Nye County Town History Project
Nye County Commissioners
Laraine Bowman Crowther
Laraine and her baby brother Mark Eldon Bowman
Pahrump Valley circa 1954
From left, Laraine Bowman Crowther, Jennifer Crowther (being held), Perry L.
Bowman, Elizabeth Bowman, Elmer S. Bowman,
Easter Sunday 1970 and Elmer's 77th birthday.
Laraine discusses her parents and the Bowman family's move from Moapa to Pahrump; she discusses her parents and other family members; her aunt Loretta's marriage; the Bowmans settle on the Manse Ranch; memories of living on the ranch as a child; how the Manse property was divided among the Bowman children; a discussion of some of the ranches in Pahrump; the Manse Ranch springs; remembering workers and their families on the Manse Ranch.
Atomic testing on the Nevada Test Site; memories of grade school days in Pahrump and in Logandale, with upper grades in Las Vegas and Shoshone; college years, then working as a teacher and starting a family; returning to the Pahrump Valley and teaching there in various grades; being a science teacher.
Comments on education in Nevada and Nye County; memories of teaching science.
Memories of various people in Pahrump, further recollections of the Manse Ranch: horseback riding as a youngster; various childhood friends; the role cotton played in Pahrump Valley in the late 1960s; the Bowman family's role in the development of the LDS community in Pahrump Valley.
Thoughts on Elmer Bowman and some contrasts with his son, Perry, Laraine's father; remembering Norma, Laraine's mother; further thoughts on some
Pahrump Valley residents; comments on subdivisions and the future of Pahrump.
The Nye County Town History Project (NCTHP) engages in interviewing people who can provide firsthand descriptions of the individuals, events, and places that give history its substance. The products of this research are the tapes of the interviews and their transcriptions.
In themselves, oral history interviews are not history. However, they often contain valuable primary source material, as useful in the process of historiography as the written sources to which historians have customarily turned. Verifying the accuracy of all of the statements made in the course of an interview would require more time and money than the NCTHP's operating budget permits. The program can vouch that the statements were made, but it cannot attest that they are free of error. Accordingly, oral histories should be read with the same prudence that the reader exercises when consulting government records, newspaper accounts, diaries, and other sources of historical information.
It is the policy of the NCTHP to produce transcripts that are as close to verbatim as possible, but some alteration of the text is generally both unavoidable and desirable. When human speech is captured in print the result can be a morass of tangled syntax, false starts, and incomplete sentences, sometimes verging on incoherence. The type font contains no symbols for the physical gestures and the diverse vocal modulations that are integral parts of communication through speech. Experience shows that totally verbatim transcripts are often largely unreadable and therefore a waste of the resources expended in their production. While keeping alterations to a minimum the NCTHP will in preparing a text:
a. generally delete false starts, redundancies and the uhs, ahs and other noises with which speech is often sprinkled;
b. occasionally compress language that would be confusing to the reader in unaltered form;
c. rarely shift a portion of a transcript to place it in its proper context;
d. enclose in [brackets] explanatory information or words that were not uttered but have been added to render the text intelligible; and
e. make every effort to correctly spell the names of all individuals and places, recognizing that an occasional word may be misspelled because no authoritative source on its correct spelling was found.
As project director, I would like to express my deep appreciation to those who participated in the Nye County Town History Project (NCTHP). It was an honor and a privilege to have the opportunity to obtain oral histories from so many wonderful individuals. I was welcomed into many homes—in many cases as a stranger—and was allowed to share in the recollection of local history. In a number of cases I had the opportunity to interview Nye County residents whom I have long known and admired; these experiences were especially gratifying. I thank the residents throughout Nye County and Nevada—too numerous to mention by name—who provided assistance, information, and photographs. They helped make the successful completion of this project possible.
Appreciation goes to Chairman Joe S. Garcia, Jr., Robert N. "Bobby" Revert, and Patricia S. Mankins, the Nye County commissioners who initiated this project in 1987. Subsequently, Commissioners Richard L. Carver, Dave Hannigan, and Barbara J. Raper provided support. In this current round of interviews, Nye County Commissioners Andrew Borasky, Roberta "Midge" Carver, Joni Eastley, Gary Hollis, and Peter Liakopoulos provided unyielding support. Stephen T. Bradhurst, Jr., planning consultant for Nye County, gave unwavering support and advocacy of the program within Nye County in its first years. More recently, Darrell Lacy, Director. Nye County Nuclear Waste Repository Project Office, gave his unwavering support. The United States Department of Energy, through Mr. Lacy's office, provided funds for this round of interviews. Thanks are extended to Commissioner Eastley, Gary Hollis, and Mr. Lacy for their input regarding the conduct of this research and for serving as a sounding board when methodological problems were worked out. These interviews would never have become a reality without the enthusiastic support of the Nye County commissioners and Mr. Lacy.
Jean Charney served as editor and administrative assistant throughout the project; her services have been indispensable Kimberley Dickey provided considerable assistance in transcribing many of the oral histories; Jean Charney, Julie Lancaster, and Darlene Morse also transcribed a number of interviews. Proofreading, editing, and indexing were provided at various times by Marilyn Anderson, Joni Eastley, Julie Lancaster, Teri Jurgens Lefever, and Darlene Morse. Joni Eastley proofed all the manuscripts and often double-checked, as best as possible, the spelling of people's names and the names of their children and other relatives. Jeanne Sharp Howerton provided digital services and consultation. Long-time Pahrump resident Harry Ford, founder and director of the Pahrump Valley Museum, served as a consultant throughout the project; his participation was essential. Much deserved thanks are extended to all these persons.
All material for the NCTHP was prepared with the support of the Nye County Nuclear Waste Repository Office, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. However, any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed herein are those of the author and the interviewees and do not necessarily reflect the views of Nye County or the U.S. DOE.
Historians generally consider the year 1890 as the close of the American frontier. By then, most of the western United States had been settled, ranches and farms developed, communities established, and roads and railroads constructed. The mining boomtowns, based on the lure of overnight riches from newly developed lodes, were but a memory.
Although Nevada was granted statehood in 1864, examination of any map of the state from the late 1800s shows that while most of the state was mapped and its geographical features named, a vast region—stretching from Belmont south to the Las Vegas meadows, comprising most of Nye County—remained largely unsettled and unmapped. In 1890, most of southcentral Nevada remained very much a frontier, and it continued to be so for at least another twenty years.
The spectacular mining booms at Tonopah (1900), Goldfield (1902), Rhyolite (1904), Manhattan (1905), and Round Mountain (1906) represent the last major flowering of what might be called the Old West in the United States. Consequently, southcentral Nevada, notably Nye County, remains close to the American frontier; closer, perhaps, than any other region of the American West. In a real sense, a significant part of the frontier can still be found in southcentral Nevada. It exists in the attitudes, values, lifestyles, and memories of area residents. The frontier-like character of the area also is visible in the relatively undisturbed quality of the natural environment, much of it essentially untouched by humans.
A survey of written sources on southcentral Nevada's history reveals some material from the boomtown period from 1900 to about 1915, but very little on the area after around 1920. The volume of available sources varies from town to town: A fair amount of literature, for instance can be found covering Tonopah's first two decades of existence, and the town has had a newspaper continuously since its first year. In contrast, relatively little is known about the early days of Gabbs, Round Mountain, Manhattan, Beatty, Amargosa Valley, and Pahrump. Gabbs's only newspaper was published intermittently between 1974 and 1976. Round Mountain's only newspaper, the Round Mountain Nugget, was published between 1906 and 1910. Manhattan had newspaper coverage for most of the years between 1906 and 1922. The Rhyolite Herald, longest surviving of Rhyolite/Bullfrog's three newspapers, lasted from 1905 to 1912. The Beatty Bullfrog Miner was in business from 1905 to 1906. Amargosa Valley has never had a newspaper. Pahrump's first newspaper did not appear until 1971. All these communities received only spotty coverage in the newspapers of other communities once their own newspapers folded, although Beatty was served by the Beatty Bulletin, published as part of the Goldfield News between 1947 and 1956. Consequently, most information on the history of southcentral Nevada after 1920 resides in the memories of individuals who are still living.
Aware of Nye County's close ties to our nation's frontier past, and recognizing that few written sources on local history are available, especially after about 1920, the Nye County Commissioners initiated the Nye County Town History Project (NCTHP) in 1987. The NCTHP represents an effort to systematically collect and preserve information on the history of Nye County. The centerpiece of the NCTHP is a large set of interviews conducted with individuals who had knowledge of local history. Each interview was recorded, transcribed, and then edited lightly to preserve the language and speech patterns of those interviewed. All oral history interviews have been printed on acid-free paper and bound and archived in Nye County libraries, Special Collections in the Lied Library at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas. and at other archival sites located throughout Nevada. The interviews vary in length and detail, but together they form a never-before-available composite picture of each community's life and development. The collection of interviews for each community can be compared to a bouquet: Each flower in the bouquet is unique—some are large, others are small—yet each adds to the total image. In sum, the interviews provide a composite view of community and county history, revealing the flow of life and events for a part of Nevada that has heretofore been largely neglected by historians.
Collection of the oral histories has been accompanied by the assembling of a set of photographs depicting each community's history. These pictures have been obtained from participants in the oral history interviews and other present and past Nye County residents. In all, more than 700 photos have been collected and carefully identified. Complete sets of the photographs have been archived along with the oral histories.
On the basis of the oral histories as well as existing written sources, histories have been prepared for the major communities in Nye County. These histories have also been archived.
The town history project is one component of a Nye County program to determine the socioeconomic impact of a federal proposal to build and operate a nuclear waste repository in southcentral Nye County. The repository, which would be located inside a mountain (Yucca Mountain), would be the nation's first, and possibly only, permanent disposal site for high-level radioactive waste. The Nye County Board of County Commissioners initiated the NCTHP in 1987 in order to collect information on the origin, history, traditions and quality of life of Nye County communities that may be impacted by the repository. If the repository is constructed, it will remain a source of interest for a long time and future generations will likely want to know more about the people who once resided at the site. And in the event that government policy changes and a high-level nuclear waste repository is not constructed in Nye County. material compiled by the NCTHP will remain for the use and enjoyment of all.
Interview with Laraine Crowther and Robert McCracken at Ms. Crowther's home in Pahrump. Nevada, December 2, 2008.
RM: Laraine, tell me your name as it reads on your birth certificate.
LC: It is Laraine Bowman.
RM: And when and where were you born?
LC: I was born May 18, 1944, in Overton, Nevada.
RM: And what was your father's name?
LC: My father's name was Perry Lorraine Bowman. He was born in 1917, I think in Mesquite, Nevada.
RM: What was your mother's name on her birth certificate?
LC: Her name was Norma Frehner. She was born June 14, 1922, in St. Thomas, Nevada.
RM: Which doesn't exist anymore.
RM: And your father grew up in the Moapa area? What did he do for a living before he moved here?
LC: He and my mother owned a small dairy in Logandale, Nevada.
RM: Do you know about how many cows there were?
LC: I am going around 20. It wasn't very big.
RM: And then your grandfather Elmer Bowman bought the old Manse Ranch? Describe your understanding of how that happened.
LC: For some reason they decided to move from the Logandale area and come to Pahrump. He convinced his married children to bring their families and come with him. At the time he had two sons, Melvin and Murton. who were younger; I'm going to say Melvin may have been 14 and Murton may have been 12. They came into the north end of Pahrump Valley and they were there between six months and a year. They didn't quite like it at that ranch and the Manse Ranch became available and Grandpa Bowman made a deal on it and we all moved down here.
RM: Where was the property at the north end of the valley, do you know?
LC: I don't recall the name of it.
RM: Was it an operating ranch, or farm?
LC: It was. It was nothing like the beauty of the Manse Ranch, though. It was quite plain.
RM: How did your grandfather try to make a go of it at the north end?
LC: I'm not really sure. I was two-and-a-half when we moved out here and I just don't remember.
RM: I wonder if he had a dairy.
LC: No, he didn't. He had one later down here on the Manse Ranch. He always had cows.
RM: I've been told that he heard about the Manse Ranch being for sale from a banker in Vegas. Is that right?
LC: I could say that that is very possible.
RM: And before that, he had been hauling out of here. He was a very enterprising man, wasn't he?
LC: Oh, he had a vision.
RM: He was hauling, so he had occasion to come into Pahrump to see its potential. So he moved out here with his two younger sons. and he had grown sons as well, didn't he?
LC: He did have grown sons. His eldest son, Elmo, was killed in a horse accident and never moved here. I think he was in his early teens when that happened, and that was in the Logandale area. And my dad was married and I had been born.
RM: Were you their only child?
LC: Gary was born in Mesquite so he may have actually been a very tiny baby when we moved here.
RM: And your family moved to the north end, too? So your grandfather and his married son and the younger kids moved here all to the north end?
LC: Dad was his oldest surviving son and then he had Melvin, who is quite a bit younger; and Murton, who was the baby of the family; they called him Cookie. Two of his daughters did not come out. One was Loretta Bowman, who was the Clark County Clerk for years. She lived in Las Vegas in a home down on Third Street and Bonanza. She celebrates her ninetieth birthday in February. Another daughter who didn't come out was Lola Stiborek; she had married my uncle John from Texas and they lived in Texas. So they didn't have the opportunity to come. They never did live here but they moved to Las Vegas later.
RM: I heard a wonderful story about your aunt who was the county clerk. It seems she was in love but didn't marry the man.
LC: No, Grandpa wouldn't let her marry Charlie. [Laughs]
LC: He wasn't good enough for her.
RM: And he went on to marry and she didn't. Then when they were elderly . . . you tell the story.
LC: Charlie's wife had already passed on. He and Dad were very best friends growing up so he attended Dad's funeral and there was Loretta, and she acted very nervous that day. She would walk here and then she would walk over there and she just wasn't acting herself. He pursued her and within two months they were married.
RM: And he was 85 or so?
LC: Yes, and she was in her 80s.
RM: That's one of the great love stories, I think. She carried the torch for him all those years.
LC: She did. And his children said they got so tired of hearing about Loretta Bowman. I think he passed away about a year and a half ago.
RM: How long did he live after their marriage?
LC: Let's see, Dad died in '99 and they were married in 2000. They may have been together five or six years.
RM: I love that story; true love wins out. How long did your family live at the north end, then?
LC: I would say six months or less; I am not really sure about that. But when the Manse Ranch became available, it was truly beautiful.
RM: And what were the accommodations for your family at the Manse Ranch?
LC: We lived in a house across from the shop.
RM: Were the houses on the ranch pretty run down?
LC: Not really. I think they were in pretty good repair, considering. They were wood and stucco—some of them were stucco, not all of them.
RM: Who else was living on the property?
LC: There was my aunt Imogene and her husband, Digger Andersen, and another of Dad's sisters, Mary, and her husband, Lyle Christensen.
RM: And did those aunts have children then?
LC: Imogene and Digger had a daughter. Linda, who was the same age as my brother Gary, a baby. Gary and Linda both got ill from whooping cough and Linda died. It was a really sad time, a really hard time; the medical facilities were in Las Vegas and the travel over dirt roads made it hours and hours away. That was a very rough time for the family. I don't think the Christensens had children at that time; they were newly married.
RM: How awful. Was the Manse Ranch very developed at that time?
LC: The Manse Ranch was a beautiful ranch. It had a vineyard; it had rows and rows of wonderful ladyfingers, muscats, green seedless, the big red ruby grapes. And it had a cellar that was maybe more than half-buried—the roof was visible—and that was a wonderful place for children to go. The ranch had probably five huge, huge walnut trees. They were beautiful.
RM: And they produced?
LC: They produced a lot. As I kid I remember picking those and eating them. Now, this is kind of a hard little story, but Grandma would pay us a penny a bird. She didn't like the sparrows that lived there because they ate the grapes; they did a lot of damage. If we would bring her a baby bird she'd give us a penny.
RM: You'd get them out of the nest?
LC: We climbed the trees and got them.
RM: It must have been dangerous.
LC: Well, the limbs were really big; these were big trees. Of course, I was a little kid so maybe they weren't as big as I thought, but they seemed to be just huge trees.
RM: What else was here when the family got here?
LC: There was a ramp made out of big. huge timber that they could drive Caterpillars or trucks or cars or whatever onto so they could get under them to service them. There was a gas bowser, a gasoline structure that you would pump gasoline out of. It was maybe eight feet tall, I am guessing. The top part of it was probably two or three feet high and it was a cylinder maybe two feet across and it had the gallons marked on it. You pumped this handle and it would pump it up out of the ground and you could see how many gallons it was by the one, two, three, and up to ten, and you put that in your car and weighed it.
RM: And they had a gas tank in the ground?
LC: Right. And they had gas—I am going to say Flamo or Petrolane or whatever. Those tanks were used for different purposes.
RM: Including the houses?
LC: Probably. I know Grandma Bowman had a wood stove. I remember one day several of us cousins rode a gentle horse named Dolly and went out with her, and she had these big traps that she trapped quail in. We came upon this one that was stuffed full of quail and she dispensed with them and she showed us how to clean them. We helped clean and rinse them and she put them on a big skillet on the stove and cooked them. They were delicious.
RM: Did she trap or get other kinds of wild game as well?
LC: I remember the quail. I'm sure there were rabbits and things like that. She had her own turkeys. She'd get at least a dozen little chicks a year and raise them, and she had a quite a chicken coop and lots of eggs; I remember gathering the eggs. And she had a big garden.
RM: What other agricultural things were there?
LC: Fruit trees, apricot and nut trees. Besides the walnut trees there was one black walnut tree.
RM: Did it produce?
LC: It did. It was right next to the house. And what else did she have? She had a wonderful big yard that had lilac bushes. probably four or five, across one end that were beautiful, and she had the sweet peas that went trailing up the wire fence.
RM: Were those things there when she got there, you think?
LC: I think she brought some of them in. I'm not really sure, but as a child I remember appreciating the beauty of her yard and the care that she took of it.
RM: Do lilacs do well here?
LC: They do; and roses, of course, do, too. The house had a wraparound porch that went all the way around it.
RM: Screened in?
LC: No, it was open. And there were some vines and I don't recall what kind they were. Then she had a pit that she made a fire in to make her own soap when it was butchering time.
RM: How did she make soap?
LC: She would make it in a big tub with lye and rendered fat. That was the soap she used to wash clothes with and to bathe with.
RM: Was she raised on a farm?
LC: I am sure she was. Life was hard back then and they worked really hard. When my grandparents were first married I understand they lived down on the Muddy River in a tent right next to the water so they would have a water supply. I remember hearing that they were really, really poor and they had to make ends meet the best way they could.
RM: And was your grandmother's maiden name?
LC: Elizabeth Leavitt.
RM: Were they from the Moapa area?
LC: I think so.
RM: And they were LDS?
LC: They were.
RM: What other things did your grandmother do on the Manse Ranch to make things work?
LC: Well, she fed us a lot. [Laughs] And she was a real lady. She had a piano and she wore nice earrings and necklaces when she dressed up. Her mother was also named Mary Elizabeth and she lived with them in her last years. My grandmother we called Big Grandma, and Mary Elizabeth we called Little Grandma.
RM: Do you remember her?
LC: Oh yes. She liked to dress up but her memory was fading and she would chase us with sticks. [Laughs] Those walnuts on the ground were hers and we weren't allowed to get them. She had her own little bedroom and it was very small; she would get very cold and she wanted blanket after blanket to keep her warm, but I think it was a circulation problem. We had to watch out for her because she would get us.
RM: How old was she during this period, would you guess?
LC: That's hard to say. I am guessing she might have been in her 70s.
RM: Could you describe her?
LC: Little Grandma was probably about 5'2" and maybe weighed 110 pounds. Fragile, gray hair. I don't know what they're called, but she had little knots that grew on her head, little bumps—she had two or three of those around the back of her head. She wore glasses, but she liked to dress up. She had it in her mind how things should be. I think she was a fairly strict lady.
RM: And describe your grandmother.
LC: Big Grandma was a larger woman; I thought she was a really pretty lady. She wore glasses. She was very good to us grandchildren. She liked to dress up, too. She liked to put on her earrings and necklace and new shoes.
RM: What were the occasions when she would dress up?
LC: Party times, church times.
RM: And that would be church here in the valley?
LC: Church would be right in her house. The piano was there and so on Sunday we would go to her house and have a church meeting.
RM: How many people would typically attend that?
LC: The family—Mary, her youngest daughter, would play the piano, or Imogene. I don't know, maybe 10, 11 people including kids.
RM: Did somebody speak then at the services or read from the Bible or the Book of Mormon?
LC: Yes, and people from the stake in Las Vegas would drive out here to conduct services at least once a month.
RM: How long did your grandmother live?
LC: Grandpa died in 1970 and she lived for at least five years after that—'75, '76.
RM: And did she live here on the ranch after he died?
LC: No, the deal was this: If his daughters and sons would come to Pahrump and work on the ranch, he would provide them a living and give them a bit of money, not a lot, and buy them a new car whenever it was needed. And he did that. He bought new Buicks for them; they were wonderful. Each one of those families had a new car.
RM: Buick was a very classy car in those days.
LC: Yes, those 1955s. Then when he retired, he would divide the ranch up equally and they would owe him nothing. So he did that. In 1960, I think, he retired and he and Grandma Bowman moved to St. George, Utah. and stayed there for a few years; I am going to say maybe three. Then they came back to Las Vegas and lived with Aunt Loretta for a number of years until they both passed.
RM: And the ranch had been divided up among the children?
LC: Right. Murton was a grown man by then, and so was Melvin—they had both married. And there was Lyle Christensen and Mary and Digger and Imogene Andersen. Shortly after moving on to the Manse Ranch, my dad and mom approached Grandpa and asked him if he would sell them some property and he agreed; he sold them 640 acres. Another of his daughters, Kenna, and her husband, Arlan Frehner, wanted the same so he sold them 640 acres as well.
RM: Do you remember how much he sold it to them for?
LC: No. I remember that we lived on the Manse Ranch until our house was finished. It was made of railroad ties with cement mortar. It was a small house consisting of two bedrooms, one bath, a kitchen, and a living room. It has been moved to the Pahrump Museum.
RM: About how long after Perry got here did he go off on his own, would you say?
LC: I would say within a year or less.
RM: Was he more of an individualist?
LC: He was. I think he was on his own before he came out here and it just didn't fit for him.
RM: To be part of almost a communal thing, whereas the others were comfortable with that?
LC: They may have been younger. Kenna and Arlan moved into a big tent, one of those really big ones with the wooden floor that went partway up. They lived in that when they moved their family there.
RM: Down on their portion?
LC: Right. I remember going down and it seemed so far away from the ranch; it was probably two miles at the most. But it was uncultivated so it had to be leveled and a well drilled. They had one of those divining rods and that's how they found the well.
RM: Did it work?
LC: It worked beautifully; it's an artesian well that flows today. I think Stan Ford did that.
RM: He witched it? Do you think if he would have just picked another spot they would have got water or is there something to water witching?
LC: It was used so often, I believe in it. I watched it. That stick went right down; it was a forked stick and the point of it went right down. He'd walk from north to south and then from east to west and then he got the triangulation thing going on and said this is it, right here. So that was cool.
RM: How did they decide how to divide it up? Because probably some portions were better than others in terms of development. How did they decide that?
LC: I wasn't in on that; I don't know how they did that. I know that Mary and Lyle's farm right now is Mountain Falls and the golf course. And the next section was Digger's and Imogene's and that is also part of Mountain Falls. Then the third one north, which includes the spring and some of Mountain Falls, was Murton's. And Melvin's was the most north part and he sold that years ago to Calvada, who took the water from it and made their development. Now that land has never been farmed since and nobody wants to buy it because they'd have to put water on it to develop it so it's sitting barren.
RM: So the Manse Ranch extended to the north of where your home is now, which is what—Highway 160 and . . . what is this street out here?
LC: This is Caas right out here, but on past the Manse Ranch is Gamebird. It goes almost up to Gamebird and then it went south down past Artesia.
RM: So the ranch did not go north of your home here on Caas, or close to Caas? It did go south.
LC: It did go south, yes. It went south to Kellogg.
RM: Did Elmer buy the land all at once or did he add to it?
LC: I believe he bought it all at once. That was all his, and the south portion had the granaries on it. In 1951 Max Hafen from Mesquite came over and helped his son Tim acquire that from Grandpa so they had the granaries on their farm.
RM: And that had originally been Lois Kellogg's? Were you old enough to have any memories of Lois Kellogg?
LC: I don't remember her at all; she died in 1943 or '44, before Grandpa moved here. I remember going to her home. It was one story, small, with a flat roof line; maybe four rooms.
RM: And was that where the granary was?
LC: No, actually the granaries are on Tim Hafen's first ranch, the one he bought from Grandpa Bowman, probably three miles north of her home.
RM: Okay. I believe there was something on her place besides the house, some big buildings or something.
LC: Not when I was a kid, there wasn't. There was some trees and there was a high hill that we loved to play on that we called the Mound.
RM: When you were a young kid, back when Lois Kellogg might have been discussed, what did people remember about her—what was her image in people's minds?
LC: That she was a determined woman. She had a lot of spunk. She had these dogs and of course one of them bit her, is what I remember being told—that it got infected and she died from that. Otherwise, I think she would have lived a much longer life. That was basically all I know.
RM: What is your earliest memory of the Manse?
LC: I had on a new dress—it was white with kind of a blue-green stripe on it and I thought it was the prettiest thing. I remember walking along in that dress down the path to Grandpa Bowman's house.
RM: Did your mother make it?
LC: No, it was store bought.
RM: What other early recollections do you have?
LC: I recall the pond, which would be the springs. There were two of those. The first one was much smaller and there was heavy growth, heavy tree and vine growth, around it. That one didn't get much attention. There was a little ditch that took the water from that spring to the second spring, and it was much larger and we would swim in it.
RM: How big was the hole of the first one?
LC: The first one may have been about as big as this room, about 10 x 10.
RM: How much space was there between the two springs?
LC: Maybe 50 yards.
RM: And how big was the second hole?
LC: As a kid, it was big to me. It was kind of a mystery because the water would bubble up out of the earth, but over the top of it, it appeared to be solid. If you'd stick your foot or a stick or something in it, it would go right through it. It appeared to be a solid bottom, but it wasn't.
RM: Oh, the bottom was soft? Did it move?
LC: It moved just a little bit.
RM: And how far below the surface of the water would that have been?
LC: I am going to say it might have been six or seven feet deep.
RM: But then if you stepped in that you would just go on down?
LC: Right, you'd have to dive down to get to it.
RM: And how big around was it?
LC: It was kind of tear-shaped and there was a weir, or a place where the water would run out—there were two of those.
RM: Would a lot of water come out?
LC: It seemed so. And there were the little fish in there, the little killifish or whatever they are. (Note: "killifish" is one word)
RM: They weren't pupfish?
LC: No, I don't think they were. I think the government tried to come in and see what they were.
RM: But they were called killi?
LC: That's what we called them.
RM: How big were they?
LC: They were maybe an inch long.
RM: We'd call them minnows.
LC: Yes, we called them that, too.
RM: Was it a great joy, that spring?
LC: It was. We had swimming parties and of course, there were bees there and plants that grew around it. I remember one time I disturbed the bee population there and I ended up running and screaming into the house because they attacked my hair—they got my head really good. They had to get me down and pick the bees out of my hair.
RM: Oh my lord. Maybe it was your shampoo?
LC: Maybe the soap. [Laughs] People would come from around the valley and swim there.
RM: Did they get permission or did they just drop in?
LC: Oh, I think they got permission. One of the things that I want to mention is the workers on the ranch. I know that Dad depended on them so much and they were wonderful people who worked hard, and he worked just as hard as they did.
And there were some families. like the Pearl Ward family. Pearl was a homesteader down on the southwest part of the Valley: he had 160 acres and his wife became postmistress and drove the school bus here. He had five children and he rode a horse to work every morning and home every night. He had built his house by himself. And there were some Mexican families—the Porfirio Avena family were wonderful, great people. Louie Sharp was an Indian man—to this day I recall he said blue eyes are the sign of a weak mind.
RM: Why would he tell a kid that? (Because you have blue eyes.)
LC: I don't know, he just did. He had blue eyes. He was a half-Indian, so he was poking fun at himself more than anybody else. He was a real gentleman and a hard worker and he and his family all lived farther south on the ranch. Those people didn't ever miss work. They were like rocks—steady, hard-working people. Many of the people who worked on the Manse Ranch are up in the Pahrump Cemetery. A lot of those were Indian people, like the Weed family. They provided the success of these farms. We couldn't have made it without them.
RM: The Weeds were Indians?
LC: They were. There were brothers, Mutt Weed and Tom Weed.
RM: Were they employed year round or just seasonally?
LC: They were employed year round. There were seasonal workers also. They were irrigators, they were hayers, they took care of the livestock; they did everything along with our fathers and grandfathers and uncles.
RM: Were a lot of the employees Indians?
LC: A lot of them were. At the beginning most of them were Indians. They already lived here—not on the ranch but in Indian camps.
RM: Where were the Indian camps?
LC: The biggest one that I recall is up here on Highway 160 right across from the Manse Ranch.
RM: Just as a guess, how many people do you think were living there?
LC: When I say big, I am talking about really small numbers, actually. But to me at the time it seemed big; it was maybe 15 people. I recall that for some of the Indians out here right by Caas, the women were the hunters. They would go up to the mountains. This lady was on her horse with her rifle in her scabbard and she took off and went right up to the mountain, and in a day or two she came down with her deer. They harvested the venison and the pine nuts.
RM: The women did that work and the men were employed on the ranch, or did they just stay home?
LC: I think maybe they stayed home until the work became available to them and then they went to work.
RM: Did the kids go to school?
LC: They did. I am not sure how many of them went to school before we came here.
LC: I rode to school with one of the teachers, Blanche Wright-Murphy, who lived down on Kenna and Arlan's ranch. She came from Wisconsin, I think. She was a divorced lady and she had a little daughter, Billie Rae. who was my age and we got to be very good friends. Gary and I would ride to school in one of those old Studebakers with the pointy front that looks like it is coming and going.
RM: I don't remember the name of that model but I always wanted one.
LC: We would ride to school and on one or two occasion we saw the bombs being detonated above ground.
RM: Did you see the clouds often, or the flash, from the Test Site?
LC: You could see the flash and then you could hear and you could see the mushroom. One time the cloud came right over on these mountains right out here, the Nopah Range.
RM: What did you think of the testing as a child? You would have been what, six, eight, ten years old?
LC: I probably would have been around eight to ten. We were told there was no problem with it; it was safe, it was okay. We'd all stand and look at it and then go on with what we were doing.
RM: We lived north of the Test Site up by Warm Springs and we would watch them and it was a big thrill for us.
LC: It was for us, too. But I can't help but think that of the kids in school—there were less than 20—a number of them are sterile