Interview with Edwin Zeuner, 1984 June 26 [audio]
- Family history and father's work history; moving to Wilmington in 1914Keywords: Bohemia; DuPont Company. Wilmington Shops; Lester Piano Company (Philadelphia, Pa.); millwright; Repauno Chemical Company; Saxony (Germany)Transcript: Lotter: I'm talking with Edwin Zeuner on Boyd's Valley Drive, Wilmington, Delaware for an oral interview. The date is June 26, 1984. This is Marge Lotter.
What we are interested in is learning what life was like in the small villages surrounding the powder yards. We're mainly interested in the people and the people's lives. How they lived, what they did for entertainment.
Zeuner: But I didn't live up there. I lived in Wilmington and went out on the trolley car. We had to go out on the trolley car. But I knew everybody up there.
Lotter: And I'm sure you were in a lot of the houses and various villages?
Zeuner: Yes, indeed.
Lotter: Suppose we start off, if you can give me your full name.
Zeuner: Edwin Reinhold Zeuner.
Lotter: And your address?
Zeuner: The address: 21 Boyd's Valley Drive.
Lotter: And your age?
Lotter: And your telephone number.
Lohttps://www.google.com/intl/en/options/tter: Thank you. Now, I'd like to get a little bit of your background. I think you started to tell me a little bit. Your father's name was?
Zeuner: Reinhold Zeuner and he started with the company in 1907 at Repauno. And my brother started with them in 1908 at Repauno and he learned his trade over there, and my sister was a stenographer over there after graduating from Paulsboro High School. So, we are a du Pont family really.
Lotter: What was your father's trade?
Zeuner: He was a millwright. He was a cabinet maker to begin with, but he was a millwright with DuPont.
Lotter: And where was he born?
Zeuner: And he was born in Saxony in Germany.
Lotter: And do you know when he came to this country?
Zeuner: No. He came in - well it was in the 1880's - early 70's or 80's that he came to this country. And he worked for Lester Piano, refinishing pianos in his first employment.
Lotter: Do you know what brought him to this area? Why he came to the Wilmington area?
Zeuner: Well, he came to Philadelphia to begin with. He had some relatives in Philadelphia and that's why he came - that's his first handle with this area. Then, he went to work for a cabinet maker in Woodbury, New Jersey, from Philadelphia. And from there he went to work for du Pont in Gibbstown which was the Repauno Works.
Lotter: And what did he do there?
Zeuner: He was a millwright.
Lotter: He was a millwright there, also.
Zeuner: Yes. He came over here in 1914. In 1914, we moved to Wilmington and he was at the Hagley yards. My brother was at the Hagley yards, and my sister came over and worked at the DuPont building as a secretary.
Lotter: The whole family. How about yourself? When did you start?
Zeuner: I started March 28, 1922 at Wilmington shops.
Lotter: And your trade was?
Zeuner: Millwright. Then - well, I completed - I had 47 years and some months of service total when I finished up.
Lotter: That's got to be close to a record. Can you tell me your father's birth date?
Zeuner: December 28, - let's see - He died in '27 and he was 65. - 1862.
Lotter: And how about your mother? Where did she come from?
Zeuner: She came from Germany also. She came from what was then known as Bohemia, later to become Czechoslovakia after all the wars and all that.
Lotter: And what was her full name?
Zeuner: Ernestine Spitzbart - that was her name.
Lotter: And do you know when she was born?
Zeuner: She died in '47 and she was 78. That would be what?
Lotter: I'll have to figure that out. And what about your brothers and sisters? You had one brother and one sister?
Zeuner: I have a brother and two sisters.
Lotter: And your brother, you said worked for DuPont.
Zeuner: Max Zeuner. And he was born in 1893. My sister was 1895.
Lotter: Is he still living?
Zeuner: Oh, no, he died in 1977. And my sister was born in 1895.
Lotter: And her name is?
Zeuner: Linda Zeuner Evans. And she's still living. She's over in Millcroft Nursing Home. She'll be 89 in August.
Lotter: Do you think she'd be able to talk to us at all?
Zeuner: No. She's pretty much under the weather right now.
Lotter: And how about your other sister?
Zeuner: My other sister died in 1971 and she was a dietitian with the U.S. Veterans service.
Lotter: What was her name?
Lotter: Do you have any information on your grandparents? Did they live in this country or were they in Germany?
Zeuner: My father's mother - his father died in Philadelphia, but when we don't know. But his mother died in - I don't know whether I have that here or not. Don't think I do. No, I don't have that here. But, his mother died in [pause] 1925, I believe. About 1925. She was married the second time.
Lotter: Do you have any idea when they came to this country?
Zeuner: I have no idea. We have no idea of their background at all.
Lotter: And how about your other grandparents?
Zeuner: No, they never came over here - on my mother's side. They never came over.
- Taking the trolley to Hagley; acquaintances in the Brandywine villages; going swimming in the Brandywine as a childKeywords: Bancroft Mills; DuPont Company. Wilmington Shops; Philadelphia Saengerbund Singing Society; Street-railroads; swimming; trolley lineTranscript: Lotter: Do you know why your father came to this country?
Zeuner: He came over here because - well, he was trying - he wanted work. Work was scarce over there. And he came over here to improve himself. He was quite a singer. He founded the Philadelphia Saengerbund and was the first president of the Philadelphia Saengerbund Singing Society in Philadelphia. That was way back. I'm working on trying to get all of that together right now. I'm working on that. I know that that's available from Philadelphia, and I have two daughters in Philadelphia and I have one daughter in Philadelphia and my wife has an older girl up there. She had two children when I married my wife. But I only have one. And she worked for DuPont's, too, out at Louviers.
Lotter: Where did you live after your father came with the DuPont Company?
Zeuner: In Gibbstown. In Gibbstown first and then in Wilmington.
Lotter: And where in Wilmington?
Zeuner: On West 7th Street in Wilmington right where the highway goes through now - I-95. [laughs]
Lotter: You said you used to come out when you started with the powder works by trolley?
Zeuner: Oh, yes. They traveled by trolley.
Lotter: Where did the trolley line run?
Zeuner: The trolley line went out - let's see - it went up du Pont Street and I can remember the trolley - them talking about the operator of the trolley was a man named Buck. And it went all out through Delaware Avenue and down and across and up through the yards and ended up out there right about Montchanin Road. Right up in there. That was the end of the line up there.
Lotter: And what was your connection with the powder yards and the people there? Did you get to know a lot of the people there?
Zeuner: I met - well, now - When they moved down to the Wilmington Shops, all of these old fellows that were up at the Hagley yards they came down to Wilmington Shops. They moved down. The Dougherty's and Toomey's and Buchanan's - Bill Buchanan and Anthony Dougherty. I worked with all of them.
Lotter: Did most of those men when they moved to the Wilmington Shops...
Zeuner: They still lived out there. They still lived out there in their old homes except Anthony Dougherty. Anthony Dougherty moved down around 5th and Jackson, and I believe that's where he died. He actually died there. Now, his family - he had several brothers that worked in the machine shop. And I believe his father worked for DuPont's, too, Anthony Dougherty. And they lived up along side of the church.
Lotter: Which church?
Zeuner: St. Joseph's Church up there on...
Lotter: Route 100 and Barley Mill.
Zeuner: Yeah. Barley Mill - up there. Well, I knew the whole works of them. There was a Frenchman, too, Gus Antoine, and Mickey Bonner and well - I knew all of them. They all still lived - They used to come in - just as we used to go out there to go to work they came in to Wilmington Shops to work in there, too.
Lotter: And as you remember did they still do most of their shopping in Henry Clay Village?
Zeuner: Well, not necessarily. Because, well, it was small, naturally, and they came in to Wilmington to do quite a bit of their shopping. They came in to Wilmington to do most of their shopping. There was only a couple stores out there.
Lotter: At that point a lot of the stores were no longer there.
Zeuner: They were no longer there. Hagey had a store out there. I knew Hagey's. In fact, way down the line one of my apprentice boys - I was a supervisor - later a supervisor at Wilmington Shops - and one of my apprentice boys, Norman Tucker, married a Hagey. One of the line of Hagey's that had the store out there along the Brandywine.
Lotter: What do you remember about the village or any of the surroundings? At that time?
Zeuner: Well, of course, I was out there quite a bit as far as that goes. We used to go swimming out there. That was about it. It was very quiet.
Lotter: Do you remember any of the stores there?
Zeuner: No. Hagey's is just about the only one.
Lotter: Where did you go swimming?
Zeuner: Right up at the - right above the gates there. We used to call it the head gates, but where the race starts - that comes down along the Brandywine. We called it the head gates. It was right above Bancroft Mills. That's where we used to go swimming.
Lotter: Was this a pretty popular swimming spot?
Zeuner: Oh, yes, everybody. We used to walk out from Wilmington, too. We used to walk out quite a ways out from Wilmington to go there. And we'd meet a lot of people coming from all over to go there. That was real popular - both sides of the Brandywine - very popular.
Lotter: What do you remember about the homes? You said you were in a lot of the homes.
Zeuner: Yes - well -
Lotter: Were you in any of the homes on Walker's Bank - do you remember any of those homes?
Zeuner: That was across the creek. I was in several of them, but I was too young to remember too much about that. And I was in quite a few of them on this side, too. But, I don't remember too much about the homes.
Lotter: You say you were quite young. About what age would this have been?
Zeuner: Well, I would have been - let's see this was before I started to work when they were operating up there. I might have been - well, it would have been during the War and - well, that would be in 1917. I would have been 12 in 1917. I was born in '05. So, I was 12 and 13 and 14 - in around there. At that age you wouldn't remember much about homes, really.
- Leisure activities along the Brandywine including picnics and ice skating; sledding in Wilmington; dismantling the electrical equipment at Hagley shops; visiting houses on Breck's LaneKeywords: baseball; bobsleds; bonfires; Breck's Lane; Delaware River; DuPont Country Club; ice skating; Kate McClafferty's dancing school; picnic food; Picnics; quoits; sledding; vegetable gardensTranscript: Lotter: What do you remember doing down in that area? Did you socialize with a lot of the...?
Zeuner: No, not up there. I didn't socialize much with those people up there. I was in the neighborhood around 4th and Broom then, and they are the ones that I socialized with. Later when I went to work, then I socialized with the ones that were up there - Mickey Bonner, and Anthony Dougherty, Gus Antoine and Bill Buchanan. And the whole works then. They were all the old timers.
Lotter: And what do you remember doing in your leisure time with these men?
Zeuner: Well, they had picnics. That was the big time, the big picnics that we had more so than anything else. In those times you didn't have transportation and you didn't have all the conveniences that you have now so that a picnic was really something.
Lotter: What do you remember about the picnics?
Zeuner: Well, you had picnics and you had picnics up on the top of the hill at the country club. They had a baseball diamond. They'd have a pick-up baseball team. And then they'd have a picnic up there. Now this is right across from - well, it's where the Experimental Station is now. But that was the first DuPont country club - up on the hill. And, of course, I remember the first country club up there, too.
Lotter: And what was special about these picnics? What did you do and what kind of food did you have?
Zeuner: You had hot dogs and watermelon and - hamburg - you had just regular picnic fare. Different people would bring potato salad and things like that - not too much else. And soft drinks. There wasn't too much hard stuff there at all. [laughs]
Lotter: What did you do for fun at the picnic - for entertainment?
Zeuner: Just baseball and pitch quoits. Some of the might play a little golf because that was all in the complex there. In the summertime, if it was real big to go swimming.
Lotter: How about any dancing? Were there ever any bands?
Zeuner: The earliest that I remember as far as that goes is Kate McClafferty in Wilmington. She was next to the high school. She had a dancing school and she had a dance - I think it was every Friday night - and that was a big social.
Lotter: But you don't remember any dancing at any of the picnics?
Zeuner: Oh, no. They didn't have too much of that. No, you didn't have any radios or -
Lotter: And no bands there?
Zeuner: No bands, no.
Lotter: Do you remember any Fourth of July celebrations at Henry Clay Village?
Zeuner: No, I don't. Not anything real special. Everybody had fireworks. That was the only - everybody had fireworks. I used to go up there quite a bit, but that was it.
Lotter: How about Christmas celebrations?
Zeuner: No. In the wintertime it was - rough. You just didn't get around. No, it was real bad then.
Lotter: Do you remember skating on the Brandywine?
Zeuner: Oh, yes, there was skating, definitely. Bonfires along the banks and the skating at night. Well, from the dam all the way up. You used to skate all along there. And it really froze. It would be frozen for quite a bit of the winter, too. It was frozen quite a bit. In fact, I remember when the Delaware was frozen over. That was way back.
Lotter: Now, was there a popular spot to go skating on the Brandywine?
Zeuner: Yes, it was above the dam - any place above the dam you could skate. It was all real good skating up there.
Lotter: How about sledding?
Zeuner: Not so much out there as it was in Wilmington. In Wilmington, they used to have quite a bit of sledding and they had Third Street marked off from Broom all the way down to Jefferson which was a total of maybe nine or 10 blocks - city blocks. And the firemen used to have big bobsleds. That was a big deal. They'd have eight or 10 people on one sled.
Lotter: Do you remember any Company affairs - picnics or dances - anything like that the Company held?
Zeuner: No. When I started with them - yes - we had picnics but we had picnics down - from Wilmington Shops we had the picnics. That was way later.
Lotter: But you don't remember any while you were working on the Brandywine?
Lotter: What do you remember about dismantling the shops?
Zeuner: Well, just that we were dismantling some of the electrical equipment up there. That was the only time that I worked up there was when we dismantled the electrical equipment. The rest of the time - I started my trade down at Wilmington Shops - down on Maryland Avenue.
Lotter: What do you remember about the Villages at the time that you worked there? Could you tell me where people were living in that area?
Zeuner: No. Just the Doughertys lived up next to the Church.
Lotter: Do you remember Squirrel Run at all?
Zeuner: No. I don't remember the other places that were down there at all.
Lotter: Squirrel Run was actually on the creek that's inside the Hagley Gates. But you don't remember being up in that area at all?
Lotter: How about any of the homes? Were you in any of the homes on Breck's Lane, some of those company houses?
Zeuner: Brecks Lane - oh, yeah. Yeah, Mickey Bonner lived up there. And Bill Buchanan lived there. And I was in both of those homes, but as far as remembering what they looked like, I wouldn't remember what they looked like inside. They were small. They were all small houses. Nothing big.
Lotter: And none of those houses at that point had been enlarged in any way? Later some of them were broken - walls were taken down and two houses made into one.
Lotter: Do you have any memories of what the men in that area did? Did they have any clubs or any fraternal organizations?
Zeuner: No. They didn't seem to. In the summertime they gathered outside Hagey's store and shot the bull and just passed the time of day. They tended to their gardens. Everybody had a garden just about.
Lotter: Do you remember what they grew?
Zeuner: Just the regular. They didn't grow anything exotic at all.
Lotter: Were a lot of these vegetables things they could store over the winter?
Zeuner: No, not too much. Everything was just about fresh.
- Men's clothing including work clothes; men's and women's bathing costumesKeywords: aprons; bathing caps; bathing shoes; bathing suits; caps; foremen; George Seitz; hats; overalls; stiff collars; straw hats; vests; work clothesTranscript: Lotter: Do you remember anything about how the men dressed in those days?
Zeuner: Well, you had - there was still some stiff collars. Collars on shirts were just about coming into vogue then - a little bit later on. But the detached collars - when you got dressed up, you put on a collar. Otherwise, you just wore the shirt with a collar button.
Lotter: What type jacket did they wear?
Zeuner: They were much the same. They haven't changed too much.
Lotter: How about a hat? Did the men wear hats?
Zeuner: Yes, they did. Quite a bit. Almost everybody wore a hat.
Lotter: What type hat?
Zeuner: Well, there were quite a few felt hats and quite a few caps, too. It was just according to who they were and what they liked - whether they liked a hat or whether they liked the cap. And in the summertime, straw hats. We had a foreman up there - George Seitz - Mrs. Margaret Seitz' father - and he couldn't wear a regular straw hat. He had to knock the top out of it and his head stood up out - George Seitz was my first foreman.
Lotter: And do you remember the Seitz girls that lived up on the hill?
Zeuner: No. George Seitz lived in Gordon Heights at that time. They moved from up there up above Shellpot Park up in Gordon Heights. And that's where George Seitz moved his family. But, I can remember Margaret coming through the shops. I was an apprentice boy down there then, and she used to come through there and she'd blow kisses to the different men that were working in there.
Lotter: [laughs] I know Margaret. She's one of our volunteers now.
Zeuner: And her brothers are graduates of West Point. She had two brothers that graduated from West Point.
Lotter: And I believe she had a couple aunts that lived in - well the schoolhouse had been turned into the offices after the Company moved in to Wilmington.
Zeuner: I didn't know them. I only knew George. Now, I gave the library a picture and it had all of the foremen that worked up there. All of the foremen and supervisors, and George Seitz was among that bunch. There was another one on there - Jim Murphy and a fellow named Stillwell. And Blair - Alex Blair. Well, there were a lot from the machine shop and from all over. I mean from all over the yard up there - mostly the crafts.
Lotter: We were talking earlier about how the men dressed. How did they dress for work? What was their typical attire?
Zeuner: Well, you just wore old clothes. Most all the wood workers in the wood shop had overalls. Those in the keg shop that made wooden kegs for the powder, they wore overalls. A lot of them in the machine shops wore aprons and some had blue overalls. They were blue. The others were sort of blue and white checked. But most all of them had something. The Blacksmith had leather aprons.
Lotter: But mostly just old shirts and pants?
Zeuner: Oh, yeah, just old clothes.
Lotter: Now in the wintertime when it was cold, would they wear jackets or sweaters or?
Zeuner: Oh, yeah. You had jackets and you had sweaters - sweaters, mostly.
Lotter: No vests?
Zeuner: Oh, yes. Vests were very much in. They were worn quite a bit. More so than now. You only see office people with vests, now, usually as a rule. But, not then, everybody had vests then. The suits came that way. If you bought a suit, you'd get a vest.
Lotter: So quite often they would wear a vest for warmth to work?
Zeuner: Oh, yeah.
Lotter: How about hats? Did they wear anything on their heads?
Zeuner: Oh, yeah. You had felt hats and caps. Some people wore caps all the time.
Lotter: How about around the yards?
Zeuner: Around the yards? You had the same thing - caps and you had hats - both.
Lotter: And some of the men wore regular felt hats?
Zeuner: Oh, yes. They wore hats. But you would see more straw hats, though, in the summertime. You don't see them any more. [laughs] Only in shows now.
Lotter: How about the women? Do you remember much about the women's clothes?
Zeuner: There were no bikinis, you can bet on that. [laughter] And any of the girls, if they did go swimming, the had long bloomers and stockings and - oh, my. Bathing shoes. Long sleeves.
Lotter: What were their bathing suits like?
Zeuner: Oh, they were terrible looking. They were all baggy. There was no fit to them at all. It seemed like they were all one size.
Lotter: And how about the shoes?
Zeuner: They were bathing shoes. They were rubber soles and canvas - more like our tennis shoe right now. Something like that. They were a light rubber bottom with a little canvas top and tied with a lace.
Lotter: Did they wear caps?
Zeuner: Oh, yes. They had fancy caps. Real fancy caps that had a rubber - almost like a shower cap now with a rubber around the bottom and real fancy with pom poms and maybe a flower or two on the top because a lot of people, they never got their hair wet. They never went in the water that much - under the water. They never went under the water. The same at the beaches - Atlantic City and Wildwood and all - they just went in to their knees and that was about it.
Lotter: And how about the men, what did they wear for swimming?
Zeuner: Oh, they had trunks down to their knees and the shirts came down to their elbows and, oh, they were terrible, too. That was about it.
Lotter: Did they wear anything on their feet?
Zeuner: No, they didn't have anything on their feet - not men.
Lotter: And I assume men got more than their knees wet when they went in swimming?
Zeuner: Oh, yeah. They went swimming. They dove right in.
- Eleutherian Mills passageway used to get to the Brandywine for swimming; women's work clothing and accessories; men's jewelryKeywords: Eleutherian Mills; handkerchief; lapel pins; passageways; pocketbooks; stickpins; sun hats; Waldemar watch chain; watch; women's working clothesTranscript: Lotter: Now, did the women swim in the same spot in the Brandywine as the men or were there other places for the women?
Zeuner: Oh, no. They went in in different places, too. They used to go in where it was real shallow. And they would maybe sit down in the water a little bit but that would be about it. They didn't get too wet.
Lotter: Do you remember where they did swim on the Brandywine?
Zeuner: Now the du Pont women used to swim right down from where the old house - you know the old house that sits up there - the du Pont house -
Lotter: Eleutherian Mills?
Zeuner: Yeah. They used to come down through the passageway - you know the passageway that comes down under the gardens?
Lotter: No, I'm not familiar with that. I didn't know there was one.
Zeuner: There's a passageway comes down - you know where the ponds are and the columns, colonnades and all that?
Lotter: Yes, I do.
Zeuner: Well, there's a secret passageway down there that the du Pont girls used to use to get down to the water up there.
Lotter: Now, which du Pont girls were these?
Zeuner: These were girls - they were either visiting or they must have been girls from the du Pont families that lived up there in that house. Because the boys used to go up on the other side of the Brandywine and spy on them from across the creek.
Lotter: Oh, they did? [laughs] Do you remember which du Pont girls these were?
Zeuner: Wouldn't be able to tell you.
Lotter: And how did you find out about this passageway?
Zeuner: Well, the passageway - it's open now. To people that want to go through the gardens and up through there now.
Lotter: So this was something that was readily known to everyone? At that time?
Zeuner: Well, maybe not. But there must have been quite a few people that knew about it as far as that goes. But it was a passageway underneath the gardens up there that went down quite close to the roadway.
Lotter: I know about where you mean and it does. Did they go swimming often?
Zeuner: Well, in the summertime, it was just a case of maybe hot days. Or whether they were up there or whether they were invited or what, I don't know. But, I know the boys used to watch them from across the creek, because they could walk up on the other side of the creek and they'd never be seen, you know, over on the other side. That was fairly thick underbrush over on the other side up there.
Lotter: What do you recall on the other side? Were there any homes there, any villages?
Zeuner: No, there was nothing over there. I think more or less over there, as I recall, it was nothing but just forest, just undergrowth.
Lotter: Do you remember any developments called Chicken Alley?
Zeuner: No, they were over there but I don't remember them as such at that time.
Lotter: Getting back to the women's clothing, what did the women wear for working around the house, do you remember how they dressed?
Zeuner: In long skirts - just long skirts and long sleeves. I don't remember any short sleeves, just long sleeves, and long skirts and long pantaloons.
Lotter: Did most women carry pocketbooks?
Zeuner: If they went anywhere, they did. It seems to me, that I don't believe they carried them as much as - well, maybe they did, I don't know. [tape is switched] No cigarettes, no nothing, really, for them to carry a purse. I can remember they used to stick a handkerchief up their sleeves like. That would be about it.
Lotter: How about hats? Did they usually wear hats?
Zeuner: Well, now hats - on a Sunday, yes.
Lotter: But not on an ordinary morning if they were going out? Did they wear any kind of sun hat?
Zeuner: Not necessarily. Well, some of them would wear a sun hat. Yes, you'd have a sun hat here and there. It would be usually a wide brimmed something.
Lotter: But they weren't too concerned.
Zeuner: In the wintertime they'd wear something - something that would be tight fitting that would be close to keep the cold out.
Lotter: Like a knitted hat?
Zeuner: Yeah, a knitted hat and cloth hats that were tied under the chin.
Lotter: How about for dress? What type hats did they wear for dress?
Zeuner: Well, for dress it was always a floppy hat. Usually a wide-brimmed hat.
Lotter: What about the men now, getting back to the men's clothing? Do you remember any type jewelry, watches or anything like that?
Zeuner: Yes, they had watches and a watch chain and I know my father left me a watch and a watch chain - a Waldemar watch chain - and had a knife on the end of it. A gold knife on the end of it. And the knife had a hole in it so that the knife when you closed it, it would cut the tip off a cigar so that you could smoke a cigar. It was a - that was real old.
Lotter: I've never seen one quite like that.
Zeuner: You haven't?
Lotter: No, not with all of that attached to it.
Zeuner: Oh, yes, I still have it.
Lotter: I'd like to see it sometime. What other type jewelry did the men wear?
Zeuner: They didn't wear rings. Very, very few, I would say. A stickpin in a tie. Cuff links. They did have cuff links. I guess that would be about it. A stickpin was real - oh, you were dressed up with a stickpin. And Lodges had their lapel pins - just a little decoration.
Lotter: What did some of these stickpins look like? Can you describe any that you might remember?
Zeuner: Yes. I've got one. It was silver and it was sort of a multi-faceted stone, maybe long and narrow, but it was sterling. And then there were some that were gold and they would have maybe a little bow knot or something on it. Horse's head in relief.
- Women's jewelry, hair accessories, and shawls; acquaintances with various members of du Pont family and DuPont employees [looking at photographs and DuPont : The Autobiography of an American Enterprise]Keywords: dresses; Du Pont, E. Paul (Eleuthè re Paul), 1887-1950; Du Pont, Henry Belin, 1898-1970; eprouvettes; Four Horsemen of Notre Dame; Foxx, Jimmie; Greenewalt, Crawford H. (Crawford Hallock), 1937-2012; hair barrettes; hair combs; hair ribbons; Johnson, Judy, 1900-1989; Sarazen, Gene; shawlsTranscript: Lotter: Do you remember women wearing much jewelry?
Zeuner: No. A pin. Rings and pins were very much - well, you had a few necklaces, too, but pins were really something then. You know, a pin - a gold pin, round gold pin with imitation diamond or imitation rubies or turquoise. Something like that. They were quite in fashion.
Lotter: How about anything in their hair?
Zeuner: Barrettes. Well, you had long hair - you had all long hair. You didn't have any short hair then. And that was - you didn't have any pony tails.
Lotter: Well, how did the women fix their hair?
Zeuner: Well, they had combs and they had tortoise barrettes and different things that they did adorn their hair with.
Lotter: Some of these combs could be quite fancy, too?
Zeuner: Oh, yes. They were fancy with stones and all that stuff. Sure. They could be fancy, all right.
Lotter: Any other jewelry that you remember the women wearing?
Lotter: Now, when the weather was chilly, what did they wear to keep warm?
Zeuner: Just had heavier clothing, that's all.
Lotter: Did they wear shawls or sweaters?
Zeuner: You had shawls. There were quite a few shawls. Everybody had a shawl. Every woman had one or two favorite shawls - hand knit. Hand-knit wool.
Lotter: Did any of the women wear vests?
Zeuner: Not too many. Mostly dresses.
Lotter: More dresses than skirts and blouses?
Zeuner: Oh, yes. Mostly all dresses, more so than anything else. Office people started with blouses and skirts and things so that they could change blouses, and they didn't change skirts.
Lotter: And this is what you remember about those days?
Zeuner: Yes. Oh, they did have bows - you know - bows in their hair. Hair ribbons.
Lotter: And did they have the big wide bows?
Zeuner: Oh, yes. Real big ones.
Lotter: How about the du Ponts? Did they dress pretty similar to this of did any of them dress differently?
Zeuner: Well, maybe a little better material, little better. They looked a little more elegant would be about it. [laughs]
Lotter: But no real big differences in their clothing?
Zeuner: No, not really.
Lotter: Do you remember any of the du Ponts coming through the powder yards? Did you get to know any of them?
Zeuner: No. Well, see, I wasn't in the powder yards at all. So, I didn't know them up there at all. I knew some of the du Ponts, all right.
Lotter: Which ones did you know?
Zeuner: Oh, I knew E. Paul. And I knew some of the later ones. Some of them that were in here [Book referenced is DuPont: The Autobiography of an American Enterprise; the story of E. I. Du Pont de Nemours & amp; Company, published in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the founding of the company on July 19, 1802. Wilmington, Distributed by Scribner, New York [c1952]] - Greenwalt - and not Pierre, but some of these later ones.
Lotter: Did you know Alfred du Pont?
Zeuner: No. No, but I met his secretary - what was his name. Here's Henry B. I knew Henry Belin. I worked on quite a bit of his stuff right up in his office up in the building. That's how come I knew him. And E. Paul - he was...Now these are some of the powder men that were up there - Charlie Beatty, Elias Rutter. I went to his party. I knew him. He was my first superintendent. Charlie Godfrey. Joe Haley was the first - was the first cost clerk at the Shops. These were some of the men that I did work with. There's a girl in here that her picture is in here and she is still around and - let me see if I can find the information on her. Oh, that's 35 years from Crawford Greenwalt for me. This is Elias Rutter's retirement party, and my picture is in that one. Now, here's one you might - I think they have this but you might have that. Of course, the old iron bridge - now that gives you a whole load of them. Now here's a Toomey. His father used to run the trolley car up there. Anthony Dougherty. He's the Dougherty that was up there. That's Jim Thompson. He worked up there, too. This is me. And Brodie. Brodie worked up there, too.
Lotter: A lot of those names sound very familiar.
Zeuner: They are, they are. As far as that goes, they are definitely from up there. Here's a picture - there's one of the early pictures of me - this little one here.
Lotter: Oh, yes. Was this taken in Wilmington?
Zeuner: No, that was Repauno.
Lotter: How old were you when you moved to Wilmington?
Zeuner: Let's see, we moved in '14 - about nine years old. Page 78 is the - One of these girls on this powder wagon is Mary Martin. That was her name then. Her name now is Mary Lindsay. And she's still alive. She still goes up to Mid-County every once in awhile. She would be somebody that might be able to tell you quite a bit about the...
Lotter: What was her connection with the powder yards?
Zeuner: She filled the powder bags - silk bags with the black powder.
Lotter: Her name is Mary Martin.
Zeuner: That was her name - Mary Martin. Mary Lindsay is her name now.
Lotter: Do you know where she lives?
Zeuner: No, I don't.
Lotter: Would you have any way of finding out?
Zeuner: Yes, I could find out from Mid-County Senior Center.
Lotter: I would appreciate that.
Zeuner: Mid-County Senior Center I think would give me the address.
Lotter: And her picture was on page 78 in the DuPont Autobiography. All right, I'd certainly appreciate that. And if you know of anyone else that had connection with the powder yards that we haven't spoken to.
Zeuner: Page 31 is the eprouvette. Now, this eprouvette they used to load with black powder and we'd shoot these across the creek to test the powder to see whether it was any good or not.
Lotter: These are iron balls that they would shoot?
Zeuner: Yes. Now then, I made a small quarter scale one of these and donated it to the Hagley Museum. They have it out there. It's chrome plated. It's a quarter scale and they have it.
Lotter: I don't know if they have this. May I take this and copy it?
Zeuner: Yes, I have a copy of it. I don't know how much of a sports gal you are.
Lotter: I don't know a lot about sports. What banquet was this?
Zeuner: 1951 sports banquet. Here's Judy Johnson. He's the first black in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Here's Don Miller, Jim Crowley, Elmer Layden, Harry Stuhldreher - do they ring a bell? There's the Four Horsemen of Notre Dame. Here's Gene Sarazen. He was a famous golfer. Jimmie Foxx is a famous baseball player. They were all there at this.
Lotter: It must have been quite an affair.
Zeuner: Oh, yes.
- Acquaintances with Edward Devenney and Ned Dougherty, former DuPont employeesKeywords: Chestnut Run; explosions; Fabrics and Finishes Division; Ned Dougherty; Newport Lab (Newport, Del.); Old Hickory (Tenn.); Repauno explosion; water boysTranscript: Lotter: Well, if you know of anyone else connected with the powder yards that we haven't interviewed -
Zeuner: Uh - He is the only one. Now somebody told me that Ed Devenney was out there.
Lotter: Yes, he was.
Zeuner: And I talked to him. He don't remember me. And I used to ride across on the ferry. I used to work with him over across the river. Now, his mind has slipped a little bit. He remembered some of the things that I told him about, but other things. He said, "You know, I can't picture you at all." So, I said, "You remember Jim Logan." "Oh, sure, I used to work with him." I said, "Well, he went over with us, too." He said, "Sure." And I said, "How about Russ Aldemus?" And he said, "Yeah, he went with us, too." I said, "Well, I was the other one. There were four of us that went over on the ferry, and I was the other one." "Well, you know, I can't place you." Well, I thought - well, you know. After all, that's - well, that was only in '31 and '32 then. That was at Plant I. I was over at Plant I. See, I've been around quite a bit with them. In Louisville. I was down there after they had the big explosion down there that killed 13 men. And Old Hickory - I was down at Old Hickory in 1928. I was out at Newport when they called it Newport Lab and it was the very first of the F& amp; F Division - Fabrics and Finishes. It's now Chestnut Run, and that was the very first they had out there. We installed the very first machinery out there for Fabrics and Finishes. Yes, I've been around quite a bit with hem.
Lotter: You mentioned explosions. Do you remember any explosions on the Brandywine?
Zeuner: I remember one explosion up there. I couldn't tell you exactly when it was. I remember an explosion at Repauno. That - at that time it was the largest dynamite plant in the world. But, I remember an explosion over there because we only lived about a mile up the road from the gate to the plant. And, naturally, when there was an explosion over there, everybody rushed down to the gate to see what happened and who was in it and all that stuff. I remember one up at Brandywine, but I can't tell you exactly when it was.
Lotter: What do you remember about the explosion on the Brandywine?
Zeuner: Just that there was an explosion up there and that's as much as I can remember of it.
Lotter: Do you remember your father telling you about any explosions that he was involved in?
Zeuner: No. Well, he wouldn't be involved in it, anyhow, because he wasn't right in the black powder yards. He was in the shops up there. And my brother was, too, so they would not be involved in the explosion. But then I knew of...
Lotter: Did he tell you any stories about the explosions?
Zeuner: No, they didn't talk about those. They really didn't talk about them. But, I knew a fellow up there - Ned Dougherty - He had over 50 years' service with the Company. He started with them when he was around 11 years old. He started with them up there as a water boy. He used to carry water all around in a bucket with a ladle to all the different powder men up there so they could get a drink of water. Then, he told me, he graduated and went from a water boy to driving the mules on the powder wagons up there that moved the powder from one location to another.
Lotter: Do you know how old he was when he started out as a water boy?
Zeuner: Eleven. He had well over 50 years' service with the Company. And he never wanted any responsibility and after all of those years, he ended up as a guard. He moved up to a laborer and then when he moved down to the shops, he was a guard. And that's when he retired. Poor old Ned. He was a character. Now, that's about all that I can remember about up there.
Lotter: You don't remember any other people that worked in the yards? Anything that you might have heard from them?
- Discussing photographs and a foundry ladle from the DuPont Wilmington ShopsKeywords: corning mill; DuPont Co. Wilmington Shops; foundry; Foundry ladles; graining mill; metal pouring ladleTranscript: Lotter: Well, perhaps what we'll do is I'll get in touch with you in a few weeks and see if you have remembered anything else and also if you can find out this address for me for the woman that put the black powder in the silk bags. I think she would be very interesting to talk with.
Zeuner: I couldn't understand why somebody hadn't gotten in touch with her before.
Lotter: I don't know. It may be that we're just not aware that she's in the area.
Zeuner: Oh, yes. They're aware because I told several people out there. Maybe I didn't tell the right ones...
Lotter: Well, I will definitely pass the information on again and see if we can't follow up on it. We can't afford not to. I would appreciate it if you would sign a permission slip for us to use this information.
Zeuner: Oh, sure.
Lotter: If you will sign that. And I have a copy of our "Worker's World" booklet. I don't know if you've seen that or not. You think you will probably recognize some faces in there and some things that look familiar.
Zeuner: Oh, good.
Lotter: Perhaps if I come back another time, we can discuss some of the things in that. Also, if you have any pictures that you might -
Zeuner: I have - I only have these. At sometime I would like to donate - now this picture I have the names on here. If you would like to have it. This is Anthony Dougherty's retirement party. Let me have your pen. And, of course, these go right straight across.
Lotter: Is this your only copy of this picture because I will definitely return this to you. They may want to make a copy of that.
Zeuner: O.K. All right.
Lotter: How about any pictures of your parents or your grandparents?
Zeuner: The only one I have is that old one of my parents. This is Jim Thompson. I used to make, these, too. These are big dynamite - This is a picture that I don't know whether they would want this or not. This is from the dynamite wheel. This is not from black powder. I worked on the corning mill - the corning mill that they've just opened the exhibit to. The graining mill. I worked on that because that was the last one that was made at Wilmington Shops. And I worked on that and it was given to them out there by Hercules, and I worked on that original. The original. I sure did. And then, the fellow took me around. I forget the fellow's name that took me around to see it, and he had worked on it and I told him that I worked on it and he said, "My gosh, why didn't somebody let us know about this because we had an awful time trying to put this all together." And I used to build them. I built all that black powder equipment - a lot of it.
Lotter: Now this was at the Wilmington Shop?
Zeuner: This is at the Wilmington Shops. This is not - yeah. Now, I don't know whether they would want this or not.
Lotter: I think they are mainly interested in older pictures.
Zeuner: Well, that's just it. These are a couple old timers from the foundry. This piece over here - now that's a design of E. Paul du Pont's. Now, you read that -
Lotter: It says, "This is from the Wilmington Shop Foundry, 1919-1953.
Zeuner: It was discontinued in 1953. Now, this is a ladle that pours iron and steel. And in order to close it out, E. Paul du Pont wanted a lot of the officials and different ones in the DuPont Company to have a model of a bucket which is what they called these - buckets - and an ash tray. But, he didn't want one that was like this because I designed this one. So, he got one that was a commercial - a light one. A real light one out of anodized aluminum so it's a lot lighter. But the buckets were the same. But I had mine silver plated. Now, I'd love to give this to them, but they have no interest in Wilmington Shops. At Hagley.
Lotter: Probably not.
Zeuner: Well, I mean, there may come a time when they will. That's why I say some of these things would be of interest to them. Just like this. This is the only one that I have. This is my father, my mother and me.
Lotter: I would be glad to take this if you don't mind and return it to you; they may want to copy that.
Zeuner: O.K. All right.
Lotter: I will return that to you. It gives us a good idea of clothing and things like that.
Zeuner: Now, that's back - well, let's see.
Lotter: You said you were seven years old.
Lotter: So that would be about 1912.
Zeuner: 1912. Yeah. You might put that on the back of it.
Lotter: I'll just put it down here in the corner then, and I'll see that it's returned to you. It may take a few weeks to get it copied. Sometimes they're quite busy.
Zeuner: Well, now, see that's the reason I say that this - This it might very well be that they could use it sometime later on. If they ever decide to go into something for side exhibit of Wilmington Shops.
Lotter: That's right.
Zeuner: There's a memento of the foundry. I don't know who the executive bunch are that got those. But, I know they didn't want this one. This is the one that I kept.
Lotter: That was 1919 to 1953. I'll make a note of it and pass it on to someone else. Tell me about the bucket, again.
Zeuner: It's actually a metal pouring ladle.
Lotter: I'll go ahead and pass that on.
Zeuner: Because they may, you know, want it.
Lotter: That's awfully nice of you to offer. And I will take very good care of your pictures and appreciate the poem. I don't know if they have that, but I certainly haven't read it and I'll be very interested to read this. I certainly enjoyed talking to you and hope I haven't taken up too much of your time.
Zeuner: Oh, no.
- Father's time in the millwright shop at Hagley from 1914 to 1919; his working conditions as an apprentice in the machine shop and former DuPont bonus system; accompanying Millard Buck in Bill Buchanan's ambulance after Buck's accident with an adzeKeywords: apprentices; bonus system; first aid room; hospitals; Industrial accidents; millwright shop; Stoke's Expectorant; trolley car; wages; Work environmentTranscript: Zeuner: I only worked up there a week. But I was up there quite a bit. My father worked up there and my brother worked up there.
Lotter: How long did your father work there?
Zeuner: From 1914 until 1919 - for five years. We came over here from Repauno in 1914.
Lotter: Do you remember being in the yards at all when your father was there?
Zeuner: Oh, yeah. Yes, I was through there. I was in there.
Lotter: You didn't see the powder yards?
Zeuner: No, I wasn't allowed in the powder yards, but I was up there with my father in the millwright shop. In fact, I used to take his lunch up every once in a while. I had a chance to ride on the trolley car for a nickel. And met this boy's father that was the motorman. And everybody knew - John Buck. He was the motorman that had the Hagley trolley.
Lotter: Would he ever let anybody - if he knew you well - just hop on and ride for a short distance?
Zeuner: Oh, I think so. I'm pretty sure there were some.
Lotter: I've heard that if they knew them...
Zeuner: Oh, yeah, different ones.
Lotter: I assume most of the men had to take their lunches.
Zeuner: Oh, sure, they had no cafeteria - nothing like that. No cafeteria at all.
Lotter: What hours did your father work?
Zeuner: I don't know, but I know that when I started in 1922, I got four cents an hour. Four cents an hour. I worked 52 hours a week and that was a total of $2.08 a week. That was my first pay as an apprentice boy. That was in 1922. Now the bonus system went out in 1923. Because after I was there a year, I was supposed to get a raise. You got a raise every year when you were an apprentice boy. And I was supposed to get a raise and the bonus system went out. We got a raise, anyhow. We got another couple cents an hour. So, it wasn't much, I'll tell you.
Lotter: What were the working conditions like?
Zeuner: Well, they weren't too bad. You weren't pushed too bad; you weren't pushed too hard. We were working mostly on all dynamite and black powder work at that time.
Lotter: You said the bonus system went out. What type of bonus system did the Company have?
Zeuner: It was one percent for one year's service up to 30 percent for 20 - I think it was 20 percent for 20 years' service - no 10 or 15 years service. You got something like 20 percent. I know over at Carney's Point they had it over there for years and years afterwards. That was the plant all by itself. Each plant was different. Each plant was run differently. When you got your pay, then you had that 20 percent bonus. If you had enough years in to earn that 20 percent bonus. So, that meant quite a bit.
Lotter: Did the Company at that time when you first started, did they have any medical care or any other fringe benefits?
Zeuner: As an apprentice boy down there, I used to help take care of the first aid room. I didn't know anything but bandages and iodine. We had one fellow down there that used to drink Stoke's Expectorant. It had some kind of a dope or something in it and he loved it. And he used to come in and say he had a bad cough and he'd want some of that Stoke's Expectorant. It was fun and it was all in one little closet - just bandages and all that. And if anything happened, Bill Buchanan had a little panel truck. He was the ambulance. This boy - this Millard Buck - the one that was in the picture - he cut his Achilles tendon one time with an adze, and Bill and I took him up to the hospital which was then at 8th and Adams. And the surgeon up there said we'd have to get permission from his parents in order to operate on him to pull that tendon back down and connect it again because he had severed it completely. The surgeon said he would be a cripple the rest of his life if it wasn't done very shortly. Well, his mother said she very reluctantly gave permission to do it because she knew that her husband would never, ever give permission to the hospital to have her son operated on. So, everything was all fixed up before his father ever found out about it. So that the boy - he walked with a little limp. He's still alive today. And he still walks with a little limp, but he would have been a cripple if he hadn't talked his mother into signing those papers for the surgeon to sew that back up again.
Lotter: Was his father afraid of hospitals?
Zeuner: Deathly afraid of them. He wouldn't even come in there. His mother came in, but he wouldn't even come into the hospital.
Lotter: Did many people feel that way about hospitals then?
Zeuner: A lot of them. A lot of people were - oh, they just were afraid of hospitals. Just didn't care about a hospital at all. It's surprising how many people even today.
Lotter: I'm sure there are some.
Zeuner: There are. They just don't trust hospitals. And yet, I've been in and out of hospitals all my life and I would go just like that - no problem at all. I'd go in a minute. But not him. Oh well.
Lotter: Well, I enjoyed talking to you very much, and I don't want to take any more of your time and I'm sure I'll have more questions for you...
Zeuner: I make these, too.
Lotter: Oh, I didn't realize that you made that. That is lovely. Very nice.
Zeuner: You'll have to take a walk back in my room, too, and see my room. I'm a collector of birds.
Lotter: All right, I'd love to.
Digitized material in this online archive may document imagery or language that reflects racist, ableist, sexist, homophobic, or otherwise offensive and harmful beliefs and actions in history. Hagley Library is engaged in ongoing efforts to address and responsibly present evidence of oppression and injustice in our collections. If you are concerned about the archival material presented here, or want to learn more about our ongoing work, please contact us at email@example.com.