Huerfano County, Colorado
Oral Interviews
NOTICE All data and photos on this website are Copyrighted by Karen Mitchell. Duplication of this data or photos is strictly forbidden without legal written permission by the Copyright holder.
Bessie Micek Eccher

Scanned by Dick Chenault
Edited by Sherry Cook
Interviewed by Sandra Cason
Date of interview 1-16-1980

Bessie Micek Eccher
Date of birth - 11-5-1905
Parents - Valentine Micek and Josephine Mensik
Maternal grandmother's surname - Kitchmer
Ethnic Group - Yugoslavian
Family origin - Moravia, Czechoslavakia
Date of family arrival in county - 1906
Location of first family settlement - Toltec
Profession - Eccher's Clothing store

SC: What is your name?

BE: My name right now is Bessie Eccher. My maiden name was Bessie Micek.

SC: Where and when were born?

BE: I was born in Czechoslovakia on November 26, 1905. Long time ago.

SC: What town in Czechoslovakia?

BE: Well, I hardly can tell you the town…but it would be just like, now say if I was going to say the county, it was in Moravia, Czechoslovakia. And my father and mother both came from that part of the country. I think my father came, let's see, if my mother was in Walsenburg, he was in Pueblo. There was already a little difference in the language in parts of the country, but that part of the country they came from was all coal mining country.

SC: What year did your family come to this country?

BE: Well, my father came about 6 months before my mother. I think he came in the early part of 1906 and about 6 months later he sent for my mother and there were three of us kids, my oldest brother Richard and another brother Bob and myself. I was just 1 year old. In fact, my first birthday was on the Atlantic Ocean. So, at that time, it took exactly 22 days, my mother said, to make that trip. And instead of them…they left Hamburg, Germany. After they left their country they had to go to Hamburg, Germany, to get on a boat. And they could have gotten off in New York but it would have cost them more by land from New York to Colorado because my father was already in Colorado. So they went around by boat to Galveston, Texas. And we got off there and we came to Colorado. And at the same time, while we were on the train from Galveston, the train wrecked during the night and after my poor mother had already been sick, she said, nearly the whole time on she was on the boat, and she had two boys that were about 7 and 5 and they were like the Katzenjammer Kids, you couldn't haul them down for anything, so she said when they wrecked on this trip from Galveston here it must have been on an open plain and it happened at night, she said nobody got hurt but the cars went off the tracks. They unloaded all the people from the cars. So, she said, we were out there on the prairie, her and three kids, and of course the rest of the people, and we were waiting to be picked up by the next train. And one thing that she brought from Europe that we always had was feather beds. We didn't have, the country my mother and father come from was a pretty cold country and they didn't have many blankets. The had sheets but their covers were all feather beds. And their feather beds are made from pure geese feathers. And back there my mother said nearly everybody raised a few geese. And they knew how to take the feathers. The geese would produce crops of feathers. There were times of the year when you could take so many feathers off that goose. And then you had to know what feathers to take because if you took the wrong feathers when their wings and so on. Anyway, everything they had, talk about goose down and feather beds and pillows…, and the feather beds were used for covers and they even had feather beds that they even slept in. So, she had to bring her featherbeds with her, and her pillows, and her kids. She said she didn't care if she left anything else back there. I remember she said here we were sitting on the prairie at midnight in a strange country, thousands of miles away from home, not knowing where you are going to, three little kids and my featherbeds, (Laughter) That is a laugh, isn't it?

SC: It is.

BE: Ok. Then they were picked up by the next train and we came here to Colorado. We came to Walsenburg, to the depot, and my dad, he had a little house he had lived in that was in Toltec, that's out here, you know where Toltec is? And, of course, he came to the depot, him and some friends and I don't know…I was just a year old…but my mother said he picked 'em up, I think they had a horse and buggy, and they took them to Toltec and so my dad opened the door and let us in and my mother seen this batch and she started cryin'. She wanted to go back. Immediately! She said “Just take me back, let me go back, do I have to live in this shack?” She said the stove had bricks underneath it holding it up; water was outside someplace, I don't know where. Toilet was outside. You know there wasn't any modern conveniences in them days. So my dad worked in the mine there at Toltec there for a while. Then he got a job at Walsen mine. I don't know why. I guess he had a chance to live in a better house. So he worked there for awhile and then from there he moved to a coal mining camp by the name of Ideal. That was about 7 or 8 miles south of Walsenburg.

BE: And when he was living in Walsen camp my mother had a couple of kids. She already had three that she brought. She had Frank and Agnes, they were born in Walsen camp. Then, we moved to Ideal and then she had two more. She had Mary and Albert. Then we moved from there…we stayed in Ideal camp 'till 1913. And then they had the big coal strike. Anyone that lived in the camp if they wanted to live in a little bit better house why you had to share that house with boarders that were there from different countries. Men alone that didn't have families and some of them weren't even married. Some of there were from Europe still waiting to make money to send for their families. So here she had this four room house, she already had 7 kids and she had to share that house with some boarders. And I think she, already at that time, about 7. So, then outside they built a tent and they boarded it all in all around, and they used that for a shanty to wash in. When they came from the mines, they had a little old fashioned coal heater and there was a boiler of water on it and they'd heat that water and wash in the shanty and she also done all her washing in the shanty, of course there was no washing machines and no conveniences at all. No refrigeration. I don't know how people lived but they lived.

BE: So we lived in Ideal till 1913 and then we had a big coal mining strike and my dad refused to go back in the mine work for a dollar and a half a day. With a big family like he had, he said, “I can't make any less then I'm making so I'm getting out.” He had no money to buy any land with, so he homesteaded. He applied for 160 acres. But, before the strike came on, he had already been up…He had a horse and buggy. That was one of his delights. After work he would take the kids for a ride in that buggy and he had a long legged filly. She'd take us all over. Anyway, he went out in the country exploring and finding a piece of land and so he found this spot that he wanted and he went through the court house and it was a homestead of 160 acres. He thought that if you had 160 acres in America you were going to be a rich man. Cause he said in Europe if you only had your back yard you could raise enough food to supply your family all winter. He said back there in the back yard they would plant potatoes and they would make a cellar and they would put the potatoes in the cellar and they had enough potatoes for the family, and cabbage and different things. Where here on 160 acres in Colorado on dry land, you'd starve to death. But he had help to build a little two room house on the place and when the strike came out why we had to move. So my mother had been milking cows, she had boarders, all of us kids working from the day we was big enough to carry a little bucket. My brother would deliver milk around the camp in the dark before they went to school. My mother had these boarders and a big family. They had to get up early to be in the mine. She had to pack their lunches the night before and when they came from work she had to have supper for 7 or 8 boarders and 7 or 8 kids. So you know she had plenty to do.

BE: So why then my dad homesteaded and so we left the camp. We took our cows and whatever we had. And my mother cried. Cause she said, “I know it's gonna be harder living there where there's nothing than it is right here where we are, where we have to work hard but we are eating good and we are pretty comfortable.” So we left. We went on the farm. When we got there the house wasn't finished so we slept in a tent, couple of tents. And I will never forget. My mother had a baby. We moved in May and her last baby was born in March. So he was only three months old. The stove was sitting outside. She was cooking outside in May and that was cold. And the wind would come along and blow the lids off the pots and fill your beans or whatever you were making with dirt. But that was just for a little while. Then they moved inside. Then she got sick, with a three month old baby. She had to have a breast, not removed, but opened because she caught cold and she was nursing the baby. So she had this caked breast so she had to…So my father took her to Rouse, that's another mining camp, and a doctor there took care of her. So she was down there for a couple of weeks with a new baby, but at first, she didn't take the baby because she was sick. So my father took her down there and then he came back and took care of us kids. And my oldest brother had to do the cooking, milking the cows. We had chickens and we had two pigs. We had to pull water out of a well on a rope. So the water in that well wasn't the best so then we had to hook up horses on a wagon and go around the hill on the other man's land to get around to the well that we had and haul water to the house. We used to take our washing down there after mother came home. Instead of hauling water for the washing we'd take all our clothes down by the well, build a fire, heat the water and do the washing out there and dry our clothes on the side of the hill. Take them in.

BE: So, ok, we were on the homestead and my father, in order to get that piece of land, after 5 years you had a chance to prove up on it. Then you could claim the land. But, in order to prove up on a homestead, in them days, you had to be able to speak English and do a little bit of school work and learn all the laws of the United States before he could prove up on his homestead. So, poor guy, he studied at night with us kids at the table. And our school was like three miles from home and we went to the old Katz school that was a mile south of Rogers Cemetery. And we walked…if you think from here to Toltec or even up on the hill there…that's about as far as we walked to school. That's a long ways for a little kid.

BE: So, after he studied…and I was just, let's see. I was 8 years old when we moved on the homestead and I was about 12 years old. I remember when he was studying so he could prove up on this piece of land. So he did. He came to town a few times and I don't remember who the lawyer was, but he helped him quite a bit and one of the judges there. So then after quite a bit, give him instructions, told him what he had to learn. So, he made the grade and passed and proved up on the homestead.

BE: Well, we lived there for 7 years and then it was too crowded and the kids getting bigger. My dad bought a piece of land below down there. This belonged to George Reed, another family in the area. We bought 160 acres down there. And so we moved from the old homestead down there. Most of the kids in the family had a chance to make an eighth grade education. But never go to high school because there was no busing and the folks had no money, there was no way for them to make more money than just to keep himself or maybe shoes and a few clothes. So, most of the family just had an eighth grade education.

BE: Myself, I had a bad case of diphtheria when I was 16 years old. About three days later my little brother got it. We called the doctor and the doctor came and we went to the camp. The even took me down there and got medicine and everything. Seemed like nothing helped. The doctor didn't even know it was diphtheria until my little brother died. Three days after he got it he died. So, then right away, they began to open their eyes and they came and quarantined us all in and gave all the kids inoculations, shots, but they didn't with me because I already had the sickness. So it was no use. I nearly died with that. I was very, very sick with it.

BE: About that time most of the kids was getting bigger and they went out to get jobs, started working here and there. Nobody was making any money. I remember when my brother worked for Arnold's ranch, helping milk cows and taking care of their sheep and he was getting $8 a month. Today people would never believe it if you told it to them. I worked at a boarding house for Mrs. O'Hagen, in Ideal Camp when I was only 15. I would get up in the morning at 4:30 when they called me. I'd get washed and get my clothes on and come out in the kitchen. She already had a big table about as long as my dining room loaded with biscuits. Her and her husband must have got up at 3 o'clock. They had 52 men to feed,, so they were busy. I got up at 4:30. I helped them with the breakfast. Rushed in the dining room there and poured out everything. We fed the men and the men grabbed their dinner buckets and they went to the mines. After they got through we ate breakfast. They we cleaned the tables and we went upstairs and we cleaned and there was 20 rooms in them boarding houses. We changed beds, cleaned rooms. I had the job of cleaning the men's bathroom which had about 6 or 8 washbowls and toilets and was a mess from one end to the other by the time that many people got through in there. And when we got through upstairs we come down and prepared lunch for only about 15, that worked outside. They were tipple men and pit bosses and one thing and another that stayed there at the boarding house so they came home to eat. So the noon meal wasn't big. Then we cleaned that all up and we had about an hour and a half we could take a break and get cleaned up for the evening. So about 3 o'clock or 3:30 the men started coming in from the mines. And I began to wash the lunch buckets. And I washed a whole bunch of them, like about 40. Got them all scrubbed up and turned over upside down and wiped out and cleaned and then I helped them with the supper. Than after supper we did all the dishes and after the dishes were done we cleaned the dining room and set it up for the morning and after that was done we packed the lunch buckets and we worked till 9 o'clock and I was making one dollar a day. That was the times that people had, you know. And why should I talk about it? You wouldn't believe it.

BE: so, that's the way it was. And we had a long way to go to school. We went over mountains. Didn't have a very easy way. We rode horses. Sometimes you couldn't catch a horse. Then you'd walk. And maybe you'd get to school late. And when we got home from school we had chores to do. Not like today. Kids have it made, I'll tell you!

BE: I don't know what else to tell you.

SC: Where was your homestead?

BE: It was in the Santa Clara region. Below the East Peak. It was there close to Harry Capps' home. The school we went to was on Capps' land. At that time, Samuel Capps, the old man, that was Harry's father, he was the county superintendent of schools. He used to come about once a month to visit the school. And we didn't have winter school, we had summer school which you don't have here. We had summer school, starting in April. Let's see, April, May, June, July, August, and September. Just 6 months of school and it ended in September. So we had summer school. And many times we walked. We killed many rattlesnakes, there was coyotes that would scare you. Yeah, different things, you know, little kids scared. Sometimes we'd go through the pastures and there would be a herd of cows and mean bulls. Afraid to go though the fence. But we did it. And we'd carry our little lunch buckets with us. Maybe there wasn't too much in it, but it was our lunch bucket.

BE: and in the fall of the year why Capps had quite an orchard and they always told us to come over and pick some apples and there was a lot of apples, so my mom, she put up apples and we always had something out of apples. And we didn't really do without food because my folks were such that they came from Europe and they already knew how to raise all their own food, and how to preserve it and all. My dad would plant a big garden and as much as there was a shortage of water we would water them plants only once or twice a week and all we done was just give each plant a cupful of water. Not shoot water all over, just a cupful to the plant and then two days after that water dried out, before we gave it another cup of water we would hoe around that plant. He would tell us, “Now when you hoe around that plant you're allowing air to get under there and it's breathing. And when it breathes it brings more water from down in the ground.” So you don't water it but only about twice a week and that would be Sunday, we'd go down in the afternoon and water the plants. The garden was quite a ways from the house. And in the middle of the week we'd water again. So he'd raise his own cabbage, raise his own hogs, we always had chickens, milk cows. We had our own butter. We had to churn it. We had…talk about yogurt! We was raised on cottage cheese and sour milk, and sour cream. My mother used an awful lot of that. She was an expert cook from Europe. And we made sour kraut out of our own cabbage, like 50 gallons! And she would leave it in the barrel during the winter when it was cold. And toward spring, she'd take and boil it and seal it all in jars and save it for summer. And we canned a lot of vegetables if we had a good year. Only thing was when you thought you had a fairly good crop, hail would wipe you out! So, I know exactly what a farmer puts up with. He's just living from day to day hoping that everything turns out ok.

BE: Clothes, why she sewed. We didn't have too many nice clothes, but we took care of the ones that we did have and we didn't wear the same thing that we wore on Sunday on Monday. Our everyday clothes was one thing and our Sunday things was a little better and we'd take care of them. Like today, now the kids put something on Sunday and they don't take it off till next year and it's the same thing all week and Sunday and all. They don't show the difference, where my mother always made us take good baths twice a week even if it was just in a round tub. We couldn't bathe everyday. There wasn't that much water. And she always taught us if something was better, take care of it, cause you don't know when you'll get another one, and so on.

BE: So, then when the girls began to get a little bigger we'd want to go to a dance, we'd like to go to a party. We had good times, even though we were all poor in the neighborhood. But, we'd have Valentine parties and dances at the schoolhouse and programs at Christmas and the neighbors all shared with one another. Maybe one of the neighbors would have a big party and we'd all bring something. My mother was great for baking bread and baking…we called it kulaches…that's cakes that are stuffed with prune filling or poppy seed and so on. That's an old country recipe. So they would all share. We would all get together and have a good time. And there was a fellow there by the name of Bill Oldham. He had a concertina. That's a little instrument. He'd play it. We'd sing songs. I don't know. I guess we was happy in our own way.

BE: Little by little, the kids began to get bigger and start leaving the house, getting married. One would go here; one would go there. We slowly, little by little, they all left and got married. Only thing that I ever felt bad was for my mother because she lived a hard life until she raised us all on the farm. We didn't have the nicest kind of house. So then the boys, when they got bigger, they bought two old houses down in the coal mining camps that ran out and they moved them up to the farm and they put them up and made a real nice house out of it. They finished it on the inside with new material and a new roof and made a nice basement and everything and they barely got moved into the house when my mother had a stroke and she was in a wheelchair for six years, starting on her seventh year, before she passed away. So, she didn't got too much enjoyment out of the house.

BE: And so what else have I got to say?

BE: Well, then I met Pete. He was a miner, coal miner and lived in the camps and worked in these mines until they went out. Depression days come along. We were on a farm. We leased a little ranch from a fellow name Don Martinez. And we raised turkeys. At that time, they started a little plant down here in Walsenburg. And, so we went into turkeys. My sister, Agnes Zubal, she had the Clark ranch that's up here about 9 or 10 miles south of here and they had a lot of buildings and they didn't have any money and neither did we, but I told her, “Gee, this is a good place to raise about 3,000 turkeys.” We had fairly good luck. We didn't clear very much money on them. I think between the two partners we cleared about $2000 apiece.

BE: Then there was the depression days here in the '30's when the men didn't have no jobs. The WPA come out and they hired them and they done quite a bit of work, built bridges across the rivers, and they built these rock buildings down at the fair grounds and after that my husband, he got a job at the post office as a custodian and a rural mail carrier. So, he worked there for over 20 years. He was getting heart attacks and he had to lay off because he was disabled. So, then we moved. Oh, when we moved off this farm we moved into a little house on Pinion Street. We lived up there and all our family were married young. We were all having our children then and nobody had any money to send a pregnant woman to the hospital so they brought her to my house and we only had four rooms but we emptied one room of everybody and gave the mother that room and we called on Dr. Noonan and Dr. Chapman and so I helped to deliver several babies in my own house. Besides delivering calves on the farm and delivering hogs and oh, I don't know, it sounds crazy when I talk about it.

BE: So, then we was living in town and I went out to take care of my mother and I had my kids and at that time I was pregnant, too, part of the time. Then after that my mother passed away and then I told my husband, I says, “I don't want to live in this house. Let's see if we can't buy us little places somewhere, start working at it.” He says, “How are you going to buy anything when you haven't got any money?” I says, “Well, I know, but let's think about it anyway.” So this piece of property down here was for sale and it was for sale for back taxes. It wasn't this house by any means. It was a big old barn with a bunch of rooms in it and next door, adjoining it, was like a pool hall. And I guess at one time they used it for a gambling den and probably a red light district, or whatever, I don't know. Anyway, the old house was there and the lot was big and it was for sale for back taxes for $475. I told my husband, “Why don't we just buy that and fix it up?” He says, “We'll freeze to death in there. You can see through the roof and the floors are full of holes and how are we going to live there?” I said, “Well, I don't know. We ought to look at it and do something about it.” So he says, “Well, I don't think…..” Oh! When we left the leased ranch from Don Martinez we had a few head of cattle and horses so we sold everything so we came to town with $800. And I swore I wasn't going to spend a penny of that. I was saving it for something that I could maybe get out of the rented house and get into something. Well, in the meantime, the kids had to have the tonsils out, and the oldest boy, he had his tonsils out, and he had Scarlet Fever. He nearly died. Dr. Chapman came to the house 8 days straight, one day after another to help save him. And every day that he came he gave him a little bottle of castor oil. The boy was only 8 years old and I said, “Doctor you're going to kill that kid with that castor oil.” He says, “Look, if I don't give him that castor oil, he's gonna die.” I said, “Well, he's the doctor. I guess you know what you're doing.” Well, sure enough he save him. He started to get better. Dr. Chapman was a good doctor. He saved my live too. He said, “Now look, I'm giving him that oil because from scarlet fever you have so much poison bacteria that goes into your intestines and unless, we wipe that out,” he says “that kid won't live.” That's the reason I have to do that every day. The only thing that kept him alive was drinking the white of an egg in water, that's all. And the kid was delirious and he didn't know. He had a high fever. He didn't hardly know anything. So, our money went for tonsils. They used to take a child's tonsils out. Dr. Noonan took Ray's tonsils out, that my youngest son, right in his office and they charged $50. Took his tonsils out, laid him on the couch, and as he'd let me I wrapped him and brought him home. So, our money was fairly gone but we still had enough to buy this old shacky house that looked like heck, but we bought it. And then there was back taxes that we had to pay up. So, we moved into that old house and about froze to death there. It was leaking. You could look through the roof. The floors were full of holes but we finally, after the first year of freezing, the first year we spent there my husband started digging out a basement and put a furnace in.

BE: So then I said to him, “That big building next door there, we ought to do something with that.” He said, “I don't know what you could do with that.” I said, “Me and the kids are going to clean that out and scrub it all up and we're going to paint it and I'm going to start me a little second hand clothing store.” Oh, that really got him down. He couldn't see it at all. But, that's what I did. I started in there. I used to go to the rummage sales in town and I used to pick up their leftovers that they couldn't sell and why then they'd make me a little price of 4 or 5 dollars and I'd take it all. Maybe a shoe was missing and maybe some of it wasn't good but I'd take it off their hands. I'd bring it home and I'd go through some of the old shirts and I'd sew buttons on and I'd wash them and do them up and hang them up and I started out with that. Then I finally…People would say, “What's a second hand store? Who's going to buy any of that? I says, “Look, this is hard times and people don't have no money.” That's before the welfare and all that come in, see, and maybe it'll go. Then I couldn't get enough clothes round here. I used to buy clothes from different people that was going out of business. I even bought furniture and we'd fix it up and we'd sell it. Finally, I told my husband I'd like to go to Denver and get some better clothes and so we went to Denver and I got acquainted with a Mrs. Anderson. She was boss of the Salvation Army Store. I asked her if she would sell her clothes to a dealer, that I'm way out of town, about 200 miles from Denver. “Oh, yes.” She said, “Sell to anybody that wants to buy it.” They had racks of clothes and I'd pick out what I thought I could sell and what I could do for them. So I ran that second hand store for 20 years. In the meantime, I made contracts with Lawrence Seals and I would go and put in a bid on maybe 1500 pair of army shoes. That was second hand army shoes. I'd buy them, 'cause there was a lot of other bidders and you had to over bid them or you didn't get the merchandise. So once in a while I'd loose, but once in a while I'd hit it. Anyway, then I bid on army shirts and different things like that in order to get the army shirts, they might have 14 army shirts in a pile, but you couldn't buy them. Every shirt had to be damaged. So they were clean. There were washed up and they were done up, pressed and all. But the cuff was tore off or the collar was tore off, or the buttons were tore off or the pockets were tore off or it was ripped up the side. They had to be damaged or they couldn't be in that pile. Well, ok. Most of the people that bid on them, because I figured I could put those shirts back together again. So I put in a bid and nearly always I'd get those shirts. I'd get them shipped out here and I bought me an electric sewing machine and I hared a woman and she helped me and we'd work on them shirts, fix them up, hang them on the rack and maybe I'd only make 35 cents on a shirt but I sold them all and in about 5 years of handling good and bad clothes I told my husband, “We got to build us a new home.” So I told him, “Let's go out to the camps that are selling these houses out here and let's see if we can't buy a couple of old houses and used the lumber for the inside of a house and then buy the finishing stuff.” So, we went out to a comp, Bridgeport camp, and everything was sold except the boarding house. So we bought the boarding house and we tore it down and cleaned the boards and took out all the nails and everything and Jim Houghton brought it in for us and we stacked it in the backyard and nailed it all together so people couldn't steal it and that was number 1 step towards a new home. We'd work another couple of years and get a little bit more and after about 5 years Mr. Linscott built us a home and we've enjoyed it a lot. That's the home we're living in now.

BE: Then, in the meantime, we were still in that business and the prisoner camp was for sale down below Trinidad, there was a prison camp, and I told my husband I'd like to go down there and put in a bid on a couple of barracks. He said “What are you going to do with them?” I said, “Well, we can get all that lumber out of there and maybe build us a duplex or something for a rental in our older age.” Because in them days there wasn't any help from anybody else. So we went down and we didn't know. We looked the camp over and put in a bid for 9 buildings. They wouldn't give you any help on which way you should go. Whether there's a minimum or maximum or a limit. There wasn't no set price. That was up to you. So we got a letter said we had gotten 5 buildings. So we sent them a check for the 5 barracks and we had only 30 days to tear them up and get them off that land. So, then we hired quite a few guys, weren't working in them days, there wasn't much money. So we got that all tore out and moved in and later we used that lumber to build the motel with. My son-in-law and daughter were in on that and then they wanted to move out of that and then we took it over. But, I didn't like the motel. I didn't want to stay up all night, sleeping light, and then I had to work all day. So then we gave that up and ended back here in the house. We did trade the motel on a ranch. We were on a ranch for 1 year on the Huerfano River. Then, my husband had a heart attack and we had to sell it and we sold it and came back home. We was home here about a year when he passed away. And I'm still here. That'd be the end size of it.

BE: I didn't say how many kids I have. I have 4 kids. All living in this area. Fred and Evelyn, they have 7 children. Four married. Val is in College in Alamosa. Jimmer, he's a senior at the high school, coming next year I think. And Bruce, he's in the fourth grade. Then I have another son, Raymond.

BE: That's my oldest son's picture. That's my youngest son over there. And he has the twins, twin boys. And Mary Francis and they're just now high school kids. And he has a job with…him and Fred run the Anchor Motel for years. And Raymond, he had a job now with the C and S Railroad. And my oldest daughter , Josephine and Chester, they have Chet's Motel for 25 years and they sold it and they live up by the hospital in that big house where Dr. Vega used to live. They have the Sear's Apartment. And Roxie, she's a meter maid and she works for the police department. You probably know here or have seen her around town. She's the youngest one. And I have 12 grandchildren and I've got 8 great grandchildren and I think there's a green light on right now. There's one coming.

BE: That's it. And I'm still enjoying myself. I feel pretty good. I like to cook. I have some good recipes I'm thinking about putting together in a little cook book. And I do a lot of crochet. Here is an old one that was made out of second hand sweaters when I had my second hand store. I ripped up old woolen sweater and washed them and made this thing. Here is one they call an Indian design. Lot of work in that. Here's one that won second prize at a fair. The one that got first prize I gave to my youngest son. Here's one that I made a design myself. This is real worsted, not acrylic. Isn't it pretty? I made that design myself.

SC: That's the nicest one.

BE: In my spare time I do this besides running my little clothing store and with the kids we generally have our big Thanksgiving Dinner here. This year my family was big and my house too small so we had our big dinner up at my daughter's. She has a big basement. We had dinner there and they all helped out. That at Christmas I don't cook, I go mooching! When they hear all that, they'd say, “Why that woman's crazy!”

SC: No, it's great! It really is. Just fine.

BE: Well, that's it. I enjoy my family. I enjoy all my kids. I'll show you a few pictures. This is my oldest son, this one here and that's his wife and that's their kids except that her dad, that' me and that's on of their son –in-laws. This is Josephine and Chester and their family and this is me and my four kids.

SC: Nice. Nice looking family.

BE: I have a cousin that lives in Calgary, Canada. There were people that left Czechoslovakia in 1968, I think it was, when the Russians marched through there with tanks and took over and they didn't try to fight them back like the Afghans are doing now because, like my cousin said, they wouldn't have never got anywhere. They weren't expecting it, see? They just walked in on them like a big bear on a mouse. So they were just shocked. So when they got through with their drive through there the people went back to their homes and this cousin of mine says, “Leaving? And where are we going?” He say's “I don't know where we are going but we are going to leave here, because if we don't leave in the next 48 hours we will never get out of here. And I'm not going live under their laws, their regime.” So they just took the two kids, they were small then. The kids were 6 years old. They took the kids and some of their bedding, featherbeds and what clothes they could carry and that's all and they went to the English Embassy. And when they got there, there was 180,000 Czechoslovakians already there asking for a way out and so they asked to help them and they said o.k., they would help, but under one condition. When you get established, you will pay us back. So they told them they would and they are the class of people that are pretty good to get along with and truthful. Anyway, she said, “Where are we going to go?” They said, “You have a choice. You can go to Africa, Asia, or Canada.” I think those are all the countries that were English government occupied. Anyway, they decided to go to Canada because he said, “I've got some relatives in the states, maybe I will get to see some of them.” So they came to Canada.

Back to the Oral Interviews Main Page

Return to the Huerfano County Home Page
© Karen Mitchell