Yorba Linda History

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close this bookRichard M. Nixon Oral History Project
View the documentReverend Charles Ball
Interviewed by Mitch Haddad, December 22, 1969
View the documentWilliam H. Barton
Interviewed by Richard D. Curtiss, February 10, 1970
View the documentOllie O. Burdg
Interviewed by Richard Curtiss, February 16, 1970
View the documentHoyt Corbit
Interviewed by Tom Peters, April 30, May 6, 10, 17, 20, 1968
View the documentHoyt Corbit
Interviewed by Milan Pavlovich, May 15, 1970
View the documentVirginia Shaw Critchfield
Interviewed by Jeff Jones, May 2 & 9, 1970
View the documentDavid W. Cromwell
Interviewed by Milan Pavlovich, May 25, 1976
View the documentDr. Buel F. Enyeart
Interviewed by Dan Hoppy, December 2, 1968
View the documentMr. and Mrs. Richard "Jack" Gauldin
Interviewed by Milan Pavlovich, May 8, 1970
View the documentYoneko Dobashi Iwatsuru
Interviewed by Milan Pavlovich, April 30, 1970
View the documentGeorge Kellogg & R. Fay Young
Interviewed by Daniel L. Hoppy, John Tugwell, November 14, 1968, January 8, 1969, April 26, 1972
View the documentRalph Navarro
Interviewed by Milan Pavlovich, June 4, 1970
View the documentCecil E. Pickering
Interviewed by Steven Guttman, June 30, 1970
View the documentMary Elizabeth Rez
Interviewed by Milan Pavlovich, April 21, 1970
View the documentPaul Ryan
Interviewed by Milan Pavlovich, May 15, 1970
View the documentGerald Shaw
Interviewed by Jeff Jones, June 3, 1970
View the documentRalph C. Shook Sr.
Interviewed by Richard Curtiss, February 10, 1970
View the documentMary G. Skidmore
Interviewed by Greg Brolin
View the documentFelix Stein
Interviewed by Greg Brolin, October 13, 1970
View the documentCatherine Travaglia
Interviewed by Milan Pavlovich, May 21, 1970
View the documentHerb Warren
Interviewed by Greg Brolin, October 1, 1970
View the documentMerle West
Interviewed by Robert Davis

Catherine Travaglia

Interviewed by Milan Pavlovich, May 21, 1970   Open this page in a new window

This is a slightly edited transcription of an interview conducted for the Oral History Program, sponsored by California State University, Fullerton. The reader should be aware that an oral history document portrays information as recalled by the interviewee. Because of the spontaneous nature of this kind of document, it may contain statements and impressions which are not factual.

Scholars are welcome to utilize short excerpts from any of the transcriptions without obtaining permission as long as proper credit is given to the interviewee, the interviewer, and the University. Scholars must, however, obtain permission from California State University, Fullerton before making more extensive use of the transcription and related materials. None of these materials may be duplicated or reproduced by any party without permission from the Oral History Program, California State University, Fullerton, California, 92634.

Copyright © 1977

The Oral History Program

California State University, Fullerton



Richard M. Nixon Project

Yorba Linda History and Basque Settlers

O.H. 970




Milan Pavlovich


May 21, 1970

O.H. 970



Richard M. Nixon Project


INTERVIEWER: Milan Pavlovich

SUBJECT:Yorba Linda history and Basque settlers

DATE : May 21, 1970

P:This is an interview for the Richard M. Nixon Oral History Project at California State College, Fullerton. The interviewee is Mrs. Catherine Travaglia, formerly Catherine Apalategui, a longtime Basque resident of Yorba Linda. The interviewer is Milan Pavlovich. The interview is held in Mrs. Travaglia's dining room at 5002 Avocado Street, in Yorba Linda, at 7:00 p.m., May 21, 1970.

I would like you to tell me a little about yourself and your Basque background, perhaps when came to Yorba Linda. You were born here in 1914?


P:And maybe a little about their background and their coming from Spain and France.

T:My mother came to Santa Barbara, I think, in 1912. My father came to the Santa Barbara area about the same time, but from two different parts of the Basque country. My father came from Irun which is in the province of Guipuzcoa and my mother from Ahaxe which is in France. They lived about fifty miles from one another in Europe, but they never met over there because traveling is [1] walking over there. When they came here they came to jobs in Santa Barbara. They met there because the Basque hotel in Santa Barbara was the gathering place for all the Basque in the area. It was like a recreation hall, more or less/ where people gathered. When they were married they came here to the Yorba Linda area. I was born here. They worked for the Lemke family at that time. I was born near the Lemke ranch, on the outskirts of Placentia and Yorba Linda. Some years ago, it was called Loftis, but there is no city. There was never a city, it was just a name that people used. Then about a year or so later, since my father had been working for Samuel Kraemer, he leased property in east Yorba Linda hills beyond the country club area. He farmed with two of his brothers that were also here from the same area. They raised hay; they were in dry farming, no water. They raised hay for the horses in the area. The hay was baled and sold that way. For the lease of the property Samuel Kraemer expected a fourth of the crop. My father did this for approximately forty years with other work in between to help the family income. Their whole intention was to just raise a good family. They wanted to have a little more chance than they had in Europe because it was hard to make a living where they were from. They were just primarily interested in raising a good Christian family. We more or less kept to ourselves, you might say.

As far as some of the background, I'm not too sure that it is interesting. But, too, one of the most famous saints that people seem to know about in this area is Saint Ignatius of Loyola. He was born in the area that my father was from. Saint Ignatius1 family were wealthy landowners around the middle fourteen hundreds, between fourteen hundred and fifteen hundred—I would say, when the Basque country was quite its own country and it was still Basque country. I'm not too sure of the details of this, so I'm not going to go into the details of that. Saint Ignatius1 family was one of the wealthy landowners of the Basque area. They owned the property along the Urola River. Ura means "water" and ola would mean more or less "there is the water," or something on that order. Loyola, translated, means more or less "the good land along the river." We say loya for mud. I suppose by [2] the time of the nineteen hundred Basque would be a little bit changed through the centuries. So loya and lo would mean "the loam, or the mud, or silt, the good land along the river." And this is what they owned. Of course, Ignatius of Loyola is known for beginning the Jesuit Order.

Saint Francis Xavier was his father and his family home was in Yassu within walking distance of Ahaxe. My mother's family would take a walk, or they call it a pilgrimage, to the home once a year. It seems to me she used to say that they'd offer Mass there once a year in the memory of Saint Francis Xavier's family. Saint Francis Xavier was sent as a missionary to China. In the Catholic church he is the patron saint of the missions. They were both Basque, Saint Ignatius of Loyola and Saint Francis Xavier.

P: You mentioned that the Basques were a home-type people, that they didn't mix too much with others.

T: Yes, they liked their families most. They are more family people. In fact, their tradition is that their home is first. They name their homes a certain name. Even the addresses today, when I write to my mother's people, will be "Ahaxe Berhoa." I mean they go by the name of the home. If you were to locate a family, you would say Ahaxe Berhoa, in her case. The homes have the name.

P: What does the name of her home mean?

T: Warm. And then a home next to hers a little ways is Mendiondo which means "near the mountain." As a rule, they have similar names describing something of the area. There are an awful lot of Etcheverris or Etchezar or Etchetipy or all this. That means"new home, old home, and little home." Even the street named Bastanchury that is here in Yorba Linda now is named after the early settlers in the Fullerton area—Domingo and Maria Bastanchury. I've heard bastan means "little cottage" and I know chury means "white." See, so it goes back to something of a home. It seems it's quite the background of the people. [3]

Naturally, our family more or less stayed together and we didn't mix into the social part of the Yorba Linda life as much as some people did. Partly on account of the language barrier and partly because the Yorba Linda people were predominantly Quaker. We were Catholic and we worshipped in two different places. In later years, naturally we grew into all this little by little. But at first, especially at the time Nixon was born, we didn't really mix with them that much. So I really can't say too much about Nixon, except that I know the background of the people that he grew up with, and they are wonderful people. There are none better.

P:Did you have the feeling that you weren't accepted by these other groups because you were such a small group as compared to their large group, such as the larger Quaker groups or the larger Methodists?

T:Well, I suppose every group feels a little bit this way, although I can't say it lasted too long. For one thing, we had a very good principal here in Yorba Linda, Mrs. Paine. She knew our background and drew us out of ourselves. It just happened that we could learn easily. It was something that just happened, we didn't realize we did. As a teacher, she knew it. So she encouraged us and kept us interested in our school work. Naturally, as you learn, you get into other things little by little. I can't say we let it bother us too much. But, at first, I think we did feel some of this as it is only natural because of a language barrier. When your life is your language and your religion, you are bound to feel a little of this. Although, people were really very good to us.

P:Mabel Paine taught at the elementary school and was the principal?

T: That's right.

P: This was the Yorba Linda Elementary School?

T: Yes.

P: Located on School Street? [4]

T: She taught there a little while. She didn't teach a long time. In fact, at the time when Richard Nixon was in, the second grade, she wasn't the principal as yet. I think she came the following year. But she had been a year or so before that, I think. She was the principal of Yorba Linda school and also the teacher of the eighth grade for thirty years. She had a lot to do with the formation of the Yorba Linda people. Teachers are very important, I feel, in the formation of students. She was such a wonderful teacher. We were rather shy and quiet, and perhaps backward in the sense that the kids of today are not. But she saw to it that we had confidence and helped us in every way she could. She was interested in us and we thought the world of her.

P: So, in her realizing that you could use help, she put out the effort and this enabled you to be accepted in the community better.

T: We got along with the community because we were quiet and we didn't interfere. We learned as best as we could and made good grades in school.

P: Getting back to your Basque people, I understand that they marry within their own villages. Has this been carried on through the years?

T: Well, I think they did. Like any nationality, they are proud of their race. I think in most nationalities the parents try to have the children marry within their own people—partly because it's a custom, partly because they believe the children will be happier with their own background and with the same type of upbringing that they've all had. That always makes a marriage start on the right footing when you both think alike and share the same faith. I think that for this reason they do. However, I don't think that too many insist on it here in this country. I think this happened in Europe, partially because of the lack of transportation and people walked wherever they went and had no contact with others. There wasn't much of a chance for people to meet other people for that matter. They all lived in their life and so it is found to be that way. Of course, I think an awful lot of the Basque people are still [5] wanting it that way. I think that is perhaps part of the reason for their Basque barbecues and dances, and celebrations that they have yet. They all get together as much as they can. I'm sure that the older people hope that their younger people will marry with their own people, but I don't think they insist on it.

P:When you were younger here in Yorba Linda, did they have some celebrations and so forth that you attended?

T:Not so much then because there weren't many people here. There were so few people then. And well, there weren't enough Basque people to have much of anything. We'd get together in each others homes. But not like today. There was, for instance, last Sunday a big Basque celebration, in Los Banos up by Fresno. I think about two thousand people were there. They started with an open-air Mass with all the colorful, traditional costumes--or whatever you want to call them, the traditional wear of the people. And then after this beautiful Mass—which was really done very enthusiastically and devoutly, and reverently—they had a real nice barbecue dinner for about two thousand people. After the dinner they had all sorts of beautiful dances that were customary —dating back to I don't know when—in the costumes or whatever it is called of the Basque people.

P:Could you describe a typical Basque costume, also a typical meal that would be served at one of these celebrations?

T: It is a little bit hard to describe their costumes, or at least I've never tried it. I have a little boy and a little girl [doll] that you could see if you want to. Would that help? Or would you rather I said it?

P: I'd rather you say it.

T: Oh, you would. Yes. Would you get them, Nick ... the picture of the costumes. There are red skirts . . .

P: Well, maybe you could tell me about the meal while you are waiting for the dolls. [6]

T: I would say the ordinary meal of the Basque people is not too fancy. They are more of a peasant-type people. They work hard in their fields and they live rather meagerly over there. Now, here, of course, they do a little differently. But I would say they have soup, mainly. Perhaps lamb, beans, salad, or garbanzos and soups mainly.

P: What are those?

T: Garbanzos are what the American people call chick peas sometimes. They're little round yellowish-orange colored beans. I think they use quite a lot of tomato sauce in their cooking. Their food is not hot, but it is very tasty. Really, I don't have very much to say. They eat quite simply, really.

P: Is there a main meat, perhaps lamb?

T: Lamb, I would say, if I were asked. I think lamb seems to be the main meat—whenever we have a barbecue it is nearly always lamb. Now, they will have a barbecue in Chino in August; one in Ely, Nevada, in July; another one in Elko in July; and one in Sparks, Nevada, in August. There is always lamb, at least there has been, anyway, up to now.

P: I think most people associate Basques with lamb and sheepherders and so forth.

T: Yes. Their sheepherding is their main livelihood. I'd say it is sheepherding more than anything else, until you get into the cities. Of course, there are a lot of cities in Spain, too, where you surely aren't herding sheep.

P: Would you describe the costumes now?

T: Well, the girls wear a red skirt with a white blouse and a little black vest. It's usually laced with red ribbon or lacing. The colors of the Basque flag are red and green background with a white cross eater-corner with corner to corner. The colors are red, white, and green for the people's clothing, costume also. And the [7] men wear usually the white pants and the white shirt with the red sash. They usually tie their leggings with red and green string or something that way-leggings like. And the girls wear headpieces that kind of tie in the back in something like a bun with pins.

P:I understand the men wear berets, too.

T: Yes, the men wear berets.

P:The head of the family wears it during meals and so forth?

T:I doubt it. Well, we never went into it that much, but maybe some of them do, you know. The head of the family is considered the grandfather and the grandmother— aitachi and amachi they are called. And they are the ones the family really respects, the grandfather and the grandmother. They are really the head of the family. The children are very good to them. There are many a woodcarving of them. I'm hoping to get one, by the way. I'm hoping to get a woodcarving of this—the Amachi and Aitachi, the grandfather wearing a beret and he is usually in a profile. He is smoking his pipe and the grandmother is in profile, too. She is just looking on. The father is the boss, he's the head of the house. The women are quiet about the things and they do their duties and their work. The men are the head of the house.

P:Could you describe the community of Yorba Linda during your early years there?

T:Well, there were very few people. Our neighbors didn't live very close to us. We lived in the town of Yorba Linda, so then naturally we had close neighbors. But later on we moved. My father bought a ranch—eight acres of citrus--and we lived where we do now, here in Yorba Linda. The nearest neighbors were, oh, like for instance, a fourth of a mile away, and not too many of those. So it was quiet, pleasant, a beautiful town.

P:How many buildings made up the town of Yorba Linda?

T:Well, they had a post office arid a grocery store and a drugstore. I can't recall anything else right away. [8]

A blacksmith shop. Hardware. Did they have a hardware? Yes. Townsend owned it, I guess, but I'm not sure if he was there then, though. He came later. At first, I don't know about the hardware even, but they had a black smith shop.

Mr. T: Yes, he was over there by the water company office—no, maybe the library.

T: No, I don't remember. They had a library quite early. They had two churches; the Friends church that Richard Nixon's family attended. It's still here. You know this, I guess. And then they had the Methodist church, but I understand it was the Baptist or the Presbyterian church at that time. I'm not too sure of what it was right at first. Later, it was the Methodist.

P: Was the store a general store?

T: Yes.

P: What did they sell?

T: They sold yardage. Maybe not right away, but I know at first we used to have to go to Olinda to buy shoes. But they had yardage there at one time. I'm not sure if they had it right away or not. Stein-Strauss, Goodman and Stern and Stein, Hoppe and Hax for awhile, wasn't it? They were Jewish people that had owned the store, very fine people of Fullerton. The school was just a small school, perhaps ten to fifteen children in the class. We knew all the children by name at one time.

P: Was this the elementary school on School Street?

T: On School Street, that was the first school. That was there until 1926. And then the present Richard Nixon School was built on the property where Richard Nixon's home is, where his birthplace is. But many people believe that that was the school Richard Nixon attended, but it wasn't. It's been rebuilt again since 1926. I think at the time of the earthquake, but it isn't the school that Richard Nixon attended. He attended the school on School Street. [9]

P: Now, this earthquake you mentioned, was this quite a big earthquake in 1926?

T: Oh, no. The earthquake you mentioned was after, see this (shows picture of school). The original and the bigger, the larger one was built in 1926 on a different site. But the earthquake was in 1933, in March of 1933, and that is when the school was damaged.

P: This is the Long Beach earthquake you are talking about?

T: Yes.

P: It was condemned afterwards.

T: Yes. But as far as anything exciting to tell you, it took me awhile to learn the English language, as I said I really was not aware of everything that was going on outside of home.

P: Well, maybe . . .

T: It's hard to say . . .

P: Maybe you could tell me a little bit about your school days then. How did you travel to school?

T: We walked.

P: Was this quite a distance?

T: Well, we walked to school; we walked everyplace. Some of the children were luckier and had horses even in those days like today, but the rest of us walked. It wasn't too much of a "you take me here and you take me there" stuff then. We'd start off a little earlier and walked. In fact, we were called the "Walking Apalateguis" for a while. There were ten of us. My mother kept us out of mischief by keeping us busy. When we weren't hoeing weeds in the barley fields for Daddy, we were walking back and forth to the store to get groceries because we didn't have a refrigerator, for one thing. We only bought food day by day mostly. We had green salads and then, of course, the beans and soups and some of the hardier [10] things, too, with it. But we would walk to the store to get bread and, you know, the main things. It kept us out of trouble. Between school, working, walking, and hoeing weeds, there wasn't a great deal of time for us to get in trouble. It isn't like that today.

P: In your school you said that there were fifteen or so children in your class. Did you have a kindergarten class?

T: I'm not too sure, but I know my sister started in kindergarten. I didn't ever go to kindergarten. But my sister and I both started in the same year, 1920. She went into kindergarten and I went into the first grade. But there was a kindergarten then, I know. I don't know how long there had been one.

P: All of your classes were separated? Was the first and second grade ever taught in the same room? Or the third or fourth?

T: Not that I'm aware of. I think that we each had a separate grade, the way I remember it. Maybe some of the higher grades were doubled, but I don't recall that. It seems to me that when I was in the fourth grade that it was fourth and fifth, but I think that the rest of the classes were separate. I think we had, say, fifteen, anywhere from ten to eighteen children in a class.

P: Did you start in 1920?

T: Yes.

P: Now, could you remember your teacher's name?

T: Oh, yes, I had Miss Craig for my first grade teacher. So Miss Anderson, Mrs. Cochran now, must have been the second grade teacher, although I didn't know her at the time. I don't recall who the third grade teacher was that year. All I recall is the first two. And, of course, in my second grade I had Miss Helm. I don't think she stayed very long. The third year I had Miss Jepson, and I don't know how long she was there. Fourth year I had Mrs. Ferguson and then Mrs. Taylor and Miss Kahn; I remember them all. [11]

P: You said that you didn't speak English when you went to school. How did they go about teaching you English?

T: Well, we were shy and we didn't even want to let the teacher know we didn't speak it. I remember, yet, how one of the girls knew we didn't speak English and she told the teacher. The teacher wanted to know why I wouldn't respond, why she couldn't get me to participate. And this girl told her, "She doesn't speak English." Oh, I resented that. I don't know why. It was better to tell the teacher than to go through life without learning, but I didn't seem to realize any of this. And little by little you learn. My father was rather proud of us. I'll never forget the first report card that I received. My father hadn't gone to school in Spain so he was very proud that we were going to school and that we were able to learn easily. So he would brag about us to different people in town—like the blacksmith shop was their gathering place. My father hadn't learned to read. Samuel Kraemer had taught him his numbers and how to write his name. So, whenever he needed something read, he'd go to someone that knew how to read, like, perhaps Mr. Eichler, or some of these people that were already here, his old friends. He showed one of them my report card and it said, "Passed on condition." The poor man was really embarrassed. So, anyway, it turned out that they passed me all right. The second year I did fine and the third year I did real well. So, from then on school was just fun to me. I loved it. I really did.

P: You mentioned that the blacksmith's was a meeting place.

T: That's where the men gathered to discuss all sorts of things. And I suppose that the women gathered at the women's clubhouse, like Mrs. Nixon and some of the women, but my mother was never in that group, so I never even knew them.

P: Did your father ever meet Frank Nixon down there at those discussions at the blacksmith's shop?

T: I don't know. I never heard him say, so I wouldn't know. I really don't know. I wouldn't be surprised if at one [12] time or another he did because most of the men were ranchers. Ranchers usually have something that they need at the blacksmith's, you know. So, I wouldn't be surprised if at sometime or another they didn't all meet there.

P: So, but you would say this would be the meeting place instead of the general store with the potbelly stove. The blacksmith would take the place of that.

T: I would say that. That's the way I remember it, but perhaps somebody else might disagree with me. But, in memory, it seems to me that the men got together at the blacksmith's shop. Because being the ranchers that they were, they usually needed some attention to their horses. And I, the way I feel about the grocery store, it was a general old type grocery store. I don't recall that people stayed there just visiting that much. It was more for one thing; the one store owner had to pick up all the different items and put them in sacks for you. He was a pretty busy man. He didn't have time to just talk to you much. You know you needed beans, you needed flour, you needed sugar, whatever you needed was like the old-fashioned stores. They had them in barrels or something of that nature. And he would scoop up whatever you asked for and put them in a sack for you. When I think about it, I don't know how they ever managed to do it all. Now we walk into a store and grab, grab, and go, and then we can't wait to be checked.

P: Getting back to the school, the teachers, did they give you extra help in order to help you along in school? Were you just thrown in with the rest of them?

T: We were just thrown right in with the rest of them.

P: And you fended for yourself?

T: We'd fend for ourselves. It just happened that we were interested, which was lucky for us. If we weren't interested, I don't know what would have happened. But we were interested, and little by little we learned.

I would say another interesting thing that I remember when I talk. In our family, the Basque people do not give [13] gifts at Christmas for one thing. We are really Christian people and in the sense that Christmas is the birthday of Christ, we observe it in that way, by going to Mass and having a big family dinner together, but no gifts. We have gifts on January 6—Epiphany. Well, my first recollection of Christmas gifts was at the Friends church. All the school gathered into the Friends church just before the Christmas holidays, just before the school terminated. One of the men of the town, I seem to remember Mr. Townsend more than anyone else, would play the part of Santa Claus, and we'd each get a little box of hard candy. And we'd sing Christmas carols at the top of our lungs with Mrs. Paine leading as usual with “Jingle Bells." This, to me, was one of the very pleasantest memories of Yorba Linda. That candy we received meant so much to us.

P: It was an annual experience that you had?

T: Yes, an annual experience. For a long, long time the children gathered in the Friends church and we had a Christmas program each year. I thought it was real important, myself. When I think back on that hard candy, that is all we had for Christmas, and we thought it was just great. We didn't expect all that the children expect today, as you can see . . .

P: What sort of subjects were you taught in school; say in the first grade, second grade? Were they basic subjects?

T: Basics, nothing else. Reading and writing. Writing was stressed very much. Penmanship was very definitely stressed then. I liked that real well. And spelling. We really tried to learn the basics, I would say. We had two plays that they put on for different occasions. But I think you might say that the subjects were really the basics: reading, writing, arithmetic, and spelling. These four subjects, I feel were really stressed. But we really tried to really learn them well. And discipline was very important. There was none of this talk back or anything like this. Everybody was quiet and everybody listened. And if the children reacted badly in any way, they were taken to the principal's office. [14]

They weren't given fifty chances or more. I remember one incident where one boy wouldn't keep still. I can still see the teacher trying to get him into the principal's office, which was across the street a ways. I won't tell you who he was. He'll remember. I'll bet he still remembers.

P: Could you describe the school building and the surrounding grounds?

T: I have a picture, but I'm not sure I can locate it right away.

P: A wooden building?

T: Yes, it was a wooden frame building. It was all in one. The second and third, fourth and fifth; it was all in one building. It's hard to describe it. The first grade was off across the street by itself.

P: Was this in Mrs. Cochran's old home?

T: Was it? Did she say it was her old home? It might have been. I never did know. I didn't realize this.

P: I think she said that she lived there before she got married.

T: Could have been. It was a home-like building. It was right across the street from the school, right across the street from the fire station; where "Dee Dee's Duds" is. Now "Dee Dee's Duds" is a new store in Yorba Linda, that's where the first grade was. But it wasn't that building.

P: I understand that you had potbelly stoves in the schoolrooms .

T: Yes. I suppose that's the only kind of heat we all had then. But I'm not too sure, as I didn't pay any attention to that.

P: What sort of out-of-school activities did you have? Either on the playground or home . . . [15]

T: We were made to come home, go to school, study, and come home. No monkey business in our case. My father likes to say we were angels, but we weren't, we just knew we had to obey. And we just did. It was accepted. I'll bet in your family they do the same way. Is that the truth? You know what I mean. Not angels, just obedience. A father commands respect, as he should.

P: I understand that there was an irrigation ditch that used to run outside of town and that the kids used to go swimming in it.

T: Yes. That's the one they would make into our bridle trail now.

P: Did you swim in the ditch?

T: I can't say that we did a whole lot of that, but some of the kids did. But as I said, my father kept us at home. He knew where we were. We didn't do all these things with my father; you know, you just didn't. And, as I said, I'll bet you were brought up the same way. You just didn't drift from home. They knew where you were. You know? And if you had nothing to do, they found something for you to do.

P: I understand that Yorba Linda was a big avocado and citrus producing area. Could you tell me anything about that?

T: It was especially citrus at that time. Later, I mean; right at first I can't recall that there was such a big citrus or avocado industry. But it was growing at the time when I was small. I think this is why Richard Nixon's family had a little problem because citrus was just starting out. I don't think there were really too many successful farmers or ranchers at that time. It was too new. I think they had an awful lot of hardships before they really got started. Later, the citrus industry grew to be a big industry. Most of the Yorba Linda children, during the summertime, we were kept busy by packing oranges and lemons and grading the fruit and working on the fruit washer. This is how they earned their money for school, a good part of it for many years. [16]

Now, I can't really say when this started except that I was of the age to work when [I was aware of it] it was really going good by then. And I think the trees were quite small while this industry was new, rather new. I think, as you say, that you need water for trees. All this irrigation pipeline was being put in. All the irrigation system was being set around that time. I don't remember too well. Back in 1910, 1912, 1915, and that.

P: They, at first, drew their water from wells, didn't they?

T: I was too little to remember that. I remember pipelines and remember the beautiful sound of the irrigation water flowing in the orchards and the oil wells pumping in the distance.

P: Could you tell me anything about the oil industry here in Yorba Linda? How were the oil workers accepted? Were they greeted with open arms by the people or was it sort of an infringement on the community?

T: I believe that the people of Yorba Linda accepted the oil and most everything fairly well, at least the time I remember. Everyone needed to work and everyone seemed to, I feel, cooperate pretty well with everyone else. I think that the people that were really lucky enough to have oil discovered on their property were so happy about it that I don't think that too many of us thought about the worker as being anybody except that he was lucky enough to have a job. I don't recall anything in that respect except all seemed okay.

P:Did it change the community in any way?

T:I don't think so, really.

P:Did it create oil barons or anything of this sort?

T: No. I think a few became wealthy all of a sudden, but I don't think it bothered anyone in the community. I think that everybody in general were very good friends with everyone else. Mr. Bates, I recall, was one of the early ones who was lucky enough to have oil on his [17] property. And I suppose that there were a lot of others, too, that I'm not too aware of. As a general thing, I feel the people of Yorba Linda were pretty good with each other. I think we had a very good community. I just hope we stay that way.

P:Do you remember anything of the Pacific Electric train they used to run in here?

T:Oh, yes. My father used to take it to go to the city whenever he wanted to—just go get on that Pacific Electric train and go. We had more of transportation then, than we do today.

P:I don't know how far it went, but I know it went clear to Yorba Linda. I don't know whether it went the other way.

P:What was "the city?"

T:Los Angeles.

P:Was this a big trip?

T: That was a big trip, yes. Yes, that streetcar was very important.

Mr. T: Well, it had to come here to haul the fruit away.

T:I know Mr. Hurley was one of the men that went to the city everyday to work, for a long time. The Hurleys owned a ranch, I'm not sure what year, except that I know that their youngest was in school with me. So, it ought to have been pretty much in the early times.

P:Was the main purpose of that line to run the citrus fruit into Los Angeles?

T: Well for transportation, too, but there was a street-car, too, all the time.

P: They had a train-like setup and also a streetcar?

Mr. T: Yes, they just discontinued that about five or six years. [18]

T:At first I'm not sure that it was used to haul because, the way I remember it, the trees were kind of young. Eventually, that is what it got to be.

P:Did you have any special celebrations here in Yorba Linda? I understand they used to hold a picnic, an annual picnic, or something of this sort.

T: That's kind of lately. That wasn't real early.

P: Up in the Olinda area?

T:Maybe they did. However, we didn't really go, you see. I imagine that some of the people that were really part of the community might have. I wasn't aware of it. If they did, we wouldn't have gone, because if we did anything, we did it with our own people.

P:In the area during your early years, was it all large ranches or was it small ranches? How was the area broken down?

T: Oh, I would say ten acres or so, ten to twenty acres. I wouldn't call it really large, but for citrus like that it's fair.

Mr. T: The large holders were like the Kraemers and the Bradfords . . .

T:The Tuffreys, Lemkes, Yorbas, Domingues and Vejar Ranch. The Vejar Ranch was part of the barley field up here where the new homes are.

P:Were they more of the citrus type than cattle raising or anything of these things?

T:In my time, in Nixon's time, it was more the citrus beginning. Before that, there was a lot of sheep grazing here and around here. I understand all this area was rolling hills with sheep grazing. The Etchandys and the Bastanchurys were two of the families I know that had sheep in this area.

Mr. T:In fact, when they built a dam for the lake here, the sheep were used to stomp the ground down. [19]

P: Is this Yorba Linda lake down here?

T:Yes. The Etchandys, I know, owned a lot of sheep. But I don't remember all of that too much. This was just about the time I was born or before. What I remember were small citrus trees.

P:Why wouldn't, take for instance, your father start a sheep ranch in the area?

T:He didn't have the sheep in Spain. He was from a city. Irun is a town or city. His family worked as bricklayers or in construction or that way. One of his uncles worked in building homes in Spain. My father worked in a brick factory. My father's family weren't country people. My mother's were the sheep grazing people. And these people I mentioned were from her end of the country. The Etchandys and the Bastanchurys, they were from France, southern France. They were raising sheep in that area at home. Then, naturally, when they came to this end of the world they continued that. This was very wonderful land for sheep.

P:Were there any Basque people raising sheep in this area in your time and Nixon's?

T:Not in my time. Just maybe around 1908 or thereabouts. If you wanted to know something about the Etchandys, you could probably talk to him. Mr. Etchandy had a stroke and can't even talk. But Johnny Etchandy and Mrs. Dominic Etchandy will be able to tell you anything you want to know about all that time because they were born during that time in this area. They are seventy-five to eighty-five years old now. They could tell you a lot of history.

P:When you first came, was this area sort of a desolate area? Was it settled?

T:Not to me. It wasn't desolate. In my memory, there were many little citrus orchards and lots of the little irrigation ditches being put in and modest homes being built. Nothing fancy like today—just the town more or less trying to grow.[20]

P: Were all the roads dirt roads?

T: A lot of them were dirt roads. I know my father helped with the building of the roads because I remember the big scrapers. I think they worked with Mr. Eichler a lot.

Mr. T: They hauled dirt. They hauled dirt in wagons. They built that dam over there. They built the basement in the orange house. They excavated all that out with a team. After the building was in, I believe, they said.

P: This is the orange packinghouse down here on Yorba Linda Boulevard?

Mr. T: Which is now the lumber yard. The basement is still there today.

T: That was the first one. The one where the cabinet shop or whatever it is now. The lemon house was the new house.

P: This is on Imperial and Yorba Linda Boulevard?

T: Yes. On Imperial, I wouldn't say Yorba Linda Boulevard.

Mr. T: The one on Yorba Linda Boulevard is the lemon house.

T: Yorba Linda Boulevard across where the tracks are, that's the newer one. The old one is on Imperial. It's a cabinet shop now.

P: Right across from Safeway Market?

T: You mean Michael's, don't you? Safeway is way down on Yorba Linda Boulevard.

P: I meant Michael's.

T: Yes. That old building now . . . Mr. T: Yes, the lumber yard is near there now.

P: Did you ever have any contact with Richard Nixon or any of the brothers or the mother or the father? [21]

T: Not that I'm aware of. If I did, I didn't know it.

Mr. T: Her sister did when he was Vice-P resident.

T: Well, this was lately. He means way back.

P: Well, maybe you could tell me a little about that.

T:My sister was in kindergarten when he was in second grade. Much later her husband worked with the state department for ten years. And while she was in Turkey, Richard Nixon was in Turkey for a visit. Richard Nixon was Vice-President and he was in Turkey. And when Angie heard he was going to be in the town of Ankara, she was so excited. She had gone to school with him in Yorba Linda. You know when you are away from home and you know someone else from home is coming, even if you don't know them, you get all excited. So she told him that she was from Yorba Linda and she met him in person that way.

P:You showed me a little letter that Nixon sent to you. Could you explain that to me and tell me what it is for?

T:Well, some years ago I suddenly realized that we had had someone in the Yorba Linda Grammar School every year for forty-four years. Our family had. I, being the oldest of ten; and then we having six children of our own. So, when my youngest daughter was graduating I was just reminiscing about things and I realized, my goodness, every year since 1920, for forty-four years we had someone in the school! So, I happened to mention it to someone, and they said, "Oh, that is newsworthy," you know, because Yorba Linda was little and we were very much interested in each other's news. They asked me to tell about it. So I did. And they wrote it. At that time Mrs. Paine, the principal, who had been here for thirty years was interested in what we were talking about, so she gave me some pictures of Yorba Linda School at that time. When Nixon was being inaugurated and was going to be President, I thought, well, now this would be kind of interesting to put the picture of the school in the Yorba Linda Star. But Mr. Drake said he would let me know if he wanted it. [22]

Well, in the meantime I thought, "Well, I'll just send it to Nixon. Maybe he'd be interested in it." Because I know years ago we didn't take pictures a whole lot like we do today. And I only had this because Mrs. Paine had given it to me and she was the principal of the school. So I sent it to him for a birthday present. He sent me the nicest letter acknowledging the picture. Naturally, I told him that I was in school with him and he wrote a personal little letter which I was very pleased to get.

P: You never actually met him?

T: Not that I know of.

P: Or anything in school?

T: He was just a little boy in the second grade and I was just a little girl in the first grade. And, as I said, if I knew he was going to be President, I'm pretty sure I would have at least known who he was, but I was very shy and quiet.

P: Could you give me any other names of people who might have known him when he was small?

T: Esther Dyer, I believe might.

P: How do you spell that last name?

T: Dyer, D-Y-E-R. Her father was Dr. Marshburn of Yorba Linda, our first doctor, I believe. I'm sure any of the Marshburns could tell you something about Nixon. Also, Rose Meehan, now, she used to be Rose Nay. She probably could, too.

P: How do you spell that last name?

T: M-E-E-H-A-N. And you already have Yoneka Dobashi Iwatsuru A lot of the people have moved away, too, you know. Those are the ones still around that I can think of right away.

P: Thank you very much. [23]

T: You've already interviewed Mr. Eichler, or you will. I'll probably think of someone after you leave that I can't think of now.

Mr. T: He's going to tell you a lot because he's been here.

T: Mr. Eichler was very active in the community. And so were the Demises. You might ask them. That would be Mr. Eichler's wife and her sister, Mrs. Page. That group should know quite a bit. We have a picture of one of the first cars in Yorba Linda that the Demises owned. It was used by Mr. Bemis to transport our family to my brother's baptism in El Modena. It's an Overland, I think, they tell me. I have it if you want to see it.

P:On behalf of the Richard M. Nixon Oral History Project at California State College, Fullerton, I thank you for a very interesting interview.


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