Huerfano County, Colorado
Oral Interviews

NOTICE All data and photos on this website are Copyrighted by Karen Mitchell. Duplication of this data or photos is strictly forbidden without legal written permission by the Copyright holder.
Gertrudes Maestas

Scanned by Dick Chenault
Edited by Billie Crump

GM: I was born at Cuchara, Colorado, in 18...June the 27,1879. I was raised there, ans I was raised there by my parents, my mother and my dad, my father, Estanislado Vallejos, Cramelita Duran Vallejos. Then my father got killed by a horse and I lived___oh “ I don't remember my father. I was very small. Just what my mother used to tell me. I grew up there and I got married with Carlos Maestas. I had two sons, Tony Maestas, Nestor Maestas, which they are grown up and married, got their families in California. Tony Maestas is a barber in San Francisco California. Nestor Maestas is a fireman for 30 years in Albany California. Oh “

IV: How many years did you go to school?

GM: Who?

IV: You.

GM: I went to school 4 years. I went to school as far as 4th grade. Them days the parents didn't pay much attention for the children to go to school or have an education as far as I know.

IV: What was it in? A one room school house?

GM: There was a one room school house at Cucharas and I remember my teacher Mrs. Mockmore.. I don't know whether she is living or not. I am sure she is dead. I think so. So many years ago

IV: What did you do in those days when somebody got sick? What happened, you know, how did you get medical care?

GM: Well, we had to come to town, come to town or the doctor go down there. They used to go. They used to go down there.

IV: Did you have automobiles, or horse and buggy?

GM: Horse and buggy.

IV: Horse and buggy, that was all you had for transportation?

GM: That's all, no cars until later years. I don't remember what. We never had a car, but the neighbors had one, and that's how sometimes we came in a car with them.

IV: What were some of the remedies? Did your mother ever use some remedies, you know?

GM: Oh yes.

IV: What were some of the remedies they used to use?

GM: Well, we got sick and then if we likely have a cold or sore throat or earache or something like that, my mother used to give us some wild peppermint and spearmint as a tea for our sore throat and cold, and different kinds of remedies you know. Weeds, herbs rather.

IV: You don't remember any others?

GM: Oh yes, Like I said a minute ago. Wild peppermint and spearmint and something else, I think it was (Molvas) cheeseplant . For earache they used to have mentholateum and put it on a piece of cotton and put it in our ears for the earache. That's what my mother used to do. And what else honey?

IV: Are there any others, tea, or anything you remember?

GM: Oh no, that's about all.

IV: Where did you go to church in those days?

GM: I went to Cuchara to church. Whenever we could, we came to town to church when Father Liciotti was living.

IV: Did you have to go a long ways down there?

GM: Six miles. Six miles going and coming by horse and buggy.

IV: What was the name of the other priests? Do you remember any other priests?

GM: Yeah, Father Ussel. Oh yeah, I remember him so well. He's the one that started the school here. He's the one that started St. Mary's school. And my mother used to.... they used to go to Cuchara and say the mass at the little church there. My mother always used to cook for them every month. They used to make the.... to have the mass and all the people around there, all the neighbors gathered up and they all went to church, to mass. And after mass my mother and I had the dinner ready for Father Ussel or whichever priest could go. Then after Father Ussel passed away, then we went, we had Father Lisciotti. Yes I remember him. Yeah, and we.... he ate at my house too. He used to make, he used to like ...Father Lisciotti was fond of eating chili. He liked chili, and my mother used to make them pies, prune pies, and he like those. And he mother used to make good bread and he liked that bread. It raised so much and so nice. Different things at the table, you know, different food.

IV: So you had one big happy family huh?

GM: Oh yes. Coming to eat? Oh yes! That was nice. Yeah, we were so happy. Every time this month comes, you know, cause there was no church, no mass every day or every other day or week. Only once a month.

IV: Once a month?

GM: Once a month, and we were happy when that occasion came. Sure, ....

IV: What did you do for recreation in those days?

GM: For recreation, honey, we didn't do much. The only thing that, as I said before, this girl and I, Andelesia Lucero was her name, God bless her soul, she died, like I told you, before that time we walked. We wanted to come to the show, and we walked all the way, six miles through the track, up the tracks here.... I remember so well, we passed here.....

IV: You went to the movies?

GM: We went to the movies and we didn't care how late or how tired we were and we went and sat down over there and we didn't even get home till the next day. Oh my God we was tired, and she was a little younger than I, and she could take it, but I was all exhausted. I don't remember how old I was, honey, then ...

IV: Did you have dances?

GM: We had dances there. We always went to the dances and I never did dance much. I didn't care to dance much, but I liked to go watch. I liked to go, Yeah, dance a few dances with the boys, the Lucero boys, the Bustos boys, and I think there were some Martinez boys there too.

IV: O.K., then you married Mr. Maestas and you had two sons you said?

GM: Yes, I married Charlie Maestas in 18.... 1918, during the war. Then I had my two boys. Tony Maestas was born in 18... 1920, Nestor Maestas was born in 1922, and they went to school there too.

IV: Now, how long did you live there?

GM: How long? Well nearly all my life, honey.

IV: All your life?

GM: Yeah until we moved to town that my stepfather, my mother was married a second time. And then my mother married old man Guerrero and then he passed away the same year my youngest son, Nestor, was born. He passed away and then we all had to move, all the family had to move, and he had, like I told you, a post office and commissary there and he always did ask me to carry the mail to the depot. I get a little house there. I get the mail, the mailbag, and I go to the train depot about, oh, I say, a mile to take the mail back to the train. One time, old man Donnelly, the conductor, he says to me, he says, he got off the train, he waited for me with the mail bag, and he says “You almost not made it “and I says “what do you mean? Here is the bag, here is the mail. ”Yeah, you was almost too late”. He was a short fellow, and this train came from .... I think, it started from Denver to Trinidad I'm sure.

IV: How long did you do that ?

GM: Oh my goodness, all the time. I don't remember how long old man Guerrero had the post office. I don't remember how long. Yeah, until he couldn't go any more. He was sick you see, and then he had to give it up. Then he had to... He passed away and we moved to town. We, my sister and I, the youngest one, Mrs. Smith, like I told you before ... we started working here in town for the ladies, for the people. As I said, I worked for the Kolmes, which is Mrs. Margaret Kolmes, and she's a very nice person. Then I worked for her mother, Mrs. Charlie Agnes. Mrs. Myrtle Kries, I worked for her cleaning house, washing and ironing, and I also worked for the Sporleders, Amelia Sporleder's mother Caroline. I think, she's dead. I'm sure she is. I worked for them. Amelia, was small, I remember that. I used to sweep a porch there. I used to clean their porch and they had so many play things. Dolls! Dolls here, dolls there. Mostly I used to spend the time cleaning the porch, mostly better than cleaning the inside of the house. But anyway, Amelia is still living and she is a very nice person.

IV: You and your sisters did it for how long? How many sisters did you have?

GM: Two. I have three, two sisters, three, with me. The oldest one is 83 and she is married a second time. She lives in Pueblo.

IV: The other sister?

GM: My other sister lives in Pueblo. 320 E. 2nd and she is younger than I.

IV: What is her name?

GM: Smith, Andrea Smith. She's 76. She's very sick with arthritis, the poor thing. She can hardly do her work.

IV: What's your other sisters name?

GM: Pauline.

IV: Do you remember any of the customs the old timers used to have in those days?

GM: Oh I remember the one time we went to the dance at Cuchara, and I only had one pair of shoes, maybe two pairs of stockings. In them days we used to wear black cotton stockings. I guess your mother used to tell you. Oh, we were so proud. We were just dancing. We didn't care what color or what. And the dresses, I don't remember if they were fancy or not, anyway we went to the dance, but we were happy. We were happy then, better than today. We have everything, and plenty to live on, and a lot of stuff. Lot of food, lot of clothes, and we're not happy today. For some reason or other, we're not. I think the way things are going on.

IV: Not like the good old days...

GM: Not like the good old days, it was nice then.

IV: Do you remember anything about the coal mines?

GM: Not much honey, cause I was.... my husband did. Jim worked at the coal mines.

IV: Your husband? How many years?

GM: He worked about 15 or 20 years

IV: As a watchman?

GM: He never worked inside, as a watchman.

IV: What mine was that?

GM: What? Walsen Camp.

IV: Was this Mr. Guerrero?

GM: No, that was my husband Jim Farr.

IV: When did you marry Mr. Farr?

GM: Jim? I married Jim in 36, 1936.

IV: Did he do this all his life, as a watch man?

GM: No, he didn't. He worked as cowboy, as a cattleman, or whatever you want to call it, and then after that unt8il he retired, for awhile then he was working for the Corsentinos where they lived down here, and he worked there for 5or 6 years there. And then they quit planting beets. Jim retired again, and that was... and I don't know what else he did before I married him. What I know about the mines, working in the mines, he told me. I didn't know.

IV: Did he do anything else after that?

GM: No he didn't.

IV: At what age did he die?

GM: 92. He died in November 11, 1978 at he age of 72, no, at the age of 92, I'm sorry.

IV: Did you have children from Mr. Farr?

GM: No, he has 2 daughters, the oldest one is Iola Doughty. She lives in California, in San Diego. The other one is the youngest girl. She is Anna Lois Weary (actually Ward per obit ), and she lives in San Diego too. They are very nice to me, very nice. Now, Iola comes every spring to see me. Her and her husband. They haven't got no children. Anna Lois doesn't come out hardly. She is sickly like.

IV: How many grandchildren did you have?

GM: Me, two.

IV: Just the two?

GM: From my youngest son Nestor. Tony didn't have any children. The oldest fo the two that are left now. Jimmy Maestas married a girl from California. She was born there too, and they have a child. A little girl by the name of Dashia. Then there is Johnny. He's about 25. He is still single. He lives in Arizona and about near close to his folks.

IV: How did you celebrate the Holidays in those days?

GM: Honey, in those days we didn't celebrate hardly. The only time we celebrated was the dances. Oh yes, they had Gallo Days there a lot of times.

IV: What month was that?

GM: In the month of July.

IV: What did you mean Gallo days?

GM: Gallo days like they do celebrate in Gardner a lot of times. Ever heard of it ? Well, they say they used to chase Gallos (roosters) and wring their necks.

IV: Porque, why?

GM: Just to have fun I guess. They were on horseback.. I never seen it, but I heard my mother tell me.

IV: What other things do you remember?

GM: That's about all the recreation there. And then the dances, that I told you. And the time the girl and I came up to the show, to the movies. I never will forget that. She's dead. I wish she was living.

IV: You don't remember any other celebrations?

GM: No, honey.

IV: Do you remember anything about the hunting, you know, that anybody did ?

GM: No I never heard of em saying “we're going hunting up in the hills”, in Cucharas, your neighbors,

IV: How many neighbors? Did you have neighbors close by?

GM: Oh yes, there were ____ good neighbors. There were all surrounded there. Each one had their little shack and it seemed nobody had fancy houses there, (hocales) shacks, you know and they were all nice. They were also visiting each other in the evening.. They go and visit my mother and we girls play outside on the yard. We even danced outside on the dirt, and we was _____. Everybody got along with everybody. Oh yes, so nice, and I still have a comadre, my comadre Dora Romero. We went to school together. Every time she comes over, she hasn't been here for a long time, she comes, you know. You remember Mary Romero, Gilbert Romero, that's his mother. We always was together, her and I.

IV: What were some of the things you did?

GM: We play house. You know, we play house outside, and you know, the dolls we had, you'd be surprised. We would hunt for those bottle necks, broken bottle necks (gourds?). You know what, that was our little doll. We never had a doll to our name.

IV: Did you make dresses for them?

GM: We just dressed them up, so, the best we could, and that was our recreation. .Then we could make dinners and then lunches, or whatever, when we ______one of those neck bottles for a doll. And we have the Baptism, the dinner or whatever it was, there, then we get tired and we said, or one of the girls said “I don't want to play anymore” “I don't either”, we go in the house. Just quit for another day. I have another good friend too. She is in the nursing home, honey. She's Vicky Duran now, and she's crippled. She hurt her herself, or broke her hip. She's still crippled. She doesn't improve much, the poor thing, and we used to play together, she and I. Another one, now, that I remember, Sara Martinez, she was Lopez then. She's in the nursing home. That's another nice friend I have.

IV: In Pueblo?

GM: No, here in Walsenburg. . She used to live down here. So, she took sick and they had to put her in the nursing home. She is there now.

IV: What were some of the things you used to do together?

GM: Together? Play, dance outside on the ground, on the dirt, in the (Patio) yard.

IV: Do you remember some of the games?

GM: No, just dance and with those neckbottles. That was our dolls. It was a lot of fun though. A lot of fun.

IV: You seem to be a religious person. Can you remember how this came, way back when your mother was, when you were little ?

GM: There was a lady that used to say novenas for the people that took sick. Like when they were going to have their babies, this lady, they ask for this lady, besides, I don't think there was a doctor them days, going down there. But there was midwives, a midwife there. They used to ask this lady, Adelida Manzanares, to say the novena to little Jesus, so they came out all right. My goodness, they did. They never had trouble at all. And every time this lady finished a novena to little Jesus, the people that asked for the novena, for her to pray the novena for them, they used to make a little lunch, or feast, or whatever on the last day. I don't know if they were supposed to pay her or not, but they gave her fifty cents every time, and that's all they gave her to say the novenas. And all the people around there honey, were religious. I remember all of them, all of them prayed. Each one with their families in their house, and us used to gather up at home. Some of the boys run out and go play. They didn't come to pray. Us girls we didn't (run out).We stayed with my mother and step father praying until we finished the Rosary, and that was every night, every evening after supper.

IV: What were some of the other saints that they used to pray to and what for, do you remember?

GM: Well, that was little Jesus for this here purpose, then was the Holy family, and of course Sacred Heart, Saint Anthony for the lost things, things stolen or lost and I don't remember any other patrons that they used to pray for.

IV: You told me a little prayer that your mother used to say.

GM: Oh, that for snakes. When we used to be out in the garden with Grandma Duran, my mother tells me be sure and say the prayer so that the sakes won't bite you, or won't come out and she's say. “Bendito San Jorge, Bendito su altar, Bendito Los campos de undemos de audar “. Blessed be Saint George, Blessed be his altar, Blessed be the fields that we might walk. And that was what we prayed, and then we say an Our Father.

IV: That's to Saint George?

GM: Saint George, he's always spoken of the snakes. That's what they used to tell. I haven't read the story of Saint George. That's one story I don't have. I have all kinds except that. I like to get it somewhere. Sometimes it comes out in the books. That's about it I guess, honey.

IV: Do you remember anything about politics in them days?

GM: All I remember is that old man Guerrero was Democrat, my stepfather. A strong Democrat. My father Estanlisado Vallejos was a Republican but I was too little to know about him. I didn't know him. I never ________ I seen him. I remember seeing him but it's still like a dream. My mother used to tell me about him, and that's all I remember honey.

IV: Your husband was an uncle to ________?

GM: Jim Farr, my second husband was Jeff Farr's ______. Jeff Farr was a sheriff here in town for many years. Jim's uncle was a sheriff here for a good many years. How long, I don't know, and Jim was Water Commissioner, that's my second husband. And then I told you he worked at the mines too, for fifteen or twenty, whichever. Then he had another uncle, Ed Farr. He got killed in Cimmaron New Mexico by the Black Jack gang. That's what Jim used to tell me, I never seen him. That's tyhe way it went with the Farr's, which he was the only one living then. He had a brother by the name of Tom. Tom Farr, and he pased away quite a few years ago. He had two first cousins in Denver , Bessy Farr and Mabel Hill and they used to visit him quite often.

IV: This Mr. Jeff Farr, he was sheriff here, of Huerfano County ?

GM: Oh yeah, he was a sheriff here of Huerfano County. Of course the people thought he would never get out of politics, but he finally, I don't know who got in his place after all, I don't know.

IV: He got voted out of office?

GM: Yeah right.

IV: How about a courtshiop in those days. You know when the boys used to court the girls, do you remember anything about that?

GM: Oh, yes, yes. Well, they used to hide. In them days you wasn't allowed to go out with boys until you got married, you know, and we used to hide. I used to hide to go around with my husband or any other boy friends that I had.

IV: Mother and dad didn't like it?

GM: Oh no, they wouldn't let you go out, not like now. Not in public, no.

IV: How was it you ended up getting married? When you were ready to get married what would you do?

GM: Well, my husband first asked for my hand, and then we got married right away. I never went out with him.

IV: So all the girls and boys used to have to do that?

GM: All of them had to hide from their parents. I don't know if they came to town or not, I don't remember that. I didn't, because I didn't know my husband too long before I got married.

IV: You mean that they had to ask for your hand?

GM: Yes, that was their way, they want you to get married. They wanted, I didn't know, whether they wanted for us to get...for the parents..for the children to get.. For their sons and daughters to get out, to get rid of them, or just to get married and go.

IV: Who was to ask for your hand?

GM: Just my husband, the boys' father.

IV: The boy's father asked for the girls hand huh? And then you got married soon after that?

GM: No, The parents, the boy's parents used to ask the girls parents and they asked and they made the plans and everything and that was it.

IV: How were the weddings in those days?

GM: The weddings were big weddings, then there was a lot of hurrah about it you know, dances (fiesta) feast, like they say.

IV: Did you used to have shivarees in those days?

GM: How do you mean, like now?

IV: Well, I remember when I was little they used to have what I called a shivaree you know. Somebody would get married and somebody would come out and make noise.

GM: Yeah, Yeah. No, not down there, not down there. Here in town they used to but not down there. It was lonesome, very lonesome.

IV: I had a lonesome life myself, Work?

GM: You mean when I was married?

IV: After you was married.

GM: Cause I didn't live with my husband very long, maybe three years _______. I had my two boys, my three boys and then so long, like that I never had any more boys, children only three boys No girls. I wish I had a girl.

IV: Makes a difference huh?

GM: Oh yes, sure.

IV: Then after that you married Mr. Farr?

GM: Oh yes, it was long after that. I met Jim in 36 and I married him and we lived happily ever after. He was a good man.

IV: Till his death?

GM: He was a good man, he helped me with my boys, he put them through school, through high school The two younger ones they liked Jim like a father. They knew their father as lovable. I had to take care of them, put them through high school. Jim helped me, and so it went, honey.

IV: Were there any superstitions in those days?

GM: Oh yeah, I think everybody was superstitious. They talked about ( Brujas) witches down there which I didn't know, which was, which I didn't know. I didn't believe in (brujas) witches. My mother didn't, but the other neighbors they get together and get talking about (brujas) witches. I don't think I had, I know of anyone, of course, I don't know how they do it or what. I didn't, I didn't suspect them because I didn't know. My mother either.

IV: What is it they used to say about Brujas (witches)?

GM: They used to say “be careful about that neighbor, be careful with this one, she's a (bruja) witch”.I never paid any attention to the neighbors talking about the (brujas) witches, because we didn't know there was such a thing. There could of been but we didn't.

IV: Do you remember any thing else they used to say?

GM: About, about what honey?

IV: Superstitions.

GM: No.

IV: Do you remember anything else about the customs they used to have in those days. You know, oh, about customs when a marriage, Baptism, or?

GM: Oh yes the customs were about like now, only they were out of style. In those days they had their own style. Long dress like now, the veil, flowers, and you made your own.

IV: Did you make your own dress?

GM: No, they bought it here. Baptisms with a long dress for the babies, real long dress. They could wrap him around all over.

IV: What about who you got (compadres) godparents? What did you do?

GM: Oh, godparents. We used to, we chose the godparents. We baptised my two boys, my three boys, and that was the way it went, and then the padrinos (godparents) used to give the baby a gift, say five dollars, ten dollars, or whatever they could afford. They didn't have to, but they wanted to do that. They made a big dinner or whatever, no dance on baptism, No, just the dinner and they visit, we visit and talk for quite awhile. Then each one went their way.

IV: They used to take being compadres (godparents) real serious, no?

GM: Oh yeah, when you were compadres (godparents), that meant, that meant respect, very much respect.

IV: What about music in those days ? Do you remember?

GM: That was violin and guitar, and I remember old man Sandoval, Seferino Sandoval, they lived up here, up in Loma Park, he goes and plays over there for the dances. All boys get around, the boys that were there that dance, that were old enough to dance get around him to watch him play the violin, honey, all night. They didn't dance for watching him. He must of been a good fiddler. And I remember my son Pete, the oldest one, he used to stand right by him. That old man never did forget, he used to tell me, he says “I get a kick out of Pete because he just watching me just play that violin”, and he did. He got more of a kick, he was too young to dance then (Y no bailarvan por estar quindando) they wouldn't dance for being watching. No, to be watching the old man.

IV: And who were the guitar man ?

GM: I don't know, I don't remember.

IV: That's mostly what they had was guitar and violin? How often did you have dances?

GM: Oh, whenever somebody got married, or, not for baptism, they didn't make any dances then, or married or just a dance.

IV: Where did you have the dances? In the schoolhouse?

GM: At the schoolhouse. It's still standing there.

IV: Do you remember how many families lived there ?

GM: No I couldn't tell you. I count them if I started saying by name.

IV: Do you remember some of the families?

GM: Oh yes, the Lucero;s, the Bustos, Ca____ Bustos, the Martinez's, Lopez. A bunch of people them days there.

IV: Your mother and dad were down there?

GM: My mother and Dad was born at Cuchara. My father was born six miles from here, could be eight miles. The Valdez Cemetery, right across from there was my Dad's Uncle, and my mother lived up this way, west of there, where my Grandfather Duran and Grandmother Duran lived. She was born there.

IV: They got married and then they made their house there?

GM: They either lived with the groom's parents or the brides parents. My mother lived with my father's parents for a long time and then she moved back to my grandmothers, Duran's, to her mother. They both lived there quite awhile and then he got killed. Then my mother was a widow for a year or two after. She stayed with her father and mother, then she met old Mr. Guerrero a second time. She had three children by her second marriage. It was Andrea, Mrs. Smith in Pueblo. Frank Guerrero, he's dead, and Sonny Guerrero, the youngest one, he's dead and there was all the three Guerrero kids born on that second marriage.

IV: Did you have any stores down there in Cucharas?

GM: What? Stores? The only one store that old man Guerrero my stepfather had. That was the Commissary and post office. That was the only little store there, I remember. Of course I remember I used to take the mail to the depot. All the farmers that come from all over, they took up that dry land.

IV: They took up the dry land, What for?

GM: I don't know what was the interest there, because there was no water or nothing, just in the surrounding there at Cuchara. I think they must of had cattle, and I don't remember seeing any cattle or heard of them, but they took up those farms.

IV: Did they plant?

GM: Nothing, just the dry farm , maybe cattle. They could of had cattle, and I remember that they all used to come get the mail at my stepfathers post office there, at he little commissary. I tld you before, they were all nice people. Pretty soon they couldn't make it so, one by one , they had to leave to their places, for different places.

IV: So everybody had to leave Las Cucharas?

GM: Well, there was no water there honey, only the creek water.

IV: Did they plant beans?

GM: Oh yes, we used to plant a lot of that, corn. A big garden at our place as I tell you. Grandpa Duran used to plant a big garden, and everybody lived out of their own places. Of course some of them didn't have farms or things like that. They just lived the best way they could. There was the Steven's store at the depot. Yes there was, now I remember. Steven's place. Jim Steven had a store there. He's dead now. He used to live in California but he died not too long ago and that was the story. One time, not too long ago he came out here to see Jim. He knew him well, and he knew me since I was a little girl and I used to go to the road every time I'd see him come out on the horse to go and take care of the cattle. I think of his farm which it wasn't very far, right next to my Grandmother Duran's farm, and I go to the road and stand by the road there and wait for him. I was very small. I remember though I must of been five or six years and I used to ask him if he had any gum or pinon for me, and he says yes, I have, and he gave me a pack of gum and a handful of pinons, because he was always eating pinons that man . And when he came back he said to Jim, he came to the house here, he stayed with us one time. “Jim” he says “How do you like go to Cuchara, I want to go see my place”, and he went. There was nothing there anymore. There's nothing there now, only a house. I don't know who owns that place. And he stood there and tears came out of his eyes, and he says to Jim “You know Jim, all the people from Cuchara left their last dime here at my store”.They used to buy there. That was the only store then. What year, I don't remember. I was small. Then we came back and he said “Well, I'm going to see the Levy's and different friends that I got here”, and he left and we never saw him anymore. He passed away. And when he came in the door here, Jim introduced me to him because Jim, and Jim Stevens and Jim Farr. Jim Farr says and Jim Stevens says “who is this lady. Who is this girl, little girl that you speaking of'? And he says “This is the little girl that used to go to the road and ask you for Pinons and gum”. “Oh no” he says “It can't be”. “It is “, Jim Farr says. He was so surprised. Well he haven't seen me any more.

IV: Yeah, it was nice that you saw him again.

GM: Yeah it was nice. He was getting pretty old then and have to, had , the store , and they had the hotel Picture ____________ hotel there. It was nice. My grandmother used to work there washing and ironing from sundown, from sun up to sundown for fifty cents a day, mind you. My grandfather done the dishes for the hotel and they got the same pay, fifty cents a day. That's my grandfather Duran and grandmother Duran, but them days fifty cents was a lot of money and they _______ and worked like anything to make their living. Of course their farm. Their garden, and anything like that, and that's the way it went.

IV: How about when they buried a person. Do you know what they used to do when they buried somebody?

GM: Yes, well, when somebody died we had the wake. People gathered and prayed and sing hymns, whatever they were, or hymns, prayed the rosary, and at midnight they have a supper or dinner for them in some of the houses where the dead were, the person that died was. The next day they buried them , and as I understand it, don't remember too well, they say the used to make the coffins. Somebody here, I think Jim, told me the name of this party that used to make the coffin, was the Campbell's, by the name of Campbell honey. I never seen them and that's all I know, the ones that told me.

IV: Did the wake last very long?

GM: All morning. All night until the next morning. Some of them go sleep awhile and then others pray, and others wake up and come back to say the prayer. I don't think there was any embalming in them days, honey, that I know of.

IV: Did they pray in Spanish or how?

GM: Oh all Spanish, Espanol. Everything was done in Spanish.

IV: And they had just the one cemetery down there?

GM: No, we had two. We had the Valdez Cemetery on this side of the creek going to Rocky Ford on your left hand side, you've been there haven't you ?And the other cemetery on the right, that's across from the Bustos place, Felix Bustos and them. The cemetery is up on the hill. There's a lot of people buried there, God knows how old. There just about falling apart, the little fences, you know, they're about to fall apart. They haven't got no date or nothing. I got my grandmother Duran there and my grandfather. My grandmother had a cross and the name is already gone, but every time I go there to fix the graves. Pete and Jim Farr used to go down there every year, but since they took sick they never took me down there anymore, and now I'm scared of the snakes too. There's a lot of them down there too. All the people from town called that place (La Pasta) the past, for why, it seemed it was the stopping place for the mail on the carriages. They carried the mail from Trinidad to Pueblo on carriages them days. There's where the stopping place was.

IV: La Pasta, this La Pasta was right?

GM: Right there where Felix Bustos place was, right around there, just the other side of the river, That's what my mother used to tell me. I don't remember.

IV: Did you get paid for carrying the mail them days?

GM: Who? Me? No, why didn't I get paid?

IV: I don't know honey, I just remembered now that you spoke about it.

GM: I guess because he had the post office. I don't know whether he got paid or not. I don't know, I didn't see a payment, he could of got it. That was a job! Cause the boys, my brothers didn't want me to take the mail to the depot.

IV: Do you remember how old you was?

GM: Me? I could of been 18 years or 19. I was still single. Just about like that. It was a job but I liked to ride that little horse.

IV: You liked to ride horses?

GM: Uh huh. Just that one, gentle. He was a gentle horse. I didn't like to ride the other wild ones. I should of, my father was a cowboy.

IV: That's how he got killed?

GM: Yeah, a horse fell on him. Yeah, broke his neck, never talked anymore, unconscious until he passed away.

IV: How about your brothers? Did they ride horses?

GM: No. Mucio never did like to ride horses, unless he had to come up to town to ride horses, he rode a horse.

IV: That's right Mucio Vallejos was your brother.

GM: Yeah, he was the youngest one of the three Vallejos. Pauline was the oldest, and then I, and then Mucio, from the first marriage, and that's it. I wish I had a better memory so I could remember everything, but I don't.

IV: You're doing fine.

GM: I don't want to lose my memory or my ears, or my eyesight.

IV: (Habia penitentes en esos dios) Were there penitentes in those days?

GM: Penitentes were a religious group. Yes there were, but none of the family belonged to that.The Luceros', Chris Lucero and um, belonged to them, not the boys, but their father. Different people around here, and the ones that lived at (Laguna) lake, you know, right across the river up where the Bustos used to live. They used to gather up, there quite a few people there too. Gather up at the (Morada) dwelling and have their wakes there, and their prayers.

IV: Did you have a Morada down here?

GM: Not at Cuchara. No La Morada. The dwelling was here at the Laguna. Richard Bustos used to live there. They had their farm there.

IV: Do you remember what the penitentes did?

GM: Well, they say they used to whip themselves until the blood come out. Whether it is or not I don't know. They prayed all night, I'm sure you see. Then the wives of the families used to make their dinner for them. Three days of the week, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday. And I'm sure they were still doing their praying, and still doing their doings on Sunday. One time I went over there, my mother and I with some neighbors there and we went on Good Friday, and there was a girl, they used to dress up the girls in white dresses and veils and a little white crown. They looked so beautiful.

IV: Why did they wear the white dresses?

GM: I don't know. It had to be a virgin to wear the white dresses. Oh, that was the custom then. It was nice.

IV: Did you see the ceremony there?

GM: Oh yes, they used to have a procession of a certain place until we get to the the morada, praying and singing . The men sang the hymns and everybody prayed. Them days were good, nice, wasn't so much gangs or like that. We didn't hear hardly anything, fights or anything like now. Now, the boys of down there and the Lucero gang, and my brothers, the Lopez' and the Martinezes never did get into a fight. They all gathered up to play ball, marbles, or something like that, but I don't remember hearing of them fighting.

IV: Did your father or your brothers ever do any hunting of any kind?

GM: No, no deer hunting at all. Old Mr. Guerrero didn't that I know of. My father was...I was to small to know. My brothers were never interested in doing any hunting at all.

IV: Was there a lake there?

GM: Oh Yeah. La laguna que te digo , where Felix Bustos, by Richard Bustos on the other side of the creek. On the south side of Felixes where the moredo, where the penitentes were. Where they had their doings. I think they still do. I hear yet that they still do have their doings there, which I heard about a few years back, where the kids went in and broke all the statues.

IV: Were there any Unions in the mines in those days? Do you remember your husband talking about the unions or anything like that?

GM: Oh yes, in 19.. I think he said 1913 or 1914, I don't remember when. He said that a very, very bad strike. A bad strike honey.

IV: Was it at the mine that he worked?

GM: At the mine yes, they were terrible and I think that the Ludlow mine. Well, I remember them days that some of the people went from here and stayed at our house while the strike was going on, and different houses there because the people, the strikers were so mean. I think they was trying to kill them.

IV: Why were they striking for?

GM: I don't remember honey, what for. Must of been for wages or whatever, I don't remember. And I don't remember them telling what for. What they were fighting for.

IV: But they were mean huh?

GM: Oh yes, very mean. I don't remember if he was watchman there then, it could have been. Yeah, it could of been.

IV: Your husband used to watch the mines?

GM: Well, on the outside. He never did went in the mine at all. If he did, he just went to look around not to work in the mine.

IV: He had to watch the people didn't he?

GM: He used to watch the people that they didn't get out of the way, or they go to sleep on the job cause they used to go to sleep, and where they had the horses for the mine there was a lot of straw there for the horses and these guys used to go in there and sleep there and cover themselves with the straw and they didn't know where they were. So Jim had to watch all of that and wake them, wake them up and put them back to work.

IV: So then your husband died and here you are in your little house huh?

GM: My husband died in 1978, November 11, 1978. He died of a heart attack sitting down on that chair there, and Pete was down town and I was all alone. I didn't know what to do. I went to the phone, called the ambulance, and my neighbor Mrs. Pineda, but she wasn't there, she was at the parade on the 11th, so I had to take care of him, and before I knew it Jim was gone, in no time honey. And then the ambulance came to take him and spread a blanket on the floor there, and they laid him there, examined his pulse and they told me Jim was dead. I said I know he is. He was dead when he was here sitting down already, he was dead I know. They took him, and I went by the policemen in the car, they came too. The doctor pronounced him dead at the hospital honey. So I was left alone then, and then my son Pete took sick in 1976 and he suffered quite a bit himself about three or four years, and he passed away and I was left alone again. Of course I'm not alone. I love my good Lord. My holy family that they watch over me, and I feel good because I know they are watching over me. __________________________________lonely all the time, but then sometimes I just pick up myself and say, well, this is the way it had to be. I'm glad and thank God that I am here until he calls me.

Back to the Oral Interviews Main Page

Return to the Huerfano County Home Page
© Karen Mitchell : Colorado