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

Ralph C. Shook Sr.

Interviewed by Richard Curtiss, February 10, 1970   Open this page in a new window

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

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

Copyright © 1977

The Oral History Program

California State University, Fullerton



Richard M. Nixon Project

Richard Nixon: As Sunday School Student and Neighbor

O.H. 948




Richard Curtiss


February 10, 1970



Richard M. Nixon Project


INTERVIEWER: Richard Curtiss

SUBJECT: Richard M. Nixon: As Sunday school student and neighbor

DATE: February 10, 1970

C: This is an interview for the California State College, Fullerton, Richard M. Nixon Oral History Project. Richard Curtiss is interviewing Mr. Ralph C. Shook, Sr., at his home in Yorba Linda, February 10, Tuesday, 1970.

Mr. Shook, will you please tell me a little bit about yourself how you came to Yorba Linda and when?

S: I was born and raised in northwestern Iowa on a farm and came to Whittier, California, in the first week of January, 1910. I had friends in that town, and became employed in the citrus packinghouse there. I became acquainted with citrus orchards and heard of the development of the Yorba Linda tract by the Janss Investment Company. In a few weeks, my older brother Roy and myself came out here and investigated it. On February 4, 1911, we bought six and two-thirds acres of land at the fantastic price of $275.00 an acre at 10 percent down, which we did happen to have. We thought we would raise tomatoes, potatoes, et cetera, but then we thought that everyone was planting lemons, so we bought some lemon trees on credit and planted them. Then we went on from there developing other orchards. The tract was sold largely to people who never did live here. Happily for us, it gave us employment setting their orchards and taking care of them. That was my story for about forty-five years, including hauling fruit after these orchards got into production. For forty years I hauled about half of the Yorba Linda fruit production from the orchards to the packinghouse, which was my main occupation. [1]

C: Where were the packinghouses?

S: Up at the little village where Main Street hits the present Yorba Linda Boulevard. There's a large building up there going westerly on the left side of Yorba Linda Boulevard.

C: That would be near Imperial on Main Street.

S: Near Imperial on Main Street. A very large building. There are no active packinghouses except for avocados in Yorba Linda now, but that building is presently used, part of it as a carpet factory in Yorba Linda.

Now then, that brings me up to Yorba Linda. It's a wonderful life, incidentally. It beats anything except my boyhood in Iowa. That's a wonderful place to be a boy.

C: Were there many people out in this area at that time, early 1911 or 1912 here in Yorba Linda?

S: This month on February 4, I've completed my fifty-ninth year in Yorba Linda, starting on the sixtieth, and there were about thirty people at that time.

C: You mentioned many people purchased land out here but did not live here. Was there a greater percentage of those that did not live in the area that had purchased land?

S: Much greater, a much greater percentage.

C: Were they mostly from Whittier?

S: No. Whittier, Los Angeles, Long Beach. A lot from Ohio, because the people that lived here and came out from Whittier had their roots back in Ohio in a Quaker settlement. It is quite largely a Quaker settlement, or people with Quaker ...

C: Beliefs?

S: Beliefs or at least had friends, or friends of friends, their friends.

C: Were you a Quaker yourself?

S: I joined the first church in Yorba Linda which was a Friends church. I was a Methodist before that, in my boyhood, but I did join the first ... It was a Friends church, and the building still stands. It was built by voluntary labor. My brother and I participated. He was a pretty fair rough carpenter, and we worked a week there. [2]

That was our joint contribution.

C:What was your brother's name?

S:Roy. He passed away thirty-three years ago.

C:He came out with you at the time?

S: Yes, he came with me. In fact he came from Iowa with me, or the other way around. He was five years old.

C: I see. At that time, was the main production or market lemon groves?

S: Lemons and oranges, but about two to one lemons.

C: When was your first encounter with Frank and Hannah Nixon?

S: Very probably at this Friends church, which is still standing on School Street. I heard that that is to be moved over to the Nixon farm, to the Nixon home. That's incidental, I just heard that. I'm all in favor of it as a landmark. He also went there as a little boy to Sunday school. That I know, because I saw him there.

C: Is the Friends church that is presently standing, the original church?

S: Oh, no. There's one on Main Street, which is in the process of being dismantled, south of the Bank of America. The Bank of America has purchased it. It's the same church as far as a church body is concerned. The building is an old wood frame, wood side building over on School Street south of the present Baptist church. Right close to the fire station.

C: We were talking about your first encounter which was probably at the church. How did Frank and Hannah Nixon seem to you? What kind of people were they?

S: They were fine people. His mother was, as near as I can describe it, a gracious lady. A very nice looking lady and intelligent, and articulate, but not obtrusively so. Frank was intelligent and very articulate, sometimes obtrusively so. In other words, he'd debate you on any subject and let you choose any side you wanted. He did a pretty good job of it.

C: Was he actively interested in politics of any kind?

S: Local politics, head over heels. [3]

C: What about Hannah Nixon?

S: Well, she was very quiet. She was interested in church activities and, I believe, in school. I'm not sure if they had a PTA [Parent Teacher Association] then or not, but if they had she would've certainly been in it, because she was quite a chum of my wife. In fact, when our daughter was born in 1918, Mrs. Nixon was expecting a child, too. Mrs. Nixon had three boys and she said, "I want a girl." She said, "Now, if you have a girl, let's trade." But they didn't. And her son that was born the same month, then passed away some time later.

C: That was Harold, wasn't it?

S: Yes. I think he had tuberculosis. I'm a little vague there, but I think I remember she had to go to Arizona with him, and was there some while. Are you familiar with that?

C: Yes, I think I have heard that in some of the biographies written about Richard Nixon. Now as far as the church, was that the mainstay of activities in Yorba Linda at that time?

S: Yes. It was the social focal point and, of course the only church for some while. It was really a community church more than a Friends church. It was built under the auspices of the Friends Meeting at Whittier, California. I believe it's a yearly meeting, they call it; and I think the Methodists and the Presbyterians started movements, only they didn't make the grade with enough aggressive leadership to actually go ahead and do something. It was more accurately a community church, but it was called the Friends church.

C: Some biographers have written that Hannah Nixon was the head of the household, she was the stable point. Did you find this to be true?

S: Nobody could dominate Frank Nixon. Nobody.

C: I see.

S: It couldn't be done.

C: Would Frank Nixon be called, in modern terms, a radical.

S: Well, radical, he wouldn't be called a conservative. Let's, put it that way.

C: So, as you say, he had definite ideas, and he stuck by them. [4]

S: Yes, he had very definite ideas and he stuck by them. He was perfectly willing to talk about it to anybody who would stop a minute or two.

C: Did you work with him at all, with his groves?

S: Well, in this incident we had by that house there, there were three places that required drainage under the Anaheim Union Canal. They just put the ditch on through, regardless of damming up any water, because in the old dry farming and the sheep herding days, dams were of benefit. If you dammed up some water, it didn't hurt anybody. It was an advantage to the land. When he came in on the basis of citriculture or agriculture, irrigated agriculture, that had to go. He and a man by the name of Pike--he later became my brother's father-in-law--Mr. Nixon, Mr. Pike and myself got permission. We went to the board of directors of the Anaheim Union and got permission to do this work. Also, they furnished us the equipment and the pipe to put through, but we had to do the manual work. That leads up to the point where we were busy doing it down here, which was a matter of screwing a blade, a cutting edge, you could sort of describe it, like a fan on a motor car except a very heavy gauge one. On the end of the galvanized pipe, and feeding it in and shoving it by jack screws against firmly embedded pillars, you had to keep pressure on that and turn it with a six foot long stilson wrench; no boy should try that. Strictly a man-size job. And in the process I had horses, and furnished the horse. The horse would pull it out when it got where we couldn't turn it in at all, indicating we had quite a lot of loose material; we'd drag it out, and then we'd empty it. Then the horse had to turn around and shove it back in, then we started out turning again. It's pretty primitive, but that's the way we did it.

C: Was it successful?

S: It was successful. In fact, the pipe's down there now.

C: Did Frank Nixon have what you would consider, at that time, a prosperous grove to make money?

S: No, but it wasn't his fault. All of us were citrus ranchers with a very minimum of citrus knowledge. That's about that way I could describe it. He came from Indiana or Ohio--won't go into that. He had part oranges and part lemons. The oranges grew fine; the lemon trees barely grew, and never did grow. That was because of the rootstock. Certain strains of sour root, Eureka lemons, grow very small and they're not vigorous. I know he never made a penny. [5] I doubt if he made expenses at any time on his lemons. The oranges grew fine. They're a different kind of rootstock. The same, care and the same man doing it, so don't mark that up against him as being a failure.

C: Would you consider that subsistence farming? He made just enough to feed his family and get by?

S: Not on his farm. He and another man, this same Mr. Pike, bought a caterpillar, which most of us had never seen before, with the implements, the discs and plows and things. They did custom work for these nonresident ranchers on a fairly large scale, and that, same as in my case, made our living. We didn't live on our orchards in those early years.

C: What was the occupation?

S: Well, taking care of other orchards. Some of the fellows were carpenters and built. As other people came in, they got employed developing their homes and things. Also, I had right on this orchard, tomatoes and sweet corn between the trees, the trees were just thirty inches high or so and twenty-two feet apart. You had a lot of land, and you had a lot available to irrigate, and so we did. Tomatoes would grow fine on that virgin land. After it has been irrigated for some years it's rather difficult on this heavy clay loam. But where there's virgin land it would grow fine. I raised tomatoes fairly extensively, that is for the fall market. They'd ship them back East when it already got to be winter there.

C: What did Frank Nixon do in addition to his groves to earn money?

S: Well, as I said this custom, working for other people, non-residents.

C: You also mentioned he was a carpenter. Was this a source of income as well?

S: I presume so, although I can't recall personal incidents, but it undoubtedly was. Everybody was sort of a jack-of-all-trades, you know, the way things were then.

C: Did you help Frank Nixon build his house?

S: No.

C: Did he help you build your house?

S: No. [6]

C: They were done independently?

S: Yes, totally. (Interview was interrupted temporarily)

C: We were talking about the building of homes, and where Frank Nixon made his living in addition to his groves, but I think we indicated enough about that. Perhaps you could tell me when you first came in contact with Richard Nixon as a child? What was your first contact with him?

S: Well, of course, there were a lot of young couples, including ourselves and the Nixons. We were young couples then, some fifty-five, fifty-seven years ago, and our young families and the church activities again were sort of the center of community activities and interest. Specifically we had parties. There were quite a few families at our house and the Nixon's house. We were there, and there were youngsters, and they'd get them back in the bedroom; other folks would bring their babies and they'd be laid out in a string on the bed, and they'd get them to sleep finally. And then the old twenty-five year old folks would get busy and have a swinging time.

C: So, then, you obviously knew Frank and Hannah Nixon before Richard Nixon was born.

S: Oh, yes, yes indeed.

C: Let's jump forward then a couple of years when Richard Nixon was a child of three or four. Did he differ at all from his brothers? Was there any marked difference in his character?

S: I can't recall. He was just another youngster, and just like they are here by the hundreds now. Maybe one of them could be President someday. Never thought he would be.

C: It has been said in some of the biographies that Richard Nixon liked to read much more than his brothers. He was an indoor boy, more than playing outdoors, because he was always inside reading. Did you find this to be the case when you visited?

S: I wouldn't want to say that. I know that he and his cousin, I remember that, Merle West, his first cousin ...

C: The writer?

S: No, that's Jessamyn. No, Merle is a boy about his own age.

C: Oh, I see. [7]

S: No, that is, Jessamyn West and Merle are cousins of Richard Nixon. We talked that over about a month ago. The elder West, her father, died and we were at the funeral. We had quite a visit with her, because my wife knew her quite intimately when she was a youngster, Campfire Girl's activities and all that stuff. But I think he was just an average American youngster who liked t--I've heard some allusions about him swimming in the lake, but I very much doubt it. In this same canal here ... because to find a youngster who didn't do it, would take a lot of hunting. I mean to find a youngster who didn't get in there. It's strictly against the rules, but rules are attractive to break to little kids

C: Do you think that he swam in the canal?

S: Oh, yes, without a doubt. My kids all did. I raised three right there in that house. One of them will be fifty-three years old in May.

C: Is this the same house that you live in now that you came to in 1911?

S: No, 1917. No, the house I came to is over on Vina Vista Street straight over across there, that my brother and I built in the fall, 1911. Part of it has been remodeled twice, but the initial frame, in part, is just as we built it in 1911. But this was built here in 1917.

C: As a child, did Richard Nixon differ from his brothers? Was he more quiet perhaps than his brothers, less boisterous?

S: He was not less boisterous. It would be the other way around. He wanted his way.

C: He did?

S: Yes.

C: So, would you say he took after his father more than his mother?

S: Well, I don't think he had that ability to talk about anything that you pleased, although I wouldn't go so far as to say that. He was just an average American youngster. I taught school, believe it or not, to youngsters two or three years older than he was, the Marshburn family, which is the Marshburn carrot farm boys. They were the outstanding Yorba Linda family all down through the years, old Dr. Marshburn and his descendants. One of the finest families, and outstanding. Of course, they've made themselves millionaires in the carrot business. They were average [8] American youngsters, but I had myself a time trying to keep those kids' attention on the Sunday school list. If I turned my head, I'd get a spit ball.

C: You're referring now to all of the Nixon children, or all of the children?

S: All of the children. They were not much different than they are now, except any vandalism would be very minor, and now it isn't minor. We have it right here within a quarter of a mile. I stood over there and had kids up in that tree right over there. I called to them and told them to get down out of my trees, please. They yelled dirty things at me and then started to throw at me. I couldn't conceive that until I got hit right there, then I knew that they were actually throwing to hit me, which was unbelievable. Now the Nixons or any of the kids of that era--that's the thought I'm trying to get across they would no more have done anything of that nature, totally, no more than they'd take their pet dog and cut his tail off. But they do now.

C: So, the mischievous nature of the children has increased. It was lesser at that time? They were less inclined at that time?

S: Yes, to vandalism. Mischief approaching vandalism.

C: Can you remember anything, perhaps during these Sunday school sessions, that Richard Nixon may have excelled in, any phase of the lesson itself, his talking, his oratory, or anything?

S: My memory is more or less vague but still persists, that he had the ability to concentrate, and was more intent on the subject at hand, and to talk, but not likity-split, like his dad.

C: So he weighed his words?

S: Yes, I think he weighed his words. That's a good phrase. This would be inherited from his mother.

C: Were there any more characteristics that might have been initiated in his childhood that we see now in Richard Nixon?

S: Well, industriousness--that things don't come to he who waits, but he who works and keeps busy. If you don't keep busy, I believe that would indicate his present thinking, that if you can work, do it, or else you don't get anything to eat. [9]

C: In what way was this life influenced by the Quaker beliefs?

S: To go a little further than that. He worked at home, because the first two years people would pick their own fruit. There wasn't enough, and they couldn't afford to hire the gangs that picked. The family would go in and the youngsters, seven and eight years old, would assist in that. Then, later, of course, we know the story when they established the market up by La Habra. He had a regular employment just as a member of the family, not as a paid employee. He was just a member of the family. That was one of the things for him to do, go in and get supplies--which shows to me a very commendable trait. But for that era you couldn't have pointed it out as commendable because that's the way it was pretty much.

C: It was more the rule than the exception?

S: Yes. Now they can't get kids to pull weeds around their own rose bushes.

C: In what way was Richard Nixon's life influenced by his Quaker upbringing?

S: You've kind of got me there.

C: Would you say it was more strict than the traditional?

S: I believe so, I think that could apply. He had a part of his father's aggressiveness. I recollect other students, and some of them live here yet, that were in his classes, and they've told me way back in other years, way back during previous campaigning, of his attitude. He had ideas and he wanted those to prevail, and he was very aggressive about putting them forth, which someone described as bossiness.

C: Some people have said, and believe still today, that Richard Nixon, when he was confronted with a problem, would not let go of the problem until it was solved. Did you find this to be true as a child? In other words, he was not a quitter?

S: Well, I think you could say that, yes, that that would be a characteristic.

C: Could you perhaps tell me any particular instance or generalization that might have happened in his childhood that might confirm this?

S: Are you trying to ask me of some particular instance that happened fifty-five years ago? [10]

C: Well, that's why I added the general. Any general traits that might have suggested this?

S: No, I wouldn't want to be specific about that.

C: Nothing stands out at the moment?

S: No, no they don't. Well, some of the instances. Are you familiar with Jessamyn West's writings?

C: Yes.

S: South of the Angels is a Yorba Linda story, of course. I know because I had the only Maxwell. She had a boy in there, a young fellow with a Maxwell car and he was studying for the ministry. I had the Maxwell car, but I wasn't studying for the ministry. Of course, she had to change things around slightly. And also the incident of the ranchero and chasing the boys out, and the one neighbor coming down and taking a horsewhip to the big old Mexican ranchero. I knew the incident at the time.

C: So that particular segment from the book is from real life?

S: Many of the incidents are, but of course they're jumbled because you're asking for too many different kinds of trouble you know. That is, locations, some I recognize that the stories are based on, only the location of the valley and the road, I had to figure where in the world that could be. But it was the people and their actions that I knew. Now Cress Delahanty by her, that's a girl's life from growing up in Yorba Linda. I was interested because my daughter was very close to that era, growing up her total life here in Yorba Linda. It was about going up on the reservoir hill and picking yellow violets, and also the oil wells up at, I forget what you called it, it was what we know as Olinda. Of course, she had a different name, and the high school at Tenant, which was Fullerton.

C: So her book was truer to life than most people may suspect?

S: Yes, yes

C: Would you relate to me once again the story of the incident with the horse and Richard Nixon? It was reported that you saved him from being kicked in the head.

S: Well, I hate to be specific about being kicked in the head or the hind leg, because the horse was switching at flies, et cetera. You can't have a horse standing all day long there and just occasionally being used. There were flies [11] moving around. Now, here is something, perhaps you would know more about what I'm talking about. When you were an eight year old girl can you give any specific instance right down to the way it happened? Quite awhile back, isn't it?

C: I can see where that would be difficult, but is the information true that you did save Richard Nixon from being kicked in the head, or was it perhaps a little bit of publicity?

S: It was publicity. Now, the Fullerton writer, Ray Rhodes, over there, he came out and talked to me. The story he had in there just faintly resembles the things I told him

C: Oh, I see. So perhaps ...

S: I'm wondering how yours is going to come out?

C: Well, the advantage here is that we have a tape recorder and it will be typed verbatim from the tape.

S: Not more than two hundred feet down this path here was where that place is, and it's there yet. We did the work there, and the evidence of it on account of the pipe is there yet. Frank Nixon and the other man and myself did the work, and the horse was there and the instance. Now, why that happened and how come that happened that afternoon I don't want to pin down, because over there at the convention center that night when Nixon was up there talking--I think one of the first things he said about all these incidents of his early boyhood, he doubted that any of them were true. I was within five feet of him when he said it. But the elder, the ninety-two year old lady that spanked him, that's true without any doubt. The other lady . . .

C: That was Mrs. Pickering, wasn't it?

S: Yes, Mrs. Pickering, and the other lady that pinned his first diapers on him and all that . . .

C: Now would that be Mrs. Furnas?

S: Mrs. Furnas and Mrs. Pickering. Then there was one or two classmates, the Japanese girl, [Yoneko Iwatsuru]. There was another one that I tried to get to go, but her husband wouldn't let her. They were Basque people. Oh, she wanted to go, and her brother did go. I told her I had an extra ticket. I had a handful. He called him up at Newport Beach and fell all over himself. Then he hunted [12] me out at Disneyland Hotel. We were having dinner there at the Disneyland Hotel--the group, the program group-- and he come in and hunted me up to get the tickets. He was tickled to death.

C: What was his name?

S: John Apalategui.

C: Was he a classmate?

S: No, his sister that I wanted to go and hoped that she'd have some part. She would have been glad to, but with the Basques the male member of the family is the big chief and nobody crosses him.

C: Now, what was her name?

S: Catherine Apalategui. And then ...

C: That's not her married name, is it?

S: Travaglia.

C: Do they live here in the city?

S: Yes, they live here yet.

C: I see.

S: Over on Yorba Linda Boulevard. Just off Avocado on Yorba Linda Boulevard.

C: It's not my intention to put words into your mouth, but about this story about the horse, would it be basically true today that at one time Richard Nixon was standing too close to the horse and you just told him to get out of the way?

S: Well, I moved the horse.

C: You moved the horse. Just out of curiosity, what part did Richard Nixon play? Was he just a bystander watching what you were working on?

S: Apparently, he was just there because his mother couldn't be taking care of him. That was my impression. I'm sure she wasn't at the bridge club. There was no such thing, she would have been there if there had been.

C: So he just tagged along with his dad? [13]

S: That was my elusive memory of it. There again I was talking to the lady up at the library, who's writing a history of Yorba Linda, which is ...

C: Mrs. Carpenter?

S: No, Mrs. March Butz. Mrs. Citizen is the librarian, and March Butz is writing this history. She has called me in many times, and I had to edit, sometimes totally revise things she had in there. I said, "Well it's an interesting story, but it isn't so."

C: How true of history today.

S: Well, I told her about the story. Then I said, "I think it would make it interesting, go on from there, maybe it was imagined, maybe it happened." The little boy came over to his daddy and whispered something, and he said, "No, just go over there to the bush." And he did. Then there was a scream. And I looked and the bush was a cactus, but we better not tell that. You better edit that out.

C: We'll leave that one up to you.

S: It would be interesting, but let's not get into that. I'll bet I'll be surprised when I see that book, some of the things that are still in it.

C: As far as Richard Nixon, did he tend to look up to and follow his father more than his mother?

S: I think so. It would be an exceptional youngster who didn't. It would in that era because of boys, boys and girls, which is as much as I can describe that part.

C: Was Frank Nixon a man who liked the outdoors?

S: Yes, and he was industrious. That would describe him. Intelligently industrious. I've heard him tagged as an impractical, actual failure. I don't agree at all.

C: This was Frank Nixon?

S: This was Frank Nixon, because he was a worker, a good physical worker, being able to use his head. Perhaps impractical. I spoke of this caterpillar, early type; they were gigantic things, extremely expensive, and cost a fortune to keep and repair. I think that the two fellows lost money eventually, because they went in when everybody was doing work with horses and mules. I had fifteen head [14] of horses and mules for several years, then I got a Ford truck, then I got a Fordson tractor. Then I got a modern caterpillar, what they called a T35, which was pretty good, and got rid of my fifteen head of horses and mules, there are more horses than mules. There are more horses now than there were then.

C: Getting back to Frank Nixon and his son Richard. Did he tend to emulate his father, that is, was he more like his father in his characteristics than his mother, or was it a combination of both?

S: Well, sticking to something--that would be a characteristic of his dad. Two sledge hammers and a crowbar, you couldn't move him. And, I guess, Dick is about that way.

C: What about the other boys. Did they take after the father more than the mother?

S: I would just hesitate to give an opinion about that.

This incident that I spoke about Mrs. Nixon wanting to trade with my wife. Well, of course, there was a lot of fun about it. Well, does that enter into this at all? This Merle West, Jessamyn's brother, got desperately ill. My wife was a nurse, a trained nurse, and Mr. West came after her; she had come off of a baby case and was tired to death. In those days, the nurse had to prepare the meals for the family and wash the dishes and take care of the patient, and everything. She was home, in her home--that was before we were married. We have been married fifty-three and one-half years. He came after her to look after the little boy. He said his own wife couldn't take care of him. She was just hysterical and didn't feel well anyhow. Finally she gave in, but she told him that she would not any more do any of the family work. She just made up her mind that that last case was the last one. This Merle, he had dysentery. He'd been eating apricots that were only about half grown, but he liked them I guess, the taste or something, but he got dysentery terribly, and he got worse and worse, then she called up. They gave her the number of the doctor over in Anaheim. She called him up, she wanted to know his instructions to her. Well, he said just try to keep him comfortable, that's all you can do. Don't make any particular difference what you do, he's going to die. And, of course, that made her pretty furious, and she told the father, so he got the old Dr. Marshburn, the first Marshburn. He was a Quaker physician, he had been a pioneer Quaker physician in Texas. He came over and looked the youngster over, and he told the nurse to give him starch enemas and keep him comfortable. And [15] she did, and that helped some, but still it just kept him for two or three days. Then he started to get worse, and she called up the doctor and he said continue the starch enemas and I'll be over. Well, she told him, I think the baby is dying. Well, he said, that's all we can do, just give him the starch enemas. That day my wife had gone home to get a change of clothes and things, and left instructions for the mother to give, I forget, applesauce perhaps. He liked it. She just let him have all he wanted to eat, and then he got tremendously worse. The doctor came and asked her what my wife had given him to eat, and said Mrs. West fed him because I had to go home for a couple of hours. He went and asked her. "Well, I gave him applesauce." "Well, how much?" "Well, I gave him all he wanted to eat, he liked it so well." And he said, "Well you probably killed your baby," so he went on. He went over to prayer meeting. This was Wednesday evening, and she told him, "Well, you'd better pray for this baby 'cause he's just worse and worse and worse." My wife said, about midnight, the baby perked up and by morning he was much better. So, she believes prayer had a big hand in it.

This cousin of Richard Nixon's and his boyhood chum went swimming in the canal. They were chums clear up when he entered college. That was part of the homecoming celebration. And they had a lot of things--in fact, bought a Ford car together, or something or other. That's just part of the background. I don't know if that's pertinent to what you want. You may help yourself to anything.

S: In Richard Nixon's later years in Yorba Linda, in 1920, 1921, 1922, just before they left for Whittier.

S: He was much younger than that. You mean the year 1921?

C: Yes.

S: Oh, yes.

C: When he was seven, eight or nine years old. How was he developing, his characteristics? Were they pretty entrenched from his younger years? Did they continue?

S: I believe so. According to other folks that were in the school, some a year or two older, and some in his class. In fact, I've been told that he just wanted to run everything. Wasn't happy unless he did.

C: So would you say he was a leader?

S: Yes, of a group. Perhaps dominant, that is, if you can get away with it. Generally, in any group, there's somebody. [16]

C: Would you say this leadership ability stemmed from his mother, his father, or perhaps his Quaker background? Or can you pin it down?

S: Well, the aggressive factor is strictly from his father. His mother had a quieter character. To pick out a perfect, gracious lady, she'd be it. A gracious lady.

C: Would she also be, what you might associate with the strong silent type? She was silent and gracious, but still dominant.

S: I kind of think I get your idea. That was one characteristic She must have been a big influence because, from my remembrance of her, which is pretty vivid as far as that goes, a child would be influenced by a mother acting that way, quietly but firmly. And, undoubtedly, ninety-eight times out of a hundred being right.

C: Getting again back to the Quaker church: You mentioned that the social activity was mainly around the Friends church. Did Richard Nixon have a lot of friends? Were there a lot of children in the area that he associated with? Or was it mainly home?

S: Well, there weren't a lot of children. Yes, there were many that he associated with, but again they're scattered to the four winds. A lot of the folks that lived here then, you can't even associate the name it brings back, and you can't remember where they lived or what they looked like. They're gone, successful. Well, it's been that way in perhaps any community. Say you have a ten year turn-over of population, except some of those folks who stay around fifty or sixty.

C: Can you suggest some people we might be in contact with that might still be here that knew Richard Nixon and his family as you have know him?

S: Have you contacted Fred Johnson?

C: No.

S: I think he was the first head of the Friends, when the Friends took this project and built the church, and I believe he was the local head of it. The clerk of the meeting.

C: Is he still here in Yorba Linda?

S: Yes. Fred Johnson. He is now not paid much attention to [17] by the present population because his views are antiquated and very self-centered. I always got along with him very well, but he is probably a source of information without any doubt whatever. He knew Frank, and his wife, presently, was a leader. He was married at that time, but she died in two years. That was the mother of his first children after they came here.

C: Could we use you then as a primary contact, as an introduction to Mr. Johnson?

S: Yes. Oh, yes. We've known each other here for over fifty-five years.

C: Are there many people left here in Yorba Linda that attended the Friends church at that time? In 1910 and 1920?

S: Yes, Dr. and Mrs. Cochran, although Dr. Cochran, I don't think he was associated with. About a year ago they had a little program for him. It was his fiftieth year of practice in Yorba Linda, and he is still uptown, and still has an office. He is in his eighties. You've heard of her?

C: Yes, I've talked to her on the phone.

S: You've talked to her. As far as her memory, you wouldn't believe she's as old as she is. Just from her appearance. This Fred Johnson, Selover who are in our category as far as residence here, but they ...

C: What was her name?

S: Selover? You mean ...

C: No, the last name you gave us. Selover?

S: Selover. The mother of that fellow's picture. Only they're still residents here. And of course Kellogg, George Kellogg. Everybody in Orange County knows him, and he was at meetings. We'd have community meetings. The chamber of commerce they called it. It was really a sort of town hall. Far removed from the present day notion of the chamber of commerce. And our water meetings. There was a mutual water company, and later, but very much, the chamber of commerce and the water company meetings to elect boards of directors. Nixon was there and made himself known. And this fellow George Kellogg. He still lives here. Up in his eighties a ways, and he's very dominant, in fact, of the Imperial Highway Association. That's been his avocation. For forty years the secretary of the Southern California Institution. For putting this highway here, [18] he finally got it through.

C: Well now, when Richard Nixon and his family, Frank and Hannah and the other children left in 1922, did they go directly to what is now La Habra area? Or did they go back East?

S: You know, I'm pretty fuzzy about that. Now I know of the incident of them going back to Pennsylvania. The time before or after, I just don't know. I just can't remember. I know they did for a short period, but my impression that they went up there, and she started to sell pies.

C: So, it wasn't until after they were in the Whittier, La Habra area that they went back East for a short time.

S: I don't know. I can't say. Of my own knowledge, I'm too vague about that. This Merle West, this cousin would know without any doubts whatever. He lives in La Habra up there by the East Whittier Church or the children of his father's house. But George Kellogg, I've talked with George about it, about Nixon's attitude in those early days. "Well," I said, "he was certainly very much of a liberal-minded fellow, Frank." I remember the word for liberal, he was a pink.

C: A what?

S: A pink. He was more than a liberal. He was a pink tinge. Translating his attitude on up to now, he might be out on the street corner with a banner. He was properly developed as time went on. He got out of that.

C: I and California State College in Fullerton certainly would like to thank you. You've been most helpful, and I'll get back to you as soon as this is typed up.


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