Oral Histories

Ruby Ray Tangreen Zufelt

b. 1908

Ruby Zufelt

Vern, Mother and I went down and haggled off a Christmas tree. It was a hard job for us. There was just a post in the middle of the cabin that held the roof up. We put the Christmas tree by the post and it left room for a bed on each side and the stove and the table. We didn’t have any ornaments. Dad went to town and bought a little roll of tissue paper. We cut tissue paper in strips and pasted it together to loop around the limbs for decoration, then cut out pictures from a catalog for the ornaments. We thought it was beautiful to have a tree, because we’d had a sagebrush the year before. We hadn’t seen any Christmas trees for ever, and it was wonderful to have a Christmas tree that was a Christmas tree. Mother made a new dress for my doll, Vern got a pair of mittens made out of socks, and Ireta got a ball made out of raveled out socks. That was our Christmas. Dad was sittin’ there and said, “I’m sure hungry for some candy.” Mother got up and went outside. Pretty soon she screamed and we thought old Snipp was after her. That old horse we had was pretty ornery and Mother was scared to death of him. Every time she’d go out, he’d try to nab her. So she screamed and we thought sure Snipp was after her. We run out and Mother said: “Oh, I saw Santy Clause and he just jumped over the fence there. He dropped this bag of candy when he jumped the fence.” So we had some candy.

We grubbed another twenty to twenty-five acres of sagebrush for Cap Hanson. That fall we grubbed about sixty-five acres. It took a lot of hard work.

The next summer we moved over to Herm Butt’s place. Dad farmed his farm for him for a couple of years. I guess I turned nine while we was there. Then we went to Mancos for school that winter. Thelma was born November 3, 1917.. . We had gone to Mancos in a covered wagon. We had to put the damned box back on the wagon and it was a heck of a job. . . . When Thelma was born, I had to stay out of school for a week or so to take care of Mother and the baby. I baked bread and the midwife came in and checked on mother. I had several loaves of nice bread baked sitting there on the cabinet. She just was so amazed that I was able to bake bread, but I had been doing it for quite a while.

The next year they had a fair at Lockaby. Lockaby isn’t even there any more, but Lockaby was a store and post office. They had a country fair there instead of Monticello. I baked loaf of bread to take over to the fair and won first prize. I got a blue ribbon on it.

(The war was on) and food was rationed. Everything was rationed during that war, mostly flour and sugar. You bought twenty-five pounds of flour, and you had to buy ten pounds of cornmeal or oatmeal or some other kind of grain to use with to so that yu could make bread and not use all the flour. They put a recipe for cooking with the different grains. Sugar was rationed, you couldn’t get very much sugar. They hadn’t started gas rationing then because nobody had cars anyway.

Dad’s name was up (for the draft) but he never got called. The war ended not too long after Thelma was born. Thelma was born on November third and the war was over on November eleventh.

There was very few telephones and no communication. . . . Radio was unheard of, or record players or anything like that. (When the war ended) people just went up and down the street screaming the news to everybody in the country to know: “The war’s over, the war’s over.” Everybody was out having such a good time, so happy.

Then the flu epidemic hit and there was quite a lot of people died with the flu. School was closed for about a month twice through the winter. (This epidemic killed 600,000 people across the country.) I was in the fourth grade, I was in “B” class and I was pretty mad about that because I knew I was better than a lot of the “A” class students. But I passed and a lot of the A class students didn’t pass, because school was out so much at the time. I passed the fourth grade.

We had an old dog we called Fido. I guess he[d been a sheep dog and the sheep herders had beat him or something, so he ran away and came to us. He was pretty much afraid and hid under the granary for two or three days while we was at Herm Butts’ place. We took a little milk and fed him. Dad finally got him to be not afraid of us. Then he was a real good faithful dog, and we always loved him. He’d go around in the snow and find a rabbit track, then chase the rabbit down under a log or a rock or into a hollow log. Then he’d bark. Dad made us a wire switch with two twists of bailing wire and a little prong on the end about four feet long. We’d carry that wire twist and go find where the dog was barking. We’d twist it down into its fur and pull it out of the log, and get a hold of its hind feet and lop its head off. And the dog would grab the head and guts and we’d take the rabbit home to eat. We had rabbit all the time that winter, about all we did have. Thelma’s birthday came along and I think she was three and she wanted rabbit pie. She didn’t know anything about a birthday cake, didn’t know what that was. Mother was telling her about Heaven, how nice Heaven was, or something, and she said, “And do they have board floors?” Pearl had board floors in her house and we just had a dirt floor. We’d got out of the cellar into a log house Dad had built. It was a big house fourteen by thirty-two feet. Up there most people just had a small cabin, but we had a pretty good sized house. It had a dirt floor and one window and a homemade door, and we had a dog to help us get some meat.

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