Vol. 4-Interview-Washko


A. Varesano interviewing Mary Washko -1- 7/19/72

Tape 23-1

AV: What did the woman do in the house?

MW: Well, years ago, she had all the responsibility. She had to take care of the children, take care of the clothes, work in the garden, wash clothes on the wash board. In her spare time she had to sew–you couldn’t buy clothes as you do today. In the summer you took the children out to the woods, picked huckleberries, come home, give them a little bite to eat, then start washin’ clothes. In the night, you’d be workin’ back again in the garden. Every weekend you’d bake bread, cake, so you’d have enough for the children for the weekend. Then, like in the fall, when the huckleberries were gone, you’d do your cannin’, whatever vegetables you raised in the garden, you’d do your cannin’. Then, you’d try and get your coal–that’s the anthracite– to burn in the winter. You had a chance to pick it, you’d want to pick it, you didn’t have to buy it and pay for it. Then, the children went in to school, it was gettin’ ’em off to school, comin’ home for recess, give them a couple minutes with a cookie or somethin’, send them back, then lunchtime again–because school was right here in town, they didn’thave to be bussed– and in the evening the same thing, you’d take the children, they all had their chores, you’d take them down to the slate banks, pick some coal, have them haul it in, have them work a little bit in the garden, or pick potato bugs!

AV: Did the mother of the house actually pick coal, or did she just show the way for the children?

MW: No, she actually picked with them and fill the bag up, or buckets, and carry it home. Or, if you had a bag, you’d put it over a barrel and push it home.

AV: Did she take them out to pick coal?

MW: Yeah, most of them, if they were smaller. If they were older, they took care of themselves. And by the time you got them home, gave them a bite to eat again, washed everything up, well, they had a little bit of school work, not like they do now, so you had to be with them. And the men were busy, too. They’d get home from work, they’d be takin’ a bath, you had to wash their backs, get their water warm, spill it in a little tub–you didn’t have no bathrooms.

AV: Where would they wash them?

MW: Well, they’d, in the kitchen, they’d put the tub in there, they’d kneel on the floor, and just get–because they were them round tubs, they weren’t the oval tubs like they have now–and wash so far, and then, wash their backs and all, and then they’d finish up washin’. You’d give them their supper, and whatever they had to do, they done their chores, in the evening.

AV: What king of men’s chores were there to do?

MW: Oh, there was choppin’ wood, fixin’ fences, workin’ in the garden, pickin’ coal, too.…

AV: The men pciked coal at the end of the day?

MW: Oh, yes. After mining so long, then they’d still even pick some! So, everybody was kept busy. And in the fall when it got cooler already a lot of times, and the evenings were long, people had geese and ducks, they’d pluck them, and save the feathers. You had to pluck feathers to make pillows.

AV: The women did this?

MW: The women and the children, the girls.

AV: Didn’t the boys help out with plucking feathers?

MW: Well, they did, but they weren’t handy at it like the girls. And boy, it was tough! You couldn’t laugh, you couldn’t sneeze, or nothin’, the feathers would fly all over!


A. Varensano interviewing Mary Washko -2- 7/19/72

Tape 23-1

AV: How did you pick the feathers? How did you work that?

MW: Well, you’d stick your hand in the bag and got a fistful, and take by one by one, and you’d pull the feather off, and the stem you’d throw on the side. That had to go out, so the feathers would be soft and fluffy. Then you’d make pillows, feather quilts, and, well, like you slept under one. And well, I said that was a job by itself. It would take weeks beforeyou got all that done.

AV: Making a feather quilt?

MW: No, pluckin’ the feathers. It wasn’t too bad makin’ ’em, but pluckin’ the feathers.

AV: What did you call that? Feather tick, or quilt?

MW: Well, it would be really a feather thick (sic).

AV: Pedena.

MW: And when you got that done, boy, everybody was really happy! Because that was tough. I didn’t like it myself, but I done it a lot. And then, oh boy, when Christmas was comin’, that was a jolly time!

AV: Why?

MW: Well, because they knew the mothers would bake goodies, and they believed in Mrs. Cox, them days! They’d get, everybody got a present. The mothers and fathers couldn’t afford presents, so we get them. Then you’d get a little bit nut bread, or poppa seed bread.

AV: From Mrs. Cox?

MW: No, no, no, the mothers would bake. And that was a treat, because you didn’t get that all the time. So, that was a happy time for the kids. Well, in the winter we had fun, though. Because all these children, you know, we’d get together and we would take and go out sleigh riding or pull one another, or jump in the snow, or make a bobsled, and about ten of us or more would get on, find a hill, and go down, and when we hit the bottom, well, we made the boys pull the sleigh and we’d get on and get up the hill! Oh, that was, well, that was fun! But I said, no matter how cold we were–sometimes we didn’t have mittens of torn mittens, but that, we got such a thrill–that was the only pleasure you got, so you didn’t mind it, you just stayed out until you couldn’t stand it no longer!

AV: Did the girls go sledding with the boys?

MW: Oh, yeah. So, it was lots to do. And then, sewin’. Sewin’ took a lot of time.

AV: Who did the sewing around the house?

MW: The mother. And then they learned the children.

AV: The young girls?

MW: The girls. If they were interested.

AV: Oh, yeah?

MW: Yeah. And then, no patterns! Just imagination! The best they could. It was, you couldn’t go to the store and buy dresses like you do now, you know these days, and all kind of slips and all. Just about everything you wore you hadda make. Lot of things were made out of flour bags.

AV: What did you make out of them?

MW: We made slips, we made underclothes, you made little vests, like, that you could, them days you had little underpants that you’d button on a little vest. Then we’d make slips out of them. And dress the best way you could, I guess. Just about everybody’s dress was the same pattern! Because there was no patterns, you know, to take your pick. It was gathered in the waist, the skirt was gathered, and the top, just a little plain top with a sleeve in, high button shoes, and if you got a different color than a black, you were tickled! Because you never had a white. But I had like a real light


A. Varesano interviewing Mary Washko -3- 7/19/72 Tape 23-1

MW: tan, like a champagne-colored shoes. And I got them because I was goin’ to first holy communion. And, oh that was a big thrill for me.

AV: What, communion?

MW: No, them colored shoes. Because nobody else had them kind and I did! So, if you got something different than someone else, that made you feel readl big. So.

AV: Well, what did they do at first holy communion? Any celebration, or?

MW: Well, not exactly. See, when you was a certain age you went to like Sunday School they called it, and you had to know all them questions about God, you know? And then you’d learn so long, then you’d learn your prayers before confession. And then they’d pick out a certain day, you’d go on a Saturday to confession, and then Sunday to communion. Well, then they’d dress you up already, you know, for communion. You had a little veil, and dress, and during Mass you’d receive that holy communion. In them days they really didn’t have nothin’, you know. You’d just come home. Then if there was a little family, you’d get, you’d come to the house and maybe have a sandwich or whatever you had for them, and a drink. Just some light –nowadays they give the children money, they are pretty lucky!

AV: Well, these first communions, did you have a special dress for the occasion?

MW: No, not exactly a special dress, but it had to be white. Yeah. It was, if your mother made it, your mother made it. Only that they bought the veils because you couldn’t really make them in the them days.

AV: Were the dresses long?

MW: Oh, yeah, below the knees. Yeah. No, no short ones. Long stockins.

AV: What did the boys wear?

MW: Well, they usually wore navy blue. Navy blue suits, with a white shirt, and I don’t know, they usually had a white ribbon tied on their arm, I guess to represent something. So, that was the occasion on that. And to go to church you had to go every Sunday, no matter how far you had to walk. You just hadda go. Your parents said “To church”, you went to church.

AV: Did the parents take the kids, or just send them?

MW: Oh, no, they went. In my day, the people really went to church. Oh, yeah, you walked. And regardless what kind of big holy day come up, if they had midnight Mass or anything, they went to midnight mass just like they would an ordinary Mass, you know, during the day. The church was always crowded. And oh, sing songs, for every occasion there was a different song.

AV: You mean the Holy Days.

MW: Holy days, yeah.

AV: What else did you do at Christmas time? Did you have any special customs?

MW: Well, yeah, like Christmas, you’d, we called it a Holy Supper. The family all got together. And you’d had maybe sometimes six, seven different kinds of food, somebody had more. And you’d taste a little bit of everything. You had a candle lighted, you’d pray, everybody was together.

AV: How did you do that? What kind of prayer did you say?

MW: Well, you’d just say your ordinary prayer, like Our Father who art in heaven, you know. And before and after, you’d thank God for the food.

AV: Would you have the candle lit on the table? During the meal?

MW: Yeah.

AV: What did that symbolize?

MW: Well, that really, I don’t know really how it went about, but they, I know, if it was superstitious or not, they’d always say, everybody sat around, the candle was burning, it would flicker, and we always used to look for the shadows on the wall. We were told as kids, whether it was true or not, that who had the biggest head, they’d say would die the first!


A. Varesano interviewing Mary Washko -4- 7/19/72 Tape 23

AV: My goodness!

MW: Yes! But, you know, the year would pass and nothing would happen, so you figured it was only, you know, it wasn’t true. But people come up with them things.

AV: That’s interesting.

MW: Yes. And then, after that, when we got done eating, my daddy always played with us, this-here, like, a nut game, you know? He’d always take a couple nuts in the hand, and he would say–in our way it would be cumpara, nidpara–that means, is it odd or even. You know? And if you would say odd, and if he had four in his hand, and odd should have been three or five, you know, so then he kept the nuts. And if we guessed it, we’d take the nuts! We’d be playing all night, you know! Checking up on that! Why then, if you got, like, we’d fill stockings. My daddy always was, ah, he’d play a joke on us. He’d take and fill about so, the whole bottom of the stocking with coal. And then my mother would fill it up with an orange and an apple and popcorn, you know, to get it to the top. That’s about all you got. And an orange in them days meant a lot.

AV: Where did you hang your stocking?

MW: Behind the stove on a nail. Behind the stove.

AV: And who did you thinnk, the kids.…

 MW: Well, we know the parents filled them, because in them days there was no, really even if you wnet like, for our gits, what, like in Drifton there was a cross creek hall?, they call it, we went there. Well, we all gathered there and they’d sing, you know, and the minister would be there from that church, and well then Santa Claus would appear but just you know to say a few words. But then when the gifts were given out, it was ordinarily helpers. So we didn’t believe that much in Santa Claus. We didn’t get that much. So that’s how that was.

 AV: This Holy Supper, does it mean something to have six or seven different foods?

 MW: Yes, it really does, but I had a paper on that, what every meal represents, but now I don’t have anything. I know, you know, that they’d say you eat garlic, well they’d say garlic was to keep the spirits away.

 AV: What kind of spirits?

 MW: Well, evil spirits! And then they’d have mushroom soup. Well they’d say when you ate mushroom soup there was no worries, or worries, or no worries. There was a little story to every one, which, I had it on paper somewhere, but really I never put them things away, and they are nice to have.

 AV: Did your family follow this idea, that each food meant a different thing?

 MW: Well, ah, it was the custom already that you just went ahead and done it every year. And you just kept up the tradition, you know, and I guess it was one of them things, you believed in it and you just done it.

 AV: When did you hang up the stockings?

 MW: Before we went to bed Christimas Eve. We’d get down at four or five in the morning to see what we got!

 AV: Did you eat the stuff right away?

 MW: No, you figured you wouldn’t get them, and you was trying to hold on to them as long as it would last! Yeah, so. Washing clothes was tough, though. On a washboard, boy, it would take you half a day, you’d be rubbing. Boy, your pour back really had it, til they invented them washers. Wash the clothes once and carry your water, boil the clothes, then wash them again, then rinse them, and no wringer or nothin’. Boy, your wrists, it was tough.

 AV: Oh, my goodness! Well, when did you start, the day you would wash?

 MW: In the morning, and you kept goin’, whether it was one, two, three, in the afternoon. You know, you wanted to do your wash that day.


A.Varesano interviewing Mary Washko -5- 7/19/72 Tape 23-1

 AV: When would you start in the morning?

 MW: As soon as yu saw your way clear, you know, to get to the tubs to wash. You had to get the breakfasts out and wash them dishes and all, and then get your clothes together.

 AV: When did you start, usually?

 MW: Well, sometimes when the children were real small, I’d get up and I’d be half done before they’d be out of bed.

 AV: You must have been up about five o’clock.

 MW: Five, five o’clock, And you had to go out in the hydrant, get your water, carry that in, heat in on the stove…

 AV: In what?

 MW: In a big boiler.

 AV: Just one boiler?

 MW: Well, yes, but that big boiler would hold about six or eight buckets of water. So you really had enough.

 AV: Yes.

 MW: And bakin’ bread, you’d start the night before, until you made about eight loaves, it would be afternoon the next day.

 AV: Well, how did you finish washing the clothes then, after you heated up the wather?

 MW: Well, then, when you washed them the second time, you had another tub with cold water in. You’d rinse them out. You would rinse them out good and squeeze them out, and hang them on the line. Of course there was a lot of water in there. In the summer it was all right, but in the winter sometimes you’d have icicles hangin’ from them, till they’d melt.

 AV: What did you use for soap?

 MW: Well, usually it was Fels Naptha soap. I made some of my own soap. I made it out of drippings, like lard, old lard drippings, and you’d save that, and when you had about four pound of old dripping, I’d get a can of lye, and dissolve so much water, you know, cold water, and dissolve the lye in cold water, because that thing boils. You’d stir that til it dissolved good. Then that would be hot. So you’d leave it go til that would oool off, because that would boil if you put something in there. Then you’d get your drippings soft.

 AV: How did you do that?

 MW: On the stove. You’d put the can til it melted. It was lukewarm, but the drippings had to be like melted. And then you’d take these drippings, when the lye water was cold, and you’d be stirring these drippings, you know, the fat, into the lye with a stick. And you just kep on goin’ and goin’ and goin’ til you got all your drippings in.

 AV: Then what happened?

 MW: Then you had t keep stirring that til that would start settling, like soap. And when you saw it start gettin’ thick already, so then that you couldn’t stir it no more, and you’d want it smooth, you’d quit. And you’d leave it sit til about the next day. It would be a little bit on the soft side, but you’d cut it in soap sizes, whatever size you wanted. Then you left it in there again for another day or two, and then it got so hard that you just used it. And that was really good soap for clothes, becuase it took the stains out. That lye really did. Then the trick. So you’d make soap, you’d make maybe twelve, fourteen pieces–you’d usually have a big square pan, I had an old one and I kept it for that purpose.

 AV: How big was it about?

 MW: Oh, I guess about two feet by one foot, it was an old, old time bread pan.

 AV: How high?


A. Varesano interviewing Mary Washko -5- 7/19/72 Tape 23-1

 AV: When would you start in the morning?

 MW: As soon as you saw your way clear, yu know, to get to the tubs to wash. You had to get the breakfasts out and wash them dishes and all, and then get your clothes together.

 AV: When did you start, usually?

 MW: Well, sometimes when the children were real small, I’d get up and I’d be hald done before they’d be out of bed.

 AV: You mush have been up about five o’clock.

 MW: Five, five o’clock. And you had to go out in the hydrant, get your water, carry that in, heat it on the stove…

 AV: In what?

 MW: In a big boiler.

 AV: Just one boiler?

 MW: Well, yes, but that big boiler would hold about six or eight buckets of water. So you really had enough.

 AV: Yes.

 MW: And bakin’ bread, you’d start the night before, until you made about eight loaves, it would be afternoon the next day.

 AV: Well, how did you finish washing the clothes then, after you heated up the water?

 MW: Well, then, when you washed them the second time, you had another tub with cold water in. You’d rinse them out. You would rinse them out good and squeeze them out, and hang them on the line. Of course there was a lot of water in there. In the summer it was all right, but in the winter sometimes you’d have icicles hangin’ from them, til they’d melt.

 AV: What did you use for soap?

 MW: Well, usually it was Fels Naptha soap. I made some of my own soap. I made it out of drippings, like lard, old lard drippings, and you’d save that, and when you had about four pound of old dripping, I’d get a can of lye, and dissolve so much wather, you know, cold water, and dissolve the lye in cold water, because that thing boils. You’d stir that til it dissolved good. Then that would be hot. So you’d leave it til that would cool off, because that would boil if you put something in there. Then you’d get your drippings soft.

 AV: How did you do that?

 MW: On the stove. You’d put the can til it melted. It was lukewarm, but the drippings had to be like melted. And then you’d take these drippings, when the lye water was cold, and you’d be stirring these drippings, you know, the fat, into the lye with a stick. And you just kept on goin’ and goin’ and goin’ til you got all your drippings in.

 AV: Then what happened?

 MW: Then you had to keep stirring that til that would start settling, like soap. And when you saw it start gettin’ thick already, so then that you couldn’t stir it no more, and you’d want it smooth, you’d quit. And you’d leave it sit til about the next day. It would be a little bit on the soft side, but you’d cut it in soap sizes, whatever size you wanted. Then you left it in there again for another day or two, and then it got so hard that you just used it. And that was really good soap for clothes, because it took the stains out. That lye really did. Then the trick. So you’d make soap, you’d make maybe twelve, fourteen pieces–you’d usually have a big square pan, I had an old one and I kept it for that purpose.

 AV: How big was it about?

 MW: Oh, I guess about two feet by one foot, it was an old, old time bread pan.

 AV: How high?


A.Varesano interviewing Mary Washko -6- 7/19/72 Tape 23-1

 MW: About three, four inches.

 AV: And you put the soap in there…

 MW: To set. And then when it got set, then you’d cut it up and you had soap.

 AV: Where did you store the soap after you made it?

 MW: Well, we usually had this, what they call the summer kitchen, and in the winter it was always cool. You didn’t have no fire in there, so you put it, and that kept them. Even a little bit heat–I used to take mine out and put paper in a cardboard box, a little cardboard box. And I’d pile the soap up on the top of another.

 AV: Newspaper?

 MW: Well, in them days you used more newspaper than anything.

 AV: So then it was this kind of soap that you used to wash the clothes with?

 MW: Yes, or scrub. It was good for scrubbing floors, because we had to scrub floors then.

 AV: Well, when you went to wash the clothes, how many–you boiled the clothes at one point.

 MW: Yes, then I’d chip some of that soap in the boiler so it would boil with that soap. And it took the stains out.

 AV: How long would that take to…

 MW: Well, you’d only leave it boil about ten minutes, that’s all. And you had a big broomstick, you’d shift them around a little bit, and then when you got the first load done–you’d put the white on the stove to boil, then you’d be washing the second load, like towels and underclothes, and then the blue, the colored things, so by the time you go the colored things done you’d spillthe water out, then you’d take those off the stove and start all over again. You had to wash them twice. Then when you took those out, you’d throw a couple towels in or underclothes, into that water and leave them boil a little bit, because you couldn’t take all that water out. You had to take a stick and pick them up out of the water. Then you put them in a tub and you just added cold water for the second load because the clothes were really hot. So. Then you washed them the second time, and you rinsed them and hung them up.

 AV: Which clothes would you wash twice? Everything?

 MW: Everything. We washed everything.

 AV: So, after you boiled it, and rinsed it once, and then.…

 MW: No, you don’t rinse them. The first wash you don’t rinse. It’s the second wash, the second time you rinsed them, before you put them on the line.

 AV: You boiled them the first time, and then…

 MW: Yes, wash them again after you boiled them…

 AV: Washed them again in cold water…

 MW: Well, it would be warm from the clothes, you know, it would get pretty warm.

 AV: Then you’d throw them back in the boiler.…

 MW: No, no, that was after you took them out, the second time, then you’d wash them. Then you’d throw them in the rinse water, and then put them out.

 AV: By washing, you mean scrubbing on a board.

 MW: Yes, yes, yes.

 AV: So, first, you’d boil them, then you’d take them out and scrub them on the board.

 MW: Yeah…

 AV: Then you’d boil them again?

 MW: No, you scrubbed them first on the board, then you put them to boil, then you scrubbed them the second time, then you put them in the rinsing water, and out on the line.

 AV: That must have taken a while.


A. Varesano interviewing Mary Washko -7- 7/19/72 Tape 23-1

 MW: Well, that’s why I said you were washing clothes all day.

 AV: Did you really finish at three o’clock in the afternoon?

 MW: A lot of times, if you had carpets yet, like rag carpets, well, you had to put them on a bench and scrub them with a scrub brush.

 AV: Well, whose duty was it to wash the clothes?

 MW: The mother.

 AV: Didn’t the girls help out at all, the young girls?

 MW: Well, when they got to a point where they were, say, maybe fourteen, fifteen, sixteen, you know. Well, like me, I had to scrub.

 AV: Yeah.

 MW: But now, like.…

 AV: You’d use a scrub board on it.…

 MW: Yeah, but, you take like my children already, they were lucky enough because I had, you know, a washer, so they didn’t have to do it. And then, you’d iron with stove irons, heat your irons on the stove, and iron.

 AV: On the top, or directly on the coals?

 MW: Directly on the front, there, where the heat is the highest. You had a set of irons, and you’d heat them.

 AV: How many to a set?

 MW: Three. And you’d take and put your handle on there, and then you’d iron so much, and when that iron would get cool you’d put it there and you’d take the next one. But you’d always watch what one, where you put it, you know, so it wouldn’t get too hot.

 AV: How could you tell if the iron was hot enough to use?

 MW: Oh, you tried it, on the side! Ha ha! You’d , or you’d burn it! I had a set. My daughter took them. I still have one in there, for a door stopper.

 AV: Did you use to sprinkle your clothes with water, to make it iron better?

 MW: Yes.

 AV: Did you just use a handful of water on it?

 MW: No, it was a regular cork you got, with a round top on. You could buy them, in them days. And you’d put in on there, and then you’d just– when you didn’t have that, you would just take a little, like a vegetable brush, I used to take. I used to kip that brush, and (she apparently gestures) with the clothes.

 AV: Sort of throw it over?

 MW: Yes.

 AV: Shake it over the clothes.…

 MW: Yes, and it got more evener. Because with the hand you’d get a little bit too wet.

 AV: What clothes would you treat with water like that?

 MW: Everything to iron. Towels, no or underclothes, you’d stretch, you know, press them up a little bit, but the real good things, you know, like dresses, slips, aprons, blouses, shirts, well all that you’d have to…

 AV: Who taught you to do that?

 MW: My mother.

 AV: Sprinkling and ironing?

 MW: Yes. We’d watch what she done, and we done that. Yes.

 AV: What about cleaning the house? When did you clean the house?


A.Varesano interviewing Mary Washko -8- 7/19/72 Tape 23-1

 MW: Oh, you’d clean the house–you practically had to sweep it every day. But when it would come to Friday or Saturday, that’s when you done the pretty good cleanin’. You’d get down on your knees and scrub your floors, and give it a pretty good cleanin’, so it would be, what they’d say, for the weekend. Because Saturday was another day, if you had to do bakin’, you couldn’t bake and you couldn’t scrub. It was too much work. And Saturday was always the day you’d make maybe a pie or two and a cake, and I baked bread.

 AV: You said bread was a long affair to go through. What was it like?

 MW: Well, you’d make your sponge in the night…

 AV: The what?

 MW: The sponge what they’d call it, with the yeast. You’d put some flour in there, and I’d put some sugar, dissolve your yeast, you could put an egg or two in, all depends what, some people make it different ways. And then you’d get water, or you could boil a potato, and mash it right in the potato water, that helped it raise, and you’d put that in, well, you’d figure out just about how much this-here flour you’d need, because when you make bread so often, you don’t measure nothin’ no more. And you’d make that like a sponge pretty thick.…

 AV: When would you make that?

 MW: Before you went to bed.

 AV: What time was that?

 MW: Oh, ten, eleven, twelve. Then you’d get up early in the morning, and sponge would raise, you know, maybe double, or even more. Then you’d get your flour again, and you’d get your salt.…

 AV: How much yeast did you put in the sponge?

 MW: Well, when I bought the yeast, I’d put one yeast cade, the smaller. Of course now they have larger ones, so it’s only a half. But in my days, I made my yeast, I’d put a cup in. And then you’d put that yeast in there, well then that would help it raise. But then in the morning you’d put your sugar, your salt, your water, and the rest of your flour, and you’d have to stick with that for about an hour.

 AV: Knead it for an hour?

 MW: For about an hour. If you wanted to make about eight loaves, yes, so it would, ah–then you’d put a little bit of butter, or lard, or whatever you had. And you had to knead it, boy, til it was nice and smooth, and your hands got clean. My mother would always say, You’re not done, dough’s stickin’ to your hands! And you know, when you got done with that, that dough was sittin’ there, it would feel like velvet. You’d get it done. Then you put it on the side to raise, raise about double, you’d punch it down, leave it raise again, then you’d get your pans ready, and you’d pan it, you know, into loaves. Then it had to raise again. When it got to a certain height, then you baked it. So, it was a long process.

 AV: When the bread came out of the oven, did you treat it with anything?

 MW: Not all the time. Sometimes you could put a little butter on, sometimes before I took mine out, I would just take cold water and sort of wash it off and leave it in there again, it would give it a shiny look. That’s all. If you wanted, you could put a little butter on.

 AV: I watched Mrs. Timko bake breas, and she made the sign of the cross three times during the process. Did you use that?

 MW: (She chuckles) Yeah, well, we’re so used to that, I do that myself. It’s just feel that if you do it, you think your bread’s gonna come out good. It’s like a belief you have, you know. But you’re so used to doin’ that, that it just comes automatically already.

 AV: When do you do it in the process?


A.Varesano interviewing Mary Washko -9- 7/19/72 Tape 23-1

 MW: Well, sometimes when you got done stiffening it, you put it there, or when you’re stickin’ it in the oven. You’d just do it.

 AV: What did you do?

 MW: Just make the sign of the cross and close the ovens.

 AV: And did you say the words, too?

 MW: Yeah, if you want to, you’d say, you know, the sign of the cross–Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

 AV: And did you make the sign of the cross on the back of a loaf before you cut it?

 MW: Yeah. When you’d start a new loaf.

 AV: How did you do it?

 MW: Well, with a knife. I’d just make a cross, with the knife, before I cut it.

 AV: Did you say the words then, too?

 MW: Well, you do and you don’t . If nobody’s around, you say them. If you have company and you’re talking, you just make the this-here, because everybody, you know, is around.

 AV: If the family is around, would you say it?

 MW: Yeah, if nobody is talking to you, you know what I mean, if you’re this– here, you say it. Yes.

 AV: Do you think it helped?

 MW: Well…

 AV: I mean, it’s a good custom?

 MW: It’s a good custom, it just feels that you believe in the Lord more, and you think, well, you’re askin’ him for help or something. That’s how I only take it. But, like I said, when you’re so used to it, I found out, and my bread come pretty nice all the time.

 AV: That’s what Mrs. Timko was saying, that her mother actually believed that this helped the thing coming out right, whether you make the right decisions you know, catch it in time or not, but, did you hear that, too?

 MW: Yeah. I made bread last year for a picnic, my daughter had, around Philly, and I had the regular loaf pans, you know, and I tried to make them about even–you know they were sellin’ that bread for two dollars a loaf, and my daughter said it took ten minutes and the ten loaves were gone? And one time I made nut bread, and poppa seed bread, and they wre sellin’ three-inch slices, and the slices where only about that big, because I don’t like to make the big this-heres, I make them narrow–they were sellin’ fifteen cents a slice, and she said they were sellin’ them like mad. So! In the big cities they don’t get too much of that. Then when you get it, why, you have no problem to get rid of it.

 AV: Yes. I know when I cut Helen’s load, she had me do that, the sign of the cross, on the back, with a knife. That’s a pretty common custom.

 MW: Yeah, it seems that, I don’t know if everybody does it, but like, you know, everybody is raised in these little towns here, it seems that they all know the idea of doin’ that.

 AV: Was that Slavic custom?

 MW: I really wouldn’t know, because whether you are Slavish or Polish, or what they say Byzantine Rite, or something, well it just seems that everybody does it, you know, if you go from house to house, you see it done.

 AV: Annie was telling me one story about how in Europe, well, it’s a story, like, a lady didn’t make a sign of the cross, and her bread didn’t rise.…

 MW: Ha! Ha! Well, they come up with them stories, but, like, there’s a lot, you can’t say it’s true because you weren’t there, you know? And people that come from there, they come and say them things, and if you believe it, you believe it.…


A.Varesano interviewing Mary Washko -10- 7/19/72 Tape 23-1

 MW: Did you ever hear any of them?

 MW: Yeah.

 AV: Do you remember one?

 MW: Ah, my daddy always said that he worked with a guy–now, whether it’s true or no, he said it was true–that guy, see they’d be so much men boardin’ in a house, maybe, say, ten, fifteen boarders, you know, in a house. And thhis one man got up this morning, and he said he is not goin’ to work. He said Why? He said, I dreamt that I got killed. And he wouldn’t go to work. And they, you know, made a joke out of it, they said it’s his imagination. No, I’m not goin’ to work, he said. And he didn’t go. But them days they had no cupboards, and the lady where they boarded, she had a big, like, shelf made behind the stove on the wall, like a big plank. It was a shelf. She put different things on it. And she had these irons on there, you know, like to iron clothes. And she had them on that shelf–oh, they are heavy irons, you know. And this man didn’t go to work. And somehow he was standing under there and what happened, did he bump the shelf, or what, and one of these irons fell on his head, and don’t you think the man got killed, at home? So he didn’t go to work, because he didn’t want to get killed, but he dreamt he got killed, and he got killed at home. Well, my daddy said that that was true. Whether it was or not, that’s long ago.

 AV: Do you remember any other things they used to say like that?

 MW: Oh, gee. I said, if my husband was livin’, boy you would get that tape.

 AV: That would be really interesting.

 MW: Yeah, because he went through so much. He really would have a lot of information.

 AV: You said you made the yeast for the bread. How did you do that?

 MW: Well, you had to raise hops. I raised hops here. And you take them hops–you’d take a couple potatoes, you’d peel them and you had to grate them. And then you would take, now wait, I see if I remember, because it’s so long ago–you’d have water boilin’ on the stove in a pot, say about four quarts. And then these hops you’d have, you put them in that boiling water. Then you’d leave it boil, til the water got colored, say maybe like the color of a tea. Then you’d strain that, you’d just get the pure wather. Then you’d have that, them potatoes grated in a pan, and them you would take and put sugar, just a little bit of salt, and, well, a good bit of sugar, you know, because sugar helps it this-here ferment, too. And then, when this water would get cooled off a little bit, luke warm, you would stir it in these potatoes. And, you know, you’d stir that together, and when that would be cool, then you would save some of the yeast from the last one, about half a cup, and then you would put it in there. And that thing would take two to three days to like ferment right, like yeast. And you’d throw, sometimes, you could have put caraway seed in there, too.

 AV: What does that do?

 MW: Well, it gives it a nice smell. And when you’d see it was done already, well, when you make it, you know when it’s done, then you’d take and put it in gallon, and store it away. And you would have enough.…it was real thick, you know, because of the potatoes and all. And then you had enough for two or three months.

 AV: So you’d start it with…

 MW: Potatoes.

 AV: I mean, half a cup of old yeast you’d start it with.

 MW: Yes, you had to have yeast in there for it to ferment again, you know.

 AV: How many potatotes did you use?

 MW: Well, maybe three, four, maybe medium sized or so.


A. Varesano interviewing Mary Washko -11- 7/19/72 Tape 23

 AV: How many hops?

 MW: Well, hops. I really don’t know how I measured them. Maybe about two cups of hops, because that’s really light. You would have to boil that. That I know I used to boil, and sometimes I had a real thin cloth, and I’d strain it through the cloth so I wouldn’t get none of the hops in, you know.

 AV: And how much water did you boil with the hops?

 MW: Well, like I said, if you wanted to make about a gallon or two, well, maybe you’d have from four to six quarts of water. And then you’d have them potatoes, well then, between the potatoes and that you’d usually have about two gallon of yeast.

 AV: Where did you store that?

 MW: In the cellar. Where it’s cool. You had to have a cool place for it. And a lot of times, people were short, they didn’t have their own, they’d come around, you’d sell a cup for a nickel!

 AV: Oh! You wouldn’t give that away?

 MW: Oh, well, look at the work you put in, and the ingredients! Sometimes they’d say lend me a cup of yeast, til I make my own. So that’s how it was. And sometimes they didn’t want to make it, so they’d come and they’d but it, for a nickel!

 AV: What about the sewing and mending around the house? Who did that?

 MW: Well, usually the mother.

 AV: The girls would not do that all the time.

 MW: Well, when you were smaller, no. When they got bigger, they could do it. But, you had enough sewing and you had enough mending, believe it. And when the miners come from the mines, and you’d wash their dirty clothes, and just about every week they were ripped and tore, and that’s what you were doin’, is patchin’ clothes every week. Because how fast they were tearin’ them, you really couldn’t afford buyin’ them.

 AV: You said that the girls learned from the mother if they felt like it. Wasn’t it compulsory?

 MW: Well, not exactly, because like I said, you learned, you saw it, you know, sometimes it stuck with you that you didn’t have to do much and you’d learn. But some of them wre interested and they learned a lot. So, that’s it.

 AV: And the wife in the home did all these chores, but what about, say, an unmarried daughter who was a little older, like maybe a thirty year old spinster, if there were any of these around her, what did she do?

 MW: Well, she done about the chores of a mother. Yes, they figured she was old enough and she had a lot of responsibilities.

 AV: Did you know of any in Eckley?

 MW: Well, I wouldn’t know of Eckley, because when I come here, I didn’t know that many people. You know, I just has to get acquainted.

 AV: Were there very many, that you heard of? Unmarried daughters, who were older?

 MW: Well, there were some. Not too many. Them days, it just seemed that if you didn’t have a boyfriend, somebody would find you boyfriends! So you got one either way. Oh and them big weddins. If you could afford it, boy, they started on Wednesday or Thursday, and the weddin was Saturday, and it would keep goin’ til way into the next week!

 AV: How did they do that?

 MW: Oh, God, them old time weddins, they were something. They’d practice–they’d be cookin’ Thursday and Friday, and–yeah, because you couldn’t get catering then– and the bridesmaids would be gettin’ together and Friday’s they’d be practising and maybe singing songs, because in them days songs


A. Varesano interviewing Mary Washko -12- 7/19/72 Tape 23-1 were important at weddings.

 AV: What kind of songs?

 MW: Russian songs. And they’d have so many of them songs, and, then Saturday at the wedding, boy, that was big. God, them women would get the table set and they’d be waitin’ for the party to come from church. Well, the–I was a bridesmaid so many times–and when they went they’d have eight, ten, twelve bridesmaids.…

 AV: That’s a lot!

 MW: Sure.

 AV: How did they choose the bridesmaids?

 MW: Well, your friends! How many friends you had, if you’d want them you’d call them all. And then, who could afford what, those days you didn’t dress to please the bride. You just dressed the besst you could afford. You know, everybody had a different dress and all that, you know.

 AV: Did they wear the same color?

 MW: Well, they usually wore white.

 AV: The bridesmaids.

 MW: Yeah. And ah, they’d take the bride and this-here, bridesmaids, and they’d go in a car, and the rest of them, they’d have a bus, we’d get in a bus! Sing all the way to church!

 AV: Did you rent the bus?

 MW: Well, yeah, oh, yeah. You hadda rent the bus. Then you’d come home, they’d serve this dinner, and they had superstitions at the door–and give the bride bread, so she would never be hungry. And they’d give them a drink from the same glass,, so they’d stick together and wouldn’t part. Then they’d get a towel and bind them together so they wouldn’t–it was all them older Europeanspeople that had the.…

 AV: They got a towel and.…

 MW: And they’d just put it around their waist and squeeze them, that they’re one. And a loaf of bread so they wouldn’t be hungry, and they’d give them a drink from the same glass, that they’re like one, and they’d lead them in.

 AV: Did they crush their glass?

 MW: No, not in our weddings they didn’t. Polish weddings used to do that. Then you’d eat, and when you got done eatin’, so help me they nearly broke the floor, they’d sing and dance. That was something!

 AV: You said they started this thing on Wednesday.

 MW: Sometimes on Wednesday.

 AV: What did they do on Wednesday? What was done?

 MW: Well, they’d be out gettin’ all the food ready, killin’ all the chickens, and gettin’ all the meat ready. Then of course the bridesmaids would get together and they’d have to figure out who’s who for a partner, and, ah.…

 AV: Did the bridesmaids have boy partners?

 MW: Yes. How many bridesmaids there wer, how many this-here partners they had. Oh, God, in them days, when you met somebody at a weddin’, after you see, allthe time from a weddin’ somebody else was gettin’ married, where they’d meet at these weddings!

 AV: And like on Wednesdays, who would do the killing?

 MW: The women, you’d hire so many women and ask them for their help. Then on Thursday and Friday it was always bakin’ and makin’ filled cabbage, fryin’ chickens, and all kind of mean, whatever, you know, they had.

 AV: Who would do all the baking and cooking?

 MW: The women.

 AV: These would be like women that you’d hire?

 MW: Hire, yeah.


A. Varesano interviewing Mary Washko -13- 7/19/72 Tape 23-1

 AV: It wouldn’t be neighbors or relatives…

 MW: Neighbors, yeah. Just some, you’d ask them for their help. ‘Course nobody never charged. It was just a friendly helping hand.

 AV: You didn’t really hire them for money.

 MW: No, just ask them, you know, if they’d help. Sure, they are willing. So, ah, that was it. And Friday night we’d all get together already, and what time to be there, and everybody is fixing their hair, and ah.…

 AV: Well, the bride, what did she do all this time? Did she help with the preparations, baking?

 MW: No, no, they wouldn’t. She was free, that was, that was, she got advantaged by, the bride didn’t do nothin’.

 AV: Was that a custom?

 MW: Well, more or less, because the women did that thing. They figured, well, they are young, they don’t, ah, wouldn’t make it that good, I guess, for some reason, but, ah, the bridesmaids or, this-here, didn’t help out with that.

 AV: Did they start drinking on Wednesday, or not?

 MW: Well, not all the time. It all depends when the men come. Then, if you had the orchestra, oh God, they started, somebody would come around on Friday night, they’d be drinkin’ stuff, you know, some already, everybody come in–Give him a drink, Give him a drink! So, ha ha!

 AV: When did the orchestra come?

 MW: Saturday morning, early.

 AV: What did they do then?

 MW: They’d play before you’d go to church yet!

 AV: Oh yeah? For the bride?

 MW: Yeah. And they were goin’ out, they’d even go out and play on the street!

 AV: What kind of songs did they play?

 MW: Oh, wedding songs.

 AV: I mean, romantic, love songs?

 MW: Yeah, yeah, yeah. When my daughters got married, I had the orchestra here.

 AV: And, well, what kind of people were these orchestra people?

 MW: Well, anybody, if there was like two or three in a group that knew the songs and regardless what they were, they’d get them. If they were, you know, Polish, or, there was a guy in Freeland, he was a gypsy boy, he had about five of them. Boy, I remember that guy, he just played and played, oh God, I was a little kid and I remember him at weddin’s. And I still had him for one of my girls!

 AV: What did he play?

 MW: Well, like, like they’d say Here Comes the Bride, but that was our kind of this-heres, you know? Then they’d sing a song, it was a nice song. They sang Only One goes to Church, Two Come. I wouldn’t know how to explain it, you know. Like, you’re goin’ to church, you’re single, you’re one. When you’re comin’ back, you’re married, you’re two. That was a really nice song. So, ah.…

 AV: Do you remember it?

 MW: Not too well, already. I’d have to have somebody to help me out. And who, who would around here, already? Oh, my husband knew a lot of songs. Um-hm. They used to call him purposely to weddings to sing lot of times.

 AV: Did he have a good voice?

 MW: Yeah. He played the violin when he was young, too.

 AV: Did he play at weddings?

 MW: No, he only played to amuse himself. And he was good on the mouth organ. He still had one there.


A. Varesano interviewing Mary Washko -14- 7/19/72 Tape 23-1

 AV: What kind of songs did he sing for weddings?

 MW: Oh, he had about fifty of them! Yeah, you couldn’t compete with him. He knew just about any kind. And he wasn’t hard in memorizing them, either. He picked it up quick.

 AV: So, these gypsy orchestras that came around, what did they play in the line of instruments?

 MW: They had a big bass, and they had a violin–you know what I mean by the big bass–and then they had a violin, and they had a–was it a coronet or a this-here–I don’t know, but they usually were four or five of them in a bunch.

 AV: And what was the reason for coming early in the morning to play for the bride?

 MW: Well, that was like a custom, I guess, across some of the mothers brought it, and when they came here they still kept it. And it just, like they played for the bride, to go off. And then when they were comin’ back already, the orchestra would go on the road and meet them and play for them out there!

 AV: That’s good! And the orchestra would play until the whole festivities were over? So that could be pretty late!

 MW: Oh, that would go ono sometimes til twelve or one o’clock, sometimes even all night. There was no honeymoons then, so they just stayed and played, and enjoyed themselves!

 AV: Who chose the bridegroom, ah (bridegrooms!), the partners of the bridesmaids?

 MW: Well, I don’t know, when I was a lot of times, I thinks lots we talked it over, and I think they would kind of figure on, well, who do you want to go with, or you know. Sometimes you got your choice, and sometimes you didn’t.

 AV: I thought maybe the husband chose the ushers.

 MW: Well, he would pick his friends, but then when it come, say maybe there was eight of them. Well, they’d invite eight and eight girls. Well, then, you know, you had to pair them. Well, like I said, sometimes you got your choice and sometimes you went with somebody you didn’t really, you know, care to, but you hadda be there, it was just a, just an affair, you figured. Little affair and you done a favor.

 AV: Did you all have these special white gowns to wear at the weddings?

 MW: We just got a dress. Of course them dresses, they were all pretty long, so they all looked pretty. No, everybody got their own, this-here, dress. Just like regardless how it was made.

 AV: And when the bride party came back from the church on Saturday, the first thing they did, after those customs, was eat, right?

 MW: Yeah.

 AV: What kind of eats did they have, was that considered a lunch?

 MW: No, it was a big, big meal. They’d have like filled cabbage, chicken, ham, veal cutlets, and well, you’d usually have meatballs, that somebody made, or this-here ah, hamburgers, usually you’d run into about five kind of meats. Then you’d have potatoes, vegetables, cake, pie.…

 AV: Mmm! What time did all this eating begin?

 MW: Well, right around dinnertime.

 AV: One o’clock?

 MW: Yeah. Sometimes, you’d be in church nine o’clock, sometimes ten, it all depended, you know, how the arrangements were made. Well, then, they’d get around–then, from church they used to go and have their pictures taken, at the studio, and then you’d come, by the time you’d come back, well sometimes you’d kill another hour, so sometimes it would be one o’click, two o’clock, it all depends.

 AV: Where did the people in Eckley have their pictures taken after the services?

 MW: Oh, they had a studio in Freeland. And then in Hazleton.

 AV: Which did they go to more often?


A. Varesano interviewing Mary Washko -15- 7/19/72 Tape 23-1

 MW: Well, way back it was only in Freeland, because it was close. You didn’t have all the, you know, this-here transportation, like now.

 AV: Did they walk, or take a bus?

 MW: No, they, ah, well the younger generation already had, ah, like I said, they had a bus, or all cars, but you take, like John’s mother always told me when she got married she walked from here–there was a town, Foundryville, that’s about a, almost two miles–she had to walk, and got on a train and went to Hazleton and got married and come back that way, because there was no transportation. So. And then, years ago, they were married, there was a lot of weddings up here.

 AV: Even the Slavic got married here in Ecklet?

 MW: The what?

 AV: The Slavic?

 MW: Oh, yeah, yeah. Some were married here. There was two churches here. But in this church I know there was a good bit of weddings, like they say–John’s mother used to tell me that there was weddings here.

 AV: Hmm. Um, didn’t the bride couple get any presents?

 MW: Yeah, but very little.

 AV: What kind?

 MW: Sometimes, you’d get a tablecloth, or bedsheet, pillowcases, or maybe about four plates. You couldn’t afford, you know, big things.

 AV: Would this be one from each.…

 MW: Yeah, if somebody come in and brought you a present, some would bring you towels, some would bring you pillowcases, or maybe a sheet or two, somebody would bring you a tablecloth, maybe somebody an alarm clock–just little gifts. Well, how the time was, that’s the kind of present you got.

 AV: Hmm. When did they start dancing?

 MW: Right after everybody got their meals, because, see, you had to set the table thrree and four times because it wasn’t in a hall, it was in a house.

 AV: Three and four times you had to set?

 MW: Yeah, only so much could sit at one time. When they got done eatin’, then you’d clear up and another bunch would sit down.

 AV: The bride and groom stayed there all the time, though?

 MW: No, no. See, when the, ususally they tried to have the bride and groom and all the party, the wedding party, eat first. Then when they would get done, then they’d get up, then they’d set the table and then the other people that were invited–if they made three, four settings, then they were done. So then they’d take the table and chairs and everything out of there, then they’d dance.

 AV: Well, meanwhile the other sets of people were eating. What did the bride party do?

 MW: They’d be usually standin’ around talkin’ or, it is was a nice day you’d be outside.

 AV: And then they’d take out all the furniture, all the tables in that room, for dancing, right?

 MW: You had to clear up the house, because between the people and the furniture, you wouldn’t get in.

 AV: Did the orchestra play from a corner of the room?

 MW: Yeah. Try to get in the corner as close, not to interfere with the people!

 AV: How long did the dancing go on? Maybe it started at seven o’clock.…

 MW: Oh, it started about three in the afternoon, or they’d just take a break.…

 AV: Oh yeah?

 MW: Well, like I said, when everybody had their dinner, well then when they’d clearn up, they’d start, whether it was three o’clock, four o’clock, and they’d


A. Varesano interviewing Mary Washko -16- 7/19/72 Tape 23-1 keep goin’ til midnight. Just take a break now and then.

 AV: That’s great! Well, did they hae this custom of kind of farewell to the bride, or what did they do when they were just about to finish it?

 MW: Well, then they, everybody would dance with the bride. Everybody who wanted, everybody got a chance to dance with the bride. They’d kiss her, and that was like farewell to her!

 AV: Did they pay her?

 MW: Yeah, they used to give her money.

 AV: How much about?

 MW: Well, them days you got a quarter, fifty cents. Now it’s bills!

 AV: Yeah. Who used to hold the money for her?

 MW: The bridesmaid. She would go first, and the best man.

 AV: Oh, you mean the matron of honor.

 MW: Yeah. And then she would hold the veil, they’d be throwin’ money into the veil, and then the usher would–the one that served as best man– well, he would have the liquor. So the men would–the women would get a piece of wedding cake when they got done, and the men would get a shot of liquor or a cigar! Whatever they wanted.

 AV: Well, they did have a wedding cake?

 MW: Oh, yeah.

 AV: What kind was it?

 MW: Oh, them days everybody had it baked by a baker. They were nice.

 AV: Like the ones we have today?

 MW: Yeah, and the nice ornament on top.

 AV: Didn’t they pass out a piece of wedding cake to all the guests, like, even the men?

 MW: Well, they could have had it. Like I say, when you danced with the bride, the tray was filled up with cake. Everybody got a piece. But if the men didn’t want they didn’t take, that’s all. They took a cigar.

 AV: Well, I heard there was something about putting a cap on the bride. Do you know.…

 MW: Oh, well, then they’d take her veil off they’d put a cap or a shawl on her. That’s to notify she is married.

 AV: Who would do that?

 MW: Usually, the, the, they say, maid of honor.

 AV: And, what did you say, the maid of honor would hold the veil when they gave the money. That’s the bridal veil that she used?

 MW: Yeah, which they took off her head.

 AV: What’s this cap like, that the bride was wearing?

 MW: Well, I’ll tell you what. Everybody had a different thing. Somebody would just take and put a shawl and tie it. Somebody would just have a nice little round cap, you know. Whatever they wanted. Somebody would just take and put like a men’s handkerchief, you know, and pin it on.

 AV: Where do you think they got that from, that idea?

 MW: That idea, I guess, was brought from across.… They claim when you are married you shouldn’t enter church without something on your head.

 AV: Is that what they’d say?

 MW: Yeah, that’s whay they say.

 AV: And then when you’re young, you could.…

 MW: Well, when you’re single, yeah, you could go in, so. Well they still do that now. Only now they make it fancier. When they take the veil off, they usually put a ribbon, or, where you get your clothes they make you a little nice head-piece, you know, and they use that.

 AV: What would happen if a married lady went in church without her hat?


A. Varesano interviewing Mary Washko -17- 7/19/72 Tape 23-1

MW: Well, they do, they do nowadays.

 AV: But, before?

 MW: Oh, I don’t know. Well, nobody would say nothin’, but you never saw anybody in church, even the little girls, anybody, nobody went to chuch bareheaded. You know, like, ladies. Everybody had something on their head. Well now that’s finished.

 AV: But it’s interesting that you mention that the custom was that married ladies didn’t go to church without their heads covered.

 MW: They didn’t.

 AV: This was out of respect for church, or?

 MW: Well, I don’t know, they claimed htat you shouldn’t enter the house of God bareheaded, that’s, so.

 AV: So then when the bride was married and all that was finished, where did they go to live?

 MW: Well, if they had a place they went. If they didn’t, they either stayed with her parents or his parents.

 AV: Where would the wedding ceremony be held, the festivities?

 MW: In the bride’s home. Usually in the bride’s home.

 AV: Was it common for the bridal couple to stay with the bride’s parents?

 MW: Well, no, not exactly. You know, them days they figured this way. If there was too much in one house, they didn’t have the room, then they went to the next one, and that’s how they done it. Because years ago, a young couple didn’t go right housekeeping like they do now. Now they have everything ready before they even get married. So them days…And after the wedding, instead of goin’ for a honeymoon, you had to get down to your knees and scrub the dirty floors after all the activities!

 AV: Who would clean up the mess that they made?

 MW: Well, usually the family. Sometimes if the neighbors felt like comin’ they helped you. And if not, you just worked.

 AV: Was your wedding like this?

 MW: I didn’t have a real big wedding. No. Well, I don’t know, I didn’t – my sister had a real big on and I didn’t like it. I had enought, because in these homes you can’t get much people. But they danced, and I scrubbed the floors! Monday I scrubbed floors! Cleaned the dishes, scrubbed all them pots and pans from everything and…

 AV: Was your ceremony in this house?

 MW: No, no. In my home in Drifton.

 AV: And then you came to live here…

 MW: I come here, and I’m still here.

 AV: Yeah, yeah.

 MW: So.

 AV: Well, you just chose not to have a big wedding, because you didn’t like it?

 MW: No, no, well my daddy was sick and he didn’t, you know, he had a lot of idle time. It was rugged. It was only me and my brother that you talked to that we really helped out. It was, then he didn’t work for fourteen years before he died. So it was a little rugged on us.

 AV: Well, who would pay for the cost of these wedding festivities?

 MW: Well, it went like this: the bride’s parents usually paid for the food, and the groom’s parents usually paid for all the drinks.

 AV: Who would pay for the bride’s clothes?

 MW: Well, years ago, now I know like mine, the groom would give you the money, but now they don’t do that. Now you buy your own and pay for your own.

 AV: Was it that the groom bought the material and the bride made it?

 MW: No, no. You went and got it ready-made.


A. Varesano interviewing Mary Washko -18- 7/19/72 Tape 23-1

 AV: Yeah?

 MW: Yeah, you went to them shops. They had shops.

 AV: How much would it be?

 MW: Twenty, thirty, forty…

 AV: Such a difference! Such a difference!

 MW: Oh, yeah. Oh, it was not two hundred, like now. If you got on for thirty dollars, boy, that was nifty!

 AV: Did the bride have a wedding ring?

 MW: Yes. And the groom.

 AV: Gold?

 MW: Yeah–no, you didn’t really have to have a gold. Here is my first one, but I have another one.

 AV: Is that silver, or white gold?

 MW: That is gold, but look how it’s all, all work out already.

 AV: Who would pay for the rings?


Angelo Varesano -1 7/21/72 Mary Wasko

For the “Holy Supper” on Christmas Eve, a specialty food was bobalkis /bo-bal’-kees/. It was made from bread dough. Little balls, about the size of a walnut or smaller, were left rise for ten minutes and then baked about fifteen minutes, until nice and brown. They were scalded in boiling water till soft, drained, and fixed with honey and popaseed (poppy seeds, obtained by planting poppies). When hot, the honey is spilled over the balls shaken around. The seeds and ground walnuts are spilled over these. They can also be fixed with fresh sauerkraut in butter. The bobalkis are put in the sauerkraut and stirred up loose so none will be smashed. They can be fixed and eaten plain too. Other foods eaten at the Holy Supper include mushroom soup or mushroom gravy with barley, pirohis, and a thin bread called pagach /pa-goch/. This is round, rolled dough. Honey is used with it. It is cut and honey spread over it, or it is dipped in the honey pot.

In the preservation of meat, her mother “seasoned” or salted and sliced half a cow, which was bought from the butcher, and put in a little barrel. It was kept for family use and stored in the cellar. As long as you had this in the cellar, and sauerkraut and potatoes, you weren’t stuck.” You always had bread to eat. It was made from flour bought by 100 pound sacks. The cellar was used as a storage place since it was cold. Those were the staple foods for the winter. The family would never be hard-up for food if it had pickled meat, sauerkraut, and potatoes in the cellar and bread to eat.

Her family never kept boarders, but she heard of homes keeping them. They slept side by side on the flood on straw mattresses called a straw tick (thick). These were filled with straw and shaken outside in a while the women of the house, the wife or boarding lady. Even though the boarders slept all together with members of the family around, they had to behave or they would be told to get out. Unsatisfactory behavior could result in the boarders being thrown out of the house.

The family kept no written budget. It was not the custom to list expenditures. Parents didn’t know English to write it. They didn’t know how to write, much less how to keep a budget. “You bought what you needed with the money you had. Mother kept track of money,” she told me.


Angela Varesano 6/21/72 Mrs. John Washko

The Casagada /Kasagada/ boarding house was described by Mrs. Gyurko as made out of logs. She remembers that it was on a black coal dirt area behind Eckley on the north side. It had flowers around it; it was made like a long building.


Angela Varesano 3 7/18/72 Michael Popovich (Mary Washko’s brother)

When a large timber had to be trasported for use as a prop, the miners pounded an iron device called a “dog” into the end of the log toward the front of the log or the part pointing in the direction it was to be hauled. The dog was an object about fifteen inches long and eight inches high and had wedge-shaped, tampered claws. The log was lifted by having the two miners, the miner and his laborer, crouch down by the side of the log over the dog and gripping it was thier hands. They used their shoulders against each other and lifted. They dragged the prop forward. The timber would lift very easily this way.

Miner’s terms for explosives Dooley box dynamite box. Dooley powder dynamite powder in the stick.

[illustration of a dog as described above] [illustration of a dog inserted in a log]


Angela Varesano 7/21/72 Mary Washko

Kids had to pick potato bugs at the command of their mother, even if they didn’t feel like it. It was impossible to refuse to help with chores such as these. “We were afraid of our parents and did everything they told us to do.” There was no getting out of it. She had to help milk the cow starting at twelve or so. Also, she had to scrub clothes on a board on wash day, iron some clothes, pedole milk to customers, and pick leaves as bedding for cows in the stable. Even before age twelve, at eight or ten years old, she took and sold milk. “We had seven or six people we sold to, some in the morning and some at night. Cows were milked twice a day, morning and night and the milk sold immediately after.” She had a container can which held two quarts and with fitted lids. Some people bought a quart; some only a pint. She took a two-quart can to a person, emptied it, and returned it to her mother. She used to take two cans, sometimes four hanging them on their long handles. Two quarts sold for maybe 10 or so. If people wanted, they came for extra butter or buttermilk if there was any. The buttermilk was kept in crocks. These items were sold also if the family had some that they didn’t need.

Since her husband died earlier this year, she misses him very much. She continues to have periods of depression, especially late at night when no one is around. She reminisces about him often and says how, When my husband was alive, he used to…work in the garden and be so fussy about how it looked that if he was sitting on the lawn, and he’d notice leaves fallen from their apple tree, he wouldn’t sit there but clean them up. Although she can continue doing the necessary house and garden chores he used to do, such as gardening for food, cutting grass, and getting coal, she misses his company. Her brother Richard Poporic helps occasionally be visiting her and doing the necessary fixing around the house and the heavier garden-keeping work.


Angela Varesano 8/15/72 Mary Washko

She started to work at fourteen in a Freeland factory. When you were fourteen (The factory hired at this age.), and the parents needed help, you went to work. She worked for about ten years. At that time, in the 1920’s, as soon as you married you quit work and stayed home. Married women did not work. You had so many duties at home that you didn’t have time to work. Activities included picking coal, picking huckleberries, washing, ironing, and cooking. When her husband was sick, she had to go to work to bring in money. She kept her mother-in-law since she married and for twenty years after. Mary had to wash and comb her because she got weak. In these days you didn’t have funds to keep old people in nursing homes. People believed that aged parents shouldn’t be put away in homes. You had to care for your parents because of the duty felt to parents and -in-laws to care for them. This was done whether the wife liked them or not; in her case, she seemed not too happy with caring for her mother-in-law, but she did so anyway as part of her wifely duties. At 5:00 she got up, made breakfast, and filled the lunch pail for her husband. Breakfast was, maybe, coffee and bread or an egg. The lunch pail was filled with cold meat and bread or fried sausage or meat (This was done the day before.) and a piece of cake, if there was any, and water for the drinking can. After that the kids were getting up and she had to wash and dress them till they were about six years old, at which time they could do it themselves. Kids who went to school got up no later than 8:00. Younger ones were left to sleep until they woke up themselves. Her husband left at 6:00. She ate in between “on the snack”, when she got a break. She tried to grab something after the kids were done. If the children left anything, she ate it. Nothing was wasted. “They used to say that’s why the mothers were so fat, because mothers got to eat all the leftovers.” After the kids ate breakfast and she cleaned up the dishes, she either washed clothes or sewed. All clothing for the kids were homemade not store bought; so there was a lot of sewing to do. At about 11:30 she started preparing lunch for the kids. This could be scrambled eggs, leftovers from supper, soup, gravy with bread, or dumplings. She waited for the kids to finish then she ate. In the afternoon she cleaned the dishes. If she were baking, she’d start in the morning about six or seven o’clock and finish baking in the afternoon. She baked sometimes twice a week, once usually on Saturday.


Angela Varesano 8/15/72 Mary Washko

Around 3:00 or so she started making supper. Her husband would be home at 3:00. She had to prepare heater water for him to wash; when he was washed, she had to scrub his back. He washed in the kitchen or the summer kitchen, wherever it was warmer. The kids came home at the same time, and they came in hungry. “Mom, I’m hungry!” they’d say. Supper might be beef soup and noodles, hamburger, pork or beef, served with potatoes or chow-chow that she made herself, red beets, or pepper hash. Fridays she cooked holuskis and pirohis. They never ate meat on Friday. This was considered a big sin. She made meatballs and spaghetti and didn’t serve anything with that. Cake and pie was made every week. Dessert was not eaten with each meal because they only had it when it was there. She kept crackers or cookies for the children to snack on when they came home from school. Kids also had chores to do when they came home. She sent them to pick coal and to pick berries in the summer. Picking coal had to be done before the cold weather. They helped out in the garden, helped trim the grass and carry of weeds. They didn’t do much because you had to know what you were doing. Mary and her husband had to cultivate the garden mostly themselves. In the fall all she did was can. Mary liked to do this herself. She put up pickles, hot mix, mangoes, chilli sauce, catsup, pepper hash, jellies, red beets. Sometimes she’d fill four hundred jars. She started at the beginning of August and didn’t stop till the end of August; tomatoes at the end of August; red beets when they matured; pickles early, usually the first of August; chow-chow and chilli late, when she had everything; hot mix anytime, made with hot peppers, green tomatoes, cauliflower, and mangoes. Some days she’d can when she had time during the day, beside, her regular chores, and continue after supper. Usually then, she’d wash a lot of jars for the next day. Supper was between four and five o’clock. After supper, if it was rainy, she’d sew. If it was a nice day, she’d work outside in the garden. In summer she’d pick berries. After that it was time to wash up the kids and have them all in bed by 9:00. They were usually tired, she she had no problems getting them to bed. When they went to school, she’d spend two to three hours after supper helping the kids with homework. After the kids went to bed, she wouldn’t do too much, maybe fix (sew something. Maybe she’d take a half hour to relax. At that time there weren’t even newspapers to look at. Her mother-in-law was so strick that she’d say, “Get your work done first.” She thought that papers were for people who had nothing to do.


Angela Varesano 8/15/72 Mary Washko

After her husband came home from work, he’d be cracking coal, working in the garden, fixing fences. In winter he’d shovel snow and take ashes out of the stove. He’d get up at four or five o’clock in the morning and have the paths shoveled. He used to stoke the fire. When he was done, he’d go to bed. This was about 8:30 or 9:00 PM. He’d play with the kids and take them out for about an hour after supper or on idle days. on idle days men picked coal, sometimes taking the kids. They picked berries to sell and mushrooms to eat. These the wife dried and made into soup.

Nothing went to waste. She canned everything from the garden. Fruits preserved were applesauce, peach preserves, grape jelly, balckberry jelly, and huckleberry jam. She’d put up pears, too.

Mushrooms were picked by her husband. Usually these were white toppers and red toppers. She washed them and cut them up in pieces. They were boiled for fifteen to twenty minutes. They were then strained and washed good and chopped or put through a meat grinder. ____Fry chopped onion in butter, add mushrooms, and fry. Add salt and pepper. Beat up two or three eggs and add them to the mushrooms. Mix around in the pan to cook. This is served with bread and coffee for lunch or supper, when there was no work and they were not too hungry.

Bean soup: Get ‘soup bean’ (marrow beans.) Wash and cook them an hour or more with water filling half of a six-quart pot with about one pound of beans. When they are done, tasting to check, add zaprashka. Zaprashka is made by melting butter. Add flour to form a thick paste. Brown. Add a glass of water. Cook until there are no lumps. Add salt and pepper and some spice like celery or parsley. Add this to the soup. She used to add about two tablespoons of vinegar to give it a sour taste.

For Monday supper, if there was any leftovers from Sunday, they were eaten. On Sunday she usually made enough for another meal and ate the same food for supper as was eaten at the main noonday meal. She made a big meal at noon. This could be beef soup and noodles, stuffed cabbage, or chicken, stewed or stuffed and roasted. She kept chickens and killed them herself. They were killed in the yard, way up the back. She sliced the wind pipe with a sharp knife. Years ago people killed their own pigs and cows. The neighbors used to help kill your cows and pigs. Cows were slaughtered by tying them and hitting them between the horns with a sledge hammer.


Angela Varesano 8/15/72 Mary Washko

[illustration of life-sized letchka]

Crack egg into a mound of flour. Add water to form dough. Knead till it doesn’t stick to your hands and is smooth and silky. Roll it out thin. Let it dry for two hours. When it is dry, cut it up into tiny squares. Boil water which has been salted. Cook for five or six minutes. Drain and wash in cold water so they don’t stick. Fill the dish with bean soup. Add these to make it thick.


Angela Varesano 8/15/72 Mary Washko

[illustration of interior decoration of Eckley Catholic Church]


Angela Varesano 8/15/72 Mary Washko

For Sunday supper they ate leftovers from dinner, if hungry. It wasn’t a big meal. If not hungry, they took cake or pie. On Tuesday and Thursday they ate pork and sauerkraut with mashed potatoes. If on Monday she washed clothes and didn’t have too much time, she fried sausage and served this with mashed potatoes. Kilbasa and stewed sauerkraut was another meal served with mashed potateos. Potatoes were served with meat always. New potatoes were boiled whole, with or without jackets. These were from the garden. The skin was pulled off if they weren’t young and tender. Browned butter and onions with a bit of dill cut up and sprinkled over the potatoes. The butter and onions were poured over it.

Sliced potatoes: Slice, wash, and drain. Dry on a paper towel. Fry in sliced onions and oil or butter till done, tasting crisp when done. You could slice three carrots in round slices and cook them along with the potatoes. The amount of oil used was enough to cover the bottom of the frying pan. They were turned to cook both sides. Whenthey were about three-fourths done, she’d slice mangoes in long slices and cook them with potatoes. Salt and pepper to taste. This was served on a platter with bread if you wished, especially for the men (husband).

With beef roasts she put in chunks of potatoes and carrots. A big roast was usually for a Sunday meal. Veal cutlets were also made. The roast was prepared by putting washed beef that had been slashed on the surface and haed fresh garlic pieces in the slashen. This was put in a pan. Salt and pepper both sides. Add cut-up onions. Put a good bit of water, about two inches, in and let it simmer. Test the meat. If the water boils out, add more till the meat was done. This takes two hours or so. After it cooked an hour, she’d let the water biol out and brown it. Then when the ater boils out, she adds two eight-ounce glasses of water plus potatoes and carrots. Cook an hour or so. Add water enough to cover the potatoes. There is enough juice to make gravy. Add salt and pepper to season the vegetables. Gravy was made by putting two heeping tablespooins of flour or cornstarch in a cup and adding some water, enough to make a thin paste. Flour varied according to desired about of gravy. For a large group you ended up adding maybe half of a cup. Before it was ready to be served, the vegetables were removed and put on a plate. Add flour to the beef and stir to thicken in the juice.


Angela Varesano 8/17/72 –6– / 11

Mary Washko

This recipe was made up by Mary using her own judgement as to the amount of ingredients.


Beat four eggs with a little salt. Add enough flour to form a stiff batter, not a dough. Have water boiling in a pot. Take some stiff butter in a spoon and spread it on a chopping board, spreading with a spoon. Hold board over a pot and break off with a tablespoon pieces of batter into the boiling water. Cook for five minutes. Raise heat while they are boiling. Drain in colander. Serve with sweet cabbage or caraway seed soup.

Sweet cabbage:

Chop cabbage, salt, and squeeze the water out. Fry it in melted butter that has been browned with chopped onion. Fry until it gets soft and brown.

Caraway seed soup:

Put two quarts of water in a pan. Add caraway seeds, about two tablespoons. Boil till water gets brown from seeds. Drain water into another pan, leaving one tablespoon in the soup. Salt that and pepper to taste adding parsley and a bit of celery. Make zaprashka. Add to water and cool five minutes.

Banana fritters:

Sift together one cup of flour and two teaspoons of baking powder. Add one tablespoon of sugar, a half teaspoon of salt, one egg well-beaten, a half cup of sweet milk. Mix and add three ripe bananas, mashed fine and a teaspoon of lemon. Mix all together, and it will be a thick batter.

Drop tablespoons into deep, hot fat. Fry golden brown on both sides. Drain and serve with syrup or sauce or just plain. This can also be made with creamed corn, using a pint can. She used to make them when the children were small; she made up the recipe.

Sausage with tomato sauce:

Fry your sausage till done and brown on both sides. Take a pint of tomatoes and beat well. Drain the grease from the sausage and put the tomatoes in with the sausage adding about a half glass of water. Let boil till tomatoes are boiled apart and then season with salt and pepper.

When done, thicken the tomatoes with one tablespoon of cornstarch dissolved in a little cold water. Stir while it boils for about five minutes. This gravy is good with bread or poured over mashed potatoes. Fresh (“mangoes”) (peppers) can also be added. This she made up herself. It stretched the food since the gravy was eaten with bread and mashed potatoes.


Angela Varesano –7– / 12


Mary Washko

Ceregi (cher-e’-gi)

Make the dough by taking about one cup of flour in a bowl. Add sugar of about half a cup, dash of salt, about a cup of milk, a teaspoon of baking powder, and one beaten egg. Work it together with hands, adding flour if necessary. When it forms a dough in the bowl, put it on a floured board and knead it until it gets smooth. Roll it out a fourth inch thick. Cut in two inch strips, six inches long. Twist the strip about three times and form into a loose knot.

Fry in deep fat in a saucepan four inches deep in two inches of oil, till golden brown. Save the remainder of oil for the next time. When done, sprinkle with powdered sugar while still warm. This was made, especially, when the kids were small so they could have something to eat when they wanted.

Sweet cabbage and noodles:

Chop a head of cabbage fine, salt, and let stand a few minutes. Brown butter and a large onion; then squeeze the cabbage and put it in the butter to fry. Fry the cabbage about an hour for the cabbage to get soft and brown.

Make homemade noodles. Boil them, and then mix together with the sweet cabbage. Salt to your own taste. This is a good meal and cheap when there is a large family.

Mixed vegetable soup:

Peel and cut potatoes and carrots in cubes. Let them boil with an onion cut up. Add some fresh parsley and celery and let this boil for about a half hour. Cut a half of a head of cabbage in small pieces and put that in. In about another half hour, add a half cup of rice. Let this all boil together. When everything is soft, make a thin gravy by frying two or three tablespoons of flour in butter. Add this gravy to the soup. Let boil for about fifteen minutes for everything to mix together. Season to your own taste with salt and a little pepper the way you like it.

Macaroni and cottage cheese (4 to 6 servings)

Boil elbow macaroni, about two cups in salted boiling water. When the elbows are boiled, drain but do not cool off. Break your cottage cheese (pressed) apart and mix the cheese with the macaroni. Brown onion with butter and pour over the above and salt to taste. Mix well. This makes a fine dish.

Doughnuts: (fried in deep fat and rolled in powdered sugar, hot)

1 cup sugar, granulated 3 cups flour, unsifted

4 tablespoons butter 3 teaspoons baking powder

1 cup sweet milk 1/2 teaspoon salt

2 eggs 1 teaspoon vanilla

Sift the flour with the last four ingredients. Enough flour is needed in rolling them out. Cut dough with dough cutter for doughnuts after rolling out to a half inch thickness. 4 doz.


Angela Varesano 8/17/72 Mary Washko

Her husband John’s family lived in this house. She moved in here in 1933 when she married John Washko. The description of the interior as she had it when she moved in: The parlor had a door in the doorway with painted wood similar to the cellar door, with a doorknob. On the east wall there was a Victrola and two chairs with stuffed arms and back. There was a davenport on the west wall and a table by the window with an electric lamp on it. The walls held holy pictures, the one on the west wall being the Garden of Gethsemane scene and one hand-painted sunset of “God Bless Our Home”, with the Lord walking a path to the home. There was a shrine (wooden sick call set) of the Holy Family on the east side of the south wall. Wall were papered, the ceiling too, with a carpet covering the floor. There was a stove where the heater is now on the north corner in the interior of the original kitchen. A table and chairs was in the south corner and sewing machine in the east corner. There was a chair on the wall near the cellar door. Floor covering was lenoleum (“oil cloth”). The table was covered with oil cloth like a tablecloth over the top. Lighting was electric in the middle of the ceiling. The walls and ceiling were papered. Clothes were hung behind the stove on nails or on papers on the floor when the husband came home with wet clothes. Eating utensils were kept in a drawer in the table. The shed built off the kitchen was six feet by nine feet. It had paper walls and ceiling with the roof slanted toward the kitchen. Where was a door to the outside on the south side which was homemade like the cellar door of painted verticla boards and a doorknob. Still used is a sink with drainage to a hole in the garden that “sucks right into the mines someplace”. The shed was six feet out from the kitchen door and nine feet across out from the door. A sink was on the east part of the north wall with a medicine cabinet above the sink.

[illustration of shed layout]

This is now her shandy. A couch was on the west side of the north wall. When she had children, she used to put them to nap there; she used to put guests there too.


Angela Varesano –2– / 14


Mary Washko #66


On the west wall there was a cupboard with dishes, pots on the bottom, sugar, and salt shaker. Behind the door was a small table of wood, homemade (2′ x __”) used to prepare meals on. Floor covering was linoleum. A window was on the east wall, full size with twelve panes, with curtains made from printed cloth. The curtains in the living room were bought of Marquisette material. The kitchen had cottage curtains made of printed percale; all the windows had shades.

The shandy or summer kitchen was there when she got there. There was a boardwalk from the shed to the shandy, about four feet wide. A table was under the window with four chairs and a bench. The stove was on the west wall with a cupboard on the north and south walls near the stove. North cupboard had beans, peas, coffee, tea, and salt, dry goods. Towels and underclothes were kept at the bottom. In the south cupboard were pots, lids, big forks and spoons, ladle, sifter, and bread pans in the bottom with large things. The flour bin was in the east corner. An electric washing machine was kept in the north-east corner. Clothes were hung from nails and hooks, from a wall beam six feet from the floor. Floor covering was linoleum; windows had printed material curtains. On the south wall near the stove was a holy picture; on the north wall near the doorway was a small square mirror and a cupboard. Walls were papered on a foundation of cardboard boxes tacked into the wood for insulation. The shandy was used in the summer when it was hot so as to keep the house cool. Door in the east wall was built by her husband in 1949 to make it easier to “go out back” to the outhouse.

For storage of wood for winter use and also for tools, a tool shed was built by her husband in the 1920s. They stored the wash tubs here along with old clothes and winter footwear. the wood was bought in Hazlebrook from a home which was being torn down. Along with this was built a chicken coop where about twenty or more chickens were kept with a dog coop built right next to it on the east side built about twenty years ago.

The outhouse was built by the company fifteen years ago. She put in a light, a rug, and a little window. In 1934, her husband built a garage from bought timber. Here her husband had a work bench, tools, tires, and a ladder.

The yard was planted with vegetables for food, from the street to the back with a fence around it. See photos for details.

Her present kitchen was built in 1949. The space on either side of the doorway from the kitchen to the shandy has summer lawn chairs, coal stove equipment, pokers, brooms, and dust pans. The stairway used to have a door.

In the middle bedroom was one bed used by her husband’s mother, with the headboard on the west wall. A crib was in


Angela Varesano 8/17/72 Mary Washko

the east corner. A homemade cedar chest, as near the bed on the south wall; a cupboard was on the west wall for bed clothes, pillow cases, a rons, and slips. Something small such as a crucifix was over the bed. On the wall beam over the stairway, she hung clothes on nails on hangers. There were blouses, skirts, and dresses. The linoleum floor with papered walls and ceilign was found here also. In the front bedroom the floor, walls, and ceiling were the same, just as the windows had curtains of printed cloth or Marquisette. Two twist-in hooks to hang clothes of hers and her husband’s all covered up by a sheet were found on the east wall; the cupboard on that wall toward the window had more clothes. On the south wall was a couch where the kids slept. Walls had no holy pictures (“not upstairs”) with just a cross over the bed. She thinks holy pictures were more for downstairs use and crucifixes for upstairs. Built in 1949 at the same time as the kitchen and from the same wood, which was bought from the Eckley schoolhouse, was the back bedroom. They were selling the schoolhouse, and Balas Brothers bought it. Washko’s paid several hundred for the material. Casings were from the schoolhouse. Room was built for the girls with a double bed, a day bed, a cedar chest, and a chest of drawers. Curtains and shades were on the windows and were from homemade material. The floor, ets. was the same as the other rooms. Stairway had bannisters and an open doorway to the living room which was fixed by her husband in 1949.

Catholic Church interior had Stations of the Cross on the walls on either side of the alter. They had wooden frames. Benches were unvarnished. In front of the benches on the floor was a big radiator that heated the building. A statue was on each side of the alter, the Blessed Mother and Christ Child and the other of St. Joseph. Next to the north wall, in the middle was a simple-styled alter with two rounded steps leading up to it. Then there was a floor space and the alter railing with a step down to the main floor. A runner carpet was up the front of the steps and across the front of the alter. The floor was wood. At the alter rail on the left side facing the alter was a candle stand of wrought iron with 10c candles to light, glass colored blue, red, and white. This was outside of and in front of the railing. This railing was made of “pickets” or vertical boards with a top cross. The pickets were painted white while the railing on top was varnished. The alter had candle holders, one on each side of the tabernacle.


[This page is handwritten] Angela Varesano 7/23/72

Holy Supper

Mrs. Zahay 2:30-5:00 pm.

Holy Supper foods included:


bobalkis (with poppy seeds)

mushroom soup

kolachi (served with grated American cheese, prunes, potatoes or cabbage).

fish (baked with a bit of oil)

raw apples

prunes (cooked)

Oplatkis; a thin, flat unleavened bread that was bought from the Church, was served before the meal. These were eaten with garlic.

To serve oplatkis, they were put on a plate, and each member of the family takes a piece, puts honey on it & eats it.

(Frank Zahay commented that they used to say that the garlic eaten on Christmas Eve had a meaning. In case you were bitten by a dog that had rabies, it wouldn’t affect you. Honey had a meaning too, he said.)


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(Mrs. Zahay, cont.)

When it was dark, we lighted at least one candle on the table. It was a custom to wait “until the stars are out” to light them & to start supper.*


Mushroom soup:

Wash mushrooms, cut them up, put in pan & boil with salt & onions, pepper

Cover with water.

Some add celery.

Make zaprashka:

Take flour (couple spoons), margarine & brown it. Add some water & thicken. Add more water & thicken. Pour in soup & mix up.

Eat with kolachis (ko [macron over the “o”] — la [caron over the “a”] — chez [macron over the “e”]

Some put vinegar (2-3 tablespoons) in soups to taste.

Also, some added sauerkraut to taste.

Also, rice or cubed potatoes cooked in with mushrooms

She herself just made it as described above.

* Mrs. Zahay says this was done to keep the children from continuously asking when supper would be ready


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Mrs. Zahay 2:30-5:00 pm.

Clothing: Bonnets, traveling store

We used to have black bonnets with straw– a lady used to come around selling them. Sometimes $1 or 1.25.

Traveling store: Was another lady from Hazleton that come around with ladies & mens underwear. She came in a car & sold factory goods. This was years ago.

A lady (Mrs. Malobetshi) used to make bonnets similar to Mrs. Zoshak’s bonnet, but with 2 slits unsewn on the neck area.

Mrs. Zahay got Mrs. Malobetshi’s pattern & made bonnets to use while huckleberry picking. These were made of printed cloth.

[There is a drawing of a bonnet similar to those seen in “Little House on the Prairie”, with the opening for the face facing to the right. There is a flap at the bottom of the bonnet that would cover the neck. There is a slit from the top to bottom of the flap toward the left side, with the description “unsewn slit in Mrs. Malobetshi’s bonnet style.”]


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Folk remedy

We used to put on cuts– babkoveliski[?] (“grandmother’s leaves”) also known as pig ears. (cf. Ted Shano, 7/26/72)

Parents used to put it on cuts when kids got them as they say it stops the bleeding.

(“rabbit’s ear”) was the term suggested by Mrs. Mike Gera.


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Women’s clothes: Women used to wear long skirts & blouses.

Skirt was made by:

gathered a straight piece of cloth & put on it a waistband.

Some had buttons to close the opening, most didn’t, because the skirt was so full.

They used to make blouses that buttoned down the front; they had [drawing of a round collar] collar, plain sleeves with cuffs, & round collar.

Both shirts & blouses were of a dark color , with small flowers print.

Some blouses had a piece of overlapping material over the buttons in front of the blouse.

Men’s clothes: Dark suits, derbies (“Pincho”[?] derbies), & high button shoes, for dress wear.

For work, overalls, smock, & boots.

Smock: A jacket made of overall material.

Boots: Had boot rags inside; men wrapped legs with old flour sacks, over the socks, as a protection against cold.

They started from bottom, his feet & wrapped the cloth up the leg.

All clothes were patched when broken, because you couldn’t afford to throw them away.


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Men’s clothes in the mines:

Sulfur water ruined the clothes–made them yellow.

When the men came home from the mines all wet & soaked, You had to dry the clothes on the line or behind the stove.


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House: Inside detail

Cloth ceilings

Cloth ceilings: Mrs. Zahay’s father used to put them up, even for other people. He did it just to be neighborly–did it for nothing.

He used printed cloth or white cloth.

Afterwards, beaverboard–like a stiff pressed paper– began to be used for ceilings.

[This section has a bracket in the left margin with the word “omit”: People started to tack “the goods” up. After a while, whitewash kept falling down on floor. Used to take it down & wash & put back up. 1 Ceiling lasted “couple years.” Men & women used to help father. Some men were handy, some weren’t.]

People started to tack up cloth ceilings (“tack the goods up”) when the many layers of whitewash applied to the bare ceiling beams began to crumble & fall on the floor.

People used to take down these cloth ceilings & wash them, then tack it up again. 1 ceiling used to last “a couple of years.”

Both men & women used to help her father put up ceiling. Some women did it, some were not handy enough to do it.


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Angela Varesano 7/23/72

Mrs. Zahay

Holy Supper–Christmas Eve

Holy Supper foods included:


Bobalkis (with poppy seeds)

Mushroom soup

Kolachi, with grated American cheese or prunes or potatoes or cabbage

fish (baked, with a bit of oil)

apples (raw)

Oplatki: served with honey. This is eaten before the meal.

cf* We used to eat garlic with these (oplatkis).

[There are brackets around the following with “omit” written in the left margin: “(Zahay: in case bitten by a dog that had rabies, it wouldn’t affect you. Eaten on Christmas Eve.) Honey had a meaning, too.]

We ate the soup with kolachi

Poppy seed & nut roll made for Christmas also.

To serve oplatki: put on a plate, each takes a piece & puts honey on it & eats it.

* Frank Zahay commented that they used to say if in case you got bitten by a dog that had rabies in the coming year, it wouldn’t affect you, because you ate garlic on Christmas Eve. Honey had a meaning, too.

Contributions Message

Marisa Bozarth, Marie Maranki, Melanie Akren-Dickson, Nicole Spangenburg , Janis Sheppard and Camille Westmont