Lucy Nace White DeGeorgio – 2

Name of interviewee: Lucy DeGeorgio
Date of birth/age at interview: 1897/86
Interviewer: Lance Metz; Carol Simonson (Lucy’s friend who joined in the questioning)
Interview date: April 18, 1983
Interview location: Lucy’s home, Lambertville, NJ
Interview length: 1 hour 52 minutes
Time span discussed: approximately 1905 to 1930

Summary:  This interview reveals many details of the boating life on the canal and a locktender’s job. The physical set up of the Delaware Canal and coal business from Easton to Bristol to Philadelphia is recounted by Lucy DeGeorgio who spent many years with her father and her husband running a coal boat and a lock. Because the interviewer knew a great deal about the canal, he was able to ask nuanced questions that draw out this long first person account.


Time markers:
00:00:00 – introduction, family life
00:02:05 – Lucy 8 years old when her mother passed away; moved often after; ended in Lumberville; started working on canal; injured fingers
00:05:53 – owned the mules, boat the property of the coal company; ran boat from Mauch Chunk (now known as Jim Thorpe) to Bristol
00:06:16 – tug boat towed the canal boats from Bristol to Philadelphia; three or four boats taken together
00:08:50 – locktending at Pt. Pleasant; married to Jonas White at 21; worked with her husband, owned the mule team; mules hard to control
00:11:12 – met her husband on Tohickon Hill, near the one-room schoolhouse
00:12:15 – boating experiences with 5 children and 2 beds
00:12:40 – Jimmy Brown, boatman
00:13:25 – Joe Reed, Lucy found him a wife
00:16:30 – Casper Dreyer; Frank Swope and sons Frank and Howard
00:16:58 – Whiskey Jack Miller
00:17:22 – Mauch Chunk, picking up coal
00:20:00 – death of her 3-year-old son in the canal
00:22:06 – losing a second child in an accident with a mule; lived at home in winter
00:25:00 – canal characters, the Morrell boys, Billy Leichliter
00:26:00 – meeting Jimmy Brown and his wife Vi in Centre Bridge where Lucy’s brother-in-law, Charlie White, lived
00:27:50 – much alcohol drinking on the canal; no good times, just work
00:28:50 – cooking on the boat; daily routine, only carried coal, took good care of mules
00:30:27 – boat owner Isaac Martin (I. M.) Church, nice man
00:31:40 – starts locktending at Pt. Pleasant, Flora Henry at next lock; John Corcoran, Denny Scott
00:34:07 – canal use stopped, had to move from house
00:35:00 – chores for boaters, cooking, steering; abuse from children along the canal
00:37:05 – guns on the boat, Lucy shot at a boy in the canal
00:39:10 – Jonas shot man in leg, avoided arrest, then paid fine
00:42:26 – enjoyed boating, would like to go again
00:43:19 – stiff boats vs. section boats; 100 ton loads; both Lucy and Jonas cared for mules
00:45:51 – working the locks; stores by the locks
00:48:16 – children’s lives on the boat; getting fresh water
00:49:45 – “grabber” unloaded the coal in Philadelphia; occasional trips on the Delaware and Raritan through Trenton
00:51:06 – a typical day
00:52:40 – Bobby Best
00:53:11 – unusual events when lock tending; the canal museum
00:54:35 – Sunday on the canal; getting paid
00:56:50 – crossing the Delaware River at New Hope using a cable; no fees
00:58:22 – preferred Lehigh Coal boats to Hackey boats (built and owned by Hackey Sampson); Oscar Gaddis never paid
01:00:00 – tough Bristol basin; the bumping bridges, hit to open
01:03:10 – wore regular clothing on the boat
01:04:04 – tending locks hard, opening the gates
01:05:55 – could travel 40 miles per day, 3 days from Easton to Bristol
01:07:28 – sleeping arrangements, bunk beds; story about having money stolen current day
01:11:20 – swimming in the canal; daughter helped with boating chores; husband spliced tow lines
01:12:40 – wintering over, water emptied for repairs; 30 old boats sunk in Southampton quarry
01:16:55 – got tired of boating so tended lock
01:18:14 – blowing the conch shell and the tin (fish) horn
01:19:18 – locktender house furnished; party for canal boat people
01:21:50 – hatches locked; coal for the stove, stealing coal, selling for booze
01:22:43 – Irv Emory, Whiskey Jack Miller, Uncle John Leonard, Silas Keeler, Ray Devereau, Harry Wismer–became bank boss; everyone on the canal friendly
01:26:59 – Lucy’s photo in the newspaper (1980s); never sick, learning to swim at Lumberville
01:30:24 – Cake and Beer House (1.5 miles north of Centre Bridge); boats and scows on Lehigh and Delaware canals, no barges (barges required no effort by workmen)
01:33:30 – unloaded at Lumberville, Pt. Pleasant, and other stops
01:34:44 – stove moved to top deck during summer
01:35:56 – boating through rain and thunder storms; fly nets for mules
01:38:18 – 3 meals a day; saddened when traffic slowed and canal closed; Mr. Church, boss at Mauch Chunk, liked by all
01:40:16 – loading system; dock later moved from Mauch Chunk (now Jim THorpe) to Laury’s Station; no prejudice against boat people; Erwinna and Upper Black Eddy stores
01:47:20 – coal easy to get along canal, always extra in boat, homeowners nearby all had source; coal’s profitability kept canal going to 1930s

Lucy Nace White DeGeorgio interview 1.

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