Anna Tolas Oral History

Dublin Core


Anna Tolas Oral History


Anna Tolas Oral History


Churchill County Museum Association


Churchill County Museum Association


October 1, 1990


Analog Cassette Tape, .Docx File, MP3 Audio



Oral History Item Type Metadata


Eleanor Ahern


Anna Tolas


120 Tolas Place, Fallon, Nevada




an interview with


October 1, 1990



This interview was conducted by Eleanor Ahern; transcribed by Elaine Hesselgesser and Jennie Mader; edited by Norma Morgan; first draft typed by Glenda Price; index by Gracie Viera; final typed by Pat Boden; supervised by Myrl Nygren, Director of Oral History Project/Assistant Curator 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.


Mrs. Tolas has been a homemaker all her married life and still resides in the small five room house that was built for the family when they first moved to Fallon in 1928. She is a tiny doll-like woman with large clear blue eyes and at age 92 possesses sharp recollections of events that occurred throughout her life. Mrs. Tolas has always worked hard and still continues to do so as evidenced from the immaculate interior of the house to the outdoors.

After the interview Mrs. Tolas took me into the bedroom to view her wedding photograph. In the photograph, Mrs. Tolas stands in a calf length wedding dress next to Mr. Tolas, a tall distinguished-looking man with a handlebar mustache. Mr. Tolas immediately reminded me of a Prussian soldier if he had been dressed in the military uniform with the pointed helmet. While in that same bedroom, Mrs. Tolas began to recall the death of Mr. Tolas twelve years prior. Mr. Tolas had died in his sleep.

Interview with Anna Tolas

AHERN: This is Eleanor Ahern of the Churchill County Museum Oral History Project interviewing Anna Tolas at her home at 120 Tolas Place, Fallon, Nevada. The date is Monday, October 1, 1990.

AHERN: Good morning, Mrs. Tolas.

TOLAS:  Good morning.

AHERN: It is 9:15 in the morning. Could you please give me your full name?

TOLAS:  Anna Tolas.

AHERN: How old are you, Mrs. Tolas?

TOLAS:  Ninety-two.

AHERN: When and where were you born?

TOLAS:  I was born on November 26, 1897, in the old Austria-Hungaria. The country that I was born in now belongs to Yugoslavia.

AHERN: How old were you when you left Austria-Hungaria?

TOLAS:  I was twenty-three. On December the third, I left my home and take a trip to the United States in 1920.

AHERN: When you were twenty you took a trip to the United States?

TOLAS: Twenty-three.

AHERN: Why did you come to the United States?

TOLAS:  Well, I had two sisters, and one of the oldest sisters send money to come to America. I want to see something so she send it, and I come to this country. They're both now dead, my other two sisters here.

AHERN: Do you remember where in the country did you go to?

TOLAS:  Pueblo, Colorado. December 30, 1920, I come into the Pueblo, Colorado.

AHERN: Did your sister have a family? Was she married?

TOLAS:  Yes. She was married and she had nine children; but not at time when I come here. I think she had four or five at that time.

AHERN: So you lived with your sister in Pueblo, Colorado?

TOLAS:  For a while yes. I had two sisters, both in Pueblo, Colorado.

AHERN: You just came for a short visit originally?

TOLAS:  Well, I thought I going to stay for awhile, and see around, just like anybody. And after we lost all our Hungaria that was under Yugolsovia I just don't like to stay there no more. I never went back.

AHERN: Oh. You didn't like the Old Country?

TOLAS:  I like the Old Country okay the times when up til [I was] twenty-three.

AHERN: Uh-huh. But after that you didn't like it?

TOLAS:  Well, I left it then. I left that country.

AHERN: But you didn't want to go back?

TOLAS:  No. Sometime I like to go back, but we don't have money to go for two or three of us.

AHERN: So where did you go after you stayed in Pueblo, Colorado?

TOLAS:  I stay in Pueblo, Colorado, and got married there.

AHERN: Is that where you met your husband? How did you meet him?

TOLAS:  He was over at my sister. He was married before and his first wife died and left three children. And the three children there...the youngest one was thirteen months when their mother die. Stephanie Lewis, now here, she was three years old.

AHERN: Stephanie Lewis?

TOLAS:  Mm-hmm, and Chris Bass was, I guess, six. Chris was starting her school, first grade. I married all three.

AHERN: And what's the third one? There's Stephani, Chris...Kerrin

TOLAS:  The other one is Mary Kerrin

AHERN: Did you have any children?

TOLAS:  Yes. I have one son. Born here in Fallon. He was born...going to be sixty-two years old next month-October 16, 1928.

AHERN: Why did you come to Fallon?

TOLAS:  Back in Colorado I live maybe for eight years--till 1928. We had a forty acre ranch in Colorado. And we     sell it.                Because Mr. [Jacob] Tolas have a sister, Mrs. [Frank] Rebol was his sister. He said he was going to go visit her, so I and him come here and the three girls were still in Colorado with their relations taking care of them till we return. We was thinking to go back. But, I don't know, we just gradually staying here. I went once to Colorado. Oh, about maybe thirty years ago.

AHERN: So after you and Mr. Tolas came to visit his sister, Mrs. Rebol, you decided to stay here?

TOLAS:  Well, we decided to kinda lookin' around. Was kinda hard for awhile. There wasn't many job he went and work at the alfalfa mill at Kent's not for a long time, for one week. After my son was born and then he went and worked for the railroad.

AHERN: When did you send for the children? The three girls.

TOLAS:  We come in '28, they come in '29.

AHERN: What kind of job did your husband do on the railroad?

TOLAS:  He was just on the track...

AHERN: From Fallon to where?

TOLAS:  To Hazen.

AHERN: And what did he do on the tracks? Do you remember what kind of job he did on the tracks?

TOLAS:  Well, just when they have to change the ties or cleaning the track, you know, this thing, I guess, that's what he doin'. There was just common labor.

AHERN: Did he come home every night?

TOLAS:  Sure.

AHERN: Oh, he didn't stay over there huh?

TOLAS:  No. There was uh, real labor for awhile uptown, in time to rent a house. In 1936, we buy the three acre ground from Mapes Ferguson, and started kinda building for the home.

AHERN: Oh, so you were renting a house before you started to

build. When your husband went to work did you have to fix his lunch?

TOLAS:  Yes, every day.

AHERN: What did you fix for lunch?

TOLAS:  Well, just depends. Sometime ham and sandwich and cake or something. When I come to this country I did not know what cake is. They don't have things like that, that time. The time that I was back in old Austria, it was good country. After the first world war we lost. They was Austria declared the war the Serbia, not yet Yugoslavia. When they start, we fight for three days and Austria won. Then Germany declared the war on Austria after that, there was the Russia declared on Austria, Italia they all take it, and now they all divided. They was a big country. There was Poland, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria and Hungaria all this country was all in one country and it was good country. Went to school there.

AHERN: Let's go back to when you were in Pueblo, Colorado.

TOLAS:  Okay.

AHERN: What kind of wedding did you have?

TOLAS:  Oh, it was a afternoon wedding, I have a picture there.

AHERN: Okay, we'll look at it later. Did you get married in a church or in your sister's house?

TOLAS:  No, St. Mary's Church in Pueblo, Colorado.

AHERN: And after that, then you came to your sister's house?

TOLAS:  Yeah, but my husband havin' a time toward the forty acre ranch and the little house there. People around have to take care of it. For the youngest one, have to pay $200 a year.

AHERN: You had to pay $200.00 a year?

TOLAS:  Yeah, he did. When he wasn't married.

AHERN: Oh, this was to have someone take care of the children?

TOLAS:  Yeah. They come, we was fifteen-sixteen mile east of Pueblo, Colorado. In a little country town called Evandale. There we work, raise sugar beets, workin' out in the outside tendin' beets and things like that. There was no light in the house, quite a ways from town.

AHERN: If there were no lights, did you use just a kerosene lamp?

TOLAS:  Kerosene lamp.

AHERN: And you had a wood stove, a cook stove?

TOLAS:  A wood stove.

AHERN: So you did all your cooking on a wood stove?

TOLAS:  Yeah.

AHERN: Did you find it hard to cook on a wood stove?

TOLAS:  No, I kinda like it.

AHERN: Why did you like it?

TOLAS:  Well, back in the old country there was difference wood and stove and this one was much easier to put the wood in the stove and things like that, I like it.

AHERN: It was easier, huh?

TOLAS:  It was good. I like it.

AHERN: When you cooked on it, did you cook foods from the old country? Your meals?

TOLAS:  Some. Yes. Just like you cook here, sure you don't, there's a lot of things that you cook. I never see cake, but we used to make nice walnut bread, and some a nice cookies, all fancied up and things like that. There was lot of fruit there. We usually dried apples when they was in, like a little bit wormy, clean them up and make them nice and dry them in the winter when was everthing snow. So big, when us kids went to school we don't have to need a road. We just go through, the snow was frozen solid.

AHERN: When you came to Fallon, did your husband build the house himself?

TOLAS:  No, Mr. Hardy and a boy… he used to work in the Fallon Bank. He works now in the other bank. Chris Palludan? What’s his name….

AHERN: That’s okay. Mr. Hardy and another person helped build your house?

TOLAS: Mr. hardy and his son-in-law.

AHERN: Was it a big house?

TOLAS:  No, is this one.

AHERN: Oh, this is the house they built.

TOLAS:  Uh, huh.

AHERN: Oh, so you've lived here ever since you came to Fallon, this is the house you lived in?

TOLAS:  No, when we come to Fallon, we live for a while with my niece in town. And he go to work, and then, looking for the ground to get some place; so Mapes Ferguson have it for sale, and we got two acre first, and then after awhile we get another acre.

AHERN: So that would make three acres all together?

TOLAS:  Yeah.

AHERN: And it's right here?

TOLAS:  Right here. And Mr. Ferguson says "Any one you wanna buy it, if you wanna buy more, $10.00 down and get it." We don't buy then no more. We wanna square up and pay for this one first. And after that, we could do it. My husband like to buy more and I says, "No." I says, "Let's pay for this one first, and after that we could." But, we don't buy no more, I guess it was little too much. When you have a small place, if you wanna hire somebody to come and cut your hay, it's hard to get it. They don't like to come a small place because they don't make much money on it. See? So now it's three acre. I like to sell it if I could. I couldn't work no more that much.

AHERN: When your husband went to work, how did your day start?

TOLAS:  Oh, usually straighten up the house. And then when if I have it [time] some in the yard, or in the field I'll go and clean, we have cattle, sometimes eight. And there you go in feeding. Even the water you have to pump the water by hand for the cattle. Always something was to be done, I was workin'. I like to work out in the field.

AHERN: The cattle, did you raise it for your own meat and milk?

TOLAS:  No, we didn't butcher it. We sell it. Now it's twelve years since my husband die.--After that, he have a bad heart, couldn't do much, he have bad legs, so we have to sell the cattle.

AHERN: Did you grow most of your own food in the garden?

TOLAS:  Yes.

AHERN: What did you grow?

TOLAS:  We grow potatoes, string beans, corn, lettuce, everything you could find, carrots..

AHERN: And you canned those things?

TOLAS:  I canned a lot.

AHERN: What did you buy from the store?

TOLAS:  Well, it's what you needed. You have to buy flour to make bread; sugar. Butchered pigs, and we make lard at home, and sometimes there was meat and sausage.

AHERN: You make your own meat and sausage?

TOLAS:  Yes. We have kinda smoked sausage and they last longer.

AHERN: When you went to town to do your shopping, did you walk?

TOLAS:  I walk. I never drive a car in my life.

AHERN: Oh, you don’t know how to drive?


AHERN: Which grocery store did you shop at?

TOLAS:  Kent's store.

AHERN: The one up on Maine Street?

TOLAS:  Yeah, Kent's store. They delivered the grocery then. So we go there, and sometime the girls said he was in the place before I come back, walkin' back. I go into the store, and I go and pay the light for the house, and then I walk home.

AHERN: When you moved to Fallon, was it a large town?

TOLAS:  No, there wasn't. I was surprised, when I come to Rebol place--my husband's sister place.

AHERN: Where was this?

TOLAS:  Sheckler District, and, I don't like it.


TOLAS:  Well, in Colorado was difference. I cry. And I was lonesome, I was kinda worried for the girls. If I don't get letter from some family there, I cry.

AHERN: Oh, you were lonely huh?

TOLAS:  I was lonely at first. After we got our own home, like that, I was okay. I work.

AHERN: After you got your own home then you worked to keep busy?

TOLAS:  [long pause] I worked a lot.

AHERN: When you came to Fallon, did they have a movie theater?

TOLAS:  I don't know if they did. I never went to it. Later on, there was, but right now I don't know much American language yet at that time. When I come to this country I didn't know a word.

AHERN: When you met your husband you were speaking English?

TOLAS:  No, he speak the same language.

AHERN: Where is your husband from?

TOLAS:  From old Austria-Hungaria.

AHERN: Oh, he's also from the same place.

TOLAS:  Um mum.

AHERN: Did you know him when you were           

TOLAS:  No. I met him at my sister.

AHERN: So, then he taught you English?

TOLAS:  Well, I, taught mostly from kids when they go to school, Chris bring the book home from there. First, Second grade and Third, and so, I tried to do it.

AHERN: And that's how you learned to speak English, through the kids?

TOLAS:  Yes, at first it's kinda hard, sure, but now I am okay.

AHERN: When your son was born, was he born here in Fallon?

TOLAS:  You know where Mary Foster apartment is? [40 N. Nevada St.]

TOLAS:  There was hospital there. He was born in there.

AHERN: This was the Mary Foster hospital?

TOLAS:  No, it was Mrs. Moore hospital.

TOLAS:  Yeah, that time. Mrs. Doctor Woodward was havin' boy born in October 15, I was October 16, and they would be born. Now Mrs. Ferguson, she was born on 21 or 23 October. They make apartment after they buy the hospital. There was one old lady that run the hospital. She was pretty good.

AHERN: When the holidays came around, did you and your husband celebrate the old country type holidays?

TOLAS:  No, we just… You mean Christmas? No, when you have children they want some candy and things, but lot of things they asked me, I don't know. That time, but now, it's okay.

AHERN: When Christmas came, did you buy the gifts or did you make some?

TOLAS:  I sew underclothes. We used to buy the hundred pound of flour, bake bread, and all these things in home, and was good material, and the sack. I wash it and clean it and make them underclothes, and crochet a little bit around, and they was kinda nice.

AHERN: You crochet lace around the edge of the underwear?

TOLAS: Yeah.

AHERN: Did you sew all their clothes for school?

TOLAS:  A lot of em, but sometime I buy. My sister had two/three girls and when they was too small for them she give it us, our kids, and they wear it.

AHERN: Did you go to town sometimes to buy the clothes?

TOLAS:  Yes.

AHERN: Which store was this?

TOLAS:  Yeah, be J.C. Penney, there was another store, there, I don't know now, is pool hall--restaurant.

AHERN: Is it Palludan?

TOLAS:  No, no Palludan. They have always, uh,.... dishes and things like that, not Palludan, but, it was in the Maine Street there. Oh now is the pool hall… Oh, Nugget!

AHERN: Oh, where the Nugget is. [Hursh and Eldredge]

TOLAS:  Yeah, right there in the corner between the road. There was a store, getting nice little clothes for the kids, and material, if I could, I buy it and make some dresses for the kids. There wasn't like it is now. Is all difference, there was no sidewalk.

AHERN: No sidewalk?

TOLAS: There were boards.

AHERN: Instead of sidewalk of cement there were boards?

TOLAS:  In some place. And, the Maine Street was just dirt.

AHERN: Maine Street was just a dirt road?

TOLAS:  Andy Drumm started fix it at night.

AHERN: Andy Drumm? Was he in the construction company?

TOLAS:  Yes.

AHERN: But he worked at night to fix it?

TOLAS:  They started at night, plow it especially to the Maine Street.

AHERN: How many banks were there in town? What year was this?

TOLAS:  There was one bank there in the Maine Street. I don't know what you call, right down from the Kent's now. There was only one bank.

AHERN: What year was this?

TOLAS:  Well, I think,... maybe was [19]'30. There was one bank. They call Wingfield Bank. [end of side A]

AHERN: When you first came to Fallon was there anything you had to learn or teach yourself?

TOLAS:  Oh yeah, a lot of things had to, I don't see, things like is now.

AHERN: Tell me some of the things, that you don't see like it is now.

TOLAS:  Well, there wasn't many people in here, and they was a friendly people. More friendly then they are now. I will say they goin' to see a stranger, they try to make you welcome. There wasn't many people. I guess they was around 5,000 people. And uh, small town, and the store, the Kent's is the most. But when we live in town, it was little better, and some places now. And the rent wasn't, we have a five room house, we live in and it was $15.00 a month. Now you will pay three time double. Is difference. I never go much around to see it, all I ask people, who go visiting a lot of time. I stay home most of the time. I, uh…

AHERN: What did you think about the Indians when you saw them?

TOLAS:  We used to… [inaudible] Living on center street, [inaudible] there was a house, then there was kind of an apartment, in one side we lived for a while. It was small, and it was good. There was one only Indian woman come. At first I was scared, I never see any Indian and then, and uh, she come in and said "Dry bredda," I didn't know what she want. She just show mouth and said "Dry bredda." was scare, I went in the house and locked the door. She come quite often after that. One day I was cookin' beans and I says "I'm goin' to give her some." That woman, she eat the beans so fast I don' know when and she grabbed my hand and kinda nod her head and kiss my hand and says, "Dry bredda." I still don' know what she want. One time there was a man, and she said "Dry bredda." And, then he told me that she wanted dry bread, that she wanted eat. And that woman come often around. Then one time she don' come no more, I guess she died. They was a lot of Indian around. We don't have them back in old country. Here there is more people mixed in than back in there. [Long pause] But, Fallon grew, oh my gosh, there was nothing much in Fallon, and the Maine Street, after J.C. Penney coming in, it was better, but for the grocery was the Maine Street only Kent's. I think the Kolhoss maybe it was there then. They used to call Mercantile, now Palludan. They have all kinda dishes like I always get. I wasn't much around when, to look at it, I stay home, I don't go no place. I don't go to visit neighbors, or very seldom.

AHERN: Why did you stay home a lot?

TOLAS:  Well, I don' know. I've just working and stay.

AHERN: You had a lot of work to do at home?

TOLAS:  Well, outside I was workin' outside, I like to work outside, I go to specially, even now I go on the ditches and clean, and things like that. Pitchin' hay, back in Colorado, I topped sugar beets and everything.

AHERN: So, you've always worked hard all your life? Working outdoors?

TOLAS:  Always did. Back in Europe we do everything by hand.

AHERN: I noticed your wood pile. Is that how you learned to stack your woodpile in Europe?

TOLAS:  Yeah, I used to have a wooden stove. Here too; wood and gas together, we just change them this year.

AHERN: You just changed your stove from wood stove to gas stove?

TOLAS:  Yeah. The other one was wood, have incinerator wood and gas.

AHERN: Oh, it was a combination wood and gas. Do you like this gas stove better than the wood stove?

TOLAS:  Yeah, it’s easier but wood stove make it good winter room. Wood, nice and warm, better than gas. And, we change it this winter when our good stove was now gone. Richard Bass bring ... for Christmas every year a big load of wood. Now I'm going to tell him and pick it up and take it home, he have a little stove- Not stove, but fireplace.

AHERN: When you weren't working, what did you do to have fun?

TOLAS:  Crochet a lot.

AHERN: Well, with your children as a family. Did your husband have Saturday and Sunday off?

TOLAS:  Usually worked Saturdays too. There was only Sunday.

AHERN: So on Sundays did you go somewhere?

TOLAS:  Well, sometimes we go for ride and visit some friends. Yes, we do that.

AHERN: Did you ever go out to the country with the family for picnics?

TOLAS:  Yes. Like Fourth of July or something we go.

AHERN: Where would you go?

TOLAS:  One year we went to the Pyramid Lake. And there was a road so high I did not want to go again. But like Stillwater and never go very far. A couple times we to Lake Tahoe with somebody else. But otherwise we stay home.

AHERN: When you went out to the lakes, like at Pyramid or Tahoe, did you pack food to go?

TOLAS:  Yes.

AHERN: What type of food did you pack?

TOLAS:  Oh, we had a kind of fried chicken and potato salad and I'd make a cake or . . . At first I didn't know how to make cake. We don't make cake there back in Europe. But we make dough, eggs and sugar and roll them up and make them kind of fancy and fry them and put them in powdered sugar. It was good for taking out. Apple pie and things like that, I don't make no more. I don't see too good and I don't hear good. It's kind of hard, but for me I never go . . I don't belong to no . . . only Catholic Church. When I could go, I go to church. But they bring Communion every week here.

AHERN: The Church brings it here?

TOLAS:  Um hum. John LaVoy is what he is. He's nice. He's the guy that . . . usually brings it. And the priest comes and sometimes a woman. They come.

AHERN: When you were building . . . this is the house that was built for you when your husband bought the place?

TOLAS:  This house we build when we buy the ground from Mapes Ferguson. Yes, we build it then.

AHERN: Did you have your outdoor plumbing? Or was the plumbing indoors?

TOLAS:  Just like now. Yes.

TOLAS:  Everything is inside. The house is by now fifty years old. They need to paint it. Not this winter, but next spring if I am still here, they are going to have to be painted.

AHERN: When you sell your house, where would you go?

TOLAS:  I don't know.

AHERN: Are you going to stay with one of your children?

TOLAS:  My son told me to come to Las Vegas. I don't like Las Vegas.

AHERN: Why don't you like Las Vegas?

TOLAS:  Oh it’s different. It's just not, I guess, what I care for.

AHERN: You prefer a small town, huh?

TOLAS:  Yes.

AHERN: When you came from the old country, was it also a small town?

TOLAS:  We live out in the country, on a ranch.

AHERN: Is that why you kinda like Fallon, too?

TOLAS:  Yes, that's what I like. When I come here to Fallon I cry a lot. I miss Colorado for awhile. And my sister, the oldest one, when she come here to visit us, I went back with her to Colorado. I don't stay very long, I come back.

AHERN: You missed Fallon?

TOLAS:  Uh-huh. I am just a person to stay home and work. I go pull weeds. I got the men today to cut the weeds in our field.

AHERN: You hire somebody to cut your field?

TOLAS:  Uh-huh.

AHERN: What did you grow in your field? Alfalfa or wheat?

TOLAS:  Alfalfa. We have for one year wheat. But it's hard to get a threshing machine when it's a small place like that. It's not much money they don't make. It's hard to get the help. On the big ranches, it's okay. They get the money, they work to do it. But now it's just looking for something easy.

AHERN: Can you tell me anything else about Fallon when you first came here? What do you remember most when you first came to Fallon?

TOLAS:  When we come to Fallon, on the train, it was on Sunday, April 15, 1928. When we come from Reno to Fallon on the train, we have to stop at Hazen. The train don't come to Fallon till next day. At Hazen was a big hotel. I think the Inman [?] family owns it, in fact. We have to stay overnight at the hotel at Hazen. And the next morning nine o'clock the train came and we go with the train to Fallon. And when we come to Fallon, at the depot, there was a man working there. He call the Rebol family on the telephone. In Pueblo we don't have a telephone. We don't know what telephone was. And that man at the depot call Rebol to come in and get us at the depot. We come in with the train. That was 62 years ago, April 15, 1928. It was Sunday when we come. And Mr. Rebol come and pick us with one Ford car.

AHERN: Oh, he had a car?

TOLAS:  Yeah, they had a car then.

AHERN: Was it a long drive from the depot to the Rebol place?

TOLAS:  No. To me looked like drive and drive. Back home we had a horses to go any place. I never seen . . . there was one other car kinda gray we called a "coach with the other horses."

AHERN: Was this the first time you rode in a car?

TOLAS:  No, no, no. We had to go to the town with a buggy or a pickup, so I ride before. It's different. See if I done a lot of things. Back home . . . we have to go to school, just like here. When you come to sixth grade you could be done.

AHERN: Now when you came to Fallon, and your children came the year later, how did they get to school? Which school did they go to?

TOLAS:  Chris don't go to school, but Stephie was at Oats Park and Mary went to West End.

AHERN: Did they walk to school then?

TOLAS:  Well, we live in town. Yes, they walk. It was different.

AHERN: When they went to school, did you have to make their lunch for them?

TOLAS:  No, they come home for lunch.

AHERN: Oh, they came home.

TOLAS:  Uh-huh. It was a lot of work. Fallon was a small town. They say about five thousand population. You go up town on Saturday to get the grocery. That's when people from the ranches come mostly at that time. But, a lot of kids went to school. So much difference it was to me when I come to this country from the other one was so much difference living.

AHERN: Was it better?

TOLAS:  Well, here is for the better, yes. The other now is still the same. I think they . . . make you have to go to so many school. They use to do, there wasn't many teachers. We go to school and when we finish every grade there was required, after that we go three times a week to school and learn a little higher things. And when there was all this ... it was just like a high school here. At that time you could teach school when you finish three times a week, you have not only one year or two, you have to go till you are almost eighteen then you could teach. You don't have to go to University like they do now. There two years, it was okay to teach the smaller kids at school.

AHERN: When they started in Fallon you said they had sidewalks that were boards and road was dirt. When they started paving it, did you like it better?

TOLAS:  Yes.

AHERN: It wasn't as dusty?

TOLAS:  It was when they working at night it was Andy Drumm that plowed it and then they kinda oiled the Maine Street was the first they do anything.

AHERN: And you always walked to town for shopping? You never drove or rode.

TOLAS:  No. I never drive.

AHERN: You never rode with anybody?

TOLAS:  Oh yeah, sometime. If somebody comes . . . the kids. But you go uptown like you could go J.C. Penney, and you get Kent's grocery, and you pay the light. Reclamation Office was at that time. And I just was most at home. I don't go and look around too much.

AHERN: Did your children stay at home a lot too?

TOLAS:  They stay but when they was older they go out.

AHERN: Uh-huh. But when they were younger they stayed with you.

TOLAS:  Yes, they was home till they got married.

AHERN: Did you teach your daughters to crochet along with you?

TOLAS:  I teach Chris, but she don't take it. No. Neither of them crochet. I wanted them to do it but, no.

AHERN: They weren't interested, huh?

TOLAS:  No...I show them this and that, and no. Chris got mad one time when I was mad and she did wrong and I have to take it apart and next time I look she grabbed it and put it in the stove. So I take it out and wipe it and clean it and make her work. But she wasn't interested I guess, and Stephie either. Neither of them crochet. Back in the old country they teach you crochet and knit. I done them both. I still have a pair of socks some place I made knit.

AHERN: You knitted a pair of socks. Is this when you were a young girl? When you first knitted your pair of socks.

TOLAS:  Oh no. Here in Fallon. We use to get thread back in Europe and make our own socks.

AHERN: So when you moved to Fallon did you make your own socks


AHERN: Oh, you started buying them?

TOLAS:  I never make them here in this country.

AHERN: Why is that?

TOLAS:  Oh, I make them but only for the men not for the girls, or the women.

AHERN: Why didn't you make any for the women . . . girls?

TOLAS:  Because I couldn't get the thread, the kind. There they have it already made. Here you could get the thread, but I don't know the sizes and things like that. Is so much difference country. Here require lot more for the girl or woman than back in Europe.

AHERN: They require a lot more?

TOLAS:  Here require a lot more than there. There the woman work outside all the time just there was no machinery or nothing and I have a friend, Tony Shane, went back to Yugoslovia a couple years ago. I have a sister there yet, the youngest one. I write a letter to her and I put a twenty-dollar bill in it and gave it to Tony Shane to take it to . . . give him the address to go in and if he could find her where she is. He did. Was my baby sister, the youngest one. She had one daughter that's an attorney at law there. It's difference. But Fallon is home. I like Fallon. I hope I keep it a couple more year maybe. Maybe not too long. Next month I will be ninety-three.

AHERN: Are you looking forward to your birthday?

TOLAS:  Yes. My sister died a year ago in March, she was ninety-four when she die. She would be ninety-five in May and I'll be, November 26, ninety-three. Ninety-three. Very heavy, heavy work.

AHERN: Well, Mrs. Tolas, on behalf of the Churchill County Museum's Oral History project I want to thank you for letting me interview you. I enjoyed talking to you.


On October 26, 1990, I went back to see Mrs. Tolas to ask her about the naming of the street, Tolas Place. According to Mrs. Tolas, the street was named after her husband who was the oldest person living on the street at that time. The date was in the 1940's.

Obituary 1-15-1992

FALLON — Anna Ercul Tolas, 94, died Wednesday at Fallon Convalescent Center. A native of Austria, she was born Nov. 26, 1897, and had been a Fallon resident since 1928, coming from Pueblo, Colo.

Mrs. Tolas was a homemaker and a member of St. Patrick's Catholic Church. Her husband, Jacob, died in 1978. Surviving are son John A. of Las Vegas, daughters Christina Bass and Stephanie Lewis, both of Fallon, and Mary Kerrin of Baja, Mexico, a sister in Yugoslavia, six grandchildren, six great-grandchildren and six great-great-grandchildren.

 Recitation of the rosary is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday at Smith Family Funeral Home. A Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated at 11 a.m. Saturday at the church, with burial at the Fallon Cemetery.


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Churchill County Museum Association, “Anna Tolas Oral History,” Churchill County Museum Digital Archive: Fallon, Nevada, accessed September 22, 2021,