Oral Histories

Dennis E. “Pete” Byrd, Sr.


Pete Byrd

Q: Can you remember how much they were?

Pete: Oh, maybe $1500, something like this. I said “If I’m not back with these rugs by a certain date, you run the check through.” That was all I remember. So I took the rugs out to California and in this new room they spread them out on the floor, like throw rugs on the floor, like that rug. They laid there for two or three days. They got word that Mr. Odlum’s son, Stanley, had committed suicide by jumping out of a building in New York. All of sudden everybody was getting all wound up with getting ready to fly back on the airline to New York. I got hold of the secretary in Sedgewick and said “I’ve got to have a decision on these rugs. They haven’t said whether they want them or not and I’ve got to get them back and I can’t afford to own them.” So she got it taken care of. She said “They’ll take them. Go ahead and you don’t have to worry about it.” They flew back to New York. That was the big room they got condemned after it got built. They had to rebuild it. Out there the houses sat on mainly the hill. It was all desert and they graded up sand and so the hill was maybe 10 feet high or so. They put a house on it.

Q: Where is this?

Pete: Indio.

Q: California?

Pete: Yeah. It was surrounded by citrus groves and dates. On that ranch they’d put up, during one deal they put up I forget how many people. Right on the ranch. Bruce had a house, Mr. Odlum had a house, and I think Stanley or somebody else had a house. There were three big houses on there plus like a motel and a nine-hole golf course. There was a little two story building just across the road from the main house where they had the four rooms. There were two upstairs and two downstairs with baths and it was a guest house. I stayed in a room that Eisenhower stayed in when he came to the ranch.

Q: And your job was still basically flying? Pilot?

Pete: Well it was helping to manage this company and supervising the work. I went to Casper. I went to North Carolina, South Carolina, Washington D.C. and New York.

Q: So you were administrator, too?

Pete: Yes. This went on and it got to where I was running so much we decided to move to Salt Lake. We moved up there, I think it must have been before school started in ’58, because the kids went to school up there two years. I bought a nice house. I had my income. I don’t remember what it was, but I know it was about $700 plus so much an hour for my airplane. We were still getting so much royalty off the mining claims. I think it was $1500 a month plus I wrote checks on the bank account covering my expenses.

Q: So this was about ‘58?

Pete: Between ‘58 and ‘60. Say ‘57 to ‘59.

Q: So we’ve covered about ten years this morning. I think we’ll have to stop now and we’ll just have to continue this.

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