Oral History – Noralene Belcher

Interviewer Cara Doyle

August 12, 2002

This is Cara Doyle and it is August 12, 2002 and I am chatting with… well, you’ve got a long name; can I just call you Noralene we are at the Alma Town Hall, so if there ‘s a little echo, we’re sitting in the north room of the Town Hall, which used to be the Alma school, and which Noralene, also in time we’ll get to that. Let’s start with — tell me, tell me how you first arrived in Alma?

They told me I was three months old; I was born in June, 1932.  My father was a truck driver; he always had a job, he made $25 a week and when Roosevelt came in spreading the money around, he asked that the truck drivers drive a truck half a day, let someone else drive their truck the other half.  So he had some of his friends, and the only one whose name I remember is Red Phillips, came to Alma to prospect for gold.


And as far as I know, we lived here…well, I know we left here in 1937 when I was in first grade.

Okay, so about five years you lived here.

I think. I’m not certain about that, but I think it must have been.

What is your full name?

Gladys Noralene Patty Belcher.

Okay.  But everybody calls you Noralene.

Yes, that’s right.

And who are your folks?

My mother was Gladys Lucille Henderson Patty and my father was William Jesse Patty.

Okay, and do you remember where they came from originally?

My mother was also born in Denver …


And her family lived there and my father came from  ?Verogol? Arkansas.

Do you have any memories – – well, no, you were too tiny.  Do you have memories of your folks talking about Denver at that point, where you lived, what neighborhood you were in…

Well, I actually know that I was born on Madison Street and that it was fairly close to my grandmother’s house that we looked for yesterday and is now turned into luxury apartments.

Oh, Okay.

Near downtown Denver.  And her address was 232 Madison.


So —

Okay. What’s your first memory of Alma?

Probably …running around with my dog and we lived in the cabin up on the other side of the – the – where they were working the placer.

Now I know you were really tiny, but you seem to have a lot of memories of – of being quite young around here.


You were describing the house earlier; can you talk about the house or houses you lived in around here?

The house that my father built and he and his friends hauled the logs in, dragged them behind an old Model A, and he hewed them and also sawed the floor boards and built the house himself.  He was an older man, he was twenty-one years older than my mother and he’d been born in 1890.  So he had a real hard life most of his life and… I think that’s why he knew how to take care of so many things; how to make a living, how to build that house by that spring that he knew was there because nobody else had built up there.

Huh.  Now why – why did he choose that particular land?  Did he purchase the land or was he allowed to use it, or do you know —

I don’t know.  I was always told that it was Government land and someone may have told him that you know, like he was a friend of Vaughn Van Epps and somebody might have just said, “Why don’t you build over there on the Government land?”


Although Mr. DeMarco told us that it hadn’t been Government land, it wasn’t at that time.


But he had homesteaded other land and he actually homesteaded land in California near Palm Springs.


But he let that fall through you know, if you don’t – – if you don’t build, you don’t keep it up, it reverts back to the Government.

Did he have a background in mining? Had he done that out in California or somewhere else?

Not as far as I know.  No, he never did.



And so he was here placer mining.


Did he know what he was doing?


Or did he have someone teach him?

He – he must have learned – – now I said Vaughn Van Epps was his friend and of course they are big in this country, so perhaps that’s where he learned or maybe somebody who came up with him; maybe that’s where he learned.  But … as far as I know, before he came here he didn’t have any experience.  But we had some neighbors named Kelly; they had I think three or four sons and a daughter who lived close to us down that way (gesturing) and…

Okay, now you’re pointing at – this is the Alma placer?

Yes, oh, we lived over there…


And they lived – I don’t which direction that is; is that kind of …

Let’s see, north.



Of us and we also knew them in California …


And they moved to Gold Country in California and I remember they asked him to come up and look at some property that they were going to put a claim on or buy, so he must have learned really well.


And they respected his judgment and I can remember him looking and saying, “There’s quartz up there.”  You know, pointing up the hill.


The gold then is probably down here…


Someplace.  So he – he did pretty good  I think.

Okay. And now … (interruption)  The cabin! You have more memories of the cabin!  That was her husband poaching   ________?? (man’s voice inaudible in the background, presumably her husband).

Oh, okay! It was – it was a square, it – – he dug back into a hill so that the first floor had a door coming out the front…


And the second floor went to the outside on the back.  It was level, the second floor was level with the hill on the back.

Huh! Okay.

And … the first year, it didn’t have a roof and he put a tarp on it and I remember that we must have had a canvas door because our dog … got in a deer trap and was gone like for three days and I remember that when back, him scratching on that canvas that he wanted in.  He also dug a hole back into the hill where a root cellar tie – – where we kept apples, onions, potatoes.  I don’t recall ever putting any meat in there, but he did tell my husband that he kept meat which might have been in the winter.  The second year I don’t what happened, I’ll drink it all.

She– she has family poaching.  Okay.

Yeah…. where was…


Oh, the – – when he was on his way home from work, he would stop behind the café and take then number ten hams; ten tin cans and took ten snips, flattened the cut the bottom and the top out, and the second year we had a tin roof.  Ah, parts of that tin roof are still up there.


And rusted and so on.  The old stove that we had is still there.

Oh my goodness.

The cabin was vandalized sometime in the fifties I think and burned and the fire must have been terrifically hot because the – the stove was actually buckled. We saw that today.  We brought a piece of it.

The heat in it.

It was very hot.  And the bed, one side, the long side, was against the back wall, the head was against …the other wall and two sides were open and it had like a log or post that held the other corner.  It wasn’t actually – – and then he fixed that so he could bed springs and so on on it.  And then I think us kids slept upstairs and we were there mostly in the summer. When it snowed, it – – you get a lot of snow in Alma and it gets very, very cold and we moved to town; we lived in several houses, I’m not sure… I know they called the house … said it was Mr. Logue’s house and I’m wondering if the – – he is a mine owner, owned the house and we lived in it?  My mother worked at the hotel, the lady that owned the hotel was named S…

Do you know what hotel?

You know, I don’t but I – I keep seeing that five house up there where the street branches off…

Just up the main corner up toward Buckskin?


Oh, okay.

And it s a big old house.

It’s ringing a bell?

And I thought – – I keep thinking that was the hotel.  The lady that owned it, her name was Sally.


And – and we had a room there, so mom cooked and cleaned and everything for Sally and we had a room.

Now when you say you had a room, do you mean for the whole family or for the kids to stay while she was working, or…

No, we had a room for the whole family.  Most of the time when I was little, I remember we had only one or two rooms and we always had – – I always slept with my sister.  I never, ever, until I was about twelve, slept by myself or had twin beds. And we – we shared a bedroom with our parents and I can’t remember any other houses. (Turning to her husband?)  Have I ever mentioned any other?

(Male voice in background, inaudible).

Oh! When- -I’m not sure when it was, but I can see it in my mind now, one of those old-fashioned silver-looking trailers they used to always paint them with aluminum paint, came up the hill and they had inside Maytag washing machines.  And as I remember, each one had its own little stand with red carpet and they had a mangle iron and my – – so my mother bought a washing machine.

Now this was a sales person who came to town with this trailer?

Yes, yes! And she bought a washing machine.

That’s a pretty big deal!

Yeah, and  ?thee?  and a mangle and then she was in the laundry business.  And this house that I think was Mr. Logue’s was- – we called modern because it had polished floors you know, and the walls were intact; they weren’t log walls and it may had elec—it probably did have electricity, but it sat up against the main road and had a – a spacement underneath, or a cellar.

Is that house still here?

I don’t know.  I keep – I keep looking at the houses that are built like that at that end of town and I don’t quite recognize them…but my uncle, D.A. Crowell, came here in  – – when we had the cabin, he slept in the body of a model A Ford.  It was set on the ground and it was just like a room!  It had doors and he had a bed in there and drank Four Roses whiskey (laughter) I used to remember those pint bottles!  He helped her when he was here with the laundry.

So he wasn’t mining?  He was … was he older?

I don’t think so.  Yes, he was her uncle and he may have come here to visit or to see what was going on and of course I never asked before so  – – and I’ll never know now you know, if he did or not unless he filed a claim.

Yeah, we might – we might meet someone else who – who remembers him.  Now you went to school here you said, but you were pretty little so…

Yeah. I started school here in the first grade when I was five and I think my teacher’s name was Miss Snow.  So…

Okay.  Now was actually in this building?

Yes, yes it was.

Do you have any recall — recollections of coming in or what it was like, or did they ring the school bell, or…

Well, I don’t – –  that much.  I remember that my favorite color was red and I just really just liked to make it really red and shiny.

So you were coloring?

Yes, when we colored.  I think we must have lived pretty close and I think some of my parent’s friends were possibly the custodian and his wife because I remember he and my dad making angel wings out of wire for school.

For plays you think?

Yeah, for a play or for Christmas and the ladies covering them you know, with ?_____?


(Male voice in background, inaudible).

Oh yeah, I remember those; the coat hooks.

They’re in the same place?

Yeah, come in there and hang up your coats and then somebody told me this used to be two rooms.


So I don’t know how that was but before I started school, and when we were living close, I remember my mother told me this  (I – I don’t really actually remember this) but I would come to school and bring my dog and I think the dog laid down outside and I’d go in my sister’s classroom and play and the teachers must have been very tolerant because  I was just allowed to do that and if course, if Mother missed me and then she could see the dog you know, she knew that I was here.  I don’t think they worried about me a lot when I was with that dog because when we lived on Gler- Glenarm Street in Denver and the school was just across the street, he would not let me cross the street until there were no cars coming.  He’d walk back and forth in front of me and keep me from crossing the street. So…

Do you remember, was there any kind of a playground or did they…

I don’t remember that.

Do you remember what you did for fun?  Did they have like a recess time…

Oh, I’m sure! Yeah, they did. Yeah. And I remember – I remember my sister doing this, but I don’t remember me so much.  That they got jelly in those – – in a can which was maybe a five-pound size, would you say?  It had a tight lid you know, that would tighten up.  And they put holes in the lid and that’s what the kids carried the lunch to school in.

(Male voice in background) There’s a handle on it.

Yeah, there’s a handle on it, a bale.  Some people I think got sorghum molasses and think that – – in fact, we have one of those, don’t we?  It’s about so high (gesturing) about that big a round (gesturing).

So it could be the size of like a mason jar that we would talk ___?

Oh, bigger.

(Female voice in background) It was like  – it looks like a paint can.

Yeah, and the – the lid was tight you know, so you didn’t lose anything, but they had to put holes in it to, of course, let the food breathe and everything  so your sandwiches didn’t get soggy or whatever. Like they could here.

Do you remember any mischief or games that used to play with your sister or neighborhood kids?

I remember when she was nine and I remember the day she played hooky and she was responsible for me, so she took me with her and I don’t remember getting in particular trouble over that; they probably just said, “That’s not right, never do it again,” but I remember some house up on the hill from the school where the  – -another girl went with us.  They peaked out to see if anybody at school was looking for them you know, they probably didn’t even miss us but I don’t remember any – – I remember the old theater …

Hmm!  Where was that?

I’m not sure… it’s on a – – it was on a side street someplace…

In Alma?

In Alma.


And… it seemed to me like it was kind of like a school gym, where it had a balcony around the top and that they may have played basketball or something in it and then it was also used as a town hall meeting place …

I wonder if that could be the Ladies Aid Building.

I don’t know.


But I remember that my sister won … Robert Louis Stevenson’s Child – Child’s Garden of Verses because she used to do readings you know, what readings were? In the olden days and used to do the you know, the oratory type of thing.  We had the big book for a long time I expect her children still read.


(Female voice in background) And you guys played house.

Oh yeah! We played house on this big rock that was…

Now was this the stepping rock that you guys built?

Yeah, the stepping stone rock and …

Can you tell me more about that – we talked about that before we turned the tape on.

Oh, Marco said that it probably weighed forty tons and he hadn’t ever moved it and that what cinched it with him, that we had the right area for the house.

And we should say that e — you folks, before we started this tape, actually went up and tried to find some of these places that we’re talking about and Mark DeMarco took you up there…


And so you found a rock you used to play on.

Yes.  And he knew immediately when I mentioned that rock because it’s very out of the ordinary and it has actual steps to go up… I -I think it would be three steps for a little child and we used to put our toys; our rocking chair and thing up there and play; play and play for a long time.

I know your daughter mentioned you playing house.

Daughter:  Yes.

What was that about?

Mmhmm.  Well, that’s with the rocking chair and our — you know, if we had dishes and tin dishes, or whatever.

(Other party)  We used to make mud pies…

I used to make those over here (laughter) and Mr. Logue…

Over where?

When we lived in Mr. Logue’s house, it seemed like he visited us sometimes and I made mud pies and he would actually eat them! That’s what my mother told me.

Sister:  Mr. Logue’s house.


He would actually eat …the mud pies.

That’s a pretty nice – pretty nice man!


Can you give me any memories as far as things around town; I mean, were there horses, were there burros, what kind of shops?

Oh, yes.  There were burros and I was always saving pieces of rope to tie together to catch one and they were so gentle you know, and everything and I can remember catching them someplace and I thought it was by that ru — building that I call the hotel.  It was terraced and if I – I‘d get him down here and I‘d get up on the other so I could get on his back.  And they would just I think let me ride you know, for awhile and probably somebody would take me off of it before I could get hurt but… that’s — of  the other buildings okay.  I remember there was a drugstore and the druggist gave my mother the old newspapers to wrap the clean clothing in when she had ironed the shirts or whatever.

I don’t know if we said that. When she bought that washing machine and  ?son?  she really started her own business…

(Daughter):  Yes.

Then doing laundry in the area.

Yes.  And she bought a mangle iron which was – – they used them all the time still in laundries, big laundries and I’d love to have one, that was a roller with a hot plate that came down and she knew just how to do those collars and how to do the back the shirt and the whole thing; she could do it much faster than they do anymore.  But the druggist would give her the day-old papers to wrap the clean laundry in and this is awful… I would go and tell the – the druggist that my mother sent me to pick up the papers because I knew he would give me candy.

(General laughter)

And I – I’m not sure – we saw that — a drugstore in Fairplay that’s supposed to be the Alma – and I don’t know when they took that away, if that was the one that I went in to pick up those papers or what.


But, and then I remember there was a birthday party in a saloon. (laughter)


Well, you know people if people had little kids and it was during the day and I can remember there were five or six of us…

You know what?  They still do here.

Do they?

Uh –huh.


(Sister)  And what about Christmas?

Well, at Christmas we went to church… and we were given those red net stockings it was something like an onion bag that they use these days and we always got an apple, an orange and Christmas candy and we probably got a toy. But I remember the apple and orange because those were probably hard to come by up here in the winter and the candy I remember because it wasn’t wrapped; it was always stuck. (laughter) to the bottom of that – – the foot of that stocking. And we had real trees and Santy Claus brought the tree and it never appeared until Christmas morning.  And we had real candles that are about as thick as your little finger, a little longer maybe (gesturing) about that big a round and this last winter I wrote this in our family newspaper and we had little clips you clipped it on the candle holder; it’s clipped on, the little handle is there, (gesturing) and my youngest daughter found some and bought them for me.

Oh, neat!

So they’re brand new! Never been used.  But we didn’t have to worry about fire then because we had so much water and everything, evidently.

Now was the water from a spring or from the snow, or …

Well, I’m thinking from snow.  The trees weren’t dried out, you know.  Things were …

(Female voice in background) Green.

Green.  And then if you know, we burned those candles in the morning, Christmas morning and then they probably weren’t lit anymore so… I can’t remember any more that we did at Christmas.

(Female voice in background) You were here for the fire.

Yes I was here in the fire in 1937…

Okay, do you remember where you were?

We had a room in the hotel and that hotel may not be here anymore because there was a “hell fire and damnation” preacher came through town and he said that Alma was so wicked – I think there may have been seven or eight bars, saloons… that God was going to punish them I guess is what he meant and shortly after that, the town did catch on fire and it burned right to where that creek comes down across the road.

Mm-hmm- Buckskin?

And the hotel was right by that creek and I remember there was a saloon … that the one I went to the birthday in.

The birthday party?

Was right across that creek to the …

You don’t remember whose birthday party, do you?

No, I don’t.  I remember saying she blew – – she was five years old and she blew out all the candles but four.  (laughter) So, my math wasn’t too good I guess.

And now the night of the – the day of the fire.  Was it evening? Was it daytime?

It was night time.

And do you remember seeing the flames or what was…

Yes I do.  I remember that we were in the hotel and they were looking for my shoes, looking for my shoes and I said, “I got some on.”  I already had my shoes on.  My dad had a Model A that he hadn’t started all winter because he was working near town and just walked.  And it started up right away, which evidently back then, and as cold as it was, the wind was blowing and I can remember sheets of tar paper rolling down the street coming down at us, so he got us.

(Male voice in background, inaudible)


Female voice in background) Was it burning?

Burning tar paper coming down the street. So he got us all in the car and our few belongings and my mother had a cedar chest that my oldest daughter has now and …it was not the kind that are veneered or anything, it was cedar.  I don’t think that he made it, although he was a carpenter and it had legs on it.  And he put it on the fender of the car and we had to back up that hill over (gesturing).

Oh, we didn’t say that! Why wouldn’t you…

Back up – we would back up because that was the strongest gear?

(Husband) The lowest.

The lowest gear.  It would not – – Model A would not pull that hill.  We went up there today in a Jeep four-wheel drive and that’s what it would take.  So anyway, that cedar chest fell off the car three times off the fender and the third time, he left it where it was and then my oldest daughter had asked, “Why would he do that? Why would he leave it?”  And – and it was so cold,  and it was so cold and he had two little kids and he was trying to get to our cabin over there where we could be sheltered and away from where that fire was.  It never would have crossed that placer mine I’m sure.  And somebody else came along the road; I think it was one of the Van Epps and they picked up the cedar chest and took it to their house and then I remember later that Mom and Dad heard they had it and they went there and got it.  So… that was the …

(Sister) That cedar is really old!  ‘Cause I’m seventy and she had it before that.

Now did your dad then go and fight the fire? Did you – – do you remember what people in town did?

No, you know, I don’t – I don’t remember that at all.  I remember when I was little, I never got frightened very much.  I always felt secure that it was – that everything was taken care of.  The only time I ever got frightened was when I’d go fishing with my dad and I’d keep looking for that bear!  (Laughter)  To come out of the woods and get me!  But other than that, I was happy-go-lucky little kid, you know.  So…

(Husband, inaudible)

Yes! People – – there’s a dug-out up there and that’s the one that they had thought was our house because it used to – it was dug back in a little hill.

And it’s still here?

It’s still there, but there’s no top on it now.  But – – so somebody must have taken the planks off, but I can see that—I have said, it was one room and there was a little bedroom behind and you can still see that and that… I don’t know who lived in it first and I don’t think they made it, but there was a couple named Alice and Heavy Raymond and they had a little boy named Neil Raymond and one time when I think back here… 1954 probably, there was a slit in the door and I could look through there and the front door to the bedroom  – that little bedroom and I could see my baby bed and I knew it was my baby bed because I remembered that they gave it to these people, I didn’t need it anymore.  It was just white – white…

Wow, and it was still in there.

And it was there! Still in there so… course, that wasn’t so very long, about that’d be seventeen years after… and then there was an older woman and her son.  I don’t remember his name but her name was Mrs. Millaway I believe, and I can remember going there to listen to the Joe Lewis match.  Scmeling was the …prize fight.

Oh my goodness!

And sitting on her bed.  Well, when we went to those places they were so small and they really didn’t have a lot of chairs it was like we always – – kids were always on the bed you know, playing or we knew if they were going to play cards that we’d just lay down and go to sleep there and then they’d pick us up and take us home. And then … who else? We came up here with Red Phillips and … I mentioned the Raymonds. and Vaughn Van Epps…

Were there kids that you played with that you remember names?

Well, I remember playing with the Kelly’s but they were older than I and the youngest one, probably fifteen, sixteen to eighteen, his name was Burnell and there was a Bernerd and  ( first side of tape cuts off).

Second side of tape

Okay. We’re back but we – we – yeah, I started this thing and I didn’t watch the tape.  You were talking about other people that you remembered here and kids you might..

And I think I started to say that Mrs. Kelly was – – had been a music teacher I think.  They were also from Arkansas and her husband looked just like Will Rogers.  (laughter).

(Sister or daughter):  Now, was it Will Rogers?

Okay.  It looked just like, talked just like him, but she had a baton that she directed her kids. The all played instruments and she’d go “Ta Ta Ta Ta” (gesturing) when she did that and I – so I named her “Ma Kelly,” we called her Ma Kelly and her TaTa stick. (laughter) And I remember once I was helping Burnell saw logs with one of these big long saws; it was for wood for the house and had it on a saw horse and I don’t know where – – where I was sitting you know, I thought I was helping probably more than I was and I pulled it back and it went across my shin but it was — it just barely hit me, it wasn’t anything bad, but I remember that he used to take a little piece of a pine block or something and carve it and say there was a little – – like a little house and there’s a little man in there cooking, you can smell what he’s cooking you know, and you could smell the fresh pine so they were quite a nice family.  That’s the same family that later moved to California and that my dad would go and you know, give his opinion as to whether it was a good mining claim or not.

Do you remember any – anything about the mining or miners at that time?  Stories from your dad about it…

I didn’t really… I don’t — did he ever sa – – he didn’t ever tell much about .. he was pretty quiet man. But I do remember that while we were here in town, that somebody lit a match near a barrel of carbide and carbide you know, is the stuff that you put in them, the miner’s lanterns, and you add water and it heats the gas… it must have been damp or something but it exploded and I remember his face being so burned and how you know, scabbed and all these whiskers growing through it. And that’s what I had told Nancy and said, “I thought my father worked right here in town… for Mr. Logue, and she said, “We didn’t have a mine here in town,” but Marco says that it’s like…

(Male voice in background, inaudible)

just right back here where he found the shaft you know, where the – I mean the timbers where they had the entry to it.

Well and I think that the tent camps from what I understand, were built in this whole area that is now actually empty you know, some of the marsh area from what I understand so what was town may have seemed even closer at that point you know, you had tent camps all along there so you may be remembering …

I don’t remember the tents but I remember one up close to where we were, but it was empty and my sister and I play — played in it probably once.


No, I mean probably somebody set it up, used it once or twice then left, so… that’s all I remember.

Now what about – – you mentioned something about a barrel cleaning gold…

Okay, my – – I evidently, some of the gold that he couldn’t pan or put through the sluice box… large rocks that might have clay o dirt on them…he put them in a barrel of water and — I think the impression was like, cut off the barrel the barrel – maybe cut in half?

(Male voice in background, inaudible)

but I can remember seeing her sit there scrubbing those rocks with a…

With the gold? 

A brush to get the gold and then he must have run what was left in that barrel through the sluice box to separate it, so… I can just remember when they were weighing gold, talking about a pennyweight and they would actually use a penny for a pennyweight and having – – when they had black sand in it, they had to use the mercury and I’m not sure if I’m remembering this right, but it seems to be me like they been – if they — when they didn’t heat it and everything, that sometimes you could take a chamois skin and … you run the black sand would go through and the gold would stay behind it.

Oh, okay!   

So whether I just dreamed that up or you know, it really happened but…

(Inaudible from husband)

Yep, we still have his gold pan and we’ve been up here for two weeks, we’ve had four of the younger – – four grandchildren all pan for gold…

Oh, neat!

And the oldest of those, we were fortunate enough to meet somebody on the Ar – – we were on the Arkansas River up in Leadville that knew exactly how you should do it you know, and he took him up and got him some foil and all that way off the bank, where I never would have thought of… and he – he got some gold…

Got some gold?

Got some gold.

Oh, how exciting!

And one of my – my youngest son-in-law got a – – found a little ?groupie? with gold on it you know, that was welded to it!

Just like carrying on that gold history to the family!

Well yeah, and then there’s the grandson that found gold, has my father’s name.

Oh, neat. And now does your father pursue the gold mining after he —  after he left here?

He – he did once…when we left here we went to Texas, back to Denver and then in Idaho, he and my – – his sister’s husband bought a gold claim on the Snake River and they brought the water up to the flume of the big water wheel and there was gold there, but it was such fine gold and so much black sand…that would have been 1940 , ’41…and they couldn’t recover it you know, just like now, it would not be worthwhile, so he got a job on the railroad and then …when World War II started, they built a military highway through there and he went back to driving a truck and he was … fifty-six? Something like that…about fifty-six.  And he drove sixteen hours a day that truck you know, hauling materials to build the road.

Do you know what caused your family to leave this area?

No…I don’t.  Whether … he – – we did go to his sister’s in Texas and whether they were telling him that he could get a job there or whatever, I – I don’t know.  But he – he never did really get a job there.  We stayed there for awhile and my mother did laundry, my aunt owned a hotel and she – – I remember wash – – her washing sheets and I lived with six other girl cousins and … it was …

So now we’re pushing into depression time, aren’t we?  So that maybe that was part of it.

Mm-hmm.  That might have been it and she – – I remember when school was out, we went to a place called Smith’s Point that was a fishing camp and I never ate so many fish! (laughter)

That was in Texas?

Texas… on Galveston Bay.  I used to love the oysters!  I’d jump in and get oysters and open them up and just swallow them.  I was about six and  when – –  I guess when nothing was happening there for him, my mother wrote her mother in Denver for money.  But she – – they must have been desperate because she never would have.  My …my grandmother never approved of my father because he was so much older than my mother and she sent her $12 and we came across the whole state of Texas up to Denver on $12.  We bought watermelon, we had fried eggs and fried sweet potatoes and slept beside the road.  Just like a lot of other people were doing.

And then you came back to Denver and did you live with a grandmother?

No, we didn’t.  We – we had an apartment and everything.  My dad must have gotten his job right back because he’d been – – he worked for … can’t remember.  It was an Italian firm in driving coal and stuff like that and I remember he worked for a sand and gravel company because he used to take the only truck with him and… evidently nothing was happening there either and then a friend of ours…

(Inaudible from sister or daughter)

He just moved in Denver.  He had moved to California and he was a carpenter at Paramount studios so my dad started work as a carpenter at Paramount Studios building sets and miniature sets and …

Do you remember any famous people then?

He worked with – with Cecil B. DeMille, worked for him building sets and they had to go for the Ten Commandments, that movie – they had to go to the desert for location and he brought back — they had some certain kind of pigeon or something from Egypt and he brought back some of the feed that they gave them, a different kind of corn than you see here.  But he worked there until he retired and then he and mom moved back to Palisade, Colorado and … she passed away when she was 54, which was really hard for him because being the you know, so much older, he would have never have thought that she would go before he did.

She would go first.

So I think he was back here a couple of years and then he came to California with – with us for six years.

Here we go. Okay, I put it on pause for a moment.  So, we were just talking about one of the things we might have forgotten and that your father retired…

He had retired quite a bit before that, but when Mother died, he seemed – – he stayed in – in that house in Palisade for a year or two, I’m not sure how long, then he came to California the last six years of his life and we were discussing last night whether he was 84 or 85 … when he died but…

Now we’ve talked about your folks; we kind of skipped your own family and when did you get married and how did you meet?

Okay, well, I met my husband when he was playing rubber guns in the back yard with my cousin (laughter) I was – – how romantic!  I was 14 …and if you don’t know what a rubber gun is, they used to carve out a wooden gun and they used those inner tubes to make rubber – – big rubber bands.  You know what an inner tube is, it came out of a tire.

(laughter) I know what an inner tube is – I know that part!

And they had cannons and they – – huge cannons and I’m saying with my arm —  my hands  like (gesturing) five feet long and they’d tie several of those rubber bands together and they were having war (inaudible, other female) jumping on those post holes in the back yard that we had set out there to clean or something.  And that was the first time I saw him, he lived about a block away so I was a sophomore in high school and …

And this is in – what town are you in now?

This is in Hawthorne, California.


And he was a junior and … we started going together and never quit I guess… and when I graduated from high school – – he graduated a year before me and we were engaged about eight months I think and … I graduated one week from high school and I think it was the next week my sister got married, the next week – – my sister was four years older than I; she got married June 19th, 1949 and the week after that, I got married.

Oh my goodness.

June 26, 1949.

You really put your folks through some of this.

NB  Yes.  Well, we did — we did things in a simpler way then. The guys didn’t all wear tuxedos you know, we all had our gowns and everything, but they wore a dark suit and everybody got together and did the food for the reception and it wasn’t – -they weren’t huge weddings but it worked; we’ve been married fifty-three years!


(Inaudible male voice in background)

For something special…

?___? was married.  My middle daughter, she married before the older daughter, she was eighteen also when she got married. And she wore my gown.

Oh!  And how many children do you have?

I have three girls; Denise, Noralene named after me, and Jackie Lynn because I had a little sister that died when she was an infant, eight months old, and her name was Jacquelene and so named Jackie, Jackie Lynn because we said if we named her Jacquelyn, everybody’s going to call her Jackie anyways, so we got two names.  And then our younger daughter is Rebecca Lee and the other …

(Male voice in background, inaudible).

Yeah, that’s it.

Six grandchildren?

Oh, we have six grandchildren.  Jackie has a 24 year-old girl who’ll be graduating from college this year and up until she’s graduated, she wanted to be a teacher but now she’s changing her mind and nine – – Jackie has a nine – – twenty-year old who turned twenty August 2nd, a boy named Michael  and Denise has a boy named after my dad and her dad, Jesse David Katzenberger (laughter) and Jackie married a guy named Michael Venturelli and I’ve always said I can’t believe those girls gave – gave up their – – a nice name like Belcher for Venturelli and Katzenberger! And Rebecca married a guy named John Stuart and I’ve always said with her name, she sounds like she belongs in a gothic novel and – – but she should – – when she was expecting, I said, “You should name your baby  (she’s a girl) Rosemary,”  because Rosemary – it’s  S-t-u-a-r-t which is even – – that’s a lot more romantic than the other way and she named her Mary Rose and she’d giggle every time I’d say Rosemary because she was keeping this a secret from me.  She thought she was naming her after my mother.  She thought Rose was my mother’s name but Rose was my sister’s name so it was the plot that counted and then she has the three kids; she has Mary Rose Stuart, Thomas John Stuart and Jack Henry Stuart. Good plain names.

(Female voice in background, inaudible)

Which one’s that?

(Female voice in background) Well, Annette I think you left out.

Oh, did I leave Annette’s name out?  Well, it’s Annette Marie Venturelli and her mother named her that because she said we could never give her a nickname, which we’re kind of bad with.  But we called – but we started calling her Nettie and she still answers to “Nettie Spaghetti.”  (laughter) so…

You can find a nickname anywhere! Is there anything you want to add that we – we’ve missed?

(Male voice in the background, inaudible)

Probably more than she needs!  (Laughter)

(Male voice in background, inaudible)

Lots of names to keep track of! There were so many, but that’s great! And I think as we close, that we’ll – you’ll probably have lots more memories come back, so you can ?_____?

I – I might have.  You never can tell.  We did – we – we came here to Colorado, I was going to tell you, because the – – Michael Venturelli said someday he’d like to come to Colorado with us and see all the places we lived.  And so I said, “Okay, we’ll do that someday, we’ll go and we’ll take the whole family.”  So he said, on my – – was it Mother’s Day or something, he said, “For your birthday why don’t we all go to Colorado. You plan it!”  So I did (laughter).  I – I rented a trailer and everything, turned out that Mike Venturelli and Jackie are the only – – and their family are the only ?_______? that couldn’t come, but Denise and my husband David and I went to Denver yesterday and saw where I lived on 21st and Curtis, where I lived at 2225 Glenarm, all of these houses …are not there anymore   The school that I went to is still there.

What school is that?

Ebert.  Ebert School on Glenarm Street.


And it’s still a beautiful school! I‘ve always thought that was the best school I ever went to because it had a for really ? _______?  library, it had a real auditorium, you know, with the stage and the curtains and the whole thing, but … there – – most of those houses now are downtown Denver and it’s downtown skyscrapers you’re looking out.

I’ve seen some of those.

(Male voice in background) :  It looks like ?_? schools there.

Uh –oh.

I did   ? _____? here.

Male voice: No, the one – – the one…

Oh, well, I’d go home and fix my own lunch because my mother was working , now this is when I was seven or eight,  and I would put the soup in the pan and I had to strike a match to light the gas and everything, and I’d eat lunch and then I – – we had these little Dick Tracy books, the little square ones, you know?

Uh –huh.

And I’d sit down and start reading … and I’d never hear the school bell (laughter) and I just wouldn’t go back to school!  And I don’t know if that happened more than once or maybe just once and I remember it, but my kids were always saying, “You lit a match?”


You lit the gas? (laughter)

At that age, it’s hard to imagine a child going home alone.

Not only that, I – I must have been just wandering the city because I can remember going to the Federal Courthouse, which is a couple of blocks away and I can’t remember anybody being with me!  But I can remember the big seal over one of the courtrooms and the marble and  went to a … rally at the – – what would you call that, Denise?  Down at the end of the Capitol. That was within walking distance, too.  But I was either going for a rally when Roosevelt was running for his – – probably his third term? Against Wilkie I think it was and we had – – it was a colonnade that the  – –  you know, there.  Sort of a Roman colonnade so we did have you know, a good life.  Do you want me to tell you some – some of the things about ?___?

The juicy stuff?

Well, we went to downtown Denver to go the movies and mom would give us a quarter.  We’d go to the movies for a dime, we would see two movies; “A March of Time,” which was news and so on; a “short” they used to call them and those talking animals were famous; a cartoon…and then across the street from the theater there was a place called the “Grass Shack.”  The front was open and it had false grass, imitation grass, on the walls and for the fifteen cents we could get a hot dog, a little pan of beans and a frosted malted.  But when she’d send me to the store with a quarter, I could get a quart of milk …the newspaper, what else?

(Male voice in background, inaudible).

A loaf of bread… and have two cents left over for candy.  The Denver Post was only three cents, so we’d get all that.  And I – I should say too, that when we were up at the Matchless Mine and Baby Doe’s cabin is papered with a newspaper from 1933, that we saw a washing machine advertised for $44.  So that was one of the things…

You have an idea of what Mom paid then.

Yeah, uh-huh.

(Male voice in background, inaudible).

About the same.

(Female voice in background: Was there an article about the fire?)

There was an article about the fire here in Alma. Well, it had to be later than that. No…Well, it had – – all four walls were plastered, but it was probably 1937 newspaper, too.  And it interested me that there had been a bombing in one of the theaters in Denver.


Because I didn’t think those things happened back then and I think the Lindbergh child and of them had been kidnapped so…

(Male voice in background, inaudible).


Even when you were ?_____? I understand, I understand.

I’m – I always say I’m a bookoholic because if I start reading a book, I can’t put it down and then I’m… well, not so much since we have TV and everything anymore … I really, really would get where I needed to read and I’d read things on cans or the stereo boxes you know, just normally.

Now did – – we didn’t say, did you work outside the home as well?

No, I didn’t…

(Female voice in background, inaudible)


Then I was raised…

Taking care of the kids.

Girl Scout leader.  I organized Girl Scout troops, I registered Girl Scout troops.  I think I have about twenty-five years in there between the girls and then I worked at it after the girls were all out.

(Male voice in background inaudible).

Well, I was going to tell that, too.  When our youngest one was nine, we bought a broasted chicken place from his uncle where they made broasted chicken and I ran that business for ten years…

(Male voice in background inaudible)

And we – – and it would increase so much from time to time, that we knew we’d either have to get a bigger place and more people to work or we’d have to let it drop off.


‘Cause if you can’t serve people – – I don’t know if you’re familiar with broasted chicken – it’s not cooked.  We never cooked it until it was ordered and so, you know, with that time element in there we never held any hot or anything.

And what did you do?

(Male voice in background) I worked for Northrop for thirty    ?_________?


Male voice:  Its’s a ?__?   (Answer is inaudible)

Okay.  Anybody want to add anything else before we close?

I can’t think of anything.

Just thank you so much for spending time with us today.

Well, thank you – you’ve been so patient!

And feel free to add more through the e-mail or anything else you have.

I will!

End of tape