Gladys Pratt Young
Benson Young Parkinson
Gladys Pratt Young
Benson Young Parkinson
Gladys Pratt Young was born March 24, 1895, in Colonia Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico, the
youngest child of Helaman and Emaline Victoria Billingsley Pratt. Victoria was born to a pioneer
family in Salt Lake, and Helaman, a son of Parley P. Pratt, was born in 1846 on the Mormon
trail. Victoria and Helaman helped pioneer the Muddy Mission in Nevada before being sent to
the colonies in Mexico. (For their story, see Mary Pratt Parrish, Look to the Rock from Which Ye
Are Hewn [privately published, ca. 1984; available in the LDS Church Historical Library].)
Gladys spent her childhood in a second colony near Juárez, Colonia Dublán, and on the family’s
ranch in the Sierra Madre Mountains. Her father died when she was thirteen and her mother
when she was fourteen, after which Gladys moved to Mexico City to stay with her brother, Rey,
where she witnessed events of the Mexican Revolution. She moved with Rey and his family to
Manassa, Colorado, then probably attended teacher college in Salt Lake, then went to Ogden to
teach gym at Mound Fort Junior High. She married S. Dilworth Young in the Salt Lake Temple
May 31, 1923, and raised two children, Dilworth Randolph and Leonore, in Ogden.
Gladys was know for her dances, dramas, haunted houses, dancing dinner parties, and puppet
shows all over northern Utah. She directed pageants on the side lawn of the Young home at
1506-24th Street, on the mountain and pond at Camp Kiesel, and at the Ogden Stadium. The
largest of these, for Ogden’s Pioneer Days, had a budget of $12,000 and a cast of 1,500 actors,
dancers, and extras, recruited from every LDS and non-LDS congregation and civic group in
town. Her husband Dilworth was called to be a General Authority in 1945, and Gladys served as
mission mother in the New England Mission from 1947-1951. The Youngs moved to 575 -J-
Street in Salt Lake in 1956. Gladys traveled with her husband on various mission tours until
paralyzed by a stroke in 1959. Dilworth cared for her until she died on April 3, 1964. (For the
details of Gladys’s later life, see Benson Young Parkinson, S. Dilworth Young: General
Authority, Scouter, Poet [Covenant, 1994].)
The stories in this book were given to me by Gladys’s niece, Mary Pratt Parrish (Rey’s daughter),
in about 1985. Mary, whom the family calls Nena, told me Dilworth gave them to her rather than
throw them out after Gladys’s death. She said he had offered them to Leonore, who didn’t want
them, though when I asked Leonore she had no memory of it. No doubt the misunderstanding
grew from the normal grief for Gladys’s loss and the confusion of settling her affairs. The stories
are handwritten for the most part, on yellowed, lined notepaper. Most of them exist in two or
three drafts, disagreeing in wording and often in detail (my experience as a biographer tells me
that’s the norm in lifewriting). The papers include a few other stories set at her home in Salt Lake
or in the mission field, a poem or two, and page after page of tortured, stream-of-consciousness
writing, often in the form of prayers, written after her stroke. It’s possible she began the Mexican
stories before the stroke, but dates and details in the other papers place them in or around the
summer of 1960, and Leonore and one or two of the grandchildren have memories of her writing
from her wheelchair. One entry that may refer to the Mexican stories goes:
And now I am going to try something that may work. I must have an absorbing
experience to help me to stop this infernal concentration on myself. So I am going
to try to write as interestingly as I can about the main events of my mother’s life,
her joys and sorrows, her responses to all the pioneer life. I shall do my best to
keep it coherent. However, if it goes off at angles, I’ll pull it back and get on the
track again. I need something absorbing and I can’t do dramatics, gardening,
house decorating as yet but I can write with this good right hand and a pen, so
here goes. Maybe some of it will be untrue. Some of it will be only half true. But
all of it will be most sincere. I’ve got to save my emotional life, and as I save my
emotional life I save my soul and my physical life as well. I will not work at this
too hard but only when I need good absorbing thought to soothe the self-indulgence of my emotion concerning myself. Heaven help the venture. Please let
this therapy work, Lord, and save me from horror and disgrace with Dil and all my
This book includes just the Mexican stories, because they form a whole. The originals of these
and the others, plus some she wrote of her parents’ experiences pioneering and accounts of her
own spiritual experiences, I have in my files and would be happy to make available to family
members. For this book I’ve combined the different versions of the Mexico stories, smoothed up
the transitions, standardized spelling and punctuation (though not all–some of the eccentricities
are expressive of her character), and trimmed the wordiness some, making every effort not to
dilute the natural charm of her prose style. (I have precedent for the trimming. Leonore says that
when Gladys wrote plays and pageants, “She always wrote very, very flowery, and much too
much, and my father was the one that cut them” [S. Dilworth Young, 191].) I’ve been obliged to
fill in various gaps. In particular, the three paragraphs in Chapter 10 describing how to brand a
calf and break a horse were not written by Gladys but by me, based on my wife Robin’s
memories of ranch life in New Mexico in the 1960s. I’m quite sure the techniques are similar and
that this is close to what Gladys wrote, though I have no way of knowing. Additionally, the
account in Chapter 10 of Gladys having a tooth pulled is missing from the papers Nena gave me.
I’ve reconstructed it from the abbreviation Nena gives in Look to the Rock, pages 60-61.
Nena paraphrases several of these stories in Look to the Rock, though where Gladys writes Carl,
Nena gives her father’s name, Rey. I don’t know whether she heard these stories from her father,
or Gladys told her she was taking artistic license to get the stories to fit a single narrative, or
whether the license was on the part of Nena. It would have been a simple thing to ask Nena, but
by the time I noticed, she had passed away. Gladys gives her own age in the stories as ten, which
would put them in 1905. Rey married in 1900 but continued to work the Pratt ranch with his
brothers Carl and Ira. (I’ve called the ranch Cliff Ranch here, after one of the drafts and Nena’s
book, though another draft calls it El Rancho Grande.) Rey continued on the ranch until 1906,
when he was called as a missionary, then soon after as president of the Mexican Mission, then
finally as a General Authority. Carl, two years younger than Rey, never married and died in the
winter of 1905 at the age of 25. I imagine him living at home and helping care for his mother and
little sister. Certainly it makes sense for him to be driving the wagon in the early chapters.
Anyway, here are the stories, written for Gladys’s grandchildren, reaching them just in time for
some of their own children to hear them while still young. I was a baby when these stories were
composed, and can barely remember my grandmother, and then as someone withered by illness
and age, her voice slurred and gravelly, though after editing them I feel like I’ve heard her true
voice now. One thing I know–my children, who range in age from five to sixteen, like them
quite a lot, and so do I.
The Call to Mexico
My name is Gladys Pratt Young. I live with my husband, S. Dilworth Young, in Salt Lake City,
in a beautiful house on Myrtle Hill. I am an old woman, and I have to stay in a wheelchair now,
but I am going to tell you about the time I was a little girl.
My father was Helaman Pratt. In his day, Heavenly Father, through the President of the Church,
asked some of the men to have more than one wife. Now the Lord has said that the day for that is
passed, and that men should only have one wife now. But at the time, my father had two wives,
Dora Wilcken Pratt, whom I called Aunt Dora, and Emaline Victoria Billingsley Pratt, my
In 1887 Helaman was called by the prophet to take his two families and go to Old Mexico, to
build a home there, and to stay there all his life. This was called a life’s mission. Many men in the
early days were called like this to go to different places and start colonies, to preach the gospel to
the people around them, and to teach them how to live like Latter-day Saints. Now this was a
hard thing to do. Helaman had built a house at the mouth of City Creek Canyon in Salt Lake City
for Aunt Dora and Aunt Victoria and his families of boys and girls. It was a beautiful home, with
a running stream and many lovely trees and shrubs and wildflowers all around. But Helaman was
an obedient man and loyal to all the priesthood asked of him, so he went home to Dora and
Victoria and told them what they had been called to do.
Right away they sold their beautiful home and their other possessions and began to pack the
things they needed to take with them on the trip to Old Mexico. It was decided that Aunt Dora
should go first, because Victoria had a very young baby, and it would have been hard for her to
travel so far with such a little one. So Victoria stayed in Salt Lake one year longer, but Aunt Dora
and her children went with my father.
First Helaman and Aunt Dora and the children boarded a train. The train moved slowly and the
journey took many days and nites. Finally they came to the place where the United States ends
and Old Mexico begins. These two countries are divided by a river called the Rio Grande. On the
banks of this big river they made a camp and camped out until Helaman could find a big covered
wagon to buy and some horses so the wagon could be pulled over the road. Finally he found and
bought the wagon and the team, then Aunt Dora and her family packed their things in the big
wagon box and climbed in.
There were no bridges in those days. The horses had to walk right into the deep water and pull
the heavy wagon after them. In places the river was so deep that the horses had to swim. This
made all the children very frightened, and they screamed a little. Helaman made them keep very
quiet because he said they were frightening the horses, and if they got too frightened they would
quit pulling, and then the wagon would float down the river and they would all be drowned. So
the children were very quiet and the horses swam well until they got to the other bank of the
river. Then the mud was so deep that the horses slipped and slid all around and almost fell down.
They pulled and pulled until finally they got their feet into good hard ground. Then they pulled
the wagon up onto the hard bank of the other side of the river. All the children let out a great big
yell and ran all around, glad and happy.
They traveled in this covered wagon, camping out at nite, for many days. They didn’t know
exactly where they were going to build their new home, but they did know where the Apostle that
was in charge of the mission was staying. His name was Moses Thatcher. They found Elder
Thatcher and learned that from him they could buy a big, big piece of land way up in the high
mountain country. So they bought three thousand acres and decided to make their first new home
on this big ranch. They called it Cliff Ranch. Some folks called it Pratt Ranch because the Pratt
family lived there.
Off they started. The roads were very rough, and in many places there weren’t any roads at all.
Helaman and his sons had to make little bits of road, a few miles at a time, ahead of them so the
horses could get the wagons over the ground. They camped at nite under the wagon box, with
blankets and canvas covers spread out and more blankets to cover them. Aunt Dora and the
littlest babies slept in the covered box so they could be more comfortable. At long last they
arrived at the mountain ranch, very tired from the journey. They decided to build a log cabin on a
beautiful little hillside covered with tall grasses and wildflowers and standing between two
mountain streams that flowed down into a big river. The cliffs on either side of the river were
very steep and covered with green moss, so they called the river the Piedras Verdes, which means
“green stones” in Spanish.
To make the cabin, they cut down trees with their axes, and trimmed off the branches to make
them smooth. They laid these trees together on top of one another, then filled up the cracks with
mud mixed with straw. This was to keep the cabin warm and the wind and rain out. In one end of
the cabin they built a great big chimney with a wide, deep fireplace. This rock chimney was taller
than the cabin and so wide that you could walk behind the fire on each side and not get burned.
The fireplace was their heater and their cooking place.
There were several other families that came to live near the Pratt family, all with little children to
play with. One of the mothers knew how to teach school, so she became the teacher, and the
children six years old or older went to school every day. They didn’t have desks. The benches
were logs of wood like a big tree cut in two down the middle and wooden pegs stuck in the ends
to make legs so they could stand up. They used slates to do their writing and their arithmetic,
because they didn’t have paper and pencils or blackboards either. They had only a few books, so
they took turns practicing their reading. They had many good times playing together at recess,
and often after school they would go on a long hike together up over the mountains or take a
swim in the big river. Afterwards they would race each other to their homes, very hungry and
Now all the mamas, knowing they would be coming, would have nice things cooking in the
fireplaces. They made a kind of hot cornbread called johnnycake in a Dutch oven, a big, black
iron pot. The Dutch oven sat right down in the glowing, hot coals and had red coals piled on top
of its lid too. In another Dutch oven would be cooking vegetables, and in another a roast of beef
or deer that the bigger boys had brought home to the cabin after the hunt, or in a frying pan trout
from the streams. The children ate the hot johnnycake with lots of butter and molasses syrup.
Sometimes they had hot, round biscuits, fluffy and sugary and covered with cinnamon, which the
children called puffballs. It was all so good cooked over the open fire.
For several years they lived on Cliff Ranch, except for one year spent on a ranch farther down the
mountain. Then more and more people began to settle in the valley below, and most the families
in the mountains left to live among them. Finally Helaman decided to move his families to the
valley settlements. He decided not to sell Cliff Ranch but to keep it and come to it in the
summertime. The family lived first in Colonia Juárez, and in that colonia (that is what the towns
were called) I was born on March 24, 1895. I was Victoria’s ninth child and Helaman’s eleventh
daughter. Soon Helaman bought farmland in Colonia Dublán, another settlement nearby. He
moved his families there and built two beautiful and well-made homes, one for Victoria and one
for Dora. These homes were built of brick with high ceilings and big windows and beautiful
doors. They were furnished with lovely old-fashioned furniture that they had been able to have
shipped in to them. They had beautiful fireplaces that made the homes warm and cheerful. Here
they lived the rest of their lives.
Our Homes in the Valley
The valley home had many, many fields of wheat and corn and potatoes. It had many cherry,
pear, and peach trees. It had lawns and vegetable gardens and very big shade trees. Aunt Dora
planted purple Concord grapes and white muscats and white seedless grapes. Mother and Aunt
Dora planted rose bushes, and because the water was very scarce, they would carry water to the
grapevines and roses in buckets. First they would draw the water up from the well by a rope.
Then they would lift it, although it was very heavy, and pour it all around the roots of the roses
and the tender plants. This made everything grow and live, and the homes became very beautiful.
When the grapes bloomed, a horrible bug called a June bug would get on them and eat them so
fast that they would almost destroy them. Then Father would gather up all the children of both
families and take us to the vineyard. There he would leave buckets of water with some poison in
it that would kill the bugs. It was now our job to pick and scrape the June bugs into the poison
from the grape vines. It wasn’t a pleasant job, and sometimes when we would see the handfuls of
big, ugly bugs struggling around in the poison, finally dying, we would cry and try to stop
working. But Father taught us that if we wanted anything that was worthwhile in life, we had to
work for it. Sometimes the work was hard and disagreeable, but we always had to finish what we
began to do. And when the grapes grew and ripened and got big and juicy and firm, then we
would feast on them and believe that our father was right and that the pay for honest work was
We had six pretty little jersey cows. They looked all brown and yellow with big, soft eyes and
long, graceful tails. They gave us very much rich, creamy milk. When they were all lined up in
the stable, I had to put on some old Levi’s and sit on a stool in the stall and milk the cows one at
a time. We would separate the cream from the skim milk with a machine we called a separator.
Then we would let the milk and the cream get very cold in the north window with a net cloth
around the outside of the pans and buckets. Just before bedtime, we would pour out a bowl of
milk, then pour into it a lot of good, rich cream. Into this we would crumb some lovely, crusty
bread and sprinkle sugar over all. Perhaps there would be a platter of little new green onions on
the table, and a platter of rich, golden homemade cheese. This bread and creamy milk with onion
and cheese made a supper that was fit for kings and queens, and kept us very well and healthy.
We always had plenty of cream left, and every two or three days we churned it into butter. The
churn looked like a wooden barrel with a lid on it. The lid fit tight and had a round hole in the
very center of it. Up through this hole came the long handle of the dasher, which was pushed up
and down, up and down, and dashed the cream into butter. I loved to watch the butter when it
first came from the churn and the whey would be pressed out of it before Mother stuffed it into a
butter mold. The mold held exactly one pound of butter and pressed a pretty design in the center,
like a flower or a pineapple or something interesting. We kept all the butter we wanted to eat and
to make cakes and pies and cookies. The rest we sold to the village store, and they would sell it
to other people.
We also had a chicken coop full of hens and roosters and little chickens. Every day, part of my
work was to gather the fresh eggs for Mother to make good things to eat like omelets, bacon and
eggs, ham and eggs, and popovers. We always had our own bacon and ham, because Father
would kill a pig in the cold months of the year, cut it up, and hang it in the smokehouse for
several days until it was dried out and smoky-flavored. We ground all the scrap meat after we
had shaved and cured the hams and bacon and roasts. We flavored the ground pork with garden
sage and salt and pepper, just right, and stuffed it tightly into small, round cloth bags. Sometimes
we didn’t have bags, so we had to use one of the intestines of the pig, after cleaning it
thoroughly. This held the sausage very well.
Another favorite meat we made was called head cheese. We would clean the head very well, then
boil it many hours in water to which we had added spices, until the meat was very tender. Then
we would scrape it off the bones, grind it up, season it with sage and salt and pepper, then press it
down into a round ball. We children were allowed to slice off a piece when we were hungry for a
sandwich or some warmed-over lunch meat.
The part that I looked forward to the most was the tail. Always Father would cut it off and give it
to Mother. She would clean it good and put it into a hot oven and leave it there until it was very
crisp and brittle and well done. Then she would let me have it to eat. I sprinkled it with salt. As
soon as I bit into it, the tail would break off in crisp, tender bits. I thought it the best-tasting thing
in the world. We called it piggy crackling, and each child had to have turns and share the
privilege of having and eating this pioneer delicacy.
The school in the valley was a very good school, almost as good as you have today. We had good
teachers who taught us how to read and write and spell very well. We would choose sides and see
who could go the longest time without missing a word. If anyone missed one, that person had to
sit down, and the side that had the most standing in the spelling line at the end of the contest
won. We had good desks like your school desks in this school, and pencils and pens and ink to
write with, and the teachers had blackboards and chalk to show how to do our problems. At
recess we played hard-running games like pomp-pom-pull-away, steal-stick, prisoners-base, and
last-couple-out. We played ball games like one-old-cat and rounders and kickball. It was all such
Then there were holidays also. The best one, I think, was one called Cinco de Mayo, which is the
celebration of the Mexican Independence Day, almost like the Fourth of July. We would come to
the school ground early in the morning when the school bell would ring. Sometimes we would
gather in the park where there would always be a band playing lovely music, and I can remember
that my heart would always take a little jump as I looked up to the steeple of the schoolhouse and
saw the flag waving in the breeze. It was not the stars and stripes, nor the flag of the red, white,
and blue, but it was a red, white, and green flag, and on its white middle, instead of stars, there
was a huge eagle sitting on a cactus, holding a snake in its claws. We felt we were in a foreign
country, but the Mexicans had let us come to their land and share it and make comfortable homes
here, so we were proud and grateful for the new Mexican flag.
After the flag had been raised on high, we all went into the assembly room of the schoolhouse,
and there we listened to a program of songs and speeches about the history of Mexico. Much of
the program was given in the Spanish language, but we were beginning to understand it and
speak it a little. Mother sang a beautiful Spanish song called La Golondrina. Then she would
sing the Mexican national anthem. When she came to the chorus of this song, all the people
would stand and sing with her. The band would join in, and everyone felt very happy and gay.
After the program, we would go outside on the playground and be grouped by age and run races
against each other. If we won, we got a small prize. The races I loved the best were the horse
races. Two horses would be matched and we would ride to the starting line, where two of the
judges held a string. Then a judge would count, “Ready, set, go!” and the other judges would
drop the string, and off we would race to the finish line.
Next came a very exciting event, the greased pig chase. Five or six little baby pigs would be
placed in a pen. When the time drew near, the men would go into the pen and chase the pigs
around until they caught one by the front or hind leg. Holding it tight, they would rub grease all
over its back and stomach and legs and head. When the boys were lined up on the line and ready
to start, the gate to the pigpen would be opened. Out would run the pigs, and away would go the
boys after them, darting this way and that, trying to catch one by the foot. If they did get one, they
would have an awful time trying to hold him, because his skin was so greasy, and because both
boy and pig would be slippery from running. No sooner would a boy have a piglet fast than it
would somehow wiggle right up and pop right out of his arms and scramble away. Sometimes a
boy hung so tight to a leg and the piglet pulled so hard that it dragged him right on his belly
through the dirt. Of course, he would be covered with dust and dirt and grease, and have to
change his clothes afterwards. Finally one or two of the boys would catch and hold a pig long
enough to get him in the pen again. They were the winners and would be given a very handsome
prize, maybe a new mouth organ or a bat and ball or a baseball mitt. Or maybe the prize would be
five pesos, so if a boy won, he would feel very rich for a while.
We all went home tired and hungry, and all the younger children were put to bed. But the papas
and mamas and all the older boys and girls and young men and women went back to the hall, and
on well-waxed floors with an orchestra of violins and bass viols, maybe a banjo and a guitar and
an accordion or a marimba, the people would dance the polka, the schottische, the two-step, and
the square dance until midnite. It was all these good times together that made the people forget
their difficulties and be happy together. It made them learn to love one another better.
Another holiday that I loved was our May Day celebration. We would pack a picnic lunch and
climb onto hayracks piled soft with new straw, or we would ride in a big covered wagon or in a
two-seated buggy that we called a buckboard. Some of us rode on horses. We all went to the
same place, usually a large grove of shady cottonwood trees. Because it was May, all the
cottonwood trees had buds on them. These would pop and scatter white, cottony fluff all over the
ground. It was fun running through these fluffy bunches of cotton and kicking them in feathery
clouds in the air.
Soon we would see the older boys running to the clearing in the grove with a tall pole, which
they would fasten securely into the ground. The pole had a beautiful wreath of flowers on top,
and wound all down its length were garlands of beautiful garden flowers picked in the dawn.
Long, colored silk streamers hung from a round wheel at the top of the pole. A man would be
calling, “Come to the May Queen booth and vote for the one you want to be Queen of the May.”
Everyone would go over and write on a piece of paper whom they wanted, and when all had
voted, the man in charge would announce who the Queen was to be. He would find the maiden,
take her arm, and lead her to the throne. This was usually just a chair on top of a platform with
some steps leading up to it. Little flower girls stood on each step with baskets of flowers, and
other little girls would follow the Queen, carrying garlands of flowers, and still other little girls
walked in front of her, scattering petals in her path. When she got to the throne the bishop would
come up the steps and place a beautiful crown of flowers on her head, and all the little girls
would make a deep curtsy to the Queen. One would come close to her and give her a beautiful
mayflower basket to hold in her hands.
Then came running to the maypole older girls and boys, one for each silk ribbon streamer. Each
girl or boy would run outward until the streamers were stretched straight from the top of the pole
to where he stood, girls facing one way and boys the other. Then the orchestra played beautiful
waltz music, and the boys and girls waltzed around the maypole, weaving the ribbon streamers
over and under. Thus the streamers would weave in a pretty design around the pole. Then they
would rewind it and start all over again. This is called “dancing the maypole.”
When the dancing was finished, all the lads and maidens bowed and curtsied to the Queen. The
man in charge would say, “Time for lunch,” and everyone would go to their own families.
Sometimes two or three families would spread their lunch out and eat together. There were many
good things to eat, such as fried chicken, strawberry shortcake, strawberries and cream, and
chocolate cake, and always after lunch the children were treated to free pink lemonade and free
homemade ice cream cones. It was a most happy springtime holiday. After lunch the papas would
make great high swings in the trees and put good swing seats in them. Then they would let the
children take turns having a swing. The papas and the big brothers would push the swings very
high in the air, and sometimes it was scary, but we liked to see how brave we could be and would
squeal with glee as we almost touched the lower branches of the trees with our toes.
Life in our Villages
One day when I didn’t have anything to do and no playmates to play with, I thought I would go
for a long walk. I started walking, and by and by I came to the railroad track. Now it was quite
safe to walk on the railroad track in those days because the train only came along once a week, so
I didn’t have to worry about being run over. I did have to watch for little handcarts that the men
pumped up and down to make them move along. But those were easy to see and hear in plenty of
time to jump off the track and out of the way.
Now, it was fun to jump on the ties that lay under the rails of the track. These were big, big
boards that were quite far apart, and you had to leap a long ways. They are called ties because
they tie the big iron rails of the track together. After a while, when I was quite tired of jumping, I
saw way down on one side of the track in the borrow pit a pool of muddy water. So I ran down
near it, took off my shoes and stockings, and waded in. It was such fun to let the soft, oozy mud
come up between my toes and to let my feet sink down into the mud up to my ankles. Pretty soon
I grew tired of making tracks in the mud and leaving my footprints all around the edge of the
muddy pool. Just when I thought I would get out, I felt something wiggle against my foot and
slide between my toes. I looked down in the water, and there I saw many little wiggling things
that looked like little tiny frogs, only with very long tails and very short legs and feet.
I was tickled to death to see such funny little creatures swimming all about in the pool. I thought
I’d like to catch some of those cute little things, so I looked around, and pretty soon I found an
old tin can. I took this to the pool and reached in with my hand and tried to scoop some up. But
they didn’t want to be caught and carried from the pool, and they would swim every time quickly
out of the can, and all I would have would be muddy water. I tried and tried over and over, and
one time I picked up my can out of the water so quick that I caught six tadpoles in it. I was so
happy, because now I could carry it home with me and keep the tadpoles on my own porch.
Before I started home, I decided to use this beautiful, soft, sticky clay around the pool to make
some pretty little mud dishes and some good mud pies. So I gathered the mud that was just right,
not too wet and not too dry, and had lots of fun shaping pies and cakes and little cups and saucers
and plates and even little sugar bowls and cream pictures and tiny little spoons. As I made these
things, I put them in a wooden box I found near the pool, so that I could carry them home without
After I had made all I wanted and had worked so hard that I was very hungry, I decided to go
home to dinner. So I put my can of tadpoles in the box with my mud dishes, picked up the box,
and started off. This time I didn’t try to jump the rails but rather walked along the edge where it
was smooth. I watched very carefully that I did not let the water from the tadpole can spill over
on my clay dishes and spoil them, and also that I didn’t let my clay dishes slip and crash one
When I got home, I put my tadpoles in the shade where it was cool, and my dishes in the sun
where they would dry and get hard. Mother put me in the tub for a bath, because I was covered
pretty well all over with mud. When I got out of the tub I put on some nice clean clothes, and
then I had a nice hot lunch, and then I lay down on the floor and went sound asleep because I was
very tired. But for many days afterwards I played happily with my dishes and tadpoles.
Once an old Mexican man came to our house and knocked on our door. When I answered, I said,
“Buenos días, Señor,” and he said, “Buenos días, Niña.”I could see that he had many, many bird
cages piled one on top of the other, and he was carrying them on a long pole. Inside each bird
cage was a bird. Some of the cages had pretty grey birds in them, and some had red birds. The
red birds had little top knots on the top of their heads and very sharp red beaks with which to eat
seeds. The Mexican man took the bird cages off the pole one at a time and set them upon the
porch floor. Then he said, “All my birds sing. They all have a beautiful song. Will you buy one of
my birds to sing for you each day? My birds sing most all day, and while they are singing, you
never get lonesome. Will you buy one, please?”
“Just a moment,” I said. “I will call my mother and ask her.” So I brought Mother to see the old
Mexican man and all the birds he had in the cages. Mother asked him which one was the prettiest
singer. He said that they all had very pretty songs, one just as pretty as the other. So then Mother
asked him how much they cost. The old man picked up one bird after another and told my mother
how much each one was. After thinking about it for quite a while, we picked one we liked, a grey
mocking bird, and paid the old man one peso.
We took the little bird in the house and hung its cage on a hook near a lovely sunny window.
Pretty soon, when all was still, the little bird began to sing a sweet little song. Its little song got
louder and louder until the song filled the whole house.
One day when we were putting some seed and water in the cage for the bird to eat and drink, we
forgot to close the door. The little bird saw the door opened, so he hopped out and went hopping
all about the house. He would fly up onto the cupboards and then he would try to fly onto the
table. Once he saw the window and tried to fly out. But the window was closed, so he bumped
his little head against the glass so hard that he fell to the floor. This frightened him, but what
frightened him even more was the great big cat he saw coming to eat him. Now we had tried for
the longest time to coax the birdie back, but when he saw that cat coming, he flew with all his
might right back into the cage. And there he stayed happily ever after, even if we left the door
open. Ever since, I have always loved the beautiful song of the mocking bird, for each day our
little bird tried his best to sing us the prettiest songs he knew.
The village Primary organization taught the children of the Colonies many beautiful lessons
every week and also gave them beautiful and fun parties. The party I remember the best was held
in the early spring. They told us in advance that the next Friday there was going to be a Primary
dance and party with treats. About Monday afternoon, a little boy friend of mine named Elwood
came to call on us at our house. He was very bashful, and as he sat down on the edge of his chair,
he kept twirling his hat around in his hands and dropping it and picking it up over and over again.
I couldn’t help giggling because he looked so red-faced and bashful.
Finally Mother came in and asked him, “What can we do for you, Elwood?”
He said, “Sister Pratt, I came to ask you if I could take Gladys as my partner to the Primary dance
next Friday afternoon.” Of course this made me feel very grown up to hear someone asking me
for a date, and my heart did little flip-flops, I was so excited.
Mother stood thoughtfully quiet for a few minutes, then she said, “I think it will be alright,
Elwood. What time shall she be ready?”
“I’ll be here about 5:30 to call for her.”
Of course the time passed very slowly, but finally the day of the party arrived, so Mother curled
my hair in ringlets, put a sweet new party dress on me, all shiny and white with a pink slip
showing through, and put a pink bow of ribbon with a pink rose pinned to it in my hair. Then I
sat down to wait for Elwood to come. I waited and I waited. I wouldn’t eat any supper because I
didn’t want to get my dress dirty, and I knew they were going to have nice things to eat like
cookies and candy and lemonade at the party.
The clock struck 6:00, then 6:30, and still no Elwood. When the clock struck 7:00 o’clock and
still no Elwood I began to cry, because I thought he had forgotten me, and I knew that the party
would soon be over and I would have missed it. So mother said, “Now don’t cry. I’ll take you to
the party.” So she wiped my face of tears and fixed my hair, and we walked down to the church
hall where the party was going on. We went in and sat down on a bench and looked around. We
could not see Elwood anyplace, so this made me very worried, because I began thinking, What if
he goes up to my house and doesn’t find me home. I knew that then I would probably lose a
One of my favorite teachers saw my troubled look, so she came over and said, “What is the
matter, Gladys?” So I told her. She said, “Well, come on with me. It is only a little ways to
Elwood’s house. Let us go there and find out what is the matter.”
This seemed a silly thing to me at the time, but I finally said, “Alright, I’ll go.”
So Teacher, Mother and I walked down the sidewalk to Elwood’s house. When we got to his
gate, we all stopped and looked into the front room of the house. The door was open because it
was a warm nite. There we saw, standing by a lighted lamp, Elwood in his underwear and his
best shirt and new necktie on. His hair was all combed and sleek. His shoes were shined, but no
pants. Then we saw that his mother had his pants under the needle of the sewing machine. She
was sewing a big new patch on the seat and the knee of his only pair of best pants. Little boys
had only one pair of best pants in those days, and when they wore out, they had to be patched. By
this time we were at the door and had knocked. Elwood scampered out of sight and his mother
opened the door for us. She said, “O! I am so sorry about making Elwood so late, but I just
couldn’t get to mending his pants before now. I’ve been so busy canning cherries today.”
By this time it all seemed so funny to me that I had to put my handkerchief in my mouth to keep
from laughing. Teacher and Mother laughed a little politely and said, “Oh, that is alright, Sister
Call. There is still time for the children to have some fun at the party.” By this time Elwood’s
mother had finished pressing the new patched pants into nice, smooth creases, and so she took
them in the bedroom for Elwood to put on. He soon came out looking very dressed up and well
fixed up, but his face was even more bashful than when he came to ask me to be his partner, and
mine was a little redder also. Soon the wonderful teacher was kidding us and we were laughing
and talking together and went off skipping hand in hand toward the place where the party was
going on. We mingled with the rest of the children, and the teacher helped us all evening to learn
the games and dances and to forget to be bashful, even little Elwood. And when all was said and
done, we had a wonderful time.
Sometimes Father would take me on a nice, long ride over to the next town. We did not travel in
cars because we had none, but we had a buckboard, which was a four-wheeled, horse-drawn
buggy with a white top cover and big pieces of white material to roll down if it got too hot and
windy. I had to most always sit on the back seat, because my father usually had a visitor that he
took along with him to talk to.
We rode through a long valley where wheat was grown. We crossed over deep rivers where the
water splashed into the buggy when we went through it, and the horses had to pull very hard to
get the buggy up and onto the bank again. We climbed tall hills when the road went up over the
dugways. After traveling all morning, we would come to the town and stop at Sister Harper’s
small hotel. The hotel was just like a large home, only Sister Harper got money for letting people
sleep and eat there. After we were taken to our room, my father told me, “Now you will have to
stay here and play while I go to my meetings.”
First of all I went out into the yard to see all the animals that Sister Harper kept there. She had a
goat that liked to eat tin cans and also sometimes clothes hanging on the line. She had some
geese that would chase one another and make an awful racket honk-honking. She had one old fat
turkey with a long red and blue tail, and when I went near him, he stretched out his long neck and
gobbled very fast and came running to peck at me. This frightened me, so I ran, laughing and
crying at the same time, towards the house. Still, I thought it was a good game, and so did the
turkey, so we chased each other for quite a while.
Then Sister Harper called me into breakfast, and what a breakfast it was, waffles, brown and
fluffy, and sausages, and cereal with rich cream and honey, and stewed pears. Just as I finished,
my little friend Linda came in the door. We hadn’t seen each other for a long time, so we ran to
each other and put our arms around one another and gave each other a great big squeeze. Then
we squeezed again and danced around one another so fast that we both fell down on the floor
As soon as we got on our feet again, Linda said, “Let’s go play on the swinging bridge.” So off
we ran through the grove of trees towards the river. The river was full of water and the water was
dashing down the channel so fast that it looked angry and all ruffled on top. Stretching from one
side of the river to the other were strong cables, and attached to these was a floor made of
wooden boards. Some of the boards had come loose. It was very scary to look down these holes
and see the swift river rushing by. But we decided to try walking across anyway.
As soon as we stepped on the bridge, it began to swing very high this way and that. But we held
on tight to the cables, and we watched very carefully where we were stepping so that we
wouldn’t fall down through the holes into the river. When we were halfway across, we found
ourselves being swung very high, up and down, and up and down, and we began to be dizzy. So I
called to my friend and said, “Don’t teeter the bridge.”
She said, “I’m not teetering the bridge.” We looked in back of us, and there we saw some boys
about six years old, and just for fun they had snuck up on the bridge and were jumping up and
down to make it sway and teeter. They wanted to make us squeal and holler like we were afraid,
but we decided it was great fun to hang on tight and let the boys teeter the bridge more and more.
So we just laughed and said, “Do it some more! That’s fun!”
After a while, when they found they weren’t scaring us, they stopped shaking the bridge, and we
walked off safely and started playing ball in the park with the boys. We played ball all morning
until we were hot and tired. Then we went to the bridge for one more teeter on the way home.
Next we ran to the pump behind the house and pumped us a nice bucketful of good, cool water.
After we had all had a big drink, Sister Harper brought us a basketful of cookies, and we sat
down in the cool shade and ate them and told each other stories. Then the boys and Linda went
home, but they said they would come tomorrow to play again on the swinging bridge.
Vacation Time–We Leave for Cliff Ranch
All the autumn and winter, we lived in the valley and I went to school. In the springtime, when
the days began to grow warm and everything was greening and blooming, it was much harder for
a ten-year-old girl like me to stay inside all day. I wanted to be free to run and race and play or
just lie in the sun. But I also knew that it would not be long until we would begin to pack the big
covered wagon for our trip to Cliff Ranch.
When I came home from school, I smelled the most delicious odors coming from the kitchen.
Mother kept busy making cakes, sweet cinnamon rolls, and also ham, deer meat, and beans for
the trip. My brothers rubbed grease on all the leather harnesses so they would feel easy on the
horses. They greased each of the wagon’s wheels with axle grease so they would not squeak
when they turned round and round. They put new boards in the bottom of the wagon box where it
had broken through, then put the canvas cover over the top the wagon. That was the hardest job
First they had to get five or six slats of a certain kind of wood that bends easily, and soak them in
water so they would bend. They secured them on one side of the wagon box, then bowed them
over almost into hoops, so that the other end of the slat met the other side of the box. Here they
fastened them so tightly they couldn’t move. Now they lifted a big canvas cover up and over the
top of the bows and stretched it very tight. The front was left open so we could see out to drive.
The back was partly closed to keep out any cold winds or rain, but partly open so that we could
see out and also get fresh air. If the day got very hot, we could untie the canvas cover on the side
and roll it up to let more air blow through.
There were three little steps that fit right at the back of the wagon so we could climb in and out
quite easily. Also on the back there was a large wooden barrel with a tight spigot near the bottom.
This barrel was filled to the top with nice, fresh water, so that we could always have water to
drink, even if we didn’t make it to a spring or river by the time noon or nite came on. When you
turned the spigot, the water ran out and filled your cup or bucket or cooking kettle. On the side of
the wagon was secured a large, long, deep box. This box had a lid that could be fastened down
very tight. This was called the grub box, and into it went all the food Mother had prepared for the
journey, also all the things that we would need to cook with when we got to the big ranch, like
salt, sugar, flour, and baking powder, because there were no stores to buy them from. Always in a
glass jar with a good, tight lid, we brought a start of fresh yeast. We could not buy bread on the
ranch, neither could we buy yeast cakes, so Mother used the good foam yeast to make bread and
bake it every time we needed it. Mother never used up all the yeast at any time. Always she saved
a little in the bottle to make a new start. To this she added sugar and potato water, and more yeast
would grow in the bottle. Then we would have enough for our next loaves of bread. We guarded
the yeast very carefully so it wouldn’t spill nor spoil.
We hung our iron pots and pans and Dutch ovens to cook our food in from hooks and good
strong nails inside the grub box. We used the heavy iron pots and pans and Dutch ovens because
we cooked over an open fire. We had no stove on the ranch. The boys made a wooden frame and
covered it all over with chicken wire for a chicken coop and fastened it to the other side of the
wagon box. It had a small door that would open and shut. We put hens and roosters and a few
baby chicks inside. The hens were taken along to lay eggs for us each day, since we could buy
none at the ranch, and the baby chicks were taken to feed and fatten so we could have fried
chicken once in a while. We took the wooden churn, which rode up near the front seat of the
wagon. We had along our roast deer or beef or maybe a good boiled ham, so that we could have
sandwiches as we traveled along without stopping to make a fire and cook any more often than
for breakfast and supper. We took some fruit along, too, but we didn’t have to take vegetables.
Instead we brought vegetable seeds and seed potatoes and seed corn so that we could plant a
garden as soon as we got to the ranch. It would always grow well in the good, rich soil, and we
could have fresh vegetables all summer.
Now one lovely morning I woke up before sunrise. The early dawn breezes had awakened all the
mocking birds where they slept in the branches of the umbrella and locust trees. As soon as
mocking birds hear the wind rustling the leaves, they wake right up and begin to sing. At first
their songs are sleepy little twitters, and one can hardly tell them from the leaves’ rustling. But
very soon the mocking birds are singing not only their own songs but the songs of every other
bird they have ever heard. That is why they are called mocking birds. I could hear the voices of
my brothers coaxing and scolding the horses from their stalls, and the clatter of chains and straps
as they fitted the harnesses on their backs and hitched them to the wagon. That made me
remember there would be no school bell ringing for us today. And I heard Mother calling, “Get
up, Gladys! We must get an early start to the ranch. It’s a long, long journey, you know.” I leaped
out of bed, combed my hair, washed my face, and almost fell down the stairs in my hurry, so
anxious was I to get started.
As soon as I could eat my breakfast, I began helping Mother carry things out to the wagon box.
We took our clothes, which we packed in a big trunk and tied the lid on tight so it wouldn’t fly
open. We took our bedding and pillows, too. These we piled on clean canvas in the bottom of the
wagon box, then spread another clean canvas on top. Mother always packed her feather bed,
which she made from the soft feathers of the ducks and geese the boys had brought home for her
to cook. When the boys saw that the geese were flying south for the winter, they would go
hunting, and when they found a duck or a goose resting or fading, they would try to shoot it and
bring it home for dinner. We would help Mother pick off all the feathers. Some were beautiful
colors–green and blue and brown and grey. Often I would save the prettiest duck ones and wear
them in my hair with a beaded band and play that I was an Indian princess. We especially saved
the goose feathers, because these were the very softest feathers of all. The finer feathers we
stuffed into other pieces of cloth to make soft, fluffy pillows. And the little, tiny, soft feathers
that cover the duck’s breast and back were called down. These we would stuff into pretty colored
cloth, sometimes silk if we could get it, and make warm down quilts. These are the softest,
lightest, warmest quilts in the world and cost very much to buy, but if you make them yourself,
you could have several, perhaps one on each bed. The large feathers we tucked into ticking,
which is a coarse, strong material, to make a feather bed mattress. Mother loved to sleep cozy
and warm, tucked down in her feather bed, especially at the ranch, where the nites were chilly.
We children thought it was very nice to roll around on when we got tired of sitting and bouncing
in the wagon box.
Soon all was snugly settled. Mother climbed up the steps and found a comfortable seat near the
front of the wagon close to the boys, her back resting against the side. I got in, and my brother
Carl tossed little Star, my pet Chihuahua dog, up into the wagon box beside me. He was so little
and fragile that he couldn’t run like the sheep dogs, Tiger and Snap, who were very big and
strong and could follow along behind the wagon all day. I held Star and stretched out flat on my
back on the feather bed. From where I lay, I could see the boys climb up over the wagon wheel
onto the big, high seat anchored to the wagon box in front of the great canvas cover. Carl first felt
with his hand along the seat to see if his double-barreled shotgun was safely tucked along the
crack in the seat so it couldn’t wiggle off or get caught and fire a shot when a shot wasn’t needed.
Then he took in his hands all the reins that reached from the horses heads to where he sat. There
were four horses hitched to the wagon, and each horse had a rein on each side of its head. This
made eight reins that Carl had to have in his hands at one time and learn to pull the right line to
guide each horse each time. This takes practice, but Carl was a good driver. He held a big, black
snake whip that was long enough to reach from his hand to the ear of the farthest-away horse. He
uncoiled it and gave it a quick snap that just ticked the ear of the lead horse without hurting him.
“Gittiup, Don! Gittiup, Joe!” he said, and the horses gave a quick lurch and a strong pull, and the
great iron wheels began to turn, and the heavy load moved forward. One of my other brothers had
to run in front of the team and open the big yard gate. He closed and fastened it once we rolled
through, then jumped up on the seat, and the horses stepped lively in the morning air.
The stars still shone, and only the rosy lights of morning were in the eastern sky. We could see
out of the back of the wagon that only here and there were people awake. This we knew because
most of the houses were dark, but in some of the houses lamplight shone through the windows,
where the men were up early to go to the fields before the day got hot. The noise of our wagon
woke up the dogs of the neighborhood, and they ran out and barked at us as we passed along the
dusty street, and nipped at the heals of our eager horses. The dogs woke up the chickens in
people’s yards, so some roosters began crowing, “Cock-a-do-doole-do,” and the hens began
cackling and scolding, “ca-ca-ca-cackit.” Such was our farewell from the village animals. Mother
hummed softly and Carl whistled a jolly tune. We all loved the big ranch and each summer were
so glad to be starting to go there.
Soon we were past the last village home, and the sun came up gold against the blue Parajuto
Mountains in the east. Around us the prairie grass was greening, and clouds of thick, white dust
followed behind us along the road. It grew thicker as we rolled along, so we had to keep moving.
Before long the day began to be very warm, so we rolled up the sides of the canvas cover and let
the morning air whip through the wagon box to cool us. I got tired of sitting, so I thought of
something that would be fun to do. I climbed out of the back of the wagon box and, clinging to
the dashboard, I would run along in the soft dirt. If the horses started to trot, I had to run with big
steps to keep up, but it was fun and rested my tired legs that had been curled up under me so
long. When I got tired I would jump up on the dashboard again and climb in and roll over on my
back and rest awhile.
Things warmed more and more. Every time the wagon stopped for a few minutes, the dogs would
lie down flat on their stomachs in the shade of the wagon. They would pant very hard, letting
their tongues hang out of their mouths, and their tongues would get covered with a white foam.
Whenever we came to a stream or water, even a shallow pool, the dogs would jump in and lie
down in the water. Sometimes they would roll over on their backs and get wet all over. They
would shake themselves a little when they got out, but not too much, so that as they ran along,
the water in their hair would get cool by the air passing over them. The day grew extremely hot
finally, and we all became very thirsty. I began to tease for a drink. Carl gave me a nice, cold
drink from the water bag hanging under the wagon in the shade. Mother would only let me take a
little swallow at a time, because she said that when one is very hot and drinks too much cold
water, one often gets very sick to one’s stomach. In just a few minutes I started teasing for
another. Carl said, “You know, Gladys, we have to make the water last until we find new water,
so you are only allowed one sip every hour.” Now I thought I was choking to death, so I kept
whining and teasing. At last Carl said, “That is the last drink you can have until we get to camp
and new water. You just make up your mind to endure it and don’t tease nor whine anymore.”
This was my first lesson in getting thirsty on a trip and about making do with what we had and
not being able to have everything I wanted just when I wanted it. All pioneers had to learn this
Well, we went along this way through all the hot day. When the evening shadows began creeping
up out of the valley and onto the foothills, we were just coming near to where the tall, tall
mountains began rising up. Cool breezes came down from the canyon and we all began to feel
relieved. I could see through the front that we were coming to a large, grassy meadow, and Carl
called “Whoa, Don, whoa, Joe.” I heard the squeak as Carl pulled on the big wagon brake, and
felt the wheels grind to a stop. Carl said, “Everybody out! This is where we camp.” He wrapped
the reins of the horses around the brake, then jumped down and went to the back of the wagon
and helped Mother out of the wagon box. I scrambled over the dashboard and leapt to the ground.
Carl lifted down little Star, who chased after me through the tall meadow grass. We played for a
minute, then ran over to the pure mountain stream. I lay down on my tummy and put my mouth
and lips and some of my face right into the water. I had learned to drink lying on my tummy. I
took a long, cool drink, and Star drank too. Next I ran around as far as I could, picking up sticks
and piling them near the cooking place the boys had built from some large, flat rocks. I knew that
my first job when we got to camp was to gather firewood. Mother got the food out of the grub
box and got it ready for the boys to cook, while the boys looked after the tired horses.
The boys took off their sweaty harnesses, then combed them all down with curry combs to rest
their tired muscles. Then they brought some knapsacks of oats and tied one on each of the horses’
noses. The horses chomped and pressed their bags against the earth and pushed their noses down
deep and licked and sucked up the oats with their tongues and lips. The boys brought buckets of
water from the spring and put a bucketful before each horse. They were very thirsty, so they
drank all the water. Next the boys brought hobbles of tough leather and fastened them around the
horses’ front legs. With hobbles horses can only walk on their hind legs and jump forward a little
ways, so they can’t run off and not be found next morning. The boys put a bell around the neck
of Old Don, as he was the leader of the horses, and whenever we heard the bell ringing on Old
Don’s neck, we knew that the rest of the horses were not far away. Then they untied the horses
and let them hop off through the meadow to eat the green grass.
Now the boys were able to get the supper ready. First they built a big campfire in the middle of
the big, flat rocks. When the fire was burned down to red hot coals, they put the Dutch oven on
them, also the frying pan. They put red hot coals under the Dutch oven and on the top of the lid.
Next they put some bacon slices in the frying pan and let it fry until it was nice and brown and
crisp. Into the bacon they sliced some peeled potatoes and some green and red peppers and some
big, sweet onions and a little piece of garlic. Then they let all of this fry until it was nice and
brown. They added water and put in some salt and pepper, covered it with the tight lid of the
Dutch oven, and let it cook. This dish is called hunter’s stew, and it is very good. We also got the
bean pot out and set it near the fire so the beans could get nice and hot.
While they cooked, the boys made hot biscuits. They took a pan and measured out two cups of
flour, some salt, and five tablespoons of grease, and put into the flour also three teaspoons of
baking powder. Then they crumbled the grease into the flour and salt and baking powder until it
looked like cornmeal. Then they added a cup of cold spring water. They stirred it quickly with a
spoon and spread it thin in a reflector oven pan that had been greased. They set the pan near the
fire where it could get the heat in front and under it very well. Soon the biscuits were rising up
nice and high and then began to brown off. O! how good they smelled. Sometimes instead of the
reflector oven, the boys dropped the biscuits into the hot, greased Dutch oven, put the lid on, then
buried the Dutch oven in the coals. The biscuits puffed up like toadstools and were as light as
feathers and golden brown. Mother and I had spread a canvas on the green grass and then a nice,
clean tablecloth on top of the canvas. I brought the knive and forks and spoons from the grub
box, the salt and pepper, a jar of cane syrup or molasses to spread on the hot biscuits, and a jar of
butter. I ran to the spring and dipped up a brass bucket of water with the dipper and set it near the
table where I had placed the tin drinking cups. Now supper was completely ready.
We all gathered around, and after the prayer, Mother served each of us a bowl of hunter’s stew
and a plate of biscuits. We opened them while they were hot, spread them with plenty of butter
which Mother had packed in a large crock jar with a light lid, and sprinkled them with molasses.
It tasted yummy and we all came back for more. Afterwards we burned all the scraps of food that
the dogs wouldn’t eat, and then I picked up some clean, white sand and scoured the plates and
knives and forks until they were shining clean. The boys cleaned the Dutch ovens and heated
some fresh water in them on the fire. I rinsed the dishes in the stream, then dipped them into this
boiling water. Now they were ready to be wiped dry and put back in the grub box, nice and clean
for the next meal.
By now it was dark, except for the moon that came up over the mountain, big as a washtub,
golden as a big, round cheese, and bright almost as a sun. It was so bright that, if I had wanted to,
I think I could have sat up and read a storybook in its light. Carl told me to get undressed and
crawl into bed because it was late and we had a hard day coming up. He made my bed under the
wagon box so the nite dews wouldn’t get me wet. He taught me to put my clothes and shoes
underneath the covers so they would stay dry too. He then tucked the covers around me closely,
and the last thing I can remember of our first nite’s camp was the lovely sound of my mother’s
and my brothers’ voices singing together there by the firelight under the beautiful moon. They
sang all the Spanish songs they had learned in Mexico, and they were lovely songs, like La
Golondrina, La Paloma, Cielito Lindo, and the Fandango. I believe I will never hear any more
beautiful music than I heard those nites as they sang together to the music of Carl’s guitar.
Sometimes the dogs howled because of the music hurting their ears. After the singing, sometimes
they would dash off into the bushes, thinking they heard a fox or a rabbit or something to chase.
Little Star, who was cuddled down in my arms, would dash up and out of the warm covers and
run a little ways out into the darkness and howl little, short barks as if he were going to catch and
kill a mountain lion. He would be so frightened that his hair would be standing up straight from
his head to the tip of his tail, and he would be trembling all over. I would call him and say,
“Come here to me, Star.” He would come and would settle down under the covers again for a
little while. And finally I would drift off to sleep.
Long before I was ready to wake, the boys called me to get up, because we had a long, hard climb
before us up the dugway this day. So up I got, dressed, and washed in the cold water of the
stream. I ate my breakfast and was very wide awake and ready to go by the time the boys climbed
up and started the team up the red dirt road. The dawn sky was just beginning to fill with rosy
light, and a moist hush hung over the green meadows, where I could hear the quiet echoes of the
mocking birds’ early morning songs. Before long the sun was up and the day grew warm again,
though not nearly as hot as on the desert floor. Today I could have all the drinks I wanted because
there were plenty of springs and streams to fill our water bags.
Now a dugway is a special kind of road dug straight up a hill or mountainside. The horses
couldn’t go as fast in the foothills when we were just starting out. The road grew steeper and
steeper and bumpier all the time, with more and more ruts and holes, and sometimes the horses
had to stop and rest. Before we knew it, the foothills grew into the great Sierra Madre Mountains.
Now the hills grew so steep and the dugway so rough that the horses couldn’t pull the wagon
with all of us in it, so we had to walk alongside. Sometimes on the steeper slopes the boys would
have me carry a block of wood that we kept in the back of the wagon, so that when the horses
lunged forward, I could quickly slide the block up under the back wheel, so the wagon couldn’t
roll back again. Star trotted right behind me, or alongside me when the grade was smoother,
chasing after every grasshopper or sparrow, sticking his nose under every bush and in every hole.
“You be sure to take good care of Star, now, Gladys,” Carl had told me, “and don’t let him
corner a rattler. I don’t think he’d come out the winner.” There were many rattlesnakes in the
mountains. They were mostly shy, but they could hurt you if they bit you, so one must always be
very careful and not make them feel cornered or threatened. So whenever I wasn’t blocking the
wheels, I kept after Star and played with him by the wagon and wouldn’t let him run too far
On and on we went, all the long day, till finally we came to the steepest, hardest pitch of all. Carl
told me we had to be very careful and not spook the horses, because it was very difficult for them
to pull a wagon up such a steep slope. He told me to keep Star from underfoot and to stand clear
if the wagon started to roll, because a loose wagon can be a very dangerous thing, like a moving
car today, and something that children must be careful to avoid. Carl drove the team right up to
the base of the hill then called out, “Gowan, Joe! Gittiup, Old Don!” and cracked his whip, but
do you know, those horses would not go another step. “Gowan!” Carl yelled all the louder, and
cracked his whip all the more. The horses began to kick and whinny and jump up a little ways on
their hind legs and became entangled in their lines. “Oh, not this!” Carl shouted. “We’ll never get
up the hill!”
He set the brake and jumped down to get them untangled, and the other boys came to help too. I
got so frightened I began to cry, because I knew that if we didn’t get over this hill, we would not
get to the sawmill that nite. Carl saw I was worried, so he came over and gave me a big squeeze
and said, “Don’t cry, Gladys. Don’t you know that when we have Old Joe on the wheel team and
Old Don on the lead team, we’ll always make the grade?” So I dried my tears and listened to him
talk gently to the horses. They stopped jumping and kicking around, and when he gave the
command to Joe and Don to steady down and pull, they did so, and up and over we went. When
we were on the level again, he let the horses rest and gave me some lumps of sugar to give to
them. I gave one lump to each horse, and that was so funny to watch them take the sugar with
their big lips and chew it up and seem to enjoy it so much.
After started again, we had only gone a little way on the road when we met a Mexican man
coming down the dugway towards us. The road was so narrow that there wasn’t room to pass our
big wagon. His wagon was just a lumber wagon with loose lumber boards laid along it. He was
sitting on a loose box on top of the loose lumber planks, so his seat was not steady. He had been
drinking, so he didn’t realize that he shouldn’t try to pass us. He just kept coming on very fast.
He turned his team way up on the side of the mountain to pass, and as he did, his box seat started
to slide off the wagon, and he started to slide with it. He couldn’t catch himself but fell to the
ground. The wagon almost tipped over and actually went along for a moment on just two wheels.
His horses had become frightened and started to run away from him down the dugway. This
frightened our horses, too, but the boys held their bridles very tight and patted their heads and
necks and talked kindly to them so they wouldn’t run. The Mexican man held firmly to the reins
of his team and dug his heels hard in the dust and so finally got his runaway team stopped. He
climbed on his wagon and went along his way. We were very glad nothing very bad had
Mother and I and Star got back into our own wagon. The cool shadows were coming under the
thick timbers of the long-needled pines, and the soft evening breezes were beginning to blow,
and we felt refreshed. Soon we could look down into the valley where the sawmill stood and see
the blue smoke of the cabins curling up through the green trees. The horses had an easy time
pulling us down the dugway to the green meadow where the people living at the sawmill had
The children saw us coming first and ran out to greet us. I jumped out of the wagon when they
drew near, and then ran with them to the cabin. Inside, the mamas and the papas shook our hands
and welcomed us. They told the boys to put the teams in the stable and feed them and then to
come into supper. We all went to the washstand and dipped up splashes of water from the brass
bucket and washed the heavy dust from our faces and necks and hands and arms. Then we went
into the big, roomy kitchen. This kitchen had a coal cookstove, so the mama had made some
rhubarb pie in its oven. We had roast chicken and new peas and potatoes and hot rolls and hot
rhubarb pie with a big slice of cheese. My, but it did taste good, for we were all very hungry after
the long, hot climb up the dugway.
After the supper things were washed up and put away, the boys and girls said, “O! look outside
and see how bright it is in the moonlight. Let us go out and jump on the sawdust hill.” So away
we all ran, leaving the papas and the mamas sitting around the fireplace cozily talking and
laughing together. Now the sawdust hill was a big hill that had been made by the piling up of the
sawdust as it came from sawing up the lumber in the shed. It was about as big as a house, and the
sides were very steep. We raced over and tried to scramble to the top. The moon was so bright
that we could see very well, but the sawdust was so deep and slippery that we had a hard time
climbing. Our legs would sink in so deep that we would be standing up to our knees in it. We
would pull our legs out, laughing all the time, because sometimes we would lose our shoes, and
then we would have to scramble all around, scratching like dogs to find them. The hill was quite
flat on top, so when we finally reached it, we danced around on it, singing all the songs we knew.
Then one of the boys said, “Let’s try rolling down to the bottom and then climb up again.” We all
shouted, “Alright, let’s do it.” So first one and then another started rolling over and over down
the hill. It was fast rolling, because the slope was so very steep. We shouted and laughed as we
rolled, half in glee and half in fear. As soon as we got to the bottom, we started back up to do it
all over again. Pretty soon someone said, “Let’s try rolling two of us together.” So we paired off
in twos, put our arms around one another, and rolled over and over, first one on top and then the
other. This was more fun than ever, because we had to bump over each other as we rolled. We
did this again and again, changing partners, until we were all very hot and tired. So we climbed
to the top and lay down on our backs to rest.
While I was lying still, looking up at the moon and stars, I heard a most beautiful bird singing as
it soared over the tops of the trees. Its call was as clear as the mountain air through which it flew,
and as I listened I could hear the sound like it said, “Whip-Poor-Will, Whip-Poor-Will.” I said,
“What is that?” and the boys laughed and said, “O! haven’t you ever heard a whippoorwill sing
before? They sing every nite after dark, and always they sing better when there is a bright moon.
They’re called whippoorwills, because that is what their song seems to say.” I listened and
listened as the bird flew from tree to tree, calling out with its beautiful voice, breaking the golden
moonlit shadows into fragments of sheer beauty that seemed to linger in the treetops all around
us. I had never heard such a lovely song, not before or since, and I didn’t want to play anymore.
Our parents called just then and said, “Come in, children.” We all went back to the cabin and got
quickly into bed. But I didn’t go to sleep for a long time. I just lay there quietly and listened to
the beautiful song of the whippoorwill.
The Corduroy Road
The next morning we all woke up early, because the mocking birds were so happy in the trees
around us that they all sang away as loudly as they could. When we came into the kitchen, the
kitchen stove was glowingly warm, and bacon was frying in the big frying pan. Sister Hurst was
standing over the hot stove, where another, huge frying pan was heating, and into this pan she
dipped spoonfuls of pancake batter. Soon the kitchen smelled wonderfully good, with bacon and
browning batter of pancakes.
We all scrambled to the wash basin and splashed our face and hands with soap and cold water.
Then we all came running to the table and sat down in our seats. As soon as the blessing was
said, we were served our hotcakes. We doused them well with butter and syrup, and ate
ravishingly of the good food. We all drank a tall glass of good, warm milk brought in by the
boys, who had just finished milking the cows.
We had hardly finished when Carl said, “Come on out in the wagon. It’s time to move along.”
Little Star gulped his share of pancakes and came running after me. Carl helped Mother up the
steep steps at the back of the wagon but let me climb up alone, because he knew I liked to do it.
He gently lifted little Star and tossed him into my lap. I picked him up, and then we both got
close to the opening in the back of the wagon. Little Star put his two little front feet on the edge
of the wagon box and then nestled close to me, and we both hung our heads away out of the back
opening, so we could see our playmates and wave goodbye to them as we drove off. “Goodbye,
goodbye, we’ve had a lovely time,” we called out to them.
“Goodbye, goodbye. Come back, come back,” they called back again. This had been a most
pleasant stop, and the friendships made that day and nite have lasted many years. Carl swung
himself up over the front wheel and into the seat and felt to make sure his gun was safe and
handy. Then, hearing his loud “Gittiup!” and the pop of his whip, the horses lunged forward, and
we set out rolling over the soft sawdust road, damp from the nite dews, and out upon the main-traveled, red-soiled mountain road.
The horses were fresh and rested and well-fed, so they trotted briskly and made the wagon rock
and roll. It was great fun to sway with it. Sometimes the motion threw little Star over onto his
side and almost to his back. Then he would scramble up on his little white feet again, shake
himself well, whine a little, bid, and I would call softly to him. Then he would rush over near me
and lick my hands and try to lick my face, and I would say, “It’s alright, little doggie, you’re safe
in the wagon.” Then he would jump around gleefully and bark happy little barks, and we would
play the game all over again.
After a while, in a place where the road led through a beautiful, green mountain meadow, I felt
the wagon give a big lurch forward. Then I heard the horses floundering around, up to their knees
in mud. The mire was so deep that the horses couldn’t pull the wagon anymore. There had been a
lot of rain up here in the high mountains, and the rainwater had run down into a low place in the
road in the meadow we were crossing. Carl urged Old Joe and Don to pull very hard, but no
matter how hard they pulled, they slipped and stumbled down. One horse lost his balance and fell
right down on his belly. He slithered and slathered and got himself all tangled up in the harness.
Carl jumped out of the wagon and went to the head of the horse and patted him and talked gently
to him. The other boys helped Carl get a strong rope and tie it around the horse, and then they
pulled on him hard so he could stand up again.
Carl told me I had to get out of the wagon so the load would be lighter. He said they were going
to have to build a road over the bog hole so the horses could pull the wagon out. He lifted Mother
out of the wagon box to where the huge pines and oaks came right down to the edge of the
meadow, where the ground was drier. Then he lifted me and carried me with Star in my arms
right through the mud bog hole. He had big, big boots on, so he could wade in the muddy water
and not get himself wet. Mother sat down on a log of wood in the cool shade of a tree, where the
pine needles were firm and fragrant, but Star and I ran around exploring.
We first gathered a sackful of acorns from under the oak trees where they had fallen. Then Star
and I started to race together, and as we trotted, out from behind a great big rock ran a papa and a
mama quail, calling their little ones to follow after them. Each of the brood of fifteen little chicks
had a spotted back and two swift little red feet and a cunning topknot on its head. They marched
like little soldiers in a row and watched the papa and mama scratch and hunt for food, then they
scratched and hunted for food, too. The mama scolded them if they went very far away. She
made a very pretty call to call the babies back to her.
The mama and the papa led their brood underneath some thick oak brush, where they scratched
themselves out a nice little bed to rest on awhile in the cool shade. But the little quail were
hungry, so instead of resting, they walked around putting their little heads near the ground every
once in a while to listen if some worms were crawling in the soil. When they thought they heard
one, they would scratch vigorously in the dirt, first with one little leg with its sharp claws, and
then with the other little leg, until they had found the worm or grub. Then they would joyously
pick it up with their beaks and gobble it down. They almost seemed to chuckle as they did this
over and over again. Sometimes they would reach up to the shrubs, stretching their necks, and
snap off some delicious ripe berries or seeds and gobble them down too. They were having a
grand time hunting, racing, trying to beat one another to a tasty morsel, then eating down and
hunting again. Mama and papa lay contentedly, half asleep, knowing their little ones were quite
safe in under the thick shrubs and bushes.
Star and I were sitting resting on a big rock in the nice morning sunshine when, across the
meadow, I saw something that made my heart almost stop beating. Out from the deep, dark green
of the pines came a little, spindly fawn, covered all over its neck and shoulders with white, round
spots. Its mother had just finished washing it all over with her rough, juicy tongue, so that the
slick tan of its new baby coat glistened in the sun. It had come to the meadow to get a drink, and
as soon as it stepped with its long, slender leg into the little pool, round circles came into the
smooth surface of the water, then got bigger, and bigger, until they were clear out to the edge of
the pool. When the fawn had lapped up all the water it wanted, it stepped out into the grassy
meadow. All of a sudden, it gave a great leap straight up, and after coming down stiff-legged on
its four little hoofs, it leaped again three times in a row and started running around the meadow.
The mama deer leaped, too, and in two high jumps was running right by the side of the little
My brother saw them, and, thinking it would be nice to have fresh deer meat for supper, he
grabbed his gun and started creeping up on the mother. I was so frightened that he would hurt
them that I began to cry and call, “O! Carl, don’t shoot, don’t shoot!” My crying frightened the
mother deer, and with one high leap in the air, she jumped high over a nearby shrub and darted
away. The little fawn was so frightened too that he leaped almost as high and fast as the mother.
They leaped and they jumped and they ran so high and fast that in just a very little minute they
were up and over the hill, and Carl couldn’t see them anymore. I was still crying, but now I was
crying for joy, because the mammy deer and her little spotted fawn had gotten safely away. I was
very glad to have something to eat that nite for supper besides deer meat.
Now I went back to see what the boys were doing. They had cut down many little straight pine
trees with their axes, about as bit as an arm and long enough to reach across the part that was so
wet, and trimmed off all the branches. They had started on the dry side of the bog hole and were
laying one pole straight against the other. They had taken some long, narrow strips of deerhide
that they had cut, and bound the poles tightly together, as though they were making a raft. This is
what is called a corduroy road. When they had laid enough poles together to reach from the wet
side of the bog hole to the front wheels they gathered bunches of tall, tough grass that grew
nearby and spread them with the pine boughs they had cut from the trees thick on top of the
poles. They also put much of this tough grass behind and under the back wheels.
They coaxed the horses one at a time to get into place on this rough road. The horses were afraid
of it because it made them feel like their feet were going to get caught between the logs. But
finally Old Joe had the courage to get up on the logs and back up into a place near enough to the
wagon so that he could be hitched up in his harness. Then Old Don took courage from Old Joe,
and stopped dancing and kicking, and got into his harness also, and finally the other two horses
did likewise. When all were hitched up, Carl leaped up into the wagon seat and took the reins
into his hands, and, talking softly and soothingly to the horses, he gave the command to pull
steady and to pull hard. So Old Joe and Don pulled together steady and hard, and the heavy
wagon wheels came up onto the tough grass and then out of the mud up onto the log road. The
heavy wheels turned slowly and stayed on top of the log road, and within a few moments the
wagon was out of the bog hole and up onto the dry red road again. The boys and I gave a shout,
and Mother cried a little bit for joy, because it looked for a while that we might be stuck there for
a long, long time.
We were all very hungry by now, as it was a long time past noon. So we opened the grub box and
got out some baked beans, some good, nippy cheese, and some of mother’s good cinnamon buns,
and ate a hearty lunch. There was a cool spring nearby, so we had good, cold mountain water to
drink. Mother had made some molasses candy before we left to come on the trip, so she now
gave us a big piece of it, and we sucked it and enjoyed it most all afternoon when we continued
our journey. I remember thinking how nice it was, when you sank into a high mountain meadow
bog hole, to know how to build a corduroy road so you could get out again.
The Big, Big Rock in the Road
After lunch and a big drink of cold spring water, the boys hitched the horses to the wagon, and
we all climbed in and started jogging along the red ribbon road in the warm afternoon sunshine.
All of a sudden, the wagon stopped. I was kneeling up, and it jerked me so hard that I tumbled
over onto the feather bed. When little Star saw me rolling around on the bed, he thought I wanted
to play, so he came bouncing on top of me, and we romped and shouted a moment. Meanwhile, I
could hear the scraping of the wheels of the wagon against something very hard and slippery. I
felt the horses pulling and straining and heard the boys coaxing and urging them to pull harder,
then felt the wagon backing up a little ways. I looked out through the front of the wagon, and
there, right in the middle of the road, was a huge rock. In fact, it was the biggest single rock I had
ever seen. It had probably rolled down the side of the mountain when the gravel had been
loosened around it with the spring rains, and had stopped rolling, partly burying itself in the road
bed directly in front of where the horses had to pull us.
Carl guided the horses up on the uphill side of the rock, but the uphill side was too steep. The
horses couldn’t pull the wagon up onto it, and even if they could, there would have been a danger
of tipping the wagon box over. So he backed the horses down and tried to go on the downhill
side of the rock. But the rains had made the ground so wet that it was very soft, so the wagon
began slipping and sliding off the road. Carl told the horses to hold, and pulled backwards on the
reins, and the horses backed carefully down until the wagon was again on the solid road.
“We’ll have to go up over it after all,” Carl said, and he urged Old Joe and Don forward again.
They pulled as hard as they could, but every time the big wheels got close to the big rock, and the
horses tried to pull them up and over, the horses’ feet slid. They had iron shoes on their feet, and
the iron shoes would not dig down into the rock and hold them, so they would slip and stumble.
The big wheels were made of wooden spokes and an iron rim around the spokes, so when the
wheels came up against the slick, hard rock, they too would skid and slide, and the horses simply
could not pull the wagon up over the rock.
Here we were stuck in the road again. I was frightened, because I knew that if we didn’t get over
the rock somehow and make our camp where we planned to make it, our food would run out
before we got to the ranch, and we would be very hungry and maybe have to turn back. Carl
laughed at me and said, “Now, Gladys, don’t be a baby. Don’t you know that we know what to
do about this? We will soon be unstuck.” I was still frightened, so I slipped away and was soon
hidden by the big trees. When I felt safely out of sight, I knelt down and prayed to Heavenly
Father that he would let us find a way to get around or over the big, big rock.
Soon I stopped crying and came back to see what my brothers were going to do. First they had
unhitched the horses and led them a long ways away from the big rock to where there was some
nice, green grass to eat, and tied them fast to a tree. That way, even if they jumped around, they
could not get loose and run away. Next the boys went to the tool box on the wagon and took from
it a big iron spike and a very heavy sledge hammer. One of them carried the chicken coop way up
on the side of the hill, and Carl told the dogs to go way over away from the wagon and lie down,
which they did. I took little Star and held him tightly in my arms so he couldn’t go where the
danger was to be. He was very curious and tried to wriggle out of my arms and go and see what
was going on. He wanted to scramble over to the rock, and sniffed around with his little nose to
determine what it was all about. But I didn’t let him get away. The boys began pounding deep
holes in the big rock. One held the sharp spike, and one raised high the sledge hammer and let it
fall again and again on the spike. This made the spike sink little by little into the tough rock until
there began to be a small hole made in it. Drilling the holes was hard work, and the boys had to
rest very often between poundings. I had to stay a long ways away from the rock because little
pieces of it would fly off and go in all directions, and I didn’t want any of the pieces to fly into
my eyes or hit me in the face and cut me.
The boys kept working until they had six holes, each of which was six inches deep. The rock
looked like a big beehive now, all pitted with the holes. Next they took some queer looking stuff
that looked like sticks of licorice, and partly filled each hole with them. I said, “What is that?”
and they told me it was dynamite, that it was very dangerous, and that I must stay away. Attached
to each stick was a long piece of string, like a candle wick, that reached out beyond the rock for
about five feet. When all was ready, the boys told Mother and me to go way back up on the side
of the hill, at least fifty feet or more away. This we did, and I held onto little Star all the tighter.
He was a very nervous little dog, and he seemed to sense that there was danger in the air, so I
stroked his little head and trembling body.
The boys checked the horses to see that they were very securely fastened, then called a warning
to us one more time. Carl took some matches and very quickly lit one to each piece of string.
Then the boys ran quickly away from the burning string way back up on the hill. The string
burned very rapidly along until it came to one of the holes, where it spluttered and flashed, and
the dynamite caught fire and exploded with a voice like thunder. Many, many fragments of sharp
rock flew in all directions, and dust rose in a mighty cloud. The horses leaped with all four feet
into the air and when they came down again tried to pull and break the rope so they could run
away, but the rope was new and strong and they could not break it.
The different holes kept exploding one after the other, and as they did so, the big, big rock was
transformed into a pile of little rocks instead. I was scared, and so was Mother, and so was Star.
He shook so hard in my arms that I had to hold him very close. He licked my face and cried with
a little whine, but I just talked gently to him, and even though I was crying a little myself, I knew
that soon everything would be alright. After the last explosion, Carl went over to the horses and
took hold of their bridles and stroked their necks and heads and talked softly to them until they
were calm again. The chickens cackled and leaped about all through the noise. We just let them
go ahead and crow their protest, because they could not get out and we could not do anything to
The boys made sure that all the explosions were over, then they took rakes and shovels from the
tool box, and smoothed the little rocks into a very good piece of roadbed that the horses could
pull their load over quite easily. Then they hitched the horses onto the wagon again. Mother and I
climbed into our places. The chickens were securely fastened to the side of the wagon, and we
jogged on our way. The horses had had a good rest, so they were fresh and traveled nice and fast.
Before dark we came to the cool spring where we were going to make camp that nite, and I began
helping with the evening campfire chores. Dinner tasted good after such an adventurous morning
and a hazardous afternoon, and so now we were ready for prayers and evening songs to soothe
the cares of the day. Sleep came soon and deep and sweet to a tired little girl.
We Arrive at Cliff Ranch
Just one more morning of travel along the smooth, red-soiled road brought us near Cliff Ranch.
Finally we came to the last meadow before the hill where the cabins stood. Carl spotted several
horses off in the distance. One of the horses, when he heard our wagon, stiffened and pointed his
ears and raised his head and gave a long, low whinny. Carl rose up and stood upon the wagon
seat and whistled a long, rhythmic whistle, then called out, “Monte, come here, you little devil.”
Monte lifted his beautiful head and twitched his long, flowing tail and started coming towards us
on a gallop. His forelocks and long mane waved out behind him, and when he drew near, Carl
stopped the wagon. Monte came close up to him and nuzzled his head against Carl’s shirt. Carl
patted him and gave him a lump of sugar to eat, then started the team trotting toward the ranch
house again. Monte fell behind the wagon but followed along, just like a pet dog would do.
As we crossed the bridge over the stream, the wheels and the chains made a loud racket, and our
brother Rey, who was already at the ranch, heard it and looked out the window to see us coming.
In his hand was a big wad of dough, and Mother said, “O! look, Rey is making hot rolls for our
dinner.” It took only a few minutes to get across the bridge and up the slight hill to the cabin
door. We all climbed out and were so glad to greet each other and stretch our legs after the long,
While the boys were unpacking, I took Star and started running down the little path through the
tall grass and wild daisies to greet my little Mexican friends. On the way, I saw an old Indian lady
sitting on the ground. She had spread out in front of her a large deerskin. It was rough and hard,
but she was pounding it and scraping it with a sharp, jagged rock. This was to soften up the skin
so it could be cut into strips for rope and heavy cord. She had to use some water and some acid to
soften it a little, but it was done mostly with just pounding and scratching with the sharp rock.
All the hair had been removed from the skin, so she worked first one side and then the other.
When the Mexican children saw me coming, they came out to meet me with gay calls of “Qué
hubole, amiga mía!” They took me by the hand and led me into the cabin. There the mamas and
the older sisters were busy grinding parched corn into a fine meal. They ground it by pushing
back and forth the corn between a long, smooth, partly round stone called a mano, and a rough,
partly hollow stone called a metate that looked something like a bowl. The corn was warm, and
so they scooped up a handful of it and gave it to me to eat. This is called pinole. They gave me
also a big piece of sweet cane sugar that is called piloncillo. I thanked them and wandered back
toward the cabin, eating my pinole and piloncillo.
I saw that Aunt Dora, who had come onto the ranch about a month before us, was busy making
cheese in the shed. I loved to watch cheese making, and never was there such good cheese made
as Aunt Dora made at Cliff Ranch, so I ran swiftly to the shed to watch.
In the shed there was a large vat that held about fifty gallons of milk. All the evening and
morning milk that had come from the milking of the cows had been poured into this vat. Cold
spring water poured into a compartment under the vat had kept it cool all nite. Now that it
contained the morning milk also, the boys had cut wood around the place and built a fire in a
firebox underneath the vat to heat it to the right temperature. Aunt Dora kept a large thermometer
in the milk to see when it was time to go on to the next step. The boys kept stoking the fire, and
as some of the wood burning was cedar wood, the shed had a most pleasant odor of warm,
creamy milk and cedar smoke. Aunt Dora stirred the milk all the while to keep it from scorching.
When the milk was just the right temperature, the boys scraped all the ashes and coals out of the
firebox, and the vat was allowed to cool down. Just at the right moment, Aunt Dora took from
the shelves above the vat two mysterious looking bottles of liquid. She opened the corks of the
bottles and dropped a few drops from each bottle into the milk. She told me the bottle with the
white liquid was rennet, which made the milk coagulate into heavy curd, almost like a big vat of
clabber. The other bottle contained golden coloring to turn the milk the color of cheese. Now
Aunt Dora took a long, thin knife with a long, wooden handle, and slide this knife through the
curd. First she ran the knife lengthwise, then she ran it crosswise, and cut it into one inch squares.
Next she added salt, then let it stand for a little while as the whey began rising to the top. Aunt
Dora opened a little tap on the outside of the vat to drain off the whey to give to the pigs to eat.
She pressed the curd gently to get all the whey out. Now she put some of the curd in a large bowl
to give to me. It was so fresh and warm and sweet tasting that I gobbled almost all of it up. I
poured some good, thick cream over the last little bit and ate it with a spoon. I shall never forget
how tasty were those good, warm curds and cream.
Now the curd was put into a grinder and broken up into fine pieces until it looked something like
cottage cheese, just like we buy in packages now, only much more of it. While the grinding mill
broke up the curd, Aunt Dora prepared the cheese presses. These were buckets made of wood
that had a top and a bottom that could be taken out. Aunt Dora had cut out some nice, clean
pieces of cheese cloth, big enough to fit down into the press and leave enough to come up over
the cheese at the top. Cheese cloth is a loosely-woven cotton net, to keep the curd inside while
the whey is squeezed out. Aunt Dora put the pieces of cheese cloth in the cheese presses, then
used a great big wooden ladle to fill the presses nearly full with the golden yellow curd. Then she
folded the cheese cloth over the top and put on the wooden lid of the press. Next she turned a
huge screw which pressed the wooden lid down on the curd, squeezing out the whey and pressing
the cheese into nice, solid, round, cylinder-shaped cheeses. It took the strong arms of the boys to
give the last hard twist to the screw, but finally Aunt Dora would say, “That is enough,” and then
they would start on the next one and leave that one alone. They would press about three thirty-pound cheeses each day and would let them stand in the cheese presses all nite before putting
them on the shelves in long, golden rows to ripen. When the cheeses had been sitting for several
weeks, Aunt Dora would begin the rubbing process, and would turn and rub each cheese daily so
they would cure better.
The fireplace back in our cabin was as big almost as the end of the cabin itself. It was built of
large rocks and had a shelf like a mantle running all along the front of the open part where logs
are burned. It was so big that a little seat could be built on one end of it where one could sit near
the fire on very cold nites or frosty mornings. It takes a long time to prepare a hot meal over an
open fire, so early in the afternoon, after the cheese vat and milk pails had been cleaned
thoroughly and cleared away, Rey built up a large, lapping, orange fire in the fireplace of oak and
cedar logs. Then he left it to burn down to a nice, glowing, red-hot bed of coals. Rey had placed
the dough he mixed that morning on a bench just close enough to the fire that it would puff up
and get very light. Now he took out some big round loaves just the size of the Dutch oven, and
greased the ovens good and put the dough in them to rise again. Then he took the Dutch oven
over and mixed out some biscuits, just the size of toadstools, to make puffballs. He greased their
pan well also and put the biscuits in to get light and puffy.
The boys heated the large Dutch oven for our meat. When the coals had heated it top and bottom,
they put the roast of deer meat in and left it to singe all over to a rich, golden brown. Then they
cut up some green regular onions and some green, sweet Spanish onions, and spread these all
over the top of the meat. Next they put the lid on and let the meat simmer and cook very slowly
in the coals. I don’t believe anything can smell so good when you are hungry as meat cooking in
a Dutch oven over the nice, red coals of a sweet-smelling wood fire. The boys who came up early
had planted a garden in the ground, so they prepared our new potatoes and new peas and new
ears of corn. They baked the potatoes in the same kettle as the meat. They opened the corn to see
if it was clean, then put the husks back up on the ears again and wrapped them as tight as they
could at the top with a piece of the husk. Then they put the corn right into the red coals of the fire
and covered them all up with ashes and let them steam and cook that way.
It was almost dark before the meat was cooked, so they lit the candles and lamps. The candles
stood in iron holders on the mantle piece. The lamps were coal oil lamps that stood high on a
glass stand, and on the stand was a bowl which held the coal oil. A brass holder held the wick, a
piece of knit string, which dipped into the coal oil on one end and stuck up into the lamp’s
chimney on the other. This wick could be lighted and screwed up and down to make the flame
burn high or low. We couldn’t turn the flame too high, because that would make the flame
smoke, and that would blacken the lamp. If we had it just right, we could see to eat our dinner
and even to read stories also. They spread a clean cloth on the table and then set the lamps on it
to make it seem cheerful. Then they set the plates near the fire to get good and warm to serve our
dinner. When the meat was almost ready, they took the heavy lid of the Dutch oven off and put
the bread inside and the lid back on again. They set up the reflector for the biscuits near the fire
and tipped it a little so that all the heat from the fire would get to it quickly. Well, in just a few
moments the biscuits puffed up high and began to brown. They browned so fast that they had to
be moved back from the fire so they wouldn’t burn. Then they took the meat out of the Dutch
oven and placed it on a large platter to keep warm while the gravy was being made. They
sprinkled flour into hot grease and stirred very quickly, then poured some good, rich milk into the
mixture, stirring swiftly all the time. Soon it was bubbling up and dancing around in the pot,
seeming to say, “I’m the best brown gravy in all the land. Stir me quick so I can’t be burned.”
When the gravy was done, the boys called us all to come to dinner. I loved the roast venison
smothered in onion served on a warm plate, the hot baked potato, the corn on the cob with plenty
of melted butter, the hot biscuits and butter with strawberry jam that Mother had brought along
with her. What a feast it was. The corn had just browned a little and tasted almost like popcorn,
and the potatoes were so fluffy and hot and crisp. The biscuits just melted at the slightest touch of
the tongue, and the meat and gravy were something one dreams about and cannot believe can
happen. I was so hungry because I hadn’t eaten anything since the curds and whey that Aunt Dora
had given me when I first arrived at the ranch house. It seemed very cozy to be eating by fire and
lamplight. We had a good dessert because they had made rhubarb brown betty in the reflector
oven. And we always had good, rich cream to pour over the top of our desserts, if we liked it that
Carl went over to the wall where his guitar was hanging, the one with pretty colored ribbons tied
onto the handle. He took it tenderly down and tested the strings as he plucked them to see if each
gave the right tone. Then he began playing a soft, pretty tune and singing a lovely melody.
Mother pulled her chair a little nearer to him, and together they sang in Spanish all the folk songs
and fandangos that they had learned from the Mexican people. I grew so sleepy that I began
nodding and almost fell off my chair. So Carl stopped long enough to take my shoes and my
clothes off and toss me on the feather bed. He said, “Little girl, you are tired after a long, hard
day. Good nite and go to sleep.”
The last thing I can remember of the first day of the vacation on the ranch was the soft glow of
the fire as it leaped and danced around the oak logs, and the twinkling of the candles on the
mantle, and the sweet voices of my mother and my brother singing the songs of Old Mexico.
These were the sweetest tones and the sweetest voices this side of heaven. I felt very happy, and I
slept long and hard and restfully, because the nite was fresh and cool.
The Jealous Rattlesnake
When morning came, it was so filled with glorious mountain sunshine and fresh air, and the first
thing I heard was the leaves of the oak trees as they fluttered gently in the dawn breeze. The little
birds awoke to the light of day, and they began to twitter sleepily but happily to one another.
Very soon one lovely little warbler could not contain himself any longer but began to pour out his
heart in glorious song to the sky and the rising sun. The others joined in, and a most beautiful
halleluia of song was raised by many little throats towards the throne of God. It made me feel so
glad that I jumped out of bed and ran to the wash basin, and with clean, cold spring water I
dashed my neck and arms and face and hands until I felt all tingly, and if I could have sung as
beautifully as the birds, I would have done so. But I could sing a little, so with Star I rushed out
to the corral where the calves were eagerly sucking their morning breakfast from the mother
cows, and as I ran, I sang the songs I knew. I paused under a pine tree to smell something very
lovely. Needles had fallen from the branches and covered the ground by the tree, and as I trod on
them, they expelled a sweet smell into the air. I noticed two golden yellow bulbs of something
growing on the trunk of the tree. I broke one open, and from this bulb of resin and pine tree juice
there came a fragrance like exquisite perfume. I took long breaths of it, and as I did so, I noticed
that just above my head on a limb of the pine tree were two parakeets.
They were skipping back and forth from one another as if they were doing a little dance. Every
time they came close together, they touched their little yellow beaks together two or three times
as if they were kissing one another. Sometimes they would fly around one another and change
places, then continue the dance, always kissing one another on the beak or on the neck. Mother
told me these birds had two names. One was parakeet and the other was lovebird. Sometimes
people catch them and put them in cages in their houses, but I liked to watch them better in this
beautiful big pine tree where they could fly from branch to branch or even down and scratch for
bugs and grubs among the dead pine needles. They had such pretty colors in their feathers, green
and gold and blue and red and yellow and a little grey and brown. I loved to watch the parakeets
and the calves, but just now I was called to breakfast. So Star and I ran back to the cabin and sat
down to bacon and eggs and golden brown hotcakes. Yummy, how good they tasted on this cool,
After breakfast I did my chores, because everyone on the ranch had chores to do. Mine was to fill
the big brass buckets with water. I carried them by their handles to the spring, which gushed out
of a crack in a big rock just above the cabin. The spring was shaded by two tall oak trees that had
started growing there many years ago from little acorns that had dropped into the damp soil.
Their roots had gone down deep in the ground, and more and more and bigger and bigger roots
had grown, until they stood very firm and could send out and up little green shoots that had leaf
buds on them. These leaf buds opened and gathered sunshine and rain and grew bigger and
bigger until now the trees were very large and made beautiful shade for the spring. The water was
very cool because it came from deep, deep down where it had been stored in a solid bed of
gravel, as the water from snows and rains oozed into the earth. When the gravel bed was so full it
could hold no more, the water came up, up, higher and higher, towards the surface of the ground.
When it found the crack in the big rock, it gushed up and out, and that became our spring for
drinking and for cooking. I took a small dipper with me which had a long handle on it. With this
dipper, I would dip carefully into the water, trying not to stir up the mud. If I wasn’t careful, I got
leaves or dirt with the water in my ladle, and I threw it out again. But if I was careful and had
picked up a clear dipperful of water, I emptied it into the brass bucket, over and over until the
bucket was full. I could only carry one bucketful of water at a time, so as I finished filling one, I
carried it into the house and then came back and filled the other. By this time I was good and
thirsty, so I laid down on my stomach, just where the water came trickling over the top, and then
put my mouth and nose and chin into the water, and drank and drank my fill.
When I had brought the water in and placed it on the water bench and hung the dipper from its
nail in the wall nearby, I picked up the great, huge wood basket. This I carried to the woodpile to
fill with chips, which are small pieces of wood that fly around when the boys chop wood. These
small pieces help start the fire easily in the morning and help keep it going after it gets started.
There on the woodpile were two bushy-tail squirrels, playing all over the logs, on top and under
and around and around them. They would hide from one another and then chase each other just
as if they were playing hide and seek. Every once in a while they would stop and put their heads
together as if they were talking, and I always imagined they were lamenting that they had to quit
playing and get their work done, because they would scamper away and climb the live oak
nearby. Here they got their little cheek pouches full of acorns, then scampered down to the hole
in the trunk of the tree that was the door to their little house. They disappeared into the blackness
of the oak and perhaps stored their acorns in some safe corner for their winter food. Then they
came out to play hide and seek again. But before they did, they would stop for a tasty little treat,
holding an acorn in their two front paws and sitting on a nearby limb and nibbling away. I could
tell they enjoyed it very much, just like my granddaughters Charlotte or Annette or Wendy when
they take an orange roll from my magic bread box and sit on the garden wall to eat it. I decided
that during the summer I would make friends with these two cunning squirrels and get them to be
unafraid of me, so that they would come and eat little snacks from my hand and maybe climb up
on my shoulder and run across my back. This takes a long time, but I knew if I were kind and
patient that they would learn to be unafraid of me.
When I had gathered my basketful of chips, I took it to the cabin, then returned to carry big
pieces of wood to burn in the fireplace and fill the wood box, which stood almost as high as my
other granddaughter, Lori, or my grandson, Parky, is tall off the floor. These pieces were so big
that I could only carry one or two pieces at a time, so it took me a long while to get enough.
When I finished, I decided I needed a rest, so I remembered that the Mexican mama and the older
Mexican sisters had asked me to come and help make salsa. I got my mother’s permission, and
away I went to the lower cabin, little Star tagging along.
They greeted me with warm good-mornings. I said, “May I help with the salsa today?” and the
Mexican mama and the older sisters said, “Seguro, Señorita.” Then they explained how to do it.
First they washed some large, green peppers and gave them to me in a bowl. They said, “Now
here is a long rod. Stick the rod through the peppers one at a time and set it near the bright coals
of the fire.” I did, and then they told me to keep turning the peppers slowly over the hot coals so
that they could toast dark brown. They said, “This will loosen the skin so that you can easily peel
it off.” I did as they said, toasting and peeling all of the six peppers they gave me. When they
were all done, they gathered the peelings to give to the pigs and gave me the bowl again. They
said, “Now the peppers are soft, so you mash them up between your fingers until they are all
smashed into a soft, thin sauce.” This I did, and it was fun to feel the soft peppers oozing
between my fingers and running off the tips of them. When they were all soft and oozy, they gave
me a piece of garlic and a large tomato, and told me to put the sauce into a metate. Then they
gave me a mano and showed me how to smash the peppers and tomatoes and garlic all together
in the large stone bowl with the small stone ball, pressing and rubbing until it all came out as a
soft, runny sauce. This sauce is eaten over venison or over any kind of meat or vegetables, just as
we eat mint sauce over roast lamb. It is rather picante and very tasty and gives food a good
When the salsa was done, the girls and their mama began to warm up the beans and to hurry
baking tortillas over the fire. A piece of heavy sheet iron had been placed over some round stones
near the hearth so that fire could burn underneath it and make it very hot. The girls had soaked
some corn in water mixed with ashes to get the hulls off the kernels, then thoroughly washed it,
so that now it was soft and white. This damp, white corn they took up and ground two or three
times on the metate that was in front of each girl. Each recited prayers of the rosary, which are
prayers used by Catholic people, as she worked. When the corn was the right fineness, the girls
would scoop it up in their hands and begin patting it out into a very thin, round circle about the
size of a pancake. When it was round enough and thin enough, they would quickly slap it onto
the hot iron of the stone fireplace. The dough would puff way up and brown all over very
quickly. Where it had toasted faster, it would be a golden yellow flecked with dark brown. Then
the girls picked it up by the edge and quickly flipped it to the other side. All the puffiness went
out of it, and it turned into a thin, very soft, brown tortilla. It is the Mexican bread and very often
becomes the Mexican spoon, too. When the men came home to lunch, they took off their spurs
and threw them in the corner, but they didn’t take off their leather chaps because they were going
to ride again as soon as they had eaten. They sat down cross-legged around a woven grass mat,
where the girls and the mama brought them bowls full of hot beans with cheese melted into them,
a tall stack of hot, golden-brown tortillas, and a side dish of salsa. They would break off a bit of
the tortilla, fold it into a shape that could be used as a spoon, dip up a bit of beans or salsa, bite it
off and chew it, then dip up some more.
They drank lots of cold spring water and a cupful of Mexican chocolate, which is seasoned with a
cinnamon stick. They wiped their mouths on their shirt sleeves because they had no napkins.
They thanked the women for the nice, hot dinner, put on their spurs, and walked out of the house
and over to their horses. The bright, silver spurs made cling-clanging music each time their sharp
cowboy boots hit the ground. They sprang onto their ponies and, with a “yi-pi-pi-ah,” dashed off
across the fields to their afternoon work with the cattle.
It was now about 2:00 o’clock, and the day was getting very warm. I asked the Mexican mama if
her girls could go down to the river with me and have a swim. There was a beautiful swimming
place right where the streams from the two canyons, one on either side of the valley, came
together. The water formed a single, large, beautiful river that flowed down between steep, moss-covered rock walls and on until it emptied into a big lake. I loved to stand and watch the mist
rising from the river and circling and curling up and over the sheer cliffs on either side. One
place along the bank of this river was covered with smooth, white rocks. This was the place we
used as a dressing room to get ready for our swim, because the rocks were so smooth that they
did not hurt our feet, and here and there were a few tall stones just high enough to sit down on
and take off our shoes and stockings. So we raced one another to the white rocks and then to see
who would be first in the cool, blue water.
We swam and we swam. We climbed out and dove off the side and had a perfectly lovely time.
After a while we grew tired, so we decided to get dressed and come another day for our next
I sat down on a tall rock to get my shoes and stockings on, and all of a sudden I had a very
uncomfortable feeling. I felt like someone was telling me to move away from that rock very
quickly. I sat a moment longer, but the uncomfortable feeling stayed. I finally looked back of me
and saw in the shade of that big rock a huge rattlesnake. His yellow skin was all marked with
diamonds of black, and he was coiled up round and round. His tail shook very angrily, making a
sound one will never forget if they have ever heard it once. His little forked tongue was going in
and out of his mouth as if he were spitefully sticking it out at me. He seemed to be saying both
with his tail and with his tongue, “Get off my rock. This is my rock and you can’t use it.” He
seemed to be a very jealous rattlesnake and didn’t want to share the spot that he was using to cool
himself from the hot sun, especially with a human, because humans and snakes are enemies and
do not share well together.
I jumped to my feet and didn’t lose any time grabbing my shoes and stockings and moving as far
away from that spot as I could. Believe me, when I sat down on the next rock, I looked first
behind it to make sure there was no snake that would be jealous of me. I am sure if I had been a
moment later, that snake would have leaped up and plunged his little poisonous fangs into my
arm or back, but I listened to the warning that I am sure was the Holy Ghost speaking to me, just
as he speaks to all good children. When I got home that nite and said my prayers, I thanked God
for his protecting care and for the Gift of the Holy Ghost that all Mormon children receive when
they are baptized and confirmed. I can never, ever forget the white rocks, the blue-green waters,
the huge, grey-green cliffs, nor the protecting care sent me this day when I was about ten years
Memories of Ranch Life
The cows on the ranch were of two kinds. Some were milch cows that had sucking calves. These
we kept so we could save some of their milk each day to make the cheeses. And some were range
cows that we let get fat in nice, green meadows all summer. These we took to the railroad station
in the valley in the fall and put them on a train and sent them to the big city to be sold for
beefsteaks and roast beef. Now because the range cows could run loose over the meadows so
much, they were rather wild and not easy to make do just what we wanted them to do. They
didn’t like to be put into the corral where we had to keep them at nite so they couldn’t wander
too far away and get lost in other people’s herds of cattle.
One day Star and I were hiking over the foothills, when off in the distance I saw Carl riding
toward me very fast. He was trying to follow a wild cow that was running this way and that,
fooling him at every turn. Carl had a long, forked stick with six or seven nice big bass fish which
he had just caught down in the river. When you carry fish this way, you put one end of the stick
right through the fish’s gills. These gills are like our nose and have an opening clear through the
fish’s cheek. You string the fish through the gills onto the stick like you string beads on a string.
Carl galloped his horse because the cow was running very fast. He was trying to get her into the
corral, which was on the other side of a large plowed field of very loose dirt. Now as Carl passed
me, he called, “Come on, Gladys, give me your arm. Put your foot in the stirrup and you can ride
with me.” So I reached up and grabbed his strong arm and caught my foot in the stirrup as he
slowed his horse down. He then gave me a quick lift, and I swung up behind him and threw my
two arms around him and held on as tight as I could.
I was sitting right on the horse’s back with my legs hanging down on either side. It was a very
slick seat, for the horse was fat and sleek. I bounced a good deal, because the cow had decided to
go right across the plowed field. The ground was very rough and bumpy, and the horse had to do
a lot of leaping to jump over the bumps and keep up with the cow. Besides, the cow kept
changing her mind on which way she was going, and in trying to get rid of us, she kept dodging
just like a football player does on the football field, first turning sharply this way then that. Every
time the horse leaped, I bounced very high, until one could have seen light between me and the
horse’s back, and every time she turned quickly, I was almost thrown on the ground. But I clung
very tightly to my brother’s waist, and it was so much fun and so exciting that I began to laugh
instead of cry when I came down hard on my seat as the horse leaped over the plowed ground. I
never have seen a cow that could run so fast, and I began to think that we were never going to get
her in the corral.
Then I thought briefly of little Star. I wondered if he would get lost and not be able to find his
way home. So right in the middle of a bump, I quickly looked behind me, and there I saw a very
funny sight. Across the plowed field came little Star, or at least he was trying to come. His little
legs were so short and the bumps were so high that he had to make two or three tries before he
could get over some of them. It looked like he was almost lying down, because you couldn’t see
his swift little legs at all. I laughed, and just then Carl said, “Hold on tight, Sister, because we are
almost to the corral gate, and the cow won’t want to go in, so I will have to turn the horse many
times very quickly.” So I squeezed him tighter than ever and pressed my knees into the horse’s
back and almost felt like yelling, it was so frightening and such fun. After darting back and forth
three or four times and trying to get away, the cow finally decided there was nothing else to do
about it but go into the corral. So she dashed in the gate, and Carl stopped his horse so fast that I
almost went over his head. Then Carl swung out of the saddle and ran to the gate and closed it
tight before the cow could change her mind again.
He lifted me down from the horse. I was so excited and frightened that my knees were shaking
and I could hardly stand up. But just then, little Star made it across the field and came running
toward me. He was trembling all over because he was afraid he was going to lose me. So I picked
him up and began to pet him, and this made my legs stop shaking. He kept leaping up in my arms
and sticking his little tongue out to lick my face as if he were kissing me, and this made him feel
better, and he stopped trembling and yelping with his little voice. Then I put him down and we
both ran to the cabin and climbed up on the bed to take a rest after such an exciting adventure.
One day when I woke up in the morning I had a terrible toothache. It felt just like someone had
taken a red hot poker from the fire and was poking me in the jaw. Today when someone has a
toothache he goes to the dentist, but on the ranch there was no dentist to go to. I tried my best not
to think about it. When it was time to eat I chewed my food with the other side of my mouth, but
it still hurt, and I didn’t feel like eating very much at all. I had trouble falling to sleep that nite,
and though I hoped it would get better, the next day it was more painful than the day before.
Finally at the end of three days Carl said, “We have had enough of this toothache. We will ride
over to Cave Valley and have Brother Farr pull it out.”
So Carl saddled up old Monte and put me up on his back, then he got up on his own horse, and
we began our journey. It was a beautiful morning, with the sun sending down bright rays of
sunlight that sparkled through the leaves of the oak trees along the way. Birds sang gayly in the
meadows and darted about as jauntily as could be, and though normally nothing could have made
me happier than to see them play so, today I couldn’t enjoy them, for it was a long way on
horseback to Cave Valley, and each bounce of the horse made my tooth ache more. I can tell you
I was very glad when at long last we came up over the hill and looked down into the little valley
and saw a cabin standing there with smoke curling up from the big rock chimney.
As we rode up to the cabin door, Brother and Sister Farr came out and welcomed us. When
Brother Farr saw my swollen jaw, he said, “Well, well, it looks like trouble, but we will fix that
in a hurry. It’s a good thing I brought my forceps with me when I came to Cave Valley this
summer. Come with me to the shed, Gladys, and we’ll take care of it.”
So Carl took hold of one of my hands, and Brother Farr took hold of the other, and the three of us
walked straight towards the shed. Soon I was sitting on a saw horse with my feet braced against
the soft ground. Brother Farr opened his satchel and took out a pair of awful looking pincers. He
told me, “Now you must be brave for just a minute.” He put one foot up on a chair and braced
himself so he couldn’t slip, then he said calmly, “Open your mouth very wide and hold onto the
cross-bar of the saw horse.” He then raised the forceps and fastened them very tightly around my
sore tooth. It hurt to have the them touching such a tender spot, but I tried my best not to wiggle
or cry. Then all of a sudden he gave a quick pull, and a little twist, and it felt as though a bolt of
lightening had come through the forceps and into my jaw. Then he gave another quick pull, and
right away I began to feel better, for now the tooth was out.
We thanked Brother Farr and began the long journey home. On the way I could still feel a numb
pain in my jaw and could taste the salt from the sore. Having one’s tooth pulled by a neighbor
was a very frightening thing to have to go through, but in those days it was the best we could do.
When we arrived back at Cliff Ranch and had our supper, I climbed into my soft feather bed and
snuggled down to sweet dreams of the nite. It was so good not to feel the pain of the toothache
anymore, but to feel instead the soothing process of nature healing up the hole where the tooth
had been pulled out. I kept sticking my tongue in the hole. It felt so big and empty. But soon I
was fast asleep and forgot all about it.
Now the older boys in my family liked adventure and thought they were very brave. What they
wanted to do more than anything else was to lasso a bear with their lariats and bring it home
alive. One day when they were returning from a day on the ranch chasing cattle, they ran into a
huge mother brown bear. She had with her two almost full-grown cub bears. “Now this is our
chance,” thought the boys, but when they saw the huge size of both the mother bear and the cub
bears, they thought better of it. They looked at their guns and found that they only had four
bullets between them, so they knew if the bear attacked them, they had to shoot straight and get
three pretty much on the first try.
The mother bear thought she was being cornered by the boys, so she started to attack them. The
oldest brother shot at her and wounded her but didn’t kill her. This left three bullets. She ran
away crying, and the cubs followed her. But she had not gone far when she changed her mind and
turned and came toward them again. The oldest boy took careful aim this time and pulled his
trigger, and this time he hit the bear right in the heart, and she dropped dead. But on came the
cubs, very angry and ready for a fight. The other two boys each took aim, one at one of the cubs
and the other at the other one. They were very careful to aim very straight at the heart, and each
bullet found its mark, and the two cubs lay dead at the feet of the boys.
They had had a very narrow escape, but they had got the bears they had been looking for, only
not with a lasso or lariat rope but with the last bullet they had in their cartridge belts. When they
realized that they had come that close to being clawed and mauled by the three bears and maybe
killed, they were kind of shaky for a while. But soon they began to skin the bears so they could
keep the beautiful, long-haired skins. They cut the skins from around the eyes and nose and head
and paws, and hung the bodies of the bears on a limb of a tree. Then they ripped the hide down
and away from the body until they had taken off the three beautiful skins and carefully wrapped
them and tied them with three lariats to the backs of their saddles. Then they went down to the
ranch and had the Mexican women cure and soften the skins in the way they knew. We kept the
skins and used them for hearth rugs in front of the fireplace of our valley home as long as I was a
little girl. I would curl up on the three rugs many times in front of the fire, and there I would go
to sleep dreaming of the days when we were on the high ranch, thankful that the three lone
bullets had not missed their marks when my brothers had been so brave and foolish.
Now all summer long my brothers ran the cattle with the vaqueros, which was the name for the
Mexican cowboys who worked on our ranch. They helped the mama cows have their calves in the
springtime and took care of the sick and orphaned ones. Each spring they would have to ride out onto
the range and round up all the mama cows and all the new little calves and bring them down to the
big corral in the meadow for branding. Now little calves can be very hard to capture, which is why my
brothers and the vaqueros had lassos, to lasso the calves so they couldn’t run away. They had a long
stick of iron about as long as a grown-up person’s arm, and on the end was the brand, a little iron
circle with the mark of our ranch, different from all the other ranches around. They left the round end
of the iron in the fire until it got very hot, and then they used it to burn a little mark into the calf’s hide
that would stay there all its life. The calves wiggled and kicked and bawled for their mammies all
through the operation, as though it were the most frightening thing in the world. But calves have very
tough hides, so the branding didn’t really hurt them at all, and was necessary in case a cow or calf
strayed so it could be brought home again.My brothers rode all summer long caring for the cows,
taking them to the best pastures and moving them on when the grass got too low. Sometimes they
would find a wily cow with an older calf or two that had slipped away from them during the roundup,
so they would capture it and brand it and let it go again. The boys and the vaqueros needed lots of
horses to do their work, and so we had a herd of those too. Now when a colt is very young, you
mustn’t ride it, but you must wait until it is about two years old so it will be strong enough to
carry you. A colt that is just getting old enough to be ridden is called a bronco, and a bronco that
has never had a vaquero on his back is a wild thing indeed. The minute he slips on, that bronco
takes off running and twisting and jumping up with his hind legs and then with his front legs or
even with all his legs at the same time, because there isn’t anything in the world he wants more
than to get that vaquero off his back.
So first my brothers or the vaqueros would rope the horse and hold onto the rope while it ran
round and round until it finally wore itself down and didn’t mind so much being on the end of a
rope in the corral with a person. Then my brothers or the vaqueros would come closer and closer
to the horse, patting it and talking gently to it all the time until it tolerated them very well. Finally
they would get the horse so calm that they could slip a saddle on and buckle it up under its belly.
You wouldn’t think the horse would hurt a fly by the time they got the saddle on, but the moment
they slipped up onto its back, it bucked and twisted and jumped as though it were a mountain
lion or some other wild beast. The brothers and the vaqueros who were not riding thought this
was very exciting, and laughed and whooped and cheered, and the brother or vaquero who was
riding whooped and called for all he was worth and struggled to keep from being thrown. The
rider had to hold on very tight to not fall off onto the hard dit of the corral and maybe hurt
himself, but if he stayed on long enough, the horse finally got used to being ridden, and didn’t
kick and buck and twist, and with a little more patient training, that horse would become a very
fine new saddle pony, ready for the roundup in the fall.
Now I was just a little girl, so I spent my days watching Aunt Dora with the cheese making, and
hiking, and swimming in the river, and playing with my little friends, and helping my mother
clean around the cabin and cook for the boys. The bronco busting went on day after day for many
weeks, and after each day the boys would be very exhausted and very hungry. So mother and I
would always have something very good for them when they got home, like baked trout, or duck,
or venison, with potatoes, squash, or sweet potatoes, some hot johnnycake, some cheese, and
glasses of good creamy milk.
After supper we would take our chairs or stools out into the courtyard and sing in the soft
moonlight. The vaqueros would be out in the moonlight near their cabin, too, and when we had
finished with a song, they would start up one of their own, and thus we would sing back and forth
to one another until the hour grew late and we all felt soothed and refreshed. Never was there
such sweet singing, and I will always remember the haunting echoes of their joyous melodies
rising up over the mountains, and our joyous songs in reply. The dogs had very tender ears, and
sometimes they would get up on their hind legs, point their sharp noses at the moon, and howl a
long, plaintive cry, as if they were saying, “Don’t sing anymore. It makes me sad, and besides, it
hurts my ears.” We would say, “Hush up, Tige. Stop howling, Snap,” and would pat them a little
and go right on with our songs. These songs were called serenatas and had names like Cielito
Lindo, La Paloma, La Golondrina, and Estrellita. I taught them to my daughter Leonore, just like
my mother taught them to me. If you meet her, perhaps you can sing them with her sometime.
The Mountain Lion and the Colt
The year before, Carl had given me a beautiful little sorrel colt. I remember how excited I was to
see him, and how shiny and smart he looked trotting alongside his mother. He was just a
yearling, and Carl said we would have to let the sorrel colt run with his mother for one more year
until he got big enough to teach to wear a saddle and to ride.
I remember how Carl some evenings used to get down his little, long-handled pan that he used to
melt lead in for his bullets. I was fascinated sitting near him as he held the pan in the fire, and the
hard, inflexible metal bars melted down into a liquid mass of silvery, molten lead. I thought it
looked almost like melted cheese, only blue-grey instead of golden yellow in color. Carl dipped
spoonfuls of this lead into his bullet mold, which was made of a cylinder of wrought iron. It was
shaped so that when the molten lead was poured into it and allowed to cool, small bullets formed
inside in the shape of small marbles, and very hard. He did this over and over again, pouring
spoonful after spoonful of lead into the mold, then letting it cool, then taking the bullets out and
storing them in a box high on the shelf. Carl said his bullets were almost gone, and that he would
soon be needing more, so he was filling up the box with a new supply. These were what the boys
used to shoot the deer and the turkeys and the ducks and geese that we had to have for our food,
and to protect us from wild beasts.
Next he carefully took down his gun from the rack on which it was hanging above the mantle. He
asked Mother for some pieces of soft, clean cloth, which she got out of a large bag of scraps in
the corner. Carl tore these scraps into long, thin pieces, and piled them by a dish with fine oil.
Now he took out his ramrod. This is a long piece of straight steel that fits alongside the two long
metal parts of the gun, called the barrels. He dipped the little pieces of cloth in the oil, then used
the ramrod to ram them down into the barrels. He would hold onto the end of the rod and work it
up and down and twist it around and around. When he pulled it out, it brought with it a lot of
black, dirty grease and gun powder that had remained in the gun after the last time he had shot it.
He did this many times until the rags came out clean from the barrel of the gun. Then he knew
that the gun would not clog up and send the bullet crooked when he shot it at something. He held
the barrel up to the firelight and looked inside to be sure it was thoroughly clean. Once he let me
look down the barrel. The fire reflecting on the shiny clean steel made circles of rainbow-colored
lights. He told me what not to do while holding a gun and how to be very careful that a bullet
was not in the barrel, and never to put my hand on the trigger of the gun while looking into it.
Little children should never handle a gun until some older person who is there can show and
teach them how to do it safely. Before he put the gun away, Carl rubbed its outside with oil also
until it was all polished and shiny as a new toy.
Next day Carl told me to play and rest much, because the following day he was going to take me
on a long horseback journey. I could hardly wait to hear where we were going, but he wanted it
all to be a surprise, so I didn’t ask any more about it, and went off with Star and my Mexican
playmates to play games and have fun. We played mostly under the big oak trees, where we
climbed on the great, drooping branches as if they were horses. We would then kick our feet hard
against the ground, and this would push the limb high up in the air. Then we pushed down with
all our might to bring the limb down close to the ground again. It was like a giant teeter-totter,
only more exciting, because as the branch went up and down, it swayed very much and gave us
lots of scary thrills.
Sometimes we would get off the limb and reach away up and grab onto long, trailing, leafy
branches. We would run with them as fast as we could out to one side of the tree, then we would
leap up and, still holding onto the branches, swing back to where we were before. This was a
very fun swinging game, and as we played we laughed and squealed, for we had many near-spills. Over and over again we played horse and swing-out until we were tired and hungry, and
went home for lunch with the promise to meet again. In the afternoon we played dolls with the
dolls we made from the pretty, plentiful acorns nuts under the trees. We used acorns for the heads
and bodies, pinned together with good, strong pins, and oak leaves for the skirts, so beautifully
dark green and shiny and ruffled all around. The little acorn caps made very cunning little hats
for our dolls, trimmed with bits of silk and feathers we found about. Sometimes Mother helped
us paint eyes and noses and mouths on the place where their faces could have been. After we had
played dolls for an hour, we decided to go swimming again in the river, right at the time of day
when the afternoon shadows were curling up from the river mists and the sun felt warm and
lovely on the skin.
Next morning Carl and I packed our saddle bags with a generous lunch, and away we galloped on
the new adventure. Before long we came upon a most curious sight. At the side of a cliff very
near the road was a strange little house built right in the mountainside. The winds and the rain
dripping down many years had carved out a hollow place in the cliff, and there in this cave
somebody had taken mud and water and straw, and built little rooms and made a little house to
live in. Nearby was another ledge with a house built into it too. Carl told me, “You are looking at
ancient houses that were built here by another people many, many years ago.” He said, “We call
these buildings houses of the Cave Dwellers. Look up over your head and tell me what you can
see.” I said I could see a very high and large earthen vessel. He said, “Yes, it is what the ancient
people used to store their grain in. They put their corn down into this vessel. Then it was safe
from other people who sometimes tried to steal it from them.”
“But,” I asked, “how could they get up such a steep cliff, and once they were there, how could
they get up such a steep side of the vessel.”
“We know that they knew how to make rope and buckskin ladders so they could climb up these
steep side walls. There have been many things found to prove they made and used them.” He said
that one summer he and Rey and Ira had made a good ladder themselves and had succeeded after
many tries to climb the cliff and then the side of the vessel and look down into it. They had seen
kernels of corn still inside, so they were very sure it had been used by these ancient people for
storing their corn.
All around the circle of this little secluded valley there were more and more cliff houses. Once
we stopped and got off our horses and explored all around and went into many of the rooms.
Sometimes the door was so low that we had to stoop way down to get under the lintel. We
believe that perhaps these were very short people and not tall like people today. We found many
little things in these little houses, such as chipped flint arrowheads and little carved stone images,
and picked them up to keep. Carl went over to the corner, and from a hiding place he pulled out a
most wonderful gift for me from where he had hidden it weeks before. It was an olla or earthen
vessel full of little tiny white and pink beads. They were made from little, delicate sea shells, and
each had a small hole pierced in the end. This was so it would be possible to string these little
shells on a tough string and wear them for a decoration, just like a string of pearls. “Why are
these little pretty things here?” I asked. He told me he had been digging in the montezumas or
mounds of earth where the ancient people buried their dead. He said the olla had been placed
nearby the person that was being buried as a gift to carry with him to the land of the Great Spirit.
I packed the olla securely in the saddlebag, right-side-up so none of the pretty shells could spill,
and then we went on our way.
We rode on and on for many miles. As we left the valley, I saw a great big grapevine growing
high, high up in an oak tree. I wanted to pick some, but Carl told me I must wait until we were
coming home, and then if there was time we would gather some and bring them home.
“Now, Gladys,” said Carl, “We’ve come near the part of the country where I think that little
sorrel colt that I gave you last year ought to be pasturing.”
I gave a little squeal of joy and said, “O!” I had almost forgotten about him. “Will he be big enough to
ride this year?”"He is two years old now, and I think it will be the right time to bring him in and let
him run with the other horses and gradually get him used to the saddle and the bridle. But we will see
if we can find him first. We may have to hunt for a long time.”
As we came near a lush, green meadow, we saw several horses running fast away from us, tossing
their tails and manes in the air. I noticed that most of them seemed like they were mama horses with
baby colts tagging along and running with them. These colts were all different sizes, because some
were two years old, and some were one year old or less. Carl wrinkled his brow and put his hand up
to his eyes and looked and looked very hard at the band of horses. He raised himself up high in the
stirrups of the saddle and turned far around this way and that. He couldn’t seem to find what he was
looking for. Finally he said, “Little Sister, I am afraid something dreadful has happened to your colt.
He is not with the mother nor any of the other horses. Now you stay right here where you are, and I
shall take a look around.”
He rode slowly along the edge of the meadow, looking carefully in all directions. He stopped his
horse very quickly and pulled out his gun from the case it was riding in along his saddle. He raised it
very steadily, and I saw him look along the barrel, and then I heard a loud shot. I saw a very large
animal bound off under the trees. Carl aimed his gun and shot again, and I heard a loud yelping and a
very angry growl. By this time my horse was very excited, and he whirled very swiftly and would
have bounded away in fear. I held tight to the reins and talked soothingly to him, and after a while he
slowed down and didn’t whirl anymore. My brother galloped his horse after the animal, then I saw
him aim his gun the third time. He shot, and I saw something fall in the dust, and the yelping and
Carl came galloping back to me and said, “Dear little Sister, don’t cry, but I have to tell you that last
nite a mountain lion snuck up on the horses, and your pretty little sorrel colt was attacked and killed
by him.” This often happens to young colts in the mountains. We rode over to look at the lion, and on
the way we came upon my poor little colt, torn horribly on his shoulder, lying dead upon the ground.
Carl comforted me and led me away and said, “Now remember, there will be other colts that will be
yours, although maybe you can’t ride them quite so soon. But the lion made one mistake. He came
back to have a second feast during the time the mama horses were feeding, because he was not
expecting us to come riding upon him. But I shot him dead, and he will not get any more colts in this
valley or any other.” Of course I did cry because I was so disappointed, and then it was quite horrid to
imagine that awful beast lying there with his forepaw holding down my dear little colt and gnawing
away on his leg. I felt happy that my brother knew how to shoot and was not afraid to kill a beast that
was so destructive. But even lions have to eat, and they think that colts are the best eating in the
After we looked at the lion and checked on the other horses, we turned around and rode towards
home. When I had dried my tears, I began to think of the ripe, wild grapes again. Soon we came to the
oak tree where they grew, and here we got off our horses, and climbed and picked and climbed and
picked until we had enough to make a luscious grape pie when we got home. I soon forgot the
horrible sight of my colt and the mountain lion. I began dreaming about selecting a new little colt, and
I resolved to keep him in the corral and feed him all winter so no lion could get at him this time.
The Indian Scare
In late summer, when my brothers and the vaqueros had broken many horses and there were plenty
ready to ride, they all started out on the big roundup. During the roundup, they would ride and ride
and gather from the canyons and the meadows all the cattle they could find, and bring them to the big
corral next to the ranchhouse, so they could ride herd on them until it was time to drive them to the
market to be sold. They told us it would take them all that day. They started at dawn and said to have
a good, hot supper ready about sunset time. So we waved them goodbye and told them to be careful
and all the things you say to someone who is going on a hard journey.
Mother and I cooked all morning, while Aunt Dora made two new cheeses and rubbed and turned all
the old cheeses so they would cure better and better each day. We had to think of something to do to
keep us busy so we wouldn’t worry about the boys, so we made starch. This is how we did it. We
peeled many potatoes, then we cut them into thin strips and put them in a pan with just enough water
to cover them. We let them sit in the water all day. Toward evening we poured the water off, leaving
about a quarter-inch thick layer of white, milky liquid. This was the starch that had oozed out of the
potatoes and sunk to the bottom of the pan, because it was heavier than the water. We had to put these
pans of starch in the sun to dry very thoroughly. That meant we would have to wait until next day to
finish the starch making.
While we were working, we had a visitor. A man on a horse came galloping very fast up to our door.
He stopped and said, “Good afternoon. I just rode over to tell you that Apache Kid is on the rampage
again, and it would be well if you put all your things in the house and locked them up well tonite.”
When the Apache Kid and his band of renegade Indians went about thus and needed things, they just
took whatever they could find, saddles, bridles, clothes off the line, a rope, or anything useful.
I saw my mother turn a little pale, and even though I knew the band of Indians was near, I wondered
why she was so frightened.
After supper, I was riding a very tame old saddle horse around the meadow at a very slow pace,
because mother was walking beside me. All of a sudden, we heard a shot from a gun. We listened,
and in a very few minutes we heard two more shots, “Bang, bang.” It sounded very near. Mother had
that same frightened look again, but she said, very bravely, “I guess that is the boys coming home.
Maybe they found a deer to kill. We will go get the dinner warm.” But I knew in my heart that she
So I asked her, “Mother, why are you afraid every once in a while when we come to the ranch? Why
are you afraid now? It all seems so peaceful to me.”
She didn’t tell me right away but led me to the house, where we lit the lamps and candles and sat
down to wait for the boys to come. Then she said, “I do have something to tell you, Gladys, so you
will know why I have fear sometimes when I am alone on the ranch.
“When we first came here and built the cabins, there was a band of real mean Indians roving over
these hills. The Apache Kid was their chief, and he was a very fierce man. Apache Kid was
Geronimo’s son, and he had had some very hard treatment from some white men. He had seen his
brothers killed mercilessly by them, so he felt all the time in his heart that he had to get revenge ten
times on the white man for his cruel deeds. That is why he stole and did all the mean things he did.
“There came a time when our families moved from the big ranch to a smaller ranch further down
towards the valley. The big ranch was rented to a family by the name of Thompson, and they lived in
the lower cabin. One time, all the men folks went off on the roundup, leaving the women home alone,
even as we are today, Gladys. The very morning they rode away, Apache Kid and his fierce band had
camped up on the mountainside behind Needle Point.” Now Needle Point was a sharp point of rock
near our cabin. When I looked out the window, I could see its sharp spire sticking up against the
horizon in the twilight. I could see that the rock was very large and that it would make a very good
hiding place. One would not even be able to see the smoke of their small cooking fires.
Mother continued with her story: “Now when the Indians saw that all the men had gone, they rushed
down upon the women and the children and dragged them out of the houses and killed them with big
rocks. These Indians were called apachurreros de huesos, which means crushers of bones, because
that is what they did to their victims when they captured them. Now it so happened that the little girl,
eight years old, saw that her little brother, six years old, had been hurt. The Indians were busy with the
other people of the house, and so they didn’t pay close attention to these two children. So the little girl
dragged the little boy to the chicken coop nearby, tore her apron in wide pieces of cloth, wrapped
them tightly around the bleeding wound in the boy’s hip, and then covered him all over with straw.
She herself crawled deep down into the straw, and then they lay very, very still. The Indians looked
into the chicken coop, but it seemed to them that everyone was dead, so they rode away without
harming them any more. After many hours the men came home and found the little boy and girl. They
washed and dressed their wounds and saved their lives. But Apache Kid has not been captured. The
United States Army captured most of the tribe who were Geronimo’s people, but Apache Kid and
some of his companions escaped and are still running loose in the fastness of these rugged mountains.
“Now, Gladys, you know why I am a little nervous when the boys go out to the far off places and we
are here alone, and tonite especially, because I have heard the shots and have imagined that maybe the
boys met some of the Indians and had a battle with them. But they will be coming soon, I am sure.
We will sit in the cabin doorway and listen for the cowbells and the bleating of the cattle that will tell
us when they are near.”
Well, we waited and we waited, and the nite wore on. The moon came up very bright and made long
shadows under the pointed pines. Nite bird and whippoorwills cried as they flew across the valley
from tree to tree, but still no cowbells could we hear nor any bleating of cattle. Mother would sit still
for as long as she could. Then she would get up, walk around a bit and sing a gay little Spanish song,
then settle down in her chair again. Once or twice she went down to the lower cabin to talk to the
Mexican women. They were very anxious too, and most of them were kneeling in front of their
crucifixes or images of the Virgin Mary and were praying constantly for their men to return safely.
Eight o’clock came and went, then 9:00 o’clock, then 10:00, and still no boys. Finally about 11:00
o’clock we heard very faintly the tingle of the bells. I took Star, and away we ran to the lower cabin to
tell the good news. All the vaqueros’ wives got up from their prayers and came to the doors to listen.
When they heard the bells and the lowing of the cattle, they dropped on their knees again right where
they were and began crossing themselves, as Catholic people do, and saying prayers of thanks for the
return of their men.Soon the dust of the herd rose like a silver mist in the moonlight, and the cattle
were corralled and rounded into a big herd, and guards of vaqueros placed around them. As the boys
climbed stiffly out of their saddles, their spurs jingling and their leather chaps flapping, we ran to
them and almost leaped in their arms, crying, “You’re safe, you’re safe, and are home again.” They
said, “What in the world are all the tears about?” and we said, “We heard your guns fired hours ago,
and when you didn’t come, we were afraid you had met some Indians and had a battle with them.
They sounded so near.”
The boys laughed and called us scaredy-cats and said, “We must have been in one of those peculiar
places where a shot echoes on the nearby cliffs and is amplified and sounds much nearer than it is and
much louder. We didn’t see any Indians, but we did see some very fine deer, so we shot three and
brought them home.” Now it was just getting to be time for us to put some deer meat in barrels of salt
and cure it so it would last through the winter, and sure enough, strung in back of the boys’ saddles
were three fine deer. They took them off and used a knife to put a slit in the tendons of their legs, then
ran a tough stick through them and hung them by a peg on the side of the shed for skinning. They
would not wait to skin the deer, because they said it would make the meat taste too strong. So while
we sang our thanks for their safe return and got their supper hot, they skinned the deer and tacked
their hides stretched tight against the shed wall. Once they had dried and cured, the Mexican women
could get the hair off and tan them and pound them into good buckskins.
Now this is how the boys prepared the deer meat for winter. After the meat had chilled all nite in the
cool mountain air, they sliced it up into thin pieces and rubbed it all over with lots of salt. They let it
dry thoroughly by hanging it on racks in the sunshine, then salted it again several times, day after day,
and left it to get drier and harder. Meanwhile they cleaned some wooden barrels very well with
boiling hot water to keep it in. This is called jerky meat. It can be softened up with boiling water and
made into a nice, rich cream sauce and eaten over hot biscuits or toast or hot cornbread. This is a very
tasty dish, especially if you add a little green pepper and onion to the white sauce or when you are
warming up the meat in melted butter. It became one of our favorite dishes on the ranch or in the
valley. Of course, one had to have a very sharp knife to shave off the dry, hard jerky meat after it was
thoroughly cured. But it helped out our meat problems. We didn’t have a meat market. The only meat
we ate was what we killed. And then we had no freezer, so whatever we didn’t eat and didn’t cure
with salt would spoil.
We all went to bed very tired after such an exciting day but with grateful hearts that the lives of our
loved ones had been spared. Of course, I was a little tingly remembering about Apache Kid and his
rampages. I didn’t blame my mother anymore but understood better why she got nervous sometimes
alone up on the mountain.
The Bear and the Rooster
The long, golden days and the cool, cool nites of summer can’t last forever. One morning I awoke
very early to much racket and commotion around the cabin. “What’s going on, Mama?” I asked
sleepily. I saw two of my brothers carrying out the cheeses and loading them in the wagon box.
Another was fixing up the chicken coop and putting in the protesting roosters and hens. Mother was
packing our clothes. I knew by all these signs that the days on the ranch for this summer were almost
over. I ran to the spring for a cool, refreshing drink, and then came in to a hearty breakfast of sausages
and hotcakes and syrup. Afterwards I helped carry this and that to the wagon and in a way began to
enjoy the packing and the excitement of leaving.
It was some time before we got everything either packed in the wagon or stored safely in the cabin for
the winter. When we finally climbed in the wagon, and Carl gave the command and cracked the whip,
and the horses started to plod down the red road and across the bridge, I looked back, and there in the
dooryard of the lower cabin were all my little Mexican companions of the summer. They were sleepy-eyed and tousled but were throwing kisses vigorously and waving their hands and calling, “Adiós,
adiós, amigita querida.” I waved back to them and threw them some kisses too, and finally all I could
see was the tall, pointed Needle Rock, the tops of the pointed pines around the cabin, and the trail of
dust raised by the horses’ hoofs as they trotted down the road. Tige and Snap strolled happily after the
wagon, dashing here and there to frighten a chipmunk up a tree or send a prairie dog scrambling into
its hole in the ground. I cried a little bit because I loved the ranch so much and I knew it would be a
long time before I could come again. I had little Star on my lap, and he kept jumping up and licking
my face with his warm little tongue as if to say, “Don’t cry, friend. I’ll play all winter with you and
keep you happy.” So very soon I was playing get’n-get’n-get’n with him, as he bounced around trying
to keep out of my way and not get tagged.The first nite we camped not too far from the sawmill, but
we did not stay with the families there. Instead we made camp in a beautiful green mountain meadow.
Carl made my bed on a thick canvas that he laid on the ground beside the wagon tongue. Mother’s
bed was on the other side. Just before we settled down for the nite, Carl fed the chickens. One old
rooster got rebellious, and before we could think, he slipped out of his coop and fluttered away. We
couldn’t catch him because he flew up on a nearby limb of a tree, and there he sat and made a very
defiant challenge with his rooster voice. “Don’t try to catch me. I’m free. I’m free, and I’m going to
stay free.” Well, we couldn’t do anything about it, so Carl latched the coop, and we all crawled into
bed. I lay there with little Star a long time looking up through the canyon walls at the stars, which
were many and so thick that they all ran together in one place and made a white trail across the sky. I
said, “Mother, why is there a white pathway across the skies?”
She said, “That is where the stars are thickest. We call it the Milky Way.” It really did look like
someone had been milking and had spilled some on the sky. I lay very quiet and listened with my ears
to the lovely sounds of the nite. The whippoorwills were singing, also the mocking birds, and the
crickets chirped lazily and sleepily, as if they were calling goodby to summer. It was very restful
and very soothing, and although my bed was on the hard earth, yet before very long I had gone
sound asleep, and so had little Star and Mother and the boys.
Next morning after we woke up, I saw Carl coming toward my bed with something in his hand.
He brought it over to me and held it close so I could see it. It was a flower blooming on a long,
slender, green stem. Its color was partly reddish orange and partly pale, creamy yellow. It had
five beautiful petals that opened like a bell, and extending from the petals were five cunning little
spurs, like five little horns of plenty. Many yellow stamens and a long, yellow-tipped pistil
extended from the center of the flower. The base of the petals were shaded pale earth-green. I
said, “O! what is it, and where did you find it?” I took it in my hands and examined it tenderly. I
thought that I had never seen anything quite so lovely nor such a happy flower ever before. To
me it looked like a little clown flower with all those horns of plenty coming from its petals. Carl
said it was a columbine, that he had found it in the meadow just on the other side of the
mountain, that they bloomed in the high meadows and were of many colors. He said he had seen
hundreds of them blooming together in some places where he had ridden hunting cattle, that
some of them were red and orange, some were blue with white, and that once in a while he found
a very rare kind that was purest white all over.
We started to hear a clucking noise, and when we looked over, we saw that the old rooster had
flown down from the tree limb and was walking back and forth in front of the hens in the coop.
He seemed to be grumbling and pleading to be let back in, as though he had been very frightened.
Carl began looking around on the ground, and pretty soon he stooped by some tracks near the
crossbar of the wagon. “Oh-oh!” he said. “I see what has happened.” And maybe you won’t
believe this, but there, all around on the ground, were the tracks of a rooster, and there beside
them and around the camp were the tracks of the big paws of a bear.
This is the story that the tracks told Carl. During the nite, the bear had come seeking some food.
He tried to catch the rooster, but the rooster was so light and could fly here and there so fast that
the bear had not been able to get him, and finally he flew up on the wagon’s crossbar to keep out
of the way. The bear had looked all around and investigated the camp very thoroughly and very
curiously, and had actually stepped right over me while I was sleeping, several times. Now why
he didn’t choose me for his supper, I do not know, except that his nose finally led him to the grub
box. With his huge paw and nose he was able to work it open and took what he wanted, a side of
bacon, a loaf of bread, and a jar of honey. I suppose he decided that that was enough of a tasty
morsel for one nite’s grub, and that bacon and bread and honey were better than a girl to eat and
easier than to jump around and catch a rooster. Anyway, it was a thrill to know that we had had a
visit from a bear during the nite. We didn’t begrudge the bacon, bread, nor honey that he stole,
and the old rooster was so anxious to get behind the bars of the chicken coop that he allowed
himself to be picked up and tossed inside without a shudder or peep.
So we headed home and arrived after two more days’ travel. And while I missed the ranch, it is
always good to come back to a lovely home and your own room after you have been away for a
A-Nutting We Will Go
Of course, the first thing one does when one gets home again is find and greet one’s friends
whom one hasn’t seen for such a long time. So Star and I started out right after breakfast, and he
seemed as glad as I did to be calling at the different houses. He showed it by jumping all around
in circles, chasing his tail, and barking glad, little barks.
We learned that all the boys and girls of the village were planning an overnite journey to the
nearby canyon in a few more days. The walnuts were now ripe and falling from the trees that
grew so plentifully all about. These were black walnuts with very hard shells, but when placed on
a rock and hit with another rock or a good, heavy hammer, they could be broken into smaller
pieces. Then with patience the juicy, sweet meat of the walnut could be picked out and stored in
a glass jar and used in cakes and frostings and candy during the winter months. The young men
friends came to our house and asked Mother if she would go with us so the other mothers
wouldn’t have to worry. She said she would love to go.
Finally, one golden autumn day, the time had come to go “a-walnutting,” and the young men
began to get the hay cart and saddle horses ready. One of my boy friends asked me, “Which way
would you rather ride on the picnic, on the hayrack or on a horse?” It didn’t take me long to
decide, because I would rather ride on a horse anytime than to do most anything else in the
To make the hayrack ready, the boy friends piled some nice, fresh straw all over the big, wide
wagon. It was open all around, so they stretched a rope tight around it, so those riding could hold
on and not slide off when the horses went over a bump or trotted very fast. Next they tied a
canvas cover over the straw to hold it in place, so it wouldn’t slip off on the way. Then they went
all around to the different homes and gathered up the food that each girl had prepared for the trip.
Finally everything was ready, and the girls and boys began to arrive in at our house. They dressed
mostly in cowboy suits, the girls in Levi’s and bright shirts with gay-colored kerchiefs around
their necks, and some wore hats so they wouldn’t get their noses freckled in the hot sunshine.
The boys wore high heel boots and Levi’s and bright-colored shirts, and most of them had a high
felt hat with a wide brim turned up on the sides like real cowboys wear. Orson, the boy who was
my partner, looked very handsome in a pair of chaps. My brothers and the vaqueros wore these
on the ranch. They are just like leather pants that come up over the legs but have the seat cut out
entirely. They hang from the belt, which is buckled very securely in front, and the chaps stay in
place very well. They protect the legs of a horseman from the thorns of the mesquite and
chaparral that grow so thickly all over the prairie land. They are usually trimmed with a large
leather flap on each side, and on the flap are more silver buckles that glisten as he walks or rides.
I wore some good high boots, a very bright red shirt, and a yellow neckerchief around my neck to
keep the dust out of my throat. Just as I was leaving, my brother Leon brought me his big, wide-rimmed Stetson hat, which was his pride and joy, and said to me, “Here, Sis, you may wear my
Stetson if you like.” It had a braided horse-hair band around it with a tassel on it, and I was as
proud as a peacock to wear it and knew that my brother must love me very much to let me take it.
Of course I thanked him very much. The boys and girls who had gathered laughed and joked a
good deal before climbing on the hayrack. Just then, my partner came riding into the yard. The
right side of his face and arm were all skinned, and Mother said, “What happened to you,
He said, “Well, when I roped the horse out on the prairie yesterday, she had not been ridden for
so long that she had gotten a bit wild. So when I got on her to ride her home, she threw me and I
fell on my face.” This was the horse I was to ride on the picnic. Mother objected very much to
me getting on that horse. Orson said, “Oh, she’ll be alright. I rode her hard all day yesterday and
she has calmed down.”
Mother wasn’t convinced, so I said, “Mother, don’t you know that my brothers have taught me
how to handle horses? I’m not afraid. It is just the kind of a horse I would love to ride, so very
lively and fresh.” So after some coaxing on my part, she gave her permission. I swung right up
into the saddle. The horse leaped and jumped a few times, but I gently guided her and spoke soft
words to her and petted her neck and back, and soon she quieted down, and I was able to guide
her anywhere and at any speed I wished. What a happy thing it was to be riding off toward the
canyons, everybody laughing and singing, the empty walnut sacks piled high reminding us that
there would be much happy fun on winter nites when we would get together and have candy pulls
and game playing.
Off we rode, some of us in the wagon, Orson and I and some of the others in our saddles. After a
while we came to a big, open valley. Over this valley every once in a while grew great clumps of
tough, long-stemmed grass called sacaton, about two feet high and three feet around. Now,
whenever we came to grass like this, we who rode horses had a very fun game. We would get
back a long way from the clump of grass. Then we would get our horses running and would make
them leap over. Of course it was dangerous, because the horse might tumble, or he might get his
leg caught in a gopher hole and trip. But when we were young we liked dangerous things to do,
and so we played sacaton until we knew that we had tired our horses. Then we rode along slowly
for a while to let them rest.
After a while we saw off to one side of us a herd of Texas longhorn cattle. They are called Texas
longhorns because their horns are about five feet from tip to tip and very big around. I said,
“Let’s get the herd running by chasing them.” The others were willing, so we galloped our horses
towards the herd, waving our hats and yelling, “Yi-pi-yi-pi.” This startled the cattle, who began
running away from us, and we thought it was great fun to chase them. But a very unexpected and
dangerous thing happened. One of the great bulls decided that perhaps he would have some fun
too, and that it was his turn, so he twisted around and started to chase us with his horns down.
Now if he had caught up with us, he would not have stopped at less than goring our horses with
his horns. Some of the other bulls became angry and began to chase us too. So, very frightened
by this turn of events, we wheeled around, galloping our horses as fast as we could away from
them. Luckily for us, they soon became discouraged in the chase, and we were able to gallop up
near the hayrack and the rest of the boys and girls, thankful that our own foolishness had not
caused a bad accident. Texas longhorns are best just let alone to eat grass and watch you pass
When evening shadows were lengthening under the pines, we came near to a cool spring of
water, and the boys who were driving the teams said, “This is a good place to make camp.” We
were all very glad, because we had ridden far and very hard. We climbed off our horses and
found that our legs were stiff, but after we had walked over to the spring and laid down on our
stomachs and got a long, cool drink, we felt very good. One of the boys said, “Let’s hurry and eat
our supper and go for a hike up to the top of those cliffs.” We were all anxious to see the pretty
sight from the top. So we ate our supper of baked beans and cold sliced ham and banana nut
bread. Then, with a whoop and a holler, we ran one after the other, racing to where the trail
started up and around back of the cliffs.
We found that the trail crossed the creek, so the boys threw some big rocks into the stream so we
could cross without getting our feet wet. It was really very hard not to slip off of the rocks,
because some of them had moss growing on them, and green moss growing on wet stones makes
them very slick. Several of us fell into the creek and got our feet and legs wet up to our knees. Of
course we knew that as we walked along we would get dry again and not catch cold, so if we fell
we just laughed and squeaked a little bit, because it was so much fun to get a cool bath after such
a hot, long ride. We had to pull ourselves up over big, steep rocks many times to keep on the
trail. Soon we arrived at the top of the cliffs and looked down on the winding river that flowed
through the beautiful, pine-tree valley.
Some of us were very brave, and we could walk without being afraid right up close to the edge of
the cliff and look straight down, down into the camp below. Of course we had to be very careful
not to fall, but it was fun to watch those that had stayed behind at the camp, and they looked
about as big as ants. Some of the girls were scarecrows and would not go near the edge and look
down. This made the boys laugh and make fun of them, and I also felt sorry for those who missed
so much fun because they were frightened. After a while it began to grow late, so we started
down the trail so that we could get back to camp before dark. Some of us slipped on the slippery
rocks and into the stream again, but this time we knew that we could get dry by the campfire, so
we just went running across the rocks whether we slipped or not. When we got back, some of the
boys who had gone out hunting came walking into camp carrying a deer between them. They
said, “Now tomorrow nite we can have a real feast.” They skinned the deer and hung it up on the
limb of a tree, and we all went to bed after we had sung a few good old lively songs together
around the campfire.
Next day we remembered what we had come for, so two and two went together with a big sack,
and each pair picked up walnuts as fast as they could and put them in their bag. All the day we
worked, filling many twenty-five-pound bags of walnuts. When evening came we were very
hungry, so the boys said, “Now we will prepare something special for all of you.” We had not
brought frying pans nor Dutch ovens, but they wanted to serve us some deer meat anyway. So
they sliced some deer steaks very thin and used their pocket knives to sharpen some long, strong
sticks on one end. They also placed bacon and onion slices on these same sticks to make kabobs.
Then they stuck the sticks through the steaks and pushed the other ends into the dirt very securely
so that the ends with the meat could lean over the hot, red coals of the fire. There they left them
for a long time, and the deer meat began to sizzle and cook, and the red juice dripped down into
the coals. My, how good it smelled as it broiled there over the fire.
Some of the girls were very finicky and turned up their noses and said, “We won’t eat meat
cooked like that.” And I must admit that I was a little wary myself. The boys said, “Why? Those
are charcoal-broiled venison steaks. You would pay much money in a restaurant for such fine
servings of meat.” Mother called me over to her side and whispered to me, “Gladys, don’t you
dare make a fuss over that nice meat that the boys have prepared for you. You eat it and enjoy it
if it kills you. You must learn to eat and enjoy many things in life, and when anyone makes
something very rare and different but very good, try to learn to like it.” So I took the stick with
my kabob on it and sprinkled salt and pepper over it and got some bread and butter to go with it.
After the first bite I smacked my lips and just kept eating the rest of it while it was nice and hot,
and when I was through I asked for another. This pleased the boys, and I was proud of myself
because I did what my mother told me and didn’t turn down a very tasty supper just because I
imagined it wouldn’t taste good.
The next day our walnutting picnic came to an end. We had to go home and get our clothes and
everything ready for school, because this was Friday, and Monday morning the old school bell
would ring, and we would all have to go to our classes and learn our lessons once more.
It was late at nite before we got down to the last lap of our journey–but the fun was not over yet.
Our riding ponies had been going easy for a long time and were good and fresh and very lively.
So when two riders would come close together, one or the other of us would point to a certain
spot down the road and say, “I’ll race you to that bush,” or “I’ll race you to that rock,” and then
start to make his horse run. Then the other horse would start to run, and the two of us would have
a long race down to the spot we had decided upon. As we raced, the boys and girls on the hayrack
would cheer for the one of us that they wanted to win. Sometimes one would win and sometimes
the other one. But it was great fun racing our horses, because the moon was bright as day, and we
could see where we were going. The dust from our horses’ hoofs made a wide trail of silver in
the road. I am an old woman now, but when I think back on these happy times of my youthful
days, I think they were my golden years. I have always been glad that my father, Helaman Pratt,
and my mother, Emaline Victoria Billingsley Pratt, and Aunt Dora Wilcken Pratt obeyed the
words of the prophet and brought us to that far-off land. And I have always been glad they
bought and pioneered Cliff Ranch, and that they kept it, even when they moved to the valley, for
our treasured summer home.
- END -