Interview with Bertha Gregg, 1989 March 23 [audio]

Hagley ID:
  • [Continuation of March 17, 1989 interview] Her husband's nursing home care; delivering groceries to Squirrel Run village; Halloween traditions
    Keywords: Adult children of aging parents; Aging parents; Delivery of goods; Halloween costumes; Nursing homes; Nursing homes--Costs; Older people--Care; Sam Hackendorn
    Transcript: Gregg: I get him ready for bed and those aides come along and they just - they see I'm there, they just turn around and disappear until he's all ready for bed, then they come back. I can't lift him, he's too heavy and he can't walk, he can't stand up by himself, so he has to be lifted bodily. I tried it once and I fell and he fell on top of me. That was at the house, that's when the doctor told me I just had to put him in a nursing home, that I couldn't manage.

    Johnson: That's right, when you can't lift them...

    Gregg: I was trying to give him a bath every day and my back, leaning over the bed, put a big rubber sheet under him and then - it was just too much for me, I just couldn't do it. I hated to do it, hate to put him in a nursing home, but I just couldn't do it.

    Johnson: And you couldn't get help in the home anymore, in the older days they sometimes...

    Gregg: I did have help for a while. I was having a visiting nurses, I had them come in here. I had two a day, one night nurse and one day nurse, but that run into so much money, some of them charge seven dollars an hour and it was just running into too much money. It's expensive in a nursing home, too.

    Johnson: Yes, it's hard.

    Gregg: It's well over two thousand dollars a month, and that's not counting all the extras - I have to pay extra to get his hair cut and his nails cut and things like that.

    Johnson: That's right, and the doctor visits.

    Gregg: Yeah, the doctor goes there about every - about once a month he'll visit him, and that's about forty dollars a visit. They charged me twenty dollars to cut his hair, and I think that's terrible.

    Johnson: Oh, that's high.

    Gregg: Yes, twenty dollars to cut his hair.

    Johnson: It was just a few years ago my father-in-law was in a nursing home, but it didn't cost that much.

    Gregg: Then my daughter says, "Well if you don't want to come and live with us, we'll get somebody to come and live with you to take care of him." I said, "No, please, I just - I can't - I feel I'd have to be getting meals for somebody." If I'm by myself I eat when I want to and I can do as I please, and I just can't imagine having a stranger come in. Maybe I'm crazy, I don't know.

    Johnson: Well, it is hard, and they don't always -

    Gregg: It's a problem.

    Johnson: You hate to tell them how to do things, but they don't really do it the way it should be done.

    Gregg: That's right, that's right. So I said I'll just stay in my own home as long as I can, if I get so I can't do things, why we'll have to think about doing something else. But I hate to sell the house and give up everything I have.

    Johnson: I think as long as you're well and can take care...

    Gregg: And I told her with him down here, and she lives way up the other side of town, I said it would be a problem for me to get down. I can drive now, but I don't know how long I can keep it up, you know. After you pass ninety, something might happen to me. I might get rheumatism in my legs or something, and I just can't tell.

    Johnson: As long as you can do it.

    Gregg: I said I'd hate to bother them. She said, "You wouldn't have to worry about it, either Gail or myself would take you down there every day." But I know that they would like to do it, but I feel that there would be times when he'd probably wish I wasn't there. They're younger, they have a lot of company that comes in. In that neighborhood where she is, she has got four neighbors and they're all very close. Maybe a couple of times a week they'll call and say, "What have you got for dinner tonight? I've got this, I've got that. Bring it over and we'll all eat." And then they'll go to another house, and they do that all the time. And one of them has a house at the beach and they go down to the beach in the summertime about every weekend. I wouldn't want to tag along with those young people. I'd just feel out of place and I know they'd think - wish that old woman would stay home.

    Johnson: That's right.

    Gregg: It's sad, it really is sad.

    Johnson: Getting old is sad.

    Gregg: Yeah, but it's one of those things, it has to happen. I remember my Grandmother the last time I saw her and she said something about she probably wouldn't see me again. I said, "Oh, don't talk like that." And she says, "Well, I'm ninety-four years old and you can't live forever." I remember her saying that, and I never did see her again alive. But she was spry, she did all of her...

    Johnson: Did she enjoy life while she was here?

    Gregg: Yeah.

    Johnson: Did you ever hear anything about the Brandywine Manufacturer's Sunday School on the Hagley Museum property, or any of those?

    Gregg: No.

    Johnson: Did you ever go to any of the dances at Breck's Mill?

    Gregg: No.

    Johnson: They had something called the Hagley Community House. Do you know anything about the other stores there, did you ever hear of Sam Frizzell's grocery store?

    Gregg: No.

    Johnson: How about the taverns. They had the Blazing Rag Tavern and Lawless's Tavern.

    Gregg: No. But I've heard some names - I forget them right now, but I heard my husband talk about up the creek. One of them was Hackendorn, were there some Hackendorns up there?

    Johnson: Yes there were.

    Gregg: I think there was a Sam Hackendorn.

    Johnson: Yes, there was.

    Gregg: I heard him speak about him. And they were up from around Squirrel Run somewhere, I don't know where that is, but he used to go up there.

    Johnson: Yes, it was one of the villages.

    Gregg: Is that what it was?

    Johnson: Yes. What did he say about him?

    Gregg: He used to deliver groceries up there all the time. And then when he got the truck, he used to take my oldest daughter with him once in a while when he delivered and one night - one afternoon he went down and there's quite a sharp turn down under the railroad bridge, there's quite a steep hill there and he was delivering groceries at the top and he left Bertha in the truck. And they had a brake that had a button on the top that he had to push to put the brake - and he didn't think and she was sitting in front, he told her to sit right still and he'd be out. And when he went in, she hit her - not knowing what she was doing, she was playing, and she hit the top of that thing and the truck started to go down that hill. And he had just started to go over the steps, he dropped the box and he ran halfway down that hill and got in that truck and got control of it. Otherwise it would have been smashed to pieces, she probably would have been killed. I never forgot that, I said hereafter she's gonna stay home. But she went with him but...

    Johnson: Yes, little children don't know.

    Gregg: She was about three years old, something like that. She was walking, it was before she went to school or anything. When he told me what happened, it scared me to death. And I know it scared him, he was really frightened. I don't know how he ran fast enough to get in that truck 'cause that's quite a steep hill.

    Johnson: Well sometimes when you're really worried, it seems like you can do things you couldn't. I don't think we covered all the holidays. Now do you remember anything about Halloween? Did they celebrate Halloween?

    Gregg: Yes, we used to always get dressed up at Halloween, go around the neighborhood. I used to go around with my kids. Pete once in a while, but not very often. We used to have Halloween parties at home too. They'd go out and then come back to the house. But it got so, even in later years, back four or five years ago, all the younger people went and then we'd get people from way in town - sixteen, seventeen year old boys and some of them got kind of flip you know. I know my daughter said they come up to her house - here she comes now - she had a big tray of treats and they came in and grabbed the whole thing and she said that fixed her, she didn't have them anymore. We're talking about Halloween time. This is Bonnie's mother - you met Bonnie - this is Bonnie's mother. That was her husband that was here yesterday. This is Dorothy Johnson. Is that man on the top of that - is that your husband - was a man's name I think - Richard?

    Johnson: He's Robert Johnson.

    Gregg: Robert? Is that your husband?

    Johnson: That's my husband. Where did you see that name?

    Gregg: Oh, that letter that you wrote me.

    Johnson: Oh, oh, I remember, okay. Yes, that's my husband. I'm a volunteer at the Museum so we've been talking about...

    Vera [Mrs. Gregg's daughter]: I understand.

    Gregg: You're the boss when he's not around, huh?

    Johnson: That's right [laughs]. He's worked for DuPont for thirty-six years now, so he said when are they gonna interview you? Well, I think we'll bring it to a close today.

    Gregg: We were talking about Halloween. We used to love to get dressed up. She used to be good at that, she and Bonnie. I know one time Bonnie made an outfit like a frog, a frog outfit, and she squat down and jumped just like a frog, and she was good.

    Vera [Mrs. Gregg's daughter]: Last year she was a frog and I was a chicken.

    Gregg: Oh, we used to have a lot of fun. We used to go around and knock on the door and then they'd have to guess who we are, you know.

    Johnson: Now did you ever play tricks on people?

    Gregg: No, we didn't.

    Johnson: Now a lot of the old timers tell about turning over the outhouse.

    Gregg: Trick or treat, Halloween. They do it, they do it now, but not like they used to do it.

    Johnson: Did he tell you any stories about it?

    Vera [Mrs. Gregg's daughter]: No, just that he and his brothers were on the ornery side at times.

    Johnson: I think maybe we should stop for today, so that...

    Gregg: Yeah, twelve o'clock, I have to leave here at twelve-thirty and go way up the other side of town. Was there anything else that you...

    Johnson: How about I talk to you again with the same tape? When I bring back your letter, I'll make a copy of it.

    Gregg: Anytime, I don't mind.

    Johnson: Okay fine, I'll call you up then.
  • [Begin interview March 23, 1989] More anecdotes from her brief time at Hagley and her husband's childhood near Brandywine Creek; introduction of electric lights, telephones, and radio
    Keywords: childhood pastimes; Flower gardening; Grocery trade; Maxwell automobile; Mosquitoes; Radio; Skating; Swimming; Telephone
    Transcript: Gregg: ...reading this book, every time I get a chance I sit down and read a little bit of it. I'm pretty near - can you buy these books?

    Johnson: Well that is for you to keep.

    Gregg: Oh - great. Can I buy another one for my daughter?

    Johnson: Yes, yes.

    Gregg: How much are they?

    Johnson: I'm not sure, I'll find out.

    Gregg: It might be in here, sometimes they have it inside.

    Johnson: Well, if not, I can...

    Gregg: Oh here - this is from Hagley Store - $4.59, would that be right?

    Johnson: That sounds about right, yes.

    Gregg: Let me give you the money right now before I forget.

    Johnson: All right. Today is March 23rd, I'm back with Mrs. Gregg and we're going to finish up the interview. Mrs. Gregg, I brought back the letter from your relatives, Lyman Hinkley, which you let me copy for the museum, and I'm sure they'll enjoy reading that.

    Gregg: It was interesting. I wish I knew what become of the original, because we had the original letter, it was getting pretty delicate, you know, the leaves were turning brown and it was very brittle, so my uncle had it last - he lives up in Connecticut and he's the last one that I had - he's a minister, he's gone now, so I don't know what become of the letter. But I'm sorry it got out of the family. Maybe some of the grandchildren up there have it, I don't know.

    Johnson: It's such an interesting letter, they might even have it covered with plastic or some kind of thing. One thing I meant to ask you last time, would you tell me your husband's full name again?

    Gregg: His name is Warren Greenleaf Gregg.

    Johnson: And you said that he was named for a Dr. Greenleaf?

    Gregg: Yeah, he was.

    Johnson: Who's mentioned in the "Worker's World" book?

    Gregg: His mother told me that.

    Johnson: Do you know anything about Dr. Greenleaf that you could tell us?

    Gregg: No, I don't know a thing about him, I wouldn't know a thing about him.

    Johnson: But his mother did tell you that. She wouldn't have had a reason to name him - a special appreciation for Dr. Greenleaf or something?

    Gregg: I don't know - probably.

    Johnson: And then on Page 50 of the "Worker's World" book you told me that the building looked like the one you worked in when you were working for the Company.

    Gregg: Yeah, that little stone - just one little building. A picture of it in here somewhere.

    Johnson: But you said there was no railroad track at the building where you worked as you see it?

    Gregg: I don't recall a track at all.

    Johnson: I think that's probably right, this was a different location. This is kind of a silly question, but do you remember any of the food that they might have served in the cafeteria when you had lunch there?

    Gregg: I don't really remember a thing about the food.

    Johnson: But you did say you hung up your uniforms and things there? One thing you told me on the tape which we lost was something about automobiles, you remembered automobiles that they had?

    Gregg: There were very few automobiles at that time, I remember that.

    Johnson: It seems like there was something that you - somebody had a special car...

    Gregg: Maxwell - my husband's brother, he lived up in Pennsylvania somewhere, and he had a Maxwell sedan he used to bring down, and he gave it to my husband, and we had it. I used to sit on the back seat all by myself, and my husband sat on the front seat with my daughter, this was the second daughter, and I told him one day, "I hope this baby's a boy so you can sit on the front seat with a girl, and I'll sit on the back seat with a boy." But it didn't turn out that way. But I do remember that car.

    Johnson: And you told me something about your brothers would meet with some of the members of the Gregg family and other people connected with the powder yards, and you mentioned a wall, do you know anything about a wall - they were getting together about a wall?

    Gregg: A wall? What would that be - I don't remember about the wall.

    Johnson: Yes, well probably you never saw it and it was just something, you know, you said - sometimes it seems like they had a social place where they'd sit and it was a wall.

    Gregg: Bank - the bank out in front of their house. And my husband's younger brother and my younger brother and his cousin that lived next door to him - you know how kids gather a bit, in the evening, they used to get over there. I'm hot in here, are you?

    Johnson: Yes.

    Gregg: I've got the thing turned down to about 68, but it still seems like it's warm in here.

    Johnson: One of our interviewees mentioned Harry Gregg's Store at the bottom of Rising Sun Lane, and I wondered if you remembered that store or any stories about...

    Gregg: No, the store was gone...

    Johnson: That was gone.

    Gregg: His grandfather had the store, Harry, and then his father took over, but he wasn't there very long, then he moved up on Brinckle Avenue between - is is 17th or 18th? Between 16th - no, it's going the other way - 17th and 18th, between 18th and 17th.

    Johnson: And do you remember any stories they might have told about the old store or things like that?

    Gregg: No, not really.

    Johnson: Did you ever go swimming in the Brandywine River?

    Gregg: No, but my husband did.

    Johnson: Did he ever tell any stories about that?

    Gregg: Well, no, just except they weren't supposed to go - one place they did go - one of the boys went up and tied a rope in a tree and they'd get up - the tree went over the water you know, and they'd swing out over the water and then let go and drop in the water. I remember that.

    Johnson: I think they still do that today - not right by the Museum, but up further I've seen them do that.

    Gregg: Probably.

    Johnson: It's probably a nice river to swim in, it's not too rough.

    Gregg: I imagine so, I've never been in it.

    Johnson: How about ice skating, do you know anything about that?

    Gregg: Yeah, I do recollect that they went ice skating, but I don't know where it was or anything.

    Johnson: Did you grow flowers around your house? I know you said you had a big garden, but I forgot to ask about the flowers.

    Gregg: Oh yeah, quite a few flowers.

    Johnson: Do you know what they were?

    Gregg: Well marigolds, I don't remember. Nasturtiums, I remember nasturtiums. I don't see too many of them now.

    Johnson: No, they need a lot of sun I think. We had no luck with nasturtiums. There are a lot of trees around. Would you ever use nasturtiums in a salad - would you eat the leaves?

    Gregg: No, but I've heard of it.

    Johnson: I've heard of that, but I've never done it. What about inventions. I know you said they had a telephone in the Gregg Store. What was it like?

    Gregg: But they had gas lights, there wasn't any electricity, it was all gas. I remember the gas lights came out the side of the wall. Like a little thing came out and they put a mantle, it was a little white like a cotton chimney went over it and it was round, I remember that, then they'd light it with gas. But when the lights first started, to get lights, every room had one light right in the middle, just a hanging down on a chain, that was the only - there was no...

    Johnson: Wall plugs, yes, yes.

    Gregg: None of those around, I remember that. And the television too, I remember when they first started to get television ~ or radio - first thing was radio.

    Johnson: When did you first get a radio, do you remember that?

    Gregg: That must have been about 1918, because my father was interested in it and he used to build these little radio sets. I couldn't tell you how they were made or anything. But I know one night we were sitting over at Pete's mother's, over on 19th Street, and he had one that he loaned them and you'd sit around with these ear things on, you know, and then somebody said, "Oh, I got Philadelphia." And it was really - everybody ran in to hear it and it was some orchestra that was playing. That was the first I heard a radio.

    Johnson: Yes, it must have been exciting.

    Gregg: I often say, when my husband was here, if his mother was alive now, or his grandmother could see television, people on the moon, they'd never believe it, 'cause that was unheard of.

    Johnson: Yes. You mentioned his grandmother just now, did you ever meet his grandmother?

    Gregg: No. I never met his father. His father died just about six months before we met.

    Johnson: Do you remember how people felt about inventions in general? Did they think they were good things or did they tend to look back to the old ways?

    Gregg: I never heard them say.

    Johnson: Tell me about the mosquitoes, one time you said you had some trouble with mosquitoes?

    Gregg: Oh, mosquitoes all the time. They were usually around damp places, you know, like ponds and things, swarms of them. And I was really allergic to them, I tried to keep away. If the things bit me they'd last for a couple of weeks. Swell up in big welts. They wouldn't go away, that was the thing that made it...

    Johnson: You probably were allergic to them. And I think you told me about the screens that they had on the house, they were...

    Gregg: The little sliding screens.
  • Playing cards and board games with her husband and sister; childhood games and other pastimes
    Keywords: Bocce (Game); Card games; Checkers; childhood pastimes; Children's shoes; Games; Jacks (Game); Jump ropes; Marbles (Game); Pinochle; Rope skipping
    Transcript: Johnson: Yes. Do you remember any ghost stories - did they ever tell ghost stories about the powder yards?

    Gregg: No.

    Johnson: Sometimes people said that after an explosion they would see a ghost or think they saw something.

    Gregg: No, I never heard anything about that.

    Johnson: How about funny stories. Did they...

    Gregg: I wish my husband was able to talk because he could really tell you some things, but he can't even speak.

    Johnson: That is too bad.

    Gregg: But he's interested. You know I told him after I was talking to you the last time, I told him that you were here and what we were talking about. And he just turned at me, and his eyes got big and he was really interested. And I told about the picture in there where his grandfather had a store, and his chin started to quiver, I thought he was gonna cry for a minute, but he kinda got a hold of himself. But he was really interested in that and I thought it's too bad he just can't...

    Johnson: Probably he had something to tell too and it was disappointing.

    Gregg: Right, it makes it awful hard for him because he can't - sometimes he'll motion for things and we just can't make out what he wants, what he's trying to tell you.

    Johnson: My grandfather was like that, he would say things to us, and we couldn't understand them and he would get so upset.

    Gregg: Yeah, a couple of times he's gone O-O-O, O-O-O, and go like that, and I'd get in front of him and I'd say, O-O-O, O-O-O, then we get to laughing.

    Johnson: You have to make the most of it. How about weather lore, did they have a way of foretelling the weather by looking at the sky?

    Gregg: I don't know. His mother used to complain about her corns hurting, you know [laughs]. She had corns on her feet and she would say, "It's gonna rain sure as anything," because the corns are killing her. I don't think people have corns so much now as they used to. I don't know, I don't hear people speak about them.

    Johnson: I think shoes fit better, you don't want to wear shoes that are too tight. You mentioned your shoes, what were they like?

    Gregg: Just regular shoes. The first shoes I remember were laced and were a little bit higher than - you don't see those high laced shoes now.

    Johnson: Did you have buttons and button hooks for them?

    Gregg: Yeah, I've got a button hook about that long, still have in there, I've had it for years in that little box. I keep my treasures in there, did at the time, you know, just forget them and stay there for years. Like that little doll head, you know, that was in that box, and there's a button hook in there.

    Johnson: And you never know when things come back in fashion. Sometimes they wear shoes with buttons on now. How about games, do you remember games that you played as a child?

    Gregg: No, I don't remember. Kids played ball out in the streets, that's all I know.

    Johnson: How about Jacks, did you play Jacks?

    Gregg: Yeah, Jacks, I remember that.

    Johnson: And hoop rolling, did they roll hoops?

    Gregg: No I don't know that.

    Johnson: Checkers, did you play Checkers?

    Gregg: Yeah, I used to play Checkers a lot with my husband. I used to get mad at him sometimes and he'd just laugh at me, it just tickled him to death to beat me.

    Johnson: Did he play Chess as well, or just Checkers?

    Gregg: No, no, never got interested in Chess.

    Johnson: Did you play any card games with him?

    Gregg: Not early, but later.

    Johnson: Did you play something called Euchre?

    Gregg: I've heard of it, but I don't play it.

    Johnson: Some people mentioned that. What card games did you play later, do you know?

    Gregg: You mean just...

    Johnson: Playing cards - like bridge.

    Gregg: Played Five Hundred. I used to play a lot of bridge, but I haven't played it for years, I kinda got away from it. Pinochle, my sister and her husband lived over Elsmere, and we'd meet every Wednesday evening, either they'd come over here and the next week we'd go over there and we'd have our card games - every Wednesday night. We'd play Pinochle, Five Hundred and sometimes we'd get out different games we had, you know.

    Johnson: Like Monopoly, would you have played Monopoly?

    Gregg: No, no - they did, but I never played much Monopoly.

    Johnson: How about Mahjong?

    Gregg: No.

    Johnson: Did you have a swing or have access to a swing?

    Gregg: Swings - Yeah they had swings tied on any tree that the branch was big enough to hold.

    Johnson: Would your father have made a swing for you children?

    Gregg: Yeah.

    Johnson: And how did he do that?

    Gregg: He made us a swing out at - when we lived out Milltown. It was like a settee, you know, just without the legs, it was strips of wood across and all the way across the back and down and it had arms on it and it had two big chains up here, and then one went up to the porch.

    Johnson: They're really nice, they're comfortable.

    Gregg: Yeah, we had one of those for years. My husband said he was gonna make me a bench to put out in the yard, so he made a bench and he told me one night, came in and I was just finishing the dinner dishes and he said, "Come on, I got your bench finished, come on out." And I went out and I sat on it and it wasn't right, something was wrong, the back legs were shorter than the front or something and I went over, the whole thing went. I never forgot that [laughs].

    Johnson: Did you play marbles when you were little?

    Gregg: Oh yes.

    Johnson: Both girls and boys played marbles?

    Gregg: Yes. And they used to take a Jack knife and, you know a little Jack knife?

    Johnson: Yes.

    Gregg: And throw it like this to stick in the ground. I just remembered that. Every evening my two brothers would get out in the front yard and they'd throw these Jack knives.

    Johnson: Did they try to throw them in a certain way, was it a game?

    Gregg: Certain way that you throw it, yeah. I know my sister's little boy, he was only about three or four years old, I guess he was four or five, a little older than that, he came over to our house one day and he had this knife, paring knife out pitching. And my husband said to him, "Carl, what have you got there?" And he showed him, he said, "Where did you get that?" And he said, "Over home in the kitchen." And he said "What do you think your father will say if he sees you with that knife." He says, "He'll give me hell." And that nearly killed us laughing because we never knew the kid knew any such words. I'll never forget it. My husband nearly died laughing. And he told his father, my husband told him and he couldn't believe it. I said, "Ask them, they all heard him say it."

    Johnson: Yes, and he probably had seen the older boys...

    Gregg: But he was so little to say something like that, he didn't know what he was saying, you know, "He'd give me hell."

    Johnson: Well they have big ears, I think they say...How about jump rope, did you have jump rope?

    Gregg: Yes, we had jump ropes, and marbles.

    Johnson: Do you remember how you played marbles?

    Gregg: Shoot them somehow like this, I remember doing it.

    Johnson: Did you have a circle that you'd draw?

    Gregg: Yes.

    Johnson: And would that be in the dirt?

    Gregg: Yeah.

    Johnson: Did you have different size of marbles?

    Gregg: Yeah, one of them was called "Commies" I remember, they said one was a Commie, but I don't know what it was, but I just remember my brother saying. My two brothers when they were swapping marbles, you know, they'd say, "I'll give you one of these for the Commie." I just don't remember what it was.

    Johnson: Were they made of glass, pretty - they weren't these little - sometimes they have these antique marbles that they show us, they're clay.

    Gregg: These were glass.

    Johnson: And did you get to keep them and did you have a marble bag to keep them in?

    Gregg: Yes.

    Johnson: And would it be seasonal - would you just play that in the spring and then put them away?

    Gregg: I don't remember, I just don't remember when we played it, I just remember playing it.

    Johnson: And it was just for fun, you didn't have any tournaments or anything? And do you remember anything about the circle or what it was like? Would it have to be a certain size?

    Gregg: I don't remember that.

    Johnson: Did you have a jump rope?

    Gregg: Oh yes.

    Johnson: Did you have any jumping rhymes that you said?

    Gregg: No, I don't remember them. We had jumping ropes that we used ourself and then one would get on either end of it and jump, I remember that.

    Johnson: Did you have the two ropes sometimes, they called it Double Dutch?

    Gregg: Yeah, yeah, I never could manipulate that.

    Johnson: The two ropes would go at once - no, I never did either. How about a bicycle, did you have a bicycle?

    Gregg: No, my brother had a bicycle, I never had one.

    Johnson: And scooters?

    Gregg: No, I don't remember any scooter.

    Johnson: Little things that you have, you'd put one foot on the ground. Did you play tag?

    Gregg: Oh yes - Hide and Seek.

    Johnson: Did you play a game called Run Sheepie Run?

    Gregg: No, I don't remember that.

    Johnson: Did you play something called Ring A-levio?

    Gregg: No.

    Johnson: Now there was a game that some of the Italian workers played called bocce, did you ever see one of those games being played around here?

    Gregg: Isn't there one out now called that?

    Johnson: Oh yes.

    Gregg: I've heard some...

    Johnson: They still play it. It's a little like bowling except the balls are different sizes and they hit each other instead of the ten pins.

    Gregg: Never had that. We had - what's the one - croquet, I remember that, we had one of those sets.

    Johnson: Did you play that as a group?

    Gregg: Yeah, whoever happened to be around, two or three of us at a time.
  • Music traditions in both Connecticut and Delaware; mother-in-law playing the organ at Mt. Salem Methodist Church
    Keywords: Bands (Music); Church music; Hymns; Mt. Salem United Methodist ChurchMusical instruments; Music in churches; Music--Instruction and study; Organ (Musical instrument); Violin
    Transcript: Johnson: Do you remember any song, any popular songs that you might have heard on the radio or sung together? And I think you said you had a parlor organ - did you say you had a parlor organ in your home?

    Gregg: Yeah.

    Johnson: Do you remember any of the pieces that you played on that?

    Gregg: No. I remember my mother used to play it. The only song I really, well a couple of hymns I remember her singing, but one song was about the Man in the Moon. My sweetheart's the Man in the Moon, I just can't remember.

    Johnson: Yes, I think I've heard that song.

    Gregg: I just can't remember all of it.

    Johnson: Did she have sheet music that she would play from?

    Gregg: Yeah.

    Johnson: Where would she buy that?

    Gregg: I don't know. My sister had a lot of that, but I don't...

    Johnson: This might have been in Connecticut, too, rather than in Delaware.

    Gregg: Yeah, it was.

    Johnson: Did you have your parlor organ in Connecticut or in Delaware?

    Gregg: Up there, we didn't bring it here.

    Johnson: Didn't bring it. Later on did you have a piano?

    Gregg: Yes.

    Johnson: Was this in your house or in...

    Gregg: In our house.

    Johnson: And do you remember sheet music for that?

    Gregg: Yeah.

    Johnson: Did you play some of it?

    Gregg: I couldn't play very good.

    Johnson: Who played - did your husband play?

    Gregg: No, my mother, just my mother when she came to visit. My son got rid of it when we had to move - another place up in Connecticut and we just let the piano go because nobody was playing it. I remember the day it came. My father surprised us with it, and it came in a big wooden case and my oldest - in fact both of my brothers used to play and get in it, it was out in the yard in the orchard under one of the trees and a skunk got in there one time. And a friend of my brother, he lived down along the river, and my brother came in the house one day - Stanton, his name was Stanton Pendleton, I remember that, and he came in the house and he said, "Mom, have you got any talcum powder?" And she said, "What do you want talcum powder for?" "Stanton wants it." She said, "What does Stanton want talcum powder for?" And he says, "A skunk got him and he can't get the smell off his clothes." And she went out and she wouldn't get near him. She told him to go home. And he had to go through our backyard over a wall and down through the woods and down home. His mother told us afterwards that she wouldn't let him come in the house, she stripped him out in the yard and went and dug a hole and buried his clothes. And she said she was weeks and weeks scrubbing him and she couldn't get that smell - they complained about it when he went to school, but they couldn't do anything about it. So my father got rid of the box. I think he took it down to the end of the yard and burned it up. I often wonder what became of that boy, you know, when he grew up.

    Johnson: Yes, and he thought talcum powder would help it. Do you remember the hymns? You were going to say something?

    Gregg: I don't know what this talcum powder - whether he thought he was gonna do with the talcum powder.

    Johnson: Do you remember what the hymns were that you sang?

    Gregg: No, I don't remember. "In the Garden" was one, called "In the Garden" and "The Old Oaken Bucket" - I remember that. But I can't remember some of the others.

    Johnson: What church did you belong to here? I don't know if I asked you that.

    Gregg: Here? Baptist. I haven't been to church now for quite a few years, fell away from it.

    Johnson: Did your husband belong to that church too?

    Gregg: Up to Mt. Salem, up on Mt. Salem Road.

    Johnson: Well then his family went to Mt. Salem?

    Gregg: Yeah. I have a little book upstairs that they put out about the church, and his mother played the - took a little portable organ, they took a portable organ up there and it was the first organ they'd ever had in the church.

    Johnson: Oh, and she gave them the organ?

    Gregg: Yeah.

    Johnson: Wasn't that nice.

    Gregg: And she played it. Did you ever see one of those books? Would you wait a minute? I'll see if it's upstairs in the bookcase. [Pause while she goes upstairs]

    Johnson: The Museum might have that book, but I haven't seen it.

    Gregg: Did you ever see that?

    Johnson: This is "The History of Mt. Salem Methodist Church, Wilmington, Delaware, 1847-1947" by Frank B. Gentieu. Oh, and it's signed by Frank Gentieu. Now someone named Gentieu took some of these...

    Gregg: His father, I think, was one of the head ones or something up at - had something to do with Hagley, I don't know.

    Johnson: Yes, here's a picture of someone named Pierre Gentieu in the "Worker's World" book, and probably that was his father.

    Gregg: Yeah, that's probably his father.

    Johnson: Well, I'll tell the Museum about this book. They probably have a copy there somewhere, but I'm sure they would enjoy seeing it if they haven't.

    Gregg: There's an item in there about his mother. Brothers Gregg, Carl Hawk - do you remember the Hawks? The first organ, why didn't I put the page on...

    Johnson: Well the first organ was 1870, that was a long time ago.

    Gregg: I don't have it marked in here. His daughter was very close to my oldest - my sister. They used to chum around together, they lived on 18th Street.

    Johnson: This was Pierre Gentieu's daughter?

    Gregg: Here's Frankie, that's Frankie Gentieu.

    Johnson: Now it was his daughter that was friends with your sister?

    Gregg: Yeah.

    Johnson: That's one of the Superintendents of the Sunday School.

    Gregg: I'm surprised that you don't have one of these.

    Johnson: They may have one, I'll ask, because I haven't seen it, but it's really nice.

    Gregg: There was only so many copies of this sold I think at the time. I wanted to see about the - about her and the church. I wish I had made a note of it.

    Johnson: Well, you do have a note on the...

    Gregg: Oh, yeah, 85.

    Johnson: First organ, Page 85.

    Gregg: That's what I thought...I got a slip in here too.

    Johnson: There it is. "There are very few people who do not like good music. In the olden days no musical instruments were allowed in the church and the hymns were started by someone appointed for that purpose. Mrs. Adelaide Gregg, when a young lady in her teens, played the first organ in Mt. Salem Church. The time was the early seventies and the effect was melodious. From all accounts, the organ was her own, and probably it was taken to the church with the idea of being in the vanguard of the procession for better music. As this was an innovation, it was not known what the effect would be, but they soon found out. Two of the good sisters, with a toss of their heads, took themselves out of the service, as it was more than they could stand to see such desecration of the Lord's house." Isn't that interesting.

    "So far as we have been able to learn, this little incident was the only protest, and Mrs. Gregg continued to help with this contribution of her talent and in later years, her sister, Miss Rachel Miller, for many years presided over the church organ that we have mentioned casually in another portion of our sketch. Times have changed and we all will agree that the sweet, soft music of the good old hymns is a large factor in our enjoyment of the worship service."

    That is really nice to know.

    Gregg: Yeah, they probably, I'm sure they have one.

    Johnson: I think they probably have a copy, and if not, I'll come back again and maybe you'd be willing to let them look in it. That was interesting. How about other instruments - did you know anything about a banjo in the area?

    Gregg: Yeah.

    Johnson: Did people have banjos?

    Gregg: I don't remember that.

    Johnson: A harmonica?

    Gregg: I don't remember that.

    Johnson: A fiddle or a violin?

    Gregg: Yeah, somebody had a violin.

    Johnson: Where would they play it? For each other?

    Gregg: My sister played a violin. She played with some big band, I forget what it was now, I forget.

    Johnson: It was a local band?

    Gregg: Yeah.

    Johnson: And were violin lessons pretty popular with the people?

    Gregg: At that time it was.

    Johnson: There was one of the powder workers who gave violin lessons in that area, but I think he learned from someone what had come out to teach the people who wanted to learn. How about a tin whistle?

    Gregg: Do you know his name?

    Johnson: Jones.

    Gregg: Jones? I don't know him. I was trying to think of the man she took from. He had a big orchestra. I did know his name and knew more about him, but right now part of it's blank.

    Johnson: And there were really a lot of them. When you investigate, there were quite a few. How about a tin whistle?

    Gregg: No.

    Johnson: An auto harp? They now have auto harps they play for the children who come to the Museum, but it seems a lot of people didn't have them, generally.

    Gregg: Right now everything is keyboards.

    Johnson: Yes. A flute, anybody play a flute that you know of?

    Gregg: No, I don't remember anyone.

    Johnson: Or a guitar?

    Gregg: No.
  • Knitting and sewing traditions; showing Mrs. Johnson a coat her daughter made
    Keywords: Accidents; Coats; Handicraft; Knitting; Medical care; Sewing; Sewing machines
    Transcript: Johnson: Knitting, they want to know something about knitting. Do you remember anyone who knit?

    Gregg: I have knit back as long as I can remember, since I was about sixteen years old. I told you about me living with a doctor's wife when my family came here. She taught me to knit and I have knit hundreds of sweaters, dresses, coats and everything. Right now I'm knitting a little doll sweater about that big.

    Johnson: Yes, I notice you knitted that scarf, that little shawl that was on your doll and the sweaters. How about Mrs. Gregg, your husband's mother, did she knit at all?

    Gregg: Yes, she knit a lot, but she couldn't read the instructions, she'd have to - a lot of times she'd come out to me to read the instructions. You'd tell her what to do by reading it, but she couldn't read it and do it herself, I don't know why, but she couldn't.

    Johnson: Could she read other things like a book or a newspaper or was...

    Gregg: No she wouldn't - she'd read it, but she...

    Johnson: It wouldn't make sense.

    Gregg: I think it was because she'd lose her place, you know, I think she just didn't mark it some way so she could follow instructions. But every time she'd see something new she wanted to knit, she'd call up and see if I could help her.

    Johnson: Well some people don't really like to read how to do things, it's much easier to have somebody show them, maybe that was the reason.

    Gregg: She could read, it wasn't because she couldn't read, but I don't know, she just couldn't...

    Johnson: Get instructions.

    Gregg: instructions right.

    Johnson: I think you mentioned a sewing machine, did you have a sewing machine?

    Gregg: Yes.

    Johnson: Did Mrs. Gregg have a sewing machine?

    Gregg: Yes, she had one.

    Johnson: Do you remember what it was like?

    Gregg: Pedals, you know, working the pedals.

    Johnson: Yes, well electricity didn't come in until quite late.

    Gregg: Until electric came on. I remember my Mother, I was real small, my mother run the needle through her finger.

    Johnson: From the machine? Oh dear.

    Gregg: She had a bone felon, I remember the term, they called it a bone felon. Did you ever hear that word?

    Johnson: No, I didn't.

    Gregg: And, oh, I remember her walking the floor at night. We didn't have doctors, or hospitals then like they have now. The first thing they'd do was take them to the hospital if you run a needle right through the bone in your finger. But my father finally took her to the doctor and I don't remember what he did, told her to put something on it, and gave her something to take. But she walked the floor night and day I know for several days with the pain in that hand. And cried, she just cried, I remember. It's terrible painful.

    Johnson: Yes, I bet.

    Gregg: Yes, she sewed a lot. I just learned from her I guess. But my daughter never took any lessons and right now she can make beautiful things. She makes coats and suits and everything. She made me a red corduroy coat a couple of...

    Johnson: She's never had a lesson?

    [Mrs. Gregg goes to get the coat to show Mrs. Johnson.]

    Gregg: It's really a nice coat.

    Johnson: That's lovely, beautiful work, it's lined and interlined.

    Gregg: The way she did the seams and all and she lined it. I'm too big for it now, I can't wear it, but it is a nice coat.

    Johnson: So pretty, yes.

    Gregg: Pockets in it.

    Johnson: That was a work of love.

    Gregg: I'll bet it would fit you, maybe not, I don't know.

    Johnson: Yes, it's very comfortable.

    Gregg: Would you wear it if I gave it to you? Because I've got to get rid of it, I can't wear it. It's a shame to let it stay there in the corner. Maybe you know somebody it would fit.

    Johnson: I love it, but I think you should keep it for sentimental reasons.

    Gregg: Well, no, she wouldn't want me to. She said if I knew of anybody it would fit, give it to them.

    Johnson: It's too beautiful to keep.

    Gregg: Well that's all right, if you can wear it. It's too tight for me.

    Johnson: You know it looks so nice on you, you might lose a little weight, but you can leave it to me in your will or something [laugh].

    Gregg: Well, I'll make a decision. Very shortly in the near future, I've got to get rid of an awful lot of stuff in this house. I told Vera the other day, I gave away two coats.

    Johnson: It is a beautiful coat and it looks so nice on you. It's so pretty.

    Gregg: She's made herself some beautiful suits. And she never had any lessons that I know.

    Johnson: Did they have lessons for sewing in school at that time?

    Gregg: Not that I know of.

    Johnson: That is a beautiful coat.

    Gregg: I wish you'd take it because it's just hanging there and nobody's gonna...

    Johnson: I think you should keep it until...

    Gregg: No, you take it because it's got to come out of that closet very soon.

    Johnson: Did I ask you about newspapers? Did you take a newspaper?

    Gregg: I don't remember.

    Johnson: I think you did.
  • Her mother making root beer and her father making applejack; relative drowning in a rain barrel; childhood clambakes in Connecticut and Delaware
    Keywords: applejack; Children--Death; Clambakes; Cooking (Jelly); Drowning; Eels; Fishing; root beer
    Transcript: Johnson: I want to ask you if you drank tea. Did you have iced tea in the summertime?

    Gregg: Iced tea? I remember my mother used to make root beer quite a lot. I remember she had to put it out in the yard in the sun and let it lay there and they had to let it set for two or three days before it got a little zin to it or something. I remember that, making that.

    Johnson: You're the first person that told me that she kept it outdoors in the yard. Usually people said they kept it in the cellar.

    Gregg: Well she did, but she laid it out every day, every day the sun was shining, she'd put it out in the sun, but it was moved back in the cellar at night.

    Johnson: And how long would that keep, would it keep for...

    Gregg: Quite a while. It could keep too long, too.

    Johnson: And it would spoil?

    Gregg: Yeah.

    Johnson: Did you have plants indoors, houseplants? Like we have today.

    Gregg: I never had too many 'cause I didn't ever have room for them. Same way in this house, there's no - I have no room - that thing, I pretty near forgot it yesterday. It started drooping and I put water on it, but it'll come back all right. But I don't have any good windowsills for plants.

    Johnson: Did they have a window box at the house that you lived in?

    Gregg: Yeah, I've had window boxes out front until this last year, I didn't bother. My husband was in the nursing home, and I just couldn't manage those things myself.

    Johnson: Did they have them years ago, would Mrs. Gregg's house have had them?

    Gregg: Oh yeah.

    Johnson: What did she grow in it?

    Gregg: Geraniums and a little blue flower - ageratum I think it was called. Mostly geraniums and ageratum and some green stuff of some kind.

    Johnson: They look pretty together.

    Gregg: Yeah, it was very pretty.

    Johnson: How about a grape arbor, did they have a grape arbor?

    Gregg: We had a grape arbor when we lived in Mystic, Connecticut. It was a big one, it was from the house down either side of a walk to the outside house, the outhouse. And it was a big arbor.

    Johnson: Did your mother make jelly from that?

    Gregg: Oh yes.

    Johnson: Did your father ever make wine from grapes?

    Gregg: Not there.

    Johnson: Did he later on?

    Gregg: When we lived out there. One time he made some applejack I think it was called. It got too strong or something and my sister was out there one night and she drank a glass of it, we were playing cards that night. There was quite a group of us and she got tipsy, in other words. Her husband had to take her home. Well my father never made any more after that. Because, I guess you weren't supposed to do that, but I know he was afraid that - they got to talking about what a good time they had, you know, and they wanted to come out again and get some of my father's applejack. He said it was just getting out of hand, he didn't make it. I don't know what he did it for anyway, of course we had a lot of apples and he didn't know what to do with them.

    Johnson: Yes. And maybe it was to keep it. Of course cider, you could make cider, but it wouldn't keep for very long.

    Gregg: Yes, I don't know.

    Johnson: Just for fun. Some of the workers, they said, made their own. If they came from a country that had wine to grow grapes, but this was in the 1870's when it was hard to go shopping or get grapes downtown. What about lawns, did they have lawns at that time - grass, lawns?

    Gregg: I don't recall anything particular.

    Johnson: It seems like they didn't have it the way they have it today, tended to have a front yard with weeds. What did you wear when it rained? Did you have a raincoat and rubbers?

    Gregg: Oh yeah, galoshes.

    Johnson: Did you have, as a child - yes. Did you collect rain water?

    Gregg: No, I didn't, but my mother-in-law's sister did, Aunt Cora, she lived right over there by Mt. Salem Lane. I don't know whether that was the house she lived in when she had - she had eight girls and a boy, and that little boy was about three or four years old and he fell in the rain barrel and drowned. It was at the corner of the house and the rain came down and it hit that barrel. And evidently he climbed up on there and slipped and fell in head first. I remember them telling about that.

    Johnson: That's the first time I've ever heard of anything like that.

    Gregg: The only boy and they thought it was a terrible thing, eight girls.

    Johnson: Oh what a shame.

    Gregg: He was the pride and joy of the family, you know, and then to be taken like that.

    Johnson: What was his name, do you know that?

    Gregg: Hawk. I don't know what the little boy's name was, but Cora Hawk. Her name was Miller before she was married.

    Johnson: Did the Greggs, or your own family, have anything that they had brought from...

    Gregg: I'm wrong about that. She had eight sisters, she didn't have eight children, because she only had three children, I think there was, two boys - ni, couldn't have been Aunt Cora because - it was her mother, Aunt Cora's mother, that's what I - she had the eight girls and I know that boy, so it wasn't Aunt Cora, the child. Nephew, wouldn't it be? There's something not quite right there. But that's what it is, she was one of the eight girls. It was her brother that died.

    Johnson: Probably his name would have been Miller then. If her maiden name was Miller, his name must have been Miller. And they might know something about that, maybe someone else has told them about this. That would be a tragedy, you would remember it.

    Gregg: Most all of those girls are gone now.

    Johnson: Yes. Did either your family or the Greggs have family heirlooms you remember seeing - heirlooms that they might have treasured from the Old Country or had a long time?

    Gregg: I don't think so.

    Johnson: Did you ever go fishing?

    Gregg: I used to go fishing a lot when we lived down Lewes, we lived down Lewes about 25 years ago - oh more than that, we've lived in this house - it was before we moved here.

    Johnson: I remember you told me you didn't really enjoy living in Lewes.

    Gregg: Yeah, my husband had a boat, just a small open boat with a motor on the back of it and he used to take the kids skiing, water skiing a lot. He had one of the fastest motor boats down there.

    Johnson: I guess they enjoyed that - skiing, yes. What was Lewes like at that time?

    Gregg: Oh, just about the same as it is now. Hasn't changed much I don't think. Unless it's changed in the last two or three years, I haven't been down there lately.

    Johnson: How about eels, do you remember having eels to eat?

    Gregg: I remember it. I remember hearing about it, but...

    Johnson: Did they catch those in the Brandywine?

    Gregg: My father went fishing one time and he got some eels. They ate them, but I wouldn't eat them.

    Johnson: I don't think I'd eat them either.

    Gregg: All I could think of was snakes.

    Johnson: Did they have snakes in the powder yards, did you ever hear stories about that?

    Gregg: I don't remember too much about snakes. Had little grass snakes when we lived out Marshallton, but I was afraid of those, I threw a rock at them.

    Johnson: Yes, I think they're harmless anyway. Did you grow herbs in your garden?

    Gregg: Not really.

    Johnson: I think you told me about picnics. Where did you have your picnics?

    Gregg: In the backyard.

    Johnson: Would you have barbecues the way we have now, cook outdoors?

    Gregg: No. We had a couple of clambakes one time. My father made them because we used to make them up in Connecticut. Dig a big hole in the ground and put rocks down in there. First they had a bonfire, they'd let that bonfire burn all night long, get those rock hot, and put them in the bottom of it. I forget what else was put in there, but I know they put corn, had the husks, I remember helping to pull the husks, pull them down and get the silk, and then bring a couple of the shells up and tie them in case...

    Johnson: You wanted to get the silk off so you wouldn't chew on that, yes.

    Gregg: And some of the things that were put in there were wrapped in cheesecloth, but I forget what it was, but I know they put everything on those rocks. I think, if I remember right, on top of the rocks they poured clams, in the shell, and then on top of that something else, and then there was chicken and fish and potatoes and things like that. And then it was all covered over, sealed all over with a big piece of canvas he used to throw over it and then sit there and wait for hours and hours and hours, but that stuff was really good when he took it all out. I remember them, clambakes.

    Johnson: Yes, I've heard they were really good. Do you remember something called Holly Island, did you ever hear of that?

    Gregg: Coney Island?

    Johnson: Holly, H-O-L-L-Y, like the tree. It was right in the middle of the Brandywine, it was a little space. I guess some people used to swim out there and maybe just pretend they were camping out.

    Gregg: No.
  • Thanksgiving and Easter traditions; plucking turkeys and chickens; pets; her in-laws' house on 18th Street
    Keywords: 18th Street (Wilmington, Del.); Brinckle Avenue (Wilmington, Del.); Cooking (Poultry); Dyes and dyeing; Easter; Easter eggs; Feral dogs; household storage; Mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law; Pet accidents; Pets; plucking turkeys and chickens; Thanksgiving cooking; Wallpaper
    Transcript: Johnson: And you told me about your feather bed.

    Gregg: Oh yes, I remember that.

    Johnson: And the storage of milk - did you store it in the cellar - right?

    Gregg: Yeah, for a while, but then we got an ice box. I remember we got an ice box. The iceman would come around - ten cents for a piece this size and twenty cents for a piece about that size, big block, and put it in there.

    Johnson: Did you ever do any gambling or hear of anyone who did gambling?

    Gregg: No.

    Johnson: And did anyone smoke that you knew of?

    Gregg: My father smoked a pipe.

    Johnson: How about any of the Greggs, did they smoke?

    Gregg: I don't think recall any of them smoking at all.

    Johnson: Did they chew tobacco?

    Gregg: No.

    Johnson: How about men's hats, did they wear hats regularly?

    Gregg: Just - I don't know what you call them.

    Johnson: Yes, 'course you wore them when you worked in the powder yard, you wore those hats to keep your...

    Gregg: They don't wear hats anymore, I think it's awful. People go out in the cold, cold weather without any hats, and they would be so much warmer. I have a little fur hat that I've been wearing and I think it was day before yesterday I went over to the nursing home without it and my head was so stuffed up that night. And the doctor told me not to go out without a hat on my head, I've got this little sinus trouble. Doesn't bother me, only just if like that and I go out in the cold, and I was really plugged up. Yesterday I told my daughter, my daughter came over and we went out shopping for a while, I said, "I feel awful wearing this little fur hat, but I'm gonna wear because I know what's gonna happen if I don't." So I put it on, I put it on last night when I went over there and I thought - I'm the only one comes over here with a hat on, I'm just gonna forget it, I've got to take care of myself.

    Johnson: How about Thanksgiving, did you...

    Gregg: Oh yeah, that was always a big turkey. In those times they didn't have as many turkeys during the week, I think, like they do now. They have turkey any time of the year.

    Johnson: That's right.

    Gregg: But it used to be just Thanksgiving and Christmas and it was a big deal, big Thanksgiving dinner with all the vegetables - pies and cakes.

    Johnson: And you'd plan ahead for it.

    Gregg: Yes, family usually gets together.

    Johnson: Did the Greggs sell turkeys in their store?

    Gregg: Yeah, many a turkey I've cleaned for my husband when he had a store over there. He wouldn't clean a chicken or a turkey.

    Johnson: Oh, and you had to do the cleaning?

    Gregg: I had to do it all. I didn't mind it.

    Johnson: Yes, and now they come all cleaned, guess they've been done by machine, it's so different. Did you ever sell them uncleaned or did everybody who bought them want them cleaned?

    Gregg: Most of them wanted them clean.

    Johnson: Did you have anything help get the feathers off?

    Gregg: No.

    Johnson: How did you do it, just pull them out?

    Gregg: Just like that. Oh my father showed me how to grab up close and get them out. I think he used to duck them in hot water if I remember right, a bucket that he dumped them in hot water, then pulled them.

    Johnson: Did you save the feathers, then, to use in a feather bed?

    Gregg: No.

    Johnson: Not any more. Did you have to cut the insides out and clean them and everything?

    Gregg: I wouldn't like to do it now, but I used to do it.

    Johnson: It doesn't bother you, I think, when you're into it, only if you think about it. And we talked about the Fourth of July and Christmas - how about Easter, do you remember what you did for Easter?

    Gregg: We used to have Easter dinner, but not like they used to at Thanksgiving and Christmas, it was different.

    Johnson: How about dressing, did you have a special Easter hat?

    Gregg: Oh yes, the children all had to have outfits, you know, to go to Sunday School.

    Johnson: Did you dye eggs for them?

    Gregg: Oh yeah, they dyed eggs.

    Johnson: Now when you were a child, did you dye eggs too?

    Gregg: M-huh.

    Johnson: And do you remember what the dye was like? How did you go about it?

    Gregg: No, I don't think they had such elaborate things as they have now, it was just dye them pink and blue. I don't remember where we got the dye, but I remember having a bowl of that colored dye in it and we'd just drop the egg in it and then take it out. We usually had it all over our hands when we got through, and all over our clothes too, I guess, when we were smaller.

    Johnson: I guess many years ago they probably just dyed it in vinegar or beet juice or something. I read that you could dye them in beet juice, but it didn't work for me - just sort of an off color.

    Gregg: Well they do that now, but they have to be shelled, you know, to get the dye in the egg, hardboiled eggs, after you shell them, that's when they dye them.

    Johnson: Oh, shell it, maybe that was the trouble.

    Gregg: They had them in market sometimes.

    Johnson: Yes, now did the Gregg store sell Easter egg dye, would you know that?

    Gregg: No. Might have sold a few jelly beans and stuff like that, but not anything else - baskets or anything.

    Johnson: I think they're doing more of that now than they used to do. How about chocolate rabbits, would they have something that?

    Gregg: Chocolate what?

    Johnson: Chocolate rabbits, those big chocolate rabbits, they're still selling those. You told me about your pets, you had a dog at one time. Did you have a dog? What was he like?

    Gregg: Yeah-we had two or three dogs when we were out there in the country. Most of them were stray dogs that come around. My father used to say, "Don't feed the dogs and then you won't be stuck with them." They'd come around and they looked like they were lost, and I'd feed them and then they'd never go away. I remember one little dog came out there, and I don't know what it was, something like a Collie, I don't know what it was, but it was out on the side - we had a porch on the side and he was out there at the porch door and I saw him and went out. And the poor little thing was so skinny, oh he was skinny, so I got some dog food and fixed it for him and my father says, "You'll never get rid of that dog now that you've fed it." And you know he was real good with the children, my two girls were real small. We had a barn, I guess it was a barn at one time, but my husband fixed it so we used it for a garage. One part of it had a sliding door, you know. My kids were down there playing one day and they had the dog with them, and this tramp came to the door and he came up the road and that dog jumped out of that thing and he just stood in front of that door. He was gonna go into the garage where the kids were, and he stood there and he growled and carried on so bad, I went out to see what was wrong. When he saw me he started running and he ran up the road. And I often thought what might have happened if that dog hadn't been there, you don't know what he might have done.

    Johnson: Yes.

    Gregg: So I didn't feel so bad about taking the dog in there. We had that dog for quite a few years, and then he just disappeared. My father said sometimes when dogs get sick, they won't die at home, they will go away off somewhere.

    Johnson: They seem to want to to in the woods, don't they, and not let...

    Gregg: We thought that he must have just strayed off somewhere and died.

    Johnson: Yes, but dogs are lovable.

    Gregg: And we had a police dog, Peggy we called her. She had puppies - she had four little puppies and they were only a couple of days old and it was Fourth of July, and the kids were throwing these little firecrackers in the air and she came up from the backyard and my brother threw one and she jumped up and grabbed it and it went off in her mouth and it blew all of her teeth - they were just all hanging loose.

    Johnson: Oh dear.

    Gregg: And my brother-in-law, he wanted to take her out back and shoot her and we wouldn't let him do it. I said "We'll take care of her." So I used to take canned dog food and open it and put a lot of milk in it and make it real sloppy, you know, and she could lap that up, but she couldn't eat anything. She kept enough that she fed those puppies and took care of them, but everybody - all the kids were crying. It was awful, teeth were just all hanging loose - right off in her mouth. It's a wonder it didn't kill her.

    Johnson: I can just see a dog doing that, if something goes by they - and we mentioned the poisonous snakes, you didn't see those - popcorn - did you ever make sachet, sachet or anything to smell good? Wine and beer, we mentioned that. Did you ever hear about any crime in the area?

    Gregg: Not really.

    Johnson: I think we discussed all the furnishings that you remember, the settee in the kitchen and all. Did they have wallpaper on the...

    Gregg: I did more wallpapering, I'll bet, than a lot of the wallpaperers around here. My sister and I used to love to do it. And we kept our house, every room papered, and she kept every room in her house papered, and we did that. My daughter does it now. She just papered her - up at Brandywood - she's got a big hallway with a stair and she did that whole hallway. I don't know she did it, but she did it, all by herself. And it's beautiful.

    Johnson: How about the Gregg's house - did they live over the store at that time?

    Gregg: No, no.

    Johnson: No, they lived in a separate house.

    Gregg: This is Brinckle Avenue, and the house faces 18th Street and the store was right here at the back of the house, but it faced Brinckle, a little side street up there.

    Johnson: Yes, that must have been much nicer having a separate house.

    Gregg: Oh it was just a one-story building. It had a pull-down stairway that had an upstairs storage.

    Johnson: But they just stored things up there?

    Gregg: M-huh.

    Johnson: Would you remember what some of the - were you up there in the storage area? What did they have?

    Gregg: Well, I know when we lived with Pete's mother for a while, then we went in an apartment and I had dishes and a lot of cooking utensils and broom and mop and things like that, and we stored them up there until we got another place to live. I was pretty put out because his youngest daughter got married and my mother-in-law told her to go ahead and take the dishes that were up there. And I went up to get them and they were gone, and I said something and she said, "Oh, I gave those to Evelyn, I didn't think you wanted them."

    Johnson: Oh.

    Gregg: I didn't like it, but I didn't say anything. Yes, she helped herself to a lot of things up there.
  • Quilting, dancing, trips to Riverview Beach, carnivals, and snow
    Keywords: Amusement parks; Carnivals; Circus; Dance; Folk dancing, Irish; Gunpowder industry; Quilting; Quiltmakers; Riverview Beach Park (N.J.); Snow; Weddings
    Transcript: Johnson: How about quilts, did anyone make a quilt?

    Gregg: Yeah, I made quilts. I've got one upstairs that my grandchildren made for me a couple of years ago. It's all done but finishing the outside edge. It's all different colors, mostly in blues. The lining and the outside, it's not fastened. It has to be turned in, both sides, and sewn. We spoke about that a couple of weeks ago. One of the girls said something, "We're gonna get together some day and finish that quilt." I thought like saying, "Yeah, you better 'cause time's going fast, I may not get to even use it."

    Johnson: That would be terrible.

    Gregg: My mother used to make a lot of quilts.

    Johnson: It seems to be coming back too. They had a display at the Art Museum with all these quilts not long ago.

    Gregg: I don't have any, not in use.

    Johnson: Didn't save any. Did she have those great big frames and would she just quilt with...

    Gregg: No, we didn't have a frame. We took it upstairs and laid it on the floor. Upstairs is all one big room, and they took it up and laid it on the floor. We had two playpens up there with the babies in it and it was all down on the floor working on the quilt.

    Johnson: It must have been fun.

    Gregg: They couldn't put it now because I've got more furniture up there. I've got a double bed up there and a set of twin beds up there. And when I have company, why requires sleeping in it.

    Johnson: Yes, that's nice, isn't it, that's one nice thing about having a home. How about square dancing, did you do that?

    Gregg: No. When I was about sixteen, I went to a couple of square dances and I enjoyed it, but I kinda got away from it.

    Johnson: And you told me about your first car rides. How about jigs, do you remember if they did jig dancing, dance a jig?

    Gregg: No, but you know they do something like that now, my sister's boy, he never took a lesson in his life and he plays the violin and he's got a little group himself that go around to dances, and he and his wife, they can do jigs and all kinds of fancy little steps. I just love to watch them, the music's very catchy.

    Johnson: Yes, they have - have you heard about Irish Day which they have at the Museum?

    Gregg: No.

    Johnson: Well they have a demonstration of dancing, Irish dancing there too, and you would enjoy seeing that. Maybe your granddaughter could take you to Irish Day, I'll tell her about it.

    Gregg: Maybe Chris might know how to do it.

    Johnson: Yes. Even if you just came for a little while, you might enjoy it.

    Gregg: When they got married they went up to - you know that railroad train that goes up from over there at Marshallton - the railroad train - they got on that train, took the whole wedding party and they went up to the end of the line and that's where they had their services, up there. And it was so quiet and peaceful, you could hear the birds singing, but it was so different, you couldn't hear any traffic or anything. It was really very beautiful. And then they went up to that - Oh what's that place called? It's up there somewhere, some kind of a building, can't think of it now, but that's where they had the reception and they had that dancing up there.

    Johnson: Now who was this?

    Gregg: My sister's youngest boy. He was married about - well it's been four or five years now. It was very strange.

    Johnson: But nice. And you told me about the night...

    Gregg: Their wedding invitations, she made them and it was a picture of a - they had a platform just about this high, they had a round platform, then they had another little platform in the top that had a circle and he stood up in there and he has a big derby hat on and he's standing up in the top of that big hat and around the bottom, the girls that were in the wedding, they're standing - it's just like a great big cake, and these girls are - and then they took pictures of it and they had them printed on their - it's weird looking, but we thought...

    Johnson: Yes, but sort of nice.

    Gregg: Crazy ideas, but it was different and they enjoyed it, it was really something.

    Johnson: And the ceremony was really outdoors too.

    Gregg: Right.

    Johnson: Weddings have gotten more interesting.

    Gregg: Oh, that place up there. It was just on my tongue every once in a while. I have quite a lot of things going on up there. Isn't that awful?

    Johnson: It may come to you. How about sleigh rides, did you have sleigh rides?

    Gregg: No, I don't remember a sleigh.

    Johnson: And you said you went to Riverview Beach. What was that like at the time?

    Gregg: Just a beach. A few stores, not many, just a few stores.

    Johnson: Did they have swings and things there?

    Gregg: I don't remember that.

    Johnson: A bathhouse?

    Gregg: Yes, they did have a park there because we used to go over there for a lot of picnics.

    Johnson: Would you swim in the river there?

    Gregg: Yeah.

    Johnson: What was it like, was it pleasant or was it...

    Gregg: Yeah, it was nice.

    Johnson: Did you swim certain strokes or anything like that?

    Gregg: Same as they do now. I think they used to swim breast stroke, I think they used to do that more than they did the overstroke.

    Johnson: My mother used to say she liked to do that. And did they have a bathhouse then where you could change your clothes?

    Gregg: I don't remember that, they must have had some place there.

    Johnson: Did they sell any kind of food there?

    Gregg: Possibly, but I don't recall it, I just remember going over there.

    Johnson: How about a circus, did they have any circuses?

    Gregg: Yeah, they used to have circuses a lot.

    Johnson: Where would that be - downtown?

    Gregg: Different lots, different places, never had it the same place twice. Carnivals, they'd have carnivals around.

    Johnson: Did you ever hear about any floods in the area?

    Gregg: No, nothing real bad.

    Johnson: How about fires?

    Gregg: I don't remember any big fires either.

    Johnson: I think you told me they cleaned the privies, did they have a company come and clean - and you said your father cleaned them also?

    Gregg: And outside.

    Johnson: I think we have pretty well covered all these questions. Any problems with snow, we have snow removal?

    Gregg: No, but it seems to me we used to have more snow than they do now because I often remember snow two feet deep at least several times. I think the times have changed, you know, weather conditions. Because we don't have big snowstorms like they used to.

    Johnson: Yes, a lot of people have said that.

    Gregg: And it seems to me it used to start in November, we most always had snow for Thanksgiving, but now you don't see that much snow. Course it was up, further up north, and maybe that had a lot to do with it, I don't know.

    Johnson: Yes, your memories would be also of Connecticut which is a little colder. How about men's groups, did your husband belong to a union or a fraternal group?

    Gregg: No, he belonged to a - I don't know what it was called now. I don't know whether it was a fire group, I forget. He belonged to some club.

    Johnson: They had the Masons and the Oddfellows and the Redmen. Or a church group maybe?

    Gregg: No, I don't recall that.

    Johnson: Well, I think we've pretty well covered these. There were a few things about working for the Company, which you really wouldn't have been involved with.

    Gregg: I wasn't over there long enough, you know, to get too much information. I was only over there a couple of weeks.

    Johnson: How about those donkey carts that you mentioned?

    Gregg: When you mentioned that track, I saw it in there, I don't remember those tracks. They might possibly have been there, but I don't think they were. Because I remember the straw and the - well I guess most of it was straw that that donkey walked in and pulling that cart and I don't recall any tracks at all. There might possibly have been tracks there, but I don't recall.

    Johnson: Yes, I think your telling about the donkeys is interesting, it's the first time that I've heard that they had those.

    Gregg: Well, it might not have been a donkey. It might have been - I don't remember it being a horse, it seemed to me it was smaller than a horse.

    Johnson: It seems as if you saw it, it must have been.

    Gregg: It might have been a pony, I don't know, but I know it was an animal.

    Johnson: Well thank you very much, Mrs. Gregg.

    Gregg: Well, if I was any help, I'm glad.

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