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

Paul Ryan

Interviewed by Milan Pavlovich, May 15, 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 [Intro]


Richard M. Nixon Project

Richard Nixon as a Neighbor O.H. 941


Interviewed bv Milan Pavlovich

on May 15, 1970 [Title Page]

O.H. 941


Richard M. Nixon Project


INTERVIEWER: Milan Pavlovich

SUBJECT: Richard Nixon as a Neighbor

DATE: May 15, 1970

P:This is an interview with Mr. Paul Ryan for the Richard M. Nixon Oral History Project at California State College, Fullerton. Mr. Ryan is being interviewed by Milan Pavlovich in his living room at 17671 East Bastanchury in Yorba Linda at nine o'clock in the morning, Friday, May 15, 1970.

Mr. Ryan, I understand you were a neighbor of the Nixons when they lived in Yorba Linda. Would you like to tell me a little about yourself; when you came to Yorba Linda and why?

R:Yes. We came in March of 1914, I believe it was, from Indiana. The reason we came was for my mother's health. She had lung trouble and Mrs. West, who is a cousin to Hannah Nixon, talked us into coming out for her health. It proved to be beneficial. We've been here ever since. Of course, during the fifty-six years that I've been here, I was in Anaheim two years and in Garden Grove one year.

P:When you came to Yorba Linda, what did your father do?

R:Well, he was called a zanjero for the Yorba Linda Water Company. Mr. West was the superintendent at that time. He was the first superintendent that they had, and was in charge of all irrigation water. He had to have dikes for irrigation so that everybody wouldn't be drawing on the line at the same time. It was his duty to keep it balanced so they could all irrigate, but not all at once. He was on that until he passed away; in 1939 I believe it was, when he passed away. [1]

P:Now, you mentioned zanjero?

R:Zanjero, it's a Spanish word.

P:Meaning "in charge of"?

R:"In charge of" or "caretaker of the water."

P:I understand that when the Wests came out that they would write back to their relatives in Indiana telling them to come to Yorba Linda, and I understand they would give jobs out in the water company. Was this true?

R:Well, that's the way my father got his job, through Mr. West, although we weren't relatives. My mother and Mrs. West were school chums. I believe one of the brothers, who was a Milhous, came out and worked for the water company. His name was Walter and he had a son named Jess. Yes, I'm sure that's what it was.

P:So it was kind of a family affair, family and friends?

R:Yes, up to a certain point, but there was others in it too.

P:What was Yorba Linda like when you first came out here?

R:Well, it was just like a filling station out in the desert almost. There were very, very few people here. As I remember, there were only about thirteen houses in what they called the Town District. There were ranches and farmers around. The store, the post office, and the hardware were all in one building. It wasn't long after that, or about that time that the Orange Packinghouse was built, and then things began to grow a little bit. I think in 1916, I recollect, they paved Yorba Linda Boulevard and that was the first paved street we had. We used to try to get to Anaheim once in a while but we'd have to go by dirt roads, then it was a little bit easier. There was lots of room for the Kids to run.

P:When they built this packinghouse, was citrus then the major industry, so to speak?

R:Oh, yes. Oranges and lemons, but at that time it was primarily lemons. More lemons than there were oranges. As time went on, I think it reversed itself, there were more oranges. Then the avocado came in but that was later. I don't remember the year when avocados got so they could pick them, but the parent Fuerte avocado tree is still living on this street, just about a half a mile up the road. [2]

P:Right on Bastanchury here?

R:Yes. That's where they have gotten most of the buds, or at least the start of the buds for the Fuerte avocado in the United States. That's the best producing avocado there is.

P:This is the tree that was started from that avocado tree in Mexico?

R:Yes. Mr. Wheaton was the other gentleman that owned it at that time. Now I'm not clear in my mind whether he went down there and brought it home, or somebody brought it and he bought it from them. But if you'd talk to Mr. Corbit he could tell you.

P:I think it's been mentioned that in the Butz Book that a fellow from a nursery went down there.

R:Well, I had it in my mind that's what it was too.

P:Now, the buildings in Yorba Linda; were they Spanish type buildings or were they mostly just of wood?

R:Mostly just of wood. Whoever had an idea, that's what they built. I mean, there was no particular plan. Just what one family could afford and build, that's what they built. Quite a few of them are still standing. Of course, they've been altered considerably. That 1915 home of ours is still standing, but it doesn't look like the same place. The Nixon home is still there.

P:This home is the one that was right behind the Nixons, across the ditch?

R:Yes. It was east of the Nixons.

P:Did they get the wood for the houses from around this area or was it brought in from a lumber company?

R:No, the San Pedro Lumber Company—see the Pacific Electric had a line running into here then and the San Pedro Lumber Company made arrangements with Pacific Electric—they had a lumber yard right uptown there. I guess it had started just about that time, about 1914 when we came here.

P:I also understand that you had an oil boom here in Yorba Linda. Can you tell me anything about that?

R:Well, there's been several of those. But the biggest one was back in, oh, I can't tell you for sure, the dates, 1916, 1918, 1919 somewhere, maybe 1920. We call it [3] Yorba Linda, but some of it is actually in Placentia. It was on the Chapman Ranch where they brought the first well in. I can still remember as a child standing uptown and seeing that oil shoot over the crown block. There were quite a few five thousand barrel wells in those days. But they didn't know enough and they let the gas get away. Eventually, the flow of the oil went down, see. Well now the wells are not near as productive, but they are paying off. Right here in the foothills, north of us here, Shell Oil owns all this now. They have over six hundred producing oil wells, from approximately five or six hundred foot depth of heavy oil. They're pumping steam into the structure and softening that up. A well that might have done ten barrels before, will maybe do a hundred now. So it's really paying off for the Shell Oil Company right now.

P:These wells when they were drilled, did they have the wooden superstructure?

R:Oh, yes. The originals did.

P:And the steam engine-driven pumps?

R:Yes, the one cylinder. You could hear them all over town.

P:When they blew out, did they give much pollution to the surrounding area?

R:In the near vicinity of the well, yes. Of course, a lot of them were drilled on bare land where there were no trees or anything. But this was Chapman property, as I remember it, and it had small orange trees. It wasn't too long until they had it shut in, but the surrounding area around the rig itself was pretty well messed up.

P:Did they dig a floating pond in those days?

R:They had what they called a sump hole, yes. It would take care of a certain amount of it. Just a dirt bank, they'd take a team of horses and what they would call a Fresno or scraper, and they would scrape up a hole in the ground with a bank. That was their sump hole. Of course, nowadays they tank and everything sealed in, it's not near as dangerous.

P:How did they transport the oil from those wells?

R:Well, I think the first ones, they would do it by a tank and truck. It wasn't very long until they had the bigger oil companies like Mobil Oil and Standard Oil, I believe, put in pipelines that went clear to the harbor and still does. [4]

P:Now, you mentioned the Chapman Ranch in Placentia there any other big ranches around this area?

R:Well, there was the Chapman Ranch and the Bradford Ranch. They're both considered in Placentia, but they're right on the border between Yorba Linda and Placentia. They're on Linda Vista or Rose Drive as it's called now. I worked for twenty-two years on a ranch on Van Buren here called the Blattner Ranch. It wasn't as big as those other two, but it was sixty acres. It was owned by two gentlemen that were the originators of the Richfield Oil Company. Then of course, years later they got out of it and somebody else got in. But they were the originators of the Richfield Oil Company.

P:Was this a citrus ranch or a cattle ranch?

R:Oranges mostly. Most of this district has been citrus and avocados.

P:Now you say these two gentlemen were the original owners of Richfield?

R:Yes, they were the founders. One was named Symington the other was named Kellogg. They've both passed away now.

P:Did they have wells on their property? Is that how they got started?

R:Well, no. They had wells on their property, but Standard Oil drilled them, and later turned them over to the Hathaway Oil Company because they weren't too productive. No, at that time Richfield was a small company, just something they started and after they (Symington and Kellogg) got out of it, why, it grew bigger. I think up in Santa Barbara, in that area, is where they got their big start, they had a big field up there.

P:I understand that besides Yorba Linda you also had a town around here named Olinda.

R:That's right.

P:And was this a boom town?

R:Well, it was primarily owned by the Santa Fe Railroad and the Chancellor-Canfield Midway Oil Company, which is the same thing. The railroads had the oil company and they discovered oil there way back, oh, in 1896, before the turn of the century. They produced and they're producing oil in those hills up there. [5]

P:Now, was Olinda located up here in the canyon?


P:That's Brea Canyon?

R:No, not Brea Canyon. It's the entrance to Carbon Canyon. It's where your Union Research is, just go right straight up there. That's where Olinda used to be, up the hill, just as you enter Carbon Canyon. There used to be a spur from a railroad run. It came from there down to this one in Atwood and that's the way they shipped their oil, by tanker. Yorba Linda shipped a lot of theirs the same way.

P:I understand Olinda was a livelier town than Yorba Linda. Could you tell me anything?

R:Well, yes. I think it was; it was all one oil company and they had, what would you call it, boarding houses for the employees like the single men, you know. They had a big dance hall and recreation for them up there. There was more of that going on than there was in Yorba Linda because Yorba Linda was more family people. Mostly everyone was married, you know. In Olinda there was a lot of young fellows. I guess, of course, I was a little bit too young to mix into it then. They moved out most of the house and everything up there now. Nothing is there except the oil wells. Everything is underground. They pump it by pipe so they don't need the railroad. It the railroad isn't there anymore, but they're still drilling wells occasionally. They find new methods and always find a new sand or something like that. They find, too, that this country is just full of what you call earthquake faults and you can move a hundred feet on one side of the fault and won't get anything but on the other side, you'll get a good well. You don't know which direction they run in. I found that out. The oil game, I've been around it quite a while and it's very interesting. They keep learning new things, too, like this steam deal on the Shell.

P:You worked for a number of years for an oil company?

R:Not a number of years, no. I worked for what was called Cal-Pet, which was the original Texaco Oil Company when they were down below here, as a boy. I was twenty years old then. I worked for a few independents for short period of time. But for seven years, I worked for what is known as Standard Brands. It's Fleishman yeast, Chase and Sanborn Coffee, Royal gelatins and many other wholesale products. During that period—it was in the 1930s—I got reacquainted with the Nixons, that is, except Richard, he was gone. They had the store up on Whittier Boulevard and I serviced it [6] twice a week. Don worked there, he was the butcher at first and then later on he took over everything. Mrs. Nixon worked in the store most of the time and even Frank quite a bit. I never did though, during the two or three years I served there, get to see Richard. That was after he graduated from Whittier College, I understand, and he was going to Duke University. It's kind of a strange thing to say—I don't know whether I should or not—but the old man Frank Nixon told me one day, before Richard ever went into politics--he was at Duke University—and he said, "The Republican Party is grooming that boy for big things." He didn't explain anything, that's all he said. Well, it turned out to be, whether they were grooming him for it or not, he got it.

P:Now, when you lived in Yorba Linda, here with the Nixons living right behind you, did you play with some of the Nixon boys?

R:Oh, yes, surely.

P:Could you tell me a little bit about your days with them?

R:Well, like I said before, Richard was six years younger and naturally he was just a little kid to me. I can remember he used to cry loud. He'll admit that. Harold, his older brother, was more my age and I associated with him quite a bit. He was, as I remember him, a jolly type of fellow, I mean a practical joker. He was always kidding somebody; playing jokes on them. I don't remember, he might have been a year older or he might have been a year younger, but he's almost the same age I am. We used to go down to their house when the folks weren't around and nobody could stop us, and we would all go in the ditch to go swimming. I think every kid in Yorba Linda has. We weren't supposed to, but nobody really cared. See, it went right in front of their house, so we could get in without much trouble.

P:Now, I understand that when Frank would catch the kids in there he'd be pretty mad about it.

R:Well, as I remember Frank at the time, I thought he had an awful temper. He was an awful rough guy, but it was just his way. He really wasn't that bad, he just sounded that way. But he was strict, he told the kids he wanted them to do something, he meant it.

P:Then did you ever see him get so mad he would pick somebody out of the ditch and then throw them back in?

R:Not to my recollection, no. temper. But I do know he had quite a temper. [7]

P:Did he do the disciplining for the family?

R:I would say he did most of it, yes.

R:Was this in spankings or just verbal abuse?

R:Well, I would say mostly verbal. I could have seen him give a spanking, but to my knowledge I can't remember any of it. But that's been too many years ago, I just couldn't say.

P:I imagine as young boys you had a lot of things that you could do around Yorba Linda?

R:Oh, there were unlimited things to do.

P:Well, we could go up in these hills, for instance. If we were old enough we could sometimes have a gun with us so we could go hunting, sometimes take a stick, and kill a rattlesnake or something like that. There was plenty of them and still is. Then like I said, we could go swimming in the ditch, when we got a little older we could go down to the lake and go swimming. I think Harold had been there with me a few times too.

P:Is this the lake on Buena Vista?

R:No, its down on Lakeview. It was owned by the Anaheim Union Water Company, as well as the canal, see. It supplies the irrigation water for the district that the Yorba Linda water didn't furnish. See, Yorba Linda Water Company was a mutual water company and those that didn't sign up to begin with, they had to get their water somewhere else. The Anaheim Union served a lot of this area going through here. Then they served a lot of the Placentia area and even Anaheim. The lake was the storage and that took care of Atwood. The canal went on to another storage which was called Stones' Reservoir which is now called Placentia Lake. That's on Kramer Avenue and from that they used to irrigate out from too.

P:This was that same irrigation ditch that ran by the Nixons house?


P:Did you and the Nixon boys ever fish in this reservoir?

R:Oh, yes, we'd try it. There was fish in it. You could catch perch quite often in there. The little yellow sunfish. [8] we called them. All these things we weren't supposed to do, but they were very lax because there wasn't enough of us doing it to bother anybody. They just had to have their rules, but they just didn't enforce them. But nowadays they do, try to, anyway.

P:Well, it looked like the boys had to find things to do because there wasn't much entertainment in the area during that time.

R:There wasn't much entertainment, but probably they were better off doing the things they did then, than the ones they have to do nowadays. Well, you could go east to the barley fields and up in the foothills or go most anywhere you wanted without doing anybody any harm, even in the grove. You very seldom did any harm if you went in the groves. Seems like nowadays, they try to do harm. They get in there and destroy things. I don't remember any of that at all. Maybe I'm conveniently forgetting it. (laughter)

P:Now, did the Nixon boys get into much mischief or anything?

R:I would say no. Harold, the older one, like I say, he was a practical joker. He would pull tricks on people, but they were innocent, you know, just to get a laugh. I always enjoyed him.

P:Now, I presume you knew Frank and Hannah Nixon?

R:I would say I knew Hannah better than any, because I would see her from time to time at different things. In fact, I went to a wedding in the East Whittier Church about a year before she went into the rest home. Somebody tapped me on the shoulder and I turned around and she was sitting in the seat behind me. I hadn't seen her for several years then, but she recognized me and remembered me. Like I say, I'd see her from time to time. They'd have an old-timers get-together in Yorba Linda or something; why she always managed to get there. Sometimes he would and sometimes he wouldn't.

P:Could you tell me a little bit about their life here in Yorba Linda, their groves and things?

R:Well, they had a lemon grove primarily. I don't remember any oranges at all. It was where the Richard Nixon School is now located. There was about ten acres. As I remember I don't know now how he made a living out of it, because it was the hardest piece of soil in Yorba Linda. There is a lot of hard soil here.

P:This was hard pan soil? [9]

R:Well, it's what they call red clay. You can get down so deep and you can't go any deeper. I mean like you're irrigating, you're just getting the top surface irrigated, you can't get on down, your roots won't go on down. These trees got up to so big, well they just seem to stand there, they wouldn't do much more. Of course, they eventually got rid of it and got out of Yorba Linda. Then the fellow that bought it later finally decided it wasn't as good and pushed the trees out. But the old house is still there. Then the school took it over.

P:Now, I also understand that Frank went into a partnership with some other gentlemen with a tractor. He used to go around to different groves and work them.

R:Yes. That's sort of hazy with me. I remember him driving the tractor, but I don't remember the details of who he was with. It might have been Hoyt Corbit, I'm not sure. Everybody couldn't have their own tractor, they had too small a ranch. They couldn't afford to buy one. I can remember when Richard was vice-president he came out here on a tour and made a little speech uptown. I spoke about him being a cry-baby he said—he admitted, "I was the biggest cry-baby in Yorba Linda." He said, "My dad could hear me even with the tractor running."

P:How come he did so much crying?

R:Oh, I don't know, probably the other kids were abusing him. He was too little and when he wanted to do something, they wouldn't let him.

P:Do you know if Frank ever worked for an oil company?

R:I don't know of it, no.

P:What was their house like in Yorba Linda?

R:Well, it was just more or less like that one that we had. It, of course, has been modernized a little bit, but not too much. What do they call it, they didn't use two-by-two and a double wall, they used a single wall. One that coils with three inch strips that cover the crack and then if they wanted to put some on the inside they could but in those days they didn't put up a double wall like they do now. But I think since then, it's probably been altered considerably, in that respect, maybe another siding put to it.

P:So when you had the siding on the inside of the siding, were the walls for the inside of the house? [10]

R:Yes. You could decorate it or you could put wallpaper or whatever you wanted to on it. They were very simple in those days.

P:I understand you didn't have electricity.

R:No, we built that house in 1915 and I think we got electric in 1916. I can remember when we got it. I assume that the Nixons got it about the same time.

P:Up until this time you were using kerosene?

R:Kerosene, yes.

P:How about the cooking stoves?

R:Well, we used strictly kerosene. In Indiana, we used wood and coal, but when we came out here, we didn't need it for the heat, so we used kerosene. It was about a year I would say, that we lived in that house before we got the electricity. I can't remember when we got gas. Of course, we didn't live in that house a good many years. We probably only lived in it seven or eight years. Then we sold it and moved to the other side of town. About that time, the Nixons moved to Whittier.

P:Would you consider the Nixon family, when they lived here in Yorba Linda, a poor family?

R:Yes, I would. They managed to have enough to eat I think, and enough clothing, but they had to be careful and make it simple. There were quite a lot of us in the same boat in those days.

P:I understand that Hannah made the clothes for the boys. Were they any different than the clothes of the other children in the neighborhood?

R:Not to any extent, no. No, she was a very handy woman, an accomplished woman, she could do a lot of things.

P:Cooking and sewing?


P:Did she belong to any clubs?

R:Yes, she belonged to the Women's Club. She did enter into anything that was going on in the community. She was a very energetic woman.

P:Did they do much entertaining while they lived here? [11]

R:I don't believe too much. Between them, ourselves, the Wests and a few others, we would get together once in a while, but there just wasn't enough people around here to do much entertaining.

P:How did you get together, for picnics or something like this?

R:Yes, once in a while a picnic.

P:All the families would go to these picnics and each contribute something?

R:Yes, potluck, they call them. I still enjoy those.

P:I understand Frank taught Sunday school in the Friends Church.

R:Well, I understand it too, but I don't remember it and I went to the Friends Church. He wasn't my teacher, so I couldn't say anything about that. But I do remember him being there.

P:Did he ever preach to you about going to church?

R:Probably he has, but it didn't sink in. (laughter) I couldn't remember. He was quite a Quaker, I mean, he believed in it.

P:Did he make sure that his boys followed those beliefs too?

R:Oh, yes.

P:Did you ever eat over at the Nixons' house with the boys or anything like this?

R:Not too much, no. I probably have, but I don't remember too much about it.

P:Now, being that you were the same age as Harold, did you two go to school together?

R:Yes, but we weren't in the same grade. I was one grade different than him. I can't remember now if I was ahead of him, I think I was one grade ahead of him. There must have been about a year's difference in our age. Of course, in those days there'd be two grades in one room. According to what grade you were in, would be whether you'd be in room with the fifth and the sixth or the seventh and the eighth.

P:You went to the school that was located on School Street? [12]

R:School Street, yes.

P:Like you said, you had two classes in one room a lot of the times.


P:What were your classrooms like?

R:Well, as I remember they were fairly decent. They had little desks like they've had for so many years. One behind the other and then the teacher sat up in front in her desk. They were simple and the blackboards were, more or less like schools have had for a good many years. They weren't fancy or anything like that. That school was finished in 1913, the year that Richard was born. I started there in 1914 so everything was fairly new. The only thing in the playground was a set of swings and a maypole, and outside of that that was all the recreation there was. We made our own, but there was lots of area, quite a bit of land there. I can remember the boys, my age group anyway, bringing tools to school. We'd dig caves and then we'd make cannons with rubber bands on them, you know. We'd take a piece of pipe with a rubber band on it and shoot it at each other. One cave at the other. They wouldn't let you do that now. We had a lot of fun at it and we'd get an old tin can and play hockey that way, you know, make your own stick, and in other words, we made our own entertainment a lot. But looking back on it it was a lot of fun.

P:It was probably healthy for you too.

R:Sure. I think it was.

P:Did you notice how the Nixon boys dressed for school?

R:No, I can't remember anything different about them.

P:Was it common practice to go to school in bare feet?

R:Oh, yes, in the summer months. I did it myself and I think most every boy did.

P:I understand that you had wood-burning stoves in your classroom. Did you ever have to take care of these?

R:It's possible, but I don't remember it. I think probably we all liked taking care of the blackboards, we'd take turns, you know. If we were made an honor student, we'd get to take care of the blackboard. I assume I did, but I don't remember it. Of course, we didn't use a heating [13] stove too much in this area during the school year. A little bit, but not too much.

P:Now, when you were a young boy did you notice how Richard got along with his brothers? How was he treated by his brothers or how did he act, did he play with them?

R:Well, he played with them, but the fact that he was younger, he wasn't accepted in everything, like younger kids aren't. Like me, trying to keep up with my older brother, he was always trying to keep up with his older brothers. Sometimes he was shoved aside, but he always tried.

P:Did he play by himself a lot then, because he wasn't accepted by the older boys?

R:I would say he did some, yes, but he didn't go off in a corner and stay there. He still tried to do things with us whenever we tried to do something, why he would want to do it and quite often did. I think he'd even go swimming with us once in a while when he got a little bit older.

P:Now, the age difference—there was about eight years—I think Harold was about twelve when he was four.

R:I would say something like that, yes.

P:You'd say he'd try to go swimming with the older boys?

R:Well, he wanted to anyway.

P:Did he ever succeed?

R:Well, as he got older, I know he'd been in the ditch, yes he'd been in there. Of course, he lived here until he was practically nine years old I think, or that's what my memory tells me.

P:Yes, that's correct. Would he have been considered more quiet than his brothers?

R:Well, he was much quieter than Harold, yes. I'm sure of that. Now Don, I'm not too sure, Don is fairly quiet himself.

P:Did you notice if he would rather play or read books or just be by himself?

R:I don't remember that part of it because you see I was getting out of school when he was getting in more or less within a few years. He was just a little too young at that time for me to notice anything like that.

P:Did you notice any special type of activity that he liked to do best? Swim in the irrigation ditch or play marbles? [14]

R:No, I can't recollect anything special at all. Probably was, but it's just too far back. There probably was, but it's just too far back.

P:Would you say that Richard looked up to or followed his mother or father in certain things that he did?

R:Oh, yes.

P:Which one would he have taken after; both of them or o in particular?

R:Well, possibly, his mother a little more than his father I would say.

P:In what way would this be, in his temperament?

R:I think he has a little bit of his dad's temperament, learned to control it, I believe. But everybody has a little bit of that. I know I have.

P:Did the boys have any chores to do?

R:Yes, they did. They used to have chickens, rabbits, and I believe a cow. Just who had what chore I can't remember. But they had to see that they were fed, watered, and taken care of. When it came to milking the cow, I think Frank took care of that. I remember distinctly they had to take care of the chickens.

P:Now, I presume they used to eat the chickens and rabbit

R:Oh, yes.

P:With the eggs and so forth.

R:There wasn't any Colonel Sanders around.

P:Was it common to have rabbits to eat during those days?

R:Oh, yes.

P:Was it hard to get beef because it was expensive?

R:Well, most of us could raise poultry and rabbits cheaper than we could buy beef, see, although we'd buy beef occasionally. We just couldn't afford to buy it too often. My dad had six children and I guess there was, what, four or five Nixon children at that time? So he just couldn't afford to buy everything. He had to raise some of it. We were from a farm in Indiana and they were too, I guess. We just had to do a certain amount of that.

P:I understand when they were paving Yorba Linda Boulevard, [15] there by the Nixons', that Hannah took in boarders.

R:Well now I don't remember that, but it's very possible, because it was very convenient for them. She would do anything to help the family out, you know. I remember they had their own camp. They'd have tents, these room size tents, they'd put up along side wherever they were working, and they stayed right on the job. I know one day it was so extremely hot and they were working on that road, one fellow I remember passed out from heat prostration, some reason or another. That's the only time, I'd ever seen it happen, I guess. It can get pretty warm out here in the summer.

P:Did the Nixons take any trips that you know of? Did you ever go on any?

R:Not at that time, they didn't, no. Later on they did, I understand, but not at that time, no.

P:Everything was business?

R:Business and trying to make a living, that was it. He planted his grove and was trying to get the trees up to where they'd pay off, see. Well, you got nothing, coming in from the trees the first few years, and you had to me it some way. I suppose that tractor deal was one of the ways he was trying to make a living.

P:You talk of orange and lemon groves here in Yorba Linda. Is there any reason for those two types of citrus? Was the market better for lemons?

R:At that time, there wasn't too many places that grew lemons and they had come to the conclusions that Yorba Linda was a warm area. That is you get frost occasionally, but not too often. Lemons won't stand the frost as an orange some other tree will. So that's why most of them went into lemons to begin with. I don't know how it is now, here just a few years ago, fifteen to twenty years ago, California, produced ninety-seven percent of all the lemons in the world. That's a lot of lemons. So it turned out when we had other problems such as our hard soil that Ventura and Santa Barbara became the best lemon county. We were getting six, eight boxes on a good lemon tree. They were getting sixteen to twenty. They had better soil and better climate.

P:You had shallow root trees then?

R:Yes. The soil is spotty. There are a few spots that could good, but there's an awful lot of it with that red clay and [16] and you just only go so deep. If your water gets in there and sets, it rots a lot of those little feeder roots. It'll do it on an avocado or anything else. So you need good drainage for all of that and some of this area doesn't have it. That's why over a period of years, they have just died out.

P:Could you remember any boyhood characteristics of Richard that might have been carried over into his later years? Was he very outspoken when he was a young boy? Did he like to talk a lot?

R:Well, like I said before, he was younger than I and I didn't pay too much attention. But as I remember, he was a better student than some of the rest of us. Maybe he was sharper and caught it better, or maybe he studied more, I don't know which it was. But what I do remember, he seemed to absorb it better anyway.

P:Do you remember him skipping from the second to the third grade?

R:No, I don't.

P:Could you suggest any other names of people that I might contact that would know Richard as a young boy?

R:You already have Mr. Corbit. There is a Mr. Eichler that lives on the school district, or on part of the Nixon ranch there.

P:This is John C. Eichler?

R:Yes. His wife was a Beemis and she taught school, but I don't believe she ever taught Richard. She taught the fifth grade and he was probably in the first grade at that time. I don't know whether Gladys recommended him or not but this West, we were speaking about, one of them lives in the next house above her.

P:Merle West.

R:Merle West and he's a cousin. They lived here. For being a cousin, he has kept better track of him than anyone else. He owns that rug place up in Whittier—rug cleaning and dying. Well there's quite a few people; but I can't think right off the bat.

P:You wouldn't happen to know Mrs. Skidmore?

R:I remember she was a teacher, yes. I don't know her any more, no, but I used to. Now, what about Doc Cochran's wife? [17]

P:Yes, I interviewed her. Did you know a Lawrence Kendrick or Donald Bridge?

R:I remember the name, yes.

P:But you don't know where they would be located now?

R:No. Let me think, probably there will be a dozen come to me after you leave. Hurless Barton—you have him. I can't think of any more.

P:That's okay. Thank you very much.

End of Interview [18]

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