Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Home Reflections From Andy Warholic

Dad and Mother rented in several places before buying a home already built, located at 309 Waddell Avenue, Donora, PA, on April 17, 1916. Dad often told us that the home that he bought was one of the first homes built on Waddell Avenue, which we believe was shortly after the year 1900.

Donora, PA HomeI was the first of the last five children to be born in this home, while the first three children were born elsewhere, in rented homes in Donora, PA.

I was born on December 6, 1916, in the upstairs bedroom, with a midwife assisting my mother. — The doctor came around later on in the day, in his horse pulled buggy. — I'm sure he didn't do too much for my dear mother. Mother was probably up the next day, taking care of the three older children; ages two, four, and six, and of course me. Dad was working 12 hours in the U.S. Steel Plant in Donora, PA; about a 15 minute walk from our home.

I can remember our home from about the age of six, and I do have pleasant memories.

Although we were very poor, my parents were very religious and good people. They couldn't speak English, and Ukrainian was the language spoken in our home. This made it very difficult for Ann, John, and Nick as they approached school age, because our parents couldn't help them.

Our home was a five room home; three rooms downstairs, and two rooms upstairs. It still stands today, April 25, 1984, and Aunt Nell, who is not married, lives in it.

We had no bathroom. — We had an outhouse in the backyard, next to the chicken coop. — Everyone had an outhouse. — In the winter it was bitter cold to go to the outhouse when nature called, and in the summer, the odor was almost unbearable, with flies, wasps, and hornets buzzing around. In those days we had no toilet tissues, but used any kind of paper available. — Sears catalogs were much in demand for that use, because the pages were made of thin paper, but of course any paper was used if one didn't have a Sears Catalog.

The outhouses were made of wood, placed over a hole lined with block, and the hole was about 4' X 4' square, and 6 to 8 feet deep. Inside the outhouse was a wooden seat about 30 inches high, and it had two holes cut out to sit on. — That's it. The seat and floor were scrubbed weekly with a very strong soapy solution.

Every so often, the hole had to be cleaned out, and dad would hire a black man, who was in that business, to dip out the hole. They would come at night. Four men would lift the outhouse off the hole, and with long handle dippers, they would dip out the hole, and put it in a wooden tank, which was on a wagon pulled by horses. After the hole was emptied, the men would sprinkle lime all around to cut down on the terrible odor, then place the outhouse back on the hole, and it was ready for business once again.

We never knew where the black man really emptied his tank, and we really didn't care. I can't remember how much dad paid the black man for his services, but I know that there were some cruel jokes made about "Old man Moses and his Honey Dipper." When you think of it now, this was a very important service, which very few people were willing to do.

At night, when nature called, the small children had potties by their beds, which were emptied the next morning in the outhouse. As one grew older, mother or dad would walk with us to the outhouse. — I can still remember, many times I would force myself to hold it until morning, so as not to bother by dead dad or mother, who needed their sleep so much.

Being that we had no bath rooms, our baths were taken in metal tubs, in the kitchen, near the big coal stove. Water was carried from the well, which was outside near the kitchen porch. We pumped the water into buckets, and heated it on the big coal stove in the kitchen. As the children grew older, baths were taken in the basement (cellar) for privacy. We also carried water Sunday nights, to wash clothes by hand on Monday mornings.

Every room in the house had either a pot bellied coal stove, or a small gas stove. — God was with us, for it was a blessing that none of us were burned or overcome by fumes.

We had gas lights, which were lit by mother or dad. Each light had a mantle, and they were very fragile and broke very easily. I can remember going to Macik's Store on Castner Ave., between third and second street, about three blocks away from our home, and buying mantles for mother; which cost about ten to fifteen cents. The lights weren't too bright, but it was better than kerosene lanterns.

In the winter, we spent most of our time in the kitchen, simply because our kitchen had a huge iron coal stove, and we kept as close to it as safety would permit. My, some days were sure cold! The kitchen was also a place where dad would mend our shoes in the winter time. He would bring in this shoe last and tools, and he would work very hard to repair our shoes. The kitchen floor wasn't too solid, and dad's shoe last would bounce around. Dad would bring discarded wide leather belts from the mill, and this is what he would use for the soles of our shoes. — Later on, when auto tires were available, dad would use tires for the soles of our shoes. This was hard to work with. He had no power tools to sand the edges smooth. So, we had a rough job done on our shoes, and of course we were laughed at by kids that were better off than we were.

In the winter, and in her spare time, mother would sit on a small bench and cut rags into narrow strips, sew them together, and roll them into tight balls about three inches in diameter. These were used for rug making in the summer, in our backyard.

Our winters were very long, very cold, and lots of snow (at least that's what they seemed to me, as I think back). You must understand, we didn't have a radio, nor a Victrola (a record playing machine). Dad was able to purchase those many years later. So, the boys made their own bobsleds, or yankees (a sled with a single seat above a single runner). The runners of the sleds were made out of barrel staves, or if you were lucky and found a junked car (which were few in those days) and they had the turned up end that we needed for a runner, and to make it glide faster on the snow, we put a flat narrow piece of steel on the bottom of the runner. We also stood on strips of bamboo wood and slid down the icy walks, — truly a miracle that more of us weren't hurt. In those days, girls didn't do the things that boys did. — Their place was in the home, helping mother. — So, I can't ever remember my sister Ann ever having any fun.

Written by Andy Warholic on April 25, 1984

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Our Home In Donora Pennsylvania

Donora, PA HomeDonora, PA Home built about the year 1900 with composition brick siding added in 1942; installed by Andy Warholic with help from brother John Warholic.

Dad and Mother rented in several places before buying a home, already built, at 309 Waddell Avenue, Donora, PA on April 17, 1916. Dad often told us that the home that he bought was one of the first homes built on Waddell Avenue, which we believe was shortly after the year 1900.

I was the first of the last five children to be born in this home, while the first three children were born elsewhere in rented homes in Donora, PA.

I was born on December 6, 1916, in the upstairs bedroom, with a midwife assisting my Mother. — The doctor came around later on in the day in his horse pulled buggy. — I'm sure he didn't do too much for my dear Mother. Mother was probably up the next day, taking care of the three older children ages two, four, and six, and of course me. Dad was working twelve hours a day in the U.S. Steel Plant in Donora, PA. The steel mill was about a fifteen minute walk from our home.

Donora PA HomeDonora Home in 2007

History of My Dad's Home
1900 - Union Improvement Company sold the home to Michael Petyak for $375.00

1905 - Michael Petyak sold the home to George Elco for $1,000.00.

1905 - George Elco sold the home to Anna Petyak for $1,000.00.

1909 - Anna Petyak sold the home to George Shrader for $3,000.00.

1909 - George Shrader sold the home to Frank Bill for $1,800.00.

April 17, 1916 - Frank and Katharzyna Bill sold the home to Michael and Katharzyna (Catherine) Warholic for $1,775.00.

I can remember our home from about the age of six, and I do have pleasant memories.

Signed Andy Warholic

Excerpt from Andy Warholic's memoirs. Handed down to Jim and family.

Friday, April 25, 2008

1984 The Steel Mills Reflection Year

I can go back in time to about age six, and to me these are precious memories; this would be about 1922.

WarholikMy Dad and Mother were married in Passaic, New Jersey on May 21, 1909, and returned to Donora, PA as bride and groom.

Neither could speak any English, and when I hear about blacks claiming that they were treated very badly as slaves, I think back at the sufferings that my Mother and Dad endured. I don't think they were much better off than the blacks — They were exploited and worked under inhuman conditions, and for pennies a day.

It was because of immigrants such as Dad and Mother that U.S. Steel became so wealthy. The men were forced to work 10 and 12 hours a day at the steel mills for very, very low wages and under inhuman working conditions. Because of people such as my Dad and Mother (Mother had to be a good companion for my Dad in order for him to carry on), the steel mills prospered. —

Steel Mill

Today, 1984, most of the steel mills in the United States have either phased out or merged with foreign steel mills. — A very sad state of affairs, and leaving millions of steel workers unemployed. — The steel mills exploited the immigrants when they came to this country. — The steel mills made their fortunes and failed to modernize their plants. — They phased them out and invested in foreign plants — exploited those workers and then dumped their steel into this country, and making another fortune. — Yes, I know that this is a free country, and corporations can do what they want with their money, but I always felt that there was a moral obligation on the part of the steel mills, (and other corporations) to re-invest in America.

My dear deceased Dad must be turning over in his grave at this time.

Signed Andy Warholic

Excerpt from Andy Warholic's memoirs. Handed down to Jim Warholic and family.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

It Can Be Done! How to Build a House for 7,000 Dollars

By: Andrew Warholic

I never built anything larger than a shoeshine box in my whole life, so with a prayer to God to give me strength, courage, and the needed knowledge, I started on my own home.

Here is my story.

Hand Built Home

During World War Two, like thousands of other families, we were in desperate need of living quarters. True, we were renting, but for my wife, three month old son, and myself it was too small.

We decided that we didn't want to rent much longer. So, in our spare time we would go out shopping for lots. We finally bought three lots (40 ft. x 130 ft.) and started right away looking at house plans.

Then we had our first damper put on our plans — I was being drafted into the U.S. Navy.

I wanted to go into the Navy as a carpenter, thinking that the experience would help me build my home in the future, but it seems that they needed electricians at the time. So, it was electrical school for me. I was discouraged at first, but after thinking it over, I remembered that a home needed wiring too. So I proceeded to learn as much as I could about wiring.

Once I got aboard ship, I started to plan our home. I would draw rough sketches and then send them home to my wife, Rose for approval. If there were any changes to be made, and I can assure you that there were many, I would re-draw the plans and then send them back home again for approval till we finally go on paper what we wanted on our lots.

While aboard ship, I sent away to a correspondence school for a set of construction books. I read them several times, but what I needed was the practical experience.

I would lay out a rafter in chalk on the ship's deck, and then I would have to swab the deck to get the chalk off. Shipmates would join, and several more got the building bug.

After spending two and a half years in the Pacific, I was Honorably Discharged as a second class electrician.

Within the first year at home we had an increase in our family, a sweet girl. Now we were really crowded into the three small rooms that my wife kept up while I was in the Navy.

We were more than ever determined to build our home. I took the rough sketch to a local architect, he looked it over, then put his hand on my shoulder and said, "Son where are your going to get between $18,000.00 and $20,000.00 to build this home, plus the fee for drawing up this plan?"

I was pretty discouraged. Did we bite off more than we could chew? Was this home too much for us? After talking things over with Rose, I decided to give it a try myself. I never built a home before, but I was willing to give it a try.

I bought myself a "T" square, 90 degree and 60 degree angles, and used my wife's dough board and drew the plans to scale.

We were fortunate to run across an old eight room house which was for sale. With the help of my Dad, brother, and brother-in-laws we tore the old eight room house down, and hauled it away to our building site.

To speed up production, I knew I would have to have a power saw. But the question was what kind to buy? This saw would have to be able to do my finished work inside. This and the safety angle were the most important considerations. After looking over all the popular makes of saws, I finally came to the De Walt. Just as soon as I saw the De Walt Saw demonstrated, I knew this was the saw that I was looking for. It could do everything. In fact, the way my brother described it was, "There's one thing wrong with the De Walt Saw, it doesn't pound nails, and that's just about it, for it does everything else."

So, with great morale support from my wife, and my De Walt Saw in my possession, I decided to start.

It was a great day when I got started! I never built a home before, and here I was starting one!

I never asked for any help from anyone, I was going to try it myself. After working about a month by myself, my brother and brother-in-laws started coming around and to them I give a lot of credit for a lot of hard work that was done on my home.

We wired the home and it passed the state inspection the first time.

With my helpers and of course my silent partner, the De Walt Saw, we got the house up and moved in.

Now, how to finish the outside? Our plans were to brick veneer it, but that would take lots of money, about $1,500.00, so that option was out.

The next choice was stone. Could I do it? Remember, I never built a home, let alone cut or laid stone. The De Walt Saw kept coming to my mind.

One day I took a ride out to the stone quarry, and brought home a few large pieces of stone. I bought a silica-carbide blade and put it on my De Walt Saw. I laid the stone under the blade and very cautiously I scored my first stone about an eighth of an inch deep — turned it over and did the same on the other side. I then took my hammer and chisel and hammered away on the scored line. Much to my amazement, the stone broke beautifully and was faced perfect, ready to lay. Remember once again, I never did this type of work before. You needn't spend a whole life time being a stone mason; just buy a De Walt Saw and go right ahead.

We were paying $6.00 a ton for uncut stone. Cut stone at the quarry was $25.00 per ton, but it wasn't cut as good as on my De Walt, for the simple reason that the straight scored lines were not on the cut quarry stone.

Our home took about 40 tons of stone. At $6.00 per ton, that's $240.00. Imagine $240.00 for a stone house! Can you beat that? Take a look at the pictures of our home, that's real stone cut on my De Walt Saw.

Now, it was a short time after I started laying stone for our house, that I also taught my brother John how to do it.

As the pictures show, Rose was a big help in striking the mortar joints. She did all of the striking of the joints in addition to taking care of three small children and taking care of the house work.

I found other ways to put that De Walt Saw to use. With the De Walt, I cut my hardwood flooring, made all of my doors and many other things, plus the cutting of 40 tons of stone. Has that saw paid for it self? Many times over I can assure you, and I still had a wonderful saw to put in my cellar work shop. The De Walt was so good and did so many things that it's impossible for me to write all of them down at this time.

Owning a De Walt Saw was just like having two men working for you, and best of all, the De Walt didn't talk back to you. Most important of all the features is that it was safe.

Yes folks it can be done. Here is a $18,000.00 home built for around $7,000.00. It took a lot of hard work, courage, and sore muscles.

The only hired help we had was the plasterer, and I even helped him so I could learn a little about plastering.

We have all the expenses marked down, and know exactly what we have in our home.

Today we have a home that we are proud of, and large enough for our family. We have five rooms and a bath on the first floor, and three unfinished rooms upstairs, which will be finished in knotty pine at some future date. Our large living room almost has more area than the three rooms that we were renting.

I made all our flush doors plus a roll-away bathroom closet door.

The home still isn't finished but with God's help we'll get it done someday.

Signed Andy


This article was written by Andy Warholic somewhere around 1951 - 1952. Andy was Honorably Discharged from the U.S. Navy as an Electrician's Mate Second Class on December 9, 1944. He and his wife Rose started building their home in 1945 - 1946 and moved in to their brand new home in 1948. Andy always had a "can do attitude" which, to this day is one of the things that left an imprint upon me. As far as the house project is concerned, it went on for another 20, 30, 40+ years. The five children (three boys and two girls) throughout their lives put some work into various parts of the home as they were growing up and were witnesses to lots of improvements and expansions over the years. Andrew Warholic 12/6/1916 - 9/7/1995

Forever the son of a carpenter.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Happy Birthday Dad

The Son Of Andy Warholic

Signed Jim

The Son Of Andy Warholic

Announcement To The World

I am the son of Andy Warholic from Donora, PA.

He would have been 90 years of age today.

Signed Jim