Ella Boyd McGlynn
East Falls Historical Society Oral History Interview
Interviewer: Cherie Snyder
Interviewee: Ella Boyd McGlynn
Date of Interview: July 17, 1981
Transcribed by Greg Pilotti, 2nd Year Architecture Student, Philadelphia University, Day of Service, and Wendy Moody. EFHS.
CS: Ok, Mrs. McGlynn, why don’t we just start out and you can tell us where you were born.
EBM: Well I was born on… Conrad Street, 35th Street. 35th Street. You want the number?
CS: Pull your chair up a little closer so we make sure we get this… So you were born on Conrad Street?
EBM: Yeah, 3341 North 35th Street.
CS: Were you, so you were actually born in the Falls, and how old are you?
EBM: I’m uh…88.
CS: So what year does that make you? ’
EBM: 93. (1893)
CS: Were you born at home?
EBM: Yes, right in the same house.
CS: Were your parents from the Falls, or they…
EBM: No they from Scotland.
CS: Did they come directly over from Scotland?
EBM: From Scotland with two children.
CS: One of them wasn’t you though?
EBM: Oh no! I’m the youngest of twelve.
CS: Twelve! And why did they come over to East Falls?
EBM: Well, they come over…I guess one come over the family and the other come over, and that’s eh, once the oldest come over the younger ones followed.
CS: But your parents weren’t married when they came over?
EBM: Yes they were they had two children! (Laughter)
CS: Ok, so they brought their two children over, and do you have any idea approximately what year they came over from Scotland?
EBM:Hmmm, No I, it’s over a hundred years old, see I’m 88 and I’m the youngest of twelve.
CS: And they had ten other children once they were here?
EBM: Yeah. They could count two years apart.
CS: So maybe we’re talking about the 1870’s?
EBM: They were over here at the Centennial, before that.
CS: I see. What was, did they come over to find certain work, or did they have a particular trade?
EBM: My father was a plaster worker when he came.
CS: And is that the work that he followed?
EBM: And then he worked in Dobson’s Mill.
CS: How many years did he work there?
EBM: Well he must have worked there until he was up in his 50’s.
CS: It seems like a lot of people worked in Dobson Mills in East Falls.
EBM: Yes indeed. When it closed down.. The Dobson’s mill closed down and Pencoyd closed down and it left the depression. And that was hard.
CS: So now did your parents live in that house the whole time?
EBM: No they came … over on a little house in uh Stanton Street and then they built the house. Yes they built the house. My father was a plasterer by trade. A builder.
CS: So they built the house that you were born in on Conrad Street? And what address did you tell me it was?
EBM: 3341, near Queen Lane.
CS: Sure, sure. But they first came they lived in Stanton Street, then built the home and that’s where you grew up.
EBM: That’s where I grew up in.
CS: And spent your whole life. Were there many other people that came over from Scotland?
EBM: Well I had aunts, I had aunts, and uncles and… the whole crowd come over. They thought it maybe was, better living, I don’t know. But they were all Scotch.
CS: And they all settled in East Falls?
CS: So you’re not aware of any reason that your parents chose this place, or you said that there were other family members here.
EBM: Well the mother died, and the father married again, and of course the family come over, see. Made out, for themselves. Course some of them are married, see, when they come over.
CS: Were there different, were there sections in East Falls? Where the Scotch tended to settle, The English or the Italians, or did everybody pretty much mingle…
EBM: No they were pretty well…but there were no colored, no colored. There was a … (inaudible)… who lived there and, for years, who went to St. Bridget’s. My father helped to built St. Bridget’s School. He was uh, sang at St. Bridget’s for 35 years.
CS: When did they build St. Bridget’s School?
EBM: Well, I have a sister, uh, let’s see, I guess Mary was, easy 20 years older than me. I had 9 brothers, see, and I went there. I know I started when I was 6 years old. My sister started – didn’t start, she went to the public school. My mother took I think 5 of them from the public school into the catholic school when it was built.
CS: Is this the home you’re still living in, the one where you were born?
EBM: No I’m living with my daughter up here, up with Jane. See Jane’s brother is my (inaudible)
CS: So then the house was sold on Conrad Street, but it’s still there isn’t it?
EBM: Yes, yeah it’s there. Nice built home. Bu, uhh, they all got married and left me and I was the last of the twelve.
CS: So you were left alone in that house?
EBM: I was left alone.
CS: Can you just describe a little about the house to me?
EBM: Well it was a well-built house and … it was … living room, dining room, kitchen, back shed, and then there were three bedrooms on the second floor and a bath, and two on the third.
CS: Did it originally have a bath it was built with…
CS: When would that have been added?
EBM: That was added I guess… oh maybe…60 years ago. I … just was …everybody had outside toilets. The street wasn’t…underground…there were no water pipes. It was a dirt road.
CS: Conrad Street was?
EBM: Yeah… so was Bowman Street. They were all dirt roads no pavement.
CS: Queen Lane was just a path.
EBM: Queen Lane only had, at the bottom of the hill, they had cobbles. It was such a hill. We sledded on Queen Lane many a time.
CS: (Laughs) You sledded on Queen Lane?
EBM: Many a time we played it.
CS: Well, what did Queen Lane look like at the time you were…
EBM: Queen Lane, of course, had… as I tell ya, had houses up to Scott’s Lane. That was the last house. Up above that, where the college is, was all woods, truck (?) patches, there was a big house – Abbottsford’s House – on the …right down from the reservoir. And then there were no… Henry Avenue wasn’t cut through. But they took the carts and wagons through on a dirt road. And then, down… there were duck ponds across the street, we skated on that.
CS: And where were the duck ponds?
EBM: Right… between… the Dobson’s mansion, and Henry Avenue, was the duck pond we skated on. And picked flowers and daisies and everything right there.
CS: Were there farms, I mean do people farm…
EBM: One farm, Coates, by the name of Coates, on Scotts Lane, and that’s where we used to buy our produce. Tomatoes and celery and everything in the summer.
CS: So East Falls must have looked very, very different?
EBM: Oh there were no woods at all! No woods regardless! Up above, all the way past, the reservoir. And the reservoir, the filtering baths, wasn’t up there. There were two big basins of water and a fountain in the middle.
CS: When did they build the reservoir?
EBM: They built the reservoir, I guess… maybe 60 years ago or something like that. The pumping station, you know down here, pumped the water up to the reservoir. And the fountain went, over that fence and around the big basins, and then that’s where we would go for a walk was around the reservoir. It was a nice steps. You went up the steps, and a nice walk around cement wall, and it was up high in a big hill.
CS: Now somebody told me when they were building the reservoir they brought some Italians in, come off the, come work on the reservoir. Do you have any memories of any Italian people coming in?
EBM: Oh there were Italians always in the Falls. Stanton Street. The Italians generally got near the Church.
CS: And they were at St. Bridget’s?
EBM: St. Bridget’s. They liked to live near the church. And of course the library was on Queen Lane when I was, at the turn of the century, I was only a little girl…wooden steps… I was only 7 years old and we used to go up in the library and look at books…it must have been at the turn of the century…because I was working when I was 13, and … coming down the steps…we get put out for talking, and she used to come and …holler at us, you know, and we would make a noise coming down. So I must have been about 7 or 8 years old, and that’s the turn of the century. Now before, they didn’t have it in the new book, the other book they wrote of East Falls.
CS: I know I know, we’re really interested in hearing about the library that was at Old Academy.
EBM: And Ella Boyd, was the same name as mine.
CS: And you told me that, tell me that story again about how, you discovered that you had the…
EBM: See she was much older than me. Her name was Ella Boyd but she was down from Allegheny Avenue, down the other end of the Falls. And …I never, we knew her in the library, but then when the new library come up, she used to walk up past our house to the new library. Where the new library is now was a duck pond. And my brothers skated and some of them went in under the ice and everything. There are a lot of duck ponds around. There were duck pond on …34th street, which is ….no…Henry Avenue and …yeah that would be Henry Avenue. It was 34th street then. At Indian Queen Lane. Fannings duck pond. He had cows, and we always went up and got our milk off of him, and buttermilk and butter and everything else.
CS: Backtracking, tell me about how you found out about Ella Boyd.
EBM: Well I was outside, you know I was…of course the library…this new library was built, it must have been uh, they were building it I think, and she was going up the street and I was outside sitting on the step on, see it right at our street on Midvale Avenue. They must have filled in the duck pond. She was passing by and I guess I was in my teens by then. She says, “Oh who you looking for?” I said I’m looking for my sister, my oldest sister. And she says “What’s your name?” I says my name is Ella Boyd and she says (surprised sound) (laughter)! So in this, you put down Ella Boyd McGlynn. Because a lot of people who read it might – the young people might know – the older people would know me by Ella Boyd.
And then, Dobson’s Lot. When I was a little thing. Dobson’s Mill – they had horses and carts, no automobiles. And they had the field, Dobson’s Lot. They grew hay, oats and things they used to stack, the big hay stacks. And we used to go down and pull them down. So they put a watchman on so we got put out. And there at the gates there was a little box and the gates went down and the man put them down, at Queen Lane. And East Falls Station was the bottom of Bowman Street, not at Queen Lane! It was not at Queen Lane! Queen Lane today, is the same as it was when I was a kid. But the East Falls Station was right at Bowman Street – one room, small room.
CS: When did that Station open, was that open before your time?
EBM: Before my time.
CS: And when was it moved?
EBM: It moved after the First World War, when the Manor was built up. The people didn’t like walking all the way down Bowman Street, so they come down Midvale Avenue and they built it over on Midvale Avenue.
CS: What did the rest of East Falls think .… about these new homes being built, Queen Lane Manor, Queen Lane…
EBM: Well after they were first built, of course, they were the big depression come-on and you could have bought them for near nothing. But we, they built them in rows. We used to go up while they were building, and you know it was after World War I… I was working then I was up in my teens, see. I was a milliner in Gimbels for twenty some years. And then I got married and, I worked, still worked there. They used to send out for me. And when I went back they put me in the shoe department. I worked until I was 72.
CS: So you started, and when did you start work you say?
CS: So you worked from the time you were 13 to 72?
EBM: I was 13 in May, and I went, in … after school.
CS: Did most girls your age at 13, go to work?
EBM: I worked there before I was 13, when I was 10 and 12 marking merchandise. Putting tags on them.
CS: And where was it you worked
EBM: In Gimbels.
CS: So they hired young kids to…
EBM: To put tags and pin tickets on the merchandise; machinery didn’t do it then. And I worked there, and when I went there I went in the millinery when I was 13, and I sat many and many a time with the old Mr. Dan Gimbel. Sat and talked to me because I had long blonde hair with long plaits, and he used to say, and many a time he used to say “Come on up and I’ll get you a cup of coffee.” The restaurant was right above us.
CS: So he took a fancy to you?
EBM: So, well I was only a kid, now, 13 or 14.
CS: But nobody thought anything of somebody 13 working at that time?
EBM: No, nothing at all. I put four months of my trade for nothing, worked for nothing, to learn… and when I went back I got 4 dollars a week.
CS: So now, when you started at 13 you were working for nothing to learn the trade? Millinery trade?
EBM: Millinery. And made many and many a hat for them East Falls’ brides and bride grooms. I made more money at home working and…
CS: So you also did this out of your own home in addition. Well now, how did you get into to town to go to work?
EBM: The trolleys, the old trolleys with the wire. You know they… just couldn’t walk around a wagon or anything like that like the buses, you know, if we were stuck in back of anything you were just stuck. It took us an hour to get in town. Walked to the Ridge every day. And worked from 8 in the morning till 6 at night. No vacation money.
CS: What happened when you were sick?
EBM: Well you lost your days pay that’s all. Then when these come out that they uh, people got paid for the vacation, then we used to get three weeks vacation.
CS: Paid Vacation?
EBM: Yeah, that was in the shoe department, I never got paid in the millinery. They didn’t pay people…their vacation. Then I had to walk down Queen Lane, and many and many… of course, Dobson’s Lot then went into the ball field. When Dobson’s shut down, they went into the ball field. My brothers – I had brothers that was in the teams.
CS: Let me just ask you one more thing about your work at Gimbels, when you married, how old were you when you married.
CS: You were 29.
EBM: The War come on.
CS: World War I. Before you were married? …Of course…
EBM: When they went to war, and, of course when they come home things wasn’t as good as what they…you had to get started in a business and things like that.
CS: Did you marry someone from East Falls?
EBM: Yeah. He lived on Queen Lane. They were all Falls people too.
CS: But you knew him before he went away? Your husband?
EBM: Oh yeah, I knew him before he went away. But I didn’t know him much when I was a child.
CS: Did you work when you were married? When you had children?
EBM: I went back to work. Oh, I worked all the time. He used to send for me at Christmastime to come in. I was working in the toys when the Second World War was declared. In the toy department when the war was declared.
CS: Did many women then work after they were married?
EBM: Yes, they were because it was hard for a man to get work. I worked and then my mother raised three grandchildren. Did you ever hear of Mrs. McIlvaine, the undertaker?
CS: Well, the McIlvaines, of course, I’m familiar with in East Falls.
EBM: That’s them! Well she’s my niece.
CS: Oh really.
EBM: My mother raised her from six months old. Her father died. She belonged to my oldest brother. And I was the youngest. And the mother died and left her six months old and a little girl five years old and another one six years old and my mother took them in and they were with us till they got married. They were like a sister to me. She’s here in Ocean City. I generally go down…
CS: Are they Scotch also?
EBM: No, they were all blonde haired. Their mother was Irish.
CS: Their mother was Irish. And how many children did you have?
EBM: One. I lost two before. I was operated to have them. Did you ever hear of Dr. Rath in the Falls?
CS: Dr. Rath? Otto? Yes. He was your physician? Tell me about him because I’ve read a lot about him. So tell me a little about him.
EBM: He operated on me when – at home. Right at home.
CS: You were due to deliver and you were having problems? Or?
EBM: No, I never had any. He said I never had them. My room was turned around…
CS: He operated on you at home.
EBM: I lost two and the third time he said “I don’t want you to even move off a chair.” And that’s her – that’s Claire – married to James…and she has 13…
CS: Well what did you do for anesthesia at home, if you were operated at home?
EBM: I had a doctor and a nurse. Another doctor and a nurse.
CS: And they came? But you were out? With ether or something?
EBM: Oh yeah. I was in bed for two weeks. Doctor Rath, my mother was the first broken arm he ever operated on – set. She fell on Queen Lane in the ice or snow and before coming home she went right across the street and he set it. And when he set it, my father said “Oh, they mightn’t be right. It’s his first year. And my father took her up to Memorial Hospital and they looked at it and they said “Why it’s perfect.”
CS: So he did a good job his first time around. Now where was his office?
EBM: On Indian Queen Lane, near Dobson’s Lot.
CS: Can you describe him as a person? What he was like?
EBM: He was German and he was short. And he was very – and a lot of people didn’t take to him because he – right away they’d say “operate.” And, you know, a lot of people don’t want that. And he would say “You need an operation.” Oh, don’t have Doctor Rath. He was very blunt with his talking. He wasn’t what you’d say – Bed? Bedroom?
CS: His bedside manner wasn’t so…
EBM: No, it wasn’t that at all. But him and my mother was very, very close. They were always very close. I had a brother who went with his Doctor Kelly for a long…and then he died.
CS: Now, Doctor Rath was in the Falls for years and years.
EBM: He never was any place else. He was married and was right in the Falls and stayed there in just a plain, two-story house. No fancy stuff or anything else. No fancy room or anything.
CS: But I saw when he – in the newspaper clippings when he became sick and then when he died, it seemed like he was a fairly important person in East Falls.
EBM: He was. He was head physician in Memorial. He was head guy. Head operator. He operated on my niece and he operated – I had a brother he operated on, and he fixed many an arm on my brother because they broke their arms up in cherry trees up in the fields – and walnut trees. So everyone had broken limbs. Some of them the second trip.
CS: So he made a lot of money off your family it sounds like with all those…
EBM: Well, no. You know what it cost – what he used to charge for delivering a baby? You know what he charged? $25.
CS: Oh, gee. Would he come over to the house to deliver the baby?
EBM: Yeah! Well, I went to Memorial. And it was early in the morning and all he did was – well, he just pulled his pants up on top of his pajamas. 6 o’clock in the morning, he went up with me.
CS: Was that when you delivered your Claire, your third child?
EBM: Yeah. I had McIlvaine – Charles – well, it would be her husband – it was a boy and we called him up to come down with the limousine to take me up.
CS: You mean the one they used in the funeral home? Is that what took you to the (laughs)?
EBM: She must be up in her fifties. And many a time old Dr. Kelly, old Dr. Kelly was a great doctor from up here, for the Falls. Dr. Kelly was…
CS: What was his first name?
EBM: I don’t know what his first name was, but it was Dr. Kelly. And then he had a son was a Dr. Kelly that operated – he was a medical doctor – he had a son that operated on, and he had another son, I think, was an eye doctor. His sons was all…And he had a daughter that married Dr. Leeman. Did you hear of him up here?
CS: No. Uh uh.
EBM: A great doctor from Manayunk.
CS: Did he work in the Falls at all?
EBM: Yes, he worked in the Falls. We had him down in our place.
CS: In most cases, if you had to see the doctor and you were real sick, would the doctor come to your house?
EBM: In a horse and carriage. Or if you had a horse and carriage, you’d go up and bring him down. And if you were going to have a baby, you’d call him up the night before, he’d stay all night and sleep on the couch, or sleep any place and get his breakfast in the morning and stay all the next morning.
CS: Times have changed, times have changed.
EBM: Stayed all night. Would stay all night with you or till it was born. My mother never had doctors.
CS: Did she just have family members? Or a midwive?
EBM: She had midwives. And Dr. Kelly, my mother went with him all over the Falls. And many of them were born before he arrived.
CS: Really. Your mother assisted Dr. Kelly? Is that what you mean?
EBM: In the Falls.
CS: Did she serve as a midwife?
EBM: Well, no. She just – as a friend, you know. Knew as much, I guess, and he’d come and give her – well, he’d stop at the house and say “C’mon.” Sometimes the people would call up my mother and my mother, if it were a neighbor, would go and deliver the child before he come and she used to say to him, “What are you collecting money for! $5 then. “What are collecting the money for!” I did the job.
CS: Did many women then who were delivering their babies at home lose their babies?
EBM: Oh no! They were all right. They were fine. Very few lost, you know.
CS: Mrs. Who?
CS: How do you spell that?
EBM: I don’t know how you’d spell that. Maybe Jane – Jane’s a good speller. Maybe she would know. Eckroyd, her name was, and she lived on Bowman Street. And us kids, she used to say she kept them in the cellar.
CS: Kept what?
EBM: The babies. (laughter)
CS: Did you believe her?
EBM: Well, we used to look down the cellar windows.
CS: She’s not still alive, is she? No, she was older when you were a kid.
EBM: She was doing that when I was only a little kid running the streets. We used to skate – roller skate around and we’d stop….I was a great ice skater too.
CS: Sounds like you were a devilish sort.
EBM: I skated on the Schuylkill, I skated on the creek, I skated wherever there was a piece of ice. Oh, I went out with my brothers. When they’d go skating, they’d say “C’mon.” I’d be up all day – we used to take our skates to school.
CS: Where did you go to school?
EBM: St. Bridget’s.
CS: You went – That’s right, I think you did tell me that. How was going to St. Bridget’s School different from going to like Breck, or the Forest School?
EBM: Well, St. Bridget’s, we walked. There were no buses ever took you anywhere. You went home for your lunch. After going home for your lunch, the people had the dinners ready to go down to Dobson’s Mill and you took them down.
CS: To the workers?
EBM: Yeah, to the workers.- And you’d wait for the gate to open at 12 o’clock and they’d let you in, and you’d give them their dinner, and wait for them to come home – cook dinner – we used to always take my father’s dinner to Dobson’s Lot – over the lot in the field. It was great fun. And, of course, we always played up around the reservoir. Up McCullough’s Lot – McCullough’s Lot was a great lot. Then, of course, then the Manor come – and they start building the houses and all and we were cheated out of it. Of course I was grown up and working then. But the other part of the Falls was just as it looks. Everything.
CS: What part do you mean?
EBM: All the way down to the Ridge is just as it is now.
CS: What about Dutch Hollow?
EBM: Dutch Hollow, I guess, is the same as it is. Because it was down on a deep hill. We used to make a shortcut down Dutch Hollow to school. See. Hohenadel’s – there was an old brewery down there.
CS: There was, you’re saying…
CS: The Hohenadel?.Was it Guckes?
EBM: Might have been.
CS: What the name of the brewery? But not Hohenadel.
EBM: No, I don’t think so.
CS: Yeah, there was another one down there in Dutch Hollow.
EBM: Yeah, in Dutch Hollow.
CS: Was it still operating, though, when you cut through there?
EBM: No. It was closed. Hohenadel was – my brother was “Confidential” head clerk for Hohenadel.
CS: He was what?
EBM: Confidential head clerk. He was head guy.
CS: What did they call him, though? Confidential?
CS: What did that mean?
EBM: Well, he had a lot of confidence. He signed checks, he run the whole business…
CS: For Hohenadel’s?
CS: Is he still alive? He’s older than you…
EBM: No, he was killed. Nine of them was killed. Nine boys went over Girard Avenue Bridge.
CS: What happened? Nine of your brothers?
EBM: No. Nine boys around Wissahickon and East Falls.
CS: What happened?
EBM: Well, there were a tailor on Broad Street, and a son went to school with these boys, see. Went to Roman. And his father got a new limousine – and this must be over 60 years ago – a new limousine – and the mother said – the boy said to his mother “You didn’t have to get licensed, you didn’t have to get nothing, tags or anything for the machine.” And he says “Mother, can I take the machine.” No… he asked the father, I think: “Can I take the machine out?” and the father said “No” and he asked the mother and the mother said yes. Around the block. Down Broad Street – there were big tailors. And he took the machine out and, instead of going around the block, he come up 33rd Street, up the park, at Midvale corner, and picked up the boys there. Nine of them. Besides himself and his friends in the car. And they all got in for a ride. And he never turned a wheel before. And he turned it around, and he went down the park, and, you know 33rd Street – there where the A bus goes – it goes like this…? .Well, he didn’t steer and he went over the bridge and the nine was killed.
CS: And your brother was one of those?
EBM: Yeah. And Mr. Hohenadel had to change his will. He owned the brewery. You see they had no children. Well, the wife had a boy but he had no part of the brewery. He went away and didn’t bother. Tom Hohenadel.(?)
CS: Did the Hohenadel’s live in East Falls?
EBM: Oh, always. When they got married, we went over with tin cans on the porch and we got pennies and everything – nickels and dimes and quarters. And that wasn’t built the way it was – it had a big porch around it. Midvale Corner had a big porch around that.
CS: Now what was Midvale Corner?
EBM: Midvale Corner and the Ridge? Where there is a gas station?
CS: What was there?
EBM: A saloon there and it had a big porch around the back from the park all the way around. And you used to go down andsit on the porch in the summer – the men and women with their lady friends and there was always somebody from town used to come out to these places, you know.
CS: And that was called Midvale Corner?
EBM: Midvale Corner. Roseman’s. Roseman’s Saloon. And it had a big…
CS: And when was that torn down? How long was it Roseman’s Saloon?
EBM: Oh, that was torn down in the teens.
CS: And you started to say…
EBM: And they tore it down and they built the Falls Bank.
CS: And that was on that corner too?
EBM: Yeah. And then the Depression. It was up and they tore it down and now they’ve built the gas station.
CS: So you’ve seen a lot of things come and go.
EBM: And we used to go across the street to Odd Fellow’s Hall – right across the street – up on the second floor and see moving pictures for five cents.
EBM: Well, they didn’t talk. They were silent pictures. I seen the Midvale – there were no moving pictures on Midvale or nothing – it was all woods.
CS: Can you describe to me how Ridge Avenue along there looked about that time?
EBM: Well, Ridge Avenue had sheds on it from Crawford Street. That’s near where the train goes over there. All the way up to the houses near Indian Queen Lane was galvanized sheds.
CS: What were they for?
EBM: Well they were awnings – all the way out to the curb. And you never had to – every store in the Falls had one.
CS: So these were stores.
EBM: Yeah, stores, all stores. Stores on the other side. Well there was a big inn there where the – now what’s there now? Below Queen Lane…I don’t know what…There was an open lot there.
CS: State store?
EBM: State store is there. Well there, there were a big mansion there.
CS: Who’s was that?
EBM: Whalen’s. Had a big mansion. You could go in there – there had a porch around the back. They done their serving the beer and anything you want – your dinners – you could go down there – a club could have their club meal down there. Inside, you know, I’ve been there myself for dinners. On the outside was a big place for horse and carriages. A trough for the horses to get a drink out of, and goldfishes in it.
CS: Goldfish in the trough.
EBM: Yes, they used to catch them and out them in to keep them in there.
CS: Was that called Whalen’s?
EBM: Whalen’s Saloon. They had a boy and a girl. Nellie Whalen and – I forget what the boy’s name was – they had two children. Went to our school. I went to school with Nellie Whalen. And then they had a row of sheds out in this little driveway where you went with your horse and carriage and if it were a rainy night or anything, of course you pulled in your horse and carriage underneath these sheds. It was a big open space.
CS: What time period are you talking about? The 20’s, 30’s?
EBM: Well, easy. Oh, well Nellie went to school with me when I was six years old and that must have been the turn of the century.
CS: So Whalen’s was there at the turn of the century but how much longer did it stay?
EBM: It stayed there until, oh, I guess, up in the 20s I guess. I lost track of them when Nellie got married and moved away and Mrs. Whalen died and she was the woman who run the thing. And of course if there was somebody overnight, they had rooms upstairs. They would put them up for the night, you know, if they wanted to stay overnight. They had, oh, it was a big – like a mansion there. They shouldn’t have been tore down! I don’t know who done that. That was the historical thing of the Falls.
CS: What was it originally? What was it before it was Whalen’s?
EBM: It was always Whalen’s that I knew of.
CS: But they tore it down.
EBM: It was always a big mansion and it was always a saloon. But in my time, and I was down there before I was seven years old, I guess.
CS: Now if you keep travelling up the Ridge, what else would you see?
EBM: Well, then further up the Ridge, McIlvaine’s had his funeral home – it was the hall, Odd Fellow’s Hall, what they called it then, at the corner.
CS: Now that’s still there.
EBM: Yeah, that’s still there and there were a store underneath that sold men’s clothing – neckties, collars, and shirts and underwear and things like that. Then McIlvaine’s Funeral Parlor, then the fire house and then after that there were another big hotel, and a mansion called Turfilla.
CS: Can you spell that for me?
EBM: T-u-r-f-i-l-l-a. Anybody would know it. Put it down as Turfilla. And that had a saloon. And that had a big porch around the back – they had singing and everything in that, just like Whalen’s. And in the front it had – was a – like a – it was nice in the front – it had like front doors and everything. And that was next to the firehouse. What’s there now? I think it’s an open little field now I think, isn’t it? They tore it down.
CS: There may be even some kid’s swings or something, but it’s open, you’re right. What about across – what about the Mifflin Estate? Was that across the street?
EBM: Mifflin School?
CS: No, not the school, but there was the old Mifflin home that was later, I guess, turned into the Beer Garden or something?
EBM: Well, that might have been up the Ridge further.
CS: That might have been.
EBM: There were a couple of them up the Ridge – Presbyterian churches up there and another inn up further – was up further – then there were little houses along on the Ridge up to the lake. I had an uncle who lived in one of them.
CS: Sounds like it was a pretty busy place.
EBM: Yeah. The, of course, the lake was much bigger than what it is now. They cut the lake up. They cut it – and, oh, it was long! There was a big fountain in the middle and everything when I was a kid. I don’t think they even skate on that now. I think the colored…(?)
CS: I wanted to ask you, when you mentioned the horse and carriages, when did you first start seeing more and more cars on the street?
EBM: I think the first car was – Hohenadel had it. It was the first car on Indian Queen Lane after he was married. I made Mrs. Hohenadel’s hats.
CS: Did you!
EBM: Yeah. My mother and Mrs. Hohenadel was very….(?)…in fact her brother, when I was born, wore his brother’s clothes – he was six months older than me and my mother thought she wouldn’t have any more children so she gave all of them away. And Mrs. Hardback (?) says “Don’t buy any; I’ll give you a whole load of them.” They lived right across when they got married. She lived across from the saloon. And Hohenadel lived in a little room down under the saloon at that time. Then they moved down to a big house on Queen Lane.
CS: Where on Queen Lane?
EBM: There right above the church – the Baptist Church. That was Hohenadel’s house. I think it has his name on the thing where they used to get out of the carriages and step down on the stump.
CS: On Queen Lane. What the cross street there?
CS: You’re talking about Indian Queen.
EBM: Indian Queen.
CS: Indian Queen Lane. Oh, I see. Right across from the church.
EBM: Well, down further.
CS: Oh, I know which one you mean.
EBM: Yeah it’s a big house. The back of it is on Midvale Avenue.
CS: Sure. I know which one you mean now. So Mr. Hohenadel, you think, was the first person to have a car.
EBM: Yeah. That was a way back. Let’s see, Jo (?) must have been dead before I married. He got married…Well, before the First World War. Just around that time.
CS: When did you start seeing more and more cars on the streets in East Falls? About what time?
EBM: Well, we used to…of course later on then the trucks come in. Because my husband was in the bread business and he had a truck.
CS: Your husband was…
EBM: Oh yeah, everybody knew him up here…
CS: So he was a baker?
EBM: No, well he was and he found out this fellow was jewing him, so he pulled out. He was a huckster. He was a huckster with James…. indecipherable (?)
CS: In the Falls?
EBM: In the Falls. During the Depression they had to go out of business. People didn’t pay their money when they bought their…they left it run for the week. “I’ll pay you on pay day.”
CS: And he would come back and collect?
EBM: They all went out of business then they went in the beer business.
CS: Who’s they?
EBM: James’ father. Went in the beer business. McKeever’s. And my husband took the soda water. And he went all the way up to Coatesville…and all. West Manayunk. He had three trucks running.
CS: Let me ask you about your father who worked at Dobson’s Mills. What did he do at Dobson?
EBM: He was a boss in the picker house where they – the wool – the stuff went in and separated all the stuff to make the yarn. Dobson’s Mills was a carpet mill, a plush mill, a cloth mill, and Jim Dobson had one part of the mill and John had the other part.
CS: Which parts did each of them have?
EBM: Well, that – I couldn’t tell you that. But I know one went all the way to Scott’s Lane from Crawford Street. It was a (?)…. in Falls – everybody worked in there. Girls and all went to work when they were any age at all. And they made the cloth from rags – they made the stuff from material, rags – they had women – elderly women sat down there cutting the buttons off of old cloths so it wouldn’t go among the machinery. And they put the clothes in and ground them up and made the yarn and made the – and then they separated them and they made many and many a remnant. We went down and bought for coats and pants and things.
CS: What did the people of East Falls think about James and John Dobson?
EBM: They were very good. And then there were Bessie, one girl, Bessie, and she had one girl married Jack (?) Whitney – the horseman? And we played with her.
CS: You played with her?
EBM: Yeah. She used to come down and next door was a girl used to have a big huck. She’d come down with her carriage horse and the girl next door used to ride a huckster horse.
CS: Well did you ever get to meet either of the Dobsons?
EBM: Oh yeah. I’ve been in the house many a time. I had a picture – it’s too bad – I had a picture of the First World War taken of the Ladies Aid. And someone in the family got a hold of that.
CS: Oh, that would be good to have. Now Mrs. Dobson was real active with that, wasn’t she?
EBM: Yeah, she was in it. They were all dressed in white. Taken in front of Pat Kelly’s house at Midvale and Conrad Street. Pat Kelly built a beautiful home where that school is.
CS: I’ve seen a picture of that.
EBM: And it were tore down. Pat Kelly’s older brother, Walter, the actor, went around with my oldest brother.
EBM: And George, Pat and Walter, well with the brothers down they…. That other book that was wrote didn’t have half the Kelly’s family in it. There were a lot of mistakes I could have told them about.
CS: Well, they are going to reprint it. Maybe you could – they’re going to put out more copies – I don’t know if they’re going to make any corrections or not, but you might want to talk to Lois or Fred and let them know. Because they are working on trying to reprint it.
EBM: Who, Fred who?
CS: Fred Childs and Lois Childs.
EBM: I know Fred Childs from the Falls? I know him.
CS: You’re talking about the East Falls book.
CS: Well I know they’re going to try to have it reprinted.
EBM: I have some of the pictures. I knew the family from all the way down. Every one of them. Grace, Jack and Walter and what they done and what they didn’t do. My brother… They come to our house. In fact when I was born the oldest one come with a quarter keg of beer up in the yard and my mother put him out.
CS: He brought a keg of beer over and she put him out? (laughs)
EBM: We were going to have a christening. Because I was a girl after seven boys. And my mother put Walter out
CS: This was Walter.
EBM: That was Walter Kelly. And we went up in the woods – well, I had a brother died a week after – he had a tumor on the brain and he wasn’t well, and then my mother who stood for me – my father sang in St. Bridget’s choir and the organist and one of the singers stood for me. My father was a great singer. And my brothers – my two brothers played violins and I had one played cornet. They had a regular orchestra. And another – do you know where McIlvaine’s Funeral Parlor is? That was a club.
CS: What was the name of that club?
EBM: The Young Men’s Literary Society.
CS: I’ve been trying to find out – what did that group do?
EBM: That group – all my brothers belonged to it – they all belonged to it. If you were sick you got a free doctor.
CS: You got a free doctor?
EBM: You paid dues into it – $1 a month I think it was. Or 50 cents a month, now I’m not sure; I didn’t pay it.
CS: Only men could belong, I suppose.
EBM: Oh yeah. There were over 200 members. They were first started over on Ridge Avenue and then they built it. The Young Men’s Literary built that building. Pat Kelly built it. And he got free doctor and I think you got $6 a week while you were sick and not working and free medicine. Out of a club of 200 members. Now they had a supper every year, they had a ball. A grand march. I can show you pictures of my sister that was in that and my brother too. They led the march, up in American Hall. Pat Kelly led it. And there was a great, big society in there – they played shuffleboard underneath and a dance floor on top and a floor where they had back rooms for eating if they had a supper and many and many a good entertainment and time they had in that place when I was only well I would say I was fourteen, 12 or something like that.
CS: And how old did you have to be to belong to that?
EBM: Well our boys used to join as soon as they got worker’s salaries – Up in their teens, 18, 19 or something like that. My husband was a member of it too. All my brothers was.
CS: So it was primarily a social club but it had benefits to it in addition.
EBM: Yeah, it had benefits to it. And my brother was president – two of them was president of the club. Bob was president and so was Hughie (?) president of the club. They had dances every Saturday night. They had plays – I was in the plays – and they had minstrel shows – I was in that when I was a kid and then there were another club now called the – on the bottom of Eveline – it was a Catholic Club – I think they just called it the Catholic Club. I think they belonged to the church. But the Young Men’s Literary Society was too independent – they weren’t letting the church run them.
CS: Were they mostly Catholics in the Literary Society?
EBM: Yeah, All, all, all are. Oh, all are. Yeah they were all. And the two factions used to fight and of course the Literary had the biggest crowd because they had more benefits but the church wanted to run the literary and they wouldn’t let them.
CS: They were too independent
EBM: They were independent but they run the other club and the literary stood out.
CS: Well why did they call it the literary club?
EBM: The YMLI they used to call it. Is that Y-M-L-I?
CS: But why literary? What did they have to do with…?
EBM: I don’t know. I used to call it the YMLI. And they all belonged to it
CS: When was the heyday? What were the prime years of the literary club?
EBM: Well it must have been when I was about 12, 13 or something like that
CS: What happened that it started to decline?
EBM: Well the younger members they were too strict – they got a little strict – they wouldn’t let them do – the young kids – with their drinking and all that kind of stuff. And they wanted some of them to quit drinking and they wouldn’t do it. How people got the drinking. And they got death benefits besides that.
CS: Wow, they really had a…
EBM: Hmm hmm. They had a good society. And my brother, when they sold it – I had one brother got his share out of the building.
CS: When did they sell it to?
EBM: They sold it to McIlvaine’s the undertaker.
CS: About when? In the 30s? 20s?
EBM: Oh, It was after that.
CS: It was after that.
EBM: Oh yeah. I think when Charles took it – he was in the business then. I guess in the… must have been married… how old is Charles McIlvaine? I don’t know how old he is. I couldn’t tell you his age. But – it was young Charles that took it over. They had on the Ridge – remember me telling you near Midvale
CS: Right. They moved from there up to…
EBM: And, of course when they built – when the Manor started – it must have been when the Manor started build up. When the Manor started build up and they – McIlvaine’s big house was on the corner of Midvale and Henry Avenue. That big house. That was the McIlvaine’s house – the old couple. And then there was Margaret and Mildred – Margaret is still living but Mildred is dead. Charles is dead. And my niece – she lives down in Ocean City. Mae McIlvaine.
CS: Well you certainly – our tape is about to run out, but you certainly
END OF TAPE