Interview with Frank T. Stirlith, 1960 January 12, 1960 January 14 [audio](part 1)

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  • Father's life and work as a sailor; Father moving the family to Chester, Pennsylvania and Stirlith's early life
    Partial Transcript: "My father was French, born in Nantes... he was a seafaring man"
    Synopsis: Stirlith talks about his father's working life as a mess boy, ship master, and navigator. He says that his ship traveled between Boston, Massachusetts and Port Elizabeth, South Africa. He says that his parents met and got married in South Africa. After that he worked in Boston. Stirlith says he was born in Chester, Pennsylvania and at that time his father worked in a carriage factory. He says that after working in the carriage factory he worked as a rag man and junk dealer.
    Keywords: Baugh and Son; Boston (Mass.); Chester (Pa.); Immigration; Junk dealing; Nantes (France); Philadelphia (Pa.); Port Elizabeth (South Africa); Sailing
  • Sirlith's early life and education; Working in the rag picking business; Family and siblings
    Partial Transcript: "I was born third day of December four o'clock in the morning on a Thursday, my mother tells me..." "I have a lot of recollections about going to school, I was a pretty bad boy..."
    Synopsis: Stirlith talks about his time in school. He says that he went to parochial school and finished at a public school. He says that he was a behavior problem and often beat up other students and consequently spent a lot of his time in school being disciplined. He talks about working with his father in the rag business. He explains how the business worked and said that he did not have much leisure time when he was young due to work. He says that his mother went blind. He says that his father was a good provider and a smooth talker. He describes his father as a ne'er-do-well and says that he often left the family for long stretches of time to pursue women.
    Keywords: Behavior; Chester (Pa.); Education; Franklin School (Chester, Pa.); Rag picking; School
  • Working with Stirlith's brothers; Packing cotton and rags; Talking about his scars
    Partial Transcript: "I worked with my brother's until 1909..."
    Synopsis: Stirlith talks about some of his early jobs. He says that his earliest job was working in the picking room at the Arlington cotton mills in Wilmington, Delaware. He says that he got fired for beating up another worker who cheated at his job packing the cotton. He then discusses how to properly pack bales of cotton and rags. He says that he earned three dollars a week. Stirlith shows the interviewer some scars and tells a story about how he got them attempting to strong arm blacksmith equipment as a child. He talks about losing fingers to a grinding machine.
    Keywords: Arlington Mills; Flour mills; Injuries; Junk dealing; Scars; Tires
  • Ownership of the Arlington Mills; Working at the Diamond Match Company factory
    Partial Transcript: "A man by the name of Sammy Baldwin, the Baldwin family in Baltimore, or he may have been out of Havre de Grace.."
    Synopsis: Stirlith talks about the Baldwin family, who he says owned the Arlington mills and lived in either Baltimore or Havre de Grace, Maryland. He says that he thinks one of the Baldwin daughters married Alfred I. du Pont, whom he describes as a "libertine." He then talks about Alfred I. du Pont's wives and some of the rumors he heard about Alfred I.'s conduct. He talks more about his job at the mill and says he did almost every job there. He says he worked at the mill for about three years. After that he worked at the Diamond match factory in Wilmington. He describes his job making match boxes and the match making process. He talks about fire hazards in the match factory and says that everyone who worked in the match factory was a firefighter. He says that it fell to him to figure out what to do with 35,000 gross of condemned matches, and he describes how he disposed of them. He says that he made six dollars a week at Diamond Match and left the company in 1903 when he was around 20 years old.
    Keywords: Baldwin family; Baltimore (Md.); Diamond Match Company; Du Pont, Alfred I. (Alfred Irenee), 1864-1935; Fire; Firefighting; Havre de Grace (Md.); Phosphorous matches
  • Working at Lea's Mills; Injuries and accidents at Lea's Mill; Working conditions at Lea's Mill
    Partial Transcript: "I went there and took a job of sweeping up...that's how I come to know about the whole mill and different parts of it."
    Synopsis: Stirlith talks about his job as a cleaner at Lea's Mills making flour. He says that he fed loose grains that he swept up to fish in the Brandywine. Stirlith says the mill was water powered, but later he had the job of removing the water turbines. He talks about accidents and injuries on site. He talks about wages and working conditions. According to his memory, one hundred people worked in the mill's main building, and that the workers made $1.50 a day, one of the highest wages for factor workers in Wilmington at the time.
    Keywords: Accidents; Brandywine Creek; Employment; Injuries; Lea's Mill; Staffing; Wages; Water power; Wilmington (Del.)