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This conversation with EUGENE SETTLE took place at his home in Moscow, Idahoon January 13, 1976. The interviewer is SAM SCHRAGER.
ES: It showed a picture of a— 6sign was made of tin- and it has tackedup on a fence between our place and school and it was a train and a fella running to catch the train with a suitcase and said, "Going to the Boston." But, I never did know just where the Boston store was. And then reading some memoirs of Earl David, that founded the David's store here, his memoirs, and in that he said— he spoke about that Williamson taking over the Boston store. In other words, what was Williamson when I was a kid when I%len I got Moscow, that was the old Boston.
SS: Oh, I was going to ask you, when you came to town with your father,what did he do in town besides get groceries? Did he go visit, spend time talking to people?
ES: No. Oh, just like any other farmer, why, he'd buy groceries, then ifhe— of course he was always visiting on the corners. Course, my father was never a guy to hang around — he'd never hang around the poolhalls or Pasttime like that. When I was a little kid and I used to come to town with my dad, we used to come in— and of course, David's Store there,. side door there on Third Street— that's where they had a grocery store there—and my folks always did all their trading there, we'd always go in there and they always had these big potin the early day, bellied stoves in there, you know, and had a good fire in there and in the wintertime we'd go in there and get warm, and get the groceries. You could get about everything you wanted in there. But David's was the main place»fae went. And then, in the later years, he always— Ralston's store there— the Moscow Grocery, that's where he went. He always traded with the Relstons. But that's the way it was. He'd just come to town to buy groceries, and of course, he'd always find somebody to visit with. But her' never was no hand, as I say, to hang around poolhalls or anything like that. He never did that. Of course a lot of 'em would. Come to town and they'd go to the poolhall and and get warm and some of 'em liked to play cards, and some of 'em play cards and such something as that, pool or like that. See, when I was a kid there was about— one, two, — there was about four poolhalls in Moscow then,with card where tables, the farmers used to gather when they come to town in the wintertime.
SS: Did you know the Pasttime?
ES: Yes, oh, yes.
SS: Did you used to go in there when you were young?Es: Yeah, I used to go in there when I was a young man. That was my hang- out. Well, even after were first married, I'd come to town in the wintertime, I'd always go to the Pasttime. They always had a good fire there and they always had a lunch counter there so you could go there and get your lunch and get warm. Then I'll tell you another thing about the Pasttime- if there was anybody you wanted ifs 'd and hang around there to see, why, you go to the Past soon he'd come in. It the was sure quite a gathering place for^farmers. It's a place that nev you could always closed. And they always had a good fire there,^get warmy And evthere erybody that come to town— farmers come to town— why, as soon as he got his team taken care of, why, he'd strike out for the Pasttime. He'd get warm, get him a hot cup of coffee, and all his friends'd be there. If you were looking for anybody, go to the Pasttime, he'd soon be in there.
SS: What made that the most popular place?
ES: Well, I'll tell you, it was a good place to warm, before there was toomany cars, you know. Well after cars, fellas come in there, drive— just like we was out there— ten or twelve miles to town, or ten miles to town with a sled and a team—first thing you'd want you know, you'd want to go to a place and warm up. And, as I say, they had a big lunch counter there and they had lots of pool tables— I think they had about five pool tables— and I don't know how many card tables they had. And some of those old farmers they like to play rummy— and what|else did they play?
SS: Did they play poker?
ES: No, they didn't play no poker. Well, I don't know if they ever did.of games They might in early days, had poker in the saloons, I don't know, that was before my time, if they were, I don't remember nothing about that.
SS: But the Pasttime that was during Prohibition, wasn't that?
ES: Yeah, that's right. Yeah, they had a confectionery counter there andlunch counter. And as I say, card tables or pool tables and toilets and so forth.
SS: Were there any other places in Moscow to go, if a guy wanted to?
ES: Oh, yes. There was a Shorty O'Connor, used to run a pool place, thekind, same and then Robbins had one. They was all smaller places, and then there at the corner of the Moscow Hotel where their bar is now, that was— I think that was just billiards.
SS: Did you shoot pool?
ES: Some, but not too much. My brother, next to me, three yearsyounger than I am, he was quite a pool player. 1 played some but I never played very much pool. I played a little rummy.
SS: Well, when you were a young man, what would you do for entertainment?
ES: Well, when I was a kid—
SS: Old enough to go out.
ES: Until after we moved over here at town, of course, we lived— Istarted high school after we got here, I went to high school. But when we was over in the country there, why then we had— we played baseball, and after we moved to town here, why, of course, we didn't do too much, as I say— in the wintertime we took in basketball games at the high school and the University and such as that. And go back and forth over to Pullman'followed the school sports. In the winter time that's what our biggest thing was in the wintertime — pasttime was in the wintertime—. And we did quite a bit of hunting.
SS: Did you go to movies?
ES: Yeah, we went to movies. Yes, that's right, we went to movies, too,quite a bit. Pretty near every weekend— went to movies probably about once a week, and sometimes more than that, when we was kids. Lots of Saturday nights we" go downtown and go to the movies. We used to do that. And another thing in the wintertime, we had quite a stock out on the ranch, had a sleigh and we used to take sleighing parties on the weekends, out there. That was a big deal for usA Take like when I was in high school, we used to take university kids over to Pullman and back and forth,or just go out for a couple three hours drive on a sleigh ing party.
SS: What would you do for that? Just hook up a cutter to the ?
ES: We had a bobsled. Had the big sled and probably put a hayrack on itthese university kids, they'd and put some straw in it, get their own blankets and get in there; five or six couple and they usually where they wanted to go and we used to take 'em. That's how we made quite a bit of spendingmoney that way in the winter months. Seemed like we always had something to do. And if we didn't, why, week, ends, if we didn't have nothing to do weekends, why, we, . as I say; we did 'a lot of hunting. I just had a letter from an old friend, a kid that kind of grew up with us, we've known a long time. He lives upat Kellogg. And he wrote the other day me a letter and he got to talking about the fun we used to have on weekends hunting on this Paradise tyill over here and up on the Moscow Mountain. And he said about my brother— he was climbing up a bank and my brother had a shotgun and he got the end of the barrel full of snow and he never noticed it, and I don't know what he shot at, I think it was a snowshoe rabbit, and it just blowed the end of the bar rel, just belled it out just about two inches, you know. Just swelled the end of the barrel out there— it looked like a bell. (Chuckles) It had that snow in the end of the barrel.
SS: Would you guys go out and camp out? Or would you just go out for theday?
ES: Just for the day.
SS: Did you usually get something?
ES: Oh, no, we just did a lot of hiking We never got much. Sometimeswe'd get a— in the wintertime we probably killed a snowshoe rabbit or two. And sometimes we'd get a shot at a coyote. But we enjoyed hiking.
SS: You went afoot?
ES: Oh, yeah, , we went afoot. Then when we was teenagers way outthere in the country, we all had saddle horses and lots of Saturdays us'd out saddle horses we'd get— four or five of. get and we'd ride into town and just ride around town. Didn't have money enough to go to the show, just ride around town and back. Just to pass the time away.
SS: I was thinking that we've talked quite a bit about other things, butwe haven't talked about the farming that you did. You did mention that it wasn't all that long and you didn't think it was all that great, but you did farm for some time.
ES: Oh, yes , we farmed, and I were married in '24, farmed up tilI guess it was about '37, I guess.
SS: That long?
SS: What did you have to start with when you farmed?
ES: Well, had two hundred and forty acres of land rented. And I had eightor ten head of horses and farming outfit, same as anybody else. Before I quit I traded my horses off and got a small tractor— I used a trac tor the last few years I was farming. Had a little tractor. Small one. I think farming was a pretty good life, myself. I liked to farm. I liked the stock. I liked to fool with stock. We farmed, my wife and I— 'course we got married in the Depression and we had pret- Wheat was cheap ty tough sledding. That's one reason we quit the farm, and then after we quit the farm then World War II broke out, and things went up. We just missed it, we should have stayed with it. We talk about it quite a bit, I tell the wife I wish I'd a stayed with it, wish we'd a a little longer. But she thinks we stayed with the farm turned out pretty good the way it was.
SS: You say you started in a depression, you mean the one after World War Iand the farm prices were down?
ES: Yeah, uh-huh. We started farming in '24, and that was right after WorldWar I. depression. And then when we quit farming— we quit just before World II broke out.
SS: You said to me once before that the equipment that was coming in wasmaking it bsrder for small farmers with horses.
ES: Yes, yes, it was. The last part of my farming, the tractors were coming in. And a lot of the farmers that was able, pretty good sized farms, they'd buy tractors, you know, and then they was making it pret ty hard for a fellow that was farming with horses to lease land then, you know, everybody wanted to lease to a fellow that had a tractor because he could get the work in quicker than a fellow could with horses. I really don't know how we did get our work did with horses though. They got it in, the crops, but they'd do it so much faster with a tractor. Well, when I quit farming that was the beginning of the end of the little farmer. When I started farming there was lots of farmers— about a hundred and sixty and eighty acre farms. But you don't see those any more. Less it's right close to town or something like that, but there were lots of farmers that— lots of eighty acre farms and a hundred and sixty acre farms when we started farming, but now— But after they got the tractors, why then— the big farmer got bigger and they just pushed the little farmer clear out.
SS: Did you see that happening yourself?
ES: Yes, I see it happening just before the time that we quit farming,it was the same way now. I farmed two hundred and forty acres, we farmed that for quite a while,' and then I lost that to a fella that had a tractor; I lost that place to him. And then we bought a hundred and sixty. And the fella at the bank that I had this— that I bought this hundred and sixty acres from, he had another hundred and sixty acres about two miles from where I lived what bought. It didn't have no buildings on it, 4md he was gonna let me have that, but the fella that was farming it was in debt to him pretty bad and he said soon as he got out of debt I could have that. But all around me there— got all big farmers— these that got tractors they took the farming land. So that was pretty hard for a fellow^farming with horses to lease any land.
SS: Well, with a hundred and sixty acres of land; that's what you werefarming then, when you had your place.
ES: Yeah, yes.
SS: Was it hard to make a living with that and horses?
ES: Yes. Well, I'll tell you, if a fella, if he had his land clearedand he farmed a 160 acres with horses and had him a few cows and diversified, and a few hogs, why, he make a living on it. Where he didn't have to depend on wheat and oats alone, you know. Had a few milk cows and raised hogs on the side, a few beef, something like that, a fella could make a pretty good living there for a small family. But, as I say, that's harder work than where you just straight grain farm.
SS: Is that what you did? Did you have cattle and hogs too?
ES: Yeah. We had a few cattle and a few hogs.
SS: Do you remember very well what happened when the depression hit here.
ES: Yeah, I remember it pretty well. Yeah, I remember the Depressionpretty well.
SS: What would you say the kind of effect it had on people around here?
ES: Well, "there was no money. The banks were all closed, practically.There was no money, available. And of course, a lot of the poor far mers worked on WPA—You might've heard of it. This was before your time. Worked on WPA— oh, I never did though. I never did. And I took wheat down to Lewiston, down to Asotin, there was a flour mill down there— We took wheat down there and got our own flour; got our We got by that way. own wheat made into flour. .Then they had substitutes. We couldn't have only so much flour anyway. And before that they had substitutes, they had barley flour and oh— You couldn't buy this and you couldn't that. And you couldn't buy gasoline, 'course there wasn't
SS: This was in the Depression? You couldn't buy— you could only get somuch flour ground?
ES: You wasn't supposed to have only such much flour ground.
ES: No, you couldn't have only just so much. Course, some farmers hada lot of it, that got it and buried it up in the haybarn in the hay so they wouldn't catch with 'em with it? Than they was supposed to have. 'Course, we was supposed to eat substitutes, see. Barley flour and I don't know what all there was, but I know they was sub stitutes. But when we was farming, then it 'e was Just Stella and I, and 'course it didn't take much flour for us. A sack would last us for long time. But you take these fellas that had big fam ilies, why, and they had to use lots of flour, why then they couldn't get enough white flour to take care of 'em. They had to buy and use substitutes and one thing and another. See flour, and I forget what else, I don't remember what else there was we couldn't get.
SS: Did you find that you could make it through okay? Did you find youhad to go in debt then, during the Depression? the worst thing for me.
ES: Yeah, I was in debt when I got married, you see. I bought my outfitto farm with, you see, and I didn't have money enough to pay for it. And I went in debt for that, part of it. And I had to buy— take quite a little bit of machinery to farm two hundred and forty acres of ground, see.
SS: What did you have?
ES: Two hundred and forty—
SS: No, I mean, what machinery did you have to have?
ES: Oh, I had to have plow and about eight, ten head of horses and abinder and a drill and a springtooth and a disc. 'Course, one thing about me, there was started up — my neighbor there, he was older than I was, but he grew up on a farm, and he'd got married again and he had a place rented right next to me there. So, he was like my self, he didn't have much money or much machinery either, so we used to exchange back and forth that way, quite a little bit helped us out.
SS: Did he have— what did he have that you didn't have in machinery?
ES: Well, see, we bought a disc together— no it wasn't a disc, a springtooth harrow— we bought one of those together. We bought one between us. Went together and bought one of those. And then, I think— and the wagons.
SS: So, were you still in debt when the Depression hit? Did you still owemoney?
ES: Yeah. That's what I say, I was in debt when I I was farming duringthe Depression and so naturally I went in debt. outfit— didn't cost me too much. A lot horses Livestock because I was working for a big farmer out here south and west of town and he had bought him a big tractor, he'd bought a tractor, and so he sold me what horses I wanted— I picked 'em out of his herd— and he sold em to me very cheap. Horses and harness.
SS: You'd been working for this guy before you got married?
ES: Yeah, I worked for him through harvest time, lots of time. I sewedsacks on his combine before I was married. So I got a pretty good break in buying my livestock.
SS: Did you see other people go under during that depression?
ES: Oh, yes. They was a lot of 'em. Lots of sales.Farm sales every fall.couldn't pay up, just sell out and try something else. Yeah, I saw a lot of 'em go under. Arid some of 'em just quit, couldn't make anything so they just quit. Then as I say, the tractors were coming in and the fella just like this fella I worked forthat was able to buy him a tractor, shoot those fellas— If you were renting the land, if somebody he wanted he'd just about get it. Yes, it's still the same way today, now. There is no such, thing as a little farmer anymore. Less it's somebody that owns two hundred and forty acres of land, probably still living on it and his boys are for him farming it or something. Or he's got his land leased out to somebody else but he's living on the property. But he can own the buildings is the but somebody else farm place, and they're probably farming another thousand acres.
SS: Do you think that people in town, in Moscow, had a rougher time duringthe Depression than the people out in the country did?
ES: I don't think they had any rougher time than anybody anywhere else,but I imagine there's lots of townpeople, poor people, they had a hard time getting on these government sponsored jobs, on WPA and such as that. There was a lot of farmers the same way though. But that's one thing about us on the farm, we had— we raised so much of our eats— we had our own meat and potatoes, such as that. We raised 'em, we had that. While the poor fella in town he had to buy all his, so he had to get some money somewhere to live on. While we could get along raising our own meat and our own potatoes. We had the basis of our own living right there. And then, of course, we canned a lot of fruit in the summertime, when we could get it. Usually had a cellar full in those days of fruit; canned goods. 'Course, we didn t can as many vegetables like we do nowadays. We didn't can so many vegetables. The farmer— as far as living is concerned— he fared a little better than— I mean the poor farmer, he fared a little bit better than the poor guy in town.
SS: What did you think of Roosevelt? Franklin Roosevelt, when he got in?
ES: Well, I have to say one thing for Franklin Roosevelt, — see our worstdepressions that was under Hoover. And when Franklin Roosevelt come in he started all these WPAs and all that stuff, you know and give the poor man a chance to get out and (do a little work to make a little some thing. He kinda started the ball rolling; give him a lot of credit for that. He made job*for a lot of these fellas around town. The WPAs different I don't know how many'of those jobs he did have of all forms, shapes and sizes. He fixed it so the poor man could make a little money.
SS: Did you and Mrs. Settle date for a very long time before you were married?
ES: Well, about four years after we first met, I guess. I met her in '20and we didn't get married 'til '24. Of course, we didn't— we weren't like lots of people, like we lived in the same town— she lived up towards Palouse up in the farming country and I lived down here. And 'course we had a car— we probably didn't see each other only twice— maybe twice a month, something like that. I'd drive up on the weekend weren't there. We together every week like most people are when they're dating. We lived too far apart.
SS: Where did you get married?
ES: Walla Walla. After we got engaged, why then she went to California—She had two sisters down there in California— She shought she'd go to California and get a job and work that summer so she'd have something to buy furniture with. So that's why she went, the first year. And I bached and lived on the farm and then she came up — came home. When she came home that fall before Christmastime, then I met her in Walla Walla and we got married in Walla Walla.
SS: What did she work at in California?
ES: She just did domestic work, while she was down there.
SS: Did you decide to get a job at ^raingrowers or were you offered a job?How did you wind up quitting the farming?
ES: Well, I'll tell you, I wound up— I wasn't getting anywhere. I wouldfarm and I'd sell what little— on that hundred and sixty. And I was paying for place and then I had other debts besides. And I worked beside my crop— I worked out all I could and, by golly, I just wasn't getting anywhere. And it wasn't what I owed on the place that was bothering ering me, it was outside debts where they were crowding me. The peo ple I bought the place frorn^ the bank in Lewiston, en "they sure wanted me to stay with it. They offered me all kinds of chances, and as I said while ago, I think lots of times I should have stayed with the place.
SS: What were the outside debts you are thinking of?have to
ES: Well, Oh, sometimes I'd buy feed, and I borrowed money at the bank.'Course, I always got that paid back. Our biggest debt though was, — seemed like was paying for machinery. And, 'course, we had a few cows and we'd sell cream— and we got most of our groceries. We got most of our groceries that way. But most of my debts was for— mostly for machinery. And it seemed like every spring of the year Ialways had to buy feed for my stock; I'd run out of hay during the winter time, I didn't have enough feed to carry me through. I'd have to buy grain in the spring to get my crop in, and such as thatJ and I'd owe I had to charge. for that, had it always on time, I didn't have no money 'til I'd get my crop in. And time you make your place payment and your taxes, why then, it would work out, you didn't have money enough to go around. That was my trouble. But I wasn't alone, there was a lot of us the same way. But, I worked hard, worked real, awful hard. That's why the fella i bought the place from, ^he didn't want to see me leave the place. They wanted me to stay with it. And they made me a pretty good proposition, too. They told me that if I would just give them a mortgage on everything that I had, and then they would take care of me then. See that I got the machinery I wanted, and of course, I'd just be working for them, you see, practically. But, as I say, the war broke out and the wheat went up— grain went up— that would have been in my favor. It' probably take me a year or two to pay up but after the war I think I would come out in the long run. Grain went up and then the price of land started climbing. So I woulda come out in the long run. But at that time— there was a eighty and a hundred and sixty joining me that I think I woulda bought to go with what I had, and - that would have given me a pretty good four hundred acre farm then, you see and I would been pretty good shape,, if those fellas backed me on it.Why I think I woulda made it in good shape.
SS: They would have let you buy that ?
ES: I kinda believe they would of I kinda believe they would of.
SS: But you decided at the time to turn them down on it?decided
ES: So I just got so tired of it— of being in debt—that I to dosomething else Then I bought a truck and I did some trucking— I hauled wood and I hauled the clay for a brickyard down here and I workon that for a year or two. And then I — when the war broke out, then I took to welding and I went down to Portland and stayed a year and worked on defense. And I worked hard down there and I made good money and every time I got a check I sent it home to my wife here and sue paid our debts and bought this place. And then I come homeland a farmer over here, I rented — a part of . land over here whe ;I first started farming— he was farming a lot of n^s own land then, and he wanted somebody to run his combine. I was in Portland— and they was talking about going on a strike doim there anyway, so I left defense and come up here to go to work for him. And then I worked this manager of for him that fall. And then from there— the Latah County Graingrow- this co-op. ers. then, I knew him from when I was farming down there, see?. And out near Joel, a friend of mine had started to work for him^ and tolcf him I was com ing back — he told him that I was coming back from Portland pretty soon, and so he told this friend to tell- "As soon as he gets back, why you tell him to come and see me." So this fellow come, told me about it, so I went to see him^'and in the meantime this fellow that wanted me to nun his combine, he had found someone else to run his combine- 'eaase, he had to start before I got here- home. So I went to see this man by the name of Simpson,and he wanted me to go to work at Joel warehouse for him, so I went to work him. And I worked out there at Joel for one year— the first year I worked out there under a fel low by the name of Johan, he was running the warehouse out there, then he quit and went to farming. Wheat and stuff— the price had gone up. so he had a farm, so he just quit, he figured he could make it on the farm— so he quit. And then the next year this Simpson,he gave me the— he put me in charge out there running Joel, see— running the ware house out there at Joel. So the first year, that year, I run the warehouse under him at Joel, I was the foreman out at Joel, and this man, Simpson, that fall— then he retired and a fellow that was book keeping, they wanted him to take the manager of the whole outfit, of the company, and he said, "I'll take it under one consideration. If you let me have a warehouse foreman. Have a man to look after all the Howell, warehouses." They had 'em at Joel and and Troy and Deary and Ken nedy Ford over here and Estes Station. Fellow to take care of all the warehouses, take care of ail the labor and everything. Well, they- And they wanted to know did he have a man in mind for the job, and he "Yes, I do." And he said he wanted Gene Settle, so they let him have it. So I got t© be- a big shot in the company in about three years.
SS: Did you know this guy who had been the bookkeeper?
ES: Yeah, I knew him. I'd just got acquainted with him since I startedworking for the company. I'd just known him. 'Course I didn't know him til I started working for the company. But, I knew the man who hired me, Simpson; I knew him. As I said, I had did business with him before, when I was on the farm. I knew him, but I didn't know his bookkeeper then, till I started working for the company.
SS: Well, you told me when we were talking before that when you workedunder him as a warehouse superintendent that you had real good support from him.
ES: Yes, I did. I had good support from him, you bet. Yessir! He surestood back of me. Yes sir depended on me because I knew grain and I knew warehouse. I knew that end of the business. Of course, he knew the book part of it, but at that time, he wasn't too good at the outside part of it, and I knew it. So we just made a good team. He really backed me. Yeah, he was a fine guy.
SS: I was going to ask you why— what made you two get along so well, butI guess you're telling me the answer by saying that he depended on you.
ES: Yes, he did. He depended on me a whole lot. You bet he did. 'Course,I knew the outside of the— I knew the elevator part of the business, so much better than he did, so we worked together. We just made it fine.
SS: What were the main responsibilities that you had when you were in that?
ES: Well, I hired all the warehouse help. You see, I had Joel and Troyand Kennedy Ford and those places, I had to— I used to^pick up the we'd sell a car of wheat tickets out thereg and at Deary I used to bill out the cars. ^I'd go up and bill out the car And, of course, I billed 'em out here, too. Billed out most of 'em. And I took care of all the billing of cars at these neighborhood stations. And I did all the hiring and firing and bought all the sacks brooms and twine that they used. And I bought some machinery for the cleaning plant.
SS: In working the Grain Growers, did you have any better sense than thefarmer in the field about how prices were going?
ES: Well, yeah, in a way, I knew it before they do, because I'd get it atthe office, you see. I was right close to the main office of the— manager, so I usually knew what they knew. So I really knew it before most of the farmers did^ of course, a lot of them knew it at the same time I did. I didn't know much about— as far as prices are concerned. You can just kind of form their own idea about whether wheat is going to go up or down, as far as that's concerned. But if They asked me. they got any dope, why then I usually got it right off the bat. I know a lot of 'em— At the last part I had my office down in that big elevator on Main Street, that big one, the last one, The downtown there, lots of guys'd come in there and talk to me instead of going to the main office. Of course, I usually knew what they knew and W£ discussed and— And lots of times if I didn't know, why I'd get on the phone and find out for 'em.
SS: I've never played the market, so to speak, to figure out when to selland when to hold onto it— How did that work anyway? What were the farmers thinking about when they tried to calculate whether the market was going to go up or down?
ES: Well, I'll tell you, it's pretty hard to tell whether it'll go up ordown— it just depends on if you get a— if they get a headline that or a "drouth, there's a big wheat crop in Australia or Russia or somewhere-A then they can kind of figure on ancfjttiricr of guess on that. Well, that'll help the wheat prices Now, when I was a kid, the farmers used to say that Russia controlled the wheat market of the United States. If they had a big crop in Russia, our prices were down. If they had a short crop in Russia, then our price was a little better. Now I heard that when I was a little kidj that Russia control the wheat pri ces, but I found out after I got older, why, I found out that wasn't That's the world market, altogether true. But I can't see hardly how in those days the wheat Figuring then was as cheap as it was; grain— everybody on a farm had from six to twenty head of horses and mules and cattle to feed— just think of all the grain it would take to feed all those— they don't have those anymore now— The biggest farmers you got, a lot of 'em don't have a horse on the place or a cow, or a chicken. So that dumped an awful more grain on the market.
SS: As a general rule do you have a feeling about whether it was betterfor the farmer to sell after he got his crop in, or whether he really did better by hanging on and see what happens?
ES: I'll tell you, Sam; All I know, I got my idea through just workingaround with different farmers when I was a kid, you know^ and I worked for one farmer down here at Genesee, the Lenahans, you've run into or heard of them— some of his kids or grandkids down there- He was farming quite a bit of good land down there, and I worked for him different years, and that man, when he got his last sack in the warehouse he sold it. And he died a wealthy man. And I worked for one farmer out here south of town, swellest little guy that ever walked, but he was always holding his wheat for a higher priced when he could get two dollars he wanted three. He wound up, the bank got his place. I think, course, I never had no big lot' of wheat to sell, so I usually sold mine right after It got to the warehouse, because I had bills pushing me that I wanted to get taken care of. 'Course, I had the to take care of, threshing bill so I usually sold right away, to gamble on wheat I always figured out I might sell part of it; half of it or something like that, then hold some for a while longer, until after the first of the year to see how prices were gonna be. But, I think that, year in and year out Genesee farmer had the best idea of all. When you get it in the warehouse, sell it.
SS: Then it's off your mind.
ES: Then it's off your mind, you betcha. Yessir. Because, when you holdit, the price goes up a little, you're paying storage on that wheat, too, you see, so I think the man when he gets it in the warehouse, why, sell it. I think he did better. Then other fella did that and this is Bob Peterson, this attorney down at Moscow here, you probably heard of him; but his dad he was a big farmer he owned all this—
SS: Was that Klaus Peterson?
ES: Yes, Klaus Peterson. He farmed down toward Washington, down in thelower road down there, and he owned quite a bit of land. Had a pretty good sized ranch down there and a place up here in town and had a ranch over there in that country where I lived, and he followed that — that's what he followed. And Old Klaus Peterson, he was a rich man. Left a big estate. So, this gambling on wheat— then some farm ers I've heard of, selling wheat and buying on the Board of Trade on a margin. Gambling that way. But I think the guy that made the money was when he got his wheat in the warehouse, he didn't gamble on it, he sold it. And put his money in the bank, invested it injsomething else. Wasn't like I was, owed it all for debts.
SS: Did you run into farmers that didn't trust the co-op? And thoughtthey were getting cheated on their wheat, not getting what they should get, and weren't getting a good enough grade, and they weren't getting—
ES: Well, I ran onto farmers that didn't say too much—seem likeit was"too much on the wheat, but they was— seems like their big arwas gument, more than anything, was on the peas. They never satisfied pea grades . You take at the warehouse and you turn it in, and then they'd come back and want another sample. Some of 'em want three or four different samples to get the pea gradest-in. But I don't think they was so much on the wheat. Of course there was always some guy that probably think maybe it should have weighed a little bit more, or something like that, but that's common. And then there's farmers that—farmers that try to cheat on the weights than anything. If a fellow drives in the scales, you know, and maybe he'd get out of his truck when they weighed him in, see, and then vice versa, - sometimes when they start weighing — if the scales on this side, he'd get off on this side, the when you weighted it driver's side there and if you didn't watch him, he'd be standing on the scales! (Chuckles) Oh, I tell you, they get kind of catty, some of 'em. Then you know the warehouse is supposed— it's a kind of a unwritten law— that the warehouse gets the break on the scales. But you on lots of times those farmers, you know, they watch that, and you got tourun it out there and just— as the guys say, you've got to milk it to death. (Chuckles) This old Harry Simpson, the fella
I started to work for, I took instructions on how to weighand he showed me how he could run that weight out there. Just as soon as that beam come down, why, he'd trip the lever down. He held there let it alone, just her right , see. While if you just ease it out there, you'd prob- abl- get fifteen or twenty more pounds on that— ten maybe, a few more pounds, anyway. But that's an unwritten law, that's the warehouseman's margin. But these farmers got onto that, and so they didn't go for that, you had to work that key right out there until that break. And a lot of them, no matter what you did, they figured the warehouse was getting the best of it. Well, 'course, you got figure this way, there's money in it or there wouldn't be no warehouses. Now you take a sack of wheat, warehousing and when I first started a lot of it was aacked, you know. You take a sack of wheat that was sitting in the warehouse all winter, that sack of wheat will gain weight. Peas'11 do the same thing. If you haul in three thousand bushels of wheat, and you sold me three thou sand bushels of wheat in early spring, you come in there and sold me three thousand bushels of wheat, well, I'd go to the warehouse and weigh out =three thousand bushels of wheat them'd be quite a little bit of wheat left there. They call that the overrun; the same way with peas. That's the way these pea men, they figure to make— they buy big lots of peas and they figure to make it on the overrun. That's where the warehouses made their money, is on the overrun. A sack of wheat'11 gain in weight when it sets there too long, it'll gather so much moisture and so will peas. I'm not so sure about bar ley and oats. I guess that does too, but I know wheat and peas does. I remember— I found that out before I went to the warehouse business. This place down here where I said I my office in this warehouse, that was originally built as. Farmers Union. That was a farmers' outfit. The farmers built that.
SS: What did you know about that Farmers Union? What was that all about?
ES: The way it started here in Moscow, is a bunch of farmers went togetherand they built their own elevator, and they marketed their grain through this elevator. They hired a manager, just kind of like the Co-op—it's the same thing, only this didn't get too . Anyway, they built that elevator down there and then right across the street from where the lumberyard is, they had a store; the Farmers' Union store. And this fellow that I said was always holding his wheat and the bank wound up with his place, he had about two crops of wheat in there. And then he sold it and when he sold his wheat, this fella who was running the— we was down there one day and the manager says, "Billy, what are you going to do with the rest of your wheat?" And this manager says, "Well, I sold it all" "Several pounds of wheat over there in the warehouse. There was quite a bit left in the warehouse after we weighed out your tickets." So we went over there and, by golly, he had quite a little pile of wheat over there left, the overrun on wheat. If it was an independent ware house, they wouldn't never said nothing to him about it, but this was farmers owned— so this fella told them it was his wheat, so he turned right around and sold his overrun.
SS: What happened to the Farmers' Union?
ES: They finally went under, couldn't make it.
SS: I wonder why they couldn't.
ES: I don't know, anyway— when this Co-op startedjthe one I worked for,I don't remember, I think they bought their building, and the other big grain man in Moscow was Mark P. Miller. This Co-op I worked for, they bought him out. He owned lots of warehouses, and he owned a flour mill. But the flour mill had closed down and they'd built an elevator over there and the Grain Growers got so big, they bought him out. And the manager of the Grain Growers today is— he was the manager of the Mark P. Miller outfit when I started to work for Grain Growers.
SS: Oh, really?
ES: Uh-huh. Then this manager that I worked for at the Grain Growers, heretired and when they bought Mark P. Miller out, they took this fella— took their manager in as assistant manager, and he was a younger man than my boss was, and he worked until my boss retired, then they put him^'and hevs the manager now. The manager of the whole works.
SS: We talked a little before about sometimes you might have trouble—you had to make sure the men were going to work and all that, but I was wondering—. Was there anything that was especially challenging or that would cause problems besides sometimes the men? The work that you had to do?
ES: Well, you know, I don't care what the headman is of any concern, he'sgonna have problems with somebody, in some way or form. If you're the boss, you're going to hire a man that he knows more about your busin ess than you do. You know that's a fact. That's the same way in my business, I run onto -Fellas that they knew more about it than I did. way they wanted to do it. They figured they should do it the d I found it, and I had lots of men in the fifteen years that I was there, and I find that lots of warehouse, fellas go out looking for a man to run an elevator, they like to have an experienced man. Well I'm just the other way. If you didn't know nothing about elevators, you're the man that I'm looking for. Because when I put you in that elevator, and I explain to you how to do it, how to run wouid why you 'do it that way. But if you'd a had experience, why, you know a way better than I didfvyou'd try to run it your way and first thing you know, you're all fouled up. You get too smart! I never did hire a man that was too dumb to run one, but I had 'em that was too smart!
SS: What would be the kind of thing where somebody would do it his own wayand would do it wrong? What would be the sort of thing where you had to know the right way to do it?
ES: Well, You got to be careful to— one particular thing you had to watchout, and that's not to get these grains mixed. You got wheat, probab ly two or three different kinds of wheat, that you don't Course did. They not in late years you didn't, but when I first started they used to have a red wheat, and what they call white wheat. But now, of course, they don't have but very little red wheat anymore. And then they had a brewing barley and then you had a feed barley, and they got to be separate. 'Course, oats, that's all the same. Oats is oats. But the wheat and the barleys is different grades, kinds,, that you had to I got a kick out of-it. I had trouble with some, keep separate. I didn't have too much trouble. But I still like to get around the warehouse at harvesttime, as long as I've away from it. The worst thing about warehousing, is if you have a wet season. And you're not supposed to take in any grain a certain percent age of moisture, not over twelve percent moisture. You got a wet sea son, why, just as soon as the sunshine's out, the farmer he'd get out as soon as he could knock it out of the head why and here he comes in with a load of wheat'and then you won't take it and then you got a fight on your hands. (Chuckles) That was my big gest trouble for a long time. I had my orders and I knew it from the take it over 12%. bank,don't We had at the warehouse, every warehouse, see, and you test a man's grain, and^tell him, "No, we can't take that, it's too wet." And he probably jump all over you, and then take his wheat come ning get in his car and run the main office (Laughter)— and come running into to town to the main office— "By God, I'll show you whether you'll take it or not." (Laughter) But when I told him we couldn't take it, why he didn't get nowhere by taking it to the main office.
SS: Did it cause a real fire danger if you took what that was — ?
ES: Yeah, heat. But they don't care, just as long as they can get it offtheir truck; Why that's a fella out there at Joel, I guess an old friend of mine, too, he come down there with a load of wheat, and I that!s just told him, "Miller, I can't take that, too wet." And, he just the ramp about tore up^on the sidewalk, (Laughter) And he says, Well, by golly, you're not gonna stop me from cutting. I'm going to go home and go to cutting and put mine in the granary." I says, "I want wet to tell you something, you're not that big a fool to put that wheat in your own granary." And instead of that, why, he turned around and he buzzed into town to see the boss. But he didn't put it in the granary either.
SS: He probably thought that being your friend that you'd let him getaway with it.
ES: Yeah, I think he did. He got awful mad though when I wouldn't takehis grain. He thought that was an awful dirty trick for me not tak ing his grain. Just 'cause we were friends, I should take his whether there was water running out of it or not. Then he was going to go go to putting back and get on his combine and j it in his own granary, and I said, "Miller, you're not that big a fool, to put that wet wheat in your "Well granary." Then he come to town and the boss told him, nIf 'Gene told you it's too wet, it must be too wet. He's got the same tester that I've got."
SS: It seems like you learned the business pretty fast.
ES: Yes, I did. I did. Well, you see, I was raised on a farm. And thento going to working in different grains— And then I got a lot of responsibility buying seed wheat and stuff like that, and grading grains to be and one thing and another. I -got real good. The only thing that I would be weak in would be the selling, of course. The selling isn't too much; if you came in there and the price was a dollar and so much a bushel,and you'd decide to sell that morning. Okay. I'll give you a check for it, and then before the market closed I'd sell it again, of it. I'd turn loose^ I wouldn't carry it over until the next day. I the warehouses buy it today, I sell it today. See, they don't gamble on it. The come in and farmers gamble on it, but they don't. If you sell me your wheat today, I'm gonna sell it today. Whatever that price is, I sell it to you today, I sell it and get my margin on the other end. I don't keep it til the no sir, next day. "Maybe it'll be better, I get rid of it that day. I don't fool with it. If I buy a hundred thousand bushels today, I sell a hundred thousand, That way, you always keep your shirt clean. But if you buy a hundred thousand today, and say, " might make a few the next day, cents if I'd sell it tomorrow, but then she might drop,* then why, you got egg all over your face. Over at Cornwall,
ES: — Oh, his son and somebody blowed him out through the house. Dynamitedthe house he was living in.
SS: What was the deal on that?
ES: I'll tell you, I don't remember exactly.what it was at the time; butit seems like he ran i store at Cornwall, and he had two daughters and a sonj and he was a pretty old— he wasn't an old man, but I guess he was in his fifties, maybe. Maybe he wasn't that old, ftut they got to having a lot of family trouble, and so the old man he moved in another house right across the road in front of his store. They lived up over head in the store, and he built a little house across the road. He just moved out and they said his son just blowed him up. (Chuckles) Throwed a stick of dynamite in there and blew a hole in the roof, and they said it blowed him out at the top of it, but I don't know whether it did or not. But, anyway, there was an explosion in there and the old man was in there and he come out alive. But they was having some kind of family trouble. Seems like the kids and the old lady was against the old man.
SS: Did you ever hear about the story when the old Doctor Watkins gotshot? hearing about that.
ES: Yes, Yes, I remember I guess that was about the time we came tothe country, about that time, I don't know. Around 1900, wasn't it?
SS: Yeah, 1901.
ES: Right around there. We hadn't been here long. I've heard lots oftimes.
SS: What have you heard people say about what Will Stephen was doing? Imean—
SS: What had you heard about Will Steffen?(break)Wild Davey?
ES: I won't say for sure whether it was him or not, whether they justthought it was him. He was pretty well— lots of talk about him, way back along about 1904 or '05, along in there, when I was a little kid. But, I know there was a fella camped over in a tent over on the school section not too far from where I was, lived in a tent up there in the draw, and the kids was afraid to go up in there, 'cause they said that was old Wild Davy.Whether there was or not, I don't know, but I don't think so. He was a ragged customer.
SS: When we were talking about prejudice before, you said that the progress of people, it has to have bloodshed for there to be progress. I was thinking about that when I was looking through some of the things we discussed. That's all you said about it at the time. What do you mean by that, that we have to have bloodshed to have progress for peo ple?
ES: Well, I didn't just exactly get your question, Sam. You said I wastalking about prejudice—
SS: I thought you said the advances of a people require bloodshed—itin the South, takes bloodshed for—. We were talking about civil rights And you were saying bloodshed is something that you have to—. probably
ES: Well, I think that I made a remark that very few good thingsthat came to people without bloodshed. Well, so this takes **» — get ting things straightened out. Just like this country was, we had to have a civil war* and you take the same thing is going on over at Ang ola now. There's a civil war over there, they're trying to get their problems straightened out. It's gonna be bloodshed before they do it. back to usually It is already. And you take clear the ftible days—it's bloodshed be fore the people can settle their difficulties, for some reason or other4 the way I don't know why it has to be, but usually And it don't seem like how highly civilized we get, we still go to war to settle our difficulties. Bloodshed before we get our difficulties settled.
SS: I had the idea when we were talking before that — we talked aboutWorld War I, and you said something like that maybe we didn't gain anything by that war. Is that the way you feel, that really that war didn't
ES: No, really; that was supposed to be the war to end all war , but Idon't think there was nothing gained by it. And just like this con flict we just got out of, look at over fifty thousand lives over decj, the way over there-we were _intervening there—what? In other words, felt about that into a That's the way I figured it. with civil war anyway. We was kinda meddling somebody else's business, just the same way with th Angolan situation in Africa now. Well, I figure that Cuba, Russia and those people, I figure they're butting in on somebody else's affair— business. And after it's all over with why, they'll settle it among themselves anyway.
SS: When you were in World War I, 'Gene, did you believe that that wasgoing to be the last big war?
ES: Yeah, I did. I did at that time. Yes, I did. I figured it would, Ithought— I sure wasn't looking for .other war, but I said when I German was over there at this prison camp, and talked to some of those berman prisoners, they were very bitter against France. They wasn't against the United States, but they was— had more than one of 'em tell me that France was going to have to pay for this. But I didn't think there'd be another war about twenty years from then. I thought— I didn't think I'd ever live to see it— to see another war.
SS: When you were a kid; and we talked about prejudice before and you weresaying that there really wasn't very much when you were a kid. I was wondering. Was there any? When you were a kid, that you remember of times when you were— when you knew that you were being ?
ES: Mistreated on account of my color?
SS: Well, truthfully, Sam, I can't say that I can say that I run into anything like that. Like I tell you, I was— if I had of been raised in would the city, I figure I had more of a chance for that, but I was raised out in the open spaces in the country, where they didn't— And another thing that— there was four of us boys, we didn't have to run around go to other places to have fun and do things. We did things at our own place, home, we entertained ourself a lot. And so, therefore, we wason n't thrown in with go much communicati^ with the outside world. As I say, there wasn't any up until after we come over here and started to school here in town. While we was out there in the country, course, over we always had— well even after we come here, now, — Our place was kind of a gathering place on weekends, because we always had so much going on up there. We had horses to fool with and different pro jects - work with, and pitching horseshoes and one thing and another and kids always flocked to our place. And, of course, if they was too prejudiced, they wouldn't show up, naturally. But as far as just about actually being hurt by prejudice, I think I told you that^the worst that I ever— the first and the worst that I ever ran into prejudice being called was when I started to enlist in the army. That was my worst for prethat other, a little ""bit, but it didn't amount to-Of course judice; but of course^ I've had kids to get mad at me and call me "nieser" and such as that.
SS: When you were a kid and that kind of thing happened, what would youdo? When a kid called you that? Would it get you really mad?
ES: No, the first time I ignored it. 'Course, I figured that— I figuredafter I- got .up in ageit this way,.the kid learned it from his parents, probably.
SS: Would it stop you from wanting to be friends?
ES: Well, (Chuckles) you know how kids are. Probably the next minutehe'- want me to do something for him. But just to come out and disbar me anything like that— like he thought that was the thing to do, that's a different story. I probably called him worse things than that!
SS: When you were a kid, did you feel very much aware of the differencein color? No
ES: I didn t. It s a funny thing. When I left the South and came out hereI was just a little kid, and to tell you the truth about it, what I can remember about the South, my dady had a farm, he had cotton, raised cotton, and he run a sorghum mill, and he had a big hog pasture; hog lot, we called it. And he had a contract job; he hauled slop from the hotels in this town, and he always had two or three black boys to do that for him. And he always had— and I remember when they picked cotton, he always had a bunch of black people, women and men, picking cotton for him for a few days, whatever it'd take to pick what little he had. And outside of that, the people that I know, that he assoc iated with, they were white, I'd see more of them. He run a big lot he took in horses to pasjture: down there, and of course, most of the people that he dealt with mostly white, when I came out here and I truthfully say, that I nev er any black people til I in the army. I didn't know there was I didn't, that many in the world! (Chuckles) 'Til I got to high school, I went to Spokane a time or two, and went to church up there and I met a few., tnit up until I was twenty-one years old, there was just a very few black people that I had any contact with whatsoever.
SS: When you were a kid, you thought of yourself as being black at thesame time? yes, . when I was very young.
ES: Oh, sure. I knew that I was black, I Knew thata But my youngest broman.I don't believe ther, I don't believe he ever realized that he was, black* It just xlidhe was a kid that way. Of course, we heard n'tr'seem like it made any difference to him. *Wy parents talked about the South and the difference between races and the troubles-and all those troubles and prejudices and all of that.
ES: Well, we escaped. And one thing about us kids, we were an independentkind of a setup anyway. What you're doing and what you got didn't was pretty well fixed 'ourselves. We so why worry, worry us, because we had plenty to do ourselves,Asu we didn't lose no sleep over what the other fellow was doing. That was the least of our trouble. As I say, our yard was always full of kids; our barnyard was always full of kids. We stayed home, on the weekends we didn't go Or we went hunting, down and run around town like a lot of kids did. We stayed home We always had lots of company, the barnyard was full of kids. pitching horseshoes, or^breaking horses or doing something. So that's the way I grew up, so I didn't run into this color barrier too much. I figured it was present, alMright.
SS: They always say when they talk about Joe Wells that he was acceptedall the way and his family was by the community. Nobody thought it made the slightest bit of difference what his color was. And I guess there's really truth in that, that people did act that way.
ES: Yes, they took him in. That's the way I understood it. Now, I don'tknow, I heard that, now like you say, they went to dances up there. Out of five kids, there was only two of us that ever did dance and that was my sister and my next to the youngest brother. 'Course, now here we had parties. We'd go from one neighbor to the other in the of course we always went.But wintertime and have parties and things like that. We never danced. Literary and school functions and different neighborhoods— and all that stuff, we was accepted.
SS: Did you ever get joked or teased about it?
SS: Did kids ever tease you about it or joke with you about it? Aboutcolor difference? I still sometimes hear jokes—
ES: Yeah, yeah, I've heard that. Yeah, I've heard that lots of times.I can't say that I was ever teased much myself. I've been in— guys was always telling some nigger joke. I always figured they was just telling it for my benefit. But maybe they was and maybe they wasn't. But anyway, as far as I was concerned it went in one ear and out the other, because I just figured, "Well, you're just exposing your own ignorance, not mine."
SS: Did you have any real close friends when you were a kid, or any special friends?
SS: When you were a kid growing up, did you have any special pals that youpalled around with outside of the family?
ES: Oh, yeah, oh, I had friends, special friends. But I wasn't so muchof that as some of my younger brothers. They usually was more pally a hunch of with kids than I was. I was more of a loner, myself. I had my brothers. They always had a bunch of kids at our place to stay all night and they'd go to other places and stay all night. Well, I did it too, occasionally, and such as that. But, like some people do, to get all tied up in one certain pal, that you can't turn around with out him, I never was that way. I think it's been more that way since I've been married, since earlj^. married life. There's fellows that I've met, the two of us, that is, their families, and his wife and my wife, we palled together that way. Probably every weekend, we was probably waY off here in the mountains on a fishing trip or something like that. Well, we had a little girl and they had two little kids. 1 was More pally that way since we were married than when I was a kid. I that was had brother that they had friends just like that— you couldn't see one without the other. But I never was that way, as I say, until af ter we was married. Then different ones, the families, that way. we went together. But I never was. I never was a guy to put all my eggs in one basket!
SS: You know, when I think about it, your growing up, I can really understand what you're saying. Why race prejudice wouldn't be a problem. I imagine that probably it meant a lot more to the parents, in a way, than it did to the kids, because I imagine your parents had seen a lot more.
ES: Well, I know they have. They saw— they knew all about it. They hadexperienced it, they knew what it was before they ever came out here. you was They knew what it was all about, sure they did.iney like us kids, though, after we got out here— I'm just trying to think if I can any real time that remember anything, Even my dad, I know my mother didn't, cause my mother she didn't — she was just kind of a homebody, she didn't go too much, she'd go to town. But mu dad— if I remember him talking about it any time- he really got a slap in the face because of his color— I don't think so. Nothing to amount to.
SS: Do you know how he felt about this country around here as it went asfar as prejudice? Whether it was really a good place and how he felt about it.
SS: You said to me something once about— we talked a little bit thatWesterners could be more prejudiced than Southerners.
ES: I got that from my father. Some of his friends after hecame over here, some of his closest associates was people that was from the South.^ Now, as I told you, how he'd do a lot of hunting and of the guys that hunt with him, fellows that hunt with him, so many of was Southerners. can see why that white people be standoff— standoffish on a black person, Negro, because from my own experience, as I told you a while ago, I grew up I didn't ever see no Negro until I was pest: twenty-one. Well, what about the white kids Naturally they're, gonna that growed up and never saw one. probably be kind of standoffish and wonder— That's just the way I felt when I started to high school here in Moscow. I was the only black kid when I started to school there. Well, some of the kids they standoffish, you know, they didn't bother me or didn't say nothing, but they just kind of give me plenty of room. But it wasn't very long before they found out I stood up right and walked just and talked just the same as they did. The only difference in me and them was the color. After they found out I wasn't an animal, beast, why, then they began to kind of warm up to us. It wasn't long before I was on the track team and I was on the football team and everything else I waated to get onto. They offered me more than I wanted I could see their side of it; they was kind of amazed to start with.
SS: Have you ever discussed with Mrs. Settle about what her experienceswere like when she was a kid growing up?
ES: Well, her^s was pretty much like mine. She grew up on a farm downhere out of Pomeroy there, and her dad, and she had two brothers. They were, I think, a little more to themselves though— that is the girls were— than we were. Of course, they were aware of the prejudice that was we knew it was there. our there, same as we were.. But it just didn't get in road, as I say, like as if we'd a been in town or someplace like that inhere we were dependent on—
SS: It would have depended on the town, it would be different. Do youthink your father felt he was held back by it?
SS: Do you know if your father felt that he was held back by it in thiscountry. It would have been easier for him to get ahead?
ES: Well, I don't know. I never heard him say anything about that,whetherhe thought his color was hurting him. He seemed to get what he wanted. And if he needed help he a^ays had somebody to do it. I remember, he bought eighty acres of school land up there—up here at a sale— and he had to pay so much down on it, and after he got it he didn't have enough money to pay down on it, and I know that, it wasn t long after a, they found he was short, different ones come and offered him enough money so he'd have enough money to pay down it. I do remember that. So he could make his downpayment on it. But I don't remember, I never heard my dad say anything about it being any running up against a stonewall because he was a black man.
SS: On the farm, did your family have a lot to do with their neighbors?Did you do much with the —
ES: Sure, sure, we had neighbors, you betcha, we had friends. You betcha,We was neighborly, with our Lots of friends. Neighbor all friends. Yessir.
SS: What was the kind of stuff that you would do with the neighbors?What kind of contact would you have with them? Would it be over ex changing work and that kind of thing? Or was it—
ES: There was lots of times, you know, if the neighbor needed help, we'dgo help them out and if we needed, visa versa. Lots of times we'd visit back and forth in the wintertime. That's about the only time farmers got time to visit, in the wintertime. And take the women, lots of times in the afternoons, the neighbor ladies would come to visit my mother and visa versa. ^Real neighborly. And would have been lots more, but my mother, she didn't go very much, herself, she was quite a quiet lady, but she always appreciated people coming to her house. And she went some, too, as far as that's concerned, but she didn't go as much as she had company; there was always somebody at her house. We had lots of friends and lots of neighbors. And in those days, when I was a kid, why, you knew your neighbor, nowadays you don't know who your neighbor is. 'Cause they don't socialize like they used to when— Course when I was a kid they used to have in the wintertime— they used to have parties around at different houses all winter long. And now, since they got the automobiles the kids all leave home, they wouldn't stay at home, they got to go twenty-five,thirty miles off to somewhere else. But those days, why, had to go horseback or buggy, we had our parties right there in the neighborhood.
SS: What kind of neighborhood parties were they? Were they dancing?
ES: Yeah, sometimes they'd dance and square dance and some'd play pinochle;play cards.
SS: Would there be music? Somebody play a violin?
ES: Yes, some old farmer could play Turkey in the Straw or something likethat! (Chuckles) Yeah, we had a lot of fun just the same.
SS: So it would usually be just one instrument, or something like that?
ES: Well, maybe somebody could chord on the organ or piano, or somethingthere was. like that, and somebody with the violin. That's about all Or two violins.
SS: Would there be food, too?
ES: Sometimes there's be two. I think in our bunch there was about twodifferent fellows could play the violin some, and one woman she chorded She played the piano a little bit.
SS: Would there be eats at a gettogether, like that?
ES: Oh, yes. Oh, yeah. Always had lunch, of some kind. Yeah, we usedto have some good times.
SS: There is one more thing I want to ask you before I go, because I gotto go. But that is, I was interested about your father— what kind of a man do you remember him as being?
ES: My father?
SS: Yeah. You told me different things that he did. But what kind of aperson do you remember him as being?
ES: Well, I'll tell you. There was a fella by the name of Gamble, he'sdead now, probably you've heard of Gambles, the old pioneers here— He and I were standing downtown there talking, and my dad com ip the other side of the street and he started to cross over where I was, and this Gamble says, "Here comes old John Settle, the man with a smile for everybody." And I thought he just about described my dad pretty much. He was a real sociable guy, good guy, and a feller would always do the right thing; never took advantage of anybody. Just a good old man, that's what my dad was. And I think in your travels you don't find many people saying anything against my dad,' only he was a black man, that's all. But he was a good, honest old man, John Settle was. And he had lots of friends. (Break) And the Wells Family they were old pioneers of this country. But they was a lot of things they didn't have in common. Now you take the Wells Family, I don't know whether it was the environment, where they up there in the woods, but they liked moonshine whis key and that kind of stuff. Well, that didn't go with my people at all. But the Wells they was all goodtimers and had to have their fun 'cause there was no difference between the two, like the rest of the wood rats up there", and drink whiskey and fool the Swedes, with moonshine.
SS: Your family really wasn't a bit like that then?
ES: No. My family wasn't that way at all. 'Course now, you take Old LadyWells herself, I thought the world of her. I worked in the woods up them ! thoughtthere with-part of one winter. She was a fine old lady, But the boys and the old man, they got under my skin. They were good people, had a heart like a hotel, as far as that's concerned, but they just lived a different life than the Settle family did.
SS: When you say they got under your skin; is it just because you didn'tlike the way they lived? and hurrahing
ES: Yeah. I don t like this drinking, Course, they called it having funbut I couldn't see no fun in that. They was just keeping up with the Jonses up there in the woods. (Chuckles)
SS: What about Mrs. Wells?
ES: She was more of a quiet woman, like my mother was.
SS: Like your own mother?
ES: UH-huh. She didn't like what her family was doing; but what could shefar do about it? But as they were good people in their way. And their way was like the way of ninety percent of them up there^, was doing the same thing. (Chuckles)
SS: Did she take a lot of responsibility, Mrs. Wells, around the—?
ES: No. I'll tell you. I worked with them up there for about six weeks,I believe, one winter, the winter of 1919. And about all that woman did was—to walk down to the Deary store there, and keep grub on that table and wash their clothes. And said very little, as far as their affairs, Sut she and I would talk together. Lots of times after dinner, after supper, why, I'd go out there and dry dishes for her or something, and we would talk. So that's when I found out that she that wasn't— she didn't just like the way her family lived, with the whiskey and the moonshine and all that, she didn't like that. She didn't think too much of that, but nothing she can do abo ut it. And she didn't try to do nothing, she just did her, work and that was it.
SS: Did she take a liking to you?
ES: Oh, yes, we got along fine. She was just like a slave to Jne, OldI kind of felt sorry for the little Joe. He used to come in there hollering at her,^I guess she was used v/ but old woman, to it, anyway, she never hollered back at him. She just went on with her work, or ike I say, just like she was a slave girl for the outfit.
SS: How did her sons treat her? How did the kids treat her?
ES: They was all just alike.
SS: Like Joe?
ES: Yes. They beat Old Joe, I guess, 'course he was an old man, but thekids worse than the old man, 'Course they always had whiskey around the house, and old Joe would drink his, but he didn't go out and raise Cain like the boys did. He did most of his drinking— well, he I remember my dad saying one time that he came to town, I think it was about the first time that he knew that this colored family was up there in Deary, but I don't know whether he had met 'em, he had heard of 'em— I think the first time my dad, I won't say for sure whether it was the first time or not, but it seemed like, the first time my dad came to town one day and he met Old Joe Wells and he was drunk then
SS: Did he say anything about it, your dad?He was telling us about it when he came home, that this man was drunk. But you knew that the boys would even beat up on their father? No, I never heard of them fighting among 'em at all, I never did hear nothing like that at all. No fighting at all. But I know that the old man he was very abusive to his wife, I knw that, he was very abus ive to her, but she just took it. I guess she got used to it, she just took it, never argued back with him, never talked back. But she sure kept a meal on the table, grub on the table all the time for 'em.
SS: Was Mary there when you were there?
SS: Was Mary living there when you were there?
ES: Yeah, yeah.
SS: Did you get to know her at all?
ES: Yeah, I knew her. Yes, Mary was up there, she had two little kids,when I was up there. I think she had both of 'em, 'cause she married a soldier from Fort Wright up there at Spokane, and he went to World War I, same as I did, and he got as far as— he went as far as New York and then they lost track of him. But he went with the company to New York, and seemed like nobody could never find hide nor hair of that man after he got to New York.
SS: He never came back here?
ES: No, no, he never came back and they never did hear from him. I knowthat after I came back from the army, and after I'd been up there in working the woods there talking — with the Wellses, and I heard her side of the story, and Mrs. Wells side of the story, and I belonged to the Vet erans of Foreign Wars here in Moscow.and I took it up through the Vet erans of Foreign Wars" to locate this man. We traced him to New Yorfc, like they said, and they couldn't find no hide nor hair of him, with his serial number or nothing from New York on. Now whether he what happened to him, now that's a mystery. He never did show up back here.
SS: Do you remember how Mary felt about it, when you were out there? Didshe think he was coming back, or what?
ES: Well, it seemed like— it seemed to me like she was kinda of reconciled to the deal; that had been about two years he'd been gone. She Sat down and talked to me, and I got all the details of the whole thing from her, so I took it up with the Veterans of Foreign Wars. I got isecal number and whatever all the identification*t I could from 'em.
SS: Was he a soldier when they got married?
ES: He was a soldier up here at Fort Wright, when they had Fort GeorgeWright up here at Spokane. He was a regular soldier.
SS: Did she know where he was from in the first place?
ES: I fguess ;he did know where he was from. He was a smartguy I guess he spoke two or three different languages. But he was— he was a drinker, a I think he was kinda like the rest of 'em— he liked his whiskey. But he disappeared. He joined the army, he went in the army again when the war broke out, and they traced him in this company til they got to New York, and that's as far as
SS: So he'd been in the army and then he got out of the army, and he camedown to—
SS: Yeah, I can't say that, I know that he was a soldier at Fort Wrightwhen she married him.
ES: and blew it, and have a good time. Knd
SS: The Wells boys?
ES: Yeah. And they met this guy up there in Spokane, this soldier, andhe came home with 'em. And then it wasn't long after that— then after that he married their sister. That's the way it was told to me, I don't know. But they brought him back with them from Spokane, 'caufse they was all up there together drinking and raising Cain, And anyway, he came home with 'em, anajfie met their sister and they got married. But he was down here. He must have got out of the army be cause he lived there. He lived up there and they had these two kids, and he was down here until he left to go to the army again. I guess he must have reenlistedj I guess he reenlisted again, I suppose.
SS: Did Mrs. Wells help Mary? Was she helping her raise the kids, atthat time when you were out there?
ES: Well, I think— I kind of think that they was taking care of both ofthem. Thev lived in that little house, not too far from where they Mary, the girl wasn t did Cause wasn t working and she didn t seeim over there helping her mother any. She was over there quite a bit, but I think Old Joe was taking care of 'em. Well, let me see now— I take it all back, I think she was doirfg some washing for some of the lumberjacks up there, something like that, I believe she was. I take that all back, he was doing some washing for some of those people up there.
ES: It's pretty difficult to raise two little kids and no father.
ES: Uh-huh. Now these kids were real small at that time.
0:00 - Father's town trips; entertainment as a young man; hunting; taking sleigh parties around town
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24:00 - Going into debt farming, like many others during the Depression; Roosevelt helped the people out
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63:00 - Who he preferred to hire to work; separating grades and kinds of grain; refused to accept wet grain
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89:00 - The only African-Americans he knew were those who worked for either him or his father; parents talking about the south
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97:00 - Father being friends with many southerners around Moscow; he could understand why whites were stand-offish; he had offers to help him pay a down payment on land
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Segment Synopsis: Father was friends with many southerners around Moscow. He could understand why whites would be stand-offish, because like him, they didn't know blacks. Mrs. Settle's experience was similar. Father didn't say he had bad prejudice; he had offers to help him pay a down payment on land.
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Segment Synopsis: Wells family - drinking and high living by the men, which the Settles didn't like. Lou Wells disapproved of it but kept quiet and worked hard. She confided in Mr. Settle. The boys caroused more than the father. Mary's husband disappeared in the Army, and no trace of him could be found.