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A Glimpse of the Past

Gina Iacovetto
Phippsburg, Colo.

Life in the early 1900s was far different than the life we know and live today. There was little to no technology, the horse was the main mode of transportation, and a typical day included going to school and doing household chores. The Great Depression and World War II filled American lives with hardships. It’s important to remember what life was like during the times when the things we take for granted today didn’t even exist. Frances Louise Morey Iacovetto, known as Louise to friends and family, was born and raised in Phippsburg, Colorado during these times. Now 83 years old, she shares her childhood memories in hopes that they will open a window to the past.

Louise was born on April 28, 1925, to John Morey and Gladys Lindsey Morey. She was their second child – their firstborn was a son, David. She was born at Oak Creek Hospital in Oak Creek, Colorado. The family lived on a homestead on upper Oak Creek and moved to the “Green” place (another homestead just north of the current Craig Ranch on Highway 131 near Phippsburg) when Louise was an infant. In a short time, the family acquired property two and a quarter miles west of Phippsburg. The property was nestled in the Yampa valley near the Seven Point Mine. A house was moved to their new ranch to serve as living quarters and they built a large barn with a dance hall inside. The family gave barn dances in the hall on Saturdays in 1929 through 1930, but Louise recalls that these dances were not very successful. Every Saturday the rains would come and her father, John, would have to pull the guests’ cars out of the thick mud. The ranch was located at the end of the country road, and Louise remembers being told about a dairy located just up the valley during the early years on the ranch.

Louise lived a typical farm life growing up on the ranch. Her family raised many animals, including horses, cattle, sheep, chickens, and pigs. Many of these animals were butchered, and some of the meat was canned and some was, in the winter, frozen in chunks and hung in a cold spot and used as needed. They also raised large gardens full of hearty vegetables that they canned themselves. The potatoes that were grown in the garden were stored separately in a cellar. The family had many good meals with this food. Louise specifically remembers breakfasts made on an old coal range and made up of hot biscuits, pork or lamb chops, bacon and eggs, homemade butter, and fresh whole milk. She also enjoyed oatmeal made with cream. She recalls that one of her favorite treats was sliced bread from the nearby grocery store. She says her family ate well even though they had little money.

Of course, what farm life wouldn’t come without daily chores? Louise remembers that her jobs were sheepherding and feeding and watering the horses early in the morning before breakfast. She also had to go to the hills to get the cows for milking. She was always assigned the gentlest cows to milk. After the milking was complete, the milk was put through a cream separator to pull out the heavy cream. Five and eight gallon cans of this cream were taken by her family to the railroad depot in Phippsburg and were sent to Denver creameries. The family soon after would receive a check for payment, and this money was the family’s so called “spending money.”

Aside from eating and doing chores, Louise also remembers how things worked around the ranch. In 1930, the family put a Delco generator in the house that provided the electricity necessary for running the iron, washing machine, and lights. Before the generator, the clothes had to be ironed with a flatiron that was heated on the range (or stove). The water supply came from a spring, and was carried in buckets to the house and was heated on the stove for Saturday night baths. All the members of Louise’s family bathed in the same water. The children bathed first, followed by Louise’s mother and then her father. More water was heated in a tea kettle for the last bath, since the water would cool off. Louise says that the stoves then had reservoirs on the right side where the water would sit and be heated by the fire from the stove. Before the snows came, 100 pound sacks of flour and sugar were bought at either the local grocery store or the Mount Harris Company store. This was because in the winter time the roads were only passable by team and sled. Louise also tells interesting stories about the bathroom on the ranch. The bathroom was an outhouse, and Montgomery Ward and Sears catalogues got plenty of good use and were all but worn out from multiple readings.

Of course young children at that time still had to go to school every day. Trans-portation to school in those days was not by bus, but by horseback. When Louise started school, she rode horseback into Phippsburg where there was a barn that held the country kids’ horses for the day. Some of Louise’s family friends at the school were the three sons of the school’s widowed janitor. Their names were Walter, Earl, and Curt Jones. In winter, when there was a blizzard, one of the Jones boys would get on a horse and ride part of the way home with the younger kids to be sure they got safely home. The Jones boys were actually neighbors to the house where Louise currently lives!

On Saturdays, Louise again rode horseback to town, this time for piano lessons from Mrs. Bill Wallace. Payment for these lessons was often made with a sack of potatoes, a dressed chicken, or eggs. Louise later used her piano-playing skills to accompany one of her classmates at PTO meetings and school affairs. Louise still plays the piano and still has the old player piano that was used for dances.

One of Louise’s most interesting stories happened when she was in the sixth grade. At that time, she had a Shetland/Welsh pony that she often rode. Louise had to ride it bareback because it was too small for any saddle. However, this pony was a “smart aleck” and it didn’t take long for it to realize that it could dump Louise whenever it shied away from something. All the way home, the pony would run a short distance and stop and watch Louise until she caught up with it. When she did, the pony would run away again. This got Louise very frustrated!

This pony wasn’t the only obnoxious animal Louise’s family owned. At one time, they had a team of mules. The mules were named Clyde and Claude after the Iacovetto twins of Phippsburg (later Louise’s brothers-in-law). These mules once ran away with Louise’s brother Dave. Though they caused no major injury, they did cause Dave to lose his glasses. As a result, the mules were not in the family for long.

When Louise was older, haying was a big job on the ranch. Horses were used for this activity as well. The mower, the rake, and the slip, which are pieces of farm equipment, were powered by the horses. Louise’s assignment was to push the hay up the stacker with the plunger so that it would fall into neatly made haystacks. The team of horses was not only used for haying, but Louise’s dad also used them with a slip to dig the basement for the new Iacovetto General Merchandise store, which was built in Phippsburg in 1940.

Louise went to school in Phippsburg through the eighth grade and went to high school in Yampa. By this time, her grandparents had moved to the area, and she often stayed with them instead of making the trip home. The family ranch was sold in 1944 and their next ranch in Phippsburg was bought from Zarlengo. The ranch house is still there today with a hay meadow next to it.

After she graduated from high school in 1943, Louise went to business school, and after that she got a job with the railroad. In 1946, she married Ray Iacovetto and a few years later she gave birth to daughter Gladys Rae. Their son Elvis came along several years after that. As the oldest life-long Phippsburg resident, Louise still lives in the house that she moved into as a young bride. Her children are grown and she has four grandchildren. Her husband Ray passed away in the spring of 2006. Louise enjoys her current life and still enjoys remembering her life as a country girl growing up in Phippsburg.


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