Interview with Ann Hudson (Mrs. Joseph Hudson), 1968 August 1 [audio](part 2)

Hagley ID:
  • Her father patrolling Upper Yard after an explosion; possible perpetrators of the barn fires; widows of powder workers killed being giving a lump sum pension; funerals
    Keywords: A. I. Du Pont School; barn fires; Columbus Inn (2216 Pennsylvania Ave, Wilmington, Del.); community attitudes; Du Pont, Francis Gurney, 1850-1904; Explosions; Frank du Pont; funerals; ghosts; indoor plumbing; insurance; taproom; wakes; widows
    Transcript: Scafidi: What strikes me is that everybody went back to the powder again.

    Hudson: I remember, I don't remember this, but I remember father talking about it. They had a big explosion with quite a number of men killed and I remember father talking, oh first, when they all got together they, you know, they did a lot of talking. He said that his duties was at night and he had to patrol the Yard after this big explosion. And he was going through the Yard, now he told this to be a fact, but I'm not swearing by it. And he said he was going through the Yard and about 2:00 somebody put their hand on his shoulder, and it was Mr. Frank du Pont. He said, "I just came to see if you were on the job." Father said he knows his hair turned white. He said he was really scared. He said he just came from back of a tree and put his hand on his shoulder as he was walking along with the lantern, you know, and he said, "I just wanted to see if you were on the job."

    Scafidi: Were there supposed to be any ghosts or spirits of powdermen walking around down there in the Powder Yard?

    Hudson: Oh, yeah, father said...but I didn't pay any attention to father because he always used to kid so much.

    Scafidi: Now, about these barns, did they ever find out why they burned down all at once?

    Hudson: Did anyone ever tell you that they found out who did it?

    Scafidi: Well, I've heard that they did and I've heard that they didn't find out.

    Hudson: They never named names.

    Scafidi: But they knew who did it?

    Hudson: Now, this was the story that I remember, and I might be all wrong. Aunt Katie probably could tell you more about it than I. It seems that they had an idea who was doing it, and they brought in a couple of detectives. I guess you've heard that?

    Scafidi: Oh, I've heard...

    Hudson: Yeah, well you know where the Columbus Inn is over here? Well, that was a beer joint or taproom and of course in those days no women went in - it was just men. And, it seems that they brought these two men here and they put them to work in the powder and they would work at different stations, you know what I mean? But they would always end up at night at the Columbus Inn. And the story goes that they got a couple of men drunk and one of the men spilled the beans, but father never did tell us who was involved, but that was the consensus of opinion.

    Scafidi: Was there any reason why they were burning barns?

    Hudson: No, not to my knowledge. Just mischief, I suppose. Oh, no, no, I'm off my bean. No, they said that some of them were laid off and did it for malice. Did you hear that also?

    Scafidi: When I heard that they found somebody doing it, that's why, but...

    Hudson: And then there was a barn that Mr. Frank had and they burned it, too. That was right at Hagley, that is where the Sillimans live today.

    Scafidi: Was there any other kind of mischief that people who were disgruntled with the way things were going, would get into?

    Hudson: I don't know.

    Scafidi: Did you ever hear of a union around there? People trying to organize the workers?

    Hudson: No, I never did. It was never brought home to us if there was. Because if it was father could have brought it home and they talked about it themselves but we were just weren't allowed to listen when those kind of things were talked.

    Scafidi: Now, let's see.

    Hudson: There is just not anything that I can remember that I haven't told you.

    Scafidi: Did you ever, and this is going to sound silly, take a vacation?

    Hudson: From Upper Banks? Are you crazy!

    Scafidi: Did you ever go visit relatives any place?

    Hudson: I was about ready to graduate from A.I. and I had a cousin on 8th Street, the orphans, and I went in there for a couple of days but I got homesick and had to come home. That was the first time I ever saw spigots on the, you know, water line.

    Scafidi: Total indoor plumbing?

    Hudson: Uh, huh.

    Scafidi: What happened to the women whose husbands got blown up? Did they stay or?

    Hudson: Well, the DuPont Company gave them so much money; you knew that?

    Scafidi: A lump sum, or pension?

    Hudson: Yeah, a lump sum. And they mostly stayed in their houses but they were mostly, you know, like Dan Toomey was killed and his boys went to work in the Building. Davey Toomey went to work in the Building, but they found work in their homes for the people. Now, Tom Walker's father was blown up and his mother was a laundress in one of their homes; so they found work for them, but they were given a lump sum of money.

    Scafidi: Was this to handle the funeral or was this to...?

    Hudson: No, this was given to them.

    Scafidi: Who handled the funerals? Do you happen to know?

    Hudson: Well, it was pretty much the same ones all the time. If it was Catholic it would be Charlie [Daugherty?]. If it was a Protestant it would be...

    Scafidi: How did they get up the money to bury some of them? Did people have savings or did the Company lend it to them or did you take up a collection or...?

    Hudson: To pay for a funeral? Oh, no, my dear, they had to have enough insurance to pay for that.

    Scafidi: Oh, there was insurance?

    Hudson: Oh, yes, indeed. Because I know, Oh, I know quite a few people that lived up there that died and I never heard tell of anybody coming to their rescue. Other than if they were killed in the powder and I don't know whether their funeral expenses were paid for, but I do know that they got a lump sum. So, their funeral expenses could have been paid for, but I don't know anything at all about that.

    Scafidi: Were there wakes before, you know, before the burial?

    Hudson: Oh, yes. That was the thing. Yes, indeed. You had to go to that or else.

    Scafidi: Did you ever go to any?

    Hudson: No, I was too young. That belonged to mother and father. That was their job.

    Scafidi: It wasn't just the Irish that went to wakes?

    Hudson: Let me tell you something. Believe it or not, it was the community. A close community. Everybody helped everybody out and if you had troubles in your house, then we had trouble in our house, because it was to the point that everybody's business and affairs were yours, were ours. There was no distinction.
  • Playing and sledding in and around the mills; her father using old mill belts to repair shoes for the neighborhood; having matting on the floors of the Upper Banks house
    Keywords: black powder; carpeting; DuPont Co. stock; dust mills; floor covering; grinding mill; lasts; matting; patents; Red Star; Rolling mills; Sand Hole cemetery; sanding; shoe repair; sledding
    Transcript: Scafidi: Was there any reason for social punishment? You know that everybody would ostracize anyone else, except for messing up the waltz contest?

    Hudson: No, I wouldn't say so. And that was my father that did that. He was mad at me because I put my heel down, but I did it.

    Scafidi: Were you aware that the powder mills were down there, right near you? I mean, was there noise or smoke or smell?

    Hudson: No, it was...we run in, listen, we run in and out of powder mills just like we run in and out our house here.

    Scafidi: You mean you went into a rolling mill?

    Hudson: Absolutely. If my father was working in there and didn't come home for his lunch, and we had to take his lunch down there, we went right down to him.

    Scafidi: When there was a charge running?

    Hudson: Certainly. We went right smack in. The grinding mill was the same thing. And the dust mill was the same. We played in around there. As you come down from Crowninshield's there was another road that led right into the powder mills and the saying goes, I don't know if this is true or not, but there was a house, a brick house there, at the end of it and that was the first du Pont home. Did you hear that?

    Scafidi: I have seen about two homes, each supposedly the first. And I am not sure but that I heard that one was brick and they covered it over with stucco and if this was it...

    Hudson: This brick house that I am referring to was right down at the end of this road and that's where we used to go sledding.

    Scafidi: Would that go right down to the machine shop?

    Hudson: That would go right down to the powder yard. Oh, you're talking about the machine shop, you're talking about the Lower Yard.

    Scafidi: That's right. I forgot.

    Hudson: You're talking about in the connection where Hagley Museum is.

    Scafidi: That's right, because I keep thinking I walk straight across and I do, but the creek takes a long wide curve and then the Lower Yard ends there.

    Hudson: Yeah.

    Scafidi: I get very confused about where I am unless I remember...

    Hudson: And we used to go sledding and go right down into the powder mill.

    Scafidi: What did you sled on?

    Hudson: Oh. Well, you know, our fathers all made sleds for us.

    Scafidi: Wood runners; metal runners?

    Hudson: Metal runners.

    Scafidi: Was it pretty good sledding?

    Hudson: Yes. Sure. From the top of, you know where the Sand Hole is, where the du Pont's burying ground is?

    Scafidi: Yes.

    Hudson: We used to start there and go all the way down to Crowninshield's and turn left and go all the way down to the powder yards.

    Scafidi: Did anybody ever have anything like a two-man sled or a toboggan?

    Hudson: Nope, never heard tell of them. We had big ones. And most all of our fathers made them. I never saw a new sled until I came here. And another thing we did. I don't ever remember, 'til father died, I don't ever remember getting a pair of shoes half-soled. You know the belts from the mills?

    Scafidi: Yes.

    Hudson: Well, when they would get worn thin, they would discard them. So father had two lasts, or three lasts, and as your shoes needed mending he'd go down the cellar and he'd mend your shoes. And that went for everybody up there. I never, in fact when father died, no, after my husband died, I was cleaning the basement out and I found a last. There was three of them.

    Scafidi: You were pretty much a self-sufficient household? Your father could do most anything and if he couldn't somebody else could?

    Hudson: My father did most anything. And I married a man that could do anything.

    Scafidi: I can't do anything.

    Hudson: You can't. Why, we'd be sitting in church on Sunday morning and Joe would lean over to me and say, "You know what we are going to do today, pigeon, I'll tell you when we get out." And we'd get outside and he'd say, "We're going to tear the paper off upstairs today." We come home, got breakfast, put on old clothes and we tore the paper off. "Now, you know what we are going to do next Saturday? We're going to get a sander and we are going to sand our floors. Upstairs." That's what we did. Then the next weekend we papered. We bought our paper down here at the Red Star. That would be in the fall. In the spring he'd say, "Time to do the downstairs." We'd come home from church, take paper off the walls and do the floors, before we had them covered. I'm sorry we ever did. And do the floors. And we had to do it, too; I mean my sisters and I helped out, and the place would be papered the next weekend. He did everything. I never knew what it was like to pay for a thing in any way, shape or form, in regards to the house until he died. And I get so aggravated with my brother-in-law. He can't do a thing. I could just gracefully choke him. If I was our Mary I'd leave him. I wouldn't put up with a man like that.

    Scafidi: I think maybe you'd get used to it. I can fix cars myself, but other things not so well. When you said you spoke of having your floor covered, did you have any rugs or carpets over in your house at the Upper Banks?

    Hudson: When we lived in the Upper Banks we had our floors carpeted. All carpeted. And when we moved here in '13 matting was the style.

    Scafidi: Cocoa matting? Weave?

    Hudson: A floor covering. Yeah. And that was the style, so we had the whole house done in matting. And then we did our floors ourselves and we kept rugs on them. So after Joe died, I could do the floors, but I was afraid of the sander.

    Scafidi: Yes.

    Hudson: So, the next best thing was to cover them.

    Scafidi: It's, it's sometimes...

    Hudson: Logical. Oh, I forgot to tell you, my you know how we got this house? Well, father had three patents with the DuPont Company, black powder. And at that time you got stock, for the amount, for what you got, you got stock. So father had enough stock, oh, he had more than three, but the different stocks that he was given he sold, and we bought this house.

    Scafidi: Were they this way to all their employees who innovated in some way?

    Hudson: Yes, that is to say if they found anything. Yes, and I think until this day they do.
  • Going to dentist in Wilmington; men's smoking habits; local saloons; Upper Banks rarely being visited by outsiders
    Keywords: barber shop; Blakeley's saloon; chew of tobacco; Columbus Inn; Dentists; Dougherty saloon; dry goods; Dugan's saloon; Lawless' Saloon; meat delivery wagons; Mother Hubbard dresses; pulling teeth; Rising Sun; saloons; snuff; soft teeth; Teeth--Care and hygiene; toothache drops; trolley car
    Transcript: Scafidi: How about dental care? Did you ever see a dentist when you were a kid?

    Hudson: Yes. I had very soft teeth and I had to go to the dentist. I went to old Dr. Wright.

    Scafidi: Where was he?

    Hudson: Downtown. The rest of our family had good strong teeth and mother could never understand it, but I went to the dentist about once a year anyhow.

    Scafidi: Did other people have checkups or did they not worry until it hurt?

    Hudson: That's right.

    Scafidi: Until you got a big pain in the jaw?

    Hudson: Yeah, uh huh.

    Scafidi: Let's say, if you got a pain in the jaw at 11:00 at night...

    Hudson: You'd get right in to the dentist and you got it pulled. There was no filling, you got it pulled. And you didn't say why, when or how; you got it pulled.

    Scafidi: What did the men do to kill the pain? Did they have a drink?

    Hudson: No, they used to have what they would call toothache drops and they would use that, but if it got too severe or lasted too long, off to the dentist they would go.

    Scafidi: Nobody up there in your area was a local witchdoctor dentist?

    Hudson: No, but my father would have tried it, I can tell you.

    Scafidi: Do you know of anybody who smoked up there? Any of the men smoke tobacco or?

    Hudson: Everybody.

    Scafidi: Everybody. But when they went down to the mills were they searched for matches?

    Hudson: Ah, that was it. Yes indeed, that was it. There were no matches, nothing in the mill, in the yards.

    Scafidi: Did they take a chew of tobacco with them?

    Hudson: Yes, some men did, but father never did.

    Scafidi: No snuff, nothing like that?

    Hudson: No, but Uncle Sam did. That was Aunt Katie's, father's brother that I was telling you was in the band with him. He snuffed, he had snuff 'til he died.

    Scafidi: Did he just put a little...?

    Hudson: Up his nostrils.

    Scafidi: Oh, up his nose. And some liked to get it inside their cheek a little bit. You mentioned a couple of local saloons; did all the men go to a saloon about once a week?

    Hudson: Do you know where the trolley car on the Rising Sun goes around the loop? Well, that was a saloon there. That was Dougherty [Dugan]'s. You know as you go down the hill to the Experimental, on the left there's a house right next to the railroad track; that was Webster [Blakeley]'s Saloon. Then you come along the creek and you got to another Dougherty saloon. Then we had our church up on Church Street and right at the end of the church, there was a wall then, was Lawless' Saloon.

    Scafidi: Was that Tommy Lawless? And Father Lawless was his brother?

    Hudson: His son.

    Scafidi: Did you ever hear anything about that Lawless Saloon having an iron bar?

    Hudson: I never was in it.

    Scafidi: This just seemed to have been like the Eighth Wonder of the world, and I had never heard of an iron bar before.

    Hudson: Then of course, there was this one over here at Columbus Inn.

    Scafidi: This was a working man's saloon over here?

    Hudson: I never saw; well, of course we weren't allowed to begin with, but I never have seen a woman in any of those saloons.

    Scafidi: Well, in those days, they were saloons; today they're cocktail lounges.

    Hudson: Yeah, but we never, never...

    Scafidi: Was that the place where the men met, if you had a story to tell or somebody you wanted to talk to?

    Hudson: Well, some of the men would go there on a Friday night and maybe have some beer or whiskey, I don't know what they had, but anyhow they wouldn't stay long. They would be home for their dinner, but I never remember father going. Because, well, really, I think it was due to the fact, well, he had this little barber shop you know.

    Scafidi: I want to get to that. I want to get to the whole working men's club in just a minute. Oh yes, were there many peddlers with carts in the area - a man pushing a cart or a horse and wagon?

    Hudson: No, I can't say that. The only thing that I could say that would be a cart would be Johnny Gilson who used to come around about three times a week with meat in a wagon and the women all got their meat supply from him.

    Scafidi: There wasn't a tinkerer or a knife sharpener or a rag man?

    Hudson: My gosh, we had men to do that. The men did all that kind of stuff. Grief, my father had a wheel down the cellar.

    Scafidi: But nobody selling things like whatever peddlers sell? Oh, a pan or a pot or...?

    Hudson: No, but every once in a while there would be a man come along with dry goods. And of course the kids all wore those Mother Hubbard dresses and they would buy that and that's when mother would have Elly Griffith come up twice a year and make the dresses for us. But as I told you before, anything that was worthwhile Mattie Ferraro would make for us.

    Scafidi: So, I take it there weren't too many outsiders coming through. You didn't see much of anybody?

    Hudson: I couldn't, I couldn' fact, in fact it was a novelty if there was a stranger in the community.

    Scafidi: Was there a hotel or anything or did any of the saloons have rooms over top?

    Hudson: Could have, but I wouldn't know anything about it. But I don't believe so, because the families lived in the upper part.
  • Her father tricking her mother after buying the children the wrong shoes; her father's nailing chemists' shoes to the floor at the Experimental Station; going on Alfred I. du Pont's powdermen's excursions; Alfred I. du Pont's Christmas baskets
    Keywords: cellophane; chemists; Christmas baskets; deviled crab; Du Pont, Alfred I. (Alfred Iré né e), 1864-1935; DuPont Experimental Station; hearing aid; hearing horn; ice cream with strawberries; Kennard's department store; oyster dinners; powdermen's excursions; Practical jokes; Pyle and Cronin shoes; root beer; shoes; spot dancing; trolley cars
    Transcript: Scafidi: What would you have in town to drink? If you wanted a treat? Let's say along with your dish of ice cream.

    Hudson: Well, you would have a glass of water.

    Scafidi: No such thing as coca cola or orangeade or...?

    Hudson: We used to make our own root beer at home. But, when you went with father, you just didn't go for those kind of things. I'll tell you what my father did one time. Down at, God rest my mother, and she never knew it 'til the day she died, as you went down to the train, at Second and Market I think it was, or Front and Market, there was a store. Now, I have seen these things up in South Philadelphia; they have shoes on trays on the outside of stores. Well, that's what they used to have here as you went down to the train. So, well mother always insisted that we got good shoes, we always did have. And we bought our shoes from Pyle and Cronin, which is now Kennard's. It was Pyle and Cronin, then it was Pyle and Kennard, and now it's Kennard's. So we always bought our shoes at Pyle and Cronin, and mother gave father the money to get the shoes. So father forgets the shoes. So on the way back to the train there was these stands of shoes. So he bought our Jimmie and me each a pair of shoes; nineteen cents. So, he told us 'til - for the longest time he told - and then mother, see the neighbors used to visit one another, you know what I mean? Like mother would go to the pump and then Mrs. Dan Dougherty would go to the pump and Mrs. Callahan and Mrs. Ward and all of them, but then on top of that they used to visit one another in their homes. Now it wouldn't be any coffee break or anything like that because they didn't serve anything, they just talked. So mother was at Dan Dougherty's when we came home, so he hurriedly took the thing you know that you have on the inside of your shoe out of an old pair of shoes and put them in these two pair of shoes. You know, mother never knew the difference, and that's the truth.

    Scafidi: How much would the shoes have cost ordinarily?

    Hudson: About two or three dollars; maybe three and a half. But, oh, that was one thing she always did. She always kept after our teeth, kept after our feet. And when I started to have trouble with my eyes when I was only around six or seven, she didn't do any fooling. I went right to the doctor right away. No fooling with her whatsoever. She never knew about that, but whether that's the truth or not I can't tell you, but he told it all the time.

    Scafidi: It's not a bad story, anyway.

    Hudson: And as Mary Hackendorn said yesterday, Mary Newell, she said, "Uncle used to tell the damndest yarns, and I don't know how he ever made them up."

    Scafidi: It may have been true.

    Hudson: You know, he was working down at the Experimental and there was a young chemist came to work by the name of Jackson, Dr. Jackson, and I can't think of the other one; there was two of them. They were busy one afternoon; now he told this to be the truth and they backed him up, he nailed their shoes to the floor and when they went to get into them they couldn't move. Now they backed him up on that. I didn't believe it when they first told it, but once a year we had...when we were up the Banks...there was a lot of the powder men that we used to have oyster dinners for them or we'd have chicken, because we had a lot of chicken and we'd have chicken dinners. Then when we moved here and father got in chemistry, then we would have the chemists here and they had a high old time, but you were allowed just downstairs long enough to meet them and then you were sent upstairs.

    Scafidi: Did your father ever go on any of the powdermen's excursions that Alfred 1...?

    Hudson: All of them. So did I.

    Scafidi: Oh, you did? Because until about a week or so ago we never knew that there were any women or children on those things because all we have are pictures of men with mustaches looking off the Wilson Liner.

    Hudson: Gee, I have some pictures.

    Scafidi: You do?

    Hudson: Yes, I do. Of us going on the boat. Mr. Alfred took us all on the boat and we had anything you'd wanted. But for our meal we'd have crabs. I guess somebody told you that.

    Scafidi: No. Go on.

    Hudson: And we had, of course, dinner, but crabs, deviled crab was our main thing, and then for dessert we were served ice cream with strawberries.

    Scafidi: Fresh strawberries?

    Hudson: Yes, indeed. And you know a lot of the people wouldn't eat them because they said after eating the crabs they would give you poison.

    Scafidi: Did you?

    Hudson: Yeah, we did. But you know until very recently I was afraid of them. Because it was always drummed into you. But they had dances on the boat. We would go up the river and then turn around and come down the river and come back, and then we had trolley cars that met us and took us to our destination. Oh yes, there was always women.

    Scafidi: Did Alfred I. get on the boat or did he sail a little ways in a yacht and then get on?

    Hudson: He stayed right there.

    Scafidi: There were always women?

    Hudson: I've been on them, as far as I can remember, all the time.

    Scafidi: Now, you were a powderman's daughter. Did you have any special job to do?

    Hudson: Nope, all you'd do was sit and enjoy it. There was caterers there...uh, Jones I believe. They used to have a hotel or a restaurant on Market Street and I think they did, and maybe one year Hanna's would do it, and another year, you know. But, I know we had dancing and we had spot dancing and they had for the best waltz.

    Scafidi: Did you ever win it?

    Hudson: And he, Mr. du Pont was into all of it.

    Scafidi: Was he looked upon as being a "good guy" by most of the men?

    Hudson: To us, he was, yes. And then every Christmas, from him, we got a big basket of fruit. In fact, I still have one of the baskets. I'll show you. I just took it out of the pantry this past week. [tape is paused]

    Scafidi: Those who talk about him speak as though he was an uncle rather than a boss. He's A.I., or Al, or Alfred. Did the kids ever get any special treats? If you saw him on the street would he say hello?

    Hudson: We got a box of candy every Christmas. A big box of candy. But this would be piled high and all be in cellophane. And any kind of fruit you could think of. And at Christmas time that was a rare thing. Well, he would come and he would have his chauffeur and the chauffeur

    would come in and Mr. du Pont would come in too and he had a hearing aid. Like a little horn.

    Scafidi: I understand he was constantly getting deafer.

    Hudson: Yeah, and you would talk into that. He wouldn't stay very long, but he came and made the rounds.

    Scafidi: Was his the first car you ever saw? The first automobile?

    Hudson: To my was Mr. Frank du Pont's. Because that was where we were from up in that neck of the woods.

    Scafidi: 0h, Alfred was down...

    Hudson: Mr. Frank du Pont's was the first one that I ever seen.
  • Visiting the Workman's Clubhouse at Eleutherian Mills and watching the dancing there; taking a bath once a week
    Keywords: balcony; barber shop; dancing; Eleutherian Mills; inventions; soap; tuxedos; washtubs; Workmen's Club
    Transcript: Scafidi: Did you ever hear tell of any of the inventions around the Yards? I think Alfred was supposed to have invented a gasoline-powered locomotive for the little railway that went up and down the Yard.

    Hudson: Who did this?

    Scafidi: Alfred I.

    Hudson: Could be, because we was always into something like that.

    Scafidi: Now, you told me when I came in about the Workmen's Club. The house that Mrs. Crowninshield later lived in. Would you tell me about that, let's say from the moment you walked in the door.

    Hudson: Well, let me put it this way. We were in and out of there all the time. You could go in and out all the time.

    Scafidi: It wasn't open, let's say, from late in the afternoon until early in the evening?

    Hudson: That door was open all the time. And when they were finished at night Mrs. and Mr. Ferraro went through the place and closed it. It was open to all of us. And, as you went in the front door to the right was a carving and to the left was a poolroom, and then there was carvings all over. And then as I told you, when you'd go in and go toward the staircase, then you'd turn left and you went into Tim Hoopes' candy you went down the steps you went down to father's place, see.

    Scafidi: Your father was a barber in his spare time? Was he the only barber around?

    Hudson: No. There was one down the creek. Mr. Connelly, Johnny Connelly. He was the barber down there, but father used to do it up the banks. And we kids got a cut from him, too. You know, we had the saucer on your heads, out around. And you'd better not say anything about it.

    Scafidi: So you walked past your father's barber shop?

    Hudson: To go down to the ballroom.

    Scafidi: To go down to the ballroom. Where did the band play?

    Hudson: See, as I told you they had a balcony, and we had a balcony for the musicians that would face the floor, and along there was where we kids would be allowed to watch them for awhile. We could go and sit there for awhile.

    Scafidi: Was this a special event to be able to go and watch them?

    Hudson: Yes. They didn't have too many. What they had was nice. And they always had a big one at Christmas time. And then a couple of times a year the women would get all dressed up, you know, and they looked beautiful too, I thought. And believe it or not, the men wore tuxes in those days.

    Scafidi: They did? Where did they get them?

    Hudson: I don't know.

    Scafidi: Were there any other activities at the club? Did they have, oh, physical culture?

    Hudson: Nope. They'd go up there and sit and play cards and go down to the barber shop and sit and talk, but really, terrific to say it, but I don't think there was a light in the place after nine o'clock anyplace. Well, what was there to do? They would go up there and sit and talk for awhile and when we were kids, you had your lessons to take care of and when you got your lessons done you got your face and hands washed and went to bed.

    Scafidi: Where did you take a bath?

    Hudson: [laughs] Well, you would ask that!

    Scafidi: Why not!

    Hudson: The most embarrassing question!

    Scafidi: Well, I asked you what you wore in swimming, so...

    Hudson: We had big washtubs and that was filled and you took a bath and then you had to drain the water out; pour it down the trough and then you filled it up for the next fellow. I got that once a week, once a week. Other than that you got your hands and face washed.

    Scafidi: And you were inspected?

    Hudson: Oh yes. And your feet washed, you got that done, but once a week you got a bath. And if you went swimming you didn't need one; you took your soap with you and your towel.

    Scafidi: Where did you get soap? Did you get it at the store or did your mother make it?

    Hudson: You got it at the store.
  • Education and working for the DuPont Co. in downtown Wilmington; her mother's accident; more memories of powder mill explosions
    Keywords: A.I. Du Pont School; business school; chain reaction; Christ Church; explosions; invalids; secretarial pool; St. Joseph's-on-the-Brandywine School; Thompson's Private School
    Transcript: Scafidi: So, you stayed until about 1913.

    Hudson: On the Upper Banks.

    Scafidi: On the Upper Banks. You went to A.I.

    Hudson: And St. Joseph's-on-the-Brandywine.

    Scafidi: Yes. You went to St. Joe's until 8th grade and then to A.I. Did you take any special course there?

    Hudson: At A. I. it was only high school.

    Scafidi: Just high school.

    Hudson: Then I went to business school after I finished there.

    Scafidi: And where did you...?

    Hudson: I went to Thompson's, yes, Thompson's Private School. See, my mother was an invalid and she couldn't be left alone. She opened the door, the cellar door when Uncle came over to get some wood. And mother used to take [breathing spells?], and she'd opened the door for Uncle and fell right down. I was up at Christ Church at the time at a Festival and when I came home old Doctor Wales had been here and said, "Keep her on her bed, she'll be dead in the morning." But she didn't, she lived a long time after that. And she couldn't be left alone; so I went to school three days a week. And then I wanted some clothes like the rest of the girls, so I went to the DuPont Company. I went to Market, and oh, it was a day something like this, and they called me up to come to work. And mother was visiting Mrs. Dan Dougherty and they lived on Church Street, right up from St. Joseph's Church, and I called her up and told her I was going to work. She said, "If you go to work you can't come in this house any more. I need you home." But I went...

    Scafidi: And you came home?

    Hudson: And I came home. Father gave me a talking to...[inaudible while train passes by]...then I wound up in the secretarial pool.

    Scafidi: And was this all downtown? In the new building or before the new building was built?

    Hudson: In the new building. Not the present building, the older building. See, DuPont had an know where Mrs. Paul du Pont lives?

    Scafidi: I think so.

    Hudson: Well, that was their office and then they transferred everybody from there in town, and they built this other building.

    Scafidi: While you were downtown working, do you ever remember hearing or feeling explosions down on the Brandywine or over on Repauno?

    Hudson: Let me put it this way. I was down on King Street one afternoon and I heard the explosion and I knew somebody was killed. There were quite a few killed that day. Uh, uh, they were putting powder in kegs and it seems somebody lit a cigarette. That's what they claimed. And, but you could see, because you see, the smoke went up and stayed up; it just seemed to stay in the air, and then all of a sudden...

    Scafidi: Did you ever notice any of your friends, or did you have a special feeling about explosions? You could almost tell when they were going to come? Or as soon as one came you knew right away?

    Hudson: Well, when there was one there was usually two. There was hardly ever one that there wasn't two, because you see they were connected with one another. If there was one, there was always two. And if there was one, and then there was two, there was always two men in it.

    Scafidi: Was it ever that the second explosion might be delayed and a bunch of people come running up?

    Hudson: Just simultaneously they went, just one right after the other.

    Scafidi: Did you ever hear of a time when a whole line of mills went up?

    Hudson: No, that was before I was born, but I remember that the time of the big explosion that I was telling you about; father walking in the Yard. Well, that was the time of the big explosion. That was caused by...they had horse-drawn cars and they said it was a spark from the metal caused the explosion and it caused more than one, was one, two, three. I also remember mother saying that there was a family visiting her, and you know the houses had wide window sills, and this boy by the name of George Daugherty - I didn't know him - was blown right off the window sill and right out.

    Scafidi: Was he all right afterward?

    Hudson: Yeah. He was only, I think they said, around two or three years old. That's all I know.

    Scafidi: Were the explosions...did you most always have to replace the glass on the side of the house that the explosions...?

    Hudson: And the doors. But, you know, wasn't it funny, we all went right to it instead of going from it. Went right to it.

    Scafidi: It might be because you were worried about the people who were in the mill.

    Hudson: Mother used to say it was because you never knew who belonged to you that was in it.

    Scafidi: I've just about run out of things to ask. Can you think of anything more to say?

    Hudson: No, and I may be wrong. Because a lot of the things that I'm telling you, some of the things, well, some of the things I have seen, but that big explosion I was telling you about, that was father's, who was telling it.

    Scafidi: Well, we are just as interested in the way things are passed on from person to person as in anything else, because that is the clue to the way the whole community worked.

    Hudson: If I had thought that you would have been interested in a picture of the boat ride, I would have hunted that one up.