Crawford Wallace "Bill" Barkley Oral History

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Crawford Wallace "Bill" Barkley Oral History


Crawford Wallace "Bill" Barkley Oral History


Churchill County Museum Association


Churchill County Museum Association


November 29, 1993


Analog Cassette Tape, .docx file, Mp3 Audio



Oral History Item Type Metadata


Marian LaVoy


Crawford Wallace "Bill" Barkley


5580 Candee Lane, Fallon, Nevada.




an interview with

Crawford Wallace "Bill" Barkley

November 29, 1993

This interview was conducted by Marian LaVoy; transcribed by Glenda Price; edited by Norine Arciniega; final by Pat Boden; index by Gracie Viera; supervised by Myrl Nygren, Director of Oral History Project, Churchill County Museum.

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


Bill Barkley and I sat in the sun room of his solar home, surrounded by a magnificent zygocactus covered with cascading pink blooms and other exotic tropical plants. Laughter filled the room during the entire interview.

I initially intended recording the life of Bill's family with its background as purveyors of the United States mail for over ninety years, but a wonderful side story evolved--not only of the handling of mail, but of Bill's eventful trip as a small boy from Fallon to Boulder City with his father who was to be the new Postmaster of that new town. The trip from Fallon over dusty graveled roads included the repair of punctured tires and the same for a broken engine in a tired old automobile. Bill's life in Boulder City watching the little tent town grow between sagebrush and large rock formations and the sheer excitement of seeing Boulder Dam (Hoover) workers gradually filling the space between cliffs of Nevada and Arizona with mega-tons of cement tell a wonderful tale.

Bill's own career as a postal worker from menial employment to pre-retirement years describing how rural mail is sorted and a day's activity as a rural mail carrier is not only educational but fascinating reading.

Life was not easy for Bill; his mother died a few days after his birth. He was taken and raised by loving extended family members, but it was not until he met his charming Swedish wife, Harriet, that he knew real love. Their marriage has been idyllic.

Credit must be given to Harriet Karlsson, who left a comfortable home in a far-off land to move to the barren reaches of Nevada-namely "Frenchman's Station." The hilarious stories of this segment of their life could fill the pages of a "best seller" novel. Bill and Harriet are now comfortably retired in the home that they built together . . . it is a beautiful home that they built together . . . it is a beautiful home, but its real beauty is in the couple living in it.

Bill's compassion for old friends, cowboys, miners, etc., "down on their luck" is touching. Could it be that he recalls how he was once taken in and cared for? I don't know, Bill may be small in stature, but his heart and sense of humor belong to a giant.

Interview with Crawford Wallace "Bill" Barkley

LaVOY: This is Marian Mennen LaVoy of the Churchill County Museum Oral History Project interviewing Crawford Wallace Barkley "Bill" at his home, 5580 Candee Lane, Fallon, Nevada. The date is November 29th, 1993. Good morning, Bill.

BARKLEY: Good morning.

LaVOY: How are you this morning?

BARKLEY: I'm just fine this morning.

LaVOY: Good. Bill, I'm going to start off by asking you to give me the name of your grandfather.

BARKLEY: My grandfather's name was James Hickman Barkley.

LaVOY: And where did he come from?

BARKLEY: He came from Louisville, Kentucky (Jefferson County).

LaVOY: And where did he settle?

BARKLEY: Well, he done an awful lot of traveling. It seems that he left Kentucky, and he went down into Texas, and he married his first wife in Texas.

LaVOY: What was her name? Do you remember?

BARKLEY: I don't remember what her first name is. I could find out.

LaVOY: That's all right.

BARKLEY: But that's where his first child was born, and then he went from there.

LaVOY: Excuse me, what was his first child's name?

BARKLEY: His first child's name was Crawford Thomas Barkley [mother, Minnie, and father married in Marionfield, Texas August 15, 1886], and apparently they went from there into New Mexico, and he had traveled, apparently, quite a bit. I don't know whether he was on a train or horseback or buggy or what, but he moved around quite a bit and finally wound up in Washington on the Columbia River, and while he was in that neighborhood he got into building a ditch up there which they called the Barkley Ditch [water from Methow River] that was seven miles long. There was another man [Mr. Carr] who was an engineer, and my grandfather got this engineer to help him get this ditch lined 'cause it was pretty high country and they had to be pretty careful because their grade was, didn't have much grade. The fall was pretty slow on that, and he was pretty careful about it, and that ditch is still in operation as far as I know. It was about 1947 or 1948 it was still in operation. He hadn't even moved from there. Oh, he moved several places in Washington. He finally come down into Oregon up around Bend and that area. What they call the high desert. There was a man came up there. He run into a man up there by the name of Baumann [error - the name was Scott Harmon] that told him about this project down here, the new irrigation system project. So he got interested, and they came down here, and he got involved in the Socialist Party down here.


LaVOY: Now, excuse me just a minute. Before we start with the Socialist colony, didn't he have a post office starting your history of post office involvement in the state of Washington?

BARKLEY: Yes, he did. He started a small post office up there. I don't know just where it was. It was up on one of these ranches that he'd had in . . .

LaVOY: I believe it was in Brewster, Washington.

BARKLEY: Well, that could be. That's probably where it was. My father used to talk about Brewster quite a bit. That country.

LaVOY: Well, what did he name the post office?

BARKLEY: He named the post office after my father. They called it the Gordon Post Office. I don't know how long it operated. I think they moved it once.

LaVOY: I believe it opened in 1902 and was deactivated in 1918.

BARKLEY: Well, that may be. I don't remember. I don't know.

LaVOY: All right. Now, continuing, he came down and became involved in the Socialist party. Tell me something about that.

BARKLEY:  Well, my grandfather was somewhat of a promoter himself, and he apparently could see where this man by the name of Eggleston [C. V.] was a promoter and probably trying to beat the people out of their stuff. He endeavored to get in with him, but apparently Eggleston was wise to him, so he wouldn't let my grandfather get in with him, so my grandfather went and had some circulars made up that this Eggleston was a crook, and all he was doing was taking them for everything he could out of them, and, of course, that caused problems, and there was a lawsuit, and my grandfather was sued for defamation of character or somethin'.

 LaVOY: Criminal libel and slander.

BARKLEY: Well, that's probably about what it was, all right. (laughing)

LaVOY: [laughing]

BARKLEY:  But, anyway, they had a big trial and I think the trial lasted about a day and, I think, took the jury about thirty minutes to come back with a decision of not guilty, so then that apparently closed up Mr. Eggleston and his Socialist colony, but several people in the Valley at that time had put up their ranches or their property or money and those people, a lot of them, lost . . . well, my other grandfather was here, also, and he was involved in this Socialist party.

LaVOY: What was his name?

BARKLEY: His name was Wallace Barker, and he lost his place. He went back to Kentucky afterward because of his health.

LaVOY: This was called the Nevada Colony Corporation?

BARKLEY: Something like that. Yes. All I know is what my father has written and I've read.

LaVOY: And the man's name was C. V. Eggleston.

BARKLEY: C. V. Eggleston. I think that's what it was. Yes.

LaVOY: Now, some of the people turned property over to him. As I understand, he sold memberships in the Colony or else you could turn your property over to him.

BARKLEY: Right. Right. That was his way of operating.

LaVOY: Now, some of the names of people that turned property over to him were like a Jim…

BARKLEY: There was a Jim Ahern, and there was, I think, Mr. Baumann, and I know my grandfather Barker had turned his place over to him.

LaVOY:  And there was a Mr. Rigle.

BARKLEY: Yes, there was a Mr. Rigle. I don't what he . . . There was somebody from Reno involved in this, too. don't know who he was.

LaVOY: I think a Mr. Bearker from Sparks.

BARKLEY: Mr. Bearker? Well, that could be.

LaVOY: And then now I also read that the Sifford ranch- Now, where was the Sifford ranch?

BARKLEY: I don't know where it was. I'm not that familiar with the valley as far as where these old places were. I know where pert near every place is in the valley all right, but then they're all under different names now than they were then, and I don't know where the Sifford ranch was. I've heard of it, but I don't know which ranch it was.

LaVOY: Now, your father and your mother came down and, I believe, your father bought a hotel here. The Spoon Hotel.

BARKLEY: No, that was my grandfather, and I don't know whether he bought it or not.

LaVOY: Excuse me. Your grandfather, yes.

BARKLEY: He, at least, had it rented or something, but he was in possession of it 'cause that's where he'd lived.

LaVOY: Do you have any idea where the Spoon Hotel was?

BARKLEY: Well, I believe it was behind the present Fallon Theatre and kind of south of the back end of the Fraternal Hall. There used to be a big building there, and I think that's the one they called the Spoon Hotel.

LaVOY: Well, now, after he was acquitted from criminal libel and slander, how did he happen to go out to the Dixie Valley?

BARKLEY: Well, I don't know. As I say, he was a promoter, and he was always looking for somebody that he could deal with. It was apparently 640 acres or something. I don't know how many. 360 acres, or whatever, it was out there that he traded a man out of, and he gave part of that away, and he finally wound up with a 160 acres of his own.

LaVOY: Now, at that point in time, I understand that he went out to Fairview and Wonder and brought in wood from the houses there to build the ranch house. Is that correct?

BARKLEY: That's what I understand. Yes. That's what I've been told that he brought stuff from Fairview and Wonder to build a home with there in Dixie Valley on the property.

LaVOY: And I read that in 1917 there was school in Dixie that Miss Edmons was the teacher, and she was the first teacher in the first school, and you mentioned to me some of your grandfather's children that went to that school, and could you give me their names again?

BARKLEY: Well, for age, I would think that Lewellyn [Barkley] was probably the oldest one and then her brother, Jim, and her brother, Fielding, and maybe Marcelle might have all went to that school. The other of the children would all have been too young.

LaVOY: Now, what were their names?

BARKLEY: Their names was Fenn and Westall and Julia [Barkley Mackedon].

LaVOY: They all lived in this little house out in the valley?

BARKLEY: Right, and his oldest son also was in the valley at the same house in the same . . . but I don't know whether it was at the same time or not, but I think it was. I think Crawford and Freda had some of their children out there at the same time.

LaVOY: Now, when did your father come into this picture of coming in this area?

BARKLEY: He came in this area with my grandfather about 1916.

LaVOY: Was he married at the time?

BARKLEY: No, he was not. He married my mother in 19 . . . well, I think it was in 1917. I'm not sure. 1918.

LaVOY: And what was your mother's name?

BARKLEY: My mother's name was Mary Ethel Barker.

LaVOY: And where was she from?

BARKLEY: She was from Covington, Kentucky.

LaVOY: And your father's name?

BARKLEY: My father's name was Gordon Foster Barkley.

LaVOY: And how did they happen to meet? Did you ever hear?

BARKLEY: I never heard, but I assume they met by going to dances and things, and that's the only way I would have known.

LaVOY: Now, did your mother and father have any children older than you?

BARKLEY: No, I'm the oldest.

LaVOY: And when were you born?

BARKLEY: I was born November 1, 1919.

LaVOY: And your mother very tragically passed away when?

BARKLEY: Near as I can understand about November 16, 1919.

LaVOY: In other words, she died in childbirth. Shortly after childbirth?


LaVOY: Well, Bill, who took you in to raise you?

BARKLEY: Well, I was given to Crawford and Freda Barkley, my dad's brother, if I'm not mistaken, and I don't know just how long I was with them. About two and a half years, and I think I was . . . the time when my father and mother were married, when my father and stepmother got married I was in Sacramento [California], and I believe Llewellyn brought me up when I was about two and a half years old.

LaVOY: So, you did not actually live in Dixie Valley. You went down to Sacramento.

BARKLEY: That's as near as I can understand. I don't know for sure, but that's the way I got the picture in my…

LaVOY: Did your father remarry?

BARKLEY: Yes, he married Flora Melendy.

LaVOY:  Was she from this area?

BARKLEY: Yes, she was from this area. She was one of the first teachers out in Dixie Valley. She taught this bunch of Barkley kids out there, and she boarded with the Barkleys and my grandfather, and I have a feeling that's where they met.

LaVOY:  And when were they married, do you know?

BARKLEY: I believe they were married about 19… probably about 1922 or maybe as late as 1923, but I don't know when they were married, either.

LaVOY:  Now, were there any children born to this family?

BARKLEY: Yes, I had two half-brothers.

LaVOY:  And what were their names?

BARKLEY: The first was Gordon Foster, Junior [Barkley] and the second one was James Robert [Barkley].

LaVOY:  Then when you came to live with them at the age of two and a half, where did you live?

BARKLEY: I lived in Fallon, and I think it was on Churchill Street, but I'm not sure, but I think that's where we lived.

LaVOY:  And what was your father doing as a livelihood?

BARKLEY: He worked for the United States Post Office.

LaVOY:  When did he start working for the post office?

BARKLEY: I'm not sure, but I think it was right after World War I in probably about 1920 or 1921 is when he probably started to working there 'cause I think he worked there, I believe, for ten years.

LaVOY:  Where was the post office located at that time?

BARKLEY: Well, he told me that the post office --and I don't know whether this is when he went to work for it, but where the parking lot of the Fallon Nugget is at this time, and I do know that it was in the old Depp Building on Center Street for a number of years, and that is now the Elk's Hall [93 West Center], and then in 1929 they built the new post office, what they called the new post office at that time, out on North Maine Street, and they moved there, and then my father resigned from that in 1930, and we moved to Surprise Valley, California, in Modoc County 'cause my father and my stepmother's brother went into partnership and bought a big ranch up there. We moved up there in the spring of 1930, and the Depression hit, so then they lost everything, and my father come back to Fallon in 1931. He was appointed assistant post master in the post office in Boulder City [Nevada], and so he went down there, and I believe it was in April of 1931, and him and man by the name of Finney opened up the first office in Boulder City which was a small building about fourteen by twenty, out there on the west side of Boulder City. My two brothers and my stepmother and I went down in June; after school was out we went down to Boulder City, and we lived there until the spring of 1934. Inasmuch as my father was politically appointed in the Hoover administration and Roosevelt was elected in 1932 and took office in 1933, he was relieved of his duties in the spring of 1934 because he wouldn't change political affiliation.

LaVOY:  Well, that happened to many people, I believe, at that point in time. But, I want to regress just a bit. When you went down to Boulder, you told me at one time about your trip down. I'd love to have you retell that.

BARKLEY: Well, that was quite a trip because the road all the way to Boulder City was dirt. The road around Walker Lake was a one-way road. It had turnouts occasionally in it where if you seen a car coming and you was close to a turnout, you went into the turnout until he went by, and I know on, down there somewhere we broke the rear axle on the car and sit there until they could get a wrecker out there and pull us into Hawthorne. We stayed there for a couple of days until they could get a new axle and put in the car.

LaVOY:  What kind of a car was it?

BARKLEY: It was an old Oakland. Sedan automobile. It was a pretty good old car, but it was getting a little age on it. Then we went on down and got down this side of Las Vegas about forty miles and my uncle was a speedster. Why, he really burnt up the ground. He was doing probably about twenty, twenty-five miles an hour when we lost a bearing in the engine. So he slowed it down to about eight or nine miles an hour, and we limped on in to Las Vegas. It took pert near all night to get that forty miles, it seemed like. (laughing) And then we had breakfast, and I remember Las Vegas wasn't much of a city then like it is today. It wasn't very big. We had breakfast in a little restaurant there on Fremont Street. I think that's probably where it was, and we limped out to Boulder City and took us another three hours or four to get out there. Ten or twelve miles an hour, whatever it was, and that's where we finally wound up. My dad had a tent that we lived in alongside of the hill there across the railroad track from the post office. It wasn't very far, so he could hoof it across there. Wasn't probably over a half a mile from our tent to the post office.

LaVOY:  Did the tent have a board floor to it?

BARKLEY: It had a floor. It had sides. Wooden sides up about four feet, but then there was studding up to where it was about probably six or seven feet above the floor so you could walk around. You know, you wouldn't have to bump into anything. It might even have been eight feet high there along the edge. I don't know.

LaVOY:  What was in the tent?

BARKLEY: Nothing, except two beds. My brothers and I, we slept on one side of the thing. The tent was a sixteen by sixteen tent, so you didn't get much in it. And then there was a stove and a little table, and my father finally got-another sixteen by sixteen tent put on the back end of it so we had two tents to live in then. That kind of made it a little better because we had sixteen by thirty-two then.

LaVOY:  Did your stepmother do all the cooking and everything there?

BARKLEY: Oh, yes. We had done the cooking and the washing and everything else. Well, it was about as primitive as you could get, you know. You pert near reverted back to the Stone Age. (laughing)

LaVOY:  (laughing) Did you go to school down there at that point in time for the short time you were there?

BARKLEY: Yeah. Well, you see, there was no school there when we got down there. There was no school in Boulder City. There wasn't very many children down there either at that time, and there was an old lady there--you know, at that time I was just a kid, and she seemed like she was seventy years old, but she was probably thirty-five, but she started a little school there, and those people who could afford to pay her five dollars a month to teach the kids school, well, she had this little school, and she had about ten or twelve kids in it. That was where my two brothers and I went to school.

LaVOY:  What grade were you in?

BARKLEY: I was probably about the fourth grade at that time. Maybe fifth. I don't know. But my one brother was in the second grade, and the other one was just starting to school. My younger brother just started to school. I think he started to school there.

LaVOY:  Now, in going down from Fallon to Boulder City, were there any places to get gas, or did you have to carry your gas?

BARKLEY: Well, we got gas in Hawthorne. We'd get gas in Tonopah, and you'd get gas in Goldfield, and you could gas in Beatty, and you could get gas out at . . . about forty miles north of Vegas. What the heck was the name of that town?

LaVOY:  Was it Indian Springs?

BARKLEY: Indian Springs. Yeah, you'd gas there. So you had no problem getting gas.

LaVOY:  How much did the gas cost? Do you have any idea?

BARKLEY: Ah, I think if was probably about twenty cents a gallon at that time. I don't think it was any less than that. It may be up to twenty-five down there on the desert where they had to transport it in by slow trucks.

LaVOY:  Do you remember anything at all about the excitement of the tent city that was around Boulder as men were building the dam [Hoover Dam, now Boulder Dam]?

BARKLEY: Well, I don't know of any excitement that happened. Oh, there was a few things. We had one neighbor. He was square built. He was about five foot tall and about that wide, and I know he had an old Model T, and it wasn't running very good. He wanted to work on it, so he just tipped it over on its side, and somebody asked him why he did that. "Well," he says, "it's easier to stand up to than it is for me to lay down and crawl under there." He says, "I can't crawl under the darn thing." (laughing)

LaVOY:  (laughing) Do you remember seeing the span without the dam in it?

BARKLEY: I remember my father took the family down there to the observation point, and there wasn't any dam in it. They were just still building the diversion tunnels where they could divert the water out of the river, and they was building, putting in the coffer dam which was just a small dam to kind of raise the water up so they could get it out into these tunnels which . . . then the men on the side of the mountain scaling off the loose rock and stuff and building the key way for the dam to go in, but there wasn't anything there to cross on. The only place you could cross the river around there was up at the river a ways where they had put a railroad bridge in because they brought most of their gravel and rock from the Arizona side of the mountain because there was a quarry over there. Could get rock over there. I know one time that my dad took the family and we went down and crossed that railroad bridge. You just had to make sure the train wasn't coming because when you got out in the middle of it you was up above that water and there was no place to go and you had (laughing) to get across before the train came 'cause he had the right of way. You didn't.

LaVOY: (laughing) Do you remember of any accidents happening on building the dam?

BARKLEY: Oh, there was lots of accidents, and most of the accidents were, as I recall, were from high scalers falling. Now, they had safety belts that were about three inches wide and a big D-ring in them and a safety rope that they was supposed to tie before they went into their swing to lower down onto the dam, but they'd get careless, and "Oh, I'm not going to fall. I've got this all figured out," and they wouldn't hook that safety belt. Well, if they ever slipped out of that swing it was seven hundred feet to the bottom, so there wasn't much chance of survival. I think if I would remember right, I think there was a story one time where one man fell, and, of course, he let out a scream and came off of that seat, and another high scaler below him looked up, and as he went by him, he grabbed him by the leg and held onto him until they could rescue him. Now, that may be the truth, or that might have been a big story, but that's the story I heard when I was down there when I was a little kids.

LaVOY: Well, it must have been very interesting being in that area at its very conception, and now to go back and see it today as the huge metropolis that it is.

BARKLEY: Oh, yeah. It's amazing. You can't realize how big it was at the time. You know, that was a big operation at that time because it took six different companies to go all together to build that dam. There wasn't any one company in the United States that could build it alone, but it was six companies involved in that which was called the Big Six, and everything that was done that was called the Big Six, and the thing is that when they built the city, I don't know who had ever gave them the idea, but they never took care of the water lines too well. They put them in. Wouldn't freeze in that place. In Boulder City it wouldn't freeze, so they didn't have to worry too much about the water lines, and they never put any smokestacks in any of the houses the Big Six built. I know that our house that my father had built over in the city, we was the same way. It wasn't going to freeze. The darn water lines were exposed. Well, we had a winter that was a little bit cold, and I think it broke every water line in Boulder City, and they couldn't get stoves into Las Vegas fast enough. They'd get these little sheet iron stoves and they went out, and they'd knock one of the panes out of the windows. They had a lot of French windows in the houses and they'd just knock a pane out and stick a stovepipe out through the window and run it up the side of the house so they could get a little heat because it was cold. [End of tape 1 side A]

LaVOY: Well, Bill, with it being so cold that winter and the stoves being put in the houses and the pipes being put out through the windows makes me want to ask you, when did you move out of this big tent and into a house?

BARKLEY: Well, I think we probably lived in the tent six, seven months before my father could get a lot in town because they hadn't . . . when we first went down there, there wasn't any town. They were just building the first of the main street. The heavy equipment isn't building the main streets, and the residential streets all happened to be cut in. I think it took about, oh, around eight months, maybe a little more, but not much more than that before we could get a homesite, and I know when we finally got it, well, we moved the tents. My dad got a truck, and he picked the darn tent up and put it on his truck and hauled it over there. That is, the one of them, and then my father built, wound up, when he got through, we still had a sixteen by thirty-two house 'cause we bought another tent and stuck on the backside of it and later made that house, and that's when we moved into the house. We probably moved in within about eight months.

LaVOY: Now, he moved the tent over to your lot in Boulder City, and then built up around the tent?

BARKLEY: We took the tent off and just finished building the walls and put a wooden roof over it and put a ceiling in it.

LaVOY:  Oh!

BARKLEY: I was surprised. I was down there not too long ago. I went over there to see it, and it was still standing there, and I'm surprised that it was still standing there because there wasn't any foundation put under it. All he put under it was four-by-four posts on a rock or something like they did here in Fallon years back, but that house is still standing there and still being lived in.

LaVOY: Well, they must have had some indoor plumbing and indoor water.

BARKLEY: Oh, yeah, we had indoor plumbing and indoor water. Our pipes weren't exposed to the outside air, but they weren't insulated on the inside and they broke, too. There was one . . . just show you how people are down there. At that time, you know, times were tough, and you couldn't afford to buy hot water tanks, hot water heaters, and they didn't have the facilities, like gas and stuff, you know, to just have this kind of stuff. People didn't have the money. So, was one fellow there, he was going to build himself his own water system which he did. He took about an inch and a half pipe, and his house sat east and west, and, of course, one side of it faced the south, and on that south side he put a coil of about an inch and a half high up the side of the house, and he run it into his house. Into his shower and whatnot. He came home from work and he was going to have himself a good, nice shower, and he went in and he turned that water on. I don't know what he did. Maybe he didn't have any cold water. He just turned it on, and it darned near scalded him because it was so hot. That sun shining on that piece of pipe all day long at about 115 degrees, you can imagine what it was. That water in an inch and a half pipe.

LaVOY: Original solar energy. (laughing) Well, now, did your father go each day to the post office?

BARKLEY: Oh, yeah. He worked every day. Then they worked six days a week. They didn't have five-day week then. They worked six days a week, Monday through Saturday.

LaVOY: What was his title at the post office?

BARKLEY: He was the assistant post master.

LaVOY: Now, when did they first dispatch mail?

BARKLEY: Well, I think, they first done it, probably, in April. Probably around the middle of April. I don't know just for sure when.

LaVOY: In 1930?

BARKLEY: In 1931, I imagine it was.

LaVOY: April 15, 1931.

BARKLEY: I know the stamp they used the first day of cancellation my father got away with because the postmaster wanted it. He was going to get away with it, and he went to find it and it was gone, and, of course, I don't know how come he never accused my father, but I remember my father got away with it, and it's still in the family somewhere. I'm not just sure who has it.

LaVOY: Oh, that's interesting. And that would be the first-day cancellation. Very first one.

BARKLEY: First-day cancellation. The very first one that was used that day.

LaVOY: My goodness: That is an interesting comment. Be interesting to know who in your family still has it.

BARKLEY: Yeah, I don't know who has it.

LaVOY: It would be quite a collector's item.

BARKLEY: Oh, I imagine that somebody would like to have it.

LaVOY: Now, with the change of administration and knowing how postal appointments were made particularly at that time when [Franklin Delano] Roosevelt came into office, and your father was relieved of his job, what did he do?

BARKLEY: We moved back to Fallon.

LaVOY: And where did you live?

BARKLEY:  We lived in a little house in Fallon, and they had a road job out on, at that time it was old Highway 50. It's now Harrigan Road, and he worked on that job.

LaVOY: Well, did he work for the county?

BARKLEY: No, he was working for a contractor at that time when he was working on that job. That was a contracted job. I don't know who the contractor was or anything about it. Then he rented forty acres out on the Reno Highway. Now, it's where Workman's produce stand is [4990 Reno Highway], was the Byrd Ranch, and that's where we lived at that time. That was in 1934, I think it was that we lived there.

LaVOY: Where did you go to school then?

BARKLEY: Went to school in town in Fallon.

LaVOY: Which school?

BARKLEY: I went to the Oats Park School.

LaVOY: Tell me, who were some of your classmates?

BARKLEY: Oh, some of my classmates? Well, Allie Spoon was one. Curtis Willard was one. One of the Alles boys, and there was some of the Lima boys. I don't know which ones. It was probably Chet. I think there was more than one, but I don't know whether Wallace was one of them or not. Willie Cristiani was one. I remember Willie.            I see these people once in a while, but I…

LaVOY: Now, what grade would you have been in, Bill?

BARKLEY: I think I was in the seventh grade.

LaVOY: Do you remember your teacher's name?

BARKLEY: No. I don't remember. I know that Laura Mills was teaching there, and a Miss [Ada] Gerjets was teaching there, but I don't remember my teacher that I had in the classroom.

LaVOY: What was your favorite subject?

BARKLEY: Well, I didn't have a favorite subject when I was in school. I didn't have any favorite subjects until I got into high school. When I got into high school, I liked math real well, but far as favorite subjects is concerned, I didn't have any.       (laughing)

LaVOY: The playground was your favorite subject. (laughing)

 BARKLEY: Playground was my favorite subject. (laughing)

LaVOY: (laughing) Tell me, would you walk to school?

BARKLEY: Oh, yeah. We walked to school. When we was living on the farm, we went on by bus, but when we lived in town I walked to school.

LaVOY:  Well, now, when you went by bus, who was your driver?

BARKLEY: Oh, I don't remember that now. My gosh, that's been too long ago. I know it was probably a high school boy. At that time, I think, the high school boys could get jobs driving the bus. Today they have to have professional drivers, but then the high school boys could drive the bus, and they could make a little bit of spending money a month for their efforts.

LaVOY: Do you remember anything interesting about the bus?

BARKLEY: No, just that I know it was a square box on wheels. Not much heat in it. I know that when in the wintertime it was . . . You put on pretty warm clothes when you went on those buses. They didn't have any real good heater system in them.

LaVOY: What were some of the chores that you had to do on your farm?

BARKLEY: Well, I had to milk a cow or feed the pigs, feed the chickens, help my dad. When we moved on the farm, I was old enough to where I could start helping them a little bit, you know. We didn't stay on that place very long. I think we only stayed there one summer, and then my father rented a place over in Fernley, and we moved over there for three years, and that's where the work came in on that one because we raised hay there, and we had several cows there. One time we's milking as high as about eighteen cows, and I know we'd get up about 4:30 in the morning, go out and milk cows all morning, hurry back and get some breakfast and get ready and go to school and then get home from school and just the same old routine. Go back and milk those darn cows again.

LaVOY: Now, were you going to school in Fernley at that point in time?

BARKLEY: Going to school in Fernley. Yeah.

LaVOY: Now, that would have caught you, probably, your early years of high school.

BARKLEY: All of my high school time. I graduated from Fernley. We left Fernley in the fall of 1938, and I didn't want to go to Fallon schools. We moved in the spring, so I only had a little, maybe six weeks of 1938 left in the spring, and then in the fall I had September to December. I quit school in 1938 because I had enough credits to graduate, so I didn't want to spend my five dollars a month for bus fare. I rode the old Hiskey Stage from Hazen to Fernley every morning to go to school 'cause I didn't want to change schools at that stage of the game, so I never went to school after I left here and went to Fernley. I never went to Fallon schools anymore, but my two brothers did.

LaVOY:  Now, why did you move from Fernley to Hazen?

BARKLEY: Well, the lease run out on the farm, and they wouldn't re-lease it to him, so we moved to Hazen, and there was a place there that wasn't being farmed. There was a place there but it had been abandoned, and my dad took that up, and we lived there for a while. We lived over there for, I think, about a year, year and a half, and then my dad leased a place over on the river. That was about 1940 – 39 or 40 – about 40 I guess it was that he leased that place over on the river from the California Land Bank. You'd hear Hitler was rattling sabre over there, you know. That didn't last long. We only stayed at that place about six months, and my dad moved off of it. He moved back over to Hazen for about four or five months or something like that. Then the war broke . . . he went to work down in Hawthorne for the ammunition dump. I know I was milking cows for a guy by the name of Hayden out where Curly Eckert now lives [3555 Sheckler Road] when the War [World War II] broke out, and then that was the end of time of moving around. We pretty much settled. I went to the service. Was in the service for four years.

LaVOY:  Now, you mentioned that you lived out on the river. Which river was that?

BARKLEY: On the Carson River. At that time it was known as the Hyatt Place. It is now owned by Kenny Kent.

LaVOY:  Now, you said your father leased it from the Land Bank. Was it a ranch that had been taken over by the bank?

BARKLEY: Yes. It had been lost to the bank during the Depression, and, of course, the bank had lots of ranches, and they didn't have any money, you know. I know my father could have bought that place for four thousand dollars, I think it was, and he could sing the song, but he wouldn't do it. I don't know why, but he wouldn't do it.

LaVOY:  And what's it worth today?

BARKLEY: Oh, I don't know what it would be worth today. That ranch would be worth a lot of money today.

LaVOY:  I believe that I saw the ad for that recently, and it was something like 350 or 450,000 dollars.

BARKLEY: Well, I would think close to 450,000 that that ranch would be worth.

LaVOY:  Well, now, who were some of the girls . . . oh, you must have dated some of the girls around here, Bill.

BARKLEY: No. No, I never dated any girls around here. I never dated the girls.

LaVOY:  That's hard for me to believe, but I will accept that, Bill.

BARKLEY: The only one I ever dated is my wife.

LaVOY:  Well. I want to get back now to when you went into the Army. Where were you drafted from?

BARKLEY: I was drafted from Fallon. That's where I went. Went from Fallon to Ogden, Utah.

LaVOY:  And what branch of the service were you in?

BARKLEY: I was in the artillery corps.

LaVOY:  And where did you go for your training?

BARKLEY: It was Fort Sill, Oklahoma, is where I done my basic training. Then we were sent to Camp Bowie, Texas. The rest of the time I wasn't in the States. I went from Camp Bowie to England.

LaVOY:  Now, were any Fallon boys with you at all during this period of time?

BARKLEY: No, I never met anybody I knew in the service at any time.

LaVOY:  When you were drafted, who were some of the other men from Fallon that were drafted with you?

BARKLEY: Where did they go?

LaVOY: No, who were they?

BARKLEY: Oh, I believe, Angus Danberg was one, and Howard Lehman was another one. I think there was only about four of us. Maybe five that left here at that time. I don't remember who the others were.

LaVOY:  And that was approximately what year?

BARKLEY: That was in February, 1942.

LaVOY:  Now, from your training for artillery, when you were sent to England, tell me something about your trip from, I surmise, the New York port.

BARKLEY: We left New York on the English Aquitania, I think it was. I think there was fifteen thousand soldiers on that ship, and the ship was pert near as big as the Queens [HMS Queen Mary and HMS Queen Elizabeth], and we went across without any escort 'cause escort couldn't keep up with the Queens or that ship. They were too fast, and, of course, there was no heat on it. It was terrible. We left in December just before Christmas. Took us seven days to cross. Out of New York we went south into warmer waters, warmer country, but coming back up to England we had to come back north again, and it was cold on that thing.

LaVOY:  Did you have submarine alerts all the time?

BARKLEY: No. Well, we had drills, but we never had any alerts, you know, like they were in our neighborhood. But, you know, they was zigzagging all the time. Of course, it don't mean much. You might zig when you should have zagged. (laughing)

LaVOY:  (laughing) Tell me, what your feelings were, here a boy from the desert out in all that water and the danger and everything, what were some of your feelings?

BARKLEY: Well, I didn't have too many feelings on that. I wasn't very happy. I didn't like the water. I never have liked water. I don't even hardly like to drink it.

LaVOY: (laughs) Well besides that, Bill.

Barkley: To keep my mind off of my troubles--and a lot of the rest of the fellows--we played pinochle all the time and just sit on our bunks and play pinochle by the hour on those seven days. In the seven days, I think we played six and a half days of pinochle.

LaVOY:  Where did you land in England?

BARKLEY: I think we landed in Scotland. We landed in northern part on the west side 'cause they didn't want to take those big ships around on the other side into the Channel because it was just too dangerous, and I know we couldn't pull into the dock. We had to be transported from the ship to shore by small boats because the ship just pulled too much water, drafted too much water, and then we went from there down south, I think.

LaVOY:  What was your first impression of England?

BARKLEY: Well, my first impression of England was all fog. You know, it's terrible, and it's foggy, so we used to go to town in the evening. We'd have our flashlights. Of course, they were blackout flashlights. There was no reflector in them. About all that flashlight was good for in England, it didn't show you the way; it just showed the other guy that you was there so he wouldn't run into you. It was kind of like a taillight on an automobile. (laughing)

LaVOY:  (laughing) What town was it that you went into?

BARKLEY: I don't remember what the name of the town was that I was stationed in. It wasn't too far from Manchester 'cause we'd go to Manchester lots of time for a big evening, but it wasn't maybe fifty miles from Manchester, something like that, but I don't remember the name of the town.

LaVOY:  And what were some of the responsibilities that you had there in the camp?

BARKLEY: My responsibilities in that camp was nothing. About all we done there was eat and waited for- We done some training, sure, you know, we done our daily exercise as an alternative to daily training, but there wasn't anything that was really too important. We'd have to go listen to some of the lectures on what was going to happen, but they never told when it was going to happen or anything, and then just before D-Day we were sent down to Southhampton. 'Course that was a jumping off point for a lot of us, and half of my outfit went in on D-Day [June 6, 1944], and they made it, and the other half, we had to stay back. I think we went in on the fifteenth, the rest of the outfit, the other half, and our boat got a mine or something through the back end of our boat. We had to go back to England and get our stuff because it all went to the bottom of the ocean. Our trucks and everything went into the drink, and we lost a lot of men, too. We had to get re-equipped.

LaVOY:  Now, that would have been off the coast of France?

BARKLEY: That was off the coast of France.

LaVOY:  Would that have been in Normandy? In that area?

BARKLEY: Yeah, I think, we landed on Omaha Beach when we finally went in. We seen the line. We was close enough.

LaVOY:  Now, it was a big shell. One from the fortification that hit you.

BARKLEY: No, it was a mine, I think, from underneath 'cause it blew the back end of the ship off.

LaVOY:  What were your feelings at that point in time?

BARKLEY: Wasn't really feelings. It was just hoping that thing would stay afloat until they could get us off of it. An LST going back to England, loaded with prisoners, which they don't do this very often; they pulled that thing right beside that ship and tied to us, that sinking ship, and took us off, but the water was real calm, so there wasn't much movement, you know. They had to be pretty careful.

LaVOY:  Do you remember the name of the ship that was hit?

BARKLEY: No, it was one of the Liberty ships. If I remember right, it had some general's name on the staff, but I don't remember what the name of the ship was.

LaVOY:  And the ship that took you off?

BARKLEY: It was just a big LST. It was just a landing ship.

LaVOY:  And they took you back up the Channel?

BARKLEY: They took us back to England.

LaVOY:  To Southhampton?

BARKLEY: Um hum. Took us back to Southhampton.

LaVOY:  And how long were you there?

BARKLEY: We was there about ten days or two weeks until we got re-equipped and got our new personnel that we'd lost, and then they put us aboard, and we went back.

LaVOY: Oh joy (laughter)

BARKLEY: (Laughter) Take another whack!

LaVOY:  All right, the next time that you tried it, where did you land?

BARKLEY: I think we landed on the same beach. On Omaha. Our outfit wasn't very far inland when we got there. I was in a corps of artillery. I was in the headquarters of the Corps of Artillery, and we were always back a ways from the front lines. Not very far. They could shoot us with a eighty-eight anytime they wanted to, but we were fortunate. We never got shelled.

LaVOY: Well, now were you shelled as you came ashore? This would have approximately when?

BARKLEY: No, we were not shelled.

LaVOY: Would this would have been in June or July?

BARKLEY: We probably got in there the last part of June.

LaVOY: Of 1944?

BARKLEY: Um-hum, of the invasion. We was only nine days after the invasion that we went in.

LaVOY: And there was a great deal of fighting going on at that time.

BARKLEY: Yes, but the beach had already been- there was no shelling the beach. They was too far away from that.

LaVOY: Now, all those fortifications that are along the beach there at Normandy--the ones that the Germans had put in--those had been all secured. Is that correct?

BARKLEY: Yeah, off and on off of the Omaha Beach and the Utah beaches, they were all secured, but Normandy wasn't secure where the sub pens and stuff were; they weren't secure because when we broke through in the breakthrough when we made that big push, then the Eighth Corps was sent to take the rest of the city that was on the Normandy peninsula. They had, what we called, the mad colonel of the German military because they wouldn't give up and they couldn't get away. There was no way out. They couldn't get out by the water, and we just kept shooting them. When we went into the city of Brest [France], there wasn't a house in the city of Brest that didn't have shell all through it. Every house, and all there was, was just rubble down the streets. He held out a long time there. It seemed like it was a month, but it was probably maybe two weeks that we were fighting there on Brest before we finally took the city.


LaVOY: Do you recall what his name was?

BARKLEY: No, I don't.

LaVOY: In other words, he either lost all of his soldiers or they surrendered?

BARKLEY: Yeah, he just wouldn't quit. They were dug in, and they just wasn't going to quit, you know, but they just sit there and take that shelling day after day after day, you know, and it wasn't small stuff. We was shooting two forties and one fifty-five. That's big artillery.

LaVOY:  Now, what was your exact job with artillery?

BARKLEY: I was in the S-2 Section of the artillery. That's the intelligence section, and we had to plot all the enemy gun positions. Our ears were the observation battalions. They would give us the information where the gun fire was coming from. From what quarter. You see, they had their ears stretched out in a big long fan shape, and they would all be out there, and a gun would fire, well, they could figure out where all these intersected, and that would be the coordinates of the location of the gun, and that's what we had to plot that all on the map, and then if we'd get more fire back then we could counter fire.

LaVOY:  Now, did you actually fire the guns, or you did the intelligence reports?

BARKLEY: No, we just done the intelligence work, and if somebody was getting-fired on--see we had no guns in the headquarters. All our guns was really in the artillery batteries, and they would report that they were being shelled on, and observation battalions would tell us where these shells were coming from, so then we would call our batteries and tell them to zero in on this coordinates and fire at that location trying to stop the enemy from firing at them.

LaVOY:  Now, after you finally took Brest, where did you go? [End of tape 1]

LaVOY: Now, Bill, starting over again on this tape after our fiasco. And I’m just wondering, we were discussing Bastogne [Belgium] and you were telling me about – something about the Battle of the Bulge. Would you mind repeating that for me?

BARKLEY: Well, I’ll try. After Brest we went to Bastogne and was stationed east of Bastogne, between Bastogne and St. Vif, and we was there a while, and, of course, that's where the Battle of the Bulge was. That's where I was when the Battle of the Bulge started. I could understand why it was so devastating 'cause we didn't have any troops. They only had, I think, one infantry division up front of us, and, of course, they pushed us right out of there. The place was pretty well tore up, you know, and we got out all right. The Corps was all right. We wasn't bothered. Part of my outfit stayed in Bastogne, and, of course, they was defending it, and that was where the airborne division was, was in there. It took us quite awhile to get back in there. They didn't want to let go of that because, you see, that was the hub. That was the main hub to several, five--I think there was five--roads come into that city, and they didn't want to give that up which they succeeded in not having to give up. And then, 'course when that ended, everything from there on was all downhill because there wasn't anything left. We just kept moving back. The Corps couldn't set up anymore. The infantry and the armor was moving too fast. We couldn't keep up with it. And I assume that General [Dwight D.] Eisenhower would stop the thing as well as we run into the Russian army, and we didn't want to fight them if we didn't have to, and I think the last town I was in in Germany was Bad Salzungen, and we was there for awhile, but we didn't do anything there. We just had our quarters there, but we didn't do nothing. There was nothing to do. 'Course when we left there, that all went under Russian command after we pulled out of there. We went back into France. We was going to go home. We went to Rouen, France. We was going to get ready to go home 'cause my outfit, the Eighth Corps, was scheduled to go to back to the United States for about a month, and they was going to go to the Far East because Japan was still fighting. At that time you had points you could get. You had eighty-five points, you'd get out of the service. Well, I think I had eighty-one points, so I was coming home, and I know just before we got on the ship, the captain had put in for a bronze star for me, and that came through just as I was about to board the ship, and, of course, that kept me from going home. And I had to stay in France for a little while longer.

LaVOY:  Now, Rill, besides the bronze star, what other awards did you get?

BARKLEY: Oh, I had five battle stars and, of course, I had the good conduct medal and all that kind of stuff. That's what a good soldier is supposed to have, you know.

LaVOY:  Well, now, tell me, since you got your bronze star, and you couldn't go home at that point in time, what did you do?

BARKLEY: I was in Rouen, France, and they put me in an MP battalion. I had to pull MP duty while I was in Rouen, France.

LaVOY:  I can't quite imagine you as an MP, Bill.

BARKLEY: Well, it was just of those things that I was in. My beat was down the section between the white and the colored people, and we'd walk up and down there. My partner was a southern boy. You know how the southern boys are with colored people. They a little bit . . . and, of course, at that time, it wasn't like it is today. Everything was separated. Finally, I got on the boat. We come home.

LaVOY: Well, now, let's get back here to your being an MP. I believe you were telling me a little story about you and your partner having a little altercation with some of the black WACS [Women's Army Corps].

BARKLEY: Yeah, well, we went into one of the French bars, and as I say, this was a colored section over there, and we had to watch both sides, so we went into the bar just to observe what was going on, and one of the colored WACS asked me if I would hit a person with my night stick, and I told them, "No, I wouldn't hit them with a night stick." I said, "I wouldn't want to hurt them. I could take this forty-five and I'd shoot them. Wouldn't want to hurt anybody."

LaVOY: You were being very brave!

BARKLEY: No, I wasn't being brave. (laughing) I just wanted to try to stop anything before it started. You don't need to start things, you know. It just causes trouble, and you bring problems on yourself when you do those kinds of things. -So, I didn't have to stop. We didn't have any problems with the boys.

LaVOY: Were there any white WACS in that area?

BARKLEY: Not that I know of. All the WACS I seen was the colored WACS, and that's the first time I ever seen a albino colored person with red hair and pink eyes. All the whites were somewhere else. I don't know where they were.


LaVOY: Now, you were an MP for about four months. Then, what did you do?

BARKLEY: Well, then we got on a ship and got back to the United States. We landed in Boston [Massachusetts] and then from Boston, they sent me back to Fort Douglas [Utah] where I was inducted, and that's where I got my discharge.

LaVOY: And when you were discharged, what was your rate?

BARKLEY: I was a Technician fifth grade.

LaVOY: From there then you came back to Fallon?

BARKLEY: Yeah, I come back to Fallon after I got out. When I got discharged, I came back to Fallon, and then I went to work out at the Navy base as a guard on the Navy base. At that time they had all civilian guards on the Navy base. There wasn't any military guards on the Navy base.

LaVOY:  Now, tell me, what were some of your duties as a guard?

BARKLEY: Oh, just a guard. See that people didn't get on that wasn't authorized to be on there, and, you know, just try to keep things going as they should, and there was several people that I knew. They were all pert near all the guards that I knew at the time, I think, were pert near all dead now.

LaVOY:  What were some of their names?

BARKLEY: Well, Stan Chappell was one, and his stepfather, Frank Chappell, was one. Fellow by the name of Arnstrum was one, Jess Snodgrass, and my brother was also a guard on that base.

LaVOY:  Now, which brother?

BARKLEY: Foster [Barkley], as I called him. Foster's Gordon Foster, Jr.-

LaVOY:  Did you have any interesting little incidents happen on the base? Did you find things that the sailors had done?

BARKLEY: Well, the base, you know, at that time was just . . . it ended on the highway 'cause Highway 50 went through there on the south side, and, of course, we had a roving patrol that would drive around the base. We'd cross over on the runway and go down the runway and see that everything was right. The runway run clear to the pert near the highway, and I went out there one night and there was a box of tools sitting out there by the fence. Somebody'd taken it out there and set them down. I guess they was going around on the other side and pick them up. They couldn't get out the gate with them, so I picked them up and took them back. (laughing)

LaVOY:  Some sailor was probably not very happy with you.

BARKLEY: Probably wasn't, but that's the way it was. [tape cuts]

LaVOY:  How long did you work there at the base?

BARKLEY: Oh, I think I worked there probably about six months, seven months, something like that. I don't remember just how long I was there. Wasn't there too awfully long.


LaVOY: That would have been from…

BARKLEY: That would have been in 1946.

LaVOY: 1945 when you were . .

BARKLEY: That's right. I got out of the service in the fall of 1945.

LaVOY: Until the spring of 1946?

BARKLEY: Until the spring of 1946. That's probably about as long as I worked. I didn't work there too long.

LaVOY: How long did the Navy keep that base?

BARKLEY: Well, I don't know. They gave it up once, and they turned it back to the county. I don't know how long it was. It wasn't very long.

LaVOY: What did the county do with it?

BARKLEY: Nothing that I knew of.

LaVOY: What they'd do with the buildings?

BARKLEY: Well, there wasn't any buildings. I think when the Navy left there, they had all the buildings tore down and sold them to the Indians or give them to the Indians. Probably sold them to the Indians for a dollar apiece or something. I don't know. The old base is not there anymore. On the other side where . . . there's some there but not like it was. One of the hangars is gone I know. Maybe one of the old hangars is still there. I don't know.

LaVOY: Did you say that some of the original buildings came from Hawthorne?

BARKLEY: When they started to expand, there was some buildings they put in right there as you went into the south gate. They put some houses in there. I think they was from Hawthorne. I think they tore them down in sections and brought them up here and put them back up, and that was where they had housing for the sailors after they re-activated the base. After they once give it up they started it up again.

LaVOY:  Now, was the Air Force out here at some point in time?

BARKLEY: Yes. The radar was out there. The radar section of the Air Force was out there, and I don't know. You might have remembered Colonel Bradley. Curly Bradley. He was one of the commanding officers of the radar, the Air Force there.

LaVOY:  Now, he was the gentleman that owned the Dairy Queen?

BARKLEY: Yeah. He owned the Dairy Queen. Him and his wife had the Dairy Queen after he retired.

LaVOY:  I believe Leon Manning from Reno worked for him as an Air Force sergeant at some point in time. What else can you tell me about the base when the Navy first had it? When you first worked there.

BARKLEY: Well, I don't know much about the Navy base other than what I just said. That's about all I know about it that they did give it up to the county and they took it back after a while, but it wasn't very long. I don't think it was over about a year it was back in business there again.

LaVOY:  Did you feel that the Navy would return?

BARKLEY: Yeah, I kind of thought they would. I couldn't see them giving it up completely because after all it's a very good location for a military unit like that. This is a fine country. They can fly so much. They can get so much done, and Alameda was getting more crowded and more crowded. The people down there moving into California. Well, all the prop airplanes were in the business I could see where Alameda would be superior to Fallon Navy, but they went into the jet airplanes, well, no way. Fallon was by far better 'cause there's no time to fly from Fallon to San Francisco in a jet airplane. Make it pretty fast.

LaVOY:  Did you ever expect to see it as large as it is now?

BARKLEY: No, I never thought it would be this big, and it looks like it's going to get bigger. Probably bigger all the time now. I think it's here to stay.

LaVOY:  Well, I think so, too. Now, something I wanted to ask you. Getting back to your father, I understand that your father had a store or something at Eastgate station on the western base of the Desatoya Mountains.

BARKLEY: Yes, he did. He had the Eastgate station. I think he leased that in 1946, and he was there for three or four years. I'd go out there and help him once in awhile. He wanted to take a vacation or go somewhere for a day or two, well, I'd go out there and take over and run it and see that it'd stay together.

LaVOY: Did he have bar and groceries?

BARKLEY: He had bar. Well, not very many groceries. They could buy a little bit of soda crackers- or not soda crackers… potato chips and that kind of stuff. You could get a sandwich there and a cup of coffee or a drink of whiskey or a gallon of gasoline, whatever you needed like that.

LaVOY: Basically, it was a bar?

BARKLEY: Basically, it was a bar and service station, that’s basically what it was.

LaVOY: Now, I understand there was quite a cloudburst out there. Could you tell me about that?

BARKLEY: Yeah, I think that cloudburst happened in the fall of 1947. It was pretty devastating. It tore the bridge out. The bridge was just sitting high and dry in the middle of the wash. No end on either end of it. Couldn't get- across it. There was a big truck coming down off that mountain off of Carroll Summit. The driver said that he could see little slicks across the highway, mud slicks, and he was going pretty slow, and he got down and he seen what he thought was a mud slick and he was watching pretty close and "Pretty soon," he says, "I could see that it wasn't mud that it was water, so," he says, "I just stepped out of that truck and it just disappeared into the wash." And it went in there, and it stood right on its radiator, and the back end wasn't even visible. And it stood right on its radiator 'cause it was standing up there and the trailer was laying beside it in the bottom of the wash.

LaVOY: How fortunate for him that he stepped out.

BARKLEY: Oh, yeah. He'd of been gone. I know that they bridged it because the Hiskey Stages running from Reno to Ely, they would come to that wash, and then they'd have to transfer everything from one stage to the other that year. We'd walk across on the bridging they put in there. I guess it took a week or ten days to get that thing back into operation. Get the bridge put back, get that hole filled up.

LaVOY: Well, now, if you were out there the night it was raining, how did you react to it?

BARKLEY: Oh, it was just like a lot of water. It wasn't going to do much damage. Not to the station. Water run through the back door and out the front. You'd get your feet wet, maybe, but it wouldn't bother you or anything because there wasn't enough water coming off that little section of hill that would do any damage to the buildings.

LaVOY: But how deep was the water in the store?

BARKLEY: Oh, it wasn't over a couple of inches deep. An inch and a half, two inches deep, was as deep as it was.

LaVOY: That must have been frightening not knowing how much more was going to follow it.

BARKLEY: Well, it didn't seem to bother us any. We just figured well, it'll quit when it quits because it couldn't do anything. It couldn't wash us out. It was too high. The water could run away too fast.

LaVOY: Well, you mentioned that you were coming out from Fallon when it started raining.

BARKLEY: Yeah, I was, and I got out there on the other side of Drumm's Summit, and I had to stop because it was raining so hard I couldn't see. I couldn't drive anymore. I had to just stop and wait until it let up. It did let up after awhile for a little bit so I could drive. I got on to Eastgate all right, and then it really started raining after that, and that was the flood that my uncle perished in in Dixie Valley. He died of exposure down there.

LaVOY: Well, now, tell me about, it was the same storm, I'm assuming, but when it came into Dixie Valley, can you tell me something about that?

BARKLEY: Well, I know it washed all the rocks off of one of the mountains there where the old mill site was there at Middle Gate, or maybe it was at West Gate, I guess. I don't know. Anyway, old Ben Thompson lived there in that house there taking care of the mill watching it. He stepped out the door. He could hear this racket, and he stepped out the door to look, and he couldn't see anything so he went back in and went to bed. It's a good thing he did because he would have perished if he'd stepped out that door. The rocks coming off that mountain. The next day they had to dig his car out. Rocks all around it, and he couldn't drive it out of there. They had to dig it out.

LaVOY:  My goodness!

BARKLEY: I think it was Dodge Construction that was working on the highway out there somewhere, and they found barrels of oil down in Dixie Valley from the construction site. That water run down there.

LaVOY:  Well, now, how did your uncle happen to perish?

BARKLEY: Well, he just couldn't get out because their truck got stuck, and they couldn't get out.

LaVOY:  Well, now, "they". He and .

BARKLEY: Him and his son. His son was with him.

LaVOY:  That was Gordon?

BARKLEY: No. It was John [Barkley]. Johnny was with him, and Johnny couldn't . . . he got him out. He got him up on the high ground, but it was so cold, and he was so thin--he was thinner than I am and that's getting pretty thin. I have to stand three times to see my shadow, and he had to stand four.

LaVOY:  (laughing)

BARKLEY: But, he just got so cold that he just perished.

LaVOY:  Well, now, his name was…

BARKLEY: His name was Crawford Thomas Barkley.

LaVOY:  And they were driving?

BARKLEY: They were driving out to their home in Dixie.

LaVOY:  And there was a wash. Is that it?

BARKLEY: They tried to cross this wash, and they got hung up in the wash, and they couldn't get out, so they just crawled out of the pickup, and they got up on the high ground. Little John could get in. He was young enough he could get home, but he couldn't get his dad with him. He wasn't strong enough to get himself and his dad in there in this storm.

LaVOY:  And so, as a result, your uncle perished right there in Dixie Valley.

BARKLEY: Right there in Dixie Valley, and his son got home, and he told his brother. His brother was a good deal bigger man. He was much bigger and much stronger, and he told his brother that their father was back out there in the hill, and so J. C. [Barkley] went out and found his dad and carried him back to the home, but J.C. was a pretty good-sized man.

LaVOY: And you thought that their father was dead at that point in time?

BARKLEY: Yeah, he was dead.

LaVOY: Was he the only casualty of the storm?

BARKLEY: The only one that I know of. Yes.

LaVOY: How very tragic. Well, then, Bill, after you helped your father off and on at Eastgate, and you had quit your job at the base, then what were you doing?

BARKLEY: I went to work for the post office on the janitorial section of it.

LaVOY: And this was approximately what year?

BARKLEY: I think probably about 1948. I can't be sure. Maybe it was 1949, but I think it was probably in 1948, and while I was working there, I met my wife.

LaVOY: Well, now, how did Harriet happen to be in Fallon?

BARKLEY: Well, her father came over here after the War. Wanted a trip just to see the country I guess it was. He knew he had some uncles over here in the United States, but he didn't know where they were, so he went to the embassy [Swedish] in San Francisco and told them he had an uncle in this area somewhere but he didn't know where he was and gave them his name and everything, and when he got home, why he had report from his embassy that they had found his uncle and that he lived in Fallon, Nevada.

LaVOY: And what was his name, do you recall?

BARKLEY: And his name was Magnus Carlson, and Harriet's father wanted his children to all have a trip to the United States and her being the oldest one she was the first to come, and she was supposed to go to school in San Francisco, and she stopped in Fallon to visit with her great uncle.

LaVOY: Now, where did he live in Fallon?

BARKLEY: He lived out on McLean Street in Fallon. He was an old contractor here. He built lots of houses around this town, and so she stopped there to see him, and we met there and that's when she put the shackles on me. (laughing)

LaVOY: Oh, yes. (laughing) You were so [inaudible]

BARKLEY: I'm sure you believe that. (laughing)

LaVOY: (laughing)

BARKLEY: But, anyway, we got married in 1950.

LaVOY: Well, now, just one minute here. She met you where in Fallon?

BARKLEY: We met at her uncle's house because he had married my stepmother's sister.

LaVOY: Now, who was that?

BARKLEY: And that was Stella, and I used to go down there every day to check on them to see that everything was all right, that-they didn't need something because they were getting up in ages.

LaVOY: Now, Stella's maiden name was what?

BARKLEY: Melendy was her maiden name.

LaVOY: Bill, I don't think you went down to check on them. I think you went to check on that pretty little Swedish girl.

BARKLEY: No, I would go down there every day. I had to go down there every day to see that Magnus and Stella had everything they needed. They were getting a little agey. I worked for Magnus at one time, and I helped him out on his apartment that he had, and we'd work for a half a day on it, and then we'd go down and play Pinochle the other half of the day.

LaVOY: Where would you play Pinochle?

BARKLEY: We played Pinochle down at the Owl Club most of the time. Down at Ma [Mrs. Luis] Latasa's place. Anyway, we fell in love, I know. I guess that's what you'd call it anyway. We got married.


LaVOY: Did she speak English?

BARKLEY:  Oh, she spoke as good a English as most anybody else did. She had a little brogue, but it was mostly an English brogue. It wasn't Swedish. She didn't have a Swedish accent as much as she had an English accent. A high English, but she learned her English in England. When she went to England, she couldn't speak English, and so she had to learn it the hard way. She had to learn to say, "Pass the bread."

LaVOY:  Now, where was Harriet born?

BARKLEY: She was born in Lunn, Sweden, and when she went to England, she went to London. That's where she was, or just out of London. Anyway, when she got here, she could talk great English. We didn't have any problem conversing.

LaVOY:  Now, she just came for a visit, and how long was she going to stay?

BARKLEY: She was going to stay here for two years, but she was supposed to go to school in San Francisco, but she never got to San Francisco.

LaVOY:  She ran into Bill Barkley instead.

BARKLEY: Yeah, she ran into me instead, and that was in 1949. She came here in October of 1949. She got here about the twentieth of October, and we got married in April of 1950.

LaVOY:  Now, where were you married?

BARKLEY: We got married at Lake Tahoe at my uncle's house… oh, what’s the name of that beach up there?

LaVOY:  What was your uncle's name?

BARKLEY: My uncle's name was Fenn Barkley. My aunt, Llewellyn Gross, put the wedding on for us. It was at Marla Bay is where we got married at Lake Tahoe. We got a Justice of Peace to marry us. I know when he stood up before us to marry us, he says, "Well, I don't know if you're more nervous than I am or not. It's the first time I ever put on a wedding like this". 'Cause we had quite (laughing) a crew there. There was quite a lot of people there. I remember there was an old cowboy there. His name was Thistleswaite. Big tall skinny fellow. We'd known him for quite awhile, and I looked over and there old Ed Thistleswaite had tears running down his cheek. I couldn't (laughing) figure out what he was thinking about. He was a pretty good western artist, and he was a cowboy. That was his profession. That art was something he done just to pass the time, I think, but he done a pretty good job. I know Harvey Gross had him paint a big mural on his bar up over his restaurant at Lake Tahoe there at Harvey's Wagon Wheel. 'Course it's gone now, but at that time it was something. A big western scene.

LaVOY: Who was your attendant?

BARKLEY: Gordon F. Barkley was my best man, and my cousin stood up for us. Beverly Gross, now Beverly Ledbetter was Maid of Honor, I guess that what you call them. Julia Mackedon's little girl at that time her name was Lenn [Mackedon]. She was about five years old. She was one of the little girls, and Bruce Kent's wife [Jamie Bray] was another one that was one of our ring bearers or something, but there was two little girls.

LaVOY: Well, now, did you wear a tuxedo?

BARKLEY: No, I didn't wear a tuxedo. Done well just to get into a suit. (laughing)

LaVOY: (laughing) But, was Harriet in her gown?

BARKLEY: Yes, she was in a gown. I think that Stella Karlsson made her her gown I think that's who it was. I'm not sure. I think it was probably Stella that made it for her.

LaVOY: Were any of her family from Sweden in attendance?

BARKLEY: No. She called her dad and told him that we was going to get married. He says, "Oh, you can't do that. You can't do that now. You put it off, and I'll come over." "Well," she says, "we'll put it off until the twenty-second of April, and you come over." Well, the twenty-second of April came, and he wasn't here, so we got married anyway.

LaVOY:  Well, I bet he wasn't too happy.

BARKLEY: No, he wasn't too happy. It took him, I think we was married for twenty-five years before he finally accepted the fact that his daughter was married to me. (laughing)

LaVOY:  Well, you know, fathers of daughters are . . . they're very fussy.

BARKLEY: Yeah, it seems that way. (laughing)

LaVOY:  (laughing)

BARKLEY: I know after we got married--I was working for the post office when we got married. [end of tape 2 side A]

LaVOY: Now, Bill, were you working for the post office all of this time from when you first started, had you ever quit, or were you still working for the post office before you met Harriet?

BARKLEY: I'd worked for the post office about, I don't know, maybe a year before I met Harriet, and then, as I say, we got married in April, and then I worked… The Frenchman's Station came open, we leased that the first of the year of 1951, and we moved to Frenchman's. I resigned the job in the post office, and we moved to Frenchman's Station, and we run Frenchman's Station for not quite two years.

LaVOY: Now, what did you do at Frenchman's Station?

BARKLEY: Frenchman's Station was another one of these Eastgate deals. It was a bar, short-order place, and a gas station. We'd sell gas and sandwiches and whiskey, and we run that from the first of the year of 1951 to the first of October, 1952. About a year and eight, nine months.

LaVOY: Now, did the new bride have to make the sandwiches?

BARKLEY: She had to make the sandwiches, and she had to pour whiskey. She had to learn to pour whiskey, and she had to learn to pump gas. Of course-

LaVOY: And, of course, she didn't tell her father anything about this.

BARKLEY: Oh, yes! Oh, yes!

LaVOY: Oh, did she?

BARKLEY: Yeah. He came out to visit us the next fall, I think it was. In the fall of 1951 that he came out to visit us. I know we went to San Francisco and met him on an airplane to bring him up, and we took him out to Frenchman's Station, and he looked around, and he says, "Well, they can't get me here by telephone." But, they could have if they'd known he was there 'cause that was the last telephone on the route was Frenchman's Station. I know it was quite a place. We borrowed every dime we had to get in there. Didn't have a crying dime to begin with 'cause I was only making 190 dollars a month when I was working for the post office. Seventy dollars of that was on payments so didn't leave much to eat on. So I went out there, I had to borrow every dime it took to get in there, and I always figured that Frenchman's Station give me my start, or give us our start, because we worked liked hell out there. I know at some times it was . . . you look back at that time, when it happened, it wasn't very pleasant, but you look back, and you think about it today, it was hilarious. You laugh, you know, about the things that went on. I know there was one time the Scheelite Mine ran out there, and those boys'd all, they get their paycheck, and 'course they'd come down, and the first thing they'd have to do, they'd have to have a drink, so they'd land at Frenchman's Station there 'cause that was the closest, and they'd tank up. They'd start drinking. Golly, they would pull the darndest things. I remember one time three of them came down there, and they got to drinking and they'd get a little rowdy, and one of them yelled to the other one, "Oh, you keep still. You shut up. Don't talk like that, there's a lady here." And I know that when-there was a couple there, and one was named Harvey Kingsford and Roy Tucker, the other one's name, and Harvey was a small man. Wasn't too tall, and Tucker was a pretty tall man, and they'd had a little bit more than the body should have, and Kingsford got to acting like he was going to throw up. It was in the wintertime. -There was probably a couple of inches of snow outside. Tucker says, "You don't do that in here," and he grabbed him by the suspenders. Kingford had bib overalls on. He got him by the suspenders and started to the door with him, and just as he got to the edge of the steps, well, his suspenders gave way 'cause he was pulling on them so damn hard, you know, he was picking up his suspenders, and they gave way, and out  in the snow he went. There he laid out there in the snow, and there is kind of, when you see it, you know, and seen it in the action that was going on, to me, it's funny as heck now if you look back on it, the things that happened.

LaVOY:  Well, how long did (laughing) he, stay in the snow?

BARKLEY: Not very long. He sobered up pretty fast. He got back in the bar. Then he laid down on the floor, and Harriet got a pillow and put his head on it. You know, that was pretty good of her.

LaVOY:  Well, (laughing) I think so.

BARKLEY: Well, I would of probably just left him lay there with his head on the floor, and I know some tourists came by, and they came in, and this woman opened the door and looked at that, and she said, "I don't know." And I come out and I said, "Oh, come on." Says, "Just step over him, step on him." I says, "It don't make any difference. He won't know the difference anyhow." (laughing)

LaVOY:  (laughing)

BARKLEY: I think it was really amusing when we first went out there, there was an old gentleman who lived in town. He was an old buckaroo. His name was Dude Gobin, and a lot of people in this valley knew Dude. He was an old cowboy, and he was from Elko and that country up there, too. He worked out for Pete Cushman. He had a stroke, so he was in bad shape. He couldn't get around anymore. He could get around, but . . . So I seen him in town, and I asked him, "Well, Dude, would you like to go out to Frenchman's and spend the summer." "Oh, yeah," he says, "I'd like that." He says, "I'd like that," so I took him out there, and Dude was very good. He was a real tall man. He was a big man, but all crippled up on that one side. He deteriorated pretty bad on one side, but he'd get up in the morning--he smoked Bull Durham cigarettes--he'd make himself a cigarette, and he'd go out and pump up the gas pumps and sprinkle the yard down a little bit with some water to settle the dust, and then he'd go sit on an old car seat I had there and smoke his cigarette. One morning a couple of--he said they were a couple of school teachers pulled up there, and they asked him if they could get a cup of coffee, and old Dude says, "Well, rightfully, Ma'am, I don't know." He says, "The people that run this place are just newlyweds, and they're still honeymooning."

LaVOY:  (laughing)

BARKLEY: So they sit there and thought a while, and pretty soon they got to feeling sorry for Dude, see. Then pretty soon one of them says, "Well, I guess this wouldn't be such a bad place to honeymoon," and old Dude grabbed the side of his chair and jumped up and said, "Well, Ma'm, I ain't as old as I look." (laughing)

LaVOY:  (laughing) Well, did the teachers get their cups of coffee, or were

BARKLEY: No, when he pulled that, why they bailed out he said. (laughing)

LaVOY:  (laughing) Oh, dear! Well, I'm thinking of Harriet's father coming from the wooded country in Sweden and coming out here and visiting the two of you at Frenchman's Station, and I'm thinking he was probably in a state of shock. (laughing)

BARKLEY:(laughing) I know one time, Harriet had to go to town, or I had to go to town. One of us was gone, and the other one had to do something else, and somebody come in, and Harriet's dad, he waited on them. Now, he couldn't speak English.

LaVOY: Now, what was his name?

BARKLEY: His name was Harry, and he couldn’t speak English.

LaVOY: Harry Karlsson?

BARKLEY: Harry Karlsson. But he could understand "beer," and they wanted a bottle of beer, so he give them a bottle of beer. Well, at that time, we had the eastern beer and the western beer. All the eastern beer was like Schlitz and Budweiser and any of the Hamms stuff was all made in the east, and then there was the Buffalo beer and the Sierra beer and the Tahoe beer, you know, the western beers, and our western beers we sold for twenty-five cents a bottle and the eastern beers we sold for thirty cents, and we asked him how he figured out what to charge. "Well," he says, "I knew you charged thirty cents for some of it, but I didn't know which, so I charged everybody thirty cents for everything." (laughing)

LaVOY: (laughing) He made a profit that day.

BARKLEY: (laughing) He made me five cents (laughing) a can more on my western beer.

LaVOY: Well, how long did he stay to visit?

BARKLEY: I don't remember. Seems like he was with us about a month, I guess.

LaVOY: Was Harriet's mother with him?

BARKLEY: No, just him. At that time he was single. He wasn't married. Harriet's mother and him had separated when she was a child. I think she was five old years when they separated, so he came by himself.

LaVOY: He had to see that son-in-law.

BARKLEY: Oh, yeah, he had to see me.    'Course he . . . we was married for . . . we was married in 1950, in 1958, we went back to Sweden. That was the first time she went back to Sweden after we were married, but we left Frenchman's because she was pregnant with our oldest boy, and she didn't think it was the right place to raise a child out there in the bar and a gas station in the middle of the desert, so she wanted out, so we sold out and moved back to town.

LaVOY:  Who did you sell to?

BARKLEY: I just sold it back to the owners. The people that owned the station. They owned the property.

LaVOY: Who were they?

BARKLEY: Their name was LeFevre. Nellie and Obie LeFevre was their name.

LaVOY: Well, then you came back to Fallon.

BARKLEY: I came back to Fallon. While I was at Frenchman's Station, I worked a little while out in Gabbs for Smith Brothers tending bar, and I decided I didn't want to do that very long because I could get out there and I wasn't any better off. I might as well stay at Frenchman's Station as to go to Gabbs, Nevada. I didn't like it out there, so I quit out there and I came back, and we moved back to Fallon. I went to work for a guy by the name of Jones. He had the distributorship of selling beer and ice cream and stuff. He'd deliver out to Frenchman's and Gabbs and over to Austin and go down to Hawthorne, but I didn't work there too awfully long. Then I went to work for Elmer Woolverton at the Standard Oil. I worked there for Elmer for five years until 1958, and we went to Sweden . .

LaVOY: Excuse me for just a minute. Where did you live from that period of time of 1952 to 1958?

BARKLEY: We moved back into town, and we lived in a little house on Esmeralda Street in my grandmother's house for a while, and uh-

LaVOY: Now, your grandmother?

BARKLEY: Well, my stepmother's mother, in her house. She had died.

LaVOY: What was her name?

BARKLEY: Her name was Kramer, Elizabeth Kramer, and we lived there for about five months I guess, maybe. Who knows? and, gosh, I was working Elmer and one of the people that bought fuel for us came in. He was a sailor. He was in the Navy. He was a chief, I think, in the Navy, and they had transferred him to Whidbey Island in Washington, and he had this house and he wanted to sell. Ask him what he wanted for it, and he said he wanted five thousand dollars for it. So I said, "Well, we'll come over and take a look at it. My wife'll come over and take a look at it." So, we went over and looked at it. It was on Churchill Street, and so we bought that house 'cause it only cost us fifty dollars a month for payments. Didn't have to put too much down. I had enough money to buy it to put it down, and then five thousand dollars isn't very much money anyway. The interest rate was, I think, he was getting six per cent. It might have been five and a half, I don't know. And then we lived in there . . . I don't know. We bought the house on Russell Street in 1959, so we lived there until the fall of 1959. While we was living there, that's when the earthquake hit, and it broke that house up pretty bad. It was a frame house with a stucco finish, plaster on the outside. Broke it all to heck. You could see daylight through the walls. So, Harriet's brother was here at that time. He was working in San Francisco for a contractor down there. He was a bricklayer, and he called to see about it 'cause it was on the news about this earthquake. He called to see how his sister was doing, and she told him, and so, "Well, if you'll furnish the brick, I'll come up and we'll brick veneer."

LaVOY:  Now, this is Harriet's brother?

BARKLEY: Harriet's brother, Sven [Karlsson]. So I said, "All right," and I moved him down, so I ordered seven thousand bricks from Reno. You remember when the brickyard was there?

LaVOY:  Caton's [Reno Brick Yard], I believe, wasn't it?

BARKLEY: Something like that. Anyway, I ordered seven thousand bricks, and Dick Alles had a big truck and trailer so I hired him, and he went up there and hauled them seven thousand bricks down here. That was the hardest part was unloading the darn things 'cause they was on cardboard pallets, and I didn't have a forklift to take them off with, so I had to take them off of the truck and the trailer one at a time with my hands.

LaVOY:  Oh, my goodness!

BARKLEY: Seven thousand bricks is a lot of brick. (laughing)

LaVOY:  You probably lost a little more weight on that one.

BARKLEY: Well, I hired a friend of mine and a boy, and we

unloaded those brick. We unloaded Dick's truck first so he could have his truck, and then we unloaded the trailer and I got some sand and Sven came up, and I took a week off of work, and then we bricked that house. We put those seven thousand brick in in seven days.

LaVOY:  My goodness!

BARKLEY: We'd work from daylight till way after dark. We put a big light out there and hang it on a hook so we could see to lay the brick and mix the mud, and I know I was awful darn tired of carrying hod when that job was done.

LaVOY: Well, how nice of your brother-in-law, though, to volunteer to come up and help you.

BARKLEY: Oh, yeah. That was real nice. That was real nice, and it turned out it was a pretty nice looking little house. I know my dad when we bought the house over on Russell, he was really disturbed 'cause he wouldn't gamble, you know. That Depression just about broke him of speculating on anything. I didn't figure that it was all that bad because I had enough money to finish paying the house off, and I bought that Russell Street house. The superintendent of schools was the owner of it, and he wanted to sell it 'cause they offered him a job in Stanford to go back to school for his doctorate's degree, and they would pay him, I don't know how much. Four hundred dollars a month or somethin' to go back to school. Well, that suited Jack Davis real fine, but he had this house he wanted to get rid of. Well, Jack and Mary had been our neighbors, so Jack seen Harriet downtown, I guess it was, and he said to her, "Well, why don't you buy our house?" "What? I don't know," she says. So she told me. If you can't do nothin', it don't cost to go look, so I went over and see what he had. Asked him what he wanted for it. All he wanted was what he had in it, and we'd take over the payments. So I told Jack, I says, "Well, Jack, I don't want to have to have two house payments. One for you and for this house. I've got enough money for your down payment, but if I give it to you then I got two payments to make after that, and I don't want to make two payments." "Well," he says. He wanted $2500 down. That's what he had in it. So he says, "Can you give me a thousand dollars down and pay me off in two years? Fifteen hundred dollars in two years with no interest." I said, "Well, hell, yes, I can do that. Sure. No interest. Sure, I can do that." So, I paid the little house off, and then I rented it, see. Well, the rent from it was helping me pay the other payment on Russell Street.

LaVOY: What was the address on Russell, do you remember?

BARKLEY: 145 North Russell Street. It's right behind the hospital, and we lived there for twenty-five years, and then I built this house.

LaVOY: For heaven sake! Well, that was a bargain.

BARKLEY: Oh, yeah. Heck, yes. That was a good deal for us.

LaVOY:  Well, now, you and Harriet, when you moved in from Frenchman's Station you had your first son; what was his name?          

BARKLEY: His name was David Crawford [Barkley].

LaVOY:  And he was born?

BARKLEY: He was born on December the thirty-first of 1952.

LaVOY: And then your next son was what?

BARKLEY: Thomas Harry [Barkley].

LaVOY: And he was born?

BARKLEY: August 23, 1956.

LaVOY: So, they were just little boys when you were doing all this buying of houses . .

BARKLEY: Oh, yeah, they were just little kids.

LaVOY: And trading of houses. All right, now, you worked for the oil company.

BARKLEY: I worked for them for five years.

LaVOY: And then after that, what did you do?

BARKLEY: Then I went back to work for the post office.

LaVOY: Now, getting back to this first five years that we're speaking of, Harriet has told me some very interesting stories about money was very tight in those days, and that your entertainment was going down and parking in front of one of the clubs.

BARKLEY:  Yeah. We'd go and park. When we first got married, as I say, I got $190 a month, and I think it was seventy dollars of that was payments. That didn't leave a whole lot, you know, after they got through with taking out Social Security and income tax. There wasn't much of it, so our entertainment was to go downtown and sit on the west side of the street, on the bar side, then watch the people walk up and down the street, and we'd see a lot of things that went on that was very amusing, and, actually, it's probably more amusing than most people think, you know, to watch the things that go on.

LaVOY:  I don't want you to mention the gentleman's name, but the one incident that amuses me so was the gentleman that was coming down the street with a pretty girl.

BARKLEY: Yeah, this fellow was coming down the street, and he had this gal on his arm, and he had a smile on him that was as big as a whale, and a sailor's walkin' by the other way. He reached out and run his arm through hers, and she just done a turn and followed the sailor down the road. (laughing)

LaVOY: (laughing) And I understand the expression on the…

BARKLEY: Oh, yeah, his smile went off, and his mouth dropped down. Boy, that was a kick in the seat of the pants if ever there was one. (laughing)


LaVOY: And little did he know that you and Harriet were sitting watching it all, laughing hysterically.

BARKLEY: Little he knew. Little he knew.

LaVOY: (laughing) Well, now, you went back to work for the post office in what year?

BARKLEY: September of 1958.

LaVOY: What was your job?

BARKLEY:  I was hired off the register. You see, you have a register in the post office, hiring, and then you have to pass a Civil Service examination to work in the post office, and I hadn't taken that examination, but there wasn't anybody on the list who had taken it. There wasn't anybody on the list. They didn't have any, and Lem needed the help.

LaVOY: Now, Lem was?

BARKLEY: Lem Allen was the post master, so I went in and I talked to him. 'Course I'd worked for him before, so he gave me the job, but it was off the register with the understanding that I had to take the examination when they'd give it, and I'd have to pass it to keep my job. (laughing) But, I think I worked there for maybe eighteen months or two years before they ever gave the examination, and all this time I was just on what you'd call a trial period or just working to fill in, so they give the examination. I passed the examination then I got my appointment as a regular, and then I worked on the floor for the five years. I'd carry mail or I'd sort mail. I'd work on the window or whatever came up. Whatever needed to be done. I should have worked longer in the office than I did, but it got to the point where people in the office would say, "Well, it's not my job." You see, after a certain period they get the idea, "Well, it's not my job." Well, when you work for the government, you work for the people. It is your job. Any job in the office to be done is to be done. If you're not busy, you do it, and that's the way it was when I went to work there. If there was something to be done, if you wasn't busy, you done it, so that's what I was doing until the rural route at that time was Rural Route 1. It was only one route, and it took in everything, more or less everything, on the south side of Highway 50 going to Reno, except that maybe half or three-quarters of a mile on this side of the strip there, and everything south there and then everything all the way across the valley north of the highway, and there was a route in Stillwater and it was what they called West Star and East Star Route, and Fred Sexton-carried all that. But, it got to where it was too big, so they split the route and made Rural Route 1 and Rural Route 2. He had the right to pick which one he wanted, so he took Rural Route 2 which was on the east side 'cause it was the biggest route, it was the longest route, and it paid the most money, and I would have done the same thing. So, that just left Rural Route 1 open, and I wanted the job. That was a political appointment. You had to be appointed politically. Of course, my political affiliation, I was a Republican, and the Power That Be was Democrat, but I knew the Democratic Central Committee. Was good friends of mine (laughing), so I told them I wanted the job, so I got the job, and Walter Baring was the representative that appointed those appointments. See, now, at that time it was Alan Bible and Howard Cannon and Walter Baring, and Bible appointed all the appointees in Washoe County, and Cannon took all the appointees in Clark County, and Baring had all the rest, so Baring gave me the appointment because of the Democratic Central Committee had the appointment, and that's how I got my rural route job.

LaVOY:  Oh, I see.

BARKLEY: And, then, of course, after the postal department changed names and went to the postal service, and then it became you had to have an examination to get the job, and so it was no longer political. You had to get the job by an examination or take a test for it which it might be a little hard, but it may or may not be. I don't know.

LaVOY:  Well, now, when would you leave in the morning with all this? I don't understand the rural routes. Tell me how you get your mail and put it in your car and all of that.

BARKLEY: The clerks in the office, the sorters, they sort the mail that comes in, and the mail all comes in. It's all bundled in bundles. Everybody's mail is in one bundle. They open the bundle up and then they sort it by address, and all the city mail goes to the city carriers and the rural mail went to the rural carriers or the West Star and the East Star carriers. That was, you know, after you studied the map they figure out where everybody is more or less, and then they cut the mail to the different sections, and then you go get your mail out of a pigeon hole that they put it in, and you go put it up in your mail rack. Any mail that don't belong to you, you just take back up there and they have to re-sort it which it isn't too awful much, and you put it in the rack, and then you tie it. You start from the last of the route you start putting it together from the last of the route. You take the last letters out of the box and put them down and you take the next one from the last and you work backwards putting the mail up, so when you get through you're at the beginning.

LaVOY:  Oh, I see.

BARKLEY: So, when you start to go down the list you're going from the beginning to the bottom, see, to the last, and you tie it up in bundles and put it in your car and you put your parcel post whatever you got, you know, parcels in your back seat, then you start down the road delivering it, your salary's based on the miles you travel, the amount of boxes you have, and the volume of mail you have. See, you can have a lot of boxes but no mail, but you can have a lot of mail with few boxes, so those three things take into consideration the amount of time it takes. [End of tape 2]

LaVOY: Okay.

BARKLEY: Those three things determine the amount of time and everything that it takes to, you get your money, what you're paid, and how much you worked. Now, you might work nine hours a day is what you can work, but you might be able to do it in eight hours. They always give you plenty of time to do it, and that's how your wages are determined.

LaVOY:  Well, now, when you started on your mail route here, what time did you leave in the morning?

BARKLEY: Well, I'd go to work at eight o'clock in the morning of course, and then we were supposed to be out of there somewhere around ten thirty to go out on your route. As I say, I had everything this side of 395 going south up to and including Alcorn Road over to the Sheckier Cutoff and everything over to the highway and along there back of town. It was seventy-five, seventy-six miles, and I'd usually leave around ten thirty, and I'd be back in the office by about two thirty in the afternoon and put up my mail in the afternoon and go on home 'cause when I was done, I was done. I didn't have anything else to do. I couldn't do anything else. I had to go, and I wasn't about to set around there 'cause the public see me settin' in there not doin' nothin' (laughing), you know, so I'd go home.

LaVOY:  Now, what do you mean, "put up your mail"?

BARKLEY: Put up the mail that was worked after I had left. You see, they kept working all the time. We would get the first-class mail and the newspapers for that day. That was the necessary things. The first-class mail and the newspapers. When you got a newspaper coming, you're going to miss it if it's not there, and you're going to wonder why it's not there. So we always tried to have newspapers and the first-class mail. They don't care about doing the junk mail and that stuff.

LaVOY:  Well, now, the question that I'm curious about is you pick up mail out of everybody's boxes.

BARKLEY: On the route?

LaVOY:  Yes.

BARKLEY: Yeah, if they have mail to mail, yes.

LaVOY:  And then do you just turn that in in a bulk?

BARKLEY: Well, it used to be you'd have to take it in and sort it and face it. What you'd call "facing it." Put all the letters the same so they could run it through the cancelling machine, and then you had to sort out Fallon mail and out-of-town mail, and the out-of-town mail was the most important 'cause they could work the local mail anytime, but when it became postal service and they got all this computerized stuff and all this stuff, well now everything goes to Reno unless you take it in the post office and put it in the local drop box, but if the carrier picks it up it all goes to Reno. That's why you see on your mail today that the cancellation mark is in Reno when you mailed it in Fallon and it's going to Fallon, it still got the Reno post mark on it. But if you take it into town, you want it delivered in town, you take it down and drop it in the local box, then it don't go to Reno. That is it shouldn't go to Reno. It should be handled right here at the local office 'cause there no necessary sending Fallon mail to Reno, but they say they can handle it faster by sending it to Reno and back the next day than they can take the time to sort.

LaVOY: What time does the mail normally go out from here?

BARKLEY: I don't know anymore. I think it used to be at four thirty or something like that in the afternoon. Five o'clock that it would have to leave.

LaVOY: To get postmarked for the next day. In Reno.

BARKLEY: Yeah, whenever it goes out it goes to Reno, and then they postmark it for the next day.

LaVOY: What is the deepest snow that you ever traveled your route in?

BARKLEY: Oh, about four inches of snow is all I ever had to contend with. Once in a while I'd put my chains on, but not very often.

LaVOY: Well, did you ever run into any emergencies at any of the homes where you were delivering mail?

BARKLEY: I never run into any emergencies, but I had a couple of things that . . . now like Charlie Frey, Sr., Judy's husband, once in a while I'd pull in here, he'd be standing out at the mailbox. Well, I'd pull up to the mailbox and turn the car off because I knew he was going to talk.  (laughing) If Charlie wanted to visit awhile, then I enjoyed it.

LaVOY: Well, I just wanted to know if you came across any emergencies throughout your years of delivering the mail.

BARKLEY: I never had any emergencies. Nobody ever was in trouble or anything. I never had any experience there.

LaVOY: Well, how many years now did you tell me that you put in on this route?

BARKLEY: Let's see, I think I worked on the route, I went to work on the route in 1963, and I retired in 1980. That's the length of time I carried the rural route.

LaVOY: Now were you living in Fallon at this point in time?

BARKLEY: Yup. I was living at 145 North Russell Street.

LaVOY: And then when did you decided to buy your property in the country?

BARKLEY: Well, when I retired, Harriet thought that I oughta have something to do, so we had went to Sweden that year, and she was thinking about this all the time, so when we came home we was talking to Mike Berney one day, and she said to Mike, "What? You haven't found me a piece of property yet?" So Mike, good Mike, he took one whole day and traveled all over this valley until we come into this piece of property. Well, it looks like something the devil walked off from. There was trash, junk of all description on this place. As near as I can understand, this place was homesteaded in 1919 or thereabouts, and I don't believe that they ever hauled anything to the dump 'cause we dug up old bed springs, automobile tires, everything in the world. I imagine that we must have made fifty trips to the dump with pickup and trailer to get rid of the junk that was on this place, and then, of course, there was a little hill back here in the depression, so I got Curly Eckert in here with his Cat [Caterpillar], and we filled that up and knocked some trees down that was around here and leveled this place up, and I used the old house for a storage. There was one piece of it that was left. I tore most of it down. It was one piece of it left that I kept it to put stuff in while I was building the house. It took me two years to build the garage, and then it took me two years to build this house after we moved out here.

LaVOY: Now, this is what type of a home?

BARKLEY: This is a passive solar house, and what that is is one house inside of another one. You've got two walls on the north side, and you've got two walls on the south side. This sun room we're sitting in is the heating unit for the house. That's what it's supposed to be, although you can see what we do with it. Well then, it is pretty nice. There's no heat out here, and I don't think we're uncomfortable.

LaVOY:  No, it's very pleasant. Did you get plans from the architect for the house?

BARKLEY: Harriet and I drew the plans. We done everything on this house. We done it all. The only thing that we didn't do was I didn't do any of the concrete work, and I didn't hang the sheet rock. The sheet rock is heavy, and you gotta know what you're doing when you're putting in concrete, too, so I didn't want to mess with those things, but all the rest of the stuff in this house I did. I done the wiring.                I done the plumbing. I laid all the flooring. Everything. We had a sheet rocker that put the sheet rock up and textured the walls and that was it.

LaVOY: Well, it is a beautiful home, and you have done a glorious job with it. Tell me, since you have built this home here, you have returned to Sweden how many times?

BARKLEY: I think I've only went back once since we built the house.

LaVOY: And that's when the whole family went on a cruise?

BARKLEY: We went on a cruise up the west coast of Norway all the way to Kirkenest which is the furthest northern point in Norway. From there we took a hydroplane ship and went across the Mermansk to Russia which was the most, oh, it's a horrible place to be as far as I'm concerned. There's nothing there that would draw me back. It's the only port of water that Russia's got on the north side that they could get out in the wintertime, and the shoreline and around is got a lot of sunken ships and stuff in, and they're just a sittin' there. The bow may be up out of the water. The fantail may be out of the water, but they're just laying in the water rusting away and deteriorating. It's a horrible place to look at. We went into the hotel. That's where we had our dinner, and it was a relatively new hotel. I think it was five years old, and the front door was a piece of sheet metal on hinges with a screen door spring on it. You know, that type of deal, and you opened the door and walked out and let go of it, that sheet metal banged the side of the building and it rattled. It was a nice looking building, but it didn't have a door. They didn't have a front door in it, and they didn't have any furniture, a lounge in the lobby. They had a wide window sill people would sit on and wooden benches. And the houses there, they'd build them, and they never painted them, and they were built after the War [World War II], and there's no plumbing in them.

LaVOY:  Even at this stage?

BARKLEY: Even at this stage, and the plumbing in that hotel was exposed.

LaVOY:  Amazing.

BARKLEY: You couldn't hardly go into the restroom.

LaVOY:  Amazing. Well, it seems to me that you were very happy to return to Fallon.

BARKLEY: Oh, yeah, from that trip, although I sure did like that trip up the coast of Norway. That was nice.

LaVOY:  And having your two sons with you made it particularly nice.

BARKLEY: Yeah, I had my two sons and the one's wife and Harriet and I. I think there was twenty-two of us all together.

LaVOY:  All relatives.

BARKLEY: Uh, there was either twenty relatives and two guests, or there was twenty-two relatives and two guests, and the two guests was George and Millie Pomeroy. They went with us, and that was a wonderful trip, and I'm sure that George and Millie enjoyed that trip.

LaVOY:  Well, now that Harriet's father and stepmother have passed away, and she doesn't have as many reasons to return to Sweden as she had before, you and she have sort of changed your lifestyle. Could you tell me about that?

BARKLEY: Well, I don't know just exactly what kind of a lifestyle you want me to tell you about, but my lifestyle at the time we got that was in Fallon, and her folks, she'd go back every couple of years, and that was good. You know, family's family. You still have to keep track, but I've never liked cold weather, and I've always liked to be like the birds when the fall comes, go south. Now we can go south, and, by golly, we go south. (laughing)

LaVOY:  Now, where did you buy your home in Arizona?

BARKLEY: We bought it in Mesa. Out at the edge of Mesa in the northeastern part of the city. There's no highrises there.   It's all single-unit homes, and we bought in a retirement center type. You have to be fifty-five years old or older to live in there. At least, one of you do. If you're married, and one of you are fifty and the othern's fifty-five, that's all right, but you can't both be fifty. At least one of you have to be fifty-five to be able to live in that area because they don't want any children in there, and there's parts of it that they won't let you have a dog in. Now where Harriet and I are, we can have a dog. See, we have two places down there, which I wish we only had one, but the other place you can't have a dog. You can't have a pet. Nice to go down there, though. Like now, it's about seventy-five degrees down there in the daytime and forty-five here, and that's quite a bit of difference.

LaVOY:  Now, your other place, is it in Mesa, too?

BARKLEY: It's in Mesa, too. It's about a block and a half apart. We just happened to be driving down the street, we bought the one, living in it, and then we was driving down the street and we seen this for-sale sign on this house, and uh-h-h, looks like a pretty good house. The sign said, "By appointment only," so we got a hold of the lady, and she give us an appointment, went over and looked at it, and soon as we walked in the house, it reminded us of this house because of the big living, and actually I think that living room is bigger than this one, and I think that's pretty good size.

LaVOY:  So, you go down usually when?

BARKLEY: We usually try to go down about the first, fifteenth of October. Come back between the first and fifteenth of April.

LaVOY:  Well, your friends here in Fallon miss you while you're gone, but we know that you're enjoying the warm weather down there. I would like to regress and ask one thing that you mentioned that you'd forgotten to tell me about your years in Frenchman’s Station about a plane landing on the highway. As a last little remark would you tell me about that?

BARKLEY: When we first went out there. We had no indoor plumbing. We had a Chic Sales out in the backyard, so I was out in the Chic Sales with the door flung wide open, and I looked off to the north and I seen this Navy plane, and I knew he was too low to get over the mountain, and I thought to myself, "I don't want to see somebody crash here." Well, this plane made a big circle and came right down and lit on the highway right in front of the station, and well, he set his wheels right in front of the station, but by the time he stopped he was out in the middle of the flat on the highway about half a mile away. Well, I had an old Model A Ford truck there, and I went down with the truck. Couldn't have that airplane sitting on that highway, and I went down there with this truck, and the pilot was crawling out of the cockpit, and I asked what had happened, and he said he'd run out of gasoline. He didn't have any more fuel. I said, "Well, I'll pull you off of here, back up at the station with the truck," and he said, "Well, you can't pull this thing with that truck." I said, "You keep the airplane on the road, and I'll pull it with the truck." I hooked on to the tailhook, and I took him down the road.

LaVOY: Backwards?

BARKLEY: Backwards. All he had to do was keep the wheels on the pavement. He only had about eighteen inches of clearance on either side of the thing, and if it'd went off, he'd of been there because of the size of the plane it'd probably sunk in the shoulder of the road, and I got him back up on the apron of the station. He was all right. The airplane was all right, and I went in and I called the Navy base. I told them, "I got one of your airplanes that's down out here. The airplane's all right. The pilot's all right. All's you gotta do is send somebody out here to get it." In about thirty-five minutes or forty minutes here was an ambulance, the fire trucks, and all the security and everybody out there. And I asked them, "What in the hell did you send all these people out here for? All you needed was a command car to come out and get this pilot (laughing) With the airplane it's all right. Nobody's gonna bother that airplane." I had a Doberman dog that was tied to a chain around there. I says, "Nobody'll bother that airplane." They had to have a guard out that night, and the next morning they came out with about fifty, sixty gallons of gasoline and poured it in that thing, and he took off from the highway right there and flew it back to the base.

LaVOY:  How did they stop the traffic?

BARKLEY: They put a car up on the highway about a mile in front of the plane, and, of course, in the back, we could just stand right there. They had it settin' in the front of the station, right there in the highway in the front of the station, and, of course, when he took it down the highway, cars couldn't catch-him anyway, so all they had to do was hold the traffic back up on the hill. Heck, they wouldn't had to hold more than one car for maybe a half a minute.

LaVOY:  (laughing)

BARKLEY: That was a nice piece of my experience at Frenchman's Station. I enjoyed that.

LaVOY:  Was that written up in the paper?

BARKLEY: I don't think it was ever acknowledged by the Navy base that they had a plane down out there.

LaVOY:  Well, that is very, very interesting.

BARKLEY: Then we had two planes collide out there one day over the target. See, the Frenchman's Station had a Navy target on it, and we had two collide out there one day, and one went down and the other got back, but the pilots were all right.

LaVOY:  Did you see the collision?

BARKLEY: No, I didn't. They come awheeling in there with this pilot. He was white as a sheet. I poured him a big stiff drink. I says, "Here, drink this. (laughing) Maybe it'll make you feel a little better." (laughing)

LaVOY: (laughing) Well, after losing as expensive of a plane as he was flying, I imagine he needed something to help him along. Now, can you think of anything else that we may have overlooked in all of our discussions?

BARKLEY: Well, I don't know of anything. I could of probably give you a little more information if I'd of known just exactly what I was going to do. It's kind of hard to remember everything.

LaVOY:  Well, of course it is. Of course it is, but I think we have covered your life very well, and on behalf of the Churchill County Museum Oral History Project, I want to thank you for all of the time that you have taken, and I do apologize for having to record one tape all over again, but that's the way it goes. Thank you, Bill.

BARKLEY: Well, that's the way it is. That's just the way it is, and thank you.

Original Format

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1:01:47, 1:01:13, 22:32

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Barkley, Crawford Wallace tape 1 of 3.mp3
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Crawford Wallace (Bill) Barkley Oral History Transcript.docx


Churchill County Museum Association, “Crawford Wallace "Bill" Barkley Oral History,” Churchill County Museum Digital Archive: Fallon, Nevada, accessed July 1, 2022,