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George Adolph and Jean Goemmer
Scanned by Dick Chenault
Edited by Phyllis Miranda
Date of Interview - 6-30-1979
Interviewed by Rosalyn McCain
George Adolph Goemmer
Date of birth - 5-7-1900
Parents - John Peter Goemmer and Cora Angeline Kitchen
Paternal grandparents - John Peter Goemmer and Mary Theresa Louise Krueger
Maternal grandparents - George Washington Goemmer and Margaret Melinda Garren
Ethnic group - German, English, Scotch
Family origin - Father - Germany, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas; Mother - Georgia Colony
Date of family arrival in county - Father - 1872; Mother - 1870
Location of first family settlement - Sulfur Springs to La Veta to Cucharras
Kinship ties - Otto Goemmer of La Veta; niece Renee Wachob-Ray; son John Curtis Goemmer; ne[hew Lowell Goemmer
Profession - Rancher, Engineer
Well, my father came here from Lola, Kansas, and he came here with two boys, Gustavus and Pete, who were born in Illinois. The other children Wilamena (Minnie) and Louisa, were born here. That was in about, well it was before 1900 anyway, and he homesteaded right where I have my son and my grandsons working now. That is there by Butte. And that's where he came to. He put the boys on what he homesteaded, and worked the blacksmith shop here all the time. He was acquainted with everybody, and he knew some of the outlaws, like Jesse James. He shod and fed James' horse while he slept in what he called the fellows balcony. That's the part for wagon wheels. Jesse crawled up there and slept. Grandpa shod his horse and took care of it, and when night came, why, he took his horse and left. He had paid Grandpa and all that. Grandpa said he was a good man. He didn't bother nobody, as far as he was concerned, at least. He blacksmithed right up, well, until he was unable to work, and the boys raised the ranch. He gave them the ranch that he homesteaded, and then my father and my uncle and my mother. Now she was just almost too late. She got a desert claim and some of timber. Something like that amounted to 160 acres, but it wasn't a homestead. She had to do a certain amount of work on it in order to keep it. And I was too late, four years too late for homesteading.
Rosalyn: So did you inherit land from your family?
Adolph: Yes, part of it. I kind of feel myself like I helped earn the land because I started to work before they ever bought any land, and I worked with them right on the ranch. That's why I feel that I helped them put it together.
Rosalyn: What did people have to do to prove up on their homesteads in those days?
Adolph: They had to live there a certain number of months and do a certain amount of improvement, like they had to build a house and live there and do a certain amount of cultivation, and that's what the homestead was about. And then when they had fulfilled those obligations, the land was theirs. They really had to live there. Then they got a deed to it. I don't know. I don't think it was like a deed that they get to land now. It was a United States Treasury Deed. I think that's what it was. There were four of them, my grandfather and my father and my uncle and my father's wife (my mother). They homesteaded that. Then they bought other small homesteads around close and bordered them in and eventually bought land that other people had for sale afterwards and put together quite a little bit of land.
Rosalyn: So, they would buy the land adjoining theirs when they could and built up their ranch?
Adolph: Yeah, whenever it was for sale if they could, why they would try to buy it.
Jean: Didn't your mother's people homestead?
Adolph: Yeah, grandfather Kitchen, my mother's father; he homesteaded more than 160 acres. Well, I own that.
Jean: You own the other, too?
Adolph: Well, yes, partially. But that I own all by myself.
Rosalyn: So are you related to Pearl Kitchen then?
Adolph: She's my Auntie. She married my mother's brother, the oldest one of the Kitchen family. She was a Patterson. Nate Patterson, I don't know whether he adopted her or what. But anyway, he had her to take care of for a long time. Then he turned her over to Jake Marker. We own that land down there, and she lived and took care of my Grandfather Kitchen and took care of her own father, I guess it was Nate Patterson till they passed on. Then she took care of her husband, and now she's living alone. That's the kind of people we had back there then. Now you couldn't get one of them to do it on a bet. They send them to Trinidad or some other old home.
Rosalyn: That happens an awful lot these days, doesn't it?
Adolph: Very few of them are taken care of at home like they used to do. I think maybe today is better. I don't know. But, nevertheless, why, it was more comfortable for the older people. I would think it would be better to be in your own home or in your relative's home. They don't do it too much anymore.
Rosalyn: When did your family come to this county, Jean?
Jean: About 1898. But not here. It was in Gardner. They bought their land. I don't think they homesteaded it.
Rosalyn: What place was that?
Jean: It's probably for sale right now, but I don't know which party owns it. There's two pieces being sold here in June at the Court House, or maybe part of it is already sold. I've tried to find the description on either one, but it seems like one is this way and the one is this way, and they've missed it. So somebody else may have it. I don't know. It is between Mills and Brown. The first ranch was reached by turning south across the Muddy, after you get to the top of the hill. Now there is only a barn, some rosebushes and cistern left there. The house was destroyed for tax reasons. We used to have a cellar under the house, and we had a granary. One time we were smoking pork and we had a fire that burned off the top and ruined some of the canned fruit. We ranched. We raised alfalfa and grain (wheat and oats) and fed the cattle out. This was all from water from the dam that flooded and broke up above. We filled the cistern with water for the house. We had a barrel under the eaves to catch rain water. Later we moved into town across from the Catholic Church down by the river. Is that the other one that's down below?
Adolph: He planted that orchard there, didn't he, where he lived on the river, Grandpa Curtis at the place after he quit ranching on South? That Spanish man that we sold it to still lives there, isn't that right?
Jean: No, not the same one. Well, anyway that's where it is, up the creek from where the sawmill sat. That house up there, the very first one. He planted the orchard there. The entrance is across from the Catholic Church.
Adolph: I guess you're not particularly interested, but that's where I found her. She was a little bit of tyke about so big. She lived up there with her sisters and her brother that was a little bit of a tad, a little fat fellow. I worked for the county then, I was then a surveyor. I was a junior engineer at that time. James H.P. (Jimmy) Fisk put me on that job over there as a surveyor for that road that goes on over to the Wet Mountain Valley. I was away from my own brothers and sisters and everything and watching those children playing in that yard, why I found it interesting to give them candy or soda pop from the Hudson Store. I bought it there and carried it down there and sat and listened to those kids. And sure, they'd watch for me. They'd see me coming. Then afterwards, years later, why I found this same gal teaching school here up at Cucharas Camps. She was watching the threshing machine. I was with my uncle threshing at the time. I walked up behind her and asked her how she liked it. She never did tell me, and I don't think she ever will tell me either. Well, that's close enough to that part anyhow. Amusing to you probably.
Rosalyn: Were both of your families ranching all of the time? I know Adolph's grandfather was a blacksmith.
Adolph: He had the blacksmith shop right where the telephone office exchange building is. That's where his shop was. And he lived right in that little house right south of it that Mike Heikes stays in. That is the house that was there before the new house was built. He tore down the old frame house and put in a nice house. That stone building across the street was the warehouse. My grandfather used that as a store house. He stored potatoes from the San Luis Valley underneath there, and he was the distributor for both Case and International and John Deere horse drawn machinery. They shipped carloads of just horse drawn mowing machines and dump rakes and one thing and another in that building. And my uncle carried on too after he quit. Well, I think if you look on this large warehouse building up here, this red barn just across the railroad, you see Goemmer Brothers McCormick. That's been on there a long time.
Rosalyn: And when did they give that up?
Adolph: Well, when he passed away. Well, they didn't actually give that up. Oscar Santi here in Walsenburg, he's retired now, he was from a large family and quite a family of politicians in Walsenburg. So they decided they was going to put the franchise in a larger city. So he asked for it, and he got it. But he didn't keep it very long. I helped my uncle run it for a long time. He'd done more business than Oscar Santi ever did. It was over a period of time that he did that.
Rosalyn: And then after that, were most of your family ranchers?
Adolph: Yeah, they all ranched. I got a brother that lives in Sun City, Arizona now. Well, he's not too well. But he's helped me many times. But just in the last week or ten days he went to the hospital to have a pacemaker. They gave him that shock treatment that I read about in the paper and also heard over the TV just in the last two or three days that they've condemned that now. They say that shock treatment is too hard on the heart itself. It damages the heart itself. Now they won't let him come to this high country anymore because of his heart.
Rosalyn: And how about your family, Jean? Were they all ranchers?
Jean: Well, my father was basically a teacher. And he taught in that area quite a while. He taught and worked at the mine before he was married, then he was a rancher. My mother was a seamstress before they were married. She did some such things over here. So she made wedding dresses and beautiful things. She was very good. In the winter time he'd teach. When they had the MacMillan Mine, he was the secretary for that in the summer.
Rosalyn: And what did they mine at MacMillan Mine?
Jean: A. Gold. It was above the coal area.
Rosalyn: Was that a pretty big mine?
Jean: As mines go, I don't have any comparison.
Rosalyn: Did they live here all year around?
Jean: I think it was mostly summer. I was there when they had a lot of buildings left. I don't know the details because this was before I was born, but I heard them talk about it, and I guess there was some dirty work in the business from the last story I heard. The only way out was for the owner to just walk away from it and leave it. So since then, I think most of the iron works just have all been picked up and sold for scrap probably. The last I was up there, there was hardly anything left. They had a mail route at one time. A post office carrier. My dad took care of the post office too. I don't know how long it lasted even, but while they were working it, I guess there were quite a few of them because there are quite a few cabins. I can't give you the details about it. Some of the older people can tell more about that than I can. We saw it after it had quit. My dad had his office chair 'til he died. We have it here. He said, “Well, since everything was being left, he just took it home with him.”
Rosalyn: Were you a teacher also?
Jean: Well, not very long. That's what I trained to be. I told you about that.
Rosalyn: So you taught at Cuchara. Was that the only school you taught at?
Jean: Well, that was one; a little short term. Then I had a full term over here at San Luis Valley at Uracha, where they had all the grades each time. I was really going to be a high school teacher, but I never made it. I majored in Foreign Languages and Mathematics. I have a lifetime certificate.
Rosalyn: Do you remember Indians around here?
Rosalyn: Do you remember stories that either of your parents told about the Indians or anything?
Adolph: The Indians never bothered them. As far as I'm concerned, why, if there were Indians, they were peaceful. There were some Indian boys that worked for us. They came from Canada mostly. They were educated people. As far as the Indians like Cowboy and Indians-no.
Rosalyn: How about the cooperation between the people and the cooperation between neighbors in those days?
Adolph: It was tremendous. They helped every body. Everybody helped everyone else. If there were a man in need, somebody helped him and took care of him. I know that to be a fact. My father took care of a man that's here that is quite old, Frank Arnold. He took sick up there in the hills where he was working, and he was down flat in bed. I expect the man would have died. But my father hooked up a team and drove up there in the snow and got and took him to the hospital. He didn't have a means of paying, not a dime or nothing on him. My father paid the bill and brought him home, and that man is still living. And that is the way people were at that time. There was very, very few shirked his turn in this territory. Cut throats just weren't here. We're getting them here, sorry to say.
Rosalyn: So you think that's changed from what it was, now?
Adolph: Very recently. I can't put up with what we got now. No, this was a very nice community, very decent and helpful. People looked after one another.
Rosalyn: Were there many quarrels between neighbors?
Adolph: They didn't have what they called feuds. There wasn't anything like that. Now some of them could tell about things connected to the Ludlow Massacre. That was a sad thing. Well, that was one of the worst things that ever happened here. They killed a bunch of people here on what we call Loughheed Hill. Following that, well at least that same season, the Ludlow Massacre happened. The same season they killed a doctor up here, and they killed a doctor there. I saw this from the top of a building. I was in school. And the next worse thing I guess would be a few squabbles over water.
But they never squabbled very hard or very mean about it. Over on the Huerfano is one place where they had a little trouble, and they're still having a little trouble. There's not as much water over there is part of the problem. The trouble was they adjudicated that water when there was a'plenty for small acreages. Now there's very little water, and they tried to make the same adjudication cover that piece of land. And that's where they get into it. Coming out of Gardner down there. Yeah, just before you get to the Butte is Orville Bonham. Mills caused a lot of trouble up there demanding the water and those short streams to be turned down. Well, it was known and always was that the water came out of there in the evening. Mostly on warm days the sunshine would hit that mountain, and when evening came, then they had quite a bit of water. Well, then the water passed them. And Orville Bonham was at our Water Conservancy District here the other evening, and he had a lot of followers, and he was protesting. Mills was the man that called for that water. He's gone, and they were trying to get it put back like it was in the beginning. When that water would run, why, then those boys up there could irrigate. Then later on in the season as the Huerfano begins to melt out from up above, why then they had the water. I don't know. I guess this next meeting of the Water Conservancy will come now pretty quick won't it? This coming Monday, the 2nd or 3rd. Well anyway, we'll probably hear more about it then. Cause they had quite a squabble.
They formed a Water Conservancy District here in this little, Huerfano County Water Conservancy District, which I'm a member of. There are five members.
Rosalyn: What do you mostly do?
Adolph: Well, up to date, all we've done, oh we've helped in some incidents a little among the five of us. Then we've talked to people, and you know, kind of pacified them and kept them in line as far as the water was concerned.
Rosalyn: So that's one place that people who have quarrels over their water can come?
Adolph: Why sure, they come there, and they can get really the line up on it and find out about it. We had Ted Zorich. Now he owns some land over there on Turkey Creek. I think it's for sale now. He lives just below. Ted is our engineer. Incidentally Murr down here is the counsel. He sits and sees that we don't get into trouble. And I expect we could, too, if we didn't have somebody there to say, “Whoops, you can't do that.” We could get into trouble with the law.
He's beginning to be quite a water lawyer. The very first time I went to him, he came right out and told me he didn't know anything about it. He had a little old flock of books in his office. I don't believe it would cover a space as big as that. He really didn't have as many magazines on that rack. He just wasn't a big lawyer. But now that boy does a lot of business. He's a judge now, I think. He's quite a boy. He knows a lot of things, and he picked them up the hard way. And I have an idea that little gal, I don't know her last name, but her first name is Angie, that was his secretary. I think she put a lot in his head. She was quick. She would put it down and he would pick it up. She gave him things to study over. Because if it hadn't have been for her, I don't think he'd have been in the business he's in. I don't think he'd of handled it. Especially if he had a secretary like he has now. She's good, and she's a nice little gal, but she's so slow. And besides she's not interested. Only just what he has her do. He says, “Here, you need to type that or file it,” and she does. She don't study it out like Angie did. Because I was there when he didn't hardly have anything. He just barely knew enough people to get him acquainted. Sure, he was young. He was a lot younger than I am, and I've always liked him.
I pulled a stunt on him one time when I went there. If I ever went into the office, if I had wanted anything done, why, I had made notes of it and carried it in my hand. And he would reach over and jerk it out and say, “Here, let me have that.” I never did see it. I went in there one day with just a bunch of trash. There was nothing, just torn paper and everything else. He reached over and grabbed it and said, “Let me have it.” I didn't say anything. He never took anything from me any more.
Then he was trying to get the property set up, divided between me and my brother. It was quite a bit of property at one time, and he helped me divide it between myself and my brother. We went to lawyer down in Rocky Ford, Mendenhall, to set up a partnership with our sons. He was advertised pretty highly. A lot of people knew him pretty well. So I hired him. Sure, Floyd got hold of that right away. I might even of told him. He wasn't my lawyer, but he was the estate lawyer. I went in there and wanted some little thing done by Floyd, and he said, “No, you got lawyers.” You know he was just indignant as hell. So I sat there, and I said, “Mr. Murr, do you buy all your whiskey from one bar?” He said, “I'll take care of it for you.” That's all he ever said. He's been my lawyer ever since. You know, things like that, well, you don't dare let it pass. If I'd have given in to him and walked away, I would have just plain had to hunt down another lawyer. And he was a good man, and I knew it. Sure, I teased him a little. I was older than he was, and I teased him a little. And I helped him wherever 1 could and things like that.
So the Water Conservancy District is just for Huerfano County, and we try to help people. If it ever comes up where they would allow another lake, reservoir or dam to be built, I think we'll be first on the list. We have talked about it on the Huerfano just above that Badito head gate, just above that bridge across there. It springs out into those canyons on both sides, more to the south than it does to the north. There's one there that everybody is pretty much interested in, but it's on-stream. Then there's one up here in this country that's off-stream that will make a good reservoir some time. It will make storage for, well, actually, every water user except two can get water off the main stream, anyway off that reservoir, and not have to use the main ditch. So that would help all, and eventually that will happen. If that don't happen, it will happen this way. Somebody will come in here, like this fellow, what's his name? Well, anyway, he's got money to throw away. He just don't know what to do with it. Well, he'll come in and buy all the water rights and put it in one place. Then the Water Conservancy District will be in a position to handle it for him. That'll happen one of these days. It'll probably be after I'm gone, but just the same. Some of these days somebody will own all the water because he'll buy it, and the people will sell it. They'll let him use it, and it will be peddled out to them from the Water Conservancy, and then they'll have somebody adjudicate the water except for these water commissioners that's hired from the state. I think they do a miserable job. They become lazy.
We got into it with the water commissioner up here one evening. I called him on the phone. No, he wasn't in. I got in my Scout, and I drove by, and his car was there, and I went on up the ditch and met my son there, and we opened the head gate, and we stayed right there. Pretty soon he came in there, and he jumped as high as that door and swearing and hollering and cussing. He didn't have a coat. He just was in his short sleeves, and it was cold. He just stood there, and took it till he just got to shivering. Like to froze him out. He had his son with him, a young fellow. He said, “Dennis, open up the gate.” The creek had raised three or four inches while we were just standing there. We told him what it was all about, that it was a heavy rain, and there'd be flood water. We needed the water for our livestock. Sure, he'd have turned it on, but he'd have waited till all the water had run by. As it was, it ran for three days, about 48 hours. If we hadn't just stood right there and drowned him out, we never would have got it. And that's what I hate about the adjudication of water and the way they run it now. Sure, they do it, but they have to call Pueblo, and Pueblo calls Denver. Then Denver calls back to Pueblo and Pueblo back to them. They wait till after hours, and you don't catch them, and it's the next day they go through the same thing. I know it to be a fact because I traced their calls, and I know that's what they done. Who wants to get out in that cold rain and go somewhere to adjust a head gate for a farmer? If the water runs by, he just lets it go clear on by. Runs down there and soaks up in the sand. If it's hot like it's been for the last three or four days, it don't get only so far.
Rosalyn: How many water commissioners are there in the county?
Adolph: I guess there are only two. They have Augustine Garcia in Gardner, and Bob Brgoch here in Huerfano County. Now at one time they had an assistant in both places. Augustine had an assistant for the lower part of Huerfano, and Brgoch had an assistant for the lower part of Cuchara.
Rosalyn: That's an awfully large territory for one man to handle properly, isn't it?
Adolph: Well, it is. But, you know, he's well paid. He's supposed to take care of it. Not only that, but there's a lot of laws on the books that say that he does things he never thought of doing. He's supposed to keep the trash out of the head gates and see that they're properly adjusted. That don't mean once in a season. That means at all times. He's supposed to visit them each day and see if it's done properly. He never does anything like that. Nine times out of ten, he calls Mr. Bowdino or Mr. Willis or Mr. Goemmer and tells them, “Well, you raise the head gate up a certain amount, pick up the flumes and clocks.” He changes the clock on Monday. And when they started those clocks in this country, both on the Huerfano and the Cuchara, why I was in a position through Thompson Pipe and Steel to buy that stuff at a discount. Well, I did. I bought every one of those, all except one for Walsenburg. And I let them have it for exactly what it cost to get it. Some of them appreciated, and some of them do yet. And others never appreciated it from the start, and I don't believe they ever will. That's neither here nor there. I helped them do it. And I was brought up that way. That's the way I was taught. You know, in the olden days, why you helped. Well, that was a chance to help everybody, and I did.
Rosalyn: You know, I think that's true today. Some people have a sense of that and that's the way they operate and other people just don't.
Adolph: Now, Walsenburg thought I was hooking them. All they had to do was buy one and find out the difference. There was quite a lot of materials come here: flumes, all the measuring flumes weren't in. Those that were in didn't have the holes to put the clock on. So, ordinarily, it was either a clock and you had to dig up the old flume and attach it, or else you have to have a clock and a flume. They put in 15 here and 30-some on the Huerfano. I forget the number over there, but there was quite a number. Then, for a long time I took care of it. Now my daughter-in-law takes care of it. She buys the charts for them. She'll be out two or three hundred dollars a year for a period of time, no interest on her money or anything, for charts to do on those things, and I looked at those charts. They don't give them back to you, and you don't have it. But I looked at those charts, and they could be used six times. But they just put one line on them. I don't know why they do that. It's a waste to me. I asked the Commissioner, Mr. Brgoch, “How come you don't just set that up and let that line run along below it on another.” Sometimes it might go above, and sometimes it might go below, but if it does, you can follow it through. But, no, they don't do it. Those darn
things cost like the devil, I think a dollar and half a sheet. That's rough changing every week during the water running season. That adds up, and you have to buy them. If you got a clock and you got a ditch, it comes out of your pocket. And they keep it. It's sent, I don't know where, in the incinerator or trash can or something. Nobody knows where, but it is gone. You never get to see it.
Rosalyn: How do the Water Commissioners get their jobs here?
Adolph: It's Civil Service. They can't be fired easily. If they do some things, they could be fired for it. Otherwise it is a job until they are unable to take care of it, like the post office. And that's getting to be a farce, the post office business. They're supposed to have it every day. You can't tell when they're open and when they're closed, who will attend it or who won't. They used to deliver here. Now I have to go there to get the papers. You can go there at 9:00 sometimes, no there, 10:00, no there. And then I've gone the second day, and they are both there. I don't like that.
We've always had good neighborly people here. They've always been good people, and they've always been neighborly people. As far as the water was concerned, if a man had a crop of oats and it was burning, and it was ready for irrigation, and another man had water, and he could spare it, then he'd let him use it. Now you can hardly do that anymore. They don't allow it. So that's what I mean by the change in the community, as far as the people are concerned.
People celebrated the Fourth of July together. And we used to have Chautauquas here, and people would gather, and they used to call it the Chautauqua. And there was community parties, and they had groups, of course. But the whole community participated in the Fourth of July celebration. Now we have the 4-H Fair and celebration, and that comes on the Fourth or close to it. They have a rodeo and a dance. It used to be that generally everybody would go to graduation or to a school play or something like that. I don't go anymore. I probably should, but there's a lot of people that just aren't interested. They don't have kids here, and they've moved here, and their kids would rather run around on the streets than sit and watch a graduation or a class play. But I know that the Fourth of July was one of the times when everyone participated. Of course, they celebrated Christmas. They used to have a baseball team both here and Gardner. They had.a nice little team in Gardner, and they would play once a week on Sunday afternoon. So Gardner would play La Veta and Walsenburg, and La Veta and Walsenburg, would play each other. And some of the mines had a team. The high schools had some good teams, also over in Gardner they used to have Gallo Day. It was like a rodeo sometime during the summer. Now they have the traditional Chuck Wagon Supper. A lot of people attend that yet but there isn't one in a whole crew hardly anymore that know exactly what that Chuck Wagon Supper was nor how it came about. At that time everything was open, open range. They gathered the cattle, and they sorted them into brands and what not for each individual, and they had the chuck wagon there, and women fed the men, because they were gathered in there very close, and that is what that was. Probably that amounted to every farmer and rancher. I'm not sure just how many there were, but it was quite a crew of them. I saw some pictures in the museum where they were really eating, and I counted 25 or 30 people. So I know there must have been quite a few, and everybody participated. Because he had cattle there, and his neighbor had cattle there and they gathered them and they had to get each man's cattle cut out. That's the way they did it. Well, that don't happen anymore because there's everywhere fences. It used to be all open range. There were certain division points like between here and the valley and down as far as lower Huerfano and Cuchara. This place was closed up sooner than it was over there, but everybody counted and received his cattle at that time.
The cattlemen and sheep men fussed about it a little, but not in my day. They had quite a bit of sheep. Maldanado, had a lot of sheep. Jean's brother Bill Curtis and Bill Thach were together, and they pastured sheep on the Trinchera as far over as the Taylor Place, but on upper range. They didn't fuss. As long as I remember, there's been no dispute between the sheep man and the cattlemen. The sheep men and cattlemen had wars in some of the pictures and books I've read, but not since I can remember. They didn't care to go real high with the cattle, and they could take the sheep right up on the tundra, short grass and high grass, flowers and weeds. They just loved that stuff. They never stopped. They just kept going till they got back to the home ranch.
People used horse and buggy and a saddle horse in the old days for transportation. They would use a spring wagon and team. Occasionally they had a nice surrey. I can remember my riding one that had a top and little tassels on it. There was usually a good supply of groceries and supplies right here in La Veta. There was Joe Kincaid who had a grocery store right there on the corner just south across the street from the present filling station. Garren and Strange was one of the first stores in the Community, and he was a part relative of mine, way back on my mother's side. Garren married my grandfather's wife's sister. Garren was a brother of my grandmother Kitchen. Garren and Strange, they had their stores right up there next to the bank. That was the La Veta State Bank. The store became the laundry a few years ago. There is an antique store in there now. The drug store was between the grocery store and the bank. And we had our own telephone office. People didn't have to go often, but occasionally they went into Walsenburg. That's another place they cooperated. They would buy big lots together. McClain was the boy that took care of most of that back in there. In back of the lumber yard there used to be a big adobe. He had a warehouse there, and he put vegetables and stuff in that. They didn't have freezers and refrigerators and ice.
Jean: Uncle Gus used to go to the San Luis Valley and bring potatoes, and I guess your Grandpa did too.
Adolph: That's what that stone barn was used for, a potato cellar. They would ship a carload or even two carloads of potatoes over here on rail, and he'd stack them in there, and he'd try to keep the temperature such that they wouldn't sprout and so they wouldn't freeze. They had that machinery above. He handled all the machinery even for the San Luis Valley, and that's where that was. They had supplies here. There was a lumber yard here always, and we had a brickyard here where the Southern Baptist Church is, the one on the end of Main Street. That was a brick yard. I don't know what they did with it though. Charlie Boys somebody hauled it away. They didn't like it. I don't know what became of that. That was one thing that they should have had for the museum. I asked about it, but nobody knew where it went. (September 29-I found it, that brick is sitting under the tree at the museum.)
They had a co-op, but ordinarily the railroad would ship in and then they'd go after it. I can remember one trip that I made with my grandfather. He had six big fat hogs in a box wagon he called it then. It had two boards about 30 inches high. We went from here to that road that goes over to the mines by Aguilar and in there. We had a barrel on this side. You would put water in there and you'd take a gallon can or bucket or something, and you'd sprinkle those pigs with water so you wouldn't lose them. And he's sell those pigs and then he would bring groceries (cured meat and flour and potatoes and canned goods and what not, maybe a big barrel of beer from there.) And if somebody needed something that they didn't have, someone helped him get it.
We always had a doctor here, and we had a hospital here at one time. Lamme brothers made a hospital here for six or eight beds. We had a dentist here at one time. But now, it's way up yonder. That's why we are burning so much gasoline, and that's why we don't have any left anymore. They didn't have a paved road over in Gardner until not that long ago. It was a gravel road and no bridges. You know those dips and those arroyos? James H.P. (Jimmy) Fiske put me on as an inspector. I surveyed over there. We put in those concrete dips and arroyos. And they never had a paved road over there at that time. Course, any time there was an end of the line, they generally had some kind of a depot, someone to look after it. They'd haul stuff there. The big part of the stuff wouldn't spoil, cattle feed and barbed wire and nails and such, building materials.
People had root cellars in those days. They made ice in the San Luis Valley on that lake over there and they filled cars, railroad cars with ice all winter long, and they shipped it to ice houses and places where they could store it and keep it. This Mill Lake up here, they used to cut ice off of that. February, was generally the month of the best ice. They had a big ice house. They'd stack it in there. They'd use sawdust to keep it, pack it in there, and they'd sell the ice to stores. They put ice trays in the bottom of things, just like they do in these open freezer things. And that's the way they preserved their food.
Jean: They did a lot of drying, and they canned. They dried corn. It was roasted as it came off the plant. After it was roasted, it was shucked, and one layer of husk was left on it to keep it clean. You could eat it like that or cut it off the cob and reconstitute it. They didn't have pressure canners, but they had boilers, and they would cook them for three hours or more. They cured their own meat. They had salt-cured pork, and they would cook sausage down, buried in hot lard, poured over the top, and, you know, that stuff would last a long time. It would go through the summer anyway when the men were working hard. They made corned beef. They had sugar and salt and pepper to keep the color of the meat up. Then they'd hang it up and let it dry. They'd wrap it. They made head cheese and cheese and lots of Kraut, and all that sort of thing.
Adolph: That's the way people did it. I don't believe there's person in the valley anymore, especially this Cuchara Valley here, that ever preserves a thing. They don't even make a jar of jelly anymore.
Jean: Oh, come on!
Adolph: Since when did you make jelly the last time?
Jean: I quit making jelly when they told us we were diabetics.
Adolph: Ok, that's your excuse, but there's very few other people that do.
Jean: You just haven't been around.
Adolph: Not in the last six or eight years, I haven't, but when I threshed I visited nearly every home in this valley. They had jelly and they had dried apples and they had apple pies and all that sort of stuff, but anymore you don't hear about it or see it. You see all those jars and rims and lids cracked up and broken in junk piles.
Jean: They are coming back to it a little bit now.
Adolph: In the olden days everybody did it. They had to then. Either that or they just didn't have any necessities. Now around the borders in the San Luis Valley we take the truck on the outskirts of those places. They dry a lot of corn and do raise and sell potatoes, dry beans that they keep. They have some things that they can eat.
We don't have enough points in this country for dairies. I guess there's only one dairy now, and that's Harry Heikes. It was an organizational thing like a subsidy. They didn't have enough points to sell their milk. They had to have Grade A barns. Howard Moore, Smith, Clifford Coe, Julian Beamer, Bill Duzenak all sold their points on milk credits to Heikes. And you can't buy a jar or bottle of milk, no way. You have to go to Safeway or the Quick Stores to get it. It goes to Colorado Springs and is processed and then it's shipped to California, and they ship it back here and then we pay $2.00 a gallon for it. No, that's the difference in the way people live. It has changed. I think you know it, too, just as well as anybody.
Jean: I spoke of Gallo Day. That was over in the Gardner Community. I don't think they ever had it over here. If you hadn't gotten next to that, it is an interesting thing. Alton Tirey could tell you all about the Gallo Day. To begin with, it was a Spanish sort of thing. Anyway I guess, but they used to, before it became illegal, a horseman would ride down, and a chicken would be buried over here somewhere with just his head sticking out. He was supposed to go and run at full speed and reach down and get that chicken. I never saw it really done, but that's what started it all. And then it became illegal to do that to chickens and from then on it turned into sort of a rodeo and a dance and a good time. They used to dance in that little two story building there that used to be the school house where Mrs. Barney lives. It's not very wide, and it had an upstairs. I think six or eight couples was all they could get on the floor at one time. But they enjoyed themselves.
Adolph: They had dances nearly every Saturday night. Our only dance hall in this place at that time was Kincaid Hall. That was the building right across from the filling station. Of course, they condemned that. Then later on, we danced in the school house gyms or the little old country school houses. They'd push back the desks and put them around outside. Box socials and a dance pie social and a dance, and that was a lot of fun. And that's the way they did. You don't hear about that any more. That's too bad, too. People really enjoyed it.
Jean: In my young days, it was the Church that was most of it. They had their socials and they had whatever. The Church was the center of things over in Gardner when I was growing up. I think the Church sponsored more things in those days than they do now. Television has made a difference.
Adolph: And in the winter time they had a place to coast. They had coasting parties, and they would skate on the ice, and they had skating parties. I tried to help them build a skating pond here in La Veta across from the post office there. That flat spot there, I helped them build that, but they never would get it to hold water. They never would get any bentonite so as to get it to hold water. It generally would snow real hard. Now here are my grandsons. Now you can see why I am so proud. There's a couple of them. Come in Cole. How are you Pete? These are my grandchildren. And I have a son in Missouri who has two girls.
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