Oral Histories

Ruby Ray Tangreen Zufelt

b. 1908

Ruby Zufelt

Q. And you put turpentine on it?

A. Yeah, that’s all I knew and that’s all he had.

Q. And it saved the finger?

A. Oh yeah. Well, no, it was cut off and he lost the finger. He found it the next morning, but it was too late. Mother couldn’t take care of it, she couldn’t even start to. Ruby could do it, Ruby can do anything. He told me there was a girl about my age just a couple of farms over, and how to get there. He says, “You can get on that little pony and go see her if you want,” so I did that one day. Her name was Octavia Dubois.

Q. I marvel at how well you can remember names from that long ago.

A. Well, it was such a different name. I’d never heard of Octavia before and I always remembered it.

Q. Now this is while you were in Washington?

A. We were where the wheat belt is over there in Washington, not very far from Oregon. It was in the wheat belt and the threshing was going on. We stayed at his place close to two weeks, before he got the combine. Then there were two or three days of cooking for a bunch of men to feed. After we got a little money, we were on the way again.

We wrote to Dad general delivery, ‘cause he got there in three or four days, with just the girls on the train. He had a house rented and had groceries and things when we finally got there. I think we called him and he come and got us. He was working where there was a post office. Mother wrote to him from where we were and got a letter written back to him general delivery so he knew we were coming.

Q. What did you do in Bellingham?

Excerpt from The Courting Years of Ruby Ray:

I went to work in the canning factory, canning pears. You cored fifty half pears to a pan, and did two pans for six cents. I made about $2.60 per day. That was about standard wages. The new sugar factory was just opening up and Dad got on as a carpenter. He got me on as relief operator, so I did a different job every day for six days. That lasted a couple of months.

Back to the DeLong interview:

. . .After that, I worked for a lady who had an operation. She couldn’t get anyone to take care of her little kids. I was sixteen by then.

(Continued from Courting Years) Then mother had another sick spell and I was home to take care of her for a couple of weeks before Christmas. At Christmas time some charity organization delivered a big box to us with a lot of food and a few toys. Mother and Dad were pleased. I was embarrassed.

Q. Your schooling was by learning experience, wasn’t it?

A. I guess so, I didn’t get much help. I was taking a correspondence course in sewing and I think the books were three dollars. I got through with the books I had, then I couldn’t afford to get the others. I didn’t have any money when I was married.

Q. You must have learned an awful lot from those books. You’ve always been a good seamstress.
Mother wasn’t particularly a good seamstress, but I just had an eye for it I guess. I learned before I opened the books, ‘cause I took in sewing when we first moved to town, before Lenore was born. (Tape changed and new session.)

A. I don’t know where we left off on the other tape, but by this time I’d married Clarence (“Doc”) Tangreen and we were living in a sheep camp.

Q. You didn’t have much housekeeping, did you? The floors were pretty small.

A. Housekeeping wasn’t up to much. I had a pine bough and I’d sweep the floor, what little was left after we rolled the beds up.

Q. I wonder how people would manage if they had to do that today?

A. They probably would if they had to. If they had to, they’d know what it was all about. They couldn’t believe it now.

Q. No. No, they couldn’t. Now they’d run the other way, wouldn’t they?

A. No place to run (in those days). No paved roads or paved sage brush. It wasn’t that hard then, because it was what you were used to, what you expected.

Q. Were all your children born here in Moab.

A. Yes. Dixie is the oldest, then Andrew. Dixie was born in the hospital, and Andrew was born in the house Lucien lived in. It was next to Mrs. Bailey, where Ralphie lives. When Dough was born, Clarence made arrangements with Mrs. Hector to keep me and the two little kids till my baby came. We lived with her for a month, then Doug was born. Then we went back to LaSal and lived at Lucien’s place.

Q. Did Lucien live in Montana at one time?

A. No, I think he lived in Idaho when his dad died. They came back from somewhere up there. I can’t remember the name of the town, but it’s on the border of Idaho, I think. Anyway, her brothers were in Idaho. When Clarence’s dad died, they took over the ranch and moved back here. They were my mother’s neighbors while we still lived at LaSal.

Q. Did you live up at old LaSal, or down where it is now?

A. Down where it is now, but we lived way down in the valley where the Hecla Mine is. My cornfield was where the light company is now. It’s all grown up to sagebrush now.

Q. You were going to tell me about some of the experiences when you milked the cows.

A. Well, we lived on the ranche for quite a while and it was quite a ways from town. I didn’t know anything about town. We finally moved to town before Lenore was born, and Clarence bought a little old shack that didn’t have any lining in it at all. It was just 2X4s inside, 2X4s on the roof, no sheeting. I had to carry cardboard boxes from town and open them up and tack ‘em up on the walls. I covered the cracks with strips of sheets, so the cracks wouldn’t show and then I took in ironing to get enough wallpaper to wallpaper the inside. But it looked decent and I took in ironing enough to make curtains. The floors were bare, but I scrubbed them with lye and soapsuds and got them nice and shiny and clean. Water ran down through the cracks when I washed. I’d do the laundry on the board, then I’d scrub the wash basin, potty chair, and highchair, besides the floor. I’d usually get the laundry or ironing in and do that the same day. Then I could take or do sewing for people.

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