Interview with Frederick K. Reybold, 1968 August 8 [audio]
- Early life on a peach farm; Getting into the newspaper business in Wilmington, Del.; Working as a lobbyist in Dover, Del.Synopsis: Reybold talks about his childhood on a peach farm. He talks about his grandfather, Philip Reybold, and his involvement in the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal. He goes on to talk about his political independence. He talks about getting involved in the newspaper business and says he started by writing human interest stories. He says that these stories eventually led to an interview with Grover Cleveland. He says the he also worked as a public relations man for Wilson Lines. He says that he attended the Delaware State Legislature's meetings for thirty-eight years. He says that he did this because he was a lobbyist and represented many different interest groups in the state of Delaware.Keywords: Chesapeake and Delaware Canal; Cleveland, Grover ( 1837-1908); Delaware City (Del.); Dover (Del.); Government; Gray, George (1840-1925); Lobbying; New Castle (Del.); New York Sun; New York Times; Peaches; Philadelphia Record; Reybold, Philip; Tybout, George C.; Wilson LinesTranscript: Reybold: My grandfather Reybold built that big palace where Henry B. Scott lived at Reybold Station.
Scafidi: Was your grandfather the "Peach Baron?" Is that what they called him?
Scafidi: The "Peach Baron?"
Reybold: The "Peach King of the World." That's what he was called. In those two volumes that's what he was called. Not of the country, but the "Peach King of the World." I was born on a peach farm myself, with 90 acres in peaches.
Pizor: Where was this?
Pizor: Where were you born?
Reybold: Down there near Reybold Station.
Pizor: Whereabouts is Reybold Station?
Reybold: Why, it's between New Castle and Delaware City.
Scafidi: Was that a station where trains would stop to pick up...?
Reybold: Well, I'll tell you. They had a branch road running over to Newark and getting on the main line and running on to Washington, see, back in my boyhood days.
Scafidi: Which railroad would this be?
Scafidi: Which railroad?
Reybold: The Pennsylvania Railroad. They had this branch running into Newark. It would go out to Newark and get on the main line and go on to Washington, see. That's when I was a boy. Old George C. Tybout was my grandfather. Tybout's Corner you know, along the Delaware River? He was my grandfather on my mother's side. And old Stephen Girard was a friend of my grandfather's. My grandfather came down there and bought that land. The, let's see...yes, he bought that land and they appealed to him at that time to take over the contract and build that Chesapeake and Delaware Canal. The contractor had fallen down and said he didn't have the money. So, my great-grandfather, old Major Reybold said he's give them an answer as to whether he'd take over the contract, when he came back from Philadelphia. He went to Philadelphia every Thursday. And he would give them an answer whether he'd take it over. He didn't have the money, but he went up to Stephen Girard and he knew Stephen Girard in Philadelphia so well that he called him Steve. And he said, "Steve, I want ten million dollars." And old Girard turned to him and he said, "Well, Major, just what do you want this money for?" So he explained to him that they had asked him to take over this contract. So he says, "You go back to Delaware and I'll put that to your credit." See? And he did. He came back and Stephen Girard never even took his note for it. That's the reason every time I think about them wanting to take the colored people into that Girard College it kinda makes me a little mad. I think a man knows what he wants and if he makes a will that's what he wants. And they have no business, and I'd tell the Supreme Court that too.
Well, Judge Gray once told me that I was the most independent man in Delaware. I was once offered the United States senatorship and I refused it. I just plainly told them, old Robert H. Richards who was well-known as a Republican leader in Delaware and the attorney for the DuPont Company, called me aside in the Wilmington Trust and wanted me to take the senatorship. He said there was a delegation from both lower Delaware counties wanting us and they knew it wouldn't take any money to elect me. I said, "Well, I thank you very very much and I'll remember it, but I cannot take it. For this reason. You can't keep your friends when you're in politics, all you can do is make ill friends." So I said, "forget it." 'Cause I'd rather keep my friends than have all the money or all the political jobs in the world. Old Robert H. says, "Fred, the trouble with you, you've been too independent all your life." "Yes," I said, "but I've kept my friends."
Scafidi: Did you usually, say when you were running the Every Evening, did you usually go Republican or Democratic or did you go independent in your politics in what you would advocate?
Reybold: I've always been independent in politics. My father was a Republican and my ancestors on both sides were Republican. Old George Tybout, my grandfather, my mother's father: you've heard of George H. Tybout? He was Dr. Tybout's father.
Scafidi: When did you get into the newspaper business in Wilmington?
Reybold: Well, I'll tell you. Judge George Gray got me on the Philadelphia Record way back in the '90's, I think it was '93 or somewhere around that and he was the man that Grover Cleveland, when he was President, wanted to succeed him in the White House. See, at that time Judge Gray was leader of the United States Senate in Washington.
Scafidi: What position did you have when you joined the Record? Were you a cub reporter or an office boy or...?
Reybold: No, I'll tell you. I wrote in those days what they called a short story you run across every day and that appealed to me. But what appealed to me was what my father said said to me one day. For instance, my mother had a housekeeper named Annie Donovan and her sister Lidie Donovan was the nurse for the children - four boys and four girls. And my father bought all the corn and all the wheat and shipped it to Philadelphia from the farmers down there. And one day he came in: we'd left him standing talking to a farmer out there and Annie Donovan came out on the porch and she said, "Dinner is being served. Come on in and sit down and we'll go ahead and eat when your father comes in." So my father came in and he said, "Do you know who that was I was talking to out in the lane there?" We said, "No, who was it?" Well, that was a farmer named Eleven Catts, and he said the oldest son was named Tom Catts and a daughter was Katherine Catts and they called her Kitty Catts and he said the Catts family was well-known everywhere down there. Well, by George, that was in the Philadelphia Record and the New York Times, no the New York Sun, at that time considered one of the best newspapers in this country, it reprinted the story. And Mr. Singerly, that struck him and he liked it, to think the New York Sun would copy a Philadelphia Record story. It was reprinted in the New York Sun, credited to the Philadelphia Record; it wasn't credited to me. But Mr. Singerly came up to Russell, the City Editor, and he said, "Russell, who wrote that story on the Catts family?" He said, "That young fellow that you brought up here from Delaware." So then he said, "You tell him I want to see him." So I went down to see Mr. Singerly in his office downstairs and he said, "You made a hit. You made a hit with that nosegay you wrote on the Catts family." Well," I said, "I'm glad to hear that." Mr. Singerly then sent me down to Washington and he said, "I want you to go down to Washington and interview President Cleveland." Well, I went down and he said to me, Cleveland did, "Now, I'll talk to you, not for publicly, and I don't want you to say that I told you." So I said, "Mr. President, I'll be glad, I'll do whatever you say." And that was the interview that I had with Grover Cleveland.
Scafidi: How long did you stay after your interview with Cleveland with the Record?
Reybold: Ten years.
Scafidi: Did the interview make your reputation with the Record? Did the interview with Cleveland help you along in working your way up in the Record?
Reybold: Oh yes. I think it was a big help. At that time Judge Gray was the leader of the United States Senate and when I asked him, Cleveland, who he would like to see succeed him in the White House, he said, "George Gray of Delaware, leader of the United States Senate."
Scafidi: Was Gray known for his honesty and integrity?
Reybold: Yes sir, he was. He was such a fine-looking man, you know. You've heard of him, I guess?
Reybold: He was a fine-looking man. He told someone that I was as good a newspaperman that he had met. I went to town frequently and at that time I had a Chrysler car, a new Chrysler car, which only the other day I saw that the Chrysler car was a better car than Cadillac; I saw that in the paper. I was surprised at that. But I guess that Chrysler stock is away up. I've been very fortunate in my investments. I used to go in to Laird, Bissell, and Meeds, before I got in the institution out here, every day.
Scafidi: That brings up your relationship with the Wilson Line. What were you in connection with the Wilson Line?
Reybold: I was their Public Relations man, and interviewed nearly every member of the House down in Washington. I'd go down to Washington and at that time I had a pass on the Pennsylvania Railroad for thirty five years and that helped me a whole lot.
Pizor: When were you Public Relations man for the Wilson Line... before you took the Record job? Or after?
Reybold: No, after. Oh, my yes, after.
Scafidi: Did you...let's see, you worked about twenty-five years for Wilson Line, or twenty?
Reybold: Well, I was with them I would say around twenty-five or thirty years.
Scafidi: Did you start with them after you sold the Every Evening?
Scafidi: I say, did you start with the Wilson Line after you sold the evening paper in town? Or did you have any connection with them before or were you in semi-retirement and they came to you? I understand that you owned part of the Every Evening.
Reybold: Yes. The Every Evening. It wasn't then but afterwards that the paper was merged. The reason for the merger was that they wanted me as managing editor of the paper to print a certain story and I wouldn't do it. I handed in my resignation and sold it.
Scafidi: Who was "they” ?
Reybold: Well, I don't want to say for public. I don't think it would be fair. I just tendered my resignation and told them that I wasn't trained as a newspaper man to do that. I tendered my resignation. Then I got into Public Relations business and didn't miss a session of the Delaware legislature for thirty-eight years. Thirty-eight years did I attend the legislature.
Scafidi: Did you go down every day or did you stay down in Dover?
Reybold: I stayed down in Dover. I had headquarters at the old Richardson House before they tore it down. I used to let Governor Bacon have it over the weekends frequently. That old Richardson House was a nice hotel. I had a Suite of rooms there I just kept all the time.
Pizor: Who did you represent when you were down in Dover? Did you have a client that you were working for?
Reybold: Yes, I had a number of them. For instance, Chicago...who was that in Chicago that I represented for so many years? The American Insurance Company, that's who it was. One of the big insurance companies.
Scafidi: What were you supposed to do? Say you were representing the American Insurance Company? What were you supposed to do in conjunction with the Delaware legislature?
Reybold: They wanted certain bills passed or didn't want them passed. I was kind of a lobbyist. They called us lobbyist, but I didn't care about that.
Pizor: You looked out for the interest of these...?
Reybold: Yeah. I was representing those people and I just wanted to be represented that was all there was to it.
Scafidi: Did you ever turn down a job representing somebody because you didn't think that they were doing the right thing? Did you ever quit or...?
- Quitting his work in newspapers; Companies attempting to control news stories about themselves; Connections with the du Pont family; Rumor that he stalled construction on the Delaware Memorial Bridge; Distaste for T. Coleman du Pont and praise for Alfred I. du PontSynopsis: Reybold says that he resigned from his work as a newspaper man because a member of the du Pont family did not want a story about his divorce to be publicized. Reybold felt it should, so he resigned. He says that at that time the Bancroft family owned Wilmington's Every Evening newspaper. Reybold addresses a rumor that he helped stall the construction of the Delaware Memorial Bridge for twenty-five years. He says that his brother was eventually the head engineer. He expresses his personal distaste for T. Coleman du Pont and praises Alfred I. du Pont. He returns to the divorce story that made him quit the newspaper business.Keywords: Bancroft family; Delaware Memorial Bridge; du Pont family; Du Pont, Alfred I. (Alfred Irenee), 1864-1935; Du Pont, T. Coleman (Thomas Coleman), 1863-1930; E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company; Every Evening; Joseph Bancroft and Sons Co.; NewspapersTranscript: Reybold: Yeah, I just quit this job on the paper. I just told him. I said I wasn't trying to run a newspaper. He wanted me to keep something out of the paper because he was a du Pont man and it was a divorce, see, and I said, "No." "Here's my resignation. I wasn't trained to run a newspaper that way."
Scafidi: Well, when you were down there, did things like this ever come up? Local families trying to soft-pedal things?
Reybold: Yeah. Frequently. But I wasn't trained to run a newspaper that way. This was a report on a divorce. One of the big men up in the du Ponts.
Scafidi: Do you think newspapermen in Wilmington would run into more problems like that than let's say a newspaperman in Philadelphia or New York?
Reybold: No, I don't.
Scafidi: It's pretty much anywhere you go?
Reybold: Yeah, you'd run into it anywhere. At that time the New York Sun was considered to have the best editorial page of any newspaper in America. That was around 1915.
Pizor: When the DuPont Company...or when there was an explosion, when the powder yards went up, were you ever asked to not print all the news or perhaps not make it sound quite as bad as it was?
Reybold: No, because at that time I represented Samuel Bancroft. In fact, he was the man that brought me to Wilmington during the year of the Democratic convention, the Republican convention and I went up to a place in Pennsylvania; they had a park, a park up there. And this man came out on a porch and shook hands and says, "Your name Reybold?" I said, "Yes." "Well” he says, "You must be a grandson of George C. Tybout, aren't you?" I says, "I am." So he says, "I want you, when you go back, come to see me." That was Samuel Bancroft. And I did and that's how I got into the newspaper business. At that time the Bancrofts owned the Every Evening, the old Every Evening.
Pizor: What was your big competition when on the newspaper? When you had the Every Evening? Was there another one?
Reybold: The Journal.
Pizor: The Journal?
Reybold: Yeah, the Journal. But for some reason I like the Morning News better than the Philadelphia Inquirer. I do indeed.
Pizor: How large was your staff at the Every Evening?
Reybold: Oh, I would say the newspaper and the reporting and editorial department was about, let's see...well, they had some good newspapermen. I think now, with all of my connections with Philadelphia and New York newspapers, I think Bill Frank is the best newspaperman I ever worked with. You know Bill Frank, don't you? Well, Bill is a wonderful fellow. A wonderful man.
Scafidi: Did you consider the Wilmington paper a match for any paper in a city its size? Say, Richmond or could you say that the Every Evening was an outstanding paper?
Reybold: Yes, I did and would say that. The reason...it had a good staff all the way around. Now, take the society editors - an excellent staff. Starting in, I think, as a young man or a young woman on a newspaper they get more experience in a city the size of Wilmington than they do in Philadelphia or New York.
Scafidi: Were you able usually to keep your people? Or did they go someplace else like Philadelphia? Or did the Journal raid you for reporters or good staff? Did you have a pretty stable staff?
Reybold: Over the years and I had more friends and made more friends; I wouldn't have missed my experience on the Philadelphia Record or the old North American before it went out of existence.
Pizor: Did you ever go down to Hagley or the Brandywine Powder Mills?
Reybold: Yes, oh yes. I was down there and old Sam Bancroft lived right down in there. I was down there one day, and I never forgot this, Bill Metten, who was a smart , on the Every Evening and old Sam Bancroft charged Mr. Metten, I remember this well. He said, "Metten, I think that I should pay for your interest in the paper." "Well, I accept this offer that had been made to us all." "Well," I said, "Gentlemen," (John Byrd was there and he laughed, he married Sam Bancroft's daughter) and he said, " I think we should keep this conference system down in the old Bancroft home," where the mill was. They had a store down there at that time. You wouldn't remember, but I guess if you went down, yeah, I think the store is still there. You could go down there to the Bancroft Company and just buy something; if you wanted some cloth or something like that.
Pizor: Were you ever in the DuPont Powder Yards?
Reybold: Oh yes. Yes, indeed. And I had connections with the du Ponts... Well, now, Mrs. Victor du Pont was a first cousin of mine. She was my Aunt Emily's daughter. And I had on my 95th birthday, it was July 8th, because I was born on July 8, 1874 and I was down to Dover pretty near every day.
Pizor: Did you like the du Ponts?
Reybold: I did. All of them. Of course, marrying in relatives of mine you know. Betty was my first cousin and her father and mother were my favorite uncle and aunt. Yeah, they gave me a big dinner on my birthday this year, July 8th.
Scafidi: There is a rumor around and I hear that you may have been one of the people who started it, that you delayed the construction of the Delaware Memorial Bridge for 25 years. Is that so?
Reybold: Yes, that's so.
Scafidi: Until things were ready and...?
Reybold: Yes, that's so and, if I do say it for myself, I was very proud of my brother. Gerald Eugene Reybold was a brother of mine and when old Senator Henry du Pont was United States Senator I went down to him and asked him if he would appoint my brother in the army. "Well", he said, "Judge Gray wanted me to appoint him but he would have to go out to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas and pass a very rigid examination." Well, he went out there. You see, there was a tremendous big blast because there were appointments from every state and every congressman and every United States senator and my brother Gene passed that test number one.
Scafidi: Was this for the engineers or...?
Reybold: The Corps of Engineers. He was a graduate of Delaware University and they used him and his name more than any other down there.
Scafidi: Would the Corps of Engineers have done the surveying for the bridge across the Delaware or would it have been a private company? In other words, who did the building and did your brother have anything to do with the planning stage?
Reybold: Oh, yes. I think he did have a great deal. And he always agreed with me that General MacArthur was the greatest man in the army. And when he came back from Japan he called me on the phone and said, "Fred, I had a three hour talk with your friend MacArthur." And he said, "You're absolutely right about him being America's greatest man." And he said, "I'll go further than that: I think he is the world's greatest man." Boy, any man passes the examination at West Point is almost perfect. That's really some examination. My brother was a wonderful man. He was independent.
Pizor: Did your brother have anything to do with the bridge?
Reybold: Oh, yes. He built it.
Pizor: Oh, he built it.
Reybold: Yes, he was the engineer.
Pizor: Did he agree that it shouldn't have been built earlier?
Pizor: Did he feel that it shouldn't have been built earlier also?
Reybold: Well, somewhere...I was accused of being the lobbyist to defeat the...I did, you know, for years.
Scafidi: Did you run into any trouble with people like Coleman du Pont who liked to build roads? Was he a bridge advocate?
Reybold: Well, I'll tell you. I'm going to be very frank with you. And she can tell you too. Coleman du Pont was the biggest liar that I ever met in my life and he tried it with me as a newspaperman. I went up there...he sent for me down at the paper and I went up there and told him this and that and he turned to me and I said to him, "Now listen here, if you don't think that I know better than that, but I do." I says, "I don't go down there in the lobby of the hotel and talk about you, and Don Morton's around and he comes up and tells you." I says, "I'll tell a man right to his face. I want to tell you right now that I think you're the biggest liar that I ever met in my life and I'll never believe anything that you are going to say." So he says, "You don't mince your words." I says, "I certainly don't and I believe in telling a man just what you think right to his face!" And I did. I should be afraid of him because he was president? Ha, ha. Now there was as much difference between Coleman du Pont and Alfred I. du Pont as there is between night and day. That Alfred du Pont would play it straight with you always. Coleman, you couldn't trust him. You just couldn't trust him. Well, you know you couldn't trust him when he lied to you and then admitting that he did do it and saying that, "the fact that I lied to you once still hankers in your chest." I says, "It does and I came up there to get it off of my chest. You can put that in your pipe and smoke it."
Pizor: Did you ever have much to do with Alfred I. du Pont?
Reybold: Yes, sir. One of the finest men that I have ever met in my life. And Mrs., she was a lovely woman. I'll tell you, had Alfred I. du Pont lived another year I'd have been a millionaire, I'll tell you that right now. He used to have his secretary call me up on the phone and ask me if I didn't need money. He said, "I've told the Franklin National Bank in Philadelphia if you wanted ten million dollars you were to have it and keep me responsible." And he would too. Oh, Alfred was wonderful. He would play straight with you and Coleman wouldn’ t, He was up here at Johnstown, up at Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Are you connected with the DuPont Company?
Pizor: No, but I was born here in Wilmington.
Reybold: Well, I was born here and raised here and fox hunted here. I was a fox hunter. I had three horses they wanted me to send up to the Philadelphia Horse Show and they, they said, would all take prizes. But I didn't do it. I did love horses and dogs. I had one of my horses named Fred. He was named for me. A tall big dark horse with a white spot on his forehead. I'd take him out of his stall and out under the shed and as soon as he got under the shed he'd swing his head here this way, listening for fox hounds. He certainly did like to fox hunt. And he could jump.
Pizor: When Alfred I. was getting divorced from one of his wives, he was fighting with Coleman and Pierre. Was there ever an attempt to keep a lot of this out of the paper?
Reybold: Well, there was an attempt to do it. That's the reason that I told them that I wasn't planning to run the newspaper and keep that story out and that I was resigning. The divorce case. They didn't want it in. Well, I told them and explained to them that if we don't print it, why, they'll think it's strange. That would be the best way to kill a newspaper. I said, "Our newspaper won't be any good."
Scafidi: Would that sort of thing go out on something like the AP wire; say up to Philadelphia and the Philadelphia paper come down here?
Reybold: That's what I told them. "Why," I said, "The Philadelphia Bulletin or Inquirer will print the story and they'll say why didn't the Journal or the Every Evening print it?" I said, "No, siree, you can have my resignation right now. I won't keep it out."
Pizor: Who ran the Journal at this time? When you were with the Every Evening?
Pizor: Who owned the Journal?
Scafidi: Was it the family, or the Company, or a couple of separate du Ponts who owned it?
Reybold: Why, it was owned and controlled by the Du Pont Company.
Scafidi: To them it was another company that they owned?
Scafidi: Like a subsidiary. Were there any other families around that were touchy about news?
Reybold: What was that?
Scafidi: Touchy about the news. About anything about them that got into the paper? Were the Bancrofts bad about that?
Reybold: No. Samuel Bancroft and his son-in-law, John Byrd, were about as fine men as I ever met. I forced the sale of the Every Evening. Metten had promised, Metten was...see, it was the Bancroft Estate, Metten and myself owned it, the Every Evening Company. And they owned, different ones owned the Journal. And the paper Alfred I. once owned was the Morning News. Al Cummins was at that time the editor of it.
- Consolidation of newspapers in Wilmington, Del.; Boats on the Wilson Line; Description of the peach industry; Father throwing peaches into the Delaware River; Leaving the peach industrySynopsis: Reybold talks about consolidation of newspapers in Wilmington, Del. He talks about his home in Landsdowne, Pa. He talks about his memories of the Wilson Lines passenger and freight ships. He says one of them was named after his grandfather, The Major Reybold. He talks about the peach industry, and who worked his family's peach orchards. He tells a story about his father selling peaches in Philadelphia. He says that local peach buyers decided they would only pay him 75 cents for a half bushel of peaces instead of a dollar. In retaliation his father dumped the whole boat load of peaches into the Delaware River, and never did business in Philadelphia again, and sent his peaches to Boston and New York instead. He says that after that his father controlled his own shipping and opened up a cannery in St. Georges, Del. He says that the peach industry fell apart due to disease in the peach trees and that his father left the industry.Keywords: Boston (Mass.); Canning; Consolidation; Delaware River; Diseases; Every Evening; Farming; Laborers; Landsdowne (Pa.); New York (N.Y.); Newspapers; Peaches; Philadelphia (Pa.); St. Georges (Del.); Wilmington (Del.); Wilson Lines; WorkTranscript: Scafidi: Was this a trend in Wilmington? The consolidation of papers? Could you see this coming?
Reybold: Could I what?
Scafidi: I said, could you see this whole consolidation of newspapers in Wilmington coming along?
Reybold: Yes, I could see it.
Scafidi: Wasn't there any money in the business?
Reybold: Yes, there was money in the business. As John Bird said at this meeting when we had the offer for the papers, Metten promised to stand with me and in the meetings he turned to Joe Bancroft and said, "Mr. Bancroft, what do you want to do?" "Well," he said, "I want to do whatever you want to do." Well, he had promised to stand with me in the Board meeting, and we sell, all of us sell out. I just told them that unless they did that I expected: "Metten," I said, "I expect you, unless we all sell, I expect you and Bancroft, John Bird, to buy me out." And John Bird burst out laughing. "Well," he says, "You know where Bird stands." Just that way. "I said, "That's right," and I was then commuting every day to Lansdowne, Pennsylvania, that's that big stone house up there on the corner of Lansdowne Ave. and I forget that other street.
Scafidi: Not on the Baltimore Pike?
Pizor: Who were they selling out to? Who were you going to sell it out to? Who wanted to buy it?
Reybold: What did they want to do?
Pizor: Who wanted to buy you out? Who wanted to buy the Every Evening when you were willing to sell?
Reybold: Why, it was at that time that the du Ponts wanted to get control and I didn't want them to get control of it because they wanted to tell you what to put in it and what to put out: stay out and when along came Mr. B and while I was in New York I had to take over. I was the only one that ever run both news and advertising and I was over in New York on advertising and the story came up about this man up in the DuPont Company that wanted to get a divorce and he didn't want anything in the press about it and while I was in New York they printed the story. And when I came back I asked Bill Metten, I said, "Bill, why didn't you use that story of that divorce" and mentioned the man's name. "Well," he said, "You know they called up and asked to keep it out." "Well," I said, "You wouldn't have kept it out if I'd been here. It would have gone in. And then I'd have printed the story and then tendered my resignation." "Well," he said, "I've been told that I used poor judgment." And I said, "I know you did'.
Pizor: If the du Ponts wanted to buy you out, would you sell to them? When you and Mr. Bancroft and Mr. Metten sat together?
Reybold: No, they were the ones that wanted to sell see, and I said no.
Pizor: Who did buy it? Did anybody buy it at that time?
Reybold: No. Sam Bancroft...I went up...to interview this man myself personally on candidate for vice president, for vice-president of the United States and that's when I asked him to come back to Delaware. He came out on the porch up at the hotel there: he owned the hotel and he also owned that branch road which runs up there and the old John W. Davis that I went up there to interview about being the vice president. Sam Bancroft, he owned the hotel up there too and this railroad. At that time I was right there in the old North American Building in Philadelphia, the building is still there owned by John Wanamaker's. John Wanamaker once wanted to know what cost was to print that first Sunday paper and he must have doubted Van 's word. Van was president of the company but John Wanamaker was sole owner and he sent this letter over and wanted to know if he was correct on the cost of getting out the Sunday paper and brought it in, the letter I did I took it in and laid it on Van's desk and said, "Now read that if you want to and you tell John Wanamaker what he can do and I mean it because I'm not going to the president of the company and I did it.
Pizor: When you were with the Every Evening you lived in Lansdowne?
Reybold: I lived in that big house on the corner of Lansdowne Avenue and Plum Street. That big house. I got that house cheap. I'll tell you: this woman wanted to go out to California to live and she put the house up for sale and I made her an offer, never dreaming she'd take it. By George, I lived in that big house for a good many years: as you went up the steps the stain glass windows just like the old St. George’ s Presbyterian Church down there. Now my great grandfather, old Major Philip Reybold, put those stain glass windows in that Presbyterian Church. That's one church I wanted to attend once before I die. My grandfather put the stain glass windows in the church and I would never have this money that I have. Well, that's what I did and I didn't miss a session of the Delaware legislature for 38 years, but I'd go down and they'd invite me up on the platform there.
Pizor: Your grandfather was Major Philip Reybold? Didn't they name a Wilson Line boat after him?
Reybold: Yes. Major Reybold. I have an oil painting of all those old boats. I got...every one of them but the Republican. I'm now trying to buy the one that hangs up in the DuPont Company. That's all I need. I've got the Major Reybold.
Scafidi: Were steam boats very popular on the Delaware for freight or passenger or a combination.
Reybold: Both. They carried freight for a long while and I've sat up on the old stool next to the pilot of the old Major Reybold and we'd go back and forth. I didn't have anything to do then.
Pizor: What happened to the peach industry? Your grandfather was the "King of the Peach Industry." What happened as you were growing up? Did the peach industry fall apart? You don't hear much of the peach industry now.
Reybold: No. I'll tell you. My father bought all the grain, hay and straw and everything of the farmers and he had...my father had 90 acres in peaches alone.
Scafidi: Was there a disease that destroyed the peaches or did the market just fall?
Reybold: Some kind of a disease came along and destroyed the peach orchard, the peach industry.
Pizor: Who worked your farm? Were they negro laborers?
Reybold: No. Morris Donovan...my father, of course...ride in on horseback every night to St. George's to get his mail and this Morris Donovan farmed for him and we lived in the big home and he lived in the tenant house. This Morris Donovan. Annie Donovan was the housekeeper for my mother and Lydie Donovan was the nurse for the children. That's the way it was.
Scafidi: Did it take many people to keep one of these places going? Or did you just need a lot of labor at picking time?
Scafidi: I say, did it take many farm hands to keep a peach, no 80 or 90 acres of peaches in cultivation or did you just use laborers when it was picking time?
Reybold: Why, just take labor, that is, hire labor as you needed it. That's the way they would do. Now, we had the greatest wheat shucker in history, in the world. An old darkie named George Dixon and he could put a tap on the wheat and it wouldn't grow...carried the water right down beside the shucker. And then old Sophie Dixon she worked for my mother. Old George Dixon's wife. And she was a wonderful old colored woman. I remember as well as yesterday my mother said, "Fred, ride up and tell Sophie I want her tomorrow and Saturday both." This was Wednesday. She used to make some ginger cakes. I remember well she used to always give me a pocket full of ginger cakes.
Scafidi: When you were down there and carrying peaches up, I take it to Philadelphia on the Major Reybold?
Reybold: Right. That's the way they were shipped up.
Scafidi: How did they carry the peaches? Were they in boxes or in baskets?
Scafidi: Just like normal bushel baskets like today?
Reybold: Yeah, a peach basket. Now, my father, my father would go up on the train. He'd go down to Dock Street and sell these peaches. And what they would do is get together and they did get together and said they wouldn't pay him but 75¢ ; they couldn't pay him $1.00 for a peach basket: a peach basket is 1/2 bushel. He'd sell the peaches that way. And they got together the Dock Street merchants and said they wouldn't pay him but 75% instead of the $1.00. So, he called down to the captain of the old Major Reybold and told him to turn around and take the peaches down and they got below League Island to toss every damn peach overboard. And he went down and paid the farmers for the peaches he had bought from them and then shipped the peaches around Boston and New York; didn't let Philadelphia have any.
Scafidi: He started to do his own shipping after that?
Scafidi: Did he ever open up a cannery down there? Or did he just ship whole peaches?
Reybold: No. Opened up a cannery at St. Georges. It was run by one of the Lesser boys. I think they still have it. No, they have the cannery for corn, sweet corn, that's it. At St. Georges.
Pizor: When the peach industry fell apart, when the disease started to get the peaches, what did your father do? Was there another crop that he could turn to?
Reybold: Another what?
Pizor: Crop. Was there something else that he grew to take over for the peaches?
Reybold: No, he didn't particularly take over anything else. Except that the peaches were...
Pizor: When the peaches went bad what did he do? When the peach industry fell apart?
Reybold: Yes. Well, he didn't do anything. Just had to let them go and forget about it.
Scafidi: Did he keep on trying to grow peaches or did he turn to wheat, oats, or soy beans?
Reybold: Yeah, but the peaches was what he liked. Now the peach today that is considered the best peach is the Georgia white peach. And the Georgia white peach sliced with cream and sugar with dairy on it, like whipped cream...good rich cream on peaches is good and many a thing I've had. And I had three of the finest riding horses in the country. I tell you they wanted me to send them up to the Philadelphia Horse Show.
Scafidi: Let's click this off for a few minutes.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.