Denis Mercier 8/14/72 Eva Sulkosky
These notes are recollections based on a taped interview which didn’t turn out:
Eva has flowers in her yard which bloom on “Mary’s Day” (Assumption Day), August 15. Eva claims that these flowers bloom on Mary’s Day every year.
Eva lights volatile candles in front of one of her many statues of the Blessed Mother. This particular one is on top of the living room TV. She lights them when there are bad storms or other weather peculiarities.
Eva has in a dish on her dining room buffet some thorns of the same type as those used to crown christ with.
Seating arrangements at Evas table may have varied as far as where the children sat, but-Eva’s husband Tony always sat at the head of the table and ate. If someone would sit in his place he would tell them to move. Eva would only sometimes sit at the table herself, often spending dinner time on her feet serving and fetching. When her children were small and times were tough she often ate what her children left on their plates!
According to Eva most of the Eckley children were breast-fed , and those who weren’t were given straight cows’ milk: no sweetenings of any kind were used. Eva said that sitting and breast-feeding or feeding children was one of the only respites a typical miner’s wife got during her busy daily routine.
Eva has very little recollection of any exotic remedies used by her parents other than liberal applications of honey and whiskey.
Eva’s family “never invited anybody over”, but if anyone came “they were welcome.”
Eva wont tell (and doesn’t place much stock in) ghost stories, but she does tell of a night her father hired a horse and buggy to drive her home from a dance in Freeland. At the top of Highland Hill, the horse reared up, pawed at the air, neighed and whinnied, and refused to go forward.They returned the horse to freeland and walked home without incident.
Once when Eva went riding in a car on a tour of area farms, she and some others “picked up” a couple of pumpkins. Eva brought hers home and set it by the shed. Her mother found it and asked where it came from. Her mother was enraged and told her to put it back. Since this was impossible, (she couldn’t get another car ride and the farm was twenty miles away.) Her mother refused to use it and allowed it to rot.
Waln K. Brown 7/27/72 Eva Sulkosky
There were three churches in town, the Church of the Immaculate Conception, which is located where it now stands, was built in 1861: the Presbyterian Church, which was possible called St. James, located up from “Piker” Ferko’s; a Lutheran Church which was located next to the Prebyterian Church. The Irish would go to the Church of the Immaculate Conception. The Slavish, Polish, and Greek people would go on foot to Freeland. These non-Irish wanted to go to Freeland churches rather than mix with the Irish people in church. The Presbyterian Church and the Lutheran Church were both attended, primarily, by the German people since most of the other citizens of Eckley, Irish, Slavish, Polish, Greek, etc., were of the Catholic faith Services were only held on Sundays and holy days. There were people married in these churches. There was Sunday school for the children held after church . There was also a sewing class held at least once a week for the young girls at the Presbyterian Church. This sewing class was sponsored and sometimes attended by Mrs. Coxe. The Catholic priests were selected by the bishops of Scranton. The Church of the Immaculate Conception was owned by St. Anne’s Church in Freeland The priest got his money from the money that the parishioners gave as their offering. He lived in the rectory besides the church.
The uptown kids were not allowed to go down town and vice versa. Kids who went from their end of town to the other end of town would be yelled at or, possibly, beaten up. Downtown was from the Museum Office down towards Surgent’s house. Uptown was from the Hooper’s up to the church. This division was true of the younger children. When a person got to be thirteen or fourteen years of age, about dating age, the division wasn’t so stringent. Boys from downtown could date girls from uptown and vice versa and not worry about being in the right territory. From the Museum Office down to Surgent’s was mostly Protestants and German people with just a few Irish. Uptown from the Museums Office and also the Back Street was comprised mostly of Slavish, Polish, and Greek people. Shanty Street also seemed to be comprised of the non-German/Irish people.
Waln K. Brown 8/14/72 Eva Sulkosky
The parlor in Eva’s house when she was a child was very similar to the parlors of other Eckley people. The floors had no carpeting but were exposed wooden floors. The floors were scrubbed every week to keep them clean and fresh looking. The floors were hand scrubbed with soap and water. In about 1918, Eva’s mother had linoleum flooring put throughout the first floor of the house. The walls had only religious pictures on them, as well as other religious pictures throughout the house. Very few other pictures were hung on the walls and nothing but religious pictures in the parlor. This room was furnished in wood. A solid back rocking chair with no cushion was in here. Two or three solid wooden chairs were also present. Against one wall was a chest-of-drawers-like piece of furniture which resembled a bureau. In this piece of furniture were kept cloth goods, undergarments, towels, and tablecloths. On the top of this piece of furniture were some religious candles and other religious objects. These religious articles were placed on top of a hand-embroidered piece of fabric which was white in color. In the middle of the room there was a round table on which a white table cloth was lain. This table cloth reached to the floor. On top of the table stood a kerosene lamp. This was the only object on the table. It was also the only light in the room. The parlor was always kept clean, but was not the main living room in the house. The kitchen was the room which the family used most. The kitchen also had religious pictures and objects in it. After every supper meal the family would pray at Eva’s house. This seems to have been a standard procedure in Catholic Eckley homes. After the meal the father would lead the family in prayer procedures. The rosary beads were recited, prayers were recited, and the family would also sing a few religious songs. There was no other special religious area in the house. The dining table was the place where the religious proceedings occured for the family as a unit. Girls would get married in Eckley at an early age. A girl of fourteen was considered old enough to be married, and a girl of this age getting married was not uncommon. The average marrying age seems to have been about seventeen years old. Most of the newlyweds would live with either the man’s or woman’s parents This was due to the lack of houses for every married couple in Eckley. It depended upon how many people were in the family as to where the new couple would sleep. Many times the new couple would sleep’n the parlor. Thus the parlor was not used at all as a parlor or living area, but rather it was used as the bedroom for the new couple.
Angela Varesano 8/18/72 Eva Sulkosky
Some mothers feel that they’re (the kids) better off dead because they’re angels. Her mother always said, “When they die when they’re young, they’re angels; when they die when they’re older, who knows what they’ll be.” Eva always used to pray that God would take care of her kids, that they’d do nothing wrong. She always prayed that if any one of the kids had to suffer or get sick, let it be her rather than her children. She said that some people, some mothers (like Mrs. Zosak) were taught; they could stand to look at suffering. She remembers when Mrs. Zosak’s baby was dying that Susie’s husband was crying, but Mrs. Zosak never shed a tear. She was taught like that. Eva said that she could never stand the thought of any child dying, especially one of her children. She always prayed that if any one of her kids were to die, let it be her instead. She said, “I never thought of ‘damned’ (in regards to the prayers of other mothers i mentioned); I just prayed that god would take care of them. In regards to the number of kids, she mentioned she didn’t know of any means used at the time to prevent births. She said that the number of births of children depended sometimes on heredity,”It runs in the family.” Also since the women were always up and around and active, perhaps that had something to do with the number of children. She said that with all the work she had to do, and that women in general had to do, she didn’t have much time to spend with her husband. Her house burned down and they went to live with her mother-in-law. They couldn’t get another house for four years. Mrs. Coxe took care of the old people by contributing some money for their support. Whichever in-law they were living with, they took care of in their old age.If you lived by yourself, whichever in-law the husband, with the wife’s advice, liked would live with them. Before, the daughter-in-law had to take advice from the mother-in-law. Sometimes she’d criticize. She had to take care of the children and only got to sit down when she nursed the kids to about one year. When the baby cried, they picked them up and nursed them. Women wore buttons up the front and undershirts underneath. They wore bras when they weren’t nursing a baby. They usually wore a skirt and a waist blouse, “we used to drink more milk and tea to help the mother have more.” The women used to nurse the babies while sitting on the boardwalks across the ditch. They would put a diaper over the baby and let them nurse. Eva nursed in the house because she had lots of work to do. You even could do it in church by covering the breast with a diaper. She never went to church when she had to nurse and had small children. Eva started taking them to church when
Angela Varesano 8?18/72 Eva Sulkosky
they were about eight. She seldom left her husband home with the children. Some women brought their children to church. She mostly prayed to the Blessed Mother that she’d help her out. She’d say the prayers she knew: then she added a free form prayer of her own.
Bridgie O’Donnell worked in the store, and Nellie taught. After the store was taken down, Bridgie took care of her family. Bridgie was one of the oldest. They had a big family and they were considered better off since the father was a boss. They were regarded as one of the rich ones. You never saw them out on the street going as a bunch. The downtown girls were very much by themselves, Bachmans, Jayne’s daughters, O’Donnells, and Ganairmls daughter who was the teacher. There were no old maids uptown. They either got married or went away. About the downtowners she didn’t know much. The youngest daughter had to take care of the parents. They were left and were not married. Mrs. Washko stayed with her youngest son, John and Mary Washko. Mostly the youngest daughter cared for the parents, but if the youngest son was left unmarried, and the rest were married, then he cared for them. This was the case with Sousa, who used to live in Nichole S’ house; he never married. McGill married only after his mother died, when he was old, And George Barren stayed with his mother after he was married and took care of her. Mr. Denison had a younger sister who stayed after she was married, with her mother and cared for her. Mrs. Ferko was cared for by her youngest son Peter after he was married. They lived in her house. The wife had no choice but to take care of the parent. Even if she resented it, she didn’t show.
On Sunday they’d pray in the morning and/or go to church. They had dinner after church. At night after supper her father knelt by the kitchen table with the whole family and prayed the rosary, five decades. This was every night after supper, alternating mysteries. Then the father would take his big song book and lead all in songs. Mother and father sang hymns in Lithuanian; the kids would join in if they wished. Between dinner and supper the kids were free to play. The father went out visiting. Mother was home and sat and prayed while watching the smaller children.
Angela Varesano 8/8/72 Eva Sulkosky
Bread (without potatoes): Put about two tablespoons of more of butter and some milk. Heat it on the stove slowly till it gets hot. When hot, put cold water, about one cup, to cool off the mixture. “Don’t make too hot or cold. I always test it with my elbow or the back (underside) of my wrist.” Put two cakes of yeast, a half cup of sugar, one or two eggs, and about a fist of salt in. Salt is what gives a bread taste. If you put in too much, it won’t raise, if you put in too little, it won’t have a taste. Stir with hand and add to flour in a pan or pot. Mix with hands and punch bread dough from sides up and inward and down in the center. Stiffen until the bread comes off your hands. If it sticks, add more flour. Watch! Don’t make it too stiff, but don’t make it too thin. If it’s too thin, you can use it for coffee cake and nut rolls, but for bread you need it stiffer. Dough must not be too stiff either. For buns such as sticky buns and cinnamon buns you need thinner dough. Stiff ening takes about a half hour. The longer you stiffen, the the better the bread is, the better the texture. Separate and and form into loaves to fit bread pan. Make it to be less than a half of a full pan. Roll out the dough into a fat roll and push ends down into the middle. Repeat. Put in greased pans (Crisco). Let rise on a surface, in a warm kitchen, that has a heavy cloth or coat on it. Cover with plastic wrap or a towel. Put a blanket on top to keep warm. When it’s risen, the pan is light when you lift it. Don’t bump the pan, or it will fall down. Bake in 325*(degree) oven until it gets browned.
Fried potatoes: Slice potatoes in half or three-fourth inch slices. Put some oil in a frying pan and heat till it’s hot. Put in slices and cover pan with a lid. Brown on both sides. Serve with meat.
Bread (with potatoes): Dissolve yeast in warm water. Add mashed potatoes, about one cup and its water, to flour, a half cup sugar, salt, and the yeast. Add an egg if you want. “In olden times we didn’t put any eggs in. We had different yeast, homemade yeast.” Stiffen and let rise.
Angela Varesano 2 8/8/72 Eva Sulkosky
Pork and cabbage: Get end of pork chops in one-half or one inch slices. Wash good. Put on stove in pot to boil in water to cover. Boil for a while; simmer about one hour. Add sliced onions, salt, pepper, and chopped cabbage. If you wish, put in sauerkraut. Put in cabbage to taste and cook until the cabbage is done. If you want, make zaprashka. Put two heaped tablespoons of butter in a frying pan or saucepan and melt. Take two tablespoons of flour and add. Mix until this is heated. Brown. Put in some juice from the pork and mix slowly. Cook it through. Pour into pork and cabbage mixture.
Currant jelly: (one quart and one pint currants) Wash berries. Eva rinsed them twice. “All the dirt comes up and floats.” Put in a pot. Crush by “[?au?shing”] with hands. Cook over low-medium heat to get the juice out. Cook it through, stirring so it doesn’t scorch. Scum it. Cooking takes about five to six minutes. Strain by use of a cheesecloth bag made with double thickness of cheesecloth. The bag is two inches wider and two inches longer than this table sheet. (8-1/2″ x 14″) Most made are grape, raspberry, apple, and currant jelly. Other jellies are prepared the same way. For apple jelly the apples must be cut up in pieces and covered with water. Strain juice into a bowl by spreading edges of bag over sides and pouring in the mixture. Tie up the top of the bag. Suspend it over the bowl and let the juice drip into the bowl. (Eva tied the bag to the handle of a kitchen cabinet. “That’s the way we always did it.”) Let it drip till it cools.
[Drawing of kitchen cabinet with cheesecloth tied to kitchen cabinet handle supsended over bowl to catch the dripping juice]
Angela Varesano 8/8/72 Eva Sulkosky 3
(Jelly:) Squeeze out the juice when it cools. Sometimes she used to leave it hanging overnight then squeeze it out. Jars used are coffee and jelly jars from stores. Boil water to scald the jars. Prepare jars by washing in soap and water, rinsing, and “scald them out” by pouring hot boiling water in them then dumping it out. Heat juice in a pan on the stove over high heat. The berries made two and a half cups of juice. To this she adds two and a half cups sugar. She adds the same amount of sugar as juice, no matter what kind of juice it is. Adds one-half package (weight, 1 3/4 ounces) of Certo or Sure-Jell to the juice. Stir in to dissolve. Add sugar and stir in after each cupful. Heat till it boils; turn down heat and cook. Scum it. After it boils for about three minutes, the scum accumulates toward the center of the pot on a “rolling boil.” Cook until when a spoonful is put on a plate, it gels. In the old days she didn’t use Certo, but she had to cook it longer, stirring until it gelled on a plate. If you;re going to keep it for a long time, put melted wax or parafin on the top of the jar. Cool it in jars with screw-on lids.
Angela Varesano 8/11/72 Eva Sulkosky
Eva showed a worn scapular of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and said that she wore this whenever she went out into the woods to protect her. The scapular protects her from anything dangerous that might possible happen. She said, specifically, that she was especially afraid of snakes. The scapular protects her from poisonous snakes so she doesn’t accidentally step on one or find one. She wears it pinned to her slip in front, indicating the left side of the slip near the top.
Angela Varesano Photograph record 8/8/72 Eva Sulkosky
5&6 Draining berries for juice.
7 Last Supper in the kitchen. She got it from a neighbor uptown who died. This was in 1969. It was hung in the kitchen because this picture should be where you would eat. Other picture of the Last Supper. She has pictures in the kitchen because she gets satisfaction from seeing them around when she prays in the kitchen.
8 Pictures of Mary she had for along time, two years or so. She bought it; she hates to throw them out, so she finds a place. She keeps the holy calendar over the sink so she can see the dates.
9&10 Holy things on the sewing machine, “It isn’t bad to get rid of them.” (by burning) Also her rosary society calendar on the wall.
10 Statue on the washer, center piece. Brought by daughter. Behind, on window sill, is a Prayer for Peace on a Christmas card from a seminary and a prayer both of which she prays any time during the day. “It’s my way of serving God.”
11 Lourdes. Bought fifty years ago after she married. It always hung there.
12 Center piece kept on the side of the dining room table showing blessed thorns. Eva sits and prays, or kneels and prays, the rosary on one of the chairs.
Angela Varesano 8/8/72 Eva Sulkosky
She remembers her father talking about her father-in-law, who was sick with pneumonia. They had a cow, and her mother-in-law went out and got some “cow’s pee”. They gave it to the sick man, and he got better. “There’s penicillin in that, you know.” She thinks it might have been in the manure too. Garlic is good for a cold. You cut it up; then you boil it in milk and drink it. You boil the garlic till it gets soft then let it set. She never wore garlic strung in cloves like a necklace for colds. She never saw the kids in school wear them. Parsley was cooked up and used to clean out kidneys. They made tea out of it. This she learned to do when she had her own family, not from her mother. For warts or sores they used cow’s cream and those wide “pig leaves”. When you have a sore, a cut or sore that was pussin’, they’d put on thick cow’s cream and bandage it with the leaf. This, she guesses, can also be used for warts. The cream and leaf were supposed to “draw out” the infection.
The mother used to make butter. She used to set the milk in big crocks after the milk was gotten from the cow. These she let stand for a few days; then the cream would go to the top so she could skim it off. From this she made butter. You put about seven cups of cream in the churn. The kids would churn the butter, taking turns churning. Even young did this until they were nine years old and went to pick slate. You could tell if it was done by the feel, when it feels coagulated in lumps and water is light. You’d look in to see if there were any lumps stuck to the handle. Pick the lumps out with a spoon and put it in a plate. The butter milk was loved by the kids; all in the family got some. Sometimes they used to wash it by running water over it. Mostly it was eaten unwashed.
Sour milk was left on the back of the stove in crocks. This would form cheese (cow cheese). Then they would put it in a sugar bag (twenty-five pound bags) and let it drain, hung anywhere/ The water that ran off was drunk by the kids who liked it. It has a “good taste”. The cheese would drain overnight and all day. When it’s removed from the bag, it’s pressed so you can almost slice it.
The fall was cleaning time. When tomatoes were ripened and everything else was good for canning, she used to put up a lot of foods. She put up over a hundred quarts of jelly in lard cans and jars and two hundred quarts of tomatoes when her children were small. To can tomatoes: Wash and scald them by pouring hot, boiling water over them. Peel by pulling the skin off. Cut out the core and can. Tomatoes were used to put in soups.
Waln K. Brown 6/26/72 Eva Sulkosky
A woman’s work day: 6:00 AM Make the husband’s breakfast, pack his lunch tin. (Breakfast was coffee and homemade bread.Lunch was three bologna sandwiches, fruit, and coffee.) 6:30 AM Husband left for work. Began to make bread, sew, or wash clothes. Took care of the children. 3:30 PM Husband arrived from the mines. Prepared dinner. 4:00 PM Dinner served. Afterwards she cleaned up the dishes. The women didn’t eat with the family. They waited until the family was done eating. The reason is that because it was the woman’s job to keep the food on the table; it was much easier to stay up and get the food rather than get up and down to keep the table supplied. Many times there wasn’t much food left over for the woman. The woman would many times do without. “Today the woman’s role is different from the women’s role then. There was no alimony then if a woman left a man. The woman didn’t get nothing. If the man was mad, we had to smooth things over. If he hit us, we had to take it. The man was the head of the house. We did what he said.”
Baking days: Monday was whole wheat bread and cinnamon buns. Wednesday was sometimes rye bread. Friday was white bread. Baked goods with no name: Cow cheese (pressed), sugar, eggs, and unbaked bread. Dinner meals: Monday Homemade soup, usually noodle with homemade noodles. Tuesday Homemade soup, same as Monday’s because two pots were made on Monday. Wednesday Leftover noodles with bacon, tomatoes, onion, and garlic added. Thursday Chicken or some other meat, potatoes, and vegetables. Friday Three corners, halushki (grated potatoes with flour added put in boiling water then in cabbage.) Saturday Baking day for cookies, cakes, pies, and doughnuts. Sandwiches made from cucumbers, tomatoes, and bologna; if no bologna, just garden vegetables. Sunday Meat, usually chicken, potatoes, vegetables, usually carrots.
Waln K. Brown 6/26/72 Eva Sulkosky
Homemade sauerkraut is made by cutting a cabbage in half and shredding the halves into a tub. Pour the shredded cabbage into a barrel. Salt and carraway seed, bay leaves and wholespice pepper are sprinkled in layers into the cabbage. About fifty heads of cabbage, two fistfulls of salt and some carraway seeds are used. It is made in about a fifty gallon barrel. The men would either tamp it down by foot or with a large wooden mallet. Once tamped down, a bag or rag was placed across the top. A wooden lid was placed on top with a large stone laid on it to keep it tight. The sauerkraut was put behind the stove. It would “work” for about a week, and then it was put down in the cellar. The sauerkraut would last until spring. It may get a little mold, but this is picked out and the good sauerkraut is eaten. Every house in Eckley had a barrel of sauerkraut. Whole apples were put in with the sauerkraut. This gave the sauerkraut a “little apple taste.” The apples were also real “tasty.”
There were no yards. The land was a garden. Potatoes, cabbage (mainly these two), some carrots, tomatoes, and pole beans. The whole family worked on the garden. They got enough potatoes to last the winter as well as enough cabbage to last until christmas time. A lot of the cabbage was made into sauerkraut.
Waln K. Brown 7/4/72 Eva Sulkosky
Kitchen curtains were made of hundred pound feed bags. Flour bags, white colored, were made into petticoats, aprons, dresses, and shirts for men which were referred to as jackets. They were bleached white and sewn into the proper fit. Petticoats had a border of lace crocheted into them along the bottom. The kitchen curtains made of feed bags already had a colored design on them, and therefore all that needed to be done was to wash them and sew them up to the specific dimensions. Many times when feed bags were needed to make curtains or other fabric goods, the woman would go to the feed mill and purchase the bags from there. The cost was twenty-five cents for a bag at the beginning. They later rose to thirty cents for a bag. Eva believes it may be possible that the bags had a design on them so as to make them more attractive for sale. The feed was used and the bags could then be used for cloth goods. This gave the feed a more economically attractive flavor. Sears soda flour was the favorite flour sack used for making cloth goods. The sacks had a picture of a little girl bending over with her “bottom” sticking out. This was bleached out and the material was whitened.
Waln K. Brown 8/8/72 Eva Sulkosky
There used to be a great many huckleberry patches around Eckley. This was before the state watched the land so much. The people of Eckley would set fire to the woods, and this would burn off all the extra foliage which crowds out and kills the huckleberry plants. Today when “they” see a fire, a plane is sent out and the fire put out. So there is no chance for the underbrush to be burned away. When Eva was a child, 1910-1915, the children would be sent to the woods to pick huckleberries six days a week. The children were sent once or twice a day and would pick about ten to twelve quarts a day. If the child wished, he or she could go and pick berries again, this time for himself. The berries were sold to a man who came to town to buy berries. The price of the berries fli=uctuated from 3¢ to 10¢ a quart, depending upon the scarcity or demand for them. The children could sell the berries they picked on their own time and thus have money for candy, soda, ice cream, etc. The mother would also go out for huckleberries if she didn’t have babies to care for, so that extra money could be made. During strikes and other suspensions of work, the men would also go out for huckleberries because they could make a little money to help tide the family over until work once again began. A certain portion of the huckleberries were kept and made into pies, jams, and muffins. Huckleberries were a very important part of Eckley because the huckleberries were used as a part of the family diet, as well as helping to augment income. During strikes the picking and selling of huckleberries is what helped to keep food on the Eckley miner’s table. Because he was able to pick the berries, he could make a little money to subsist on until work began again in the mines.
Waln K. Brown 7/26/72 Mr. & Mrs. George Barron and Eva Sulkosky
The company store was first built when the town was first built. It was torn down about 1935. The company store was first closed down and then closed down because there was little business to sustain it. People could go into Freeland and buy groceries cheaper at the food stores. The store was larger than the homes. The front of the store faced the side, not the street. It was located between Fatula’s house and the road to the washery. There was no porch, just a few steps which went up to a small entrance like a vestibule. This had a door which admitted customers. The store sold clothing, shoes, hunting and fishing equipment if you ordered it, bullets, meats, groceries, thread and needles, material, feed, tablets, slates and pencils, composition books for children, candy, cigars, cigarettes, soda, stove pipes, tools, and just about everything. Before you could buy there, you had to sign up to give them permission to take off your pay. You could buy all you wanted off the books as long as you worked in the eckley mines. The store had a book which had everyone’s name and house number in it, so many pages per person. As you bought, your supplies were noted in the book. You were also given a slip with the price of the items. A total of the purchases was made every two weeks, the sale as when the miner got paid. When a miner got his pay, the store purchases were deducted from the check, which was called a snake. It showed that you were to receive no money. As long as a man was able to work, he was allowed to buy off the books. If a man got too sick to work Mrs. Coxe would pay the store bills for the unfortunate family. The young boys would many times loaf around the company store, both inside and out. When the crowd grew too large inside, they were chased outside. The boys would just be talking and eating penny lollipops. Girls did not loaf around the store. They were forbidden to loaf with the boys. The men did not loaf around the store, nor did the women, just the boys. There was a “brass check” which everyone used in the eckley store. This was an oval-shaped tag made of brass, which had two numbers on it. These coincided with the number given to the miner in the “books.” The person had to show the brass check to buy off the books. Sometimes if the clerks knew who you were, they would not make you show the brass check. They would just ask you the number, and you had to know it.
Waln K. Brown 8/14/72 Eva Sulkosky
Even if a family did not have a newly married couple in the household, the parlor was often used as a bedroom. This is due to the fact that most of the families were large, having a large number of children; thus since the economy of the living space demanded, all possible sleeping areas were made functional. The new couple would pay a certain amount for the rent and food. The girl would work around the home helping the mother with various chores while the husband worked in the mines. In Eva’s case when she married, she lived with her parents for a year. She lived with her parents until she and her husband got their own home. To get a home the new couple would put their name in to the company records to apply for a house. The name would come up on the list. Some couples would wait as long as six years until their name would come up on the list as next in line for a house rental. Eva and her husband never paid rent or food money to her parents when she and her husband lived with them. Rather, the room and board was absorbed by her family. This was done so that the new couple could get some money saved for when they set up their new household. Eva says that this was not an uncommon procedure for parents. The only major cost that Eva and her husband had was that if meat was bought for Eva’s husband so that he would have meat for his lunches when he worked in the mines. In times of strike or when or when the men did not work in the mines for various reasons, for extended periods of time, several means were used to help supplement the families’ income. The whole family would go out and pick huckleberries, which were then sold for cash. Also, men would hire them selves out to farm in the Long Pond area. The men would go to these farms and work various jobs on the farms. They would be gone from Eckley all week long, returning only on Sundays. The men would be paid a small wage, and in turn, the men would spend this money to buy food from the same farmer. This was then brought home so the family would have food on the table. While the men worked on these farms, they would sleep in the farmers barn. A very large segment of Eckleys male population would go to work on these farms. These times were very tough on the Eckley mining families. A family would do a great many things to save on as many things as possible in order to make ends meet. During these periods of non-work, many people would continue to buy off the books. Other families would endeavor not to buy off the company store books. The company store would charge a slightly higher price than the traveling store did, yet there was an advantage to buying off the company store books. The families who dealt a great deal with the company store were extended credit during these times, while those who dealt with other stores did not receive the advantage of such credit. Therefore, during times of great difficulty the people who bought regularly from the company store had the credit to fall back on; the others could not get this credit as readily. Mrs. Coxe was more ready to help families, in times of need, who dealt with the company store. When a man received his paycheck for his work, the company store bill was subtracted from the paycheck. Also the rent was deducted from the paycheck. This rent was subtracted from the first paycheck of the month. The paychecks were given to the men every two weeks. Many times the paycheck would have a snake (zig-zag line) across it. This snake signified that the paycheck was taken by the company store to pay off the debt of the family which was accrued by buying off the books. This procedure would continue as long as it took for the family to pay off the company debts. This may have taken a great deal of time in some cases, depending on how long the man of the house had been out of work and on how many days of work the man had gotten in on the paycheck time.
Waln K. Brown 8/14/72 Eva Sulkosky 3
The families who dealt a great deal with the company store were extended credit during such times, while those who dealt with other stores did not receive the advantage of such credit. Therefore, during times of great difficulty the people who bought regularly from the company store had the credit to fall back on; the others could not get this credit as readily. Mrs. Coxe was more ready to help families, in times of need, who dealt with the company store. When a man received his paycheck for his work, the company store bill was subtracted from the paycheck. Also the rent was deducted from the paycheck. This rent was subtracted from the first paycheck of the month. The paychecks were given to the men every two weeks. Many times the paycheck would have a snake (zig-zag line) across it. This snake signified that the paycheck was taken by the company store to pay off the debt of the family which was accrued by buying off the books. This procedure would continue as long as it took for the family to pay off the company debts. This may have taken a great deal of time in some cases, depending on how long the man of the house had been out of work and on how many days of work the man had gotten in on the paycheck time.
Eva Sulkosky 7/13/73 Sandra Downie
Wash and drain vegetables: 6 quarts total amount celery small cucumbers cauliflower small white onions green pepper or sweet red pepper (mango’s) or pimento
Cut into small pieces (Note: leave the cauliflower in larger pieces because it shrinks)
Put the vegetables in a large pot or crock and salt them with 1 or 2 fistfuls of salt. Put ice cubes in with the vegetables and shake the pan. When the ice cubes have melted drain off the water. Taste for salt. Rinse with water if it is too salty.
In another large pot lput 5 cups cider vinigar and 5 cups sugar. Bring to a boil. Add 2 Tabelspoons mustard seed and 2 teaspoons celery seed. Add vegetables. Bring to a boil. Add 1-1/2 teaspoons tumeric. Bring to a boil. Put in jars and cover.
This will keep in the refrigerator after it has been opened as it does not contain water.
This receipe does not have a name. Eva began making it in the 1920’s when her children were small. She had begun making bread and butter pickles and had extra vegetables around and decided to put them in with the pickles. She had been making it ever since. This receipe is made in September when the onions are available.
Waln K. Brown 8/14/72 Eva Sulkosky
In the 1920 era there were small board bridges which traversed the ditched\s along the side of the road. Each house had one of these small bridges which connected their property to the road. This was a favorite spot for women to meet. Several women may sit on one of these bridges and chat, nurse their children, or do mending during the warmer weathered months. Also the women may sit on their own respective bridges and chat back and forth.
The oldest child in the family had the most responsibility. It was the child’s responsibility to help around the house. This usually meant that the younger children were to be watched over by the older children or the oldest child in the family. The oldest girl in the family had a great deal of responsibility in that she was to assist the mother in much of the housework such as cooking, cleaning, and care for the children. About age fourteen or fifteen, any of the boys would go to the mines to work. The money they made would help the family make ends meet.
In large families the attic, if present in the home, was used as a sleeping area. Beds were placed in the attic, and several children would sleep there. In the summer time the attic was very hot. In the winter it was extremely cold. Many times the children would awaken to find that it had snowed and that some of the snow had come through open spaces in the roof and landed on the floor or even their blankets. In the very cold winter time, the children would run upstairs and dive into their beds because the attic was so cold.
Angela Varesano 8/16/72 Eva Sulkosky
“As a girl when our mother told us to do something we couldn’t say no. We had to obey.” Eva was the oldest. Duties included dusting, watching mother at tasks so that she could do them eventually, and milk the cows since she was eleven or twelve years old. Her mother made her stand by as she was making bread. Eva stiffened it at about thirteen. At fourteen she got her diploma from school and graduated from eighth grade. Harp O’Donnell wanted her to continue school since she was bright. She wanted to work in Hazleton, which had good job opportunities. Freeland overall factories didn’t take such young girls until the first war. She got a job in a shirt factory. When she was fifteen she got a job in Freeland, then she went to Hazleton (1915-18) to work; then came to work in freeland. She married at seventeen. A lot of girls married at fifteen. Seventeen was the usual age. If they got older, they used to be called old maids. Eva met her husband by her friendship with his sister and other girls. The boys and girls in her group used to play together. Francis Sulkosky Zahay, Lizzie Washko, Annie Shiner Barna, Frank Zahay, Clifford Falatko, Sophie Mahalcheck, Andrew Krannack, George Petro (Mary Petro Sulkosky’s brother.) The group used to go out together, and the boys used to pair off with their girls. They used to walk during moonlit nights when the boys were working, they used to take the girls to (the movie) a show in Freeland and pay for the girls. They all used to walk home together. Sometimes they used to go to the dance. These were held in Krell’s Hall. Greshco Hall was the place before this. They never knew about engagements. Some of the boys bought the girls a ring, though. Her husband got her a watch after Christmas, on New Years. A year after, he asked her to marry before Christmas. She refused, saying she was too young, sixteen. After Christmas on New Year’s, he asked again; she agreed (she had her seventeenth birthday on Christmas Eve.) The groom had to pay for the brides clothes as well as his own for the wedding. The mothers-in-law would help only after the couple was married. They wouldn’t help out too much. Her husband had to come in with her because the houses were so filled up that they couldn’t get a house in Eckley in 1918. The year after, they got a house, a small one on back street in which a lady recently died. Downstairs in the parlor was their room. The rest of the family slept upstairs. While she was pregnant, she prayed “in our way,” with a Lithuanian prayer so God and the Blessed Mother would give them health and take care of them. Then she’d say the our father, Hail Mary, Glory Be, and Ten Commandments for them. She prayed that God would take care of her kids so they wouldn’t do anything wrong, so they would be healthy.
Angela Varesano 8/8/72 Eva Sulkosky
She used to fry onion till it was golden, with a bit of garlin, pour tomatoes in and cook until it comes to a boil. They used to eat this with mashed potatoes. Sometimes she made gravy from them. Put some butter (they used to use lard or oil) in a pan, brown oniions to golden, cur and sliced with garlin. Add flour before onions are completely brown, and brown the flour mixture. Put in tomatoes and cook till it gets a bit thickened. Serve with mashed potatoes.
She used to have terrible headaches when she was young and unmarried (1930’s). She used Bromo-seltzer for it, but it would return. One day her brother came in and decided to bring her to a doctor. It turned out she had a sinus headache. A girl friend told her of a doctor of some kind living in a tent. She said his medicine did her a lot of good. The doctor knew her problem as soon as she came in. He gave her medicine to take costing five or six dollars. She had only three with her. He made half the medicine for her. If it helps, “come back for the other half,” he said. “If it doesn’t, come back and i’ll give you your money back.” The medicine enabled her , she thinks, to help with house chores and work till 2:00 AM. Her family saw this and said, “don’t take it. It’s dope.” She said it was doing her good; so she didn’t care. She went back for the other half. It cured her headache. The “doctor” said he gave her something to strengthen her up because she got the headaches from being run down and working too much.
There were all kinds of stories and customs for when the wives were pregnant, but she never had time to do them. She didn’t believe them. You’re not supposed to look at a dead person. The people said you shouldn’t go to a funeral because the baby wouldn’t be right. Don’t look at an ugly animal or thing, even a snake, or the child wouldn’t be right. If you get scared of something, maybe you’d affect the baby the people used to say. She believes in this because she thinks that, if you get scared so much you’re dumbstruck, it could harm the unborn baby.
She met her husband, who was living next to her, by going out and playing with his two sisters. Then she went to school with him. She used to visit their house and didn’t pay attention to him till she was working at age fourteen. She used to go for walks with him, from the beginning, with a bunch of kids. These walks were to Freeland, Buck Mountain, and Sandy hill. They used to take their lunches with them on Sunday afternoons, walk to the third spring, and eat lunch. They
Angela Varesano 8/8/72 Eva Sulkosky
They used to go up and dance in the empty box cars on the lokis tracks that ran up by Gafney’s. Some boys of the group used to play the violin, horn, and accordion so the kids could dance. This was also on Sunday afternoon. Dances were polkas, Slovak dances, and broom dances. For the broom dance make a ring of people. The one without a partner dances around with the broom in the middle of the ring. He has an eye on someone. When they first started, everyone ran for partners. They had to have an odd number of players. If a ll have a partner, one of the musicians is taken out. While the one in the middle is dancing around looking at the people, the ones in the ring are also dancing around. They are holding hands and moving to the right and/or the left. The person in the middle throws the broom randomly, by casting it down. Then all dash for partners so they can dance two-by-two. Whoever is left when partners are chosen has to take the broom and dance with the broom. A ring is formed again, and the dance continues. Before this the person with the broom dances in the middle as couples dance around him, two-by-two. To play Nipsy take a piece of thick wood and chip it off on the edges to make them pointed. The piece must be rounded. You also need a paddle. “We used to chip the edge of a thin board and used this for a paddle.”
[Diagram of Paddle and nipsy]
You don’t need a circle. Place the nipsy on the ground. The nipsy would jump up and then you’d bat it. The one who got the most number of paces from where you hit it to where it landed would win. She used to play with a “whole gang” of kids, boys and girls.
Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission Bureau of Museums P.O. Box 1026 Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
BIOGRAPHICAL RECORD for Eva Constance Sulkosky
Home Address: (Street) #113 Main St. (City, State) Eckley, PA. (Zip Code)
Home Phone: 636-3717
Hobbies, Crafts or Other Skills: Does a lot of gardening (Flowers Vegetables).
Business Address: (Street)
(City, State) (Zip Code)
Previous Occupations: (years) Worked at Freeland Overall (1914-1918)
Religion: Roman Catholic
Place of Birth: (town) Freeland (State or Country) PA.
Year of Birth: 1901
Other Places of Residence (years) None [????? handwritten words and dates blurry unable to read]
Father’s Name: Adam Zarosky Birthplace Lithaunia
Father’s Occupation and Special Skills: Miner in Eckley Mines
Mother’s Maiden Name Constance Degutis Birthplace Lithuania
Mother’s Occupation and Special Skills: Housewife (9 children)
Came to Eckley at age (7) Husband – Anthony Sulkosky – worked in Eckley BM 12/70 500 Mines – Died 1961 of Miner’s Asthma. He was born in Freeland. Married Eva [?N??C???.]
Parents immigrated to America around 1895, they got married in America – did not know each other in Eckley.
Eva & Anthony Sulkosky lived in house #78, then moved to a house on the ‘Back Street’ then to #113.
Eva Sulkusky 8/27/74
at first. (when she was a child) used red cloth to make feather ticks and pillows. She thinks they got this from Poland. later they got blue striped with flowers and also used a plain blue striped material. This is a dense material but much lighter than what we get today.
The flour bag and [???] bag had advertziments on them until WW II then they were printed like a cheap material with designs. Flour bag (100 lb) were used for slips, underwear, aprons, pillows shirts, curtains quilts.
Women (Eva. Mrs. Brown etc.) do a lot of quilting. At one time they did a lot of patchwork 1920’s but this takes to much time now. They use a stand with clamps and long boards. They put it up in the front room and have a quilting party. This was [????] [?????] in the winter.
Women did a lot of crochet work. Eva [????] when she small [?????] 1900’s. All she made when her children were groinw up were hats. made up of 4 squares and sewn together
[Drawing of 4 squares with 3 of the squares on the bottom and 1 square on top of second square; double arrows from corner of square 1 to the square on the top of square #2 and another double arrow from corner of square 3 to square on top of square #2.]
AV & DM inter. M/M Sulk -27- 8/11/72 Tape 25-2
DM: Wasn’t it because the Indians held their council, tribal
JS: Down in here where they had their council, you know this place all these homes there was another street there and homes down below and some back on that side of the breakers and all up in thru here there was another street that came from down below up this way and there was a lot of people here at that time, we had more population than Freeland had, one time here in Eckley
DM: There was over a thousand people wasn’t there
JS: Yeh there were there was a lot of people, my god there was some families had 20 boarders, 21 boarders had would you like to cook for 21 boarders and then your own yet, and how the hell did they sleep all of ’em
MS: Our neighbors they had 20 boarders
DM: On the Back Street in those little houses
MS: But where those boarders were they had a shack made back of the summer kitchen and they had that shack built that they had it laid out and they had a mattress out of straw and all the men slept on that mattress made, but the lady kept all the boarders
DM: That would be a lousy way to tho, I wouldn’t like that at all, sleeping on a bed of straw, all those dirty old guys
JS: You would at [????] this town out if nobody would come near it for 2 years
DM: I know you and your wife wouldn’t starve, I know that
JS: Hones to god you wouldn’t starve them out, they had so many fowl, different kinds and cows some maybe 2 or 3 cows and hogs and so much stuff and all the gardens they were from fence to fence with vegetables and stuff enough cabbage, enough this, the people make saur kraut, and get big barrels and I was the tamper mostly for tampin’ saur kraut, they say when you tamp it the saur kraut stays nice and crispy, solid, and somebody tamps it, it get mushy,
DM: What’s the trick
JS: I don’t know what’s the difference but that’s a fact, a lots of people would
AV & DM inter. M/M Sulk. -28- 8/11/72 Tape 25-2
tamp, you know get in the barrel and walk over, and saur kraut would get soft and mushy and somebody could go and tamp all the time and nice and crispy and solid
DM: Did a lot of people ask you to tamp for them, because it always turned out crispy for you
DM: Anything for plants he’s good at
JS: Well you know before what the hell I could go out and shoot a couple of rabbits couple of grouse you know
DM: So if there was a strike people wouldn’t starve to death for a couple of years
JS: No what the hell they could get along, potatoes you had enough potatoes planted all the stuff in the yard, you had enough onions, enough potatoes, enough carrots, this town and all of this breakers was made out of the lumbar down thru here and they say that in the winter time there was no snow on the ground, trees were so, and the trees were standin’ there and you can find the boards in these homes, they took some apart, you know they’re that wide, goshhand boards
DM: Oh speaking of that I want to remind you Mr. Sulkusy I broke a board in the boardwalk tonight I stood on it sideways, I just don’t want you to trip over it. I did break one, 200 lbs, I probably heavier than both of you, but I stood on it sideways and it broke
MS: Don’t worry about that
DM: I just didn’t want you to trip over it
JS: How long is that board about 2 ft., how much is a foot, I’m going to have to charge him for breakin’ the board, 2 ft. that’ll be how much I guess it’s pretty dear lumber now
DM: Yes it is like everything else
JS: One time we had free for [blank space] lumber
DM: Do you have any lumber, I can fix it
AV & DM inter M/M Sulk. -29- 8/11/72 Tape 25-2
MS: You’d better ask the fixer because he’s the one
DM: If you want me to get you some wood I will
JS: No, no, I have pieces down there
AV Where did they use to get the lumber before
JS: Up here in the timber yard, up above where the church is you know on that side that whole section was a lumber yard they use to come in in cars with all kind of lumber, timber like trees, some of them were more than 35 ft. lont ones and then different sizes from 6 ft. up, then they use to get slabs, the first out, that use to be for blockin’ the timber in the mines and they had the boards all kinds even planed boards, planed on both sides and they use to be up at the timber yard, well people any time they want they’d go up for boards, and not only the people, the farmers from Sandy Valley would come up load their goddam big wagon loads, build barns from the timber yard
DM: Was the timber already out when it got up here
DM: Because the saw mill, the original saw mill was down at the other end of town, and the timber yard was up here, which didn’t make much sense to me
JS: Another thing is this, they use to take timber and haul from the mountain that would, the Golden Buckets down that way those crooked sonofaguns haul it and then would let it lay and rotted after all they seen they couldn’t use ‘me they’d pull them back in the brush there and they were layin’ there and layin’ there till the rotted
DM: And mushrooms grew around them
JS: I don’t know what they wanted to pull that lumber up here they had quite a few miles, that’s why they use to call that place [??????] there was a wagon road they use to go in, they use to say where are we goin’ for huckleberries and they’d say down at Gee & Hoit, oh but you ought to see the berries that use to be here
AV & DM inter. M/M Sulk. -30- 8/11/72 Tape 25-2
DM: But the brush fires
JS: Not no fires stall now that’s what you need
DM: I know
MS: That’s what he means before there was a lot of huckleberries here because, before you know there use to be lokey’s runnin’ thru and when the lokey’s was runnin well they use to fires around (?) the woods would be burnin’ and that’s where the huckleberries came to this
JS: But how were they goin’ to outen them they had no apparatus to outen them, they didn’t even have no tanks like they have on their back and they’d go and sprinkle it now today an airplane as soon as the fire starts they come with a plane and kills it right off
DM: And there goes the huckleberries again
JS: They should leave some part like that I don’t say they should burn everything off but I’m goin’ to tell you this much I don’t care what they say they can’t tell me no because I’ll tell the smartest man in the country that the brush is no good when it gets too old becuase the game ain’t got what what they feed when it burns out, I don’t say burn everything out, burn one section out one year and then burn another section out and so on you’ll have all the kind of game you want because I could go out and I could shoot 20 rabbits a day, today go ahead out and you’ll see whatcha get, in the gardens you get more rabbits than you’ll get out in the woods, that’s where they’re stayin’ mostly
DM: Yes the ecologists are going to have to learn some new techniques
JS: Take these grouse, my god one time you could go and raise 50 a flock you know and go out today and if you raise one you’re lucky they’re dyin’ away one or the two if they want some around [blank space] they’re starvin’ once they have the brush burnt out my god almighty in a few years time the woods will be full of rabbits agin and grouse that’s true
DM: That’s great I hope they learn to do that before they ruin it all
AV & DM inter. M/M Sulk. -31- 8/11/72 Tape 25-2
JS: One year we were to see the game warden about the game about they were always stockin’ and always spendin’ money and they’re not doin’ nuthin, they take the goddardn money but they’re not helpin’ to stock we went down to Weatherly an old fellow he was a pretty good guy he realized this thing and we went down there and was talkin’ about it and different things and he said, well what the hecks can we do to get the game back the way it was, well I ses I’ll tell you what to do youse ain’t doin’ anything, bounty on the [?????] and bounty on the weasel, $2 then youse are payin’ $4 on the fox today out it all out I ses now these youngsters get a kick out of that they make a couple of bucks after school and they run out and do it so today they left that go thru, another thing I ses I’ll tell you what, before they use to give the club(s) [???????] use it on the fox like now around the holidays like Thanksgiving comes you know there’s a lot of chickens gettin’ killed, and turkeys well the club would tell them don’t throw the heads away and the insides and stuff let us know and we’ll pick it up well they’d go and put some strycchnine on and put it in the woods and it would kill the fox and that was savin’ their game well I said, you know what, if youse thinks you’re gainin’ anything by not lettin’ the brush burn well you’re not you’re not tellin’ me anything because I hunted a long time already and I seen what’s goin’ on, well where there’s a place burnt out you go and you’re goin’ to get all the goshdarn rabbits and anything out of there and you can hunt in another mountain that isn’t touched and you’ll get nuthin’ I said that’s true. I said not only me but I can getcha a lot of fellows, buddies that I hunted with and they can tell yuh the same thing
AV You’re right, you really know the woods
DM: We’re going to have to go pretty soon
JS: But I had dogs and I don’t care who the hell had dogs I’d match them against any goddam dog in the state
DM: All this and mining too
AV & DM inter. M/M Sulk. -32- 8/11/72 Tape 25-2
JS: Yep I could have matched some of the best hounds in the state, they would hunt all day, every day and the whole season and wouldn’t give up, wet rainy weather, snow, warm hot weather they kept the same pace. I saw guys with the prettiest hounds walkin’ behind them, they’d say whose dog is that and Fiddler he knew some of the guys, he said, that’s my neighbor he said that hound he’s always chasin’ he don’t shoot one and before you know it he’s comin’ with another he said that’s all they’re doin’, they’re shootin’, I said, what’s the matter with that, your dog, oh they had 2 chases and they’re done they’re played out I said that’s no hound, I said there, there’s a hound, he can stay all day and you can see him do the same thing
DM: Brother what a guy
AV I know it, it’s getting kind of late we’d better be going soon
DM: We took her huckleberries one day and she just about didn’t make it up the hill
MS: Did you have her out for huckleberries
DM: Oh yes, you know who took us, take a guess, Bruno Lagonosky you’re right
JS: That was my buddy we worked together, Bruno, he’s a hustler, that fellow he’s a good worker too
DM: He’s 75 and he can still climb up the hills and the woods, run thru the forest and leave 3 young kids behind, he did
JS: Yeh and I was buried in the mines for 6 hours, took 35 men to dig me out
DM: That’s what your wife said
DM: Under coal or slate or what
JS: Under coal and rock, there was a rock like this house on top of the coal that come down and I was under it now how the hell was I under it there, that it didn’t bust me to nuthin’
DM: The other coal held it up off of you I guess, you were very lucky
JS: When they started gettin’ me out they started throwin’ the coal off you know
AV & DM inter. M/M Sulk. -33- 8/11/72 Tape 25-2
and then they’d run away because they were nibblin’ and they didn’t know what was goin’ to happen, couple times they run away and then afterwards a guy felt my hair, he said here he is his head is here, watch with the picks that you don’t pick ‘im, so then they started cleanin’ that off and they brought my head out free and they started clean this coal, the way they done it, they cut a stump of a tree, timber and put it on one side and one on the other, 2 boards and put it on top and cleaned some more and more stumps like that till they got all the way down about this far they thought they had me and they tried to pull me out and my leg was wrapped around the rail in around the rail and they couldn’t pull it out, so they were intended to cut my leg off already because that was nibblin’ and they thought more was goin’ to come and ketch them too so they finally got me out
DM: Were you hurt badly
JS: Yeh my ribs broken up and
MS: Yeh and a gash in his hand and his ear cut off the ear was hangin’
JS: Oh I was crippled a couple of times this hand is wired up for me
MS: That didn’t happen
JS: Oh no not then, that was before
MS: He had a compound fracture of his arm
JS: Yeh see that, the doctors wanted to cut if off in the hospital
AV How did that happen
JS: In the mines, when somethin’s to happen you’re goin’ to be there if it’s your time, you’re goin’ to be there, this was the place, see the main boss Henry Jane he went to Europe on a trip that was the big boss and his assistant that was here, of course you can’t blame them, it was nobody’s fault it was just supposed to happen that way, so we finished our place and I worked with my father then so well he said, I don’t know where the hecks I could start youse, he didn’t tell me what to move next but he said there’s places down here in the dip
AV & DM inter. M/M Sulk. – 34 – 8/11/72 Tape 25-2
old places there’s coal in them, loose coal you know, it was down left in the and it was still there, didn’t work them places for 35 years nobody worked there so he said you know what, we’ll put a chute in and youse can load that coal out of that breast in there so he said we’ll keep on till he comes back, so that’s what we done, we put the chute in and started shovelin’ and we were workin’ a couple days like that and a goddam piece fell off from the top and hit me here and knocked the bones all out and mashed and splintered them and took the clothes right off my back down there if that would have hit me here or on the head than was done for but it hit me here on this arm and down my back so I got up like this twisted and my daddy looked, i, yoi, yi he said he seen how bad it was that’s hangin’ like a rag so when I went to the hospital they didn’t do much that night but next day they came over and sat on my bed the 2 head doctors, they were 2 good doctors tho, and the sonofagun he was talkin’, talkin’ about different ways and that he said how would you feel if you had to lose your arm, well I said if I have to I have to but I said listen, you know one thing I’m goin’ to tell you I’m a good healer I said I’ll take a chance with anything, I said I think youse are bright enough to fix that up that you don’t have to take it off.
DM: He’s also a psychologist
JS: So they finally went out and then come back later on and they sez alright be ready tomorrow morning for your operation, well I didn’t know what it was goin’ to be, so finally when they took me in the dispensary to operate on my arm, or whatever they were goin’ to do there was a fellow that lived right up above the upper house he lived up in there and he seen what was goin’ on, they took him in instead of me, but then when they seen the doctors comin’ the sez, they hollered out to the nurse, send that man in youse sent the wrong fellow in so they so they left him in on the stretcher, you know he seen what they were doin’ so he said when they stripped it down and the bones and everything
AV & Dm inter. M/M Sulk. – 35 – 8/11/72 Tape 25-2
it was just like a box of matches, he said I made a snoot and they moved me out of there, that’s what they done, they wired that all up and they come to me when I come out of ether and they come to my bed and they said, now you got one chance out of a hundred, they said, no movin’ around with it or anything, hold it in that position
MS: You had your hand wired
JS: Afterwards I don’t know how many days later on, they called doctors from Philadelphia in to show the work they done they took x-rays how it was knittin’ and all and they said they did a good job they were that proud of that job
DM: Well look how your arm works now
JS: Yeh I worked in the mines minin’ after I did it
DM: That’s great
JS: And this leg was broken and pulled out of one of the sockets and they thought the doctor told me, he said we don’t know, the break that will heal up but pull out of the socket how that will mesh in back, if that gets in right, it will be alright but if that dont get in there right you’ll have a hell of a time you might have trouble it might start festerin’ or something
DM: You are a healer
JS: This one was [?] broke you can ask her
DM: I’m sure she had to sweat it out with you a couple times
JS: When the doctor told me, the company doctor told me, he said that’s just a bruise and the blood clogged there and it’s sore, well the dam bugger he raised in this town with me, you know and I thought well friends and all he had him and his daddy I thought well he’s tellin’ me the right thing, he give me a pink slip to go back to work and I said, do you think so, and he said in a day or two that will work that blood loose and it will be alright, I worked the week out, second week, well I rested Saturday and Sunday, I felt pretty good because I wasn’t
AV & DM inter. M/M Sulk. – 36 – 8/11/72 Tape 25-2
walkin’ on it much and rested it up and I went to work next week I worked that week but the following week she said get up because it’s time to get ready if you’re goin’ to go to work and I said, I don’t think I’m goin’ to work I’m goin’ to the doctor
MS: I wasn’t home then I was up at the hospital, don’t you know I was up at the Wilkes-Barre Hospital
JS: So finally I went up to the doctor and I come to him and you know where it’s broke it get’s like a knot and that morning when I got up I seen it and I was puttin’ my stockin’ on and I seen this knot around already and he used to take me in the other room and wait on somebody end of tape [???] DM: Mrs. Sulkusky what were you in for, were you in the hospital
MS: I was a couple times in the hospital, I was up at Wilkes-Barre, St. Joe’s Hospital, I had surgery done
DM: At the same time he broke his leg
MS: Same time he broke his leg
DM: They say bad luck runs in groups
AV: That’s right
JS: This was cut up and just hangin’ that was the time I was covered
MS: Yes you have a mark there
DM: Well you are a good healer, an excellent healer
JS: Yesterday hell I tore that hole out there I just took that skin and (made a short spitting noise) and see how nice that skin growed in, it just growed in right back, well I get some big ones and I just slap it back I don’t have no salve or medicine on there or bandages, better like that, open
DM: Do you know George Petruska down there, how badly burned he was and look at him now you can hardly tell it except for his neck is read right here, you shouled hear him, he’s got some stories how he was burned in that mine fire and he healed he was an excellent healer and he had his face almost burned off, his arms, he
AV & DM inter. M/M Sulk – 37 – 8/11/72 Tape 25-1
was tearing skin off of his arms just to get it out of there4 because it was burned
JS: That’s gas
DM: Gas fire
DM: And now he can shave and it doesn’t hurt him, his face was practically falling off
JS: Yeh that’s a sonofagun, gas
DM: Did you ever run into that
JS: Yeh we had gas, only we used
MS: You know I use to go 210 lbs. and look at what I am now
DM: Well you’re no shadow
MS: I lost a lot of weight
JS: If you want to die quick just you go to that black damper or white damper
DM: Right, 210 lbs. That’s more that I weigh
MS: Didn’t I weigh 210 lbs.
DM: And you’re not nearly as tall as I am
JS: I fattened her and then she lost it back
DM: She should have been well fed with that garden
MS: I was in the hospital how many times, I was just in the hospital now, I have sugar and then I have
DM: With all the vegetables and everything
MS: I have sugar
JS: Go and eat some candy, but you’ll get fat
DM: She’ll go 210 lbs. big Ange, the folklorist
JS: Well her sister Anne she was so thin she was married for quite awhile and she was as thin as a rake and she always used to cry yeh you’re fat and I’m like a rake
AV & DM inter. M/M Sulk. -38- 8/22/72 Tape 25-1 and this and that, I said, just wait
MS: Now the last time I was up at the hospital, I had an ulcer and I have high blood pressure
DM: With all this good food, how did you do that
MD Yeh, I have high blood pressure too
JS: And now she weighs more than any of them, she goes about 230 or so
DM: I’ll bet you don’t weigh more than about 110 or 112
JS: Who me, I don’t know what I weigh, I use to go 140 up to 160 and that was the highest I ever got
DM: You’re not even that now, you’re really trim now
JS: I had the goddam flu and the sonofabitch and then I don’t know, did Ihave pneumonia or in my left side here or what the hell but that was as sore as the divvel you know but you know I haint out of it yet, you can hear how I talk sometimes, like hoarse now and I can taste that gosh dang like that flu like when I had the flu you can taste that I don’t know what the hell, and then it blocked the dang hearing on me
MS: He had it in February, sometime this winter
DM: Did you go to the doctor
MS: He had the doctor, we have the doctor come in
JS: I can doctor myself better
AV How can you doctor yourself better
JS: Take some honey and some you don’t know what catrolic is
DM: Is it vinegar
JS: No it’s 4 Roses, you take and warm it up, you know, not too hot and you take that and stick away the goddam pills or medicine
MS: You were a sick man, you know, he would ask for things and you could look for them and when you give it to him, he don’t want that
DM: He’s a tough bugger isn’t he
AV & DM inter M/M Sulk -39- Tape 25-1 8/11/72
JS: That was the worse goddam sickness I ever had
MS: Nuthin’ tasted good to him
JS: You know how it taste, anything I took, like this buggy water like when you tramp on it and hear it buckle and it stinks like the divvel and bitter like the divvel everything I took in my mouth
DM: Like liver bile maybe
JS: I don’t know what the hell, now I even tried beer, it was bitter and that dirty taste, and then I tried to eat somethin’ what kind of thing I put in my mouth I tried soda.
DM: Your wife must have been gone crazy
JS: I would tell her to open up a can of peaches, I would take one piece out a slice and take a bite same gosh darn thing, open pineapple slice ones and the crushed ones and then she’d have to eat it all herself, I couldn’t eat, for 2 weeks
MS: More than 2 weeks
JS: Three weeks, I couldn’t eat nuthin’, water even didn’t taste for me I had to swallow somethin’ so I would just shut me eyes and swallow some
MS: The kids would come home like my daughter give daddy more juice give him, he wouldn’t take it
JS: She’d make different kinds of things, I couldn’t eat it, she’d be hollerin’ at me, you got to eat somethin! well how the hell am I goin’ to eat it I can’t, it’s bitter and thar rotten mucky taste, I can’t even swallow, how the hell am I goin’ to eat
DM: You must have had a rough time
JS: I said get oranges, what the hell I couldn’t take no orange, they said I give you orange juice, I said I don’t want it
DM: You must have lost some weight if you didn’t eat or drink except water, that’s rough
AV & DM inter. M/M Sulk -40- Tape 25-1 8/11/72
JS: I said if I was as crippled up as I was so many times
MS: I said when you go to hospital what tray they bring you you have to eat it if you like it or not you have to eat it so that’s the same thing with you, if I can’t eat it I can’t eat it that’s all, I said try or I’ll take it away from you
AV You used to make your own whiskey too didn’t you
JS: Oh yeh, I made any kind of whiskey, and I’ll tell you the truth, the doctor told me, and a good doctor, an old-timer now, he told me, where did you get that stuff, I made it, what the hell I’m goin’ to tell you a lie, have you got any more of it, yeh, well you put that away, you don’t waste that, you put that away and if you need it for sickness you’ll have it, that’s better than the brandy you buy in the drug store, he said, you won’t get it like that, you won’t get it like that, but I use to make it, I didn’t fool around like these, you might as well say horses asses the dam whiskey would poison half the guys, some of the guys are goin’ blind and everything from it, I boiled it, I boil whiskey and cut the alcohol, when it would come to 100 proof I took that alcohol away and put it on the side and then I’d ketch some more an dthat would be fore another batch and I put in the mash, and this alcohol up to 100 proof and I used to put it on the said and I’d make enough for boilin’ and then I’d dump all this alcohol in it boil that alcohol over again, then I’d make my own charcoal, and I’d put it in the barrel and I’d put the charcoal in and let it stand
DM: Filter it
JS: And then if you wanted a women’s whiskey I’d get this flavor and put so much in the whiskey and you could drink it just as good as wine, nice drink
AV How could you tell when the whiskey was 100 proof
JS: That proofs at is it 200 or 250, I made from rye and I made from plums and different things like that and raisins, well the best dam whiskey and the most dam whiskey was figs
DM: I couldn’t grow them around here
AV & DM inter. M/M Sulk. -41- 8/11/72 Tape 25-1
JS: That sonofagun you couldn’t prove it when you got your first gallon of whiskey
DM: It was that strong
JS: That strong
DM: You didn’t grow the figs around here, you had to buy them
JS: No, no there was a store man that used to come in and a grocery man and her mother went out to buy groceries and she asked him if he had any figs, yeh he said, he got figs, so he goes home, big box, big wooden box and he pulls it out in the open and gosh dang there was some of them molded on top well he took that whole layer off and the lower layer was clean, it was nice, so she took 2 lbs. or how much and her father went out he said, Mike do you know what, what you could be arrested, why, well you sellin’ moldy figs and the old man was just edgin’ him on, so got him, he said you could arrested because you’re sellin’ moldy figs, he said he didn’t sell the moldy ones I sold the lower ones where they are alright, but that went thru
DM: And did he get them for free
JS: And this guy now what he was after, he caught on, because he used to handle some stuff too he used to sell it, he used to get it from somewhere, wherever he got it and he used to sell it, so finally he said, alright if you want the figs, you give me a gallon if you make it, I don’t promise nuthin’ he said, if I make it and don’t get nuthin’ how am I gonna give you, he said I have to see what I’m gonna get
MS: I used to call it my ding dong [clock is chiming] whem my company used to come we had to turn that off because they couldn’t sleep all night
DM: Really, oh that’s beautiful, is that a Westminster Chimes
MS: You know I’m used to that and if I haven’t got that on, well I miss it
JS: But I think there’s different tunes you can get on it, you push a button
DM: That’s a great clock I love them
AV and DM inter. M/M Sulk. -42- 8/11/72 Tape 25-[?]
JS: Well these figs you know, we started boilin’ the sonofagun, he told me I’m ready, alright I’ll be up I sez, get the bugger ready and I’ll be up, and I come up and that goddam jug got full takes the proof and puts it in and lookin’ and lookin’ and the proof is down on the bottom, well the old woman I guess she was monkey’ around I guess she knocked it down and knocked it out of whack it won’t proof, don’t come up and won’t proof again, 4 times come up and didn’t proof the old man was stuck he hollered to the neighbor, it was a different neighbor, he was boilin’, and he asked him, John, he sez, are you usin’ you’re proof and lend it to me a minute, well he said I ain’t usin’ it just now but I goin’ use it too so give it to me back and he give him his and he puts his in and he said, Yonko yours is as bad as mine, it’s no good, what are you tryin’ to tell me mines alright what’s the matter, but the fifth she mooned about that much off the bottom
DM: What is a proof, and how does that work, I don’t know
JS: It sets down and it will show you the proof
DM: Is it like a thermometer
JS: Yeh, yeh, you set it down
DM: What moves up
JS: Whatever proof it is, it’s numbered on there, all the way down
AV Did you buy it or make it
JS: You buy it, 200 is lowest I think on it, is it 200 or 210 is the lowest and it starts from 10 down, if it’s 200, I said to my daddy-in-law, wait, I’ll show you how strong that is, that’s what’s the matter with it, so he takes a lid from a jar them aluminum ones, and I took some and I took it out in the shanty there and I got away from here to that room and I struck a match and I throw the match them big matches and when I threw that sonofagun match it was about that far away from that thing and it went w o o o p, it just exploded like dynamite, the lid, when I went to pick the lid up there was no glass in it or anything, I said you
AV & DM inter. M/M Sulk -43- 8/11/72 Tape 25-2
see that, that’s how strong it is, well when we started to dilute it, you should see the good whiskey we made out of that and I was makin’ it 105, 110 you know and the old man edge me on to make 120 I said no, her mother would come and tell me don’t you make it higher than 90 for him and there I was in a fix, well I’d have to make some of each, so I’d make some 110 and he could drink it and he could take it pretty good, he was pretty strong
AV Wouldn’t you like some of the 200 proof
DM: You’d have to get a giant paper bag and pick me home and carry me out, baggy squad
JS: He was a powerful guy, you know there was a guy up at the colliery and he was firin’ at the boiler, the boiler house at the breaker, and there’s guys up there Big [???blank space] oh he was a big tall man, heavy, big strong and there was a black iron there I forget how much pound it was, 500 and some pound or somethin’ and they just wanted to see, my daddy-in-law, wanted to have some fun that he can’t lift it so they had the block up at the breaker somewhere and they got there all of them guys and who can lift that block well they let on, this one that one and so on and say to the old man, now dad you lift it up, he lifted it up and the other guys couldn’t budge it up and they were bigger men and you think they were stronger, but he lift it up, he was the only one could lift it up I seen him take a stick of timber from that timber yard was 18 ft. long or somethin’ for fence polls or somethin’ pretty thick, I guess 10 inches or so, he’d take it on his back and walk down this way with it, I say to him, I have polls ready, I picked them out, nice straight ones and 6 ft. long, I said you don’t want them any longer than 6 ft. you put them down 2 ft. in ground and you have 4 ft. up that’s big enough and I had a bunch of them picked out and I said, bring the wheelbarrow up and put so many at a time and you don’t have to carry them on your shoulder come over to the road and come right down with ’em, he got movin’ around with this big one and he said but I can make 3 out of this
AV & DM inter. M/M Sulk. -44- 8/11/72 Tape 25-1
and my god I couldn’t get him to not take it, I went over to take them from him and the first thing I see him [blank space] come here just give me a hand to take them off my shoulder, and away he goes with the goddam
DM: Oh brother
JS: I thought to myself that’s a pretty good piece to carry [blank space] but you know when the Coxe’s had this they used to fence this whole town, the front, sides, back the alleys all the way up and nice boards and chestnut too, they’re guaranteed from 20 to 21 years to stay in the ground and they did do that
DM: Not like the junk they sell you at the lumber yards today, last about 5 years and then it rots around the bottom
JS: Yeh chestnut was good lumber for posts
AV How did they keep up that fence around town
JS: 21 years and they would stay longer, that pole by the grapevine that first one you know, I had it down in that house and when we come up here I brought it up here and I brought it from #7 up, it was down on the ground the way it was now it was dead I don’t know how many years so I took a saw down and cut the limbs off and I brought it up on my back all the way from there home and you would think it was a bag of feathers on your back that’s how light that was
DM: The pole
JD That pole, and it’s still good, that’s chestnut, so that’s a long time, that dam thing god knows maybe it’s 100 years old
DM: And it’s dead but it still doesn’t rot
JS: It don’t rot in the ground so much, it holds, and split, if you cut that for fire wood you just see them pieces fallin’ off, splits so dam nice you know, only if you put it in the stove it’s like shootin’ crackers
DM: Yeh that’s dry wood that does that,
JS: You should be born here
DM: Yes we’d learn a lot
AV & DM inter. M/M Sulk. -45- 8/11/72 Tape 25-1
JS: Sometimes there was plenty of jobs around the mines here, and them lokey’s used to be runnin’ around, you take like now, you’d hear them blowin’ there and in the winter when the snow was to keep the roads open the tracks you know there’d be all night runnin’ back and forth keep pushin’ the snow off the track then the big engines
DM: That must have been really neat, early Eckley, all of these things happening all at once that must have been great
AV Go hunting wih Spongy
JS: Well I’ll tell you what, you take like the olden times on Sunday afternoon they’d have their dinner and there was a sallon down here at the bottom of Sandy Hill they’d go down there and a keg of beer, $1.25 and whiskey 50 cents a quart, they’d get a keg of beer and go down there with their family and they’d have a nice time
MS: What happened to the fireman
JS: We don’t need no fire
MS: Who has to get up in the morning
JS: You can heat the coffee on the gas stove, it’s not cold tonight, it’s nice
MS: I know that without you tell me, whose the fireman, are you the fireman
DM: We have a gas stove, we have a combination gas and coal stove but we don’t use the coal stove, Walley makes most of the fires, I’d like to but he won’t let me he likes to do it, he beats me to it
MS: He’s the boss so he thinks you can’t do it
DM: Oh he just thought he was the boss, I can make a fire, I can make a coal fire, sure but he likes to do it himself, he doesn’t want me to do it so I said o.k. and he thinks that’s a lot of work but I like that work so I cut the grass and do all the housework and it doesn’t come out too evenly, I end up doing all the housecleaning but right now it needs vacuum
MS: Do youse change off then
AV & DM inter. M/M Sulk. -46- Tape 25-1 8/11/72
DM: Oh we just change off on jobs, we split up the work, we don’t have quite as much time as she does because Helen does the housework but we split up the work and do our laundry up at the laundrymat, it takes more time out of the day but that’s alright we get everything done
MS: Well as long as youse get along o.k.
DM: Oh yeh
JS: [Blank space] spoiled this place, [blank space] Swamp was a nice place there was a nice big dam there and a lot of fish, trout, brook trout boy they were nice they were about 12 inches, that’s big enough, boy they were nice
DM: Boy that’s good eating
JS: And you know when they ripped that open there they ripped that dam open and left them poor fish go down, down at Harts curve into the black crick sulphur water they should have been arrested I said, they should have caught them fish and put them somewhere else because there was a lot in there
DM: At least they could have put them in a bag and eat them that would have been better than leavin’ them die in that sulphur water
JS: Oh that was a shame, that was a nice place
DM: That’s no good at all
JS: And back down here where that banks and level is where they leveled that stuff where that gravel road, well that was all pines there, nice pines and all and nice berries around there all kind you ought to see every year there was a deer used to have their fawns there, their babies, only about that big they couldn’t stand on their feet right they were wobbly, nice spotted ones I went down one time and I had a light [blank space] and I went down and I was pickin’ berries or mushrooms or somethin’ and the dog bounced in and the bushes was there and they was pickin’ that clover up and they scrape it up like with a scoop and they pushed some brush in at the side, pile it up and sonofagun she had 2 fawns and they couldn’t walk yet they couldn’t run you know so the dog bounced in there
AV & DM inter. M/M Sulk. -47- 8/11/72 Tape 25-1
such a fuss and rushin’ and the mother jumped out and she come over to me and now you say animals don’t know nuthin’ the hell they don’t know nuthin’ that mother of them deer come over to me and she was cryin’ she wanted help and I din’t know at first what it was, then I hear the dog in there and I look in there and I say, come on out of there, and she’ll go back to that pile of brush there and I hollered at him and he come out of there and she go back and when she go back he made another attempt to go in again and she come out agin’ to me she went up a little piece and she come down to me and she started baain’, baain’ at me and I went and hollered at the dog and he came and I said now get the hell out of there, get the hell out of there altogether, so now you think I’m tellin’ you a lie, go up and ask Marka, her and I don’t know who was her buddie, they went there and seen the same thing, they seen them 2 little fawns but when I seen them I guess they were tryin’ to run with their mother
DM: The dog didn’t hurt the fawns did he
JS: They had like dollar white bills over them, dotted up you know, nice, and every year she used to have young ones in there, and down in thru here you could go down there and there was a lot of deer down there, not one bunch but couple of bunches, bunches, 5, 6 and some more and sometimes there was only 2 or 3 but they’d be passin’ in around there, up in that hill there’s lots of deer but sonofagun it’s too thick, the only way you can do on that hill is pick out a place and see a little bit around and sit there or watch [??handwritten word unable to decipher] climb a trees it is, you can see more off a tree but whose gonna sit up there when its cold
DM: Yeh sitting on a tree is kind of uncomforable
JS: Yeh I don’t want it, I don’t want no tree when it’s cold, its nice to hunt but they should start the season earlier
MS: Do you want some more sweets
DM: I don’t think I can I think we’re going to have to be going
AV & DM inter. Joe Sulkusky and Mrs. -1- 8/11/72 Tape 25-2
AV How can you tell the bad ones from the good ones
JS: Don’t take them that’s no good let them there. How long is that now is it 3 yrs. when there was so much mushrooms, when Johnny [????] used to come up
MS: Oh it’s more than that
JS: How much
MS: It’s more that than, there was that more mushrooms that, you’d step on mushrooms
DM: Right back here
JS: Right back here, he lives in Hazleton, he took a stroke after and he’s crippled up, can’t walk good, he gets around some, but very, very poor and he called up and he said, any mushrooms growin’ and I said, yeh, why, well can I come up, huh can I come up if you want to come up come up, so he come up and it was about 9 o’clock when he stopped here and he came out with a little basket about so long and so wide, and I said, what’s that fur, he said, for mushrooms, and I sez to him what the hell you goin’ that thing, I sez, I sez, that’s no use in takin’ that out, so he sez, what’ll I take, I sez never mind there’s lots of buckets he takes 2 buckts, I take 2 buckets and big plastic bags and we went down and start pickin’ them mushrooms and Jesus he wasn’t even talkin’ or anything he was puttin’ and puttin’ them in, you know we filled the buckets up and filled the plastic bags up, we come up home and we go over to the car he had it parked right out there, I dumped the 2 buckets in and the plastic bags out in the back seat, you know and he lookin’ at me and he said, what you gonna have, and I sez Jesus if I want them I can go down annd get a carload so he sez to me, what time is it about and he brings out a watch and he starts pullin’ it out and he [???? handwritten word] he sez looked at his watch and sez yeh 10 o’clock, one hour we was out, so he was starein lookin’ at me and I sez, do you want to go out again, and he sez, you’re tired, and I said, don’t you mind me, you mind yourself I sez, so he sez, well if you want to go down we’ll go down, we go down and in another hour we come up same load again and mushrooms [blank space] and the ones that big we weren’t pickin’ them
AV & DM inter. M/M Sulkusky -2- Tape 25-2 8/11/72
just the ones about like that all nice ones oh Jesus you had your choice you could pick all you wanted that year you could take a coal truck and fill it up if you take them all just if you would have enough pickers to pick them
DM: How long does it take one of those to grow
JS: Mushrooms? over night
DM: I thought so they were the kind that pop up over night
JS: If the weather’s good with some rain and the evening’s are wam and even around 70 or somethin’ like that in the evenings you go and pick them and if you go tomorrow you can pick them again around, they pop up over night
DM: Just drive your coal truck in and load them up with a shovel
JS: Yeh that’s right
AV Well what about those crazy mushrooms
JS: The crazy mushrooms if you eat them you go dancin’
AV You do
JS: Oh yeh, you go dancin’ you climb walls you do everything and you go to the hospital right aways
DM: I was going to say, wouldn’t that make you sick
JS: Yeh and there’s people that die from them too, oh yeh they’ll die from them
DM: When they eat them don’t they get real sick and throw up
JS: They get to the hospital quick and they pump the stomach and get everything out of you to try and get that poison out, I wouldn’t bother a mushroom if I didn’t know, I wouldn’t touch ’em
DM: Yet you know the good ones from the bad ones although you never read any books or anything
JS: Now there’s a mushroom that looks just like a red-topper and it grows just the shape of the red-topper like and that son-of-a-gun they eat ’em only they say you have to boil them longer and all and little on the bitter taste, a little bit well I said, the hell with them I don’t want the bitter taste I’ll do without
AV & Dm inter M/M Sulk. – 3 – 8/11/72 Tape 25-2
them. I won’t pick ’em. And they grow when the red-topper grows too
AV: How do they differ from the red-toppers
JS: Well if they was growin’ you would see because I would show you
DM: That’s why we want to stay here a whole year, that’s exactly why
JS: Now the night that we were pickin’ them light ones, them whole [?] pickin[?] that they call them, them’s good you can eat them, them’s good, don’t be afraid of them, then there’s a mushroom that has milk in it, you break it and see the milk comin out, well they eat them too because I know this here Falatko’s when we lived up above they use to pick them and they used to put them on a stove and bake them on a stove or take them and put them on a toaster and bake them, and salt them up and they [?] use to eat ’em but I didn’t bother ’em
AV: What do they call those things
JS: The ones with the milk
JS: Milk mushrooms yeh
DM: Like a milk weed that some white comes out it’s not really milk, I’m sure
JS: It’s just the color of milk, just looks like milk
AV: And what do you call the ones that you used to use to polish your shoes
JS: Rams head
MS: No the ones you shine your shoes
JS: Oh the shoe polish, you find them, and when it’s ripe enough, because when it’s young the shoe polish ain’t good enough in it but when it’s ripe you can take and break and shine your shoes with the goddam thing
DM: I thought they were just called puff balls, is that what you’re talking about
JS: Yeh it looks like a puff ball only these here are shoe polish
DM: What color are they when you see them on the ground
MS: Brown on the top
JS: Oh yeh there’s a lot of funny things in the woods, my god almighty
AV & DM inter. M/M Sulk. – 4 – 8/11/72 Tape 25-2
DM: Did he work in the mines or was he always out in his garden
MS: Well he worked in the mines
HS[?]: I worked 50 yrs in the mines
DM: And you still learned all this about the woods and the garden
JS: These goddam woods there ain’t a stone that I didn’t tramp on
DM: I won’t argue with you there
JS: This mountain all the way down hole and then we’d go down the canals [?] down the swamp huntin’ and then we’d come up the mountain on the side mountain and back all they way home and make it till dinner time and then after dinner we’d go huntin’ in another direction take another trip and go to Porter’s swamp that way hunt for huckleberries near them mountains
DM: You should write a book, you really should write a book
JS: And today by jesus it would take me a week to go like that, hell we used to go down Hickory Run huntin’ jack rabbits, all the way down, there’s not a deer down thru there
MS: You know when you were out swimmin’
JS: There’s deer all over this territory, all over
DM: Oh I’ve seen the deer
AV: How about other things like wolves are they around here
JS: No, we chased them the hell out we told them get out of there, but fox, there’s fox around, and there’s some good perfume guys around in the summer, there’s not too many but there’s some, they used to be in here before they stripped they use to come across here and if it was warm and the window was open she’d jump right away and put the window down and he’d go across back up the other side some place, but since the strippin’ I ain’t smelled any since since they ripped that coal out of there see they blasted the rock that was on top if they were in there in their holes that jar killed them in there or bust their eardrums and they died
AV & DM inter. M/M/ Sulk. –5– Tape 25-2 8/11/72
DM: Mrs. Sulkusky do you grow things too, you’re a gardener too aren’t you
/Joe wouldn’t give her a chance to answer/
JS: Do you know how that is
MS: Joe don’t talk so loud
DM: I’m just teasing don’t worry about me
JS: Break the [blank space] off of a plant and raise a lot but I got disgusted with that I use to give our neighbors [blank space].
AV: The African violets
JS: Yeh, I’ll ripped that off and plant it and raise young ones
DM: These are expensive in the stores because they’re hard to grow
MS: I used to grow a lot of them on the table there but little by little they get, there’s too much work takin’ care of them
DM: You have to baby them
JS: I take a chance with anything
AV: That’s right
DM: You must have about 3,000 plants in this yard that you baby, do you realize that, pet every night before you go to bed
JS: There’s a lot of people come and look at the garden and say, how in the hell is it your garden ain’t got no weeds or grass in it, I say, there’s a place outside the line that the weeds and grass grow, gardens are for vegetables and and stuff that grow in here
DM: I was going to ask you the same thing, do you pull each one of them by hand
JS: They used to say, what
MS: I said you pull all the weeds out
JS: Well see the trouble is with the people they’re a little bit too lazy sometimes to bend their back
MS: Oh you think everybody’s like you
JS: Well I’ll tell you this, when you see a weed grow up and it’s startin’ gettin’ seeds on you just grab them by the ears and throw them outside and let them
AV & DM inter. M/M Sulk. –6– 8/11/72 Tape 25-2
grow out back there’s lots of them behind, not wait till them seeds fall in the ground because next year you’re goin’ to have a couple thousand weeds from them seeds, you just look at some of them seeds when they ripen the wind will carry a little further then you have them all over the garden, I don’t give ’em that chance when they come up I take and throw them out before the dam seeds get ripe so they say how in the hell you ain’t got no weeds in your garden
DM: So you don’t have to do it so much anymore, do you
JS: My neighbor even told me a couple times I know some kind of thing to read on or something that they won’t grow in my place no I said a lot I know is don’t give it a chance, throw it out now lots of times I seen he had all kinds of weeds, jesus they grow high and spread around that chicken weed I call with the white flowers on, chickens will eat that like the devil we’d have chickens you know and they’d be some place around the garden and I’d pull some and throw it in to them and they’d eat everything but the stem, they’d eat it all
DM: Is that the same thing as chick-weed, yeh, it’s either chicken weed or chick-weed
JS: Yeh, that’s what they like
AV: Mrs. Sulkusky do you remember what Helen was saying before about that light you seen moving on the mountain
JS: Oh I remember it before she does
AV: You do, what did it look like
JS: Well I’ll tell you, it used to be the D S & S railroad the big engine you know, passengers used to come thru and I said we had better transportation then than we have today, because we had the D S & S coming in, used to come in up thru Hazleton, thru Ashmore up that way you know, come in and then come this way there was a station up above there and you went up to the station and for 7 cents you’d go to Freeland and to come back you come back and the Center railroad run down below where #10 went up there where the slope was I guess you looked up there, this way, well that was Centrail Railroad Company came in thru there
AV & DM inter. M/M Sulk. –7– 8/11/72 Tape 25-2
right in where the engine house was down there use to go in and go down and you went all the way up that way, that’s where all the people mostly came from Europe at that time, there was a station right there too, all the greenhorns we used to call them, they used to come in from Europe, yeh, well this here D S & S station see they use to have lights they had a light at the station up there and then every place there was switches, you know, well they had from #10 all the way up to here they had a double track like a turn off and they had lights over at that end and you had to climb up a ladder you know to put this light in and light it and then they had one there and up here and this man used to go all the time lightin’ these lights, so one time ago somebody kill him or did he fall off the ladder or kill himself and they use to say he comes around at a certain time of the night you can see that puttin’ the light on and then see the next one go on and so on and we use to always watch be lookin’ for that
DM: Right over here on the mountain
JS: Along the mountain there, pretty high up
AV: Did you see it, did you ever see that
MM: She’s askin’ did you see it
JS: Huh, the lights? Oh yeh, I saw the lights we used to be sittin’ there like that there was no place to go like that or anything, well a bunch of us would sit on this corner a (rope or road) up above up there and we’d be playin’ till it got dark and we’d be sittin’ and talkin’ different things
DM: And be looking at the mountain to see the lights come on
JS: Yeh, well lots of funny things happen
AV: Tell me some more ghost stories
JS: Ghost stories? Well you start you said you know some ghost stories
AV: Well this really happened to me it happened at the end of June when it was all misty, you know when we had those misty, rainy days like so I was
AV & DM inter. M/M Sulk. –8– 8/11/72 Tape 25-2
DM: Do you have an ash tray, I’ll get it
MS: My husband don’t smoke
JS: There’s one
AV: It was a misty, foggy day here in Eckley and this was the middle of the day it really was, one o’clock in the afternoon I was sitting at Helen’s kitchen table eating my lunch or dinner and I looked out and looked down the street seeing the fog coming up there and everything and everything is white and dreary and dismal and here I look out the window down the street at Josephine’s house Josephine Fedorsha I can see the porch down there and the grass kind of misty around and then I see this sack, it’s a huge sack it looks like a potato sack and this thing was on the porch it’s almost as tall as the porch there I’m looking and looking and I’m saying gee what is that is it some guy in a trench coat or what was it and I see the thing moving it moves over to the corner of the porch near the corner of the window and the door and it disappears and I think there’s no door on that side of the wall what it was I don’t know and where in the hell does it disappear to so then later I asked Helen is there a door on that side or do I remember correctly there isn’t she said no, I said Helen I saw this thing over there that looks like a big paper sack or a big potato sack and it went over to the corner and it disappears and she said, well we don’t know anything like that around here you must have seen
JS: So that’s a ghost story
AV: That’s the only kind of ghost I saw
JS: Well I don’t know there’s lots of things happen, there was a guy that was married to Annie, what the hell was her name, she was, he worked in Jetta [Jeddo], well anyway he was workin’ night shift and he worked this shift out, you know, when he worked it out he was comin’ home and he had to walk from #5 the road all the way in to town, he lived down below, Stefanko,
MS: Why didn’t you say Billie Goat
AV & DM inter. M/M Sulk. –9– 8/11/72 Tape 25-2
JS: Well Billie Goat but that hain’t their name, but his name was different he was married to Annie Stefanko
MS: I mean because, well near everybody’s house that’s livin’ in this town they have another name just like, if you go out and ask for his name, they wouldn’t recognize him, you tell them where does Spongy live and they’ll tell you right where Spongy lives but by the name of Joe Sulkosky they won’t know
DM: I didn’t know only by Spongy but I didn’t want to seem disrespectful
MS: That’s the same thing like in town where he’s raised in a town why they only call him Billie Goat, that’s what they call him
AV: What happened, what happened
JS: So this guy you know when he comes out from work and he started comin’ home, well he didn’t go far from the breaker over and here’s these dam chains wrapped around, you know them dam things, what the hell can they be, and he turns around and he looks and in along side of the road, you know but he kept in the woods there was a man and showin’ some kind of funny faces and the chains rattlin’ and him hustlin’ trying to make it quick you know the faster he was comin’ that guy was along side of him but he kept in the woods, they say anything that scares or anything like that he won’t come out on the road where the horses you know walk over and why I don’t know but they say he won’t come out but he checked on this man all the way up till he came up where Emil lives down there and then he lost him there but when he come home he was down and out and he was sick for 2 weeks that man, that was true. Well look at old Tommy Long, well he used to drink you know and he’d get pickled, well he would go to church and this was a Sunday, well he went and had got a couple of drinks up there in the saloon and on his way coming home well down where this coal dirt there used to be a bridge one time a wooden bridge there, well now there is no bridge there but they had a wooden bridge there and he came up to this bridge and he said the goddam divvels are on the bridge and they wanted a fight with him he said, he said I
AV & DM inter. M/M Sulk. –10– 8/11/72 Tape 25-2
was fightin’ with them but there was too many he said, he come home and he lived up there where Zerba live and he come home and his wife was tryin’ to calm him down she give him his dinner you know on the table for him you know and he didn’t want to eat he was cursin’ and hollerin’ and this at that, he said look at ’em comin’ in the house, so he went up with the plate and throw it out the door and he kept on, so he said, I’ll give it to ’em wait, he goes and gets the goddam ax and he goes and he’s fightin’ the divvels on the bridge down there and that was true
DM: Did he chop the bridge all up in the process
JS: So he said the divells were there. Well we had another guy Cujo Joe [illegible], they used to call him Cujo and he used to drink and then he’d get the snakes or whatever the hell you call ’em, he would do anything he used to chase them down into the culvert down where it’s all growed up now you can’t see it the coal dirt but them white birches down there, there used to be a lot of mushrooms grow in there too, so he would chase the divvels down there with the ax and the chains would be rattlin’ and every goddam thing and he’d be all night chasin’ them around and the guys would try to ketch him and hold him down, you know
DM: I’d give up the bottle real quick
JS: They try to calm him down but they couldn’t do nuthin’ with him he’d get that played out that he’d lay down somewhere, they couldn’t ketch him or they couldn’t do nuthin’ with him, they couldn’t hold him if they could ketch him
DM: He ran until he collapsed
JS: Yeh that’s true
DM: I wonder in the old days if they didn’t say you were possessed by the devil when that happened
JS: Down on that bridge, down there I really believe that [space] that there’s some goddam things that go on down there, because one time if you would say there was a bunch of radicals that get drunk and wouldn’t know what they’re doin’
AV & DM inter. M/M Sulk. –11– 8/11/72 Tape 25-2
or anything but [blank space] and there was a couple of ’em they were comin’ from Freeland, yes I guess that would be comin’ from Freeland because that was later in the night, you know that big white pine tree that used to be when you got off the bridge at that side in that coal dirt goin’ down across, no it’s not there no more, it used to be a big one
DM: A big bridge
JS: And they were comin’ and there was some fire by this tree and it was in the fall already and they said, look at that nice fire, who the hell could be there havin’ a fire now, it was a little bit off the road and they thought maybe there was somebody there, you know, they were young fellows, they were tough they weren’t afraid of anything, and they go over and the goddam fire moves away and there’s the fire burnin’ in front of them a piece away and it moved away from the tree and after they got further on and one guy stood back on the road, didn’t follow them and he said, what the hell is that the goddam fire moves away and now it’s burnin’ over there, so they kept on tryin’ to get up to this fire and this guy hollered he said, come on youse dum fools youse get the hell out of there there’s somethin’ to that he sez, he sez don’t bother goin’ because that’s gonna lead you some place and get you in trouble, get youse lost or somethin’, and that was true, one time I was comin’ home from Freeland but on this side of the bridge up toward mine [space] quarry is that strip [space] they fed the mules up there but I was comin’ home and the first goddam thing a nice big white rabbit bobs out in front of me and I was gonna ketch the sonofabitch took about 2 jumps or so and he set and looked at me and he was winkin’ his eyes and shakin’ his mustache and I thought it was somebody’s because up at Emil Gera’s house and this [“already” handwritten in] Tixie [blank space] and on this side a little further was [blank space] livin’ and there was a couple houses back in there I thought they had rabbits you know and I thought that’s a rabbit down there, I’ll ketch you, you bugger, like hell I’d caught him, but good luck that I thought to myself, hey boy you’d better
AV & DM inter. M/M/ Sulk. –12– 8/11/72 Tape 25-2
quit it I followed into the brush a piece already tryin’ to ketch him and I could like hell ketch him, so I said, that was no rabbit that was somethin’ else
DM: Because they know you were trying to catch him
JS: That was like you said
DM: But that would be something to tempt you with
AV: Yeh a hunter, wow
DM: Something living in the woods to follow, guys would follow a fire but not a rabbit
JS: Well you know one time ago, who was that lady was dead on the Back Street, that she got up after
DM: Who was this
JS: Some lady at one time ago, died, and they got the undertaker and a priest I guess, well they didn’t embalm like they do today, they put her on a stretcher, you know gettin’ the coffin ready for her, you know and I don’t know how long she was dead but she was layin’ on that stretcher
MS: It was before they use to have you laid on on the stretcher, before the undertaker would bring the casket in to put you in the casket, well that’s when she was laid out and the corpses like that they were stayin’ in the night
JS: They were at the wake
MS: And here they were talkin’ and this lady wakes up and gets up out of the here and she sits up on the stretcher
JS: Will you have a beer or don’tcha drink
DM: Oh yes I’ll have a beer
MS: And she got up and walked off the stretcher, she walked out and she seen these people sittin’ there watchin’ her so she runs out outside like under the porch and when she runs under the porch the dogs all start goin’ for her because she had a gown on, you know she was laid out in a gown and
JS: Here’s the ash tray underneath the papers
AV: And then what happened
AV & DM inter M/M Sulk. –13– 8/11/72 Tape 25-2
MS: Well she had a hard time she was livin’ for how many years after that she was
DM: How long did it take for her to convince them that she was really alive
MS: Well she was livin’ for quite a few years
DM: What did the people do at the wake, jump up and run or what
MS: Give her 7-Up
AV: No I don’t want anything, thank you
DM: She’s on a diet
DM: No I was saying I don’t mind drinking a little bit but I don’t want to see devils, I don’t drink that much
AV: That is a lot
JS: Well you know this lady after she got up, she set up on the stretcher and the people all started to run out and she didn’t know what the hell happened, what’s the matter so she went outside too and she got under the porch and the dogs after her, they would have tore her apart
JS: I don’t know how they found out right away and they started barkin’ after her
AV: And then what happened
DM: I don’t think much else happened she just
JS: She was dead that long
AV: That’s strange
MS: She come to herself she must have been in a coma and she revived herself
JS: Yes but that was a long time
DM: Yes and be able to get up and walk after you’ve been in a coma
JS: She lived long after that
DM: But didn’t the doctor or the undertaker detect breathing
MS: Well in years back they weren’t as wise as they are now
DM: But didn’t they take her pulse or see her breathing
JS: Lots of times they use to bury people before they use to say like in
AV & DM inter. M/M Sulk. –14– 8/11/72 Tape 25-2
Europe they buried a girl I think it was, a pretty old girl and somebody was passin’ the cemetery after they had her buried and they heard her holler, but it was how they know, come and notified the folks permission to go and dig the grave up well when they did digged the grave up she was turned over on her face all black and blue, see her face, see if somebody was there at the time and took her out she’d been alright, but they just didn’t, take too much time
DM: I wonder if she had the sense to turn over on her face so that they would know that she had been alive, or whether she just landed there
JS: They had to go thru all this maneuver you know go and see the lawyer and go and see a judge I guess or the squire
AV: That’s strange
DM: You would suffocate
JS: Yeh lots of funny things
AV: That’s right a lot of things, things happen
DM: Did you ever hear the one about, this is supposed to be true but I don’t know exactly where it happened. I think it was up in the New England somewhere, some woman had died in a chair, she passed away in the chair and she wasn’t discovered for half a day and rigor mortis had set in and she was in a sitting position and you know they use to break bones and tie you down in the coffin if you died in a non-sitting position but somehow or other they tied her down in the coffin they put some kind of rope around her shoulders or some such thing, she was dead there was no doubt about it she was dead but she was in the coffin like this and the wake was going on and she was over to one side of the room and suddenly she this thing broke and she sat up and as she sat up the air in her diaphragm pushed out through her vocal cords and she rmrmrmrmrmrmrm and sits up, can you imagine how scared everyone was in the funeral hall, and that’s supposed to be real, that’s not a made up story that’s a real one like these others
MS: Joe pull the shades down in the kitchen
AV & DM inter. M/M Sulk. –15– 8/11/72 Tape 25-2
DM: Can you imagine that, have you ever read about that
JS: Yeh, there’s things that happen like that
AV: Do you remember anything else happening like that
MS: I mean the shades in the kitchen, not these [blank space] I’ll bet you wouldn’t guess
DM: Well if he’s been pickin’ mushrooms for 70 yrs. you both have to be in your 70s
JS: More than 70 years
MS: Well I’m goin’ to be 74 years
DM: Well I wouldn’t know because I can’t believe how everybody wears their age so well around here and all the men have more hair than I do
MS: And I was born on the other street, on the Back Street, the road that goes to Buck Mountain [“they say it like Buckmountain” is in brackets here] and then down 2 houses, the second house the part where you go to Buck Mountain where you see the woods all grown up cross where Helen’s livin’ now right in there and I was born across like here and Helen was born right across the road we were neighbors, we were brought up and we were neighbors
DM: But Helen’s only, what, 63
AV: She is 68
JS: Do you want a drink
DM: 4 Roses, you have 4 Roses here, you people have a lot of stuff here, you can’t grow that in your garden can you
JS: Oh yeh we have other [illegible]
MS: Why don’t you bring the Ginger Ale up, you went down in the cellar, why didn’t you bring the Ginger Ale up
AV: I don’t need any Ginger Ale
MS: You understand more than me because I don’t bother with those things
JS: Any else in the gosh dang things in the woods that was worth anything that I wouldn’t have, yes, I’d have to get it no matter where it was
DM: Besides mushrooms and what else
AV & DM inter. M/M Sulk. –16– 8/11/72 Tape 25-2
JS: [Handwritten words in blank space, illegible] did you ever see them
DM: I don’t know, I said besides mushrooms what else is there in the woods
JS: Grows up like a cauliflower, it’s round and grows up nice or some grow up that high like a bushel basket, the sonofagun it’s tough to carry one of them when they are in their prime and growed up and they have a good place they grow mostly around oak stumps or oak trees they grow around and sometimes there would be more than one growed around a place, maybe sometimes 2 or 3 like that but if you know how to cut that you can go there every year
DM: And it will grow back
MS: How old is Helen now, 78 or 68
JS: But if you pull it out, now see like lots of these mushroom pickers they go on pickin mushrooms, they pull them out, now if you keep pullin’ them out they’ll last maybe 2 years or so and then there’ll be no mushrooms in there, they pull the seed out now mushroom has seed like everything else, now sometimes when you’re out pickin’ mushrooms and they’re growin’ plentiful, well they grow pretty big they grow that round, and if they get that high they have a stem that thick on them and you look at the roots, the bottom and you see them beads on there, they’re just like little beads all around and on the roots they call them the feeders, that’s all seed, if you let that root in there and cut it off above, next year or maybe that year yet, now they called me a liar one time, the old men my father-in-law and other old men they use to sit on my porch and talk all the time they would be discusstin’ different things, so I told them, I said, you know what the proper way to pick mushrooms is cut it off at the ground, you’re not goin’ use that part in the ground because it’s dirt, you’re not goin’ use that part anyway so let it in there and why they sez to me, because there’s seed in there I sez and them mushrooms will grow I said every year if you don’t pull and throw them out and they start laughin’ at me but one old guy he stuck, this here [handwritten word, illegible] he said no, no never mind, he said, he’s young and maybe he knows more
AV & DM inter. M/M Sulk. –17– 8/11/72 Tape 25-2
than us old jack-asses, so he said, we’re old and they’re young and maybe they know something we don’t know, I said, alright, I went for mushrooms and down on the bank over here there was 3 pretty ones growed up they were in their prime, so I cut them off and I looked in the direction and I thought now I’ll know where it is and I’m comin’ here in 2 days so and see and I come there and sure enough in 2 days or there about and I cut the stump about that high off the ground and there was a sonofagun of a mushroom grew up like that and it was about that high and had a head on it about that big so I still cut that stump below, you know, I left it open, I brought it home oh I brought lots home again, Dooley that time wanted mushrooms, came to me for mushrooms, so I picked a paper bag maybe a peck, I took it down to him and he looked in the bag, boy he said, are they pretty, nice young ones, and what kind is this one, and I said, oh give me that one back, what’s the matter [blank space] see I said, I cut that one off 2 days ago till I came back this one growed on the same stump, because they said it can’t be so that they do that, so I showed it to ’em, what the hell, they said, then this here cousin from Hazleton, what the hell are you doin’, pickin’ mushrooms, that’s no way to pick mushrooms, cut them off at the ground, now what are you goin’ to do that for
MS: Joe, you know what, you think because you can’t hear that everybody else he talks too loud
AV: No he doesn’t that’s fine
DM: But one time he yelled at me I jumped
JS: So, he said is that right, I sez that’s right, I sez you mark this down, I sez every time you come up here to go for mushrooms, now you ought to know the place a little bit because you’ve been quite a few times, I sez, mark yourself a spot I sez, and you’ll find out, my god almight one day he called me over and he sez come here, I sez what do you want, come here, just cut them off if you wanta, no he sez, I want to show you somethin’ so I walked over to him and you see
AV & DM inter. –18– 8/11/72 Tape 25-2
one growed up and my son-in-law Sherry we were down here and he used to pull them out and I got on him and I sez, that’s no way to pick mushrooms, you cut them off, and they were there all around him and he just [blank space] I said, there isn’t any comin’ here, I pick them here and that’s why there’s not one or 2 but I said they’re all around growin’ I sez, he sez is that it and yet he sez to me I don’t believe that, well I sez I do because I done it I seen it and I proved it he sez, jesus I never knowed that, I never knowed that he sez, well that’s it I sez, that’s why the people spoil the mushrooms place, there was a farmer down here at Sandy Valley away down quite a ways he had a farm and he had a farm on this side and there was a crick goin’ in between and the other side was divided but it was his land and mushrooms used to grow there, red toppers, well when we went down there about 6 or 7 of us and we went in there and was pickin’ mushrooms, you know and they went to runnin’ like a crazy bunch of fools and here I walked a piece away and let them run I was goin’ slowly lookin’ around here was some brush there, some bushes about that high that had leaves on round like a penny I call them penny-bushes they said, where the hell was you, and I said, right over there, you see up there where them bushes are [blank space] I said there’s where I got them all and the farmer was there and he was [blank space] and some had 2 and some had 3 and I came along with a hat full and a bucket full and the farmer said [blank space] look at that man’s comin’ there he has the mushrooms, so when I come up to him he sez how are you pickin’ the mushrooms, do you pull them out, or how do you pick ’em, I said, why am I goin’ pull them out for, cut them off and let the root in the ground he said, you are a mushroom picker but he said if I catch anybody on my land pullin’ out mushrooms he’s gettin’ out there dam quick if not he’ll pay for them he sez I’ll show them they’ll have to cut them off he sez and you have your crop and if you don’t you’ll spoil your crop. I believe ‘im
DM: I think that proved it
AV & DM inter. M/M Sulk. –19– 8/11/72 Tape 25-2
AV: Mrs. Sulkusky did they ever say there was ghosts in Eckley here
JS: Ghosts, I guess there were sometimes
AV: Do you think
DM: I lost the mosquito
AV: Are you seeing devils
DM: On one beer, yeh, just a little bug or something, I’m sorry
AV: Tell about your ghost and the haunted house
DM: Well I didn’t believe anything about ghosts, I always thought ghosts were figments of [the word “somebody’s” crossed out] imagination, or whether they were drunk or sober or whatever
JS: Angie’s afraid to eat candy that she’ll get too fat but if you’re gonna get fat you’re gonna get fat, and if you won’t you won’t get fat, I could eat a horse and I wouldn’t get no fatter than I am
DM: I’m like you are
JS: A little bit sometimes I gain a few pounds sometimes, not too much
DM: All that good healthy food you grow in your garden you won’t get fat
JS: Yes, and don’t [handwritten word above, illegible] think we didn’t work hard, ) [more illegible handwriting] that goddam kid, worked like an Indian, worse than an Indian, I remember you’d come home like in an evening when you went to school, you had the geese to water and feed the chickens, the ducks, a cow and get the coal in, no buyin’ coal, bring coal in and go for huckleberries too, keep goin’ steady (study) then towards the fall get the wood ready, cut wood and pile it up for the winter and coal, enough coal you had for the winter all winter, that was always
DM: And look how long you lived, exercise
JS: You go down to the slate banks down below after I come hom from work I’d bring up 6 bags, 6 buckets in a bag of coal, I use to enjoy it, I was always that way
MS: And did anybody tell you
JS: And then after I was a little bugger, I went to work when I was 12 years old in the mines
AV & DM inter. M/M Sulk. –20– 8/11/72 Tape 25-2
DM: What did you do, pick slate
JS: I picked slate one week or so and then they put me watchin’ pickers and that’s like scrapers and links oh it’s a long thing you push it down into a pocket and this coal comes down in there and it’s all slate and rock, it’s mixed, and then these pickers pick this slate and rock out and it goes into the chutes and the slate pickers they pick them out, that’s the boys, you know, and then I was on them for about maybe 2, 3 weeks, her brother was caught there he was hurt bad you went around I forget how many times that shaft used to go around in a minute and threw him around so many times
DM: It caught his clothes in there or what
JS: Yeh, so then after that they put me watchin’ jigs, because I said I’m goin’ quit, well what the hell, 5 cents an hour I was gettin’ they give me 2 cents raise watchin’ the jigs that’s another machine that it’s down in the pocket of coal and it works in there and you have to watch it, and that picks the bad stuff out and purifies the coal and takes it out and puts it in a chute and it goes around different pockets
DM: Wasn’t that really dusty though, a lot of coal dust
JS: So I didn’t work long on there so I went down in the mines, 10 cents an hour, the sonofagun on the breaker you would work day and night and when pay day would come $7 you got on payday that’s for 2 weeks and they only use to pay 2 weeks, honest to god you’d work all day and then you’d come home and have a bite and go back in the morning you’d be comin’ down, runnin’ thru or dump coal or fixin’ the machinery or somethin’ that needed to be done that’s the kind of a job
DM: For 5 cents an hour
JS: Now today you tell ’em that they don’t believe it that you worked for 5 cents an hour or 10 cents an hour, but I was pretty good at it, I was in the mines I didn’t work too long pretty soon they give me 2 mules to drive, well that was a pretty good advance, you know, well I drove them 2 mules maybe a year or so well then
AV & DM inter. M/M Sulk. –21– 8/11/72 Tape 25-2
they give me 4 mules and I was drivin’ four mules there so then I got full wages that was, what the hell was that, $2.24 a day and that was the highest pay you could get from the company, drivin’ mules or timberin’ or something like that so I was on that for a couple of years and then after I went minin’
AV: And you had some close calls too in the mines, buried several times
DM: Not driving mules you didn’t get buried
AV: No mining
JS: You know they’re stubborn sonofaguns
MS: He was buried one time for 6 hours
JS: You know they were so stubborn you’d think they were persons, you know some people are stubborn, when they get stubborn you can’t move them either way and the more you get cocky with them the worse they get, the worse they get, the only way you can get along with them is talk to them and act gentle with them and the sonofaguns think they’re all it, the way I used to do, I use to have a whip, yes, but I never used it on the mules, I’d crack it you know, jump on the car on the front bumper and whistle, just give them a whistle and away they’d go I didn’t have to holler at them, when I was ready to go– give them a whistle and away they’d go and I’d crack the whip when they’d get started pretty good and jesus they’d dig into it like fire but when you’d get them balky when you balked them up honest to god you could take that that you hook on the car and you could unhook it off the car and lay it down and 4 mules [blank space] goddam spreader, they wouldn’t move it from there that’s how balky they get one would go this way and one would go that way and they’d twist around [blank space] if they think they’re hooked on a triple car they won’t move all this minin’ and the boss would come to the mine and Captain he’d say I have to have you again, he sez I’m stuck, what’s the matter now well Kostic, Popcycle they use to call him, he would balk the team up and they couldn’t do a gosh dang thing and honest to god almighty he couldn’t move a thing he’d tie up the
AV & DM inter. M/M Sulk. –22– 8/11/72 Tape 25-2
whole slope well he’d pick up his candy [sic] and go home, he wouldn’t quit but he’d just go home and he’d stay home for a week or so and then he’d come back again, he would come, the boss would come to me and get me to do it but in my place he use to take and put another man to load coal and I would just pay him a shift I’d pay him $4 and somethin’ and the rest was for me, and my shift for drivin’ see I used to always make extra so when I take the team and I’d go over and look at ’em and I sez, what’s the matter with youse guys, I’d talk to them and they’d be lookin’ around and some would be snortin’, calm down, calm down I’d say somebody’s goin’ to play a different trick and I would take the lead mule and I’d put him back in the bridge, the back end and take the bridger mule and put him on the lead see other guys used to be afraid to do this that the mules wouldn’t listen to them or do the right thing, you know, but I don’t give a dam I take a chance I put the back one on the front and the front one on the back and I’d just walk around a little bit and look around and then whistle and they didn’t know that [blank space] see they’d put their ears up like this like what the hell do I mean, you know, and I sez come on youse dummies youse get goin’ and come on get up now, come on and away they go and then in a day or two they know what the whistle means and them sonofaguns would pull together I’d come out with a goddam trip of cars 18 to 24 cars and go like an engine the boss was lookin’, jesus how many did you have on, 24, what, a whole trip, well he sez I’m goin’ tell you somethin’ I never seen that, never seen 24 comin’ out, well I sez I ain’t lickin’ them, and you see them goin’ and then he takes notice he sez what you got on lead there, I sez why, he sez you ain’t got no leader on, what, you want the coal out dontcha, I sez put the dummy in front and the smart one in back then you’re goin’ get production, hell he said if the gaffer would see that he’d raise up hell, I sez who’s drivin’ the mules, the gaffer, me or who, well there they are I sez, I sez you know what you take them mules in another day and they’ll balk and again the same
AV & DM inter. M/M Sulk – 23 – 8/11/72 Tape 25-2
way youse don’t kow how to handle them that’s whats the matter, but they are stubborn. We had one theere we called it Stock & Cake they couldn’t do anything with it and they brought it up here, well would that thing get balky, even with 3 mules in front couldn’t pull her, she’d put her goddarn feet up like this and brace herself and you couldn’t budge her, and when she’d start kickin’ she’d kick the coor in the car and then she’d set in it, they said do what the hell you want with ‘er, well I didn’t know what to do, they use to balk the other mules because they’re quick to get balked, I’d just take the dam thing if I had her I’d take her out and put her in the breast and have her stand with the 3 mules, and I got the work done.
DM: I was going to say how would you make a mule like that pull cars
JS: You couldn’t do nuthin’ with her not with that Stock & Cake then the next day you’d take her out agin and she work and then maybe she’d get funny agin and when she’d work she’d work then she’d get funny spell comin’ up, but you know there’s a trick with the mules in the mines too it’s not just to go and pull cars in, because there’s lots of ditch you have to sprag them you know and jesus if you can’t sprag watch out you’re goin’ to have all the cars goin’ to hell, they’re as quick as the divvel, see they have sprags on the sides of the cars, the patcher he’s on one side and you’re on the other, he starts to sprag right away and you hive him a start to make make the pull like when the cars start comin’ they’re comin’ like the wind passin’ you, and you get that used to that they can just keep on, you know, puttin’ them sprags in, and they use to pull up them runs one time the 4 mules would pull 3 cars and they were pretty long too a pretty good distance till later on then they made a plane down there, a short out for the empties to come down but the loaded would go on to the slope and the mules, see some places you had to fly them over you stacked all your cars up on the top when you had a full trip and was ready to go down and
AV & DM inter. M/M Sulk. –24– 8/11/72 Tape 25-2
then you hooked the mules on and they’d give them a good start and then you’d holler GEE and that meant they would go to the left and if there was an old road in there or an empty breast he’d turn in there all the mules would run in there out of the road and the cars would go down this pitch
DM: How did you get the mules unhitched from the cars
JS: They’d come themselves, throw the [blank space] on his back, you know and then they’d go in and the cars would pass and they would come out and come down behind you, he’d let you know he was behind yuh, you were takin’ the sprags out and he’d come and bump you with his snoot, and then you’d go down agin and get another flat to pull, unhook them and they’d turn right Gee Cudehoo they understand, you think they don’t, all animals have a way,
AV: Every animal
DM: I think so
AV: Mrs. Sulkusky did they ever say these mines were haunted around here
JS: Was what
AV: Haunted with anything, did they have ghosts in them or funny noises
JS: Oh I don’t know if they had ghosts in them, what the hell ghosts ain’t goinna hurtcha they’re comin’ for you when you’re goin’ die that’s all, I don’t believe in any ghosts
AV: You don’t, don’t you think there’s some kind of funny stuff going on
JS: That’s the place, well I don’t know how you get down there, I know there’s different ways to go down, down to see that [blank space] Spring Rocks and that spring down there
AV: What’s there
JS: And then up close to here the golden buckets and other rocks
DM: Is there rock formation around
JS: Pretty far down there
DM: Oh I wish he could take us
AV & DM inter. M/M Sulk. –25– 8/11/72 Tape 25-2
JS: I guess it’s about as far as from here to Freeland, I guess
DM: Are these rock formations that he’s talking about
JS: There’s a lot of rocks down where the central railroad goes down, well they go down that way for water to the spring, lots of them in town they go down but I don’t know what road, I wouldn’t say it’s any too good, you know
AV: Where are the golden buckets located
JS: This way from the third spring, a piece away
DM: What do you call the third spring, the third spring from what
JS: See down there one time at number 7 was a town down there, there were homes all along goin’ down under the central railroad and down thru the hallow inside there was homes there, and they use to call the Mollie Maguires used to live down there, they were tough, they were worse than Indians, you’d sooner meet a bunch of Indians than meet them buggers, they were half crazy, and they didn’t have no pumps or anything in their homes, there were cricks runnin’ down from the springs, first spring, second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth way down at the Callan’s down there and all good spring water and they use to go out, their homes weren’t far away they use to go and bail their water out of the crick
DM: There were seven springs
JS: They were so far apart, all the way down, all good water
AV: Where did it come from
JS: From under the mountain that goes all the way to the Golden Buckets and Third Spring that’s all rocks up there
DM: I sure wish you could take us but I don’t think you can, that’s too far
JS: And then #7 Spring used to come down from that side, well there were double homes there and the foundations is still there, that’s where the Indians use to make his medicine from that spring he said that was the best water and he test them all, test all them springs
AV & DM inter. M/M Sulk. –26– 8/11/72 Tape: 25-2
AV: This was that Indian doctor
JS: Yeh, they use to climb that, they use to see Golden Buckets on them stones one time
DM: Boy that’s fascinating
AV: Golden Buckets
JS: That’s how they named them stones Golden Buckets how true it is I don’t know, I couldn’t see them, I use to be there lots of times, many berries I use to pick around them stones
AV: Them Golden Buckets
DM: You never saw the Golden Buckets though
JS: I never seen them if they were Golden Buckets somebody would see them and they’d be gone
DM: And this is all down in this direction
JS: Yeh, all down at #7, well they call that #7 there was 3 hoists engines down there 7 slopes they named it #7 I could take you down and show you place where the dam things is, everyone, I worked under it there before they had 7 slopes there, now already when I was workin’ in the mines #10 slope went all the way in back in there
AV: Tell us about Council Ridge
DM: Where was it
JS: Well they called this Council Ridge, Eckley this town had Council Ridge, and Filmore and Slatingtown they called it, or Shingletown, see that stack, there use to be a stack on the coal dirt down here, back of Pikers the last house this side, right back there there was a house and there was a stack there they use to make shingles there that’s why they called this Shingletown then they named it Eckley Coxe
AV: And Council Ridge is around here, is this a ridge right here
JS: That’s what they called it, that’s the name
A. Varesano interviewing Joe Sulkusky –1– 7/9/72 Tape 18
(RE: mushrooming where Back Street used to be)
AV: When did you first start picking mushrooms
JS: Well they didn’t grow too good till around August, sometime in August and then September
AV: What kind are these, the ones that grow in August
JS: Red toppers, they grow until the frost bite
AV: How old were you when you first started picking them
JS: About 4, 5 years old
AV: Who taught you
JS: I don’t know, myself I guess
AV: Didn’t your father take you out to look for them
JS: Well he didn’t care much for goin’ out he didn’t want to get into [blank space] this is sure thick with briars
AV: What kind of trees are you looking for where the mushrooms grow
JS: Usually they grow at white birch and may trees, that’s the same tree
AV: Underneath where the leaves are
JS: You don’t see no bugs on a white birch, little green bugs and when they come out then the mushrooms grow out, them has apples on somebody throwed
AV: When does that happen, when the bugs come out
JS: That when the mushrooms grow better
AV: What about those white ones those pinkies where do they grow
JS: They grow up where that [blank space] where I said the huckleberries are up along there
AV: What kind of plants grow with the pinkies
JS: Well they grow more around oaks where the scrubble bushes are
AV: But this is just grass, and there’s mossy ground and rock, is that what they like
JS: Yeh, now you watch if I can get on the other side, can get in here someplace and take the strippin’
AV: Where did you look when there wasn’t any strippings
JS: I can’t get down here
AV inter. J. Sulkusky –2– 7/9/72 Tape 18
AV: Where that slate rock sticks out from the birch tree
JS: Yeh we should find some there, someone had that one in his hand
AV: Remember those ones that you called crazy mushrooms, how can you tell they’re the crazy ones, how can you tell that they’re dead, because they’re pure white
JS: They ain’t got the smell of the other ones
AV: That’s coal dirt
JS: Yeh, humpty dumpty
AV: Where did you find the mushrooms when there wasn’t any strippins
JS: Around the huckleberry bushes and and like the fire used to go through after that when they started gettin’ new leaves then you’d see the red toppers
AV: What happens when the woods get old
JS: When they don’t burn, they should burn every 4 or 5 years, when they burn then there’s plenty for everything, there’s mushrooms you got berries
AV: Oh sour
JS: Yeh then they don’t produce
AV: They seem to like sour ground then
JS: Yeh, see here’s some of them little [illegible word] on now, there should be lots of ’em
AV: Did you use to burn out the forest in the old days
JS: Yeh, they use to burn pretty often
AV: Naturally or did the people use to set the fires
JS: See them huckleberries [blank space] use to burn purposely
AV: These briar bushes in here
JS: Yeh, that’s where they use to be, people wouldn’t go in after them
AV: What’s the best way to get around them, these briars
AV: What are these ones, red on top and yellow on the bottom
JS: They call them a bitter mushroom
AV: Where abouts do they usually grow
AV inter. JS. –3– 7/9/72 Tape 18
AV: How did you learn all these different kinds of mushrooms
JS: [Blank space] you don’t pick if you don’t know what they are because you can get sick
AV: Somebody you know got sick from eating them
JS: Oh yeh
JS: Right here in Hazleton [blank space] around here they generally pick them and then they get sick
AV: What happens when you eat that crazy mushroom
JS: Why you get good and sick, take you to the hospital and pump everything out of your stomach and then give you some kind of medicine [blank space] and you’ll be sick for awhile
AV: Why do they call it crazy mushroom
JS: They say they go crazy from it
AV: Oh what happens
JS: You get sick
AV: In the head
JS: Uh huh and then you act
AV: Do you think its worth it to have strippings around here to find mushrooms
JS: Well we used to get them any how without the strippings and you didn’t have to go around climbin’ [space] this here hill I used to find them around here, red toppers, and now you can’t
AV: When was this hill good for red toppers
JS: About 3 years ago
AV: In that hollow
AV: Why do you think there’s no mushrooms this year
JS: Too cool, the weather’s too cool at night, there’s enough rain, nights be around
AV inter. J. SULK. –4– 7/9/72 Tape 18
the 70’s you know
AV: What kind of plant is this
JS: That’s a weed
AV: Crazy weed, why do you call it a crazy weed? Is that a mushroom there
JS: I’m lookin’ at it, I don’t know
AV: It’s all puffy and has brown spots on it
JS: That’s punk, just a baby one
AV: Are they good
AV: Why not
JS: No that will turn black and we used to call them shoe polish, we used to polish our shoes with them
AV: Did you
JS: Yeh, they’d get black as coal
AV: Is it poisonous
JS: No it’s not poisonous it’s like a polish
AV: And where did you look for them
JS: Any place under the white birch or lots of time they grow on our lawn
AV: Which places on your lawn
JS: In the front there on the grass, I didn’t see none there in a long time
AV: They grow around the moss
JS: Yeh [blank space] they get big, sometimes maybe that round and then they get ripe and they get like shoe polish
AV: Around these rocks, are these rocks that the snakes like to go in
JS: Helen will have a laugh at us
AV: Did you ever see snakes around here
JS: Oh yes, of course now I’ll tell you what’s the matter, cold weather, when it’s
AV inter. JS –5– 7/9/72 Tape 18
cold weather lots of them die and lots of them are too weak they won’t crawl around [blank space] see a snake is always cold if you touch them he’s as cold as ice and they want it hot
AV: What do they do when it’s warm weather
JS: Well then they’re ready to fight [blank space] 90 some degrees
AV: What kind is this, a red topper?
JS: No that’s one of them gulla pinky
AV: What do these gulla pinkies look like
JS: Some of them got blue tops, some are more white with a little pinky
AV: Because they got flat tops
JS: No a lot of them have flat tops, they’re a different color
AV: And they’re the ones with the white shirred skirt on the bottom
JS: Yeh, they’re pretty good
AV: Where do you find the berries mostly
AV: And those other kind of berries those dog berries, where do the blackberries usually like to grow
JS: In beds in different spots [blank space] you should see how many blackberries used to be before we had strippins, right behind our fence there were so many blackberries Ronnie my grandson, he was a pretty good size boy and he used to stay over in summer with us and the neighbor from our place he used to go with him right behind the fence and pick them oh Jesus, they use to pick so many blackberries it wasn’t even funny right behind the fence you didn’t have to go down in the woods or nuthin’ and you didn’t have to look for them just stand and pick buckets full
AV: What did they do with them, eat them
JS: they use to make wine and lots of them made pie out of them, and lots of them made whiskey out of them
AV inter JS –6– 7/9/72 Tape 18
AV: Blackberry whiskey, is that good?
JS: Well I guess, something like a blackberry brandy, I tell you the truth, if you take a nice glassful, blackberry brandy, that’s when you make it yourself too and you drink that and sit on a chair for a couple of minutes and then go to get up and I betcha you don’t get up you flop back that’s how strong it is, but it’s good, it’s good for you and it’s a good drink
AV: How is it good for you
JS: Well it stimulates your blood [blank space] them black cherries
AV: Is that good
JS: Jesus if you make a wine from that, I’m tellin’ you, you’ll feel like a million just to use it like a medicine you take a drink like before supper if you have a pretty good meal and you take that and you have somethin’
AV: Sounds good, what’s it supposed to do for you
JS: Well that’s good for your blood too, that’s a tonic like and it’s a good drink I thought it would be a bad drink but it’s a very good drink and good taste and everything and strong och Jesus, my daddy-in-law used to come down to me because we would make you know and he would finish his and I have pretty near all mine there and so finally he’d come down and say “You got some”, “Why do you want some” “Sure” I said, “Ain’t you got no more,” “No, mine’s finished”
AV: So what would you do
JS: So he come down one evening [blank space] and he wanted to take it from the spigot I said, no, no, no, that’s raw [blank space] I said, “There on the table I brought from the cellar, take that,” and he took a drink and I offered him from the black cherries I said, “There’s a good drink,” he said, “That’s for women,” because it was like wine, you know, I said, “You try it and see once, ” he takes, you know there used to be these tin-cups like a cup with a saucer, high on it, they are galvanized like and he took it and filled that in there and he drank it
AV inter JS –7– 7/9/72 Tape 18
and mind you he could drink he could empty a quart of moonshine in one evening like nuthin’ and he wouldn’t be drunk to be knocked out, you know so I egged him on to take it and he drank it and he sat down in the chair and he wasn’t sittin’ long not even 10 minutes so he gets up to go home and first thing, bango, he goes down on his hiner, he tried about 5 times and he said, “Son-of-a-bitches that’s a stronga,” I said, “Uh huh, now you know it’s strong,” so he know’d it was strong then so I had that 3 gallon–there was more than 3 gallon I think there were 2 gallon jugs, with these straw jugs yet, and a big handle on, old timers now they’d be antiques if you had them I had 3 of them yet and I said, “Jesus chrimers that line today you’d pay a hell of a price for that I said that’s strong and it’s good every way you wanted because it was good for your health and it was a good drink you’d get cock-eyed very easy I had it there for a while, my whiskey you know I used to make it and the people use to come after me they wanted to buy it off me and uh-uh, I wouldn’t sell I give them a drink always take a big glass and fill it up and that’s all you get, “well why won’t you sell me a bottle,” I said, “I see too many tricks gone on,” I said, “they guys go and get drunk and then they come home and their wife raises up hell I said I don’t want that I can do without that I don’t want no trouble in the family and then you get the blame for it because lots of them guys would go and get a drunk on someplace else then they come to you for another bottle [blank space] and there’re the guys that don’t know how to behave and they start a rumpus with their wives and kids, you know, and then the wife would say, where in the hell did he get it and he might say he got the drink there and then get you in trouble so I said, nup, I’ll make it, I’ll use it when I need it and give anybody a drink like that [blank space] well we’re home
AV: Well I guess this is it
JS: There’s a white car, that’s yours
AV: So what else can you make wine from in the woods
AV inter JS –8– 7/9/72 Tape 18
JS: Cherries, huckleberries, you can make it from huckleberries
AV: Is it good
JS: I’ll say it is, see I was surprised one time I was out and it was late towards the Fall already and it was comin’ huntin’ season too and I took my dogs up ahove here to run, and I walked in the brush there a little bit and there was these strip berries they were just layin’ down like bunches, handful like that and my mother used to like [“snake” is handwritten in a space here] out once in a while so if you want huckleberries right up here by the church,, right about the center I said, I said they lay in bunches so she went up and she picked them she was thinkin’ that the berry man was comin’ around but he didn’t come around so she went, I don’t know how much she had but she went and she made wine out of them and then at Christmas I guess, I came up there and she filled up a glass, you know, and she gave it to me and it looked to me like moonshine, I said I didn’t want that. I said, “Where did you get it,” “Never mind where I got it, taste it,” I said, “I don’t want none,” she said, “Go on just taste it, that’s not whiskey that’s wine,” so I took a taste of it and it was nice and a nice color I said, “Where did you get that wine,” she laughed and she said, “Guess” then she said, “I made it, you know them huckleberries you was tellin’ me about, I went and I picked them and then the berry man didn’t come in anymore so I made wine,” look at that little bunny sittin’ by that car, so I said, “Well that’s good wine, it’s dandy,” and you can make it from blackberries, black cherries that I said and there use to be lots of gooseberries one time in the brush and now since they don’t burn the brush I don’t see them in the brush like that. They use to call this mountain from all the way back where you go to Freeland all the way down to the ground hole down there, stripberry mountain, that used to be so loaded with stripberries my God you couldn’t tramp some place that’s how full of berries that was now it’s too thick, and chestnuts there would be a lot of
AV inter JS –9– 7/9/72 Tape 18
chestnuts up over that hill all the way out there’d be a little now but on the bushes they grow up so far and then they dry out then they grow up so far from the ground, from the root but one time they used to be big trees thick, you could hardly get your hands around them that’s how thick the trees were and chestnuts galore when they opened up them stickers and they’d fall to the ground my God the ground was full of ’em all you had to do was keep pickin’ ’em just pick them up and you could have chestnuts all winter and then the blight came on and killed all the big trees right out
AV: When did this happen
JS: Oh, 1920 that got rid of all the chestnut trees that was here from then on they started what they’d grow up maybe for 3 years and then die out [blank space] but you could get some chestnuts all the time but not like they were before, before you didn’t have to go in the brush lookin’ around just look where there was a big tree and go under it my God the ground was full of ’em
AV: What did you use those chestnuts for
JS: Eat them, somebody would eat them raw, they’d pick ’em and boil them or else if you was settin’ down maybe readin’ the paper or somethin’ put a fistful or two on top of the stove and they’d cook and when he was done he bounce up about so high and then you know’d he was done when he’d bounce up about so high and that shell would burst open and then you’d peel them and in them days like when you was fillin’ turkey they’d put them in to stuff
AV: You mean the skin would burst open and you’d leave the shell of the chestnut
JS: The shell would bounce open
AV: And you’d see the meat
JS: Yeh, and it was cooked, that’s why it opened it would crack just like a little shootin’ cracker it would bounce up like this, they’re good and they were alright they didn’t do no harm, nothin’ atall, never that you’d get a sore stomach or
AV inter JS –10– 7/9/72 Tape 18
somethin’ that’s what I say, you see these big chestnuts from Italy well these here used to be pert near as big as them
AV: What do you call that [blank space]
JS: Well before you go to the hill, you know well you go on this side of the banks, there’s a log road runnin’ in and he goes in there for swampers there’s a lot of swamper bushes in there
AV: Why do they like to grow there
JS: Well it’s like more damp there kind of mucky, if it rains you have to have some kind of boots because you’d get your feet wet
AV: So they grow in among those reeds and things
JS: Yeh where there’s more moisture and they like that better you know this road it used a lot
AV: Buck Mountain Road?
JS: Yeh a lot of cars go thru here
AV: This wasn’t here before, this Buck Mountain Road
JS: Oh yes
AV: When was it built
JS: Oh as long as I know, it used to be a dirt road before, now these ditches here they used to be deep oh hell they were about 4 or 5 feet deep and then there used to be a boardwalk across
AV: In front of each house
AV: How wide was the boardwalk, about 3 ft.
JS: About 3 or 4 feet, and the ditch was as wide as you see them stones there all the way down
AV: They won’t run us over
JS: So they had only dirt roads in and after they got goin’ they got, WPA put this road in then boys that had no work or anything they put that road in and that’s
AV inter JS –11– 7/9/72 Tape 18
in since and that has a good foundation under there
AV: Why did they have the deep ditches on each side of the road
JS: That’s the way they had it at one time now look, if I couldn’t do a better job than this I would quit now this is a contractor
AV: A [blank space] to put in the stones to put in the ditches but what did they use the ditches for
JS: When it rains hard that goes down that way, now this ain’t no ditch this is such a job
AV: But did they use it for a sewer system
JS: Yeh, all the water use to come and go down there, down through, right down, they were deeper than this is
AV: But where does the water go now that there’s no ditches
JS: It goes down someplace down there [blank space] when the rain was she said it was up pretty high in her cellar mine I got a little bit but [blank space]
AV: These grow all over the strippins, is this what you call the black root
AV: What’s this supposed to be good for
JS: For your brains
AV: The whole plant or just the root
JS: Just the root maybe they could use that, I don’t know, you know if somebody would take the son of a gun and sell it in the laboratories and let them test it and they’d tell you what the dam thing is
AV: Who told you about the roots being good
JS: My aunt and all the relations down through Philadelphia, and Jersey and all the way down that way they go after that like hell and they use it one guy was crippled real bad and he was usin’ it and he said it helps him
AV: How does he use it
AV inter JS –12– 7/9/72 Tape 18
JS: They take it and dig that out and wash the root and take the root and grate it you know, fine and you fry it with goose lard, tallow from some animals and make it like a plaster and put it on for your bones
AV: Do they leave the stuff on
JS: Yeh, leave it on like a mustard plaster
AV: Until when
JS: Well leave it on overnight then take it off and when you go to bed if it’s botherin’ you you put it on
AV: Do you bandage it, do you put it in a little envelope [blank space] like a plaster
JS: Yeh, yeh make up like a little bag [The following note is in the typewritten text: “a woman’s voice enters about here I take for granted that it’s Helen Fedorsha”]
HF: You go up that way and that’s the way he went for huckleberries
AV: Jim [blank space] place now that’s the railroad bank, and who is this Jim [blank space] why do they call it by that name
HF: He was a contractor, so he took the contract below the slate banks and they used to hoist the coal up there and load it in the cars and send it to Drifton
AV: And now no more, right
HF: You know before they used to work here around but now there’s only the strippins that’s only where they’re gettin’ the coal out
JS: [Blank space] put the poor miners on that coal you ought to see the big banks down there and [blank space] from Hazleton he’s the strippin’ contractor he got the contract to take them banks down, well he’s gettin’ paid so much for a ton [blank space] there’s 75% coal in this bank and I laughed at him and I said, “Yeh if you would have seen these banks before [blank space] but you know these banks as long as they’re here I said there were people pickin’ coal and the dirt and the boney, the slate
AV inter JS –13– 7/9/72 Tape 18
push it on the side and takin’ [blank space] and they have it picked out so far but I said down below, naturally, that’s pert near all coal.
HF: Sit and rest yourself, take a rest
AV INTERVIEWING HELEN FEDORSHA 7/18/72
AV: What’s a clothespin party
HF: I was just in my early teens when I was invited to a clothespin party and we were so dumb we didn’t know what a clothespin party is we had to ask and we were told that the clothespin, you take the clothespin and dress it in the same kind of material your dress is you’re wearin’ to the party, when you get down to the party everyone puts the clothespin into the box that is there and when it is time to have dinner the fellows go and they pick out clothespins and whatever kind of clothespin they get they have to look for the girl that is dressed in that kind of dress, regardless of who you get you got to go with and then of course they would lead you into, they had a pretty big lunch, lead you in to the table but then after dinner was over you could associate with anyone you wanted to but to go to dinner that was your partner.
AV: What kind of dinner was it
HF: Oh dear I can’t remember all that it was but I know they put on a pretty good dinner that time, everyone didn’t do that you usually got oh just some refreshments but this was in John Godisha’s house, John Godisha’s brother, his wife was throwin’ the party for her sister and it was down in that place some considered the hotel, if that was a hotel or not I don’t know but it was in that place where they had the party and there was nice big rooms there and we just though we were somebody
AV: You really went to that clothespin party
HF: Oh yeh I was there and our Anna was there every teenage girl in town was there, oh yes indeed
AV: How old might you have been
AV inter. H. FEDORSHA -14- [ 7/??/72] Tape 18
HF Very early teens, I must have been more than 14 because 14 is when the war ended and this was after I was 14 in August and the war ended in November so I might have been about 16 or so but not much more
AV You dressed the clothespin
HF In the same kind of material as my dress was made of
AV How would you dress it would you wrap it around or would you try to make it look like a dress
HF No I didn’t know how I was going to go about it but I saw the other girls doin’ it they just took and they had a piece of material a square of material and they just draped it around the heads of the clothespin or a little bit of material they could make a bow on it and or how else would you dress a clothespin you can’t
AV You didn’t try to make it look like a doll, you just wrapped it
HF No just wrap it, the way the clothespin is no arms on it so we took and draped this material over the clothespin and wrapped it around here to hold on there and tied it with either a string or if you had a little piece of material of the dress you could tie a teenie little bow on there, I don’t know what I tied it with but I know I used the same material that I had for the dress or I wouldn’t have had a partner, oh yes and we were big shots and when we were comin’ home about 11 o’clock we thought that was realy something, we were out late
AV And did you have enough material to wrap the clothespin
HF Oh yes, well the dress was homemade and we had material left over, you never bought just exactly what you needed for a dress it was always some left for patches
AV And how did you got about it at the party
HF Well I, you just mingled around together, you played games and if there was anyone around, well we all knew each other because we all lived in one town
AV inter H.F. -15- 7/8/72 Tape 18
you would talk, and then, well you didn’t go down till it was dark already I guess about 7
AV What kind of party was it
HF Well there was nothing formal about it I can tell you that everyone just acted like themselves nobody put on the dog
AV Was it a birthday party
HF I don’t know why she threw that party, I don’t remember that’s such a long, long time ago
AV Why do you think they used this business of clothespins
HF They must have heard about it from somewhere because she had a sister that was working away from here and they must have got the idea from somebody because nobody in town ever had it and I don’t think anybody in town after that had it there wasn’t too many parties thrown here now and then there would be a party there was one one time for Mrs. [??????] her parents threw a party
AV A birthday pary
HF I don’t know if it was a birthday party or what kind of party it was was it just to have the young people meet or what it was I don’t know but I know I was at that party too because after all we were old time neighbors
AV Well what kind of ways beside this did the girls get to meet the boys
HF Just here in town on a Sunday night we would take a walk up the street and up there where it’s all settled here right up in my alley well the choir house, see this row that goes to Buck Mountain now that used to be an alley that wasn’t a road the main road used to come up from Freeland and then it used to turn off to the right to the left if you’re comin’ in from Freeland you’d have to turn to your right, up there where now they have it fenced off to go to the breaker where all that black dirt is there well that was the road and that used to go right past Boots Fair goes there and old Mrs. [??????] used to live in the house on the Back Street
AV inter H.F. -16- 7/8/72 Tape 18
and that road used to go the all the way up to the colliery office and you could turn off to go to the Back Street then you could also go right up to the office and to go to Buck Mountain you went up that way and up the Back Street and went off up there where Annie Timko lives you’d turn off to go to Buck Mountain this was any alley until WPA came in and they made that a road there and I don’t know for what reason they didn’t tar the Back Street there was some reason for it I don’t know so the state had taken over this road so they tarred it and they made the bridges and all
AV And this was the route that was used for what?
HF Anyone going to Buck Mountain and going to Weatherly you had to go this way
AV And this is the way you went on your evening walks
HF We used to take a walk up the Back Street iif we were from the Back Street we’d take a walk up as far as Susie Fatula’s and every house had a fence around it just like you see the fence down there around Hoopers only our fence used to go down right to the ground the boards, but the top board, they don’t have the top board down here, on our fences, on the very top we had the top board and sometimes the board was slanted but up by Susie Fatulas the board was flat and that was a good place to sit we used to sit there like chickens on a roost we’d be sittin’ up there and sing and talk and the boys didn’t go out of town either becuase there wasn’t any transportation and there wasn’t anything going on in Freeland unless, I don’t even know if they had movies on Sunday at that time, or not
AV Well what class of people used to do this
HF All classes, well some of the Irish did, Margaret Maloney did Anna Denion did, Mary Gaffney did
AV Well what about people like Nellie O’Donnell
HF No they were reserved
AV Were they really separate from the community like that
HF Well they didn’t do those things they kept to themselves more
AV inter H.F. -17- 7/8/72 Tape 18
AV Who besides Nellie O’Donnell kept to themselves
HF Well Bridgie and then her sister Loretta I never say her outlike that either
AV And did they have this custom of sitting on the swing in the afternoon in the garden
HF No they didn’t because Nellie was teaching school when I started school when I was in the first grade Nellie was teaching school then already and so was her brother John and Ralph Ellis, you know Ralph Ellis, well his mother was teaching second grade Miss Gaffney was my teacher in the first grade, she was from Freeland and Kate Houser she was then teacher in the second grade
AV This was when they had the school in the other end of town
HF Yes, so Nellie was teaching down there already and she taught until just a couple years ago, she was a marvelous teacher
AV Well she was regarded as a separate class, more reserved, why, because they were so rich
HF No I just think they didn’t have time for anything like that they could meet people otherwise, this way all you met were very young boys and naturally you were a bit older than that so you met just the very young boys we were never serious about them we’d sit up there all in a bunch and kid and sing and talk about different things
AV They were mixed groups
HF Yes, and I’ve often wondered that Susie Fatula never got annoyed with us she slept downstairs in the front room and there we were sittin’ on the fence and the fence was just about like from this door over to the cupboard from the house we used to be there talkin’ and carrying on and she never said a word about it today they’d give you a chase
AV These other classes of people up at the other end of town besides Nellie O’Donnell who else was considered separate class like the Bachmans
HF The Bachman were a separate class the [?????] didn’t associate with anyone
AV inter H.F. -18- 7/8/72 Tape 18
like that, when, oh I don’t know what her name was I forget, she was a Berbic girl and she got goin’ around with a Slovak Lutheran fellow and they were our neighbor across the street and her parents were very much upset about it that she married him and her mother was a very dominating person she was a pretty tall woman she wasn’t what you consider flabby fat
AV What was her name, Berbic?
HF Mrs. James Berbic I don’t know what her first name was but the daughter that married Johnnie Ondic well I don’t know what her name was, I knew her there was a Jennie, I’m just wondering if that wasn’t Jennie, there was a Jennie and there was Mildred, Mildred was the youngest, she was so thin, she was so delicate, you’d think that a good wind would blow her away she was spic and span all the time and she was a delicate person and I think it was Jennie that married Johnnie Ondic I don’t know, he didn’t stay down there no time at all and they were separated of course the mother was very very domineering
AV Now why didn’t she want the marriage to take place
HF Because he was Slovak
AV Is that all, not because he wasn’t rich enough
HF I don’t think so, I think it was because he was Slovak and the old man was the breaker foreman he was the outside foreman I should say and they lived in that house were Irene Sergonis livin’ now and they didn’t associate with anyone like that because none of them, I can’t remember the other one’s name, I think Jennie was married to Johnnie Ondic so then Johnnie left here and he went out to Minneapolis, Minnesota and he ended up in Minneapolis and he married there and he raised a family, Johnnie’s dead now not too many years ago
AV Well these other classes of people at the other end of town how else were they separated from the rest, in school for example were the kids different
HF All together
AV Didn’t they have better clothes
AV inter. H.F. -19- 7/8/72 Tape 18
HF Yes they had better clothes
AV Did that make any difference
HF No not to any of the kids it didn’t make any difference, we all understood that they were better off than we were they had more money they could afford that we couldn’t so we never envied them we never, we weren’t separated in school – sitting with them, when you were assigned to sit you sit there regardless, whoever was sittin’ in front of you or who was sitting along side of you or anything that didn’t make any differences, everyone was alike and to the teacher everyone was alike, if you deserved a scolding you got it whoever you were, like now they talk about integration and all that, we were all alike, there were a few Italian children went, very few, because the only [??????} family that lived here in town was the Bartols and the Italian children were from Buck Mountain and they didn’t ride they walked from Buck Mountain to school there was no riding.
AV Now you say the teacher played everybody fair what about the kids, did they play with these richer kids
HF Oh yes, yes indeed during recess time everyone played together the only thing is that Mildred Berbic the one I said was so delicate, she was tall and thin and a very delicate person, the only thing was her sister used to lead her up to school she used to take care of her otherwise when it was at school everyone played together there was no picking out, you’re better than I am, or I’m better than you are and I can’t associate with you
AV Well now these Bachman girls that sat out in the lawn in the afternoon with their white dresses just swinging and not doing any work didn’t you resent that
HF I didn’t even know them at that time
AV Do you think the people in town resented that because their girls couldn’t do that.
HF I don’t think so because in that end of the town where they were living, they were living in the house where Ralph Ellis lives, and yes the Bachmans lived there and the Audrey, yes Mr. Audrey lived there, and then those homes, that is a single
AV inter HF -20- 7/8/72 Tape 18
home and the next home is a single home also well when I remember it Granny Davis was living in that home and then the next home where Bruno Lagonosky lives was another single home and that was always occupied by Wass’s and then farther down near where Piper Ferko used to live in that single I home I said I thought that should be taken care of because it was laid out beautifully and then the next house, that is torn down now well I think Mrs. Bachman said she used to live in that place, that’s torn down now, well that was all bosses lived now across the street already it was ordinary people that lived but on that side it was all bosses even where Clifford Falatko is living now Henry Jane lived in there but before Henry Jane I don’t know who lived in there before because there was a lot that came from Wales and they knew mining and they were foremen so they all lived that way so I don’t remember I was too young to know any of those when they went to school, I remember when Stella [??????] went to school that was Mr. Aubrey’s granddaughter she lived in that place they considered the hotel she lived in there and Aubrey, well his name was William but we always called him him Aubrey Dumtra he lived in there too and Aubrey’s living in Hazleton now he’s working in fhe factory where I worked for years he worked there longer than I did because when I came to work there Aubrey was working there already and I was there almost 47 years well Aubrey retired a short time before me and now he’s living in Hazleton, he’s the one Mrs. Bachman was talking about so Stella Dumtra wasn’t any different than anyone else, the only thing different about her was she had a crippled hand, she had a hand that, I can’t remember, it was her right hand, but I don’t think it every grew but how she could comb her hair, you know they didn’t have bobbed hair at that time and how she could comb her hair was beyond me when they already moved to Freeland and they were living on Reed Street and she was ticket seller at the [ ??????] and her hair was always done up beautifully and she always did it up herself now how she managed don’t know with that crippled hand and she’d dead now I understand
AV inter. HF -21- 7/8/72 Tape 18
AV And did Sophia Coxe help her out any when she came around
HF Oh no, I don’t know because Stella was in a class ahead of me, way ahead of me and then I didn’t know Stella that well not until she was ticket seller at the [blank space] and that they used to live at Eckley so Stella was always dressed so neat I talked to Aubrey a number of times and I told him she was a remarkable person with a cripple hand like that and she could get herself dressed so neatly and her hair done up so nice and it wasn’t just combed straight back it was really combed up nice and Aubrey’s mother died well maybe it’s 3 years ago and maybe it’s not that long she was I think 91 years old when she died
AV What did the kids do on Hallowe’en around here
HF Oh they use to dress up and visit homes, sure
AV Even when you were kids did they do that
HF They did it then already you don’t because we don’t have any kids in town
AV What did you do when you were small
HF I didn’t go around visiting homes I didn’t, one year we dressed up a little but we didn’t visit any homes we just did it for fun we would watch the other kids go around and somehow it was a different kind of world because I remember every Hallowe’en we had a beautiful moon it used to be so light you didn’t need a flashlight or anything, it was really beautiful but you could have a lot of fun with the kids because they would dress up and they’d go around where they knew the people wouldn’t holler at them and take them in and when they got in one would say a little poem of some sort or other then they would sing something and you would either give them money or, a lot of the younger families knew the tradition better than the old people because the old people didn’t have that in Europe so they didn’t know that much about it but then the younger families our Anna already when she was married they, towards Hallowe’en, when it was coming to Hallowe’en time she always made sure she had a lot of popcorn bought and apples and different things and they would give the children one Hallowe’en there was a bunch of
AV inter HF -22- 7/8/72 Tape 18
kids come in there and they would tell one another, you know the groups would tell one another, that’s a good house to go into so you’d have them coming all evening and this one night I was up there and I don’t know what our Anna was doin’ and my brother-in-law was there in the kitchen and the kids come and they said “Can we sing,” and he said “I don’t know can you” “Can we sing” and he said, “I don’t know if you can or not” so after he lead them on that way for awhile they said “May we sing” and he said “Now that’s different” so after they were all done singing you could recognize the kids and they stood there and what ever one had to say a piece to say or a little joke or a little riddle and they carried a bag around with themselves and they waited and my brother-in-law said, “Well what are you waiting for,” and they just looked at one another and no one had the nerve to say well we’re waitin’ to get paid and then after a while he called Annie and she would give them apples, popcorn and money and they’d be goin’ out so happy becase they got money and they got a treat and they had a lot of fun becuase when he was tellin’ them I don’t know if you can sing, they would giggle to themselves
AV How much money would yu give them
HF Well that would all depend oh at that time a dime was a lot of money
AV A dime each
HF No but Joe Fatula would give them a dime but after you took the tinsel off the aluminum foil then it was a penny. Mrs. Timko’s son Mike, we use to call him [??????}, he had a bunch were goin’ around and this was the year my brother in-law was killed, and Joe Fatula was sittin’ there we were all in the outside shanty and the kitchen wasn’t built right on to the shanty there was a space between them so the kids come to the door and, “May we sing?”, “Alright” so Joe Fatula did the paying off and oh the night before he spent time gettin’ the tin foil off of cigareet packages and puttin’ it on pennies so he of course gave them the money as they were goin’ out Mushal Timko went out dancin’ “Oh we got
A. V. inter H.F. –23– 7/18/72 Tape 18
a dime, we got a dime,” so after that Joe waited for a while till at the end of town they’d have to count the money and share it so he went home and they had a side porch that use to face this road there was a swing there and he was sittin’ on the swing and as I said somehow or other we used to have a beautiful moon and he was sittin’ there and when they were done there was a group of them there was the Sherban girls, and the girls and the boys went around together so they sat down on that little bridge across the ditch and they started to count and share the money well they found out it wasn’t a dime, they took it very good naturedly they wanted to know he did it and Joe was sittin’ on the swing takin’ it all in there are some houses for Halloween they keep their outside light on so the children would see how to come in and for a while before Halloween they’d start gatherin’ candy and things to give them
AV: Well you yourself never went out for Halloween but who were the people who did go out
HF: School kids, I didn’t think I wanted to take part in it
AV: Did you have permission to go if you wanted to , why didn’t you want to do it
HF: I just didn’t have the knack of dressin’ up that way, you know they use to blacken their faces with charcoal and I just didn’t think, I never had that ambition to do those things, I guess I just wasn’t artistic
AV: Well what did they use to dress like
HF: Well some of them would come dressed like their mothers the long gathered dresses and of course they would all have a mask on their face and some would come around like colored people and have their face all blackened and some of them would be dressed in any kind of old raggedy clothes and no matter what they put on everything was fine, you didn’t have to dress up fancy, they use to have those little things across their eyes, masks,
AV: Did they use to make those or buy them
HF: They use to buy them in any of the candy stores you could buy them, around
A.V. inter. H.F. –24– 7/18/72 Tape 18
Halloween, they’d start to sell them
AV: They didn’t dress up like somebody, like characters
HF: No, our Joseph did at first one year in school and they were having a party up at school and they were supposed to dress, well he dressed in our Anna’s dress and her apron and at that time the women use to wear what they called a dust-cap for in the house they wouldn’t want their hair especially if they were cookin’ blowin’ around or anything well some of the caps were made on the order of some of the nursing caps they had this little brim on here and some of them were made round just like you’d take a round plate and make a round circle and then about this far in from the edge you would put a casing and put elastic around you’d measure the elastic around your head and draw the elastic around and you’d have that ruffle on wherever that elastic would go in there it would pull it on and most of the women would wear those or there was a cap, we made quite a few they were made sort of long and they had like a cuff on it with a ruffle around it and they had 2 button holes and buttons and you would button those things back to iron, to wash or iron them you’d open them flat and when you wanted to wear them you’d button up those buttons on them and there was a little bit of elastic in the back and that would fit your head and Joseph had that on his head and he had Annie’s dress and Annie’s apron on and I came in that evening and we were up at school, rather it was that afternoon and I came up there, and I would have swore it was our Annie he does resemble Annie more than [“the rest” is crossed out, “any of them” appears to be handwritten above in faint handwriting] he looked just like our Annie and I said, “Well I’ll be doggoned I never saw that before,” but he looked just like her and then later years the ladies for Halloween when the mothers got a little more sophisticated then they started making costumes for their children there was our Anna, I don’t know what grade she was in but she was small yet
AV: You mean your sister Anna’s daughter
HF: And we made her a bunny rabbit costume with a little ball of a tail
A.V. inter. H.F. –25– 7/18/72 Tape 18
AV: What year was that about
HF: Oh I don’t know I’d say she was 7 or 8
AV: That was before the Second War
HF: Oh yes, that was before the Second World War
AV: And did the other kids have costumes on Hallween at that time
HF: They would put on whatever they had, but in later years if they didn’t make them at home they’d buy them in Berry’s or somewhere, even now kids will dress in most anything because they have a Halloween Parade here and last year they weren’t going to have the parade, I don’t know for what reason, didn’t Hazle Area School District want to give it to them, because the others don’t have a parade but see when Freeland was a separate place, Foster Twp was separate and Freeland Borough was separate but the two would have parades, Freeland High School has a High School Band and that band used to lead the parade and then the cheerleaders from the basketball game they would march in front and they would have these batons to twirl and then when they went in the Hazle Area School District, didn’t they want to give them the day or not but people put in a complaint they wanted the parade I make it my business to go up there and see the parade since I’m not workin’, when I was workin’ I couldn’t see it but after I wasn’t workin’ any more I try to make it my business to watch the parade because you really got a lot of fun out of it
AV: Well back in the old days did they have Halloween parties too like playing some games like dunkin’ the apple
HF: Not that I know of
AV: So that was just to go around dressed in old clothes and collect candy and money
HF: I think the bigger ones would sooner have parties like that if they had them I don’t know of any that had them I don’t know of any parties that were held here
AV: When did the kids start going around at Halloween, at what age
HF: Well already my neighbors Rosie was already in my place
A.V. inter. H.F. –26– 7/18/72 Tape 18
AV: But I mean in the older days
HF: Well when they started goin’ to school they’d go with their bunch that they played with and everything so that’s how they use to go around in bunches
AV: And they stopped at what age in the old times
HF: After they were around 12, then I guess they didn’t think it was too good to go around, they were getting to be young ladies
AV: Well the boys went too didn’t they
HF: They went in the bunch with the girls, they went around together
AV: Did they associate more like grades together or how
HF: No it was where you lived the kids in that area would all play together would all associate together and whether if you were from downtown or uptown that’s how, we didn’t really go too far from home whenever we did play we were out on the street but we were within calling distance even when it was time to go home you were called and you made sure you heard
AV: Well Mike Hartz was telling me how they use to have gangs of boys the upstreeters and the downstreeters
HF: Well I don’t remember that, Mrs. Timko did say, I don’t know who it was she used to deliver milk to, and she said whenever they use to take milk over to the Main Street here and them kids up there would tell them, “You Back Streeters go home,” but I never heard that down at our end of the town
AV: Was there kind of a rivalry between the Back Street kids and the Main Street kids
HF: Not that I know of, I know that after I got older and there were a few times there were fellows from Jeddo or Drifton that would come over here and they would walk around with some of the girls well then the Eckley boys wouldn’t like that and every chance they had they’d give them a chase
AV: But there wasn’t any rivalry between Irish and the Slovaks
HF: No I never saw that
AV: But the kids stayed together by neighborhood, ones that lived close to each other
A.V. inter. H.F. –27– 7/18/72 Tape 18
HF: Well then when you went to school, kids that were in your class you would associate with them a lot more than anyone else
AV: Even the ones that lived near you
HF: Yes, but in the evenings the kids didn’t go around like that because there wasn’t any lights and naturally there was no danger tho, but as I said you had to be within calling distance of your home if they thought it was time for you to come in they gave you a call
AV: What time did you kids get out to play in the evening
HF: Right after supper
AV: In your house, about what time
HF: Around, or before 5, we’d go out on the street and whatever we were playin’ and all of our playin’ was done on the street, right in the middle, because there wasn’t any cars
AV: And there wasn’t any yards to play in
HF: They were all planted in the summertime then even if they’d be yards there was some games you couldn’t play in yards
AV: Such as
HF: Well hide and seek they would go back of fences or back of trees but not if the garden was planted they wouldn’t go in and we’d make a circle and we’d sing Farmer in the Dell
AV: Where would you play that
HF: In the middle of the street and there wasn’t any cars and after a certain hour the grocer wasn’t comin’ around the butcher wasn’t comin’ around so there was no horse, no wagon, no nuthin’ so you had a free rein
AV: Did you play nipsies in the middle of the street too
HF: Yeh, only I can’t remember, I have to ask our Annie, I can’t, I know we used to make a circle and put the nipsy in the middle of the circle but did we make another
A.V. inter. H.F. –28– 7/9/72 Tape 18
how far we hit the nipsy, I don’t remember, for the life of me, I don’t remember
AV: You played with 2 point nipsy, is that right
HF: Yeh 2 point
AV: Were they flat-sided or rounded
HF: They were rounded
AV: And did they have notches in them or not
HF: Ours never had notches in them our Daddies would just make them in a hurry
AV: They would whittle them with their penknives, right
HF: Whittle with their penknives
AV: What would they make them out of
HF: Well mostly from a broomstick because you had to have it round or it would have to take a lathe to have a piece of lumber and cut it round the way a nipsy should be they were usually made from a broom handle or if on rakes or hoes if the handle broke on there you couldn’t use it anymore well naturally you’d make a nipsy out of it
AV: Did you ever hear of them made out of a blind roller, like these things that go up and down here
HF: They’re too light
AV: And did you have enough broomsticks to go around to make nipsies
HF: Oh there was plenty of brooms because there was no sweepers you had to use a broom for everything
AV: Were there enough old ones to make nipsies from
HF: Naturally the brooms used to wear out and, oh indeed they wear out and in that time there was no sweeper, if you wanted to keep your house clean everything had to be done with a broom, everything had to be swept with a broom
AV: What was a life span of a broom, how long did it last
HF: Well that all depended on the grade of the broom see some brooms last longer
A.V. inter. H.F. –29– 7/18/72 Tape 18
it all depends on how they’re made sometimes they’re not made well enough and they would fall out or if you mistreated the broom but under furniture it broke the cord that was holdin’ that naturally your broom would wear out faster this one I had a long time but it isn’t used so much everything is the sweeper with the exception of the shanty or the shed
AV: Well in the old days then they used to take the broom to every room in the house
HF: Usually you had one broom and if you had carpets, you had no rugs, you lifted up your carpets and dusted them out if you had a room covered with carpets well then you swept over top of the carpets and you dusted your furniture and there was a guy around here couple years ago selling sweepers and tryin’ to say “You don’t want your child to crawl around on the dirty carpets do you and get sick,” I said, “If you get sick I don’t know because I crawled around on dirty carpets when I was a child and there’s nothing wrong with me, I said one of the doctors said, dirt is one of the best thing a child could eat,” and that’s true because my cousin Betty used to sit in the garden and she used to eat dirt by the mouthful and she used to get terribly constipated and her mother then told the doctor about it and the doctor said, “Don’t worry about it that’s the best thing she could eat.”
AV: Which doctor is this
HF: Over in Ashley, he said, “That’s the best thing she can eat.”
AV: Well when you had carpets on the floor you used to sweep over the carpets you didn’t take them out and shake them
HF: Well if the carpets were so that you could pick them up and shake them but sometimes people got a little more sophisticated well then they would have their whole parlor covered with carpet, you’d have it tacked down so then you would sweep over it
AV: So how long would a broom last about, if it was a good broom
HF: I haven’t any idea
A.V. inter. H.F. –30– 7/18/72 Tape 18
AV: About a week
HF: Oh no it would last longer than that
AV: A couple of months like
HF: With care, yes
AV: Maybe 3 months
HF: Yes I think so then if you did a lot of sweeping and we did, because on a Saturday up the yard, now there’s stones up the yard and grass, those days there wasn’t
AV: You mean up to the out-house
HF: Way up to the coal shed, then you swept that whole path clean, you could walk in your bare feet on there
AV: What was that made out of
AV: You mean you swept the dirt
HF: It was so tamped in that it was solid, well then you swept that path on a Saturday, where there were young girls and if that wasn’t swept clean then you were considered you were lazy, and out front, like out here where there’s side walk, but you can’t sweep there because Paramount messed it they put that dam clay on there but it was just plain dirt and you swept that all the way out, well even part way on the road
AV: Where would you sweep it to
HF: You’d leave it out on the road and when the wagons would come along they would tamp it in
AV: Well whose duty was this to sweep these sidewalks and dirt
HF: The girls of the house
AV: The young ones like 14 years old
HF: Uh huh
AV: Did girls younger than that do that too
A.V. inter. H.F. –31– 7/18/72 Tape 18
HF: If they were big enough and some of them would pick up things much faster they could do it
AV: Do you mean 9 or 10 or later than that
HF: Oh I think even at 9 you can do it
AV: And did you do it at that age
HF: I don’t know how old I was, I know I did it
AV: It wasn’t a mother’s job to sweep
HF: She had too much work to do around the house she didn’t do that sweeping there was entirely too much else to do she was really occupied
AV: These young ones would do without being told
HF: Well you had your jobs to do and you tried to do it and then if you saw one in one house having it done then you felt you should do it too because it looked like hake [sic]
AV: You mean you just did it because it looked nice
HF: That was the reason for it
AV: When you were a little girl did you do it because it looked nice or because you had to do it
HF: So it would look nice, so that the place would look clean
AV: These men with the wagons that you said came around in the streets and tamped it down who were they
HF: Well it was the grocers, the butchers, whoever else came in the town
AV: Oh I see it wasn’t special guys
HF: No you didn’t see all this litter around goin’ along and they throw paper around you didn’t see that, it seems that most of the people were foreigners but still in all they kept things clean if they would do that today you wouldn’t have all that mess around the highways and they claim that over in New York and Central Park there’s such a mess
AV: What did the young girls around the house have to do besides sweep the walk
7/18/72 Tape 18
AV inter H.F.
HF: Whatever the mother couldn’t get done the girls in the house they helped whatever there was around to be done you had to help out
AV: Such as, what kind of tasks did you do as a girl
HF: I, my job when I come home from school was go upstairs and bring the lamp down from upstairs and wash the chimney of the lamp, trim the wick see if there was enough coal oil in the lamp and wipe all the dust off of the lamp and put it back upstairs again, and the kitchen lamp the same thing had to be done so that was my job as soon as I came home from school and our Anna’s job was to bring down what coal my mother would need for the next day, Anna would have to carry it down from the coal shed
AV: How many buckets
HF: Oh I wouldn’t remember how many buckets
AV: It would be more than one bucket though
HF: Yes, and after that whatever else had to be done like washing dishes there was a lot of work to do because almost everyone had a cow and it was a job to milk her, to feed her to keep the stable clean because very few people would 1st their cow law in their own waste because then their sides were all coated with it and that was a shame so almost everyone, very, very few done that, almost everyone kept their cows real clean and brushed
AV: Whose job was that to clean the stable and clean the cows
HF: The man of the house or if there was boys in the house usually the man of the house did it then if there was pigs the pigs had to be fed the mother would mix the things up for you in the bucket, wooden buckets, and it would be carried up and there was a trough and it would be poured in the trough and the pigs would line up and they would eat
AV: Did you feed the pigs
HF: Oh many trimes I carried feed for the pigs to eat
AV: Was that specifically your job
7/18/72 Tape 18
AV inter H.F.
HF: No whenever they needed help you just helped with whatever there was to be done when there was work to be done and the mother couldn’t take care of it all then you had to help and you didn’t say no because you were taught that they were your parents and you had to respect them and do what you were told and so you’d go ahead and do it you wouldn’t say, “Oh I can’t do it I have here or there to go,” you did it
AV: Did you do it because you wanted to help your parents or you’d ger smashed if you didn’t
HF: Well I was never punished for it, never but when there was work to be done we would help out whenever we possibly could
AV: So there was really a spirit of wanting to help your parents because of the respect for them, at least in your family
HF: You had respect for them
AV: You didn’t do it just because you feared their punishment
HF: No, I was never punished, my dad never punished me, my mother slapped me once, only once that I remember and that’s because I had St. Vitus Dance and my hands wouldn’t do what I wanted them to so I couldn’t comb my own hair and I used to have my hair combed here with 2 braids here and 2 braids here and tied up with ribbons and my mother was pullin’ them back a little too tight and I didn’t like it so I made a fuss about it I was sittin’ on the chair and she was in back of the chair combin’ my hair so I got a slap and made my nose bleed but that was the only slap I ever got from her never because when she was senile and bed fast she wouldn’t listen to me and I’d say to her, “Well Mamma I’m just going to do with you like you did to me.”
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Eva Sulkusky 8/27/74
The hat was lined and a ribbon put on it to tie under the chin.
Eva has an unusual braided rug. Mr. Baum[?] knows how to make it. It seems to be made by plaiting 9 strands from the center continuously. There are no seams. This wasn’t done in Eckley but it may be a local coal region craft.
Quilts were filled with a heavy layer of cotton batting for additional warmth. Sheet blankets were sometimes used. Old woolen blankets were often used as the filling but these would be tied[?] not quilted.
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8/11/72 Eva Sulkusky Religious faith, belief
10:20- 12:30 pm.
Eva showed a worn scapular of the “Sacred Heart of Jesus” and said that she wore this whenever she went out into the woods, to protect her. The scapular protects her from anything dangerous that might possibly happen. She said, specifically, that she was especially afraid of snakes. The scapular protects her from poisonous snakes, so she doesn’t accidentally find one or step on one.
She wears it pinned to her slip in front, indicating the left side of the slip, near the top.
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A. Varesano inter. Eva Sulkusky 8/ 8/72 4:00-7:30 pm.
(Bread without potatoes)
Put some butter & milk on stove to warm–2 tablesps or more of butter. Heat on stove slowly till it gets hot.
When butter & milk gets hot, puts cold water–about 1 cup to cool off the mixture. Don’t make too hot or cold–I always test it with my elbow or the back (underside) of my wrist.
Put 2 cakes of yeast, sugar (1/2 cup) & salt (about a fist of salt).
(Salt is what gives a bread taste–if you put in too much it won’t raise, if you put in too little, it won’t have a taste.)
Stir with hand & add to flour in a pan or pot.
Mix with hands & punch bread dough from sides up & inward down in the center. Stiffen until the bread comes off your hands–if it sticks, add more flour. Watch don’t make it too stiff, but don’t make it too thin. If it’s too thin, you can use it for coffee cake & nut rolls, but for bread, need it stiffer.
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Dough must not be too stiff, either.
For buns: sticky buns & cinnamon buns, you need thinner dough.
Stiffening takes about 1/2 hour.
The longer you stiffen, the better the bread is, the better the texture.
Separate & form into loaves to fit bread pans. Make it to be less than 1/2 to fill the pan: roll out dough into a fat roll & push ends down into middle & repeat.
Put in greased pans (lard or Crisco)
Let rise in a warm kitchen on a surface that has heavy cloth or coat on surface. Cover with plastic or a towel. Put a blanket on top to keep warm. When it’s risen, the pan is light when you lift it. But don’t bump the pan, or it will fall down.
Bake in 325 degree oven until gets browned.
Slice potatoes in 1/2 or 3/4 inch slices.
Put some oil in frying pan, + heat till is hot. pot in slices + Cover pan with lid. Brown on both sides.
Serve with meat.
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Dissolve yeast in warm water (about 1 cup)
Add mashed up potatoes & its water to flour, sugar (1/2 cup), salt & yeast as before.
Add an egg if you want (In olden times, we didn’t put any eggs in. We had different yeast–home-made yeast).
Stiffen & let raise.
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Pork & Cabbage
Cut pnd of pork chops in 1/2 or 1 inch slices.
Put on stove in pot to boil in water to cover. Boil for a while, simmer about 1 hour.
Add onions (sliced), salt, pepper & cabbage (chopped).
If you wish, put in sauerkraut.
Cabbage: amount to taste.
Cook till cabbage is done.
If you want, make Zaprashka:
2 tablespoons (heaped) of butter in frying pan or saucepan & melt.
Take 2 tablespoons of flour & add. Mix till the mixture is heated & brown.
Put in some juice from pork & mix slowly, cook it through.
Pour into pork & cabbage & mix.
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1 quart & 1 pint currants
Wash berries (Eva rinsed it twice)
(All the dirt come up & floats)
Put in a pot.
Crush by “squishing” with hands.
Cook over low-medium heat to get the juice out.
Cook it through, stirring so it doesn’t scorch.
Scum it. Cooking takes about 5-6 min.
Strain by use of a cheesecloth bag, made with double-thickness of cheesecloth. (Bag is 2 inches wider & 2 inches longer than this tablet sheet).
Other jellies are prepared the same way.
Apple jelly: Apples must be cut up in pieces & covered with water.
Strain just into a bowl by spreading edges of the bag over sides & pouring in mixture. Tie up top of bag. Suspend it over the bowl & let the [blank space]
Most made are grape, raspberry, apple, currant jelly
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juice drip into bowl. (Eva tied the bag to the handle of a kitchen cabinet.)
[Below the words above is a drawing showing an upper kitchen cabinet, a cheesecloth bag, and a bowl. The cabinet has two doors with handles toward the bottom of the doors that are a little closer to the center line between the doors. There is a set of 3 open shelves attached to and to the right of the cabinet. The tied cheesecloth bag is tied to the left handle. It hangs below the cabinet and is dripping into a bowl below.]
“That’s the way we always did it.”
Let it drip till it cools.
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Squeeze out juice when it cools & sometimes she used to leave it hanging overnight, then squeeze it out.
Jars used are coffee & jelly jars from store.
Boil water to scald the jars. Prepare jars by washing in soapy water, rinsing, & “scald them out” by pouring hot boiling water in them, then dumping it out.
Heat juice in pan on stove, high heat.
(Berries made 2 1/2 cups juice)
To this, she adds 2 1/2 cups sugar
She adds same amount of sugar as juice, no matter what kind of juice it is.
Adds 1/2 package (wt. 1 3/4 oz.) of “Certo” (i.e., “Sure Jell”) to juice. Stir in to dissolve.
Add sugar & stir in after each cupful.
Heat till it boils, turn down heat & cook. Scum it after it boils for about 3 minutes–scum accumulates toward center of pot on a rolling boil. Cook until, when a spoonful is put on a plate, it gels.
(In old days, she didn’t use Certo, but just had to cook it longer, stirring, until it gelled on a plate.)
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If you’re going to keep it for a long time, put “wax” (paraffin) melted, on the top of the jar.
Let cool in jars–then screw on the lids.
[This page is handwritten. At the top of the left margin is the word “Shots”. Below it are numbers next to descriptions of photographs]
A. Varesano 8/8/72 4-7:30 pm. Eva Sulkusky
5,6: Draining berries for juice
7: Last Supper in kitchen, got from a neighbor up town who died; this was in ’67. Hung in kitchen because this picture should be where you eat. Other picture of Last Supper. Has pictures in kitchen so gets satisfaction of seeing them around, when she prays in kitchen.
8: Picture of DVM, had for a long time–2 years or so. She bought it. She hates to throw them out, so she finds a place. Keeps holy calendar over sink so she can see the dates.
9, 10: Holy things on sewing machine–It isn’t bad to get rid of them (by burning).
(Also has rosary society calendar on wall)
10: Statue on washer–centerpiece
Brought by daughter
Behind, on windowsill, has a “Prayer for Peace” on a Christmas card from a seminary & a prayer, both of which she prays any time during the day. It’s my way of serving God.
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11: Lourdes. Bought 50 years ago after she married. Always hung there.
12: Center piece, kept on side of dining room table, showing blessed [illegible]. Eva sits & prays, or kneels & prays the rosary, on 1 of the chairs.
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Eva Sulkusky (8-14-72) House #113
The parlor in Eva’s house, when she was a child, was very similar to the parlors of other Eckley people. The floors had no carpeting, but rather, were exposed wooden floors. The floors were scrubbed every week to keep them clean & fresh looking. The floors were hand scrubbed with soap & water. In, about, 1918, Eva’s mother had linoleum flooring put throughout the first floor of the house. The walls had only religious pictures on them, as well as other religious pictures throughout the house. Very few other pictures were hung on the walls; nothing but religious pictures in the parlor. The room was furnished in wood. A solid back rocking chair with no cushions was in this room. Two or three solid wooden chairs were also present. Against one wall was a chest-of-drawers-like piece of furniture, which resembled a bureau. In this piece of furniture was kept cloth goods, under garments, towels, & tablecloths. On the top of this piece of furniture were some religious candles and other religious objects. These religious articles were placed on top of a hand-embroidered piece of fabric which was white in color. In the middle of the room was a round table on which a white tablecloth was lain. This tablecloth reached to the floor. On top of the table stood a kerosene lamp. This was the only object on the table. It was also the only light in the room. The parlor was always kept clean, but was not the main living room in the house. The kitchen was the room which the family used most. The kitchen also had religious pictures and objects in it. After every supper meal, the family would pray at Eva’s house. This seems to have been a standard
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procedure in Catholic Eckley homes. After the meal the father would read the family in the prayer procedures. The rosary beads were recited, prayers were recited, & the family would also sing a few religious songs. There was no other special religious areas in the house. The dining table was the place where the religous proceedings occurred for the family as a unit. Girls would get married in Eckley at an early age. A girl of 14 was considered old enough to be married, & a girl of this age getting married was not uncommon. The average marrying age seems to have been about 17 years old. Most of the newlyweds would live with either the man’s or woman’s parents. This was due to the lack of houses for every married couple in Eckley. It depended upon how many people were in the family as to where the new couple would sleep. Many times, the new couple would sleep in the parlor. Thus, the parlor was not used at all as a parlor or living area, but rather, was used as the bedroom for the new couple. Even if a family did not have a newly married couple in the household, the parlor was often used as a bedroom. This is due to the fact that most of the families were large, having a large number of children & thus since the economy of the living space demanded, all possible sleeping areas were made functional. The new couple would pay a certain amount for the rent & food. The girl would work around the home, helping the mother with various chores; while the husband worked in the mines. In Eva’s case, when she was married, she lived with her parents for a year. She lived with her parents until she & her husband got their own home. To get a home the new couple would put their name into the company records to apply for a house. Their name would stay on the books until the
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Eva Sulkusky (8-14-72) House #113
applicants name would come up on the list. Some couples would wait as long as six years until their names came up on the list as next in line for a house rented. Eva & her husband never paid rent or food money to her parents when she & her husband lived with them. Rather, the room & board was absorbed by her family. This was done so that the new couple could get some money saved for when they set up their new household. Eva says that this was not an uncommon procedure for parents. The only major cost that Eva & her husband had was that if meat was bought for Eva’s husband so that he may have meat for his lunches when he worked in the mines. In times of strike or when the men did not work in the mines, for various reasons, for extended periods of time, several means were used to help supplement the families income. The whole family would go out & pick huckleberries which were then sold for cash. Also, men would hire themselves out to farms in the Long Pond area. The men would go to these farms & work various jobs on the farms. They would be gone from Eckley all week long, returning only on Sundays. The men would be paid a small wage, & in town, the men would spend this money to buy food, from the same farmer, which was then brought home so the family would have food on the table. While the men worked on these farms, they would sleep in the farmer’s barn. A very large segment of Eckley’s male population would go to work on these farms. These times were very tough on the Eckley mining families, & a family would do a great many things to save
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on as many things as possible, in order to make ends meet. During these periods of non-work, many people would continue to buy off the books. Other families would endeavor not to buy off the company store books. The company store would charge a slightly higher price than the traveling store did. Yet, there was an advantage to buying off the company store books. The families which dealt a great deal with the company store were extended credit during such time, while those who dealt with other stores did not receive the advantage of such credit. Therefore, during times of great difficulty the people who bought regularly from the company store had the credit to fall back on; the others could not get this credit as readily. Also, Mrs. Coxe was more ready to help families, in times of need, who dealt with the company store. When a man received his paycheck for his work, the company store bill was subtracted from the paycheck. Also, the rent was deducted from the paycheck. This rent was subtracted from the first paycheck of the month. The paychecks were given to the men every two weeks. Many times the paycheck would have a snake (zig-zag line) across it. This snake signified that the paycheck was taken by the company store to pay off the debt of the family which was accrued by buying off the books. This procedure would continue as long as it took for the family to pay off the compay debts. This may take a great deal of time, in some cases, depending upon how long the man of the house had been out of work, also depending on how many days of work the man had gotten in on the paycheck time.
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Eva Sulkusky (8-8-72)
There used to be a great many huckleberry patches around Eckley. This was before the state watched the land so much. The people of Eckley would set fire to the woods & this would burn off all the extra foliage which crowds out & kills the huckleberry plants. Today when “they” see a fire, a plane is sent out & the fire put out. So there is no chance for the underbrush to be burned away. When Eva was a child, 1910-1915 era, the children would be sent to the woods to pick huckleberries 6 days per week. The children were sent once or twice per day, & would pick about 10 to 12 quarts per day. If the child wished, he or she could go & pick berries again, this time for himself. The berries were sold to a man who came to town to buy the berries. The price for the berries would fluctuate from 3 cents to 10 cents per quart, depending upon the scarcity or demand for them. The children could sell the berries they picked on their own time & thus have money for candy, soda, ice cream, etc. The mother would sell the berries, which the children had picked, & this money was used to augment the family income. The mother would also go out for huckleberries, if she didn’t have babies to care for, so that extra money could be made. During strikes & other suspensions of work the men would also go out for huckleberries, because they could make a little money to help tide the family over until work once again began. A certain portion of the huckleberries were kept & made into
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pies, jams, & muffins. Huckleberries were a very important part of Eckley, because the huckleberries were used as part of the family diet; as well as helping to augment the family income. During strikes, etc., the picking & selling of huckleberries is what helped to keep food on the Eckley miner’s table. Because he was able to pick the berries, he could make a little money to subsist on until work began again at the mines.
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Eva Sulkusky (8-14-72) House #113
I. In the 1920 era there were small board bridges which traversed the ditches along side the road. Each house had one of these small bridges which connected their property to the road. This was a favorite spot for the women to meet. Several women may sit on one of these bridges & chat, nurse their children, or do mending during the warmer months. Also, the women may sit on their own respective bridges & chat back & forth.
II. The oldest child in the family had the most responsibility. It was this child’s responsibility to help around the house. This usually meant that the younger children were to be watched over by the older child in the family. The oldest girl in the family had a great deal of responsibility in that she was to assist the mother in much of the housework–cooking, cleaning, & care of the children. About age 14 or 15, many of the boys would go to the mines to work, the money they made would help the family make ends meet.
III. In large families the attic, if present to the home, was used as a sleeping area. Beds were placed in the attic, & several children would sleep there. In the summer time the attic was very hot. In the winter time the attic was extremely cold. Many times the children would awaken to find that it had snowed, & that some of the snow had come through open spaces in the roof & had landed on the floor, or even on their blankets. In the very cold winter time, the children would run up stairs & dive in their beds because the attic was so cold.
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Eva Sulkosky (7-27-72) House # 113
I. There were three churches in town; the Church of The Immaculate Conception–located where it is now standing–built in 1861; the Presbyterian Church– possibly called St. James–located up from “Aker” Ferko’s; a Lutheran Church–located next to the Presbyterian Church.
II. The Irish would go to the Church of the Immaculate Conception. The Slavish, Polish, & Greek people would go (walk) to Freeland. These non-Irish wanted to go to Freeland churches rather than mix with the Irish people in church.
III. The Presbyterian Church & Lutheran Church were both attended, primarily, by the German people–since most of the other citizens of Eckley–Irish, Slavish, Polish, Greek, etc., were of the Catholic faith.
IV: Services were only held on Sundays & Holy Days. There were people married in these churches. There was Sunday School for the children held after church. There was also a sewing class held at least once a wekk, for the young girls, at the Presbyterian Church. This sewing class was sponsored, & sometimes attended, by Mrs. Coxe.
V. The Catholic Priests were selected by the Bishops in Scranton. The Church of The Immaculate Conception is owned by St. Ann’s Church in Freeland. The Priest got his money from the money the parishioners gave as their offering. The Priest lived in the Rectory beside the Church.
VI. The Presbyterian & Lutheran Churches were (very possibly) provided for & subsidized by Mrs. Coxe, at least one was, probably the Presbyterians.
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–Areas of Division–
Eva Sulkosky (7-27-72) House #113
I. The uptown kids were not allowed to go to downtown & vice versa. Kids who went from their end of town into the other end of town would be yelled at, or possibly beaten-up. Downtown was from the museum office down toward Surgent’s home, & uptown was from Hoopers up toward the church. This division was true of the younger children, when a person got to be 13 or 14 years of age (about dating age), the division wasn’t so stringent. Boys from downtown could date girls from uptown & vice versa & not worry as much about being in the right territory.
II. From the museum office down to Surgent’s was mostly Protestants–German people–with just a few Irish. Uptown from the museum office, & also the Back Street was comprised mostly of Slavish, Polish, & Greek people. Shanty St., also seemed to be comprised of the non-German/Irish peoples.
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Eva Sulkosky 97-4-72) House #113
I. Kitchen curtains made of 100 lb. feed bags.
II. Flour bags (white colored) were made into petticoats, aprons, dresses for children, shirts for men (referred to as jackets). They were bleached white and sewed into the proper fit. Petticoats got a border of lace crocheted into them, along the bottom.
III. The kitchen curtains made of feed bags, already had a colored design on them, and therefore all that needed to be done was to wash them & then sew them up to the specific dimensions.
IV. Many times when feed bags were needed to make curtains or other fabric goods, the women would go to the feed mill & purchase the bags from the mill. The cost was 25 cents per bag, at the beginning–then rose to 30 cents per bag.
V. Eva believes it may be possible that the bags had a design on them so as to make them more attractive for sale. That is, the feed was used, & the bags could then be used for cloth goods. This gave the feed a more economically attractive flavor.
VI. “Sears Soda Flour” was the favorite flour sack used for making cloth goods–the sacks had a picture of a little girl bending over with her “bottom” sticking out. This was bleached out & the material was whitened
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Eva Sulkosky (6-26-72) House #113
I. Born in Freeland. Came to Eckley 1907 at age 7. Husband, Anthony Sulkoski was a mule driver in #10 mine.
II. A woman’s work day:
6:00 A.M. Make the husband’s breakfast, pack his lunch tin. (breakfast of coffee and homemade bread) (lunch of three bologna sandwiches, fruit, coffee).
6:30 A.M. husband left for work. Begin to make bread, or sew, or wash clothing. Take care of the children.
3:30 P.M. Husband arrived home from mines. Preparing Dinner.
4:00 P.M. Dinner served, after which cleaned up dishes.
“cant’ get to elaborate on.”
III. The women didn’t eat with the family. They waited until the family is done eating. The reason is that because it was the woman’s job to keep the food on the table, and it was much easier to stay up and get the food–rather than get up and down to keep the table supplied. Many times there wasn’t much food left over for the woman. The woman would many times do without.
IV. “Today the woman’s role is different from the woman’s role then. There was no alimony then, if a woman left a man, the woman didn’t get nothing. If the man was mad we had to smooth things over. If he hit us we had to take it. The man was the head of the house. We did what he said.”
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V. Baking Days
Monday–whole wheat bread and cinnamon buns.
Wednesday–Sometimes rye bread.
VI. Baked Good with no name:
Cow cheese (pressed) sugar eggs Unbaked bread
VII. Dinner Meats
Monday- Homemade soup (usually noodle–with homemade noodles)
Tuesday: Homemade soup (same as Monday’s soup–two pots made on Monday)
Wednesday: Leftover noodles with bacon, tomatoes, onion and garlic added.
Thursday: Chicken (or some other meat), potatoes and vegetable.
Friday: Three corners[?], “halushki” (grated potatoes with flour added, put in boiling water, then put in cabbage).
Saturday–Baking day, cookies, cakes, pies, donuts.
Sandwiches–made from cucumbers, tomatoes, bologna–if no garden vegetables, just bologna–if no bologna, just garden vegetables
Sunday–Meat (usually chicken), potatoes, vegetable (usually carrots).
Yards & Gardens:
VIII. There were no yards. The land was a garden. Potatoes, cabbage (mainly these two); some carrots, tomatoes, pole beans. The whole family worked on the garden. Got enough potatoes to last the winter–as well as enough cabbage to last until Christmas time. A lot of cabbage was made into sauerkraut.
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Eva Sulkosky (6-26-72) –cont’d– House #113
Food related mat.
IX. Homemade Sauerkraut
Cut the cabbage in half, and shred the halves into a tub. Then pour the shredded cabbage into a barrel. Salt and caraway seed, bay leaves & wholespice pepper were sprinkled in the layers into the cabbage (about 50 heads of cabbage used, two fistfuls of salt & some caraway seed). (about a 50 gallon barrel). The men would either tamp it down by foot or a large wooden mallet. Once tamped down a bag or rag placed across top & a wooden lid was placed on top with a large stone laid on it to keep it tight. The sauerkraut was put behind the stove. The sauerkraut would “work” for about a week, then was put down in the cellar. The sauerkraut would last until spring. It may get a little mold, but you pick out the mold, and eat the good sauerkraut. (Every house in Eckley had a barrel of sauerkraut). Whole apples were put in with the sauerkraut. This gave the sauerkraut a “little apple taste,” also the apples were real “tasty”.
X. During the coal mine strikes, people made money by picking and selling huckleberries, 2 cents per quart for huckleberries.
[Drawing of house and workshop from front and side. Also top-down view]
Eva Sulhusky Nipsy (?) – 12:00 pm. 8/(?)/(?)
She doesn’t remember the holes well.
She remembers the boys used (?) nipsies. She thinks they didn’t have notches.
She played it at about 6-12 years old from 1906- 1912.
Used to ( draw, lined through) play with her mothern how mary people.
You (?) it out of the circle – you got / crack at it. Then, you (?) (it, is scribbled out) it out to where it landed – and you got 3 points. Then the other girls tried to get more points. She thinks when you ( two words are lined through)decided a stopped whoever had the most points won the game. [(?) she grew up + went to work she didn’t play it anymore.
The game usually went on till ” our mothers needed us for something, or the kids started to argue about something”.
(Nipsy were, words lined through) Nipsy was played in the road : there were no cars up + down in those days + seldom did wagons come by.
(Two words crossed out in left margin) After got done with chores after school ( something crossed out) if it was light enough, we’d (?) her girl friends woud play – also, on Sundays, which was held as a day of rest + prayer + play(underlined).
times played( left margin)
Mrs. Eva Sulkusky age:71 3:30 – 4:30 pm born: 1901 3/(?)/72 house #113
Used to pick for $ money, but not eat, because (underlined) pick so much. Had to pick, it was hard (scibble) raising 9 children. ( 6 brother – 1 dies at 5yr. when he was (?) he is oldest ( word under oldest lined through) child.) ( 2 sisters).
Married 1918 at 17 years. Had 6 girls, 1 boy.
United Mine Workers JMW strike – 6 months In 1922 or 24, she thinks. Had to pick berries to support her own family. After strike settled, (?) worked ( something scribbled out) 1-2 days a week, little work to be done in mines. Another strike after that followed, – 7 months – left (family, lined through) families with little money. Picked berries to sell at 2( cents symbol) / per qt.
Her + husband could pick, on each trip into woods, (?) buckets [ 1 bucket = 10 qt.]
Snakes in woods – no one got hurt as far as she remembers – no one got bitten.
Remembers 1 time she (?) [ with bucket on back – tied around in front.] back from berry picking.
Was a spring accross path. She was in back of her party’s on (?) side ( 15 ft. away) ( crossed out letter) saw a (?) snake with big
(?) Eva 2 (?) mouth wide open. Got very scared. (?) at berry picking: Used to go 3 miles into woods Down to 3rd Spring. ((?) is still there, 1st + 2nd spring destroyed by strippings.) Path Used to walk the RR bark – Mr. Tony Sulhosky + Mrs Sulhosky +( word crossed out) (?) Marshlik, used to kill snakes (word crossed out ) that they saw on the side. Today nothing but “thickness”- No huckleberries. Woods not bonned out so brush is (??) in old days, boys would set fire to the brush, deliberately, to get good berry bush area. (?), Woods are thick Berries, they like to grow when (??) burned. On 1st year get no berries, 2nd year ( words crossed out) + after get more + more huckle berries. Snakes(underlined) – rattlers, copperheads. Copper heads are “quick” snakes * Note fact that boys used to set fire to piled mounds of brush in woods to get rid of woods so berries would grow + they could pick them for supplement to family income.
Mrs. Sulkusky 3. [ ?/?/72 ]
In regard to her Huckleberry cake(underlined): Did Not (bake, lined through) cook berries when sell them. Used huckleberry pie, but not huckle berry cake. Mrs. [Perrone?] baked one day, + said huckleberry cake was good. Found, or got receipe from somebody. [ She works (word crossed out) For Dr. [G??] baking [?] for a while – 8 yrs selling of berries ( all underlined).
Sell to huckleberry men – Mrs. Zosak used to buy them, as [?] to man in Beaver Meadow. She sell to him, who sold to others. [?????]too, buy cheap. Made dye from them when shipped out of Eckley. [??] a kind of berry with little pit. Berry man – Came around with horse + wagon. Then, with trucks. Wagons: open box style – like buy express wagon. Huckleberry men [??]. ” The [??] men” used to call him.
After “[??] men” stopped coming, [ don’t know why] Mr. Reece of the Company Store used to buy + sell them out of town, when shipped out to different places.
( word lined out) Still [??] man that buys huckleberries, from Hazleton.
(Ziresky = maiden name of Mrs. Eve Sitkosky) nicknames is Eckley When growing up, everybody in town had nickname – Mr.( Sulkeihy?) = ” Spongy.” John Washko = ” Zipky” (Tzipky”) (?) Sulkosky = ” 7 tacks + a hammer ” Always had hammer + tacts (?) ” Tony” Her own nickname – people used to call her ” Eva Peeva” – and she hated it. Jo (her brother) = “Meow” [Because he liked cats.] Charly ( her brother) = ” Sally” [ couldn’t think of reason.] (?) (her brother)= ” Yoyany” [Yoynny] Peter ( her bro) = ” rotzy” (Li lly?) her brother) = ( doesn’t remember) House style – Anthony ( Sull by?) / house (Burronels?) /(Deneo ?) house (Hooper?) Office (slave’s house, before) Annie Maloney / Emory ( Vihalais ?) house Zanelli house Mung Maloney house Bracket from Anthony to Mung and arrow from Hooper Office to below, All these had kitchen originally (huill?) on by Company, these companyhomes Had kitchen (ons?) when first built. One reason: All have room on top of kitchen, while others don’t have that. Age of house Church built 1861 Doesn’t know when + (ho e?) houses built.
The Dutch church built before the Catholic Church Dutch all moved out. Some died out, some moved ( due to lack of job possibly) (Eq) Kenarms – moved Miss Kenarms was in (????) home one of her teachers,. (?) Kenarms daughtr teacher (?) – teacher in family they died out. (Miss Hader). (?) – had a teacher, Miss Wyatt Mrs. Spier – 2 daughters, who were teachers in Eckley Houses Back St _( back st is underlined) Had ” real small houses” (1 bedroom upstairs, parlor ) (??) These may be 1st ones built in Eckley
Then, ones up above Helen (?) the (Marsh???) + Helen'(?) – may have been next. Then, these (underlined) were built, maybe. (?) eg. the ones with built – on kitchen.
Eva: Only Lithuanian in Eckley now. Catechism was tught in Freeland. Was taught catechism. Lithuanian afternoon, on Sunday. Pol in morning. St. (?) – 1st Church of Freeland. All kind people. (?) Freeland. (?) underlined – Though I discovred huckleberry cure was not a traditional old recipe here, I made use of oppurtunity to ash of her huckleberry picking (?)
A. Varesano interviewing Joe Sulkusky – 1 – 6/28/72 Tape 16-1
JS: Down where I worked in Buck Mountain, where he had you that tunnel, you could go in there, oh you could go in a far distance. And then you would go in where the men were working in around there. Oh, there were a good many men that time that were caught in the fire. It was not too long before they stopped the mine. They were all shattered [?]. There face and everything all cut up. Lucky non of them were killed, but there were all hurt, you know, cut up, when the blast went off.
AV: What happened?
JS: I———–well, they just didn’t time it right or anything, see? They used to blast out towards Caskerdea? with a battery, you know. You had a battery, you set your charges, you went back so far, around where it couldn’t hit you, you know, or anything. And then, when you was ready to fire you’d go out and pull a battery. And the caps, you had them timed. You had the timer, and number one, number two, number three, all the way up, you know, how many holes you had. And if you wanted them all to go off at once, well, you had to put all number ones in, and then that shot would go all at once. But sometimes that timer don’t work. Because if, ou shoot the all at once and it don’t take it right, then them holes are all stuck, they don’t throw their coal. They only make dog holes, you think that they’re ground hogs or rabbits went in there! Itwon’t tear the thing. There’s a lot of men, miners, they’re called miners, but they have a hell of a time to make a day’s wages. They don’t understand how to cut the coal. You must know how to cut it. You must time your holes, that the one hole makes a chance for the other one. And if you plan that right, then you get lots of coal. But if you don’t time it right, you’ll be working your head off all day. And then they’re stuck. they can’t make it go. Lots of men.
AV: How do you have to fix the hole, so that it doesn’t make long tunnels?
JS: Well, they call that, maybe you’re driving a gangway, you know. You go in, all they way in, and then after a while, there’s other men, they drive breasters[?] up, or maybe they drive them up the pitch, already, you know. They’re pretty wide, they take them twenty-four feet wide, you know. All the way up again, up from the main gangway, what they call. that’s just like a tunnel, or something, you know. That’s their haulage-way, they take the coal in and out. And then, some of them just drive poles up, the pillars, when the pillars are up. A pillar is this, when you drive a breast up, you leave. I guess, well you’re supposed to do it, but they don’t. Thirty feet thick, you know, in between that breast and the next breast, thirty feet. Well then, they call that rubbin[?], when they’re rubbin[?] back. Well, they drive holes up, just narrow holes. they go up, oh, you have some times three hundred feet and higher. But you have to timber them. You put timer around, just like a home, you know. You put the two legs up and then the collar out, then you put laggins and boards on top that nothing comes through. You go all the way up and then you start to come down, taking that coal down from the both side in that hole. It’s kind of lots of experience if you go and look at how they’re doin’ it, and what they do and all, you know.
AV: What’s a laggin?
JS: Eh? A laggin? Well, these small tress, you know, about that thick. They put that over the top, and then they put boards on that from the timber to the nother one; see you put a timber up, then when you put the next one up, you put the end in on this back one, then on the front one, then you put the boards on top. Then you wedge it, tight, you ake wedges, you know. And then you hammer then in under these laggins, that they wouldn’t move away when you fire holes, again.
A, Varesano interviewing Joe Solkusky – 2 – 6/28/72 Tape 16-1
AV: You don’t use nails on the laggins, do you?
JS: No. Wedges is supposed to hole it. You cut, well, blocks of wood or else boards, you know, and then you temper (sic) the one end down, like thin, you know. And then you put it in under the laggin and hammer it in good and tight. And that holds it in there. And then after when it gets its weight, you know, that you can’t knock them out no more. And it breaks, the timber, a lot of times. Oh, yes. You have to renew them, you have to watch. Every now and then, that you see that they’re gettin’ weight, when you’re goin’ up and down, carryin’ things up and goin’ up there to work and all, you take a look at them, and which one you see breaks, or crack the collar, you know–that’s the one that is holdin’ all the things up– well, you put another one in alongside of it, and keep on that way, to keep it up.
AV: How long do these timbers last?
JS: Timbers? It all depends on what push they get. What weight comes on them. Sometimes they’ll last til you finish the hole comin’ back, and sometimes you have to be retimberin’ ’em. Put new ones in, you know, to hold it. Yeah that son of a gun.
AV: What kind of timber wood do you use?
JS: Like these trees, thick. Good and thick. Twelve inches thick and maybe thicker. And we had to carry the, like, up these rock holes. And up these ladders, up, away up, up there and put ’em in. That takes a lot of work. They’re pretty heavy, you have to put one, well, the way we put ’em in there, about six feet high, you know. Well then, you have to take a six foot piece, like that thick around, put it in on your back. And that’s heavy. And you go up them ladders, all the way up, and put ’em up there. Carry your.…. well, see, when you, in the rock hole, when you were drivin’ that rock hole up, you had the steps just like upstairs-goin’, you know, all the way up.
AV: All the way up the pitch.
JS: All the way up that pitch. And sometimes three hundred feet and more, you know. And then, you put props again, up, along your boardwalk, along your steps. And you plank it up from there up to the top, you know, that no coal can fall in when you’re goin’ up and down. Because it’d come down like a bullet, it would kill you. So, you take and you put that up, all the way up to the top, then , when you put the next prop in, you again put boards all the way up, and plut ’em all the way up. So when you’re comin’ down, you’re just comin’ down like a stairway. And that there is open, the rock hole is open, where the coal comes back[?] There’s a fellow down there in Buck Mountain that he fell. He was workin’ up above and he slipped some way, and fell down on the pitch, you know, and he went down into the rock hole, and there wasn’t a bit of bone solid, you know. He hit down in below, he smashed to nothing. Yeah, he fell down, he went down, oh, I guess about three hundred feet. He went down, you know, I guess he was like a bullet when he lost his balance. And down he went. Well, he didn’t know what happened when he hit the bottom there. He knowed when he was goin’ down, but what, I guess he was all excited and tryin to get ahold of something and he couldn’t, he couldn’t get ahold of nothin’. So down he went. Oh, there’s lot of ’em. Lot of ’em. You have to be goshdamn careful. Because if you slip, and fall in that rock hole, you go down, that’s the last. No more.
AV: Did those stairs get slippery, too?
JS: Yeah. And . For the amount of money they pay, you’d think that, like they used to say, you know, see, of course you can’t blame the people, you know. But it’s these instigators, bluffin’ them. They used to say, Oh, the miners don’t care to work. They make lots of money, so they want to take a risk[?] See, sometimes when their contract will run out, well then, if they don’t sign a new contract, they can do what they want with you. They can put you a
A. Varesano interviewing Joe Solkusky
6/28/72 Tape 16-1
dollar a day or whatever they feel like they can give you and you can’t do nothin’ about it. They have to sign a contract. And the operators wouldn’t sign a contract, you know, and then the men would walk out. They’d say Contract or no work. Well, they thought that the men made so much money. Well, we used to load, like now, we’re workin’ the Jedda Highland, they have a big car, five ton. Well, if you put, you could put six ton on it, you know. And that’s what the bosses used to be always after the men, to heap, heap the coal, you know. They were gettin’ more than a ton of coal extra. But they wouldn’t pay you nothin’ for it. So there’d be, lot of times, discussions, you know, about it. And they thought, you know, the men are goddamn dumb that they don’t know any better. But the men tell ’em right off, Aw, take that car out on a scale and weigh it, now! And you’ll find what you got there. You got too much coal. Because, it called, like the contract when they’d have, it called “up to the rim”, that’s up to the top, like, you know. That’s there. And they wanted to heap on that, would give them six ton, maybe more, because they were big, wide ones, and pretty long, you know. And that’s what they used to cheat the men, every damn one like that. And you know what they were gettin’ for that car of coal? Four dollars and thirty cents. Or thirty-five, or something like that. That’s all they were gettin’ for that. You had to blast your coal, pay for the dynamite and everything, your tools, and then carry all that lumber up there, and every damn thing, you know? And by God, that took lots of work. And then it wasn’t too bad yet, if it wasn’t wet. But if you got wet season, like now,
A. Varesano / Joe Solkusky Tape 16-1, page 4
the dew would be droppin’, just like outside rainin’ [blank space]; well, you’d get wet, sloppy-wet. Even [blank space] the boots, you know. Every now and then you’d sit down, take the boots off, dump the water out! They’d get their boots full! Well, you work all day like that in that kind [blank space] —and then, you know, it’s cool down in there…
AV: Sure, damp…
JS: …because they had the fans a-goin’, blowin’ that air, you know, to keep the smoke and keep the gas clear, and the black-damp and white damp, you know. If they wouldn’t, it would kill everybody in the mines, there, if you didn’t have that. because that gas–or, the black-damp–if it gets so strong, you know, then it turns into white-damp. And then from white damp [blank space] gas, and then it can explo’ any minute. The white? black-damp’ll put you to sleep.
AV: It will?
JS: Oh, you, you won’t mind it, you know?
JS: But it’ll just put you to sleep, and if there’s nobody around, you just sit down, and [blank space] and kill you. White damp is quicker yet than black damp. That’ll put you to sleep quick and kill you quick. Well, if there is nobody around, you’re a dead man. If somebody comes around later on, you’re dead, or [blank space]. So, many is the men they’s pulled round, you know, down where the fans are runnin’–because they have them down in the main room, you know, and then they have two-beam goin’ up–I guess it’s about a ten-inch two beam, you know, a hole–goin’ up, and they blow that air up, up in there, to keep everything movin’.
AV: Where does that black damp come from?
JS: From the coal. It fumigates (sic) from the coal. It’s gas in coal. That’s why it burns.
AV: And that’s the stuff that explodes?
JS: Well, that won’t explode like that, but when a big — [blank space] gets in the pockets.
A. Varesano/ Joe Solkusky Tape 16-1, page 5
See the gas, when it’s comin’ out of the coal, it goes up to the ceiling more, you know. And then she lays up there like a cloud, you know. Well then that, you disturb that, well, if it gets any kind of spark or anything–boom, away she goes, she’ll tear everything up!
JS: Oh, that blow everything! Kills everybody. Not only the guys that were there, you know in that place, but if it’s [blank space] set the whole section off, then the whole mine, like you hear, sometimes, all the men trapped in. Like in the silver mine, there were how many hundreds of them were killed at that explosion? That’s tough.
AV: Did that ever happen.…
JS: So–a miner has to be experienced of all kinds of things. They think he’s dumb! Like hell! He has to know what he’d doin’.
AV: That’s right.
JS: If he don’t know what he’s doin’, he can’t, he can’t exist.
Mrs. S: What was you asked him?
JS: And then they weren’t paid so high. What the hell, like we were workin’ here, well, you were gettin’, company man was gettin’–they call it company man, he was paid by the hour–he was gettin’ six dollars and was it thirty-five cents–oh, six dollars and six cents for eight hours. Now is that pay? Take all that risk and everything? That was no pay.
AV: What did the company man do?
AV: The company man. What did he do?
JS: Well, he used to work, only they called him because the company was paying him by the hour, see? He’d get six dollars and six cents a day–They’d call that company work. And a contract miner, they called that what he could make for himself. If he could make ten dollars, ten dollars. If he could make five dollars, it was five dollars. A man that knowed how to do the thing, you know, well
Tape 16-1, page 6
he could always make a couple of dollars more. Like some poor buggers I know, they used to work their heads off, and if you’d see them come out, they were just as black, as black as that coal is, from the dust you know. But they couldn’t make it go. They wouldn’t let them make two dollars a day. So, there it was. Well then after, [blank space] when they fought them, later on, they got them that the company has to pay them a day’s shift, like six shifts. If they make it or not, they have to pay them that. So then they were after them all the time. pushin’ them like hell that they’d make it, you know. But, if you don’t know how, it don’t work. You can’t make it anyway. Just like I said. If they didn’t know how to drill their holes, well, when you’d fire, the first hole. it would, wouldn’t do her job, you know. Well then all the rest [blank space], they all stuck. Like I said they make them holes but that’s all. Blow the dust out in there. But if you know how to do it, you can make lots of coal. I, ah, lots of ’em, I even had a buddy that worked on two shifts. You know, one week I’d work the day shift and then the next week night shift [blank space]. And my God, he used to have two laborers and I had two laborers, you know. Helpers, like. And when my helpers–see, I used to pay them, and give ’em–I’d pay them, what was it, four dollars and somethin’, and then the company added the rest to make the shift for that [blank space]. And they always used to argue with the other shift, you know. When they would leave the place, we’d leave maybe four, five, six and maybe sometimes more cars of coal loose, just for them to come in and start loadin’. When we come, [blank space] they had nothin’. They’d always clean it out. Yet my guys would say to them, well, did you leave the broom down there, or are you’s takin’ it home with you? But they sucked everything out, you know. Then one day we were goin’ down and they hollered “Fire!” Fourteen holes! Well, the guys said, Oh, there’s a lot of good chance then — we were night shift. We will have a good chance tonight. They’re firin’ fourteen holes. Well, do you know when them fourteen holes went off, you couldn’t get enough to dump in this coal–or, in this stove, coal.
Tape 16-1, Page 7
Nothin’! They all stuck on them, they didn’t do their work. That’s the way the miners, some of’ them, are. They’ll work hard, but they killin’ theirselves and won’t produce nothin’. that’s, that’s it. So when they come down there, the mine laborers come over to me, I went in and looked at it–and there was a company man, he was a road man, and he was fixin’ a latchet or switch into our place, and he said, Oh, he said, today you’ll have a good chance, because they fired fourteen holes. I said, We’ll see. So we waited a little while for that dust to blow away, the smoke, and I go in, and Oh, it was pretty dusty yet, and I look and I took a shovel and a pick, maybe gthere’s some big chunks, you know and they rolled over on the track, I’ll bust them and throw gthem on the sides that they can put the cars in. Ha! I’m goin’, goin’, I come to the end of the track, I don’t see nothin’! And I start grtumblin’ to myself, I said, Well, I’d like to see the guy and tell me that there’s lots of coal. I says I don’t see a gosh-dang piece, I said, like my fist. There was some dust around, that’s all. So my buddies come down, my laborers, they come down, and they look and look, and the guy takes a shovel and he says, Joe, he says, you gotta go and drill a hole or two, give us a start, so we or we won’t get home tonight. I said never mind, I said, we’ll get it. And this guy that was puttin’ in the latches there, the company guy, he said, What the hell went wrong over there? And he was a dark complected guy, you know. I said you black son-of-a-gun you, I said come on and show me that coal, I says. And he come runnin’ over you know, and he looks around and looks around and puts his head on my shoulder and he says, Well now I believe you, he says. No wonder your laborers were always goin’… see, because e everybody looked to try to get an earlier shift you know. If you made your shift then you was goin’ home, you didn’t have to stay eight hours, you know. You’d go home. So they used to be mad because them guys always had a chance and we don’t. So I take the damn augur and I drill two holes. When I fire them, this guy that was puttin’ in latches, he said, How the hell how to them holes shoot? I said what do you mean, how do they shoot? I said, Wait, when you go down, then you’ll
Tape 16-1, page 8
know what it means. So he come down after, when they went off and he looked at me. He said, Two holes, he said, you’ll have enough coal to load all of your cars and, he said, there will be coal left yet! So, that’s the way you shoot. See, if you can’t, if you go to work and you’re gonna take a cut of coal out, well, if you drill the hole in sttaight and another one in straight and another one in straight, they aren’t gonna do nothin’, because this first one ain’t got no way to tear that coal outa there. Well then, the other ones ain’t go a chance and they’re gonna stick. They’re gonna shoot, but they ain’t gonna throw no coal out. That’s the way that happens. But if you take your first hole and drill it a little bit slantway here, then she has tear that, kick that all out. When she kicks out, then all of these are kickin’ out, everywhere. Yeah, that’s, that’s the way coal–I wasn’t afraid of minin’ coal. I could blast that damn thing, I didn’t care what kind it was. Well, lots of guys–good workers and they worked neighbors, you know. And they’d come along, and he said, How in the hell, he said, you can cut that coal, and when we fire it don’t want to work for us. Well, you don’t drill your holes right. That’s the only damn thing, I said, you don’t drill your holes right. We used to come down there on our shift, the place would be bare. Well, I’d get the damn tools, machines, or however and start drillin’ holes, and the guy would say, Oh you won’t drill that many tonight, there is no start, we have no start. the other guy says What? Don’t talk, he says. Wait til you see, he says. When them holes go out, wait til you see. He says. You’ll see a pile of coal, he says, you’d think it was a big bank, he says, out in the stripin’s somewhere, he says. The guy, says I wouldn’t say nothin’. And I would blast, where would be lots of coal left. And if they didn’t know how to fire it.… Then, there were a place there we had when we took the most of the coal out on our right, the top. It’s, oh, about nine, nine feet thick, you know. And nice and smooth like this ceiling there. I drilled I don’t know how many holes I drilled in this to bring that all down. And there were so much coal below that it was, because we didn’t know if we’d fire this maybe it would cave below and
Tape 16-1, page 9
it would cover that coal. So he said don’t bother firin’ ’em, he says. They have enough coal for the shift to load there, he says. Let them load that out, then when they’re goin’ home then they can fire. It was on a grade, we were comin’ up from an inside slope, like, takin’ the coal up. And there were motorers. you know, that’d come in with the motor that give you the car–
So they told the motorman someplace–they seen him, you know, when they come out from work, they said, you don’t have to worry, they sid, in that place, because we fired the soft coal. he says. You won’t get out at the end of the tracks you knew down below. He says you can bump up agin the coal, he says. They fired them holes and they stuck for them up there. Just enough and they didn’t shoot the holes right. So the motorman come down and he was going, going, going. The damn car goes off the end of the road and–just cut the motor that much or he would have went down. When he would have went down, he would have went the hell down. So they started laughing, and they says, What the hell did you say that there’s gonna be so much coal there? They just wouldn’t believe it. No, they says. there must have been coal there. And there were no coal there. He said, You’re holes all stuck, he had to drill the other holes between and put it down. He says, Now you can go down, he says you won’t go through. He says there is a pile of coal there, he says, enough for a couple of these crews. They don’t understand, lots of men. Oh, and some of them are dredevils, too. There’s a fellow down there. what’s they used to call it. Hammer. They, some of them would take a big long stick, and where it was all busted up, you know, they were afraid to get to it, so they would get a big long stick and tie a bunch of ____on, you know. and put it up with this stick up agin’ that, you know, and fire it. And some guys, they had a habit of takin’ a piece of just, you know, and tyin’ a bunch of dynamite together, and throw it, where it wasn’t on a pitch, you know, that they would fall there, they would throw it, light it and throw it. Well this guy ,
Tape 16-1, page 10
he takes and throws it up and that slid right down back to him. And when he dropped it again, it went off in his arm and when he went to throw itand shot his arm off. Oh, he’s still livin’, up in Freeland. And he’s talkin’ to me about, not too long, a couple of weeks ago. Yeah, he’ shot his arm off! Mud-cappin’. Hammers. [???????????]
AV: What’s mud-capping?
JS: When you have a big chunk, you know, that’s big like, oh like half of this room. And dig a little hole on it and put dynamite in, and shoot it without drillin’ the holes. that busted it up.
AV: What’s flammin?
JS: Flammin’—when you put the big sticks up and push the damn dynamite up against, – see, some places it’s all ready to come, but it won’t come. And if you don’t do somethin’ with it, it’s gonna stay there. God knows how long, maybe it’ll stay there a week or two weeks before it gets more weight and starts to peel out and start to come. You have to get it goin’. Move it.
AV: What’s the proper way to do it?
JS: The what?
AV: The proper way. What’s the right way to do it?
JS: Well, you can put a flammer up, because you don’t want to go under it too close you know if would happen to get a start, that you could get away. Oh, sometimes when it comes, a lot of coal comes. Ninety cars sometimes. I got a place up there in the rock hole, and I opened up and I looked from the timber–see, we had a timber and then planked off, I chopped two planks off and I looked up in there and there it was, stuck, you know, the coal. And I take and I put two of these mud caps in you know. Oh, there was a big lump of coal and there was one pretty big rock there. So I put it in on the rock and on the coal. When that shot, we got four hundred ninety cars of coal!
Tape 16-1, page 11
JS: From under there.
AV: My goodness!
JS: It was comin’ and comin’, just like, like fish, comin’ down! Yes, it’s, it’s, mining is all right one way, but you have to know your ways, en-how to do it. And I [??????]. I drilled gangways, I drilled buggy roads–it’s a little car, you know, you, three goes into a car. You can’t go in with a big car, you know, it’s too much pitch, so they go sideways, they go up so far and go sideways, and you have this here little car that you push up. And then you dump it into the chute, and it goes down where you load your cars through. S [???? blank space]. I drove slopes down already, I drove rock tunnels.
AV: Oh, yeah? How do you cut a rock tunnel?
JS: That’s, that’s hard.
AV: I’ll bet.
JS: Real rock. Miners, they have no jack-hammer [????? blank space] Just hammer it out. Drive the jumper in.
AV: What’s that, jumper?
JS: That’s a, they have different sizes. You start with one about that long, you know, to get the hole started. You hit on it and turn it; every time you hit you turn it. but you must hit it hard, because it’s rock. And that isn’t sharp like a knife or somethin’, because it has to be stronger you know. So it has an edge on, you have to keep on poundin’ on that til you get a then when you get in a piece-way, then you take a longer one. And you can have them as long as six feet. And the, you don’t know how to jumper [??], you’re gonna stick your jumper in, you won’t get it out and you won’t do nothin’, so your work is for nothin’. That’s pretty tough.
AV: I’ll bet.
JS: That’s a hard job, when it is by hand. And that’s what they used to do, one time, I have…
Tape 16-1, page 12
AV: Six feet. by hand?
JS: When the Molly Maguires was here, and I give them that jumper and some of the tools, and I thought they were gonna give ’em back when they were done, but they did, like hell. They kept everything. And I heard donw below, the party that give them some things, they paid them for it. Well, I says, why do they come around for something.
Mrs. Solkusky: Well, why did you about it?
JS: Well, I thought everybody was like myself, they’d do the right thing. I give them a big wash-copper-boiler, you know, that the women used to boil clothes in one time. A big copper one. And then I give them these water bottles that you used to take down in the mines, you know–coffee or water or whatever you like to drink. They were copper.
So, and there’s now, [batch?], sometimes, this Hooper asked me have I got any more of them. I said I give you them! He said, Well, didn’t I give them back to you? You did not! I said. You gave me nothin’ back, I said. I said you had the coffee bottles, and I says I gave you a big wash boiler, a copper one, and everything, I said. I gave you some tools, I said. I gave you some jumpers. I gave you that this half [woden?] hammer, you know, that you jumper with. And I says I gave you a couple more difficult things, I says. Well, I don’t know what you’d do with them.
AV: Oh, Gee!
Mrs. Solkusky: He must have put them some place and some guys just walkin’ around lookin’ at things, just picked it up. Isn’t that right, Angie?
AV: Oh, I don’t know. Maybe those Paramount people ran off with it?
Mrs. S: That’s right.
JS: Well, I know where you’s were. I guess you should go down by the tunnel, down Buck Mountain, where the water comes out. And you’s went off the highway and you’s turned in on the dirt road, left. And then back there was a wash and the things where
Tape 16-1, page 13
the men used to come out. And then there was another tunnel a way back this way closer, but I see that’s ripped up or something. I don’t know what they did, did they block it off or what they done there.
AV: Yeah, it was blocked off..I went to see that part, too.
JS: That was a tunnel there, too, come up. You used to come right out, and water used to come out of there, too.
AV: Oh, yeah?
JS: And down below the road, there was a breaker right there, right under that. The coal used to come out of the tunnel and right on the breaker and dump right there on top of.…
AV: Which number was that?
JS: That was Buck Mountain.
AV: Buck Mountain.
JS: Lower Buck Mountain, they called it.
AV: Lower. And then, I said, that was a nice tunnel that they had, where the water is coming out now, that sulphur water, that’s very well built.
JS: That’s the Long Boy. If you could have gone in and go down across the tunnel where it is [????], because it’s rock, you know, that didn’t sink, but the rock holes, there’s some robbedout and there’s some that they don’t work no more, they, they quit, they stopped the mining. They didn’t, they didn’t stop because they didn’t have the coal, or there weren’t no more coal there or anything. There were coal. But they just decided on they were gonna shut the mines down. So they were shuttin’ down one place, shuttin’ another one. I worked, when they start this shuttin’ down business, well, first I worked in Number Ten slope, that’s up above the church back here. I worked there, I don’t know how long I worked there. Quite a while I worked in there. Then from there I went to the, well, I worked in Number Six, back there, there was a hole–well, I didn’t work too long there, just ’til I–I drove mules there for a little while. And then from there, I went
Tape 16-1, page 14
back to Number Ten. From Number Ten then, I went up to Number Two up there where our family was. I worked in that slope for quite a while. Then they shut that down–well. they shut Number Ten. then they shut that down, then we went down to Buck Mountain. I worked there. I don’t know how many years, there. Then they shut that down and they transferred us into the Owl Hole. And there was seniority rights, you know. The oldest man on the job, he had the preference of gettin’ a job there. And who they didn’t need, they laid off. They laid them off. And we went down the Owl Hole. Well, then they shut that down. But coal, oh my God! There’s more coal in the mines yet than what they took out! Since ever they were minin’ it.
AV: Really! Is there?
JS: Yeah! And there’s coal yet that they don’t know how far it goes, down here in Number Two mine. There was a place there, they had an inside slope. They had an engine there and they used to hoist them down below inside of the mines down. Well then they come down and they flattened off and they went through a tunnel, well it was about like from here, that tunnel, down to the stairway they have down there now, about that long. I guess about that long, maybe, if not a little longer. And then they got into the coal back there again. And that went in, out to Number One and out in all directions they have. So, down there, they had two pumps that used to pump. Well then, on the right there, they was a track goin’ in and that one, oh it was a long distance in there. So they tried there–Andrew was bossin’ then yet–and he got men there, they were company work, by the hour, you know. And they’re drivin’ down straight–because there were coal, you know. They wanted to see how far that coal goes down. Well they went down thirty five feet, down straight, like a well , you know. just tubin’ to see how far that coal goin’ to go. They couldn’t, they didn’t find no bottom rock yet. And he says, well that’s enough. We know what’s there, that there’s a lot of coal there. and he says if they need to get it, he says, they’ll get it sometime. And the water used to sip in there you know. Well, then the men would go out to work in the mornings, they had to bail
Tape 16-1, page 15
that water out with buckets! Well, it took time, you know, and he said, Ah, he said, that’s too much work for nothin’, he says. And he said we know that there’s lots there. So there is a lot of coal down below, but they don’t know how far it’s gonna go down.
JS: Well, down here in Number Seven, Butler, he took a cut of rock and dirt off, well the cut I would say would be about like, like from here to our mailbox out there. And then wide, pretty wide. And he though that–he was on the bottom rock with the shovel at that time–and he thought that’s all the coal, that they see is there. And that was about, oh, about, oh thirty some, fourty feet, high, you know. So they stripped that all off, the dirt and everything, and he was loadin’ that. And when he got of reach a litlle bit, and he moved up with the shovel, that rock goes right down like that. To the bottom, you know. Just right straight down. So he started, when he took all this top coal off and he started to dip out of there, he was dippin’ for seven months, coal out of there! So they had a big, big long cable on that rope, you know. And, it was too short. They run out of cable. So thay spliced another big one on, and they kept on diggin’ at that down in there. Everytime you couldn’t see because water got in already. And every time they flopped that dipper down in there, and the dipper used to hold I think it was five ton or somethin’.
And they was dippin’ for several months out of there, and they run out of that cable, and quit. The coal, they didn’t get to the bottom yet where it ended. Well, that, that , he didn’t strip no more. All the way down to the Owl Hole he could have went. But he wanted more pay for takin’ that rock and all off, and Jedda Highland wouldn’t give it to him, so he pulled out. He said he can’t take that out for the price he took the first one. It’s worht more money then that. So he quit. So that’s all standin’ there yet. But these guys, if they go-
Tape 16-1 Page 16
after that and they take that out, their gonna get a lot of coal. And I know, because I was in there. In the mines there. My brother and another fellow that’s from here, they blew[?} drew[?] a gang/ that came from the Owl Hole all the way in there, in coal–see, there’s a tunnel goin’ in all the way. So they punched the tunnel on the left and they got into that coal, not way far, they just went about let’s see about maybe about sixty feet and they got out into the coal. but then they drove that there gangway all the way to the strippin’, where Butler was takin’ that coal out, all the way out to there. And boy, are they coal there! Oh gee, is that a high one! Whel. Full. The busters[?] that the old time miners worked long time ago, they’re all filled up with coal. They crushed in, you kno that far. Well, that’s all standin’. Yup. that’s all standin’ all the way out to the Owl Hole. And that, that’s—oh my God I don’t know [?] there’s a million tons in there to get out of there. And then that whole hollow, there’s all coal in under there.
AV: Is there?
JS: Yeah, that’s all coal in through there. And it’s high coal, high and deep. Some places you know there are different veins. there’s veins, well they had a vein runnin’ from Number Two clean into Number Ten, and down Number Four down in here. Runs anywhere from six feet well some place you’d come up Seven, eight feet, then she’d dip down to about five feet And then she’d go up a little bit again and that’s the way it went all the way to…they didn’t mine that! That was all of that they didn’t mine that. They had bigger vein now, and better coal, so they takin’ that and left that there. In Buck Mountain there’s a place, too, they have a place there, oh I don’t know, that ain’t too high neither, it’s about six, seven feet high somethin’ like that. And it’s pretty tough coal to mine you know. And they left all of that, they didn’t bother. Oh they must be a lot of coal down below where that tunnel where you see down in that big hollow down in there. There was a, I don’t know if that school house is standin’ there
Tape 16-1 Page 17
yet or not, when you come down into Buck Mountain from this here tunnel room. There was a bridge there, the raailroad bridge used to cross through there. Well, when you pass that bridge on your left, the school house was there. Well, one time there was a slope there where the miners used to go in and the mules used to go in. Well, they said there was all kinds of coal down in there.
AV: What did they call that slope?
JS: That—Buck Mountain, that’s the Lower Buck Mountain. that, that much went all the way down to that next mountain that you see over there, Weatherly Mountain. that coal must have run all the way back in there. And they say it’s a big mine in there, and there’s everything in there, cars and everything filled up with coal, you know, and they were drowned out. Mules and all got left in there.
AV: What happened?
JS: This tunnel come a flood.
AV: Oh, really?
JS: And it started to get bad and they had to run out, and the mules they left and everythig left in there. So all of that is standing years and yearsback, that was a mine. they got a lot of coal up there yet.
AV: When did that happen, that flood?
JS: Oh, a long time ago. I don’t remember when they worked that slope. I don’t remember. Yes. that was before my time yet. But the ones that still are around, they used to talk about.
JS: Yeah. So, there’s a lot of coal in this town yet. To take out, if they take it. ‘Course, they need better equipment and everything if they’re gonna get it. Because , this here strippin’ what I was
Tape 16-1 Page 18
talkin’ about, how deep he went down with them cables, that’s a long distance. Because they are big long son of a guns. And he went down in there and didn’t get to the bottom yet. And then that runs all the way down to the Owl Hole. and then way down below, at the Owl Hole where the mouth of the tunner come out, there’s coal runnin’ up, ’cause that railroad comes down, the Third Spring is right there and then down below it there’s a little hollow up into the mountin there and there’s coal all the way down to Buck Mountain, over that mountain. there’s coal. And that wasn’t worked in my time. But there’s coal there, because I seen it. See, the, the old water-way that the waters used to go down to the Owl Hole before, it used to go down, well, the boss that worked Number Ten, Paddy Gallagher, he’s Irish, and he had to go down. I don’t know how it used to be, twice a week or how, and look, I don’t know what, I didn’t ask him why did he go in to see there, and he used to take me with him, of course he used to pay me, he used to pay me three hours every time I’d go down there with him. When I go down this far, where there’s a small hole, it wasn’t too wide it was about five feet wide, and just enough that you could go up under it and go up in there. And he used to go up in there someplace, And he’d tell me–and then he had to go through water fallin’ down. But just a short piece, you know, you could jump through– couple of jumps and he’s out from under it again then, it were dry back there. He used to tell me, he says, he hass to make a report you know about, well I didn’t ask him what do you go to see there? I thought none of my business. So finally he says to me, when we come there to this hole and you could see the water falling down–and we were burnin’ oil lamps at the time–so I used to take and mix the oil lmp you know, all fixed up and wrap it in this here paper, this dynamite paper that’s all waxed, you know, heavy, and it’s a heavy paper–wrap it up good in that and some matches you know and a that holds a pint of oil. When he passed the water then I would throw this up to him up through the water, you know, and he would pick it up on the other side, because
Tape 16-1, page 19
because his lamp would be drownded out and it wouldn’t burn. So, when I’d throw it to him he would light up and he says, okay–if I don’t be back in fifteen minutes, he says, you go for help. See that’s why I used to go down with him, so what ever he used to go back in there to see or what, I don’t know. But there’s lots of coal back there.
AV: Wow! Do you think he took out coal from there?
JS: There’s what?
AV: Do you think he got coal?
JS: Oh, they’ll get that, they’ll get that. That ain’t too deep. That won’t be too deep. They’ll strip that when they get goin’. Unless they’ll stop strippin’ altogether. I seen in the paper where they’re tryin’ to stop them, more of these strippins’.
AV: Oh, yeah.
JS: That their destroyin’ a lot of land and everything Well they are you know, they are. Yeah, they’re destroyin’ lots.
AV: Mr. Zahay said it was all forest at one time.
JS: You take down right down here, before, it was nice down through here, you got [???? handwritten words] Now they have it all stripped up. All covered–you see that opening down there where that big dry tree is?
AV: Oh yeah.
JS: They took that coal out from down under there. And they had banks that they were made to level off there.
Mrs. S: Angie, you don’t go down from your visits no more!
AV: Not when it’s raining. I don’t!
Mrs. S: No, because all week we had rain and pourin’ rain, not only rain, but pourin’ rain. I guess there’s those strippin’s are all flooded I guess there’s big puddles of water now out that way.
AV: They must be. Unless.…
Tape 16-1, page 20
JS: I hope it don’t rain any more. Gee, them poor people have enough, the way that [Watch?] have hit pretty hand. See that Wyoming Valley, all that valley goin’ down you know from Wilkes-Barre down through that way, that’s all gettin’ it down there. Into Harrisburg, and all the way down in through there.
AV: Do you think a lot of this water is draining off into the mines around here?
JS: Well, they have mines drowned that way, yeah. Yeah. Them mines will be all drownded. Everything.
AV: What was that time, they say, that the mines around here were flooded?
JS: That’s when you get bigger rains, you know, the water breaks in some places. See, some places, they mine and they come under it where the roof ain’t very strong, and it’s mostly all clay, you know, it ain’t no good rock. And they mine too much and too wide around there, and first thing it breaks in , that’s when they called it a flood in the mine. Look out, boy! Run for your life! That river broke in a mine down Wilkes-Barre.
JS: Yeah. And it caught I don’t know how many men in there then.
Mrs. S: There were thirteen men they lost.
AV: When did that happen?
Mrs. S: It was a couple years ago now…
JS: No, not too long, a few years back. Oh, they tried to block it. They were runnin’ these big in, you know, to stop that water goin’ down in the mine. And hay, bales of hay, and what-not, they were dumplin’ sic in that hole down by the river where it was goin’ down in the mines, and they couldn’t stop it. So, I don’t know what the hell is they done afterward, did they let it that way or what they done, I don’t know.
AV: Did that ever happen in the mines here?
Tape 16-1, page 21
JS: Well, not in Eckley here, no place. There was a little bit in Number Two one time, on the west [?????] side, they had it break in, there were some old mine holes, you know, caves, which rivered the water. And there were quite a bit of water in them. And they broke in–oh boy you oughta see how water is strong. You wouldn’t think it. The cars that were in there, you know, and when it hit, the water hit them, why. pushin’ them out and pushin’ timber and everything out, until the cars started to get off the road, you know, jump the track, then it twisted them up and piled them up in there and you’d think somebody jammed them in there. That’s how strong water is. I never thought it was that strong, but I seen that. That was there, after we were working in there, we were lookin’ at it. how it had them cars and everything jammed up just, you’d think somebody pressed them in there, everthing. And what, timbers and everything pushed out you know, with it. til it got struck, it couldn’t push no more.
AV: My goodness! That’s strong.
JS: [?????????] wouldn’t have [blank space] it would have pushed them out to who knows where it would have pushed them. But when they [???????????????????????????].
Mrs. S: Angie, did you enjoy the movie last night?
AV: No, I didn’t go, we couldn’t find it!
Mrs. S: Oh, you didn’t go?
JS: Yes, that’s mining. for you.
AV: And I heard that sometimes these coal beds used to catch on fire?
JS: Oh, yes. You know, I don’t know how the hell they get the coal on fire. Now before, when the mines were goin’ here, you didn’t hear of a mine fire. It was all right. And now since they’re after the government to appropriate so much money for them to outen them fires, there’s fires all over the gosh darn mines. How the hell are they gettin’ on fire now? I say it’s somebody puttin’ ’em on fire. That’s what they’re doin’.
Tape 16-1, page 22
AV: Couldn’t happen accidentally?
JS: They get millions of dollars off the government to flush them, you know. and stuff, and that’s what they’re doin’. And then the government. I don’t know, the sons of a gun, if you look into things, why you could cut half the expense it, what’s goin’ for nothin’. They’re the cheatin’ the hell out of them and they listen to them and and appropriate so much money for that. And they have a good time then. And sometimes they outen the fires and sometimes they don’t.
AV: I know near Ashland where we went to visit, they say that there’s this mine that’s been on fire for years and years.
JS: Yes. Well, it burns slow because coal burns slow, you know. And if it’s in big pillars, you know, I guess what happens, she goin’ slowly, but it takes, maybe it takes a year to go from this shanty to that-there rooms over there, and so on you know. Well, it takes years and years before it’ll burn out. It all depends on what kind of a place it is. If it’s on the pitch, and there’s homes built over the damn land, that’s a danger, because if that burns all out, then she’ll fall down and everything’ll go down. But it it’s on a flat, when-t- well then you ain’t afraid so much because she’d settle down more, by the time it gets to the bottom again, you know, she’d set on that and just make a dip or somethin’. won’t upset the homes or anything. But these pitch places, when they go down they go down. What the hell, you won’t get the house no more or nothin’. And if you’re in it, you’re down there, too.
JS: Yeah, it’s pretty dangerous. where there’s pitch.
AV: I heard that there was some setting in Mckley, too.
JS: Oh, yeah, there used to be lots of settling. That there, back of Helen’s, you know, where you see that , there were all homes through there, and that settled down.
AV: That Back Street?
Tape 16-1, page 23
AV: That settled?
JS: Yeah, that all settled down, them homes down in through there.
Mrs. S: Well then, where we live, how did that settle?
JS: Well, this here, was from up here down, all the way down this way, that settled down.
JS: No, it just made a crack maybe in the wall you know here or there, and there are two big cracks down in across there, the garden, we lived in that house before. And, ah, oh they were open like that because you could look the hell way down, you could see way down. But that was flat. It just settled down, settled down. It didn’t damage the houses so they would have to repair them or anything. Only maybe foundations were cracked around. But they settled down.
AV: Oh! When did that happen?
JS: Oh, well. it’s a good while ago.
Mrs. S: It isn’t quite so long, because our Margaret was a small baby. And Margaret is forty-three years, forty-two years old.….
JS: Could be about forty, forty years or something like that.
Mrs. S: More than forty years. Forty some years. Forty-three years old. Forty-three years.
JS: And I filled them cracks up with every old scraps and everything that was around, rocks, stones, big ones, put’em in wheelbarrows and throw them down in there, and got sealed off. Because it was takin’ all the soil, you know, for garden.
AV: My goodness!
JS: And I had a nice garden down there, too.
Mrs. S: You got orders to, ah, Angie, you got orders for all this uptown here, down to–you got orders to move out. You were just livin’ on the risk of your
Tape 16-1, page 24
own, this here. If anything, if your house settled down or anything, your company didn’t stand for it. You know, just like we’re payin’ rent now, well, they didn’t stand for it. You just took a risk of your own. Well, that’s the same thing, the guy that, the foreman of the homes here, he came and gave you a orders, did you want to live in it, well, that’s okay, but if you don’t want to live in it.….
JS: I was working on that there then. I was driving mules then. To the miners that were workin’ there. But it was flat every place there.
Mts. S: And there was nobody drove in this part of the street, this corner here, it was roped off. And there was that highway wasn’t goin’ to Wetherly like the highways go now, this way. It come just so far and this was like an alley, in between. Where, where this house (sic) is now goin’ to , to wetherly, that road, well that wasn’t a state highway. They just built that state highway I guess about forty years ago, forty three years.
AV: When did you drive mules?
JS: Well. I was patchin’. Well, I didn’t patch long, maybe about a year or so. Then they give me two mules right off the bat to drive.
AV: What year was that?
JS: Oh, about nineteen-seven or eight when I started off.
JS: Hmm. Then I’m driving, then I got the big, big team.
AV: What big team?
JS: The four mules.
AV: Oh, yeah?
JS: Then I used to drive that one. That was a tough job, there. I used to have the big runs, you know, [splitting] cars. You’d give the cars to the miners, then you’d gather them all up and run them down the run.
AV: All at once?
JS: Yeah! Sometimes you’d have thirty-five and more cars at once, and
Tape 16-1, page 25
sprag’em. My God, if you didn’t know how to sprag the cars, or if you mis-spragged, you’d smash the cars. That was just like you know. Green, you know, you’d see lights, when they’d go down.
AV: Well, how could you sprag them if they went that fast?
JS: Well, they went fast. I’m tellin’ you. I wouldn’t be able to do it today, I don’t know if I’d sprag five of them when they would start goin’ like that. But you get used to it. It’s like every other job, you know.
JS: You get workin’ at it, you get so used to it, you just think you’re playin’! Just like these here jugglers, throwing them things and catchin’ them, you know. That’s the way you have to be. Because the sprags are in the, they got sprag boxes on the cars, you know. One on this side, one there. Well, all you do is—-that’s the way you keep on puttin’ ’em in as they go. If you get dizzy, you’re no good. You don’t know what to do. but you just have to keep on and keep on until the last one comes, then you jump on for a ride!
AV: On my goodness! Well, did you sprag all thirty five cars?
JS: Yes. Sometimes I had more than thirty five!
AV: Front and back wheels?
JS: Yeah. So, I’m tellin’ you, it, it, that’s what I say, when the gosh-dang mines were goin’, that’s when they shoulda had somebody in takin’ pictures
Mrs. S: You know, Angie, when the men were workin’, and when was it, they used to leave about quarter to seven, early, they used to go all up. You’d think it’s like a parade, up the street. The mule stable was down–I couldn’t tell you where, where the road that goes into the colliery, it used to be across there, and when they used to take the mules out, well they used to, all the mules used to be comin’ one after another up the street to the work, like, when they’re goin’ down to the [blank space.] And he used to drive the mules, he used to come up the street drivin’ mules.
JS: Yeah, you’d see them, like soldiers!
Tape 16-1, page 26
AV: Where was the mule stable?
JS: Down below, where the end of the town is, the last house on that side.
AV: Oh, Emil Gera…
JS: Down below all the way down through there. Oh, it was…
AV: Where Emil Gera lives.
JS: a big stable. Yes. That was a big mule stable. I guess they had around two hundred mules in there.
AV: Two hundred!
JS: Um-hmm. Well, they didn’t have them all workin’. They’d have a couple of spare. in case one got hurt or cut or somethin’, you know. Then they would have extra. Yes, they had a lot of mules there then. Yeah. it was a big stable.
AV: Was there another stable before that one?
JS: No, that was the only one I remember. Yeah, that was a big stable. And see. the son of a gun, when the mule worked so long. you know, and he was gettin’ old and slowed up and worked out, you know, on the other side of the road where it turns there, off [??] the town, down, on that side, that was another big field there, and they used to put’em in there, pensioned. And the miners, they wouldn’t pension!
AV: They didn’t pension the miners at all?
JS: No. Nothin’! We didn’t get nothin’, no, no Social Security, no pension, no nothin’.
AV: When was that?
JS: Before, before this come into affect, Social Security and pension you know, and before that you didn’t get nothin’. If you was hurt, you was sittin’ home til you went back to work.
AV: idn’t anybody take care of them? No unions?
JS: Nothin’ at all. Well, there were a union, but what the hell good was it?
AV: No good?
JS: Just like today, you see the fight goin’ on in the United Mine Workers?
Tape 16-1, Page 27
AV: Yeah, yeah.
JS: How they cheated the miners. They cheated them every way. And they’re doin’ it yet. Where the hell do you see a man worth a hundredthousand dollar’s salary? That’s too much money for doin’ nothin’. you’re not doin’ nothin. Like they’re all millionaires, ove the earlier, takin’ the miners’ money
Like now, take this here r[??????}on the coal. When this come into effect, we won it by a strike. We were out on strike to make a new contract.
JS: Way back when they started this cut off. And, ah, the company, well then they agreed they would give us that there pension, you know. So finally what they done was this: the coal operators, they raised the coal one dollar, that was, the public pays that dollar. Every time you buy a ton of coal, you’re payin’ one dollar towards this pension. And what the hell, they were collectin’ the money, the company. Well, they weren’t payin’ it into the pension fund. They were hold back, there were complanies, lots of companies were back over millions and thousands and thousands of dollars, and they weren’t payin’ ’em back. Now they took it into courts, and they finally got money back. But what the hell, it didn’t do the men any good. They didn’t give nothin’ to us. Nobody got nothin’. that’s all. So, compnay used to get a quarter out of it, and seventy-five cents went into the pension fund. But that wasn’t goin’ in, because the company, I guess, was in partners with the union officials and they were splittin’ between theirselves that money, and they weren’t puttin’ it there. So, no when they went into courts about it, well they, they won the cases. BVut it didn’t do the men any bood, because they Well, we get thrity dollars a month. For the richest union in the country. The most money in the country. Well, take this, like Tony Boyle, he’s the president of the miners. Huh! He’s gettin’ a hundred thousand dollars a
Tape 16-1, page 28
year, besides how much he’d be gettin’ expense. Now they get an expense. Be-God Almighty, why fifty people could live an awful good life on the expense money they turn in. Now what are they gonna do with that money? Now, Boyle has his hands full because they got into that shootin’, that there Yablonski and his wife and a daughter. I know his life ain’t worth nothin’ to him today, because he has a big headache, you know. And the fellow warned him-I just forgot his name–he told him, and this is startin’ to go on when he was runnin’ for the office back again, he said if I was you, he said, you know what I would do? He said, I would put my hands down and wash them and tell them you’s can have the office. You got enough to live. And he said, if you don’t. he says, you’ll be the most sorry man ever was in you life. He says, don’t run! And he wouldn’t listen. He had to go to work and shoot that guy. Because he was gonna tell somethin’ on him, you know, to the goverment. There was supposed to be a hearing about that guy. And see, they are all in this gosh-dang racket, they were robbin’ the men. Now, the bank in Washington, I don’t know how many millions is in that bank, and they had it all set for them and all their officers in the Mine Workers, you know, and their families, pensions, this monies. And they weren’t payin’ the interest or nothin’ on this money. That was all, just like put on the side away for them. They caught up with them and they found out what they were doin’ there. So now, they are gonna have an election, a new officer for the mine workers. So I don’t know how the hell it’s gonna come out.
AV: When did you first join the union? When did you join the union the first time?
JS: I was workin’ when there were might as well say no union.
AV: Really? What was it like?
JS: Boss of the company had it on you because they did what they want with you. They drew you around and every damn thing. Well then after, they used to start to pay a quarter a month. But that was only a few, not too many. You
Tape 16-2, Page 29
JS: You were afraid to join the union because that the company would sack you or they wouldn’t give you a job, or drill you around and give you a bad job that you wouldn’t like.
AV: Really? What happened?
JS: Well, then later on the union got a little stronger, and stronger, first the men, when they’d go to pay their dues, they’d go in the night or somebody would see them, to go and pay their quarter a month.
AV: Where would they go?
JS: Down where they had their union meetin’ wherever they would have it.
AV: Where was it usually?
JS: Well, they used to have this schoolhouse down below, and different places like that. So, after that, they started to get a little stronger, and more would was joinin’ and more joinin’, ’til our officials, they got in with the operators, they would start to lean towards it, you know. See, then they made it up–now, it wasn’t the company’s idea, it was our, our big guys, you know, in the union– they wanted every an to belong to the union. What did they do? They made an agreement with the companies that the company take check-off. That’s where check-off started. With the miners. And that was the worst damn thing that ever happened, because every, every place throughout the country, now, that’s how it is, check-off. They’ll take off, deduct what they want off your pay and you hain’t got nothin’ to say. They take it before you get to that. And I said that hain’t right. Because if you work for that money and that belongs to you, they should had it to you, and then whatever you wanted to do with it, it was up to you. But no, they made it as a ruling, you know, United Mine Workers, they take the money off your check, and they call it the check-off. That’s how that started. So when this here assessment come on for the
Tape 16-1, page 30
welfare, that one dollar, that was a good idea. You know, the governor stuck his nose in it. He says, now, he says, that’s goin’ into effect. He says how about it, he says, if they go to work, he says, the government will put in so much money and let the coal caompanies put in so much money, and elect three government men, three operators, and three miners, and let them control that, run it, you know, and we’ll look into it that they do the right thing. NO. Our union officials said there ain’t no goddam this and that and that gonna handle union money That belongs to the union. Well sure, that belong to them and not to the men that were supposed to get it. You know if they run that right, miners could be pensioned as nice as any other concern in the country. But, no. Now they are, soft coal, they are payin’ them a hundred and fifty dollars a month. Over here they are payin’ thirty dollars. Not thirty because you are payin’ a dollar and quarter dues yet out of it.
AV: Were the unions always that rotten? Even in the beginning?
JS: Yeah. Oh. A long time ago is a good man. This here Lewis wasn’t too good. He started the racket already. But John Mitchell was a good man. He was a good man. He said, You know, he said, if United Mine workers organized together and he says everybody pays the union, he says, if they pay thirty-five cents a month, he said we’ll have the strongest union and the best union that htere is in the country. And him, and there was a lady. Mother Jones they used to call her.…
AV: Oh, yeah?
JS: Yes, she used to go around with them. And they used to have speeches to get everybody, you know, in the union, that they would stick, and wouldn’t listen to politics and stuff. But he says, you keep your union and keep it out of politics, he said. And he says you will have something. Why they used to be up here, you know where this Washko’s live on that corner house, well that was a field there, all grass, they aren’t no trees or anything, that was all grass. They used to come there and they used to have speeches. They’d get
Tape 16-1, Page 31
on a barrel, you know, and have speeches. This here Mitchell and Mother Jones they used to call her. She could talk, too, don’t think she couldn’t. A good fighter she was.
AV: Oh really! Who was she?
JS: I don’t know where she was from or what. But she was good.
AV: What did she do?
JS: Well, they used to tell the men how to organize and how to stay together and what to do and don’t let nobody come and fool you’s, you know.
AV: Oh yeah?
JS: Get you’s on the wrong side. He says then you’s ‘ll
And I don’t think that would be true, too if they would have listened to the government. If they would listen to the government that time. Our pension would be good. Why you know I betcha today our pension woud be that good that you could live on it, without lookin’ for anything else, if they would have run it right. But nobody watched them or anything. Now you mean to tell me, or anybody else, the company runnin’ a mine, nobody lookin’ in it or anything, that they’re gonna give the right tonnage that they run through. All right, they’ll say that that complany is runnin’ through maybe fifty thousand tons a day. twenty thousand, what the hell, nobody is lookin’ after them. Well, that would be that many dollars less, would be seventy-five cents, that would be less they are gettin’, because nobody checkin’ on them. I told them one time, I says, no listen, if you want to have the right amount of money comin’ in on your assessent, I says, the only way, I says, you can do, I says, is select a man and put him under heavy bond, and let him watch that colliery, how many tons is goin’ out every day. Oh, that will cost too much money! It won’t cost you a penny, it’s gonna make money for you, because the company, they ain’t givin’ you the right amount of tonnage goin’ out
Tape 16-1, Page 32
AV: They always cheated you?
JS: They always did. All the time cheatin’. Nobody lookin’ after it.
AV: Well, who used to weigh the cars?
JS: Well, they have these , the old sixty-ton, they have different ones, they have some hold sixty tons and some higher, and some less. Bigger and smaller you know. So, they fill them up and then they run them through on a scale, when they go out from under the breaker. And they could easy find out, and have the rifght amount, buy nobody lookin’ after, nothin’.
AV: What kind of union meetings did they have?
JS: Oh, you get guys that are afraid to back up, somebody make a motion to do this, another one will get up and, No, that’s no good, we’ll get into trouble and this and that, so that’s a measure die out.
AV: And where would they use to meet, in the schoolhouse?
JS: In what?
AV: In the school house?
JS: Yeah, whe they had these schoolhouses they used to have meetings in the schoolhouse. So that that used to be lots and lots of stuff.….
AV: How did they pay you? How did they check how much you got in a car when you sent it up?
JS: Well, they, you had a ticket on your car, and then every time it come to the dump shanty where they dumped the car, they took that ticket off. Then on the end of the two weeks rthey took all them tickets and they, they marked every day how much went out this day for you, how much that day, but then they used to dock, dock from them cars that you loaded, they’d say they were slight, you know, or this or that. They used to dock. Well one time from the beginning they were dock’ heavy. Sometimes you would load five cars, you would get two, they wold dock three, and there you are.
AV: What’s docking?
JS: They’d take and you woldn’t get paid for that many. They’d say that only two was good and the rest was no good
Tape 16-1, Page 33
AV: Who used to check that?
JS: Well, you couldn’t fight.
AV: But, who used to say that the car is no good?
JS: The dockin’ boss. They used to have a dockin’ boss in the dump shanty when the cars were gettin’ dumped, that’s they way they used to do that.
AV: Were these English people? English people did that?
JS: Well, they weren’t nobody too rish, but they were bosses or somethin’, and that’s the kind of dockin’ boss, he docked the coal. Oh, there was a one guy he were terrible, everybody was moanin’ like hell about him. But what the hell, like I say, you couldn’t do too much because the union wasn’t strong enough. Well, hell, I know before, the unios were that weak, that they went out on strike, maybe Eckley, Drifton. Cox’s will be out on strike and Jedda Highland they wold be workin’. Well, they they would have to go and stop the breakers. Go in the night, have to sneak in the night up to the breakers and when the men were comin’ into work, you know, stop them.
AV: How did they do that?
JS: Well, they wouldn’t just them them go up there. Oh, there used to be shootin’ that time down down that way. That was doin’ that, too, they were tryin’ to stop them from goin’ to work and they got fightin’.
AV: What happened?
JS: Oh, they shot men . They shot a good bit there then.
AV: Did they?
JS: Yeah. So that’s how it went. Then the rest would be afraid you know. They would go back. Instead of fightin’ like hell they would lay down and forget about it. And they used to do what the hell they wanted.
AV: They were quite powerful.
JS: Yeah, yeah! Just like the Molly Maguires were powerful.
AV: It sounds like it
JS: Yeah, they were powerful. Complanies, oh hell, they were smart then. They
Tape 16-1, Page 34
were terrible. Well at least the Coxes, when they run it, they were pretty fair. Mrs. Cox, she was a good woman, she was a good woman. Oh, she helped a lot of people.
AV: What did she do?
JS: She give them eats, you know, and milk and everything, even buy clothes for people, you know. And every Christmas, every school in her territory, like Drifton, Eckely, Humboldt and all of these that were her collieries, you know, the school children used to Christmas presents. She used to have a program every Christmas. All the, like now, already before Christmas, about a month or better maybe, the teachers used to be learin’ the kids–bigger classes, higher–programs, you know. And they’d have that goin’ all day before Christmas, and she’d pass the presents out. pretty nice presents, and some clothes or something, candy, oranges! Yeah, they used to be pretty good. First they used to give then out in the store, when the store was down below, and they used to say that the parents would have to go down and bring the stuff up because the kids couldn’t, wouldn’t be able to carry it. She used to give, oh, you’d see a big truckload come in with presents. And that was all over, all over, she used to do that. Yeah, she was a good old woman. She was small, small lady.
AV: Oh yeah?
JS: Very small. But she used to like the kids! Boy, she enjoyed that more than anything. That used to cost her hundreds of thousand dollars! All them presents that she used to buy. Yes.
AV: Why did she do that?
JS: Well, she was just so good-hearted. She like the people and all, and she knew that she made it here on the coal, you know, so she didn’t care that she was spendin’ it. If you had a couple of women like that, you would have something.
JSL You know one time Henry Ford wanted to buy a
Tape 16-1, Page 35
place down here by along that river there somewhere. And he wanted to make a big factory there. And the coal operators and our union officials buyed him out.
JS: Yeah, they buyed him out. Yeah, they told him, because he wanted to buy Eckley…
AV: He did?
JS: For the coal, and Drifton, and I don’t know what other place. I think he wanted about three collieries, he wanted to buy. Well then, the union wouldn’t have nothin’ to do with it, because Henry Ford was the owner. So they Henry Ford and they told him, they say, he says, what are you gonna pay the miners when you are gonna take over? He says that’s my business. He says there isn’t a man starved yet, workin’ under Henry Ford, he say, and they won’t. He said I know what the men are worth and I know what kind of work they’re doin’. and I know what to pay them. He said I won’t interfere with your coal business, he siad. That’ll be my coal for my factories. He says I won’t be going to market with my coal, he says. I want that for my factories. They wouldn’t do it. They buyed him out somehow. they went to the Coxdes and told the Coxes, Oh they give it to him, you’ll lose everything and all, and you know just monkeying around so that Ford called it off. He said if you don’t give me the coal mines I won’t build it. See, because he’d have the , he’d have the coal here and everything. And the people around here would have it nice, workin’ for him. But that’s where they fooled. There was a lot of things the men were cheated to the miners around here. Cheated out of a lot of things. and who the hell was doin’ it? Your own goddam big officials! The unnion men with their operators. Well, actualy, the coal operators, you know, they’re lookin’ for themselves to make the goddam coal. Where the union officials, where
Tape 16-1, page 36
they should look for the men, but they did like hell, they looked for theirselves and their company. They were always in snooks with the company!
AV: In snooks, right?
JS: Sure! They used to and to hell with the men.
AV: My goodness. Why do you think they were so selfish?
JS: I do’t know, I don’t know. Yeah, you get nothin’. Now lookit, when President White of the United Mine Workers, whe he went out and he was president, he took and sold the goddam miners out to the operators. In one year’s time. He wasn’t even in there a year, and he sold it out to the, to the operators.
AV: Did your officials here do that?
AV: They did! Who?
JS: Mitchell. John Mitchell was his name. White, I mean, not Mitchell. White
AV: John White?
JS: White was his name.
AV: What did he do?
JS: He was president of the United Mine Workers. He won out at the election, you know. And he wasn’t in there I don’t think one year when he sold out to the gosh darn operators.
AV: Hmm. This was in Eckley?
JS: No, he was, I don’t know what the hell place he was from. Because, see it goes in the district, the whole damn section. All the mines you know they’re goin– anthracite now. I don’t know who the hell is runnin’ them because they have trouble there.
AV: How about the local Eckley mine? Who ran that union?
JS: Well, as I say, Coxes had it first, that was theirs,, see, they got this
AV: Who ran the union in Eckley?
JS: Oh. Jees, well, first was this here–I forget their names, and then come in
Tape 16-1, page 37
a couple different cones were elected, well then after they went by, when White got out, when he out, then there was another guy in for awhile, but he was only in one term, and then Lewis come after and he was in for a long time.
AV: Did he do a good job?
JS: No, he wasn’t too bad, but he was not any too good. He was for himself, too. He was for himself.
AV: This was the Eckley union?
JS: No, all the unions, all the whole district, you know. All the anthracite. So that’s how they They cheated the men right and left, all the way, and they’re still cheatin’. They cheastin’ them now. They were gonna knock this thirty dollars off, but then a bunch of men down the line, down in gilberton down there, they got together, they started to look into these things, you know. And finally they held out six checks for us already. They were figurin’ for the whole damn thing, you know. Now when the men that worked in the mines here, in the colliery here, if they died that they give them five hundred dollars for burial, you know. Now they knocked that off.
AV: They did?
JS: Yeah, they even knocked that off.
AV: When did they first start with that five hundred dollars?
Mrs S: They used to give eleven dollars, now it’s five hundred
JS: Quite a long time. They’re rotten, you know, they’re rotten. I’m tellin’ you. They’re no good. I wouldn’t say if it was hurtin’ them any, or if they had to pay somethi’ to it. But what the hell, they’re gettin’ their salaries from the miners, and what the hell do they want to pull tricks off like that? But see, there is nobody lookin’ into it. But now already the governor got his hands into it somehow. Now they’re havin’ cases. Now this case that they shot that man and the wife and the daughter,
Tape 16-1, page 38
why he has sons that are lawyers and they’re pushin’ and the state if pushin’ wirth that, that’s the government. They’re have the case, and now lookit, when they started off they just had that Ghilly and two more guys and Ghilly’s wife, the murderers. Now already there’w about seven, eight, nine, ten of them already.
AV: It really sounds like the Mollies doesn’t it?
JS: So now, now they’re gettin’ more and the cases are goin’ on, they’re gettin’ more of them that were in that. And they still don’t know who the hell is the man that furnished the money for that murderer. The guy that, he’s sentenced to death already, first degree, and he says that the man that give him money is, he don’t know gave, only his name is Tony, but he won’t say what Tony or who, you know. Maybe it is Tony Boyle himself. Because where the hell did they get the money. They got the money out of the United States Treasury–United Miner’s Treasure. That’s where the money come from! But that was a hell of a trick to do, go and shoot women. Now is that something. I wouldn’t say if they shot the man, well he had some kind of grudge, you know, but what the hell did the two women do? They were in bed yet at that, sleepin’ in bed, no? So that’s the kind of a guy they got, when they go and do that. Now them guys that shot him, you can blame them guys, the instigators, that got them and give the the money ad planned all of this out for them, you know. I blame them more than the guys that done it. Because if they wouldn’t have got them to do it, they wouldn’t have done it. But they got them up to do it and paid them and all. That’s a nasty.… It’s a terrible world!
AV: Well.…I know. I’d better go have some lunch! What do you think, before Helen.…Helen is wondering what.….
JS: Helen will give you the sack!
AV: Or else she’ll feed me mashed potatoes and sour milk all week!
JS: Did you see the sun popped out today? It just popped a little bit and then went back.
Tape 16-1, page 39
AV: Tell me where you heard where there’s pines……
JS: Where there’s pines, that’s where the coal grew.
AV: Oh, what kind of pines?
JS: Just trees.
AV: Like, those things in your garden, these.…
JS: Hemlock, bull pine. See, there’s two different pines there. That’s a hemlock there, and this here one that’s a bull pine, what they call.
AV: That tall one?
JS: The one on this side. That’s a bull pine. Then down below they start already, this spruce, single. They’re a different pine. But they claim where the pines grow that’s where there’s coal underground, in there. That’s how they bought this up, mostly Buck Mountain, there were a lot of pine down in there, and that’s where they looked and they seen that that was coal in there. So from there one, they used to folley up, where there’s a lot of pine, there’s coal.
AV: That’s interesting to know. Who used to say that, where did you hear that?
JS: Oh, I heard one time when they bought this land. I don’t know, they didn’t pay big money for it neither. And they knew already buy the pines that there’s coal there. And nobody else knew, you know. And that’s how they bought this up. They didn’t pay too much money.
AV: Some of the original guys that were here?
AV: Why do you think that pines grow where the coal is?
JS: I don’t know. Well, I think that’s in nature, you know, they folley up. Different things grow different places. Why, I planted all these trees here, just babies, and then I like to see them grow up, from small up.
A. Varesano interviewing M/M Joe Sulkusky – 1 – 8/8/72 Tape 30-1
AV: Where did you get that picture of the sacred heart on the wall?
MS: Well, that was, my greanddaughter painted that.
AV: She did?
MS: She painted that.
AV: When did she give it to you?
MS: She gave it to me sometime arund Christmas time or so.
AV: How many years ago?
MS: Oh, that’s quite a bit of, many years. And that’n that’n I don’t know who gave that to me, too, that little picture.
AV: Of the sacred heart?
MS: The sacred heart.
AV: Why do you keep it in the kitchen?
MS: Well, I keep it in the kitchen, like now, that’s the Lord’s Suppeer, well I keep that all the time here, bcause we have our meals here, you know.
AV: But why do you keep those other two here in the kitchen?
MS: Oh, just I feel that I have something, you know, , to show
AV: How do you meaan? Something holy to show?
MS: Something holy to show.
AV: Why do you keep the holy calendar underneath there? Why this holy calendar?
MS: That’s a reminder that I know the dates of the saints.
AV: Oh, I see, it’s one of those.
MS: Yes. See, I have all the saints, reminds you on that.
MS: You get that f rom the church, you know. Around Christmas time, before Christmas, around the fifteenth of, or the eighth of December, we already get them, you know, to announce what is there, remind us of the saints we’re havin’.
AV: Yeah. Why do you thhink a holy calendar is better?
MS: Well, just that we believe in the holy calendars, and we think it’s to remind us, you know, to think about what this here saints is, and what days they have the saints on.
AV: And this sacred heart over here, are you devoted to that?
MS: Well, I am devoted to the Blessed Mother and the Sacred Heart.
AV: I mean, that’s your specific devotion?
MS: That’s right.
AV: What about the rosary? Do you still say the rosary?
MS: I belong to the rosary. I belong to the rosary. From a little child up I belong, since my mother brought me up to belong to the rosary, and I still belong to the rosary now.
AV: What do you mean, “belong to the rosary”?
MS: Well, you change, the, you see, like the rosary cards we change. You know, I change my card every month. I have a different,ah month for the rosary, to pray. The devotions you know, that we have.
AV: What does that do for you? I mean, what do you get out of it?
MS: Well, I don’t, but still I feel that I belong to that, you know, that I should honor it, you know, that’s what I do is, is say my prayers in the mornings and honor the rosary.
AV: How many do you say every day?
MS: I say every morning and every night, in the evening, I say.
AV: A whole rosary?
MS: A whole rosary. And if I want to take time out, I can do it more often, too, if I want to do it. You know, but that’s my morning and night devotion that I say my whole rosary, and then in the evening I do say my rosary. That’s
A Varesano interviewing M/M Joe Sulkusky – 2 – 8/8/82[?] 8/8/72 Tape 30-1 035
why you often see me sittin’ on the swing I be there, sittin’ alone, and I dictated (sic) that to the rosary. You know, I have it by myself, and I, that’s how I pass my time in the evening.
AV: Well, how does this rosary society work? What do you use the card for?
MS: That you get your card, what you have to pray the devotion to what saint. You know, like the lady that gives you the card, she changed the card, well then you pray that, all month you pray that rosary to that saint.
AV: To a saint?
MS: That’s the name of the, the seer, the saint, the ro, the rosary, that you do.
AV: Oh. I thought that the different cards have different mysteries.
MS: Well, that’s what you do when you get your mystery. And you pray to that mystery.
AV: For a month?
MS: For a whole month you do that. To that one saint, you do the mysteries, you know, you get your mystery out.
AV: Gee, that’s a little different from what I learned. But, how do you concentrate on the mysteries when you’re saying the rosary?
MS: Well, you pray to that mystery that you got to pray, all, all month you do it.
AV: For example, what’s the one for this month?
MS: I have like, I have, mine is the blessed of the, ah, I just can’t explain it to you, it’s in this here, that I do it.
AV: Oh, what is it in Slavic?
MS: In Slavic it’s [??????????], you know, when Jesus was arisen from birth, from the, the.….
AV: From the dead?
MS: Yeah, yeah.
AV: Oh, the Resurrection.
MS: The Resurrection.
AV: So then, what do you do with that mystery?
MS: Well, then, I pray that all month.
AV: All month?
MS: All month I do that. That’s my [?????] to pray all month for that mystery that I get, that I have to pray to that all month.
AV: What do you mean, pray to it?
MS: Honor that .
AV: How do you do that?
MS: Well, just that, to pray to.
AV: You mean, when you’re saying the Hail Mary’s, what do you do?
MS: Hail Mary Our Father Who Art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name, Thy Kingdom come, They will be done on earth as it is in Heaven, Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us, lead us not in temptation, but deliver us from evil, Amen. And when you say that, repeat that every, (this here (/?)..)
AV: What do you mean, between the Hail Marys, you repeat…
MS: Yeah, yeah…
AV: …the name of the mystery.
MS: Mysteries, um-hum.
AV: So you’d say like a Hail Mary, and then you’d say the Resurrection…
MS: The Resurrection, yeah…
AV: And do you think about the Ressurrection?
MS: Well, I do, I think of that, you know, that, for that prayer I have, for the Resurrection, already trhen.
AV: Is there a special prayer they give you for the Resurrection? I mean, some kind of devotio that you’re supposed to read?
A Varesano intrrviewing M/M Joe Sulkusky – 3 – 8/8/72 Tape 30-1
MS: Well, I guess if you want to, you know.
AV: Otherwise, you just think about it when you’re praying?
MS: That’s right, um-hum.
AV: Well, that do you think, about the Resurrection? What thoughts coe to your mind?
MS: Well, you think about this here, you all the time think of the, your health and everything that comes in your mind, you know. You hope that God would give you all the Graces that you could, you know, receive them.
AV: Yeah? And when you’re thinking about the Resurrection of our Lord what do you think I mean what do you do, meditate on it?
MS: Meditate it, you know.
AV: And what ideas come to you? Just the idea that He rose form the dead, and that’s nice?
MS: That’s right, yeah. All those things that comes in your mind you know, you repeat that for yourself, you know. You have that in your mind, goin’ through, you know, that’s what you have to do.
AV: Gee. Hmm.
MS: What’s the matter?
AV: Oh, it seems different, it’s a different way of approaching things. Do you find that saying the Rosary helps you?
MS: Well, I think it does. It gives me a lot of graces, you know, to go through all that.
AV: Yeah. And does it help you, I mean, just spiritual–for yourself, for your mind or something?
MS: Yes, because thinking maybe spiritually, you know, want in mind, already too.
AV: Do you think it calms you down when you’re nervous?
MS: I think it does.
AV: because it is very repetitious.
MS: Yes, that’s right.
AV: Tell me about this picture of the Holy Family there. Where did you get that from?
MS: Oh, I couldn’t tell you where I got that. That’s years and years I had that. That’s Saint Joseph and the Blessed Mother, and then Jesus when he was twelve years old.
AV: Why do you keep it in this place?
MS: Well, just because I thought it was a nice place to keep it, here.
AV: In the living room?
MS: Yes, this is my sitting room.
AV: Sitting room, yes.
MS: A rest room. I put it here.
AV: Um-hmm. HOw long ago did you get it? Maybe in the twenties or something?
MS: It’s in the forties yet. I just went housekeepin’. And that’s, I’m housekeepin’ already, you take, now, I’m married fifty-seven years, well, you take all these years being in the one home, you know, and raisin’ your family up together, well, that’s all the pictures I have here now.
AV: But that looks to be quite old.
MS: Oh, yes, it’s old, because I’m livin’ already fifty-seven years with my husband, and I’m married fifty-seven years, and now I had that picture already right after after I was married.
AV: Where did you buy it from?
MS: I couldn’t tell you, did somebody give it to me, you know? Before, they used to give you, like you got married, well, you got from the donation, you know, you just appreciated very much, so maybe that somebody gave it to me, or maybe my mother gave it to me, you know, white she was livin’.
A Varesano interviewing M/M Joe Sulkusky – 4 – 8/8/72 Tape 30-1
AV: And why do you think it’s good to have the holy pictures in the sitting room?
MS: Oh, I just feel that it’s more place there, you know? Like, you take that picture there, that’s the Last Supper. Well, you take, it’s a big picture and when anybody comes it’s noticeable, you know, to see that picture there.
AV: Yeah, yeah. It is. And you think it helps to have holy things in the sitting room, and all over the place?
MS: Well, that’s why I think it is. It’s the place for them.
AV: Why is it important that people that come notice the pictures?
MS: Well, becausse there are very few families have pictures any more in the homes already. Like, you take the young generation that’s gorwing up now, they don’t believe in that havin’ holy pictures in the home, you know, they just get any kind of an ordinary thing in, like that, and they don’t bother with the holy pictures.
AV: That’s right. And then, you’re gonna put them up no matter if they have them or not?
MS: Well, if they like them or not, still and all I like the picture, so I put it in.
MS: I still like to have them.
AV: Do you thhink it’s a blessing that you got, too?
MS: Well, I think it’s a blessing you, you take now, that’s your home, well that’s your blessing already. You have all these pictures, that’s the blesssing you are getting for your whole family.
MS: Don’t take my picture, now.
AV: No. Maybe if you’d stand up, I could.…. What’s the thing of St. Anthony over here on the wall? That wooden plaque. Where did you get that from?
MS: I got that from New York. My daughter, when she was visiting New York, she bought, she all the time used to bring some kind of a little token for me that I, that to remember that she was there, to remember that she brought something for me. She did that, she didn’t forget us, you know? Well she was to New York, visiting New York, and that was a state-world, I think, the Fair or something was going on, and they went down to New York, and so that was, my daughter Margaret.…
AV: Oh, that’s the Pieta there.
AV: And then this wooden plaque with the holy water underneath, where did you get that from? It looks to be pretty old.
MS: Why that was a mission goin’ on, in church.
AV: Your church?
MS: Yeah, ad, ah…
AV: St. Kasmir’s?
MS: St. Kasmir’s, or St. John’s, I used to belong. And, there were there, and you picked that, and you thought that was–see, before, they used to have every fountain every this here home had a fountain where you used to, like, you know, you’re goin’ in church, well, you dip your fingers in the holy water. That’s goin’ in church. Well, that’s the same way they had those things in your home. When you’re comin’ in somebody’s home, they have it on the wall, you can dip your, this here, and bless yourself. You know what I mean?
AV: What’s that supposed to do, then?
MS: That’s, you’re gettin’ an honor of the blessing of gettin’ in the home.
AV: I see. It blesses the people in the home, beside yourself?
MS: That’s right.
A. Varesano interviewing M/M Joe Sulkusky – 5 – 8/8/72 Tape 30-1
JS: Now you can take a deer picture!
MS: She has, she’s gonna take pictures in there.
AV: Let me ask, what was the original part of this house? Which rooms here? Was the kitchen orininally here?
JS: No, I built this.
AV: You built the kitchen? When? When did you build it?
MS: Oh, how long is that now? That’s quite some time.
JS: Huh? (He has trouble hearing her).
MS: That’s quite some time alreaedy when we built that kitchen. We used to live down in that house where Helen’s livin’ , where that bungalow is now. That’s where we were livin’, after my mother and father died–after my mother died, then my father asked us to come and stay, he lived along, ah, for us to make a home with him, because he was already eighty-six years old, so he thoufht he was too old to be along, so we came to stay with my father. Then my father died there with us. So that’s quite a while, my father’s dead already I guess about near twenty years already.
AV: So this kitchen was built, when, do you think?
JS: Twenty years or more.
AV: Twenty years? And who built it? You yourself? All by yourself?
JS: And my neighbor. Not this neighbor. Another neighbor was here.
AV: What other neighbor was that?
JS: Boxer, that there, Bradusch was his name.
AV: Bradusch. Boxer Bradusch?
JS: No. His name is, ah, Thomas, Tommy Bradusch.
AV: I see.
JS: That’s his nickname, Boxer!
AV: Why do they call him Boxer?
MS: That’s just the same with you–you go and ask for mine by his name, Joe. You won’t get him. But if you ask Where does Spongy live, now anybody’ll tell you where Spongy lives, because that’s what they all call him, Spongy.
AV: Why do they call you Spongy?
JS: Well, we lived up above where Joey Charnigy[?] is livin’, and we had two cherry trees, one right by the gate, and one right by the side. And there was guys comin’ around adveertising sponge cakes, and they put the tags–they asked my father, can they put the tags on the tree? And he said, Go ahead. So then, they guy, boys come after me, you know, the buddies, and they ask my father Where am I? And he said, That’s the Spongy, up there! So now they call me Spongy!
AV: Ha! Ha!
MS: So you now and ask anybody where does Spongy–they’ll directr you to him. But to Joseph, well, see, they won’t this here, but, Joe, like Spongy, but they’ll know Spongy. Because there are so many people, when the talk they say, are you Spongy’s wife? Yeah. Well that’s how we know, ou are Spongy’s wife, but we don’t know him by his name!
AV: Oh, boy! Well, when did you build those shanties down there?
JS: The other one?
AV: That shanty, yeah.
JS: Oh, that was the company put that up.
AV: Oh, that was the summer kitchen in there, right?
JS: Yeah, that’s what that is for.
AV: When do you think that was built?
JS: Oh, jeez, I don’t know. A hudred and forty years, maybe, or so!
AV: Wow! That’s pretty old.
A. Varesano interviewig M/M Joe Sulkusky -6 – 8/8/72 Tape 30-1
170 JS: That’s how these houses are all
AV: How about that little passageway between the new kitchen and the shanty?
JS: Oh, that, that, I built that.
AV: When did you do that?
JS: Oh, a long time ago. I moved it from that house up here then.
AV: The whole thing?
MS: No, no. On the entrance goin’ in to outside. That little shed. the porch inside.
AV: You mean the door there?
MS: Yeah, he built that porch, you know, the steps and all. That was his neighbor that heped him to build it. The steps and this other room.
JS: One time it was all right here. It wasn’t too bad. they used to have the timber yard right up above the church there, on the upper side. And the lumber used to come in for the mines and all, you know, boards and timber, all kinds of stuff. Well, if you wanted a board or a stool, or somethin’ like that, you’d up there and you took it, and put it up! Oh. they used to steal a lot of lumber.
AV: I guess a lot of people did, from what I heard.
JS: Oh, my God, everybody was takin’ lumber from there, you’d think they owned the place! Buildin’ all kinds of sheds and every darn thing. And the farmers used to help theirselves–from Sandy Valley, you know, out on top of the hill. They used to come up and load the big wagonloads full and build barns and all for themselves from that.
AV: Well, what did they use the lumber for around here? To build their shanties?
JS: In the mines.
AV: Oh, in the mines. And the people that took it, what did they use it for? Buildings, their shanties?
JS: Well, some of them would build, you know, something that they’d want to build, and, before–there was a shed here, but it was only small, you know, about like that.
MS: Just and entrance.…
AV: Like, four feet wide…
JS: It was, oh, I’d say about six feet this way and maybe a bout eight feet that way.
MS: We used to have a sink out there for the water, you know.
AV: And it used to reach all the way over to the summer kitchen?
JS: No, no, this’n I moved out the way to there. That’s was only a little over half-way, a little over half. Just a small shed.
AV: And how did you get into the summer kitchen, before?
JS: Under it? (he doesn’t hear.)
MS: How did you get into the summer kitchen?
JS: Oh, through the side door, over there. You’d come in that way.
AV: I see. There wasn’t any boardwalk across here to the summer kitchen?
MS: Well, there was a boardwalk there, there was a porch in between. You know when we had that this here, that little shed we had, well, there was a little boardwalk that used to go in the summer kitchen.
JS: Yeah, well, you could go out this way, too.
AV: What about this picture of Our Lady of Lourdes over here, where did you get this from?
MS: I said, I don’t know, because I got so many pictures. You know, when I went housekeepin’, well, one would give you this another would give you that.
AV: It was a present, like?
MS: Yes. Just a gift to you.
AV: Why do you keep it over this dining room table?
A Varesano interviewing M/M Joe Sulkusky – 7 – 8/8/72 Tape 30-1
207 MS: Just because I think it’s a good location there for it, you know.
JS: When do you think you’re gonna be on the road?
MS: I don’t know.
JS: I’ll fix that porch, then.
MS: No, you’re ot gonna do that!
JS: Tomorrow is rain!
MS: Well, you can fix the porch now. 213
JS: Well now? After dinner.
MS: Yeah well have your dinner there. There’s a tomato, and take a pickle.….
A. Varesano interviewing Joe Sulkusky and Mrs. Sulkusky
JS: Down here to Number Seven–it ain’t too far back here–they had a hole, like a tunnel, goin’ in there. That’s where all these here Molly Maguires were livin’, most of them, down here. There were lots of them on this street. They used to call this The Irish Street.
AV: Main Street, here, right?
JS: The Main Street. You couldn’t get a house here on this street, any other nationality. All were Irish, mostly. Well, then there was a few Dutch down below there, Blasses, or something. But the Mollies there, up in these houses along here, and that other street down there, on the Back Street, that’s toward Almont, well, that street there, there were all kinds of people livin’ there. Mixed up, you know, different nationalities. But here, you couldn’t get on this street for a house. They had it. So them Mollies down there, where the first spring started, they had no hydrants in the, er ah, you know, faucet or anything in the house. There were springs runnin’ down. And then the creek run down right around the houses and…
MS: Nobody had water in the home.
JS: Down there. They had the springs only.
MS: We used to go out to the hydrant.
JS: And we had here, there used to be hydrants, oh one up above there, and then there were one right across from Helen’s, across the road there, there were a hydrant there, and then there were one down below and so on you know through the town,
MS: And you (wound up) carryin’ the water.
JS: And them people, that’s how they lived down there. They used to just have the spring waters runnin’ right–of course, they didn’t have far to go, just, we’d say their home was here, and the water was runnin’ out where the street is, like them ditches down that way, comin’ out of the ground and runnin’ right down, nice cold water, too. So all them springs down there–first spring, second spring, third spring, fourth spring, fifth spring, all the way down, and that’s what they used to –of course, it was nice down there. Then there was another creek back further, like in a hollow a little more and there used to be nice trout fishin’ there. There were nice fish. Well, they lived down in through that, all the way down, along out at the old Southern? railroad. That’s where the trains used to come up from New York. All the Greenhorns used to come in. They used to get off right up here at Number Ten, what they used to call, right up above. And there was a station there, and they used to get off there, and they’d come in from Europe. And if they didn’t have where to go to, no party to go to, there was a big boarding house up where that breaker is. Not this breaker here, but the one that for [call?] was [through?]
AV: The Buckley Coal Company breaker?
JS: They had a big breaker there. That’s tore down, the old one, though. And they used to all get their coal from here. Number Seven, they call that Number Seven, because there were seven hoistin’ engines down there. And seven slopes. A lot of men used to work down in through there. They used to come from the farms, some of the farmers used to come over the hill, and work and all the way down, out at the rail, there were homes, right out at the rail. Well, you could see them, right off the rail, you could see them. It was like a street, you know, goin’ down. There was homes below, and there were homes above the railroad, and they used to call it Binsy-Bunsys, right over where the hay tree used to start. They had a picnic ground up on this end there. They had their own picnics there and all, Because you couldn’t, our people wouldn’t go, because, they’d right away fight, you know. They’d start to lick them, then Mcklies, because they were too strong then.
A. Varesano i.terviewing Joe Sulkusky and Mrs. Sulkusky
So, all the way down to, let’s see, where the plane goes up to Number Eleven side, there were homes on the upper side of the railroad, too, and down below the railroad. And down all the way, then, from there on, a little piece-way, they used to call the Golden Buckets. That there place, they used to say they used to see the Golden Buckets on the stones. There were big stones and big rocks there, and , oh, you could have a dancin’ floor on some of the rocks there, they were flat, you know, big ones, and sit up pretty high. Then the third spring, well that spring, since ever I remember it, that never went dry. Never. No matter how dry it is, it never goes dry. And that water is that cold, you’d swear to God you have ice cubes in it. That’s how cold it is. And in the wintertime, you can go down and drink it like nobody’s business, it’s nice and not too cool, not too warm. Just nice to drink. Yeah, that’s nice, nice, down that way. Well, this [Haus?] they showed him? that spring down there, and he said he won’t sell that place down there for anything. He says that spring is worth big money. If you take…
MS: How come he’s not here no more? He sold out, he’s not here no more. way,
JS: Well, he sold out now, but when there were parties after to buy up along that they bought land down in through there. I don’t know what bunch, they bought all the way up from Campbells, what they used to call it, up.
AV: Tell me about the Golden Bucket.
JS: Well, they used to claim that they used to see golden bucket on the stones.
AV: When did they see them?
JS: Some kind of, I don’t know, whatever they used to always see golden buckets; we used to go pickin’ berries down there. Down in the Golden Bucket! We’d be lookin’ for them golden buckets, but we couldn’t see them!
AV: Were they supposed to appear on top of the stones?
JS: Yeah, on top of the stones, set like this, somebody would set them there. That’s the way they had them. Then the third spring, the spring is down right by the railroad, bubblin’ right up. Well, the track is here, and the spring is right over there. That water just bubbles up out of the ground sterdy. Well up from there, that’s where the Paramount took a picture up there. They were down. You know when that helicopter used to be goin’ out?
MS: They took the pictures from the [illegible]
JS: Yes, but they were playin’ on them stones. You think I’m tellin’ you a lie?
MS: I don’t know anything about it.
JS: I’ll get Georgie, this here, Gera, he went down; and they were shootin’ the pictures, and they were makin’ love scenes. And he used to, he hid behind the stones, watchin’ them! And then there Samantha spied ‘im. He said Boy, could she swear! She’s swear me every Goddarn thing, he said! He wasn’t down there. You ask him, you think I’m tellin’ you a lie. That’s where they were takin’ the pictures. There on that Malitchka Hooka that they used to call, too. That means Small Hill, you know. It’s just like a round hill, there are berries on there all the time, hucklebberries.
AV: Whereabouts is that located?
JS: That’s out this direction. So, that’s where they were shootin’ that picture. And that’s when that helicopter used to be goin’ over, you know, across. That’s where they were takin’ them, over there on them stones, you know. And they were settin’ up in through around there. Yeah! so then, all the way down from there, there was the third spring, then there was the fourth spring, and down the way, down at Campbells, the fifth spring. They used to call Crazy Rachels. There were some farmers down here,and they, I don’t know, they claim they weren’t civilized or something, them people. They were like half wild. They called them Crazy Rachel! They were farm, you know small farms.
A. Varesano interviewing Joe Sulkusky and Mrs. Sulkusky – 3 – Tape 30-2
092 They’re still down there, that’s all empty around down [?] there. And that comes down off the hill right there, that water, too, but it’s all good water, that water, God Almighty, you could be a rich man.
MS: See, there is Joey Chernigy’s brother died, and.…
MS: Did he tell you about it?
AV: Yeah, he told me.
MS: I seen they were goin’ afternoon to the wake.
JS: I knowed all them homes down through there in Number Seven. There were some up on the upper side, there was a double home there, and there’s a spring— that’s where the Indian doctor, when he used to come up here, he used to make his medicine there.
AV: Up there, by the spring?
JS: Yeah, Number Seven spring. He tried the other springs, and he tried that one, and he says this is the one.
AV: What did he used to do?
JS: Make medicine. And you’d see, you’d walk over and, he had a little thing like a little jabber, you know, and he’d dig a little bit and he’d pull a root out of the ground, some kind of root, he come over by the spring, and he’d sit down and he’d start to make medicine out of that root. Then he’d go and get a different one, he’d make different things. We used to go down with him, you know, we used to follow him down, you know. He wanted our company, because he used to like when we’d go down with him. He’d be talking with us and all, and sayin’, Now, he says, I’m gonna make a medicine for a cold, you know, or something. And, he said, don’t be afraid to take it, he said. He would taste it himself first, you know. And he would make medicine from some kind of a damn root he’d take out of the ground. And he’d rub your forehead like this if you had a headache. And in two minutes you had the headache no more. Forget about it, that quick. Yeah, that’s true about the medicines he used to make. Then he used to make different things, salves and different kinds of medicine. He was tellin’ the people down here about the clubhouse, that house up above and then that down down about Annie’s there. That store down, Cushner’s, was there. Well, he used to stay in Cushner’s, and he had a bird dog. And that bird dog could walk a rope from one house across the road into the other house. They’d open the windows and put a rope in there, and a rope in Cushner’s, and he used to go, walk that rope through! A bird dog!
JS: And that was nice to see him, how nice he go. You had to watch because he ain’t got claws like a cat or something, you know that could stick right on. And he was pretty good.
AV: Oh boy!
MS: I see where Mrs. Gaffney is in the hospital.
AV: Yeah. Oh. That’s too bad about that. I don’t know.
MS: Anything serious, or just like that for a checkup.
AV: I don’t know.
MS: I thought that maybe you went out there, [?], that maybe you know’d about it.
AV: Tell me about how you found the Hoop Snake in the woods.
JS: Hoop Snake? Well, you don’t see none now. She seen one yesterday.…
MS: In our yard, the other day.
JS: In our yard, the big black one. She said, I just walked down the back, down there [?], then he crossed over here, she said. I don’t know, did he go in
A. Varesano interviewing Joe Sulkusky and Mrs. Sulkusky – 4 – Tape –
132 towards Bertha’s or did he cross the road and go in on that side?
AV: A big black snake?
JS: A big black one. Well, they don’t hurt you if they bite you, you know. They might sting like a bee or something, you know but it’s not poisonous like that. A rattlesnake, you he bites you, look out! You run for a doctor, as quick as you can.
MS: Well, they were sayin’ that there’s a snake, a copperhead, was down where…
JS: Well, a copperhead is more dangerous that…
MS: One of the men.…
AV: More than a rattler? Why?
JS: See, a rattlesnake, he rattles. He’ll warn you that he’s there, and you’ll be on the lookout. But a coplperhead, he won’t. He just gets set, and if you come close enough for him, he’ll just jump, and he’ll get you, he’ll bite you right away. And if you do’t get right away to the doctor, quick, you’re a dead pigeon. they can cure you, but it’s a little bit longer than it should be.
AV: Did you ever get bit by one?
JS: There’s copperheads around. There used to be, but I don’t know, I think they’re dying out, the snakes. It’s too cold in the winter.
AV: Did you ever get bit by one?
JS: No. No. Oh, I killed plenty of them. Oh, God Almighty, I killed hundreds and thousands of them in my day.
AV: How did you kill them?
JS: With a stick. I used to kill eighteen til dinnerime, and then go out after dinner and kill some again when he’d go pickin’ berries. We went down here, Number Three, anothere place where the creek comes down off the mountain and cross under the center railroad and down there is the farm, down on the lower end, Harris’s, they used to call it you know where that dam is in there. Harris’s. When you make that curve down around R[???], and then you go through Campbells. There, there was a nice place, down in there. Harris’s. I don’t know if anybody’s livin’ there now or not
AV: That’s where you found all the snakes?
JS: That’s the place there, up there on that hillside. Oh! Gee! Well, the most rattlesnakes I seen was down on the Weatherly Mountain. That’s the mountain, when you go down Buck Mountain you can see on the side back there. There were lots up on there.
MS: That’s where we get our mail from, Weatherly.
JS: I was down there one day, and there was a boy from downtown, he lived down below and there was a family, he was with them. He come over and he says, you want lots of huckleberries, he says, you go back down there, he says, my god, he says, the ground is just blue with them, he said. Just chunks lyin’ around. Well, I said What’s the matter you didn’t pick em? Oh, he says, we run away from there. He says, There’s a big bunch of rattlesnakes on a big stone, he says, and are they rattlin’, he says. They’re buzzin’, he said, so much, he says, you get disgusted listenin’ to them!
MS: Angie, well when you listen to these stories, can yousleep in the night?
AV: Yes! Ha, Ha!
MS: You’ll be dreamin’ about them.
JS: We had two buckets and a can, you know. Well, you know it’s too much carryin’ in your hand, two buckets, so we used to have like a sheet or something, and put one bucket in the back, and one hung in the front, and put ferns or leaves, you know, on the side of the bucket that it wouldn’t rub your back too much, and keep goin’. So, we were all tied up, and started out when this boy come
A. Varesano interviewing Joe Sulkusky and Mrs. Sulkusky
over, and I started to untie, but Jack Marshlik here, and his brother and my brother, they got ahold of me, and they said, Come on, we’re goin’ home, he says, you’re not goin’ to go back there lookin’ for them snakes. he says. Come on! So I hadda go with them, they wouldn’t let me take them off, and they were pullin’ me, and draggin’. Come on, they said, we’re goin’! That’s a piece to walk home with them buckets, yet!
AV: I’ll bet it is!
JS: So, we come home. They said, we’ll come down tomorrow, he said. But when we were comin’ home, the whistle blew One–Work. And we went to work the next day. Well, that’s all we did work, that one day! The next say was idle so we went down again. And we come down there–our Joe come down with me that day. And we went down there and were pickin’, pickin’. I filled the two buckets up. and I says to our Joe, I said. now yo’ll pick here by this pine tree. And we put our buckets down there. And I says. There’s lunch in the can. and there’s fruit there. I says, so eat somethin’, and we take water, every time we’re goin’ up, we take water up with us. So I goes with the can, you know, up lookin’ for these stones, you know. And I found.…
MS: And here’s my granddaughter. She brought the pictures the other day after you was here.
JS: …I come up on the gosh dang big stone, and lookin’ around and scrapin’ my feet over it, and lookin’ around…
JS: …and I can’t see nothin’, there ain’t nothin’ there. And there are berries all over, just, mmm. So I start monkeyin’ around the stone there, I says, Ah, the hell. I says, there’s no damn snakes here. I sit on the stone, I have a jump down a little bit off this side. And the…
MS: …I guess you’re not in–and this was at the wedding, that was taken…she was married now, it was a year. Gonna be a year now in November.
JS: …middle of the stone, there was a big crack in it. And about that wide open, you know. And it was long, about from here to that there door, about that long, that stone.
JS: And this way, pretty long. So, when I started to get off the stone, to get down again. the started buggin’, a rattler. I’m lookin’ around–where the hell are you? And I’m lookin’ around, lookin’ around. Then I spied ‘im. There was another piece of stone come out, like that, and he was in there, that there, curled up.
MS: Here, you have more…
JS: And you keep…
MS: some more jelly…
JS: …you keep the hell away from him…
MS: .Would you like the the green or the…
JS: …when he’s curled up. Because as long as he is, that’s how far he can reach you. And he’ll strike you, bite you. So, when I spied him there, I got a stick, and I looka, how the hell am i gonna get you out of there? You’re ready to strike, and I only had a stick about this long, that’s the kind I only take, you know, because a big long one, that’s no good, but a small one, but you can handle it! I was foolin’ around there, foolin’ around. I gave him a poke, and he started to go out; when he started to go out, I said that’s it, Get out of there! And I gave him one back of the neck, and I kicks him over to cut his rattles off. Well, I was like this, and the crack was below, and when I bent down I could see down through this crack. And I took the rattles in my hand, and was gonna cut them off with a knife, and I hear this buzzin’- like again, you know. I look at the rattle–Youse ain’t
A. Varesano interviewing Joe Sulkusky (and Mrs. Sulkusky) – 6 – Tape 30-2
217 rattlin’! The snake is dead! I said How the hell, I said, where is that song? I look down, and here’s one comin’ out from that crack. That’s where they were, down in that crack! I says Come on, Come on. I never moved at all, I just stood in the same position, you know, til he come out about ythat far out from the crack, you know. When he poked his head out, then I killed him! I pokes him on the side. Well, by the time I was done, I killed six of them! I killed six of them there. And one had thirty-five rattles, and he had an end broke off somewhere, lost. So he had more, who know how much he had, maybe he had up to forty. but he was a “baby”. He was like a stove-pipe.
AV: My goodness!
JS: Oh, he was about like from here to the door long. And rattlers don’t grow very fast, you know. They’re a slow grower. And he was a dandy. But if, only you had somebody to take them rattlesnakes and get belts made, they’re expensive, and are they pretty! They are nice. See, there’s different kind of rattlesnakes. There’s a ring—–he’s a kind of a grayish color—and there’s one, he’s blue, and he has different like flowers over him, different colors of flowers over him. Then there’s another one they call him the diamond-back. That’s a fasty one, the diamond-back. He’s the fasty of them all. He has just like diamonds, but they’re nice, you know, on his back, all the way down. That’s the diamond-back. And they can fight. Well, if you ever see a good fight, you get a rattlesnake and a black snake. You do’t have to say Sicc’im! Just take them out and put ’em out in the open some place, where the one can see the other one. And when they go to fight–but they kill theirselves. That’s how long they’ll fight, when they kill theirselves. See, the black snake can lick the rattlesnake. He’s too fast for him. But–the rattlesnake bites him, and he has to die from that poison, see? So the two of them die. You oughtta see the fight, you wouldn’t believe it. they fill the yard sometimes they’ll be in one bunch, you’d think it was one lump, they’re pushi’ up and tryin’ to–the black snake tries to choke the rattlesnake, you know, and the rattlesnake, all he knows is to bite, he’s bittin’ all the time. The rattlesnake’ll bite, and the black one’ll try to twist him up and choke him, you know, break him, break his bones or somethin’, you know. That’s the way they fight.
MS: Well, didn’t you shoot a black snake between.…
JS: Well, the black snake, he’ll attack you if you attack him and you don’t get him. And he’s big enough that he ain’t afraid. He’ll, he’ll tackle you. But–what he’ll go for, he go to tighten you somewhere. He’ll get around you and he’ll choke you if you ain’t got a knife. He’ll choke you. See now, there’s lotsa accidents happen, you see, now you don’t hear like that no more. But before, when they’d go pickin’ blackberries or somethin’, they’d be layin’ on the briars, you know, and you’re pickin’, you’re not payin’ any attention, and he’d sneak up and sneak up and he’d wrap around you. If you ain’t got a knife, you’re done You’re done. He’ll choke you.
AV: What do you do with the rattles from the rattlesnake?
JS: Well, they used to take them like for souvenirs, you know? Or else, they used to claim–I don’t know–they used to claim if you have a headache, put the rattles in your hair, you know, and put your dap on, or else like a lady if she has bigger hair, she’ll put ’em in under there and keep ’em. That’s what they used to do, half the time!
AV: Do you have to use all the rattles from one snake? Or just one rattle?
JS: No, you can have one rattle for as long as you want to keep it.
AV: I mean, one of those little layers of.…
JS: They just look like a shell, you know. But then they’re just like, you can count them–one, two, three, four, five, all the way up, you know they like
A. Varesano interviewing Joe Sulkusky (and Mrs. S.) – 7 – Tape 30-2
they couple on. Just like beads, you know, you string beads.
AV: How many are you supposed to use for the headache?
JS: No, you put on the whole set, how long you have, you know, you can put them on.
AV: What about those hoop snakes?
JS: The hoop snake?
JS: Well, I’ll tell you, I didn’t see a hoop snake now since, oh I was a boy, a pretty big boy I was. On Sandy Hill. And you oughta see them guys go! You know what he does? He grab his tail in his mouth and he roll like a hoop! He was just goin’ like a hoop like the devil!
AV: Why does he do that?
JS: That’s their habit to run away, or what I don’t know, but that go like a wheel, just like a wheel. But you never seen a bull adder?
JS: Gee, he would be like an ordinary snake, you know. And you disturb him, and pretty soon that son of a gun’ll blow himself up, he’s like a balloon. But you know, he won’t get thick–he’ll blow himself that thick. We used to see them here on the Sandy Hill, quite often. I had a dog, he was a stray dog. This here ah, what the hell was his ame, Charlie Rhea, lived down where [?????] live, where that new house they built in the lower door. And he moved out of here and he left the dog. The poor dog was roamin’ around, roamin’ around, and she folleyed (sic) up to the house once and they give her eat. It was a she, that, female. So she was there, and then she wouldn’t go away from the house. She stood there, and she kept on, so then they said Oh let her go. And it was a very, very good dog, a nice dog. So I took her out with me, dow to Sandy Hill–I don’t know what the hell we went for, was it chestnuts or leaves or what–you oughta see her kill the snakes!
AV: She did!
JS: Yeah, big ones, big ones. Ho, boy, but she would work. What?
MS: When Molly Maquires was playin’ here, the time our Joe was washin’…
AV: Well, how did she kill the snakes?
JS: With her teeth. And with her paws, you know, but she would maneuver around so much, you know, that she would get ’em off balance. When she would get ’em off balance, she’d dive in and grab ’em. Heh? Yeah, that was a good dog for that! So then I had her for quite a while, and then we saved a puppy from her. And he was mixed, he was like a half-breed Saint Bernard, you know, but he didn’t grow quite as big as a Saint Bernard. You oughta see… What I done, I went up to the breaker, and I asked them for some belts, you know, these big wide belts that run the, the machinery into the breaker. See they’d break and tear up, then they’d throw them away. I asked them for some belt. I says, old belt, that you’s throwed out, I says, if I could have some. What do you want it fer? Oh, I want to make a harness, I says, for a dog! What do you mean, for a dog? I said, I got a dog, I says, I’m gonna learn him to pull a wagon, or a sleigh. And I did! I made the damn harness for him, and all, and oh, that’s where you shouild be! Then you’d get skinned up lots! Because I used to go out and.….
MS: It’d be like the bicycle again.…
JS: I used to go out.…
MS: Aren’t you marked up no more? Aren’t you marked up no more?
AV: Oh, a little bit, yeah.
JS: And finally, I used to go out ridin’ with him. Well, he was all right. And mind you, he’d learn. If I would holler Gee, he’ turn to the right, I’d holler Pnaw, he’d go to the left. Anything I hollered at him, he’d listen.
A. Varesano interviewing Joe Sulkusky (and Mrs. S)
But, don’t let another dog come and interfere, or look out! Go sleigh and me in the ditch, and away he goes after the dog! So, I used to get them tumbles, and Jack Marshlik, he’s a pretty big boy already, too, and we used to go out ridin’. Jack would come to me. Come on! He says, let’s go, come on, he says, and we’ll go for a ride. Well, I didn’t want to take him, because he would cry when he’d get upset, you know. Then I would get a lickin’ and he would get a lickin’! So, alright. But in an hour or so after, Jack would come over again: Let’s go for a ride! Come on! Let’s go for a ride! So, we would go, you know, and he would see a dog, and the dog it would growl, you know. Oh, well, then, that was it. He would swing you around, and that sled would just go Zoooooom! Off you go! I used to have Jack in a big box on th sleigh! Ha! We’d go tumbling all over. Jack would start cryin’, well, I wouldn’t cry, because I knew better. But Jack would start cryin’, and we’d come home, then he would get it, and my mother would give it to me, for takin’ Jack out! Oh, hell, that was fun! A lot of fun. He was a good dog, he was a dandy. But! If you tell him, You watch the house—and we’re goin’ for berries, all of us—don’t close the door, leave it open. That dog stood there and there was nobody would touch anything in that house. He’d let you in, but you are not goin’ out, til we come home, you would sit there! How many times we used to come home, when we were livin’ in that house over below here, and these peddlers used to come around one time, sellin’ cry goods and different things like that, and they used to have these big suitcases on their backs, you know, one on the back, one on the front, from door to door. And the poor beggar, he’d come in there, and we were for berries, and he had to sit there. He had to sit there til we come home! When we come home, and he started, Missus, I no take nothin’, he says. He said. He leave me in, but he don’t leave me out! He says, I couldn’t go out, I had to sit here, he says, til you’s come. He says, I’m here from the morning, he says! And it was already a little afternoon when we got home. He had to stay there, boy! He’d watch, he was very good. And Don’t touch my mother! If you touched her, you know, took her and shook her, or somethin’ like that, down you was, on the ground!
AV: Oh, boy!
JS: But he wouldn’t bite you. He’d throw you down and he’d hold you there. That’s now. And nobody learned him. I don’t know how the hell he got on to that. He got on to it, and nobody could touch her, and that’s that.
AV: Well, who was your favorite dog after that? Did you have a hunting dog that you liked?
JS: No. I used to always talk to them a lot. You talk to a dog, and he get to know what you are talkin Yes sir. The dog understands. Look at Whitey. I went up here, up on that ridge up there, for berried. And the dumb son of a gun, he’s start to dig for a ground hog, in the stones, big stones. And I hollered at him, I said, what the hell, you dummy, I said, how the hell can you dig in them stones? So I’m hollerin’ at him, but he got in so darn far that I couldn’t see him. I said, To hell with you, you wear your paws off, then you’re gonna come out of there. And I start pickin’ berries again. I kept on. Well, he got tired, about in a hour or so, he got tired, and he come out from—they were two big stones like that, and pretty round they were, like that, they were just about that wide–and in between ’em, you’d think somebody dumped the berries in there, there aren’t much in there. So I was kneelin’ down and pickin’ and I got filled up, and he come over, and he starts to trot into the berries. I says, Get the hell outta there, I says, you’re gonna bust them up! I said, get the hell up on the stone there and get outta the road. He went over and he went on the
A. Varesano interviewing Joe Sulkusky (and hrs. S.)
stone and lay down there. I said, Stay there! I started to pick, you know, and I filled up, I tied up, and it didn’t come in my mind that he is one the stone, you know. And I ordered him to go there. I come home, when I come here at the end of the fence, I look around–to hell, geez, no Whitey. I says, I’ll bet you I told him to stay there and that’s where he is, up on that stone. So I come home and I have dinner, and I am lookin’ at the paper a little bit, and I says to her, I says, I better go up, because who know how long he is gonna stay on that stone! So I says, I give him hell, and I tell him to stay, and that’s where he is! Well, i went up there, and I looked at him, and I says, You dumb Indian, you! I says, didn’t you see me goin’ home, I says? If I wouldn’t have come up for you, how long would you stay here? So–he was another good dog. But there was nobody in the woods that would come to me. Nobody. He’s let you come from here about out to that other door, and that’s all the further you’d come, , without’n he met ya. He’d put his paws on your chest there, and show his teeth, and give it a growl at you, and you’d stand there. But he wouldn’t bite nobody. He never bit anybody. So—guys that know him, you know! You’d think that he woud let them come to you, because they know him, they call by the name, and what sa matter with ya, and this and that, talkin’ to him. Huh-uh. You’re not comin’ where I am. I used to laugh yet, when I would be pickin’ berries, I said, listen. I said, this is my kooch! I says, you’re not supposed to come and pick berries, here, I says. That’s why he hold you back, I says.
I’d go and I’d holler out at ‘im, and he’d get down. That’s a bother! I says. But anybody comin’ within here down to Geras or further, he would warn me somebody is comin’. He’d give me a couple barks. He’d scent that. Man, or whoever it was, it they’d like go for mushrooms, anybody comin’ my direction, he was that far, he would give me a couple barks. He’d scent that. Man, or whoever it was, it they’d like go for mushrooms, anybody comin’ my direction, he was that far, he would give me a couple of barks and he would keep on lookin’ that direction. And the guy that would come close there, I don’t know–Harry Putrushka, he used to meet me lots of times–he says, Joe, you got the best goddam policeman, he says, there ever was. What the hell, he says, he won’t leave me go by you. They couldn’t come to talk to me, and to come close. He’d keep them away, that’s all. Never bite them.
AV: Did he ever attack wild animals?
KS: You know what Angie is sayin’? Did he attack wild animals any time?
JS: Oh! Groundhogs! Now, I never learned him how to hunt a groundhog. And you didn’t need no gun. Just fo on out. And pretty soon you’d hear him barkin’ already. And groundhogs fights like a hell. Oh, they’re terrible. They’re fast. A groundhog, if he’s out, and the dog gets–if he’s a smart dog, he can get him. But it he’s a dumb one, he’ll get such a lickin’ from the groundhog! Look out! And especially, a groundhog will look for a place where he can hide his back, that you can’t get him from the back. Up again a stone, or a tree, or something’. That’s where a groundhog will hide himself when he’s trapped already. And then, let the dog come front. They’d never touch him. That’s how fast the groundhog is. And they bite, oh gee, they bite. And he could kill a groundhog in five minutes, he had a groundhog for you. I could go for a walk, like Sundays, I’d go up to that railroad up there, and up above there used to be chestnuts in there. I used to pick some chestnuts. Pretty soon I’d hear him barkin’. Oh, you dirty devil, you! Where the hell did you get that one goin’? Sure, and I’d come over close, I’d see him, and he’d see me, and he’d dive in and he’d grab that groundhog, give him a couple snakes, and there he is! And I never learned him. And to chase rabbits, he would chase them like anything. But he wouldn’t bark. Only good thing, he was white–that’s why I give him the name, Whitey.–ha
A. Varesano interviewing Joe Sulkusky ( and Mrs. S.)
was white, and you could see him, no matter where he was, runnin’ around, you could see him. That’s how I used to watch. I’d get up somewhere where it was a little higher, and I would keep on lookin’ where the hell he is. And I shot a lot of rabbits around here. Yeah, I used to shoot the hell out of ’em, down there. He was a good dog for that.
AV: What happened to him?
JS: I shot him.
AV: You shot him?
JS: You know, my son-in-law, he got a dog down in Jersey. And he come up here when he was just about that big. And I looked at the dog, and I says, what breed is that? Oh, he said, that’s, he’s a good huntin’ dog, he says, gonna be something like a beagle, you know. And, all right, uhh-uh, I says, that’s gonna be a Teddy Bear dog, I says: You know, that son of a gun has paws now, I says, bigger than a big dog, I said. They’re thick and strong as hell! That’s gonna be a mighty powerful dog, I says. It was a black one. So, it wasn’t long after, when the dog grew up a bit already, he brought him up her for me. Well, he brought him up for me, and I had him here. he had all the tags on him, you know, and everything, and he had a collar and a chain and everything. I hooked him down there. I had Whitey dwon there then, too. I hooked him down there, Well, he could break a, either the strap would go, or the chain would go, ot the pen would come with him, one of the three would have to happen. And you know what he was, he was a Water Retriever, that’s what he was. So, Steven was up here, and his daddy. they come up, and, ha ha we were goin’ out for a walk. So Steven left Whitey out. And I says to him what the hell did you leave him out for, I says. That one’ll go wild, I says, he’ll go crazy there. So finally, he started to jump around and divin’ up in the air and everything, and yet his daddy says to him, he says, you better go and loosen that one, now because he says he’s gonna choke himself or break somethin’ or somethin’ is gonna happen, he says. So, he’s goes back and try to loosen him, he couldn’t. He wouldn’t give him no slack, and he wasn’t strong enough for him. So I go back, and I loosen him. So, he come with us, when we got down here a piece-way, these caves down here, and they were strippin’ below that, away back further. Now it’s all bull-dozed around there, that’s all covered up there. So, there were water in it, lots of water. And he smelt that water,from away up here. And he goes like a bullet, down he goes, and Steven hollered at him, he thought he was runnin’ away. I said Let him go. I says. Any dog that don’t know his master, or don’t know how to find him, I says. he’s no good to you. I says, a dog has to know his master and where to find him, and everything. So, we’re goin’ down, goin’ down, and when we come to that place, he’s swimmin’ like hell in the damn water in the strippin’. I said, there he is. Hell, did that kid have the fun with him then. He would throw sticks in,and what and that, and he would dive in and go and grab the stick and bring it out and lay it down by his feet. I said, there you are, I said, that dog is for a hunter that hunts wild geese you know, or wild ducks, or waterfowl. I says, he’s all right. He’ll bring everyone out for him that he shoots on the water. I said, that’s all. He’s no good for me, I says, I ain’t got no place to hunt duck or geese. Only in the fall or in the spring when they’re flyin’ across. Generally they fly across, they come from this section, and they go out this way. And ducks, well, one time there were ducks hero, and now I don’t see a duck for–the last time I seen ducks here, when Steven and Joe, the family was up, and down below down there, we were down lookin’ for mushrooms or somethin’ and we took Whitey with us, and he got runnin’ around, and first thing you know he seen the mother duck– Quack, quack, you know, and she starts swimmin’–about twelve little ducks,
A. Varesnao interviewing Joe Sulkusky (and Mrs. S.) – 11 – Tape 30-2
495 Oh, they were just like your first, they were swimmin’ behind her across the water–they were a little longer than– not too much. And I hollered at Steve, and I says, Shut Up! I says, Don’t Bother, I says. If Whitey comes he’d catch them little ones, and I said, what the hell, I said, he maybe won’t mean to kill them, but when he’d grab ’em or tramp on ’em or dive on ’em, he might kill some of them, I said. Let them go, I said. Come on in a different direction, away from there. Well, that’s the last ones I seen, I don’t see any more. These strippings and all spoiled it, chased everything out. Yeah, they spoiled it all.
MS: Before this, that one hollow wasn’t there. they level every place.…
JS: That’s the way it is. But–a dog is a very smart animal. they can take care o’ ya. You take a dog–I had another one one time, and my buddies that hunted with me and my brother, we used to go out in the evening after work– we’d take these funny books, you know, Wild West and different ones, and we’d go out here to Number Ten, or up on the grass, up there, it was all grass on that side, like a field–and lay down and be readin’ the books and all, up in there. And I would go out sometimes myself and then they’d come lookin’ for me. He wouldn’t let them come near me–and it was a huntin’ dog a regular rabbit dog–and he wouldn’t –Lewey was that’ns name. And that son of a gun–they’d laugh. they’d say, Well, you rotten son of a gun, we go huntin’ and all, and now you’re gonna keep us awake. And he would go for them, though. He would mean to bite them, I guess. You had to keep the hell away from him. Yes, they are buggers. A dog’ll understand you pretty well.
AV: Oh, boy…Yeah.
JS: You get a good dog, and you train him, talk to him, he’ll get to know you and he’ll get to understand you. You don’t have to be afraid You’re safe.
AV: How do you train them?
JS: Just talk to him. Give him hell if he deserves it, you know, and if he does somethin’ good, pet him up, encourage him that he done good, you know, and all. He gets to know that.
AV: What’s the best kind of dog for hunting?
JS: (He doesn’t hear the question) Yeah, you can get ’em. I’ll tell you, if you got a dog like Whitey.….
MS: Joe, she’s askin’ you, what’s the best dog, what kind of dog is the best for huntin’?
JS: Well, ha ha, I don’t know.…
MS: Angie, you have to talk loud to him……
JS: .…I could almost train a dog any way, you know, to do anything. Now, take the one that I said I had pullin’ a sleigh. You know I used to go up where that slope is, up Number Ten, and the guys that worked there, hitchin’ on top and hookin’ the cars when they’d come up, and then runnin’ empties down on the chain again, down back in the stink, they used to enjoy it so much that they used to load my–oh, I had a big box, oh, big box–there used to be soap that used to come–a wooden box, you know, it used to be, a big son of a gun about that long and about that deep, I guess, and about that wide– and they used to fill that box up full of lumps of coal, you know. And then I had a bag, you know, they’d fill the bag and put it on top of that. And that dog used to pull that home, and me with it. Only I would start off, at Number Ten, I would give him a push, helpin’, you know, because I think he’d pull his paws off, and he’d get a grip and get started–ha! Away we’d come down just like that! He was nice, a really good dog. And just talkin’ to him, and he’d understand everything.
AV: What did you feed him?
JS: Oh, what we ate here! You know, there was a druggist, Sightsinger, old man,
A. Varesano interviewing Joe Sulkusky (and Mrs. S.)
and he was a hunter, too, he used to keep hounds, bird dogs and rabbit dogs, and stuff. And there was a man come in there, and he wanted some kind of a stuff. And Sightsinger says–he knew what it was, you know—and Sightsinger says, What do you want it for? He said, I want to give it to my dog. He says, For what? Well, he says, I want to give it to him that he wouldn’t take nothin’ off of nobody, you know–suppose somebody would want to poison him, or somthing, with some kind of food or something, that he wouldn’t take it. And Sightsinger says to him, Do you think anything of that dog? Yeah! Well, what do you want to him that stuff for? He said, You know, he’s gonna be a mighty sick dog, and he’s bound to die. I wouldn’t give that, he says, for any money, to the dog, if I cared for the dog.
AV: What kind of stuff was it?
JS: So–it’s some kind of medicine that they had in the drug store–So finally, they got talkin’ there, and Sightsinger says, well, he says how old he was and how long he is huntin’ and all, and he says I handled dogs right along. And he says, You know what I give my dogs? What I eat, he gets from the table the same. And he says, Don’t be buyin’ no stuff and givin’ the dog, he says. That’s no good. Give them the stuff you eat, and you’ll have no trouble with your dog. Now, I had a rabbit dog, Prince, that son of a gun was I guess about eighteen, pretty close to twenty years old, and you know what I would do? I would stack him up agin the best rabbit dog there is around. Shy–he lived in this house below where Bertha is–and he got a pedigreed Beagle, they’re supposed to be good, they got the papers and everything with it and all. We went out huntin’, and by God, you know, my dog chased ten rabbits, his dog didn’t even start one. And his dog wouldn’t even go to help mine out. I says, Well. Shy, I says, there’s your pedigreed dog! You take a dog and you let him know what you want, and you’ll see. Now, take dogs, there’s lots of ’em gun shy, you know. If you shoot, he’ll run and he’ll hide, and he’s afraid. Or, thunder, you’d see him run in the house, under the stove or anywhere, they’re afraid. Well, I don’t know about thunder, if I could break him, but gun shy, shootin’, I can. I can. I had already gun shy dogs, and I broke them all.
JS: Just, when you see like that, you know, he’s afraid, –he’s that afraid that he don’t know what to do,–just go throw a coat or something over ’em. Darken it for them. And then let’em that way for a little while. Then take the coat off, and pet him up, and call him along. Come on, What the hell’s the maater–talk to him, tell him what the hell you afraid of? Don’t be afraid. And shoot! You know. See what he is gonna do. Do that a couple of times. And that’s all. They give me a dog, a black one, Nigger, they called him. A guy owed me a dog, and he give me–it was after the huntin’ season–it was a nice-lookin’ dog and all, and by God, when he give him to me, I used to go down there for mushrooms and all and take him along–oh, he’d chase like hell. So, that was alright. So, finally, I kept goin’ all summer, you know, out. And training season come in, I took him out. Well then hunting season come, I took him out. The guys started to ask me, How’s the dog doin’? Good! And they’d laugh, you know. I said, What the hell you laughin’ about? And I said, Listen, that dog. I says, I’ll bet you if the owner would see that dog, what he does now, I said, I bet he would pay any money to get him back! They said, Go on, what the hell, are you kiddin’? No! Oh, what the hell, that dog is gun shy. I said He is? What, like hell, I said, come on huntin’ with us. I said, you’ll see if he is gun shy. Same way, ownin’ a dog that, you don’t want him to chase deer, you know, when you are huntin’ rabbits and stuff, and they’ll get on a deer and away they go. Well, some dogs, he won’t come back. He’s one. That’s the end of it. Now
A. Varesano interviewing Joe Sulkusky (and Mrs. S.)
there’s guys pay nice price for dogs that. they go out hunlin’ and they’ll lose their dogs. They go off on a deer and they don’t come back. Now, I could train any hound that I knew, you know. Of course, a strange one, where I had him a day or so, he’s not used to you, so. But I used to go with my dogs, lots of ’em. Steve had one, that son of a gun used to chase deer like a-hell. Well then, mine butted in. I just caught him onct. And he’s comin’ down on the trail, alter the deer and after Steve’s dog, and I happened to catch him once. I said, what the hell are you doin’? I said, What do you think you’re doin’? I says , Don’t you dare to chase those deer. I said. If you want to chase, chase rabbits, go ahead all day. I said, Don’t chase deer. I said, I’ll understand it. I left him go–and he go for the trail back, you know. I grab him, you know, and I gave him a slap, just on the nose, you know. He look at me, you know, and I tell him again, Don’t you chase it. I left him go, he go again. And I let him the third time, I say now you’re not gonna chase no deer, and that’s all’s to it! So I took him and I give him one slap on one side, one on another side. And I took him where the deer print was, and I stuck his nose there, and I says Don’t you dare to chase the deer. That did it! The dog never chased another deer! Honest to God, that’s true!
AV: That’s great! That’s great!
JS: Now, this Prince that I had last [that I hunted with?], he started. He started on a deor, too. Oh, he got away with Andrew Caydosh’s dog, he had one that used to chase the deer like the devil. So he got on with him couple of times. So then I didn’t get a chance to get him. So, finally once I got a chance, and I give him a good lecture. Well, he knew I meant somethin’. Another time we went cut huntin’ and a whole bunch of deer jumped up in front of us. And he up and he made a bark, you know. I hollered at him. He listened to me, he turned around and looked at me. I said, Don’t you dare! And, by God, that dog didn’t go! So, I says Come here! And he come over to me, and I pet him up, and I says Don’t you dare to chase deer. Honest to God, that doy didn’t chase deer! He wouldn’t, He watched ’em. They’re a funny little thing! But they’re a good friend, I’ll tell you, they’re a good friend. You know, I shot that Whitey. I could cry for him. I still think of him today. The kind of friend he was to you, oh! I shot him because he used to break, that black one used to break all the chains and collars and everything. I got tired of buyin’ ’em. You couldn’t buy a cheap one, because that was nothin’ for him. buy a good one, and hell, you had to go and get another one next week. He was tearin’ the chains, and I was afraid that he used to get out and he’d run around. He’d come back, you know, but he’d run around Gera’s. this Nicky Gera brought him up one day, he said Is this your dog? Well, I says Yeah, I says. Where the hell was he? He said He come down last my place, and I thought I seen that dog, he says, that it was yours. I say Yeah, that’s the one Mike brought up from Jersey. He said What the hell kind of dog is it? Oh Jesus, don’t tell me, I says. Then I found out that he was a water retriever. So I says, Well, you’re gonna be runnin’ around and you’re so big–he was like a calf. Black, about that high, and about that long, a big dog. So I says To hell with you. And at the same time. Gaffney’s gave me a beagle dog, you know, a rabbit dog. So I thought to myself, Well- I didn’t like to tell hike that I shot him, because I din’t want to hold him, and he couldn’t keep him down there, because he got complaints. In the city you can’t keep a dog if he don’t keep quiet. And I guess he was a-barkin’ there, so Mike had to get rid of him. So, I shot that one. And Miko says where’s the dog. I says, Oh, they take a deer over the mountain and they never come back! But that wasn’t so. I
A. Varesano interviewing Joe Sulkusky (and hrs. S.)
shot the thing. Yeah. I had lots of experiences with dogs and everything.
AV: Yes, you have. You have. My goodness. Could you tell me some ghost stories?
JS: Yeah.… So. up on this mountain there’s a bear. And right on top of Sandy Hill, where they go down the hill, down in below there’s lot of grape vines are down in there. And I guess they come, mostly in the fall you’ll see them, when the grapes are ripe. They go down and eat them grapes I guess down there. Then, there’s a lot of bees down in around there because of those grapes. And they are honey bees, you know. And the bear, I guess they know where the honey is, and they get the honey, too, down there. Oh, there’s a lot of grape vines down there. Terrible lots. And they’re nice grapes. Some of them they got, you can’t buy a blue grape as big as they are down in there.
AV: big ones, huh!
JS: Yeah. And they’re ripe, and they come on top of the hill before you start to go down. We used to have a path to go down, right down into the swamp, down in the hollow there. You’d walk right straight down, it’d take you right into the grape vines.
AV: Did you ever shoot a bear?
JS: No. I never had the thought. Hunt a deer, but not bear. Well, this one here, me and Jack and my brother were goin’ to Freehand, it was right along dinner time. And right when you come on top of the hill, there’s an old log road comin’ out, right on the top. I look in this log road, and I seen this damn thing comin’ out to the road. And I said to Jack, Stop! Stop! Stop! Well, he didn’t know, you know, what’s the matter, because nobody ahead or anything. And I said Stop!!! So he started to stop walkin’ and he said what’s the matter? I said, back up! back up!–because we passed that log road there. So he says Why? Just back up! So we’s backin’ up, you know, backin’ up. When we come there, the road comin’ out here, and that goddam bear was like from here to the wall.
AV: Oh, boy!
JS: Oh, was he a nice bear, I’m tellin’ you. Shiny, shiny and black. So, he stopped, you know, and we come back, you know, and he stopped there, and we’re lookin’ at him. And he gets up on his two feet, you know, just like you see a picture sometimes, a teddy bear. And there he was, standin’ forth. And we were standing, watchin’ each other. And my brother says, Honest to God, he says, if we weren’t with you, you would be tellin’ them that a bear was there, you seen a bear like that, they’d say, Now there goes another ghost story! I said, now there you are! So that’s true. Then, on the top of the hill, this here Clifford Falatko, you know Clifford? Well, his son, he come runnin’ over here to tell Bertha, he says he seen two bears right up off the hillside, he looked down and there are two bears there, cubs, in there. And they were stayin’ around there. And this time the bear that crossed that road, he robbed a guy’s honey. He had bee hives, you know, and he robbed the honey on them! That bear that went across. And he had two cubs with him, but we didn’t see the cubs, only the old one. They’re down in there, that’s true. That time when Petey come here, remember? He said, You want to go for a ride? He said I lost my dogs, he says, they chased n deer over the hill there and they didn’t come back, three days already. So he says, How about, if you’re not doin’ anythin’, how about comin’ out for a ride? So we go down around Sandy Valley, maybe they’re down there somewhere. He says, if i holler or whistle, and they hear me, they’ll come. So we went down there, and we looked around different.
A. Varesano interviewing Joe Sulkusky ( and Mrs. S.)
places, different roads we took and all. So, we were comin’ back, and there’s a little row of houses goin’ up towards Sandy Run be said, let’s walk this way. And there was a lady come out–and they have a pump outside yet now, there, for water–she was takin’ water, and ho says, Wait, I’ll go over and ask this lady. So he went over and he asked her, Eid they see any stray dogs around? And she says, Yeah, she says, there was a stray dog here last night come in, and I locked him up. And, she says, her husband come home and told me, Leave him go, he says, because unless you put an ad in the paper, then hold him, but if you don’t, he says, let him go, because if somebody come lookin’ around and you find have the dog locked up and no ad in the paper, he says, they’ll make you pay for it. So she says, It was a hound, out it was a female. My husband, when he come home, let the dog go, and he told me Leave him go. And his dogs were chasing up over this hill over up towards Eckley here, and she says, Come on, and have supper. And he says, No, don’t bother, I won’t wash and I won’t have supper, he says, I’ll go and get the dogs and then I’ll have supper after I come back. And he went up to get the dogs. When he come up close to the hill that comes up this way, there was a big goddarn bear! So he says, I looked at him, he says, I come up pret’ near close to ‘im. He says I looked at him and the bear looked at me, he says, I turned around, he says, I didn’t stop ’till I landed into the house, he says. I left the dogs and all there, he says.
AV: Ha ha ha ha ha!
JS: But they won’t hurt you.
AV: What, bears?
JS: No. They won’t hurt you it you don’y hurt them, or disturb them. Or else, if somebody else wounded them or disturbed them, you know, somethin’ too bad, then if they meet you they think that you’re gonna do the same thing. They might go for you then. But otherwise.….
MS: Won’t Helen be worried where you are?
AV: She knows. I left her a note.
JS: Otherwise they won’t touch you.
AV: Do you remember any ghost stories?
JS: Oh, I used to know lots of them long time ago. Now I forgot ’em all!
AV: Tell me about the Mamona. What’s that?
JS: (chuckles) Mamona! That’s like the witchcraft!
AV: Yeah? What is it?
JS: Yeah! I used to know lot of stories one time. Then I Didn’t say them or didn’t think of them. I forgot lots of things. If I get a start once on them, then I get goin’.
AV: How do you get a start on some of those?
JS: Ha ha! Somebody else, you know, will say one, then you get on to one.…
JS: Then you get on to some of yours.
AV: You know, I was talkin’ to hrs. Zosak the other day, and she was saying about this Mamona, how it’s supposed to be like when you’re walking in the woods, picking huckleberries, and suddenly it seems that your mind is twisted around, and when you’re going back into the woods, you think you’re going back home, and you’re actually walking farther into the woods.…
JS: You just circle then. You keep on circlin’ around, mostly. Well, hell, this here Annie Maloney, well, she got lost on was it, the other day!
AV: Yeah. It was Monday, or something.
JS: And she landed somewhere out.….
A. Varesano interviewing Joe Sulkusky (and Mrs. S.)
AV: That place?
JS: That’s a far piece, from into, And she landed there, she got balled up.
AV: Do you think that was the Mamona?
JS: Yeah, that, that…
MS: She was out pickin’ berries with and them.
MS: And, yeah, they were hollerin’ for her and all, but she didn’t hear them or what. And she just finally kept walkin’, walkin’, lookin’ for them, where they are. and here where she landed, way in in there, and [invincible]
JS: Well, it was all right she landed somewhere like that. Suppose she wouldn’t of hit that place.
JS: And she would be keepin’ on goin’.
MS: And then she called, they asked. the guy asked her where she is from and all, and she said that she is from Eckley. Call up. So they called, come up and picked her up there.
JS: Well, hell, take Steve’s brother–you know Annie–well, the two of them is dead, Steve’s dead, and Joe, Crow they used to call his pickname, Crow–well, I seen him, me and Steve went out for berries, that did work, and we went down towards the Number Three, down by the third spring down there. And there is a ridge on this side and a ridge on this side, and there’s a pretty big hollow there. And we were pickin’ berrries, you know–I had the two buckets full already–and I started pickin’ a can. And I walked out a little bit to see how the berries are runni’, are they runnin’ out that way more yet, and Steve was pickin’ and I beat him out a little, so I said I’m goin’ out to see how far those berries are runnin’. I walked, not too far ahead, and I look up ahead and I see a guy come from up above and go down in this hollow, then he disappears, I don’t see him. And then pretty soon i see him comin’ around back up, and he goes up again from where he come, you know. Well, I thought, Maybe he has buckets and he has them up on a stone, you know, and he is pickin’ berries down below in a can and he goes up and dumps them in the bucket. But I seen him go that way about three or four times. And I thought, what the hell, he can’t pick a can Full of berries that quick. So I hollered at Steve. I says, Steve! Come here! What’s the matter? Well, just come here once. He come over and he says What now. I said, I seen this guy. I says, and he goes up there and then he goes back down in the hollow and he comes around and he goes up back again now. And Steve is lookin’, lookin’, what the hell is he doin’? Well, I said, now Steve. I am lookin’ at that quite a while, I said. He made about four trips or five, I said, since I called you. So he went up again, you know, and Steve was lookin’–but Steve didn’t recognize him, you know. So then he went down again and he comes around back up again, and we moved up a little more. And he come up again, you know, and I looked and I says, Steve, that looks like your Crow! Ahhhh, what the hell would he be doin’ here? Well, just what we’re doin’, I guess. So, he’s lookin’, lookin’–BeGod, he says, it does look somethin’ like him. I said, I’ll betcha that’s your Crow. So we started hollerin’ at him, you know, callin’ him. He didn’t pay no attention, until he cursed him. When he cursed him, that guy stand in his tracks, right there. So he looks again, he says, By God, he says. I’ll betcha that’s him. So he walks down to him. He was down to him, you know, and his brother starts cryin’, you know, cryin’ like hell, Steve says, what’s the matter, he
A. Varesano interviewing Joe Sulkusky (and Mrs. S.)
said. What the hell are you doin’ here? For huckleberries. Where is your huckleberries? He said, I threw them away. He had two cans of these five-quarters or six quarters. and a smaller three-quarter, I guess. He says, I was comin’ home, he says, and I don’t know, he says, I am comin’ around and I can’t get no place, he says. He wanted to get down to the center railroad track and he couldn’t get there, so he kept on twistin’. Now if he had of go left, he would have hit the center railroad. If he woulda went right, and kept on goin’ over this next little knoll, right below down there is the center railroad, too, because it comes down the third spring this way and she makes a big circle and goes back that way. Two ways he could have hit the center railroad. Then up above there is an old log road–they used to haul lumber for the timberyard, when the mines was goin’–they used to call it the jedda [hoyt?]. So he could have gone on that if he would have went up just about, well I would say, oh I don’t know if it was a hundred yards, maybe fifty yards, from where he was. The old log road would have took him right out home over to Number Eight here. He couldn’t hit no place. He was just walkin’ that circle. And he thought he was goin’ all one way. And he was makin’ that big ring all around. That’s what they call the Mamona. The Mamona gets you. They say there is some kind of a weed or some kind of plant in the brush, too, if you rub, or got in that, or anything, that’ll get you.
AV: Do you know what they call that plant?
AV: What do they call it?
JS: You know, I’ll tell ya, one time they had a lodge–oh, that lodge is still goin’, up in this church up here. The.….Lodge. And the officers, three of them, alter a meeting up here they went up to Freeland, you know.…
MS: She don’t mean that. She means that what did you used to call those…
JS: The what?
MS: What do you call them things?
JS: Them what?
MS: That, what you’re, the Mamona, what you’re…
JS: Mamona! Ha Ha!
AV: The weeds!
JS: The weeds!
JS: Well, we don’t know what kind they are. Nobody knows. But they say that there is a weed like that, or some kind of bush or weed or something, you rub again’ it, or pass, you know, goin’ through, maybe you rub it or maybe you push it on the side or something, that you lose your mind and you keep on circling around. So, these three men, they went ot Freeland to bank the money that they had collected–because it was a pretty big lodge one time–and then do their business in the bank and stuff. And, comin’ home, it was dark. Well, then there weren’t transportation, like now, you know. Maybe they had a drink or two, you know, on the way comin’! And when they got home, up where Emil Gera is livin’, when they come up on that side up there, they didn’t know where the hell they were. They kept on goin’. One of them went down Porter Swamp, that’s away back that way.….huh?
MS: She was for huckleberries…
MS: Angie was for huckleberries, with Bruno.…
AV: I know where Porter Swamp is, yes.
JS: Well, there was a dam down there, and they used to pump the water up here from
A. Varesano interviewing Joe Sulkusky ( and Mrs. S.)
there, and they had pumps down there, pump house. And there’s a man workin’ there, you know. Old Baron.
MS: And Old Micklaus.
JS: Yeah, and old Micklaus. Micklaus, where the boys are slayin’ now, in that house. Well, his father. He was only a small man. And they were pump-runners down there. So finally, these men, one found himself down there in the morning, other one up home in his own home, under the tub in the shanty and the other one found himself up at Number One up here, in that engine house. So that they didn’t know where they were. They come that far, they didn’t know where they were.
JS: That Mamona got them!
JS: Well, this here Patty Gallagher’s sister, down at Number Three–down at that hollow where Joe was circling–but she was lost down there and she was smart enough, but she was there all night. She couldn’t get nowhere, so she laid down someplace along the center railroad then after, around there. And then they went a lookin’ for her, see, and they found her there. Yep, she was out all night! Oh, yes, them things happen.
AV: Did it happen to you?
JS: No. Not so far1
AV: You said before, that was like witchcraft. Were there witches around here?
JS: Oh, I guess they are! Maybe they are yet, some witches!
AV: Do you think?
JS: Sure! They used to call them [Goonsfn.?]
AV: Yeah? What did they used to do? What did they say they did?
JS: Well, they could witch you, or anything, yeah, they could witch you.
AV: With what?
JS: Oh, just, they have a way, they can put a curse on you or anything like that they can witch.
AV: Did you ever hear of some, here?
JS: (he doesn’t appear to have heard the question). No, yeah.
AV: Mrs. Zosak says that she thinks there might have been one around that stopped her cow from making milk.
JS: Oh, yes, yep, yep, yep, yep. That happened in this town, I know.
AV: Did it?
JS: Oh yes. But a long time, when the people had cows, you know. Somebody had a grudge again’ another party, you know, and they couldn’t, didn’t know what the hell to do but witchcraft the cow that she wouldn’t give any milk. Oh, yeah, I hear that there were lots, a couple of them.
AV: How do you protect against it?
JS: Well, I don’t know how the hell they do it, but they can do it. But I seen, down here in Number Four, there used to be…
MS: Maybe you can tell more stories some other day.
JS: Heh! We used to be, down at Number Four there, cows used to go down, and the gosh dang cows, there was one especially used to come home dry, always milked out, you know. And nobody knew, they thought somebody was milking that cow. Tat she would stand for them, and they used to go and milk her, you know. And it wasn’t, wasn’t nobody milkin’ her but a snake. Milk snake. Big milk snake.
AV: What are they, now?
JS: So I got that baby? Up here above that railroad, where the rocks start. And I was up there for berries or something, and I got it.
AV: What do they look like?
A. Varesano interviewing Joe Sulkusky ( and Mrs. S.)
JS: They’re, they got white stripes over them and brown ones. just like you put garters on the son of a gun, all over. Oh, but they’re big. That’n was fourteen feet long!
JS: And I hit him with rocks–there are a lot of rocks, you know, they used to blast rocks that they used to make these bridges and stuff from, up there, and there are lots of pieces that you just grab, and they’re sharp–and I give him one with a rock, and I cut him. You oughta see the milk comin’ out of him!
MS: You talk too loud, the neighbors are asleep.
Ms: You talk too loud, the neighbors are sleepin’.
JS: The what?
MS: You talk too loud, the.…
JS: Oh, talk too loudly!
JS: So, when I killed him, you know, I brought him up here—Marshliks lived in that house. on the corner. and they were right on the alley, there were big rocks used to go out, you could go under them, right over to the cave, they’re caved in now, down, but then we used to sit under them rocks. If it rained, you could sit there, you wouldn’t get wet–I brought him up there, and they measured the darn snake. That’s how long, fourteen feet long.
AV: And they suck the milk from the cow?
JS: Yeah. And the cow will stand for them. A black one will suck a cow, too, if he gets a chance. They’ll wrap around the leg, all the way up, and then the cow will stand and they’ll keep on suckin’, like it’s pup.
AV: And the only way to get rid of them is to kill them off?
JS: Yeah, get rid of them, yeah. They know how to get it.
AV: How do you witch a cow so that it doesn’t give milk?
JS: How do you miss it?
AV: No, how do you witch a cow.…
JS: Oh, ha ha! If I knew, then I would know how to do it. I don’t know! Yeah, there’s witchcraft.
AV: I heard like they have the Evil Eye, like they say, what do they call it, Zohcha? What is that?
JS: Ha ha! I don’t know! Did Mrs. Zosak told you?
AV: Well, Mrs. Timko.
JS: Well, you get a lot of them stories, from a lot of different people. Oh, before, there used to be all kinds of old-time, European people, and they used to come from Europe, you know. A lot more. And they used to know lots of this stuff. Teachin’ about witchcraft and stuff.
(Recording of Sulkusky’s clock chiming. beautiful:)
JS: What time is that?
MS: Eleven o’clock.
AV: Oh, boy! Already? Oh, my goodness? Time for me to go, I guess!
MS: Come down here some other time, Angie.
A. Varesano interviewing Mary Sulkusky
AV: Do you remember any bake over in this town at all
MS: Well yes I remember a bake oven once when I had a neighbor, when a neighbor was here, used to have in the back
AV: Which neighbor was that
MS: Mrs. she’s dead already though, but her son still liven and I think he lives in
AV: This was on Back Street
MS: That was on Back Street, we lived together with Helen Fedorha, across the street Helen and her mother, and I was the neighbor across, and she, Machelle lived next door to us
AV: Where did they have this bake oven
MS: In the back, in the back of their, like summer shack, summer kitchen
AV: Just right in back of it
MS: Right in the back of it
AV: How far way from it, naybe
MS: Well it wasn’t so far but it was quite a bit of distance, take care of it, you know, going back and forth doin’ the bakin’
AV: It was maybe ten feet away from the back of the shanty
Ms: Oh it was about ten feet
AV: How big was it, what did it look like
Ms: It looked like, made like, like bricks, out of bricks, and there you know it was, like in and they used to take the bread and put it in that oven
AV: How tall was it about
Ms: Oh it was, I guess, quite a bit as tall as that or taller then that, for the bread to rise and to bake in it
AV: Would you say five feet tall
MS: Oh it would be about that
AV interviewing M. Sulkusky
AV: And it was square, was it
AV: How high was the entrance off the ground from where you put in the bread
MS: It wasn’t as high as that I don’t think so
AV: It was maybe three feet off the ground
MS: Oh it could be about three feet off the ground, about 2 or 3 feet off the ground.
AV: And it was a square opening
MS: Square opening, and they were and this here and it was like a top, on a top, it was like, I can’t just remember how it was built, but it was very handy and very nice to bake in it and it used to make very nice bread.
AV: Did it have a flat top or a round
MS: Rounded top I guess, yea, like a dome
AV: Was there a chimney comin’ out of it too
MS: Like a chimney comin’ out of it
AV: Where did you put, how did you use that thing, do you know
MS: Well they used to put, after you had your bread raised, you used to put it in and that used to bake because it was just made like a square
AV: How did you heat it up
MS: Well that’s what I can’t remember how I used to heat it, you know, was it coal that used to heat it or how they did heat it, that’s what I don’t, because I was, I was a young girl you see and then I raised babies, and you see Mrs. Timko had one where Mrs. Timko lived, I think they used to have that, I can’t remember whether it was that or was an open cellar.
AV: You mean up there now where she lives
MS: Where she lives
AV: That’s a cold cellar now
A. Varensano interviewing M. Slukusky
AV: Do you remember anyone else on Back Street having one
MS: I couldn’t tell anybody if anybody else had one
AV: How about the Senicks’s
MS: Well, I couldn’t tell you if Senick’s had one, I really don’t remember that
AV: Did you hear anybody talking about them
MS: No, I don’t hear anybody talking about them, of course I guess before there were more people, because this town was quite big you know, in the old generation like the older women that used to bake, well they used to do that, they used to bake the bread
AV: In the bake oven
MS: In the bake oven
AV: Did you ever hear anybody saying that there were bake ovens on Main Street here
MS: I didn’t hear anybody that have any, I couldn’t tell you about that, of course maybe the ones that lived here, I guess they could remember but I don’t drink But this one was my neighbot. The one I remember good
AV: How about you mentioned that Mrs. Timko there that big round thing that cold cellar, how many people on Back Street had those things?
MS: Well they used to be quite a bit because they used to have, they used to protect everything, you know, have everything stores
AV: Instead of refrigerators
MS: Instead of refrigerators, that was nice in there
AV: Did your neighbor have one
MS: My neighbor, no, I don’t remember if they had, but I remember Mrs. Timko having. one
AV: And did you have one yourself on the Back Street
MS: No I don’t think so
Av: What did your family use instead of that
MS: Well they used to have an open pit, closed up things, but I think we had any one of those cellars, or maybe we had, but I just can’t distinctly remember
A. Varesano interviewing M. Sulkusky
but I know there was a lady here right across and she used to live now she lived there she used to be Mrs. Fatula’s neighbor.
AV: What was her name
MS: She was Mrs. Fatula, when she lived right across, across here where that street is. where you see all them geraniums. those flowers on the stone wall
AV: On the Back Street
MS: On the Back Street there I remember she had one of those cellars
AV: Where was it located
MS: Right in the corner in the back in the back of the shanty, in book of the summer kitchen
AV: Just right directly in back
MS: In the back
AV: Maybe just two feet behind it
MS: About two or three feet behind it
AV: And did it look like Mrs. Timko’s cellar
MS: Something like Mrs. Timko’s
AV: What I can’t figure out thought how come everybody didn’t have one of those
MS: Well I guess you wanted to go, that was a lot of work you had to make a foundation like, you know close all that in, so I remember Timko’s having it there but I couldn’t tell you, because you have to make like a cover, a big this here foundation like, you know, that you could keep cold in
AV: And not everybody wanted to bother
MS: And not everybody wanted to bother, there were quite a bit, I guess who wanted to bother with it, o,k. but who didn’t want to bother, if you didn’t have nobody to do it for you, you couldn’t do it.
AV: How about those McDermotts that lived over here in that house that was torn down, did they have any of this
MS: No I don’t think they had any
A. Varesano interviewing M. Sulk.
AV: No cold cellar and no bake oven
AV: What about this house over here, the Fissicks, I guess they lived up right across the way here
MS: Fissicks lived right across, yes, no they didn’t have none, their house burn’t down and they didn’t live there very long and the mother died and he was staying with the daughter, with the children and it was on Easter or Palm Sunday that house. I don’t know what they did but his daughter was stayin’ with him but the house burn’t down.
AV: What about those smoke shanties, you know, where they smoked sausages and hams did you have any one of those on the Back Street
MS: No I didn’t have any but my neighbor has one now
AV: Which neighbor
MS: see it standing there
AV: Anybody else on the Back Street have one he says roastes, makes 2 syllables out of it around Easter time, he bakes his ham, he roastes his ham, you see that like thing there standing up right back of this here, there you can see it from here, standing up right back of this
AV: On Main Street do you know if many people had them
MS: I couldn’t tell you who had them on Main Street, I don’t know, I just don’t remember, if you wanted to smoke some sausage that is the place to do
AV: Did they use their neighbor’s if they didn’t have one themselves
MS: I guess they did, you know
AV: How about here, did you have one here
MS: Not while I’m living here because I used to live down where that Gloria is, that house right next to Helen, that’s where I lived there, see I came here to live after my mother died last two years my father then I came to make a home
A. Varesano inter. M. Susk.
for my father so I came to move here on this side
AV: And how did you smoke your meats or didn’t you smoke them
MS: I didn’t smoke them, maybe my parents were when they were younger maybe they did smoke their meats because my father use to peel hogs and things and he used to raise a cow and then in the wintertime he used to butcher
AV: Did he do it himself
MS: He used to do it himself
AV: Where did he do it
MS: Well ther was a guy who used to come around they used to call him [illegible?]. He used to go around killin’ all them hogs
AV: Yes, I heard of him
MS: Well, if you ddin’t want to keep you hog already or what you had he used to go around and he used to help you kill it
AV: Would this killing take place in the back near the tree
MS: In the back out in the yard, in like it is all the time around Thanksgiving Day that’s when they used to do the killing around Tanksgiving Day
AV: Why was that
MS: That was, in this town it was on Thanksgiving Day the people used to butcher their hogs and all that suff, butcher their stuff, and put it away and some used to smoke it too, you know smoke it and take care of it, you know, they used to have it smokes
AV: What happened if you didn’t smoke it, what did you do with the meat
MS: You used to put it in salt
AV: In salt, how did you do that
MS: Well you used to put i tin a barrel, like sake a barrel and salt your meat in that barrel
AV: Did you put the bones in and everything, the fat
MS: Yeh, used to have it all cut up
A. Vare. interviewing H. Susk.
AV: And then where did you keep that barrel with the salt meat
MS: In a cold place, in a cold storage
AV: Which was the summer kitchen maybe
MS: It was out in the outside more in a cold spot, like a cold place
AV: Oh right outside
MS: Yea, you’d have a shanty, or some kind of a shanty you know and keep it cold in there
AV: In the summer kitchenor some other small building
MS: Toward the back of the property line
end of Mary Sulkusky
A. Varesano goes into talking to another woman without introducing her, I’m sure it isn’t Mary Sulkusky so I guess it’s Mrs. Banas, volume up high yet her voice is very fair.
AV: Tell me something about how the marriages were arranged around here
MB: Well before the girl, they used to all got married at 15 years, 18 years they were married already when they were 15 years they used to
AV: Did they choose their own partners
MB: I don’t know they used to get together they used to meat, you had a boy friend and you went for him for awhile and if you wanted to get married you’d get married you’d have to ask the consent from the parents, you know.
AV: Did many parents arrange the marriages of their daughters
MB: I guess so
AV: Even in that time yet
MB: In that time
AV: Did you know of any of your friends that were married just with their parents arranging it and without their consent
MB: I couldn’t tell you because I don’t know? was married the same time she was
Vishesh Agrawal, Melanie Akren-Dickson, Ann Kline, judyak, Daryl Bojarcik, Camille Westmont, Beverly Brennan, Marisa Bozarth and LINDA MARIE BECKHAM