Interviewee: Eileen Flynn (EF) and Nancy Ann Sullivan (NS), sisters
Interviewers: Martie Ann (MAP) and Jeff Polaski (JP)
Date of Interview: February 2, 2014
Transcriber: Wendy Moody
JP: May I start? What this is - the Historical Society is interviewing people who have lived in the Falls mostly all their lives, and their parents before that, and in your case, your grandparents before that. And what we’re doing is recording for posterity, some of the notable things that you remember about East Falls. It’s about East Falls, but East Falls during certain times. I’ll ask some questions, but first I have to ask some questions to fill out a form – I’m going to use the same form for both of you.
To introduce, this is an interview of Nancy Sullivan and Eileen Sullivan Flynn. Flynn with two “n’s. Martie Ann Polaski and Jeff Polaski are doing the interview. Today is the second of February, 2014, and your address is?
NS: 3518 Ainslie Street.
JP: And where were you born?
NS: 3406 Vaux Street. At home. In the house.
JP: Both of you?
EF: Yup. All six of us. That’s when mothers were first having their babies being born in the hospital. That was something new. Her first one was born in the hospital and did not live – she would not go back.
MAP: That was the end of it…
EF: That was the end of her – she had the rest of us at home.
JP: So that was the first…
NS: Sometimes she probably wished she had gone back to the hospital.
MAP: Do you remember the others being born at home?
EF: The baby came before the doctor! Aunt Jennie lived down the street so we went to visit her.
NS: Well I didn’t because I was next to the youngest.
JP: Well, who are the other four?
NS: There were six of us all together. One died.
JP: So the order in which you were born….the oldest….?
EF: The oldest would be Edward.
NS: Then Eileen, then sister Claire.
MAP: What year was Edward born?
EF: 1929? I was 1930, I know that.
NS: He’s a year younger than your Ed. About 14 months apart.
JP: After Ed…?
NS: Then after Ed came Eileen, 1930. And then Sister Claire – she was just 80 this year so we have to count backwards…then my brother Joe who was born in 1933, I was born in ’35, and sister Marie in ’37.
MAP: So that’s over ten years.
JP: Eileen, you were born October 29, 1930 and Nancy you were born September 29, 1935.
NS: I’m five years and one month younger than her to the day.
JP: What were your parent’s names?
NS: Edward and Frances.
JP: Frances with an “e”?
NS: With an E. She never liked her name.
JP: Sullivan…. Who were your grandparents?
NS: John and Bridget Tyrrell. 2 R’s and 2 L’s. Not related to the one “r”.
JP: And the spelling of Bridget?
NS: Bridget Cassidy Tyrrell.
JP: Where were they born?
NS: They were born in Ireland. My grandfather in Dublin and my grandmother in County Mere, Chestertown.
JP: Do you know when they came over?
NS: 1886. Election Day.
MAP: When was that?
NS: I’m assuming in November.
JP: Did they come to the Falls?
NS: Yes, directly to East Falls.
MAP: How did they know about the Falls?
JP: Your mother was born in Philadelphia.
JP: And your father was born in Philadelphia?
JP: And your church affiliation is St. Bridget’s.
JP: For how many years?
NS: Since 1886. The whole family.
JP And since you were born on Vaux Street… since you were born, for each of you.
MAP: How about your father?
NS: My father was born in Kensington, as we said. His mother, which we’re not really allowed to talk about, because she was born on English soil. She never forgave her mother for allowing her to be born on English soil.
EF: She was very bitter about that because she was Irish. She was the youngest of ten children and her mother did not make it back to the border, into Ireland, before she was born. So she was the only one born on English soil and she neverforgave her mother.
NS: But you see at that time, her mother – my great-grandmother – she lived in a little town in England that was very anti-Irish. That was the problem in most of England in those days. And she said she did not want any of her children being born on English soil because of the times. But unfortunately she didn’t make it. She didn’t know the 10thone would come so fast! (laughter) His father died in…
MAP: But he lived in Kensington. And so how did your parents meet?
NS: My parents met through my Uncle Jim. My mother’s brother-in-law. She was a friend of my father’s. And he had a garage over at 30th and Allegheny. 30th and Torresdale, actually. And my father used to take his car over there to be fixed, to be serviced, when he was working. My father had a car before most people did. I don’t know how he knew Jim Durkin or if it was just coincidence. They are related to the Durkin’s who do a lot of stuff down at St. Bridget’s. My Uncle Jim Durkin’s father, Patrick Durkin, was an uncle to the Durkin’s here. His name is Jim also.
MAP: And Tim lives on Penn Street.
JP: I call them the Grubs because they’re always digging over there.
NS: Oh yeah! That’s a good name. I don’t really know them. I met them a couple of times and of course I say hello to them in church. But they don’t really know too much about the Durkin family, nor do I.
JP: Where did you go to school?
NS: St. Bridget’s, where else?
JP: And you went there for how many years?
NS: Well the school opened built in 1898, no 1888. My mother went to St. Bridget. I went for 8 years.
JP: And afterwards, did you go anywhere?
NS: Four years to Hallahan.
MAP: That’s what girls did. That’s what girls did.
NS: My mother went there also.
MAP: Was there any question as to whether or not your parents lived in East Falls?
NS: No, not that I know of…
MAP: You mean, if he was marrying her, he was coming here… They usually married in the bride’s parish and went to where the bride’s house was unless there were mitigating circumstances.
JP: When you were in school, did you play any sports? Were there sports at the time?
NS: Not really. There was a schoolyard with dirt, rock and cinders. It’s where the school is now – that was the schoolyard. You would skin your knee.
NS: Oh yes, recess.
JP: Any organized games?
NS: Not that I know. The only kind of organized anything you had was the 6th grade teacher, Sister Rosalita. There were all nuns, no lay teachers. She would play baseball with the boys on Stanton Street – I remember that. She was rough and tough. She was good. She was the only girl with a large family in Ireland.
JP: Were there any clubs after school or after you graduated school? Did you belong to any associations? Clubs?
EF: Not really, only things at church. We played bingo.
MAP: Where did you play bingo?
EF: In the school hall when it opened.
MAP: Was it St. Bridget bingo?
NS: Yeah, on Friday nights.
JP: Did other people come?
NS: Oh yeah, anybody was welcome.
JP: How big were the pots?
NS: Not much; I don’t remember.
MAP: Do you remember what it cost?
NS: Probably 10 cents a game. 10 cents a card or three for a quarter.
MAP: I remember that. Bingo was 3 for a quarter.
JP: And when you went to work after your schooling, where did you work?
NS: I worked for a clothing manufacturer.
JP: Ok. Eileen?
EF: I worked in a bank. It never brought us any money…
MAP: They didn’t give samples…
JP: I worked in a bank and they wouldn’t let me in the basement. Which clothing manufacturer?
NS: It was called Style Craft.
JP: Style Craft?
NS: Style Craft Frocks.
JP: And where was that?
NS: 1427 Vine Street, which is now a medical building for Hahnemann Hospital. The only building with over two floors still standing between Broad and Vine.
JP: Is it still there?
NS: Oh yeah, the building is still there. It’s a medical building now. It had one elevator that was a cage you could see in. Steps went up around.
JP: How long did you work for them?
NS: I worked there for 17 years and then they sold the company and moved to Hatboro, so I went in Hatboro for another 17 years.
JP: Same company?
NS: Well, new owners. I can’t remember the name, but it was the same thing, a clothing manufacturer.
JP: How did you get to Hatboro?
NS: I bought a car and drove. I learned to drive – I was in my 30’s. I had no desire to drive – I lived half a block from a train. Two blocks from buses on either end – why use a car?
JP: Eileen, how long did you work for the bank when you didn’t get any money from them?
EF: Not very long. I met Edward when I was still in school. He lived on Stanton Street. He went to St. John’s High School in Manayunk but he lived in the Falls.
MAP: So you didn’t know him until high school or you knew him most of your life?
EF: I probably knew some of the family. He had a big family. He went to St. Bridget’s grammar school.
JP: When did you get married?
EF: A long time ago.
JP: A long time ago…
EF: ’51. 1951.
MAP: Where did boys usually go to high school? Was this unusual?
EF: They usually went to Roman. If you lived in St. Bridget parish, you went to Roman. You didn’t usually change parish, but if you wanted to go to St. John’s you could. St. John’s wasn’t considered a dioceses school, I don’t think. I’m not sure of that.
MAP: So you married an older man?
EF: Two years older.
MAP: So in ‘51 you were about 20?
JP: How many children did you have? All those hooks!
EF: My son Jim did that. I had 11 children.
JP: You had 11 children. Do you remember all the names?
EF: I might (laughter)… Edward, Jim, Eileen, Claire, Bill, Catherine, Joseph, Paul, John, Ann Marie, and David.
MAP: That’s a lot of names to come up with. And they all went to St. Bridget too?
EF: No, some went to Archbishop Ryan’s School for the Deaf in West Philadelphia.
MAP: But the rest went to St. Bridget?
JP: And when school let out, what did you do?
NS: What did I do?
JP: What time did school let out?
JP: And at 3 o’clock?
EF: Went out with your friends, played ball, roller skate, ride your bike, jump rope…
JP: Where did you roller skate?
NS: Up and down the hills of East Falls.
JP: On the street?
NS: Well, there were cars, but not like there are now…
JP: What kind of skates did you have? The kind with the strap on?
NS: Yeah, and if you lost your roller skate key, you couldn’t loosen or tighten them or get them on at all.
JP: Which shoes did you use?
EF: Not your school shoes…
NS: You’d use your old school shoes that were already beat up. Until the soles start coming off…
JP: I understand that.
NS: You’d walk along with the thing flapping! (laughter)
MAP: Were the streets paved?
NS: Well it was cobblestones. Not good for a bike.
JP: Which street?
EF: Ainslie. My father used to drive down to school when it rained and when we asked him to come here (Ainslie) he said no. He tried it a few times and said “No! I’m not driving on that street!” And the next thing you know, we moved here! 1940 is when he died. He lived with those cobblestones.
JP: Where did you skate?
NS: On the sidewalk or on Cresson.
JP: Those streets were paved?
NS: Yeah. They paved the street shortly after they took the gas lamps out. It was the worst thing they ever did - removing the gas lamps.
JP: When did they change those?
NS: I don’t really know. Probably in the late 40s.
MAP: After the war?
NS: No, because when they had an air raid drill and you had to turn your lights off, they had to turn off each one of them.
MAP: So who did that?
JP: Did they have a ladder? A crosspiece?
NS: Yeah, they had a lobe (?). They doused it like you would a candle.
JP: When they replaced them, did they convert them or replace them?
NS: They took them out.
JP: They took them out?
EF: And when we used to have the air raid wardens and air raid drills, you had to shut all the lights off, including the ones in the street and the ones in the house. And we sat. Do you see the back stairs out there? Ours was enclosed and we’d sit there.
JP: How often did they have drills?
NS: Not a whole lot. Maybe twice a month.
MAP: That’s a lot.
JP: And how long did they last?
EF: Maybe an hour. I couldn’t honestly say.
JP: And was there any other responsibility other than turning out the lights?
NS: No, not for us, unless you worked. My grandfather was one of the air raid wardens.
JP: And what did he do?
NS: Well he’d go down the street and see if he could see any lights from anybody’s house. My grandfather was good for that – “Turn those lights off!” My grandfather was a staunch Irishman.
MAP: On this street, who turned the gas lights off?
NS: Well, the lamplighter couldn’t come around to get them all.
EF: Yeah, they did. They had districts.
MAP: During the air raid?
NS: During the air raid too. But there were a lot of people who volunteered.
JP: What else, about the time during the war? You had rationing?
JP: What did they ration?
NS: Food – meat, sugar, butter, most of the staples. Gas. We had ration stamps.
EF: We had six kids in the family so we got more stamps than somebody who had one child. Every person got a book.
JP: Every person got a book, so if you had rationed butter, could you use something else instead?
NS: Oh yeah. Margarine, oleo!
JP: How did that work for you?
EF: Ugh, we got a bag of white gook. Some stuff that was yellow that was supposed to look like butter. It was ok for cooking, I guess. I never went hungry that’s for sure. The thing was, with the ration stamps, every member of the household – during the Second World War we were 10 people in the house – 6 children, my parents and my grandparents. We were 10 people and each person got a ration book. Who could afford all that food? You couldn’t afford to buy all that food. What they used to do was share the stamps with other people which was technically against the law. That was the advantage, too, of your neighborhood grocer because he knew everybody. There was a couple – I only remember this from my mother telling it – but there was an older couple who lived up in 3400 Ainslie which meant they got 2 books. That didn’t allow them much
butter or sugar. We had ten books in our house. Who’s going to use all this? So through the grocer who actually never told you who any of these people were – you would give him your sugar stamps or your butter stamps and he would give them to them and they could buy, so they could get enough.
JP: So he was kind of like a broker?
EF: Yeah, he was wonderful. It didn’t mean a thing to him - he just wanted to help the people and because they were customers!
JP: Where was that store?
NS: Right next to where the real estate office is now on the corner of Ainslie and Conrad. Right next to it is a little apartment house. Well that was Caldwell’s Grocery. But that street along there had another grocery store on the next block and another on the next block because most people didn’t have cars.
JP: So that grocery store, Caldwell’s, wasn’t on the corner.
NS: No, no it was next to the shoemaker.
JP: It was next to the shoemaker on the corner.
NS: Sam Polis. When you were a kid you could stand on the corner look through the window and watch him repair the shoes. He had his machinery right on the Ainslie Street side of the shop and he sat there sewing the shoes. And you’d stand there and watch him….putting the soles on and whatever.
MAP: Did he make shoes?
NS: Probably did, but I don’t know.
JP: I’m trying to remember where the door is on that corner store. Right on the corner?
NS: Yes, right where it is now.
JP: Was the door set in a diagonal?
JP: And the corner of the building had a pole there?
NS: I don’t remember. There isn’t a pole there now.
MAP: What was the real estate, Petrone’s, then?
NS: That was the shoemaker. And it was something else for a while, I don’t remember what.
MAP: That was a big store for a shoemaker.
EF:Well, yeah. That whole row – there were stores all along there. There was a butcher shop, a grocery store. Most people did not have cars.
MAP: So the grocery store was mostly dry goods?
EF: No. They had some vegetables - not a lot. They also drove down the street and yelled “Joe Parks.”
JP: Joe Parks. What did he call?
NS: Jooooe Paarrks!!! Joooooe Parrrks! And you’d run out and buy your fresh vegetables. (Laughter) When Joe Parks father – he was the one who originally came around in a horse and cart. My father had a car and that was a great thing. We had a car. If it rained he’d pile them in the car – 4 in a row and sideways. Whatever. As many as he could jam in the car. He’d go up Skidoo and across the bridge. And he’d get near the corner and yell “Everybody lean to the right!” and some other places he’d yell “Everybody lean to the left!”
JP: How was gas stamps, gas rationing handled?
NS: Well, you had your ration stamps which people used. Now people could get gas every other day. Monday, Wednesday, Friday with license plates ending with numbers so and so, and Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday with numbers so and so. In those days, most places were closed on Sundays so you didn’t have to worry about that.
JP: Did the ration books include gasoline?
NS: Oh yeah.
JP: All ten of them?
NS: No, gas rationing was separate.
JP: Separate, so that was for each car.
EF: Right. And my father used the car a lot because he was in business in Mayfair. People would give him some stamps. Elderly people who just used the car to go to the store and back - they would have stamps left over.
JP: What was he doing?
EF: He installed oil burners in Mayfair.
JP: I was born in 1947 in South Philly and, excuse me, it wasn’t until ‘52 that we went to Mayfair.
EF: The radio announcer, he was very, very funny – he was born in South Philly and he used to say “I went from welfare to Mayfair!” (laughter)
JP: You don’t remember what station that was?
EF: Not offhand. I think WPEN.
JP: How many stations were there?
NS: There were a good many. Of course that was when I was older, not when I was a little kid. When WWII ended I was only 10 so I don’t remember a lot but I do remember going to the shoe store with the ration books and getting shoes.
MAP: Was that the shoe store here?
EF: No, it was the shoe store around the corner on New Queen Street. There was one up here too.
NS: They were repair shops. Sam Polis. We used to go up to Roxborough – Ridge Avenue. My cousin worked in a shoe store right up near Leverington Avenue – I know exactly where it was. He took ration stamps but another thing was with the times with my father – because my father used his car for his livelihood he could get stamps. If you had a business where you had to use your car all the time – and of course he did - he still had to get stamps for it but for some people who didn’t use their cars much, friends, they would give him stamps. People shared their stamps. You weren’t supposed to do it.
MAP: Was Conrad Market open at the time?
NS: There was a market there but it wasn’t called Conrad’s. I forget what it was called. There was Caldwell’s which was here. Then at the corner of Sunnyside and Conrad was “Fitzie’s” - John Fitzgerald’s (?) candy store. And on the other side of Sunnyside – it’s now that exercise joint – what do you call it? Therapy! That was a hardware store. Next to that was Sowden’s Market, which is where the laundromat is now. Now Sowden’s Market – I’m not sure if they took up two stores because there were stores there – the laundromat and the flower shop – East Falls Flower Shop is there now. And in there was Sowden’s Market. That was there for years.
JP: What was the name of it?
EF: S-O-U-D-E-N or S-O-W-D-E-N. That was the people’s (owners) name.
MAP: Would you go to one market most of the time?
NS: Oh yeah, you walked everywhere.
MAP: I wanted to know if you would go to one market or if you would go to all of them?
EF: No, you went to just one. And they came down the street everyday with fresh produce.
JP: In a car or truck?
NS: In a horse and wagon.
MAP: Even Joe Parks Junior?
NS: Yeah. He had the same route every day I guess. He had refrigeration. That was a big deal. A generator, I assume.
EF: In the war, there were shortages of oil and gas.
JP: Who else used horse-drawn wagons?
NS: The hucksters.
EF: People came to town with clothes. The ragman.
JP: Buying used clothes?
NS: No, I mean rags. They gathered the rags and sold the rags. The money - most went to the troops. Recycle. A big thing now.
MAP: Did they pay you for your rags?
NS: No. You put them out like you put out your trash.
JP: Were they collecting anything else for the war?
EF: Aluminum. Always aluminum. You couldn’t always get it.
EF: You had that in a separate bucket.
MAP: How about garbage? Did you put garbage out?
NS: Yes. Tuesday and Friday were garbage days and Monday was trash day.
MAP: Did farmers come?
NS: Farmers came and took the garbage and fed it to the animals. They did that for 150 years and nobody died of food poisoning. But, today, G-d forbid, you eat something that sat out for an hour….
EF: We had ration stamps for meat. If you had a big family with many children, like we did, you had a lot of stamps and couldn’t afford to buy all that food. But if you had a house with a number of adults it was hard and you would make due. Or get stamps from someone else.
MAP: Did you sled a lot?
EF: “Up the Nuts”
MAP: And where are The Nuts?
EF: Next to the library, near the university. You’d go down the hill and be on Warden Drive.
MAP: Were you allowed to go (sled) down Midvale Avenue?
NS: I guess people did; but we never sled there. There were trolley tracks, Belgian blocks.
MAP: How about on the sidewalk?
NS:No, you didn’t sled there.
JP: You sledded where the university was?
NS: We called it “The Nuts” because there was a hospital there with nutty people called Rose Neath.
MAP: Oh really! Rose Neath - how do you spell that?
NS: The people there were rather wealthy, like relatives of the Kelly’s. I didn’t know until years later that it was a mental hospital. The people who were in there had a lot of money and were mostly alcoholics. The rich and the famous - and that’s why we call it “The Nuts.” The people were nuts.
MAP: What was that building like? Like an institution?
NS: We never went near it. It was right where Ravenhill was. Right next to Ravenhill. I didn’t know what was there then. I don’t know how much of Ravenhill was there then. All I remember is that if you went over Calumet and then went up Dobson, you could see the cattle up there. They had live animals there.
JP: Whose animals were they?
EF: They belonged to Ravenhill. I don’t remember anything about them, except the cows being milked - that was pretty neat. There were a lot of fun things to do around here.
NS: I was just going to say - we didn’t have many organized playgrounds.
JP: We moved here more recently, but there was a movie theatre?
NS: Oh yeah, the Alden. It’s where the bank is now. Before that, it was right across the street from where McIlvaine’s is. There was a movie theatre there. When they built the Alden movie - that was a big deal. They invited the adults in the Falls to come in to view a movie in the new Alden Theatre, and they invited all the children to the old theatre where they had a movie to entertain them so the parents could go and see the new theatre.
JP: That’s the building that was a social service agency?
NS: That’s correct.
JP: So that was built specifically as a movie theatre?
NS: Right. But at that time McIlvaine’s wasn’t where it is now. It was over where the firehouse is.
JP: Was there another firehouse anywhere else?
NS: I don’t remember. I don’t think so. We just didn’t have fires.
MAP: So did you go to the movies often?
NS: I did, she didn’t.
JP: How much did they cost?
NS: A quarter, yeah.
JP: What did you like best in the movies?
NS: Me? The cartoons probably. I was a kid!
MAP: Did your parents go?
MAP: Because they didn’t like them, or because it was expensive?
NS: Because they were busy! And we were living in the Depression.
MAP: I hear stories about movie theatres offering dishes to keep the housewives coming.
NS: Yeah! I remember going down on Tuesday night at 7o’clock - that’s when they gave out the dishes. You’d get out a little before 8. That’s when I was in high school. And my next door neighbor –across the street - she would come out of the church and hustle or rustle up Midvale Avenue to get up to the movie in time to get her free dish on Tuesday evening. And I know some people still have them. I know people who still have them. They call them “movie dishes.”
JP: Movie dishes.
NS: They were nice dishes.
MAP: I was just going to say, what did they look like?
NS: They were too busy for what I like, but it would be like getting something like that (points). That was my grandmother’s - she brought that from England.
JP: Looks like a Delft.
NS: Probably. You see our grandparents – they were not married when they lived in Ireland. They were children when they came to England. They didn’t have problems like my father’s mother did with living in England because they lived in Liverpool, and Liverpool was a big metropolis in the 1800s. But they did not know each other when they moved to England.
My grandfather was from Dublin and my grandmother was from County Mayo. My grandfather was 9; my grandmother was 7 or 6 or something. They met and married in England. But my uncle, who was born in Ireland – no he was born in England - the older children were all born in England - he always said he came from Ireland by way of England. He never said he came from England. If you asked him where he was from, he’d say he was from Ireland by way of England. Or England by way or Ireland… I don’t know.
JP: Ireland by way of England.
NS: Yeah, my parents were born in Ireland.
JP: Did you have a lot of yard sales?
NS: We had yard sales for 30 years. And it ended at St. Bridget’s in 2005.
JP: Oh I know. I bought a camera there.
NS: Yeah, 30 years we had yard sales.
MAP: So let me just back up. So when your grandparents came from Ireland, by way of England, and they came right directly to the Falls, who was here in the Falls? How did they hear about the Falls?
NS: My grandmother’s brother, John Cassidy. On (?) Street. And how I know – a lot of this history we know from my mother. Of course her parents lived with her until they died. Some of my mother’s sisters, nieces, and nephews – they don’t know half of the history of the family because they didn’t live with them. I’ve spoken to my cousin recently and she never knew my grandmother and grandfather were not married when they moved to England. She assumed they got married in Ireland. They were little kids when they came to England but she never knew that. Well why would she unless her mother told her? But anyway I strayed….what …
MAP: John Cassidy.
NS: John Cassidy. And now I know they came on Election Day, because John Cassidy had voted for the first time as a citizen of a new country. It was a big thing.
MAP: Oh wow, how long had he been here?
NS: That I don’t know, but he had been here several years.
MAP: Enough years to be naturalized.
NS: I don’t know how long then it took to become a citizen.
JP: Did you say what he did for a living?
NS: John Cassidy? No, we don’t know.
JP: What did your neighbors do? Where did they work? Did they travel far?
NS: Probably not. The man right across the street from us – Foyles.
EF: A friend of mine worked in a factory sewing clothes. Chris Chioci’s father.
JP: And that was nearby?
NS: Yeah, a lot of people worked nearby. They walked to work.
JP: The factories were here.
EF: Yeah. There were factories along the Ridge.
JP: Along the Ridge.
MAP: Did many people work in the factories? I guess they must have.
NS: I imagine.
EF: When I was a kid I’d work anywhere.
NS: Right across the street from us were the Barlows - a man – there were 2 men and one woman who lived in that house. The woman was Alice Barlow and it was her brother and brother-in-law who lived in the house with her. The three of them. Their name was Barlow and the brother-in-law was Marlow. He worked for the city – Mr. Marlow – I don’t know what the other two did, they were older –probably retired, not working anymore. I know Mrs. Barlow used to sit in the window and watch what everybody did.
MAP: And you didn’t want to do anything under her gaze!
JP: Did she have a mirror???
MAP: She didn’t need one!!!
NS: Right next to her was the Foyles. He worked for the City. He had a good job with the City and his wife stayed home. They had the mother-in-law with them. Rose. And down the street was his brother-in-law – their name was Franklin. He also worked for the City. I don’t especially remember too much about them, but both the Foyles and Franklins had Irish setters. And Father Corcoran who was at St. Bridget at the time – he had an Irish setter. They used to walk the dogs together.
MAP: The three of them?
NS: Yeah. When these houses were built, the people who lived in them were mostly the higher- uppers of the mills.
JP: Where did the workers live?
NS: All around.
JP: The people who had stores – the grocer, the shoemaker, did they live above the stores?
NS: Some of them did, yeah. Some of them had other homes and, like I said, the Caldwell’s who had a store up here – his brother Ed had a store where the Tilden Market is now. So the people from Vaux Street, they went to the Tilden Market. We went to Caldwell’s Market. We went to the closest market. There were a lot of markets.
JP: Tilden Market. What was that…?
NS: That was a drug store. A little pharmacy. Tilden Pharmacy.
JP: Did you know Harry Prime?
NS: Oh yeah, sure. He lived on Bowman Street right where the restaurant is now –Epi…?
NS: He lived there.
MAP: He said he worked in the dry goods part when he was kid.
NS: Uh huh. When we were kids you could go to a store a block away – almost every block had stores, you walked everywhere.
EF: And my father had a car. That was a big deal that we had a car. Like we were rich.
JP: Midvale Avenue had a trolley?
NS: Oh yes. The 52. You’d get on that and go to Germantown.
JP: Or South Philly.
NS:No. This was only on Midvale Avenue. From Ridge and Midvale to Chelten – not Chelten, the street past Chelten - about 3 miles all the way out.
JP: Were there any other trolley routes?
NS: Yeah, the 61 on Ridge. That became a trolley car that became a trackless trolley years later.
MAP: How about Henry Avenue?
NS: Henry Avenue was always buses, from what I remember.
MAP: Was Henry Avenue always a big street?
NS: Probably. Because it was a main thoroughfare going from Roxborough over to Allegheny Avenue. It ended at Allegheny Avenue.
MAP: I remember once, not too many years ago, there was a … I don’t know if it was 4thof July or Memorial Day. We started at the park and then walked down to the river. And I think one of you was telling me about the 4th of July picnic.
NS: Yeah, they were great! Each church had their own.
JP: Where did you (St. Bridget) have it?
NS: McMichael Park. We were the largest church and had more people than anybody. Most of the others most likely had them at their church area.
EF: Most of them had them on their grounds around their church.
MAP: Did you go to each other’s picnics or stay to yourselves?
NS: Stayed to themselves.
JP: So every year you had the 4th of July, and every year you had the yard sale –
NS: That was later. We didn’t start the yard sales until the 80s.
MAP: What about Memorial Day?
NS: Memorial Day they had a parade but we didn’t walk in it necessarily. They had the bands and they went down to the river and they put a wreath on the river. They fired shots across the river with the echo coming back. On the west side.
JP: And could you hear the echo coming back?
NS: Oh yeah.
JP: How about the poor people on the other side pf the river when they fired the shots…
EF: Also with the closing of school for the summer, all of the school kids came and walked down and across the river and back and walked over to Woodside. All the school kids went.
MAP: Just the St. Bridget kids?
NS: Yes. Other schools came too, but not with us.
JP: Along with the 4th of July picnic, were there any other annual things that you did?
EF: The walk to Woodside was a big thing.
JP: Christmas Mass? What time of day was that? 5am?
NS: Yes. They didn’t have Mass on Christmas Eve. There was a Midnight Mass.
MAP: But not for kids.
NS: No. Because when we would go, we’d go to the 5 o’clock mass in the morning, because at that time then, Ed and Eileen had children and they’d work on the platforms and trains, go to mass and then get the kids up.
JP: What kind of train set did you have? Lionel?
NS: At that time, yeah.
EF: I still have them up at Christmas.
JP: Not American Flyer?
NS: She may have. She has 4 or 5 sets. People have given them to her over the years.
MAP: I remember seeing a photo of soldiers on the lawn of St. Bridget in front of the new church. Do you remember that?
MAP: Was that annual?
EF: I don’t know.
NS: I think it was the VFW - down at Ridge and Midvale.
MAP: So they’d come up and maybe have a mass or something and take a picture? Was that an annual event?
EF: That was before I remember. Second World War time. I was only 10 or so I don’t remember. The only thing I remember about that – the day I got word the war ended – my mother was in the kitchen washing dishes– she was standing at the sink and I was there and they announced the war had ended. She just dropped everything.
MAP: And what happened?
EF: Everyone went to church. Sure.
MAP: Were there many people in the service in the neighborhood?
NS: Oh yeah. They had the draft; they had to go. Relatives, cousins. I was a kid so I don’t remember that, but yes, there were a lot.
MAP: How about May Processions?
NS: Oh yes.
JP: Where did they process?
NS: We processed from the school – the old school. We came out of the school on Stanton Street, down the side yard, down the iron steps which aren’t there anymore, and through what is now the wall and the rectory if the weather was bad. Out to Midvale, down Midvale Avenue, up the long steps in front of the church and into the church. If the weather was bad, we went in the side door of the church, actually if the weather was real bad, you came out the door – where you come from making sandwiches – out that door, right across from it was the door that went into the basement of the old church, and you went through there and you came out on the landing where the door is now that would go out to the convent. We went through that landing, down the steps, and into the door that now leads to the bathroom and into the church. We walked down the sides and into the back.
MAP: And was this just the St. Bridget School children?
MAP: Were there high schools?
NS: No, not at that time.
MAP: What did you wear?
NS: White dresses.
MAP: Even the 8thgrade?
NS: Everybody wore white dresses. Some wore gloves but that was optional.
JP: Well, I have instructions to try to keep this down to an hour. I was wondering if maybe we could do this again? Would that be alright with you?
NS: Sure. Anytime. You can tell we’re not bashful and we love talking about East Falls.
Father Kelly was here once and he said that one time he was in the rectory and he had had an auditor who said to him as he was checking things over, he said: “You know, on your Sunday counters, you are not to have two counters on the same day who are related to each other. “ To which Father Kelly said “Hell! Do you know this parish! Everybody’s related to everybody.” No such thing as finding two people who aren’t related!
JP: Including these two here.
NS: We counted together. And before that Teresa and Marty Corcoran - they counted collection every Sunday for a hundred years - just the two of them, husband and wife. They were in the rectory counting until somebody came to help them after a number of years. That’s when Father Cartland (?) was there. That was a long time ago. Nobody ever thought anything of it. Whatever.
MAP: You had honest people.
NS: Well that was the thing. Nobody’s going to take anything. First of all, you wouldn’t take a thing from the church because you might drop dead before you left. It just wasn’t done. It just never entered your mind.to steal something from the church.
JP: G-d bless you.
NS: We thought before you got down the front steps, you’d fall and break your leg.! We thought that when we were little. (laughter).
NS: And I remember when my father was working down there and he used to empty the box in which the donations were…
MAP: The poor box.
NS: He would go downstairs and empty the poor box. And at one point there was hardly anything in it for a while – he couldn’t figure it out…
Interviewee: Robert Freed (RF) – Historian, old Academy Playhouse
Interviewer: Ellen Sheehan (ES)
Date of Interview: March 26, 2009
ES: Bob, I would like to ask you about growing up, where were you born, what section of the city?'
BF: I was born in Logan but grew up in Germantown. 1 went to Immaculate Conception grade school and I lived at 5342 Wingohocking Terrace. 1 had an older brother and sister, both of whom are now deceased. My father was Raymond and my mother was Kathleen Gallagher. I attended Northeast High School and LaSalle College and received my masters from University of Penn.
ES: Bob, tell me about your acting career. When did you become interested in acting?
BF: Actually the very first was in grammar school. We used to have a parish musical on St. Patrick's Day, Minstrel shows, and I appeared in a couple of those. Then in High School at Northeast I was on loan to Little Flower and St. Hubert's. The way 1 got involved in Old Academy was directly from that because there was a women named Emily Chinnery Pierve, who lived on W. Chelten Ave., in a big old house, and she took care of older people or something. In retrospect, I don't think she took care of them too well, but she was a nice lady and she called us at school and was looking for actors for a play she had written. Fr. O’Connor sent myself and a couple of others from the drama group over to Mr. Pierce. She had written a play called "The Witch of Hogstown." Again she was a nice lady but a bit eccentric. We were in awe because she told us of all these elaborate plans that were going to happen and that we were on our way to Broadway and we were excited because we were kids and we went into rehearsal for this show. I played Billy Hall, the all-American boy in "The Witch of Hogstown." But at that same time she had also called Old Academy and several people from Old Academy came over to be in this play of hers. Two of them were, Jean Shaefhauser and Ida Smith, who was a Charter member of Old Academy. Delightful-woman, very short and so nice and she got us involved at Old Academy. This "Witch of Hogstown" never came off and she wrote a number of other plays. It sort of petered out because it became apparent that it was all in her head. She rented out to the Pennypack Theater, way up in the Northeast and we were doing plays up there. It was a dilapidated old theater with a hole in the roof and it was pouring rain and nobody showed up. No customers showed, so that was kind of the end of that.
I went over to Old Academy and I saw quite a few of their shows over there, but I was going to College the next year, so I got involved in the “Masque" at LaSalle, so 1 really didn't do anything at Old Academy. It wasn't until 1 got out of college that 1 joined Old Academy. I did shows at LaSalle, 1 did "Babes in Arms," "The Male Animal," "A Midsummer's Night Dream," and 'Winterset”.
ES: When did you join Old Academy?
BF: What year? 1957.
ES: Are you presently the longest continuously active member of Old Academy?
BF: Freda Gowling is.
ES: Bob, tell us about your first play at Old Academy.
BF: Well, I joined the Old Academy in January, 1957. The first show 1 was in was April. It was "The Torch Bearers" and was directed by Tommy Phayre and written by George Kelly. Of course, the Kellys had a big connection with Old Academy. The people here were very nice, the cast, Cece Jones, Ida Smith was in it too. They had done it twice before over the years and this was the third time they did it. They did a lot of the Kelly shows. After that the show right after that I was in was the first time we did "The Mouse Trap."I was in that, it was directed by Cece Jones. Then the next season 1 was in "Mrs. Moonlight." It was not one of our big successes. I acted in usually two or three a year.
ES: Tell us about the Kellys. You are speaking of the playwright here.
BF: One of his play was "The Torchbearers."
ES: Did you do any other of his shows?
BF: No, actually that was the last time they did one of his shows here. But they had previously done "Craig's Wife."Years later they did "The Fatal Weakness" which had Pat McCauley and Don LeVine, who was Lizanne Kelly's husband, were in that but they bad previously done "Craig's Wife" and also several times they did "The Showoff," the play that Kelly won the Pulitzer Prize for.
ES: Did you ever act with any of the Kellys?
BF: Yes, I was in "The Critic's Choice" and Lizanne Kelly LeVine was my ex-wife in it. I was a theater critic, my current wife in the play had written a play and through my ethics decided to review it and 1 gave it a bad review. It's a comedy. My ex-wife was the bitchy type who came in and decided to make trouble.
ES: Was her husband in that show?
BF: No, I was never in a show with Don, just Lizanne.
ES: Now, they both acted here?
BF: Yes, quite a bit. Lizanne. From early girlhood she was in "The Philadelphia. Story" and "Light Up the Sky." After "The Critic’s Choice" she was in "Mary, Mary" and several others. Don did even more shows that she did. He was in "A Thousand Clowns"and "Sunday in New York," "Come Back Little Sheba," "Bus Stop."
ES: Did they meet here?
BF: No. I'm not sure where they met. When they did "The Moon is Blue" together, they were still engaged. That was 1955, and that was the last time her sister, Grace Kelly was at Old Academy. She came to see them in that show. And this was just after she had won the Academy Award. She did take an interest in the club. She donated money and sent us a telegram thanking us for our congratulatory note when she won the Academy Award. Don came down once and said that Grace was at the house and really wanted to come down but her schedule was so tight that she really couldn't. The Old Academy usually gets mentioned in her biographies, because this is where she started. They must have a real thing for her in Japan because four separate filming companies carne from Japan to film us along with other companies, a British Company was here as well.
ES: How did the people from Old Academy respond to Grace when she came back?
BF: Well, I wasn't here then.
ES: Bob, I understand there was another famous actor at Old Academy, Robert Prosky.
BF: Yes, he just passed away a few months ago. He was at Old Academy for almost ten years. He came actually when he was still at Roxborough High School. He looked older than he was and they had him playing older parts when he was still in his teens. He did a bunch of plays here.
ES: So Robert Prosky acted here. Do you remember any plays that he was in?
BF: He was in ten, "Laura," "Rebecca, ""Room Service," 'For Love or Money" and several others (from 1949-1955) He was a very good actor obviously. He went into the service and then he went down to Washington, DC, to the famous professional group there. He stayed there for 25 years. He was really a late bloomer as far as national recognition. He then went on to a career on Broadway where he had two Tony nominations. He went to Hollywood where he appeared in movies. He was in "Hoffa"the second filming of "Miracle on 34' St." He was in quite a few movies. He came back here and did a benefit a few years ago at Old Academy and he showed a retrospect of his career. We all did go up to see him when he was on Broadway, the last show he did on Broadway. A group of us went to see him last year at the Walnut when he was appearing in "The Price." "Democracy" was the last show he did on Broadway.
ES: Did you go to meet Bob after the show?
BF: Yes, actually, when we were in New York he took us backstage, spent some time with us, introduced us to some of the other cast, including the fellow who played "John Boy" In the "Waltons" He was also in it. He spoke to us afterwards when we went down to see him at the Walnut in "The Price."
ES: Bob, why do you think people stay so long at Old Academy and act in shows here.
BF: Well, we have had differences over the years. There have been feuds, people leave, but overall it's a very family like feeling. People are made to feel welcome, there aren't cliques like you have in some other groups and people develop great loyalty to the place. People come back years after they have moved away and when they are back in Philadelphia they come to Old Academy to see if there is anyone here that they used to work with. So it really is a homey atmosphere. We have "Life Members," which means you have been a member for 15 years at least. We have a bunch of them. We owe so much to the first people who turned the "Moment Musical Club" into Old Academy. We named the group after the building. We changed it from the "Moment Musical Club." They turned it into - this was the depths of the Depression - they took a dilapidated old building which was not a theater and turned it into a theater. Finances were extremely precarious for years and years. They had their ups and downs financially. Don't tempt the fates - we seem to be in pretty good shape at the moment.
ES: Is there a particular instance that may have threatened the life of the theater to continue?
BF: Well, we have had several of those. One was in 1952, when a disastrous fire burned and destroyed the whole attic. It was because of faulty electrical wiring. The Fire Marshall forced them to replace the whole electrical system. It was 1952, and of course, the prices were much lower but there was over $ 10,000.00 worth of damage done at that time. It was right at the beginning of the season and they were doing a play called "Three is a Family" and so they only postponed it a week. There was a hole in the roof. They placed a tarp over the roof and managed to go on just a week late. There were other things too. As recently as the early '80's a letter went out because the insurance rates were so high. Our attendance was down and we almost faced bankruptcy. A letter went out to the members as an appeal. Fortunately, there was a good response and attendance started to pick up but we have had our ups and downs. We have also bad waning and waxing interest.
We are in a very fortunate position right now. We have a lot of wonderful directors. In fact, we have people waiting to direct. But we have had years when two or three people have directed all the plays. That makes the quality suffer, really, if you have the same people doing the same thing. They get tired and so forth. We have also had some really way up there things. We have had shows which were total sell outs, "Lady in the Dark, " 'Mary, Mary,"I think "The Corn Is Green" and more than several others that have sold out their entire runs.
ES: Bob what were your favorite acting roles? Is there a show that stands out as memorable?
BF: Well, I've been very lucky. In the course of my time at Old Academy 1 have been in 53 plays. 1 do have certain favorites. 1 guess my all-time favorite is "The Hasty Heart." I played a Scottish soldier who is dying. It was a comedy-drama. I got to use a Scottish burr and it's a beautiful play. I played Lachie. Also, "The Corn is Green," a wonderful play and I enjoyed doing that. "The Matchmaker," "The Fantastiks," The play I just did was really enjoyable, "The Incorruptible." I played an Abbot. It was a lot of fun. Also, "The Night of January 16," "Separate Tables," "Say, Darling." I also did a few musicals which is pretty good. I enjoyed them.
ES: How many in all?
ES: Would you like to tell us a little "aside" about one of the shows you were in?
BF: Well, going back to "The Mouse Trap" which was the second play I did. If you are not familiar with it this, it is an Agatha Christie play which is still running for over half a century. It’s still running in theaters. It is set with a bunch of people snowbound, trapped in an inn in the country. In their wisdom, the production committee at that time chose to do the play in June. It was one of the hottest June in history. Everybody was bundled in these heavy, winter clothes. There was an actress in it named Esther Petri, who was playing Mrs. Boyle, a mean character, who is the first to get killed. Anyway, she comes in the room and she says, "Brrrr, who left that window open?" And a man in the audience yelled "Leave it open, Lady."
ES: Are there any other anecdotes or asides?
BF: This comes to mind. I won't name names. We did the show “Anastasia"about the woman who claimed to be the lost heiress of the Czar. In the show, she and her- supposed grandmother, the Dowager Empress, are going through the Romanov family picture album, looking at the various pictures to see if she can recall anything. She does and doesn't. In any case, we borrowed the album from two members, so the two woman were sitting on stage it was, Phyllis Rogers and Ruth Ely and they were going through this book and looking at the pictures and very, very intense and out of the audience came this shout: "That's our album," said the mother of the donors to the father.
ES: Bob, could you tell us about your job as second vice president of the Production Committee?
BF: Well, this is my third go round at this job. I had it for five years at one point and a couple of years at another point. Right now, I have had it since 1992. Our job is to select the season, cast the parts and get people to produce the shows. The producers are then to get a staff. They have to get people to build the set, get the props, do the lighting, do the sound, do the prompting, all those jobs, so it is an interesting and rewarding job that has gotten more difficult in later years because there are fewer plays coming down. Years ago, Broadway had lots and lots of straight plays. Now they are heavy on musicals and they don't do that many straight plays. So if we can we try not to do too many repeats.
The only reason we do repeats, perhaps once a year, is because we like to give younger people a chance to do parts that they may have been too young to do originally. In any case, this makes us go out sometimes and have to do plays that never played in New York, so we don't know too much about them. We have to get them in, read them, a lot of them turn out to be terrible. But some of them tum out to be gems. The playwright today is not as lucky as the earlier playwrights. Once they had a career and make a hit in New York, they were set. But now, a playwright will have to open a show in some residential theater in perhaps, Nebraska. Then he has to do it again in Alabama and again in Arizona. It's not the same thing; we have to select the plays and we try to balance. Old Academy has always been and still is, without apologies, sort of "middlebrow." We hopefully don't go for the typical high school play but we also don't go for the avant garde, way out sort of play. We are still a little prudish. Some of the older members would turn in their graves if they heard some of the language used on our stage now, but compared to what other people do, it's very mild.
ES: Could I ask you about some of Old Academy own playwrights?
BF: Oh, yes. We have been very fortunate. We have two right now, very gifted playwrights. One is Nancy Frick, currently the president of Old Academy. The other is Barbara Weber. We have done four of Nancy's original plays to great success. We have done three of Barbara's. To prove it wasn't just nepotism, Nancy's plays have been done by a bunch of other places as well as ours. Barbara has had her plays accepted into the Baker Collection, this is like Dramatist or French’s where people go to their catalogues to choose their plays and her plays have been done in Texas and other places.
So we have launched two and we have had other members who have written plays. We have actually rejected some of the plays by other members because we put them to the same standard of quality. Every play cannot be a Pulitzer Prize winner, but we have a certain floor. If you wanted to grade it, we don't want to do anything less than a B minus. That's as low as we want to go. We don't want to do any C's and certainly not any D's or F's. Hopefully, as many A's as we can get. Not that many A's are coming down the pike so we have to choose. We try to balance. Our audiences do like Comedy. We try not to underestimate our audience. If we give them good drama, they enjoy it and like it. Sometimes word of mouth helps in that regard. Something can start out slow. In fact, we have wonderful word of mouth on the last play we did, "Wrong Turn at Lungfish."
I also handle the ticket reservation. So many people called in about the show, bow good they thought it was. In the last few years, the quality of our shows has really gone up. It's been noticeable and reflected in our increased ticket sales. We are selling better than we had been for a while.
We have theater parties that we sell to outside groups for a flat sum and they sell the tickets for what they can. We sold them to different church groups and so forth. We also have reserved seats for our season ticket holders. This gives you the exact same seat for every show. We have floaters where you can call in for each show and pick the seat for that particular show, at a discount price, of course. In looking over the history of the place, we have now close to 200 season ticket holders. At one time, we were up to, I think the highest was 448 season ticket holders. That was in the days when we only ran for 2 weeks as opposed to 3 weeks as we do now. We also sell theater parties, we perhaps sell maybe 12 now. At one point, when we ran for two weeks, we were up to selling 26 or 28. There are several reasons for that. I's not entirely our fault. We used to get theater parties who would buy the whole season. Lions Clubs, We had the Bala Lions would come to every show, The Olney Lions, would come to every show. We had the North Penn Lions. Many of these fraternal groups have either disbanded or are much less active then they use to be so we have lost all that.
We're in the Falls and the Falls is prospering and doing very well. Most of our people use to live within 3 or 4 miles of the Old Academy. The season ticket holders also lived within that radius. Demographically speaking that is now not so. We get cast members and season ticket holders from New Jersey, Bucks Co., Montgomery Co., Chester Co., Delaware Co. - even northern Delaware. That does lessen the number to a degree, because people have to come further.
It has also, cut into our social aspect, to a degree. We have an actress in an upcoming show who lives in Princeton. When people live that far, after rehearsals, they really have to get home because they have to work the next day. But in the old days, there was a lot more conviviality in that regard. People at Old Academy used to hang out at Cranes in Germantown, which had a great bar. It had great food, very reasonable and all their drinks looked like doubles. After they went, people went to Imhoff's which we sort of turned into our personal cocktail party. Imhoff’s left the place open to us. We had an ex-president who was a regular there, so much so, that she had a seat at the bar. She had dinner there every night. The stamina of these people was amazing. They often closed the place and then went to work the next morning, if they didn't stop at the American Legion Place or someplace like that afterward. Not too much of that goes on now. People are better behaved.
ES: Bob, what has it meant to be a part of the East Falls Community? The fact that this theater began in East Falls, how did that help it or deter it and how does the neighborhood effect it today?
BF: Old Academy was originally the "Moment Musical Club" which was founded in 1923 at the Falls Methodist Church, which unfortunately, closed its doors a few years ago. But in any case, when they came to the Old Academy building, in 1932, and did all this work and they have been a real part of this community ever since. We have been real lucky and are grateful. The East Falls Community Council has given us many grants for which we are appreciative. But on the other hand, we have been here since 1932 and we continually find people who live in the Falls who still don't know that there is such a place as the Old Academy Players. They have never been here. Not only have they never been here, they have never heard of us. This is kind of hard to believe after all these years and all the efforts we have done with publicity. One thing, of course, is we are on Indian Queen Lane. There is not much business on IQL, so people are not driving down it. We drew most of our early members from East Falls, now we draw from just about everywhere. Members come from a 30 mile radius. East Falls itself has done wonders. There has been such a Renaissance in this place.
Next door to us for years was the Young Men’s Association which was a private boys club. It wasn't affiliated with any other boys club. All the boys in the area for years and years went there, but it sort of petered out by 1970. It went out of business. They offered the building to us for a dollar. We took it. It gave us a whole new other building to store things. It gave us an area which evenuial1y we were able to convert into a parking lot, which is one thing the Falls lacks is parking. It was in very, very bad shape. We have spent lots of money and lot of effort and lots of sweat equity in the place. Right now, it was built in the 1850's. Like this building itself, built in 1819, it requires constant upkeep. We do now have an apartment in the upper floors, so we are receiving revenue from this apartment. We use the back for rental for wedding receptions, birthday parties, showers, etc. We did have a lot of help in refurbishing from Sherman, a contractor and builder in this area. He did refurbish the floors in Carfax, which is what we call the place. He put in new windows and so forth. The name Carfax is interesting. We were doing the show "Dracula" and Dracula's residence in England was called Carfax. On the condition of the building, we started calling it Carfax and that is what it is still called.
Actually, the Old Academy building itself, back in 1941, there was an addition put on the back of the building. This is the original building, but this addition gives us an additional staircase and space out there. That was built with a donation, in 1941 it only cost us $2400.00 to build it. The Old Academy took out a loan which was backed by people for $2400.00. John B. Kelly contributed $1 ‚000.00 and Hohenadel, who owned the local brewery up the street from Old Academy contributed $1,000.00.
ES: Could you read from some of the entries from the Minutes that you compiled?
BF: These are just a few examples of how tough they had it in the beginning. Here is an entry from 4/3/34, "$1.25 in the treasury." On 4/17 of that year it had zoomed up to $20.91. But by September, they were back to $1.44. This was the depths of the Depression. In 1936, on August 18, they “had a new ceiling on second floor completed. Painting and redecoration will follow. Fall season will resume giving fall length plays suspended during the Depression in favor of several one-act plays." For several years, to give people more for their money, they only charged .50, they would do three one-act plays instead of full length plays. In 1936, they came back to their original policy.
Here is an entry from 7/5/1938: "Season tickets proposed. $8.85 in the treasury, $60.00 in bills." They always did very charitable stuff, in fact, it is part of our charter which we haven't lived up to as much as we should. This is from 10/1/40, "a motion was passed to give $2.40/week for milk to needy children at Mifflin School. Christmas cards to be sold at the fund raiser." From that same level in that same year 11/5/40," members are contributing .1 5/week for children who are refugees from the European war. Christmas cards proceeds will go for staging. A benefit will be given for the Young Men’s Association." They gave to lots of benefits. During the war they were very active. They took shows to Camp Dix and the Naval Hospital. They sent candy and things to make blankets for the different places. We had one member, Bill Bender, who was killed in the war. They really did a lot. They had benefits for the air raid groups that were around here at that time. One interesting thing during the war. This was 8/13/42 suggestion: "Cast women in male parts because of men going to war, defeated." Fortunately!
ES: Bob, how are you keeping the history? Do you have archives?
BF: That's a sad story. A few years ago, Patricia McCauley, Liz Logan and 1 got all the old programs, the old minutes and so forth, and put them in the office in Carfax. However, that office is not usable at the present time because the floor is collapsing. We have to have that floor done. We don't even have a computer at this point, which is sad, in this day and age. They are in there, but the newer stuff we really have to regather. Fortunately, on the computer there are a lot of things that are not erased which we can get off. People have things on their own computers. I have a lot of things on my personal computer. Copies of old Prompters which we could update. We have a history of Old Academy from 1933 up to 2001. I'd like to update that to the present, by going through the minutes and gathering them from the various secretaries, which isn't always easy and from old Prompters.
Another interesting thing is we had a meeting of our trustees, who are the custodians of the building for the interest of the people of East Falls. It was built in 1819 and given to East Falls. Everything happened here, all the churches, shows and libraries and that sort of thing. From Gar Emmert, who had gotten it from his mother, Ruth, who had gotten it from Dave Budenz, a member of the trustee, we have a copy of the original charter, from 1815. It's fantastic and we have the minutes all through the 19 century of the trustees of the Old Academy building. It is fabulous and it is something we want to preserve. 1 think it's wonderful, and if Old Academy comes to an end, as everything does sometime, that sort of material could go to the East Falls Historical Society, so that there would always be a record that there was such a place as the Old Academy.
Interviewee: Daniel Furman (DF)
Interviewer: Lyda Doyle (LD)
Date of Interview: May 25, 2011
Transcriber: Carolyn Connor
LD: Can you tell me where you were born?
DF: I was born in Philadelphia, the 31st of October 1935, that’s Halloween (laughter).
LD: Were you born in the hospital or at home?
DF: I think in the hospital. My memory isn’t clear on that one, but I think it was in the hospital. My father was David Furman and my mother was Sarah Ethel Harry Furman. They were both born in Philadelphia also, so I guess we have some long ties in Philadelphia.
LD: Were they living on Calumet St when you were born?
DF: Yes, at the lower portion near Ridge Ave. We lived there with the whole family, my brothers and sisters.
LD: And that was 3714 Calumet, correct?
DF: Yes, that’s correct
LD: What church did you belong to?
DF: We went to the Falls Presbyterian Church. Still a member of it, although I live on the west coast now, in the state of Washington. I stay in contact with the church. Originally when the church was located on Ridge Ave, near Gustine Lake and then when they built a new church had to be around 1943 up on Vaux St we moved up to that church.
LD: So you originally attended the old church building?
DF: The old church, up on Ridge Ave, near Gustine Lake.
LD: Gustine Lake seemed to be an active social focus of the community, is that true?
DF: Yes, in the summer time it got quite crowed. In the wintertime it would freeze over and people would go ice-skating there. Yes, it was handy and was much larger than the city pools, then the one they call the Bathey. I forget the name of the street where it was located. Their days there they alternated between the girls and the boys, Monday, Wednesday, Friday were for girls and Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday were boys days. Yeah, between the two we were able to get a swim in.
LD: Now, the Bathey would have been closed on Sundays, so other than swimming in Gustine, what else did you do on Sundays? You went to church?
DF: We went to church. My father was very strict and we weren’t supposed to listen to the radio on Sundays. We would take walks, we would walk from East Falls to Hass’s Bakery over near Pulaski Ave and we would have some ice cream and buy some rolls and we would eat the rolls walking home. Or we would take a walk in Fairmount Park.
LD: Did you ever go up the Wissahickon?
DF: No, not so much. My mother though, maybe I shouldn’t be telling stories, would tell my brother Bill and I to go up to the third floor and turn the radio on so we could listen to the baseball games and keep it on low. So we did that.
LD: Now did you also attend games and Connie Mack stadium?
DF: Yes, my oldest brother Dave took us there, and my dad took us there, I guess the first game I went to, my dad took me, he died in 1950 at a very young age. So my oldest brother Dave would take me. We would walk there and walk home and there was a Steak place where we would get a milkshake and a steak sandwich.
LD: And if I remember they had black and white photographs of the ball players on the wall in that steak shop?
DF: I think so, but I’m not positive.
LD: They were autographed. And Connie Mack was 20th and Lehigh?
DF: It was on Lehigh Ave, I don’t remember the exact address, its not there anymore. I understand it’s a development. It’s sorry to see that field go.
LD: What school did you go to?
DF: I started out in Mifflin public school, I went there through 6th grade and then I went to William Penn Charter School from 7th to 12thand graduated from there. And then I went to Westchester State University and graduated from there in 1957.
LD: Did you play sports in school?
DF: Yes at Penn Charter it was mandatory you play two sports a year. I started out in football but I was kind of small for that, so I switched into soccer, did well at that, and wrestling.
LD: When did you get involved with rowing?
DF: My dad was friends with Mr. McIlvaine and I don’t know what transpired but it was about 1948 and Mr. McIlvaine would pick me up at Midvale on East River Drive and would drive me down to the Vesper Boat Club and they taught me how to be a coxswain. And I did that probably for about 6 years.
LD: And you were a coxswain in some championship races with championship crews, right?
DF: Yes, in 1950 we won the national championship in lightweight fours with coxswain and the policy at Vesper was that if you won the US national championship they would send you to Canada for the Canadian National Championships. Unfortunately in Canada their lightweight fours were without a coxswain, which meant I wasn’t going to go, and then John B Kelly senior was sitting down by the dock one evening and I asked Mr. Kelly if I could go with the crew if I paid my own way. And he said you can go along and gave me $10 in spending money in addition. So they had a big limousine and we rode up to Canada in that.
LD: In a limousine?
DF: Yes it was in a limousine, there were about 8 of us in there. And so we rode up and I got to watch the matches, so it was a great experience.
LD: Do you remember any of the rowers in the boats?
DF: There was, John Coffman, Dick Mahon, and two others and I can picture them but I forget their names.
LD: Was Costello or Kelly in any of them?
DF: I think Costello was one, I’m not sure. And then there was a young kid, a big, tall skinny guy. But yeah that was a good experience and the I think in ’52 or ’53 we won a senior 8 championship and Jack Kelly Jr. was the stroke in that boat and we went up to Canada and raced and won the Canadian National Championship up there. So that was another good experience for me.
LD: Now did you work?
DF: Yes, my father had a couple of gas stations. One was the Atlantic Station across from the Mifflin School and then there was another little one down by East River Drive on Midvale Ave and both my brother Bill and I worked in the gas stations. I guess I started when I was about 7 years old and my job was to sweep out the cars before they were washed and to wash on the insides. But everyone smokes in those days and that was a horrible job getting that nicotine off the windows. I had to climb in the trunk with a dustpan and brushed and sweep out the trunks of the cars also.
LD: Now where did you shop, do you remember where your mom got groceries?
DF: It was the ACME on Ridge Ave and my brother Bill and I, as a matter of fact, I guess that was another job. People who couldn’t carry their groceries, we had a wagon and would deliver groceries to the houses and people would tip us some money, that was some money for another baseball. I guess another job too, we didn’t do it very often but when we needed a baseball, the 52 trolley line ended there at Ridge Ave and Midvale and it was the poles. My brother Bill would be at one end putting the pole up and I would be at the other end of the trolley pulling the pole down and the trolley driver would give us 1 or 2 cents, if we were lucky they gave us a nickel and when we made enough money we would go buy our baseballs.
LD: Did you have your own baseball gloves and bats?
DF: Yes, it seemed like everybody would bring their own stuff, some of the baseballs were repaired with electrical tape so instead of seeing a white baseball coming at you, you’d see this black baseball. Which would eventually get covered in dirt.
LD: Where would you play the games?
DF: In yard. We played on Ridge Ave between Calumet Street and well the firehouse. The old firehouse engine, I think it was 35 and we would visit quite often with the firemen down there and I can still picture the wooden peg board that they plugged in when various engine companies around the city, they would keep track of where they were on this peg board. We visited with the firemen quite often.
LD: What were the roads like? Were they paved in those days?
DF: Not too many, we lived on Calumet, which was a very hilly street and it was cobblestone. When it got wet it was really slippery and I can remember there was an old guy that came around with a horse drawn wagon trying to come down the hill. He was buying newspapers, so we had saved up newspapers and sometimes we had 5 or 600 pounds of newspaper down in the basement and he would stop by there and see his horse struggling to hold the cart back when they were going down these slippery cobblestones. But it was great in the wintertime when it would snow on that hill coming down. We had a coal stove for heating the house and heating water and the ashes, everyone took their ashes and out them at the bottom of the hill so we could stop and not go out on Ridge Ave.
LD: Ok, that was a pretty good trick.
DF: Yeah, and the house on Calumet, we had a telephone but it was a party line so when you tried to call someone but maybe somebody would use it so you would have to keep checking to see when someone hung up. But you would have to keep checking and you could hear someone pick up to see if the line was open.
LD: So it’s a shared line.
DF: I guess during WWII I remember being up on the third floor and they had the air raid alerts and the sirens would go off and everyone had to out their lights out and pull your shades down and I remember that air raid warden who wore a tine hat that I don’t think would stop anything. I guess it looked like one of those old WWI…
LD: Like a doughboy hat?
DF: Yeah, yes and he patrolled the streets and he would chase people off. You had to stay in your house, he would check for lights and he would knock on your door if he could see light coming out. That was neat. Every once in a while, I don’t know what the occasion was but they held a big flag across the street and they had stars on it for how many service men were from that street in the military. They had a big ceremony to unfurl this thing and had confetti would come down. They really pulled the community together for that, during WWII, a lot of spirit, it was amazing. And we did a scrap metal drive, Wesley Foster had a shop down on the bottom of Calumet Street and Ridge Ave and he was a plumber and he kind of honchoed this scrap metal drive. All the kids got their wagons and knocked on doors and we ended up with a pile of metal on Ridge Ave that was probably 30-40 feet high and it was huge thing, two stories high and big around. I was everything; benches in there and old wagons, anything imaginable, old cans and stuff.
LD: And that went to the war effort?
DF: Yes, and with the cans we had to take the labels off. You had already taken the top off to get the food out then the bottom off and flatten the can to put them out by the trash and people collect the stuff. That was how we saved the metal, was from cans.
LD: Now there were celebrations at the end of the war, right?
DF: Yeah at the end of the war though I was away at a YMCA camp, at Camp Carson near Indian Town Gap so I don’t know what celebrations went on in town. But we had a big parade, we all marched around the camp and hollered and did silly things.
LD: Do you remember rations? Food Stamps?
DF: Oh Yes, I still have my ration book, with sugar and butter I believe. My dad having the gas stations, gasoline was rationed and they had A, B, C and D stamps and depending upon the D stamps, they were for a black stamp on the car. They were for ministers and I think doctors and things like that. A was a common citizen and they got so many gallons and B was maybe a commercial or business. That was really kind of a pain in the neck because whoever as monitoring this for the government would come around and they would read the meters on the gas station. And if you had sold 2000 gallons of gas you better have 2000 stamps collected. I still have some of those stamps at home and some ration books that were saved, so that’s kind of neat.
LD: Also I heard that there were parties when Kelly won the Henley Regatta?
DF: No he won the Diamond Sculls, that’s what you’re talking about. I don’t remember that a whole lot.
LD; Might have been too young then?
DF: Yeah, I was too young to be into parties and stuff. But also in WWII I remember buying war bond stamps and bought stamps and you fill in the book. When you had $18 worth you earned a $25 war bond. Somehow Mifflin got involved in this thing and when it was determined that all the students had bought enough savings bonds to amount to the price of a jeep, they brought a jeep to the school and went down the steps into the school yard and Mifflin and they drove it around and went back up the steps again. The school was glad we didn’t have enough for a tank. (both laughing)
LD: When did you meet your wife?
DF: Suzanne and I knew each other, we grew up together. Our parents knew each other and socialize together; we went to the same church. She was in my sister’s class at Mifflin so we knew each other all along.
LD: There were church picnics on holidays?
DF: Oh yeah, they were a fun event. Well the one on Ridge Ave, the old one. I can’t remember where they started the parade from, I think it was up on Frederick Street and we would walk over Frederick Street and down Indian Queen Lane. We would all be holding a rope and over Ridge Ave and down East River Drive and back to the church and from the new church we did the same thing over Dobson.. And now I understand the church is holding them at Penn Charter School, there 4th of July picnics. But when I was a youngster, I guess starting at 4 or 5 years old, I was dressed as Uncle Sam and I led the parade for East Falls and I had an Uncle Sam outfit, I looked like a flag. The trousers were red and white strips and I had blue jacket with all kind of stars on the lapels and I had a big Lincoln hat that was all red white and blue.
LD: So you led the whole parade or the Presbyterian Church part?
DF: Well that was our parade, we were the only ones in it. Yeah and there was a band, I think it was one of the Baptists churches had a band and they would play when the church had a parade, they provided a band But I can’t remember who the band belonged to.
LD: I remember, I think the Methodist church had one.
DF: Maybe it was the Methodist Church. I remember the Alden Movie Theatre. That’s no longer there, a guy names Bennie was the owner of it and it was 5 cents to go to a movie and we were all upset when it went to 8 cents. We would go in there and watch those cowboy movies and a couple of neighbor boys, and my brother Bill and I, the four of us would come out there and if we saw Tom Nicks or Hopalong Cassidy, everyone wanted to be Hopalong Cassidy, and we would run along home. The streets had the gaslights lampposts and the man would come by with a pole and a hook and would turn them on each night. We would go out at night to play hide and seek so we would climb up the pole to turn the light out so we could play hide and seek, but then we would turn it back on again.
LD: Before you went in for the night?
DF: Before we went in. But yeah that was nice. You could run around the streets at night at any time and not worry about somebody grabbing somebody. Seemed like the people left their homes unlocked and they were in and out of the houses, it was just terrific.
LD: I was just a great family neighborhood. Now did you start wrestling at Penn Charter?
DF: Yes, there was a fellow student named Dick Fisher who had started Penn Charter a year or two earlier and he had polio. We were in gym class or messing around after school, he was on the wrestling team, despite his polio. His legs weren’t much use but once he got ahold of you, he could hold ya. So he started showing me some holds and I started wrestling. Dick Fisher, by the way, ended up to be CEO of Morgan Stanley. He did quite well for himself.
LD: and you went on the wrestle in college and the Army right?
DF: Yes, I wrestled in college and the army. When I was in Alaska they had a wrestling team. They had a northern and a southern conference. I was in the southern conference and I coached that team and wrestled on it.
LD: And that was the Army?
LD: Also you did some tours of duty in Vietnam?
DF: Yes in 1964, I was an advisor to South Koreans, and in the 1970 I was with a US unit.
LD: I thought you told me a funny story once about sunscreen?
DF: I went to the Vietnamese language school for about 3 months before I went over there in 1964. We were out, it was a larger team, there were 5 of us, a major and I was a captain and there was a recon sergeant, medic and a communications sergeant. And we were advising a Vietnamese captain district chief; it would be kind of like a county here. He had a colonel friend, a Vietnamese colonel friend who was the assistant division commander of the 5th Arvent (?) Division, who liked to come out to visit this captain. I think because he liked to get away from his 13 children and also we had a good party when they came out there. We played drinking games and stuff. Well this colonel’s pronunciation wasn’t very good and he was sitting next to our medic, around this big round table. He said to the medic, do you have something to keep me from getting “sunborn” and the medic said, “I don’t have anything right now but give me a couple of weeks and maybe I can get you something.” And I thought, “The Vietnamese shouldn’t have a problem with the sun but maybe he has a kid with a sun problem.” So we were living in the basement in a barn across the street and I had a brand new bottle of SandskySun lotion. So when I went back that night I sent it over with a set of instructions for if they go out in the sun put it on or if they go in the water and come out, put some more on. So the next morning our interpreter went over there and come back and he was laughing his butt off. He said, “What the hell does Sandsky have to do with keeping a woman from getting pregnant?” and here the colonel should have been saying, “do you have something to keep me from getting a son born.“ (both laughing)
LD: You thought he meant a sunburn, “sun born.” I thought that was pretty funny.
DF: I wrote that in uniform for reader digest and it never got published. But back in those days it was probably a little too risqué for them.
LD: So you made a career of the army, did you ever think you would make the army your career?
DF: Never thought of it. Even when I got drafted in 1958, I had no intention of staying in, but my best friend that went through air force ROTC, was he stationed and Shaw Air Force Base and I was taking basic training at Fort Jacks in South Carolina. He would come over and visit me, then take me back to Shaw Air force base. Well I was a private E1 Furman and he was a second Lieutenant and he took me to the officers club. I saw how he was living and how I was living so then I applied for Officer Candidate School.
LD: So you have four children now right? And how many grandchildren?
DF: 7 grandchildren, 1 granddaughter and 6 grandsons. They are all out in the state of Washington. It’s unfortunate that we are out there, although they love it and I like it, I do miss the East Coast and Ocean City, NJ.
LD: It’s nice here, getting to visit for a week.
DF: Yes, it’s nice I have family here that I can get back to. When I was in college I worked in Ocean City as a bell hop at the Belleview Hotel at 8th and Ocean. That was a fun time too. But getting back to East Falls. I remember the Schuylkill River before the wall was there. It was fence posts and metal polls as a guardrail over the thing and it would come up and flood East River Drive and I remember it almost came up to our gas station. We had to put pitch over the intake where they out the gas in the ground. We sealed it up so the water wouldn’t contaminate the gasoline. I used to hitch hick on East River Drive and that’s how I got to the boathouse. I don’t know whether people are still doing that or not but I felt completely safe in those days of accepting a ride.
LD: Yeah I’m not sure if they would today. Now I remember them having a ceremony, maybe Memorial Day down at the river where they would put a wreath out and have a gun salute.
DF: I never saw one of those, no. There was a horse stable in Ridge Ave, where that development is. I don’t know whether they call that a project or whatever it was but there was a horse stable there going up the Laboratory Hill and that was kinda neat. The horses come down and I remember one day a car hit a horse and broke its leg and nobody knew what to do. I don’t know who I was with, maybe one of my sisters. We left before they knew what to do with the horse.
LD: Is there any special events that stand out in your mind?
DF: I don’t remember if it was before the war or when it was, but they had airplanes fly over and drop bombs, but they were cardboard or paper only about 8 or 10 inches long and I don’t remember if it was a savings bond promotion a couple floated down on Calumet street. I didn’t get to them, someone else got to them before I did. I guess they dropped them all over the city. So maybe someone else knows what it was all about.
LD: Do you remember a milkman and a bread man coming around?
DF: Oh yeah, that’s another job I kinda had. Saturdays the milkman, he was getting kind older so I would get on his truck with him and I would ride with him. He would tell me to go out these things up and I would be running up the steps and everything. Paddy Nalen, something like that. But yeah, we would deliver milk around East Falls. He would give me a dollar or something like that.
LD: To help him out?
LD: So you had radio, but not television when you were growing up?
DF: That’s correct.
LD: Do you remember when you got your first television?
DF: We never did get a television by the time I moved out. (both laugh) I used to go down to my oldest brothers house, down on Ridge Ave, it was an old Philco, it was a round picture and watch television down there. Actually the first television I saw was over in Germantown, I was on the Germantown YMCA swimming team and we came out of there one night and one of the stores corner had a television set in the window. That was the first time I saw a television.
LD: Did they have it turned on and playing?
DF: Well you couldn’t hear it through the glass but you could see the picture. As a matter of fact our neighbors had one and it wasn’t a color set but my brother Bill said: “Oh the neighbors have a color television set”, and I said “ no, they didn’t,” because I had seen what they had and the piece of plastic they had over the screen and the top it was light blue and the middle of it was another color and the bottom of it was brown. So it made him think of sky and he thought it was the color combination. (both laughing)
LD: Now Christmas time, you always had a Christmas tree right?
DF: Yes and I remember carrying it up from Ridge and Midvale, my dad would buy it and leave it there and my brother Bill and I would carry it home. And because we had a coal and wood stove we would go around after Christmas and collect trees and cut them up and use the truck of it for our wood stove.
LD: Was the kitchen stove a wood stove? No? That was always gas?
DF: No, when I was very young. I think it was my first remembrance we had an addition put on the house over the kitchen, we had a bedroom and bathroom put in and I think before that we had an outhouse in the back yard. I’m not positive but it had to be because that was the bathroom. But I don’t remember ever using it.
LD: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
DF: No, I’ll tell you, East Falls is a great place to live. I loved every minute I was here and I wouldn’t mind moving back. Things have changed, some for the better, some for the worse and life goes on.
LD: Well thank you very much.
DF: Thank you.
Interviewee: Stan Gorski, Director, Gutman Library, Philadelphia University
Interviewer: Ellen Sheehan
Place: Philadelphia University Buildings
Gorski:Gibb House was built for Kolb's daughter. The architects are Charles Barton, Keen and Walls. The date the house was built was 1926. When Mrs. Gibbs, (who is actually Elizabeth Kolb) was married, the house was given to them. She is Kolb's daughter. I’m not sure, I would have to do some research in my files to see what building was there before that. Gibb, Ralph A. Gibbs was involved in the glass industry and right around the World War II his company developed a bullet proof type of glass or a higher resistance type of glass. There was money and he was a successful manufacturer. The house was donated in 1975 to our institution. Interestingly enough, our school tried to buy it a number of times before she had passed away but there were always problems with money. She would ask the school to jump through numerous hoops to get it and once she died she gave the house to us.
Ellen: Her son lives down at the corner of Netherfield.
Gorski: The cottage on the property. I don't know when that was built or what time. I'm not sure if any servants lived there. I'm not sure if it was the Gibbs family that bought this but during the Sesquicentennial in 1926 apparently one of the displays was a small house, a small cabin I think. It was done by the Camden newspaper and they had it on display and apparently in one way or another a family must have purchased it. I'm not sure if it was the Gibbs family. There was a dollhouse behind.
Ellen: Yes I read about that. Is it still there?
Ellen: When was it moved?
Gorski: I don't know what happened to it but I do know where it was originally. I know it was a part of the Sesquicentennial and I even have the company that made it or was used as an advertisement. Again I'd have to go into my record but I could pull that out. It was something that would have to do with newspapers. I think in Camden or New Jersey some newspapers were using it at a display.
Ellen: I think we have it in here - I will show it to you because I was reading something about that.
Gorski: I have a picture of their building while it was on the Sesqui. Now the other thing is - I think, I haven't been able to verify this, but I think the staircase in Gibbs is Yellin ironwork. Because in the Yellin records, they do list working for the Gibbs family on School House Lane. And I think that is probably what they did.
Ellen: I remember that was a feature when we went into the house on a tour.
Gorski: And Yellin is considered the premier iron work.
Ellen: Now how about some information about Tuttleman.
Gorski: Now Tuttleman, you know is relatively new. It was just built in 2001. I have the architecture as the Hillier Group. It is a modern classroom building. The interesting thing, it is basically all classrooms. The interesting thing about Tuttleman, if you're on the outside and if you stood at the outside of Tuttleman looking at it, there are 3 levels. It is a two story building and has a peak where it goes up. If you look at the designs on the building, Mr. and Mrs. Tuttleman have designs at the top, then there are these plaques on the second floor and the bottom floor. The second floor are long plaques and the ones in the bottom are little squares. Those plaques indicate the activity and likes and dislikes of the children and the grandchildren. On the bottom level you will see plaques with a computer and some other things and that's because one of the grandchildren really liked computer games. And then there is one with a football and some shoes and that is because the kid really liked playing football. So all those little squares are all associated with relatives of the Tuttleman family.
Ellen: So the Tuttleman's paid for the building and, as a part of that, they wanted some family recognition?
Gorski: Yes. They are on concrete squares designed by an artist. There were molds made; they were not chiseled out. They were probably clay mold with the concrete poured into them.
Ellen: Well who was Tuttleman first of all?
Gorski: He's still alive.
Ellen: Was he a graduate?
Gorski: He's not a graduate of this school, he's not alumni. He's basically somebody who is interested in education in the Philadelphia area because he has donated some money to some of the other institutions for buildings.
Ellen: What is his money source? Is he a manufacturer?
Gorski: Oh, I don't know right off hand. I could check into that. Actually that's not a bad question. One other interesting thing, aesthetic wise, if you walk into the main door or the vestibule you will see a statue of Thomas Jefferson sitting on a bench. The artist who did that is George Lunden. That statue is a limited edition of one of 36 for that size. There is a smaller desktop edition of one of 500 but of that full size there is only one of 36. One of the things that 1 always mention is that's our connection with Beverly Hills. In Beverly Hills they have one in their park full size. So they own one in Beverly Hills and we own one and it's in our lobby.
Ellen: That's good. East Falls deserves that to be on a part with Beverly Hills.
Gorski: Actually Colonial Williamsburg has a full size one too. There is our minor connection with Beverly Hills. All the artwork, all of the posters that are in Tuttleman, I don't know if you have ever walked the halls in there.
Ellen: Just in the auditorium section because that's where they have community council meetings.
Gorski: I believe, I might be wrong on this, I believe they are all reproductions and not the originals. Even though they are reproductions they are quite attractive than everything else, but 1 don't think they are the originals.
Ellen: Should we go on to White Corners?
Gorski: Well White Corners was the original. That was originally built by the Carstairs family but it went to…
Ellen: Do you know when it was built; what year?
Gorski: It's probably 1920's; I don't know the exact year. And I think it was build, I think the Carstairs family commissioned it but they never lived there. Or maybe they did for a little bit. You know, I keep on coming up with this date of 1915 but I am not absolutely sure on that.
Ellen: For White Corners?
Gorski: Yes. I do have an architect as Brockie and Hastings. It was eventually purchased by Leon Levy, and Leon Levy's brother-in-law was William Paley who became CBS.
Ellen: And Goldie Paley was the mother right?
Gorski: Right. She owned the Paley Design Center and her daughter donated it to the school. White Corners we had to buy because….
Ellen: Do you know when you purchased that?
Gorski: Yes that was purchased in 1993. The story behind, that the way we actually received it is one of Leon Levy's sons, and I didn't get an exact name.
Gorski: I'm not sure which one it is but if you want me to, I can check my files.
Ellen: No, it's alright.
Gorski:Yeah, I know I did this whole Paley family tree because I couldn't figure out who's who because it was so complicated. 1927, they purchased White Corners in the mid 30's as their family residence. Goldie dies and Blanch donates her mother's house to the University in 1977.
Ellen: Okay, wait a minute, Blanche was the daughter, and she donated it to the University?
Gorski: Well, that's the Design Center.
Ellen: Oh, the Design Center in her mother's name. And what year was that?
Gorski: It was 1977. Blanche dies in the '90.
Ellen: So he left Goldie 12 million?
Gorski: Well Samuel Paley, her husband, did when he died, in 1963.
Ellen: So Goldie died at 95?
Gorski: Yes in 1977 and that's when Blanche, who's still at White Corners, donates her mother's house to the university. Then Blanch dies in the 1990s. Because their son went to Penn Charter, they donated it to Penn Charter.
Ellen: So it was owned by Penn Charter?
Gorski: Yes, Bob Levy. They owned Penn Charter but Penn Charter couldn’t figure out what to do with it because it was a little divorced from their property so they sold it to us. It was in really bad shape too. Well I mean there was a lot of renovation that went on. I know certainly there was a lot of interior renovation, I guess there wasn't so much outside. I think we filled in the pool. I think the school filled in both the pools. '92 is when we purchased it from Penn Charter. Of course we have that whole thing about the Rouse that Frank Sinatra.
Ellen: Yes, I remember that. Hayward Hall, do we know anything about Hayward Hall?
Gorski:Hayward Hall is actually the first building...when the Kolb estate was bought. They bought the Kolb estate in '46. When it was actually bought it was still...
Ellen: '46 you said?
Gorski:Welt '46 was actually when the Kolb estate was purchased by a nun (?). It wasn't actually purchased by the school, though this just gets confusing. The school at the time was still affiliated with the Philadelphia Art Museum and the School of Industrial Arts, so we could not actually purchase it outright. It was a non-profit fundraising group called the "Foundation" or the Textiles School that actually bought it at that time so it was actually bought in '46. When the school finally was able to legally remove itself from and become a separate institution, which was during '46 and '47, the school then officially moved to this location, but there were no classrooms or anything here. They started building Hayward and the library called Hesslin Library which doesn't exist because that's where Kanbar is now. So you don't have that building. But Hayward, they basically started building both at the same time.
Hayward was supposed to be the main school building; it was where all the classrooms are. The lower level had a cafeteria, had offices for the associations all the administrative offices, faculty offices were in there. The architect was Ewing Incorporated. The cornerstone on Hayward says 1949; the construction started in '48, maybe fall of '47. The building was designed to look like a modern textile company building. In fact it was supposed to be like ultra-modern. I mean if you were building the most modern textile building, this is what it was supposed to look like. So that's the reason why it is somewhat factory looking. Now the only place where they did any sort of ornamentation to it was in the foyer which has the marble floor and the little art deco steel on the side, like designs and so forth. And to be honest, it is not a whole lot. But I guess if you were building a factory you wouldn't have done that.
Ellen: No, but it gave it a little flair.
Gorski:Yes. Let's see, if there is anything else really.
Ellen: Well now it's really the design center for the fashion department, would you say or not? I mean at least the first floor when you go in.
Gorski: Yes, they have –well, the textiles school… most of the machinery has been moved out. There is still some textile machinery in it. The health and sciences are in there but they are supposed to move out also. There are offices; the textile school offices are located in there. I shouldn't say textiles - it's engineering and textiles; the school of Engineering and Textiles is still located in there. It is constantly shifting around, but it's mainly classroom. But some of the CAD labs are in there. Now the interesting thing, if somebody walks in there, again this whole thing was designed mainly for a textile school so the corridors are extra wide for moving machinery. The elevators, if you go in there, one of the main elevators -if you go and use it - it is a freight elevator basically. It is a big elevator; it's not like a small personal. If you look at both ends, if you see on the second floor there are these large doors and they are actually at opposite ends of the corridor and they are again for moving large machinery - move it right down the corridor and move it right out of the building. There's pendants, well that's not the proper word. There are concrete supports on the ceiling, on the roofs on both ends for lifts, so you can pull up.
Ellen: And this is on the outside?
Gorski:Yes, you can still see them if you look for them. Where you can attach pulleys for moving heavy equipment in and out of the building. It was designed to be functional. It's named after one of the Deans' of the school, Burt Hayward, who was the Dean between 1947 and 1973.
Ellen: So, do you think we will be able to go into that building that day or not? It will be open, I mean that's the day you will be having the open house. Do you think it will be open?
Gorski: Yes it should be open.
Ellen: And do you think it will be a problem as a group, or do you think they would stop us?
Gorski:There probably won't be a desk or anything there. If you could, I don't see why you couldn't, but 1 certainly would get approval by PR there shouldn't be any problem sticking your head in. Well, of course you can't do it in the President's house, you won't be able to do it in the Smith house. But walking into Ravenhill should be alright, Tuttleman - walking into the lobby of Tuttleman should not be a problem. White Corners, that you might not. Hayward you should be able to enter the foyer there is no security or control or anything there and it is a wide open area, It should be able to hold 20-30 people. Gutman Library you should be able to walk into.
Ellen: Is that going to be open that day too?
Gorski:What day is that?
Ellen: It's a Saturday and it's the day of the open house when they are going to have students and parents.
Gorski:What time will you be there?
Ellen: Ours is from 1-2:30.
Gorski:Yes, we are open normally from 10-5 on Saturdays. And 1 should mention, if it wasn't for the fact I have some prior commitments, I would be able to do it myself.
Ellen: I think we should be fine, I appreciate that.
Gorski: I like doing tours.
Ellen: Oh I know, they are really fun. How about Gutman Library itself?
Gorski:Have you ever seen the outside faces on the building?
Ellen: We have photographs of it that were taken by, a professional photographer who lived on Netherfield that were donated to us. We have the building of the library and the actual finished library.
Gorski: So you are aware that there are faces?
Ellen: Now there are faces on the concrete?
Gorski: Yes, they are on the corners and so forth.
Ellen: Who are they?
Gorski: Well, when the building was built in '92, they had a sculpture/artist. Her name is Syma. She came and took life masks from mostly students and the Gutmans, Mr. and Mrs. Gutman and two board of trustee members I think. And I think there were one or two faculty members too. Now Mr. and Mrs. Gutman, when you leave the building I’ll point them out. They are actually on the side of the building. I do have a chart with all of the, each name, each year, each space and everything else.
Ellen: There are no names underneath?
Gorski: No, I mean unless you knew the students, of course. It was '92 so they are gone. But these are really based on real people; these are not fantasy images, these are all real people.
Ellen: So who were the Gutmans?
Gorski: The Gutman’s owned a textile company in the south. Their son was killed in a plane crash and he was a relatively young man. I think he was early 40's. There is a picture of him in the foyer as you are coming up. He didn't go here, and actually Mr. Gutman, the father, did not go here either. However he had certainly been aware of our institution and the school. I don't know how they first got into contact, but they had been in contact probably asking for money early on, based on the textile connection. Then after his son was killed in the private plane crash, I think they were probably looking for some way to memorialize him. The school, at the time, was involved with raising money for a number of things. There was a fundraising campaign going on - around 10 million dollars and I think this building cost around 7.
Ellen: 7 billion or did you say million?
Gorski: No, 10 million. Even in '92 it was 10 million and 1 think this building was somewhere in the neighborhood of 7 million - somewhere between 7 and 8 million. I hate to talk in these terms but the Gutman's got a really nice deal. They didn't pay the whole thing. They paid somewhere between 1 to 2 million dollars. The school really needed a cornerstone donor. If you get a major donor then other people are more apt to give because they know what's going to happen. They start to think this is real and something is really going to happen. So the Gutmans gave between a million and two million with the idea that it was going to be named after their son and that is the name J. Gutman Library.
Gorski: No, just the initial J. They were the main donors. When you consider going to Harvard with a million dollars, they would say here is a classroom maybe with a little plaque or something. You know, we got a nice library and they got the name.
Ellen: What is the significance of the ceiling up there, do you know? I mean it's beautiful.
Gorski: It is; it's stained glass. It was commissioned. I was involved with the interior design - I mean, they asked the librarians to be involved and I was working here at the time.
Ellen: So this was 1992? How long have you been here?
Gorski: One way or another, I have been around since 82 or'81. I haven't been full time till the late '80's but I have been around. I was here even before Gallagher was here or before we owned Ravenhill. I think it was '81 when I started.
Ellen: So when did you acquire Ravenhill?
Ellen: Oh okay, you don't know what the ceiling is?
Gorski: Well, it was commissioned, but what they had originally planned for was - I'm not sure if you have been on the second floor here - but there is a skylight running the length of the second floor and it is very attractive. In fact, if you bring a group in here you can actually go up to the second floor if you wanted to. But what they had originally planned was, for the skylight, was to be an open atrium type to this floor. When they couldn't do that the President said he wanted something aesthetic and they were going back and forth. 1 don't know who the stained glass people are but I would assume it might be Willit, the people in Chestnut Hill.
Ellen: Yes, I think they did Ravenhill's glass.
Gorski:They did the chapel. But I know President Gallagher wanted this to be a showplace, that's why everything was done in dark wood. I mean the Board of Trustee's room is upstairs, where the Board of Trustee's meeting room is, and he wanted this to be a showplace, in his mind. It was one of the most expensive buildings we had built up to that time, so l can see why it wasn't possible to do an atrium type thing. I could see him saying, “Well, give me stained glass with lights behind it or something…’
Ellen: Something attractive.
Gorski:Something attractive, and it is attractive. I mean there is lighting behind lt. That's why it shines through. At the time it was built, I should mention, that the Shepley Bullfinch which is the architectural firm and they specialize in doing libraries, It's a library architectural firm.
Ellen: Oh, are they local?
Gorski: No, out of Boston. And there were some architectural awards that were given to the building at the time. Shepley and Bulfinch did Kanbar. The former President Gallagher really liked what they had done.
Ellen: So it's called the campus center?
Gorski: Yes, It's basically....
Ellen: They were about the same time frame? That was the next building built after this building you think?
Gorski:Kanbar was basically 2005. Tuttleman was the one in between, Tuttleman was 2001. And then of course there were some renovations and so forth, but after this building there was Tuttleman and Kanbar. And of course, at the same time, the changes to the athletic center which is now the Gallagher.
Ellen: It used to be Althouse Hall; now it's called the Gallagher Center. That was part of the Kanbar campus renovation?
Gorski: Yes, Kanbar - he was an alumni of the school and so forth and he donated money to the campus center. At the same time they raised money to have renovation to Althouse Hall. Now it is called Gallagher Athletic Recreation and Convocation Center. And actually – oh, that's interesting too - I forgot that Shepley and Bullfinch are also the architects on that.
Ellen: It wasn't rebuilt, it was just designed?
Gorski: Well, the Althouse, was like a building in front and they kind of expanded on to it. But the expansion was 134 times the original size of the Althouse. Technically if you go into it, Althouse is still like the front end. Althouse was an alumni of this school and he donated money. Whether this means anything, Althouse used to be a big chemical firm in Philadelphia and they were involved in textile dye stuffs. And in fact he donated a lot of money to Lehigh University also. But now the building, the extension and so forth is known as the Gallagher Rec Center.
Ellen: And then you've got Kanbar.
Gorski:Kanbar is the student center, I mean it's called campus center. But it has meeting spaces, it has the cafeteria, mailroom, there are all these student government offices on the third floor - student affairs are all up there.
Ellen: That was once in Redgate?
Gorski: Yes, everything that used to be over in Redgate is in Kanbar and more too because I mean the student store used to be in Hesslin. The student bookstore used to be in there - now that is in Kanbar also.
Ellen: Yes I remember that little store.
Gorski:Actually that little store was the library; that used to be the library way back.
Ellen: Yes my son went here, and he was the president of Sig Ep and they used to be in Redgate. He loved that building and he really missed that when they tore it down.
Gorski: A lot of people were upset about that.
Ellen: Yes, because there is nothing there now basically.
Gorski: Well, I don't know what's going to happen because the funding - the money isn't there right now. But what they are supposed to do is take down the dorms, those townhouses. The townhouses are going to be taken down and what they are going to build, what I have seen proposed, is an H shaped building. It will be in a shape of an H with two long wings and then with a cross building in between and it will be dorms and office space
Ellen: So there will be more dorms then what they have here?
Ellen: Yes, they are very attractive those dorms; I'm sure.
Gorski: Yes, but they don't hold many people. When they built them, they were built in the 70's and it was a good idea for the amount of students. I mean we still have students over at Alden Park - we don't have the space. Even after buying Independence Plaza. When you go back to the 60's, the school was 20-30 percent boarding; the rest was all commuter. Now it is 80 percent boarding, 20 percent commute. Maybe 70-30 - something like that. You are pulling more out of the state, out of the area. Let's face it, kids prefer to go away, then back and forth to school even if they live in Philadelphia. We need more dorm space and we have a lot more program so we need office faculty space.
Ellen: So very good, so are we done?
Gorski:Yes, basically Kanbar, he's the alumni, as an entrepreneur has done well for himself. There is a vodka, Skyy Blue Vodka, I think he developed, that is one of the things he has been involved in. So he didn't make his money in textiles.
Ellen: So he made it in alcohol?
Gorski: Well that and some.
Ellen: Could I have a copy of that paper, or no?
Gorski: Well, this is like my notes and so forth. I mean I’ll make you a copy. See what I do is when I do a walking tour, these are the things that I thought were interesting. Like the ram, the ram statue was actually a donation by the Class of 2007 and President Gallagher also threw some money into it. I don't know what the percentage is or whatever. I just have little notes on here, and this is my official architectural records and I can print you out that. Do you know the story behind Rosneath Farms?
Ellen: No, but I remember it from growing up there.
Gorski: You know, there were two to three homes. They had, I think, between 30-40 psychiatric beds.
Ellen: Was it just a house that stood there and it was converted? Was it a rehabilitation center for recovering alcoholics or people with medical problems?
Gorski: It ended up being a turn of the century Victorian house, nothing as elaborate as the ones around it.
Ellen: We don't have a picture of that, do we?
Gorski: Well the only pictures I have are the ones after it was burnt and they were tearing it down. Did you want to get copies made?
Ellen: Yes because somebody just asked us recently and I contacted somebody at the university to see if you had any photos. Do you know what year it burnt down?
Gorski:They bought it with the idea of using…
Ellen: The University bought it?
Gorski: We bought it in '67 and there were 3 buildings, seven acres. The buildings were destroyed by fire in July 24, 1970 and we were going to turn it into dorm spaces.
Ellen: Did they ever determine how the fire started?
Gorski:That's an interesting question. No, not that I know of. Here's what it looked like.
Ellen: So there were three buildings. Oh my gosh, that's amazing; it's beautiful. What a place, so this looks like it was put on as an addition.
Gorski: Yes it was tacked on.
Ellen: This is bigger than I remember. So is this from School House Lane?
Gorski: No actually I think this is from the back of it.
Ellen: So this would be Warden Drive?
Ellen: There is that big hill down there behind it, so that might be the front of it. Because I think I remember, but I don't remember it looking like this.
Gorski: So maybe this is the front.
Ellen: Yes, that's got to be the front.
Gorski: Yes here is School House Lane, but it might be an angled shot. This might be off to the side. This is real tough because these shots, and then of course here is the one with the sign.
Ellen: How do you spell it? Oh, Roseneath. That's how I always pronounced it.
Gorski: I have seen that spelling. I think they are wrong, but then again who knows. Let me see, here is the one after the fire.
Ellen: Oh my, that was pretty devastating.
Gorski: Yes, there was nothing we could do.
Ellen: ls there any way we could get a copy of this?
Gorski: I’ll see if I can get some copies made. Like here you can see the building has obviously been added on to. This whole front part is probably an open porch and just increased bed space. They probably just enclosed it at some point and they didn't real care what it looked like.
Ellen: Oh, and that was the entrance?
Gorski: Yes, must have been.
Ellen: Oh my, how majestic. So Philadelphia University owned it when it burned down?
Ellen: And it was used as a rehabilitation center?
Gorski: Well, from what I am able to determine, the original man who started the whole thing, I mean, bought the property, Dr. Joseph McCarthy, was a well know neurologist at the time. Well this is turn of the century 1900's, 1910. Neurologist involved with the diagnosis of mental diseases. He owned property where the German end of School House Lane on the right hand side the whole complex.
Ellen: Gypsy Lane?
Gorski:Gypsy Lane Apartments. He owned that as a gentleman's farm. He owned that whole property and he had a private practice. The private practice was in Rosneath.
Ellen: Why was it called Rosneath?
Gorski: I think that was the original name.
Ellen: Original owner?
Gorski:Original owner going back. Because of his interests and his needs he turned it into a private psychiatric hospital. Over the years, after it passed from his hands and I have dates on McCarthy and so forth but I don't know what happened after him. Let’s see, he was a Professor at University of Penn, an expert in insanity.
Ellen: When was it that the University purchased it?
Gorski:'67. I do know that as late as '63, because I have seen old directories. The building, or Roseneath Farms, was at that time listed as an alcohol rehabilitation center. I think over the years various owners you know turned it into a treatment facility. You can see they added on space and so forth and it kind of depended on who the owner was and what treatment facility. Seemed like they could make a few dollars and that's probably what they wanted to do. And it was always full profit, as least as much as I could tell.
Ellen: Well, now there was always this rumor - Grace Kelly recommended it to Bing Crosby who was having problems and stayed there because he didn't want anyone to know at that time. He covered that up and this was an out of the way place that she knew about.
Gorski: Oh yes because she was right there, and to be honest with you, I find it fascinating in all this discussion about the Ravenhill Academy and it’s right next door. I mean literally like walking, it's just a couple hundred feet. And the psychiatric facility, no one ever talks about it but you know that's an interesting story, I hadn't heard of that before but it could have been a possibility to it. I mean it could be. The thing that I find fascinating is the school is really, you know after this burn. There is an envelope that the board of trustees minutes for around that time and people talk "Let's get rid of the property, let's sell it, what can we do?” We want it because of the buildings, and they held on to it. Well now I mean if they had gotten rid of it - I mean if they had sold it, it would have broken up the whole campus, broken up the whole line. Who cares about the buildings, I mean those buildings might have been torn down - it is the land that is important.
Ellen: Alright, well I think that's it. Thank you very much.
Gorski:What's also interesting if you look at Ravenhill now, you see a lot of open land around it and everything else and that was seven acres that was part of the farm so their property was a little bit more enclosed then it actually looks now. I mean the seven acres would have been, if you walk past Smith House you can see Ravenhill and the other buildings but you would still have to go further if you got to it at that time because that's where Roseneath Farms was.
Ellen: Did you know that the building at Ravenhill, that it was a summer house that would have been more towards School House Lane, maybe in front of Assumpta Hall there. And it had a wraparound porch and it was a summer house and it was a home for unwed mothers.
Gorski:When Weightman lived there, there was another mansion on the opposite side where Powers lived. It used to be called Weightman and Powers. In fact as there is a photograph which I don't have here, Physical Plant has the photograph and I've tried negotiating with them. It was taken in the 50's with an aerial view. The mansion still exists, but the Powers mansion at some point in time went to the Episcopal charities. They could have used it as...maybe if the Sisters had something that would be interesting, that I had never heard of.
Ellen: Well one of the Sisters told me about it, and this was back in the '70's
Gorski:That has not shown up in any of my research. That the religious order that ran Ravenhill had one.
Ellen: It may not have run it but I remember her talking about the wraparound porch and it was a summer home.
Gorski: See since you started talking about it I assumed that was the Power's mansion.
Ellen: Maybe, maybe that's what it was.
Gorski:Because that was right literally almost next door; it was on the other side.
Ellen: I don't know whether that was torn down or she told me it burned down.
Gorski: See I thought that mansion - I know the Powers mansion eventually became part of the Episcopal services. But I don't know what it was used for, how long or anything.
Ellen: I can't see the Sisters at the school having a home for unwed mothers when they are running a school for girls so it probably was Episcopal Services.
Gorski: But eventually from what I understand, but I don't have any dates, that building was acquired by nuns from Ravenhill and then where that extension was built.
Ellen: Yes Assumpta Hall we called it.
Gorski:Which now is Fortess, the corner of Fortess. That was built, well I don't know if it was built on the property but it would have been. I mean I don't know if the building was in place, if the new building would actually be built on the footprint of the building but it certainly extends into that land where the mansion was.
Ellen: Okay, alright. That sounds like it would be accurate from my memory of what she told me about it. END