Cecil E. Pickering

Interviewed by Steven Guttman, June 30, 1970   

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

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

Copyright © 1977

The Oral History Program

California State University, Fullerton [Intro]

O.H. 933



Richard M. Nixon Project


INTERVIEWER: Steven Guttman

SUBJECT: Richard Nixon: Yorba Linda Childhood

DATE: June 30, 1970

SG:This is an interview for the California State College, Fullerton, Richard M. Nixon Oral History Project. Steve Guttman is interviewing Mrs. Cecil Pickering at 9642 Talbert Avenue, Fountain Valley, California on June 30, 1970. Eleanor Pickering, her daughter, provides comments throughout the interview.

Mrs. Pickering, can you tell me when you first came to Yorba Linda?

CP:I came to Yorba Linda the first day of August in 1910.

SG:How large of a town was Yorba Linda at that time?

CP:It wasn't a town. It was turkey mullen, cactus, rattlesnakes, tumbleweeds and tracks. That's all that was there. We were the third white family to move into Yorba Linda.

SG:What made you decide to move into Yorba Linda?

CP:Because it was advertised as good citrus land and we wanted to move out of Whittier. We were living in Whittier at that time, so we thought we'd go out there and try. We had to haul our water from the Santa Fe [1] pump plant that went up to Olin. That was about three-fourths of a mile that we had to haul water in barrels. We lived in a two-room house that we built with straight up and down boards sitting on little blocks of wood. The wind would sway the house this a way; you'd think you were rolling over. We had a well 250 feet deep on the place, but it would only pump ten barrels a day. It was just like brick dust in it. The stock could drink it and we could irrigate with it. I had a little garden; that was the first thing I did was plant a garden. But we couldn't drink it and we couldn't wash in it. That's why we had to haul water. We lived that way for two years before we got water into Yorba Linda. We finally got water from the Santa Ana River, pumped it up the hills and then it ran by gravity to our place. That's the way the people all lived when they moved in.

SG:That made it a little bit easier.

CP:Yes, it surely made it a lot easier. We had a lot of dust winds and there were no trees to protect us. You could hear the rocks hitting the side of the house when the wind would blow. You could just hardly breathe because the boards were straight up and down with bastings on them and the dust would come into the room. If you laid by the east wall when you'd go to bed, then next morning your hair would be white with dust when we had those winds. It was terrible.

SG:How long had you lived in Whittier before you came out to Yorba Linda?

DP:Three years. We were married in 1907. I was married to Arthur Pickering. We got married on the ninth of May and we lived there until the first of August, 1910. Everything we owned we had on the wagon except the cow and the buggy. We couldn't put them on. We were from six in the morning until nine at night driving out to Yorba Linda, what's now Brea. There was no town there then. I walked from there and carried my year-old baby—he weighed twenty pounds—to Yorba Linda.

SG:You were pretty strong back then. [2]

CP:Well, we were tired. The horses were played out, you know. They'd go a few feet and then they'd look and go a few feet and they'd look; they acted as if they were wondering how much farther it is, that's just the way they acted. When we got out there, there were no roads from a little ways west of Yorba Linda to Brea. There were no roads from Loftus, if you know where Loftus was; that's the first railroad stop east of Brea. There was a little depot there then, right adjacent to Yorba Linda. They tore it down later. And from there on then there was no road. We just wandered through. We had been through it enough in the daytime that we knew how to get there. We both walked and I carried the baby. Finally a thing happened, we got there to Yorba Linda at nine at night and both of us had a sick headache.

SG:I can imagine you would.

CP:Oh, it got so hot. We went to get the key to unlock the door. We had the key hanging in the bathroom at Whittier; it was just a skeleton key. I went to get the key and I had the wrong key; it wouldn't unlock the door. We just had half of the roof on the house at that time, so he put a ladder up to the house, dropped down inside and took the door off the hinges. He let me in that way. We had a sanitary cot there already made up because he had camped on it while he was building the house. We went straight to bed after putting the horses and the cow to bed. We left the chickens on the wagon with the furniture. The chickens were in their cage. The next morning he still had a headache, but I got up and fed the horses, milked the cow and fed her, and fed the chickens. Then I began to unload the wagon and to set things down. I had paper wrapped around the chair legs and things to keep them from getting scratched. I pulled all that off. In the evening he got up and helped to lift the heavy things. The chickens laid eggs. I don't know, it was all over. It's funny after it's all over with, but, of course, at the time it wasn't very funny. So we got the chickens and put them in the lot. He had the fence already built for the lot because the coyotes were thick out there; they'd come right up to the door. I didn't dare put the baby out because of them. We got all unloaded and we lived with that [3] door off for two weeks; had a screen door on and kept it locked at night because I was deadly afraid of those coyotes. They'd come right up there and try to tear the fence down to get the chickens. And they'd come right up; if a chicken was up at the door they'd come up and grab it right there with you standing in the door.

SG:They weren't afraid.

CP:No, they're afraid of you. If we'd pick up a gun they'd run, be gone right now. But otherwise they weren't a bit afraid of us. One followed us almost to Brea one day, right behind the buggy as we were driving to Brea. It was a road wagon, it wasn't a buggy. He carried his .22 rifle in the buggy all the time on account of them because he was as afraid of them as I was. But they finally got them cleaned out. Then the rattlesnakes were the things that I was the most afraid of because the rattlesnakes would come right up there, too. The cat showed me one while I was milking one evening; it was a little baby one that was trying to get into the barn. I was sitting there and I could see the cat jump back, you know, and I knew the way it acted it was a snake. So, I got up off the stool and peeked around the corner of the cowshed and there was that snake— so I killed it. And then my husband killed one that was laying under the sill. I guess you call it a joint. It's the wood that holds the two heads of the barn door from falling. It was up off the ground about like that. He was stepping over it and laying lumber up in top of the barn to make irrigation flumes. He said something attracted his attention after he'd stepped back and forth several times. Then he looked and there lay a rattlesnake under there.

Just showing you the picture with the Sabbath school class. Now this is Donald, his brother. We were raising this boy. He's a relation to the Nixons and that's why I've got his picture.

SG:That was a fairly good-sized school then. I didn't think there were even that many students.

EP:Oh, well, this was way back in 1918 or 1919. This is a whole school, you see, first through the eighth grade. [4] This is Harold Nixon, his brother, the oldest boy. This was our brother, they chummed together. Richard and we girls chummed together. Our youngest sister and Donald would have been the same age. But our boy drowned just a short while after that picture was taken. But this is the oldest boy; he's dead and gone now.

SG:You must have quite a bit of contact with them today.

EP:Oh, yes, yes. We went through grammar school and high school together. My baby sister died. I lived with the Nixons for two or three weeks because they lived right across the ditch from us. She couldn't help the family out any other way but to take care of me and send me to school with the boys while they were all sick in bed. So, yes, they all lived together. His youngest brother, Arthur, was named after my father. The one that was in the Navy. Of course, he's out of the Navy now. He's working there with Richard on those ...

CP:Arthur was sick at the time that I spanked Richard. I had gone over to help Mrs. Nixon wash the dishes—things like that because she had to nurse Arthur. He wouldn't allow anybody in the room but Mama. He was only two and a half years old, something like that. That way it was up to Mr. Nixon and the boys to do the housework. Well, you know they couldn't keep it clean. When I got my work done, I just took the twins over and went over there to take care of the dishes and ironing and things like that, that I could do. Richard was teasing Eleanor and I had told them that they had to sit down on a chair and be quiet because Arthur was so bad. We were expecting his death at any minute. Richard came up and he punched her like that, you know, he'd make her holler. And I kept telling him to be quiet because little Arthur was sick and his mother heard me; she was just in the next room. And she says, "Mrs. Pickering, spank him if he doesn't mind you." Well, I just took him across my knee and spanked him. I didn't hit him hard. I just gave him two swats and his eyes were that big.

SG:How old was he then?

CP:About eight. Right along in there someplace. I didn't think much about it. I was kind of ashamed to think that [5] I did spank him at the time after Mrs. Nixon told me to do it or I wouldn't have done it. But after he was running for President I felt quite proud of it.

SG:Had he teased the twins before or is this the first time it had happened?

CP:That was the first time it happened as far as I knew. When they'd go over there, why, they could play outdoors, but at that time I told them to stay in the house because of the Anaheim Ditch. I was afraid of it; there were children who'd drowned in it, you know. They backed the car out of the garage into it once. It's that close to the house.

SG:The Nixon's?

CP:Nixon did. He had to get the tow car to come and pull him out because it wasn't cemented. It was just dirt and the dirt gave way as he backed out. He had to turn this way and he turned too far. We didn't have places then to back out like we do now, he just had a walk here and then the driveway and then there was the ditch. He had to back straight watching how he was doing it to keep from backing in. He just turned the car a little too much and the bank gave way. It just happened that he was the only one in the car at that time because Mrs. Nixon wouldn't put the children in until he got out in the driveway . . . that now is a street.

SG:Yes, quite a few lanes.

CP:We had to put up with a lot of things in those days.

SG:How long after you moved in was it that the Nixons moved in?

CP:Oh, they moved out there, I expect, about a year after we did, because they lived there before we moved to town and didn't move to town until 1920. The book tells here when they moved there. That was in 1912, of course; I don't remember the exact time. They probably moved there in, let's see, the twins were born in 1912—they moved there probably about 1911, because Richard was [6] born there. That's Richard there. This is Mrs. Nixon. That was the organization of the women's club and they had the picture taken out there. I wasn't in that.

SG:What did Mrs. Nixon do in the women's club? Do you remember the type of things they would do?

CP:I think she was president for six months, but I'm not positive of that because it was before I came into the club. Someplace in here is the picture that tells who the first presidents were; probably it'll be about page 151. No, that's all Nixon. Let's see about the club. That has pictures of the first president of the club.

SG:How would you compare the different Nixon children, their characteristics?

CP:Harold went away to school. He was weakly; he had tuberculosis—that ran in the Milhous family. He was a lovely boy. They were all nice boys when they were growing up. Then after they moved away I didn't have any association with them much. We were in to their house one day for dinner one Sunday. Then we just kind of dropped each other because we all had buggies and Whittier was twenty miles from Yorba Linda. In those days, twenty miles was a long drive. I kind of lost out. I never saw their youngest boy, Edward. Arthur was weakly from the time that he got over that illness until he died; because he ate mildewed grapes and they took all the lining out of his intestines. So that left him, you might say, an invalid and badly spoiled because they didn't want him to cry, you know. Of course, that was hard on him. He just got terribly spoiled until people didn't like to go around. There's the first presidents, Mrs. Nixon's in there. No, she wasn't president, she just happened to be a charter member, I guess.

SG:Did you become a member of the organization a little bit later?

CP:I'm a lifetime member of it. But I wasn't at that time. I didn't join until we moved to town in 1920.I joined up about 1921. I was president two different times for [7] a year after that, but not at that time. I was president of the Parent-Teacher Association for two years.

SG:Do you remember if they had any fear if Richard Nixon was coming down with tuberculosis?

CP:Richard never seemed to be sick, he seemed to be quite healthy and so did Donald. But as far as Edward's concerned, I don't know. Harold was the only one I knew of. I didn't know he had it until after he died and they said that was what it was. He had two aunts that died of it, his mother's sisters. I don't know whether any of the rest of the family had it or not.

SG:Did they talk…

CP:Mrs. Nixon didn't. She never looked like a strong woman, but then she worked hard, so she must have been pretty strong. She was a mighty fine woman. She lived to be up in her late seventies. She never had it. And Harold never showed any symptoms of it until he got out of high school and went to college. They had to bring him home from there I guess because of it. I knew at the time that they said that he caught cold and they called it lung fever. They brought him home and from that time on was when it showed up in him. His lungs just weren't strong. He went way back, I think it was in Pennsylvania, but I won't say just where it was. I think the book told where he went to school, but it's way back East. The winter was very severe, they said. Of course, he was used to California.

SG:Right. It must have softened him up.

CP:It sure did. I won't go back East in wintertime because I'm afraid of it.

SG:Up until that time as far as you know, he also was healthy?

CP:He was healthy all the time he lived in Yorba Linda. He and my boy were both just about the same size and built a whole lot alike, both of them were blonds and both of them were broad-shouldered and very healthy. All of [8] their children seemed to be healthy. Arthur was until he ate the grapes.

SG:Did the back of your house face their front yard?

CP:Yes. The back of my house was west and the front of their house was east, so I could stand in my kitchen and see them come out their front door and see the children play there in the yard, because the trees at that time were just set out. No grass, no nothing except dust.

SG:Yes, lots of dust.

CP:Lots of that.

SG:Do you remember what your first impressions were of the Nixons, the family?

CP:There's a mighty fine class of people. She was low-voiced. I could hear Frank holler at them once in a while when the breeze was just right, because the ocean breeze had been going this way and it'd bring the noises to my back door. But he never yelled at them cross. "Now boys, you know you mustn't do that." It was something like that, you know. "Now boys, it's time to wash the dishes." Richard was ashamed for people to know he had to wash dishes.

SG:That was a girl's job.

CP:To Harold it didn't make much difference. I don't know how Donald was. Donald was jumpy. I had Donald in my Sunday school class and he was good, but he was chunkier than the other boys were. They always came to church with their ties on, wore their little hats and were very mannerly. She taught them well. She was a Quaker. She didn't believe in spanking any more than she absolutely had to, but you'd never hear her scream at them. With me, once in a while I'd ye.ll a little too loud; they probably heard me but you'd never hear her with a loud voice.

SG: Were you a Quaker yourself? [9]

CP:No, I was raised a United Brethren, but I did go into their church. We started that church as a Yorba Linda community church because there were all denominations represented, even to the Catholics. The Mexicans were Catholics. See, Yorba Linda was starting to be a little Mexico. They were bootlegging there; I didn't know it at the time, but I found out afterwards. The Mexicans were making it in jars, what we used to call milk jars back East. I don't know if you'd know what they are or not. They're stone jars. They hold a gallon, two gallon, five gallon, ten gallon. We built the church. My husband hauled the lumber for it. It was all donation work and I don't know whether . . . well, no other church furnished any money for it. The Methodist church at Olinda had died because they were just about done drilling there and the people were moving into other places to drill. They gave us their organ, their chairs and their books, songbooks. And we started up. Just about that time the Quakers began to move out from Whittier and they took it away from us. So, the Friends church at Whittier gave money to finish paying for it, in that way they took it away from us. Several of us, something like about twenty, started the Methodist church and I went in it because it's like the United Brethren. It has joined with the United Brethren now and they call it the United Methodist. United Brethren broke off from the Methodist years and years ago over the word Epworth League. The United Brethren didn't believe in that and some of them thought they should call it Christian Endeavor. That's what started the United Brethren Church. The Methodists, they kind of followed after John Wesley. He was quite a religious man; he came from England. That's what's part of the Methodist church and some of the United Brethren didn't believe in Wesley so much, so ...

SG:When you conducted Sunday school, was this in the community church?

CP:It was called Friends church at that time that I had the class. I taught the adult class one . . . oh, at that time we'd teach about three months and then we'd get another teacher, another one of the class to teach. And I taught it three months and then I went and took the [10] class that the twins were in. That's how I got Donald. It was boys and girls. I let that teacher take another class; of course, she was used to teaching—her husband was superintendent. Then after I went into the Methodist church I taught different classes there. I had a boy's class and a girl's class. I'd rather teach the boys than the girls because they behaved themselves; the girls always were looking at the ...

SG:The hair and dress and . . .

CP:Well, like that, you know, they weren't paying any attention. The boys would sit there and listen to me and they'd speak up if they didn't understand or wanted to ask a question. I enjoyed teaching them. They were high school boys. I didn't have the education to teach them very good, but I'd substitute. They had a school teacher, Miss Snedicor, and when she wanted to go home for the weekend she'd come across the street and ask me to take her class.

SG:Do you remember when it was that you were teaching in the community church, approximately?

CP:Elizabeth was in that class and she died when she was five years old. Must have been . . . she was born in 1916 ... it must have been in about 1918, 1919. I went out of the church after she died so it was about 1918 or 1919, that I taught class there.

SG:Do you remember about how many kids were in there? Was it small?

CP:It started out with about three or four. I'd get out over the town, gather up the kids, get them to coming and I'd get about ten or twelve. Then they'd separate the class, not to make too many for me to look after, and then I'd get out and get some more. So I averaged, I expect, about eight or ten.

SG:Did you enjoy it quite a bit?

CP:Yes, I did. I enjoyed getting the kids in there and hearing them ask questions. I got them to get these [11] Christian cards that we used to get when we were little kids. Sunday cards just about that long, about as long as from here to here.

SG:It was very short.

CP:They're about that wide. They'd have a Bible picture on them and then had questions and answers and a little story on that, on the back. The children enjoyed those pictures. I know one girl was quite little, and she'd go home and she'd say, "See what my Sunday school woman gave me." She'd remember my name, but she'd tell her mother that. Her mother said she got such enjoyment out of the pictures and she could tell her mother what the story was. I'd give it to them one day and read it to them. Then maybe when they'd come next Sunday, they'd tell me what was in them. They could do it, almost all of them could do it. I had one little girl in there that never paid any attention. She had paralysis and I always had to pick her up and sit her on the chair because she had braces on, she couldn't get into the chair. She'd say, "You got a pretty dress on. What'd that cost you? You got a pretty coat on. What'd that cost you?" I told her mother one day how she talked; she said, "She's quite interested in things like that."—the clothes and prices. You get a lot of experience in things like that with children. But I don't know, I always enjoyed teaching children.

SG:About how far away was your back door to her front door?

CP:From the front of my house to the front of her driveway, it'd be about two hundred fifty feet. Our yard, our lot from the street clear to the back end was one hundred ninety-one feet. Theirs would be, oh, it'd be about two hundred twenty-five feet, I expect, because it was on the east to about as far as from here to the sidewalk out there and then their driveway and then their yard. So it was about two hundred twenty-five, two hundred thirty feet from my back door to her front door.

SG:About how large was your total ranch or acreage?

CP:It was fifty feet wide and one hundred ninety-one feet to the back end there. The Anaheim Ditch people had dug [12] the dirt off to make the bed for their canal before there was a Yorba Linda and that made a hole back in there. That's how we happened to have such a long space on that one side. It's because it came back like this; this comes straight and this comes down like that and jumps.

SG:And lets off, yes.

CP:This was a great big hole back in there about, oh, at least twenty-five feet for the hole. When we'd had very bad storms the water'd come down from the hills, well, we'd have a lake there for a couple of days.

SG:Was this an average-size house at this time in Yorba Linda?

CP:Yes. About a five-room house. Our house was six rooms, maybe a porch, straight up and down there in tiles. Their house was plaster; it was a frame house. They had the room upstairs that they put the boys in as soon as they grew up. They could go out the north window and get on the roof quickly. The living room and kitchen, they didn't have a dining room. They had two bedrooms. Well, to start off with, it was three rooms—bedroom, living room and kitchen. Then they added on a bedroom. That's where Arthur was when he was sick. They put four rooms downstairs and one big room upstairs. I've got a picture of it here someplace.

SG:Yes, I think you showed it to me.

CP:The living room was a good big room and the kitchen was a good big room, but I never saw the room where Richard was born, it opened into the living room. But the room where they . . . she had two beds in that room. It was a big room, a great big square room.

SG:Do you remember why the Nixons left Yorba Linda?

CP:They sold out. They didn't have good soil and they didn't have the money to buy fertilizer. Nixon says, "I won't buy fertilizer until I raise enough lemons to pay for it." But he couldn't raise the lemons ... most of the ground there was poor ground. It was that [13] red soil and it comes up. We called it loaf sugar soil. It came up in blocks like loaf sugar when you'd cultivate it, and the water just would flow right down and then it would dry out and be hard. A lot of the Nixons' soil was that way, so he couldn't raise the lemons unless he gave it a lot of fertilizer. Now we had at the north end of ours, right at the foot of the hill, about half of the six acres, about three acres, we had some that were like that. But we had our team and our cow. We always aimed to have a pig that we'd kill in the winter. We'd take all that fertilizer and just keep putting it on that red soil until we got the soil opened up so it was almost as good as the east half. And Nixon didn't want to go and get the fertilizer.

SG:They didn't have any animals to fertilize like you did?

CP:They didn't have any animals at all, not even a dog or cat, unless a stray cat would come there. He didn't care, she didn't either, for pets. He always had to hire somebody with a machine who could come in and do his work when he had to have work done, like furrowing out and cultivating, but later he simply starved out. As Richard said, the rancher was a liar. But since the school took it over, it's a beautiful place.

SG:Yes, I know. Do you remember if he tried growing anything else besides the lemons?

CP:In East Whittier, he started up a little store and Richard helped him there. That's when I lost track of them. They had a little restaurant in that store and they made their own stuff, you know, to use in the restaurant. They put on good feed there and they had to make good there. Richard was going to college and he'd go home and make ice cream to sell there at the store. He never mixed with the kids in playing too much. He said he tried to play ball, but they kept him on the bench all the time. But he didn't have time because he was helping there at home. The kids were good to help there at home until they were married to get a home of their own. But in Yorba Linda they were too little to help, they could get out and pull weeds and hoe. That'd be about all they could do. Mrs. Nixon, of course, couldn't get out and [14] work. I got out on the ranch and helped, but she couldn't. Of course, she had that big family and she wasn't stout enough to do that; she wasn't built that way. I was raised on a farm; I knew how to work.

SG:Do you know why they didn't also get any animals?

CP:They just didn't care for them, they didn't care for anything of that. She wasn't raised that way and Frank wasn't. Frank was a conductor on a streetcar, he did different things like that. His mother died when he was a child. He had to get up and work for himself, so he'd go where he could get wages, you know. Neither one of them were raised that way, so they were just being careful. My husband and I were raised that way. His father ran a dairy. Arthur drove the one-horse dairy wagon and fetched the milk out of the can and poured it into the crock or pitcher, whatever you care to have. Nowadays they couldn't do that, but in those days they could. His horse was trained so that he'd come to this house/ and she'd get her milk. The horse would just come by itself over to this house on the way to their house.

SG:That's pretty good. He could sleep in between stops. So Frank tried to make a go of it with just the one crop, nothing else?

CP:Yes, they tried to make a go of the lemons and they couldn't do it. Frank could do a little bit of carpentering. If anybody needed a little work done, why he'd come and help you out. He came over and fixed the electricity, our lights were just drop cords in our house. The people that built the house, their boys did the wiring and that old wiring was wearing out. There'd been two families lived in that house before we bought it. If.1 had to get somebody to do that, Arthur says, "Well, I'll go over and get Frank Nixon. Maybe he can do it." So Frank came over and did it. That's how I got acquainted with him and the family. I had met her at the club, but she was so quiet I was a little afraid of her, you know, timid of her. I knew she was a nice woman, I could tell by her actions that she was a nice woman. But to really get acquainted with her, I just [15] couldn't. But after I got acquainted with Frank, why, he was raised in Indiana and I was too, that's how we could get acquainted.

SG:Something in common.

CP:Yes, I didn't know him in Indiana, of course. He came from another part. But just anybody from Indiana—I was even tickled to see a dog from Indiana. Well, in that way we got to get acquainted. And then, when I was going to the church, after they came, and I met her in church. I got better acquainted with her because she was in my class. In the Friends church the women were all in one class and the men were in another. In just one of two rooms and the little children were in another one. The young folks set out on the front porch; they had a little porch to come into the church. Later on they built a tower and had a room upstairs over what they called the kitchen.

SG:So after you got to know Mrs. Nixon better, she was more outgoing than when she ...

CP:Yes, you could talk with her and visit with her after we'd get acquainted. She was like me; she was timid of strangers because she had never been around. There were, I think, six girls in the family and they stayed together. There were two Quaker families like that; there were the Milhouses and Mrs. Trueblood's sisters, the McClure family. There were six girls and they all stayed together. They didn't seem to care to mix with other people. They were just happy with themselves. But Mrs. Nixon was very nice. You could talk to her and she didn't believe in any rough talk or anything of that kind at all. She was just a good, clean woman.

SG:Very proper.

CP:Yes, she was very proper. She wasn't high-toned, anything of that kind. She was just a common ordinary good woman. That's what you could say about both him and her.

SG:What kind of things did you talk about, do you remember?

CP:Oh, we just talked about the weather and where we lived back East. Then we got started up in a Bible study class [16] and had that once a week. That finally turned into being the missionary society of the Friends church because it was the same women. We all went to the same church, only church there until the Methodists started up. The Baptists tried to start up, but they couldn't; there weren't enough Baptists there to do it. So the Methodists bought the church from them and that's how the Methodists started. We just had the two churches until Yorba Linda began to grow. Just about, oh, about the last five years was when all these other churches came into Yorba Linda.

SG: Was a large part of your conversations with her along this line?

CP:Yes, they were reminiscing and had Bible study. A lot of times just two or three of us would go to somebody's house; it just happened that we'd happen into somebody's house. First thing you know we'd have a Bible there and get to study. Get to talking about something, get the Bible to look it up on the church or something of that kind. Of course, she was raised a Quaker where the rest of us weren't. Most of us weren't. There were Presbyterians and Baptists, two United Brethren. And that's where Frank came from because Frank's mother was United Brethren. She moved into town and the doctor married her after she moved to Yorba Linda. She and I got quite friendly in that way, being United Brethren. It started during World War I. We wanted to put a flag up for all the men from Yorba Linda—put a flag in the church—you know, that's what they did in those days. She said, "Now, he's a Quaker, so I won't dare to put it in, but I'll pay for it if you'll put it up." "Well," I said, "I'll put it up." We had this stairway to go up to the room and then that was a solid wall down at the bottom of it. She brought the flag and slipped it to me one Sunday morning. I had the thumbtacks and I stuck it up on that wall. The doctor was up on the platform. He was a lifetime Quaker and he always sat on the platform. Nobody would do anything without Dr. Marshburn's consent. I didn't see why we had to get his consent to do things, because some of our boys out of the church had gone. So, I just took that, took my thumbtacks and put it up. He was sitting up there on the platform and he looked [17] Back. "Who ever dared to put that thing up there?" He just stepped down and ripped that down and I never saw it afterwards.

SG:Did you ever tell him that you were the one?

CP:I didn't tell him and neither did his wife. I don't know what he did with it, but I never saw it anymore. I just didn't see why they had to get his consent just because he was a lifetime Quaker. Hannah Nixon was a lifetime Quaker, too, the way I understood, but she never was radical like he was. No, if they wanted to have a revival meeting, they had to ask Dr. Marshburn's consent. He was the oldest one there, you see. He had been the streetcar doctor and he moved out there because he couldn't practice in Whittier because he was too old. There were a lot of doctors there and people wouldn't go to him. So, he came out to Yorba Linda and he was the only doctor we had until about 1918.

SG:Do you remember when it was that he moved out here?

CP:We moved there in 1910.

SG:Yes, but when did Mr. Marshburn

CP:Oh, well, Dr. Marshburn moved out there probably about 1911 or 1912.

SG:So, for about a year or two you had to go into Brea if you needed a doctor?

CP:Yes. He moved out there. Of course, he thought that being a new town he could practice, and he did. When the twins were born in 1912, he was there, and the twins were born in Indiana. I went back there and stayed with my sister until they were born and then I brought them home in November. Carolyn took pneumonia and I just left them on the bed in the train; the porter never made that bed up, we just kept that bed forward. My oldest sister helped me to bring them home and she and my little boy—he was three and a half—they slept in the upper berth, and the twins and I slept in the lower berth, Nobody knew they were on the train except the porter and [18] me until the last morning when we dressed them to bring them home , or to get off the train down at Atwood. My husband met us down there. I told him that Carolyn was awfully sick. I said, "I'm worried about her." She got worse. Riding on the train with people going back and forth she got a draft. So, he got on the horse and rode to Dr. Marshburn's. It was Thanksgiving Day and the Marshburns were all in Whittier. He was going and he passed a house and that woman said, "Did your family get home?" He said, "Yes, they got home but there's one little baby that's very sick and I'm going to get the doctor." She said, "The doctors have all gone to Whittier today." He says, "Well, then I'll get Mr. Bemus to take his car and take me to Placentia, and maybe I can get a doctor down there." She says, "Well, the Bemuses are all gone today, but I have an antiphlogistine here." She ran in and got it and he brought it home and I put • it on her chest and that took care of her till that night. Then we saw a light in the doctor's house so then he went down to the doctor's. They lived about a mile straight south of us. Of course, it was all bare country at that time, just little trees. He had planted the trees while I was back East, that's how young the trees were. He went down there and the doctor came up and he says, "Well, you have a sick baby here." I said, "Well, for goodness sake, tell me what is the matter and what I can do." It worried me, him talking so slow. He says, "Well, antiphlogistine is the best thing I know." "Well, I've got that on her," I says. So, he wanted to know if I had any cotton or outing flannel. I told him I did. Now I got the outing flannel and a piece around and he cut a little vest out of it and padded it with cotton, made two pieces of outing flannel. Then he took a needle and thread and he basted all that together. He sewed it up together and put that on. We put a fresh antiphlogistine on her. He put just the front side, the next time he put it on the back. He said you couldn't cover the whole thing, because it would choke her to death—she had to have some fresh air. In three days' time he had her all right.

SG:So, he was a pretty good doctor then?

CP:He was a good doctor, but he just was so slow it made people so nervous. Then Dr. Cochran moved, fresh from [19] an intern at college, into a hospital. He was just fresh from Los Angeles. He wasn't sure of himself. He would drag along just like he was scared to say something. I felt like I wanted to talk for him. He was with us when our little girl died. We were all sick with mushrooms, except Eleanor, who didn't like them.

SG:She was lucky.

CP:She didn't eat any. But the rest of us did eat them and we were all sick. Elizabeth couldn't go through it; she was only five years old.

SG:Do you remember about when it was that the second doctor came out to Yorba Linda?

CP:He came out, I imagine, about 1918 or 1919, because Elizabeth died in 1921.

SG:So, for about six or seven years it was just Dr. Marsh-burn?

CP:Yes, between the two doctors.

SG:Did Dr. Marshburn retire soon or did he…

CP:Well, as long as people would come to him, he'd take care of them, but nobody'd go to him because he was too old-fashioned. They would go to Dr. Cochran or go out to another town. Dr. Cochran, just by being the only doctor there, why, he .got to be a pretty good doctor, especially a baby doctor. I had a lot of confidence in Dr. Cochran, but if he couldn't say what it was, the neighbors called another doctor in. But the night before she died, they told the people then that she was dying, but nothing could be done for her. He said he had done all he could. Probably if we'd had had a more experienced doctor, we might have saved her, but we might not.

SG:That's hard to tell.

CP:Yes. I never held it against him because over in the San Gabriel neighborhood—that's where we separated the [20] counties in those days, Santa Ana neighborhood and the San Gabriel neighborhood — there was a family over in there of six and they all died at the same time.

SG:Of the same thing?

CP:Of the same thing. Of the poison kind of mushrooms.

SG:We were talking earlier about how religious Mrs. Nixon was. Was Mr. Nixon as religious as she?

CP:No, he wasn't as religious as she. He had been raised as a United Brethren, I think. Of course, his mother was United Brethren, but . . . Mrs. Marshburn was his real mother and the other boy was the stepson. The United Brethren weren't strict like the Quakers were. The Quakers didn't believe in baptism; they didn't believe in communion. They'd go to church and sit there till the Spirit moved them. Well, we weren't raised that way. We were raised that you had to help yourself if you wanted to get the help. The Quakers thought the help would come. They couldn't meet their expenses. The Whittier church had to take a new minister because they couldn't meet their expenses. They expected the Spirit to move them to pay. The Quaker Church is all right, but I just didn't believe in their ways.

SG:Did other families have the same problems growing things as the Nixons?

CP:A lot of them did, a lot of them. Some of them couldn't even plant the property. And others who would plant and couldn't take care of it would lose it or sell out to somebody. It was several years before Yorba Linda began to look good. Then the price factor enters because the oranges lost out from Whittier and La Habra. That's why Yorba Linda was set up as a lemon country. Well, those people that couldn't meet their bills, that couldn't grow their lemons on that account… of course, most of our soil was good. We had six acres and his father had eleven all in one piece. Well, then we bought the eleven acres. Half of our six was that red soil and we kept doctoring it and doctoring it with stock fertilizer, which is the best fertilizer. We got it [21] built up so that you couldn't tell which was the red and which was black by the size of the trees. At first the black soil trees were way up above the red soil trees, but we just kept bringing up the red soil trees. And the other people didn't do that because they didn't have the stock to do it with and they couldn't afford to buy it. By the time they bought it and had it hauled in, it made it very expensive. They'd say, "Well, the Pickerings can do this, Pickerings can do that because they're rich, because they've judged by the best of our grove." But it was just because we got out there and worked.

SG:So, it was a pretty poor community?

CP:It was. That's why I was helping Mrs. Nixon. She couldn't afford to hire somebody to come in there and work. When we were sick, the neighbors all took care of us, when we were all down with that poison because we couldn't afford to hire a nurse.

SG:There was quite a community spirit at this time?

CP:Yes. First one family'd come in there and stay the night, then another family"d stay tomorrow night and then the next night until we could get up and wait on ourselves. I got up the day that Elizabeth was buried, but I wasn't able to go to church. I wasn't able to do much because it just took the life out of me. The neighbors would bring food in and I could put it on the table, but nobody was well enough to eat it. Eleanor was the only well one. She didn't like mushrooms, she wouldn't eat any. We had a little boy who lived with us that winter, a little half orphan, and he was a cousin of the Nixon family. He got sick and a neighbor woman took him to her house, but he was improving. He got just enough and it cleaned him out and he could start to grow a little; he hadn't been growing any. That's why I took him. I felt sorry for him because I felt that he had two bigger brothers and I thought that they were robbing him of his food because he was the runt. But this neighbor took him and that took him off our hands. A friend of Arthur's, Arthur Bemus, ate supper at our house that night. He ate a big lot. He came on purpose for the mushrooms because he was the one that gathered [22] them. He almost died. He was in World War I and he had a kidney infection when he came home. He never was real well afterwards.

SG:Do you remember much about the elementary school in Yorba Linda?

CP:Yes, the Parent-Teacher Association was organized at our second school building. Our first school building is part of the Yorba Linda Water Office. It started out with eighteen children in the eight grades. The first teacher was named Miss Longnecker and she had a long neck, too. She always wore a high stand-up collar, her head just up like that. Real thin—an old maid. She lived by herself down on the Richfield Road between Yorba Linda and Atwood. She taught school one winter and then Dr. Marshburn's oldest daughter, she lives in Whittier, taught the second winter. It was donation work that built the schoolhouse and donation work that put everything in it to start out with. Just one room.

SG:Were all eighteen kids in the same room?

CP:Yes. This book gives the history of it. I think it went about three, probably three years. By that time enough white people'd come with enough children to build a second schoolhouse. My husband hauled the lumber for that, too. He hauled lumber for the first one, the Friends church, for two houses and for the second schoolhouse. Then the county came in and helped to build f it. And they had . . . four big classrooms. They were in them until her sister got one grade ahead of her in the seventh grade. When she graduated from the high school, she was in the first Nixon school. I was the president of the PTA. I was president when Carolyn graduated out of the eighth grade and she was president when her son graduated out of the eighth grade. So Eleanor and Carolyn went to the second school all together. That would have been eight years that they would have gone, eight or nine. They went to Fullerton High School.

SG:Do you remember what kind of students the Nixon children were? Were they very studious or…? [23]

CP:Richard I know was, but I don't know about the others.

EP:I had understood that Richard was very brilliant in school. The others were just average students where Richard was more strictly A' s.

CP:They said Richard always had his nose in a book.

EP:He studied all the time. The other boys wanted to get out and play like most boys do, but Richard was more of a bookworm. I know in high school and college he was right up at the tip-top of the class and graduates, yes.

CP:He didn't have to do a lot of writing to do it. They said he could write the notes down in just about a third of the words as what the rest of them had to do, in the upper grades. I know when he was in the first grade, Mrs. Cochran was his teacher-—she wasn't Cochran then, she wasn't married then—she promoted him at Christmastime into the second grade, out of the second into the third, that's what it was. And I know Eve Sue was in his class and she said that Richard was just . . . he knew all of it. Where the rest of them would have to hem and haw when they'd ask him a question, well, Richard could say it right away. But when they would want the story written, he could write a story in just about a third of the words that the rest of them could write. One of the things the teachers wanted him to write about, well, he didn't think it was necessary.

SG:Was he more studious than the other Nixons?

CP:Yes, evidently he was because I never heard any comments about the others in school. I know Donald was more mischievous than Richard. Donald liked to get out and play with the other boys while Richard would sit at home and read. His mother said that he was great on history, that he wanted to read history books. Well, I have a book that was written about him, about the time he had before he became President. It's a book about how he would think things out, you know himself. Quite an interesting book.

SG:Did you do anything in Yorba Linda besides the farming? [24]

CP:Everybody was so poor they couldn't do anything. We'd meet once a month in the one-room schoolhouse at the beginning. A new family"d come in; we'd invite that family and we'd have donuts and coffee or pie and coffee, or something like that. We'd have debates. That was so we could get acquainted with the new people. And we'd always invite them in. Of course, we didn't expect them to pay for any of this refreshment. We'd always collect for the refreshments from the older ones because we i couldn't afford to donate them. I could donate cream or milk. But I didn't feel like I had the money to help pay for the other things, see, so I would donate that. Somebody else would maybe donate the sugar, but then they'd have to collect a little money to help pay for the sugar. They'd hold that sugar over from month to month, as long as it lasted and that way they wouldn't have to pay every month on it. We'd have a real pleasant time just getting acquainted with the new people. Well, then they outgrew that one room in the school, so we quit doing it. Now they invite newcomers and have a social to get them acquainted.

SG:You mentioned you had debates. What would you do?

CP:Well, the time I was doing it I got beat, of course. And Mother Vernon, that's what we called her, she was an elderly lady and she was the very first president of the women's club for six months. She and I debated on whether to spank children when they were naughty. She went to Whittier to the library and got books on it. Of course, the Quakers didn't believe very much in punishing, that is in whipping. I always felt like that when the kids didn't behave themselves they needed a spanking after they'd been warned. Mother Vernon let her kids get away with things. She got all of her data from the library at Whittier. It's all friendly, of course. And she beat me. We had a lot of fun with it. But I talked about how they should be spanked and she talked about how they shouldn't be spanked. She showed us how she was with her kids, the girls, she had two girls and four boys. Her oldest son was editor of our paper, the Yorba Linda Star. The girls went away one night to a party or something, and the boys weren't invited. So for orneriness when they went upstairs to bed, they took [25] matches and wrote in the white ceiling "You're weighed in the balances and found wanting." She knew they did it, but she never said a word. And the girls came home and laid down in bed and happened to look up there. And there it was in fiery letters on the wall. Well, it scared the girls. They'd never thought about the boys thinking of anything like that. They went tearing downstairs to their mother and said that it had come in fiery letters on the wall, so the Bible must have had something to do with it. The mother said she couldn't keep from laughing. She had to tell them that the boys did it. She was in the mischief with the boys. She was always doing something funny. But Mr. Vernon didn't think the boys should have done it.

SG:You mentioned that you lost the debate. How did they determine who won? Did they vote on who was the winner?

CP:They voted by holding up their hands. And of course, by that time there were enough Quakers there.

SG:You were just outnumbered. Did you ever set any other subjects that ... ?

CP:No, I can't remember any of the other subjects they had.

SG:Would they all be on similar lines…?

CP:They were all similar to that. Just funny things, you know, to get people to laugh, to break down that strange feeling that you have when you come around to public doings and so forth. But Yorba Linda was the first one to have women at their chamber of commerce and at the farm center to take part in that.

SG:For the same reason, to…

CP:For the same reason that we…. there were some old maids out there that owned property and the women had no place to go, church was the only thing we had at that time. The women started up the farm center. They wanted a potluck, it'd get the men out. So, the women had to fix it. They had a right to go, so they went. To start out with, they had more women than they did [26] men at the meeting because of the women that had the property out there. Some of the men didn't want to go, then the wife would go. So their wives went and they'd just go about fifty-fifty. It kept that way until the last eight or ten years. They got a young president into the chamber of commerce; he said the women had no business in chamber of commerce, it's the men who were the ones that handled the affairs for the town. So, that made the women mad. Their chamber of commerce has never amounted to very much since then. Of course, the town's incorporated now.

SG:Is it quite a bit different?

CP:Yes, it'd be different now.

SG:Was it rather difficult for a single woman by herself out there?

CP:Yes, it was. They had to hire everything. They could get out and hoe. They could irrigate, but they had to hire all their teamwork. One of them kept her property. She was holding it for her nephew and her brother—took care of it for her brother and his wife. They all lived together. The old maid lived with them most of the time. She had a little house, a two-room house. There was a pair of sisters that owned property out there. They had a tent fixed up where they were living. They had boxes set up on their side and that was their cupboard and their drawers for clothing, things like that. A Santa Ana wind came along and blew their tent down. On the next morning they were lying there with boxes and tent all over them and they crawled out. They sold their place; they wouldn't stay there. They lived about a half a mile east of us. Another man came there and bought their property and built a house. His name was Arthur, too. There were

SG:Did most of them stay very long at all?

CP:No, in the early days most of them didn't stay very long. They'd get disgusted and sell out because of the water and the winds and things like that. [27] There were four Arthurs on our street; there was my Arthur, Arthur Dungey, Arthur Miller and Arthur Bridge in a mile there. Then there was an Arthur Drake about a mile west of us and Arthur Bemus, half a mile south of us.

SG:How far did you have to go for your shopping if you needed anything?

CP:We went to Olinda, a mile and a half. I'd take my eggs and basket and hold them between my knees and drive old Pat. She'd go down in the arroyo and up and over to Olinda. We went through the fields because that was shorter. I got caught in the dark one night. It was on a Saturday night and I had to wait to get waited on. They just had one store in Olinda. So, I was afraid to go through the fields for fear that she might not hit the right path. She had been raised on the western plains I don't suppose you know anything about horses and the western plains—they can take care of themselves. She wouldn't step in a gopher hole. She'd come down in the ditches to take and go up like that; that's the way she wore the track, she wouldn't go straight down and then go straight up, because she couldn't. And that night when I got caught in the dark I had hit the Anaheim Ditch and followed that road around. I didn't know it; I didn't know that route at all, but ~L let old Pat have the line and she just took me straight home. I didn't know whether I was going to get dumped in the ditch or not, but Pat took me straight home.

SG:How long did it take for you to commute to the store?

CP:Oh, driving her that way, it'd take me probably twenty-five or thirty minutes, maybe a little longer.

SG:It wasn't that far. It wasn't any ...

CP:It's only about a mile and a half, I imagine. It'd be farther than that now, the way the roads are. But at that time, why, I could go through the fields. I had to cross two ditches, one had a bridge and the other one didn't. [28]

BG:About how often would you go?

CP:We would go Saturday evening after he'd get done with this work because stores weren't open on Sunday. We just had the team so if he was working them I had to wait till he got done. If he wasn't working them, I'd go on Saturday afternoon.

SG:Did most of the people shop on Saturday or ...

CP:We went over there probably about a year and then that store quit because the people moved out of Olinda. It was S.Q.R. that had it. Then we shopped from Placentia, the People's Store at Placentia, and they would deliver. We got phones so we could phone, once a week they'd phone us wanting to know what we wanted and then they'd deliver. That was a big help to us. We got our first car in 1918, a Ford.

S G:When did the first store come to Yorba Linda? Before World War I or was it after World War I?

CP:Probably about 1920.

SG:So about ten years then you either had to go ...

CP:Yes. That was just about 1920. A man by the name of Pullen had it. The post office was put in the corner of it. When you paid your bill, you didn't pay it but once a month. When you paid your bill, you'd get a nickel's worth of candy. But we never bought any groceries unless we could pay our bill when we got our food. I had a garden summer and winter. I'd plant potatoes. I'd dig potatoes and I'd put another potato eye in that hole. I kept potatoes coming, kept onions coming, things like that all the time. As I pulled them out, I'd plant more. I took care of the garden. My husband couldn't tell garden sprouts from weeds. He hoed it all out one day for me; he said, "I cleaned your garden up for you so you could plant it." I said, "Well, that was my garden." So, he never went back in there, only to plow it. It had wire netting around it to keep [29] the rabbits out. At each end it hooked over the post. My husband would lay it back and just come right straight through with the team; he'd use the team of one horse. He had a one-horse plow and a two-horse plow. He worked it all up for me. It was right by the door where I could take care of them. I'd get out there and plant my garden summer and winter so we had a garden all the time. Of course, some winters it wouldn't do well because it'd get a little too chilly.

SG:Is there anything else you remember about the Nixons at this time?

CP:No, I can't think of anything more about them. About that time, you see, they had moved away. Richard was about ten when they moved, wasn't he, Eleanor?

EP:Something like that, yes.

CP:After they moved away I lost touch with them.

SG:When was the next time that you saw them or Richard Nixon?

CP:Well, the next time I saw him, after they moved away, was when we went for dinner at south Painter Avenue one Sunday. He was a big boy then. My girls were big. They played out in the yard all day and we had a visit with the parents. But, as I said, Arthur wasn't well and he was crying all day. Then I lost touch entirely. I didn't even know he had been in Washington until after that. When he was running for Vice-President the first time, they came out to Yorba Linda to the school. I have a picture of that in here. We were there, I was, my husband was gone. And then one other time the old-timers all wore badges. They had a little stand up on the main street in Yorba Linda and he came and spoke. All of us old-timers with the badges got to shake hands with him. Donald was at the clubhouse one night for something or other, I don't know what it was; I went up and shook hands with Donald. I said, "I don't suppose you remember me, but I was the one that spanked your brother." He said, "Yes, you were my Sunday school teacher." He remembered me. That was all until I met him here on the second of January down in Anaheim. [30]

SG:Did he remember the spanking?

CP:He didn't remember the spanking and his mother didn't either. Carolyn, my daughter, and I went in one night to La Habra. We knew they would be there and we wanted to see him. They were at his mother's house; she lived in a little cottage there in La Habra. We found the place and went in. Mr. and Mrs. Nixon came to speak to us. That's the last time I saw Frank. I said, "Hannah, do you remember when I spanked Richard?" And his two little girls were standing there. "I don't like you. My daddy's a good daddyi" said the youngest one. I says, "Yes, your daddy's a good daddy. I spanked him and I made him a good daddy." Well, the nurse came in and took them into a bedroom and kept them there until we got ready to leave. She heard us bidding them goodbye and she came running out and she said, "Goodbye. Come back again." She was over the mad spell. But I thought it was so funny how quickly she spoke up about her daddy being a good daddy. She was only about seven or eight, she was little. The other one never said a word.

SG:Is that the only time that you met Pat Nixon?

CP:That's the only time I saw . . . well, Richard and Patty weren't there. They had gone to the Children's Hospital to visit in Los Angeles. So we didn't get to see them. Then I met Patty the time that they spoke at the Nixon school. They were handing out thimbles as souvenirs with the name Nixon on them; Patty was handing them out. I can't remember seeing her when he was up on Main Street. Then the next time I saw her was down in Anaheim when Richard introduced her to me. Richard hugged me when I told him I spanked him, you know. He was standing by me. Of course, I had my walkers and my arm had a bandage where I'd broken my wrist, the fasteners came loose and I lost them. I went this way two times and that knocked those things out of my bandage. Richard stood there and held my arm so that I wouldn't fall. I didn't know what I was doing. So, he put his arm around me-until I got back to the seat. We got Art Linkletter to be there that night. When Hoyt Corbit came down she asked me if I would go. She said somebody would come to get me if I would. I said, [31] "Yes, I'd be glad to go." And I said, "Who is going to be the Master of Ceremonies?" And they said, "Well, we've got two in mind: Art Linkletter and somebody else." I said, "I want Art Linkletter. I want to see him." I had watched him on television and I liked him. So he was there and I got to talk with him a while.

SG:Thank you for your assistance, Your cooperation has been very much appreciated.


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