This is the first interview conducted for Project Philadelphia 19106. It was not recorded; instead, Dorothy Stevens took notes by hand.
Dorothy Troyano was born in 1918 at home, 214 Stamper Street. Her mother, a homemaker, was of German descent; and her father, a policeman, was of English and Italian descent. Her father worked at the police stations at Fourth and Delancey Streets and at Third and Fairmount Station. Dorothy was one of five children, all of whom moved out of the neighborhood as adults.
The house where Dorothy grew up, 214 Stamper Street, had an outhouse, cold running water, and gas. This house was demolished “by Dilworth for a parking garage.” The neighbors complained, but to no avail. Dorothy’s mother, by then a widow, moved in with Dorothy and her husband, who lived at 232 Stamper Street.
Dorothy attended local public schools: Wharton School at Third and Lombard Streets, from first to sixth grade; Horace Binney School on Spruce Street between Fifth and Sixth Streets, in seventh grade; Bartlett Jr. High School at Eleventh and Catherine Streets, for eighth and ninth grades; and Girls High School, at Seventeenth and Spring Garden Street, for tenth through twelfth grades.
Dorothy worked at Whitman’s Chocolate Factory, Fourth and Arch Streets. At the time, Whitman’s sold candy for 50 cents for five pounds.
Dorothy walked to school and to work, although buses and trolleys were available for 15 cents a ride.
Memories of the Neighborhood during her Childhood:
In the 1920s and ‘30s, this was a happy, carefree, ethnically mixed, white, family-oriented neighborhood where everyone knew one another and many were related. Most neighbors worked as policemen, firemen, committeemen, other city jobs, doctors, businessmen, and dentists. Milk and bread were delivered to doorsteps and never stolen. In good weather, everyone was outdoors, with doors and windows open day and night, and no one was afraid. Dorothy has no memory of homeless people, but her mother would feed people on the front steps if they asked for food.
There were plenty of activities for children, including roller skating on skates with wooden wheels on city streets and in the gym at Stanfield playground; and biking on city streets. For swimming, there was a boat at Lombard and Delaware Avenue, affectionately called Johnny and Lizzie. The boat took children for free to Red Bank, NJ, for swimming in the river, with a water slide and a free lunch of chicken soup and crackers. There was indoor swimming for free at Eighth and Lombard and at Stanfield playground at Front and Lombard, where there was a 3 foot-deep wading pool.
Dorothy’s father would open the fire hydrant on Stamper Street when it got too hot. Stanfield playground, at Front and Lombard Streets, also had basketball, baseball, team sports, a maypole, and crafts. Wealthy ladies from the suburbs would bring in flowers for the children to make bouquets for their homes and neighbors. When it snowed, they went sledding from Front and Lombard Streets, down the hill, and over Water Street to Delaware Avenue.
St. Peter’s Church had activities for families such as picnics, parades, team sports, trips, overnight camp, and girls’ clubs. Dorothy’s mother sewed clothing for charities (Episcopal Hospital) and her own family, using discounted fabric provided by wealthy ladies of St. Peter’s Church.
There was a ferry at Chestnut Street and Delaware Avenue that would take passengers to New Jersey for a train to Cape May for the price of $2.25. The Wilson Line boat from Chestnut Street and Delaware Avenue took passengers down the river with moonlight dancing.
there were USO dances at Ninth and Clinton Streets.
Blackwell Court was Fire Station Engine House #22, fronting on Pine Street.
The Kardon Box factory was located next to the fire station on Stamper Street going east. They made hat boxes and other small boxes.
Next going east were four private houses and then a produce store fronting on Second Street, with a family living above the store.
During Dorothy’s mother’s time, Second Street from Pine to South continued stores selling jewelry, shoes, photography, and food.
During Dorothy’s childhood there were food shops that sold meats (including dead rabbits hanging over barrels), vegetables, fruits, dairy, nuts, homemade jams, honey, and flowers. The South Street Ferry brought NJ farmers and goods by horse and wagon. There was a stable on Bainbridge Street.
South Street was a large shopping area with clothes, shoes, bakeries, coats, push carts, hardware, Kresge’s, and Woolworth’s Five and Dime at Sixth Street. In other words, it offered anything you would need.
Pine and Third Streets were home to doctors, dentists and lawyers.
There was a bank at Second and Pine Streets.
The trolley went west on Pine Street to Front, east on Lombard, and west on South Street.
At Third and Pine Streets, the southeast corner was Nicholson’s Drug Store, the northwest corner was a tailor shop (later a rooming house), the northeast corner was an undertaker, and the southwest corner was St. Peter’s Church. As children, they would say, “If you got sick you went to the drug store. If that didn’t work, you would buy a suit from the tailor and go to the undertaker, who would take you to St. Peter’s Church graveyard.”
At Third and Delancey Streets, on the southeast corner was an Acme grocery store with another tailor next door. On the northeast corner was something like a hardware store.
At Third and Spruce, on the southwest corner, was Metropolitan Hospital. On the northeast corner was a cigar factory.
236 Pine Street was a TB hospital.
Fourth and Delancey Streets was a police station.
McCall School on Sixth Street was a trade school.
St. Peter’s Choir School enrolled about 50 boys.
Movies cost ten cents. Movie houses were located at:
The Palace, at Third and South.
The Model, at Fourth and South.
The Victoria, at Sixth and South.
The Roxy, at Eighth and South.
The Three Threes on the north side of Market at Third Street.
During the Second World War, the neighborhood began to change. Before the war, the population was ethnically nixed, but with only one family per house. During the war, cheap labor came from the South, and several families lived in one house; these were called rooming houses. This happened more on the 100 and 200 blocks of Delancey Street than on Stamper and other streets. Dorothy did not think the neighborhood was a slum. “Everybody had a job and were respectable, caring people.”
©2004 Project Philadelphia™. All rights reserved.