Interview with Jenny Tokos Gaidorus
Is Part Of
Broome County Oral History Project
Interview with: Jenny Tokos Gaidorus
Interviewed by: Anna Caganek
Date of interview: 3 March 1978
Jenny: I came here in 1914, I was about 12 years old and I came to Ellis Island. They kept me there for three days until my aunt put up a $500 bond for me—
Anna: Go on.
Jenny: —Then I came here, then I went to school for a while and I liked it, and I said, “I'm going to work for Endicott Johnson,” and I started working. I was 14 years old in E.J., then I went to the cigar factory for $2.00 a week, and I was doing a little housework for 50 cents a week and it was, kind of hard, so then—what do you want me to say?
Jenny: I worked in the shoe factory, then when the work was slow I went to the cigar factory. It wasn’t hard to get a job. When it was bad in the cigar factory we went back to the shoe factory and work like that, and I was young, I got married and then I had the children one after the other, but I was working in E.J.
Anna: How many children did you have?
Jenny: Four children, and well, we had to go to work for 8 and 9 dollars a week. That, and then my husband died, I was 28 years old and I had 4 small children, then I was working, and then I got so sick that the doctor put me out from the factory, and so I make a living home. I had baseball players, roomers, and took care of the kids on the street, and made a living like that, and everything.
I was a widow for 14 years, and I got married again, and then I had operations, one after the other, and have half of my stomach out and all those things, and a Pacemaker, and now they took my both feet off, amputated, and I—one was maybe below the knee at two year ago. And a year ago they had to take the other one off, so I am in a nursing home paying $2500 a month. Is it going?
Anna: Yes, go on.
Jenny: It was kinda hard and it is hard now, I had one boy that was killed in 1942, in a car accident with another boy, and then my other son died, was 49 years old. I have one son in Arizona. A daughter is here living on Front Street, and she's not well either, she don’t come up to see me much, she can’t. And well, I'm in a bed most of the time, and in a wheelchair. They put me on about 1:30 and then I stay in the wheelchair about 2 hours or so, and then they put me back in bed, and so I'm in bed most of the time.
Anna: You were saying that you liked sports.
Jenny: Baseball. I used to have the baseball players living up to my house, and I used to cook for them and do their washing, and then they had a write-up about the baseball park, how they—once in a while I went to the ballgames, and they had fights there. And wrestling, I used to like to go and see that, and I play Bingo a lot. Even we play Bingo every Monday here. (Cough).
Anna: And when you were young, what did you do for amusement?
Jenny: I didn't have time, I had washing and then ironing to do all the time.
Anna: Did you ever go dancing?
Jenny: No, I didn’t. I would sneak out and I went to Bingo.
Anna: Did you ever go to Ross Park, or to the band concert?
Jenny: No, I didn't have time for that. I used to play Bingo. I used to take care of the children and the chickens, and garden and canning, all day.
Anna: How much did you can every year?
Jenny: About one thousand quarts, everything from the garden—pear trees, cherry trees.
Anna: That’s the way people lived those days.
Jenny: Yes, those days that’s the way you did. We didn't make much money. It was better for me to stay home than have somebody to take care of the children and I every way, different ways.
Anna: Your children are all grown up, anyway.
Jenny: Now, yes, one son is in Arizona, going to have open heart surgery, yes, and I don’t know when, maybe next week, someday.
Anna: Could you remember, think of anything else?
Jenny: No, was busy all the time with cooking and baking, and I worked in the Johnson City Legion for about seven years, had had charge of the kitchen there and I worked there for fifty cents an hour.
Anna: Can you think of anything else?
Jenny: No, that’s it.
Anna: Thank you.