Interview with Dennis Buckley, 1975 January 10 [audio]

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  • Introduction and family history; acquaintance with members of du Pont family; first job in mail room at the DuPont Company; sister's career as nurse for children of W. W. Laird, Sr.
    Keywords: Child care; Clerks; E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company. Deepwater Point Works; Laird, W. W. (William Winder), 1878-1927; Nannies; Raskob, John J. (John Jakob), 1879-1950; Sharp, H. Rodney
    Transcript: MSW: Dennis Buckley, 1130 Bancroft Parkway, Wilmington, Delaware, January 10, 1975. Mr. Buckley do you recall where your parents lived before they came to the Wilmington area and when they came?

    DB: My mother was born down at the Upper Banks. That's up where Mrs. Crowninshield lives you know. We were there and used to peel willows for the DuPont Company.

    MSW: What was her name?

    DB: Sally Buckley; Sally McGinley was her maiden name. My father was born up at Barley Mill Lane on Montchanin Road. The old yellow schoolhouse was there and they had quite a family too.

    MSW: Do you know how many children they had?

    DB: Yes, they had four daughters, five daughters and three sons.

    MSW: Do many of them live in this area now?

    DB: No, they're all gone, they're all dead. And my mother had -- two sisters, three brothers. They're all dead. My grandfather, her father, was blown up in the powder, as I told you, as a young man, and my mother was a widow for the rest of her life -- 72 -- and she worked to raise us, never married. She worked for Alfred I. du Pont. Mrs. Alfred I. du Pont was Bessie G. du Pont and lived over on Breck's Lane.

    MSW: Now where were you living at that time?

    DB: We were living at Mount Airy. We called it Mount Airy. That's down back of Mrs. Copeland's estate along a railroad tracks there by a tunnel that Mrs. Copeland had built.

    MSW: Where did you go to school?

    DB: I went to St. Joseph's on the Brandywine. From there I went to Alexis I. du Pont School. That's on Kennett Pike.

    MSW: When you went to St. Joseph's were most of the students from that mill area also?

    DB: Yes, they were all from there -- powdermen's daughters and sons. We all belonged to the DuPont Company at that time, you might say -- all worked for the DuPont Company, all their fathers, and mothers who worked.

    MSW: Do you remember Bessie du Pont herself?

    DB: Yes, I remember Mrs. Danforth who lived out at Centerville, made herself known when I had a tavern out there -- that was Bessie du Pont and Madeline and Victorine, and I knew Alfred very well. That was the son, and Mrs. B. du Pont was a booster for me when I was down at the Diamond Ice and Coal Co. you see. She told her son everything he could do for me to do it -- help me to get business. That's why I had about 90% of the Westover Hills business. Help from him and the likes of him. Very nice fellow.

    MSW: And what about Alfred I.? Did you know him?

    DB: I didn't know him but my mother knew him and he, as I said he took care of us children -- he furnished the potatoes or he furnished the rent, I don't know which. He did one or the other for the year for us and then he used to give us gifts, and so forth, and on the other end P. S. du Pont's family -- they lived up here at the big stone house -- we used to go there at Christmas time and they took care of our rent and our toys at Christmas time and bought us a tree and that was quite a celebration for us, something to look forward to every year. So we got them on both ends.

    MSW: What do you remember of your childhood as far as games, and how would you spend a typical day?

    DB: Well, I was ambitious. I always wanted to work after school. I worked at the barber shop helping the barber most of my time and I wasn't satisfied with that until I got an interview with Mr. Ferdinand Lammot of the DuPont Company in charge of the mail room at the DuPont Building. P. S. du Pont got me an interview with him and they placed me in there. I was always ambitious to work and do things. I would do a lot of gardening work around my own home. We had a big yard around Mt. Airy and I planted everything, moved rocks and planted trees, and so forth. I have one tree there that Mrs. Copeland has that belonged to me. Still there and her..tenant told me it was a beautiful tree, they liked it very much, and he called it my tree.

    MSW: What kind of a tree was it?

    DB: It was a fir tree. It was about, oh it was 15 ft. tall. I got it out in the woods and brought it back in our yard.

    MSW: Now, naturally the mail room of the DuPont Co. would be quite different from today but what is your distinct impression of what was happening at that time?

    DB: Well when you hit the mail room why you would first start off by delivering mail to the different offices and then when it come time that somebody wanted an office boy and you were ready for the job they would put you in these different offices and that's how I got to be in Mr. P. S. du Pont's office, Rodney Sharp's, John Raskob's, Frank McHugh, Ray [Dubell?] , Bill Raskob, and F. D. Brown. I was in that office and then I was transferred then to the comptroller's office. Frank Turner was comptroller then. Quite a man he was. E. W. Proctor was assistant comptroller and Mrs. Rosen was Mr. Turner's sister-in-law I think, and she was -they were all very nice to me.

    MSW: What type of work would you be doing in the office?

    DB: I was doing clerical work and filing and so forth in the office and I was office boy too, you know, at that time. And then I, as I told you before, I carried messages from the post office the time of a big lawsuit with the DuPont Company, from the post office to Mr. Turner's office and back. And then I was getting ready to get married not too long after that and I went to Rodney Sharp, he was a very good friend of mine, and I told him I wanted to go over to the DuPont plant at Deepwater, Carney's Point, so I went over there to the Finishing Department as a clerk. He didn't want me to go. He told me this wasn't going to last forever and I was foolish to make the move but just being married I needed money and I just couldn't wait until it came, you know, and I thought it would be too long coming so I was in a hurry like every kid would be at that time so I took the job and we had our first baby over there.

    MSW: Was your wife a Wilmington -- a local girl too?

    DB: Yes, she was a local girl and I remember we had, when the baby was about ready to be born, we had an appointment over here at the hospital, Delaware Hospital, and it came about five minutes, about a quarter to twelve, I think, and the last boat came over to Wilmington at 12:00. We had the car and I ran out like a desperate crazy man and somebody just coming off vacation and I went down and grabbed him and I told him he had to take me down to the ferry. He said, "I just came back from vacation." I said, "I don't care where you came back from, I've got to get that ferry." So he decided he'd take us and we just made it as the whistle blew getting ready to leave. I never put in such a time in all my life. I like to have died. It worried me to death but we made it and we had our first daughter from over there.

    MSW: How many children did you have, Mr. Buckley?

    DB: We had two boys and a girl.

    MSW: Where are they living now?

    DB: Why I have one boy in Chicago and one boy up at the Devon Apartments up here. My daughter died and left three wonderful grandchildren.

    HSW: Now, getting back with Rodney Sharp, how long did you work for him then?

    DB: That was in P. S. du Pont, Raskob, [Dubell?], Frank McHuch, and Rodney Sharp was in that office. Rodney Sharp has known my people and known my sister. My sister was 56 years with Winder Laird, Sr., you know, and she raised most all those children -- Chick Laird, Rose and Mina, Mollie and Lettie and they all knew her because she went over with their, mixed with their children you know, and their children knew my sister very well.

    MSW: What was your sister's name?

    DB: Helen. Helen Buckley, Woodmansey, and they were good to her and she was good to them. She must have been with them 56 years. She made quite an impression with them. She was a lovely girl and everybody liked her who saw her, Bayard Sharp and the Carpenter boys and all of them, you know, Lammot's crowd, and she was a nurse and she took them around to different places where the kids were all gathered and she had to take care of them, keep them from fighting and killing one another, which they did the same as we did.

    MSW: Did your sister have nurse's training or was she just like a practical nurse?

    DB: No, she was a, Mrs. Laird asked her to come over to give her a lift one time, she was only a young girl, and she went over there for a couple of days and Mrs. Laird didn't want her to go after she was there. My sister wasn't ready for that job; she wasn't ready to go to work, but they insisted on her staying and --

    MSW: How old would you say she was at that time?

    DB: At that time? She was 18 or 20 I guess, and she done a good job. She was liked very much and she had gone over to Mrs. Felix du Pont's and Mrs. Felix du Pont said, "Will you come with me?" "I'll educate you, I'll marry you well; you'll be a rich girl some day." She wouldn't leave Mrs. Laird. That was the story of my sister. She was pretty much in like that with the whole crowd.
  • Time as a clerk at Deepwater Works; working as a salesman for the Diamond Ice and Coal Company and the ice business in Wilmington, Delaware
    Keywords: Coal trade; Diamond Ice and Coal Company; Du Pont, S. Hallock (Samuel Hallock), 1901-1974; Ice industry
    Transcript: MSW: Now, after you continued to work here in this office. How long were you there would you say?

    DB: In whose office?

    MSW: With Mr. Sharp and Mr. du Pont --

    DB: I was only there maybe six months at the most until I was going to be transferred over to the Finishing Department at Carney's Point.

    MSW: What type of work did you do? What were you finishing? What was that?

    DB: Well I was a timekeeper and clerical work and we had an experiment we used to run on smokeless powder over there and it had to cook so long and had to be watched, had to be in there at a certain time, was something that you had to watch, and I forget now, we had figures -- you had to figure out what temperatures supposed to be and so forth, and they had big vats over there, smokeless powder in the vats, you know, 80,000 lbs. or something like that, and we, like dummies, used to jump down into that big vat and didn't realize the danger, you know. I think of that so many times -- your own shoes and the nails and everything else in your shoes, but we got by with it. We saw many of the vats blow up too. Big fires over there. We used to go around and take, there were foremen of these different houses where this powder was treated, and we used to go around and take the time and kinda watch what they were doing, just the general work.

    MSW: Did you especially like math or any particular subject when you were in school?

    DB: I liked math, more than anything else, yes.

    MSW: So you could say in a way whatever you were doing you were like an apprentice. You learned on the job.

    DB: That's right. I learned everything on the outside.

    MSW: And this was an education in itself?

    DB: That's right. I got an education with the Diamond Ice and Coal Co. for about 15 years too.

    MSW: When did you start working for them?

    DB: I worked for them around, oh let's see, that's been 30 or 35 years ago. I put 15 years in with the Diamond Ice and Coal Co. under Wilmer Stradley, who was the president of the company. Mr. W. W. Laird, Sr. was vice president of the Diamond Ice and Coal Co., and he placed me there with the Diamond Ice and Coal Co.

    MSW: Now what type of thing were you doing?

    DB: Selling. I had him to work on and I used his name and used Mr. Stradley's name, I had an uncle who was very prominent here, Dan Buckley, I don't know if you know him or not. I used all three of their names and I got some of the best business in the City of Wilmington. I guess maybe I sold the house that you live in; did you build your house?

    MSW: No.

    DB: No? Who lived in your house before you bought it?

    MSW: The people right down the street from us had built that and moved away and then came back before we were there. Were you selling coal?

    DB: Coal and oil and ice. I sold the biggest amount of ice to one individual -- private home -- Hallock du Pont -- in the City of Wilmington and we didn't want to sell it to him because we didn't think it would generate right. He was going to lay birds and everything he had on top of the ice and it wasn't going to refrigerate right. We told him that and he wanted to fill it anyhow. I just forget now how much, was several thousand pounds of ice.

    MSW: You'd take the ice out in these big trucks?

    DB: We'd fill his ice house, oh I guess it was as square as this room, maybe a little bigger, and we dropped all of this ice down into this ice house of his and they say he just used it for highballs, I don't know.

    MSW: With our automatic refrigerators now, it's so hard to remember how close we are to this day and time when you were having your delivery of your ice and your coal every day.

    DB: That was a big business, the Diamond Ice and Coal Co., they were biggest business. You know it was nothing but water frozen, and they sold it for such big profits.

    MSW: Where did the water come from?

    DB: The city.

    MSW: City water?

    DB: Yes sir, right down here. They had one house down here on the corner, where the gas station was, where the beauty parlor is, The Westover Plant. That was all Diamond Ice down there. Then they had one out over the Brandywine. Still have a place over there.

    MSW: Did you have the little wagons that delivered ice to individual houses? Did you do that sort of thing too?

    DB: I didn't but we had regular drivers who had regular routes around -- had to deliver the ice carried to the thirty-third floor, fourth floor, so forth, and those men worked hard and a lot were chilled with the hard work and damp and wet. The ice houses were cold and you come out in the warm, you know. But that was their big business. Diamond Ice made a lot of money on ice.

    MSW: What about the coal? Where would you get the coal?

    DB: Well we had a coal yard down here at the corner--

    MSW: Near the Westover Shop?

    DB: That's right, it was all Diamond Ice in there, the Westover Shop, that whole square and where the Buick people is. Diamond Ice owned all that. They owned this house at one time, and they moved this house from down there somewhere about 50 years ago. This house is about 50 years old.

    MSW: Do you remember the salary most of these men who worked in that ice house would probably be getting?

    DB: They'd get so much an hour. No, I don't think it was anything too much. In those days they didn't pay very big salaries.

    MSW: They probably worked pretty long hours too.

    DB: Long hours, yes.

    MSW: Now, the coal that was shipped in, where did it come from?

    DB: It came in from...It was Hazleton Coal came in from...Wilkes Barre.

    MSW: Oh, yes.

    DB: And we used to get carload after carload and they had silos that they put the coal in, you know, and the trucks would drive up to the silos and then they'd empty it into the truck and come on down here and they'd weigh it so much in the truck. The truck weighed so much and the coal weighed so much. Then they'd deliver to different states.
  • Playing basketball and other childhood activities at Breck's Mill
    Keywords: Basketball; Breck's Mill; Recreation centers
    Transcript: MSW: Let's get back to your childhood on the Brandywine again. Can you tell us something about the games you would play as a boy?

    DB: Well, we used to play baseball and basketball. At Breck's Mill one time our little team was the "champeen" down there. We won a cup and about 25 years afterwards the cup was located over in Jersey somewhere. My son was selling over there; he sold paint for the DuPont Company and this man told him he said, "Do you know Dennis Buckley?" He said, "I have a father by the name of Dennis Buckley." Oh, he said, "Is this cup any good to you?" He said, "It's been here for so long," and it was all dirty and rusty and everything else. It was the cup that we won and I don't know how it ever got there. He picked it up and brought it back home. I shined it up, and I gave it back to his boy and they have it in Chicago. But we liked basketball; basketball was the greatest sport we had down there. The mill was fixed for basketball. Mr. Laird owned the mill, you know.

    MSW: You played right in Breck's Mill?

    DB: Right in Breck's Mill, second floor up there. And then we used to have parties there. We danced there; we danced quite a lot. That was one of our sports -dancing, basketball --

    MSW: Did you have local bands that would provide the music?

    DB: A lot of times it was the music box and then we'd have maybe a three piece band of some kind, yes. It wouldn't be local though; we didn't have that many musicians around at Henry Clay at that time. But we used to have some wonderful basketball games down there -- biggest teams in the city at that time, [Bronson?], Mount Vernon, different teams that used to come there and play. The place was crowded. Then they fixed it up for a recreation center for us. In other words, we had all kinds of sports. I know the Lairds must have done it. We had the horse, the bars, and the basketball, and all that kind of stuff you know that they'd made for us kids out there --

    MSW: And usually well attended I suppose?

    DB: Oh, yeah. We hadn't any place else to go, you know. If we had to go in town we had to walk. We never had carfare and didn't have cars, that was back in the old days, and we were poor but we didn't realize it; we never knew it, you know. We never knew that we were poor.

    MSW: Well you were rich in many ways.

    DB: Oh, yeah.

    MSW: That kids nowadays don't realize.

    DB: No, they don't appreciate that kind of richness today. We never realized that we were poor.

    MSW: I think that word needs a re-definition. You were rich in spirit and happiness and so many things, and people often think of it just in so many dollars.

    DB: Dollars don't work in there at all.

    MSW: They're a connotation, You weren't even bothered by them.

    DB: No, didn't care about money then. But today we have to have it. We need it, it's a demand.

    MSW: Well it seems to me you've had a variety of experiences from your working over at Carney's Point and the Diamond Ice and Coal.

    DB: Yeah, I learned a lot; that's where my education came from. In through the DuPont Building I knew so many people there. I know, I knew, most all the older du Ponts -- old Alexis I. I don't think you ever knew who he was, do you?

    MSW: No.

    DB: Well I used to have to go to his office to have him to sign a check and he would sign this check and you'd no more know what that signature was but he was vice-president and F.L. Connable, he lived out there where Mrs. Crowninshield, died here not long ago. Every time there was an explosion out there it would blow all his windows out, the plaster off his walls, and some people said it knocked him out of the bed too, the explosions were so bad you know. But they'd turn around, fix the place up again, and move back in.
  • Managing Tally-Ho liquor store in Wilmington for his son-in-law; opening, running, and eventual sale of Buckley's Tavern in Centerville, Pennsylvania
    Keywords: Laird, W. W. (William Winder), 1910-1989; Liquor industry; Small business--Management; Taverns (Inns; Taverns (Inns)--Management
    Transcript: MSW: Well then, after you left Diamond Ice and Coal, what did you do then?

    DB: I went in the liquor business. I went out to Tally Ho, my daughter and son, James Wachter, and my daughter, they bought this Tally Ho on the Concord Pike, Naaman's Road, and I spent 6 years out there. I managed the place for them because he was a poor manager. Nobody liked him. He didn't have much of a personality -- nice fellow though. I took it over, you know. Mr. Laird, he used to keep an eye on me. He dropped in to see me one day and I was down in the cellar tapping a keg of beer and we got to talking friendly and so, I was living there at the time, and my daughter had died -- five years, I was out there five years and then she died -- then he was a young man and had these young children. We were raising them -- my wife was raising them, his family and mine. He decided that he wanted to get married again so he started going around with my first cousin, and he married her. We were out there and she had three boys and he had two girls and a boy, and they wanted to move her gang in and I was just getting ready to store my furniture and have to look for a place later on. Mr. Laird called me one day and said, "Dennis, I got a house on Breck's Lane and I'd like you to look at it, see if you'd like to live in it." I says, "I like it, I'll move there, I don't have to look." I said, "My God, how did you know I needed this place?" He said, "Why?" I said, "I was just about ready to get thrown out of the Tally Ho and I says, "This is the greatest thing that ever happened to me." Well, he says, "Go on down and look at it first." I says, "I will not, I'll move." So we moved down to Breck's Lane.

    MSW: Where on Breck's Lane was this?

    DB: It's up in -- you know where -- I can tell you just about where it was -- it was the middle of the way -- the Jenners lived there, then come Father Daugherty and Mrs. Stager -- she's a wonderful woman, I love her. They lived there and we lived down in the double yellow house down there -- beautiful place, fixed up beautiful -- and we stayed there -- and then I wanted to go in the liquor business by myself. Mr. Laird said, "Well, you get a place and I'll back you." So I heard about Centerville. I knew Antoine out there who had the place in Centerville. He wasn't doing anything with it. It was dirty, looked like a garage; it was a garage at times. So we talked to him and he let me have it, you know. [break in audio] So Mr. Antoine said he knew of my family so long and we were good people, so he wanted somebody good in the place and he let me have it. Mr. Laird backed me and we were out there for about 20 years. Ten years I had it and my son was running it for me for ten years and my wife got sick, started to go blind, and she had softening of the brain and I think she had a stroke. I was up all night watching...at the time they were robbing these liquor stores, one in Greenville, different ones in town, and they're killing the people, and it was just she and I there, we lived upstairs, Mr. Laird had it fixed awfully nice. We had a beautiful place there. I was worried every night and I'd sit up until about 4:00 in the morning watching out the windows and waiting to see what might happen, you know. I don't know what I could have done if anything did happen. And I would have called the cops of course, but I had a case one night where a man drove up and it was after hours and he tried the door and he started to curse because he couldn't get in, you know. I said, "What do you want?" He said, "I want to get in." I said, "We're closed." He said, "Where are you, up in that tree?" I said, "Yes." I was just calling down from my window on the second floor. He said, "That's a helluva place to be this time of night." So he got in his car and went, but I was worried all the time I was out there -- just the two of us you know. We figured they could kill us and taken anything that they wanted, you know.

    MSW: You were running it also as a restaurant at this time?

    DB: Yeah, it was a restaurant and liquor store and the bar. It was a very good stand, but it was a very expensive place to run. We had no water because the water had gasoline mixed in with it from the garage; the tanks leaked and got into the tanks, into the wells, and we dug the wells deeper and dug three or four wells after that and still got oil. So we had to buy the water, but we put a filtering system in there, a cleaner to clean the water, and it just didn't do the job well so we bought water. We had beautiful toilets there for the men and the women, and the rust and the oil and everything disfigured it. You just couldn't keep things just like you'd like to. It was discouraging, a lot of things, you know, and the expense of -- taxes were high and insurance was high, help was high. We didn't make much money. We just paid our bills, and it was a great thing to do, was pay your bills.

    MSW: And worked hard?

    DB: Worked too hard, yes, too hard. The hours and everything else. I was never so glad to get away from a place. It's a beautiful place, understand me. Mr. Laird spent $100,000 on that place when he started, from the start. I know he spent that much money. He didn't get that much money when he sold it, but he come out of it all right, I think, but I had so much stock in it and I guess it would have been mine had I stayed there but it wasn't worth it to me. It wasn't worth $500,000 for me to stay there because I was just, I was drinking too with it, you know, you couldn't get along without having some spirits to keep you going and it would have killed me, I know. I would have been gone a long time ago. 77 years old today, not today, but in April.

    MSW: Is that right?

    DB: And I feel not 77; I feel good. No use in hurrying your life away.
  • Relationships with customers as a salesman for Diamond Ice and Coal Company; friendship with William Winder "Chick" Laird, Jr.
    Keywords: friendship; Laird, W. W. (William Winder), 1910-1989; McDonald, Rosa Laird; social classes; Stradley, Wilmer; Wilmington Trust Company
    Transcript: MSW: No, I should say not. Looking back over the many different types of things that you have done, which of your jobs do you think you really enjoyed the most?

    DB: Diamond, Diamond Ice and Coal Co. I liked Wilmer Stradley. He was our president, and he was another Chick Laird, understanding. I miss Chick Laird. You can't forget people like that, you know.

    MSW: It sounds as if you have liked people all the way through and your relationships with the people.

    DB: Yeah, I like people and people seem to like me because, in selling, I'd go around and get these orders from different people and I'd save them a discount and all that kind of stuff, and they'd get me new business. I was, I don't want to blow my horn, but I was the best salesman outside of the sales manager in the Diamond Ice and Coal Co. and we had about 10 or 12 salesmen. I won every contest we had, and we had contests after contests and the most oil to be sold I would sell it. I had people like the Winterthur Farms, Harry du Pont, and Hallock du Pont, Mrs. B.G. du Pont, all the Kennett Pike, Westover Hills, and I had Wawaset Park -- about 75 or 80% of Wawaset Park -- I had the best section and the best business in town. You remember the Grasellis?

    MSW: Yes.

    DB: Well, I had Mr. Grasselli -- he was out in Westover Hills -- and he turned out to be a nice friend of mine, and he and Lammot du Pont started to play cards together. Lammot du Pont had an interest in Brandywine Oil Company. He called me up one day and told me he wanted to see me; I went to his office. I enjoyed his business. When he came here he called me. I'd write these people wherever they lived, you know, told them we were Diamond Ice and Coal Company, and we would like to serve them, and so forth. And he remembered my name, and he broke my heart one day when he told me that he and Lammot du Pont had been playing cards, and Lammot du Pont was the owner of the Brandywine Oil Company, had a big interest in it, and asked him to buy from him, and he said, "Now, what am I gonna do?" I said, "There's only one thing you can do. You wanna keep these kind of friends."

    Then the president of the Wilmington Trust Company -- what was his name, George Edmonds? He was a good friend of mine, too. He was president of the Wilmington Trust Company, and I'd be after these men for their contracts, you know, and I'll never forget this day he put his arms around me and we walked up the hall together in the trust company and he said, "Sure I'll sign your contract." I said, "Well, that's all I wanted." And those kind of things, you know, make you feel so good that you just like people, and nice people. There's people that are not nice people, but there's a lot of people that are nice, but lots of people are nicer than others. I just love good people. I hold off now for such people. Chick Laird is a friend of mine -- I consider him a friend of mine, more than any friends on my own level. He's more of a friend than anybody. Not because he's charitable. He's charitable, yes, but he's not only that, he likes you for company. He likes to take you out for lunch, and we go out to different places at different times for lunch and chew over the old fat as he used to call it and he's ageless. He's a great man, and he gives me this house. This house is his. It's mine as long as I live, I guess.

    MSW: You mentioned Mr. Laird and also Mr. Stradley. What do you think gave these men of that generation this extra dimension of interest in people?

    DB: Wilmer Stradley didn't have anything to start with, and he was a self-made man in the first place. He knew how to handle men, how to talk to people, and how to run a business, and he knew how to make you feel good when he thought you were down and he'd come out and have something to say to you, you know, and he got close with me. I used to drive his wife around, and he would drive the car in with her, and he would pick me out of the whole crowd, you know, to take her downtown and so forth, and those kind of things you could see that he had some interest in me, you know. Chick Laird, he had plenty of money, and his people were good, his father was good -- He just wanted to be with people in my class, more than he did with people in his own class.

    MSW: And you mentioned your sister who had such a nice relationship with the family.

    DB: Oh, yes. And they never forgot her. And they wrote her -- all the kids did -- all the Laird kids loved my sister, and she loved them too. They both loved one another. (Handwritten note from typed transcriptFull: "They called her 'ADJ', for reasons unknown.")

    MSW: Is she still living?

    DB: No, she died. Rosa Laird, towards the last -- Rosa McDonald, do you know Rosa, do you? She stuck with her to the last minute, Rosa did, and she stayed with her and she cried with her and everything else.

    MSW: It seems that people had a little more time then, do you think?

    DB: Took time, took time.

    MSW: The world seems to be moving so fast now that maybe people don't take as much time.

    DB: That's about it. Mr. Laird, he comes here, and I say "You're busy; we don't have to do this. You got too many things to do." "I got the day off, let's go." We go out to the Longwood Inn, and he treated me to a mushroom dinner out there one day, and the mushrooms came like that and they were stuffed -- they're delicious, you know.

    MSW: Very good.

    DB: And next time I said, "I'll tell you what I'll do, I'll take you out to lunch and we'll get some mushrooms." He never let me take him out to lunch. But he's taken me out a lot of places and a lot of times, and when his mother died, in her will she -- this is what he tells me -- he said there was enough money there to take care of my sister, and I used to get a check ever so often every time the interest came up. In his mother's will, they have to distribute, get rid of it, you know. They don't have to do these things for you. They do it, you know, and make you feel so good. And tell you, "You're a friend of mine; you're just a friend of mine." That's the kind of stuff they tell you, you know. And you believe it, and then you don't believe it later on, you see. You're glad to meet them when they're with all their friends and they don't even see you.
  • Walking to St. Anthony's Church; relationship with his family and opinions on generational differences; current hobbies
    Keywords: Conflict of generations; Grandparent and child; Older people--Family relationships
    Transcript: MSW: Speaking of going to St. Joseph's School, now do you still go to St. Joseph's, Church?

    DB: I went to St. Joseph's Church until I come down here, and it's too far to walk so now I walk over to St. Anthony's Church.

    MSW: Oh, yes.

    DB: It's only about one, two, three, four, about five squares here, and it's exercise for me on Sunday morning. I try to get as much exercise as I can get. I walk to town from here, and a lot of times walk home. That's just for exercise, not that I like to do it.

    MSW: This is a nice location.

    DB: Lovely, yes, it's a good location. We're just on the outskirts of town and in the country in a way, too.

    MSW: Yes, it's very nice. Well, Mr. Buckley, I know you mentioned your grandchildren. Can you tell me where they are living at this point?

    DB: Yes, I have a son in Chicago with six of my grandchildren. He's with a big company there, a paint company. He's got a big job.

    MSW: Is he selling?

    DB: He's selling; he knows the paint business. He started with DuPont selling here and then he went there to that business. He just kinda changed jobs. They keep you as long as they get all they want out of you, and then you have another place to get to. They do the same thing until they get all they want out of you, and then you go some place else. Now he's settled in Chicago and has a good job there and is well liked, and he's travelling all over the country for them. That's one son -- that's with the six grandchildren. He married a Polish girl, and she's a beautiful girl. She's lovely. She loves me, and the grandchildren write to me and they love me, too. My other son is at the Devon up here. He and his wife agreed to disagree, and he had four daughters and they lived out at [Sharpley?] and now he lives in the apartments up here. He got married again which I didn't approve of, and I haven't seen much of him since he done it cause he had a lovely wife. But they have know their own business, I guess, and you can't tell him what to do and what not to do. I've got one great grandchild, Suzanne, and my son in Chicago -- I have no great-grandchildren there -- just grandchildren. Then I have a granddaughter who lives in New York, and she has three children -- that makes three great-grandchildren. I have one grandchild over in Newark who has two great-grandchildren for me. I have one in Dover who has two great-grandchildren for me -- that's a grandchild who has two great-grandchildren for me, so that makes 2, 4, 7, 8 great-grandchildren.

    MSW: When you're with your grandchildren or great-grandchildren what's the biggest difference that you see in their lives and your childhood?

    DB: Oh, we never wanted so much in my childhood. We'd get along and planned on little things; they have to have big things. You can't give them anything that's second-hand. When we were kids everything was second-hand, and we always took it. The day my wife died she had a lot of nice clothes, and I offered them to my grandchildren and they didn't want them. They were old for them and they weren't new, and they didn't want hand-me-downs, and that's the difference between today and back in our days. I remember my mother used to -- I had a brother older than me -- and I wore his clothes and my younger brother, he wore mine. And she fixed them -- she was handy with a needle -- and we always felt dressed up in our old clothes. Today they have to have -- it's got to be new for them. They've got to buy them; you can't buy anything -- you don't know how to buy for them. They have their own ideas what they want. We'd never buy shoes with wooden soles and wooden heels. We wouldn't, but that's what they want today. Oh, there's a lot of things I think that was different in our day.

    MSW: What about their education? Do you feel they're getting a better education?

    DB: They're further advanced than we ever were in that time.

    MSW: In all ways. Do you think in every way?

    DB: I do think so.

    MSW: You do?

    DB: They see more and they know more and we've taught them more, which they won't take credit for that we did. We've been living for 77 years; we ought to know something, and we're still dummies with some of the young children.

    MSW: Do you write to the grandchildren?

    DB: Yes, indeed I do. I write to them, and they write to me.

    MSW: Are they interested in talking with you about your childhood days and what you did?

    DB: I have one grandchild that has, and she's a little old-fashioned. She just wants to take me right back to as far as I can go back, you know. She married well; she married an Italian fellow, and he's a wonderful guy. I was the one that caused her to marry him. She used to write me about these different boyfriends. She's a chemist and worked at one of the biggest laboratories in Philadelphia there. But she was good, and she said that she had so many of these Jewish men and she could have married them and had plenty of money, and she would ask me what I thought about this one and that one. She got down to this one Italian boy, and he was good to his mother, he visits her, and he took her places, and he's good to his father and so forth, and I insisted on him. And she married him.

    MSW: You probably saw some real fundamental values there.

    DB: He's good. He's very good to her, and they have three children, and he's an awful nice man. He's an engineer for one of these big boat companies, these liners, GraceLine, that have their offices in Philadelphia. They want me there all of the time, want me to come all of the time, but I don't know, I don't like to leave the house too much. I don't like to be away from home too much, and I don't want to be in charge of these children which they turn over and "Grandpa, you can take care of..." I done it a couple of times. One little girl, this one in New York, they had a nice big back yard, and my granddaughter she was having another baby, and she wanted to go to this meeting where they told them how to have these babies, and so forth, and she left these two kids with me, one in bed and the other she was so big. She got out on me and I couldn't catch her and couldn't get her. I liked to died. I'm telling you, I never went through anything like it in my life. And running around they have a landing about that high with four steps and I thought I had her, and I slipped down these damn steps and I hit my back and I was laying on the floor when she came home. I wasn't hurt; I didn't think I was hurt. I've had pains and aches ever since, but that responsibility of old people taking care of -- my aunt, 80 years old, she used to say, "God didn't make us old people to have babies." We just don't take care of babies like they do, you know.

    MSW: Well, you've had your responsibility and took care of your generation.

    DB: Oh, I have my grandchildren, as I said, we raised them for 6 or 8 years, and they stayed with us after their father had married again. We raised our own, and I had a good wife. She loved the children. I'd pile up a little money, you know, and I'd say, "Now come on, you and I are going to Florida." "We're going to take a vacation, we haven't had a vacation in a couple of years." "What, and leave these children?" "No, no, if you want to go to Florida, you can go to Florida, but I'm not going to Florida." So we'd spend it some other way, and we did spend it some other way, too.

    MSW: What sports and hobbies do you have now?

    DB: I like horse racing. I like hockey. I don't like basketball. I like baseball some. I like tennis. I like tennis very much. I like golf; I've played golf. I like golf. Yeah, I like sports.

    MSW: How about reading? Do you like to read? Do you enjoy reading?

    DB: I don't read enough. I like to read, but I don't read enough. I like to read. I don't know why. The paper comes, and then we have the news coming on, and I get the paper and I get the headlines and pull out the radio sheet and look at that and then comes news, news, maybe Cher coming on, and Kojak, and they take you away from what you should be doing. That's bad, but at my age I'm enjoying it so I might as well keep it going.

    MSW: Sure, I should say so. Well, it seems like you're quite happy here, Mr. Buckley, and thank you very much. I've enjoyed talking with you and reminiscing about your earlier days.

    DB: I'm glad you enjoyed it, and I'm glad you have an interest in it. If it's any good to you. I don't know whether it's any good to you or not.

    MSW: This oral interview has been conducted by Mary Sam Ward for the Eleutherian Mills-Hagley Foundation.