Interview with Stephen Maxian
Is Part Of
Broome County Oral History Project
Interview with: Mr. Stephen Maxian
Interviewed by: Anna Caganek
Date of interview: 28 March 1978
Stephen: I am Stephen Maxian born in Forest City 1888 November 17, I am 89 years old, I went to school in Forest City a year or so and when I came back, my folks moved here to Binghamton, that’s quite a few years back I was nine—years old I went to school, Clinton Street school a year or so, Jarvis Street school then I went to the St. Pat’s Parochial School, there my father took me out when I was 13 years old, went on the farm, I was growed up on the farm ’til I was 21 years, after I left the farm, I got a job at that time you get a job anyplace.
Worked in Kroehlers, finally got married, had 2 children there on, we moved on to a farm, we had a farm in Silver Lake Township, 250 acres. Had a few head of cattle, we worked there for 30 years. The best we could do, the best we could do was to pay for the farm. When we had the farm paid for, we had nothing else—only just the farm and a few tools. I decided we would give up the farn, and get a job in the factory, I finally located a job, in Fairbanks Valve Co. I worked there 13 years, and we run the, farm all together 35 years, so when I got this job in the factory, we decided, we would move into the City. Then when we went looking, for a house, they were asking more for a shabby house in the city, compared to he one we had in the country and all the land, they wanted 6 thousand or 7 thousand, and 8 thousand for a house with water in the cellar, not very nice, so I built me a house home on, Ackley Ave.
I decided that would be the best place, I went into my timber lot, I cut the timber, to specification to what we want it for, built the house on Ackley Ave. I was my own contractor, I hired my help, to do the electrical work, to hook up the gas, and put the walls, and I had my friends. Some from the factory, and some from the, sawmill, who sawed the lumber for me, and they helped me build the house.
Of course now I lost my wife 5 years ago. And I do music work, I play an accordion, I play this, I play this accordion quite a few times, as a volunteer, for the Senior Citizens, of the Triple Cities. We go as far as Deposit, we play for the Senior Citizens, in Windsor, Whitney Point, and all the others close by. It keeps us, pretty busy, and I'm not alone in this there's three of us in this. We always play together. Sometimes we get, now and then, a pay job, but not very often.
As for my family, I have a daughter one in California, then I got one, in Lewiston, Maine, and I have a son, Stephen, lives on Conklin Rd., and I spent this Easter at his house, had dinner there and today, we played for Senior Citizens, Johnson City Nutrition Center.
I got to go everyplace. They never say, “Don’t come back.” They also say, “Come again, we love your music,” of course.
This lumber that this house was built, I cut the logs and the boards, and also I drawed the plans for the home on Ackley Ave. And the lumber sawmill that cut the logs, they knew just how to make it, and I had to buy very little lumber to finish the house, I had my own window trim, door casings made of Ash Lumber, which is a very good hard lumber, and the floors made also out of hard maple which is a very good floor and I lacked, a little bit of that, so I had to buy a few feet of lumber for part of my bedroom, which was a little different from my own lumber, it was more seasoned, mine wasn't, quite seasoned, then, my own lumber.
Everything seemed to be all right as far as that goes. I'm living on Social Security in Johnson City for 30 years and I have no worries. I've been traveling quite a good deal, after my wife passed away. I’ve been down in Venezuela. Caracas, Venezuela, then in Hawaii, couple times and also down in Bermuda, Nassau, and in Virginia, Florida, different, a lot different places on Senior Citizens. Now I didn't think I would ever see in my younger days. My younger days, most of the time I seen lot of poverty. (Laugh).
Now I'm making plans to visit my sister in Michigan, my daughter that lives up in Maine, State of Maine is coming down here in June, early in June and pick me up and maybe my son, and his wife and take us up to my sister in Michigan, Arlington, Michigan, the outskirts of Detroit and l'm looking forward to that, and I guess within a month or so I probably, will be, going to Maryland, visit my grandson and my grandchildren, some that I have never seen, and I'm looking forward to that. Also if I can get up, gumption enough to go I usually, when l travel, I travel with a group, and when you get to be 89 years old, it ain't easy to start out alone, you don’t know what might happen, and I'm supposed to bring my accordion, that I play, and my harmonicas down to my grandson’s because he writes, country music, and I play country music and other kind of music. This harmonica I'm going to play now it’s a key of C. I will play an Irish jig.
[Mr. Maxian plays it].
Now I will play a beautiful Slovak waltz. That was on my accordion. The name of this is “Orphan Child.”
[Mr. Maxian plays].
Now, I will play you on my harmonica, “Swanee River.”
[Mr. Maxian plays. Anna claps.]
There's one thing I forgot to mention, I have 10 grandchildren, great-grandchildren and I had to wait until a year ago, one whose name is Maxion. The rest is all on my daughter's side. (Laugh). Different names. Oh I'm glad I got one that’s a Maxian. My own family, my father’s family. I had one brother that was born in Slovakia, the rest of the family was all born in this country and when you count ‘em up there was 14 of us. There was 9 brothers and 5 sisters, up to now there's just 2 of us brothers left and 3 sisters, still hanging on. My father and mother they came from Slovakia, as my, wife did, and I can’t say just what year they, immigrated to this country around, about 1880, I guess something like that and when they came to this, country, they came from at that time it was Austria-Hungary, was Franz Joseph, was Monarchy of these two countries, two nations, nationality of these people, the Hungarians, Polish, Czechs, and the Slovaks and some people, who called themselves Russians, also there and there was some Germans, all in this one group in the Two Nations, Austria-Hungary. Today they all have their own nations, that’s about the best I can do.
Anna: Thank you Mr. Maxian, thank you.