Oral Histories

Dennis E. “Pete” Byrd, Sr.


Pete Byrd

Q: Were you living in Monticello?

Pete: No.

Q: Did you move down there?

Pete: No, no. I lived here by the old airport. I flew Fred Stoye and (Kenny Rid’s?) brother, to Salt Lake with a plat rolled up to talk to the bankers about financing their subdivision. The plat was from out in the new subdivision. On that plat I picked out a lot. I said “I want this lot.” When the house was built, that was our house. We lived there for a year or two. By that time, we had enough money that, when the house was ready, Mary and I went up to Salt Lake. We flew up to Salt Lake and went in to the furniture store up there and bought all of the furniture and furnished that new house. Like I say, the Odlum job became more and more time consuming. Part of my deal was that I had bought a new Cessna 180 equipped the way they wanted it equipped. They guaranteed me so many hours a month, that they paid me whether I flew it or not. We had a little (mine?) up above Rangeley, Colorado. As a result of this, the publicity came from these big deals. Everybody that had a prospect was trying to get to and from (there?). He wanted a uranium mine in California so he made deals, leased them, I guess you’d say. (?)around Blythe and Raleigh and down in that area. Then their practice was to live in New York. They had an apartment on Riverside Drive in New York and then in the winter time they had a ranch at Indio.

Q: California?

Pete: That was where they spent the winters. Part of my job, we had a little crew to do (?) development which was to try to find uranium on these claims he had out there. I’d fly out there. My instructions were that whenever I was on engineering business on the ranch by plane, I was to spend the night there because they charged each company for nights that people stayed there. There were more ways to deal than you can imagine. The lease holder of my airplane, I got my checks for the airplane, from Albuquerque from an outfit called Eric (Lease? Leach?) Corporation which was set up to lease airplanes to airlines. Randy Loveless, another (clinic?) guy, was a good friend of theirs. So when I was at the ranch, when I was out at Blythe working with the guys on the mine, when it got late in the afternoon, I flew to Indio and spent the night at the ranch. When they were there, there was just no telling who would show up for dinner. I got well acquainted with the housekeeper, and various nurses (he had a nurse that worked for him all the time), and his secretary. It was an experience that was incomparable. I mean, you talk about living high on the hog. Well, Jackie had these trophies about this high with (Harman?) trophy, the (?) trophy, for airplane racing. She bought this rug at the World’s Fair and it had been in storage up until then. This was ‘55, ‘56, ‘57, somewhere in there. So they built a room for this rug and the rug was about the size of this house, I mean the main part of this house, with a huge fireplace in the end of it. The room was so big they had to have special-made furniture for it. That’s where these trophies were displayed and they had a grand piano in one corner and the other corner was set up with a bunch of tables where they served meals. When I was there I was treated just like I belonged there. Bruce Odlum, when he merged these companies together, the promoters had a guy named (Rudolph Larsen?) …(?) the five other companies. All those up at Newcastle Wyoming, pretty far north in Montana they had (Transport 9?) and beach sand at Jacksonville, Florida then, and they merged all those things into what eventually became the Colorado Mining Company and I was made the director and vice president of it. Bruce, his son, was the president. Our directors’ meeting was held in the office of (Simpson?), Thatcher, and (Bartlett?) in New York at (125?) Broadway. Bruce and (Nola?) lived in the Drake Hotel so he always stayed with her and I stayed in the hotel. One time, when I was there at the ranch, we got some claims down by (Sedgewick?) Arizona, from a Dr. Lincoln? He told us about, told Mr. Odlum about seeing some Navajo rugs at Copper Mountain trading post and Odlum asked me to go look at them. So Lincoln took us out there and I don’t know where it was. I probably couldn’t take you to Fcopper Mountain trading post but it was some place on the south side of Lake Powell at the time. I’d say about halfway down, way out there in the middle of no place. We went out there and this old guy who ran the trading post had these Navajo rugs hanging in his warehouse on wire. He pulled them down and unrolled them. I would imagine that one of them was so large and big that I couldn’t get it in the back of the airplane folded up but it was probably like the one over there.

Q: 12 x 10?

Pete: Something like that. The other one was smaller than that but it was still about the biggest rug I’ve ever seen. He quoted us a price on it. I just can’t make a decision like this so I told him that I thought he would like them we would go ahead and buy them. Finally I made a deal with that guy. I said “I’ll take the rugs and give you a check.”

Read the other Oral Histories