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

Hoyt Corbit

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: Early years in Yorba Linda

O.H. 838


Interviewed by Milan Pavlovich

on May 15, 1970 [Title]


Richard M. Nixon Project


INTERVIEWER: Milan Pavlovich

SUBJECT: Richard Nixon: Early Years in Yorba Linda

DATE: May 15, 1970

P:This is an interview for the California State College, Fullerton, Richard M. Nixon Oral History Project. Milan Pavlovich is interviewing Mr. Hoyt Corbit at 18461 Buena Vista, Yorba Linda, on Friday, May 15, 1970.

Mr. Corbit, I believe you were present in Yorba Linda when they had the oil boom and the railroad war?

C:Yes, I've lived in Yorba Linda since January of 1910. The so-called railroad war was an argument between the Santa Fe Railroad and the Pacific Electric, which actually is part of the Southern Pacific. The Santa Fe, I presume, wanted to keep Yorba Linda sort of fenced off because they had the main track from Fullerton to Riverside and San Bernardino, and the spur track from Atwood to Olinda which put Yorba Linda into sort of a triangle. Pacific Electric, of course, wanted to come in from the west and in order to reach Yorba Linda, they would have to cross this Olinda spur of the Santa Fe railroad. Santa Fe got, I think, it was about a half a dozen empty boxcars, parked them across the proposed crossing and had deputy sheriffs up there camping in those cars twenty-four hours a day for a while until they settled their argument. The Pacific Electric built from the end of the line near Brea to the crossing within a hundred feet, maybe, or something like that, of the Santa Fe crossing. They had also built the Yorba Linda end from the end of the line out there at what we call stern up to approximately the same distance on the east side of this Olinda spur of the Santa Fe. They got all of that done, but fortunately about the time they got the two sections finished, they had everything ready there. Even the rails were all set together to just [1] put in place as soon as they could make an agreement with Santa Fe. Well, finally, they moved the cars out and Pacific Electric set their cross actually, is what it amounted to, that they had already set up and they just got a lot of help, set this in place, took the old Santa Fe rails out, connected all four ends of the cross to the track that was already laid and they were in business. That was rather interesting to my father and mother and myself. Our home was on high ground where we could just look across about a mile and see all this activity there because there were no trees in Yorba Linda at that time. This happened in 1910. It was the summer of 1910 that this track was built out here and the latter part of the summer, as I recall, they settled their differences and got the connection finished, so that the cars could come into Yorba Linda. But we could see from our house these deputy sheriffs walking around and watching this crossing because they were employed by the Santa Fe to keep Pacific Electric from making their connection. Actually, there was no real war. It was just an argument, you might say. But, someone that I was talking to about it some years back dubbed it a "war" and that's really just about all that it amounted to. They had a considerable argument there for several months and eventually they made an understanding. I don't remember hearing what the agreement actually was, but I presume they maybe paid something for the privilege of crossing this Santa Fe right-of-way. We had wonderful service from the Pacific Electric out here. Of course, Pacific Electric got most of the freight business from Yorba Linda from that time on. That was what the Santa Fe was hoping to keep. In the beginning they thought they would have a corner on the citrus business that was planned to be developed in Yorba Linda and get to haul the carloads of citrus out and the supplies in. In those days, you know, we didn't have these fleets of trucks and things to bring in. Like most of us in Yorba Linda didn't even have cars at that time. I think by the end of 1910 there were probably two or three people in Yorba Linda that had some kind of an automobile. When we moved in January of 1910, there wasn't one automobile in Yorba Linda. In fact, there was only one other family here at that time. My father and mother and myself were the second family that actually established our residence on the Yorba Linda tract. There were other people living in the area on adjacent land, but not on the Yorba Linda tract that was subdivided and sold by the Janss Investment Company. I would say that's the story of that particular scene. The oil boom came along a little later.

They were prospecting for oil even before the first World War was over, but as I recall, I think it was [2] about 1918 that they first actually discovered oil in the Yorba Linda tract. A little earlier than that they had found oil over in the Placentia-Atwood area and they slowly worked over into Yorba Linda. There was a considerable amount of exploration in the Yorba Linda tract for a few years, but at that time they did not develop a real oil boom in Yorba Linda. The majority of the development was in the Placentia area, but there were some producing wells that were developed in that period of 1918 and 1920, along in there, that are still producing in the Yorba Linda area. We had considerably more development of oil in Yorba Linda in much later years. That would have been about in 1955, 1956, 1957, along in there, I think. The Gulf Oil Company came into Yorba Linda and developed quite a number of wells, none of them large producers; most of them were comparatively shallow and they found it profitable to keep them producing. But as I understand it, few, if any, wells in the tract produced over possibly forty or fifty barrels a day, which if that's spread over a considerable acreage, the royalty per acre isn't very much.

P:I understand the first well in Yorba Linda here was drilled on the Chapman Ranch. Was that the first flowing well?

C:Well, that's actually in the Placentia district. Yes, that's just a little west and south of the western border of Yorba Linda. That was the C.C. Chapman home down by Fullerton and he had about 200 acres over at Alta Vista and Linda Vista, which it was called at that time. It's now called Rose Drive. Mr. Chapman had that acreage in there and the discovery well was on his property and that's actually within the corporate limits of Placentia now, but even at that time, that was considered Placentia territory because it was over west of this Linda Vista Street or Rose Drive as they call it now. A of that territory over west of Linda Vista and Carbon Canyon wash was always considered the Placentia district. Then they developed other wells almost immediately on the Chapman property or on the Kraemer Ranch to the south and also east from there. They worked east from there at numerous smaller acreages until they finally got into the Yorba Linda reservoir area where they found some fairly good wells. Those wells have been producing for some fifty years now. But the production, as I said, was not extremely large on those wells. Just about the time Yorba Linda thought maybe it was going to have a real oil development, the Santa Fe Springs discovery well came in with tremendous production. Yorba Linda was just dropped. They moved all the equipment out of Yorba Linda, abandoned a number of holes that were started and took everything to Santa Fe Springs to [3] to develop that because they were getting tremendous production over there. Of course, that has proved to be one of the big producing areas of California, and still is a tremendous big production. That's the reason that Yorba Linda didn't get more development in the early boom. As I mentioned this Gulf Oil Company development has produced considerable oil, principally to the north and west of the original townsite of Yorba Linda. I started to say "town" of Yorba Linda, but now practically the whole tract is town so when I say "town," I mean the original townsite. Those wells have produced now for about fifteen years. I think that they've been getting production from those wells, but as I said, they're small, small producers. Many of them are only four or five hundred feet deep and it's profitable to pump them at that depth, even for small production. Some of them are in the 1800 to 2000 foot depth, but most of the production in the Gulf leases is from the shallow zone. Now whether they'll come back sometime and develop a deeper production nobody knows yet. That's briefly the story of Yorba Linda oil development.

P:Now, you have a small town outside of Yorba Linda in Brea Canyon called Olinda?


P:Now, I understand this was a real oil boom town that was owned by an oil company, correct?

C:Yes. In 1910 when I first began to know this country, there were some 3,500 people living in the town of Olinda. That is the original discovery point of oil in this northeastern Orange County. I think that was in the 1890's somewhere that they first discovered oil up in that area. Of course, there were several companies that had development up there. The Olinda Land Company had large acreage; the Santa Fe Railroad, through an oil developing subsidiary called the Chancellor-Canfield-Midway Oil Company had just about the center of the oil development up there and owned most of the land where the stores and many of the residences were. The recreation hall and things of that kind were all mostly on this Chancellor-Canfield-Midway land, and their water supply came from wells about a mile west of the townsite of Yorba Linda on this railroad right-of-way I was speaking about in the earlier part of our talk. The Amalgamated Oil Company, I believe, was one that had considerable acreage up there. I don't remember all of the various companies. There were, as I recall, about six companies that had the big production in the Olinda area. That was actually much earlier than this discovery at Placentia or any development in Yorba Linda area. While the town [4] of Olinda has gone down to a very small population, the oil production is still considerable up there. But the Santa Fe abandoned this spur railroad that they had up there because they laid pipelines and all the oil from Olinda goes out by pipeline now; in the early years they used to take it out in tank cars. And that was the purpose of this spur line that went into Olinda. They never ran any passenger service up there or anything of that kind. They just had a once-a-day oil train that went there and they would take usually about forty to fifty tank cars up to Olinda every day. They'd have cars that they'd left the day before to be loaded and they'd take the empty cars up and bring out, probably, an equal number of loaded cars of oil. That route was seven days a week, enough so you can see there was considerable production up there, and there is still probably not quite as much production as was then, but there's a great deal of production in the Olinda area. But the thing that developed up there was that they found ways of centralizing the power plants and they run a considerable number of wells from one central power plant. In the early years, they used to have one man to each well to run the pump. They had one man at each well, but now they have a system where they have a central pumping plant and it may run, I think, as many as twenty to twenty-five wells from one central power plant. It only takes one man to look after that.

P:These pumps in the early days when there was a man on each well, were steam engine pumps?

C:Yes, they were steam operated engines in most cases. They burned crude oil under the boilers. It was quite different from today's more or less automatic operation and, of course, many of the oil wells today are operated by electric motor driven pumps. There's a man that has a pick-up truck and drives around and services a great number of these electric powered pumps. I really don't know how many wells a man can look after with that arrangement. I don't believe that there's very many of the steam power, if any, left anymore. I don't know where one is located if they operate any of them with steam power anymore. I think all of the wells in Yorba Linda are operated by electric power pumps. Servicing those is a very simple operation. Mostly a matter of going around and checking to see if they're running all right. But of course, Olinda is now a part of the town of Brea, within the Brea city limits. The schoolhouse has been moved up into Carbon Canyon and most of the people, I think, from that area live up in Carbon Canyon rather than in the old town of Olinda. I think there's very few, if any; there might be a few homes still [5] left in Olinda but most of them have been either torn down or moved away. Quite a number of them were moved, some of them into Yorba Linda, some into Placentia, different areas. When the oil companies began to get automatic operation of the wells, they either moved their employees to other fields or just didn't have a job for them anymore. I think there's very few residents actually in what was earlier the town of Olinda. That's an interesting point there to me, that there's been some discussion over the years as to just how the name of Yorba Linda came about. Some think the term, Linda means beautiful in Spanish and, of course, this was at one time a part of the original Yorba Ranch. Some people think that the Janss Company arrived at that name by combining the name of Yorba with the Spanish term of Linda. Others and I believe the more likely interpretation is that the original townsite of Yorba Linda was just halfway between the old town of Yorba and the town of Olinda and I think they combined the Yorba with leaving the "o" off of Olinda and Yorba Linda is a combination of the two town names; because in those years, we had a little townsite of Yorba just two miles to the south of us and Olinda was two miles to the north and it has always seemed to me that the combining of the two town names was probably the more likely way of arriving at the town of Yorba Linda for a name, but that's, I suppose, a matter of choice on that.

P:Did you ever actually see a gusher come in around here?

C:Oh, yes.

P:What was the experience like — how did you feel when you saw this?

C:I don't know where to find them, but I have some pictures that I took of at least one of the gushers that, well, it was about a mile, probably a mile and a quarter west and a little south of where we are sitting right now. It was actually in the Placentia area field but a considerably distance west of the original Chapman discovery well, and on the Coyle property. And that blew in one night and it sounded like we might be having a tremendous earthquake starting or something like that. And for a considerable time that burned and blew the dirt away, of course, to start with, and it blew stones and earth. And up that way, a tremendous geyser going up, I would say, probably 200 feet into the air for several days before they found a way of stopping it. It was not as large as some of the gushers that came in over at Santa Fe Springs and it didn't make as large a cavity in the earth, but it was a big hole. [6]

P:It really blew out?

C:Yes, it looked something like a volcanic crater, and, of course, if you've ever seen a volcano in action it's somewhat similar because they throw this great mass of molten rock and debris into the air and there are flames along with it in some cases. This burning gas and oil going up 150, 200 feet into the air and smoke and debris falling out of it--quite similar to a volcano in action. This one over here, I think that was the largest one that came in this area. It caused the most trouble. It was much smaller than a couple that I saw over in Santa Fe Springs. In those days it was quite common for folks--they heard of a big gusher come in--to get into their car and rush off to take a closer look at it, and I saw some over in Santa Fe Springs that really built up a tremendous crater. They'd have a great mass of earth and rock and debris that built up around this crater where the oil and gas was blowing out. It was quite a sight.

P:How did they cap these wells?

C:They had different methods. In some cases, I believe, they were to blow them out with steam if they could stop the fire. Then they could get in close enough to work and if they didn't have too much of a crater--I don't remember how they stopped the big one over in Santa Fe Springs, but as I recall this one down here near Yorba Linda, they smothered the flame and then they were able to get in and some way--I think they call it a Christmas tree or something of that sort—they work that over and get it down over the pipes and get it fastened down and then it's open when they get it over this column of fluid that's coming out. They have this thing open and they work it through and drop it over the top of the casing and they get it fastened into the casing. They have clamps, you know, and they fasten it to the top of the casing, and then they can close the valve that shuts it off. When once they get it fastened to the top of this heavy casing, why, in most cases it will hold this pressure under control. Of course, they have relief valves that they can't let out if they think it's going to possibly blow out again. Then can release some of the pressure, but they have everything prepared so that they can connect this to a pipeline quickly and let the flow go on so that they're letting off some of the pressure continually after they' got this big valve over the top of the casing. They can shut the big flow off, but they do have connections where they can hook on a pipe to take this oil off into a storage tank. To try to control all of that tremendous pressure that's underground there, they let some of the [7] flow through so that it's relieving itself all the time. Usually by the time a well has blown out for maybe a week or something like that, a lot of the tremendous pressure that was down and underground to begin with has been relieved, you see ... they don't have as much to contend with after the thing has blown out its initial pressure. They can cap it and get it under control.

P:Now, was there very much pollution around these wells when they blew out and what did the people think of it?

C:Well, it created considerable problem in some cases where they were in producing groves. They coated many trees with oil and in some cases they were close enough to homes that there was some damage done that way. Well, of course, the oil companies as soon as possible, tried to clean up the mess that was made, but this heavy oil coating of oil on citrus trees was pretty hard to do much about. As I understood it, I didn't have any groves that were damaged that way, but I had understood that in several cases the oil companies paid for a certain number of trees around the well. The lease always provides for tree damage to the property owner and whatever the specified price per tree in the lease was, the oil company would settle with the owner for the number of trees that were damaged around the well when it blew in. That happened a number of times that people would collect maybe for—oh, I think sometimes as many as a hundred trees, up that way. It varied some—people in signing their leases. I had some experience with leasing the oil companies and, as I recall, I think I always specified $150 a tree. I know others figured that was about the right amount for a producing tree. I've heard that some didn't get that much, but I myself thought that $150 a tree was a fair value for a production tree. In other words, if you took a tree out that was producing and you figure how much its potential was and it takes a good many years to get a tree back into full bearing condition. You wouldn't be getting an exorbitant amount if you got $150 a tree. In other words, maybe eighty trees to the acre, why, you'd be getting a fair price for your citrus land if you got $150 a tree and then if you got oil production at the same time why, you felt pretty well satisfied. Of course, the people that didn't get oil production, they weren't so happy about losing their growing trees. But there wasn't so very many people that had wells drilled on their property that didn't get some production and I wasn't one of the fortunate ones. In the earlier years, I got some lease money but didn't get any development on my land before they moved out to Santa Fe Springs. In the later development I did have some production, but it was very, [8] very small; hardly enough to be worth mentioning. But, on the other hand, it's just like finding it when you get a little check from the oil company for oil production, you've got value out of your land either through lease—original lease money--or the royalty that they paid, case most of the production, even though it drops to rather small after two or three years, the first two or three years it's nearly always pretty good. But these small wells around Yorba Linda, now, they come in with a fair amount of production. You get good royalty for a couple or three years, then it drops down, down until it's just sort of pin money.

P:I understand you worked for the Nixons in Yorba Linda. Could you tell me when that was?

C:Yes, I worked some for Frank Nixon in the early years of Yorba Linda. He came to Yorba Linda, as I remember, I think in 1911, and bought some land. As soon as he could he built a small home, a house and barn, and moved his family, his wife and the one son he had at that time, to the home in Yorba Linda and he took up contracting of planting groves for other people. At the time that Dick Nixon was born, I happened to have been working for Frank Nixon on some of this grove planting work and I remember quite well the morning after Dick was born. Frank, he was kind of an excitable fellow, you know, and he came out of the house and waved his hands and was laughing and happy and said, "I've got another boy, I've got another boy!" He was real happy he had another son. I did know the family in the early years and, of course, that was January the 9th of 1913, that President Richard Nixon was born. The Nixon family were just good American citizens—hardworking people like all the rest of us that came to Yorba Linda and bought a little land in those years. They thought maybe they could develop a grove and make a home for themselves here. I think the Nixons and most everyone else that came in those early years were about the same way. We had enough money to make a payment on some land and put up some living quarters and maybe buy a team of horses and start planting our groves and working for other people to make a living. And that's what Frank Nixon did. He worked, he had, as I recall, a couple of teams and he would plant and care for groves for some of the non-resident owners. My father was doing the same thing, but he didn't happen to have enough work to keep both of us busy just at that time, so I was working for Frank Nixon at the time that Richard was born. We were all just neighbors and friends here in the community. By the way, the Nixon family were Friends, literally. They belonged to the Friends church, sometimes called the Quakers. President Nixon is still a member of [9] that faith now, he still has his membership in the Society of Friends. Many of us were members of other churches when we came to Yorba Linda. The Friends church happened to be the first one that built a meetinghouse in Yorba Linda. When that church was built, I think everybody that lived in Yorba Linda at the time helped in some way in building that church, either by giving a little money or giving work. I know Frank Nixon was one of the carpenters; along with his ranch work he also did carpenter work. He and Mr. Evan Herbert and Watson Walker, Nathan Brooks and Emory Tubrud—all of the men in the community that were capable of doing good carpenter work were involved in the framing up and finishing of this church building and others of us like myself, we would do the hauling of the material, or digging trenches for the foundation and mixing concrete, anything that was to be done. I know I spent a number of days myself helping with the work, but I had no knowledge of carpentering so I carried lumber or whatever they told me to do, you know that would be helpful in getting this church started and then after it was completed most of us went to church there until later years—why, we began to feel that there was room for other churches in the community. And the next church to come into Yorba Linda was the Presbyterian church, but they closed their church and it stood vacant for a short time. Then a group of us that belonged to the Methodist denomination decided that we should have a church of our own. We began having meetings and eventually decided that we could buy this church from the Presbyterian group and that became the Methodist Church of Yorba Linda and was for many years. Of course, it since has been sold to the Baptist denomination and the Methodists have a new church east of Yorba Linda on Yorba Linda Boulevard and Ohio Street. But that's away from the Nixon family. Frank Nixon not only helped build the actual building, but he became one of the first Sunday school teachers of the Friends church and there's many of the earlier resident of the community that attended Frank Nixon's Sunday school and church—the old original Friends church in Yorba Linda. There's a. group of us that are trying to develop plans to preserve the old Nixon home as a national shrine. We hope to preserve this original Friends church as a historical building, also. We are just in the planning stages at the present time, but we do have a fully organized foundation that is working to that end.

P:When you worked for Frank, what was your specific job and how much did he pay you?

C:As I recall, I was helping to plant lemon trees, dig the holes. It takes a hole about 18 inches in diameter and [10] at least 18 to 20 inches to plant these bald trees. That was the work that we were doing at that time. We were helping to plant these lemon orchards that he had the job of developing for a non-resident owner, and we were getting this land ready. We had to plant the row of trees and dig the holes, put the trees in and haul water with the wagon. And fifty gallon barrels ... we had about four or five fifty gallon barrels in a wagon and a wagon and a team, and we had to haul water. We usually put about ten gallons in a small basin around each tree to start with and then we'd have to go back in a few days and water them again. And, of course, after they were watered, then we had to go with a shovel and cover this moist ground with top soil so that it'd hold the moisture as well as it could. That was really, as compared to today's farming, rather primitive. We knew we'd dug everything, all of those holes with a shovel. In some cases, we had to use a pick and digging bars, we called it then. It was a bar with a kind of narrow, spade-shaped end. Some of the soil was pretty hard and we had to use this heavy bar to loosen the soil and then shovel it out. Everything was hand work. We didn't have any mechanical diggers or watering system, because in the early years of Yorba Linda, the very early years, our water system was not completed so that many of the early orchards had to haul water from the Anaheim Union Canal that flowed through the center of the tract. The canal had been in operation for many, many years. It was a source of the water. The water company was kind enough to let us haul water from this canal with our wagons, barrels and buckets and get some of the orchards started. The first year of irrigation was all done by hand watering in that way and the type of work was what I was doing for Frank Nixon, at this time. Later, he and another man purchased a tractor and expanded their orchard operations considerably, but Frank Nixon himself devoted more time to carpenter work and he would hire us younger fellows that were available in the community to do this orchard work for him. It was a little extra source of income for him. Of course a man with children growing up, he needed to make as much as he could. I think you earlier asked me how much he paid me. As I recall, I think it was two dollars a day for a ten hour day—in other words, twenty cents an hour. That was about the going wage in those years. When I first came to California in the very last of 1909 and the early part of 1910, I worked for fifteen cents an hour in citrus packinghouse work, and by the time we got to planting a lot of orchards in Yorba Linda we were getting as much as two dollars a day for a ten hour day or twenty cents an hour and sometime later, we got up to two and half a day, which we thought was pretty good. And actually our wages in those days bought us [11] the things that we needed and you could save a little money out of your wages at that, if you worked steady. That was a good deal of the problem in those days was to find steady work at the wages. The wages as compared to the price of things we had to buy was not bad, but sometimes it was a little difficult to find work enough to keep you busy. I know some years I'd worked here in Yorba Linda through the summer—later spring through the summer and into the fall and then go other places to get work in citrus packinghouses for the winter months. One year I went up into the Antelope Valley to Palmdale and worked for a construction company building an irrigation system up there, and that through the winter months. In those years, we didn't very often ask much about how much they were going to pay us—we went out looking for a job and we took whatever we could find.

P:Now, you said that Frank liked to concentrate on carpenter work. Was this building houses or furniture?

C:Yes, he worked with this man, Herbert, that I mentioned. E. J. Herbert was a contractor and Frank Nixon worked with him quite a bit in the earlier years there in building some of the early homes around the tract. Later on, of course, you probably know the Nixon family sold their ranch here in Yorba Linda and moved to East Whittier and eventually started a grocery store up there. But in the years that they lived in Yorba Linda, why, Frank Nixon did a great deal of carpenter work, principally, I think, with this Mr. Herbert. And then, I believe, about the same time that the Nixons moved to Whittier, Mr. Herbert moved to Fullerton and went contracting in Fullerton. But, as I recall, Frank Nixon kept some orchard work going most of the years that he lived in Yorba Linda, but he did do a lot of carpenter work because a carpenter could draw higher wages than people were willing to pay for this orchard work. He could do better for himself that way, and as long as he was qualified as a carpenter, why, he could do better with carpenter work than he could doing the orchard care type of work.

P:Would you consider the Nixon family, at this time, a poor family?

C:Well, certainly not wealthy. Yes, I think I'd answer your question directly, that they were just in very modest circumstances. They had money enough, as I said, to build a small home and a necessary barn to house their teams and buy, I think, it was nine acres of land in the original Nixon homesite. I know Frank said that he just had to keep busy to support his family, you know. I think he was just like my parents, they just had a little money. They made a payment on ten acres [12] of land and put up a small temporary house to live in until we could get established and begin to get a grove planted and things like that. And we had to go to work. My father worked at whatever he could find to do. And, of course, he soon found out that he could contract the care of neighboring orchards for people that had bought land but had jobs other places and didn't want to move to Yorba Linda and after the first year here, father was able to keep busy taking care of and planting groves for non-resident people. I helped him when he had enough work to keep me busy and I worked for many other people around the area; some of them in the Placentia district and some in Yorba Linda that needed extra help. We were all just in that class. I considered that when we came to Yorba Linda we were poor folks and I think that probably at least 95 percent of the people that settled Yorba Linda to begin with were just the same way. We were able to come out here and buy a little piece of land and put up living quarters; and go to work and if we couldn't have gotten enough to make our living and help pay for the land and buy trees we would have had to give up and go elsewhere. I think most of us were the same way and I know, because the Nixon family--Frank Nixon when he decided to sell his lemon grove that he had planted, he said it wasn't making him enough money to support his family and he was going to sell and go up to East Whittier where he thought that he could start a store and gasoline station and make a better living for his family, which he did succeed in doing. I know he did very well in his store up there. Of course, that area was more thickly settled at that time. I'm sure that he came to Yorba Linda just like most of us, hoping to make a living for himself and his family, and develop a grove that would make his future secure. But he felt after about some ten or twelve years, I guess it was in Yorba Linda, that he could do better elsewhere and he sold his property. Most of the early settlers that stayed on did fairly well. They had good years and bad years. Most of us stayed on here through these years—sixty, it is for myself—that we've accumulated enough to live comfortable in our later years, but the Nixons did real well by making the change that they did as it proved later. And of course, before they moved away from Yorba Linda though, they had two more boys. Donald is now living in Newport, and as I understand, quite successful in public relations. Arthur passed away quite young. The youngest son, Edward, was not born in Yorba Linda. In fact, President Nixon was the only one of the five boys that was actually born in the house in Yorba Linda. Don and Arthur and the youngest boy, Edward, were all born in hospitals. The house here in Yorba Linda at the present time belongs to the Yorba Linda school district [13] and is maintained as a residence for the caretaker of the Richard Nixon Elementary School. We have this Nixon Birthplace Foundation, and we we're hoping to plans whereby we can acquire the ownership of this, of the original Nixon ranch including the old home. And probably after President Nixon has finished his term of office it will be made into a national shrine but it won't be possible to have the federal governor take any part in it until after he has finished his term of office. That's the usual procedure in preserving Presidential birthplaces. The President must have finished his term of office before any action is taken by the federal government to acquire the birthsite. Our foundation hopes to acquire ownership of this property from the school district probably through private subscription from people that are interested in that type of thing and preserve the homesite so that it can be made into a national shrine after President Nixon has gone out of office.

P:You said you were present at his birth. Was he delivered by a midwife?

C:Yes. As I say, I went there to work and the morning he was born, there was a doctor who came out from Whittier but there was one of the local ladies--she's not living in Yorba Linda, hasn't for many years, but she is still living up at Lodi--that helped the doctor at the time of Richard Nixon's birth. Now, I've forgotten the name of the doctor that came out, but as I understand he drove all the way from Whittier to help Mrs. Nixon at this birth. This neighbor lady, Mrs. Ella Edson, had been called to stay there with Mrs. Nixon and helped when the baby was born. She was the first one that handled him. It would be quite interesting if you could get a recording of her story of the birth. Now, I understand that she is quite keen, mentally, still. She's quite deaf. We got her to come down to the great county homecoming meeting that we had over at the Anaheim Convention Center shortly after Nixon was elected President. We got this lady to come down from Lodi and appear on the stage with President Nixon at that homecoming rally. She was quite keen mentally then, I understand she still is in good health, but she's quite deaf and it is a little bit hard to talk to her. But if you can make her understand what you want, why her memory of early years here in Yorba Linda is said to be quite good. I know it was a year ago last fall when we had her down to Anaheim. At that time, she to be quite interested in helping to preserve the story of Richard Nixon's birth. That was quite an interesting meeting we had over there. I've been trying to thin other people that might be of help to you and this [14] getting a recording of the story. There is a lady who lives over in Fountain Valley now that was a good friend of the Nixons at the time they lived in Yorba Linda and lived nearby, a Mrs. Cecil Pickering. She lives with her granddaughter over in Fountain Valley and I don't think I have the address, but we could probably get it. I'm sure we could get it from the Methodist church because she is a member of the Methodist church and she might have some interesting recollections of the family. I know that you probably heard of the story of President Nixon falling out of the buggy and getting his head injured when he was a very small boy. His mother had been out in a buggy that they used in those days for going to the store and visiting around. And she had, I think it was Don in her lap and Richard was sitting on the floor of this buggy and some way this rough road, very rough at the time going into their home, a wheel of the buggy dropped into a considerable chuck hole and Dick rolled out of the buggy and the wheel caught him right across the top of this head and almost scalped him. Fortunately, this Mr. Herbert that I spoke about— Frank Nixon worked with him in the carpenter business-was working just a very short distance from the Nixon home, and he saw what happened. He's one of the few people that had any kind of automobile in those days. He took Mrs. Nixon and Richard to the hospital in Anaheim, at that time, and get his scalp sewn up. I understand he still has some scar on his head that can be seen but his hair covers it well. It's healed up so that it's not noticeable except if you examine it closely. The steel tires that the buggy wheels had on those days were pretty rough on a baby's head or anything of that kind. And there were some interesting incidents like that. This Mrs. Pickering that I mentioned, she tells the story about having been in the Nixon home helping Mrs. Nixon when the son, Arthur, was quite ill and Dick—we've learned to call him—was playing around the house and quite noisy and Mrs. Pickering couldn't get him to be quiet and she says Mother Nixon called to her and said, "If he won't behave himself, spank him!" So she said, "I just picked him up and tucked him across my lap and gave him a good spanking." That's her favorite story. It's a good one for anyone who has become as prominent as Dick Nixon has. Come all the way from a very humble beginning up to the top office in the United States. Most of us here in this country, I think, feel it's not only the top office in the United States but the top office in the world. So that there's one man that's proof that it can be done if a person has the ability and the determination to get ahead. In Dick Nixon's case, it's taken a lot of courage and natural ability, of course, to reach the point that he is today [15] and he was--we all recognized early in his life that he was somewhat more studious and of keener mind than the average, but I think in the early years few if any people thought that he would become President of the United States. But he certainly showed an early interest in the study of national affairs, American history and things of that nature and while I personally considered him a perfectly normal boy as far as play and his school activities. He was into games and athletic things and had the ambition to be into some athletics that his physical stature wouldn't qualify for, but as many people realized early in his life that he had a superior ability to study and think things through. Certainly, I think that's been the thing that has proven over the years that a man that has native ability and determination to work himself up can do so. The Nixon boys all had to work for everything they've got because their father had a very modest income in the early years and had to work for that and then he had lots of sickness in the family. The oldest boy, as you've probably heard, was sick a lot of his younger years. He died fairly young, in his twenties I believe it was, and then the fourth son became seriously ill while they still lived in Yorba Linda and they also lost him. So Frank Nixon had a lot of financial burdens and his surviving sons had to work for their way through school and help the family in the store. They certainly earned all the success they have had. It's my knowledge that the three boys that are still living have all done well. Don is successful in his field and Edward has done well in the work that he has taken up. I don't know directly very much about their activities but people that I've talked to do say they're both quite successful. And all of them, as I say, had to work their way through school and help the family run the family store and I've heard all of the boys tell some interesting incidents that happened along the line in the years that they lived in East Whittier and operated the family store. Certainly the Nixon boys all can tell a success story if they would, and from a very humble beginning.

P:Now, when Richard was a small boy, was he a quiet, timid boy?

C:No, he was not as out and into mischief as much as maybe some of the other boys, but on the other hand, he was playful like I was telling this story about this Mrs. Pickering that spanked him when he was quite a small boy. Still he was getting up ... well, he must have been almost school age, at that time, you know, because here Don is the third son, next older than Dick, and then Arthur was the one that was sick--fourth boy, as I remember. I think Arthur was about two years old at that time, so Dick must have been five, maybe six years old at the time of this incident. He was mischievous enough [16] that he was worrying his mother trying to take care of a sick boy and she told Mrs. Pickering to give him a good spanking if he won't be quiet. He was not really, to my mind, not what you'd call a timid or backward boy, but he spent more time with his books and he's one of those fortunate people that seemed to be able to grasp the thing that he's studying quicker than many of us. I know myself, it always took me a little studying to get the full import of what I was reading, where Dick Nixon seems to have an ability to absorb those things faster than the average person. Of course, I think he must have developed that ability more in the course of years, but I think he probably came into this world with a little more than the average in that respect. I've heard a number of people that knew him in his early school years and up through his college years remark that there's a boy that's going to go places in this world. And as I understand it, later when he was in college in Whittier, one of the businessmen there that got to know him in his college years predicted that he would be President of this nation some day, even when he was in Whittier College. He obviously showed a natural ability to study and absorb the thing that he was studying at the time faster than the average person. But he certainly was ... He took part in all kinds of school activities, on the playground and in the school plays, played the violin in Fullerton High School orchestra the two years, I believe, that he went to Fullerton High School. He took part in athletic events and, of course, they tease him now about the years that he spent on the bench on the football field. That's one of the things that they did down at this party we planned for him down at Anaheim Convention Center--his old classmates presented him with the bench from the football field that he sat on, and had a lot of fun out of that. But I always felt that Dick and his brother, Don, were just pretty much normal boys, you know. They took part in the fun things around the school that they were going to here in their early years in Yorba Linda. From things that I've heard and observed through later years, I'd feel that Dick was not what you would call a timid type of person. He certainly was more studious than the average boy on the other hand, he didn't seem to be backward about taking part in whatever was going on in his class activities where he went to school.

P:Would you say that he was an indoor or an outdoor type of person? Would he have rather done things outside or in the house? I presume he had chores, when he was a small boy, around the house?

C:Yes. One thing that we knew is he didn't like to help his mother in the kitchen. The story is that when Mother [17] Nixon would tell him he had to come in and help her wash the dishes or things like that he'd insist on drawing the curtains over the windows so nobody could see him helping with the housework. No, I think he preferred outdoor activities. When you asked that question I thought just quickly kind of over the years that he was very definitely interested in the outdoor sports of the school wherever he went. He tried to get on the football team and he played baseball some. He wanted to be in the outdoor activities of the school and I know that now he loves to get out on the boat, you know, when he's vacationing, and walks on the beach and things of that kind. It would be my opinion that he is quite fond of the outdoors.

P:When he was a small boy, what sort of chores did he do around the house besides the housework with his mother? Did they have animals that the boys would take care of or anything?

C:Yes, they did have some animals. Of course, as I said, the father had two teams. I think one was a team of mules and the other a team of horses—two mules and two horses that he used in this work that he did in the early years. I think later he sold those, however, and got a tractor. But I just don't recall what kind of pets they had around; seems to me that they had at least one dog. I don't remember if they had other pets around the house in those years or not because I was a pretty young fellow, at that time, too. Some of those things that I wish I had taken more notice of, I just sort of passed them by. I didn't think much about it at that time. My memory is not clear on what kind of pets they might have had and toys about the house there.

P:And their chores? Did they have little jobs to do? Like feeding the chickens, or caring for the rabbits?

C:Yes, they had chickens and I'm sure I can remember the boys being sent out to take care of the chickens and no doubt help with the yard, you know. They had a little lawn and some flowers and some trees immediately around the house. Not many ornamental trees because most of us thought the land was too valuable to give very much of it to ornamental trees. We planted our orchards right up very close to the house. I think they had some fruit trees and I know there was a big pepper tree right near the house and I think maybe one or two other ornamental trees and a number of flowers immediately around the house and on the lawn.

I'm sure the boys had to help as they got old enough to do those things because the family moved away from Yorba [18] Linda in the latter part of 1922. They moved to East Whittier. Dick was just approaching his tenth birthday, I believe, when they moved away from Yorba Linda. The boys were too small actually to do very much to help around the ranch. They probably might have had to go up and try to help their dad and little around the small lemon trees and thing like that, but boys of that age--Harold was not very strong and Dick the next oldest, was still not hardly old enough to do any great amount of work and Don still younger than that so they wouldn't have only been able to do just the smaller chores around the house in Yorba Linda. I think that they would have been just doing things like maybe going out and feeding the chickens and maybe filling the water containers for the chickens that they had around the ranch, and possibly helping a little with some flowers. I think they also had a small family garden. Boys of that age could do some things like that but a little small to do any real work.

P:Did Richard like to play by himself more or play with other kids when he was small?

C:As I remember, he played well with other children, but it seems to me that he spent more time with his books than the average child although I wouldn't call him a, well, what we sometimes would term a bookworm. He certainly seemed to enjoy getting out and playing with a group of children just as much as anybody. But I think he probably spent more time with his studies than the average child of that age did. He seemed to be very much interested in studies and books, that probably sometimes his parents thought were a little beyond his years.

P:What type of books did he like to read? History, Geography?

(Mrs. Corbit enters the room) You had some remembrance of the Nixon family and visited in the home, I know.

Mrs. C:Oh, yes, I've been there many times. I used to go to missionary meetings there at Mrs. Nixon's home and I remember the house inside as it used to be a long time ago. And Mr. Nixon, Frank Nixon, was my Sunday school teacher.

P:Yes, Mrs. Corbit, would you like to tell me about your experiences and Frank's Sunday school class and also your meetings in the Nixon home?

Mrs. C:Well, we attended the missionary meetings in Mrs. Nixon's home many times. Frank Nixon, as I told you, was my Sunday school teacher and he did most of the talking. I guess that's the best way to say it, isn't it? [19]

C:Yes, he was a great talker. He talked well, too.

Mrs. C:Now, it seems to me like they used to sell milk. At least I know we went there a few times and bought things from them.

C:Yes, that's right. You know, one of the questions he asked me was what kind of animals they had and I'd forgot that they had ...

Mrs. C:… Cows, a cow, and he used to buy milk for ten cents, you know, a quart in these little old-fashioned buckets with the lid on the top, remember?


Mrs. C:And the handle on. And we used to walk down there and buy our milk and come back.

C:Yes, and I think that the boys delivered some milk to the nearby neighbors there, too, didn't they?

Mrs. C:Well, they might have.

C:Seems to me they did. I'd forgotten about that.

P:This was a means of supplementing their income then?


Mrs. C:Yes, and I remember that their lemon grove didn't do very well.


Mrs. C:And it was on the corner there where the Nixon School is now. And I remember, too, the time that he fell or was run over by—did he fall off of a wagon or something?

C:He fell out of the buggy.

Mrs. C:And there wasn't an automobile in town to take him to the doctor except Mr. Herbert.

C:Happened to be working right close there ...

Mrs. C:Yes, and took him over there in the Ford. That was the only car in town, as I remember, at that time. Because we used to drive horse and buggies then. We used to cook on wood stoves and burn coal oil lamps and chop our own wood, remember?

C:Yes. [20]

P:I understand that the land that their grove was planted on was probably the poorest around because it was a clay soil.

Mrs. C:Yes, it was hard.

C:Yes, very, very poor soil. It was sort of a high ridge where the home was there and the soil was very thin, clay sub-soil that just didn't seem to produce much of anything, you know. The lemon trees didn't do well at all. When they wanted a new site to build a larger school, they thought that would be a good place to put the school—on that Nixon place—and the Nixons were ready to sell out and go back to East Whittier and start their store.

Mrs. C:Nobody can say that they didn't know what it was to be poor.

C:They worked for everything they've got.

Mrs. C:You might as well use the right word because that is just exactly it.

C:All those boys worked for everything they've got.

Mrs. C:They sure did.

P:What were these missionary meetings like at their house? What were these meetings for?

Mrs. C:Well, somebody would come there and talk and tell the need of some mission and just more or less to get together with the Society of the Friends.

P:Were these meetings held often at their house?

Mrs. C:No, just every so often—different ones would have it at their house and Mrs. Nixon would have it now and then and, of course, we always went to wherever they were, and they were at her house sometimes.

P:Was there food served and so forth?

Mrs. C:Sometimes they served a little refreshments, yes.

P:Now, would you say that Richard took after his mother or his father, or both?

Mrs. C:His mother. His mother in looks and his father in talking, would you say that?

C:Well, to a certain extent, because Dick talks well and his father did, too. [21]

Mrs. C:Yes, he did, very well.

C:And his father was interested in politics. He'd talk politics anytime you'd give him a chance, as well as teaching a Sunday school class, but Richard looks more like his mother than he does his father.

Mrs. C:Yes, you know they make—the cartoonists make so many pictures of Nixon's nose and his mother had a nose just like that, but she was a beautiful woman. I don't notice the nose so much, except that it's true, Richard is like his mother, brown eyes, and the nose.

C:She was a wonderful personality, you know that.

Mrs. C:Oh, yes, she certainly was. He came from a wonderful family. You have to say that.

P:I understand that she was very quiet and that Frank was the one that had the temper.

Mrs. C:Yes, that's right.

C:Yes. Mother Nixon was quiet but she could speak up when she thought it was necessary, you know. She had her positive opinions and they were usually good ones, too. She wasn't one that talked excessively. She never did, even in her later years. She was quiet and yet I know many times in later years we would sometimes go and get her and take her to political meetings when Richard was running for office. She didn't have a great deal to say, but if she thought something needed saying, she could speak well when she thought it was necessary.

P:Was she sort of the head of the house, or was Frank or was it even?

Mrs. C:Oh, Frank was, wasn't he?

C:Definitely Frank, but I think he listened to Hannah.

Mrs. C:Oh, I do, too.

C:Definitely. But Frank was the head of the house, but I'm sure that he listened to Hannah's advice a great deal. She was one of those quiet people. She always seemed to me to have good ideas and was able to express, them when she thought it necessary. She wasn't a person that's given to excessive talking, but if she thought if something needed saying she could say it very well.

P:Who did the disciplining around the house? [22]

Mrs. C:I think both of them, wouldn't you?

C:Yes, I think they both did. The boys always seemed to be very fond of both of their parents. My impression was that Frank and Hannah Nixon raised their boys in such a manner that they didn't have much discipline problem. The boys seemed to listen to what their parents said and for the most part they didn't have any great discipline problems. No doubt, the boys were very normal in their activities, but they always, as far as I always observed, seemed to listen and after their father was gone they always seemed to go back to mother about things. One thing I can remember well—in the years when I had connection with Mother Nixon after Frank passed away, in the political activities—if Mother Nixon thought it was advisable to talk to Richard, no matter where he was, she'd call his secretary. She'd say, "This is Mother Nixon. I want to talk to Richard." And she got to talk to Richard; she didn't mince any words. They didn't ever give her any arguments. If Richard was available she got to talk to him. No matter even when he was Vice-President. I heard her one time, at least, I recall she thought that she should tell Richard something and she just picked up her phone and dialed Washington, his office there, and she said, "I want to talk to Richard." And they put Richard right on the phone.

Mrs. C:Did they know it was his mother?

C:Well, she said, "This is Mother Nixon, I want to talk to Richard." Just as quick as it took to transfer the call into his office, why, she was talking to Richard. So I think the boys all were very fond of their mother and listened to her advice, you know. I think, she didn't do the talking that their father did, but I think she was pretty keen and I think Dick got a lot of his ability to talk well to a certain extent, but I think he also got a lot of his keen mentality from his mother. She was real quiet, seemingly, but very positive when she thought that something needed saying.

P:Would you say that their Quaker beliefs would have contributed to the way the boys were brought up? There was never any trouble with them. Would this be a reason, because of their religious type family?

Mrs. C:Well, I would think so. I would because they had a religious background just not only from their own parents but from their grandparents and so forth, clear back. So I think that helps, yes, I do, don't you?

C:Yes, I do. [23]

P:Did you ever meet Grandmother Milhous? Elmira Milhous?

Mrs. C:No, I never did.

C:No, I believe not. I don't think so. I know some of the Milhouses but I don't remember meeting Mrs. Nixon's parents. I heard more about them from Hurless Barton. He and his mother lived for a short time with the Milhouses, that is Mrs. Nixon's parents, when they first came from Texas. The Bartons live in Whittier and are related to the Nixon family. Hurless Barton's mother was, I think, a cousin of Hannah Nixon's mother. I believe that's it.

P:Intertwined, there's a lot of Wests and Milhouses.

C:Yes, it makes our friends, Hurless, second or third cousin, something like that. Nixons, I never did hear them figure it out exactly just what the relation is.

P:Did Hannah or Frank ever tell you of Richard's likes or dislikes? Or did you ever notice things that he liked?

Mrs. C:He was pretty young when they left here, you know, so I don't know whether they had any special likes or dislikes.

C:No, that's the way with me, I just don't know.

P:Would you know for instance, why he skipped from the second to the third grade he skipped half a year in school or something?

C:Well, I think that was just because he did all the required work. He was a little faster in picking up his studies than some of the others. I did the same thing when I first started in school. When I left school the first year, at the school I was in, they said I was ready for the third grade, so I didn't get to be President, either!

P:Do you know if Hannah ever had any boarders? A person told me that when they were putting the paving on Yorba Linda Boulevard, that the workers on that road would buy meals from Hannah.

Mrs. C:In Yorba Linda?

P:In Yorba Linda. Did you ever hear anything about that?

Mrs. C:No, but I wouldn't be surprised, would you? She used to make cherry pies for twenty-five cents and sell them [24] in the store in Whittier. I know because I used to buy them. They were the best pies you ever put in your mouth, and for twenty-five cents.

C:Yes, that could very well be. I don't remember about that myself, but their house was so near the area where they were working on the road and there wouldn't be very many places in Yorba Linda that they could have gotten meals that it wouldn't surprise me at all if that story is true. But of my own knowledge, I couldn't say. I just don't know but it wouldn't surprise me at all that it might be true because it would have been a very convenient place. As Julia was saying, she baked pies to sell and, of course, they were like everybody else in Yorba Linda. We were looking any way we could to add a little bit to our income and I think that is a very likely thing, but I couldn't verify it myself for sure.

P:Now, they say when Richard's confronted with a problem that he'll stick with this problem until it's solved. Is this a trait that's been carried through the years?

C:It seems to have been an early characteristic, yes, that he didn't give up on anything. Well, it's like about his sticking with the football team you know, sitting on the bench for all the years he was in college. He wanted to play football so he just stuck it out, you know, and would appear every time they went out for practice in hopes that he would be called on. He seems to have displayed that characteristic early in life. Anything he set his mind to do, he didn't give up until he worked it out and he still has that characteristic today. His political life proves that, you know. It looked like he had finished his political life and he came back and won the top office in the land. Nobody in past history has ever been able to do that. When they have once gone from the Vice-Presidency out of political activity, no one else up to the time of Richard Nixon has ever come back in political life and obtained the high office of the land.

P:That's right.

C:All our previous Vice-Presidents, when they went out of office as a Vice-President, they dropped out of political life.

Mrs. C:Maybe it's a good thing.

C:Well, some of them, it probably was.

P:We were talking about Frank's temper. I know that they [25] had the irrigation ditch from the Anaheim Water District running in front of their house and the kids used to go swimming in that. And somebody mentioned that if he caught him in there, he'd be really mad and he might pick them out and throw them back in again? Did you ever see him do anything like that?

C:Well, I've heard that story. I never saw it done, but I heard that story.

Mrs. C:I wouldn't be surprised.

C:I wouldn't be at all surprised because he was a bit on the fiery, impulsive side and I wouldn't be at all surprised if that were true, and, of course, the canal is just a ways from the house, you know, from here to that wall of the yard there. Would be a great temptation to small boys to get in that ditch and some of us that were a bit bigger got in it too.

Mrs. C:You know, I don't think that he would actually throw them in hard to hurt them because he wasn't that cold, but he probably gave them a paddling and then told them to go home.

C:He was a little excitable and all that but he was, at heart, a real fine Christian man.

P:More smoke than fire?

C:I don't think he intentionally would hurt any child or do anything that he thought would hurt them, but he might drop them back in, then give them a hand to get out again and no one would ever think that Frank Nixon would have intentionally hurt anybody—child or anybody else, you know. If he thought he had reason to be fired up about something he could get excited real fast, but then he got over it just as fast.

P:He'd be gruff to scare them?

C:Yes, and as far as I know he never seemed to carry any grudges or anything that way, you know; if he got into an argument with anybody, and he loved to argue politics particularly, why, when the argument was over, it was over.

P:What in particular did he like to argue about?

Mrs. C:Politics.

P:In the political field? [26]

Mrs. C:Politics and anything in the Bible.

C:Yes, politics or Bible study. He loved to argue, either one or both, and he did a pretty good job at it, too.

Mrs. C:Yes.

P:Was he as good a listener as he was a speaker when it came to these arguments?

C:Well, in a way, I suppose. Yes, he, as I recall, would listen to the other person's side and then try to win the argument. It isn't an argument if one person does all the talking. I think that he probably was fairly good at listening to the other person's argument but he was a pretty fast talker, and whether he won the argument or not, he probably out-talked many people. I don't mean any of this as criticism, either, because I think that practically everybody, everybody in fact, that I knew liked Frank Nixon, liked the whole family, you know. They were well liked in the community. It was considered quite a loss to the little town of Yorba Linda at the time they moved away. They felt that they were some of out better citizens and we all hated to see them move out, but we understood why because the lemon grove wasn't doing well at all and it certainly made a fine site for the new school. They got enough from the sale of their ranch to get them started in their new business up in East Whittier and so it proved to be a real good move for them. Certainly if they had continued on that grove they wouldn't have done as well as they did in the grocery business. It never would have made a top grove. There were many groves in Yorba Linda later, as they got older, that did quite well, and as I told you a while ago, most of us that have stayed in Yorba Linda, through the increase in value of our crops in later years—the increase in the value of the land itself—came later enough to finish our lifetime in comfort, we think, hope, at least. But there was several places that the land was so much of it on a high clay ridge that it didn't become a very profitable grove. There was much of Yorba Linda that did produce well, but for many years there were a few places that most of the acreage was on one of these high ridges like that where the Nixon home was, that thin top soil and a heavy, very heavy, clay subsoil that the trees just didn't do well at all, and probably never would have. Undoubtedly the Nixons did well to sell that place when they did and go into another type of endeavor.

P:Could you suggest any other names of people that I might contact that would also know the Nixons for an interview? [27]

C:Well, let's see. I mentioned this lady up in Lodi.

P:Mrs. Furnas?

C:Mr. Barton, as I mentioned, Hurless Barton, has her address. He is chairman of our Nixon Birthplace Foundation, executive committee. He has the address of this lady and I don't know if he has done so yet, but he was planning to go up to Lodi and get a recording of her, you know, of her remembrances of the Nixon family and particularly of the time when Dick was born, in as much as she was the one that helped the doctor that night. Yes, then this Hurless Barton that lives here in Yorba Linda. W.H. Barton, it is, and they live up on Oriente Avenue. I don't recall the house number, but it's on Oriente Avenue and you can easily find it in the telephone directory. This Mrs. Pickering, that lives over in Fountain Valley. Mr. Ralph Shook, Senior, was here in those years. He has a fairly good memory, but he's telling the story of what he recollects. Seems to be a little problem for him and it might be interesting for you to go and talk to him and see what you think about recording his voice. He lives, well, you can almost see the place. It's right across where those eucalyptus trees are over there. It's on Mountain View Street. Who else is there in Yorba Linda?

Mrs. C:The Johnsons, what about the Johnsons? They lived here before.

C:Fred Johnson, yes, they live over on Eureka Avenue. Fred Johnson and his wife were early residents and knew the Nixons well through the years.

Mrs. C:And they are Quakers, too. They were in our Sunday school class, too.

C:Yes, they were members of the Friends church, attended the same Sunday school class. They're up in the eighty year class, five years or more older than we are. They would probably have some interesting recollections of the Nixon family.

Mrs. C:There aren't very many of us left.

C:That's just about all that I can think of that were here through those years that . . . See, the Nixons having left here about the latter part of 1922, wasn't it?

Mrs. C:I think so.

C:And see up to that time we only had a population of some seven hundred or so, and many of those people have [28] either moved or passed away, you know. The number of people that are still here that actually knew the Nixon family through their years of residence in Yorba Linda are getting pretty limited.


C:George Kellogg might know—he was here part of that time and he's been active in Republican affairs in the community and helped with campaigns locally during some of Dick Nixon's campaigns when he appeared in Yorba Linda. George might remember something about it.

Mrs. C:I think George would probably remember better than some of the others.

C:Probably his recollection would be clearer than Ralph Shook because he's still pretty sharp.

Mrs. C:That'll be telling on you.

C:Oh, that's filed away in secret.

Mrs. C:Oh, is it? I don't know. Well, anyway, George Kellogg, he has a good memory. I think he might remember some things, really.

P:Okay, thank you very much.

C:That's just about all of them that actually were here and had personal contacts with the Nixon family during their residency in Yorba Linda. Most of those people that we've mentioned have also had some contact with him through the years in political campaigns and things that way. All of us that knew Dick in his early years have been enthusiastic supporters of him ever since he started in politics way back when he ran for Congress. Our knowledge of the family has carried on through the years and, of course, we haven't had the close contact that we had in earlier years, but I think probably all of the people that were mentioned have had some part in political campaigns through the years as well as having known the family when they lived here in Yorba Linda.

Mrs. C:And wasn't Mrs. Nixon a beautiful young lady?

C:Oh, yes.

Mrs. C:You have to say that. She was just beautiful.

C:Saying that the reason all of us might particularly think she was beautiful was the fact that she was such a nice personality, you know. She wasn't one of these [29] that run around and was a great mixer, but she was a person that you just instinctively liked and knew that she was a fine character. You meet people that way sometimes. You have to get to know people before you know they're fine people, and again you'll meet some folks that they just show in their face that their personality is nice. Mother Nixon was one of that kind of people, but she wasn't effusive in her talk or anything that way, but she was always friendly and you just instinctively knew that she was a good, fine person.

Mrs. C:And also, she was a person that could just mix in any class of people—the highest to the lowest. She was just the same all the time.

C:Didn't bother her at all that she was associating with the President, or her next door neighbor, it didn't make any difference.

Mrs. C:I really knew her almost better the later years than I did in the younger years, because we were always at political meetings together and all. I think it was the same way with you, wasn't it? Because Dick was young when he left Yorba Linda.

C:I've seen her back in Washington and associating with political bigwigs back there didn't seem to fluster her at all. She just was Mother Nixon wherever she went. Then that's the way most people that are really a fine character ... they're not overwhelmed by the amount of money or political influence that people have. Certainly that was the impression that I had of Mother Nixon when I saw her in Washington. It didn't make any difference to her. She was proud of her son that he'd attained high office but she wasn't bothered about it. She mixed with those people back there the same as she did with the neighbors out here.

Mrs. C:Hoyt, did I ever tell you about the time I had a yardman working for me and he asked me who I was going to vote for when Nixon was running, and I said, "Well, I'm going to vote for Nixon. Who are you going to vote for?" And he said, "Well, I'm not going to vote for Nixon." And I said, "Why?" And he said, "I don't like his looks." And I said, "Well, that's an awful poor excuse; I don't like yours, either."

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


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