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Interview with Mary Sovik

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Mary Sovik was born in Jamaica, Queens Long Island, NY. She discusses working in a glove factory, the many places she travelled to, and her work in Endicott Johnson up until her retirement. After retirement she states she became a babysitter for doctors, lawyers, and businessmen in Binghamton, NY.


This audio file and digital image may only be used for educational purposes. Please cite as: Broome County Oral History Project, Special Collections, Binghamton University Libraries, Binghamton University, State University of New York. For usage beyond fair use please contact the Binghamton University Libraries Special Collections for more information.


Broome County Oral History Project

Interview with: Mary Sovik

Interviewed by: Anna Caganek

Date of interview: 10 April 1978

Mary: My father was born in Austria-Hungary and he came to America in 1891, and my mother didn’t hear from him for quite a while, so she packed up, just with the clothes she had on left my two brothers over there, came to Jamaica, Long Island in 1894, because he wasn’t sending her, any money, and she wondered, if he was dead or alive. So then she said, “I’m not going back no more.” It took her too long to come here, thirteen days on the boat, no clothes only just, what, she had on so in 1895, I was born. My father had been in the bread line that’s why he didn’t hear, that’s why she didn’t hear from, him. Cleveland was president at that time and there was a depression, and my father worked in Jamaica, Queens, Long Island, on a farm, where they were raising vegetables, to take to New York. They called it a Truck Farm. So then a year later, so then my brothers came from Austria-Hungary, one was 20 years older than me, and the other was 19 years old. The reason they were so much older than I because two children died, in Europe, while my father was in America, they had the cholera. That’s what they died from and then my brothers came and they heard someone crying, my mother was giving me something to eat, they heard a baby crying. They said, “Who is that?” My mother said, “You got a little sister, we forget to tell you.” So that was me.

Well then we lived in Queens, my brothers worked on the farm, too, carrots, cabbage and all that, it was [illegible] farming, so then we, moved to Rockland Lake, and my brothers worked as dynamiters, making that route one from Florida to Boston route, and they worked, there as dynamiters, then we moved from there to Johnston, NY, when I was 8 years old, and I went to school in Johnstown, I went there ‘til 1909 and I quit at the age of 14 years and went to work. In the glove factory, I worked at 10 cents an hour for 8 hours a day, so putting thumbs in and tying them with the other part of the glove. And I could hardly wait ‘til I would be 16 years old so I could work 10 hours a day, dollar a day.

So then I went on piecework and I worked on a machine. First I pulled ends, you call it end pulling, it’s that silk, in the back of the glove 3 cents a dozen. Then I went there three years later, and I thought well I’m going, to go to that factory, where I used to work, and I went, to look for the employers and I asked, “How much do you get a dozen?” It was about 5 years later, they were getting 40 cents a dozen for the same work the same work that I was getting 3 cents a dozen. And I was making 25 dollars a month.

So then I went to Europe in 1913 and I went to, on a boar the name was the Kaiser Wilhelm, it was called the Kaiser Wilhelm, with a cousin, that lived in Gloversville, I went to her parents with her and our boat costs us 58 dollars one way, just on the boat. She came up to the factory, she just came to say goodbye, to me. She says, “Mary I’m going to Europe, my mother wants me to come home. Why don’t you come with me?”

“Wait, I’ll go home and ask my mother if I can go,” and I went home, and my mother said, “What are you coming home so early?” I said, “Netty’s going to Europe. Can I go with her?” She says, “Are you crazy? Going over all that water.”

So we went to Cloversville, we got the tickets it costs us 58 dollars on the boat one way, and we went to Bremen, and we rode, on the train to Pressburg, and then I went to Malacky, where my aunt lived and we went to visit different aunts. I went to St., Svatý Mikuláš, St. Nicholas, and I was in Marie, Tal, Sastin, and I went, to Prague, my aunt took me there to see the Sokol’s drill and we were there until November.

I came back to Johnstown, NY, just in time for Dance for Thanksgiving, for Lent, before Lent. I was in Vienna also. When I was in Johnstown after I got married, in 1915, July 3, 1915 and lived in Johnstown and then we finally moved, to Saratoga, we were there for 2 years in Saratoga, moved back to, Johnstown again then in 1919 we moved to Binghamton and I’ve been here since. I go to Johnstown every year, I drive. I’ve been going to Johnstown every year, and I’ve traveled, quite, a bit, I’ve been to Panama City, Florida from Binghamton. My daughter was married there, her husband was a flyer, Paul Vanek. He was Lieutenant, and Paul Vanek was a flyer, I went to Queens, Long Island, when I was single yet, in 1914 to visit my godmother in Jamaica, and Queens, Long Island, was a regular farm. 

I went to Sunny Side Long Island, and I went to the World’s Fair, in Yonkers and my godmother, did lived in Queens, but it was just a farm, and I’ve been to Miami, Florida six times, I have two cousins there, Miami Beach, six times. I have a niece and a nephew there, Hollywood Florida, Pompano Beach, Fort Lauderdale my niece’s husband’s son lived there. New York City 15 times. I went to Fort Lauderdale with the Senior Citizens, we went to Disney World and they took us all over, on that, boat that goes along the canal there we went to dinner and to outside dinner, and to vaudeville, show, and we also went to Key West.

Also to Miami Beach on a trip, they took us by bus. Clearwater, we went to Kobak Tree for dinner and I’ve been to Auriesville, I used to go to Auriesville in 1904, it was only 7 miles from Johnstown. I went there on a horse and wagon (ah) I saw a priest out there, he was, from England, and I got talking to him, “I used to come here in 1904-1907. To the old church, in a wagon with the fringe on top.” (Oh) And he said he was from Ireland, oh with the Surrey with the fringe on top, so I seen him there, several times, when I go to Auriesville, and I’ve been there ten times, since I live in Binghamton. When I go to Johnson I always go to Auriesville and I went to Poughkeepsie, to friends to a wedding, and San Diego in California went, to visit my grandson and wife, and my little great-granddaughter was born, she was two months old when I went there, they took me to, Mexico.

I went to Tijuana, Mexico, Joya, and I went to Chicago 13 times, my daughter lived at Mt. Prospect, Illinois, now she lives in, Guilford, Connecticut, and I’ve been there 8 times, Guilford. My grandson lived there now he lives at East Hartford, now I have to go, to East Hartford, troy, NY. Bowlers with the E.J.A.A. Bowlers. I was a bowler, Buffalo, NY with the Bowlers we went Niagara Falls with the Bowling Team with the E.J.A.A. used to go to Schenectady, then in. My brother lived in Schenectady, then in second, Secondaga, Lake 1975, but I used to go there in 1912, when it was Secondaga Park roller skating, and swimming, when we used to wear, stockings and bloomers for bathing.

I’ve been to Rochester 4 times, my grandson graduated, from University, of Rochester then he graduated from Strong Memorial, he’s a doctor, there now he got married and I was there Christmas visiting them, then some in Auburn the one that used to live in San Diego so now I, have two great-grandchildren. I’ve been there several times, then, went to Nashville, Tennessee, with the Senior Citizens in 1976. Montreal, Canada, in 1975 with the Senior Citizens. Now I’m, retired when I was 63 years old that was in 1958, retired from E.J.

And I started to babysit, I lived in Hillcrest in a trailer, trailer park for 9 years, Tingley’s. I babysay for 50 cents an hour, by the hour, afternoon and evenings. So then Mrs. Kresge asked me Martha Kresge, if I would, babysit a week or two days and night while they went to Germany, to sell Volkswagens. So I said sure, they lived at Chenango Forks. So I started babysitting, people heard about me, so then I, started babysit move right in and took care of the children, while, people went on vacations. I sat for doctors, lawyers, dentists, and IBM workers all kinds of businessmen, I even sat for Charlie Johnson’s, grandson, and I also sat for Charlie Johnson when they went to down south South Carolina, someplace the daughter lived there someplace, they went to soo, some Dupont (they went to visit Dupont) and I sat for several doctors, the Horowitzes all the Dr. Demtrak and Dr. Ansell, Dr. Goodman, eye doctor also pediatrician, Dr. Bronstein, Dr. Kondrad Stearns. I couldn’t mention how many, I could be, must be a hundred, Dr. Baron, must be 250 families that I have sat for, so now at 82 I am going to relax now.

And I’m going to enjoy myself with the Senior Citizens, I go to Senior Citizens for dinner, I belong to Greenman’s Center, I belong to, the Johnson City Nutrition Center at the High School, I belong, to the, First Ward Senior Citizens, I go there for [illegible], to the meetings, and we enjoy ourselves very much.

Anna: Could you think of anything else?

Mary: I have two daughters, one lives in Binghamton then I, have another daughter lives in Guilford, Connecticut. I have six grandsons the oldest one is 33 and the youngest one is, will be one Sweet Sixteen in March and the other one will be 16 in, June. Two wonderful grandsons, they are very good to me and I have, one niece in Johnson City, and that’s my son in law is General Manager, in, Dunn McCarthy, he started there when he was a young boy, pushing boxes, around, pushing racks around and finally worked on heels, worked at heels, and then he went in the service, Waco, Texas, he was a flyer, he went, to Panama City, and the great-grandson was born there. And he came back, he came back and went, back on heels again at, Dunn McCarthy, and they finally asked him, “Would you like to be a foreman?” so he was a foreman. Then they sent him back to Auburn Superintendent.

Then they sent him back to Binghamton to be General Manager. Now he’s up in Auburn back and forth working. My other son in law the one that lived in Connecticut, he was working for Charlie Bloomer in Mt. Prospect. As a research chemist. Then they transferred him to Guilford, Connecticut, been there now in research they had 3 sons, each one one of my, daughters had 3 songs, I finally di get a granddaughter, a great-granddaughter which I was waiting for because I had two girls, and I wanted some granddaughters, and they closed Dunn McCarthy, yes he is, working in Auburn now. He worked in Dunn McCarthy for 37 years. He came back he goes there on Monday and comes back on Friday. She works in a bank. I go with every week with the Senior Citizens. I go to Johnson City play Bingo, we play for pennies 25 games 2 cents a, game and sometimes I’m lucky and sometimes I’m not, lately I’m lucky and I’ve had so many pennies to carry my pocketbook drags, on the floor it is fun.

And the girls are very nice. They also play Bingo, but we like to, play for the pennies. I belong to St. Stan’s. St. Stanislav on Prospect, Street. I used to belong to St. James when my girls were little and then I, we did go to St. Cyril’s and then when I moved to Hillcrest, I went to, St. Katherine’s about 9 years I lived in Hillcrest then I was, when I came home to live, my daughter’s mother in law they went to St. Stan’s. So my daughter said, “Mother why don’t you go to St. Stan’s? You can take Mom and Dad to church,” they used to ride with me to church. And I’ve been going to St. Stan’s for 17 years. Eddie’s the daughter, from Connecticut. They go to St. Cyril’s. The Vaneks do.

Anna: Thank you Mrs. Sovik.

Mary: Some of the people I babysat. Dr. Marvin, Dr. Sivers, Dr. Horney, Dr. Nortons, Epstein, Dr. Bronsky, Dr. Klima Grandel, Dr. Gould, Dr. Goodman eye and baby doctor, Dr. Koslawsky, Dr. Amtrak, Margolas, Kurst, Bateglino, Hogopian, Norman Rudin, The Parrish Sanford, Olums, Dr. Natala, Dr. Baron. Dr. Shute, Dr. Sife, Dr. Stevens, Dr. Weiss, Dr. Kenneth Smith, Conrad Stemis, Koffmans, the Monks, the Emmas, Dr. Posture, Dr. R.E. Nell, Dr. Stevens, the Andersons Norwich, Hestor, lawyer, Dr. Graff and Dr. Roff, the Levenes, Dr. Steinbough, Dr. Brown, Dr. Monserette, Dr. Cleary, Dr. Davidge, Dr. Doyle, Dr. Vreede, Dr. Moriarty, Dr. Pemberton, Dr. Hayden, Dr. Cox, Dr. Divovan. Dr. Donovan, the Hotchkiss and Dave Lewis.

Streaming Audio

Date of Interview



Caganek, Anna


Sovik, Mary


35:00 Minutes

Date of Digitization



Broome County Oral History Project

Subject LCSH

Sovik, Mary -- Interviews; Broome County (N.Y.) -- History; Children of immigrants -- Interviews; Binghamton (N.Y.); Endicott Johnson Corporation -- Employees -- Interviews; Babysitters -- Interviews

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This audio file and digital image may only be used for educational purposes. Please cite as: Broome County Oral History Project, Special Collections, Binghamton University Libraries, Binghamton University, State University of New York. For usage beyond fair use please contact the Binghamton University Libraries Special Collections for more information.



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The Broome County Oral History Project was conceived and administered by the Senior Services Unit of the Office for the Aging. Funding for this project was provided by the Broome County Office of Employment and Training (C.E.T.A.), with additional funding from the Senior Service Unit of the National Council on Aging and Broome… More

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