Huerfano County, Colorado
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.
PEARL PATTERSON KITCHEN
Contributed by anonymous.
Interviewed by Rosalyn McCain
Edna Pearl Patterson Kitchen, born 7-2-1890
Parents - Nathan Cicero Patterson and Rhoda Jane Spears
Family origin - Georgis, Union and Cherokee Counties
Date of family arrival in County - 1880's
Location of first family settlement - Huerfano, Decatur and Nathan Patterson
ORAL HISTORY DATA SHEET:
Mrs. Kitchen's family comes to La Veta from Georgia - 12 children
The sad loss of trunks and the family Bible
Georgia colonists settle on the Huerfano River
Her mother's death and childrens' jobs
Old families on the Cucharas
Mrs. Kitchen's work and care of children: niece, grandson, son
Their deaths and the death of her son-in-law
Cooking for the hay thrashers
Running the washer and wringer from water power off the ditch
Settling up on a car accident
Floods on the Cucharas
Water quality: making root beer
Trading work with neighbors on the farm
Making food on the farm: home cooking
Health and the flu epidemic of 1918 - Other diseases and home treatments
Memories of her children and her son's death. World War II in Holland
Her children's children
June 30, 1979
This is Rosalyn McCain interviewing Pearl Kitchen at the home of Daisy Nauerth, in La Veta.
Roz: Let me ask you what it was like in the old days. When did your family come to Huerfano County?
Pearl: They came in the 1880's (actually in 1872). My dad came from Union County, Georgia, and my mother came from Cherokee County, Georgia. She came from a big plantation. Grandfather Spears had a big plantation with colored help and everything. And they said old Aunt Kanzadey, a colored woman, took care of three children before my mother ever had any care of them. She didn't have any care of three children til she got here....and Dade Perotrig and I said, "Dad what did you bring her to this godforsaken country for?" "Well, they came in search of gold." And I said, "But you never did find any." And they just stayed out here. But she was from Georgia. So I just always wanted to go back to Georgia, but I never did get to go back.
Roz: You never went back?
Pearl: I was the youngest of twelve. So that's the reason I don't know too much. I had all the ages and everything for the children. There were twelve, and they were two years apart. My poor mother. She would have had a thirteenth child if she had lived a little longer. My oldest sister took me til I was three, and so she had the big family Bible, in my mother's original handwriting. And when my nephew went down to Avondale, he was water commissioner. He died, and so his wife left two big trunks in charge of a woman down there. And they said she moved away, and I don't know whatever became of all that history. If I had known, I could have hired a truck to go down and get it, but I didn't know til it was too late. And in the meantime, my husband had told my nephew, he kept saying, "Do you want one of Mama's trunks?" And I said. "Yes, I sure do." And my husband in the meantime, after he left, I found out he had told him we didn't have room for the trunks. And I said, "Why in the world did you tell him that?" All that history. My high school clothes, my report cards. I never got lower than 95 in deportment. So I just lost all that. It made me sick. But that's the way they did in those days. They didn't think anything was important. And my mother's big thick family Bible. I know my sister took a page out of it, and my brother in Longmont, well, they are all gone but me now of the twelve children...he wanted to get a pension or something, so I took the page out and took it down to Amelia and she said she had to have an original. I said, "Well, that's very original, cause it is my mother's handwriting." But she finally got the pension some way or other. I don't know. She wouldn't accept it because she said it wasn't original, which it was, it was very original.
I like cedar, and I'm always taking pinches of cedar off the trees. This morning I got a leaf, and it was pepper leaf. I just love pepper leaf.
Well, are you getting this history for a book or something?
Roz: We want to have a history program in the schools so the local kids have their real local history so they learn about families that they know and places that they know about. Then they really understand their history and get interested in it. But as it is, they don't really say much about Huerfano County in the school, in the history classes, because there isn't that much written.
Pearl: No, and all the old timers are gone. Most of the old timers from Georgia located on the Huerfano.
Roz: And where did they locate over there?
Pearl: Some place, they said it was on the lower Huerfano. I don't know. Decatur Patterson and his family and my dad, Nathan C. Patterson, he said they located there, and then they come out to La Veta and lived for awhile, and then up on Oak Creek, and they just traveled around. They always traveled.
Roz: Did your father and mother come to this country at the same time?
Pearl: In the 1880's (actually in 1872). They had three children, and she said, my oldest sister said, she hadn't had the care of any of the three children until she come to Colorado. And Aunt Kanzadey, this old colored lady, she had the care of them. She cried. She just cried. But she had all the care of my two sisters and brother.
Roz: So they were really close?
Pearl: John Morgan. They said the reason they named him John Morgan was because he cried all night and slept all day, and this man rallied all night and slept all day. I wish I knowed more, but I just know what my sister told me before she died. She died in 1925 so that is a long time ago.
Roz: How did your family manage once your mother died?
Pearl: Well, this oldest sister Mrs. Marker, she kept me til I was three, and then my sisters....there was sister Georgia and Grace Patterson....they went to work and the boys all went to work too, and my two brothers, they drove a string team down at Rouse, a mule team. And the poor little kids. I guess they were only fifteen or sixteen years old when they went to work. It sounds like they had an awful hard life. That's all I know is what my oldest sister told me. I wish I had written all that down, but of course, the big family Bible, a big thick Bible, is in those trunks I lost in Avondale. It seems like then they didn't think anything was important. They didn't think family history was important. Since I was just a young one, I don't know much. Just what she told me. I wished lots of times that I had known my mother. They said she was part Cherokee. I know she had long black hair. One brother had black hair, and all the rest was red heads. There were nine redheads and three black, my brother Issac, my sister Grace, and my brother Nathan. They had black hair. But I sure wish that those records hadn't got lost. But I didn't know for so long. She left those trunks in charge of a lady in Avondale. Then her mother, Mrs. Kruetzer, is gone. She said that these folks had moved away. So I don't know what they ever did with the trunks. If I'd known it sooner, I could have got someone to go get them.
Roz: That is a real loss;
Pearl: I was just thinking, everyone....We lived on the Cucharas off and on for about 25 years. All the Goemmers are gone, the Maes' are gone, the Martins are gone, all those people up the Cuchara, they are all gone. The Kitchens, all the Kitchen family is gone. All those bearing the name of Kitchen. I am the only one that bears the name of Kitchen.
I'm changing the subject, but this morning I met three beautiful girls going down the street to the post office, and they all had long red hair. One had curls all over, two had long hair. I said, "What beautiful hair." And I said, "Where are you from, Georgia?" They said, "Kentucky." I said, "Oh, that hair is beautiful."
Daisy: Where are they staying?
Pearl: They came down for the summer here. I don't know. I believe they are staying up to Mary's. I don't know. They were walking down to the Post Office.
And I had to wait down here so long, and then I took a bath and waited in order to get a check, paid Mr. Bernadetti. He said he wasn't worried. And this place is closed, the drive-in. I wonder why it is closed. Does she open at 10:00?
Roz: You're just an early bird.
Pearl: Didn't put my water on because I knew they were going to cut all that grass. And that is a mess in the back. I tried to get Jackie to get her granddaughter to turn her horse in there to eat that out, but I guess she never did. There is a lot of alfalfa back there. That pony could just get fat. She didn't bring the horse down.
Roz: Where did you grow up?
Pearl: I was born in Rouse. Mother had been in Bear Creek. So she went down to Rouse to visit. My dad had four sisters. Aunt Priscilla Anderson Archwelder. I always
remember the homemade butter she made and plum preserves. And we went down there, and my mother wasn't expecting me, and this aunt used to sit and look at me. I used to say, "Aunt Priscilla, why do you look at me so straight?" And she'd say, "Well, I think you have just got along as well as if you was dressed in satin." She said, "Well, your mother came down. She wasn't expecting you, and I had to cut the cord with a butcher knife." I said, "Didn't you have any scissors?" "No," she said, "I had to cut the cord with a butcher knife."
But I worked like a dog all my life, oh boy. I was raised up....my sister....her husband was an attorney. He was Jake Marker from Kansas. There were four brothers. I had to work like a dog. I had a big sack of potatoes and a pole of squashes and a milk cow, and we lived on the Cuchara here off and on for about 25 years, and we milked and separated the milk. The other night I was laying there. I was just thinking. The barn was about a half mile down this way here. We carried the milk, milked the cow and carried the milk clear up to the house to separate it and carried the milk clear down to the hog pen to feed it to the hogs. We did everything the hard way. And one time I stumbled over the roots of a tree and fell. But I held the milk. I actually did. I had three buckets of milk. And I hollared, "Oh, I spilled the milk." And we couldn't afford to spill it because we had to live on the cream check. And then I helped Mrs. Goemmer off and on for ten years. She'd clean up every Monday morning. I'd help her wash and iron. Wash and iron all in one day. And then I took care of one niece a year and one niece six months another time. And my grandson from the time he was 11 until he was 21. He was in the Forest Service. His wife has this material club here. He was killed about eight years ago. When I left Saturday morning, they didn't know....They said the Slide Mountain was slick and he had to come down on a tractor, and he thought the tractor was going to slip and run over him, and he jumped, and a rod hit him over the back of the head and killed him. So that was hard to take too. And his dad was killed. He was on a horse, thrown off, and he was killed. They took him to the hospital, St. Mary Corwin in Pueblo, and he died. So I lost a son-in-law and a son in the service. I had one son that was 23 when he was a paratrooper. And the President said, "We'll never set foot on foreign soil. They'll never be sent over." But they were shipping the paratroopers over....600, 700 at a time got slaughtered. He got killed over in Germany, in Holland. Only 23, he got killed in 1944. He was out of school. He was there about two years, and he got killed. So that was all hard to take. But you have to survive. Nothing to do about it. Do you live in Walsenburg?
Roz: I live over near Redwing on Pass Creek Road. Do you know where the old Sam Lutz house is?
Pearl: We used to go over there to get plums. We went to Pass Creek to fish, and we went over to Huerfano Creek to hunt. I lived part of the time down at Rouse with my sister and my brother and his wife. All three of them are gone now. And we'd go over and take big seamless sacks that we used to juice plums out of. We'd get great big sacks of plums. Oh, we'd get the plums.
Roz: Did you make preserves?
Pearl: We'd make plum butter, plum preserves. At the ranch, I'd had a big cupboard that had five shelves. I had every shelf full of plum butter and jelly and preserves. Mr. Bruce used to come over. He said, "My goodness. If I get hungry, I know where to come." He said he never saw so much jelly and preserves and jam. But I had haymen thrashers, and I had to have it because I'd have a great big bunch of thrashers there to cook for.
Roz: So when you had people thrash for you, you had to do the cooking for everyone?
Pearl: We'd put in a big roast, a big beef roast. Of course, we did our own butchering. We had to cook and then we'd cook pork roast and sweet potatoes to fill all those men. Sweet potatoes, beef roast, pork roast, mashed potatoes, and creamed potatoes. It's making me hungry. And a big bowl of slaw. We always had good old cabbage slaw and big gardens. Now you wouldn't believe this up here at the Cuchara. After I cooked for the haymen and washed the dishes, I'd take two big milk buckets and cross the bridge and go up to the foot of this hill up there. I could show you if we was up at the ranch. We had two gardens, and I'd go over there and I'd pick those buckets full of string beans and roasting ears and cucumbers to start the next day. I had to do that. I guess I was built like a mule. I don't know. I must have been.
Daisy: It makes me tired to think of it.
Roz: So you used to grow a big garden?
Pearl: And the Goemmers, we washed and ironed in one day. And Pete Goemmer, he'd say, "By gad, you little....", he'd call me a little bastard all the time. "Come on and hang up those clothes." He'd help me hang up clothes.
Daisy: He wouldn't have called me that. I'd have popped him one.
Pearl: Well, he called Elaine that and she was scared to death, she was so little. She started crying. She ran to the bedroom. She said, "I never did have anybody call me that before." And I said, "Honey, don't pay any attention to Pete." I said, "He's just a Dutchman." And then this old wheel that we run the washing machine and the wringer with, the Goemmers, they didn't have anything electric then. There was a big old pully there, and I'd have to climb up that ladder and get that back on there. If it slipped off, it wouldn't turn, you know, and we'd run the washing machine and the wringer with that great big old water wheel.
Roz: Oh, it was a water wheel?
Pearl: It was water power out of that big ditch. There was a big ditch running down. So one time when my sister-in-law, she didn't hardly do anything, only....well, she cooked for the haymen, but they helped her....and they never left the house til the dishes were all washed. But she, I don't know, she'd just sit and snore while I did all that ironing. Sometimes I'd iron halfway with those gasoline irons, it would fume up. Everytime I'd go home, Clark Falk said, "Now Pearl, you are going to die." He said, "You're going to get gassed with that gasoline going down your lungs." It would go up here, and I could see it clear down in my lungs. The irons would get dirty, and then she'd have to dig them out and clean them, and then I'd iron and iron, and then they'd fume up and get in my nose. Boy, I'd had it. Ann Hern said that I should have written a book, and she could add to it cause we were two old timers.
Roz: So you used to grow a big garden?
Pearl: Two of them. We had one across the meadow at the foot of the hill. That's where I took two milk buckets and brought back cucumbers and roasting ears for the next day. And then we had one out by the creek, on this side of the Cucharas Creek. And that old creek, they don't know about floods anymore. That would just roar. It would just take sticks and everything down with it, and this Leora Cross, she's Mrs. Cross, her daughter Leora Hyle, she lived with us, she wanted to fish all the time. Well, we were down under the bank, we were sitting down there fishing. We'd pull out a sucker once in a while and throw it way back in the meadow, and we'd get some rainbow trout, and we heard somebody yelling, just yelling and yelling. It was my brother-in-law, Luther Kitchen, and he said, "Oh, my gosh, we're going to be killed. Oh, my gosh, we're going to get drowned." So we just got up on the bank and stood there and said, "What's the matter? What are you yelling about?" "The creek's a coming down." And we just got up on the bank, and here come the flood, and sticks and trees right ahead of it. We'd have been washed away, Leora and I. But Leora, she talks about that now, you know Mrs. Grace's (Penne) daughter. But she said, "Pearl, we sure had a good time." Then our well water wasn't too good, so with haymen, we had to make root beer. Well, we made both kinds of beer. And we had to bottle it. We had cappers and all. I think the cappers are still down in the cellar, and the caps. And Leora would get to laughing, she'd take this pouch you know. But all we talk about is good old days.
Roz: When you lived up at Cucharas, what kind of transportation did you have?
Pearl: We had a buggy. My mother-in-law was so proud of this buggy. It had a seat about this big. And it had a nice padded seat that was, you know, all, it had buttons all over here, and we had old Daisy in the buggy. She and my little daughter, Muriel, she was about seven, I guess, or eight then. Well, she was sitting in the middle. My grandma Kitchen was driving. We went out the lower gate. She said, "Whoa, Daisy." When she said, "Whoa", she just set her feet like that. And she threw Leora over, and she said, "Grandma, you're mashing me, you're mashing me." And then one time we went out with the horses and buggy, we went down....my husband was with me then....and the girls. And we just went out that gate, and this car come back of it, and hit our car. And we thought it bent the fender. I think we had the Ford then. So we drove into town. Olin Street was mad, oh he was mad because we came out of the lower gate, and he came right down the hill into Cuchara. We call that Kitchen Hill. And so he said, "Allright." We'd ride into town and go down to Mr. Webster, the Justice of the Peace, and we'd see what we owe. Because we didn't do him any harm, but he bent our fender. So we went down there, and we had a bucket of choke cherries. I don't know who we were taking them to, but he said, "What's that in that bucket?" And we said, "Chokecherries, want some of them?" I said, "No, I'm going to give them to a friend." He said, "We'll settle this if
you'll let me have the bucket of chokecherries." He didn't fine us. Oh, my goodness, there are so many things like that that happened on the ranch.
Roz: Did neighbors cooperate pretty well in the early days? Did they help each other out?
Pearl: Yes, they helped. Yes, we had one neighbor who wanted to borrow all the time, named Mr. Vernon. He's gone now. We had a brand new manure spreader, fertilizer spreader. I should say my father-in-law just had a new one, and he always wanted to borrow it. And he said, "No, I'm not going to loan that because I paid a good price, $125." But we'd change work with Charlie Kitchen. He lived way up on the Kruger place, way up next to the Spanish Peaks. Well he was just about the last ranch up on the.... And one time there was a couple came by, I think the family was named Kruger that lived there, and this man, he came to visit, he and his wife. He says, "Well, while you're getting breakfast, I think I'll take a climb up on this hill." And she said, "I don't think you will. That's West Spanish Peak." And she said, "Why, you never could go up there." She said it was hard. We thought it was just in the back yard. Well, it looked like it, but she said, "That's miles away."
Roz: When you lived up at Cuchara, where would you get your supplies?
Pearl: Well, we'd drive a team. You should have seen them. We had Charlie Dale's white team, and we had Bozo, and we had caps on the wagon, and in the winter we had both and camps on top like a covered wagon, and in the summer we had just a buggy and a horse. And we always had to come back here to Mr. String's store, and that's three and a half miles, I think, to get supplies. That little mare, she travelled pretty fast, and then this old white team of Uncle Charlie's, they'd travel pretty fast too. Those were the good old days, I guess.
Roz: Could you get everything you needed in La Veta?
Pearl: Yes, gosh, String's store. And there was Mr. McClain. Each one of them had a general merchandise store. He was a good old guy, Mr. McClain. What happened to him? She died here, Mrs. McClain. You traded with him, didn't you Daisy?
Daisy: Yes, and Mr. String and Edwin L. Smith.
Pearl: Edwin L. Smith, he got real sick. He was a Christian Scientist. But those girls, I wish I knew if they was up at Mary's or where. There was four of them together. That's another thing we made, bowls of cottage cheese. Big bowls of slaw and cottage cheese, string beans, and mashed potatoes. A lot of gravy. We had one Advent man, and he didn't approve of eating pork. But I had a pork roast. He said, "Ohhhh, good old pork sausage." We ground up our own pork sausage, we had a hand grinder, big old pork
sausage rolled up in a crock. Mitchell, a Decater kid, we gave him a crockful every year, and the last year he died, and Dr. Lamme's got it. Dr. Jim said, "Oh, that's the best
sausage I ever ate." We had to grind it by hand. We did everything the hard way, separating, and everything. And every Saturday I had to put all the separated cream in
pint jars and big....jugs of buttermilk. I took it all over town. I had customers all over town.
Roz: So you would come in on Saturday and deliver to everybody?
Pearl: We peddled our cream and buttermilk and butter, and then we did our shopping. And then we had a big can of separated cream we brought down. How did we do that cream? We shipped it to Walsenburg, I think, that separated cream. I believe we did. Then after we went to town, I'd bring a quart to Josephine Falk every Saturday. It was so thick and yellow, you had to dip it out with a spoon. She moved to town then.
Roz: What kind of medical care was there?
Pearl: Well, there was the Drs. Lammes. They had an office down here. There was about three of them that were doctors. Let's see, there was a cousin. He came last. But there was Dr. James, Dr. Julian, and then there was the young doctor. What was his name? Anyway, they were Lamme's, doctors at this hospital.
Roz: So there wasn't a doctor up Cuchara way. You would come into La Veta?
Pearl: We had the flu in 1918. We had that terrible flu, and we had one in each corner of the house, my husband, me, and my daughter. Dr. Lamme came up, and we had a fireplace. He said he had just got over the flu. He said, "If I'd had this fireplace, I'd have been well a long time ago." He said, "Germs go up the chimney." But we had that terrible flu. Oh, I just barely escaped death, I guess, because one morning I got up, and I was sitting at the table. My sister-in-law was taking care of me. I said to Josie, "It sure is snowing." And about that time, I fell over in the chair, and I had to go back and stay in bed three days longer. And he gave me, well, they had to get a permit to get whiskey and brandy then, the doctors. I don't know how many quarts he'd get at a time. But he ordered us a little. He said, "You have to give her a tablespoon of that every so often", to keep my heart going. She said my heart was almost stopped when I fell over. It was that flu, that old 1918 flu that was....we lost three people here in La Veta.
Roz: What kind of diseases were the most feared by people in those days?
Pearl: There was one family up here that lost three children to diptheria one right after the other. One family lost three to scarlet fever. They didn't have innoculations then. I don't believe they had any innoculations whatever. My mother-in-law had a lot of camphor, turpentine, and nature's oil that you had to take with sugar. My sister-in-law
gave her children turpentine every month. She'd give them a teaspoon of sugar with a few drops of turpentine. I said, "Lizzie, what do you do that for?" "Well, to keep the worms out of their stomachs," she said. So they would not have worms. And then they had the wormatage for worms too. They had so many funny remedies, I think.
Roz: Did they seem to work?
Pearl: They seemed to, they thought. And I know there was one family down here that were Christian Scientists. She wouldn't let her children have any medicine at all, and the little kids next door, they would taunt them, and throw pills over in the yard and say, "Take those." But they had the whooping cough. They were real sick, but she wouldn't let them give them any medicines.
Roz: Did she use a lot of home cures for things then?
Pearl: One poor little grandmother, she had smallpox, and they had a pest house right over the hill there by the lake, somewhere out that way. They had a pest house, and when they'd get sick with the scarlet fever, they'd take them out there. Aunt Pearl was at our house one time, and she was so sure it was the smallpox. She took it, and then she died, and they took her up and buried her up here. She said she was scared to death of the smallpox.
Roz: Did they have the diseases that people have now, cancer and heart attacks and strokes?
Pearl: No. I don't think they did. I think those innoculations helped a lot. Anyway, I imagine they do. I know one time my doctor said, "Do you have a cold?" And I said, "No." and I hacked or coughed, and he said, "Give her a shot." This big nurse down here, the first thing I knew she had a big needle. I said it looked like a crochet hook. She jabbed me with that. I said, "My goodness, that hurt," after she gave me the shot. I said, "Dr. Lamme, I don't have a cold." He said, "Well, you coughed." I said, "I don't have a cold." They give innoculations for everything now, I think. Scarlet fever and smallpox, they don't have any of those diseases anymore. I think it is on account of those innoculations. I really do. The children don't have colds like they use to either. I think it is a requirement that they have to take those in school now, don't they? I believe they have to.
Roz: What kind of holidays did people celebrate then?
Pearl: The Fourth of July. I always wonder whatever became of all the catalpa trees over here where Mr. Taft has his place. There were all these catalpa trees. I wonder if they have died. Because we always had Chataqua every year, we always had Chataqua there. It was a great big entertainment. Oh, the man would get up there and there would be all kind of entertainment. Oh, we used to have a big Chataqua. I don't remember what it was, maybe a dollar to get in that day. And they had seats in an open tent. But every year we had that. We miss that. Then they had picture shows. They had two picture shows here at the Mitchell Theater. I think it burned down finally. And then they had one here on Main Street, The Spur. But that man went to Denver, Pueblo.... that run the Spur Theater. We just don't have anything like we did anymore. We don't have anything.
Roz: Didn't there used to be a bank here too?
Pearl: Oh yes, a nice bank. They said he went broke. And this man, he started the bus. He was Pete Gross. He told me that he lost $10,000 there. But I don't know. My brother-in-law said that he lost $10,000. But I think they were reimbursed. I think they got part of it back. Their money was guaranteed, I think.
Roz: Was there a bus that went into Walsenburg from La Veta?
Pearl: No, it was just a local bus. Just had buggies and horses, just teams. I know my brother-in-law had a team that went as far as Pueblo with just a team.
Roz: And how long would that take?
Pearl: Well, two hours to....well, it took all day. We'd go and do our shopping and come back.
Roz: Was the church more active in those days?
Pearl: Yes, we've always had churches. And we use to have five. We had the Baptist Church, Christian Science Church, Methodist, Presbyterian, but the Presbyterian minister, he doesn't come anymore. I think they've all joined the Methodists. We've always gone to our Baptist Church. Our Baptist Church was built, I think, in 1872. Anyway, there was one down on the creek, and they moved it up here. And they used to baptize down in the creek. They'd take them way down there across by Adolph Goemmers, across that bridge, and there was a big hole, and they'd baptize them. And one time there was a big fellow got baptized. I forgot his name. They had a little preacher, and he nearly drowned the preacher. My husband was about 20 years older than me, and I was sort of an orphan. I didn't get to go very much. I didn't get to go with very many guys. This one guy that I really corresponded with for about a year from June 26 one year to June 26 the next year in Pueblo, and that was the guy I wanted, but my sister didn't. Then they picked out your companion. They didn't let you have a choice.
Roz: So there was a very different method of choosing marriage partners.
Pearl: Yes, and my brother-in-law said, "You'd better be an old man's darling than a young man's slave." My niece, Neva Kelly up in Lafayette said, "Aunt Pearl, you were a regular slave on the ranch. You did all that work, milked cows and everything." And
when my husband was on the jury, I'd milk 18 cows all by myself, separate all that milk and everything.
Roz: What did your husband do?
Pearl: He was a farmer. His father and mother lived on the first homestead up the Cuchara, and Mr. Ellis Smith, Mae Smith Weir's father, they came from the south, from Georgia. And they located up on the, he had a homestead up here on the Cuchara, below the Kitchen place. And he said that Edna Grubby and Mr. Smith came from the south and went up there and drank a bottle of brandy.
But I never did understand why my dad brought my mother off that plantation to here.
Roz: Was that after the Civil War?
Pearl: She had three children, and she didn't have the care of any til she come out here. And Aunt Kanzadey, a colored woman, took care of them. And they said they just loved my grandfather. They were still slaves, but they just loved him because he gave them a good living. They said he just treated them so well, they just loved him. My dad always said he obeyed my grandmother's wishes. "She didn't want me to bring your mother out here until she died." My grandmother was Jane Moore. He granted her wishes. He left her there until my grandmother died. I never knew my mother or any of her folks at all. that's an awful way to live. And then that Bible. I was nearly sick when I lost that.
Roz: Where did you go to school?
Pearl: Right over there in the big brick schoolhouse. The first teacher was Miss Moss. She taught primary, and I'll never forget how she ate chalk. She just loved chalk. Oh, she wheezed, eating chalk. She was eating chalk all the time. I said, "Miss Moss, why do you eat chalk?" She said, "I like it." I said, "Well, I don't like it." I remember all the little Ritter children. They're all gone. That's Ray Ritter. He had croup, and he'd get to wheezing. You could hear him all over the schoolhouse, and it scared us all to death, and they'd have to come take him home. He had the croup. Most every day he had the croup. We had this mail carrier in Walsenburg, and he died after that, he shot himself. He committed suicide after his wife left him. Joe Rodriguez was a mail carrier too, and he died. We ran their ranch over on the Huajatollas. They had to leave. They were heavily mortgaged, so we moved up there for awhile. And my little boy, he was about, he was just toddling around, and my daughter was about, there was thirteen years difference. I always wanted a black-eyed boy. There was thirteen years difference. And so I went outside to hang up clothes and left the rinse water sitting on the floor. I don't know why I did that. He fell in there twice. The last time his face was purple. That taught me a lesson. I never left the rinse water on the floor because he almost drowned. You just have to be right on your toes. But he was the cuttiest thing. And he went to school over here same as me. He'd go on the bus. And one day he said, "There's a little girl got sweet peas, and she got so sick." And I could hardly keep from laughing. I said, "Well, honey, who was that little girl?" He said, "Well, she's little Elsie Hunt." She's Elsie Herd, and she's down here as a clerk now. Don't dare tell her that. You know she is nervous anyway....she got so sick. And I didn't dare let him see me laughing. He said, "That little girl got so big on peas, and she just got so sick." He had a little drawl, you know....he wrote me a letter on his last furlough. He was back on two furloughs, and he said he didn't tell me he was going to be shipped out, but I just kind of thought maybe he was going to be shipped over. He said he was going to be stationed in New York. Next word I got, they were in Holland. The last letter he wrote was the 30th of September, and he was killed the 4th of October, and he said, "Momma, the Dutch people over here, the Holland people, are so good to us. He just loved pears. He said, "They give us pears and milk and bread and eggs." There was a fifth thing. His letters are all in my cedar chest. I ain't got nerve to read it. His last letter was written the 30th of September. He never wanted me to worry. He said, "Now Mom, don't worry. There's nothing to worry about." He always said there was nothing to worry about. So I wrote to a buddy when his few little belongings come home. I don't think they belonged to him, only one letter. It had five addresses. So I wrote to the last girl's address. Her name is Barbara Thompson, and she referred to a buddy. She said, "I think now if you write to this buddy, he'll tell you all about how he got killed". So I got the loveliest letter. He said, "Kitch and three others went out of the foxhole to a little shack to get food for the following day. We didn't have any food. And here come the Germans with a heavy barrage of shells, just like hail, and two ran out and two of us on non-combat duty." I wish my boy had stayed in that shack. I guess they thought they were going to set it on fire, and they ran out, and they fell right there, just riddled, I guess. And then the Red Cross nurse called and said, "Mrs. Kitchen, we're moving those sanitaries. Do you want your boy's body brought home or left here?" And I said, "No, he always wanted to be brought home. He just loved it here." So they furnished a beautiful steel casket and everything, but it wasn't much satisfaction. I went to Walsenburg. An escort came with him, and our preacher went down, Reverend Drew, and he said, "Would you like to ask questions? I'll answer any questions." I said, "That's not any satisfaction, that flag draped casket. I don't know if that's my boy's body or not." He said, "In all possibility that's your boy's body". And I said, "I don't think it is." And Ann Perry said, "You should talk to Mrs. Kitchen. Tell her that it is." I said, "I don't know. It may be some other boy's." And I heard that they didn't dare open that casket. But one man had an acetelyne welder, and he opened his, and he said it was full of rocks. They said that it was against the law to open it. But it was a beautiful steel casket. I asked all kinds of questions, and he said, "I'll answer any questions that I can." And he said in all possibility that was his body. He is buried up here in my plot. So I took it for granted. Maybe it is. Well if it wasn't, maybe some other mother's son. I didn't know what to do about it then. I think you do doubt it if they don't let you see it. Under the circumstances, I wouldn't want to see it because it was just blowed to pieces. There wouldn't be much in there anyway. So wherever he fell. And then there was Mr. Ferrari's boy, and he was drowned, I think, and they wouldn't let him see his boy's body. So I don't know. And then there was another couple that lost their only son up here years ago, and they didn't want his body to come back. They said, "Let the tree lay where it fell." They just had one son. they lost their boy in the First World War, and they lived up here in the Marker house. The Hubbards lost a son also. There's too many boys out of La Veta. There were about eight that were killed. they had no business whatever in that Holland. I just didn't like that President at all. He said, "They'll never set foot on foreign soil." And he was shipping them right over. What can you do? You can't do a thing about it. First my son-in-law killed. then my grandson was killed. Then my son was killed. Just have to take it. You can't do anything about it. Course my husband, he was about 90 before he died. And he was feeble, and he was ready to go.
Roz: How long ago was that?
Pearl: He died in 1960. My grandson was killed in 1970. And Mary has the trailer court up here. He left her a very good means of living. He built three very good houses. He built the log house around the corner, and then he built the big place up there, and he put all those hookups for trailers. I guess they're all full. He left her with four children. Gary and Carla Ann and Nancy and Marilyn. They're all down in Texas now. Two girls got married down there, and I imagine Nancy will. She is about 17. I think she has one more year in High School. I imagine she'll end up down there. They married real good men. One married a monitor in the bank, and one married a corn and cotton farmer, and Gary married a little gal up in Minnesota. He is in the Coast Guard. And he never liked it. I said, "Gary, did you always get homesick?" He said, "Not after I got Valerie." She's a sweet little person. She only weighed 98 pounds, and she wasn't very tall. They have a little boy. That Jeremy, I sure want to see him cause last year he was here. I had a little owl necklace that was given to me down at the museum that I was going to send to my daughter because her hobby was owls. He got hold of that and wouldn't let loose of it. I had to put it around his neck, and that was it. He got an owl necklace.
Roz: Do you ladies have to get going? I see that you are watching the clock.
Daisy: It's after 11:00.
Pearl: Oh, is it? We have to go down to eat, and then we have to go to the funeral after.
Roz: I would like to come back and talk with you another time. I have really enjoyed talking with you.
Pearl: I hope this has helped you.
Roz: It has a lot. This is just what we want, and the kids want to know what it was like in the old days. And you're telling me.
Pearl: I wish I had more. I wish I knew what my poor old brothers and all of them knew. They had string teams and mule teams down in the mining camps, and one of them was the Marshall, my oldest brother, Morgan, they said he was. Oh, there was three children, and he was born in 1868, three of them come over here from the big plantation. I sure did ask my Dad, "Why did you bring my mother to this godforsaken country?" And they dug holes in all these mountains, I think, looking for gold, and they never did add a bridge. It was awful. Well, the Sporleaders are a pretty old family too, aren't they? And I belong to the Territorial Daughters and Rebeccas, and the Baptist Church.
END OF INTERVIEW
Back to the Oral Interviews Main Page
Return to the Huerfano County Home Page
© Karen Mitchell