Frank Woodliff Jr. Oral History

Dublin Core


Frank Woodliff Jr. Oral History


Frank Woodliff Jr. Oral History


Churchill County Museum Association


Churchill County Museum Association


June 6, 1991; February 24, 1994;


Analog Cassette Tape, .Docx File, MP3 Audio



Oral History Item Type Metadata


Sharon Taylor, Marian La Voy, Sylvia Arden


Frank Woodliff Jr.


Fallon, NV


Churchill County Oral History Project
an interview with Frank Woodliff Jr.
Fallon, Nevada
conducted by Sharon Taylor on [Unknown date]
This interview was transcribed by Marilyn A. Goble.
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.

TAYLOR: Alrighty. This is Sharon Taylor and we’re interviewing Frank Woodliff Jr. regarding his father and his involvement in photography and also in the Woodliff Co. or the Woodliff Businesses. Now the pictures you have in front of me Frank show your father about the time you figure they are getting ready to come over here from Virginia City.
WOODLIFF: I would think so.
TAYLOR: Can you tell me a little bit…now again when your father was born and how he got started in business in Virginia City. Just a little background about how he became a photographer, if you know or did he talk about photography at all to you. What he did.
WOODLIFF: I can’t remember too much about it. Um, do you want me to tell you where he was born?
TAYLOR: Mm-hm. Oh yeah.
WOODLIFF: He was born Colfax, California.
TAYLOR: Mm-hm.
WOODLIFF: In 1871. Well it would be May 1871.
TAYLOR: What was the date?
WOODLIFF: I don’t know.
WOODLIFF: I would have to look that up. I might have that somewhere.
WOODLIFF: And then as I…recall I think that they moved to Virginia City when he was four years old. And uh…
TAYLOR: About 1875…
WOODLIFF: My grandfather ran uh, drug store in Gold Hill and then they moved to Virginia City on C Street.
TAYLOR: Mm-hm.
WOODLIFF: And from there on…his younger years why I’m sorta blank. I do uh…I don’t know why he took up photography. I would like to find that diploma really.
TAYLOR: Mm-hm.
WOODLIFF: Which would give the dates on it.
TAYLOR: Mm-hm.
WOODLIFF: But I can remember my dad saying…I guess when he wanted to marry to marry my mother why uh…my mother’s father said, “Oh. I don’t know, Jess.” He says “Uh, do you think he can make you living with that little pepperbox?”
TAYLOR: (laughing)
WOODLIFF: He called it a pepperbox. The camera in the…
TAYLOR: Mm-hm.
WOODLIFF: And uh…Anyway, they were married in 1902. And then uh…my dad came out here I think in uh…1903. And then later on my mother and sister came out. And of course, you know the story from there on out. And he started the little store and the….
TAYLOR: Mm-hm.
WOODLIFF: And uh…I don’t know what else I can tell ya that uh…
TAYLOR: Okay, well I’ll ask you a few more questions.
WOODLIFF: Okay. You ask me questions and I’ll see if I can remember.
TAYLOR: (laughing) Okay. I need your fathers full name.
WOODLIFF: Frank Woodliff. No middle name.
TAYLOR: No middle name? No middle name. So then it would be proper to call him Frank Woodliff Senior.
TAYLOR: Because we want to make sure we cite him correctly.
TAYLOR: And what was your mo…mothers name? Her maiden name and then…
WOODLIFF: Her moth…My mothers name was Jessie Mabel Dick.
TAYLOR: Mm-hm. Mm-hm. And where were her parents from? Where did they come from? Do you know anything about how they met? Was it in Virginia City? That sort of thing.
WOODLIFF: Seems to me uh…I heard them say that my grandmother and grandfather were the first couple…white couple married in Washoe City, you know…
TAYLOR: Mm-hm.
WOODLIFF: Between Reno and Carson.
TAYLOR: Mm-hm.
WOODLIFF: You know there used to be a little building there.
WOODLIFF: And uh…I think that uh…I think my grandfather, Thomas Dick Sr., was uh…we’re talking about my mother’s parents now?
TAYLOR: Right.
WOODLIFF: Uh, Thomas Dick Sr., I think he was from Canada. Now I don’t know too much about my mother’s mother, my grandmother.
TAYLOR: Do…What was her name?
WOODLIFF: I don’t know. I could prob… I…If I’d known you were going to ask me these questions, I have a family history thing.
TAYLOR: Oh that’d be good. If we could get a copy of it just for
WOODLIFF: I coulda…
TAYLOR: Just for our file.
WOODLIFF: I coulda looked some of that up.
TAYLOR: Just a background because we want a…we try to keep uh…genealogical family history records here for people who are interested.
WOODLIFF: Well Frank was gonna take on the project of developing all this sort of thing and he did get a start on it but then… you know he gets so busy now that um…you know.
TAYLOR: It makes it real hard.
WOODLIFF: I don’t know if it’s ever going to get completed or not. Okay, you just keep asking me questions and I’ll…
TAYLOR: Okay. Well now your grandfather had a drug store then in Virginia City on C Street. And…
WOODLIFF: You’re talking about Thomas Woodliff Sr. had the drug store
TAYLOR: Right.
WOODLIFF: Now Thomas Dick Sr., my mother’s father. He used to haul all the ore for all those mines up there. He was the only one who could drive…I think they said twenty-four head of horses. He was in the teaming business.
TAYLOR: Teamster.
WOODLIFF: And of course, my mother’s brothers…uh…uh…they followed along with…with my dad and my…her brothers na…she had a brother named Robert Dick and Thomas Dick and Arthur Dick. She had 3 brothers.
TAYLOR: Mm-hm.
WOODLIFF: And of course, they became involved with the teaming business along with their father.
TAYLOR: Mm-hm. It’s really interesting because I worked with George Luke on his oral history.
WOODLIFF: You know, well they are all from Virginia City…
TAYLOR: Virginia City also, yeah.
WOODLIFF: And they all knew each other. And then Mary Ellen’s mother and uh…my dad were friends. And of course, uh…Lem Allen’s mother…she’s from Virginia City.
TAYLOR: Mm-hm.
WOODLIFF: And uh… fact of the matter is…uh…uh…let’s see…how did that work…well uh…oh yes. My aunt, my dad’s sister married um…uh…Lem’s mothers’ brother. Her name was Clara Woodliff Brown.
TAYLOR: Mm-hm.
WOODLIFF: So I don’t know if there is a relation between Lem and myself. Very, very distance.
TAYLOR: Mm-hm.
WOODLIFF: Anyway, that’s uh…
TAYLOR: Yeah. I like that pepperbox comment. I’m gonna use that.
TAYLOR: In the description.
WOODLIFF: Yeah, I can remember my dad saying “You know. I don’t know Jess…” Or my grandfather saying, “I don’t know Jess. Do you think he can make you a living with that little pepperbox?” (both laughing) I don’t…You know it’s amazing how different little phrases and words kind of stick in your mind.
WOODLIFF: You know you forget a lot of things but all of a sudden you get to talking about something…
TAYLOR: Mm-hm.
WOODLIFF: And all of a sudden a few words pop up.
TAYLOR: Yeah. That’s the thing that makes it a pleasure to talk to people and help them recall things that have happened in the past. Well, I’m real interested about uh…your father. Now he was in fact…did he have a little photo shop or something while he was in Virginia City on his own. Do you know anything about where it was?
WOODLIFF: Nothing. I don’t think I can answer that. I don’t know…I uh….I just don’t know. I do know that he…he certainly took a…must have taken a lot of pictures up there because well you have that box of old glass slides. And I know that tons of them probably got lost.
TAYLOR: Yeah there must have been more.
WOODLIFF: This old building that I told ya…
TAYLOR: Mm-hm.
WOODLIFF: Was torn down.
TAYLOR: Mm-hm.
WOODLIFF: Uh. A lot of that stuff was in that building and what happened to it I don’t know. I understand this box of slides that you have now is at uh…you know Motor Supply was in one of the…when the building was torn down and I was out of town. They picked them up and Grace Kendrick is the one that…
TAYLOR: Hung onto them, yeah. They…
WOODLIFF: Hung onto them.
TAYLOR: She said they were sittin by the dumpster.
WOODLIFF: Yeah, isn’t that terrible.
TAYLOR: Well, it’s good actually. She found it.
WOODLIFF: Well I know. What I mean is terrible that things a lot of the things got lost…
TAYLOR: It’s terrible they got lost.
WOODLIFF: You know.
TAYLOR: That happens.
WOODLIFF: But uh, so I assume he uh…he did take a lot of pictures in Virginia City. How many uh…pictures…he took when he came to Fallon and…
TAYLOR: There’s only one.
WOODLIFF: How extensive his photographic business was I don’t know.
TAYLOR: Yeah. So there’s only one in the collection that we can identify as Fallon.
WOODLIFF: Oh yeah.
TAYLOR: There’s one on the Carson River and I’ll show you those. The rest of them are…we’re interested in them anyway…their mills or a mill in Virginia City. Around you know in the late 1890s I’m sure.
TAYLOR: It looks like their out of business. There’s not too many people around. It’s not a working mill and he’s going inside and taking pictures of the machinery. There’s steam equipment sitting right next to electric powered things. And it’s…really quite interesting.
WOODLIFF: I’m sure that all those are pictures of the mines and things of Virginia City.
TAYLOR: Oh, yeah. I perf…I should be able to identify the mill. Using some photograph…photographs from that area.
WOODLIFF: So I assume that he did take quite a number of pictures from Virginia City perhaps more than he took here in Fallon.
TAYLOR: Yeah. Well it looks to me like most of the stuff he did were portraits. At least in…there are some out of doors and some scenic shots but at least in the collections of things that we have they’re mostly portraits.
WOODLIFF: I wish that some of the things that I could’ve saved…and I don’t know where they we went to. They…he used to have those little round metallic things you know.
TAYLOR: Mm-hm.
WOODLIFF: And he’d take pictures and put the picture in there and pin them on. You know.
TAYLOR: Mm-hm.
WOODLIFF: And I don’t know…they used to have a whole box of that junk. And I don’t uh…
TAYLOR: You don’t have any of his cameras or anything like that?
WOODLIFF: You know…for the life of me I don’t know where his cameras went to.
TAYLOR: Mm-hm.
WOODLIFF: Um…I think he did…it seemed to me like he bought one camera from George Luke’s father or something like that. I don’t know. Uh…now I don’t know. Those cameras and stuff kicked around for a nu…uh sometime.
TAYLOR: Mm-hm.
3RD PERSON: Hi, sorry.
WOODLIFF: Where they are Sharon I don’t know. I don’t know what I did with them.
TAYLOR: Ok, we’ll take a little break now.


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.

Frank Woodliff, Jr., is a distinguished and gracious gentleman who walks with dignity and possesses a delightful sense of humor. On first contact one feels that he is aloof, but that is a false impression--he has difficulty hearing and as a result misses what is being said. However, once he realizes that you are talking to him his personality blossoms and he can reminisce for hours on the history of Fallon as he and his family lived it. He has a remarkable memory and a great sense of family pride.
When I arrived for our interview Frank was surrounded with memorabilia, all of museum quality. He had photographs on canvas of the original Woodliff Block Building as well as 1903 photographs of Fallon, part of an ancient family Bible and certificates of appreciation from every civic and fraternal organization in Fallon as well as the state of Nevada. He is a true archivist and I sincerely hope that his family appreciates the historical collection that is in his possession.
Frank and his wife, Elizabeth, live quietly in a lovely tree-surrounded home and they take great pride in their children and grandchildren. Frank goes to his office every morning, returns home promptly at noon to have lunch with Elizabeth and is off again to look after business affairs. One would never suspect that he is about to celebrate his eighty-first birthday!
His musical prowess is excellent, too, and after our interview I asked him to play the electric organ for me. He promptly sat down and played "September Song" and a number of other hits of the late 1930's and early 1940's. He still has a fine voice and could be vocalist for any musical group.
It was such a pleasure recording Frank's fascinating oral history that I find myself looking for an excuse to return to record the history of the Masonic Lodge in Fallon as narrated by Frank. He has promised to do this to add to the Churchill County Museum archives. Frank was a founding member of the Churchill County Museum Association and also served on the Churchill County Board of School Trustees from August, 1957, to January 7, 1963.
Interview with Frank Woodliff, Jr.
This is Marian Hennen LaVoy of the Churchill County Museum Oral History Project interviewing Frank Woodliff, Jr. at his home, 1955 Manchester Circle, Fallon. The date is June 6, 1991.
LaVOY: Good afternoon, Frank. We’ll see if we do a little better on todays recording than we did last week. Would you mind telling me the names of your grandparents and a little something about them?
WOODLIFF: My grandfather's name is Thomas Woodliff. He was born at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, July 22, 1837. My grandmother, Henrietta Morine Woodliff, was born at St. Louis, Missouri, June 13, 1844.
LaVOY: You know how they happened to come out to Nevada?
WOODLIFF: Now that I am not clear. I can't answer that. I don't know, but I suppose in years gone by, as the old saying goes, "Go West, young man, go West, young man," and I presume for business purposes they figured that this was the place to come.
LaVOY: What business were they in, do you have any idea at all?
WOODLIFF: My grandfather, Thomas Woodliff, Sr., was a pharmacist. The first drugstore was in Aurora, Nevada, 1863, and then he moved to Gold Hill, then to Virginia City, and then to Fallon in 1907.
LaVOY: Now your father was born sometime during this period of time. Can you tell me, was your father in Virginia City at all?
WOODLIFF: Yes, he lived in Virginia City and he was a photographer in Virginia City and then, of course, that's where he met my mother.
LaVOY: Give me your father's full name and when he was born.
WOODLIFF: My father's full name was Frank Woodliff and he was born May 26, 1871, in Colfax, California.
LaVOY: How did he happen to be in Colfax? Do you have any idea at all?
WOODLIFF: I presume that my grandfather and grandmother lived there at that particular time because Thomas Woodliff, Jr. was born in Dixon, California, so this would indicate that they were in that area. My grandmother is buried in California. I’m trying to think of the name. It's probably right close to Sacramento and that area, so I assume that that's where they lived before he came to Nevada.
LaVOY: Did your father ever tell you anything about the pharmacy in. Virginia City and where was it located?
WOODLIFF: The pharmacy, the drugstore, was located on what they call C Street in Virginia City.
LaVOY: Do you ever recall any stories at all about things that happened at the pharmacy?
WOODLIFF: No, that was a long time ago.
LaVOY: Your mother. Her name was what?
WOODLIFF: Jessie Mable Dick.
LAVOY: When was she and your father married?
WOODLIFF: They were married November 19, 1902
LaVOY: In Virginia City?
WOODLIFF: In Virginia City.
LaVOY: If your father was a photographer in Virginia City, are there any comments about his being a photographer prior to their marriage?
WOODLIFF: I think when my father asked for my mother's hand my mother's father made mention, he says, "Well, Jess, do you think that he can make a living with that little pepper box?" In those days you can recall that the cameras in those days were quite large. They were something like a square box, so I presume that that's the reason he made that comment. But I can remember them joking about that sort of thing.
LaVOY: If I recall correctly you mentioned that your mother's father drove teams of horses?
WOODLIFF: My mother's father, Thomas Dick, was a teamster and I was told that he hauled all the rich ore for the mines in Virginia City and I can recall them saying that he was the only one that could drive twenty-four head of horses. Of course they remained in the teaming business, as I recall. My grandfather and grandmother had three sons, there was a Robert Dick and then there were twins, Thomas and Arthur Dick and they all at one time participated in the teaming business.
LaVOY: Did they pass all away in the Virginia City area?
WOODLIFF: Yes, they passed away in Virginia City and they are all buried in the Virginia City cemetery.
LaVOY: Well, that's very interesting. Well, Frank, what prompted your mother and father to move to Fallon?
WOODLIFF: Well, I think my dad moved to Fallon in the early months of 1903 and I think the reason he moved to Fallon was on account of the Newlands Irrigation Project. They were working on the Lahontan Dam at that time and no doubt there were a lot of workmen and quite a little activity and I think he saw the opportunity to come to Fallon and open up a merchandising business.
LaVOY: He didn't keep on with his photography at that time?
WOODLIFF: I think if he did it was probably a sort of a sideline.
LaVOY: What kind of merchandising business did he start?
WOODLIFF: The sign on the early days stores was a novelty store, so a novelty store would mean general merchandise and things of that nature. Anything that could be sold, I'm sure that that's what he stocked.
LaVOY: Did he come to Fallon at first by himself?
WOODLIFF: Yes, yes. He came to Fallon in 1903 and started the business.
LaVOY: May I ask why your mother did not accompany him?
WOODLIFF: I think that my sister was about to be born. And she was born… she was born in August 27, 1903.
LaVOY: And what was her name?
WOODLIFF: Jessie Irene [Woodliff].
LaVOY: So she was born in Virginia City?
WOODLIFF: She was born in Virginia City and then my mother and my young sister came out to Fallon in, I believe around February, 1904.
LaVOY: And where did they live? Did you ever hear any stories about that?
WOODLIFF: At one time I know that they had a home on Stillwater Avenue and then in later years they had a home at 495 South Maine Street. There was a period of time when I was a young boy that we lived in back of the store due to the fact that business was very hard in those days and it was a struggle.
LaVOY: When were you born, Frank?
WOODLIFF: I was born July 13, 1910.
LaVOY: So your mother and father and sister lived on Stillwater when they first came to Fallon?
WOODLIFF: I think that would be a natural assumption. I'm sure of that.
LaVOY: You were born here in Fallon?
WOODLIFF: I was born in Fallon.
LaVOY: And your father still had the novelty store at that time?
LaVOY: Had your grandfather come to Fallon by that time?
WOODLIFF: Yes, my uncle and grandfather came to Fallon in 1907.
LaVOY: Which uncle was this?
WOODLIFF: This was Thomas Woodliff, Jr. In 1907, when they came to Fallon, at that time they joined together and the Woodliff Company Incorporated was founded.
LaVOY: In 1907?
WOODLIFF: In 1907, and at that time, why of course, they started various businesses.
LaVOY: What were some of these businesses?
WOODLIFF: My grandfather, being a pharmacist, why naturally he started a drugstore.
LaVOY: Where was it located?
WOODLIFF: I think the first one was located at 145 South Maine Street which is one of the buildings and stores that they had acquired.
LaVOY: And your father continued with the novelty store?
WOODLIFF: He continued with the novelty business.
LaVOY: Now when did you have to live in the back of this store? About how old were you?
WOODLIFF: I can’t fix a particular year but I can remember walking from that store to the old school on… on the west end of town. I think it was called the West End School at that time. So I was probably very young during that period of time. For most of my life I remember living at 495 S. Maine Street
LaVOY: Well, I’m particularly interested in this period when you lived behind the store. I believe you told me something about having the um….ah…wooden cartons?
WOODLIFF: Oh yeah. I can…I don’t know why I remember that but in the early days you know these 5 gallon square kerosene cans came to in a wood carton. I don’t know what happened to the kerosene but my father got a hold of 3 or 4 of those boxes and built a cupboard of these boxes and I can remember some sort of a drapery hanging over the front of them, I do remember that. I do remember Mr. Kholhoss ran a….. a uh…store in Fallon at that time, groceries and so on. And I do remember of him, of Mr. Kholhoss, delivering groceries in a horse and buggy and I do remember that. And my dad and Mr. Kholhoss became friends and uh…
LaVOY: Well now Frank. How many rooms were in the back of the store?
WOODLIFF:…Well it’s hard for me to remember. I don’t know, must’ve been at least 2 or 3 anyway. Probably.
LaVOY: Where did you sleep?
WOODLIFF: I can’t remember.
LaVOY: Was there a little porch or something on it?
WOODLIFF: I don’t think so. I don’t think so. That uh…that is not within my memory. But I….. you know when you look back into history it’s amazing how somethings stick in your mind, like the cupboard for instance and Mr. Kholhoss delivers the groceries but I’m… you get blank on the rest of it. You know.
LaVOY: Well that’s very understandable. Fallon had a tremendous fire I believe before you were born.
WOODLIFF: That’s right.
LaVOY: What did your father have to say about that and how did it affect your company?
WOODLIFF: That fire occurred in May, 1910, at which time the entire west side of Maine Street burned. There was a street there called First Street and my folks had some of their buildings, the little store, on the south of First Street and of course the fire occurred on the north of First Street. And I uh… Apparently in those days, without too much adequate fire equipment, why it probably was quite a large fire in those days. I can remember my father telling me that they didn't think it was going to jump First Street and catch onto their buildings and they made every effort, but it finally did and I think I can recall my dad telling me that they lost everything. Some of those buildings were burned.
LaVOY: Well, I understand that along with the Woodliff Building there were twelve other buildings that burned at that time.
WOODLIFF: That would be north of the First Street, yes.
LaVOY: Did your father have any insurance?
WOODLIFF: Well, that's the sad part. Things were tough in those days and you had to struggle and his insurance policy fell due and he says, "Oh I'll take care of her tomorrow or the next day," and as a result the insurance lapsed and he wound up without insurance for that fire. So that was another struggle they had to go through. I was told at one time that when a town is being built in the early days, everybody struggled. At one time I understand that they said, 'Well that Woodliff is just like a roly-poly. Ya' knock him down and he comes right back up again." So apparently that is quite evident because we're still in business after, what is it, about eighty-eight years or eighty-nine now.
LaVOY: Well, it speaks well for the stick-to-itiveness of the family. Now as a small boy, you told me something about a carnival coming to town. Will you explain that?
WOODLIFF: Yes, in the early days when a carnival would come to town they'd set up right in the middle of Maine Street, right in the middle of it and they'd take up the whole street.
LaVOY: About in what block?
WOODLIFF: Oh well, I can remember a merry-go-round right at where First Street is and in front of the present Western Hotel building [120 South Maine]. I can remember riding that merry-go-round. I believe it was either five cents or fifteen cents a ride. I can also remember a few tents in that particular area at which time they had different events inside the tents. I think they had maybe a dance floor in one of them.
LaVOY: Oh! Did circuses ever come to town?
WOODLIFF: Yes, there were times when a circus would probably come every year. I can remember when a circus… in the early days a circus would come to town by train. I forgot to tell you this the last time. That was a big event. Everybody would go down to the old depot and stand around and wait for the circus train to come. I can remember as a small boy two or three of us would put our ears down to the rail to see if we could hear the train telegraph through the tracks, "Yes, it's coming, yes, it's coming." and this and that.
LaVOY: Who were some of these boys, do you remember?
WOODLIFF: I can't remember who all the boys were, but I remember I was one of them. I can remember putting my ear down to the track. I know that. (laughing) So then the train would arrive and was that a big event! Of course the first things off of the train were the elephants and then they put the elephants to work pulling all the equipment and carriages and things of that nature. I can remember a lot of the carnivals would set up…the circus I should say… just north of-how do we refer to it now?-it used to be the Churchill County High School…but it’s the….
LaVOY: The Junior High School.
WOODLIFF: The Junior High School! [650 South Maine] Now. That's where a lot of the circuses would set up in the early days.
LaVOY: That was across from your home, wasn't it?
WOODLIFF: That was across from our old home at 495 South Maine. One time there was a circus that set up there and it so happened there was a very strong wind occurred and blew the tent down. There were ostriches and lions running all over town and that was excitement.
LaVOY: Well, my heavens, how did they catch them?
WOODLIFF: Well now that I don't know (laughing) but they did and everything turned out well and I can't recall of anyone being injured.
LaVOY: Were all you kids called home immediately because the lions were loose?
WOODLIFF: (laughing) I suppose, I suppose.
LaVOY: I hear that you were quite an elephant waterer. Can you tell me about that?
WOODLIFF: Well, at that was… I can remember one carnival came to town and the carnivals--well they used to set up on Maine Street-but this particular time they set up the carnival in back of Frazzini's furniture store [270 South Maine] and of course, two or three of us kids volunteered to water the elephants for a free pass to the carnival. Well, whenever we'd get one of those elephants watered and our back was turned, why they'd switch elephants on us and I didn't think we'd ever get those elephants watered. (laughing) But those things happened in the early days.
LaVOY: Well, you really earned your free ticket to that show.
WOODLIFF: We really earned our free tickets to that show, yeah.
LaVOY: You mentioned going down to the old depot. Approximately where was the old depot located?
WOODLIFF: Uh see the Old Depot was located…. Well, you go down Taylor Street to uh…
LaVOY: North on Taylor?
WOODLIFF: Go north on Taylor St. that is where the old depot was located. Let’s see…what was
LaVOY: Close to where Kennametal is now?
WOODLIFF: Yes, yeah that’s where Kennametal is right now. Only it would be just south of the Kennametal. There’s uh… trying to think of that place that’s being run now. Used to be a warehouse… Guy Wemple ran a warehouse there and that's where the depot was, on the east side of Taylor Street.
LAVOY: And now it has been moved to Whitaker.
WOODLIFF: Well, the old depot was moved over on Kaiser Street. And um…
LAVOY: When was it moved there?
WOODLIFF: Well, that's not too many years ago, but it was moved there and business was set up there. Someone tried to operate a bar and a restaurant for awhile and it didn't work and subsequently it was purchased by the people that own the present Depot and moved. Where they moved it to was a motel sitting there and the people, oh wait a minute the Beeghlys I think…
LAVOY: Owned the motel?
WOODLIFF: Yeah I think the Beeghlys owned the motel. It was sold or involved in the deal and the motel was torn down. The present Depot restaurant and casino was moved to that location and that's the old depot.
LAVOY: Oh I see!
WOODLIFF: I can remember when the old depot was down at the uh…I wish I can remember the name of that street…but down on Taylor Street. The Fallon Garage used to get… used to ship cars in by rail.
LaVOY: Is that the Coverston garage?
WOODLIFF: The Coverstons. And that was quite an event. All of us kids that were interested in cars would go down there and watch them unload those cars and they'd take them out of the boxcar and they'd run down that ramp, then they'd go get another one and run another one down the ramp and then they'd all tow them down to the Fallon Garage and get them ready for sale. I can remember that.
LaVOY: Were they Chevrolets?
WOODLIFF: Chevrolets, that's correct.
LaVOY: That's very interesting. Now, regressing a bit, after your family lost all of their property in the fire, when did they build your present building?
WOODLIFF: That was built…The hotel building was built in 1911.
LaVOY: Now Frank your building was built in 1911. Do you know who the contractors were?
WOODLIFF: No, I don't, but I can remember the name of Jimmy Orchard being mentioned who did construction work, other than I can't tell you.
LaVOY: Then in 1912, you built the M and G Building. What does that stand for?
WOODLIFF: The M and G Building stands for Maxwell and Gardner who owned the property that was purchased by the Woodliff Company and we have always designated that property as the M and G property.
LaVOY: What is that property now at this date?
WOODLIFF: At the present time, it is housing a good portion of the Fallon Nugget.
LaVOY: In other words, you own the land that part of the Nugget is under, is that correct'?
WOODLIFF: Oh, yes, we’ve…that’ve… they built that building in 1912.
LaVOY: Which building, Frank? Excuse me.
WOODLIFF: The M and G Building. But you see what has happened down through the years, if you will take a look, our south wall was demolished and a steel beam was put in there and then the Nugget has added on two other buildings. One is called the Jeffrey Building, the other was the old Palace Club and those buildings being all combined now form the present Nugget. Later on in years there was another little building that was built by a person by the name of Blanche Stanton and she had a little saloon and bar in there and it was called Frankie's Club. So then the Lauf Corporation came along and bought that and then opened up one of those walls and Frankie's Club is now the present Steak House of the Fallon Nugget.
LaVOY: Now going south where the Sagebrush is, was the Sagebrush part of the M and G?
WOODLIFF: No. The Sagebrush, I think, was built later. You must remember that all those buildings were lost in the fire. So then all that property along that section of Maine Street had to be rebuilt.
LaVOY: Very interesting. Now, when your family built the building in 1911, what stores were in it?
WOODLIFF: The south building was a clothing store operated by my uncle, Thomas Woodliff, Jr. and Thomas Woodliff, Sr. The north building was my grandfather's drugstore. On the window it indicates Thomas Woodliff Pharmacy. The clothing building, the name on the window is Thomas Woodliff and Son.
LaVOY: Oh, I see. Did you have rooms upstairs at that time?
WOODLIFF: The building originally was designed for offices upstairs but at that particular time there wasn't too much of demand for offices. A lady came along by the name of Mrs. Melton and she leased the top floor and ran a rooming house up there. In the early days there were little wood stoves in each one of those, it was kinda old fashioned. She ran that as a rooming house for a good many years. Do you want me to go on? (nod) In 1930, her lease expired and my dad saw the need for a small hotel in Fallon, so at that particular time he completely remodeled the top floor. The rooms were too large, they weren't modern, the top floor was completely remodeled and made more modern for that particular time. Where the name Western came from, Mrs. Melton always called it the Western Rooming House. I have out in the garage the big glass ball that says "rooms". We saved that. So anyway…so then when they remodeled it and opened it up in October, 1930, as a small hotel, the name "Western" was retained and it was called the Western Hotel.
LaVOY: And did your father run that or did he have a manager?
WOODLIFF: Yes, I think that he had a manager at that particular time but of course he was over there most of the time. I was taking care of the merchandise business at that time. I graduated from high school in 1928, and of course we opened up the hotel in 1930.
LAVOY: Now Frank, we've jumped ahead just a little bit. I'd like to regress once again and I'd like to go back to your early years in school in Fallon where you mentioned that you were at the West End School. Where did you go from there?
WOODLIFF: The first school I can remember of going to was the school over where the present Cottage School is located. There was a brick school over there that I can recall going to. Subsequently it has been torn down and the Cottage Schools are now built there.
LaVOY: Now, excuse me just a minute. Is that the school that the fire escape was a very high slide that half the people were scared to death to go down?
WOODLIFF: Can't remember that.
LaVOY: All right, I had heard that and I just wondered if you remembered. Continue on, Frank.
WOODLIFF: The next school I can remember going to was the West End School that's, again, an old brick school, subsequently torn down and the new West End School built. I can remember going there and then, of course the next school that I went to was the grammar school. It's located close to the present junior high school which I understand is now condemned and they are not using it.
LaVOY: That would be the Oats Park School?
WOODLIFF: Oats Park School, that's it, but I understand it's condemned now.
LaVOY: Who were some of your teachers there that you recall?
WOODLIFF: Laura Mills, of course. I believe there was a school teacher with the name of Miss Burnette. Oh, yeah, I can remember Theo Wightman who was a penmanship teacher.
LaVOY: Is that where you learned your lovely penmanship?
WOODLIFF: That is where I learned my penmanship and I always got good grades in penmanship. (laughing)
LAVOY: (Laughing) That’s good.
WOODLIFF: Oh! Then there was my music teacher, Harold Johnson. I was learning to play the viplin and he taught me violin and I played in the school orchestra. Then, of course, when I went to high school I still played in the high school orchestra, became lead violinist, by the way. (laughing).
LaVOY: That's wonderful. Was Cousie Nelson your teacher at that time?
WOODLIFF: No, she wouldn't be my teacher.
LaVOY: That was before her years there. Who were some of your friends in school?
WOODLIFF: Some of my closest friends that I ran around with, of course, Francis Wildes, we were very close, there was Merle Williams, there was Beale Cann. Those are the three that come to my mind. Oh, Hammie Kent, Wayne Van Voorhis who lived just across the street from uh…and Bruce Van Voorhis, Connie Phillips [Walters] was in my class. We graduated together.
LaVOY: I wanted to ask you, you mentioned the names Van Voorhis, could you tell me something about the one that was killed during the war?
WOODLIFF: They lived right in back of our house and the back of our house was a great big lot. We still own those two lots, by the way. We used to play baseball and things out in that lot and I remember playing with Bruce and Wayne Van Voorhis. Both those boys were called to duty during the war period.
LaVOY: World War II?
WOODLIFF: World War II. Wayne, I believe, died in the Philippines. He was captured and that's what happened to him. Bruce Van Voorhis turned out to be a pilot and he was assigned to duty to bomb some target and in order to accomplish his mission he dove with his airplane right square into the target and was killed. I think you'll find that that's the reason why our present naval base east of town is called the Van Voorhis Field. It was named after Bruce.
LaVOY: And these were friends of yours?
WOODLIFF: These were friends of mine. We were kids together. We played together.
LaVOY: One little story that you told me that I'd like to have you record is the punishment that you had that you had to sit with one of the girls.
WOODLIFF: Well, I can remember when I was going to Oats Park School, I don't know what grade it was. Oh, I suppose I was cutting up and my punishment was to sit with a girl and I was supposed to sit with Louisa Frazzini, who is still a resident of Fallon, by the way, her name is Louisa Beeghly now, and that was supposed to be my punishment but it wasn't too much of a punishment for me. (laughing)
LaVOY: In other words you enjoyed your punishment.
WOODLIFF: I enjoyed my punishment.
LaVOY: (laughing) You showed me a picture that I thought was very funny that was taken quite a number of years ago of a man fishing in the street. Would you tell us about that?
WOODLIFF: I have a picture in hand at the moment and it's dated April 30, 1911. This was right in the middle of Maine Street and it's a very large pond and I think what happened was some of the business people along the street were trying to needle the city to fix the street. So uh…There was an old character in Fallon and he was called Hoppy Joe. Why he was called that name I don't know. They sat him next to this pond on a stool with a fishing pole in hand and he was making motions about catching fish in this mudhole right in the middle of the Maine Street. I think that was the purpose of that picture.
LaVOY: Well, did the city fathers repair the street, I hope?
WOODLIFF: I assume that they did.
LaVOY: Frank, what were some of the games that you and your friends played at school?
WOODLIFF: I can remember when I was a young boy some of us kids used to play a game called Hare and Hound. That game is a game where you cut up small pieces of paper and then two or three of the kids will set out and they'll throw this paper to sorta make a trail. Then fifteen, twenty minutes later, why two of the other three kids are supposed to follow this trail and see if they can find you and we called that Hare and Hound. That took place in the early days when I was young, just north of the present Churchill County Junior High School. That was all vacant land in that time and I think it was called the Verplank addition. There was sagebrush there, well there was nothing. It was wild and we kids played those games in that area.
LaVOY: Well, that Hare and Hound would be fine if you didn't have a windstorm blowing.
WOODLIFF: That would be true.
LaVOY: Did you play baseball too?
WOODLIFF: We played baseball in back of our home at 495 Maine Street, as I previously stated, with Wayne and Bruce and some of the other kids in the neighborhood.
LaVOY: How did you celebrate your holidays as a kid?
WOODLIFF: (laughing) Well, you know, I can't recall holidays.
LaVOY: Was there always a Christmas tree in the middle of Maine Street or is that something new?
WOODLIFF: Christmas tree in the middle of Maine Street was in later years and it was started by an organization known as the Knights of Pythias.
LaVOY: Now was the old watering trough in the middle of the street then too?
WOODLIFF: The watering trough was in the middle of the street at that particular time and it was located almost adjacent to the present courthouse and the Texaco station, right in that area and that watering trough they had, water on the lower portion of it for dogs and for the horses there were troughs on the top side of it.
LaVOY: Whatever happened to that? Who put it in and whatever happened to it?
WOODLIFF: I can't tell you who put it in but I suppose when they modernized the streets and they wanted to hardtop them and things like that, well you know what happens to all those good things when a town is growing and modernized. They go, just like the trees on Williams Avenue which a lot of we old-timers almost cried when they took those trees down. But now that they're down why after a number of years you don't miss them, but a lot of the old-timers didn't like that.
LaVOY: Frank, were there trees on Maine Street?
WOODLIFF: I can't recall any trees on Maine Street.
LaVOY: In the business section?
WOODLIFF: In the business section.
LaVOY: I just wondered.
WOODLIFF: I think maybe a block or so away there may have been some, but I can’t… within my memory I can't [remember] I do remember that on the east side of Maine Street there were no sidewalks, but there was a boardwalk and I can remember just as a little kid I was on that boardwalk and Ernie Hursh was riding his bicycle and he ran into me and cut my lip. I can (laughing) remember that. Right here, too.
LaVOY: (laughing) About how old was he?
WOODLIFF: He was just a young fellow. I don't know how old he was but I wasn't very old. I don't suppose I was over six or seven, something like that.
LAVOY: Goodness gracious. What vacation trips did you and your family take or were you too busy enmeshed with the businesses to ever take a vacation?
WOODLIFF: I can remember that we used to take trips to Lake Tahoe and camp up there for a week.
LaVOY: What area of Lake Tahoe?
WOODLIFF: Incline. I understand that in the early days the Dick family owned property at Incline. I'm sure that's true but we never visited that place. I think Bijou, I guess it was that we used to go to I think, right in that area.
LAVOY: That would be a little farther on the south side of the Lake. Did you bring your own tent?
WOODLIFF: Oh, yeah, we'd set up a tent and everything and we'd stay up there for about a week and then come back home.
LAVOY: What kind of a car did you go up in?
WOODLIFF: Our first automobile, believe it or not, was a old 490 Chevrolet and my dad bought from it from Coverston Garage and as I recall he paid five hundred dollars for it. Now let’s see…wait a minute…
LAVOY: I think he paid four hundred and ninety for it, didn't he? Isn't that the reason that it had that number on it?
WOODLIFF: No, the model number was a 490 and maybe you're right, it might be 490 or 495 and maybe that's the reason that it was named the 490, but I do remember 490.
LaVOY: What color was it?
WOODLIFF: I think it was black, but, you know, those in the early days they didn't have a top to them. It was all cloth top, you know, and one thing and another. I was thirteen years old and I was learning to drive that thing. I can remember one year going to Lake Tahoe, we loaded up that old 490 and we went up the hill to Lake Tahoe. I couldn't drive, but I knew how to drive, so my sister drove and I sat in the front seat and I remember telling her, "Now shift into second, now shift into low, now do this," and we got there. On the way back one time, I think we came through Virginia City and we came down through Silver City and down into the highway there and we were going across this little road and there was a jackrabbit ran out in front of the car and my sister, "ah-h-h-." She got… threw her hands up and the car went off in the sagebrush. I can remember that. (laughing) I just thought of that too.
LaVOY: (laughing) Were you able to get it out of the sagebrush?
WOODLIFF: Oh, yes, yes, no problem, and we came on home, but I do remember that.
LaVOY: That's wonderful. Now we're going to skip a little bit and put you back in high school. What were some of the activities besides playing in the orchestra that you were involved in in high school?
WOODLIFF: Of course I spent a lot of my spare time in the band and in the orchestra. I can remember being in some of the high school plays and one thing and another. Other than that why I can't think of too many activities.
LaVOY: Was Mr. Cracken the principal when you were there?
WOODLIFF: Mr. McCracken was the principal and he was a good one.
LaVOY: Tell me something about some of his rules.
WOODLIFF: Well…Let's see if I can remember some of them. I don't know if I can remember any.
LaVOY: Did they have a dress code?
WOODLIFF: I think that they did, yes. Fortunately.
LaVOY: Who were some of your teachers in high school?
WOODLIFF: I can remember Eunice Allen who was Lem's [Allen] sister teaching Spanish and I think I took two years of Spanish. Mr. McCracken, I took math from him and he was good. He was a good principal and a good teacher.
LaVOY: Did he marry one of the teachers at the school?
WOODLIFF: Yes, he did, Olive Wolcott, wasn't it?
LaVOY: I'm not certain. Were you active in athletics of any variety at that time?
WOODLIFF: No, I was not athletically inclined. I spent most of my time in orchestras and bands and things of that nature.
LaVOY: Well, I understand you were quite a tennis player. When did you take that up?
WOODLIFF: Oh, that was after I got out of school and was in business. Yes, I used to love to play tennis. In fact, one time I was president of the Fallon Tennis Club.
LaVOY: Oh, when was this?
WOODLIFF: I don't know what year. Oh, I can remember playing tennis with . . . oh, of course, all the Millses were avid tennis players. May Mills turned out to be a very good tennis player, there was Catherine Mills, Betty Mills. Oh…Oh, you asked me who that Mills boy's name was and it maybe be coming... There was a Gordon Mills, but Gordon Mills is the one that got in an accident and broke his back. That Mills boy-he was a good tennis player too. He was good. I remember playing with Doug Hoover. He was a good tennis player.
LaVOY: And where was the tennis court?
WOODLIFF: The tennis court that we played in and used at that time was down at the Oats Park School. I can remember we had a box there and we had what we called a tennis ladder and I'd take those little popsicle sticks and I'd drill holes in each one of them and then put your name on that and you could move them back and forth on your ladder. As we won our matches, we'd step up a notch or we'd go down a notch however.
LaVOY: Oh! Well, that is very, very interesting. Finishing with your high school years now, when did you graduate from high school?
WOODLIFF: I graduated in 1928.
LaVOY: You did not go on to school? You joined your father in business?
WOODLIFF: I joined my father in business at that time.
LaVOY: And what were your responsibilities?
WOODLIFF: All the responsibilities of helping to run the store and things of that nature. When I was a little kid and my dad was in the merchandising business I can remember putting the toys together and stuff like that, but that's when I was little. After I graduated my high school why, of course, the responsibilities were different than putting toys together. (laughing)
LaVOY: Did you have an appliance shop too or something?
WOODLIFF: Yes, I sold appliances and musical instruments, phonograph records. I had some sporting goods, guns, tennis racquets, things of that nature.
LaVOY: Was this store in the same building that you are still in?
WOODLIFF: No, we had…we had an merchan…when I went into the business our merchandising business was at 145 Maine Street and then, I think we moved across the street and used the M and G property as a larger appliance store but that didn't work well because in those days ladies were fearful of walking down on the west side of Maine Street.
LaVOY: For what reason?
WOODLIFF: For the reason that there were no doubt two or three saloons and that wasn't appropriate for ladies. However, that condition doesn't exist today. So that ended that store. Then I think let’s see then I think we went into the uh… My sister and brother-in-law opened up an ice cream parlor and a sort of a restaurant in the hotel building and it was called the Lyric Ice Cream Parlor.
LaVOY: What part of the building?
WOODLIFF: It was the south room formerly occupied by the Thomas Woodliff and Son Clothing. And then uh…
LaVOY: Excuse me. Who did your sister marry?
WOODLIFF: She married a fellow by the name of George Bunton.
LaVOY: Was she married in Fallon?
WOODLIFF: She was married in Fallon, yes.
LaVOY: In what year, do you recall?
WOODLIFF: Not offhand. I should remember but I can’t put my hand on it right now.
LaVOY: About how old was she when she married? Had she graduated from high school?
WOODLIFF: Oh, yes. She graduated from high school and it's kind of a funny thing too. I didn't go to college and I suppose I could have, and my sister, Jessie wanted to go to college but those weren't the things for girls to go to in those days. Anyway, she got a job in the Churchill County Bank as secretary to Mr. [Ernest] Blair and my sister was quite efficient in everything that she did and she turned out to be an excellent, excellent secretary. And this George Bunton came to Fallon. He played trombone. Oh, you know how those things happen. He got to playing with us in the band, the trombone, and that apparently is how he met my sister and they got married. Then they opened up the Lyric Ice Cream Parlor. One time I had my sheet music, records, radios and appliances on the south side of the ice cream parlor in the same location.
LaVOY: Oh. What happened to your sister?
WOODLIFF: She passed away giving birth to a child.
LaVOY: That's very tragic.
WOODLIFF: It was the big tragedy in our family. My mother just couldn't stand it.
LaVOY: And her health failed after that?
WOODLIFF: And her health failed.
LaVOY: Well, with you having all this sheet music and everything, did your band play at graduation from high school? It must have.
WOODLIFF: We didn't play at a graduation ceremony if that's what you mean, but we used to play for the high school dances. You mentioned Mr. McCracken at one time. We played for the high school dances in that area and of course we played on the stage. The old high school has a stage and we played there and we were supposed to quit at midnight and if you knew Mr. McCracken, you quit at midnight. And fact of the matter is that at five minutes to twelve you'd find the lights blinking and at five minutes to twelve we'd go into our last tune, "Goodnight Sweetheart”- or something like that, you know, and at midnight sharp it was over.
LaVOY: The lights went out. (laughing)
WOODLIFF: It was over.
LaVOY: Did you continue playing with the band?
WOODLIFF: During my band careers--we're talking about dance bands now, not municipal bands--we had several bands. This band that used to play for the high school dances, it was called The Junior Five.
LaVOY: Who was in it?
WOODLIFF: Louise Witherspoon was the piano player and I played the banjo and guitar. Clarence Byrd was the saxophone, Gary Callahan was the drummer. At that period of time I can't remember who else was in it. Do you? No that was another band. And uh oh…I used to play in the dance band--I believe we called it the Marsh-Woodliff Band. There was Cecil Marsh who was the piano player and Harry Marsh was the drummer and of course I was the guitar player and violin and banjo.
LaVOY: I hear you sang too.
WOODLIFF: Well, yes, I did.
LaVOY: You were the soloist with the group.
WOODLIFF: I was the vocalist in the band. Believe it or not. (laughing)
LaVOY: That's amazing.
WOODLIFF: (laughing) You can't believe all those things, can you? One pretty good band we were in was called The Stompers: The Dance Band With the Punch. This Stompers: The Dance Band With the Punch, we'd go all over. We played in Lovelock, we played the Portuguese celebration in Lovelock a couple of times, we played in Yerington, we played in Hawthorne. Well, Elizabeth [Underhill] remembers that. We used to bundle her up and one of the other girls and then we…remember we went to Hawthorne and played at the Marine base there. The Army in Hawthorne. And, of course, all of them wanted to dance with Elizabeth and the other girl…who was the other girl?
3rd party in the background: Helen Robinson.
WOODLIFF: Oh Helen Robinson. Yeah, Monty [Robinson] was the drummer. Then of course we uh…
LaVOY: Now,what era was that particular band? Approximately what years?
WOODLIFF: I'm terrible on years. In the 1930's, in that area somewhere. The biggest band I've played in was called the Fallon Serenaders. That was a pretty good band. We had eight…eight in that band.
LaVOY: Who were some of them, do you recall?
WOODLIFF: Yes, the trombonist was George Bunton, my sister's husband, and then there was Darrell Barry…
LAVOY: We ended there with your mentioning…I think Mr. Barry was the last name you mentioned. But would you start over again and give me the names of the Fallon Serenaders and what instruments did they play.
WOODLIFF: Uh yes. Um…the band at that time was called the Fallon Serenaders. George Bunton was the trombonist, and then there was Darrell Barry the trumpet player, there was William Winder--we called him Bill-with the bass horn, Gary Callahan on the drums, myself on the banjo, Louise Witherspoon played piano and then there was Vernon Mills on the saxophones and clarinet and Clarence Byrd, the saxophones. That composed the Fallon Serenaders which was one of the better bands that I played in.
LaVOY: Now, where did you play? Where did you go?
WOODLIFF: We played for most of the dances around Fallon.
LaVOY: What buildings were they held in?
WOODLIFF: The Fallon Fraternal Hall Building [39 South Maine] which was built in 1926 and it was dedicated I believe on February 4. We played a lot of dances in that building. Those were the things that people did in those days, dance, but they got other things to do today.
LaVOY: What did you get paid for playing?
WOODLIFF: It varied. Sometimes they would hire us and I can't recall how much we'd get, but I do remember that there were times when we would give a dance. The band would sponsor it. It depended upon how many turned out. I can remember playing all night for five dollars.
LaVOY: Oh, my goodness!
LaVOY: By all night, when did the dance start and when did it end?
WOODLIFF: It would start at nine o’clock and end at two in the morning with a half an hour off at midnight. During that recess of a half-hour most of them would go across the street to the restaurant. There was a Mission Cafe in the M and G Building, by the way, that was run by a Chinaman by the name of Wong and he ran that restaurant in the M and G Building for seventeen years.
LaVOY: They'd go over and have something to eat.
WOODLIFF: Something to eat, come back at 12:30 and we'd start over again. Oh! There were times if there was enough crowd and one thing another they'd take up a collection, we'd play for another hour until three o'clock. Things like that.
LaVOY: You were a bachelor at this point in time. Were you dating anyone?
WOODLIFF: Well . . .(laughing)
LaVOY: Are you not telling?
WOODLIFF: Well I'm trying to (laughing) think. I don't know. We were married in this period. Weren’t we? (Assume asking his wife) I think we were.
LaVOY: Well, I notice in this picture that you were showing me of yourself with The Fallon Serenaders, you're so very, very thin. Had you been ill?
WOODLIFF: Yes, there was a period of time when I had a little problem but it got corrected.
LaVOY: What was the problem?
WOODLIFF: Now I'm fat and sassy.
LaVOY: Well, that's true, but… (laughing)
WOODLIFF: (laughing)
LaVOY: What was your problem?
WOODLIFF: Well, I understand that I had a busted blood vessel in one of my lungs and it had to be cured.
LaVOY: Did you go to a doctor here in Fallon?
WOODLIFF: They took me to San Francisco and I was down there in the hospital for a week. My aunt lived down there at that time.
LaVOY: What was her name?
WOODLIFF: Her name was Clara Woodliff Brown. So we stayed down there for maybe two or three weeks before I came home.
LaVOY: Just something that I happened to think about, this period we are up to 1932. Was your grandfather still living at that time? Thomas Woodliff?
WOODLIFF: No, my grandfather… died in 1919.
LaVOY: Is he buried here in Fallon?
WOODLIFF: Yes. Trying to look at the date on that.
LaVOY: Where were your mother and father living at this point in time?
WOODLIFF: They were living at 495 Maine Street.
LaVOY: And you were living at home too?
LaVOY: And your sister was married and living elsewhere?
LaVOY: Alright well now. When did you meet your wife, Elizabeth? You are looking so perplexed I am wondering here.
WOODLIFF: Well, let's see what we can do with that one. It seems to me that when I was a young fellow we had a Buick that was pretty slick in those days and it had a spare tire on each front fender well and they were all wire wheels and they were yellow. I had a radio in that car, in fact, I think it might be said that I had the first car radio in town. That car with the radio had a pretty good pick up . .
LaVOY: (laughing) You're speaking of girls, I'm assuming.
WOODLIFF: (laughing) And I think I picked up Elizabeth one time and that's how we got acquainted, I think. I'm not sure. Of course that uh…
LaVOY: What is Elizabeth's maiden name?
WOODLIFF: Elizabeth Belle Underhill. [born August 1, 1914]
LaVOY: Did she live in the Fallon area?
WOODLIFF: She lived in the Fallon area and at that particular time, she lived in a house right next to the present Churchill County Junior High School.
LaVOY: Oh, in other words, you had a girlfriend right across the street.
WOODLIFF: That's correct.
LaVOY: That's great. Tell me a little bit about your courtship.
WOODLIFF: There isn't too much to tell. We kept going together, of course.
LaVOY: Did you go out to dinner or take her dancing? Or she…well you must not been much fun for dances playing the instruments.
WOODLIFF: That was kind of difficult at that time because when I played for dances, why it was difficult. But I think she managed.
LaVOY: Where did you propose to her? In this fancy Buick?
WOODLIFF: Well, I can't remember that one, but anyway it happened.
LaVOY: And where were you married?
WOODLIFF: We were married in Fallon, Nevada.
LaVOY: When?
WOODLIFF: August 24, 1932.
LaVOY: And where were you married?
WOODLIFF: We were married by a minister by the name of Stephen C. Thomas and he married us in the house that is presently occupied. I think that was where the minister lived, and is presently occupied now by the real estate office across from…I can’t remember… right across from where the Widmer accountant [585 West Williams Avenue] is located right now.
LaVOY: Was that a church?
WOODLIFF: No, it wasn't a church, it was a residence. He lived there, it was a parsonage.
LaVOY: What denomination was it?
WOODLIFF: Methodist Church.
LaVOY: And where'd you go on your honeymoon?
WOODLIFF: We took off …
LaVOY: In the Buick …
WOODLIFF: in the Buick for Oakland. Our family used to go down to Oakland every year, I believe in the month August. In August in the Mosswood Park was always a picnic and a party of Virginia City that lived in Oakland. They called all Virginia City people, you know, hot water plugs.
LaVOY: No, I didn't know that.
WOODLIFF: Didn't you know that? Yeah, they called them all hot water plugs and, of course, my folks accompanied us because they wanted to go the picnic. The first night we stayed at the Clune Hotel in Sacramento and then the next day we went on to Oakland. Those picnics at Mosswood Park were quite a revelation, I'll tell ya'. All those Virginia City people--it'd be a year or so before they'd see each other and I used to get a kick out of it. "Well, how are ya'." " Well, gee whiz, I haven't seen you," oh-h-h, and they'd just go through all that stuff; you know, and it was quite an event for those people so that's what we did and we stayed in Oakland for a week. You know the funny part of it was…
LaVOY: Do you remember the name of the hotel or did you stay with relatives?
WOODLIFF: We stayed at the St. Mark's Hotel where we would always stay when we would go there. Of course, we were always fond of tamales and the first place we'd head for was Bello's Tamale Parlor. The kind of amusing part of it, I (laughing) have to laugh at this, all I had at that particular time in my pocket was ninety dollars. Boy that took a lot of nerve.
LaVOY: Yes, but you must remember that that was right in the middle of the depression.
WOODLIFF: That is very true and I can remember, I think I bought a suit and Elizabeth bought some kind of a suit too and I think we got home and still had a few bucks left.
LaVOY: My goodness!
WOODLIFF: My goodness is right. You couldn't say good morning for ninety dollars today, you know.
LaVOY: Did your parents return home with you or had they returned earlier?
WOODLIFF: No, I think we all came home together 'cause we only had one car in those days.
LaVOY: Who were your attendants at your wedding--you didn't mention that.
WOODLIFF: It would be my sister and her husband, Jessie and George Bunton.
LaVOY: You returned home and where did you set up your first home? Was it in the hotel?
WOODLIFF: Well, as I recall, the first three months we lived with my parents at 495 South Maine Street. Then we decided to move to the Western Hotel--we had an apartment there-and I would take care of the merchandising business in the daytime and my folks would take care of the hotel in the daytime and then after the store was closed why we would take care of the hotel at night. We did that for three years as I recall. Then we had a home at 680 Douglas Street, one of our homes owned by the company. We lived in that for a number of years and we kept fixing it up, too. There's a little story, too, about that house. The house had an old wood cook stove, it had an old wood refrigerator that used a cake of ice and it had a small fireplace in the living room. We struggled along with those things for awhile. I was selling appliances at that time and finally we bought us an electric range, electric refrigerator and an oil heater and, of course, conditions being as they were in those days, I had to buy those luxuries on time and I can recall paying nine dollars and thirty-two cents a month to the bank. Mr. Haworth was, at that time the cashier of the bank, the head of the bank and so I put those on a contract and paid nine dollars (laughing) and thirty-two cents a month. And I'm telling you, when we got that refrigerator and that electric range and that oil heater, we were living.
LaVOY: Well, I imagine. My word.
WOODLIFF: We were living! (laughing)
LaVOY: I believe you told me a story about when you lived at the hotel that sometimes in the evenings you would play for a band across the street and then when the break came you had to stop to take in the money. I guessed that it was at the ice cream parlor.
WOODLIFF: That is correct.
LaVOY: Tell me a little bit about that.
WOODLIFF: Well, I think that situation happened after my sister passed away and we fell heir to the ice cream parlor. I think that's how that particular thing happened. So I was involved in that too. When I played for dances, at midnight, as I previously mentioned, everyone would go someplace and either have something to eat or an ice cream soda or a milkshake or something like that, so then I would go across the street and take the cash in the cash register 'cause we were busy, everybody'd flock in there for that sort of thing, so I would take the cash from twelve to twelve thirty and then I would leave and go back on the bandstand and finish the dance job.
LaVOY: Where did you put the cash?
WOODLIFF: In the cash register.
LaVOY: Well, you mean, you just left it there in the cash register? Or did you put it in a safe someplace?
WOODLIFF: Probably after I got through with the bandstand we came back and closed up and the money was put in the safe.
LaVOY: Well, you were a busy bee.
WOODLIFF: I put in my time. (laughing)
LaVOY: (laughing) Your mentioning this Buick car, what was the next car that you were able to buy, do you recall at all?
WOODLIFF: I think we may have traded that in on a La Salle which was made by the Cadillac company and I think that that La Salle at that time was fourteen hundred and ninety-five dollars. That would be in 1937 because I remember we had that La Salle when my sister passed away. I can remember driving into Reno. We finally had to take my sister into Reno and she couldn't be saved and I can remember driving that La Salle at that particular time.
LaVOY: You went into the Reno hospital?
WOODLIFF: Yes, but it was too late, peritonitis had set in.
LaVOY: Well, that is indeed very tragic. This La Salle, what color was it?
WOODLIFF: Black, that was the going color in those days. Wouldn't have one as a gift today. (laughing)
LaVOY: (laughing) You have to wash them too often. Now when was your first child born?
WOODLIFF: Our first child was born December 16, 1938. She was born in Reno by Caesarian birth.
LAVOY: What was her name?
WOODLIFF: Deanna Gail.
LaVOY: That's Deanna Knowles Diehl.
LaVOY: When was your son born?
WOODLIFF: My son was born February 22, 1946, again in Reno and another Caesarian.
,LaVOY: Oh I see. Now, what was your son's name?
WOODLIFF: My son's name is Frank Woodliff III.
LaVOY: Is he active with you in the business?
WOODLIFF: Yes, both my children are involved in the business. I think it was, in 1974 we formed a partnership and it's a family partnership. It consists of myself, Elizabeth, Deanna, and Frank and down through the years we have given them a certain percentage of the business so that they could become involved in it.
LaVOY: When did your parents pass away, Frank?
WOODLIFF: My father, Frank Woodliff, Sr.. died in February [14], 1944, and my mother [Jessie Mable Dick] passed away March 10, 1964.
LaVOY: Your father preceded your mother in death by quite a number of years, didn't he?
WOODLIFF: Yes, yes.
LaVOY: Is your father buried in the cemetery here?
WOODLIFF: Yes, and so is my mother and so is my sister.
LaVOY: Did your mother continue to live by herself after he passed away or did you move in with her?
WOODLIFF: Most of the years since my sister passed away she was in rest homes and convalescent centers of that nature until she finally gave up.
LaVOY: That is indeed a very sad, very sad story.
WOODLIFF: Yes, it was one of the tragedies of our family.
LaVOY: Moving into something a little more, I won't say pleasant, but something going back--Fallon had a tremendous earthquake. How did that affect your business?
WOODLIFF: The first earthquake was in 1954 and we had just built the Western Motel in 1953. We happened to be at Lake Tahoe when that first earthquake hit and Elizabeth's mother was taking care of the motel while we were up there.
LaVOY: What was her name?
WOODLIFF: Ada Belle Sutton. We had a summer home at Lake Tahoe and we happened to be there at that time.
LaVOY: And where was the summer home?
WOODLIFF: At King's Beach [Lake Tahoe, California]. And I can recall the telephone ringing at six o'clock in the morning telling us about the earthquake. Immediately we packed up, of course, and came home. That…we had…Well of course the hotel building was damaged, the store across the street at 145 Maine Street was damaged, the M and G property was damaged, so we had our hands full restoring all that. On the hotel building there was a sort of a parapet on the top of the structure which was quite heavy and we had to change the appearance of the hotel building. That was all torn off and I estimate that about twenty ton of the weight was taken off of the building by changing that appearance. We did lose the name of the hotel building and so on but we felt that that had to be done. What we did by tearing off that top parapet of the hotel building we were able to run steel down through the cement blocks and pour them all full of concrete. Actually the building is probably stronger now than when it was originally built, but that's the reason why the appearance was changed.
LaVOY: You lost the words: "The Woodliff Block"?
WOODLIFF: That's right, 1911, we lost that word, the designation of the structure.
LaVOY: Who did the work at taking that all down and clearing up?
WOODLIFF: There was a contractor in Fallon by the name of Beryl Bliss and he did that.
LaVOY: How about your Western Motel that was in the back there, did it have any damage at all?
WOODLIFF: Very slight damage. It was a newer construction, of course.
LaVOY: Now, we didn't go into your building, what had been in that property prior to your building the motel.
WOODLIFF: Prior to building the motel there was the old Rex Theatre. It was a wooden structure and in the early days they had movies in there and one thing or another. So when we built the motel it had to be sold or torn down.
LaVOY: You owned the land for that or purchased it?
WOODLIFF: No, we've always owned the land for many, many years. In fact, we own most of that whole block back there where the motel is. But we had to tear down the old theatre building in order to build the motel.
LaVOY: And was this same man the contractor on the motel too?
WOODLIFF: Yes, Beryl Bliss built the original structure. The original structure of the motel was ten units plus the manager's apartment.
LaVOY: And what is it now?
WOODLIFF: In 1969, we decided to add on and we built an east wing of nine units plus the laundry and the utility room. We built a manager's apartment and also put in a swimming pool. At the present moment the motel is twenty-two units plus the manager's apartment and the swimming pool.
LaVOY: The M and G building, what damage was done to that?
WOODLIFF: Mostly on the front of the building. Some of the cement blocks on the top of the building fell off and it was not a serious problem like the hotel building was.
LaVOY: Now, I don't mean to be facetious but with your poor grandfather and father not having any insurance at the time of the fire, I hope that you had kept your policies up.
WOODLIFF: There's no insurance on earthquakes.
LaVOY: Oh, for heaven's sakes! So you're back to the roly-poly starting all over again.
WOODLIFF: Back to the roly-poly stage.
LaVOY: That is indeed very sad.
WOODLIFF: Insurance on earthquake is prohibitive.
LaVOY: Oh, I see. Well, now, Frank, we've got your business pretty well covered but I understand that you at one time were a city councilman. How did that happen?
WOODLIFF: Well, that was in [April 16] 1946 and I believe that Joe Jarvis was a councilman in ward three at that time and of course, we living at 495 Maine Street, we were also in ward three so when Mr. Jarvis passed away I was appointed to fill his place on the city council.
LaVOY: Do you remember who your fellow council members were?
WOODLIFF: Tom [L.T.] Kendrick was mayor at that time; Andy [A.L.] Haight was the city attorney. The other two councilmen I don't recall right now.
LaVOY: And then did you decide to run again or not?
WOODLIFF: No, I decided not to run. I was fearful (laughing) about getting elected, I guess. (laughing)
LaVOY: Did you enjoy your term on the council?
WOODLIFF: Yes, I did, I did. It was a good experience and, hopefully, I hope that I was of some benefit.
LaVOY: Well, I'm certain that you were. My goodness. You were very, very active with the Masonic Lodge. Can you tell me just a brief outline as to what your role has been with the Masonic Lodge in Fallon?
WOODLIFF: I joined the Churchill Lodge number twenty-six in September 15, 1939. At that time I became good friends with Lem Allen, and we have been staunch, very staunch friends down through the years, hunting partners and all and, of course, I became involved in doing the work and, of course, it went from one thing to another. I finally wound up as Worshipful Master as we refer to it, in 1944. That so happened that that was the year that Lem Allen became Grand Master of the Grand Lodge for Free and Accepted Masons, State of Nevada. Lem and I traveled around the state together, which had a lot to do with our closeness of friendship, of course. We also became duck hunting and hunting partners and we hunted together for over twenty-five years, probably never missed a weekend. We became very good friends. I think the world of that man. He's a great man.
LAVOY: You have advanced even further in the Masonic Lodge statewide. Can you tell me a little something about that?
WOODLIFF: Well, briefly, there's what they called the York Rite of Free Masonry. Well, we mentioned following the Blue Lodge. That's your first step, then I was accepted in the Royal Arch Masons. I served the Royal Arch Masons as the Excellent High Priest and subsequently the Most Excellent Grand High Priest of the grand chapter, state of Nevada. I joined the Royal and Select Masters. By the way, this Royal and Select Masters in Fallon is named after Leslie M. Sanford who was a Fallon boy and a very good friend of Lem Allen and myself. I served that as Illustrious Master and Most Illustrious Grand Master of the state of Nevada and then I joined the Knights Templar. I served the Knights Templar as Eminent Commander and also as Right Eminent Grand Commander of the state of Nevada and I also belong to the Knights of the York Cross of Honor, Red Cross of Constantine, I belong to the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, and I'm also a Scottish Rite Mason. I was recently honored by that organization, first with the Knight Commander of the Court of Honor and then the thirty-third and last and final honorary degree of a thirty-third degree Scottish Rite.
LAVOY: Now is that the one you went back to Baltimore two years ago?
WOODLIFF: No, that’s not the one. Let's see, we don't want to get into Eastern Star, do we?
LaVOY: Well, yes, of course, I'd like to know what you did there.
WOODLIFF: I joined the Eastern Star; too, and became active in the Eastern Star. I served Myrtle Chapter number twelve Order of Eastern Star in Fallon as the Worthy Patron along with Elizabeth who was Worthy Matron.
LAVOY: Oh how nice!
WOODLIFF: We served together. Then I was elected to the Grand Chapter and subsequently became the Worthy Grand Patron of the Grand Chapter of Eastern Star state of Nevada. In fact, at the present moment I am the dean of the past Grand Patrons. I worked along in years with the Order of Rainbow Girls and then I served fifteen, sixteen years helping the Order of DeMolay.
LaVOY: Going back to the Rainbow Girls, did you have a granddaughter that was active in that?
WOODLIFF: I had a daughter who was Worthy Advisor of the local Rainbow for Girls. She subsequently became Associate Grand Advisor of the State Order of Rainbow for Girls.
LaVOY: That was your daughter, Deanna?
WOODLIFF: That was my daughter, Deanna [Woodliff Knowles Diehl]. And then I had a granddaughter, Erin Gail Knowles, who became Worthy Advisor and she asked me to serve as Father Advisor along with her, which I did, of course. Then I belong to the Holy Royal Arch Knight Templar Priest and served that organization as the Very Eminent Preceptor. Then I received the degrees of the Royal Order of Scotland. Then there was the Nevada York Rite College formed in Reno of which I was one of the original members. I accompanied many of the brothers to Vallejo [California] where McBain College conferred all the degrees on we people or we brothers so that we could start our Nevada York Rite College in Reno and I am still serving as an officer in that college. One of the highlights of my Masonic career, I was presented my fifty-year pin on October 5, 1989. What pleased me so much, I was presented my fifty-year pin in the ceremony conducted by Churchill Lodge number twenty-six by Lem Allen, my life-long friend and buddy who placed the pin on me. Then I am a member of Kilkenny Council number thirty-three of the Knight Masons. On November 1989, in Reno I was coroneted by the conferral of the thirty-third and last degree with the rank and dignity of the Inspector General Honorary which is the highest honor that can be bestowed upon a Scottish Rite Mason. Then the following year in 1990, I was nominated to receive the Order of the Purple Cross of the York Rite Sovereign College of North America. Elizabeth and I traveled to Baltimore, Maryland to attend that general assembly and then on July twenty-eighth I was honored to be one of the class of a hundred and twenty-six to receive the Order of the Purple Cross. I appreciated this honor conferred very much as I now become an associate regent of the college.
LaVOY: That is indeed a great honor.
WOODLIFF: It's one of the highest honors in the York Rite and I have the highest honor in the Scottish Rite.
LaVOY: Well, you've put many, many years in with the Masonic Lodge.
WOODLIFF: It will soon be fifty-two years.
LaVOY: And you've enjoyed every minute of it.
WOODLIFF: Every minute. I think it's been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I've put a lot into it, but I've got a lot out of it. One of the most things that I cherish are the friendships that I've made down through the years. I can go most anywhere in the state of Nevada and shake hands with a lot of wonderful men. They're nice fellows.
LaVOY: Well you certainly have put in a great deal of time and it shows that you were very much appreciated. Do you have any other honors with the Masons before we go into your Rotary years?
WOODLIFF: No, I think that covers it pretty well. I've held a lot of minor offices throughout the years, but what I've mentioned at this particular point are the highest honors that I've received. It would take some time to go into all the things.
LaVOY: Alright well I know that you still are going to Rotary every Tuesday and there's a specific honor that you were awarded by the Rotary and can you tell me something about that?
WOODLIFF: Yes, I am a member of Rotary and I have been a member of this Rotary Club, I believe now, it's forty-six continuous years. One of the honors that I received was the Paul Harris Award. That was awarded to me by the president at that time, Don Carter. Rotary was meeting in that time in the old Baptist Church which is now the county offices [90 West First Street]. That's where we held Rotary and this is where I was presented and I was the first Fallon recipient of the Paul Harris award.
LaVOY: Tell me what the Paul Harris award is.
WOODLIFF: Normally it's for outstanding services rendered and that sort of thing.
LaVOY: I didn’t…Now did you belong to any other civic organizations?
WOODLIFF: I still belong to the Chamber of Commerce, but I think, as I recall, I was one of the ones that helped originate the first Chamber of Commerce.
LaVOY: This was about what year?
WOODLIFF: I've been so active in a lot of these things, it's hard for me to put a year on them.
LaVOY: Well, being a businessman, you know the Chamber of Commerce was very important.
WOODLIFF: I think the Chamber of Commerce well operated is of value to all business people.
LaVOY: You did belong, I believe, to the Selective Service Board, did you not?
WOODLIFF: Yes, I was appointed. What happened is that just about that time my son went into the service.
LaVOY: When was this? 1960 something?
WOODLIFF: 1968, I think. Governor Paul Laxalt at that time wrote me a letter asking if I would serve on the Selective Service Board and I felt that at that time if my son was going to be in the service that I wanted to be of help at that time and, of course, I accepted. I served on the Selective Service Board until 1975 at which time I had to retire because no one older than seventy-five could serve, so I served in that period of time [December 3, 1968 to July 13, 1975].
LaVOY: You received a meritorious service medal on July 8, 1975. Who presented you with that?
WOODLIFF: Addison Millard was head of the Selective Service at that time.
LaVOY: Do you have any stories to tell me about your years on the Selective Service Board? Who did you serve with?
WOODLIFF: Well, I can recall of serving with Warren Hursh and Mrs. Gourmley was the secretary at that time.
LaVOY: Was Mr. Reed on there?
WOODLIFF: I think Dale Reed was on and Roy Durbin.
LaVOY: Normally how many served on the Board?
WOODLIFF: I think there probably were about five as I can recall. That's been a number of years ago and it's hard for me to put a finger on it, but, anyway, I served for several years on it.
LaVOY: Well, your family has certainly been active here in the Fallon community for many, many years and before we end this interview there's just one question that I wanted to ask you that I believe at some point in time you and I discussed. You mentioned that you had property in the Stillwater area in the Cirac Addition. How did you happen to have that?
WOODLIFF: I don't know why or how my dad acquired it but it's been in the family more years that I can remember and it's called the Cirac Addition--it's pronounced sigh rack.
LaVOY: Approximately what area of Stillwater is that?
WOODLIFF: If any of the old-timers remember the Greenwood Store down there--it was operated for many years by Les Greenwood--he was the brother of Stella Marsh. The property is right next to where the old Greenwood Store used to be. I haven't been to Stillwater in a number of years--but I'm not sure that store may have been torn down now. We still own the property. Why, I don't know (laughing) but we got it.
LaVOY: (laughing) They might find oil on it, Frank.
WOODLIFF: Well, you know, I think, believe it or not, I did get a letter from someone wanting us to sign over the oil rights on it, but we didn't do it.
LaVOY: That's something that we didn't cover in our interview.-We're nearly finished and I hate to regress quite so far back but I understand there was quite an oil boom in Fallon.
WOODLIFF: Yes, yes there was. I don't know whether those old shares of oil stock are in my safe or not.
LaVOY: You bought some oil stock?
WOODLIFF: I didn't but my dad did. I think they were something in the neighborhood of three oil companies. It seems to me I remember something about a Big Four Oil Company or something like that. There was supposed to be oil down in Stillwater and my dad bought some stock in two or three of them. Never amounted to anything--never amounted to a thing.
LaVOY: You must remember when the cantaloupes were being shipped out of Fallon too?
WOODLIFF: I certainly do. As a young boy, I can remember of nailing crates together down there where the present Kents' Supply Center is in the big cement building. I can remember making crates so that at that particular time the Kents' were involved in shipping cantaloupes. I can remember Dan Evans, I think he used to handle that for the Kent Company and I worked putting those crates together
LaVOY: How much did you get paid, do you recall?
WOODLIFF: No, I can't recall that. (laughing) As a kid, it was probably plenty. (laughing)
LaVOY: Then Fallon went through its sugar beet era.
WOODLIFF: Yeah, there was the sugar beet factory. That was out by the cemetery. I don't recall of too much history.
LaVOY: And how about the turkey raising in Fallon?
WOODLIFF: There was a lot of turkey raising. I can remember that the Blairs used to raise turkeys and they raised those turkeys--you know where the present Cock 'N Bull store [1350 South Taylor] is and the big white house? The big white house, that was where the Blairs lived. They raised a lot of turkeys. Let's see, what did she call [them]. . . oh, Atlasta, Atlasta turkeys, and they sold a lot of turkeys. And, of course, there were other peoples in the community that sold turkeys too, but that sticks in my mind. Helen Blair [Millward] now was in my class in school and, naturally, of course, I would remember that.
LaVOY: Well, we have covered a very complete history of your life in Fallon. Before we end I'd like to have you tell me where your children are now and what you and Elizabeth are doing now.
WOODLIFF: We're of course still involved in businesses, as you well know. We're still operating the Western Hotel business, Western Motel business, we have commercial rentals, building housing the Fallon Nugget we still own and we're leasing it to that corporation. Then we own those little buildings on Center Street and we lease all those. That's what Elizabeth and I are doing.
LaVOY: I am going to interrupt you for just a moment because I have heard nothing but your generosity with the people that run the Thrift Shop [495 South Maine] that's in your old building. They speak very highly of your extreme generosity with helping people that come into Fallon.
WOODLIFF: Which one do you have reference to?
LAVOY: The thrift shop that is on Maine Street. I believe that is where you and Elizabeth lived for many years.
WOODLIFF: Well that’s the old family home. Oh what happened is uh, the old Stuff N’ Such shop they originally owned the old family home and they ran that sort of thing…that business for a number of years…well it is true that I practically gave them the place. I think they only gave me one hundred fifty dollars a month for that thing and they ran that uh… that place of business for a number of years in order to develop enough money to buy things for the hospital. Then they grew and they decided to move to another location down on Maine Street across from the post office and I did receive a very nice letter from them. I think I may have it in the file somewhere, thanking me for everything and all I had done. They probably couldn’t have existed if it hadn’t been for my help.
LAVOY: Well the current group feels that same way too.
WOODLIFF: Then they moved out of the house and the current group that’s doing business there the thrift shop. They call themselves the Community Service Thrift Shop. Same condition exists. I uh…if I get enough money for the taxes and the insurance then I am…I’ll be alright.
LAVOY: Well they tell me that you are very kind. And if people come in and have absolutely no place to stay then you are very good at quietly putting them up. You won’t admit to that but I have heard that.
WOODLIFF: I don’t know anything about that. (laughing)
LAVOY: Oh yes. I know, I know. (laughing) Also the Museum is very thankful to you for the building that you donated to the Museum. Now which one of your family buildings was that?
WOODLIFF: I’m just a trifle bit unclear on that but I… if I uh…recall properly and I understand I think my dad told me that was his first store in Fallon. I can remember that little bay window, which is not much of a show window in todays business world, was the first show window in town. Now that’s what I recall and uh…I don’t know how that situation came about but the Museum seemed to think they wanted it and we of course cooperated. But Frank was chairman of the Museum board for a number of years you know. I don’t know if you recall that?
LAVOY: No I don’t.
WOODLIFF: Anyway, they wanted the building and we wanted to get it off the property. We wanted to do a little improving back of the motel and so we agreed to move the building and put it on a foundation and we agreed to rehabilitate it, put the new roof on it and paint it, which we did. I might say that we're thankful to the Museum for accepting it. It's a kind of a memorial for the family.
LaVOY: Well, they're very happy to have it and they're reopening it now to the public again so we hope to see you down there.
WOODLIFF: Well, I get down maybe once in a while. I've always got a hundred things going in my mind. (laughing)
LaVOY: Another thing, the big old mirror that is in the Museum that is from your family, what's the history of that?
WOODLIFF: If I understand that correctly, there are only two in the state like that. I can recall my dad telling me that that mirror came around the Horn [Cape Horn]. Exactly what he meant by that I'm not sure. But it was moved in the early days from Virginia City and when it was moved from Virginia City, I think the first location was in the Thomas Woodliff and Son clothing store that we talked about earlier which is in the south room of the hotel building. Then when the clothing business went out or we wanted to put something else in that location, the mirror, what would we do with it? The only place we could think of was putting it in the hotel building. But the sad part of that is, if you'll notice, the mirror that there was a lot of filigree work on the very top which made it too tall to put in the place and, unfortunately, some of the filigree work had to be sawed off. Knowing what I know now I'd of tried to hang onto that piece that was cut off and if somebody could ever restore it, I'd have it restored. But anyway that's the sad part of that mirror. One time, I believe it was Willie Capucci or some member of the board down at the Museum, wanted to have it down at the Museum. They thought that it's where it should be and we agreed to it. So we moved it down there. Not as a gift, but they could use it as long as we didn't want it which may be forever. (laughing)
LaVOY: Finally, just give me a quick rundown on your two children.
WOODLIFF: Oh we’re…well… My daughter of course, was our firstborn and she attended all the public schools in Fallon, graduated from Churchill County High School, then she attended the University of Nevada and graduated from there and then she got married to Larry Knowles. She met him up there in Reno and to that union three children were born: Erin Gail Knowles was the firstborn; Megan Lee Knowles was the second born; and Brett Woodliff Knowles was the third born to that union. Deanna is still living in Fallon and she is director of the Fallon Convention Center. My son, Frank III graduated from all the schools in Fallon, then he went to Oregon State University and graduated there with a degree in physics and business administration. Then he enlisted in the Navy and they sent him to Norfolk, Virginia and put him through Officers' Candidate School. Then he came back and then he was a communication officer on the U.S.S. Henderson. Then of course…then they moved him over to Vietnam and he spent a year in Vietnam and he was a communication officer in Vietnam with thirty-seven men under him. Then, after he served four years in the Navy, and then he decided to go to… he wanted to be an architect. So then he enrolled in the graduate class of architecture in Salt Lake City, University of Utah. After he graduated he did architecture on his own for awhile and then he joined the firm of D.C. West, architecture firm in Carson City which he still is working there. Also he has an office in Fallon who does architecture work. He became a licensed architect and that's what Frank is doing at the present time. Frank married Sally Davis who is a licensed attorney but she isn't practicing as an attorney at the present time but she does help in doing the legal work and all the specifications, not only for D.C. West but also for Frank's office.
LaVOY: Well, that's very interesting. On behalf of the Churchill County Museum Oral History Project, I want to thank you very much for this most interesting interview.
WOODLIFF: Well, I hope it was satisfactory. (laughing)
LaVOY: Very, very good.

Born: August 27, 1903 Virginia City, Nevada
Died: Friday, August 13, 1937 Reno, Nevada
Jessie Irene graduated from Churchill County High School with the class of 1921. She was employed by Churchill County Bank.
She was married on June 12, 1928 to George C. Bunton, well known Fallon musician. For a number of years they managed the Lyric Ice Cream Parlor.
Mrs. Bunton, an expectant mother, was stricken ill on Thursday, August 12, 1937 and was taken to Moore hospital. Her condition became so alarming that she was rushed to St. Mary's hospital in Reno where an operation was performed. Death followed a few hours after. Her body was returned to Fallon and buried at the Fallon Cemetery.

Churchill County Oral History Project an interview with FRANK WOODLIFF, JR.
Fallon, Nevada
conducted by Sylvia Arden
February 24, 1994
This interview is part of the socioeconomic studies for Churchill County's Yucca Mountain Planning and Oversight Program.
© 1994
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.

This is Sylvia Arden, interviewer for the Churchill County Oral History Project. Frank Woodliff, Jr. was interviewed for the Churchill County Museum Program, May 29, 1991, by Marian LaVoy. This interview, February 24, 1994, at Mr. Woodliff's office at 9 First Street, Fallon, Nevada, concentrates on the Newlands Project, Lahontan Dam, TCID [Truckee-Carson Irrigation District], ranching, and agriculture.
SYLVIA ARDEN: Good morning, Mr. Woodliff. Thank so much for agreeing to this second interview. First would you give us your full name, date of birth, and place of birth.
FRANK WOODLIFF, JR.: My full name is Frank Woodliff, Jr. I was born in the city of Fallon, Churchill County, on July 13, 1910.
ARDEN: I read in your first interview that your parents, your uncle and grandfather came here to Fallon--parents in 1903 and your uncle and grandfather in 1907. As a young boy growing up, can you recall seeing, or hearing from them about the irrigation project, about the Newlands Irrigation Project?
WOODLIFF: I can't recall too much about the early years of the irrigation project because I think that the Newlands Project, or the Lahontan Dam Project was started in 1902, and of course being born in 1910, I can't recall any of the early irrigation project. So I can't answer too much of that question.
ARDEN: Well let’s change the question. As you were growing up because one of the things is that we don’t think about is as the ranch’s developing everything that ever grew comes from the irrigation project. So I’m going to reword it. As you were reaching ten or twelve years of age, and as you were growing up through those years, what did you observe, as you first remember the ranch, and as you were moving along into your teen years? Did you observe things growing? Did you observe watering, and ditches, and irrigation? Tell me, if you can remember any of those days.
WOODLIFF: Yes, I think I can recall my earlier years. Of course the Newlands Project, a lot of it, in those days, was farm land. And I can recall in our old residence at 495 South Maine Street, as a young child, there was an irrigation [ditch] going past our house and all we kids would jump in that irrigation ditch. And then we owned property on Taylor Street, and I can recall of an irrigation ditch that went through that property. And then I can recall, too, out by the new Lutheran church there was an irrigation ditch, and I can visualize now the tules and everything. And we young kids used to go out there and skate…ice skate. It's odd that this morning at breakfast I was talking about this very same subject, because skating right now is in our minds. I was discussing this, and I was telling some friends how I skated on this particular irrigation ditch out by--well, it's right next to where Wayne Mills lives right now, and the new Lutheran church.
ARDEN: You're the first one that I've heard tell about ice skating. I've heard swimming, but not ice skating. So let me go into that a little bit more, because I think that's very fascinating. How much water was in the ditch that froze? About how wide was this, and about how long? How far did you skate?
WOODLIFF: I would estimate that the irrigation ditches that I mentioned were probably in the width of a good six feet. And normally, I think the amount of water, as I recall, wouldn't be much over two feet.
ARDEN: So it would freeze quicker, because it wasn't as deep.
ARDEN: About how many kids would go and skate?
WOODLIFF: Oh, I can…Well, there were two or three of my friends. Seems to me that one of them that used to skate with me was Bobby Douglass, who was the son of R.L. Douglass, who was one of the early settlers in Fallon.
ARDEN: About how many winters did you do this?
WOODLIFF: I can't really put a number on it, but there had to be several.
ARDEN: Oh, I wish there were pictures of that! That sounds wonderful. Did you also swim in the ditches?
WOODLIFF: Well, I can remember when I was a little older, perhaps in my high school years or grammar school years, a lot of we kids used to swim in the canals. We had one canal that we used to swim in (chuckles) and we named it "Stoney" Beach. Of course that was before the city of Fallon had any city swimming pools,
ARDEN: So about how old were you then?
WOODLIFF: Oh, I would say I would be in the neighborhood of fifteen, sixteen years old--right in that area.
ARDEN: Now where did the water come from to fill the canals?
WOODLIFF: All the water in the canals came from the Lahontan Dam.
ARDEN: Okay, so that ties-in with the Project.
WOODLIFF: Yes. And of course the farmers, naturally, received their water from these irrigation ditches that you see.
ARDEN: So that all ties-in.
ARDEN: This is very interesting. Then as you were going out to these places to swim or to ice skate, did you begin to notice changes in the landscape, as far as the ranching or trees starting to grow or orchards? Did you, let's say in your high school years, begin to observe changes in the region because of the agriculture?
WOODLIFF: Well, that's hard to answer. Of course the farm lands and Newlands Project have always been pretty fertile and green. And of course a lot of them all raised alfalfa. I can recall when I was going to high school that a very good friend of mine, Merle Williams--I used to stay weekends with him--and they hired me to drive the horses for the derrick. In those days, you know, they'd bale hay and stuff. They'd have a derrick motivated by horses. And I did that as a young fellow, you know.
ARDEN: Oh! Now where was that ranch located?
WOODLIFF: It was just east of Fallon, oh, about, I would say, two-and-a-half miles.
ARDEN: So beside the hay, what kind of a ranch was that? Did they have animals? Did they have fruit trees?
WOODLIFF: Oh, well, I think most all farms in those days, of course, had chickens and cows and horses. I know they had horses because this friend of mine and I would ride horses around, you know. That ranch happens to be close to one of the large canals. Well, let's pinpoint it--the one that goes by Rattlesnake Hill.
ARDEN: Oh, that sounds like fun. Did you go work there in the summers when you weren't in school sometimes?
WOODLIFF: Oh, sometimes I'd go out and spend a weekend with them, yes.
ARDEN: Did you notice changes, or did it stay pretty static? What about drought years? Did it affect it?
WOODLIFF: Well, you know, I can remember one year particularly when there was a drought. And I think it was 1932. I can recall, up at the Lahontan Dam, when it didn't have hardly any water--just a little canal. And I can remember going down there with some of my friends and walking around this big tower where the water comes out.
ARDEN: Yes, I visited it, and I can visualize.
WOODLIFF: Was that 1932?
ARDEN: I mean, I was there recently--not then.
WOODLIFF: Well, you know what I mean then.
WOODLIFF: I have walked around that.
ARDEN: Oh! And did you picnic out there at the lake near the Lahontan Dam? Did a lot of people used to go out there?
WOODLIFF: Oh, in later years, yes. I was quite a boat enthusiast. In fact, I was one of the group that put in the pier to land boats up there. And I had a boat, and oh, we never missed a weekend: boating and skiing. Of course my daughter, she skied. And of course my son became a boat enthusiast too. We have spent a lot of time up at Lahontan Dam, every weekend. And then we'd picnic. It used to be quite a recreation area for we people in Fallon.
ARDEN: Did the dam affect the lake? Or what was the connection between the lake and the dam? Did it always have water in the lake? Or would it go low when it was a drought year?
WOODLIFF: Yes, the height of the water in the dam depended upon how much water came down from the hills. And of course the depth of the lake would fluctuate with that situation.
ARDEN: That's very interesting, because none of this was in your first interview. Were you aware, or did you meet some of the families that homesteaded? Like the family that you visited on the ranch-were they homesteaders on their ranch, do you know?
WOODLIFF: I don't think I can answer that. Of course I knew quite a few families, and of course a lot of their families went to school the same year I did. But that particular phase, it'd be hard for me to answer.
ARDEN: Yes, because you probably wouldn't say, "Hey, are you a homesteader?" (laughs)
WOODLIFF: Well, you know when you're young, you don't notice things like that.
WOODLIFF: It's just when you get older! (laughter)
ARDEN: Because I know that when the Project was developing, they lured people to come and homestead to develop the land.
WOODLIFF: Oh yes, oh yes.
ARDEN: There was a big influx into this region about when your parents came, but they went into the business.
And I also know that because of the dam, electricity was generated very early in Fallon. Did you have electricity? Do you remember being without electricity?
WOODLIFF: No, within my memory, we always had electricity.
ARDEN: And that's early for the region, because of the dam.
ARDEN: And refrigeration.
ARDEN: Were you at all aware of the CCC coming in, when they came in to work on the ditches and the cleaning up and cementing?
WOODLIFF: Oh yes! The CCC, that's the Civilian Conservation Corps. Oh yes, I was around then, and of course we were in business then. And I recall the buildings right out. . . . Oh, well, I think they were by the railroad tracks, and that's where they had the buildings for the CCC.
ARDEN: Were they like dorm wooden buildings, like the military? Or what were they like?
WOODLIFF: I think they were probably something like that, yes.
ARDEN: Did you interact in your businesses with the CCC workers who were here? Did they come into your stores? Were they noticeable around the town? Or were they isolated?
WOODLIFF: Oh, yes, they were noticeable and took part in some of the community affairs. Oh, I can even remember. . . . Well, one name that comes to my mind was a fellow by the name of Larry Goone.
ARDEN: You remember the name?!
WOODLIFF: Yes, G-O-O-N-E. I think later he married a Fallon girl and remained living here.
ARDEN: Is he still around?
ARDEN: Can you tell me what was the mixture of the workers? Were they different ethnic groups, were they from different parts of the country, what was the make-up of the workers who came?
WOODLIFF: That's hard for me to answer, because I don't think I was that observing at that particular time. But I would say they were normal fellahs.
ARDEN: Young men?
WOODLIFF: Young men. As I recall, the purpose of the Civilian Conservation Corps was to take in young people who had adversities in their families. I think that actually was the purpose of that.
ARDEN: I believe they were here from about 1935 to 1941?
WOODLIFF: They were here several years.
ARDEN: Did they wear uniforms? Or just jeans?
WOODLIFF: I can't recall that.
ARDEN: About how many do you think there were? How many buildings were there? Do you have any idea about how large a crew?
WOODLIFF: Oh, I think two or three [buildings], I think probably, within my memory.
ARDEN: And were there local people, do you know, who supervised the project?
WOODLIFF: That I can't remember,
ARDEN: Was the community receptive? Because they were doing such good work, was it a receptive atmosphere?
WOODLIFF: Oh yes. I can't recall of any problem of that nature, no. No, everybody seemed to get along well. Of course, you know, Fallon has always been a friendly community. We've always taken those things in our stride, you know.
ARDEN: Oh, good. You said they socialized in town?
WOODLIFF: Oh yes. They were one of us.
ARDEN: I'm going to try to find some pictures. I haven't found that yet. I don't know if you were too young then--when they had the workers' construction camps on the dam and the Project.
WOODLIFF: Oh, I wasn't born then. You see, my dad came out here in 1903, and I think the reason he came out was on account of the Lahontan Dam Project. He came out from Virginia City, and he came in 1903. And of course we've been here ever since. This is our ninetieth year in business, you know--the family.
ARDEN: Oh, wonderful!
WOODLIFF: Of course the early construction of the dam was before my time. I understand it was started in 1902, and he came in 1903.
ARDEN: Now, he was a photographer, right?
WOODLIFF: He did photography work, yes, up in Virginia City and this and that. And of course when he came out here, he started a small merchandising business. I assume that he did a little photography on the side.
ARDEN: Are there any pictures? Did he take any local photographs? Have you found any in your family?
WOODLIFF: Oh, I'm sure that he had, but I was discussing that with my son yesterday, previous to this interview, and he says the museum already has some of that stuff.
ARDEN: Oh, okay.
WOODLIFF: You may not know, but my son served a couple of years on the museum board.
ARDEN: So they probably have whatever was found.
WOODLIFF: So he tells me that they have a lot of them down there. I can recall he found a box of the slides. The museum had those slides and took all the pictures that they wanted from them. So I would assume they um…
ARDEN: I'll look in their collection. I will want to later look on your walls or look at some things that I might see that seem important.
WOODLIFF: I have some pictures that may be of interest to you.
ARDEN: Good. Then during World War I, which, of course, was 1914-1917, did your family talk of what it was like here and the consequences and how it affected your businesses in town?
WOODLIFF: Well, of course, World War I, you know, I wasn't very old.
WOODLIFF: The only thing I can remember (chuckles) of World War I is. . . . let’s see…how would I…oh would I…I don’t think I was… Well, I was a youngster in school, and I remember one day of letting out school and the kids marching down from one of the schools to the main street and that. But that's just about all I can remember.
ARDEN: And your parents didn't talk about how it affected their business?
WOODLIFF: No. No, I wouldn't be able to answer that.
ARDEN: That's okay. Did they ever talk about the socialist colony that failed here? Did they ever talk about that socialist colony?
WOODLIFF: The socialist colony?
ARDEN: Yeah, there was a socialist colony.
WOODLIFF: That was out in the Harmon District. I can't tell you too much about that.
ARDEN: That's okay.
WOODLIFF: You know, what you're asking me now is, I was pretty young. (laughs) But I do remember those names.
ARDEN: Now during the Depression years of 1929 to about 1945-- did that have an effect…what kind of an effect did it have on your businesses, on the town, on the ranches?
WOODLIFF: Well, I think I can answer that one! As I recall, the Depression started in the East in 1928, and it gradually worked its way to the city of Fallon in 1932. And I can remember I was just fresh in business, because I graduated from high school in 1928. Of course I went into business with my father. And I can remember that I woke up in November 1932 and the banks were closed and we didn't have a dime. (Arden expresses concern.) So it was a struggle from there on out. The bank that we were using was called the Churchill County Bank at that time. But, you know, when you have tenacity . .
ARDEN: That's the word! (chuckles)
WOODLIFF: . . . you work those things out. We kept going. I'm sure that other businesses were affected, just like we were affected. But you worked those things out. You just pitch in and dig!
ARDEN: What kind of… Did they have any social programs in town to help those who didn't have a meal or a place to sleep? Or did the farmers share some of the food? Do you remember any community cooperation?
WOODLIFF: Well, I can't remember of that. And I'm not sure whether they did or not. But I think I would be safe in saying that if any of our friends needed help, they got it.
ARDEN: Now, going back to some of the products of the agriculture, I know that there was the melon culture, the Hearts-O-Gold.
WOODLIFF: Oh yes, the cantaloupes.
ARDEN: Can you tell me anything about your recollection of that kind of an unusual and exotic [crop] for a desert town?
WOODLIFF: Well, yes, I think I can remember something about that. Of course, in those early days, I can't recall what year it might be, but you know cantaloupes, in this area, used to be quite famous. They were shipped to California, San Francisco, and all around. I think one of the biggest distributors of the cantaloupes for the valley was the I.H. Kent Company. I can remember as a young boy that I worked for the I.H. Company down at their big plant north of town, making cantaloupe crates. And of course as a young boy I wasn't a seasoned worker, and I can remember blisters all over my hands, nailing those crates together. So yes, Fallon was quite noted for cantaloupes, and I think still is.
ARDEN: The Hearts-O-Gold?
WOODLIFF: Not as extensively as they were in the early days.
ARDEN: Did you like to eat those melons?
WOODLIFF: Oh yes! There's none better! They have a flavor that no other cantaloupe has, and I think it's due to the fact of the area here, the soil.
ARDEN: The soil and the weather?
WOODLIFF: And the weather. As you well know, we have wonderful weather here.
ARDEN: Yes! I'm amazed this week. (laughs) And I also see they have Hearts-O-Gold Festivals. You go to the root beer place, they have melon shakes. So there's still a focus?
WOODLIFF: They have one of those cantaloupe festivals each year in September, along with the annual rodeo and so forth. So everyone goes to this festival, and of course you eat a half a cantaloupe or something like that.
ARDEN: Are there a lot of ranches or do most ranches grow the cantaloupes? Or are there certain ones that concentrate on it, do you know?
WOODLIFF: I'm not sure about that. I would say that there are certain ranches that raise cantaloupes more than others. I’m just trying to think of one out west of town…can’t think of the name right now. But I uh…its out west of town.
ARDEN: Do they have, like we have in California, do they have stands so that when cars pass they can pick up watermelons?
WOODLIFF: Oh yes. I think the Lattins usually have a stand at their ranch out in the St. Claire District. And then I notice at certain times of the year they have a stand out west of town.
ARDEN: Now Lattins is that spelled the way it sounds?
WOODLIFF: L-A-T-T-I-N-S. Lattins
ARDEN: Thank you. And uh… another thing that was here--I don't know if you know much about it--is the sugar beet factory.
ARDEN: So tell me a little bit, what you can, about the sugar beet factory. I know that some of the ranchers grew beets.
WOODLIFF: Well, I can't recall of the year. The sugar beet factory was out west of town by Rattlesnake Hill that we refer to. And it was quite a large building. It got to be quite a thing, but I can't recall why it didn't last. But I know it remained vacant for a number of years. Then they started it up again. Then it fizzled out. And finally I think--I haven't been out that way for some time--but I think the building has been torn down.
ARDEN: When something like the sugar beet factory or other things needed workers, would they be local [people] or would they advertise for workers to come in? Or did they just hear about it from little towns around, people who needed work?
WOODLIFF: Well, that I can't answer. I can't remember an influx of too many out-of-town people.
ARDEN: Not like in the mining region.
WOODLIFF: Getting back to the beets, I think the same with the cantaloupes-I think the beets were thriving due to the soil conditions in Churchill County. That's my impression.
ARDEN: And of course the irrigation project supplied the water, so the farmers could. . . .
WOODLIFF: Oh yes! Sure, nothing has happened around here without water!
ARDEN: Nothing, no.
WOODLIFF: You gotta have water.
ARDEN: That's right, so that whatever we're talking about. . . .
ARDEN: One of the things that interested me in Fallon--because I've been coming here to work for several years--is the Stockade [Gallagher Livestock, Inc., 1025 S. Allen Rd.]. I learned it's the only cattle auction place in the state--the Stockade here where they auction the cattle, the auction house, the only one in the state.
ARDEN: I attended a few [auctions] and had dinner there. It was such fun. Can you tell me anything about that? Or has that brought people into Fallon to stay over?
WOODLIFF: Yes. I'm trying to think of the name of the one just west of town here. But it has been in existence for a number of years, and it does well. And they have the auction, I believe on Wednesday. There are a large number of people that come to Fallon for the auction. Fortunately, those are good nights for the motels.
ARDEN: Do they stay at your motel?
WOODLIFF: We have some of 'em. Other motels have some of 'em. Oh yes, it's been fruitful to the community.
ARDEN: Good.
WOODLIFF: I think that it's been so good that another auction yard started up about six or seven miles west of Fallon, but apparently it hasn't been successful. I think it is closed now. And the fact of the matter is, I think I see the property advertised for sale. So the Gallagher Livestock--the name just came to me, by the way. The Gallagher Livestock…
ARDEN: When I turned the tape we were still talking about the Gallagher Stockade and the people who come in. Anyway we are still at the Gallagher Stockade is there anything else that you can tell me that it affects the town when these people come in?
WOODLIFF: Well, of course anytime you have people coming into your area from other areas, they bring money in. And, of course, naturally that helps the restaurants and the hotels and the motels and the service stations--they all have to have gas and things. So anything like that, of course, is good for the community.
ARDEN: Then I wanted to ask you, because of your years in business and all the years you spent here, about the changes in the population and economy, because I'm sure there've been active and inactive periods in the town. But specifically, I want to know if you've observed it in the increase in the people buying small farms or ranches, or the increase of locally-produced goods, local dairies or things where the feeding of the town is more local. Have you observed any of that?
WOODLIFF: Well, I'm not sure just how to answer that. Of course down through the years, the population of the county is growing. That certainly means that somebody's coming to Fallon and settling and building homes and things of that nature. So I just don't know how to answer that.
ARDEN: Besides like the melons or the beets? What about fruits and vegetables? Do you notice an increase in the types? Do the local farmers have any farmers' markets or places to buy it? Or do they just sell it to a couple of the stores? How does that work? Because a lot of places, farmers bring in their things and have like a Saturday vegetable/fruit market. Have you ever had that here?
WOODLIFF: Well, like I mentioned earlier, the only one that has stands right now, fruit stands and melon stands and corn, are the Lattins. [Ed. note: Workman's Farms, Crafts & Nursery (4990 Rena Hwy.) also sells locally grown vegetables.]
ARDEN: What are some of the fruits and vegetables? You mentioned corn. What are some of the other things that are grown that they sell at the stands?
WOODLIFF: Well, of course, I think cantaloupes and corn are the main things. But, oh, I think there are other vegetables and things like that. Of course, not being the shopper of the family, I'm really not too sharp on that one. (laughter)
ARDEN: That's okay. I notice a lot of huge trucks come through Fallon, and obviously the trucking business has taken over the freight in moving products. But Fallon seems to have an enormous amount of huge trucks coming through. Are they also moving some of the Fallon dairy products and vegetables? Do you know anything at all about the freight business that goes through here?
WOODLIFF: The only thing I can tell you about that is, I don't think they move anything locally, within my knowledge. But I can tell you, we own some property on Taylor Street, and it's not developed yet, and we have made surveys at times to find out how many trucks travel [by there}, and I think the last figure that we got, that there were two hundred trucks a day, going through Fallon. That was our last survey a few years ago.
WOODLIFF: Of course the state highway department could be more accurate on that. But anyway, there are a lot of trucks that go through Fallon, north and south, east and west.
ARDEN: Yeah, it's amazing, because I observe so many.
ARDEN: But I haven't had time to read the signs on the trucks.
WOODLIFF: But you take two hundred trucks a day going through, that's a lot of trucks!
ARDEN: Do they connect with all the freeways? Are they coming through Fallon because they're stopping here?
WOODLIFF: There are a few trucks that stop overnight. Mostly they're going through. But I do observe a few of the trucks that stay overnight, depending on, well, for instance, like the big trucks that carry automobiles. They will come to town and they will probably stay overnight and unload their automobiles to the automobile agencies, don't you see, Things like that. But other than that, mainly I think they're going through,
ARDEN: Do you know if they're connecting at all with the military base?
WOODLIFF: I don't know, I can't answer that, but my guess is that there are some big trucks that go out to the Navy base, because they're a large consumer, you know. And certainly a big truck is going to have to haul what they need.
ARDEN: Do you have any personal knowledge from the base? Do you interact at all with any people from the base?
ARDEN: I was just curious as to whether they buy any of their foods for their meals on the base, locally.
WOODLIFF: Well, you know, the Navy has a commissary, and I think Navy personnel buy a great majority of their things at the commissary. However, there are some of the military people that live in homes in town, and I think they buy in town. They certainly visit the restaurants and the casinos. So from that aspect, I think there is considerable business for the town, from the Navy base.
ARDEN: That sounds reasonable. I was just curious, because it's an agricultural center. But someone else will have to tell me that. Now in your other interview you mentioned Kolhoss ran a store and delivered groceries. Tell me who Kolhoss was.
WOODLIFF: Well, his name was Harvey Kolhoss--in fact, his son, young Harvey Kolhoss is a very… he had the little grocery store down on Maine Street. Right now the Kolhoss Brothers, Harvey and Munsey, sold the store, and these people have a diet center down there that they sell dietary products. That's where the Kolhoss Store was for many years. In the early days, when I was younger, I can recall Mr. Kolhoss delivering groceries with a horse and buggy.
ARDEN: Oh my! How do you spell Munsey?
ARDEN: Thank you.
WOODLIFF: Of course Harvey and Munsey took over the business when Mr. Kolhoss passed away, you know,
ARDEN: Did they get produce locally? In other words, did these stores buy produce from the farmers, from the ranchers, for their markets?
WOODLIFF: I would assume so. That's hard for me to answer, but I think it would be a reasonable assumption, that he got a lot of his produce locally, and then retailed it.
ARDEN: I also read where you had an ice cream parlor, and sort of a "restaurant." Several questions about that. Number 1 was that here your hotel, in your first hotel? Where was that?
WOODLIFF: That happened to be in the building that we're sitting in now, where my son has his office. And it was called the Lyric Ice Cream and Cafe, an ice cream parlor and cafe, and it was run by my sister and her husband. But later on, well, I'm saddened to say that my sister passed away.
ARDEN: (expressing concern) I read that.
WOODLIFF: Yes. And her husband took off, for reasons unknown. So then we fell heir to it, and finally we closed it up. I used to have my little radio shop in there too. I used to sell appliances and radios, you know.
ARDEN: Oh! You did a lot of things!
WOODLIFF: Oh, yeah, I've done a lot of things. (laughs)
ARDEN: Can you tell me what year that Lyric Ice Cream Parlor and Cafe [was in operation], what time period?
WOODLIFF: Boy, I'd have to look that up.
ARDEN: I was wondering, was it during the Prohibition? The only reason I ask that, in the other area where I interview in Battle Mountain, they opened an ice cream parlor during Prohibition, because they couldn't sell liquor in their cafe.
WOODLIFF: I don't think I can answer that right off.
ARDEN: That's alright. Where did you purchase the dairy products? Did you make your own ice cream? Did you buy it?
WOODLIFF: Well, they had an ice cream maker, and they would buy the ice cream from. . . . Well, first, I think they bought it from Chism Ice Cream Company in Reno. This man, Chism, had an ice cream factory in Reno and he sold them the milk. Well, all you had to do was freeze it. There's a particular name, but it doesn't come to me. And then later on, I think they got it from Borden's in Sacramento. It came in those big five-gallon metal containers, you know. And then they'd pour that mix--ice cream mix! It came to me!--this ice cream mix into this freezer machine and they made their own ice cream, and it was good too!
ARDEN: I know I'm skipping around, but then I read that you had a band? (laughs)
ARDEN: I can see the way that you smile, that that was a love.
WOODLIFF: Yes, I spent over twenty-five years playing in dance bands around town. It was a pretty interesting phase of my life.
ARDEN: Yes, I see from your smile. I want to ask, do you have any recordings of that music?
ARDEN: No one ever recorded it? Nobody ever taped it?
WOODLIFF: No. I still have my instruments that I used, and I've got some of the orchestrations--that is, the [sheet] music. When new tunes would come out, you'd buy what were called "orchestrations," and it would have parts for the piano and the violin and the saxophones and all that stuff, and we used to get those. So I still have a stack of that stuff back there.
ARDEN: Oh, I was hoping you'd have a tape that we could add.
WOODLIFF: No. No tapes. I played in several little dance bands. One of them was the Fallon Serenaders. I do have a picture of that I could show you.
ARDEN: Oh good!
WOODLIFF: Then the band that we kind of got the most fun out of was called "The Stompers, the dance band with the punch!" (laughter) I was in the radio business at that time and I had a sort of a van type that you delivered radios and things in, you know. And then when we'd go to play a job, well, we played in Hawthorne, and we played in Yerington and we played in Lovelock. And we had a sign that fit on [the van] that covered the name of the radio concern, and it had "The Stompers, the dance band with the punch!" and we'd load all the instruments in. Oh, you know, kids would do a lot of things, you know.
ARDEN: That sounds wonderful. I enjoyed reading that.
ARDEN: Well, since my instructions are to keep this a focused interview, and we have your other wonderful interview that this is going to be added to--this will be a part of that--I want to know before I close if there's anything else you can add about the results of the irrigation and water that made this an "Oasis in the Desert," which is a wonderful name for Fallon.
WOODLIFF: Oh, I don't think I can add. . . . Of course, we've been business people all our lives, you know. Of course we realize that the farming industry is a very, very important part of our city and county. But you know, when you're in business you don't pay too much attention to your farmer neighbors.
ARDEN: And you kind of take for granted what's happening all around you.
WOODLIFF: That is correct. You just grow up with it.
ARDEN: No more swimming in the ditches and ice skating on the canals. (laughter)
WOODLIFF: No. No, they don't do that anymore, because they have a nice swimming pool now. In fact, they have two swimming pools, you know, now.
ARDEN: And what about the parks here? They have parks in town.
WOODLIFF: Oh yes, they have what they call the Oats Park. Then there's a new park in town called the Laura Mills Park.
ARDEN: Uh-huh, I've been there.
WOODLIFF: Laura Mills, I recall, was my eighth-grade teacher, and I knew her well. In fact, her brother, Vernon Mills, played saxophone in our dance band, so anyway, there's a nice park. Presently, in the Laura Mills Park, there is a gazebo being built, and my son is the designer.
ARDEN: Oh, wonderful!
WOODLIFF: The gazebo is being built by Sue Fitz, I understand--Harold and Sue Fitz. And the last article in the paper gave Sue Fitz the credit for donating the gazebo to the Laura Mills Park. The gazebo is under construction at the moment, and I think it'll probably be a wonderful addition, and it'll be used for maybe weddings and little things like that.
ARDEN: Maybe bands playing.
ARDEN: Well, coming from a desert climate like San Diego, I know that all our parks have to be watered, so I'm assuming that the water ties-in with the parks, because they have to water to keep it green.
WOODLIFF: Oh yes, they have a sprinkling system down there, and it's watered.
ARDEN: Well, it's just been a delightful session with you, Mr. Woodliff, and you thought you couldn't share anything additional! We got a lot of new information from you!
WOODLIFF: Well, I worried about this, for fear that I couldn't answer a lot of your questions, but I guess we got through it, didn't we! (laughter)
ARDEN: So on be half of the Churchill County I want to thank you for sharing more information with us.
WOODLIFF: You’re quite welcome.
ARDEN: This is the end of this interview.

ARDEN: Although we said end of the interview, we didn't talk about duck hunting! So we're going to continue the interview, and I want you to tell me as much as you can about your duck hunting years, where you went, and whatever else that you can share with us.
WOODLIFF: Well, in years gone by, the Fallon area was noted for its duck hunting. I enjoyed it very much, and of course I did a lot of it. The fact of the matter is, I have a very close friend, Lem Allen, and I think Lem and I didn't hardly miss a weekend in over twenty-five years. Mostly we enjoyed going to Stillwater and taking the boats down there. A good many of the other hunters from Fallon had boats down there. It used to be quite a hunting area, and there was a lot of water down there. Water was everywhere. And the duck hunting was just unbelievable. There were times when…And of course we all belonged to the Greenhead Club, but we enjoyed going to Stillwater, because we loved the boating and taking the lunch and the fried chicken and the chili beans and things of that nature. And we'd always take a little fishing pole and catch a few cats along the way, you know. But in the mornings when the hunting had started, the ducks would get up and they'd fly to Stillwater, and there were times, actually, when that sky was just black with ducks and geese. It was just a hunter's paradise! And I'm sorry to say that that condition doesn't exist any more. I haven't been down to Stillwater for a number of years, and I don't think I want to go, because they tell me that the little ponds that we all hunted in, the places where we launched the boats, is all dry, and you can walk on them. And that is really disheartening to some of we old duck hunters. I remember too that on Sunday mornings, everybody used to come down and have breakfast at the Sagebrush Cafe.
ARDEN: Is that here on Maine Street?
WOODLIFF: This building right here I'm pointing to.
ARDEN: Okay, right across from the office.
WOODLIFF: Bill Powell, an oldtimer, and his son Al Powell used to run it, and they'd cater to the duck hunters, and they had mounted ducks and geese all over as decorations, you know. And I can recall at four o'clock in the morning you couldn't even find a place to park along Maine Street, there were so many cars. They'd come from Reno and everywhere. But those days are gone. The hunting finally decreased gradually, and now the water, I understand, is mostly gone in Stillwater. But a lot of we older duck hunters just sit by and reflect and shed a few tears. (chuckles)
ARDEN: (expressing concern) Oh. I have a couple of questions. Where did the water come from that supplied all that water you're talking about in your hunting days; and why is it dried up now?
WOODLIFF: Well, I think the reason it's dried up now is due to the lack of water. I understand that the water that went to Stillwater was overrun or overflow from a lot of the irrigation ditches, and that's where the water came from. They've always had quite a lot of water down there, but you could see water in Stillwater for miles, you know. But I think that's where the water came from. And in the drought years, why, water has gotten short, and naturally, Stillwater has just dried up.
ARDEN: So Stillwater isn't funneled water from the irrigation project, from the dam?
WOODLIFF: I think eventually, yes. I'm not too sharp on that particular question. But I'm sure that the surplus water coming down the canals, and surplus water runoff from the farms and the ranches had something to do with the water in Stillwater. Probably some of the ranchers and farmers in Stillwater could give you a better answer on that. But I think that Stillwater drying up has had a lot to do with the lack of water in the Newlands Project.
ARDEN: What kind of ducks did you hunt?
WOODLIFF: Well, all kinds. Of course there's mallards and there's pintails, and I think in November we always used to say that the "cans" come in. By cans, I mean canvasbacks. I can remember hunting down there with a friend of mine that came down from Sparks, stayed all night with me, and we got down to Stillwater, and we hit it when the cans came in, and both of us came back with a limit of cans, nothing else.
ARDEN: Can you spell the “cans” for me?
WOODLIFF: Canvasback. “Cans” is short for Canvasback.
ARDEN: Oh okay.
WOODLIFF: C-A-N-V-A-S-B-A-C-K. Canvasback. We always…a duck hunter always called them cans.
ARDEN: Oh okay. Was there a limit as to how many ducks you could catch?
WOODLIFF: Yes, the limit varied according to the population of the ducks and the amount of ducks that came in the area. I think I can recall when the limit was fifteen ducks a piece. And then I think it got to ten, and then I think it got to seven, and then five--depending, you know.
ARDEN: What would you do with them?
WOODLIFF: (laughs) Well, I guess that's a good question! Of course we'd bring 'em home, naturally. And of course then you'd spend a day or so picking 'em and cleaning 'em and getting them ready for the deep freeze. That's what you'd do with 'em, and then you'd eat them later on.
ARDEN: Were you the one that cleaned them?
WOODLIFF: Yes, I think I was. I can't recall my wife ever cleaning one. She may have--she may challenge me on that. But I think a hunter actually is supposed to pick and clean his own ducks.
ARDEN: Did you also go fishing?
WOODLIFF: Oh yes! In the summer months I can recall of Lem and his family and myself and my family, and we'd take the boats down there and we'd take a big lunch. And of course we'd cat fish and then have lunch and just spend a wonderful day.
ARDEN: Did you fish at the same place where you hunted the ducks in Stillwater?
WOODLIFF: Oh yes. The fact of the matter is, while you're sitting in the blind waiting for ducks, you always throw a little line out and catch a few catfish, you know.
ARDEN: Okay, so you supplied your own food quite a bit.
ARDEN: Anything else about your hunting days?
WOODLIFF: Well, of course this area used to be well-known for pheasants too, and quail. And of course, naturally, when pheasant season was on, why, we'd all go pheasant hunting. But unfortunately that has…And we would get a lot of people from Reno and other places to come to Fallon for hunting pheasant and quail. But of course, like the duck situation, that has deteriorated too. The fact of the matter is, I hardly see a pheasant any more around, you know, some of the ranches. You see one once in a while, but nothing like it used to be—nothing. The hunting is nothing like it used to be.
ARDEN: And is that, again, because of the reduction of the water? Or is it because so much hunting was done that it killed off so many of them that they couldn't multiply as fast?
WOODLIFF: I don't know. That question kind of bothers me. I can't see where it's a lack of water, really. But I just can't answer what happened, but it happened.
ARDEN: Do you think the growth in the city and the population and the traffic might have disturbed them?
WOODLIFF: That may have something to do with it, yes. But it's hard to put a finger on that sort of thing.
ARDEN: It sounds like you had some wonderful years.
WOODLIFF: Wonderful years. I know Lem and I, my old hunting partner, we talk about it now and then, and all we do is just shed a few tears and shake our heads. I know at home I have all my guns in a cabinet, and oftentimes I go in and I look at 'em and shake my head. It's a sad situation. It's a sad situation. Everyone just used to love the duck hunting, and they'd come from all over. The Fallon Greenhead Club used to be prosperous, and I don't know how many go to the meetings. I haven't been to a Greenhead meeting in years, and I happen to be a life member. I turned my stock over to my son, and then I was given a life membership to the Greenhead Club, but I don't go any more to the meetings.
ARDEN: Well, it sounds, if people came from Reno and all over, so many heard about it that maybe they killed too many?
WOODLIFF: No, I don't think that's it. I think mostly it has to do with the water situation.
ARDEN: The environment.
WOODLIFF: Yeah, because the ducks were coming here from the north, you know, going south. There wasn't the place any more for them to sit down and rest in their journey.
ARDEN: Did they divert the water? Was there a diversion of the water that it didn't get there any more?
WOODLIFF: I don't think so, I think it's just a lack of water and everything drying up down there.
ARDEN: Down in that region, uh-huh.
WOODLIFF: Too bad.
ARDEN: Well, anything else before we end the interview?
WOODLIFF: No, I think we've kind of made our run.
ARDEN: Well, thank you so much again and this really is the end of the interview.

Original Format

Audio Cassette


10:38, 1:01:32, 59:07

Social Bookmarking



Woodliff Jr., Frank (Other Interview).docx
Woodliff Jr., Frank (Other Interview).mp3
Woodliff, Frank Jr. (FINISHED)- Interview 1.docx
Woodliff, Jr Frank recording 1 of 2.mp3
Woodliff, Jr Frank recording 2 of 2.mp3
Woodliff, Jr. Frank Interview 2 (FINISHED).docx
Woodliff, Jr. Frank Interview 2.mp3


Churchill County Museum Association, “Frank Woodliff Jr. Oral History,” Churchill County Museum Digital Archive: Fallon, Nevada, accessed January 25, 2022,