We had no phone while I lived on the mountain. There was never any phone. No radio, either. Some people did have radio though, but not us. I guess it must have been the Kubiaks that were the first ones to have a radio because they had a radio in '26 or '27 maybe even before that, but they moved to Bald Mountain in '26 or '27. They had a radio that ran on batteries. The Kubiaks lived... oh, let's see... one, two, three... three houses from... three houses up from us on the left side of the road. In those days, now and then, we had something like a neighborhood night, not every week, I don't know how often, but once in a while. Most of the time it was at the Kubiaks. They didn't have any kids, the Kubiaks, and I guess they liked having the neighborhood nights at their house. On the neighborhood nights they just sat in the house, the grown-ups did, and the kids just ran around outside. I don't know what they did in there, if they played cards or what, we never went in. But it was no party, it was just a gathering and sometimes they turned on the radio. There weren't many families living on the Mountain then, eight families, I think, and about ten, twelve, people would come, anybody that wanted to hear the radio could come, the kids, too, but the Kubiaks had a small house so only the grown-ups went inside. The Kubiaks would turn on their radio on those neighborhood nights. I guess they opened the windows 'cause we could hear it outside.
Sometimes they would listen to the fights on the radio. My father took me there to the Kubiaks the night that Gene Tunney fought Jack Dempsey. Gene Tunney and Jack Dempsey, they were boxers and their boxing matches were on the radio. There was another boxer, too. I heard his name mentioned just the other day, but before that I hadn't heard it mentioned for years and years. I can't think of it now. That's about the only time we listened to the radio. We didn't have much contact with the outside world. We didn't really talk to too many outside people either. When I was a little girl there were only about ten houses on Bald Mountain Road. Even less, in fact. There were only eight houses there in 1925, on that whole road from the school up. We played with each other, walked to school with all the kids that were there, but that was about it. We grew up alone. We were really quite isolated.
We didn't get many outsiders coming up to the Mountain, either. In those days Bald Mountain Road didn't go all the way through. It was just kind of a single lane road, and it came to an end just a bit up the mountain. Stetz's was the last house on the road. Right there the road turned into kind of a path where no cars could go and if you followed that path you came to DuPont. I went walking up there once. That's how I found out the path led to DuPont. Being at the end of the road like that, there weren't many people from outside coming around.
Gypsies came around a few times. I don't know where they came from, but they spoke English, at least to us. The men wore bandanas around their heads and the women wore big, long, dirty old dresses down to the ground. They were great in fortune telling, yeah, but you had to be careful. You'd be talking to one out in front of the house and the others could break into the back door. I remember once, one gypsie woman wanted my mother to hide some money under the porch in some kind of dumb way, in some kind of special container, or something. For what, I don't remember. I don't remember how the conversation went. I think she said that money was missing in a house somewhere and under the porch was a better hiding place. It was some kind of a gimmick. My mother didn't do it, no, no. You don't do that - hide money under the porch. We knew what they wanted. They wanted to come around and steal the money from under the porch when you weren't looking. I don't know where the gypsies came from and I don't know what happened to them, 'cause they didn't come around after the 20's.
There was a man who came looking for metal on a wagon, a horse-drawn wagon. I remember him, a middle-aged man. He came around every once in a while in the summer - not very often. He came looking for a piece... you know, if you had any junk he would buy it, a piece of pipe or anything that was made from metal. On a farm you might have some old equipment or something, but he was interested in any kind of metal - he didn't ask for any special kind. He collected rags, too, I think. Maybe we called him the "Rag Man." A junk man, that's what he was.
Watkin's Products - They sell pepper, cinnamon, vanilla - different kinds of spices. The Watkin's man came around on a horse and buggy selling spices. He came around more often than the metal man but I don't know how often 'cause we went to school every day and in the summer we kids were often off somewhere. Maybe he came around once a month in the summer. The Watkin's man sold spices in cans, already prepared, all ground up, like spices are today. I remember my mother making the remark how wonderful Watkin's pepper was. I still use Watkin's pepper. If I come across it, I buy it.
I think the Watkin's Man used to sharpen knives, too. I'm not sure about that, but I think so. I think that's who used to come around a sharpen knives. I think he one of those things with him you sit on and tramp with your foot to make the grinding wheel go round.
Our mailman's name was Watkins, too. Harry Watkins. He was the one that came up with the mail.
The Dr. Pepper Man - I remember seeing him in the late thirties. I don't recall if he had a horse and wagon or if he came around in a truck. I remember twice that my mother bought a case of Dr. Pepper from him. Dr. Pepper came in bottles and the bottles were in a wooden case. Maybe there were 24 bottles in a case. We'd drink it cold, or... well, from the cellar, whatever the temperature was in the cellar. It wasn't cold, nor was it really warm, but it was awful fun to drink it in the summer. It sure was.
Those are the ones that I remember that came up to the Mountain - the gypsies, the metal man, the Watkin's man, Watkins the mailman and the Dr. Pepper man.
I don't even remember that we went down to Irishtown too much. Right at the moment I can recall only going down there once. My mother took me down there. I guess we hitched a ride, maybe with a neighbor. We went to visit some lady, but I don't remember her name. I remember that trip to Irishtown 'cause I saw two things then that I really liked. That was when I first saw a player piano. A player piano was a piano that had rolls of paper that were full of holes and you put those rolls of paper in the piano and it would play music all by itself. The other thing that I saw on that trip was a sprinkling cap that you put on a bottle to sprinkle clothes with when you were ironing. It wasn't a sprinkling bottle because the bottle was just an old soda bottle, but the it was the cap that was special. The cap had holes and you put that cap on a soda bottle full of water and you used that to sprinkle the clothes. I really like that cap. After I left home I bought one of those for myself. That sprinkling cap and the player piano were things I saw on the same trip down to Irishtown. That must have been in the 20's sometime.
If you started at our house and went down towards my grandmother's house, and went past it a bit, you'd come to a stone wall. Well, if you turned right at the stone wall, there's a path that leads all the way down to a clear area, you know, a place where there was no bushes. That's where we'd go to listen to Italian music on the weekends. That was King's farm and they rented out that field on the weekends as a picnic ground. They called it, "King's Grove." Italian families from Keystone came there on Sundays and played accordion music. Keystone was an Italian place. I think they paid five dollars, maybe it was ten dollars, to rent that field and had pickniks there. They'd bring an accordion and play Italian music. Sometimes there was one accordion, sometimes two. We'd go down and listen to them.
The only place you could hear Russian music, polkas and chaudashes, was down in Irishtown, at some kind of church thing, weddings and stuff. They didn't play Russian music in everyday life that I know. We mostly heard Italian music - Italian music down in King's Grove. I think I was twelve the first time I heard American music, you know, swing your partner to the right, to the left - that kind of stuff. There was a dance hall on Route 115 and East End Boulevard. That was the first time I heard it. Mr. Hock was the caller. I was twelve, twelve years old then.
Once or twice I went to the movies in Wilkes-Barre. Once, at least. That's when I saw Charlie Chaplin. That's how I remember Charlie Chaplin. I know I saw Charlie Chaplin, so I went to the movies at least once while I was living on the mountain.
I remember the first time Mike Shostak came to visit us. Mike Shostak was my father's cousin and he was the one that came to America along with my father. He hadn't come to Pennsylvania straight off like my father did. He had stayed in New York a few years first, washing dishes and doing odd jobs. After that he came to Pennsylvania to work in the mines. He was a timberman and shored up the walls of the shafts so they didn't collapse. After he bought his first car he came to the Mountain to visit. He didn't know exactly where we lived so he came driving up the road, looking around to see if he could figure out where we lived. When he saw me out in front of the house he said he recognized the family. He said I looked just like the Pawlaks in Europe. After he bought that car he came around to visit us every once in a while.
Peter and Paul were born on a Sunday in 1927. My mother used to say that they were born same day as Skeezix was born and Skeezix was a comic strip character in Gasoline Alley. All the neighbors were there when they were born. Some brought food. Others were taking care of the kids, doing all the things that needed to be done at times like that. That's the way it was done in those days. The whole neighborhood pitched in. The midwife organized things. I think the midwife's name was Mrs Sudafinka, I think that's who it was, I'm not sure. She was short, all bent over, couldn't speak a word of English and not a tooth in her mouth. She didn't have any teeth, I know that for sure. I remember she took an apple and peeled it and took a spoon and was scraping it so it would be like apple-butter so she could eat it. And when all of us kids saw her doing that we all ran and grabbed spoons and then we went to the tree and got apples and we all started to do the same thing. I can remember her saying in Russian, "Children, Children!" she said, "Eat it the right way. You are young and I am old. I have to eat like this." Peter and Paul weren't doing so well. That midwife opened the oven, put them on the oven tray to keep them warm. The oven wasn't hot, of course, just warm, like an incubator. Paul was the weakest and nothing helped. My mother ran out in the woods yelling, "He's dying! He's dying!" Paul died a few days after birth. The funeral director brought a coffin for him and Mrs Daley brought a kind of a wreath-like thing to put on the door. I didn't go to the funeral, I don't think. I don't thinks any of the children went. Paul's buried in the Russian cemetery, too. Peter, that's Petro in Russian, but I don't remember if we had a nickname for Peter. That's about all I remember about Peter's birth.
In those days when somebody died, they stopped the clocks and covered up the mirrors. Stopped the clocks soon as someone died, when the heart stopped they stopped the clocks. And they covered the mirrors with a piece of cloth, a sheet or something, pillowcase, anything that was big enough to cover the mirror. They kept the clocks stopped and the mirrors covered until the burial. That was when they have burials out of the house, they did that. When they started to have funerals down in the town they stopped all that stuff with the clocks and the mirrors.
The godmother of most of the kids in our family, four or five of them at least, maybe all the kids, was Anna (Hutsko) Drahus down in Laflin. I remember we used to go visit them. Down there in Laflin where they lived (Wasyl and Anna Drahus) there was a house-high pile of slate - it was higher than two houses, I guess. That pile of slate was on fire and my mother told me that it would just smolder away like that forever. But about fifteen years later, I guess that must have been during the forties, we went down there and I saw that they had taken that mountain of slate away. That was in Laflin where Mr. and Mrs. Drahus lived. I don't know why they were chosen to be our godparents. I don't know if they were related, or anything.
Peter fell off the sewing machine once. That's something I remember about Peter when he was a kid. My mother was sewing and she sat him up on one of those flaps or covers that stuck out. She sat him on that and he fell down. He flattened his nose. He was about four, I guess.
I think my father had the Overland until 1929. After the Overland we got a car with a trunk and just two people in the front - one seat for two people in the front. You could get a lot of people in to the Overland but that next car was just for two and it had a trunk and it had a running board on it. That was a black Chevy. He always liked Chevys after that.
Once we had a old Chevy tire and, you know, those Chevy tires were kind of big. Not wide like tires are now, but the hole in them were big. Well, we kids once got a hold of an old Chevy tire and we took turns getting into it, into the hole, then somebody would try to roll us down the hill. We never got very far. That tire was so narrow that you just went a little ways then you just fell over on the side. It wasn't very successful. That's good, I guess, 'cause up there on the mountain the only way to stop, if you got rolling real fast, was to hit a tree.
We didn't celebrate birthdays. We didn't have any birthday parties. We didn't celebrate birthdays any way at all. I only went to one birthday party. That was John Goobic's. He once had a birthday party. That was about when he turned seven, I think. That was the only birthday party I ever went to.
Firewood, that was in the summer that we took in the firewood. My father did that job. And my brothers, too, when they got a little older. A little every day. When we first moved up to the Mountain we used a lot of chestnut. The chestnut blight was sometime before I was aware of trees. All the chestnuts were dead by the time I knew anything about trees. We burned them all up for firewood. They were falling down by themselves and we cut them up and brought them home and burned them, my father did. After that we used other trees. My father and brothers mostly brought home saplings, maybe five, eight inches, Steve at one end and John at the other. Logs as big as they could lift. Or my father carried it home by himself. Sometimes they brought down bigger trees then they had to saw them up out in the woods. My father would makes horses, two crosses connected together. We had a one-man saw and a two-man saw. Some of the wood they split. We had a short section of tree that they put down on the ground like a stump. A chopping block. Then they split the wood on that with an ax. The split wood you use when you start the fire. If the fire's going you put a whole piece in.
We had a stove that burned wood and coal. We used more wood when we were real small. We used more coal later on, but in the beginning we used mostly wood in our stove. Some of those old stoves were very ornate. Ours was not ornate. It was made of cast-iron and brown. It had four burners, I guess. You put wood in the bottom, under the burners, and set that on fire, the wood, then if you had coal you put it on top of the wood. A tin metal chimney led away the smoke. Sometimes we bought the coal. Sometimes we went to where the coal was coming out of the entrance of the mine and if any coal fell off the cars we picked it up and brought it home. We used to have to crack it. It had beautiful colors. The stove heated the kitchen and whatever went into the dining room. The other rooms were closed off. We made has much food as we had at one time. I was a depression kid and there wasn't a lot of food, but we didn't starve. No one died. We were poor, but we never felt poor. Except for maybe the Kresges, everybody around there had the same things we had. You never had to be afraid. The neighbors would always help out if things took a bad turn. Everybody trusted one another. There was no such thing as putting a lock on a door. I don't think there was anyone around there that owned a lock. No one ever locked their door. If you went to a neighbor's house, you gave a quick knock on the door, opened it, hollered and if there was no answer you'd leave.