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Oral History: Bishop Leonard Grade 8


Table of Contents

Brian's Interview
Dayna's Interview
Joe's Interview
Lindsay's Interview
Rachel's Interview
Keith's Interview
Rich's Interview
Erica's Interview
Chelsea's Interview
Hannah's Interview

 R. Collins, by Jake

My Grandma, Margaret R. Collins, was born June 8, 1916. She grew up on a street in front of the South Side J & L Steel Mill and remembers hearing whistles all day. She lived on Sankey's Row, and had a back yard instead of a front yard. Her neighborhood had many kids and there was a big field by her house where everyone played.

My Grandma attended Holy Cross Parochial School and graduated in 1933 when she was 17. Her favorite food was beef stew. She was 28 when she got married. Her first job was at the Mercantile Department Store wrapping Christmas presents. In her spare time she played with friends, worked with her Aunts, roller skated, and went to dances. When she was young the famous people were Bing Crosby, Lawrence Welk, Tommy Dorsey, and Glen Miller.

During WWI my Grandma was too young to remember anything, but during the Great Depression she was filled with uncomfortable memories. During the Great Depression, her family moved into a row house, and the whole neighborhood was without electricity or heat. They had gas lights and used an outhouse for a bathroom. This tragedy made them poor so they couldn't even afford a T.V. or radio.

When WWII occurred in 1941 my Grandma was 23. She got engaged in June in the same year, but her fiancé left in 1942 to serve in the Army. During the war she traveled to Cuba to see her fiancé and she married him in 1944. When the war finished her husband had to serve one more year.

In 1950 my Grandma's childhood home was demolished when the J & L mill expanded. She then moved to Knoxville.

I learned a lot about the past and my Grandma, and I respect her more for what she has been through.

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 My Great Uncle and Great Aunt, by Ashley

My Great Uncle's name is Richard Edward McIntyre. He's 65. His birthday is May 2, 1940. He spent his childhood in St. Paul Orphanage, Holy Family Institute, and Arbalee Memorial. He was around during World War II, but was only one year old. He was 25 years old when the Vietnam War started, 56 years old when the Gulf War started, and 64 years old when the Iraq War began.

He went to join the Vietnam War when he was 24. After he fought in the war he came back to Pittsburgh, PA and worked in the J & L Steel Mill. He worked in the Blast Furnace, Coke Oven and Cast House for $2.39 an hour for 30 years. He also got hurt on the job. He got burnt in the face twice by the slag and iron. He still remembers when he was young and there was smog everywhere. It didn't go away until he was around 15 years old.

My Great Aunt's name is Karen Ann Polly. She's 56. Her birthday is April 3, 1948. She was born at Shady Side Hospital. She was 17 years old at the time of the Vietnam War, 57 years old at the time of the Gulf War, and 64 years old at the time of the Iraq War. She never went to war, and never wants to go to war.

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 An Interview, by Hilary

I interviewed my Great Aunt Becky. She told me about her past, what she liked, didn't like, and how it was back in the day. Here are a few of the questions I asked her and the answers she gave me.

1. When were you born?

2. What toys did you play with when you were young?
Baby dolls and yo-yo's

3. What cartoons/movies/shows did you watch?
We didn't have T.V. back then but we went to the movies. We saw Westerns, comedies, and Shirley Temple movies.

4. Did you play outside a lot?
A LOT! We made up our own games.

5. What type of games did you play?
Hide and seek, teeter tauter, swings, and kick-the-can.

6. Did you like it better then or now?

7. Why?
Everything is easier. Back then it was smoky; now it's sunny and beautiful. Then life was simpler. You didn't have to lock your doors, you could walk down the street and feel safe, and people were friendlier. But now everything is more convenient.

8. Did you play more with family, friends, or yourself?
We played mostly with friends. Everyone in the neighborhood was your friend and played with every one else; no one was alone.

9. What kind of food did you eat?
We had a big garden and mostly ate veggies. My dad was a great cook. My mom was a good cook. My mom and Gram would bake rolls and just bake together.

10. Is the food different from today?
Pretty much. Back then, all the food was fresh, very healthy, and made from scratch. Now everything is either canned or frozen. It's rare to make food from scratch today.

11. What do you remember about the smoky air?
You seldom saw the sun. It was not beautiful at all. Very dusty and cloudy all day. When you looked up into the sky it looked like one big black blob of smoke.

After asking a lot of questions about “Back in the Day,” I've learned a lot about how good life was and how bad it was. Also, after hearing a lot I think I would choose to live now, when you can see the beautiful sky, wear clean clothes, and walk outside. I can really say I have learned so much more by asking someone who has gone through the times.

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 Carol Muehlbauer, by Taylor

Carol Stenglein was born on December 23, 1942 in Pittsburgh, PA. She had four brothers and two sisters. Her mother didn't work and her father worked at Iron City Brewery. She had two chores around the house. She attended school at Saint Henry's and South Hills High School. For fun she went roller-skating and sled riding with friends and family, read books, and swam. When she was a teenager she always wore skirts that came below her knees. That was the “in” thing to wear. The most popular appliance created when she was young, she said, was the television. Carol had her first job at the age of 17. She married Michael Muehlbauer when she was 19 years old. She had her first child, my mother, when she was 20. She named her Michelle. At the age of 24, she had her second child, Michael. Now, she is 62 years old and has five grandchildren.

I learned a lot of things I've never known before about my grandmother from doing this report. I also could see the difference between my time and the people who lived before me. It's a drastic change!

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 Excerpts from an Interview with Grandma Betty, by Suzie

1. When were you born?
February 6, 1933

2. What did you do for fun on Sundays?
We rode streetcars for fun all around downtown and to the museums. It cost 25 or 30 cents to ride on the streetcars. We did that just for something to do.

3. What kind of presents did you get?
What I usually got were these paper dolls that you would cut out of a book and cut out paper cloths and houses and play with them. We got a lot of school clothes and baby dolls.

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 Excerpts from an Interview with Liberty DiGacamo, by Brian

1. What was life like back when you were a kid?
Life back then was rather easy at some points but also very scary at the same time. You didn't hear much news but the most popular thing you did hear about was war.

2. What was the scariest time when you were a child or as a young adult?
The scariest time for me had to have been the Great Depression. My Pa didn't get paid much so we had barely enough items to get by on.

3. What helped you get through the tough times?
Faith. You had to have faith and believe that the war wasn't going to come to America, or that the Great Depression was going to end, and that families were going to make it through. Day-by-day, week-by-week, it started to get better because my family believed and made me believe that it was all going to be okay.

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 Excerpts from “Life Wisdom,” by Dayna

Gertrude C. Goettler was born on July 1, 1920 in Pittsburgh, PA. Gertrude was born in her Grandfather's house in Carrick, which is where she and her family spent most of their time. While she was growing up she led a good childhood. There were a lot of family get togethers….

For fun Gertrude would swim, play games, and a lot of times go to the show. The show was 25 cents, so she would usually go twice to one movie. While at the movie you would be eligible to win prizes, like sugar, flour, and expensive (dear) goods. While she and her friends would play games, the parents would also always be involved. Kids played hopscotch, jacks, hide-and-seek, jump rope, and even went skating. The skates they used had four wheels, and they would clamp the skate to their shoe by tightening a bolt with a key….

During her childhood there weren't many modern conveniences. There was no T.V., no hair equipment (blow dryer, curler, etc.), no computers. There were, on the other hand, telephones--but there were not too many around. If you wanted to use a phone you usually had to walk to a corner market, or use a rich neighbor's telephone. Transportation was tough. Mostly only rich people had their own automobiles. Everyone else walked or took streetcars. No matter if it was to their work, church, shops, you name it. Gertrude remembers that her dad walked from Carrick High School to his job every morning. He worked in the Strip District and walked about five miles to and from work, which took him a little under two hours each way.

When Gertrude got a little older she didn't go to college because the Depression came around which made it unaffordable for her family. So instead she stayed at home and took care of her mom who was handicapped, and helped around the house. When she was 17 years old, Gertrude married her first husband who was 19 years old. She then had a child that passed away at birth. But following that she had two more children. After that she found out the real lifestyle for women: having children, cleaning, etc. She knew what it was: it was what was called a housewife. Gertrude sewed old clothes to make them look new for her neighborhood, and also would braid girls' hair to earn some extra money.

In 1941 World War II began. Gertrude's brother Howard joined the service. Gertrude said, “Things were tough, and I was worried, but I felt very patriotic along with everyone else. We all seemed to work together to help and I thought very highly of the war. It wasn't like today where it's sometimes hard to find people to go to war. Almost anyone was willing to fight for our country.” On June 6, 1944, all the troops hit the beachhead in France. This would become known as D-Day, the day America started to free France from German occupation. Her brother was a part of the troops who invaded France. During this, everything was limited (food, clothing, money, etc.), which made it harder to live. While most of the men were away at war the women had to take over and help to do jobs which before they were not allowed to attend to. That is when women gained more rights and gained more freedom. Later, her brother returned safe and sound….

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 Question for Stella Gielarowski, by Joe

Q: How did you keep your food cold?
A: We used an icebox, but not the kind you are used to. My mother would get ice from three blocks away and she carried the ice back to our apartment. Also, sometimes we would get ice from the ice wagon, which was pulled by horses.

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 Donald Charles, by Lindsay

My grandfather, Donald Charles McFarland, is 67 years old. His grandparents came over from Ireland because they heard of the land of opportunity. They settled in South Side. He grew up in the South Side with his parents and two sisters and brother. His father was a crane man in the J & L Steel Mill and his mother stayed home and raised the children.

Donald's first job was being a pinsetter at a bowling alley. Donald attended Holy Cross, South Side High School, and Robert Morris University for a short time. He also when to Holy Cross Church. He remembers church carnivals; the time when they closed down Holy Cross; his mother's taffy apples; getting hurt; and being an alter boy. Some important events in history that he lived through are World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam War, Berlin Crisis, Cuban Missile Crisis, and 9-11. My grandfather still visits the South Side often and still loves being in the South Side atmosphere.

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 Dolores Mary Kaufman Mooney, by Rachel

Dolores is my grandmother. She was born on January 3, 1937. My grandmother lived through World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. She only had four brothers, and she was the oldest. “Mom was sick a lot, and I had to take care of her and my brothers, so my dad called me 'Little Mother.' I learned responsibility very early in life,” said my grandma.

My grandma can remember getting lots of dolls and tea sets for Christmas, but her favorite present was a pink cradle for her dolls. Grandma was in the same school for all of grade school, but she went to two different high schools. She also went to college for one year. My grandma wanted to be a nun. She went to a nunnery as soon as she got out of grade school and was there for a year. “My father took me out after I was in for a year, because my mother was sick. He needed me to take care of her,” she said.

My grandma was 16 when she got her first job. She was a waitress and a short order cook for Tambellini's on East Carson Street. My grandma was 20 when she got married; that was also the same year she moved out of her parents' home. Her first car was a green Chevy station wagon, and she didn't get her license until she was 30 and pregnant with her last child. I think the smartest thing my grandma did was go to college. She waited until she was 51 but she still went. My grandma is retired now but she still does a lot for my family and me. Even though she is in her late sixties, she still gets around like she never aged another day.

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 Excerpts from an Interview with Aunt Iggy, by Keith

1. When were you born?
I was born April 29, 1922.

2. Were you born in a hospital?
No, I was born at home.

3. Did you have any pets as a kid?
I had a chicken named Betsy and she would chase me around the yard and bite at my coat. One Sunday my mother had chicken for dinner and old Betsy was gone. I also had a dog named “Pal.” He lived until he was 16 years old. My mother would feed him stale bread with coffee on it for breakfast.

4. What did you get for Christmas during the Depression?
We would get one or two pieces of fruit, and if we were lucky we might get some crayons or a small baby doll.

5. What did you do for fun as a kid?
We would skate in the road. Our skates had a key to make them bigger or smaller and we all could use them. I liked to climb trees. We played tag, Run Sheep Run, and hide-and-seek. We had to be home at 9:00 and if we were not home on time we got punished. On the 4th of July we would get a nickel to buy an ice cream cone. That was a big deal back then.

6. What was your first job?
I worked part time at a 5-and-10-cent store. It was on Brownsville Road and Hayes Avenue. I made $3.00 a week.

7. What did things cost?
Bread was 10 cents. One pound of coffee was 19 cents. I lived on South Side when I got married in 1941 and the rent for our apartment was $15 a month.

8. Was the South Side dirty when you lived there?
Yes, there was soot from the mills everywhere. You had to keep your windows shut to keep the dirt out. You had to sweep your sidewalk a couple of times a day and clean the outside windowsills of your house.

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 My Pap, by Rich

My Pap remembers that all he got for Christmas at age 13 was a couple things that only cost a nickel, but today you get about $1,000 worth of toys and clothes. He told me about when his older cousin was in the army and controlled a fighting tank. His cousin almost died in the tank on the battlefield. He still lives today at 73 years of age.

I learned that when you're young it doesn't matter what you get, it's about what you really have, like your family and friends to help you through desperate times in your life. You also can do anything with the help of your family and friends, like building your own house.

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 Facts, based on an interview with Alma Liggett, by Erica

1. They never had pizza places.
2. Go see movies for 15 cents.
3. Never was taken to a restaurant when a kid.
4. Went once a year to the school picnic.
5. Went swimming without a fee.
6. When they received their report cards, they had to get them signed and had to bring back 25 cents to give to the school.
7. Rent was $20 for four rooms and two bathrooms
8. You could park cars for free.

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 Mary Lou Johnson, by Chelsea

Mary Lou Johnson was born on January 19, 1936. She grew up on the South Side on East Carson Street. She lived through World War II. She remembers they had air raids. Horns sounded and that meant that they had to go into the house and turn off all the lights. She also remembers they had parades, and they would throw money into the parade to show their support for the soldiers.

She went to school at St. Peter's. Then, when high school came, she went to St. Michael's. She grew up with two brothers and two sisters. She loved to go with her family and friends to the movies down in the Arcade on South Side. She was married on September 3, 1953 at St. Peter's Church. She had four kids: one boy and three girls.

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 An Interview with Ella Mae Held, by Hannah

Ella Mae Held is 84 years old and was born in 1920. I asked her to describe some of her childhood toys and to tell me about the games she played. She responded: “Dolls--I had a whole set of wooden furniture for my dolls. There were chairs, tables, and many other items. Jacks--we played jacks very often. We played outside on the street, which wasn't paved, and was made of dirt. We were allowed out until the man came around and turned on the street lights.”

Then, as she got older, she learned to play cards with her mother and father. She also went roller-skating and swimming when the pool was just put in at the “Fort,” which is a local park.

I asked Ella Mae if her family or any other families in the neighborhood had phones. “We had the first phone in the whole neighborhood. If someone died in the War or if someone needed to be informed of something we were called, and we passed the note along to our neighbor.” She said that no one else had a phone until she was about eight in 1928 or 1929.

I asked her what life was like during the Depression and World War. She said that every one was very poor and “All around us, people we loved were dying.” Her husband was a Pearl Harbor survivor. She said as you walked down the street and saw all of the stars in the window turn from blue to gold [meaning a soldier had been killed in action], it just made you want to start crying.

When I asked her how dirty the air was she said that they had to change the white curtains in their house at least once a week. When you blew your nose you could tell that you were breathing in all kinds of smoke because it came out black on your handkerchief. She told me how they did the laundry. They had to scrub clothes painfully on a washboard. White clothes were boiled and stirred in a pot until they were white again.

Her final comment was: “I wouldn't say that I enjoyed my entire life, but the Lord has put me here, and it's been a very full life. It's been very fulfilling.”

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