Interview with Theodore "Ted" Pennock, 1968 August 23 [audio]
- Early life; Becoming an apprentice in a machine shop; Machines in a garment factory; Ethnic makeup of the workforce; powering the factoriesKeywords: Apprenticeships; Clothes; Garment industry; German Americans; Immigration; Journeymen; Machines; Machinists; Molders; Polish Americans; Trades; Trump Bros. Machine ShopTranscript: Scafidi: If I can start off, how did you come to be in this area?
Pennock: Well, I was born October 28, 1892 and raised here. I was born on Chestnut Street, right over a big flywheel on Chestnut Street steam engine. That's the truth. That is before the B. F. Blumenthal Leather plant manufacturing people, before any other ones come in there. There used to be a house there. And, well we moved down on Bird Street, 139 Bird, and that was the old farmhouse, and my father, right where Dravo's and a gas company is now he raised corn there. He worked you know. He was raising corn and everything.Penn: Did he raise corn to supplement his wages? What kind of a profession did he work at, Mr. Pennock?
Pennock: Where did my father work? My father worked at Pusey and Jones as a molder. He worked until he was 81 years old, he lifted a heavy mold and he ruptured himself. And then he lived one year after that. He died at 82.
Scafidi: Was a molder a pretty good trade?
Pennock: Oh yes, that was a good trade. He didn't make much money. He made $7 a week at that time. That's way back, of course. There were 10 boys and 3 girls, mother and father, made 15 so somebody had to go to work so I just went through grammar school and left and went to work to help my father. I went on down to Trump Bros. Machine Shop and I started serving my time there as a machinist's apprentice.
Scafidi: As an apprentice?
Pennock: As an apprentice. Now I got - oh, go ahead.
Scafidi: I was going to ask you, how did you become an apprentice in those days? Was there somebody special that you had to see or any papers that you had to file?
Pennock: No. I went down and applied for apprenticeship, and, well, I think it was seven of us got in. The first two years I got $2 a week and the second two years I got a half a dollar raise. Well, that was four years. There were two Manuel Bros. They lived here on Jackson Street. They were toolmakers there and they were great. So I put eight months in with them two brothers learning the toolmaking trade. Of course I know how to forge and dress and like that. And of course I served my time, or apprenticeship, and I did good work there and I turned out to be a pretty good mechanic.
Scafidi: How old were you when you finished your apprenticeship?
Pennock: Well, I went there at 12, and 12 and 5 years will be 17 years old.
Scafidi: Do you happen to remember the exact year, the date that you finished?
Pennock: Well, let's see, 1904, and that would be 1909, and of course the exact date I can't get.
Scafidi: I would like to know whether things had changed: how to become an apprentice was any different: sometimes it changes within two years.
Pennock: Oh yeah, well, of course when I went there I had to learn blacksmithing, mechanical drawing, I had to go from one department to another, lathe, milling machine, drill press, slotting (cuts slots) machine, cam grinders, I had to go through all that.
Penn: Did you go through any kind of school or did you just, did the journeyman just teach you?
Pennock: I learned it all right down at Trump Brothers Machine Company from all journeymen in different departments.
Penn: Working with the journeymen?
Pennock: Yep. And then the two Trump brothers died. And there was a man called Sterling Thomas. He was the superintendent at Pusey & Jones', and he wasn't allowed to put a foot in that Trump Bros. factory, and of course, I don't know, I guess the brother-in-law, his brothers-in-law, didn't get along or something. But then the two Trump brothers died and when they did, well, there was a sister of the Trump brothers, Sterling Thomas married the sister. Well, then that went to them but he did a good job at it, so he ran that ten hours a day, thirteen hours a night and they had some great machinery, that is a stocking machine; it knitted seven stockings, no five, I'm lying, five stockings to any machine in the world because when they had, they had them on the show you know, like in Philadelphia. And, of course, there was a French machine, an English machine, and our machine, and they just came out like a sausage. Sterling Thomas he died, then it was two sons, Larry and I don't know what the other one's first name was. Well, anyhow, when Sterling Thomas died the people in Boston, Massachusetts, what was the stocking factory there named: I can't get the name right now, but anyhow when they went on out, these people from Boston came down and they invested $75,000 that I knew of in the factory. So...
Penn: You were making stockings then?
Pennock: Well, we made stocking machines. We made the ribber that made undershirts, baby shirts and Atlas Jack made bathing suits for women and all like that and knitted snakes and butterflies, on the clothes.
Ellsworth: Did you make the machines or did you just service the machines, take care of them?
Pennock: No, I built different parts for these machines. That was my job as a machinist.
Scafidi: The company you worked for actually made the machines then sold them to somebody else who had hosiery mills.
Pennock: They were selling a lot of them to plants and then they had an Olsen Fur Machine they were selling just like popcorn up in New York and Philadelphia. They were selling for $125 apiece. They were only about 10" square, they only stood that high. Then they had two gears in there with teeth in them, fine teeth: well you take a hat and you put it in there and that went around there in about 7 seconds, 5 seconds. And then it also made, it sewed fur coats, fur hats, fur capes and all like that. Then we had a buttonhole machine. Made holes and sewed it right around. And then they had a looper. My wife, she worked at this. A lot of women in the stocking factory, the looper machine made this in your stocking, this part here.
Scafidi: Right across the top.
Pennock: And that looper she got to loop them on the needle and that does the stocking in.
Scafidi: Was your machinery pretty highly regarded by the trade.
Pennock: Oh my gosh, yeah. We sold: and then we even ~ me and another Swede, Otto Olsen his name was: he was a foreman like: assistant foreman -we built a disposal machine between Richardson Park and Elsmere. In that run they got there that disposed dirt, you know what I mean, like purify; and then for Electric Rubber & Hose we built three machines: I worked on them and they were about 12' in diameter: round, and of course your cords were all there, and your rubber, you know, they knitted all around and made hose.
Scafidi: Did you make many - you said you made three - did you make many specialty one-of-a-kind jobs? Or did you just have a line that you concentrated on?
Pennock: Oh yes. All we done very few outside contracts with some because we had all: all we could do to build these four or five or six different machines and sell them, send them out. France was buying an awful lot of them. They sent them clean over into Europe.
Scafidi: You mentioned a Swedish man, and you are German, did any particular nationality concentrate in the tool and machine industry?
Pennock: Nope. We had Germans there. What was his name now, a heavy-set fellow, he lived out here on Lancaster Avenue. He's dead now and then we had another guy called Reinhart. There was a lot of Germans in there.
Scafidi: How about Poles? Polish people.
Pennock: Oh yeah, they had some Polish people there working on lathes. Screw machines and like that. There were 10 or 12 of them at least.
Scafidi: Most of the people that worked with you, were they newly arrived immigrants or the sons of immigrants, or had their families been here quite a while?
Pennock: Their families had been here quite a while. I had an uncle, my mother's brother, he worked at Hagley Machine Shop for Jack McQuade. He worked down there and he left and went to Hagley.
Scafidi: What kind of power were running your machines down there?
Pennock: Why, we had a lot of machines motorized.
Scafidi: Electric motors?
Pennock: Yes. It was a machine shop (Trump Bros.) down here with an L shape so they had what they call a mule drive. Well, of course a mule drive, when you're driving this way with the shaft, there is a pulley here and a pulley there, so it'll drive a shaft up that way even if it is on a....That's what they call a mule drive, so that's what kind of a unit they had - mule drive.
- Accidents; Working at HagleyKeywords: Accidents; Hagley Machine Shop; Hagley Yard; MeasurementsTranscript: Scafidi: Did you have many accidents with the machinery? Or did many people lose fingers or things like that?
Pennock: Well, we had one youngster, he was reaching around on a milling machine on a saw, cutter, and he happened to get nicked across the wrist with it. But outside of that I can't remember any accidents. Hit your finger with a hammer or something like that.
Ellsworth: How long did you work for this company?
Pennock: Oh, I worked there for about thirteen or fourteen years, and I thought I better get out.
Penn: The first five years was under the Trump Bros.?
Penn: Then you switched to Mr. Thomas?
Pennock: Yes, Sterling Thomas, and then I left there and I went to Hagley.
Penn: Why did you go there?
Pennock: I wanted to better myself and make more money.
Scafidi: There was better wages out there?
Pennock: Yes, better wages.
Ellsworth: What year did you go out to Hagley, do you remember?
Pennock: I can't think.
Scafidi: Was it pretty well known that there were better wages out there?
Pennock: Yeah, there were better wages out there and the foreman were pretty good, I don't know. If you people remember back - Jack McQuade, he was one darn good mechanic. And I worked for him and I worked in the tool room.
Scafidi: Was it looked upon as being slightly more dangerous working out there among the powder? Or was it just like any other job?
Pennock: I don't know about any powder being around there. It wasn’ t Hagley Powder Mill, it was Hagley Machine Shop. We made the machinery there for over to Jersey, over to Carney’ s Point, or whatever you call it over there.
Ellsworth: Which shop were you in out at Hagley?
Pennock: Well, all I know it was sort of on the right hand side of a road that...
Ellsworth: Was it a big building? Did it have a third story on it?
Pennock: Oh yes. It was a big shop - very big shop.
Ellsworth: How many stories, do you remember?
Pennock: One or two.
Scafidi: Just like a normal mill building.
Pennock: No, it was a machine shop.
Penn: Did it have a gallery around the inside of it with machines around sort of a balcony?
Pennock: No, I wouldn't say for sure. I wouldn't want to lie.
Ellsworth: Was it right near the entrance gates to Hagley?
Pennock: Yes, somewheres around there. And, well, then I'd done a lot of milling for the powder presses. You know, when they press them and then they had big bronze plates - 24" round in diameter, and it was sort of a...it wasn't flat see, it was sort of like a bowl, but the top was flat. Then we drilled them, we drilled 500 or 600 holes or more, 1/8 holes we had to drill, all in there, and that's where your powder, powder I guess it was, came out like macaroni.
Scafidi: How tight were the tolerances you had to work to out there?
Pennock: No. Down here everything was worked right to a thousand part of an inch. Using all micrometers, for a fact I've got two tool boxes there now worth over $750 a piece, micrometers, gauges, thread gauges, dividers, calipers, all kinds, indicators and all like that. There's a lot of money in it.
Scafidi: How about up at Hagley, were you still working at the same tolerances?
Pennock: Oh yes. You worked very close work.Ellsworth: How many men would you have said worked in the Machine Shop? When you went out to Hagley how big a shop was it?
Pennock: Oh, I figure they had a couple of hundred.
Penn: When you went out there were they advertising for machinists or did you just go out there to see what they had?
Pennock: I worked down here, down at Trump Bros. then, as I said, my uncle left there and he went there to go to work. He was a very good lathe man.
Penn: He was working at Trump Bros. with you?
Pennock: Yeah, he worked there for years too. So when he went out there I spoke to him and I told him, I'm married, or going to get married, and I got to make a little more money, see. So he asked Jack McQuade for me. Jack McQuade says you tell him to come on up and I want to talk to him. So I talked to him and he says, well, he says, are you ready to go to work tomorrow morning. I says, yeah, I'm ready to go to work anytime, right now if that goes. Give me time to get my tools. So I went out there to work for them. Now they had that and they had a tool shop and some of the people that lived out towards Hagley they were working down here. And here I'm living down close to here and I'm working way out there. So I said to Jack, "Jack, it's funny, we got men working down there and we ought to be working up here and they ought to be working down there." I said, "It's short transportation." So he says, "I'll see what I can do." So he transferred me to his DuPont Machine Shop on Orange Street.
Ellsworth: Did you work on one type of machine down at Hagley or did you work...?
Pennock: No, I was mostly in that tool crib. Tool room. They had grinding machines. Now, I don't mean just a Sunface grinder wheel that you put your - I mean a machine - grind back and forth, and also they had milling machines in there, had drill presses in there and all like that. Well, when the boss come round and says here's some collars here that got to be split, they give you a drawing and you can look at it and you split 'em. You split 'em in two with a 1/8 saw, cutter. Well, some calls them saws but I call them cutters, and, well, then like I told you, these big bronze plates, they brought them in you had them to drill. Something had to be ground, you put it in the machine, you grind it, use your micrometer, bring it right to a thousandth part of an inch and there it is.
Scafidi: What kind of power was used out there?
Pennock: I think they had steam power at that time. It is pretty far back you know.
Scafidi: Mostly belting running off a shaft?
Pennock: Yeah. They were run from a belt from down at the machine.
Scafidi: And McQuade was your boss out there? Was he foreman of the shop, the entire shop?
Pennock: He was. He was the head of the whole - you might as well call him the supervisor too.
Scafidi: Do you know who he took his orders from?
Pennock: No, that I don't know. All I know I went in there and go to work and checking me own business and tried to give them a good job. And if you do good work and don't spoil the work you've got a job. And if you spoil too many things, they say, "Look, we're losing money on you. We'll have to lay you off."
Ellsworth: Was the work regular? Did you have steady work?
Pennock: I had steady work. The only time since 1904 when I went to work till only, let's see, this is 1968, take five, seven years back, that's the only time I took time off. I never lost a day only when we got them there and they had a union, and then they took vacation, so that's the only time I had time off.
- Leaving Hagley to work for Blatz; Closure of Amalgamated LeatherKeywords: Amalgamated Leather; Blatz; Blumenthal's; Management; Wilmington, Del.; WorkTranscript: Ellsworth: When did you leave Hagley to work for Blatz? Why?
Pennock: This young Bill Blatz, that's Mr. Will's son, Gordon Blatz, that was John Blatz' son, and Will Blatz said, "With young Bill we can't fire you." I run the Machine Shop down there. This gentleman here knows, he met me down there, and of course I worked on the big steam engines and the little ones that you people bought and I done all the repairs round theshop.
Ellsworth: When did you go to work for Amalgamated? Or Blumenthal?
Pennock: Forty years ago. I was a young man and I worked there until last October year back. I retired. They didn't want me to go but I said, "This is it. Time for me to go." Well, I had my two son-in-laws down there. I had my son and I had my grandson down there, so I got to make my son the boss of the Maintenance. In other words my son got to be my boss because I didn't want no more to do with it. I told them there is young blood here and they are good mechanics so use them. Their hands are stronger, and they are stronger. And I said, "I'll just keep on working the way I've been working." So it just seems like it run in the family from me to the son from the son to the son-in-law, and then the other son-in-law. It just worked just like that, and the people got to talking, what is this a family affair around here? I said, "Well, they are producing, they are doing a job."
Ellsworth: How big a shop was it down at Blumenthal?
Pennock: Oh, my gosh, there at one time we were running 1400 people two shifts. In the machine shop I had five men in there.Scafidi: Is that a single shift operation?
Pennock: Well, but we had to work overtime when there was a breakdown, and maybe Saturday and Sunday too. If you figure you've got your engines to repair and get it agoin’ , because that engine starts 5:00 in the morning and a lot of people, like in the color houses where/they color leather and suede and all like that, color the leather, and all your drums; some of them start, two, three, four o'clock in the morning. So that engine had to be run because before we start motorizing, I motorized pretty near every darn machine in there. That’ s the reason we didn't run that engine on Chestnut Street. That was 1000 horsepower and that had a cracked piston in it. We even had it x-rayed with a crack in it 7 or 8 inches. I was always afeared of it. So, but anyhow we sent that connecting rod and the piston to Philadelphia, they x-rayed it, that thing was running until they tore it down but every time I went around the head of that engine I made a kind of quick little move.
Ellsworth: Which Blatz brother was in charge over the Maintenance Dept.?
Pennock: That would be Peter Blatz. That was one of the brothers; and Fred Blatz, another brother, he was the big boss over in the Stock Room, you know where they finish leather and they store it and all like that. And then Mr. Will, he was another great big boss. The other brothers had to take orders from Mr. Will Blatz. That was young Bill's father, and then Don, Don Blatz was Gordon Blatz' father, and he went to California. He just, they just couldn't - I don't know - they couldn't agree with one another somehow. So Gordon Blatz, he pulled all his preferred stock out of there and well, the other stock, he had some of that in there.
Ellsworth: Do you know what the disagreement was about between the brothers? Did the men ever talk about it?
Pennock: Well, I don't know. It seemed like they didn't work together. Of course you didn't get to know as a worker there what's right between them.
Ellsworth: You never heard?
Pennock: No, they kept that to themselves.
Ellsworth: How was Peter Blatz to work for?
Pennock: A wonderful man. He was the superintendent.
Ellsworth: When did you first begin to notice that the business that was Amalgamated began to decline? Right after the Second World War? Or in the 60's, or when?
Pennock: Ah, '65. This is '68, about three or four years ago. But I knowed that things were getting slack.
Ellsworth: When did the Blatz's withdraw? Wasn't it in the mid-50's or the late '50's when they really began to...?
Pennock: Well, Peter Blatz he got out of there. He was out by request. That's what I say. He come and shook hands with me and he says, "Well, Pappy, I'm going to leave you." I said, "No. What for?" I said, "We're going to miss you, we don't want you to get out of here. We want you around this place." He was a great friend of mine; he was my buddy. He wouldn't let nobody talk about me. Even my head boss. "No," he'd say, "you stay away from Pappy." Me and him had little arguments once in a while: he'd come round and say, do this and do that, and I'd say, "we're going to try it." So, he says, "Well, if it don't work, you done it and if it works I done it." So, I says, "That's the whole trouble. I got to take all the blame." So, he: I was shaping out, I was putting thermostats in the plating machine, so you couldn't drill all the way through because it was a steam jacket, so, so you had to know how thick it was, your jacket, because that heat, you know when they: that leather, it would press it out just like it was cloth, you know.
Ellsworth: On the Sheradon Press. You mean on the Sheradon Press?
Pennock: The Sheradon and Planters, both of them. I had a thick steam jacket on a Schaffer and I drove a 3/8 hole in there, and then I'm shaping around and he says, "Come on, give 'er more, give 'er more." And here was the drill press here and the Schaffer over there, and I had no way to bolt it down. So, there was a good weight to it. So, I took a piece of 2x4 and I jammed it up against it because when the shaper come to shape it it wouldn't push it off. He kept on saying, "Ah, come on, give it a little more. Feed it, feed it. She'll take it." I said, "Mr. Pete, you don't know what you're talking about." I says, "O.K." So I turned it down on her, a bigger bite. She flew. Flew out to the drill press. He picked his shoes up and away he went out of the Machine Shop, out the door. So, I done it, he didn't do it.
Scafidi: You said he was ready to leave and he came around to say goodbye to you. Did he tell you why he was leaving?
Pennock: No, he just told me he was leaving tomorrow. He didn't want me to know that there was trouble you know. And then this young Bill, he got to drinking around there and his cousin...(background conversation)
Pennock: Oh, keep quiet. His cousin...(...you're going to be in trouble)
Pennock: No, no, no.
Ellsworth: I know Bill Blatz died from drinking.
Pennock: Yeah, young Bill. He was told to cut it out. He went around there and he told Gordon Blatz, he said, "The guys are drinking around the shop." So, Gordon didn't say much. But then he come round there and young Bill, he was drinking. Young Bill come on down to the Machine Shop and he said, "I'm going to give you a nickel." I said, "Never mind, I'm not asking for no nickel." I said, "I'm alright the way I am." He said, "No. I'm going to give you a nickel." Well, he left me and he went up toward the Electric Shop and young Gordon he seen him and he says, "You're a fine example to come around talking about people drinking in the factory." He said, "You're setting a good example for them." So I don't know they just couldn't agree with one another somehow.
Ellsworth: Did this all come about after Bill, Sr., and John died?
Pennock: Yeah, John was...
Ellsworth: John was President of the firm, was that right?
Pennock: John was the main "cahoots" of the whole place. He had his office on Adams, where they knocked that building down, that office. And ah, he was the main job, the whole thing; he ran...he was the brains. And then his brother, Mr. Will, Will Blatz, he was next to him. And then it was Fred, he lived up around the Convent some place. He died too. I think Mr. Will is still living. And young Bill, see Blatz was superintendent, and he always raised cain with him. And the doctors told him to quit drinking.(Someone else in the room: Mrs. Pennock?: Hey, you better be careful what you say.)
Pennock: I don't care what I say. I'm only telling the truth. He was told to quit.
Ellsworth: One of the important things about that firm is, I think, it was a big firm and then it goes out of business and you want to know why it went out of business. It was one of the largest.
Pennock: I've told you why. The last management. They went to work; they were stockholders and, well, they elected Chung president and Ed Bunn was vice-president. Him and I was the last two got out, with my helper. It was the 25th day of May, '68 this year. Well, they had to get rid of these two; Mr. Johnson, no Jansen. He, ah, now them drums were up on the second floor and they done the work for 75 years or more and the work came out all right and he wanted everything down on one floor. Now, that cost us bags of money to get these things all down and rework the whole maintenance gang, getting them apart and bringing them on down and resetting them, and then they went to work and bought reducing units for drums you know. And I was the one that motorized it, you know, put the motor on that unit. And then we had V sheves and we put V belts on it and it run the drums around. And them things cost around $500 apiece without the shaft and without the motors. There's your motor and all that. That would run you around $1,000. Now, you put 10, 15, 20, 30 of them and lots more...look at that money.
Scafidi: Was there any reason why he wanted all this stuff done?
Pennock: Well, I don't know. He was going to try to make money, but the way I heard it, this boy there when he come there I was the first man that met him and he come in the Machine Shop and he wanted to know where could he locate Gordon Blatz. So, right there in the Machine Shop I says, "Get on this elevator and I'll take you to him." It was up in the upper lab; that's where Gordon had his office. The upper lab. So, I took him on up there and I says, "There's your man right there." So Gordon, he says, "Teddy, how're you making?" I says, "I'm doing all right." So I carried him on up there. So then, I don't know, I don't think they should have had him in there.(other voice in background: You're going to be in trouble.)
Pennock: The boss! Ha! These people here ain't going to put me in no trouble. Well, that's the kind of experience I had to try to make the bread and butter. Yep. If somebody told me, ten, twelve years ago that that place was going to go...
Ellsworth: What kind of condition are the machines in? Were the machines in, in Amalgamated?
Pennock: They were doggone good machines and they made good leather and we were selling leather, we even sold it on the other side and all over and we had shoe factories here, they were buying all their leather and everything. Well, then these two guys wasn't satisfied, he goes to Europe and he buys a machine, a splitting machine for $36,000 and then he bought another machine.
Ellsworth: That was that...?
Pennock: Yeah. $36,000, and then on the auction it was sold for $15,000.I think the book took it in and they stored it over to McCormicks. Then there was four or five other machines. We had a buffing machine, that cost $18,000. We sold that for $2,000. That machine ought never have been bought. That was made for plywood, for sanding plywood, not for leather. The only curtin heaver machine, yeah, that's the best buffing machine there was. You used your belly on the skin and spread it with your hand and it buffed a devil of a nice job. And we had to sell that other big thing that they put all that money in. Oh, they were all good, those other machines were better machinery than they were buying. That's what sunk them.
- Financial problems at Amalgamated Leather; Working at HagleyKeywords: Calfskin; Costs; Full Grain Leather; Hagley Yard; Kidskin; Leather Industry; Suede; Tanning; Top Grain leather; Unions; Wages; WorkTranscript: Penn: Do you think the real financial problem started when the work was lost and all the expenses involved in moving the vats downstairs?
Pennock: Yeah, well sure, because...
Penn: Did the production have to stop?
Pennock: The leather wasn't coming out like it always had been coming out and the people wouldn't buy it.
Ellsworth: Did they try to switch over to calf and cattleskin hides?
Pennock: Yeah. We switched over to calf and over to cowhides, horsehides and...
Ellsworth: How did you do with your calf? Were you ever susceptible at tanning calf?
Pennock: Yeah, yeah. That'd tan 'em. We did a lot of tanning calf and also sheep for Trump's on Liberty Street. We done a lot of work for them. Yeah, we'd split 'em; we sold the grain leather and also the split leather, you see. When you split that in two the top grained leather is uniform, but the flesh part...of course they make shoes out of that too, you know. Split leather. Yeah. But they sort of buff it somehow and make a job out of it.
Ellsworth: Would you say that they were better tanners of kidskin than they were of calf? Did they ever learn to tan their calf as well as they did...?
Pennock: No, no. The old tanners, my father-in-law, my father-in-law was a tanner, her father. And he worked there until about a year or two before he died, right? And he tanned all the leather, suede, and all like that, for years and years. And he knowed how to tan. He never burned 'em. And that leather wouldn’ t burn your feet when they made shoes because some of the leather like they are making lately; you might buy a pair of shoes and the doggone shoes burn your feet like. So, that's the way it went. I'd rather seen them, the old way they were going, and then when these new guys come in there, ha, ha, he says these fellows were going to get rid of all of 'em. I gotta mention his name, I did mention it a couple of times and by God, he was right, he got rid of us all.
Scafidi: Were the machine people at Amalgamated members of the union and did you join the union with the rest of the plant or...?
Pennock: Well, they come and begged me and begged me and said, "We'd like to have you on our side." So I says, "O.K." I says, "I’ ll join you." I was, let's see, 'bout in '64 they come round begging me and begging me. So I told 'em, "Look, I'm a foreman. You people don't want no foreman in the gol-darn union," I says. "Supposing I do a trick like this; I go to your meeting and I know everything you're saying. I carry it back to the firm and I tell them all about you and what you're going to do and what you're gonna say." I says, "What's the good of me getting into the union?" "We want you in anyhow. We believe in you." So I says, "O.K., write me up." So I got in the union.
Ellsworth: But you weren't in the union, though, when they came in 1940?
Pennock: Oh no.
Ellsworth: For about twenty-four years you weren't in the union?
Pennock: Oh yeah, I was a salaried man all the time. In other words I supervised work.
Ellsworth: Do you remember when they tried to organize the plant down here?
Pennock: I know it.
Ellsworth: Do you want to talk about that a little?
Mrs. Pennock: You talk too much!
Pennock: Well, this one guy that tried to organize them first; they didn't do so hot. But then they come back and they tried to organize it again and they finally got the people to come out and, so finally young Bill Blatz, this much I do know, young Bill Blatz, when they did strike that second time, tried to blame the union on that. He said to his father, he says, "Why don't we just up and close the place up and let it stand." And Mr. Will said, "What did you say? You don't know what you are talking about." He said, "These people worked for us for all these years, and now you want me to go to work and put 'em out in the street and put 'em out...lose their jobs?" He said, "These people have got to eat too, like you and me." So, they sort of come to a kind of an agreement and the union got in.
Mrs. Pennock: Ted, I tell you don't tell about people. Not Blatz nor anybody. Just tell your work.
Pennock: Well, young Bill Blatz will never hear about it again.
Ellsworth: No, No, No. This is just for our Library. This isn't for the Public. It goes into our collection.
Scafidi: It doesn't get published or anything like that. Nobody sees it.
Pennock: Well, that's the way my life was hanging on.
Scafidi: Was Bill Blatz pro-or anti-union? Or was it live and let live?
Pennock: Young Bill?
Pennock: Oh, you mean Mr. Will?
Pennock: No, he didn't blame 'em.
Mrs. Pennock: Don't talk about the bosses.
Pennock: He said, "If we can give 'em more money, we'll give it to them." But, see, why he let it come in because mostly all the work was piece work. If you worked you made it, if you didn't work you didn't make it. So, with a few, well, the foremen, they were all salaried men and very few, very few were hourly rate people. It was all piece work. So much a dozen, you know, and so on, and so it made not a doggone bit of difference. If you was a good worker you made money, if you didn't want to work and you was lazy, you didn't make. So, they didn't give a darn about a union or no union. They made out with a union.
Mrs. Pennock: Ted! You've said enough. Don't say no more. I don't want no trouble. You want to be in trouble, boy. You shouldn't talk about people. You talk about yourself. About your job and everything. You told me that you were just going to tell about your work and all.
Pennock: All right, I'll quit.
Scafidi: Well, I don't know whether this goes into work or not work. Did you notice whether people were coming up from the South to work more, or did new people come in? People from outside Wilmington.
Mrs. Pennock: Don't say nothin'.
Pennock: Yeah, there was some come in.
Mrs. Pennock: Ted! You bugger!
Pennock: Yeah, they came...well, that's work. Yeah, there was several people...then during this last war...
Ellsworth: Mrs. Pennock, we are just transcribing this so we can make a written...
Mrs. Pennock: Are you going to put it on so we can listen to it?
Ellsworth: Well, you'll get a whole copy of everything that has been said and you get to edit it then and read it through and make changes, if you want to, and delete the parts you don't want.
Scafidi: You can take out the parts that you think maybe you weren't wise in saying anything about. It'll be back in less than a month; we have a secretary working...
Mrs. Pennock: You've got enough now; don't take no more.
Pennock: We had, somewhere in the second World War, we had started doing darn good. Those Dravo people, you know.
Mrs. Pennock: Ted!
Pennock: Now, wait a minute, Leona, this is work. So, we had a lot of 'em left us. Some of them said, "Pappy, why don't you go down there and get some of that big money?" I says, "Oh, you're goin' down there two, three, four months and then you're gonna come back here and you want your job?" I says, "No. I been working for these people all them years," and I says, "From one year to another I could depend on my wages, year in, year out, until the daggone place went." Then they got laid off down there and come on back and tried to get their job back. "Oh, no, you left them." So, Mr. Peter Blatz says, "No. You didn't want to hold your job, so now you ain't got no job."
Ellsworth: When you first went to work for Amalgamated, were most people Polish workers or...?
Pennock: They were all mixed. There was Italian people, Polish people, French, Germans. All types. All mixed.
Mrs. Pennock: That's enough. That's enough. Look, we'll all end up in trouble. There might be trouble too. You're not going to talk to the people he was telling you about?
Ellsworth: No. We have the Blatz, the Amalgamated Company's papers. They gave us all their records last summer.
Pennock: I know they did.
Ellsworth: Remember when we took them out?
Ellsworth: And Peter Blatz gave us all his papers. Old Pete, the Chemist, and the engineer. And he gave us everything he had. And then young Bill Blatz's widow gave us everything that she had. So, they've given us everything they had.
Mrs. Pennock: You've got enough already.
Ellsworth: Let's talk about DuPont then. About Hagley Yard. Is that O.K.?
Scafidi: That's been out since about 1923?
Pennock: '23, yeah, somewhere around in there.
Scafidi: You weren't there when they took it apart, were you?
Pennock: No, I had left there.
Scafidi: Do you remember how much you made out there? How much you made a week?
Pennock: I think I...Let's see, well, I was making nine, after I served my time, I got nine dollars a week down here and all the rest of those machinists were getting eleven dollars. So, Bill Abbott, old Bill Abbott was my boss, and he used to tell me I was a good mechanic and I gave him a day's work and all that. So, I went to him and I says, "Hey, wait a minute. How is it all these people are getting eleven bucks and I'm only getting nine? Am I a mechanic?" "Yeah," he says, "you're a good mechanic." So, I says, "Well, I want my two bucks."
Mrs. Pennock: You said that once already.
Pennock: No, I didn't.
Mrs. Pennock: No?
Pennock: "If I don't get my two bucks," I says, "by God, Tuesday I'm goin'," I says, "I'll find a job." "Oh," he says, "I'll talk to the Trump boys." So, he went up and talked and he says, "Well, I got your two dollars." Oh, he was a big heavy man. So, he says, "I want good work and I want a good day's work." I said, "To get the raise. I don't want it now. You used to tell me I was a good mechanic and did a day's work and now you coming around and tellin' me what you want! You can forget the raise. Tuesday I'll be gone." So, he come around and started cracking jokes to me and telling me...he says, "You'd better stick around," and all like that. So, I finally says, "All right. I'll stick around." I got my two bucks, I got eleven dollars a week. So, when I went out there to Hagley I couldn't have made much more, because wages weren't that high. And, your livin' was down. Yeah, I remember when we was getting two pound of pork chops for 25¢ . Sugar 4c a pound, hot dogs 4c a pound.
Scafidi: Do you remember when you were working out there how much you would have been paying for rent? A suit of clothes? A pair of shoes?
Mrs. Pennock: That's enough. Don't tell no more.
Pennock: Up at Walters at 2nd and Market, I got a three-piece suit there for six dollars; a pair of shoes for two dollars.
Scafidi: I think maybe we've done enough.
Ellsworth: We'll give you the written copy and you can see, and then if you want to do any more, you can.