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with comments by Adolph and Jean Goemmer
Scanned by Dick Chenault
Edited by Taylor Hayes
Date of Interview - 9-29-1979
Interviewed by Rosalyn McCain
Date of birth - 9-10-1911
Parents - John Willis Bruce and Pearl Adelaide Boris
Paternal grandparents - James Jasper Bruce and Georgia Caroline Trotter Bruce
Maternal grandparents - George Boris and Adelaide Woods
Ethnic group - Scotch and Irish
Family origin - Mother - South Carolina, Father - Georgia
Date of family arrival in County - 1867 or 1868
Location of first family settlement - Pueblo, Lower South Huerfano; Cucharas Valley
Kinship ties - cousins Luther and Robert Bruce in La Veta; sons Bill in San Francisco, Jack in Los Angeles
The Kitchens and the Garrens came here in 1870 or 1872. The Goemmers came later. The Kitchens and Garrens came with the Georgia Colony. My folks were not with the Georgia Colony that came in around 1870 or 1872. My folks probably got here five years before that, because my grandfather Bruce came home from the war, found the home burned and my grandmother and the three oldest children living in slave quarters. There was really nothing left of the big plantation, and all the blacks were freed. So, he loaded his family up and started west. That must have been some time around 1866 or 1867, somewhere in there, and I'm sure that they were in here by 1868. Grandfather brought his family by train to Lamar, which if I'm not mistaken, was the end of the railroad at that time. And then they came by stage on towards Pueblo. He was a very good carpenter, and there was a big cattle ranch on the Lower Huerfano out there southeast of Pueblo. They needed barns and sheds and everything like that built so, he stopped there, and they worked two or three years there, and my grandmother cooked for the ranch hands. Apparently he had done some scouting around during those two or possibly three years and decided that he wanted to take up land, I think they were opening it up for homesteading up the Cuchara Valley. My father was born on the homestead ranch, the old home place, in 1872 and grew up in the Cuchara Valley. There were nine of them. He stayed with the ranching and farming deal and took up his own homestead right close to the Butte. Apparently Grandpa Goemmer had come in and homesteaded on the other side of the Butte by that time. So, as far as I'm concerned, the Goemmers were always there. My father lived his life on the ranch that we homesteaded there. After my Grandfather had passed away, my Grandmother built a house in La Veta, and she moved to town, and the unmarried daughter stayed with Grandmother. The unmarried son built a home of his own in the same block. In the meantime, the other boys that were interested, my father was John and Uncle George and Uncle Art, all took turns at running the big ranch off and for two or three years each, until they decided to
sell it. Then the Estate was pretty well divided up not too many years after that, and each son & daughter got a certain amount of money that was spent for whatever they happened to want. My father purchased the first car besides the one the Goemmers had. I think the Goemmers had a car in 1918.
During the time that my Grandfather was getting ready to settle or homestead he built a log cabin up on the main place, and he worked over at St. Mary's on the Huerfano. He built those homes and barns and things. He only got home once a month because he had to walk. But in the working he acquired enough money to get a team of horses and some cattle and started out like that. But the cabin, for about a year didn't have any windows or doors. They hung quilts and things up to keep out the cold.
I remember Aunt Lou had a red petticoat that they used to tell us about. She washed it and hung it on a bush to dry. One of those steers decided that he was going to get that petticoat, and she decided he wasn't. She grabbed it and decided to run. The only thing that kept him out of the house was the fact that his horns wouldn't go through the door.
After they got a start with cattle and some horses, Grandfather built the big house that's there now. That was quite a nice home for it s time, double fireplace and big kitchen and big dining room and a big living room on the front, fireplaces on both sides of the living room and the dining room walls and I can't really say a whole lot more about him, but they prospered. There's no two ways about that. They made their life in the west after the war.
And before that I don't really know too much about it except that the plantation was in Orange County, Georgia, but I think they were here before the Georgia Colony came in. And I guess La Veta was pretty well settled up with people from the south that came in after the war) as far as I can remember.
The location of that first homestead is right straight east of the Butte. Ewings live there now. Then my father's homestead was just over the hill next to the Butte. And then the Goemmers were on the other side of the Butte. That was the original home that my father had. Except for the place in town, that was the only place they ever lived.
We are related by marriage. Adolph Goemmer's uncle married my aunt, and I married her (Jean (?) Goemmer's) brother. However, George, (?) and my brother Earl were about the same age and grew up together. I was twelve years younger and got kicked around quite a bit because I liked to tag along.
There is quite a flat hill just a little bit northeast of the home place, and there was an Indian encampment there in the summer time particularly. I think they moved around in winter. But you can still find a lot of arrowheads up on that hill. When the folks would butcher, the Indians would come and beg for some meat, but that's about all I remember. They never gave them any trouble. I suppose they were Utes or Crows. I don't know what tribe they were from or anything about it, but they never gave them trouble. There was also a schoolhouse over there near the Hayes place I think, Proctor Hayes' father's place. They went over on the hill to school. I think that at that time no one got more than the ninth grade. But the type of education they did get was probably equivalent to two years of college now, because it was definitely the kind of education they would have to have to do their own work and live the way they had to live.
I remember their talking about going to dances in the schoolhouse, dancing till daylight and then going home and having breakfast and going to work in the fields. I think I heard George comment, say they used to go over the top of Cuchara Pass to someplace over there, and they'd dance all night.
George: Mostly we went over on the Bear Creek to the Bear Creek School. Over there they stayed all night. They didn't try to go home. They stayed late. They'd go early and they would get some sleep before they would go home because that was a long ways over there. All horseback.
Ruth: The girls would carry their dancing dresses in a package and change after they got there. I remember them saying that. I had four aunts, Aunt Jane was the oldest. She was one of the ones born in Georgia. Uncle Jap was the oldest child, and then uncle Will was the third one. Those were the three that were born in Georgia. And then my Dad and Uncle George and Aunt Lou. And Aunt Fanny and Uncle Art and Aunt Mary. Aunt Mary was the youngest. They got around quite a bit. I never figured out why Aunt Lou never married because she was a very attractive woman. She used to go to the dances. I don't think it was probably any lack of chances to marry but she just didn't. She took care of Grandma, and when Uncle Will's wife left him, she raised his kids. His house was right next to Grandma's, so she raised his three children. The oldest was Rene, Hazel, then Marion. Then uncle Green had a house, three houses to the east from Uncle Will's house. So they were all in the same block. That's where Mary Falk has her trailer court, where you turn to go up the Cuchara. I don't know the names of the streets. They had names then, but nobody ever bothered with them. The town was so small. You said, well, I'm going down to so-and-so's. And you didn't say well, I'm going on the other side of town, to an address. You just told people who you were going to go see, and everybody knew where they lived.
Adolph: There's one thing that I remember, that she probably hasn't told. She said, that the boys took turns running that ranch that her father had. Well, Uncle Green and Uncle Jap and those boys, they were barkeeps at that time. They took turns.
Ruth: No. Uncle Jap was always a cowboy. He never did anything else. Also Uncle Green, didn't keep bar. Uncle Will was a barkeep. Uncle Green was not anti-social, but he just didn't care about town, even though he lived there. Even after Bill and I were married, we'd be driving some place along the road, and we'd see him walking back to town. He had spent maybe a night out on the mountains. He was a mountain man. He didn't care anything about town life at all. But Uncle Art and Uncle George, I think, they and Uncle Will, all three kept bar at sometime or other. I do remember that they wore guns, at that time, too, in town. Uncle Art was town marshall, I think, two or three times. I can remember a story that they used to tell on Uncle Will. He went into a cafe or an eating place, to get something to eat. And they brought his coffee, but they didn't bring him a spoon, just a knife and fork, and he asked for a spoon and they just didn't get round to take it to him. He decided he'd stir the cream and sugar in his coffee with a gun barrel. (laughter) How true that is I don't know, but that's a story they used to tell on him. I can't think of anything much more except they all seemed to do all right. And all of the next generation seems to have done pretty well, too. It was a good move when they left the south. I've thought time and time again, I would love to go down to Orange County Georgia and see if I could find some records. But everybody tells me the best way to find out about those things is to contact the Mormon Center in Salt Lake City. They have all of that on Micro-film and it is under the mountains in the range there. They have it stored in a big cavern of some sort. And you could designate somebody to find these
things for you, or go yourself. That would probably be cheaper than trying to go to Georgia. I've never been to Georgia, except to fly through. I'd sure like to go down and just look around and see if I could find the old plantation from the plat s.
Grandmother came from South Carolina. So I wouldn't be able to get much of the records on her. Her name was Georgia Caroline Trotter. That's really all I know except, that when she came, she brought several hundred blacks as a dowry to Georgia and that's really all I know. I think she had one black still with her after the war, that wouldn't leave, because she was there all alone with three small children. I think, she was one of the original of the dowery. Her name was Aunt Suky. But they did not bring her to Colorado. She taught my Grandmother to cook, which was something she had never done in her life before. And made a pretty good cook out of her as I understand it, because she taught the rest of the family. (laughter) Off hand, I can't think of anything more. I suppose after you're gone I'll think of two or three things. Now to try to write all of that down would just floor me. I would just never get it done. I don't like to write letters even. Can you think of anything more now?
Adolph: Nothing unless she would ask some questions.
Rosalyn: Well, I have a couple of questions. At the time that they came, were there doctors that they could go to? They would mainly have home remedies? And children would be born at home? Were there midwives around?
Ruth: I think people helped each other. Most families were a pretty good size. I just assume that they just helped each other, during these confinements. Home remedies definitely were in, even when I was a small girl.
Rosalyn: Do you remember any of those?
Ruth: Turpentine and goose grease or bear grease or something like that was used for congested chest. And then later my folks used hot applications.
Adolph: Took the place of (Anfrochastine?)
Ruth: And then they put a piece of wool across your chest. If it didn't cure you it could kill you. (laughs) But it seems to have worked until there were better things to use. I remember that my grandmother didn't have any milk when my father was born and she put a clean stick through a piece of bacon fat, I think, it was so that he couldn't swallow it, and they fed him that way. They didn't have too much to eat when they first got there. But then later my grandfather got apples by the barrel and he did plant a nice orchard on that place. I think, it is gone probably now. But I can remember when my father was running the place making cider, and putting it in big barrels and putting it on the porch. And, oh, I used to get so aggravated when it turned to vinegar. (Laughs) They were not apples as we know them now. But they did make good cider and vinegar and cooking apples. There were quite a few Ben Davis trees there and Jonathans. But that's many years ago. It's probably all died out.
Rosalyn: Ben Davis was a popular old apple, wasn't it?
Ruth: Yes, it would keep. That was the main thing. It was a good winter keeper. And it was put into the cellar. We get to talking sometimes about back in those days. I was two and a half, when we moved back over into dad's homestead and I get a picture in my mind and I talk to George about it and ask him if he remembers or am I dreaming about it. But he would say that I was right when I was talking about that big chicken house. It's gone now. On grandfather's place, I'm not much of a one to go back to see things because I don't like to see the deterioration which is really the biggest change you find anymore. People just let things go and fall to pieces. It's not the changing of styles or differences in yards or barns. It just seems like it's..
Adolph: It just melts away...
Ruth: It just melts away. It's just gone.
Rosalyn: That's really true.
Ruth: Now what else? Let's see what else I haven't covered here...
Rosalyn: What about cooperation between neighbors, you talked about that?
Ruth: That's definitely true, always has been, still is, I think.
Adolph: Among people that were in the beginning, yes, but...
Ruth: It was a very close knit community up there on the Cuchara.
Adolph: That's what I told you, you remember, in the start.
Ruth: That's right.
Adolph: Very close knit.
Rosalyn: Did the people visit a lot? Did they go from neighbor to neighbor, would you say more than they do now?
Ruth: Yes, and stay all night, too.
Rosalyn: When you talked about people going to the dances and staying all night, I think, I've heard other people say that one neighbor would come and visit all night and sometimes the next one.
Ruth: And they'd bed the kids down on the floor. And they did that when I was little.
Adolph: A little story. When they'd bed the kids down at the dances there were always those jokers around, and they interchanged the babies in the beds.
Ruth: I've heard of that too. And people had trouble finding their own kids. (laughter) Yes, they used to do that. It was so far between places, lots of times, and they'd go in a spring wagon or a sleigh or some-thing like that, and you'd just about have to stay. Just could not make it there and visit and get home the same day. I could remember one Christmas when I was pretty small, my dad put straw and hot rocks at the bottom of the sleigh and covered us all up and took us to town for Christmas. Turned the calf in with the cow and put a lot of feed out for the chickens and stock and we went down to Aunt Frannies's and stayed all day Christmas. We were gone for two nights on that trip. And that was wonderful because I never had a Christmas tree at home. My mother didn't believe in Christmas trees. That was one of the big things in my life, was that Christmas when I was a small girl. We had candles on the tree, and I can remember that so well. It was in that house that Uncle George lived in so many years and Bernice Hayes' folks live there now, I think, on that little cross street, you know, across from one of the Drurys.
Adolph: That was where Uncle George stayed.
Ruth: Aunt Fannie lived there first. And then Uncle George bought it. They had houses all over town. Dad and Uncle Jap had houses in town, but I don't think we ever lived in that house, I don't remember it anyway, going into it, but not ever living in it.
Adolph: Stella Harrison lives there.
Ruth: Yes, Stella Harrison lives there now. That was Dad's place and Uncle Jap's was the stone house next to it, I think. And I think Uncle George lived in that house of Billy Adamson. Also stone, right there on the next corner. None of us ever lived below the track.
Jean: Those early houses are mostly stone houses.
Ruth: Yes, they were stone houses.
Jean: That's rocky country.
Adolph: All except the one that Uncle John built, and that was a frame house.
Jean: Does that mean the one where Stella is?
Ruth: Yes, that was a frame house. It's frame outside anyway.
Adolph: It was a beautiful house. One of the nicest buildings in La Veta at that time. And Stella still keeps it nice.
Ruth: Good, that's one of the things I have to go back to, if I'm going to find it poorly kept. But that's where Luther got hurt, as I understand it?
Adolph: Yeah, helping her trim trees.
Jean: Boy, that was an expensive favor.
Ruth: But we, some of us, seem to kind of migrate back, most of us, into Colorado. There's one in Amarillo, that's Uncle Art's oldest boy, and one back in Maryland, in the Navy or connected with the Navy. And then Uncle Will's three children lived in Montana and two the them I still alive up there, Rene and Marion. And I hear from them periodically. And my brother's in California. Luther and Bob came back to La Veta. Luther wants to get out where he can back pack. He's a mountain man too. Apparently, but Bob's the other way. He's a social person, and he prefers to live in town and he's enjoying it there. The Prater boys are descended from the Bruce family too Aunt Jane married Gus Prater. And the Prater boys are Will Prater's, her son's children, so there's Bruce's blood there too. It's scattered around. Scattered profusely, I think. (laughter)
Rosalyn: You were talking about Christmas. What kind of Christmas presents did people have?
Ruth: Well, usually you hung up a stocking and you got a little bit of hard candy and a few nuts, and if it had been a good year, you got an apple and an orange, and if it hadn't, you didn't. But the Baptist Church, put on a Christmas Party every Christmas Eve and 9 times out of 10 I think, my Dad would get me down there to that and I think they gave us a little bag full of candy and sometimes a popcorn ball, other wise things that you could make at home. Decorations were usually cranberries strung on thread and popcorn kernels on a string. And then you had your candles and they did have some little candle holders that would clip on to the limbs but that was such a fire hazard that it's a wonder we didn't all burn up. Christmas gifts were very very small. I remember I was 10, 11 12, somewhere along there, I got a beautiful cup and saucer, and that is the only thing I can remember getting as a child. There just wasn't that much money. What they could make for the kids, they did, but mostly by the time they got through buying winter clothes, there wasn't much left to buy things that weren't necessary. Is that the way you found it pretty, much too?
Adolph: That's the way I found it. When Dad paid the grocery bill, they'd generally send him home with a little sack of candy, hard candy generally. We used it kind of sparingly. We didn't sit down and chomp it up at one time.
Ruth: No, and I remember my dad saying that when he was a young boy at home, they had apples, but if It was a good year they would get an orange. And he said that he would put that orange up on a shelf and go by and smell it every time he had a chance until it was almost ready to spoil before he ate it. It must have been pretty rough back in those days. Children, my grandchildren, if they had to go back to Christmases like our parents and we had, would be horrified, wouldn't they? They just couldn't understand it at all. And I still just cannot really get the pleasure out of Christmas as I did when I got a sack of candy and nuts and an orange.
Rosalyn: I was gonna say, they would have a hard time getting used to it, but they would probably really appreciate the things they did have.
Ruth: There was two times, possibly three times a year, that you had anything sweet. My daddy had bees, so we had wonderful honey candy, it was taffy. If we were lucky we had some peanuts in the taffy. But when you paid the grocery bill twice a year and at Christmas time, that was it. And we did pretty well on it. It was all right.
Rosalyn: Do you have any recollection or idea of what it would take in terms of money for a family to live on? In other words, what size a grocery bill would be, how much people would have to have in order to manage?
Ruth: Well, I can tell you what they bought. They bought flour, sugar, salt, and coffee.
Adolph: And that was to be ground.
Ruth: You'd grind up just enough to make that pot full. And, they raised their own meat, they had their milk cows, milk and butter, and cream. And they rendered their own lard. And they raised their own corn. And when the mill came in there, they raised their own wheat and corn for flour and meal and had it ground. I believe that the miller got half.
Adolph: I don't know how it was paid for.
Ruth: Money did not change hands very often except at the grocery store, necessities like that. I'm sure that was the way it was because I can remember Dad taking wheat and corn down to the mill and he got the bran back and used it in the chicken feed. And then the horses and cows. I don't remember if they got any or not. He used it in the chicken feed. And mother used to mix it with the flour and make brown bread. So they got the bran back. But I think the miller got half of the flour or maybe two thirds of it, I don't know. Well, anyway, no money changed hands.
Adolph: Incidentally, that man that made the flour and ran that mill was Peter Virlaff. And I still have some of the sacks that were used to put that stuff in later on in the years.
Jean: They are real pretty.
Adolph: I brought you some one time, didn't I?
Adolph: I will.
Ruth: When I remember it, Mills was running it, he was a miller at that time, and then after the mill lake dam broke, there was no more mill. They never rebuilt the lake itself. I think, there's some lake there now.
Adolph: No, they're making a pond out of it but they don't know what they're gonna use it for.
Rosalyn: How long would you say the mill operated?
Adolph: It was quite a while. Yeah, I remember when I first saw it come in. The mill was used as a flour mill for a long tine. And then they used the belting wheel from that lake to electrify the town. They furnished electricity for La Veta, and C. C. Webster was the man that ran that and then he finally sold what he had in it to the San Isabel Electric, and then it was gone. But they used the same belting wheel only they put generators on the belt instead of the flour mills.
Ruth: I remember the storm that washed the lake out. We had a cloud-burst up our valley between our place and the butte, and all night we could hear that water roaring down, and it took both of the fills out, the one below our house and the one down in the gap. And everybody got together with their teams and their big scoops and put in a new culvert and rebuilt the road. They all helped. Well, I guess we used the one in the gap, coming around the butte, but, it didn't make any difference, if somebody got washed out like that, why they all got together, and I remember I was with Dad when they were working on it down there. I can remember Karl Falk, coming by on horseback, and they found a little tiny rattler about 6 inches long, he was all curled up, and Karl was teasing him with the end of the bridle rein. I remember that well.
Adolph: I might say that those heavy rains, flood rains, washed a lot of arroyos and one thing and another in the country there, and right now most of those arroyos are grown over. They got grass in the bottom of them and willows and trees, and that shows how much drier the country is now than it was then.
Ruth: We used to have a lot of rain in that country. Not too many floods like that, but that one, the Cuchara and the tributaries of the Cuchara and then this one that went right down through that lake of the Goemmers and out on to the flat and clear down to town and I guess some of the flood was on the other side of the butte and went down that area. Anyway, it went into the mill lake and it broke the dam. And I can remember Grandma and Aunt Lou and Uncle Will staying up all night because they were close to the creek and they were on a bank, I remember there was quite a drop off down that way. They were gonna move the Moore's out, because they lived right down that creek, closer than the folks did, and that is the only flood I can remember La Veta actually having. So it was an unusual thing. Water roared all night long. And that went into Walsenburg too, and when the mill lake broke that did it there, and it looked like Walsenburg was going to get flooded out. I believe it did get up into Seventh Street.
Adolph: Seventh Street had quite a stream down it.
Jean: You told once about a flood that your father told you about, earlier, when the sidewalks were board sidewalks.
Adolph: Well, when they were kids, in La Veta, why I expect they were small children, 9, 10, and they floated around the streets on sections of the board sidewalks as rafts. (laughter) That must have been about the same time.
Ruth: La Veta was a very rough town, both during the time when they were putting the narrow gauge through and then the standard gauge train rails, and I can remember my father telling me that they found a man hanging to the cross bar on a pole, a telegraph pole or whatever that was, and he had been caught stealing from somebody or something. There were a lot of people come in there that were pretty rough, and they dealt with them
with what you call 'frontier justice'. No law, except sometimes the towns would appoint a marshall or sheriff or something to keep the peace. And how many saloons were there on Ryus Avenue?
Adolph: I think there were three.
Ruth: Oh, there were more than that.
Adolph: That's all that I remember, three.
Ruth: Well, th s in our time, but I can remember folks saying that every other building on Ryus Avenue was a saloon.
Adolph: And there was a hitching rack, a full block.
Ruth: On the south side of the park.
Adolph: Where the park is now.
Ruth: Yes, that was the town hitching rack.
Adolph: That was a hitching rack all the way through there.
Ruth: And we'd pull in there, straight in, and tie the horses up, and then we'd shop.
Adolph: Put the lip rope over the teams, go to the dances. But not me. That was some time before me, I heard them tell about it.
Ruth: I can remember how thrilled I was when the trains came boiling through there. Those big engines could shake the ground, and horses would rear up. (laughter) There was a meat market there on the corner across from the Kinkaid store.
Adolph: Main and Ryus, Campbells had it.
Ruth: I can remember buying meat in there. We had no way of keeping it, and so we only had meat, except for chicken, in the winter time, and in the summer my dad would pick up an occasional steak or something like that to offset our chicken. We'd get pretty tired of it, we always had fried chicken. But it was quite a town. By the time I knew anything about it, it had quieted down pretty much. Do you know when the first doctor came in there? Was that Doctor Wright?
Ruth: Roberts, was the first one, then Wright.
Adolph: That's right.
Ruth: I think it must have been pretty close to the 1900's, before they had a doctor.
Adolph: Must have been. Because Roberts was my baby doctor. Egglestons they had a livery stable, and he kept his horse and buggy there, and I was born right there in La Veta, and Doctor Roberts was my doctor. And he was for several years.
Ruth: He took care of Mother when my brother was born, too, so, 1899, Earl was a year older than George G. Nearly a year older, from September to May, but then came Doctor Wright and I remember him.
Adolph: And then the Doctor Lamme, Jim and Julian had a hospital there in a stone building right next to the library, and that was the place that I knew real well, because the stone barn that my grandfather had built for a warehouse and a potato cellar, was west of there about a block and a half, and I had put my horse in that stone barn after I rode to school and came down going east and they had a garage and they drove a little Busch automobile and an ENF. I remember they said, every morning fix-em, and that little Busch was hard to start, you know. It had a coil in it and you had to activate the coil with your finger so Dr. Julian he went off to the livery barn and he had to go back to the coal mines at west and north, Oakview, and Ojo, and Jim decided he'd use it anyway and so he saw me coming down the sidewalk and he motioned me over, and I was quite thrilled to get to activate that coil for him to start that thing. And he took me to school and that was my first time in one of those things.
Ruth: They had the first car in La Veta, didn't they?
Adolph: James Petrie had one right along with them, they lived over on Huajatollas where Proctor Hayes' grandfather, Amos Hayes' ranch is. There's where he lived. And he had one. I don't know what that was. But I do remember that Busch. It was a little bit of a kind of roadster thing that had a buggy top on it and they had side curtains and all that. Edward L. Smith had a delivery truck and I forget what that was, but it just looked
like a buggy with a motor in it and he delivered goods around town. McClain I think, was invested with him.
Ruth: People in town didn't have cars. Now McClain was Mrs. Smith's brother.
Adolph: They had a storehouse, an adobe storehouse, on the railroad. It's been gone quite awhile, but it was a nice place.
Ruth: Then they moved up on the corner. Then Mr. McClain tried out a store, of his own, but I don't think that he did too well. It was down in the next block, about where the theater was at one time. I do remember those things, and Mr. Scott, the pharmacist, owned a drugstore. He was as good as a doctor himself, he really knew medicine, and people, lots of times if they couldn't see the Lamme's, they could go in there and tell him what was hurting them, and he'd fix them up with some sort of medication. And sometimes I think, the pharmacists know more than the doctors right now. Then the Kincaid's store. I think, there were only two grocery stores there, Kincaid's was that one down at the lower corner.
Adolph: That was on Ryus, across, south from the Enco gasoline station. Charlie Masinton uses it for a storehouse. It had a scale along side of it. A wagon scale, and they... I remember when. That was later on, hut they shipped hay to the mines, mostly the C F & I mines, where they had mules.
Jean: Mule Power.
Adolph: And they put those bales in those cars and they used pole racks. I think, they could haul fifty bales, is all they could put on it, and they generally knew, they could guess within a few pounds, the weight of the load of bales themselves, because after they weighed several loads, why they knew about what the tension was on there. And that was baled with a horse-press. And they drove horses around and around on them.
Ruth: They didn't bale it out on the field, they baled it in the winter time out of the stack. And the baling crew stayed where it was, where they were working, and I remember when Dan had the big place. The men slept in the hayloft. And I don't know who was working with Uncle Gus, but I remember Dad getting to make biscuits for that crew. There was a shelf up above the flour chest (he made the flour chest), and he sat me, the lamp, the baking powder, and everything, on that shelf, and I watched him make the biscuits, he said that he always had to make extras when Gus was there. Because he would eat six of those big biscuits. And I could remember when they were hauling the hales, the Deviettes worked for him part of the time, hauling, and I can remember being dressed in a pinks, wide-wale corduroy coat with big silver buttons, and I had button shoes with red tops, and patent leather toes, and I rode on the baled hay down to the corner where they let me off to go to grandma's.
Adolph: She's getting into the time, about the time that Gus and Pete, my father, and my uncle, they bought a Case tractor, and an Invincible baler, and they baled hay with power.
Ruth: It was the first Power that came in there.
Adolph: It was the first machinery like that, that came in there. I was just about old enough, 9, 10, 11 years old, to poke the wires from one side to the other so the wire tier could get them and tie them. And there is one instance I remember, there was a couple of boys who hauled hay from that place, and they brought me back to lunch, a fruit, the tastiest fruit that I ever had. And their names were Phillips. And I don't know what-
ever became of those boys, but they sure did take care of me and I enjoyed that.
Ruth: I think, that's the family that moved to Walsenburg, that Frank Phillips was one of them.
Ruth: Married Enid Foote. Now I'm not sure about that, but I think, it is, because I believe that's where they ended up. Whatever happened to the Deviettes. I remember Frank, because he's the one they let me ride with.
Ruth: They lived down where the Taylor place is, didn't they? And then Tracy bought it.
Adolph: No, because the Ghiardi place is where Frank and Joe Deviette, and Michael lived there.
Ruth: Oh, that's right.
Adolph: Right above the Estes place. Frank and Joe, they worked for the boys, Dad and Gus, that is, they tied wires most of the time for them.
Ruth: But they had teams and racks.
Adolph: They had teams and whole racks and they hauled a lot of hay.
Ruth: They had pretty good sized racks at that. Regular board hay-racks, more or less like what they have now.
Adolph: That brings us up pretty well to the time that she and I remember very well. She went to school in Loveland, and I went to school in Boulder.
Ruth: And we used to ride that midnight train back to school after Christmas.
Adolph: Fifteen. Number fifteen. It went east,and sixteen went west. Fifteen came through La Veta right around twelve o'clock, and sixteen went the other way about one o'clock.
Ruth: And then I can remember the years of the water train. They didn't have a tank up on the hill the way they did in later years. And they hauled the water to La Veta for the engines before they went over the pass. And they were big. There were two tanks on each flatcar, and they were bigger at the bottom than they were at the top. I don't know how much they held, but they carried an awful lot of water, and then it was sided up there, not too far from the Crumley place I think. That's where the engines would get their water, before they built that tank up on the hill. And I can remember it coming through about four o'clock in the after-noon.
Adolph: That was the water train. It was a passenger train, too. It came from Walsenburg to La Veta and back.
Ruth: It went back about 8 o'clock the next morning. As a passenger train.
Adolph: I don't know, I know it made the trip.
Ruth: Anyway, I remember, sometimes they'd leak, and you'd see that water swishing out through the cracks because they were just like a barrel with staves. I can remember seeing that, and that was quite aways back there too. But when he was talking about our going to school. We didn't go to school at the same time in September, but we did have the same Christmas vacation. And we didn't get home for Thanksgiving, either. Folks
couldn't afford that.
Adolph: Didn't have a ticket.
Ruth: We had to wait til Christmas, and then when we went back after New Years, we usually went back on the same train. We had a man who came through and sold home~made tamales. Andrews. George Andrews.
Adolph: George Andrews, the tamale man.
Ruth: We'd always save some money and have it in our hands, so he'd come through the train with the hot tamales. We had a little money to buy a couple of hot tamales, and that was another Christmas treat. He'd get off at Walsenburg. Then we had to change trains in Denver, and we usually had a stopover there. I remember one time you, George took me to breakfast, while we were waiting to change over, and I think, I just had my tonsils out, the summer before, and we ordered pineapple, and do you remember, I got choked on that pineapple? My throat was still a little tender I guess,and Oh, I was embarrassed! You can't imagine how embarrassed I was, at 16.
Adolph: She was pretty whispery for awhile, I'll tell you.
Ruth: And then I think, he gave me a forbidden magazine. To take to school and tuck it under my mattress. I don't know where Elsie was. She was going to school, too, but I don't think she was going to school the same time we were.
Adolph: No, not the same time. She and Connie went to Boulder.
Ruth: Well, you did too, but well, she was a little younger.
Adolph: About a year, she went about a year after us.
Jean: She must have been a Catholic? Sister?
Ruth: I look back on those times. It is fantastic to remember, but I don't want to live it over again.
Rosalyn: How old were you both when you were going to school in Loveland and Boulder?
Adolph: Well, I graduated after, 1921. I was 17, 18 when I went. Course, she was younger, 16, and she went to private school.
Ruth: I started in Junior high, not Junior high, as it is now, but eighth grade on. And he was in college. The year I choked I must have been a senior in high school. You know, that was the year I graduated, I graduated when I was sixteen.
Adolph: I don't know where they sent you then.
Ruth: I went to Union college in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Jean: You graduated in '26 according to all the literature that comes to George.
Ruth: My school was not accredited. I couldn't go to a college or university here in Colorado, so my folks sent me to Lincoln, Nebraska, to a private college there. And my brother had gone to private school also. I don't know how the folks ever managed that.
Adolph: Earl went to school in La Veta, up until he was through the eighth grade.
Ruth: Yeah, he went to Campion Academy at Loveland, Colorado, in his high scool years, and then he went to college in Lincoln, too. I wasn't in La Veta very much, and I didn't go to school there at all. I went to school in Boulder, for three or four winters.
Adolph: They had a school in Boulder, a private school.
Ruth: And I went to a private school in L.A. for two years. And then I went to school in eighth grade, up to Loveland. And finished up there when I was sixteen. And I went to college one year. I was eighteen when I went to college because I missed a year and went to California. I thought I would go to Junior college out there, and I got the whooping cough, at that age, and it liked to kill me. Then the doctor told me I better come back where the climate was drier and it's true, when you get it in November, you'll whoop till March. Then I went on to Lincoln, and then I went to work in California, when the money ran out and I couldn't finish my college education in California.
Rosalyn: And where did you work back there?
Ruth: I worked for a dentist. I was a dental technician. I took my training out there and lived with my brother and sister-in-law. The folks came out every winter, and then I came home to go hunting with my dad, took my vacation in October, and ran into my husband and I never went back. That was it. He talked me into staying.
Adolph: Other than that we were just good kids together.
Rosalyn: What about games and plays, the kinds of things kids did for fun?
Ruth: I don't know, because I never had anybody to play with. There's 12 years difference between me and my brother. I imagine the Goemmer family had a lot of games. My father played a violin by ear. An a lot of the time he would play. Mrs. VanEtton up there had a violin she let him have. For a good many years the evenings were pretty much spent with him. We read a lot and we popped corn, and we always had apples. I can remember like that, but I was real small. Sometimes the apples froze out and you didn't get any apples. I always had pets. Never had very good luck with dogs, but I always had cats. I had beautiful cats. They'd get awfully spoiled. We had one big black and white tom cat that would set up and put his paws on my father's knees and he would feed him popcorn, but if he gave him one without butter, he would spit it out. It had to be buttered. (laughter) And we would roast potatoes and apples in the ashes of the fireplace and things like that. Noon was the big meal and at night we ate lots of cornbread, and we had plenty of milk and cream, and Mama made lots of jellies and jams, and we had honey. And beans, we ate lots of dried beans?
Rosalyn: Did you grow your own beans?
Ruth: Oh, yes. We had huge gardens. My mother would dry corn, and put it in a flour sack, and put it out on a nail someplace. She would make lots of chokecherry jelly. Dad put in some strawberries and we'd have strawberry jam and lots of honey and apple jelly, current jelly, goose-berry jam. We didn't have apples until quite a bit later on that place.
We used to go over on the Apache for wild plums and then we'd make plum butter, plum preserves, plum jelly, and if there's anything that beats hot biscuits with plum preserves with cream on them on a cold winter morning, I don't know what it is. We did have hot biscuits a lot of the time for breakfast. But mother made her own bread, she made her own bread up until she was about 85. And it was good.
Jean: She made some for us, too.
Ruth: We wouldn't eat bread from the store, if we could get out of it. Sometimes we'd run out and Dad would buy a loaf, and it would go to the chickens eventually. Quick as she got around to baking a batch of bread, that was gone. We had all of our own root vegetables, cabbage that went into krout when spring began to come around.
Rosalyn: You'd store all that in root cellars?
Ruth: Yes, we all had root cellars. And our root vegetables were buried in dry sand in a bin in the root cellar and it had cupboards in it also for canned fruit; We made pickles in a keg. In real cold weather we'd go skim the cream off the milk pan and put vanilla and sugar in it for ice cream. And we made our own ice cream. It was very very good too.
But anyone that lived on a ranch or farm bought very very little at the store.
Adolph: Recreation for kids at that time, there was always birthdays, and they had birthday parties and they'd play games.
Ruth: Spin the bottle. And country dances. Remember the red school-house? The garage now, on that first place, we used to go up there to the dances. My folks would let me go with Earl then. Aunt Myrtle and Lee, and away we'd go. Lee was my cousin and his, too. We had a lot of fun. The Falks would come down. They lived up on the Jasper Smith place at that time.
Ruth: I danced to “Little Red Wagon,” “Skip to My Lou”. I can remember that so well. And the Vernons would go. I think, the first time I ever danced, it was with Carl Vernon. But as we were growing up dancing on Saturday nights was pretty much every Saturday night.
Rosalyn: What kind of dances?
Ruth: Well, there was both kinds. The old time dances and the modern dances.
Adolph: Waltzes, two steps, fox trot, schottish.
Ruth: Square dance, polka, and regular modern dances, but we didn't disco.
Adolph: No, we didn't disco. But at that time we had some of the best callers for square dances, that ever were. Some of those guys were really good.
Ruth: They'd take turns so that they could all dance.
Adolph: I remember the one I liked to dance to better than anybody was Fred Vasquez. That old boy sure could call.
Ruth: They used to have them, when I was real small, at the school, and then later Cuchara Camps put in a dancehall, but that I think, was mostly modern dancing. But there were also modern dances in the ball over the Kinkaid Store and there were old time dances, and they called them in the Egleston Building, which is long gone. If we didn't like one, we went to the other. There was a choice on Saturday night, in town in the
winter time. And then the Foreign Legion used to put on Modern dances up at Sulphur Springs in their hall, in summer. It just seemed like, when the Fourth of July came anywhere near a weekend the whole week was shot for work because there would be about 4 dances supporting us all over. Maybe there would be one at the camps and there'd be one at Sulphur Springs and two in town. We didn't date much at the beginning. I was 16 before I could even date. We had so few cars, and the dances could be so far apart, that whoever had a car or talked his folks into letting him have a car took everybody he could get in it. As dates, no, it was just with a group of people usually.
When I went to the town dances, I usually stayed in on Saturday and stayed with Aunt Lou and Fanny, until the folks come back from town, then I would go to the dances with Chuck or Jim or Bill, not in dates, just a bunch of kids went to the dances. Tater was there. Arthur Prator was along in the age group, and I remember teaching Chuck and Jim and Bill to dance. But there wasn't a Falk ever born that couldn't dance. Nobody had to teach Tater. His mom and sister probably did that. I don't remember. And you didn't really dance with any one person a whole lot. And if you sat one out you felt mortified. The Cuchara Dance Hall, was in what became the Chuck Wagon, that burned here last week,
Rosalyn: And how did people choose their marriage partners? It sounds like there was quite a difference in dating customs from then and now.
Ruth: Well, some guy decided he wanted some gal enough that he wanted to marry her and he asked her to marry him and that was it. And she'd probably accept. Usually they would begin to, maybe, dance together a little more often or something like that.
Adolph: Home Waltz was probably a pretty good indication.
Ruth: That's right. If he danced with her in the home waltz, that was a good indication.
Rosalyn: And what was the home waltz?
Ruth: The last dance of the evening, or morning rather, usually around 3, 3:30 in the morning. And they started at 9; we'd go at it for 6 hours or so, every minute. We didn't have a picture show in the town for many years. And then we had the silent pictures. I think, Paul Ghiardi had it on Ryus Avenue. And I remember during World War II going to a movie on Main Street. If we wanted to go see a show we had to find someone lucky
enough to have a car to take us to Walsenburg. Very, very, seldom, it was a rare event. Something special, usually. I remember George G., took mother and I to a show in Walsenburg, “Simba, Lion Country”, it was an African picture, the story of the lions. I remember that. We wanted to go so bad, and he had a car. I couldn't date. I was too young to date. Mom wouldn't let me date till I graduated from High School. So he took mom too.
Adolph: Where there was a will, there was a way. Ruth drove, she drove their car. When dad and mom went with her, she drove the car, long before I had my car.
Ruth: That was something that Earl never forgave me for either, the fact that dad would let me have the car and he never would let him have it. I had to buy my own gas, though, but then a dollar would buy you five gallons, and those old car didn't take much gas. You could go all over the country for a dollar. I went with dad when Paul Ghiardi taught him to drive that Dodge touring car and I knew more about the car than he did by the time thc lessons were over, but I was so little, I was only 11. I was tall for my age as far as that was concerned but I was still too short to get to the break and the clutch. Dad would put me on his lap and get the car going and in gear, and going down the road. And I'd sit there hanging onto the steering wheel trying to reach the gas pedal. He'd slide out from under me then and let me drive. I drove a long time before the 14 license age came in. I was 13 and I couldn't drive for a year, in Walsenburg anyway, because I didn't have a license.
Adolph: There were beautiful highways at that time. They were sandy roads and rocky and generally one track.
Rosalyn: What were some of the chores that kids would do?
Ruth: Oh, I imagine, a little of everything. I never had to get up and milk in the morning. I milked at night, but I'm sure the boys had to milk, morning and night. And you fed the stock, and harnessed the horses in the summer to go to work, and fed the chickens, maybe let them out, and when I worked in the fields, I had to do the dinner dishes before I went back to work in the field, the afternoon. Dad raised the garden and he took care of the chickens but I helped with those things. I hoed weeds and picked strawberries. Gather the eggs and feed the chickens and shut them up at night. Take care of the baby chicks. We ordered 250, and sometimes 500, put them by the brooder machine and you had to check on that when they were real small. Somebody had to get up every hour and check on the brooder to make sure it hadn't gone out or run out of kerosene because they'd crowd in and smother. So we'd take turns every two hours and check the brooder to make sure they were all right. And I had to learn to cook because that was one of the things the Bruce people all did, was cook and you had to learn at an early age. I made my first white bread at 11 and I pieced my first quilt at 10. For many many years I made all my own clothes. We did have to learn to cook and keep house and put out a white laundry. There was, of course, a certain amount of rivalry between the wives, particularly in town. The first woman to get her white was on the line on Monday morning, that was something. I can remember Aunt Lou she'd have hers on the line by 5 o'clock.
Adolph: There were always chores for the boys. The one I hated worst was cleaning the chicken coop. We had to do that and when I was too young yet to go to the field, why I had to help my mother, and of course, I had the chicken coop to clean and then would come the peeling the potatoes to cook. When my brother was born, he was 10 years younger than I, I put in that summer as a girl, nearly, I helped mother do all the cooking, I had the dishes to wash. I can't say that I enjoyed it too much but I did it anyway.
Ruth: I can't remember any line drawn. The men had to work around the house as well as the girls, and the girls would work outside just like the boys. That was the way it had to he to get the job done, because Mama and Dad couldn't do it alone, and it was just a mixture of things. Anything that you were strong enough to do you were expected to do it.
Rosalyn: How about the role of women, differences between the role of women then and now?
Ruth: They were strict1y, to stay at home, raise a family, do the cooking and cleaning. They didn't work out. The first women never worked for anyone else.
Jean: You worked in the fields.
Ruth: Oh, yes I did. I don't know about working in the fields. They might have, but I think, they stayed in the house most of the time, did the cooking. They had big families, plenty of boys to go out to the fields, and there were big meals that had to be got three times a day. I don't think women today could do the work that they did then. I don't believe they're husky enough.
Jean: T hey'd have to grow up with it wouldn't they?
Ruth: They did grow up with the knowledge of it in the first place and in the second place they had to grow up strong enough to do it and we don't eat like that now, because we don't need it, we don't work that hard. I think, that that's the one thing, if we had stronger women that could bear 10 or 12 children and still maintain a home. And that's a bigger job than going out and working. It's forever with you.
Rosalyn: How about the meals that you used to prepare? Could you give me an example of the breakfast, lunch and dinner that women would prepare for a big family of working people.
Ruth: Well, there'd be biscuits, hot cakes, and I think some women even made hot rolls for breakfast. Ham, bacon, or sausage and eggs, lots of coffee. Plenty of milk. Fruit juice was not one of the things we had. We were lucky to get an orange. At dinnertime it was usually a big pot of meat and potatoes or a big roast with potatoes and carrots. In the summer-time there would be vegetables, fresh vegetables. In the wintertime it would be root vegetables from the cellar, dried corn, and dried beans. Don't think there was too much pie and cake in the earlier days. They didn't have stuff to make it, for one thing. That was something that was more modern. I remember my grandmother made pies when we were small of course, my aunts all learned to make pies. My dad never made anything like that, but my brother made cakes, every so often. But he'd make it in a big loaf type pan. And nine times out of ten it didn't have any icing. It just had a little sugar sprinkled on the top of it, when it was still hot. With fruit it was good. Mom used to can quite a bit of fruit. That was it for our dessert. And supper was usually a fairly light meal. Maybe there would be a bunch of potatoes left over from dinner and they might fry those. Used leftovers. At home my dad didn't want that kind of a meal. He said, you could settle for bread and milk.
Ruth: Honey, fresh bread and honey, plenty of milk and cream for the fruit. We dried apples a lot. And something a lot of people don't even know. When we first started making pies, we made dried apple pie, in the wintertime. I remember that well, but then as time went on why they began to make more desserts. It was a shame in a way. We didn't really need them. But that was about the way it was. We washed every week. Winter or summer, didn't make any difference, the washing went on the line on every Monday. Freeze or not freeze. I've seen my mother hang clothes on the line and they'd freeze the minute they hit that line, but they had to go out on Monday. I kind of grew up that way, but I've gotten over that. If I don't get it done on Monday I'll do it on Tuesday or Wednesday. This week I didn't get the sheets from down-stairs washed until Thursday morning. I just don't let it bother me that much. But there was kind of a rivalry.
Rosalyn: Well, how about the depression? Where were you during the depression?
Ruth: I got married right in the middle of the depression. My husband didn't even have a job at the time. And I told him I wouldn't marry him until he got a job. He went up to Westcliffe and got a one room country school for $75 a month and we saved money. You could buy round steak for $.20 a pound. And we got by. We'd buy 10 pounds of potatoes. We had meat and potatoes. We didn't have too many vegetables that year. We had canned tomatoes, that was one thing we had. And Jean you were into the depression
when you got married, too.
Ruth: But didn't many of us have children until the depression was well over.
Adolph: It was pretty well along when my wife and I got married. It wasn't too bad.
Jean: We got married before they did.
Ruth: But you were in better shape than Bill and I were. We went off to Raton. My folks wanted to give me a wedding hut I knew they'd have to borrow the money to do it and I wouldn't let them. I had money enough to buy my clothes. Then we just actually started from the bottom, from scratch.
Jean: They had some rough years, I know that.
Ruth: Yes, we did, we had some real bad years. It was a blessing that we were fortunate enough not to have any children until we were able to take care of them, because if we'd of had a child in the first two years, it would have gone kind of hard on the little guy. There just wasn't that much there. We got by. We grew up with it and that was when money ran out and I had to quit college. I can remember when my dad didn't have a dollar in his pocket. We never suffered. We always had plenty to eat and we had enough warm clothes. They might not be new and they might be hand me downs, but they covered us. And then when I went to work I only made $60 a month.
Jean: Some of the contracts that my dad had when he was a teacher, he made $25 a month.
Ruth: But they boarded him. They gave him room and board, so that helped. That was practically free, then, that $25.00, he could use it for most anything he wanted to and I imagine he bought books and papers, knowing him. My folks didn't have much education, but they read. They took magazines, papers, bought books, we had a pretty good supply of books. We had the Harvard Classics. So we all had something to read and because I read everything that was loose I had to borrow to find something to read.
Rosalyn: Did it seem people did read more then, before television?
Jean: Well, I know we all did. I know her family and mine.
Ruth: When I was working out in California, I went out quite a bit. Of course, there were places to go out there. When I was at home and a younger girl, there wasn't anything. I had an organ and I did play and that was a lot of pleasure. And I think I was only about 14 or 15 when I started playing for the church. And that organ, incidentally, belonged to George's grandmother, Mrs. Kitchen, that's mentioned in here. Dad bought
it for $25.00. Solid oak, a beautiful piece of furniture. Still is I imagine, if it's been taken care of.
Jean: Where is it?
Adolph: John had it and I think he traded it in on a player piano.
Jean: Did he leave it over at Lowell's.
Adolph: He may have left it over at Lowell's, but I don't think it's there now.
Ruth: He should have hung onto that. It was a real antique, and a beautiful little organ.
Adolph: I don't know what was done with it.
Ruth: You're going to have to edit this.
Rosalyn: I will.
Ruth: It's a big mixture of a little bit of everything. Is that about it now?
Rosalyn: I think that you've pretty well covered it. Another question I had was about World War II, what effect World War II had on people in the area. Did a lot of people leave during the war and did they come back?
Ruth: I don't think too many left that didn't go in the service. It was a matter of pride if you could pass the physical, of course, to go into the service, and Bill was already a second lieutenant because he more or less made that a side career, so when he came out in 1945 he was a Lt. Col. because he didn't stay in the army, he kept his rank, so that's what he's retired at now. But most of the boys I think, did go into the service if they could pass the physical. The ones that didn't, I think, they worked on ranches. I don't think anybody in La Veta ever went into defense work. I think, they worked on ranches. I can't think of anyone leaving for good. But there were a lot of lonely wives around, I'll promise you that. And we had both of our boys, during World War II. Bill was born in 1942 and Jack in 1945. It was kind of rough on everybody, and they pitched in and there were tin can drives and aluminum drives and alot of people gave up their good aluminum cookware. And gasoline, I think was our biggest problem. We were rationed as far as gasoline. Good thing the war ended when it did. I was almost out of gas. Two little kids like that, I was using more than my allotment, really, and I had just about ran out of stamps. But I think that was our biggest problem, and then the rationing of sugar, and I never have used sugar in my tea or coffee since. Meats and oil and shoes were all rationed, and butter.
Adolph: Hoover took care of that pretty well. He was a smart man and he fixed it so everyone..,,
Jean: Had a little.
Adolph: They had stamps for gasoline. And they rationed sugar. It wasn't too bad.
Ruth: Canned meat, if I'm not mistaken, was not rationed. You could buy salmon and tuna and some of the chopped meats. It was the fresh meat that was rationed.
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