Oral Histories

Ruby Ray Tangreen Zufelt

b. 1908

Ruby Zufelt

We started out with that darn little buggy. It was like a little wagon and team that they used to deliver milk in. The big old black horse was crippled and the horses didn’t have any shoes on. We started out in October and went as far as old LaSal. We stopped at Lynn Day’s father’s place for the night. Lynn was just a boy ‘bout my age. It snowed six inches. The next morning we had to move out in six inches of snow and go down Paradox Hill. We spent the night at Paradox, where the store is. We had our beds that rolled out on the ground, and Dutch ovens and frying pans to cook in.

Q. Pretty primitive.

A. Oh, I wrote that story and Del (Ruby’s fifth husband) just had a fit. He said, “Well, who greased the wagon?” I said, “Well, I did an Vern helped me. I could pull the wheel and he could put the axle grease on. He knew how to do it.” The horses could only make about twenty miles a day, ‘cause they were not shod and the roads were so bad. They were gravelling the roads with great big ol’ rocks. The horses were weak to start with, ‘cause they had just grass all summer, while they were in the pasture. When we got to Gunnison, Mother stopped and went in the post office, or somewhere, and asked how we’d make it over the pass. There’s a big pass somewhere over there. The men told her, “You’ll never in the world make it. You’d freeze to death in that outfit. You could never make it over that mountain with that outfit.” There was a farm down there and we went down to see if they’d take the horses for the winter. The lady took us in, fed us, and let us sleep in a bed. That was in Gunnison, Colorado.

We got that far and Mother called, or wired, Dad. She told him we couldn’t make it any farther with that outfit. We left the horses there to pasture for the winter, and Dad sent us train tickets. It took two or three days for them to come. Mother went up town and bought a little piece of cotton crepe and made me a blouse, then bought me a little skirt to go with it. Vern had overalls that he could wear, but I didn’t have anything but overalls. I couldn’t go on the train with nothing. We got to Lafayette, ‘bout twenty miles out of Denver, and got off the train.

Excerpt from The Courting Years of Ruby Ray:

I continued to correspond with Clarence (Tangreen) after we got to Lafayette. I’d dream when letters came in on the train. I was so homesick for the blue skies and mountains in Utah. The skies were always grey there (in Lafayette).

Back to the DeLong interview:

Dad had a house rented. There wasn’t much in it, just a bed, a stove and a table, so we got by. We stayed there till Christmas, when Dad got out of work. He had sold aluminum and knew how to sell people stuff, so he took a job of canvassing ladies’ wear and men’s socks and stuff. He got me a case, too.

We went to Ft. Collins and tried our luck at selling that stuff. And he got me a pair of high-top, old fashioned lace-up shoes. We didn’t have too much luck. We went to Ft. Collins on the bus to work. We didn’t do too good so he took the cases back. He got a job in Ft. Collins on a farm. He hired a truck to move us up to Ft. Collins. It was winter and cold. He, Mother, and Jenny rode in the cab. He loaded what little furniture we had and a couple of quilts on top. We were in the back with those quilts, but it was still cold as heck. I was quite sick when we got there. I vomited and was sick all night. He didn’t know I was sick, and told me I’d better go out and canvas that stuff. We still had the kits at that time, and there were some houses away from where we lived. I went up and canvassed a couple of those and didn’t do any good, so I came on home and went to bed. I came down with rheumatic fever. I was sick for quite while. He didn’t realize how sick I was. He come in and said, “You’d better go to town in the morning and see if you can find a job.” Well, I hobbled over to the neighbors on a broomstick and called an ad that was in the paper for a housekeeper. They said they had already hired a girl. The next morning they called back and the girl hadn’t shown up. They wanted me to come to work. I was quite miserable. My hands and feet were all swollen, and I couldn’t stand up very long. The lady was old, I’d say about fifty or fifty- four, but she seemed old. I had to sit down to wash dishes, and I had to make the bed. Then she helped serve the meals and stuff. I couldn’t lift the coffee pot, because I had rheumatic fever and was crippled. It took me twenty minutes to lace up my shoes in the morning, those high-topped shoes.

She let me keep working. I could sit on that high stool and wash the dishes. She had about twenty men she fed all the time. I could do a lot of the work, but there were some things I couldn’t do. She’d have the other girls pour the coffee and do the things I couldn’t do, so I worked there until May, I think.

School was out and they had just put in a new sugar beet factory up in Wyoming. Dad decided to go up there and thin beets, ‘cause he could work the whole family that way. And they were furnishing transportation. They had rented a train car for the help to go up there on. We piled into that car and went to Wyoming.

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