Rita Ann Vorhees Abbott

Interviewee:  Rita Ann Vorhees Abbott
Date of birth/age at interview:  1920/ 64
Interviewer:  Rita Durrant
Interview date:  August 1, 1984
Interview location:  Durrant home
Interview length:  1 hour, 16 minutes
Time span discussed:  1920 to 1940

Summary:  Rita, one of 8 surviving children, recounts many stories and details the physical look and life of New Hope. This interview answers many questions about holiday customs, and student, teen and early adult pastimes up to World War II. The 100th anniversary of St. Martin’s Catholic parish and church (currently the town hall above Mechanics Street) grounds the review in Rita’s work of 1984,  just one job in her many full years and activities.

Time markers:
00:00:00 – introduction
00:01:01 – born in New Hope, father a contractor and mason for canal
00:01:41 – learning to swim in the canal
00:02:27 – St. Martin’s history; flood of 1903 destroyed bridge to Lambertville
00:03:50 – parish started with 25 families, reflections on the town’s growth; arrival of artists, writers, and theatrical people
00:05:10 – Buck County Playhouse role in the community; Don Walker; story of opening night and Barbara Evans, Charles Evans,  John Francis Meyers; actors at the Playhouse
00:12:01 – town in the 1930s: stores by name and location, South Main Street and Mechanic Street residential
00:16:45 – hospitals; Drs. Leiby and Wallace; quarantine practices; diseases
00:19:27 – one of eight surviving children
00:20:29 – education at school above Mechanic Street (now Kehilat HaNahar); sledding on big geography books; school details
00:23:23 – Gypsies camping in town at New Street and the canal
00:23:39 – Black residents in area
00:26:38 – fishery for shad
00:27:42 – St. Martin’s Church; games in the church yard, sledding from the church to river, skating on the canal
00:30:26 – St. Martin’s Church history
00:33:22 – church building before George Nakashima’s designs in 1960, changes; flowers from the priest’s 144 peony bushes; Charlie Shea sextant
00:37:13 – corner stone to be opened on anniversary, contents updated; parishioners helping with centennial; centennial booklet
00:41:44 – characters of the town; town drunk, blacksmith for canal tender, lock men, mud digger for canal (water very clean), barge people
00:45:36 – entertainment for young people, never bored; dating
00:48:43 – staples from stores in bulk, weighed there; hunting and trapping
00:51:24 – Bridge Street stores; postal service; Ferry Street store; library in bank building (corner Bridge and Main streets)
00:54:58 – Stoney Hill Road:  silk mill, brick yard
00:57:02 – paper mill and bag mill, employed locals; Lambertville rubber mill
00:58:20 – trolley; train service to Philadelphia, Trenton, Willow Grove amusement park
00:59:30 – picnics at Deer Park
01:00:27 – Chautauqua (traveling tent show) every year; theatrical productions; dance floor, auditorium, and plays at Worthington Hall (Bridge Street and Stockton Avenue); minstrel shows
01:02:19 – ghost at Windy Bush cemetery; ghost tour of New Hope
01:03:50 – working at General Motors factory in Trenton during World War II; safety of town
01:05:13 – Halloween costumes; not important to get loot
01:06:40 – celebrating Christmas in New Hope
01:10:31 – July 4th celebration, personal fireworks, flags flying, lots of noise
01:13:26 – Community Association street fair every summer, detail of games, community working together; St. John Terrell hair burned off

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