Ralph Ratti Oral History

Dublin Core


Ralph Ratti Oral History


Ralph Ratti Oral History


Churchill County Museum Association


Churchill County Museum Association


July 28, 1996


Analog Cassette Tape, .docx file, Mp3 Audio



Oral History Item Type Metadata


Eleanor Ahern


Ralph Ratti


553 South Maine Street, Fallon, NV


Churchill County Oral History Project

an interview with


Fallon, Nevada

conducted by


July 28, 1996


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

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


Ralph Ratti's father, Julios, was affectionately known in Churchill County as the "Mayor of Bango." Ralph's recollections of his boyhood, including his life while living in Bango explains why the local citizens recognized his father in that role.

Ralph's comments are enlightening about life "working on the railroad" and living with the necessary requirements and benefits of railroad life. At times, living was primitive, but enjoyable and all of the Ratti children progressed through the school system before and after the schools were consolidated into the "Consolidated B" school system.

Ralph's memoirs reflect a great deal of modesty regarding his activities as a mature adult. He has not dwelled on his various activities in business and those considered "extra curricular." For the benefit of the reader, we are including a summary of his contribution to the community in an Addendum.

Interview with Ralph Ratti

AHERN: This is Eleanor Ahern of the Churchill County Museum Oral Project interviewing Ralph Ratti at the Churchill County Library at 553 South Maine Street. The date is Sunday, July 28, 1996. The time is 2:30 P.M. Good afternoon, Mr. Ratti. For the record, would you please give us your full name?

RATTI:   It's Ralph Ratti.

AHERN: Do you have a middle name?

RATTI:   I have none. There was a couple but not on my birth certificate.

AHERN: (laughing) Where were you born?

RATTI:   I was born right here in Fallon. I think it was Dr. Wilson where he had a little hospital deal up on A Street.

AHERN: Which Dr. Wilson [Dr. H. K. Wilson]? What was his first name?

RATTI:   It's the only one I know. I don't remember his first name. I'd have to ask my older sisters if they could remember. I wasn't too interested in the doctor's name. (laughing)

AHERN: (laughing) Where in Fallon were you born?

RATTI:   It was up on A Street. The building's still there. It's kind of a little doctors' hospital. He had two or three nurses working there. Actually it was like a maternity hospital more than anything, and it was on A Street, can’t remember the street address but it’s between East Park- No, It’s West Park…

AHERN: Is the building still standing?

RATTI:   The building's still standing as far as I can remember with what Mom and Dad were always telling me that's where it was. But it’s between East Street and…

AHERN: That’s okay. Is it an empty building?

RATTI:   No, it's a house. Somebody's living in it now.

AHERN: Have you always lived in Fallon?

RATTI:   I lived in the valley all my life except I spent about a year working out in Gabbs, then I was in the service, but I've always been in Churchill County in the valley.

AHERN: When you say "the valley”…

RATTI:   What I consider the valley is Lahontan Dam to the end of Stillwater and would include Hazen, too, because it's actually in the valley. Born and raised, we lived at Bango which is just up by Lahontan Dam. I lived there with the folks until I was out of high school.

AHERN: Have your parents always lived in Fallon?

RATTI:   No, my mom and dad came here in 1929. My dad worked for the Southern Pacific Railroad, but it wasn't their first crack at Churchill County. My mom and dad met in LA [Los Angeles] and they got married. Then Dad went to work for the railroad, and he moved to this country here. Then he brought Mom up, and they worked their way all the way across the state of Nevada over to the edge of Salt Lake then back down towards the Reno area. They worked down below Hawthorne at Basalt. There used to be a railroad section down there.

AHERN: Was Basalt like a . .

RATTI:   That was a railroad station.

AHERN: In Nevada?

RATTI:   It's in Nevada. Uh-huh.

AHERN: Where were your parents originally from?

RATTI:   My dad was born in Europe. He's Italian, but my grandparents at that time were working for a kind of a construction company up in France at the time my dad was born. So my dad was born in France. My mother was born in San Fernando [California] area.

AHERN: Did your father learn his trade from his father?

RATTI:   No. The way it worked, my granddad came to the United States, and he went back and brought my uncle Ralph to the United States. Uncle Ralph was a kid, and this is before World War I. Then my granddad left Uncle Ralph here and went back to Italy to bring my dad back. When they got back, Uncle Ralph was gone. (laughing)

AHERN: How old was your uncle Ralph?

RATTI:   He was probably about sixteen, seventeen years old at this time.

AHERN: When your grandfather left him, did he leave him with relatives?

RATTI:   He left him with a job. They were working for the railroad. He left him with a job, and when he came back Uncle Ralph and some of the other guys had taken a hand-car and were riding down into Reno, and they met a train coming up the hill. So they jumped off the car. The car ran into the train, and they figured they were in trouble, so they all just left. (laughing) So when my granddad and my dad got here, there was no Uncle Ralph and no job. So then they had to find jobs, but they went back to work for the railroads.

AHERN: Do you recall how old your father was when your grandfather brought him over?

RATTI:   My dad was born 1899, and it was about a year before the United States got into World War I, so my dad had to be somewhere in the neighborhood of sixteen, seventeen years old. They weren't too old when they came over. They worked men's jobs.

AHERN: Earlier you mentioned that your grandfather came over Did he ever bring his wife?

RATTI:   He never did get to. After he was over the second time with my dad and my uncle, he went back to get my other uncle, and this was at the time when the Fascists had taken over, and they wouldn't let him out of Europe. They wouldn't let him leave again, so, consequently, my grandparents died at the hands of the Fascists in World War II. My dad's two sisters had made it to the United States because they had married and their families came over. So I still have an uncle alive in Italy.

AHERN: When your dad started working in Reno, since there was no job waiting, do you recall what kind of job he did eventually find?

RATTI:   Well, I think they knew people on the railroad, so they got back on the railroad jobs. As far as I know my dad when he was in Nevada, always worked for the railroads. Then he went into the service in World War I. They sent him to Hawaii, and they worked in Hawaii and then they came back. They put him at Fort Lewis, Washington. He was at Fort Bliss, Texas, and then got out and went to the LA area. When he went to the LA area, he was working in a restaurant as a cook, but he gave that up because the cooking make him break out in boils, so he gave that up and went to work for the railroads and then he started working his way north. Actually he worked a little down around Lone Pine, Big Pine in California as he worked his way all the way up.

AHERN: What type of work did he do on the railroad?

RATTI:   My dad was a section foreman. He was in charge of the crews that actually did the maintenance of the road beds and stuff.

AHERN: Did he ever talk about his time as a railroad foreman here in Nevada? Any specific incidents happening?

RATTI:   All I can remember is him and Mom talking about when they were up by the lake.

AHERN: Which lake?

RATTI:   The Great Salt Lake. About having the kids up there, and they'd have to tie them up so they wouldn't end up out in the lake. The station site there, that was called Lakeside, was right on the lake, and they would tie the kids up because they were just like stair steps. There were one, two, three, four, five of them. They were all born about a year apart. Every one of them. They'd tie them up and keep them out of trouble. Keep them from falling in the lake. I remember my mom saying that when she first came up here, my dad was at that time stationed at Ocala.

AHERN: Ocala?

RATTI:   I don't know whether it's actually in Churchill County or whether it's in Pershing County. It's a railroad section. You've been from here to Lovelock? [Ed. Note: Churchill County.]


RATTI:   You know where you cross the railroad tracks up there?


RATTI:   Okay, about a mile down the road directly to the east is where the section used to be. Mom and my oldest sister came and they rode the train up to get there and Dad was waiting for her when she got there. The buildings had no floors in them. Just built out of ties, and she was just heartbroken, and she was crying 'cause, you know (laughing), she come from the city to the middle of nowhere. But that's one incident they told me about. Then they moved up and down the [rail]road.

AHERN: Where was your mother from?

RATTI:   San Fernando, California.

AHERN: Do you recall how your parents met?

RATTI:   I don't know how. My mom and dad only knew each other for two weeks before they got married.


RATTI:   It was a whirlwind courtship, and they stayed together all that time. My dad died in 1969. They didn't quite make it to the fiftieth wedding anniversary, but they were always together, and my mother just died two years ago. She was ninety when she died.

AHERN: Could you tell me a little bit about your mother's background?

RATTI:   Okay. My mother's lineage goes back to the first Spanish governors in California.

AHERN: What was your mother's maiden name?

RATTI:   Ruiz which is actually a French name for a Spanish person. (laughing)

AHERN: She grew up in California?

RATTI:   Yeah, in the San Fernando Valley area.

AHERN: You said her lineage goes back…

RATTI:   To supposedly the first Spanish governors in California.

AHERN: When your parents married, did they marry in California?

RATTI:   They were married in California.

AHERN: And then they came up?

RATTI:   And then they came up through here. Right.

AHERN: Did she ever comment on the difference of the states from California?

RATTI:   Well, I think Mom was really disappointed coming from San Fernando Valley because her grandparents had a ranch and farm area, and then they came up here, and like I said, the locale up here is just nothing but desert. But after she moved with Dad and they'd been moving around, she would never go back.

AHERN: Did the railroad always provide free housing?

RATTI:   For them, yes. They always had free housing until they started doing away with the section crews, and then they put the work crews into trailers. Mom and Dad owned a place up here on the Carson Highway that they'd built, and Dad did that for the last three or four years he worked for the railroad. Then he retired.

AHERN: You mentioned there were five children?

RATTI:   There's eight of us kids. Four boys and four girls. They're all alive.

AHERN: Where in between the four boys and four girls do you fall?

RATTI:   I'm number six. My mom and dad had the first five, then there was nine years difference between the sister that's older than I am and me, and then there's four years between my kid brother and I, and there's about nine years difference between my kid sister and I.

AHERN: Do you recall moving every time your dad had a change in job up and down the railroad?

RATTI:   Well, we never moved. They moved before. I was born here. They came here in 1929. What they did was, they moved from one crew to another crew. They wanted to get some place permanent so they got Bango, and Dad stayed there, and that's where we stayed. We never moved again. I was born in 1936, so they'd been here about seven years before I was born.

AHERN: Prior to your being born, when they moved here, they already had their family started?

RATTI:   They had, yeah.

AHERN: Do you recall how many children were with them when they were moving to different sections?

RATTI:   Well, when Mom got here, they had Olga, and then Reno- was it Reno or Ulysses was born right out here in this area north of town, too. As they moved along they kept having the kids. They worked at Elko. They worked at Lakeside. They just moved until they got this permanent job.

AHERN: Did your mother ever talk about the hardship of moving around with family?

RATTI:   Mom never complained about it. My mom didn't really complain about anything. All I remember is Momma was always there. Up in the morning. She had all the kids to feed, get Dad off to work. She cooked three meals a day, washed, took care of us. When they came to Bango, there was no electricity. I can remember we never had electricity at Bango. The only time I saw electricity was when we came to town or went to Hazen or some place. We had coal oil lights. I can't even read by a coal oil lamp now. The wife's got them in case the power goes off, and we light them. I can't even see by them. I go get the Coleman lanterns and light them. But that’s all we had for lighting was kerosene lanterns. We had wood and coal heat in the house. At Bango the railroad company used to bring a tank car in for our drinking water every month. We'd dump half of it into the cistern and use that up and dump the other half then the railroad would take the car away and bring it back. Once a year they used to bring us a refrigerator car full of ice. There was an icehouse. Dad and the crew'd take the whole day off. They'd move all the sawdust. They'd put all the ice back in there and cover it all back up. In the summertimes they'd put the watermelons down in there. Oh, they were cold. They used to have what they called the coal house, and they'd bring a gondola load of coal once a year, and they'd dump that and they'd put that in there so they'd have coal for the heat in the winter.

AHERN: Did the ice and coal actually last that long?

RATTI:   Yeah. In the ice house. The ice house was dug down into the ground. It was all built out of railroad ties, and then it had probably anywhere from a foot and a half, two foot of dirt, plus stone on the outside of it, and then everything was buried in the sawdust, and the ice would last. It was cool in there all the time. The coal would last all winter. It takes a lot of burning to burn up that much coal. [laughs]

AHERN: Could you name off your brothers and sisters?

RATTI:   My oldest sister's name is Olga. Her married name is Olga Modrynzki. And then there was Ulysses Ratti, and then there was Linda. Her married name is Linda Pena, and there's Reno Ratti, and then Stella. Stella Lisanti is her married name. And there's me, and then there's my kid brother, Robert Ratti, and then my kid sister, Nancy, and her married name is Nancy Walker.

AHERN: There are two unusual names here. Reno and Ulysses. Do you recall why those names were taken?

RATTI:   Ulysses is actually named after my dad. My dad changed his name. His name used to be Ulysses. I've got his old folded up birth certificate, and it was Ulysses, and that's what my oldest brother's name is. Actually his name is Ulysses Pius which is like the Pope. And then Reno just happened to be named Reno because we were in this area.

AHERN: When you left Bango, were there a lot of families in that area?

RATTI:   Okay, Bango is a section itself. There was very few families. Most of the guys that worked for Dad were single guys. Once in a while we'd get a family, but very seldom. I remember there was a Moreno family. Their kids were the same age as I was. They were an Indian family, and they came from this area, too. Then about two miles away, well, just about every direction you wanted to go two miles away was like to Lahontan Dam, and there was about four or five families at Lahontan Dam because in those days they had the power crews and maintenance crews living right at Lahontan Dam at the houses up there. Down by the highway was the Solaeguis, the Moris, the Matteuccis. It was quite an Italian community up in there. The Cadets. It was five miles into Hazen, and we knew everybody in Hazen in those days besides the railroad. Hazen was mainly a railroad town. There used to be a roundhouse there, and they used to change engines there. They had trains that came to Fallon, trains that went down to Mina, on down to Tonopah, and on down. That was the terminal like the division point for different areas there, and there was a lot of people at Hazen there, too. Then we had all the people up on Swingle Bench. We knew most everybody in the area because in those days a lot of things happened that don't happen now. I can remember Andy Anderson. He lived across the highway down there by Matteucci. They had kinda like a barn raising one day for him, so everybody showed up to start building it for him. Then they'd have parties afterwards. I can remember going down to Hazen. They'd have parties at the time. The whole area would gather. You don't see those things anymore. They were community parties. People don't have time or people don't care. I don't know what it is anymore. But things like that used to happen. The same thing in the district. Dad loved to garden. I’m bouncing a little bit here, but like during World War II a lot of things were scarce. We used to raise hundreds of chickens. Dad had rabbits and chickens and great big gardens, and Mom used to can. From the first of August till the end of September we were canning all the time. Had a big cellar where we stored everything. Dad used to get a pig or something like that from one of the ranchers, and we'd raise it. They'd come over and help him butcher it. You know, people did things in those days we just don't seem to do anymore.

AHERN: You mentioned your dad raising a lot of chickens. Were they all for your family or to sell?

RATTI:   No, they were for our family. We had chickens for the eggs and the chicken for the meat. Some of the guys working for Dad, they'd get chicken for them to eat, too, and he had rabbits. He used to raise rabbits. Poor man's chicken. (laughing) We had those. Like I said, he had tremendous gardens.

AHERN: Did you have any livestock?

RATTI:   No. Well, one year we raised sheep. Dad got some bummer sheep and raised them up. Took them down and got them butchered, but nobody would eat them. Not even Dad would eat them because they were all our friends. (laughing) Like I said pigs and that one thing with the sheep.

AHERN: In essence, you were just about self-supporting except for essential things, flour.

RATTI:   Yeah.

AHERN: Did you go to one of the other ranches for milk?

RATTI:   They used to go to Hazen quite regular and get the stuff at the Hazen store. We came to town, Fallon, on Saturdays .We came to town maybe once a week. That was it. When we weren't going to the country schools, when they put us into the city schools, we were in town everyday on the school bus. But to come to town as a family to go to the movies or do any shopping was always on Saturday. Then every now and then Dad used to go to Reno. We'd go maybe once a month or every other month. There was a big Italian store up there and buy great big stocks of whatever he wanted. We used to keep flour in the cellar in fifty-gallon drum barrels. We had small barrels full of sugar. Everything was there so we had to have it because you didn't run around like we do nowadays. Now if we need something we run to the corner store and get it.

AHERN: How did your dad transport the family to Reno?

RATTI:   He had a car. We had a car. It was a four door. The one I remember the most was a four-door Plymouth sedan, and they had other cars, but this was the one that seem like we had before World War II until after World War II. We had that one the longest it seemed like. Things are different. The families were more family it seems to me like than they are now. My own kids I know, they go in six different directions right now.

AHERN: You mentioned that you had started school at Hazen.

RATTI:   I started school at Hazen.

AHERN: How did you get from Bango to Hazen?

RATTI:   Okay. In those days, Miss Cadet was my first-grade teacher, and she lived down past us, and she would pick me up and my sister that was older than me. I was in the first grade, Stella was in the eighth grade. They had a two-room school at Hazen, and one room had the first three or four grades and the other one had the upper grades. She used to take us back and forth every day because it was on her way to school. Went there for a year, and then Stella went to high school so the bus had to come and pick her up, so they let me go to city school. I went to city school till she graduated, and then I had to go back out to country school because the bus didn't come up there anymore. So we went for another year. My kid brother started first grade at Northam, and I went to the fifth grade at Northam-fourth or fifth. I don't know what it was. I went there at Northam, and then that year they shut that down and incorporated us all into what they called Consolidated B in those days which was the school district. So then the bus picked us up all the time, and that's how we got back and forth to school. But when we went to Northam, we used to walk, and it was about a five-mile walk from home to school. Unless Dad could come and get us, we walked.

AHERN: And from Bango to Northam School, it was in Fallon?

RATTI:   No, it was out there in the end of the valley. Do you know where Diversion Dam is?

AHERN: Um-hum.

RATTI:   When you turn and go off of the highway and go down into the valley in there, you drive past where the old school used to be. It's gone. The only thing that's left is the foundation.

AHERN: As children growing up, I imagine all of you had chores you had to do.

RATTI:   Bring the wood, chop wood, bring it in the house, help feed the animals, mow the lawns, pick the leaves out of the gravel in the flower gardens, (laughing) and that type of stuff. Yeah, we had a lot of chores to do.

AHERN: Did you mind the chores?

RATTI:   I don't know if I was any different than any other kid. Well we got to do it now. Now that I look back on it, I probably didn't mind it too much.

AHERN: In winter was there a lot to do for recreation or were you just cooped up inside?

RATTI:   Well, the winters in this country aren't that bad, so we had a lot of time outside. Once in a while we used to get quite a bit of snow, but it doesn't last long in this country here. More in the summer and spring, I can remember, we used to have another family that lived about three miles away from us, and we'd walk clear across the desert to their place. So we'd either be over at their place all day or they'd be over at our place all day. We had friends and we played. But my kid brother and I and the kid sister we all played softball, and we played football. I know my kid sister was the center on our football team (laughing) and stuff like that. We had something to do all the time.

AHERN: In the evenings, since, I assume that there was no TV, what did you do to occupy your time?

RATTI:   I remember listening to the radio. I can remember listening to old soap operas on the radio. Portia Faces Life, and we used to listen to The Green Arrow and those type of programs. Then Dad had an old radio that had a phonograph in it. They had some records. Once in a while we'd play those and listen to them. Things like that. There was something to do.

AHERN: Was your dad ever able to communicate with his family in Europe?

RATTI:   Yeah, they would write once in a while. But most of them, the majority--he had a lot of relatives in the United States. The two sisters had married and come to the United States. He had cousins that had came over. Most of them all ended up in the Bay Area. Dad's brother was here, too. Uncle Ralph was in Reno till he died. The only ones left in Europe, like I say, are distant cousins, but in the immediate family there's only one left.

AHERN: Did your family ever get together with the family here, family reunions? Did they come to Nevada, or did you ever go down to . . .

RATTI:   We used to go to the Bay Area or they'd come up here and visit. I can always remember going down to my dad's sister's house in Oakland. Seems to me like they lived on top of each other. You know how they are in cities. I can remember when you get a bunch of Italians together, they start having dinner and drinking and they start having a good time, and they get loud. I can remember Ernesta coming around telling everybody, "Sh-h-h-h. This guy over here's asleep. This guy's doing that next door. You can't do it." But whenever she came up here to our doings, man, talk about letting her hair down and raising heck! (laughing) We used to get on the train at Hazen. Dad would get a Pullman car, and then we'd go to bed. In the morning we'd wake up somewhere between Sacramento and the Bay Area. You know, rode the train down and back.

AHERN: As a railroad employee, was he able to travel free?

RATTI:   Yeah, they had passes. Passes for the family and the employees, so we could travel free.

AHERN: Was it expensive to travel by rail?

RATTI:   Well, in those days back when I was a kid, the rail was a major mover of people. There was a lot of passenger trains.

AHERN: Do you recall what the fares were like?

RATTI:   No, I don't because we never had to pay for anything. (laughing) Like my oldest sister when she married and her husband worked for the railroad, he lived over by Wells, Nevada, so I'd ride the train and spend a month with them and come back on the train. Different things like that.

AHERN: As children as you got older, did you ever do any after school jobs or anything like that?

RATTI:   I drove school bus when I was in high school.

AHERN: How old were you?

RATTI:   Sixteen. In those days we could drive school bus, so consequently, we got out of school around three o'clock. It was four-thirty, five o'clock when we'd get home. Making the run. That was one of the longest ones they had in the valley. Not counting, well, in those days, they didn't do Dixie Valley, but that was the longest one in the valley basically. I used to leave before seven in the morning, too, so there wasn't too much to do.

AHERN: What did you do with your salary you earned?

RATTI:   They didn't pay much in those days. I think I got about thirty dollars a month or something like that. Being in high school there was something to use it up on. (laughing)

AHERN: When you lived in Bango, do you recall the dam or the lake ever flooding?

RATTI:   I never remember the dam flooding. I remember my dad telling me he saw Lahontan bone dry. I think it was 1931, 1932, or something like that. The only flood I can recall is I remember the canal which feeds the Truckee River to Lahontan Dam broke above Bango one time. We were coming home on the school bus, and this is . . .

AHERN: How old were you then?

RATTI:   I'm trying to remember whether I was a freshman. I wasn't driving that year. But the bus came down. They used to go to Lahontan first and then come by and drop us off because that was on the way, and we got within a mile of home and that's as far as she could go. [End of tape 1 side A]

AHERN: This is side 2, tape 1.

RATTI: Like I said, we got within a mile of home. Dad's crewmen were sitting there, too, because the tracks were all washed out. So she left us off with my dad and the crew, and we walked home on the tracks. They were suspended in the air, and the water was running underneath them 'cause all the road bed was gone. We walked on the ties and got down home and there was water running all around the houses. It wasn't too bad where the houses were because the road bed diverted the water away from most of the houses there. They had to shut the water off at Derby Dam which is up in the Truckee Canyon, but all that water had to drain out, so it took all afternoon and all night to drain down. The next day, I remember, my kid brother and I didn't go to school. We were out walking alongside the fence and all of a sudden my brother disappeared. He'd stepped in a hole 'cause the water'd washed underneath the fence and made a hole there and he fell in, so we pulled him out of that. That's the only time I remember any kind of flooding. The water went clear down across the highway down by Moris and emptied off into their field down into the [Carson] river.

AHERN: Were there any damages to any of the houses?

RATTI:   No, not to the houses. They were pretty well protected. We had water everywhere because if it had been over the other way up further there'd been a lot of water and we would have had a lot of damage, but that's the only time I remember that being like that. [Pause] I can remember during World War II the Army had a crew stationed out on the railroad track to protect all of the bridges so in case there was any what they called Fifth Columnists in those days, saboteurs, to keep from blowing up bridges because that was the main route down to Hawthorne and on down to Tonopah where they had an Air Force base. They had the Navy ammunition dump and everything, and there was big long troop trains. I can remember troop trains going through. Couldn't believe how big the trains were for ammunition. Had five or six of those big old cab forward mallets [mallees] pushing those trains up the . . . 'cause it was a climb from Hazen to Lahontan and they'd take those all the way over there.

AHERN: When you talked about the size of the train, you said they had the cab. . .

RATTI:   They're called cab forwards. They're called mallets. What they were was you know how the cab is usually in the back of the engine and then you have the tender behind it. The cab forward, they actually turn the engine around and the cab was up at the front. They built those because the SP [Southern Pacific] used to go over the, when they went over the Sierras they have all those snow tunnels, so they put the cab forward so the engineers would have a clear view. Wouldn't get all the smoke in the cabs in those long tunnels.

AHERN: They're called mallets?

RATTI:   Well, they called them mallees, right. Mallets, m-a-l-l-e-t is the way they called [spelled] them, but everybody calls them mallees.

AHERN: Did you ever think of working for the railroad?

RATTI:   I worked for the railroad for about a year.

AHERN: Doing what?

RATTI:   Gandy dancing. Working on the road maintenance crew.

AHERN: It's called "gandy dancing"?

RATTI:   Gandy dancer.

AHERN: And that was just a nickname?

RATTI:   For a guy that works on the tracks, uh-huh.

AHERN: How did that term come about?

RATTI:   I don't know how that term came about. they just call them gandy dancers. (laughing)

AHERN: Earlier we've talked about your father coming over with your grandfather here that they had found . . . would it have been your father's cousin your grandfather had left behind.

RATTI:   He left my dad's brother.

AHERN: Oh, his brother. Did they ever catch up with him?

RATTI:   Yeah, they found him a little later. I think they found him a year or two later, but he was in the service then if I remember correctly. I can't remember for sure. (laughing) It's hard to fathom young guys, actually kids. I've got kids that age now. I still consider them kids. "Well, I'm going back to the old country. See you when I get back." (laughing) It's just hard to fathom that you would leave a sixteen, seventeen year old kid and go. But when you stop and look at a lot of the old people that did come over, a lot of those people were young. They were out on their own, and they made it. Can't do it nowadays. I don't think they could do it nowadays.

AHERN: When your mother, and father had a big garden for the family and all that, did everybody help when it was canning time?

RATTI:   Yeah, I remember all the girls helping Mom can, and then weed the gardens and picking the stuff and bringing things in. I can remember the girls helping Mom do the laundry. Like I said we didn't have power. We didn't have power until 1949. Up until that time Mom used to do everything with a scrub board, and they had those big number three tubs. I can remember in decent weather that her and the girls outside they used to wash the blankets and things and they'd sit there and wring those things out and they'd put them on a clothesline. We had a clothesline that must have been fifty, sixty foot long with about six different lines on it, and they'd hang the clothes out there, and then I remember Mom ironing clothes. We had the old flat iron. She'd put it on the stove and heat it up. It had the handle. We had some with permanent handles and some with detachable handles. Mom had several of those, and they'd iron the clothes.

AHERN: Did any of the boys help with canning?

RATTI:   I'm trying to remember whether they did or not. See, I was born in 1936, and the War started in 1941. My oldest brother left the day after Pearl Harbor, and then Reno went in about the middle of the War, so I don't remember too much of the boys helping with the canning, but I know the girls would help. Of course, at that time, everybody was getting pretty old. The older girls were getting married, too. Two of the girls married guys that were servicemen, so during the War we actually lost three or four of our kids. They got married, moved out. The boys went off to the service. Just us younger kids were at home except for the one that was, Stella, 'course she wasn't married till 1947 so she was home. [Pauses, clears throat] Like I said, we didn't have power. We got power in 1949. Up until that time I can remember we had a real icebox. I mean this was an icebox. You had to go put ice in there take a pan out and dump the water all the time. Dad came to town, and he went down to Frazzini Furniture Company. He bought Mom a new refrigerator, a new range--it was electric and wood combination cook range--and a big double tub, automatic wringer washer, and brought all of this home. Then we got power. We got lights and everything at the same time, so our life style changed. (laughing)

AHERN: The house at Bango. Was it a big house?

RATTI:   Two-story house.

AHERN: How many bedrooms?

RATTI:   It had two bedrooms upstairs, one downstairs. Dad added onto the house a couple of times, so we had an add-on. The north side of the house was used as a bedroom, and then the south side of the house he put a full length porch on the house and then closed it in. Made an office on one end of it and dining area in the other end right off the kitchen. Then inside they had a formal dining area, a formal living room. The bathroom was in there. Up until they put the bathrooms in, we had an outside one. The water, like I told you, was brought in by train car, and then you pumped it into the cistern and pump it up to a big tank, and then it was all gravity. There was one, two, three, four bunkhouses plus there was a shower house for the work crews.

AHERN: How was the water pumped in to the . .

RATTI:   Gas pump, from the cistern. And then I can't remember exactly when they came, but they came out finally, I guess it was while I was in the Army, and drilled a well out there so they didn't have to bring the tank cars in. Drilled a well up there and had good water. They just still pumped it up to the cistern tank and it was gravity feed after that.

AHERN: Do you recall a time when you ran out of water before the tank came in?

RATTI:   No, never did because as soon as they'd dump it when it was empty, they'd call and the train would pick up the car, take it to Hazen, fill it up, and bring it back.

AHERN: You didn't have to wait long?

RATTI:   Didn't have to wait long. No.

AHERN: You had mentioned that within the vicinity of your home most of your father's crew were single, did your mother cook and wash for them?

RATTI:   No, each bunkhouse had their own cook stove and stuff in it. Like I said, there was one house that had two bedrooms in it. If there was a family, they usually ended up in that. The rest of them were all bunkhouses. Well, we did end up with two that had families, and two of them were just strictly for men. Then in World War II when we had so many American men off to the War is when they started bringing the Mexican Nationals in. I can't remember the first ones that came. I remember I was out there with Dad, and there was a train stopped, and they put off the crew. The train left and here's all these guys straight from Mexico. Had their serapes throwed over their shoulders and they had their sombreros and they had the open-toed zapatas, you know, like we call thongs [flip-flops] now. They left them with bedrolls. They gave them provisions to start them off with, and Dad took them down and put them in the bunkhouse.

AHERN: What did you call their open-toed sandals?

RATTI:   Zapatas.

AHERN: Did any of the Mexican Nationals speak English?

RATTI:   No. In fact, I remember on paydays Dad would bring them to town. They'd go to the bank. He'd cash their pay checks and convert their money to send to Mexico. They'd keep out enough money to buy their food and whatever they needed, and the rest of it all went home. In those days they were supposed to be here just for six months, and then they'd bring in another crew. I remember we had an Italian fellow that came in and went to work for my dad, and his family was all in Italy. He would do the same thing. Dad'd take him to town on paydays. He'd buy all his provisions for what he needed to carry him through to the next payday and he sent everything back home to his wife and kids. As far as I know they never made it to the States. He died in the United States. I can remember later after World War II when I was working on the railroad we went into Hazen one day and told my dad, I says, "What's all these cars? " There were these cars that were not supposed to be where they were at.

AHERN: You're talking about train cars?

RATTI:   No, I'm talking about cars. It was the Immigration Service, and they were picking up illegals. They took one right off our crew. Came right over. When they pulled in, they just come around us, took one by the . . . He made it back to the States two or three times. Always ended working for my dad. (laughing) He finally married a girl from the United States, so the next time they couldn't really send him back right away. I don't even know whatever became of him after that. I can remember the Immigration rounding up the illegals and sending them back. That only happened every now and then.

AHERN: When the Mexican Nationals crew came up, who picked them? A representative from the railroad?

RATTI:   The railroad did, and then they sent them out to the jobs.

AHERN: These Mexican Nationals, what distinguished them from the illegals?

RATTI:   Well, they were hired. Or… how should I say this? Their government picked them to go do this. However they did it in those days, they were legal. In other words, they had papers, they had to have papers. I don't know exactly how they did it in Mexico whether the Mexican government says, "Okay, we need somebody to go to work," and they'd say, "Okay, you go here." But the SP wasn't the only one that was hiring them, too, because there was a shortage of manpower.

AHERN: Were the men used for manual labor?

RATTI:   They were track crews working maintenance

AHERN: When your dad worked on railroads, were there quite a few accidents, not at all?

RATTI:   Oh, there was a few train wrecks. There was a big one at McCarran Hill which is, you know where, when you're going to Reno, you know where the power plant [Tracy] is? Okay, after you go past the power plant and you start going up the hill, well, that's what's called McCarran Hill because McCarran Ranch is down there. One year they had a big train wreck there, and I can't remember what all was on it. Dad said there was cars, Chevrolets and that stuff in there. They worked for a week on that train wreck cleaning it up, and there was all kinds of food. Canned goods, cereals, and all that kind of stuff, and everyday they'd come home with the cars full because they could take that stuff because it was all being paid for by insurance to the railroads. Just let the guys take the stuff. But they couldn't get any cars because that was different, but I can remember several big train wrecks like that. They always ended up getting a lot of food that way, and they'd just put it in the cellars. Everybody, all the work crew, everybody would come back with all kinds of stuff. But there was that big one there. I guess that was about the biggest one. Like I say it took them a week to clean it up. There was other wrecks but usually they didn't call Dad's crew out unless they really needed them because they had all the crews in Reno and all up and down the line. But they had to get that one going. They called in all the extra crews. Matter of fact they drove their own cars to go up there.

AHERN: How many people did your dad's crew consist of?

RATTI:   During the War he probably had… eight to ten guys, and during the Depression they had split crews. One crew would work a couple of days, and then another crew work a couple of days. They were trying to keep people working. They probably had three or four people then. Then after the War and everything was over and getting into the fifties, they had about three to four men on each crew. Depending upon the job sites.

AHERN: Do you recall your parents talking about the Depression era? If it really affected them and the people here in Fallon?

PATTI:   I don't think anybody in the Fallon area really suffered during the Depression. I can remember Mom and Dad saying they never had any problems. Like I said, they had the big gardens and things like that and then people in those days helped each other. I think a lot of the farmers helped each other because the farmers were kind of self-sufficient. They had cows and things like that. I can remember Dad had the old railroad ties. The farmers would need them for their fences so they'd swap out. You know, give you half a beef or something. I can remember having salt pork in the cellar when they'd butcher the pork. We had no refrigeration so it was all packed in barrels of salt.

AHERN: How about financially, was he secure? Did they talk when money was tight?

RATTI:   I never remember my dad having money problems. I'm quite sure during World War II you couldn't do nothing anyway. You had to have the ration stamps and stuff like that. 'Course they got stamps for each member of the family, too. Matter of fact I think we found some. We were going through some papers after my mom died. I think we found a couple of old ration books. I think one was in my name. I don't where they're at now, whether my sister got them or what. I don't remember Mom and Dad really doing without, although I know with that many kids they had to do without some things, but they lived comfortable. They never had any major sicknesses or anything except for a car wreck. They had a car wreck in 1947 at Vista. Vista is right there this side of Sparks. Dad had been into Reno and Sparks at a union meeting, and then as we were coming home in the morning, and somebody had stole a car. There was a bar what they called the Vista Bar. You know when you just get out of the canyon going right in there where that first turnoff is [Greg Street exit]. Well, there used to be a bar down there. A guy stole a car there and was speeding, and I can remember him coming out from behind the other car hitting our car head on. Mom got beat up pretty bad. She had both her legs fractured and nearly all her ribs broken, her forehead caved in. Dad had some broken ribs out of it. My kid brother was laying in the seat, and he went out the passenger front window, landed twenty-five yards from the car and my kid sister was a little kid. She just got some scratches on her head, but Mom was the one took the brunt of it all. Took her a long time, almost a year, before she was back on her feet. That's the only time I can remember Mom really being down. My dad died from cancer, but that was the only time I can remember really being hurt bad, but it'll set anybody back. They kept Mom in the hospital for quite a long, long time, and then they brought her home. We had the bed rigged up so she could pull things to get up. Then my older sisters were home to help take care of her.

AHERN: How old were you when this accident happened?

RATTI:   1947. I was eleven. This happened Mother's Day morning.

AHERN: Because your sisters were older, then your family didn't miss your mother for chores like cooking.

RATTI:   No, because we had somebody else who could help out. At that time Stella was about eighteen, nineteen. Olga came home to help out. Linda and them were in the area, too, somewhere so most everybody was around somewhere.

AHERN: You mentioned that the family would come into Fallon on Saturdays. Was that like a fun day?

RATTI:   Yeah, we used to get to go to the show. They'd come in and go shopping. In those days it was Kent's. Go shopping at Kent's. Dad would go to Kent's and other things. We'd go to the afternoon movies or something and go home. Or if we stayed over late we'd go to the evening movie or something.

AHERN: That's basically an all-day trip?

RATTI:   Yeah. It would be a day to be in town and do things. My dad belonged to the American Legion. In those days the American Legion used to put on a rodeo. I think it was the Fourth of July celebration and then the fireworks and stuff like that. I can remember other things going on. In those days we used to have a rodeo in town on Memorial [Day] weekend and Fourth of July weekend and also on Labor Day weekend. It was different groups that put them on, and it was always fun in town. I can remember coming to town for having watermelon busts. Go down to Oats Park and there'd be big trucks there full of watermelons, and everybody eating all the watermelon they could eat. We went to Fernley for Fourth of July this year. A friend of mine's wife was involved in it, so we went up there, and they were doing some of the things that I can remember that happened when I was a kid. Like they had sack races. They had a pig chase. They didn't grease them, but catch a pig, you get to keep it, and I was telling the wife, I said, "You know, when I was a kid they used to do things like that around here, but nothing like that happens here anymore." Unless it's a rodeo, there's nothing. The community doesn't do anything Fourth of July. You've been here for how long now? You’ve been here a while – Fourth of July in Fallon, what happens? You go to the car races and have the fireworks at night. There's nothing. There's nothing in the community. I don't know what it takes to shake them out. Whether the community fathers or somebody. I think it would help pull the community together. Give them something to do

AHERN: You're saying that when you were a child and you came to Fallon, it was a community thing of people like on a Fourth of July you'd bring a picnic.

RATTI:   It was different. They had the rodeo and they had the Fourth of July deals. Like it was a picnic deal, watermelon busts and things like that they had down at Oats Park. I can remember all the watermelon you could eat and things like that. Different things like that. Dances. I can remember even when I was in high school, we still had community dances.

AHERN: Where were the dances held?

RATTI:   Fraternal Hall.

AHERN: Where was that?

RATTI:   It's still here.

AHERN: Where is it?

RATTI:   It's above. . . you know where Sierra Jewelry and Loan is? [31 South Maine] Upstairs. The building belongs to the Fraternal Association. You go upstairs and there was a big dance hall upstairs, but it's been condemned because of the earthquakes. They used to have New Year's Eve dances and other dances. I can remember going to other dances, and the place would be jam-packed.

AHERN: That was where all of the dances were held?

RATTI:   Was always there. Oh, and then there used to be community dances. Harmon School would have one, Northam would have one, Sheckler would have one. You know, things were different. We haven't got time to do anything anymore it seems like.

AHERN: These community dances, they were for everybody, teenagers and adults?

RATTI:   Yeah, everybody used to go to them. I'm talking about when I was in high school. We'd go up and we'd dance.

AHERN: Who supplied the entertainment?

RATTI:   The music? They had live music. There was live bands in this area in those days. In fact, one of my ex-employers played in a band. He played saxophone, and they used to have five, six, seven piece bands.

AHERN: Were they all people from the community?

RATTI:   Yeah, majority of them were from the community. Different things like that. Sometimes you sit and wonder, jeez, it was so much fun. What am I doing now? Nothin'. (laughing)

AHERN: When you were coming to town, what was the town like? Was there a department store?

RATTI:   When we came to town, okay, in those days beginning of the city limits were where WalMart is now [890 W. Williams Ave]. There was nothin' but homes.

AHERN: It started from WalMart on Williams Street?

RATTI:   On Williams Avenue. When you came in they had a couple of motels there. There was the Lane Motel and the Cannon Motel, and then later on they built the Lariat [Motel]. The rodeo grounds used to sit right where WalMart and all that is now. Then you came all the way downtown. There was a gas station or two, and then you came to Maine Street. In those days there was a big two-story building. I remember that building during the World War II is where they had the outfit that did the stamps for the people [Office of Price Administration War Price and Rationing Board, 136 S. Maine St.]. The WPA I guess it was. No, that wasn't it. Whatever it was, they were in those buildings, and there used to be a big stone building, two-story buildings.

AHERN: When you say stamps, were they coupons?

RATTI:   The ration stamps, right. They were in there during World War II, and I can remember as you went down that side of the street, you had the Esquire Club, Fallon Coffee Shop.

AHERN: What was the Esquire Club?

RATTI:   It was a bar. Esquire Club and the Fallon Coffee Shop, then you had an empty lot, then you had what was the Owl Club, and then you had the . . .

AHERN: Was the Owl Club also a bar?

RATTI:   Yeah, these were all bars in those days. The Owl Club, the Star Club, there was another one there. Can't remember the name of it. Then the Sagebrush, the Barrel [House] Club, the Bank Club, Keystone Club and the Old Corner Bar. That was all in that one block.

AHERN: Were any of these considered casinos?

RATTI:   They all had, let’s see… The Bank Club, Sagebrush, Esquire, Owl Club, they all had gambling. The Owl Club, the Star Club, Eddie's Hafbrau, and Sagebrush are all the Nugget now. The Barrel House, I think it's closed right now, but I think the Nugget owns it, but they use it for, like the Rotary meets in there and stuff like that. The Bank Club, Keystone Club and those in there were where Jeff's [Office Supply] is now. On the other side of the street they used to have the Golden Rule which was a little department store kind of like the dime store. You had the Golden Rule, and then they had the library. The library used to be down there. The Fraternal Hall's above the library, and there was another department-type store in there. Not a department store, but another store. Then they had the Sugar Bowl which was a hamburgers, soda fountain deal. Then the theaters, and then you had those little small businesses like D L Coffee and some of those others in there. You had Kick's Place which was another soda fountain and hamburger place, the old bank. Nevada National Bank was where Palludan's building is now, and then you had the Rexall Drug and then some other businesses like old barber shops, and then there was Kent's. On the next block the corner used to be the five and dime, Sprouse. Five and dime is what we called it in those days.

AHERN: Then it became Sprouse?

RATTI:   Yeah, it became Sprouse, and then you had Safeway. Safeway's used to be in the building which is between the old Palludan store and the old dime store.

AHERN: What year are you talking about for all these buildings were there?

RATTI:   This is all from thirties to let's say 1950.

AHERN: You mentioned, if I heard you correctly, did you say theaters?

RATTI:   Yeah, the Fallon theater. I skipped right over the Fallon theater because that was right next to the Sugar Bowl.

AHERN: Was there more than one theater?

RATTI:   Yeah. Lawana Theater. Lawana Theater is now right this side [south] of the Dairy Queen [360 S. Maine. Dairy Queen was 310 S. Maine]. A lot of times we'd come to town on Saturday, we'd go to the show there for the matinee or whatever it was. They used to run serials like Tom Mix and all those guys. They'd have a serial every movie, and then the cartoons and then the movie and then we'd go to the Fallon Theater uptown and go to the movie up there if we stayed in town for a long time. But then they had the two theaters. [End of tape 1]

RATTI: Okay, there was Kolhoss, and then they built the bank. The First Interstate Bank was not there. On the opposite side of the street there used to be a gas station where Fallon National Bank is now, and then there used to be a quonset hut building which was a little coffee, doughnut shop. Then you had Hecks, then you had a clothing store, Frazzinis. There was no Penneys built there till 1949 or something like that. There was nothing where the Dairy Queen was for a while until they built the Dairy Queen, and then they had the theater, and then they had what they called the Dew Drop Inn, which was another hamburger, soda fountain shop. Matter of fact when I went to school during World War II when I went to Cottage School, Mom and Dad used to send a dollar and a quarter in a week. My sister would take it down to them, and I'd walk up there noon hour. I'd get my lunch for twenty-five cents a day, and if I wanted to have something a little extra, take a dime the next day or whatever it was so I could have a milkshake or something instead of a coke. Used to walk up there and eat there every day. That was run in those days by Mrs. Briggs. And then from there on you had just the houses up to the high school. This [Churchill County Public Library] wasn't here. The Rocket wasn't there. The building across the street wasn't there.

AHERN: You called it the Rocket?

RATTI:   Yeah, when they built that it was called the Rocket. It was a drive-in hamburger joint. I can remember before World War II when we used to come into town, just out there like where the Rusty Spur [1350 West Williams Avenue], where Western Auto is [1430 West Williams Avenue] and the restaurant and all that was a big CCC camp.

AHERN: What's the CCC?

RATTI:   Civil Conservation Corps, and that was where they put young men in there. This came out of the Depression, and if you go all over this valley you'll see where they built different deals for TCID [Truckee-Carson Irrigation District] headgates and things, and they're all stamped "built by CCC." They were places where they gave jobs to young men coming out of the Depression so the guys'd have jobs. They were out helping the area. They were all over the United States, but they had a CCC camp right there, and there was a camp out at East Gate [Middle Gate].

AHERN: When you mentioned camps, were they like barracks?

RATTI:   Yeah, they had buildings for the men to live in.

AHERN: Did they also have a cook?

RATTI:   I think they fed them all. I can't remember. I never got into one. My oldest brother was in for a while before he went to the War. I'd have to ask him. (laughing) I remember they had that camp there. The road through town actually went this way. This was the main drag, when you went out, you went out this way.

AHERN: You're saying that…

RATTI:   Yeah, the main highway, you came in from Reno, you came up here to the Nugget, turned and came down to Dew Drop Inn and then you turned and you went east on Stillwater Avenue till you got to the corner there, where Courtesy Corner turned south. That was the highway. That's the way you used to go. It went down, made what we used to call Deadman's Corner, and then it turned and went south of the base. That was Highway 50. Then the other one came right straight down here and went to Hawthorne. Then they put Taylor Street in later so you went straight through that way. If you went straight on Williams when you got down to where E.C. Best [school] is, the road ended so you had to turn and go back down and catch Stillwater to go on out. Then the highway out of town [north] just went out to like Wade Lane and those places there in those days because there was no highway from there to Lovelock although you could get there by dirt roads. When my brother worked at Parran, he used to take a dirt road from Fallon to get up there.

AHERN: Parran?

RATTI:   Parran's on the railroad. He worked on the railroad when he was at Parran.

AHERN: Did all of the boys at one time start working for the railroad?

RATTI:   Reno worked for the railroad. Ulysses didn't work for the railroads. Like I said, he was in the CC Corps, then he went into the Navy. He retired out of the Navy. Two of my sisters married men that worked for the railroad. My kid brother and I worked for the railroad.

AHERN: You mentioned in town, you named several bars. Did the town folk ever object to having that many bars?

RATTI:   Not that I know of, no. A matter of fact, the only thing I can really remember is that on Maine Street, bars and gaming were on one side and the other side was none, and that was that way for a long, long time. Only way of getting liquor on the other side was if you went into Kent's and bought it in the grocery store. Although the Overland Bar, actually Highway 50 turned there at Kent's and went down in front of the Overland Bar down to E Street and then turned and made a zigzag down there by Cottage Schools. That's why all those streets are all curbed and guttered in there the way they were. The Overland Bar was over there and there used to be another little bar where the Tony Taylor's restaurant was. Fat Jack's is there now [30 E. Center St.]. Those are the only two that weren't on the main drag. Then in the fifties, the town started moving out a little bit. That's when they took the old roof off of West End School, after the earthquakes, and they went out and built what is now where Stockman's is. The roof is still up inside there. But in those days, it was a drive-in. Then they got the little bar, and it's just been growing and growing ever since. But that was right on the edge of town. [west] Then there used to be what they called the Blue Moon. It was built during World War II or just before World War II, and that's where AM PM is. It was built in three sections. One section was the bar, middle section was the restaurant, and the third section was a dance hall. They used to have dances in there on the weekends.

AHERN: Besides the two theaters and dance halls, did they have anything else for recreation?

RATTI:   Well, they had a drive-in theater, but I think that was built after World War II through the fifties, well, you know where that is. Nothing else really for the kids that I can really remember. We had the swimming pool and that was about it.

AHERN: This is the swimming pool at Oats Park?

RATTI:   At Oats Park. All this stuff out here is all new.

AHERN: You mentioned the earthquake. Were you here when it happened?

RATTI:   I was here when we had the earthquakes.

AHERN: How old were you then?

RATTI:   I was in high school. I remember the first one in 1953. [July 6, 1954] I was in high school. That one happened at night. Most of them were usually at night. The building that I was telling you that was on the corner of Williams and Maine Street was condemned because of the earthquake, so they had to knock it down, and they had a good time knocking it down. It was built out of stone. The heart of the Woodliff Building which is Western Hotel on Maine Street right next to what used to be the Sagebrush, part of the upper part of the bricks were knocked down so they rebuilt that. There's a lot of buildings around here that are bolted together because of the earthquakes. Frazzini building has great big bolts running from front to back and side to side to keep it together. Out in the Stillwater area the road had cracks in it. The big faults were out in Dixie Valley, but the Austin Highway out there, I could show you where two faults went across in the road. It had two different cracks where it went up and down. They had two or three of those big earthquakes like that. My mom and dad said there was big ones in the early thirties, too.

AHERN: Did the earthquakes do any damage to your family's home?

RATTI:   No, it didn't do any damage to us. I remember we had to get up and go out and check all the railroad bridge abutments, all the bridge abutments and everything 'cause I was working there during the summer for the railroad, too. We went out and checked and couldn't find anything damaged or anything. Dumped stuff over in the stores and…

AHERN: Nothing really dangerous.

RATTI:   Nothing really dangerous.

AHERN: Were there very few or any crimes at all?

RATTI:   I would say compared to today, crime was nil. We had no gangs, we had no graffiti.

AHERN: What would have been the most serious crime?

RATTI:   I'm trying to think of anything that was really serious when I was a kid other than somebody getting busted for drunk driving or something like that. I'm trying to think. I can't think of anything really big that ever happened to anybody in the community. Been a pretty fair community to live in.

AHERN: Name some of the months like now that, a certain time period when because the town wasn't quite built up, was like a dust storm down through Maine Street.

RATTI:   Well, it's pretty dusty down through Maine Street right now with all the stuff we have around. I don't think there's anything really different. The thing that always used to amaze me is when I could be sitting up here and look down at Stillwater and see what was really blowing, they had this big old dust cloud down there, and you can imagine what headed this way. No, I don't recall it being any really any different even with the buildings we've got now.

AHERN: Can you think of anything else?

RATTI:   Well, there's a lot of places not here anymore. The old hospital. Know where the old hospital used to be? The old hospital was right down behind Stockman's is still there.

AHERN: What was the name of the old hospital?

RATTI:   I can't remember what the name of it was other than it was the name of a doctor. That was the highway in those days. You turned right there at Exxon [Auction Road]. That was the highway, and you get down there just past Mackedon's Concrete, that little building, that's the old hospital there. [Transcript notes “That's where my kid sister was born.”] The auction yards used to be just before you got to there in those days. It was right on the rail head. And then where everything is there now like Ford Garage, that was all farm ground. Was the old Whitaker place. Was all in farm land. There's a lot of things missing. And Hazen, I don't know if you're concerned with Hazen, I know it's part of the county, I can remember when we used to go to Hazen. They had an article in the paper that the Hazen Store is probably going to be closing up because Agnes is now pretty sick. In the old days the highway used to go pretty much parallel to the tracks and then swing back down to cross over the railroads instead of going around like this. That store used to be over in the other street. When they built the new highway section, they just picked it up, turned it around and moved it over to there. Then there used to be a big two-story brick building called the Palace Hotel.

AHERN: In Hazen?

RATTI:   In Hazen. It would cover at least a fourth of a city block. Two-story building, hotel. Had a bar in it and things like that, and train crews used to stay there because, like I said, they had the big depot there and they had the roundhouse there too. The roundhouse is gone, the depot's gone, the Palace is gone. I think the walls are still standing for the school on the other side of the tracks, and there's a lot of homes that used to be in there that are all gone. But nearly everything in Hazen was tied into the railroad. We used to go to Hazen about once a week. We got our mail at Hazen at the post office there.

AHERN: Was this before Fallon had a post office?

RATTI:   No, no. Even then. Because it was only five miles to Hazen, and so it was just as easy for us to go to Hazen as it was to come somewhere else and get the mail.

AHERN: From Bango to Hazen was only five miles?

RATTI:   Um-hum.

AHERN: How far was it from Bango to Fallon?

RATTI:   Oh, probably fourteen, fifteen miles. A lot of the old families that were right there in the valley are gone. The Cadets are gone. She married a gentleman named Mr. Zaugg. He's still here. Her kids are still here. The Moris are still up there. Matteuccis, Remo, still lives up in that end of the valley. Harrimans are still down in that end of the valley. A lot of the people that were on Swingle Bench are gone. I can't really think of too many of the old timers anymore. Thorntons are not there, Petersons are not there. Ricords are not there. Azbills are not there. Johnsons are not there.

AHERN: Well, Mr. Ratti, on behalf of the Churchill County Museum, thank you for granting this interview.

RATTI:   You're welcome.

AHERN: It has been interesting.




Ralph Ratti and his family make their home at 3780 Alcorn Road, Fallon. He and Eileen Bracken were married July 20, 1963 in Fallon.

There were five children born to the Rattis: Steven, born in Fallon 1964; Reva, Fallon, 1965; Autumn, St. George, Utah, 1980; Ruby, St. George, 1981; and Thomas, St. George 1978.

Ralph's oral history does not go beyond his high school days, he graduated in 1955, but those who have lived in Churchill County since 1955 know that Ralph has been an active, contributing member of the community.

Ralph was a long-time employee of the Frazzini Furniture Company, [270 S. Maine St.] from 1960 to 1982. On its closure, he joined and was a member of the staff at the Fallon Mercantile from 1982-1989. When the Mercantile closed in 1989, Ralph became the manager of The Baker Appliance and Video store [2155 W. Williams Ave.] and continues in that position today.

In addition to his activities in Fallon's business community, Ralph has participated in numerous athletic sports, along with many other proud fathers, involving his children. From 1972-1976 he served as a Little League Baseball coach for his son's team; from 1976-1979 he was again coaching in the Babe Ruth baseball league and from 1989 to the present he has been coaching in the Pop Warner Football League. Also, to add to his busy athletic activities he served as President of the Quarterback Club which supports the Churchill County High School football team from 1982-1989.

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Churchill County Museum Association, “Ralph Ratti Oral History,” Churchill County Museum Digital Archive: Fallon, Nevada, accessed March 20, 2023, https://ccmuseum.omeka.net/items/show/674.