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Scanned by Dick Chenault
Edited by Louise Adams
Interviewed by Julia Romero
Date of Interview - 9-11-1979
Parents – Manuel Garcia, Marina Hurtado Garcia
Maternal grandparents – Pablo Hurtado, Felicita Aragon
Paternal grandparents – Norberto Garcia, Julia Garcia
Ethnic group – Spanish
Location of first family settlement – Huajatolla, North Veta
My name is Daniel Garcia. My father is Manuel Garcia and my mother was Marina Hurtado Garcia. My grandparents on my mother's side were Pablo Hurtado and Felicita Aragon. Parents of my father were Norberto Garcia and Julia Garcia.
Father had told me that they had come from New Mexico, from Questa, New Mexico. From there they came and lived at the Huajatolla, my grandfather Norberto Garcia had a ranch there. One hundred-sixty acres he had. They harvested beans, corn and alfalfa for the animals and my father Manuel Garcia also had a ranch. He had about forty acres there when I was very young. He used to harvest there too, the same as my grandfather did.
My sister was named Felomena and the other Palmeria and half sisters Lucie Cordova and Synida Cordova. They were half sisters only. And brothers, the oldest is Silvano Garcia and then it's Valdo Garcia and then Felix Garcia.
When I was young I remember I used to help father on the ranch. I kept growing, afterwards I helped him cut lumber on the La Veta Pass and to stack hay there in Huajatolla on ranches in La Veta, and from there on I grew big and I started in the coal mine.
Cameron mine is the first one I worked and then Ideal. Do you want me to tell you all the mines? Well, I worked at Ideal; I worked in Pryor in the 30's. Six years I put in the mine at Pryor. Then, when I was still young, I worked in Baldwin too and I worked in Grovenson for the C.F. & I. I worked in Mutual when I was 22 years old and then in the same year, 1922, I got married. Then I got work in Oakview, it was a better mine. From there I went to Alamo.
We used to live here in the little house of Joe Joseph, the one that burned not too long ago. After that I worked in Sunnyside. I worked in old Turner. Over there in the north I worked in Graydon, north of Denver. I worked in Columbine, I worked in the state, I worked the Regal mine. In Marshall, I worked for Guy Danis, Mike Rampa, and then I worked for Tony Guilardo, and I worked for a lawyer from Denver. Troy was the lawyer's name. That's all of the mines. I forgot two, I worked at Moffitt in the Penicule mine and I worked in Wyoming, the name of the mine was Winton Mine. That's all the mines I worked in. I worked about 30 or 40 different mines. And I can't get the Black Lung. I'm waiting for it now; they said that now they are going to send it to me. Who knows?
When I was little and young we used to play the “Chueco.” Those were the games then, see. And to the school we used to go about five miles. From the ranch to about the lake, on foot. Then I was in Catholic School afterwards, and then in Washington here in Walsenburg. That was all the school I had because I was all the time occupied on the ranch with father.
My pastime was…I had a lot of saddle horses too. I was very good at busting broncs too. There was no Mexican in Bear Creek like me. I tamed a little bull of about two years and I would herd the cows with me on him. I used to herd the cows. Yeah, sure that was my preoccupation, there wasn't anything else. That is all I remember.
When someone of the family got sick, I would come to Walsenburg for the doctor and for the priest too, for my grandmother who was very sick. There was a medicine person there in Bear Creek who they called Marianita. I think she was Jaramillo, her husband was Jorge Jaramillo. I don't know what else to say here. When someone else of the family got sick, I remember mother used a lot of times, for some sickness, spearmint. For other illness is poleo, osha, and mensania was used a lot there for the stomach. I don't know what else, that was what mother had there.
When I started going to dances I really liked the dances at the lake, Norte Veta; the Sandy Arroyo is where I went to dances. A lot of times there were fights, we used to get in fights there. Some terrible fights. We were just kids at the dances. But they never hit me, never. There were a lot of times that they thought they could hit me pretty easy, see. But it would come out expensive for them, because I would hit them. Here in Walsenburg, at the McAbee we went to dances and there too there were fights all of a sudden.
Here on this street, the brick school building that's here for offices now. We were there for a wedding of a friend of mine, Tino Pineda, that is where the dance was. A fight was there, then they finished it at the McAbee. They left here to finish the dance there because of the fight that was here. It was something to see. I don't know who won, I don't remember, not us, it was some other boys who fought and finished the dance.
That's what I remember about being young. We were the dickens when we were boys. We were such fighters. I never looked for trouble, we never liked to fight. But I used to exercise here in Walsenburg. I knew how to fight. Do you remember Eno Sanchez, Pantaleon Sanchez and Lee Sanchez, son of Julian? And Sam Taylor and Buddy Silver? All of us used to exercise there. Armenio Martinez, son of Amarante who used to live here. Alberto Salas, there were many who used to fight here and I never knew in my life what it was to faint. I don't know but a lot were hit and they fell, fainted. Not me, never.
In Lafayette, I knew your relative Rane Manzanares. He was a professional. He fought in the ring. We traveled to far places boxing. I know because I lived in Lafayette for years. I knew Don Luis Manzanares, Joe Manzanares, Felix Manzanares, Fred son of Reyes Manzanares and the Atencios, I knew them all. Your father I knew well, Fred, well, well.
There was a time, there in La Veta, see, I knew two boys for a long time who were sons of the deceased Gregorio Pacheco. Their mother was named Sabina Pacheco for her husband. These boys, Luis, one time threw a rock at Dave Bellows head and then he took out a knife and stabbed him, he cut his throat but he got well that Dave. After that I heard that Dave had got killed because he was a boss on the section, I guess, in La Veta and he used to come this way and the track motor car went up and then he killed himself.
Luis Pacheco and Juan de Dios the two brothers, Juan de Dios was younger than Luis. There in Wellington, Wyoming a rancher owed them and they went to collect and I guess he didn't pay them and they killed the man. Then they came and shot the lady, that's the way they told me, and they wrapped her in a mattress, then took her outside and they put gasoline on the mattress and lit the mattress with a match. It was in flames and she, the lady, was not unconscious. She was pretending to be dead. See! Alive, alive. Then when she saw that they had left, she got up and she went to a ditch that was there, a big ditch and she went hiding when they were going on the road, she would hide in the woods of the trees. She went and told, and they got them, because afterwards they robbed a lot and they had everything in a pile and hid it in a hole, a tunnel, and then they got them with meat, jewelry, and I don't know what all. They went to the electric chair. They killed them in Canon City. The two of them. The two brothers were killed there. That's the only thing I know of bad incidence in La Veta.
Well, in '40, see, in 1940 I went north to Denver and I got work with some Japanese, about a forth mile from Longmont. There was a store there that was called Ideal Market and I used to earn at that time, $2.00 a day on the ranch. Two dollars a day. I remember well, I use to send my boy, the oldest, right across the highway. You know, there was a rancher that had a lot of chickens to sell eggs and everything and we used to buy eggs for 10 cents a dozen. I got to hate them; I don't eat them any more. I have them there. Sometimes I throw them away. I don't like the eggs anymore. I ate a lot; I used to like them a lot then. I just got tired of them all.
With $12.00 a week that I got paid every Saturday, we used to go to the Ideal Market, my wife and I, and we would bring enough food for the month. Not like now, in a little sack. A sack of 50 pounds of flour, sugar, enough lard. Compared to now it was a relief. And we had money left for the family, because I raised a large family. We were 10 in the family, a very big family and we didn't pass any bad times, just when there was a week that no one worked. I didn't have any help except for the oldest, he used to help me in the fields because I got a contract with the Japanese. He used to help me a little but he didn't know, I taught him to work in the beets.
From there I made money and bought the house in Lafayette, see. I made good at topping beets. For topping I made good money and bought the house in Lafayette on Chester Street, that was 206 Chester. Afterwards in the winter I worked in the mines, all the mines in the north.
When I got married, I married in 1922, the feast was in the Ideal camp of the C.F.&I because that's where I worked. And the dance was here in Ravenwood, the school house of Ravenwood. Yeah! And there I rented a house in Ideal, and we moved to Ideal, we were just married. The following year we went to Oakview. Yeah! The custom in those days was to make a feast. It was a big feast, and a lot of people went to the dance from all over. I had many friends, see. At the feast we had a lot of whiskey, wine and everything, candy, oranges, cookies and much, much cost, my dad and I made. He helped me with the cost. The prendorio and wedding was for two days, first the prendorio then the wedding. I don't know how to explain. I always saw that there was a prendorio and wedding but I don't know how to explain it.
When I told father that I wanted to get married, and mother, they went to ask for the bride. My woman was named Stella Cruz and I was lucky that I got married with her, they let me.
Well, you know that I too participated in the Moradas of the penitents, my grandfathers were from there, my uncles, the Hurtados and my in-laws, and my father-in-law participated too, that I remember. All the people from the Laguna. They were penitents. But then I did not like it. I participated for eight years only, then I left because it just didn't seem right. It seemed like it was mocking God. What person in the world could do the penance that God made. That's what I thought. See! I said it's like mocking God when he died, crucified on the cross. Then I said “no” and I quit. Me and my uncle Geromino, who lived across the river, we quit at the same time, the both of us. From then on, yes, I used to go to the wakes and the tenebrae and all that penitents had. I finally quit altogether. I never went back and I won't go back either.
At that time, see, the ones that participated, used to go spend the week at the Morada and then there were people who offered to make the meals, some the breakfast and others at noon, and others in the evening. Then we had to get the food from the depository, over there by the lake. Us brothers would go for the food, then we would take it back, everything that we needed. Jars and everything they would send us for. The stations too, we went praying the stations to the Calvary.
They had a Calvary close to the depository, and one would go to the Calvary to pray the Rosary. It was very far from the Morada. I remember that they used to make wakes, too, at the time. Every night there was a wake at the depository for the sainted time. There, one had to fast all week. We didn't have breakfast. There were about 35 when I was there. That's about all I remember from that business there.
At the time of Holy Week, my mother would grind wheat and she made what they called “panocha.” That's what I liked best, always. For Holy Week mother used to make it in an iron bucket in the outside oven. It used to come out so good there were no leftovers. And pies that she made for me, that I liked a lot, were of pineapple. Pineapple pies. Mother used to make those for me, she was really good.
They used to cook for Holy Week, wild spinach, that mother used to dry squash and that way, all from the ranch. Lentils, peas used to eat a lot when she cooked. But the cow milk, I didn't like. We had many good milk cows, I never liked fresh milk or cheese or cream. I buy nothing like that, because I don't like it. I have never liked it. I used to see my little brothers over there with choke-cherry jam and cream. “No, no, no,” I'd tell them, I don't like it, just looking at it. I don't like curdled milk or butter, I don't like it. I'm different, I don't know why. The rest used to eat a lot. All the people that I saw, my uncles, my aunts, but I never liked it since I was little.
And you know, when I was a baby, when I was born, my mother used to tell me that I was freckled. I was freckled when I was a little bit bigger. I remember my hair, blond, blond it was. I remember I had two braids. She had them in the little box in the sewing machine. She saved them there. She tied them with a red ribbon, they were long like that, there were two. I weighed three pounds when I was born, wrapped in diapers. Then mother got sick of her breasts, and the milk was not good that she had. And you know how I have life? The mother of Amarante Martinez, who was named Shon, she took me to her home, and she had Armenio, already big, he was walking already, he was big now, see. She raised me. She had me for a long time. When Shon brought me back, my mother's milk got good again. It was about four months since she seen me. She didn't recognize me from the weight I had gained. I was big now, and I had weighed only three pounds. That's what she used to tell me. I could fit in a shoebox. Yeah! Isn't that something?
It was in those times, when I was in school, there was talk that the “Llorona” was around. That they used to hear it cry in the river, in the trees, there on the passage up the hill, there in those places. They used to say it used to come out every night and cry. But one time I was going along and I heard a cry, but it was an owl like thing. They're like an owl but much smaller. Then another had told about seeing the “Llorona” by the river, she was wrapped in a white sheet. I think they were lies. I think so because no one saw her but him. That's all I know about visions.
I forgot to tell you about the accident I had when I worked at Columbine. My wife told me that she wanted to clean some clothes with gasoline, my suits, clothes. It was night and dark. I didn't take a light, I didn't light a match, no flashlight or anything. I had no light and I took the plug out of the car tank. I laid down with my legs under the car to put the plug back in. I couldn't see because it was dark. At that time the bucket was filled with a gallon of gasoline. The bucket was a big one, a 5 lb. one. It was a gallon. My first cousin came out, Carlos Chavez, son of my Aunt Rosella Chavez and he lit a match. The Sulphur flew from his pants and fell straight to where I was in the gasoline. The car caught on fire and then I spilled the gas on my legs from my anxiousness to flee the fire. They took off all my flesh from the end of my buttocks down to here, I had white bones on both legs. All white. I don't know how I escaped. I think it was God that cured me, with the help of the doctors, yes, because I didn't have a way to escape. The doctors told all the mourners that there was no remedy but to die. I was so dreadfully burned. But I got well. Yeah! That's what happened to me. The story goes on. When I got burned they put me in a room and disrobed me. Entering were men only, to see me. There was a gringo who had gone with us to San Jose, his name was Johnny McQuen and he took me a pint of whiskey, full pint, and for me to drink it right away because he felt so bad for me, to see the way I was, so burned. So I drank it to take away some of the pain, it was like drinking water, but the pain didn't stop. The pain was too strong. I used to look at myself, in front I had a dresser with a big mirror, and I could see myself on back. I looked like a wash board from the marks on my skin. All the way down. All of it, everything.
Then they spoke to Dr. Yoder from Lafayette and the doctor went and cured me with olive oil, he put it all over me, all over my body and put bandages. Then they called the ambulance that used to come from Boulder and they took me to the Community Hospital of Boulder. I stayed 37 days in the hospital. Very burned. Even my teeth were ruined, I used to bite the ice cutes and bite on them from the anxiousness that I had. What anxiousness! I'd grind them and my teeth were loose. When they would take the flesh off my legs I began to grow my skin back. I could see my flesh on a table where they were taking it off and throwing it on a pile of newspapers that was on the little table there. My flesh. And I didn't faint. Nothing like that. I was strong. They thought I was going to die that day, because there was a nurse holding my face watching them. Like that. I told the Dr. “cure me good so I can heal.” “That's what we're doing,” said the Dr. “Making an attempt so you can get well, save you.” Yeah! I think that's all.
End of Interview
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