Oral Histories

Ruby Ray Tangreen Zufelt

b. 1908

Ruby Zufelt

We got to Monticello about the eighth of July. Pop camped by the Carlisle Ranch and there was a pond there. Dad went into town and checked around. He ran into a man he mined with by the name of Dan Black, and he was cuttin’ hay. Mr. Black had raised this crop of hay and he hired Dad to help. Black had a couple of other guys to help him. So we stayed there a week or ten days. They had a little girl my age named La Preal. I had a nice time. The women would get the dishes all ready to wash. We had to wash them in a dishpan and rinse them in another dishpan, like they did then, because nobody had running water, or hot and cold running water. We just had to wash them in the dishpan and scald them with hot water out of the tea kettle. We washed dishes and played and had a good time while we were there.

Dad contracted to grub forty acres of sagebrush for Mr. Black. It was about eight miles out of town, I guess. So we moved our camp wagon out there and started grubbing. Dad railed it down with a big log. He put an angle iron across the front to make it sharp and two poles lying back to keep it level. He hooked the horses on to it and he’d drag it both ways to break a lot of it off. Then we’d burn it. Vern and I would help burn. We would do that at night when the fires were pretty. It was just kind of a recreation thing. Then we had to grub the brush that was left. Vern and I had to pick it up, pile it up, with some that was still alive and standing, so we could get that too. We picked sagebrush for a month, I guess, then we got the job done and moved out farther and looked for a place to locate.

Dad knew he had to go away to work, because there was no way to make a living around there. Nobody was hiring. We knew Mother couldn’t manage alone, without water and wood, like most of those dry farmers had. We went out to Herm Butts. He was just going to move to take over a store in Dove Creek. It was just one building that was built inside of a hill. You walked into the downstairs part and that was the store. You climbed the stairs up the hill to get to the living quarters. Pearl had a couple of extra rooms she rented out, and that was the hotel and grocery store. That building is still there. I don’t know what they use it for anymore, but we see it every time we go through Dove Creek.

Well, Dad ran that ranch for a couple of years. My eighth birthday was when we got out to the brush patch, where we grubbed sagebrush for my birthday out there. We ran the ranch for a couple or three years, while he ran the grocery store. Dad found a place next to Herm’s that had a spring and timber on it, ‘cause he knew he couldn’t go away to work and leave Mother where she would have to haul water and wood. She wasn’t able to do much of them things. So I was practically the man of the house when Dad was gone. I had to carry the water, wash on the board, and gather the stuff off the hillside that I could chop up for wood. We lived in Herm’s place for two years, then Dad filed on this place and built a dugout, a cellar, a pretty nice cellar. You walked in from the ground level. It was built into a hill, with one log around the edges to hold the roof up. We got the cellar dug and the log around the edges. It was getting winter. We needed the roof. The Malotts lived about two miles over the Colorado line and they had a post office. It was called Northdale, I believe. But, anyway, they ran the post office and we’d go over there after the mail once a week.

One time he was over there to get the mail and Mrs. Malott said, “Well, Lew, why don’t you put your wagon sheet over it (the dugout). It will make it light and keep the storm out, and you can live in it that way.” So, Dad put the wagon sheet over it and fastened it down good. We were just getting ready to move and it snowed two feet and the wagon sheet fell in with the snow. We had to shovel the snow out and put a roof on it after all. Then we moved into it and lived in it for a couple of years. Dad had to go to work as soon as we got moved in. When we were done with it there was some kind of a scare about the world coming to an end, or something, about that time. He was worried. He came home. He was working in Monticello. He came home for a little while and chopped up a bunch of wood and stacked it up along the dugout, so we’d have wood to keep warm if something terrible happened. The world was in kind of a panic about that time. We had a little ol’ stove with the oven door that opened on both sides. There was a grate in front where you took out the ashes. It slid back and forth. The firebox was up here where the grates were, where the ashes fell down. We didn’t have any coal oil around, so Vern and I would go chop chips off the lonely pine that Dad had cut down. We chopped chips off of that and carried them up to our place to burn on that hearth. It dragged the smoke up through the firebox to the chimney, so we could have light. We didn’t have coal oil. I think we had a little bit to start with, but we had a lot later when Dad got home. So that’s all we had for light, but it was warm all the time.

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