Huerfano County, Colorado
Oral Interviews
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Eddie Louis Ferraro

Scanned by Dick Chenault
Edited by Whit Bartholomew
Interviewed Rosalyn McCain
Date of interview - 8-30-1979

RM: I'm interviewing Mr. Ferraro. What is your full name?

EF: Eddie Louis Ferraro. I was born in Trinidad, April 11, 1910.

My folks, or my dad came from the old country with his father when he was around 10 years old. They came from the town of Naples and my grandfather was a Tailor by trade. When he came to this country why... And my dad went to work, tending horses and wagons. He would haul sand and gravel. In fact Brick street down there in Trinidad he hauled so many, many of those bricks in building.Then when he got to be a man around 17, 18 years old why he went to work for the CF&I out at Sopris. Not in the mine, however. He was a stable boss. They had around 125 head of mules that he took care of. He was the keeper for the mules. I don't know, I think they became kind of like part of his family. He didn't like nobody abusing his mules. And he had several tussles in the barns about fellows getting a little rough with his mules. All in all it worked out. He was a congenial sort of a fellow. He was finally transferred up to Cameron, in the same capacity. He worked quite a number of years in Cameron in the barn taking care of the mules. And finally they done away with the mules after they got the other type of mining going. And he went into the mine then, running pumps. There was a considerable amount of water in the mine all the time. He had to go in the off hours when the other fellows weren't In there. Well, I think Shot… was in there. They were the fellows that blasted coal then. He run those pumps for lots of years. Be hard to say really, the exact years, say 10, 15, 20. Then around 1922, they bought a ranch up at La Veta and then we moved to La Veta up there for quite a number of years. In fact he had that until 1955. Then he came back to Walsenburg, and that's when he retired. But I remember so many of the early days, guess because of the coal mines that was in this areas Toltec, Pictou, Tioga, Big Four, and of courses South of here, going toward Trinidad and Aguilar, there was all those mines. And in those days baseball was big. Everybody was interested and all these mines had teams. They had these fellows come in that were or had been professionals or near professionals and they played baseball. In the weekends they had all these games. Everybody would gather and go to those things. There's so many people that are tied into that. In fact, Babe Shosky, you know was one of the oldest members of it.

But all in all, in the earlier days this was a lively community being that all the people were all mixed origin or nationality and they all got along together. There was no automobiles, and there was no televisions and each neighbor was aware of his other neighbors problems and his troubles and he was interested in them. Any time of the day or nights he could have help from anybody. There wasn't much money floating around, so consequently nobody was “high browing” anybody else. But it was a good life. It was a way of life that is totally different from the life that exists today. Mainly because of the shortage of cash. Nobody was lording it over anybody else. Nobody had the big car and one guy had the little car so consequently people had a better feeling for each other. At least it seems they had a better feeling for each other. And then the next things that enters my mind on the thing was the fact that they began to have trouble with the mines and they had the IWW organization come in and they was actually the first trouble that I had seen in my time. And they tried to work in the mine, organize the mine to unionize them. That was around 1921 or 1922.

RM: Who was the IWW's?

EF: It was the International Workers' World, they called themselves and they came in and they were kind of rough. In those days we didn't realize how poorly the coal miner was being treated for the amount of work they were doing. They were trying to organize them, but at that time the idea of organizing anything was to pound and beat them and things like that, to shove and push, and it got out of control. It really got out of control. And so, course the next thing that happened, they started to send in the state militia, and I can remember them butting people in the company stores and they put barb wire fence around and those big search light on the things. But it didn't last too long fortunately and from then on things began to move forward and became more and more organized. It hadn't been very many years 'til we walked off into a real depression with drought. In 1931 - 32 things became really tough then. It was terrifically hard to make ends meet and people were scrounging everywhere. I remember after we moved up to the ranch my dad still commuted back and forth to Cameron and worked up there but we had the ranch in conjunction with it. And they were digging wells and silos and things like that to put the crops away and things like that. Dad always had a bunch of coal miners coming up there to work on their days off. Some days they'd work one day a week, two days a week, three days a week. We had a few calves and cows, and hogs and they'd come up there and my goodness you ought to see how they'd work for a hog. There'd be about 4 of them that would come and work and they'd butcher a hog right there. Then each one would take a quarter of a hog and that was their pay, because there was no money to give. So to make your livelihood in those days it took a lot of organizing. It isn't like it is now. The government subsidies slips in to give you a boost. Then along with the drought and the shortage of moisture through the winters it got pretty bad. I remember in 1931, maybe 32, in the fall or winters they were driving cattle out of Kansas. I think it was the biggest cattle herd I had ever saw in my life come through here. Around 1,500 or 2,000 head of cattle came through. Those cattle had been subsisting on Russian thistles from Kansas. They were pushing them here and they were going into the San Luis Valley. And they stayed on part of our place when they were going over, and watered at a couple of the wells that were in the area. But those things have all moved out now until we see a totally different thing in our existence. In fact in every way we do, it is totally different now and while sometimes you always say, “Oh, for the good old days.” But I believe, and I have always believed, that the good old days is just because we were younger then, and we are older now. That's why they were such good days. But the young people today, I'm sure they are having the best days. But all in all I've kept pace with this. Me and my family, we've enjoyed living. We've voted regularly, paid our taxes regularly, and been part of the community, such as we could. But ever contributing any great thing, no. As a stand out, to this community, I don't think we could ever do that except that we have been good citizens.

RM: What was your occupation?

EF: For four years I was in the Army. When I came back from the army I went back to the ranch, and after I left the ranch we came here into Walsenburg and we took over the Laundry. My brother already had it, and I went to work for him in the Laundry. We stayed in the Laundry for quite a number of years. Then my brother bought the Trinidad Laundry and Dry Cleaning Plant, and the one in Raton, too. So we got larger and larger all the time. My part, my contribution, was to go back and forth to Trinidad, take care of the local trade that was being moved to Trinidad so they put everything into one bunch. The idea was so it could be handled a little easier, have one simple point and one job for everything. We had quite a number of employees about 25. Then after that, we took over a Dry Cleaning Plant over here in Walsenburg. We didn't run that too long. Didn't work out so good. So Rose and I bought out. Shortly after that she went to the school systems, in the cafeteria. So consequently she's been mixed in with the schools pretty good. She really enjoys that work. I guess that would be all that I can contribute that might be of any interest to you.

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