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Scanned by Dick Chenault
Edited by Lydia Corona
Date of Interview - 11-28-1979
Date of birth - 12-15-1895
Parents - Antonio Atencio and Elisa Valdez
Maternal grandparents - Manuel and Soledad Valdez
Paternal grandparents - Miguel Antonio Atencio and Rumalda Atencio
Ethnic group - Hispanic
Family origin - New Mexico to Conejos, Co. to La Plaza de los Leones
Date of family arrival in County - 1859
This is Rosalyn McCain, and I'm talking with Anna Lucero in her sister,
Frances Nelson's, home in Walsenburg.
RM: Well, why don't we start talking about those days of the strikes since you were an eye—witness to a lot of the things that happened.
AL: I don't remember very well, because it was a very, very experience for me and a scary experience too, you know.
RM: It certainly sounds like it.
AL: Here on 7th Street we had our house, and my mother and father were at the ranch, and I was here with the children in school.
RM: And how old were you at the time?
AL: Well, I must have been about 15, 16 years. About 16, I guess. And I sent the children to school you know, and I had a neighbor Mrs. Wahlmeir was I think her name. She was a very, very nice neighbor. Her husband used to work at the camp, you know, and he was staying up there at the boarding house in the camp, and she was here. But finally he took her over there because he was afraid, you know. So they came after her furniture and it happened that day. It was cleaning house for me, because I was expecting my family from the ranch. I took everything out in the yard. We had only two rooms. The other two rooms we had rented, you know. We had a big house. The front rooms were rented, but the people weren't there. So I took everything out, pillows and shoes and blankets and everything out in the yard, you know out in the front yard so I could clean house. So pretty soon I saw two wagons, company wagons starting loading furniture, in the house next door. And then when all of a sudden people started to gather, around there. It was mostly ladies that I noticed, you know. I didn't pay any attention. I kept on cleaning, you know. Next thing I knew they were throwing rocks, and they threw everything from my yard from shoes to every pillow and everything.
RM: Every thing that you had to out to clean.
AL: They came into our yard and started throwing them at the furniture. The furniture was already on the wagons, and I know they broke a great big mirror, you know. So it was a commotion they was just throwing rocks and calling names, and pretty soon there were men and everything there. The street was just full.
RM: Full of people.
AL: Well, they loaded the wagons. The guards were there, and the people that were loading the wagons. They loaded the wagons and started out through the back yard, and they had to go through our alley, you know, and then around where that filling station is to get to the street. Well, I was looking out of the window, a little window we had in the kitchen, looking at the wagons where they were going across there, you know, across that. And I saw one man right by our window on the end of the house, right by the house, you know, kind of holding to the wall. And I don't know. I can't say for sure I wouldn't swear to that, if it was a gun or if it was a rifle, I don't know. And I saw him shoot, you know, at where they were, and I saw one of the men from the horses fall. So I got scared and I got very, very scared so I ran and hid under the table. I hid under the table, and they were shooting all over. They were shooting all over, but I don't know. I didn't see that.
RM: You just saw the very first of it. And so it was one of the miners that you saw that was actually, probably firing the first shot then?
AL: Yes. So then pretty soon this man came in my house and started getting the blankets from the bed and from the couch. We had a couch there. Getting the blankets to wrap up, and they brought one of the men in and lay him on the couch and wrapped him in blankets. And I say, “You're not going to take those blankets.” You know, I was mad. “We'll bring them back. We'll bring them back”, you know. But I was scared to death, and I started worrying about my brothers, that they were in school. But at that time they came home from school, and they got scared, you know. So we had an adobe oven where my mother used to bake bread out in the back yard. So two of the boys hid inside of the oven. The bullets wouldn't go through there, not unless they got in that hole in the door. And the youngest of my brothers hid in the shed between the bales of hay. We hid in there. But I was worried. I didn't know where I was, you know. So pretty soon all the police and everything was there, and they started scattering out, you know, start scattering out. And over here, I think close to here, they went out, you know. There was another one. They had shot him in the mouth. He had a pipe in his mouth, and they shot him in the mouth. And right across the street my uncle lived there. He was the under-sheriff, and one of them went in the house and hid under the bed. But they weren't home. They went to my aunt's house next door. So it was really something I never experienced before, you know. And I was really scared, you know. And people were all over and calling “Scabs” and “Scabs” and everything they could get a hold of they threw, you know. And they took everything I had outdoors. They even took the blankets. We never got them back. They took blankets and everything. So my uncle heard about it, and he went to the farm and told my dad and mother so they came over right away. They got there in the night time. They came right away because they thought something had happened to us. So they came right away. So I don't know. That was, I think that was what I saw, you know. I can just say what I saw. All the people and these men that you know.
RM: So had the feeling been building up for quite a while before that on both sides? By the time this actually happened, people were really mad at each other?
AL: Yes, they were really mad. You know for the first that I noticed. You know, you go out of the door, you know, inside and in and out. They were all women hollering at the guards and hollering at the men that were loading the wagons, “Scabs” and “Scabs” and all kind of names. And pretty soon the men started coming in. But I tell you the truth that I don't think that there were very many Spanish people among them that did anything like that. There were more Slavs, and Italians and…
RM: The immigrants that had come in more recently.
AL: Of course. Spanish people started coming afterwards you know. Of course they just got a little word and started coming to see what it was all about, you know. And I had my friend who was my husband afterwards he heard about it in town so he came right away to see what happened. He told me that they wouldn't let him in the house. They said he couldn't go in. He said. “I'm going in, that's my girlfriend.” And he did go to see what's wrong, and I was under the table. I was hiding under the table.
RM: I think I would be hiding under the table too.
AL: And then at the same time I was worried about my brothers you know. It was time for them to come home from school, and I was worried about them. So after they went to across the alley into the Richards place they used to call it. Colored people used to live there. That's where the filling station is now, that's closed. When the wagons went around that corner there, there's where the shooting started, when the wagons went around that corner. And the lady that her husband was killed, she lived right across the street here. It was a plain house there; Mitchell's Joseph's house is right across there in the back. And there's where she lived. Her and her husband. She only had her husband. He was the one that was shot.
RM: So, he was the one that was shot off of his horse.
AL: Yes, out of the horse.
RM: Was he a mine guard?
AL: They were guards. They had mine guards. They had quite a few of them guarding the wagons, you know. After they came for us. A cousin of mine Victoria, well, she was everything too, because we were always together, and they took us down to get our statement, you know. And at the same time I got that laryngitis whatever you call it. I guess. I got so scared and caught a cold or something. So I couldn't testify.
RM: They couldn't question you cause you couldn't talk.
AL: They just really laugh when I told them before I was that way. When it came time to go to court, I couldn't talk, I couldn't say anything, you know. We had quite a few experiences. And then another time they got my father and my brothers and my oldest brother and my cousin, he was raised in the house just like my brother. And my uncle's family, they were all working in a ditch. They used to call it the Fruth and Autry Ditch, way in the mountains, way down the Cucharas. And you know every spring they used to clean it. So this cousin of ours he hired my uncle to get enough men to go to work on the ditch with their horses and little teams. They were all working, on the ditch, you know, cleaning it up and everything. Right across that hill where the lake is they started shooting at the camp, you know, shooting at the camp. And my dad and my brothers used to say that the bullets hit the dirt right where they were. So all they done was turn the team loose and they start crawling, and they crawled and crawled until they got out of the camp, you know. They got out of the camp and went up to the farm to this friend of ours. That's how they got away. Nobody was hurt or anything. So my uncle came, and he told them. He was one of the main, well; they called him a Scab, or whatever they did. But he was one of the main men at the camp. So he said, “Stop shooting, stop shooting. My family is there. My family's working there.” So they stopped shooting, you know. And then start telling that, that very day they had a mix-up over something in the camp and they started calling for people to get away, the people on 7th Street to go.
RM: To leave.
AL: Yes, to leave. So we all left. I remember and we went here in the back all down the alley, back to Main Street, where my aunt used to live. And by the time we got there, the house was full of people from all over. She had an empty house in the back and we all crowded in there. And how they used to cook at her house. And we would all sleep in the floor whenever we could. And my mother was so worried. She didn't know anything about my dad or my brothers. You know she hadn't heard that they were working over there.
RM: They were working in the mines?
AL: We hadn't heard anything. It happened at this place where they stopped, they had a phone. So right away they start calling, and they called my aunt's place. They had a phone. Not to worry, my dad and all the family was all right, you know. But we didn't come home for about a week, I think. We left the doors open. We left everything. We just ran down. And my mother was pregnant with my youngest brother. And poor thing, she could hardly make it. And people running you know, getting away from here, getting away from. I don't know if Fran Nelson had left the house or not. I don't know where she went to, but she went some other place, I guess, but she didn't go where we were. I tell you, it was never in my life have I ever had an experience so awful.
RM: That's right. Thank goodness. Isn't that something? So how long did all of that go on, when you were able to come back to your house, after about a week?
AL: About a week we stayed down at my Aunt's. But at that time during the night time my dad and my brothers came, at night time. They didn't come in the daytime. So they came in the night, and my dad went to the house to see that everything was all right, you know. And so we stayed down there for more than a week, because my mother wasn't feeling well. And we didn't want her to come home and have to get out right away. So quite a bit of shooting was done, you know. They killed a good friend, a good friend of mine. The Lenzini boy.
RM: Is that right?
AL: At the store he went outside just to look where they were shooting. They shot him right there in the stomach.
RM: And where was that? Was that right here?
AL: Yes, that was one of the Lenzini boys.
RM: And where was his store?
AL: Right on 7th Street.
RM: On 7th Street, right in here?
AL: The store was right there. And the other shooting was down here where they call it Hogback. And at that time they were shooting all over. The Union men or Scabs as they called the men, from here and all the Union men got on the other side of that Hogback, you know. So they were shooting back and forth, and later on they brought the militia, you know.
RM: And how much later was that, would you say?
AL: When they brought the militia?
AL: It could have been quite a bit later. Yes, they were here for a while. Then after they brought the militia, then they went, and they brought another.
RM: Was that the cavalry that came in?
AL: Yes. Just because, you know, they were sending letters, and they were afraid they'll burn the courthouse and burn this. You know, people wouldn't go outside. You couldn't go in the street at all. You couldn't go in the street at all because they were all afraid, you know. You had to stay in the house.
RM: So was it better, was it a calmer time when the militia was here? When the militia came, did it help things? Was that better, or was there still trouble?
AL: Yes, it got better. When they came it got better. Yes. They had their own camp right over here on 6th Street.
RM: On 6th?
AL: You know all that space they have there, the railroad space, there's where they had their camp.
RM: And did they get along with the miners pretty well?
AL: Well, in fact they weren't protecting the mines. They were protecting the people, over here on the streets, you know.
RM: The town people really.
AL: The residents, the houses, they were protecting them. And didn't interfere with the...
RM: With the mines or the miners.
AL: I remember a lot of things, but then that's one of the worst things, you know, that I experienced. A lot of things happened afterwards. Then they called the Union people, the ones that came out of the camps, at that time. They didn't have any homes so they built a colony down below Walsenburg. They had a vacant place, and they called it the Union City.
RM: Union City.
AL: And they built tents, you know. They had tents, and they had all the families move.
RM: So when they had to leave the mines, that is where they went?
AL: Yes. They moved down there.
RM: Now was that in the wintertime?
AL: Part of it was in the winter, and part was in the summer. When this happened, when this thing happened, it was in the autumn. It was during the autumn months. If it would have been in the winter, I wouldn't have taken anything outdoors. So it was in the autumn. It was quite an experience. And I think there was one that was shot right over here in front of Aunt Nelson's house, right in front of the house. I think Frances (Nelson) knows about that because she saw that when she was coming from school, too, you know. She got scared, you know. There were quite a few of the Union men shot you know. They were shot, killed. Because they all fired, you know. They fired back and forth, back and forth. They were firing. But this man, I saw him plain. I saw his face. I saw him plain, you know. Because it was a small window, and it was opened, just a screen on the outside. And I remember I got in that little window and looked right out, you know, and boom. And then I got scared. And I saw that he got right by the window there and just shot at this guard.
RM: That's right. Was it somebody that you knew? Did you know who the man was?
AL: No, I never knew the man who he was. I got so scared. I know he was either a Slav or an Italian. I don't know what he was, but I think he was a Slav. But I couldn't say who it was or what his name was because I never had seen him before. You know I hadn't seen him before. There was so many of them, so many. They gathered all around. I don't know how they gathered so quick. That's what I couldn't understand.
RM: Where they all came from so fast.
AL: Yes, so quick. So all the guards did was just got the furniture they had already loaded, they just drove out, you know. They didn't care about anything else. There was a lot of the furniture left in the house, but they paid no attention. They just drove out. But the shooting didn't start until this guy started shooting. Then when it started...
RM: It must of been very confusing times, wasn't it?
AL: Oh, yes, and during that time, you know, in 1914, cause I was married in 1915, you know. So I was about 17 years old about that time 16, or 17. I was married when I was not quite 18. Then they started fighting at Ludlow. Then my uncle, they sent him over there as a guard.
RM: What was your uncle's name?
AL: Timmy Valdez. And they sent him, you know. And they passed here on 7th Street, all of them. It was just like an army. My mother was out in the porch crying herself, just crying that she seen my uncle so young, you know, going out there. How long they stayed over there I don't remember. That's when all that fighting in Ludlow.
RM: And that was even worse, wasn't it?
AL: It was a very, very serious thing.
RM: Did you know any of the miners at Ludlow? Did you know people that were at that camp?
AL: No, I didn't know anybody at Ludlow. No, I didn't. And, you know, my dad, he didn't want to quit working. He kept on working, kept on working, and my mother kept on telling him to quit working, to quit working. No, he thought it was just fun, you know. It wasn't anything serious, until he got a letter, and this letter was a black hand letter telling my dad that if he didn't quit working, his house and his family were in danger. And then my mother said, “You're not going to work anymore.” So, then is when he quit working. And they went to the farm because my dad, in the winter time he came to town, and the summertime we all went to the ranch. We had a farm, and we went there. But my dad used to work, get kind of a lay-off or something, for vacation for so many months to work on the farm, and then he would come back to the mine. During that time, oh, I think that strike lasted a long time. Because even after we were married, we were married in 1915, and it was still going on.
RM: Is that right?
AL: It was still going on. I don't know if Frances remembers about the men that was here that was shot over here by his house or something.
FN: I didn't know them, Annie.
AL: No, you didn't know them, but you saw him.
FN: Oh, yes.
AL: There was so much havoc that it lasted for so long that I can't remember. But I was telling her the things that happened, that I witnessed, that I saw. Maybe I forgot something. I don't know.
FN: Tell her something about your early life in the coal camps, when you were a little girl.
FN: About your early life in the coal camps, you know. Dad worked in the coal mines, you know.
FN: When you were a little girl, where did you live?
AL: Well, Dad worked in the coal mines all his life, I guess. Because when my oldest brother was born, they lived in Pictou and Dad worked in the mines, and I was born in Pictou. Dad was working in the mine. And Albert was born in Pictou, and Dad was working in the mine. And then after they stopped working in Pictou, then at that time they used to work with their wagons and horses. They used to load the coal into the wagons and from the wagons they loaded them into the box cars or whatever they call them. And my Dad used to hire men to do that work. He had it like a contract. And after when they quit Pictou, came to Walsen. I think he worked there until 1916, 1917 when he stopped.
RM: So, where did you go to school? Where did you start school?
AL: The first school I went to was in Rouse. My Dad worked a winter over there in the mines. And that was the first school I ever went to, and then afterwards to Walsen Camp School. But I did go to Walsenburg School. Way up, going up the hill I went to that school. I was still little, about 6, 7, 8, when I went to school there.
RM: And what was the difference between the school at the camp and the school in town? What were the things that were different?
AL: Well, there wasn't much difference, but we lived in the camp just while we were building our home. You see, they built our home there on 7th Street in 1905. And we started school. They changed mines. I don't know why they worked in so many mines. You know it was the same company but they changed them from mine to mine. So I remember he worked in Rouse for a winter. There's where I started the first year I started school. I was 6 years old then, and I started there. And then after I went to a school going up the hill where the bowling alley is now. There was a building right next to it. There I went to school there. And after I went to Washington School, I never did go to any other school.
RM: Were there a lot of children in the mining camps?
AL: Oh, yes, they had a big school. They had a brick school right on the hill. On Walsen Camp right on the hill, going up the hill, they had a big brick building school. First they had a frame school there, and then they changed it and built that brick school. But there were a lot of children that went to that school.
RM: What were some of the things you remember when you were living in the coal camps with your family?
AL: Well, we lived there in the coal camps after we came from Pictou. That's the mining camp in Walsen, and I remember my dad and my mother rented a little house there, a little adobe house with a couple of rooms, I guess. That's where she (Frances Nelson) was born, you know. Part of the time he worked in the mine I told you, and part of the time he was on the farm, you know. So they lived, used to call that little place, “Hermanes”. Well, Spanish people lived there. My grandmother lived there, and they called those little towns, “Hermanes”. And there was where she was born. And after when she was little we moved down to 7th Street right over there where that little mobile home is now. That was my grandmother's house.
RM: Is that right?
AL: Yes they tore it down afterwards. But there was a building in the back, you know, one of these flat top buildings that my grandmother used to live before they built that house. So we lived there until Dad started to build our house. It was just about a year.
RM: And so where was your family's farm? Where was the land that they had, the ranch?
AL: Our farm is about 8 miles from Walsenburg, and it's between the North La Veta, and Bear Creek, this side of the hill. And the name of the farm, they used to call it Ojito cause there was a little stream. We used to get our water from that stream. Dad never built a well because my Dad built a box, you know, and my mother kept her butter and her milk in buckets inside of that. We would get our water just as cold as ice. And then below the little thing they had a tank, and that was… They called it tank that we used to get the water to do our washing in, you know, and we'd carry our water from there clear up. Do you mind, Frances, if I get that picture of the ranch?
FN: No, I'll get it. Well, she's not going to take any pictures.
AL: No, I just wanted to show her what our farm looked like.
FN: Well, I'll get it.
AL: It's in the kitchen. You know where it's at. And they built a house. Dad did build a nice house. There were two big rooms but I think the two big rooms were bigger than this whole thing, and then a hall in the middle not quite as wide, but almost as wide, and they had a long table for a large family and a door facing north and a door facing south. It had to have two doors, you know. So we lived there until Dad couldn't work the farm anymore, you know. He retired, and then he worked up here, started farming up here at my cousin's right up there at Mutual. He worked there just quite a little bit, and he had the stroke. He was paralyzed for 3 years and a half before he passed away.
RM: Is that right?
RM: What were some of the chores that you did on the ranch when you were a child? What were the jobs that you had to do?
AL: My job was in the kitchen. Dad never let me go out and work in the… See, this is the house. My brother drew this place. He drew this house. And it's exactly as it is. You see this is a little house, this is a hall right here and this is an extra kitchen. My mother used to use it in the farm in the summer, and in the winter Dad would put all his farm products in that little shed there. And over here there was a little tree there, and he used to sit down and rest there. And then this is a road here, this one here. That would come, and this was the arroyo right here. The stream was here. And mother had an oven. She used to bake her bread here. And this little road right here was, he didn't put that in, then the outside toilets here. And there was a little tree right here, and this part there was a little lake here between here. And this place here he used to plant, and then the rest of the place he used to plant was right here. All this here was planting. He used to plant, and this corral here is where we used to have the horses and chickens and chicken house. But that's the way our house looked on the farm.
RM: It's a nice picture, isn't it? Isn't that a wonderful thing to have?
AL: Just built it. He drew it exactly like it was.
RM: Just like it was. Isn't that lovely? Did you have fruit trees there?
AL: No. We never had. Everything was dry land. But he used to raise everything. This part here, he had a place right here. It came down here, he used to plant watermelons, cantaloupes, and my mother used to raise peppers, chili, everything. And dry land. He never watered. Everything was raised in dry land. But I tell you the watermelons and the cantaloupes that he raised on that farm were much sweeter and bigger than the ones they raise in Rocky Ford.
RM: Sometimes I think they give them too much water, and they lose their flavor.
AL: And my brother and I, my youngest brother, mother used to load the, we had a little buggy, and it had a big space in the back, you know. It was a two seat. But she took the two seats out. And mother used to load it there with fresh corn, and squash and chili and everything they used to raise on the farm. And mother made her butter, her cheese, and my brother and I used to come to the camps to sell them.
RM: So you'd take your produce all around to the camps?
AL: And with that money that we used to sell and collect, we used to take our groceries. We used to buy groceries, and we never got into dept to buy groceries by credit or anything.
RM: And what were the things that you had to buy? What were the things you didn't raise?
AL: The only thing Dad didn't have to buy was the flour because there was a mill. He used to bring his corn to make the flour. He used to make the flour, and then Dad planted pinks corn and mother toasted it, and they would grind that. That was corn meal, pinks corn meal. And then he used to raise beans, and he used to raise peas. He used to raise lentils and most everything. Oh, I think the only thing mother had to buy was the sugar and coffee because Dad raised everything on the farm. He wanted lard, he would kill a hog, and mother would cook her own lard. We always had meat, you know. You always killed in the spring; we used to kill a calf. In the wintertime before Christmas he used to kill a hog. We always had plenty of meat in the house. And that's about the only thing that I remember they used to buy. She used to buy great big buckets made out of, just like these flour buckets they have now, and with cookies, all kinds of cookies, and he used to buy those for us, so we could have cookies. And then the great big buckets like that with syrup, he used to buy it by big quantities. He never did buy anything small. Even my mother would go down to Cucharas. There was a store there, and I guess it was a very cheap store. I don't know, but they used to go from the ranch clear down to Cucharas and bring a wagon loaded with groceries, you know, whatever they needed. Because mother made her own soap. She made her own soap and everything. So there was little that they used to buy.
RM: And women used to work really hard in those days, didn't they?
AL: Yes. There was not much money. I remember when Dad was working with a team; all he used to make a day was $3 and a half at that time. Hard times you know. There was no money, but there was plenty of everything.
RM: Would your mother make clothes for the family?
AL: Mother made all our clothes for us. She never bought. Oh, she bought overalls for the kids. They were all boys, and that's all she did. I was the cook. I didn't know how to milk a cow. I didn't know how. Sometimes I'd say, “Please Dad, let me go out in the fields and help you, after you get through.” My job was cooking and washing and ironing. That was my job. I never worked out in the field at all.
RM: And did you use the irons you heated on the stoves?
RM: What kind of irons did you use?
AL: Oh, the ones you heat, and I still have a couple of them that heated on top of the stove. And the kitchen was so large. It was larger than this room, and the day I had to scrub, we had no linoleum in the kitchen. I don't know if there was not any linoleum or they didn't buy it or what it was. I don't remember, but the boards were about 12 inches wide, each board, and it took me half a day to scrub just half of that floor, half a day. And then the other half I'd scrub the rest of it. But that floor was just as white that you could eat on it. And Dad made like a brush, I don't know. He used to get a piece of screen and fold it up enough just to fit your hand and with that you used to scrub the floor.
RM: Scrub with that?
AL: And that floor was just as white, you know.
FN: Tell her about the ceiling in the bedroom, the ceiling in the bedroom.
AL: The ceiling?
FN: What was it made out of?
AL: Well the ceiling. On the top. You mean the outside ceiling?
FN: No, inside the house.
AL: Oh, well, they were the vigas, logs. Mother made the ceiling out of cloth, out of little hand linen cheese cloth. Some kind of a muslin, unbleached muslin I think it was, something like that. And she sewed it all mesh to the room and set it all together. And you started from one corner and nailed it and stretched it, and that was our ceiling. We never did make it any other way. We had one in the kitchen and one in the bedroom and one in the hall.
RM: And when the ceiling got dirty, what did you do?
AL: Took it out and washed it and put it back up again. You see in the winter time we'd come to town, you know. We used to close the house, and then in the summer when we went we started cleaning house, had to take all that thing down again and wash it and put it up again. And on the little kitchen there were big logs, you know. The ceiling was made out of logs, little bitty logs, like this big, long, and they were right close together. And my Grandmother used to take the mud with straw, and she'd plaster that. Just like you would, like they plaster now with cement, that's the way she used to plaster that thing with mud and it would stick. And then they used to go down to Cucharas someplace and get some kind of a, we used to call it “Yeso” in Spanish, but it was like calcimine. They burned it in the stove, and then they soak it and then they stir it up and stir it up until it melted, and then with a little brush or a little piece of cloth, you know, she used to go all around it. And after it got dry, it was just as white as the snow. And that's the way our ceiling was in the kitchen.
RM: Those women really worked hard, didn't they?
AL: The women worked. I never have seen my mother do that, but my grandmother did. But I still remember the last year I was in the farm. I was already married. I fixed the cloth ceiling that we made. I don't know why they didn't put something on that ceiling, when we bought all that lumber for the house.
FN: They probably didn't have ceiling material.
AL: Not ceiling but some kind of boards. You know the only thing I noticed from then to today that the flooring. It was 12 inches wide but they were about this thick. It wasn't thin. It was thick, and in between it wouldn't lay close together. Dad would make little strips with a knife, with a pocket knife, make little strips and put in between, you know, so that it would be no holes in between. He would make little strips of wood and put in between. I remember my old times. The only thing it was, it was so far away from neighbors. We didn't have no close neighbors. My uncles, they all had farms around us, but it was quite a ways, and we were always looking at the road to see who would be coming. Mother and Dad always used to come to town and leave us over there. And kids to make them work, to do something, we said, “Yes, we'll do what you tell us if you'll make us some ice cream.” Ice cream was milk, and you beat your egg and sugar, and so you thicken that, you know, you use a little bit of flour to thicken it or corn starch to thicken it, and after it was all made…
FN: Tell them about the time they left you to do the washing.
AL: The what?
FN: The washing.
AL: Oh, to do the washing we had a little tree, a big tree, pinon tree close to the little stream, that I told you we had. You still had to carry the water up there. So Dad would have barrels, great big wooden barrels. He had them always soaked, and he always had them full of water so by the time I had to go do the washing, he'd fill all them barrels of water and then mother had an iron kettle like that to heat the water there, and then we put lye. When we washed our white clothes, we put it in there to boil. But put lye in it so it would get white, you know, put a little bit of lye in it. And it took me two days to wash. Two whole days it took me to wash. I had great big lumps like that on my hands over here.
FN: I'm talking Anna about the time that you put in the red underwear.
AL: Oh, my mother and Dad went to town, and he left two of my cousins with us to watch us. I was still small. They went to mother's closet and put her nice clothes and everything, and mother told them to wash the clothes and wash the baby's clothes, you know. They played all day. They were young but they wanted to be women, you know. They dressed in mother's clothes and every thing, and so it came to the time. I went out, and I said, “There comes my mother and dad way over there.” It was quite a few miles before you could see them coming, you know. When they came up the hill, you could see that little thing moving. So we had to wash that clothes. We had to wash that clothes. So they got the tubs, 2 of my cousins, and filled them up and put the baby's diapers in my Dad's winter underwear, long underwear.
FN: Red flannels.
AL: Long, winter underwear and they put it all together. Well, all the diapers got red. And they didn't know what to do. They washed them. And we didn't have any clothes lines. They used to hang the clothes on the fence, over the fence. So my mother thought, they got nearer and nearer and nearer. My mother told my dad, “I wonder how that red thing is doing over there. Everything hanging over that wire is red.” So that's what it was. They put the underwear with the diapers. They had washed the diapers, and they had turned all red. I didn't get a whipping then or a scolding because I was too small. They were the ones that got the scolding. And what they did when they saw the things coming near. All they got was mother's clothes and hid them behind a trunk. Mother had a great big trunk, you know, and they put the clothes and stacked them behind that trunk. We had more fun.
EB: Look's like I missed a good session here. Because you were ready I didn't want to miss the opportunity but I had to work to do so I had to stay there. I'll listen to it though.
AL: Well, we've been talking about what I remember. There's a lot of things, if I started talking about it, I don't think I would stop because there was so many things that happened during that time, you know.
RM: Well, maybe I could come back another day and talk with you some more.
AL: Well, I think I told you most of the important things. I don't know what else.
EB: Maybe after you get the transcript.
RM: Yes, that's a good idea.
AL: She remembers. Every time we started talking, I always tell her, “So”, I say, “If I'm gone one of these days, you could remember what I told you. Because my mind isn't what it used to be.”
EB: This is your baby sister?
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