Oral History: John Ryan
Downtown on Delaware Avenue was quite different from today. A walk down Delaware avenue in memory:
Upper Delaware St
The blacksmith shop across from the current post office. Kids liked to stop after school and watch Pappy Lang(?) shoeing the horses. The marble yard across from current library. Mr. ?? was covered with marble dust while making gravestones. The current library was a 3-story convent, before that the estate of owners of Baldt steel. The high spot of the block was Johnny Tobin's Nickleodeon theater host to 'Perils of Pauline' and others.
The school green [courthouse green] was used for baseball and other games prior to opening of battery park
Gilpin House [now Delaware Trust] with its long bar and arched alley entrance for the wagons & beer barrels. [Clydesdales?] Grocery stores, pharmacies, and other shops, hotels. At the end McIntire's New Castle Weekly [formerly telegraph office] and Deakyne Coal yard [and changing place for swimming off the wharf].
John V.'s father James T. was a founder and first secretary of the Goodwill Fire company.
John's mother Lydia Harney Ryan was left a widow with 6 small children. The 1910 census (line 41) lists not only the children (Hugh, James, Willie, Elizabeth, John and Harry, ages 13 years to 4 months) but two Italian boarders. Life was not easy for her, and she took in wash to help make ends meet. John's son Michael wrote: "When our grandmother Lydia Ryan died in 1966, a great number of the Italian community came to the viewing. They told us how much they appreciated what Lydia Ryan done for them. She had worked tirelessly to help the immigrant Italians when they arrived in New Castle, teaching English, helping them find jobs, places to live, etc. When dad died in 2006, some of the daughters of those who grandmom had helped came up to us to tell us that Lydia was still remembered for all she had done".
John worked as a machinist or tool maker for Pusey & Jones shipyard, Bellanca Aircraft and
Dupont Jackson Labs at the Chambers works in New Jersey. During WWII he worked on the Manhattan Project. He was active in leadership
positions in the Knights of
Columbus, and as of his 100th birthday, proud parent of 6 children (Paul, Elaine, Jack, Pat, Michael, Ann Marie), 23 grandchildren,
23 great grand childrend and two great-great grandchildren.