Huerfano County, Colorado
Oral Interviews

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Erema Davis Valdez

Scanned by Dick Chenault
Edited by Dick Chenault
Date of Interview - 7-7-1979
Interviewed by Cleo Bellah

Erema Davis Valdez
Date of birth - 11-18-1895
Married - 1-24-1924
Parents - Cosme Davis and Polita Duran
Paternal grandparents - Antonio Davis and Inasita Gutierrez
Maternal grandparents - Patrocinio Duran and Julianita Benavides
Location of first family settlement - Hastings, Co.

My name is Erema Davis Valdez. I am 84 years old and I was born in Hastings, Colorado in 1895.

My father was a stable boss at Hastings. He took care of the mules, fed them and harnessed them before they went in, took 'em in, you know, to work in the mine. He worked at the mines just before he was killed. He was killed in 1922. He had always been a stable boss, but at that time, you know, they were making good money in the mines. So he went in with one of my uncles, one of his brothers. He worked, I guess about a week, when he got killed.

I went to school in Hastings until I was about 11 years old, when we moved to Delaqua. They had opened a mine there, and he went there and he was a stable boss there too. Went to school there, and from there we moved to Bowen, Colorado, a few miles this side of Trinidad, (north) and he was a stable boss there too. Attended school there.

And after my father remarried, I went to stay with them. (My step- mothers name). He married Doloritas Duran. I stayed with them there and I went to school there also. Then after she died, I went with my grandmother. They lived in Hastings for awhile, then from there they moved to a farm at Gulnare, Colorado. I went to school there too. After my grandmother died, we went to stay with my father. We kept house for him and went to school in Delagua. I had a brother; he was killed in a mine. He was 16 years old. He was killed in Delaqua mine, in an explosion that they had there.

After my grandmother died we stayed with my father you know, for a while, then he wanted to send us to the orphanage. The sisters (Nuns) came around you know, and told us well I guess they saw how we we're by ourselves, you know, and there were so many bachelors around and somehow I guess they didn't think it was proper, you know, for us to stay there. So we went to Sacred Heart Orphanage. I stayed there three years and than went in training for a nurse. I went to St. Louis, Missouri. I took up training. I worked in a hospital. I was about seventeen then. I took up training, I got my diploma. I had to take my state boards. I worked there for about seven years and then I was sent to another hospital. I went to Murphysboro, Illinois and I worked at St. Andrews Hospital there. From there I came back to St. Louis and I worked there for about another year. And I think I went to Appleton, Wisconsin and I was there about another year and a half worked in the hospital. Oh yeah, I was always working in the hospital. From there I was sent to Waterloo, Iowa. In Waterloo, Iowa they have St. Francis Hospital and I worked there for about two years. In the hospital again, taking care of patients. There I worked in the nursery with the babies for about a year and a half and I then came hack to St. Louis, Missouri. I worked there until l922. In 1922 I got word that father got killed in the mine. I wanted to come home, but they wouldn't let me come home because I was on a special case, a Typhoid case, so they didn't think, it was you know, advisable to come, so I didn't get to come.

After that, I was so dissatisfied because, you know, I didn't get to come home to see him for the last time, even if he was dead. So I stayed on for two years, but I was very dissatisfied, so in 1924, in April I came home. My sisters met me In Pueblo at the depot there and we came home to Tallerburg where my sister lived.

Question: How many sisters do you have?

I have two sisters.

Question: Are they still alive?

Yeah, uh, no one of them is dead, Sarah is dead, the one I stayed with. My youngest sister Sadie, is still living and she lives in Denver. There is where I met my husband. In Delagua, we met and in January 24, we were married. In Mt. St. Raphaels. Church in Trinidad (not sure of the church name), but we were married there. There we met the priest and he married us on January 24, 1924. We stayed in Tallerburg with my sister for awhile (and where did he go to work?) Oh! his folks lived here. His mother lived, you know, in a little farm away from here. So he came to see his mother. Then he got it in his head that he wanted to go Sunnyside. They needed miners there so we moved from my sister's home, you know, to Sunnyside. We lived there about, oh, I think about a year. From there we went to Oakcreek. He worked in the mine there. Then from Oakcreek we went to Denver. We stayed in Denver, oh, about a year, then we came back to Sunnyside to work In the mine.

From Sunnyside we moved to Turner. We lived In Turner for about two years and a half and then we came here in—I can't remember——. We moved here in 1929. Then Viola was born that year. Then after Viola, I had Virginia. This is when I started taking care of women because there was so many poor people you know, during the depression that didn't have the money to pay the doctor and they had to have somebody to look after them.

Question: How did you get started delivering babies?

Oh! That was about 1929 when we came here. Well, see, I had worked with the babies, worked in the delivery room you know or the obstetrical department, (wing), and once people found out that I could deliver babies, you know during depression, they didn't have the money to pay the doctors, you know, so somebody had to take care of them. I never turned one down not because, you know, even if they didn't have a penny. I never turned anybody down.

Question: Do you remember the first baby you delivered? Was it a boy or a girl?

I delivered so many, honey, that I can't remember the first one.

The first one that I delivered was in Oakcreek. A lady that had come in from Mexico and whose husband had started working in the mine and she didn't know, she didn't know a word in English. So I felt sorry for her, so I just went over and stayed with her and delivered her baby. It was a little boy, but I don't remember what they named it, I don't remember her name. Honey, I have forgotten so many things, you know, but when I came here there were so may people, you know, they needed help, and they couldn't get it because they didn't have the money to pay for it.

I never, never turned anybody down no matter how poor they were. Sometimes they didn't have bedding or sheets. We even, between my daughters and I, we'd fix a box with groceries because they didn't have anything to eat. That was during the depression.

Question: When did you deliver the last baby?

That was right here in my own house, there were so many, you know, that came here. They didn't have nobody to take care of them at home, so I had them come down here and stay with me and I'd take care of them until they were ready to go home. Well, they were poor people, honey, what could I do? Somebody had to take care of them. An that's something that not just anybody can do. You know that.

Question: Did you ever have a doctor help you or you help a doctor deliver a baby?

Yes, Doctor Chapman, he always told me that if I ever needed any help just to call him, no matter how poor they were, that he would always come. He always came, he never turned me down. I never called him unless it was a breach or a hard case that would require instruments.

Question: What did they pay you with some of the time?

They paid me with whatever they could, a load of wood, some of them paid me with beans, you know, bring me a sack of beans.

Well when I took tare of Mrs. Cordova, they didn't have the money or they paid me with five dollars or bring me a sack of beans or bring me a lamb. And I delivered six of her babies.

Question: How many children did you have?

I had nine. Two are dead and I have seven children living.

Question: How many grandchildren do you have now?

I have, Dorothy has three, Adela has two, and my son Albert has four and Martha has two children, and one of her daughters has two children. Great grandchildren, I have Shawn, Patsy's two children, I don't remember their names. I know one is Brenda. Jeanie has two boys (great grandsons).

Question: What kind of transportation did they have when you were training?

Mostly train, sometimes horses. I would take either one to the station or to where ever they transferred me to. No transportation when I lived in the towns or mining camps. My husband would walk, (a pie) whenever he went to, see me, but……

Question: Can you describe your wedding?

Well, it wasn't a big wedding. My sister was there, my brother- in-law, my sister Sadie was there, my uncle and aunt stood up for us, you know, and their children. We didn't have a dance, we just had a dinner. We didn't want to go through any commotion.

Question: Whenever you delivered, the babies, did you ever prescribe any medicine at all?

The only thing that I can say that Dr. Chapman gave me was Urget, Urgettrait, to give the patients for excessive bleeding. That would contract the uterus. It would stop the uterus from bleeding. I never really needed it unless I really needed it.

I don't go out much anymore, but I enjoy my time embroidering and crocheting and I love to cook. I don't eat much anymore, but I love to cook anyway.

I still have canned jelly that I canned about five years ago.

Question: Did you ever make soap?

No, I never did but my grandmother used to. Oh yes, she used to make a lot of soap. I never did. Like I quess, I was always able to buy it. I used to save for grease for somebody else. I used to wash by hand. Like I had so many children, I had a lot of washing to do by hand in the tub and washboards. I used to keep very busy with seven children and then like I used to go and deliver babies I kept busy.

Question: During the depression did you ever have to go on relief?

Oh yes, Oh yes, we had to go on relief. Then I worked at the store at Joe Bains for awhile. He was very good to us that way, so I worked there for a while.

Question: What were wages then?

A dollar a day. We were very happy to get that. But then you could buy more with a dollar then, than you could buy with ten today.

Neighbors were very helpful. We had to help each other. A lot of times they would get something and they would divide it with the neighbors like that. We had to do it. The depression was one thing that we should never forget. We used to get relief orders, the first thing I would do, would be to get shoes for the kids so that they could go to school. But you could get a pair of shoes at Joe Bains for 50 cents a pair. Sometimes a dollar. I remember the first pay I got from Joe Bains, I went and bought Albert a pair of shoes. I think I paid only 98 cents for them. I got him a pair of jeans and an unersuit. Gee, I never forget those times. I never forget those times, gee it was hard and I went out a lot but people were good to me, that way, those that were able to give me something, like when I went out to the farms and I delivered babies. Fred, Pete's wife, I stayed with her two weeks out at the Huerfano, and when I came home, oh she made up a box for me. She had flour, she had sugar, she had lard, well she had everything. She had a farm. Whatever she had at home, like jelly and all of that stuff, she gave me and it sure helped. Food was more valuable than money. I'll say it was.

Gee, It was horrible (the depression). Some of our neighbors were much worse off then we were. Because I at least could get out and get something, that helped. I remember Mrs. Kolvatch, she used to live by us, she had three boys, oh they didn't know what to do. They didn't have anything to eat. They used to come over to the house and even a piece of bread was welcome to them.

I even hate to think about those times, it was awful. It's hard to even imagine how you can go through something like that. But it did happen. It's part of our history. It happened. It did happen. I went around to so many people (pobrecitos) gee, it was terrible.

After Albert started working, he worked for Joe Bain for a while. He worked there then he started working for the W.P.A. and then is when we started, little by little getting ahead.

The first pay we got, I went and got shoes for the kids because I hated to see them with old ragged shoes. The welfare helped us. Red Cross helped us too; they used to be in the Courthouse down in the basement. Oh, many a time, these poor women, they didn't have anything; here I'd go with them to the welfare to see if I could get welfare for them. When the welfare wouldn't give them anything, I'd go to the County Commissioners and they would help then. They'd give them an order to some store. That was help for 'em. I didn't mind doing that because I knew I went through the same thing myself. So you appreciate when you can do something for somebody else.

Like I said, I never turned anybody down because they were poor or because they didn't have a way to pay.

Question: During the time that you were a midwife and attended so many women, did you ever come across illness such as typhoid fever, smallpox, etc?

Oh yes!

Question: Did you ever have to nurse anybody for that?

Not after I came back from the hospital in St. Louis, Missouri. Not after that. I did in the hospital. I was even a special nurse there for one case. That was the case I was in when my father got killed and they didn't want me to come, because I had been exposed to it, see. Oh my, but that hurt me. I can't think of it because it still hurts me.

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