Interview with Mary Braden Jackson, 1986 June 8 [audio](part 1)

Hagley ID:
  • Her birth in Chicken Alley in 1895 to Irish and Scottish immigrant parents; listing her sisters and parents dates of birth and grandparents' names
    Keywords: Chicken Alley (Del. : Village); Children of immigrants; Emigration and immigration; Henry Clay (Del. : Village); Immigrant families; Irish immigrants; Squirrel Run (Del. : Village)
    Transcript: Bennett: My name is Peggy Bennett, Mrs. Jackson, and it's nice to be with you today, and this is June 8, 1986, and I'm going to start by asking you your name, and would you please spell your maiden name, your surname, and also the Jackson, please.

    Jackson: Tell me when to go.

    Bennett: Okay.

    Jackson: My name is Mary Braden Jackson, Braden is spelled B-R-A-D-E-N, Jackson - J-A-C-K-S-O-N.

    Bennett: And would you give me your address, please?

    Jackson: Newark Nursing Home.

    Bennett: All right, okay - it's at 254 West Main Street, and their phone number here would be 731-5576. I'd like to first of all ask you in which villages did you live?

    Jackson: In three villages.

    Bennett: In three villages - would you name them for me please?

    Jackson: I lived in Chicken Alley, was born in Chicken Alley, beside the Black Gates, and right up from the estate of Mrs. Crowninshield.

    Bennett: Would you - can you tell me when that was? The dates, and how long...

    Jackson: Yes, December 17, 1895.

    Bennett: You were born there?

    Jackson: That's right.

    Bennett: And how long did you live there?

    Jackson: We lived there til I was two years old. My mother died in 1897. Then we moved to the Long Row, along the creek, right down from the black powder yard. My father thought it was shorter to get to the home where he had six orphans living - my oldest sister, Jane Braden McClaren, was keeping house and looking after the children - I was two years old.

    Bennett: And how long did you live there?

    Jackson: We lived there until 1902.

    Bennett: And then where did you move to?

    Jackson: We moved up to Squirrel Run, to a six-room house.

    Bennett: Okay, and how long did you live there?

    Jackson: We lived there until 1913 or '14, could have been '15, in around '13 to '15.

    Bennett: Would you tell me your Father's name, please?

    Jackson: Yes, Henry Braden.

    Bennett: Henry Braden - where was he born?

    Jackson: In Ireland.

    Bennett: Do you know where?

    Jackson: Yes, he was born in a little town called Mulville near Londonderry and they had a farm. They lived on a farm.

    Bennett: All right - and when was he born?

    Jackson: He was born in 1851, October 25.

    Bennett: And do you know when he came to the United States?

    Jackson: He came out in 1881 in 1880 or '81.

    Bennett: Okay, and what did he do in the Yards - what was his job?

    Jackson: The month?

    Bennett: Where did he work at the Hagley Yards - what was his job?

    Jackson: He took care - he was a fireman and an engineer. He took care of three boilers and took care of a stationary engine.

    Bennett: Okay. Now, your mother , what was your mother's name?

    Jackson: My mother's name was Eliza, or Elizabeth , I guess, but we called her Eliza Baxter Braden.

    Bennett: And where was she born?

    Jackson: She was born in Edinburgh, Scotland.

    Bennett: And her date of birth?

    Jackson: Her date of birth was 18 - was February 29, 1853.

    Bennett: Do you know when she came to the United States?

    Jackson: She came with my father.

    Bennett: Okay, they were married?

    Jackson: They were married and had two children in Scotland, and my father came out first.

    Bennett: Okay - they were married and then he came, and then he sent for them?

    Jackson: Yes.

    Bennett: When did she come over, then, do you know that?

    Jackson: About - let me see, about '81, about the last of '81.

    Bennett: Did she work outside of the home, at Chicken Alley, did she do any jobs for the Company?

    Jackson: Heavens no.

    Bennett: Well, some of them did, you know [laughs].

    Jackson: She had six children.

    Bennett: But, it's a standard question.

    Jackson: Well years ago the wives didn't work you know.

    Bennett: I think that's very true. Would you name your brothers and your sisters?

    Jackson: I have no brothers.

    Bennett: All right.

    Jackson: But I have sisters. There was six of us lived, there was five that died.

    Bennett: Would you name them by - let's say the ones that were born in Ireland - would you name it that way and then go down the list?

    Jackson: None were born in Ireland.

    Bennett: They were all born in the United States?

    Johnson: The oldest sister was Jane Kane Braden McLaren.

    Bennett: And when was she born?

    Johnson: She was born September 20, 1880.

    Bennett: At Chicken Alley?

    Johnson: No, no — in Scotland.

    Bennett: Oh, okay — she was born in Scotland - and the next one?

    Johnson: Was Elizabeth Baxter Braden Woodward, and she was born in Camden in 1884.

    Bennett: Okay - the next one?

    Johnson: The next one was Isabella Baxter Braden Gray, and she was born January 8, 1888.

    Bennett: And the next one?

    Johnson: The next one was Ellen Torp Braden Maxwell — she was born on May 7, 1890.

    Bennett: Okay — and the next one?

    Johnson: The next one was Charlotte Braden Maxwell.

    Bennett: And when was she born?

    Johnson: She was born June 20, 1896.

    Bennett: All-righty - is that the last?

    Johnson: No, no she was born in '94.

    Bennett: Ninety— four.

    Johnson: One year older than me. And I was born - and then there was Mary Braden Jackson, born December 17, 1895.

    Bennett: You're the last of the Mohicans?

    Johnson: Yes.

    Bennett: Do you know your grandfather's names and where they were born?

    Johnson: My father's, I'll name him to you first — my father's father was Samuel Braden.

    Bennett: Did he come to the United States?

    Johnson: Yes, he was born — no, no, he never come to the United States. He was born in Ireland.

    Bennett: And he stayed there?

    Johnson: Stayed there, and his mother's name was Jane Kane Braden.

    Bennett: And they remained - she remained in Ireland as well?

    Johnson: Yes.

    Bennett: And how about your grandmother — your grandmother's family?

    Johnson: My mother's family?

    Bennett: Yes, your mother's family, excuse me.

    Johnson: My mother's father was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, her father was William James Baxter. And then the mother was - his mother was Margaret Moles Braden.

    Bennett: Did they come to the United States? Or did they remain...

    Johnson: No — Margaret Moles Baxter.

    Bennett: Baxter, okay.

    Johnson: No.

    Bennett: No, they stayed in — all right.

    Johnson: Edinburgh, Scotland.

    Bennett: My next question would be - do you know of anybody else that would be available for interviews like we're doing today, other than I think I've mentioned some of the ladies we've spoken to?

    Johnson: Well I, there was a Leon Antwine was born up in Squirrel Run, or lived up in Squirrel Run. I think they come from France, they were French. But I heard he's been in bad health, now whether he's died since then, I've never noticed.

    Bennett: How do you spell the last name?

    Johnson: Antwine - A-N-T-R-I-W-N-E.
  • Identifying men in a photograph, likely of Green and Wilson's Keg Shop on Charles's Banks on page 61 of "The Workers' World at Hagley" by Glenn Porter
    Keywords: Company--Employees; E.I. du Pont de Nemours & amp
    Transcript: Bennett: Okay, all righty — do you have any pictures or letters or anything like that that your family had?

    Johnson: No.

    Bennett: Sometimes that clues you into so many little areas like, let's say up Chicken Alley and so forth. I have a few pictures - normally I would go on with questions, but I understand that somebody that you knew is in - or you know some of these people in these pictures?

    Johnson: The one that was in the newspaper, I knew some.

    Bennett: Okay, I brought that in a magazine and I brought a magnifying glass - where did I put it? And if so, I'm gonna have to carefully write this - or number it off for you.

    [Unidentified man]: I think she named everyone in that picture to me.

    Bennett: Well, that would be exciting.

    [Unidentified man]: She even picked her father out.

    Johnson: That picture was in the newspaper. Old machine shop, Hagley Yards.

    Bennett: Can you identify some of the - and if you can, Mrs. Jackson, I'm gonna - we'll start from the left and go over.

    [Unidentified man]: Got enough light, Mary?

    [Unidentified woman]: Let me turn her around so the light's coming.

    Bennett: More to the light?

    [Unidentified woman]: Yes - it's coming over her shoulder, she has a glare.

    Bennett: There's a glare there, yes - that makes it difficult.

    [Unidentified woman]: Does that help any or not, or is that darker?

    Johnson: No, no. Looks like a different picture to me.

    Bennett: It is a different one than the one that was in the paper. That's the machine shop - the other one was at the Keg Shop, if I remember correctly, and I do have that with me in a book.

    [Unidentified woman]: You have an awful glare there.

    Johnson: Where are those glasses?

    [Unidentified woman]: Right over here, 'cause there's a terrific glare coming in that window.

    Johnson: Where are we going?

    [Unidentified woman]: Right under - somebody try her under...[crosstalk]

    Bennett: It was so shiny, I couldn't even see - was that you?

    Johnson: Well this 'cause I know my father wasn't in this picture.

    Bennett: No - this is the picture that is even smaller, I'm sorry to say. This is the one I think your father's in.

    Johnson: Yes.

    Bennett: This one down - up here.

    Johnson: Oh, this one up here. Yes, he's on the end there with the derby hat on.

    Bennett: All righty, now, can you name other people in this, Mrs. Jackson? If so, I think we'll just count them off one by one.

    Johnson: Well, there's my father.

    Bennett: That's your father?

    Johnson: Henry Braden.

    Bennett: All right, starting on the left, it looks like he's wearing an apron? All right, and he's wearing a derby hat, that's your father?

    Johnson: Yes.

    Bennett: That's Harry Braden?

    Johnson: Henry Braden.

    Bennett: All right, and then ...

    Johnson: And the next one looks like - they called him Dickie Gamble.

    Bennett: Is that the one in the back, or the young one here?

    Johnson: The short one.

    Bennett: This one here in the front? Okay, that's a young person - what's his name?

    Johnson: They called him Dickie Gamble, I guess his name was Richard Gamble, proper name, I'm not sure.

    Bennett: Okay, that's right, just Dickie Gamble.

    Johnson: That next man, tall with a derby hat on is Bob Devenney.

    Bennett: This one here?

    Johnson: Yes, Bob Devenney.

    Bennett: Now wait, one— two— three - the fourth one over in sort of the back — that's Bob Devenney?

    Johnson: Yes, that's Bob Devenney.

    Bennett: Can you identify those two in between — those three?

    Johnson: That back one looks like Emil Cross, or Krauss.

    Bennett: Right here?

    Johnson: Yeah.

    Bennett: All right, we have his interview. This gentleman here with his hand in his pocket?

    Johnson: That looks like one of the Williams boys.

    Bennett: How about those two back there? I realize that's pretty small.

    Johnson: That's pretty small. There's a man holding his suspenders and that's Shields.

    Bennett: Right here?

    Johnson: Yes, you someone that's holding his suspenders out - that's Pat Shields.

    Bennett: Now just let me see which one you mean.

    Johnson: There's one in the paper was — that man's holding his suspenders.

    Bennett: Okay, yes he is, that's right - what's his name?

    Johnson: Yes, he's holding his suspenders. Pat Shields.

    Bennett: Now that's to the right, except by one - there's a space in between - okay, that's Pat Shields.

    Johnson: M-huh - that's the man holding - yeah, that's Pat Shields.

    Bennett: All right - can you identify any of those to his right, right there in between?

    Johnson: That one back with that big beard on him looks like Benny Watson.

    Bennett: Benny Watson?

    Johnson: Benny Watson - he run the glazing mill.

    Bennett: Okay. How about this gentleman with his arms folded?

    Johnson: He looks like Jack Miller.

    Bennett: Jack Miller.

    Johnson: M— huh, and his father - Miller, was boss of the machine shop.

    Bennett: All right.

    Johnson: This one sitting down.

    Bennett: Now there's three, four here, on the ground. Let's start with this one here, the first one on the left.

    Johnson: That looks like Joe Haley.

    Bennett: Joe Haley?

    Johnson: M— huh, boss of the Powder Yards.

    Bennett: Okay — and that looks like a child or young people.

    Johnson: That looks like a young boy - that might be one of the Millers might be Garnet Miller or the other small Miller boy — looks like Garnet Miller when he was a young boy.

    Bennett: And how about this one here? [Pause] If you don't, that's okay, you know more than most people do.

    Johnson: That looks like Joe Shepherd.

    Bennett: Joe Shepherd.

    Johnson: When he was young, Joe Shepherd, he worked in the machine - they work in - up there.

    Bennett: And how about this one there — can you identify that one?

    Johnson: He might be one of the younger Miller boys — what was his name? I'm not sure about him.

    Bennett: Okay, thank you.
  • Second photograph identification, possibly of the Old Machine Shop in Hagley Yard on page 51 of "The Workers' World"
    Keywords: Company--Employees; E.I. du Pont de Nemours & amp
    Transcript: Bennett: The other pictures there, would you look those over and see if there is anybody there that you might recognize.

    Johnson: Well one of the — the first man here look like Jack Miller that worked in the machine shop.

    Bennett: All right, now this is the machine shop picture — the first man on the left is Jack Miller?

    Johnson: Yeah, Jack Miller.

    Bennett: Who's next, if you know? We'll just go down the line and if you see somebody you know, why...

    Johnson: That looks, the second one looks like William McDowell; he worked in the powder yard. And that tall man looks like one of the Devenney's — could be George Devenney.

    Bennett: In the white shirt?

    Johnson: Yes, could be George Devenney or John Devenney, either. one of them, he looks like a Devenney for he's tall. You know there was a lot of in— town people who worked out there, too, that I didn't know.

    Bennett: Yes, yes, that's true.

    Johnson: This next man looks like a man that was called Alex Burns.

    Bennett: Show me Alex Burns.

    Johnson: Not that other tall one, but this one.

    Bennett: The fifth man?

    Johnson: Yeah, that one.

    Bennett: The fifth man there?

    Johnson: Yeah, looks like Alex Burns.

    Bennett: And the next one's a tall man, too.

    Johnson: Next one could be Walker Matthewson, it could be Walker Matthewson. And this next man with the mustache on looks like Mr. Gentieu, a Frenchman who worked there, this one here with the mustache on and the hat up there.

    Bennett: In the front?

    Johnson: Right here.

    Bennett: This one here, you mean?

    Johnson: It looks like Mr. Gentieu.

    Bennett: Right here?

    Johnson: M-huh, looks like him. Let me see - this next man to him looks like Albert Buchanan, that one.

    Bennett: Right back there behind...

    Johnson: That looks like Albert Buchanan. Let me see - all of them old men wore mustaches. That man looks like Sam Buchanan, that next one, Sam Buchanan, he was killed in the powder.

    Bennett: Who did you say?

    Johnson: Sam Buchanan.

    Bennett: Oh, Sam Buchanan, okay.

    Johnson: And the next one to him looks like Johnny Buchanan, his brother, there was three of them. There was Walker, yeah there was...and there was Johnny and there was Sam. That looks like Sam next to him. This — I don't know — that man there next to him looks like Mr. McCartney.

    Bennett: That's the third from the right hand side?

    Johnson: M-huh - from the end - McCartney. That next man looks like Pat McDade.

    Bennett: And we have the last one with his arms folded.

    Johnson: That looks like Joe Williams, or his brother Harry Williams, it looks like a Williams to me, that lived in Long Row.
  • Third photograph identification, likely of workers at Henry Clay Keg Mill on page 57 of "The Workers' World"
    Keywords: Company--Employees; E.I. du Pont de Nemours & amp
    Transcript: Bennett: Okay, thank you. Then I have this picture, they're just a little easier to see.

    [Unidentified man]: Here, let me hold these papers.

    Bennett: Do you know any of those guys?

    Johnson: These two look like two of the Miller boys.

    Bennett: Which two?

    Johnson: Young Garnet Miller and, something like Joshua Miller.

    Bennett: Jonas?

    Johnson: Jonas Miller. This one here on the end looks like...

    [Unidentified man]: This one?

    Bennett: Sitting on the bench — that would be second and one?

    Johnson: He looks like Jack Andrews. That looks like another Andrews boy, it could be Sam Andrews or Billy Andrews.

    Bennett: You mean the one on the left...of Gaugain?

    Johnson: This one on the end here looks like Mr. Casey, lived up on Barley Mill Road.

    Bennett: Up here, the man standing up with his hand sort of in his vest — okay. You know nobody else there along that row? Are you looking now on the second row?

    Johnson: Second row, on the second row. The man with the big mustache there looks like Jimmy Baird.

    Bennett: The third one in there?

    Johnson: Yeah, Jimmy Baird. That one I can't place. This one it looks like Albert Buchanan, that would be Buchanan's son.

    Bennett: This is, now you're...

    Johnson: That one.

    Bennett: Okay, this one right here, he would be sort of in the center there. The next one has a very full face.

    Johnson: He looks like one of the Knox boys, either Mason Knox or Frank Knox.

    Bennett: All right.

    Johnson: This man looks like — what was that other Bairds name, another brother.

    Bennett: The thin one with the mustache, you mean?

    Johnson: With the mustache, m— huh. Whether he was Joe Baird or Willie Baird, it could be Willie Baird.

    Bennett: Willie Baird?

    Johnson: Yes, he was a brother to the other Baird. He looks like a Baird, I can't place that first name. This man right back of him is a Devenney.

    Bennett: The - okay, back there.

    Johnson: That's a Devenney.

    Bennett: With the cap and the mustache?

    Johnson: M— huh.

    Bennett: Okay.

    Johnson: This other man looks like the man that I used to know — his name was Callahan, he lived up Barley Mill Lane.

    Bennett: Callahan — is that this gentleman here on the, like the, okay, with the dark jacket and a dark cap.

    Johnson: This looks like — the one on the end here looks like Frank Matthewson.

    Bennett: On the last row on the right hand side with the dark — now you mean this one or that one?

    Johnson: That one.

    Bennett: Okay the tall one, the last of the last - in that last row, next to the guy with his arm on the shoulder?

    Johnson: Yes, looks like Frank Matthewson. These two boys here look like they were the Allison boys, Allison boys.

    Bennett: Which two, Mrs. Jackson?

    Johnson: These two look like the Allison boys when they were young.

    Bennett: Now, we're down in the next row, I think.

    Johnson: That's the last row I'm on.

    Bennett: Oh, you mean right here - the one with the hand on shoulder of the next one?

    Johnson: M-huh, yeah.

    Bennett: They look like the Allison...

    Johnson: The Allison boys that lived across the creek.

    Bennett: Okay.

    Johnson: Now, that's as near as I can figure - I may not be correct on them all.

    Bennett: Oh - that's great, thank you.

    [Unidentified man]: Bring back any memories?

    Johnson: Huh?

    [Unidentified man]: Bring back any memories, looking at all those.

    Johnson: Oh, sure, sure.

    Bennett: As you would say, they lived here, there and everywhere. Okay, shall we go back, closer to the air.

    Johnson: Yes, that'd give me more light on those pictures.

    Bennett: Yes.

    Johnson: I can't say now they're identical - the right ones, but from what I remember back when I was young, seeing them, going up the creek road to the Yard and things like that ...

    [Unidentified woman]: How many did you guess, or get?

    Johnson: Well, I...

    [Unidentified man]: She got an A on her test [laughter]. Right?

    Johnson: Well, I tried.

    Bennett: Most of them, remained - have remained nameless because they don't know so many of them. They do know a few, but not as many as you...

    Johnson: Well, I can't say I'm accurate on them all...[crosstalk]

    [Unidentified woman]: At least you gave her the names of people anyway.

    Johnson: I know they all worked there.

    [Unidentified woman]: Oh, sure.

    [Unidentified man]: She could name every house in Squirrel Run.

    Johnson: Sure, I know all the neighbors that lived in Squirrel Run, I know all the people that lived up there.

    Bennett: I believe you do.

    Johnson: If you want them.
  • Describing the kitchen, storeroom, and exterior of her family's house on Long Row; her and her sisters' household chores, including cleaning the oil lamps
    Keywords: Chores; coal storage; dining tables; Harvest Home cook stove; Henry Clay (Del. : Village); Housekeeping; kitchen furniture; Long Row; oil lamps; Outhouses; whitewashing
    Transcript: Bennett: What we're going to talk about is the family life along the Brandywine and the social life, and we'd like to know from you what it was like when you lived there. I guess you can't remember anything about Chicken Alley, you were too young when you lived there.

    Johnson: No, I was only two years - well, I remember going up there later.

    Bennett: Later, but I would prefer, I think, hearing first about maybe Long Row, and then if you'd like to, we can do Squirrel Run, but let's start with the kitchen of your house on Long Row.

    Johnson: Well, the house contained four rooms, large rooms. The kitchen was real large, half as big as this room and it was in front and we had a kitchen stove. We had nothing in them houses but the roof and good floors, there was nothing else. We had no plumbing, we had no gas, we had no electric, we hadn't anything in there to work with, you had to make your own things. We had a cook stove - and that was all the heat we had in the house.

    Bennett: Wood or coal, your stove?

    Johnson: Coal and wood - coal and wood.

    Bennett: You used both.

    Johnson: In the summertime we used wood because you could go out and cool the house. In the wintertime we had a steady fire of coal. And DuPont - used to get the coal from the DuPont yard, and I think it was six dollars a ton.

    Bennett: They delivered it?

    Johnson: Oh, yeah, their wagons - little dump carts - horses.

    Bennett: Now, would you, could you give me sort of maybe a size of that kitchen?

    Johnson: How long is your living room, dear - 18 feet?

    [Unidentified woman]: Oh, no, it's 24 deep - are you talking about...

    Johnson: The length.

    [Unidentified woman]: The length, no, that wall-to— wall is thirty, and it's...

    Johnson: It was 24 feet by 30? Well, it was twice the size of your living room. It was a large living room, one half of it was the kitchen, the other half was like a little sitting room. And the place where the kitchen was, we had a cook stove called the Harvest Home — that was the best you get. You hadn't any kind of a stove, you didn't have a Harvest Home. Then we had a large, square, oak dining room table, we had about ten chairs over there, and there was a little bench back of the stove — you have the bench, Helen — and the bench and us kiddies would go back there and sit. And when we had — the table was crowded - the bench come out and some sat on the bench and the rest sat on the chairs. It was nine altogether because my step— mother had three daughters and my father had six - that was nine, and my mother and father was eleven. Then on the other side was a long settee where there was a featherbed on it and mother made a cretonne cover for it with a ruffle that come down and hit all the settee, and there was a little table back there and two rocking chairs. That was sort of like a little sitting room. When anybody come in, they sat over on the other side. But that room was almost as big as a ballroom. Then you had plenty of room to waltz around the room if you wanted to.

    Bennett: Did - you said there was another room on that floor, in that...

    Johnson: In the Long Row?

    Bennett: Yeah.

    Johnson: No, there was a little back room, but it was very dark back there, but mother kept trunks back there and us kids on a rainy day would go back into that dark room and we'd play house or play something back - use it for a play room.

    Bennett: Was it like a shed?

    Johnson: No, it wasn't a shed, it was a little room onto it, but there was no windows or anything. Mother kept trunks back there.

    Bennett: A trunk room - okay. Did she use it for other storage as well?

    Johnson: Well, sometimes she kept half bushel of potatoes back there, or anything like that - the fruit or watermelon — she'd put it on the floor — it's cool. It was built like in under the hill.

    Bennett: It was — all right — would you say it was more or less like a root cellar?

    Johnson: Well, it went right off the kitchen, you didn't go down no steps or anything, it was level with the kitchen.

    Bennett: But it was dark, so it could be used as a root cellar, as well as...

    Johnson: Yeah, there was no - it could have been used to store other things in - food or vegetables or something like that.

    [Unidentified woman]: She knows what a root cellar is.

    Bennett: It would keep it — could you describe like what your chores were in the kitchen - did you have particular chores?

    Johnson: Yes, we helped mother to get the vegetables ready, and we had to clean the lamps and fill the lamps with kerosene, we had to riddle ashes, and we had an outhouse and somebody's job was to keep that outhouse scrubbed and clean because it was immaculate - two moons in it. In the wintertime father put boards over the moons and then in spring he took them off. And every spring the shed and the coal bin and the outhouse and the fence was whitewashed by mother and father.

    Bennett: Would you describe, Mrs. Jackson, where they were as opposed to - with your house - the outhouse was in the back?

    Johnson: Yes, you went up a pair of stairs, they were like a corkscrew, you started at the bottom and you went up to the second floor, one room up there, and then you went out the back door, you walked up a boardwalk, we had a pretty good— sized yard back there where mother would hang our clothes, and the outhouse was on the side and then the fence was in the back.

    Bennett: And where was your shed?

    Johnson: Our shed then was down — at Long Row — was in the front right below the steps. And the steps were Brandywine granite stone and each step was as long as that couch — went all the way across...

    Bennett: Maybe like thirty inches — thirty— six and something, yes.

    Johnson: Was as long as that couch in length, and it was as wide from the front of that couch back. And there was about four steps.

    Bennett: M— huh, I've seen those, I know what you mean.

    Johnson: You've seen them? And the shed was there alongside of them steps, and the coal went in there and the wood went in there.

    Bennett: Okay — and you used, you said, the wood in the summertime?

    Johnson: Yes, 'cause the fire would go out and then cool the house off.

    Bennett: When you mentioned your chores, did you always have the same chores, or did you switch off with your sisters?

    Johnson: No, whoever mother got a hold of first, told them to do it, and then we'd do it. We had to clean the house, wipe the floors up, we didn't have carpets on the upstairs bedrooms or anything, we had to scrub the floors and keep them nice and white — wipe the steps all down, clean them. And then we had to turn the beds down in in the evening, we had to make the beds and keep our rooms, keep the rooms clean and tidy.

    Bennett: I want to talk a little bit more about the kitchen, first, before we get upstairs. Did you have curtains in your kitchen?

    Johnson: Didn't have any shades, we had a little short...

    Bennett: Curtain in the kitchen?

    Johnson: That step— mother made.

    Bennett: Okay. Did you have pictures on the walls?

    Johnson: Yes, one or two pictures.

    Bennett: Is this where you would do your homework and so forth, the school work?

    Johnson: I wasn't going to school.

    Bennett: Okay, but your sisters...

    Johnson: My sisters did their - at the dining room table, yes, they did — well it wasn't much homework, then, to do, very seldom children had to do homework when we went to school. They did it in school and that was it.

    Bennett: Did you have certain days of the week that you would, like do the lamps, or were they done every day?

    Johnson: They were done every day 'cause them lampshades got smokey and dirty and we had to take newspaper first and run up there and get all that smoke and dirt off, then we had to wash them in warm water. And Mother gave us old rags to dry them and they had to be shiny. The wicks had to be cleaned, cut off and evened or they would — one tail end would smoke, and then the oil put in. If we didn't burn too much, sometimes you could go two nights without fooling with oil. Sometimes it would only burn halfway down, you know, 'course Mother — we took the lamps upstairs to go to bed, but Mother would turn them down low — she left them out in the hallway so they would shine into the bedroom.
  • Peddlers and merchants visiting Long Row; getting a doll from Alfred I. du Pont during a Christmas party at the clubhouse as a very small child; playing in the cannon houses after they were abandoned after the Spanish-American war, riding the powder yard horses, and swimming at Sandy Butt
    Keywords: Alexis I. du Pont School (Wilmington, Del.); breakfast; Children--Social life and customs; Delivery of goods; Du Pont, Alfred I. (Alfred Iré né e), 1864-1935; Eleutherian Mills (Greenville, Del. : Dwelling); horses; Peddlers; Sandy Butt; Spanish-American War (1898); Swimming
    Transcript: Bennett: U— huh, I see. Did you have a garden in the summertime?

    Johnson: Not in the Long Row.

    Bennett: Not in Long Row. Did you have any livestock there, or chickens?

    Johnson: No — not in the Long How.

    Bennett: Not in Long Row. Do you remember any peddlers that might have come along when you were at Long Row — selling...

    Johnson: Well, there'd be a fish man come along, I didn't know his name — he'd blow a horn and then all the neighbors would go out on the road - Creek Road - and they'd all buy fish, and there was about fifteen cats followed the fish store — they got the heads, they were well fed. Then there was a couple of butchers come around.

    Bennett: I don't think they would be — they would be more like merchants, I think a peddler would be someone who would come...

    Johnson: Oh yes, peddlers used to come around with a big suitcase - there was somebody from Miller Brothers years ago - it was one of the Millers come around and he'd have a suitcase and he'd go to every house and he'd open up the suitcase, and he'd have cheap jewelry in there and he'd have a piece of goods in there or he'd have a like a sweater — he'd have different things that whoever needed something could buy, but not a whole lot. Sometimes he had pillowcases, sometimes he had a sheet, and sometimes a spread. Little trinkets and different things like that.

    Bennett: Did you have to do your chores in the morning or did you do them, some in the morning, some in the afternoon or...

    Johnson: No, when we got up Mother always had a good breakfast ready for us, and by the time we got washed and dressed — we did the dishes up and swept the floor. Then we went off to school. We went to Alexis I. du Pont School and that was quite a walk to Alexis I. du Pont School.

    Bennett: You said your mother always had breakfast ready, was she the one that got up first in the morning?

    Johnson: Mother got up at four o'clock in the morning.

    Bennett: Do you know what she did?

    Johnson: Well, she — first thing she did was go down to the hydrant, got a bucket of fresh water — we wanted a drink when we got up.

    Bennett: Where was the hydrant as opposed to that house?

    Johnson: Must have been half a square away. You come out off your porch and went right down the little road a little bit and the hydrant was there. There was hydrants quite often, you didn't have to go too far for the hydrants.

    Bennett: This was on Main Street, or Creek Road?

    Johnson: No, that was up Squirrel Run.

    Bennett: Oh, at Squirrel Run.

    Johnson: In the Long Row, there was a spring and Mother used to go over to the spring and took the bucket down to get the spring water and bring it home.

    Bennett: Where was that — the spring — do you remember as opposed to Long Row, where along Long Row it was?

    Johnson: Well, McCartney's was in the first house coming this way, McCartney's, and then there was - Andrews lived in the next, then Baines lives in the next, McCrays lived in the end house. Well then you come down the McCray's steps and then you walked over the field a little bit and the spring was down there and it was whitewashed. And then there was a piece of ground, quite a piece of ground, like a lot between that and Fisher's house. Fisher was next, Mr. Fisher and his family in the next. And then — that was Charles du Pont's house where Fishers lived - that was Charles du Pont's house and the initials are still up on the wall - C something D. Well, the Fishers lived in Charles du Pont's old home and it was stone, granite stone.

    Bennett: Do you remember the Jones living there?

    Johnson: Yes, Wilmer Jones.

    Bennett: Yes, they lived...

    Johnson: He had three children, I think he had one boy and I think two girls. One girl I know and the girl was named Victoria — Victorine - Victorine or Victoria.

    Bennett: And — Ethel, was it Ethel?

    Johnson: Then the last child must have been Ethel. I think he had two girls, but I know the first one was Victorine - that last one could have been Ethel, I'm not sure.

    Bennett: Now that's now Mrs. Hayward.

    Johnson: Is it?

    Bennett: Ethel Jones Hayward, and they just recently, the family donated - do you remember Fiddler Jones?

    Johnson: Yes, very well.

    Bennett: Okay, he died within maybe the last year and a half.

    Johnson: I saw that in the paper.

    Bennett: And they donated his fiddle.

    Johnson: Did they really?

    Bennett: Yes, and he was part of that orchestra of Alfred I. du Pont's and so forth.

    Johnson: And did you know that Mrs. Crowinshield's house was vacant for many years and they turned it into a clubhouse?

    Bennett: Yes.

    Johnson: And that's where all the up— the— creek girls and boys went up there and learned to dance.

    Bennett: I'll ask you about that later, but I'm glad that you told me — that's good. That's where you went, huh?

    Johnson: That you learned to dance.

    Bennett: Now did you ever go to Breck's Mill, did you go to dances there?

    Johnson: Later that was, but before that, when we were little children, I'd say maybe I was four or five, something like that, maybe not that, Alfred I. du Pont gave a Christmas party the week of Christmas and he had a Punch and Judy show and we had never seen anything because there was no moving picture then, and he had a Punch and Judy show and he was Old Kris, and he was well fitted for Old Kris because he had a good, big tummy right in the front.

    Bennett: Alfred I. did?

    Johnson: Alfred I.

    Bennett: Well I'll be darned, I didn't know that.

    Johnson: When he was much younger, he was pretty well built.

    [Unidentified man]: You mean fat.

    Johnson: Fat [laughs], well I didn't like to say fat [laughs].

    Bennett: Well, that's okay.

    Johnson: And all the children of the village, and all around there come to this Christmas party. Because Alfred I. - the little ones, like I was maybe three or four, I don't know just what - we had to go up a pair of steps to the balcony - or to the platform like, and he met the little children, took them up in his arms - I was in his arms many times — and then he would ask us who we were, and we would ask him if he had his reindeers with him. And he always told us "yes" and then while we were up there, and he asked me one day, he said, "Now who's little girl are you?" And I said, "I'm Henry Braden's daughter,” and I said, "He runs the boilers up there," and I said, "I go up there and play in the yard." And he said, "Oh, you're a darling." So he said, "What do you want?" I said, "I want a nice doll because we're not able to buy dolls because we're poor." And I said "I'd like a nice doll with a china face on it.” And then I says, "Hair on it." He said, "That you will get." And he reached — somebody come out with one and it was dressed in pink. And oh, Lord, I didn't know - Alfred I. du Pont was there - I got the doll and I was hugging and kissing it. "Let me down, let me down." I said, "I want to go home." And we got two games, and most of the games was Old Maid and Checkers, and there was a game called Parcheesi.

    Bennett: Parcheesi?

    Johnson: Parcheesi. And there was another game he used to give us was a fishing pond. It was a hook on a string and a stick and you would fish the fish up, and there would be something on there, a prize of some kind that we sure got. And he loved - hugged us and kissed us and we'd pull his wool beard, you know, and we'd say, "When did you get that, who gave you that?" And he used to say, "Old Kris, Old Kris has to have that." And we'd say, "Will you bring your reindeers the next time?" He said, "Absolutely, I'll have them here." He rode a bicycle at that time, he didn't have a car.

    Bennett: You were — now let me see, this had to be right before the turn of the century. Then, if you were like three or four years old, or were you a little older then?

    Johnson: No, I was about three, may four, it was in the Long Row.

    Bennett: It would be before the turn of the century, yes.

    Johnson: It was when the Spanish-American War was, and that was in 1898. And I remember Father picking me up in his arms, and I must have been about three, and we walked the Creek Road and we would watch the soldiers going up to guard the Yard. And they had blue uniforms and a little, tiny peaked blue hat and they went up and watched the Yard. Then there was two cannon houses up in the meadows and that was between Squirrel Run and Wagoner's Row, and these cannon houses was there to protect all the villages. And up toward - I guess they'd go anywhere - the cannons. And they had cannons in them, and the soldiers watched them and guarded all the countrysides. And after the war was over, they took the cannons out and then us children had a ball. Those houses become our play houses and we would go up there and make lemonade, and Mother would give us spice wafers, and we'd go up there — play all kinds of games — played jacks and all like that, and those two cannon houses become the children of the village play houses. I guess they're not there now.

    Bennett: I don't think so, no, probably not.

    Johnson: They were cannon houses, and they were put there in the Spanish-American War in 1898.

    Bennett: Now, that was by Wagoner's Row?

    Johnson: Between Wagoner's Row and Squirrel Run.

    Bennett: Okay.

    Johnson: When Squirrel Run ended, you went up the railroad track and there was a woods like you sort of went through, then there was the meadows, all green fields where they used to let the horses out that drove the powder wagons, and these horses used to be in the fields strolling around. Most of them were gray horses, and us children used to go up there, I guess I was six or seven, or six anyway. We used to go up there and those horses knew the children — loved them. And there was a fence — railing like, you know, what keeps animals in, like three bars, well us children used to climb up those three bars, and those old horses would come over to the edge of the bar like, and us kiddies used to throw our leg over the horse, hold onto his mane, and that horse would trot around them fields and bring us right back to the — and we would off and go down these three railings. Then, there was also up there a pond of water. It wasn't a race, it was just like a run - I'd say it was a run of water, don't know if you know what a run is, we used to call them runs of water. There was a good bit of water up there, but it was only about three feet deep and that's where we did our swimming — learned to swim. They called it Sandy Butt.

    Bennett: M-huh, I know where you mean and I love the name [laughs].

    Johnson: I got that right, and we used to go up there. And the boys always gave us our days, they never bothered us when we were in, then we let the boys have days that they could go bathing, 'cause we didn't have much on us, we used to just wear little old dresses up there, and hang our clothes on the trees around there, and the boys knew when those clothes were hanging around, the girls was in the water.

    Bennett: You didn't have specific days, then?

    Johnson: No.

    Bennett: One Monday, Wednesday, Friday was...

    Johnson: Oh, like after school sometimes — 'course in the summertime we went up there whenever we wanted to, but when we were going to school, see, it would have to be like after four o'clock if it was summertime, but it was mostly at summertime that we went in the water.

    Bennett: Sure, sure.

    Johnson: But the boys, they respected us, there was no badness, nothing in them days.

    [Unidentified man]: They were peeping.

    Johnson: They might have been.
  • Getting fresh milk from Jim Ball, the milk man; large daily breakfasts; communal spring house for food storage
    Keywords: Biscuits; Breakfasts; communal storage; company houses; Delivery of goods; milkman; Raw milk; Refrigeration; scrapple; spring houses; tablecloths
    Transcript: Bennett: They had the greatest names for everything around that area that I have ever heard of, and Sandy Butt just gives you a good inclination as to their imagination.

    [Unidentified woman]: Chicken Alley always got me.

    Johnson: 'Cause they had a lot of chickens, all had lots of chickens up there - they had to have. In Chicken Alley, as I've been told, and I know it was true, they had their own chickens and some of them had a couple of pigs and a couple of cows and of course the milk didn't have to be finished like it's done today. It was real milk, and good milk in them days. And the milkman come around and Jim Ball was the milkman — Jim Ball and he lived up there right back of Barney Hunter's Store, as you go up like toward Greenville, and he come around with a great, big can like this. Milk was four cents a quart.

    Bennett: Four cents a quart.

    Johnson: And Mother got two quarts every day.

    Bennett: Do you mean those big metal milk cans, is that what you mean?

    Johnson: Milk cans - stands about this high.

    Bennett: Okay, yes.

    Johnson: Well, you took your pitcher out on the porch when he come around, he ran a wagon, two horses, and you took your pitcher out on the porch and he filled it up, give you the quart, whatever you got, then he'd dump some more in, give you good measure — they all did them days. And that's all it was, four cents a quart. And Mother always had oatmeal, or yellow corn meal mush and she'd always say, "Now take plenty of milk, plenty of milk." I have all my teeth in the bottom and most all up in the top, only one or two out on the side, which I had gold teeth and cause it, and I'm ninety years old and I have my teeth. My Father had his teeth, and he's ninety some and he only had couple back in the — but that's because you didn't have soft drinks, we drank milk.

    Bennett: I think that's wonderful. All right, now then, so the milkman came with the milk.

    Johnson: And the meat man come with the meat.

    Bennett: The meat man came with the meat. Now, did that happen at Long Row as well as at Squirrel Run?

    Johnson: Yes, the milk man came around in Long Row. There was no stores that sold milk.

    Bennett: No, no.

    Johnson: But the milk man had to bring it around. Well, a lot of people had cows - now there was a Mrs. Andrews up on Breck's Lane, and she had a big cow and a lot of times Mother would send us up to Mrs. Andrews to get her milk, she had good, fresh milk. It wasn't put through no machine or anything like that. And when that milk stood for an hour or less, or more, Mother could get off a little smaller pitcher of good cream that we used for the coffee. The cream was — you don't get no cream today on milk.

    Bennett: No, no - it's very different.

    Johnson: And it come right from the cows, didn't go through any machinery - they weren't afraid of the germs, nothing like - we didn't know anything about germs years ago. We didn't know anything about vitamins, we didn't know anything about calories, and now they talk about eggs — my Father had two eggs every morning, either boiled or scrambled or something with some bacon. And every morning - my Father lived to be ninety something — I'm ninety and I had the same, so...

    Bennett: You've got good genes, all of you, that's exactly what it is. You're just very, very fortunate. Then - let's go back to breakfast — your mother got up at four, she would get the water...

    Johnson: And get the stove going.

    Bennett: And get the stove going, and you mentioned that your father always ate eggs, would you tell me what you had for a typical morning's breakfast, and did you eat it with your father and mother, or did you eat it separately?

    Johnson: No, Father had to get up early 'cause he had to go up to the Yard at six o'clock. He got his breakfast first, then us children got up, I guess a little later.

    Bennett: Do you know...

    Johnson: What we had?

    Bennett: Do you know what he had, let's say because he left first. He had two...[pause while tape is switched]

    Bennett: Your father's breakfast, if you did know what he had?

    Johnson: He had a large bowl of oatmeal, and sometimes it was yellow corn meal, which made into mush, and then he had — she always fried a great, big iron skillet of fried potatoes, and he had fried potatoes, and he'd have, maybe bacon, and two fried eggs with it. Some mornings he had two boiled eggs, and sometimes he had scrambled eggs, but there was always a big pan of fried potatoes, and sometimes Mother fried a big pan of scrapple. Scrapple was only five cents a pound then. She had to get a lot, you know, for that family. And he would eat that, sometimes he would eat two bowls of oatmeal. We used tea mostly because my step— mother was Irish and she liked the tea better than coffee. Once in a while she made coffee, but not all the — tea. Then that was his breakfast and he went on to work. And he could have all the potatoes he wanted, but then Mother would fry some more for our breakfast when we came down. When we come down, Mother had a big bowl of oatmeal for us, and she had the fried potatoes for us, and she either had some sausage cooked or scrapple cooked for us — we had what people used for a meal at night - we had that for breakfast, and all the milk we could use. And sometimes she'd get up early and she'd bake a pan of baking powder biscuits — hot biscuits. Are you uncomfortable, Helen?

    [Unidentified woman]: Oh no, I'm fine.

    Johnson: I'm sorry.

    Bennett: Did your mother awaken you, is that how you gals got up in the morning?

    Johnson: Yes, she'd come up the stairs and she'd say, "It's time to get up now, children, you have to go to school. And you have to get washed and get your clothes on." And we did.

    Bennett: Okay, where did you keep your clothes?

    Johnson: On the back of the doors. We had no closets. Bedroom door that opened, was two rows of nails there and all, we didn't have many clothes, and we hung our clothes on there. We just had school clothes, a play dress, and a dress for Sunday, that's all we had.

    Bennett: Did you have any chores to do before breakfast?

    Johnson: Not unless Mother wanted some of us to go get another bucket of - a pail of water, something like that. Or she might say, "Go down and get me a bucket of coal." We'd go down to the shed and get a bucket of coal, or bring up some wood, things like that. We did the dishes.

    Bennett: Did she set the table, or did you girls set the table for breakfast?

    Johnson: We girls went down and set the...

    Bennett: Set the table.

    Johnson: The older girls, I was - but the older girls set the table, and swept the floor, we didn't have any carpet, but we scrubbed — the older girls scrubbed that floor and it was as white as snow. And we only had one closet to put the food and stuff in, but there was - up in the field, oh up above, pretty near to the gate where the Powder Company is, there was a cool house. There was a large shed or house built and there was a pool of water in the middle of it, and there was shelves built all around it and all the neighbors had a shelf that in the warm weather they could take their butter up there and their lard and their milk, and if they had a pot of soup, they could take it up to the cool — they called it cool spring. And everybody — nobody fought about — nobody stole anything that belonged to anybody. And then that kept it cool.

    Bennett: How did you mark yours — differently than someone elses? Did you have a marking or did you have a certain space that was yours?

    Johnson: Well, for one side of the row - that side would be for a certain row, like from the first house down, then in the middle there was shelves over that way and we knew our shelf - we all knew our own shelf. And then, around this pool was like a little boardwalk around it, then you could sit your butter and your lard — we never thought of germs, bugs or nothing, we never had any trouble with it anyway. And then that would stay good and hard until we went to get it. Oh it was cold, it was like air-conditioned, but it wasn't air-conditioned, you know, but it was just the cold water in there, a deep pond like, it was a good, deep pond, but the board was - the du Ponts built the board around it, and we could put our things right - well sometimes we used to cover it with newspapers to keep anything - there was no rats, no mice, we never found any. Was plenty of cats in the neighborhood, though. I don't think they had much chance.

    Bennett: They were well fed, huh? Did, then, the children all ate together — did your mother eat with you, or did she eat with...

    Johnson: Yes, my Father eat with us at night.

    Bennett: No, I meant at breakfast time - did she eat with him?

    Johnson: Oh no, Father eat with — Mother eat with Father.

    Bennett: Okay, and then you girls...

    Johnson: Then Mother waited on us children, us nine children, and poured our milk for us. Sometimes she'd give us a little tea, and half fill the cup with milk, 'cause she wanted us to have milk.

    Bennett: And then the girls would do the chores of cleaning up?

    Johnson: We had to do all the dishes and clean the stove off and do the pans up — someone had to sweep the floor, and fix the settee nice and put a red — she always used a red tablecloth — you know cotton, red tablecloth, but it decorated the kitchen, with the red tablecloth on. Your kitchen wasn't finished until your red tablecloth went on.

    Bennett: Was this a cotton cloth?

    Johnson: Yes. And then when it started to wear out, Mother would cut the best part up in little squares and she would knit a fringe around it, make a fringe around it, pull the threads make a — then we used that for napkins, so she got her money's worth out of the tablecloth. And a tablecloth, I think, costs twenty-five cents.

    Bennett: They didn't waste anything in those days.

    Johnson: No indeedy, they couldn't afford to.

    Bennett: Before you went to school, what did you do after breakfast? Did you play, or did you...

    Johnson: No, because after we finished eating breakfast, and we would sit there until everything was gone, and Mother used to put a pan of stale bread — like bread that was cut off and hadn't been used — she'd make that into a big bread pan, she'd put that into the oven, it didn't get like toast, but it got dark brown, but it was crunchy, we'd put a lot of butter on it — she used to get butter three pound for a quarter, tub butter it was called. And we could use all the butter we wanted to. What we had, we had plenty of, and we could use it as we wanted to, but there was no luxury, we lived through it all.

    Bennett: You had, I think, a bigger breakfast than most of the people I've spoken with.

    Johnson: Well, I think most of them had fried potatoes and they had mush. Most of them all lived on mush. Some families had nothing but mush, but my Father had a garden and he raised enough potatoes to see us through, and when we were paring potatoes for a meal, we'd - the pot would be full, maybe a half a peck in there, and we'd say to Mother, "Have we got enough potatoes pared?" And she'd look in and say, "No, put a few more in because I want plenty left for breakfast, and there was always plenty left over from the meal for breakfast.

    Bennett: Did he have a garden at Long Row as well as...

    Johnson: No, No, at Squirrel Run.

    Bennett: Just at Squirrel Run. Who got, who did the chopping of the wood and so forth?

    Johnson: My Father.

    Bennett: Your Father did that. And any repairs that were to be done, did he do the repairs?

    Johnson: No, DuPont's had painters, and they had people that papered the walls, if you had paper, and carpenters. Tom Sterling was the boss carpenter and my father only had to tell Tom Sterling that we needed our stairs fixed or a door put on the stairs or something, and Tom Sterling would send a man down to do it.

    Bennett: To do it. Now is this at...

    Johnson: At Long Row and up at Squirrel Run both.

    Bennett: Both.

    Johnson: In all their houses round here, they took care of them - and they had a paper hanger.
  • Her step-mother doing laundry all day on Mondays; children having an outdoor roast with DuPont corn and potatoes; her mother canning and preserving large quantities and her father making sauerkraut for the winter; monthly meat budget
    Keywords: Barbecuing; Butchers; Canning and preserving; Cooking (Sauerkraut); household budgets; Laundry; Vegetable gardening; Wagoner's Row
    Transcript: Bennett: After breakfast and when you gals were cleaning up and so forth, what did your mother do?

    Johnson: She went up and straightened up all the beds.

    Bennett: All right — that wasn't a job for the girls?

    Johnson: They used to go up some - some of the older girls used to go up and help her - get the beds all made and Mother would see that there wasn't any clothes laying around or anything like that.

    Bennett: Did she have certain days for washing and ironing?

    Johnson: Yes indeed — she washed on Monday. She started washing after the children got off to school around eight o'clock and she washed until four o'clock in the afternoon. And we had a yard — she had to take the clothes up a pair of stairs from the kitchen and go through the - we called it the parlor, upstairs, it was one room — and out the back door and hang the clothes up on the line, but we had plenty of lines up there, and she hung the clothes. Then when the children come home from school, they had to go up and take the clothes down. But Mother washed until pretty near four o'clock.

    Bennett: Who got the water?

    Johnson: What water?

    Bennett: The water to wash the clothes with.

    Johnson: The children did, the older girls went to the spring and carried, filled tubs for Mother before we went to school.

    Bennett: Now, what about the winter or rainy days — where did she hang the clothes?

    Johnson: I don't know, I'm not sure. Well, there's no place downstairs. We had a porch in the Long Row, in the front, never used it for anything, and I think — and it was covered over at the top and I think Father had put some lines up on that porch outside the house in the Long Row, and Mother used to hang most of the things out there. Sometimes it took her a couple or three days to dry all the clothes.

    Bennett: If it was humid. Some of the people talk about hanging the clothes in the kitchen at night in the winter.

    Johnson: Yes, Mother used to do that with the — Father wore heavy underwear and if it was cold weather and she'd put them out to take the worst out of it, they were frozen stiff, then at night she'd bring them in and hang then around — there used to be something that stood up with a lot of little bars on it, little things — and it stood up like a ladder...

    Bennett: Like a clothes tree?

    Johnson: Yeah — they were far apart, and Mother used to put those frozen things — and real heavy things on that and leave them in the kitchen and they were dry, then, in the morning. She did that in Squirrel Run, too.

    Bennett: Both places?

    Johnson: 'Course we had a shed in Squirrel Run and it was a good— sized shed, so we had lines in the shed and on a freezing day or anything like that, Mother used to hang most of the things in the shed. We had a stove in our shed, too.

    Bennett: You had a stove in the shed?

    Johnson: Yes, in the hot weather sometimes Mother cooked on the stove in the shed and carried the food over to the house to eat - it was right across the road. Our house was here and the road was here and the shed was right there.

    Bennett: Directly across from...

    Johnson: Directly across.

    Bennett: This is at Squirrel Run.

    Johnson: In Squirrel Run. Well, the shed was right down below — the shed was a very small shed, and outside of holding the coal and wood and some tools of my Father, like a saw, the hatchet and the axe and things like that, they were down there. Oh, we had a better shed up in Squirrel Run.

    Bennett: The shed wasn't used, then, in the winter, just in the summer when it was hot and then that was a wood stove?

    Johnson: Yeah, but in the wintertimes - in the summertime she cooked everything down there, she didn't use the coal, it was wood.

    Bennett: When it was canning time, did she can from the shed - did she do canning?

    Johnson: Yes, in Squirrel Run. There was a large field up there above Mrs. Hardwick's house, way up at the end of the road.

    Bennett: Mrs. who?

    Johnson: Hardwicks.

    Bennett: Hardwick?

    Johnson: Erin Hardwick had this small house. Hallock du Pont now uses it for a, oh a hunting shed or something like that. I think it's still there. That was Erin Hardwick's home.

    Bennett: Would that be rather close to Christ Church?

    Johnson: No, that would be near Wagoner's Row, it was up at the end of the road, way up at the end of the road, that was Hardwick's house, there was an apple tree back of it, and then these fields were back of it, and then the du Ponts had — there was a lot of fields up there then - DuPont's used to plant corn and things like that for horses. And when that corn was ready, us children used to go up there and help ourselves to it, and we didn't have no barbecue, but we'd take big rocks and make a little square out of it, we'd put paper in there and go through the woods and get wood and we'd put that in there and then we'd just throw our potatoes and all, threw them in there and our corn, left them in the hole, you know, and we'd throw that in there and us kids would have a meal for ourselves and not go home for dinner. We told Mother we were gonna do this and then we had the corn and the potatoes, and we'd take the husks all off, and the corn was cooked, it was good. And the potatoes, we'd break the potatoes open, and sometimes...

    Bennett: Roasted — they were roasted.

    Johnson: Roasted — yeah, it's like a barbecue today, but we just had rocks. And they planted everything in the gardens, we used to go up and get the corn and then we'd go over and dig up some of the potatoes for ourselves, help ourselves to the gardens, then there was tomatoes, we used to get them. My father planted potatoes, tomatoes, cabbage, turnips and string beans, radishes and carrots. And he planted enough that we had most of the food for the winter because on stormy — we had bad storms when I was little, butcher couldn't get around, maybe once in a month and Mother had to have things for us. She put up about fifty or sixty quarts of tomatoes, she put up forty or fifty quarts of string beans. Father would cut up cabbage and put it in a keg and that was sauerkraut for all winter.

    Bennett: One of those ceramic - big vats?

    Johnson: Oh, there was no ceramic - like a keg of beer comes in.

    Bennett: A wooden keg?

    Johnson: Yeah, a wooden keg like beer comes in. And we had the sauerkraut — an many times in the wintertime Mother used to open two quarts of tomatoes — and she put them up whole, like, you know, and she would slice them, flour them, and had two big skillets on the stove and we had fried tomatoes, she'd make cream gravy, mash a pot of potatoes for us, and open a jar of string beans. We had that quite often, but that's all we had to eat. We'd eat it.

    Bennett: Well, it was nourishing.

    Johnson: It was nourishing, we eat it, we were glad to see food on the table, we were like locusts, and that table had food on it, we lit on the table and we cleaned it up, there was nothing left. The cats and dogs had to hunt their own food.

    Bennett: And not that much meat — you had more vegetables than you had meat?

    Johnson: Oh, we had meat, Mother - Jack Carney was the butcher and Jim Braden, a cousin of mine, he was a butcher, and they'd come around at different times — 'course in good weather they could come around a lot and I used to hear Mother say, "I'm only taking two dollars out to buy the meat for the week because we can't afford any more." She allowed herself ten dollars a month for food.

    Bennett: Ten dollars — excuse me - ten dollars a month for all food?

    Johnson: All food for the month.

    [Unidentified woman]: Just for the meat?

    Johnson: Meat? Ten dollars for meat.

    Bennett: For meat — not for flour and sugar and staples like that? Okay - ten dollars for meat, a month.

    Johnson: Oh, no, no — meat — she spent two dollars a week mostly, maybe not that. A round steak was two pounds for a quarter and pork chops were two pounds for a quarter, and kidneys were ten cents apiece, if you bought three, you got three for a quarter. And then she used to buy big beef heart and that was about fifteen or twenty cents and on Sunday she'd cut the top of it out and put filling in it like you do a turkey and she'd bake it in the oven, and she baked potatoes in there with it and maybe she'd make a pan of biscuits in there and then maybe she'd cook some turnips and mash them turnips. Sunday we had a big meal, on Sunday. And a roast of beef would cost about, oh that was more expensive than anything — it was about fifty-five cents for maybe five or six pounds.

    Bennett: How often would you have a roast beef?

    Johnson: Maybe once in a month, maybe oftener — that was it. And we had our own chickens and our own ducks.

    Bennett: At Squirrel Run?

    Johnson: In Squirrel Run. And then one Sunday in the month Father would kill two of the heaviest chickens and us kids would pluck them, take all the feathers off of them, and then Mother would roast them, or she'd stew. Now, if she stewed the chickens, she'd make chicken dumplings and they were as big as a baseball, and she made plenty of them, and they were good — and they were light — tasty. And she'd drop potatoes in there, maybe some carrots — be like a chicken stew. What they put in casseroles today, Mother put on top of of the stove, we didn't an oven like this.
  • Typical lunch and bringing her father the lunch basket in Hagley Yard; rooms in her house and her neighbors in Squirrel Run; picking chestnuts at Mary du Pont's place
    Keywords: Chestnut; Fathers and daughters; Neighbors; Squirrel Run (Del. : Village)--Buildings, structures, etc.; Tatnall School (Greenville, Del.); Water-supply
    Transcript: Bennett: Very different. What would you have for a typical lunch?

    Johnson: Lunch?

    Bennett: Lunch — at lunchtime.

    Johnson: At lunchtime we'd come home, and if there was any of the cornmeal mush left, Mother used to chill it in pans and she'd slice it and she'd fry the yellow mush and we had black molasses and we had that for lunch. On other days she'd have dried beef cooked up in creamed gravy and she'd have some of this hard toast in the oven and we could put it over the toast, and we had that for lunch. Sometimes she'd make pancakes for us, on the top of the stove. She had an iron griddle that went all the way across the top of the stove and she could put about five pancakes, good sized, on that at a time. And she was taking off five pancakes at a time for us children. And it was, well, there was different things that she used - if there was things left over, we had cabbage left over, she'd heat that up and fry some potatoes.

    Bennett: It was typical leftovers, would be then. Did someone take your father's lunch pail to the yards? Or did he take it...

    Johnson: Yes, I did.

    Bennett: You took it to the Yards? Where did you take it?

    Johnson: Up to the Hagley Yard.

    Bennett: To the gate?

    Johnson: No, I took it — went up through the office, and up a little pair of steps, down past the tin shop - the tin shop now is the Hagley Museum, that used to be the tin shop years ago.

    Bennett: You mean, all right, I know what you mean.

    Johnson: Then I'd go down on the road, and I'd walk along the road, about a square, maybe less, and [Albert?] Buchanan - he took care of the dynamos — cross the road, big building, then Father — you had to go up a pair of steps and over a little bridge, then up another high pair of steps, and I was a little thing at the time, Father would be waiting at the top of the steps and he'd grab my hand and pull me up and I had his lunch basket with me for his breakfast.

    Bennett: Would you describe his lunch basket to me, please?

    Johnson: Well, it was a straw basket, but it was a strong one, it was a good size, because Mother used to send a cup and saucer, knife and fork and whatever he was having for breakfast. It was a basket about like this, good size — like a market basket.

    Bennett: Like a — sort of like the way you have your hands, like a mushroom carrier?

    Johnson: Yeah, an oval shaped basket, like.

    Bennett: Okay, he didn't have a lunch pail, one of those black tin, or metal...

    Johnson: No, but a lot of the men did have them. Now Sam Buchanan, when he carried his lunch, next door, he lived next door to us, he had a red, dark red, I guess it was fiber, and he carried his meals, when he carried them - had to work overtime — in a red box like this. But we had enough children that Mother would send Father's right over hot to him, with one of the children. And then when I got over there, why I used to play in the Yard - go pick violets and pansies and Johnny Jump— ups, and things like that. And in the wintertime, when we used to go over there, there was walnut trees there and we used to pick all walnuts - and sometimes my other sisters would come with me — and we would shell them and when we got a half bushel or bushel, then Father would carry them home for us and we would take them up on the shed, because we were told walnuts were not good until two frosts had hit them.

    Bennett: Until two frosts had...

    Johnson: Until two frosts had hit them and we believed that, and I think that's true. If you eat a walnut and it's bitter to you, it hasn't hit - the frost hasn't hit it, and the walnuts - Mother didn't go to town maybe once a month when the check come, to cash it. And my Father made thirty-eight dollars a month, and our house costs four dollars for rent, so there wasn't much left.

    Bennett: Now which house was this that was four dollars?

    Johnson: Squirrel Run.

    Bennett: Squirrel Run, okay.

    Johnson: But there were six nice big rooms in it. There was two rooms downstairs - the great, big kitchen, then a little, smaller room, parlor in the back. Then you went up a pair of stairs...

    Bennett: Winding stairs?

    Johnson: They looked like a screwdriver, you started down at the bottom and you ended away up on the other side of the house when you get up on top of the stairs. And then up there, there was a long hallway, a door at the end in the back, you could leave open, nobody ever come in, we'd leave it open at night for the air to come in, and then there was a big bedroom in the front, where Mother and Father slept, then there was the big bedroom in the back, and two of the girls, ourselves, slept up there, then there was two attics upstairs.

    Bennett: Two attics?

    Johnson: M-huh, one in the front and one in the back.

    Bennett: Oh, okay. Well, was that, maybe at one point, two houses, when you described...

    Johnson: No, no it was a row of houses. The first house was a big - it was a row of houses.

    Bennett: All right.

    Johnson: On the end house, Consono's lived, Joe Consono and his family.

    Bennett: On the end house?

    Johnson: On the end house. Then the Bradens lived next, then Sam Buchanan and his family lived next, then Liza MacAdoo lived next — Liza later married Jack Miller. Then the next, then was a run in between - not a run, but a walk in between, and then there was a McCluckus come next, John McCluckus and his wife, Dora, and they had three children. Then the next house was Beacoms - Beacoms had a big family - next to Beacoms come Gambles, Willie Gamble's mother, they had quite a few, the Gambles. And then next to that come Louie Bonaficina, he was an Italian, but very nice people, they had children. Then there was quite a space between them because there was a red pump in between where you had to pump water, but there was also a hydrant across the road which you could get water, but the pump, everybody liked the pump water for some reason or other.

    Bennett: Colder, maybe?

    Johnson: Yes, I think it was colder. The next house had a whitewashed fence around it and Dan Harkins lived there, they had one boy, and Dan worked for Hallock du Pont for a number of years. I don't know whether he's dead now or not, Dan, Dan Harney, Harkins.

    Bennett: Harkins. What was the address of your house in Squirrel Run?

    Johnson: One sixteen, Squirrel Run.

    Bennett: One sixteen, Squirrel Run. Was this - on which side of the diamond bridge? Did you cross that little bridge?

    Johnson: We lived on the right of the diamond bridge, that row of houses was on the right. You crossed the diamond bridge, and that was the left.

    Bennett: Okay, all right, now I see. Would you tell me, you talked about the walnuts a few minutes ago — could you describe to me - I'd love to find those walnuts, I've been looking for them for a long time, where those trees were?

    Johnson: Well, it was up above the Hagley Yard — it was like a woods.

    Bennett: Near, let's say, can you picture where the Brandywine Manufacturer's Sunday School was and Christ Church?

    Johnson: Sure, I went to Christ Church.

    Bennett: All right.

    Johnson: Well, Christ Church was right up from Hagley Yard, to the left.

    Bennett: All right, and where — were the walnut trees up there?

    Johnson: No, they were in Hagley Yard, in the Powder Yard.

    Bennett: Oh, okay, they're not the ones...

    Johnson: All scattered all through the woods and over the ground.

    Bennett: There goes the walnuts.

    Johnson: But the walnut trees are extinct now.

    Bennett: Okay because — where were Miss Mary's walnuts, do you know that?

    Johnson: Well Miss Mary was away from the Hagley Yard. You had to walk up Breck's Lane and she lived on the hill where Tatnall School is today, that was Miss Mary du Pont's.

    Bennett: That was Miss Mary's — all right, and she had walnuts up there?

    Johnson: She had chessie trees, chestnut trees, and when the chestnuts was right, all the children went over there and she allowed us to have all the chestnuts we wanted, but she had an old caretaker there and he was very cranky and he used to try to chase us. Miss Mary come out one day and she told him the children were to have the chestnuts, so we used to get a broomstick and put a couple of bolts on it or more and then we'd throw that up into the tree and then the burrs would fall down and then we got the chestnuts. We used to take sugar bags with us and fill them. Sometimes we'd put them in the oven and roasted them, sometimes we boiled them, but I liked them plain because I liked the crunching of the nuts, they were sweet, they were so sweet. Miss Mary was good, she was good to us. Many times we sat on the porch and talked to her, and she faced the Pike, you know, the front of the house faced the Pike.

    Bennett: Was she a big lady?

    Johnson: No, well I wouldn't...

    [Unidentified woman]: I'm sorry - go ahead, this is falling down.

    Johnson: Oh, I know. Well, I wouldn't say she was a small lady, she was well built. And she didn't tighten herself up any, you could always see - she had quite a tummy and - she was a good-sized lady, but I wouldn't say she was overly large, and she was old, you know, she was kind of stooped a little bit.

    Bennett: That could be - I've seen a picture and I just wondered.

    Johnson: Yes, she was kinda stooped, and she always wore dark clothes, like black clothes, and she'd always have like a dark shawl around her, yeah, but very good to the children.
  • Afternoon activities including playing and chores; her mother's quilting group; typical dinner and dinner conversation; learning to fight for herself; her mother baking bread; her father reading from the Bible and the children teaching him spelling and arithmetic
    Keywords: Baking; Bible study; Families--Religious life; Fathers and daughters; Girls--Conduct of life; Jump ropes; Quilting; Working class families; Working class women--Social life and customs; Working class--Education
    Transcript: Bennett: Alrighty, if you took, or some of the children took your Father's lunch to the Yards, after that, what would you do in the afternoon and what would you do after school? When you came home from school, would you change clothes?

    Johnson: Oh yes, we took our school clothes off and put our play clothes - play dress on. And then we helped prepare the vegetables and prepare the potatoes for Mother for supper. And then later on some of us would go up, turn the beds down, take the spreads off, and turn the beds down, get them ready for us children. We'd get the lamps ready to light, so they would be ready for Mother to take upstairs when we went - sometimes us children carried them up, and then in real, real cold weather, upstairs is very cold, but the chimneys extended out - oh a good ways out in the corner - they took up the whole corner, oh they looked about six feet wide and maybe four feet back. Well, it was so cold when we went up there, us children got around these big chimneys, and it was heat coming out of them, and we would undress and put our nightgowns on and then Mother would come up and put the covers on us. We didn't have many blankets, but Mother was always making quilts, and she made good, heavy quilts and lined the quilts. Sometimes when you got in bed, you'd think it was a two-ton truck laying on top of you, but you stayed there because those quilts kept you warm. [Laughs]. She always kept the quilting things up, and the neighbors, every night in the week, like they'd go to one neighbor's house and they'd quilt, and they'd get a cup of tea, biscuits or something to eat, and then they would go to another house another night and quilt for Mrs. Beacom. And they'd quilt for Mrs. Consono, they'd quilt for Mrs. Miller — they took turns going to the different houses. That was their quilting parties, that was the nights that there was no prayer meetings, because when we had prayer meeting, they all went to prayer meeting. And up there we had prayer meeting at least once a week, sometimes twice a week. Vans used to come around.

    Bennett: This was always from Squirrel Run.

    Johnson: Mostly — I remember more from Squirrel Run — I don't remember too much — see I was maybe three or four when I left...

    Bennett: In the afternoon, after school, did you ever have time to play?

    Johnson: Yes, we used to go out and jump rope for hours, we used to go on somebody's steps or porch and play jacks for hours, until we were called when supper was ready — Mother would call the older girls in and they had to put the supper on the table and see that the table was set, put the chairs around the table. Sometimes we used that little bench that Helen has, and it would go to the table, and someone would sit there. There was eleven people to sit down, you know, to a meal.

    Bennett: Did you always eat your dinner together, when you could, I mean?

    Johnson: Yes, yes. Unless Father had to work overtime.

    Bennett: But it was the normal thing in your family that the family ate together?

    Johnson: Normal for us all to eat together. And Mother and Father never eat their - Father would take care of one side of the table, fill their plates, and Mother took care of the other side, filled their plates, before they eat, and then they fixed their plates.

    Bennett: Did you start with grace?

    Johnson: Yes, we said grace many times, not always, but many times. And Father would always say, whether he called it grace or not, he'd put up both hands and he would say, "God bless this food, and God bless the hands that has prepared this food."

    Bennett: Well, that's grace, I would say. Yes, Yes, he would say that at the beginning of dinner, right?

    Johnson: Yes.

    Bennett: Did you all sit at the same seat, or did you just scramble for any seat?

    Johnson: No, we had our own seats.

    Bennett: You had your own seat. While you were eating dinner, could you talk?

    Johnson: Oh yes, we talked, but if Father had something to say to Mother, he'd say, "I want quietness, now, while I tell your Mother so and so." He didn't allow a lot of conversing and all, he'd say, "Now eat your dinner, eat your dinner while it's hot. Don't be talking there now." But we could talk all we wanted to afterwards, but we didn't do a lot of talking at the table. If we wanted to tell something that happened at school or something, Father would listen.

    Bennett: Would he ask you what happened at school?

    Johnson: Well, he would ask us how we were making out, and of course Father wasn't educated and if we told him we got a B or a C or a D, he would think we were doing good. He's say, "Well, that's good." And Mother didn't take much interest in report cards, Father was the one that mostly signed it, sometimes she signed it, but not too often. I remember one time I was coming down Breck's Lane and a boy from school slapped me or something, we had an argument or something, but he slapped me, and I went home crying. And I was telling Father at supper, this boy smacked me, I guess I was about seven or eight, and he says, "Well, I don't want to hear it." He said, "Why didn't you slap him back?" Now he says, "Don't come home crying to me, the next person that whips you, if you don't whip them back, don't come home to me." So the next couple of days I met this one boy, a smart aleck, I met him and I said, "I dare you to touch me." He said, "I'll touch you all right." I knocked him down, I beat him and I sat on him and I was a hundred pound, I sat on him. And he never touched me again or nobody. Because my Father told me to fight for myself. He said, "Don't come home crying to me," he said, "because I don't want to hear it."

    Bennett: And you did what you were told.

    Johnson: We all were taught to take care of our self, and we did - all the children up at the Village, they were all taught to take care of their self, and if they couldn't take care of themselves, don't come home crying. The children were never allowed to go home crying and telling them their difficulties or what was done to you. You were taught to take care of yourself, and we did.

    Bennett: Can you tell me what you would have had for a typical dinner, supper?

    Johnson: Well, sometimes it was fried scrapple and sometimes boiled potatoes and sometimes mashed turnips and on Sunday for our dessert we mostly had either prunes, prunes was only twelve cents a box then, that was a Sunday dessert, a dish a prunes, we had those big old, looked like cut glass, but they weren't, you know, pressed glass. And Mother would make applesauce, they weren't much for pie and cake - it had to be something special for Mother to make a cake, but no icing was on the cake.

    [Unidentified man]: I guess our time — lady just appeared.

    Johnson: What time is it?

    [Unidentified man]: Three— thirty.

    Johnson: No, I have two hours privacy up here. [crosstalk]

    Bennett: So you would have had scrapple, but you would have had mostly fruit for dessert. Did you always have dessert of some sort?

    Johnson: No. On Sunday we had prunes or we had applesauce. Once in a while Mother used to make a pie, but she wasn't much good, didn't make such good pies, but we eat it.

    Bennett: Did she make her own bread?

    Johnson: Oh, yes, she made bread twice a week. She made eight and nine loaves twice a week.

    Bennett: Which days did she bake?

    Johnson: She baked, I think, on a Tuesday and she baked on a Friday.

    Bennett: And what day did she iron?

    Johnson: She washed on Monday and she ironed all day Tuesday, sometimes she ironed until nine or ten o'clock at night, there was a lot of ironing. There was none of these new fandangles.

    Bennett: No, u— huh, that's true. Now, like at the end of the day, would you describe after dinner what you did, whether you did your homework, whether you played, whether you read — before getting ready for bed.

    Johnson: Well, after dinner, Father used to take the Bible and he'd read, a chapter - take from a chapter, and read the verses. Then he would explain that to the children, the verses, and I remember and never forgot, one time he said, "Now remember this, what is the shortest verse in the Bible?" And we said, "Well, you'll have to tell us." He said, "Jesus wept." He said, "That's the shortest verse in the Bible." And I always remembered it, and he explained it all to us and we, I know a good bit about the Bible. We have Bible study and lessons here every Monday. And she asks questions, I can answer them.

    Bennett: I believe that, yes.

    [Unidentified man]: She's the only one that can.

    Bennett: Did he read from the Bible every evening, or just like on a Sunday?

    Johnson: Most every evening unless company was coming over, and when company come, the gentlemen come early in the evening and stayed late, or unless they were going to go to a prayer meeting. They had, wanted - he had a brother down on the East side, sometimes went down to see him. Carfare was only five cents.

    Bennett: Then the children would do homework?

    Johnson: Yes, after the Bible, we all got our lessons out and studied our lessons there and my Father wasn't educated and my Father sat down with us and the older girls taught my Father to do spelling. He didn't know how to do it, but they taught him to do spelling and they taught him to do arithmetic and my Father could do arithmetic standing up on the floor, he didn't need a pencil or paper, he could go — give interest and compound interest. He'd say, "Well, if it's five cents on a dollar, and there are so many dollars." - he'd times it, and he'd say, "That's your answer." We educated our Father afterwards.

    Bennett: Yes, you did.

    Johnson: And Mother too. My Mother had no more education than my Father. See in Ireland there was no rules for going to school.

    Bennett: School, that's true, yes.

    Johnson: My Father was working at nine years of age.

    Bennett: Would your Mother be doing needlework or...

    Johnson: No, she'd be doing quilting.

    Bennett: She would be quilting.

    Johnson: And she sewed all of the children's clothes, and she sewed by hand and when she bought clothes for the children, she ordered a bolt of goods and it would be like a little lawn with little flowers or leaves in it. But when we went out, the quintuplets had nothing on us, there was nine went out dressed in the same dresses and the same shoes. But we were happy, tickled to death to have a new dress.

    Bennett: Sure, sure.

    Johnson: And she made our petticoats and many a time she made our panties and lots of times when we got the great, big bag of flour, she bleached the flour bag and made it white, and she'd make a couple or three pair of panties out of that. Sometimes, it was Gold Medal across the back — it finally bleached out and we had white panties — she put a little lace on it, a little embroidery, but we knew all the rest had practically the same thing.

    Bennett: Oh sure.

    Johnson: There's one thing, you didn't feel as though somebody was dressed better than you because we were all poor and they were all....

    Bennett: It was not that important, I don't believe, was it?

    Johnson: No, no, nobody cared. As long as we were clean.

    Bennett: That's right.

    Johnson: They liked cleanliness and we were clean. And those houses, the floors were scrubbed — a lot of them didn't have carpets, but those floors were scrubbed white as snow. The stairs was as white as snow, you could eat off of them. Oh, Mother would say, "Take a bucket of water now and go scrub them up stairs — the attic stairs now, they don't look very good." But some of them were painted white. I never knew why with a houseful of children, but they were painted white and looked like white enamel, but they'd get dirty and we'd have to clean them.

    Bennett: Talk a little louder if you can.

    Johnson: Okay.
  • Getting ready for bed and household sleeping arrangements; bedroom furniture and decorations; her father paying for a pew at Christ Church and sending the children with pennies every Sunday
    Keywords: Bedroom furniture; Bedtime; Children's choirs; Children--Health and hygiene; Christ Church Christiana Hundred (Wilmington, Del.); Families--Religious life; Flannel; Nightgowns; Outhouses; Teeth--Care and hygiene; Tithes
    Transcript: Bennett: Now right before you were going to bed, did you wash and brush your teeth and comb your hair, or did you do those things in the morning or how — did you have a routine for going to bed?

    Johnson: Well, when we were ready to go to bed, we were all told to go down to the outhouse and very few had to bother in through the night, unless they were sick or something. Went out to the outhouse — took numbers, so many went - there was only two seats, so, there were nine of us, so we took turns going into the outhouse. Then we come up and there was a bench with a basin, big, white, enamel basin on the front porch, and we had tar soap, so we washed and we cleaned and we brushed our hair when we went upstairs. And Mother - we had outing flannel nightgowns, would come down over our feet so our feet wouldn't be cold — Mother made them.

    Bennett: She made you the outing flannel nightgown?

    Johnson: She made the nightgown, and then she tucked the covers down and kissed us goodnight, went downstairs and we were there until morning, til she called us.

    Bennett: Where did you keep your nightgowns, downstairs and undress there, or did you undress upstairs?

    Johnson: No, upstairs in the bedroom back of the chimney — there was a door come out and there was two rows of nails on it and each one had a nail.

    Bennett: You had a nail?

    Johnson: U— huh, in our room, in the other room they had the door with nails. And there was a closet in Father's room, Mother. The carpenter built a big closet in there, but Father had one suit to put in it and Mother had one black dress that hung in there and we had bureaus to put the other things in. We didn't have many clothes. My nephew said to me one time, Norman McClaren, he said, "Auntie, remember when we lived in them houses, there wasn't many closets." And I said, "No, son." And he thought for a minute, he says, "Well, Auntie, we didn't have many clothes either, did we?" I said, "No, a nail held all we had." We didn't, we had play dress, we had school clothes and we had Sunday, that was it. And when one wore out, then Mother would take the school clothes, hand down, have them for play, then she'd make school clothes for it, the good Sunday, we'd get for school, then she'd make a Sunday dress for us.

    Bennett: Now, I've forgotten what I was going to ask you. When you were speaking, something went through my mind, now I've completely forgotten what it was.

    Johnson: Well, you asked me something about we did go - if it was light, until it got dark we could go out, after we got our school things, and when the wintertime, we could go sledding, but we had to be home and in the house eight o'clock. If we didn't, we didn't get out the next night.

    Bennett: I know what it was, you talked about washing at the shed. How about in the wintertime, did you wash in the kitchen?

    Johnson: Yeah, Mother washed in the kitchen because it was heavy linoleum.

    Bennett: It would be, that you would wash up — all right.

    Johnson: Mother had the bench and the two tubs, and the tubs were half barrels of the powder mills — the barrels...

    Bennett: No, I meant washing up your face and hands after you had to...

    Johnson: Oh no, we had the porch outside.

    Bennett: But how about in the winter?

    Johnson: We went out there in the wintertime.

    Bennett: You did it out...

    Johnson: And Mother had a roller towel that hung up over the bench, a roller towel, white, wasn't linen, was crash, and we washed out - no matter how cold it was, and she had a wash rag there and we washed our face. And we used to clean our teeth, we used to go down to the hydrant where the water would run and we could clean our teeth as long as we wanted to, see and it would all run down the drain. We didn't clean up in the rooms with a basin, cup or anything like that, we went down. Oh, we had sweaters and skating caps and things like that.

    Bennett: But that water must have been like ice, I would think.

    Johnson: Well, we...

    Bennett: It was — but if you're used to it, I suppose...

    Johnson: And sometimes we only had baking soda or salt to clean our teeth with, but that's what we cleaned them with.

    Bennett: It's the best to have.

    Johnson: But it kept our teeth good. We all had teeth.

    Bennett: Would you describe the bedrooms and would you tell me who slept where, you had how many bedrooms? And now, let's say, Squirrel Run.

    Johnson: Six.

    Bennett: You had six bedrooms at Squirrel Run?

    Johnson: Large rooms. In the front room, there was a white enamel bed, Father and Mother slept there, and they used to keep the door shut at night. Us children thought they were always hiding money, we'd go in the next day to look, but we never found any money. Well anyway, they were very modest in them days. And next to it was another large bedroom, another large bedroom. Well, two of the girls, older girls, slept in there, there was a white enamel bed in there, and a bureau and a chest of drawers, bare floors. Then you went up the stairway to the attics, and there was one in front and one in back, well in the attic, there was six of us slept in there, no, there was four of us. There was a big, oak bed, I can remember just like yesterday, it was like golden lookin', solid oak, and it had big knobs on it. Well, my two older sisters, Nellie and Bella slept in that. Then there was a bed across the room and you could dance in the middle of the floor, then Charlotte and Mary slept in that, and it was a black walnut bed, like little spools on it — would be worth a fortune today, that was it. Then in the back room, my step— mother's two children and a little boy slept back there - boy died later. But anyway, in there was another little walnut bed, and it was a spool bed, and it was a full— sized bed, and her three children slept in that - the oldest girl was out to work. They were wooden beds.

    Bennett: Would they have curtains at the windows?

    Johnson: No, the attics didn't have them because Mother said nobody could see up there anyway.

    Bennett: Did you have pictures on the walls?

    Johnson: Well, if us children wanted to put a picture up sometime. Sometimes we'd out something out of the paper we liked, it was colored, put it on the wall.

    Bennett: How about the parents' bedroom, did they have pictures on the wall?

    Johnson: Yes, oh yes, there was large pictures up there. I think my step-mother had her husband's picture up there and I think my Father then put his first wife's picture up there. [Laughter] Today they're using them frames for, oh little knick-knacks, you know, put shelves in them. They were frames, golden frames that extended out about two inches or more. Now they're buying those up, getting a good price for them, then they put little shelves in them, then they put little knick— knacks on them. There's a name for that.

    [Unidentified man]: Shadow box.

    Johnson: Shadow box, that's what they're used for.

    [Unidentified man]: Antique dealer told me that the other day.

    Johnson: Yeah, that's what they are used for.

    Bennett: Yeah, yeah. Did they have any other decorations in the room — did they have like a lounge chair or something like that?

    Johnson: No, rocking chairs.

    Bennett: Rocking chairs, did they have a rocking chair in their bedroom?

    Johnson: Yes.

    Bennett: And did they have a bedspread - you said, you mentioned bedspreads, everybody had bedspreads, yes.

    Johnson: White bedspread.

    Bennett: Okay. I don't know how much longer do you have?

    Johnson: It's up to you, whenever you want to stop, I'll stop.

    Bennett: Well, I can go on if you feel all right.

    Johnson: Yes, I'm all right. I eat dinner at five o'clock.

    Bennett: I have twenty of four.

    Johnson: Oh, that's all right, that's all right.

    Bennett: All righty.

    [Unidentified woman]: You've been talking for two hours though, Auntie, I don't think you should talk too much.

    Johnson: No, I'll give her what I got down 'cause I may not feel up to it another time, and I'm in the mood and ready to talk.

    Bennett: Oh, I'm so glad you're in the mood because it's so interesting. Let's talk about the weekly routine. You had told me some of these things already, but would you describe going to church. I'd like to know if you went as a group on Sunday or if the children went separately?

    Johnson: Well, Father worked on Sunday, mostly.

    Bennett: Oh, he did?

    Johnson: Oh yeah, that yard run — Sunday — Monday — Tuesday, every day. Once in a while he was off.

    Bennett: All righty, but now, did the children go with your Mother to church?

    Johnson: No, no, Mother had to stay home and do the cooking and get the dinner ready, and we eat at twelve o'clock or half past, as soon as we come from church.

    Bennett: From church.

    Johnson: But all the other girls, we all went up to Christ Church. We went to Sunday School first, then we went over to church, I think it was ten. Sunday School was from nine to ten, and I think at ten we went over, or half past ten, to church, and we were told. And before we went out to Sunday School, Father was sitting on the settee, he'd say, "Now be sure and come alongside of me, now, until I give you your money for church, for Sunday School." Well, we each got a penny, and I don't think Christ Church would have ever stood if my Father hadn't set up eight cents, whatever we had, every Sunday. Then he gave us a penny for church, and he'd say, "Now don't lose it, let the minister see you putting that penny in there." He wanted to be acknowledged. He paid four dollars for a pew in Christ Church for the year, we had to pay for pews in them days. But my Father thought it was a racket, four dollars, now that was about eight cents or so a Sunday, counting the fifty-three Sundays, and four dollars for the whole year. My Father said it could have been less than that, because he thought that somebody was making money off of that four dollars, but he said, and he'd say to us, "All sit in the pew now, your Father's pew. Let the minister see that that pew isn't idle, that we're using it." And he was getting his four dollars worth, so we went into the pew.

    And then we got older, the Sunday School children, I think I was about fourteen or fifteen, they picked the ones out that had any kind of a voice, of course we thought we had a voice, and they put us all in the choir. They didn't pay the choir years ago, but I think the children, mostly, were put in there to keep them quiet, and they could sing. Sometimes they were on tune, sometimes they were off tune, but who cared? Everybody was listening. It was a hymn being sung, and of course we would sing most of them Nearer my God to Thee, Rock of Ages — well we knew that by heart, we didn't need to look at the book at all, we had that, so we'd sing. Then later on, of course, we had paid singers, somebody who could sing. But they would put up with us children.

    Bennett: Did you, in the afternoon, ever go visiting? Relatives on a Sunday?

    Johnson: No, most times after dinner, why we could go...

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