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Latah County Oral History Collection

Remembering Latah County and Idaho Life at the turn of the 20th century

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Date: September 12, 1975 Interviewer: Sam Schrager

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GUS DEMUS: After the War Was over the crap shooting was popular you _. erybody was shooting craps. You know what that is, don't you?

SS: Yes.

GD: Shooting dice. wore down.

SS: He told me he remembered them shooting craps where the Greeks lived, big blankets out on the ground, outside, he said. And after payday came he said he saw large amounts of money go down on the bets sometimes.

GD: Oh, yeah. There was some gambling. Not large amount of Probably a hundred or something like that. They were all gambling. But that was gradually.

SS: Did you ever—?

GD: Gamble?

Yeah. Did you ever lose your paycheck on something like that?

It was popular, everybody was doing that. Was there mostly crap shooting in Spokane, or was it poker or-? in the gambling house thereat poker and baccarat and everything else. It wasn allowed, but they were paying protection, see? The houses were paying police protection and they don't bother them. But then the pro secuting :attorney he got wise and they had to cut it out because he come in and arrested them, see? He took the tables and everything else. Prosecutor, oh, what the heck was his name? Ican't remember now. I wasn't in the house. They arrested some of these gamblers, too, you know. At that time, Iwas out. We weren't there on Saturday nightsnights and Sundays, because we was working Saturdays, you see.

At that time, we were working six days a week.

Were they mostly lumberjacks or all kinds of people in the gambling? Oh, everybody, business people, too.. You know everybody was throwing the dice.

SS: Was that what it was mostly, dice? Mostly, yeah. 'Course there was some card gamblo. ,but the ln you know, they could fix the cards so they knew where every card was,you know,in the deck. See, they were pretty sharp. Did you guys stay away from the card gambling? I never play cards, no. I just shot dice.

SS: Could they load the dice, too?

GD: Well, not quite, because they had bone dice. Where they were shooting dice, they were dice made out of bone, and you couldn't very well load 'em. Because they were real bone dice and they had cut the corners off too. They were doing a lot of thingsin Potlatch, too. In Onaway up there they were bootlegging and gambling and doing everything. Italians were bootlegging. Not the Greeks, they never did pull it, the bootleg because they didn't have no places of their own, see. At Onaway, now one Italian was here and was bootlegging but the others were up to Ona way. And they were doing it there because it was adifferent town, you see.

When you say places of their ov~what do you mean? A house to live in that was out of town?

GD: Yes, yes. Not out of town, at Onaway. You know where Onaway is?

SS: Yes. But not Potlatch.

Well, in Potlatch, too. But not very much in Potlatch. Because they get arrested here. They had some wine, wine for themselves. And they used to come from Moscow, you know, the sheriff used to come around and raid 'em once in a while.


Yeah, Summerfield. You know him?

I've heard about him.

You don't remember him?

No he's dead.

Been dead for a long time.

But I know Hap Moody, and he was one of that bunch.

Hap Moody is in a home now.

Is he?

Hap is, I know him pretty well. He's a good fella, he pretty smart. Pretty smart, what you call, sheriff. And, another big fella was sher iff, he just died here not very long ago.

SS: Jordan?

GD: Jordan.

SS: Well, I've heard about Summerfield stopping a lot of people, but not about arrests. I don't hear about many arrests.

Oh, no, they didn't. They didn't arrest 'em, they just warned 'em. Scare him out. And what is this fella we had here/heas around here once in a while. The last—?

The last sheriff?

No. No, he died, he was sick, you know and he passed away just lately. Oh, you mean Jordan?

No, not Jordan. After Jordan.

I don't know, it's not Summerfield? It's more recent.

Not Summerfield,recent. Just recently. He used to come over here with

Bob Felton.

SS: Uh huh.

GD: You know now? Idon't know the name, but Iknow who you mean. Felton is a lawyer. I think he is prosecuting attorney now, isn't he? Not— Lara was, but now it's

GD: Larage now, he's out.

SS: Yep.

GD: And he used to fight with them, what you call the commissioners. But he didn't run. He run the last time, you see. And I think, Felton is prosecuting attorney. If I remember right, I don't know.

SS: This guy that's prosecuting attorney now he has a beard, I know that. He's a pretty young fellow.

GD: Is he?

SS: Yeah. The one who's prosecuting attorney for the county.

GD: What is his name?

SS: Ican't think of it. Well, when you say the Greeks-? You say Greeks didn't bootleg and that was because they didn't have their own homes?

GD: No, they didn't have their own homes. But the Italians had a- Onaway, too, you see. Mike Petuallo, used to be Onaway, too, he used bootleg. He was arrested, he went in the jail for couple months. But he had his own placet family too, himself, and sold it. No, the Greeks they didn't have anything to bootleg.Used to bring bottles of beer here from Spokane and he was sel ling once in a while, but not on a big scale. Would people buy from the same bottlegger all the time, if they could? Or would they buy just wherever they could get it?

Wherever they could get it, if they wanted a drink, yeah. They didn't care who they buy it from. But they knew who was handling And went over to them. Wasn't some of it a lot better than others? Iheard some of it was pret ty bad and some of it was really good, as far as quality, how good it was.

Oh, quality differed a lot. You mean whiskey?


Well, it differ. Some of it good, some of it was no good. I've heard that in Spokane that they had a lot of houses, too. Prostit ution there.

Oh, prostitution. It was wide open in Spokane, at one time. But now, Idon't think they are. 'Course Inever been in Spokane for years. I go in for business, you know, in and out. I don't know anything about it because I used to go inKfor the eye go to Spokane. And now Irvin Anderson took me, his wife , he can't drive himself. He can drive around town here, but not in Spokane. His wife is good driver. Iused to go with them. I took quite a few trips for the eye operation.! didnMr vo A. Where was the place that you gambled? Was that Durkins or was that some other place? I heard of a place called Durkins. Durkin was saloon.

Is that where you gambled?

Not only one place, they were wide open. All the saloons places of gam bling. But they even now— lately they had- they allow gambling in some places. But I don't think they do now,'course I don't know. I don't know what they do.

Well, I'm more curious about the early days. When they had prostitution would the girls just come down in the saloons? Is that where they pick up the men?

Well, no. They were in certain places.

SS: Houses, yeah.

Yeah, sure. They didn't go down in the street. Oh, there were some down in the street too, but not too many.

Is it true that they used to come down to this area from Spokane? Sometime. Sometimes fellas, you know, that knew them, and bring 'em over here. There was lot of people living here. Now it's dead. They was running two shifts over there and the machinery took the place of people, men. And there ' very many men. They used to work a thou sand or more— fifteen hundred people, you see. They had another street here, where we lived. Greeks and Italians. They called it the Internat ional Street. But they took them houses away during the War, because there nobody to rent 'em, you see. And one fella, he still here, he took a contract and he hauled 'em away, sold 'em for whatever he can get. They didn't want to burn 'em down, you see. What was the working day? Was it a ten hour day, when you were first here?

Yes, ten hours a day up to when we had that Wobbly strike, whatever they call that.

SS: The IWW.


SS: What did that do?

GD: Well, after that, - that didn't do very much, no, because it didn't last very long. They all formed the Loyal Legion of Loggers and Lumbermen, and everybody joined that, you see. And gradually they brought the eight hour work. And pretty soon— before that, we used to go down there half hour early to oil the machine. Their's was the machine to . They had to oil it themselves, and after that, why, they had a man to oil. We didn't have to do anything except when the whistle blew, you're ready to go to work, ready to get out, when the whistle at four o'clock. They had different business. It was strictly houri work. But ten hours— We work for ten hours then for two dollars a day.

SS: Two dollars a day?

GD: Yeah, I work for two dollars a day here. But they were dollars, see. Three dollars you could buy a pair of shoes, but now you can't do that. The dollar was worth something.

SS: With this ten ..hour days did you ever have overtime besides?

GD: Oh, no. No, you couldn't. They didn't have no overtime because they work ten hours, you couldn't very well have no overtime, work twelve, thirteen hours. Unless, in some places, you probably work during the holidays in the cold winter months. When the machinery froze, now there we had to work half aday in Thanksgiving day and someuLs in Christmas, to keep the thing running, you see, keep it from freezing. You mean it would freeze up if it wasn't used?

Yeah, sure, the machinery, yesIK They had conveyors, you know, chains, and pretty soon if it was frozen— if you start it when it was frozen it crystalize and it broke. They hadjjdiff erent machinery, you see, old machinery. They had aburner here where they burn the-'things they didn't want to use, slabs and things like that. Well they had trouble with that because it was clear outside, you see, the conveyor in open. It once in a while it break and they have to fix it. It was different altogether. And now, it's different altogether down there, even now, because Ihaven't been down there pretty close to twenty years, you see. I retired, and I don't know very much about it.

SS: You haven't been down to visit or see what it's like?

Well, I've been down acouple times in the early days, that is, after I retired. Since then, why, Igo down there and look. Somebody from Greece came over here and I took him down there to show him, and I had to go down, but it changed then, you see. But now, there's a lot of changes. It's unbelievable to me. Where there were three men, it's only one man and he's got buttons. You been down there in the mill?

SS: I've been at Bennett's but I've never been here at Potlatch, to see the mill. I've seen the Bennett mill in Princeton. It's smaller but it's —

GD: That's alright, that's modern mill. That's more modern than this " because they just built it. Bennett built 'em. Oh, what's his name? Boone, Boone used to own that, and since Bennett took it over, why, he remodeled. You know that man there, that head sawyer? He's the only one, and he punch buttons.

SS: When you worked a ten hour day, did you have to work all ten hours? Could you take breaks easily, or what?

No. Unless you had to go to toilet or something like that. Otherwise you work straight ten hours. But they couldn't stop you from that. They had a man that was cleaning up, you know, and he took your place. He couldn ttake body's place. It was alittle bit different then. They had two, three men cleaning up, now they don't have anybody, you see. The whistle blows and you go to smoke. They allow you ten minutes for coffee break. That's all. And you have to be there when- you know there's the whistle blows sometimes.

Uh-huh. During the two o'clock hour- two clock and ten minutes after two, you'd have to be there.

Well, did they supervise you very closely? Watch what the men did pret ty close?

Well, not very close. The foreman was a little bit different man- he watched 'em, yes, because some of the fellas, you know they lay down, nd they loosen up on their work, they didn't do their work as it should be. But he couldn't watch everybody. Yeah. Foreman was the whole thing then. He could fire and hire, but now he can't. The man he want to fire he goes to the union and complain and they have to put him back or find out the reason why he is fired. They have different now. Was that a good way of doing it, for the foreman to fire and hire when ever he wanted?

Well, it was a good and bad. Because if he— the foreman had a friend he never fired him,hed fire somebody else. But— you know— he fire him and put somebody else, that is friendly to the foreman. And that way is no good, but the Union, I think is better. Although I never did join the union when I was here. While I was working.

SS: Why not?

Well, there was different things, there was many things- Ijoined the union when they first come, the AF of L and then came the CIO and they got the bargaining agency and they wanted me to join that and I said, "No, Ididn't join that because I joined the AF of Land they lost out." But, now, of course, it's combined, the AF of Land C0 and every thing is peaceful. At that time they were fighting one another. The two, the AF of L and the cfO fought each other, huh?

DG: That's right.

Did you think the AF of L was better? Or did it make much difference? Oh, well, it's the same thing now.

I mean in those days?

Well, in those days the AF of L came first, you see, and I joined it.

And then they lost their bargaining agency and they wanted me to join the CIO, and I didn't.

SS: Well, what did you think of the IWW.

GD: Oh, well, the IWWs were radical, anyway. They didn't last long, it was too radical to exist. They were fighting against the capital, you see, and you can't do that. Because- in the mill here if IWW strike they have to break the strike and get somebody to work there, because they have to run the mill. They have to run the sawmill, you know. Did you get some of £L talk?

SS: I'm going to, the next time I see him, when I come back to see him. His wife is a very nice person, too, an interesting person.

GD: Yes, she's—

SS: You say against capital, the IWW— what do you mean?

GD: They were against the companies because they were trying to do the things that they wanted to do and that was too much. They they couldn't stand for that. Now, it's different because they agrees to some things. They don't always agree, but they have a contract. They sign a contract and they have to abide by the agreement of the contract. It's different altogether. And at that time they didn't have no contract. They didn't nothing. The IWW organize there first and they want you to— I never did join the IWW, I don't know very much about it. But, they did try to shut the mill down in Elk River there and they run 'em out. And they told 'em they either have to go to work or go to army. That was before World War I. And some did go to army I know one Greek fella there h e didn't to either the army or navy. He went to Seattle and change his name and Kthey couldn't find nothing against him.

Was the only thing he did wrong, was to be a member of the IWW? Yeah.

Did he do anything else? Try to start a strike? He just joined the strike?

He wasn't the leader. The leader went in the army. (Chuckles) And of course, after he come out of the army, he started business in— gamb ling house in Spokane. And his son, he was general manager of the horse races, where they got in Spokane. George Manos. But I heard over the radio the other day where he retired from that position and he's got some thing else now.

Is the father dead now?


Did you know him?

Oh, yeah,

He believed in the IWW, then.

He was IWW. When the IWW was defunct, there was nothing— and he didn't care anything about the IWW, because he opened a gambling house and he other business than working.

SS: What kind of a guy was he?

Oh, he was a good man. Nice fella. But he was a businessman. He was a friend- pretend to be friend. And he was friend, to a certain extent. But then, if he could he will take money away from you. You know. He was pretty good card player.

I thought the IWWs would be against businessmen. Big business, anyway. At that time, it wasn't—big business, yeah—they were in big business— you mean in the business that would employ a lot of people9

SS: Uh-huh.

Well, yeah, that's alright. But that place didn't employ very many. It was just a gambling joint.K The IWW wasn't in existence anyway after the war. And before the war it went out of existence, it joined the Loyal Legion of Loggers and Lumbermen.

Do you think what they wanted was good? The IWWs?

They wanted a little bit too much. The company wasn't ready to give it to them. Now, it's different. Now they sign a contract and they have to abide by the contract. But it isn't as strong as the IWW. Was the Loyal Legion of Loggers and Lumbermen, was that a good union? Oh, well, they— it was mostly for the company. You know, it was to keep from striking and things like that. The Loggers and Lumbermen is the predecessor of the AF of L. See, after that was defunct the AF of L come in and they sign up a lot of people. Do you think the company would have come around and given the eight hour day and improved conditions unless the union pushed them?

GD: oh well, I don't think so, no. The company wouldn't do that, but the unions did do some pushing. The company wouldn't do that, no.N They wanted the men to work ten hours so they can lumber with cheap er wages. After they got the eight hour work then they raise their wages too. To some extent. 'Course now, the AF of L is not as bad as when they first organized. They was affiliated with the AF of L and the CIO and that way they worked better.' One is not against the other and they both working together against the company, the 'employers. Like the automobile industry and so on.

Well, when you worked ten hours a day, was that very hard to do? Well, I was young man, I didn't care. It wasn't very hard for me, no. But now, of course it would be too hard. I wouldn't like to work ten hours a day now.

GD: Neither would I, but I did. It was ten hours 'over. You work in rail road ten hours and the railroad was worse than the sawmill, you see. Pick and shovel and you have to work like the heck.

SS: Like what?

GD: Well, you had to do the job, you see, work pretty hard and the boss was right there watching you. Yah, the railroad was hard work, at that time and ten hours a day. And hot. One time we work down to the Snake River down to Walla Walla and Umatillaand it was pretty hot in summer time. But at that time I was seventeen, eighteen years old. I didn't mind it so much.

SS: Did you have any way to get in out of the heat? Was there any place to go?

But of course, when I came to the sawmill here after five years after that7K1 thought it was better job here anyway, and better wages; little better, not very much. Common labor here was two dollars andrailroad's was dollar seventy-five, dollar and a half, and harder work. And they shifted from one place to the other, you know.

SS: You told me before that the bosses looked down on the men on the rail road work. What way did they do that? How did you know that they looked down?

GD: Well, I tell you, the boss at that time was— he had interpreter because he couldn't tell me to do something, I ddn't understand him, you see. And of course, the interpreter he explained it to me. He will tell the interpreter, want such and such a thing done and he come and tell the men in their own language what to do, what the boss want him to do. But the boss was right there all the time.

SS: Is that what you mean by he looked down at you? Yes, sure. That's what I mean, yes. He was watching whether you work or not. And if you don't work, he don't tell you anything, he tell the interpreter because you don't understand. Oh, yeah, it was hard, hard days, them days, on railroad and everywhere else. But, them days are gone.


For the present generation.

Those bosses, you think they were fair or did they expect too much? They were not fair because they had to do— the more they did, you see credit they get from the company. You see, and that way maybe they advance, they get raise or get a better job. And they make you work hard so they get the credit. And some of them, of course there was .un naturally devils, they were just hard men. One boss[in California, he says, "I want to see one Greek to die on the track, working." What the heck was his name? I can't remember. Anyway, he was pretty rough. I never worked in California myself, but that's what some of the fellas that come up from California was telling us. SS What would guys do? Would they work for a man like that? If he was trying to kill you?

Not exactly, but he work you to death, see. Like see one die on the tracks!! Well, they had to work because they couldn't S nothing else. And they had to work because if they didn't work, they didn't get pay, and they go hungry.

SS: What made that work harder than the sawmill work? Why was it that much harder?

Because it was shovel and pick. You had to shovel ground, you see from the tracks, from the inside of the track, and raise the track and put it under the ties. And the railroads them days were new. You had to put a lot of gravel on them;to keep them even. To keep them even and to keep them to stay, you see, when the train goes by there it won't sink. If the ground is soft the railroad would sink and the train would go out— off of the track. And if that happened, why, it is dam aging. Might hurt somebody, if it is a passenger train it probably hurt 00 many. And the company has to pay the damages. It was different, but now the railroads, now they go out of business. Them days it was the chief industry.

You mentioned something to me about you had to work in a mud slide, once? What was that?

GD: Oh, yeah. You know where Leavenworth, Washington is?

SS: Yeah.

GD: It was up in the Cascades there, in the mountains. They had a big slide. See, whole mountain came down there and they had to throw the mud and everything off and sometimes you had to put in a new track. And they come up there and got me and the other fellas from the section. You see, we working the section. And they didn't tell us where they going and what is wrong or anything, because we don't understand the English language. But they took us over there. nThey had a car that was— they 4 cook m— we got enough to eat alright, but wehave nothing to wear. We have nothing but our shoes, just pair of shoes, and the mud up to the knees. We work all night. And the next morning— I don't know, I guess we stay one night and one day—and they clean it up. They cleaned some of it, and then the others— the scraper, you know and the other machinery that we had there took over and we left— went back to the section. But the workcome by there and pick every section up, he says, "Come on." I think they had a train off the track there too. One train went off the track and down the river, I heard then . It was be fore that though. And that's what they were afraid of, you see-fcause the train to come down. But at that time there was no train anyway. The train was,oh probably away from the slide had stop. And they com municate with the depot agents and tell 'em that there is a slide in certain place and they had to stop til they fixNit or they had to go back and go another way, through different— that was the Great Northern. And go thi NP, sometimes they do that, when they have a slide or they have a broken rails or something or they take the other line. They have a agreement. I don't know what they do now, I guess they do the same thing. But there's not very many passenger trains anyway. And at that timeAeverything going by train, even the mail. They had a mail train, just for mail, four-five cars, mail cars. 'Everything stopped, let 'em go.

SS: You mentioned to me that.most of the men couldn't save much money from those wages on the—

GD: Not, much, no, not very much.

But didn't most of the people come over to make money, so they could ? Well, they did, sure, but if they couldn't make what they gonna do? They have to take whatever they can get. You know, it's a matter of finding jobs,,too. Jobs sometimes were scarce, especially in the winter-. You couldn't do very much out on the tracks. But they always did have something in the 'men in each section. The railroad is divided into sections, you see. We had section of probably six-seven miles.

SS: Six-seven miles?

GD: Yeah. And it was our responsibility to keep it in shape. And another six-seven miles it is another section. But now, they have more than sixseven miles. Now they probably have two-throa sections here on this line and at that time they have seven or eight. Now they got one in Palouse and one in Potlatch and one in Bovill. Them days we had handcars to go to work and back. You know what handcar is? Have you seen one?

SS: Uh-huh.

GD: They don't have 'em now, do they? No. But I've seen— maybe it's just pictures. But I've seen 'em maybe in the movies, pump.

Oh, yeah. That what we had, handcars.They didn't have machinery— gas line to

Were the section foremen better to work for, than the railroad foremen? Well, they're all the same. Section foreman he is some— some were nice fellas and some were not. Some section men was— we work one time in the wintertime, and we couldn't do very much, we just get out there and just enough to be out there. It spark sometime so you watch the track there andbuckle the railroad sometime, you know, go over it. We didn't do very much in the winter because that section was fixed in the summertime. And in the wintertime,kept two men in each section. And while I was there, they had— we had to up the lamps for the switches. You know they had oil lamps there to put on the switches. They are red and green. Each time you turn the switch open it turn red and when you close it turn green, all clear to go-ahead. And we had to CAyry them.

SS: Do you think most of the men were disappointed that they couldn't get better jobs; make more money?

GD: 0h well, that is natural for everybody. You know, you be disappointed that you can t. But there are someTsatisfied with what they get or what they're getting. You know, they had to be 'cause they couldn't get any thing else. And they couldn't talk the language, that's another obstacle there. And, oh, they had to be satisfied. They couldn't speak English and they couldn't get a job. The reason for us, that we stay in section was that they kept us there to watch the line. And, of course, I could understand a little bit English then, not very much. But, young man,I can speak few words, but some of the older fellas they couldn't speak one word, couldn t understand what the boss wanted. Some of the bosses patience they had a lot of , some of 'em, in the sections, because they had to show you and if you couldn't understand, they had to make you understand by motions, you see. And it was pretty hard. There was no interpreter in the sections?


The crew was too small.

The crew was two men or four men. When I was there, there was four men because there was two sections, one was going east the other west, and six miles each way. Well, six or ten miles, I don't know don't remember.

They had a section house for the foreman and for the men. Some foremen were married men, they had families. And one foreman on a double sec tion there, they only had one section house and he had to stay at the hotel. There was one place there that there was one hotel, one grocery, section house and station, the depot. And maybe a few farmers around there. You know, it was isolated place. The name of that place was Adrian on the— I don't think that exist anymore.

SS: Is that in Washington?

GD: No Yeah yeah it was in Washington. Yeah it was near Ephrata,about ten miles from there, west-A east. And I don't know— In Soap Lake there was only one hotel, and it was open in the summertime, only, and nothing else. But now, they tell me, that it's a big town there.

SS: Well, you guys slept in the section house Was that very good? Were the lodging pretty good there?

GD: Oh, well, we had our own bedding, you know. We had to use our own bed ding. They didn't have no bedding or anything. We had to build our own bunks and everything else. In some sections they have other fellas build them, you know. But in others we had to build our own. What was the section house then? Was it just a bunkhouse? Yeah.

That's all it was?

That's all. But in wintertime we had a stove there and we kept warm. Only one room house. It was not very— no water, you had to get the wat er from outside. Even the foreman's house was without water, they had the water out in the pump.

Was the foreman's house just for the one man and his family? Or for—? Yeah, he had a family, thatffella did, he had a family. But, I don't know how— they got along alright, I guess. They had to, because that situation existed all over. Like the farm houses. They didn't have nothing— no water inside. They were not modern, like they are now. All they had was a place to sleep in and to cook and so on. And the water was outside. They didn't have no water piped into the house at that time. Sixty years ago. I live sixty years here in Potlatch. It's even more.

And five years— but sixty-five years ago.

Could you guys go to town during the winter?

GD No. Well, we could go to town if we— if they spare the handcar,pump the car and go to town. But we did go into town once in a while if we had something to buy, because they didn't have everything in that lit tle store over there, you see. One store with one man with a great big mustache over there, and he had enough, all we needed, you know. I don't remember whether there was a meat market there or not. But I think we getting the meat maybe from Ephrata once a week. And in one place Non the Snake River there we couldn't get no meat nor anything. We could get the meat but it spoiled before it was so hot, you know. You couldn't use it. You probably could use it once, that's all. And we had to use ham or potatoes and — or something else, whatever we had. No meat. No fresh meat

SS: If you went into town, did people feel out of place in a small town, because they couldn't speak English? Yeah. You did. They look upon us, you know, like— well, they taw that we couldn't speak English— So one fella there he come over to— there was a gang of men, oh, about thirty men and he went over there to the foreman and he asked him if he speak English. "Yes," he said. He thought it was one of us, you know. (Chuckles) And they start talking.

Would they try to communicate with you, or did they— the people ignore you?

They ignore you mostly because they know that you couldn't speak English. And you avoid them, too. Because you couldn't talk to them. Even here in the mill, when I first came here in the mill, the fellas, you know we could communicate better by signs than we could by talking. What was these interpreters — did they— were they very helpful, or did they take advantage of the men? What were they like?

GD: Interpreters?

SS: Yeah.

GD: The mens like us, you know. They didn't take no advantage of anything. Their job was to interpret the language. They thought that they were somebody because they could speak a few words English. But otherwise, they were alright. Our interpreter from the same town, back there in Greece. He was from the same town, you know. He came from the same place and we knew him well. He was here for a few years before we did, and he could speak few words. But some of the interpreters they couldn't fully understand what the boss tell them anyway. It was a matter of how much they knew.

Well, this man who was the interpreter from your hometown— how did you hook up with him?

Oh, by corresponding. We were in Spokane, you see. They all kind of got together there in the employment offices. They wanted a gang of so many men, thirty men or forty men for a certain place. First you go there and ask them if the job is openand of course, the interpreter, he was with us too. He took the job. And the men to the work. And if we went there and didn't like it, we quit that job and go someplace else. Not always. If the boss was pretty rough, you know, he wanted too much work, we get together there and tell him that he either have to slow down a little or we quit. Sometimes we did quit; go someplace else. Depending on how the work was, you know. If there was plenty of work, if there wasn't we had to stick with it.

SS: Could the boss threaten to fire the crew, too? Did he ever do that?

GD: No.

SS: SaY "If you don't work harder, I'm gonna fire you!!"

No. They didn't do that. They did try to fire some at one time, and they all got together you see, and they say if they fire him, vie all go. See, we stuck together that way, mostly. Unless the man was worthless. He wasn't worthy of the company, why, well they let him go. Because they could lose their own job for the sake of one man. You did stick up for each other though?

Oh, yes. Mostly.

What part of the group that you worked with on the railroads— what part of them came from DedemaN? From your hometown? What part of them came from your town? Of the whole crew?

GD: Most of 'em.

SS: Most of 'em?

GD: Uh-huh.

How did it happen that all the folks from your hometown stuck together like that?

Well, we did sttick together because we came to Spokane and we knew this Interpreter, and we asked him if he would take us to— you find work for us, and we all go together. And he look around the employment offices where they wanted men and that way it worked alright. And, of course, maybe a few from other places that we know, we knew them, and we says Take them, too." But most of 'em were from the same outfit— the same town. One time I decided to stay away from the greeks altogether and I got a job on the Bull Run— You know where Bull Run is?

SS: Near Portland?

GD: Yes. And I got a job in construction work, they were building a dam— a pipeline for water for the dam. And I stayed there, I don't know how long, I don't remember. But I was all alone. I didn't have no Greek or anybody, they were all Americans. There was a boardinghouse there, of course, and everything else. And I stayed there for quite a while. The boss one time, he asked me, he says, "What nationality are you?" I told him. I -Md hmGreek. "Oh, I thought you Scandivanian." I says, "No." There was no Greek light haired, you know. My hair was light then, you know, I had hair then. (Chuckles) I wasn't bald!! He says, "I thought you was a Scandivanian." I says, "No." I could talk a few words English, you see. And I says "I am going to try go with the Americans to learn to talk the English language." Well, of course, there were some Mexicans there, too.

SS: How well did you get by there?

GD: by alright. I wasn't speaking too much. If somebody started to talk to me, I answered what I could, and that's all. I didn't stay too long. It was about three-four months.

SS: Could you make friends in a place like that?

GD: No" No 1 couldn't because I didn't talk very much; I couldn't. Couldn't talk very much, and I was kinda staying behind, you see. Staying alone, and that got a little bit too lonesome. It was alright while I was work ing because I was working almost alone. I had a job— they had big there, you know, where the ditch was built and the crane or the shovel that they had there, it wouldn't lift too heavy. And I had what they call them— singlejack— you know what singlejack is? A hammer.

Yeah, hammer and—


Not chisel, but drill. Hammer and drill and holes in them. And they blast them with dynamite, and blast:+hn. fc pi£. and they hauled 'em away with the shovel— steam shovel.

So in the evening when you weren't working is when you got lonesome. I didn't get one that could be friendly. They speak to you for a while and if they find out that you don't speak the English or you don't und erstand 'em, well, they leave you alone. And see how it is? Oh, some of 'em, they'd call and speak to you, you know, but not to carry on con versation for too long. So Iquit. You seem to be ' well posted in geography, I see that you knew where Bull Run was. Did you work Around there?

I lived in Portland for a while. I know Portland pretty good. The country around there. You know that's where they get the main water for Portland now, is from Bull Run. That's the main water supply for the city. So you must have been working on putting that supply in. They put in a big reservoir and the pipe goes all the way into the city. They closed that area off, they don't let people in there, because they're afraid of a fire would ruin the watershed in the summer.

Well, they were building a pipelinefor some reason. I don't know what it was.

I think it must have been for the city of Portland.

GD: Well, maybe.

SS: It's not too far from the city.

No. No. Oh, I can remember, but it's close, not too far. I just was curious about why— why did you decide to leave the people that you knew in the first place?

GD: Well,-(chuckles)

SS: You got tired of them?

GD: No, just try to be alone once in a while and see what will happen. I just tried to go alone and see how it is like to be among Americans. And, of course, Pretty good job there. They didn't bother me very much. I was doing my work as far as pounding the singlejack.

SS: You mean, you did more work than most of the men? Heavier work?

GD: Well, yes, yes and no. Well, yes. I did a lot of work. I rode the skipper and everything else. Cement work.

SS: What's that? Rode the skipper?

GD: For section work, you know where they have skippers, they fill 'em with the dirt and they had a man to ride over and unhook 'em to dump the contents, the dirt. And I was riding that. As soon as we fill her up why I grab the chain over there and went on. And in cement work, too. But the cement, they had a rope when they dump the cement. They open tih.e, ibi.g scoop and then dump«Nit. I worked as a signalman, too. Signaled where-ft And one time, I made a mistake and he come down and bawled me out. Oh, boy, that feller— he was mad. Well, I didn't tell him anything, because I couldn't talk English. (Chuckles)

SS: The signal? What you did wrong that the man got made at you? You say the foreman got made that you gave the wrong signal.

GD: I don't remember why I did give him the wrong signal. Hepretty near have an accident, you see. And he came down the shaft,oh, about a hun dred feet, he came down there and he shook his finger at me. He was tel ling me— well, he was pretty darn made, I know that. But I didn't say nothing to him, and he didn't dare hit me because he was a man about my size, and if he hit me, I probably hit him back. (Chuckles)

But you didn't know what you did wrong even then? No, I forgot. There was something— You knew then what it was?

Yah, sure. I didn't know enough to apologize to him, you see. I could n't talk enough to quiet him down. I couldn't apologize to him, so we just let it go at that. I was pretty careful the next time! Oh, yes I worked all over. I worked on the cement work building a dam down at Portland. You know where?

SS: I don't think so. Is it near Portland?

GD: Yah- Let's see, we build a dam there. And that's the Portland Light and Power Company.

SS: Oh, okay.

GD: There's another dam out there, but I can't remember. You know where that is?

SS: No, but I've heard the name. Were most of these jobs— were there other friends of yours along with you?

GD: Yeah, one cousin of mine. We worked together, in all this cement work. There were lots of Greeks from different places, you know. We know them, we got acquainted when we got there.

SS: But it wasn't the old group from

GD: The railroad? No. What happened? Did you work on the railroad the first few years?

GD: Nive years.

SS: And then after that you did other work? Is that it? No. Flve years, came to Potlatch and I stayedf Five years

GD: Kind of see. And they kept, oh, I don't know how many, he kept some. But after it was all through we got laid off.

SS: Were any of these jobs much higher paying than the railroad?

GD: Sure.

SS: Some of these were good paying jobs?

GD: I worked in White Salmon, you know where White Salmon is? Wash ington, I think. Cross the river from Was the whole crew from your hometown, did they still work on the rail road?

Yeah it wasn't the same crew. There was different crews down there at Portland. I was with my cousin, bunch of fellows from different places, you know. Not very far from the hometown, about sixty miles, I think. And when you talk the language you can get acquainted pretty fast.

SS: If y°u would go back to work on the railroad, you wouldn't go back to the same old crew you were on before?

GD: No. Not down there in Portland. Well, the crew split— from down there in Ephrata they took us down to Chehalis, and we work while there.ta Wer putting in double tracks at that time, and it was in the wintertime it was muddy, it was terrible. So we worked there a while and then— In wintertime it got pretty muddy, we quit, the whole bunch and went to Portland. That's when I went to this construction work. That was in 1911. From one construction to the other and, I went back railroad, I worked on the Beltline, they call it. is a little branch line that goes up to the apple belt. They grow the apples

SS: Uh-huh.

GD: But more so in nd Iworked on that there for a while.

Were you just going to where the best money was, the best jobs? The only job at that time. That was the only job, you see. Some fella found the work and they need couple more men, and myself and my cousin went over two cousin I had from y' ..

My two cousins they were in Silverton, Oregon for many, many years. They die now. One of 'em was married and had three boys. Two boys with his first wife and one boy with the second. He married two times. Pretty good man. But he died, and he was a younger man than I. They were two brothers. His brother died before him and he was the oldest. And I worked there too in Silver on railroad. That was logging road. It wasn't much of a railroad but they were hauling logs, that's all for the Stiver Falls timber company. The mill was in Silverton. What was your job there?

On the railroad.

Were you saving money on all these different jobs? Or were you just sorta just spending it as you made it?

GU: (Chuckles) You couldn't save very much. Because, you work for a while and then you quit, and you go to town and you stayfor awhile. And you spend money in town. And then you get another job. Well, I did save a little bit, enough to send my father back to Old Country. Because he was too old to work.

SS: Was the working I give him some money when he left because he couldn't— four hundred dol lars. Four hundred dollars is a lot of money them days. All I had, that's all I had, I give it to him to go back to the Old Country. When you made money — when you had money like that, did you just keep it with you? All that money?

Yes. Yes. Now if I Went to portland the bank. But when I was traveling from one place to the other I kept it with me. And, of course, when I came to Spokane, why, — let's see I came to Potlatch in 1914 from the railroad, branch line of Hepner Junc tion. You know where Hepner is?

SS: Uh-huh.

I work over there for quite a whileat Hepner and they laid us off, I and my brother. And then I had three cousins here and not from the same town but they were cousins, you see. And I kept corresponding with them and they say to come on. So I came from Hepner Junction I came to Col fax and from Colfax to Moscow on one coach. One coach, it was from Colfax to Moscow. I don't remember whatcoach was for, but that's all there was, just one coach. And it wasun by electricity. We came to Palouse from Moscow on electric train. At that time, I think they run electric line from Moscow to Spokane. I don't remember what that was.

SS: Was that the Inland Electric or the Spokane?

GD: I think it was the Inland.

SS: Yeah, I think so.

GD: It was the Inland. I don't remember. But anyway we came in Palouse and Palouse at that time was run — they run a train from Palouse to Bovill. You see Washington, Idaho and Montana, this railroad here, they intended when they built that to run into Montana, but they didn't. They went up toNBovill and then they connected with the Milwaukee, because the Milwaukee came from Eastto St. Maries and then from St. Maries to Bovill and they didn't have to build their own line? A lot of stockholders they own the Milwaukee, and that's why they called this Washington, Idaho and Montana.

I wanted to ask you about your father, too. You were saying that he was— he got too old. Was the work over here hard on him because of his age?

GD: Oh, yeah. Sure it was. He couldn't work on railroad. No, he couldn't work. We had him as a waterboy, see in the gang of men. And that's all he was doing. He was carrying water. They had what they called waterboy, twenty-thirty men, you know. And he couldn't do any other work, it was too hard for him. There was bunch fellas' and they wrote me he was in Spokane and I was in Portland, I was working in White Salmon. I gave him money to go to the Old Country. (loud whistle) War between the Balkan States and Greece, you see. And there lot of young fellas left from here, they went to war. But I had sent the old man, they kid me, you know when I come to Spokane, they say you send your old man to fight in the war. I say "Yeah." (Chuckles)

And they went together, you see, had a company. It s been a pretty rough lif e,A but here in Potlatch— I settled here and I made a little money. But I went back to Greece in 1962 or '61. And I found my sister there a widow and two kids. And she was in pretty bad shape. And I help 'em. So, now, it's too late to make money. And the inflation took quite a bit. I had one house next to this here, that's where I was living before, and when I came back I buy this one here and it cost me twice as muchto remodel it. You see, inside was nothing. And it cost me twice as much as it cost me for that, because wages were high and materials were high. And I bought a car in Moscow, that cost me a couple thousand dollars, and I can't drive it now, I have to sell it. If I can get anything out of it, I don't know. Because it's old, you know. '59 model. Have you seen it?

SS: Is it out front?

GD: No, no, it's in the garage.

SS: No.

GD: A Catalina.

SS: You should be able to sell it.

GD: Pontiac Catalina. Only thirty-five, thirty-six thousand miles. I never drove it very much.

You should be able to sell and get a good price, if it's got low mileage. Well, they look at the model, you see.

SS: Yeah.

GD: And if you go to sell it to a garage they wouldn't give you much.

SS: No, sell it to a person. They wouldn't give you nothing anyway. Idon't know what it's worth now, old model.

Had your father been here very long before he went back to the Old Country? Yes. He has been here before I was. He came here in 1907 and left in 1912. Seven to twelve is five years, isn't it? Could he work when he first came over pretty good? No, not very well. But he could get by, you know, with other men, from the same town. He got worse-I don't remember how old he was. But back in Old Country, he never work, you see, he had a little store there and he was a businessman.

SS: What kind?

GD: It's mixed there, you know-all kinds of things. Few clothing, and so on and so forth. Do you know why To make money. Oh, that's it, to make money? But he found that to make money is not easy here, it is not growing in the trees. You see, you gotta work here.

SS: Do you think a lot of people thought that same thing? They could come over and just make money easily.

GD: Come over, and could make money and go back. That's what I thought, but when I came here, I found out different. And I decided that I'll never go back anyway. But I did, go back on visit. And it cost me plenty. In the lasf go blind I don't know what I'm gonna do then.

SS: What do you mean, if you live two, three more years, that's all? Well, eighty-three years old and in two, three years I be eighty-six. Getting too old to live longer. 'Course some live to be ninety, hundred. I saw one man, old fellafrom Moscow, he was hundred and four years old. He came to Boise from Ohio, well, of course, he had somebody with him, he travel alone "went back when he was a hundred years old and he went back and lived pretty near four more years and died. He used to tel1 us about the old times walk-on that black dirt between Moscow and Colfax. He used to walk theyhatftno automobiles, they had buggies, but he didn't have one and he had to walk. And the government sent him to away to teach English. Well, he didn't like it there and he came back and he went back to Ohio. I don't know how— why he went to Ohio, but that's where he died. Pretty nice old fella.

Do you think, Gus, that people had a very good chance to really get ahead and get ahead quite a bit?

Was some— some people— by working you can't get ahead, you see. Just make a living, that's all. If you're in a business, you might get ahead. Now, one fella, a Greek fella, and he wasn't educated for anything, but he went from here, went to Spokane and he got in a business there in that clubhouse there and he lost all he had. He went back to work in the saw- mill and made few dollars and went to Seattle and got into a partner ship with another fella. There was one place there that was ready to bust, you see, and he went in there and he was lucky that the war start ed at the same time and he got out of there hundred thousand dol lars, believe it or not. I saw it with my own eyes. And he wasn't smart, or anything, he just had a business there, because by working you can't make no money. You have to save it, and still, you know, you don't get ahead. But there were a lot of Greek fellas that went into business and they made money, others lost.

SS: is it just luck that makes a person win or lose?

GD: Well, I think so. Oh, you have to have a little experience in business, but that fella didn't have nothing, no experience, but he was pretty tight with his money and he made it. He went back to Greece and got married and he came to New York and I don't know what happened, He bought a apartment house, over there. You know apartment house get a lot of guys that won't hardly move from there, you know. And I guess he— it was really apartment house for anybody, and 'course his wife was I don't know what happened, I lost track of him.

SS: Would a little bit of money in the United States go a long ways in Greece? For men to go back? In the early days?

SS: in the early days, yes. But now, everything is the same. You buy one pair of pants or one suit of clothes, you may have to pay a little cheaper but not very much. Because everything over there now is based on the dollar. On the price of dollar. And they don't manufacture anything there anyway ±t all comes from— you get from England or France or United States, and they can't affort to sell it any cheaper than they sell it here, because they have to pay the price to buy it. And now the dollar is the basis of all currencies in Europe, and especially in Southern Europe. 'Course Greece is small country does not produce anything, you have to import most everything and they have no export. They don't raise nothing to sell, exchange, you know. But at first, years ago, they used to have something, they had all the raisins, they raise the raisins be fore they start raising thei California. They raise the raisin fi:rom Greece, you see. They sell to the United States and theyget money. They were getting pretty good price. But now, they raise everything in California; raisins, olive oil, olives and things, you knowthey raise there. They don't get nothing here because California raises everything.

1:00 - Crap shooting in Potlatch, gambling in Spokane

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Segment Synopsis: Crap shooting in Potlatch, gambling in Spokane.

97:00 - Bootlegging, gambling, and prostitution in Onaway, also came to Potlatch

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Segment Synopsis: Bootlegging by Italians in Onaway. Gambling in saloons. Prostitutes had houses, also came to Potlatch.

17:00 - Ten hour days reduced to eight after Wobbly strike; work half days during holidays; automation and reduction of work force

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Segment Synopsis: Ten hour day (for $2) gradually reduced to eight after Wobbly strike. Men had to come half hour early to oil their machines. They had to work a half day on holidays to stop machinery from freezing. He has been to mill only a few times in last twenty years; automation and reduction of work force.

24:00 - The only breaks they had were to use the toilet; foremen watched workers closely; favoritism among the workers; IWW's were too radical

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Segment Synopsis: The only breaks were to go to the toilet. Foremen watched to see that men did work; they favored friends at work, and might fire others. He wouldn't join CIO when they took over because he belonged to the AFL. IWW's were too radical, fighting against capital.

30:00 - IWW's wanted too much; Elk River strikers given choice of return to work or enlist into army

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Segment Synopsis: IWW's wanted too much, had no contracts; nowadays the unions and companies sit down and agree. At Elk River strikers were given the choice of returning to work or going into the army. One man went to Seattle and changed his name. A strike leader went into the army, then started a gambling house in Spokane; he was a businessman. The 4-L's was a company union, to keep men from striking. The company wouldn't have improved conditions on their own. AFL and CIO work better together.

39:00 - Working ten hour day; working on the railroads; foremen used interpreters; work or go hungry; railroad crews

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Segment Synopsis: Working ten hour day. Hard work on the railroads. Hot work in summer. Foremen used interpreters to give instructions; the more work they got from men, the more credit from the company. One boss said he wanted to see "one Greek die". Work or go hungry. What railroad crews did. Bad work on a mudslide.

52:00 - Men couldn't save money; railroad section was six or seven miles; section work in winter

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Segment Synopsis: Men couldn't save money, and had no choice but work. Each railroad section was six or seven miles. Section work in winter. Men had to be satisfied with what they got. In section crews foremen had no interpreters.

61:00 - Section house and "town" at Adrian, WA; no fresh meat; no contact with townspeople cause they couldn't speak English

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Segment Synopsis: Section house and "town" at Adrian, Wash, (near Ephrata). No fresh meat in hot summer. No contact with townspeople because they couldn't speak English.

70:00 - Interpreters thought they were special for speaking a little English

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Segment Synopsis: Interpreters were fine except in thinking they were special because they spoke a little English. Their interpreter was from hometown, and they met him in Spokane. Threatening to quit when the boss worked men too hard. The crew supported every member unless he was a worthless worker. The crew was mostly from his hometown and worked together.

77:00 - Working away from his countrymen at Bull Run, Oregon; lonely

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Segment Synopsis: He worked construction without any of his countrymen at Bull Run, Oregon. He was lonely there because he knew no English so people didn't speak to him. He wanted to experience what it was like to be among Americans.

85:00 - Riding the skipper on construction work

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Segment Synopsis: He rode the skipper on construction work. He gave the wrong signal once and another worker got furious at him, but he couldn't reply in English. Other work.

90:00 - His father returned to Greece; Work brought him to Potlatch

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Segment Synopsis: Working at various jobs. It was hard to save money. He gave his father his savings of $400 to return to Greece. Deciding to come to Potlatch. (Why WISM Railroad didn't go to Montana.) All his father was able to do was be a waterboy for his gang; he was too old to work. Young Greeks went back to fight in war against Bulgaria; he was teased about sending his father back to fight.

106:00 - Visiting family in Greece; inflation ruins savings; father ran a little store in Greece

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Segment Synopsis: When he visited sister in Greece she was a widow and needed help. Inflation ruins his savings. Father got help from his crew. In Greece father ran a little store. Father thought he could make money here, but he was wrong. Living too long.

115:00 - People get ahead through business more easily than work

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Segment Synopsis: People can get ahead through business, but not by working. A successful Greek who worked in the mill and got lucky in business.

119:00 - The exchange rate in Greece was no longer favorable

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Segment Synopsis: American money is no longer worth a lot more in Greece, Greece has little to trade--raisins are now grown in California.


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