Frances Ward Aguirre Oral History
Oral History Item Type Metadata
Churchill County Oral History Project
an interview with
FRANCES WARD AGUIRRE
May 9, 1996
This interview was transcribed by Glenda Price; edited by Norma Morgan; final by Pat Boden; index by Gracie Viera; supervised by Myrl Nygren, Director of 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.
Interview with Frances Louise Elizabeth Ward Aguirre
ERQUIAGA: This is Anita Erquiaga of the Churchill County Museum Oral History Program. Today is May 9, 1996, and I am interviewing Frances Aguirre at her home at 880 Stains Road. Frances, I want to thank you for letting me come to your home to do this interview today. I know that you have devoted a great deal of your life to helping others and doing things for others, and we would like to hear about this from you. Let's start by having you give me your full name and date of birth.
AGUIRRE: My name is Frances Louise Elizabeth Ward--that was my maiden name--Aguirre.
ERQUIAGA: Sounds like several names there. That's good. And your date of birth and place of birth.
AGUIRRE: September 30 in Lincoln, Nebraska, and I was the seventh child out of ten children that my mother had.
ERQUIAGA: September 30. And what year was that?
AGUIRRE: In 1909.
ERQUIAGA: In Lincoln Nebraska. And how long did you live there?
AGUIRRE: Until I come out here to Nevada from the time I was born.
ERQUIAGA: You lived there all the time. What year did you come out here?
AGUIRRE: I came out to Nevada in 1928.
ERQUIAGA: How did you happen to come out here?
AGUIRRE: Well, my mother and stepfather were living in McGill, Nevada, and I was training in the hospital in Omaha, and they sent me a ticket to come out. Well, I wanted to see my mother. Fourteen years. (laughing) They gave me up when I was little, see, they had troubles.
ERQUIAGA: You hadn't seen her for fourteen years?
ERQUIAGA: That must have been a rather joyful reunion for you then.
AGUIRRE: It wasn't exactly what I thought. I always pictured my mother being, just only being four years old, that she was a lady that sat in the chair rocking, and she was beautiful. I had pictures, you know, in my mind what she would look like, and when I come out, I found she was a very stout person, and oh, her ideals and my ideals didn't coincide. That was all, but she was a good mother in her own way.
ERQUIAGA: What was her maiden name?
AGUIRRE: Her maiden name was Mary Ella Shannahan. They called her Mamie, and she was born in Nebraska City.
ERQUIAGA: Oh, you were all right there in the same area.
ERQUIAGA: Did you have any brothers or sisters?
AGUIRRE: Oh, yes. I had-
ERQUIAGA: Were they out here in Nevada?
AGUIRRE: No. Not until I got out, and then they came out later. My older brother, he was the first boy, came out, and my sister who was next to me, the year before I was born, came out, and then later my older sister came out. Oh, years after I was married. I had three brothers and a sister who passed away as babies, see my father and my mother lived in Eagle, Nebraska, at that time, and a fire broke out, see, and they were having scarlet fever at that time. They didn't know what to do for my them evidently, but they were quarantined. The house burned down, and we lost two of the babies, and then later why the scarlet fever took two of the babies. Then we three sisters and a brother left, and then later when my mother got married again, why, she had two more children.
ERQUIAGA: And are any of them still living?
AGUIRRE: Minnie's the only one. My sister, Minnie, that's next to me. She lives in Arizona.
ERQUIAGA: What was your father's name?
AGUIRRE: My father's name was Richard Edwin Ward, and he was born in Wisconsin. He came to Nebraska when he was three years old in a covered wagon. When I was born, he was sixty years old, and my mother was only twenty-six. He was an old man! And he used to tell us how he bounced my mother around on his knee when she was just a baby. I can never believe that an old man like him (laughing) would marry such a young lady.
ERQUIAGA: Did he live very long then after that?
AGUIRRE: My father lived until 1946.
ERQUIAGA: Oh, well, he was up there . . .
AGUIRRE: Yeah. My mother died in 1939, but she was only fifty-four.
ERQUIAGA: Did you have any grandparents that you knew?
AGUIRRE: No, I didn't know any.
ERQUIAGA: You didn't know them at all?
AGUIRRE: No, I was too little. If I had grandparents I was too little to remember them. I know that one set of grandparents went to California, but I don't remember anything about it. I just heard about it. My father's parents, of course, were already passed away when he got married.
ERQUIAGA: After you came out to McGill, did you get a job there?
AGUIRRE: I tried to find a job. I went to Doctor Bottle's. They changed the name of it now, but it was Doctor Bottle at that time, and he said, "This is Depression time we just don't have any room for one more." So I went over to Steptoe and asked, and they said, "Well, you can work here for a while if you need to work awful bad," and I did.
ERQUIAGA: You got paid for that?
AGUIRRE: I got paid one dollar a day. Wasn't that nice?
ERQUIAGA: Well, better than nothing, I guess.
AGUIRRE: I'll say it is, but I got enough money so I could come this way because when I left Omaha, they suggested that if I was coming to Nevada to go on to Reno and go to the St. Mary's hospital to finish up my training.
ERQUIAGA: And then did you finish your--this was nurses' training, I guess?
AGUIRRE: Nurses' training. No, I didn't go there, but I got practical work, and when I left there, they gave me my associate degree in Omaha for midwifery. It isn't a real degree, you know, associate degree, but that's what they wanted me to do.
ERQUIAGA: So, then did you do a lot of work as a midwife?
AGUIRRE: Here in Churchill Public Hospital I did, yes. (laughing) I worked there, too. I worked for Florin Morris. Later, a little job here, a little there. I worked for Mrs. Noble who lived out in Island District. I got a job when I first came here to Fallon. On my way from McGill here I paid fifty dollars for a Model T, and so I said, "Well, if it'll take me a little ways why I'll be all right." Then when I got to Austin there was a man awaiting there at the service station, and I was getting gas in my Model T. That's when you lifted up the front seat to put the gas in the tank underneath you, but, anyway, he said, "Do you have room to take somebody wanting to go to Fallon?" Well, I didn't know where Fallon was. I said, "Well, I'm going that way, and I guess maybe somewhere in between there there must be a place like that 'cause I don't know." And I thought to myself, "You know, maybe this man could help me to find my way." So, I told him yes, he can ride with me, but I said, "I want you to understand that's there no monkeyshines." So, he got in the car, and then after he got in the car, he introduced himself, Mr. Reynolds who lived in Harmon District, and they called him Tex, he told me. So he's the father of Peggy Renken and their family, and then he told me, "You know, girlie. This isn't a good idea for you to pick up just anybody." I said, "No, but I can trust you." And I find that if you tell a person you trust them, they're more apt to be more trustful. So, anyway, we come over and he talked on the way. It wasn't a long way. It was a lonesome road, all right.
ERQUIAGA: Even then it was.
AGUIRRE: Even then it was lonesome. When we got into East Gate, We stopped, and he says, "Well now I'll tell you something. You ought to get a little water in your car." Okay, I get some water in the car. I don't know how that Model T used so much water. It'd get to steaming, and then, finally, I said, "Well," when we were going a little ways, and pretty soon we got out of East Gate and through and almost to Frenchman's Station, but I didn't know it was Frenchman's Station. I'd never seen it until he told me. "I've got to stop and get some water along the side of the road. Well, there's some water, and I'll add that water to the radiator." He said, "Don't you touch that water. That's alkali water, and it'll ruin your car. You wait until we get to Frenchman's." "Oh, dear, what am I going to do?" So when we got there we had to pay for our water because water had to be brought in. He bought some cookies, and he says, "Well, we'll snack while we're driving." So he bought the water, he bought some cookies, and off we went. Well, when we made the turn to come onto the highway, they were fixing the roads. They were getting them ready to gravel, so you can imagine the roughness that we had to go through. He pointed to the side there, and he says, "You see over here. There's two little graves in there. Those are children that passed away on their wagon trail." And it was on the side where the mountains are. And we went on, and he said, "And over there on the other side, there's where the salt works was." I never knew what salt works was, and he explained to me that there was a man that cut that salt, and he sold it. And over in another place that's where the Pony Express used to go. They went across on that side there. I just took his word for everything he said. Jack Tedford, the real old man, he was the mayor of Fallon. But he still was out there working and supervising, and his boys were still in high school. When we went through there. And we were moved this way and this way, and be careful of the road and stuff like that. At Grimes Point, Tex said, "Well, you know this place here always has water around. I don't know how that land'll be," but they had built it up, so we could pass real slow. Now where Berney Road is. They used to bring the highway down. It went through Beach District and along what we call Cushman Road, and that was the highway at one time, and they were putting it in in a new place. I looked to my right and I seen this kind of a little--it looked like adobe or something at Grimes Point, and it was there where the water was. I said, "What is that?" He said, "Oh, it's just a building there." I said, "I bet that was a Pony Express station." He says, "Well, I don't know. We can't verify it." We went along until we got on to solid ground, but we was very, very careful. Mr. Grimes' place was on the left hand side of the road as we went by, and I met Lucy Grimes Burton later. She was a teacher, and that's where her home was at that time, so I got acquainted with her later.
ERQUIAGA: She was the daughter of the Grimes that settled out there?
ERQUIAGA: Many years ago. I don't know the name.
AGUIRRE: Oh, yeah, that's a long time ago.
ERQUIAGA: Can I go back to the Tedfords again for a minute?
ERQUIAGA: You said his boys were in high school. That would be Jack and Ken?
AGUIRRE: Jack and Ken.
ERQUIAGA: That we know now.
AGUIRRE: Uh-huh. And the girls that they married were still in high school.
ERQUIAGA: Well, you made all that trip without having any car trouble?
AGUIRRE: Oh, if I hadn't had that water, I'd a had a hard time.
ERQUIAGA: But, that was pretty good to go that far.
AGUIRRE: Yes, but we were going twenty-five miles an hour, so you know how long it took us. (laughing)
ERQUIAGA: That would have been a long boring trip.
AGUIRRE: (laughing) That old car would not go any faster than twenty-five miles an hour. We thought we was going pretty good. (laughing) It took us a long time! but we sure made it.
ERQUIAGA: Did you stop in Fallon and stay here?
AGUIRRE: When we got into Fallon, Tex says, "Well, I have a place out here, and maybe you'd like to meet the family." I said, "Well, you know, it was very kind of you." He thanked me for it, and he said he had family coming in to get him, and I said, "I'm going to stay at the Western Hotel, and I'm going to rest up for a few days before I start in looking for work." I went here, and I went there to look around and see what the place looked like. The high school was the first thing I was interested in, so I went to the high school, and Anne Berlin, that year she graduated from high school, and she hadn't graduated as yet.
ERQUIAGA: Did you meet her then?
AGUIRRE: Oh, yes. I met her. She was Anne Gibbs.
ERQUIAGA: And you met her at that time?
AGUIRRE: And I met her, and Elizabeth Underhill who married the [Frank] Woodliff boy. I met her.
ERQUIAGA: How did you happen to meet them?
AGUIRRE: Well, I see them out there and just started in talking to them.
ERQUIAGA: That's the way to do it,
AGUIRRE: That's a heck of a way, isn't it, to meet people? Just go right up to them and talk to them, and because I was so skinny and everything like that, I guess they thought I was just visiting from some other school or something and asking them these questions. Then I met Erica Miller which we called her Butch. I think Mr. Schank came the next year. But, anyway, I told her, "I am looking for work." I should have went on to Reno, but I didn't do it. I said, "I have to find work so I can buy gas for my car to travel." And she says, "Well, I don't know how you find that. My brothers they do all the farm work." I didn't know anything about farm work. If you'd ask me why I couldn't have told you an awful lot. She seen me a couple of days later, and she says, "Did you know that they've got an advertisement in the paper? They need a girl to come be a mother's helper or kitchen helper at the Noble Ranch." And I said, "Where is that?" She said, "You just keep a going on Schurz Highway." See, they didn't have roads that ran clear out. You went over to Taylor Street now, and it was Schurz. Well, there's room enough on that road for two cars to pass one another, but no more than that, so I said, "Well, I'll keep a-going." And I kept a-watching. That was a lonely place, too, going on that road, and finally I came to a place. It turned out to be Mr. Renfro was outside there, and I asked him, "Can you tell me where the Noble Ranch is?" He said, "Well, you keep a-going down that way. Watch to your right there, and you'll see a little church there, and then the house is nearby there." So, I said, "All right." He says, "Well, now if you see two houses in there together, why you stop and you ask them." I was lucky enough to find the place without too much trouble. So I went in and helped them. Worked in the kitchen. I told them, "Well, I came out," and they asked me all about myself and if I'd ever worked on a farm or ranch. I said, "No." The only experience I ever had had was when I was around about seventeen I went for one summer on a farm, and I knew about the cows and the horses, and they had pigs and what have you, and this lady that I worked for was a German lady, but I didn't like to stay there with her because she had some boys. They were nice boys, but there was one that was left home. He was the baby and he could never do anything wrong. I think you find sometimes that mothers where they have their babies where they could never do anything wrong. I said, "I am not going to stay here."
ERQUIAGA: Did you stay for a while?
AGUIRRE: I just stayed for about three months.
ERQUIAGA: Oh. Where would that be today? That Noble ranch?
AGUIRRE: It's still there.
ERQUIAGA: On the Schurz Highway?
AGUIRRE: It's on the Schurz Highway. I've never been out that way for a long, long time, so I couldn't tell you if the little church is still there, but there was the Noble ranch and then farther down was Norcutts and Crews. The Noble girl was married to the Crew boy, and she couldn't work because she had some kind of a trouble that was eating her nose away, and so her mother asked me if I would come in and work. It was a bad thing for the girl. She eventually passed away, but it was a sad situation, but I was glad to get the work. I worked for one dollar a day there.
ERQUIAGA: Then where did you go from there?
AGUIRRE: And from there, after haying crops were over, in between, why, I would do little jobs here and there. Between the haying system because she told me, "Now you come back for the second crop. Then you come back for the third crop." So the last of October why I had to move back in town. No more work. I found myself a little house, and they've done away with that little house. You know where the cable vision used to be there? Right across from the City Hall?
AGUIRRE: Well, there was a house in there that had two parts to the house. There was a long part, and then there was long part went another direction.
ERQUIAGA: Like an L-shape.
AGUIRRE: Yeah. L-shape it was. It had a vacant sign there so I asked the people that were in there if there was any possibility that I could rent it, and they said yes. Well, I had to sell my car in order to pay the rent. So, I said, "Well, what had to be done had to be done. That's all there is to it." So, I sold my car to pay my rent. They only charged me five dollars for that rent.
ERQUIAGA: Five dollars for a month?
AGUIRRE: Yes, for a month for renting the house, so I paid that up until the first of January, so I had November, December, and January. Of course, I got my fifty dollars on my car. I bought it for fifty dollars, and I sold it for fifty dollars.
ERQUIAGA: How did you go about selling it?
AGUIRRE: Well, I just asked people if they wanted to buy a car, (laughing) and finally they said, "Well, I'll tell you what I'll do. I'll give you fifty dollars for it." I said, "Sold!" and it went. That was a Model T. Then, later some people by the name of Peisie said they were looking for somebody to help them to clean up the Wagon Wheel, the club, out there on the highway. Now, there wasn't any other clubs out there, yet, but this place I went in to help them.
ERQUIAGA: That's the one on the Reno Highway?
AGUIRRE: Well, there's a lot of trees around it now, but that was standing by itself when I went in there, so I helped this lady clean up that club. She had two boys, and she made them work, too, and she set in the kitchen making these--I never ate limburger cheese until she gave it to me. I said, "Ah-oo-oo, I don't think I like that." She says, "You never even tasted it, yet. How do you know you don't like it?" "Well, I don't know. Just the thoughts of it." And she fixed it up and put onion on it and everything; like that, and it was good. It was a good sandwich that she made for me.
ERQUIAGA: Did she own the building?
AGUIRRE: I don't know whether they owned it, or whether they just leased it, but anyway we had to clean it up. That was all. Well, after cleaning the mess up, she had a grand opening, and a man by the name of Mr. Gabiola came there. Mr. Balzar came there, and then they had some others that came in there, and they said, "Well, you've got everything here but a place for a girl." Well, she looked. She says, "There's a girl." And I looked at her, and I said, "I don't know what you mean, but I'm leaving right now." I didn't have a car, but I decided I would walk back. It made me kind of upset, see.
AGUIRRE: Mr. Balzar came out. He said, "Girlie, don't feel that way. Where you going to go?" I said, "I'm going back to Fallon." He said, "Do you know how many miles you have to walk?" I said, "I don't care how far I have to walk. I am not going to stay in this house and be pointed out as one of the girls." (laughing) So, he said, "Well, don't feel that way. I think she was kidding you." Well, maybe she was.
ERQUIAGA: What was the name of the lady?
AGUIRRE: Peisie. Peisie was her name, so I started out walking. He said, "I'll take you into Fallon." I said, "I don't know whether I can trust you or not." He says, "Oh, you can trust me. I'll take you into Fallon." So, he took me in to Fallon, and he said, "I want you to stay in a hotel. I'm paying for your hotel." I had collected my money. I had enough I could have stayed, but he says, "I'm paying for your hotel, and you stay in the hotel, and you get a good night's rest and see if you don't feel better in the morning." Well, I thought, "Gee, willikers, I can make beds. Maybe I could get a job in the hotel," so I went down to where Tomasa and Ramon [Arrizabalaga] were, and "Nope, we're not hiring anybody."
ERQUIAGA: That was at the Grand Hotel?
AGUIRRE: So I asked at the Western “no we’re not hiring.” So I went over to the Overland, and said, "Well, you know, I would like a job. I'm in need of a job." They said, "We were waiting for you. Go upstairs there." Well, I got up the stairs, and when I got up there, a red-headed lady met me, and she said, "Are you the one that's come to work?" I said, "Yes." She said, "Strip off." I said, "What?" She said, "Aren't you the girl that was supposed to come here?" I said, "I should say not." I went down that stairs, and I think the last three steps I jumped. But, I said, "I don't know what they think I am," and I told them. I went in that office and I said, "I don't know what kind of a place you're running here, but I want you to know that I'm a decent girl." I was mad. I was really angry. Well, I realized then this is a not a hotel. I'm not asking one more hotel. There was the Commercial Hotel over on Broadway, and I never even went there. I said, " I won't go there. That's all there is to it. I'll find a job somewhere else. Well, what am I going to do?" [End of tape 1 side A]
ERQUIAGA: When the tape ended on the other side, you were wondering what you were going to do for a living. Do you want to continue with that?
AGUIRRE: Yes. Well, I went to the Moore Hospital, Mrs. Moore's, and she said, "We just don't have any more room for another nurse. This is Depression time. We just don't have it." At that time, Rita Berry--that was Mr. Berry's daughter--who was the head nurse there, and she says, "If we had any way to bring in help, why we would, but we just don't have. We can't afford it."
ERQUIAGA: Who was Mr. Berry? Was he connected with that hospital?
AGUIRRE: Mr. Berry, no. Rita Berry was his daughter, and he worked in I.H. Kent's store. Rita Berry was the head nurse. So, I went from there over to the Hall hospital which was up on the hill. You know where Mr. Madraso used to live?
AGUIRRE: Well, some little houses there just east of him, why there was a woman by the name of Mrs. Hall, and she was a Samoan woman, and she'd married Ethel Weaver's father, so she had the name of Hall. When Mr. Hall passed away, why then, of course, naturally she had this work to do. I asked her, and she said, "No, I take care of my own patients." This was a lying-in hospital. She took in pregnant women and delivered their babies for them. I told her--I showed her my qualifications, and she said, "No, I just don't have the money."
ERQUIAGA: And the hospital was?
AGUIRRE: She had some little cabins where-
ERQUIAGA: I’m trying to think, it was right-
AGUIRRE: It's up on the hill in back of where Tedford's place is up on the hill there. That was on A Street and East. When she said no, I said, "Well, what in the world am I going to do? Is there any other hospitals?" " Well, I don't know of any." See, people took their patients into their homes to take care of them, and then I heard about Flora Morris' hospital, and she's out there near Grimes Street. That house that Dora Witt lives in was the county hospital [100 Dalton].
ERQUIAGA: It was the county hospital?
AGUIRRE: It was the county hospital, and Flora run it. They took in county patients, and she had cabins in the back of the main house, and she had patients of all kind and a lot of them that didn't have to be operated on or if they were awful sick, why she kept those that were awfully sick in the house. Those others that were recuperating were what they called county patients lived in these cabins back there. Her nephew worked there to help take care of them. Well, her daughter, Dolly Hanley, was also there, and she helped to take care of the patients. Then with me there, I worked during the daytime, and Flora worked at night to take care of those patients to be someone on duty all the time, see. Well, I worked there, one day I decided that I'd like to go into town and see what's going on. I hadn't been there for a while, so I asked Charlie Stump if I could use his car. He says, "Do you know how to drive a car?" Now this is a Model T. I said, "Yes, I know how to drive." He says, "Well, you park in back of Kent's. I'll let you use my car, but you park in back of Kent's." I said, "Nobody's going to tell me how to drive. I know how to park a car." So, I go and decide to park in front where the curbing is on the Maine Street. Well, I didn't count on the mud that was there because Maine Street was mud curb to curb, so when I put on my brakes I slid into the curb (laughing) and bang, bang went the tires.
ERQUIAGA: Oh! Both tires?
AGUIRRE: Two front tires, yeah, and there was a guy coming down the road, and he was on a motorcycle, and the motorcycle went over into the mud, and here I am standing here crying. Old man Whalen, [the sheriff], came down the street, and he said, "What's the matter?" Now that was the only law they had in Fallon at that time, and I said, "Old Charlie's going to kill me because I broke the tires, and he told me to park in the back, and I didn't do it. I thought I knew so much." He says, "Old Charlie isn't going to kill you at all." So he hollered at some Indian boys, he says, "Go back there, back of Kent's, and get some baling wire, and we'll put some wire around the front tires so the little girl can get home." Now, I wasn't a little girl, you know. I'm twenty-one years old, and I said, "I didn't like the idea of you calling me a little girl." But still I was twenty-one. Anyway, why, I got home, and Charlie took a look at it, and he said, "You broke my tires. You're going to pay for them." Flora says, "She's not going to pay for those tires because they were ready to burst anyway. The treads were clear down. You're not going to make her pay for your tires." Well, the treads were. They were down, or they would never have done that if they'd been good tires. But I learned one lesson that in Fallon (laughing) the mud from Maine to Maine if I'd of parked farther down where the Sprouse-Reitz was at that time and the Golden Rule store was on the end and hit the curb there, I'd a went right on into the store because the curbing is low. Now they had board sidewalks along there at that time. So if they'd a caught their wheels on the sidewalk, it might have prevented them from going all the way in. But anyway we grew up out of that sidewalk business. We got pavement. But, anyway, I stayed with Flora Morris, I guess it must have been around August. I stayed with her almost six months.
ERQUIAGA: What year was that?
AGUIRRE: That was in 1930 then, but I had been working since 1928 to 1930. Different places which would bring me up to that. A lady by the name of Mrs. Ferguson was on the county board and she came in, and she said, "That girl is just too young to be working, taking care of these old people." And I said, "Well, my goodness, I'm twenty-one years old. I don't know why anybody would make such a big fuss about that." "Well, you can't work." Flora says, "Well, if the county says you can't work, you can't. That's all there is to it." And she gave me my money. Then I said, "Well, I've got to have a job. That's all there is to it." So I went to the Mission Cafe, and that's down where the Nugget is now. It was in that area near the Sagebrush, and I ask the Chinese man there if I could work. He said, "Do you know how to serve?" I said, "Well, I worked in the orphanage there. I served plates and things to the employees there, but that's the only experience I've ever had in waiting on tables for the public or anything." They said, "Well, we'll try you out." So I worked there, and then I wasn't getting enough money to pay my rent, so I said, "Well, I've got to be able to have enough money for myself for my needs as well as paying my rent" 'cause the house that I got was a ten-dollar a month house, and that was up by the high school on Front Street so I got that. When I got through working there then I would go to the Sagebrush on a Saturday night when they had their dances or anything like that, why, the girl, this Williams, Miss Williams, wanted somebody to take their place in the Sagebrush. "Well," I said, "all right. I've had a little experience." She said, "Well, we don't have an awful lot of people come in here at night, but maybe if you're here why you can wait on them." "Yes." Well, upstairs above in the Sagebrush there was a kind of a little area there where they could sit up there, and on the front right above the pie case there was big moose that hung there. Bill Powell run the Sagebrush Club, so one of the guys got to laughing and he fell over on top of that moose. The moose went down on top of the pie case, and I felt so bad about that, I said, "You guys are so crazy to do a thing like that," but I was so worried about this guy that fell on top of that moose on to the pie case. He went on to the floor. I said, "Are you hurt?" He says, "Well, if I'm not, I should be," but he got up and he decided to leave right quick. Well, somebody seen what happened. They went over to the dance hall and got Mrs. Williams. When she came with her, she took one look, and she grabbed him by the collar. I pointed out who he was. He was standing outside. I said, "He's the one that fell on top of the moose." She called him every name she could think of, and she said, "What do you think I am running around here? That pie case has got valuable food in there, and you're going to pay for every--" and she used some of the expressive words for those pies and cakes and things that were in there. He had to shell out, too, and the guys upstairs why they all stood there, and she said, "You, too. You guys up there." She made them all pay for it.
ERQUIAGA: Who was Mrs. Williams?
AGUIRRE: I can't remember her first name.
ERQUIAGA: Did she work there at the Sagebrush?
AGUIRRE: She was the one that was in charge over there. Manager of that restaurant. There was a bar. They never served liquor or anything like that, and they had some card tables out. On the south side of that building in one little corner they had a barber shop. There was a door that went into the barber shop, but it was closed at that time. Whenever they wanted to have shave, they could sit in there and have a drink of near beer or they could do anything they wanted. Play cards and walk out. Whatever they wanted.
ERQUIAGA: Had you stopped working at the Mission Cafe?
AGUIRRE: I was working part time.
ERQUIAGA: In both places part time.
AGUIRRE: Yeah. I had to earn some money. Then the man at the Mission suggested I go down to the Pastime, and that's where Jeff's place is now, and he says, "I think you can get a regular job down there so you don't have to be working a double duty." "Well," I said, "anything is better." And, so I went down there to work at the Pastime, and the guys would come in, and they'd talk to the other girls. The girls would disappear. "Will you take my place for a little while?" Well, I never caught on for a long, long time where they were disappearing to.
ERQUIAGA: Even though you were twenty-one, you didn't know. (laughing)
AGUIRRE: Yes, that is true. I was twenty-one years old, but I was so naive that I didn't understand exactly why they were disappearing and then they'd come back. At that time one of the girls told me, "You know, be careful what you eat here." I said, "What are you talking about?" "Well, you know, the man is a snowball." I said, "What's a snowball." "Well, he takes drugs." Well, that stopped my eating right now. There was a lady that was delivering milk there, and I'd drink the milk 'cause I knew it was coming from there, and the bread that was brought in from the bakery which was down the street where Hursh or somewhere in that area there they had a bakery, and they bought the bread there. I would eat bread and milk, but that was all I'd eat. Then one time Ed came in. This was where I met my husband.
ERQUIAGA: What was the reason for this man? Was he putting drugs into their food?
AGUIRRE: No, but I always felt that way. I just didn't want to take any chances. It was my own silly fault because he wouldn't be allowed to do a thing like that, but that was my idea, and I just wouldn't eat it. That's all.
ERQUIAGA: And so that's where you met your husband?
AGUIRRE: Yes, he came in, and he was looking pretty sad, and I had to make a remark about it. I said, "What do you want, sir?" "I'd like a pickle." I said, "Are you falling in love or just falling out of love?" He said, "Well, how did you know? My girlfriend left, and I guess I'll never see her again." I said, "Well, go ahead and look for another girlfriend then, and here's your pickle." I gave him a pickle. Never thought anything about him anymore. As a matter of fact, I wasn't interested in the men. I wasn't interested in anybody. I was just there to serve. That was all there was to it, and so, anyway, the first thing I would know when I would go home here comes this man a following behind me. "Who in the world is that?" stopped and it was Ed. He was following trying to find out where I live. I said, "You just get out of here right now. Don't you follow me anymore." He says, "I'm not following you. I'm just walking on the sidewalk." "Well, all right, then. Just keep a going." And I went home. I had to walk from the Pastime up to Front Street where I lived, and I just didn't want him or anybody else to know where I lived. That's all there was to it.
AGUIRRE: So (laughing) anyway, I went into August and then here's come along September, and I'm so sick I can't stand up on my feet. I had to quit my job 'cause I was so sick. I couldn't stand up, so he said--by that time it was 1931 'cause I had worked long enough so that I'd be going on twenty-two, and he went to the restaurant to see where I was at, and when they told him that I was home sick in bed, he said, "Well, where did she live?" and they told him where I lived. Well, I had a lady by the name of Mrs. Miller that was from St. Clair District. I didn't know much about her only that she needed a job, and she had two little children with her, and I said, "I've only got two rooms in this house." She says, "Well, I'll stay with you during the daytime and then at night you'll have to stay by yourself." But I could have died and nobody would have known it unless she come. So, anyway, why, she says, "I'm calling the doctor." Well, when Dr. Myers came, he was a-talking to me, Ed comes to the door. So, the doctor went to the door and he said, "Well, hello, son." And I had the end of an old cue stick right beside my bed. Anybody try to break in that house why they'd get it on the head, that's it, because those cue sticks are loaded on the handle part. I said, "I don't allow men in my house." "Well, I'm a man." That's what the doctor said. "I'm a man. Come on in, son. I want to talk to you." Well, Ed comes in, see, and he says, "What's your name?." "I'm Ed Aguirre." "Oh. What'd you do?" "Well, I got a little ranch." "Oh, a big ranch?" "Well, it's a leased ranch and it's big enough." "Oh. Got any cows?" "Yeah, milk cows." "Got any chickens?" "Yeah, a few chickens." "Well, you got some milk and chickens," and he turned to Mrs. Miller, and he says, "You're going to give this girl here some eggnog," and he turned to Ed, and he said, "You're going to bring milk and eggs in to her." That was the only excuse he had to come in to see me. Bring me in eggs. That man, everyday I had fresh eggs, (laughing) He'd bring only two and milk, and I drank eggnog until I was ready to, feel like it was coming out of my ears, but it put strength in my body. My sister decided to come from McGill over to stay with me. She had remarried. This was her third marriage. He was in the Marines in Hawthorne, and so she decided to stay with me. Well, here's her bed on one side of the room and my bed on the other side of the room and her children had to sleep with her. Whenever her husband would come home, then I had to put the children in bed with me. Well, finally I said, "I just don't know whether I can take this or not," because I was sick in bed. And I was sick in bed until, I guess, it was around the middle of October. I mean, I was taking all this eggnog, and when she came she was having to make eggnog for me so I would get my strength back.
ERQUIAGA: Did you ever know what was wrong?
AGUIRRE: He said I was dying. I was starving myself, see, and I didn't know that I was starving myself because I was eating bread and milk, but it wasn't enough nourishment,
ERQUIAGA: Oh, that was all you would eat?
AGUIRRE: Yeah, I wasn't eating like I should. I could have had meat because the meat market was not very far from where I was, and they brought in some meat. Mr. Marsh was his name. Marsh's Meat Market, and he brought meat in there, but I wouldn't eat the meat because it had to be cooked in some of the pots. (laughing) That's silly to think of, but, anyway, that was the situation. Then Ed came in one day, and he said, "You know, you get out of that bed. You need some fresh air." And my sister, May, said, "Yeah, get up out of that bed, and you go into the kitchen. Get dressed and get some fresh air," So, he took me down Front Street until we come to Harrigan Road, and there was a great big tree in there, and he made the remark, "That's a hanging tree." I said, "A what?" "That's a hanging tree. That's where they used to hang the people when they committed any crimes or anything like that instead of them taking them to prison, why you just take them out and string them up." I didn't know he was kidding me, but I thought it was the truth.
ERQUIAGA: Oh, he was kidding you?
AGUIRRE: Yeah, he was kidding me, but I thought it was the truth. So, I thought, "Well, go home." He said, "Well, all right." So we turned around and went back up Front Street. Took me home. Two weeks later, why, that's all I needed to do was get out of bed. I was getting my strength back. He says, "Would you like to take a ride?" I said, "No, I don't want to go down to that hanging tree anymore." He says, "Well, I'll show you Rattlesnake Hill." "Rattlesnake Hill? Rattlesnakes up there?" "No, there isn't no rattlesnakes up there." Well, he got in his car, and we started up the hill. Well, we got almost to a place where we could go around, and the car started backing up, and he put on the brakes. Made the car go around so it wouldn't go back down the hill the way it was. I said, "Are you trying to kill me?" He said, "No." But he got the car to going, and he jumped in--the car was so he could jump into the driver's seat. He got it to start going down a hill. He got in real quick. said, "Take me home. I'm not riding with you again. That's all there is to it." So, he (laughing) didn't know I wouldn't ride with him at all. Every time he'd say, "Well, you need some fresh air." Well, he kept a proposing, kept proposing. I said, "Don't. I wouldn't marry you if you were the last man on earth. I wouldn't marry you. We'd be friends, but I won't marry you. That's all there is to it." Well, my sister decided we had to have a larger house, so she moved over on Humboldt Street in a house, and she said, "There is two bedrooms," and there was a large living room dining room combined and a little kitchen and a back porch and a front porch. She said, "Well, we'll just live here together." I said, "But I don't have any work. I can't pay the rent." "Well, I'll take care of the rent."
ERQUIAGA: This was your sister?
AGUIRRE: My sister, yeah. So, about the middle of the month, she decided she had to find a lower priced house. We were only paying ten dollars a month, but she had to find another house. Well, winter time was coming on, and she wouldn't let me sleep in the bedroom. She said that was for the children. I had to sleep on the porch and put a canvas around. "Well", I said, "this is awful. This is awfully cold here, but I'll make a go of it." At that time I only weighed seventy-nine pounds. I was skinny as a rail. You know something? We lived there two weeks when she decided she was going to find another house. She moved down back of where the post office is now. See, there was some houses then. She moved there. I said, "Well, I can't live in that house. There's one only one room and a little kitchen. I can't live in that house because it's too small. What in the world am I going to do? Well, I'll stay in that big house." So I said, "I'm staying here in the house until the rent is up." She said, "Go ahead and stay there if that's what you want to do." But, Ed come in, and he says, "I'm going to Reno. I want you to go to Reno with me." "I'm not going to Reno." He said, "Well, why?" I said, "'Cause I don't [want to]." Well my sister when she found out, she says, "You go to Reno. He's never done anything to make you distrust him. It would make you feel better if you would take a long ride. Go." And he was doing this to my sister, shaking head, see, and that was it. I thought, "Reno. Maybe it wouldn't hurt. What you going to Reno for?" "Well, I got some business up there." "I see. Well, all right." Well, he had told me about how he had to send money back to Spain for somebody to take his place in the military, so I thought that was where he was going to go because he said he had to go to the courthouse. So I went with him. On the way up we were traveling along there, he'd have a flat tire. And of course I said, "You don't get me out of the car." When the second one come, I said, "Oh, no. You're not getting me out of the car." Well when the third one come, I said, "I can't believe it." He said, "Well, my goodness, I had to buy tires in Reno."
ERQUIAGA: What did he do about each of these tires as they went flat? Could he fix them?
AGUIRRE: The treads were so bad.
ERQUIAGA: Yeah, but could he fix them?
AGUIRRE: Well, he did. He fixed those tires, and every time he'd fix a tire, why, evidently one would bust or something happen. Well, when he had the fourth one. I said, "I don't believe it," and I got out of the car and I looked. Sure enough, he had a flat tire. Well, we had to wait there, and when we got into Reno, he said, "Well, we're going to park up here near the courthouse." At that time the library was right across from the courthouse. "Well, I'll go in the library." He says, "No, it'd be better if you'd come along with me then I don't have to worry." "Well," I said, "all right." When we went in they were having a big murder trial there in that courthouse, and I was looking at the seal in the courthouse there, and all these people. "What's going on." "Well, it's a murder trial." And he's walking off there, and I said, "Oh, my gosh." [End of tape 1]
ERQUIAGA: -And you were following Ed around the courthouse in Reno?
AGUIRRE: We went in the door, and I was afraid that I was going to lose him there when we were there, and a lady says to him, "What can I do for you lovely young people?" And I looked up, "Marriage license. Oh, no!" and I told him, "I told you I wouldn't marry you." He says, "Please, please. I'm going to propose again to you." I said, "You'd be sorry if you marry me because I don't like men." He says, "I'll take the chance." So, I said, "Well, all right then." So they called the judge, George Morin, from the murder trial to come and marry us. Well, I guess it worked out all right because we were married almost sixty years.
ERQUIAGA: That sounds like it was a winner.
AGUIRRE: Well, yeah. I guess it was, so (laughing) anyway, why, after we were married, he said, "Well, we ought to go and have something to eat." "All right." And then he says, "I'll go and get my tires later." So we went to a place over on Lake Street, I think it was a French Basque place there. The Santa Fe across the street. We went into this place. The man showed us to a little booth, and he pulled the curtains, and I said, "What in the heck is he pulling those curtains for?" So I pulled the curtains back. I said, "When I go in I want to see what's going on." Well, he came and asked what we'd like. I said, "You know something? I've never had raviolis. I think maybe we could have some raviolis." He says, "Well, I'll have the same thing then." We waited a little while, and pretty soon in comes some raviolis, and I took a look at these things, and I said, "What?" They were just plain. No sauce or anything on them, and I said, "Are these raviolis?" The man said, "Yes." I said, "Oh." I tasted them. Why they were cold, and I told Ed, "Why, I can't eat these things." And he said, "Me neither." While we were talking, through the back door came a man in, and he was carrying a purse and a lady walking right behind him, and I said, "I never seen a man carrying a woman's purse. Isn't that kind of funny?" And this waiter looked at me and kind of put his fingers to his mouth this way like to say, "Quiet." Then he come over. I said, "How come they come through the back door?" He said, "Well, the brothel's right back here." I told Ed, "A brothel. What is a brothel?" They had to tell me what a brothel was. That's me. Well, anyway, he says, "Let's go. I can't eat this stuff." So he went and paid his bill to the cashier, he says, "Well, you come back again." Ed says, "Well, we'll think about it." That's all he said. We went over to the Santa Fe and had a meal. Then we went to get the tires. We got our tires, and he said, "In order to get home in time, we'd better start right now." It was just around about two-thirty by then, and we couldn't stay in Reno too long 'cause he had to get home and milk cows.
ERQUIAGA: Oh, I see.
AGUIRRE: We had moved from St. Clair District. That's where he took me when we got married, and then we moved in January to the Beach District. Well, down in St. Clair, why I had lots of people that decided to come and find out who Ed was married to. There was Mrs. Pflum come over to see me and Mrs. Rogers who owned the house. She took one look at me . . .
ERQUIAGA: That would be Harold Rogers' mother?
AGUIRRE: Harold Rogers' mother. They'd leased the ranch there, and she told Ed, "You know, when you rented this place why we didn't have any plans for a woman to come and live here. I won't have that." Ed says, "But, I'm a married man." She says, "Well, I don't know about that. You'll have to move." Ed went to the federal bank loan association, and they told him, "We would like you to take over a ranch in Beach. We know you're a good rancher." So, anyway, that's where we moved. We moved into this house. It wasn't very far from the south gate at the base, and it had an upstairs to it. Now that was just the ideal for me. I liked upstairs. It had two bedrooms in it and a little living room and a large kitchen and a front porch and a back porch. It had artesian water. The water run all over. The wall- (laughing) I wanted the bedrooms near where the artesian water was. It was icy. I mean, the wall. It absorbed the water, and it was icy, and in December it's a kind of a hard situation to keep warm. Ed says, "Well,"--I had told him, "I'm not sleeping with you. We're married, but I'm not sleeping with you." "Well, do what you want." So he had to sleep in this old cold bedroom. (laughing) He'd sleep on the floor. No furniture. He decided the next day that he'd better make a table and make benches so I had them. I said, "What about a stove?" "Well, I'll find a stove." Well, he went to a junkpile and he found a little heating stove, and we cooked on that thing until he could find another little stove. "Well," I said, "you know. It could have been worse." I've thought about it. It could have been worse. He might not of found (laughing) a stove at all, but that was good enough to cook on. I made soup. Then I couldn't be by myself in the house. I wasn't used to being out by myself, so he says, "Well, the best thing for you to do is just to come out and watch me milk cows." So, I'd go out and watch him milk cows. Well, everyday I wanted to learn how to milk cows. He said, "Well, I'll show how to milk cows." So, I learned to milk cows. Don't anyone--I'm going to tell you--learn how to milk cows 'cause you'll have to the rest of your life as long as you're on the ranch. Well, anyway, he gave me an old cow they called Mother. Well, I didn't know about these other cows they had names or not, but this cow was a mother cow, and he says, "You can milk her on either side, but you have to be gentle." She turned her head and looked at me, and I said, "So, so, doe, now. I'll be all right. I won't hurt you." Well, I didn't get very much the first time, and then finally he showed me how to milk cows. Well, I learned how to milk cows and she enjoyed it. But she was the boss of the cows.
AGUIRRE: Then when I was in the house one day, he come early in the morning, he says, "You know, Rosie had a baby! Rosie had a baby!" Now, he'd been talking about another girl that he knew by the name of Rosie, and it kind of penetrated me right then and there. I said, "You ought to be ashamed of yourself. Why didn't you marry Rosie?" He looked at me kind of funny, and he says, "Well, Rosie is a cow." I said, "Rosie, the cow. I don't believe it." He said, "You come out and take a look at the list of the cows when they're due to have calves, and you find Rosie on there." Well, he had a bunch of names for his cows, but Rosie's name was on that, and that stood out. She had her calf there almost when it was expected. Well, I had to learn a lot of things on the ranch. I guess that if it hadn't of been for him saying, "Get out. Go into the house. I'll do the work." The goat always run with the cows if you went near the cows, the goat would take after you. I said, "I don't like that goat. That's all there is to it." So, when he come near me, I'd take a stick and hit him. Make him get away from me. Finally the time came, he said, "You have to stay away. That's all there is to it. We'll get the cows in and I'll keep the goat penned up so he won't bother you. Well, eventually he had to kill the goat because my mother came to stay with us, and she took a hoe to protect herself and hit me (laughing) in the head right in here. I got a scar here, see. Hit me in the (laughing) head there with it, and he says, "Well, I'm going to get rid of that goat." So he got rid of the goat, but, anyway, come back to the place where his pigs took off. He had two pigs. One named Paul. One named Pauline. Paul took off to the neighbors. Well, he went over and got that pig right back, and the thing was a-panting like everything. Summertime had come. That's right after we were married. Summertime had come, and the poor thing was just awful warm, and I felt so sorry for it. I got a bucket of water, and I threw the bucket of water on him to cool him down, went in the house, and pretty soon Ed come in and says, "I didn't know I chased that poor pig so far. He's dead!" I said, "Well, I don't know. I tried to cool him off." He says, "How did you cool him off?" I said, "I threw a bucket of water on him." He says, "Oh, my gosh, woman, you're going to break me yet!" So, I had to learn these things. The same thing about the turkeys. We bought some turkeys. I killed the turkeys. They were mating, and I didn't understand what was going on. Then one day he says to me, "Would you like to shoot a gun?" "I never shot a gun in my life." "Well, I'm going to line up these things here." Give me the gun. He says, "Here. Try to hit a bottle." Well, I hit the bottle alright. He said, "You done a real good job." I said, "Oh, did I hit the bottle?" He said, "Yes. Didn't you see it?" I said, "No, I had my eyes closed." He says, "Oh, for goodness sake, woman! I don't want to give you a gun!"
AGUIRRE: (laughing) Well, as time went by. We were married in 1931. In 1933, why, I had decided in between there that I was going to start sleeping with him because I missed him so much. He'd go out in the field, and he never was back until it was kind of late, and I'd learned to milk cows by then, and I didn't like the idea of him being gone, so when he came in, I told him, "Oh, I don't know. I'm scared to be here by myself. My neighbors never come to see me, so I was by myself. Then eventually when Gloria was born, why I had a houseful then because here comes Margaret and Jennie and Gloria, and then eventually, why, we moved on Cushman Road, and Richard comes along. I had twins.
ERQUIAGA: Did you have any idea that you were going to have twins?
AGUIRRE: I never had the idea that I was going to have twins. As a matter of fact, we had hay men. Now this is almost into to July, and all indications said no, that I wasn't going to have babies. I couldn't have a baby right then, but I had wished that I could have a baby. I said, "I hope if I ever have any more, I have a boy." 'Cause Ed he liked the boys, too, but we just gave it up because four years had gone going five years and no more babies. Well, a couple of men come in and they asked if they could eat with us. I noticed at the table that they didn't eat meat. They ate everything else that was on the table, but they never ate meat. They were the last ones out, and as they went out, one of the men turned to me, and he says, "You're going to have the boy that you want." I said, "What are you talking about?" I never mentioned it. I never said anything to Ed about it. I never said anything to anybody how I felt. I thought this is something I can't help and there's no use me talking about it, but they told me I was going to have a boy. The boys I wanted. "You name one Richard, and the other one, you name him Robert." "Twins?" And they went on their way. I hollered at the kids. I said, "My goodness, watch where they go." They went to the door, and they was out of sight.
ERQUIAGA: This was not somebody that was working for you?
ERQUIAGA: They just came to eat?
AGUIRRE: No, they just came in from somewhere. I didn't see where. They didn't have any cars. They didn't have ... they just disappeared all of a sudden. I said, "Well, my gosh, I can't believe it." I asked the kids, "Go out to the field. See if they're out there," and they weren't there. I said, "Look on the road." We could look across the pasture and down the road. Neither directions. He was gone, and that's all there was to it. Disappeared. I said, "Oh, I can't believe this. I can't believe it. All indications said that I wouldn't have no child." So, I said I wasn't pregnant. In August I was way out here. Now that's in a month's time. I'm way out here, and I said, "My gosh." Well, Mrs. Jones who lived up above us--you know, Gertrude's mother--she called down to where I was, and she said, "We want you to come up to the house." I had joined the Beach Union club. She says, "We want you to come over right away." I said, "Well, I can't come." She says, "Yes, you're coming." So I told Ed, "Well, it looks like I'm going to go over there. I won't be gone too long. I don't know what they want." They were having a shower for me, and I said, "What made you think that I was going to have a baby?" Madge Berney had told them that I was popping out like this. Way out.
ERQUIAGA: But, you didn't know.
AGUIRRE: I didn't know. He was born in January, Richard was born and I had twins. I named them Richard and Robert.
ERQUIAGA: Were they born at home?
AGUIRRE: No, I had to go to the hospital because I contracted edema, and I just throwed up something awful. My face and my body was swelling up. They said, "Oh, your babies are going to die if we don't do something." So they forced labor, and I had him premature, and Robbie.
ERQUIAGA: How big were they?
AGUIRRE: Three pounds and four ounces.
ERQUIAGA: Oh, just little ones!
AGUIRRE: Little ones, uh-huh. Well, Richard lived, but Robert died. He lived from seven o'clock in the morning till around about two o'clock in the afternoon. I felt bad about it. I felt awfully bad because having twins-twins runs in our family, and I was kind of interested then when I found out that they were twins. Ed couldn't believe it. My sister, Minnie, was out taking care of the children while I was in the hospital, and she said he jumped the fence when he heard that there was another baby. Now he had stayed with me all the time till Richard was born, and then he went back out to the ranch, and when he heard the second baby had come, he jumped the fence! She said she don't know how he. got over that gate, but he did and came into town. He didn't stop to get the car. He got on the horse and rode into town bareback. Why he wouldn't want take time to put a saddle on, but he didn't. Later on they called him again and told him the little one had passed away. When Richard--I had to carry him home. He was such a tiny little thing, and they put him into an incubator, and they kept me there. They used to keep them six weeks, but they kept him two months until he went up to five pounds. I couldn't nurse him. They gave him a formula, and Mrs. Smitten, I think her name was Hannah, why she took care of him.
ERQUIAGA: Which hospital was this?
AGUIRRE: Moore's hospital.
ERQUIAGA: That's on Nevada Street.
AGUIRRE: Yes. So when he got ready to come home, he wasn't quite five pounds, but he was pretty close enough. It was close enough so that they sent the health nurse out to see if I was taking care of him right, and the doctor told me, he says, "Don't you let that baby cry because he would turn blue," and I'd have to turn him upside down. Having experienced knowing what to do for babies and having been a midwife I had learned these things, so I knew how to take care of my baby. Well, if he started in crying, he'd turn blue, and I'd had to turn him upside and quiet him down, and then he was all right. I didn't allow him to cry. I carried him around in my arms all the time so he wouldn't cry. If he started in crying or anything like that, he had to be changed or anything, I'd change him or I'd give him a bottle so he could have something to pacify him. He was a year old before I even allowed him to be on his feet, so by the time he was eighteen months old, I knew I was going to have Darlene, and I was disgusted. I was really disgusted that I was going to have another baby right away. Well, what are you going to do about it? Gloria was outside and said, "Don't let my mama cry. Don't let my mama cry." And I thought, "Well, that's a terrible thing for me to feel that way. That isn't right for a mother to feel the way I did," and I felt sorry that I felt that way. I says, "All right." When he was eighteen months old, wintertime had come, and I had tried to teach him to walk, and he wouldn't walk unless he had something to hold on to. Well, he walks along, and all of a sudden he decide he didn't want to walk, so he backed up and he backed against the heater stove. That was all he needed. He came running to me then, and from that time on he walked. He was all right. The girls would watch over him every minute. If he was outdoors they would watch over him, and he never got over turning blue until he was past seven years old when he had an operation. Then he got to a place where he could go and not have those. They said if he lives to be ten years old, why, he'll be lucky. If he lives to be twenty years old, he'll be lucky. This went on and on and on, and I said, "Well, I'm going to tell you I'm going to put him in God's hands." Just the minute that anybody said anything to me. "Oh, he don't have those seizures anymore," I says. With the seizures, he just turned blue and had a heart condition. A congenital heart condition, and until he had that operation, then he would have these spells.
ERQUIAGA: What kind of an operation was it?
AGUIRRE: Well, they took and they removed his tonsils for him, and they removed those tonsils in fifteen minutes. From the time that he got in there it was one half hour when I got him to St. Mary's Hospital. I told them the condition that the boy was in and all about him, and they said, "We'll take care of it." Well, this doctor operated on him, and he told me, "Don't worry." They gave him a shot when he came in and boom! see, he was off in never-never land. They gave him another shot to stop the blood from going too fast 'cause he was a bleeder. They took him up the elevator to be operated on. When he came down, well, I was worried. I mean I was worried. They said, "We're bringing him out of this right away quick. As quick as we can." So, anyway, they brought him out and he got all right. I had to watch him. I still worried about him even when he got older, but he didn't have any more troubles.
ERQUIAGA: He was seven when he had that operation?
AGUIRRE: Yeah. When he had the operation. But to go back there to him, right after he was eighteen months old, but it was twenty-one months difference between Darlene and him. When Darlene came she was the cutest little thing. Only she had all this edema trouble that I'd had. See, all the swelling went out of my body and went into her body, and the doctor told me, he says, "She saved your life for you, and you didn't realize it."
AGUIRRE: He said, "You should be glad that she was born when she was." 'Cause when I went to see him, he says, "Now, listen, that girl's going to save your life for you." That baby, I mean. "That baby's going to save your life for you. You be glad that you are pregnant again as soon as you are." Well, I felt ashamed of myself. People would say, "Which is the oldest? The boy or the girl?" 'Cause here she is walking around, nine months old running down the street. I said, "I can't believe it," but she's a-running down the street there. Nine months old. Little thing. She'd come back to find me because I decided I was going to break this girl's habit of running off from me. No more trouble, 'cause I hid in a doorway. "Mommy, Mommy, Mommy." She's back. Richard wouldn't go to town. Every time I wanted him to go to town, he'd cry, so I had to leave him home with the older girls. I'd take Darlene with me. Well, you know, this woman here had to learn a lot of things about life. She had to learn that some things work for the benefit instead of trouble why sometimes it benefits you to have these troubles that you get. Well, she grew up. She grew fast. Four months she was sitting up by herself. By the time she was six months old, she's walking around the crib. By the time she was seven months, she was taking her steps out on the floor, and Mrs. Berney got after me, and she said, "Don't let that baby out there like that." I said, "Try and keep her." Dennis, her grandson, was eight months, and he wouldn't even sit up, and she said, "Don't let her do that." I said, "Keep her from walking. Just try." She grew fast, and she was always that way. She matured fast. Life went on for her. She's a bright, brilliant girl. Well, I think she's bright, anyway. She's a health nurse back in West Virginia now. Put her through nursing school. Gloria was a teacher, and Margaret worked as a cashier when she grew up, and Jenny, why, they both married brothers, and Jenny took up LPN work. So I said, "Well, all my family worked real good together." We wanted to send Richard off to college. No, no, we couldn't do that. But anyway-
ERQUIAGA: He didn't want to go, you mean?
AGUIRRE: He wanted to go, but Ed told him, he says, "I need you." [End of tape 2 side A]
ERQUIAGA: Ed wasn't feeling so good?
AGUIRRE: Well, he wasn't feeling too well. He was having trouble with his stomach. Eventually he was having trouble with his stomach out on the ranch. He wanted to sell the ranch, and I said, "No, don't sell the ranch." It was his appendix, and I knew that he wasn't having a easy time. It worried me because it meant that I had the whole responsibility of all the men that come there to work because he couldn't work. I guess if it wasn't for your husband, Tony, coming over there and making life happier for us. He'd come by, and he'd always say, "Hi, beautiful" to the kids, and they all got a thrill out of that.
ERQUIAGA: Now, Tony Erquiaga was your husband's nephew, right?
AGUIRRE: Yes. He was Ed's nephew. But, I forgot to tell you the time that I went right after our marriage we went over to his place. That's the first time I met the family, you know. And they had a turkey--no it was two chickens. One at one end of the table and one was at the other end, and Felix was sitting at one end there. He picked up the whole chicken. He put it on the table on his plate. He said, "Well, that's awfully nice. Giving me that chicken." And we thought he was kidding. And Fladia says, "You put that back," in Spanish. "It's for everybody." "Oh, no. That's my chicken." Well, we felt--I didn't know what to do. I didn't want to laugh, and yet I felt like laughing. They argued for awhile, and pretty soon he put it back. They cut the chicken up.
ERQUIAGA: This was Felix Arrizabalaga?
AGUIRRE: Yeah. The rest of the family wasn't there, but Felix was. The girls all got a kick out of that, too.
ERQUIAGA: Did you have to hire quite a few people to work on the farm when Ed wasn't so well?
AGUIRRE: My brother come to stay there, and he worked on the ranch, and then we had a man that came in. His name was Bill--I forgot what his last name was. He had a motorcycle.
ERQUIAGA: And what was your brother's name?
AGUIRRE: My brother's was William, but we call him Bill. Oh, Bill Anson was the other guy's name. I said, "You come in for breakfast." We had the bunkhouse. We lived on Cushman Road then. He would come in, but he wasn't a congenial sort of a person. He said, "I don't take orders from a woman." I said, "You're going to have to take orders from me because my husband is not well, and he needs somebody to take it, and it's my responsibility." "Well, okay." I said, "If you want to be the boss, tell the guys what to do in the field, while you go ahead and show them how to hay and things like that. That's fine. I don't care, but when you're in my house you do what I tell you." And he seen that I meant it, too. "Well, all right."
ERQUIAGA: Well, by this time did you have a better cook stove when you were cooking for all these people?
AGUIRRE: Well, yes, I had a Malibal stove. I had a good stove.
ERQUIAGA: What's that? That's the brand name?
AGUIRRE: The name of it. It was a great big stove, and I had a water tank on the side of it. We fixed it so that we could heat the water up in that big tank.
ERQUIAGA: Was it a woodburning stove?
AGUIRRE: It was a woodburning stove, yeah, but we fixed it so it was attached to water, and they would run through pipes that was in the firebox and warm up the water that was in the tank. I could tell you about that darn tank, though. Ed decided he was going to put a shower. We didn't have a bathroom. We had to make a bath. He decided that he was going to put a shower out there. So he run the water from the hot water tank. Forgot about cold water. (laughing) He turned the faucet on. He got showered. (laughing) This is before he got sick. (laughing) I still have to laugh. He said, "Oooh. I'm going to have to do something different."
ERQUIAGA: Did he get burned?
AGUIRRE:It was just starting to come. He knew then right away that that water was hot because of the way it was getting a little warmer. He knew that it was getting hot. He turned the faucet off. "Well," I said, "funny things happen."
ERQUIAGA: Did you have a refrigerator?
AGUIRRE: No, when we first married we didn't have a refrigerator. When we moved out on Cushman Road, we didn't have refrigerator. We had a-cooler on the outside, and you pour water. It dripped down on the cloth and things that we had in front and that kept things cool. All my meat and things like that that I wanted to preserve, I had to cook it and can it. I had to can all my meat in order to preserve meat. It was the same just like my vegetables. Then it wasn't until we moved on Cushman Road and we were there I guess after Darlene was born. That was 1939. I had been washing on a washboard then he decided to get me a washing machine and a refrigerator. "So," he said, "well, we don't have very much room in the little kitchen for things here. I'm going to have to build onto the house." So, he built on two more rooms onto the house so that we had a larger kitchen and nice living room. When he got the refrigerator out there we had more room. I finished up the cabinets myself in the kitchen. Little coincidence there, we didn’t have TV-
ERQUIAGA: Did you have a radio?
AGUIRRE: The radio we had was--Portia Blake, that's the only thing we listened to. The telephones would ring, ring, ring, ring. To get the operator you'd have to ring and then you told the operator. If you called on your own line, all you had to do was to ring your own ring, but if you wanted to get the operator then you had a certain other ring. There, at that time, the telephone office wasn't made. It was in that little stone building where the, I guess they had a sheriff's office in there as well as a telephone office there together.
ERQUIAGA: Right next to the courthouse?
AGUIRRE: In the courthouse.
ERQUIAGA: Next to it.
AGUIRRE: I guess it must have been around 1930 or '31 that they started in fixing the Maine Street, and that was right down the center of the street. [Andy] Drumm fixed them, and the highway to go to Austin went right down Center Street to Harrigan Road, out Harrigan Road across down through what we call Berney Road now and out by Grimes. That's the way the highway ran, and by the time that my girls and Richard was born we had a real good highway. That was a good thing to have.
ERQUIAGA: What did you do for entertainment, or did you have time to think about entertainment?
AGUIRRE: We had a comb, we'd get a comb. Now, Darlene was taking music lessons on piano, so she would play the piano and the kids'd all get little combs and put a piece of paper on them, and they'd hum songs that she was singing, and then they'd have to act out their own little skits that they wanted to put on plays. Gloria was the instigator of that. I guess that was the teacher coming out in her, but she had to have little plays.
ERQUIAGA: You made your own . . .
AGUIRRE: She'd get Darlene and put shavings on her hair that was supposed to be curls, and I had an awful hard time with that Gloria. When she was little she'd think up so many things. She'd get up in the middle of the night when she was around about ten years old and start in a-mopping my floors for me. I said, "Gloria, go back to bed. You wake up everybody in here." "Oh, well, all right." We had earthquakes, why it was the same thing. She had to be the first one to find out what was going on. "Stay in bed, Gloria. Stay in bed." Darlene wouldn't. She hollered out when we had that one earthquake. "Don't move now. Don't move 'cause Mama said so." Well, we got out in the kitchen. "Oh, my golly! You know, that little old man . . ." And I said, "Little old man. What? What? What about little old man?" "Well, he's laying on the floor." "My gosh, did somebody come into my house?" And I went out there, and it was the cookie jar. It was an old cookie jar, and it was a little old Dutchman, and the man was laying on the floor. It was Gloria that found these things. Well, it was Gloria that decided that we should go to Fallon and find out what's going on in Fallon after the earthquakes. So, really she has been one that had ideas in her. Do this and do that and they've always turned out real nice. Good things.
ERQUIAGA: So, then, when she went on to college, where did she go?
AGUIRRE: She went to LaSierra College. It was a Seventh Day Adventist college that she went to, and we gave her a thousand dollars, and she saved her thousand dollars and worked her way through college. Became a teacher.
ERQUIAGA: Where is LaSierra College?
AGUIRRE: That's down past Los Angeles.
ERQUIAGA: Oh, she went a long ways from home, then.
AGUIRRE: Oh, she refused to go to Pasadena. She had a scholarship. She could have went there, but she wouldn't do it. Huh-uh, no, siree. She wasn't going to go there. She wanted to go to LaSierra, and that's where she went. Well, I said, "Okay." Ed was going to get awful sick, and Doctor Shambaugh, 'Huh-uh, you ought to be ashamed of yourself. You let that girl go to college." Well, then he felt better about it then. Whether he felt ashamed of himself, he never mentioned, but she went to college. The same way with Darlene. Darlene got a scholarship through the Soroptimists and went to college. She became a nurse, but she didn't work her way through college. We had a tremendous bill to pay before she could even get her degree. (laughing) I think I sold everything that I possibly could sell to pay her bills off (laughing) but we're glad anyway that we could do that much anyway because they've all accomplished a lot, and the same way, I said, you know, Ed's family--I think when I said Ed's family, that is Tony and Fladia and Pilar and all of them there.
ERQUIAGA: All the Erquiagas.
AGUIRRE: All the Erquiagas have meant an awful lot to me. Maybe they didn't understand, I don't know, that all I needed was a family. I needed to belong to somebody, and I was so afraid to become a person with a family that sometimes I made a lot of mistakes, but they understood my mistakes and because they understood things like that we got along fine.
ERQUIAGA: Well, it sounds like you were awfully busy, and I'm trying to figure out how you had time to do all this community work that you've done.
AGUIRRE: I had the 4-Hers when the girls were young. Even my boy learned how to sew. I had the first boys' club for cooking. We went out camping, and they entered the things in the State Fair. They got their prizes for their work. Some of them got blue ribbons. Some of them got red ribbons. Some of them got white ribbons, but they still done their work.
ERQUIAGA: Where did you take them camping?
AGUIRRE: We went out here to Coleman's Dam. We went out there, and they made little pits. I showed them how to make a little pit. You see, this is Campfire training and Girl Scout training that I had when I was young.
ERQUIAGA: I see.
AGUIRRE: I learned how to do camp cooking, and I knew that I had to make a hole in the ground so that they could contain the fire in there. Which reminds me, I took Darlene one time when we were in Girl Scouts, and she got into some ants, and I said, "Well, get in the car and take your clothes off." And I never thought about those ants was going to come off in the car! We had a terrible time trying to get those ants out of that car so the girls could ride home with us 'cause we took the whole bunch of them out.
ERQUIAGA: Did your husband go on these camping trips?
ERQUIAGA: Just you?
AGUIRRE: He never went with the Girl Scouts or anything like that. And when I was young I belonged to the Campfire Girls as well as I did to the Girl Scouts. I belonged to the Girls' Reserve. What it is now, I don't know. Why I even belonged to it I don't know. I was a 4-Her, but these things there, every time I would get something nice, then the orphanage would take them away from me.
ERQUIAGA: Oh, this is when you were a child, and you lived in an orphanage for a while?
AGUIRRE: From the time I was four years old. I was sent to the orphanage because I wasn't wanted. I was there through World War I. World War I came, and the nurse that was taking care of me--see the children from the crawler babies, you know, that crawled, up till they're five years old, they had to go in what they called the nursery. Second nursery, and there was a German nurse in there, and she's going to take me over to Germany so I could sing for the Kaiser. I'm learning all these songs so I can sing for the Kaiser. Well, I didn't have the least idea who the Kaiser was, but along comes time to go to school, and she says, "Now, we're going to leave, and I'm coming down. I'm going to pick you up. Don't make any fuss or anything like that. I'll just come and pick you up and you know that we're going to go." Well, I had a big mouth, and I told my teacher, "I'm going to go and sing for the Kaiser." I was in the second grade by then, "Oh, you're going to sing for the Kaiser? Oh!" When it was time for school to be out, here comes one of the field ladies from the orphanage, and she carried me all the way home. "Why?" "Well, now, I hear that you're planning on taking a trip, and I think maybe we ought to talk it over before you decided to go." When I got back, the nurse was gone. Well, I didn't go. I didn't go to Germany. I didn't sing for the Kaiser, and it was right afterwards that the World War I broke out. Our food was short. If we seen any pits from the apricots from the peaches or any of those that had large pits, they were used to make gas masks for the boys. And we sang all kinds of war songs. At Christmas time we didn't get the candy that we would want. I wanted a doll so bad, and I couldn't have it. I got an old quill pen that had a feather on it, and I hated that thing. I mean, I didn't want a pen. I wanted a doll, and they had one doll for all those kids. Thirty-six little ones. First one to the playroom got the doll. Well, I never would get there fast enough. That's the orphanage.
ERQUIAGA: Do you think that's why you were so willing to help start your Girl Scouts and 4-H?
AGUIRRE: It might have contributed to it. I don't know. I couldn't say whether it was or not. It would be a guess, but it's been busy. I had these Girl Scouts. I had the 4-Hers. When I got here I didn't find a Campfire group or anything like that. It wasn't because I didn't want to join the Campfire girl or tell them what I could do to help them, but after I helped Richard raise his children when their mother left them, why I had been working in the hospital. I worked in the Handley Hospital.
ERQUIAGA: Here in Fallon?
AGUIRRE: Yeah, here in Fallon, and I worked there for two years and then I worked at Flora Morris' even after my family was starting to grow. They were old enough to kind of take care of themselves. I went to work in the hospital, and I worked at Handley's Hospital where Dr. Wray was, then he bought the Handley Hospital.
ERQUIAGA: And that's out on what is now Auction Road?
AGUIRRE: Auction Road, uh-huh, and then later when the Churchill Community Hospital, I went in there, and Willetta Whomes said, "Yes, we need somebody at night, night duty." I had to leave the children all night. They had to fix their own breakfast, but I was there to fix the other meals for them, and I would get up just around about four thirty when the kids'd come home, and after I got home, then I would go back to bed after supper time and sleep until around about eleven, then get up.
ERQUIAGA: Was your family involved in church activities?
AGUIRRE: Oh, yeah. I always been to Catholic Church until I went in there and, of course, Eladia told Pilar to tell me, "Have Ed get you another dress." I said, "What's wrong with the dress I got on?" "Well, there's nothing wrong with that dress." To me there wasn't anything wrong with my dress. There's some things that we just don't like to relate, that's all. How the people misunderstand the situation. She said, "Have Ed get you a dress." So I said, "All right." When I got home I told Ed I wanted a new dress, "Well, why? What's wrong with the dress you got on?" "Nothing's wrong with it, but Eladia says for you to buy me a new dress. I need a new slip to go with it, and you can get me some underclothing, too, while you're at it." "Oh, my gosh, woman. You mean to tell me you're going to show the priest your underclothing?" I said "No. That's terrible for you to talk that way." "Well, you're not going back to church. That's all there is to it. You're not going back." "But, honey, I've got to raise the children. They have to be in church." "Well, you're not going." Well, my neighbor came down, and she said to me, "Would you like to go to church with me?" I said, "I can't go to church." She says, "I'm going to talk to Ed." I said, "He'll tell you no. He told me no." She went out and talked to him, and I followed behind, staying off, kind of wondering what he's going to say, and she says, "Can Frances go to church with me?" "Well, what church you go to?" "Well, we keep the Sabbath Day. We go to church on Saturday." "Oh, Sabbath? Sabbath? Oh! Sabbath! Oh, yes. Well, I guess." So, if I'm Seventh Day Adventist its because he told me to be.
ERQUIAGA: That provided some social life for your children, I imagine.
AGUIRRE: Yes, and it was just around about that time--see, this happened before Gloria was born. At that time, 1932, my neighbors all come down there and wanted me to join the Homemaker's club, so here I am a Homemaker expecting a baby. Connie Achurra comes to visit me and she brings her baby and when she leaves she left the baby's cap, and she calls me, "Mrs. Aguirrey, Mrs. Aguirrey?" "Yes." "Did I leave the baby's cap?" I said, "This isn't Aguirrey. This is Aguirres?" "Don't you know your own name?" "Well, it's Aguirre." "It isn't either. It's Aguirrey." So I wondered then what's going on. I go out and ask Ed, "What is my name?" "Well, your name is Frances Aguirre now." "But that isn't what that lady said." I couldn't remember how you pronounced her name. I said, "That isn't that. That lady that come to visit us. Now, what is her name?" "Oh, you mean Connie Achurra?" I said, "Well, I guess that. She said she left the baby's cap." "Oh, well, what did she say?" "She said I didn't know my name. My name is kind of Gearee or something like that." He says, "I know. I know. You're going to learn to say it. So, Mrs. Agearee," and I learned to say the name. Well, Connie Achurra (laughing) and her husband (laughing) laughed about that for years about me being so dumb, I guess. But, believe me, after all my children were born and in college and everything like that, I was so glad that I could do something. After I raised Richard's children after their mother left them, and I had the responsibility of them, Ed says, "You're not going to send them to an orphanage. You're not going to put them out in foster homes. We'll take care of them."
ERQUIAGA: How many children were there?
ERQUIAGA: And how old were they when… pretty small?
AGUIRRE: Emma was six months old, and Darrell was six years old, and the other two were in between.
ERQUIAGA: How old were you at that time?
AGUIRRE: Oh, I was in my fifties or sixties, something like that. I forgot.
ERQUIAGA: Was it pretty hard for you to go back to taking care of small children?
AGUIRRE: Take thirty away from my age now.
ERQUIAGA: What I meant was, was it pretty hard for you to go back to taking care of small children?
AGUIRRE: No, it wasn't. It didn't bother me at all because I had been taking children into my home, anyway out on the ranch until I went back to working in the hospital. When my children were all growing up I had these other children, too, that I raised along. Judge Guild told me, "We need a home. Somebody who loves children. Somebody who will take care of them. See that they're fed and still be firm so that the children don't run over you."
ERQUIAGA: Did you have very many other children?
AGUIRRE: All together I raised thirty-six foster children in my home. I mean, over a period of years. My children were little, but I added these other children as they came along needed help. I'm glad I did it.
ERQUIAGA: I'm sure you are.
AGUIRRE: I've always felt kind of sad about how some of the things turned out. Two little boys from England that were left with me, one couldn't feed himself and here he was five years old. His brother was six years old, but he was blind. He had tunnel vision. He could see out of the side, but he couldn't see forward, and so, "I'm going to teach you, David, to eat. To feed yourself." [End of tape 2]
ERQUIAGA: -3 side 1 and you were talking about the little boy who-
AGUIRRE: Little David. Because had tunnel vision and he looked from the side I'd try to teach him. I'd look to the side like this way. "Now dip your spoon in." He'd dip his spoon in. I'd say, "Now, put it in your mouth." Well, he learned to eat then by himself, so when his mother come to visit him--she was in the process of getting a divorce--and she wanted to leave these two children with me. She was from England. She said, "You'll have to watch Steven." That was the older brother. I said, "Well, what's the trouble so I can correct it?" "Well, sometimes, he's disobedient." I said, "Well, he'll learn." But when he'd get angry then he would cuss a blue streak. I said, "You don't cuss. You don't say bad words like that. Now we just don't say that here. You don't hear the other children talk that way." 'Cause I had other children, too, but this one, two little children they came there, I'm speaking of, and Gloria says, "Mama, when he does that, let's cut those words out of his mouth." Now, the habit was that we would take the newspaper, and we would cut a word out. That was supposed to be the word that they said that they're not supposed to say. You cut that entire word out. Well, his misunderstanding, he didn't know. He'd glare at me. He was kind of afraid. "I'm gonna tell my mama." "Okay, you tell your mama." Well, I didn't explain to him. It was my fault. I didn't explain to him what we were doing, and one day he let out a oath, and he was coming in the back door, and I had the butcher knife. I was cutting bread for the evening meal, and I had the knife in my hand. I said, "Steven, don't you ever say those words again. Those are bad words." "Oh, Mama Frances, Mama Frances, please don't cut me. Don't cut me." I looked and here I had this butcher knife in my hand and I didn't realize that he seen that knife, and he heard Gloria say that. He thought that I was going to cut him. Well, all I could do was go over there. I laid that knife down. I went over to him, and I said, "Why, you know, Mama Frances would never do a thing like that to you. What we do is to take the scissors and we cut a word out of the paper. That word is a bad word so we don't use that word again. After it's out of the paper you can't say that word again."
ERQUIAGA: And did that work with him?
AGUIRRE: That worked. Every time he'd start to say anything, he'd stop for a minute. I said maybe seeing that knife did kind of remind him. I don't know. I couldn't tell you what a child thinks. The mother come to see, and she was using bad words, too. I told her, I said, "You know, Steven uses bad words." She says, "Well, he does?" I said, "Yes, and you know where he got them from?" "Why, I haven't the least idea!" I said, "You're going to find out." We were sitting there, and all of a sudden she let out some of those words, and I said, "That's where he got his words." She says, "Did I say something?" I said, "Yes. You swore when you were talking. You used bad language, and that child's repeating what you say." She said, "You know, I never realized that." He was there with me through six months. Then she came and she got him and took him up to Floriston. She got married up there. A year later I read in the paper where David and Steven fell into the Truckee River. David fell in, and Steven went to get him, and they found their bodies a mile down the . . . They had washed up on some rock. They'd found their bodies. They had looked all around trying to find those children because they disappeared, and the only thing they could think of according to the papers was that maybe they'd went by the waters. He still hadn't recovered his sight. He still had that tunnel vision, and he didn't know what he was doing. Oh, that made me feel so sad because I guess having the children and everything they done, and when they made their mistakes it made me sad. When they had nice things happen to them, it made me glad. I took in three mothers who were expecting, and I got them married off. I said there has to be a father and a mother. "I don't like the father." "That don't make any difference. You loved one another to get yourself into a mess like this why you love that man enough to give yourself to him to get married so that child have a name." "Okay." They contacted the young man. Well, they didn't want him to know they were pregnant 'cause they didn't like him. I said, "You tell 'em that you're pregnant." One girl married a Mexican boy, and she had eleven children by the time she got all through. Now, that is very prolific. The other one went down to California. She had three children.
ERQUIAGA: Did you keep in touch with her?
AGUIRRE: Oh, yes. But the other girl, no. And the other girl run away. She come, and then she'd run away, and I told her, "If you don't want to stay here, why, you just go." "Well, I don't know where to go to." And I said, "Well, you have to understand this. That I take you in to my home not because I have to but because I want to help you, and if you can't stay here and act like the other girls do, why then maybe you should find someplace else where you do like it." Well, she was gone for a whole week one time there. When she came back, I asked, "Where you been?" "Oh, I went down the neighbors." "Well, that's all right, then." Well, she left. I never did hear. One girl we kept track with because her husband eventually was living in Elko. And one of the ladies up there… [drifts off and then tape cuts out]
ERQUIAGA: Maybe we should go on and talk about what a midwife does.
AGUIRRE: Oh, well, this is what I done when I was in training there. We had a place to stay and all, the young nurses. They had a dormitory there, and the nurses stayed in the nurses' dormitory. Then you went to the main hospital when it was time for you to go to school or where you went to work. Half of the class met in the morning. Half the class met in the afternoon. If you were in the morning class, then you worked in the afternoon. Learned to be a midwife. If you went to class in the afternoon, then you worked in the morning time.
ERQUIAGA: Now, this was back in Nebraska?
AGUIRRE: Yes, when you were in training, you had to be right in the delivery room, and we were observed. We also had a mannequin which we learned to deliver babies on. That was for the new nurses, and she'd have a baby. First she'd get all puffed up. Then, all of a sudden, why she's gonna have a baby.
ERQUIAGA: Now, this is the mannequin?
AGUIRRE: The mannequin, uh-huh. So, we learned to deliver babies by a mannequin. She was put onto a table just like a delivery table. We had all of our equipment that we had to use in delivery that was there. We had to learn to use the towels and the forceps and everything like that that had to be used. Someone pretend like they're the doctor. Now, in case of emergency or anything like that, they did have to have the doctor. Every midwife unless she couldn't reach the doctor, always would call a doctor if there was anything that was going too wrong. You could tell.
ERQUIAGA: The way it was here in Fallon, too?
AGUIRRE: Yeah, yeah. You had to call a doctor to have him available. They would deliver the baby, and then they had to learn how to take care of that baby afterwards, but all of this process in time after a time then you went in to the regular delivery room, and you learned to work.
ERQUIAGA: Did you go into anyone's homes to help deliver babies?
AGUIRRE: We never went into anyone's homes. No never.
ERQUIAGA: They had to come to the hospital?
AGUIRRE: Yeah. They had to come to the hospital.
ERQUIAGA: Well, some of these ladies here in Fallon...
AGUIRRE: I know, where's there a small community, but this is big city, and they had several hospitals in a big city. They could go somewhere else if they wanted to even, but because this was the lying-in hospital, they didn't take any other patients but them.
ERQUIAGA: And even in Fallon you didn't go to anyone's homes?
ERQUIAGA: You just worked at the hospital.
AGUIRRE: No, I didn't. I worked right at the hospital. Yet in McGill it was different. We fixed a sack with all the equipment that we needed for delivering babies. We had newspapers. We didn't have old sheets unless we went into the home and asked them for old sheets. They kept a large sack with all things in it. They were wrapped to keep them clean and everything, so when the baby was ready to be delivered, then you had something available there. Only delivered two babies in McGill because Ely was nearby. They had two hospitals over there. But in the emergency you were able to have these things, so there was only two babies that I ever delivered by myself in McGill, and that was in their home. I said I didn't go to the homes, but I was thinking about when I moved here. Here I delivered babies by myself and (laughing) some of these mothers, I think about it afterwards would go around, "She delivered my baby for me." (laughing)
ERQUIAGA: Is there something else you wanted to tell me about the doctors?
AGUIRRE: Yeah. When I first came here we had Dr. Sawyer, Dr. Myers, Dr. Summerbell, and Dr. Nichols. That was the only doctors that I knew of. Dr. Elliott came a little later, and I worked in the hospital with all of them. Dr. Summerbell and Dr. Nichols I didn't, no. Dr. Summerbell was a medical doctor, but he never done any work in any of the hospitals. Dr. Nichols had his own place, and what he did in his own office, I don't know. I worked with Dr. Dingacci. I worked with Dr. Shambaugh. I worked with Dr. Sawyer. I worked with Dr. Elliott. Those doctors were the ones that delivered babies. Come to the hospital to deliver them, and some of them I got along with fine. We had some of the doctors that came there. Dr. Shambaugh was a very good person. He was very clean about himself about how he disposed of things that had to be disposed of, but I had a terrible time with a couple of the other doctors. They'd throw things on the floor or they'd throw them up in the air. Working at night I had to climb a stepladder to get those things off 'cause I had to clean up for the next, in case there was another case come in, and that wasn't pleasant having to climb a ladder to clean the ceiling off, and finally I just bawled them out. I said, "There's a bucket there. Why don't you use it?" He said, "What's your name?" I said, "My name is Frances Aguirre, and I am a qualified midwife, and I know how babies are to be born, and I know the process that people like you are supposed to do." And I never had anymore trouble with him from then on. He'd always say, "Oh, it's you."
ERQUIAGA: What time was this . . .
AGUIRRE: I went on at twelve o'clock at night, and I worked until eight o'clock in the morning. Sometimes it was past eight because if there was any child being born, and I was in that delivery room when it was time to come on duty from morning duty or anything like I stayed with her until that patient was in bed even if it went up to nine.
ERQUIAGA: What years?
AGUIRRE: Gloria was in college. I think it was about the second year that the hospital was built.
ERQUIAGA: This present hospital?
ERQUIAGA: That would have been the late forties?
AGUIRRE: That was around about nineteen fifty . . . it's in the fifties anyway.
ERQUIAGA: I see.
AGUIRRE: I know that Willetta got after some of the nurses. She said, "You leave Frances alone." They'd leave work for me to do. If there was a delivery that was coming up, and that delivery was at ten o'clock, and they would leave their work if the mother wasn't out of there by twelve. Sometimes it takes a long time for them to have. They put them into bed for a while until they're ready to deliver. They have to be examined, and I learned these things when I was in training that they had to be examined. Be ready to have that baby. At that time when I was in training, we didn't give them anything to induce them to have babies.
ERQUIAGA: I see.
AGUIRRE: But in Churchill Public Hospital they used to give them inductions to help them to have their babies. One of the patients came in, and I could see she was going to have that baby real quick. I examined her, and I said to the head nurse, "Call the doctor," 'cause the doctors want to be called. They don't want their babies to be delivered unless they deliver them. In an emergency I went ahead and delivered the baby, so, anyway, she says, "Well, we're not going to have a baby right now. You don't know what you're talking about." I said, "Hey, you might have got your education in Bellvue. That don't make it any worse than what it is. I know something about Bellvue, too." That's in New York. I said, "You might have worked there. You might have got your education there. I got an education, too. She's ready to have her baby. Now, call the doctor." Well, she wouldn't do it. I delivered her baby. She had a beautiful baby boy. It was fine. I took care of the baby. When the doctor came in why he took one look at it, and he said, "Well, whatta you know?" "Doctor, you've got a baby here, haven't you?" I said, "Yes." He turned to the head nurse, and he says, "Why wasn't I called sooner?" She says, "Well, I didn't think that she was going to have the baby." I said, "Indian people have babies quicker than other people. This woman is part Indian. If she came in she isn't going to come in until that baby is ready to be born and she wants to have it in the hospital. You know that she's not in there just for fun." I delivered her baby. Before her baby was born I had delivered a neighbor's baby, and she said to me, "I'm going to name it Aloysious."I said, "You're crazy.""Ohsh, nah." She decided, no, Aloysious isn't a funny name to name a baby. I said, "Yes, it is." They're well-known people. They got a relations that live around here in Fallon. The little boy is living today and he's got a family of his own.
ERQUIAGA: And he's not Aloysious.
AGUIRRE: And he's not an Aloysious. So, I said, "Well, your name is Mike," and they were close by where I lived. Then one of the other neighbors when they had their baby, I delivered, and it was a little girl. She is a beautiful girl, a beautiful baby. I delivered her brother. The little girl turned out to be a wonderful person. Her husband was a heck of a person. I couldn't say too much for him. He come in and he gets a certificate for a cow. A calf was born to so and so. Well, we laughed about it in the hospital because he called his a baby a calf.
ERQUIAGA: Was he a dairy farmer? Why did he think that was cute?
AGUIRRE: Well, I guess he just thought it was. He was a close by person. I knew my neighbors. I knew all about Bunny Cushman. I knew that her name was Mary. These children as they came along. I recognized their folks as being people who could well afford it, and they were charged awful by the doctors. And I said, "That isn't being fair" to them. I got after one of the doctors because a young girl came in there. This is in the middle of the night, and she is crying and crying and crying and crying, and I told her, "Don't cry, honey. I know that you're having this baby, but just remember this. This is a lesson to you. It isn't a lesson to me, and it isn't a lesson to your mother or anything like that. That's a lesson to you. You have that child. You'll be glad that it's over with." The doctor come in. Because she was crying, he told her, "Shut up" like that to her. Says, "I didn't put it there." I said, "Doctor, don't you ever talk to one of my patients like that." "Your patient?" I said, "Yes. Don't you ever talk to my patient like that. You have taken an oath, and you know it, and you don't talk that way." He looked at me, "Oh." Well, she had her baby, and the poor little thing was so frightened. Well, she had no business fooling around with the boys, but she'd got pregnant. She's got a beautiful home now. She's got a beautiful child. She's a happy person. Another one come in there one time, the mother and father come in and says, "This girl is going to have a baby and we don't want people to know anything about it." The doctor says, "Well, all I can think of is she had an appendectomy." "Oh, well, all right." She had her baby. They took the baby away to have it adopted out, and they fixed her so that she never could have any more babies. I seen her afterwards, and I said, "Have you ever had any children since you got married?" "No, I never will have children." "Why?" "Because my mother and father insisted on them tying the cords, so I never gonna have children now." I said, "That was a terrible thing for your mother and father to do, but life is one thing. Your mother and father's ruling over you, and they had the right to tie you, but still they should have given you a choice." Another family came in from Oregon. They had twin babies. I delivered the first set of twins in Community Hospital up there. Oh, my gosh. The mother says, "I can't be having a baby." Her husband says, "No, she can't. I just got back a month ago." I said, "Where you been?" "In Guam." "Oh, is that right? Did you see any pretty girls over there?" "Oh, yes." Now, I'm talking to him by himself when he made off about his wife couldn't be having a baby. He says, "Well, I'm a man. You know how it is." I said, "Your wife is a woman, too. You've been gone a whole year, and you tell me that wife didn't want to have friends. Maybe she made a mistake, but, if I ever hear that you are mean to your wife and that you did things that is against her religion and your religion both, you better make up right quick with her and tell her it's all right." He went into her bedroom after the babies were born, and he says, "Honey, you know we all make mistakes in this world. I knew you were lonesome. I was lonesome, too. I made mistakes, too." They went on down to Arizona. I don't know how they turned out. They took their babies with them, and yet she told me, "No, no, I can't have a baby." I said, "But you are." She was going to sit on the bathroom there to have her baby, and when she went into there, I took a towel with me. I said that girl was gonna have a baby and doggone quick. She would not get onto the table so that I could prep her or get her ready, but when that baby came she was willing to get on the table and go into the delivery room. The same head nurse said to me, "No, she said that she wasn't pregnant. She couldn't be pregnant. I said, "Well, I don't care what they say. That's true." This is all things that are happening in the hospital. Maybe some of the things that I have said shouldn't be revealed, but I'm trying not to reveal any names.
ERQUIAGA: Well, I'm curious. When did you start working at the Senior Center?
AGUIRRE: After I raised Richard's children.
ERQUIAGA: Oh, and what year was that?
AGUIRRE: Emma was born in 1966 in May, and we got her in November. I went to her house. [End of tape 3 side] And the oldest one was sitting there crying. I said, "What's the matter, Darrell?" "I can't find my mommy. My mommy isn't here." "Oh, well, what happened?" "I don't know. She walked down the road." I said, "Well, she'll be back pretty soon." Looked around, and I stayed there and stayed there and nobody come. I cleaned the kids up. I went in the house. I never was allowed in the house, so I went into the house. It was in a deplorable condition. My house right now isn't as clean as it should be, but her house was in a deplorable condition. How Richard put up with it I'll never know, but he never said one word to me about the condition. I told him, "You make your bed, you lay in your bed. You don't make any complaints to me. I'm a mother-in-law and I'll not have anything to say. If you want to tell me, that's as far as it goes. I stay out of your business. I don't interfere. I won't." But the girl was not satisfied to live with one man, and it made it hard for Richard, too. She left the kids, that's all there was to it. So I called the neighbors living in the big ranch house. They were living in a duplex, and I called the neighbor, and I said, "Would you watch these children?" Well, I've got to get home. I've got to take care of my husband. He isn't very well. I had to get home. And they said, "Oh, sure we will." I said, "Here. Here's five dollars until Richard can get back from the Government Pasture." He was down at the Government Pasture. Richard says when he'd got home they'd taken the kids all down to the drain ditch, and he had told them, "You don't take those children to the drain ditch 'cause the little ones might get away from you and decide to go in." Especially Darrell 'cause he loved water. That's the way it went. Then the welfare came to me, and they said they either put those children into a foster home or orphanage or you take care of them 'cause the neighbors have called and told us the condition of things. Well, the neighbors had called me, and they said you'd better take a look and see how those children are on the ranch 'cause I hear them crying. Now they were crying loud enough so that the neighbor down below heard them crying, so I talked to Ed, and Ed said, "No, we don't want them any place else. It's our responsibility to take care of those children. Richard is working on the ranch. He cannot be taking care of the children at the same time." We decided that the thing to do was bring those babies in and take care of them. We done just exactly that. I had to give up my bedroom in order to put them in, and I was sleeping on the davano.
ERQUIAGA: By this time you were living in town?
AGUIRRE: Yes, we were living in town.
ERQUIAGA: And kind of turned the ranch over to Richard?
AGUIRRE: We had turned the ranch over to Richard. I guess it was around 1963, 1964, we moved in here. Ed was not able to take care of the ranch. He was not able except that he would go out there to see how things were being run. He still was not able to work like he should. If I had known at that time what the trouble was and done something about it, I think I would have been happier. I don't know. He lived to be an old enough man. He died at eighty-nine going on ninety when he passed away. We took care of those children. Everywhere we went why those children--if we went camping near Lake Tahoe, we took the children with us. It was a big responsibility. The kids started in going to school. Darrell was already going to school. He was all the time running away. He'd go down the ditch and I never knew for sure where he was going to be next because I'd forbid them to go in here because there was a drain ditch, but he would take off, and finally I said, "I can't do this. I can't watch over the other three children and him at the same time and go look and try to find him." So I sent him out to the ranch. Well, he'd send him to school, and the teacher said, "I'll keep him here until you can come in and get him." So, he would have to make a trip every day to the school and pick Darrell up. Well, they got along all right that way. I said, "That was the place for him," because he could run the whole ranch. Be on the whole ranch, and he eventually would show up at the house. Richard says, "Boy, I don't worry about him at all. If he starts in playing or anything like that, we have to watch him." He liked to play like he was Superman and he'd jump off of the top of the roof of the barn. When he nearly broke his neck, why he decided he didn't want to be Superman anymore. (laughing) But, anyway, why the kids grew up gradually, and as they grew up we sent them out to the ranch. About the time that Emma was thirteen years old, Francie was sixteen, and I said, "That ranch is for you. You stay out there on the ranch. You have your horses out there. You have the cows. You have everything. You help your dad as much as you can." And they enjoyed the ranch a lot better than they did in here because Ed wanted to send them to bed at six-thirty. He's thinking of them as being little children. I said, "They're growing up. You can't send those children to bed at that time." Well, here's Emma in school, and Francie's in school, Eddie's in school, and they decided that I was too old to take care of the children.
ERQUIAGA: Who decided that?
AGUIRRE: And I said, "They can come down to the Center. I'm going to work at the Center." And they'd come down there. Because Emma was going to the Oats Park School then, and Francie was way over at West End, and Eddie was Northside then, so Emma was nearby, so she would come down there. Now she's the little one, but we taught her that she walks straight down from the school to the Center. We showed her where the Center was, and she would come in. She had her lunch. She'd sit there. I said, "You be quiet now while you're here. You watch all the things." In the summertime they'd come in. They'd sit down in a chair and they colored books. They had reading books. They had everything to keep them busy while I worked in the Center. After a while Ed started coming to the Center, so he would take them home, and he would bring them here. After they went back to the ranch they'd all go on the bus from school, but while they were little, why they . . .
ERQUIAGA: What kind of work were you doing at the center?
AGUIRRE: Well, when I first started working down there, I said I wasn't going to work down there with all those old folks.
AGUIRRE: The Soroptimist Club cleaned up the place, and I had the job of washing all the windows in the place there. That was a job! That was an old church and all these old windows. I went upstairs and I looked down and I said, "You know, I didn't even know there was any windows in the back there." In the front, why, outside there, I never looked in the back there. Just went outside to look and here the alkali weeds were so high that they were above the windows so I couldn't tell that there was windows, and they were working back there trying to finish up the back room so I didn't go back in there, and I said, "Well, those weeds have to come down. That's all there is to it." So I come home here and get the axe. I had to chop those things. They had great big stems on them. Awfully big, see, and I chopped those things down in order to get them away so I could wash those windows. Well, I got my windows all washed up. Mrs. Ponte, her husband was a carpenter and he was doing the work down there. He volunteered his work to fix that Senior Center up for us. We had volunteers that come in there. One was a paperhanger. He decided to fix that up, but you know something? When they started that place up there, they didn't know that those weeds had been there. Every morning I had to dust but that was after I decided to work there.
ERQUIAGA: Were you a volunteer?
AGUIRRE: I was a volunteer through the Soroptimists. They wanted to give me money to pay for my gas and everything like that through the RSVP, but I wouldn't join the RSVP for one year, and I wouldn't a done that only that the office girl says, "Well, you know, you have to join the RSVP." I said, "Well, if I have to, I guess I have to." But I wasn't going to work down there, but all the director had to say, "You know we just need somebody down here, and we had to have somebody that will help us. The meals come in on the catering service." The meals maybe come in at eleven thirty. Another time they would come in around at one. Maybe they'd come in right on time, and we never knew when we were going to eat, so they decided they had to have a kitchen and a helper. An old man there--I guess he was around about eighty-seven years old. He was a retired cook. He says, "I'll tell you what I'll do. If Frances will help me in the kitchen, I'll direct the cooking." The director says, Charlie Card it was, he says, "Well, Frances, how about it?" Well, Frances is one of these kinds that can't say no, so I said, "Well, all right. I guess I can help out." I'm going in my twenty-fourth year of helping.
ERQUIAGA: Now you are?
AGUIRRE: Yeah. I'm going in now my twenty-fourth year of helping. But there's lots of things that happened down there. Every director that has come in has contributed something for the benefit. We've had--just like any place else--there's some of them that were what I called good directors. Others were not so pleasant, but we don't talk about those things. We try to think of the nice things and the nice people that worked there.
ERQUIAGA: Well, it provides a lot of good things for the senior citizens.
AGUIRRE: Yes, they did.
ERQUIAGA: A place to go and . . .
AGUIRRE: Do you know that if they did not have that place down there, there's a lot of these elderly people who would give up. But where they have something that is interesting, something to do, something to see their neighbors, a socializing, then they're more apt to live a little longer, too, because they come down there. A lady came in one time, and she was so bent over. People had tried to work in her home, and she was very hard to get along with they said. They suggested that she come down to the Senior Citizen Center just to socialize if she would like. Well, she came down when she was all bent up and I took one look at her, and I thought, "I don't know. This poor woman she's so bent I hope that there's some way we can help her." She looked sour. I mean, she had a sour expression. Not a smile or anything else, and I talked to her. I said, "You know, we love you down here. We want you to come and join us. See these people that are come here. Maybe you can help make them happy by coming." Do you know--she kept a-coming--in a year's time she wasn't bent anymore. She'd straightened herself up. She was feeling sorry for herself, I think, in a way, but when she got away and she seen somebody worse than she was. People come in in wheelchairs and crutches and things to eat there, and I says, "See? You don't have to use these things. You should be so happy."
ERQUIAGA: Well, you've done a lot of good down there. I hear . .
AGUIRRE: Well, I don't know if I've done a lot of good, but I've tried to work. I've tried to do my best to be congenial and try to help people the best I know how, and if there's any good that I've made, I give the glory to God. I don't give that glory to myself.
ERQUIAGA: There's one thing that I'm curious about and that's your job that you've taken on as Santa Claus signing Santa Claus's letters. How did you get started with that?
AGUIRRE: Well, the Post Office did that.
ERQUIAGA: Oh, did they? They asked you to do that?
AGUIRRE: They asked if there was anybody at the Senior Citizen Center who'd like to answer Santy Claus letters. So there was three or four of us, why, we decided we'd answer Santa Claus letters. Then the next year instead of having four people, we had around about two, and then pretty soon here I am doing them all by myself. I get such a big kick out of doing it.
ERQUIAGA: How do you know how to answer those letters and keep everybody happy?
AGUIRRE: I think about it in the manner of saying now here, what would I do? Am I going back to my childhood? Where they ask for an awful lot of things, I'll say, "You know, we have just so many things stored away for little boys and girls for Christmas, and I think we only have a certain amount so we can give each child a present. Maybe two or three of them, but we can't give all these expensive presents to just one child. If your mother and father or your uncles or aunts or somebody like that like to give you a present, why, you ask them for these things."
ERQUIAGA: Oh, I see. That's how you . .
AGUIRRE: And I said that Santa has just so many children that he has to bring their presents to, so I know that you're a good boy or I know you're a good girl and you want to share. That's appealing to their thoughts. It gives them something to think about. What would I like to be treated that way. I've had letters that come in to me, and they say, "My mama, my dad need this. My mom and dad need that, and my baby sister might need this or something like that, but if you don't have enough, don't bring me anything."
ERQUIAGA: Is that right?
AGUIRRE: When they write a letter like that, I just figure that child is having a hard time, and that child deserves to have a present of some kind. Then I try to refer them to someone who will give them presents. Sure, I work along with other people so that they will have a chance to have something for themselves, too. Every year.
ERQUIAGA: You going to keep right on doing this every year?
AGUIRRE: Well, I suppose I will. I don't know. It seems like that when November comes I start in getting anxious for those letters. I always have them put something in the paper about be sure you get your letter to Santa Claus so Santy will able to know what to bring you 'cause it takes a long time for those letters to get up there. This is a peculiar thing, but I love children. I guess I do. I love people.
ERQUIAGA: Do you have any particular philosophy that you live by every day?
AGUIRRE: Every day I thank the Lord that I've got a good family. That people are good to me. If anybody treats me bad, I forget it, and I say, "Well, that person doesn't-they're having troubles of their own."
ERQUIAGA: That's true.
AGUIRRE: Yeah, and so I ignore the bad remarks. Now that didn't happen all the time. It's just once in awhile. We had a man come in there, and he said to me, "What religion are you?" I told him. He says, "You're crazy!" I says, "I am? Well, I don't know. Maybe I am. Do you read the Bible?" "Well, I should say I do. I'm a minister." I said, "Fine, and you should know your Bible. Now, what does the Bible say?" He says, "Well, I'll tell you. I haven't got my Bible with me." I said, "Oh, right here in the living room there we've got four of them if you'd like to look through that Bible and see what that Bible says. I'm not telling you. You look it up in the Bible." So he gets the Bible out. "Well, I don't believe your Bibles." I said, "Well, what kind of a Bible do you believe in?" "Well, I believe in the Dewey version." "Oh, well, that's all right. What about James?" "Well, I guess if that's the only kind of a Bible you got, all right." I found a verse for him. I said, "Read that. I'm not reading it to you. You read it. How do you feel about that verse?" He said, "I don't want to talk to you." The verse was, "Love your neighbor as yourself." Well, what am I going to say? He said I was crazy. I wouldn't say anything, see. I said, "Read it in the Bible." He never talked that way to me again, but you'd thought in the dining room he'd start in preaching, see, and he can't sit down to a table without somebody wanting to move because he starts in preaching to them at the table. He asked me, "Do you have Bible?" I said, "Yes, I have." "Well, what kind of a Bible?" I said, "I have retained the same Bible I had when I was young. I've got a Catholic Bible. I also have the James version. I have the revised Bible. They all say the very same thing, so I don't have to worry about a religion. A religion isn't going to get you into heaven. It's what's right down here. If you've got kindness in your heart, and you want to show your love for God, be kind to your neighbor. You love God first, then you love your neighbor. That's the only way."
ERQUIAGA: And that's how you live?
AGUIRRE: That's the way I try to live.
ERQUIAGA: I feel we had better wind this up now, because your family is all here waiting to talk to you or take you someplace. I do appreciate your spending this time with me and telling me your stories. Thank you very much, Frances [End of tape 3]
written by Frances Aguirre (not recorded)
Flora [Morris] and Dolly were very kind to me and I slept at the hospital in a room off the kitchen, I just had to be sure to pull the shades on the doors when I went to bed as they had glass panes in the doors.
Many of the patients occupied cabins at the rear of the main house and every morning I went to the cabins to take the meals-take temperatures, pulse and clean beds--(not what I was trained for, taking care of men patients as well as women.)
No "babies' there but the girls from the brothel came there for their check-ups, so I was the doctor's attendant. (Once a month for them.)
A lady on the county board decided I was too young to be taking care of "old men" and insisted I find another place to work.
Flora Morris' hospital was off of the main road (highway) which we know as Auction Road. The highway went to Reno and started at the fairgrounds, (which was the State Fair grounds at that time and came to the first bridge just outside of Fallon going west. (Wal-Mart is there now). The city limits was at the fairgrounds.
Beautiful trees grew along Williams Ave. and near the old courthouse. In the center of Maine and Williams Ave. was a fountain for watering your horses-dogs or what have you. These are all gone now.
North Maine was the Likes Coal yard and ice, also was sold for the ice boxes of our well-to-do people who could afford ice boxes.
The flour mill was near the tracks of the railroad and Kent's yard was the place to buy grain, hay or lumber and weigh yourself on their scales if you wish.
The Dodge Construction building there and the creamery where they made butter, cheese etc., was across from Kent's (Kent's Lumber Co. now). Where the parking lot is now North of the old Churchill County Community Hospital is and where the doctor's building is now, was the brothel with a fence about it. You could tell who was visiting there by looking at the car as no license was issued at that time for cars. (That came later--the license law.) Of course this business was isolated sort of as there were no houses near there and much vacant land--the railroad depot was near there but that was all. The street (Williams Avenue) went to the east edge of town which was the Oats Park School. The busses to school were sort of boxy type busses.
We didn't have a park at that time until W. P. A. [Works Progress Administration] came in and fixed up the park, though there was a ballfield near the school.
The old high school (where the Cottage Schools are now) was the elementary school for the first and second grades. West End School was also a two story affair, and the third and fourth grades were there. Oats Park School was sixth to the eighth grades and was a fine school. They had an industrial room for learning carpentry, as well as the grades.
Going on highway 50 south was from Maine Street east on Center to Harrigan Road--to Mathewson corner and down Cushman road to Beach road (later Jack Tedford (Jack Junior and Ken's father)) built the highway that is now known as Berney road to Harrigan road. The highway at one time came off of the Schurz highway past the Corkills to the Harrigan road. The Weavers live on this road.
When we went to Harmon district we went past Tom Dolfs and the Harmon family home to Harmon District. (This road started at Harrigan road and went east off of Stillwater Avenue.)
Schurz highway was so narrow that only two cars could pass each other, and was dangerous until you got to Taylor road.
There were farms (or ranches) on this road. All the area back of the 1917 high school was meadow land and owned by a Mr. Verplank who had a small house in the middle of the area. (Now Virginia street and all the other streets to Center street occupy this meadow land). Babb Place road was a small lane that went to Couches home (now called Stains road) because the Stains family bought that place and the area around it. There were no other houses or streets until you got to Taylor St.
Mr. and Mrs. Berney were living in a large house on Taylor (known now as Doctor Woodward's home [596 S. Taylor]) and Eli Cann, a lawyer, lived and raised his family in the house where the Prudential Insurance [356 S. Taylor] is now.
Lawyer Haight lived in a nice brick home on Center and Taylor [105 W. Center] ( I liked him because he always tipped his hat to me when we met on the street.)
The city limits going south on Maine street was the high school (now, known as the junior hi.) The main stores were Kent's who had three divisions to the store--groceries, hardware and clothing.
Kolhoss Cash Store, had an upstairs where he sold clothing and down on the main floor, groceries.
On Carson street, off of Center street, and where the Western Motel is now was an old theater building and old variety store and another small building.
Across the street was a hotel and during the World War II, people lived in the basement of this old hotel as most of it was torn down. The parking lot is there now.
The City Hall was almost finished when I came and it had a fire department in it on the south end of the building. On the north end, on the west side of the building was Selma troth's office, she was the "Red Cross."
Maine Street south of Williams on the east side of the street was the Golden Rule store--Sprouse Reitz store and other stores up to the Fallon Theater. Then Laveaga's store, the shoe repair shop, a soda shop and I think Mr. Frank Woodliff had it (I am not sure). All the other places along Maine on the east side that I can remember was the bank (where the Arcade is), the drug store (Percy Bailey?) [Morris & Loring]. The side walks were wooden slats. The barber, Mrs Corn's shop.
Across the street were clubs--a meat market--a bakery and a music store near the Western Hotel, the Woodliff daughter and husband had that store. The Sagebrush building was a former bank and then a restaurant and bar on the south corner was the barbershop off of the bar owned by Mr. William Powell, Sr. on First Street.
Then the Mission Cafe and clubs and on the corner of Williams Avenue and Maine Street was the "Law" building. Mr. Law owned it and later it was known as the Esquire Club. In between the Law building and the building where the Nugget is now, a boxing arena was placed and on weekends people gathered to watch, and bet on who would be the winner.
Across from the City Hall was Doctor Nichols home and office and where a motel is now. Across the street on the north side was a blacksmith shop.
Our telephone office was in a stone building, with switch boards. The old Post Office was where the Elks Hall is now.
On Center street was a number of houses from Carson to Taylor but not a great number.
Cye Cox had a small home but not a garage and he hired me to water down each day the cinder blocks he had made for that garage.
- C. Penney store was on the corner of Center and Maine-Jarvis had the store next to them. On the corner of Stillwater Avenue and Maine was the Likes home.
Across from the present Library was the laundry where women were hired to wash clothes. (Some of women friends and mothers of some of our "noted" citizens now, worked there, "an honest work."
Frank Woodliff family home was on the corner of Fairview and Maine across the street were the Marsh homes.
In 1929 the Knights of Pythias sponsored a Christmas tree in the middle of Maine Street (as it is now) and sacks of candy fruit and popcorn balls were given each child. Santa (Bert Hicks) sat on the platform and each child climbed three steps and told Santa what he or she wanted and received a sack (that the sisters had filled for them). In the years the followed the sacks were abandoned as other organizations took over the sponsorship.
After my husband Ed and I were married and had a family, they grew old enough to go to school in Beach District. We had two girls that went to school at the Beach School. The second girl had the habit of removing her undergarments and arriving at school without them so in time the teacher sent a note home requesting that I put panties on the child. I inquired about the situation, and found out that they were in the drain ditch. After that she wore overalls to school. (I think Miss Morgan was happy and felt better knowing that the child was dressed and the boys didn't make comments.)
I was on the school board for Beach District until I moved into Union District. The two eldest girls went to the Old High School (where the Cottage Schools are now) then to the West End School.
While we lived in Beach District, Echo Morgan, the teacher, had meetings like P.T.A. and the children recited their poems and readings and songs they learned. My young daughter Gloria was three years old and decided she was going to say something also. So the teacher let her say "Mary had a little lamb." (Gloria is now a teacher). We thought our teacher was the best -- (she is the Aunt to Mary (Bunny) Cushman Corkill.)
Richard was born four years after Gloria in Union District and grew up to be a rancher like his father. Darlene was born 21 months after Richard, and grew up to become a nurse--she is Public Health Nurse in West Virginia.
Her friends were Margot Berney Mills, Mary (Bunny) Cushman Corkill and Joan Kyle Johnson (these were the close friends, though she had other friends in school and church) as they all lived near by. All have grown up and have children now of their own. Many years have gone by since, and each have gone their own way. My two older girls married brothers and each family has raised their children who have gone away to other states--and travelled far to foreign countries like Japan, China, India, Africa then back to good U.S.A. (They did missionary work or followed military. Wives desire to be with their husbands.)
Some of the children of the girls have married into wealthy families and have nice homes and families but still remember their bringing up to honor their parents and family in sickness and health.
Ed and I moved into a home near the city of Fallon (City on one side of the fence and County on the other side of the fence.)
In my life I have met many wonderful people (mostly in Fallon). I have seen happiness and sorrow in other's homes as well as my own. I have raised my own children to respect all people be they of other races, colors and be they rich or poor.
We give to our life just what we put into it, be it happiness in loving, giving or otherwise. You don't have to be rich in money, big homes, and having everything your heart desires. All you do to be happy is to make the best of what you do have and enjoy what you have. Your family, your friends and your work--be loving and caring.