Memories of Camden: The Sampson Family
Oral Interviews with Herbert A. Sampson & Carol Sampson Feaster


Herbert A. Sampson and Caroline Suzanne Sampson were born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to William Allen Sampson (1860-1937) and the former Helen Ida Petty (1887-1931). Their mother was a native of  Newfoundland who came to Massachusetts in the mid-1910s, their father was a Bostonian. The family, which included older sister Lillian and younger brother John moved to Camden in around 1924. Younger brother William was born the following year, and baby sister Marion came in 1927.

Sadly, Mrs. Sampson took ill and died at the County Hospital at Lakeland, Gloucester Township in 1931 and Mr. Sampson, who was much older, suffered a stroke around the same time, was unable to care for the children, and died in 1937. The family was for intents and purposes broken up after the death of Mrs. Sampson, and the children were scattered about, as there was no immediate family in the area to take care of them. Older brother Herbert was sent to the County Farm at Lakeland, older sister Lillian may have been sent to a county facility as well. Carol, John and William were sent to the Camden Home for Friendless Children, Marion was placed elsewhere. Carol, John and William stayed at the Camden Home for Friendless Children for a time, apparently were returned to their father's care until he could no longer do so, and then, being too old for the Camden Home for Friendless Children, were sent to the County Detention Home in Pennsauken. 

The following are excerpts from an oral interview conducted by Herbert's daughter  Anne Sampson Harrison. Unfortunately, Carol Sampson died in 1998, with her oral history not having been completed.. 


Memories of Camden from the Oral History of Herbert Allen Sampson

Q- Where was the first home you remembered?

A- The first home that I can remember was at 12th, that I really remember, was on 12th and Penn streets in Camden.

Q- How old were you then?

A- I don't know, 3 or 4 years old.

Q- Do you remember what the house looked like?

A- Yeah, it was a row house and our next door neighbor was Arthur Meeks, we called him Meeky. He was a truck driver and we lived at 12th and Penn.

Q- How long did you live there?

A-I don't know, it was a while, because we were living there when they were building the Powell school on Linden street, that was the colored school, they were building a colored school out around 12th and Linden. I used to go over there and one of the guys, Richie Denton, used to let me ride on the dump wagons. They were horse drawn dump wagons at that time, they had an old steam shovel that would dig. You load them up, and the bottoms of them jacked up with an iron chain, with a chain, right and then there was a chock in it and when they loaded it and get to where they were going to drop it, they'd just hit this chock and the bottom would fall out of the wagon, you know, come out sideways and drop the load on the ground and then he'd pull ahead and then jack the bottom back up again. It was what they called a drop bottom wagon. And he used to let me, sometimes let me, ride on horses, I'd hold onto the reins and ride the horses while he was working.

Q- Do you remember any friends you had at that time?

A- No. No, I remember old Joe, old black Joe. He was a colored man, and he worked for the city of Camden. He had an old black horse with a three wheeled dump wagon and he swept the gutters, you know, the gutters in the streets and clean these gutters, you know. And that's what he did all day, he'd sweep with a big long broom and he'd shovel it into his wagon and take it out to the dump. He'd pull a pin and the body would dump back, then he'd push it right back again and come back and fill it up. He used to let me ride his horse. He had a big old black horse and he'd let me ride his horse. 

Q- Did he ever talk to you about where he lived?

A- No, he was, from what I remember, he was a boxer. A boxer when they fought bare fisted. From what people were saying, he was quite a boxer back then, but he was an old man, well he looked old to me, you know, I don't know how old he was. But he was a very nice person.

NOTE: The man that Herbert Sampson refers to in the two paragraphs above was Claude Brooks, of 1028 Linden Street, who, fighting under the name of Black Bill, was a professional boxer. - PMC

Q- What about your father? What are your memories of him?

A-Well, he was a good man, he worked hard, all the way up until he had that stroke. He always took care of us kids, we never wanted for anything. Well fed, well clothed, he had a pretty good job even during the depression. He had a good job over there, (at Westinghouse - ASH) he was making more than the average person was making. He was a leader, what they called a leader and he was making about 35 dollars a week. The average pay then was 10 to 12 dollars a week. In fact my mother fed half of Lawrence street most of the time during school time. She would make chicken soup or corn chowder, or some kind of stew or something like that, and some of the kids, when they came home for lunch time, they knew their wasn't no use in going home because they didn't have nothing at home. So my mom had a big round dining room table and all the kids used to come in and eat either corn chowder or stew or chicken soup or vegetable soup. And my father used to go down to Parkway Bakers, at, I think it was on 9th and Pearl on the corner, a big bakery. It was a big baking company. And we used to be able to buy French bread, was 4 cents a loaf, you could buy it day old, you know. You'd get it for 2 cents a loaf, day old. And then, I think it was Wednesday nights, you'd go down and get day old baked goods, like cinnamon buns, and hot cross buns and all kinds of donuts and stuff. They'd put them in a brown paper bag and you'd get them for 25 cents a bag. Pot luck, whatever you got in there, you know, that's what you got. You couldn't order, they'd have them all filled up and you paid 25 cents for the bag. And boy they were full, a whole bag full of stuff, you know, like pastries and stuff. It was good. But my Dad used to go down there and get 2 bags full and we'd
sit out on the steps on summer nights and he'd pass out the baked goods. We used to sit out there and sing, we all sang, Carol and me, John and Bill...well Bill, didn't he was too small, but John was big enough. Lil didn't sing to much, it was mostly me, Carol and John, sang. People used to gather to hear us sing.

Q- When you played together with your brothers and sisters, what kind of games did you play?

A- Oh, shit, mostly, the boys played with the boys and the girls with the girls. The boys all played sneaky pete and kick the can, you know, lame goose, that was a good one. 

Q- Lame goose?

A- Yeah, we played lame goose when there was a new guy in the crowd. The lame goose was it and he had his assistant and you had to like help him. If guys went up the alley and jumped over the fence, you had to help him over the fence, you know, put your hands out and let him step on your hands and help him over the fence, you know. Well we had it prearranged for someone to poop in the alley, and when the lame goose would step in it and you'd help the lame goose over the fence right into the pile. Hey, it was kids games. I can never remember, I don't remember any time that we ever, ever, destroyed anybody's property, marked it up, you know, like they do today. If my father had caught us doing stuff like that, he'd beat the hell out of us. We were mischievous, but not in that way. We'd have fights with other kids, we fought, you know and it was all fist fights, it wasn't guns and knives or anything like that, it was all dukes. 

We had gangs from South Camden would come down to North Camden, and we'd have fights, but it was all fist fights, it was no clubs or knives and guns.

Q-When you were growing up with your friends, was there ever any drinking involved?

A- Oh, well I drank on the farm, when I worked on the farm I drank whiskey, when I was 14. I started drinking whiskey when I was 14. I drank, well it was the booze, the homemade stuff, back in the 30's it was homemade. A lot of , you know, it was called Panther Piss, yea, corn squeezings, Panther Piss. It was pure alcohol, watered down, you know, corn alcohol. 

Q- You told me a story one time about you and a friend in his fathers cellar?

A- Oh, yes, that was Harry Marachak. We lived on Lawrence and he lived on 9th and Cooper, or 11th and Cooper. His father used to make wine. And he was one of the guys I ran around with, you know, we were small, about 7 or 8, something like that and he said his father had some grape juice, you know, his father made his own grape juice. So we went down his cellar, and on a sawhorse he had this keg with a bung in it, you know, a spigot. And on the steps he had these agate glasses or agate cups, you know they were like...not tin cups, they were like agate cups. And we started drinking this wine, we didn't know and we got a little loaded and started having fun, we were laughing and well, we didn't get off the steps. We didn't get off the steps and old man Marachak came home and caught us. He grabbed me by the hand and he marched me down home. He knew my father and he said, "Bill, him and young Harry got into the wine and he's loaded. They thought it was grape juice." Well my father he didn't, hey, well kids will do shit like that, so he didn't do anything. But I was sick, I was sick and I went to school the next day and Mrs. Lightcap was my teacher in that class, in that grade, well we only had the one class, it was an open class, and she was our teacher. And she was a little stinker, boy, she was hard. I'd sit there and my mouth got just as dry as cotton, you know, oh boy! from that wine you know. And I wanted to go out and get a drink, you had to go out in the hallway, they had the fountains out in the hallways. I went out there and I took a big couple of, 3 or 4 big swigs of water and when I came back in the classroom, I sit down and the whole room started going round and round and round, I was getting drunk again. The wine was reacting with the water and I was getting...I'm telling you, everytime I took a drink of water after that I got a load on. Shit! And Mrs. Lightcap says," What's the matter with you? Herbert! what's the matter with you." And I said," I don't know, I don't feel to good. 

Q- Did she let you go home?

A- No, no. She sent me down to the school nurse, right? And she said," What was you drinking yesterday? And I said," I don't know, I don't know. I couldn't tell her who supplied the wine. She said,   "You act like your drunk to me." The nurse said that. I said, "Oh, no. 

Q- Do you remember the nurses name? 

A- No, no I don't . The only one I remember, was a big polish teacher, that was in second grade? Or third grade, I forget, but it was an experience. If you were bad, or talking or throwing something, she would put you under her desk, instead of in the cloak room, she'd put you under her desk and she never wore no pants. 

Q- Underpants?

A- She never wore no pants, you could see everything she had. And Frankie Turner, a kid who used to live across the street from us, he was about 10 or 11 and he was big for his age and he was stupid, I think he went through third grade 2 or 3 years, he just couldn't get promoted. But he used to like to get under her desk. 

Q- Do you think that might of been why he never got promoted?

A- I don't know, I don't know what was going on, but I think he was under her desk more than anybody else in the room. 

Q- Do you remember what her name was?

A- No, but I know she was Polish and she had a big nose. She was a tall teacher, and I guess she was in her 30's and hey she was something else. The only other teacher I can remember was the art teacher, Mrs. Wells, she was beautiful, oh! she was a beautiful teacher. She was so nice. She taught art and music, and boy, I'll tell you she was really.....

Q- What school was this at?

A- Linden school, it was on 10th and Penn, no 10th and Linden. It was called Linden School, cause the new school they were building for the colored was right up the road, it was called Powell School, a colored school. That's when I used to ride the horses, when they were building that school. 

Q- What grades were in Linden School?

A-  I don't know, I think up to 8th grade, or no, er.. yeah up to 8th grade. 

Q- Did you go there the whole time?

A- No, I , when we moved to different places in Camden, down further in North Camden, I went to Sewell School, that was at 7th and Vine. 

Q- Do you remember any of you teachers there?

A- No, no I can't remember.

Q- What was your address when you went to Sewell School?

A- 905 Lawrence. Well, we lived at 8th and Lawrence and then 9th and Lawrence, then we lived at Fern street and then we lived at Kimber street. Kimber street is where Mom died. And that's when the family broke up. 

Q- Why did you move so much?

A- My mother was a great mover. We lived on, I don't know how many streets, in Camden. She moved twice in one day. I forget, I think we were living on Erie street and Dad didn't like it down there, it was too far to work in Camden, down by Pyne Point, down by the small shipyards down there, he didn't like that area. He came up to Fern street and he got this house and my Mother got the moving man, and he got the stuff on his truck and took it up to the new house and she said wait a minute and she went down in the cellar, and it was a dirt cellar and when she came up she was covered with fleas all over her legs and she said wait a minute, wait a minute, don't unload and she got out there and she went to this guy she was going to rent the house from and she told him and he said, well I have another one up the street, your welcome to see that one. It was about a half a block up the street and she went up there to see that one and that one had a cement cellar in it, it was the first cement cellar I can remember. The house had a cement cellar, cause all the cellars were dirt. 

A lot of the houses didn't have an inside bath room, so you had outside privies. Outhouses, you know? The way the outhouses was built, the outhouses were back to back, to the fence between the two houses. The back yard fence, the outhouses were built so the house adjoining you, next door to your house, the outhouses were on the middle fence, in between the two yards. Right? So you could go in there and talk to the people taking a dump in the one next door. 

Q- Socializing uh?

A- Yeah! When we lived on Lawrence street Rehfus' and old man Sheppard's houses were back to back, their privies were back to back. Mr. Sheppard, I don't know what his first name was, but he had him and a grown boy lived in that house. But he was an old man. 

Q- What street was that on? 

A- 8th and Lawrence street, that. The city of Camden at that time it was, people were piss poor, but I'll tell you what, houses were well kept, even row houses were well kept and clean, streets were clean. We didn't have electric lights we had gaslight on the street. There was gaslight and when I was a little kid I remember the lamplighter coming around lighting the lamps, a public service. They had gas lamps and they'd go from street to street lighting the lamps, they had something that made a spark and lit the gas and they had a wick in there, you know, gas wick. We didn't have electric then, in fact the houses we lived in didn't have no electric, it was all gas, no electric, everything was all gas. Then when they started putting electric in, my father wired, I don't know, 17 houses on that one block. He would do it nights and on Saturdays and Sundays. For electricity. 

Q- Do you remember what hundred block it was on Lawrence street?

A- 900 block. Well we lived on the 800 block and 900 block , we lived on both blocks at one time or another. It was fun. 

Q- Did you attend High school?

A-I went to 7th grade, that's as far as I went. I got promoted to 8th grade, but they took me out of school and said I had enough. 

Q- Who said you had enough?

A- The state board, because of my raising hell, they put me down on the farm.

Q- When and where did your parents die?

A- My Mom died on Cooper street in Camden in 1931. I can't remember the date but she
died in 1931 and my Dad died on Lawrence street, at Matlacks, Mrs. Matlack's, he was living there and he died in 1937. Eve and Bill Matlack, they called him Whimpy. He was her husband. He was always borrowing something til Tuesday, that's why they called him Whimpy.

We lived on Fogarty guts. Yea, it was a street off of Federal, Fogarty Avenue. We called it Fogarty guts. It was right between Carmen street and Federal street. It was only one block, that's all it was.

Q-Do you remember going to church at all?

A-Well, we used to go to church, we went to St. Mary's, but that was only once in a great while, mostly on the holidays, Easter or something like that. My father wasn't a great church going guy, he had his own beliefs, he didn't believe in any of that stuff, you know. I'm like he was. Religion with me. His belief was he'd do good, be as nice to other people as you want them to be to you and help anybody that you could help, anytime. And that was his religion, a creed that he lived by. He helped a lot of people, you know, that lived up and down the street that we lived on. Because he did make a little bit more money than most did. So we shared. In fact, it was tough back in the depression days, people didn't have squat, they didn't
have anything. You could rent a whole house for 7 dollars a month. A whole home, 6 room house for 7 dollars a month. 

Q- Who was the oldest person you remember as a child.

A- Oldest person? Old man Hershall, that lived across the street from us at 9th and Lawrence. He was 80 some years old when he lived there, he had 2 grown sons. I think his 2 grown sons lived there. There was the DeFalcos, who lived across the street from us. Mr. and Mrs. DeFalco and they had 3 sons, Sam, Bill, Alvin, 3 boys and one girl, I forget her name. They were good friends of ours. They were grown up and we were kids, but they liked my father. It was good back in them days. When we lived there at 9th
and Lawrence, there were 3 saloons on the corner and a Jewish store, Figerman's, a little corner store, grocery store, a Jewish (delicatessen?) , a little grocery store on the corner and across from that was Murkles saloon and across from that was uh, another saloon, I forget the name of it, that was the best one, and then there was another one, Doc Lackman's and he, there was a saloon there, and then he went out of the saloon buisness and built a drugstore there. The other saloon was Callahan's, Larry Callahan. That was on 9th and Lawrence. Lackman's was a saloon when he bought it and he run it as a saloon for about, I don't know, for a while and then he closed it up and changed it into a drug store, because he was a
druggist, you know. Getting back to the first dollar I ever made, it was on a summer night, and Jack Sharkey had fought somebody in Philadelphia, the fighter, Jack Sarkey, prize fighter. And after the fight he came over to Larry Callahan's saloon, with this bunch of guys, with his people, his handlers and they were in Larry Callahan's saloon. Well, they were having a big time over there, so I took my shoeshine kit and I run in there, I was shining shoes, you know? And this guy put his foot on my shoeshine box and boy, I looked up and I didn't know it was Jack Sharkey and he had white socks on and he said," Kid, don't get no polish on my white socks. I shined his shoes and he give me a whole dollar, I was only getting a nickel from the other guys, right, for a shoe shine. He gave me a whole dollar.

Q- That must have made your night.

A- Oh, geez, I ran out of that saloon over to home and put it right there... back in them days it was the big dollars, the old type dollars. They hadn't changed to the small dollar we got now. Oh, boy! My father
took it from me so I wouldn't lose it. He give it back to me. I saved it for my skates. I saved...see we used to go junkin, you know, during the daytime when we could, pick up rags and paper and iron and stuff and we'd sell them to junk yards. 

You only got a few pennies for them, but we also picked up whiskey bottles, the bottle gang, you know and we used to sell them to a colored lady on 11th and Cooper who used to make bathtub gin, you know, booze. Illegal booze, you know and well she'd give ya ...back in those days they only had the pints and the quarts, they didn't have the 5ths, she'd give you a penny for a pint and two cents for a quart. And if the labels were good on them, she'd give you a cent more each, two cents for a pint and 3 cents for a quart. And that's were we would earn our money, money to go to the movies with, you know? 

Q- And you bought skates with your money?

A- Yeah, a dollar and 99 cents for a pair of Union Hardware Skates. Street skates. They used to sell them, there was a hardware store on Broadway between Mickle and uh, right by Mickle street. It was the same name as, what's that big hardware store outfit now, they had , it's the same name. But that's where I think they first started. They went from hardware to sports. It's a big sports outlet...but anyway, the skates cost a dollar ninety eight a pair for Union Hardware street skates.

Q-What did your Mom like to do for relaxation?

A- Bake. Well, her and my dad ,when we were young, used to go out because I know some neighbors used baby sit us, stay and watch us if they wanted to go out. To a movie...

Q- Do you remember what neighbor?

A- Oh, yea, Ms. Lawson was one, she loved my mother. She was a big fat lady and boy she was big.

Q- Where did she live?

A- She lived halfway up Lawrence street, in the middle. She was married to a real skinny guy named Chick, and he worked in a candy factory and he would bring her home candy bars, boxes of candy bars. We'd run errands for her and she'd bring us in and in the dining room they had a big chiffonier (chifforobe), and in the top drawers were all kinds of candy bars. That was what made her so fat.

When she died, they had to take her out the window, because the door wasn't wide enough to get her out the door. Them houses on Lawrence street, the front window was real wide. 

Q- What about any other neighbors?

A- Yea, Mr. Heck (Rehfuss) and Dot Rehfuss, they lived on one side of us, and next to them were
Sheppards, the old man, then Matlacks, they lived there, up the street. Herrschafts were right across the street. DeFalcos were across the street and the Molls, they lived way up the block, on the same block, same street. They were.. they had 3 boys and 1 girl. They were tall. Every one of them was over 6 foot, 6'5, 6'6, big men and their daughter was big, and the mother was almost as tall as her sons.

Their father was dead, he got killed in the war, the first world war, you know. But they were grown up. They were nice people, they'd come down and sit and talk to my father and mother. Everybody called my dad, he was Dad Sampson to everybody. Cause he was old, one of the oldest men on the block, as old man Herrschaft. They were the two old men of the block. Everybody called my dad, Dad Sampson.

Q- You said your father had wired the houses on Lawrence street for electric lighting, do you remember the first time you saw electric light?

A- Oh, yeah. It was in our house. I'd seen electric lights, they had electric lights on the streets before they had them in houses, you see? The street was the first thing to get street lights. 

Q- I guess the lamplighter wasn't too happy to see that.

A- No, I guess they all had a job. Our house was the first house electrified on Lawrence street because my father done most of them. The wires was run through the old gas pipes. He used to run the wires through the old gas pipes and put lights where the old gas pipes where, the old gas mantles used to be in the hallways upstairs he'd run wires up through the gas pipes and put lights on the mantels, electric lights on
the mantels. Most of the upstairs walls, wires ran up the wall and then across the ceiling to the center of the room and then he had a piece of wood that was shaped like a U that went over it to cover the wire on the wall.

Q-Do you remember the first time you saw a car?

A-Oh, yea, cars. The Model T. All the old cars I remember. 

Q- They had old cars when you were growing up?

A- Yeah, sure, there were old cars. Their long gone like Packard's, well the Oldsmobile is still here, but Billies Night and Grand cages, geez I can't think of the names of all the old cars. They had Rios and Essex  there were 50-60 types of old cars, you know, but they all went out of business. What put most of them out of business was when Henry Ford went into production line, making them in production. It would be made on the production line, everybody would do their work and when it came out the other end, it was a car. Model T Fords were cheap, no Model T Fords weren't cheap, they were running for around 2,000.00.

They didn't start to get cheap until the Model A's came out and then they were cheap until about 1931-32 and then they were not cheap. Cause I remember when I bought my first car, I bought a new car, when I was working on the farm in Salem. I had saved all my money picking, muskrat and loggerhead's and stuff I'd trap and I had 2,300.00 in the bank, and old man Hecksher and I went down to a sale at Hancock's Bridge and they were selling this farm down there and he wanted me and Jake to pool our money and buy the farm and he would stock it for us. And he would get half of what we made. 50 per cent, you know, sharecropping. I wanted the car, I didn't want nothing to do with farms. So, I had my eye on it, this 37 Chrysler, it was in a Chrysler-Plymouth dealer right on the corner, on sale. It was big, a four door, pitch black, oh boy it was beautiful. A lot of chrome on it and it had white walls, the big wide... I was looking at them on the pike at a Ford place, they had a Ford place out there. That same year Ford came
out with an 85 horsepower Ford. V8, it was V8. Ford had had only 60 horsepower, but the bigger the car the more horsepower. The V8 came out with 85, and it was fast, but you couldn't go fast because if you did it would fly. I said the hell with it, I want this Chrysler, 1,140.00 brand new, right out of the showroom. The Ford was only 475.00 brand new, right out of the showroom. You wouldn't believe that, would you?

Q- How about a Refrigerator?

A- My father bought my mother a Norge Refrigerator, it was built by Norge and Company, and it had a big ,large unit that sat on top of it. That was the first one I had ever seen. 

Q-  A Unit?

A- Yeah, the motor sat on top of it. It looked like a... I can't describe what it looked like....a big round unit that sat on top of it. That's what ran it. When my family was growing up we had ice boxes and we had window boxes in the winter time. 

Q- Window Boxes?

A- Window boxes in the winter time, just lift the window and open the box and put your butter and stuff out there so it got froze. 

Q- Out the window?

A- Yeah, it set on the window sill, they were called window boxes.

Q- You said to ask you about the Salem Jail.

A-When the picture King Kong was playing at that time in Camden, it came first to the Stanley Theatre and they had fake search lights going through the sky and a big cardboard thing of King Kong out front. It played there for about a couple weeks before I had the money to see it at a special price. Then it came next to the Grand Theatre on Broadway, and it was playing there for about 2 weeks at the Grand Theatre and there was a whole bunch of us kids out front, we used to sneak in the movies when we didn't have the money to go. So what we used to do is wait for the first show to stop and the people started coming out and we'd get in amongst the people and we'd back in and make believe we was coming out. We did that so
much, that they knew what we were doing, and they'd throw us out. They had ushers there and they'd throw us out. So we went down to Cooper street and got in a couple cars that were open and we got some screw drivers and stuff and a pinch bar and we went back in the alley beside the theatre and took the exit doors off the hinges and when the show started we just dropped them in because there's a big aisle there and we knew it wouldn't hit nobody, and then we all rushed in, there was about 14 of us, and took seats and nothing happened and we were sitting there for about a good half hour and they were putting the door back up. You'd hear them putting the door back up and then all of a sudden the lights went on and there were cops everywhere. And the ushers were going, that's him, that's him... 

Q- They knew you by site, uh?

A- Yeah, I guess. We were stupid kids, we were out there for 2 or 3 nights trying to sneak in and they knew all of them. So I ducked down and I'm crawling under the seats, you know, from aisle to aisle on my belly. Well, I don't know, some fat lady, she got me by the neck and said, "I got one, I got one." She had me around the neck like a rag doll. They took us down to the city jail, that used to be before the new courthouse was built. It was on Haddon avenue, Haddon avenue and I think 8th street or 7th street. It was like on an angle, the old city hall used to be there. So they put us all up in this one room and Bobby Giles is over by the window and he say's, "Hey, Herb the bars are loose." So we went over there and the bars were loose, so we just took the bars out and right outside from this window was a big branch from this tree. So we went out the window and down the tree, and we was jail breakers. So, we all went home. 

Q- All of you?

A- Well there was about 5 of us that got out. We went home. 

Q- They didn't make the others blow the whistle on you?

A- We didn't have to worry about that, they had our names when they took us in there. Our names and addresses. They just came right to the house and picked us up. So, we had our day in court and we were all lined up. In the court they had a big railing that ran in front of the judge, where the judge sat. We were all lined up around that railing and our mothers and fathers were in back of each one of us. So when he came to me, he knew my father. 

Q- The Judge did?

A- The judge knew my father. 

Q- What judge was it?

A- Pancoast, Judge Pancoast. He was an old boozer, everybody thought he had water, but he had gin up there. He had big cherry red nose, he was a big boozer. But he knew my father and when he came to me, he said," Bill, what are we going to do with him?" My father said, " Whatever they get he gets." So they took us all out to the detention home on 43rd street, 43rd and... I think it was Federal, 43rd and
Federal. There was a detention home out there and we were all out there and the room I was in, you could look out the window and you could see the new city hall, it was just being built, with the scaffolding around it and everything. So we was big jail breakers. They kept us there a week or so and then let us leave. Turned us all loose. 

Q- What was the food like there? Was it terrible?

A- Oh, no, the food was good. They had an old lady there, the matron, her name was Mrs. Ames. She was the matron and she lived there and she had a son, an older son, about 14 and he was there also. They had like an apartment there. The school teacher, his name was Sharietty (Phonetic spelling). He had a sister teaching class. 

Q- You had school while you were in there?

A. Yeah, we didn't miss nothing, we had to go to school and when you'd sit in the classroom, he had, right lined up on his desk, he had a big ten pin, like a bowling pin and a duck pin, then he had a candle pin. And it was according to the size of the person that was getting whacked, as to which pin he used. And he'd whack you, he'd whack the hell out of you. 

This one kid, his name was Levondusky, Felix Levondusky (phonetic). He'd been there, oh, for a long
time and they called him, Sharietty called him General Felix Levondusky of the Polish Army, of the Polish Grand Army and the kids got a big kick out of it. Well anyway, he was acting up, you know and he went down around him and he just bopped him on the side of the head with the kingpin. And Mrs. Ames was coming into the classroom, so he just picked him up , set him up with a book in his hand.

Q- He was knocked out?

A- Yeah, he was knocked out, heh, he wasn't all together out, but he was out. Heh, when he hit you, he hit you. That's the way it was back in them days, they'd knock the hell out of you. The big guards would knock hell out of you. 

Q- So you spent a week in there?

A- Yeah, well, about 8 or 9 days.

Q- (You didn't like it too much, huh?

A- Oh, well, heh, a couple of the younger kids cried cause they were in there. Most all of us, we knew we were going to get out, you know, in a week or so. But that was funny, that was our big criminal's escape. 

Q- Did they ever try to get back in the movie theatre again?

A- Oh, hell yeah. 

Q- But not by removing the door, right?

A- We used to go down to the Lyric Theatre on Broadway and Chestnut...

Q- You switched theatres?

A- At the Lyric theatre they had a big round thing in the sidewalk, like a manhole. That's where the coal went down for the theatre, the coal bin. And we used to lift that and go down through the coal bins into the
cellar, and come up into the theatre and take seats. 

Q- They never caught you?

A- Hell, yea. We went there, in the daytime they had, on Saturday's they had these audience participation, amateur hour, you know? Some kids got up and tap danced, and Harry Marashak said, " Hey, Herb, get up there and sing." And when they said is there anybody else, I raised my hand, see they had a pit orchestra in the theatre, you know. And they said what are you going to sing? And then they
said," Hey how did you get in the theatre", cause I had coal smudges all over me. I said, " I came through the front door." He said, "Did you wash before you came take a lesson from the Lark." The guy said do you know that, and the guy in the orchestra said yes, and I started singing and I won $5.00. I won the top prize and I don't know whether it was for the dirt or the song. But I won 5 bucks. Of course we divided it amongst all of us. But I tell you, it was good times, we didn't hurt nothing. We did a little more than we should of done, we shouldn't of taken the door off the hinges, but what the hell, we were missing King Kong. 

Q- Well King Kong would have been a very drastic draw, right?

A- Heh, yeah, boy that was great. I think out of my lifetime I've seen that 25 times, you know. 

Q- What about the 5 dollars, what did you do with it?

A- Well, we divided it amongst us and we went out an pissed it away, you know on candy and ice cream.

Q-How is the world different now from what it was like when you were a child?

A- Oh, there's no comparison to the way it was when we were kids. Everybody was poor, from what I can remember when I was a kid. Most of the people were poor and they all helped each other. Neighbors, you knew your neighbors up and down your street like you knew your own kids. Not, like today, you can live next door to someone for 10 years and not even know their names, or care whether there dying or sick or anything else. When my Mom was sick, the people up and down the street used to come in and help us kids. Some would cook for us and some would help us clean and stuff, do our washing and stuff like that, help. You don't hear that today. Has anybody ever helped you? Tell me, how long have you lived here?

Q- Since 87, the only neighbor we know is the one on the left.

A- That's the same way, you're not alone, that's the same way with everybody, nobody cares about who
lives next door or who lives up the road from them, or any place else. It's hurray for me and the hell with everybody else. There so busy living today that they don't care about people. People, back when I was a kid, Jesus Christ, if somebody was sick or somebody needed help, everybody jumped in and helped each other, today it's a rat race.

Q-Who was taking care of your father?

A- Eve Matlack. She was a neighbor of ours. He boarded with her.

Q- Do you know where she lived?

A- Lawrence, 912 Lawrence street.

Q- When both your parents had passed away, what happened to the kids right after the
death of your father? Where did they go?

A-Well, they were put in different homes. We went to the Children's Home first and then they were farmed out from the children's home. 

Q- Where was the Children's Home?

A- On Haddon avenue in Camden. They had a children's home there. We all went there and then they farmed us out from there. 

Q- How long were you there?

A- I wasn't there very long, because, er...they didn't keep me long anyplace, because I was a little bit incorrigible and they couldn't control me. 

Q- Do you remember anything about the days of prohibition and how did it affect you and your family?

A- My father wasn't a drinking man, he drank wine once in a while, a glass of wine that's about the most he drank or once in a while a glass of home grown beer, what they called home brew. People back in those days made there own, Mrs. Palmer used to always make home brew, you know. In big crocks, big 5 gallon crocks, 5 or 6 gallon crocks. And everybody was making brew and bathtub gin and stuff. That's where we used to sell the bottles. We used to sell the bottle to these people who made illegal whiskey. We'd collect all the bottles around town and sell them to the bootleggers. That's where we made our movie money, and stuff we wanted to get like softballs and stuff. 

Q- Do you remember any kinds of raids, like federal raids?

A- No, back in them days, there was the mob in Philly, the Lanzetti brothers. That was the big mob in Philly, there was 5 of them, they all got killed, gun down on the street. There was Frankie, Teo, and I forgot the rest of the names, but they all got gunned down on the street, you know, during prohibition. That was the big thing, the number rackets, the same thing. I used to sell papers, years ago, when I was a kid. A guy used to have a paper stand at ninth and Penn and he used to catch the traffic coming from Philly into Camden and going outside of Camden. On Penn street they had a red light there and a couple of us kids would circulate amongst the cars and sell the papers, they were 2 cents for a paper. And the guy got 1/2 cent a paper so he had to sell 4 papers to make one cent. And he done it as a business and he had a bunch of us kids....and we'd run around there different papers and we had to carry so many of each paper, for whoever wanted to buy the papers. And at the end of the night, maybe two hours, he gave us each a nickle, for two hours of running around amongst cars.

Q- A Nickle?

A- Oh, yeah, a nickle was a lot of money, for 4 cents you bought a loaf of bread. A hamburger was only 4 cents. You could buy, if you went in a butcher shop and bought a pound of pork chops which was 29 cents, they gave you a pound of spareribs for nothing, for buying their pork chops or steak. Steak was around 30 some cents a pound. He traded a pound and a half of spareribs. 

Q- He didn't know how much they were worth then?

A- Well,  they weren't worth nothing, because you could by that for almost 2 cents a pound. 

Q- What about Clothes? Did you buy them a lot at stores?

A- Well, clothes, you wore them until there was nothing left of them, and you handed them down from one person to another, like the girls clothes were handed down, the boys clothes were handed down. Hand me downs. 

Q- But the new clothes where did they come from?

A- Well my father bought us clothes, we had enough money for clothes, clothes was cheap too. You could practically... suits were 9 dollars, for a suit of clothes. You could by a whole suit of clothes for 9 dollars. 

Q- Where did you shop when you bought clothes?

A- I don't know my father done that, my father and mother done that, I mean...

Q- So you didn't go with them?

A- No, we didn't go with them, we didn't have no way to go with them anyway, what, are you going to
troop us down there in a line.

Q- Well, when you bought shoes you had to go.

A- My father, my mother knew the sizes for each of us kids, we mostly used sneakers. You could buy a brand new pair of sneakers for 75 cents, and they'd last you, Keds they were the best buy for 75 cents a pair. They'd last you for at least 6 months and shoes you wore till there wasn't no tops left on them. They used to sell these resoles, that they used to sell in the 5 & 10, and you pasted them on the bottom, when the soles wore out, like retreads on the bottom of the sole, as long as the tops was good. And the heels, you'd take them to a shoemaker to put new heels on them. You wore everything til it was down to bare facts.

People had school clothes, maybe you had 2 sets of school clothes and the rest was play clothes and when you came home from school you changed your clothes. You couldn't go out and play in your school clothes. That was a god awful sin. And that's the way it was. Let me say something about some of the things we had back in them days.

Out on Admiral Wilson boulevard, that's the boulevard going out of Camden, you know, towards the Airport Circle, they had what they called a loop de loop. It was all made of wood and it went up and down hill like this, like a roller coaster and you went on it with people by fives went on it, to ride it, a car load of people, and you went on it and whee you went up and down hill and then you'd come out the other side and that was what was called the Loop de loop. And that was a big thing back in them days. Then they had the open air theatre, which was the first I think in the whole world, was in Camden on Admiral Wilson boulevard.

Q- Was that the starlight?

A- No, this was an open air theatre, you know, regular open air theatre? 

Q- Drive-in theatre. Yeah, we had the first one in the world right there. 

Q- I remember them having it and then they tore it down...

A- No, this was tore down way before your time. It was tore down way before the war, because they built a big factory there. I forget the name of the factory that was built there. On 18th street. 

Q- 18th and Admiral Wilson?

A- No, it was between 18th and, it was on 18th between Admiral Wilson and Federal streets. But they built that whole area up later on. But, that was there, the open air theatre, the first in the United States, the first open air theatre, drive-in in the United States. 

Then the airport, back in them days, they had walk-a-thons in the hangers, I used to sit up in the bleachers and they had these walk-a-thons. Couples would get up there and dance, they called them walk-a-thons, they'd dance and dance and dance. So many minutes out of each hour as long as they could last and they stayed until...they had numbers on their back.... whoever won. Do you know what the prizes were? 

Q- No.

A- New shoes. The one that used to put that on was Energetic shoes.

Q- Well, you'd probably need new shoes after all that dancing.

A- No, they supplied you with a new pair of shoes, when you went on. 

Q- Oh, God, that must have been terrible. Dancing in new shoes that long.

A- Hey, they were shoes that fit you. One of the celebrities that came out of that was Red Skelton. Red Skelton, his partner dropped out, I don't know, after a week or something like that, his partner dropped out, but he was so funny, that they kept him on like a clown. 

Q- Red Skelton lived in Camden?

A- Well, I don't know where he lived, but he was in that walk-a-thon, and that's where he first came into being known. When the walk-a-thon was over he went into vaudeville, cause he was funny. So us kids used to sneak in out there, we snuck in and we'd sit under and look under the bleachers at these people. The women were sleeping on the men's shoulders for a while and the men were sleeping on the women's shoulders for a while. But they had to keep moving. Once they stopped they had to get off the floor. If a women dropped out and a man dropped out, their partners could team up and keep on going. But it had to be a man and a women together. It was funny. And then right down from that was a speak-easy. They served beer, but they weren't allowed to serve whiskey. Alice Reed played there, she played the piano.

Q- Alice Reed?

A- Alice Reed, played the piano back in them days, she, Oh, that women could play the piano. She knew songs that were from way back, you know. She was great. She used to play at Johnny and Al's, when she was up in years. When your Mommy and I used to go out to Johnny and Al's, on route 38. It was like a sing-a-long bar. The bunch of us, Johnny and Floss, your Aunt Florence [His brother John's wife - ASH]. You know, when we did go out.

Q- How did the depression affect you?

A- Oh, no, my father, I think I told you, my father was a leader at that time over at Westinghouse electric, and he made 35 dollars a week. 

Q- It didn't effect his job in any way?

A- It didn't affect our living, but the people around us, they had people on welfare, but you see you just couldn't go collect welfare, you had to work. WPA or whatever it was, Work Project Association, if you didn't turn out, lean on a shovel, that's what they used to call it, it was fixing roads and cleaning roads and
all that. You just didn't go down there and collect a check. You had to get out there 5 days a week and work, to get that, I think you'd get 12 dollars a week.

Q- Today they call that demeaning.

A- What? 

Q- Making people work for their welfare checks.

A- Oh, well, hell, you had to do it or you didn't get none. You had to sign up, you know, the adult was the man of the house and if he wasn't working he had to get out there... that's how they used to keep the city streets clean and everything else back in them days. The City of Camden, you could eat off them streets in them days, it was clean. People cared about the city and Broadway was a beautiful.. Broadway in Camden was beautiful. You didn't have no closed up stores and cages in some of the stores, to keep the people from breaking the windows and stealing.

We had none of that, we had beautiful department stores, small shops, clothing shops. All up and down Broadway from Federal street all the way to Kaighn avenue, it was beautiful. And at Christmas time, it was all lit up, it was out of this world. You wouldn't know, you'd have to see it to believe what it used to be like.

The City of Camden, North Camden...  

Q- Well, I can see the difference between when I was a child and when I went down there recently.

A- Even when you were a child, certain people turned, no matter how much you did for them, they turned the area right into a slum. You'd give them the best, and they turned it right into a slum and they did it right in Camden. That's why the city of Camden is like it is today. A slum.

Q-What were your favorite toys and what were they like?

A-The toys were anything from pot lids to digging holes in the back yard. Building old wagons out of baby coach wheels and stuff like that. Building scooters out of skate wheels, you put skate wheels on a two by four with a box on the front of it with handles on the side. It was a scooter, everybody made them, they made so much noise. But that was it. Kids built their own toys because people didn't have the money to buy store bought toys. Bicycles they got from scraps of bicycles and made them. Somebody would throw out the body of a bicycle, find a wheel somewhere... it was a haphazard thing.

Q-What were your favorite childhood games?

A-Yeah, well games we played outside, mostly with other guys, like I said, Sneaky Pete, Lame Goose, Kick the can. They weren't games you got at the store, they were games you played outside. We use to play stick ball and widgets, kick the widget, kick the can.

Q-What fellow classmates from school do remember you best?

A-I haven't met any of my classmates or any of my playmates, ever again. When I left for the farm that was the last.....the only ones I can remember are Georgie Rehfus, who lived next door to me, I met him in a bar room in Cramer Hill a few years afterwards. But all the old friends Harry Marachak, Junior McDonald and Bobby Giles and Freddie O'Shaughnessy there all dead and I never met any of them afterwards 

Q- After going to the farm

A- Yeah, I did meet some, Sally Agegian and Sammy Agegian, Johnny Agegian, Rosie and Ricky Agegian. I used to help her wash her fathers windows. Her father had a barber shop. There were 2 barber
shops on 9th street, almost on 9th and Lawrence just off the corner and the Larusso's, Harry LaRusso's father had one barber shop and then there was a house in between and then there was another barber shop, which was Agegian's. Old man Charlie Agegian's. He had Rosie, Charlie, Ricky....what's the one I just mentioned? Anyway, Ruthie used to, every Saturday morning, wash the windows and I would
hold the ladder. 

Q- I wonder why, God Dad.

A-Hey, we were kids. She'd say, "Don't look up. Don't look up." 

Q- And of course you had to right?

A- As soon as she'd say don't look up, I'd ha, ha, ha....Hey it was funny. Hey that was
normal stuff for children, you know. 

Q- How old were you about then?

A- Oh, 8 or 7. She was around 13, 14.

Q- Did you and your friends have a special hang-out where you liked to spend time?

A-Yes, 9th and Lawrence. Amongst all our ?____ ? And down on the railroad tracks. That's where I first got caught smoking. We were back in the woods, sitting back in the woods by the railroad tracks, waiting for lead tubes to come down. We used to get these lead tubes that they had to paste in for, oh eh, patching tubes, tire tubes, ones that were broke. They would throw them off, they'd come down in a box car and we would pick them up because they were lead and we would squeeze the glue all out of them and melt the lead down, and sell the lead. So, we were sitting on the railroad track, me and Bobby Giles, we were smoking butts, I was 6. 

Q- 6?

A- 6 years old, yeah, that was pretty old for a kid back in those days. You learned real quick, your education, you know was real fast. And we used to go out junking when I was 6-7 years old. For papers, rags and papers and good metals and stuff you know like copper or brass. Well we were sitting there on rail tracks waiting for tubes to come down, and we were smoking butts, that we got from the street, you
know. And we were paying no attention, but my father had got off....he usually got off the bus at 9th street, that was in front of the Wills company and walked down. He used to walk down 9th street to 9th and Lawrence. Right? From Federal street. He missed... it was crowded in the bus and he had a bouquet of flowers, it was on a Wednesday night, he always brought my mother home a bouquet of flowers on
Wednesday night, pay night. He put that bouquet of flowers and his pay check on the dining room table. I can remember that always. He, uh, got off at
10th street instead of cutting down 10th and coming down Cooper to 9th he cut across down through the railroad tracks, which cut diagonal from 10th to 9th, in back of the Wills company, where we were sitting there smoking, and I felt something hitting me on the head, you know, he had a finger that went like this, [the middle finger- ASH] and was hard and he'd tap you on the head like that, and I looked up ,an he took us home, and he...Bobby lived on 8th and Lawrence, his mother worked so we used to take care of him, but his Mom was home and we knocked on the door and
Marie Giles, she was his mother, she came to the door and said, "What do you got here, Bill?" And he said," What do you think I caught these guys doing? Sitting on the railroad tracks smoking."

"What!!!", she said. "Yea, he said, "smoking." I figured I was going to get wailed you know. She grabbed Bobby and took him in the house, and he took me home. He said,"Where did you get the cigarettes?" I told him, I said, "We got butts, you know that the other people had discarded. We took the big ones, you know." He said, " I don't want you doing that no more." And every morning he'd leave me 3 cigarettes on the dining room table. 

Q- He let you smoke?

A- Yeah, well he knew he couldn't stop me, he'd have to follow me around 24 hours of the day to stop me and I had already begun to smoke, so he didn't want me sniping butts, that's what we used to call it, Sniping Butts.

People would ask him, "What do you leave him smoke for?" And my father would tell them, " What am I going to do? Tell him not to smoke? He's going to smoke whether I tell him not to or not." At least now I know where he gets the cigarettes. If I catch him sniping, he's going to get his ass wailed. After that we
used to go over and buy them at Mae Greenley's. You got 2 for a cent if they were Wings, Marlboro's, Funny Grahams, you know, cheap cigarettes were 2 for a cent. But Old Golds, Chesterfields, Luck Strike, Camels or any of the good brands, were one for a cent. You could buy them loose. You could buy loose cigarettes in any store because people didn't have enough money to buy a pack, for 12 cents. A pack of cigarettes cost 12 cents. A pack of Wings cost 9, or 8. Nine cents a pack. They didn't have it to buy a pack of cigarettes, that's how times were tough, so they used to sell them 2 for a cent. Then we used to have a roller, my father had a roller, he never used it but we did, you know, to roll your own cigarettes. We'd get papers, we'd go to the tobacco store and ask them for papers and they'd give you a pack of papers. And we'd buy a bag of Bull Durham or Union Jack, you know loose tobacco in a pack. And in the cans there was Velvet, oh eh, there was 2 or 3 good brands that came in cans. Half and Half came in a can that the can telescoped, as the tobacco went down, you know, as you use the tobacco, you'd squeeze the top down and it kept the tobacco at the top. The can slid inside each other, that was called Half and Half , that was put out by Lucky Strike. And Velvet, oh, I can't remember the rest of them, but we used to roll our own cigarettes. I got that and we had it in our bunk house, in our bunk house that we made down by the railroad tracks. And we rolled our own cigarettes. 

Q- It was a club house?

A- Yeah, like our own club house, were we'd roll our own cigarettes. 

Q- Is that where you hung out most of the time?

A- Yeah, we used to hang out down by the railroad tracks.

Q-Were you ever given any special awards for your studies or school activities?

A-Yeah, I skipped 3rd grade and I skipped 5th grade and I went into 7th and I was only there for a short time and then they skipped me to 8th grade and that's when they took me out of school. I skipped grades because I used to help my sister Lil do her homework and I knew her work as good or better than I did my own when I went into the classes, and I'd only be there a couple of weeks and they figured they'd
advance me, you know, try me in another class and I'd stay there. I was good in school, if I had been able to go to school and go through high school and everything else, I'd have finished, but I wasn't allowed. I never had the advantage of it because Jake Woods, took me out of school. 

Q- That was a shame.

A- Well it was a shame, but what the hell, I made out all right. I got my education out behind the

Q-What did you usually wear to school? Describe it.

A- Well, back then the boy's wore knickers, you know, knee length knickers and socks and shoes, you know. Little boys didn't wear long pants until quite a while. The knickers fit like long pants because they never stayed up where they belonged, so they'd hang down around your ankles. They'd look like bloomers, you know. That was it and a shirt. We had good clothes, you know.

Q- Name a good friend that you have known for the longest period of time?

A-Oh, a good friend ? That would be Lenny, Lenny Shallus, remember the one that had Terry's Cafe? They bought Larry Callahans...Herb Decker bought it from Larry Callahan, Larry was in the Army when that happened, then Herb Decker sold it to Lenny's father, Terry Shallus. 

Q- Where was it located?

A- On 9th and Lawrence. But Georgie Rehfus, he lived next door to us, he was my buddy and I still knew him afterwards, from Terry's after the war and everything.

Q- So how long have you been friends with Lenny?

A- Oh, since we were kids, little kids.

Q- As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A-An Ashman. 

Q- A what?

A-An Ashman. 

Q- What's that?

A-He collected ash and peat. Years ago everybody burned coal for heat and there was trash day and then there was ash day. Trash day you put the trash cans and bottles and papers and whatever. But ash day was Wednesday, cause that's why they called it Ash Wednesday, cause they used to collect all the ashes. You couldn't collect them at the same time you collected the other because a lot of people would put ashes out that still had hot cinders in them and if you throw them in with a wagon or truck loaded with, well it was wagons in the early days, loaded with papers and stuff, you'd have a fire going down the street. You know. So they only collected them on Wednesday. And them guys, they were mostly colored people that worked that from the ashes, from the white of the ashes, they were all white because, they'd throw the cans of ashes up and there was a guy up there that dumped them and then he'd throw the cans back down and they'd catch them and sit them on the sidewalk. 

Q- Was it because they got dirty, that you wanted to be an ashman?

A- I don't know, they looked so great you know. The job looked so great to me.

Q- What is the funniest practical joke you ever played on anyone?

A- Answered by Mrs. Herbert Sampson- David Gladney, 

A- Our next door neighbor down on Bailey Street got a new car, he was so proud of that car and one Sunday morning, me and Calvin Krause, who lived next door to me on the other side, we took my jack, a little scissor jack and we jacked up the wheel on his car, the back wheel of his car, just so you couldn't see that it wasn't touching. And him and his wife came out, they were going to leave and he started the motor up and he let it warm up and he put it in gear and it didn't go anywhere. It was rocking back and forth and the car wouldn't go and he's wondering what's wrong with his new car. Me and Calvin, we were up on the porch and we couldn't stop laughing and he happened to turn around and see us laughing and he got out and he saw the jack and he just took the bumper and lifted it up and just shoved it off the jack. Oh, boy, that was funny. 

A- Answered by Mrs. Herbert Sampson- They kept turning around and they weren't going anywhere.) It was funny. 

Q- Didn't you do that again to him with a potato?

A- No, we stuck a potato in the tail pipe. 

Q- Who's car was that?

A- Oh, I forget. It was in work, I think it was Gieshal's car. We stuck a potato in there. It would run, but then it would build up pressure and then stall out. And he was a mechanic too, and he was going what the hell... and all of a sudden he tramped down on it and the potato came out of there like a shotgun. 

Q- What was Mr. Gladney's wife's name?

A- Ruth, Ruth Gladney.

Q- And the other neighbor on the other side was?

A- Mary and Calvin Krause.

Q- What activities have you especially enjoyed as an adult?

A- I liked when I played in the band, I played in a combo, I played you know in different night clubs.

Q- Who was in the band?

A- Georgie Davidson, Al Bush he was off and on, Eddie Bowles, Mousie, we never knew his last name, he was the trumpet player. Oh, eh, Al Jensen on the drums, me on the bass fiddle and well we had
another guitar player who played with us, Georgie Lewis, he played guitar and 4 or 5 other instruments, he was good, and he sang. 

Q- What did Ed Bowles play? 

A- He played the sax.

Q- And Georgie Davidson? 

A- He played guitar. 

Q- And Al Bush?

A- He played guitar or banjo. 

Q- Some times Cush Krause played didn't he?

A- Yea, Cush and Dave Gladney (On piano - ASH) played, that was our Bailey street band. We had a
band on Bailey street, just the guys on the street. We got together and had jam sessions. I had girls that took instruments, but they never made anything of it. 

Q- What was the Old folks home we went to and played that time.

A- The Old Soldiers home in Vineland. 

Q- They were the ones we tortured?

A- Answered by Mrs. Herbert Sampson- Helen played the accordion there. I remember she'd always have a big bow in her hair.

Excerpts from an Oral Interview with Carol Sampson-Feaster

Q-Were you baptized and if so, in what religion.

A- Protestant. It was a Presbyterian church. I was baptized in this church because I remember being dipped in the water.  [First Presbyterian Church - {MC]

Q- So you were older? 

A- Yea, I was about 9 years old, that I remember that, I don't know, I guess I was baptized as a baby. I lived at Ninth and Lawrence street and it was on 8th and Cooper, it was just one street over and one street down. 

Q- I know there was a Catholic Church down there, Holy Name Church.

A- No, it was Presbyterian, cause they dipped you in the water.

Q- The whole body dipped in the water?

A- Yeah, you had like a robe on and they had an arm on your back and just leaned you back and dipped your whole face.

Q- What was the first home you remembered?

A- The first one I remembered was Fogarty Avenue. I remembered that and I remember,
what's when my sister Peggy, my half-sisters Peggy and her husband came to visit
and Faye come down and they stayed for a while. I'm going to say she might have
been around 16 she wasn't married and Peggy had just gotten married. And her
husband's name was Stone, they called him Stoney. 

Q- Dad say's his first name was Harry.

A- I can remember Faye and her and I would lay on the couch and she would
read to me and that's the last time I ever saw her. I never saw them after that.

Q- They lived with you in 1930, that's what dad said.

A- They didn't stay, I don't remember them staying.

Q- Do you remember any of the friends you had at that time?

A- The only ones I really remember was when I was older and I was in the Children's home. I can remember one funny story, when I was in the first children's home. It was right before my mother died or right after. They put us all in the Camden Home for Children on Haddon Avenue. 

Q- The Home for the Friendless?

A- Yeah, the Home for the Friendless Children, and I was 9 and I had 3 kids to take care of
besides myself. I had to make sure they had their baths and were ready to go to church on Sunday's. They used to be inspected by the matron, to make sure they were all right and that you were doing your job alright. We'd walk to church and another girl, I can't remember her name, but the living room on the first floor and we were on the 4th floor, the girls, and the boys were on the 3rd . We were down in the sewing room. Like every day, you didn't have your own clothes, you just wore anything that fit you, you know, everything would be washed that night and then the next morning you were issued clothes that fit you and that's what you wore. Like what you had on today, I might have worn yesterday. We were down there and we were putting them (the clothes) on the dumbwaiter. You had to pull it up till it was on the 4th floor and then I'm up there on the 4th floor taking them off and putting them away. And we got to fooling around, messing around and we're hollering things up and down the dumbwaiter , stick your head in, here comes a woodpecker and it wasn't her that was down there it was the sewing lady, Mrs. Fisher. And she was a lady and she had gray hair and it was up on a great big knot on top and she said," Who is that up there? You come down here." And I said to

her," I'm sorry, we were fooling around." And she said," You're not supposed to be fooling around, you're supposed to be working. She made me write 500 times, "I must not say to Mrs. Fisher, Stick your head in here comes a woodpecker." 500 times, I had to go to her room, every afternoon around 4 o'clock and I had to sit there and write so many till I had 500 done. 

You know, these were the things and eh...when, the dining room, when you went in there, you had to sing, and everybody marches 2 by 2 and you sing a song going in and then you'd say grace and then everybody sits down. They served Squash and it was mashed and it had no taste, they had no salt and pepper on the tables and you handed them you plate and they went ahead and filled it up and I said," What is that?" And they said," It's squash, it'll make you grow." Well I couldn't eat that, but you weren't allowed to throw anything away , but like chicken bones or anything that was unedible, like bones of any kind. Everything else was edible. But I couldn't eat this squash, so when I went up to take my plate back up, you scrape what was left in a big pan and then they put your plate on the table. So, I scraped it in but she caught me. 

Well she said," Young lady, come with me." And she grabbed me by the ear and she took me into the kitchen. And I said, " I'm sorry, but I couldn't eat that, it was making me sick. And she said, "Well, your going to eat some, "she said, " That's good for you though, it's good for your bones and will make you grow." and she's going on with all this baloney. So she sat me down with a soup bowl full of it and handed me a spoon and said start eating. Well, I just looked at the dish and upchucked all over. And she said," You can go. So she let me go, I was surprised she didn't make me clean it up. The next time we had squash, she made sure she didn't put none on my plate. 

Q- How old were you then?

A- I was about 9. 

Q- How long were you there?

A- I guess I was there for about a year or so. Another thing they had there, did Herb tell you they had a great big tank on the side of the building? It looked like an oil tank only it was smaller round, you know. It went from the 4th floor down to the first floor and it was a fire escape, and it had a, like a sliding board, there were no steps, it was a sliding board, so every Saturday they let you practice, because if there was ever a fire they didn't want the little kids to be afraid. We'd go in the kitchen and get some, they'd say bird paper, with the wax and you'd sit down on that...well the older girls had to take a little girl cause it was all dark in there, there were no lights or anything, just at the bottom the door was open when you swept out. Every Saturday we got to play in this thing for about 4 hours. You go to the top and go down and go all the way upstairs again and go again until you got tired, you know, from climbing the steps. The older girls had to take a little girl with them so they wouldn't be afraid and you'd tell them it's dark in there but you'll be alright. Then they got used to it, in case there was ever a fire. But years later, I went to a ...where they read your handwriting? 

Q- A palmist?

A- Not your palm, a hand writing expert and the first one, with just my signature, he told me my whole life and I never saw him before. He told me, you lived in a...looks like an institution. He said, what's that big oil tank doing on the side? This great big black oil tank. And I said, "That's not an oil tank, it looks like and oil tank, but it's not. " You know it reminded you of a silo. I said, "It was
actually used as a fire escape," I said," It had a slide all the way down from the fourth floor to the first and I explained it all to him. And he told me my whole life.

Q- You said you lived on Fogarty, do you remember what the house looked like?

A- It was a row house, a skinny little house. You know, when anybody came to stay at the house, I had to sleep on the couch or the floor, and I thought that was great. I was only little so it was like camping out. I guess Herb told you that after they took my father to Lakeland, well by that time, they took him and he went on the farm, my brothers Bill and John and I were all taken to a detention home. They couldn't take us back to the Camden Home for Children because we were too old. That only went up to maybe 10 Years old. So we had to go to the detention home where they took the bad kids, you know, the kids that got into trouble. That was like you were locked in a room and had to be checked by a doctor to make sure you didn't have any diseases, you know the girls. So I was there for 18 months, never went to school, they had school downstairs and you learned, but you never got promoted. You know you just went to school and the teacher, Mr. Ciroti, he taught you. And when I first went there, I was locked in my room until I could see the doctor. Well it had, not bars, but that uh... 

Q- Mesh like?

A- Yeah on the window and all steel and cement floors. So I was in the room by myself and the room was spotless, and I wasn't allowed to mix with the kids on the floor until after I saw the doctor. So, I was locked in there and they'd bring me books, they had a big playroom, and they'd bring me books from the playroom. I'm locked in there and all the kids were down at school and this woman had charge of the place and when I heard her coming I looked out the door, I was happy to see anybody, you know, I was getting stir crazy. And she said what are you doing in there. And I said they've got me locked in. And she said what for? She said what did you do. And I said I didn't do nothing, I just got here like a week ago. I've been locked in this room for a week and they bring me my meals. I haven't seen the doctor and he comes like once a month. So she told me you go on into the game room, if there was anything wrong with you it would have shown up by now. Find something to do, the kids will be up for lunch. So I'm sitting there and the cook comes in and she says do you know how to butter bread? I said yeah. She said, come with me. So I washed my hands and all and the bread, 'cause she cooked for the girls floor and the boys, so I stood there and I must have buttered I don't know how many pieces of bread. Then she said, do you know how to set
tables and I said yeah. What are you doing in here anyway, she said? Well I don't have no where else to go, we don't have no relatives. And I said, I was too old for the other home so they brought us here. I got 2 brothers on the other floor and my older brother went down on the farm. I wondered why they would bring you here, this is a place for bad kids, she said. You behave yourself here and don't listen to those kids in trouble cause they'll get you into trouble if they can, she's going on. So after that, I was allowed to go to school the next day, and when I'd come up from school, I had to go into the kitchen to help her. You know, with things. And then I got promoted to dining room girl. They put the food out family style and you just helped yourself. And I'd set the tables and serve the food. 

Q- I thought you went to the home after your father died, I didn't know you were at the home after
your mother died.

A- Yeah, I was at the home before my mother died, at the Home for the Friendless Children. But this was the Camden County Detention home that I'm talking about now. 

Q- How long were you there?

A- About 18 months, 'cause I remember when they found a home for Bill and John and the probation officer... they had a little dining room off the big room where we ate and it was just
for the doctor and the judge when they were there. And they'd have dinner there too, and I used to serve them. At the end of the week, every Friday, when they were there, they'd put fifty cents under the plate as a tip. 

Q- Did you know the judge's name?

A- No. 

Q- I know John and Bill went with the Hebles.

A- Yeah, the probation officer told me he had found a home for them but I wouldn't be able to go with them because it was all boys.

Note: My Aunt Carol died before we finished her Oral History

Anne Sampson Harrison
October 2016