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Narrative of Carmen Cassani's Youth in Italy
Updated 10:19 AM ET Nov 29, 2011

Bridgewater, Massachusetts (April 1982) - This narrative is a personal history of the life of Carmen Filippini Valade, who was born as Carmen Cassani in 1907 in Italy. She came to America at age 13. She married twice, first to Eliseo Filippini and second to Ovila Valade. She was affectionately called "Noni" by her children and grandchildren.

It should be noted that some words and names are spelled phonetically, as they were pronounced by the speakers. For example, the word "them" is sometimes spelled as "'em", and the name "Eliseo" is spelled "'Liseo".

An audio file of Carmen's narrative is available for download as one large uninterrupted file at 42.5 MB

Smaller audio files of this narrative can also be downloaded at Narrative Audio Part 1 - 28MB, at Narrative Audio Part 2 - 614KB and at Narrative Audio Part 3 - 14.9 MB. The small "Part 2" audio file is just a short bit that connects part one and part two as the audio tape was flipped around during the original recording.

Transcription of the narrative:

Norma: This is the year 1982, around April 5th, and Noni is visiting for Easter but has to go home because Freddy and the children and Kathy are coming up to her house. And Dean is researching the Getchell and the Cassani family and he'd like to know about Noni's childhood, and being raised in a farm in Italy, on a farm in Italy. Noni, what kind of house a did they live in?

Carmen: It was a brick house with a big, big, big room for, they used as a dining room with a fireplace in it. And then there was another room, like a pantry beside of it. And they kept all the supplies for their, winter supplies for the oil and stuff and everything in it, their kitchen supplies.

Norma: Not oil for cooking, I mean not oil for heating!

Carmen: No. The fireplace was the only heat. And then there was another ... like a hallway. And you went through the hallway to the cow barn.

Norma: Was it all the same building?

Carmen: Yeah. All the same building with the cow barn, and in the cow barn they had prob'ly eight cows. And in the winter time, it was cold in the house, so they'd go ... the women would gather in the cow barn to spin the cotton from the hemp. To spin it and make threads, so they could, so they could make linen out of it. It was warmer in the cow barn; that's why they went there.

Norma: And, uh, what did they have in the room where you said the big fireplace was?

Carmen: A big, a great big dining room table with a lot of chairs, nothing ... no living room in those days. Just a, just a big room and that was it! If you wanted to lay down, you go up in your bed.

Norma: You told me once about silkworms.

Carmen: Yeah. They had a ... the same room as the big room, where the dining room is, they used to have in the corner ... like at one end of the room ... there'd be a, well they'd have like a network of sticks ... sticks and things with shelves like of netting. And, uh, they'd put the cocoons from the worm there and they would start them out to be butterflies. And they'd feed them mulberry leaves all, all summer; I don't know, about two, three months. And then they, they turn into butterflies and go into the cocoon again and the cocoon would be the silk. For the outside of the cocoon, they'd take the cocoons and go to a place where they used to take the silk off from the outside of the cocoons and wind it from the cocoons.

Norma: How high ... how many layers of the silkworms do you think there were?

Carmen: You mean how many layers of silk?

Norma: How many layers of this netting?

Carmen: Oh God! From bottom to the ceiling. About, about a foot apart or so.

Norma: Eight or twelve?

Carmen: Prob'ly, twelve, I guess.

Norma: Where did they get the mulberry leaves?

Carmen: We used to go down to another farm where they had them all along the road, and they used to let the people go and pick them; we used to go pick them from the trees and bring 'em home from this place.

Norma: But didn't they used to have the mulberry trees between the grapevine and the???

Carmen: The trees that we used to go to were right along the road. It was like a little gully, and then you'd go into the gully there and there'd be the mulberry trees. And that's where everybody used to go pick them because we didn't have any on our farm.

Norma: You didn't have grapevines?

Carmen: Yes, but no mulberry bush ... uh ... trees.

Norma: I see.

Carmen: They were great big trees, as big as an apple tree, so we had to use a ladder to climb 'em to get the leaves.

Norma: But your family did have wine, grapes?

Carmen: Oh God, yes.

Norma: They'd make their own wine?

Carmen: Very much so. They used to have the grapes -- the trees with the big long -- I don't know what they call those trees that grow so tall...

Norma: Poplar?

Carmen: Poplar! Something like that. Poplar. Long and thin like. And they used to have the grapevines go from one tree to the other, back and forth, like a swing, you know? And then that would hold the vine up and the grapes would be coming from there. So you'd have to ... you'd go up on the ladder. You could even put it up on the vines of the grapes because they were so strong from one tree to another that they'd stay there.

Norma: And then, uh ...

Carmen: Then they'd take the grapes, they'd pick the grapes and take them into the house, and they had a great big tub, prob'ly seven, eight feet wide, and put all the grapes in there. And people would have their boots on ... I don't know if they did have boots; I think they went in in their bare feet ... and squashed all the grapes up and let that stay there for prob'ly a day or so. Then they'd take that mush and put it in open barrels, open tops. The barrel would be up, upside down, you know, not flat. It would be up. The top open. Upright! And the top would be open so that there'd be like a cap coming out of the barrel prob'ly eight inches high.

Norma: Of where it was starting to ferment?

Carmen: When it was fermenting, when it was fermenting. So then after that, the barrel would ... there's a pump down at the bottom. They would draw the wine from that and put it in closed barrels. Flat barrels. And with a pump on the top, in the middle of the barrel, where the air space -- so that way, the foam like from the fermenting, would come out. Until that stopped, they couldn't, the wine wasn't, the barrel was not ready to, to seal. Once that stopped, they sealed the barrel and then it was good for, forever. As long as the barrel was closed. And they'd draw from another spigot from the bottom of the barrel ...

Norma: And put it into bottles from there?

Carmen: And put it in bottles.

Norma: You told me once about knowing exactly when it was ready.

Carmen: Well, when it stopped ... when it was stopped from foaming at the top of the barrel, you know, after they put all the juice in the barrel, then they'd know, prob'ly, I don't know how long they'd wait. They can wait anytime to bottle it after that, because it's all ready.

Norma: And it's sealed.

Carmen: It's sealed. Then they seal the barrel. You can't ... don't open it again until, unless you draw from the bottom.

Norma: I see.

Carmen: The barrel is sealed so that no air gets into it, so that way the wine won't turn sour.

Norma: One time you told me about the chicken house and the oven. Would you tell me how they baked bread?

Carmen: All right. Prob'ly fifteen, twenty feet from the house, there was another barn. And they had an open-- like a breeze way between the well was on one side where they drew the water, and the oven was on the other side of the well, prob'ly seven, eight feet from the well. And there was a ... it's all a great big thing prob'ly as big as a double bed, if not bigger--the oven, with a dome. All, you know, domed up, so that way, they used to light the fire underneath. There was like an oven like underneath where they put the wood to make the fire to heat the oven up. And they only baked only once every week, or maybe even two weeks. The bread. Then they put it in trunks to keep.

Norma: Did they wrap it or anything?

Carmen: No. A plain ...

Norma: Just laid it in the trunk?

Carmen: A trunk just for the bread.

Norma: A bread trunk.

Carmen: Yeah. And they just kept that bread ... and that trunk must have been tight enough to hold that bread nice and soft. And on top of that oven, the chicken coop was up top there, so the chickees, the young chicks would be nice and warm. And they used to be warm for the ... the oven would stay warm for a long time and it was so much insulation in between, like bricks and stuff, that it wasn't too hot for the chickens either, you know.

Norma: I see. Was it hearth baked oven?

Carmen: Yeah. Right. They used to have a paddle to put the bread in, prob'ly seven, eight feet long, so they'd get to the end of the oven to put the bread in and take it out.

Norma: How long before they put the bread in the, uh, after they lit the fire, would you say?

Carmen: Oh boy! I don't know about that because I don't know just how long it would take to heat it up, you know.

Norma: Yeah, like two or three hours, huh?

Carmen: Yeah, prob'ly so. So then in back of there where the chickens are, there used to be a ladder from in the back part of the barn to go up to the chicken coop, not on the side where they put the bread in the oven, in the back side there was a ladder to go up to the chicken coop.

And then in back of that--of course they used to raise hemp, and the hemp is like a cane, like a bamboo cane, on the same idea. And they built a fence around the back of this barn with this cane things, these bamboo things; and it was a bathroom to go to the toilet. And once in a while, they just take and pile it up towards the end of a great, a great big, a great big space prob'ly as big as a room.

Norma: And you didn't have any seat to sit down on, right? You just squatted.

Carmen: No, no. You just did it in front and every once in a while they'd scoop it up to the back of the pile.

Norma: And push it back again.

Carmen: Yeah. Then it would rot so much and then they would use it in the fields. And before winter, they'd put it in the fields, so to make ...

Norma: Compost.

Carmen: Well, manure. Fertilizer. For the, for the fields. In the spring, it was all, you know, in the soil because they'd plow it under like, and it wouldn't smell because they would plow it under.

Norma: Right. How did they make hemp? You said that they made hemp.

Carmen: The hemp. Well, they grew it tall as seven, maybe six, seven, eight feet tall. And, uh, then they take and they cut it. Oh boy, let's see! Was it August? August, I guess. They cut it down at the bottom. They prob'ly leave maybe a foot down at the bottom 'cause that too hard. And then they take and make like a raft. Tied. Make it like into a raft.

Norma: Bundles? Bundles of those sticks?

Carmen: No. Like a raft, they'd make a flat, like a raft.

Norma: But they didn't tie it all together?

Carmen: They tied it together, but made it to look like a raft. They took and put heavy stones on top of that to sink it in a pond. And they let it stay there prob'ly until it got rotten, just about rotten. Then the outside bark would come right off, and that's what they used in the winter time to make the linen and stuff, the thread to make the linen.

Norma: How did they make this material?

Carmen: They had a ... they had a ... what you call it? Those machines they have?

Norma: A weaving?

Carmen: No.

Norma: A spinning wheel?

Carmen: No. That machine that put the threads all like this, you know.

Norma: A loom?

Carmen: A looming machine! It put the threads all from the front to the back. And it had two pedals. And then the threads would go this way up and then the other way up. And then in the meantime, they put a shuttle from one end of this way...

Norma: How long was the shuttle?

Carmen: Prob'ly that long. Prob'ly 12 inches long. And then they shove this shuttle from one side of the loom machine to the other side. And then they pushed the pedal, so the thread would criss-cross. And then they'd do it back again! This way, like that.

Norma: How big a loom did they use? Did the material come 36 inches wide?

Carmen: It depends. They could make it any size they wanted.

Norma: Really!

Carmen: The loom was prob'ly six, seven, eight feet wide, if not more.

Norma: Wow!

Carmen: And then they had this, uh, they had the material like coming towards them, see, like on a roller. And when they'd do the thing, they'd have like a comb thing that was already there with the wood on both sides, down and up. And they'd pull it like this so the threads would come close.

Norma: Tight.

Carmen: To tighten up the threads, so it would come like...

Norma: Did it have like a marker so that it showed every time it went a certain amount of material on the roller?

Carmen: If they want to make patterns, then they'd thread different threads. They only skipped ... they'd skip some, you know, like you make a pattern. They'd keep some up and some down, so that they would make a pattern.

Norma: Sure! Three up and then three down.

Carmen: Right! The same idea as you do in knitting or crocheting. They made their patterns on the material too. Then after this material was done, they take and they'd put it out ... they'd roll it up and then after the grass was cut in the summertime, the hay. They put these, they unrolled these materials in the fields and let the sun get at it to bleach it out.

Norma: They'd have the whole field all covered with material?

Carmen: All covered, yeah. Yeah.

Norma: And when they started with the hemp in the pond and they stripped it, then they, um, they had to use the spinning wheel?

Carmen: They had to use a machine, they use a machine. They'd bring it home, and then they go use the machine to take the bark off of it. And they have a thresher like come in and do it.

Norma: But do they use it like wool thread? Do they have to use a spinning wheel?

Carmen: Yeah. To make the thread, yes. They take this and they'd have like a top on one hand and they, with the fingers, they'd twist it like that. They twist the top like that. And this one here would kind of make the thread come thinner.

Norma: You mean with your hand held up in the air?

Carmen: Yeah. One hand up in the air. And one down below here and the spinning wheel over there.

Norma: The spinning wheel would twist it, right?

Carmen: No. The spinning wheel would let your thread come as you want it.

Norma: Oh!

Carmen: And then you make the thread by, by just stretching it with your hand, you know.

Norma: Oh, you're the one who twists the thread?

Carmen: Yeah. The spool is going like this and your fingers are going on the top like of that spool and twisting it so that the thread would twist.

Norma: I see.

Carmen: All right?

Norma: I see.

Carmen: So. And then there's the wheat. The wheat. They had the thresher. They cut the wheat, and then they had the thresher come in and it takes all the wheat off, all the wheat's that's there. Then they take this wheat, they take it to a mill, made it flour. They take it home and they put it in a, in a, trunk like ... a big, big chest up in the top floor of the house.

Norma: Four feet high?

Carmen: You know, like in a bedroom. It used to be in my bedroom when I was there. Prob'ly six feet wide--er, long; and two feet, three feet wide; and four feet high. They'd have enough for all winter.

They did the same with the corn. They'd have people come and plant the corn, and you go help each other to go shuck the corn and they take it to the mill and they'd do the same thing. Make into flour. And for the winter, to make the polenta and stuff like that.

Norma: What else did they raise on this farm?

Carmen: And, well, vegetables and stuff, but those were close by. But the corn and the wheat was, sometimes they had to go miles to...

Norma: To get it milled, you mean?

Carmen: To get it, to get it ... No! The fields were separated like. They had some fields here and some prob'ly a couple miles away.

Norma: Oh, really? They owned land in different spots?

Carmen: Yeah, right!

Norma: Um. How about ... you told me they used the hearth oven also for drying out the fruit.

Carmen: Yeah.

Norma: They raised their own fruit?

Carmen: Oh God, yes. They had pears, apples, figs, nuts, uh, peaches, plums. They had everything. And they dried this fruit in that oven, same as the bread. But I guess it wasn't just so hot as the bread. I don't remember. But, they used to dry the fruit and then put up in the attic. And all winter long we'd have dried fruit to eat.

Norma: And how did they get their, uh, oil? Did they have to buy oil?

Carmen: And, the oil? The oil. Nuts. Walnuts!

Norma: Nut oil?

Carmen: Yeah. Walnuts. That's how they get their oil.

Norma: Did you have nut trees on your farm too?

Carmen: Beautiful nut trees! Big ones. And they'd have enough nuts. And then, this year, they used to have the neighbors and everybody come in and shuck ... crack the nuts.

Norma: And shell them?

Carmen: Shell them. And then they'd have this, uh, it's like a ... what do you call it? Like a ... you know, those things they used to have ... like the horses, sometimes they'd run them, the mills. They'd run this and there's a block of a, a stone block in the middle of them.

Norma: Oh, a grinding wheel.

Carmen: Yeah! And then people ... there'd be two or three people pushing this thing around and they make the oil from the walnuts. I don't know what they used the pulp for though. I don't know what they used that for.

Norma: So they got all this oil ...

Carmen: They had this oil for the whole winter, until the next year.

Norma: How about chestnut? Did they have chestnuts of their own?

Carmen: I don't know. I don't remember. We used to buy the chestnuts. So I really don't know about that.

Norma: When did you come over to this country?

Carmen: I came over in 1920, in January, and I was 13 years old. We were 13 days on the boat. I was sick as a dog for three days. And ... dirty ... down in the bunks. Oh, it was awful.

Norma: But were you down in the bottom of the boat?

Carmen: Yeah. Down the ... way down in the bottom. And ... I came ... my father knew of a man from Wareham that was that was coming to get his mother in Italy. So he asked this man if he would take me, to be my sponsor to come to on the boat, to come to New York, and bring me over to this country, because I ... they wanted me over here by that time.

Norma: Tell me how did your mother come over and why were you still there?

Carmen: My mother started with my brother, my sister and I. My sister was three, my brother was two and I was one.

Norma: Your sister, who?

Carmen: Valena.

Norma: Valena?

Carmen: Valena, Nato and I. And so, she got from Genoa to Naples. We all got sick. She had to go back home.

Norma: Did you say the measles?

Carmen: No, no. They got sick. I don't know what ... we all got sick. But I don't know what it was, sea sick or what, I don't know.

Norma: Oh, I thought you told me measles.

Carmen: I don't know what it was. I don't remember. Anyway. She had to go back home; so, when she started to come over here again, my grandmother says leave one of the children over here with us and send for 'em later. So, I was the smallest and that's why I was left there with my grandmother. And so then 13 years later, my father sent for me. That's how I came over here with that man that came to get his mother.

Norma: And when you got to Ellis Island?

Carmen: And when I got to Ellis Island, my father was there with my sister Valena, and they could have, they could have said anybody was my father, because I never met my father. My father left Italy before I was born.

Norma: And who did you live with over there?

Carmen: I lived with my grand ... I lived with my grandmother, my two uncles -- they were married -- and their wives, and three boys ... one of the uncles had three boys.

Norma: And they all lived in the same house.

Carmen: They all lived in the same house. The man takes the wife to the mother's house, and the father's house, the mother's and father's house ... the parents; and stay there until they can establish themselves of their own ... make a house of their own and family. Go by themselves. But they all go back to the boy's, the male's house to live. Nobody goes to the woman's house to live.

Norma: When it's a situation like that, who would ...

(There was an apparent break in discussion here.)

Carmen: Is it on?

Norma: Yes.

Carmen: All right. When I was over there, I lived with my grandmother, and two uncles ... I think I said that before ... two uncles and their wives and three boys, one uncle had three boys. And, uh, after my father sent for me and I came to this country ... didn't I tell about that?

Norma: Just keep going.

Carmen: I came to this country and lived in Sagamore. I stayed there for a month, and then we came to Bridgewater to live.

Norma: Talk louder, Ma.

Carmen: I was tired ... while we were in Sagamore, because my father used to send ... when I was still in Italy, I'm sorry, when I was still in Italy, my father used to send me rubbers, black shiny rubbers. And I thought they were shoes, so I used to wear them as shoes. And the kids thought I was the queen of the ball over there because I had such shiny shoes from America. And, uh, let's see now ... my uncle used to come home from the war; and he used to tell us all about the war; and he used to play near the fireplace, and play the mandolin for us. It was ... I used to sit on his lap all the time because he liked me (laughter).

Okay. Now. I had nine ... there were nine brothers and sisters. It's a good thing my mother ... it's a good thing my father was in this country for four years and my mother across for four years, cause otherwise she would have had twenty kids, I think. There was four years between myself, I was the last one born in Italy, and my sister Eleanor; and the names of my brothers and sisters are Valena, Ferdinando, Carmen, Eleanor, Quinto, Lily, Vincent, Mary, Renato. Did I get 'em all?

Norma: I think so.

Carmen: Sorry if I missed one (laughter). Anyway, she had four miscarriages. Two of 'em were twins; two girls, Lily and Lola. And, uh, when we were in Sagamore, my father had to come to Bridgewater to look for work, so we were left over there and my brother Quinto was born in April and it was still cold. My mother, three days after my brother was born, she was out in the barn chopping wood so the kids could keep warm. And, she's a hard working lady, cause when we were in Bridgewater here and one the boys says to her, "Ma, leave the chair there, upholstered chair, and we'll take it up to Valena when we come home." Well during the day, she'll take the wheelbarrow and take the chair up to my sister Valena's house up the hill, and put it in the house by herself. And it was a second floor apartment. She'd get that chair up there. I don't know how, but she did it. Nobody could tell her to do different, and her daughter's just like her (laughter).

When I went to school in Italy, my grandmother ... I'm sorry, I'm going back to Italy again ... my grandmother used to comb my hair and put it in a pug. Well, I didn't like it in a pug. All the girls in school had long hair down the back. So I go down, prob'ly a couple houses up, and take my hair down, and whenI come back, I put it up again (laughter). So that's, you know ... uh ... and then I went to work, I went to school in this country. I went in January; I went to school for six months until the end ofthe school year. I was in the first grade! And I cried. I went to the McElwain School in Bridgewater. And I used to go up against the building and cry, because I was 13 years old in the first grade! And then thesecond year, I went to second grade and stayed for about a month. Went to the third grade and stayed for prob'ly two months, and the rest of the year, I was in thefourth grade. The the next, I did the fourth ... thefifth and sixth grade, and that was two years and a halfof schooling. Then I had to go to work! Cause I was15! So, I went to work at L. Q. White's shoe factory for nine dollars a week.

Norma: Nine, Mother?

Carmen: Nine.

Norma: I thought it was two dollars or something.

Carmen: Nine dollars a week. The after ... after ... well, I prob'ly was 18 by the time I got to 12 dollars a week. Told my mother ... well, my mother used to give me a dollar a week, and I used that to buy my stockings with it. And after I told ... six months before I got married, I says "Ma. I'm going to get married!" And so she gave me a dollar and a half, instead of one dollar. My husband, Eliseo Filippini, had five hundred dollars savings when we got married.

Norma: Wow!

Carmen: Yeah, because he worked in the, in the foundry ... Bridgewater, the Stanley Works Foundry. A machine shop. And ... he had pretty good job. So he had five hundred dollars saved. With that five hundred, we paid something down on our furniture. We bought all our furniture on time; we paid five dollars a week for it. And we got by fine.

Norma: A week or a month?

Carmen: A week. So we got by __?__. Now. Oh boy! Quinto, no, I told you that already. Shut it off!

(Apparently, there was a break in the recording here.)

Carmen: My, my, brother Vincent used to love whipped cream. So, my brothers ... we used to go down my mother's every Sunday night and every holiday for dinner. So, my brothers thought they'd play a joke on him, and they beat up Lux soap and made it look just like whipped cream. And they put it in front of my brother because he loved it so much and he took a great big mouthful, and he found out it was soap ...

Norma: After he swallowed some ...

Carmen: After he swallowed some of it and he choked on it almost. And so everybody laughed because I think that cured him from the whipped cream. My mother lived in a house that the owners of the Stanley Iron Works next door lived in, and when they soldthe ... they had a lot of ... back in where we lived, Stanley, they called that the Stanley section of Bridgewater, they owned all the houses and they were selling them all, so the company houses were sold to people that lived in 'em first. But my mother bought thehouse from the Stanley Works, but there were people living in there when bought it. And the people that lived there were not told that they selling them; well theydidn't apply in time enough to get the house. My father got it first. So they had to move out. Then we moved in. And, uh, there was no bathroom. My father putbathrooms in there. My father and mother lived downstairs with my brothers and sisters, and I lived upstairs, and I was married then. In an apartment upstairs, we had two apartments. So, that's where I lived. And then we moved to, uh, where I'm living now at 51 Wall Street. And the house, we went in look at it tobuy it. It was ... from the kitchen floor, you could seedown to the cellar. You went down to the cellar and there were ... the water was up high, three steps. The door to the kitchen, you could see outdoors. So, my husband was very handy about things like that, so he says"I like the way the situation of the house was made." So he says, "Okay, we'll get it." He took and hemade, he put drains all down the cellar with pipes in 'em... it would take the water that come in, and never hadany trouble since. And still, the pipes are still there at this ... now.

Norma: And he cemented them.

Carmen: Then he put cement on top of the pipes and left drain holes so the water would go outside to a well like. As far as the kitchen, we made that all over, and it was a beautiful house after that to live in. But he was handy. There was electricity in the house, he had to put in. We bought it for 1300 dollars. At that time, it was a lot money, but 1300 dollars was cheap enough to get it. So then, with all the repairs and everything, we made it look pretty good.

Then Norma was born. No, we had the depression before that. We had the depression, and my husband was working at the Carver Cotton Gin. He had lost his job at the Stanley Works and he was working at the Carver Cotton Gin in East Bridgewater, which is now Murray Company, and he was getting seven dollars every other week. No, fifteen dollars every other week, seven dollars a week ... to live in, to live with. Buy food. Pay, we used to pay 15 dollars a month for the mortgage on the house, and stuff like that. And fifteen dollars. So that lasted prob'ly a year and a half, two years; we went along like that. Then, after that it wasn't so bad.

Norma: How did you meet 'Liseo?

Carmen: Oh, he was a neighbor of mine. 'Liseo was a neighbor of mine, and he used to come over and sit on the steps with us at the house where we lived. About three houses up from where he lived. And then other times, we'd go down to ... oh ... they're, they're, between, between him and his brother Tony, they made a radio. First radio that was in the neighborhood.

Norma: In Bridgewater.

Carmen: In Bridgewater. And they had a white cat, and this cat ... we used to use, like, earphones. We'd split the phones. We'd take ... one would take the one phone here and one would take the other one, so we'd listen to the radio. It wasn't too bad, for a radio, a homemade radio, with parts they had bought and made it. And the cat ... and this cat would go up on top of and put its paws up on the radio and listen to it. Every time it played, he was there listening to the radio.

Norma: Can you tell about the diphtheria de- ... epidemic?

Carmen: Well, I wasn't there, but I've heard about it. Across the street from my mother-in-law's house, they made it into a hospital. It was a three decker house that lived across the street from my mother-in-law. They made it into a hospital. And the people that went there with the flu, they said they gave 'em a pill that made them spit up black stuff. And all the people that went there, died! But the ones who stayed home and drank wine or whiskey, lived!

Norma: And a lot of people died at that home.

Carmen: And so many people died in that hospital that ... everyone that went there died! Because they, they wanted to get rid of the disease, I guess, or something. I don't know. But anyway, the people that stayed home and didn't take the pill ...

Norma: But the ones that were the worst did go to the hospital, right?

Carmen: Yeah, yeah.

Norma: That's maybe why too.

Carmen: Right. I suppose so. I don't know. But anyways.

Norma: 'Liseo's brother Tony died of that ...

Carmen: After the Stanley Works closed up, 'Liseo's brother Tony, my husband's brother Tony, was a, was a watchman in there. He used to go around, all the whole place; and I guess he must have drank some water there, which he shouldn't have. So he got sick.

Norma: From the spring?

Carmen: I don't know what.

Norma: Do you think it might have been from a spring?

Carmen: It could have been. Anyway, he drank water he wasn't supposed to, and he got diphtheria.

Norma: No, no. Typhoid.

Carmen: Typhoid fever. He started to spit blood and everything, so he died from that. And he was only, and he was only 23, I think, when he died.

Norma: He was a very smart boy, wasn't he?

Carmen: He was the smartest one of all.

Norma: Yeah. Ambidextrous. And he was the one that worked on that radio.

Carmen: Yeah. He was the one that did most of the radio.

Norma: And 'Liseo lost his father Frank in that diphtheria epidemic.

Carmen: Yeah, the flu!

Norma: Diphtheria flu.

Carmen: The flu. The ... it was 1918! My mother-in-law lost her husband, 'Liseo's father, of the flu. And she was left alone with six children.

Norma: And pregnant.

Carmen: And Mary was just a month old when he died. My sister-in-law Mary. She was the youngest of the Filippinis, and she was a month old. And the poor woman used to take in washings, and go across the street and do housework and all that. And one time, the lady across the street, she was over there washing clothes for her, and she broke a pitcher. And she made her pay for it, because ... she made her pay for it, which my mother-in-law couldn't afford to pay for it, but she made her pay for it. And it was hard times for everybody at that time. Uh. She had it very hard, with six children.

Norma: You had to do washing at home quite a few times yourself, didn't you?

Carmen: Well, nobody had, nobody had machines. They did it by hand. At home here, we all did it by hand, and put the boiler on the stove and boiled the white clothes to make 'em white. Then you roll 'em on a stick, and take 'em out and rinse 'em, then hang 'em outside. We use to put 'em on the boiler with bleach water, common water we used to call it, at the time. The white clothes ... all the time. Then finally we ... the easy washing machines with the ringer came on, and we used to have that. Well then of course the easy washer made the spinner type machine that used to, you used to have to take the clothes from the tub to the spinning section and then turn, push your hand up to spin 'em around there. Then fill the tub again with clean water, to rinse 'em out and then spin 'em again. Oh! ... It was a hard time. Wasn't like now kids! (laughter)

Norma: No microwaves, huh Noni?

Carmen: No microwaves, No nothing!

Norma: No food processor.

Carmen: Oh dear! No vacuum cleaners.

Norma: And they used to can everything. Oh my goodness!

Carmen: Yeah. Oh, I used to can, I used to have a garden from, you know where my garden was, is, was last year? Well, all around the house to the other side to the road.

Norma: Oh, I remember.

Carmen: Way over there. And I used to can about 300 to 400 jars every year of stuff. Goofy. Crazy!

Norma: Well, you used to eat, drink, eat it all.

Carmen: Yeah, but everybody did it at the time. Look at the work we used to do though.

Norma: I know. But think of the money you saved.

Carmen: I know. We had to.

Norma: You had to.

Carmen: Yeah.

Norma: But you had good times.

Carmen: Yeah.

Norma: Plenty.

Carmen: Yeah.

Norma: And the men all drank like fish.

Carmen: Oh gosh!

Norma: God! There were two social clubs. There still are two social clubs.

Carmen: They built the road. They put in pipes in our Wall Street, water pipes. And they used to have a big deep hole, prob'ly five feet deep for the water pipes. And they used to take, they used to take each other and throw their hats down in the hole so they'd have to go after the hats. My father didn't want to be bothered with this business, so he went up in the attic to hide and go to sleep. They found him. They dragged him down the stairs and threw him in the hole!

Norma: Oooooooooooooooooh!

Carmen: Oh I tell you, they were fresh. Awful.

Norma: Wise guys, huh?

Carmen: Yeah.

Norma: Well, I remember as a child that 'Liseo used to go out with the guys, and they'd walk each other home singing and singing.

Carmen: Yeah, yeah. Right. Right. All the time. They used to be down the Forty-Niners. All the time. The bar rooms. God! They didn't think of their wives. The heck with the wives. Let them stay home. I used to be down my mother's, when I lived upstairs to my mother's, they used to be playing cards downstairs. And I'd bang on the pipe because I was ... it was a stormy night. Oh my God! What a stormy night, it was. I was scared to stay by myself with you, Norma. So, I'd bang on the pipe for him to come up and see what was wrong. Do you think he'd come up? Of course not!

Norma: Nope.

Carmen: He was playing cards. He wasn't, he wasn't going to be bothered with his wife. The hell with his wife! That's the way it was in those days. Didn't I tell you? (laughter) Shut it off!

Norma: Noni,

Carmen: What?

Norma: ... is 75 years old this year. She was 75, January 22nd?

Carmen: Yeah. January 22nd. Oh boy! This one, I got to tell you this one.

Norma: Oh?

Carmen: I was sitting at the kitchen table, and I looked up and I see ... Norma! Then I looked up and I see Freddy, and I say ... I thought sure something was wrong ... I said "What's the matter?" "Oh, we came for your birthday! You can do anything you want. We'll take you to beano. We'll take you out to eat. We'll do anything you want." I said, "Ah, that's no fun!" So, in one hour, we had a big party all made up. Everybody was called. In-laws, outlaws and what not. And we had a big party, about 25, 30 people there.

Norma: At your house.

Carmen: At my house. I says to 'em, "Let everybody come in and have a good time. Tell 'em, no presents, no nothing. Just come in and have a good time."

Norma: And everyone came.

Carmen: We had a beautiful time.

Norma: I couldn't believe that within one hour everybody would come.

Carmen: I know it. Boy, isn't it something?

Norma: That's amazing; and such, we had such a good time.

Carmen: Yeah.

Norma: It was so nice. Even two people who were sick came.

Carmen: Yeah. Everybody ... we had two rooms, two rooms full, full of people.

Norma: Freddy Costa was not, not feeling good at all.

Carmen: Freddy ... no, no ... his legs 're giving, giving away on him. He's old.

Norma: And his heart trouble.

Carmen: Yeah, but everybody came. And my friends from beano, in-laws ... I told Lena, I said to Lena, I said, "Lena! We're having a party at my house tonight. You want to come?" I said, "Nobody's going to beano but you." (laughter) So, she had to come. (laughter)

Norma: Now that's Lena Chippini, right?

Carmen: Yeah. Lena Chippini. Yeah. And Alice Stone and her husband came. And Connie Gordon. And Alice Palatroni and Mary Ferioli, and Mary and Mickey. And, uh ... Albert Querzoli and his wife, and Millie. My sister Mary and Freddy, her husband. Lily and Johnny, her husband. And, uh, Quinto and Loni. Jackie and Helen Filippini, Frankie Provo and Josephine, his wife. Rose and Dorando. Mary Ritucci. Bobby Filippini ... who else was there?

Norma: No Nato because he's too sick.

Carmen: Yeah, Nato doesn't feel good.

 Other Stories...

Ruth Newhouse, Our Beloved Family Icon, Passes Away (June 2000)

Wynter Newhouse, Family Father, Passes Away (March 1993)

Newhouse Cousin Great Contributor to Aviation Advances (1998)

Newhouse Ancestors Among First Pioneers in Ohio (1914)

Kobel Massacre (November 1755)

Ancestors Among Early Settlers in Palatine Migration to Tulpehocken, PA (1732)

Elisha Gatchell, Justice of the Peace, Jailed Twice (1881)

Machias Rebels Capture British schooner at Start of Revolutionary War (June 1775)

Jeremiah Gatchell Migrates to Pennsylvania (Abt 1704)

Hannah Duston Escapes Indian Kidnapping (April 1697)

Joseph Gatchell Punished for Heresy (July 1684)

The Great Corwin Burglary (March 6, 1683/1684)

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