Huerfano County, Colorado
Oral Interviews

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Louie Perrino

Scanned by Dick Chenault
Edited by Dick Chenault
Date of Interview - 6-6-1979

Louie Perrino
Date of birth - 3-12-1900
Parents - Dominico A. Perrino and Louisa Bucci Perrino
Family origin - Italy
Location of first family settlement - Turkey Creek

Gardner, Colorado

Both of my parents came from Napoli, Italy. My mother came here first. Then my Father came here later. My parents were married here. They never told me much about the old country. They came here because they liked it, I guess. My Dad worked in the coal mines. Then he bought land on Turkey Creek. After that he traded that land for some land four miles east of Badito on the Huerfano. We used to have alfalfa. Then we ran cattle. Now Gilbert's son runs it for me, but I still own it. But I can't stay down there by myself. Gilbert said “Why don't you come stay with me?” So I moved here.

I was born in the coal camps. I was born at Maitland on the way to Walsenburg, I went to school there, and I went to school on Turkey Creek. My brothers were all born at the coal camps, but not in the same place as me.

I remember the strikes. There were scabs and everything else.

They started fighting with each other. They tried to chase them out of the camps. They used to run the union out of the camps. They'd make them move out of the company houses. My family owned their own place. But if the company owned the house you lived in, you'd get run out if you went on strike. My father went out on strike. I was just a kid during all that strike business. It was awful hard times for the miners. They used to live in tents and everything else.

They had a little fight at Maitland, but not too bad. They did kill part of the people at Ludlow. Yeah, Ludlow. Boy, one time me and my brother went over there, and they had a big concrete tombstone and had the names of all of them that got killed and they have some kind of memorial service every year, I think on Memorial Day. I went once or twice and listened to them talk about it.

If they settled the strike it would be all right. If they didn't settle the strike, it's bad that's all. Wages would get better after the strikes. A lot of people got killed and hurt under the mines, ones I know of. My Dad got hurt in a car accident down under the mine. Yeah, lots of them. I remember nearly every day they used to pull dead men or men that was hurt out of the mine. Well, they had to have the coal to heat the houses.

This guy across the street here, Faustine Cerde, used to live In the coal camps, and I used to like to get together to talk to him about that coal camp. I like to talk to him. I was raised by that coal camp, and he was too. Then I go over there, we talk about that coal mine and times and about the strike. I like to talk to him about that. Yeah, those coal mines weren't too good. When they went on strike, they'd stay on strike. They wanted more wages. I was born and raised in the coal mines. All my brothers were too, for that matter.

Life wasn't too bad though. In them days they didn't pay like they do now. In them days they used script. They didn't pay real money like they do now. It was just like money, but you could just spend it at the mine store. Outside you couldn't spend that kind of money. They wouldn't take it. That was all they'd give you.

We had our own home, but a lot had to pay rent out of their script. This guy across the road, his Dad used to be a coal miner. We used to talk about those coal mines. In them days they used to have mules down in the mines. I guess they used them to pull the cars down in the mines.

In them days we had awful good times. It's different now. This here is no good. There was more work then. On the farm it was the same thing. The farmers used to raise their own stuff. They never went to the store to buy anything. They used to raise their own stuff — wheat, barley, hogs, meat — all that stuff. We raised our own stuff. We took our wheat to the mill to grind it into flour. That mill isn't there any more, They abandoned It.

We used to raise all kinds of crops. My mother used to be a gardener. She grew an awful good garden. All the Spanish women used raise their own garden stuff. They never went to the store like they do now. They raised meat and everything. Nowadays they go to the store and to the store, store, store. Them days were good days. It's not like that now. My mother made my clothes. Those were good women in those days. Women these days look to me like they get kind of lazy. They aren't like my mother. They'd can stuff for the winter. People went to the store for sugar and coffee, and that was about all.

There were five children in my family. I'm the only left now. They've all passed away. I was 13 or 14 when my family moved to the ranch. I liked it on the ranch better than I did around the coal camps.

Then we started farming, we had sheep, hogs, a few cows. Yep, those coal camps were all right. The schools were the same. There were camp doctors. They came to your homes or they'd go to the mines if someone got hurt. They'd take them to the hospital in Walsenburg. In them days they didn't have no ambulance. They used to get a bunch of the coal miners to carry the stretcher clear to Walsenburg to the hospital. The miners took turns carrying the stretchers.

Them days were better than now, People were different on the farm and at the coal camps both. Now all they want to do is get in their automobile and just ride up and down the road. You see how the road is so sick with automobiles. People don't walk now. In them days they had livery barns that kept horses and buggies. People around the camp would rent a buggy for a day or how long they needed it, and then they'd bring them back to the livery barns when they'd get through. There were no cars in them days that I knew of. All you see at the coal camps was horse and buggy.

Now people use tractors and caterpillars. In them days they used horses for everything. They used to plow and put up hay with horses. There were no automobiles. The only automobile was for carrying the mail at the coal camps. Everything else was horse and buggy.

People used to make a dance for the Fourth of July. They used to put up a big tent, and all the people at the coal camp would get together, and people would dance and have a good time. Yeah, just like now, people liked to party and dance. Only they didn't have no place for their entertainment, so they'd put up big tents and have dances and games. They'd have violins and guitars play. People would get together quite a bit. From coal camp to coal camp. They used to have a good time. It was better in them days than it is now. People got along with their neighbors good — just fine. When people lived close together, they got along good — no fights or anything like that. If anyone needed help, or anything happened to them, they'd call their neighbor, and they'd come on over and help. Yeah, them days were better than now. But now it looks like to me that people are too crazy. People don't associate like they did in them days. In those days people were friendly. I don't' care if it was your brother or who, they were your friend. People got along good. People had plenty of time. In the coal camps we didn't have anything to do. My Dad worked in the mine, but the rest of us had lots of time. As much as I know, those coal camps were a good time. People were always friendly. They always got along with each other. There were Japs, Negroes, Polaks, Italians, Slavics, Chinese. They practically spoke English. They all got along without any trouble. It wasn't like now. People nowadays are fighting, killing themselves.

People used to get along with each other.

I liked those coal camps, but my Dad wanted to come to the farm. I was glad when we did come. I had lots of chores on the farm. We had cattle, sheep. There was lots to do. We used to go to Walsenburg on the wagon. It took a day going and a day going back. We didn't go very often. It was a cold ride in the winter, too. It was all dirt in Walsenburg. It wasn't paved like it is now. We weren't very far from Walsenburg when we lived at the coal camps. Us kids would go down there and do a lot of monkeying around, down there.

We went to church in Walsenburg. There was a church at Turkey Creek. It had a dirt roof. Finally they abandoned that church, and we came over here to Gardner to church. I don't know what happened to that Turkey Creek Church.

Nowadays people are just like animals. They mistreat you and everything else. People get killed all the time when cars turn over. We couldn't do that because there were no automobiles. People were friendlier. People don't have respect for anything any more.

People waited to get married longer than they do now. There wasn't much dating. They'd just get their girls and get married.

There were more people and entertainments at the coal mines because people on the farms didn't have any time. They had to work hard to make a living. They used horses for everything.

There was more water in them days. We always had water to irrigate. People raised hay, grain, oats, barley, wheat – all that stuff. People canned hog meat, all that stuff. My mother made all our clothes and most of the other women did too. People cooperated with each other. I liked it down at the coal mines okay. They had ball games and everything, sure. One bunch of miners would play another bunch from another mine. They played baseball and football. They had a lot entertainments.

Faustine's father ran the JM ranch and then he had his own place and ran sheep, cattle 'n stuff.

Gilbert is running my ranch now. He's down there now. My brother and I used to raise lots of hay, lots of grain and oats. Then we just ran cattle. Gilbert's there today with his boys. I think he's going -to plant oats, hay, alfalfa. I think he's planting down there today.

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