|Interview with Frieda Gabert Schritter (FS)
Conducted by Betty & Chris Maier (BM & CM)
Transcription by Joy Hass Stefan
BM: Today is April 17, 2000. I am Betty Maier, a volunteer interviewer with the Germans from Russia Heritage Collection of North Dakota State University Libraries in Fargo. Chris Maier is here and he is running the tape recorder. It is also a pleasure to have with us Frieda Gabert Schritter. We are in Glendale, Arizona, at her home. We're going to start the interview. Frieda has a lot to say, so we'd better get started here. First of all, what's your name, and give me your birth date and where you were born.
FS: Frieda Gabert Schritter. My maiden name was Gabert, G-A-B-E-R-T. I was born in the Krim [Crimea.] I'm not too sure of the town, but it was in the Borodino area, because I used to hear my mother talking about Borodino and I think that's where it was. I was baptized in a little place called Ungut. U-N-G-U-T.
BM: And that's in Russia.
FS: In Russia, yes. My dad didn't like what was happening in Russia at the time. It was the beginning of the Bolshevik era, and he didn't like what was happening. He said he felt uneasy about it so he decided to come to America.
BM: What year was this?
FS: In 1910. I was born, by the way, the 14th of October, 1909, and I was just a year old when we left there.
BM: Tell me a little bit about your parents, about your dad - what was his name?
FS: David Gabert.
FS: Gabert in English; Gabert in German. [short a in English vs. "ah" pronunciation of the letter a in German] He was born in Rosenfeld near Paris in the Bessarabian area, which was at that time under Russian rule, but is now Romania.
BM: When was he born?
FS: On the 28th of December, 1881. And my mother's maiden name was Emelia Schweigert, and she was born in the Borodino area in the Krim, and she was born in 1888. She always called it the Pretzel Year. [laughter] She grew up as a young girl, and her father farmed, I guess, and she used to go out and work on the farm and stuff. She had three sisters and a brother.
After my parents had married and came to the United States, my Grandfather Schweigert decided to come too. So he gathered up his little family and they came to the United States. My parents came by way of the Canadian Steamship Company. We came down the St. Lawrence River and landed at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, I think it is. From there we went by train to North Dakota. I am not familiar with why they went to North Dakota or whether anybody influenced them that way, but that's where they landed. My father worked for wages for awhile, then for two years he farmed. But each year his crops hailed out. They had a hail storm and he lost the crops. So they didn't have much income. Dad finally said, "This is enough of North Dakota. I'm going to Idaho." [laughter]
Idaho was opening up for homestead rights, and you could get, I think it was 160 acres, but I'm not sure; it was a certain acreage you could pick up. He homesteaded. We came to American Falls, Idaho. We came by train from somewhere in Dakota, wherever we lived. The town I don't remember. But there were three farmers that were all going there, my father and two other men. And they took what few farm possessions they could. My father had three horses and a few pieces of machinery and a few pieces of furniture. The other men also had some horses and machinery and whatever; they rented a boxcar, loaded all their possessions in, and left for American Falls, Idaho.
My mother's oldest sister, my Aunt Carolina Miller, who was married to John Miller, who were also German people, were already there. So my mother and I and the other ladies, we came by train, by passenger train. We met them in the Falls, and my mother and I stayed with her sister for a few days while Dad went looking for a homestead.
He wound up in the Minidoka, Idaho, area. Now Minidoka is a little, was at that time, just a little post office north of Twin Falls, Idaho. In order to prove up on his homestead, they had to build a shelter, a house of some kind, a shack. So my folks found a gentleman who was a bachelor, and he lived in that vicinity where Dad's homestead was, and he and my dad built a little one-room shack for us. Then we moved into it.
My mother, at the time, was pregnant with her third child. While we were in Dakota, my mother had a baby girl who died at the age of one year. This was her third child then. The night that my mother went into labor, my dad went to get a midwife, and while he was gone, she had the baby by herself. So she named him Gotthilf. She said, "Mit Gottes hilf [with God's help] I had my baby."
We stayed there for awhile, and Dad didn't like the country. It was rocky and he didn't like the area, so he found a man who had a homestead west of Aberdeen, Idaho, about 14 miles. That guy didn't like that area, so he and Dad traded homesteads. So we bundled up our few things...we had a few pieces of furniture; Dad had his three horses and a colt...loaded them on a wagon, and we started for Aberdeen, Idaho, for the Flat Top area. Flat Top was a big hill that was just west of our place. And the area there was called the Flat Top area.
So it took us about two days to travel. We went across what is now Craters of the Moon, and my dad had explored out a trail, and we went across the Craters of the Moon. Well, we spent the first night out camping and our furniture was all piled on a wagon, and mattresses on top of that, and we sat on it. In the night my mother was sleeping and suddenly something touched her in the face. She thought it was a bear or something, and it turned out it was one of our horses we had tied to the wagon wheel. The horse put her face in Mama's face and scared her. [laughter] So, anyway, we got to the new homestead and the house was built. It was a little two-room shack. I'll show it to you. [Frieda gets a picture.]
BM: Who painted this?
FS: Emil Meu. I have a cousin whose name is Emil Meu. He's married to my cousin, I mean.
BM: How do you spell that?
FS: M-E-U. He was an artist. One day we were visiting together; he was a homesteader too. His parents had homesteaded. They were German Lutherans. He said, "Do you have a picture of your old homestead?" And I said, "No. All I've got is a picture of the barn." So he said, "Can you tell me what it looked like?" So, as I was telling him, he sketched it and he painted this from memory. There was our little house that had two rooms, and Dad had built a big barn to put his horses and things in. That was his blacksmith; this was the chicken house and the pig pen.
BM: He even got the hay in there.
BM: And a cellar?
FS: Yes, that was the cellar. And these were just dry hills. It was dry farm. We were way, way out. We were 14 miles from the nearest town. We didn't have a well; we didn't have electricity. We dug a cistern and hauled all the water that we used for our livestock and us; we'd haul with a tank from neighbors that had a well.
BM: Until you got a well. That's not a well? What is that?
FS: No, that's not a well. It's some little building there, I think, whatever it is; I don't know just what he put in there. No, we never had a well. Oh, that was the cistern.
BM: Oh, yes.
FS: It was covered up. That's what that was. No, we hauled our water at least three miles. Sometimes we'd haul it from the Siegfrieds and they were two and a half or three miles, and then we hauled it from the Gastonbietels, who were French people. They were Basques and had a sheep ranch; they had a well. We'd haul it with a big tank on a wagon; everything that we used for washing, for our animals, for us and everything.
BM: No trees on there, is there?
FS: Oh, it was dry! The only moisture we ever got was from rain or something.
BM: Oh, I've got to find out what year this was.
FS: Okay, that was...I'm trying to figure out. I was born in 1909. Hilda was born in 1911 or '10 or something. She was a year and a half younger than I am. I think it was 1913 when we moved to Minidoka. Then it was the biggest part of a year later, so this must have been about 1914 or so when we moved to our homestead on the dry farm.
BM: Now, did your family stay there then?
FS: We lived there for seven years and farmed. Then we had a real dry...in 1919 it was real, real dry. We never got any rain and the rabbits...we had Jackrabbits by the billions. They ate up everything. Dad did everything...we shot them, we poisoned them, and he even wove and wire fenced his place. I don't know how many acres he had in grain, maybe 100 or whatever, and we harvested 39 bushels of grain. Here he was with four kids and no income, so he finally got a job with his horses and a scraper and helped build a canal down near Aberdeen. Mama stayed on the farm and took care of the animals and us, and he went down there to work. Then in 1919, in the fall, he bought an irrigated place. Somehow he borrowed money or whatever and he bought a 40-acre irrigated farm two miles out of Aberdeen, and we moved to there in December; the 17th of December, in the winter. The snow was deep; we had sleds. So they loaded the furniture on the sled and what little stuff we had, and animals. The cows walked, I guess, and horses; and we moved to this little place on this 40 acres and started living there.
BM: What did you raise there, do you remember? Small grains?
FS: Oh, after we got to the irrigated farm, we raised everything. We had mostly potatoes, and hay and grain, and later on...my dad didn't like to raise beets, so he didn't farm beets, but our primary crop was potatoes.
BM: How did you irrigate?
FS: With water from canals.
BM: From a canal.
FS: We had a big canal and, of course, they'd branch it off with laterals.
BM: How long did you live there, then?
FS: Until they died. We lived on that well, later on, Dad bought more ground. He first started with 40 acres and then some ground across the road from where our place was came up for sale. So he bought 80 acres there. So we had 120. Then he'd rent some in addition yet, if he needed it. See, my father had five boys; six boys, actually. One died when he was 14, and the others grew up. I was the oldest in the family. I used to work like a boy out in the field. When I was in my early teens I used to go out and plow and harrow and do all that stuff. I milked cows starting when I was 11.
BM: Did you use horses then?
FS: Um hum. I drove horses. I drove three or four head, whatever machine I was running.
BM: Your parents died when you were in Aberdeen, and your dad died in February?
FS: February, the 22nd of February, 1940. My mother died three years later in January 1943.
BM: And where are they buried?
FS: In Aberdeen, Aberdeen cemetery.
BM: Not in the church cemetery.
FS: In the city cemetery. Our church didn't have a special one. The Mennonites did. The Mennonites had the Mennonite cemetery which was west of Aberdeen, but the rest of us used the city cemetery.
BM: Now you had six brothers, and you had how many sisters?
FS: There were three girls. I was the oldest. The girl next to me was Hilda. She was born in Dakota, shortly after we got there. When we got there Mama was pregnant with her. They got there about November and she was born the 14th of April. Then she was a year old when she died.
BM: Then the next one is...
FS: Then I had a brother, Gotthilf, and he died when he was 14. Then I had another sister who was born in 1915, Edna. The next one was my brother Edward; then Herbert, and Alvin, and Paul, and Eugene. There were nine of us.
BM: Wow, that was quite a brood.
FS: Plus one miscarriage. Mama always said she had two families. She had five of us, then she had a miscarriage, then she had four more.
BM: I know there was something that came to my mind... this is regressing. Your parents were married then in Russia. Do you know where?
FS: It was wherever my mother's home was. I don't know their address or anything like that, but she never ventured far from home. It was in the town that they lived in, Borodino, or wherever it was.
BM: Do you know if it was in a church?
FS: Must have been. As far as I know, they were probably married in the church.
BM: And they were Lutherans.
FS: They were Lutheran; stayed Lutheran all their lives.
BM: Did they talk about where they came from?
FS: Oh, once in awhile. They didn't really talk a whole lot, sometimes about their childhood days. It was a hard life, you know. They always had to work so hard and everything. My dad's dad died when Dad was a fairly young man, and my dad used to go out and work and help support his mother and the younger siblings. I don't know whether he had two brothers or three. I used to know, but I've forgotten. And he had, I think, three or four sisters.
BM: It was a large family.
FS: It was a large family, yah.
BM: Did he ever make any reference to when the family came from Germany to Russia?
FS: Never. I never knew anything about whether he knew it or what. If he did, I have forgotten. When my folks came over, they never bragged on Russia, they never wanted to go back to Russia like a lot of people say, "I'm going back, I'm going back, I'm..." They came to be Americans, and they were Americans. My dad became a citizen. Of course he put in two years in Dakota, and I don't know whether he tried then. You had to live in the states, I think for five years, and then you could apply for citizenship. And they had to learn the language. They didn't know English. They didn't know nothing about the English language. I remember my dad sitting by a coal oil lamp evenings, studying a German-American dictionary, learning to talk and learning the language. I've got his citizenship papers too, I guess. They're here somewhere.
BM: So, you spoke German then in the home.
FS: And German at church, and German in the home.
BM: Even when you went to Idaho.
FS: Oh, yah! In Idaho we had a Lutheran church, Lutheran German services up until 1940 or something like that, we had German services yet.
BM: Do you know what dialect?
FS: Just... it's not quite the real cut and dried German, where they say Heim and all of that. We didn't put the "en" on the end, we'd put "a" on. Ich geh jetzt Heim, see.
BM: Did you ever know any prayers or...
FS: Oh, yes, my mother taught us.
BM: Can you say them yet?
FS: Abba lieber Vater, that's the first prayer I learned. Then, of course, when I started Sunday School we used to learn German verses and read out of the Bible and things like that. And Vaterunser; I know I learned the Lord's Prayer in German. I can still say part of it.
BM: Can you say part of it for me?
FS: I don't know whether I remember it all in German or not
Vaterunser, du bist im Himmel,
Geheiligt werde dein Name.
Dein Reich komme.
Dein Wille geschehe im Himmel so auch auf Erden
Führe uns nicht in [Versuchung,
sondern erlöse uns von dem Bösen.]
Und dein ist das Reich
And there I'm stuck; it's at the ending of it.
BM: Did you teach your children German?
FS: No, they wouldn't learn. My two youngest brothers didn't learn German either. They absolutely refused. They were growing up in the war years, in the Second World War years, and all the older ones of us, we all learned German, spoke German. But the youngest two or three, Paul and Gene, I guess they were the ones, they would not learn. If they picked up any, they never spoke it. My mother would speak German to them and they would answer her in English.
BM: So they understood it.
FS: Whatever they did.
BM: Now you said that you worked out on the farm. Did you also have to help with housework?
FS: Oh, yes!
BM: Since you were the oldest one, I'm sure you had responsibilities...
FS: With the children. Oh, yah. My mother taught me everything. I learned to keep house, I learned to bake bread, and I learned to do washing and ironing, and we washed on the board! For years we didn't have electricity - until 1930. We lived close...it was about a mile to the electric line, and my dad was trying to get electric. We lived right off of where the highway went north, or east and west, and then we lived north of there about ¾ of a mile. There was a farmer here and a farmer there, and a couple of farmers here. Let's see, my dad lived here, and another farmer there and another farmer over there, and they wanted to get the electric company to put a line out. They wanted over $1,000 just to put that line in; $1,000 those days was money! So they could not afford it. So we still went on. Then my dad got a carbide outfit, and that cost about $400, I think. You had to dig a hole, then you'd make a cistern, a ditch; you'd put water in it, and then you bought the carbide in tanks, in containers, and you put them in a tank and it would mix with the water and make gas. Then they had to put pipes in the house. We had gotten a different house by that time and everything. And we put pipes in the house and the gas would come through the pipes. Then we had lights just like electric lights. We could even iron with it. We even had a two-burner stove with the carbide gas.
BM: That would be nice for cooking.
FS: No, that was in the '20s; that was in 1926 when he got that. The first 40 we had, it had a little house on it. There was just three rooms. Then as the family grew and they needed a bigger house, Dad bought this 80, and then he bought a house...the early homesteaders out west of Aberdeen and American Falls, during the '20s and in there, we had droughts and things, and the rabbits were so bad. You wouldn't even realize how thick they were. The farmers would lose their ranches, and they moved away. They just couldn't make the payments, so they'd up and move away. Some of them had borrowed money to farm, couldn't make their payments, the loan company took over and so some of them had built nice homes and everything. Well, they moved away. So this house came up for sale. It was built by some people named Fischer. It had four rooms downstairs and a big open upstairs. So my dad bought it. He paid around $1,500. It was cheap in our estimation now, but at that time it was a good price for it, and moved it. He moved it from the Pleasant Valley area to our farm which was in the vicinity of probably 35 to 40 miles. Then he put it down and made a basement, then they put the house in, then he remodeled it and that's what we lived in later. He did that in '25 and '26. Then we lived in the big house. That's where we put the carbide in. Then in 1930, by that time I was married and I was living in Kansas at the time. Then they got electricity, in the winter of 1930. That company finally got cheaper or something, and they brought the electric line in and we had electricity.
BM: Let's stay in Idaho and I want to find out, how did you get your education?
FS: I started school on the homestead in a one-room schoolhouse that had eight grades in it and one teacher. There was a mile square. My dad's farm was here. The land was all over this way, but the roads went that way, and my dad's homestead was there. Then on this corner there wasn't anybody. Then over here was the schoolhouse and over here was Schultz's. They were Germans from Russia too. So I had to walk. The school was here. If I walked by the road it was two miles. If I cut across the sagebrush, it was about a mile and a half. So I walked to school through the sagebrush. There was coyotes and bobcats and whatever. So I got a little bit late start. I didn't get started until I was almost eight. Farmers were afraid to let me go walking alone in the desert like that, by myself, and Dad didn't have time always to come and take me. He wanted one time to get me a saddle horse so I could ride. But he never could find a horse that was gentle enough for me, a little kid, to ride. So I walked.
BM: Eventually the rest of your brothers and sisters started going to school then?
FS: Not there. I was the only one that was going there. Like I say, I started...it was about during the time of the First World War. It must have been about '17 or '18 when I started to school there, because I was born in 1909, so you can figure it out. I couldn't speak a word of English when I started to school, and I had an English-German teacher. Somehow or other, she helped me translate and I got started.
BM: Do you remember her name?
FS: No. I'm sad to say I don't. I think her first name was Olga, or Otilla or something. She got sick or something and she left. Then a lady by the name of Katherine Nelson came to teach us.
BM: How many children in the school?
FS: I was trying to figure the other day. I think there must have been about 14 or 15. Just roughly speaking, there was the Baer family, and I think they had three; there was two Schultz girls; myself; the Neubauers had four; and there was the Dalton family, they had several; there was the Siegfried family, they had two or three boys that went to school there; and there were two Bredell families, and they each had two boys, so there was four there...
BM: You're closer to 20 now.
FS: But some of them, you know, when they'd get about to the eighth grade or so they'd drop out, but that was the basics that I started with.
BM: How long did you go to school in the school year?
FS: The full time; started in September and quit in May. Then, like I say, my dad, when we left the dry farm in 1919, I was in second grade, Second Reader. They went by...they had the Primer Reader, then they had a First Reader, and then a Second Reader. About the only thing I learned in school...I learned to read and write, and very little arithmetic, because the teacher was too busy with all them kids. But I used to sit and listen to the other kids, and what they were learning. I remember that one time the teacher was trying to get them to learn to read Hiawatha, the story of Hiawatha. I think it was either the fourth or the fifth grade. She was trying to get them to read it right, and they read it over and over. I pretty near memorized it by the time they got it read. [laughter] I used to sit and listen, and I used to color a lot. My dad always got me Crayons. I loved to color. I'd draw pictures and color and do things.
So anyway, when we finally left over there, when you couldn't live out there anymore because you couldn't raise any crops, and we moved to Aberdeen the 17th of December, and I started school a few days after we moved there. I was in the second grade and we went in to the town school. They had a big school there; had all the grades from first through high school. I'd gone just a few days and the teacher said, "Go to the board and put the 2 times tables on." I didn't even know what they were. I'd never had them. I'd had a little 1+1 is 2 and 2+2 is 4, and stuff like that, but I never had real arithmetic. And I stood there. I didn't know what these kids were writing, and here I was standing there. Finally the teacher came and said, "Why aren't you writing?" I said, "I don't know what these are. I've never had this." So then she started tutoring me and teaching me, and by the time I finished the school year, I knew them. Then the next year, in my third grade year, we had to know the times tables through the 11's and 12's, whatever it was, and from then on I never had any problems. I always made good grades...just bragging a little bit. I did, I was a good student.
BM: So, after you finished school...did you go all through high school?
FS: Eleventh grade.
BM: But you didn't graduate.
FS: I didn't. No. You can thank my husband for that.
BM: Oh, you were married by then! [laughter] Who did you marry?
FS: Matthew Schritter.
BM: And you met him in...
FS: Well, he came to work for my dad when he was about 17 or 18. It was a funny thing. His cousin, Leontina, got married, and I was her bridesmaid. During the wedding...they had a home wedding, a nice big wedding at home and all the trimmings and everything. And they fixed a big dinner. The bridal party, the bride and groom and best man...the best man was the bride's brother. I was just her friend. Her name was Leontina Miller, or Leontina Schritter; she married a Miller. We stayed at the head table, and they served about three tables. They'd serve a bunch, then they'd wash the dishes and then another bunch. So we sat there all that time, while all these people ate. Then the last bunch was a few young people, and there was four young men who came in and sat at the very bottom end of the table. It was quite a long table. I didn't know who they were. I think maybe one of them was a Schritter boy; the Schritters had a large family. Not my husband's, but his uncle's.
While my dad was at the wedding...they were married, I think it was in June, the 26th. My dad, of course, needed help for haying and harvesting, and this was haying time. He met Matt when the men were talking outside, and he asked Matt if he needed a job, or if he'd like to come, that my dad needed help. So Matt was out of work at the time, so he came to work. He came to our place and stayed. He worked from June through October, helped with the harvest, and just stayed there.
Then his folks, who were at that time living in Jerome, Idaho, they decided to move to Oklahoma. His mother had an aunt in Oklahoma and his dad was not a very good farmer. His dad by trade in the old country was a carpenter. He was never much of a farmer. Her aunt kept telling her how much money they could make growing cotton and stuff, so they decided to go to Oklahoma. So they packed up their worldly goods in a car... five kids I think they had at that time, or six with Matt, and their few clothes and things, and left for Oklahoma. Well, they came by to pick Matt up at my folks' place, because his dad never could drive a car. And the other brothers were too young to drive, to take a long trip. They could drive a car around close, so they wanted Matt to drive them to Oklahoma. So that's what he did. He drove them to Oklahoma.
Then he stayed there a year or better, and finally my dad needed help again, and good help was kind of...my husband was a very responsible man. He worked good, a strong man, and he always did his job real well, and my dad liked him and all. He said, "Do you ever hear from Kellie?" That's Matt's sister. He said, "Do you ever hear from her? What's Matt doing? If he hasn't got a job or something, ask if he'll come back and work for me, because I can depend on that man." So I'd been writing to his sister and I asked her, and he was ready to come to Idaho. He wanted to come back to Idaho, so he came back and worked for my dad.
BM: Do you think there was a sort of Kuppelei there? Or was it just circumstances?
FS: I figure it was the circumstances. To me, he was just a young man that came to work. I wasn't...
BM: You weren't interested in him.
FS: No, not at that time. But anyway, he stayed on and he ate with us everyday, and he lived in the bunkhouse. My dad had a little bunkhouse where he stayed and slept. He ate with us and worked with us and everything, and finally we got to caring for each other. I was a junior in high school, and I had planned on finishing high school. Then my dad finally found out that Matt and I were getting friendly. [laughter] And he didn't want me to get married. I don't know what his idea was, but he always said, "Don't get married until you're 25." I was 19. So when he found out that we were getting interested in each other, he fired Matt, laid him off. Matt went to Twin Falls.
And my dad, I don't know how he did it, or what, had always in his mind he wanted me to be a nurse. I was no more nurse material than nothing, because if I bled or something, I would faint! [laughter] I remember my younger brother got bit by a dog one time, and he had a bite right in here. Dad wasn't much for going to doctors, and it was expensive too, so Dad took care of it himself. We only had coal oil lights at that time yet see, so he was dressing the baby's wound and of course the baby was crying. I was standing there holding the lamp so he could see in the evening. Finally the lamp started going this way [laughter]...Mom was there. "You better take the lamp," he said, and I fainted. [laughter]
BM: You had no control over that, did you?
FS: They took me out on the porch and revived me in the cool air. Anyway, so Dad got it into his head he wanted me to be a nurse. So he and our doctor, they both put their heads together; they never asked me or nothing, didn't discuss it with me or nothing. Finally, when I was still going to school...this was in February, I think, and I still was a junior until school let out. One day Dad said, "Well, Dr. McKinnon and I signed you in at St. Anthony's Hospital in Pocatello to start nurse's training." I didn't want to be a nurse. I can't be a nurse. "Well, they'll take you." This wasn't kosher, you know. Usually the nursing classes started in September, and this was May. But I wasn't going to fight him. My dad had his way and he did what he wanted to. He was a stubborn old Dutchman or German, whatever you call it. So I finished my junior year and then I went into nurse's training.
Matt lived in Jerome, Idaho. My dad had told me when Matt left here, he said, "Now, I don't want you to have any connection with him at all. I don't even want you writing letters." Well, we fooled him! So we wrote letters and stuff, and one time one of my brothers found one. I always hid my letters, but they found one of my letters and Dad hit the ceiling. He was so mad. But Matt and I corresponded all summer and I went to nurse's training; I started training after public school let out, I went to training the 25th of May. And I loved it. I just loved it after I got started and I could do good.
Then in the fall, Matt couldn't come. It's not too far, just 150 miles or so, but he was working a job on the ranch and you don't get away. You stay and work. I couldn't get away, so we wrote all the time. We kept in touch with each other. Then in November his job was over and he wasn't employed, so he wrote me and said, "I'm going to Oklahoma to visit my parents and I'm going to stop by to see you." So he came, and we got to talking about it. He wanted to get married. I said, "I don't want to get married yet. I like this nursing and I want to finish." Well, in those years, you had to be single, and it took three years of nursing to get your degree, your diploma. And he said, "I'm not going to wait for 2½ more years. Do you want to get married now? If I go, I'm not coming back." So what an ultimatum to face!
BM: What an ultimatum.
FS: So we got married.
BM: Did you run away? Did you elope?
FS: We did. We eloped. We went to the courthouse and got married on Saturday, and on Monday we left for Oklahoma. [laughter]
BM: And this was what date?
FS: The 23rd of November, 1929.
BM: You can't say life was dull, can you?
FS: And when my dad...when we got to Oklahoma...I felt sorry for my mother, because it hurt her and everything. And I guess it hurt Dad too, because I was his oldest daughter and he depended a lot on me and everything, and I shouldn't have done what I did, but I was just bullheaded enough to.
BM: I want to regress. If you disobeyed your parents when you were younger, how were you disciplined?
FS: Well, not too bad. I remember my dad spanking me twice in my life. It was my fault both times. [laughter]
BM: What was it for?
FS: I was about five or six and we lived out on the homestead. The winters used to be horrendous. We had drifts as high as the window, and all winter long you couldn't get out and play; nothing, because the snow was so deep. We played in the snow, but you can't always play in the snow. Well, in the spring of the year, or towards spring when the snow started melting, you know how it melts near the wall and you get a little dry area? Well, there was a dry area about four feet wide or so and the rest was drifts about two feet high yet. I wanted to go out and play in that dry area. I begged my mother and she wouldn't let me. She said, "No, if you go out you're going to get in the mud and you're going to get wet." I cried, "You won't let me go out and play." And I fussed like kids will. So finally she relented, and my dad was in the house; he had come in for something from his outdoor work. He said, "If you get in the mud, you're going to get spanked." Well, I went out and I played in the dry. Finally I wanted to see if the mud was froze or if it wasn't froze. I put my foot in it, and Dad was watching me from the window. And he came out, he banged me on one side of the head and made me go into the house.
Then the next time I was a teenager, I guess, in my early teens. My brother and I got up one Sunday morning on the wrong side of the bed or something. We quarreled all morning long and we were outside playing around and fighting and quarreling and yelling at each other. Dad hollered out and told us to shut up and be decent, and we didn't listen. He came out and he give us each a spanking.
BM: You didn't quarrel after that, I bet. So the boys and the girls were disciplined pretty much the same, then.
FS: Yes. And years later, after the boys got up, my dad used to get awful rough with them sometimes. His bad thing was he'd hit them in the head. He'd bang them on the side of the head. My mother used to get after him. She'd say, "Hit them on the butt if you want to hit them. But leave their head alone!"
BM: So when you got married, you moved to Oklahoma or Kansas?
FS: Oklahoma. His folks lived about 20 miles west of Clinton. Our address was Arapaho. We lived about 10 miles from Custer City and Arapaho, in that area.
BM: You had moved your family?
FS: Just for a few months' work. Then we came back to Idaho.
BM: And you lived where in Idaho?
FS: In Aberdeen. That was a funny thing, you know. His dad talked us into farming. When we got married we didn't have a job or anything, and we went down to stay with his folks and visit for awhile. Then we thought we'd get a job or whatever happened. Through living with them, his dad started talking and said, "Matt, why don't you get some ground and farm? I've got the horses and I've got machinery." He was farming. Matt said, "I haven't got any money, I haven't got any horses, I haven't got any machinery." He said, "You can use mine."
So we found a farm and rented that. It was a hundred and some acre farm, and went down and ran the horses. It was all dry farm. We planted cotton and corn and worked like dogs. That was the beginning of that dust storm era. We never got any rain. The last rain we had, our cotton was in the two-leaf stage, if you know what cotton does, and doing real good. The corn and everything looked just beautiful. It was June and we had a real steady rain one night. You know they plant cotton in the ditches, and it washed the ditches shut and covered the cotton, so we got hoes. One of his brothers was staying with us for awhile. He got in a fuss with his dad, so he stayed with us. And we got hoes and uncovered that cotton by hand so we could save it. That's the last rain we had of any consequence. We'd have a little sprinkle, but not enough to even wet the ground, until October. Consequently, we didn't get much of a crop. We were supposed to pay $175 rent for the place, for a year, and we didn't even make enough to pay that. We had a couple of bales of cotton. Our corn...you know, normally the corn will grow big, big around. Our ears were little and the kernels were like popcorn, like the old maids. So you can't make any money that way. So when everything was done, our crops were all harvested and everything, my husband went to the landowner and said, "I can't pay you any rent. I just paid everything I've gotten. We have no other money." And he said, "Well, you kids worked hard. I know what you did, and with what you've already..."
[End of side one]
FS: In September of that year, I believe it was August or September, my husband's dad's brother died in St. Francis, Kansas. And his dad wanted to go to the funeral. Like I say, his dad couldn't ever drive a car. But he had a car, and we didn't have a car. So he wanted Matt to drive my mother-in-law, his wife, and Matt and I to the funeral in St. Francis. Matt was a little bit leery of the brakes on the car. He said, "The brakes are not holding very good. You better have them fixed before we go." "Oh, no, they're alright. They work around here and they'll be alright." So we left for St. Francis one afternoon, and we drove all afternoon and all night, and we got to Goodland in the morning at about 4:00. I was watching the map and the roads, and tried to keep things going. We weren't speeding or anything, just driving normal, and we came to a corner...a sharp corner. It was kind of offset, a funny corner, and Matt put the brakes on and the brakes didn't hold. And we went through the barbed wire and wrecked the car in some people's backyard. They had changed the roads, but it wasn't on the map. There was a new road. Had we been on the new road, it wouldn't have happened to us. But this was the old highway, and we didn't know it. So anyway, there we sat. The people came running out; of course, we weren't badly hurt. We had some bumps and some scratches and some bruises. So these people took us in and made us feel comfortable and gave us coffee and whatever.
But here we were still, I think 50 miles, whatever Goodland is from St. Francis, from the funeral. And the funeral was that afternoon. So in order to get to the funeral we called Matt's cousin, Rudolph, who was farming in St. Francis. He lived in St. Francis. We asked him if he would come and pick us up. We told him we had a wreck and we had no car to get the rest of the way. So he came and picked us up. We left the car there and then that afternoon they had the funeral and stuff. On Monday they went and took the car to the garage to have it fixed. So, after they got the car fixed, it cost $125 or $150, and none of us had that much money. His dad had some money with him, so he paid some of it, but we went into debt for $100. Rudolph said, "I'll pay it if you and Jake (that was Matt's brother next to him) will come up here and shuck my corn for me." After his dad died, he had his dad's place and his own; he was a grown man, you know. So we said sure.
So we went back home and harvested our stuff in Oklahoma, and when ours was all done, we went to Kansas. Jake took his car and we loaded our few clothes on it and went to Kansas and stayed with Rudolph and his sisters and shucked the corn. He paid $2.50 a day or something like that. We worked there...we got over there in October, and I was pregnant. I was seven months pregnant with my first baby, and we shucked all the corn and everything, and my baby was born the 23rd of December at home. The doctor came out.
BM: No midwife?
FS: No midwife, no. So, anyway, we finished the corn. We got done with the corn about in January, and then my husband worked a little bit for some other people yet to earn some money so we could go back to Oklahoma again, because we didn't have any home or anything in Kansas. And we wanted to go back to Oklahoma.
So we got enough money together to go back to Oklahoma, and then he got a job on a cattle ranch, for feeding cattle and stuff. It was six miles from his dad's place. He'd walk to work, six miles. His dad had a car and everything, and wouldn't even take him to work on Monday morning. He worked all week, didn't come home nights because he'd have to walk home and back in the morning again. On Saturday night he'd walk home so he could spend time with me and the baby. I was staying with his folks. And his dad didn't even take the car and go and get him or nothing.
It was the last part of February when we'd gone back. Then sometime in April my sister wrote to me and she said Dad wanted us to come back to Idaho and work for him. I wrote back and said, "I don't think it will work." I said, "I would love to go back to Idaho. But I don't think Dad..." because he had disowned me when I got married. He said he never wanted anything to do with me again. This backtracks a little bit. He had my sister write a letter to me because he didn't write English very good but she did. They sent me a cartoon out of the paper with a girl. She had a big tall boyfriend and she brought him home...she had him by the neck and she brought him home to her folks to show them that boyfriend. They sent me that picture, and my sister wrote what Dad had said, that since I had gotten married against his will and all this blah, blah, blah, that he never wanted to see me again, wanted nothing to do with me. So okay, so be it. I never wrote to my folks after that. This was in November after we'd gone down there, and we got this letter from her. I never wrote or contacted them at all. I thought if that's the way it is, I was a stubborn Dutchman too.
So it went on until about the middle of the summer, and finally, my mother couldn't stand it any longer, not hearing from me. After all, I was her oldest daughter. So she had my sister write me a letter to see what was going on and everything. Then I started corresponding, but I never told them that I was expecting a baby or nothing. Of course, after I got married, the news always is that I had to get married. That was the biggest news that was going around. I don't know who started it. But if I had to get married, it was 13 months before my baby was born. So it was a little overdue. [laughter] My baby was born 13 months to the day after we got married.
BM: How many children did you have?
FS: I had three.
BM: A boy?
FS: A boy and two girls.
BM: The first one was a boy?
FS: No, I had two girls and then a boy. Anyway, then in May, my dad wanted me to come back, and like I say, I said, "I don't think it will work. I don't think Dad will put up with us." They wrote back and my sister wrote again and she said, "Dad said, 'Come back to Idaho. Everything will be forgiven.'" [laughter] So I see it with misgivings, and I said, "Besides, we haven't got the money to buy tickets and go on a bus to get back to Idaho." So he sent us money, and we went back to Idaho. The trip back is another story. We had bus breakdowns and rainy weather. It took us a whole week to come from Clinton, Oklahoma, to American Falls, Idaho.
BM: This was a public bus?
FS: It was a public bus, a Greyhound, Greyhound and Union Pacific. So we came back to Idaho, then my dad offered us a job to work for him. What could we do? There wasn't hardly anything; that was the Depression days. So we went to work for Dad and we lived with them in the house. Matt and I stayed in the bunkhouse. We had a bedroom in the bunkhouse, and we ate with them. I went out and worked in the field and came home and took care of my baby, and go out again and work in the field, whatever had to be done. We lived there for two years, and the second year my husband wanted to plant beets. So we planted beets, and we'd never eaten them. My dad said, "If you want beets, you plant them. But I don't want anything to do with it." We had a good beet crop, and we got a share of the beets and everything. We got a little money together, and that fall I said to my husband, "I want a home of my own. I'm tired of living with my folks. I love my folks, I love my family, but I think I deserve a place of my own." I said, "If you want to stay here and live this way, you stay. I'm getting out." [laughter] So we rented a house and we moved out and moved to ourselves. He still worked for wages, but that's another story. I've had an interesting life.
BM: Yes, you have.
CM: Very colorful.
FS: So now what do I owe yet? [laughter]
BM: Well, I think I want to go into the spiritual upbringing. You belonged to the Lutheran church, Evangelical Lutheran church. It was German, you said.
FS: German, um hum.
BM: Did your parents change from the German to the English then?
FS: Yah. My dad and mother were always going to church. Dad was very much into church work. He helped with everything, took part in the services, and whatever. He sang in the choir and all that stuff. He was a good dad. He was a good dad; I can't say he was mean to us. He fed us good and did the best he could. We never had a lot of money, but we never went hungry, we never went naked and we always had a home.
BM: Was there a Lutheran church close by, or did they have to build one?
FS: At first, when we lived on the homestead, there was no Lutheran church. We had services in the various homes. I remember one Christmas, the Siegfrieds...they were about two miles, I think, or three east of us. They had a big house and they had a barn and a granary and stuff. We had our Christmas program in the granary because their house wasn't big enough to hold the congregation. So we had the Christmas tree and we used grain sacks to sit on and stuff and had Christmas.
Then in Pleasant Valley, that was another German settlement. They were all German Lutheran, same congregation and stuff; I mean the same pastor and stuff. The pastor from Pleasant Valley would come over and give us services every two weeks or whatever. But they had built a church in Pleasant Valley, and the American Falls congregation was also centered there, or whatever you call it. So the pastors from there used to give us services.
Then in 1917, '16, our group, which was the Schultzes, the Siegfrieds, the Leaders, the Kranzlers, and us, a few others that were in our church, they bought a schoolhouse down near Aberdeen. It was a country school. Schools had consolidated and the kids were sent to the town school, so the schoolhouses sat empty. So we bought a schoolhouse and they cut it into four sections and moved it up in our area where we were and we built the church. Then later, that church, after all the people moved away when times got hard, the rabbits ate us up and the drought wouldn't let us have any crops, the people all moved away. They moved to Washington and different places in Idaho. The church sat empty. And Aberdeen didn't have a church. So the men got together and put it on wagons and moved it to Aberdeen. Then we had a church in Aberdeen.
BM: When the people died, how was grief expressed? Was there a funeral at the church?
FS: We usually had a church funeral. When the church was out on the homestead, we had our own cemetery there. There were several people that died while we were in services there. I don't know whether they've ever moved them or not, but they were buried there, some of the Siegfrieds. Emanuel Siegfried was a soldier in the service and he got pneumonia and died; his uncle died and is buried there, and several others, the Kranzler children were buried there.
BM: How did they mark the cemetery, then, the graves? With a stone or something?
FS: Just like they do now.
BM: There were no iron crosses?
FS: There might have been. I think they used most everything.
BM: How about music? Did you dance?
FS: I never learned to dance. Our church forbid it; for some reason or other, they were against it. Even in Aberdeen. It was predominately Mennonite and Mormon. We had Catholic church, we had Presbyterian and Methodist, Mormon, Lutheran, and Catholic, predominately. Then there were some smaller congregations. But the Mennonites didn't believe in dancing. We couldn't even have a prom in school. Instead of having a prom with a dance, we had a junior-senior banquet. Our church was opposed to dancing, so I didn't learn to dance.
BM: What kind of music did you have? Did you play any instruments?
FS: I played the organ.
BM: Did your mom and dad play anything?
BM: Your sisters and brothers?
FS: No. My one brother learned to play the accordion years later. Years later he played an accordion. I never learned to dance for that reason. And I didn't date. My dad was very much opposed to that. I didn't go on dates or have boyfriends and stuff.
BM: So there were no barn dances, or...
FS: Oh, the Mormons had them.
BM: Oh they did?
FS: The Mormons danced and whoever else. They used to have a dance hall up above some kind of a business building. They had a hall up above that building and they used to have public dances there. The Mormons danced in their church and different things all the time. Those that wanted to dance danced. But our Lutherans - no.
BM: How did you socialize then?
FS: I didn't do very much. I worked. That's about all I can remember. Worked and went to school. Oh, I had some girlfriends and we'd visit a little on Sunday or something. I didn't have much childhood. It was all business. I worked hard everyday on the farm, went to school, and in the evenings we'd study. When I came home from school, evenings, Mom would fix the meal, and my sister and I would wash dishes, and with that many in the family, and no electricity We carried our water in, carried our water out, and we washed by hand and we ironed with stove irons, and by the time we got that done, it was about all you got done.
BM: Did you read books?
FS: Oh, yes! I'm a bookworm. I read everything I could find.
BM: Did you get magazines?
FS: Oh, we had the Idaho Farmer and a few farm magazines, Farm Journal and stuff. And we had the Aberdeen Times; that was our local newspaper.
BM: Where did you get your books, at school?
FS: We had...well, at school or at the public library. We had a library. I'll never forget, I was in my early teens and I didn't know anything about libraries at that time. I knew we had books at school, you know, but my dad...our water system was called the Aberdeen-Springfield Canal Company. We got our water out of the Snake River, way up above, up near Yellowstone Park. Years ago they had built a big, big canal system, and that's where we got our water. Well, they had a business office in Aberdeen, and my dad had something he wanted to tell the lady that managed it. She was the secretary for the Aberdeen-Springfield Canal Company. He said, "Frieda, when you go to school today, go over and tell Mrs. Arms..." something that he had to have done with the water. So I did. I went over to the office and lo and behold, she had a whole wall of books. That was the beginning of the Aberdeen Library. She had her office for the water system, and all these books along the wall there. Well, after I told her what I was there for and what my dad wanted done, I said, "Can people read these books? Do you lend them books out?" She said, "Oh, yes, you can borrow books here. You can keep them two weeks and then bring them back." Boy, did I take some books home! [laughter] I went and looked some books over and took and borrowed some right away, took them home and read them, and when I needed new books I'd go back and take those in and bring the rest back. Then, of course, we got some through school. I was always a reader. Still do. I've got more books in the house right now than the library has. My house is not the best kept house, but since I'm old, I'm so slow. I don't get everything done anymore, and I'm trying to get rid of junk. That's what I'm trying to do. I save every thing.
CM: Typical. You 'might' need it one of these days.
FS: Oh, yes. And I put it in a box, and when that box is full, then I put it in another box, and stack that. I've got that little room. It's my junk room, and I've got to clean it out. One of these days I'm going to die and it will all belong to my daughter. Poor kid!
BM: I'm going to skip a bunch of these things because we've been inserting that into our conversation. But I want to get over to food. You worked outside...
FS: And inside.
BM: And inside. Did you do any gardening too?
FS: Oh, you bet.
BM: And milking?
FS: I milked from the time I was 11 years old, twice a day.
BM: What are some of the special German foods that you...
FS: Knepfla. You know what Knepfla are. Knepfla, sauerkraut, and Halupsy, Kraut halupsy, you know what they are. And then, of course, we raised hogs all the time, and sometimes we'd have lamb. The sheep men used to bring their sheep out past our homestead in the spring and graze them and then shear them. They had a shearing shed about three miles from our place. Then when the sheep had their lambs, if the mother died, the sheep men couldn't take care of the lambs, so they'd give them to the farmers. My mother used to raise those lambs on a bottle. We taught them to drink out of a pan. Then when the lambs grew up, we'd butcher and eat them, or sell them, or whatever we wanted to do. Dad always had hogs butchered, and we had chickens, turkeys.
BM: Did you make sausage?
FS: Oh, yes, Preßmage. You know what Preßmages are?
BM: Did you teach your children to make these German things?
FS: All my kids learned and my grandchildren are learning.
FS: Yes! I've got grandchildren that cook Knefla. They cook them a little different than I do. They have their own interpretation of them. I've got one granddaughter that lives over in Paradise Valley. She's my daughter Norma's youngest daughter. My daughter lives there in the park too. And she has three girls, no boys. They all three girls cook Knepfla and that stuff.
BM: You said that you sewed too?
FS: Oh, yes.
BM: Your mother taught you that?
FS: My mother taught me how to sew and I took sewing in high school. I took home-ec class in high school, and cooking and sewing, and the related science.
BM: Any other crafts, or not crafts, but like knitting or...
FS: I crochet. I think I've made about 30 afghans.
BM: Did you do paper cutting? Did you learn that? That's a German art.
FS: See those fish hanging over there? In the corner? I make them. That's what they call abogabi or something... what is it the Japanese call it? [origami] But they're made out of ribbon. And I learned to make them in later years, when I was nursing I learned to make them. The way I got started...we had some friends in American Falls that we used to visit. One time we were there just before Christmas, and she had a set of these fish hanging up, sailing around in there. I said, "Where did you get them?" And she said, "My brother sent them to me for Christmas." I said, "Where do you get the pattern?" And she said, "I didn't know where he got them." So I thought well So I wrote to Salt Lake City to a craft place there and asked them if they had patterns for these fish made with ribbon, and they did. So I got the directions and I made I think about 5,000 of them. [laughter]
BM: Did you do quilting?
FS: Not much.
BM: Did your mom do quilting?
FS: Not much. She made quilts, but she didn't quilt fancy. She made lots of quilts for us, and she'd just tie them or something. She didn't go into the fancy quilting. She didn't have time with nine kids to feed and gardening and everything else, she didn't have time. But she crocheted and she used to knit for us. When we were kids, she'd knit caps and slippers and things like that. I did some knitting, but I'm not too much of a knitter.
BM: There was something that we talked about
back here, that your father didn't take the kids to the doctor
FS: Well, he took them if it was necessary, but he wasn't one than ran much to the doctor.
BM: Were there doctors to go to?
FS: Oh, yah. We had a doctor.
BM: How about a dentist?
FS: We finally got a dentist in Aberdeen. Then, of course, American Falls wasn't too far. They had a hospital there. If worse came to worst, we could go to American Falls and go to the hospital. But we had a doctor from the time we lived in Aberdeen.
BM: When you got sick at home, say with the flu or something...
FS: We took care of ourself.
BM: You took care of yourself. Did your mom use any special kinds of techniques to help you get well again?
FS: Well, we depended on red liniment and white liniment and arnica [herbs]. Arnica was...I hear now that it's supposed to be a bad medicine when I read about it. But it was a brown medicine, and I don't know where they got the idea, but my mother had it from the time I can remember. If we got a sore throat, she'd give us a few drops of arnica on a spoonful of sugar, and if we had a sore, we'd put arnica on it. This white liniment, if we got rheumatism or something, we rubbed it with white liniment.
One time...our first cow, when we first started homesteading, we didn't have a cow for a long time. We had to buy canned milk. As soon as Dad could afford a cow, we got a cow. That was a godsend, you know, we had milk and cheese and butter and everything. Well, this old cow...Mama had a garden, and when she harvested her cabbage, she put all the cabbage in a little pen so she could feed a little to the cow every day. You had to feed everything, you had to use everything, you didn't waste nothing. The old cow broke the fence down one day and got in and overate on the cabbage and bloated. And here she comes with this big belly, and Mama thought she was going to die. "What am I going to do?" Dad was gone; he was working somewhere away from home. So she ran in the house and she got the bottle of red liniment, and that burns like fire. She opened the cow's mouth with a stick and poured the bottle of that liniment in. [laughter] And the old cow took off! You know what it is. And she ran, and she ran, and she ran, and manured all the way. And she came back flat as a board. [laughter] We saved the cow!
BM: That must have been the right thing to do.
FS: It was all she had to do. She said, "I'll either kill her with the liniment, or she'll die otherwise. But I'm going to try it." And she did. She poured some liniment down her throat and the cow took off, and we saved her!
BM: How do you spell that?
FS: A-R-N-I-C-A. I think it's still available.
BM: Is it a salve, or...
FS: It's a liquid. It's a brown liquid, it's got a peculiar...
BM: Is it oral?
FS: Yah. We used to get it in the grocery. And then we had Mentholatum, and we had Vicks, when it came along, and stuff like that. But she saved all nine of us. She didn't save us all, I should say, because my little sister died at one year of age. But we don't know what happened to her. I think it was probably the result of measles, because Mom said...we lived in a drafty house out in Dakota. We had a real cold house, and we both got sick. I had pneumonia and Mom said when I got through with pneumonia I had to learn to walk again. Hilda was just a year old. Before she was a year, when she had the measles, I guess. Her birthday was the 14th of April, she was a year old, and she died the 30th of May. And she was just learning to walk. She liked to be outdoors and it was a nice spring day. The sun was warm after the long Dakota winter, you know. So Mama set a chair out there and the baby held to the chair. Mom went in the house to do something, and she heard the baby cry. She looked around and she went out. The baby had fallen and was dead. She must have had...it was either a heart attack or maybe she bumped her head and nobody ever knows.
BM: You just never know about those things. Are there any other topics that we haven't discussed that you'd like to share with us?
FS: Probably. I've got lots of them. [laughter]
BM: I think we'll save that for Interview Two.
FS: I don't know just what, but something that's very pertinent, that you may need. One time I was able to ride. We never had a real saddle horse as such, but Dad's work horses, we'd ride them. I had one that he brought from Dakota. He brought three horses from Dakota. Gertie was a...what's the yellow horses? Buckskin. And a bay mare who had a colt, and a roan gelding that was an old cowboy horse. Jack. His name was Jack, and I learned to ride on him. I rode him all the time. Then the bay mare, she had the colt, which was a little bay colt. That was Frank. He was my pet. When Dad would work the horses in the field, that little colt would walk along, you know. Then when he'd come home at noon, I had little cigar boxes or tobacco boxes...I had one of them, and I'd have a little oats for him. The little colt would come and I'd feed him. So later on, when he grew up, he was my saddle horse. We called him Frank. Then she had another colt, we called him Bill. He was a half-brother to the other one.
When he was about a half-grown colt, out at the dry farm, out at the homestead in the spring of the year, some people that lived on... See, the Snake River runs east of Aberdeen, and it's a big river. There was a family of Coburns and they had a cattle ranch. They used to bring their cattle out in the spring and run them on the June grass out there. They brought their cattle out and they just let them run. My folks were trying to raise grain, and they'd come in and eat our grain. So Dad put a barbed wire fence around it. That's all he had. Well, what's a barbed wire fence to an old Hereford bull? You know they'd walk right through it. My mother had nothing but a dog and us kids when my dad was away working. He'd work for farmers so he could get money to keep us going, besides farming at home. So she'd go out; she'd take the .22 and shoot the cattle in the butt, to scare them and get them out of the grain! Well, one morning, my dad got up early, and went out. Just behind the barn, there lay this bay mare with her entrails hanging out. One of the bulls had gored her in the night and had just ripped her whole insides out. Well, Dad had to kill her. He couldn't help it; he had to kill his horse. He tried to get the Coburns to pay for her, but they laughed at him. We had experiences like that.
CM: Your dogs...were they beasts of burden too? Were they helping you with the cattle and...
FS: Oh, yah. We had dogs. When these cattle are hungry...when the range gets dry and here is this grain field, they ain't going to stop them.
Then we had the sheep men besides, to worry about. The sheep men, like I say, they'd take their flocks out there and they had lots of Basques. Each different Basque had a different flock. And they'd have about a thousand head or so in each flock. They'd try to graze them out near the farmers. Not only ours, but all the other farmers that were in this vicinity. The desert went on and on out you know, and the sheep men would come in in the spring to have their sheep sheared. Then they'd kind of graze them around. Every chance those old Basque herders got, they'd herd them near the grain field, and they'd come in and eat grain.
I remember one time my dad he had just about had it with them. He kept telling them, and they'd say, "Me no sabe. No sabe." He'd go out and say, "Get your sheep away from here. This is my place. They're getting in my field." "No sabe, no sabe." So he went out and one got kind of aggressive with him, and he came home and got his pistol. He said, "I'll sabe him." And he started out and the guy left. He sabed after that; showed him his pistol and said, "If you don't get them sheep out of here, I'm going to kill you or the sheep." So he left!
BM: Yes, there were a lot of things there. You know, we didn't get...you said you went to school later on in your life? You were a housewife for awhile and then...
FS: Yes, I got married, and I had my three kids. I had two girls and a boy, and always in the back of my head I thought of nursing, you know, but I couldn't go back to nursing. Then in 1948, the vocational education came out with LPN training for LPNs. Idaho was very much interested in it, so they set up a program for us.
By that time we had retired from ranching. My husband and I used to ranch after I was married. We had our own farms. But we finally gave it up. My husband had an allergy to grains and sagebrush of all things. He'd get in sagebrush and his eyes would swell up. In the early years he had a terrible time with it, which is another story. Finally he decided to quit farming. He loved to irrigate. He was an excellent irrigator by shovel. He said he could get an irrigating job, rather than haying and all that stuff. So we moved into Salmon then.
This LPN program...I think I was in the 2nd or 3rd class. I heard about it, but we lived 50 miles from the hospital (and they taught it at the hospital) when we were on our ranch. We lived in the Pahsimeroi Valley and I couldn't get in every day. But after we moved into Salmon, the first thing I said to my husband, I said, "I'm going to take up nurse's training. I'm going to go into the LPN program." You had to go for a year, and then you had a month's review, so it was 13 months of training. And we trained right at the hospital, five days a week. Saturday and Sunday we had off. We had five days of school, two hours in the afternoon. The rest of the time we worked on the floor. We started with eight of us, but one of them dropped out right away, so seven of us were in it. You could be any age up to 50. Well, I was 48. We had this education, this training, then...
BM: Where did you work then after you finished?
FS: At Steel Memorial Hospital in Salmon. That's where they trained us.
BM: Did you work there very long?
FS: Twenty years. Then I worked until I was 65. I started at 48, whatever number of years that was, and I worked until I was 65. Then I retired and still worked part-time until after my husband died.
BM: He died in what year?
BM: Well, thank you so much, Frieda.
FS: I bored you to death. [laughter]
BM: No, you didn't. It was wonderful. Thank
you so much.