Vol. 2-Interview-Pertrushka


Denis Mercier 7/23/72 Mr. & Mrs. George Petrushka

In 1962, a man was burned in a mine (methane) gas explosion while getting ready to fire a hole. There were burns on his arms, hands, and neck. The man’s life was saved. Since his clothes were on fire, he had to lay quiet so the flames would go to the ceiling. He was in the hospital over two months.

Out-buildings that look like little houses are “[su?er] kitchens”. All of the cooking is done there.

An old cold remedy is dried elderberry seeds or blossoms put in a bag. The bag is shaken. Two teaspoons, maybe one tablespoon of seeds are used to brew tea made from the seeds and sugar. This clears up congestion.

“For anything that ails ya,” put a half teaspoon of baking soda and one teaspoon of cider or wine vinegar in a glass of water. This is for indigestion or headache.

French drain Dig three feet. Fill one and a half feet with gravel. Cover with tan paper or burlap then dirt. This makes an invisible drain.

The bank to the left of Petrushka’s garage yielded up a sword under the white birch toward the alley. Petrushka’s have the sword. It is, after all, near Council Ridge.

[Drawing and description of Petrushka’s sword – steel blade very decayed & rusty, very ornate and cut out, copper or brass]


Denis Mercier 7/23/72 Mr. & Mrs. George Petrushka

They can remember only three homes on Shanty Street.

The old school house was used by the Eckley Game Club. Pigeons were stored there for “pigeon shoots” on Sunday afternoon. Lots of bets, twenty-five shots, four men, purse pit. Part of the foundation is still there, behind Piker Ferko’s.

The big smokestack, 75 or 80 feet high, by the building was used to jump (parachute) from with beer wagon umbrellas. This was kids around nine years old. One kid named Wisrue Urich broke a leg jumping off the stack. Even though it was surrounded by soft coal dirt, this happened. This jumping caused big clouds of dust. It was a big amusement for kids. The umbrellas were striped and five or six feet in diameter.

Kids used to dress up like ghosts in white sheets, very elaborate. More than one guy involved rigged up coffins on ropes.

The place at #4 used to dump ashes from the boiler house, had very deep and soft ashes. Kids would have contests to see who could jump the farthest into the ashes off the edge of the stripping bank.

The iron chutes on top of the slate banks to take slate down to the bottom wouldd be used as slides by boys. They would slide down on shovels. Some would jump off. A carpet of leaves would break their fall at the bottom.

[Rough sketch of how the kids rode shovels down the iron chutes]


Angela Varesano ??] 133 Mrs. George Petroushka Fetcko born Drifton

live in [Kere?] [Holy Supper?] 10:00 am –

Parents’ way’s were even more beautiful than her use – Daddy wouldl take a clean [illegible] part of [untic ?] around 6 [looping go ?] where the horses were + give ( cows #1 in left margin) the horses a treat for their meal, oats, hay. There he’d go across the barn to the cows give them an extra treat. Then he’d carry the untouched water back to the house. Then he’d give the cats milk,a treat for the dogs, & extra corn for the chickens. Bring pot of water in house. Mother would have a clean basin. He’d pot water into basin. She’d put a silver (same each year) into the pan. mother would take handful of bobalki dough and make a small loaf with garlic & honey in (round, 5″ diameter] middle. When father came from the barn, he’d take + break the bread & family would line up behind him: oldest son & wife youngest girl grandchildren would hand a piece to each.


If there was any left he would put it on table. Then we’d take pan of water. Father told family go and wash your hands. or He & wife would start and he washed hands and put water in face. Would rub hands an dollar – kids couldn’t wait. [Ilsa?] was so [?] have money. Dollar is left in pan.

A Daddy would come from barn and bring handful of hay + cow feed [?] or oats wheat rye )take a handful of grain that was stored in barn, and put it under the table (dining room) on the floor] stayed there until after New Years. [Meant ?] Christmas born in a manger in straw in a barn – this was brought in house as a [ ??] of this. Represented Christ born in a manger in a barn. (LIne 9 to line 11 in bracket with number 1.) When this was done, when you’d sit on table, you wouldn’t get up. All food was set out on table in pots [?????] All set + nobody [???] *


Dad would hand a plate to mother. Bobalkis would be first. When we’d be sitting, we’d all eat from some bowl. When we’d sit, Dad would say a prayer.

God bless this food that we are about to eat God bless this family God keep us in health till we meet for the next year again.

Sometimes he’d say a very touching prayer. A dish of bobalkis would be there. Mother would bless the dish with her hand saying the words.

Then she’d take a spoon and an extra empty dish (10 ” ) plate and take a spoon of bobalkis and put it on this dish. Then all would take what they wanted with this spoon. It would start with Daddy then mother and down to youngest.

Before eating each person would have an oplatki on their plate. You’d break it and dip it in a dish of honey. [words cut off edge folded page] have 4 dishes of honey & sons’s wives & children


Were eaten right after blessing was said. Before this, when said prayer, father would take a little old cup without handle with honey in it and would take thumb and make a cross with the honey on forehead of each one, starting with wife. They leaned over the table, standing. After he did the last, he’d put a cross on his own head. That was so you’d be sweet all year and people would love you all year.

The kids would keep this on till the next [?] Think he’d say the words when he did The father of the family did it.

An oplatki was in center of table. Each dish would be placed on the oplatke and be blessed by mother before being eaten. Then a spoonful of each thing was taken and put into the dish. Represented if somebody was hungry he’d have this for Holy Supper.

Then the table was not taken off table. Mother take a clean tablecloth and cover the



Cook rice till got half done. Add milk & cook & add more till rice was done. Put in a pinch of salt & bit (2 tsp.) sugar. This would thicken. She’d take & put it on a dish. It would get cold.

(She’d have everything on back of coal stove.)

Would make a well in center.

Brown butter (1/2 lb.) & add bit milk & pour it in center of rice.

Serve by taking a tblespn. of rice taking some liquid, too, (browned butter & milk)

Measured rice by 1/2 lb.

She’d take rice pour it on table & pick out chaff & stones. Girls helped. (Some will pour in corn.) She’d wash it 4-5 times (grains) to get out empty (punky) grains. Squish it around a bit. This would wash off the startch [sic].


& dirt. Clean by brushing good ones in a pot off the table with fingers & push bad ones away.

Used maybe half a pound bag of rice–Rice came in brown bags (paper). Would buy by pound.

She’d soak all grains.

She’d put rice in pot & add water–

When make at home, is same, add some milk.

When needs milk again, put in some canned cream (Pet milk) & some margarine, Let it melt & mix it in & simmer.

If it cooks to thicken, puts in [unintelligible word] & make well. Pour in browned butter & milk.


table for the night represented if anyone was hungry, he could come into the house and eat. If anyone came in the door he could sit at the table + eat. There would always be enough.

When you came down on Christmas morning, you’d take one of each + eat, after church.

Had 12 foods – representing apostles. They always made sure there was an even number of foods on table. Mother wanted this.

Oplatki + garlic on plate counted as #1 Garlic had to be on plate – though didn’t have to eat it.

When you had an even # was so family would be together another year – so no one would be missing, the the group is complete.

Garlic – so you be healthy all year – to keep you healthy. They’d want you to eat it, even a little bite.


Kids didn’t want to eat it. Sometimes they’d stick it in honey and take a little bite. Parents would dip it in honey and eat it.

When end of meal, dad would say a prayer – so God protect us to be healthy and happy for the next year and so we all meet at this table and have a supper in this coming year.

Then, mother would fill apron with nuts and throw handfuls out for the kids in the house.

Foods – You had to take at least a tablespoon on your plate and taste a bit.

1 oplatki 2 honey 3 garlic 4 bobalki 5 pea soup 6 bean soup 7 rice 8 sauerkraut & mushroom soup 9 nut roll & poppy seed roll 10 wine 11 piroghis 12 stove rags rolled with dried sweet cabbage

* Dad would start out with wine after made cross on head.


Put wine in a glass, she’d bless it, and mother would take a sip and pass it around. He’d finish it.

Wine came before the oplatki. It was kept in center of table. It was used just before the meal. When the Lord had Last Supper, had wine and bread – oplatke and wine represent that. Whole supper commemorated Last Supper, why called Holy Supper. Nothing eaten that wasn’t blessed by mother. Every year was something – she’d make foods all would enjoy. Cand lit all during meal


Huckleberry Pie

For a 9″ die, use about 4{?} cups berries Put in bowl. Use about 1/2 cup of sugar {????} to coat berries Add to berries & mix around to coat them. Use both hands to toss it. Used to put cornstarch on Used to sprinke cornstarchon bottom of crust. Add berries (can also mix st{?????} in withberries in bowl.) Add more (sprinkle) on top layer of berries,{????} crust. Dot with butter. Trim crust to 1/1{?}” of pies {?}. Moisten edges with cold water. {???} {????} crust. Trim off to edge (1/2″ of pan{?}. Go over edge with a fork. This seals in juice. Trim to (1/2″) and flip over (to {?} and {?} edges. Make own design in center. Slit center right away so


air bubbles escape & ??? don’t ???

Own design for cuts.

[Abstract drawing of dotted lines]


[2 abstract drawings of dotted lines]

Crust: Take about 2 cups flour (Pilsbury ???), sifted, to get smooth hard ???? out. Pinch of salt 2 or 3 pinches sugar (about 1 tsp) Take 2 good tblspns of Crisco If like ????, put more ???? Tblspoon is scopped out heaping.

Work Crisco into flour by rubbing between palsm, gather and rub till it forms crumbs.


Add 1 tablespoon at time of cold water & mix with fork. Add 2-3 tblsp. till get the flour together.

If put too much water so it’s sticky, keep working it add a bit more flour.

Divide in half & make [unintelligible word]

Roll out on a board that has been floured. Sprinkle flour on top before rolling.

Also, can use lattice crust.

Mother used to use lard in their crust. But she had own pigs & had own home–made lard, home-rendered.

Render lard.

Cut up all fat part from pig. Put in a big kettle with a fire underneath, hanging. [Unintelligible] fire was underneath. This was done outside over open fire. Made in a hole in ground. Kept adding wood to keep up fire. Stirred occasionally.

Put pieces of brown lard in a press to squeeze out fat. These pieces were


good to eat, or put in sourkraut.

Took lard & put in lard cans– big 25 lb. cans, or 5 lb. 10 lb. cans. Set in cellar in a dark partitioned place, lower shelf in a storage cabinet. Mother kept all canned goods there.

Cans left open till it got all white & settled–overnight. Kept in pantry & carried down cellar, covered with tops, & put in cellar. This lasted till next butchering.

Butchering– it was cold, Dec., Jan, or Feb. Waited for cold so nothing would spoil till prepared it.

Used summer kitchen away from house, where use to can lard, make brine for soaking hams, cut up lard. In a place had no heat & was cold. stuff sausage.

Used to have a coal stove, but just enough to work in. As soon as [unintelligible] was prepared there was no heat.

([Unintelligible word], on a farm)


For wasp and bumble bee bite take ordinary clay & make a mud out of it. Apply to bitten area. This takes the swelling out and takes the stinger out.

Fetcko For stomach distress use paragaric with a bit of sugar



A lady was talking to her undertaker and you hear her{?} the limbs & bodies of people were washed out in the flood. Well, she was telling him how this lady that was just buried, her body washed right on to her porch.


Angela Varesano[?] 9:30 am – 2:00 pm

Mr. Ferko

Saurkraut brine that soaked apples which were put in with saurkraut were a great physic – an old time laxative.

Mrs. Pelrushk{?}

They say that [??????] syrup is the best thing you can get for stomach trouble or diarahea you mix it with a little water & take it


[This is a form that was filled out by hand. Handwritten parts are shown here in quotation marks]

Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission

Bureau of Museums

P. O. Box 1026

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Date: “7/23/72”

BIOGRAPHICAL RECORD for “George Petrushka”

Home Address: (Street) “133 Main St.”

(City, State): “Eckley” (Zip Code): “18255”

Home Phone: “636-2604”

Occupation: “Laborer/Pump Starter [?] at Eckley mine”

Hobbies, Crafts or Other Skills: “Woodsman/Berry Picker/ Plant [illegible]/ Mechanic/ Hunter”

Business Address: (Street) “Main St. Eckley” (City, State) [left blank] (Zip Code) [left blank]

Business Phone: [left blank]

Previous Occupations: (years) “Contract miner, Electrical motor engineer–mule driver”

Religion: “Roman Catholic”

Place of Birth: (town) “Freeland” (State or Country) “PA–lived here since age 2 or 3”

Year of Birth: “1909”

Other Places of Residence (years) “None”

Father’s Name: “John” Birthplace “Europe”

Father’s Occupation and Special Skills: “Miner (died when Geo. was 5)”

Mother’s Maiden Name: “Mary Gera” Birthplace “Europe”

Mother’s Occupation and Special Skills: “Housewife”

“Parents’ home– #53 Backstreet”


[This page is handwritten]

–5– 7/23/72

M/M Geo. Petrushka #133

–Also in possession of an old-time oil heater–[two illegible words]–automatic “outer” for mine[?]

HOUSE [illegible word]

Outbuilding that look like little houses are “summer kitchens”

–All of cooking done there


–Old cold remedy- dried elderberry seeds/blossoms–in bag–shake bag. 2 teaspoons of seeds-maybe 1 tablespoon of seeds–brew tea made from seeds sugar & all–clears up congestion

–1/2 teaspoon of baking soda & 1 tsp cider vinegar “For anything that ails ya”– in glass of water–for indigestion or headache


In 1962– burned in mine (methane) gas explosion while getting ready to fire a hole. Burns on arms, hands, & neck. Saved a man’s life (his too), man’s clothes were on fire– had to lay quiet so flames would go to ceiling. –Been in hospital for 2 months


[This page is handwritten]

7/23/72 2 pm. Main #133

M/M George Petrushka


–Can remember only 3 names on Shanty St.


–Old schoolhouse used to be used by Eckley Game Club– Pigeons stored there for “Pigeon Shots” on Sun. afternoon lotsa bets–25 shots–4 men– purse put

Part of fndation[sic] is still there–behind Piker Ferko


–Big smokestack by bldg (75′ or 80′ high)–used to jump (parachute) w/ beer wagon umbrella–9 yrs old w/ other kids–one kid broke [2 words written above, illegible] leg jumping off stack–even though all was surrounded by soft coal dust –Big clouds of dust/ was big amusement for kids Umbrella striped, 5′ to 6′ in diameter

–Kids used to dress up like ghosts (using sheets) very elaborate–more than one guys word -Rigged up coffins on ropes

–Place at #4 used to dump ashes from boiler house– very deep & soft–would have contests or bets to see who could jump the furthest into ashes off edge of stripping bank

–Sheet iron chutes on top of slate banks to take slate down to bottom. Boys would slide down chutes on shovels–some would jump off–carpet or leaves used to break fall at bottom

[There is a small drawing of a sitting stick man, facing to the right, knees bent. He is sitting in the blade part of a large shovel. His arms are straight in front of him, holding on about half-way up the handle of the shovel]

Contributions Message

Janis Sheppard, Daryl Bojarcik, Melanie Akren-Dickson, Ann Kline, Ian Scheil and Camille Westmont