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East Falls Historical Society Oral History Interview

Interviewee: Mary Cashman (MC)

Interviewer: Gus Krebs (GK)

Transcriber: Carolyn Connor

Date: April 26, 2013

GK: We are here at 3681 Eveline St. We will start the interview by asking Mary about her family, where she was born, her school, her work and her memories of East Falls. So, here we go.

MC: Well first I was born on Thursday in 1925. It was also the year Saint Theresa was cauterized, and because of that my middle name is Theresa. I grew up in Manayunk in the Holy Family parish. I went to school there; I was married there.

     I was May Queen the year I graduated. Again I say, I’m blessed. Then I got married in ’46 and didn’t move here until ’47 and at that time Saint Bridget’s was beginning their new school because they had so many children their little school was no longer adequate. Because of that we had block parties all over the parish to pay for the school. I really don’t know how the school was paid for, but that’s what they did at that time.

GK: So your kids were born?

MC: Oh, so yes, we came here when Bill was a baby, he’s now 65, he will be 66 this summer. I have three other children, Nancy’s 61, and Joanne and John, they are in their 50s. Who lives here? I live here now, but Joanne came to live with me when I had a stroke four years ago, and she gave up her home on Calumet Street.

GK: The address here? Yes, you’ve lived here since 1947, on Eveline St.

MC: Yes, I’ve never moved. People have asked me many, many times when I am going to move and I never do. I saw many, many people die on the street. You know when I first moved here all the older people died and then so many families were raised on the street. We had a great kid’s street, everybody looked out for each other. 

     We didn’t lock our doors. Nothing like today. Now, you can’t even trust the mailman, (ha), I don’t mean that, you can trust the mailman, maybe. I don’t know. But anyway, I remember Mr. Fiedler, who was pharmacist.  When anything happened to our kids, we did not go to a doctor we went to Mr. Fiedler. He had special medicines for everything.  And especially colds; we went right to him. Then later on he had a son who became a doctor, a real doctor. We called him Doc too but he was a pharmacist. So I guess the title was appropriate, I’m not sure.

GK: It was on the bottom of Stanton Street, was it?

MC: Yes, it was on the corner of Stanton Street.  A big house.

GK: Stanton and Ridge Avenue.

MC: Yes, and then Mrs. Fiedler we had, what anniversary was that? The centennial? Mrs. Fiedler got dressed up in an old fashion dress and parasol and was down by the river. There was a big parade and, of course, there was always a parade on the Fourth of July.  All our kids decorated their bicycles with crepe paper and all kinds of stuff and we paraded up Midvale Avenue past Holy Redeemer, where there was a little church and they had their party and they would wave to us. Everybody was so friendly.  It didn’t matter what religion you were.

GK: Holy Redeemer was Lutheran right? Conrad and Midvale? Which is closed today.

MC: Yeah, but then again how long until St Bridget’s is going to be closed?  It’s not believable but neither was our school closing believable.

GK: So true.  Both of your kids went to St Bridget’s?

MC: All my kids went to St Bridget’s.  They all graduated from St Bridget’s. The boys went to Roman, the girls went to Hallahan and Holy Souls. There was a commercial course at Hallahan, you know, Holy Souls was no longer, hasn’t been in existence forever.

     And my son works for the racquet club in Chicago and just celebrated his 25th anniversary there and because of his service for 25 years they gave him, (pause) I can’t even say it – they gave him a $60,000 trust for his children for college, can you imagine? (Whew) Anyway, that’s still throws me, anyway. That is such a joy, we never expected anything like that, and the boys are so young that by the time they go to college that trust fund will amount to God knows what, it will probably take care of their whole college education. So, did you know John?

GK: I didn’t know John.

MC: Well John left the Falls for Chicago to get away from an element he was involved in, which was really a shame. But you know, besides being a good person he’s also a designated driver for Chicago, for the Racquet Club. So everyone can go out and have a really good time, John drives them. He’s stayed that way, for 25 years since he left here. We did have our problems, big time. But they ironed themselves out.

GK: What about your other children?

MC: Bill works for DeLoria, which is a laser company. He worked for the bubblegum people, for years and when he left, they closed. He went to Plumsteadville which is outside of Doylestown. He worked for a firm that sold laser work on your eyes.

GK: Lasik? Lasik surgery?

MC: I don’t know, I don’t know how they do it.  But the company is DeLoria.  And it’s a French company. The owners are French. And Nancy has been hurt, because she worked for Temple for years. Doing all kinds of labor, she waxed floors, shoveled snow when she had to, and look what happened. Housekeeping in Temple, cleaning the dentist’s offices, she did labor. As a result, she has a lot of physical problems because she hurt a lot of parts of her body doing that stuff.  Joanne works for the eye doctor down at Ridge and Indian Queen Lane, used to be Doctor Solofsky, but he died and then his daughter took over awhile and I think is still affiliated with it but Jesse Jones, Dr. Jesse Jones, is now the eye doctor.

GK: At the bottom of Indian Queen Lane and Ridge Ave, in East Falls?

MC: Yup, I also remember, what was that Tavern across the street?

GK: The Old Falls Tavern?

MC: They did weddings there. It looked like New Orleans.  It was that kind of architecture

GK: What else do you remember on Ridge?

MC: Oh, I remember the pharmacy, I remember where the grocery store is now on the corner, was the pharmacy.

GK: What grocery store?

MC: The one on the corner.

GK: Of what?

MC: Of Ridge and Midvale, a little grocery store.

GK: There was a 5 and 10 across the street?

MC: Oh yes of course my sister worked there for years.  She lived on Indian Queen Lane. Oh my goodness I forgot about that. We also had a florist; Lupinacci’s had the florist.

GK: On Midvale?

MC: Pete had the restaurant and Joe Chaddo made the pizzas.

GK: Pete Mazzio right?

MC: Yup. Pete Mazzio.  We would go up the alley, up the side alley to get the pizzas in the back from Joe Chaddo.  He made the pizzas for years.

GK: Pete’s Spaghetti House

MC: Yeah, yeah.

GK: What was next door to the Spaghetti House, do you remember?

MC: I know McGill had a place there.

GK: George McGill

MC: Yup, he had a little beer stop.  You could get beer there.

GK: And take out.

MC: Yup, and there was another taproom there.

GK: Yes there was Grady’s.  It goes back a long time.

MC: Yeah, you’re not kidding! Yea, I remember all of that.

GK: Midvale Café?

MC: Now before McIlvaine took over – McIlvaine the funeral parlor – it was called the “Lit”. Because it was the literary club, we went there for dances. I went there before I got married because my husband lived in their neighborhood.

GK: That’s at the corner of Frederick and Midvale. The Lit.

MC: We called it the Lit, the Literary Club. I didn’t belong to that – we went there for dances. So I don’t know how involved that was in anything.

GK: But that’s where you went to be entertained at that time.

MC: Yes at that time we went all over for dances because that’s what we did.

GK: Where were the dances?

MC: They were at St Joe’s, over on Allegheny and Holy Family Parish in Manayunk, St. Johns, Holy Family, the Rec on Ridge, everywhere.

GK: There was a lot of entertainment for kids.

MC: Yep definitely, you could go to the Rec on Ridge Ave across from Memorial Hospital and get tap dancing lessons. Go swimming at the Bathey.

GK: Right, the Bathey, I was just about to ask. The Bathey right here in East Falls on Ferry Road.

MC: I know, but we never went to that Bathey.  We had our own on Ridge Avenue, we would go for a rank and we would swing in the yard on the playground and go for another rank. And that’s what they called it, where you had to wear those bathing caps on your head and get in the cold shower before you jumped in the water. Yeah!

GK: What was on Midvale Ave across the street from the lake? Was that a theatre there?

MC: No, not a theatre.  There was a super market on the bottom of Eveline, no Frederick and Ridge (Midvale).  And before that it was the movie.

GK: At the bottom of Frederick and Midvale.

MC: Yes, it was a movie and then it was a super market.

GK: Yes but what movie was it? Besides the Alden.

MC: I don’t know. I can’t remember because I never went to it.  It was before my time.

GK: I see, but it was a movie or theatre?

MC: Evidently because it was big enough to have a super market there. The Alden we went to forever!

GK: Well, yeah, that was later, that came later.

MC: Then we had a Gino’s on Midvale for a short time.  Yeah, I remember when the bank opened.  It one of those, oh what do you call them, they set up a, cause they were building the bank or rebuilding it, they had this thing like that have in the school yard.

     Not like the one on Midvale but the one on Stanton.  You know, like the building they had in the schoolyard. It’s right there, something is set up, but that’s where the bank was – in that thing, set aside. And you went there when the bank opened.

GK: Is that the Penn National Bank? What was there before that? It was the Alden?

MC: Yes, movies.

GK: How about on Ridge Avenue.  What do you remember besides the Old Falls Tavern on Ridge Ave?

MC: Doc, Mr. G they called him I think – he was also a pharmacist. And then there was the Jitterbug – that was the place where the kids went for soda and stuff. But that was kinda before my time, but I knew about it because my husband went there.

GK: Well what about your time, it’s much more interesting. What do you recall on Ridge Avenue in East Falls?

MC: There was the Chinese laundry on the Ridge.  There was a furniture store on the corner of Eveline and the Ridge and that changed into the pizza shop.

GK: Wasn’t that called Heimlechs?

MC: Yes it was.

GK: Yes I remember that, yes.

MC: You remember?

GK: Yes

MC: How long have you been here?

GK: All my life, pretty much.

MC: Really?!

GK: Yes but this interview’s about you, not me. Where else do you remember going, besides Doc (…) besides Heimlechs? There was a couple steak shops there.

MC: Yes there were, because they kept changing. One thing after another

GK: Wasn’t there a Rayburns or a child’s clothing store?

MC: Yes but that was on the other side.

GK: The other side of what?

MC: Of Eveline, going toward Midvale, it was on the corner. Then it was Borlines (?) another shoe shop (Polis) and then of course there were all the barber shops, Felix (Herrera) and then Jerry on Midvale.  Jerry was a great golfer; Jerry would go golfing up.

GK: At the corner of Creswell and Midvale

MC: That’s where Jerry was.

GK: Jerry Montimore.

MC: Then the tailor on the corner of that other little street. There were two streets there.

GK: Arnold St, that’s on Midvale.

MC: Yeah, that was a tailor – a great tailor (Nick Matragrano) and they had a little candy store in the tailor shop. Who ran that, Sim?

GK: I don’t know who ran it.

MC: And how about, um, the Stanton Street – the little candy shop across from school, Mugesette’s?

GK: Mudgee’s?

MC: (ha) Mudgees, and then how about at the top of Calumet there was another store…

GK: Carmela, Carmelas.

MC: Yeah.

GK: I’m more interested on what’s on Ridge and Midvale, what was there, now there’s a gas station.

MC: Oh, there was a bank where the gas stations is, there was a bank. And beyond that there apartments which are still there.

GK: That would the southwest corner of Ridge and Midvale

MC: I’m trying to think if the bank was in front of the tavern.

GK: I believe so.

MC: Then the hardware was on the other corner; it was an amazing hardware store.

GK: Ok, is that what that was?

MC: In fact we still call that the hardware, a lot of things have changed but we still call it the hardware.

GK: Wasn’t there a meetinghouse there for a church?

MC: In the back, what was the hall called? (Palestine Hall) Because they also held weddings there, some of our family held receptions there.

GK: Masonic, some of your family were married there?

MC: My husband’s family. Not married there, help the reception there.  They were married in the church.

GK: What is your maiden name?

MC: Erthal, E-R-T-H-A-L

GK: And you’re originally from Manayunk?

MC: Yes, Holy Family Parish, Hermitage Street.

GK: And your husband is from here or East Falls?

MC: He was from this street – 3675 Eveline Street.  Yeah, he was born here.

GK: He went to St Bridget’s?

MC: Yeah, yes, all their family did.

GK: So his whole family lived here on Eveline Street, back several generations? MC: Yes, well he was born in ’21. (Note: Bill’s father was born here in 1895.)

GK: What was his first name?

MC: Bill

GK: Bill, Bill Cashman

MC: Yup, I don’t know where to go from there…

GK: Well the things you remember as a kid, you mentioned the playground, how about the playground, where Inn Yard is today?

MC: Oh my goodness, all the kids went there all summer long. Making pot holders, they had some kind of a program that the city paid for, where people came in and watched out for the kids and taught them how to make things like key rings.

GK: Key Fobs?

MC:Yeah, and pot holders and little keys you know.

GK: And this was run by the Parks and Recreation?

MC: Evidently.

GK: Ok.

MC: And then they would take them on little trips.  It was wonderful and it was sponsored by the city.

GK: And that was next to the firehouse on Ridge Avenue next to the firehouse?

MC: Yes, and then I only heard that because they called that the Inn Lot (i.e. Inn Yard).  There was an Inn there back in the day. But there was also an inn on Frederick Street where the parking lot is, again. And then there was a nice house on Frederick Street on the top of Eveline, do you remember that? (Note: the Deer Park Inn, originally the Mifflin Mansion)

GK: Yes I do, part of it.

MC: Yeah.

GK: How about going to Woodside Park?

MC: We walked to Woodside Park, with the kids.

GK: Now explain the Woodside Park was.

MC: Woodside Park was an amusement park; over in what was that part called?

GK: West Park I guess.

MC: The West Park Hospital.

GK: That’s right across the street.

MC: And then went to Crystal Pool there.

GK: Yeah, I heard about that.

MC: I was there, well they the wildcat and the tornado and the Lupa plane (Loop de Loop).

GK: Bumper cars, did they?

MC: Yeah, they had everything.  We would actually walk there from Manayunk – we didn’t have much money.

GK: When you were here in the Falls, did your kids go to Woodside Park?

MC: Yes, when they were in school.  That was where they had their yearly parties.

GK: Where did they go to school?

MC: St Bridget’s.

GK: Ok well then.

MC: St Bridget’s took the kids to Woodside for the school parties – the moms wheeling the babies that we had, two of my kids were older then the little ones. We would walk over the Falls Bridge over the Schuylkill River. And up through Chamounix, wherever that was, and there was a fountain there or probably a waterfall, probably still there.

GK: Yeah, it still runs.

MC:  Then when the kids were teenagers, they probably went there on their own.

GK: Yeah, that was before the expressway was built.

MC: Yeah, it’s a “Sure Kill” expressway.

GK: What about Crystal Pool?

MC: Crystal pool was across from the park; it was connected to the park.

GK: Was it in Fairmount Park?

MC: It was right across the street from Woodside Park.

GK: And what was it, Crystal Pool?

MC: It was just a swimming pool you paid to go to.  It wasn’t free; you paid to go.

GK: How about Gustine Lake, the pool up in the Gustine Lake?

MC: Definitely I went ice-skating there.

GK: Well where is Gustine Lake?

MC: Right there on Ridge Avenue near the water front.  Across from the there was an ice cream parlor, a big ice cream parlor and I can’t remember name of it.

GK: This is at Gustine Lake?

MC: Across the street from Gustine Lake on Ridge Avenue, right there.

GK: In East Falls?

MC:  Yeah, right there well there a creek and you cross Lincoln Drive there?

GK: Yes, yes.

MC: And then that’s where the ice cream parlor was – right now there’s a little fish store.

GK: Bob’s Bait and Tackle!

MC: Right, yeah.

GK: That’s before you cross the Wissahickon Creek, where the transfer station is?

MC: Yeah, we used to go canoeing on the creek, rent a canoe.

GK: Where would you rent a canoe?

MC: On the other side, on the other side down, like you walk down the creek. I don’t know exactly where the guys got the canoe.

GK: Ok, it was on Lincoln Drive I guess.

MC: On that side.

GK: How about when the projects where built?

MC: When the projects were built we were thrilled with them. We took the kids up there.

GK: What year was that?

MC: Oh, ’50 I guess.

GK: About 1950, ’48 ’50, something like that?

MC: Oh not ’48.

GK: Ok so it was in the early ‘50s

MC: It was early, because we took the babies up there and we looked at them and thought they were better then what we had.

GK: You mean the homes that were being built?

MC: Yes the homes that were being built were so nice, and it was brand new and then it turning into…

GK: Then it turned blight.

MC: Yeah, it turned into a dangerous place to be, but now it’s beautiful.

GK: Since they’ve taken the high-rise down.

MC: Yeah, in the high-rise even the elevators were bad, dangerous places to go.

GK: Sure.

MC: People around here lived there and had to put up with all the nonsense with the drugs and everything.

GK: And like you said when it was first erected it was beautiful.

MC: It was.

GK: It was for the lower income people

MC: The thing was, back then we were all lower income.  We were lower income, but everyone was evidently lower then we were.

GK: So the veterans coming from the war needed housing.

MC: Yes, but they also were given a certificate to buy a house.  We never used ours, we bought this house from a crook that after we gave him the down payment we had to fight for it because he couldn’t give us the goods. We had to get a lawyer to get this house, and believe it or not this house cost us $4,250.

GK:  And when was that?

MC: 1947,’48. Can you imagine, but my mother in-law, who lived a couple doors up, bought theirs for $3,300 and then after that it started going up until today actually in that crazy time when houses were going for crazy amounts of money, some of the house went for $238,000! And now what the houses are now, they want to raise them to what there were. We just got a paper saying it’s going to go up to $149,000.

GK: The reassessment, whether that will go through or not I don’t know.

MC: Did you put in an appeal?

GK: No, because I don’t believe in appeals, I believe that they are going to do what they are going to do and you don’t have any control over it what so ever. I don’t believe that, I don’t have too much time left to say what I believe. (haha) So I’m going to say what I think!

MC: That’s why we are here.

GK: Right.  Let’s say down on Allegheny, besides Fairmount Park, did you ever go down to the river? East River Drive? Did you ever attend any of the regatta?

MC: No, no we knew they were there but we never stood and watched them, no. We were stuck up on that street minding our kids.

GK: Did you have block parties here?

MC:Yes definitely, we had block parties. I told you we had block parties to raise money for the school.  That was the main reason we had block parties, otherwise…

GK: That’s St. Bridget’s School?

MC:Right, and because of that St. Bridget’s owns that school, or the people own that school, is that true?

GK: I’m not sure who owns it.

MC:Well that’s what I heard anyway.

GK: You mean the people own St Bridget’s?

MC:Yes, but I don’t know if that’s a fact or not because I’m sure the archdiocese would like to get a bit of it.

GK: But anyway, how about McMichael Park on Memorial Day?

MC:Oh my goodness, of course, the Fourth of July!

GK: Well what took place?

MC:We had wonderful picnics there, it was all set up. St. Bridget’s was in charge of it. We went there for the Fourth of July every year until…

GK: Whose we? Your kids?

MC:Yes, and all the parishioners because it was all set up that they had places you could buy stuff, buy soda and stuff, you know.  And they had games and everything for the kids. Then it got rowdy and evidently beer was brought into it, and Father Carton stopped it. Stopped it. The Fourth of July picnic at McMichael’s park stopped, because of drinking.

GK: And what year was that do you remember, approximately?

MC:About ’57, Father Carton went to Monaco, or Monaco or however you say it, when Grace Kelly…

GK: No, that was Father Kelly? No it wasn’t.

MC:No that was Father Carton.

GK: Oh did he?

MC:Father Kelly went for some other reason; he went to see her son and get him to come to the…. (Telephone ringing) Uh oh, going to have to get that because I’ll never make it. Hello, hi…

GK: What year was that?

MC:I guess around ’57, ’60 I really don’t know exactly.

GK: And that was because of them bringing alcoholic beverages into the park?

MC:Yeah, evidently there were fights.  There had to be a lot of turmoil for him to stop it, because that was it.

GK: Um, how about your husband, was he a veteran? Did he attend the Hattel-Taylor Club over here?

MC:Yes up at the corner, of Stanton and Fredrick. The Laudenback post.

GK: The Laudenback, right.

MC:Hattel-Taylors is in Roxborough.  This was the Laudenback Post.

GK: And that was veteran of __ am I correct?

MC: Yes I was the one who committed there for a long time, cooking, but you know with Helen Welsh who was my neighbor across the street…

GK: Yeah, Helen, sure…

MC: You know Helen, and Joe Welsh had the taproom down on Ridge, which was a decent taproom. It was, but it died, you know, there was a lot of guys…

GK: That was between Stanton and Frederick Street? On Ridge Avenue correct?

MC: No, it was between Eveline and Midvale. It changed hands several times since Joe died and is now not open at all. Because it went from the Gunboat, to the last one, the Pourhouse and because prices were so high, it wasn’t poor (haha). It’s a different word, it was a homonym. But then Joe Welsh had that place for a long time.

GK: How about Ridge and Midvale right there where the Major Wing Lee thing is there, do you remember?

MC: Yeah, it was a pharmacy.

GK: That was the name of it, “the pharmacy”?

MC: Ralph’s. I knew Ralph was a guy who worked there.  He might be a pharmacist.

GC: I think it was a little delicatessen, wasn’t it?

MC: Well it was an ice cream place, had an ice cream bar.

GK: Had a counter…

MC: Yeah, where they scooped out the ice cream…

GK: Soda fountain where you could get ice cream sodas. Next there was a little grocery store.

MC: Yes there was, Sam’s. Sam and Annie. A little tiny store was there. I think a doctor has it, Dr. Feelgood

GK: Has it now, I don’t know…

MC: I think so, where you can get whatever you want, drugs.

GK: Prescriptions you mean drugs?

MC: Yeah.

GK: Ok, so it’s a little doctor’s office where you can go and get treated?

MC: Yeah, I can’t remember his name. Joanne would remember but she’s not here to ask, but she would tell me that he’s still there.

GK: This is a physician you mean, a doctor, ok

MC: Don’t you know

GK: No I don’t think I remember.

MC: Do you remember Sam and Annie?

GK: Yeah, I remember Sam, yeah.

MC: There was an ACME on that street.

GK: Was that an ACME or was it a food thing or what was it?

MC: A Shop-and-Bag.

GK: That’s what it was, that was on Ridge Avenue?

MC: That was on Ridge Avenue, because it was right next to Sam and Annie’s. This was there store.

GK: This is where the Chinese restaurant is now, and that was the Shop and Bag?

MC: Well I’m not sure what it was called, but it was a supermarket. That was a long time ago, like I’ve said I’ve been here 66 years. I met my husband in ’42 and graduated in ’42, which was 70 years ago. I’m out of high school 70 years, amazing.

GK: What high school was it?

MC: Roxborough High. 

GK: You went to Roxborough? Ok

MC: Well I went to Holy Family for 10 years, because they had a commercial course and so when I finished the commercial…

GK: This was up in Manayunk

MC: Yeah, I was too young, I couldn’t get a job because you had to be 16 to get a job and I was only 15 so I went to Roxborourgh for 2 years and graduated when I was 17. That’s the year I met my husband and I didn’t get married until I was 21.

GK: Did he go to Roxborough?

MC: No, he was going to the service, he was in the service 3 ½ years in Hawaii and Japan. He came home in February of ’46 on the USS Hermitage, which is the street I lived on and he came home on that ship, is that amazing?

GK: Yeah, it is.

MC: Unusual, a little bit. So anyway I guess that’s about it. I don’t know anymore.

GK: Ok, what do you think the future looks for the Falls?

MC: Now that we don’t have our school, I don’t think it’s going to happen.

GK: What’s not going to happen?

MC: People weren’t going to move out, because we had a good school here.

GK: St Bridget’s, is that what you’re saying?

MC: Yes, I mean we still have a public school but I mean like, come on.

GK: Do you think the Thomas Mifflin School is a good school?

MC: Yes

GK: That’s a good school.

MC: I think it has become a good school, but I don’t think it was.

GK: But it had potential?

MC: Yes, well I think it’s really upgrading.

GK: Is it just the school, that the future looks weak?

MC: But the parishioners, I don’t know what percentage of East Falls is Catholic, I’m not sure but the people here want to send their kids to Catholic school and there isn’t any.

GK: You’re a practicing Catholic of St Bridget’s?

MC: Yes, well I was practicing.

GK: Well your health is, you can’t walk like you used to.

MC: No I can’t, but I’m still alive.

(both laugh)

GK: Well I would be interviewing you if you weren’t alive!

MC: Well you know what I mean, my spirit is alive.

GK: Yes I know, you have a good spirit, an indomitable spirit, that’s wonderful. But anyway I want to thank you for letting East Falls Historical Society come into your home. You’re a great host, you made me feel very comfortable.

MC: Well you’re more than welcome, you know that.

GK: Well we had a good interview and I will certainly let people know at the Historic Society.

MC: Very good Gus.