Interview with Tillie Sherman, November 9, 2010

Tillie Sherman.jpg


Interview with Tillie Sherman, November 9, 2010


Oral history interview with Tillie (Matilda) Sherman, born 1916, who lived in Deseronto for much of her life. Her father, Joseph Laverture, was the projectionist in Naylor's theatre and her brother, Alec, worked at Clapperton's glass factory.


November 9, 2010




Edgar Tumak
Amanda Hill


Tillie (Matilda) Sherman, née Laverture


John M. Parrott Centre, Napanee


51 minutes, 25 seconds

Bit Rate/Frequency

128 kbits/s

Time Summary

0.0 Doesn't know when her family came to Deseronto, but they came from Quebec at the end of the nineteenth century: her eldest brother was born in Deseronto in 1899. The family (the Lavertures) lived on Main Street at first, near the station, across from the Arlington Hotel. Then they moved to 66 Green Street when Tillie was five years old. It had no electricity and an outside tap. Her father, an electrician, wired the house and had water put in. Opposite the house was a big woodyard, something to do with the Rathbun Company (where the family housing complex is now). The children would play in the woodyard.
3.40 Tillie's oldest brother worked in the Clapperton glass factory – he was a glass cutter. Tillie's brothers swapped pieces of the glass for a television from Shaw's in Napanee. Tillie's father was the projectionist at the theatre in Deseronto. Professor Epps played the piano.
5.20 Tillie identified Alec in the photograph of the Clapperton glass factory and her cousin, Lena Edwards. The glass factory was behind the bowling alley (now the Deseronto Public Library). Beatrice Palmer worked at the factory, too. Her brother was out of work when the factory burnt down. He sometimes worked at the theatre, relieving his father.
8.20 Tillie had two brothers, Alec and Bill, and one sister, Mary Louise, born 1908. Tillie was born in 1916 and Bill (William) in 1913.
9.08 Tillie went to the Public School in Deseronto, and then through to Grade 12 in the High School. Then she went to Napanee and took Special Commercial. The family spoke French at home, as her mother couldn't speak English, although she could sing the song 'It's a long way to Tipperary' in English, because of the war. Her father could speak both, but the three of them spoke French at home. Tillie knew more French than English when she first started school. When her mother died in 1938, Tillie only used English and forgot a lot of her French. There were other French-speaking people in Deseronto – her Dad's mother and his sisters were all there, so it was possible for her to manage
12.50 Teachers at school: Miss Smith, Miss Warren, Mr Ostrander, Miss Long, Mr Hough, A. D. Campbell, Miss Baird and Miss Balance. In Napanee she had a teacher called Miss Daly and Mr Egan.
14.16 Tillie nearly got a job with Sears as a translator, but she stayed home, not wanting to leave Deseronto.
15.06 Tillie's father used to repair clocks and watches, as well as working in the theatre. Tillie would help him. He was a good electrician – did a lot of wiring of homes in Deseronto. Once the inspector got to know him, the inspector didn't bother checking the work, if he knew Joe Laverture had done it. He also made radios. Her cousins would come to hear the hockey on the radio. Tillie would go with him and help with the wiring when she was small.
17.43 Memories of stores on St. George Street: Ed Roach's butcher's shop, Mason's store, Froste's store, which sold scribblers for school, a hat shop (McClaughlin) – every Easter Tillie's mother would buy her a straw Easter hat with ribbons. Across the street was the undertaker, Dalton. There was a bake shop along there, too, run by the Detlors, relatives of Blanche Detlor.
20.26 Tillie worked at the Town Hall sometimes, when they were busy. Tillie lived on Mill Street when she was married, next to Blanche Detlor, whose father, Mr Ostrander, was the principal of the Public School.
22.48 Tillie lived in Napanee after she married her husband. He was from Hay Bay (died November 9, 2008). Tillie worked for Archie Burley, in the office, doing his books. He'd taken over a fuel business from Hunt's and sold cars. Tillie first worked in the office of the garage business on the Highway, then when he took over Hunt's she was transferred to the other office on the waterfront. After her marriage she stopped working and went to Hay Bay for a while. Then her sister got ill – she had polio and was going to have an operation on her foot to take the brace off. Then they bought a house at 81 Mill Street, where they stayed for 42 years. Then her husband bought a fuel and garage business in Napanee [Mill Street Gas and Oil].
25.45 The Shermans bought their Mill Street house from an auction. Only Mr Sherman turned up and the Town said that he could have the house for the amount of taxes that were owed on it ($400-500). The house had been owned by a German teacher, who had gone mad and the Shermans were allowed to keep or sell the furniture that was left by her in the house. They kept some of the books.
31.00 Tillie could remember going to Vaudeville shows at the theatre. She got in free, as her father worked there.
31.55 Her father had two cannons, one of which he would fire every New Year. The other was sold to Harry Hatch for his yacht. Tillie doesn't know what happened to the cannon. Joe Laverture made the cannons himself. One was brass and the other nickel.
34.40 Memories of other children on Green Street – McCabe family, playing hide-and-go-seek, jacks. Tillie didn't skate, but they would go down to the mill pond and played on the ice. She didn't swim. Her mother didn't work. Her sister Mary made elements for toasters for the Redi-heat company. Joe and Alec both worked at the Redi-heat company, down by the waterfront, in the big red brick building.
38.13 The Burley family had twin girls, whom Tillie babysat for, as her first job, before she went to work in the office for Archie Burley.
39.09 Always went to St. Vincent de Paul church in Deseronto – christened and married there. Her husband didn't go to church with her. Priests she remembers: Father Martin, Father Farrell, Monsignor Lacey (the last mass he said in Deseronto was Tillie's mother's funeral mass), Father O'Reilly. The church was fairly full on Sundays, but there wasn't much money in the collections, as times were hard.
41.20 Depression memories – her brother bought her clothes when he worked at the glass factory. When he wasn’t working, he would go and cut wood, because the family were on relief. At Christmas, gifts and a chicken were given to the family, but her mother didn't have enough fuel to cook the chicken, but the Houles next door brought over a bag of coal so that they cook the chicken. Her mother always said that it was important not to go to bed hungry, so they would eat a piece of toast or something. Her father wasn't working at Naylor's during the Depression.
43.46 Tillie went to Sunday School until she was 13. Tillie and her mother went to mass in the morning every day. Sunday School was in the afternoon, taught by the priest or a woman – Mrs Hunt and Nora Fox.
45.00 Mr Sherman worked on his parents' farm, brought tomatoes to the canning factory and took milk to the Hay Bay cheese factory every morning. He didn't like farming, so he didn't take over the farm from his parents, though he could have done.
47.50 Tillie's parents didn't have a car or a telephone. Mr Sherman used his parents' car and then bought new cars once he ran the garage.
49.55 Lots of snow in the winter – remembers her brother shovelling snow.