Interview with Catherine Cheney, 1984 January 23 [audio]

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  • Picking berries near the Gibbon's house; Gardens; Livestock; Gardening techniques
    Partial Transcript: "I think the best thing is to just show you where I mean..." "We had one chicken house there and then we had another chicken house...
    Synopsis: Cheney talks about picking wild fruit and berries growing in the are around Hagley. She expresses concern that no one will believe what she says because the area has changed so much since she lived there. She describes the size and area of the gardens she remembers when she was young. She talks about how her family kept chickens. Cheney discusses some gardening techniques and the size of her family's strawberry patch, which she believes was 3 feet by 10 feet. She says that her and her siblings were responsible for some of the digging that went on in the garden.
    Keywords: Blackberries; Christ Church Christiana Hundred (Wilmington, Del.); Free Park (Del.: Village); Gardens; Gibbons House; Sickle Pears; Strawberries
  • Watering the Garden; Wild fruits and berries; Keeping chickens and other animals; Explosions and fear of thunder; Childhood home
    Partial Transcript: "We had... a garbage pail, I guess, that was bigger than a regular bucket... you'd carry that up the steps..." "...maybe that made the soil richer there where the trees were..." "I guess fear of thunder was a carry over from fear of explosions..."
    Synopsis: Cheney describes how she and other children watered their family's gardens. She talks about some of the wild fruits that grew in the neighborhood. She talks about how her family kept chickens. She recalls explosions at the yard and explains that she believes her childhood fear of thunder was related to her fear of explosions at the powder yard. Cheney describes how her childhood home was two row homes combined together. She discusses the worrying nature of living near a place as dangerous as the powder yards.
    Keywords: Blackberries; Chickens; Christ Church Christiana Hundred (Wilmington, Del.); Free Park (Del.: Village); Gardens; Hagley Yard; Livestock; Rasberries; Sickle pears; Street-railroads; Water
  • Family's immigration to Ireland; Diagramming the family garden; Vegetable and flower planting
    Partial Transcript: "They said that a lot of women we knew were bought over here as servants..." "Somebody else would say you were stealing the wood... I don't know whether we were really taking something that didn't belong to us or not..."
    Synopsis: Cheney talks about her family's immigration to the United States from Ireland. She says that according to her memory, many of the women in the area had their immigration costs covered by the du Pont family, who needed household staff. Cheney draws a picture of the layout of her family's garden and the surrounding area. She describes the diagram and details here home's floorplan and its location relative to the gardens and the rest of the community. She describes some of her family's vegetable and flower plantings. Cheney relates how her family used wood from common areas for tomato stakes. She says she's not sure if the wood really came from a common area or if it was technically stolen. She briefly talks about how here mother baked bread and that her family bought the wood they used in their cook stove.
    Keywords: Diagrams; Gardens; Immigration; Ireland; Maps; Potatoes; Strawberries; Strings; Tomato stakes; Tomatoes; Zinnias
  • Turnips and other vegetables; Raising and planting vegetables; Listing vegetables grown in the gardens; Ordering seeds from a catalog.
    Partial Transcript: "Beans... as tall as a person depending on the pole..."
    Synopsis: Cheney gives more information about the layout of her family's garden and the types of vegetables gown therein. She explains that while her family had many different types of vegetables, they avoided asparagus due to the amount of space required by the plant. She says that they also avoided growing corn because the local wild birds ate the corn before it had a chance to mature. Cheney talks about buying seeds and seedlings. She says that they were either ordered by catalog or came from a local farmer's market.
    Keywords: Asparagus; Beans; Carrots; Lettuce; Lima beans; Marigolds; Onions; Peas; Peppers; Spinach; Strawberries; Turnips; Zinnias
  • August lilies and other flowers; Layout of flower plantings; Keeping mold off of preserves; Bug and pest prevention
    Partial Transcript: ".. A lot of them (August lilles) just came up year after year..." "We had a fox once that got in with the chickens..."
    Synopsis: Cheney describes August lilies and some other flowers and bushes that she remembers from her childhood. She describes where the flowers and bushes were planted and how they helped to contain the chickens. She describes how they kept jams, jellies, and preserves from growing mold. She describes her family's grape arbor. She talks about bug and pest prevention.
    Keywords: August lilies; Chickens; Day lilies; Grapes; Jams; Jellies; Lilac bushes; Preserves; Tiger lilies; Wisteria
  • Preserving vegetables for the winter by storing them in a pit; Memories of garden work; Differences between Irish and Italian gardens
    Partial Transcript: "You'd dig them and then you'd make like a pit and then cover them with the soil -- but that had to be deep..."
    Synopsis: Cheney describes digging a pit to preserve vegetables. She explains how they would remember the pit's contents and location. She talks about the memories she has of her father and grandfather working in their gardens. She describes some of the differences between Irish and Italian gardens. She says that Italian gardeners often grew their beans on poles and planted a wider variety of vegetables.
    Keywords: Beans; Christ Church Christiana Hundred (Wilmington, Del.); Peppers; Preservation; Storage; Vegetables; Work