To make living
conditions easier, two major practices were followed. The first was keeping
boarders, the second was bootlegging which was carried out by virtually all
members of the community. Maria Melnyk housed about twenty boarders,
although she had only enough room for ten. These boarders were usually
bachelors. Ten men would work back shift at the plant and sleep at day, the
other ten would work day shift and sleep at night, thus making room for
twenty boarders. In 1913 room and board was two to three dollars per month.
Other prices were as follows: pay – fourteen cents per hour, twenty-five or
twenty-six dollars a week, seven cents for a single loaf of bread, fourteen
cents for a double loaf, thirteen cents for a pound of meat, and twenty-five
cents for six pounds of beans.
It took a few years to settle into a permanent residence. Ivan and Maria
first lived on
Laurier Street in Whitney Pier; from here they and their children would
move several times, for varied reasons. The Melnyks next move was to
(1) where they rented a company house on
Ferris Street, west of Victoria Road. The family was evicted from the
company house but with just cause. Ivan had been making moonshine when the
still blew up, setting the company house on fire. As mentioned before,
bootlegging became the most common and most effective way of increasing
one’s financial situation provided of course one was not caught. From “Honky
Town” the family continued to move, especially when the family began to grow
in number for original quarters were becoming too small.
In the fall of 1918, the family moved back to the
Between then and 1934 the family lived in several locations. Their second
dwelling in the Coke Ovens was located on
Tupper Street on the east side of Lingan Road. From here they moved to
19 Rear Frederick Street, and then to 27 Lingan Road. At this time, however,
Maria and Ivan developed marriage problems and Ivan, being the type of man
he was, left the family. Maria was unable to keep up with the rent and
finally the Jewish landlord, Arthur Green, seized the furniture for back
rent. The family then moved to a dwelling they had previously occupied on
Frederick Street and by 1934 Maria had saved enough money to buy a house at
130 Tupper Street, which still stands today.
Maria and Ivan remained
separated for the rest of their lives. Ivan, being stubborn, built his own
home at 101
Muggah Street and later, his oldest son, Joseph, moved in and resided
with him for several years.
In order to increase her income, Maria cooked and served hot meals to
prominent Jewish members of the community on special occasions and holy
days. This would occur two or possibly three times a week. A bottle or two
of spirits was usually ordered and a fifteen to twenty dollar tip was left
for the fine service.
Maria, able to speak only a little English, developed a strong business
orientated approach, which was passed on to several family members.
(1) The term " Honky"
or " Honkie" is a derogatory term for white people,
especially in North America. It should not to be confused with
"hunky" a disparaging term for a person,
especially a laborer, from east-central Europe.