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.
Scanned by Dick Chenault
Edited by Phyllis Miranda
Interviewed by Marge Vigil
FG: I was born in Gray Creek.
MV: Where was that?
FG: South of Trinidad, about nine miles south of Trinidad.
MV: Where did you go to school?
FG: In Gray Creek.
MV: How many years.
FG: Just until the first grade. I didn't have much school at all.
MV: Do you know the name of the school?
FG: Just a public school.
MV: How long did you stay in Gray Creek?
FG: I was born in Gray Creek, born and raised. I stayed until 1919. In 1919 I worked in Rouse and ever since I have been in this county.
MV: In 1919 you went to Rouse and how long did you stay there in Rouse?
FG: Until 1929. The Rouse Mine got drowned in 1919 and they reopened the Lester Mine and we worked in Lester Mine until l929. In 1929 they shut down the mine.
MV: From Lester Mine you went where?
FG: For C.F.I. I worked for about twenty-nine years, then I worked in Tobason, I worked in Sopris 19l5, I worked 16, 1916-17-18 and Rouse 1919.
MV: Here's Lester. Tobasco you were in 1919, 1918, right? Then in 19_ no Tobasco 1917 to 1918.
FG: Right. Then in Rouse for 1919 for six months and then in Lester and then in Ideal 1920 to 1926. December, 1924 – Lester; February, 1926 – Ideal; March, 1927 - Tollerberg Mine; April, 1929 – Norby; December, 1932 - Cameron Mine; February, l92l to December, 1924 – Lester; 1925 to February, 1926 Ideal, then l926 to March, 1927 Tollerburg.
MV: At what year did you retire from the mines?
FG: 1950 to l949.
MV: Where did you live then? 1949?
FG: Yes. Here in Walsenburg.
MV: Where about in Walsenburg did you live?
FG: I lived in Cameron and here in Walsen Camp and I lived here in town, too, this here place.
MV: Can you tell me something about the mines? Was it hard working in the mines?
FG: Very hard working in the mines. See I was punished working in the mine. I had a place 38 inches of rock and 30 inches of coa1. I wouldn't load but three cars of coal by hand in a week's time. From the first day they cut my place I load about 3 cars and that's all. The rest of it was rock and I was punished there all the time and we had dirty coal punishment in the mine, and I was punished on that dirty coal all the way. I couldn't get nothing. So that dirty coal they use in that charity. You paid for people that go to the hospital, people that get in debt in the mine and they get out of that coal, they go to the hospital they get that coal pot to pay, say water or rent, to pay store bill and everything, and I didn't get nothing out of it. Even when we had the union in Cameron, where I worked a lot of the union over there, I couldn't get nothing out of the union. I couldn't get nothing out of the dirty coal pot. I quit Cameron in 1944, I was hurt, I got hurt, bruised my foot bad and I quit 'em. I stayed sixty-three days home. When I went to see if I could get my pension, what do you call it for the state pension?
MV: Old Age Pension? Mines Pension?
FG: No! It's something that when you get hurt they give you that.
FG: Compensation, that's it. I went for my compensation and they gave eight dollars in sixty-three days, so I didn't go in the mine. I quit 'em. I went to Morning Glory and I was still limping around, went to Morning and my friend find a job in Morning Glory and I worked in Morning Glory from l944 to1949. When I quit Morning Glory, I couldn't go anymore. Couldn't go anymore in the mine. That was it. Then I couldn't draw any compensation. I mean what you call, that government compensation?
MV: Old Age Pension?
FG: No! Unemployment. I couldn't get on the unemployment because I was sick, so then I went to, then I tried--seen a doctor, “Can't get that because you're sick, can't get the unemployment--go see Johnson,” he said, “or Sabeno (Commissioners). “Maybe you can get something out of those fellows.” No, I couldn't get nothing. I couldn't get a job on the city either. So he said, “I don't know what to do with you,” he said, “You can't get that unemployment because you're sick and I can't put you on that disability because the minute you want to work you're gonna work and you just can't do it.” So my wife tried it pretty bad, for me to get that disability but, she couldn't get it. Nope.
MV: What year did you get married?
FG: In 1926.
MV: Who did you marry?
FG: Sally Romero.
MV: How many children did you have?
FG: We got ten children.
MV: Are they all living?
FG: All living, yeah. We raised one. We raised Fred since he was little.
MV: Was it hard raising eleven children in those days?
FG: Very, very hard.
MV: What made it real hard?
FG: There were no wages. They wouldn't pay no wages. The only thing that was an advantage was that we could raise chickens, rabbits, cows, in the camp, anywhere you lived. Right here in town, you see. I guess you remember that. We could raise chicken, cows, whatever you wanted to raise, and that was your next meal. You could depend on it. See, it was very hard. The mines weren't working. Idle sometimes--a person couldn't do nothing! Everybody had a hard time in those days. There was no hour pay like there is now, two, three, five, ten dollars an hour. I think, I think, I don't know what they are paying by the hour, but I never did company work. I worked contract all the time, but in those days it was very, very hard because when I first started work around the camps we were getting about fifteen cents an hour, then they raised it to twenty cents an hour. In those days you wouldn't make about three dollars a day, never hardly we make three dollars a day working every day. You'd work fourteen hours a day, twelve hours in the mine, loading coal, digging coal and all which you could make just about forty-five dollars a month and they work. Yeah.
MV: What can you tell me about the strikes?
FG: Oh-ooo, the strikes in 1903 and four, all the strikers, all the fellow strikers had the marshal law over here and they took all the fellows out on strike, like my daddy and all the rest of them, and they dumped them over there in Texas, outside the state of Colorado, all the strikers.
MV: Because they were on strike?
FG: Because they were union men. They wanted a union and that's what the government did with the people. They had the marshal law. You either worked or they wouldn't shoot you but dump you. They dumped you-they had a train load of box cars, load them in and dump them over there in Texas somewheres, but in those days you see, like our ancestors, all of them, all the Mexican people had farms all over. Sheep, there were sheep, sheep men, stockmen, they had farms and they had stock all over and they would get a job here and there, and they would get help too, from those farmers. They had to work for a living and had to do something for a living, you know, but until about six or eight months after, the strike, was the strike wasn't called off, but they started coming in one by one to their homes. We lived in a tent colony, Daddy moved out of the camp, out of our own house. We moved out of the camp because they said we had to move, so we moved out of our own house to a tent colony and daddy built up his tents and we moved over there, but pretty soon, we couldn't stay there. We stayed one winter and then we couldn't stay there till the other one. Too cold. Too cold in the tent, so mother decided to go back home so we went back home. Daddy wasn't still, daddy wasn't home, so we went back home and that all started back again but they had the marshal law there all the time. They didn't want men, any strikers there.
MV: How did they settle the strike after all?
FG: They just didn't raise the wages. They went on the same basis. They didn't raise the wages, people started coming back and started working for the same wages, about fifteen or twenty a ton digging coal.
MV: Through how many strikes did you live?
FG: Two. Thirteen and thirteen and three and four. While I was over here in the mines we never, I never did strike. All the time I was working under the union we never did strike. When we got this union for C.F.I. we didn't strike for that union. We didn't strike, we never did strike. C.F.I. signed for the union and we didn't strike while we worked in Cameron. All of a sudden, we went to work under the union contracts and what the superintendent did, and the company did, is retire all the miners that were retired already, the ones that were retired years and years ago put them on Miner's Pension. All were put on the Miner's pension, so they were living on miner's pension in l938, l937, l947. Yeah, they got out on that pension. The union cut the pension down, they didn't have no money and they put them on welfare over here in Walsenburg all those miners. The same nine months of welfare, nine months of welfare. So then they started, the company was organized already, you see, and working steady and they're paying all those workers, so they built the fund up again and they kept paying those fellows their pension. They paid them their back time, back pay for all those nine months and they went on pension. One of them tells me how, but now they have another deal set up, another deal on that pension. If you didn't work in 1951 you can't get no pension. I didn't work in 1951 so I can't get no pension. I can't get my miner's pension. I tried and tried and I can't get it. It had to be twenty years from where they start so that the company recognize the union about 1937 or 1940. I don't remember. I got my statement there, union statements there when we start to work under the contract, under the union contract.
MV: Do you never did get the miner's pension? Did you get the Black Lung?
FG: I just got the black lung, yeah, my part of social security and that's all.
MV: Did you have trouble getting the black lung?
FG: No, I didn't have so much trouble getting the black lung, but I didn't get like the rest of 'em. I was the lowest paid in the state. I only got two thousand dollars.
MV: How many years did you work in the mine?
FG: About forty years. About forty years--I started to work in the mines about 1910 when my brother got killed. That's about when I started to work--around the mines and then in the mines. Yeah.
MV: What were the names of your children?
FG: The oldest one is Fred, the second one is Bertha, then Chuck, then Ruth, Viola, Frankie, Gladys, Gloria, Jimmy, Manuel and Eleanor. It's hard to get their right age because they grow up and some of those, some of them look older than the first ones, the youngest one, like Frankie. Frankie already has white hair, a white beard.
MV: How did you got around in those days? Did you have a car?
FG: No! No cars, no cars, nobody had cars. Hardly anybody had cars in those days. Can't afford 'em.
MV: Did you walk everywhere you went?
FG: People, most of them, walk all the time, you know. Well, you want to go far, you had to rent a rig and buggy, spring wagon or wagon or horse to ride, you walk all the time. I see those miners, the fellows that work from San Miguel, and that are far and close to work, to Fredrick Mine. They live four miles, three miles away from the mine, and they used to walk every morning to the mine - four miles. Work eight hours and walk back, all year long. Yeah, I lived about one mile and one half from the mine, and I walked to the mine, one mile and one half this side the distance from the mine. But that's close compared to those fellows in the farms outside the camp. Oh yeah, it was far for everybody, it wasn't too easy, but like I said, you could raise your chicken, cows, oats, dogs and everything like that and everything was free here, the land was free for everybody. You see, you had horses, cows, you turn them loose to pasture, you didn't have to raise any hay, or something like that, they just lived on what they get. All the land was free. I seen some fellows that have as much as 600 sheep. They just turned them loose here and there. Everybody had a bunch of goats, two to three hundred goats scattered all over the place. And they pay no rent for the pasture in the spring and that makes little convenience for the people living that way. And we live out of those people too. You want to buy a little goat to butcher, it was a dollar. Now they want it by the weight - five dollars for one.
MV: What can you tell me about the politics in those days?
FG: Nothing, cause in those days politics were - oh, the Republican Party was for the company. Our state officials and representative were for the company - nothing the people could do. Politics is like it is now, almost just like it is now. The ones that belong to the same clique is the ones that get the benefits, the rest of them don't get nothing. We're in that same deal right now. But, of course, now you have, that's one thing you have now, in the old days your words were no good. You couldn't put a case into the president or any of the legislation. Nothing.
MV: Do you remember the Ludlow Massacre?
FG: Yeah, I remember that. I don't remember what time they burned the tent colony but I remember that. Yeah. The company opened fire on that tent colony and burned everything. Yeah.
MV: Why did the Ludlow Massacre take place? Why is it they had a tent colony there? Why is it those people, these women and children…?
FG: Why, because if you were on strike they chased you out of the camps as long as you were on strike. Right away you know you had to build up your tent colony or some other place that you know you could build. That's the way they built a tent colony, the union offered the tents you see, the United Mine Workers offered those tents and you get the tents and put 'em up the same tents from back East. You didn't have to buy 'em, just put 'em up, and just look for a place where you had water and that's all, and that's all you need is water. Spring water, they had a lot of water in those days. Springs all over, all over the state. Yeah. In Grey Creek where I was born, about three miles from the mountain, well, I think I seen about forty or fifty springs, water springs, water first flowin' out of the ground. Yeah. And good water, too.
MV: You said you lived in Cameron and Walsen Camp? How was the living in the camps in those days? Did the people get along?
FG: People get along pretty good in the camps, but when I quit Cameron and I live in Wa1sen, in company property, I didn't work for the company the time I was hurt, sixty-three days, and then I got a job over there and worked about a year or so and then they went to chase me out of the camp. So the fellow that runs the camp, he said, he went over there and said, “You have to get out 'cause you're not working for C.F.I., you just have to get out.” I said, “I'm not going to get out. I worked long enough for this company and rent long enough to own this house.” But he said, “No, it belongs to the company, so you're going to have to get out.” I said “I'm not going to get out!” So they cut the lights, cut the light. So I bought some kerosene and oil lamps and they worked another six or eight months. Then they cut the water so I started in bringing water from the neighbors. And then we said we better get the hell out of here. We ain't getting nowhere this way. Okay. I came downtown and look and see they gotta rent places here and there, whatever we could find, not what we wanted. What ever we was able to find, that was it, junky places. Of course, in those days everybody had, we had junky shacks and houses and everything nothing like now, very different, but before we were very happy. Yeah.
MV: Did the people in the camps get along?
FG: Yeah, they get along pretty good. Very few families were bad - they don't pay no attention. About two or three families in the camp that's it. No, no, they get along pretty good. In the mines is where we had a little trouble. We had trouble with Mexican and Italian, Italian with Slavish and so forth like that. Nothing too bad.
MV: What did you do for recreation? To have fun?
FG: Nobody had any recreation but drinking, that's all the recreation they had.
MV: Did you have any dances?
FG: In my early days all I ever did was play ball.
MV: Play ball?
FG: Been playing ball since I was a little kid. I pitched ball about twelve, fifteen years. Yeah. But during the times I didn't work in the mines, I had a bad place and when we wanted to rest for a little bit, I went to work on the farms a month or two during the harvest, whether it was a month or two, or just a month, I worked on the farms.
MV: What did you harvest?
FG: No, just work on the farms, for somebody else, the farmers. Yeah.
MV: Que sembravan en esos dias? (What was planted in those days?)
FG: Sembravan de todo: maiz, abrejon, frijol, avas, trigo, cebolle, alfalfa, squashes, watermelon, cantaloupe, radishes, yeah, adonde quiera se dava: radishes, cantaloupe, garlic, everything. (They planted a lot of different things: corn, peas, beans, horsebeans, wheat, onions, alfalfa, squashes, watermelon, cantaloupe, radishes, yeah. They grew all over: radishes, cantaloupe, garlic, everything.)
MV: Where were these farms at?
FG: All around, all around the state. All around the state. How the big fellows bought everything and they turned it into pasture or something else. They aren't like they used to be around the town there, big place, like air base or something.
MV: How did you celebrate the holidays then? How did you celebrate the holidays?
FG: In the early days we didn't have any holidays. Just Fourth of July and Christmas. New Years, we worked. But Fourth of July we laid off and Christmas laid off.
MV: Did you have dances and fireworks?
FG: Yeah, yeah, and for Christmas in the camps we had it pretty well organized. Every Christmas we had a Christmas tree, presents for everybody. Yeah, the people get together and put up, build up funds and buy toys for the kids and that's what we do. Sometimes, why your daddy buy trucks for you and take them to the Christmas tree, but other people built up the funds for and give them a Christmas present over there, whatever they want to give them, see. It wasn't like your father buy you something and take it over to the Christmas tree. No, this was like whatever they wanted to give them, whatever they give them on that tree. We used to give little wagons, used to give sleds, used to give toys from the stores, BB guns or different toys, toys that you could enjoy for a while.
MV: So recuerda de remedios que usavan en esos dias (Do you remember the remedies that were used in those days)?
FG: Yeah, the old woman, just herbs. I don't know the names of 'em but
MV: Que hasian con ellas (That they _____ with them)? Los remedies (The remedies)?
FG: Uh huh. Cural la gento. They have a bunch of remedies. They used to oural quevaduras tambien with some kind of herbs. There were no doctors in the camps, or other places, on the farms. The kids run around. Everybody had a bunch of kids on the farm that break their arm or leg and they just put a splint there and a bunch of weeds there or whatever. There you go. As far as cancer or something you get a stomach ache or something that you eat or something you get a lump in your stomach or a sore or something, you get some of those herbs and drink them, liquids. But the people didn't have no cancer in those days. They eat everything, everything was cooked fresh, like beans, everything, and very few people had the money to buy tomatoes and fruits, but all the rest of the food, we dried spinach, everything that you raised, like squashes, we dried squashes, we dried chile, bad chile and everything that you raise on the farm, you slice it and dry it and now whatever you do, why, if you want freeze it, you freeze it. That's what they do now-a-days, you see. But those days were pretty bad, pretty hard to keep those things clean, you know. Because you had to dry them outside in the sun and keep them out of the flies, and now it's different. People didn't eat out of cans in those days, hardly anybody ate canned food. Ever since they started eating canned food, everybody started getting cancer and different infections in the stomach--infections in el estómago (the stomach). A lot of people lived and died and never did see a doctor, just raise, like the Indians, their own remedies, you see.
MV: Now about the law in those days? What was the law like? The law?
FG: Huh, the law was very strict in those days.
MV: You say it was strict, in what way?
FG: Well, they were the law that's all and just for the law. And if you didn't go their way they could beat you unto death, that's all. But now it's different. Never the less, you had that kind of law. According to your punishment, they tie you up on a small wheel, wagon wheel, small ones and that was the worse penalty, oh, a small wheel tied up and just wrinkled up like that. And if they wanted, they tie you up on a big one; you had more room on a big wheel. Wagon wheel was that big, like that, you had more room, that's all. According to the punishment they give you, that was it - small wheel, big wheel.
MV: Did you have stores in those days?
FG: Yeah, habia tienditas (_____ little stores). A lot of stores, a lot of country stores and the camps had their store. All the camps had their store, the company stores. In those days, the company store if you worked there, you had to buy everything in that store. You couldn't buy anything from the peddlers. There used to be some peddlers come in, smuggling, but you couldn't buy nothing from the peddlers because they wouldn't let them in. Sometimes they would come in smuggling and they wouldn't see them and you could buy vegetables, fresh vegetables or something like that. But sometimes some camp superintendent was kind of mean and said you buy this from that fella, you buy this from this fella and you buy this and that, and you're not going to work no more and they fired you. See, and they just fired you. You had no say so--nobody to represent you. Just fired, you worked somewhere else and all camps were the same. They wouldn't let no peddler in and a lot of fellows had farms close to the camp and they raised vegetables, go out there and sell. They sell goats. They sell cheese and something like that. Yeah, if the superintendent wanted to buy the cheese there. If he buys it, whatever they were selling, they could go in there day and night if they wanted to. But some superintendents didn't like that see. They wanted you to trade in the company store. That way. Yeah. I seen a fella that worked in the mines walked four miles in the mine, back and forth. On Sundays he used to go up on the mountains and pick pinksberries or raspberries and bring them down and sell them to the superintendents. On Sunday that was his day off and he would go ear1y in the morning and pick these berries and bring and sell them to the super in a three pound bucket. Little like this. Have you seen those three pound buckets?
MV: Yeah, uh huh.
FG: Did you?
MV: Yeah, I remember.
FG: Do you remember? He bring about six. I think he would get about seventy-five each. Forty-five, but they charged you seventy-five. It's hard to get those things there, to go up to the mountains three miles and three miles here to the camp and back.
SIDE TWO: I don't hear anything at beginning of tape on side two and can't recall what he said then. Then it starts up again.
FG: Very much, very much. Yeah.
MV: Of what, of what?
FG: Of that like oh, oh, witch craft. If a person wouldn't dress very well, you know, she was a witch. You considered her as a witch and you'd be scared of her. The early days in the taverns, they stay gambling you know, gambling. Those people live there. If they make one dollar or two a day or fifty cents a day they live on that in them there saloons and all the fellas that didn't work, some of them never did work cause all the saloons you had there keepers had a big kettle on the stove all the time, boiling soup, vegetables, thing like that. Mostly always meat soup, you know. You go early in the morning, buy your mug of beer for fifteen cents, big mug, like that, for fifteen cents. You was entitled to eat all day out of that soup, for the people who buy that fifteen cent beer and the rest of the beer was ten cents a glass. A big glass, but those big mugs used to be like that. You buy that fifteen cent beer and that's all you had to buy. That beer, that fifteen cent beer and the rest of the beer was ten cents a glass. A big glass, but those big mugs used to be like that. You buy that fifteen cent beer early in the morning, say, about four o'clock in the morning or six o'clock or some were open day and night. They were never closed. You buy that beer and you eat that soup there and that soup was there year around. Some people they never did work at all. That's what a boarding house was, they don't have to get that fifteen cents. Probably they work in the saloon washing spitoons or something like that, something filthy, you know, and fifteen, twenty, twenty-five cents and they live a week on that. Funny how things change. Everything's changing, and it looks like its changing from bad to worse, according to wages now. This fella getting high wages no, they're hurtin' this and hurtin' the other person. Of course, they're all getting better and better wages but the miners, you see. They shou1dn't strike for that much wages to hurt the people, and they got it because they vote for the president. The president helped them. And while we were striking we didn't have no help from the president, from nobody. Why, we couldn't even hire a lawyer. If we did, they wouldn't admit it. A lawyer to represent us.
MV: Yeah, they're changing way, too much, no? It kind of worries a person if you think of it because you went through all of that.
MV: What can you tell me about your childhood?
FG: Oh, not much. I never had nothing as good. Why we just had it rough after my daddy died and my oldest brother that's all.
MV: What year did your daddy die?
FG: He got killed in the mine in 19O9.
FG: Uh huh. And my oldest brother, 1910, not quite a year apart. Me and my brother were just young, you know, and went in the mines. He went in the mines and worked. They didn't want to give him a job, but finally they gave him a job. There was a friend of ours, a boy little older than him, that was working and he say, “Well, that family needs some work and you don't want to hire that boy cause he had a lot of family to take care of. His daddy got killed and his brother got killed. Nobody works but him, he have to work and support the family. So the super says, “Now I can't, he's too young that's all. I can't hire him. So I says I'm not going to work hard. Give him my job, and so he walked out. My brother got the job. So then, the super put that fellow on another job. So that's the way he started. And then when he started work, why, they were working twelve and fourteen hours a day for a dollar sixty. Yeah, you got a dollar eighty if you worked a fourteen hour day and everything goes right. You got a dollar eighty. Anyway, then the mines started exploding, like Starkville and Delaqua and Hastings, whatever it is, and they wanted coal, so that they built another. They built a chute and then another dump, a dump on the chute, a double dump on the chute, and they worked for fourteen hours a day. So nobody, so nobody laid off nothing, just work, and work and work, that's all. They slave a man. They work on Sundays and all. They want oh, when the mines exp1oded and these fellows that's got killed in those mines before, they wouldn't, they wouldn't pay, those companies, they wouldn't pay that compensation, two thousand dollars or something like that. All they give them was a coffin and that's all. After they started giving 'em compensation, two thousand dollars compensation. Some people just blowed it right away. But some grew out of it, just very few people. Mexican people from Old Mexico, these are the ones that make something out of that money. They went back and to Mexico and made some money. Mexican money in those days was twenty-five to one for United States money, see. Then it got bad right away and it's going to get worse. These high wages, they can't go on forever. One of these days they're going to bust and then what is the young generation going to do? Huh? Some of them live very high right now without hard work. There's a lot of money. There's a lot of pension, lot of work hard for some of them.
MV: What did we used to get out of work over here?
MV: What did we used to get out of commodities?
FG: Nothing. Couple dozen of oranges and that was all. Now, now, now, it's going to get worse. Now you see our dollar, how small it is now. It's going to be smal1er than a dime pretty soon. No more silver than that. They are going to have to put just some kind of metal or we're gonna have wooden dollars. It might be we're going to come to that point. Cause I seen, in 1915 when I worked in Sopris, they were paying us with gold, they paid all gold. No paper, no silver, just gold. Gold and little bit of silver. In 1913 in the strike we got paid with gold, and that strike. And pretty soon we got paid with, with paper currency, and pretty soon we didn't get nothing at all. The strike was called off. Not a penny, nothing. Back to work and you asked for a job. Go and and see if Mother Jones got a job for you.
MV: Who was Mother Jones?
FG: The head of the union. Go see Mother Jones. Go see Mother Jones. Of course we got a job at Sopris. Of course, nobody had to like it, but we got one of the worse places in the mine. We were trapped in there. We were trapped in there.
MV: For how long?
FG: I don't know. It could of been ten hours, twelve hours. It could be twenty. It could be less.
MV: Was there a cave in or what?
FG: Cave In, yeah. It caved in about from here to the courthouse. In that entry. The places didn't cave in. All the places didn't cave in. Just the entry. They closed the rooms then, so that's when we quit there in Sopris. That's when we quit there. We got that close there. We had it rough in Sopris. One time, we missed the trip. At two-thirty or two-twenty you had to rush around there, run to get the trip. Run to the pardon to get the trip so at 2:30. So there was an Italian there, that close, just us there and he was jealous all the time, you know. He would load one car or something. He was jealous. Anyway, I guess he put the wench back one day and so we missed the trip one day. We missed the trip, we started walking and the hours hardly anything. Maybe eight and fifteen minutes, and sometimes not that long. So we started walking, lights are, my light was out, and his light was out, started walking, and seven miles in there, started walking in the dark. And wait, we got to the main way, and in the main way, we would break in the cross trip to the main allage. You got to the main allage. We started walking, we got out of there four o'clock in the morning. By the time we got out of the mine, by the time they put the lights on the hoist to let the trip go down we were on the main homage. There was no room on that entry, about this much, on one side of the entry, with a cardboard on it, hardly any room, about that much on each side. So that trip would go down that way would cause us. So when the fellas got…he put on his light around the hoist to run the trip down. The other fellas started walking out the main ramp, lamp house, and at that time they seen us going out, walking through the trip. They seen us from here to there, “Is that you?” “Yeah.” “We were just going to look for you. It's a good thing you got out cause if they run that trip down it would of got you on the main road.” It's a good thing we got out of there. Yeah. So finally we quit. We got three close calls in that mine and we got out of there.
MV: Do you remember the Penitentes?
MV: What do you have to say about them?
FG: I never did bother. My daddy didn't like us to, first of all. No, I never did.
MV: Do you know what they did?
FG: Oh, yeah! What they did was nothing. They didn't do nothing. Cause it didn't matter. That was their religion that's all. Yeah.
MV: What can you say about the customs of yesteryear?
FG: No, nothing, I guess. We never paid no attention. The people never paid no attention to all of that.
MV: How did they celebrate the weddings?
FG: It was very nice. Very nice. Ronia con otros (------ with other) people that had a grudge with others.
MV: What you say? What you call it?
FG: Ahh. Grudge! Yeah! Yeah! That was a time that they used to fight is in the dances. Whether it was a wedding dance or in another dance, you know. They used to celebrate it eucina. And it was pretty bad, cause somebody was killed - two or three people, but we go to the dances just the same. We used to go to the dances. When we were young, why we used to get around with the young kids, you know. The young generation always stuck together, pretty close, very friendly. But the old people were the ones that had it, had it against each other. Nevertheless, if you were in there, you'd get bit with a bullet or something. Yeah. They had another celebration, that they cut it out many years ago, that they called “Gallo Day.” The Gallo Days, boy, they run for the gallo. Street like this, you know, put a gallo in the middle of the road there and they all start running, one by one, or two together, and stoop down and pull that rooster. Who ever pulled the rooster, he had to hit you on the head with it, or wherever it took fighting for that rooster, so there was a lot of blood shed on that. They get that rooster, they get just nothing out of it. Then they turn the quarts (los cuartos) made out of good leather you know, and braid it and have a piece of iron, that big, by the handle, and they turn them, and they beat each other up. If one get hit over there, he fall off the horse and stay there, the other one over there, till finally there be but two or three, on their feet. But they'd be beat so bad that you could hardly tell who they were. They were bad. They cut that. They cut that. Just like in Mexico, you see. Yeah, the Gallo Day in Mexico, one of them gallo fights, it's just the same. If your rooster loses, why the other fella wanna put his gun and...and that's the way it was here with them. That's why they had revenge against one another one. That's the only way they would get it. Santiago Day and Gallo Day, yeah.
MV: What other days did they celebrate?
FG: Just Dia Santiago. Dia Santa Anna, next day. Or dia Santa Anna first day or next one.
MV: What month was that?
FG: In the month of July or September. I don't remember. Have to look it up and see cause I used to go to it once in a while.
MV: What did they do for St. Anne's day?
FG: Celebrate just like the Fourth of July. Just a celebration de Santa Anna. Yeah. Why, bronco riding, races, just like Fourth of July. And Dia Santiago, Well, that was just Gallo Day, racing for the gallo. They had a dance and that's it. Dia Santa Anna, they had a different celebration. Yeah, races and different games. Yeah. But the Gallo Day there was a dance and waiting for them to run out for the gallo. They had no other celebration for the younger, the youngsters. And Dia de Santa Anna, si, next day. I think the next day is Dia de Santa Anna. They had something for the kids and the old people. It was all very nice, very nice.
MV: And you live here alone?
FG: Yeah. The children visit me often, They were here. Frank was here, came for that wedding. Frankie and Jenny and Donald.
MV: How many years were you married?
FG: About twenty-one, twenty-seven. Twenty-one. Boy, some days I can't walk.
FG: Yeah. They're painful.
MV: Was there a lot of water in the mines?
FG: Yeah, That's what it, probably where it came from. Yeah. Yeah! I worked in places where it had a lot of water. Most of the places I worked had a lot of water. Water dripping from on top, you know. Streams as thick as my finger, like that. We used to put and times so that the water run to the side and still get pretty wet, wet all the time. Until you go through those wet places, where the water dripping, sometimes it takes a month, sometimes it takes two months to go through those places.
MV: What music did they have for the dances?
FG: Just violin y guitara. Violin and guitar. That's all. And accordion. Very quickly we didn't have no musicians and every now and then, we wanna have a dance on Saturday and we have the accordion man playing. We call it pushy-pulley. We say, “Let's hire the pushy-pulley.” And he played all night for three hours. He played polkas and he played good music, very good. We had a lot of fun, old people, young people. Yeah. And probably somebody had a violin and go and play violin and guitar and play waltzes and Cuma's and stuff like that for the old people and we all had a good time. The American people wanted the “pushy-pulley.” That was a different kind of music.
MV: Do you still go to dances?
FG: Just wedding dances, like that. I don't go to these other dances, no.
MV: So you say you're 85 years old now?
MV: How do you feel?
FG: I feel happy, you know. I know I have arthritis, boy, sometimes I can hardly walk. But I still go around. I feel like a kid compared to some people I see who stay in bed all the time and others with broken legs, you know, or something bad, I just feel like a kid. I feel just like a young man cause when I lay down in bed, that's bad. Whenever, you have to have someone take care of you, that's bad, cause when you can take care of yourself, there's no sense in kicking, no sense in kicking, a person can move around as much as you care, and sometimes when I get bad if I was somebody else I could just lay down and die. Yeah. You have to move around, move around.
Back to the Oral Interviews Main Page
Return to the Huerfano County Home Page
© Karen Mitchell