Nina Kirn Kent Oral History

Dublin Core


Nina Kirn Kent Oral History


Nina Kirn Kent Oral History


Churchill County Museum Association


Churchill County Museum Association


September 16, 1994


Analog Cassette Tape, Text File, Mp3 Audio



Oral History Item Type Metadata

Original Format

Audio Cassette


1:02:41, 41:12


Churchill County Oral History Project

an interview with


Fallon, Nevada

conducted by

Sylvia Arden

September 16, 1994

This interview is part of the socioeconomic studies for Churchill County's Yucca Mountain Planning and Oversight Program.

© 1994

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.


Nina Kirn Kent's paternal grandparents were born in Baden, Germany. In order to avoid military service during the power wars in Germany, they immigrated to America in 1875 , settling in the German community of Golden Eagle, Illinois. Nina's father Fred, one of six children, later married Elizabeth Sebus. A friend wrote from Fallon encouraging them to move to Nevada, which they did, but had to return to Illinois when Elizabeth's father became ill. They had two sons by then, and three daughters were born during the interval back in Illinois, including Nina. When they returned to Fallon, two more daughters were born. The large family lived in a little house on Will Harmon's ranch where Fred Kirn worked. After a few years he was able to buy a small ranch of his own in the Harmon District.

Nina tells of living across the road from the old socialist colony. Despite her father forbidding her to go there, she was a very inquisitive little girl and went there whenever she could, visiting some of the older ladies. She describes what she remembers. Nina also tells about the growth of neighboring ranches and homesteaders as the Newlands Project was developing. She describes how the whole family helped on their ranch and also helped their neighbors at haying time. Nina started as a young girl driving the derrick team during haying. The family also had a dairy, selling the cream to a creamery in Fallon.

An innovative man, her father ran freight wagons with a team of horses out to Wonder and Fairview mines. He put up the first electric poles in the Harmon District and was elected county commissioner for several terms. An excellent shot, he took his sons hunting and later taught Nina's young son to hunt.

Nina, a tomboy, started riding horses bareback when she was six years old and tells about riding her horse to Harmon School. Basketball was always Nina's favorite playground activity and in high school she was on the basketball team. The Kirn children drove their Dad's automobile to high school in Fallon until there was a school bus.

Nina first met Ira Kent when she visited her brother who worked in the I. H. Kent Company store where Ira was the bookkeeper. They soon started dating. He took her fishing and hunting which she found fascinating. That has been their main hobby together ever since. When they married, they bought a house in Fallon where their first son was born. Ira gradually built up a herd of cattle on the Kent ranch in Stillwater. During the war he quit the store and they moved to the ranch into "a little old shack." Nina was reluctant to move to the ranch, and told Ira "The only way I will move back on the ranch is that I can have a car that I can go anytime I please." It was a long trip to Fallon, especially before the roads were all paved. The ranch is huge and the house is far from the main road. In 1946, with two sons by then, they built their rambling ranch home. Those were busy years for Nina, cooking three meals a day for the family and workmen.

Gary, their older son, couldn't work on the ranch due to hay fever and asthma. He became a national appraiser. Their younger son, Bruce, always took to ranching and now manages the ranch.

Nina had a major role in the development of the Churchill County Museum and Association. She tells in detail the early history of the museum, the collections of artifacts for exhibits and the association.


SYLVIA ARDEN: This is Sylvia Arden, interviewer for the Churchill County Oral History Project, interviewing Nina Kent at her home at 1333 Stillwater Road, Fallon, Nevada, September 16, 1994. Good morning, Nina. I'm so pleased that we have a chance to do an interview with you. We had a long one with Ira, so this will be briefer. Would you first tell us your full name?

NINA KENT: Nina Kirn Kent.

SA:         And where and when were you born?

NK:         I was born in [Golden Eagle], Illinois, November 18, 1913.

SA:         Do you know about your grandparents? Do you know where they lived or where they were born?

NK:         My grandparents were born in Germany. I didn’t know them, but they all settled in Beachville, Illinois.

SA:         Was there a German colony there?

NK:         There were a lot of German people and I think that’s what attracted them, therefore that’s why. [ED: this section is not in the interview, only the transcript “My [paternal] grandfather, Gustan Kirn, was born in Baden, Germany, October 30, 1847. In 1870 he married Catherine Hedalinger, who was also born in Baden, Germany, January 30, 1851. Germany was going through some power wars, so to get away from the constant military service, they decided in 1875 to come to America to a German settlement in Illinois known as Golden Eagle. They had six children, including Fred, my father.”]

SA:         Did your grandparents ever come out to Nevada?

NK:         No.

SA:         Now I want to know your father's name,

NK:         Frederick F. Kirn.

SA:         And where was he born?

NK:         Beechville, Illinois.

SA:         Do you know what year he was born?

NK:         October 25, 1884. He died when he was eighty-six years old.

SA:         And what was your mother's name before she married?

NK:         Elizabeth Louise Sebus.

SA:         And where was she born?

NK:         At the same place, Beechville. [January 28, 1883.]

SA:         Was your father married when he came to Nevada?

NK:         Yes.

SA:         So they married in Illinois?

NK:         They married in Illinois [in 1907].

SA:         Did they come before there were children in the family, or after there were children?

NK:         My father came first, I understand, then he sent for my mother to come out.

SA:         Okay, when your mother and father came, were there children in the family?

NK:         No, no children.

SA:         So they were all born here. 

NK:         No. Two boys, my two older brothers were born in Fallon. Then my mother’s father became very ill. My mother’s mother had died quite a few years before then, and then her father became ill with cancer. And so we had to go back and she had to take care of him.

SA:         So you went back to live in Illinois?

NK:         Uh-huh. That’s when the four girls were born.

SA:         Do you know what brought your father to Nevada on his first visit? Did he ever tell you?

NK:         At the time I have heard that there was a lot of tuberculosis amongst the people.

SA:         Where?

NK:         In Illinois. I think they came when Mr. Obbie Harrell, somewhat of a friend, wrote back there from Fallon.

SA:         So they were friends in Illinois?

NK:         Apparently.

SA:         Was it because of the Newlands Project? Had they heard about that?

NK:         No, no, no. They came to just establish a new home, that was all.

SA:         To establish a new home, was that during homesteading?

NK:         I don’t think they homesteaded.

SA:         And he hadn’t heard of the Newlands Project?

NK:         He just wanted to work for people.

SA:         In other words, there was work out here that he came to…

NK:         On ranches and different places, uh-huh.

SA:         And through this contact he heard about work.

NK:         Uh-huh.

SA:         How long did he stay here before he sent for your mother?

NK:         Oh, I think it was several months probably.

SA:         Fairly shortly after that, uh-huh. And when they both came out here where did they first live? What part of Nevada, do you know?

NK:         Well, they lived in Churchill County.

SA:         Did they ever tell you where they first lived?

NK:         [ED: This is another section that is only in the transctipt “First they lived in a small house owned by Obbie and Annie Harrell. Then Dad worked for Will Harmon and that is where Curtis and Philip were born--on the Harmon place. Then my mother's father became ill with cancer so they had to go back and she had to take care of him.”]

SA:         The first place they lived I think was on the old Post Ranch, which is out… it might be the Beach District. It’s out close to the Corkill ranch.

SA:         Did they rent it or did he homestead?

NK:         I think they just found the house to stay in and he worked for somebody.

SA:         Were there any children at that time?

NK:         Yes, the two boys.

SA:         So they had two boys that were born back in Illinois?

NK:         No, the two boys were born in Fallon.

SA:         Well, you didn’t get your dad to Fallon. When they first came, and they were on that first ranch here in Churchill County. Were they in Fallon before that?

NK:         No, they had the two boys after they got to Fallon.

SA:         Okay, but I still wanna stay in Churchill County. When they first came, your father was working on a ranch in Churchill County. And he sent for your mother.

NK:         Yes.

SA:         So we’re still in Churchill County, we’re not in Fallon. So at that time, when your mother first came, were there any children?

NK:         No.

SA:         Okay, that’s what I wanted to know. How long did your father work here in Churchill County? How long did your parents live here in Churchill County at that time?

NK:         Well, I would say . . . four or five years.

SA:         Did either of them talk to you about what life was like at that time? Did they ever tell you about it?

NK:         Well, my mother was lonely. She didn't like our mountains. She felt like she was very separated here. And she was frightened with the Indians.

SA:         Oh, there would be Indians?

NK:         There were no Indian camps in particular, but there were Indians that would come door-to-door.

SA:         Oh, for food or something?

NK:         Uh-huh. And sell fish and so forth. But she was so frightened of the Indians.

SA:         It was so different from Illinois.

NK:         Uh-huh.

SA:         Did she describe what it looked like at that time? Was it an early period, before the Newlands Project brought water, when it was pretty barren?

NK:         I'm sure it was.

SA:         Did your father talk to you at all about any of his work at that time, that very first time?

NK:         No, he just worked as a laborer for someone.

SA:         You said your parents and the two boys had to go back to Illinois. Tell me about that.

NK:         Yes, back to Illinois because my mother's father became ill with cancer, and so she had to take care of him. In the meantime, four girls were born.

SA:         Oh, so you were quite a while back in Illinois.

NK:         Oh yes, all the girls. Lucile, Alice, Teletha, Nina. My little sister was in Fallon. [ED: “Mildred was only two when she died.”]

SA:         Four girls and then they came back here. So maybe 10 years they were back?

NK:         Well, we were all two years apart. .

ARDEN:                What did your dad do when they went back to Illinois, work on ranches there?

KENT:    I presume.

SA:         Then did they have in mind always to come back out here?

NK:         Oh yes. As soon as her father died. . . .

SA:         Did your father have work to do when he came back?

NK:         My father came back, as I remember, my mother had a little money that she gave Dad.

SA:         From her father's estate?

NK:         And she asked him to buy her a real nice stove. So he came to Churchill County and instead of buying the stove, he thought he could make really good money by buying a team of horses and a little covered wagon and sell Watkin's products.

SA:         Now tell us what Watkin's products are.

NK:         Watkin's products were medical things like they had years ago, like cough medicines, and I think some of the old salves and things.

SA:         And tonics and things?

NK:         And tonics and things like that are still used. So you can imagine my mother's disappointment (laughter) when she came back and here was this Watkin's thing with no pretty stove. And then they moved- [tape cuts out]

SA:         . . . a business that was needed, without a lot of medical care here.

NK:         He thought so. I don't know how lucrative it was.

SA:         Where did they move then, when they came back?

NK:         They went to work for Mr. Will Harmon and they had a little house on Mr. Will Harmon's ranch, and he worked for him for quite a few years. Then he bought a small ranch of our own.

SA:         Now, with all that family, and it was a little house, it must have been a little hard for your mom.

NK:         Well, I guess it was. Then the ranch that we bought was an old. . . Well, I guess it wasn't that old, but it was a big old two-story building. So we moved there.

SA:         Where was that located?

NK:         In Harmon District.

SA:         Okay, that's not too far.

NK:         No,

SA:         And how many acres of land on the ranch?

NK:         I think we probably cultivated forty acres, and there was some that was uncultivated.

SA:         Now, what are your very earliest memories? When they moved into that house, how old were you then?

NK:         Oh, I was probably. . . . I don't have any memories of just moving into it.

SA:         Okay, so you were very young.

NK:         Very young.

SA:         What are your earliest memories? Maybe you're five or six or seven.

NK:         Well, I remember that we lived across the road from the old colony.

SA:         The socialist colony?

NK:         The socialist colony. And our father forbid us to go over there.

SA:         Oh, really?!

NK:         Oh yes! "Don't you go over there!"

SA:         Was it active then?

NK:         Oh yes. Oh yes, it was active then. I think his name was old Scott Harmon. He was a brother of the Harmon that he had worked for. But it was a promotional deal, I'm sure, and he did a lot of crooked work--I mean, took a lot of money from people and so forth. But my dad gave us orders that we were not to go over to the colony. But I was always very, very inquisitive. So I did manage to go over whenever I could.

SA:         Good!

NK:         But for some reason, I liked older people.

SA:         Really? That's unusual.

NK:         And I would go and visit a lot of the little old ladies.

SA:         How old were you when you started to do that?

NK:         Before I went to school--maybe five.

SA:         Really?! How long was that active while you lived across the street? How old were you when it finally phased out?

NK:         Well, let's see, I think by the time I went to school, by the time I became about seven years old, it was phased out by then. Some of the people were still living there, because it was their homes, but the colony as a group had left.

SA:         So I don't know how vivid your memories will be, but visually, what did it look like?

NK:         Well, the house still stands across the road, that the main Mr. Scott lived in. And then there were houses running parallel along the highway.

SA:         Right on the highway?

NK:         As it is, uh-huh. There were houses there. And there was a corral and a blacksmith's shop. Then farther back there were some more houses, and a Mrs. Hiibel lived there with her large family. Her husband died. They were there. I used to go see her. Then we crossed the street and just next door to our place, to the west, was another row of houses.

ARDEN:                Were they part of the colony?

KENT:    Yes.

SA:         So you were right in the middle, kind of.

NK:         Yes. The only part that wasn't colony was on the north and the east.

SA:         Now, how far apart were these houses?

NK:         Not really close.

SA:         So they had some land around each one?

NK:         Yes.

SA:         Did the people who lived in those houses, did they do any farming on their land? Or was it a commune farm?

NK:         It was a commune thing in some way, but I can't. . . . They must have farmed the ranch that was at the right--I mean the one that was next to our place, because that's the only farm that I know of.

SA:         Were there children? Were there young families with children?

NK:         Oh yes. One lady, a Mrs. Snyder, came. Her husband died, and she had a small baby at the time, and she lived in the blacksmith's shop. I can remember going over there and watching her start a fire in the old [forge].

SA:         And she was doing blacksmith work?

NK:         No, she was just heating water to bathe her baby.

SA:         Oh, there was no blacksmith there then?

NK:         Not at that time. There was probably one earlier than I can remember.

SA:         I see. Were there people living in all those houses at that time?

NK:         Yes.

SA:         So that's at the peak of the colony?

NK:         I would say it maybe was being phased out by that time.

SA:         Did the children go to school with you?

NK:         Yes, at the Harmon School.

SA:         Was there any difference between those kids and you? Were they raised in a different way?

NK:         No. Most of them were very nice people.

SA:         Just the same, they just got. . .

NK:         It was just the idea that my dad knew that it was a promotion, and he didn't want anything to do with it. And so therefore we weren't allowed. . . . But we did, when we could.

SA:         And probably there were more kids there than anywhere, because they had all those houses. Were they your closest neighbors?

NK:         Yes, they were our closest neighbors.

SA:         And except for the socialist colony, how far away were your other neighbors?

NK:         Well, we had, over on the highway--I don't know what they call it, Downs Kirn Lane or Downs Lane, there was a family we knew. And then on the Harmon Road there was some families we knew.

SA:         That is the period when you came, all during that period that the Newlands Project was developing. So even though, as a kid, you wouldn't know it was part of that, of course the development was all part of that Newlands Project.

NK:         Uh-huh.

ARDEN:                So were there families coming in at that time? Like after the socialists left, were there other people coming in? Because that's the period of additional homesteading and purchasing of ranches, because the irrigation was going strong.

KENT:    I would imagine there were some of them. Some of the families that were coming to join the colony, did buy ranches then, and homesteaded.

SA:         And other people that had nothing to do with the colony? Was the area, let's say, over a decade--from the time you were six until you were sixteen--was the area developing more?

NK:         Oh yes. With solid ranches, almost.

SA:         Tell me, from your observance, from the time you were little, what changes that you saw happening, particularly as you were getting older. Were there more trees, more animals, more crops? When you were old enough to observe more.

NK:         More trees. In a valley like this, there was very few animals--only what you had your dogs and cats and things.

SA:         It wasn't where on the ranches they had cattle, sheep, and pigs, and chickens, and turkeys?

NK:         Well, most of the people up there were farmers--they weren't ranchers. So they didn't have too many. They would have a few, just for eating and so forth.

SA:         Let's stay on your ranch now, as you were getting a little bit bigger. Was it a ranch or a farm?

NK:         It was a farm.

SA:         Tell me what that looked like, and what was happening there over the period of your childhood.

NK:         It was a very happy childhood.

SA:         Well, first I don't want to get to the homelife--I want to stay with the ranch, because we're interested in the development of the ranches and water. Then we'll get to the homelife. When your dad bought that, did it already have crops and was it developed? Or did he have to develop it?

KENT:    I think there were some crops on it, and so he had to develop some too.

ARDEN:                Were the ditches from the project near your land? Were you irrigating from the Newlands Project ditches?

NK:         I'm sure we did, yes.

SA:         Were they visible to you?

NK:         Oh yes.

SA:         So that was all part of the project. What did your father, as he started to develop your farm, what was there? What was he raising? Did you get any animals for your family?

NK:         We only raised enough animals for our eating.

SA:         Like what? And how many?

NK:         Oh, we would probably have a beef or two, or a couple of sheep. We raised a lot of turkeys and a lot of chickens. So therefore we had grain fields.

SA:         Was that just for yourselves, the turkeys and chickens?

NK:         No, we sold a lot of turkeys. But the chickens were more or less for ourselves.

SA:         For eggs and chickens?

NK:         Uh-huh. It wasn't a ranch large enough to support a large family, so my father still worked out a lot.

SA:         Where did he work? At other ranches?

NK:         Although he only went through grammar school, he put the first electric poles in. He and Alex Bauman put in the poles in the Harmon District.

SA:         Really?!

NK:         Uh-huh, that was put down through the valley.

SA:         Was he working for the company that installed these?

NK:         You had to work for them, uh-huh.

SA:         He knew how to do that.

NK:         Oh, in the meantime, too, another time, I guess when my father was. . . . This has to be going back to when he was out to the Post Ranch. My dad was running a team of horses. . . .

SA:         When was that?

NK:         That was when I told you they first came.

SA:         Okay, the Post Ranch.

NK:         He had the horses and he ran a string of horses out to the mines, to Wonder and Fairview.

SA:         You mean freight wagons with supplies from town?

NK:         Uh-huh.

SA:         Was that working for a company? Or doing that on his own?

NK:         Well, I guess he worked on his own doing that.

SA:         So he was innovative.

NK:         He was--very.

SA:         Especially if he took Watkin's over, he had ideas. Did that last long?

NK:         I don't think it did. I think when my mother got here, she rather discouraged it.

SA:         Did she finally get her stove?

NK:         Probably many years later.

SA:         You were young in your family. Did your older brothers do a lot of work on the little farm?

NK:         Yes.

SA:         Were they the ones who took care of it?

NK:         They did. They helped take care of it. And they also helped--on the small farms like that, we always helped our neighbors, we did work together at haying time. We would always go together and help cut the hay.

SA:         So that way you didn't have to hire people.

NK:         You didn't hire people.

SA:         You all helped each other?

NK:         You all helped each other put the hay up and so forth.

SA:         Now from your earliest memories, what were your first chores? Did you work out on the farm?

NK:         My first chores was my father wanted me to be a boy! (laughter) So my first things I did was to drive derrick while they were doing their haying.

SA:         You drove the derrick team?! You did that?!

NK:         Uh-huh, and I also did it for most of the neighbors around.

SA:         Oh my! So you were probably good.

NK:         Well, I thought—yeah, I was good! (laughter) I think I made twenty-five cents a day, and I even furnished my own horses. (laughter)

SA:         How old were you when you started this?

NK:         Oh, probably in the seventh and eighth grade.

SA:         Oh my goodness! Do you have any pictures of you on that?

NK:         No.

SA:         Oh, I'd love to have that!

NK:         No, we didn't have a lot of pictures.

SA:         Did he treat the girls just like the boys?

NK:         My dad was a wonderful father. My older sister was his beautiful daughter, and so therefore she more or less was to stay in the house with her mother and help do the cooking, you know, and so forth. So then my next sister, Alice, came along with me. And when I got a little older, then I drove wagon and she drove derrick.

SA:         Oh, for goodness sakes!

NK:         And we had a dairy. I don't know how many cows we had.

SA:         When did you start that? Later on the farm?

NK:         Well, as he got on there, he bought cattle as he could buy them.

SA:         About how many dairy cows?

NK:         Oh, maybe ten, twelve, or something like that.

SA:         Who milked?

NK:         Mostly my brothers. That's one thing he didn't allow the girls to do.

SA:         Oh really? Did they separate the cream?

NK:         We had a creamery in Fallon. Yes, we had a separator.

SA:         Did you have a separator on the farm, and you sold the cream?

NK:         Uh-huh, and we sold the cream to the creamery in Fallon.

SA:         Would they come for it, or you brought it there?

NK:         Oh no, we had to take it in to them.

SA:         Did that bring a little bit of income then?

NK:         Yes, some of our income, a lot of our grocery supplies. But my mother always had a beautiful garden. She raised all the berries, like strawberries and raspberries. She had corn, she had all the vegetables, and then she canned everything.

SA:         Did she have the girls help her?

NK:         She didn't get a lot of help from her girls, no. (chuckles) She was just a fabulous cook and I never know. . . When she first started washing clothes, I'm sure it was just with a washboard.

SA:         Did she ever hire an Indian woman?

NK:         Oh, no, never. No, there wasn't that kind of finances, on the small farms. But we didn't miss that, because my mother was such a tremendous cook. We had three large meals a day. That would be cereal and your bacon and eggs and fried potatoes.

SA:         Oh my!

NK:         And then for lunch we always had some kind of a meat and ended up with pie or cake. And then at dinner, the same way, with vegetables. But all of her vegetables and things she canned herself. And she made her own bread. Naturally, Monday was wash day, Tuesday was ironing day, Wednesday was bread-making day and so forth like that.

SA:         She was very organized.

NK:         Very! She had to be, she had to be.

SA:         A big family!

NK:         And you can imagine when her children, running home from school, with all of these loaves of bread, and every one of us- [End of tape 1 side A] We all had work to do. But when winter came along, we didn't have a lot to do. Most of us didn't care for dolls, but we liked paper dolls. So we'd go to the neighbors and find old Delineator magazines. [They] had such pretty girls in it and everything, we thought. So we would go and get all the magazines we could, and then we'd get wooden crates, and we'd collect all the old catalogs from people. They used to give wallpaper samples, if you remember, or little places to order samples.

ARDEN:                And you'd get samples?

KENT:    Then we would order those samples--that's what we would paper our little houses with, and so forth.

  1. That's how you got to do your house so beautiful, you practiced early! (laughter)

NK:         Well, we did pretty good. So one time we did an especially beautiful job on our house and we had an old cement block on the front step. So my father came in and said, "I think Lahontan Dam is running over. Let's go up and see it." So we all climbed in the car. . . .

SA:         What kind of car, do you remember?

NK:         Oakland. . . . and went up to the dam and we came back, and our goat had gotten into our doll house and eaten all of our furniture and our wallpaper and everything! I'll never forget it.

SA:         I want to go back to Lahontan Dam, because that's one of the things that we're interested in, in the project. How old were you when you went to see that? Or did you go a lot of times to Lahontan Dam?

NK:         No, we didn't go a lot of times.

SA:         About how old were you when he took you that day in the car?

NK:         Probably nine or ten.

SA:         What did it look like to you, do you remember?

NK:         Well, it was a beautiful structure, and l especially thought that the big round bulbs across the dam was really impressive.

SA:         The bridge?

NK:         The bridge, uh-huh--that was the most impressive to me.

SA:         When I saw it, I thought it looked like a bridge from Europe. (laughs)

NK:         Very much so. The lights were so--the bulbs--made it so pretty.

SA:         Did you see the water flowing over the dam?

NK:         Yes. That was a beautiful sight too. As I said, my eye was on the beautiful bulbs (laughter) across the dam.

SA:         You have an artistic sense. And then the goats ate all your. . . . Is that because you used a delicious paste to paste your wallpaper?

NK:         Oh, I think we made our own paste, probably, with flour.

SA:         They thought that was pretty good?

NK:         Oh yes.

SA:         You mentioned that you had turkeys on the ranch. First of all, about how many, and who took care of them?

NK:         Probably a couple hundred.

SA:         Oh, that many?

NK:         And we would have to in the summer time after my dad would do the combining, then we would have to drive the turkeys out into the field so they would feed out there.

SA:         Where were the turkeys when you had to drive them out?

NK:         We had them in a pen.

SA:         Did your father build the pens?

NK:         Oh yeah.

SA:         So all of you helped take them out? What do you do?

NK:         A couple girls at a time.

SA:         What would you do to drive them out to the fields?

NK          We'd use long willows, (laughter)

SA:         Kind of brush them along? (laughs)

NK:         If one turned back, it was just long enough that you can whip it around its neck and so forth. I thought I'd killed one, one day, and oh, I just, . . . "Oh, what am I gonna do?!" (laughter) But he got up and ran off again.

SA:         How did you get them back in the pens? Was that hard?

NK:         No. When they're fed, they'd want to come home.

SA:         They'd want to come home, okay. And who had the job of killing and dressing them?

NK:         My father and the boys.

SA:         Where did you sell them?

NK:         Kent Company, mostly. Another time, most of our turkeys. . . . My mother had a ruptured appendix and she was in St. Mary's Hospital for so long.

SA:         Oh! Is that in Reno?

NK:         Yes. And my father paid for most of her stay there with turkeys.

SA:         Oh, there wasn't medical insurance, huh?

NK:         Oh! Of course not! Of course not.

SA:         Now, how old were you when she had that operation?

NK:         I was probably a freshman in high school.

SA:         Did you all pitch in and take care of the house and the meals and everything?

NK:         Oh yes, oh yes.

SA:         You were all capable?

NK:         Yes.

SA:         That must have been hard.

NK:         My older sister and I used to. . . Mother rarely went to Fallon. When she did, the first thing my older sister and I would do is think, "Oh, must cook dinner for Mom while she's gone." So we'd go out and we'd get a chicken and we'd get its head cut off, finally, and pick it, you know. And then we would have fried chicken dinner for her when she came home.

SA:         How far was your ranch from Fallon?

NK:         Four miles.

SA:         And how long did it take to get there? Was it a dirt road?

NK:         I guess it was, and then a gravel, I think.

SA:         How did you get to Fallon?

NK:         Well, I guess in the first place, we had horse and buggy.

SA:         Do you remember riding into Fallon on the horse and buggy?

NK:         Every Sunday my mother would have Dad hitch the horse up, and we four girls would go to Sunday school.

SA:         Oh, just the girls?

NK:         Just the girls.

SA:         Not the boys?

NK:         The boys were always supposedly too busy, but the girls would take the little buggy and go. And we would probably be given a nickel for the (laughs) church, for Sunday school. Then we'd have it changed before we got there, so we'd have two pennies or something left to buy an all-day sucker to have on the way home! (laughter)

ARDEN:                Did you go into Fallon to shop for your shoes and supplies?

KENT:    Oh yes.

SA:         Would that be the whole family, or your mom and dad?

NK:         Mom and Dad usually went. We girls didn't care to go very much. There was four of us to play, and we just didn't care to go. We were happy enough to stay home. If we needed shoes, we had to go, or something like that.

SA:         It wasn't like, "Oh, boy, let's go!" Now, where did you start your elementary school?

NK:         At Harmon School.

SA:         How close was that to you?

NK:         That was about three miles.

SA:         How did you get there?

NK:         Well, in the mornings we would ride our horses. And then the two boys and our oldest sister wouldn't get out as early as me and my younger sister--Teletha hadn't started to school yet. And so we would walk home from school. And on this one occasion, we decided to take a cutoff across a field.

SA:         How old were you, about?

NK:         I must have been in the second grade, and she was in the first grade. We took this cutoff and went over this hill and a family by the name of Jones had little fox terrier dogs, and they attacked us over there.

SA:         Oh no!

NK:         We started to run, and both of 'em got my sister down, and I turned around and took my lunch pail and beat them off. And then they grabbed me right in the seat. (laughs)

SA:         Oh my!

NK:         But we got away from that unfortunate incident.

SA:         Weren't you scared?

NK:         Well, not so scared as just trying to save my sister and so forth.

SA:         Did you have to get tetanus shots?

NK:         Oh, not then you didn't. You didn't do that then.

SA:         You just took your chances! (gasps)

NK:         Your mother had medicine that they put on you, but the most embarrassing thing was when my mother would make me pull my dress up and my pants to show people where the dog bit me. (laughter) That's so clear yet, you can imagine.

SA:         Is that right? Oh my, [that made] an impression on you. Was it a one-room schoolhouse?

NK:         No, two-room,

SA:         And with such a big family, did you usually have some of your sisters in your room?

NK:         Yes. There was probably three in one room, and maybe three in another by that time. My older brother was probably in high school maybe.

SA:         And you just took all that for granted? There was no rivalry or anything?

NK:         No. Well, my brothers got a bright idea. One brother had a beautiful race horse, and he said, "You know, I am so tired of saddling these horses, we're going to hitch up the buggy and we're going to all go to school in the buggy tomorrow." So he hitched up the race horse to the buggy. We went to school just fine. Coming home that afternoon, the shaft broke and kept hitting the horse on the side, and he started to run away with us. I can still see my brothers pulling on those long reins, trying to. . . . And we'd come to this bridge, and we just kind of just leaped over the bridge. But he slowed down enough that it didn't turn over the buggy, and he ran us right straight home. I'll never forget it as long as I live, and oh! The boys were so frightened. And then the girls, kind of silly and giggly, thought it was fun, of course! (laughs)

SA:         You weren't scared?

NK:         No, not really.

SA:         You were real tomboys.

NK:         I was, especially.

SA:         How old were you when you first rode on a horse?

NK:         Oh, six years old.

SA:         Did you like that?

NK:         Oh yes. We herded cattle. We had to take the cattle out occasionally, along the roadside where the grasses would grow, you know, to places where water would come out, spill over a field or something. And we would herd the cows over there to make sure they ate. So we'd have to watch the cows and keep 'em off the road.

SA:         So you were cowgirls?

NK:         Yeah, to an extent. Bareback.

SA:         Oh my gosh! Who irrigated your ranch?

NK:         My dad. My mother irrigated her garden.

SA:         Did you ever watch the process?

NK:         You couldn't help but see it. I didn't pay any attention to it, no.

SA:         Would he flood the fields from the ditch? Did he have to call the ditch rider?

NK:         Oh, he always had to order water, yes, and then take it, because there were other ranchers on the same ditch. So you had to order it.

SA:         And would your father stay out there while the irrigation was going on?

NK:         Yes, on a forty-eight-acre ranch, it didn't take that long to irrigate.

SA:         Because he was farming forty acres. Was there ever a problem getting water? Or was there plenty then?

NK:         No, there was always plenty.

SA:         When he bought those forty acres, did it come with the water rights?

NK:         Yes.

SA:         So he had no problems?

NK:         So we had no problems with water rights.

SA:         Uh-huh, just paid for his water allotment.

NK:         The water and everything came with when he bought the ranch.

SA:         So moving along, how long did your father work at other jobs? Always? Besides the ranch?

NK:         Yes, he did other jobs. And my dad was elected county commissioner for two or three terms.

SA:         Is that right?! So he was a leader?

NK:         Yes, he was.

SA:         Tell me a little about him, the kind of a person [he was], as you remember him.

NK:         He was a wonderful shot. He loved to hunt, and liked to fish. The only ones that could go hunting and fishing with him was his boys. So the girls didn't get to go.

SA:         Not even fishing?

NK:         Well, once in a while. The only vacations we could ever afford was to go camping, you know--and then we could go fishing. But that was the only fishing we ever did. I never did any kind of sports until I married and had a family.

SA:         So your dad liked sports?

NK:         Oh yes, and he was an excellent shot. And then when my youngest son was about six years old, he used to come down and teach him to hunt. And my youngest son is just a fabulous shot.

SA:         Did he have a fun side to him?

NK:         Oh, yes! He was a wonderful father. I have to say that of all the years of childhood, I was only paddled once.

SA:         Did you deserve it?

NK:         Yes, I did.

SA:         What did you do?

NK:         Well, it didn't hurt, but I cried just to make him think it did. Well, my mother wanted to go to town--Mom and Dad--so they sent us out to do a chore out in the fields somewhere, and the corn had just got the silks on it, and it was so beautiful, these big red silky things. and so we was playing dolls--pick 'em, you know, and make dolls out of 'em, And we forgot all about coming home so Mother could go to town. We had to take care of the rest of the kids while they were gone.

SA:         Did you have a watch on?

NK:         Watch?! (laughter) Father had a watch, that was probably the only watch--maybe the brothers,

SA:         (laughs) Oh dear! And you were too far? They couldn't just yell? You weren't close enough to hear?

NK:         No. And then when we came home, we got a paddling. Mine didn't hurt, because I had this old dress on, you know, and I'd lean in. By the time she hit that dress. . . . (laughter) I don't think there's many people that had the fun childhood that I can say that we had. I'm just sorry that more kids of today can't have childhoods like that.

SA:         Did your mom have a fun side?

NK:         Oh yes. She was serious, but she still had a fun side--she still liked to do fun things. On Sundays we always had fried chicken and homemade ice cream and we invited people to come and have dinner with us.

SA:         Even with your big family?

NK:         Even with our large family.

SA:         Did your family have music in the house, or play games or go to dances?

NK:         Oh, my mother was musical in a way. She didn't have any lessons, but she could sit down to a piano and just play.

SA:         Really?! And you had a piano in the house?

NK:         Oh yes, she had this old piano. They came around with what they called a phonograph, and she bought this phonograph, and we still talk about it. We didn't get hardly any of what they would call popular music. She bought the most beautiful classical music for us to hear. It was just amazing.

SA:         (expressing admiration) Oh. And did any of your family go to the dances later?

NK:         Our father would always--before we had boyfriends--our father would always, when we became old enough to dance, our father would take us to the dances and wait right there. Sometimes he would have a dance with us.

SA:         Did he dance with your mother?

NK:         Oh yes! Yes, they always danced.

SA:         That sounds wonderful. Then when you went into high school, was that in Fallon?

NK:         Uh-huh.

SA:         How many of you kids—would you go together to school? Were there enough of you?

NK:         The first year we didn't have a bus—we drove to school. We had one car, and we had to drive to school. So that left Dad pretty much at home without an automobile. But then they had the school bus, so we started going on the school bus.

SA:         Since you said when you were young you didn't care much about going to Fallon, how did you feel when you started high school?

NK:         I think I was very shy at first. I was the smallest girl in high school, and I didn't like that. I was very skinny. In fact, my family used to call me "Skinny," and oh, I hate that word! I hate that word! But anyhow, at the time, I was very small. So during the summer, between my freshman year and my sophomore year, I said to my mother, "I have to do something to get growing and get larger. I don't want to be like this. Isn't there something I could take?" And she got cod liver oil, and I'm not kidding, I just took cod liver oil all summer long. And as much as I hated it. . .

SA:         Did it help you? (laughs)

NK:         It did! I grew to the height that I am now. It must have helped, or else I just naturally did it and blamed it onto that.

SA:         Well, whatever!

NK:         And I liked basketball. When I was in grammar school, all the other kids would want to play something else, and I always said, "No, I'm going to go out and shoot baskets." So I would go out and shoot baskets and play with the basketball.

SA:         Did you get on the high school basketball team?

NK:         I was on the basketball team, and I was an all-state forward for four years.

SA:         Do you have a picture of you on that?

NK:         I have it. It's in the high school album.

SA:         If there isn't enough time today, let's see if you can't get some of those to add to your transcript. That's wonderful. So you were athletic. Were there subjects that you liked and disliked in high school?

NK:         I took the commercial course, and I have to say I was not a good student, because I more or less thought of basketball most of the time. And I loved a good time. I started dating, and I liked my friends, partied a lot. Not really. We weren't allowed to go out-only Fridays you know, and weekends. We had a social life, yes.

SA:         When did you start going with Ira?

NK:         I was playing basketball, my brother was working at the store. He was working in what they called the "cash and carry" department, and Ira was in the office. I had this bright orange corduroy suit, which I thought was beautiful. He came out of the office and he walked by me and he looked at me and he said, "I don't like that suit!"

SA:         The first thing?! (laughs)

NK:         I said, "Well, that's alright, I'm the one that's wearing it, and I like it!" So [we] more or less got a little acquainted there. We'd go to dances, and he'd ask me to dance, and then it wasn't long until we started dating.

SA:         That's a cute story. When he came out and said that about your suit, were you friends yet?

NK:         No. I knew him, but. . . .

SA:         But you weren't going out with him.

NK:         I wasn't going out with him. He lived in Stillwater, see, and I lived in Harmon District. I knew him as he went by the road, but we didn't pay any attention to him.

SA:         Did he do it to tease you?

NK:         Oh, he must have had a fascination, or he wouldn't have bothered about. . . (laughter)

SA:         That's cute! How long did you date before you decided to marry?

NK:         Oh, I think we dated probably three years.

SA:         That's a long time, so you knew him really well.

NK:         Uh-huh.

SA:         Did you know that he was the one that you wanted to marry?

NK:         Not really.

SA:         Not until when? When did you both decide, "Well, this is it"?

NK:         I don't know, I think I dated other kids too. But I think the thing that fascinated me most with Ira was that he was more of a challenge to me.

SA:         What do you mean?

NK:         Well, I could never hunt or I could never fish--that wasn't part of the way I was brought up. But when we'd go on a date, or he wanted to know if I wanted to go fishing with him, why, he'd take me out and I was handed a fishing pole and he told me I had to put my own worm on the hook and so on and so forth. Then when it came to hunting time, he just handed me this gun and he said, "Well, you'd better start learning to hunt." That's really been our main hobby.

SA:         So that brought you into a new realm of life, that you felt you weren't able to do before?

NK:         Never, with any of the other friends that I had.

SA:         And here he treated you as an equal, as far as that, even though he was advanced.

NK:         Uh-huh.

SA:         He probably already knew he was going to marry you, if he wanted you to learn to hunt and fish.

NK:         Well, I don't know about that! (laughs)

SA:         So when did you finally marry? How old were you?

NK:         I was twenty-one.

SA:         That's young. Where and when did you marry?

NK:         We married on October 9, 1935.

SA:         Where were you married?

NK:         At his grandmother's and grandfather's home.

SA:         And where was that?

NK:         In Fallon.

SA:         They lived in town, in Fallon?

NK:         Uh-huh.

SA:         Was it a big wedding? You had big families.

NK:         No, it was a small wedding. I don't know why we decided very suddenly that we guess we should get married, and we set the date. At that time my mother and dad had gone back to Illinois on a visit. And when we set the date for my wedding, I tried to call them on the phone, and I couldn't reach them, so I sent them a telegram. I just knew that they would be back for that. Well, they weren't. So anyhow, Hammy's grandmother just insisted anyhow, we had to have our marriage at her house. He lived there, see. He was the bookkeeper. . . .

SA:         Oh, okay. Was it a nice house?

NK:         Well, at that time it was a nice house, yes. It was one of the nicer homes in Fallon. So I have to say. . . . They always talk about a happy bride. I think I cried, though, the night before, because my mother and father didn't get home. (laughs)

SA:         Oh, how sad. Did they feel hurt?

KENT:    No. No, after we told them that we had tried to contact them, that we'd sent them a telegram and also letters.

SA:         How long were they away?

NK:         They were away about a month.

SA:         Oh, a long time, okay. Where did you live when you first married?

NK:         In Fallon. He was a bookkeeper at the I.H. Kent Company.

SA:         I see. Did you rent a house or a room?

NK:         We bought a house.

SA:         You bought a house?

NK:         We bought a house.

SA:         Where?

NK:         On Churchill Street, not far from the high school.

SA:         And how long did you live in that house?

NK:         Oh, our first son was born while we lived in that house.

SA:         How long after you married was he born?

NK:         Oh, let's see. . . . He was born in 1938, so he was born while we lived in that first little house.

SA:         So what did you do during your early years of marriage? Did you keep the home fire burning?

NK:         I tried to work. I was working at J.C. Penney's, and I tried working. But it didn't work out very good, because at noon Hammy--Ira--would get off a little earlier and I wouldn't. He'd say, "I'll go home and fix lunch." We ate toasted cheese sandwiches until at Christmastime I decided I'd eaten all the toasted cheese sandwiches I could eat for a lifetime. And that's when I decided to quit working.

SA:         Then you started your family?

NK:         And started our family.

SA:         When did you move out here to this ranch and build this beautiful home?

NK:         I can't remember the exact year. We moved out into a little house. It was during the war. Ira wanted to enlist in the service, and being there in the office, whenever we'd have a few dollars, why, Ira would buy a cow or two, you know, and would bring it out to the ranch. So we had built up quite a little herd, and I never dreamed that I would. . . . Because I always said that I would never marry a rancher.

SA:         Oh really?!

NK:         Uh-huh. Isn't that funny? I said I'd lived on a ranch all my life.

SA:         And you didn't want to do it again.

NK:         I wanted to live in town for a change! So anyhow, we had those cattle, and he was going to enlist and his father said, "Alright, if you enlist, you gotta sell all your cattle and everything, because I will not take care of them."

SA:         This was in about 1940, 1941?

NK:         That was the wartime, uh-huh. So he said, "Alright." So he quit the store, he quit there and we moved onto the ranch.

SA:         He didn't enlist then?

NK:         No, he didn't enlist, because after trying to build up a little herd, and planning on that. . .

SA:         And they didn't draft him because he was a father and a rancher?

NK:         They didn't draft him.

SA:         How did you feel? Did you want to move onto the ranch? Did you come kicking and screaming? Or did you decide. . . .

NK:         I didn't come kicking and screaming--I just didn't want to live too close to his parents.

SA:         So you had your own little house?

NK:         We lived in a place, a little old shack that was kind of a cook house, for a while, until we finally built this house.

SA:         And what year did you build this house? [End of tape 1]

NK:         In 1946. By that time, I had two boys. Our youngest boy was born when we lived in the little shack up here--and it was a shack, really.

SA:         What was your first boy's name?

NK:         Gary [Hamlin Kent, born July 17, 1938].

SA:         And your second?

NK:         Bruce [K. Kent, born May 26, 1945].

SA:         How did you plan and have this house built? What kind of an ordeal was that, way out here?

NK:         It was a terrible ordeal. You couldn't buy things. My husband was still trying to work part-time in town, managing the lumber yard and so forth. And so we had to buy lumber as we could get it. We hired one of the men that was working on the ranch to do most of the carpenter work.

SA:         Who drew up the plans for the house?

NK:         Well, we decided how we wanted it, and his cousin, who lived in Reno, was more or less a, . . .

SA:         An architect?

NK:         An architect. And so she just drew raw plans for us, and we went from that. Then we just didn't have a "real" blueprint.

SA:         Yeah. You knew the kind of things you wanted.

NK:         We just wanted a rambling ranch home.

SA:         How did they get [the materials] here? The roads are pretty rough coming into your area here from the main road, from Stillwater Road.

NK:         Oh, well, it's nothing.

SA:         The trucks could do it?

NK:         Yeah, sure.

SA:         Where did you order your furniture from?

NK:         Our first furniture was some that we brought with us from town. We didn't have very much furniture, and then I think we bought some of our furniture in Reno. I don't remember the store.

SA:         That's okay. You'd go into Reno, and they would deliver?

NK:         Here, uh-huh.

SA:         They were used to delivering on these rural roads? (laughs)

NK:         Uh-huh. Well, we didn't furnish the whole thing at one time.

SA:         But you got your stove early--not like your mother. (laughter)

NK:         Oh! He made sure that I had my stove.

SA:         Once you got settled into the new house, did you then find living out on the ranch a nice way of living?

NK:         Yes, because I had my two boys. I thought it was a very good way to raise my children. I had 'em away from. . . . You can see how far we live away from other families. We really had close touch with our children.

SA:         You had two sons. Is that your family?

NK:         Uh-huh.

SA:         That's a nice family. So now because I'm not going to go all through the years of your marriage--we have the development of the ranch from Ira--except if there's anything that you want to add before we move to the museum, about your life out here. It's such a gorgeous area, I think--it's so beautiful.

NK:         Well, we have a lot of hunters come down, you know, and hunt with us, are invited down to hunt. There used to be a lot of pheasants on the ranch. We always had a big pheasant hunt. We didn't feed the pheasant. I always cooked a big dinner on the opening of the pheasant season and invited friends from Reno and around to come and hunt on opening day.

SA:         Would that be once a year?

NK:         Once a year, uh-huh.

SA:         When you moved out here, was there plentiful wildlife? Or did it slow down?

NK:         There was a lot of pheasant and quail. My husband, as you know, planted chukar, though. It was a rather hard life, too, at first, because I had, along with raising two boys, I cooked for the men.

SA:         Oh, the workers? How many workers?

NK:         Oh, sometimes there would be, like when they combined, when they were doing the baling, there would probably be seven or eight people here. And the rest of the time, maybe two or three.

SA:         So you got to appreciate your mom more (chuckles) who cooked for that many every day!

NK:         Yes.

SA:         Oh my! So that kept you pretty tied-down, getting the meals.

NK:         Oh, yes! Three meals a day, besides raising two boys!

SA:         There was no bridge playing then! (laughs)

NK:         No, not hardly.

SA:         So it was a real busy life.

NK:         It was very busy.

SA:         You're pretty far from Fallon. Did you always have a car so that if you wanted to get in, you could get in?

NK:         Yes, I always had. That was the only agreement I had. When I moved on the ranch with my husband I said, "The only way I will move back on the ranch is that I can have a car that I can go anytime I please."

SA:         That was a good arrangement! (chuckles)

NK:         And so we always did have a good car--we had a car and a pickup.

SA:         So you could always go into town if you needed to shop or just get away and visit.

NK:         Yes.

SA:         What about in winter? Does it get snowed-in or some times when you can't go?

NK:         We had several years. . . . One year, we had so much rain, my oldest boy was in the first grade, and he was riding his little horse to school. The mud was so deep in here, you couldn't get in with your car, and I couldn't get out with mine. And so he had to ride-supposedly he'd ride his pony. Bruce, the youngest one, was too small to be out there. We were running out there, trying to catch this pony in the field, and thank goodness his grandfather came down with the truck and picked Gary up and took him to school. Then we started putting gravel on the road. And we must have graveled on this road for many, many years before we got enough gravel that would hold up. You know, that moisture wouldn't make it muddy.

SA:         I bet you wish it would rain some more now!

NK:         Oh! Oh, I wish it would rain.

SA:         That was a very busy time--busy for both of you. What did your boys do when they grew up? Did they stay on the ranch? Did they work here on the ranch?

NK:         No, our oldest boy had a lot of hay fever and asthma. I took him to a specialist in Reno and we, through doctoring and so forth, did get it very much under control. So when he graduated from high school, we insisted he had to go to college, because we said ranch life was not for him.

SA:         That was practical advice.

NK:         Yes. So we had two schools we wanted to send him to: either Stanford or Southern Cal[ifornia]. So he went to Southern Cal.

SA:         He must have been a good student.

NK:         Yes, he was, he was a good student. And he graduated from Southern Cal.

SA:         What did he major in?

NK:         First he majored in engineering, and after two years of majoring in engineering, he called one day and said, "Mom, I'm going to come home. I've got to make up my mind what I want to be in engineering. Here I've studied all this time, and I have no idea what I want to do." I said, "Well, I can't see coming home at midterm. That's wrong. You probably won't want to go back. I disapprove of it. If you will let me talk to your advisor first. . . ."

SA:         Good advice.

NK:         So, he got his advisor to call me on the phone, and he said, "I advise you to have Gary come home for a semester, and he can make up his mind exactly what he wants to do." So Hammy put him to work on the ranch--really hard work, too, levelling dirt.

SA:         (laughter) Smart parents!

NK:         He went back and decided he wanted business administration. I have to tell this, because it's kind of amusing. He took these aptitude tests when he left, and he took two of them, and they said he was exceedingly high in dramatics. And he couldn't understand why that would ever show up. And so then he worked all summer and then went back, and they said, ''Now we want you to take those tests again." The same thing turned out--dramatics was his highest thing. Of course, he didn't study it. I wish... But by changing his course from engineering to business administration, he lost. . . . There was no electives left, so he couldn't pursue that. I would liked to have had him pursue it. Although, I have to say, nowadays, I think maybe. . . .

ARDEN:                Tough to make a living.

KENT:    It's tough to make a living. But I mean, it's helping his business now, in that way. He's an MAI, which is an internationally recognized professional organization. He lives in Las Vegas.

SA:         What do they appraise?

NK:         Well, he appraises commercial buildings, hotels, etc.

SA:         Oh, okay--not jewelry and things like that. Business appraisal.

NK:         Real estate appraisal.

SA:         Business buildings and. . . .

NK:         Uh-huh.

SA:         What does MAI stand for?

NK:         Member of the Appraisal Institute.

SA:         So he has a good position?

NK:         It's just about as high as you can get. So, actually, he has the highest degree in his field.

SA:         And does the drama come in because of his personality?

NK:         Drama comes into his personality, because he has to testify in court as a professional witness.

SA:         Oh, he's a witness in court.

NK:         He has to defend his appraisal. And they said that he's unbeatable.

SA:         Okay, so there he's in public, speaking.

NK:         It's good. He had to go to New York. They called him to New York one time too, because of his appraisal. His wife went with him, and they had a friend back there. So Barbara, his wife, got to go traveling that day. But Gary went to court, sat there all day long, and then when it was his turn, the judge says, "Mr. Kent, I understand (chuckles) you're very excellent at your. . . ." How did he put it? "We accept your appraisal as given." And he said here he sat all day, and then got up and walked out.

SA:         So he developed a wonderful reputation.

NK:         Yeah.

SA:         You said "with his wife," so obviously he's married. Do they have children?

NK:         Yes, they have two daughters.

SA:         The girls that you didn't have.

NK:         Uh-huh.

SA:         Then tell me about your other son.

NK:         Our youngest son was really a little ranch boy. When he graduated from high school we said, "Well, you do have to go to college, you know." "Well," he said, "if I could go to Alaska, I'll go to college there." And I said, "Well, if that's what you want, but that's terribly cold. I don't think you'd like it." "Yes, I want to go to Alaska."

SA:         Is that because of his love of hunting?

NK:         I think so, his love of hunting. So I got all the information, and started making decisions with him. "No, no, I don't want to go to Alaska. I want to be a gunsmith." "Well," I said, "nothing wrong with that. So we'll start looking for a good place to send you to learn gunsmithing." So we did find a place in Klamath Falls, Oregon, and had all the arrangements made. No, he decided he didn't. . . . You see, he didn't want to leave the ranch.

SA:         (with understanding) Oh! (laughs)

NK:         And so he changed his mind there. And I said, "Alright, there's no alternative, you're going to the University of Nevada, then.

SA:         Oh, that's smart.

NK:         So he went up for a year, came home, and he said, "That is not for me. I'm going to stay on the ranch. That's all there is to it." And I admire him for it. He's been on the ranch ever since. He manages the ranch now, which I think is the best thing in the world, and I'm very proud of him for doing it. He's a good one, too.

SA:         Is he married?

NK:         He's married and has two daughters too. (laughter) We have no grandsons.

SA:         How old are his daughters?

NK:         Bruce's: twenty-one and twenty-six.

SA:         Where are they?

NK:         The youngest one is in Reno, working for Hertz. She’s going to be married in November. And the oldest girl was married to a boy in Alaska, and he was a pilot. He was killed just a year ago last week.

SA:         Oh my goodness.

NK:         So she came home and she's home now.

SA:         Is she living here now?

NK:         She's living here now. And Gary's two daughters: the youngest one has gone through college and she has studied to be an appraiser.

SA:         Oh, good!

NK:         When Gary moved to Las Vegas, he built his own business. At the time, she was quite small, but he said he's going to bring Heidi into the office. So his Heidi graduated from UNLV at Christmastime last year, and she works full-time for her dad now. Of course she's got to work a long time before she becomes an MAI, but she can do good appraisals. And his oldest daughter, she was going to the University in Reno and she was going to marry this one boy, and thank goodness she didn’t marry him, and she went home and she worked for a while. Then all of a sudden she decided she wanted to go back and finish her education, so she, this will be her last year. But two weeks ago we went down for her wedding, so she’s married now.

SA:         You have a growing family, and a nice family. Now what I want to get into, at the last portion of the interview, I understand from the Churchill County Museum, the major role that you had in that development. So starting from your very first interest or connection, tell me about that, because it's very important to know.

NK:         Alright. Mr. [Alex] Oser was a wealthy businessman from Newport Beach, California, and he bought some property from us for a hunting club. That was good for duck hunting. Then when it froze up and we had goose hunting, then he always brought his hunters on the ranch and hunted geese here on the ranch. He was here, I guess, five or six years. In the meantime, he had given a lot of money to the University of Utah, and also to Occidental College in Los Angeles. And so we was talking to him one day and we said, "You own a lot of property in Fallon now. I think it would be a nice idea if you could do something for Fallon." "Well," he said, "I'll have to think about it. I'll see about what can we do." So the next time he came hunting he said, "I understand that old Safeway building [1050 S. Maine] is for sale." And naturally, that was good for his business too--I guess for his income tax--to donate these things. Anyhow, he said, "I can get the old Safeway building. What do you have in mind?" And I said, "We need a library. In the worst way we need a library." And so he said, "Well, I'm not sure that I can get it, but if you will come down to Newport Beach, I’ll have this head man from San Francisco come down, and you'll meet him down there." And so I flew down, and I met Mr. Callachan.

ARDEN:                Did you go yourself?

KENT:    Yes.

SA:         Really? Good for you!

NK:         And I talked to him, and how we needed a library.

SA:         Now what was this man's name?

NK:         Callachan. So by the time we got his word then, that they would sell the building to Mr. Oser for that, we found out that Friends for the Library had already made--had an organization going, and they had enough money to build their own. And so I said, "Well, we really need a museum." He doubted my word. He said, "You, you, you. . . . Fallon couldn't support a museum!" And I said, "Oh yes it can! You have no idea the beautiful things we have in Fallon-especially in Indian things." And so I got an appointment with Mr. Luke one time--he [Mr. Callachan] was coming up here to go hunting. And so I told him I was going to take him up and show him Mr. Luke's- He liked my arrowheads too. I showed him Mr. Luke's collection. Right then, he thought, "Oh, we must preserve that in some way."

SA:         Where was that collection?

NK:         It was at George Luke's home, in his home.

SA:         You took him over to Luke's home?

NK:         I got an appointment and took him out to see George Luke. And so there was some time--it took a little while, going back and forth, but finally George did say he would leave his collection to the museum. So then we got this museum, but. . .

SA:         So you got the Safeway for the museum?

NK:         Safeway gave it to us, finally, for the museum. But we didn't have any organization. The only way we could have a museum is because there had to be an organization.

SA:         So in other words, when you were doing all this, you were starting the very beginning of all this.

NK:         Very beginning.

SA:         Now, the Safeway--in other words, this man Oser bought the Safeway? And then Oser gave the building, not Safeway, right?

NK:         Oser gave it.

SA:         Oser donated it, okay.

NK:         Oser donated it.

SA:         But then somebody had to create a museum out of the building.

NK:         Well, first we had to find an organization that was interested in a museum. So I had heard that Grace Kendrick, Willie Capucci, Bud Berney, and Sam Beeghly were just talking about how they might buy the old Nichols House, to see if they could start a museum.

SA:         Do you know what year all this started? About when you started with all this, with the Safeway? Probably can get that at the museum. [Deed to Safeway store accepted by County Commissioner Chairman Warren Hursh May 12, 1967.]

NK:         I think you can get that at the museum. I finally heard that this group was trying to go. So I met with them, and I said, "If we can swing this large building, Safeway, will you support it? And can we become an organization?" So we got together and they said, yes, they would. So then we had to go before the county commissioners and prove. . .

SA:         Oh my! Is any of this in writing, with minutes or anything?

NK:         The commissioners have pictures of it. Yeah, there's pictures there in your old newspapers--there's pictures of that, of where we went to the county commissioners and got permission then, to start this museum. But there was no money appropriated for a museum yet. But I have to say Willie Capucci is one of the greatest go-getters I have ever known. Between all of us, we just scrounged everything we could scrounge together.

SA:         Did you form an organization?

NK:         Yes, we had to have it, we had to form an organization.

SA:         Now how did you do that? Did you call a meeting? Did you put notices?

NK:         We called a meeting and went down to the building. When Safeway moved out of the building, they weren't careful about moving their display trays, and they had great big gouges in the floor, torn up. The roof leaked, and there were big puddles of water all over on the floor.

SA:         (expressing compassion) Oh.

NK:         I can remember Bud Berney and I got there first, and we unlocked the door and looked at it, and I said, "My God, what'll we do with this thing?! What are we getting into?" And so then the others came and we looked it over. Then they said we had to set up some bylaws.

SA:         How many came when you called the meeting to form an organization? How many people?

NK:         That was those people right there--at first. And then we invited others to come in--or we had to have a larger board than that, you know, to start with. And so then we went to the county commissioners and said that we had an organization that would support this thing. And we went from there. The first meeting, "What in the world are we going to do with it?" We went in and we looked around. You know how when you get to thinking about what we want to do to these things. . . . Well, Willie Capucci, the first thing he said was, "Well, the north side we're going to put all in glass cases for beautiful dishes and things." He had a lot of those things. And Grace Kendrick said, "I want sandboxes" to fix some of the old things that was found off the desert, and Indian things. And Bud wanted to partition the part that's a kitchen and all those things. He wanted to partition that off and make it an office. And I said, "Oh, no, you'll ruin it then. I want to keep that part, and I want an old-fashioned kitchen, and I want an old-fashioned living room, and an old-fashioned so forth over there.' And we just mapped it out in our minds.

SA:         Isn't that something?!

NK:         And then for labor, they sent down prisoners from the jail.

SA:         Now who's "they"? Did the county get involved now that they saw you were starting?

NK:         The County. Warren Hursh was a county commissioner, and he was on the board also, and he was extremely helpful in things we might need, and things that we could--probably scraps, maybe from building something, that he could send down to the museum for us or something. And so Warren was a very fine gentleman.

SA:         Is he the one who arranged for the prisoners to come for labor?

NK:         Well, Willie actually must have gone to the mayor or somebody to see if he couldn't use the prisoners down there.

SA:         Did they have someone to supervise the prisoners?

NK:         Oh yes, at all times, all times.

SA:         Who supervised the prisoners to tell them what kind of work you wanted done?

NK:         Willie.

SA:         Willie, okay. By then everyone had agreed what should be done inside?

NK:         Uh-huh.

SA:         Did the county commissioners allot county funds to help, once they saw you get moving?

NK:         Well, they finally appropriated money, but not a lot. We were supposed to be just as self-supporting as possible. It's changed a great deal now, because the county does have a lot of help there now. But we had very, very little help.

SA:         How did you start to develop the organization? Did you form a board and then publicize it and have membership drives? Or how did you develop it?

NK:         Yes, we did, we formed a board [board of trustees] and we added Wayne Mills to our board and- [End of tape 2 side A. Transcript says she also lists Laverne Howard and Alfred Luke.]

SA:         So from that start, how long did it take to get an organization going and to develop it where it was a museum that could be opened up to the public? About how long a period?

NK:         Ummmm.

SA:         Because that's a lot of work.

NK:         That was a lot of work, but I would say six to seven months, maybe.

SA:         That's a miracle!

NK:         It was a miracle, because there was a lot of work to be done. Of course a lot of the work went on after that too.

SA:         Now, did they have volunteer staff at first?

NK:         Oh yes, everything was volunteer.

SA:         Volunteer docents and volunteers who would create the exhibits?

NK:         We all took our friends in to help wash windows and scrub floors.

SA:         It was kind of fun, though, wasn't it?

NK:         It was, it was.

SA:         Developing something so important.

NK:         Uh-huh, it was.

SA:         Did you start to do fund raising?

NK:         We did go before several of the fund raising organizations, like the Kiwanis. . . .

SA:         Oh yes, Rotary.

NK:         And Rotary and so forth. And so they did start helping.

SA:         They were supportive?

NK:         Supportive of it, uh-huh.

SA:         Did you then put out a call for artifacts and things to put in the museum?

NK:         Yes. I think we more or less, all of us. . . .

SA:         Had things?

NK:         Went around and found things that we wanted in the museum.

SA:         Was it incorporated? Did you have official papers later?

NK:         Oh yes! Yes, yes, we had to do that,

SA:         And who took care of that? Did you have a friend attorney?

NK:         Grace Kendrick did most of the work on that. I don't remember who the district attorney was at that time.

SA:         So you had community support?

NK:         We had community support, yes we did.

SA:         I'm going to have to get dates, because I need to have dates. Get that at the museum.

NK:         Yeah.

SA:         When did they finally reach a stage where it was so busy they had to begin to hire staff?

NK:         I think within a year, we had one curator.

SA:         And the county gave that salary?

NK:         A very small. .

SA:         Small salary, yes. That's amazing.

NK:         She did all the janitor work--everything.

SA:         Oh my. Tell me how it started to develop more.

NK:         Then we got Doris Drumm interested in it. First she was not interested--she didn't think it was possible. But we slowly got Doris Drumm interested in coming down there and seeing what we had. She was a tremendous… Well, she really lived there then. The large stones out in the front that has the petroglyphs--her husband [Andrew Drumm Jr.] was a contractor, and he sent his equipment out, picked those up, and hauled them in there and put them in. He always said, "I'm so happy that you got Doris interested in this. At least I know where she is now." (Arden laughs) So I have to say that she wasn't in there long until she was kind of running the show--which was great.

SA:         Did she become like a president of the organization?

NK:         No, she didn't want to be the president.

SA:         It's just a miracle, what's created, because being in the museum field and traveling, I think it's the finest rural area museum I've ever come across--you know, what it's developed into.

NK:         Grace Kendrick and I went over and paid a visit to some of the Indians over in Gardnerville and asked about artifacts. We tried to get a war bonnet, but we never did. Now that you can't get eagle feathers any more, that was impossible. We have some small kind of--they're not imitation, but they're really not the genuine war bonnet like we would liked to have had. But Doris had a friend--I think she lived in Hawthorne--and if you go in there over by the Indian artifacts, up on the wall, is a large fishnet that is made of some kind of a weed, I guess, and woven and so forth. She told Doris that she was going to put that in the museum, and that we was never to allow anyone to come and pick it up. I haven't been in for quite a long time--I'm sure it's still there.

SA:         So for you, you lived pretty far out. You must have been traipsing up and back on these roads to do all that work that you were doing on the development.

NK:         I did a lot. I stayed on the board for, oh, maybe ten years. Finally I decided that. . . . Well, then people started to say they wished that there would be more people. They thought that we was trying to get too many prestigious people on the board. I said it really wasn't that idea--it was people who was really interested.

SA:         Well, people who knew how to get collections, knew how to get things done.

NK:         Uh-huh. And I resigned. I was president for two years, but I did resign and thought I'd like to see some new blood come in there. It was a good idea.

SA:         Did they start to get new. . . .

NK:         Oh yes, they've done lots of building outdoors. And since I've left there, they've built that other large building for the machinery and the buggies and things.

SA:         And they got Woodliff's little store.

NK:         Well, we worked on that while I was on there.

SA:         You helped get that, uh-huh.

NK:         That was a long, long project also.

SA:         Oh my, that's a fabulous contribution to this area, because I think the museum makes Fallon. . . . Well, it's a cultural center, it's an educational center, it's the historical center of Churchill County.

NK:         I think it is too.

SA:         It's very important, and with the archives, and with the photograph collection, and the oral history now. My feeling is, it's really a key part of this region.

NK:         Uh-huh, I think it is. And it's going to stay there. I mean, it's here for good. I wouldn't be surprised if some day they may build a larger museum.

SA:         Or add to that.

NK:         Or add to that.

SA:         You've got a lot of land yet around it. There's still some room.

NK:         Some room. Sometimes, you can enlarge things too large for a small community.

SA:         Yes. I'm sure it would just stay in that area, because it's so well developed.

NK:         Oh!--I'm a lifetime member. I was presented with a lifetime membership—honorary.

SA:         And they publish a wonderful publication, In Focus.

NK:         Yes, they do.

SA:         So you really need to be congratulated because--well, I wouldn't even be in Fallon if there wasn't the museum and organization!

NK:         Really?!

SA:         Because that's how I started, was with a small grant at the museum to help develop the oral history. So I'm very grateful to you!

NK:         Well, we really are happy with it. As I said, I've always wanted to take a back seat, because I didn't do it for publicity or anything like that. It was just our desire to preserve the things that we had in Fallon.

SA:         Wonderful! And I'm so glad that we got this recorded, because this is important. I'm sure there are clippings and so on, but this is from your voice, this is your telling it. Is there anything more on the museum that you want to put on record or talk about, from that early period? I'm sure the donor. . . . Did he still come up hunting? Did he ever get to see the results of his gift?

NK:         Oh! Oh, he visited often--nearly every time he came into Fallon, he was out there. And then we had a beautiful dedication, and he and his wife both came up for the dedication. She was presented with a large bouquet of flowers and so forth. And that's when we had the plaque made out in the front, "Donated by Mr. and Mrs. Alex Oser,

SA:         That's just a wonderful bit of history that's important. I'm so happy I'm the one that recorded it, because I have such a warm spot in my heart for that museum and organization.

NK:         Well, I do too. I don't go in a lot any more, but. . . One reason I quit is because this was a long, long ways for me to go from here to Fallon and back--and at night! We never had day meetings. And by myself. So it wasn't a good idea. And I wanted to have some new blood in there, because everyone has different ideas. Most of the original ideas are still there.

SA:         Well, because they were good ones!

NK:         Well, we hope they were.

SA:         Now, have we covered everything?

NK:         I think we've covered everything.

SA:         Well, I want to thank you so much for your contributions to the Churchill County Oral History Project. You've added new things that we didn't have before. So on behalf of the project, I want to thank you, and this is the end of the interview.


Sylvia Arden


Nina Kent


1333 Stillwater Road, Fallon, Nevada



Nina Kent.PNG
Nina Kent Oral History.docx
Kent, Nina recording 2 of 2.mp3
Kent, Nina recording 1 of 2.mp3


Churchill County Museum Association, “Nina Kirn Kent Oral History,” Churchill County Museum Digital Archive: Fallon, Nevada, accessed May 23, 2024,