Huerfano County, Colorado
Oral Interviews

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Max and Lulu Valdez
Contributed by: Robin McGuire


Farisita -- Turkey Creek

Max: My Father from what I know, he came from New Mexicoand he got this homestead here. This little ranch, 160 acres. Here he lived iin this ranch.

Gloria: What was your father's name?

Max: My Fathers name was Juan Santos Valdez. And my mother's name was Cruzita Valdez. She was Cruzita Montano at first and then she changed to Valdez because she got married with my father.

Gloria: Do you know in what year they came from New Mexico?

Lulu: 1892. He got his homestead. I can't say it in Spanish very well, but I will tell you in English. He patented this 160 acres, public domain, January 11, 1892 during Benjamin Harrison's administration. He lived here all the days of his life. From then on--- he was a veteran of the Civil War. He was a Union soldier.

Max: He was a corporal, wasn't he?

Lulu: Yes, he was a corporal. We're very proud of that because it's from way, way back, you know he was a corporal. After the war then he came home, he married Max's mother, Cruzita Montano, and they had eight or nine children from this union and they lived here all the time they were married. She was born in Pena Blanca, New Mexico, but was raised in Red River Valley until she came to this county here.

Gloria: Isn't that Red River Valley what they call Rio Colorado now?

Max: Yes Rio Colorado

Gloria: Why do so many people say that they came from there?

Max: She came from there and my father I don't know from where.

Lulu: He was from New Mexico too.

Max: Yes, but from Los Alamogordos. He came after the war, when the war was over.

Gloria: Do you know whereabouts he fought?

Lulu: Yes. Glorieta Pass.

Gloria: How many years was he when he fought?

Max: I don't know how how many years he had, he did not tell us about all of that.

Gloria: He wasn't married when he was in the army?

Max: He was married to his first wife. He was a widower when he married my mother.

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Lulu: He was married twice.

Max: He was married twice. His first wife's name was Rita.

Lulu: Rita Vigil.

Gloria: Did she die?

Max: Yes, she died. Then he married my mother. He met her at the Montanos' home here and they were married then.

Gloria: Was he married to this other woman when he came here?

Max: I don't know if he was married, or if he was married when he came. I believe he was married when he came from there.

Gloria: Did he come to this place first?

Max: Yes. He homesteaded this place, you see. He arrived here, and, I believe he would go to Walsen to file the papers for this land.

Lulu: No he went to Pueblo, Max. These papers were patented in Pueblo. And this place was called Talpa.

Gloria: This place here?

Lulu: Yes. This is part of Farisita. But I don't know why. His early mail as I have it, because I have cards from there from eighteen eighty something, are all Talpa, Colorado. See? I don't know why years later they changed their mail to Gardner and it has been Gardner ever since. But it was Talpa when he homesteaded it. It was Talpa.

Max: It was the only post office there, I believe. Don't you see?

Gloria: Here? Where it is now?

Max: Yes, where it is now.

Gloria: How many acres did he homestead?

Max: One hundred sixty.

Gloria: And do you still have the one hundred sixty?

Max: No. He gave four acres for the cemetery. That cemetery was his.

Gloria: What were the names of his parents?

Max: I don't know that. Perhaps he didn't speak about that, that I remember. I was very small when he died. I was about 12 years old. I don't remember everything. I am one of the youngest of the family, you see.

Gloria: How many children did he have?

Max: He had eight. We found there. More or less, as far as we know.

Gloria: What about your mother's family.

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Max: My mother's family? The one who died lately was her brother, Uncle Daniel Montano. Another was Jose Montano, and Tomasita Montano.

Lulu: That was her sister. Her mother was Antonia Garcia. That I remember her talking about. I do not know what her father's name was.

Max: She was born in New Mexico. She was baptized in Pena Blanca. I believe she was born in Rio Colorado. At least I think so.

Gloria: When did your parents die?

Lulu: I have it. If you can give me a few minutes, I can get it for you.

Gloria: Do you know when she came from New Mexico?

Max: No. I don't know what year she came, but she married my father when she was 25 years old, so they say.

Gloria: How old was your father?

Max: Well I don't know. I can't tell you how old he was when he married her. I don't remember anything about that.

Gloria: Did they live here?

Max: Oh, yes. He homestead here and they lived here until he died. Then she and I continued to keep the place. Then she died and I kept it.

Gloria: What did you raise?

Max: We raised everything. There was plenty of water in those days, you see. We had good gardens. We grew wheat. My father and I used to go grind wheat in La Veta. There is a mill there yet. We would grind the wheat and made flour. We used to kill hogs for the lard and for meat. That is how people lived. They lived very economically then because there weren't many stores in Gardner where people traded.

Gloria: Did you buy some things in that store?

Max: Oh, yes. We traded with the Hudsons all our lives until my mother died, and we still continued doing so ourselves.

Gloria: How did you go to La Veta to grind?

Max: We drove a team of horses.

Gloria: How long did it take you to get there?

Max: It would take us one day to go and another day to return. We stayed there wherever we could. We would camp out and then come back as soon as the wheat was ready.

Gloria: Did you use that flour all year?

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Max: Yes all year. I put it up high where the mice or anything could not get at it. The whole year.

Lulu: I have some information here that I believe that you could use on that. I found here where-- since they operated on my eyes they're bad. Her (grandmas) father's name was Jesus Jose Montano and her mother was Antonia Garcia. They had eight children. Grandma was born May 3, 1864 and your father Juan Santos Valdez was born March 19, 1833. He passed away August 18,1917. Juan Santos Valdez and Maria de la Cruz were married July 25, 1890, and the children to this union were: Maria Sara Valdez, Mrs. Macedonio Cortez, born 5/6/1891. I don't know the date she passed away. Maria Fernanda Valdez, Mrs. Jose Vialpando, born 5/20/1892 and passed away March 1977. Ismael Valdez, born 6/10/1893, passed away August 1, 1948, Maria Adela Valdez, Mrs. Ernesto Cortez, born 11/6/1894. I don't know the year she passed away. Maria Alvinita Valdez, born 4/11. She passed away when she was a baby. Maria Eutemia Valdez, Mrs. Esperidion Cortez, born 10/24/1899 Max Valdez, born 10/10/1902, Maria Criselda Valdez. She was the baby of the family. She was Mrs. Felix Martinez, born 4/9/1908, and I don't know when she passed away. But that's what I have of his family.

Max: We could find out from the headstones in the cemetery, but to go there---

Gloria: Is your name only Max?

Max: Oh, Malaquias

Lulu: Max Malaquias.

Gloria: Do you use both names?

Lulu: Yes. Yes.

Max: We are using both names because I changed to Max because all our papers are....

Lulu: it's legalized.

Max: It's legalized but Malaquias Valdez was my name.

Gloria: Did you have a middle name?

Max: No.

Gloria: How did people get along during your parent's times. Did they help each other?

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Max: People here used to help each other cut the grain with the small sickle. Five, six and even up to eleven men would get together to cut the grain in someone's house. That's how they cut the grain. Then they would go to another ranch to cut. They would also get together to gather the straw with the small pitchfork, and lift it onto the hay rack and to put up in a pile. Very curious. Not like it is now.

Lulu: Not really. I think the people were close, very congenial in those days.

Max: And people helped each other a lot. Not now. Now people want money for everything.

Gloria: What kinds of medicines did they use. They didn't have doctors, did they?

Max: There were no doctors until they started working the mines here. Then came Dr. Fowler, I believe was his name. Dr. Fowler was the only doctor we had here. What was the name of the doctor in Walsen? I don't remember his name. He used to come sometimes too.

Lulu: I think people took care of their own.

Max: There were 'medicas', that is women who acted as doctors and midwives. People used to get medicines from them.

Gloria: Who were these medicas?

Max: One of them was Donaciana Trujillo, Thomas Trujillo's mother. She used to live where Sam Thompson lives.

Gloria: What did she use to cure people with?

Max: I think she used herbs, because there was nothing else. Rocky Mountain Sage, rubber bush and Marijuana. No, I don't think there was marijuana in those days. But now there is marijuana.

Gloria: But there is mariola, isn't there. Sage.

Max: Mariola. Yes, mariola (sage,), rubber bush and what is it called? wormwood.

Lulu: I think you blew it Max.

Max: No.

Lulu: That's horrible (laughter)

Max: They say it is good for medicinal purposes.

Gloria: Do they say so. I don't know.

Max: Yes they do.

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Lulu: If it were, I would already have tried it.

Max: You haven't used it because you haven't found it. But people say is is good for rheumatism. Now-a-days people don't believe in herbs, only doctors.

Gloria: Was this medica a midwife also?

Max: Yes a midwife.

Lulu: An then there was that other lady. What was her name? she was a midwife too.

Max: Yes, her name was ---

Lulu: What was her name?

Max: Well, I don't remember what her name was.

Gloria: Where did she live?

Lulu: Mrs. Tomasita Vigil --- Mrs. Tomasita Vigil, she was a midwife. She used to live about two miles.

Max: There in that ranch now called, what do they call it now? The Santana ranch. She lived down below, near the Morada (a house where the Peneitentes carried on their rites) Just a little higher up in that house that is there.

Gloria: Did any of your family work in the mines?

Max: No, no one. My compadre (ritual co-parent) worked only on ranches.

Lulu: there were only two boys in the family. See? He and the one that died.

Max: Yes. There were only two men in the family.

Gloria: And you had to work on the ranch?

Max: I didn't work on the ranch. When I wasn't working here, I worked in Westcliff.

Lulu: He had a half brother.

Max: Julian Valdez

Lulu: Julian Valdez, Julian J. Valdez. He is Ersie's grandfather. And that's his (Max) half brother. He was born to his father and this Rita Vigil.

Max: He lived right at the source of the river. In the ranch that that doctor bought.

Lulu: Ferrendelli

Max: Ferrendelli. That was his ranch.

Gloria: So that's why Porfie was the name Valdez.

Lulu: See he's his nephew.

Gloria: Nearly everyone around here is related, aren't they?

Max: Yes nearly everyone.

Gloria: One way or another.


Max: Ersie.

Lulu: Maddie, Frances. All of them

Max: Their father was Felix Valdez.

Gloria: When you used to go to Westcliffe, about what year was it?

Max: I don't remember what year it was.

Gloria: Was it before the depression?

Max: Oh, yes. It was before the depression.

Lulu: Even before we were married.

Gloria: For whom did you work there?

Max: I don't even remember what the ranches were called. We used to work in different places too. We used to move around, as I do here. When the work was finished in one place we would go to another. We used to work there in Westcliffe, everywhere. They also would change places with the regular workers.

Gloria: Did you go all summer.

Max: No. I would go for two months, August and September, See. When the hay was harvested.

Gloria: Who did the work here?

Max: Nobody. There was no one here to do it. Mother did what she could, and I would come Saturdays and Sundays to help her, see. I would come on horseback, there was no other way.

Gloria: How long would it take you to come?

Max: Well I would leave at six or seven in the evening and we arrived here at one o'clock in the morning. Or at twelve o'clock.

Gloria: Did you come alone or with others?

Max: No. With other workers from here who were working there too. Each one would stop at his own home. We would part company at Williams Creek. Some would come here.

Gloria: Wasn't there work here, or why did you go there?

Max: No there was no work here. We would finish with the alfalfa and then... We had only alfalfa then. We didn't plant hay. And then too we didn't have too much land planted with alfalfa. This place we have now I fixed almost by myself.

Gloria: Did you have cows or what?

Max: My father had cattle.

Gloria: Did you have sheep too?

Max: No. I bought sheep after I got married, didn't I?

Lulu: Uh-huh.

Max: We had sheep for about three years.

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Gloria: What effect did the depression have on the people around here?

Max: Well, the people around here... the depression... had to sell their land. Those who had dry land had to leave to go work wherever they could. They went to Denver, to Pueblo, and to different places.

Gloria: Why was it that only those without water had to leave their land?

Max: The weather was very dry and we couldn't raise anything here. The wind storms were terrible. It would dry up everything on the ranches without water, you see. All this property that I have, I kept, but it was so dry that nothing would grow. It was good only to pasture cattle.

Gloria: So, many of the people left at that time, didn't they?

Max: Yes. People left then.

Gloria: Who lived near you before they sold?

Max: There were a lot of people before they sold. The Cokedales who lived above Johnny Bucci's place. And the Cortezes had different places here, you see, and they too were dry ranches. And Bucci was also our neighbor. He had cattle. Tomas Trujillo lived here also.

Lulu: Valerio Escobedo.

Max: Valerio lived where Ms. Kinslow lives now.

Lulu: Johnny.

Max: He lived here. He rented from Mr. Kino Montez.

Lulu: He owned the place and then Bucci bought it.

Max: Then Kino died and Bucci bought it.

Gloria: Did Bucci have a large ranch?

Max: Yes. Bucci had a good (size) ranch here on the other side of Sam.

Lulu: What is now the McNabb place. All of that plus this down here, Johnny's.

Gloria: Where did you sell your cows? and the calves?

Max: We sold them here on the ranch. We practically gave them away to the people. A calf was worth only eight or ten dollars at that time. I think you remember when you heard people talk that she was a teacher.

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Lulu: She was county superintendent.

Gloria: Martha Shorn?

Max: Well, my father used to sell the calves to the husband of this Martha Shorn, and to Agosto Hornick whom you probably have heard mentioned. He lived here at the mines and had a little place here on this big ranch which is above Farisita. My father used to sell him calves too, also for ten to fifteen dollars at the most. They sold calves for from eleven dollars on up at that time.

Gloria: Bulls too?

Max: Bulls and heifers.

Gloria: Practically given away, weren't they.

Max: Almost given away. A sack of flour cost no more than one dollar and a half. A hundred pounds of flour. We made our own lard. Almost everything. We raised vegetables here on the ranch. Everything, pumpkins, corn. We used to raise from ten to eleven wagonloads of corn.

Gloria: Where did you store them?

Max: We put it in the cellar after we shucked and thrashed it. After doing this we put it in barrels there.

Gloria: Did you go to Walsen only now and then?

Max: Only once in a while. We would go once a month or every two months, I think. We went only to buy some little things that people needed. Because we always had flour, lard and as for the meat we never bought that either.

Gloria: Did the people use the banks?

Max: I don't believe so. My father received a pension from the government, and people borrowed money from him. He loaned money to the people here, but he trusted their word since he couldn't read either.

Gloria: He was the bank here?

Max: Yes he was the bank for the people around here.

Gloria: I think the people here did not know the people from Gardner and up above. Did they?

Max: People knew each other better than they do now. People used to visit a lot then. Because they helped one another, you see. And they knew everybody locally and in other places.

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Gloria: Where did they hold the dances here?

Max: Here. They had the dances in the home of Tomas Trujillo because they had a big Hall there.

Lulu: And the Cisneros' hall up there.

Max: And then the Cisneros' hall over there on top.

Gloria: Where was that?

Max: At the house of Tony Pando. A little there at the house of Tony Pando. There was a school at Birmingham and they used to make dances there too.

Lulu: That wasn't Cisneros that was Birmingham.

Max: There was another hall above that they would call Cisneros Hall.

Lulu: Cisneros was the name of the man that owned the house.

Max: Juan Cisneros, that was the name of the man that owned the house.

Lulu: They had beautiful dances up there.

Max: Then they also had dances in that school at Maes Creek. Also at La Paloma when they built La Paloma they had dances. There were frequent dances. Every Saturday.

Lulu: Tom Trujillo. Cousin Tomas had a hall.

Max: Yes Tomas Trujillo also.

Gloria: Who played for those dances?

Max: Tomas. Alejandro

Gloria: What Alejandro?

Max: Alejandro Ames.

Lulu: Gaspar Ames, Jose Escobedo, Felix Escobedo, Pete Escobedo. All the Escobedos played. They all played beautifully. Violin and guitar.

Max: Yes, violin and guitar.

Lulu: Those old pieces. Quadrilles.

Max: We used to go on horseback as far as Piedras Amarillas to the dances. There at Pass Creek, where the hippies live now, there by the river. There was, what was the name of that man?

Lulu: Joe Keen.

Max: Well, the hall was a little below where the river runs, in that house where - what is the man's name lives.

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Gloria: You used to go to the dances on horseback that far?

Max: Oh, yes.

Gloria: So you really liked to dance?

Max: Oh, yes. I was a very good dancer.

Lulu: He's had to slow down because of me.

Max: Yes. I have a sick wife. We used to go everywhere to dances. Then the Model A's started to come in and we bought one.

Gloria: Did many people have Model A's?

Max: No, Not very many. Very few. Before cars came in, we drove surries.

Gloria: When the wagons or surries broke down, who would fix them?

Max: There were blacksmiths. They would fix the wheels. Mr. Nicos Quintana was the blacksmith here in Gardner. Then there was another blacksmith - what was the name of those people who lived where Junior Aguirre lives? What was the name of the little old man? There was a flour mill there, where they milled flour too. What is the name of that woman you know in Walsen?

Lulu: Gee, I don't know Max.

Gloria: Gonzales?

Max: Gonzales. That's where he lived, and they also had a mill, where they milled flour. We used to take corn too.

Gloria: But I think it was much later when you used to go to La Veta.

Max: Yes. It was long before that...

Lulu: No, it was later.

Max: It was later because the first mill was built in La Veta.

Gloria: What kind of law was in this area in your father's time?

Max: Well, I don't think they had any law. Oh, I don't know.

Lulu: Yeah. My grandpa was the law. Grandpa Wilkins was the law.

Max: Over here?

Lulu: Yes. He was a big dude here.

Gloria: Where did he live?

Lulu: Where did he live? He came from Canada and married my grandmother here. They lived here until he passed away. He was Canadian French. He came from France. My grandpa was...

Max: Perhaps he was. I don't remember him.

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Gloria: Where was his place?

Lulu: They lived down in Badito. Exactly where, I do not know. They lived down there for quite sometime. And then they moved up in through this area. And they lived up here by my folks until my grandpa passed away, and then my grandmother stayed here until she was quite old. She was in her nineties, about ninety-eight years old. And then she went with her daughter in Walsenburg and she passed away over there.

Gloria: And your grandpa was the law officer?

Lulu: Yeah. My grandpa Wilkins was the law officer.

Gloria: For the county in this area?

Lulu: For the county in this area right here.

Gloria: How long was he a law officer?

Lulu: He died in 1902. So it had to have been way back when.

Max: Way back when. When I was born. That's why I don't remember. I don't remember any laws. They used to put me as guard at the dances to keep order. I used to do this at nearly all the dances.

Gloria: Were there many fight?

Max: Yes there were many fights.

Gloria: The people enjoyed fighting as much as dancing, didn't they?

Lulu: He never got into any fights, but he pacified them.

Max: Oh, I never let them fight in the hall. They fought outside. They bled and...

Lulu: They respected him very well.

Max: They respected me well.

Lulu: He was called the bouncer in the dances.

Max: I think your father still remembers it.

Gloria: You used to keep watch at the dances?

Max: I used to keep watch at the dances

Gloria: Didn't you know how to dance then?

Max: I knew how.

Lulu: Oh yeah.

Gloria: Watching the dance with one eye?

Max: I watched the dances, and still danced all night.

Gloria to Lulu: From what family do you come?

Lulu: Me? Sandoval. My father was Sandoval and my mother was Wilkins.

Gloria: Grandfather, a French Canadian married a ...

Lulu: My grandmother Lenor Trujillo.

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Gloria: Where did he meet her?

Lulu: Here. He met her here in Badito.

Max: They still have the place here. There where La Paloma is.

Lulu: the church. Right by the church. That was our place. That was my father's place. Below the church. It belongs to my sister-in-law now -Scholie. But that was Papa's place.

Max: Yes. That's where all of them were born.

Lulu: No, we weren't all born there, Max.

Max: Not all, but I mean...

Lulu: We had a place before that. What's the Zurich place now, up the hill?

Max: Up on the hill.

Lulu: You know where the spring that comes into...

Max: Oh yeah, yeah!

Lulu: Well, that's where papa and mama lived. That was their place. I was born there. The greatest part of the family was born there.

Max: To the right of the church by the riverlet the family had a homestead. I think it was a homestead.

Lulu: I don't think it was a homestead. Papa never homesteaded.

Gloria: A French Canadian married a Mexican. Is that how you go by?

Lulu: Spanish. My grandmother was Spanish. She was Lenore Trujillo. Her father was Trujillo. I can't remember what her mother's name was. The last name I mean. I can't remember. I should know it. I've got it.

Gloria: Do you know if there were a lot of French Canadians that came or was he the only one?

Lulu: He was the only one that I know of. There may have been others, but I wouldn't know.

Gloria: What kind of work was he in?

Lulu: He was in the Spanish-American war. He was a soldier in the Spanish-American war. My grandpa. Then after he married my grandmother, he just stayed around here and farmed, as near as I know. We don't know too much about my grandfather because he came and he lived so long and then he passed away. And, of course, no one bothered to take any history. What we know we know from the people that knew him. He died quite early. They were coming from Walsenburg, he and my grandmother below Johnny's place here, he had a heart attack and passed away right here.

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Gloria: Didn't you mention the name of Ames?

Max: Yes.

Gloria: That isn't a Mexican name, is it?

Max: No Ames' father ... there was Maclovia, Simodosea, Alejandro and Gaspar Ames. And these children were born to my aunt Donaciana. She was married to Charlie Ames. He was an American.

Gloria: Where did he come from?

Lulu: I don't know, but after him she married my uncle Ramon Trujillo and had a different family.

Gloria: I am interested in the name of Ames because some Mexicans married soldiers from Fort Garland.

Lulu: Well, I don't know if uncle Charles was a soldier or not. You know. My aunt never did tell me that, I never knew that.

Gloria: What kind of work did he do?

Lulu: As far as I knew, he farmed.

Max: They were all farmers here. Everyone who came here took up a little piece of land, planted and harvested everything. In those days there was a lot of water, and people didn't fight over water as ....

Gloria: Water rights were registered weren't they?

Max: They were registered. And some people got good water rights, but others applied too late for rights.

Lulu: But in those days it didn't really make any difference because people shared so much. That's the trouble I think now.

Max: Yeah, and that's the trouble now. Nobody helps one another.

Lulu: People don't know how to share.

Max: People don't help each other with anything.

Gloria: Did your father get good rights?

Max: No. He didn't have good rights. He took his out too late also. He had good rights for one ditch, but not for the other.

Gloria: Who around here had the best rights?

Max: Well the one who has the best rights are the Willburns, Tony Pando who lives up above. Then Bucci. Then the others on this ditch. Mano Kino. Thus less and less as they registered too late.

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Gloria: What is this ditch called?

Max: This ditch is called Yule.

Gloria: I wonder where they got that name from?

Lulu: Funny, no?

Max: It's called Yule Ditch.

Lulu: And the other is the Apodaca. And the other is the Castro. The Castro down there.

Max: Yeah, the Castro ditch.

Gloria: Didn't they fight now and then over the use of the water up above?

Max: Yes. They even killed a man there at Pass Creek for the water.

Gloria: They didn't have anything like that here?

Max: No. People didn't fight much over it.

Lulu: They did fight, but they didn't kill each other.

Max: Well, they did fight, but only verbally.

Lulu: They didn't quite kill themselves. They just talked to each other.

Max: Here they never fought each other with their shovels as they did, there. Here they fought each other with words and then made up.

Lulu: They were all compadres, you know. And compadres used to respect each other. It's too bad that has gone out because compadres had a lot of respect for each other.

Max: Oh, yes. People had a lot of respect for each other.

Lulu: A lot of respect for each other.

Max: And friends were friends because they kept their word. And they respected each other the same.

Lulu: I speak for this area here. I don't know about the others, but people had a lot of respect for each other. It didn't matter if they weren't any more... if the relationship had already gone. They still called themselves primos (male cousins) and primas, tios and tias (aunts and uncles). Compadres. And there was a lot of respect. These people wouldn't think of insulting a compadre. They wouldn't think of that. Once they were compadre, that was it.

Max: Oh yes. The people respected each other.

Lulu: And I think it is a pity that that has gone out. Because now, even close relatives, they will not acknowledge each other. They don't want to. They want to be on their own, so

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Lulu: (cont.)so what the heck, you know. But I think there was a lot of respect in those days. When people died they all got together and had their wake.

Gloria: What is a wake called?

Max: Velorio, isn't it?

Lulu: Yeah. The wakes are velorios.

Max: They sang alabados ( hymns)

Gloria: They had the corpse in the home, didn't they?

Max: They had the wake at home. They didn't take the corpse to the mortuary.

Gloria: Did they sing alabados one night?

Max: All night long. Four nights if the family lived far, you see and they couldn't come in two or three days. They would keep them that long and would have the wake two nights.

Lulu: And people went. And they stayed all night. And those alabados are really prayers, if you have ever heard them. They are prayers and they are beautiful prayers.

Gloria: Did all the neighbors sing these alabados, or only a few?

Max: The men from the Penitente chapel (or the Penitente brothers) had these alabados written down in books. Others who knew how to write would copy them. They would sing these at the wake.

Lulu: Generally two people two men got together and they sang one alabado. Then somebody else would come. Two more men would come in with another alabado. And in between they prayed for the repose of the soul that was there. Then at midnight, twelve o'clock, they prayed the rosary. After the rosary, they gave supper at midnight. Then the wake would continue until the early morning hours. During the day people came and went, came and went, whichever it was. Some stayed and some didn't. But at night everybody went again. I remember that.

Gloria: What was it like a social gathering too? Not only to honor the person who had died, but kind of gathering of the people?

Max: Oh, yes. Like that.

Lulu: You would be surprised. They would have the body in that room and they would have benches all around, chairs, whatever. And the people would sit all around. It was quiet in there. All you heard was those men singing.

Max: And all the people responded.

Max & Lulu Valdez Page 17

Lulu: But the people didn't visit in there. If they wanted to visit, they would go into the kitchen, or one of the ante rooms, and sit there and just visit with each other.

Max: Or they would go outdoors.

Lulu: You know these older ladies smoked. And they would go in there to have their cigarettes and to visit with someone. And then come back in and all was quiet. But in that room where the body was, there was no visiting.

Gloria: When did they stop doing that?

Lulu: You know, not too long ago, Gloria. Because I still remember and I had been away for years, and I came back and they still had the wakes. So I would say...

Max: When they began to have funeral parlors, they took them there because a law was passed that they must take them there.

Lulu: They had to be embalmed. But it was late already because I remember they still had them about 1924, somewhere around that time. I was still in Kansas at that time and they still had them then.

Max: People also used to come to the wakes on horseback, they lived far, to Redwing, Farisita and Badito.

Lulu: It isn't so long ago the Requildas husband died and we went to that wake. The wake was up there

Max: At Pass Creek, you know where the Gallegos lived.

Gloria: Oh, yes, They had the wake there, did they?

Lulu: No. No. I take that back. It was Requilda's first husband. Jose Garcia. He's the one. And that after we were married. They lit candles around the coffin of the person.

Gloria: Who made the coffin?

Lulu: My brother-in-law was a good coffin maker, Mike Perrino. He used to make coffins for everybody around here when they died. And they lined them with sheets. I can remember cause I lived with them. They lined them with sheets and they put a pillow in there. Then put the body in there.

Gloria: What kind of wood did he use? Did he always have lumber on hand?

Max & Lulu Valdez Page 18

Lulu: What kind of lumber did he use? Boards?

Max: Well yeah, boards. From the saw mill.

Lulu: From the mill, I guess.

Max: If the wood was dry he would plane it with a hand planer. He made beautiful coffins.

Lulu: Oh, yes. And they made the coffins because my brother-in-law used to make them around here. Isn't that strange?

Max: Yes Mike Perrino made the coffins. He made many.

Lulu: Then they would light the candles that they wouldn't burn down. They'd replace them when they did, and like that. There was never a fire. Never. With all those candles. There were a lot of candles then. You could buy a lot of candles. Everybody had candles. And imagine those candles had to last all day, all night, and if they kept the body two or three nights, they lasted that long. So they'd buy boxes of candles.

Max: And they were very cheap, not like now.

Gloria: Now let's talk about the games or the sport that the people had.

Lulu: El Caņute. (literally the baton) there were 4 batons, el uno, el dos, el mulato & el cinshado)

Max: They play el caņute.

Gloria: How was el caņute played?

Max: People would get together to play el caņute and how did they say it?

Lulu: El chinchado, they would call one. El mulato. I don't know the names of the others.

Max: There were four batons. And the four batons had....

Lulu: What did they make those caņute from?

Max: It was made out of a green tree branch. And they would put a little nail inside.

Lulu: They hid the nail in there.

Max: The people sang all night as they played.

Lulu: They would bury them in big piles of sand.

Max: They would put a pile of sand on a corner.

Gloria: Inside the house.

Max: Yes inside the house. And they would hide the batons. One was called el cinchado, another el mulato and so on. I don't remember the others what they were called, but there were four. And they sang. One side would sing and then the other.

Max & Lulu Valdez Page 19

Lulu: They'd choose sides.

Max: And then the other side would sing. When they got tired of playing the people would go home at two or three in the morning.

Gloria: Why did they put the baton in the sand?

Max: So they wouldn't see the stripes. Each caņute was marked with a certain number of stripes made on the bark with a hot nail.

Gloria: Well, what was the object of the game, do you know?

Lulu: Just have fun, just have fun.

Max: They even would bet one another, just as they do for a ball game.

Lulu: Like card players.

Gloria: What, did they have to find inside the batons?

Max: Yes they had to find something.

Lulu: Oh, yes. They had to see in which one of those caņutes the nail would be hidden. And men and women played it.

Max: This side would win, you see.

Gloria: When they sang to each other they gave each other clues?

Lulu: Clues. Oh, huh. They sang each other clues I remember one little verse that I heard. They sing: Ha-lla-lo, ha-lla-lo halla-le, caņuto. Then they had other verses. Oh, they had so many verses.

Max: They repeated many verses. They did the same when they danced the dance with a broom. They would recite verses one to another. They would seat the dancer and recite a verse to him. Then they would continue and would take a few turns.

Lulu: Was that what they called a chiquiado?

Max: El Chiquiado. Then the dancers would take a few turns, and the woman would seat her partner and she would recite a verse to him too.

Gloria: The woman to the man?

Max: The woman to the man, and the man to the woman.

Lulu: Sometimes they would get a little insulting, you know, in the verses; especially if the girl didn't like the boy.

Max & Lulu Valdez Page 20

Gloria: What other games did they have?

Max: Well, we would play ball to divert ourselves on Sundays.

Gloria: Baseball?

Max: Baseball.

Lulu: I don't think there were any card games. Oh, people would play casino and stuff like that but...

Max: There was another game called El Chueco. A group from one place played against a group from another place. They played it with a bent stick. They would strike the ball like they do on horseback today.

Gloria: Polo?

Max: Polo. Yeah. Like that. But then they p1ayed it on foot. They would play it from one site to another. They would begin at Mano Pino's house, and if these won, the ball would go to them. And if the ball came this way, the ball was theirs.

Gloria: How big a ball was it?

Max: Not very big.

Gloria: Was it a wooden ball?

Max: Like a baseball.

Gloria: Did they stop that game because people would get into a fight?

Max: People would get into a fight. Those who didn't win fought the others.

Max: People amused themselves with dances and games in the daytime. At night with el caņute when there was snow.

Lulu: I don't know if they served lunches in those caņute games.

Max: They must have eaten around one or three o'clock in the morning when they were all very tired.

Lulu: These seemed like older people playing that, you know.

Max: I used to go with your brother to play caņute at the Reales' home.

Lulu: Oh, yes. That was a big house. I understand for caņute. Ramon Real, you know.

Gloria: Where was that?

Max: There on Williams Creek. There where there is that corral of the Bar H. A little further up. They used to play here at Maes Creek too.

Gloria: Did they have horse races too?

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Max: Yes, but on Saint James and Saint Ann's Days in Gardner.

Lulu: The 25th and 26th of July.

Max; There were also dances.

Gloria: Did they have celebrations here that they didn't have other places?

Max: Yes. Saint James Day.

Lulu: Yes, they also had that in Gardner.

Max: And they also had it here. If they didn't have the celebration in Gardner, they would have it here. But they always celebrated the 25th and 26th of July. Always. They had items for sale, you know. A dance mostly. Not horse races here. That only in Gardner. Here it was only a dance at night and in the afternoon. And that was it. Sell stuff.

Max: They sold watermellon, candy and soda. And they danced all day and all night.

Lulu: Didn't get tired then. Once they went to the dance, they never went home.

Max: They didn't go. It used to rain a lot then, you know. And they were afraid to go out. One time they couldn't cross the river because the water was so high that even the horses couldn't go across. Especially bad when they were riding a buggy, you see. It rained a lot and it was very difficult to cross this river. One time mother was driving the buggy and I was on horseback. There in the river the singletree broke. The mud was very sticky and the singletree broke when the horse pulled hard. So I had to tie the buggy to the saddle and pull it out. Yes, the buggy was in the river and the girls were in the buggy.

Gloria: Where did they go to church?

Max; Well there was a church here in El Rito. It was located on the Zorich ranch on the other side of the river.

Gloria: Is it there now?

Max: No they moved it here and built this little one here.

Gloria: Why did they move it?

Lulu: They exchanged pieces of land, see. Mrs. Zorich was more interested in that piece of land over there where the old churoh was. It somehow went better with her pasture, than this on top of the hill. On top of the hill was nothing there for her so they changed the lots. And that's how this church came to be built here. My brother built this church.

Max & Lulu Valdez Page 22

Gloria: What was your brother's name?

Lulu: Phillip Sandoval.

Gloria: Who were some of the priests who came to this church?

Lulu: Father Gabriel, Father Jose, Father Trusell.

Max: Father Trusell, Father Terez. Oh, all these priests.

Gloria: Didn't the priests ever live here?

Lulu: Father Trusell did. Father Belloni. Not here, no in Gardner not here in this area. Just Gardner.

Gloria: Did they come every Sunday, or every other Sunday or what?

Max: Even on week days did they say mass, you know. No, only on Sundays.

Lulu: Father Trusell came pretty often, but the rest didn't come too often because generally everybody went to Gardner.

Gloria: Was this the only church here?

Max: Yes. There was only that church here.

Lulu: You mean Catholic.

Gloria: Well, were there others around here?

Lulu: No, no. The Protestants did have ceremonies. But they had them in the schools. In the Birmingham School.

Gloria: How did men and women meet when they wanted to marry?

Max: At the dances. There were many dances here.

Gloria: When you got married, did people still ask for the hand of the girl?

Max: Oh, yes, one asked

Lulu: Oh, yeah. In fact, I still have my letter.

Gloria: Oh were you asked for by letter, huh?

Lulu: Yes, and I still have my letter.

Gloria: Like what did it say?

Lulu: You know they were very well worded. I even have ... because Bernice was asked that way too. And I have her letter. And in there, well these people... I don't know if I could remember now just how it's worded, you know. But they say: My son asks for the hand of your beloved daughter for the state of matrimony. As it is, well they want to say like it is presented by or whatever, the Holy Catholic Church and Almighty God. You know they bring a lot of prayer into it. I wish I had known, I

Max & Lulu Valdez Page 23

Lulu: (cont.) would have looked for, it in time. I would have read it to you. Because they are very interesting these letters, and I think there are very few. I don't believe there are many of those.

Gloria: Who would write the letter?

Max: Well, different people.

Lulu: The most intelligent one of the family. Sometimes they went to someone else that they felt was a little bit more intelligent than they were, you know. And they could make the letter for them. And more educated that could use better words, you know, and they would draft the letter. And some went by word of mouth you know, (thus) My son wants the hand of your honorable daughter and just like that, you know.

Gloria: (to Max) Did you ask for her by letter?

Max: Yes.

Lulu; He didn't have the nerve any other way.

Max: Yeah. I didn't have the nerve.

Gloria: Who went. Did you go and take it?

Lulu: Yeah. He had the nerve to go, you know. Generally the boy (novio) friend didn't go. But there was nobody else to drive the car so he went.

Max: Yes, I had to take mother.

Lulu: But he stayed outside in the car, that was a funny car.

Gloria: Oh you did? And your mother went in with the letter?

Max: Yes. She was in charge. Oh, very different from today.

Lulu: Some of them had two days of celebration. (Prendorio) Engagement ceremony and the wedding. But they were nice. I think weddings then were real nice. And, I don't know, there were no problems. People, they passed the day so well. And there was so much. You know, they had what they called the banquete, what they called the banquet table. What they called the banquet table. They had cookies, candy...

Max: Whiskey, wine.

Lulu; Well, yeah. But you didn't see the people drunk. Oh, yes you might have seen some at some of the weddings. But I know we went to many around here, and I didn't see any problems. And always raisins at the table. You know raisins, they had raisins in Canaan when Jesus and Mary were invited. Raisins.

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Lulu: (cont) You know they made wine out of raisins. So always there were bowls of raisins on that banquet table.

Gloria: Who chanted the entriega (the ceremony of delivering the newly weds to their parents).

Lulu: The one that knew it sang it. I think it's nice. It's coming back. That's one tradition that's coming back.

Max: Oh, yes, there were many good singers. Her father was a good singer.

Lulu: My father played the fiddle. He used to compose verses on the spur of the moment.

Max: And (the deceased) Santos was her uncle also was a good singer. And he was blind, but composed pretty songs. She has some songs. She was singing one of them today.

Lulu: The one he composed for my grandpa Wilkins when my grandpa died. He composed his song. I was showing it to him, Max, a while ago, and singing it to him. He hadn't heard it. I've had it.

Gloria: You must have a lot of things.

Lulu: Yeah. I've got a few things like that are, you know.

Gloria: Let's see. A few more questions. What about the Indians? What can you tell me about the Indians?

Max: I can't tell you anything about that, you know, about the Indians, I mean. By the time I was old enough to know, there were no Indians here.

Lulu: There was one lady that lived up here with this Tomasita Vigil that I told you was a midwife. What was her name? She was an Indian captive.

Max: Oh, yes. She was Mrs... What was her name?

Lulu: Margari.. Marinita.

Max: Marinita.

Lulu: What was her last name. She ran by Vigil because she was married to a Vigil afterwards. The Indians stole her and raised her. Then she was able to run away. Now that lady had an interesting story. But, you know, no one got it. And I think it's pitiful and she finally ran away from the Indians and this family here were the mother of the family. The first mother was an Indian woman from Pine Ridge in the Dakota's.

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Max: Wasn't she the mother of the Maeses?

Lulu: No. well, yeah. Of Mrs. Tomasita too. And this lady ran away and they kept her, and she married in the family, and stayed with them until she died. I don't know from what tribe she was nor from where she was stolen. But she was a captive Marinita was her name. That story died with her and with the people that lived with her because no one ever bothered about.. She would tell a lot of interesting stories, I'm told, But it seems that no one took them down or anything. No one was interested.

Gloria: And you mentioned the mother of the Maeses?

Max: The mother of the Maeses also was an Indian. The mother of my compadre, Urban, Alejandro.

Lulu: Now she was a full fledged Indian.

Gloria: What kind of Indian was she?

Lulu: They were from Pine Ridge. They were the Pine Ridge Indians.

Gloria: Who from that family lives around here?

Lulu: No one, no one. I don't think anyone is alive in that family. Those that are, I don't know where they are. Wyoming or someplace. If any of the boys... I don't know... and they wouldn't know a thing because they are younger.

Max: The only one who is alive is Sable, but..

Lulu: But he's not in his right mind. Can't get anything out of him.

Gloria: One question that I like a lot, that a lot of people they either think one way or another or something like that. But about witches, Isn't that a part of the culture?

Lulu: In some areas I believe so. And I think you have the biggest part up there. Because.. when I was in school those children would bring me some fabulous stories that I'd never heard. But we had a family up there, she's dead now. And this lady firmly believed in witches. And she would tell the wildest stories about brujas (witches). I don't know where in the world they imagine so much.

Gloria: Well, did the people generally believe in the brujas?

Lulu: Not here, no.

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Max: Many used to say that cats would jump on the saddle when a person was about at night. I used to ride at night all my life and never did a cat jump on my saddle. I don't know, but Frank Rael once left the dance at my cousin Tomas's house, and passed by the place where my compadre Ramon Valdez lived. He says that he saw a buggy on top of my compadre Ramon Valdez's house. And that as he passed by this cat jumped from that buggy onto his horse and it went with him as far as Williams Creek. He couldn't get it off. He would strike it and he tried to push him off the horse, but couldn't.

Gloria: So he thought that it was a witch?

Lulu: I think he was drunk.

Max: Perhaps he was. He was drunk. One can't be sure. But I went about a lot at night and many said that they saw lights. That they saw lights or balls of fire flying about, you see. When they reached a certain place the lights would disappear. One time my brother Julian, the one we were talking about a while ago, said that he saw a light on that little hill when he was coming from home. It was about nine or ten o'clock. He got no further. He didn't want to go further because he was afraid.

Lulu: Like the cemetery is right up here, you know. People used to have... People don't bother about it now anymore.

Max: He was afraid of the light and he stopped and slept there. We used to have a house down here below. And he slept with us that night. He didn't tell us anything about it until he went to water the horses there at the river. I came and took care of them. Then I went to see and didn't see anything. And I never saw anything, although I went about at night. I used to drive the cattle from Bole at twelve o'clock at night. Sick. I never saw anything. No cat ever jumped up on the saddle with me.

Gloria: Who treated sick cows 'and other animals?

Lulu: He (Max) They called him doctor.

Max: I was the cow's doctor. I pulled out the calves many times.

Gloria: Did you use the methods you learned from your father?

Max: No. I learned alone. I was very small when my father died.

Gloria: What do you remember about politicians?

Lulu: The dances. They were the best.

Max: They had dances.

Lulu: They were the best. We used to have some real good rallies.

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Max: Yes. All the candidates used to get together and have dances.

Gloria: Where did they have the dances? Here?

Max: At different places. Sometimes at Maes Creek, and sometimes here, sometimes at my cousin Tomas's house. Wherever they could find a hall.

Lulu: Sometimes in all of them. Sometimes, my gosh, we went to rallies every week.

Max: Yes, Two or three nights in districts like this one.

Lulu: See. Like they'd have one dance here, and one up in the Maes Creek area, and then one up in the Birmingham and one up in the Cisneros, and then in Gardner and Red Wing, and all of those, you know. Wow! All those were nice times.

Gloria: What did they do at those dances. Did they just dance and nothing else?

Max: The candidates would all ask us to vote for them. That was all, but many people would get together at those dances.

Lulu: And the candidates, you know, would bring candy to the people. Cigars to the men.

Max: What about bad people, Outlaws?

Lulu: We never had them.

Max: We never, never had them in our time, I don't think. That was all in the past.

Gloria: What did you hear about it. Did you hear people tell about them, but you can't really know if there were any?

Lulu: No not really. Not around here. I have never heard of anyone at all, uh-uh.

Max: I never knew anything about that.

Lulu: I don't recollect hearing anything like that.

Max: They used to say that there were outlaws in those times.

Gloria: What about the Penitentes?

Max: We have two moradas (houses of worship for the Penitentes).

Gloria: Are you a Penitente?

Max: I was never one

Lulu: His father neither.

Max: My father neither.

Gloria: Who were the important Penitentes from around here?

Max & Lulu Valdez Page 28

Lulu: There are so many names. I really don't know if they would want their names known, you know. I would hesitate about naming anyone in particular about being a Penitente because you don't know if these people... That part it would be hard for anyone to say. They have beautiful ceremonies, I can tell you that.

Max: They had beautiful prayers.

Gloria: Why do you suppose there are Penitentes here and where they used to be they have disappeared?

Lulu: I think that the people have gone away that belonged to that particular -- I don't know what really you would call it.

Max: In some places they no longer exist and or, they move elsewhere.

Lulu: Well they have moved away mostly, and then the people that belonged to them have gone away and the younger people have not cared to join in. I think that's the biggest thing. When these people are out, that's going to be it. Because no one is joining in. See, they have the same ones that they've had for years and years. And that's it. No new ones are coming in. This younger generation is not about to get involved in there.

Max: These young men are not interested in anything like that. They are interested only in cars and the telephone. It's something that is out of their lives completely. No one goes to pray. People don't like that.

Gloria: I have asked you about outlaws, what about heroes or popular people. Who were they?

Lulu: I don't think there was anybody in particular. We've had some boys that I would consider heroes because they gave their lives for their country in the different wars, you know. But as to anyone being really popular, I don't think so. Everybody was just equal here.

Max: They used to have little fights at the dances, but that was all.

Lulu: They didn't hurt anything. Sometimes they'd get a bloody nose, that's about all. Hurt feeling. Next day they made up. So it was okay.

Gloria: Did many from around here go to fight in the World War II?

Max: Oh, yes.

Gloria: Did many of them die?

Max: No, only Henry Valdez

Lulu: And Monico. And Henry, I don't really know who else. I don't recollect. Oh yeah, Ramon Rael grandson, Elovio. He was killed at Pearl Harbor

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Max: Three boys.

Gloria: Many, weren't they?

Max: Yes, for such a little place.

Gloria: When did the Americans start to come in here?

Lulu: Willburn's have lived here always, I guess, and the Griffiths.

Max: We have had them here always, you know.

Lulu: We've had them always. They were our good neighbors up there where we lived.

Max: Italians and Americans we have always had.

Lulu: We've had them. We've always had them nearest I can recollect. I've known them all my life.

Gloria: And in your parent's time too?

Lulu: Yeah, sure. In fact, they were the ones that helped us when my mama and father died. The Willburns and Griffiths.

Gloria: Where did the Griffiths live?

Lulu: Griffiths lived where the Zorich live now. And that is right next to ours, see.

Gloria: These people, where were they from? Were they Germans or what?

Lulu: No they're Irish, I believe. I wouldn't know for sure, but I think they're Irish, the Willburns and the Griffiths.

Gloria: When did things in this place begin to change?

Lulu: Now, just now. People started selling to strangers and that's been our biggest change here.

Max: About seven or eight years when the hippies started to come in. Or maybe nine years.

Lulu: Yes.

Gloria: What do you think were there any other changes before this?

Lulu: In regard to people, you mean?

Gloria: Yes. Didn't many people move from here and changes occurred?

Lulu: Let's... It was this way, after World War I, and then the change began. Because these boys left, you know. They had gone to many countries. They saw other things and they came back and were not satisfied anymore. And they started to move out.

Gloria: A few started then, huh?

Lulu: Yes. A few started then and World War II came and that's when a bigger change started. They wanted better lives. They wanted better homes. They didn't care for farms anymore. And so they moved out and started looking for better positions.

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Gloria: The economy - the money had a lot to do with it.

Lulu: Oh, sure. And the fact that they had gone out and seen other environments that were more favorable than this.

Gloria: Then the depression had its effect too?

Lulu: Oh, yeah! Oh yes!

Max: A lot.

Lulu: That had quite a bit of an effect. People moved out too. But they had to.

Max: There was no work at all, you see. And the land didn't produce. They had to leave. It was nothing but a Dust Bowl here. There was nothing but dust in the air. We didn't raise anything.

Gloria: Then there were no changes until now?

Max: Yeah. Now.

Lulu: But I think this is one of the biggest changes. People have completely left the area and strangers have come in. That's been a very big change.

Max: Yes. It is very much changed, always different here.

Lulu: You can't go out and say, "I'm going to visit so-and so". You just don't, you know.

Max: No. No. There hardly any people who know each other.

Lulu: And people don't visit. They are too busy in their own business you know. But they don't get out.

Max: They don't visit like they used to. Years ago they would go by buggy and stay overnight. And they would return the next day or that same night.

Lulu: And now with cars there is no time.

Max: In no time one can come and go, and it is finished.

Lulu: There is no time and still you don't do anything. So I don't know what it is. It's very strange.

Gloria: Well then, I'll ask each of you this: If you could give the young people of today advice, what would you say to them?

Max: Well, to do the best they can, because there is no other way today.

Lulu: I would say a little more fear in almighty God. Because I think that's what we lack in our younger generation of today. Some of them, of course, I think go a little overboard in that. But I don't believe that there is enough fear in Almighty God, now a-days.

Max: Now-a-days they don't have ... the families.

Lulu: And respect for older people is another thing I think that I

Max & Lulu Valdez Page 31

Lulu: (cont) would say.

Gloria: Before I forget, there's one thing I know I didn't get on tape, and that's your full name.

Lulu: My full name is Lula Leocadia. You didn't know what my middle name was, did you? And my maiden name was Sandoval.

Gloria: In what year were you married?

Lulu: We got married in 1927.

Gloria: Did you get married here?

Lulu: We got married in Gardner, Father Belloni.

Max: Yes. Father Belloni married us there.

Gloria: How many children did you have?

Lulu: Six, and one passed away in babyhood. So, we raised five children; Bernice Aguirre and Benjamin Valdez, Elenor Garcia, Jimmy Valdez and Georgina Garcia. She was my baby.

Lulu: We just have four now. Georgina passed away.

Max: Yes. four now.

Gloria: Well, thank you, thank you very much.

Lulu: It's been a pleasure

Max: Yeah, it's been a pleasure.

Lulu: Come and see us. Visit us other than this.

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© Karen Mitchell