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Edna May Wilde

Edna May Wilde was born in 1918 on Howell Street.  Three of her grandparents died young.  She only met her mother's father once, before he died leaving his family with three children.  However, she can remember her father's mother, Grandom Massey very well.  She remembers going fishing with her father, Louis, and his mother, Grandmom Massey at Barnegat Light in Jersey. 

She lived at Howell and Jackson Streets, a very close knit part of Wissinoming.  She loved school, played "school" all the time, and had many neighborhood girl friends.  As a young girl of 13 or 14, one enjoyment with her friends was going to Christian Endeavor at the Presbyterian Church, with biblical intentions, but also to meet boys.  Later, she found it unusual that none of the girls ever married any of the boys they met there.  

Another memory was of learning to darn socks while sitting on the back steps of a neighbor, Mrs. Bavington who told nice stories.  Edna visited her house often to see the growth of the narcissus bulbs that Mrs. Bavington grew on her dining room table.   She remembert visiting many of her other neighbors too:  the Stovers, the Nelsons, the McHerans, the Brattons, the Clausens, the Lindsays, and the Pinnelas.

She went to Bible School at the Methodist Church where the Reverend Leon Moore made learning the Bible easy and fun.  She participated in several Tom Thumb Weddings.   A big  activity for young girls was visiting each other's churches for Young People's Meetings on Sunday evening before church.  In those days every church had a Sunday night service.  On Sunday evening after the sevice, the young people went to someone's house, preferably where there was a piano, for singing and playing Post Office.   Once, when a new girl moved into the neighborhood she was invited to join the group for Sunday night service, but refused because her religion was against it.  Later in her life, Edna played the piano at Sunday School and was always involved in church affairs.

Many of Edna's girl friends ran a block party on Howell Street for a few summers to raise funds for their Sorority.  The "hurdy gurdy" man with his monkey and accordion visited the area occassionally, as did the "horse radish" man with his grinder.  So did a truck with a Merry-Go-Round; another fellow who gave the kids rides on ponies, took pictures and sold them; hucksters who sold produce and fruit; and "Popa" Mitchel who sold small deviled clams made by his wife.  Edna will always remember the taste of those clams.  She remembered Mr. Fardone, the rag man, calling out "any rags and papers today," the "knife and scissors" sharpening truck, and the friendly man who came door to door with his suitcase of household items of needles, thread, pins, pot holders, and other things.

Edna remembered some weird things too.  Like the time a street was just tarred or melting, the girls would roll up a small ball and chew it, the theory being that it make your teeth whiter.  Or passing Al Revel's curb side gas pumps and not smelling the hoses.  The boys smoked "cinnamon" cigarettes.  According to Edna, "that's how we got our kicks in those days." 

She loved her mother's home made ice cream.  She and her sister, Marie, had to crank the handle on the ice cream bucket for quite a while till the ice cream hardened, then took turns licking the paddle while the rock salt and ice finished the job. 

Louis, Edna's father, grew mushrooms in the dark unfinished end of the cellar, and also make home made home brew, wine, and root beer.  He was an ice and coal man, and at times he would take all the kids up to the ice house to cool off.  He also had an ice scraper to make snow balls and treat the kids.   As a young man, Lou played baseball for Disston's team, and later worked there during the Second World War.

Edna's mother was a typical American housewife, being very proud of her "white wash" and windows that were always sparkling.

Edna loved music and liked to go to Sunny Brook Ballroom, The Nixon Grand, Fays, and the Earl Theater on dates.  As a young girl visiting her grandmother in Holmesburg, they visited the Holme Theater to hear the Atwater Kent Radio show of "Amos and Andy" before the movie.  At the candy store there were treats such as the candy drops on a strip of paper, the little tins of a "fudge like" mixture with a tiny tin spoon, little wax bottles with colored juice you drank then chewed up the wax, and the cinnamon balls that might have a penny inside.

As a young girl, her biggest interests were in school, church, and boy friends.   She met her future husband John on a blind date and slyly noted that "the rest is John's version of our married life."

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Seated from left to right, Edna, Adel Stover, and Amelia Lindsey heading for a picnic on Lou Wilde's ice truck.

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Interviewed and submitted by John Altomari