|Yorba Linda History|
|Home | Donations | Digital Collections | Map of Yorba Linda Historical Sites | Reproduction Policy | Timeline | Links to local historical societies | Yorba Linda Star index|
Mr. and Mrs. Richard "Jack" GauldinInterviewed by Milan Pavlovich, May 8, 1970
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 (c) 1977
The Oral History Program
California State University, Fullerton
CALIFORNIA STATE COLLEGE, FULLERTON
ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM
Richard Nixon Project
Early Yorba Linda
MR. and MRS. RICHARD "JACK" GAULDIN
by Milan Pavlovich
May 8, 1970
CALIFORNIA STATE COLLEGE, PULLERTON
ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM
Richard Nixon Project
INTERVIEWEE: MR,. and MRS. RICHARD "JACK" GAULDIN
INTERVIEWER: Milan Pavlovich
SUBJECT: Early Yorba Linda
DATE: May 8, 1970
MP: This is an interview for the California State College, Fullerton, Richard Nixon Oral History Program. The interviewees are Mrs. Gladys Gauldin and Mr. Richard R. Gauldin. Mrs. Gauldin baby-sat for Hannah Nixon in Yorba Linda and her husband, Mr. Gauldin, drove a delivery wagon that Mr. Richard Nixon used to ride around on. The interviewer is Milan Pavlovich. The interview was held in Mr. and Mrs. Gauldin's living room at 1370 North Citrus in La Habra at 7:30 p.m., May 8, 1970.
Mr. Gauldin, would you like to tell me a little bit about yourself?
RG: Well, Yorba Linda is of my boyhood days. I went there in 1912 when I was about sixteen years old, and I was one of the first grocery boys in the town. I worked for some fellows by the name of Stein and Fassel. They had bought out the man who originally started the store, by the name of Pulliam. And then there was just one or two other businesses that came in town. At various times the people living in the neighborhood--there was no other transportation--if they came to town, why, they would ride home with me on my grocery wagon, speaking of the McFaddens and different ones who would come into town in the morning. I would make the delivery and they would ride back with me.
The Nixon boys, who were young, would get a big kick out of riding on the truck, because automobiles were scarce in those days. And I would take the kids, so I usually took candy and different things to chum them  along a little, and all the kids seemed to want to ride on that truck. Richard was a small boy in 1916; his brother /Harold/ was a little older. I knew the family when they first came out there to Yorba Linda and had this ten-acre lemon ranch which is now part of the schoolyard. But their home is still standing there near the Anaheim Union Water Company ditch, as we always called it. When they first moved in there, the only way they could get there was through a little place they called Shaw Lane. You would come down Shaw Lane and stop the horses or the truck, whichever you happened to be driving, and deliver groceries to the local people, I didn't know much about the family after they moved to Whittier, only what I read in the papers. Richard was always a student, more a student than he was a player; he didn't play ball like he read the books.
MP: Now, were you in Yorba Linda when the Santa Fe and the Pacific Electric were bringing in lines?
RG: That's right. No, no, that was prior to my time in Yorba Linda. The Pacific Electric had already run their lines. Then they had just a stop there, with a little shade on it. I worked for a man by the name of Jim Connelly, and we graded the location for the present depot, which is a regular shipping depot, where they ship fruit as the trees begin to produce. It was all barley fields and bean fields, and when they planted trees and after the trees got up into production, why, they built packinghouses. Then they needed a depot, and there was an agent there at all times.
MP: Now, this is the depot that is located on Imperial Highway?
RG: Yes, it is. It's the one that is there at the present time, and it isn't in use at the present time. The P.E. car line and the Santa Fe railway crossed each other up west of town near Rose Drive. That's where my home was. And they had derails; every train that came through would have to throw the derails before they could cross each other. And our ranch was right there. Later on we had producing lemons. We were some of the fortunate ones; along in 1915, I guess somewhere along about that time, we leased it for oil and had one of the first oil wells in the Yorba Linda Janns Investment Company s land that they sold to the ranches. There were other oil wells in adjoining country there in Placentia.
GG: And Olinda. 
RG: And Olinda. The railroad track was put in to Olinda to haul oil out of Olinda, but we had the first oil well in that particular tract of land, which is the Janns Investment Company.
MP: Now, Olinda was the original town before the town of Yorba Linda started?
RG: That's right, yes. Olinda was one of the big boom towns in about 1896 or 1898. They had some real large wells up there that produced lots of oil. Santa Fe Oil Company owned a lot of the land.
MP: Now, I know Janns Company were the investment company, the land company, for this area. Were they also the drilling company for these oil leases?
RG: No, the Janns Investment Company was strictly a real estate company. Different individuals owned it, some fellows in Hollywood, five fellows; it was called a quintruple. Five fellows came in and put up the money to drill the well on our place. They drilled three wells; two of them were productive and one of them wasn't. In those days it was pretty hard to drill for oil; the machinery was not too strong, the ground was hard. There weren't too many that ventured out to drill a well, unless it was a big company.
MP: Were the royalties off of these oil wells like they are today? Did you receive a royalty?
RG: Yes, most of them came in and gave you a bonus for signing up with them, maybe five dollars an acre, or ten dollars, whatever you were fortunate to get. Then they gave you location money, which was for tearing out so many trees, maybe a hundred dollars a tree, whatever you valued them at that time. Then they would give you an eighth royalty, or a fifth royalty, or a sixth royalty. We happened to lease ours for a sixth royalty, sixteen and two-thirds barrels to the hundred. Oil was selling for a dollar and a half a barrel. Our well came in four hundred barrels.
MP: What made them think that there would be oil on this land?
RG: Well, there were wells producing three miles to the north of us, and there were wells producing to the south of us about five miles. In those days they didn't have too many instruments to locate oil, so you did it more or less on a chance. You drilled down until  you ran into certain formations. The geologists knew that these formations were laid down. They had something to refer to with the wells drilled north and south. And you kept going until you hit the strata.
Yorba Linda began to sell out and people came from Whittier, Anaheim, and all around because it was one of the real good locations for frost-free areas. We had heavy winds, but it was pretty well frost-free and it looked like the money was in citrus fruits in those days. Mr. Nixon, I think, came from Whittier and moved out and bought this ten-acre ranch. And that's the way the town started from different parts of the country, people moving in.
MP: Now, getting back to the oil industry. I imagine there was a great influx of oil workers into Linda area during this time.
RG: Well, most of the influx of young labor came from more or less in the Placentia district. Olinda had their own city, and their own houses, and most all of the men lived on the leases. Who didn't live on the lease, lived in Fullerton and commuted. But most of the people in the Yorba Linda area that lived there worked for the area into the Placentia area. The young people that my wife and I knew, working on what we called the rotary driller, lived in the apartment houses, which was Union Oil. The Morris lease and different oil leases in that area were a little bit later and quite active.
GG: That was after 1918.
RG: The 1920s and during the war.
MP: Now, you say there were some people that did come into the area for the oil industry. How the community accept them?
RG: Fine, because there was no ranch in Yorba Linda that was paying, and there were very few people that were in the monied class, that is, we will say with four thousand acres. There were only a few people that had enough money not to have a job along to subsidize their payments, you see. They were coming out, buying the bare land, grading, putting in their pipelines, filling the ravine, and irrigation piping and everything. So they had to work someplace. My wife had uncles that worked for the Tidewater Oil Company and others worked for the Union Oil Company, Santa Fe Oil, and all of the surrounding companies. Some even went out as fruit pickers  and all, just anything, going into the Placentia area, to make something to subsidize their income.
MP: Now, I understand that the Janns Company sold a lot of land to people back East, and they just lived back East and owned the land out here.
RG: Well, that was remote. There wasn't too many. I don't know. Like I say, locally there were lots of them lived in Whittier. The postmaster and different ones lived in Whittier and different places and came out there on weekends when they could get out; they would hire some local fellow to do their cultivating, and maybe on a Sunday the families would come out and irrigate. Oh, there was a fellow by the name of James Small who lived right north of Mr. Curtis Morris there.
GG: McClatchy owned on west side.
RG: But I don't know of too many in the East. I think it was mostly in surrounding country. There could have been one or two or maybe a dozen projects out of that much land. See, there weren't too many big landowners. There were five and ten and twenty-acre pieces. I don't know of anybody that owned a large plot of ground.
MP: Now, this is around 1912-1914?
RG: That's right.
MP: How many people would you say lived in Yorba Linda at this time, as an estimate.
RG: Oh, that would be hard to say. I would only be making a guess. I would say there were a hundred and fifty when I first went out there.
MP: So it wasn't a very populated area?
RG: Oh, no, because there were no telephones, no gas, and everything was kerosene lamps. Then it advanced quite fast, because they got power in, they got telephone in, and things like that. But it was a long time before they had natural gas or anything like that. It was mostly telephones and electricity that came in first. There was a long time you could travel some of the roads only in dry weather, and then they came in and oiled them. So it advanced fast, but it was a slow process for the person that lived there.
MP: The main two means of economic support would be the citrus industry and the oil boom, then. 
GG: That's right, the citrus fruit.
RG: The citrus- was really the first, and then you'd have to have a pretty good ten acres or you would still have to have an outside job most of the time to take care of it, because prices were down there, a freeze would come, or a wind would come. I know by our experiences on six acres that if I hadn't had a good job as a young fellow and worked along, the ranch would never have made it. And I used to work, take care of the ranch and work in the oil fields.
GG: After your trip with the grocery wagon.
RG: Yes, I went to work with the oil company in 1917 and I worked forty-five years for one company. So I more or less left the Yorba Linda area. But I was through the town practically every day because that was part of my job, looking after the oil wells.
MP: Did you start out as a roughneck?
RG: I started out driving a team of horses. I drove team and progressed all the way to assistant superintendent, and I had forty-five years when I retired, which is a pretty good record. You don't run onto too many that's got many more years than that.
MP: What company was this with?
RG: Tidewater Oil Company. It's now known as the Getty Oil Company.
MP: Now, I understand that you, Mrs. Gauldin, and you, Mr. Gauldin, both knew Frank and Hannah Nixon. I wonder, Mrs. Gauldin, could you tell me a little bit about Hannah Nixon and your experience with the Nixon family?
GG: Well, Mrs. Nixon was a wonderful woman. I happened to be just a little bit older than her children. We were neighbors, and when she would need someone to help her, I'd go down and watch the children. Donald, I believe, was the baby then. And I'd have full charge of him and, of course, of Richard and Harold, the older ones. They all played and liked to play in the water ditch that was close by. I had four brothers and most of them were down there at the time, and so were some of the other neighborhood children. We would just have to watch those children to keep them out of the water. Then one summer, while they were building Yorba Linda Boulevard, Mrs. Nixon kept boarders. They didn't stay there, they just ate their evening meal there. She  would have quite a stack of dishes, and I was the one that went in and helped her get her dishes done. I would go in right after school and help her get the dinner on the table and then stay and wash the dishes after the meal was over. Then, just being neighbors, I thought an awful lot of Mrs. Nixon, and Mr. Nixon was very nice. You know, you never get as well acquainted with Mister as you do with the lady of the house.
RG: They were church people.
GG: Yes, we all went to the same church.
MP: This is the Friends church.
GG: The Friends church there in Yorba Linda.
MP: Now, did she serve these meals to gentlemen that were working in the area?
GG: They were working on the Yorba Linda Boulevard; they were putting the Yorba Linda Boulevard in. It hadn't been a paved road before. But at that time, it wasn't for a long period of time, several of the housewives in Yorba Linda did that. See, there were no restaurants, so that's where the men would go for their evening meals, and perhaps one or two would take a room at the house and be there for their breakfast meal and lunch too. I can't remember whether Mrs. Nixon kept any overnight or not. But I was the only help she had at that time. I was a fifteen-year-old girl.
MP: Now, did she do this to supplement her income?
GG: Oh, yes.
MP: What type of meals did she serve to these gentlemen?
GG: Oh, I don't know, but they were satisfied with what they got. I can't remember what it was, just what working men would require.
RG: Most of it in the cans, I think.
GG: Oh, I don't know about that.
RG: Well I know we used to get a carload of canned goods every season there.
GG: Yes. Of course, you can't put on a meal every night in the week without having quite a bit of canned goods. But the men seemed to be satisfied with what they got. 
MP: What was the atmosphere of the family like? Was it a close-knit family?
GG: Oh, yes. And they would have their evening prayer or Bible reading and all that. Of course, that would be after I had gone home, but I knew it was taking place. And that's about all I can say. After they moved away from there, I married and moved away too, so I would just hear about the Nixons through my folks and my family. My family all knew them. My mother would visit them once in awhile, and then I would hear from them through my mother.
RG: Well, we were speaking about people coming from the East and different places. This family of the Wests, who are relatives of the Nixons, are all Indiana people and are all from a valley back there, and somebody will know this one and this one will know that one, and they migrated out here. Some of them landed in Whittier and some of them in Yorba Linda. And Mr. West was head of the Yorba Linda Water Company; he was superintendent of the Yorba Linda Water Company. He had a little power to hire other people.
GG: I never knew the Nixons in Indiana, but my mother and father knew them and knew the Wests. Well, let's see. Mrs. West was a Milhous, so they were schoolgirl chums, and then the Wests located in Yorba Linda. My mother was a sickly person and Mrs. West wrote back and asked her, "Why don't you come to California?" Well, Mr. West gave my dad a job with the water company. We came to California, and my mother got well.
RG: You lived with the Wests.
GG: Well, no, we stayed there four days.
RG: Well, that's what I mean. That's where you landed.
GG: And we soon located. It was a one-room house that we first moved into, and my dad built a house right up near the Nixons. I don't know, I think it was just about a two or three-acre lemon ranch, but it went right back up to the ditch, and I can remember that we had to carry water from the ditch to water our lemon trees until he got the pipelines in. That was some job.
MP: This was the irrigation ditch they had in front of your house?
GG: Yes, that was in front of the Nixon house and in back of our properties. 
RG: The ditch split the properties.
GG: There were five kids, and I think we all carried water, all of us.
MP: So it seems, then, like a lot of the relatives had come here after one had established.
GG: That's right. And it seems like they came from this area in Indiana to Whittier, and then from Whittier it seems like people kind of branched out here to Yorba Linda. Mrs. West and my mother were close friends as schoolgirls. When I started to school, I went to the same school Mrs. West did, and her daughter went to the same school.
RG: Back East in Indiana.
GG: Yes. That was just eight classes in one room. I was in the third grade for three years, and I believe Jessamyn West said that her mother was in the eighth grade for three years, because there was no transportation for us. I lived so far from the school. I think it was about three or four miles, and you know, there are lots of things to keep a little kid in the third grade from going to school, especially in that day and age, the snow and rain and then being sick once in awhile. Well, one year I was put back in the third grade because the other kid that was in the third grade with me the second year moved away, so I was the only third grader. So I was just put back instead of let go on into the fourth grade.
RG: The only one in the grade! (laughter)
GG: That was quite a deal.
RG: Well, Richard Nixon's cousin lives right here next to us, Merle West. Those are the Wests that she is speaking of now. We are quite close to them and we're close to the rest of the family. I know Don, Richard's brother. Although a few years went by that you didn't see each other, it seems like as you get older you kind of get back in the groove and ask this question and that, and find out you are right around a lot of people you grew up with, you see.
MP: Mr, Gauldin, did you know Frank Nixon well?
RG: Oh, yes, real well.
MP: What kind of person was he? 
RG: Well, he was always teasing me because he was older. Frank, as we always called him--I guess I called him Mr. Nixon--would always get after me to come to the Friends church. He thought I should be going more, which possibly I should have, but I was young and the bright lights had my eyes. But Mr. Nixon was Always trying to help the community, and if there was anything going on, why, he was willing to help.
MP: He taught Sunday school at the church?
RG: Yes, that's right. And she [Hannah] never did jump me much about going to church, but Frank he would get on me every once in awhile.
GG: I think he was on to everybody, because being a neighbor of his--I went to Sunday school but maybe I didn't go to church enough--he was always after me, too.
RG: He lived it himself, so we never did blame him. Oh, there was another boy or two that worked in the stores there, and he'd tell us both that we should come to Sunday meetings and so on and so forth. We'd agree with him, but we never did get over there too often. (laughter)
MP: Did you attend any of his Sunday school classes?
RG: No. She did, though.
GG: Well, he wasn't my teacher.
RG: No, but it was at the same time.
GG: It was at the same time. We all went to church at that time. I mean, that was about all there was to do in Yorba Linda.
RG: That was the entertainment.
GG: Church, and then the church group would have parties.
RG: And hayrides.
GG: Yes, I can remember one time the young people of the church all went to Laguna. We went in two wagons, over Memorial Day. I'll bet Yorba Linda was a dead place that weekend. But, anyway, we had such a wonderful time. I can't remember who drove the wagons, but there were two wagons. 
RG: They were filled full of straw. Well, that's about a ten or twelve-hour venture.
GG: Well, we started early in the morning.
RG: And got there late in the evening.
GG: Yes. And we went the back road to Laguna. Do you know where Laguna is? We went the back road there.
RG: We went out Tustin Avenue.
GG: And that was my first trip to the beach, I think, after I had come to California. Well, it was wonderful. I don't believe these kids today can look back on their younger days and remember the things that we have remembered from our days in the little town,
RG: It was a real good community. They always tried to do something for the young people. They were having parties. And they had a good bunch of young people. Their morals were pretty high. In fact, there was no drinking much in the town of Yorba Linda. In some of the surrounding towns, why, you could buy liquor and all, but even there they didn't have the people bringing it home. They seemed to be a different bunch of people.
GG: As I remember, I don't think I ever knew of anyone that used liquor. I didn't know anyone.
MP: Didn't the church buy the license?
RG: Yes, but that was a long time after.
GG: But as a child or a young girl, I never remember hearing of any liquor whatsoever. In fact, I didn't know much about it.
RG: Well, I was a little older, seventeen or eighteen years old, and I more or less took Olinda as my headquarters. It was an older town, and it was a city. There were about 3000 people lived up there. I suppose at this time it would be pretty hard to get 200 or 250 into Yorba Linda, and there was 3000 up in Olinda. Well, there was more activity and more for a young boy to want to venture out for. And up there you would see drunks and you would see liquor, and if you were in somebody's house, why, they would offer you drinks. But I never had that in Yorba Linda. As I say, not that the morals weren't high in Olinda, but it was much more of a religious town in Yorba Linda. And the ones that weren't didn't expose anything that wasn't right. 
MP: Most of the people in Yorba Linda at that time were Quakers or Methodists, weren't they?
RG: Yes, they were.
GG: And they were a good class of people, too.
RG: Homelike people.
GG: As I remember it, Olinda was just kind of a wild place. It was a boom town and it was an oil town.
RG: Big money!
GG: But Yorba Linda was more of a country town.
RG: Well, you had to scramble to get your groceries in Yorba Linda, and work hard.
GG: I felt they were better people.
RG: The people up at Olinda were fine people, but they had more. A lot of them had automobiles; it was ten automobiles to one in Yorba Linda, because their salaries were high and they were making lots of money. Come easy and go easy.
MP: Mrs. Gauldin, you were saying that you worked with Hannah. Did she have many activities in the community that she was active in?
GG: Just the club, the Women's Club, and the church. You know, there were always meetings of the church. I don't remember just what they were. As I say, I babysat for her. People in those days didn't have a baby-sitter to go shopping; I often wonder when they bought anything at all. But they would have meetings; you know, the church would have meetings or maybe potlucks or something like that. And that's when I would go down and watch the boys. And I wasn't the only one; Jessamyn West did, too.
MP: She watched the Nixon boys also?
GG: Yes, she watched them, too. She and I were about the same age, and she was a cousin of theirs. She is Richard's cousin.
MP: Could you tell me anything about the boys as individuals?
GG: No, because they were just little boys, all of them, and then I was just a kid, too. I was fifteen, but  I wasn't like the twelve-year-olds of this day. I had quite a few brothers; I had four, in fact, and a sister. People in Yorba Linda just thought I knew all about kids, which I guess I did, and they trusted me with their children when other girls would want to go sit with their children. They thought I had brothers and sisters enough that I knew what to do in case of an emergency. I mean, she didn't hire somebody to come in and do housework and things like that, while she was in Yorba Linda. People were just too poor for that. And I made ten cents an hour for washing dishes.
MP: At her house?
GG: At her house. I not only washed dishes for her, I ironed for some of our other neighbors at age fifteen, and that was my price. I got ten cents an hour. But I made enough money to buy my shoes, and I spent it for clothes. I didn't throw it away or buy candy bars.
MP: She paid you from the money she got from these workers?
MP: What did she charge them?
GG: I have no idea.
MP: What was the Nixons' economic situation at this time? How would you consider the family, as middle class or a poor family?
RG: They were average at that time.
GG: Average for Yorba Linda, but I'll tell you, we were all pretty poor.
RG: They had plenty to eat and plenty of clothes, but they had no ready cash. Most of the people that I dealt with had very little ready cash other than what they had saved up for the payment to Janns Investment Company. We bought our ranch and we paid 6 percent interest. We had to scrape, and we paid twice a year to a gentleman in Los Angeles. "Well," my mother would say, "Well, now we have to do this and this, and we need so much money on such-and-such a date." So our groceries might be a little bit lean so that we could save for those days.
GG: And I think all the families in Yorba Linda, or most all of them, were of the same caliber and had to watch  for the next payment and save for it. Of course, Hannah Nixon's father was pretty well to do. And I am just an outsider, I have no idea just how much help they had. But I just know that he [Frank Nixon] had to work.
MP: I understand that this is what drove Frank on to work harder. I understand he put in long hours and so forth because he wanted to show her side of the family that he was a good man.
GG: Well, he probably did.
RG: I don't know, and I wouldn't make this as a known statement, but I thought he worked for the Union Oil Company in the oil fields. I don't know whether you've heard that or not. But I understand he worked for the Union Oil Company for awhile. Her uncle did live there right nearby.
GG: I think they both worked for some oil company, but then it didn't last for very long.
RG: Oh, no, maybe a year or two, something like that.
GG: And then didn't Frank cultivate other orchards?
RG: Oh, yes. Later they got tractors.
GG: Well, at that time he did it by horse and plow.
RG: But later, I don't know just how long, but most of them out there had their teams, and there was a fellow by the name of Mr. Cobb. I can't think of that other family, but Curtis Morris took care of it. Any people that lived in Whittier and didn't have transportation, why, the neighbors would cultivate and furrow it all out for irrigation. And then the family, if they could come out, would come out and do their own irrigating. But even out from Whittier was a day's travel in those days, unless you had an automobile.
MP: So, we could say that they got most of their money from Frank working as a carpenter, cultivating, and also he might have worked for an oil company?
MP: Their grove was not producing at this time?
GG: Well, it was quite a few years before.
RG: It takes four or five years before it does anything. 
GG: And then I don't think it ever produced enough to support a family of four or five. I don't think it ever supported that many, because things were so bad. Prices of fruit were down.
RG: Well, you just about had to have a job.
GG: And the water bills were quite high. You had not only the payments on your land, but you had assessments on the water that you irrigated with. So that was high. I can remember my folks saying, "Well, we are going to have an assessment for the year." And they were all in the same boat, most everybody. My folks weren't quite as fortunate as some of them.
RG: Some of the women lived there and the men came home on weekends. Now, Mr. Shepard, you know, came out and bought the ranch and after they planted the trees, why, the wife and two Shepard girls more or less ran the ranch alone, and he would come home on weekends. I think there are quite a few families I could mention, lots of them, that did that. So that's the way the town started, and that's the way it grew.
MP: Now, Mrs. Gauldin, since you worked for Hannah, and maybe you too, Mr. Gauldin, could think about this. They say that the Nixon family was a matriarchal family. In other words, it was mother-dominated.
GG: I can't remember that it was. Now, this is the way I felt about her: she was a sweet woman, she was very nice to me, very nice. When he [Frank] would speak, they obeyed. Well, I don't know. Hannah was just a timid woman. You know, I didn't hear any cross words there at all. I just thought she was such a nice woman.
RG: Well, that's the way I found her. I delivered groceries, and in those days, why, sometimes the meat wasn't what they thought. But she was always real pleasant. She said, "Well, next time be sure you do this" or "Bring me some other cut." I had that practically every place I stopped, because we weren't butchers, and I was one of them that had to cut the meat. Later on, as the town grew, why, the store was large enough to have a meat cutter come in. But in the early days we did most of the butchering ourselves. We had a big walk-in cooler. So I was just a kid. I didn't know too much about what cut I was going to give somebody.
MP: So, then, we could say that the family actually had two ways to go; the mother was gentle and the father had the last say. 
GG: Well, yes, you could say that.
RG: Not any more, I think, than the average person might be under those strains of raising a family.
GG: And then there were the hardships of money.
RG: We don't know that much about their personal lives.
MP: Would you know who did the disciplining in the family, if there was any disciplining?
GG: Look, I know more about that by reading little skits here and there. I believe it was Jessamyn West who wrote that Prank used to get mad at the kids when they would get in the ditch, and he would just up and throw them back in the ditch. He would be mad at them. He'd throw them back in the ditch. But I never knew that, I never experienced that, I never saw that at all.
RG: I never saw him mad.
GG: I've seen him mad.
RG: But you would have a chance, too.
GG: Yes, I would, because I was around there with the kids. Well, it's just like a neighborhood. This neighbor with five kids and this one with three, they all played together, and of course, I had to see that they were all taken care of. If one of them fell in the ditch, I was the one to have to see to it.
RG: They didn't have it cemented in those days.
GG: No, they didn't.
RG: It was a dirt wall.
GG: Golly, we didn't know what a bathing suit was. Kids would just get their old clothes on and go jump in.
MP: This was their entertainment, swimming in the irrigation ditch?
GG: Yes, that's right.
RG: There weren't any of these balls and all of these modern toys. There was a stick horse made out of a broom and things like that. That was their entertainment. 
GG: And that's funny, they never had any ball games.
RG: They played catch a lot.
GG: I know they played catch, but not like the kids do today. And I can't ever remember going to the school-ground or anyplace that the boys would have a ball park or a ball diamond.
RG: Oh, they did have.
GG: No, they didn't,
RG: That came in later years.
MP: It was make-up games that they would play.
GG: Yes, it was just make-up games.
RG: Called "sandlot playing."
GG: But you see, Richard was quite a bit younger than me, and by the time he was in school, I was gone. He was just a little three-year-old boy when I was there with them.
MP: Did he play by himself, or did he play with others?
GG: I don't remember.
RG: He has been more or less a student, though, according to what we hear from the younger ones now. He'd just as soon be a student as to be a baseball player.
GG: Well, that was later in life.
RG: We don't know those things.
GG: When I was watching after the boys, they were just little fellows. Donald was a baby. I don't know how much older Richard is than Donald.
RG: Well, he was born in 1913, and when you're talking about, he was about four years old. I'm talking about him when he was about four or five, along in there, and the other boy would be about eight or nine. Well, he would bring them over to town and they would ride home with me if they got a chance.
MP: Now, this is when you were working in the store. 
RG: That's right.
MP: Dick and his brother Harold would ride with you?
RG: Yes. Like I say, I would always have some candy or bananas or something like that. They all liked me, and if they were over in town they would wait around to ride home with me. And most of them tried to figure out when I was going that direction.
GG: I think even the housewives did that, or anybody that could get a ride instead of having to walk home.
RG: Oh, yes, they did that.
MP: Could you remember anything about what Richard was like when he was riding on this wagon? Did he talk to you at all?
RG: Oh, yes, and he remembers me. I talked to him before he was senator, and he was in Los Angeles on a Republican campaign one time. I talked to him when he was in town and he remembered me from Yorba Linda.
GG: I haven't spoken to him since long before 1920. I can't remember ever seeing him after they moved to Whittier. I can't remember. Of course, I never met him on the streets of Whittier. I just read in the paper about him.
RG: He would remember you. You see, you more or less live your own life. You hear somebody today and all. By differences in age, why, my wife is sixty-nine and I'm seventy-two; we're in just a little older bracket, and he was in college and around Whittier. We knew all these things, and we were glad for him and each time we saw his name in print, why, we thought, "Well, he is working up, but he deserves it. He worked hard for it, so, hope he does a good job and continues on."
MP: Now, getting back to when you were driving this delivery wagon and he was riding with you, would you say that he was very talkative?
RG: Oh, just more or less what little kids would be; if I'd tease him or something like that, there was a conversation going on. Well, like we say, he was four or five years old, so he would only carry on a conversation if you asked him something.
GG: He wasn't to an extreme enough for us to remember him. 
RG: No, in anything he did, he wasn't to the extreme.
MP: Would you consider him a timid child?
RG: No, I wouldn't. He wasn't bashful in that way.
GG: I don't think he was. He wasn't around me, anyway.
RG: He wasn't around me, either. And Frank was never bashful, he came pretty natural; his father more or less liked to be out in public.
MP: Well, if he was not a quiet boy, would he be a boy that would get into any mischief?
RG: No, I wouldn't say so. That's the reason I say he was more of a student.
GG: And his brother Harold was a nice little boy.
RG: Those things would all come along later, you know, when you are twelve or thirteen.
GG: They were too young for mischief when we knew them. I mean, just too young for mischief.
RG: That is, he wasn't the sassy type. That is, if you were left in charge of him, he respected you.
GG: I believe that Richard himself said that his mother was the one that corrected them all. Maybe she was, I don't know.
RG: Oh, I think Hannah would do that, give them a talking to and keep them in line in what she thought was right or wrong. Frank might do more punishing, but I think she was the mother type,
MP: More of a verbal punishment from her?
GG: Well, probably.
RG: Yorba Linda, you know, is come back on the map in the last few years, and now it is pretty well-known all over the country. And it is going to be quite a good-sized city in the future.
MP: Did you know Richard when he was going to school?
GG: No, it was just before he went to school. We were neighbors to him. 
MP: Now, you came to Yorba Linda just before he was born, is that right?
RG: I did.
MP: Did you know Frank Nixon at this time?
RG: Possibly, I am sure that I did, because I was the grocery boy in there from 1912 to 1916.
GG: That was about your first job, wasn't it?
RG: It was my first job. Oh. no; my first job was digging tree holes and working around locally, close by. But soon as I kind of got acquainted, then I went down to Yorba Linda and got a job at the store. I worked in a store in Whittier and delivered groceries all through the East Whittier district, where the Milhouses and lots of them lived, and this gave me a little edge going to work for this grocery company in Yorba Linda, When I moved out there, I went out and hunted for a job and told them I had had some experience. So they gave me a chance and I was successful, I guess. I worked there quite awhile.
MP: At the birth of Richard, was there any special reaction from the family?
RG: Just another child in the Yorba Linda district.
MP: It said in a book that I have read that it was the coldest day in Yorba Linda history.
GG: I believe it did say that. That's what it says in this history of Yorba Linda. That was the coldest day.
MP: The book written by Mrs. Butz.
RG: Yes. Of course, those are the things that at my age I didn't pay any attention to in those days. It was cold weather--rains and winds.
GG: It seems to me that Yorba Linda used to be an awfully cold place.
RG: Well, it was cold and windy. You see, there was no windbreak. The Santa Ana wind would come up and the houses weren't constructed for bad weather. The wind might blow the roof off the barn or off the house. Now, those [things] are overcome by knowing what to do first. The wind might blow just as hard today, but the construction is fixed so it won't blow the roof off. 
MP: I understand that during this time you had a lake in Yorba Linda on Buena Vista.
RG: Yes, that was a manmade lake by the Anaheim Union Water Company. At one time the Santa Ana River ran water the year round, and the Anaheim Union Water Company went up near Prado Dam and had an earth ditch come all the way down through and distributed water all throughout the Anaheim district. They had to get altitude, for everything was just on gravity flow; there were no pumps, and most everything was gravity flow. This lake on Buena Vista belonged to the Anaheim Union Water Company.
MP: Now, I understand that the boys of the town used to fish in this thing.
RG: Oh, yes. I've done that, and swam in there. They didn't allow you to swim in it, but occasionally we would swim across the lake. There was a Spanish family that ran it. Some of the family still lives out there. They were the Navarros, Ralph Navarro and his father. The old gent used to be the zanjero that drove the buggy and patrolled the ditch all the time. He was the one that would run the kids out of there, because they didn't want any lawsuits if somebody drowned. Occasionally it had to go under a roadway and go through a pipe, with the water flowing quite fast, so if you didn't get out in time you would have to go through this submerged pipe. That's why they tried to keep you from swimming in the ditch.
MP: Did you know if any of the Nixon boys went swimming or fishing there?
RG: Oh, yes. Well, I don't know about the lake. I am sure they did, because ... Of course, I left there, I think Richard lived in Yorba Linda eight or nine years. So, if his brother was three years older than him, they possibly ventured out that far, which would be a mile and a half from their place, you see, or like that. But we used to catch catfish and fishes, perches and carp and things like that.
GG: Will you excuse me, unless there is another question you want to ask?
RG: Have you anything more you want to ask her?
MP: Well, I was going to ask just a couple of things here. I was wondering, would you think Richard took after his mother or his father? 
RG: He looks more like his father.
GG: Well, I will tell you, I don't remember what he was like as a little kid. I just don't remember. They were all just kids together. Since he has grown up, when he makes a speech I can see some of his father in his features. I can see that. But then, looking at him, he is just Hannah all over again. I mean, he looks so much like his mother.
MP: What traits would you see from his father?
GG: His hot temper.
MP: His temper?
GG: He gets pretty riled up. He has at times. Now, that's what I see. I don't know, I shouldn't say that on this tape. This is all hearsay. I never saw Frank very mad never have seen him whip the children.
MP: No, that's fine.
GG: Well, I know it's all history to you.
MP: They say that when Richard is confronted with a problem, he sticks with his problem until it is solved. Was this a trait of anyone in the family?
GG: Not that I know of. I don't know.
RG: Those would be things I wouldn't know, either.
GG: You see, Richard was just a little kid and I was just a young girl. As I said, I was fifteen, but I don't think I was any older than a twelve-year-old. About all I knew was how to take care of children and to see that they kept out of mischief. That's about all I knew.
MP: Could you remember any boyhood characteristics that might have been carried over into his later years?
RG: I think that developed after he moved into Whittier. Or at least after I moved away from Yorba Linda. See, he was only eight years old, possibly, when he left Yorba Linda.
GG: I believe he was nine. 
RG: Well, nine, so he couldn't possibly have made too much of a plan for his future or anything. Then he got to be a real good student and he seemed to take to the books, and that's why he went into the law business. We didn't know him at that time. Those are the things we hear through friends and all, but we do know that at that time he was interested in school and followed through with success. And then he had a good reputation at the college and a good reputation in the city of Whittier, so the people of Whittier got back of him and that's what got him into politics pretty deep.
MP: Could you tell me anything about his religious life in Yorba Linda when he was small?
RG: No. I don't know a thing about it.
MP: They went to church regularly, every Sunday?
GG: Yes, they went to Sunday school just like all the rest of us did. Of course, the whole family went, and that's about all I know. I suppose they kept on going after I quit. I left Yorba Linda and got married, but even as a sixteen or seventeen-year-old girl going to Sunday school, you know, you don't pay attention to the little ones. You just don't pay attention, that's all. You maybe say hello to them.
RG: You went there to more or less pay attention to the older ones.
GG: The big boys, I think. (laughter)
MP: I was wondering, when you worked for Hannah, would Richard rather have played outside or have been the in house?
GG: I have no idea.
RG: I am sure he would [be outside], because the rest of them, her brothers, were playing.
GG: All the kids were playing outside. I can't remember having to shoo the kids outside or anything like that. I can't ever remember doing anything like that. I was a mother's helper; that's about all you could term me, a mother's helper. And my main job at one time was washing dishes, and the other time it was watching after the kids. 
MP: Did Hannah or Frank ever talk to you about the boys' likes or dislikes?
MP: This was all just kept in the family?
GG: Well, as far as I know, they wouldn't have talked to me, anyway. I was just another kid, you see. I was just a kid, but I had enough sense to know how to watch after kids.
RG: Well, you were raising your brothers.
GG: Yes, I had all these brothers. I've got a brother the same age as Richard Nixon, and they played together a lot and got into fights. Of course, I don't know what the fights were about.
MP: Oh, your brothers fought with the Nixon boys?
GG: My brothers would get into fights. Maybe it was over a spool or a top or anything, I don't remember. There was never anything that caused parents to get into it. You see what I mean?
MP: Did Richard get in on these, too?
GG: Oh, yes! He was a boy. He wasn't a sissy. But as I say, there were no fights that ever brought parents into it.
MP: Could you suggest any names of any other people that I may contact to interview about Richard when he was a small boy in Yorba Linda?
RG: Well, have you ever contacted Hurless Barton? You have. How about Hoyt Corbit?
MP: We are going to speak to Mr. Corbit.
GG: Those are the adults, but you would be better off to see the kids, his schoolmates that could remember some of those things.
MP: How about your brothers?
RG: Well, he is up north now. He just left. He lives up near Bridgeport, near Carson City, Nevada.
MP: What is his name? 
RG: Kenneth Ryan. He went to school and then, well, I don't think your brother Paul would know more than what we know now.
GG: Well, he played with Richard. He is sixty and Richard is fifty-eight, isn't he?
MP: Paul Ryan?
RG: Yes, that's her brother,
MP: Where does he live?
RG: He lives on Bastanchury Road in Yorba Linda. It used to be Citrus. And his name is Paul Ryan and he is in the Orange County book. And it possibly would still be Citrus Avenue. Wouldn't it be, in the book?
GG: In this year's book, yes, because they just changed it last year to Bastanchury,
RG: And he lives right off of the Yorba Linda Boulevard.
GG: Not Yorba Linda Boulevard, Imperial Highway,
RG: And Paul has lived in Yorba Linda most all of his life. He lived awhile in Garden Grove, but he has been one that stayed right in the town. He was interviewed by Ralph Story.
GG: Did you see him on the T.V., the Yorba Linda program?
MP: No, I didn't see that.
GG: Well, they wanted to know who to dedicate the plaque of Yorba Linda to. And some of them thought it should go to Richard Nixon, and some of them thought it should go to the avocado. And I don't think anybody ever got a plaque for it. But that's the way it was. But they were on. It was a coffee club, Ralph Story went out and interviewed. It's been run on T V. two or three times.
MP: Could you tell me any of the other neighbors around the Nixon family?
GG: Frankly, I don't know who lived in that house on Shaw Street.
RG: I don't know either, at that time. How about Chauncy Eichler? Have you got his name? 
GG: Now, he was an adult.
RG: Well, I know, but he has never left Yorba Linda. He had come in there in the early days, and the only time he was out of there was when he was in the service. Chauncy Eichler, and his wife is named Edith Beemis. The two of them are some of the old original families that were in Yorba Linda. And like I was saying, there's Hurless Barton, Hoyt Corbit, Chauncy Eichler, Edith Beemis, and then Viola Beemis was there. Her name is Page now.
MP: What is her husband's first name?
MP: These people all live in Yorba Linda now?
RG: Yes, they live there now. And Fred Johnson was one of the originators out there. His was one of the first families.
MP: Now, did all these people know Richard as a boy, do you think?
RG: Yes, maybe just as my wife and I knew them growing up and knew the family. Dr. Cochran is there in Yorba Linda. George Kellogg is in there, and a fellow by the name of Austin Marshburn. Quite a few of the old-timers getting up to eighty years old know the history of the country from when it was bean fields and the barley fields.
MP: Would you remember a Miss George who taught school in Yorba Linda? Her name is Skidmore now.
RG: If that's the same Skidmore, she's a lady our friends say lives in Fullerton. These friends of ours, named Charlie and Mary Murphy, live at 1715 North Olive in Anaheim. Now, Mr. Murphy came out from the East, and he lived in the area back in Indiana, from where different families came to Yorba Linda. He migrated from Indiana out here through acquaintances.
MP: He knew the Milhouses and the Wests?
RG: Well, he knew the Milhouses and he knew the Wests. I don't know whether he knew the Nixons. He'd best answer that question. She [Mary Murphy] knew some of the Milhouses and she knew the Nixons after they came to California because they lived right there on  Park Avenue, which is right close within a block of the Nixon home.
MP: Now, this is in Yorba Linda?
RG: Yes, Mary lived in Yorba Linda, so they would know some of the ancient history. Now, it would be better if you could find somebody like Roy Knight in Yorba Linda. Do you have his name yet?
MP: We might have it,
RG: Well, Roy Knight lives there on . . .I just don't know what street it is, but he is there in Yorba Linda, and he was born there and spent most of his life there. He was zanjero of the water company, the same job as my father-in-law had, Pat Ryan. Roy would be a good contact too. He would have been going to school with Richard and he would have known the families in play days, when they were playing with each other. And there are some of the May children, but most of them have ventured out there to Indio and different places. But I don't know if maybe Paul Ryan, my brother-in-law, could give you the names of a few of them that are still living right there and who went to school with the kids. That gives you a good history.
MP: Thank you very much.
END OF INTERVIEW 
Top of page