Memories of Family and Town Life

"This was a good town. Nobody had nothing but everyone was happy." Mr. M., born 1920

 
  • "You had a single, the basic house was half of a double house and the basic share of that was 4 rooms, two up and two down and the bedroom had to be shared by both boys and girls and they all seemed to survive very well. The typical house in McIntyre had running water and electricity. We had no water meters, no electric meters, no gas meters. The rent you paid included the electricity but the electricity was fairly limited 15 amp service." Mr. S., born 1920
  • "I think electricity came in the late 20’s. Electricity and water and everything went with the house. Running water maybe in the late 20’s. There used to be pumps that people went there for water." Mrs. S., born 1915

    "The Company Store they had real good quality stuff, good furniture, clothes. They really had good stuff." Mr. Y., born 1928

    "I worked for the Company Store during the years of 1937-1942. Part of my duty was "order boy." On Thursdays and Fridays I would go from house to house and take grocery orders to be delivered on Saturdays. Many families was restricted to the dollar amount that they could spend. This was heartbreaking. " Mr. A., born 1917. 
  • "We used to gather the coal what dropped off the coal cars. When I think of it many times how we did that. My poor dad working this mine down there. We’d see those big shiny lumps and we used to run and get a real nice sack for the coal stove to heat the house." Mrs. S., born 1910

  • "The company put in streetlights. I don’t know when they did this but I remember that the switch was right at the end of our walk We assumed the responsibility for the lights so either my brother or I would go out, just push the lever and all the street lights would come on." Mr. D., born 1923

  • "Mom and Dad came from Slovenia, up north in Yugoslavia. I was six when I moved to this town. At that time it was really nice, hard work, having boarders, kids, pumping water with our hands, and we had a buggy and a horse and they brought our coal here." Mrs. Y., born 1908
  • "In living rooms there would be 3 pictures on the walls: John L. Lewis, Jesus Christ and FDR. In the middle was John L. Lewis!" Mr. S., born 1943 
     
  • "When I went to the store I would cross the railroad tracks which were I would say about 50 feet from my back porch. I would cross those tracks and I would cross probably 5 or 6 sets more of mine car tracks on an upper level and I would cross another set of tracks on a lower level and then I would cross 8 or 10 sets of tracks where they kept the railroad cars to get to the company store." Mr. D., born 1923
  • "We kids used to be so afraid because we used to hear these horses and these men coming up from I think Kent. They used to have these white hats on top of their heads and they used to go in back of the water tank. There used to be two big water tanks where we used to get our water and on top of that hill they used to put a big cross and they used to burn it and we kids used to be so afraid. I must have been about 4 or 5 years old." Mrs. F., born 1915
  • "It was a weird thing. A lot of people got on the roles on the Ku Klux Klan. You know if you were a politician and running for dogcatcher or mayor or something you'd join the American Legion and everything under the sun and I suppose some of them really joined the Ku Klux Klan having no idea of what it stood for. In that era, the Klan was against the Catholic Church and blacks and this, this and this." Mr. S, born 1920 
  • "The boarders and man of the house took the first baths and who’s last got the dirtiest water. That’s the way it was." Mrs. S., born 1915
  • "My parents came from Hungary. They came to Ellis Island and I lived in McIntyre all my life. They must have come to McIntyre about 1912. During the strike my father would make a nice garden and of course we ate the vegetables in the garden and my mother would make one-dish meals like fried potatoes was our meal with lettuce perhaps. We never had too much meat of course cause that cost more money, It wasn’t as expensive as it is today but still we never had too much meat." Mrs. R., born 1914
  • "You walked in the company store and it was fairly big. Of course, I was little in those days so everything seemed bigger. The post-office was in the store at the time. As you came in the main door and made a sharp left turn the butcher shop was there separated from the rest of the store. During the period of time when the days were bad for coal mines, just about everybody that worked in the mines owned their money to the company store. So whenever the miners went to get their money to get whatever money was coming to them at the mine office, frequently during those days when they were working just two or three days a month, it would all go to the company store." 
    Mr. D., born 1923
  • "He [itinerant grocer] delivered produce, you know and salami and stuff like that and his father used to bring grapes from Pittsburgh. Every second home in McIntyre had homemade wine at that time, people made wine." Mr. Y., born 1928
  • " Some of these coal miners operated their lives so close to the bottom edge as far as their credit would take them and sometimes the company store would call the coal company and ask, did Joe Blow load enough coal today to pay for 3 loaves of bread or whatever they needed." Mr. S., born 1920
  • "Some of the families kept cows. Behind our house was a hill that went up and on top of the hill they would graze the cows. I don’t think there was anything organized about it just if a family decided it might be an economic advantage to raise a cow they would let it graze there. And most of the families raised chickens and some even raised hogs. To see them butcher a hog whatever season it was a real sight, not only to see but to hear." Mr. D., born 1923
  • "Any kind of trouble you was in, everybody would pitch in and help. Years ago, fistfight one day, and shake hand next day, go to work and maybe fight the next day but nobody held any grudges." Mr. M., born 1920
  • "My memories of my childhood was very pleasant. We didn’t have to toys that children have these days. We had to find our own games and ways of entertaining ourselves. I can remember my father for Christmas bought me a doll, I thought that was just wonderful. All we got was one doll. These days everyone gets 10 or 15 different things for Christmas." Mrs. R., born 1914
  • "Everybody seemed to have a pig and when they butchered them there was a resident butcher and I can remember everybody planned to have their pigs killed on the same day. And he knew how to kill it just the right way. I can remember they used to have these big poles and hook like a tee-pee and he used to bring this big boiling pot and he used to lower the pole in to get rid of the all the pig hair and everything and then he would just move down to other houses." Mr. S., born 1943
  • "A lot of families in McIntyre kept boarders. Even my mother once upon a time she had 5 boarders. My mother and father bought everything from the company store. They divided the bills among the boarders and then they [boarders] paid her $10 a month for the work. I can remember my mother she got her food free and got $10 a month [from the boarders] for her work. She used to get up in the morning and make them breakfast and she would make them pork chops and bacon. They would have a big breakfast and she packed their buckets. My father worked hard in the mines and my mother worked hard at home." Mrs. R., born 1914
  • "I remember a girl’s wedding. She walked down the road from the church and a man was behind her playing the accordion and it rained and was muddy because we had dirt streets. And then she would throw these white candies. And the reception was in the house and the people in the town would cook and bring food over and all the people would have a good time." Mrs. F., born 1915
  • "Really no one locked their doors, we couldn’t lock our door because we had the old type key. I think everyone in town had one like it. They called it a skeleton key. You didn’t have people stealing hubcaps off of cars and things like that. Almost everyone left their key in their car." Mr. S., born 1920
  • "If we didn’t raise our own stuff why I tell you we’d have starved. We had 2 or 3 cows, pigs. And believe me a lot of people there they had nothing to eat." Mr. R., born 1911
  • "I remember in 1918 when there was the bad flu. So many people died they would find so many dead people in the flats. Everyone in my family except my mother and sister had it and when she used to change our clothes she used to burn the clothes because she was afraid of the infection. My father was real bad and a neighbor told my mother to go out and pick some kind of special grass, boil it and give it to him and the kids which I think it helped." Mrs. F., born 1915
  • "Mondays was wash day and Tuesday was ironing day. Mother always baked on Saturdays. She baked delicious rolls and then she would order boiled ham from the company store that was a real treat. And almost always she’d bake a cake that was to last Saturday and Sunday. Sunday was usually meatloaf day or on occasion it might be roast beef. And we used to have pork chops from time to time. From time to time we had store-bought Eskimo Pie, which was simply ice cream covered with chocolate except it seemed to taste so much better in those days." Mr. D., born 1923
  • "When we was kids, my brothers used to wear overalls with the bib. My mother used to sew and she used to make all our dresses, nothing fancy. She used to take the cloth and put a pattern that she made it out of paper and just cut around it with openings for your head and arms. But the clothes were all homemade. And shoes, well shoes we bought at the company store, nothing fancy. We used to get perms in our hair and it was short and it was called the Marcel. " Mrs. G., born 1912
  • "And we mostly ate from our garden. We raised our own pigs, had our own chickens, had our own cow, just about everybody had a cow. The milk we’d share it with our neighbors, we couldn’t drink it all. And I remember my dad he’d raise a pig and where he came from in Yugoslavia they knew how to make sausage, cure the hams, cure the bacon. My mother knew how to use that pig all up, just about everything. Nothing wasted. We even caught the blood and made blood sausage. My grandmother used to make them. She used to bake bread with a coal stove." Mr. Y., born 1928
  • "I remember my mother when my father worked in the mines and there was no air and he’d come home with a real bad headache. I’d remember her slicing raw potatoes and putting it on his head and that helped." Mrs. M., born 1921
  • "I was a paperboy here. I was about 10 years old when there was striking and that going on and believe me, oh brother, it was really rough. I couldn’t get money off of half of the people that I was collecting from. So what did they have to do? They would tell me that they used to get coffee, sugar, or different things in the company store [on credit] because they didn’t have cash." Mr. R., born 1911
  • "Between the mine cars and the bottom of our yard, were the railroad tracks where large numbers of railroad cars, usually pulled by two steam engines and pushed by one, would come in and out of McIntyre three or four times daily. There were other sets of mine car tracks going to the shop, and other places. Beyond that were the railroad storage yards consisting of about a dozen sets of tracks where railroad cars were stored and dropped down to the tipple where they were loaded. To get to the company store, I had to cross: 1 set of railroad tracks, 6 sets of mine car tracks, 1 set of lorry tracks, 1 set of mine car tracks, and about a dozen railroad tracks. Officially we were not supposed to cross the tracks, but I did it daily at least once per day for 13 years and no one said anything." Mr. D., born 1923
  • "We didn’t make much spaghetti. What she [mother] used to make was mostly what we could afford was pasta e fagioli and polenta. We always planted garlic. Oh, we are the garlic people! I would rub in on salami." Mrs. G., born 1912
  • "My dad never let them take the company store bill out of his pay. But 90-95% of the people here the coal company deducted their bill from their pay. We always paid it. Whenever you paid your bill they give you a little box of candy. That was something we waited for." Mr. Y., born 1928
  • "In my family we ate promptly at 4 o’clock. Dad was able to whistle in a certain way and wherever we were in McIntyre we could hear his whistle and that was the sign to come home and eat. If you wanted anything to eat you had to start home right at that moment. It wasn’t later I’ll be home, it was you get home immediately." Mr. D., born 1923
  • "We had a coal stove, kerosene lamps, no electric in the house, had to carry our water maybe half-a-mile to wash clothes and wash clothes by hand. We did all that. Yeah, them days we really had it hard. I helped my mother before I went to school. I had to make bread. And I had to make a fire in one stove, no furnace just stoves. That’s what I did and my sisters they did other stuff and then when we came home from school we each had a job. We was told once. One sister in one room another sister in another room and the boy had to get the coal and the wood. We worked in the garden too, hoed the potatoes and we canned a lot of stuff." Mrs. Y., born 1908
  • "Pork chops, just 10 cents a pound. She used to put pork chops in my father’s lunch pail and home made bread." Mrs. S., born 1910
  • "It was a big place, it was a store and it had boarders and burnt down. And right across there was a candy store there, then the butcher shop, then the theatre and also the dance hall, a pool room, barber shop. There were just the two taverns but a lot of speakeasies." Mr. R., born 1911
  • "When I was a kid we ate a lot of polenta, a lot of pasta e fagioli, a lot of milk mixed with rice, we didn’t have a lot of fruit but had a lot of rabbit cause my dad used to hunt. My dad kept a nice garden with all kinds of vegetables, like peppers, tomatoes. My mother made the best chicken soup. You had to have an old chicken. My mother went to the farm and got these old chickens from the farmer and my dad used to strangle them to kill them. The old chickens would make better broth. She’d put the whole chicken in the pot and she’d put celery in it and onion and other stuff she’d put in it. And then she made her own noodles and they were good. She was a good cook." Mrs. P., born 1920

  • "One time that I was taking orders for groceries, I knocked on the kitchen door. A voice from inside said in a loud voice, "come on in." So I opened he door and went in. There she was in a bathtub naked as a jaybird. Bathtubs at that time was a washtub and usually in the kitchen. She just jumped up and ran to another room. It took me by surprise. I just stood there and looked. She came back out of the room and I took her order (for groceries)! This is a true story." 
    Mr. A., born 1917. 
  • "My mother used to make a lot of homemade gnocchi. You can make them with bread, stale bread, and soak it then you mix flour in there, parley, and garlic. Another way you can make it is with potatoes. You mash your potatoes. If you want, you can beat up an egg and put it in the potatoes and then put flour. And make your nice dough that you can cut. And then we used to take a piece of the dough and roll it and put the stuffing in and then cook that in water. Then for flavor garlic, sometime parsley, I didn’t like parsley, and you’d fry that with butter and put that on top of the gnocchi with grated cheese." Mrs. G., born 1912
  • "Going back to the guys that bought grapes, my neighbors, two Slovenians, we called them Granish, they’d buy lots of grapes, they’d grind it, oh it smelled so good and they’d make their own wine." Mrs. S., born 1910 "
  • "Well for dinner we all sat around the table, we didn’t talk too much, we ate and then we’d wash the dishes not with soap but with warm water and then the water that we used was put it in a slop bucket and a neighbor used to have pigs. They used to come for it and give it to the pigs. We used to eat a lot of vegetables, string beans with potatoes; the meat wasn’t too expensive then. She used to make delicious soup out of soup bones or she’d make stew or chickens from a farm. We had tomatoes, potatoes, and then there was a fish man used to come around on Fridays. In the winter time my father used to go for winter apples they were called and winter pears people used to give to him. We were poor but we had enough to eat. My mother used to make bread. And there was a woman who used to bring and sell us homemade butter and fresh eggs from the farm every week with her little one-horse buggy. There was a farm and once in a while they used to kill a cow and people would buy one-half or part of it. And my mother had a crock and she used to cut the meat down in thin pieces and layer it with meat, bay leaves and all kinds of spices, salt and pepper and then another layer of meat. So many layers until it came so high and then they used to put a heavy stone to weigh down the meat."
    Mrs. F., born 1915
  • "We spoke Italian at home, she [mother] didn’t speak English and she didn’t want to but in school and to each other [brothers and sisters] we spoke English of course." Mrs. P., born 1920 

  • "When I was a kid growing up they’d mix together vinegar and salt for poison ivy." Mr. P., born 1931
  • "There were a lot of Polish and Granish, living near us and we kids played with everybody. They got along, Polish, Italian, Slavs, we all got along. They all had gardens, and if you wanted something they would say go pick it up, don't even ask. They were good people in McIntyre, very good people." Mrs. F., born 1915
  • "We called it bunnyleaf. They used to use it for boils. They used to get it and pound it with a knife and then they put it on your boils." Mrs. M., born 1921
  • "I think quite a few of them where they could afford it used real toilet paper and the trouble with the catalogs was some of the paper was real glossy so it was not too great. I’m trying to remember you usually carried a flashlight. There was no electric light in the outhouse." Mr. S., born 1920
  • "She nursed my brothers and also nursed another baby. His father just died, was killed in the mines and his wife had an infant baby and she took his death so bad so my mother said let me have the baby to nurse. My mother did this because she felt so sorry for the family." Mrs. F., born 1915
  • "We did not have much for the holidays. My mother used to stay up all night to make us the dresses for Easter. She did all our clothes and got the material from the company store. At that time you could get a yard of material for nothing there." 
    Mrs. P., born 1920
  • "I remember somebody died and they didn’t embalm them. They just put them in a box and people would come to the house. They called somebody to fix up the body. She put lipstick on the body and combed her hair, that’s what she used to do and we kids wondered how she could do that, we would be afraid." Mrs. F., born 1915

Home Page

McIntyre Page