Sterling Lima Oral History

Dublin Core


Sterling Lima Oral History


Sterling Lima Oral History


Churchill County Museum Association


November 7, 1995


Analog Cassette Tape, Text File, Mp3 Audio



Oral History Item Type Metadata


Anita Erquiaga


Sterling Lima


2730 Lima Lane, Fallon, NV


Churchill County Oral History Project

an interview with


Fallon, Nevada

conducted by

Anita Erquiaga

November 7, 1995

This interview was transcribed by Glenda Price; edited by Norine Arciniega; final by Pat Boden; index by Gracie Viera; supervised by Myrl Nygren, Director of 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.

The interview took place on November 7, 1995, at Lima's home. He lives on a ranch at 2730 Lima Lane on the west side of the road. The roadway to his house is lined on both sides by very tall and very old cottonwood trees, at least two dozen on each side. This told me that the place has been there a long time.  He said he bought the ranch from George Theyer, and he (Sterling) is only the second owner of this very old ranch. I felt very comfortable and welcome in their lovely ranch house, and they have a big yard with more trees and pieces of antique farm machinery and wagon wheels.

The Limas appear to be rather private people, and he is very much a gentleman. He said he has never liked his first name, but after spending the afternoon there I left with the impression that he is a man of sterling character, befitting the name his mother gave him.

He laughs a lot as he talks about milking cows and the other work the children had to do, and he said it was fun growing up when he did. In 1996, he and Harriett will have been married sixty years. They have three children, nine grandchildren, and seventeen great grandchildren who will carry on the legacy of this interesting couple.

Interview with Sterling Lima

ERQUIAGA: This is Anita Erquiaga of the Churchill County Museum Oral History Program. Today is November 7, 1995, and I am interviewing Sterling Lima at his home at 2730 Lima Lane in Fallon. I'd like to thank you for taking the time to talk to me this afternoon and I hope you feel free to talk all you want about your memories of Churchill County and things that happened here while you were growing up. First thing I would like would be to have you give me your full name, your date of birth and your place of birth.

LIMA:    My name is Sterling Lima, I was born December 2nd, 1916, in Oakland, California.

ERQUIAGA: Your first name intrigues me. I'm curious, is that a family name or how did they happen to name you Sterling?

LIMA: Oh, it's an English name. My mother was English and Dutch and she thought that was cute, I guess. I've hated it all my life. (laughing)

ERQUIAGA: Oh, really, that's kind of a nice name; I thought maybe it was a family name. You were born in Oakland; were you born in a hospital or at home?

LIMA: At home.

ERQUIAGA: At home. Did the doctor come to your home?

LIMA: Oh, yes. Had a doctor there.

ERQUIAGA: Well, let's talk about your parents. What was your father's full name?

LIMA: My father's name was Frank Lima; my mother's name was Marguerite Remsen.

ERQUIAGA: Where was your father born?

LIMA: My father was born in Mendocino, California.

ERQUIAGA: Right there in California, and how about his parents were they from there too?

LIMA: No, his parents were born in the Azores Islands. They were Portuguese and they came by boat around the horn of Africa to the Hawaiian Islands where my grandfather was a superintendent on a sugar plantation, and from there they moved to Mendocino, California, where he worked in the lumber industry.

ERQUIAGA: Lumber, I see. So do you have any relatives that still live in the Azores?

LIMA:    Probably, but we don't have any contact with them.

ERQUIAGA: You haven't kept in touch with them, and your mother was born in California?

LIMA:    In Oakland, California.

ERQUTAGA: And where were her parents from?

LIMA:    Her parents were from Manhattan Island on the east coast.

ERQUIAGA: They were born in this country?

LIMA:    Oh, yes.

ERQUIAGA: I see. So how well did you know you grandparents, did you get to see very much of them?

LIMA:    No, I didn't. I knew my grandmother on my mother's side slightly, but she died when we was pretty young, and I never did know the other grandparents hardly at all.

ERQUIAGA: Well, you said your grandfather worked in the lumber in California, what did your father do down there?

LIMA:    He worked in the lumber.

ERQUTAGA: Right there in Mendocino?

LIMA:    Yes.

ERQUIAGA: Well, how did your parents meet?

LIMA:    Well, they met in Oakland, California.

ERQUIAGA: Did they go to school together?

LIMA:    No, they didn't go to school together.

ERQUIAGA: I don't know how people met if they didn't go to school together (laughing). So, what made them decide to come to Fallon after they were married?

LIMA:    Well, after they were raised there in Mendocino, my grandfather homesteaded over in Yerington, Nevada, and I guess they got word of the Fallon reclamation project being started about that time so my dad came over here and took up some land over here.

ERQUIAGA: He settled in Yerington first?

LIMA:    Yes.

ERQUIAGA: I see. Did they take up this land right here where you are?

LIMA:    No, they took it up on Lima Lane where Chet's place is now, that was the old original home place.

ERQUIAGA: That's on the east side of Lima Lane?

LIMA:    Yes, uh-huh.

ERQUIAGA: Did he buy that land from somebody or did he homestead?

LIMA:    Yes, he bought it from somebody. It was all sagebrush land, raw land.

ERQUIAGA: Is that right? How many acres did he get?

LIMA:    He originally started with 40 acres. And then he bought another farm to the south of him, adjoining, which was cultivated land.

ERQUIAGA: So how did he get that brush land into production?

LIMA:    Just kept working at it and leveling up some.

ERQUIAGA: Just with horses?

LIMA:    With horses and a little bit every year.

ERQUIAGA: Did he have all that when he came here or did he have to buy everything?

LIMA:    He had to buy everything. We had practically nothing when we came here.

ERQUIAGA: Do you have any idea how much he paid for 40 acres of brush land?

LIMA:    No, I don't. Haven't any idea.

ERQUIAGA: He didn't tell you all those things? And they had water to go with it or they were able to buy water to go with it?

LIMA:    He had to take out the water rights on the brush land.

ERQUIAGA: I see. And then just putting it in a little at a time, the hard way, with a team of horses.

LIMA:    Yes, that's right. It was the hard way too.

ERQUTAGA: Do you remember that you had to help with a lot of that?

LIMA:    Oh, yeah, we all had to help a little bit. Us boys were pretty young and we probably didn't give him much help about that time.

ERQUIAGA: Well, how did your parents make that trip from California over to Yerington, first; did they have several children by then?

LIMA:    No, I think they only had two children then. I think they came in on the railroad into Wabuska. My grandfather had already settled into Yerington about that time.

ERQUIAGA: So they didn't have to drive over, they came by train.

LIMA:    When we came into Fallon we came by car. We had moved back into California, and then when my dad decided to come to Fallon we came up by car. I'll still remember that trip, it took us three days in our old car to come from Oakland up to Fallon.

ERQUIAGA: Wow, what kind of a car did you have?

LIMA:    Oh, it was an old Chevy car. I think we made it to Placerville the first day and made it to Carson City the second and the third day we made it into Fallon.

ERQUIAGA: Were you able to bring any furniture or anything like that, just your clothes maybe?

LIMA:    We had some furniture and they shipped it on the railroad, and we didn't haul anything in the old car.

ERQUIAGA: People used the railroads more then than they do now, I guess.

LIMA:    Yes.

ERQUTAGA: Well, what year was that that you came to Fallon?

LIMA:    We first came in in 1921.

ERQUIAGA: And did your father know anything about irrigating, the way they did here in Fallon?

LIMA:    No, that was more or less new to him. When he first moved up here, he started in the bee business. He got some bees and started in the bee business, and after he built the house why we got a few cows and started milking a few cows like everybody else did.

ERQUIAGA: And so he just gradually learned about irrigating, maybe the neighbors helped him?

LIMA:    Well, when he bought the cultivated land to the south of the original 40 why he learned more or less about irrigating.

ERQUIAGA: How many work horses did you have?

LIMA:    We generally had four.

ERQUIAGA: And did you have to help take care of them or was that your dad's job?

LIMA:    Oh, yes. When we got old enough we all had to take care of them. Us boys all had saddle horses about that time.

ERQUIAGA: Besides the work horses?

LIMA:    Yes. And we rode the work horses too at times.

ERQUIAGA: Did any of them ever get sick, your work horses for instance?

LIMA:    Oh, I suppose they did, I don't remember.

ERQUIAGA: Don't remember what they did about it. Well, that would be kind of major if one of your work horses got sick. Well, how did he put up the hay? Was there a hay baler at that time?

LIMA:    Oh, no, it was all loose hay. Put up with the horses. Stacked into the stacks with a derrick,

ERQUIAGA: It was kind of a trick to get that hay stacked just right, wasn't it?

LIMA:    Oh, yes, yes.

ERQUIAGA: But your dad learned how to do that.

LIMA:    We all learned how to do that.

ERQUIAGA: You all learned. You all had to work. Did he have to hire outside help during haying time?

LIMA:    Sometimes he exchanged work with the neighbors. He worked for some of the neighbors haying and then they exchanged, they come over and helped him.

ERQUIAGA: You said that he built a house. Did your house have electricity?

LIMA:    No, not when we first built it, it was in the 1930's when they first started, brought electricity into the rural area.

ERQUIAGA: And you were without electricity until then.

LIMA:    Yes. We had kerosene lamps up until then.

ERQUIAGA: And how did you heat your house?

LIMA:    Heated it with wood and coal and cooked with wood stove.

ERQUIAGA: You had a wood burning cook stove? And then did you have another stove to heat it?

LIMA:    Yes. Had a heater that burnt coal in the winter times.

ERQUIAGA: Who had to cut and carry that wood in?

LIMA:    Well, I was one of them.

ERQUIAGA: You were one of them (laughing).

LIMA:    There was three of us boys about that age and we all carried the wood in.

ERQUIAGA: Did you have running water inside?

LIMA:    No. We had a pump out in the yard and we hauled it in with a bucket.

ERQUIAGA: Hand pump?

LIMA:    Yes.

ERQUIAGA: And that's how you pumped for your horses and cattle also?

LIMA:    Well, the horses and cattle we had a well up by the corrals and we pumped with a gasoline engine.

ERQUIAGA: Oh. It took more water for them probably.

LIMA:    Yes.

ERQUIAGA: Did your mother have a refrigerator?

LIMA:    Oh, no. Not in the early days (laughing).

ERQUIAGA: In the early days it was tough (laughing). What did they use, was there anything they used instead of a refrigerator an ice box or anything?

LIMA:    No. In the summer time they had what we called a desert cooler. It was just a frame built with sacks put around it; then we put water up in the top of it and let it drip down through the burlap. As it evaporated, it kept the butter and the milk cool. Never had any ice in it though. (laughing)

ERQUIAGA: Did you make your own butter?

LIMA:    Oh, yes.

ERQUTAGA: How many cows did you milk?

LIMA:    Oh, we milked---started out with two or three and then we finally were milking about twenty head.

ERQUIAGA: So what did you do with that milk then?

LIMA:    The cream, we separated the milk and took the cream and sold it into the creamery in town.

ERQUIAGA: Into the Fallon Creamery?

LIMA:    Well, they called it the Mutual Creamery at that time.

ERQUIAGA: It was down by the railroad tracks?

LIMA:    Yes, right by the railroad tracks.

ERQUIAGA: That was just a steady little income for all the farmers around here.

LIMA:    Yes, it was. It was what we depended on.

ERQUIAGA: Did your mother bake bread and all that stuff that they used to do on her wood burning stove?

LIMA:    Yes. She did everything on that.

ERQUIAGA: Did they have a garden?

LIMA:    Yes, had a garden every summer.

ERQUIAGA: A big one?

LIMA:    Yeah. We had to weed it, it seemed like it was awful big. That was another thing we had to do. Weed gardens, I'll never forget all those tomatoes my mother used to can from the garden. Ate 'em all winter long.

ERQUIAGA: I was wondering if she canned some of the stuff, well, then, did you have potatoes and carrots, things like that?

LIMA:    Well, potatoes.

ERQUIAGA: And how did you keep those, store them in the winter?

LIMA:    Well, we had a kind of a root cellar that we put them in and kept them in the winter time.

ERQUIAGA: When did you learn to milk cows?

LIMA:    Oh, when I was about eight years old.

ERQUIAGA: Did everybody milk, how about your sisters, did they do that?

LIMA:    No, sisters didn't. It was three of us boys old enough to milk and we milked the cows. The boys and my dad.

ERQUIAGA: About how long would it take you to milk in the morning?

LIMA:    Oh, I don't know, took us quite awhile sometime.

ERQUIAGA: And you had to do that before you went to school?

LIMA:    Oh, yeah. Did that before we went to school.

ERQUIAGA: And after you got home. Did you ever raise turkeys?

LIMA:    Yes, yeah, we raised turkeys. My dad started raising turkeys at one time, it was kind of a disaster the turkeys got a disease in 'em and I think it was more or less of a non-profit venture (laughing) by the time it was all over.

ERQUIAGA: Did you ever have any to sell before they got sick?

LIMA:    Oh, yeah, we sold some of 'em. Probably sold enough to pay for the feed and that was about all.

ERQUIAGA: Where did you sell them?

LIMA:    They had a turkey co-op here in town that bought the turkeys, and Kents used to buy a certain amount of turkeys every year.

ERQUIAGA: And did you have chickens?

LIMA:    Yes, we had chickens, enough for our eggs and that's about all.

ERQUIAGA: For you own use, huh?

LIMA:    Yes.

ERQUIAGA: Well, how about cantaloupes. Did you ever get in to that?

LIMA:    No, never did.

ERQUIAGA: Did you mother have to help with the outside chores?

LIMA:    No, she took care of some of the stuff in the garden, but she had plenty to do in the house.

ERQUIAGA: And I guess the sisters probably helped her.

LIMA:    Yeah, sisters helped her.

ERQUIAGA: Did any of you fellows have to help her in the house?

LIMA:    Oh, yeah, we used to have to wash to dishes sometimes, we kind of complained about it but we did it.

ERQUIAGA: But you learned how to do that anyway. Did your mother drive a car?

LIMA:    Yes.

ERQUIAGA: When she came here did she know how to drive a car?

LIMA:    Yes, she knew how to drive when she first came here.

ERQUIAGA: Oh. Your mother used to work for the newspaper. When and how did she start doing that?

LIMA:    Well, I don't know just what the story how she started that, but she worked there quite awhile and she was real good at it.

ERQUIAGA: She worked at the Fallon Standard?

LIMA:    Yes.

ERQUIAGA: Was that later when the children were bigger that she did that?

LIMA: Oh, yes, when we were bigger, yes.

ERQUIAGA: She was probably too busy before that. Did you parents belong to any organizations such as Farm Bureau or anything out here?

LIMA: Oh, yes, they were active in the Farm Bureau.

ERQUIAGA: Did they used to meet out here in Sheckler at the school house?

LIMA: At the old Sheckler school house.

ERQUIAGA: And then wasn't there a women's club out here, did she belong to that?

LIMA: Yes. My mother belonged to, I believe it was the Sheckler NN [Neighborly Neighbors] Club; she was one of the original organizers of that, some of the neighbors, and there was another club she belonged to, I don't remember the name of it now. Kind of a sewing club that met once in awhile.

ERQUIAGA: Well, did these groups have parties over here at the school house that you kids could go to, such as Christmas parties?

LIMA:    Yeah, the Farm Bureau did. Used to have Christmas parties and we used to have kinda dances and kind of a pot-luck food.

ERQUIAGA: Do you remember when they used to have Santa Claus downtown on Maine Street and all the kids would stand in line down there for a bag of candy or something?

LIMA:    I sure do.

ERQUIAGA: You used to go there for that?

LIMA:    Oh, yeah, yeah, we used to try to climb in the old car and head to town. It was kinda cold, we didn't have heaters in the cars, but my dad always took us in for the Christmas doings there at the Christmas tree.

ERQUIAGA: Oh, that's interesting. Did you get to go to the movies or anything like that?

LIMA:    Yes, we used to go to the movies quite a bit. Some of us kids, if we happened to save up a few dimes, we could take our saddle horses, ride our saddle horses into town and go to the afternoon matinee. And then on special occasions the whole family would go to the movies.

ERQUIAGA: What were your family Christmas celebrations like? Did you have a tree or anything of that sort, or dinner, family dinner?

LIMA:    Always a Christmas tree and always a turkey dinner or something like that. It was a family dinner, we always had a Christmas dinner.

ERQUIAGA: Where did you get your tree?

LIMA:    Well, sometimes we bought 'em, sometimes we took a cottonwood tree and hung up there, we always had something. (laughing) Anything worked as long as we had the ornaments on it.

ERQUIAGA: You probably made some of the ornaments, did you, or your mother did?

LIMA:    Yes, some of them were made.

ERQUIAGA: What kind of memories do you have of the Depression years?

LIMA:    Oh, I'll never forget the Depression. That taught me a lot. We didn't have any money and nobody else did either. My dad lost all of his cows during the Depression, he owed more at the bank than they finally ended up being worth, and he lost 'em. So we more or less had to start over again. It was pretty tough times, but we always had plenty to eat.

ERQUIAGA: You didn't lose your land, you were able to pay the taxes?

LIMA:    Yes, we didn't lose the land.

ERQUIAGA: But you lost all your cows.

LIMA:    Yes.

ERQUIAGA: And that was your income?

LIMA:    That was the income, us boys were getting up there where we could work a little bit around and help with the family. Money was pretty scarce.

ERQUIAGA: When you say you lost your cows, did you have to sell them because you couldn't feed them or . .

LIMA:    No, the bank took them back again. We couldn't make the payments.

ERQUIAGA: Those were pretty tough times. Some people said when they had cattle or any kind of animals that they couldn't sell them, did you have any of that kind of trouble, there was no market?

LIMA:    There was no market for calves or anything like that in those days. If you did sell them, they were real cheap. Sometimes if there was a--you had a calf you could trade it to somebody for a sack of spuds or something like that. Everybody kind of got along and worked together. Survived.

ERQUIAGA: But you hung on to your horses, to do the farm work?

LIMA:    Yes, we hung on the them. And we used to use them in the summer time to do our work and then we worked out with them. Maybe rented them out on some of the other ranches around.

ERQUIAGA: Did you ever sell any hay later on, after the Depression?

LIMA:    No, we never did sell much hay. After my dad lost the cows, well we finally started building back up again. We got a few head at a time, we never had much hay to sell.

ERQUIAGA: I see. I was going to ask you if you remembered when the Kent Company used to buy so much hay around here. But you didn't sell to them?

LIMA:    Oh, I sold hay from this farm I'm on now.

ERQUIAGA: Later on?

LIMA:    Later on. Yes, to Kents. I remember when Kents used to buy a lot of hay.

ERQUIAGA: Yeah, they were quite a good market for the hay. Well, I would like to get the names of your brothers and sisters here. Who was the oldest child in the family?

LIMA:    Wallace was the oldest.

ERQUIAGA: How much older was he than you?

LIMA:    He was two years older, then I was second, and then Elliott was third, he was two years younger than me, and there was a girl, Ruth, another two years back and then a boy Chet, and then Rosalie was the youngest. There was six of us. Six children.

ERQUTAGA: Neither of your sisters live here in Fallon do they?

LIMA:    No. One of them--Ruth lives in Walnut Creek in California and Rosalie lives over in Mason by Yerington.

ERQUIAGA: Oh. And then Wallace, did he work at the telephone company [Churchill County Telephone System] for a long time.

LIMA:    Yes.

ERQUIAGA: But he's passed away now?

LIMA:    Yes.

ERQUIAGA: And Elliott was...?

LIMA:    He was an educator, he was a school teacher and he's passed away.


LIMA:    Chet was in the farming business, and saddle making. He built saddles for a long time. He's retired now. He's living in Fallon here.

ERQUTAGA: Well, tell me about school. Where did you go to school all of you?

LIMA:    I started right out with the old high school [Stillwater and East Streets], there where the first and second grade was.

ERQUIAGA: That's where the Cottage Schools are now. You didn't go to Sheckler School, out here?

LIMA:    No. Sheckler School was all shut down when we came here. It was all in the Con B [Consolidated B School District].

ERQUIAGA: Oh, it was already closed down out here in 1922. So you rode the bus into the cottage schools.

LIMA:    That's right.

ERQUTAGA: Were those old busses kind of exciting?

LIMA:    (laughing) I guess they were. The roads were all dirt then, most of them were hardly even gravel then. In the winter time it was kind of an ordeal. The old busses never had a heaters; they had canvas side curtains over the windows. By the time we got to school we was pretty well froze up.

ERQUIAGA: How long did it take to get to school from here?

LIMA:    Oh, I don't remember, from here it was close to five miles. They never went very fast.

ERQUIAGA: And of course they had to stop all the time. Did you have to do chores when you got home from school?

LIMA:    Oh, yes.

ERQUIAGA: And before you went.

LIMA:    And before I went and after I got home. There was those cows to milk.

ERQUIAGA: There was no rest, huh. On school days (laughing).

LIMA:    Oh, yeah it had to be done. Then we had to haul that wood I was telling you about too. (laughing)

ERQUIAGA: Where did you get the wood, did you have to cut down trees around here or go down by the river?

LIMA:    Yeah, we cut down trees and in the winter time a bunch of the ranchers would get together and take their wagons and teams and go up on the river above Lahontan there and haul big loads in. We'd get it down in the yard then we'd have to cut it up.

ERQUIAGA: What else do you remember about your early days in school?

LIMA:    Well, nothing exciting, except that I still remember the teachers. We never… never did any… always kind of disciplined us, some of those teachers. They didn't put up with any (laughing) bad manners.

ERQUIAGA: They were pretty strict were they? (laughing)

LIMA:    Well, I went to first and second grade over at the old high school, and then second and third grade was over at West End, and then from there we went into Oats Park until we got into the eighth grade. In those days we had to split the first and second grade--all those grades were split. For instance, had high first, low first, high second, and low second.

ERQUIAGA: Now is that because some of them used to start in January, start school in January?

LIMA: Yes. Some of them started then, in January.

ERQUIAGA: They would start the first grade and then they were off from the rest of the group all of the time.

LIMA: Yes.

ERQUIAGA: Did you start in January?

LIMA: I think I did start, because when I graduated from grammar school, I graduated in the middle of the year. So I probably started in the . . .

ERQUIAGA: So that meant you went into high school in the middle of the year?

LIMA: In the middle of the year, yes.

ERQUIAGA: So did you finish in three and a half or four and a half years?

LIMA: Four and a half. When we first went into high school, like that first half year what we took was English and algebra and we studied them twice a day. We only took two subjects and we took them twice a day.

ERQUIAGA: Twice a day…

LIMA: And then we got two credits for it.

ERQUIAGA: Oh. What did you do in the evenings, did you have a lot of home work in those days?

LIMA: Well, yeah, we had quite a bit of home work but I didn't do much of it (laughing), I always had something else to occupy. We used to sit around and read mostly and then when we got the radio in, why we just listened to the radio.

ERQUIAGA: I was going to ask did you have a radio, when did you get that?

LIMA:    Oh, the radio, we didn't get that until into the 1930's when we got electricity into the place.

ERQUIAGA: So, did you skate around here in the winter time on these ditches or anything, ice skating, or things of that sort?

LIMA: Yes, yes we did.

ERQUIAGA: What else did you do for entertainment?

LIMA: Oh, in the winter time we trapped a few muskrats and tried to make a few dollars.

ERQUIAGA: Did you ever used to catch these birds, magpies, I couldn't think of the word? Didn't people make a little money with those sometimes?

LIMA: Yes. Yes, we did.

ERQUIAGA: Did you ever do that?

LIMA: Yes, in the spring time. [end of side A] Yeah, we used to get five cents a piece for those magpies.

ERQUIAGA: For the magpie heads or for the eggs?

LIMA: No, for the heads. Yeah, we'd wait till they hatched and go get the young birds before they could fly out of the nest. We made quite a few dollars .

ERQUIAGA: Who paid, is that the TCID [Truckee-Carson Irrigation District]?

LIMA: No, it was the county paid it. We used to have to turn them into the Sheriff's office and collect our money.

ERQUIAGA: Were there a lot of them and were they pests, is that why they did that?

LIMA: Well, I think more or less, the fish and game was in back of it. They were eating up all the duck eggs and pheasant eggs and they were trying to keep them under control.

ERQUIAGA: Did you ever trap gophers and save the tails?

LIMA:    Well, when we were growing up they didn't pay us a bounty on the tails, so we trapped 'em, but it was just to get rid of them off of the farm.

ERQUIAGA: Oh, so they wouldn't interfere with your irrigating.

LIMA:    There wasn't a bounty on them then.

ERQUIAGA: Well, when you were in high school you rode the bus to school just like you had always been doing.

LIMA:    Yes.

ERQUIAGA: And, did you ever drive a school bus or anybody in your family?

LIMA:    No, nobody ever drove.

ERQUIAGA: Did you play sports when you were in high school?

LIMA:    Yes, I played some football.

ERQUIAGA: How did you manage that when you had to practice after school, how could you . . .?

LIMA:    We had to practice after school, and then we had to walk home after we got done practicing because some of us didn't have a ride. And sometimes we'd catch a ride with somebody else going that way, but most of the time we had to walk home.

ERQUIAGA: You could walk home and still get your chores done?

LIMA:    Oh, yeah. Yeah, they saved the chores for us. (laughing) When my brother, Elliott, when he was younger, when he was playing football why he managed to save up enough money to buy an old car, so he didn't have to walk home too much. But that was after I'd left school.

ERQUIAGA: He was younger than you I see. When did you learn to drive a car?

LIMA:    Oh, when I was about sixteen years old. My dad felt brave enough to let us practice in the car. We only had one car, didn't dare wreck it. (laughing).

ERQUIAGA: Did he let you take it once in a while, to a football game or anything like that?

LIMA:    Oh, yeah. Let us take it to a dance or something like that.

ERQUIAGA: Did all of the kids learn to drive?

LIMA:    Yes.

ERQUIAGA: When did you get your first car, did you ever own a car while you were in school?

LIMA:    No, never did. I got my first car when I was nineteen years old. After I'd left home.

ERQUIAGA: After you were supporting yourself.

LIMA:    Yes.

ERQUIAGA: You saved your money and bought a car. Were you ever in 4-H?

LIMA:    Yes. Lots of years.

ERQUTAGA: Oh. What type of club were you in?

LIMA:    We raised calves.

ERQUIAGA: You raised calves, I see.

LIMA:    Calf club.

ERQUIAGA: Did you ever win any special awards or get to go any place with your group?

LIMA:    Oh, yeah. We used to go to the summer 4-H camps. They used to have them---in the early days they had them up at the University farm and then they moved them over to the University of Nevada campus. And then to Lake Tahoe in the later days. I won several awards on livestock judging and I think I got a big prize of two dollars one time (laughing).

ERQUIAGA: Probably was a big prize then (laughing). And did you sell your animals at the, did they have sales like they do now?

LIMA:    No.

ERQUIAGA: You didn't get those high prices?

LIMA:    No, we didn't get no high prices then.

ERQUIAGA: Did you go to those camps up at the University?

LIMA:    Yes, I went to about three, three different years.

ERQUIAGA: And you'd stay there for a couple of weeks in the summer?

LIMA:    Oh, we'd stay there for a week.

ERQUIAGA: A week, huh? What did you do while you were there, was it just for fun or did you do some studying too?

LIMA:    Oh, it was just fun. And then they had the contests, the livestock judging contests, but it was all fun.

ERQUIAGA: Well, that was good, I'll bet. A change from milking cows.

LIMA:    Yes. That was the main thing, get away from milking cows. (laughing)

ERQUIAGA: Well, when you were in high school did you take the ag [agriculture] classes?

LIMA:    No, I didn't.

ERQUIAGA: So you weren't ever in FFA [Future Farmers of America] or . . .?

LIMA:    No, I wasn't.

ERQUIAGA: Now, the children that were older--well, there was only one that was older than you, when he graduated from high school what did he do?

LIMA:    He didn't graduate from high school. He quit, he went one year and quit and then he went into working for the farms around.

ERQUIAGA: I see. Working on the ranches.

LIMA:    Working on the ranches.

ERQUIAGA: And then, when did you graduate from high school?

LIMA:    1935.

ERQUIAGA: And what did you do after you graduated?

LIMA:    I started working on the farms around. Then I left home the next summer and went to Winnemucca and worked on a ranch up there.

ERQUIAGA: On a ranch up there. How long were you up there?

LIMA:    I was up there about a year.

ERQUIAGA: Working on the ranch?

LIMA:    Yes.

ERQUIAGA: Did you ever do any other kind of work?

LIMA:    No, not up there. Not until I come back. I moved back--- by the way I got married when I was up there in Winnemucca.

ERQUIAGA: How did you meet your wife?

LIMA:    Well, I was working for her uncle.


LIMA:    And she was down visiting. I recognized a good thing when I saw it, so I married her.

ERQUIAGA: What was her uncle's name?

LIMA:    Perry Boyd. He was down here and he was farming down here in Fallon when I first met her.

ERQUIAGA: Oh, I see. And what was her name?

LIMA:    Her name was Harriett Thomsen.

ERQUIAGA: And I notice you spelled Harriett with two r's and two is and how do you spell Thomsen.

LIMA:    T-H-O-M-S-E-N.

ERQUIAGA: Did she grow up in Winnemucca?

LIMA:    Yes.

ERQUIAGA: Farm background, like you?

LIMA:    No, she was in town. She was originally raised on a cattle ranch out at Denio, and she moved into Winnemucca at an early age and they had--her dad was in the trucking business in Winnemucca. That's where she went to school.

ERQUIAGA: I see. And she came to visit her uncle and that's where you met her?

LIMA:    Yes.

ERQUIAGA: Then when did you get married?

LIMA:    I got married---oh, we went together about a year, we got married in Winnemucca and then I moved back to Fallon and went to work for Dodge Construction.

ERQUIAGA: I see. That's when you worked for Dodge Construction was after you have moved back to Fallon.

LIMA:    Yes.

ERQUIAGA: Well, this was you moved back to Fallon?

LIMA:    Yes, that's right.

ERQUIAGA: Where did you live here, did you live on this place?

LIMA:    No. No, my dad had a small house on the south end of his farm and we kind of fixed it up and lived in that.

ERQUIAGA: And you went to work for the Dodge Construction Company then?

LIMA:    Uh-hum.

ERQUIAGA: The Dodge Construction Company was a locally owned, good-sized construction company, wasn't it?

LIMA:    Oh, yes. It was one of the biggest in the state at that time.

ERQUIAGA: Who were the owners?

LIMA:    The Dodge brothers, Carl and Bob Dodge.

ERQUIAGA: Would that be Senator Carl Dodge's father?

LIMA:    Yeah, his father.

ERQUIAGA: And his brother, Bob?

LIMA:    And his brother Bob.

ERQUIAGA: I see. So what kind of work did you do with them?

LIMA:    I was a apprentice mechanic. I worked at that for three years, and then I finally got educated enough they sent me out on the construction jobs.

ERQUIAGA: I see, you learned to be a mechanic.

LIMA:    Yes.

ERQUIAGA: Working here in town on their equipment?

LIMA:    On their equipment. I worked on the Caterpillars and the heavy equipment.

ERQUIAGA: And then when they sent you out of town, what did you do with Harriett, did she stay here?

LIMA:    No, no, she went with me.

ERQUIAGA: What were some of the places where you lived?

LIMA:    We lived just about every place in the state.

ERQUIAGA: Is that right, did you have a mobile home or where did you stay?

LIMA:    No, for a while we'd rent whatever we could and finally we got a trailer and lived in the trailer. When we saved enough money to get a trailer that's what we did.

ERQUIAGA: Just followed from one job to another?

LIMA: Yes. Wherever Dodges…

ERQUIAGA: Spent most of your time away from Fallon, did you?

LIMA: Oh, yes. I think I moved, we were gone for probably fifteen years, I guess, out on the jobs.

ERQUIAGA: Oh, my, that was a long time. And you raised your children during that time. Did they go to school in different places every year?

LIMA: Yeah. They went to all kinds of schools. We did road jobs all over the state of Nevada.

ERQUIAGA: Even down in the southern part of the state?

LIMA: In the southern part and some in California.

ERQUIAGA: Really. How did your kids like that going to school some place different every year?

LIMA: Oh, they liked it. (laughing)

ERQUIAGA: Thought it was great, huh? (laughing) Harriett must have like it too.

LIMA: Well, she never complained about it, she always said she liked it. She was kind of glad when we bought this farm and moved home.

ERQUIAGA: What were some of the big jobs that you did with Dodge?

LIMA:    During the war, we were the first, built the first runway at the Fallon airport out here.

ERQUIAGA: Oh, is that right?

LIMA:    We built a runway at the Tonopah airport, we built a landing strip at Inyo-Kern, California, and then we worked several landing strips, one way down there by Caliente. We built road jobs, just about highway jobs all over the state. Elko, and up through the northern part of the state.

ERQUIAGA: How about this road from here to Reno. It was just a winding little path when I was young, then they put in a good road, did you work on that?

LIMA: No. No, Dodge's didn't build that road.

ERQUIAGA: Dodge's didn't do that.


ERQUIAGA: Well, that's interesting that they did these runways, I never gave much thought to how those happened to get there. (laughing)

LIMA:    Yeah.

ERQUIAGA: But you were the mechanic, you didn't drive the heavy equipment?

LIMA: No, I was the mechanic on it.

ERQUIAGA: So when did you decide to move back to Fallon then?

LIMA: Well, it was 1950 when we decided to move back, so I went to work in the shop. I was permanent in the shops from then on.

ERQUIAGA: You were still working with Dodge?

LIMA: I was still working for Dodge's. Yeah, I worked for them twenty-eight years.

ERQUIAGA: I see, and fifteen of that was out of town.

LIMA: Just about, yeah. And then I worked in the shop the rest of the time.

ERQUIAGA: I see, well, that was a long time that you worked. When you came back, was it to this ranch where you're living now?

LIMA: Yeah, we bought this ranch in 1943. While I was out on the road jobs, I rented it out. My dad farmed it, he leased it from me. And then when we moved back here in 1950, we moved here on this place.

ERQUTAGA: Oh, I see. But you still continued to work in the shop.

LIMA: Still continued to work in the shop there, yes.

ERQUIAGA: Did you go into the military service.?


ERQUIAGA: During the war, you were working for them.

LIMA: No, I didn't go into the military.

ERQUIAGA: Do you remember the hay lift that took place here in Fallon during that cold winter of 1948-49? You weren't living here yet.

LIMA: No, I wasn't living here, but we was working on a job over by Topaz Lake and I remember it well. My dad sold the hay off the ranch. They loaded it in the planes and hauled it over there by Ely some place.

ERQUIAGA: Did you know anybody that went with them on those trips to spot for them?

LIMA: Yes. Elmer Huckaby was one of them I knew well.

ERQUTAGA: Oh. It was quite an experience what they did.

LIMA: Yes, it was.

ERQUIAGA: Saved a lot of cattle. Well, when you were back here, you and your wife and your children were here, after 1950. You were running the farm and working for Dodges?

LIMA: No, I still had it rented out.

ERQUIAGA: Oh, you still had it rented out.

LIMA: I didn't take over the farm until probably -- pretty close to 1960. My dad decided to retire, so I decided to do it myself.

ERQUIAGA: Well, maybe you wouldn't remember the Fallon Farmers' Co-op then if you weren't farming yourself?

LIMA:    Yeah, I remember it.

ERQUIAGA: Do you remember that?

LIMA:    Yes.

ERQUIAGA: Did you buy feed there probably?

LIMA:    No. No, I never had much business dealing with them.

ERQUIAGA: Well, by this time you had your own family. Tell me about your children. Who they are and where do they live?

LIMA:    Oh, I raised three children. My daughter [Joan] is married to Skip Cann and they had the Creamland Dairy over there. And my son [Lloyd] broke him in on the mechanicking and he's out on the construction jobs.

ERQUIAGA: Oh, is that right?

LIMA:    Yeah, he's working on the jobs all over the country just like I did. And my other daughter (Janet) is in town right now, lives here in Fallon.

ERQUIAGA: And her name is?

LIMA:    Janet Mulligan

ERQUIAGA: And your oldest daughter's name is Joan?

LIMA:    Joan.

ERQUIAGA: That's married to Skip Cann, He's really Beale Cann, is that?

LIMA:    Yes.

ERQUIAGA: And they were involved in that Creamland Dairy, which was started by his family?

LIMA:    Yes. That's right.

ERQUIAGA: But now they've sold it?

LIMA:    Yes.

ERQUIAGA: And so what do your daughter and son-in-law do?

LIMA:    They're on vacation, they travel.

ERQUIAGA: Oh, do they? They're not farming or anything?

LIMA:    Oh, no. He's still got his farm, but they do a lot of traveling. They just got back from the east coast about a month ago, they've been back there all summer long. They'll get ready to go to Mexico about now.

ERQUIAGA: I see. And does your son live basically here in Fallon or does he just live wherever.

LIMA:    No. He lives in Golconda, Nevada. He just got a small place there and he works out of there on the jobs wherever he goes.

ERQUIAGA: Is he married?

LIMA:    Yes.

ERQUIAGA: And has a family.

LIMA:    Yes, he has three daughters.

ERQUIAGA: How many grandchildren do you have?

LIMA:    Oh, I knew you'd ask me that; let's see, I've got, nine grandkids and seventeen great-grandkids.

ERQUIAGA: Wow, you have great-grandkids, huh?

LIMA:    Oh, yeah.

ERQUIAGA: That many. You have a fine family to keep track of. No wonder you're not sure how many. (laughing)

LIMA:    (laughing)

ERQUIAGA: I know you've been awfully busy farming this summer, so we can't say you're retired, but do you have any spare time hobbies that you do?

LIMA:    Oh, yes, I have. I restore old cars. And my hobby is farming. After working on construction all those years, this farming I think I'm on vacation. (laughing)

ERQUIAGA: (laughing) Is that right?

LIMA:    Yes.

ERQUIAGA: Even though the hours are not regular?

LIMA:    Hours don't bother me. I'm just not under the pressure I was when I was working construction.


LIMA:    If I got something that's got to be done on the farm, if I can postpone it until tomorrow I do it, I couldn't do that when I was on construction.

ERQUIAGA: Was the pay pretty good when you were on construction?

LIMA:    Oh, yeah,

ERQUIAGA: For those days?

LIMA:    Yeah. It was real good.

ERQUTAGA: That's what kept you there?

LIMA:    Yes. The money was real good.

ERQUIAGA: Well, that was good. Are you a hunter or a fisherman?

LIMA:    I used to be, but it got to be too much work to go deer hunting, so I quit it. (laughing) Gave my gun away so I wouldn't be tempted again.

ERQUIAGA: Now, I know your wife is an artist, does she go along and paint while you fish or any of those things?

LIMA:    Oh, she paints sometimes. She goes out and sees a pretty view and she paints it when she gets home.

ERQUIAGA: Does she take a picture while she's out there?

LIMA:    Yes.

ERQUIAGA: That's nice that you can do that together. You said your dad didn't tell you stories about his youth when you were growing up.

LIMA:    No, he didn't tell us much.

ERQUIAGA: How about you, did you tell your children things about when you were growing up?

LIMA:    Oh, yeah.

ERQUIAGA: They were interested, huh?

LIMA:    Yeah.

ERQUIAGA: They seem to be, most of these kids, it's a different world.

LIMA:    When I was growing up I was pretty easy to trace. I lived right here around the state of Nevada most of the time, so they know about what I was doing. (laughing)

ERQUIAGA: Well, what else would you like to tell us about here, is there any thing else about your ...?

LIMA: Well, there's one thing that might be of interest. When we were young, in the summertime, and we got done haying and everything, why, we used to think it was a great deal to go out in the hills -- old Frank Casey-he used to have mustangs running out in the hills and we used to go out there and spend a week with him rounding 'em up and bringing them into Fallon. We thought that was a great vacation. After we'd get 'em into Fallon here we'd, he'd bring 'em into the corrals over to Jim Casey's, that's where Bill Lee lives [4195 St. Clair Road] now.


LIMA: And we used to have a kind of a rodeo there. Used to brand 'em and we'd try our skills at riding 'em. That was a big time for us in the summer time.

ERQUIAGA: How many horses would you round up?

LIMA: Oh, we'd generally bring in thirty, forty or so, something like that.

ERQUIAGA: And then did he sell them?

LIMA: He'd sell 'em. Uh-huh. Yeah, he run mustangs all over the south hills here and up around Lahontan. They were all semi-tamed horses. They belonged to him.

ERQUIAGA: Did you do any other rodeoing when you were growing up?

LIMA: No. No, I never did any of that.

ERQUIAGA: None of your children did either?


ERQUIAGA: Did your dad or you ever run cattle down at the government pasture?

LIMA:    Yes. We used to run, when we had the dairy stock, we used to run the dry stock down there in the summer time. The young heifers.

ERQUIAGA: Was there a little cowboying involved in getting them down there?

LIMA: Oh, yeah. Yeah, we used to have to drive them down the roads. I'll never forget the mosquitos used to be down there--just cover you with mosquitos when you'd go down there to round 'em up.

ERQUIAGA: Well, I always hear stories about rattlesnakes down there. Is that true?

LIMA:    No, I never did see any rattlesnakes down there.

ERQUIAGA: Well, if you don't have something else you'd like to tell us about, I guess we'll conclude our interview.

LIMA:    That's all I can think of. I've led a pretty peaceful life. (laughing)

ERQUIAGA: You didn't feel that you were over-worked as a child?

LIMA:    Oh, no.

ERQUIAGA: Some people do (laughing).

LIMA:    No, we weren't, none of us overworked. We had to do our share, but it was a good experience.

ERQUIAGA: You had fun growing up. Well, it's usually more fun when you have several children in the family, play together and all that. Well, okay, then I guess we'll conclude the interview, and I certainly do thank you.

LIMA:    You're welcome and I hope I was some help to you.

ERQUIAGA: Well, I think it will be interesting to somebody that comes along that wants to maybe do some research. That's why we do have it there available for anyone that wants to come along and learn something about Churchill County. Okay, that's the end of that.

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“Sterling Lima Oral History,” Churchill County Museum Digital Archive: Fallon, Nevada, accessed July 1, 2022,