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Interview with George J. Macko

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Contributor

Macko, George J. ; Politylo, Nettie

Description

Macko talks about his father immigrating from Czeckoslavia and settling in Binghamton, NY. Both his parents died when he was young and he and his siblings lived with a relative. At fourteen he left school to work for the Binghamton Glass Co. where he learned the glassblowing trade. He details the operation of the glassblowing. He left there after ten years to work for Olums Furniture Co. on Clinton Street. He worked there for fifty-one years. He describes the Clinton Street neighborhood and the businesses located there. He served as an interperter and assisted immigrants in the community with paperwork for mortgages and citizenship. After retiring he became involved in politics. He served as a County Supervisor for twenty years representing the First Ward. He speaks of being on several committees during his time as a County Supervisor and was involved with the creation of Broome Technical School [Broome Community College] and the Broome County Airport. He also served as a board member of St. Michael's Church.

Date

1978-03-30

Rights

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 fa

Date Modified

2017-03-27

Is Part Of

Broome County Oral History Project

Extent

34:03 Minutes ; 10:20 Minutes

Transcription

Broome County Oral History Project

Interview with: George J. Macko

Interviewed by: Nettie Politylo

Date of interview: 30 March 1978


Nettie: This is Nettie Politylo, interviewer, talking to George J. Macko of 36 LaGrange Street, Binghamton, NY, on March 29, 1978. Mr. Macko, will you tell me about the experiences of your people coming here from Europe—coming here—etc.?

George: Ready?

Nettie: Yes.

George: My dad and mother was born in what they call now Czechoslovakia, a good many years ago. Dad came here to the United States—he landed in Philadelphia in about the year 1888. He walked—he didn't have money enough to pay railroad fare from Philadelphia to Scranton, so him and another man that came over with him, they walked the railroad track from Philadelphia to Scranton—and they got—because lot of our friends is living there—so he stayed there a while and worked in the mines. He stayed at the mines a while—and he come back—he moved into Binghamton in 1890. He got his first citizen papers before that and he worked—hard job, to get a job them days—was putting sewer going down through Clinton Street. They hired you for two days and the next two days you was done—you didn't have a job, and you had to struggle along to get a job—so then he went to work and he got a job with Roberson Lumber Co. He had a job working outdoors piling lumber—when they comes in the cars and get piling it—he worked there, oh, ’til about 19—1907—no, 1906—he worked there 1896—he left there—he had a very bad case of asthma—had it tough. But he used to like to take his drinks, and he worked, but sometimes when it comes Friday or Saturday—boy—that was bad! But it’s one of them conditions—like the old timer used to be—that was nothing new to them. And Mother come to this country about 18—1890. She was a hard worker—she used to keep house. They used to have boarders come to live with us—they had good ones and they had bad ones—they had to make both ends meet to get along the best they could. About the year 1907—Dad come home from work one day and I come home from school, he said, Dad, “I'm not going to work anymore, I'm done—I can't work no more ’cause my asthma got me so I can't do anything." So he died.

I was ten and a half years old then when he died, and two years later, Mother was in bad shape—she fell down on the ice in the wintertime on the sidewalk, hit the back of head—she went into a coma. She died two years after Dad died.

That left us—I was twelve and a half years old at that time—so what happens—so after they both died—I went to live—my sister, my brother and I—went to live with my uncle, Mr. & Mrs. George Tatich. I lived with them. When I was fourteen years old, I had to quit school to go to work—so I started to work for the Binghamton Glass Co. as a mold boy and snapping-up boy. In 1913 I started apprenticeship of being a glassblower—learning the trade, glassblower. I stayed, worked in the glasshouse until 1924. I quit there in '24 and I went to work and started to work at Olum Furniture Co. on Clinton Street. Mr. Jacob Olum was the owner and proprietor of the business, and I worked for him, and I been working for him continuously until I retired after 51 years working. I come up the hard way with ’em—I met all kinds of people, good and bad—we managed to get along the best I could.

I used to talk, go out to be a witness for, witness for people to be a citizen of this country—and used to go out to work selling furniture and go out, help a whole lot on different things—being sort of an interpreter for things for to help them along when they would buy homes, etc.—which we did—and they got going good—and I got to be working in the store. We got in the Slovak people, Polish people, Czechoslovakian people, Ukrainian people—and you meet them all—I could understand them and I could talk with them all—I had no difficulty at all. So, I worked ’til 19—19—after forty years of working for the store—I retired after I was 69 years old on social security. After I retired Mr. Olum wanted me to come back to work two or three nights a week, so I decided—I went back to work three times a week with a salary of $30.00 for twelve hours, and I stayed there, I put in eleven years doing that and I worked there ’til I was taken sick—and with doctor's orders, I decided to give up work, so I haven't been working since. So, my political help, I started to get in politics about in the year 1928. I was elected Secretary of the Roosevelt—Roosevelt Victory Democratic ticket—Secretary of the First Ward Group that we had here—and I kept being in politics, and went along and here of 19—1934—or ‘35, I run to be supervisor for the First Ward—and I was elected to that office, and I was elected continuously to that office from 19—1936 to 1955. In the 1955 election I got beat and that ended my career as a politician.

Nettie: Well, tell me more about your politics—exactly what your job was. What was your—trustee, councilman, supervisor—?

George: Supervisor.

Nettie: Supervisor of what?

George: I was county supervisor for twenty years. I was on different committees—I was on a whole lot of important committees on the Board of Supervisors—I spent nine years on the Finance Committee that made up the finances and the budget for the county for the year. I was on that for nine years. I was on the law Legislative Committee about nine years. I was on the Airport Committee from the time we started it, ’til I got beaten in the election. I was on the construction of the airport, and after the airport was finished—then I was on the committee that started when they started going to work on building a new college in Binghamton. The Board of Supervisors elected twelve members to be on the committee about getting a college in Binghamton. We decided to do that and the Board of Supervisors voted to appropriate one million dollars for that new college that we were supposed to have. Things went along smoothly, then all of a sudden things turned around. Lt. Governor—er—er—Lt. Governor of the state, he came down, we had a meeting with the Board of Supervisors. He wanted us to go to work and start another college in the city and at one million dollars that we wanted to appropriate for the state college—to go to work, to put that toward the new community college that, they called it at that time—it wasn't community college, at that time, it was the School of Science. So they took—they—they split the committee of the twelve men—they took three men, Harry True, myself, and Hugh Wheeler to be on the new school that we wanted to open up—which today is Broome Technical School. And I been on that school from the time they started it ’til I got beaten in the election. I still have a lot of faith in that school and I think it is one of the Godsends of our County for having a school like that. That is a very good school.

Nettie: Mr. Macko—how about telling me more the airport—how it started—how did it get around? I know it had something to do with the Johnsons—I'm not sure.

George: Johnsons? Johnson—what's-his-name was on the committee.

Nettie: Charlie Johnson?

George: See, they had an airport in Endicott, but they wanted to have a bigger airport because the government would not put any money into that airport because of circumstances in the airport that they didn't think would be feasible to do it. So they appointed a committee—Johnson was on that—ooh—President of the Ansco Co. was on that—quite a few real business people were on that committee. So they come before the Board of Supervisors to see what we can do, if we would be—interested in building the airport—so we had a meeting, and this group of people come and explained to us why we should have a new airport here and so forth, like that. And, ah, ’course I was interested in aviation because my son was a flier. My son is a flier in the Navy. After they got through talking, we heard all sides of the story and the Board was kind of quiet, so I said to this—I can't think of his name now, he used to be a big wheel here—I said, “You people—now you sell up a idea, this here airport, now you should go out, and go out and canvas the city and different parts of the city, kinds of different parts of the county, then come back to us with the report—see what you made on it.” And it went along like that, and they came back and then the board decided that we go along building the airport.

Nettie: How did you find that site? Why not another site?

George: This committee that was working on it, they had that all located. They showed us the site before we started to do it. We all saw it. It's a good site, but still, it’s a condition of Broome County—when you get fogged, you get fogged in—you can't help it, it's a situation we have here.

Nettie: A sort of pockets there, too.

George: That's right. The airport did a good thing for the community.

Nettie: Yes, business.

George: Everything. Everybody. A lot of people come back, come back and objected to me, come up, a lot come up, he said, “George, we gave you the devil for being for the airport, but we're sure happy you done it."

Nettie: That's right, that's right.

George: I said that's all right—that's the way you got to take it—some good and bad.

Nettie: That's right.

George: I says I always manage—oh, when—I always manage, when I even voted—when I even voted for anything in the county, on the different budgets, I always went to work—I went to court [inaudible], hard concepts, I listen to ’em—I'm talking—if it's a good thing and they satisfaction me, I voted for it. And if I wasn't satisfied, I'd question them about it—and after I questioned, if the question come out to my satisfaction, I voted for it, if not, I voted against it—and that was always my motto when I voted for anything.

Nettie: Other words, you voted, you went along as though it was something of your own, as though that was your private thing.

George: Well, the benefit of the people, for the benefit of the people.

Nettie: That's right. Your heart was really in it.

George: That's right. I didn't want to hold up anything that wasn't, that wasn’t—anybody that was detrimental to the city, I didn't like.

Nettie: Did you ever know the Kilmers? Did you ever know anything about the Kilmers?

George: I've known of them, but I never had any contact with ‘em.

Nettie: How about the Link people? Do you know the Links?

George: I know Ed Link, but, ah—

Nettie: Just through business?

George: Just through business, that's right.

Nettie: Nothing personal. Well, how about telling me—where was this Olum's located? On Clinton Street, or was it located—

George: —Clinton Street.

Nettie: Clinton Street. At that era, say fifty years ago, I know that they had, probably, many stores and probably, I think Jewish people had stores, and things like that. Will you tell me something about that? Other people you got involved with?

George: Well, there was different people had businesses there, mostly grocery stores—why, mostly—there were two or three Jewish places had grocery stores. Then they had a dry goods store that they have, that they used to have on Clinton Street, people by the name of Smock’s. They used to have children—children's—and baby dressing, and dresses for the ladies. They was in business for quite a while, but then he died off, she died off—that closed that business up—and then they had a lot of people running the hotel—saloon, drinking places, that so many of them had, some in and some out.

Nettie: Wasn't there a Lincoln Hotel at one time?

George: Yeah—Lincoln Hotel.

Nettie: That's before Ann Kolota had it.

George: Well, Lincoln Hotel, Mr. Torony owned it—he used to have a corner on, a hotel on the corner of Charles and Clinton Street. He was doing business there, but he had to get out of there, so then he went to work—took the Lincoln Hotel over. And he’d run that for quite a while—and went along, got along good—we used to go there and I used to meet him quite often—every week, my wife and I’d go there every week. They used to have dances, there’d be dancin’, we'd meet different people and we'd have a glorious time there. So Mr. Torony got down to the point, he says, "George,” he says, “I want to give up—I want to sell.” He says, “I want to sell it to you." 

I says, "Steve! Sell it to me?” I says, "I haven't got the money to pay for that." 

He says, "What do you care? I'll take a mortgage." 

Yes, but I said, "I don't want to worry about a mortgage." But it went along, and a fellow by the name of Maxim come along, he bought it. Maxim had it for quite a while, and he sold it—and I don't know who had it now since the Kolotas had it. I don't know who runs it now.

I used to go out, and people who come from the old country had to go, they all had to go and order up cit—get citizen papers. I used to go out, I can't tell you even how many people I went to be—ah—be a citizen, put in for citizen papers for. Well sometimes, ah—they used to make me mad—they wouldn’t come and tell me, "Will you go for me?” but they’d come up and tell me, “You gotta go for me.” And it’s the night—the day before they got to go to court, they’d say, “You got to go with me." So I turned a few of them down. Anyone—anybody that wanted me to be a witness for ‘em and I didn’t like their character, I wouldn't go. I wouldn't go for everyone, because one time I went for a witness with another fella—both of the fellas are dead—one was a witness and one was the man running for citizen paper. We went up—I never had to worry about what I said or done, but I wasn't—I wasn’t—I didn't hear what the other guy had to say, so I was going to be honest—so this examiner, when we got through, he said, he says, "All right,” he said, “I will rest your case, but,” he said, “when you come before the judge and get citizen papers,” he says, “I will put perjury charges against you.”

Nettie: Put what?

George: Perjury charges.

Nettie: Oh, perjury.

George: So we had to go from one office to another to sign up. Someone—but this thing was bothering me all the while. And I said to the guy, I says, "Come on back." Ah, he said, "Where?" I said, "We're going back to the examiner, again." He said, "Why?" I said, "He said something I didn't like as far as myself is concerned—I don't know about you, but I'm fighting for myself." So I went in there and saw him. He said—I think his name was Smith—I says, "Smith, did I understand you say that you passed us all right but when it comes to court—before the court to get the papers, you’ll go put perjury charges against us?" 

He says, “Yes,” so I says, “Let me tell you, Smith, right now.” I said, "You want to make damn sure that the perjury charges you're going to put against me, that they’re gonna be good, or I'm gonna sue you.” I said, "I will not go to work and stand up to anybody accusing me of perjury when I haven’t perjured myself." Well, we come to court, he never mentioned a thing about it—he just said to the judge, "Pass the guy." But I'm telling you, so—you had some of them couldn't write their names, you know, hard workers—they never wrote in their lives [inaudible]. I had one guy in particular, Harry Terre—Harry Tatiliba. He's [inaudible] junkyard [inaudible] iron all day long—how do you expect a guy to write a letter when he never wrote a letter before? So he had it in there and the examiner called me in and he said, "George,” he says. he says, "I like this guy and all that, but he says he can't sign his name.” I said, "Let me talk to him in his language.” I said, “He'll sign it.” I said, “he'll do it, just let me talk his language.” So I told him in his language, I said, "If you don't sign your name, you're not going to get the citizen papers, so take your time—try to write as plain as you can. Take your time, don't rush it." He did. (Laughing.)

Nettie: They have to have someone interpreting for them.

George: That's right. I had—I had to ask permission to interpret for him. So—I’d never done that.

Nettie: That was interesting.

George: Another time I went up for a witness for a man. He was born here—in Scranton—well, he goes outside of Scranton. When the war come along they took him in—pushed. He said he wouldn't go and fight because he wasn’t going to fight against his brothers over there, his father and brothers in the old country. And he was born here, they took him in, but when he got discharged from the Army he got his citizen papers. So I went up to be a witness for his wife for papers, and this examiner—she took her husband's citizen paper with her—and he questioned her, he says, "This is your husband?"

She says, "Yes”—and he was born in, near Scranton, and was baptized in Scranton—she said, "Yes." 

Well, he said, "He didn't need no citizen papers—he's a citizen in the first place." Well, he said, "The government gave it to him when he discharged, so that's it." So, you see there was wrong in there, too.

Nettie: That's right.

George: So, she got her paper without a bit of trouble. But most of the people, I never had none of them turned down that I went to be witness for—because I was careful who I went for. I went for Slovak people, I went for American people, I went for Italian people—those that I knew they was all right, I went for ‘em, no trouble at all. And I never tried to charge any of them any money for going—although losing time at work, but never charged any of them—but some of them would give me a donation once in a while. And a friend of mine, I went for citizen’s papers for him and his wife—and they both got it. And I was running for election that year, and he went to work, he said, to some people he said, "Don't vote for George. George has been there long enough,” he said, "get somebody else to run." I said, "That's what I get paid for being his witness." (Laughing.)

Nettie: People are comical, aren't they?

George: You got ups and downs, I'm telling you. Yeah.

Nettie: Since we're on Clinton Street, how about telling me something about that Horvatt Bank that was closed—

George: Horvatt Bank was closed by the State Dept. of Banking—they closed it. There was a discrepancy or something, something like that. I don't want to bring in the bi—the other part of it. But it, ah—It hurt the people of the First Ward and hurt the business of the First Ward when that bank went under. There's no question about it. It’s just too bad that it happened.

Nettie: Mr. Macko, what kind of people went to that bank? Why didn't they go to Binghamton Savings Bank? Why did they go to Horvatt Bank?

George: They went to the Horvatt because he's one of our kind, and he used to have a good reputation. His dad used to run the beer business, which, my dad used to go there every week—had a grand time—and the family was well known, so the people had a lot of confidence in him so they went to the bank. Now, you take all the churches—all the churches had money in banquet—er—Horvatt's Bank.

I was elected Treasurer in St. Michael's Church in the July. When the half year was up they elected me for a full year, so, a year and half as Treasurer in St. Michael's Church. After that I was elected for President of the Board from 1923 to '29. In '29, after the year 1929, I didn't want to be on it any longer, so I—I was elected but I refused it, wouldn’t be swore in, so that stopped it. Then, I didn't get elected—got elected again in 1934. In 1934 I took it again amidst a lot of turmoil—church fight was starting in there—which I didn't like, didn’t need in the first place, because I knew the law says, when you got membership laws to go by, that's all you got to worry about—membership laws. Well, St. Michael’s Church was dedic—er—elected—er, appointed by 27 families. They got the charter for St. Michael’s Church in 1920—er, in 1904, and when I was there I tried to keep within the law on everything was done, and the people had confidence in me and they always wanted me in there. So after I served in 1920, er, ‘34, this church fight got started, harder, hotter and hotter, and I tried to calm it down the best I could. I used to tell ‘em, he says, "Look at this—why do we have to fight? Don't go to the left, don't go to the right, but stay in the middle of the road,” and I said, “If you stay in the middle of the road, you're gonna win. And if you don't stay in the middle of the road, you don't win.” Well, it just happened, they wasn’t under membership laws in New York State. Well, the law, the charter said we should have the Greek Catholic Church—Greek Catholic Church rites. That was in the charter. But that was, that was the fight about Greek Catholic Church religion, fighting, that didn't help ‘em any. But if I say, there wasn’t no law to take ‘em out of the—they even sent two lawyers to the old country to check up on the history of the church and everything—Bernie Chernin and another guy. That was a vacation for them. Who paid—and who paid for it? The poor people. So—is there anything else?

Nettie: When you were telling me about—you were working—your dad was a glassblower?

George: I was a glassblower.

Nettie: You were a glassblower.

George: I was a glassblower. I was seventeen years old when I started blowing glass.

Nettie: Mr. Macko, will you tell me the procedure of blowing glass? I think it is quite interesting—can you explain it? Or if you can’t, you have to show it, is that it? 

George: (Laughing.) You know, we used to have thirty-three glassblowers working at the glassworks, but every year they allowed, they’d usually allow them to put one apprentice—to put an apprentice on, so, every year there's men put in for ‘em. I went in for a four-year apprentice—they used to have a five-year apprentice, but when l went in it was a four-year apprentice. We used to have old glass—sand, soda, lime, and potash—and we used to melt it, and we used to have about a hundred tons of glass melted just like molasses, day and night. And you’d have a long pipe, a pipe about that long [about 24”], and you’d put a [inaudible] on the end of it, and you'd go to work and gather that glass, take it and roll it on the stone or iron, and you had a form for the bottle, and you'd go to work and before you closed the bowl you’d blow the bottle out. So they used to make bottles from—anyway, I used to make a bottle from one half ounce up to sixteen ounces—but then, they used to make bottles up to five gallons, but that I couldn't do because that was too big a job for me.

Nettie: Is that only bottles, or did you make vases and other things?

George: Bottles.

Nettie: —just bottles—

George: Just bottles. So, in 1923, the year—we closed for the season, and then '24, I started work for Olum. That was the end of my glassblowing business. But that was hard work. In wintertime, half a side you were burning and the other side of you was freezing, and blowing glass all day long was no picnic. You had to go clear round the—you had to work in union—unison. And if you didn't—if you happened to stop—the thing didn't work out for you when you was on, on the kneading board. To divide it, you'd have to holler, “Look out!” because the man would come around with the hot glass and hit you in the rear with it—burn your pants if you didn't holler. So you had to be watchin’ all the time. Had to go day round, day round and round and round.

Nettie: Did this have something to do with your respiration after many years?

George: Didn't bother me. I used to play in a band, even! Blow glass, play in a band. Oh, no. We, ah—back in 1912, we started a band from St. Michael’s Church.

Nettie: Just a few men?

George: Oh, there were the few of us—then there was quite a few of them, wound up, but the band went along, gone along good.

Nettie: What did you do in the band? How many in the band, and what part did you play in it?

George: I played the cornet. I played the cornet, but then I quit that band, and guys asked me to go to work, get a saxophone—and I start blowing, training on the saxophone and I went to work, went to first work for the Slovak Citizens Band. I played in that afterward. But St. Michael’s band—they had a nice band, but they broke up.

Nettie: Where did you play? At picnics, things like that?

George: Yes.

Nettie: Did you have high school?

George: My education—I went to school when I was seven years old and I quit when I was fourteen—I got up, er, finished the seventh grade and graduated the glassblower. (Laughing.) Yeah.

Nettie: Your education was experience throughout life, right?

George: That's right—but thank God I struggled along all right. I can't complain.

Nettie: Did you have a son in service?

George: Yeah—my older boy.

Nettie: Will you tell us about your family?

George: I got two sons—and they’re both high school graduates—-and then he started—the War come along—he went to work and started to take night school in Endicott High School to be a pilot, and he went along. They picked ten men out of the class to go to work and take flying lessons in the Endicott Airport—so, he was one of the ten—so then he went to work after that certain length—-certain courses to go through. Then they took, out of the ten—they picked out five others to go for another course of flying, and he went along—he won every one of them because—so things come along, and the report come out from Washington that all the civilians in pilot training have to join the service—and there's ten of them up in Endicott. There were some from Massachusetts, some from New York in the class—so they got together and, “We got to join, we got to join the service”—so they went to the Navy-Army recruiting station here. They wanted to enlist as pilots in aviation in the government—they wouldn't take them, so they decided to go to New York and got the Navy Department up there to see if they could take them in. Well, they had a meeting there, the twelve men, and they said, “We will.” He says, “Gonna take a couple of you, two of you is gonna pass. One is perfect—he's in from right today—he's in.” That was my son. They take him for this one. “From today on, you're a Navy man. Go out and buy a uniform and the government will pay for ‘em—and the government will pay for ‘em.” And the other boy, he's a boy from Owego—they gave him thirty days to fix up his teeth and report back in New York in thirty days, and he was appointed after that—so my son was in there. He trained pilots for the Navy for I think, for two and a half years. So then they went to work—so, they kinda closed down on that after, they went to work—they send them out to be instructed to be fighter pilots, so my son, the older boy, is a Navy fighter pilot, and they laid him off and he got through with the rank of Commander—from Ensign to Commander is quite a step without a big education—so he came back home, and he wanted—to put in full time and part time. He's got 27 years in as a Navy pilot.

Nettie: Is he living here—in the Triple Cities?

George: He's living here—he's living up above us on this street. He's got two boys, both college graduates. Both work for American Airlines—one works out of the super—vice president's office—the older one works out of the vice president's office as a troubleshooter or something, and the other one, the younger one, works in the accounting office, and my younger boy, Joe, he works, lives with me here—and he's been working ever since he graduated college—er—high school, for GAF for 34 1/2 years, and he got laid off.

Nettie: That was sad.

George: Yeah. He can't get a job—to get a job for $2.65 an hour—but when you’re making more money than that, try and get a job. Try and get a job.

Nettie: I know. It is very hard.

George: Them are the situations.

Nettie: Mr. Macko, when you worked at Olum's, what kind of wages did you get—years ago, compared to wages now?

George: I started there at $25.00 a week—you work from 8 o'clock to 9, 10 o'clock at night.

Nettie: Every day?

George: Every day, every day.

Nettie: How did they deliver furniture? Must have had buggies?

George: They had a truck—truck.

Nettie: They always had trucks?

George: Yeah, I was a salesman, I was a salesman—help uncrate the stuff, crate the stuff, polish the stuff, truck driving. I done everything, even swept the floor in the store.

Nettie: For $25.00 a week? That was when? How long ago?

George: That was back about 1924-1925.

Nettie: Now the wages are different, right?

George: Then we got a raise. Then, when Horvatt Bank went under in 1929, we had to take a cut in wages again.

Nettie: Oh.

George: The boss lost his money—so them are the things.

Nettie: How about the charge accounts? Will you explain?

George: They have charge accounts—which is a good account—good charge account. They'd have—before, they didn't use to have a charge account, and especially when we had floods. The people that were born here and they owed him more, more. Mr. Olum didn't crowd them—anything—he asked them to go along, “Pay a little as you can,” he said [inaudible] and you work along with ‘em. Then after that, he'd take the furniture and have it fixed for repairs—stuff like that—and then he started a Red Circle Credit Bureau, which you can have—buy furniture—without paying a carrying charge on it for a year. After a year there is a carrying charge, but the carrying charge is about—at that time was, I think, about 10%—that was made on the schedule, that average was 10%. On the electrical end of it, they used to give them ninety days without a carrying charge to pay for it. If they didn't pay for it, then you had to pay a carrying charge—and the carrying is the same way they are today in the store—you're doing business directly with the store, not with outsiders. See, it is a company-owned store.

Nettie: Sounds like Mr. Olum was a very nice man to work for. Sounds like he had a lot of compassion for people, the way you tell me.

George: He was very good to the people, very good. That's why all the people used to go to him, because he was so nice to ‘em—he was a Jew but he was like one of us, as far as that goes.

Nettie: Is he still living?

George: Oh yes, he'll be coming home from Florida in April. He's going to be 84 years old and I'll be 83—the same day—yeah. He was a very nice man to work for—-because I lived there—er, worked there that long.

Nettie: He sounds like a very nice man.

George: Yeah.

Nettie: Going back to Clinton Street, do you remember any people or characters who were colorful—someone comical—something outstanding about certain people?

George: Well—

Nettie: Maybe someone prominent?

George: There weren't any too prominent. They was all congenial—all happy, jolly, full of jokes, etc.

Nettie: Well, do you want to tell me anything else, Mr. Macko?

George: I don't know—

Nettie: What social life did you have?

George: My social life was very good. My wife—we're married 62 years, will be 62. We got along good—we raised a family of two boys—getting along right now—getting along good right now, thank God. As far as social life, we can't complain—as long as we are healthy and well, that's the main thing, the rest will come gradually.

Nettie: Do you belong to any clubs?

George: Just the First Ward citizens.

Nettie: Do you go out there? Do you have your meals there?

George: I haven't been in there quite a while. Look, all winter long I haven't drove my car—from the day—all winter long. The boy, younger boy stayed home, he said, "Stay home. Never mind driving the car, roads are so bad—get off of them," so I stayed home and didn't drive.

Nettie: It was a bad winter, wasn't it?

George: Oh, it was awful.

Nettie: Is there anything you have interesting for our tape? Something on your mind?

George: Say, there is one thing. You go down to First Ward Library, there is a library book in Slovak that was made by Mr. Mazar and Paul Sasinek. I saw it four years ago—has the history of the Slovak people in the Ward here. If you get a chance to look it up, you'll see it.

Nettie: I think it will be very nice.

George: I think you'll get a whole lot out of that.

Nettie: Well, Mr. Macko, it was a pleasure of you giving us information for our tape. Thank you very much.

George: You’re welcome, I assure you.

Date of Interview

1978-03-30

Interviewer

Politylo, Nettie

Interviewee

Macko, George J.

Duration

34:03 Minutes ; 10:20 Minutes

Date of Digitization

2017-03-27

Collection

Broome County Oral History Project

Subject LCSH

Macko, George -- Interviews; Broome County (N.Y.) -- History; Immigrants; Czechs--United States; Binghamton (N.Y.); Politics; Broome Community College; Broome County (N.Y.). Supervisors, Board of; Binghamton Glass Co.; Olum's Furniture Co.; Glassblowing; Clinton Street neighborhood; First Ward; Interpreter; Broome County Airport; St. Michael's Church

Rights Statement

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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Citation

“Interview with George J. Macko,” Digital Collections, accessed May 28, 2024, https://omeka.binghamton.edu/omeka/items/show/555.