Interview with William Craven Jr., 1987 July 31 [audio]
- Transformations to the area around Craven's childhood home.; Outhouses and Cisterns; Former home and neighborsSynopsis: Using photographs and drawings Craven discusses the changes that took place in the area of his former childhood home on Walker's Bank, across from Henry Clay Village. He talks about watching freight trains go past his house. He talks about outhouses and cisterns. He says that the location of his former home is near Hagley's bus garage and a parking lot. He talks about a junk dealer he knew as a child, named Pierre Ferraro.Keywords: Cisterns; Hagley Museum and Library; Hagley Yard; Henry Clay (Del.: Village); Homes; Outhouses; Photographs; Pierre Ferraro; Walker's Bank; Walker's MillTranscript: McKelvey: Good morning, we're quarter of eleven on July 31, 1987, talking with Bill Craven about many things, but what we have in front of us is a map of the housing at Walker's Bank and we're just going to chat for a while. And we're recording this because I have such a lousy memory. I'm going to put the recorder right here, Bill. And we can just work right around it. Okay, 18, 17 and 16 are those three...
McKelvey: They almost look Victorian in the photographs.
Craven: Right, uh-huh. Yeah, there they are there. And then this is the stone block here that was torn down, 15, 14 and 12.
McKelvey: And now in your early memory, who lived in each of these. .
Craven: Well I've listed that on the back.
McKelvey: Oh great.
Craven: There's a list of who lived where. I started - the bridge is over here, Rising Sun Bridge.
McKelvey: On the right hand side of the paper.
Craven: And the hill went right up here, the road went up the hill here.
McKelvey: Do you remember when the hill went straight up before they put the curve in?
Craven: Yes, it wasn't changed until 1948 or '49 when the Experimental Station was expanded up into this area, took over all the old golf course area. That's when they built the present road which swings right through here and goes right up along this way.
McKelvey: That's right. And there was no road or path up there before?
Craven: None, no. It was as I show it here. The bridge, as I say, is here, and the road went up this way. We called it Lloyd's Hill, my Mother called it Kindbeiter's Hill.
Craven: There was a house...
McKelvey: Now why Lloyd's, was there a Lloyd family living there?
Craven: I have no idea.
McKelvey: Because Kindbeiter's lived there.
Craven: Yeah, I have no idea where the name came from. The house that was right at the bottom of the hill, right about here, which was just on the bank over top of the gate, and there was a family lived there named Bradshaw. I don't show that here. He worked at the Station.
McKelvey: That would be right off the right of the paper?
Craven: Yes, right up in here. There were several steps going up to it, it was very high up.
McKelvey: And that was on the other side of the road?
Craven: On the other side of the road, right.
McKelvey: And what was the name of the bridge, do you remember?
Craven: They just called it the Rising Sun Bridge.
McKelvey: Rising Sun Bridge.
Craven: The only term I ever heard for it. It was a covered bridge until '28 when they put in the present bridge.
McKelvey: I think that's one I've heard called "New Bridge."
Craven: Oh yes, that's it's official name. The official name of this road is New Bridge Road. The one that went on up the hill is called New Bridge Road.
McKelvey: That would be after the covered bridge I would think?
Craven: I don't know when it got that name.
McKelvey: When they put the new bridge in.
Craven: The railroad station on the Reading Railroad at Rising Sun Lane is called the New Bridge Station.
McKelvey: That's right, that's right.
Craven: There was a little siding there and there was a little building where the station master set, guy named Fastnacht? was the station master when I was there. He had five fingers, six fingers on one hand, too, I remember that. His little finger was doubled, he had another extra one coming out.
McKelvey: Is that the building that's still there, right on that curve?
Craven: Right on the, yes, as you go under the bridge, say going up the hill, it would be on your sharp right, and it's right on the tracks. The tracks are only a few feet away from the building. That was the station master's house of the Reading Railroad.
McKelvey: Going uphill it would be on the...
Craven: Going uphill, it would be on the right, on the inside of the curve.
Craven: The siding was on the other side, the other side of Rising Sun. And there was a building over there that they used for storage, right there on the left side as you go up the hill, which was a big frame warehouse type building where the train would unload and they could use that for freight, all that sort of thing. I remember all the pieces that went in Alfred I.'s tower came in that way. I can remember all pink marble coming in by train, they unloaded it there, put it on trucks and took it up, I remember seeing that myself when it was under construction. But the family that lived up here was named Bradshaw and lived there in the '30s and '40s when I was there. Mr. Bradshaw, the father, died a couple of years ago at the age of 84. He went to work at the Station when he was twelve years old as an office boy, and when he retired at the age of 62, with fifty years of service, he told me, he said, "Well I think fifty years is enough time to work.” I couldn't believe he worked that long. I asked my Mother, and She said, "Oh yeah, I remember he went to work as a boy, he went to work young." He spent his whole life working there. Of course the Experimental Station we always referred to as the Lower Yard because of the three yards, you know, this is the Upper Yard, then there was Hagley Yard, and then the Lower Yard. And some of the old-timers, you still hear them use that expression, but within the DuPont Company, that expression is not used, so I've gotten in the habit of calling it the Station, the Experimental Station. If I said, “ Lower Yard" at Louviers, they wouldn't know what I was talking about.
So there were two roads as you turned left coming off the bridge, the road split and one went right down along the stone wall, it was kinda steep down low and went in front of the houses all along here.
McKelvey: That would be in front of the buildings still there?
McKelvey: Where our gardener and our Service Division men live.
Craven: Yes. And that we called the Front Road. There was another road that split and came around this way and it split again at this point, and this way it went down around this way and joined the Front Road here.
McKelvey: And that's the road that we come into our Walker's Mill exhibit laboratory.
Craven: Yes, that's the paved part now, down here.
Craven: And at this point it split and went up and went behind these houses and came to a dead end up here.
McKelvey: Now, yes.
Craven: And your garage is right about here.
McKelvey: So our bus garage is on the, well going up the back road, it's on the righthand side. Nos. 18, 17 and 16 are probably in that paved area?
Craven: Yes. Yes, I was up there once and looked
McKelvey: In front of these porches?
Craven: ...and right where No. 17 sat is now a parking lot, all macadam.
Craven: In fact, you can see the front steps to No. 17.
McKelvey: Why yes, we use those front steps to get from Walker's Mill up to the bus garage, we've been using those steps all these years.
Craven: Yeah, there are two pine trees growing there, yeah, I planted those pine trees.
McKelvey: Yes. Oh, that's great.
Craven: Yeah, back around 1941 or thereabouts. This is kind of an overall picture of it and I don't really identify things too carefully here. This is a wall and these are the out buildings and these are cisterns, you know, this is the well.
McKelvey: Okay, the round ones are cisterns?
Craven: Yes, these are springs.
McKelvey: Now cisterns for...
Craven: Privies. And this row here still exists, that's the only one left.
McKelvey: Now, that's 4, 6 10, 26 and 27?
Craven: Yes, right. The Ferrarros lived here a long time. Yes, No. 4. This one...
McKelvey: Now wait a minute, do you remember anyone living in No. 6?
Craven: Yes, prior to 1937 was a Dougherty family and there was another Dougherty family used to live here too. That's the one they called Goat Dougherty. Goat Dougherty lived...
McKelvey: In the center one right here.
Craven: In the center one just as you're coming in...
McKelvey: In this row, yeah. In that first row, which doesn't have a name or any numbers.
Craven: No, I don't know the numbers there. I kind of suspect it was 1, 2, 3, because we start with 4 there.
McKelvey: I'm going to put an "A" right where you say Goat Dougherty lived.
Craven: There used to be a little bush there which was right in front of his place, right at his front door.
McKelvey: Near the river?
Craven: On the road, right on the road.
McKelvey: Around the road?
Craven: Yes. That property, this row, was torn down just before I can remember and I came on the scene in 1930 when we moved from Wilmington out here, my Mother went back to her family, and at that time all the rubble here was fresh. I figure that was torn down maybe a year before that, or something like that, so I don't really remember this row of houses.
McKelvey: But you think there were maybe three houses?
Craven: That's what I understand, three, yes.
McKelvey: Where did that stone go, do you know?
Craven: It's still laying there. I don't think any of that was salvaged. It was all in a heap right there.
McKelvey: It's still there?
Craven: Probably overgrown now with weeds and whatnot. Also some of this area was filled in.
McKelvey: Oh, for the road?
Craven: When they widened this entrance here, and they filled in all the way to this wall, so it probably went over into that area somewhat. But over here, as you-get to where Ferraros lived, I don't think that was filled in, so the rubble should be right under the surface. In fact, it used to be on the surface and the weeds and things gradually accumulated. Pierre Ferraro used to keep this whole area out. He would go out there with a sickle, a hand sickle, and cut it day after day, that was his hobby, keeping all the grass cut here, and down here in front of his place.
- Neighbors and nicknames; The other homes on Walker's Bank; Color of his childhood home; How the Ferraros kept their family homeSynopsis: Craven talks about the many Dougherty families in the area and lists some of the nicknames that the different branches of the family were called. He talks about other homes on Walker's Bank, their sizes, and their basements. He talks about a member of the Dougherty family who owns a watch that belonged to a grandfather who died in an explosion at Hagley Yard. He talks about the steep stairs in the houses and how large furniture had to be brought in through windows. He recalls coffins (for home funerals) subjected to the same treatment. He talks about the colors of neighborhood buildings. He says his home was blue. He talks about how the Ferraro family kept their home by appealing to Pierre Samuel du Pont when other members of the family tried to get them to move out. He says that some of them lived into their 90s.Keywords: Breck's Lane (Wilmington, Del); Church Street (Wilmington, Del.); Du Pont, Pierre S. (Pierre Samuel), 1870-1954; Nicknames; Pierre Ferraro; Rising Sun Lane (Wilmington, Del.)Transcript: McKelvey: Now, you say there was a Dougherty that lived in No. 6, did he have a nickname, that family?
Craven: No, I don't know of any for that family.
McKelvey: Now what were some of the other Dougherty nicknames?
Craven: Well, there was the ones that lived on Rising Sun Lane, they were called the “ Rising Sun Dougherty" and there were some lived on Breck's Lane, and they were called the "Breck"s Lane Dougherty" and there were some lived on Church Street, and they were called the "Church Street Dougherty" they lived right next to where the school is now. The house is still there, right in front of the school almost, and that was the Church Street Dougherty. There was another one I heard of called “ Cow Dougherty,” but I never identified where they lived. I don't know how those people, whether they would take kindly to those nicknames or not.
McKelvey: The reason I ask is that just shortly after we talked the last time was a woman who called from the mid west somewhere out in Ohio or Indiana, and she was a Dougherty and she was wondering if I could tell her about her family. I said, "My goodness, there are so many Dougherty's that worked in the powder yards," and then that story came to mind, that they had nicknames for them based on where they lived.
Craven: Yeah, if she knew where they lived, she could find a little more about them. And of course through marriage, they were related to almost everybody you know, almost everybody had a Dougherty in their family tree somewhere. It was like Smith, you know, Smith or Jones.
McKelvey: So this row is the one that's still there.
Craven: This row was torn down.
McKelvey: That's 12, 14 and 15?
Craven: Yes, that was torn down in 1950.
McKelvey: What happened to 13?
Craven: I don't know.
McKelvey: Do you suppose they were superstitious?
Craven: Could be, I don't know. Now I figure 8 was the one that was here.
McKelvey: 8 must have been with the 10 where the dog leg is.
Craven: Where 10 is now, yes, 'cause this was, at one time, three separate houses, and it was broken in and made one.
McKelvey: Yeah, three separate living...
Craven: I think the Ferraro's was broken in, it used to be one up here and one there.
McKelvey: So the Ferraro's would have been a two-family situation, and No. 10 would have had three families. Yes, that makes sense. Very much like 27 and 6 are right now.
Craven: Right. These three were never enlarged or never changed to my knowledge, never modernized. So this Dougherty here...
McKelvey: That's 27 and 6 were not.
Craven: And 26, no, 26, 27 and 6 were never modernized, were never made bigger. And 6, for instance, consists of three rooms, one vertical, one above the other, one above the other, with a circular stairway in the corner here. And 27 and 26 were two stories with the attic, Now they had the entire attic, this was a peaked roof, so their attic actually came across No. 6, 27's third floor was on top of No. 6, so they, in effect, had three stories also. The basement was down below here and it was split, and this half was for 27 and that half was for No. 6.
McKelvey: And it was split lengthwise?
Craven: Split this way, yes.
McKelvey: Okay, from front to back, towards the river. So it must have been a very narrow basement.
Craven: Yes, it wasn't very big, yeah. And the Dougherty family that lived here, there's one survivor of that family left, and I don't think he had any children, his name is Andy Dougherty, he's suffering now from cancer and he doesn't expect to live too long and I was talking to him a few months ago, he's retired from the Motor Vehicle Division, he worked at 8th and Bancroft there for quite a while, and I don't think he has any children, I'm sure he does not. He had two sisters; I understand both of them are dead with no heirs. His grandfather was killed in a powder explosion here at Hagley and his body was identified after the explosion by a pocket watch that was on his person, and had some identification in it. The impact of the explosion dented the cover on the pocket watch, and Andy Dougherty has that pocket watch today, he still has it, he told me. A few years ago he said he sent it to a jeweler to get it back in working order, and he thinks the jeweler made it worse than it was (laughs) before, his gold watch. He prizes it very highly. I don't know what will happen to it when he's gone.
McKelvey: Do you suppose he would be willing to be interviewed by us?
Craven: Oh, I'm sure he would, yeah. I don't know that he has any objection to something like that. He's talked free with me. Of course one of the things I've found is that the local people around here, in talking to one another, talk freely, but when a stranger comes along, you know, they clam up. Right, yup. I don't know why that is, I never felt that way myself.
McKelvey: We find that the men are more reluctant to speak to us than women.
Craven: Is that right?
McKelvey: Women will talk about all manner of things, it's marvelous. We learned a great deal. Okay, in 12, 14, and 15, you say that was torn down in 1950?
Craven: Yes. And was the stone... Some of it was salvaged. Some of the stone on the front here there was bare stone, Brandywine granite for the front steps and it was in good condition because the rest of it was kind of covered with a stucco or a cement, I'm not sure what that finish is, kind of a stucco I believe.
McKelvey: Did it have little stones in it, the Stucco?
McKelvey: Or was it pretty smooth?
Craven: And it was kind of soft, it would flake off, so it may have been some kind of weak cement or stucco finish. But when you removed it, the stone was discolored underneath. So this stone out here was never covered on the front steps, the front porch. The railings were made of stone, for instance, and that portion, exactly how much of it I don't know, was salvaged and was used to build the walls of the Greenville Post Office up there in the Shield's Shopping Center. That's on the right hand end of the shopping center as you View it. I haven't looked at it lately, they may have added on to it since I've been there, but that's where it went.
The rest of the stone was not salvaged to my knowledge. Of course at the time that this demolition was going on, this belonged to the Du Pont Company and they weren't interested in salvage. Prior to that, when other houses were torn down, Copeland, for instance, salvaged stone. Hallock du Pont salvaged a lot of stone.
Up on top of Rising Sun, the little development up there now they call Henry Clay Village, and that was built on an old empty garden, what used to be a garden there. And on Rising Sun, I don't know if it's still there, there was a little wall about two feet high that ran from the corner of 19th Street down to the first house where the Farren family used to live. And that wall was built from stone from houses that had been torn down.
McKelvey: And that's where the Farrens lived?
Craven: Yes, yes the Farren and Rowe family lived there after they left here.
McKelvey: Oh, Farren started at 19, Walker's Bank?
Craven: Yes, uh-huh, right next to the...
McKelvey: And moved up on Rising Sun. Did you remember the Grandmother Farren?
Craven: No, no. No, she died before my time. I can remember him, though, the grandfather.
McKelvey: She was very famous in the neighborhood as being a nice person, always helpful. Remember, Bill, you mentioning the problems of trying to move into some of these.
Craven: Oh yes. These houses have circular stairways.
McKelvey: Like 26, 27 and 6?
Craven: And 6, yeah. And you can't carry anything of any size up there. In fact, when you walk up the steps yourself, you have to duck your head, and the steps are so steep that you could put your hand out and touch the steps as you go up, they're very steep and narrow. So you can't - well, something like this typewriter stand, you could probably get up there, but something like this desk, you could never get up there. So anything of any size that was used for furniture, such as, for instance the upper levels where the bedrooms, the bureaus, the beds, the head- board, the end board, or the foot board for the beds, all had to be put in and out the windows. In case of No. 6 where they were one right above the other, the third floor is way up there. So what they would do is they would back the truck up to the, close to the building as possible so you could step off, if it was a covered truck it helped, you could step off the top of the truck right onto the roof of the porches that are on the front here. You could then pass the furniture up onto the roof in that fashion and then, with it sitting on the roof, they would tie a rope around it and one guy on the roof and another guy up in the window, the guy up in the window was pulling on the rope and the guy down below is guiding it, and you don't want it to drag up against the building because that would ruin the finish. So they'd have to kinda hold it out from the wall as it went up. And they would haul them up that way. Oh my. And when it was taken out, it had to come out the same way. It was very difficult. You had to have some healthy guys doing this too, especially if it was heavy. Yes, it was a problem getting big things in and out. This, I understand, was a problem back in the old days too, not so much, well not so great a problem, but it was a problem when people died and they had the funerals in the homes. They frequently took the coffins in and out the windows, because they couldn't get them in through the door- ways. I can recall attending one in Montchanin like that. When I was in the first grade, a girl, an Italian girl named Tangel, Annie Tangel, I remember her, she died, I don't remember from what reason, and the funeral was held from the home. And I think some of those homes are still up there, little tiny things with a wall out in front of them, they were painted pink and they were all tenant houses for one of the estates up there.
McKelvey: Is that the one with the concrete walls, and the concrete privies?
Craven: Yes. I don't remember the privies there, but I wouldn't be surprised. It was a concrete wall, or at least stone with concrete, it was smooth, and everything was painted pink. The houses were small, they kind of like a row, and I remember that they had to take her coffin in and out the window and lift it over that wall, and they had to have a lot of healthy guys doing that. It's very awkward to do that. But yes, moving in and out was a problems. In No. 4, where the Ferraro's lived, they had the stairway rebuilt so that it's kind of a square, you go up, then there's a landing, then it turns and then it goes straight up, so they don't curve anymore. No. 10, what is now 10, the curvature was also removed and the stairs, as I recall, are right along here, anyway right straight up to the two floors.
McKelvey: Did this block have a name?
Craven: I never heard of it having a name, no.
McKelvey: What color was it?
Craven: When I was a boy, it was blue, the exterior was blue.
McKelvey: All blue?
Craven: All blue.
McKelvey: But were there shutters or window frames, were they painted blue also?
Craven: No, I think they were white, I think they were white.
McKelvey: Why blue do you suppose?
Craven: I have no idea. Just like somebody was telling me recently just why St. Joe's on the Brandywine Church is yellow. They said that's the color Alfred I. was painting his house. He had paint left over and he gave it to them, so it became yellow and that's why it's still yellow. So maybe it was something like that, I don't know why it was blue. And then it was painted...
McKelvey: Now it's white, but when it peels, when the paint peels, you can still see that blue under there. It's a real bright blue, too.
Craven: Yeah, it was painted white, let's see, I think it was in the 40's it was painted white. I think it was blue when I lived there, and it was after that it was painted white. We don't have any color photographs, we didn't take pictures in color in those days, it was all black and white, so the pictures I have of that, taken there at No. 6, wouldn't show any color, you couldn't really tell unless, by the shade you might be able to figure out, but it seems to me it was blue. And I'm not sure when it was painted white, I think it was in the 40's. And we lived in No. 6 from 1937 until 1940. That was after the Dougherty's were there. And after we left, I don't know who moved in there, I don't remember who moved in there after we moved out. Somebody did, but I can't remember who it was. Now the Ferraro's lived in No. 4 forever, they were born there. And, you know, when Madeline, the last of them died, she was 97, Gino, I think, was 92 when he died, and Pierre, I think he died young, I think he was only 89 or something like that.
Craven: And Delphie, was the youngest in the family, and she definitely died young, I think she was only 49, no, was it 49 or 69? More likely 69 when she died, and she died in 1950. In fact they thought it was the stress of being evicted that caused her demise. I don't really know what she died from. I think I told you how this block was saved, that the Ferraro's wouldn't move. All these buildings were empty, all these homes here were empty, and all these were empty, everybody left. And as soon as they left, they would tear them down. This row was torn down, and these three houses were torn down and the Ferraro's were still there and stalling. They didn't refuse to go, they said “ We just haven't found a place. And the Station people were starting to get a little, you know, putting a little more pressure on them. Hallock was going to build them a place, or buy them a place, he offered them one of his tenant houses, they said "No, don't put anybody out on our account. He said, "I'll build you one, I've got an empty lot up there,” the far end of Church Street where the turnaround is now for 141, he said, "I'll build you one there, you can walk to church.” They said, "Naw, we don't want you to go to all that trouble. He said, "I'll buy you one down by St. Anne's.” This is where they like to go. They said "No." So it went, you know. And it dragged on, and they were the only ones there, everybody else is gone, the houses torn down, and what brought things to a climax, Pierre Ferraro wrote to Pierre du Pont up at Longwood and said, in effect, look what they're doing to us. So the story I got was that Pierre du Pont contacted Crawford Greenewalt, who was then President of the Company, he said, "What's the Company doing out there?” And Crawford didn't know, so the word came down through the ranks to the Station here, and then went back up again as to what was happening and P. S. was informed and he told them, in effect, knock it off, you know, let them alone. So the Ferraro's were told that they could stay. They were given lifetime rights to stay, and I guess everybody thought in a couple of years they would be gone anyway, but I knew they were going to be around a long while, they were healthy people.
McKelvey: So they actually saved that block.
Craven: Because the Ferraro's wouldn't move. If the Ferraro's had moved, that block would have been demolished.
McKelvey: I wish he had written his letter sooner.
Craven: Yeah, yeah. And my aunts always we should have done the same thing. We should have refused to move.
McKelvey: When was 17 torn down?
Craven: In 1950.
McKelvey: So they were all torn around that same time?
- Uncertainty about father's birth date and family history; Layout of the neighborhood and neighborsSynopsis: Craven talks about his family history, but says he is uncertain of details, like his father's birth year because Catholic churches in Ireland did not keep records because Irish Catholics did not trust the British government, which had only recently legalized Catholicism. He talks about his mother looking for a larger home for her and her five children. He continues to discuss the layout of his family's and neighbors homes, noting the placement of outhouses and the structures that replaced them over the years.Keywords: Catholicism; Change; Family; Great Depression; Ireland; Walker's Banks; Wilmington, Del.Transcript: Craven: Within six months, yeah. Let's see, when we moved here, we moved to Walker's Banks in 1930. My father had died in 1926 and his father, who lived with us, died in 1927, and my Mother was then alone with all us kids, five of us, in on Fourth Street, and her father, Patrick McDade, with his two daughters, Catherine and Elizabeth, were living at No. 18. Well, Patrick died in '29.
McKelvey: How old was he?
Craven: I'm not sure. My aunt tried to find out how old he was when she was putting a stone up at the cemetery and she came to the conclusion that he was probably born in 1852, or 1954. She was not really sure, so she put 1852 on the tombstone, and that's what's there, but she wasn't really sure. His birthday was not recorded because - I may have told you the story - in Ireland the McDade's were Catholics and the Catholic religion was outlawed for a long time and they were, in effect, persecuted for their religion for generations. In 1839 the British government repealed the laws which made their religion an outlaw religion and after that they could get education and they could own property and all that sort of thing, but they were skeptical, they didn't trust the government, so they continued to do everything under cover. They did not record baptisms, they did not record marriages in the church registers, anything, there were no church registers. No deaths were recorded, nothing. When I was over there in '68 I talked to a priest in a local church and he was proud of the fact that they had records going back to 1856. He said these are some of the oldest records in existence in this country. But my Grandfather's name was not on there, he was born before that, and his birth was not recorded, so we don't know for sure. But he died in '29 and after that my aunts invited my Mother to come back to live. Of course this was the Depression too, things were getting bad. So we moved from Fourth Street in Wilmington to No. 18 in 1930. We stayed there until 1937, by this time us five kids were outgrowing the house and it was causing friction between my Mother and her two sisters, so my Mother said she had to have her own place, so she spoke to Bill Sharpley, who was Copeland's agent, and he collected the rents and things here, and told him that when a became available to let her know. So the first place that became available was No. 6, so we moved into No. 6. And we no sooner got there, and I think my Mother realized she was out of the frying pan into the fire because that house was just too small. So right away she told Sharpley that this was too small and could he find a bigger place. So we were there three years and in 1940 the family that lived here in No. 17 left. They were Truitt, Mr. and Mrs. Truitt, their daughter and her husband, whose name was Jenkins. Her name was Dolly, she died about a year ago in her eighties. So they left, moved away from there. The Truitt's were farmers and horse breeders and that sort of thing.
McKelvey: They weren't associated with the powder yards or anything?
Craven: No, they were associated with the du Pont family, but not with the powder yards. They worked on the du Pont estates. I remember one of them lived in a house right at the end of Smith's Bridge at Granogue, the house is still there. They had a farm on, I think, Milltown Road and I think it's called Truitt's Development now. It's been developed and sold, so they were quite a big family, mostly farmer types and rural type people. So they lived there and they moved out in 1940 so we moved in in June of 1940. And that house was big enough for our needs. In the meantime my oldest sister had gotten married. She married a guy who lived on Breck’ s Lane, Jack Scoffield. In fact the Scoffield's lived in the old toll house that used to be on the Kennett Pike when Kennett Pike was a toll road, there was a toll house at the top of Breck's Lane. When Pierre du Pont bought the highway and made it public, he took that house and moved it down Breck's Lane and sat it, you know, right about where the entrance to the Raskob estate is there.
McKelvey: Oh, is that that little white house? I am not sure that it's even there now. It was a little bit downhill from that, there was another one directly opposite the entrance which was where the, there were two of them there. I'd have to look to be sure. The one uphill was a Dougherty, another Dougherty lived in, and the one right opposite the entrance was the Bonner family, and then just downhill from that was the Scoffield family, which was the toll house. And all three of these were frame buildings. Later they rebuilt - or they took the toll house and turned it ninety degrees and moved it back on the lot behind where the family lived…
McKelvey: Wait a minute.
Craven: And they built a new house where it sat. Oh no, they built a garage where it sat and then they remodeled the house next to that further downhill. There was a family named Braun lived there and they were, Mr. Braun was a chauffeur for the Laird family. After the Braun family left, the house was remodeled and a guy named Kairns moved in there and he was head of research at Hercules, Hercules Research Center. And after that I kinda lost touch. I think the toll house has since been demolished and the one that’ s still left there was either the Dougherty house or the Bonner house. I'd have to look to be sure.
McKelvey: How did you get your mail over here?
Craven: Well we had mail delivery. We had post office, or post boxes, mail boxes I should say. On the front here we had our mail box, like on No. 6 we had it mounted right on the railing of the porch. And the mailman came by and delivered it. But here at No. 17 and 18, the mailbox sat on top of the wall, so that it was reachable from the road because the wall was four to six feet high up there. The mailman, in my day, came in a truck, in an automobile, a motor vehicle. The last horse and wagons that I can remember coming into the area routinely were the Bond bread men. The Bond Bread Company was the last one to get rid of horse and wagons and, gee, they continued on into the thirties. I'm not sure when exactly they stopped and went to automobiles. I had an uncle, Gene Shields, who was a Bond Bread- man. He drove a bread truck, or bread wagon for a number of years. The only time I ever rode a horse and wagon is when I hitched a ride with him one time. That was over in Elsmere where he lived. He was born right down here, in fact I think he gave a recording some years ago, it's probably in the files.
McKelvey: Oh yes, that Shields, what a great recording that is, yes, he talks about swimming in the race and canoeing on the Brandywine.
Craven: Is that right.
McKelvey: Yes, it's one of our great interviews.
Craven: The first time I ever walked through this area, back in 1939, he gave a conducted tour. It was him and my aunt, two of my aunts, and myself and we walked all through the gardens here and around and he was telling us a lot of little anecdotes about his experiences here and his family and exactly where he lived and so on. He had one brother and one sister, they're all three dead now. And the next generation, he had one child, my cousin, also named Gene who is now about, well he's 61 years old now, lives over in Meadowood. And his brother, Dan, had four children and only two of them are living -- had three boys and a girl and only the two boys are living. And they're the two boys who recently sold the shopping center and Dan told me that, I see Dan because of my activities up at St. Joe's, plus I saw him down at vacation down at Rehoboth too. He told me that he's completely retired now. He sold his share of the lumber business to his brother, John, he's out completely, he's in full retirement now and wondering what to do with himself. Well anyway I'm getting astray here.
McKelvey: Ought to get him over here and do some volunteer work.
Craven: Well I suggested it to him.
McKelvey: Very good.
Craven: So I don't know whether he will or not. He's not sure, he's thinking about moving away, and his property up in Centerville is too big, you know, Upkeep and he's worried about his health, so he wants to leave, or go into a smaller place. Anyway, we lived here and...
McKelvey: At 17.
Craven: Yeah. My sister, who is married, she had a small child and the child started to grow and within a couple of years that building started getting too small, although it had five bedrooms, yeah, one, two, three, one, two, three, four, four bedrooms, and we used four of them. And there were three more up in the attic which we did not use. The pressure was taken off when my brother and I went in military service and right about that time my married sister had another child, making conditions worse. Right at the end of the war another- one of my sisters got married and moved away so things weren't so bad during that period, '44,'45 into '46. But right after that my brother and I came home and it was crowded. So we moved back to our house on Fourth Street which we had rented out, my Mother, my one unmarried sister, Florence, my brother John, and I, the four of us went back there. And my oldest sister, Margaretta and her family stayed there at No. 17 and three years later they were evicted, the place was torn down. Then she moved to Colonial Heights and is still living there at Colonial Heights. She's a widow now.
McKelvey: Okay. Tell me about 19 and 20.
Craven: Nineteen and twenty, I can remember that. That was torn down, I would say about 1931 or '32. There were two houses there, they were much lower than No. 18. There's a wall here which is steep, I would say fifteen feet, something like that, it's a high wall. It's probably still there.
McKelvey: Yes, I think it is. It's upstream from the bus garage.
McKelvey: Uh, today.
Craven: There was a little open area here which was kind of a lawn area and I think they had a garden back in there too at one time.
McKelvey: That's between 19 and 18.
Craven: Yes. And the wall back here, the ground back here was steep, but there was no wall, I don't know that this wall was continuous, maybe it was at one time, but it did run behind these houses back here like that. This was a steep bank here. The privy for this one, I couldn't remember where it was; my sister told me it was back here in this corner. And I remember this one though, that serves No. 20.
McKelvey: That was way up the hill.
Craven: Yeah, they didn’ t have to wait too long before they had to go, because they'd never make it.
McKelvey: That's steep back there. Yes. We're talking about privy, let's call it Privy B. That must have been a climb.
Craven: Yes. There were wooden steps up the wall down here, which must have ten or fifteen steps, because that was a high wall there too, and then you had a steep wooden walkway up the hill. This area was fenced off back here and each, they had their, like a garden I guess, at one time. You had to walk all the way up there to get up there to it. That privy was partially demolished as I recall. They took dynamite and blasted the top part of it off, down to maybe three, four feet below the surface and threw the pieces into the hole and filled, it up and leveled it off. You probably can't find it now.
McKelvey: They dynamited it?
Craven: Yes. Exactly why they did that, I don't know, 'cause they left all the other rubble laying around there.
McKelvey: While you're chatting, I'll just explain to the people who may be listening to this, I'm looking through to see if I can find a photograph of what you just described.
Craven: And also, I made more detailed pictures of each area.
McKelvey: Oh, great.
Craven: Which, you know, we should be looking at them I guess, rather than this big one. I did not make a detailed one of that one down there. And the other houses further down, on to the area of what we called the “ Kag” Mill, they were torn down before my time and I don't remember them at all. I do have a photograph taken some years ago of them, which I think I had showed you. And the McDade family lived way down at the end there where the gate fence is at one time. And also the Thompson family lived there after that. The Thompson family are the ones that moved into No. 14 later, and they lived in No. 14 during my time.
- Swimming on the Brandywine; Comparing Craven's memories, sketches, and photographs to images in "The Worker's World at Hagley"; HalloweenSynopsis: Craven talks about swimming on the Brandywine Creek. He discusses where he and others swam and how the banks of the creek changed over the years and how good swimming areas moved up and down the creek as a result. Craven compares his memories, sketches, and photos to those in "The Worker's World at Hagley." He briefly talks about growing plants and celebrating Halloween. He returns to discussing and describing sketches of his old neighborhood.Keywords: "The Workers' World at Hagley" by Glenn Porter; Brandywine Creek; Halloween; Henry Clay (Del.: Village); Houses; Plants; Swimming; Walker's MillTranscript: McKelvey: I'm going to be very disappointed if I can't find this. Tell me about Minnie and Big Rock.
Craven: That was the swimming hole and it was also called, my sister told me, I gave her a copy of this and said, "Does this look right to you?" And she says, "Well, my recollection is that was called Rocky Bottom.” And I said, "Well, it was always called Minnie in my recollection." So I think it had two names. It was very shallow there and had a lot of gravely stones on the bottom so that the water was only knee deep out for quite a distance, so it was a good place to go for the kids who couldn't swim, and when I was a kid, that's where we used to hang out. Out in the middle of the Brandywine there are two rocks that sit by themselves and at low water, you can see the tops of them, but at high water or normal level, you can't see them at all. If the water's clear, you might be able to see them. And the one upstream we called Big Rock, and the one downstream about maybe thirty or forty feet downstream from it, we called that Little Rock. And to get to Big Rock, the water around Big Rock is about six feet deep, so unless you were over six feet tall or could swim, you couldn't get out there. So when I couldn't swim, I would be carried out there on other peoples' shoulders and they were able to get out there because somebody put stepping stones under the surface, so that you could walk.
McKelvey: Oh - from Minnie out to Big Rock?
Craven: Yes, and they're probably still there, and they're about five feet below the surface so that you could walk out there and your chin's above the water and step from one to the other. And it's not continuous, you have to feel your way. They're about a foot apart, and as I recall, they're fairly flat too, so that was a very popular swimming hole.
McKelvey: Now the place that you call the Beach, that’ s right by Walker's Mill?
Craven: It's right behind the woods, right behind the mill.
McKelvey: And that's sandy.
Craven: When I was real little, that was not there. There was a high water, or a flood that occurred sometime in the thirties, I think early thirties, and deposited sand there and created the beach. When that happened, people mostly abandoned Minnie in favor of The Beach because it was a sandy area.
Between the two there was a rock right along the water's edge, right around in here, which had indentations on it that had been smoothed by time or by water flows, and they were comfortable things to sit in. So this was a rock where people used to sit and sun themselves a lot. I had to be careful of sun, when I was a kid I got a lot of bad sunburns, blistered.
McKelvey: Were there many adults that swam down there, or was this mainly kids?
Craven: Yes. More kids than adults, but there were a lot of adults. People used to take their baths, you know, down along the Brandywine. They'd come down and soap themselves up and then jump overboard to wash off. These were people who didn't have indoor bathrooms.
McKelvey: I'm looking at Page 40 in the "Workers' World” book, it's Andrew Fleming and his family at Squirrel Run, it's supposed to be, but what struck me is that stone wall in the background with the steps going up. I was trying to imagine what we were talking about with going to the privy in No. 20. It looks very similar.
Craven: Yes, it would be similar to that, except I notice this one has the wall cut in, looks like it's out into the stone wall whereas at that one, the one I was speaking of, it was on the surface, it was just a wooden walkway. But yeah, it went up and the privy was, is that a privy up there?
McKelvey: I don't know, it might be.
Craven: The privy was way up the hill, and their pumps were downhill. And then, of course, in No. 43 we have the Walker's Bank. Now this was the, this is the Front Road and there is Ferraro's house there.
McKelvey: ...going down. Yes.
Craven: And there you can see an outhouse on the other side of the road, which would be, in my sketch, right there.
Craven: And there were, as I understand, three houses here and the center one was the one where there was a bush growing right alongside of the road here, it was kind of big in my time. I don't know whether it was one of those that you can see here.
McKelvey: Might be.
Craven: People used to grow vines, by the way, like it shows here, to shade the front of their porches.
McKelvey: Were they grapes usually?
Craven: They varied. I don't recall exactly that happening, but it could have been. When we lived in No. 6, we planted an ordinary vine to grow up there which was done just to shade it. Because in the afternoon, the sun just beat in there. And this house, this structure looks very similar to the other ones there. This wall here near the other road went on the back up here which we called Back Row. Now all this area right in here has been filled in.
McKelvey: Yeah, in that foreground area.
Craven: Yes. I don't know how far down this way it was filled in. And all the rubble from this building is laying right there. As far as I know, it's all still there.
McKelvey: Do you have a copy of this, do you, it's a marvelous...
Craven: I have a copy, yes, when I went over to that exhibit.
McKelvey: It's a marvelous series. Here on Page 44 is another View of that Walker's Bank property.
Craven: Oh yes. This is looking the other direction. Oh, there's the Bradshaw house that I was telling you about.
McKelvey: That's that big house up on the hill on the other side.
Craven: Uh-huh. And this was 4, 6, and 10. And there's the spring, springhouse.
McKelvey: Yes. The springhouse is by this clothes pole on the front side of this building, okay.
Craven: Yes. Here's my sketch, here it is.
McKelvey: Oh yes. You place it at "C" in your sketch. And these buildings kind of overhang the wall. The sheds, the sheds overhang.
Craven: They were all gone in my time, the other sheds. There were no sheds there. The outhouses for the people in the front there were down below the wall and that's what I've shown here.
McKelvey: Yes. And there were steps down...
Craven: And those steps, they should probably still be there. Yes, there were wooden steps going down, because this wall, at this end over here opposite No. 10, was maybe four feet or so, but when you go up past the Ferraro's, gee, it was up over twelve feet, or maybe fifteen feet high. It was a high wall, and in front of this row, it was a high wall and there was no fence or anything on it either, nothing at all, no retaining fence of any kind, so you had to be careful.
Yeah, I remember reading that when it first came out. There are a lot of quotes in there from different people, and I could just imagine who was saying them, saying the quotes, you know. Because some of them sounded familiar. And looking at the names of the people that, you know, supplied the information, I could almost match the quotes and the names of some of them.
McKelvey: It's a great book. And this building up here unmarked, let's call that "B". That's the “ Kag,” the location of the “ Kag” Mill?
Craven: No, that was a row of houses. I. This was, in "D"? A. Yes, that was another row of houses. In fact I can't remember whether there were two rows here or not, there may have been.
McKelvey: That would have been about across, now, from the C.I.D. House?
Craven: Yes, yes. C.I.D. House was about over here.
McKelvey: Okay. I've got a photograph called Henry Clay Village, No. 70.1.66 and what we have in the foreground is Breck's Mill and over on the, across the river, here's the dam, there's Walker's Mill.
Craven: Yeah, there they are.
McKelvey: There they are.
Craven: That shows three, doesn't it? There, there, there, and I don't know what's in between, can't see behind that tower.
McKelvey: And a fence running up the hillside.
Craven: Yes. There was a gate right about here, which is a stone wall...
McKelvey: In the middle of the picture.
Craven: ...and a cyclone fence that went up to the golf course and along the golf course. And all the area inside that fence is what we referred to as the “ Kag” Mill.
McKelvey: Okay, let's say it again. All of the area inside this...
Craven: Upstream and beside that fence.
McKelvey: Upstream, okay.
Craven: The fence is probably still there.
McKelvey: Yes, okay. And these houses were gone in your time?
Craven: Yes, this one here where...
McKelvey: The furtherest downstream.
Craven: ...the Boomers and Farrens lived was torn down, I can remember it being torn down, that was in 1931 or '32.
McKlvey: Oh, alright, so you think that this white one that we see just off to the right of the tower at Breck's Mill, that would be the Farren's house, No. 19.
Craven: Farrens - I believe so, yes. In fact, I'm looking for No. 18 which should be right up in here and I didn't remember that there was that much space between them, but maybe there was. There was an opening there.
McKelvey: We're going to Page 2 of your beautiful drawings and we're now looking at, oh, a real detail of 10, 6, 26, 27 and 4 - my goodness, showing gardens, picket fences, septic fields, what's...
Craven: That’ s the cisterns.
Craven: Yeah, I say cistern because there was never a privy there in my memory. This one is a privy and that one was for No. 6.
McKelvey: And the cisterns were always those round concrete.
Craven: Yes, I don't know of any square ones.
McKelvey: Never seen any built up of stone or brick or anything like that?
Craven: No, they were all concrete. How far they dated back, I don't know. And the privies, you know, just sat on top, they weren't attached and it was common practice to dump them over on Halloween or Mischief Night.
McKelvey: Did you call it Mischief Night in those days?
McKelvey: Did you?
Craven: The night before Halloween was Mischief Night. I think that term is still used in Delaware.
McKelvey: Oh yes, sure is.
Craven: So what I have drawn here, the Brandywine, of course, is at the bottom of the sketch. And here is the Front Road and here is the Back Road. This is not to scale, I tried to put in scale as I remembered it, but, you know, it isn't. No 4 has this little blip on it that the lower level, there was one room built on the side here which Mrs. Copeland built for the Ferraro's as a dining room, and in my time they always used it as a storeroom. They always took their meals in the kitchen which was on the lower level. And then the back, really their front door was from up here, and they always used the room up here as a sitting room and parlor. And that's where they received visitors and that sort of thing. I was only down in their basement, or in their basement kitchen, I'd say less than a dozen times.
Down on the Front Road here, across the road, this is a wall. They had steps that went down and there was a fenced area down here like so, which was a picket fence. And Pierre Ferraro fad a garden all in here and in here. Pierre liked to grow Dahlias, he grew these as a hobby and he used to have some beautiful Dahlias, spent a lot of time on them too. He had them down here.
The overflow, their spring was here, and the spring was in good condition, good working order, and they always had a little aluminum tin cup there so you'd open the door and you could go in and dip a cup of water. I think it's still there in good condition. Probably still good water too.
McKelvey: I'll bet it is.
Craven: And-the overflow from that went in a pipe down here, under the road, and came out down here. I remember Pierre built a little tiny waterwheel.
McKelvey: That's just above the old garden.
Craven: Yes. He built a little tiny waterwheel about that big, about a foot high, and the flow of the water coming out there turned that wheel all the time. Pierre was kind of a handy guy.
- Talking about the Ferraro family; Burning wood and coal; Flooding on the Brandywine; Expansion of the DuPont Experimental Station; Sheds and outbuildingsSynopsis: Craven talks about the Ferraro family. He talks about burning wood and coal. He describes floods along the Brandywine. Craven talks about getting water and the arrival of indoor plumbing. He talks about DuPont knocking down houses and changing the lay of the land in order to expand the DuPont Experimental Station in the latter 1940s. He talks about sheds, outhouses, and other outbuildings that he remembers.Keywords: Brandywine Creek; Coal; DuPont Experimental Station; Ferraro family; Flooding; Gardens; Outhouses; Sheds; WoodTranscript: McKelvey: What is "W.P."?
Craven: Wood pile.
McKelvey: Wood pile.
Craven: That's where they kept their wood. The Ferraro's did not use coal to my knowledge, they burned wood. They probably had coal, this room up here was heated - their parlor â € ” was heated by a little pot bellied stove, and they may have used coal in there. I'm not positive about that, but I do know that all their cooking down here was done with wood. And so every year, at this time of the year in summer, they would collect trees and logs and whatnot and Pierre and Gino would get out there with an old hand saw, you know, back and forth, the two of them, one on each end.
McKelvey: Two-man saw?
Craven: Yeah, one on each end. And they would spit on the palm of their hands, you know, and rub their hands together and go again. And they were workers, they would do it for a long time. And No. 6 had a wood pile right here too, although we didn't use wood very much. And there was a wooden flight of steps here which No. 6 used to get to the privy down there. There was no walkway down here at all.
McKelvey: Did this area where the garden and the privies were, did that flood out?
Craven: On really high water, yes it could, but the water had to be really high to get up that far. On a normal spring freshet of four or five feet, there was no problem.
McKelvey: Did you ever lose your privies?
Craven: No, I never knew anybody that would lose one.
McKelvey: Or lose your privies, floating down? .
Craven: But I do know of places getting flooded. For instance, I can remember when the water was about a foot deep on the road in front of Long Row. That’ s the road where it is right now. It backed up through the drains in the wall and the houses at Long Row had about a foot of water in them, and that was back in the thirties when that happened.
McKelvey: It must have been something.
Craven: Yeah, and these houses on the first one here, down this area, this road down here frequently flooded, because that's only about three or feet above the normal water level.
McKelvey: We're on "D".
Craven: So it frequently flooded. And these people here of course were up about another six feet on a stone wall, but the only way they could get in and out would be to go out the back and go up the hill or something, they couldn't walk the road.
McKelvey: That's upstream from Walker's Mill?
Craven: Yes. And I can recall the water on that road being up almost to about where No. 20 is right in here, that's the highest I can remember.
McKelvey: All that road would be under. I've been on that road when it was under about two to four inches.
Craven: It's frequently under water, yes.
McKelvey: Yes, uh-huh.
Craven: And I've seen the water higher than this wall.
McKelvey: The retaining wall around the head gates at Walker's Mill.
Craven: I've seen the water, I'd say at least a foot, maybe two foot above that wall, rushing over and breaking up against the upstream wall of the mill and then swirling around the edge of the mill and on down here. And it was a flood like that that left this beach here, behind the mill. So in the old days, 'course when people didn't have water at all, they would have either pumps or springs and the springs were here and here, which, I understand, these springs served the whole row. These were community springs. There were other springs like that - Long Row and different places, where people had to go to get their water.
McKelvey: And on the uphill side, across from the road, now we're looking at 26 and 27 again, you have those pairs of privies where, you described them one of the times you visited before - they were back to back.
Craven: Yes, these two were.
McKelvey: And sharing the same...
Craven: Same well, uh-huh.
McKelvey: Same well.
Craven: But they were not the same privy, they were separated about a foot and the doors were opposite each other, and the one on this side was the one, No. 4, and when I lived at No. 6, we had indoor water, running water, but you did not have the bathroom. That is, tub, shower, or toilet indoors, so you had to use the privies, so we used the outside privy and we were there about a year or two when sewers were added all along Walker's Banks and everybody was given an indoor toilet and bathroom.
McKelvey: Now you said that someone representing the Copelands would come for the rent.
Craven: Bill Sharpley.
McKelvey: Did Copeland own that at that time, how did the DuPont Company come to tear these buildings down?
Craven: Motsey Copeland sold it to the Company when he sold them the golf course, he owned the golf course. As I understand it, the way I heard the story, his mother bought all the land and gave it to him as kind of a wedding present with the expectation that he would build his house there and live there. And that is directly across the Brandywine from where she lived. So the story I get is that he took one look and figured he would have no privacy and he moved to Mt. Cuba instead. I don't know whether that's true or not, but that's the story I heard. He owned all this land, Motsey Copeland, Lammot du Pont Copeland, he was the one that died a couple of years ago.
Craven: In 19 -- well I'm not sure of the exact time, I did see one document indicating 1946 as a date of transfer that the DuPont Company took legal title and to all this area, including Walker's Mill and all the way down to the fence on the upstream side from what I would call the beginning of the “ Kag” Mill area, and Copeland retained title to that, and also retained the right-of-way access along this road. The rest of it he gave to the DuPont Company, and in 1948 the DuPont Company started the expansion, the thirty million dollar expansion of the Experimental Station and took over the old golf course area. And that was completed about 1950, and at that time too, as part of that, they closed Lloyd's Hill and a portion of the old county road, or New Bridge Road, was now within the confines of the Experimental Station, was turned over, the title was given to the DuPont Company and the DuPont Company, in exchange for that, gave the State title to a new roadbed going up this way, behind the properties, which is the present road.
McKelvey: That must have been quite a steep hill.
Craven: Yes it was.
McKelvey: In those days.
Craven: Yes. It was excellent for sledding.
McKelvey: Oh yeah. There's a gigantic tree at the Station, right up on that top. You know what I'm talking about - near the road. You can see it...
Craven: Toward the top of that hill?
McKelvey: Yeah, it's beyond the intersection, it's beyond the main entrance. It's just a marvelous tree up there.
Craven: Yeah, there are a lot of big trees around. I remember there was one on the wall side too, as you come across the bridge, there's a steep wall and you turn right into the Experimental Station and right in the corner there, there were some big trees. There was a little growth in there which was all wooded and there was some big old trees there.
McKelvey: They really cleared all that out in there.
Craven: Has it been cleared out? I remember they weren't too secure in those days because there was a drain pipe onto the road, storm drain, which was corrugated pipe which is about eighteen inches diameter, and as kids we used to crawl through that and that would bring us out on the Experimental Station side of the fence under the bridge there, you know. And also underneath the Rising Sun Bridge, there is a little ledge about three feet above the water line where you can walk, and on the downstream side, they built a barrier wall to keep you from getting into the Experimental Station. Well, that's no barrier, it's easy to get around and as kids, we used to do it frequently. But we stayed out of the Station proper, we never went down into where the buildings are. So getting back to this, there were porches both front and rear on the properties, on these buildings. And these had a short flight of steps up to the wall. This wasn't a real steep wall, it was kind of sloping down, so that down here it was only about one foot. Where the road split here, right in this split, were these two privies, one used by No. 4 and one used by No. 27. Then there was a short open space and there was a little walkway here, just dirt, between the two roads, sloping.
McKelvey: To get up - looks like to get up to that garden?
Craven: Yes, and also there was a little enclosed area right here that Mr. Baldo used for - I don't remember what all was in there - it seems to me he had a little coop of some sort in there.
McKelvey: That's from the Back Road?
Craven: It was...
McKelvey: Privy, shed and the walk. It was an area - let's call that - oh "E", okay?
Craven: Yeah. He had a little workbench in there.
McKelvey: But that's not the shed that you're showing?
Craven: Oh, that was Mr. Baldo's shed.
Craven: That was entered off here, there was a doorway, as I recall, down here. I didn't show it because I'm not positive, but that was used by No. 26 and this was the privy for No. 26, and to get to it, you had to walk across this road, up that little path, short walk up the Back Road and in. And the little picture we were looking at when I was here before, little tiny picture, I was standing right about there.
McKelvey: Oh, I know that one, yes.
Craven: That was taken, and that view is looking up.
Craven: This is sloping up here. And then on this side of the road, because this was narrow, there was a little ladder here and that's how Mr. Baldo got up to his garden which was here.
McKelvey: The ladder is shown - you really very detailed there.
- Story about getting stung by hornets in Pierre Ferraro's shed; Sheds and outbuildings; Keeping chickens and other animals; Factories along the Brandywine; House additions, springs, and more on outbuildingsSynopsis: Craven tells a story about getting stung by hornets while helping a neighbor, Pierre Ferraro. He talks about his neighbors sheds and how their quality depended on the skill of the builders. He says that by his time very few people kept chickens and other animals. Craven talks about some of the other factories on the Brandywine and talks about how they burned coal and drained their wastewater into the Brandywine, polluting it. He talks about outbuildings and additions to houses, including kitchens, springs, and cisterns.Keywords: Animals; Brandywine Creek; Chickens; Coal; DuPont Experimental Station; Factories; Hagee's Tavern; Hornets; Kitchens; Outbuildings; Pierre Ferraro; Pollution; Renovations; ShedsTranscript: Craven: I didn't show a pair of steps over here, I left some things out. All these things over here, these sheds were Pierre Ferraro's. Pierre collected junk, another one of his hobbies. I always kind of suspected Madeline didn't approve of it, but he collected junk as a hobby. He would buy whatever the kids in the neighborhood found. If we found a glass bottle, if we found a piece of wire, if we found a piece of metal, we'd take it to Pierre and sell it to him. And he would give you - I forget what he gave per bottle, I think he had a flat rate for a bottle. And for metal he would weigh it, and I think for copper he would weigh it too, and give you so much a pound, it was only a few pennies.
McKelvey: And he stored all this stuff in these sheds.
Craven: So this shed here was rather large, it was about the size of a - almost as big as a one-car garage. And then this one next to it was the same, they were big enough to stand up in. And I remember in this one here, one time I was walking along the road and Pierre...
Craven: ...was up here and he called to me and he said, "Could you come here a minute?" Summertime like this, okay. His steps were right about here, so I went up the steps and went up there to see what he wanted, and he said, "I locked my keys in the shed, could you climb in the window and get them for me?" Don't know how much time you have here.
McKelvey: Oh that's plenty.
Craven: Talking away here.
McKelvey: So did you find the keys?
Craven: Oh, he locked the door, he had a padlock on the door, and his keys were on a key ring, and you could see them inside hanging on a nail, but they were just out of reach. You couldn't reach through the window, the window was a sliding window about two feet square and he had to slid it open. So I said, "Okay." Now Pierre had one leg, he lost his leg in an Experimental Station accident when he was a young man, and he had a wooden leg, so he couldn't climb in. So I said, "Okay, I'll do it. So I stuck my head in the window and I hear this b-z-z-z-z, b-z-z-z-, b-z-z-z - the place was swarming with bees, hornet's nests all over the place, I couldn't believe it, and I backed off and I said, "There are bees in there." And Pierre says, "They never bother me. "They don't?" He said, "No, just don't do anything unusual or anything sudden." So I thought, well, you know - and so I gingerly put my leg over and climbed in and moved very slowly and the bees were all walking around, you know, within, you know, I could reach and touch them. So I reached and got the keys, took them, you know, and turned around back to the window and I handed the keys out the window and Pierre thanked me and then I started climbing out the window and he said, "Oh, no need to climb out the window, I'll unlock it for you, come out the door." And he took the padlock and put the key in the padlock and when he did that noise and that rattling noise, every bee in the place came alive. So they came after me and I started getting stung and yelling and so with that Pierre hurriedly opens the door and when he opened the door, shew, I was out of there with the bees after me. And Pierre got stung himself and he took me down and I had welts all over my arms and the back of my neck, different places. They were wasps. So he took me down and Madeline put some baking soda on them to take away the sting. It's a good thing I'm not allergic to bee stings.
Craven: 'Cause I can remember when I was a kid, up living in No. 18, I was watching workmen with the big scythe, you know, and they were cutting the grass along the road, and they cut into a yellow jacket's nest in the ground, and the workers yelled to one another, yelled a warning, and ran. And I’ m standing there, I didn't know what was going on. So the yellow jackets found me and I can remember seeing a yellow jacket going like this up my arm. I had 22 stings. As I say, I'm not allergic, fortunately.
McKelvey: Were any of these sheds lit, did they have any electric or lamps, kerosene or anything like that?
Craven: Electric lights. No, there was nothing in them. They were very plain inside you could see the two by fours that held them up. The outer siding was on, but they were cheap and dirty type construction, flimsy.
McKelvey: Do you have the sense that if you wanted a shed, you built your own, or would they have been supplied by the Company?
Craven: I think so. Well, there may have been people who built them. Whether they were supplied - well, I don't know. I never heard anybody say.
McKelvey: Describe the inside, if you were going to build one for the Museum, describe that for me.
Craven: Well, it would depend on how big you wanted to go, it could be any size really. Most of them were not really big, they were maybe six by eight or eight by ten feet, something like that, you know, they weren't really big things. And some of them weren't even big enough to stand up in. The better ones, you could stand up in them. They were, of course, completely wood construction and the side supports and the roof were two by fours. The siding was just nailed right onto those two by fours, and the siding could be either vertical, you know, up/down, or sideways. And they'd have a door on them and in most cases they were not locked, although they could be because they had a little latch on them, or a little hasp, you know, you could look it, but a lot of them were never locked. Inside they would sometimes build shelves on the wall to store stuff, bottles, cans, whatnot. I remember Madeline telling the story once that when her Grandfather was dying, he lived directly across the street from what was Hagee’ s Tavern, and he told her that he had his life savings in a Mason jar hidden in the shed, and told her where it was. Of course it was only a few dollars and so she retrieved it. So the sheds could be used for anything. But mostly they were used for garden tools, people kept their - most people had gardens and they kept, you know, the shovel and a rake and things of that nature in there. They would also keep other tools that they might have there, they were tool sheds, you might say.
McKelvey: Were they ever used for cooking, for summer kitchens or anything like that?
Craven: Not to my knowledge.
McKelvey: You show us some chickens here.
Craven: Oh yeah, that was John Thompson's chicken coop.
McKelvey: Were there other chicken coops beside Thompson's?
Craven: No, not in my time. I think in times past people tended to keep chickens more, but during my time, that was the only one. John Thompson had that. He was one of the last powdermen to live, you know, survived up to 1945 when he died, early 1945. And he was Mrs. Toomey's father, Jenney Toomey who died last year. He kept chickens there and this was kind of a steep bank.
McKelvey: So was Jenney born over here and raised?
Craven: No she was born in Charles' Banks, in fact...
McKelvey: That's right, that's right.
Craven: ...Joe gave me her family tree just recently, that he made up. I don't know if you've seen that.
McKelvey: No, I haven't.
Craven: You ought to get a copy of that. I made a copy for myself, of the Toomey-Thompson family tree. And Joe told me he spent about a year or two working on it, and fortunately his mother was still living when he worked on it. He did it about ten years ago and he said it took him about a year doing a lot of research. And he only went back three generations, because that's all that was in this country. He didn't attempt to go back to the old country. Anyway, John Thompson had the chickens there and this was their privy here, and they had a flight of steps up to it too, which was kinda steep. I’ m kinda out of scale here, because as I recall, those steps were pretty close to that shed. And then there was a steep wall here and up on that on the upper side, Jim McVay, who married John Thompson's daughter, Josie, and they lived here at the same time he did, he put that garage there back about 1938 or '39. And to get in it, he had to back up this way and he excavated the bank over here so he could turn around, pretty tight quarters.
McKelvey: Page 3, now we're seeing the 15, 14, and 12, Old Mill Service Road, oh, you've even got the waste tanks. I saw a photograph of Walker's Mill the other day, and I saw those tanks for the first time. I've been looking at photographs for fourteen years and I've never seen them before. Were they part of the textile mill?
Craven: Yes. And they had pipes that stuck through the wall over top of each tank. Each tank was maybe ten feet in diameter and it was on stilts. It was up above in the ground about four or five feet or thereabouts, and the tank itself was maybe that deep so when you stood into it as a kid, you'd stand in it and it might be chest high, and figuring that I was maybe four feet tall at the time, it wasn't, really, a big tank. Then the tanks, when they filled up, they were kind of like settling basins. When the stuff would come out of here from the mill, the overflow from the process in the mill, it was a slurry mixture and it would go into the tank and would sit there and the solid material would settle to the bottom and the watery fluid would go overflow and would run into the Brandywine. Well, when we would be swimming down here at Minnie, every once in a while they would discharge this, it wasn't a continuous thing, and somebody would yell, "The mill is letting out," and when they would yell that, everybody would get out of the water because these tanks were full already, so when they dumped the stuff into them, it just overflowed and went right into the Brandywine. And after it stopped flowing, which might be five minutes it would flow, and it was a big flood when it came out there too, it wasn't just a dribble, the water would be polluted and we would stay out of the water for maybe half an hour 'til it drifted by. And then when it drifted by, everybody could go back into the water. After the closed the mill, of course, and you had the beach behind the mill, they didn't have that, and the beach was great. The area where the beach is is where all the stuff flowed over the surface into the water. Something the E.P.A. would never allow today.
McKelvey: The coal pile in here, was that for the mill?
Craven: Yes, that was for the mill, yes.
McKelvey: That must have been pretty sizeable.
Craven: They burned soft coal, yes. The trucks would come up on the road here, back up to the edge of the road, the road went right up to the wall, and dump over the wall. And there was a big coal pile there, and they took the coal through a door down here. And I don't remember where the boilers were now, I forget that, where the furnace was, it was on the lower level there, but I, but the stack is somewhere around here.
McKelvey: Yes, I've seen pictures.
Craven: So the boiler was probably right under that stack, probably right under this area on the lower level. So this was always a big coal pile there, it was soft coal, not hard coal.
McKelvey: And this was a stone wall in front of it?
Craven: Yes, that's probably still there. And there were a little flight of steps here and a path that went down this way. The road, the wall came over here, right around this point, it turned and went down this way. It didn't follow all the way over here, and it was what I always thought must have been some kind of service road and went down this way.
McKelvey: It's still there, pretty grown over. We only use it once and a while.
Craven: It was never used to my knowledge. This was a kind of drain here, it was always, there was some springs up in here.
McKelvey: This was a drainage, I see the dotted line under the road there, yes.
Craven: Yes, with a culvert, yes. And this was the privy for that house, No. 12, and there's the privy for No. 14, and No. 15's privy was up here.
McKelvey: It was up in the back.
Craven: I don't know of any springhouses here. Now they probably had pumps, but I can't remember the pumps either. The pumps, when they had them, tended to be in the kitchens or just outside the kitchens.
McKelvey: And these little additions to the back of 15 and 14 were kitchens?
Craven: They were the kitchens, yeah. They referred to them as shed kitchens.
McKelvey: So 14 was really a very large house, wasn't it?
Craven: Yes, it was two. It had originally been two and had been broken into one. It had two steps, two flights of steps.
McKelvey: And those were torn down around 1950?
Craven: Fifty. And there was a fence. This was the wall, steep wall here, and there was a fence along here, roughly like this, and dividing it like so.
McKelvey: And what kind of a wire fence was it?
Craven: Ordinary, what we would call lawn fencing today.
McKelvey: And this garage that we see here, was that the garage that we saw?
Craven: It's the same one I showed on the other sketch.
McKelvey: Now the next page, we're looking at 16, 17, and 18.
Craven: Yeah, and here's, the one that we just looked at would be right down here. Their privy was right about in here, and this was the privy for No. 16, right here.
McKelvey: Okay, with the walk to it.
Craven: And a walkway there, yes. I can't remember what that walk was made out of, I think it was wood.
McKelvey: Like duck boards?
Craven: No, I think it was long boards.
Craven: About ten or twelve inches wide and about ten feet long. Probably about two of them running parallel, that's the type, the way they built the walks. And they had a front porch here, of course I don't show that there was a porch here, it was open on the downstream side. And there was a porch back here, it was closed, and that was what they, what we called a shed kitchen. And there was a well in there which they used, it was useable up until 1950. And there was a little trap door opening in the roof right here where the well could be removed through the roof, you know, for servicing.
McKelvey: Oh yes.
Craven: And their garage was here. And they had, well they had chickens, yeah, I forgot that, they had chickens. And they had a couple of sheds...
- Memories of the McCairn family; Garages and outhouses; Gardens and Fruit treesSynopsis: Craven talks about his memories of the McCairn family, who he says worked at the Copeland estate. He describes their family home. He talks about how some of the outhouses in his row were back to back to each other. He says that the Hodgsons, of Hodgson Bros. woolen mill lived nearby. He talks about some gardens and fruit trees in the area. He recalls being a bad gardener, but he enjoyed local pear and apple trees.Keywords: Apples; Fruit trees; Gardens; Hodgson Bros. woolen mill; McCairn family; PearsTranscript: McKelvey: And what family lived here?
Craven: The McCairn family lived there in the 30's and '40's and they stayed there, I guess, up until 1950. Mr. and Mrs. McCairn had no children. He worked for the Copeland estate. His brother lived on the Copeland estate in a tenant house as you come Rising Sun Lane, there is a stone wall on your left and it has a kind of an iron fence on it, kind of a draped, well there's an entrance there. And I'm not sure if the house is still there, but you go through that entrance and about fifty feet inside the entrance was a stone house made of the same material as the wall, and that's where, George McCairn was his name, he was kinda of the, he was kinda in charge of the estate, all the employees on the estate worked for him. My brother had a summer job there one year, one summer.
McKelvey: And they had a large garden, a large garden here.
Craven: Yes, this, Mr. McCairn gardened up here and down here he had another fence somewhere down here and this was all his chicken area.
McKelvey: It's around the shed.
Craven: Yes, he gave up the care of chickens in the last few years he was there.
McKelvey: No. 17, this was originally built as the mill owner's house, as I understand. It was built long before 18 and 17, or 18 and 16 were built.
Craven: No. 17 was the first, and it was much older. This portion back here was made of stone, on the first-floor level. That's the back wall, yup. And it had a - it had fireplaces up and down in this area, fireplaces up and down over here and over here.
McKelvey: On the upstream side and on the back side and on the front side, or the downstream side.
Craven: The original house, yes, the original house had six fireplaces. And the area back here originally was open and the entrance to the basement was from outside, it only had a partial basement under this front part here, not under the back part. And this was eventually closed and the kitchen was there, the entrance to the basement was in the kitchen, and then there was another little enclosed area here which we referred to as a shed kitchen.
McKelvey: So that little jog upstream by the hydrant was the shed kitchen?
Craven: Shed kitchen, yes.
McKelvey: Was that used, primarily do you suppose, in the summer?
Craven: I believe it was used for summer cooking, yes, but we never used it that way. We used the kitchen here. I believe the kitchen here...
McKelvey: Which is right next to the shed kitchen.
Craven: ...which we used for a kitchen, was probably the summer kitchen. And I believe in the original days this area back here was the kitchen-dining area because between the fireplace and this, and the next wall, right in through here, were built-in cabinets which went from floor to ceiling. The typical type you see in kitchens.
Craven: But we never used that as a kitchen, we used it as a dining room. The privy for No. 17 was here, and it was a double privy, back-to-back, with doors on both sides, but you couldn't walk in one door and go through and out the other door. It was completely divided.
McKelvey: And was it a pitched roof then?
Craven: Yes, it was long, long length dimension this way, the peak ran this way.
McKelvey: That's strange, isn't it?
Craven: Yeah, that's the only one around that was like that.
McKelvey: And that was, and both sides were for 17?
Craven: Yes. I don't know why. I wondered maybe back in the old days maybe one side was for the family and the other side for employees.
McKelvey: Yes, or servants, yeah.
Craven: Probably, I don't know.
McKelvey: It's a good idea.
Craven: The garage for No. 17 was here.
McKelvey: We have photographs of that.
Craven: And it was extra, yes, yeah I have some. And this was extra long because when it was built, the family living here that operated the mill, name was Hodgson, and the Hodgson family lived there up until about 1933, and I think, 33 was when the-mill changed hands, and it was closed for a while and then reopened and it was opened until maybe '38 or '39, I'm not sure, and closed again. And the waterwheel was operational during that period too. They operated off the water power, even though they had electricity for lights and things like that, brought in, but the machines were still run with water power and belts. They had a big drive shaft running down in the ceiling, it may be still there, I don't know that.
McKelvey: Uh-huh, no, that's all gone, yeah.
Craven: Remodeled a few times. And then all these belts coming down on the machines. And what a terrible racket it made. In the summertime especially, they opened the doors and windows and you could hear it all over the place when they were working, clickety clackety, clickety clackety, clickety clackety and all when the weaving machines were running.
No. 18 was here and this was the privy for No. 18, there was a wood walk out in the back to get up to that, some steps up to it, it was maybe three or four feet. And this was the garage for No. 18, which was actually a converted shed, and that was a big shed, big enough to hold an automobile. And the road just dead ended at that. When it was turned into a garage, this little turnaround was built into the wall here and into the bank. No. 18 never had a garden up here in my time. They may have had at one time in the past.
This was the garden, quite large, for No. 17. When Mr. Truit was there, he had that whole thing, he was a farmer at heart. When we moved there, we tried that, and it fell to my brother and I to do it, and so you can imagine how much got done. So after a couple of years, we only had a little corner over here that we planted a few things, and that was enough for me. I'm not a farmer, and I don't like it. This was all lawn, and of course all around here were fruit trees at one time or another. There was a big pear tree right there. Just by the walk to the privy. There was another pear tree here. Next to the privy.
McKelvey: What kind of pears?
Craven: The one at the, right near the privy, was the kind of pear which is narrow at top and opens up at the bottom, the typical pear shape.
McKelvey: Like a Bartlett, I guess. I don't know the names. And right here... By the garage…
Craven: ...was a big old apple tree. And that was a big one and it had a trunk this big around and it had little apples about so big.
McKelvey: What, about two and a half foot diameter?
Craven: Yes. Little apples, about so big, bigger than, oh what do you call them, I'm thinking of sickle pears, bigger than that. There was another pear tree over here.
McKelvey: Between 17 and 16.
Craven: Yeah, about midway between 17 and 16, and I think the pears on that were similar to the one up here. And those were all the fruit trees we had. No. 18 had no fruit trees, and neither did 16. Seventeen had them, I guess, because it was an older things and people tended to live off the land more back in those days. So that was, oh, the entrances were down here, kind of steep, and we never used them, we always used the back way ways for coming and going.
McKelvey: Back doors. Yeah, those are steep steps.
Craven: Yeah, and we received our mail in the front. The breadman, the mailman came up the front road.
McKelvey: Yeah, those steps, I think one other pair, maybe at 18, they're still there.
Craven: Yeah. The last time I was there this had been filled in.
McKelvey: Then maybe it's this one.
Craven: That is, the wall fell through. It's probably these two that are still there.
McKelvey: Yeah, and then you get up there and that's all paved over.
Craven: Yeah, this is the parking lot here.
McKelvey: And where your gardens are. Up here, that's where the bus garage is.
Craven: It's over in this area. The next page is our key. Why don't I tell you what I did.
McKelvey: And the next page is the residence. You really do a thorough job. Have a tremendous memory.
Craven: So, well that's - you have to keep in mind that that's just during my time, let's say the '30's.One time Ferraro said that there were twenty-two houses that were torn down, upstream beyond No. 18 that had been demolished. And we had heard that they were being torn down at the time, like when Roomer's and Farren's were being torn down, I had heard at that time people saying that the reason they were being torn was they were unhealthy. They were too close to the water and they were damp, they were sometimes subject to flooding, and of course they didn't have any modern conveniences. The ceilings in them were very low, they were seven feet I think, maybe six foot six because you could reach up and touch them, they were that low. Then they had little circular stairways which were very small, you know, as I was telling you before, to get from one floor to the other. Like I can remember that the Roomer family were No. 20, they had on the back side they had a - the back level was higher than the front level and there was a little wooden walkway area around there and there was a skylight type opening with glass cover on it and that was to let light into the lower level and to the rear of the lower level. As I remember, Andy Dougherty fell through it one time. He tried jumping over it and didn't quite make it and he cut his foot on it. And that was after the houses were empty before they were torn down.
I don't remember how long they sat empty, maybe a year, something like that. When this happened, the kids used to make them playgrounds and we were lucky we weren't all killed. We used to, for instance, I climbed out a dormer window on Long Row, if you remember pictures how high up you are, you are at the third-floor level, and go across the roof and in another dormer window. And that's the way we just did it for the heck of it.
McKelvey: Somebody looked out for children.
Craven: Yeah, that's what they say.
McKelvey: Do you remember up on Breck's Lane the old Cooper Shop?
Craven: Yes. The only black family in Henry Clay lived there.
McKelvey: Oh really?
Craven: Yeah, they were employees of one of the houses up in the area which we called The Lawns. I never knew exactly who they worked for up there, but they worked for one of those houses, one of the various members of the du Pont family. There was a Copeland lived up there and Lairds lived there and W. K., William K. du Pont, we called it W. K., lived there.
Digitized material in this online archive may document imagery or language that reflects racist, ableist, sexist, homophobic, or otherwise offensive and harmful beliefs and actions in history. Hagley Library is engaged in ongoing efforts to address and responsibly present evidence of oppression and injustice in our collections. If you are concerned about the archival material presented here, or want to learn more about our ongoing work, please contact us at email@example.com.