NOTICE All data and photos on this website are Copyrighted by Karen Mitchell. Duplication of this data or photos is strictly forbidden without legal written permission by the Copyright holder.
Scanned by Dick Chenault
Edited by Sara Murphy
Date of Interview - 12-5-1979
Interviewed by Elaine Baker
Date of birth - 11-5-1901
Parents - John Ugolini and Margaret Contri
Ethnic group - Italian
Family origin - Italy
Date of family arrival in county - 1897
Kinship ties - Twin sister in Walsenburg
Elaine: As we get all the stories from the men and not from the women because the women always are good wives but: the men tell the stories, but in this play we want to be able to show what the women went through too. They weren't down there with the shovels but had a hard . . . a good life, but hard.
Jean: Hard, yes. It was hard you know because it was during the depression you know and there wasn't much money at that time and they had to skimp, you know, they skimped a lot. Done without a lot of things, but we didn't mind it. We didn't know any better I guess.
Elaine: You know, I wanted to . . . you were born in America?
Jean: Yes, um—huh, I was born here in this town.
Elaine: In Walsenburg?
Jean: In Walsenburg, yeah . . . Red Camp they called it. I was born in Red Camp.
Elaine: And . . . your father was a miner?
Jean: Yeah, he was . . . they had the Walsen Mine and he worked up there in the mine and that's where we were born up there in Red Camp.
Elaine: So your mother was from Italy?
Jean: Both of them.
Elaine: What part were they from?
Jean: They were from Kimalgo, Italy.
Elaine: And you're an Ugolini?
Jean: Yes, I'm an Ugolini . . . I was. My maiden name was Ugolini.
Elaine: I seem to remember from reading the . . . for the court house records, that the Ugolini family came over in around 1890 or something or 190. . .
Jean: Well, let's see. I'm pretty near . . . I'll be 80 in . . .let's see now. I'll be 80 in November and I imagine my dad was here about . . . when we were born, he was here about 5 or 6 years. Well, it might have been in 1890 when he come because I'm 80 now.
Elaine: Why did he come? Why did he choose this place?
Jean: Well, because he stopped in Missouri first, before he came here and then he heard about these coal mines . . . all the coal mines. CF&I was just starting to open all these mines here arid he heard about all these coal mines. So, first, they stopped in Riviera, Missouri and then from there they went to the Pueblo steel mills and he didn't like it. He worked a while in the Pueblo steel mills, but he didn't like it. It was too hard so he heard about the coal mines here opening up, so he come and settled in Walsen Camp and started working in the mine there.
Elaine: Did he stay in the mines a long time?
Jean: Well, he worked in the mines for a while and then he went farming. They bought a farm south of Walsenburg here and then after that, he farmed all his life. He bought this farm over there and he was there for a few years and then he bought the Ugolini Farm Dairy down here.
Elaine: So, your family has kept the dairy all . . .
Jean: Kept that farm . . . has been in the family all the time. See, after he passed away, my brother bought it and now he passed away; his son is running it. It's the Ugolini Farm Dairy.
Elaine: So Bill Ugolini is your . . .
Jean: He'd be my nephew. He'd be a son to my brother.
Elaine: Did your mother treat her husband differently from, say, your marriage?
Jean: Oh, well, my mother . . . she let him do everything, you know.
Mr. Bonacci: Jean?
Jean: Oh, I can't remember it now, but it was a real pretty one . . . pretty song. Maybe you can remember it. I can't remember it now.
Sidney: It'll come back to you when you're not thinking.
Jean: Yeah, um—huh. It was a real pretty love song and I just loved that song. It might come back . . .right at that minute I remembered it, now I can't remember it. And my mother . . . she let him do the bossing you know and she just raised the childrens and done the work and helped and worked the farm, you know. She left him do everything. He was the boss. You know, at that time. And she skimped and saved and worked and always home . . . she was always home.
Elaine: She didn't go shopping . . .?
Jean: No, um—um. Very seldom, she'd go shopping. He done everything.
Elaine: That's wonderful. Were there any strikes . . . was your father still working during any strike?
Jean: No, my father never . . .he was farming at that time. He was out at that time. And that was a time when my husband come from Italy in . . . 1914 strike. That's when he come from Italy.
Elaine: You met him during the strike?
Jean: No, I was young at that time. I was about 15 or 17 when I met him and about 18 years old, I started going with him and about 21 I got married. We got married in '21.
Elaine: A long time.
Elaine: Was there a difference between . . . you're an American, you were born in America. Do you think of him as like a foreigner?
Jean: Oh no. Of course, at that time when we talked, we talked Italian. After through the years . . . now we talk American all the time in the house. We very seldom talk Italian. But at that time, we talked Italian all the time in the house, we always talked Italian. We never talked American.
Elaine: But you didn't feel like the . . . I knew there were a lot of Italians coming over . . . the people, the Italians that were born in America didn't look any differently against those . . .
Jean: Oh, no, no. All mixed together. Well, we mixed mostly with the Italians than with the Americans. Well, we sort of stayed . . . the Italians together. We didn't mix much with the Americans at that time. We stayed more altogether.
Elaine: And the Sicilians . . . were they separated?
Jean: Well, our group all stayed together; the Sicilians stayed together, you know. We didn't mix very much. We mix more now than we did at that time.
Elaine: After you were married, there were a lot of strikes. You went through a lot of strikes too, right?
Jean: Oh, a lot of them. Well, in fact, when I married my husband, he was on strike.
Elaine: What year was that?
Jean: That was in 1922. He was on strike. (She tells about the song he is singing.) He sees the sky and the leaves and. the fruit of the trees. He sees everything. He meets this girl . . . this girl was up in the tree picking fruit and he was passing by and looking up in the tree and he could see the sky and the leaves and the fruit and he could see everything.
Elaine: It's a beautiful love song.
Jean: Yeah, but this one that. I was . . . you know what it was Dan? Gira de Gira Biondina.
Jean: (Tells about another song he is singing) She is walking along the highway and he is hiding and watching her beauty. Oh, he enjoys this and everything like that.
Elaine: He's such a beautiful singer. His voice is . . . in so many ways, he's so strong . . .his voice is wonderful. So, would you tell me from . . . ok, so if you got married in the strike, give me some feeling about your life starting with your husband; what the woman's side of it is, because he told us last time . . . he told us his point of view from a miner and we're kind of curious about what was . . .like, particularly in the strikes . . .what did the women feel? Did they . . . and then maybe something about your life together.
Jean: Well at that time when we were married, the strike didn't bother me because he . . . we were happy together and we didn't care if he was striking or not at that time . . . when we first got married in 1922 and we . . . it didn't bother us at all. We were young (Dan sings another song) He sees the pigeons. They fly here and there and flying all over and then after pretty soon they get together and give each other a kiss. When I see you, he says, my heart goes ticete - ticeta, pitty - patter [sic]. See but so many years has gone by, and he's never sang them. He's forgotten a lot of them.
Elaine: If he sang that, would people in Walsenburg who were Italian, would they remember the tune a little bit.
Jean: Oh, yes, they would remember that . . . the old timers.
Elaine: Well, that's what this is for. It's for the people that remember and the kids to give some feeling.
Jean: Oh, the old timers, of course, there isn't too many here in town now of these old timers. There isn't too many Italians; real old timers that come from Italy. There isn't too many but they still talk a lot - even the younger generation can talk a little bit.
Elaine: And they . . . the younger ones remember hearing. . .
Jean: Well, I remember when we lived in Cameron . . . it was really the nicest house we ever had. You know, we usually . . . we all lived in . . . they were like shacks when we were first married, but when we moved to Cameron it was a real pretty house. The CF&I kept it so nice and it was a real nice house. Well, we were there about a year or so and they called out a strike and we had to . . . and he wouldn't think . . .and the CF&I told us 'you either go to work or get out'. Well, he wouldn't think about going to work so we had to move and get out.
Elaine: Did he ask you what you thought?
Jean: Well, even if he did, I had the same idea he had. I wouldn't think about him going to work because we hated that name of scab. Oh, we couldn't stand it. We thought it was a disgrace to be a scab. (Talking to her husband) Oh, no, I would sing that one. That's not a very clean song. I didn't like it.
Elaine: So all the Italians felt the same way about being a scab so they all stuck together?
Jean: Well, not all of them. There was a lot of Italians that went to work. They went to work. Not all of them, but there's a lot of them that come out on strike. And the ones that went to work, well, they were, at that time, making money and we were putting out money because we didn't go to work. We had to get out and move to town. We moved to town here.
Elaine: So was there hard feelings between the. . .
Jean: Oh, yes, there was awful hard feelings.
Elaine: So, in general, the women felt . . . they didn't say, 'well, we have to put food on the table', 'how could you do this'. They didn't say that?
Jean: No, we always managed someway and we wouldn't think about my husband going to work as long as there was a strike. And then after the strike was over, we couldn't get a job. You'd go and ask for a job at the mine and they'd say, 'well, no job for you, you've been on strike, no job'. Finally, they got this job in Alamo up there. He got this job and we were there about nine years when he was in this mine accident, and then we had to get out.
Elaine: So the last, let's see . . . there was a strike in '22; was this strike in . . .?
Jean: There was a strike in '22, if I can remember, '22 and then this was sort of a wobbly strike in '27. I don't think there was any when he come from Italy, there was this 1914 strike and then this '22 strike and then this '27 strike.
Elaine: What was that one about . . . the wobbly strike?
Jean: The wobbly strike? It was this . . . you know at that time when the (space) when they executed them I think. Well then . . . the strike come out right after that and they called it the account of that. My husband, when there was a strike, you couldn't get him to work whether it was a wobbly or United Mine Workers; he wouldn't go to work. He didn't go out because on account of Sacco Vanzetti or . . . he just would not, because it was a strike and he wouldn't work. He just felt that way. He never worked when there was a strike.
Elaine: Just skimped huh?
Jean: Yeah. But we'd save. When he was working, we'd save money and when there was a strike, well, we'd spend it.
Elaine: You never get ahead.
Jean: Yeah, never got ahead. We got ahead after we moved to town and he went into business. That's when we got ahead. But it didn't bother me. We just skimped and saved, and sold things; maple wood things. It didn't bother us.
Elaine: Were you in Cameron when they built the YMCA?
Jean: Well, no, it was already built.
Elaine: It was built then?
Elaine: And so was it active while you were there that year?
Jean: Yes, they had doings going up there. They always had something going on. In fact, after the camp . . . they started tearing down the camps . . . that's when they tore down the YMCA. They had a bowling alley and they had a band. They'd have a lot of get togethers there in the YMCA.
E1aine: Did the women have . . . get togethers, or were they too busy to visit?
Jean: Well, they wouldn't get together like in a group. They'd go visit from house to house but we never got together in a group because we weren't there very long. We were there about a year. That's all. And then we come out on strike.
Elaine: So, it was just like anywhere else. Women would go and visit . . .
Jean: Yeah, yeah, just from house to house.
Elaine: Then your family . . . did you ever go out to the farm during the strike?
Jean: Down at our farm? We'd go to visit, that's all.
Elaine: But didn't you have to go because you were starving?
Jean: No, no. Oh? No. We always had . . . and then after we'd have credit and then we'd use our credit during the strike and then when we'd go hack to work, we'd pay. If we run out of money . . . we'd never ask my mother and dad for anything. The only thing that we could get is . . . we'd go to visit her and they had a big garden with all kinds of vegetables. She'd load the car up vegetables for us and we'd have all kinds of vegetables. She'd load it all up . . my mother would. (Speaking of Dan who is singing in the background) I got to watch him, because sometimes he says little dirty songs.
Jean: See, when he starts to singing, then they (the songs) kind of come back to him.
Jean: When we were first married and when he was single, he used to sing a lot. He used to do a lot of singing. They'd get together and sing. Then after, as the years go by, you kind of get away from it because you get more Americanized. Now, we hardly ever talk Italian. All American. We never talk Italian anymore. And when my son was little, he didn't know a word in American; all Italian, until he started going to school. We talked always to him in Italian.
Elaine: So he can still understand it?
Jean: Oh, yeah, but he don't talk it very good. He talks more of the (space) like, because I never did talk it real good. I never talked the real good Italian, just what . . . just like my mother taught us.
Elaine: Were there any dances that people did that . . .?
Jean: Oh yes, we used to go to the . . . there was a schoolhouse that used to have a lot the get togethers. We'd bundle up our kids and go to the dance and then the kids would get sleepy; there was never a babysitter. You always took your kids with you and then they used to lay them on the chairs to sleep. They'd lay them down and they'd get sleepy on the chairs and let them sleep and then we'd have a good time dancing. On New Year's Eve we had a get together and we'd all maybe 40 or 50 couples would get in one house and dance all night til morning and then in the morning they'd go around and serenade in the homes. It was all night up there and everybody would bring a cake or cookies or . . . everybody would bring something. And the owner of the house . . . they would furnish the wine. They'd put in the wine and then they'd tell you 'well, we drank about maybe 5 or 6 gallons of wine'; then the men would pay him. Sometimes it cost $2.00 for all night. Oh, they were happy times, happy times. And the owner of the house, he was the musician. He played the accordion. And his brother would play the guitar, so we didn't have to pay for no music.
Elaine: Who was this?
Elaine: Were there any Italian dances or just American dances?
Jean: Oh, they were all Italian; the waltz and the polka. We never knew, anything about these new dances. It was just either a waltz or a polka. That's the only two dances; they did. They were happy dances you know. When you'd hear them playing, you'd just feel like dancing.
Elaine: Is that the same polka like the present-day polka and the same waltz?
Jean: Yeah, it's very little change than the waltz and the polka. You know, this waltz was more of a . . . now, it's more like they used to dance in the olden days, sort of up and down. Instead, now it's more of a . . . sliding, your feet are sliding. At that time, it was more up and down, like the olden times . . . they used to dance. Sometimes I see them on TV . . these like in . . . what was that movie? They have these long dresses on and then they go to these dances . . . that's the way . . .that's the kind of a waltz it was at that time. Now, it's a little bit different. I don't think I can even keep time with it now, they way they dance it now.
Elaine: During the bootleg period when Donati was . . . did that make the community scared, (Dan sings another song) did that scare the Italian community when all that . . .
Jean: Well, at that time, it shocked them at that time. It really shocked the Italians, but after they forget about it.
Elaine: Well, when they had the Ku-Klux-Klan marching arid stuff . . . it was around that . . . right after Donati . . . did the people . . .?
Jean: No, I can't remember that too well.
Elaine: Some people talk about it. Actually, Archie Levy remembers a day with Lily Sporleder, his grandmother, and was watching the parade and feeling her fear.
Jean: Yeah, you had a sort of a fear . . . a fear of them, but I just can't remember much about that, because after . . .at that time, we weren't in town. We were living out in the camps . . . we lived in Toltec there and we didn't know he was doing things like that. It was a shock to everybody. We didn't think he was in with this gang, these (space) it was a shock to all the people when they found out he was mixed up with them. (Dan talking in the background.) He's better for explaining things, than I am.
Elaine: Do you have a daughter, or just a son?
Joan: No, just a son.
Elaine: I was going to ask you if you raised your children differently from how your mother raised them.
Jean: No, I raised him the same, just like my mother raised me. I remember one time . . . we lived in Alamo, it was a windy, windy day and when my son would go to the schoolhouse, there was a fence close to the store there and when the wind would blow, it would blow all the papers and everything against this fence and my son was coming home from school and he passed by this fence and he seen a dollar bill against this fence. So, he come home and he brought: it home. Well, the next day he went back and looked again, and he found another one. He brought that home and I took him on the side and I told him, I says, 'Leo', his name wasn't Leo, it was Wedo at that time. I says 'Wedo, you tell me where you got this money. I think you're stealing it. You tell me where you got it.' 'No mama, no mama', and I says, 'I'm going to spank you if you don't tell me where you got it'. I really thought he was stealing them and he says, 'don 't you spank him, now you wait and I'm going to have him come with me and we're going to see, so he took him up against this fence, took his daddy up, and 'here's where I found them, here's where I found them'. And they found another dollar bill. Somebody had change, I guess, from a five, all ones, and I don't know
. . . this wind, must have blew all this money against this fence. They must have lost it or something and they found another one. He says, 'you see, he wasn't lying. He found it up against the fence.' But I used to spank him if I found out he was stealing, getting things that . . . oh, I'd spank him. I think I was like my mother . . . too strict with him and he was more gentle with him, I'd spank him.
Elaine: Is that . . . in an Italian family, does the mother do the spanking and the . . .?
Jean: Yes, that's the way it was. He never touched that boy, never touched him and at that time, I didn't give him no spanking, but I really thought he was stealing them, so I wanted to find out for sure.
Elaine: Was he . . . so the way he brought up children was very much the same style as the way you brought up children even though you were born here . . . you still had the same feeling about family? It wasn't much difference because of . . .
Jean: No, no. Well, I raised my son like my mother raised me.
Elaine: What do you remember of your married life together that's the most . . . was the hardest thing you went through not personally, but the hardest times?
Jean: Well, I think the hardest times was when we were out in the camps because it was during the depression and there wasn't much work. You had to do without a lot of things and a lot of skimping and saving. Yeah, that was the hardest part, was when we were out in the camps. I remember I'd never buy my little boy any clothes; I'd make them all. You know, his (Dan's) collars would wear out. Well, he wouldn't wear them patched; he wouldn't wear anything patched, so I'd take his old shirts and I'd make little shirts for the boy and then his old pants; I'd make him little pants for the boy and I was always making over things and then I'd get . . . we'd get from the relatives old clothes, and I'd make them all over for me. I was so skinny at that time and I'd make them over and then I'd come to town and you know them big glass windows coming up Main Street, I'd look at myself and say, 'Oh, my goodness, the fat dress looks so nice and now I'm (space), and it looks terrible in the reflection in the shopping. . . in the glass. I says, 'Gee, it doesn't look as nice as it looked up there'. I guess I wasn't much of a seamstress.
Elaine: You had an electric sewing machine?
Jean: No, oh, we didn't know what it was. We didn't know what an electric sewing machine was. It was all just . . . foot.
Elaine: Were there many cars up at the camp or did miners. . .
Jean: There wasn't too many. We bought a car . . . we were still in Alamo when we bought our first car. It was a Willys and it was second hand. We give $320 for it, second hand. At that time, we paid $320 for it. He didn't want it and I just begged and begged and begged for him to get it, so finally he bought it.
Elaine: Did that change your life any?
Jean: No, it was always the same. Well, our . . . I don't know. We just never thought about getting rich. We always lived by . . .from day to day. Now, the mines would pick up in September. They'd call the men back to work in September and they'd work from September, October, November and December. In January, they'd start laying the men off and a lot of them would be laid off all summer.
Elaine: But you could stay in your house?
Jean: Yeah, you could stay there. They'd let you stay. We paid $1 a month for electricity and $7 a month for rent; $8 we lived there. Nothing for water; they wouldn't charge for water.
Elaine: So, if you were laid off, did they let you get behind on the rent until you . . .
Jean: Yes, then when you'd go back to work, well they'd take it off at the office. They'd even give you credit at the store, a company store. You could get credit there.
Elaine: You say you weren't looking to get rich or anything, but all the children of the immigrants from Walsenburg have all done really well. How did you . . . tell your children to look for a better live or did they just . . .?
Jean: They just . . . ike my son, after he grew up, he went to college . . . well, when we moved to town he used to have a paper route. He'd deliver papers and he'd make his spending money that way and then he went to college on his scholarships. He'd always have scholarships and he'd go to college.
Elaine: He always was interested himself in education?
Jean: Yes, all the time and he went to college and he went in the army. He went to Texas A&M. Yeah, he always went to college.
Elaine: What does he do now?
Jean: He's a public accountant. He's working for an oil man in Denver, and he went to Texas A&M to college during the war and then what do they do? They take all these students out of college and put them in the combat engineers, so he was in the combat engineers; the rest of the time he was in the army. He worked his way through college. He wanted to go to college and he used to work in the kitchen in the college and he'd work his way through college.
Elaine: Second World War . . . I know the Italians in Pueblo, some supported Mussolini, some didn't. In Walsenburg, what was the feeling down here before Pearl Harbor?
Jean: I really can't remember much. No, they weren't . . . in fact, my brother went. He had to go in the marines . . . in the navy, he was in the navy. My other brothers, they had the farm, so they got . . . what did they say? A deferment. He got a deferment to work on the farm.
Elaine: My father got a deferment too. He was a plumber. He worked on the shipyard in Boston.
Elaine: How separate was the men's life and the women's life in those days? Was it . . . did the men stay with the men and the women with the women or was It . . . what was it like?
Jean: Well the men worked in the mine and the women would do the housework and then they would get together. Then, when it was time to cook supper for the men, well they would go home and cook supper for them. In our case, when the mine wasn't working, he'd get together with a bunch of men and they'd play this bocce. They'd spend the day playing bocce when they weren't working and they'd all get together. The women got together and the men got together. The women would get together in the daytime and visit and the men would get together and play bocce especially on Sunday afternoon. Then we'd . . . on Sunday, we'd get together, a bunch of men and a bunch of women, families, and we'd get a keg of beer or a 5-gallon keg of beer or a 10-gallon keg of beer and go out under a tree in the summertime with this keg of beer and this man with his accordion and we'd dance right there. We'd spend Sunday afternoon dancing altogether under a tree in the dirt there.
Elaine: In Walsenburg or . . .?
Jean: In the camps. This was mostly at in Alamo up there pretty near every Sunday afternoon. Very often they'd get together, the families, and go under this tree with this keg of beer.
Elaine: Was the Alamo mostly Italian?
Jean: A lot of them. A lot of them were Italian. Mostly Italians. And a lot of Slavish. There was a lot of Slavish.
Elaine: Did they mix, the Slavish and the Italians?
Jean: Yeah, they got along good and there was a lot of south Italians there; a lot of south Italians. Now the blacksmith, he was a south Italians and oh, he was a character that guy. We sure did like him. He was a character. He used to talk a lot with his hands. Oh, everybody liked him.
Elaine: What about church?
Jean: Oh, at that time, nobody went to church. See, they didn't have any church in the camps and they'd very seldom . . . the only time they'd come to town was on payday and then they'd go and celebrate and buy groceries and very few people went to church from the camps.
Elaine: So how did the kids, before confirmation, did they go in for lessons or something?
Jean: Well, when the kid got a certain age, you brought him and they'd have this confirmation. Well, you'd just bring them down. They wouldn't even take any lessons or nothing. You just bring them down and they'd confirm them. But now, it's different. It's stricter now. They got to know something about the religion. My son was always a religious boy. He was always a religious boy. I don't know where he got it, because neither one of us were very religious, but he was. In fact, he wanted to join the priesthood and he took two years. He went for two years to the priesthood and then he got phlebitis. He got sick and he had to quit. He come home. I says, 'Leo, you come home and rest and we'll take you to a doctor, then when you start feeling better, you can go back.' He came home and he got better, but he never did go back. He started going with his old girlfriend again and she . . . they got married.
Elaine: What was her family?
Jean: They were Germans. Stump. She was a Stump. A nice girl and she's as religious as he is. They're both the same.
Elaine: Was her family upset that she was marrying an Italian?
Jean: Oh, no. They thought it was wonderful, because my son was 39 and she was 29. Well, there's nine years difference between my son and her, and her family was wondering if she was ever going to get married. They liked her. And Leo, they liked my son Leo.
Elaine: So, all those children in that picture are your grandchildren?
Jean: Yes. In fact, when they got married they lived in Minnesota. We went back there to the wedding. They had a very nice wedding for them. They were farmers and real nice farmers they were. She comes from a family of 10 children and they all own farms in Minnesota. They're all farmers and she come to Denver . . . her and her sister come to Denver to work. That's where my son met her. When he was in Denver. My son didn't stay around here very long when he grew up. He went the big cities to work.
Elaine: A lot of the kids do. There's nothing for them here.
Jean: He started going to college and then in the summertime, he'd find a job in the big city. He didn't stay around here very much.
Elaine: When he was laid off in the mines in the summertime, so he'd spend most of the time with the men?
Jean: Yeah, and play cards and throw this bocce, you know. He really had a nicer life than I had because he'd get out among the men and I'd stay home. You couldn't very well follow them, because they'd get a bunch together and play maybe all afternoon.
Elaine: And the women would just stay home.
Jean: Stayed home, yeah. And then we women would get together.
Elaine: Not too different from today.
Jean: Yeah, that's right.
Elaine: So were the foods that you ate, the same that your mother cooked for you.
Jean: Yeah, the same. Even now, I cook that way. I don't . . . I cook like my mother used to cook. Now, at night, it's mostly soup . . . soup and a salad and maybe some leftover stew. We have a big dinner at noon and then at night it's mostly soup. That's what he wants is soup at night. Something like that.
Elaine: Well, it's got to be working, because you look wonderful. So do you make your own spaghetti sauce in the summertime?
Jean: Yeah, we make our own spaghetti sauce. Well, today when my son was here, I made my. . .they call it pasta shuta and you make your own homemade noodles and your own sauce and then you spread it on . . . just like spaghetti, only it's homemade noodles, sort of a lasagna.
Elaine: So you make your own pasta?
Jean: Yeah. Mostly we make that.
Elaine: I can't think of anything to . . .
Jean: Oh, you know, when we lived out in the town, now, you might be thinking our married life was all milk and honey, but it wasn't. We had our ups and downs too. Our ups and downs came more when we moved to town then they did when we were out in the camps. You know, our ups and downs.
Elaine: Are Italian men as jealous as they're supposed to be?
Jean: No. I wished he was. No, he wasn't, never. Never was.
Elaine: So, there wasn't all that trouble they always . . . they always say Italian men are so jealous.
Jean: No, um-um. No. Well, he didn't have nothing to be jealous about. Never did. That was one trouble we never had.
Elaine: Does the family still get together, I mean your . . . the Ugolinis.
Jean: Yes, we still do. Now, I got my sister right there. I live on six; she lives on seven.
Elaine: Minnie Ugolini?
Jean: Minnie's my sister-in-law. She married my brother.
Elaine: And who is your sister? What is her name?
Jean: Rose Bellotti. She lives on Seventh Street. Then I had a sister before she passed away, she lived on Eighth Street and I lived on Sixth and my other sister lived on Seventh. She had five children and she's the oldest. She was sixteen years older than we were because they brought her from Italy. She had five children and all her children passed away before she did. They all passed away, so after she was left alone, well I was down there all the time, at her house. I'd drive and I'd take her here and I'd take her there, take her all over. She just lived a year after her oldest daughter passed away, and after her oldest daughter passed away, it looked like she just give up. She was a seamstress. She was a beautiful seamstress and then this sister that lives on Seventh Street there, we're twins. Her and I are twins. We'll be 80 years old in November.
Elaine: What was that like growing up as twins?
Jean: Oh, see, she was always . . . she took after my father's side of the family and she was fat. My dad was chunky. I took more after my mother's side of the family. I was dark and she was red-head like my dad, and I was dark like my mother and I was skinny like my mother was you know. But as we grew older now, I'm getting to look more like her, the resemblance, her and I.
Elaine: Was her husband a miner too?
Jean: Yes, in fact, her husband and my husband; they were buddies in the mine. They always worked together. They called them buddies when they work together. In Alamo, they always worked together in the mine. And I'm the luckiest one, because her husband passed away and my sister and her family passed away. Him and I were 60 years married . . . we'll be married 60 years next February 22.
Elaine: How did he court you?
Jean: Oh, he used to come down there and my dad used to deliver groceries in the camps and vegetables and a lot of people that owed him money, would come down there and pay their bills and he sort of took these miners under his wing and they'd give him the money to bank for them, you know. They'd give him money at the bank and there would be a lot of them coming down there to pay bills and all that. They'd stop and visit and a lot of them wanted to go with me and my sister but I never like none of them. He used to come down too. He used to come down and visit and I wouldn't pay much attention to him. Finally one day my mother said, she says, 'you know of all the men that come down here to pay bills and visit and all that, I like that man the best.' So I says, 'Well, he is kind of a nice man.' So, we started going together.
Elaine: But I want to hear how he courted you, how he . . .
Jean: He used to come down there at the farm, so I started going with him. I really fell in love with him. He'd come on down but, of course, my dad was kind of old fashioned and these fellows that he used to deposit money in the bank for, well, he knew how much money they had in the bank, so he would have liked us to marry . . . well, maybe they had two or three thousand dollars in the bank, and he thought that was a lot of money. He'd rather we marry one of them with a lot of money, and he didn't know how much he had and he had money saved up too, but he deposited his own money. My dad didn't know about it. So, he used to come down and we wanted to get married the first year he was going with me and he'd ask my dad and my dad would say, 'Oh, she's too young. She can't get married. She's too young.' So, we'd keep putting it off and then the next year, he'd ask him again and he says, 'Well we got a lot of work on the farm; she can't get married now.' Well, the next time, we waited until winter time when there wasn't no farm work to do to ask him and we just told him, 'Well, we're going to get married this certain day.' So we did.
Elaine: What did he say then?
Jean: I don't know. He was kind of funny. He hated to lose his daughters. He wanted them to stay there and help on the farm and but he couldn't do nothing about it. We just wanted to get married. It was three years. We asked him three times.
Elaine: What did your mother say to you?
Jean: She always left everything up to him. She wouldn't say anything. She just let everything up to him. She was easy to get along with. She left everything up to my dad, and if we wanted to get married, she thought it was alright.
Elaine: What kind of a wedding did you have?
Jean: We didn't have nothing. We just went to church here and got married and then we went on a honeymoon to Denver and I thought I was going outside of the U.S. to go to Denver. I thought it was so far, so far away from home. We stayed in Denver one week and then we come back and they were still on strike.
Elaine: So, did your father . . . was he kind of, did he give his permission in the end, or . . .
Jean: Well, he had to, but he would rather not.
Elaine: But you didn't make a big wedding.
Jean: No, we had a little breakfast in the morning and then we got on the . . . there used to be the train, the passenger train, and we got on that and went to Denver on our honeymoon. Then, when we were in Denver, they used to have shows there a lot. There was a little theater that had a show every afternoon. I think it was 50 cents to see this movie. We'd go there every afternoon to this in person. It was nice. When we got to Denver, they had this electric building in Denver where we walked up the street and we come up to . . . I think it was 17th Street, this electric building and, oh, them lights were beautiful. We had never seen such beautiful lights and then the theater with those neon signs and all those bright light. We had never seen anything like that, so bright, and we couldn't get over it.
Elaine: When . . . you say, you were going with him, what did that mean? Did he come and he have to come to the house and take you to the dance once a week. Is that how it was?
Jean: Oh, yes. He'd come down; him and my sister's husband would come together on Saturday night and they'd come down there and they'd have to come in the kitchen and sit down and visit with the family and then when my dad would get tired, he'd go to bed and my mother would go to bed and they'd just stay in the kitchen there and visit and then after it got late, they'd go home. But they always came and visited.
Elaine: So you did go to dances too.
Jean: And then when there was a dance, they'd ask my mother and dad if we could go. My dad would kind of grumble but he'd let us go. My mother would say, 'Now, you got to be home at a certain time.' And by gosh, we'd be home at that time.
Elaine: How did you get there? In a wagon?
Jean: Oh, they had a little Model T. It was the time when the Model T Fords come out and my sister's husband had a little Model T. He'd come and pick us up.
Elaine: Which dance hall was closest to your house?
Jean: Well, in Toltec here and sometime in the camps, you know, at Rouse. The camps, it was mostly the camps that had dances at that time. We'd go in the camps. At Cameron, or Rouse or Toltec. Sometimes my mother would come with us. When she'd come with us, well, we'd stay longer.
Elaine: Did she ever dance?
Jean: You know, my mother was a . . . we used to have dances in the house down there and she was a good dancer. She danced the jig, you know, like the Irish do, you know that jig. Her and another man that knew how to dance, they'd get together and dance the Irish jig. She danced that. She was good at that. But she wouldn't dance out at the camps. We had little doings in the house; then she'd dance. Oh, there was nice times.
Back to the Oral Interviews Main Page
Return to the Huerfano County Home Page
© Karen Mitchell