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Walt and Ann Laney, with Jake and Cora Hribar
Scanned by Dick Chenault
Edited by Betty Anderson
Date of Interview - 12-10-1979
Interviewed by Rosalyn McCain
Date of birth - 5-28-1915
Parents - Oliver Jackson Laney and Sudie Belle McKee
Paternal grandparents - David Laney
Maternal grandparents - Joseph and Martha McKee
Ethnic group - Irish
Family origin - Mississippi
Date of family arrival in county - 8-18-1918
Location of first family settlement - Walsenburg
Kinship ties - siblings: Roy Laney - retired miner - Walsenburg, Leola Hastie - Pueblo - retired salesclerk, Hazel Wingo - Pueblo - retired nurse, Wallace Laney - Grand Junction, Virginia Dremmen, Clifford Herbert Laney - California, James Laney - Montgomery, Alabama
Profession - Railroading
Date of birth -
Paternal grandparents -
Maternal grandparents -
Ethnic group -
Family origin -
Date of family arrival in county -
Location of first family settlement -
Kinship ties -
Date of birth - 9-26-1910
Parents - Jacob Hribar and Frances Ocepeck
Paternal grandparents -
Maternal grandparents -
Ethnic group - Yugoslavian
Family origin - Yugoslavia
Date of family arrival in county - 1905 Father, 1906 Mother
Location of first family settlement - Walsenburg - Tercio
Kinship ties - siblings: Ed Hribar, Frances Geodorno, Mary Jane in California; children: James Hribar and Joyce Davis
Profession - Ranching
Cora Marie Menegatti Hribar
Date of birth - 2-28-1917
Parents - Quirino Menegatti and Catherine Andreatta Menegatti
Paternal grandparents - Frank Menegatti
Maternal grandparents - Bob and MArie Andreatta
Ethnic group - Italian
Family origin - Italy
Location of first family settlement - Delagua then ranch 10 miles from Rouse
Kinship ties - Mother and brother Attilo Menegatti
This is Rosalyn McCain. I am at the home of Ann and Walt Laney. I am talking with Ann and Walt Laney and with Jake and Cora Hribar.
Roz: When did you first come to the county, Walt?
Roz: And how old were you then?
Walt: Three years old.
Roz: Did your family come to work in the mines?
Walt: Yes, they came from Mississippi.
Roz: Were they working in the mines there?
Walt: No. My Father was working for the railroad. He was working at one of these plants in Mississippi. He worked one of these railroad cranes, you know. My grandparents came from New Mexico first, for their health, and then they came up here.
Roz: When did your grandparents come to New Mexico?
Walt: That was about 1903 or 1909 or something like that. Then they come up here in 1911 or 1912. See, my Uncle was a Methodist minister at the Methodist Church here during the 1913 strike. Then after he left here, he went to Pueblo. He was minister in Pueblo during the Pueblo flood.
Roz: It sounds like he had some interesting times.
Walt: Then they all left. All the rest of the family left, except my brother and I stayed.
Roz: Did you go into mining then?
Walt: No. I did railroading. My brother was a miner,
and my father was a miner, and Jake's father was a miner. Cora's father was a miner.
Roz: It really is amazing how many of the people I talk to in this community do have a mining background. It seems like so many people came to mine.
Walt: In them days there were a lot of miners here.
Roz: What mine did your family work with?
Walt: Oh, my Dad worked in a lot of mines. My father worked in Mutual, Ravenwood, Joe Vail, the Peanut Mine, Calumet No. I and Calumet No. II. Cora's father worked in Rouse, Delagua. Jake's father worked at Sunnyside, Gordon, Tercio. That's where Ann's Dad worked, at Tercio. He worked at Gordon quite a few years, Sunnyside, Morning Glory.
Ann: My Dad worked there, too. That's where my Dad got hurt, at Tercio. Both of my folks are Slovenians on both sides. Grandpa came here. He was born in Yugoslavia. But he worked in the mines in Germany, too, before he came.
Jake: He worked in Germany four years before he came here, I think.
Roz: When did they first come here?
Ann: My mother was born in Germany. There was three. There was Hannah, Mary and my Mom. They were born in Germany. Didn't Grandpa work in Rocky Mountain, too?
Jake: He could have.
Ann: You know that Rock house?
Jake: That was Gordon. Rocky Mountain was right there between Number II and Gordon. That is where I was born. Then there was Chumway.
Ann: My Dad came here in 1906.
Roz: Where did he come from?
Ann: He came from Rotts, Yugoslavia. He landed in Pueblo first, and then he worked all the mines here and in New Mexico. How many mines did he work here, Walt?
Walt: I know your Dad worked in Cameron, Wa1sen, Gordon, Pryor, Tioga, Number II, Alamo, Hastings, Primero, then he worked in Utah, Rock Springs, Wyoming.
Ann: He was a real mover.
Walt: Then he went back to Pennsylvania for a short tine. He worked there in the mines for a while.
Ann: Yes, there in Pennsylvania they told him, “Do you still have $5.00?” He said, “Yeah.” And they said, “Wel1, if you have it, you had better leave because you won't have it. You won't be able to raise enough money to ever get back to Colorado.”
Walt: My brother worked in the mines, too.
Ann: But Grandpa homesteaded a place on the Huerfano.
Jake: Well, he bought and then he homesteaded. That's the pasture land.
Roz: Was that after he was mining?
Jake: After. He did mine some though later, too.
Walt: Then your (Cora's) father got the ranch. He mined some, too when he had the ranch.
Cora: Yes, he mined for a few years in order to pay the ranch.
Roz: It always seems so amazing to me when I hear the wages that the miners made, how they managed to save enough to not only keep their heads above water but to be able to acquire land also. They really wanted that land.
Walt: Your mother was born here, isn't that right?
Cora: Yes, but my father was born in Giro, Italy.
Roz: What was your maiden name?
Roz: I believe you are related to somebody I have talked to.
Roz: Maybe so.
Cora: If you have talked with some of the Andreattas, I'm related to them. You know in Huerfano County, there are a lot of big families. A lot of people are related.
Roz: That's really true
Walt: We have seen a lot of changes here in Walsenburg.
Ann: My dad always used to say, “The mines have gone down. Not in my time, but in your time, you'll see the mines all working again around here.” He always had faith that they would come back. He always said that. And it kind of looks like with the energy crisis they're having and everything that it is true.
Walt: A couple of years. Not too much strip mining here, you know. Most of it's too deep.
Roz: How did people in Yugoslavia find out about coming to Pueblo? Did they have family or friends here?
Ann: My Dad always, when he was a child, that's all he could think of, was coming to America. Of course, there was a fellow that lived right next door to them that used to come, make enough money, go back and help the family out there. I think Mr. Tomsic came three times, wasn't it? Yes, and then he stayed. So that's where they learned the stories of America. Of course, what they understood over there was that money was easy to get. Until they got here, and then they found out that it wasn't as easy to come by. And I remember my Dad said after he got here he wondered if he should have stayed or not. But after, he went back. Well, my Grandfather gave him $100 for a boat fare. And he gave that back right away. Then he decided that he would go visit him one more time. So he went over there, and when he saw how it was there, and the war was starting, and all this and that, then he came back. And he said he never wanted to go again. But we went and visited in one place, and we really enjoyed that. That was real nice. All of the stories that he used to tell came back, you know.
Walt: We stayed in the same house where her father was born. It had been remodeled, you know.
Ann: He worked with the farm there, and they had timber so he worked in the timber quite a bit, hauling lumber. Because I know he used to say when he was a little boy he would haul this, and all the fellows would wonder how he could manage the horses and the load that he had when he would bring it in. But he said they really had to work there. But all the time, that is what his dream was, coming to America. I think he had an argument with his Dad to get here, but he got here.
Roz: I think I have heard that story from a number of people. They will say, “Well, I had a fight with my Dad, and I just left.”
Walt: He told me when he went back there, it cost him $50.00 to get to New York City from Pueblo, $50.00. Let's see, that was 1918, wasn't it?
Ann: And then his brother followed him here, and he worked in the mines in Wyoming and Utah, and then he passed away, and then his other brother wanted to come, but the quota was filled at that time. So then, of course, he went to South America, he and one of his sisters. On the First of January we went down and visited one of his sisters. She is the only one that is left now. They all passed away.
Cora: It will be a year pretty soon that you were over there, in January.
Ann: We really enjoyed that visit.
Roz: Where in South America was that?
Ann: Buenos Aires. That was really nice.
Walt: Buenos Aires is just like it used to be here that people would go where their own people were because that's, course it's a little different there too.
Ann: I think the Slovenian people did that here, too. You know they had their own communities and everything. They had...
Walt: Walsenburg had the Welshmen and Irish. They all went together too. There used to be a lot of then at Maitland and Pictou years ago.
Jake: There was a lot of Germans up at Denaley.
Walt: Yes, there were a lot of them. That's the way people came here was people would know them. There was a lot of people that come here that sent money back to their friends to come. That's the way a lot of them came. I know Mrs. Zelazny, the Youlanaks, that's the way they got here from Poland. Mrs. Zelazny loaned them the money. I think Andy Sprindle too.
Roz: Then once the people came and they really had their own community within the community, what held that community together? Did they have lodges or clubs or church groups? What were the things that held the different communities together?
Ann: They all had this Slovenian Lodge. Well, they had so many different ones. There was quite a number. Of course, they have kind of gone together a lot of them, the Fraternal Orders, but that was their biggest orders was the Fraternal Orders.
Roz: How many different lodges were there at one time? Of Slovenians?
Ann: There were a number of them.
Wa1t: Now there's about three, aren't there? There's Croatian.
Ann: And then we belong to the SNPJ Lodge, and that is the largest one that is in existence now. Then they had the Catholic Women's. Grandma belonged to that, remember? And they had the AFU (The American Federation of Unions). Then there was the Croatian, the ZMP. That's Polish, but a lot of them belonged to that, too. Oh, there were quite a number of them.
Walt: Well, in town here, the Fraternal Orders, there was the Odd Fellows, Knights of Pitheus, the Eagles, Moose, the Knights of Columbus, Masons. Now we're down to about the Elks, Masons, the Knights of Columbus, and they are not getting any bigger or anything.
Roz: What kind of activities would the different lodges sponsor? What were the things that were done through the lodges?
Ann: Well, they had the dances. They had the Slovenian dance, the Christmas Party. In fact when the pavilion was here, they still were going full blast. And then after it burned down, they didn't have the dances too much.
Ann: Picnics and outings, and then they used to get the different lodges together, and they would go to Rye, and they would have a picnic. In fact they would stay overnight there and everything.
Roz: Where was the pavilion?
Ann: Eighth Street.
Walt: Do you know where the playground is with the swimming pool? Right alongside it.
Ann: But they had a roller skating thing or something, and it caught on fire, it really went in a hurry. They kind of feel it was arson, but never did find out who did it.
Walt: The main thing in Walsenburg years ago was Saturday night. Everybody came to town Saturday night.
Roz: So everyone from the mines would come in and people from the ranches would come in?
Walt: See, the stores would stay open til 9:00.
Jake: Them's the good old days.
Roz: Would they do Slovenian dances?
Ann: Mostly the polkas. Not the regular...
Roz: Not folk dances so much?
Ann: Course, Slovenians are all noted for their polkas, I think.
Walt: Course a lot of people lived in the camps, you know.
Ann: There were a lot of Slovenians at Gordon.
Walt: There were coal camps all over the mines
Ann: We moved into Walsenburg in 1939.
Roz: What would you say were the years that most of the Slovenian immigrants came to Walsenburg?
Walt: It was about 1900, in the 1900's
Ann: Yes, 1900's. I think in Trinidad, too, a lot of them were going to Trinidad years ago.
Roz: You spoke of your father's brother that couldn't come because the quotas had been filled. There was a time there that they came, and then they had to stop coming?
Ann: Yes, they had to stop. Because there were a lot of them that went to Australia and Argentina. And there they had their little communities, too. Slovenian communities and German communities. Each had their own groups.
Walt: Buenos Aires is strictly European.
Ann: Of course, originally, I think all the groups would intermarry. It has just been the last 20 years or more that they have really spread out and remarried in between.
Walt: When these mines went down, people just scattered to get some work.
Roz: So when the mines closed down, some people were able to stay, but many had to leave?
Walt: Oh, yes. California, all over.
Ann: And then a lot of the children went to college and got other jobs and just took their parents with them, too, you know.
Walt: Denver, Pueblo.
Ann: You would be surprised how many people you meet other places, and they have been in Walsenburg or they have lived here at some time. Or have worked in one of the coal camps around here. It is really amazing. And no matter where we go, we find someone that knows Walsenburg.
Walt: We were down south, and one of my second cousins, a fellow named Tanner, he was telling me, “Yeah, I know where Walsenburg is, right on I—25.” He'd been out here to see his son graduate from the Air Force Academy.
Roz: So did you go to school at the mine schools?
Ann: Yes, I went to Gordon School through the eighth grade, and then I started to school here. I rode the bus one year, and then we moved into town.
Roz: Is that true of all of you? Did you all go to the camp schools?
Jake: I didn't. I went in the country.
Roz: Where did you go to school?
Jake: Out on the Huerfano. It is ten miles north from here. I went to a country school.
Cora: I went above, the John Ben School, out in the country.
Jake: A one room school?
Cora: We had two rooms.
Jake: In the mine camps there was.
Walt: I always went to school here though.
Roz: Were there differences between the schools in the camps and the country schools? Were the camp schools larger?
Ann: Oh yes, we had a greater attendance. I think we learned about the same. We had real good teachers all the time.
Jake: The country schools, some places didn't have good teachers. A lot of the teachers wouldn't want to go to a country school.
Walt: She'd have to ride a horse or something.
Jake: If you happened to have a good teacher, it was alright. If you didn't have a good teacher, you didn't learn much.
Walt: A lot of teachers in the camps taught two or three grades.
Cora: The ones in the country had all grades.
Jake: That's right, all grades.
Ann: Then, of course, they bussed us to high school. We rode the bus.
Roz: Sounds like Gardner today.
Cora: I think there's quite a few coming down from Gardner now.
Roz: That's right, quite a few. They get up early and get on the bus and get home late. I think they have a pretty good time on the bus if the truth were known.
Ann: We used to. We'd joke with the bus driver.
Roz: What was it like, growing up as a kid in the coal camps?
Ann: Oh, we used to have a lot of fun. We always thought it was very nice. We were closely knit, far more than you are when you are in town. Everybody knew each other and got along real well. We did have spats, but they wouldn't last very long. But here in town lots of times, I notice they have a grudge against you. It was more social in the coal camps. And we'd always get to, the adults and the children and everybody would play. Everybody would get together in one house for dancing.
Walt: It used to he more neighborly at the coal camps years ago.
Roz: You talk about the sense of community in the camp. How was that maintained even though people would go from one coal camp to another? It sounds like all of your families worked at a number of different camps. But the community within the camp sounds like it was pretty cohesive. How was that maintained?
Ann: You know, it seems like they accepted you well when you moved in. There was no difference. And really, I think all nationalities got along real good there in the coal camps. We never had any dissention between anyone there. We all got along real good.
Roz: How about the language difficulties? Were there some of the kids that didn't speak English, or did they all pick it up fairly readily?
Ann: Well, a lot of them would. We made ourselves understood. I know a lot of them did. Because we had a lot of Spanish people up there, and we got along real good. We made ourselves understood. A lot of them talked broken and all. But we got along fine.
Walt: The kids seemed to pick it up really good. Some of the older people didn't.
Jake: The older people, some of then, couldn't talk it. But the kids talked it.
Roz: Of course, kids are such little sponges with languages. They really do just pick up whatever is around them.
Jake: And the women was worse than the men with Spanish.
Ann: I don't think we ever had in the coal camp a lot of feuding. People just seemed to get along real well, even in the outlying districts, too. Where you were (Cora), the neighbors lived far away, but you still got along real good.
Roz: How about cooperation between neighbors. Did people help each other out a lot?
Ann: Yes, always.
Walt: In them days, yeah. Better than now, I think.
Ann: That's no lie.
Roz: If somebody was sick or if somebody needed something, everybody would pitch in?
Ann: That's true. I know my mother passed away when we lived in Gordon, and of course the neighbors came over and helped us. My sister was only two years old, and they always came around and helped us.
Jake: Well, country people are still that way. I guarantee. Yeah.
Roz: I think that's true, and from what I see, even in town, in Walsenburg, I think that people are much more that way than in Denver or the other big cities.
Jake: There you don't even know your neighbors.
Roz: That's right. I don't think anybody ever gets a flat tire out here that somebody won't stop and help them out. There's just more of a feeling of cooperation between people.
Ann: When you talk about that, we always get a big laugh. In Yugoslavia all the women do the work. And the men, what they do is usually work out in the forest, away from home. Of course, they were used to the women doing all the work. We kidded about that all the time. And so here we were going down the road (In Yugoslavia) and here was this lady, changing a tire, and the man is directing traffic. We almost died laughing at that.
Roz: I think that is true in more European countries than we realize.
Ann: Well, the women took care of all the gardening, all the gardens. And then Walt saw that woman with a cement mixer. I don't think I could have kept up with her.
Jake: Did you ever see the Pfaffenhauser girl work? Just like a man, driving trucks.
Walt: Yeah, I saw that girl.
Jake: Laying pipe line. And the mother and the two daughters. We had them out there. She was running a trencher. That girl was putting it in and fixed it up.
Roz: What group wou1d you say the Slovenians got along with the best or seemed like they mixed with the most?
Walt: Oh, they were all pretty good with everybody,
Ann: I think they were. I think that in Pueblo, though, they used to not feel too free with the Slovenian people. And even now you hear them talking about the “Bojohns” and everything. And Carol, my sister who lives there, says, she felt and does feel in different jobs that when she said her name was Brown, she got along better than when they found out that she was Slovenian. She married a Brown. The minute that they found that out, she said she could just feel the tension a little bit. They looked down on the Bojohns. They thought that they were under them really. It got so that people in Pueblo didn't want to say they were Slovenians at all. They just said that they were English speaking people, and they wouldn't give their background. And they say they feel, I know that I heard a lot of the oldtimers say that they felt that they felt that these people... the language is getting lost because they have always felt that they didn't want to learn the language because they would be kind of looked down upon because of that. And a lot of the language is being lost because of it. I can't speak it fluently. I can understand it very well. But I don't speak it fluently. As a child they used to laugh at me all the time when I talked. And my Dad, oh I think two months before he passed away, was telling me, “You know, I am real sorry you didn't continue talking in Slovenian.” And I said, “Well, the reason I didn't was because you laughed at me all the time. Every time I would say something, you would laugh at me.” And he said, “It wasn't because of what you said. You said it so perfectly and so nice, and you enunciated so well, that we all laughed.” And I thought they were making fun of me, so I thought, “What's the use of talking?” So I just stopped. If they had told me then why they were laughing, I wouldn't have been ashamed. I would have felt much better. But I can understand because when I went to Europe, I didn't have any trouble at al1. But the words don't quite roll out like they should. I can't quite twist them out. In fact I can write what I want to say better than I can speak it.
Roz: That's real interesting. Did it seem like any of the ethnic groups that came as miners kept their languages more than others? Were any of them able to keep their languages?
Ann: Well, I think the Italians did more. Don't you think, Cora? I think they did far more than the Slovenians. I don't think they were looked down upon as much as the Slovenian people. I don't think.
Roz: Was there a larger Italian community? Did that have anything to do with it?
Ann: No, I think they were about equal. It was just...
Walt: They were just over the hill. Well, as she says, they never talked it. Her mother did.
Ann: Now, Cora speaks very fluently. (Italian)
Cora: My mom and I talk it all the time. Jake says, “Well, I don't understand it.” But I like it because that way I can keep up with the Italian. If I don't, I'll forget it.
Roz: That's the only way to keep a language.
Ann: Well, Jake used to understand a lot of it, but he's kind of forgotten it now.
Jake: It's kind of hard. I can't talk it right. I understand quite a lot. I can understand.
Cora: He can't remember it. He can't hardly talk any words. But like you, he wasn't around where they talked it a lot.
Roz: Are there any of the older people that still speak Slovenian amongst themselves?
Ann: Frances Tomsic is here, and she does. Now that's who I go talk to all the time. And she does read my letters. One aunt writes to me, and I can make out what she's saying. And the other one writes real fancy, and I can't understand what she's saying. It's that real fancy writing, and I don't know if they're “d's” or what they are. But she'll read them, and all she has to do is read them, and I can understand what she is saying. And then Ed (Tomsic) talks it.
Walt: Ed's pretty good. Did you talk to Ed?
Roz: I haven't spoken with him yet. I think Elaine Baker is going to be talking with him, and she is going to be trying to get him together with the Slovenian scholar that is coming tomorrow, too.
Ann: Now, Frances Tomsic is another one. She is very up on it. And she went to Yugoslavia when we did.
Walt: So did Ed. Ed's brother lived right across the street from her (Ann's) aunt.
Ann: It would be good if you could get her, too. Then there's Mrs. Ludvik. I think she still speaks it. Now, Frank Fink speaks a little Slovenian, yet.
Walt: The two younger people that can talk Slovenian in this is Johnny and Tony Tomsic.
Ann: That's Frances' children. And they speak very well. I don't think I know any others. There's Mr. Grgitch. He's 88 years. He still speaks it. He lives on Walsen Avenue. He's retired. I'm thinking of the ones that come to the Lodge meetings. He's about the oldest one.
Walt: Joe's folks are gone, Zupancic, Andy Spindle.
Jake: Zutman's still around, ain't he?
Ann: Yes, Louis Zutman on 7th Street.
Walt: He's in pretty bad shape. He may still be in the hospital.
Ann: Oh, Mrs. Rose Mehalich. She speaks it real well.
Jake: There's not too many around. There's a lot of them in Pueblo.
Walt: The old timers there are going pretty fast, too.
Roz: Most of the people you have mentioned, did their families come here as miners?
Ann: Yes, practically all of them.
Walt: See, her Dad worked in the smelters at the steel mill. Then he went to the coal.
Roz: After the mines shut down, was there any particular thing that people went into?
Walt: Whatever they could find.
Jake: A few went to farms.
Roz: Are you farming?
Roz: Where is your farm? Where is your place?
Jake: Just ten miles out of Walsenburg just a mile off the highway, 1—25 on the Huerfano.
Roz: There's some really pretty places up there.
Walt: And then her folks (Cora's) live, her mother, lives way up Lester Canyon, isn't it?
Cora: At the foot of the Spanish Peak, almost.
Jake: Santa Clara country, isn't it?
Roz: So both of your families went into ranching when they stopped mining?
Roz: And they've held onto their ranches.
Cora: Oh, yes. All that are left are still struggling along.
Jake: The Spanish people all left for welfare.
Cora: They were smarter than the rest of us.
Ann: Well, a lot of them couldn't go anywhere. They...
Jake: Well, they've got their pension and this and that.
Roz: Were the mines still going during the depression years?
Jake: Sure, when it started. When they worked them.
Walt: All the mines worked fairly good up until about 1953 I guess when they shut Big Four down.
Ann: Of course, I know my Dad worked, and one time he was looking at his W—2 forms, and he made $2,000 that year. And he said, ”But, that was a good year.” Of course, when times got hard, I think they all went to WPA. I know my Dad did. Of course, he didn't care for that too much. He didn't care for the way they worked and all. In fact my uncle's on the ranch now. McKinley used to own it before. He used to go down there and help him on the farm, and for working and all he used to bring home eggs and meat and stuff like that rather than take money for it. So he had a lot of slow times in the
mine. In the mines what they had to do was work in the winter real hard because in the summer there was no work. They didn't work in the summer so they had to really save up during the winter. Course, we always used to raise a big garden, can everything and save it for the winter months.
Roz: So even in the mining camps you had areas you could go ahead and grow a garden?
Ann: Oh, yes. We always had a garden. We had chickens, and we had rabbits.
Jake: High priced stores, too.
Ann: Oh, yes. They used to have coupons, too. You had to buy all your groceries there.
Jake: They'd charge about three prices.
Ann: That's right.
Roz: Somehow in talking with people that had been ranching at that time, they talk about bringing milk and eggs and chickens and things into the mining camps, and I hadn't really realized that the people in the camps had animals and gardens, too.
Walt: People in the ranches used to come to town and peddle beef.
Jake: Vegetables, too.
Ann: The (?) that owned this house, that built this house, he had all of this in garden, and he used to sell it in the camps, his vegetables. He was quite a farmer.
Roz: How about medicine? Did they have doctors at the camps that people went to?
Ann: Yes, we had a mine doctor. He used to come out to the mines, and he would make his calls at the mines, and then he would go out in the different neighborhoods. Because when my mother was sick, I know. She passed away. She and I both came down sick the same day, and the doctor, I know, came to see us there. I think they just left the order there in the morning, and he would pick it up there at the mine office, and then he would go and make his calls.
Roz: Would your family pay for that or was that paid for by the mine?
Ann: They took it out of the checks.
Roz: And then they would go around to surrounding families that weren't mining families?
Ann: Yes. My mother got so bad that they took her to the hospital, and she passed away. We both had the flu, and hers turned to pneumonia, and mine turned to yellow jaundice. Of course, she had kind of a weak heart, too. So we were all kids when she passed away. I just have three sisters. One passed away. Then they moved to Utah, and I was born there, and then they moved back in 1923.
Roz: How about entertainment? What were some of the things that kids did for entertainment?
Ann: Played ball. My Dad was one, he didn't like us going around the camp ground, and so we had a ball diamond right in the back of our house. We played ball there all the time.
Walt: They kept busy all the time.
Ann: In the winter we used to have quite a bit of snow, and we used to do a little sled riding, or shovel riding most1y.
Walt: Ice skating
Ann: Yes, we had a lot of ice skating. The ponds up there used to freeze over solid, and we did a lot of ice skating. And when it got real cold, we played games in different homes. We used to go from one place to another.
Roz: What were some of the games you used to play?
Ann: Polly Angie. We played that until the board wore out. We played cards, too. We played dominoes.
Walt: We used to play Kick the Can all the time and Run, Sheep, Run.
Ann: I think baseball was the most popular and everybody would play. The whole group would come together, men, women, children, boys, and girls.
Jake: Each mining camp would have a team of their own, each mining camp.
Roz: Would the different mines play each other then?
Jake: Sure, oh, yeah. They'd go to Pryor, Big Four. They had good teams.
Walt: Yeah, they had some pretty good ball players.
Roz: How late did that last? When did that stop happening and why?
Ann: Well, I guess it was soon after the coal mines started closing.
Walt: They closed the mines.
Cora: Then all the people started moving out.
Walt: They were all going some place.
Ann: It wasn't too long after we met at Gordon that it went down, and everybody was moving out of there. I think we were one of the first ones. They soon followed.
Roz: So did your family buy a house when you moved in town?
Ann: This house. Then it got a little too large for my Dad. See, he had remarried, and his wife had the house on the corner, and they moved into the smaller house and sold us this one.
Roz: So you have been here a while.
Ann: Yes, a long while.
Roz: This house is really home.
Roz: How about during the depression years? Do you remember that as being a particularly hard time?
Ann: I don't remember too much of that, really.
Walt: It was pretty tough sledding.
Ann: I knew we just didn't have much. I always remember that for Christmas that all we would get was just a little bowl of candy with oranges, and we might get a pair of shoes or a dress or something. I mean one thing only. My Dad always said, “That's about all I can afford right now.”
Walt: You were lucky to have enough to eat in them days.
Ann: My Dad never skimped on food. He'd skimp on clothing, of course, but not on food.
Cora: Yes, that's how my family was, too.
Walt: That's why there's no jack rabbits in the country yet. We ate them all in the Depression.
Ann: And he'd raise pigs. Of course, the Slovenian people really go for pork. They would smoke it and dry it and have it all winter long. We never did without food. We always had food. It wasn't the best, and you ate what was there. You weren't very particular. If you were hungry, you ate it. But clothing. I know when I went to school, we used to have to wear a blouse or a middy, and I'd have two blouses and two skirts, and that's all I wore, and I can remember I wore a hole right in the back end of my favorite one. Then I had to have a new one. You really had to wear them out, and your shoes were pretty well worn before you got another pair, or else they got too short, one of the two. And they you'd pass them to the next one if they weren't worn out. Those were the good old days, I guess.
Roz: What are the things that you think of that were the good old days about it that you would like to go back to?
Ann: Well, I don't want to relive them.
Walt: No. I don't want to go back.
Ann: Yes, hauling water.
Cora: That's what Jake says. “They say the good old days, but how many would go back to the horse and buggy?”
Walt: I don't want to go back to those days.
Roz: Are there things about those days that you think were better than now or not?
Walt: Well, I think the people were a little closer and helped one another.
Cora: They were friendlier and more willing to help one another more, and they enjoyed each other more than they do now. Now people don't care about nobody.
Roz: What are the things that you don't want to back to?
Cora: Horse and buggy.
Jake: Not when the eggs are two dozen for a quarter.
Ann: Gosh, we used to have to haul our water and everything else. I remember we saved all the rainwater to wash your hair and take a bath in. We always had the rain barrel. This modern convenience of running water all the time, I like.
Walt: Everybody got a bath in the big old tub on Saturday. Shot of castor oil along with it.
Roz: What are some of the home remedies that you remember like your shot of castor oil?
Walt: There were so many I can't remember all of them.
Ann: Well, we always had that cammonile tea. That was always for a stomach ache. We always had that. And, of course, my Dad always thought that the whiskey bottle was good medicine.
Cora: I can remember that every spring we had to have three weeks of drinking that sage. He'd make us drink a treatment, he'd call it, a tonic. We had to have that for about three weeks, and it was so bitter. But we took it ever spring.
Roz: What was it for?
Cora: It was to purify your blood. I don't know if it did or not, but we are still here. That was one thing. He never bothered about anything else, but that wild sage. Oh, my goodness, that thing was so bitter.
Jake: Well, out in the country we used to have the Raleigh man. He used to have liniments of all kinds, stuff like that out in the country. Liniments. They'd deliver that, too.
Cora: We'd have a Raleigh can of Vitamin A and B and things. Daddy would get that down, and we'd use some of that.
Ann: My Dad always used garlic and onions, and that was for worms and every thing else.
Jake: They still say garlic is good for worms. Yeah.
Ann: Frank Cordova talks about all the herbs and everything that Grandma used to use. Of course, he goes in for that an awfu1 lot. He studies that and everything. I remember he used to say, “Your Grandma used to say this.” And “Your Grandma used to say that.”
Roz: Do people still go to him to find out what herbs to take do you think?
Ann: He says they do. He said Dr. Gonzales even once asked him about a special herb to take. So I don't know. Of course, he studied up on all that.
Cora: Yes, he's pretty well up on all that.
Wa1t: On herbs and roots and stuff like that.
Jake: He's got a few good herbs, I think.
Ann: Of course, a lot of them I don't remember too well. My mother passed away when I was eleven, so when I start remembering things, she was gone.
Roz: So when she passed away, did you pretty much take over the cooking and everything?
Ann: My older sister did. She was older than I am. In fact they just kind of passed her through in the 7th and 8th grades, and she stayed home. My Dad wanted me to take one year of high school, and then have her go the other year, and then me a year, and she didn't want that, and so I went a head and finished high school. So she stayed home and took care of the family and washing and everything.
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