Huerfano County, Colorado
Oral Interviews

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Nell Frost

Scanned by Dick Chenault
Edited by Patricia Mata
Date of Interview - 8-2-1979

Nell Frost
Date of birth - 5-16-1905
Mother - Nancy Ora McCrary
Family origin - Kansas
Date of arrival in County - 1941-1947
Location of first family settlement - South Bradford
Kinship ties - son in California
Profession - Teacher, taught 19 years in Alamosa, 6 years in Texas

This is Rosalyn McCain, and I am talking with Nell Frost in her home in La Veta. Mrs. Frost preferred not to use the tape recorder so these are notes taken in talking with her.

I taught at South Bradford School, eleven miles above Gardner, in 1933 for seven years. I came here into La Veta in 1941. All of my good old neighbors are gone, but one, Josie Wolf, Mrs. Paul Wolf. Her daughter, Marge Riggins, lives here in La Veta.

I came here from Cheney, Kansas. I taught school in Kansas and Oklahoma. Bradford was a one-room school. It had all the eight grades. In my diary from 1937, I find the names of Pacheco, Cerda, Schmidt, Roche, and Baker as my students. I also taught, my own child, until the fifth grade when we came here to La Veta. There were two families of Bakers. I had ten pupils the first day of school. There were also two families of Pachecos. There were sawmills in the vicinity, and the sawmill people came and went.

I taught one year at the Ritter School, near La Veta. Then I taught in La Veta for nine years. I had one room here in La Veta. There was no government intervention in those days. There were no programs you had to keep books for. There was no government money. We didn't need it. We did well without it. Now there are so many extras. We used to have fifteen-minute recess twice a day, and that was P.E. Kids used to stay in school. They were not out on the streets like they are now. There were no hot lunches. Students brought their lunches or went home to eat.

They rode horseback to school in Gardner. We got drinking water from a spring at the bottom of the hill. The kids went after it. They passed by the spring on the way to school they walked up and brought the bucket, and it would usually last a whole day. We had outdoor toilets. There was a barn for the kid's horses.

We voted in Gardner. Texans came and bought up the land. There used to be more families there. At that time, the JM Ranch was the biggest in the vicinity. They had two extra houses that Mexican people who worked for them lived in. Fifty percent of my students were Mexican. They were the first Mexican people I had ever talked to. I knew nothing about them. All of them knew English. There was not much conflict between the Anglo and Mexican students. They didn't fight any more than, if they had all been one nationality. When they fought, it was usually a matter of rock throwing because the school was on top of a hill covered with rocks.

Most people had cars, and there were not many pickups. People went to Walsenburg maybe twice a month. There were two or three general stores in Gardner. One sold clothes, shoes and groceries. That was the Hudson's Mercantile. Bill Anges' store was the other grocery store. Mrs. McCosh had a restaurant that was the best pie to eat in all of Huerfano County.

We didn't have a car when we first moved there. We got one a couple of years later. We had the best neighbors in the world. Some of the Mexican people didn't have cars. Other neighbors who had cars were wonderful they took our grocery lists, got our mail and sometimes my sister would go to town with them. We shopped out of catalogues. There were dances everywhere, at the Redwing Hall, North and South of Bradford and in people's homes. They were a weekly event. There was a CCC camp just above Gardner, and they used to have dances there, on Highway 69. Some people named Rule lived near it.

The Choin family had a little house by the turnoff to Greenhorn. Mrs. Choin was a dear soul. They had a Women's Society in the Gardner Church. They had a secret pals, and one year Mrs. Choin was mine. She gave me a hand towel with a cabin embroidered on it, and it had a lot of work in it.

Parents are very permissive with their children now. The parents are afraid of their children. This is just another generation. The last two generations have been more permissive than the ones before.

When I came to La Veta, anyone with a car drove up and down Main Street, and they would drag Main. That certainly has not changed. I wonder if there was as much child abuse then. I know some were mistreated badly then, not like some of the horrible things, you read about these days.

The doctor at the mining camps, like Tioga, was the closest. Tioga was a little town. We went to the mine doctor. Later he had an office in Gardner. There was a County Nurse, and Dr Freeland came with her to vaccinate the school kids. They did not treat head lice or impetigo although they would check for them. They just vaccinated the students. I remember Ivydell Rowe Hall, was a nurse. She later moved to La Veta and married the mayor. She moved to Denver after he died. I remember the Pacheco's daughter had lots of kids. Their car broke down one night and it was really cold. They came to my door; the mother had a baby in her arms and the others. The baby was sick. It breathed like a saw rasping. The father got the car started finally but the baby died in the night of pneumonia. Pneumonia was a great concern. Many years ago in La Veta, there was a Scarlet fever epidemic. Nearly every family lost a child. Then there was meningitis. When they built the railroad, they had a lot of Chinese laborers who got smallpox. A lot of them are buried in our cemeteries. In 1918, the flu took a lot of people.

There was not much sickness in Gardner that I remember. You didn't hear about any heart disease or strokes, or cancer. Some horse accidents killed people. I never saw a rattlesnake. People talked about them, but I never saw a live one, and nobody every got bit that I heard of.

The neighbors liked us. We were young and full of fun and liked to go. We had a three-room adobe house with a basement. It was fairly new with hardwood floors. We paid $5.00 rent. We bought milk, eggs, turkeys, chickens, and butter from our neighbors. They gave us vegetables, venison, and beef.

I lived with my sister and my son. The kids got to school before me. They would build fire in the stove and walk to my house to walk back to school with me. The kids had chores. They did the milking. The Mexican kids had sheep to herd in the summer. One of the Anglo families had sheep.

The sheriff came from Walsenburg. There was some cattle rustling. There was a Mexican boy at Redwing messing around trying to break in and was shot.

We had some school holidays, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Washington and Lincoln's birthdays, Valentines Day and the Last Day.

We didn't go to church much because it was too far, and the roads were so bad. The roads and the hill were treacherous.

We didn't need much money. I made $75.00 a month. Wages went up $5.00 a month each year. Wages were low in La Veta when I came here.

We had radio, but there was no TV. Women got hooked on those soap operas just like they do now. My son listened to the Lone Ranger religiously.

La Veta was the first town in this part of Colorado to have dial telephones. They got them on a trial basis in 1941. There was no phone at South Bradford. Some of the neighbors had a phone.

Church was about like it is now except for the women's group. My sister, Mrs. Jones, was the president of the women's group in the early 1940's. She would drive to home demonstrations meetings and to the county agent in the courthouse for meetings. We shopped the mail order catalogues and in Walsenburg for clothes. We did buy dresses at the store in Gardner. These were some of the nicest dresses I ever had. One woman in the neighborhood did hair.

We played cards, High Five and Sluff. The men had poker games that was as important as the dances. How could I have forgotten that?

We would get snowbound, and the neighbors would come on horseback and take us home with them to spend the weekend. Sunday dinner was a big event. People would go from house to house and entertain two families at a time. We always got invited. I was in my early thirties and my sister was in her twenties. We were free and unattached. We were popular with the cowboys. They would have been just as good as gold to any other helpless woman. I never had seen a mountain before coming to Colorado.

They would take us on horse up Medano and go over to the sand dunes. We would fish and have a picnic. There were no fish and game laws, not that we ever heard about. People killed deer whenever they wanted meat. There were bears around and deer in the yards. A bear tore into a box of lard and ate it one night in the yard.

Our relatives came out from Kansas, and we would scare them about the bears, mountain lions, lynx cats and skunks. Dad would say, “Right here on the platform in from of Agnes” store were someone was shot.

There was an adobe post office. It got hit by so many cars that it finally fell down. The post office there now is in a trailer. Gardner had a high school and a Catholic School next to the church. Billy Agnes started at the Catholic School. He had a friend at the public school. He just started to go to the public school when his dad found out that he wasn't at the Catholic school, he allowed him to continue with his friends.

We didn't have any yard in Gardner. We pieced quilts and quilted them. We had geography contests at noon. I would piece quilts during those noon hour contests. All the boys in my classes learned to crochet rag rugs.

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