David "Skip" Harrigan Oral History

Dublin Core


David "Skip" Harrigan Oral History


David "Skip" Harrigan Oral History


Churchill County Museum Association


Churchill County Museum Association


April 28, 1997


Analog Cassette Tape, Text File, Mp3 Audio



Oral History Item Type Metadata


Marian Hennen LaVoy


David "Skip" Harrigan


6000 Harrigan Road, Fallon, Nevada.


Churchill County Oral History Project

an interview with


Fallon, Nevada

conducted by


April 28, 1997

This interview was transcribed by Glenda Price; edited by Norma Morgan; final by Pat Boden; index by Gracie Viera; supervised by Myrl Nygren, Director of the Oral History Project, Churchill County Museum.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this interview are those of the interviewer and interviewee and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Churchill County Museum or any of its employees.


David "Skip" Harrigan is a very ill gentleman who continues to live life gallantly. There was concern that this interview might be too strenuous for him, but as he was reliving his life, company arrived and his solemn face broke into a smile and he managed a few humorous comments to his old friend. These comments took a great deal of effort but following them the spirits of both men soared.

Asked why his middle name was Pershing he laughed and said that his father was a great admirer of General "Black Jack" Pershing and as a result he named his youngest son after the World War I hero! Skip respected his father who served as a Churchill County Commissioner as well as a member of the Churchill County School Board. His father's life story as contained in this interview is very enlightening and the old gentleman's first job was at the Inman Flour Mill which was located on a fork of the Carson River which ran through the Harrigan property prior to the building of the Lahontan Dam.

Football was Skip's claim to glory. He received Green Wave letters all four of his high school years. However, the day football ended in his senior year he dropped out of school without telling his parents! His dad, being a member of the school board, was immediately contacted by Principal George McCracken. Retribution in the form of a good spanking was administered posthaste. He did not go back to classes, but a few months later he entered the first class that specialized in vocational welding. He had found his niche!

The Seabees beckoned during World War II and Skip saw extended duty in the South Pacific Theater. When he returned to the States his unit was the 549th Seabee, and it was chosen to be used in the filming of the epic movie, The Fighting Seabees, starring John Wayne, Susan Hayward, and Dennis O'Keefe. This was a highlight that he still speaks of fondly.

Returning to Fallon he put in many years working for the Dodge Construction Company, Andy Drumm's Silver State Construction Company, the Churchill County Road Department and other construction companies.

Mr. Harrigan's love for his late wife is touchingly evident, and the tender care given him by his children certainly makes a difficult health situation a little easier for him to bear. He is a valiant man known and loved by many in the area.

Interview with David "Skip" Pershing Harrigan

LaVOY:  This Marian Hennen LaVoy of the Churchill County Museum Oral History Program interviewing David Pershing Harrigan at his home, 6000 Harrigan Road, Fallon, Nevada. The date is April 28, 1997. Good morning, David. How are you this morning?

HARRIGAN: Oh, so-so.

LaVOY:  I think it's very nice of you to take the time to let me do this.

HARRIGAN: Glad to do it.

LaVOY:  You were telling me something about your grandfather. Would you mind telling me what his name was?

HARRIGAN: I never knew my grandfather. Yvonne has that information written there through her genealogy.

LaVOY:  He was a teamster, wasn't he?

HARRIGAN: He was a teamster at Virginia City [Nevada] hauling ore from the mines at Virginia City down to Dayton [Nevada] to the mills on the Carson River, and he got crushed between two freight wagons and got killed. That left my father and his sisters, Cora and Maude, as orphans. Cora was the mother of the Ferguson boys that used to be around here. They're all dead now. Callie Ferguson that owned the newsstand in Fallon for years was a school teacher in Virginia City, and she used to take them to school and tie them up to her desk while she taught school during the day.

LaVOY:  Well, for heaven's sake! And they stayed tied at the desk?

HARRIGAN: Oh, she kept them there and fed them their lunch.

LaVOY:  And then she untied them and brought them home?

HARRIGAN: Brought them home. Took care of them.

LaVOY:  Oh, for heaven . .

HARRIGAN: They were orphans. People at that time took care of them. They didn't put them in orphans' home or something. It was a family practice to take care of your kids.

LaVOY:  Now, that grandfather's name was, what, Archibald? H

ARRIGAN: My father's name was Francis Archibald [Harrigan].

LaVOY:  No, your grandfather was Archibald Craig Harrigan?

HARRIGAN: Craig Harrigan. Um-hum. He changed his name for some reason, and that's what Yvonne's trying to find out why he changed it from Craig to Harrigan when he moved from Sacramento to Virginia City.

LaVOY:  Oh, I see. He was married to Ida Smart?

HARRIGAN: Ida Smart, yes.

LaVOY:  She was in Virginia City with him?

HARRIGAN: Yes, I think so. Don't quote me for sure on this, but I'm not positive 'cause I never did know them. And Dad being an orphan, he didn't have no history on his family.

LaVOY:  All right, suppose you tell me something about your father. What was his name?

HARRIGAN: Francis Archibald Harrigan.

LaVOY:  And where was he born?

HARRIGAN: Yvonne had that information here for you.

LaVOY:  He was born in Gold Hill?

HARRIGAN: Gold Hill.

LaVOY:  March 20, 1873?

HARRIGAN: That sounds familiar. 1873, I think.

LaVOY:  I imagine he was in Gold Hill because that's where his father had been in Virginia City.

HARRIGAN: Yeah. As he grew up, why, he went to cowboying down around Bishop [California] and Limbo [California] and down when he was a teenager.

LaVOY:  Did he come to Fallon with his grandfather Smart?

HARRIGAN: Yeah, I think so.

LaVOY:  In 1888, I believe.

HARRIGAN: I think that's the way it was. Dad couldn't tell me much about his parents 'cause he was an orphan at such a young age.

LaVOY:  When did he come to Fallon, approximately?

HARRIGAN: He and my mother were married in 1902. Well, he was here before then 'cause he worked in the flour mill over here on the place right west of here, the Corkill place. The Corkills have it now. He worked in a flour mill there for Allen Inman's father.

LaVOY:  Was that the Inman flour mill?


LaVOY:  What did he do there?

HARRIGAN: He worked in the mill. Just sewed sacks and .

LaVOY:  And all of that.

HARRIGAN: Yeah. All of the grain at that time was sacked. It wasn't handled in bulk. It was all sacked. He was a sack sewer. Dad was a carpenter, more or less. He was a handyman. He was pretty handy at carpenter and woodwork.

LaVOY:  Was that mill in existence when you were born, or had it been torn down?

HARRIGAN: No, Willy Johnson tore that flour mill down when he moved on the place right after World War II. When I came home from World War II, the mill was still standing, and like a dummy, I didn't take any pictures of it.

LaVOY:  That's a shame. I understand . .

HARRIGAN: Excuse me, but I think Dorothy Pomeroy, George Pomeroy, lives right up here, he went to school from there. They lived there, and they went to school. They moved down here from Paradise Valley [Nevada], I think it was. They caught the bus down here at the corner.

LaVOY:  At the corner of Berney [Road] and Harrigan?

HARRIGAN: Yes. They'd walk across our field and come across through the yard and catch the bus down there at the corner.

LaVOY:  I understand that flour mill had square nails and wooden pegs.

HARRIGAN: Square nails and wooden pegs, yes.

LaVOY:  And was built by the Inmans?

HARRIGAN: Inmans, um-hum. Inman mill.

LaVOY:  For heaven sakes. I read some place that they had an overshot-style mill.


LaVOY:  What does that mean? [Actuated by the weight of water passing over and flooding from above. ed]

HARRIGAN: The South Fork of the Carson River used to run right through there. That was before the drain ditches. See, you got to understand this is where all this reclamation was done. The river was still running there when Dad settled here on this place. He irrigated out of the river. That's before T.C.I.D. [Truckee-Carson Irrigation District] or Lahontan Dam was ever created.

LaVOY:  Oh. What fork was it did you say, again?

HARRIGAN: The South Fork of the Carson River.

LaVOY:  And came right through .

HARRIGAN: Yes. It ran right through the place here and run through the Maffis. It's all been filled in as far as I know except about a hundred feet of it right here at the east end of the place here. There's still that part of the river.

LaVOY:  Did it flood?

HARRIGAN: In the springtime, yes. I've heard Dad say that when during that period of time, Rawhide was discovered, and there's lots of times that the freight wagons used to go around to get across the River down by the old Grimes slough. They had a ford down there, a bridge across it. A toll bridge where they'd charge them to go across, but they had to go plumb down there to get around the river 'cause the government pasture and all that'd get flooded. It'd be underwater.

LaVOY:  Oh, for heaven's sake. I've never heard that before.

 HARRIGAN: Well, it's just one of those things.

LaVOY:  That is very interesting. That's a point that I didn't realize--I knew that there were forks to the river, but I didn't realize that one ran right straight through your property and went down to the slough.

HARRIGAN: Mary Ellen Allen, if you know her?

LaVOY:  Yes.

HARRIGAN: Well, Mary Ellen could tell you. She could verify it 'cause she lived here at that time. Down here about a mile and a half, two miles east of us here.

LaVOY:  Oh, I didn't realize that.

HARRIGAN: Yeah. Before she and Lem were married, she was born and raised down there.

LaVOY:  Oh. Your father homesteaded this place in 1905. Tell me some of the stories he told you about homesteading.

HARRIGAN: (laughing) I don't know. They just took it up. I was born in a little four-room shack right out here where the garage is now.

LaVOY:  Oh, for heaven sake! Your father, was he a bachelor when he homesteaded?

HARRIGAN: I think about that time he and Mother were married about 1902, I think.

LaVOY:  He'd been married then about three years before he…?

HARRIGAN: Possibly. Like I say, I didn't

LaVOY:  What was your mother's name?

HARRIGAN: Martha Oats.

LaVOY:  Where was she born?

HARRIGAN: Penzance, England. [Sancreed Parish, Cornwall, England]

LaVOY:  How did she happen to come to the United States? With her parents?

HARRIGAN: Her brother, Uncle  John Oats, that had the Oats Park and all that. He owned everything from Maine Street east. He had a ranch out at East Gate out there. He owned the East Gate ranch, and he sold that and moved in here and bought the Oats place. There by where the ball park is.

LaVOY:  Oh, yes. He had a dairy.

HARRIGAN: Yeah. Well, his son, Alfred, did. He ran the diary. They had two ranches, and Johnny, his other brother, did the irrigating and took care of putting up the hay, and Alfred run the dairy. He had some real high pedigreed cows. He had a good dairy there for quite sometime.

LaVOY:  Do you have any idea where your mother and your father met?

HARRIGAN: Over here at Oats'. So, apparently, he was here, and then she moved in. John Oats, my mother's brother, went to England and brought three of them out. My mother and her two sisters. He made about three trips back. It was a large family. I understand--this is just hearsay now---but I understand they was twenty-seven kids and three different wives in that family.

LaVOY:  That was a responsibility. (laughing)

HARRIGAN: (laughing) Oh, Lord! But, of course, that was before my time.

LaVOY:  But, your mother had mentioned this to you.

HARRIGAN: Yes, I've heard Mom and Dad talk about it.

LaVOY:  When they started their homesteading here, do you know what crops that they started with first?

HARRIGAN: They started raising alfalfa to feed the cows.

LaVOY:  Very first thing.

HARRIGAN: Yeah Alfalfa and barley, you know, when they rotated. They irrigated out of the river.

LaVOY:  They had quite a number of children, didn't they? There were how many of you?

HARRIGAN: Of us kids? In my family?

LaVOY:  Um-hum.

HARRIGAN: It was eight.

LaVOY:  Eight living ones? I believe there were ten all together.

HARRIGAN: Ten all together.

LaVOY:  But, a couple of them passed away?

HARRIGAN: My one sister, Edith, passed away when I was a kid about five years old. She got out of school, and she was working at the telephone office. Bob Lee was sheriff here. He had some female bloodhound dogs, and she had a bunch of pups, and Callie, my sister, talked him out of one of them pups. (laughing)          I was just a little kid five, six years old, and he had a pen full of calves out there, and I was going to make a stock dog out of this bloodhound. I had that bloodhound out there chasing them calves, and she seen me. She come out of the house, and she fanned my britches for that all the way to the house.

LaVOY:  (laughing)

HARRIGAN: She was a redhead.

LaVOY:  And she passed away.

HARRIGAN: Passed away when I was about five, six years old, so that'd be about 1924 or 1925. [June 13, 1924]

LaVOY:  What did she pass away from?


LaVOY:  That was very endemic at that time.

HARRIGAN: Well, they didn't test cows for tuberculosis at that time, and now they do. But she got hold of some bad milk, TB milk. They sent her to her aunt down in Sacramento [California], and the doctor down there operated on her neck. She had scars on her neck where some doctor operated on her neck. It settled in her glands in her neck. It's eventually what killed her.

LaVOY:  I'm going to go through the list of your brothers and sisters' names, and you can just tell me just some little thing about them. Your first one was John Joseph [Harrigan].

HARRIGAN: Yeah, Joseph. Joe. He was married to Erma Rice, and they had a ranch. When he worked for Dodge Construction, he met her. The road went right through her folks' place up in Adin, California, and that's where he met his wife, Erma. Her brother and sister sold out to Joe and Erma. He's buried up at Adin, California, now.

LaVOY:  Then you had Vina Maud [Harrigan]. Vine is still living, isn't she?

HARRIGAN: Yeah, she's over to the convalescent center.

LaVOY: Vina Woods.

HARRIGAN: Yeah. She was married to Red Kenneth Woods. Called him Red. He was a redheaded guy, and she had two daughters, Judy, who died of cancer about ten, twelve years ago down in California at Berkeley, and Joan Marsh. Her husband's passed away here about five, six years ago, and that was up in Washington.

LaVOY: But, Vina is living at the convalescent center, now?

HARRIGAN: Yes, she is living at the convalescent center, but she doesn't have all of her faculties. She probably couldn't tell you.

LaVOY: I believe she'll be ninety-three very shortly.

HARRIGAN: Yeah. Something like that.

LaVOY: That's getting up there. Then your next one was Edith [Harrigan Vaden].

HARRIGAN: Edith, yes. She's the one that died of TB.

LaVOY: And then Francis [Arnold], Frankie?

HARRIGAN: Frankie, they called him. He was born an invalid. Vera and I raised him and took care of him after Dad passed away. We got married a week to the day after my dad passed away, and my wife, Vera, she was a registered nurse here, and we took care of Frankie till he passed away.

LaVOY: And then Emma Callie [Harrigan]. She was married to Emmett Clayton?

HARRIGAN: I think Edgar Clayton is still around here. They had a ranch and a dairy, maybe, up in Sheckler District.

LaVOY: And she has passed away?

HARRIGAN: Yeah, she passed away in childbirth when Louise was born.

LaVOY:  When Louise Clayton [Mills] was born?


LaVOY:  Then you had Edwin Thomas [Harrigan].

HARRIGAN: He had a ranch up in Soda Lake, and he was married to Edith Allyn. She's a sister to Dorothy Prudler, who, to my knowledge, is still alive and still here in town.

LaVOY:  And then Cora.

HARRIGAN: Yeah. She's living on a ranch over in Wildes District on Crook Road. She has a house that's the old Connors' place.

LaVOY:  And is she married?

HARRIGAN: Her husband passed away about eight, ten, twelve years ago.

LaVOY:  Was she married to someone by the name of Harmon?

HARRIGAN: Yeah, that's Scott Harmon. She had one boy, Don Harmon, and they live there on the place. They moved into the house that's a two-story house there on Crook Road.

LaVOY:  And then Alfred?


LaVOY:  That was Whitey?

HARRIGAN: Whitey. Alfred Sylvester [Harrigan].

LaVOY:  And he passed away .

HARRIGAN: He had a car wreck right up here on the Grey place on Lazy Heart Lane. [phone rings] Excuse me.

LaVOY: Will you continue telling me about the accident your brother, Whitey, had?

HARRIGAN: He had cattle on both sides of the road, and he was looking off the road. He was counting the cows out in the field, and there was one a-missin', and he was a-lookin' and a-lookin' see if he could spot that calf. He run off the road through the fence and into the ditch. Broke his neck. He was in the hospital in Reno for, I imagine, about three weeks or a month before he passed away.

LaVOY:  Oh, that's a shame. Of course, then you were next, and then your last one was Mary Martha?

HARRIGAN: Yeah. She lives up in Paschal, Washington.

LaVOY:  And is married to a gentleman by the name of Hafen? George Andrew Hafen?

HARRIGAN: Oh, that was George Hafen. He got killed one New Year's night. They hadn't been married very long. He was at a New Year's party, got carsick going home, and he was out heaving his toenails up. It was a dark, foggy night up there out of Alturas. A neighbor come by, didn't see him, run into him, and killed him.

LaVOY: Oh, that's very sad. And she has since re-married.

HARRIGAN: Yes, she's married since then.

LaVOY: Somebody by the name of Alvin Henne?

HARRIGAN: Alvin Henne, yeah.

LaVOY: Now, I want to get back since we've got all of your brothers and sisters listed. Your father, I understand, was very active. He was a county commissioner?

HARRIGAN: Yes. Near as I remember it was from 1914 to 1918.

LaVOY: Pre World War I.


LaVOY: Did he ever mention anything about any changes that he as a commissioner was able to bring about here in Churchill County?

HARRIGAN: He never talked much about it.

LaVOY: What was he, Democrat, Republican?

HARRIGAN: He was a Republican. Dyed-in-the-wool Republican. And then in later years he was on the school board when George McCracken was principal here at the school.


HARRIGAN: That made quite a change in my life 'cause when the government started training welders for the shipyards, why, they started one of them schools here at the high school.

LaVOY: Oh, a vocational school.

HARRIGAN: Yes, and there was one at Drumm's shop and one at the old T.C.I.D. [Truckee-Carson Irrigation District] shops that used to be there in town at that time, and then I went to school at Dodge's. There was about twelve of us in that class.

LaVOY:  Now, you were going to high school, but went over to Dodge's Construction for your welding class?

HARRIGAN: Yes. I'd quit high school. I had about four months to go, and I played hookey. My dad being on the school board that was a mistake 'cause inevitably it got back to my dad. I got my pants tanned for that. When that school started, Mac told Dad about it, and Dad told me. I went in and applied for it, and I went through that school. When the class was over--I think it was a six-months class. When it was over, Jack Beach--the old man Jack Beach. He's dead. He got killed while I was still working there. He says, "You're doing pretty good at this." They were having trouble getting help because a lot of the guys were going in the service, World War II, so he asked me if I'd come in and go to work. So, I worked there two years. Then I went into the service.

LaVOY:  Oh, I see. Well, going back just a little bit. I also understand that, and I don't quite get this in my mind, but I understand that the Lincoln Highway went right past your ranch.

HARRIGAN: Used to come right out here at the corner.

LaVOY:  What, it came down what is now Harrigan Road?

HARRIGAN: Harrigan Road. Come through right past, wound around through town, and come out Courtesy Corner, Harrigan Road, and out here they used to call this Suicide Corner.

LaVOY:  That's on Harrigan and Berney?


LaVOY:  Was Berney Lincoln Highway, too?

HARRIGAN: No. No. Berney Road wasn't in existence then. Dodges built the Berney Road. They had the contract, and it was from Schurz Highway to Salt Wells, then across Four and Eight-Mile Flat, and Dodges did that job.

LaVOY:  Now, that was Lincoln Highway or Berney?

HARRIGAN: That was Lincoln Highway then. That was before the Navy base expanded and cut Lincoln Highway off.

LaVOY:  All right. Now, let me see if I have this right. The Lincoln Highway came through Fallon and came out to Harrigan Road, down Harrigan Road to what is now Berney Road and then went . . .

HARRIGAN: Yeah, it went on east. That road is still there, but the Navy base when they expanded, they cut it off to the south. That's when they re-routed the road around town.

LaVOY:  Oh, I see.

HARRIGAN: They re-routed it around town. It used to all come out this way.

LaVOY:  Oh, that's very interesting.

HARRIGAN: I seen five wrecks down there one day.

LaVOY:  At the corner of . .

HARRIGAN: Right here at the corner.

LaVOY:  Where Berney .

HARRIGAN: It was a sharp ninety-degree turn. People'd come in about half asleep from out across the desert, and there was a sharp ninety-degree turn. One day it was five wrecks there at that corner.

LaVOY:  Oh, for heaven's sake.

HARRIGAN: I pulled lots of people out of that drain ditch.

LaVOY:  Critically injured or just…

HARRIGAN: Yeah. Oh, some of them got killed there.

LaVOY:  Oh, my goodness.

HARRIGAN: This one woman was going to sue me for . . . they piled a car up. It was one of them old two-door cars with the wide doors, and they went over the bridge, and as they did, the car floated. There was a lot of water in the drain at that time, and the car floated down, and the water was just raising. They couldn't push the door open, so my neighbor down here, he heard the wreck and so did I at the same time. He drove up there, and we got down and pulled the door out or they'd a drowned right there.

LaVOY:  Oh, my, and she was going to sue you because you ruined the door?

HARRIGAN: She lost her purse in the wreck in the car, and she claimed I took it.

LaVOY:  Well, that wasn't being very kind of her after you saved her life. My goodness!

HARRIGAN: She'd a got drowned in another hour, half hour she'd a been drowned. She wrote to the sheriff. Ralph Vannoy was the sheriff here at that time, and she wrote to him that she was thinking about getting literature together for a lawsuit and claimed I stole her purse. I didn't steal nothing out of her car.

LaVOY:  Probably went just down through the water.

HARRIGAN: Might have floated down the drain for all I know. I never did see it. We called the wrecker out. I think Fallon Garage, at that time, had the wrecker in here. I called them out, and they towed the car out and put it up on the bank.

LaVOY:  Oh. Well, that's admirable on your part. [Long silence, end of tape 1 side A] I want to ask you a bit about your life. I understand that your older brothers and sisters went to Union School. Where was Union School?

HARRIGAN: Just about a mile and a quarter up the road toward town.

LaVOY:  Up Harrigan Road.

HARRIGAN: Yeah, up on Harrigan Road. Just about a mile and a quarter north of the place here. Most of the roads were mile sections, and Union [School] was just north of Union Lane, and off to the west side of the highway. It was about two hundred feet off the highway. It's all growed up with brush now. You'd never know there was anything there.

LaVOY:  What happened to the school?

HARRIGAN: Keebers tore it down. Somehow they got a hold of it when they bought the old Beckstead place. To my knowledge they tore it down. All of a sudden it disappeared.

LaVOY:  Did you say that they had just put a new floor in it or something?

HARRIGAN: Yeah. New hardwood floor.

LaVOY:  And they were going to use it for what?

HARRIGAN: Community building. Just like Old River's still got their community school and Stillwater's got theirs. It was a community building. They held Farm Bureau meetings there. I remember going to a lot of Farm Bureau meetings there.

LaVOY:  Did they have dances there?

HARRIGAN: Yes, dances on Saturday nights.

LaVOY:  Doesn't Harmon still have its?

HARRIGAN: Yes, I think it does.

LaVOY:  And they still have functions there. Well, that's a shame that that was torn down. Was the lumber used to build something else?

HARRIGAN: I don't know. They took it. The Keebers did.

LaVOY:  Then you went to Oats Park School.

HARRIGAN: Oh, yes.

LaVOY:  Who were some of your classmates?

HARRIGAN: Classmates or teachers?

LaVOY:  Either.

HARRIGAN: Laura Mills was one of the teachers. Flossie Smiley was another. There was two sisters. Laurella Toft was the fourth-grade teacher there, and her sister Elnora was also a teacher there. I don't think either one of them are still alive now.

LaVOY:  Was the school like it is now?

HARRIGAN: Yes, very much. It showed pictures of it before that addition on the south end was built on, but when I went there, it was built on and it was the same as what it is today.

LaVOY:  Who were some of your classmates there?

HARRIGAN: Oh, Lord! Norma Frazzini Cooper, Inabelle Jarvis Hansen, Doris Jones that lived over here. She's married and moved away. I don't know where she is now. Ruth Smith. I've got pictures of them, too.

LaVOY:  Oh, That's great. What was your favorite subject?

HARRIGAN: (laughing) I don't know. Farm shop.

LaVOY:  When you were going to Oats Park School, I don't think…

HARRIGAN: They didn't have shop.

LaVOY:  They didn't have shop then.

HARRIGAN: We had carpenter shop. We had what they called manual training. Archie Safely taught that. It was woodwork.

LaVOY:  That's when you were probably seventh or eighth grade.

HARRIGAN: Yeah. Sixth, seventh, and eighth. You went from there from the fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth grade at Oats Park.

LaVOY:  Where did you go prior to that?

HARRIGAN: Well, it's tore down. West End. It was out where the West End School is now. It was a two-story brick building.

LaVOY: Oh really?

HARRIGAN: The earthquake cracked it in… was it 1953 we had the earthquakes?

LaVOY: Right around there.

HARRIGAN: It cracked the building to where it was unsafe, and they tore it down and built a new one. Same way at the old high school. What they call Cottage Schools now. That was a two-story brick building, and the earthquake cracked it.

LaVOY:  Is that the high school that you went to?

HARRIGAN: No. I went where the junior high school is now. I went to school there.

LaVOY:  When you went to West End there, wasn't that in the middle of Mr. Mori's field?

HARRIGAN: Yeah, it was right out at the edge of it.

LaVOY:  Did you kids go and play in the field when recess was on, or were you kept at the school ground?

HARRIGAN: Yes. We was a bunch of outlaws. Armond Cappucci was another one. I went to school with Armond Cappucci too. Lives up on Sheckler Road. He’s been here a while since… he wasn’t born here. Well, maybe he was. I don’t remember, but I know we went through school together.

LaVOY:  Did you boys do a lot of hunting as young boys?

HARRIGAN: Oh, yeah. Yeah.

LaVOY:  And where did you hunt?

HARRIGAN: Oh, hunt ducks right on the river. I used to milk cows and see a bunch of ducks come in, I'd stop milking cows and shootin' ducks and go on doing my chores.

LaVOY:  And then your mother had to pick the ducks, I surmise.

HARRIGAN: No, that was one standing ruling. "You shoot them ducks, you're going to pick them. I'll clean them and cook 'em, but you're going to pick 'em." So, that was a standing ruling. [tape cuts out]

LaVOY:  What kind of ducks were you shooting?

HARRIGAN: Every kind. Everything that come in. Mallards, mostly.

LaVOY:  And how did your mother fix them?

HARRIGAN: Oh, she roasted them. Put the stuff in' in. Mom was a good cook. She was a very good cook.

LaVOY:  Since you liked to hunt ducks, I surmise that you did a lot of other types of hunting, too.

HARRIGAN: Oh, yeah. Every year I'd make a point to take my week's vacation from Dodges and go deer huntin'.

LaVOY:  Where did you hunt?

HARRIGAN: First we started out around Reese River country, and then too many people were huntin' in there, so we went out to north of Eureka. Diamond Valley. Usually got our deer out there, too. There's a lot of deer in that country at that time.

LaVOY:  Who did you hunt with?

HARRIGAN: Lavinus Baldwin, Emmett Jones. Sometimes my brother Whitey'd go with us.

LaVOY:  How long did you stay out there?

HARRIGAN: A week. We figured on a week. It was a vacation.

LaVOY:  Did you have a camping trailer, or did you just use tents?

HARRIGAN: Tents. Sometimes we never even had a tent. Just our sleeping bag.

LaVOY:  And slept out under the stars.


 LaVOY: When you got a deer, how did you take care of it?

HARRIGAN: Well, hang it in a tree at nights and let it chill out, cool out, and then we'd take and wrap sheets around it and blankets to keep it and put it in a bed in the daytime while it's hot and then keep the cold in and then in the nights when the sun went down, why, we'd hang it in a tree. Let it chill.

LaVOY:  And you kept it out there actually for a week without refrigeration?


LaVOY:  And had no problem.

HARRIGAN: No problem.

LaVOY:  What else did you hunt besides deer?

HARRIGAN: Oh, there were a lot of pheasants here at that time. You don't see one pheasant now where you used to see fifty. There used to be a lot of Chinese pheasants around.

LaVOY:  Why do you think there are so few now?

HARRIGAN: Well, there've been two or three different opinions on that. A lot of them say it was a spray. When they sprayed for weeds in the alfalfa and sprayed for weevil, it killed the pheasants that eat them. A lot say that the swathers, they go so fast now that the pheasants . . . the old horse mowers they could hear it coming, and they'd fly and get away from it. But now that the swathers go fast that they don't have a chance. That wheel picks them and feeds them right through the swather.

LaVOY:  Oh, my goodness. That's a theory.

HARRIGAN: Yeah, that's a theory.

LaVOY:  Were there a lot of geese out in this area?

HARRIGAN: Um-hum. Lots of geese. We aren't too far from the government pasture. I've seen lots of geese in the fields. 'Specially if there's new seeding. They like that real green. We have lots of geese here.

LaVOY:  What type of geese?

HARRIGAN: Honkers, mainly. White geese, there was a lot of them during the season down at the government pasture, but they weren't fit to eat. They was dark and hard to pick.

LaVOY:  Isn't there a hunting club down near the pasture some place?

HARRIGAN: Yeah, it is. I think now there's the old Art Downs place has been turned into a hunting club. I don't know. I've had nothing to do with it. I don't know anything about it.

LaVOY:  Wasn't there a hunting club down in this area that had a name? I can't think of it at the moment.

HARRIGAN: The Greenhead Club. That's at government pasture.

LaVOY:  And to belong to that, literally, I guess the memberships at one time were inherited.

HARRIGAN: Yeah. Water users used to be able to get in for a dollar, and then they raised it to two. Now I think it's up about fifty.

LaVOY:  Who started that club?

HARRIGAN: I don't know. It was started before I started hunting down there. I really don't know.

LaVOY:  Well, now, you talk about this government pasture. Why do you call it the government pasture?

HARRIGAN: Well, it's the drainage from everything south of this Berney Road drains down there, and people used to turn their cattle in. The amount of land you had determined how many cattle you could turn in down at the pasture.

LaVOY:  That would be in the spring.

HARRIGAN: Yeah, in the spring of the year. About this time of year. The larger places with the larger amount of cattle they could turn in, but smaller places you were limited to a smaller amount of cattle.

LaVOY:  Did anybody live down there to keep an eye on the cattle?

HARRIGAN: Oh, yeah. The first guy I remember down there was Henry Phillips. He was a ditch rider around here for a long time, and then he got the job down there. Then when he retired, Johnny Miller was in, and then there's a lot of different ones moved here. Johnny Miller was down there for years and years.

LaVOY:  Did they have to live right down there in the pasture?

HARRIGAN: It was a cabin right there where you go into the Greenhead Club, and he lived right there. There's corrals there.

LaVOY:  He saw to it that the cattle weren't rustled or anything like that.

HARRIGAN: That's right. He rode. If any new calves born or any of your cows died, why he'd phone and tell you.

LaVOY:  I understand when you were quite young, well in fact when you were in high school, you said you went to high school for a little over three years.


LaVOY:  But I understand that you were quite a football player?

HARRIGAN: (laughing) Oh, Lord! That was the main attraction to goin' to school!

LaVOY:  Oh. Who was your coach?

HARRIGAN: Don Robertson. I got a picture of that in there somewhere, too.

LaVOY:  What position did you play?

HARRIGAN: Right half.

LaVOY:  All three years that you were in school?

HARRIGAN: Yeah. I made three letters. Or no, I made four letters. 'Cause football season was over before I played hookey. I got my four Block Fs.

LaVOY:  Your father must have been very proud of that.

HARRIGAN: (laughing) He didn't think too much of me playing football.

LaVOY:  He wanted you to be more academic.

HARRIGAN: Yeah. That's for sure.

LaVOY:  What did you tell me about the coyotes around here?

HARRIGAN: Oh, we hear them every now and then. Even now.

LaVOY:  Do you have as many now as you had in years past?

HARRIGAN: It varies. Some years there'll be quite a number and other years there won't be too many.

LaVOY:  When you were younger, did you hunt bounty for the coyotes?

HARRIGAN: No, I never did. We shot them just to protect the calves.

LaVOY:  Years ago there used to be a bounty on gopher tails.


LaVOY:  And crows or magpies.

HARRIGAN: Magpies.

LaVOY:  Would you explain that to me?

HARRIGAN: The T.C.I.D. had, I think it was a nickel a head for magpies.

LaVOY:  Why? There were so many magpies here?

HARRIGAN: Yeah. They were a scavenger bird, and for some reason they put a bounty on them. My brothers and I, we'd go raid their nests and kill the young magpies for the nickel bounty.

LaVOY:  Well, they've certainly come back in great swarms. You didn't do too much damage.

HARRIGAN: We didn't eradicate them, that's for sure.

LaVOY:  You said you didn't graduate from high school, much to your father's chagrin.

HARRIGAN: Yeah, it's true.

LaVOY:  You went through this training for welding.

HARRIGAN: Yes. That's what I did. After that school was over, why . . . When I got out of the Seabees--our outfit made The Fighting Seabees, that movie?

LaVOY:  Oh. Well, now, I just wanted to ask you, then after your high school, you worked for the Dodge Construction Company for a while?

HARRIGAN: About two years before I went into the service in World War II.

LaVOY:  Now, the service in World War II. Did you enlist?

HARRIGAN: Yes, I volunteered. Went into Seabees. That's Naval construction same as the Army Engineers. It was just starting, and we were in the original 89th Battalion back in Norfolk, Virginia. Then when they moved the battalion to Camp Parks out of Livermore, California, why, they broke our outfit up, and we was the 549th Seabee Maintenance Unit.

LaVOY:  Was there anybody from Fallon with you in that?

HARRIGAN: Sonny Lofthouse was and Richard Whitehead, Raymond Bass.

LaVOY:  Was there an Ira Inman?

HARRIGAN: No, Ira Inman was in the foreign. He got killed in the Bataan death march. He was in the Army before that time.

LaVOY:  I see. Did you go overseas?

HARRIGAN: Oh, yeah. I was overseas. I was a year and three days on Tarawa in the Gilbert Islands, and then it was about another year, year and a half on Kwajalein in the Marshall Islands.

LaVOY:  Do you care to comment on some of the things you saw and did there?

HARRIGAN: (long pause) Well, let's put it this way. I wouldn't take a million dollars for the experience I had, but I wouldn't go through it again.

LaVOY:  What was some of the construction that you did over there?

HARRIGAN: Water purification stills and runways for the prop planes. We were building airstrips, water purifications stills, and we put docks out into the ocean for ships to come up and discharge oil and stuff for the planes.

LaVOY:  For a country boy that must have been quite an experience for you.

HARRIGAN: Really my first time away from home.

LaVOY:  You got homesick?

HARRIGAN: Oh, sure, but you had to get over it. I've seen grown men, married men cry their eyes out like a baby, but I wasn't married. Sure, I didn't want to be away from home, but I was just thankful that I wasn't like some of them guys that were married and had to leave their wives and children.

LaVOY:  Were you good at writing home to your parents?

HARRIGAN: Oh, yeah. Once a week. At least, once a week, I'd write home.

LaVOY:  Did they have rates in the Seabees? Were you a sergeant or a corporal?

HARRIGAN: Oh, yeah, same as any Marine Corps. I went in as a Ship Fitter 3rd. That's third class petty officer. When I come out I was a Metalsmith 1st.

LaVOY:  Did you come right straight home from when you were?

HARRIGAN: Um-hum. They brought us back to Camp Parks.

LaVOY:  Where is Camp Parks?

HARRIGAN: Out of Livermore, California. I understand it's a woman's penitentiary now.

LaVOY:  Oh. You had your daughter-in-law bring your uniform here for me to see, and I notice that you have the Seabee patch and then your rate and everything, but what is the little round patch on the other side?

HARRIGAN: That's when you get your discharge.

LaVOY:  And what did you call yourself? The ruptured what?

HARRIGAN: We called it the Ruptured Duck.

LaVOY:  (laughing) And why did you call yourself a Ruptured Duck?

HARRIGAN: I don't know. But they did that 'cause many servicemen were still in when we got discharged and they gave us that patch to signify that we were legally out of the service. That's when they give you the two hundred dollars and sent you home.

LaVOY:  Well, now, you came home, and what did you do when you came home?

HARRIGAN: Finished building the house.

LaVOY:  The house that you're living in now?


LaVOY:  What do you mean, you finished building it?

HARRIGAN: Well, they'd started it. The framework was up. My brother, Ed, was helping Dad build the house, and we had to get a house to live in other than the little trailer house down here where the propane tank is now till we got the house finished.

LaVOY:  Now, your parents were no longer…

HARRIGAN: Yeah, they were here.

LaVOY:  They were living in this house?

HARRIGAN: They lived in what was left of the house that didn't burn.

LaVOY:  The house that you were born in, you had added on to, and that burned?

HARRIGAN: Well, most of it. The fire trucks and the Navy base saved part of it. One room, and Mom and Dad lived in that until we got the house finished, and I tore the rest of it down.

LaVOY:  I understand when you're talking about tearing down that you also helped tear down the Soda Lake School.


LaVOY:  About when was that?

HARRIGAN: Lordy, Lordy. That was before I was married, so it must have been . .

LaVOY:  Before 1948.

HARRIGAN: John Konda and my brother, Ed, bought it, and they got me. I had a Model A truck and we used it to haul it from Soda Lake down to Kondas and to Ed's place.

LaVOY:  Where did Konda live?

HARRIGAN: Gomeses got the place now.

LaVOY:  Johnny Gomes?

HARRIGAN: It's out there on Allen Road, I think. Anyhow, it's on that hill there, and John Konda lived there until they took a trip back east and his wife got killed and he got hurt. Died shortly afterwards.

LaVOY:  Oh, is that the house that is on the east side of Allen Road? Right close to Gomes house?


LaVOY:  I imagine the county sold the school to him.

HARRIGAN: Oh, yeah.

LaVOY:  They were getting rid of all of these school buildings.

HARRIGAN: After they started busing everything into Oats Park, why, they started tearing them old schools down. It's a shame they did it, but they did.

LaVOY:  Something that I have noticed here in town. There are still one or two water towers left behind ranch houses. Did you have one of those here or not?

HARRIGAN: No, we had an old hand pitcher pump out on the back porch of the old house, and until we built the new house, we pumped the water by hand. But when we built the new house, we put in our first pressure system.

LaVOY:  You didn't have electricity in the old house, either.

HARRIGAN: No. Yeah, at the later part, the Douglass place where Frey is now?

LaVOY:  Yes.

HARRIGAN: R.L. Douglass had that, and one of the first rural power lines was this one that come down on our Harrigan Road and went through the field here and went down to the Douglass place for Charlie Frey's.

LaVOY:  And so you got electricity earlier than the Valley?

HARRIGAN: Yeah. We were one of the rural early.

LaVOY:  Because you were close to .

HARRIGAN: We capped off on that line down there.

LaVOY:  Do you remember how much approximately you had to pay to have the electricity brought to the house?

HARRIGAN: Oh, Lord, there was so much a pole. They had to have one pole set up in the field. I think it was five dollars for that. That's about all. Maybe it was one month's electricity. I was just a little kid then. Heck, I was only seven, eight years old at that time.

LaVOY:  I think rural electrification came in during the Roosevelt administration about 1938 for the Rural REA. I'm not quite sure, but I think it was close to that. Another thing that I wanted to ask you, when you came out of service, who did you go to work for here in Fallon?

HARRIGAN: I went to work for Dodge down at the Island Ranch first, like an idiot. I was about half squirrely a-drinkin' till I got my head screwed on straight and met my wife.

LaVOY:  What did you do at the Dodge Island Ranch?

HARRIGAN: Oh, everything. Mowed hay, raked hay, welded. Repair work in the shop down there. They had a pretty good-sized shop. They had a lot of equipment.

LaVOY:  Were there a lot of people that were working down there that you remember their names?

HARRIGAN: Oh, I don't remember.

LaVOY:  Was there a Mr. Renfro that was there?

HARRIGAN: Oh, Charlie Renfro owned that place before Dodge got it, but he committed suicide. He was in debt deep to Dodges, and he committed suicide. That's shortly after my brother first went to work down there. He quit school in the sixth grade.

LaVOY:  Your brother?

HARRIGAN: Yeah. Whitey.

LaVOY:  Well, your father had problems with you two young ones, didn't he?

HARRIGAN: (laughing) Yeah.

LaVOY:  Did you work for a while for the Silver State Construction Company?

HARRIGAN: After Dodges sold out, why, I went to work. Joe Keller, a kid I played football with, and knew he was a welder there for Drumm, and I phoned him up and I said, "Joe, What's the chance for a job opening there at Drumms?" He says, "I got one guy here that can't weld. He can't run a flat-down hand bead. You come on in and go to work."

LaVOY: And this was right after you came back?

HARRIGAN: That was a year after. I spent a year down at the Island Ranch. I went in and worked for Drumm till he sold out and retired, and I think that was in 1963.

LaVOY: I've heard such wild stories about Andy Drumm.

HARRIGAN: You know, that was a false front. If you did your work, kept your mouth shut, and did what you was told, he was good. [End of tape 1] After I quit Dodges I went over to ask Joe about this job at Drumms, and he told me to come down and go to work. I worked for him until he sold out about three and a half years later, and I never had a moment's trouble with Drumm.

LaVOY: I understand he liked to drive quite rapidly.

HARRIGAN:Yeah. (laughing) I heard that, too. He did.

LaVOY:   And that he had an airplane, too, didn't he?

HARRIGAN: Yeah, he did. The first airplane that was ever landed out at the Navy base was Andy Drumm's. He hid it out there in the brush.

LaVOY: What do you mean he hid it out there in the brush?

HARRIGAN: The brush was so high he took a blade out there and a Caterpillar and bladed the brush off and made a private airstrip. The brush was high enough that it'd hide the plane. You didn't see it unless you walked right up on it.

LaVOY: Oh, and that's where he kept his private plane.

HARRIGAN: Yeah. That's where he had his own plane. That's before they opened up the experimental farm.          The experimental farm opened that airstrip there.

LaVOY: Oh! In other words, he literally had about the first airstrip in Fallon.

HARRIGAN: Yeah. Um-hum.

LaVOY:  Oh. I'm glad that you enjoyed working for him.

HARRIGAN: I did. The man was honest with me. I had no complaints. If you did your work and kept your mouth shut, he treated you good.

LaVOY:  How long had you been working for him when you met your wife?

HARRIGAN: I was working for Dodges when I met my wife 'cause I remember Vera and I going to a Dodge party every Christmas. In the summertime we'd have picnics up at Lahontan. I had a boat at that time, and we'd all get together, wife and kids.

LaVOY:  How did you happen to meet your wife?

HARRIGAN: (laughing) You won't believe this. She come up when she graduated from nursing school in Sacramento. She took her nurse's training at Sacramento, California hospital. When she graduated she come up, and she stayed with my cousin out there. Oatses. Stayed out there 'cause her folks knew the Oatses, and she come up here for a vacation. Louise Mills--that was after this picture's taken--and she involved Louise and my niece. Bub come out. She had met Vera, and they wanted somebody to go to the show with them. Like I say, I was working at the Island Ranch on the combine down there for them, and I was tired and dirty, and I said, "Naw, I gotta shave and take a bath. I don't wanta go." Louise talked me into it, going to this show, and it was a Charlie Chan mystery movie. Well, both of us lost interest in the movie as far as the movie was concerned right quick, so we began to take interest in one another. After the show was over, we come home, it was in August, I remember that. It was warm weather, a full moon. Sat on a hay wagon out there, and we talked till sun up in the morning. Time to go do the chores, and we had our life planned. She wanted four kids. I says I only want two. We settled for three. (laughing)

LaVOY:  (laughing) How soon after that did you marry?

HARRIGAN: We decided right that night.

LaVOY:  That you were going to get married.


LaVOY:  That must have been in August of 1947, then.

HARRIGAN: 1947. Um-hum. It was.

LaVOY:  Did she go back to Sacramento and work?

HARRIGAN: She went back. She had six-weeks schooling. Her mother wanted her to finish school, which I did, too. She was registered nurse and a good one. If it hadn't been for her, I'd be wearing a hook on that hand right there. When she finished school, we got married on February 15.

LaVOY:  1948?

HARRIGAN: Um-hum. 1948.

LaVOY:  Where were you married?

HARRIGAN: Sacramento. My dad and mother were married in Sacramento, and we were married at Oak Park Methodist Church, Sacremento.

LaVOY: Was most of your family there?

HARRIGAN: My two sisters, Vina and Cora, were there. Only ones of my family. Her family, there was over two hundred of them. A church full of them, and here I am among them strangers.

LaVOY: Where did you honeymoon?

HARRIGAN: Lake Tahoe for a day or two, Reno, then we come on home. My dad had passed away just a week [February 8, 1948] before we were married. A week to the day. He died sudden. Right here in the bedroom.

LaVOY: You brought your bride home, and where did you live?

HARRIGAN: Right here.

LaVOY: In this home at 6000 Harrigan?


LaVOY: Oh! You continued working for the Dodge Island people?

HARRIGAN: No, I quit about that time. Oh, before I got married, I'd quit there and I went to work back into construction. I went over there to talk to the guys one day, and Lee Cooper was saying, "Harrigan, you're back! How long you been home?" I said, "About a year." He says, "Why haven't you been down here workin'?" I says, "Heck, I've been tired. I wanted a vacation." He says, "Can you come back to work for us?" I says, "Sure, no reason why not if you want me." At that time there was a law passed that they had to give your job if it was available, and he says, "Yeah, you get in here quick as you can." So the next morning I went in and went to work. (laughing)

LaVOY:  For what company, now, again?

HARRIGAN: For Dodges. [Dodge Construction Co.]

LaVOY:  For Dodges again.


LaVOY:  Oh, I see.

HARRIGAN: There was only about a four-year lapse there between while I was in the service.

LaVOY:  So, when you came home from service you went to work again for Dodge, and then you . . .

HARRIGAN: Worked for them until they sold out.

LaVOY:  And that was about when?

HARRIGAN: 1958 or 1959. 1958, I think it was.

LaVOY:  Did your wife work, too?


LaVOY:  And where did she work?

HARRIGAN: She worked at the hospital off and on. Just filling in, and then she went to Elko. She got wind of this Home Health Service. And she went to Elko at her own expense, stayed up there for a week, ten days, got all the information on it. Then she come back and she and the Methodist minister's wife--I forget the lady's name [Mrs. Larry Doyle]--started the Home Health Service here in town.

LaVOY:  Oh, and that's a wonderful service. About when was that started? Just roughly. Do you recall?

HARRIGAN: Mmm, God. I don't know when it was she started that.

LaVOY:  Well, that's very admirable that she started that.

That's been such a help to the community here.

HARRIGAN: She started it.

LaVOY: There was something else that I thought that she was also responsible for starting here. I can't recall what it was right now, but then she nursed at the hospital and then she stayed home as a wife. Your mother was living with you?

HARRIGAN: For a while at first, yes, and then Mom wanted to go in town where most of her friends were around town with Vina. So Mom moved into town, and Vera and I stayed here at the place.

LaVOY: Did your mother live with Vina?

HARRIGAN: Yes. She lived with Vina until she got so bad they put her in a rest home. She died in a rest home [October 11, 1970].

LaVOY: Your first child was born in 1950?


LaVOY: And that is . .


LaVOY: Her name now is . .

HARRIGAN: Prettyman. She was married once before to Rich St. John, and that didn't work out, so they got divorced, and now she married Tom Prettyman.

LaVOY:  Four years later, you had a son?

HARRIGAN: Marvin. He's living here with me now.

LaVOY:  Oh, is he?

HARRIGAN: It's Kay's husband. They just married about two years ago.

LaVOY:  And what was Kay's maiden name?

HARRIGAN: Manning,

LaVOY:  He married Kay Manning?


LaVOY:  In June. And then your youngest is Sidney Ellen?


LaVOY:  And she's married to whom?

HARRIGAN: David Imeson.

LaVOY:  Are they all living in this area?

HARRIGAN: They live right out by the radio station.

LaVOY:  Oh, in other words, all three of your children are still . . .

HARRIGAN: Yeah. I'm lucky. They are all here.

LaVOY:  That is really very great for you. Your wife continued nursing while these children were all growing up and everything.

HARRIGAN: Oh, yes.

LaVOY:  And then after they left home, you and she were the only ones here on the ranch. Is that right?

HARRIGAN: We weren't very long. It wasn't too long by then Yvonne married and she moved in over . . .

LaVOY:  Did you have to take of the ranch yourself along with doing your work?

HARRIGAN: Yeah. I took care of the place.

LaVOY:  How in the world did you manage that working all day and then . . .

HARRIGAN: Oh, there's twenty-four hours in a day.

LaVOY:  Oh, yes, I know, but you really don't need to work all twenty-four hours.

HARRIGAN: It was damn near a case of work twenty-four hours to do what we wanted to do to it. We did a lot of changing in it.

LaVOY:  You had to irrigate.

HARRIGAN: Irrigate, put up the hay, work in town during the daytime, mow hay at night, bale hay at night.

LaVOY:  That's a very, very hard life.

HARRIGAN: Ah, I liked it.

LaVOY:  That's great that you did. Did you run cattle, too?

HARRIGAN: Oh, had a few head. Not very many, but a few.

LaVOY:  A lot of people fed cattle. Did you ever feed cattle?

HARRIGAN: No, I never did. Didn't have enough hay, big enough place to . . . My cousins down here fed cattle for Moffit, but I never did.

LaVOY:  Who were your cousins?

HARRIGAN: Ferguson. The Ferguson tribe on my dad's side. Sister’s boys.

LaVOY:  When did you finally retire from working so hard? I mean, working in town.

HARRIGAN: After Drumm sold out, I went to work for the county. I worked for the county for twelve years.

LaVOY:  Doing what?

HARRIGAN: County Road Department.

LaVOY:  Oh, and what did you do on the road department?

HARRIGAN: Oh, same thing I was doin' at Dodges. Weldin', runnin' a road grader, drivin' truck. Whatever there was to do.

LaVOY:  You did, and then came home and did all the work on the ranch.

HARRIGAN: Um-hum. It was easier then.

LaVOY:  Then when you retired, did you retire from the road . .

HARRIGAN: Yeah, the road department. I put twelve years in.

LaVOY:  I thought you had worked for T.C.I.D. [Truckee-Carson Irrigation District] for a little while, too.

HARRIGAN: I worked for T.C.I.D. one year. A year and three days. I remember that well. I didn't like the foreman at that time, and he accused me of lying. We went out and filled in a big washout. He had no idea how long it took to do a job. Frank Hornback and I were out there, and he come in, and he accused us of goofing off, hiding out. I said, "We weren't." Frank verified it. He told me I was lying to him. Frank Hornback picked him up by the back of his neck, and he says, "We ain't lying to you. We're telling you the truth." I says, "Lam, if you think I lie, I'll steal. I don't want to be accused of that, so I quit." I worked there a year and three days.

LaVOY:  And then you went to work for the highway?


LaVOY:  I understand. Well, I don't blame you. That's very unfair to charge you for something like that.

HARRIGAN: Another thing I would like to mention here, too, if it's okay with you. The wife was the instigator of the cross up on Rattlesnake Hill.

LaVOY:  Oh, really.


LaVOY:  When was that?

HARRIGAN: In 1976.

LaVOY:  Tell me a little bit about how she got it started and everything.

HARRIGAN: They took donations. It took about two years to gather enough money to buy the cross. To buy the iron. I got the iron wholesale. I knew the guy from Pittsburgh-Des Moines Steel, Hallecki. My wife talked to him about it, told him what we was going to do, and he give us the steel at cost. I welded it together and Rich St. John and I and Joe Lister, numerous other people, helped paint it and set it up. I knew Bill Saxton that lived here then. He brought his crane down from Lovelock. He had a road job up there. He brought it through, why, he set the cross up. We tried to set it up by helicopter.

LaVOY:  And they couldn't.

HARRIGAN: And they couldn't, so I got Saxton's crane to set it up.

LaVOY:  What prompted them to decide they wanted to put a cross on the hill?

HARRIGAN: There had been several crosses, wooden ones that were burned. They'd take chain saws to them or they'd burn them down.

LaVOY:  By "they", you mean vandals?

HARRIGAN: Yeah. Vera just took it on herself that she wanted to start it. I designed the lights for it, but that was her main goal. You know, when your wife gets involved in something, why, it's pretty hard for a guy to not help her.

LaVOY: I should say so. The cross is still standing.

HARRIGAN: Yeah. It's still up there. It should be lit every night.

LaVOY: That's just very, very admirable. When you completely retired from work, did you and your wife just spend your time out here?


LaVOY: Improving the ranch.

HARRIGAN: Yeah. Working on the place.

LaVOY: And raising your children and the whole thing.

HARRIGAN: Well, they were raised by then.

LaVOY: Since you had worked for so many years then you just put your energies on improving the ranch.

HARRIGAN: Improving the place.

LaVOY:And your last years together, I imagine, were very happy.

HARRIGAN: Really were.

LaVOY:  And she passed away when? August 1, 1994. And is buried here in Fallon?

HARRIGAN: Yes. Right over here in the family plot.

LaVOY:  Now, I notice that your family plot was in the IOOF [International Order of Odd Fellows] section of the cemetery. Was somebody in your family in years past a member of the Odd Fellows?

HARRIGAN: Dad was.

LaVOY:  Oh, I see, and that's why.

HARRIGAN: Yeah. The family plot was started then when he was in that.

LaVOY:  Did you belong to any organizations here in town?

HARRIGAN: When I come back, why, they got me to join the Eagles [Fraternal Order of Eagles]. I've had a lot of them ask me to go into the Veterans and I never did.

LaVOY:  What is REACT? I notice that you belong to that.

HARRIGAN: REACT? [REACT is emegency CB radio which he monitored for more than a year.]

LaVOY:  Your daughter had a note that said the Eagles and REACT.

HARRIGAN: I don't know.

LaVOY:I was not familiar with it. You don't recall what it was either.

HARRIGAN: (laughing) No. I don't know where she got that information.

LaVOY:  You and your wife would go to Eagle functions. What other things would you go to after you had retired and she had pretty much retired?

HARRIGAN: She was pretty religious, and we went to quite a few church . . .

LaVOY: Was that Methodist?

HARRIGAN: Methodist for a long time, and then, for some reason, she got involved in that Christian Life Center up there behind the Ford Garage, and I didn't like that minister there a-tall. Finally the wife got fed up with him, and she went to that church out at that where that lady minister was out at Rattlesnake Hill. They become good friends.

LaVOY: I'm not familiar with that.

HARRIGAN: And the wife used to sing in a choir for them. She could sing pretty good. She was in the Methodist choir and she sang in another choir that they had started around here. [Sweet Adelines] Margo Mills, I think, started a choir and Vera sang in it.

LaVOY: Is that the city music group that has a program every year?


LaVOY: Well, that's great.

HARRIGAN: Yeah, she liked to sing.

LaVOY:  I know it's very hard for you. Now that she has passed away, are you living here by yourself?

HARRIGAN: Well, till Kay and Marvin got married, I was living here for a little while. They were going together then. Kay was paying high rent for a wasn't-too-good a place in town. Trailer house, I understand, so they got married right out here under this rose trellis.

LaVOY:  Oh, in your yard.

HARRIGAN: Yeah. In the yard.

LaVOY:  And they're living with you now?


LaVOY:  When did your bad health start?

HARRIGAN: About two years ago.

LaVOY:  And your kidneys are just giving up on you.

HARRIGAN: Doctor says it's terminal

LaVOY:  Well, I'm certainly sorry to hear that.

HARRIGAN: He told the family. He took us all into his office. He wanted the kids to hear. They were all there. He told it like it is, and I give him credit for it. It's coming. This way a person prepares for it.

LaVOY:  Well, it's so very nice of you, being as ill as you are, to take the time to record this.

HARRIGAN: I'm glad to do it. If a person don't do it, people don't do it . . .

LaVOY:  Family stories just disappear.

HARRIGAN: They disappear.

LaVOY:  Well, I certainly want to thank you for taking the time because I know you are very ill, and on behalf of the Churchill County Museum, I do want to thank you for the interview.

HARRIGAN: You're sure welcome.

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Churchill County Museum Association , “David "Skip" Harrigan Oral History,” Churchill County Museum Digital Archive: Fallon, Nevada, accessed September 22, 2021, https://ccmuseum.omeka.net/items/show/381.