Alma Struble Interview


SEPTEMBER 17, 2001



CB:  This I an interview between Alma Struble and Carol Budzinski on September 17, 2001.  It is taking place in Alma’s home on Marlborough Rd. in Pocopson Township.  Alma has lived in the township how long, Alma?


AS:  I’ve lived here 53 years.


CB: 53 years.  Alma is a member of our Pocopson Historical Commission and has so kindly consented to being our first interviewee in the project to collect oral histories from longtime Pocopson residents.  Thank you so much, Alma, for allowing us to do this.   Was your family always from this area?


AS:  No.


CB:  No.  Where were you born?  Where was your family from?


AS:  I was born in West Chester, but I lived a lot of my life in New England, and then we moved to Philadelphia.  So I was a city girl coming out to the country.


CB:  Oh, you sure were.  You were born in West Chester then.  How long did you stay in West Chester?


AS:  A year. Then we moved to New England and then we came back to Philadelphia.  Or came to Philadelphia.  My family were New Englanders.  Vermont and Maine.


CB:  Very much New Englanders. Did you have any siblings?  Brothers or sisters?


AS:  I had one brother.  He was five years younger, and I tried to bring him up properly.  I was pretty stern.


CB:  I am sure he appreciated that.


AS:  He didn’t.  Not much.


CB:  Can you tell us a little bit about your parents?  Had they always been from New England?


AS:  They came from New England.  My father was principal of a high school in West Chester and went on to be…eventually when we moved to Philadelphia, he was an officer in Girard College.  At that time, there were 1,700 boys there. 


CB:  Actually, I passed by Girard College not long ago.  It’s a very big complex.


AS:  Well, it is a lovely place.


CB:  Yes, it is a beautiful place.


AS:  The wall was not to keep the boys in or keep people out.  It just marked the circumference of the place where…


CB:  Did you live on the grounds? Or was that only the boys?


AS:  Yes, on the grounds.  He had to be on call at all times.


CB:  Oh, my goodness.


AS:  Well, my father was in charge of the governesses and housemasters who looked after the boys after school.   And, so lots of things happened.


CB:  An emergency in the night...


AS:  If there was an emergency, he was called.


CB:  Was your mom a homemaker?


AS:  Yes.  She was very much interested in antiques. She belonged to a couple of clubs of that sort.  But, mainly she was a homemaker.  Compared to the wives nowadays.


CB:  Right.  I was going to say most ladies just stayed primarily in their homes. What do you remember most about your childhood?


AS:  I remember living in Vermont.  I was dreadfully homesick when I went to Philadelphia.  I was about seven then when we moved from Vermont. In Vermont, you were able to walk on the streets and visit but, of course, in Philadelphia there weren’t acquaintances or friends nearby to play with. 


CB:  Was it a small town in Vermont so that when you walked out everybody was right there?


AS:  Yes. You could go…you could send your daughter…I had my tonsils out up there.  We didn’t have a

hospital so the surgery took place in the kitchen.   It was very carefully done, and the surgeon was excellent.  After it was over I had some slight problem, so she said “Come to the office and I will paint your throat” with something for some reason.  So, she would give me a nickel to get an ice cream cone when I came.  So when my mother learned of that she said, “Here, I will give you the nickel.  You don’t need to have the doctor give you a nickel.”  So then I had two ice cream cones.  But, it was a lovely place.  At four years of age, you could go out and walk on the street and nobody worried about you.  No terrible things would happen.


CB:  In Philadelphia, at Girard College, were you kind of isolated also because you were on that campus?


AS:  Absolutely.  I went to Friends Select, which was down the road and the people who went to Friends Select all came in from the country or from around, so when they went home they went to distant places, and there wasn’t anybody close by.


CB:  Once school was over you didn’t see school friends anymore.


AS:  I was active in sports, so we stayed after school.  That was fun.


CB:  What kind of sports did you play?


AS:  Hockey, lacrosse, and basketball.


CB:  Oh, wonderful.    


AS:  Oh, but you played in tiny…you didn’t play basketball in my day.  It was divided into three courts and you could not move from one court to the other.  If you were a center, you stayed in the middle.  You couldn’t step over and be close to the basket.  The forwards had to put the ball in the basket.  It was the farthest from our basket were the ones who should feed us the ball and then we’d feed it to the forwards.


CB:  Definitely a passing game then.


AS:  It is much more active now. Much more fun.


CB:  Actually, when I went to high school, and that was in 1958 or ‘62, in those years, and it was an all girls’ school, and we still only played half court basketball then.   You couldn’t pass the centerline.


AS:  Ours was in thirds.  It was no fun. I mean, I liked lacrosse and hockey a lot better.


CB:  You liked to run?


AS:  Yes.  Might as well.


CB:  Then after Friends Select? Wasn’t Friends Select also a high school then? 


AS:  It was high school.  Then I went on to college at Middlebury in Vermont.


CB:  Oh, wonderful.


AS:  The first year I was there I had whooping cough.


CB:  Oh, my goodness.


AS:  Makes a big difference if you lose practically a whole semester.  Especially when you are a freshman the first year.  That made a difference.


CB:  Did you stay the whole four years then?


AS:  Oh yes. I graduated.  I got a job.


CB:  What job did you get?


AS:  Oh, then I went back to teach in Friends Select.  I got my lunch and carfare, which amounted to 30 cents a day.  But I was lucky to get that.  That was in 1935, and jobs were not all that numerous.


CB:  Was that still the Depression years?  ‘35?


AS:  Yes.  It was a little difficult because all of the teachers had taught me and they treated me like a pupil.  It was a little difficult to impress the 7th grade that I was indeed a teacher.  Even if I only got 30 cents a day.  In January, the French and Latin teacher in Unionville resigned to get married, and that is how I got my job.  Here.


CB:  All the way in Unionville.  And how did you hear about that?


AS:  I was with a teachers' agency.  They were friends of my father and they said, “Here is this job, go take an interview.”  I’ve forgotten the interview, but I am sure they did.  So the school decided that was all right. So I got there.  It was an agricultural school at that time.  I had small classes¾like 15¾which is ideal for languages.  But the main interest at Unionville at that time was agriculture.  In ‘36, my husband, or future husband, came to the school to teach agriculture, and so it was a nice arrangement.


CB:  That was one of my questions.  How did you meet your husband?  Now we know.


AS:  I came in ’36.  He came in ’37.


CB:  This was how long a trip from Philadelphia?


AS:  I lived out here during the week.  Then I went home over the weekend.


CB:  Was there a train?  A bus?  How did you get back and forth?


AS:  I probably…It seems to me that we could arrange it so that someone would drive in and have supper without having to pay for it. We teachers were very careful…our pennies…our pay was $1,270 a year.  That doesn’t go very far.  Usually I could find someone who would come in and stay the night and eat supper and breakfast and then go on who lived relatively nearby. Then I could find somebody who would come to dinner on Sunday night and then take me home.   Sort of bribery.


CB:  It worked out very well.  A mutual situation.


AS:  I can’t remember taking a bus, but I must have at sometime, and it would have been a bus.  It wasn’t a train.


CB:  Transportation would have come from Philadelphia all the way out to Unionville?


AS:  No.  You would have to pick it up in Kennett.   I lived in Kennett.  I roomed in Kennett.  Three teachers and I roomed in Kennett, and we had transportation.  We paid, I think, the music teacher drove the car and we all went and paid him a fee or something to.  We used to go to Alex, who was the restaurant at that time.  Now there are hundreds in Kennett.  But, then Alex was the restaurant, and we all tried to get a meal for under a dollar. It was interesting. Once and a while, you splurged and had dessert, but most of the time you would eat a regular meal. At school we would buy our lunch.  In the rooming house, you had breakfast and the possibility of staying overnight for the week.  I can’t remember how much that cost.  A week of staying there.


CB:  I was going to ask did you stay in a private home, but this was a rooming house?


AS:  No.  This was a private home where there were three teachers and I and a man on the first floor, whom we almost never saw. Our housemother, as we called her, would get very much excited about things because there would be telephones to all of us at different times, you know, she would get worried about that.  “Were is so and so? She’s got a telephone call.  Where is she?”  We tried to find out.


CB:  Did she have a family as well? (inaudible)


AS:  No.  She was a widow, I think.  She enjoyed it, I think.


CB:  So when Mr. Struble came, did you know immediately he was the one?


AS:  Pretty much.  At least I did. The 9th grade, which was my homeroom, was very eager in furthering that process apparently. Because…after…now I go to the reunions for these different classes and they all tell me how they did this so that it would get the two of us together.  I guess we were the two newest in the school, so it was sort of natural anyway to get the two youngest and newest teachers lined up if they could. They did very well.  So, we…we were…we came in Jan…I came…he came in September and that summer we announced our engagement. September, or was it…he came in January.  September we announced our engagement, and we were married on Thanksgiving Day. There was a terrible ice storm that day.  When we got home, because the paper said we went on honeymoon to Bermuda.  Well, we came home because on Sunday we had to go back to school.  So when we got home we watched out and the women who owned the apartment that we rented to come home to was slipping on the ice.  We had a hard time wondering whether we had to go out and push her and announce our being there, or whether, of course she knew we were there, but we didn’t want anybody else to know.  So she got out of it, and we didn’t have to go out and push her.  So then on Monday we went back to work.  See, this was Depression time, and you didn’t stop work for pleasure, and it was necessary for Bob and for me, it was customary, because New Englanders are very, very careful and frugal, so it was just natural.  


CB:  So you got married on Saturday?


AS:  No, on Thursday.


CB:  Oh, on Thanksgiving itself.


AS:  Yes.  Thanksgiving on the ice storm, and then we went on our honeymoon to Bermuda which was straight to the apartment in Kennett Square.  I always laughed about that.  And so, on Monday we were back at school.


CB:  Did you get married in Kennett Square or did you go back to Philadelphia?


AS:  Philadelphia.  Because that is where I knew the people.  Most of them.


CB:  Your mom and dad were still alive?


AS:  Yes.  My mom and dad were alive and were a lot of help in suggesting things around here when we were fixing up.  When we came here, there was no heat, no water, no electricity.  And I mean no water, we had to dig a well.


CB:  To this house?


AS:  Yes.


CB:  Since you got married almost you have always lived in this house?


AS:  Since we got married?  No, since we got married, we lived in the apartment in Kennett Square.  We got married…I think we were about nine years in the apartment.  By that time, we had two boys. Then we moved out here in ’47.  We bought it in ’46.  I went on teaching after we were married until I heard the rumor that they weren’t going to give Bob a raise because there were already too many Strubles…they were already giving plenty of money to the Strubles.  In the meantime, my sister-in-law had moved here and taught and she was a good teacher.  So I got mad about that and resigned.  So, then, of course, it was a little tighter, but we lived in the apartment with Grandma Hughes until ’47.  Then we bought this house, and when we moved out we had water, but no heat or electricity.  We moved out in April.  It was a little chilly in this old house in April.  But we managed very well, and nobody got sick.


CB:  Now who was Grandma Hughes?


AS:  Oh, she was the…she was the women whose apartment we rented for nine years.  Oh, she was sweet.  She was an awfully nice person. 


CB:  So you didn’t bring her here with you.  I was thinking if she was your relative maybe she came...


AS:  No, she didn’t come.  No, we struggled without having any older people there. It was a good idea. We had the teachers come out and see the place.  I have a picture somewhere of them all sitting around on the floor on this room because we didn’t have any furniture here.  But by the time we moved out we had enough to be comfortable.   I mean, of course we moved our apartment furniture out here.  So…


CB:  The boys were born while you lived in the apartment?


AS:  Yes.  Two boys were born while I was living in the apartment.  When we were.  Then Tom and Peg were born out here.


CB:  So you have three sons and one daughter?


AS:  Yes, makes a nice (inaudible).  At time, this road was practically empty of houses.  The barn across the road was empty.  The Musters’ house was not here.  Of course, the development was not here.  The Ryans lived over the hill, but you couldn’t see them.  And the two little houses at the top of the hill were not there. Down this way there was an empty house where the Thorns used to live, and beyond that there was an empty house at the corner of the road.  So, it was pretty empty.


CB:  So you weren’t used to neighbors.


AS:  And, it was wartime if I remember rightly, and we couldn’t get telephone.  We were pretty isolated.  We got the telephone just before Christmas, and in January my husband and a young man who was helping us with the work went out and celebrated the New Year by shooting at something that was shining in the sky out there, and it turned out they missed our telephone wires.  Fortunately.  But, they were celebrating the New Year.  That was one of the highlights.  Then we got, before the next year, we got heat and electricity.  It was during that time that we found out that that wall was a wooden wall and not a plaster wall because somebody was drilling a hole, as I told you, and said “There is painted wood behind this and maybe if you chopped it you would find a wooden wall.” Eventually, I got up the courage to chop it, and it was a wooden wall.  I am real glad I did.  Even the door was plastered over so that was the door that was there in the early…in the late 1700s, early 1800s when this place was built.  I don’t know exactly when it was built, but somebody was here living, and had been living, in 1806.  So, I figure it was about 1800.  I should find out.


CB:  Why did you decide…what made it a good idea to move this far away from town, from Kennett Square?


AS:  Oh, because we weren’t very far from school.  And we found it.  And it was cheap.  And we could pay some of it and borrowed some money from my family at 4% and we didn’t have a hard time doing that. When we put in the heat, they were nice about letting us pay on installment.  My husband had a pretty good reputation for honesty, which was very helpful because they let us pay in installments on things that we had instead of paying in installments as they worked.


CB:  I saw in my map that there is a place called Struble Lake.  Is that related to his family?


AS:  Yes.  My husband was a teacher, but he moved to the Brandywine Valley Association early on.  Either soon after we moved out here or even before.  I think soon after we moved out here.  His office would be in West Chester, and he was great on conservation, and these lakes and things and the Struble Trail are all things he dreamed of and finally got put into place.  So, he had a lot of plans.  It pleased him very much to do these lectures to work on plans for lakes and parks and things like that.


CB:  Was his family from this area?


AS:  No, from Greensburg area.


CB:  In Pennsylvania?


AS:  Yes. They came out to see the house, we were so proud of it.  One of his brothers said, “You know what?  I think really you ought to bulldoze it down and start over again.”  It was in terrible disarray.  It was a wooden porch, and there were boards missing, wallpaper in the parlor was hanging in streams.  It was cold.  They came out before we had moved in.  So, I could understand his feelings.  But, we had a lot of fun with that.


CB:  Do you know anything about this house having been a part of the Underground Railroad?


AS:  No.  Apparently it was not.  Now, there were a lot of Richard Barnards.  Richard Barnard owned this house…A Richard Barnard owned this house.  A Richard Barnard, and I think it was this one, went to the Marlborough meeting in which they decided they wouldn’t take a part in this, not, any war when the Civil War started. He was angry so he moved to London Grove, who was active or at least accepted the idea that, yes, we could fight.  Now, I think it was this Richard Barnard, but I don’t think he ever had anything to do with the Underground Railway, but I haven’t researched it enough to be absolutely certain.  But I am pretty sure.  On the other hand, up at the other end of my property, he had 130 acres.  30 on this side and 100 on that side and up at the end of this property between me and the Wickershams there is the foundation on an old house.  Not a deep foundation, just a shallow foundation.  Whether that was used or not, I don’t know.  I haven’t had, in all these years, time to go up there and clear it out to see how deep…how definite…the foundations were, but the square is pretty obvious.  Well, I mean to do that sometime.


CB:  Now are you on then the 30 acres? Or, do you still have property across the road?


AS:  I don’t have any property across the road and in the…in the heir…I have shifted 20 acres to my children.  So I have… and we gave one to my son…one plot of 1-½ acres for a house and then things didn’t work out so they sold it, and so I don’t have that.  So, the remaining acreage was 22 acres and a half.  And they have 10 and I have 12, or a little bit more.  Half an acre when you have 12 doesn’t make so much difference.


CB:  No.


AS:  Now what else?


CB:  So you raised all of your children in this house?


AS:  Yes.  And they had a wonderful time.  We had an old shed out here that had a one room where they evidently smoked meat, but the rest of it was pretty rickety.  And the two little boys, they were then 5 ½ and 7 or…they were five and six when we moved anywhere near school.   They would go out, and they called it T-bombs, and it was their fun to tear it down.   They had a wonderful time!  It was their play place and other boys would come and play…when Bob went to school then…around here…and kids would walk quite a distance to come and play.


CB:  I was just going to ask you were they just sort of each other’s friends, but kids did come.


AS:  Yes.  They came quite a distance from a house on Red Lion…no, this is the Northbrook Road.  They would come from there, and I don’t know where else or maybe they stopped off from the bus.  And when…and by that time that I had a car…I didn’t have a car…a second car until they were…I began taking the second boy to kindergarten which was…because there wasn’t…so that was…well, sometime after we’d gotten here.  My idea of dates is pretty vague.  So we…they would have the best time and I remember my mother-in-law was here for a while and she looked out the window one day and she said, “You know, they could step on a rusty nail out there.”  I thought, “Oh dear, what a way to look at it!”  Now that I am over 70 I understand perfectly what she meant.


CB:  Looking for the hazards.


AS:  You certainly do think of all the hazardous things that could happen.  It is disgusting.


CB:  Well, fortunately you don’t decide to sit on a chair and just wait.


AS:  No.


CB:  Because you could fall off the chair too, so I think…


AS:  Yes, you could. I…


CB:  Keep going.


AS:  Yes.  You could easily.


CB:  Actually I think when you think of little children playing, someone must be watching out for them because they do many hazardous things and don’t get hurt at all.


AS:  Oh yes.  Her own children…one of Bob’s brothers was holding a block of wood for his older brother to chop it in half.  He doesn’t have two fingers.


CB:  Oh, my goodness.  That would be hazardous.


AS:  So, but those things happen.  But, they didn’t step on any nails.


CB:  Looks like a perfect place for boys.


AS:  Yes, they enjoyed it.  And later on when they grew older we had a baseball field and a wire cage and they played baseball.  And we had…then the pond would freeze.  It hasn’t frozen for a long time. It would freeze and they would play ice hockey.  We never much played basketball.   But they played soccer and baseball and ice hockey.


CB:  Did your daughter join in the boy games?  Was she just one of the boys or was she very much a girl?


AS:  She felt pretty much abused by her brothers when she was younger.  They have a good time together now.


CB:  Was she the baby? Or one of your sons…the younger son…the baby?


AS:  No.  The three boys.  Two were rather close together.  Tom was four years or so later and Peg was four years later still.  Sort of like that.


CB:  She’s the baby?


AS:  She really was the baby.  But she…and she had...the girls got together.  By the time she was in school

¾old enough to want to have companionship¾there were several families who had built nearby.  The girls would come over or she would go over there.  By that time, they could go home on the bus together, and I could go and get her because I had a car.


CB:  Then you had your car.


AS:  But early on I did think before I had a car if the two boys had broken an arm or even worse a leg I would have to take them in my wagon and go all the way up to Ryans' up the hill and down the hill again almost to get to a telephone.


CB:  What kind of wagon did you have?  With a horse?


AS:  A regular kind of wagon kids have.


CB:  A little wagon?


AS:  That was all.  I didn’t have a horse ride.  Although it might have been a good idea.  Now, let’s see, what else?


CB:  When you came to live here, did you have a stove?  How did you cook when you came and the house was not in such good shape?


AS:  How did we cook when we first moved in?  When we first…by then the electricity was put in.  The electricity was in before we moved in.  We bought it without.  But we had electricity and we had a gas stove.  We didn’t move in without at least that much.  But the heat had not been put in.  It got in shortly before Thanksgiving.  And, of course, the water had been drilled.  There was a well, but it was not sufficient.  It must…it may have been sufficient for the small family that lived here early on, but it certainly wasn’t sufficient for modern days.  Every once and a while I take a…there is still a hole where I can take a measure of how much water is in that well.  But there is never enough to be of any use.  And anyway, I couldn’t get it because we had taken all of that out.  But, there used to be a pump there, and it was there when we came.


CB:  Outside or inside?


AS:  It is inside the house now.  But it had been outside when it was first put in.   But they left the pump in when they built the rest of the house.  I don’t understand people at all.  But that’s the way they did it.  This was a…at one time…a place where people from Philadelphia came out to cool off, and you could always see that Philadelphia is much warmer than here.   Since I don’t have air conditioning I keep reminding myself of that when it gets just a little bit hot.  They then had a cistern in the was about 1909...they had a cistern in the attic and would pump…I forget the name of the system…but it pumped water up there to the attic.  Then they had running water.  There was a toilet with a pull chain.  There was a copper tub with brown molding around it.  It was a very big bathroom.  We made two bathrooms out of that one big bathroom.  As little as the kitchen was it was interesting how big the bathroom was.   Eventually, the pipe from the toilet to the outlet broke, and the well was fouled because of that.  So they couldn’t use the well anymore.  Then the old ladies…two old ladies lived here by themselves…in the condition that the house was when we got there.  They used to get their water from across the water.  It was nice water over there.  So they had fresh water.  When the other members of the family were worried about the condition of these two old ladies who were living here, they persuaded them to go into homes.  Interestingly enough, one old lady died that winter from flu.  She didn’t have those germs here.  She was safer here than she was…In fact, when there was a flu epidemic around here my family wanted me to go into Philadelphia and the doctor said, “They are much better off out here.”  So we stayed.  It was a “ram” that brought the water up.  How a “ram” works I do not know.  The “ram” brought the water from a spring that is down the road up to the cistern and that is how the water was (inaudible)…


CB:  How do you spell that word?


AS:  R-a-m, I suppose.   That is the way it sounds.  Now let’s see, what else?


CB:  A pretty sophisticated operation.


AS:  Quite.


CB:  So was (inaudible) a resort kind of…Not that you did a lot of things, but just to come out and get in cool air.  Did those older ladies run it as a place…


AS:  Yes.  Around this place and taken up…and the road has taken it up so that it isn’t there anymore…around this place was a picket fence and beyond the picket fence was a cement walk that went…it must have been a tiny road…because the picket fence was where my fence is now.  Beyond that was a fairly substantial walk.  Cemented.   Flat cement.  Imagine out here.  The people that came weren’t used to the kind of life that we live out here.   It was way down there and around.  Apparently they walked out there when they walked.  There was a wide porch, nice and cool, and they would sit on the porch and enjoy the breeze.  It is a nice breeze out there.  The porch was lovely but it shaded the house, so we took it down.  Anyway, it was falling down, and originally it wasn’t there anyway.  The first house…I suspect we didn’t have these shutters when the house was first built.  This was a very economical house.  It is wood.  A stone end when they got into some money.  But a very frugal approach to building a house.  It was a substantial house.  It has done well.  They didn’t put in any frills.  I suspect the shutters came on perhaps when they put on the “L.”  I don’t know for sure.


CB:  This is a very sizable room also.  Was this always this big? 


AS:  No.  The partition, we suppose, went right through there, and this was a door.  There were two rooms.  I suspect that the partition went there, although I can’t guarantee, and I don’t know where the door was because this was this big.  Of course, they made some changes when they opened this house for people to come.  I imagine that they sat around here, and they needed a bigger room, so they would take that partition out whatever it was.  Upstairs there is another wooden partition that cut off a tiny room with just one window.  Most of the rooms upstairs have cross ventilation, except for two.  This one little room, we took that partition out and put in somewhere else because it was wood and painted like that.  We didn’t throw away anything that we could find here. We are sorry that some of the things that had been changed were changed.  We wish we could have been here in 1800.


CB:  Wish that they left you how it used to be and then what the change was.


AS:  And why.  I was most interested in why these changes were made.  Though you could almost guess.


CB:  The outside of the house is wooden too, then?


AS:  The outside of the house, except for that end, is wood.  A German, they call it, German siding.  Upstairs in the attic, when they added this end, they raised the roof a little bit and didn’t bother to take down the peak of this part of this up at the attic.  It is still up there.  When some men came and fixed these chimneys, which were falling apart…and that is an awfully dirty job I can tell you…and brick dust doesn’t vacuum up… you have to sort of wash it…


CB:  A little sticky.


AS:  Yes, it is sticky.  They left these boards up in the attic. I thought, “What would be easier? To take them downstairs and dispose of them or put them back?  So, I put them back.  It was a lot easier.  I mean it is hard to find places where you can get rid of wood.  So, I put them back.  Carrying them downstairs and out I could have banged a lot of things doing that.


CB:  Falling down the steps yourself.


AS:  I could have done that too.


CB:  Can you tell us have these pictures been around a long time too?


AS:  These pictures are from my family that my mother who loved antiques bought at different times.  Now the picture over your head was given by the BVA to Bob, I think, when he moved over to be a commissioner.  That was…the name of the…is printed on there and the same artist came over and did this one day with some of his class.  To tell you the name, Mitch.  He was a…I don’t know his first name.


CB:  And is that your house?


AS:  Yes.  It is his point of view of our house.  While he had other students out here painting he made a picture.  It is very nearly accurate. 


CB:  And that would be from which…is that the side door that we came in that we are looking at here?


AS:  No.  This is the stone end and you are looking at the front.  This is the back of the house really.  At that time, we must, I think we did indeed, have a garden there.  I have tried since…by myself…when there were two of us gardens worked out pretty well because my husband was a farmer.  I haven’t had any good success at all.   This year I had one red tomato, it was about this big.  I am waiting for it to get bigger, but I don’t think it is going to.   I try every so often…I planted lettuce and the deer came down and ate it.


CB:  That’s true.


AS:  They don’t bother me too much.  We have a lot of them.  I watched one come down the hill today in the back.  I enjoy them.  I saw that we have a fox.  I saw him out there pouncing on rodents.  They are almost like a cat. They stand there, and all of a sudden they pounce almost exactly like a cat.  I think I have a lot of rodents out there.


CB:  Then you are glad to see the fox.


AS:  Let’s see.  What else?  Do you have any more questions?  What else can I tell you?


CB:  Where did you shop when you first came to live here?  Was there a grocery store in Kennett Square?


AS:  When we first came, yes, you had to go into Kennett.  And, to tell you the truth, I don’t exactly remember where, but I suspect it was an A&P, I am pretty sure of that.  I think it was down on the corner where there is a business office.  You go to Kennett and turn down on State Street and it is sort of opposite the Friend’s home at that corner there.  Entirely different.  It was…there were more businesses and fewer restaurants in Kennett at that time.  The kids used to go to Burton’s Barber Shop.  It was right in Kennett, and it was the place you went to get information.


CB:  So this was really an A&P like a supermarket.  Not…I mean a small supermarket, but not just a little general store.  It was really a large store. 


AS:  Oh no.  It was small.  You got…you had…it offered meat and vegetables.  But…and canned goods. 


CB:  There weren’t frozen goods were there?   


AS:  I don’t remember that we did have those.  No, we didn’t have…then the refrigerator was too small.  The freezing section wasn’t big enough to include…but later on we had a freezer, and then we would get frozen foods which were then offered in the stores, but mostly we froze our own.


CB:  So then when your husband was alive…and most of the time he made a big garden then?


AS:   Yes.  We canned tomatoes and froze corn and asparagus.  Asparagus grows wild around here.


CB:  Does it really?


AS:  It is easy to raise asparagus.  But I don’t know how this dry year is going to make it for next year because in the dry years asparagus gets sort of stringy…to put it like that.  We had raspberries.  Well, he liked to farm.


CB:  And how did you learn to can things?  Did your mother can things?  Since you lived in the city, how did you learn to do those kinds of things?  When he would bring his crops in to save them…when you made green beans, you had lots of green beans.  How did you learn how to can things?


AS:  In the…I have to go by recipes and oftentimes they don’t work out very well.  I had more success with tomatoes than I did with string beans.  Apple sauce works easily and so does tomatoes.   Freezing was more predictable, because you didn’t go down and find an exploded jar down there.  But, let’s see, I don’t remember doing more than beans and tomatoes and apple sauce.  Really.


CB:  Do you …in your lifetime there have been dramatic changes in the way things…first there was minimal electricity and it was possibly difficult, certainly here, maybe not in Philadelphia, to get water in and you didn’t just turn switches and all of these things worked for you.


AS:  It was hard to get electricity, but you didn’t always have it when you thought you did. 


CB:  Oh.


AS:  I still have…and I used them the other day when there…about the time I got it lit, why the electricity came back on.  But it would go out for long periods of time and we were used to turning on the kero…putting on the kerosene lights.  Now, you practice and now my computer is knocked out because of a little storm that was hardly noticeable at the beginning of the week.  Of last week.  Just a tiny storm knocked the TV out, sort-of.  It is acting very peculiar.  But, at least I have my lights. Now, let’s see, what else would there be?


CB:  Well even…when you did wash did you have a washing machine like we have now and you just put the…or did you have to send things to a laundry or did you have out this far…did you have to put things in a bucket and you only did laundry only one day a week?


AS:  No.  I laundered here at home.  I can’t recall the kind of washing machine I had then, but I did not have a dryer.  I think it must have spun dry…I don’t mean spun dry but run the water out of it, and then I would hang it outside like I still do because I like it outside. But when I was younger and living in Philadelphia we had a washing machine.  It was like a copper, a copper...I can’t explain it…it looked like a lima bean if you fattened it out.  It would go like…go back and forth…on either side like balancing back and forth and that was the kind of machine, one of the early machines, that I was aware of.  Before that, I don’t remember we had a machine. But we may have.  I doubt it. That was why so many women who didn’t go out to work and were home all the time had to have help.  Because nowadays you put your laundry in the tub and you go off and either you sit down or you go and do something else and you take it out and put it in the dryer or put it on the line.  It is simple.  It is relaxation. It certainly wasn’t then so you needed this extra help.  I often wondered why my mother had help and I thought “How could…why was it necessary…and then I realized…you couldn’t just vacuum as easily you had to sweep and you had to beat and you had to mop and so forth and so on.  So housekeeping is a lot easier now than it ever was.  Fortunately.


CB:  Everything is.  Even cooking would take so much longer then it does for us.


AS:  So many frozen dishes.   I still can’t find them that I like too much but they do help in an emergency.  Let’s see, what else happened around here.


CB:  I’ll ask you what might be a sensitive question.  How long have you been here by yourself?


AS:  21 years.  I’m rather used to it now.  Now, Saturday I went…and my family, all of them, and their husbands and wives…to a celebration of my sister-in-law’s marriage to…she was a widow, my brother had died…and she was a widow and she married…she’s 80 and she married a man 90.  So, we were invited, our family, to celebrate the marriage, which was sometime ago and to get to know his family.  And for them to get to know us.


CB:  Would you like a glass of water?  Actually, Mary Beth says it is about time for us to wrap anyway.  Thank you very, very much, Alma.


AS:  Well, welcome.