Interview with Mary Braden Jackson, 1986 August 17 [audio](part 2)

Hagley ID:
  • Attitude toward early automobiles; her father taking baths in the powder yard races; wearing flowers in girls' and women's hats; her wedding in Immanuel Church; "capital over labor" industrial attitudes and discrimination against Irish and Polish in hiring; being the first woman hired by the Pennsylvania Railroad during World War I
    Keywords: Automobiles; Discrimination in employment; Honeymoons; Immanuel Church (Wilmington, Del.); Industrial management; Ivory soap; Labor market; Labor supply; Labor unions; Manpower policy; men's caps; Men--Health and hygiene; Pennsylvania Railroad (Corporate Name); Sex discrimination in employment; Telephone operators; Weddings; Women in war; women's hats; World War (1914-1918)
    Transcript: Bennett: How about cars, did they...

    Jackson: No, the only car I remember was when Charles' father was born and that was in 1903 and Dr. Wales had a small car, I think it was a Ford car, and he come up Squirrel Run with that car, and Lord, there was 27 kids around it - all over it and under it and over it and he let us play with it as long as we wanted to. And he was the only - the first car, and it was in 1903 - Dr. Joseph Wales.

    Bennett: Did your parents approve of cars?

    Jackson: We never thought anything about them. They knew they could never own one.

    Bennett: But they liked progress?

    Jackson: Oh, they thought it was nice. Well, my father said one time, he says, "They're gonna fool around until they make something to kill themselves." Then the car come out.

    Bennett: That's with everything I think.

    Jackson: So when the Ford come - I know he said that, he said "They're gonna fool around, these fools, until they make something to kill themselves." Course the automobile can do a pretty good job of that.

    Bennett: It sure can. In most of the pictures - all of the pictures you see of men - in the yards, they all wore hats.

    Jackson: Caps.

    Bennett: Caps. Can you give me an idea of why you think the men all wore those caps?

    Jackson: To keep the powder out of their hair, to keep their hair clean. Because they weren't very good at shampooing their hair very often, and the only place to shampoo, to wash their hair, was in the races, the water up in the creek. And my father used to take his bath up in the yard, in the creek. Course there was no women up there and all. And he used to take his clothes off and maybe somebody would be watching the boiler, somebody else would be working the boilers, and he used to go down and keep a bar of Ivory soap or tar soap, and he'd get in the race and he took his bath up there.

    Bennett: I think this was normal procedure for the men, a lot of them.

    Jackson: That's true.

    Bennett: How about the winter time, did he use the tub like everybody else, I presume?

    Jackson: He had a tub in the shed and he used to bathe the best way he could, he was a very heavy man, big man, and I guess he bathed the best he could, but he was a clean man, and he shaved good - he had a mustache, sort of a reddish mustache, but very clean, jet black hair. When he died he was in his nineties and the only gray was in the temple. Nice looking man.

    Bennett: That's unusual to have...

    Jackson: And he had all his own teeth but the two back teeth, and I have all my teeth but one out here.

    Bennett: You've inherited his good genes.

    Jackson: I have every tooth in my body, every tooth. And I have all my back teeth, both sides, and this tooth here, I had a gold cap on it when I was sixteen thought it would make me beautiful, and the dentist was dumb enough to put that on a good tooth. Well in years your root deteriorates, and I had to have that taken - that's how I lost these two, otherwise I have all the rest of them.

    Bennett: See, that's vanity, isn't it, to...

    Jackson: Oh, sure, when you're sixteen, you want to be beautiful. And we were good lookin' children even without anything because, they used to come in and say, "My, Henry, you have pretty little girls here, nice looking girls." He's say, "Well, youth is beautiful." He never took no credit for anything we had.

    Bennett: That's a nice response, isn't it?

    Jackson: He said, "Youth is beautiful." And I always admired that. And I always thought that nobody was good looking unless they were younger, they had to be young to be good lookin', yeah, to be nice looking. We always grew up with that thought. I never thought anything about myself. I have never used lipstick in my life, and very little makeup.

    Bennett: Well, I'll skip that question. [laughs] Do you and the ladies, did you wear hats and scarves when you...

    Jackson: Oh, you mustn't go out without a hat, you weren't a lady if you went out without a hat or gloves. And even in the summertime, you must have gloves up to here no matter how hot it was.

    Bennett: You mean over your elbow, up to - high.

    Jackson: Up to your elbow. I still have some long gloves up to here.

    Bennett: What were they made of?

    Jackson: Well, some could be - if you could afford kid - you could buy kid, later life, I could buy kid, but they were mostly just little thin rayon, white rayon. Course you could get them in cream color too, or you could get them blue, whatever you'd want. I think they were about 35 cents a pair.

    Bennett: Describe some of your hats or your scarves.

    Jackson: Well, we didn't bother too much with scarves unless my mother used to knit a wool scarf for us to put around, and father had wool scarves, they were wool mostly in the wintertime. And in summertime you didn't bother. The hats, when we were growing up to be girls, I'd say around fourteen, fifteen, around that - course when we were little girls, we had to have a hat on, big hat on with streamers down the back. You had a nice hat you had streamers. Well, we wore the streamers. Then later on we got a little bigger, and thought we were going into girlhood, somebody might be looking at us, then we wore large, floppy hats, and they would flop. They were like leghorns and they would be loaded with roses or flowers of some kind. And years and years ago they used a lot of bird feathers. And the older girls always had their hats sort of turned up and the wing of a bird here, a green wing or some kind of colored wing, and they used a lot of peacock feathers to make fancy hats. And then the older girls wore them mostly up, around, like a George Washington hat almost. But the other hats had plenty of flowers on them, you had to have plenty of flowers on. I was married in 1920 and my hat was a chiffon dark blue hat and in between the chiffon I had pink Scotch, not thistles - what's that stuff?

    Bennett: Heather?

    Jackson: Heather. I had pink heather all in my hat, and it was a beautiful hat, but I didn't go anywhere, but to Atlantic City where it was damp, and the first night - the first day I wore the hat, when I come home the hat was down like this. So my husband took the hat and got a newspaper and put it on the floor and he straightened it all out and put something heavy around it to shape it enough that I could go home in the wedding hat because that's...

    [Unidentified woman]: It was huge.

    Bennett: The humidity.

    Jackson: The seashore...

    [Unidentified woman]: I remember, I was just a little tiny thing and it was so thin and floppy, you know.

    Jackson: And the pink heather's beautiful.

    Bennett: Yeah, that sounds like a...

    Jackson: And I had a dark blue cloth suit and my husband gave me some beautiful flowers, well it was beautiful in the house where we were married, and then I had beautiful flowers. We didn't have corsages or anything, but you had flowers all over it.

    Bennett: Where were you married?

    Jackson: In Immanuel Church - by Reverend Charles Clash. I was to be married by Reverend Mr. Laird, but he died - he had been transferred to the Immanuel, but he died just about three weeks before we were married and we had the arrangements all made, cause we loved him, because he went to Christ Church. I think he was in Christ Church, well, Bishop Coleman confirmed me - no it was Bunting, John Bunting was the minister at Christ Church.

    Bennett: When the men, when they became a foreman, they dressed differently than, I think from that picture we did decide that a man, if he was a foreman he dressed in like with a tie, seemed like?

    Jackson: Tom Stirling always wore a white shirt and a black tie, a bow tie. And Mr. Billingsly that did the painting and the papering, he dressed that way. But now, the yard master then, was old Mosey Campbell, and, Lord, he must have been over six foot, real tall, he used to wear, well, they were chambray shirts, but they were a paler blue, the men wore the darker blue chambray shirts, but old Mosey wore the lighter blue, and he was real tall, and he wasn't liked very well, he was nasty to the working men.

    Bennett: He was nasty?

    Jackson: M-huh - old Mosey Campbell. If it rained or anything and the men would say "Oh, dear, we're going to lose another day.", Mosey Campbell used to say, many times he said to my father, "Well, if you don't like the weather, you can go somewhere else," But there was nowhere else to go because they were all in a clutch. Pennsylvania Railroad paid a dollar a day and all the men worked down along the east side in the American Car Factory, and railroad - they all paid the same. It was capital over labor, but I heard Harry Miller and Emil Cross and my father and Joe Constano and a few more standing up on the lawn talking one day. And my father said, "The day that labor goes over capital, we can ask our own wages. They won't tell us what we have to get." And that's when the unions come in and settled that affair, and Mamma knew in Wilmington from the feet up to the head down. Now, understand they go to extremes, they have gone to extremes, but then everybody got in a click and everybody paid the same money and if you got fired from DuPont's, you were blackballed. They blackballed you in the other concerns. It was very, very hard to get a job and my father first come to the country, when he come to America, on the gates down at the American Car Foundry, Pullmans and all them - Jacksons and Sharps, all them works down on the east side, there were signs on the gates, "Irish need not apply," and "Polish need not apply", so it was pretty tough on them coming into the country.

    Bennett: See, there's been discrimination against races always.

    Jackson: But that all changed there, then they were glad - when the first World War come on, I'm telling you, they got on their knees to get - I was the first female that the Pennsylvania Railroad ever hired. They never hired a female anywhere in their works all over the country, and even their telephone operators were men. And when the first World War come, it cleaned the French Street station out of the men and then they were applying for women. And I went down and applied for a position. And I passed the educational test and I passed the health test. There was four girls and there was three turned down, and I was the only one accepted and I was one of the first telephone operators and their recording clerk. In the Pennsylvania Railroad, I was the first female.

    Bennett: Oh, you're a first then.

    Jackson: Down on French Street - now, I don't know about other places. But they never hired females, they were always against females. See, that was a discrimination, too.

    Bennett: Well, yeah, but that went on...

    Jackson: It was in 1917.
  • Powder workers taking pride in their jobs; Bob Devenney allowing neighborhood children to ride the powder wagons; using cornstarch as face powder and bricks for rouge; ideal family size; women wearing "wrappers" around the house; minimal jewelry
    Keywords: Bob Devenney; Cameos; Clothing and dress; Cosmetics; Duchess pin; Family size--Public opinion; Jewelry--Religious aspects; Modesty; powder wagons; pride in work; rouge; Women's clothing
    Transcript: Bennett: If someone was promoted in your Village or in the - did they very often act differently - the men? Would your dad say maybe, "Oh now he thinks he's great." Or was it just sort of normal?

    Jackson: As far as I can remember, I think it was just normal procedure. I've heard my father and old Joe Constano and Harry Miller say many times, "Well, the man deserved it. He was a good man."

    Bennett: Okay, so they were fair in their...

    Jackson: Yes, they were fair.

    Bennett: Would you say they were proud of their working hands?

    Jackson: Oh, they were all proud of their jobs, yes.

    Bennett: And they were proud of...

    Jackson: If someone just made powder kegs or rolled the powder kegs, and Bob Devenney and several other men, they rode the powder wagons, see. I don't know where they took them to, if it went up Rising Sun, and they were very proud of that, and they'd say, "Well, they think enough of me to let me drive the powder up there." It was a day's work and I many a time rode the powder wagons because Bob Devenney knew us well, he's some relations of ours, but I don't know. And we would - us little children, six and seven, we would go down to the gate there and we'd wait for Bob to come out, and the wagon had a big canvas top over it, but they were high, but we'd be standing there and Bob Devenney, he was a big man, he'd put his big arm down there and he'd pull us up by one hand, and there'd be a couple of us, and we'd sit on the seat beside him, and we'd ride with him. And full of powder, and we'd ride with him to the head of Rising Sun hill, and he'd say, "Now this is as far as I can take you." And we'd get out of his wagon, run home, waiting for the next powder wagon to come out, and then he would go down in town - one time, you know, they went past the Bishopstead on 14th Street and there was an explosion from the powder wagon, and it blew up the Bishopstead.

    Bennett: On 14th Street that was?

    Jackson: Yes, years and years ago - and I'll say sixty years ago, maybe seventy. But the DuPont's put that Bishopstead back brick by brick the way it was built. Yes, it blew up the Bishopstead.

    Bennett: I know where you mean.

    Jackson: Fourteenth Street - it's now out there in Bancroft's.

    Bennett: You said that you didn't wear cosmetics, but do you remember if a lot of the ladies or young girls did?

    Jackson: No, they mostly used cornstarch.

    Bennett: They used cornstarch as powder?

    Jackson: Lightly-as powder. Course when they got out, earning their own money, of course I guess they bought the powder, but I used the cornstarch when I was 14, 15, just lightly, and I used to sprinkle it here - cornstarch was used for many things.

    Bennett: Would you use cornstarch on your face as a powder as well?

    Jackson: As a powder, yes. To make my face smooth. I had a smooth face anyway, I don't know why I had to do it at 14, 15 - that's youth.

    Bennett: How about, let's say, rouge and lipstick and that type of thing?

    Jackson: Never heard tell of it. I'll tell you what we used to do, and our cheeks were red enough because we were all healthy and had red cheeks, we used to find a piece of a red brick or something, we'd rub that darned hard red brick over our faces to see if we could get some red off it.

    Bennett: Okay, I've heard it all now [laughs] Red - I've heard of fruit and whatever...

    Jackson: Everything's the truth, I have never exaggerated one thing I've told you.

    Bennett: Red bricks?

    Jackson: A piece of red stone, if it wasn't a red brick, a piece of red stone, sometimes we used to hunt for a red - we thought, you know, that being red, that would give us red cheeks, and I guess we'd rub almost the skin, so I don't know, whether it made us red or not, but that's what we used for rouge.

    Bennett: Did you have any lipstick or did they have any...

    Jackson: No, never heard tell of it.

    [Unidentified woman]: Seems like none of them wore any makeup at all.

    Bennett: No, I think...

    [Unidentified woman]: She and all her sisters, I've never known any of them...

    Jackson: And most all the girls.

    [Unidentified woman]: I was the first one that made any of them up for a special occasion.

    Jackson: I have never used lipstick.

    [Unidentified woman]: No, they've never used any makeup.

    Bennett: How about other gals in the neighborhood?

    Jackson: Well, some of them were a little bit flighty - they would put powder and some of that rouge on them, but the older people would say that they were fixing up for no good. They just thought they were fly-by-nights if they had powder on them and put any rouge on them. They didn't think - they put them down as bad girls, whether they were or not, I don't know, I never heard, never knew - but there was some very nice girls used to fix up and all, but the older people used to say they were fixing up for a purpose, and you could take what you wanted out of that. And I don't think they knew a thing about it, they just were guessing at that.

    Bennett: Well, it's just a thought, I think.

    Jackson: And many of them wore their dresses too short - they'd say, "Well, you see, she'd up to no good, she's showing as much of her leg as she can." It had to be down to the shoetop, you never showed any of your leg. When we went sledding, even as kids, mother would say, "Keep your dresses down. When you sit on a sled, make sure your dresses are down and hold them down." And if the wind comes up, first thing you'd do was grab your dresses and push them down. I used to often wonder what would happen if anybody ever saw part of your leg.

    Bennett: [Laughs].

    Jackson: Well, I did. That's the way we were brought up. And when my father kissed my mother goodbye when he went to work, he always pulled the kitchen door partly, if us children were in the kitchen, he pulled the door partly closed, and he kissed her goodbye and we often wondered what they did back of that door, we never knew he kissed her. I don't know whether it would have been a crime if we'd have seen it or what, but he was just that modest them days, that modest.

    Bennett: What would you say was the average family, amount of children?

    Jackson: Seven and eight.

    Bennett: Seven and eight.

    Jackson: If they had four and five, they had a very small family. You'd heard them say, "Oh, there's so and so, God help them, they only have four children." Or somebody only had five. But when you had seven and eight and ten and twelve, you had a nice family. And when my mother died, we had eleven children, six lived and five died, and she was only 38 - 38.

    Bennett: My grandmother died at 26, and the other at 37.

    Jackson: Mother was only 38, and if all our children had lived would have been eleven in our family.

    Bennett: What did your mother wear around the house? What would you have worn, let's say, just on an average day. Would she have worn an old dress that she was using, or would she buy something, like you just said a wrapper specifically?

    Jackson: She wore wrappers - the wrappers were fifty cents and they would be gray or dark colors, gray color or a bluish, light bluish with figures in it or something. Then there was an inner part come in here, and it was all hooked - hooks and eyes - it was hooked all the way down here to keep her solid in here, then the rest of the wrapper would come over and snapped over, or buttoned over like, but this would be loose but in here you were tightened in...

    Bennett: At the bodice?

    Jackson: Yeah, your body was tightened in up here, it was all tightened here. Wrappers.

    Bennett: Did it have a belt, was it that...

    Jackson: Sometimes there was a belt, sometimes there wasn't a belt, but they wore a gingham apron and tied it around the back in a bow. And, of course, on Sunday if you thought company was coming, you put on a white apron.

    Bennett: Over the wrapper?

    Jackson: Yeah.

    Bennett: So then they bought these things, or made these things specifically to wear around the house?

    Jackson: Yeah, they were house...

    Bennett: Okay, you didn't wear a Sunday dress, okay.

    Jackson: You didn't wear your good dress unless you were going someplace special.

    Bennett: What kind of jewelry would she wear?

    Jackson: Mother had nothin' but a wedding ring.

    Bennett: Even when she went out she didn't wear anything? Did she have a watch?

    Jackson: No. Some did. Mrs. Beacom had a watch, and Bess had that watch up here, mostly on a chain.

    Bennett: Had it on a chain, okay.

    Jackson: Bess had it on a chain for years 'til she died, I don't know who got it. But someone better off had a watch. Mother never had - none of our neighbors that I knew - Mrs. Buchanan never had no watch - Mrs. Constano had no watch - and a - well, sometimes they'd buy a ten cent pin. They was called the Duchess pin.

    Bennett: The Duchess pin?

    Jackson: The Duchess pin - it was a round pin and it was oval like this and had a nice pin across - you could either wear it on your belt or you could wear it up here where your neck come together, it was only ten cents. But there'd be a ladies' head on it or sometimes there would be a picture of a little animal or something. But it had enamel, like white enamel, then there was like a little picture - it looked like a cameo today, but it wasn't a cameo, it was ten cents, but it was called the Duchess pin.

    Bennett: Sort of a cheap imitation, I guess - like a cameo.

    Jackson: Like a cameo today.

    Bennett: Do you remember any of them wearing, like, religious jewelry - like Catholics might wear a cross or the St. Christopher - do you remember any of those kind of things that they would wear?

    Jackson: Oh, yes, the Catholics mostly always wore a cross and when I was about sixteen, I liked the cross and chain and I was going with my intended husband at that time, didn't know it then, and for Christmas he gave me a beautiful cross and chain. I gave it to Charles' daughter, my great-granddaughter.

    Bennett: I think they're very lovely.

    Jackson: This cross was beautiful, beautiful cross, and then my initials were on the back of it. And Judith McClaren has it, that's who I wanted to have it.

    Bennett: How about - now I just don't mean you or your family - did they wear earrings?

    Jackson: Very few, but they were pierced ears.

    Bennett: Yes, that was sort of...

    Jackson: Only pierced ears. I think Mrs. Beacom wore - she sort of was a little bit more stylish than the rest of them. I think she wore the earrings and I think old Mrs. Miller - I remember going down there one time and I think I saw earrings on her, the pierced ones, but very few.

    Bennett: Just not many...

    Jackson: Well, they weren't popular.
  • Walking on Sundays and picking apples in various orchards; silver dollar and gold piece her father used to carry; staying in a fancy hotel in Atlantic City during her honeymoon; items carried in women's pocketbooks; neighborhood characters including Mr. Diddier and Ned Edler; her family's dogs and cats
    Keywords: Ankyloglossia; childhood mischief; Children--Social life and customs; gold pieces; Honeymoons; Money; pets; pins; Pockets; safety pins; Stuttering; Teeth--Care and hygiene; Walking
    Transcript: Bennett: Okay. What was your chief mode of transportation?

    Jackson: Our feet.

    Bennett: That's what I thought you were gonna say. [laughs]

    Jackson: Well, we walked everywhere. One time we walked up to Greenville and we hit the Reading Railroad there, it was about six girls of us, and we started to walk down that railroad, we hadn't any idea where it ended up, do you know where we ended up - Brandywine Park. We had walked that far. And then we had no money to come home and we had to walk from Brandywine Park in through Elsemere and all, and all the way up to Squirrel Run, but we walked. That was all we had to do on Sunday was take a walk. Mother would say, "Now you can take a walk and pick flowers, but don't be going into any apple orchards because it's Sunday and you mustn't take apples on Sunday." But we could take them all the rest of the week, but on Sunday you couldn't. But she said we could pick flowers, so us girls would walk - and one time we walked up to Lenape Park from Greenville up there.

    Bennett: Oh.

    Jackson: Yes we did.

    Bennett: Oh, that's a long walk.

    Jackson: Yeah, we walked it. And we walked from Squirrel Run and along the creek up to Rockland and way above Rockland, Sunday after Sunday, seeing what we could see and who was out and where the flowers were. And picking out - looking if we could find another orchard we might go to the rest of the week. And we really got into the orchards, we really loved the orchards. But the farmers let us have all we wanted, he said - they'd say, "You can have all the apples you want that's on the ground." And then he'd walk away to the red barn away up the hill like, and when he got up there, a couple of us, and I was one, we'd go up the apple tree and shake the limbs and we made sure we got good apples. And the farmer never knew we were getting the good apples.

    Bennett: You got them from the ground.

    Jackson: We took, yeah, on the ground, we got them, but they were right from the tree, fresh from the tree.

    Bennett: Do you know what your dad might have had in his pockets, what he carried in his pockets?

    Jackson: Not money.

    Bennett: Okay, but what did he have?

    Jackson: He didn't have any keys, for nothing was locked up. He had a penknife, he would carry a penknife and he had a little, an old watch chain or something, but he never had a watch to it, he used to carry that in it. And maybe he had a couple of dimes.

    Bennett: That was money.

    Jackson: That's all I know. And for carfare - see they could buy the tickets six for a quarter, see, if you bought the tickets, you got an extra one, six for a quarter, little red tickets on the Peoples' line. Then he had a little tiny coin purse just like this, and he could snap that to, he put the tickets in there, maybe a couple of dimes, he had that in there, and that was in his pocket.

    Bennett: Did he have a lucky piece that he might have carried?

    Jackson: Well, in later years he had a silver dollar and it was 18 - I think it was 1851 or 1853, his birth year, and he carried that for years and years. He said it always brought him good luck. One day he was down on King Street, I think he bought a chicken, and he got it mixed up with some other change he had, and he knew he gave it to the farmer lady for the chicken and later on he went back - no, it wasn't a chicken, a piece of meat or something else, and he went back to her and he said, "I gave you the wrong piece of money, that was my birth coin." And she vowed and declared it wasn't, but he said he knew he gave her that coin, but he carried it for years - his birthday.

    Bennett: That's a shame.

    Jackson: And one time he had a five dollar gold piece and he was buying something on King Street, and years and years ago there were gyps on King Street, some of the farmers were gyps, and he bought something and he thought he had given the woman the amount of pennies, and in that penny was this two and a half gold piece. But after he gave it to her and he walked away, he went back and he told her he had given her a two and a half gold piece for a penny but she said, "No." They kept their money in cigar boxes, she said, "No, indeed, you can look in the cigar box." But he said, "You didn't put it in the cigar box." And he lost that.

    Bennett: That's too bad. They're valuable today, just think about it.

    Jackson: I got a couple two and a half gold piece, I got a twenty dollar gold piece from 1915 in the bank.

    [Unidentified woman]: Two and a half gold piece is worth $195.00.

    Bennett: $195.00 - what year is it, Mrs. Jackson?

    Jackson: 1915 - the last estimate I got on it, it was close to $3,000 - the twenty dollar gold piece, 1915. That was when they - it was during the first World War, well they started 1914, we didn't get into it until 1917, but then all the money was gold money to come out and the places were all paying in gold money. And when we went to Atlantic City on our honeymoon in 1920, my husband hadn't anything but gold pieces to pay our hotel. And when he said we were from Delaware, the clerk said, "You're from Delaware, you people are wealthy." And he paid in gold. "Yes," he said, "Du Ponts are all wealthy, they live there, but it's not all du Ponts in Delaware." And he paid the bill. But we got in the best hotel, that hotel that was exploded, you know, and torn down with dynamite, and that was a first-class place. My husband was an electrical engineer and we put up there and it cost us, I think it was ten dollars a day. We stayed ten days.

    Bennett: That - and you had your meals along with it, I think?

    Jackson: Lord, when I went down in the dining room and saw all these crystals hanging up and pink cantaloupe on the table and your choice of anything you wanted - Heavens, I thought I was in the king's, queen's castle - I was never used to cantaloupe for breakfast.

    Bennett: What would a lady carry in her pocketbook?

    Jackson: She'd carry a comb, she'd carry a toothbrush, sometimes.

    Bennett: A toothbrush?

    Jackson: Yeah, she'd carry safety pins. Yeah, she'd carry a toothbrush, cause she didn't know where she might go in the evenings, she'd want to clean her teeth. And we cleaned our teeth down at the hydrant, that's why I always cleaned my teeth, and I cleaned them with baking soda, and salt, that's all, we had no toothpaste. And she'd carry safety pins and maybe she'd carry a strip of plain pins, and she'd carry a few hairpins, maybe a side comb, maybe a little change.

    Bennett: Handkerchief?

    Jackson: Yes, they always had a pretty hankie, nice handkerchief.

    [Unidentified woman]: Mirror?

    Jackson: No, I don't think they bothered, I never noticed any mirrors in pocketbooks. I never carried a mirror, my sister, mother, they never carried mirrors. They carried the necessities - safety pins were a necessity, side comb, anything happened to their hair, they had the side combs, they had the comb if it needed combing. The things that if you needed had to be done. Maybe a little bit of soap with them, I don't know. Things that they really needed, the necessities of life.

    Bennett: Do you remember any characters, so to speak, in your neighborhood - people that were a little different, little strange in any ways - somebody like that?

    Jackson: Yeah, there's an old man, I think he lived up St. Joseph's Church, his name was Diddier.

    Bennett: Who?

    Jackson: Diddier, his name was Diddier, he had two daughters.

    Bennett: D-I-D-D-I-E-R - or something like that?

    Jackson: Yes, something like that, Diddier. I don't know if he was French or Italian; I think he was French. And he was a little bit out, and in August, month of August, he always acted a little queer and he walked all hours of the night sometimes, be walking around two or three o'clock in the morning. And us children always said in August that people like that went crazy, it was August, and he was crazy. Did you ever hear that, in August that...

    Bennett: No, I just know the full moon is supposed to affect people, I believe it - I really believe that.

    Jackson: Well, this was on, but he was up in years, he was up in years. He didn't harm anybody, but he just maybe would walk around two o'clock in the morning, sometimes he had a dog and would walk around with it, and us children would say, "Oh there's old Mr. Diddier, it's August, he's off of his rocker." Course we said, I mean kids, weren't very careful of what we said, you know. But that was the only one that I knew. And of course, Ned Edler, but there was nothing wrong with him but his speech, but a lot of people thought that Ned Edler was a little bit out, but I think he was all right. He could clean, he used to work for Jeff Blakely in the saloon, and clean, and Jeff used to give him a little bit of change, and Jeff used to buy him a shirt and he was very appreciative, but today he could be corrected, he was like tongue-tied.

    Bennett: I think so.

    Jackson: Couldn't understand him, but he was from a very fine family off of 18th Street.

    Bennett: Did you have any pets along with all these children?

    Jackson: Lord, yes, we had two cats, two females, one was Mary Ann, the other was Black and Tan, then we had a big, black shepherd dog, Frisk.

    Bennett: Fritz?

    Jackson: Frisk - F-R-I-S-K, Frisk.

    Bennett: And how about livestock, did you have any livestock?

    Jackson: Chickens and ducks - I guess that's all we had.

    Bennett: Well, that sounds like quite a household, doesn't it?

    Jackson: Boy, we had plenty of them.

    Bennett: Was the dog an inside or an outside dog?

    Jackson: No indeed he never got in, he was kept outside and that's where dogs should be, kept outside.

    Bennett: And how about the cats?

    Jackson: The cats were kept outside, they slept in the shed at night, and on the grounds they weren't hollerin' and yellin', they were just...

    [Unidentified woman]: Only when they were little though.

    Jackson: Kittens - they stayed out in the shed.

    [Unidentified woman]: No, no, I mean when you girls were little. When you were older, you had your own animals.

    Bennett: No, but I mean, back in her time, they stayed outside, okay.

    Jackson: See, she's back when I'm in Squirrel Run, and see I was six and seven and eight and all - it was 1903, 1904.

    [Unidentified woman]: I didn't want Mrs. Bennett to think you were an animal hater.

    Jackson: Well, I don't love them, to tell you the truth, I don't love them.

    [Unidentified woman]: Well you used to. I remember Fluffy and I remember the cat.

    Jackson: Oh, we had a little French poodle. But I think the animals places are outside, of course other people don't agree with me because I think they shed an awful lot of hair. I know I had a black cat one time, I didn't want it, but my husband had it, he liked it and it knew I didn't like it, but he knew my husband did, and I'll swear my vacuum cleaner was the only fur-lined vacuum cleaner in the row. Cause every time I cleaned the house, when I cleaned that vacuum cleaner that black hair was lined, and I didn't want my...

    Bennett: Thank God for those modern inventions - in your time you'd have a lot of trouble. [laughs]
  • Relationship between Catholics and Protestants in the villages; eye glasses purchased from the ten cent store; ill-fitting shoes purchased on King Street; her mother's "Juliet" shoes and father's shoes
    Keywords: barefoot; Catholic Protestant tension; eye glasses; Footwear; Podiatrists; shoe stores; Squirrel Run (Del. : Village); Working class--Religious life
    Transcript: Bennett: In Squirrel Run, which you remember the best, would one street or one area be considered a better part of the Village than another part, or was it all sort of in the same? Was there a poorer area and a...

    Jackson: No, no, I think they all backed practically the same, the houses were all alike, the houses were kept clean, there was very little furniture, but it was taken care of. They all had settees and rocking chairs, that was the height of the furniture. No, they were all working people, they all associated with each other, and the Catholics and the Protestants got along very nicely together. Of course we were warned we must never marry a Catholic. Somehow or other, of course there was always trouble in Ireland, which is no ignorance, and we were always warned when we went after a boy, make sure he was of your own religion because they always said there was enough of trouble in married life without having trouble over religion. And of course they were very narrow minded at that time, but you weren't allowed to - you could play with them and all like that, but make up your mind you weren't going to get in love with them, because you weren't allowed to marry them. But it was done - there was Catholics and Protestants got married. Now everybody...

    Bennett: Yes, very different.

    Jackson: Course there's a lot of trouble over in Ireland cause there's a lot of ignorance over there.

    Bennett: Do you remember if many people wore glasses?

    Jackson: Wore glasses?

    Bennett: Eye glasses, yeah.

    Jackson: Yeah, but they got them out of the ten cent store. Yeah, my mother wore - step-mother wore glasses and my father wore glasses and they would go in the ten cents store and wherever they could see the writing - they'd try the different glasses on for ten cents and whichever brought the writing up plain, then that's the pair of glasses they'd get.

    Bennett: They were really magnified.

    Jackson: Yeah, they never went to an eye doctor. And Mrs. Constano and Mr. Constano wore glasses, and Mrs. Beacom, Mr. - most of the older people wore glasses, when they were reading only.

    Bennett: How about if a child had to wear glasses. Would that child be teased?

    Jackson: I don't remember any children ever wearing glasses, any little children. I don't think anybody ever noticed anything like that until the children got much older. It could have been, I can't remember.

    Bennett: That you don't remember.

    Jackson: I never saw any of the children around the Village wearing glasses.

    Bennett: Did you go barefoot?

    Jackson: Oh my dear, yes, as soon as the first warm day come, we'd come home from school, before school closed, that would be in May I guess, maybe in April, we'd sit down as soon as we got out of school - take our shoes and stockings off, walk home barefoot the rest of the way, and stayed barefooted when we would be home playing. The only time we wore shoes was to school, until June, and then when June was out, the beginning of June why then the shoes were off, unless we were going to church.

    Bennett: Yeah, how did you get your shoes?

    Jackson: They were hanging up - Kings Street had a lot of strings hanging up from the roofs of the stores and things and there'd be a whole string of shoes on them - this was back now, before the stores got started, and the mothers used to go in and they bought shoes by the age, and my mother and step-mother - I was ten years old and she had a daughter that was ten or eleven - she was like a string bean and I was like a little barrel. Well when she went in to buy shoes for the both of us, she bought the shoes for two little girls ten years old. Well, I could only get my top part of my foot in my shoe, but rather than wait for another month for her to go back, I squeezed the heel in. But Anna, the skinny child, her shoes would be too big, but mine were always too small, but I wore the shoes anyway, because I knew they would be taken back. But I suffered along until I stretched them enough that I could wear them.

    Bennett: It's a wonder you didn't ruin your feet.

    Jackson: I did. Because when I first went to the chiropodist, he looked at my feet, he said, "My heavens, who bound your feet up like the Chinese?" And I said, "Nobody." "Well," he said, "you've worn terrible, misfitted shoes." I said, "I'll agree with you, I wore 49 cent shoes, or 98." And I said, "If they were too small, I wore them anyway. And I wear a triple A shoe today. Wear 8 and a half, but... [crosstalk] Eight and a half is the length, but...

    [Unidentified woman]: Oh, your stockings are l0 and a half.

    Jackson: But the width of my shoes are triple A. I'll show you my feet.

    Bennett: Well, I wear double A's, so I know what you mean. Yes, yes, they are narrow. Now, my mother developed bunions because she would squeeze her - she was wearing a seven, and a seven was a big foot, so she would squeeze them down and she developed bunions.

    Jackson: I think most of them did.

    Bennett: I'm surprised you don't have a bunion. I'm really surprised that she doesn't.

    Jackson: No, I was very lucky.

    Bennett: You're lucky, but I think you develop those when you're young.

    Jackson: Well, you know years ago, they didn't measure, when you went in the store, afraid you'd get a large-sized shoe, soon as you got in the front door and you saw someone coming up to you - "Get me a Number 3 shoe, a three shoe." You took about a five, maybe a six, but you always told them...

    [Unidentified woman]: Look at the box, I don't care what the size is.

    Bennett: Yeah, I want to be comfortable.

    Jackson: But if you wore over a three shoe years ago - but the lasts are entirely different today, they've all been changed, but if you wore over a three, oh, you had an awful sloppy foot.

    Bennett: That's true.

    Jackson: So when you went in the store, you...

    Bennett: Four was the - I mean that was the largest of what...

    Jackson: Four was the largest, and I guess I should have been wearing a six when I was trying to put a three on.

    Bennett: Sounds - you're lucky that you didn't ruin them more.

    Jackson: Well, I'm lucky that I've got the feet that I can - up until I broke this hip...

    Bennett: At home, what kind of shoes did your parents wear? Did they wear like a house slipper or...

    Jackson: My mother wore a Juliet.

    Bennett: A what?

    Jackson: A Juliet.

    Bennett: Would you explain that, please?

    Jackson: A Juliet is a shoe that there is a little bit of elastic on each side, no laces or no buttons, and you just slip into it and hold on - my mother - Juliet's. They have a heel on them, but no buttons or no lace, there's a little bit of elastic on each side. But my father - well my father wore practically the same shoe. Bob Blakely used to buy it for him from Dougherty's on Madison Street. And my father had a shoe like that with elastic, but it was sort of a dressy shoe, and very narrow - he had a very small foot, and it was - it wasn't a Juliet, it was a good-looking shoe, but he had to pull it on, he had elastic on both sides, and there was a little strap in the back and he'd put his finger in the strap and the top of his shoe and pull them on like that. But no buttons or no laces.

    Bennett: Okay, cause it had a high back, I suppose?

    Jackson: Yeah, it did. But working shoe, he wore a laced, heavy shoe.

    Bennett: But in the house, that would be what we would consider almost a house slipper, I suppose.

    Jackson: Yes, that was his dress shoe.

    Bennett: Oh, then he wore those, let's say, to church, if he would go to church or to a...

    Jackson: Go to church, he wore them then, and they were black leather and shiny. And mother's were black and shiny, but mother's skirts come right down to her insteps so you couldn't see what kind of shoe...And Mrs. Constano wore the same - a lot of them - Mrs. Beacom. They called them Juliet's.

    Bennett: Juliet's, okay, that's a new word for me.
  • Courtship and wedding customs including trousseau, wedding parties, typical gifts, and her father asking questions about potential suitors; making diapers and christening gowns
    Keywords: Christening gowns; Courtship; Courtship--Religious aspects; Diapers; Trolley cars; trousseau; Wedding etiquette; Weddings
    Transcript: Bennett: When a young couple got married, what sort of things were considered necessary? What did you have to have right away?

    Jackson: Well, when you got engaged to be married, you had to start making sheets and pillowcases.

    Bennett: Okay, was that part of like a trousseau?

    Jackson: That was a trousseau.

    Bennett: What else did you have to have?

    Jackson: Well, you had to buy - have extra petticoats, you had to have an extra corset cover, and if you were married in a coat suit, you had to wait and get the coat suit when you were married, and if you were going to have a veil and all that, very few did why the father had to furnish that.

    Bennett: Was there - did a lot of people move in with in-laws would you say?

    Jackson: Yes, Jenny, the oldest sister, she was married and lived out in Iowa for almost a year, and then when work got scarce and they come home, and they just come in with my father for another year or so until Mr. McClaren got work again. And they all - now Mrs. Harvey, she had a couple of girls come home with their husbands, lived in with family.

    Bennett: Did they have bridal showers?

    Jackson: No, I never knew of any.

    Bennett: That was not heard of?

    Jackson: No and no christening showers.

    Bennett: Nothing - how about, would the men have a stag party like the night before?

    Jackson: Maybe some of them.

    Bennett: There wasn't...

    Jackson: No, I've never heard of any much celebration. Everything had to be as quiet as possible when you were getting married, sort of the sacred thing.

    Bennett: Was there a wedding party?

    Jackson: Yes, they generally had a - when they got married, they'd come home, then there'd be a big dinner, supper, whatever you wanted to call it. When my oldest sister was married, Charles' grandmother, when they went down to Old Swedes' Church and they were married, and then they come home, we had a table, they cleaned the parlor furniture out and they put a big, long table - big oak table, square tables with one end to the other, and there was ham - fresh ham - cold, and we had ice cream, cake, had a wedding cake - well, it was a good set-out. And then they - course everybody brought all their kids, too - they were all well fed, plenty there. All the neighbors helped to cook the food, you know, and then they left after midnight or so and went in and took the train. They had to have a cab, there was no cars running then in 1902, none up Squirrel Run, they did later, and my father got a cab and took them - I don't know where they went down to the station.

    Bennett: Was there wedding presents?

    Jackson: Yes.

    Bennett: Do you remember any wedding presents?

    Jackson: Yes, Ethel has a silver butter dish with a dome on it, a lid. She got two of them. My brother-in-law threw the other one out, I was mad about it. And the other one, it was a silver one and it had a little bird on it, but it had tarnished and he thought it was no good so, but I did get one of them and had it re-silvered and I gave it to Ethel and it's deep and there's a glass goes on top and this deepness you put cracked ice and this glass goes on it and you put your butter on the top of the glass.

    Bennett: To keep it chilled.

    Jackson: Kept it chilled. And there was a butter knife come with it, and she has the butter knife. That was the pattern of 1800, she has the pattern of 1800. This is a bead of silver, this is sterling silver.

    Bennett: Yes, that's pretty, I'll bet it's lovely.

    Jackson: And the butter dish. And you could shine that butter dish up.

    [Unidentified woman]: Beautiful - it's a little difficult to clean, but it's beautiful.

    Bennett: I can imagine, yeah.

    Jackson: It tarnishes quickly.

    Bennett: Toothbrush maybe, use a soft toothbrush?

    [Unidentified woman]: Yes, because you have to get in there...

    Bennett: What other kind of wedding presents would people give to the bride and groom?

    Jackson: They'd get pitchers and glasses, then they didn't have so many pitchers as they had these bottles like. I think Charles has a - Helen has a bottle that Jenny got. A bottle like this and then a top in it and then they have these things that they had little glasses like for whiskey, they'd get a set of them, and there was always a dozen in everything, and glasses. There was no sherbet glasses.

    Bennett: You mean like, let's say, a wine - a carafe, you mean like a...

    Jackson: Yes, round bottom to it like...

    Bennett: Okay, pre-stem.

    Jackson: And then there was a glass top went in it.

    Bennett: Well these sound like luxurious gifts rather than necessary items. They were giving a...

    Jackson: No, they were very proud to have a water bottle on the table.

    Bennett: But I mean, it was more of a luxury.

    [Unidentified man]: But did they have a table? [Laughs]

    Jackson: Sure they had a table. Yes, they were proud to have them to put on the table with the water in it, if company come. Course we didn't bother unless company come.

    Bennett: No, but they were nice gifts, yeah.

    Jackson: And then she got a beautiful china pink clock - a pink china clock - it was beautiful, and it was only about this high. I thought it was beautiful and when his father got a little size, and his brother, they took the clock apart and that was the end of the pink china clock.

    [Unidentified man]: It runs in the family.

    Jackson: Took the clock apart.

    Bennett: That sounds very pretty.

    Jackson: They were gonna make another one like it, I guess, I don't know. Children.

    Bennett: Did most of the young couples have to ask the permission of the family - the father - to get married?

    Jackson: Oh, definitely - you wouldn't dare get married, even when it come down to me, my husband asked my father for our hand. They all asked for our hand, all the way down with Irma, everybody them girls did. And my father said when my husband asked, and said he'd like to marry his daughter, he thought he had met the girl he would like to spend the rest of his life with. My father said, "If she makes you as good a wife as she's made me a daughter," he said, "there will be no complaint on her side about any trouble."

    Bennett: That's very nice. He had a lot of nice thoughts, didn't he?

    Jackson: He wasn't educated, but...

    Bennett: Everything you've said...

    [Unidentified woman]: He was very wise.

    Bennett: I think so, yes, I've enjoyed many of the...

    Jackson: He had wonderful theories on life. He had a saying and I passed it on to Charles, he'll think of it, maybe, when I'm gone. He always says, "The man that you pull out of a well sometimes is the man that pushes you in a well." And I lived to see that.

    [Unidentified man]: I use that all the time at work.

    Jackson: Do you?

    [Unidentified man]: That man that you pull out of the gutter is the man that pushes you in the gutter.

    Jackson: And he always said to me, "When you have no money, if you put your hand in another man's pocket, he'll squeal and squeal loud." That's if you want to borrow money - in other words, if you want to borrow money, don't ask friends, because...

    Bennett: Yeah, yeah.

    Jackson: Oh, he had some wonderful theories.

    Bennett: Very nice. Did your father, for instance, want you to be of a certain age, or did he want to make sure that these gentlemen made a good salary, did he question them about their...

    Jackson: Oh indeed he did, he put - no judge was better than he was. And if you had a boy - and you couldn't have a boy until you were sixteen or over.

    Bennett: Oh, you had to be sixteen?

    Jackson: You had to be sixteen and when you brought a young man around to the house, he didn't say nothing that night, but he'd look him over good, and he'd sit there for a long time, then he went to bed. The next morning when you come down, he was at the breakfast table, boy you better be ready and have the answers. "Who was that young man that was here last night?" "Well, so and so." "Where does he live?" "So and so." "Where does his mother and father work?" "What's his father do?" "His father works, is head of Bancroft Mills." "What's that young man going to do?" "He's learning his trade." "What kind of a trade?" "Electrical trade," "Does that young man drink?" "Not that I know of, I never saw him drink." "Is he respectful to you? Is he polite?" "Very." "Well, don't ever let him lay his hand on you because he's no good if he ever lays his hand on you. Keep his hands to himself." That was our advice. And "Is he Protestant or Catholic?" Even if he was Catholic, you better say he was Protestant.

    [Unidentified man]: I'm curious, were there any blacks up the creek?

    Jackson: No, none worked in the yard either, even though it was powder and everyone was black anyway and looked like colored, but there was no colored.

    Bennett: Now we'll go to the babies, we've got these people married - when it came to babies, what was necessary, what did they have prepared for the baby? Did they make diapers, buy diapers?

    Jackson: They made the diapers and they made the belly bands, them days they wore belly bands, I don't know whether you know what that is or not?

    Bennett: Yes, I do.

    Jackson: Well, they made the belly bands, then they could make the little nightgowns and they were just like a little shift, you know. And then of course after they were born, when they were dressed up, they had to have a long dress that reached to the ground, why, I don't know. Long - the christening dresses we had, which I burnt because nobody wanted them, why they were long, when they were up on your shoulder they reached to the ground, the dresses. Which was ridiculous, and the baby was about up here, all the baby was about up here and the rest of the dress was down.

    Bennett: That's true, yeah.

    Jackson: But it was pretty.

    Bennett: Oh yeah, just extra ironing I think.

    Jackson: They had little silk bonnets to be christened in and Archie, Charles' father, Archie, his grandmother in New York, Grandmom McClaren, sent him - it looked like a cape, but it looked like a double cape, but it was a long cape, and it was cream colored and then she sent him the cream colored bonnet. We thought it was beautiful.

    Bennett: Sounds lovely.

    Jackson: It was like a half a ruffle down there and then another half a ruffle went all the way down.

    Bennett: Sounds lovely.

    Jackson: And I think it was like cashmere, it was like a little fine silk.

    Bennett: Soft.

    Jackson: Course he was the first - I don't say the rest got that good.

    Bennett: But that probably got passed down, didn't it?

    Jackson: Yes, it did, oh yes... [pause while tape is switched]

    Jackson: Are we finished?

    Bennett: Well, we're kind of close.

    Jackson: Yeah, because see our dinner is at five o'clock, but we have to get down and be there by twenty or quarter of because of a lot of wheelchairs and we have to wait until they are all...

    Bennett: Okay.

    Jackson: If you want more, sometime again...

    Bennett: Well, let me see - I forget where we were, I better mark this because that's where I had my trouble before.

    Jackson: About the babies being christened?

    Bennett: The babies - okay. You did tell me four o'clock. Well, let's save this.

    Jackson: Yes, four o'clock, yes, because Mrs. [Willis?] said they start the dinner there and we do want...

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