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.
Irma Zanoni

Scanned by Dick Chenault
Edited by Sara Murphy
Date of Interview - 1-16-1980
Interviewed by Rosalyn McCain

Irma Frazy Zanoni
Date of birth - 8-21-??
Parents - Ernest Frazy and Mary Ann Pinatel
Paternal grandparents - August Frazy and Cousie Pipen
Maternal grandparents - Frances and Margaret Pinatel
Ethnic group - Italian and French
Family origin - Savoix, Italy
Date of family arrival in county - 1903 - 1904
Location of first family settlement - Walsenburg
Kinship ties - Brother George Frazy in California works for United Airlines in San Francisco
Profession - Teacher

This is Rosalyn McCain, and I am at the home of Irma Zanoni, and she is showing me her scrapbook from the Mountain Club.

RM: How was the Mountain Club organized?

IZ: The following people were responsible for the dawn of the Huerfano Outing Club: Paul Nesbit, Phillip Williams, Janet Chatin, Frances Evans and Irma Frazy. Starting just above Sporleder's Ranch, at seven-thirty in cool crisp morning air; November 6, 1932, we followed an obscure trail over snow, stumps and stones in order to reach the East Peak's Mighty Throne, experiencing with much pleasure the purple hills, clear pinks skies and mirror-like seas, soft whispering breezes murmuring through the tall trees. These scenic views and natural settings tempted the climbers with poetic enticement. On our upward climb, Paul called our attention to a cave where a brown bear was asleep for the winter. He was breathing very, very slowly and did not know we were looking at him. We also noticed how he had protected himself from the winter snows, cold and dangers, left a protective opening for air.

Paul, Philip, and Irma reached the summit of East Peak while Janet and Frances spent the time in sheltered places until we were all united. During the time we were descending, occasional tumbles sent rocks erasing, arousing echoes so shrill. Much time was spent talking about forming an OUTING CLUB.

Finally on returning to Walsenburg, the five hikers; Paul Nesbit, Phillip Williams, Janet Chatin, Frances Evans and Irma Frazy stopped at Janet's home for tea. It was here that we all agreed on an 0uting Club, to be called Huerfano Outing Club.

Hoc (pronounced, Hawk) then added A-Jo in honor of the Navajo Indians. Hoc A-Jo (Pronounced: -Hawk A-Ho). Hoc A-Jo became our greeting and call for help. We formed the Huerfano Outing Club to encourage the knowledge and preservation of our forests, flowers, fauna, natural scenery attractions, recreation, and to stimulate interest in the beauty of Huerfano County and surrounding areas.

Paul, Philip, Janet, Frances and Irma made the first trip to the Apishapa, November 19, 1932. Left at 6 and returned at 9 P.M. Janet had been here before so she directed the enterprise. We couldn't ask for more to make our imaginations rise. We could see bands of Indians decorated with feathers and painted faces roving over these very dominions. We inspected every place until noon. Paul and Janet made a find. Hunger brought about a lunch plot. Then wandering in and out the Canyon and over plain and prairies from one till night, we found a sheltered spot where a large rock became our table. The black darkness of the night didn't keep food from reaching our faces. What a pleasant day!!

The next move was to form information sheets.
I. Purpose:
To promote interest in outings of various kinds, thereby cultivating knowledge of our environment, health and good fellowship of participants.
II. Procedure
A: Trips are to be taken every other weekend according to schedule.
B. Reservations must be made not later than the second day before each trip. Reservation Committee: Charles Salsbury, Janet Chatin, Frances Evans.
C Persons registering for trips must pay upon registering.
D. Prices published with schedule will cover food and transportation. Dishes furnished by club.
E. The Meeting Place will be the Union Depot. Unless, otherwise specified.
F. Each trip will be under direction of a Leader.
G. Cooperation of everyone will be required to insure safety and enjoyment.
H. All trips shall be taken regardless of weather!
III. Personnel.
A. An open invitation to join our outings is extended to congenial people with enthusiasm for our activities.
B. Membership standing is determined only by interest shown. [This was probably from the club's minutes.]

RM: Who were the people who were the first members of the club?

IZ: Paul Nesbitt was the real instigator of the club, (He was a high school teacher and also a ranger.), Philip Williams and Francis Evans and myself. There were five of us. Now there are only two left, myself and Janet. Janet is down in the nursing home in Trinidad. She doesn't remember too well.

RM: When did you become affiliated with the Colorado Mountain Club?

IZ: Janet was a Colorado Mountain Club Member, and so was Paul. So when the state group found out that we had formed this local group, why they thought that we should join them, and I don't remember the date.

RM: Let's get back to the scrapbook and the interesting pictures.

IZ: This was a trip we went to the Apishapa down into the canyon, and we took pictures of some of their writings. This is a meeting we had just among the five of us in order to find . . . we had kind of a tea. And Francis Evans could read the tea leaves, so we had quite a time, a lot of fun.

RM: What is it like down in the Apishapa Canyon? Are there Indian artifacts and ruins?

IZ: Yes, there are Indian writings. I have some here I can show you pictures of.

RM: These are wonderful. They are rock drawings, aren't they? I've never been down there. I'd love to go.

IZ: I don't know. They say some people have been destroying some of them, some of the writings.

RM: What a shame.

IZ: See, here is one here, and there are a lot of them on this, but they don't show up very well right in here. Then here we went to Fisher's Peak January 29, 1933. We made schedules, and we went on the trips regardless of weather. When they were scheduled, we went on them, and we always met down at the Union Depot. Before we left, everybody had to pay for the trip which included mileage and dinner or lunch. And we always met once a month, the board members. And that consisted of a President, a Secretary, and a Treasurer. We had one or two board members. We always met to set our schedule and discuss the trips we wanted to take.

We used to go down to the Huerfano Canyon, and we had a Mardi Gras celebration, so here is how we looked. This is August Chatin. This is my husband, and this is me. This girl with my hat on is my sister. Matthews. This is Wilhelmina Spingler, and this is Lucille Krier that passed away. She came as a monkey. This is Anna Owens, and that is Mr. Niebuhr, and that is Paul Krier. This is Leona Crump. These are all pictures of that day here. Paul Krier just had a mask on. Mrs. Krier had her donkey head on. That was down at the canyon. Right up above here there was a ceremonial grave from the Indians. And this is when we were climbing around the walls of the canyon. I gave away some of these. This is where we were excavating or digging around there. That is Phillip Williams, and that is Janet, and this is Mrs. Krier, and I think this is her youngest daughter.

RM: That is a nice picture.

IZ: This is Anna Owens, and this is George Niebuhr, and this is me.

RM: How did you get to Huerfano Canyon?

IZ: I don't know. They have changed everything, and these Texas guys have come around and claimed the land and posted “Stay Out” signs so you can't get down there like you used to. George Kneebler had leased a lot of that land and was running sheep. Then when we had the Mardi Gras celebration, we met at one of his cabins down there. We had access to all that land because he was one of our members. There weren't all those fences and “Keep Out” signs and locks on them like now. Now you have to go and ask, and I'm not acquainted with them because I haven't taken any part in it. These are all different trips that we have taken. This is a beefsteak fry at Ideal Walks. Ideal Walks are over this way by the Ideal Mine area. And here's one we went on a Dinosaur Hike down in one of the canyons. I made a lot of place cards for these things. We used to have every year an annual meeting, and I made all of these place cards here. It was interesting. These are the songs that we used to sing around the campfire, the HOCAHO'S. We had different songs. We made them up some of them and then we'd put them to the tune of some old song. I used to do a lot of this work, but here lately I don't do nothing. This is a hamburger fry at City Lake. We used to have big crowds. Paul Nesbitt was really the one that kept it going a lot. Some of these I don't remember who they were. I think this is where we went to the “haunted house” up there at Pass Creek, up at La Veta just past La Veta at Cuchara. It is where you turn to the right there, and there is a big house there, and they used to call it the “haunted house”, but we went there, and we never found anything that was haunted about it. We probably made the house haunted ourselves. These are real old pictures. They are old-timers.

RM: They are wonderful pictures.

IZ: Edward Burnett was the secretary of the Colorado Mountain Club, and we used to have a photographic exhibit. Different groups would just send them different types of pictures that they thought were outstanding. So we were going to have a flower exhibit, too. I am asking her if she has any slides to send to me, or in care of me. We used to make enlargements of some of our outstanding pictures, and we would exhibit them down at the Elk's place. We had that once a year. This is a picture of Phillip Williams, and that is a picture of Paul Nesbitt. This is another picture of one of the canyons, one of our canyon trips. That's Janet, and this is Phillip, and that's Anna Owens, and that is my brother, George, and this is Paul Nesbitt, and I think that is Leona Crump. This is probably Salsbury here. This is me right here . . . . We were always out doing things. Now they don't do it.

RM: Was that a ski picture? Is that cross country skiing?

IZ: We did some skiing. That was us at Blue Lakes.

RM: I've asked people if people used to cross country ski here, and they all say, “Oh no, nobody did.” But here are pictures of you guys skiing. I thought someone must have.

IZ: Yes, we did some skiing. We had a Father Peters they called him. I can't think of his last name. He had a big long German name. He was a beautiful skier. We went up La Veta Pass past where the road comes down on the old highway. Well, right over on that old slope there, there was a lot of snow, and we used to do a lot of skiing there. And I had quite an experience. I was cooking some Italian rice they call risotto. It is quite high, you know, and it never did cook. We had one of the Lamme boys with us, not this Lamme, but the one that passed away, and he said, “Gee, I'm hungry. When are you going to cook that rice?” I told him to taste it. He said, “it's raw.” I said, “I guess I should have cooked it at home. It won't cook up here.” This is a trip to the Sand Dunes that we did. We went over there and slept overnight and slept on the sand. And I don't know. There was a lot of mice, and they would come crawling out, and when they walk on the sand, they make that squeaky sound, and some of the girls got frightened. Then we were supposed to find an Indian site that we were told about. We walked and walked, and we never did find it. We'd just see all of these mirages. Here is a picture where they are walking in the sand. Here's where they were sleeping and waking up in the morning in the sand. We walked and walked and never found the Indian site we were looking for. It was supposed to have been quite an outstanding one, but maybe it was just a fairy story. Here they are getting up. They had their sleeping bags out in the sand. Here's when we came back. Our feet were all swollen up. We just stuck them in the water. I know I was so thirsty. It was right there by where Medano goes into the sand, and there was all that stuff, strings and old grass and things, and I went there to drink, and Paul said, “Don't drink that water.” And I said, “You just try and stop me.” I was real thirsty, and I was willing to drink anything.

RM: This is a wonderful picture. That is just beautiful.

IZ: That is up on the sand dunes. Here I guess somebody had car trouble, and had to fix a tire. I gave away some of these pictures. We went down to Carlsbad Caverns. I bought these pictures. And here is a trip we went down to Old Mexico, and we had all that big bunch there. This is Ruby Bell, Leona Crump. They took a picture by a big cactus in Old Mexico. We went down to Juarez, and we stayed at El Paso. There was a big bunch of us, so we had to have quite a few cabins. Ruby Bell was quite a musician. She was playing some songs, and Phillip and I decided to sing, and we stopped all the traffic, and people passing by thought we were a company of performers, and that we were rehearsing. On another trip they went clear down to Mexico City, but I didn't go on that trip. This was just to Juarez, and we went all around there and bought a lot of stuff. I didn't enjoy that because there was so much filth there. They had meat carcasses. They had meat there, and the flies were just as thick as they could be, and a man was there with the horse's tail, and that disgusted me. Then we tried to buy some different things there, but they were short-changing us all the time. Then we had a great big dinner at one of the places there. Everybody ordered something else, and everybody decided to have some liquor because we were celebrating, so everybody took a different drink, and then they passed it all around. Everybody took a sip. One of the girls was really polluted. She couldn't even walk any more, and they had to take her home to her bed. I don't know. They always just wanted to grab your money. We were trying to figure out what it was. We gave it to Phillip Williams. He wasn't the only man, but he was the man in charge, and they were right there ready to grab everything right off. Phillip hit one of the fellows on the hand and said, “You let me handle this money. This is my money. I'll get to you when I'm ready.”

I have all these books here. This is a picture of a mine down in New Mexico where Janet's brother, August Chatin, used to be. It is a gold mine, and that is when we came back from that Mexico trip. We left the crowd, and went up a canyon and found this mine. This is a picture of the place. This is the mine, and that is August and his partner. They had this mine down there in New Mexico. And this is Elephant Butte in New Mexico. This here is a bunch. We went over to Gardner. There was a lady that used to have homemade dinners on Sunday, so we went there, and we had dinner at her place. I can't remember her name. This here is a bunch that went up to Colorado Springs to Cheyenne Mountain. We went right up to the top. This is a picture of where we had dinner there on the top. This is some of the pictures down at Taos, some of the Mexicans down there. This is all the bunch that went to Taos. These people are funny. They'd let you take their picture, but you have to pay. Well, maybe that is the only way they have to make a little money. I can't blame them. This is a picture of Elephant Butte. They rented a boat and went riding on it. I didn't go on that boat. Water makes me seasick. I don't know if I am any help to you at all. I just have a lot of pictures. That's all. This is another trip we took up to Blue Lake. The reason we wanted to form the club was so that people would get acquainted with the different sites in the county. We used to take all these trips. We'd advertise them, and some of the people would come. When it first started, a lot of them came. Then, like everything else, it dwindles away. These are some pictures of that haunted house. One of us is dressed up like a ghost. That was the only haunt we found there. These pictures are up around Cuchara Camps. That is Phillip when he got on top of the Trinchera. I took his picture, and then he took mine. I climbed Blanca in the moonlight. This is the Blanca trip. This is where we camped down just at timberline, and this is the lake up there, Lilly Lake. And this is our car that we went in. That is a picture of Old Baldy up there by Blanca, and that has been changed to Mount Lindsay. The reason they did was there were too many Baldys in Colorado. So they changed that to Mount Lindsay, and Mr. Lindsay was one of the organizers of the Colorado Mountain Club, and we had a big ceremony up there. I had to write to the Department of the Interior to get permission to change that name. I also had to work with the Highway Department to find a site. We found one. Then the highway people got a marker for us, and we put a marker in there, a bronze one. But it didn't last very long. Someone stole it.

RM: I can't imagine people stealing all these markers.

IZ: But the highway people put a marker there, and it is still standing there. They made a kind of canopy with tin and things so people can go there and have a meal or fry whatever they want to. So we are very grateful to the highway for doing that. After that I thought I made a mistake. You know when you go to the museum up there at Fort Garland; you get a wonderful view of Mount Lindsay. And I think that if I had made arrangements to get the marker and the plaque there, it would probably be standing yet. But I didn't do it. These are some more pictures of Blanca. It gives you the north side of it where it is so straight up and down. I wouldn't climb it. I have to find an easy way around. But I enjoyed it. I got permission from Mr. Lindsay. He was the one that conducted the trip that time. To climb it in the moonlight. It was beautiful moonlight. There were three other boys who wanted to climb, too, so he asked me if it was alright for me to go with them, and I said, “Sure. They are dependable.” So you can't climb alone, you know. You have to have at least three people so that if something happens to one, then one can stay with the injured person while the other goes for help. But there were four of us, and when we got to the top, just before the sun came up. It was a beautiful sight. You could see the reflection of Mount Blanca over in the valley there, and it just kept shrinking up and shrinking up. Then we came back. That was in 1936, the day they were dedicating the Washington School down there, and we came back down as the other group was going up, but it was nice because we didn't suffer from the heat going up at all. It's easier going down the mountain than it is going up. So I never did get these pictures put away. This is one of our outings, another trip to the Huajatollas Canyon. We had this Spanish Fort. It is supposed to be up there by the Badito place. But I guess everybody had been digging around, and nobody had found it yet. This is a picture of the Huerfano Butte. I don't know if I have a picture of the plaque we put up there. I should have. That's a picture of Jewell Nesbitt and Paul Nesbitt on one of the bikes that we went on. They made a Seasons Greetings out of it. This is all a trip we took up there in the Blue Lake region in the snow. We always went on a scheduled trip, but everybody didn't go, just a few of us. The leader was always supposed to go. This is down at the Royal Gorge. Here's where they are digging for artifacts. There is a place down here in the canyon where we found a lot of shark's teeth, just a mass of them in sandstone. Then we found a lot of petrified fish and sea shells and all kinds of things. That's what they are digging for there . . . This is an old man we met when we used to go down to the canyons. He was always riding a burro. Somebody said someone killed him because he used to pan for gold. But I don't know. I never did hear that there was any gold down there. Here are some more of those Indian writings, and here are some more in there.

RM: These are so interesting.

IZ: This was in l934. We went to Turkey Creek that time on the way to Gardner. We wanted to find a place up there at Turkey Creek, too. I asked a Spanish woman, “How do you get there?” She said, “Just follow the tracks of the wagon here.” And we followed the tracks of the wagon, and we got way up there in the hills, and there was somebody making booze up there, and you could smell the alcohol so strong.

RM: What were you looking for up there?

IZ: We were looking for a place that they had told us that you could get a good view. You could even see into Kansas, so we were looking for that. But when we started smelling all that booze, we thought we had better get out before we got shot, for poking around some places where we were not supposed to be. I don't know if you are getting good use of your time here. I'm showing you a lot of pictures, but that is about it.

RM: This is really interesting.

IZ: This is when we went up to Brice Canyon. This is my brother here, and this boy was going to Boulder, and this is Miss Leachy. She used to be Professor Andrews' girl friend, but he left her and married another, and she felt quite bad about it. She went on this trip. And this boy is from New York, and he wanted to get his mother an Indian bowl, and this is one of the Indians down at Santa Fe. We never did get down as far as Santa Fe. We went to Brice Canyon. I bought all these pictures. This is the map of the trip we took. That is a picture of a deer. There was a lot of antelope there. We stopped on the bridge on the north rim of the canyon, and that is where I first saw a red rattlesnake. The rocks were all red there, and I guess they got their color from the rocks. He had to have color protection. Oh, it was an easy fun time to get ready and go anyplace anytime regardless of what time it was or anything. This was a picture of the bridge up there at the north rim, and the chipmunks. We saw some of these with the white tails. Here are some [pictures] of the canyon there. This is down in the kiva of the Indians where they have their ceremonials. We went down to the Hopi Indians, and their big chief had just died, and they were selling his belongings. He had some of those turquoise earrings, so Janet bought one, and I bought one. He had a leather thong. And Janet begged me and begged me for a dog time for me to part with mine, but I told her no. They were getting ready to have a dance. They were getting all kinds of snakes. They were having the snake dance because they hadn't had any rain, so they were taking all these snakes down in the kiva, and they had to purify them. Then the next day they had their ceremony, and gee, they had a real flood. It must have worked. They were praying for rain, and they got it. We had a Reverend Lawson that used to go on some of our trips with us. This is down at Mesa Verde. This is the bunch that went down there. I had a lot of notes. I went down to look for them, and the mice have gotten into them and wrecked them. This is at Mesa Verde. The Indians used to grind their bread, and this is where they used to do it. They had them all in a row there. This is called a mano, and this is a metate. This is a shelter they had there that was abandoned. They said anybody died in one of those, then nobody would live in it anymore. Some of these, I don't know where they were. I'll have to go and live all this over again. On our way to Brice Canyon, we came up by way of Salt Lake City, and we couldn't get any information from anybody, and we stopped at one of the filling stations there to ask them if they had a Chamber of Commerce so we could get some information. They said, “I don't know anything about a chamber, just the one you put under the bed.” We couldn't get anyone to tell us anything at all.

RM: How long did the Mountain Club stay in existence?

IZ: Well, my husband got the garage there next to the police station. The business got kind of slow, so he thought he might just as well go down there on Sunday. So when he went there on Sunday, I got to stay home and cook his meals for him. And all our trips were on Sunday unless we took a special trip someplace, but most of them were on Sunday. It was composed mostly of teachers and people who worked, so they were more free to go on the trips on Sunday than any other time. So when my husband decided to go to the garage on Sundays, I thought I would discontinue going because I didn't feel it was right for me to go and him not. And he wasn't good about fixing anything to eat at all. You had to put everything in front of him. He couldn't even find it if it was on the stove or something. Then it got to dwindling. Then it seemed like Janet Chatin and I were the only ones that took a big interest in it and did a lot of work to keep it going because we had to. Paul finally left. He was superintendent of the high school up here. A funny thing happened that year. One of the girls must have committed suicide. She took strychnine and died in the school, and that really upset Paul Nesbitt, so he quit, and then he went to Colorado Springs and taught up there. Then he just worked out of Colorado Springs all the time, so we were left on our own. Then Paul was kind of a director. It seemed like everybody enjoyed the trips, but they didn't want to do anything to get them organized or to get them going, so Janet and I worked hard for it for a while. Then Janet got tired, and I quit because of working at the garage. Then we had a meeting, and we put all the men in the offices, President, Secretary, and Treasurer. That pulled it up. They wouldn't do anything. We put all men on so that they would do something, and they just didn't, so it folded up. That must have been about 194O or 1950.

RM: That's too bad, but you had quite a few years of good outings before it folded up.

IZ: We did have a lot of them. And then we could go on some of the outings of the other different groups that the Mountain Club had. There was a group from Colorado Springs and a group from Boulder and a Junior Group, too. I know one time we climbed Culebra here, and I was the leader of that. We went over there to get an idea where we could camp and to get information from the owners. We had a bunch of the Juniors that came down. They are kind of hard to manage because they have a mind of their own. So I told them that if they didn't abide by, stay with the group, that was their own responsibility. I wouldn't claim any responsibility. So one of the boys went up there. He had shorts on, and when we got up above timberline, the weatherman decided to give us a blizzard for a change, and this boy just turned pinks, and he just wanted to lay down and go to sleep. My brother George was with me. I said, “George, you take this kid, and even if you have to hit him, get him up and keep him going. He's going to freeze.” He was just purple. He had to take him back down. And then, the other ones wanted to go down the real steep face down there. They asked me if I would let them. I looked at it, and said, “No, you don't have my permission to go down there.” They were mad at me for doing it, but they could never have made it. It was just a sheer wall up and down, and then with all that rain and blizzard that we had, that made it worse. So we had quite a discussion on it, but I won up. Then we had another experience when I was the leader. I climbed that West Peak, I don't know how many times, and I was the leader this time because I was appointed by the Colorado Mountain Club. We had a lot of people that came over from Europe that had been in the war and had lost a lot of their property, and they had gone through a lot of torture. They had some wild stories to tell us about the experiences that they had. I guess they really had a rough time. We didn't have any of the regular people because I guess they didn't want to get mixed up with that bunch, and that is why they put me as leader. I was in the garage with my husband then, and I told them that we would meet at the garage. I gave them the instructions and they all came down there. Well, they came there, and they had all kinds of . . . they wanted to do this and they wanted to do that. I said, “This isn't a big city. It's just a little small town.” They wanted some drinks. There was a City Pharmacy on the corner where Higbee's is now. I said, “You can go there and get a drink.” I gave them the instructions. I said, “You people are new around here. It has been suggested to me that I take you on a round-about-trip.” So we went around and looked at that stone wall, and we were supposed to meet on the top of Huajatolla Camp Ground up there. Well, I told them all. I told their leader about it, and I asked her if she knew, and she said she didn't. I said, “I'm leaving, and I'll meet you down across the bridge.” They were still drinking pop and eating potato chips and what-all. They were eating up there. So I told her, “I'm ready to go, and we have to go up there to get to the campground.” And the ranger from La Veta was meeting us up there. He was helping me out too. I said, “I want to go up there so I can give him a hand so we can get the campground all fixed up for you. I'll meet you after you get your bunch ready, and I'll meet you across the bridge on the Cuchara down here.” Well, I waited and waited. Nobody came. Those guys had a mind of their own. I said, “They'll just have to find their way out.” I had talked to their leader, and she said she knew a little bit about it, but she wasn't too sure. I said, “You ask, and you will find your way out there.” So we our group left and went up to the campground, and then we helped get wood ready and tried to get places where they could sleep overnight, but they had all the food. We didn't have any food. I had a friend, Mrs. McGee at Cuchara there, and she said we could go down arid sleep at her place. We went down there, and I started calling. My husband's uncle was in La Veta, and I told him, “I lost a whole bunch of people from Germany. I gave them instructions, but I guess they don't understand my English. You look around there and see if you can find them.” He looked around there, and he got the police out looking for those guys. You know they were all up there. They went and had their dinner at one of the cafes. So the ranger's wife was there, so she said they could sleep at her place. The only place she had for them to sleep was down in the basement. Well, when they found out they wore going to be down in the basement, they were insulted, and they just couldn't put up with that, so they were really nasty to her. And they all went out and slept in her yard in their sleeping bags. So, I told Lee's uncle, Pete, “You tell those guys to come up and show them which road to take, and I'll meet them at Cuchara at Mrs. McGee's there. I'll be out on the road waiting for them. So when they came up there, they were really mad at me because I didn't wait for them. I said, “Well, I waited a long time, but you people never did get ready, and I had to come up to the campground to help the ranger fix the place. I waited as long as I could, and you didn't come. I gave the instruction to your leader so she could find her way up there.” She said, “Well, we didn't know how to go.” And all this, so I said, “Well, then, my husband is going to go in one car, and I'll go in the other one so you won't get lost.” So we changed around, and when we were going up there, one the ladies was talking German. I told them I didn't have time to talk German. So they said, “Oh, you talk German.” I told them I try to, but I like to talk English.” So we were going up, and just as we were going up on the Huajatollas Pass, there was a buck with two does, and one of the men in the car I was in got all excited. He said, “0h gee. You got a lot of those around here?” I said, “Yes, but you can't kill them because it is not the season for them.” And he said, “Well, I am going to come down here when it is the season and get me one of them.” And I said, “Well, you have to pay for a license.” So we went up there and we had to cook all that food. Then I showed them the ridge we were going to climb. I told them, “You must stay in the line, and not wander around because there is a lot of terrain that you are not acquainted with, and some of it is dangerous to go unless you are an expert climber. I don't know anything about your climbing abilities, and since I am responsible for you, I ask you to please stay together. So they did. They stayed together. On top somebody had a herd of goats, and they had lost them, and we found them on top of the peak. They were all up on top of the peak. The girls had their lunches with them, and they fed these lunches to the goats, and they were really friendly. Then when we started down, they said, “Oh, we didn't know you had goats on your mountains here.” So when we came back, they had steaks for us that they had brought from Denver, and we had a steak dinner. One of the fellows came over to me and said, “You know, I think you are not so bad after all.” I told him, “Yes, I heard some of those remarks you passed about me, but I didn't say anything about it.” And one of the other girls came over to me. They felt sorry for me by then. She said, “You know, I'm going to go down to Cuchara, and I'm going to buy you a big cigar.” And I said, “What does that mean? Is that an insult? Or what?” She said. “That's a compliment. In Germany when somebody does something real good, we give him a big cigar to show we appreciate him.” I said, “Oh well. Thank you then. That makes me feel good.” So she did. She got one of those big rolled up cigars when we got down to Cuchara. She had to buy me a cigar. I didn't smoke it. I gave it away. I never did smoke. The only time I did smoke was when we went to Old Mexico. We tried everything. We tried all the drinks, and then they had these Mexican cigars. They passed them around, and I took a puff of them. I said, “I'd just as soon go and burn my weeds at home. It smells just like a campfire.” That was the only time. I never did smoke. I couldn't smoke.

RM: Did your husband go on the mountain club outings, too, before he started working on Sundays?

IZ: He used to go. Yes. Well, he was in with this Mardi Gras affair, and he enjoyed them, too but after a while everybody liked to go on the tours, but didn't like the work connected with getting the thing organized. So then the Mountain Club folded up. I enjoyed it, and we had a lot of nice trips. We went with the Colorado Mountain Club on trips they had different places. Of course, they had a lot of trips climbing these big mountains in foreign countries, but I never did go on that. I never had enough time to get to go no a trip like that.

RM: How about your own family's history? Where did your family come from to Huerfano County?

IZ: We first came from Connecticut. The weather was so cold and severe there that we went to Illinois. And my Dad got the malaria fever in Illinois, and one of [his] best friends told him, “You should go to Colorado. Your family is still real small. You going to stay around here, you'll pass away. And then your family will be without you.” So he recommended us to come to Walsenburg. And they introduced us through a letter to Mr. Bartillero [sic] who used to be a saloon keeper, and though him we came here. The only work there was to do here at that time was in the mines. My Dad had never seen a mine before. He was a college graduate from Italy. He was really bad, and we thought we were going to lose him there at first. Well, he went to work in the mines, and the fellows used to show him what to do and how to do it. Then he had to come home because every afternoon he would get the fever so bad that be had to come home. Mother would get everything she had to cover him up, and then he would just be shaking all over. Then Dr. Trout was the company doctor. I guess he cured him with quinine. He gave him a lot of quinine. Then we had a lot of good water to drink, and little by little he snapped out of it. Well, we made a lot of friends in the coal mines. So he finally learned how to work in the coal mines. He used to, when anybody had any legal work to do in Italy or France, why they used to come to him, and he used to help them out with it.

RM: Had he trained to be a lawyer in Italy then?

IZ: No, he was a scientist, and he was supposed to go down to Argentina. One of his professors got him to go down there. But I don't know what happened. He landed in New York City instead. Then he went to Connecticut. There the winter was so cold that he just couldn't take. So he came to Illinois, and the water was so bad there at that time that he got malaria fever.

RM: So be contracted malaria in Illinois?

IZ: Yes, in Illinois. So we came to Colorado, and we are still here.

RM: Had your parents married in Italy?

IZ: Yes, they married in Italy.

RM: How old were you when they came to Walsenburg?

IZ: Oh, I was only about two years old. My sister was only about one. My brother was just a baby. The other brother I have is still living in California, and he is with United Airlines. He was born here in Walsenburg in 1915.

RM: What was your maiden name?

IZ: Frazy. It's really a French name. I was born right on the frontier of France and Italy in a little town by the name of Savouix. (?) It is right in the mountains in the Alps.

RM: Maybe that is why you ended up a Mountain Club member.

IZ: Yes. Well, when we came to Colorado here, why Mother was so happy because she was used to the mountains. She saw all these mountains, and of course, the water in the Cuchara River wasn't polluted like it is now, and she used to go down and drink and get some of that water for my dad. There used to be a water wagon on the train. I guess it brought water down from La Veta or would bring it up to La Veta. So mother used to go out to the railroad track and hail this engineer to give her some water, and so he stopped every day on his route, and she'd go over there and get two or three pails of water, and that was all we drank.

RM: Was your husband raised in Walsenburg?

IZ: Well, yes. We both went to high school together. I went to school in Walsen Camp, and I graduated from Walsen Camp in the eighth grade in 1914. That is the year they had the strike. Of course, my folks moved out of the camp when they had the strike. But since we had started to school there, we thought we would continue there. But we had to pay $2.00 a month tuition to go there. So we got in on all the excitement that happened, during the strike.

RM: You had an interesting time going to school, I guess. Were you living in Walsenburg, and you would go out to the camp to school?

IZ: We moved down from the Camp when the strike came on, and then we walked to school up to Walsen Camp because we wanted to finish the school term.

RM: That was a rough area in there during the strike, wasn't it?

IZ: Well, yes it was, and they had it all fenced up, and they had guards at the entrance. They let us through because they knew we were students going to school. Yes, we had quite an experience there one day. They were moving Mr. Wahlmeier from Seventh Street, just two houses above the Seventh Street School, and we were coming from school when they were moving him, and all the people that were on strike were there calling them all kinds of nasty names and throwing all kinds of things at his furniture. They broke mirrors and they broke all kinds of things. But they had the militia there, and they were trying their best to get them quiet, but they wouldn't. So they finally got all his furniture loaded, and they took it out in the alley, and then when they got on the Seventh Street, the militia fired on the crowd, and they killed quite a few people. My mother heard the shots fired, so she come running up. We had a room in the back of the rock house there where the nursing home is. That's where we moved down from Walsen Camp. So she ran way up there, I was staying with a woman who was sick and had bronchitis, and they were afraid that she was going to get TB, so I used to help her out with her two little children. I stayed with her at night. So I was coming home with my sister and brother. They stayed with the crowd because they were curious to see what was going to happen. So then she saw my sister, and she said, “Where's Frederick?” She said, “I don't know. He's up there with a bunch of people.” So she went up there, and she found my brother. He was all covered with blood, and she said “What happened to you? Did you get hit?” And he said, “No.” But he was standing by a man. They shot him in the mouth, and all that blood fell on my brother. So she really did get a scare.

RM: Were many people shot in the crowd?

IZ: Yes, they killed quite a few. That was quite a mean thing to do. They got in the alley, and then they got on the main street. They just shot on the crowd, the militia people did. Yes, they killed quite a few, injured quite a few. Yes, they had quite a time. Then they finally had to call the Army in here to get things quiet because they were getting really rowdy. And up here on the hogback they had quite a battle. Yes, they had a lot of excitement. When I was teaching school down on Seventh Street, why, we had another that happened. I don't know if you heard about it. This Donati used to make booze in his cellar for one of the sheriffs here in town. And he used to sell it. Then there was a Federal man, Jack Rose. It was dry at that time. It was during Prohibition. So this Jack Rose was living in this house (Irma Zanoni's house) at that time. That policeman went there and brought Jack Rose there to Donati's batch. He was batching. He told him he wanted to see where he made his booze. So he thought he was a friend, you know. So he took him down in the basement and showed him everything, and then when he got all through, this Jack Rose told him, “I'm a Federal man, and you're under arrest.” So he called this policemen all kinds of dirty names. He said, “I didn't think you'd double-cross me like that. Just for that you're not going to get out of this cellar alive.” And he shot both of them and killed both of them, right in the lips. Then he went right across the street there to Lenzini's and got a car. Right away he went up to Greenhorn. A family by the name of Lamy was there. They spell their name different from the Dr. Lamme, and they were Italians. And he went up there. Of course, all the Federal officers came down, and they wanted to catch him and get him. Mr. Cornwall was our sheriff, and he went and got Albert Lenzini because he was a good friend of his. And he said, “Do you know where Donati is?” And he said, “Yes, I know where he is.” So he said, “Well, in the name of the law you have to show us where he is.” So he did. He went up there, and when Donati saw him coming, he told Albert, “I know you brought them here, but they're not going to get me.” Then he put his revolver under his chin and killed himself. Then after that we had a lot of the people here in town, I'm not mentioning any names. They got a bunch of them and got dressed up like the Ku Klux Klan, and they had a big parade up on Seventh Street. I guess they didn't know all the particulars about Donati killing these two officers. They thought it was terrible. He was a crack shot. He had been in the army in World War I and he had won a lot of medals for being a perfect shot. They thought it was terrible for anybody to take the law into their own hand and shoot some officers, you know. And they were really going to show the people. Well, most of Walsenburg was all foreigners. They came here from different parts of Europe to work in the mines. But they had a few people of their own that weren't in their costumes walking around the crowd, and a lot of these miners said, “Well, if they think they are going to show us up because they don't know all the particulars and they are going to have another parade, we'll fix some bombs. Then they won't be able to parade any more.” So then they didn't have any more parades, just that one. I guess they got wind of It what these people were really going to. Because you see they worked in the mine. They had access to all this dynamite, all the dynamite and everything they needed to make a bomb. So they didn't parade any more.

RM: They decided to stop fooling with those guys.

IZ: So we bad real wild times around here. Another time I was coming down on Seventh Street there from school, and I used to come home for dinner. Then we had moved down on the corner of Eighth and Main where the car wash is now. We used to live there. And I was passing on the street there where Mrs. Eccher has her store. Along the sides there were a lot of shanties. It wasn't like it is now. It was more like a slum place, and here comes, one nigger man comes out running and another running after him calling him all kinds of names. I thought, “Well, gee.” I didn't know whether I should go on. And he shot him. And this nigger fell like about from here to there in front of me (6 feet). I didn't know whether I should run back to school or not or go on home. And he called him all kinds of dirty names and everything, and this fellow just fell down there, and he didn't say a word. I guess he must have killed him outright. Then he wasn't shooting, you know, so I just walked around and went home to dinner. I told Mama, “I don't think I want any dinner tonight”, and I told her what I saw.

RM: Did you ever find out what the argument was about?

IZ: Well, they had been drinking, and it was over a lady, and they had a trial about it. I have another incident, but I don't know if I should tell you about it. We were going to high school. We were studying American History. In fact I took all the history there was. I took Ancient History, Medieval History, American History, and Civil Government. This was Civil Government, and Mr. Stutzman was a very good teacher, and we were studying trials. He made arrangements for us to go see how a trial was conducted at the courthouse. This was a domestic one. It wasn't one that was rough, so he took the whole class. We went, and we saw how it was done, and it helped us to understand it better than just reading it out of a book. So three of us girls thought, “Gee, that was interesting.” I said, “They are going to have another trial tomorrow. Let's go see it, what It is like.” So it was a trial where a man had been killing cattle and selling it, and it wasn't his cattle. So they had arrested him, arid they had a big canvas that he used to cover the cattle that he killed, and it was all bloody. So these people were Italian, and they had to have an interpreter. So the judge asked him, “Well, how do you account for all that blood if you didn't kill these cattle?” And his wife got up, and she said, “Well, you tell that judge, Doesn't he know that women menstruate every month? That's what I use for when I have my periods.” The judge got as red as a fire, and he hesitated. When it was interpreted, the courthouse roared, and we decided we had better get out of there. We didn't know what was going to happen next. So we never went back to see any more trials. We didn't know what we were getting into. Mr. Stutzman had made arrangements for us to hear a trial that high school kids could really listen to. We were enthused about it, so we thought we would go on our own and see another one. That cured us though. We didn't go back any mare.

RH: When did you get married?

IZ: I got married in 1936. The reason I got married was they were having a shortage of teachers. I had a general average that year of 83 for the year, and I had so many youngsters, and they were all kindergarteners, beginners, and you couldn't hold them responsible for anything. They didn't know anything. I really didn't teach them anything. I just amused them. That's about all I could do. When I would turn them loose, it looked like a beehive coming out of my room, those little tiny tots. And I had to help them with their coats and their rubber boots, and just wore me out. I would come home every night. I was so exhausted. I had been running around with Lee for quite a while. He kept asking me to get married, and I kept telling him, “Na” but one night I guess I was so darned exhausted, and he asked me, and I said, “Okay, let's get married. It can't be any worse than what I am running now.” Another experience I had in school was when I was teaching. I had a helper, one that was taking her student teaching, and so she was helping me. I was trying to teach them to read, and I had a little half circle there, and we were playing some games with words. One of the little boys had one of these curtain rods that are kind of split in the middle, and they are brass. I was busy with one of the youngsters there, and he had this curtain rod, and he was poking another in the back, and this other kid grabbed that curtain rod, and it severed his finger completely off. Then he said, “Oh, Miss Frazy, he cut my finger, look!” It wasn't bleeding at all. So I went and told Miss Ritter. She was in the next room. I called up first and told the school nurse about it, and she said that she was coming up. She wanted me to go with her because she didn't know how to talk Spanish, and his mother was a Spanish lady. I asked her to kind of watch and look over my room while I went with the school nurse, Mrs. Duke(?) and see the mother about this. So we took the kid over there and showed her. We took the finger. This woman was pregnant, and she was about ready to have a child, and so when we told her, she fainted. And I thought “What else has to happen?” Here we had a kid with his finger cut off and a woman who was pregnant who fainted. I thought, “What if she has her child now? Then what?” So we had to ask her permission to take her kid to the doctor, and she said, “I want that finger back on there.” I said, “Well, it has been off an awful long time. Maybe the doctor can't put it back on. But we'll try.” And I asked her if she wanted to come with us. She said, “No.” And I was glad. She didn't have any doctor, so we went to Dr. Lamme, and he took care of him, but he couldn't sew it back on because it had been off too long. But he fixed it up.

And another experience, a nurse told me one day. She said, “Irma, I wish you would come with me. I have a little girl down on South Main. She has adenoids and tonsils so bad she can't even breath.

And every time I go to see the Mother, she says something to this girl, and this girl goes into hysterics. I want you to come with me and see what is going on.” So I said, “Okay.” We went down after school, and it was way down on the lower end of Main Street. She went in there. I just went in. [sic] I didn't have anything to do with it. The first thing the lady said to the little girl was, “here comes that nurse. She's going to cut your tongue out. She's going to gouge your eyes out.” And the little girl started screaming and screaming. So then I started. I went up. “You know, you ought to be ashamed of yourself. This nurse is trying to do something for your girl. Can't you see she's so full of adenoids and tonsils, she can't even breath? It is harming her health. Aren't you interested about your girl's health?” She said, “Sure.” I said, “Well, why don't you cooperate with the nurse?” There was an old man sitting by the fire, by the stove. He came over, too. He said, “What family of Mexicans do you belong to?” I said, “I don't belong to any family of Mexicans. I just happened to learn. I grew up with the Mexicans. I can talk it.” So she finally let her do that. Then I went over to the girl, and I put my arms around her and I patted her and I told her, “I want you to be my friend, and the nurse is your friend, too. She's trying to help you. But your mother won't let her. She's telling you things that are not true.” So I really made that lady feel like two cents. Then the little girl calmed down. I told her, “Don't you want her to take you to a doctor? The doctor's willing to do it for you and it's not going to cost you anything. We want you to be a good, strong healthy girl. You never will be this way.” So she finally kind of calmed down. I don't know if she understood all I was telling her or not. Any how she was really hysterical. Was she surprised when I started talking Spanish to her. She really was. I told the nurse, “Do you give me full permission to do what I think should be done here?” She said, “Sure, you do what you feel is right.” Because she didn't know what was going on. She didn't speak Spanish. But I knew Spanish as well as other languages. I can talk those languages.

RM: So you would go right along with the nurse so that you could translate. That's real interesting.

IZ: And several times I got the flu so bad, I wished I had never gone.

RM: What languages do you speak?

IZ: You know I grew up in the camps with all these immigrants, and I learned a lot of languages, some of them that you don't even find in books. Well, when my father came out here, and his father found out that we were out here in the wild west, he thought we were out here among the savage Indians, you know. So he sent my dad an Italian grammar and French grammar. He said, “I hope you find time in the evening to teach your children how to talk these languages, so if I ever meet them, I won't have to have an interpreter.” So I thought, “Well, if that's the way he feels, I'm going to show him that I can talk his languages without an interpreter.” And I was around with these kids, you know, and I would play with them and when they'd get in their homes, they'd talk their own language. So I picked up a lot of things. So languages just came natural to me. But I never met my grandfather so I never could talk to him.

RM: That's too bad. Have you ever been back to Italy?

IZ: No, I don't care to go. After all the war. . . .

RM: How many children did you have?

IZ: I didn't have any. I married too late.

RM: After 83 in one classroom, that was probably enough.

IZ: That was the general average for the whole year. Gee. I still can see them, all of those little tots, You know, going out, and they looked just like a beehive. My husband was having trouble with his teeth, but he didn't know how bad they really were. Dr. Brunelli here was taking care of him, but he didn't have an X-ray machine at that time. So we used to go up to Denver to the teachers' convention, and some of the teachers used to go to a Dr. Smith that was very good. He made his own teeth and everything. He had different people. So I got acquainted with him through these teachers. So on our honeymoon we were going to go up through Thermopolis [Wyoming] to get those baths, you know. He was losing strength, you know. He couldn't do his work like he used to. We knew there was something wrong. He thought it could be his teeth, but he didn't know for sure. So I said, “I know a good dentist up here in Denver. Let's go see him.” So we went to see this Dr. Smith. Of course, I knew him through these other teachers. He took some X-rays of him and he told him, “Gee, I'm surprised that you even had the strength to come up to see me in my office.” He was up in the third floor. He showed him. He had pus bags under almost all of his teeth, and he was absorbing all of that pus. He said, “You don't need to go to Thermopolis. That won't do you a bit of good. You have to take the real cause out of that. You have to take those pus begs out. So he decided to have them taken out right there and then. We went and got us a cottage camp, and he had all of the lowers taken out, and he showed him all the little tiny bags of pus that he pulled out after the tooth came out. He showed them to him, and he decided that he wanted all of them pulled out. He said, “Oh, no. I can't do that. You may not be able to stand it. Besides you have absorbed quite a bit of this pus.” He had some bridgework on the bottom so he pulled all of those out. His office was on California Street up in Denver. We had our car parked up there and we got a ticket. It took him quite a long time to do all of that. And then his face got all swelled up from bleeding. He was all black and pinks and everything. So we had to go by a police station on the way to the cottages. We went in there, and when we went in there was, I guess they were officers, and they looked at Lee, and they looked at me. I guess they thought maybe I had beat him up from the looks of him. He was all swelled up and all black and pinks. So we told them that we had been at the dentist all afternoon and that we had forgot all about putting money in the meter for the car. So they didn't charge us anything.

RM: What was the name of the garage that your husband had?

IZ: It used to be called Standard Auto Services. It is still there now. Steve Persich runs it now. It is right next to the police station, and Mr. Summers has his office there, but I used to have my office there. I used to keep the books for him.

RM: Had your husband ever worked in the mines?

IZ: No, he never did work in the mines. His father was a saloon keeper, and they lived here until Prohibition, and then he went to Wyoming. But he was in the same grade in high school that I was. You see, I went to school at Walsen Camp, and then after I graduated from the eighth grade up there, I came to Walsenburg to high school. He didn't finish high school here. He went up to Newcastle, Wyoming, and he went in the garage business up there. His father was an only son, and he came to this country. He worked in the coal mines a while. Then he went mostly in the saloon business, and he met his mother, and they were married. When she was supposed to give birth to my husband, he took her back to Austria. That is where he was from, Tyrol. Of course, then his mother and father were still living. When my husband was born, she was just thrilled to death that she had a grandchild. Then when his father and mother came back to the states, why she wouldn't let the baby go, his grandmother. She kept him there until he was eight years old. Then finally his mother went back, his mother and dad went back, and they got him. Of course, it just broke her heart to give him up. Lee used to say to me “You know, I didn't know my mother. She was just like any other woman. I wouldn't call her mother. So they went and got him when he was eight years old.

RM: That's really something. My goodness.

IZ: Yes, he brought her back to the old country because in the mining camps there wasn't much facilities for women deliveries, so he thought she was safer out there. Of course, when she went out, why his mother just fell head over heals for his wife because she was ready to have a (grand-)child. Then they fell in love with each other, and they just got along beautifully together. So he was born on the opposite side of the Alps that I was. I was born on one side of the Alps, and he was born on the other. We had to come to Walsenburg to meet. Then after he went up to Wyoming and worked up there, Albert and Sandy Lenzini went up to Newcastle to get him because they were always good friends while they were here, and he came down here to work, and that's how we got to chumming around together. We went to high school, but we weren't interested in boys then, girls weren't. Not when I went to school. I never had anything to do with him when he and I were in school. We were in the same grade. When he came back here, I met him down at the bazaar one time, at the St. Mary Bazaar. So then I had to have a general average of 83 kids before I said yes.

Back to the Oral Interviews Main Page

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