Canal Workers Radio Interview

Name of interviewees:  Howard Swope, Leon Dreyer, Ed Dreyer, Lance Metz
Dates of birth:  unknown
Interviewer:  radio host William Miller
Interview date:  1981
Interview location:  radio studio
Interview length:  40 minutes
Time span discussed:  1913 to 1981

Summary:   A radio show, “Be My Guest,” from the Lehigh Valley features three boatmen and the archivist from the National Canal Museum (NCM), Lance Metz. They publicize the annual festival at the NCM and recount a few details of the Canal boating life. A unique moment includes a canal song sung by Teddy Sherman. Period advertisements are always of interest.


Time markers:
00:00 – introduction to radio show, the Canal Museum festival
03:23 – song about canal
03:36 – advertisement
04:43 – Howard Swope, boating life, 7-day round trip from coal loading station at Laury’s (six miles north of route 22) to Bristol; locks to lift and lower; boat vs. barge
10:17 – 10:35 – static caused by storm
10:45 – Delaware Canal unique in the United States, for only one main industry, coal/iron/steel, driver of industrial revolution
13:00 – song about canal
13:20 – advertisement
14:20 – boat just like home, 9’ X 10’ cabin; Erwinna to Yardley in one day, 4:00 a. m. to 10:00 p. m.; same two mules all summer
18:24 – song about canal
18:36 – advertisement
21:26 – Leon Dreyer joins
22:14 – Delaware Canal men “Dutchmen” and Lehigh Canal men “Swampers”; Leon born on canal 1913, stayed until 1932
24:30 – Teddy Sherman (former boatman) singing “The Boatman Song” (a real folk song delivered by a real folk!)
26:34 – Edward Dreyer (brother of Leon) joins, loved canal
27:35 – caller told (apocryphal) story about Ivory soap, white and float so Delaware Canal men would not lose it
28:40 – Edward probably ran the last mule-drawn canal boat in 1941
29:43 – song about canal
30:02 – advertisement
32:30 – message to callers
32:56 – canal boat system no longer viable, too slow; boated to Bristol, back up canal empty; locks in Allentown
35:30 – Lehigh Canal boats manned by families, Delaware Canal not families; Lance describes how canal system originated and worked
36:50 – song about canal
37:06 – advertisement
39:05 – Lance on the Canal Festival

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