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Contributed by Karen Mitchell Interviewed by Rosalyn McCain Grace Penne, born 10-8-1894 Parents - Joseph Elmer Morris and Rebecca Ellen Houver Paternal grandparents - Jim Morris and Mary Barton Maternal grandparents - Elmer Houver and Rebecca Hushaw Ethinc group - German, Pennsylvania Dutch Family origin - Isabell, Kansas Date of family arrival in County - 1927 Location of first family settlement - Indian Creek Ranch
GP: We bought our place from Mrs. Minnie Carson. We bought 2500 acres,
and we got around five hundred head of cattle for the deal, and I just loved
all of my neighbors and we'd eat back and forth. I never had a quarrel with
RM: That's the way it should be.
GP: And the law was the same as it is today. I don't believe in this city
high class stuff where they have to poke them and knock them over too, I
always say corral them. But Chico Greigo was one of our policeman, a
Spanish boy. He helped us out on the ranch. If they needed him, why they
had him in there as a marshall. But I never did see him with a gun. He
would stand on Main street on the 4th of July or any time of a celebration,
and kids respected him, and he still is respected today. And I went to
school in the early days in Kansas. I wras born at Isabel, Kansas, and the
school house was a dugout in my father's pasture. He had a general merchandise
store, sold everything from yard goods to plows and wagons, harnesses and
everything. And the school house was about a quarter of a mile from my
father's store. And a girl that was 6 months older then I, we would sneek
off at recess, go into town, and I would go behind the counter and fill my
pockets in my dresses with candy and sen sen especially. And the teacher
was going to put me in a barrel of sand and they had on the old coal stove
they were going to put my friend in and I looked over at my big brother and
he nodded his head that nothing doing. And so there was entertainment at
the box suppers. That's about all and ice cream socials that we had at
Franklin School House for Sunday School. My mother had a team of white
horses and she would take us touring and we'd go to Franklin School House
for Sunday School and Church. And their children weren't brought up any
different then they are today. I like the kids of today as much as I did
then. There's nothing the matter with them. It's the parents. They better
stay at home with their kids.
RM: And what chores did the children do?
GP: Well, I went home and changed my clothes every night and brought in my
mother's coal and kindling and fed the chickens. We had ten acres. Right
after my father died we moved into town, and she got ten acres. We had a
big orchard. Until the trees got big, why, we planted our own potatoes we
baked. We'd have a cellar full of potatoes, krout, pickled grapes and every-
thing. And the people chose their married partner just like they do today,
and it will always be that way.
Well I can remember I was just a little girl but my mother was a
Republican. McKinley, I remember when he was assassinated. And then Carrie
Nation. That was her home town. She had been born in Missouri. She'd
married a drunkard and so my father-in-law had known her in Missouri and
so she went and divorced her drunkerd husband, and she married a minister.
He was Captain David Nation, the minister of the Christian Church there at
home. She stood on the streets and would sell lovely little hatchets with
a little imitation diamond for a whole ten cents. She had broke up the
first saloon in Kiowa. That was 13 miles to the south of us. The she
started in Medicine lodge, and then she started in Wichita. I supposed the
Republican party was the political leader at that time, cause the Republican
candidate was the president. And were there any outlaws in the early days,
yes. There's a man that used to drive our bus back, from Dodge City into
our home town and his name was Bill Horn and a little short guy and he
worked for Jim Gano, Jim Gano was the sheriff. I remember that Carrie Nation
came in on the train one day, and he met the train with his little bus he
had to carry people, and she snatched a cigar out of his mouth and he up and
slapped her, give her a good kick, and they put him in jail. And we used to
go to Dodge City a lot of times and we'd eat at the Dodge house. That was
after I was married. We lived in Syracuse. They came up from Texas and we
bought a hundred quarters of land in Kearney and Hamilton county. So we
went down to Dodge and did our trading, did our banking there with George
Doogan. During the depression people just wanted to do with less and share
a little bit more. I was post master at the time of the worst depression.
And the box cars and the flat cars would go through La Veta here and they
would be loaded with men, women and children maybe sixty or seventy. And so
they would take and come up town and say, "Please lady, just a nickle for
a cup of coffee or a hamburger." And I sent one guy up here to cut some wood
one day and I thought I'd just try him out. Well, he did cut my wood and
I fed him. I'd go out to the ranch. That was out by Indian Butte and there
would be five or six from Harlon, Kentucky out there. They'd come in on the
railroad back of our pasture, walk down to the house, and they'd say, "Lady,
we got to have us something to eat. And we have to sleep in your hay mound.”
And I knew better then to dispute them because, you know, they could burn you
out. And I'd say, "Boys, the main thing is, be careful of fire. I'm sorry
I can't sleep you in the house." There's a bunk house where we had four or
five hired hands. And I'd always let them go out and sleep in the hay mound,
and there was one fellow that stayed with us several months, worked for us
then by the month. And there was entertainment sure there would be box
suppers and we'd have parties and make pies and play cards all evening for a
whole quarter. They made money that way.
RM: Were there dances?
GP: Yes, we used to have an awful lot of square dances. The square dances
were up on the upstairs of the Kincaid hall. Where the liquor store is on
the corner now. And we'd go up there, and Sulfur Springs had a beautiful
dance hall. Ray and Cornellia Coleman, he had been post master before I,
and so they had fixed up the hall up there, and there's a sulfur spring up
there, and a bath house. People would go up there and take baths. And we
would go up there in the night, Saturday night is when they'd dance. And
the automobiles would he a mile down the road. Parked.
RM: Did he do the calling?
GP: No Jim Falk used to do an awful lot of our calling. He's dead now, but
he's Fred Falks father. Lives down here on a ranch and where did they stay?
Oh, they had a home. They always managed to have a place to stay, the ones
that where here. And the people had it hard, yes. But at the same time in
that depression, I think it was a good lesson. That those people they
could do on less. And World War II, I remember the first war one, and World
War II, so many of our boys went from La Veta. And we had one boy in particu-
lar that they called Jr. Mestas and his father was our county accessor at
the court house and there never could be a sign out here on the highway that
he didn't shoot it out or something like that. But when he went to war, he
had a machine gun, and he held the enemy off until all his regement got
away, and he was killed and that's why they now named Mount Baldy over here
Mount Mestas named after this boy. And I used to ride horse back over to
Silver Mountain. We had 1200 acres over there and take salt to the cattle,
and we'd always go by the Maestas' and, clean as they could be. My you
could eat off their floor, and they were lovely people and they all turned
out to be school teachers, nurses, or something that amounted to something.
And it says here did you ever hear of the Indians? Well, I did when I was
a kid in Kansas. We was only 18 miles from the line of the territory of
Oklahoma. And they used to come up Medicine Creek and stay there for months
and dig roots and herbs and doctor the sick. And I'd go, we'd drive by
there, and they'd come out to the car, you know, and try to talk to us.
They'd give us jerky. And I remember my little girl was just a few, oh,
maybe two years old or so and they offered her jerky covered with black
pepper and she chewed on it and loved it. And I remember the Indians. Then
they started an Indian peace treaty, and so they had just a perfect ampi-
theater out there in the hill side and they put up an awful lot of benches,
seats like a circus, and they have, now I think every five years, they have
an Indian peace treaty there at home in Kansas. And the Indians the govern-
met robbed them of their, well they give them the poorest land there was,
and when they hit oil, then they took it away from them. And My brother
lived in Arkansas City, he was fuel supervisor of the middle division of
Santa Fe and he'd always laugh about the Indian. He'd get so drunk and get
in his cadillac, they bought cadillacs for their money, and he'd say bridge
come to meet me, and he'd run into the bridges. Break them up. And farming
was done just like it is today only with mules and horses. There was no
tractors, but they had good old mules.
RM: How much did it take to support a family?
GP: Well, let me tell you, we always paid a nickle a loaf for bread if we
bought bread. I had a mother that was very conservative. She was a registered
nurse, and she had us kids, and she was a widow woman and so she would make
maybe 10 or 12 loaves of bread at a time. And I went to Texas and it was
sour dough bread every day. You can't keep hired help down there if you
don't give them hot bread. You've got to feed them hot bread. And oh my
father was one of the first that went and raised wheat in that country in
Kansas, and before I was born he made the run to Oklahoma. That's when
they went down there to homestead when it was the territory. And I was
down at Sawyer Kansas. I have a nephew that lives south of Croft, and he
has 1800 acres of wheat and a lot of cattle, and we went down to the little
town of Sawyer. I was born just about six miles from there at Isabell. You
know when I was down there the man in the hardware store said, well, my
nephew introduced me, told him who I was, and he said, "Well, I knew your
father," and he gave me a pamphlet. They have a homecoming and it gave the
history. I still have that, and it says that he was one that made the run
to Oklahoma. That's where I was born. What tools clothes or tools. Well,
my mother made beautiful gingham, calico with four or five cents a yard.
And that's one that we did. Momma could sew. Oh, she made beautiful things
out of linen, five cents a yard, tucked and lace.
RM: Did she make it just for your family or to sell also?
GP: No, she was nurse, and she made lots of quilts. She quilted at night,
Things like that. And we raised lots of peanuts, and I'd sit underneath
her quilt and shell them out and feed her while she'd sit there and quilt.
And we had a windmill in our yard, and she had a big galvanized tank in the
tower, and that's what watered our yard. We didn't have city water at that
time. And it was a good system. Yes, it sure was. We never had no city
water, and then when they did put in the city water, then, of course, we had
it put in. And my father he had, oh, at least a section or two sections of
land up there at Isabell, and they homesteaded their land and bought up
relinguishments, people that would get up and leave. And they never did loose
it. They kept it. What where the dangers of frontier life? I never feared
anything when I was a child. We had beautiful ranchers and we where all
friends. The girls on these ranches would come in and stay two weeks with
my sister and I. And the two would come in, there's one in particular I
visited in Kansas two years ago, Edith McGrath. When my brother was 18, my
oldest brother, he taught school out there. His pupils were older than he
was. And he rode horse back, a bronc. He'd go out there in the hills they
called them, 25 miles from town and they just thought there was no one like
my brother Dan. And so we didn't have mines they had a Gyp quary up at
Belvadere, and they mind that Gyp rock and that and shipped it down. They
had a big Gypsum mine and I don't know of any danger that there was. I never
heard unless they did get that gyp in on their lungs, cause later in the
years I was down there, and I visited some people, and he had died with
emphysema and he thought he got it out of that Gyp mine. But I never had
anyone ever in our family that ever mined never. They were all ranchers
and cattlemen. And then when I came here to Colorado, I've been here fifty-
one years, why, of course, I heard of different mine accidents and I went
over to see the Ludlow monument and different things. Then Kate Gross here
that bought the hospital over the hotel, why she had two brother-in-laws
killed in one day from explosions at the Oakview mine up here. The miners
they where just like any man to me. They were gentlemen. And I wasn't here
very long until I was appointed post master under Roosevelt. I had three
terms and then a little over, and I liked them all. I don't remember the
Indian songs but I'd say what advice would you give to these young people of
today? Well, I'd tell them that, go to school. Get your education. You
never know when you're going to need it. And then get out on your own. Don't
stay at home and let your father and mother support you. And get a job.
Make up your mind what you want to be. You can be anything you want to be.
You really can. And I bought this place. I had Indian Creek Ranch out here.
And in 1929 the ranger lived here. And it was run down it had a old square
top house. Oh, it had, I had four roofs on this house at the plaza here.
This is called the old Francisco Plaza. And there was Daigres and Vasquez
and Francisco. Francisco, an old bachelor, and so they rented it, and a
stranger, an old man from England bought it, and then he sold it to his son-
in-law, who was Carl Gilbert, the ranger. And I bought it from Carl. He
had a heart attack and had to leave here. And so I got a brother of mine
that was a good contractor and builder in Kansas to come out and I just built
on a little bit. It's the same old adobe that was here in 1852. This was
built in 1852. And then in my yard out here I have a monument put there put
there by the DAR's and, it says that the first water well in La Veta 1862,
that it was ten years that the women here would carry water from the Creek.
That's why they put the adobe wall all around this whole block. They made
it so wide that men with rifles could walk because the Indians they camped
over here, and they'd steal our white women. So by them stealing our white
Women why the men watched for the women to go over and get the water, and
that's the way they did it. One of my assistant post masters, her mother
was a Hamilton, and her sister was married to a Fransico, not the one that
was here, but his brother. She told me the day they name in here from St.
Louis with a load that they had burros, they had mules, they had everything
to drive. And they came through the one opening over here where that yoke
is. It should hang there now. Ranger Gilbert put it up and they put it
down this frame to get the load under there and haven't put it back up. Why,
the daughters of the American Revolution put that monument out here in my
yard. And they wanted to move it over in front of the store, the museum, and
I said, "No, this is on my deeded property, and this is the first water well
site, and it stays." And I have a beautiful rock garden out there. So many
would bring me beautiful rocks. And you know they'd come by and say who's
buried there. Well, you know, my husband he liked to joke, and he'd say,
"Buffalo Bill," and I got so tired of cleaning the grass and everything, and
he hauled it away one day all those beautiful rocks which I wished we hadn't
done. But I got this in 1929, and up in that tree you'll see a big dinner
bell. When I went in the post office, why, Oakview and Ojo was open mines,
and they had about six or seven hundred people living at each mine, and also
at North Veta they had a two story adobe. And they had a post office down
there, and George, he was the post master, and so I had North Veta, Oakview,
Ojo, Cuchara Camps, and my own post office to look after, and keep track,
and I'd inspect the routes and go out with my mail carriers. And the Capps'
they, oh, they been here for years and years and years. The Vorhies' had
too. Well, she had been one of the first post masters here, Mrs. Vorhies
Benton's mother. And so Alan Rouse, the county commissioner, came in the
post office one day and said, "Grace, it's up to you to go down and tell
Edna Vorhies that her husband was just run into out here on the highway by
the county barn and really he's dead, but we don't want her to know it."
And his brother was Gene Vorhies. He was post master in Walsenburg, and
had married a Capps. That Sam Capps, he owns thousands and thousands of
acres of land, and now they're drilling for gas and oil down there, the
Continental Oil Company. So I think they should let them pulverize this
coal, and use the water out of these old mines it's no good what so ever
to anybody, and flush that down to Texas and Arizona and places where they
need coal and let them burn it. And we always had plenty of fish in our
Cucharas River, but the Texas people started to come in here, and they d
watch for the fish wagon to go up the Cucharas. We had a family here that
had been here for years, the Gross' and the Ghiarhis. Min Ghiardi was Clerk
of the district court for thirty five years under Judge Mobry. He would
get up under the bridge by Charlie Galassini and the women, he'd pull their
line, and they'd think they had a fish. And they'd hollar, and he'd laugh
how he fooled them women from getting the fish. But it's a shame to go up
and get those soft little fish just as soon as they're taken out of the
hatchery. But I don't know. I've always liked all the people here. The
little Mexicans, they call me Gracie, and I go down town, the old Spanish
men they always bow. And my husband would say, "Well now, you've seen all
your old sweeties. Are you ready to go out to the ranch, mother?" I'd
say, "Yes, lets go." I loved the people, and last Sunday I was up here on
the top of the hill to eat dinner, with my nephew I hadn't seen for thirty-
one years and the other one. They were working with the Douglas aircraft
for oh, for years and years and years. One lost a lot of money, and he was
an official. And they were here last week on their way to Indiana, Illinois,
and we met up there to eat. And I saw someone hollared, "Hello, Gracie.”
And I couldn't make out who it was. It was Mike Maxwell. He hurt his arm
on construction, and he put this new road through here forty years ago. He
and Ollie Johnson and some of them. He married Rose, who was one of the
girls that worked in the Silver Dollar next door to me. And so every morning
or so here they'd come with a pancake, bacon and egg, and a cup of coffee
for my little girl. Helen McLaughlin, my assistant post master. She worked
eight years for me. And so I was so glad to see them these folks, kids that
I knew fourty years ago. When we bought this house next door, we kept it
for a long time. Govenor Walter Johnson's neice and nephew lived there three
or four years. We would lease it to people, and oh, you never could keep the
sewer line clean. We'd find diapers in their line going out to the main. So
we sold it to Emma Cruz, John had gone to school with her daddy, and the
grandfather was an Englishman, had a long white beard. John said, "Well
they were good people." Her husband was killed, and she got forty thousand
dollars, so she divided it with her four kids, and then she bought the house
for her own. I'll tell you my neighbors here they didn't like me for quite
awhile, because I got a Spanish family in the neighborhood. But I've never
had any better neighbors than that they are.
RM: I met Emma over here at your house about four years ago and she really
is a wonderful person.
GP: yes, I like them all. Her son-in-law is Fardello, and he's the best
mechanic on cars or anything. When my machine went hay wire, my washer, he
came over and took it apart, ordered it and brought it over, put it in for
me.. That's the kind of neighbors I have. Yesterday I had a boy that worked
for me out on Indian Creek, and he was sixteen when he came, and then he
went away and got married at nineteen, and he went to Pagosa Springs and
married a girl. And he went over there, and she had a bad stroke and now
they moved back to town and he's retired from being a ranger. So he seen
that I needed some help in my yard, and he's the one that came and cut that
big tall grass for me yesterday. Very little that I have to pay for. They
come here and help me. I don't believe in destruction of food or property.
I don't believe that parents stay home with their kids like they should. I
know so many little kids that need just a little bit of love.
RM: So how many years did you live on the ranch here?
GP: Oh, about 14 years. On Indian Creek.
RM: Low much land did you have there?
GP: 2500 acres.
RM: And how many head of cattle did you have?
GP: About five hundred. And talk about the depression, those cows were
all registered and weighed about 1250 pounds, beautiful. And you know, that
in just a short time when that depression came, you know they went down to
ten and twelve dollars. They wouldn't even pay the freight to Denver. And
I bought up some milk cows from my mailcarrier, Mrs. Vernon, lived up on
the Cucharas road. And I said, "Well, we've got milk and cream, eggs and
butter. "Why I'd raise a thousand chickens every year, to eat, never sold
RM: Is that right?
GP: That's right. And I always had a big lovely garden.
RM: What kind of things did you grow?
GP: Oh I had a beautiful strawberry bed, and I raised tomatoes, everything,
cabbage. And one time I sent a sixteen pound head of cauliflower to Witchata
Kansas as a gift. I got a big cauliflower. It weighed sixteen pounds. And
I canned. Every year I'd put away about eight hundred quarts of vegetables
canned. And when I went to hull my peas I used my washing machine ringer.
You put the pea pod that comes off of the pea pod through first the ringer
and then I let them fall into the washing machine and I'd can peas by the
quarts. I never did have any luck with mush melons or cantalope, I mean
water melons, I tried it.
Wasn't long enough season. But our county agent had em here in town,
and I've seen beautiful tomatoes that Phil Miles raised. He was our county
agent for about twenty years. I'd take my noon hours from the post office.
I had twenty-seven girls that I taught cooking too. And we'd go to their
homes. They couldn't go to my house because it's too far, so we'd go to
their homes by noon hour, and we'd make bread and cookies, cakes and every-
thing. I sent more girls to the state fair than Walsenburg did.
RM: Is that right?
GP. I did. Not very long ago there's a women that came to my front door
and she said, "Grace, you don't remember me. I m a grown woman, and I'm the
oldest, I was a Brummitt girl, and I've been in Arkansas, and I saw a salt
dip, and I know you have about a hundred salt dips, and I brought this one to
you." And I thought that was so sweet of her to remember me. Well the girls
didn't have money to go to the state fair, and I went around town and asked
the merchants. I only had one man that turned me down. And that was the
Electric Light Company. And I went to the depot, and that old Daddy Williams,
he had two girls, two granddaughters, in my class and he gave me I think, it
was three one dollar bills. I went, and some of them gave me a quarter, dime
what ever it was. It was hard but I got them girls to go to Camp Crockett,
and they stayed for three days and nights, and they sure was proud of their
gifts and prizes. They were. And I was proud of them.
RM: And how long were you post mistress?
GP: I was in there for fifteen years.
RM: Fifteen years. Now the whole fifteen years were there all these small
post offices around?
GP: No, in times the mines closed. Then we put on star routes that went to
Oakview and Ojo and Cuchara Camps. They would go every other day and then
later on when the war was over why they gave me a rural route and Jimmy
Ghiardi, they had put him up for it, and he carried the mail, the rural mail,
but he never had been to war. There was a war veteran that wanted it, and
he went in after it and got it, Otto Drum. And then he retired, and now they
have different ones. I still had to send mail up to Cuchara three times a
week and then when the inspector, he was a cousin of Katherine Hepburn, and
he would carry her picture in his pocket. Going up Red Hill. it wasn't
graveled or nothing, and one time he jumped out of the car and began to
push to keep it from going over the mountain. I said, "Oh, Mr. Stanley,
don't worry about that. It's all right.” And I'd take him up to inspect the
post office, but I still had to furnish then their money orders, and they'd
take applications and send them to me to make them out and send them in to
my mail carriers.
RM: Was the post office in the same place as it is now?
GP: No. They tell me that when they first started the post office in the
1860's when the Indians was here, they came up our alley out here in from of
my plaza right up that road, Narrow guage. And when we was on Main Street
next door to the Silver Dollar, and it was there for a number of years. Then
we moved across the street. The wind was so bad in the west. It would just
blow. Then the post office was robbed one night. And they called me up out
at Indian Creek Ranch. The Mayor did, and he said, "Grace they have robbed
your post office and set fire to it." And I said, "I'd be right there."
Well, I jumped in a pair of shoes and my fur coat over my PJ's, and I came
To town, and Carl Swift was sheriff, and he said, "Grace, have you any idea
who did this?" Well, I said, "let me look at my COD packages. I've had a
family coming in here for oh, ninety dollars or more and I think I can see."
Now they was gone all right. That's what they was after they come in the
office every day. Well, I'll get that package out, you know, and asking
about it. It happened his wife's cousin, she was a Vigil. It was Arnoldo
Vigil that did the robbing, and he'd already set fire to Bruno Martinez
that lived back down of the Howard Lumber Company and tried to burn him up,
and he crawled out and identified him and he'd been in trouble and awfully
lot. And so this Carl Swift was a lovely person, and his wife was too.
So, I said, "If you'll go up to Arnoldo Vigil's, you'll find out I bet
he's up. It was about two o'clock in the morning. The we went up there .
His mother was dressed and came to the door. He said, "Where's Arnoldo?"
"Asleep in the bed." We went in there, and jerked the covers off him, and
there he laid with his shoes on. And they found my mail bags in their
toilets nailed up underneath the seats. But we never did recover the goods.
And they tried to roll my big safe out of the back door, and the floor give
away. They couldn't go any further with it. That's all that saved the
money and the postage and everything, money orders, had them by the hundreds
stacked up and numbered. And so Swift deputized me as a sheriff, a deputy
sheriff, up here and they brought me in a great big six shooter like they had
in the early days. And I kept it in my drawer where my money orders and money
was. Now, he says, "You'll have trouble because we think they're the ones
that stole the mail and rode out of Oakview up there one time." And he said,
"If they come in, let them have it, if they come demanding anything. But
they never did. But I was deputy sheriff up here. And I'm still not afraid.
I have plenty of protection, and I know how to use my guns. I shot many a
deer, antelope. We had about eighty come in and eat with our cattle in
Texas, as we'd put out the cottenseed cake. My husband broke his arm down
there pulling a steer out of a mud hole, and I had to take him ninty miles
to a doctor in Lubbock, to get it set. I've lived on the frontier and worked
hardships, no coal, no wood. I had a wonderful life.
RM: Were you glad that you ended up in La Veta?
GP: Oh, I wouldn't leave La Veta. You know, I've been offered a huge price
for this because it is historical, and I have a big yard here. It would
make a lovely nursing home. And our commissioner, Wallace Smith, his wife
was our county nurse at one time. They're both dead now. But I was Chairman
of the Democratic Party and I nominated him as county commissioner. And he
won it. And you know, when I came in here and I saw where these creeks had
water, and I thought of all them big wind mills in Texas three hundred feet
deep. I'd get up on the tower and hold this big ladder and they would pull
in 300 feet of sucker rod. They'd break their bolts to get down into the
cylinder when we didn't have pump water. And I said, "Well, here we have
wood and the cows, don't have to chop the wood here, and we don't have to
pump water, and I loved it. I think, this must be God's Beulah land. To
me it's the most beautiful valley, and I had a friend here visiting that
lived at Santa Rosa California. Her husband, Smith, was a United States
Senator from Pennsylvania, and he died, and he was the only son of Smith
that invented the Oliver Plow. And she went to California with five million
dollars and her colored chauffeur and a Cadillac, and she had the Wickie
Up Ranch and it was the most beautiful thing. It had eight houses on it, and
when my son-in-law had to go to war as a soldier, he was a Seargent-Mayor of
personnel there. Why the government, she had a barn that cost over eighty
thousand. It had hammered brass hinges, latches, a big lovely apartment
seperate in the hay loft. And so the government leased her barn and had a
big race track around it. The stallion, they paid eighty some thousand for
it and so they tore out the stalls, and they made a place for the boys
barracks, because they were all dying of pnuemonia, And she liked my son-
in-law very much, Norman Hey, and so she says, "Are you married?" And he
said, "Yes, I am," "Well," she said, "I'd like to meet your wife." "Well,"
he said, "we'll be out." She fell in love with Leora. She never had
children so Helen Smith, she had a brother, and he'd been married, but he
never got along with his sweetie. And he was so well-known that he even
entertained Prince Edward. Yes, of England and she had scrap books there
showing his picture and everything and how they entertained a thousand
people, had leis sent there from Hawaii. Well, really he just about broke
her. She had to sell a lot of her diamonds and things and she came to
Colorado Springs, when my children moved up there, and she stayed three
months with them. And they brought her down here, and she stayed, oh,
two or three weeks, and we went over to the San Luis Valley and visited the
Russels. He was a ranger. He used to be here, but they lived at Pagosa
Springs, and when we got there that night they said, "well, we're having a
big party in Durango tonight, and we're going to all go in for supper and to
a big play that the college students are putting on." And so I went and Ray,
Mrs. Russel, her father had gone to school with these kids in Kansas so they
felt they just owned us here in La Veta then they came, and we put the
coffee pot on and steaks. And if he was a ranger and if he found a nice lot
of heavy wood, he'd throw it on his truck, have the boys bring it to my John.
And we had a stack of wood out here, oh, a hundred and twenty-five feet long
and twelve feet wide and thick. And people would stop here. They'd say,
"Do you want to sell some wood?" And he'd say, "No." And when he went away,
he died with a heart attack, why before that he'd say, "Mother, I hope that
you always have wood when I'm gone." Because we lost so many out of that
family that year of heart trouble.
RM: Is that right, in one year?
GP: Yes, it was Dr. Burnelli, Charles, he was a dentist in Walsenburg. And
then he had two brothers that died. And Lucy was John's sister, and Betty
up here. Our nephew Lawrence, he died and we lost thirteen in all. In just
a little over a year.
RM: When was that?
GP: Well John died in 1971. I found him in here in 1971. November 3, he
died. But everybody that ever came here loved it and has always come back.
And you know, the kids of today they're coming back here. They really are.
This Luther Bruce that was a ranger over there at Pagosa with Ray Russel,
he's back here now. And he's got a little three room house, and he says,
"You know Grace, I think I'll put me in a good one of those new wood stoves
and I've got a fire place and the children have died and are married and
that's just where Mildred and I are going to end our days." And I knew his
father, Jack Bruce. He was the foreman for the Campbell ranch down here
years ago, and I rented my post office building from him, lovely old man.
No. I've never lacked for good neighbors and lots of good friends. I think
everybody loves each other. I really do. There's a few that.... but you
know, leave them alone. Just leave them alone. When my boys from La Veta
went to war. I was post master, and I would take them and give them a pack
of postal cards, fifty one cent postal cards and stamps. and they'd always
write to me. And one boy that was lost over at Keywest Florida, and his body
was never recovered, why I had a card from him just a day or two before this
happened and he wanted to know he said now he was located, and I could send
that chocolate cake to him. That poor kid, the sharks got him out there.
My father used to go to Florida for thirty years for his health. He had a
little, oh, I don't know, he thought it as asthma, but I just think he
liked Florida. The boys, they run the ranch and so that was it. And we'd
go down there and visit every winter for two or three months. I'll tell
you, Western Kansas blew away with the dust storms, and it will do it again
if this wind keeps up. When I was out on Indian Creek, so many of them
would come out. I had one neighbor in particular. She was an orphan girl
and she had two girls and two boys and she'd bring the girls and stay two
weeks and go home and try to manage. And then her husband and two boys
would come. Well, they are dead now, the father and the mother. But the
oldest boy married Les Woods, daughter a millionaire's daughter in Liberal
Kansas and they live right out of Liberal, about a mile, and then the
oldest girl, her husband was banker of Dodge City and he dropped dead in the
bank. And she was a widow for fourteen years and here in the last three or
four years ago she married the Episcopalion minister that was a roommate of
her husband when they went to college together. And this other girl, her
husband was head of soil conservation from Dodge City to the state line.
And then the youngest, boy he went to war and came home. He was a captain.
He came and stayed two weeks with me before he went home. And then he got
his education through the government, got to be a doctor and he's at Belen,
New Mexico now and a medical doctor and the head of the Santa Fe Railroad,
takes care of all their people, and then he has his private practice. And
I have a neighbor over here who has a sister that goes to him all the time,
and it wasn't long ago that one of my neighbors up the Cucharas was down
there, and his daughter graduated as a nurse in the University of New Mexico.
And so they said their daughter came on the stage and said she was from La
Veta, Colorado and it wasn't very long till she saw this fine looking doctor
coming over there. He said, "Do you know Grace Penne?" And she said,
"Yes, I do.” But he said, "She diapered me when I was a baby." And he wondered
how I was and everything.
RM: Did you ever do nursing yourself? Your mother was a nurse.
GP: Yeah, I took some nursing, yes. And I loved to take care of the sick.
Even when I was in the post office, Doctor Lee, he left here and went to
the Presbyterian Hospital in Denver. Then he had a brother, Paul, that came
in here, and he came from Milwaukee, he and Phoebe, his wife, and then when
they went back to Milwaukee, they had a nephew, Earl, he came, and he was
all right, and then he got cancer, and he died away from here. But they'd
come in the post office and he'd say, Gracie, when you get your mail up,
can you go and put an ammonia jacket on Louie Lujan?" Or a classmate of
Leora's at school he was bleeding from the lungs. Leora came home from the
school one night, and she said, "Oh mother please." "No, I said, I wouldn't
think of going over there without a doctor." And I went down. She kept on.
They lived out here at that first place where Sonny Smith lives as you cross
the river bridge there. And so Daisy, his mother, said, "Oh, please do
something Grace." "No, not unless you get in the car with me. We'll go in
and see the doctor." And he was dead drunk, Dr. Mathews. And so he said,
"Grace," he says, "If you'll put an ammonia jacket on him and fix him up,
please. I'm not fit to.” And I went home and I fixed up my good old
turpentine, lard and Camphor and everything. I got cotton and wool under-
wear, made me an ammonia jacket, and I greased him and he looked up at me and
smiled. In about a half hour he said, "I can breath." And two or three times
they'd get scared, his mother would, and so she'd send in to town to call up
someone. "Please, get Grace out there, "Well, I'd get my mail out as quick
as I could. Then I'd take my car and go.
RM: Were there alot of home remedies like that, that people used?
GP: Oh, you know, not too much. My mother always believed in it, you know,
with pneumonia or something. And we used to use anavalistine so much.
RM: And what is that?
GP: Well, it's a paste that comes in, a tin can, smells like peppermint.
And you heat a woolen cloth and put it on your lungs or something. And
mustard plasters. They used a lot of them. Mrs. Goemmer, Cora Kitchen she
was. She's been dead for fifteen years or more, and she was an old old lady.
Her father worked in the mine up on top of, the gold mine that they had up
here that Parks owned. He was one hundred years old when he died. And he
lived over here in the museum, and Cora Goemmer give me a recipe for mustard
plastor so it would not blister with egg white in it. And I used a lot of
RM: And what would you used that on mostly, for what things?
GP: Oh, pnuemonia. Pnuemonia is very dangerous in a high altitude like this.
RM: And was that one of the diseases that people worried about the most?
GP: Yes, when I came here people were healthy and well, but they should
watch about catching cold in this high altitude.
RM: Were there many heart disease patients?
GP: No, I've never known.
RM: Tensions, strokes?
GP: No, not with this high altitude. If you would get acclimated.
RM: What do you think brought the change to where we are now when so many
people have those things they didn't use to?
GP: Well, I just think it's their way of living. They abuse themselves.
You know, these young kids start out smoking. Well, I'm way up in my
eighties, and I've never smoked cigarettes or pipes or used snuff or nothing
like that. I was raised that way. And I think it's the way they abuse
themselves. If you live a good clean life. When I had an anarism up in
Penrose Hospital up in Colorado Springs, twelve years ago, pretty near
thirteen it is. And Doctor Salata, he was Italian, and his wife, no he was
Yugoslovian, and she was an Italian, and she was his nurse. And he, of
course, they had on X-ray in there and I was on the table for about ten
hours, and they used ten tanks of blood on me the first time. Then I got
blood clots, and they had to go back and have the same thing done over.
And he said, though, he had never seen a woman my age go through two
operations. And he said, it was the most healthy body he had ever examined
in his life. And I believe it's the way they live and they way they eat.
My goodness, I was raised on good old pork, pork side and we'd put away
eight, ten hogs and our beef and pickled grapes in stone jars that we'd
make like pickled peaches. In those days we didn't have to can it. We put
it in five and ten gallon jars and weighed it down. Momma would make fifty
gallons of krout, two or three barrels and put it in the cellar, and we ate.
RM: And it stayed o.k. without canning?
GP: Yes, and it kept. But now a days there's so much bacteria in the air
and filth that, by golly, you have to can everything. You really do. But
those days, why we raised our own pigs, and we'd put them in racks and let
them dry. Then we'd pickle them in a salt brine and bread pan. Of a night
we'd roast them in the oven and pop lots of pop corn and our own potatoes
and we always had a good living. Squash in the cellar and jars of milk and
RM: How would people preserve their meats?
GP: In brine. Now, we'd take hogs and we'd take water and so many pounds
of salt and sugar and red pepper and black pepper and salt pepper. That
makes it good and red, keeps it's color. And we'd put it in big fifty
gallon barrels, and we would cut it and take it out every day, drain it
and reboil it in wash waters on the stove, and skim it off, cool it, put
it back on the meat until we thought it was salty enough to eat. Then
we'd take it and wrap it up and put it in the smoke house, and smoke it,
make a fire, hang it up.
RM: And then how long would that last you?
GP: Oh, until next season when we wanted more meat. And we always had
chicken, turkeys, guinnies, pigeons. We always raised a lot of stuff.
RM: And how about beef. How would you keep the beef?
GP: We raised cattle.
RM: And how would you keep that?
GP: Well, one time we had twelve hundred head of steers over here in Western
Kansas, and one of them we had in the, Jim Smith was brand inspector in
Holly, and they took them up to Granada this man did, his name was Trotter,
and he had a bunch to be shipped and you know, he had one of our JA's that
made a figure four out of it. And so Jim Smith, he caught it. And, by
golly, they rode around there, and he got wise, and he rode off, and his wife
and kids got their cattle out of the corrals and went home.
That's the way we did it. Made soap out of the grease afterwards,
cause it's seasoning would be strong enough, of the sage and everything
that was in your sausage, and it makes some good soap.
RM: What all spices did you use in your sausage?
GP: Well, I like sausage with good sage, salt--I like good old-fashioned
sausage, and good old hot biscuits. We used to have sourdough bread every
day. After I came out here I tried, but they don't eat the bread out here
like they did in Texas. I left my starter, but you can make a starter, I
can make a starter for sourdough any day, out of buttermilk.
RM: How do you do it?
GP: Hell, I have it in my cookbook. And the main thing is to take and stir
Up buttermilk, and your flour, and a wee little bit of yeast, and then from
then on all you do is take out a cup or two cups, what ever you want, and
then you add water, cold water, to it, and your flour, and stir it up some
more, and it will raise just like yeast. Keep it for years.
RM: You just keep your starter going all the time.
GP: MMhMM. (yes) I've got that exact measurements in there.
RM: So did you used to do a lot of riding when you lived on the ranch?
GP: Oh, in Texas I did. I used to ride in Kansas, I did. I'd sometimes
ride sixty, sixty-five miles a day. I did. And then in Texas we didn't
have any post office; a church for three different counties that we had
there. Bailey, Hockley and Lorms County, Texas. So we went over in New
Mexico, and there was a little inland post office there called Redlands.
Wo we'd go there and get our mail, and if we was short of flour, sugar,
anything like that, coffee, we would send our big wagon to Portales, New
Mexico. They'd put on four heads of mules, and thy'd go to a big department
store in Portales and we'd get a can of flour, cases of coffee, and all you
could buy was dried fruit those days, and that would be pears, apples,
peaches, prunes, and cases of tomatoes, corn and peas. And I used to say
I'd never open another can if I'd ever get out of there, and I've opened
very few. We'd go over to Portales and get our...and Monday we'd go over
to Redlands to get our mail, and we met a man who was racing his horses, and
he stopped me and said, do you know anything about...a rattlesnake bit
my boy. And he had that kid with his foot in a rubber boot with coal oil.
And you know, that oil turned green and that kid was just fine and dandy?
And Ma Ferguson, that was governor of Texas, her brother and his
family lived on that main road. We used to stop there and see the Fergusons.
Then we'd stop at all the different cow camps, just boys camping, batching,
I was the only woman. Old Judge Paul had the ranch to the east, and he
had a family over there by the name of Pool Ernest, one of them married a
Slaughter so we would take and go. Oh, we went everywhere, visiting our
neighbors. And then the Nesters, they liked me so well, because I would
go down in the dugouts and visit with them, I felt sorry for them. On that
other ranch, why they thought they were lazy, because you know they were
getting wages. And so when we'd feed it to old cows that was older in the
winter time. And Prairie fires. We had a lot of Prairie fires, and those
Nesters, whenever they'd see a fire here they'd come to help us fight it.
But the other neighbors they'd never go near them, and we'd keep our dozen
brooms, and we'd get on a saddle horse and go alone the line and put out the
fire, and then we'd sweep the cowchips with our new brooms inside, put out
fires. Swept fires day and night. And whenever we had a fire, believe me,
I'd help just like any of them. And old Judge Paul was a judge and they
lived in Amarillo. They had owned the bank at Post, and now (they had two
sons) and I stayed with her at Post, when my baby was in the hospital. She-
well, it got too hot for her. I had her dressed too warm, and I took her
to the doctor and he bagan to undress her. He said, "You're smothering this
child to death." You know, I thought it was like where I was raised, you
needed wool, but you didn't. And Post was below the Cap Rock, down in Texas.
I have a newspaper in there that the Crawfords over here, they're
from Texas, and they lived right west of Amarillo, and sure enough they sent
me a picture of the big bank that they still have in Amarillo.
But you always have neighbors wherever you go, if you are a neighbor.
RM: You speak of a bank, and I'm wondering, was there a bank in La Veta when
you first came here?
GP: Yes, oh this town was really a big town when I came here. The mines
was working, and we had a bank, we had a big round house, this was the
terminal, and they brought the engines in here, you know, and changed crews,
and then they'd go on to Pueblo, then come back here and then on to Alamosa.
We had the railroad people living here, and we had about three dentists, and
about three or four doctors, we had a hospital, and.
RM: The hospital was just over here...
GP: Right here on the corner where Mrs. Gross lives, that was the hospital.
And Doctor Lamme, Barbara Young's boy, we call him Bread, he's Jim's boy,
and his father, Jim, married a La Veta girl, Edna, not not Edna, but Kincaid
was her last name. And so they had that hospital for a long time. And then
they went to Walsenburg and opened up the hospital, and that's where every-
body would go, to the Lamme's. Now it's a nursing home, that one in Walsen-
burg. My husband's uncle, Charlie Burnelli, they had that big St. Charles
Hotel. It used to be two stories, but they've taken the top story off of
it. Oh, we had a good time. And they had a big cheese factory, and they
wasn't satisfied. They got goats in here, and goat cheese, which is wonderful,
but two different ones, they were never satisfied with the price of the
milk. They went down there one day and begun dumping the milk out on the
ground; they just closed it. So we never had another cheese factory.
RM: How many people had goats that sold milk?
GP: Oh, there was a lot of goats around here for awhile.
RM: But it was mainly two people...
GP: There was two people that wasn't never satisfied with cows milk, or
goats milk, or anything. They took anything down there, goat and cows milk.
A New York outfit came in here and started up, a man from Trinidad, and it
was very prosperous, a good thing for this city.
RM: Yes, it sounds like it.
GP: And we had lots... oh, we just had everything. But some people are
never satisfied. Like it is today, just exactly. They're not satisfied.
We had girls working in this museum. When we started this museum, Milt Utt
started it, well, he suggested it, for our garden club that was, I think it
it was in '49 that we formed it; I'm a charter member. And they also give
me a life membership to it. The United States, all over America is garden
clubs. We belong to a Federation. We girls, there were five and six of us,
we'd go in and sit, and we took our things in there and we cleaned it up
for people to see, and they could play cards. My husband, he'd go in and
sit, he was so accommodating. And so then we begin to spread out and it got
to be a county affair. Nothing but county. Need Ortan gave and sold it to
the Historical Society. So then we Made Money, and by golly, people donated
so much that we built on a log cabin in the back for a store. And my husband
went over and helped mortar it, and they put up a foundation, and joined
the two buildings together. And that Cottonwood out here, he was the one
that advertised it, that 17 men were hung on. That museum today. Kate Gross
worked over there like a dog, she and Lillie Harrison, and they got maybe a
dollar an hour. Then they got to making more money, and they got more. And
now they've gone in, with a new outfit, so they're managing it, and at present
now they've gone to $18 a day. And they can't pay it. Lillie and Kate
run it; now they've got eight hired over there! And it will never payoff.
Someone asked me about it the other day, and I said, "Well, it won't be open
long." And it won't.
RM: That's a shame.
GP: It is a shame. See newspaper outside Nov. 1, 1979 because it's the
only thing in Huerfano County that we can take visitors to and be proud of.
We have dresses over there, oh, of Spanish people, so heavily beaded you
can hardly lift them, with silver beads. Beautiful things! Like Mrs.
Ghiardis wedding dress is over there, and my, and some of them, they're over
a hundred years old you know. It's a dirty shame to think. And Dr. Chapman,
that was a doctor in Walsenburg, why his wife's hats and things are over
there. Oh we have a beautiful collection of everything.
RM: Was Dr. Chapman here as a doctor when you came here?
GP: Yes, I knew Dr. Chapman. Yes, the hardware people, they came from
Wichita, and she fell and broke her hip, Mrs. Howard, and when I got back
from California, why Kate said, "Did you know that Madge has fallen and
broke her hip?" And I said "NO," and I went right over. She lived right
up the alley. So she laid there in that mess for five or six days, and I
said, Why, Alf, lets take her to a hospital. And she was delirious, and
didn't want to go, and I said, "Why, she doesn't know what she's saying,
or doing.” So he was not ashamed of himself and went and ordered an ambulance,
and we went down to Dr. Chapman's office and he x-rayed it. And he said
her hip was broken. So Alf said, well Grace, will you go on in the ambulance
to Pueblo (he couldn't leave the store) and so I got in the ambulance. And
Jimmy was going to college down there, her son, and I remember so easily,
oh he was a wonderful old guy, that Dr. Chapman was. The year of the flu, I
wasn't there, but they told me about it, he went out to camp, one of the
coal camps, and he doctored the guy, and he had it himself. And then when
he got through doctoring, he said layover, he said, "I'm sicker than you
are." And he went to bed right there with that guy. He was some guy! And
Mrs. Chapman was a lovely old lady. Dr. Matthews. I knew Dr. Matthews.
RM: Dr. Chapman sounds like he must have been something of a character.
GP: He was, he was a real character, Dr. Chapman. He was really a character.
RM: And he sounds like he was a wonderful doctor.
GP: He certainly knew what he was doing. Yes.
RM: And he went around to all the mining camps, didn't he?
GP: Yes, he did. He took care of all of them.
RM: Now, did he work for the mining camps?
GP: I don't know if he was hired; he perhaps was hired by the camp people
that had those mines. Judisakes, they had a mine out there. And my sister-
in-law is married to Happy Judscak. He died right here in the Spring. He
was right at 90. And then the Turner Mine, John's cousin, was married to
George Turner. We used to go down, and take our truck and get coal for $7
a ton, the best coal. They had good coal here at Oakview and Ojo. It was
niggerhead and I'll tell you, that was wonderful coal. Klikus has got a
good coal mine too, up beyond their place.
RM: Now where was Ojo, where was that mine?
GP: Ojo, it was up here on the main highway, on the left hand side. Well,
as you go through they used to have it fenced, they called it the gap in the
highway. When the camel pasture came in, why there was a gate there, an
automobile gate, and there was a big long building there, and that was a
store called Ojo. It was groceries, and it had a postoffice and everything.
Then my mailcarrier would take orders that they'd write for the money orders,
and I'd write up the money orders and we'd mail them. Old Jay A. Trujillo
lived up on top of the pass, and he had a lumbermill, and he must have had,
oh around 80 people that worked in the sawmill. And they had a lovely house
built up there and the smallest Catholic Church in the United States, was up
there, I don't know what they've done with it. But it was on top of Old La
Veta pass, on the old highway that went up to the narrow gauge. Then they
put in a standard gauge road, why it went over another route. And they made
a highway out of the old railroad track. I've seen many a truck upset there
loaded with potatoes and things from the valley.
RM; That was a real windy road wasn't it.
GP: It certainly was. Real windy.
RM: They must have had a hard time with that when it was icy, during the
winter, making those turns.
GP: It was pretty rough. One time I took Edith Firm and the Shoemakers,
he was the roundhouse foreman, and his wife, to Ojo Caliente, to take baths,
and I was going to go to Pagosa Springs, and we got up on that Wolf Creek
Pass, and I'll tell you, we didn't get over. I told some soldier boys, I said,
"Boys, if you'll help me, I'll pull you up the hill.” And they put my chains
on, and they didn't have any, and they said, "Woman, you've got more nerve
than we have. We're not." And so I got out, and come on down the highway
and when I got into Alamosa, then I took off to Ojo Caliente. And we stayed
over there for two weeks. And the Youngs, they used to have a Dodge Agency
of automobiles in Walsenburg; Bob, he's still living, he and Grace. But
the other brother, Tom, he married a Sporleader, so they used to go down
there, you know, and it was hard to get a car, during the war. Sure had to
talk. But there sisters was over there at Ojo, one of them was a doctor,
an M.D. And they had slot machines, too. And we'd play bridge every night.
Whoever won had to go buy some pop and treat the rest of us. We had a lot
of fun. And we cooked. We had a room apiece. And they had the windows so
we could raise the screen. Why, outside was a little shelf, and we'd put our
milk and cream and stuff outside (there were no iceboxes). It was Mauro boy
that run it, from Walsenburg. He had married Happy Judisak's niece. They
was awful nice to us. And if you wanted to you could go to the hotel and
eat. But we didn't like the cooking, so we'd go in to Espanola, and we'd
buy what we liked to eat, bring it home. Edith, we had the biggest room,
wo Teve and shuff they'd come in and we'd all eat in there, and oh, what a
good time we had. Teve died this winter. At the Mercy home in Trinidad, and
she was 94.
RM: What was her last name?
GP: She was married to a Heilman, but for all those years, when I knew her,
she was a Shoemaker. And then he dropped dead on Mother's day, he had a
heart attack. He died, he was foreman of the roundhouse here. And so she
was a widow for quite awhile, and then she married Mr. Heilman, that used to
live here. And his first wife was an Estes. I suppose the Esteses were one
of the first families in this valley. And then I had a Charlifue over here.
in the museum. The Charlifue's were the lst French family here. They married
Spanish women. Where you go in and register, there was an old Navajo Indian
who lived there and he was married to Mary Charlifue. So they called him
John, and they had a magpie. And that bird would holler, "Hello, John!"
and my husband's name was John, too, and one day I went over I took over
(They were cold) and I took over some real heavy wool comfortors that I
had made at the ranch for the bunkhouse, and I took them a couple. And I
had a chair in there that she had that was all knocked down and broken, so
I said, "Well, Mary, why don't you make John clean that up, it's a beautiful
chair." And she said, “I don't want it. do you like it?" And I said, "Why
sure I like it': And she said, "I'll carry it home for you." So she brought
it over. So John and I got busy and I bet we took 7 coats of paint off that.
And it's engraved, cut, oh it's beautiful. So we got some padding and we
padded it, and fixed up the springs, and John got some oak and made runners
on it, and everyone who comes here wants to sit in that chair.
I had a habit and a hobby of collecting cups and saucers. When I was
in the office, somebody would bring me cups and saucers. I have close to a
hundred cups and saucers. And I have them from different states and countries.
I'm proud of my collection. I like junk. They'll go through our museum,
and lately they'll tell them, if you go over to Grace Penne's, maybe she'll
let you look at hers. They always enjoy coming over, seeing my salt dips
when I was a child. We didn't know what a salt and pepper shaker was. We
had one at each place, and a napkin ring, and we'd radish, onion, or whatever
we was eating, into that little salt dip. Kids today put it on the table
cloth. We had dips.
RM: What would you say your philosophy of life is, Grace"
GP: Oh, love everybody, and live today like it was the last. It's the truth.
Live everyday like it was the last. You want to do some thing today, you
better do it. Tomorrow you may not be here. And if you have a kind word to
say, don't be afraid to tell people that you love them. Boy, I've been
around people that never could say "I'm sorry." Well, they think that's hard
to say, but if you do something that hurts somebody's feelings, I believe in
being broadminded, and if I have offended you in any way, I'm sorry. I think
if we all live by the golden rule, and the ten commandments, and I don t
believe in any certain religion. I believe in all religions, because I
believe that when we die, there's only one heaven, one God. You're going
around in circles. One will be a Presbyterian, Seventh Day Adventist, Church
of God, and everything, but when you get right down, there's only one middle
and there's only one God, and he takes care of all. That's my religion. I
was born and raised a Methodist. And my mother married my sister off to a
Methodist Preacher, which I objected to. I never did like him, and I don't
like him today. I just leave him alone. But I really don't believe in any
preacher sitting around in fine suits and going to these poor widow women
for money, and living off them, and they're so fat they can hardly walk.
I think they ought to make their living by the sweat of their brow. That's
what my bible teaches me. It won't hurt nobody.
I remember when my husband died, a preacher wasn't in our Methodist
church, that sometimes I go to, and then when Kate was here she was a Catholic,
and she did more for the Catholics. We furnished straw for their adobes,
to make their sods, and I had several teas, here, and a breakfast. You know
I have a patio out here and I used to keep a big table, and we put tables
out in the yard. We made 96 dollars for the Catholic Church from our break-
fast. I just believe in helping everybody. And that priest would come, it
was Father Kerr, and he came up here and held meetings for two weeks. And
Aunt Kate was running the hotel. And Uncle Pete, her husband, he worked for
her in the daytime, but he kept the homefires burning. So we'd go up to the
church, went up to those meetings, Kate and I, and then when we'd come back,
Pete and the minister, the priest, would come over here, and he and I would
play bridge against Pete and John. And if I had a mess of fish, I always
had, I'd invite the priest to come and eat supper, and if not I'd feed him
beef or pork, but I had to laugh, I'd always say, there's only one thing I
object to: I think a nice young man like you ought to have a wife. I don't
believe in anyone sacrificing their life that much, not to love and have a
family. If you want a family, that's up to you. I just really liked Father
Kerr. And he stayed here a year. He came out here for his health, and then
he went back to Michigan. But I sure did like him. I like Gallagher. John
was baptised a Catholic, my husband, and he said, "I never did believe in it."
And a Baptist came here one time and they tried to get him to go in with them,
that new Baptist up here on the hill, South Baptist they call themselves, and
they was trying to wreck this Giradeaux that was over here. He was, he had
studied a priest, and then he turned and was a Baptist minister, and he would
take his money, and he wore cardboard in his shoes, and he'd buy milk by the
gallon for widow women in this town, and I was postmaster and I know he did
it. So when they began to jump on him and he went to Walsenburg, that was the
limit to that South Baptist as far as I was concerned. They got a new minister
up there this last year, and he was a honey. He'd come down and clean our
sidewalks, and he made his living by the sweat of his brow. He'd work for
you, he wouldn't ask you for no money. I'd give him money, what I though it was
worth. And he was the nicest man. I sure did like him. But now he's gone
back, I think to Alabama. And they've got a new one up here but I don't
know him. Mark Anderson, the Baptist preacher over here, I've danced...
Well, he used to play for all the dances, him and Hazel at Sulfur Springs.
When John went away, John loved Mark, so I had his funeral with the Baptist
church. I was criticized, but one church is good as another. I'd go to
any church, and it's like a prayer. I can sit and say what I want to say
to myself, and love my God. Cause he sure has been good to me.
And the morning that John went away, he went downtown, and he went to
the postoffice and got the mail, and he went down to Howard Lumber and paid
them for a storm door, and he just put up. He died on Wednesday. I think
it was, and he put that up on Monday. He went down and paid $40 to Jonathan
Kmetz for his door, and he come in, I was ironing in the kitchen, and he
said, "Mother, there's $40 worth of green stamps. Put them up." And I said,
"Okay." and so I went on ironing his shirt. And then I went on into the hall,
and he'd always go into his big chair and sit with his hat on, and read the
newspaper. I didn't care if he wore his hat on, or what he did. There he
was (I went in there to hand up his clothes in the hall before way back in
the back bedroom), and by golly, there he layed on the floor. So I run to
him, and Kate told me, she told me, "Grace, I've seen John." Old Dr. Lamme
doctored him for years. He had a coronary once, was in the hospital for weeks
in oxygen. And I took him out in the ambulance. I had 42 women here for
a garden club, and I said, "Go ahead and hold your meeting, ladies, I'm
going in the ambulance." And me and Kate jumped in the ambulance, and we
took him down to Lamme's, and he was there for three weeks, in oxygen and
when he got to come home, he quit cigarettes, and he never did smoke another
cigarette. And I do think that cigarette smoking is the cause of a lot of
heart trouble. I really do. I went to a bridge game one day, and I was
running back and forth, I had four steps down into my back bedroom. I
slid on the carpet and when I came to, why the dog was kissing me. I had
the old cocker, oh he's the sweetest little thing. Girl in California was
going to Europe and so she called me from Oklahoma, and said, "Would I
take Taffy?" Was his name. So I said "Yes, express him in a box and send
him up here," So she did. And I went down to the depot, opened up the
crate, and Mr. Wolmak said, "Aren't you afraid he'll get away?" And I said,
"No!" I said, "Taffy, how are you honey?" and he laid at my feet and he
knew me because he was Leo's neighbor out in California. And so, he was
loaded with tick and lice. John was standing on the street, and I said,
"John, go into the drugstore and get a bar of dog soap, and I'm going to take
him home and feed him." He was so poor. So I fed him good, and I got his
food digested in about three hours, and I'd bath him, and I did. Oh,
he was so proud of himself, he was the prettiest dog I ever had in my life.
She had paid $80 for him when he was a puppy. So he had to be put away,
he got cancer. John and I, we both wept. That's the thing of it. I have
shed more tears over pets, coyotes, prairie dogs I've even had for pets.
They'd sleep on my pillow. And get in my pocket and eat peanuts I'd saved
for them. And antelope, I had baby antelope, I had baby antelope, suckling
milk cow, and I've had everything. I've had 12 calves in my kitchen at one
time snowstorms, you know. And they'd be cold, and I'd give them warm milk
and warm them up, and then they'd take them out and mate them up to their
I love ranch life and if I were young again, I'd be on a ranch. I
really would. This Bob Andreoli lives up here, on Middle Creek. Fred
Crouse, my step--son and I had to go through his corral to get up on our
pasture, on Occidental and Kim Ritter. This old school house, when we
built the museum out of logs, it was the old Ritter Schoolhouse. He owned
so much land up there, we never did fence it. We ran our cattle together
so many a head, you know. Kim, he'd come up to Indian Creek ranch, and
Libby would come up in a truck, let his horse ride, and then we'd all ride
up on Occidental and pick up cattle. And this little Rober Andreoli, now
he's married to the Utt girl, and she is head teacher of retarded children,
cripled children, in Walsenburg. He'd come out and open the gate so I didn't
have to get off my saddle horse. When we'd get back, his mother would take
out about 20 loaves of that good old home made bread out of a big oven she
had in the yard. We had a gallon jar of butter, and maybe jelly or sugar, and
Fred and I, we'd break those loaves of bread, and we'd all sit down and eat
our bread and butter. How good it was! And we'd pick Oregon grapes. There
was a little grape that grows up in the hills, on the mountainside, and I'd
bring them home and we'd fill our, oh, anything, our hats or something and
bring home Oregon grapes and make jelly. Lots of happy thoughts and
They thought I was lost up here on the pass this last year, hunting
mushrooms. I told them I wasn't lost at all. There was 17 of us crawling
up there on the east peak, on the third of July one year. We had to walk
back to camp about 7 miles. I met old Jim Falk, and he had a mare with an
old pack saddle on it, and barbed wire. So his sister-in-law and I, he
took the wire off and gave us the old mare and we rode him into camp. And
they thought we was lost. Same way when I was up hunting mushrooms two
years ago. I wasn't lost, I knew just where I was, and I saw the fence,
that divided you up there. Goemmers had a corral, branded and everything.
And every Sunday we'd go up there and corral cattle and rope them. But
it's funny, and that night when I went, it wasn't dark. They said...I
saw two boys in their pup tent, and I went over by there, and I said,
"Where at," and they said, "West of Dalhart" and I said, "Well, I have
relatives there ranch out here. So one of them started to walk up the hill
just about a block. And I said to him, "Where's he going?" And he said,
"They've been hunting, I'm sure it was you. They said you was lost."
And I said, "My God. Honey, I've ridden these hills horseback, and foot,
and crawled the hills for 50 years up here." So Julian Tracy, he once
put his arms around me and he said, "Gracie, I knew you wasn't lost.
I told them you knew this country." No, I never got lost. I saw an old
lady the other night, I received my 50 year pin from the order of the
Eastern Star, and they had a nice entertainment. And then we took in and
old gentleman as a member. You know when you join and go over fifty-one;
I've been going fifty-one years, to Eastern Star and past Matron, and I am
proud of my certificate I got. I'm proud of my pin. Just like when the
garden club had their little sale of junk, and they took their $25 and
bought me a life membership in the Federation of Garden Clubs. I was
very proud of it, really. It ain't what you receive, it's what comes from
their hearts. I wasn't lost up there on the hill. I know them hills. Mrs.
Gluordi and I, we used to go up there, and me and Connie and we'd ride on
the running board, and we'd see mushrooms we'd hop off, Daddy'd stop and
we'd pick mushrooms. And my, I'd have this porch loaded with mushrooms,
you know, and we'd dry em. One night we took a man that was a millionaire
from Wichita, Walter Vuhn, and Ruby his wife, and every time he'd see those
people from Trinidad with a big sack of mushrooms, he'd give them ten dollars
for the whole sack. So then we went home that night; I went up to my sister-
in-laws and I got one of them big, ten-gallon canners, and we canned 98
quarts, and we worked all night. We had to pressure them 90 nimutes in
saltwater, we boiled them in salt water, and then we put them in our jars
in that same water that we boiled them. And then we put them in any meat
dishes or anything, macaroni or spaghetti or anything. And were they good!
And we put up 98 quarts!
Roz: What a lot of mushrooms!
Grace: That's right, what a lot of mushrooms!
Roz: What kind of mushrooms did you get?
Grace: Oh those beautiful red ones, those regular, genuine mountain mush-
rooms. You cut them and you slice tham just like and Irish potato. I'm
afraid to go in...there was a little on that grew out on the Indain Creek
Ranch, and it was good to eat, and it was pink up undreneath, and it was
right by the gate, but they don't grow there anymore. There's just too
many cattle and alfalfa there that it killed every given growth. There's
a pretty bright red one up there spotted with white, but they're very, very
poisonous. That's why I screened in this porch, so that we could dry things
Roz: That's a very good idea.
Grace: A breeze. Then we had the old icebox over there, and my son-in-law,
he loves to make jerky. When he was in the Air Force he went deer hunting
so much, and he took the insides of it out, and he put in the shelves, and
he has a place in there where he puts his chips. And he shuts the door,
and he leaves that jerky in there so many days, at such a temperature--it
has to be so hot, and he has a thermometer on it--and does he make good
jerky! I like jerky!
Roz: I do too.
Grace: Were you raised in Colorado?
Roz: I was born and raise in Denver.
Grace: Denver! My mother had a cousin up there by the name of Wadley,
and his wife was a teacher of music at Loretto Heights. The older people
are dead. He was an attorney up there. Now his son got married. Frederick
was her name, and they named the boy Frederick, Wadley. And they live in
Cherry Hills. His daughter got married, and it was a very fashionable wed-
ding, and I see that she's a veterinarian. Yes, she has a dog hospital,
where they groom them and everything. She owns it and manages it. So I
guess it runs in the blood to love animals.
We used to ride up to Denver all the time, go right through Colorado
Springs like a little old country town. No houses over there to the East
or nothing, now look at it, it's a city. But years and years ago, fifty
years ago, we'd ship cattle, wasn't a building over there, maybe ranches,
now and then.
Roz: My grandmother lives up in Colorado Springs. My mother grew up in
Colorado Springs, and we used to go there alot when I was little. Even in
that length of time, you just wouldn't know it from before.
Grace: Well, that's the same with Leora, they lived there six years, and she,
her husband is in the Air Force, and I think he was in the Air Force 27 years.
Oh, they were up in all the United States, and then they went to British
Columbia. He taught three years at the University of Florida. Then he
was sent to Japan, and then in six months Leora went to Japan on the Hope,
and 600 women and children, and she was one of them. And then from there
they came back, and he was at Ent Air Force Base for five years, the head
of manpower. And then they came to Karachi, Pakistan, and he was in the
Embassy there for three years. Then they lived in British Columbia. They
fished and hunted there with the officers. Then he was three years at
Gainesville, Florida at the university teaching. Then thye went to Japan.
And then he was in Colorado Springs about five years. Now they are retired
and live herein their camper trailer part of the year. And part of the
year they travel.