and get what was called a duck of beer and bring it down with him. They'd watch him going up there, see. And they'd get a rope and a hook. And they would get up on the bridge, on the rafters. And when he come back a couple of the boys would walk along with him to keep him on the bridge and to start talking. They said get him and turn him around. The guy dropped the hook down and hooked the beer. Take the beer up. (laughter)
L. McCray or Henry: The one with the handle, you mean?
Tremaine: Just pull it right up?
McCray: Pull it right up.
L. McCray or Henry: It's the mailman.
Tremaine: And pull it right up, and they'd have the beer?
McCray: Yeah. And he'd raise hell, but it didn't do no good. He couldn't find out where it was. Oh, they used to do that to him quite often. Sam Ferraro.
L. McCray: That was an interesting family that lived in that end house on the other side of the Brandywine. None of them had married. They were what..two brothers?
McCray: Two brothers.
L. McCray: Two sisters. All lived there together.
Henry: She was the seamstress.
Tremaine: And what was their name?
L. McCray: Ferraro.
Tremaine: Oh, that was the Ferraros.
L. McCray: In fact, the last one of them only died maybe years ago. (Sound of papers rustling)
Tremaine: I have a form here that gives us permission to use this.
McCray: Oh...I charge a hundred dollars an hour. (laughter)
Tremaine: Have you been up there at all, lately, and gone through the yards?
McCray: No. I haven't been up there for quite a while. Last time I was up I was up with a couple of the fellows to the Birkenhead. We visited a friend of ours worked up there for...oh...what was that guy's name? We went up there and he took us across the Iron Bridge and up through Chicken Alley. Then we walked up to what we used to call Murphy's Meadow. That was up right across from Birkenhead. Then he went back and we went on...come out the iron gates by Rockland. That's the first time I've been up there for years.
Tremaine: Haven't found too many that have gone back.
Henry: It's changed so much.
Tremaine: It's changed so much.
L. McCray: Well they call them the good old days. They were good in some ways, but...
Henry: It must have been pretty hard.
Tremaine: It must have been. Yes.
McCray: I'd like to go through Crowningshield's sometime again.
L. McCray: We were happier in a way.
Tremaine: I think so. We didn't know any different.
L. McCray or Henry: They didn't have all these outside attractions.
McCray: I haven't been up there for years, the Crowningshield's.
Henry: Oh it was gorgeous at Christmas.
L. McCray: I know my mother used to say, they went in town once a month. They went in on payday.
McCray: They got a barrel of flour. Keep you for the year.
L. McCray: Yeah. A barrel of potatoes.
Henry: Somebody delivered? They couldn't bring those up.
McCray: Oh no. Somebody delivered.
L. McCray: I know my mother used to say they went in town once a month. That was their only day.
- Belonging to the Red Men Lodge and Pocahontas Council; Alfred I. du Pont's annual boat ride for former employees; bicycles on Kennett Pike after pavingKeywords: Bicycle lights; Du Pont, Alfred I. (Alfred Irénée), 1864-1935; Industrial relations; Kerosene lamps; Men--Societies and clubs; Women--Societies and clubsTranscript: Henry: Well they did all belong to Lodges.
L. McCray: Yeah. The Lodge met. Tell her about the Lodge meeting up at Hagley Museum. The Lodge meeting used to be held in there.
McCray: ...The Museum. Down by Denny's store there. Uh...We may have met there anyhow. And they run the initiation night. So Lundy's had two or three goats. So we stole one of the goats. They had the lights all out. See they were going through their rigmarole, the Lodge was. We got the goat, kicked the door open, kicked the goat inside and closed the door. (laughter)
Tremaine: I imagine that was bedlam. (laughter)
Henry: I don't imagine grandmom was very thrilled.
Tremaine: Well you belonged to the Red Ladies?
L. McCray: Yeah. The Pocahontas. The Pocahontas Council.
Tremaine: And you belonged to the ...
McCray: I used to belong to the Red Men, but I dropped out years ago.
Tremaine: And they met right there. Is that it?
McCray: They met there, but then we moved in town on King...or on Shipley Street. Red Men's Hall in there.
Tremaine: Were there many of the men who belonged to the Red Men?
McCray: Quite a few. Yeah.
L. McCray: You had a good time.
McCray: You used to go on hay rides and ...
L. McCray: Lots of outings. Lot of good times.
McCray: Then Alfred I...You know, Alfred I, he used to give a boat ride every year to his former employees. I guess you got that on your...
Tremaine: You tell me about it.
McCray: I thought maybe somebody maybe told you about it. But years ago he used to invite all the retired employees on that boat ride. Take them way down the Bay. Give them a big meal, dancing and everything on the boat. You had a wonderful time. Went out from Fourth and the [?] wharf.
Tremaine: Uh huh.
Henry: Down where the ...
McCray: Yeah. The [Walter?] line used to be around. Well in fact, they used one of the [Walter?] Line boats. That's who they'd hire. Lots of times he would be on.
Tremaine: Did he dress any differently than the workers?
McCray: Oh yeah. He was always dolled up. You know he only had one eye. He was blind in one eye. I don't know what happened to him. I remember he used to have an old red automobile. He lived up on Breck's Lane. He come down the Lane and he couldn't get the damn car back. And the kids would push him up. (laughter) Help him get the car up there.
Tremaine: Did he know the workers by name?
McCray: Oh yeah. He come up the Yard. He spent a lot of time up in the Yard. In fact, he built a small locomotive to pull the powder cars up and down the yard, so you didn't have to push them. And it had an alcohol motor. It burned alcohol. It pulled the powder cars from one place to the other up and down the Yard on a narrow-gage railroad. But he was a nice man.
Tremaine: Were any of the other du Pont's there at all?
McCray: Oh I didn't know them. Dirty Gene, I knew him.
L. McCray: (laughter) I don't know why they would call him Dirty Gene.
McCray: Take that off the tape, would you please, I didn't mean to say that.
L. McCray: You just knew him because Grandmom worked for him. He was never down here.
McCray: Oh, no, no, no. He was never down there. He never cleaned up. But Alfred I, he's a [banker?].
Tremaine: Did he ever work in the Yards?
McCray: No. He was associated with the men. I don't think he ever worked in there. Not to my knowledge.
Henry: Oh and tell her...you used to tell me what a big deal it was when the Kennett Pike finally got paved. The big night out to go up there and sit.
McCray: Oh yeah. We'd go up the Kennett Pike and watch all the damn automobiles going by. After it got paved.
Tremaine: There weren't many, I don't imagine.
McCray: No. Very few.
L. McCray: I can remember my mother saying that her father sitting on the Kennett Pike at night to watch the bicycles go by.
Tremaine: Oh, bicycles?
L. McCray: He used to say, "Oh it was so wonderful. Looked like fireflies."
Tremaine: Then they had little lights on them or something?
Tremaine: What would they use for lights?
McCray: Kerosene. They used kerosene or carbon. You had the carbon, and you put it in there. Put drops of water to make gas. There's the light.
Tremaine: And they had a little container?
McCray: Yeah. With a pan on the bottom. You put the carbon in there and put the water in there. Tighten it up and that's what made the gas, see.
Tremaine: How would they hold it on the bicycle?
McCray: Clamp on the handlebars. A clamp.
Tremaine: I don't think I've seen one of those. Those are the type of things that seem to disappear. They no longer work and they get throw away.
L. McCray or Henry: And you throw it away. He always wishes he'd kept some of the old powder cans.
McCray: I got some of them small ones. [?] Beautiful.
Tremaine: That's it. And for the exhibit, we're looking for things that people used over there in their homes. Even if it might be a spoon or a covering for the yarn. People just threw these things away.
L. McCray: He's often wished he'd kept some of the old powder cans. Cause they were pretty too.
McCray: Yeah. Some of them had the peacock on them. Different kind of birds. They were nice.
L. McCray or Henry: Well, you don't know.
Tremaine: No. Can't save everything.
L. McCray or Henry: No. Lot's of times you do away with things. Later on you wish you hadn't. But you just can't save.
McCray: You don't want it till after you throwed it out.
L. McCray: You just thought they were junk, then.
- Final thoughts; McCray's police scanner; taking the summer trolleyKeywords: Police scanners; Street-railroads; TransportationTranscript: Tremaine: Can you think of anything else?
McCray: Well, that's about all I know of.
Tremaine: Well, I'll have you sign this, then.
McCray: A thousand dollars for my signature (laughter)
L. McCray or Henry: He's got rheumatism or arthritis.
McCray: I can't hardly write because I'm all jammed up...
Tremaine: That's all right. There, you want to read that first.
McCray: Oh no. I'll trust you.
Henry: Will there be whenever the date is settled for the exhibit, will there be a notice in the paper?
Tremaine: Oh yes. And we're hoping to have something that they will invite the ones that have been interviewed to a special reception. I think it would be nice. I think some of them would know each other, too. They all lived in the same area, and perhaps they don't know that the other one is nearby.
L. McCray: That's right. That's right.
McCray: I'm having problems trying to read. I just got my cataract glasses. I've been having a hell of a time with them.
Tremaine: Well, they take a while to get used to them. But at least you can see now.
L. McCray: He's only had them a couple days.
Tremaine: Oh well. You're doing very well.
L. McCray: I think so too.
Tremaine: My neighbor has got glasses. She also has lenses she uses sometimes.
L. McCray: He has this long lens ...
Tremaine: I'll take this off here. You probably didn't even know that was on.
McCray: No. I didn't. I might of got my hand caught.
L. McCray: You're a celebrity now.
McCray: Yes. (laughter)
Tremaine: There we go. This goes out there. Oh you have a fancy scanner. You can set the numbers on yours. I can't. I've had mine maybe five years. My husband gave it to me. And I can't set my numbers.
McCray: What do you mean?
Tremaine: I use crystals.
McCray: Well this has got crystals in it.
Tremaine: Well yes. Maybe it is. Just a different version.
McCray: I've got the city police, the county police, the state police, the city fire department, Philadelphia police, and Newark police.
Tremaine: Yes. I have two fire horns.
McCray: I have for the county and state both.
Tremaine: And the county police and the state police. And Newark. I didn't want the city. Because it's so busy, I'd never get anything else.
McCray: I can block out that one. Just push a button.
L. McCray: He blanks Philadelphia out cause that's all you ever heard. Constantly. [More discussion of scanner.]
McCray: I wouldn't take a million dollars for this. Like at nighttime I come out and listen.
L. McCray: It's been a big help to him. It passes a lot of time.
McCray: A guy tried to jump off the Market Street Bridge last night at 11 o'clock, but they got to him before he went overboard.
Tremaine: Oh my.
Henry: A little chilly for that.
[More discussion of scanner.]
Tremaine: You listen to it most of the time?
McCray: Me? Oh yeah. I spend a lot of time there. [Further discussion of scanner]
Tremaine: Put your name there, please. Since your voice will show up on there, I thought perhaps ... JEANETTE HENRY And you're the daughter?
Tremaine: If there are other voices, they like to know who they belong to.
McCray: I wish I'd brought the cat in there too. (laughter)
L. McCray: Give a meow. He's out here somewhere. He's scared. Anybody? Nervous, I guess.
Tremaine: Oh you have a little doorstop there.
L. McCray: Yes. A cat. We're all cat lovers.
Henry: How long have you been working...I mean how long have they been doing this?
Tremaine: They started about 10 years ago doing some interviews. And they were not recorded, most of them. Now some were. And then...Well it's been sporadic I guess. On and off. And then we started again last year, and the summer was not a good time to find anyone home.
McCray: Sony recorder?
Tremaine: Sony. Yes.
Henry: Where did you find his name?
Tremaine: It was given to me on a list of people. I have a big list. It came from...I don't know. We do get names from other people. But this was a list that was given to me as I say, I don't know where they got it.
McCray: I don't whether I helped any or not.
Tremaine: You certainly did. It's surprising when you put all these together. You put the tapes...tape the different ones and listen to the parts on the same subject. People that have lived in the same place. And it is amazing. [Disconnecting recorder] It's still running, by the way. It's running on batteries. Sometimes things still get said. Sometimes people, just as you're leaving, will think of something. So it is still running. (Faint voices)
Henry: You said some things today I didn't know about.
McCray: I could tell you some more stories, but I won't do it.
Tremaine: You won't do it! (laughter)
Henry: He's saving those for his memoir.
Tremaine: Yes. Well, what I did. I bought my...my brother bought my father a tape recorder. And he sits down and records on his own tape. And then he sends it to me and I transcribe it. Then I give my brothers copies. Just for the family. And he had the best time doing that. Stories that he wouldn't tell other people. You know. Maybe you could do that? Give it to your daughter.
McCray: I don't talk that much. I'm a very quiet talker.
Tremaine: Oh you talked for how long today. (laughter)
L. McCray: Sometimes he'll be sitting there, and I'll say, "Talk to me." And he'll say, "I've got nothing to talk about."
Henry: My son in law, Don. His grandfather was 97. He's been dead now for two years. But he had the most fantastic memory. He'd always lived in Wilmington, and he'd worked on the trolley line.
McCray: Something about the Powder Yards.
Henry: And he had total recall, see. He could remember prices they paid for things back then, dresses they did, when everyone was born. I loved listening to him talk about it. We often said we should have recorded it or someone should have written some of it down. Cause now he's gone and there's so many things you could have learned from it.
McCray: Well he was a motorman for the People Line up the crick for years and years.
L. McCray: He drove a trolley up there.
McCray: Tell her what we used to do.
L. McCray: The trolleys used to pull a pole along the line, and the young boys they pull the pole off.
McCray: [?] Switchman...pull the lights and when we get back we'd pull the damn pole off. He'd have to put it on again.
Tremaine: Did he ever catch you?
McCray: No. We didn't get caught. (laughter)
L. McCray: You could run in them days.
McCray: I couldn't do it now.
Tremaine: I think sometimes it's too bad we don't have trolleys anymore. At least we'd have transportation.
L. McCray: They used to have the summer trolleys. Now they were nice. They were all open.
McCray: Go up to Brandywine Springs. Stop by the park.
L. McCray: We used to do that just for a ride. Something to do. Only cost a nickel.
Tremaine: To go all the way out to Brandywine Springs State Park?
L. McCray: I can remember when I was small my parents having six tickets for a quarter. Little red tickets. I remember them. Six for a quarter. My goodness. You can't even ride one way for a quarter now.
McCray: Years ago you could get the trolley car in town here and go clear to Westchester. Change your car in Westchester. From Westchester you'd go to Philadelphia. Take another car and go down the boat, come back to Wilmington.
Tremaine: Oh, that would be a nice day.
Henry: I remember when I was little us going up to Philadelphia...
L. McCray: From Philadelphia down here took two and one half hours.
Tremaine: Oh my.
L. McCray: We'd spend a Sunday afternoon.
Tremaine: We don't have anything like that now.
Tremaine: Oh, I thank you very much. Even though you don't think you gave me anything. You really did. You must come up and see the yards and all that.
McCray: Well it used to be when I had my own car, I could drive. I gave it up two years ago.
L. McCray: Up until a year ago he was peppy as anything, but then he got rheumatoid arthritis.
McCray: We have a summer home down in Ocean City. We spend the summer down there. But it took the life out of me, I can't get down the beach and see the girls... (laughter)
Tremaine: Don't you have binoculars? [More talk about the beach and arthritis.]