Oral Histories

Ruby Ray Tangreen Zufelt

b. 1908

Ruby Zufelt

Excerpts from The Early Years of Ruby Ray:

(When we lived at LaSal). . . in the draw there where that light thing is going up to the Far West uranium mine. . .we started to dig a well. Dad “witched” it (located water with a forked willow stick, a practice still used by some people today) and found where water was running. Then he built a “windlass” (a winch, worked by a crank, to pull buckets out of a well) . I dug the dirt and he pulled it up till we got down to bedrock. Then I pulled it and he dug the rock. But I got a blister on my hand and it kept getting worse and worse until I knew I just couldn’t hang on to that windlass. I said, “Mother, I don’t dare run that windlass today. I don’t think I can hold it. I’m afraid my hand is too sore and I’d drop the bucket on Dad.” And she said, “Well, why don’t you tell your Dad?” She wouldn’t tell him, so I got down to the well and said, “Dad, I don’t think I can run that windlass. I’m afraid my hand is too sore and I’d drop the bucket on you.” He looked at my hand. “My God girl, I guess you can’t run the windlass. Why didn’t you tell me you had was sore?” It swelled up and I got on the horse and went up to the town site at LaSal. I showed it to Mrs. Herring and asked her what to do for it. She said, “Well, put pitch gum on it.” So I put pitch gum on it and it swelled up clear around here and way up around my fingers and clear back down around my wrist. And the pussy blister wouldn’t come to a head. I could hardly hold the lines to drive the horses. We had to haul water from Big Indian. There was a mill there where there had been a copper mine. Elaine Skews lived there in the summer, and Dad was care taker.

Read the other Oral Histories