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University of California Berkeley
Regional Oral History Office University of California
The Bancroft Library Berkeley, California
Western Mining in the Twentieth Century Oral History Series
MINE DOCTOR'S WIFE IN MEXICO DURING THE 1920S
Interviews Conducted by
Copyright 1996 by The Regents of the University of California
Since 1954 the Regional Oral History Office has been interviewing leading
participants in or well-placed witnesses to major events in the development of
Northern California, the West, and the Nation. Oral history is a modern research
technique involving an interviewee and an informed interviewer in spontaneous
conversation. The taped record is transcribed, lightly edited for continuity and
clarity, and reviewed by the interviewee. The resulting manuscript is typed in
final form, indexed, bound with photographs and illustrative materials, and
placed in The Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley, and
other research collections for scholarly use. Because it is primary material,
oral history is not intended to present the final, verified, or complete
narrative of events. It is a spoken account, offered by the interviewee in
response to questioning, and as such it is reflective, partisan, deeply involved,
All uses of this manuscript are covered by a legal agreement
between The Regents of the University of California and Marian Lane
dated March 19, 1995. The manuscript is thereby made available for
research purposes. All literary rights in the manuscript, including
the right to publish, are reserved to The Bancroft Library of the
University of California, Berkeley. No part of the manuscript may
be quoted for publication without the written permission of the
Director of The Bancroft Library of the University of California,
Requests for permission to quote for publication should be
addressed to the Regional Oral History Office, 486 Library,
University of California, Berkeley 94720, and should include
identification of the specific passages to be quoted, anticipated
use of the passages, and identification of the user. The legal
agreement with Marian Lane requires that she be notified of the
request and allowed thirty days in which to respond.
It is recommended that this oral history be cited as follows:
Marian Lane, Wine Doctor's Wife In Mexico
During the 1920s, an oral history
conducted in 1995 by Eleanor Swent,
Regional Oral History Office, The Bancroft
Library, University of California,
LANE, MARIAN (b. 1905) Mine doctor's wife
Wine Doctor's Wife in Mexico during the 1920s, 1996, xv, 120 pp.
Childhood in Indiana as Winnie Ruth McKinnell, marriage to Dr. William
Judd, social life in Mexican mining camps, raids by Mexican revolutionary
bandits, husband's narcotics addiction; treatment for T.B. in Pasadena,
work as medical secretary in Phoenix, Winnie Ruth Judd's trial for 1931
murder, commitment to Arizona state hospital and escape after 29 years, a
new life as Marian Lane in Piedmont, CA, discovery and pardon (1971).
Interviewed in 1995 by Eleanor Swent for Western Mining in the Twentieth
Century Oral History Series. Regional Oral History Office, The Bancroft
Library, University of California, Berkeley.
TABLE OF CONTENTS--Marian Lane
INTERVIEW HISTORY- -by Eleanor Swent xii
BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION xv
I EARLY YEARS, 1905 TO 1924 1
A Methodist Minister's Daughter in Indiana 1
Marriage to Doctor William Judd 2
II A DOCTOR'S WIFE AT ASARCO MINES IN SAN LUIS POTOSf AND
CHIHUAHUA, MEXICO 5
Matehuala, San Luis Potosi; A Life of Relative Luxury 5
The Harder Life of the Mexican Women 6
A Barbecue for Don Felipe 8
Don Anselmo's Birthday and Social Drinking 9
Cajeta de Membrillo and Other Delicacies 10
A Mine Doctor's Medical Practice 13
Narcotics Use by the Doctor 13
III SAN LUIS MINING COMPANY, TAYOLTITA, DURANGO, MEXICO 19
Riding Ninety Miles on Muleback 19
Good Food 21
A Nice Home Above the Hospital 23
Eighteen Months in a Sanitarium for Tuberculosis 25
Mexican Beans 27
Frightening Times During the Revolution 29
Jay Swent Strikes a Bargain with the Rebels 30
Good Things Done by President Calles 31
Leisurely Days in Tayoltita 33
Evacuating the Doctor on a Stretcher 35
IV WORKING IN ARIZONA TO SUPPORT DR. JUDD 42
Stenographer in the County Doctor's Office 42
Trying to Get a Job as a Practical Nurse 43
Marian's Letters to her Mother from Mexico 45
"Scared to Death of the Press" 46
V FURTHER RECOLLECTIONS OF MEXICO 48
Imported Food 48
Earning a Medical License 48
Mining Engineers Who Went from Nome, Alaska, to Mexico 51
Concerning Drinking and Gambling 52
VI WORKING IN PHOENIX 58
Caring for Mrs. Ford 58
Caring for Dr. Judd 59
Taking Dictation from Doctors at the Grunow Clinic 60
Cheracol Cough Syrup, a Narcotic 62
The Tragedy, October 16, 1931 62
VII THE YEARS IN ARIZONA STATE HOSPITAL, 1933 TO 1962 67
Some Doctors Were Very Good 67
Making Prize-Winning Doll Clothes and Crochet Work 68
Singing Songs 72
Seven Escapes from the Hospital 75
VIII LIFE AS AN ESCAPEE IN CALIFORNIA, 1962-1971 78
Caring for a Blind Woman 78
Companion and Housekeeper for Mrs. Henry Nichols 80
Marian Lane 81
A Visit to the Herman Nichols Home in Hawaii 82
The Dogs, Nicky and Cutie 83
Living Across the Street from Mr. Swent 84
Recalling a Party with the Morels in Mexico 87
Life with the Blemmers at Green Valley Farm 91
Capture and a Two-Year Fight for Freedom 94
IX FURTHER RECOLLECTIONS OF MEXICO 99
The Maids at Matehuala 99
The Church at Catorce 106
The Fear of Pancho Villa, a Wicked Man 107
"One of the Few Times I was Ever Afraid"; Difficulty at
the Border 109
A Gold Mine near Madera, Chihuahua, Two Days on Horseback 110
A Cat from the Chinaman 112
Recalling the Night of the Tragedy 114
TAPE GUIDE 119
The oral history series on Western Mining in the Twentieth Century
documents the lives of leaders in mining, metallurgy, geology, education
in the earth and materials sciences, mining law, and the pertinent
government bodies. The field includes metal, non-metal, and industrial
minerals. In its tenth year the series numbers thirty-five volumes
completed and others in process.
Mining has changed greatly in this century: in the technology and
technical education; in the organization of corporations; in the
perception of the national strategic importance of minerals ; in the labor
movement; and in consideration of health and environmental effects of
The idea of an oral history series to document these developments in
twentieth century mining had been on the drawing board of the Regional
Oral History Office for more than twenty years. The project finally got
underway on January 25, 1986, when Mrs. Willa Baum, Mr. and Mrs. Philip
Bradley, Professor and Mrs. Douglas Fuerstenau, Mr. and Mrs. Clifford
Heimbucher, Mrs. Donald McLaughlin, and Mr. and Mrs. Langan Swent met at
the Swent home to plan the project, and Professor Fuerstenau agreed to
serve as Principal Investigator.
An advisory committee was selected which included representatives
from the materials science and mineral engineering faculty and a
professor of history of science at the University of California at
Berkeley; a professor emeritus of history from the California Institute
of Technology; and executives of mining companies. Langan Swent
delighted in referring to himself as "technical advisor" to the series.
He abetted the project from the beginning, directly with his wise counsel
and store of information, and indirectly by his patience as the oral
histories took more and more of his wife's time and attention. He
completed the review of his own oral history transcript when he was in
the hospital just before his death in 1992. As some of the original
advisors have died, others have been added to help in selecting
interviewees, suggesting research topics, and securing funds.
The project was presented to the San Francisco section of the
American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers
(AIME) on "Old-timers Night," March 10, 1986, when Philip Read Bradley,
Jr., was the speaker. This section and the Southern California section
of AIME provided initial funding and organizational sponsorship.
The Northern and Southern California sections of the Woman's
Auxiliary to the AIME (WAAIME) , the California Mining Association, and
the Mining and Metallurgical Society of America (MMSA) were early
supporters. Other individual and corporate donors are listed in the
volumes. Sponsors to date include seventeen corporations, four
foundations, and ninety-six individuals. The project is ongoing, and
funds continue to be sought.
The first five interviewees were all born in 1904 or earlier.
Horace Albright, mining lawyer and president of United States Potash
Company, was ninety-six years old when interviewed. Although brief, this
interview adds another dimension to a man known primarily as a
James Boyd was director of the industry division of the military
government of Germany after World War II, director of the U.S. Bureau of
Mines, dean of the Colorado School of Mines, vice president of Kennecott
Copper Corporation, president of Copper Range, and executive director of
the National Commission on Materials Policy. He had reviewed the
transcript of his lengthy oral history just before his death in November,
1987. In 1990, he was inducted into the National Mining Hall of Fame,
Philip Bradley, Jr., mining engineer, was a member of the California
Mining Board for thirty-two years, most of them as chairman. He also
founded the parent organization of the California Mining Association, as
well as the Western Governors Mining Advisory Council. His uncle,
Frederick Worthen Bradley, who figures in the oral history, was in the
first group inducted into the National Mining Hall of Fame in 1988.
Frank McQuiston, metallurgist for the Raw Materials Division of the
Atomic Energy Commission and vice president of Newmont Mining
Corporation, died before his oral history was complete; thirteen hours of
taped interviews with him were supplemented by three hours with his
friend and associate, Robert Shoemaker.
Gordon Oakeshott, geologist, was president of the National
Association of Geology Teachers and chief of the California Division of
Mines and Geology.
These oral histories establish the framework for the series;
subsequent oral histories amplify the basic themes. After over thirty
individual biographical oral histories were completed, a community oral
history was undertaken, documenting the development of the Mclaughlin
gold mine in the Napa, Yolo, and Lake Counties of California (the
historic Knoxville mercury mining district), and the resulting changes in
the surrounding communities. This comprises around 120 hours of
interviews with nearly forty people.
Future researchers will turn to these oral histories to learn how
decisions were made which led to changes in mining engineering education,
corporate structures, and technology, as well as public policy regarding
minerals. In addition, the interviews stimulate the deposit, by
interviewees and others, of a number of documents, photographs, memoirs,
and other materials related to twentieth century mining in the West.
This collection is being added to The Bancroft Library's extensive
holdings. A list of completed and in process interviews for the mining
series appears at the end of this volume.
The Regional Oral History Office is under the direction of Willa
Baum, division head, and under the administrative direction of The
Interviews were conducted by Malca Chall and Eleanor Swent.
Willa K. Baum, Division Head
Regional Oral History Office
Eleanor Swent, Project Director
Western Mining in the Twentieth
Regional Oral History Office
University of California, Berkeley
Western Mining in the Twentieth Century Oral History Series
Interviews Completed, July 1996
Horace Albright, Mining Lawyer and Executive, U.S. Potash Company, U.S. Borax,
Samuel S. Arentz, Jr., Mining Engineer, Consultant, and Entrepreneur in Nevada
and Utah, 1934-1992, 1993
James Boyd, Minerals and Critical Materials Management: Military and
Government Administrator and Mining Executive, 1941-1987, 1988
Philip Read Bradley, Jr., A Mining Engineer In Alaska, Canada, the Western
United States, Latin America, and Southeast Asia, 1988
Catherine C. Campbell, Ian and Catherine Campbell, Geologists: Teaching,
Government Service, Editing, 1989
William Clark, Reporting on California's Gold Mines for the State Division of
Mines and Geology, 1951-1979, 1993
Norman Cleaveland, Dredge Mining for Gold, Malaysian Tin, Diamonds, 1921-1966;
Exposing the 1883 Murder of William Raymond Morley, 1995
James T. Curry, Sr., Metallurgist for Empire Star Mine and Newmont
Exploration, 1932-1955; Plant Manager for Calaveras Cement Company,
Donald Dickey, The Oriental Mine, 1938-1991, 1996
J. Ward Downey, Mining and Construction Engineer, Industrial Management
Consultant, 1936 to the 1990s, 1992
Warren Fenzi, Junior Engineer to President, Director of Phelps Dodge, 1937 to
Hedley S. "Pete" Fowler, Mining Engineer in the Americas, India, and Africa,
James Mack Gerstley, Executive, U.S. Borax & Chemical Corporation; Trustee,
Pomona College; Civic Leader, San Francisco Asian Art Museum, 1991
Robert M. Haldeman, Managing Copper Mines In Chile: Braden, CODELCO, Mlnerec,
Pudahuel; Developing Controlled Bacterial Leaching of Copper from
Sulfide Ores; 1941-1993, 1995
John F. Havard, Mining Engineer and Executive, 1935-1981, 1992
Wayne Hazen, Plutonium Technology Applied to Mineral Processing; Solvent
Extraction; Building Hazen Research; 1940-1993, 1995
George Heikes, Mining Geologist on Four Continents, 1924-1974, 1992
Helen R. Henshaw, Recollections of Life with Paul Henshaw: Latin America,
Homestake Mining Company, 1988
Homestake Mine Workers, Lead, South Dakota, 1929-1993, interviews with
Clarence Kravig, Wayne Harford, and Kenneth Kinghorn, 1995
Lewis L. Huelsdonk, Manager of Gold and Chrome Mines, Spokesman for Gold
Mining, 1935-1974, 1988
James Jensen, Chemical and Metallurgical Process Engineer: Making Deuterium,
Extracting Salines and Base and Heavy Metals, 1938-1990s, 1993
Arthur I. Johnson, Mining and Metallurgical Engineer in the Black Hills:
Pegmatites and Rare Minerals, 1922 to the 1990s, 1990
Evan Just, Geologist: Engineering and Mining Journal, Marshall Plan, Cyprus
Mines Corporation, and Stanford University, 1922-1980, 1989
Robert Kendall, Mining Borax, Shaft-Freezing in Potash Mines, U.S. Borax,
Inc., 1954-1988, 1994
Plato Malozemoff , A Life in Mining: Siberia to Chairman of Newmont Mining
Corporation, 1909-1985, 1990
James and Malcolm McPherson, Brothers in Mining, 1992
Frank Woods McQuiston, Jr., Metallurgist for Newmont Mining Corporation and
U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, 1934-1982, 1989
Gordon B. Oakeshott, The California Division of Mines and Geology, 1948-1974,
James H. Orr, An Entrepreneur in Mining in North and South America, 1930s to
Vincent D. Perry, A Half Century as Mining and Exploration Geologist with the
Anaconda Company, 1991
Carl Randolph, Research Manager to President, U.S. Borax & Chemical
Corporation, 1957-1986, 1992
John Reed, Pioneer in Applied Rock Mechanics, Braden Mine, Chile, 1944-1950;
St. Joseph Lead Company, 1955-1960; Colorado School of Mines, 1960-1972,
Joseph Rosenblatt, EIMCO, Pioneer in Underground Mining Machinery and Process
Equipment, 1926-1963, 1992
Eugene David Smith, forking on the IVenty-Afule ream: Laborer to Vice
President, U.S. Borax & Chemical Corporation, 1941-1989, 1993
Simon Strauss, Market Analyst for Non-ferrous Metals and Non-metallic
Minerals, Journalist, Mining Corporation Executive, 1927-1994, 1995
Langan W. Swent, Working for Safety and Health in Underground Mines: San Luis
and Homestake Mining Companies, 1946-1988, 1995
James V. Thompson, Mining and Metallurgical Engineer: the Philippine Islands;
Dorr, Humphreys, Kaiser Engineers Companies; 1940-1990s, 1992
Western Mining in the Twentieth Century Oral History Series
Interviews In Process
Frank Joklik, Kennecott
Marian Lane, mine doctor's wife
John Livermore, geologist
Alexander Wilson, BHP-Utah Minerals
Knoxville District /McLaughlin Mine Oral History Project
William Humphrey, Mining Operations and Engineering Executive for Anaconda,
Newmont, Homestake, 1950 to 1995, 1996
William Wilder, Owner of One Shot Mining Company: Manhattan Mercury Mine,
Knoxville District /McLaughlin Mine Oral History Project
Interviews in Process
Mercury Miners. Ranchers. Merchants
Landman , John
Parker , Ron
Ons tad, Marion
Turney , John
Capay Valley General Plan Steering Committee
Ceteras , John
Bledsoe, Brice (Solano Irrigation District)
Corley, Jay (Napa County Planning Commission)
Cornelison, William (Lake County Superintendent of Schools)
Drummond, John (Lake County schools attorney)
Hickey, James (Napa County Planning Department)
Moscowite, Harold (Napa County supervisor)
Parker, Merrily (Cobb Mountain School teacher)
Thompson, Twyla (Yolo County supervisor)
Wilcox, Walter (Lake County supervisor)
ADVISORS TO THE SERIES, WESTERN MINING IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY
Professor Douglas Fuerstenau, Principal Investigator
Plato Malozemoff Professor, Department of Materials Science and
Mineral Engineering, University of California, Berkeley
Robert R. Beebe
Senior Vice President (retired),
Homestake Mining Company
Philip R. Bradley
Former Chairman, California State
Mining and Geology Board
President, San Francisco Mining
Professor Neville G. Cook
Department of Materials Science and
Mineral Engineering, University of
J. Ward Downey
Engineering and Industrial
Professor Richard Goodman,
Department of Civil Engineering,
University of California, Berkeley
Professor Roger Hahn, Department of
History, University of California,
Senior Vice President (retired),
Kaiser Engineers, Inc.
Clifford Heimbucher, C.P.A.
Consultant, Varian Associates, Inc.
*John R. Kiely
Senior Executive Consultant
(retired), Bechtel, Inc.
Manager, Mineral Products
Development, Placer Dome U.S.
Chairman Emeritus, Newmont Mining
Joseph P. Matoney
Vice President (retired)
Coal, Raiser Engineers, Inc.
Mrs. Donald H. McLaughlin
Founder, Save San Francisco Bay
Professor Malcolm McPherson
Massey Professor of Mining
Engineering, Virginia Polytechnic
Institute and State University
*Professor Emeritus Charles Meyer,
Department of Geology, University of
Professor H. Frank Morrison
Department of Materials Science and
Mineral Engineering, University of
Professor Joseph A. Pask
Department of Materials Science and
Mineral Engineering, University of
*Professor Emeritus Rodman Paul,
Department of History, California
Institute of Technology
*Langan W. Swent
Vice President (retired), Homestake
* Deceased during the period of the
The Regional Oral History Office
would like to express its thanks to the organizations
and individuals whose encouragement and support have made possible
The Western Mining in the Twentieth Century Series.
THE WESTERN MINING IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY
ORAL HISTORY SERIES
American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers,
San Francisco, Southern California, and Black Hills Sections
Woman's Auxiliary to the AIME, Southern California and Northern California
California Mining Association
The Jackling Fund of the Mining and Metallurgical Society of America
South Dakota School of Mines and Technology
Bechtel Group Incorporated
Cyprus Amax Minerals Company
Chemical Lime Company
EIMCO Process Equipment Company
E. M. Warburg, Pincus & Co., Inc.
Hazen Research, Inc.
Hecla Mining Company
Homestake Mining Company
Magma Copper Company
Newmont Mining Corporation
Phelps Dodge Corporation
United States Borax & Chemical Corporation
Wharf Resources, Limited
Charles and Lois Barber
Arthur C. Bradley
Catherine C. Campbell
Barbara H. and James T. Curry, Jr.
J. Ward and Alberta P. Downey
James M. Gerstley
Robert M. Haldeman
The Hearst Foundation, Inc.
Mrs. Paul C. Henshaw, in memory of
her husband, Paul C. Henshaw
William A. Humphrey
James H. Jensen
Arthur I. Johnson
Arthur H. Kinneberg
Mrs. Lois B. Lippincott
Dean A. McGee
Mrs. Frank W. McQuiston, Jr., in
memory of Frank W. McQuiston, Jr.
Gordon B. Oakeshott
Vincent D. Perry
Plato Malozemoff Foundation
Public Resource Foundation
Carl L. Randolph
Langan and Eleanor Swent
Claude J. Artero
Mr. and Mrs. E. W. Averill, Jr., in
memory of Catherine Campbell
Bruce A. Bolt
Clemence DeGraw Jandrey Boyd
James Brown Boyd, Harry Bruce Boyd,
Douglas Cane Boyd, and Hudson
Boyd in memory of James Boyd
Philip and Katherine Bradley
Albert T. Chandler
William B. Clark
Elisabeth L. Egenhoff
H. S. Pete Fowler
Richard Friedlander, in memory of
Catherine C. Campbell
Mr. and Mrs. Douglas Fuerstenau
Louis R. Goldsmith
Jayne K. Haldane
Bonnie, Russell, and Steve Harford
Mason L. and Marie J. Hill
Mrs. Bruce S. Howard, in memory of
Henry Harland Bradley
Lewis L. Huelsdonk
Ruth B. Hume
Jack M. Jones
James C. Kimble
Noel W. Kirshenbaum
Nancy H. Landwehr
Carl F. Love
Sylvia C. McLaughlin, in memory of
Jay Kimpston Swent
Frances B. Messinger
L. Arthur Norman, Jr.
Richard W. Rees
Jane A. Rummel
Richard M. Stewart
Simon D. Strauss
John R. Struthers
Virginia Bradley Sutherland, in
memory of Helen R. Henshaw
James V. Thompson
John J. Trelawney
William I. Watson
Barbara A. Whitton in memory of
William B. Whitton
William B. Whitton
Sheldon Wimp fen
Judy D. Woodward
In Memory of L. W. Swent
Marjorie BJorlo Jeannette F. Swent
Christine W. S. Byrd Richard L. Swent
John and Dagmar Dern Regional Oral History Office Staff
Eleanor H. Swent
In Memory of William B. Clark
Fenelon Davis John Matschek
Lowell Dygert Hilda Schramm
Mary Freedman George Shutes
Marilyn Glover Barbara Vollmer
Virginia Goldsmith Mary Witt
Barbara Henderson Mary Woods
After she was arrested in California, the Blemmers and others vouched
for her and she was allowed to return to their home. She came twice to
visit us, and we reminisced about our shared Mexican experiences. Then the
Blemmers died and we did not hear from her again.
In early 1995, one Sunday afternoon I had a telephone call from a
woman who asked to speak to Langan. I asked for her name, and she said she
was someone who had known him a long time ago in Mexico. "Is this Marian
Lane?" I asked, and she said yes. I told her that Langan had died, and she
was saddened. She described the beautiful retirement home where she lives
in Phoenix, thanks to a legacy from the Blemmers, and invited me to come
and visit her. I was intrigued with the possibility that she would let me
tape record her recollections, and discussed it with Willa Baum, director
of the Regional Oral History Office. While I was pondering how to approach
her, she called me again, and urged me to come to visit. I asked whether
she would like to have me record her oral history, and she said yes, so we
made plans for me to go there in March.
I purposely did not look up the newspaper record of her murder trial,
so that it would not color my attitude. I had known her as a pleasant,
conscientious person, and I wanted to meet her on that basis. I did not
probe into details of the murder, since it was not my primary interest.
Her memories of Mexico were what I was eager to preserve.
I flew to Phoenix on March 17 and arrived at Madison Meadows at about
2 p.m. Marian had changed in the ten years or so since I had seen her.
She is thinner, more stooped, and has let her hair grey. She is still
attractive, well coif fed and manicured and stylishly dressed.
She had ordered special tamales for our lunch, which she prepared in
her kitchenette. They were delicious, and started us out on a good trend
of happy Mexican memories.
Another woman, a friend of a friend from Stockton, was also her house
guest, and there were frequent visitors, younger women who are former
nurses and their friends. In her interview, Marian refers to the army
nurses who flew through San Francisco on their way to the South Pacific.
She made these contacts during her years of hospitalization, and strong
friendships resulted. She has a toy poodle, Peppy, beloved by the other
residents, who came by after meals with tidbits saved from their plates.
Marian sent me home with a bag full of craft items made by her friends.
She uses oxygen much of the time to help her breathing; she tells in
her interview that she had tuberculosis as a young woman. She now uses an
electric cart for the long walk to the dining room and her eyesight is
diminished, but she is generally alert. By the end of my stay, she was
tiring. We interviewed fairly steadily during the three days that I was
there, and she repeated some stories. I was not able to establish an exact
chronology of the events she describes, but I believe she gives a good
picture of life in Mexico during that period. She is generous to a fault
Interview History- -by Eleanor Swent
Marian Lane's oral history is included in the series on Western
Mining in the Twentieth Century because of her unique record of life as a
mine doctor's wife in Mexico from 1924 until about 1930. She loved Mexico
and its people, although her happiness was clouded by her husband's
increasing dependence on narcotics which he could easily obtain there. He
was able to find employment in Mexico because in those days American mining
companies were eager to hire any American doctor. He had worked as a
doctor for United Verde in Jerome, Arizona, and also for a railroad, and
served in World War I. He was employed by Asarco at mines in Matehuala and
Los Charcos, in the state of San Luis Potosi, and at Santa Barbara,
Chihuahua, before going to the San Luis Mining Company mine in Tayoltita,
Durango. It was a turbulent and dangerous period in northern Mexico, and
her story captures that excitement. The ride on horseback down the Piaxtla
River to escape from revolutionary bandits was a thrilling episode.
This ride was also a high point of my husband's youth and when I went
to live in Tayoltita as a bride in 1947, I often heard stories about it.
In 1966 we moved to Piedmont, California, and bought a house within a block
of the home of my father-in-law, James Swent, then a widower, who had spent
most of his working life in Mexico as manager of the San Luis mine. Across
the street from his house, and immediately behind ours, lived Mrs. Henry
Nichols, a widow whose housekeeper and companion, Marian Lane, when I met
her said that she had known my husband Langan when he was a boy in Mexico.
He and I talked briefly of this, but he did not remember her, and was too
busy with other affairs to spend time thinking about it. Soon after that
Mrs. Nichols died, the house was sold, and Marian moved to Danville to live
with Mrs. Nichols's daughter, Mrs. John W. Blemmer.
Not long after that we were astonished when the newspapers carried
the account of Marian Lane's arrest; she was really Winnie Ruth Judd, who
had escaped from the Arizona state hospital where she was committed for
life after commutation of a death sentence for the 1931 murder of two
women. The lurid case involved dismembered bodies found in a trunk, and
Winnie Ruth was dubbed the "Trunk Murderess."
People who had known her speculated whether she had really committed
the murders, or had been framed by someone else. The Swent family oral
tradition included stories of her beauty and also her quick temper. They
also told that her husband, Dr. William Judd, was fired for using narcotics
from the company medical supplies. To my knowledge, there was never any
suspicion that she used narcotics or abused alcohol.
in all her judgments of people, excepting Pancho Villa. She tells how on a
recent trip to Mexico, she refused to visit a historical site connected
with him. This is a surprise because she seems to forgive everyone, from
President Harding to punitive hospital personnel, for any misdeeds.
The transcript was sent to her and returned in March, 1996. Because
of her failing eyesight, she had a friend help her with the review. She
deleted a few minor criticisms of people she had known. She had had a fall
and a slight stroke and moved to live with one of her friends. In the
letter which accompanied the reviewed transcript, she wrote, "My sight is
very very much worse. I can only see shadows....! hide from all newspaper
reporters. They called me such vicious names. They terrorized my parents.
I have never met a policeman who wasn't kind to me. A news reporter once
asked me, weren't you afraid every time you saw a policeman? I said no, I
always had a feeling of security, especially when I used to sit on a bench
waiting for my bus when I went to the Oakland College of Medical
The tapes of the interviews are deposited and available for study at
The Bancroft Library, University of California at Berkeley.
Eleanor Swent, Project Director, Western
Mining in the Twentieth Century series
17 May 1996
Regional Oral History Office
The Bancroft Library
University of California, Berkeley
Regional Oral History Office University of California
Room 486 The Bancroft Library Berkeley, California 94720
(Please write clearly. Use black ink.)
Your full name MARIAN J. LANE (nee Winnie Ruth McKinnell)
Date of birth January 29, 1905 Birthplace Oxford TrwH.^,
Father's full name Harvey J. McKinnell
Occupation Methodist minister Birthplace TTMnr.* c
Mother's full name Carrie Belle Niswonger
Occupation School teacher, housewife Birthplace__ LlliaQs
Your spouse William C. Judd , M.D.
Occupation physician Birthplace m-in^c,
Your children None
Where did you grow U p? Methodist parishes in Southern TnH-ian a and Illinois alone th
Present community Mfl di8on Moadowa 7211 N.n 1 1. 7rh CL* . ... .
s /Z1 'th Street, Phoenix, AZ
Education Greenville Colle^Greenville. Illinois
Oakland College of Medical Assistants, Oakland, CA
Occupation(s) medical secretary,; interpreter, county Hnrt-n-r' r ffi go Hrnndti-
Department btore; companion to Mrs. Henry Nichols, Pled^t? CA
Areas of expertise_
Other interests or activities vr , r \ r [t -v r
luielgii exchange students
Organizations in which you are active_
I EARLY YEARS, 1905 TO 1924
[Interview 1: March 18, 1995] II 1
A Methodist Minister's Daughter in Indiana
Swent: We have to get to Mexico, but let's began in Indiana.
Lane: I was married on the eighteenth of April, seventy years ago .
Swent: This April would be your seventy- first anniversary. You were
nineteen or twenty when you were married?
Lane: I was nineteen in January and married in April. On the eighteenth
Swent: So you were born in 1905 in Indiana?
Lane: Yes, Oxford. My husband was back from World War I and I happened
to meet him in Indiana.
Swent: How did you happen to meet him?
Lane: He was working in a hospital there at Evansville, Indiana. He used
to come up to see me at Lafayette from Evansville about once a
Swent: How had you met him?
Lane: At the hospital.
'This symbol (H) indicates that a tape or a segment of a tape has
begun or ended. A guide to the tapes follows the transcript.
Swent: Were you working there?
Lane: My father had a little church close to there at Evansville.
Swent: Your father was a Methodist minister so you moved often.
Lane: Yes, all the time. We lived in a little parsonage, little white
parsonage with a little white church next door with a white picket
fence around it. So I wasn't very far from home ever.
Swent: You said you had gone to college.
Lane: I took my high school work at this seminary. Instead of going to a
public high school I went to this theological seminary, took what
they called my preparatory work for college. It was really a high
school there. Only we had forty-minute classes instead of thirty-
minute classes. In high school I think it is thirty-minute
classes, but we had a little longer periods. But it is mostly
training them for ministers and missionaries and things like that.
It was a theological seminary and college.
Swent: Did you think you wanted to be a missionary?
Lane: I knew I didn't want to be, especially after I met my husband. The
most exciting place I ever went was to the Elks Club. When my
husband and I started dating, he took me to the Elks Club. I took
him to a missionary meeting at the church and he thought it was so-
-he had never been to anything like that before. I had to sing a
song that night that I had the date. I had to sing a song; it was
"Oh Africa, dark Africa, God's love has set us free. We bring to
you in Jesus' name," and he thought that was so funny because he
had never seen anything like it before. Because he was sort of a
man of the world then.
Swent: You said he had been in World War I, in France.
Lane: Yes, he was in three decisive battles. He was at Verdun and St.
Michel and Argonne forest. He was in those three decisive battles.
Marriage to Doctor William Judd
Swent: Was he already a doctor then?
Lane: Yes. He had been in Arizona before that. He was a doctor in the
mines at Jerome at one time. That is where he enlisted, up here in
Arizona. So when he proposed to me he said, "How would you like to
marry me and live in a dirty little mining town out in Arizona?"
He wasn't promising me a bed of roses, was he?
Swent : No .
Lane: "I didn't promise you a rose garden." And that sounded very
Swent: It sounded romantic to you?
Lane: Yes, a little mining town out in Arizona, that seemed like across
Swent: Well, he was a very handsome man.
Lane: Yes, I think he was too.
Swent: Brown eyes you said?
Lane: I was very flattered at his attention. He had applied to go back
to Jerome but he got a better offer with Asarco, you know, American
Smelting and Refining Company in Mexico. He sent his application
in at El Paso. They needed a doctor at Matehuala.
Swent: Had he been from this part of the country? Where did he grow up?
Lane: As a boy he went to school in Oregon. And he graduated at
Willamette University in Oregon. Then he was the doctor at Jerome.
At one time he and another friend, a classmate, had a little
hospital in Yuma, Arizona. And later he was the doctor at Jerome.
However, at one time he was the doctor for the Southern Pacific of
Mexico, that train running from Nogales down to Guadalajara. And
he had that hospital at Guaymas. Then when the Mexican government
took it over they called it Northwestern, I believe, of Mexico. It
was no longer the Southern Pacific. And that is when he left
Guaymas and he went to Jerome. Then he enlisted and went overseas
and he came back wounded. He was practicing in Indiana when I met
him. My father had a little church just twenty miles by interurban
[train] up from Evansville, a little town there. We married in
Swent: Did your father marry you?
Lane: No, he wouldn't. He wouldn't even sign my permit. I was too young
to get married in Indiana without your parents' consent. Well, I
had lived there and all the people in the church knew me at
Lafayette, Indiana. So I went to some of the elders of the church
and I said, "We are going to get married even if we elope, and I
don't want to elope. But if I get three people that have known me
nearly all my life to swear that I am past eighteen years of age, I
can get married."
Well, my father, when he knew I was going to get elders of the
church, three people in the church that had known me all my life,
why, he went with my husband to get the permit. He signed the
permit for me to get married. But he wouldn't marry me. Another
minister of the church married me, by the name of Johnson.
Swent: Why didn't he want to marry you?
Lane: He thought I wouldn't be happy.
Swent: He thought you were too young?
Lane: He thought my husband was too much older.
Swent: He was twenty years older, you said?
Lane: He felt that he was a man of the world. We went to New Orleans and
spent a few days honeymoon there. Then from New Orleans the train
was ferried across the Mississippi there to--I know it was ferried
acrossthat was a treat for the train to run off on a ferry. Then
I guess we went down through Laredo down through Monterrey to San
Luis Potosi. Went to Matehuala, San Luis Potosi where they had a
house, where they had a big mine. We were there for two years I
think. Lovely homes, beautiful homes.
II A DOCTOR'S WIFE AT ASARCO MINES IN SAN LUIS POTOSf AND
Matehuala. San Luis Potosi; A Life of Relative Luxury
Swent: That must have been a tremendous shock for you.
Lane: Oh yes. We had a five-room house, all hardwood floors, and a
little yard, and a fireplace in the house.
Lane: Oh, yes. The company furnished us servants.
Swent: Oh, did they?
Lane: Oh, yes. They furnished three men servants. They were old men
that could no longerwe had a very kind manager at the mines. His
name was Reyer, Elliot Reyer. He was a very kind man, a very kind
man. Instead of putting so many on a pension for the company in
New York he gave them jobs easy to--their minds were affected, you
know, by working in the mines, those copper mines. But they got
easy jobs as mozos [servants] and veladors [watchmen]. What they
did was to bring in the wood, keep your yard mowed, and run errands
for you, and the doctors had lots of night calls too. The velador
at night--that means night watchmanhe would meet my husband where
the cars would come in, lower down the mountainside. He would run
down and meet him with a lantern and help him walk up or carry his
little medical satchel on up the mountain.
Swent: Did you have electricity in your house?
Lane: When we first went there, no. The first year we didn't. Then they
Swent: You had water, running water?
Lane: No, we didn't. It came up on the railroad track, and all the
Mexican women, poor things, they'd come up from the caves to get
water. You know, in those great big oil cans, I guess it was, and
carry it down to the caves. And I felt so sorry for those Mexican
The Harder Life of the Mexican Women
Swent: They were living in caves?
Lane: Caves, yes. They had just dirt floors and they slept on deer hides
or goat hides on the floor. They cooked outside with stones around
and a metal sheet on top of it. My parents, my father being a
minister, my mother would send me little Sunday school cards. I
would take it to the children in the caves. They had the most
beautiful children, with their great big black eyes and brown curls
wreathing their faces. They were so cute. So my mother would send
me these Sunday school cards and I would take them down to the
children in the caves. They would say, "Oh, here comes the Senora
with the pictures of the saints." They would put them up around on
their walls, the picture of the saints.
Swent: They were happy to have something so pretty, I'm sure.
Lane: Yes, they loved them.
Swent : You learned Spanish soon then?
Lane: I learned Spanish down there, so I speak peon [peasant] Spanish. I
don't speak high Spanish. I did take one year of Spanish, or I
read from one book, took a correspondence course for a year. But
I read one book in Spanish for my final exam. But some of these
poor Mexican women came out. I remember one, she came with a flour
sack and you could see the stamp from the flour on it. The most
beautiful drawn work, and she said, "Senora, would you buy this?"
I said, "Well, it is very beautiful, Senora. What do you want
She said, "Two pesos."
I said, "It's lovely. I'll tell you what. I'll buy it from
you, but you keep it as a pattern. When I go down to Matehuala
I'll go to the Spanish import place and buy some linen. And I want
you to make me several linen ones just like it."
Swent: A tablecloth, was it?
Lane: It was awell, just a flour sack, a thirty-five-pound flour sack.
But it would do for a card table. We used to play bridge a lot up
at the mines . There were thirteen women at the smelter at
Matehuala. And there were about four of us, four or five up at the
mines. We would go down there or they would come up and we'd play
Swent: Your house was up?
Lane: On the mountainside seven miles from Matehuala. And once a week
we'd go down there, and once a week they'd come up to our place.
Swent: So she kept that as a pattern? Wasn't that kind of you!
Lane: Well, I didn't want a flour sack, but I wanted to help them. I
felt sorry for them. Those men they were bare-legged. They wore
huaraches on their feet. You know, sandals? They wore little
flour sacks around their waists with their little tortilla or
little bundle of tortillas tied up in it. I just liked them, that
Swent: The women worked awfully hard, didn't they?
Lane: They did. They would wash clothes at a stream. They used to beat
them out on rocks. We didn't have any drinking water, but they did
have some water up there. But not drinking water. It was hauled
in from Matehuala, seven miles. We would boil our water and put it
in those botellons [large pottery containers]. We had houses made
of double adobe and they were very well insulated you know. In
those deep windows we could put our botellons or our ollas [pottery
jars] and they would evaporate. It was cold from evaporation.
Swent: And the water had a wonderful flavor after you got used to it,
Lane: It did. I know. But it's a wonder we didn't get lead poisoning
from it because they put a paint or something on that clay. I've
heard later that it wasn't safe to drink.
Swent: I don't think those were painted, because they wanted them to
evaporate. So I don't think they were glazed.
Lane: I thought so too. Well, I haven't got any lead poisoning yet.
Swent: No. The dishes, some of them maybe were glazed but not--
Lane: Well, my girl cooked in them. She used to make casseroles, that
Spanish rice. She'd serve it right in the bowl with a napkin
pinned around us. Lots of things she'd cook in that, casseroles.
Swent: Did they grind corn?
Lane: Oh, yes, on a metate. I have a miniature metate. That's for
decoration- -you know, cute. Yes, my girl, she ground all of our
masa [corn meal] on that, on the stone. They were lovely
tortillas; for tamales, too.
Swent: Did you have a wood stove?
Lane: A wood stove.
Swent: Were there trees around for wood?
Lane: I don't know where they got the wood from. We didn't have any
trees that I remember around, no. I used to go horseback riding
over to a little town called La Boca. There was a monastery there.
They had a lot of grapes there, fruit there. And I'd ride
horseback a couple of miles over there. I'd get a chicken or some
grapes or food from there.
A Barbecue for Don Felipe
Lane: One time there was an old fellow, they called him the Don, Don
Felipe or something or other. He'd been in the hospital for some
time and my husband took care of him. He got well enough to go
home. The town was so delighted that he was home because he was
the most loved of all the old people of the town. And they do love
their old. They take care of them. They don't put them into
institutions. They take care of them at home, especially the Dona.
She's the wisest person in the whole family, is the Dona. They go
to her for all their advice and everything. Very much cared for.
They were so happy over his being back with them, they invited
Doctor and I to a barbecue. They made a huge pit in the ground.
They had a calf, they butchered a calf. They covered it with these
sweet chile powders. None of the terribly picoso, hot ones. They
covered it with this sweet chile powder. I think that is made from
the chile anchos or chile pasillas--that means mild chiles or wide
red chile. So they covered it with this chile powder. Wrapped it
in cactus leaves. Great big cactus leaves. The kind they make, I
guess, tequila out of.
Swent: Maybe maguey.
Lane: Maguey yes, those great big wide cactus leaves. Wrapped it in
those and put it way down in this pit and roasted it, hours and
hours. It was so tender and so good. We sat around on rocks and
so forth and ate it. Then they put corn in there, in the husks,
and potatoes. I don't remember anything except the delicious calf.
Don Anse Imo's Birthday and Social Drinking
Swent: Was there a lot of drinking? Did they drink?
Lane: Not in the daytime. They drink at night. The first night I
arrived in Matehuala it was Don Anselmo's birthday.
Swent: Who was Don Anselmo?
Lane: Well, he was an Italian that was married to a Mexican woman. But
he was foreman at the mines . And he loaned them all money when
they needed it. They were always honest with him, they liked him
so much. It was his birthday and they said that we should go and
pay respects to him because he was the most looked-up-to member of
the mining class there.
So we went there, and I was so surprised at the drinking. I
had never seen drinking before. When I married I had never seen a
glass of liquor in my life. I had never seen a deck of cards. And
I had never been to a dance and I didn't know any of that stuff.
Swent: Of course not.
Lane: Not in those theological seminaries.
Swent: Not as a Methodist minister's daughter, no.
Lane: Well, we went over there. Everybody kisses you on each cheek too.
Remember that? They always do.
Swent: That was something you hadn't grown up with either.
Lane: No! All these Mexicans kissing me on one cheek and then the other
cheek, and they were all drinking. It was a surprise. I know when
we crossed the border at Laredo and my husband said, "Well, we've
gone through the customs. Let's go up to the casino, I'll have a
drink." Well, I didn't know what he was going to drink. I
expected lemonade or something. So we went up to the casino and he
ordered a beer. I ordered a lemonade. He drank it and I told him
that's all right. Then he ordered another one. I thought, dear
God, I hope I haven't married a drunkard. Because he had two
beers, but I had never seen liquor before in my life. They were
all drinking there. Then what they have after they drink to keep
from getting sick- -they eat menudo. It's made out of tripe. I
wouldn't eat it.
Swent: Awful stuff.
Lane: I wouldn't eat it for anything.
Swent: It's considered a delicacy, though.
Lane: They like it, they like it. It's corn and tripe and I guess some
chiles in it. I don't know what all they put in it. I just know
those things .
Swent: I never learned to like that either.
Lane: Did you ever taste any?
Swent: Oh yes, yes.
Lane: You did?
Swent: I had to sometimes, but no, I never liked it.
Lane: I never would either. But they do have one thing that I really
like, and that's cajeta de membrillo [quince paste].
Cajeta de Membrillo and Other Delicacies
Swent: Oh, I do too. That is so good.
Lane: Do you know that old Simon Guggenheim used to come down on this
special train from New York. He was the head of the American
Smelting and Refining at the time. Well, he'd wire ahead to the
manager; he wanted to have four or five bricks of cajeta de
membrillo. They would serve it in little thin slices with little
thin slices of cheese as an after-dinner delicacy.
Swent: There's nothing better.
Lane: Isn't it good?
Swent: Best stuff in the world.
Lane: I just love cajeta de membrillo too. When I lived in Piedmont,
Andrea used to make me cajeta de membrillo. Yes, she used to make
Swent: Buy the quinces, and make it?
Swent: It's probably not hard to make.
Lane: Well, the Blemmers had quince trees out on Green Valley Farm. So
we got our quinces from them; we didn't have to buy them. They had
lots of fruits out there. So Andrea made lots of cajeta.
Swent: Could you get the Mexican cheese to go with it?
Swent: Although it's good with any kind of cheese.
Lane: You know what, then, we used to get the Mormon kind. They had
Mormon colonies down in Mexico.
Swent: In Chihuahua.
Lane: Yes. You go down on that railroad that leaves from El Paso. It
leads to Venegas, Chihuahua. There are Mormon colonies there.
There is a town named Colonia Dublan; Colonia Juarez. You'll be on
the train and they stop at every cow that's on the track. All you
see is cactus and prairie dogs and more cactus dogs and prairie
dogs until you go to sleep. Then all of a sudden this train stops
and you think you are in paradise nearly. Here are women running
around with little sun bonnets on and long skirts. And here's all
these two-story brick houses with wooden shutters and trees white
washed half way up and little streams of water running along the
irrigation ditches. And it's the Mormon colonies. So I learned
after I was there for a while that I could buy such wonderful
vegetables from them. Of course, you'd pay quite a price for them.
Cabbages, carrots and things like that, apples and queso Mormon
[Mormon cheese] .
Swent: What is that like?
Lane: That is cheddar cheese. American cheese, cheddar cheese. They'd
make great big round things. But they call it down there queso
Mormon, Mormon cheese, but it was cheddar cheese. Yes, we got
Swent: And this wasn't too far from you?
Lane: Yes, it was over the mountain. They had to go over a mountain to
get there. They had to pack mules, a couple days trip. So we knew
they had to charge quite a bit for them.
Swent: You said your husband liked the cheese?
Lane: Oh, he liked the cheese, the white cheese they get from up around
Matamoros. A white cream cheese the Mexicans make. Is that the
kind you said was so good?
Swent: Well, we used to just get it from the ranches, you know. In
Tayoltita they'd come in from the ranches with the white cheese.
Lane: Oh, he just lovedbut it's a goat cheese, isn't it?
Swent: Sometimes it's goat, yes.
Lane: He just loved that.
Swent: It's delicious.
Lane: I liked the Mormon cheese.
Swent: There was one that I liked that they molded in a basket. Do you
Lane : No .
Swent: It would have the wicker pattern on. It was called panela and I
Lane: What did they call it?
Swent: Panela. You could only get it about twice a year. They didn't
make it very often.
Lane: Well, he liked to get goat milk, my husband did.
Swent: Did he?
Lane: Yes. He liked goat milk and he liked goat cheese.
A Mine Doctor's Medical Practice
Swent: So what sort of hospital did he have there?
Lane: For the company.
Swent: Yes, but was it a big regular hospital?
Lane: Oh yes, it was. He had a nurse and it was a very good hospital.
Swent: He could operate and everything?
Lane: Yes, they had lots of accidents in the mine. The thing is, when
there was an accident, there were usually several hurt. It would
be a mine shaft broke or something. They had lots of surgery, yes,
I remember one little boy, he was very young, was working in the
mines. He got a head injury. He was in the hospital quite a
while. My husband got the New York paper. It was a day or two
later than the Los Angeles paper but he liked it better. So this
little boy that was working in the mines, he liked to look at the
funnies. We would always take him the funny paper. My husband
cared about his patients very, very much. He never went to bed at
night without going over and making the rounds in the hospital
before he would retire. He always took care of his patients' good.
Swent: Of course, he was on duty all the time.
Lane: He was on duty all the time. So after we were there for about two
years at Matehuala, he was transferred to the largest unit of the
American Smelting and Refining Company in Santa Barbara, Chihuahua.
They had five mines there. There was one big hospital. They had
had two doctors there. He was promised an assistant and two
nurses, American nurses. When they got there, one got married and
left, and then there was only one American nurse. The other
doctor, that hurt his feelings because he didn't get the top job,
and he quit. So that left one doctor and one American nurse. So
he was just worked to death, night and day. So he got to using
narcotics again. He lost his job.
Narcotics Use by the Doctor
Swent: These were medicines, I suppose, that were there for the patients,
but he used them?
Lane: Yes. So he went to El Paso and he talked to H.L. Carr; do you
Swent: No, I didn't know him.
Lane: He was the head of the American Smelting and Refining Company in El
Paso. He gave him another chance down at Los Charcos. That was
still in the state of San Luis Potosi, close to where we had been
before, within driving distance of where we'd been at Matehuala.
Lane: Then he begged for me to cut him down [on his drug habit]. He
wanted to quit.
Swent: Was he doing injections?
Lane: Yes. He begged me to help him get off of it. So I would, and then
he'd be up all night long prowling looking for it. I used to stick
it in my pillow slip under my head. He found out where it was and
he could gently lift my head. I'm a sound sleeper. He would
gently lift my head and he would take some. I could tell how many
grams there were, that it was gone. So I got to hiding it. I dug
a stone out of our stone wall and I hid it back in there behind the
stones in the stone wall, that he wouldn't find it out there. He'd
end up all night long and prowl looking for it. He'd look in the
bottom of the rolled oats package and all night long. One night he
dropped a clock, an alarm clock, on the floor. I said, "Well, what
were you doing with that alarm clock?" He couldn't find anything
in that surely, and it went off, scared me to death.
Swent: He was looking in the clock?
Lane: He must have been. He'd look in the rolled oats boxes and things
like that on the top shelves, you know, in the cupboard. Looking
for it, he would dump it all out, see if it was in the bottom, if I
had hid it in a little package in the bottom. He was just looking
all night long for it, pacing the floor looking for it.
Swent: He must have been miserable.
Lane: He was cutting down, less and less every day. I was lonesome at
Swent: I would think this would be terrible for you.
Lane: I was very lonesome at times. I wanted a baby. He said, "I don't
want you to have one as long as I am using this. It wouldn't be
normal." So I was very anxious for him to cut it down, get off it.
Just as soon as I would get him off of it for two or three months ,
the devil would come around the corner and offer it to him. One
time he'd been getting into the little Mexican botica, you know,
the little Mexican drugstore. They had got out so he was without
it. He had been off of it for several weeks and here came the man
that owned the drugstore. He sat up on a beautiful white horse,
bringing him some. I just cried over that. Another time I had him
off of it for several months and another doctor, an American
doctor, was quitting his practice in Mexico, going back to the
States . He thought maybe he would like to buy some of his
medicines and instruments and things. You know, he wanted to sell
them to get rid of them. So my husband bought everything he had,
and among it was some narcotics. So he was back on it again. I
found it in his raincoat pocket. I took half of it away and hid
it. That's when I hid it in the stone wall. Well, it just went on
Swent: Did he get angry with you?
Lane: Oh no, he didn't get angry with me.
Swent: He wanted you to help him.
Lane: Help him get off of it. He wanted me to help him, and yet he would
steal it from me. He'd beg me to help him get off it and then he'd
look all night for it and lift my head off the pillow and swipe
part of it. It was a terrible battle. A terrible battle.
One night --by that time we had power up at Matehuala at the
mines. They were called the Dolores mines, Matehuala. One night
our power went off. The first year I told you we had coal oil
lamps. The next year we had electricity.
The power went off. He was very sick. You could see him
suffering, I felt so sorry for him. He would filter his hypodermic
syringe with solutions through cotton filter. The spoon, he would
boil the spoon. You know, boil it and filter it through there so
it was filtered. He had a bunch of little cotton wads. So he was
in terrible convulsions one night. The bed was just shaking with
it. But he was vomiting and so forth.
I went in there and I boiled up all those little cotton wads
that were there. I prayed and prayed, and I said, "Oh, dear God,
let this be the last dose he ever has to have. Please help me
God." I've got to tell you about that.
So the next day, the manager from the mine came down and said,
"Doctor, we had doctors here in the past that we couldn't trust
with the narcotics here. So I kept the narcotics up at my house.
My little boy, a four-year-old, climbed up and got into the
medicine cabinet the other day and I don't want to have the
responsibility of this morphine up there any longer. So I am
bringing it down to you." Oh, and I just cried and cried.
So I went up the hill to the manager's house. The manager's
wife was so good to me. She was forty- five and I was only
nineteen. Her husband wasn't home yet, and I sat there. I got a
few pictures from home and I showed them to her, of my mother and
father. I cried and Mr. Reyer wasn't home yet. So she thought it
was just a little spat or something we had because I sat there
until it got to supper time. And I kept sitting there crying and
Mr. Reyer came home and it was getting dark. So they asked me
to eat supper and I did. Sat up there and ate a bite or two and I
couldn't get the courage to tell them not to bring the narcotics.
I can't betray my husband. I can't do that.
Swent : No .
Lane: That's between husband and wife. I can never betray my husband.
Then I thought, to save him I've got to tell Mr. Reyer not to bring
those narcotics down. So it began to get dark and Mr. Reyer
thought he should walk down the mountainside with me to take me
home. So there was a great big rock there and we sat on that rock.
You could sit there. The beggars used to sit there when it was
payday for their little remembrance. They would sit there. And I
sat on that rock and he sat down too. And I was sitting there just
crying and crying. It was in April again; we had been married a
year. He said, "Only at this time of year can you see the Southern
Cross and the Northern Star at the same time." So he was showing
me where they were. I couldn't tell him. I just couldn't tell
him, and I didn't tell him.
Swent: You never did?
Lane: I never did. I couldn't betray him. I couldn't betray him. So I
just went ahead year after year of that.
Swent: And nobody else ever knew?
Lane: Yes, they did finally. Then he lost his job. Mr. Carr in El Paso
gave him another chance. Sent us down to Los Charcos and they
found out there that he was using it. I think we went from Los
Charcos over to Tayoltita, Durango.
Swent: Where was Los Charcos?
Lane: In San Luis Potosi; it was at least a hundred miles from Matehuala
where we had lived.
Swent: That was quite a come-down from Santa Barbara, I imagine.
Lane: Oh, yes, because Santa Barbarathere were some enormous mines
there. At Santa Barbara, Chihuahua, there were enormousthere
were five mines there.
Swent: And a beautiful camp.
Lane: Yes, oh, there were twenty-five or thirty women there at that
Swent: You must have enjoyed that?
Lane: Yes, I did.
Swent: Although you were not having a happy time.
Lane: Well, it was happy and unhappy too. We were just a few miles from
Parral. You know where Parral is?
Lane: And Torreon wasn't far from there.
Swent: A lot of social life?
Lane: Yes, lots of dances and movies. My husband was always trying to
throw me some of the very nicest of the engineers there. He would
always insist he would be so busy at the hospital, not having
another assistant position. We'd go to a movie and he would go to
some fellow that he liked real well--a good clean fellow, you know,
a nice engineerhe'd go to him and he'd say, "I'm being called
over to the hospital; will you see that Mrs. Judd gets home all
right?" So he was always looking out for me.
Swent: He wasn't a jealous man.
Lane: Never jealous, no. He wasn't jealous at all. He was very, very
good. We had one certain man that he used to always be inviting.
His name was Calhoun. He married a girl from the mines up at
Jerome. The superintendent's wife at the state hospital and the
school teacher were very good friends. The girl he married and the
superintendent's wife used to come and see me in the hospital when
I was out at the state hospital. Well, anyhow, it went on and on.
Swent: How did you get to these other places? By train?
Lane: Well, sure, we went to Santa Barbara by train. And from Santa
Barbara, Chihuahua, we went by train down to Los Charcos.
Swent: You said you had ridden horses.
Lane: Oh, that was just for a little ride.
Swent: That was for fun.
Lane: Yes, that was for fun.
III SAN LUIS MINING COMPANY, TAYOLTITA, DURANGO, MEXICO 1
Riding Ninety Miles on Muleback
Swent: So Tayoltita was your first experience with a mule.
Lane: Well, they were more sure-footed. That's why we rode a mule.
There were lots of little tunnels we went through around those
mountain curves .
Swent: So tell about when you first went to Tayoltita. That must have
been a shock.
Lane: Was it ever!
Swent: How did you get to Mazatlan?
Lane: You go down ninety miles on muleback.
Swent: I mean when you first went there to live. Did you go from Los
Charcos over to Mazatlan?
Lane: Well, we went from Los Charcos up across the United States to go
across to Nogales. Then from Nogales we went down by train to
Estacion Dimas and from there by muleback, ninety miles up to
Swent: And did you know this was ahead of you when you went there?
Lane: No, I didn't know. I didn't know. I had no idea.
'For more on this subject, see Langan Swent, Working for Safety and
Health in Underground Mines; San Luis and Homestake Mining Companies, 1946-
1988, Regional Oral History Office, University of California, Berkeley,
We got off the train at Estacion Dimas. You've been there, haven't
Swent: Oh, yes.
Lane: It was a dusty town. Dust that deep. Got off the train there and
they were waiting for us, pack mules. We got on a mule and loaded
our luggage on another mule. They had beds, cots, on a mule with
that mosquito netting that they hung from trees .
Swent: How did they do that?
Lane: They had a rope that they'd bend it, tie it on one tree through
this round loop that had all this mosquito netting gathered around
it over to another bed and on over to a tree. You know what? The
pigs would get up under the cots at night.
Swent: Oh, no!
Lane: Yes. The ranch was along there. Their pigs would get under the
cots sometimes. Then we would eat at these little ranch houses
along the way. They had the funniest thing. They had a long wood
thing and it would have beads hanging from it . And a little boy or
a little girl behind would pull on it and it would go back and
forth like a fan, to keep the flies off of the food. Did you ever
see one of those?
Swent: No. A wooden thing with beads?
Lane: A long wooden stick like this and it would hang. In some places it
was just paper hanging from it. In some places it was beads
hanging from it . A little child behind you would be pulling a cord
and this would go back and forth to keep the flies from the food.
Swent: On the table, oh my.
Lane: And they had carbide lights. In these little houses they had
You would have to get up early in the morning to make a start.
You would have breakfast. I never saw a knife and fork. It was
always spoons. You ate with spoons. And you stopped at these
ranch houses along the way and they would come out with a gourd.
You would drink with a gourd dipper.
Swent: What did you wear?
Lane: I wore a riding habit.
Swent: Did you?
Lane: I bought boots. Well, later on, I had boots made at Mazatlan, nice
boots made. Riding habit.
Lane: Jodhpurs in those days, I think it was.
Swent: What kind of hat?
Lane: Just a little old felt hat. Little felt hat turned up around. Do
you know what I put on my face to keep from getting it all red and
blistered? I put zinc oxide, and my skin never tanned or blistered
under it. It was just a heavy coat of zinc oxide.
Swent: The doctor could get that for you?
Lane: My husband, yes.
Swent: You have beautiful skin.
Lane: I used to have beautiful teeth. I've got all my teeth.
Swent: You still do.
Lane: Well, no, I've worn them all clear down.
Swent: But you don't have false teeth.
Lane: No, I don't have false teeth. I have all my teeth except one.
I've only had one tooth pulled.
Swent: You ate tortillas for a few years; that was good for you.
Lane: Was it really?
Swent: They are supposed to be very good. They have calcium.
Do you know that I like the corn tortillas so much better than
those flour tortillas? I don't like those flour ones.
And the corn ones have calcium in them. So they are very good for
I just love them. I just love them. Buttered tortillas.
There's nothing better.
Listen, Mr. Swent 's father owned Golden State Butter at one time.
Did you know that?
Yes, he was one of the owners.
Well, yes, of Golden State Butter. It was about twenty-five cents
a pound in the United States. Those tins of butter were two
dollars American money. Two dollars
But you could get them in Mexico?
They shipped them down. We got big shipments and things. All of
our Grape Nuts came in a tin container. Looked just like the paper
containers. Hams came sealed in tin. Grape Nuts came, Rolled Oats
came in tin. Cigarettes came in tin. All that came in there.
What about coffee?
No, we used Mexican coffee. We used that little caracolillo, which
is the most delicious coffee on earth. A big coffee man--his
father was a coffee importer- -they used that caracolillo coffee to
blend with other coffees because it was so delicious.
The girls used to roast it in the oven a kilo at a time.
That's two and a tenth pounds, isn't it? And they would roast it
in the pan and just before they would take it out of the oventhey
watched it very closelyjust before they take it out they sprinkle
brown sugar over the top and that would bubble and caramelize. Oh,
it was good.
It smelled wonderful.
Caracolillo, that little small coffee,
Did you ever drink any of
We did it too. We made it the same way. My mother-in-law told me
to test it with a cinnamon stick, for the color. When it was the
color of the cinnamon stick, then it was roasted to the right
color. We didn't roast it as black.
Lane: Roast it very slowly. I don't know how my girl did it. My girl
used to make the most wonderful Parker House rolls . They were so
good! She would roll it over a little speck of butter over the top
there. Then 1 kept it like a little opening there. You could fold
it back. They put eggs in those, to make them fluffy.
Swent: Did you have trouble getting eggs?
Lane: No, never. We had lots of bananas there too. I used to walk along
the trench where the cyanide went down. God help anybody who fell
in that cyanide. It would have killed them right now. They would
have soaked it in their skin. Did you know they got their rocks
from Denmark, that they ground that ore with? It was great big
hard, black rocks. I said, my goodness, why did they get rocks
from Denmark when there are so many rocks here in Mexico? They
said it is the hardest rock there is. They used it as ballast, on
their ships as ballast. They didn't ship it in on purpose but they
used it as ballast from Norway, and they used that to grind the
ore. They used other rock then going back.
A Nice Home Above the Hospital 1
Swent: And your house you said was upstairs over the hospital?
Lane: Above the hospital. There was a beautiful, big patio in it. You
never saw it?
Swent: Well, I think it was the same one that was still there when we were
there. Nobody lived there though.
Lane: There was a beautiful patio in the center. This patio went clear
on upstairs. There was a balcony around up there. There was the
most beautiful, big bougainvillea vine you ever saw. It had a
trunk about that big around. It spread all over the back terrace.
I used to look down there through the bougainvillea to see how many
more patients the doctor had before he came upstairs.
Swent: As I remember, wasn't there a little arroyo, a little stream, by
'For a later recollection of Tayoltita, see Helen R. Henshaw,
Recollections of Life with Paul Henshaw: Latin America, Homestake Mining
Company, Regional Oral History Office, University of California, Berkeley,
Lane: I think there was out back. There were wings that went out [from
the building] . One day I was looking down and I saw a big iguana
on the roof. It was out there with its mouth open to catch bugs.
I thought, that great big iguana. They are harmless. Gila
monsters are very poisonous, but iguanas wouldn't hurt anybody.
Swent: They are supposed to be good luck.
Lane: Lizards and iguanas are all right. I saw this great big--and I
thought, That poor animal isn't getting enough meat, [laughter] So
I took some meat from the dining room, some roast beef. I climbed
up on a ladder and was throwing little shreds of beef to this
iguana. My husband looked out and he saw a pair of legs on the
ladder there. He came out from one of the wings. He came out and
said, "What in the world are you doing up on that ladder?" I said,
"I am feeding this iguana, it doesn't get enough to eat."
He said, "You will kill it; it gets enough bugs."
They had handmade tile there. They made it by hand. One
would arch this way and then it would arch that way. Then another
would arch this way. They were good, beautiful roofs. We didn't
have any glass windows. We just had shutters. It never got cold
enough that you had to have glass windows. You just close the
shutters. The only day I had to have any heat, I brought up a lamp
from downstairs. I brought up a heat lamp. That is the only heat
I ever had. I think one day.
Swent: You had electricity there, in your house?
Lane: Yes. We had electricity.
Swent: But not a lot of it.
Lane: No. Evelyn [Morel] lost a baby. One day they brought her down--I
think they brought her by cable too, from up the mine. She had
gone into labor and she lost the baby. She was in the hospital
Swent: You said you did too.
Lane: Yes, I did.
Swent: In Tayoltita?
Lane: No, not at Tayoltita. I was in Matehuala.
Swent: You said they had cows at Tayoltita, for milk?
Lane: Yes, they had cows for it. They had strawberries. They used to
have a Chinaman who made the most beautiful cream puffs, with
whipped cream and strawberries. We had lots of milk. I had lots
of milk there. Mr. Swent saw that I had milk every day like the
children did. They had at least three cows. They were tested.
They said that the cows down there got some kind of disease in
their liver. So he had about three tested cows. We had oodles of
milk then. I got milk every day just like the children did,
because 1 was just home from the T.B. sanitarium.
Eighteen Months in a Sanitarium for Tuberculosis
Swent: Oh, it was T.B. that you had.
Lane: Yes, that's why I have so much trouble with my lungs now. I was
eighteen months in the T.B. sanitarium.
Swent: Where was that?
Lane: I was at a sanitarium at El Paso I was there too one time.
[correcting herself] I was in Pasadena. Up above Pasadena up at La
Swent: You went there from Mexico, did you?
Lane: Yes. When my husband lost his job at Los Charcos we went over to
his sister's first. I broke down with T.B. I went to this
sanitarium, La Vina Sanitarium, up above Pasadena. It was a very
good sanitarium. Oh, it was wonderful. They took nobody over
twenty-five years of age. Only as an experiment; they took
children. It was endowed by Doheny. He was the man in the Tea Pot
Dome scandal. You hear bad about him, but he did lots of good in
the world too.
They had a school there for the children. They had one whole
wing there that was nothing but little children. They had a school
teacher for them. They had the very, very best of care. They took
the children out on bird walks, the teacher did, to teach them the
different birds. I remember one little girl, her name was Sylvia.
I was in the infirmary at that time. I heard these little children
talking. Somebody said, "Sylvia, you've got roses in your cheeks."
She said, "Yes, I know. I always did have and I always will."
I thought, you dear little thing, I hope you always will.
Doheny did lots of good work in the world. All those little
children were taken care of whether they had money or didn't have
money. You paid just as much as you could there. My husband had
lost his job and didn't have enough money.
I worked in the Broadway department store as an interpreter at
that time, in Los Angeles. I would catch the streetcar and go back
out to Santa Monica. His sister taught in the high school there.
She taught history. First she lived on Wilshire. Then she got
such a wonderful offer on a property she moved up to 17th Street.
I would come back home at night after racing all over the store all
day. I worked up in the jewelry marking- -where they marked furs
and jewelry. The telephone would ring, aisle so-and-so, department
so-and-so, aisle so-and-so. I would have to hurry and get there
before this Mexican got away. I would have to go by elevator or
escalator or stairs, whichever way I could get there the quickest--
to try to interpret. I would just run all day long. Then I would
mark a few more jewels or a few more furs. Aisle so-and-so,
department so-and-so; away I would run. I ran all day long.
Then I would get on the electric [train] going back to Santa
Monica. That cold ocean breeze would strike me. I thought I had
just caught a terrible cold. I was coughing terribly and
expectorating. I went to a doctor and he said, "You have
tuberculosis . "
I didn't know what to do. We didn't have much money. My
husband got a job temporarily under an assumed name, not as a
doctor, as an orderly. He spent everything he had on me. The
first thing he bought me was a clock. I cried because he said, "I
know what time means to you lying in the sanitarium." My first
thing I wanted to use was this clock. Then I got better.
Swent: You had to be there in bed.
Lane: Yes. We were allowed up after breakfast. We could be up for a
short time. I forget whether it was an hour or half an hour. Then
we would have to lie down before lunch. We had to go to bed
immediately after lunch for two hours, take our siesta. At night
we had to lie down, then we could get up for a little while.
It was the most beautiful view of Los Angeles in Pasadena up
there on the mountain. I always said in my heart how grateful I
was to Doheny. My husband, I think, paid sixty dollars a month for
me, that was all. They took such good care. They took nobody over
twenty- five. They had a school teacher there, a young school
teacher. They had a young telephone operator. A young mother, she
was just very young. The doctor there would give us lectures on
how to take care of ourselves .
Lane: They wouldn't allow us to have any acid-forming foods. We had
beans only once a month.
Lane: Once a month we would have beans. It forms an acid ash in your
system. I love beans, I had eaten so many of them in Mexico. We
had beans, always on the back of the stove.
I felt sorry for the veladors at night. Up in the mountains
it got cold at night. We had a fireplace in our home. One place
we had two fireplaces. It was a double one. It came out in the
living room and it came out in the dining room too. It was so
We always had a pot of beans on the back of the stove. And
the velador at night--! would say, "Listen, when you're not busy
racing around nights as a watchman, come in and warm your tortillas
on the stove. And there's always beans there for you. If you've
got time sometime, maybe you could crack a few nuts, pecans, for
the girl so she can make some cookies." He would. He would crack
a few. He liked to be in the warm kitchen. I thought he could
eat, heat his coffee and heat his tortillas, there's beans always
there. He was so polite we called him- -now who was that real
polite Englishman? Lord Somebody. Who was it who threw his coat
down for somebody walking by?
Swent: Sir Walter Raleigh?
Lane: I guess that was it. We didn't want the girls to know we were
talking about him. We would say he was that very polite
Englishman--! guess that was who it was, Sir Walter Raleigh, I
guess it was. [laughing]
One beautiful thing they used to do in Mexico- -the mariachis
would come around at night. There would be two or three of them.
They would stand outside your gate and they would play some Mexican
Swent: This must have been at Santa Barbara?
Lane: Yes. They would come outside your gate. They would sing and play
their violin or guitarguitar it was. There might be an
accordion, I can't remember that. I know a guitar they played.
They would sing these Mexican songs, "Mi Rancho Grande," and sing.
If you wanted them to sing more you would send out several pesos
and tell them what songs you wanted. They would sing them for you
and tell them what songs you wanted. They would sing them for you
and you would accept gracias [thanks] for the pesos. If you were
in a hurry and didn't want any more you would just send them out
each a drink. [laughing]
Like here, if you have your cup turned up, if it is upside
down that means you don't want coffee. But if you want coffee you
have it right side up. If you want tea, you turn it on the side.
So we have little signs here in this retirement place.
So they cured you at Doheny's place then.
Yes, they did. It was called La Vina [meaning vineyard]
Sanitarium. When you hear people knocking Doheny or President
Harding, just remember there was good in all of them. The Teapot
Dome scandal--it really shook the country for a while, but there
was good in all of them.
Yes, it helped you.
Certainly did. They collapsed my lung. My husband was still
giving me pneumotherapy when we lived at Tayoltita. He gave it to
me, continued with it. Then I went out to the sanitarium. I was
not there eighteen months straight. I was there for a while. The
night my husband got his job at Tayoltita, got the wire, he came
down to see me. I had a hemorrhage that night. I was all packed
in ice. They were feeding me ice. I said, "Take me with you."
He said "Sweetheart, I can't take you with me.
Not in this
I said, "If you go back down there alone you will go back on
He said, "I won't; I will never go back on narcotics again."
He did, he couldn't help it. We left there after the
Are you getting tired?
I want you to tell me more about Tayoltita. Do you remember Don
Manuel Bastidas? Was he the one who had the ranch?
I think it was was that who it was?
Wasn't it the Bastidas ranch where you used to stop?
Swent: I think so.
Lane: Didn't we stop at a place called de Laviaga?
Swent: Maybe Laviaga.
Lane: Did we stop there?
Swent: I don't know.
Lane: Didn't they finally move to Orinda, California?
Swent: There are some de Laviagas around there.
Lane: During the revolution; I have to tell you that. Whew, that was
scary! Oh, that was scary, I'm telling you.
Frightening Times During the Revolution
Swent: You mentioned Calles; was he the president?
Lane: No, not yet. He was general of the Federales.
Swent: In Sinaloa.
Lane: Yes. General Calles of the Federales. De Laviaga, I thought it
was de Laviaga that came into the mines and demanded money from Mr.
Swent, and he said no.
Swent: I think Laviaga came over from San Dimas.
Lane: Wasn't he a rebel at that time?
Swent: I think he claimed- -they called him the general or a colonel or
Lane: He was supposed to be with Calles but he wasn't. They came into
the mines and they demanded a big sum of money from Mr. Swent. He
said, "No. I won't give you a penny."
Swent: This is in Tayoltita?
Lane: That's in Tayoltita. He said, "Listen, if your men--" I don't
know how they got in there. Here they came charging in, scared me
to death. The doctor was upstairs, sick as a dog. He was off of
narcotics. He had an abdominal abscess. He had to have an
operation. He was delirious. The rebels came into the hospital
and said they wanted to be taken care of. I said the doctor was
sick, "Esta enfermo."
They said [in a scream], "Que le hace! You take care of them
then; what difference does it make."
I ran upstairs and said, "Do you know, the army is in here,
and they have some wounded. They want you to take care of them."
He put on his bathrobe and he came down. He did the best that he
could do. They were coming in there. They took every good thing
we had in the commissary. They took every bit of canned goods.
They took all the woolen blankets. I can remember them going up
the little road past the hospital to the open-air theater. Have
you ever been to that open-air theater?
Swent: Oh, my, yes.
Lane: Oh, that's wonderful. Right next to the hospital, between the
hospital and the office.
Swent: Where was the commissary?
Lane: Down the road just a little way from the hospital, farther on down.
They took every bit of canned goods we had. They took all the wool
blankets. I can remember those armloads of wool blankets going up
there, not that we would want them. We did want the canned goods.
They took all of it. Then they demanded money from Mr. Swent. He
Jay Swent Strikes a Bargain with the Rebels
Swent: They were camping in the cine [theater]?
Lane: That's where they camped. They had their barracks there. So Mr.
Swent said, "No. I will tell you though, what we will do. We will
give each of your men three pesos a day if they want to stay here
and guard the mines from other rebels coming in. If one bunch of
you come in and ask for money, then another bunch will come in,
then another bunch. We will pay your men if they will stay here
during this revolution. We will pay them to guard the mines."
Swent: When was this, Marian? Can you figure out what year it was?
Lane: I wish I could.
Swent: I'm trying to think. You were married in 1924. You lived for a
couple of years in Matehuala.
Lane: Matehuala, then Santa Barbara, then in Los Charcos. Then I went
out to the States and was in the sanitarium.
Swent: It must have been the late twenties. Calles was president-
Lane: Well, he became president later.
Swent: He was president from 1924 to 1928, I think.
Lane: It was before he became president.
Swent: Maybe after.
Good Things Done by President Calles
Lane: The Mexican people never appreciated what Calles did for them,
really. He hated us Americans. He didn't like us. But there is a
little bit of good in everybody. He made the companies have
schools for the children. That's what I was for. All those
American Smelting and Refining Company [camps] had to have a school
for the children. That's what I liked, because I loved those
Swent: Calles was elected in 1924. There might have been a different
Lane: Oh no, it was the same man, I know. I will tell you more about
Swent: But Calles--even after he was no longer president--! think he still
had a lot of power. He was really running the country for a long
Lane: He got milk for the school children too. There were great signs in
Mexico City and all around about the free milk for all the
children. It was free milk, too.
Swent: Interesting, Doheny was one of the Calles supporters. Doheny got
involved in Mexican politics at the time.
Lane: I'll tell you one that was, Colonel Villalobos. He was Lupe
Velez's father, the movie actress. He was with Calles. He was
right there in the hotel with him. I used to see him every night.
Swent: What was his name, Villalobos?
Lane: Colonel Villalobos. Mr. Swent, Mrs. Swent, and Evelyn and I, we
ate at the table together. Villalobos was a little colonel. Very
dapper little fellow. He would come over to the table and say,
"You know my daughter, Lupe?" Lupe Velez was his daughter. She
was the movie actress, that little spitfire. She was very popular.
He was so proud of her. She committed suicide later over that
Johnny Weismuller, that Tarzan of the Apes. She was in love with
I'm glad he [her father] was dead by that time because he
loved her so much his heart everybody he saw he would go and tell
that she was his daughter. He would come around and he would ask
me or Mrs. Swent what song we would like. I didn't know about a
song. I would get kind of embarrassed and I would say
"Estrellita, " little star. Their songs are so amorous. Well, the
"Golondrina, " that's a going-home song. It's beautiful. My
husband liked it so much. Manciones de-mansions ofcelestial
paradise, manciones de amores, that was such a beautiful song.
"Cielito Lindo," it was lovely too. "Cielito Lindo" and "La
Paloma," "La Paloma de lindos colores" isn't it, of many colors.
Swent: You are better than I am at remembering all those words, Marian.
Lane: I remember one, "Cuatro Milpas," "My little Four-Acre Ranch."
[sings a passage in Spanish] "Ya no hay palomas" it 's all gone
Swent: Did they sing one called "Dos Arbolitos?" About the two trees?
Lane: No, tell me that one.
Swent: I can't remember all the words. It's a very sentimental song about
the two trees, the two lovers. They grow old together. I think
that's an old, old song, "Dos Arbolitos. "
Lane: Two mountains to go over and then two trees. Those little sisters
sang that sometimes.
Swent: So you loved the Mexican music?
Lane: Dos Robles, two oak trees. Robles are oak trees. Two hills and
two trees. I remember that one.
Swent: When you were in Tayoltita, Evelyn Morel was there, and Ursula
Swent. Who were some of the other women?
Lane: Mrs. Wilcox and Mrs. Cushman. Then there was a redheaded one, I
forget her name.
Swent: The pilot's wife?
Lane: Pilot? No, no, there was no pilot there.
Leisurely Days in Tayoltita
Swent: No, there was no pilot yet. Later there was one that had a
redheaded wife. What did you do? What did the women do? Did you
play cards or embroider?
Lane: I had to lay down in bed most of the time. I could take a swim in
the afternoon. I would lie in the hammock before dinner. Then I
would go and eat; we all ate at the main table. That Chinaman was
such a good cook. I ate such good things. That Chinaman cooked
such delicious, I told you, creampuffs.
Swent: You must have been worried about your health and your husband's.
Lane: Yes. Mr. Swent knew that I had tuberculosis and that I had to rest
in the afternoon. The maids at the hospital were furnished by the
company, of course. I wasn't able to keep house.
Swent: Did your husband recover from his abscess?
Lane: Yes, I have to tell you about that. These rebels came in and
demanded money. They took it away from the Chinaman who had a
little store downtown. They paid them what they called a voucher- -
that they would pay for it later. They didn't like those vouchers.
[exits to return with oxygen] .
My husband told her that I was sick and couldn't eat much.
She made me the most delicious soup
Swent: Mrs. Swent did?
Lane: out of fresh tomatoes. Did you ever taste fresh tomatoes made
into a soup? A cold soup. There were no seeds in it. It was
strained. The juice and pulp run through it, a strainer. It was
so good. It was just the thing I needed. I couldn't eat much, but
she fixed that, or her girl did. They had green, black, and white
in their dining room. Do you remember that?
Swent: Yes, I remember the green tile. Their place really wasn't
furnished very much when I saw it. It was kind of empty. There
was a beautiful bougainvillea there.
Lane: There was one in the hospital too. It was so beautiful. Do you
know what I used to do? I got a little Mexican boy to catch me
parakeets, wild ones. I would give him fifty cents apiece, fifty
centavos. They would catch me a little parakeet. I had three of
them. I had promised friends in the United States that I would
bring them a monkey or a parrot. My husband wouldn't let me near a
monkey. He said they were dirty little animals.
Swent: I don't think there were any around there, were there?
Lane: I don't know. There were some birds of paradise, though, in the
jungle. There were real orchids growing, too, on scrub oak down
there. They caught me one pair [of parakeets]. I couldn't teach
them anything. My bed was out on the porch and I had my parakeets
out there. They would talk to the ones in the tree. Just screech
to each other. The doctor would come upstairs to untie his shoe
strings. They would peck at the little round holes in his shoes.
They would get his shoe strings untied. That's about as much sense
they ever had.
Some Mexican made me three or four birdcages out of reeds .
When I came out to the United States, Mrs. Swent, and Langan,
Jimmy, and Evelyn and I came out together. Mr. Swent came later,
about three days later.
Swent: Your husband didn't come with you?
Lane: No, not then. We came out on the second boat.
Swent: You had to come out from the mines because of the bandits, didn't
Lane: Not then. We went back in after the revolution was over. These
bandits came in and demanded money. Mr. Swent gave them three
pesos a day to stay to keep others from--I think his name was de
Laviaga. I think that was his name. I think they are settled over
around Orinda, near Oakland. Calles ordered him executed. Mr.
Swent saved his life.
Swent: Tell me about that.
Lane: He didn't tell you about that? He went up there to Calles and said
that he was guarding the mines and spared his life. His wife had
pled for his life and he turned her down- -Calles did. Mr. Swent
saved his life.
Swent: Where did he go, to Mexico?
Lane: Mr. Swent went up- -what is the capital of --it's just north of
Swent : Culiacan?
Lane: Culiacan, that's where he went. That's where Calles went. Then he
came back down to Mazatlan. He didn't come out with Ursula,
Langan, Jimmy, Evelyn, and I. I was on a horse then. Why would I
be on a horse? I was. We got to a sandy basin. When the horse
struck the sand down by the stream, it threw me off over his head
and he stepped over me.
Swent: I remember his telling about your going down the river that time.
I thought his father sent you out because of the bandits?
Lane: They did but it was after. We couldn't get out before. Mrs.
Wilcox went out before we did. She caught the first boat out of
Mazatlan that stopped. There were no boats stopped. I went out
with my husband on a stretcher. There were I don't know how many
Mexicans. They carried him on a pole on a stretcher.
Evacuating the Doctor on a Stretcher
Swent: This was later?
Lane: No, this was when he had his operation. They came into the
hospital and demanded medical attention. He was delirious, getting
delirious. He couldn't take care of them. Mr. Swent had us go out
a day after the bandits arrived. We carried my husband. 1 rode
one mule. They had mine and my husband's beds on another mule and
some luggage on another one. A runner went ahead and told these
farm houses to have food for at least sixteen people. They had to
change shifts carryingtheir shoulders got sore carrying my
husband on their shoulder. He had gained a lot of weight and was
heavy. They carried them on their shoulder and they changed shifts
because their shoulders were getting raw. It took four at a time,
there would have been eight at least with them.
Swent: That took several days.
Lane: There must have been sixteen Mexican men. We were crawling through
all of those trenches. There were bloody hats in the bushes,
garments in the bushes, bloody things. I had Just one thing--! had
to get my husband out--
Swent: You mean from the bandits?
Lane: From the bandits. They had a battle there. I missed three
battles, each by one day. When we got to Estacion Dimas they
wouldn't let us on the train.
Swent: That must have been several days getting down there.
Lane: Three. We would go early in the morning. We would rest during the
heat of the day. Then we would start again in the evening. When
we got to Estacion Dimas they said no, it was confiscated for
military purposes alone. There were soldiers all in the boxcars.
Soldiers on top of the boxcars . I went around like a chicken with
her head chopped off looking for a truck.
I got an old rattle-trap truck and drove from Estacion Dimas
down to Mazatlan. It is sort of a peninsula, you know. We were
stopped as we went into the city by bayoneted soldiers. Scared me
to death. They had knives on the ends of their guns. They stopped
us to search us for firearms. They had a terrible battle there the
night before. Calles took the city, Mazatlan. The rebels went out
in three little boats into the bay. You could see them from Olas
Altas [Avenue] that runs past the Belmar Hotel. They went out to
I went to the hospital first thing. Dr. Chapman was the
doctor. He was a blond doctor married to a Mexican girl. They had
three children and all three of their children were blonds. I
remember that because usually the brunettes predominate. They were
all blonds like him, three little girls.
I was so tired from that trip in and out, weaving in and out
with him. He was delirious. He ran across the field once. I had
to go after him. I was so tired I just took off my boots and went
to bed with my clothes on. And here came Billy Blocker; did you
ever hear of him? He was the American consul at Mazatlan. Here he
came. His vice consul was this Raul Castro who was later governor
of Arizona. Anyhow, Billy Blocker came. He had got one telegram
from Washington, D.C., and two from Ambassador Morrow. Ambassador
Morrow was Anne Lindbergh's father.
Swent: Yes; he was in Mexico City.
Lane: Mexico City. He was a very fine man. Anne Lindbergh and her
sister taught the Mexicans. There was a school there. They were
very much loved by the Mexican people because they were teaching
them school. There is a song about Lindbergh when he said, "I will
go down to Mexico. That was plucky Lindy's lucky day." [sings]
Did you ever hear that?
Swent: I don't think so.
Lane: I used to hear it in Spanish. Even the Mexicans used to sing that
when he would say I'll go down to Mexico. That was plucky Lindy's
Lane: They got in touch with Washington, D.C. Ambassador Morrow got a
telegram. He said to them, "I'll have to go to Blocker."
Swent: This was from your family in the States that were worried about
Lane: Yes. You looked at a picture here a few minutes before of a little
girl? That was when she was very little. After she was grown she
married an army man, a doctor. He was with Pershing down there
chasing Pancho Villa. They lived in Laredo but he was with
Pershing chasing Pancho Villa. Well, that's another story. That
was earlier than this last revolution. She and I used to talk a
lot. Anyhow, she was the one that got in touch with Washington
trying to look me up because she could picture somebody like Pancho
Villa. She lived in Laredo at the time her husband was with
Pershing. We stayed at the hospital for a few days. Then we went
to the Belmar Hotel.
Swent: Did they operate on your husband?
Lane: Yes, they operated on him. He had an abdominal abscess. His
temperature was very high. I thought he was going to die on that
trip. Mr. Swent got all that ready for us to go out. So I liked
Mr. Swent very much.
One time there in Piedmont, I went over to tell Mr. Swent ' s
cook--her son was driving temporarily for Mrs. Nicholsthat she
wanted him earlier or later or something. I went over there with a
message about her son. I had Nicky with me, that little brown dog.
He saw that stairway and up the stairs he went. They had an
elevator in their house in Piedmont. He went up the stairs to Mr.
Swent 's bedroom. Mr. Swent said, "You are a cute little dog.
Where did you come from?" Down the stairs he came again. How he
knew there was somebody up there I don't know. But he went up
there to Mr. Swent's room.
Swent: You were telling about the telegrams from Morrow and Mr. Blocker.
Lane: He wanted to see that I was all right. The railroad bridges were
blown up between Mazatlan and the United States. The only way you
could get around was from Mazatlan down to Mexico City, and up the
other line, up through the eastern part of Mexico.
Swent: You must have come out to the States by boat then when you came?
Did you come on the Grace Line?
Lane: We came out on the Panama mailboat. That's when Jimmy's hat blew
off into the ocean. Lang and Mr. Swent joined us in Mazatlan after
he pled for de Laviaga's life. He got his life spared and they
settled around Orinda as I understood. As I recollect, they did.
We had to stay there for a few days until the next boat came. They
were the Panama mailboats that we came up on. There was no harbor
there then. If you are on the mules you better get up flat to the
wall or the little burros will knock you off into the river.
Swent: I was so frightened by that trail. I just thought it was
Lane: You were how young when you went over?
Swent: I was twenty- three when I went there.
Lane: That wasn't much older than me.
Swent: I just thought it was terrifying. Didn't you? Weren't you
frightened by it?
Lane: Well, yes, I got my knee knocked once, my kneecap almost tore off.
One of those little burros ran into me with a box. It hurt so bad.
After that I would get up flat to the mountain. If there was any
jamming it would be the little burro that would roll down the hill,
Swent: But that trail was very high up.
Lane: It went clear down to the river below.
Swent: Hundreds of feet, absolutely--
Lane: Once in a while I would go down along where the cyanide--that
cement trough went, clear out. There were a lot of bananas, wild
bananas along there. Did you ever see them?
Swent: Was it called Tapacoya?
Lane: I don't know. I used to go along where that cyanide trough was, it
led off from the washings or tailings or something, washings. The
ground was moist and it filtered through that cement. There were
wild bananas along there. I used to gather some wild bananas.
They were good. They were good in banana fritters. They were
mixed with banana paste, baking powder, and flour. They made good
banana fritters, the wild bananas.
Swent: There were wonderful bananas there.
Lane: Yes, there were. Well, then you had some of them?
Swent: People came around to the door selling them.
Lane: There was a man in Mazatlan, he was called the Banana Ring. His
were cultured bananas, lovely bananas. Sometimes we used to go-
it was after the revolution before the boats were stopping for us.
We went outwhere the man dives down into the waterthere were
some rocks and it is all cemented on top. The man dives off of it
now. We used to go up therethe Banana King used to take his own
orchestra. Several of us would go out there with their mariachi
music and we would dance up there at night.
Swent: In Mazatlan?
Lane: Yes, in Mazatlan. There was a man and his wife down there. He
came down there and bought tomatoes, great carloads of tomatoes.
To beat the other markets to New York. She said that he was losing
four thousand dollars a day on his shipment of tomatoes because he
had to ship them from Mazatlan down to Mexico City. From Mexico
City, because the bridges were all blown out between Mazatlan and
the United States. They had to go down to Mexico City and then
That is what my telegram did. It had to go from Washington to
Mexico City, to Morrow, Morrow to Billy Blocker in Mazatlan. It
had to go down that way.
Swent: So you went out that time by boat on the Panama mailboat to Los
Lane: Yes. We went out to the United States, to San Pedro. We had to go
up on a ladder. We would go on these little motor boats out to the
big ship. They had these rope ladders. The waves would go over it
and you had to make that step, up on that ladder before the boats
went back out with the wave. The next time, hurry and catch it.
Sometimes it was so rough that they would let down a basket for
you. You would get in the basket and go up beside the boat. All
these people from New York would be hanging over the side looking
at you. Your husband, Jimmy, Evelyn, and I, we all went there. We
were up on the deck and little Jimmy's hat blew off into the ocean.
He looked so frightened when he saw his hat go.
Swent: So you went out to the States and then you came back to Mexico
again after that, didn't you?
Lane: Yes, we did later on.
Swent: Did you make this trip several times?
Lane: We came back later on. We went to Aguajita, Coahuila, but that was
coal mines there. That was right close to the border.
Swent: Did you ever go back to Tayoltita again?
Lane : No , never did . I don ' t know why I was in and out , but I was ,
several times. I must have traveled about 360 miles altogether,
down there. I was in and out more than that once.
Swent: On mules.
Lane: I went out with my husband I came in, that was ninety miles. I
went out with my sick husband. That made ninety miles more, 180.
I went back into the mines and came out with Ursula and Evelyn.
That made another ninety miles.
Swent: That would have been four trips. That would be 360.
Lane: Would it? Well, that's it.
Swent: It was ninety miles? So after your husband was in the hospital you
went back to the mines?
Lane: Yes. That's where the 360--yes. That is where it came from. I
know I traveled 360 miles on mule back. That's right, it was. I
made it .
Went back to the mines to live. Then he got sick. Took him
out, ninety miles. Then back in after he went to the hospital and
had his operation. Then back out with Ursula and Evelyn.
Swent: Your husband wasn't with you that time?
Lane: No, he wasn't with me. He came later. Perhaps a month or so
Swent: Then he went to work at another place?
Swent: Then he went to work at another place?
Lane: Yes, he went to work then. Later on he went to Aguajita, Coahuila,
coal mines. It was only about eighty miles from the border. They
made coke there.
Swent: You were with him then?
Lane: Yes, went back with him then. But only for a short time.
IV WORKING IN ARIZONA TO SUPPORT DR. JUDD
Stenographer in the County Doctor's Office
Swent : Did he have the same problem?
Lane: Same problem.
Swent: Oh, dear. Did you leave him then?
Lane: No, no, no, I took care of him. I came to Phoenix and took care of
him here. I worked in the county doctor's office here. I came
here to work. I was the only girl in the county doctor's office.
They didn't have a county hospital then. The doctors that are here
now in Phoenix are sons of the doctors that I worked for in the
county doctor's office. I worked in the county doctor's office
until there was a change of politics. Then I went to work at the
Swent: What were you doing?
Lane: Stenographic work, working in a doctor's office. My husband was
sick and I was taking care of him. I worked for Dr. Baldwin and
Dr. McEwan. Dr. McEwan was a graduate of McGill University in
Canada. Dr. Baldwin was a Johns Hopkins man. He was from- -I will
think of it pretty soon.
Dr. Baldwin's sister was Mrs. Lane, an attache--! guess you
would call it--of the ambassador to Mexico City. A brother of his
was an artist in Italy and he was a doctor, a graduate from Johns
Hopkins. His wife was from Bryn Mawr, which is right close there.
Swent: Well-educated people.
Lane: Yes. I worked for them. I could go home at noon and see how my
husband was getting along. He wasn't well. He was very sick. I
took care of my husband until he died. We had come outfrom
Aguajita, we came out through Eagle Pass. It was only about eighty
miles to Eagle Pass, which was Piedras Negras then, on the Mexican
side. On the American side, Eagle Pass.
He wanted me to go on home to my parents for a while. He said
he was going to go on over to California. I didn't go home. I was
going to come to Phoenix or Tucson. I didn't know which at that
time. I think I went to Tucson first. It might have been El Paso,
he was staying at the Del Norte Hotel. You have been there,
Lane: I went to Tucson for a trip to the veteran's hospital to see if I
could get a job. The head of nurses there said, "Why don't you go
into training as a nurse? If you want to go to Phoenix, my brother
will help you go through training." I didn't go to her brother.
But I knew her brother later on.
Trying to Get a Job as a Practical Nurse
Lane: I came up to Phoenix. I went to a nurse's registry. I went to
Good Samaritan Hospital. I said, "If you've got anybody that is
sick enoughthat wants to go homeI'm not a nurse but that I
could see that they got their medicine on time. My husband is
sick. He is a doctor. But he is sick and I have to work and take
care of him. But I would like to have a job taking care of
somebody that wants to go home from the hospital but can't take
their medicine on time or something."
Then I went to St. Joseph's Hospital. Sister Monica was the
nurse there then. I went in there and said, "I don't know really
how to do anything." That's a funny way to get a job. I said, "My
husband is sick. He is a doctor. I have to take care of him. I
thought maybe you might have somebody who wants somebody to go home
with them, just for a short time to see they get their medicine on
time and so forth."
She said, "Don't you know anybody in Phoenix?"
I said, "Not a soul." She and Father Emmett were standing
there talking to each other. I said, "No, I don't know a soul."
I turned around and there was Dr. Leff, M. I. Leff, who had
been in Mexico at one time. I said, "Dr. Leff!" He was so
surprised to see me. He had been at--not at Cananea--you have
heard of those mines?
Swent: Yes, I certainly have.
Lane: It was just across the border.
Swent: Cananea is Just south of Tucson.
Lane: It was near that area. What mines could it have been? What is
near El Paso, some mines across the border?
Swent: Oh dear, I don't know.
Lane: That doesn't seem like the name, but Cananea came to my mind then.
Anyhow, Dr. Leff was so surprised to see me. And I was to see him,
because I thought I didn't know a soul. He was practicing here in
Swent: So you did know somebody after all.
Lane: He followed my husband to Matehuala. When we left Matehuala he
took my husband's place at the mines there.
Swent: Did you come up here and work for him?
Lane: No, I didn't work for him. But I saw him several times. We were
out to his house for dinner- -he and his wife's.
Father Emmett left the priesthood. He started a hospital of
his own. He named it Santa Monica Hospital. I think he just
adored Sister Monica. She was the most beautiful nun. Oh, she was
beautiful. She was the head of St. Joseph's, the head nurse there.
She was the one sitting at the desk that day. Father Emmett was
talking to her. Just right after that he left the priesthood and
started a hospital of his own and named it Santa Monica.
After my tragedy, after my case, he used to come out to the
state hospital and see me all the time. He was very kind, very
good to me. He would bring me books to read. He tried to get me
out of there. He said that if they would let me be paroled he
would get me a place in Molokai. Do you know about that?
Swent: Oh, the leper colony in Hawaii?
Lane: He said he would get me work there. He tried very much. My
parents came out here, of course. I wrote to my mother; a letter
almost every day I was in Mexico. After this tragedy those
reporters rushed into my parents' home in Darlington, Indiana.
Marian's Letters to her Mother from Mexico
Lane: It is the prettiest little town. It was really named right,
Darling Town; they call it Darlington. It is a darling little
They rushed in there and they grabbed pictures off my mother's
shelf that was above her bedof me. My mother sat on the suitcase
containing letters that I had written to her almost every day that
I was in Mexico I wrote my mother a letter.
I was very happy in a way when I was down there. I would tell
her that I had gone to a bridge party, that we played bridge, what
we had to eat for refreshments afterwards, who won at bridge, how
they furnished our homes so beautifully.
That first home I had down there, they ordered all new things
for me. They ordered new rugs for the floor. I would take a
little of the wool yarn and paste it on the paper and send it. "It
has this color flowers in it. They had rugs that are flowers," I
would say. "This is the background. This is the little piece of
the background . "
My mother just lived right along with my letters. She could
just see everything. I would say, "They got me this for my
curtains. This is a little piece of my curtain material. They got
me this for drapes . I had these kind of drapes in my living room
and dining room. I had this color drapes in my bedroom." I had
two bedrooms; one was a blue room and one's a pink room. I would
cut little slivers off of it and send it to her. She was so happy
to get my letters .
Swent: She kept those?
Lane: Yes, she sat on the suitcases to keep the newspaper men from
Swent: Isn't that awful.
"Scared to Death of the Press"
It was terrible. I'm just scared to death of the press.
I don't blame you.
Just scared to death of the press. When I ran away from the
hospital- -you know I tried seven times.
No, I really don't know all those things. I was too young to know
about all that.
I finally did. I finally ran
I tried seven times to run away,
away. I got to California.
You were in a hospital?
A state hospital. They put me in the state hospital. My lawyers
didn't put me on the witness stand. They didn't want me on the
witness stand. This lawyer, his name was Lewkowitz--my picture was
in the paper last week.
In a Jewish paperthey had a big convention of Jewish lawyers out
here at the Biltmore. The lawyer that I had, his son was having
this banquet of Jewish lawyers. It had a picture of me and his
father and another lawyer that I liked very much. His name was
Zaversack. He was a very sweet little fellow, very kind to me.
Yes, it was just last week. It was taken at the time.
Were you the only one tried?
I was the only one tried, yes. Later on the sheriff and a new
prosecuting attorney came. They got me and put me on the stand.
The judge ruled: the state of Arizona itself has proven that no
crime was committed. Therefore since no crime was committed, that
Halloran will not be an accessory to that which was not a crime.
They set him free. Then they took me to the state hospital. Then
Governor Pyle commuted that. Then Governor Williams gave me my
freedom. It was when I was in Piedmont.
Right, that was Governor Williams?
Yes. He and the woman that lived on the corner in that Japanese
housethey were on the same boat together she said, "I was so
glad that you set her free. I knew her and the people that she
worked for." You know her too.
Swent: Not well, but yes, I know her.
Lane: Mrs. Oppenheimer used to pick me up when she would see me anyplace.
Mrs. Greenlee, they wanted me to take care of their mother, Mrs.
Greenlee, the old lady. They wanted me to take care of her. But I
had been with Mrs. Nichols. The Bechtels wanted me too. But I was
afraid it was too big a job.
I could cook for Mrs. Nichols because I went to bed every
night with my cookbooks . I would make out my menu and what I had
to do. I never went out at night because she was there alone. I
was always there. She insisted that we take our days off. I took
every Thursday off and every other Sunday. She insisted that we
take them. She had a colored girl by the name of Sarah that would
come in. She did the washing on Thursday, and ironing. I would go
over usually to San Francisco to Golden Gate Park. I would go
through the de Young Museum. Then I would go through the Steinhart
Aquarium. I would go through the Wildlife Museum. I would go
through the Japanese Garden, I love that.
Swent: You made the best of your time, didn't you?
Lane: Yes, I did. I loved it. The [Nichols] family all came to my
rescue. They wanted me back. They had made several trips here to
Phoenix. Dr. and Mrs. Blemmer wrote letter after letter.
V FURTHER RECOLLECTIONS OF MEXICO
[Interview 2: March 19, 1995 }ii
Lane: They had a grocery store. Guzman's in Monterrey. Did you ever get
things from Guzman's?
Swent: I never went to Monterrey. That was too far from us.
Lane: Well, in Monterrey they have a wonderful American store, that is
seventy years ago. We got our American groceries from there. We
could even get lovely grapefruit from there. They got it from up
near the border, where there are beautiful grapefruits. Oh, they
were that big. Big as a baby's head. Wasn't that baby beautiful
[we saw] last night [at the restaurant]?
Swent: Beautiful baby, yes.
Lane: We got from Small's American store in San Luis Potosi and flew down
there one time.
Earning a Medical License
Lane: They bothered my husband about his American diploma ever so often.
They had to look at it. They would put stamps on it, that it had
been stamped and approved. It cost about three hundred dollars
about every couple of years. The company sent my husband down to
the university at San Luis Potosi to get a Mexican diploma. To
take the exams with the graduating class so they wouldn't bother
him every year or two to get a visa.
We went down there and the company paid all the expenses,
Asarco, American Smelting and Refining Company. He went down
before I did. A couple of weeks later I went down. He took exams
with the graduating class and passed them. So he had an American
and a Mexican diploma, from Oregon, his medical diploma and that
university of San Luis Potosi.
We went to pay our grocery bill and they gave my husband some
mint lozenges--they were about that big around, they were covered
with chocolate. That is the only time I ever saw them.
Swent: I was looking- -and I know you can't see this very well but I did
bring a Mexican map with me. [Lane squeals with delight] You were
in a lot of different parts of Mexico, weren't you?
Lane: Yes I was.
Swent: Did they seem different? Were the people different in the
different parts of Mexico?
Lane: They had different names for things. For instance in some parts a
turkey was a guajalote. Other parts it was a pavo.
Swent: That's right.
Lane: And a pig, in some parts it was a cochino. In some parts it was a
puerco. In some parts it was a coche. There were different words
for different things.
On this trial that is going on now, they had a girl from San
Salvador. She was supposed to have seen Simpson's car. They would
ask her questions. She didn't want to answer. She would say that
she didn't remember or didn't know. Finally they said, "What do
you mean everything you don't know, you don't know."
She said, "When I say I don't know that means no." In her
language they don't say that.
They say, "Quien sabe, who knows." That word, quien sabe, it
is no se. No se, is I don't know. But quien sabe means, who
Swent: But they use it to mean no, don't they? I don't know.
Lane: They don't want to answer something it is quien sabe. Shrug their
shoulders, "Quien sabe," who knows.
Swent: I remember that if they ask you if you want something, in English
if you say thank you it usually means yes, I would like it. But
Mexicans, if they don't want something they say thank you, meaning
no. I think that is true.
Lane: There is a little colloquial--
Swent: A little difference. You mentioned, you had several relatives who
also lived in Mexico. I think a cousin.
Lane: Oh, yes. I had a cousin who goes down to Guadalajara. They went
down there. You know the interest was terrific, just terrific a
while backthe interest on money. They were having trouble. He
invested quite a bit of money at this high interest. Then the
banks froze and you couldn't get your money out.
Swent: This was recent.
Lane: Yes, recent. You couldn't get your money. Yes, that has been the
last twenty years. Then finally the banks starting paying. You
had to use the money in that country. So they went down there
every year. They stayed five months every winter. Then they would
come back to the United States. Of course he was an army veteran,
wounded. He was shot. He was a bombardier on a flying jet over
Germany. He was the only one on the plane who was shot. He was a
bombardier. He was out, you see.
Swent: Right in front.
Lane: They got him. He was shot through the legs.
Swent: When you were living in Mexico, did you have any relatives there
Lane: No. So that is why 1 have been to Guadalajara. 1 went down to
visit them. I went to visit them when I was in Piedmont.
Swent: When you lived in Mexico with your husband, did you ever get down
to Mexico City?
Lane: Not while I was there. I have been down there about five times
since I lived there. Mrs. Blemmer gave me this lovely, lovely trip
which I have in my little passport book that I had out. She gave
me this lovely trip after I was free. I told her when I was in the
hospital that I used to think about Mexico. I was really happy
when I was first married. Being a minister's daughter, we lived so
simply. We were poor. Ministers weren't paid much in those little
towns . Somebody would bring you a chicken or somebody would bring
you a leg of mutton or something like that.
Mining Engineers Who Went from Nome, Alaska, to Mexico
Swent: You mentioned yesterday, but it was after we were taping, about the
people that came down from Nome.
Lane: Oh, they were interesting. Those engineers and this Mrs. Watts
that I was telling you about. She went up there. Her father was
an ivory dealer from the state of Washington. He would go up there
and get lovely ivory.
One time she and her girl friend, who taught school, begged
him to let them go with him up there to teach school. They went up
there. She married the mayor of Nome, Billy Watts.
Swent: This would have been around early 1900' s?
Lane: About that time, yes. Yes, about that time she went up there
because I was born in 1905. Well, we weren't married though until
I was nineteen. She went up there- -that would have been around
1900 or so. Anyhow, she married Billy Watts. Her girl friend
married the president or the vice president of the Bank of Italy.
After the mines were closing up--the gold mines in Nome, her
husband took the job as chief clerk at the mines in Matehuala. We
lived in a duplex and they lived in the other side. So we became
Swent: She was older than you?
Lane: Yes. I was nineteen. She was about forty-seven. They used to
sing these songs.
Swent: They told you about all the excitement.
Lane: Yes, about Lydia Pinkham and Lipton tea, all of those. The face on
the ballroom floor. Let's see, "Johnny and Frankie were lovers.
Oh my God, how they could love. But he was her man and did her
wrong . "
Swent: These were songs that they sang in Alaska at their parties?
Lane: Yes, they sang in Alaska. So in Mexico when we would have a dance
or something they would have two or three drinks and start singing.
Swent: There were quite a few people that came from Nome down to--
Lane: Oh, lots of them came down there. There was one man, he was
assistant manager. His father was a coffee dealer importer from
South America. That caracolillo coffee. He said they used it to
blend it with other coffee because it is so rich and so good, and
not so bitter. It is just rich. You used it. You roasted it
Swent: Yes we did.
Lane: I liked it too. I drank coffee in those days.
now since my husband passed away.
I don't drink it
Concerning Drinking and Gambling
Swent: Did the women drink in the mining camps where you were too?
Lane: Yes they did. My husband told me that I didn't need to drink. I
had a good time without drinking.
Swent: Did they drink during the day at all?
Lane: No. It was just socially. Just at night.
Swent: What did they drink?
Lane: They drink martinis mostly.
Swent: They could get imported things. It wasn't just Mexican?
Lane: No, but they used tequila and some of them, I guess, used whiskey.
I know my husband didn't. He didn't like whisky, but he did like
Swent : Was there Mexican beer?
Lane: Oh yes, every St. Patrick's day he would get a keg of beer. You
would get that Sabinas beer. There were some Germans came down
from St. Louis during Prohibition and they set up sales in Sabinas,
Mexico. That is near Aguajita, Coahuila. That is only about
eighty miles south of the border from Eagle Pass or Piedras Negras.
They set up this big brewery there. It was wonderful beer.
Oh, it was the best beer. They also had cows. We used to get
buttermilk from them. They had wonderful buttermilk. Then they
raised turkeys. There were beautiful, big, white turkeys. They
used to give all those Mexican officials a big, white turkey for
Thanksgiving. They weren't bothered by the politicians or the
Swent: Were they shipping beer back into the States then?
Lane: No. They sold it there. My husband liked Sabinas better than any
kind of beer. I think he would drink Dos XX or whatever it was but
he liked the Sabinas beer if he could get it from this German
brewery. He would get a whole keg on St. Patrick's day. We would
have all the trimmings like pickled pigs feet, pretzels and things
if he could get themand have a big party. He did like a big
Swent: Was he Irish?
Lane: Yes, he was too. His mother was Irish. But she was from Northern
Ireland- -Orange, free state. She was Protestant. I don't like to
say these things. People think you are trying to brag or
something. She was from Irish nobility. Her oldest brother was a
lord. Laird they called them, an Irish laird. They bought the
other brother an admiralship in the English Navy and they gave her
a fortune. She came to America and she married his father. They
had a big ranch in Oregon and owned the Judd Creamery there. He
had plenty as a boy. We were talking about Chinese being good
cooks. He said they always had a Chinese cook when he was a boy.
They were well off.
Swent: Just one more thing about the drinking. Was Coca-Cola in Mexico
Lane : No .
Swent: No. That came later.
Lane: My husband liked to get loganberry juice from Oregon. They had
loganberries there. You see boysenberries around here if you get
them. I haven't seen any loganberries. I don't know when I've
ever seen them, except we used to get loganberry juice.
Swent : So you had quite a few nice things . Then you came out to the
States and you were--
Lane: He was sick and I worked in the Broadway department store.
Swent: Then you were sick.
Swent: So there was a time when you were both sick.
Lane: Yes, although he went to work and took care of me there at the
Swent: You said you were in a sanitarium in El Paso also.
Lane: Yes but after that he would come on back to Mexico. He was making
good money again. Because as a doctor he got a good salary. The
mine furnished you. We had a lovely home, they furnished us and
usually a car if one can drive a car. Then he could have all the
outside practice he wanted.
When we lived in Santa Barbara, he was so busy with the
company practice that he didn't have much time for any private
practice. He had an office one time down in town, and an office
girl there. Receptionist or assistant girl--a Mexican girl.
Swent: But when you were in the sanitarium in El Paso, he must have been
Lane: Oh, he was. He would come up once a month there and see me in the
sanitarium. Take me out--we would go over to Juarez for dinner.
We would go to El Central. He liked to gamble too. He would go
over to the Tivoli, that gambling place over on Juarez. I would
say, "Doctor, let's get out of here. This is the most horrible
place I've ever been in. I just feel like I'm in hell."
He said, "Well, why?"
I said, "I never saw so many painted faces and shifty eyes in
my life." The men are all sitting there dealing out the cards with
a shifty eye. The women all have such horrible, painted faces. I
said, "I can't stand it. I just want to scream."
He would laugh and say, "I won enough for our dinner."
Swent: What did he play? What was he playing?
Lane: I don't know. He had silver dollars. He got silver dollars. Oh I
know, with chips.
Lane: Is it chips on a wheel? Roulette, is that it?
Swent: I don't know. I'm not a gambler.
Lane: It was a wheel. There were chips.
Swent: Roulette maybe.
Lane: Roulette, that's what he played. It was roulette because you
played it with chips. They were pretty chips too. He had one from
Monte Carlo, when he had been in France. It was metallic. I don't
know if it was silver, or gold, or what. I know that was just a
souvenir from playing in a casino in Paris.
Swent: That didn't appeal to you?
Lane: No, I was never in France. Were you ever in France?
Swent: I've been to France, but not to the casinos.
Lane: No, I was never in France. I was never in Europe, any of the
countries in Europe, in England or France. [interruption]
I forgot to tell you about when that revolution was going on
at Mazatlan. We were all cooped up at the hotel there. Calles was
sitting there at the hotel. At least he was around an awful lot.
I don't know whether he had a room there or not but I know you
could see him all around the Hotel Belmar.
This colonel, Villalobos--doesn't that mean, Wolf city?
Swent: Yes, it does. I never thought about it, but it does.
Lane: Wolf village, Colonel Villalobos--he was Lupe Velez's fatherthe
little, fiery, Mexican actress, around about the same time as
Dolores Del Rio. She was very glamorous, very feminine, very
glamorous. Lupe was such a fiery, little mischief. She wasn't
there, but I mean her father was.
Swent: Those were pretty exciting times, weren't they?
Lane: They certainly were.
Swent: Were you ever afraid for your life?
Lane: No, I didn't seem to be.
Swent: With the bandits and everything?
Lane: No, I never had fear like a lot of people do. A lot of people have
such fears, but I don't.
Well, I was afraid when they came there because they came into
the hospital and demanded medical attention. I was a little afraid
Swent: I would think you would be.
Lane: I ran upstairs and told the doctor. He came down and took care of
them. He was very sick. The next day, Mr. Swent had the whole
thing arranged for him to go out to the American hospital for
surgery. But it took us three days on mule back to get there--!
mean to Estacion Dimas even.
Swent: I was interested that you mentioned Mr. Guggenheim coming down to
visit Asarco. Did you meet him?
Lane: No, he went to the managers of the mine. I never saw him in
person. He would order these, queso de membrillo, oh I liked that
so much. My girl Andrea, right there in Piedmont below you there,
she was making them, and you were just above there. She was making
queso. It is too bad that we didn't know each other then. She
made some good Mexican things.
Well, it was silver mines at Tayoltita. It was very high
grade ore. It even had little flecks of silver through the ore. I
have heard that some of the men did- -it was called high-grading.
They would put some of the silver in their boots or their cuff.
Swent: In the cuff of their pants.
Lane: I went up there and looked down at the ore where they went round
and round .
Swent: The mill?
Lane: Yes, in the mill where they crushed the ore- -and those rocks from
Denmark, they were big, black, smooth, black- -very hard. They
could crush that ore with the cyanide solution. They seem to have
been able to wash it out. That is strange.
Swent: When you left there did you think you would be going back?
Lane: No, I didn't think so because it was quite tropical and my husband
didn't think it was good for me there anyhow- -the moisture and the
Swent: He was sick then, when he left.
Lane: No, you see, he went out and had the operation on his abdomen- -
abdominal abscess. He had an operation. We came back up to the
mines and I stayed there about a month or two. Then, when the
boats started stopping in Mazatlan, Mrs. Wilcox went out first and
caught the first boat out to the United States. Ursula, Evelyn,
your husband, and Jimmy, and I, we went out the next bunch. Three
days later Mr. Swent came. But he didn't come with us in our
little group. He came about three days later.
He had business to attend to. He had to attend to that about
De Laviaga. He interceded for his life with Calles.
Swent: At one time when you talked about this with me, you said you
thought he had to pay something.
Lane: Oh, he did. The company paid De Laviaga--all of his men, three
pesos a day to stay at the mines, to keep other invading rebels
from coming in. He told him, "Listen, if I paid you this sum of
money and you left, a whole other bunch will come in, and then
another bunch. I will pay all your men three pesos a day to stay
here to keep other invading rebels from coming in."
Lane: They were guarding the mines. They behaved themselves from then
on. They didn't bother the Chinaman. They behaved themselves.
They lived in that open air theater. That was their barracks.
They weren't a big group. Well, they filled that open air theater
with their barracks.
Swent: I understood you to say that you thought he paid something for
Laviaga 's life.
Lane: Oh, no, it wasn't for his life. I don't know about that, their
transaction. He begged for his life. He had paid him for guarding
the mines. He came in there to loot.
Swent: I guess I didn't understand. I thought you were under the
impression that he had paid something to Calles for Laviaga 's life.
Lane: No, I don't think so. He paid for them to guard the mines. But
what their transaction was--it was Hearst money that got him off
Swent: Then you took the boat up to San Pedro.
Lane: Yes, we went to San Pedro. I never saw Langan again until I saw
him right there in Piedmont.
Swent: Did you go back to Mexico again after that then?
Lane: Oh, yes, we went back. I went back to the United States for a
while. Then my husband got a job. He had left the company about a
month or two later. He got a job with- -well from there he went to
--we went to Aguajito.
VI WORKING IN PHOENIX
Caring for Mrs. Ford
Lane: Then he lost that job because of his addiction. Then we came out
to the United States. I came to Phoenix and he stayed in El Paso
at the Del Mar [Del Norte?], thinking he was going to get a job
over in Alpine. I came to Phoenix and I got a job. I took a woman
home from Good Samaritan Hospital. Her husband was the manager.
He traveled in the interest of the Del Norte in El Paso, the
Westward Ho here in Phoenix, the Blackstone in Chicago, and the
Pioneer in Tucson.
He had to travel and he wasn't at home. The children were in
Chicago with their grandmother. She was in the hospital with T.B.
She didn't want to stay there, she wanted to go home. So they paid
me towhen I went and asked if they had a patient that was ready
to go home- -didn't need a full-time nurse, just somebody with them
to see that they took their medicine. They told me about Mrs.
Ford. So I went up to the office of the Westward Ho; it was brand
new then. His office girl, receptionistshe hired me. He was in
So I was with her--I took care of her until I got a job in the
county doctor's office which paid me very well. It was the
Depression. The Fords paid me ninety dollars a month with my room
Swent: That was pretty good.
Lane: Yes, that was pretty good, because men were working on WPA for
forty- four dollars a month. So I heard about the county doctors
needing a girl who could interpret for them. Well my Spanish is
very peon, but I get around. I go to Mexico and I got around all
right. It isn't perfect at all, but I can be understood. So I got
the job down at the county doctor's office. They paid me $125 a
month. Yes, that was very good.
Mrs. Ford--I took good care of her because she gave me my room
and my supper every night if I would- -the children came from
Chicago. School just started. The children came home. She said,
"Listen, I will give you the room that is off of the garage--it is
just a little roomand your supper every night, if you will be
here with the children and see that they get their studies and that
they get ready in the morning to go to school. You just see that
they do." So I did that.
Swent: And you were working in the county doctor's office?
Lane: Yes, and then she gave me my room. So that was wonderful. I was
even able to help my parents a little bit. So then I sent my
husband money to come on here. He came, he was so sick, so
terribly sick. It was terrible.
Caring for Dr. Judd
Lane: He was in a little room in a hotel down here. I went to see him and
he was just vomiting all over himself. He was wet. He was having
these terrible chills and convulsions from breaking away from
So I told them, "I can't pay for his room now. But I can the
first. I'm good for it." I told them where I worked. I had sent
my parents some money, so I didn't have the money to pay them for a
few days, until my payday.
I would take him cold lemonade at night, ice cold lemonade,
and some ice, and bathe him. By the time I get through with her at
night, and I had to walk clear from here in Phoenix--from Linwood
clear down around Central, there where the hotel wasand do that
for him. There were no cars running after midnight.
See, at night I would rub her back, put alcohol on it, change
her pajamas, because it was sweaty and hot. We didn't have air
conditioning then. She had a lovely room. It was a lovely home
the Spanish style. Her room was off from where the children were.
It was all screened in on two sides and she had her own bath. The
children were in another part of the house. They never came into
her room. They only came to the door. They would say, "Good
morning, mother, we are ready for school." Or, "Good night,
mother . "
Swent: They didn't want them to get it.
Lane: They were so afraid that they would get it. I boiled her dishes.
I got my room then. So, my husband- -oh yes, so then- -my job was
political. There was an election. Everybody went out. The
Democrats went out and the Republicans came in.
Here in Phoenix your jobs are political, a lot of them. In
those offices, it was all political. I lost my job with all the
rest. I went to the Grunow Clinic, the first day that it opened,
on January second. Do you know where the Grunow Clinic is? You
should go see it. I think we will go up there, see that. I want
you to see where I first started to work.
Swent: I would love to.
Lane: There is a woman who wrote a book about me. Her name is Jana
Bommersbach. She wrote a book [The Trunk Murderess, Simon &
Schuster, 1992). They bought about three hundred copies out there.
They wanted me to come up there. But I wouldn't do it. What they
wanted me to do was autograph those books. I wouldn't go.
But I have been in it since. One of the girls was an x-ray
technician there. She was from Oregon. She was an R.N. She had
been to Alaska. Her friend there was a school teacher, and she was
a nurse. Her friend broke down with T.B. So they came to Arizona
and they had an apartment. My husband and I- -we lived on the other
side of it at first, but I could get something closer to the
clinic. So I moved over closer to the Grunow Clinic, where I could
go home at noon and see how he was .
Swent: Were you worried about your own T.B.?
Lane: The doctors told me that I was going to break down again if I
didn't quit doing as much as I was.
Taking Dictation from Doctors at the Grunow Clinic
Swent: Yes, that was pushing yourself awfully hard. What sort of work did
you do at the clinic; secretarial?
Lane: Yes, secretarial. Even after that, when I got this job at the
Grunow Clinic, I was going to night school two nights a week. Two
nights a week I went down to take a- -learning shorthand, so I could
take dictation. I had to take dictation, and that's hardthose
medical terms were very hard. I will say, my husband helped me a
lot with that. I would abbreviate and couldn't make out the
medical term and I would- -he knew by the way it was dictated, what
word it was. Because my doctor would start--! told you one of them
was Dr. Baldwin. His sister was Mrs. Lane at the American embassy
in Mexico when Morrow was in Mexico, her husband was an attache
whatever that is--of Ambassador Morrow when they lived in Mexico
Dr. Baldwin would start I can remember all of his dictations
he would start out with the eyes. No exothalmus and a slight
strabismuswell, you see those are big words. Then he would get
to the throat and the thyroid glands. Then he would come to the
above the heart, and then the lungs--a slight tremor. Then come
down to the abdominal, and reflexesthey would run a thing down on
your stomach to see how the reflexes are.
I remember one doctor- -he had a cigar in his mouth and would
be walking back and forth, back and forth. This was very hard to
get. A vaginal dictation was very hard. He would say, "Enteritis,
a cervix synopsis, a slight cystocele or rectocele." That means
the tilt of the uterus forward or backward, slight. "Cervix
anaxix", I don't know what that meant, really. But those words
were big and hard. I could get small words likedid you ever take
Swent: No, I never did.
Lane: [illustrates shorthand] I remember a very little bit of my
shorthand yet. Although it has been fifty years or more since I
more than that- -since I had it.
Swent: You have a marvelous memory.
Lane: My husband when I would go home at night with some of my histories
to type- -he would help me with those big words because I would
Swent: So you typed them up at home?
Lane: A lot of it, yes, because I worked for two doctors. I worked for
Dr. McEwan, he was a heart and chest specialist. Dr. Baldwin was
the doctor of internal medicine. Dr. Sweet was the surgeon up
there at the Grunow Clinic. I would like for you to see it.
We moved over on Brill Street. It is covered now by Good
Samaritan Hospital. I used to cut right across there to our
apartment and see how he was. He wasn't well any of the time here
in Phoenix. He was sick. He had no narcotics at all. None here.
No, but I'll tell youthis is something. He didn't have any
narcotics, but I didn't want to leave him broke without a dollar or
two because he would like to go and get a little bit of ice cream.
We didn't buy much of it then. But he would like a little ice
cream or something like that.
Cheracol Cough Syrup, a Narcotic
Lane: I found out that he was drinking Cheracol cough syrup for the
little bit of codeine that is in it. I found a whole bunch of
empty bottles of cough syrup. So on Sunday afternoons, as tired as
I was, I used to go round to the drug stores here in Phoenix and I
would say, "If somebody comes in here that you are sure doesn't
have a cough, please don't sell them Cheracol cough syrup because
they are drinking it by the bottle to get the little bit of codeine
that is in it."
"You mean to tell me, anybody would drink all that syrup to
get that little bit of codeine?"
I said, "They sure would." Then I would go to another
drugstore that I knew had sold it to him.
They would say, "Don't you come in here insinuating that we
are selling something to drug addicts for that little bit of
I said, "You certainly are! I have the bottles at home to
prove it- -your empty bottles, from your drugstore." Some were nice
and some were nasty. But I went around begging drug stores not to
sell it to him. I would be so tired, walking from one place to
another, the drugstores. But I was young then.
The doctors told me I was going to break down with T.B. again.
I worked hard. Even when I was with Mrs. Nichols, I worked hard.
Swent: So how long did you stay at the Grunow Clinic?
Lane: Until this tragedy.
The Tragedy, October 16. 1931
Swent: Until the- -tragedy. And you were still living with your husband at
Lane: Yes, but he had gone over to- -Oh, he had heard about a Dr. Burton
in Hermosillo that died. His wife wanted to sell his office
equipment- -his practiceto somebody. My husband knew a lot of the
merchants, the businessmen in Hermosillo. My husband was very
charming, very charming.
Swent: Must have been.
Lane: Yes, he was charming. He knew these businessmen in Hennosillo--
they had begged him several times to come and practice there. They
assured him of so much money if he would come there and open a
practice. So he wanted to go down there and buy this Dr. Burton's
He had just gone for a few day to Los Angeles to see if his
sister, who taught the high school there, if she could let him have
enough money to buy out that practice. He wrote to me, he said,
"Shall I come back to Phoenix now, or wait a few days?"
I said, "Well, we need the money terribly" --for him to do what
he wanted to. He would have been home in three days when this
happened. He would have been back to Phoenix. Then this happened
andof course he did all he could for me, and his sister did. I
think my husband went back on narcotics during this case.
Swent: So he didn't go to see you then?
Lane: No. My husband even took- -I made a beautiful rug- -now this is
talking, but his narcotic problem meant more to him than anything
in the world. I made a beautiful rug. Somebody brought me the
burlap. It wasn't the hook kind. You did it with a needle- -
punched it. Then you cut those threads on the other side, made it
just like velvet. It was such a beautiful rug.
I was going to sell it to help my parents because they had
come out, and they were so poor. They were living in a little--!
never saw it. It was Just a very poor place. A man--a colored
man that had a restaurant there used to insist that my father come
past for a little bucket of soup every day. People would even help
So I made this rug to help them to sell it and help them. My
husband thought I could get a lot more for it than that. I can
auction it off. He took it. My parents never got a dime of it.
He was just tempted and used it himself. So you can see how strong
the habit is. Me in prison and my parents destitute, that he would
use it. So you see how it was?
When he had lots he spent a lot. He would spend it on me too.
But when he didn't have it, he would take it too.
Swent: He was in Los Angeles at the time of this--
Lane: Yes, he would have been home in three days.
Swent: The trial took a long, long time?
Lane: Yes, it did. I told you that there was something in the paper
about a week ago about the lawyers. [long silence]
[shows newspaper article]
Swent: Well, that is not too long ago. The Jewish News .
Lane: I'm just as quiet as a mouse about my identity, yet there I am.
Swent: Oh, there's your picture, "Generations of lawyers in the past--"
Lane: See they are still--! have to lead a very quiet life in a lot of
Swent: Of course you do. It doesn't even have any relation to what the
story is about.
Lane: No, the son of one of my lawyers--
Swent: It continues, but I was trying to figure out what it had to do with
you. It doesn't really
Lane: Except the son of one of my lawyers, and that lawyer is dead. It
was hosting a big Jewish dinner out at the Biltmore, that's all. I
don ' t know why .
Swent: Here we are, "Hermann Lewkowitz, lead counsel for accused trunk
murderess Winnie Ruth Judd." So they just really pulled it in,
Lane: Just did. They can't leave me alone.
Swent: I never heard any of this until you were discovered in Piedmont.
I'd never heard of that. You went out to Los Angeles then, didn't
Lane: Yes, to try to get to my husband.
Swent: That is where they arrested you?
Lane: Yes, my husband carried me in his arms and turned me over to them.
Yes, they didn't catch me. I hid in the Broadway Department Store.
I first went to the sanitarium where I had been a patient. I
stayed there--! don't knowtwo or three days. Then I went down to
the Broadway Department Store, the only places I was known.
I was just bewildered. 1 was in a state of bewilderment.
Finally, I got on a bus, or streetcar, and there was somebody
reading a newspaper. It said for me to call my husband. These
people left the newspaper and it said to call in. So I called in
at that number. I didn't buy the paper. Somebody left it.
So I called that number and I could hear click-click-click-
click. I had planned beforehand to talk to him in Spanish, but
when I heard this clicking I knew it was somebody tapping the line.
I could hear noise. So I dialed this number. My husband answered
it. I started talking in Spanish, I said--his name in Spanish is
Guillermo, William, that is an ugly name in Spanish, Guillermo. I
said, "If you are my husband Guillermo, entonces habla con mi en
Espanol." So he did. He switched over to Spanish.
I told him that I waswould meet himthat I was close to
the cerca de la Hotel Biltmore, en Los Angeles.
He said, "Meet me there in fifteen minutes." So I walked over
to the Biltmore from the Broadway. He was- -a man met me and spoke
I told him, "I don't know you."
He said, "I am your attorney."
I said, "Well, I don't have an attorney."
He said, "Your husband has engaged me as your attorney.
Follow me and I will take you to your husband." So I did that. I
followed him and my husband turned me over to the police. I had
been shot through this hand. There is a little scar there. The
bullet was in my hand because I went to grab the gun from the girl
that was holding the gun on me. I went to grab it and I was shot
through there. Then, I twisted the gun out of her hand and a shot
went through her shoulder before I twisted the gun out of her hand.
But I grabbed for it with this one.
Swent: With the wounded hand?
Lane: It wasn't wounded then. She had the gun and I grabbed for it. I
know what I did. I grabbed for the gun and there was a knife on
the table there. I grabbed the knife and stabbed her, but I was
shot first through the hand when I went to grab for the gun. Then,
well, at the same instance that I grabbed for the gun, as I grabbed
for the knife--! mean, I get all twisted up--
Swent: For the knife?
Lane: Because I put it out of my mind for so long.
Swent: So these girls were the ones that you worked with?
Lane: One of them was. The other one, she had T.B. too. I was over
having T.B. I had gotten cleared up, but they told me if I didn't
quit working so hard I was going to break down again.
Swent: So then your husband turned you in?
Lane: He turned me over to them.
Swent: They brought you back here then?
Lane: Yes, and everybody that was in my case has died but me, every
juror, everybody connected with my case, the lawyers, the
VII THE YEARS IN ARIZONA STATE HOSPITAL, 1933 to 1962
Some Doctors Were Very Good
Lane: Some of the doctors at the hospital were good to me and some were
not so good. Some were very, very nice to me. I try to
concentrate on those that were nice to me.
Swent: Their children are still being nice to you, you said?
Lane: Yes, the doctors that I worked for, their sons are now doctors here
in Phoenix. They are good to me.
Swent: You had your trial. That must have been terrible.
Lane: I was out at the state hospital. Some of the doctors would let me
go home. In fact, they would take me to see my parentsthe
doctors some of them would. Then my father fell and broke his
hip. They took me to the hospital to see him. They brought him
home. Mama could take care of him, but they couldn't fix his hip.
Swent: Your mother then broke her hip, too?
Lane: Yes, so some cousins came to take care of my father. But they
couldn't take care of both of them. So the doctors said, "Bring
your mother out here, and you can take care of her here."
Swent: Wasn't that nice. Were you supposed to be under treatment at the
Lane: I wasn't. I worked all the time.
Swent: They just had you working there.
Lane: Yes, they had me--I was working. They didn't pay me, but I took
care of patients. I bathed patients and I fed some of them that
couldn't eat by themselves. I worked all the time. I even did
floors. I would mop them and wax them and polish them. I worked
all the time.
Two of the doctors said that I could have a tray from the
employees dining room because I worked as hard as any employee. So
I got a tray from their dining room. They saw that the nurses were
slipping in little extras, especially at midnight. So the doctors
said, "If you girls want to, it's up to you, "--the nurses of my
hall- -"if you want to, you can bring her a tray right from the
employees dining room." I had very good food. Then another doctor
came and said that I wasn't to have anything special.
Then another one would say, "I want her doors left open all
the time. I will tolerate no abuse of her whatsoever." Be very
good to me. He said, "You speak of your tragedy; you are the
tragedy. For me to see you in a place like this, a bright, young
woman in a place likeyou are the tragedy." He said he was going
to try to help me get my freedom, but he failed to get my freedom
I got my freedom myself, when I ran away.
Swent: You ran away more than once.
Lane: Seven times. Sometimes when they brought me back, they would lock
me up in solitary confinement.
Making Prize-Winning Doll Clothes and Crochet Work
Lane: I want to show you some doll clothes I made by hand when I was in
solitary confinement. They are all hand done. They won first
prize at the fair.
I started out fifty years ago, or forty-nine years ago for a
little girl's ninth birthday, which was forty-eight years ago. It
took me about a year. I made three outfits, one for her and one
for another nurse, and then a woman at the doll hospital gave me
one. She said I sold several dolls for her and she gave me one.
The doctor that came when he saw what I was doing, he was so proud
of it. He was the one that said, "I want her doors left open. I
don't want her mistreated in any way. I will tolerate no abuse of
her." So he insisted that my doll clothes be shown at the fair.
They won first prize.
Then I crocheted. I crocheted several tablecloths, beautiful
tablecloths. He wanted me to crochet him one; I did. His name was
Dr. Metzger, Dr. Jeremiah Metzger, in Tucson. I think that is
where his wife lived after he was no longer in charge of the state
Swent: Did they give you any kind of treatment or medication or
Lane: No, just vitamins.
Swent: No shock treatment or anything like that?
Lane: No, no, nothing, never.
Swent: Therapy? Well, the therapy you were doing yourself.
Lane: They gave me massages in hydrotherapy. I didn't have to take
hydrotherapy, but I took it; they gave me massages, very good
Swent: And exercise, were you able to get exercise?
Lane: No, my exercise was running the electric polisher over the floors
through the halls. I would bathe patients. I was very careful.
That little girl, Judy up there, [points to photo] she came to work
for the state hospital when she graduated from high school. She
was very shy. The head nurse said, "Where are we going to put
They said, "Put her with Ruth. Let them bathe patients
together." We had long halls and these sick people, they wet their
beds, they would soilmake a mess on themselves. So we would go
in with our fresh linen and basin and everything, and bathe them.
We would roll them over. We would start a clean sheet on one side.
We would roll them over, wash their back. We would put some
alcohol on it, and then, maybe a little dusting powder. Then take
the soiled sheet, roll it out, and roll them over on the clean
sheet. We took better care of them than they get up in the
hospitals here now. Now they bring you your basin and you wash
yourself. Yes, but we bathed all those patients, Judy and I, up
there, that girl.
She saved her money from the state hospital, working there,
and went into nurses training and now she is head nurse over here
on the Indian Reservation. She and Retha have bought a horse ranch
together. They are the ones that brought back the wounded from
Vietnam to Lettennan Hospital in San Francisco. We have been
friends for so many years.
Judy is Mormon, her name is Karchner. There are a lot of
Karchners in Mexico. They are Mormons, the Karchners are. Her
grandfather was the champion fiddler in Arizona. He played for all
the dances, and the Mormons love to dance. 1 knew some Karchners
down in Mexico at Colonia Dublan or Colonia Juarez . We would go
down on that railroad to Madera.
I remember that little Mormon village. They have two-story,
red brick houses, and green shutters. One wife upstairs and one
wife downstairs, it keeps him busy back and forth, up and down.
Ladies with little sunbonnets on and long skirts going along a
little stream, a little irrigation stream. All the trees are
white-washed half way up, picket fences around, all white-washed.
A lot of chickens running here and there.
They are the busiest people. They put things in their
commissary, in their warehouse for famine. Anyhow, I knew some
Karchners there. One of Judy's relativesdistant, I don't know
how distantshe was a school teacher there. She had epilepsy.
She had to quit teaching because of having these seizures. They
were getting worse. So her family brought her down to the state
hospital to see if there was anything they could do for her.
Sometimes they did some brain surgeryit was very good. It is a
pressure on the brain. Sometimes there is a bone pressure.
This Mormon school teacher that had seizuresshe taught me
how to crochet a lot of things. I am going to show you, I have one
piece left, [tape break] She was born in Mexico, but she taught
school here. [illustrating] I will bring that in with this
stitching to make a pin cushion. If I want a doily, I leave that
off, but I put this edge on it to make a doily. I made dozens of
these. I made Mrs. Blemmer twelve place mats, white ones. And
these for doilies to set your glass on. But I had that edge around
Swent: That is lovely work and very fine. I don't know the names of the
stitches, but this petal do you know the name of that little petal
Lane: I don't remember. I bought these to make some more. I quit
crocheting, I had so much work to do on the ranch. When the water
drought--! had to water 165 rose bushes by hand. That is Mrs.
Blemmer, she had a beautiful place out there, Green Valley Farm,
just beautiful. [looking at photos]
[looking at crochet work] Isn't that pretty? Then I had
yellow, green, blue, that's purple, but I had yellow ones too. I
made them up and gave them forlike Easter eggs. I can make two
or three of those a day. When I was crocheting, I could.
Swent: So she did you a good turn, teaching you to do that, didn't she?
Lane: Later, I met her distant relative, Judy, that girl there, here.
Swent: You got reacquainted with her then, here?
Lane: Well, no. Her distant relative was born in Mexico, but she taught
here. Rita was a distant relative, and she came to work at the
state hospital; we are still friends.
Swent: I think it is wonderful that you are still able to do that with
Lane: I haven't been crocheting for a long time. That is why I had
forgotten I could make those by memory, I had made so many of them.
I made her twelve to go around as place mats. Then I made her
several pincushions too at Easter time, of each color. All I have
left is this one, and this one started. I keep hoping that I can
see how to finish that one. I use a very fine needle for that.
Swent: That is the tiniest. That is a double or triple 0.
Lane: It is an eleven, I guess. Eleven or twelve, one is one and one is
the other. I've got more in a box. I've got all of that. Do you
Swent: I think it is good. I never did learn to tat.
Lane: I'm going to give you some cards that are made with little tatted
flowers. I didn't do that. I don't tat.
Swent: My mother used to tat and she tried to teach me but I never learned
to do it.
Lane: I never learned to tat, no. I want to finish this very much.
Swent: That is what kept you going then, was that. Did your parents die
while you were in the hospital?
Lane: My father died first. Then my mother stayed with me.
Swent: They allowed your mother to come out and be with you at the
Lane: Yes. I took care of my mother there.
Swent: Wasn't that nice that you could have her there?
Lane: Well, some doctors were so good to me. Some were very, very good
to me. And then others, they locked me up. They said that was
because I ran away. I stayed a year in solitary confinement, just
in my pajamas. Not even any shoes. Some of them were mean to me.
One Christmas a girl was passing outone of the attendants was
passing out candy stockings and she opened the door and handed me
one. I opened it and was eating candy. She opened the door and
grabbed the thing and slapped my face, on Christmas. Then others
would give me permission to go out with my guardian.
When my husband died, why, I had a legal guardian. They would
tell her that she could come and take me for drives . She would
take me all over, around Wrigley's mansion, take me for beautiful
drives. Then, othersyou never knew what was going to take place.
Whether it was going to be a good superintendent or- -it changed
every time the governor changed. I was going to get my doll
clothes, but I won't get them now.
Swent: Do you want a pillow at your back, Marian?
Lane: No. You don't want to look at it now, do you?
Swent: Well, maybe later. So you were still singing? You kept singing
all this time?
Lane: Singing? Oh, my husband and I when he got calls to go out on a
ranch someplace, why, he would take me with him in the car. We
would have fun singing together, just the two of us. He sings
funny songs like
Swent: Did you sing in the hospital?
Lane: No, I didn't sing there.
Swent: Didn't feel very happy.
Lane: I was trying to think of this song. Oh, well we would sing this
ourselves , but I was trying to think of some of the songs we would
sing for our little dog. We had a little dog. He wasn't very
little. He was an airedale, and my husband loved him to death. My
husband used to sing songs like this, "Oh, we ain't got barrels of
money, maybe we're ragged and funny. We will travel along, singing
a song, side by side." We would sing that. Retha likes the one
that I used to sing.
My mother was a school teacher before she and my father were
married. They learned geography. They learned the islands too. I
remember the islandsthe last of the islands, at least, because it
scared me when she would sing to me and taught me that. She would
sing the different islands all along the coast of the United States
and down past South America. Then get down to the Falkland
Islands, "Falkland Islands, Falkland Islands, East Falkland, West
Falkland, Tierra del Fuego, the land of fire."
Being in the church, they preached about hell. I thought Oh,
Tierra del Fuego, that's where hell is, it's the land of fire. So
that used to scare me when we would sing that song.
Swent: But then you did one about the capitals of the states?
Lane: Oh, yes, that was the states, my mother taught me that one. The
states of the union and all their capitals. [sings] Maine, Augusta
on the Kennebec River. Maine, Augusta on the Kennebec River. New
Hampshire, Concord--! think it was the Onion- -on the Onion River.
New Hampshire, Concord on the Onion River. Rhode Island has two
capitalsit did at one time --Providence and Newport.
Massachusetts, Boston, on the Boston harbor. Massachusetts,
Boston, on the Boston harbor. New York, Albany, on the Hudson
River. New York, Albany on the Hudson River. Vermont,
Montpellier, on Snake River. Vermont, Montpellier, on the Snake
River. And it goes on around all over the United States. It gets
down to Oklahoma. Oklahoma, it is a territory, clear down
Swent: We didn't have Alaska or Hawaii then.
Lane: No, we didn't have Alaska or Hawaii. Arizona wasn't a state then.
Swent: New Mexico wasn't either.
Lane: My mother taught me New Mexico. She sang that one, and Texas too.
But not Arizona nor Oklahoma; they were territories.
Swent: She must have been a good teacher.
Lane: She was. But they sang their songs and they could learn so easy.
Swent: It helped, I think.
Lane: It helped the children, yes. My mother's father died and she was
the oldest left at home. There was a brother and sister older, but
married. She was sixteen when her father died. She got a second
grade teacher's certificate. You could get them in Illinoisa
second grade oneif you graduated from the eighth grade. You
could teach at sixteen if you passed the state board. So my mother
did. She taught in the little school right next to where they
She supported her mother. I think there were about five with
the children. They had nine. Her mother had nine children on this
little farm. She supported them. I know she had one brother,
Newell and one brother and a sister Netty, and a little brother
Winnie. That is where I was she named me after her little
brother. Then she had Willy and little George. She and her mother
and these five little ones at home. So she took care of them.
Every summer she would go to State Normal, or State Teacher's
College at Normal, Illinois. Then there was another Normal that
she went to. Then, finally the second year that the Methodists had
bought Greenville College, they bought it from the Catholics, and
the second year that it was
Swent: What college was that?
Lane: Greenville College, in Greenville, Illinois, right close to
Vandalia. A hundred miles perhaps from St. Louis. Anyhow, the
second year it opened, why, she went to Greenville College. She
worked in the dining room or kitchen, waiting tables for her food.
That is why she wanted me to go there. So when I was fourteen they
took me down there and enlisted me in thethey called it
preparatory school, which was the seminary. So I went to school
there. Instead of a public high school, I took my academic work
Swent: You certainly must have gotten a good education.
Lane: No, I am not very bright. That's why my brain hasn't worn out; I
never used it. I never used it, so I've still got my mind. I
haven't got my eyes, or much else, nor lungs.
Swent: You have good teeth.
Lane: Well, they are there. I've gnawed them off, clear down to I was
clearing out that drawer looking for a picture of me. It was taken
of me when I was still nineteen. I had been in Mexico about two
months. There was a little studio, a little camera shop, just a
hole in the wall with dirt floors. I had my picture taken there.
It shows that I had teeth. Now I've gnawed them off until I'm
almost down to my gums .
Swent: No, they don't look bad at all.
Lane: I will still dig that drawer out because I'm sure that picture is
in it. Then I will show you the doll clothes I made.
Seven Escapes from the Hospital
Swent: Let's just finish a little bit here. You ran away finally, the
last time when they didn't catch you.
That was your seventh try,
Where did you go that time?
I went to California. Yes, that is where I went.
How did you get there? Did you have friends there that you went
I went to California, but I--
Had you gone to California other times?
Started. Yes, I got there, yes, I got there once but this time I
had a- -I called up a friend here and they hid me.
You did have a lot of good friends all along, didn't you?
Well, this was a man friend, he is distantly related. I don't want
you to think that I was shacking up with some man. He was
distantly related. He hid me and brought me food everyday. The
people in the church sent me a hot meal everyday. They sent me
food everyday, a great, big, nice plate of food. I had one meal a
day, good food. And this party hid me.
Then my niece's husband came over in a car and got me and took
me to California in a car. I didn't walk at that time. I went in
a car. He is the one--I loaned him a car later on. It was traced
to his place, that was when I was brought back. They came there to
Piedmont to look for me and I wasn't there. A couple days before I
had gone out with Mrs. Rawlings and her maid. They came out and
they had lunch with me on my terrace.
Swent: At Green Valley Farm?
Lane: At Green Valley Farm. The Blemmers were in Europe. They were
going on an elevator and they saw this in the paper. They said,
"Well, that's our Marian." They came home and did everything to
fight my being brought back here. When I was brought back here,
they all came over here and fought to get me out. They wrote
hundreds of letters to everybody that they knew over here, the
governor, and I forget the name of this woman that was her girlhood
friend, she was married to a big, high politician. Anyhow, they
told them that I had a home with them the rest of my life. So the
governor pardoned me, he let me go.
But one time when I ran away, I went before the Grand Jury and
told them about my case. They asked Governor Pyle to commute my
sentence down to time served and let me go without further
embarrassment or punishment. And he just commuted my sentence,
see. I was under a death sentence for years. So he commuted me
down, but didn't let me go yet.
So then I kept on running away because I knew I was a step
from getting my freedom. Then they punished me, sometimes.
Sometimes they didn't, for running away. One time when I ran away,
the doctor came in and he said, "Well, you can have any room you
want here in the place. Did you have anybody waiting for you? Do
you have any plans? Do you have anybody waiting for you?"
I said, "No."
He said, "Well, I'm not going to punish you. You can have any
room you want here." So I chose one. I knew that they were
watching it, to see that I didn't cut the screen or anything.
Lane: Keys were given to me, to run away. So I had this little key in
this little coin thing. It had two quarters, two dimes, two
nickels, and I guess pennies too. There was a lid to it that had a
clip and a dollar bill. Well, if you pry that loose, you can put a
key in back of that, and then slam the lid back in there. All they
would see is the dollar bill folded up there.
I knew that every time that I went to take my shower, that
they would go into my room and look around to see if I had done any
mischief. They were watching me. As I went out of the shower one
time, I cut the screen--it was a different kind of screen, it was
Swent: More like chicken wire?
Lane: Yes, I guess so. It was little wires. I sawed through it. Then I
would put chewing gum on it just the same size, it wouldn't show.
Cover it with aluminum polish so it wouldn't show until I got a
hole big enough for my head to go through. Anything your head will
go through, your body will go through. You can twist your
shoulders. So I went out over thedown into a patio and I put a
chair on a table and I climbed up on the roof. Just as I was going
down the drain pipe, somebody saw me.
A man was coming over from the men's ward to visit his wife,
she was on my floor. "Why," he said, "Ruth, what in the world are
you doing out here?"
I said, "Sorting clothes." Because they let me out to sort
clothes once in awhile. You know, there was soiled stuff to go
out. So he knocked on the door and his wife came.
He said, "Did you know Ruth was locked out here?"
"Why, no! How in the world did you get out there? I didn't
know that you were out there." So then they found it, where I had
cut the screen. So I knew when they told me that I could have any
room I wanted, that they were going to watch that room. I didn't
have anything to cut it with then so I just hadthe key was given
to me. So people gave me keys three times.
Swent: Sort of asking you to leave?
Lane: Well, they wanted me to. Some of them did. Sometimes they said
terrible things against me. One time they said I was dangerous.
But the doctorthe one that I've asked this last timehe said,
"We are not looking for her. She's not dangerous. The police are
not looking for her and we're not either."
VIII LIFE AS AN ESCAPEE IN CALIFORNIA, 1962-1971
Caring for a Blind Woman
Lane: I stayed out. I went to California. When I decided that I had
better get some work, I looked at a paper and there was a blind
woman that needed someone to take care of her. Well, I thought,
"That's just the job for me. She can't see me. So she won't
recognize me." I got that job. It didn't pay much. The woman
paid me seventy- five dollars a month.
Swent: Where was that?
Lane: In California, Oakland.
Swent: Was that when you changed your name?
Lane: I'll tell you about that. Right after that I came to Piedmont.
The poor old woman, she was blind. I had to put her on a thing so
she didn't wet her bed. I had to use a catheter on her. One of
those retention catheters that goes into a bottle so her bed
wouldn't be wet. Then I had to get the hydraulic lift to lift her
out of bed. Then lift her over to the chair for awhile. Then take
her bottle over there and turn this catheter on so it would go down
into the bottle. Let her sit up. Then I would change her bed, the
linen on her bed. Then she could eat. She'd had her bath and she
could eat. After a certain length of time, I would put her back in
a clean bed. She was getting delirious. One night she said, "The
house is on fire! The house is on fire!"
I said, "No, Emma, it's not on fire."
"Don't strike that match! Don't strike that match!"
I said, "I'm not. I don't have any matches."
"Well, call the fire department. The house is on fire! I can
I said, "Emma, the house isn't on fire, dear. It's not on
fire." So the doctor had me giving her sedatives. Then one night
she got to screaming.
"Call the police! Call the police! There are three dead men
upstairs, three dead men!"
I said, "Emma, there is nobody upstairs."
"Call the police! Call the police! There are three dead men.
They are in the garage. There are three dead men in the garage."
She was yelling so bad that the neighbors could hear her.
I called the doctor and he said, "Well, you know that she is
out of her head." He wanted me to give her a sedative.
I said, "No doctor, she isn't. There are three dead men in
He said, "Marian, what's the matter with you!"
I said, "Listen, her brother was an undertaker and there are
three little boxes out there. They've got names of the people on
it who are in those boxes. They are ashes. They had been cremated
and they gave them to him to sprinkle out over the ocean. He died
before he got it done."
The doctor thought that I was crazy. He came out and he said,
"I want you to tell this family to dispose of these in a proper
manner. I won't have my patients upset like this, screaming and
She didn't want to take her pills. She got so she didn't want
to. He wanted me to give her a hypo, and I said, "No, I know how
to give hypos, but I won't give it. If she should die when I give
her a hypo, then I would think that I was to blame." I said, "I
won't give it."
He said, "I'll cover you."
I said, "No, I won't give a hypo." So I went down to the
state employment bureau. I could have had three jobs then and
there. I said, "They don't pay enough. I don't have to leave
where I am." They will pay me a bonus. They will pay me--was it
1,500 or 3.000--I forget which. If I'll stay as long as she lives,
whether it's six months or six days, they will pay me a bonus.
The doctor said to me, "If they want to raise your salary,
that's fine, but you don't take a job where you are the beneficiary
if they diethat you get this bonus." So I went down to Maid-to-
Order employment bureau.
I said, "I have a job and they will give me a bonus. They
have given me a raise and they will give me a bonus if I will stay
with them. But I don't want to work there any longer. I want to
leave, but I don't have to. I won't leave until I get a job that
is better than what I have now."
She said, "Here, make out this form." And handed me something
like that. She said, "Wait a minute, wait a minute. I think I
have a girl here right now. Would you go to Piedmont?"
I said, "Where's Piedmont?" She told me how to get there and
I told her yes.
She said, "There is an old lady up there that has been wanting
somebody for quite some time." So I went up to Piedmont.
Companion and Housekeeper for Mrs . Henry Nichols
Swent: She was always looking for somebody.
Lane: That's right. She had so many girls. I was there almost seven
Swent: That was a record, a real record.
Lane: Oh, they were good to me. She just loved me. I loved her too.
Swent: It was a wonderful place for you.
Lane: You know, we had more fun, she and I. I was so happy not to be in
that state hospital, using tin plates and tin spoons, and all that
beautiful china that she let me use. I said, "Mother Nichols, I
just love this set. Can I use that tomorrow?"
"You can use anything I've got." Well, I never broke things.
The only thing I ever broke was the chandelier once. Barkley fell,
the chauffeur, and I was sorry for that. I had him up there
cleaning it. He had to climb up on a little ladder, and it toppled
over. He had his hand on it and jerked it and broke it. It fell
on the floor and broke, the chandelier. Anyhow, I never broke any
of her dishes. I was so careful with them. "Oh, I just love your
china!" I would say, "It is so beautiful."
"You can use anything I've got in there." She loved to look
at it. She liked changes. The other girls would just slop it
down, most of them. I would dress them up so pretty for her. She
loved the way I polished her silver. Well, I loved her silver.
She had the most beautiful silver service. The one that she kept
on the sideboard there, it had a little thing underneath it, for
heating a casserole. Then she had the teapot, and for hot water,
and the coffee pot, all on that big, gorgeous tray from that place
in San Francisco.
Swent: Shreve's probably.
Lane: That's it, in San Francisco.
Swent: It was Mrs. Nichols that you went to work for. Was she Mrs. Herman
Lane: Mrs. Herman Nichols was there at that tea party when you were.
Swent: Yes, but which was this Mrs. Nichols? Who was her husband?
Lane: Well, he had died when I was there.
Swent: What was his name?
Lane: His name was Henry. Henry had died in April and I went there in
Swent: Oh, he had just recently died.
Lane: Yes, when I went there in September. She had a couple of people
between that time but she didn't like them. When I went there--
Swent: She really liked you instantly.
Lane: Oh, listen! I was so happy I was just skipping around that pretty
Swent: That was when you changed your name, was it?
Lane: No, I had changed it before that, when I was with the other people,
when I was with the blind lady. I changed my name to Marian Lane.
The Board here in California, when they gave me my freedom, they
said that they wanted me to use that name legally. I'm legally
Swent: Did you have to have some sort of I.D. or anything when you went to
Maid to Order? They didn't ask for I.D. or references of any kind?
Lane: No, no, they didn't ask me. Of course that was --how many years ago
Swent: Well, that was in the sixties.
Lane: She died in 1967.
Swent: We moved there in 1966 and you had been there several years then, I
Lane: Oh, yes.
Swent: You were with her quite a long time. Seven years, you said?
Lane: Almost, well six and a half. I went there in September. It wasn't
seven years so it would be a little over six. I had been working
there with the blind lady first. Then with her I worked about
Swent: You did the cooking?
Lane: I did all of it except I didn't do laundry.
Swent: You managed the house? There was a maid also.
Lane: Well, she was a colored girl. She came on my day off. She did the
washing and ironing. She cooked the meal Thursday night, and
Sunday noon, she cooked the meal. The Blemmers came in every
Thursday and every other Sunday.
Swent: That was Mrs. Nichols' daughter?
A Visit to the Herman Nichols Home in Hawaii
Lane: Yes. Herman and Dorothy, his wifeshe was half Hawaiian. Did you
Yes, her father's name was Livingston and her mother was Hawaiian.
I visited them. They gave me the trip over there. They gave me
the trip over there, the air flight. Mrs. Blemmer bought me that
dress--! told you was one hundred dollars. I stayed in Mr.
home in Puna Luu, Oahu. That is on the Kam [Kamehameha]
It is just next to the Crouching Lion, past that
Chinaman's hat, and then the Crouching Lion restaurant, or hotel,
motel, whatever it was.
Herman Nichols had a two- story house right on the beach. They
owned that beach there. I was their guest for a week. Then they
had made the most beautiful reservations for me from there to Kona.
I stayed in Kona one night. Then we took the bus up to Hawaii,
past those volcanoes. I looked out into those pits and see all
that molten rock down there, sulphur fumes. Then went past the
black sands beach. I got a little bottle full of that black sand.
Was this after you had your freedom? After Mrs. Nichols had died?
No, this was while you were there?
They were so good to me.
They were very good to you. You were good to her too.
The Dogs. Nicky and Cutie
Lane: I was; well, we were happy together. We had fun. She had never
ridden on a bus in her life. Well, I brought that little dog home;
he was my life saver. Oh, she thought he was the cutest thing she
had ever looked at. She named him after her husband, Nicky
Nichols. Her husband was Henry Nichols but she called the little
dog Nicky Nichols. Oh, she loved him.
She took him- -got up out of bed. She took him to the toy shop
to buy him anything he wanted. She bought him all kinds of
clothes. She bought him a little sweater, she bought him a little
coat, a little plaid coat. Had his name embroidered on it. She
bought him a raincoat. Cutest little raincoat, with a little hood.
He didn't want that hood down over his ears. He couldn't hear. It
rattled, anyhow. So his head was always wet when it rained. She
got little rubber boots even. She said, "He's got bad tonsils. I
don't want him to get tonsillitis,
So she bought him little
Then she saw this other little dog a man had on a rope. She
said, "Mister, my little dog would like to see your dog." He came
over to the car. She said, "Would you sell him?"
He said, "Oh, I would like to sell him."
She said, "I'm Mrs. Henry D. Nichols and this is my companion
and this is my chauffeur. If you let me take him for about an
hour, and my little dog likes him, I'll buy him." So she took him
home. Nicky was delighted to have a playmate. They were both
males but they never fought. Nicky just adored him. He played
with him. He loved him. He didn't want you to pick him up though.
He wanted him for himself. That was his playmate.
She said, "Nicky, would you like to have a little brother?"
So she said, "This is your little brother." So he thought it was
his so you shouldn't pick Cutie up, because he belonged to him. So
then she registered them out at a school. She would dress up in
her big sealskin coat in the winter. Had the chauffeur come back
and drive us way out to this school. It was a lodge hall but they
would lay down mats.
That chauffeur at the time that we went to the school was the
son of Mr. Swent 's cook.
Oh, that was Nylene's son?
Was that her name?
Yes, I think so. Was she black?
Because he had a colored cook for a long, long time.
Living Across the Street from Mr. Swent
Swent: But then later Nylene was there. So when did you become aware that
Mr. Swent lived across the street?
Lane: I was on the bus and his cook worked for Mr. Swent. She got off
the bus right there at that corner and she told me she worked over
there for Mr. Swent. That's when I found out.
Swent: You thought, "Uh-oh." Were you scared?
Lane: Yes, at first I was.
Swent: Of course you were.
Lane: But then one day Mrs. Nichols sent me over there to tell her that
she wanted the chauffeur that night or something, for her son. I
had Nicky with me and he ran upstairs to Mr. Swent "s room. I heard
his voice say, "Well, you are a cute little dog. Where did you
Swent: But you didn't see him?
Lane: No, not then. I would see him out for walks then later. I knew
him becausewell, maybe I wouldn't have, if I didn't know his
name. I asked her then, I asked her if he had ever lived in
Mexico. She said, "Yes, he had."
Swent: So you knew that he was the one.
Lane: The one, yes.
Swent: Then you called me before we even bought that house.
Lane: I called you and told you. I wasn't going to say that. I was
going to remind you of that. I called and I said--I don't remember
if I talked to you or your husband- -"Would you be interested in
this house on the corner of Lincoln and King?"
Swent: We were just house hunting at that time.
Lane: You said, "I certainly am."
I said, "It is for sale for ninety thousand dollars."
You said, "Are you sure?"
I said, "Yes, I talked to Mrs. Blum and her daughter is with
Grubb Real Estate. She told me that it was ninety thousand."
You said, "Well, I certainly am interested." And you folks
bought it then and there.
Swent: We bought it a little bit later.
Lane: One day, Mrs. Nichols was giving this big tea. I said, "Why don't
you invite Mrs. Swent?"
She said, "Do you think that she is socially acceptable?"
I said, "Certainly, she is! Certainly she is!" Oh, I finally
told. It was just too much for me. I finally said, "Mrs. Nichols,
I used to know Mr. Swent in Mexico."
"You did! Well, let's invite him over for dinner."
I said, "No, I don't think we'd better. He might think that
you are trying to chase after him or something. I don't think we'd
better invite him for dinner." I was too afraid that she would get
to telling him something that I had said. I was afraid and yet I
was delighted. I was so delighted when you bought that house.
Swent: I remember that beautiful tea party.
Lane: Yes, and I said to her, "Why don't you invite Mrs. Swent."
Because, I'll tell you, I loved your folks. I loved Langan from
when he was a little boy. He was only fourteen or so. And I loved
Mr. Swent. He always saw that I had milk. When my husband was so
sick, he got that great caravan to carry him out. So I loved them.
I really did love them.
Swent: But you must have been pretty nervous too that he would know who
Lane: I was very afraid.
Swent: He wouldn't have recognized you, I'm sure.
Lane: I loved him and I wanted to grasp out and touch them. Yet I was
afraid. The day of Mr. Swent 's funeral I walked back and forth
past your house. I told Langan this. I walked back and forth
because I knew Evelyn was there, or I thought she was there. I
felt so sure that she was there.
Swent: She was.
Lane: I wanted to see her. I looked at the cars and I knew the funeral,
and how close they were when I lived there. I wanted so badly,
just to touch you people, to know thatand yet I was afraid. But
I was so happy to have you near because I loved the family so in
Swent: It is too bad that we couldn't have known.
Lane: Oh, I had worked so hard. I had tried seven times to get away and
I'd made it. I must keep my mouth shut. Then I would just walk
back and forth. I never will forget that day.
Swent: It is too bad that we didn't know.
Lane: I was bold enough before it was known who I was. I came up to your
house one day.
Swent: Yes, I remember you came up with--
Lane: I even got bold enough to come up there with some message, I don't
know something or another. [laughing]
Swent: You came up a couple of times.
Lane: I was twice. Once after I got my freedom. Once before I was even
bold enough- -here I loved Langan when he was little. We played
chess. And he would always beat me. Then we would go swimming
together. Sometimes Evelyn and sometimes Larry went too. They
would be down over the weekend.
Recalling a Party with the Morels in Mexico
Lane: I went once, up to Evelyn's and Larry's and doctor couldn't make
it. He had a mastoid operation to do. He couldn't go. I went up
Swent: Up to the mine?
Lane: Yes, up to the mine on a horse. We had a lovely dinner but we had
drinks before dinner. They had just got a shipment in, all kinds
and a little book on how to mix them. Larry mixed a drink. Evelyn
mixed a drink. They told me to mix a drink. I went in and looked
at this little book. At about the time I had two drinks I was
getting blurry eyed.
I saw this Barbary Coast. I thought, oh, that sounds wicked,
Barbary Coast. It was a jigger of whisky and a jigger of cream.
You put cream in it. I don't know what else was in it, a Barbary
Coast. Anyhow, I mixed that. We drank that. Then I ate a big
supper. They had a Chinaman cook too. We had a delicious dinner.
Right after dinner, we danced. They had a victrola. Larry would
dance with Evelyn, then he would dance with me, then he would dance
with Evelyn, then he would dance with me. We called my husband up,
down at the hospital. He said, "I bet none of you can call me an
hour from now." We didn't. We were ready to go to bed.
I said, "Evelyn, I can't make it upstairs. Can I sleep in
Larry's bed and he can go upstairs?" She said yes that I could. I
sat down on the bed, on Larry's bed. I was taking off my
stockings. Larry sat down beside me. Of course, he had more
drinks than I had. He reached over and kissed me.
She said, "I saw you! I saw you, Larry! I saw you kissing
"Oh, I'm sorry. I'm sorry. What is she doing in my bed?" He
thought I was Evelyn.
She said, "I saw you. I hate you, Larry. I hate you."
He said, "I'm going to kill myself. I'm going to kill myself.
What is she doing in my bed? I'm going to kill myself."
[laughing] I got sick. I got awfully sick to my stomach. I
didn't take my dress off yet. I had a cute, little, white sports
dress with a great, big, green scarf about this big, I had gotten
in Mazatlan. It was a pretty thing. You tie it in a bow here and
it comes down on the shoulder here. Kind of lopsided. I got sick
to my stomach and I wanted to go to the bathroom and throw up.
Evelyn wouldn't let me into the bathroom. [laughing] She held the
door. She said, "I hate you! I hate you. I saw you kiss Ruth."
He said, "I'll go kill myself. She has got to get in there.
She is sick."
She wouldn't open the door. Finally she opened the door. She
came out and they had a fight. Oh boy, did they have a fight. He
went and got his gun, out of his boot, in the closet. He got this
gun. He said, "I'm going to kill myself."
"No you're not! No you are not!" She was clawing at him.
She grabbed a pitcher of water and she hit him over the head,
[laughing] He fell down. I thought, I don't care if you do kill
yourself. [laughing] I was so sick. I ran out on the porch, out
on the back steps there. The wind was just blowing up there on the
mountaintops. It was blowing, and my scarf blew around here, the
beautiful, new scarf. I was just urping and it got all over the
scarf, all full of vomit. It was awful.
When I got in, Larry was gone. I went to sleep. I didn't
care then what happened. Because I threw up and I wanted to sleep.
The next morning, she was stewing around in the bedroom. I said,
"Where is Larry?"
She said, "I've been upstairs messing your bed up to make the
maid think that you slept in it."
I said, "Where is he?"
She said, "I drug him out there in the living room." He was
out in the living room. She said, "I ran upstairs and I messed
your bed up so the maid would think that you slept in it." The
next day we were very solemn and very quiet because we all drank
too much that night.
Here came my husband. He said, "This is the sorriest slumber
party I've ever seen."
Swent: Well, it was plenty jolly the night before.
Lane: Oh boy, I'll tell you. Evelyn was jealous of Larry. She adored
Swent: Maybe she had reason to be jealous.
Lane: Well, maybe so. Maybe I had a few drinks and he wanted to kiss me
because I was sitting in his bed. Maybe he thought I was Evelyn.
We never drank at the Swents ' .
Swent: No, they weren't big drinkers.
Lane: I never had a drink at their place. One time she made me some good
tomato soup out of cold tomatoes . She pureed them through a
strainer, a sieve. There was no seeds or pulp. Just nice, just
the consistency of soup, though. There was no cream in it.
Swent: No, they weren't heavy drinkers, I don't think.
Lane: I never saw then drink. But Larry and Evelyn did. I remember she
had a very prettyshe told me that her grandfather was a sea
captain. It was a threeit was the first time I had ever seen a
three-piece mirror. It had sides on it and then the front. You
could see your side either way. It was very pretty.
Swent: She had some beautiful things.
Lane: Her mother took her to Europe every two or three years.
Swent: You were telling about Evelyn's trousseau that she had. She had
been to France or to Europe with her mother. And had beautiful
Lane: Gorgeous clothes. She lost a baby before she had one. She went
into labor and they brought her down on a stretcher. I think on
the cable but I'm not sure. I know they brought her down on a
Swent: You said the first time she came up to the mine with her beautiful
clothes and they were in boxes or suitcases
Lane: By mule, on muleback or a burro, a mule I think. They floated off
Swent: They had to cross the river that runs
Lane: Yes, they crossed the river and her suitcases floated downstream.
Got all of her beautiful evening gowns and all her beautiful stuff
Swent: Oh, what a shame. That was kind of a poor beginning, wasn't it?
Lane: Wasn't that though? There was some woman up there at the mines, it
was before my time. I don't know who it was. But Mrs. Swent told
me this. She said, "Well, where did you get your beautiful?"
Something or other Evelyn had from Paris.
Evelyn said, "From Paris."
She said, "Paris, Texas?"
"No," she said. I don't think she even knew there was a
Swent: I remember Evelyn had some reproduction marble statues. Do you
Lane : No .
Swent: That she had bought. They were up there. They were marble
reproductions of very famous sculptures that she had. It was kind
of startling to come into this house in Mexico and see these
beautiful art objects. They were lovely.
Lane: She had taste.
Swent: Yes, she did.
Lane: She used to set Ursula's hair. I remember that.
Swent: It must have been hard for all of you women, to come from the
Lane: To not have a beauty parlor or anything. I know one weekend I was
down there. I was at your mother-in-law's. Evelyn was there.
Evelyn had set your mother's hair.
Swent: Oh really? She had very pretty hair.
Lane: Yes, I remember her setting it.
Swent: So they came down from the mine on weekends?
Lane: Yes, they were very close friends when I was there.
Life with the Blemmers at Green Valley Farm
Swent: So then, let's jump back again because you told me this but we
didn't have it on tape. You said Mrs. Rawlings came out for lunch
with you at Green Valley Farm, and Nora, her housekeeper.
Lane: That's when the police came and picked me up.
Swent: Just drove up out of the blue?
Lane: Drove up out of the blue, called me out at the gate. They said
they wanted to talk to me. I excused them and--
Swent: I guess you should explain why you were out there. Mrs. Nichols
had died and you stayed on.
Lane: I stayed one year
Swent: --with the dogs, [laughing]
Lane: with the dogs. I went to Oakland College of Medical Assistants.
I went in the mornings because the house was for sale by
appointment only. It was by Mrs. Blum's ex- son- in- law, Grubb. He
was showing it. He would call me up when somebody wanted to see
it. So I showed it in the afternoons. So I didn't have anything
to do in the mornings .
I asked Mr. Nichols if he cared if I went to the Oakland
College of Medical Assistants. He said, "No, I think that is
fine." As old as I was, there I was in my sixties, sitting in the
class with young people twenty years old. I graduated.
My teacher lived in Diablo. Her name was Gertsen. They had
about three lots in Diablo. They had the cutest little dog. He
was the same kind of a dog that Judy Garland had in The Wizard of
Swent: A scotty?
Lane: With the hair?
Swent: A terrier sort of thing?
Lane: Yes. Its name was Toto, just like her dog, like Judy Garland's.
Mrs. Gertsen was crying because she said, "We are getting an
apartment over in Alameda and we can't have a dog." She said, "You
love your two little dogs so much, I wonder if you would like to
have another one." Mrs. Blemmer said I could. So I had Nicky and
Cutie and Toto.
Mrs. Blemmer took them every day, all the dogs, up to the post
office. She took her own little Muffy, and she took either Jake or
Prince and my three little dogs. They would all climb into the car
and go with her at the time she wanted to go the post office in
Diablo. She had her mailbox up at Diablo and doctor had his down
in Danville. But she would drive up there and the little dogs all
knew it was time to go too. They all loved to go.
Swent: You were very happy there, weren't you?
Lane: Yes, I was so happy.
Swent: Watering, how many hundred rose bushes?
Lane: I watered 165 rose bushes.
Swent: Were you the housekeeper at their house as well?
Lane: Yes. But I didn't work there hard like I did. Well, 1 did work
hard there too. Probably harder in a way because of all that
watering. When our water was rationed- -they had a big swimming
pool and it evaporated very fast.
[I got a card from Lois Ann on my birthday. She said, "Doesn't
this gate look like the one on Green Valley Farm?" The picture of
the girl looks like some of my mother when she was young. She
said, "This looks so much like the picture of that gate." It comes
up all like this and had roses over it. In the background were
lilac trees that they had out at the swimming pool. It sure does.
When Lois Ann was born, her grandfather, he was just crazy
about her. She was so pretty, had violet blue eyes and she was so
pretty. It was the Lindbergh kidnapping and they were so afraid
somebody would kidnap her. They had iron bars put on her windows.
They were still there when I left. Iron bars on the windows there.
There was one ledge of the road in front. The other two, this
play yard in the back. The play yard had wire that went clear down
into the ground. Then it had barbed wire on the tops of it.
Nobody could climb into it and get into her play yard. There were
iron bars on her windows there.
They got a nanny for her, to take care of her. She was Mr.
Nichols ' little princess . When he died he left her the same amount
he willed to his daughter. I know that he gave her more than any
of his other grandchildren.
Did you know that Herman Nichols had an ex-wife that lived
down the street there on King?
Lane: Yes? Do you know her?
Swent: I knew there was a Mrs. Nichols down there. She was a piano
Lane: That was his first wife. She played the piano beautifully.
Swent: Now, Lois Ann, who was Lois Ann?
Lane: She is the daughter's daughter.
Swent: Mrs. Blemmer's daughter?
Lane: Yes, Sonny and Bill were Herman's children.
Swent: By his first wife?
Lane: By his first wife, yes.
Swent: After they sold the house in Piedmont, that's when you moved out to
Green Valley Farm with the Blemmers?
Lane: I used to talk to his first wife when I would go past there.
Swent: I was never in the house but I used to chat with her when I went
for a walk. She was very nice.
Lane: I didn't tell the family, of course. They were bitter against her.
They used to take BillMrs. Nichols would pick him up and take him
Swent: Well, he was her grandson.
Lane: She loved him. She never cared for Sonny, the oldest one. But she
loved the younger one, Bill. She used to take him for drives.
Swent: So, then they drove up and--
Lane: Mrs. Rawlings and Nora were there. We had lunch. I said, "Let's
wait until Mrs. Blemmer gets back."
She said, "If I don't go out now, I'll never get there." And
she wouldn't have.
I said, "All right then, you come tomorrow noon." I made some
cream of tomato soup, some chicken salad, and we had strawberries.
While they were eating, here came these policeman. They said that
they wanted to talk to me.
Capture and a Two-Year Fight for Freedom
Swent: But they didn't know who you were at that time?
Lane: Yes, they did, not for sure. Not until they fingerprinted me and
checked on it.
Swent: It was because of your nephew?
Lane: Yes. They fingerprinted me. I was worried about the two little
dogs. I took them with me. Herman Nichols and his wife came and
got the two little dogs and then they had them at their house. I
showed you the dogs last night.
Swent: Where did they take you then?
Lane: They took me to the jail in--
Swent: Out there near Danville or Alamo? Walnut Creek?
Lane: I didn't think I would ever forget it.
Swent: Santa Rita?
Lane: I didn't like it. So I forgot about it. When you don't like
something you can forget it sometimes very easily. They got back
from Europe. They were on an elevator in Belgium when they saw--
Swent: The Blemmers?
Lane: Yes. They came home. I was buying this car. I hadn't completely
paid for it. They brought that to the jail. They told me that my
car was out there and if I didn't move it in so many hours they
would confiscate it. They were going to have it towed away. So I
said, "Don't touch that car. Don't touch that car."
They wouldn't let me make a phone call. I said, "I want to
call somebody. You have my car out there. Told me you were going
to tow it away and I want to call somebody." No, they wouldn't let
me make any call. So I wrote a note. Told her I was being
released. I told her to call that number and tell then that I
wanted Dr. Blemmer to get that car. So she did; she called. Here
they came, the Blemmers did. I said, "I made two months in
advance, payment on it." He told them they had no business
touching that car. That I was paid two months in advance and so he
paid out the other- -it was his car.
So he got the car. He said it was the best car he ever had.
It was a Ford Galaxy. It was a very heavy car. He liked it. The
winds through a certain area there are very bad. He liked it
because the lighter weight cars are not safe there. He liked that
one for going there.
Yes, they used to take me on picnics, places when I first went
Swent: They were certainly good to you.
Lane: Oh, they were.
Swent: You were brought down here then, to Arizona, weren't you? They
came down and testified for you?
Lane: Oh, they came right here to Phoenix. They even paid for the fare
of Mrs. Gertsen, my teacher at school. You see, I had to be
declared sane. My teacher at schoolthey paid her expenses over
here. Mr. Patmont was coming. He promised to come, but he didn't
get there. I don't know whether his firm didn't want him to come
or what it was. He did write a letter on my behalf. He said he
was coming but then he didn't come.
I went to see them after I got my freedom. When I got my
freedom I went over to visit with Mrs. Patmont. Oh, those people
who bought Mother Nichols 1 house, do you remember them?
Swent: The first people that bought it were Arlene and Bill Smith.
Lane: When I got my freedom, I went to their house with some toys for the
children, that I had made. In the prison I made a bunch of toys.
I made a pa jama bag, like a frog. I made that. I made a monkey
out of socks. I dressed them. You get those socks with the red
heel and you dress them. There are certain parts you cut for their
Swent: You were able to get those things?
Lane: Yes, I made a lot of them. They were sold to help girls who were
getting out and had no clothes.
Swent: How long were you down here then?
Lane: It was two years before I got my freedom. I'm not too crazy
Swent: Oh, really? I didn't remember that it was that long.
Lane: Yes, it was two years before the governor made up his mind.
Swent: Which governor was that?
Swent: When did the woman governor come in?
Lane: Rose Mofford? She came in after that.
Swent: She was later? I see. But Williams is the one who actually signed
your pardon then?
Lane: He was on a boat. He left immediately after that
because he didn't want newspaper men- -he left in the night. He
didn't want newspaper men bothering him. He was on that boat, and
who was sitting right next to him at the captain's table? The
woman who lives on the corner down there, where the garden is.
Swent: Crocker and Hampton?
Swent: Mrs. Miller- -her name was at that time, I think.
Lane: It had been Sue something, that was Mrs. Nichols 1 cousin. Sue-
something or another. I know they had a beautiful wedding there,
one of her daughters or granddaughters, I don't know which. They
had it all decorated with gardenias from Hawaii, floating in the
water. Garlands of flowers across there was an arch bridge that
went over that pond. Have you ever been inside?
Swent: Just looked inside, yes.
Lane: There was a pond there and an arched bridge over it. The railing
had flowers all around it. They had an arch for where she was
married. They went over this bridge together, to the other side
and married over there. Mrs. Nichols had the most gorgeous, white
satin pillow, or pillows. I don't know which now. I know I
carried them, but I don't know which. We went down there with
these pillows that they kneeled on when they were being married.
It was so pretty, that patio, so beautiful.
All these flowers from Hawaii. They had garlands of orchids.
They had pikake--those garlands that are so fragrant. They had
gardenias floating in the water. It was the most beautiful setting
for a wedding. It was Mrs. Nichols 1 relatives, but I carried the
cushions down. I don't remember if it was one or two cushions.
Swent: Then you went back and had some more happy years?
Lane: Yes, I did. Went back to the Blemmers. I was there just two days
and Mrs. Rawlings came to the party--! mean to the lunch that she
wanted to. The Blemmers had an old caretaker, an old colored man
and his wife. Abe Slaughter and his wife. I had to let them know
that I was going to be gone so that they would lock up after the
Rawlings left. I had to go with them.
Swent: You were responsible for the place?
Lane: I had to lock up. I guess that the Nichols went first to get my
little dogs. Got them from the station. Then the Blemmers got
back from Europe. They were in Belgium when they read it. I've
got lots of papers that they wrote in my behalf, copies of them.
Swent : They were good people .
Lane: I've even got a copy of a letter that Bill wrote. Sonny was her
favorite. She never cared for Bill at all. Sonny is a much bigger
man than Bill. Bill is a small man. Bill had two daughters, Penny
and Jennifer. Well, her name was Penelope, but they called her
Penny, and Jennifer. I saw a card the other day, that they wrote
to me. "We are praying for you at Christmas time." Signed Bill,
and whatever his wife's name- -forgotten it right now, and Penny and
Jennifer. They drew on it. They drew it themselves. They made
their own cards. It is on a brown, heavy paper. It is deep brown.
It's a little house, I think.
I wish that I had my pictures in order to show you some of
Swent: How did you get acquainted with Rose Mofford?
Lane: She was just a girl in high school. She was very brilliant. I was
very proud of her. She made one hundred every day, in every
subject at high school. She was very bright. I spoke about that
once in front of her. She said, "Well, it wasn't a very big high
school." She certainly was modest. She is a very quick thinker.
Swent: She became governor?
Lane: Yes. She worked for the government from the time she was about
seventeen or eighteen. She worked as the secretary for the
secretary of state, Wesley Bollin. He was secretary of state for
years and years. She worked for him.
Swent: Marian, I just noticed it is after twelve. Have you missed your
Lane: Oh, yes. We've got to go eat. Let's go.
IX FURTHER RECOLLECTIONS OF MEXICO
The Maids at Matehuala
Swent: We're resuming the interview now.
Lane: Every Monday Dona Nicha, it's the name of our laundress. She was
the dearest old lady. I have her picture down in that box
someplace. I wish I had this all organized when you came. I wish
I had. Anyhow, here she would come with her bird cage. She had
her mockingbird in there. Her face was brown, and very wrinkled.
She wore those voluptuous, long skirts.
She would wash on a washboard, on a tub on my back porch. She
had a tub way in the back that she boiled the clothes in. They
boiled everything in those days. She would boil all the white
clothes, the sheets and white underwear and everything. That was
boiled. She washed by hand.
We used a Mexican soap which was very, very good. It was very
good. I have a bar of it now! In some place, among my things.
They used resin in their soap. That is very good somehow. They
have very, very good soap. She would wash them on the washboard.
She put the pot to boil and then she rinsed them. Then in the
rinse wash used some bluing. We had to carry our water. We were
quite saving on it, you know. It had to come up on a train. Then
she would drythe other girl would dry--no, she would dry. She
ironed part of it.
Swent: This was at Matehuala?
Lane: It was at Matehuala.
Swent: Everything had to be ironed, I suppose?
Lane: Yes, everything was ironed, everything. I had the most wonderful
girl as a cook. Her name was Ladislao, I think. Have you ever
heard that name? I've never heard but one person.
Swent: No, I don't think so.
Lane: I never heard but that one person ever named that. She was a
wonderful, wonderful cook. She was trained by the wife of the
mayor of Nome, Alaska. She had been trained by her. She was
sweet. People could influence her. But she was a very wonderful
girl. She had a boyfriend that she adored and she had a baby by
him. They were not married. The mayor's wife of Nome lived next
door. They told her, "You've made a mistake in your life. But
just don't let it happen again."
It went on for sometime. Poor Ladislao, although he didn't
marry her, she was still crazy about him. She was pregnant again
and she lost her job. They let her go. She went down to
Matehuala, to her mother's. Well, her mother gave her a beating
for losing her job. They don't often strike their children. The
Mexicans just never strike their children, never. They are really
quite well-behaved children. They never strike a child. I heard
that her mother gave her a beating and she lost the baby. She was
selling vegetables in the market then, to eke out a living for her,
and her mother, and her little boy. So the Chinaman cook, at the
mines, ran off with the maid at the hospital. They didn't have
anybody. They were desperate for help. So the manager's wife, of
the mines, Mrs. Reyer, knew that she was a wonderful cook. So they
got her cooking in the place of the Chinaman.
Lane: I had Latin in high school, so it was quite easy to learn because
so many of the verbs are Spanish, like amar: amo, amas, amat;
portar: porto, portas, portat. A lot of the verbs are of the Latin
base. So it was very easy.
Until my house was all furnished, it had been repainted and
refurnished, we stayed in a room over at the hospital, my husband
and I. We were going to the clubhouse to eat. I had my husband
write on a piece of paper what I wanted to eat. Well, Ladislao
couldn't read either English or Spanish. She was so patient with
me, trying to tell her what I wanted to eat. I liked her then
very, very much. She would serve my meal to me at the clubhouse.
Sometime later we had a girl temporarily. Of course, I
couldn't speak Spanish and she got very angry with me one day.
You don't say, "How old are you?" They say, "How many years do you
have?" I wanted to know how old she was. I said how, instead of
cuantos anos tiene.
Swent: Oh, you said, [in unison] How old you are!
Lane: She got angry. She got very angry. How old you are. Me following
her around saying that, que vieja esta. Yes, I said that to her
and she got angry with me. Just at that time- -well, she quit then,
for calling her an old woman. That was awful. That was awfully
That very time though, Ladislao, as the cook up at the
Chinaman's clubhouse, she was pregnant. She had gone into labor
and almost died. They called the doctor to come quickthat she
had been in labor for a couple of days. He went up to the
hospital. She was just almost gone because it was a breech
presentation. He turned the baby and delivered it. Her little boy
was so frightened that he was screaming over in the corner.
Anyhow, he delivered the baby.
He told the other girls--she was the chief cook there. He
told the other girls, the maids who took care of the rooms at the
clubhouse, he told them to give her certain things to eat, soups
and so forth, and that she was to stay in bed for several days.
She had lost so much blood too.
I was getting ready to go to a bridge party down in Matehuala
which was seven miles down in the valley. There was a knock on the
door and I went. Here it was Ladislao. She said, "Would the senor
doctor hire me? They fired me at the clubhouse for having a baby."
My husband swore; oh, he could swear too, sometimes.
He swore and he said, "Who fired her!" She said it was the
head American up at the clubhouse. My husband never forgave him
for that, never. Wouldn't even let me have him for dinner in the
house, or anything. He was so angry.
He said, "For any engineer, or anybody up there to fire that
girl for having a baby, in this country, when I'm treating half of
the fellows up there for a dose of gonorrhea!" He was so angry
that they would do what they wanted to do and yet they would fire--
he said, "You know these Mexicans down here just do what comes
naturally. To fire that poor girl ," she had suffered so
terribly, she almost died. He was so angry. He said, "Tell her
yes, that I will hire her. But I want her to go to bed
I told her. I could speak enough words to tell her that. Or
maybe he told her. Anyhow, she was to go to bed immediately. He
asked those other girls to be sure that she got some food. I was
on my way to a bridge party. Do you know, when I came home from
that bridge party, what that girl had done? She had ironed all the
clothes that Dona Nicha hadn't got done. Ironed! When I got home
she had finished the ironing. She got along all right.
Oh, I know what he said, my husband, when he hired her. He
told me to tell her, but I think he must have told her because I
couldn't really speak enough Spanish. He must have told her. I
know this was told to her, that yes, he would be glad to hire her.
Just, that he would hire her, but he didn't want the little boy.
That little boy that had made him nervous in the corner, screaming
that his mother was dying. He said, "I don't want her little boy.
Her little boy will live with her mother. We will pay her twice as
much as any other girl here so that will cover expenses for the
grandmother to take care of the little boy. Tell her, just so she
keeps the baby from crawling around on the kitchen floor. I don't
want to have to step over babies crawling on the kitchen floor."
So we hired a little maid girl, from down in the caves. She
was a twelve-year-old, a fourteen-year-old girl. I guess that one
was fourteen years old. She was a fourteen-year-old girl. Her
name was Isabella. She was cute. She had a round face, of course.
She had sparkling eyes. She always flattered my husband, which
pleased him very much. She could have anything that she wanted.
He would always bring the biggest apple or the biggest orange, that
he would see in market, and bring it home to her. We adored her.
We paid her a small salary and room and board and paid the cook
twice as much as any other one there. I caught it from that.
Some of the American women said, "I don't think it is right that
you pay your girl twice as much. It makes our girls unsettled."
I said, "My girl works twice as hard as your girls. The
doctor has to have his breakfast. Then he is busy over at the
hospital. Maybe he will come home and just have a very light
lunch. Then maybe he can't eat until way late at night. Your
girls--you have your big meal at noon, for your husbands. We have
our big meal at night. That is the way he wants it. So my girl
works from early in the morning, through the day, and then has to
have the big dinner at night. So she works twice as hard as your
girls. So I am going to pay her twice as much."
Well, that caused a little friction among them. I didn't
care. It was the right thing. We did what we felt was right.
Then I got pregnant and I lost my baby. She was so sweet to me. I
had pernicious vomiting. I would get up off the bed to go to the
bathroom to vomit. I would faint. Here I would come to and she
would be washing my face off with cold water. "Pobrecita, mi
senora, pobrecita," washing my face off. Or she would be dragging
me back to bed, and she was a little thing. I just adored her. I
have reasons to like the Mexicans .
Swent: Did your girls live there? Did they sleep at your place?
Lane: We had the most unique arrangement there. We were on the side of
the mountain. To keep our house from washing off, they had built a
rock fence around it. A great, big, rock fence, hundreds of rocks.
We had just a little front yard. As big as a dime. In the back,
it was right up against the mountain, it was just a little porch
They had a cave built back in there. That was our store room.
It was cool back in there. We had a refrigeratoror an icebox,
rather, I should say, an icebox. We got our ice about twice a
week, I think, from Matehuala, seven miles down. We had great
shelves back there. We kept all of our canned goods. We women
that lived there, all the time, would get a case of string beans, a
case of peas, and a case of tomatoes. We would divide it between
the four families, see. We put them on the shelves in the back.
We had a great, iron rod. We would put our bacon and our hams up
We had a great, big olla, I don't know why we put it in there.
It was a little bench like this, with a hole cut in the center,
like the good, old fashioned toilets. This great big olla sat
there full of water. It was very cold, even though in the cave it
evaporated. Then, we had this icebox.
Oh, where did the servants live? I will tell you that. There
was a little porch. There was just a little distanceabout that
much between the porch and the door that went into this cave.
Just a little distance. There were steps that went up the side of
the mountain, wooden steps up the side of the mountain. Up there
was a levelled-off space. There were three servant's cottages up
there. So my girl
Swent: Did they have their own bathroom?
Lane: Yes, their own. They went up there. The company furnished their
linen for them. They furnished our place too, all of it. So
that's where she lived, and the little nurse maid for the baby.
She carried her baby around all day in her arms or with a rebozo
wrapped around it. The baby's name was Teresita, little Teresita.
A maid, one of the other people- -the nurse over at the
hospital at the time was Spanish. The maid that she had was she
ran off with the Chinaman. He brought her back. He said she was
no good. She couldn't have any children. She had a baby after he
brought her back. She just adoredof coursethe maid's baby.
She bought it everything under the sun, dressed it. Well, I loved
this baby that we had Ladislao had. So I used to dress it. Well,
she got angry over that. I had problems too.
Swent: Little jealousy?
Lane: Yes, it was jealousy. Well, I loved to get little, pretty things
for the baby. I loved that baby. Teresita my husband liked her,
she was cute. He would buy her all these special things. She
would always meet him at the gate, to see that the gate was open.
She would see him coming up the mountainside, with the car. She
would always open the gate for him. He would have an apple or an
orange or something for her.
When my girl it was her day off, her name was Isadora,
Isadora would help me. I didn't get another girl to come in.
Isadora would help me. She would wash up the dishes and things
like that, usually. The doctor- -she liked to do things for him.
She would come in there were swinging doors there. She would come
in and say excuse me, pero este es por senor doctor. She would
come in and bring him a gorgeous salad that she had made. It was
terrible, what she would do. She would fix cottage cheese and
canned pineapple on it. She would sprinkle it with nuts. Lettuce
leaves underneath; it was a beautiful salad. "This is for the
doctor, senor doctor".
These nuts, I didn't know, I didn't have any nuts. It didn't
enter my mind where she was getting them. My little Isadora was
stealing the nuts from my next door neighbor. She was going in
there, into their cave and getting nuts. One day Mrs. Watts came
to me, she said, "Do you know what? That little Isadora of yours
is stealing my lard." She had lard in a can out there.
I said, "Well, I don't know what she would be stealing your
She said, "Well, she is. She is stealing my lard. I see her
little, tiny hand prints down in the lard." So then she told me
that nuts were disappearing. I knew that little Isadora was doing
it. Her brother-in-law was a mozo for the manager, I guess. He
gave her a thrashing for stealing. Anyhow, I took her little
sister then, to be my nurse maid. She wasn't nearly as good. Not
nearly as good.
My husband had told Isadora, "All right, you learn to cook,
and when we go back to the United States we will take you with us,
if you learn to cook." Poor little thing, she was stealing stuff
to make him special things. I felt terrible over it.
there's high times and there were troubled times.
Did you ever hear- -I didn't do it myself, but did you ever
hear of an American who would send to the store wanting to buy some
eggs. They would send back the note, no hay [in Spanish], h-a-y,
no hay. They said, "Well, isn't that funny. The stores don't have
any eggs because they don't have any hay," no hay [in Spanish].
That was a joke of course.
Did you ever hear this joke about the American? They came
down there and he went to a restaurant. He ordered something and
he ate it all, wanted to pay. He said, "Como mucho". What he was
saying was, I ate much. She said, "Si, seiior, I'll bring some
more." She went and got him some more. He ate it but he wanted to
know, well he said, "Como mucho?". He looked the Spanish words up,
how much. Como is how.
Swent: But it is also, I eat.
Lane: I eat, I eat much. Si. sefior. si. Somebody had to tell him that
you say, Cuanto vale, what's the value or Cuanto cuesta. how much
does it cost. You don't translate the words literally. Not word
Swent: Mexicans are very patient usually, about these mistakes.
Lane: Yes, they are, they are usually very, very patient. That is why I
like them. Well, that's one reason. There's lots of reasons. I
like them and I understood them after my girl got angry with me for
putting the wrong words together. Telling her, how old you are.
That was awful, that was my terrible boo-boo in Spanish. Another
American's boo-boo was, I eat much, instead of how much. Anther
was no hay.
Swent: Well, your Spanish has been a help to you in Arizona.
Lane: I just do it because I love it, or I want them to feel happy,
that's all. It's to make peopleI'm happy, they're happy.
Swent: They appreciate it.
Lane: I think they do. They know I like them. They come around to me
and pat me on the shoulders and talk to me whenever they can.
There is nothing they wouldn't do for me, hardly. I like them.
They feel that I like them, that's all. And I like them. But I
like most people.
Swent: You certainly have a talent for making friends.
Well, I wonder if there is anything else? It seems to me that
we have covered things pretty well.
Lane: Oh, I have got to tell you more about my dear, old Dona Nicha. How
I love those people, really, truly. Dona Nicha every so of ten- -she
would dry her hands off on her apron. She would talk to her little
mockingbird. She would get him to whistle. I mean she would
whistle to him and he would sing back to her. Oh, she was so
sweet. She would just talk to that bird, or whistle to it. Her
face just a wreath of smiles.
The Church at Catorce
Lane: She had shoes. She went on a pilgrimage over the mountain. They
went over to Catorce. Have you ever heard of the oldest mines in
Mexico, the Catorce mines? They are right over the mountain from
Matehuala. There is a ravine that goes up there. You go up that
ravine, climb over the mountain. I don't know how long it took
them to do that.
Catorce is such an interesting city. It has the richest
silver minesnot as rich as Tayoltita. But they were very rich
silver mines. It was so rich, but it is a very religious place. I
don't know how they ever built it. To get there you have to go to
this ravine and walk over the mountain. Or you have to go way
around, at least thirty miles around. I've got pictures of winding
as you go up the mountain. There is a tunnel that goes through
there. You go through, you get out of your car. You get on a
donkey-driven cart that has about three people on each side,
besides the driver. They drive through this tunnel. Half way
through the tunnel there is a little shrine with lights, and their
colored papers. You come out on the other side. Here there is a
great, big cathedral, an enormous cathedral. It has glass caskets,
like a coffin, all glass. There were at least two, maybe more.
They aren't real. But here is this cathedral.
Swent: What happens there?
Lane: I don't know, now. I was told that people that had moneythat
they were buried under the floor, in the shrine, in this cathedral.
That is on one side. Then you look over the other way and here is
an enormous home, almost like a castle. Yes, it is like a castle.
It has a watchman's tower. It has a three-sided watchman's tower.
They can look out. Here is this enormous floor, or castle. It is
two or three floors high. It has sunken bathtubs in it. We went
over there and stayed all night.
Some of the engineers of the American Smelting and Refining
Company were sent in there to do some geology. Geologists were
sent in there. They were sent in there to test the grade of the
ore. Asarco was thinking about maybe doing something with it.
They invited us over there. So doctor and I and the chief clerk
for the company and his wife, who was a bride, we went over. We
went in on this little cart with somebody driving it. They have
blinkers on the donkey for some reason. I remember he had these
Lane: We came down on the train from the United States, down to a place
called Venegas, I think it was. We had to change trains there to
go to Matehuala, where the mines were, American Smelting and
Refining Company. The main train goes on, past Catorce, on down to
Mexico City. It is right close to Venegas on the main route to
Mexico City. We had to change cars there at Venegas to go to
Matehuala. It could be found very easily.
It [Catorce] is the most ancient and most interesting place.
There are just hundreds of little houses that are all caving in.
Their roofs are all gone. A lot of the adobes are washed away. It
used to be a place of, they said, ten thousand. It is about one
hundred people living in Catorce, that's all. This castlemust
have been Spanish that owned it originally. They built this
enormous castle. It has a watchtower--! told you--a place for a
watchman. It is a very secure place. As I said, they have sunken
Swent: Is that where you stayed overnight?
Lane: Overnight, yes. The American geologists, or engineers were staying
there. They had been sent by Asarco down there to test the grade
of the ore and everything. They had a bell that was stolen during
the revolution, Pancho Villa's I think. There was a beautiful gold
frame--! don't know what it was of, Christ or what. But there was
a gold frame on a picture that was stolen. Some said it was
stolen. Some said that the priests had hid it to keep it from
being stolen. It wasn't there any more.
The Fear of Pancho Villa, a Wicked Man
Swent: Was Pancho Villa still marauding there at this time?
Lane: No, that was after Pancho Villa. I went there the year after
Pancho Villa. I think it was about a year afterwards. The manager
of our mines, Mr. Elliot Reyer and his wife, were very wonderful
people. So kind to me. His wife's name was Emily. Their daughter
Helen, Elenita, was out in the United States. They had a little
boy; I forget his name. Two of their oldest children were out in
the United States in school in Colorado, I believe. The little
boy, four years old, was home. I told you how his father was
worried about him getting in the medicine cabinet.
When Elenita, the oldest girl, was a tiny baby, their first
child, Pancho Villa had been in the mines. He had come up to the
mines from Matehuala. The Americans had to hide in caves in the
mountain there, in the mines. He [Mr. Reyer] said, "If they get
me, with this pistol I want you to shoot the baby first and then
Swent: Mr. Reyer gave his wife this pistol?
Lane: He gave her the pistol. She told me that herself. He said, "If
they get me," he didn't want Pancho Villa getting her, "shoot the
baby and then yourself." That's what fear they lived under with
When I went on this tour a few years ago, that Mrs. Blemmer
gave me, twenty-three day trip on the Pullman, we went up and down
and criss-crossed Mexico. I didn't know they were going to go to
his [Pancho Villa's] widow's home in Chihuahua. We got there and
it was fifty cents a tour. I wouldn't go in. I was the only one
that sat on the bus. I would not go in. I wouldn't give Pancho
Villa or any member of his family fifty cents, for that wicked man.
Because people that I loved had such fears that they would have to
shoot their baby or themselves. I wouldn't give fifty cents to any
of them. But the Americans all went in there. Didn't mean
anything to them. It meant a lot to me, having lived down there.
Pancho Villa--! never saw him. There was no trouble with him
when I went there. About a year before there had been. I think it
was about a year or so before. My cousin, I have a picture of him
on this table. She married a Doctor Chapman. She lived over in
Laredo. Her husband was a doctor with Pershing.
Swent: Yes, you had mentioned that. So he was chasing-
Lane: Chasing Pancho Villa.
Swent: There was another rebel named Carranza. Did you hear about him
Lane: Yes, I've heard about him. I didn't see him. Wasn't he executed?
Swent: I think so. But things were quiet when you were at Matehuala?
Lane: Yes, very nice. I was perfectly free. My husband said, "I don't
worry about them. These Mexicans all know me. They would never
hurt her. They would never touch her."
This Spaniard and his bride--he said, "It is dangerous for my
wife and your wife to go out horseback riding. It is dangerous.
One of these Mexicans will get them and hold them for ransom."
My husband said, "They won't touch my wife. They know me and
they know that I know that they will never touch my wife." So he
told me that I could go. I loved everybody all over the country. I
never met a one of them down there I don't thinkthat I didn't
like except that fellow that rode on horseback and gave my husband
stuff. I told you- -that beautiful, white horse from the pharmacy
over in- -came over from the drugstore after I had my husband well
for several weeks . That is the only one that I can think of down
"One of the Few Times I was Ever Afraid"; Difficulty at the Border
Lane: One time at the border, but I couldn't even see his face, it was so
dark. One time I came up from Mexico and the bridge was closed.
The train couldn't get across. I couldn't get across. They let
all the train crew across. I was the lone passenger on that train.
They wouldn't let me across. I argued with them. I said, "I can't
stay here in Juarez all night. I've got to get across the border.
You let all the train crew go across, and I'm the only passenger.
I want to cross. I can't stay here."
The bridge had closed at ten o'clock. I argued with the
fellow on the bridge. I had my suitcase with me. I said, "I'm
going to sit here on my suitcase all night long then because I am
He said, "There is a hotel up there." I told him that I was
afraid to go to the hotel.
I told him, "I will sit here on the bridge with you all night
and wait to get across." Finally I went up to the hotel. I was so
scared. It was behind a bank, and over a bank. You went up some
steps behind a bank and the offices were right on the first floor.
I said, "Give me a room the closest to the office that you
have." They took me up one flight. I locked the door and I pushed
the dresser over in front of the door. I pried the mirror back and
stuck my money in between the mirror and the back, and left the
lights on and prayed for morning to come. I was that afraid.
Swent: Afraid of being robbed? Was that it?
Lane: Well, yes, and afraid of staying in that border town all by myself.
That was one of the few times I was ever afraid. I wasn't mad at
anybody in particular, just generally that the bridge was closed.
Why they would let the train crew across and wouldn't let me--the
Swent: The train must have been late.
Lane: It was late. They stopped it for every cow that got on the track.
Yes, that was why. The train was late. They used to stop for the
cows on the track, in those days. I felt safe other times. I had
gone in and out on the trail by myself, even. We lived in another
place that was two days on horseback.
A Gold Mine near Madera. Chihuahua, Two Days on Horseback
Swent: Where was that?
Lane: That was at the gold mines. They were calleddo you know where
Madera, in Chihuahua, is?
Swent : No .
Lane: Those great lumber mills there. It is the end of the line. You
get off at Madera. These gold mines were closing. We were there
only a short time. They were closing. That is when I wrote the
letter. You know? I told you. The mines were closing and my
husband had his application in to some mines. I saw the letter and
I copied it and sent copies to the Continental Railroad Company and
the United Fruit Company. We knew the mines were closing, but it
was a job, temporarily.
Swent: These were gold mines?
Lane: Yes, gold. It was English Limited. We were there such a short
Swent: And you had to ride a mule to get there?
Lane: Oh, yes! I had to ride a mule. I would ride just with one Mexican
guide. Mount Cebadilla, that was the name of the mountain. We
would go up to Mount Cebadilla, to the top of it. There were two
log cabins there. Each of them had at least two rooms, maybe more.
One of them may have had more. I don't know. The one that we
stayed in--I slept in the bedroom. My guide--! had his pallet
across my door.
The mailman used to change there. They used to pass each
other there. The mail going into the mine. They would pass there.
There was a stove there. They would be so cold going up the
mountain that they would stick their feet into the oven to warm
them up. They slept in there.
My guide would sleep across my door. We had carbide lights.
Isn't that an interesting life? Carbide lights and I had a cot in
my room with a mattress on it. There is a little table out there.
I opened my suitcase to get something out of it. Maybe to brush my
hair or something. In the morning when I got up, I thought, well
my goodness, I didn't put a Turkish towel in my suitcase. It was
snow that had come in between the roof and the logs at the top.
It was all on there. I thought it was a Turkish towel over it. So
we would get up early and go down the mountain, Mount Cebadilla.
It was an English Limited gold mine. We had a pretty, little home
there. It was a pretty, little home. I didn't tell you about that
Chinaman that played a trick on me. We ate at the clubhouse some
of the time, on Sundays. At home I cooked--! had parties there.
We got bread from the Chinaman. My husband always liked Chinese.
He wanted me to have a Chinese cook. I said, "Oh, Doctor, I
wouldn't feel at home with a Chinaman- -with a man in my kitchen all
the time. I don't want a Chinaman cook."
He said, "Well, my mother had one. He was wonderful. I would
go in and sneak cookies that he made, like he was going to get me
for stealing his cookies." He just loved the Chinaman.
I said, "Doctor, will you stop past the Chinaman's and get
He said, "Why don't you get your own bread? I'm busy. It
would be good for you to go and get your own bread."
I said, "But those Chinamen don't like me!"
"Oh, you just think that. Why don't you think they like you?"
I said, "Because they honk at me. Whenever you come they
scrape and they bow and they will say, 'Muy bien Doctor. Muy bien.
si senor, si doctor.' They scrape and bow. When I go there and
ask they just honk at me and trot off. I don't like to go down to
the Chinaman ' s to get bread . "
A Cat from the Chinaman
Lane: One day, I wanted a cat. I wanted a pet. I didn't have a pet, or
anything there. There were only two of us American women left
there, two of us. Her husbandyou may have heard of him, his name
is Johnson. They were later caught up in the Philippines. She was
a Globe girl. Her name was Carson before she was married. She
graduated from the University of Tucson. She met this engineer.
They were married and went to Mexico. That's another story later.
She and I were the only two American women there. We all knew the
mines were closing. I wanted a pet. The doctor said, "Sure, you
can have a cat . "
I said, "They have a lot of them down at the Chinaman's." So
we went there to the Chinaman ' s .
He said, "The senora would like one of your cats. I know you
have a lot of cats here. Would you mind letting her have one?"
Oh yes, they would let me have a cat. So he said, "You get
your cat. I will just drive down there and get your cat." I rode
on horseback. I didn't think about the cat trying to get away from
me. I get on a horse with this cat that is scared to death. It
ran away with me, the horse. I held on to the cat. The horse was
scared of the cat and the cat was scared of the horse.
It was clawing me in here. But I held on. The horse ran
away. Ran under a tree, tore my hat off. I had long hair then.
The long hair was flowing through there. Lost all my hairpins.
Tore some of my hair out.
I got to the gate and tethered the horse there and held on to
this cat. I went up the steps to the house, it was steps up to the
house. The cat was still just dug into me. I got into the house
and put it into the bathroom and shut the door. I was all in. I
had to take a nap. When my husband came home he said, "Did you get
I said, "Yes."
He asked, "Where is it?"
I said, "It is in the bathroom. It ran away. The horse ran
away with it. It is in the bathroom."
He said, "Well, listen, I told you that you could have a cat.
I didn't tell you, you could have four cats."
I said, "I didn't. I got one cat."
He said, "There's four here in the bathroom."
That cat, I had scared her so bad she went into labor and had
Oh, one night I went out with a Mexican guide. I went out
with him. It got stormy. It sleeted. There was sleet I told you
about the snow on the suitcase. It was so dark. We went through a
big woods on the side of the mountain. It was so dark that he
would say, "Are you coming, senora?"
I would say, "Yes, I'm coming." He even had to get down and
feel the path with his hands. It was that dark in the forest.
Then we got to this log cabin where we stayed all night. We had
breakfast over in the other log cabin the next day, by carbide
light. Started out early down Mount Cebadilla to Madera. That was
the end of the line.
Then there was another mine close to Madera. When the
Johnsons left, where we were up there at this gold mine, they went
to this little mine out from Madera. I don't even know the name.
I never did know the name of the mine. She probably said it, but I
never remembered where they were going.
Swent: You said they went later to the Philippines?
Lane: They went later to the Philippines. They were caught up in World
War II. I was in the hospital here then, in Phoenix. I read the
papers. I read about them being where they were. In the
Philippines they were captured by--I guess it would be the
Japanese. They were captured by the Japanese and they were put
into a camp there. I used to think of her there because we were
the only two women.
Swent: You must have been pretty close?
Lane: Well, we were good friends, yes. Her name was Johnson after she
married. They had one little girl. Her name was Geraldine.
Swent: Did they survive?
Lane: They survived. They came back to the United States. I wrote her
one letter. I never got an answer and I never tried again.
Recalling the Night of the Tragedy
Lane: The night of the tragedy, her brother lived right across from me in
this apartment. Yes, they were apartments, they would be called
apartments, on Grille Street. He wanted to testify to certain
things he knew. That he saw this wealthy lumberman nearly drag me
off the porch that night. He saw his car, a new one. Anyhow, he
wasn't used at the trial. But the sheriff told me about him.
Swent: He wanted to testify?
Lane: He wanted to testify, but I don't know why. I don't know why. But
the sheriff told me about him. That's one thing, now I'm so afraid
of being known. There was a woman going to have a movie; it would
be on television. I was just sick and tired of it. I think that
movie fell through. I hope it did. I hope it isn't waiting until
after I'm dead.
Swent: If there is anything that you would like to say about this, Marian,
this is a good chance for you, if you want to talk about it. It
would be safely protected.
Lane: When I ran away from the State Hospital once, I told them that I
would come back if they would let me go before a grand jury.
Before that the wardens were both very good to me. The warden
brought me up here. There was a change of politics. The incoming
prosecuting attorney came and talked to me. I went to court. This
wealthy lumberman, Bailor an.
Swent: Was he a friend of yours?
Lane: Yes, he was a friend of the girls next door really. He was a
friend of theirs. They drank quite a bit. I didn't want my
husband to drink. Because I said one step, boy, he would be back
on narcotics. I didn't want him to drink. Well, when they were
drinking over there, they would want us to come and have a drink
with them. We did a few times. I said, "Doctor, we are not going
any more. We aren't going over there anymore."
"Well, why not?" he asked.
"We're not going over there. We'll go downtown. We are going
downtown." We were only a block from the streetcar. I said, "We
are going to stay down there. Then we will walk home."
He said, "No, I'm going over there."
I said, "No, we are not, doctor. We are not going over there
tonight. We'll go down--," I think I took him to a movie. Anyhow,
we got out to the streetcar line.
He said, "Listen, you told me that you had only three cents
left until payday. How do you have enough money to go to a movie?"
I said, "That's right, that's all I have left." Maybe I had the
tokens and that's why I wanted to go to a movie, and three cents.
I must have had the tokens because I wouldn't have that work the
next day. I said, "That's all I have, doctor, these three cents
and these tokens to go on the streetcar. We will use these to go
downtown- -the tokens. Then we will walk home. But we are not
going over there tonight." He whirled around and he was going to
I said, "Listen, doctor, we've got to talk. I've got to talk
to you. I was down before the veteran doctors talking to them.
They offered me--I forget how much it was--if I would have a sanity
hearing for you. I would never go against you in a sanity hearing.
I would never do that. But I can't go on like this, working in the
daytime and you are using Cheracol cough syrup whenever you can get
it. And now, going over there to drink. You cannot because the
next step, you will be back on the hard stuff again. We are not
going over there."
So, I say they were friends, and yet they were destroying my
husband. We stayed home and I cried and cried that night, talking
to him. They came over and knocked on the door. We never answered
it. We didn't turn the lights on. My husband promised he wouldn't
do it any more. My husband never touched me. Never hit me once,
in his life. Never once. He was good to me, when he was all
right, very, very good.
Swent: Was Halloran a friend of your husband's?
Lane: Yes, he was a friend of ours, a drinking friend. This Carson saw
him that night, come over and fairly drag me off the porch. He
heard it. He heard an argument. Why he wasn't used, I don't know.
I ran away. First, when the sheriff had me brought up before the
new prosecuting attorney, I told the whole thing to them. The
judge, his name was Judge Niles, he ruled the state of Arizona has
proven that Mrs. Judd shot in self-defense.
Swent: Where did Halloran come into the picture?
Lane: Well, we had a fight. It was over- -I was going to tell certain
things about them. They were going to tell my husband that I had
gone out with Halloran while he was over on the coast. I told them
that if they said anything like that, that the doctors in the
clinic had questioned me as to whether they were lesbians or not.
I had told them no. But Doctor Sweet had said to me one day, Ann
was sick and he said that he would give one hundred dollars towards
getting her back to Oregon, to some specialists there. But he
said, "Why does she want to sleep with another woman? To me that
is love's labor lost."
I said, "That isn't true. They don't sleep together. Each
one has her own bed. They don't sleep together." They said that
they were going to tell my husband that I had gone out with
Bailor an. I told them that if they ever said one word against me
to my husband, that I would tell the doctors it was true about
them. That is when Sammy came at me with a gun--that if I told
anything like that.
That is how the fight got started. After the fight, I went to
my own home. I had invited him to come over to play bridge. There
was another girl there but I didn't get over there until later.
She was there and she had left by the time I got there. We were
going to play four-handed bridge. Ann was at my house for lunch
that day. At night, it was time to go home, Doctor Franklin came
into the office and said, "Well, it's time to go home, girls."
Ann said, "Are you going my way, maybe I can hitch a ride with
you?" He asked me if I was going home. I said that I had some
more history stuff I had to type up, I wasn't going right now. He
took Ann home that night, Doctor Franklin,
Lane: It was next to the last time when I ran away from the hospital, I
told them that I would come back if they would promise me that I
could go before the Grand Jury. I went before the Grand Jury and
they recommended that I be completely pardoned and released without
any further punishment or embarrassment. Governor Pyle didn't do
that, but he did commute my sentence to life. That was the first
step, to be commuted to life. Then I ran away again. I got to
California and started working. First taking care of a blind lady.
Then the Blemmers wanted me to live with them, work for them. I
had a home the rest of my life.
Swent: It was a long, long, hard road, wasn't it.
Lane: Yes, it was. I had lots of friends all along the way. A lot of
the people in the hospital were good to me. There were several
that weren't. I never understood the doctors that were not nice.
I never understood that. Some were kind to me, good to me and so
Swent: How exactly did you get out of the hospital?
Lane: The nurse gave me a key.
Swent: The nurse gave you a key and you just walked out?
Lane: I had three keys given to me over all the years. Three keys given
to me, from nurses that wanted me out of there. They thought I
ought to be. Anyhow, next to the last timenext to the time that
I got away--I tried to get away, then I had sawed a window to get
away. 1 was caught going down the drainpipe.
Swent: You mentioned that.
Lane: Then a key was given to me and I got away.
Swent: Were the people that gave you the keys ever punished?
Lane: They didn't know it. I didn't tell them. They didn't give me
their personal key. They had an extra made for me. No, nothing
was ever done. A poor nurse that wasn't guilty, they accused her
of leaving the door unlocked. Nobody was ever accused of giving me
a key. They said that she had unlocked the door when she came in.
They asked the nurses of the ward there, who was the last person
through that door. They said the supervisor was. Her name was
Thencamp. They thought that she hadn't locked the door, that was
all. She was innocent of that. I told them later she was
innocent. She didn't leave the door unlocked. I told her that I
had keys to get away. That I had hid it in my little coin purse.
It had a dollar bill across there; nobody thought of looking. Then
it had coins in the other part. Nobody thought of looking behind
the dollar bill.
Swent: Did your brother live to know that you were free?
Lane: My brother knew, yes. Mrs. Blemmer wrote him a letter--! have a
copy of ittelling him that he was welcome to come any time and
stay as long as he wanted to. Their main concern was me, but that
he could come up and visit me and stay with them as long as he
wanted to. But Doctor Blemmer didn't want somebody there. So he
never even spoke to my brother. They would pass each other on the
road, he would be driving in his car, his Mercedes. He never spoke
to my brother. My brother felt very unwanted right there, living
on the property. He wanted to go back down to Riverside. He had
been in real estate there. He had surgery and was very sick. He
had his pancreas out. That is what filters your system. He wasn't
well. But he went down to Riverside and got a little apartment
there. Sweet Mrs. Blemmer got me a couch a sofabed. He had a bed
in his apartment. He had a living room, a bedroom, just a
kitchenette, a small kitchen to eat in. She said, "When you go
down to visit him, you will need a place to sleep." She bought a
couch from Sears and Roebuck, delivered for me to have to sleep on
when I went down there.
I never got there to visit him before he was in the hospital.
I got a call that he was dead.
Swent: Marian, our time is up now. Thank you very much for letting me
interview you about your memories of Mexico.
Transcriber: Lisa Delgadillo
Final Typist: Shana Chen
TAPE GUIDE -- Marian Lane
Interview 1 :
March 18, 1995
tape 1, side B
tape 2, side A
tape 2, side B
Interview 2: March 19, 1995
tape 3, side A
tape 3, side B
tape 4, side A
tape 4, side B
tape 5, side A
tape 5, side B
Interview 3: March 20, 1995
tape 6, side A
tape 6, side B
INDEX- -Marian Lane
Arizona State Hospital, 67-69, 72,
Asarco [American Smelting & Refining
Company], Mexican mining camps,
5-18, 48-52, 99-109
Blemmer, Dr. and Mrs. John E., 50,
Doheny, Edward L., 25-26, 28
Grunow Clinic, Phoenix, AZ, 42, 60-
Guggenheim, Simon, 10
Judd, Dr. William, 1-4, 13-17, 35-
Judd, Winnie Ruth McKinnell, See
Karchner, Judy, 69-70
La Vina Sanitarium, Los Angeles, CA,
in Arizona, 42-47, 58-77, 114-117
in California, 25-26, 78-98
in Indiana, 1-4
in Mexico, 5-25, 27-41, 48-57, 99-
Leff, Dr. M. I., 43-44
Lippincott, Lois Ann B., 92-93
Matehuala, San Luis Potosi, Mexico,
Metzger, Dr. Jeremiah, 69
Mexican revolution of 1920s, 29-30,
Morel, Lawrence and Evelyn F., 24,
32, 34, 87-91
Nichols, Mrs. Henry, 80-84
Nichols, Herman and Dorothy, 82-83
Reyer, Elliot, 5, 15-16, 108
Santa Barbara, Chihuaha, Mexico,
San Luis Mine, Tayoltita, Durango,
Swent, James W. , Sr., and family,
25, 29-30, 32-35, 56-57, 85-86
tuberculosis, treatment in the
1920s, 25-26, 28, 58-60
Williams, Retha, 69-70
Eleanor Herz Swent
Born in Lead, South Dakota, where her father became chief
metallurgist for the Homes take Mining Company. Her
mother was a high school geology teacher before marriage.
Attended schools in Lead, South Dakota, Dana Hall School,
and Wellesley College, Massachusetts. Phi Beta Kappa.
M.A. in English, University of Denver. Assistant to the
President, Elmira College, New York. Married to Langan
Waterman Swent, mining engineer.
Since marriage has lived in Tayoltita, Durango, Mexico;
Lead, South Dakota; Grants, New Mexico; Piedmont,
Teacher of English as a Second Language to adults in the
Oakland, California public schools. Author of an
independent oral history project, Newcomers to the East
Bay, interviews with Asian refugees and immigrants. Oral
historian for the Oakland Neighborhood History Project.
Interviewer, Regional Oral History Office since 1985,
specializing in mining history.
Illl II Illl II