1979 Interview with Art, Clyde & Charlotte Creech – OH 736B
1979 Interview with Art, Clyde & Charlotte Creech – OH 736B
Idaho State Historical Society
Oral History Center
An Interview about the Delaware Indians of Idaho, Inc
By Elizabeth Bryant-Merrill
April 14, 18, 19, 1979
Manuscript No. 0330A-B
Transcribed May 22, 1979 by Francis Rawlins
Name: Delaware Indians of Idaho, Inc.
Mrs. Charlotte Simmons (CS)
Mr. Clyde Wesley Creech Sr. (CWC)
Mr. Arthur Albert Creech (AAC)
The interviews (3) took place in the dining room of Mrs. Simmons’ home at 1360 Topaz Avenue in Meridian Idaho. We were sitting around the dining room table.
Mrs. Simmons s the tribal spokesperson. Mr. Arthur Albert Creech, who is Mrs. Simmons father, is also the tribal chairman.
This testimony and recollections, reminiscences of traditions and recollections seem very credible to me. Much of this material is not documented elsewhere.
Elizabeth Bryant-Merrill: This second interview with Mrs. Charlotte Simmons, Mr. Clyde Wesley Creech Sr. and Mr. Arthur Albert Creech concerning the Delaware Indians of Idaho, Incorporated was recored by Elizabeth Bryant-Merrill of the Oral History Center in Mrs. Simmons’ jp,e pm April 18, 1979. The interview deals with more details of life in Monatan, Wyoming and Idaho, following the harvests as migrant laborers and many of Mr. Clyde W. Creech Sr.’s experiences in his travels around the county and in the military.
EBM: Can you tell me something about the funerals?
CS: Yes, they used to have a big meal for the group after the funeral, you know, something similar to dinner, because there was always food for everyone with everything to eat, everybody from the eldest to the youngest. And the afterwards they would sit around and tell stories and talk. I remember the one time Grandpa was telling bout Kansas, he was telling us how out on the high prairies the grass come clear up to the horses belly, when they came across the prairie.
CWC: I can remember when my father passes away about 1952 in Basin, Wyoming. The Odd Fellows gave a meal for the group that attended the funeral, that is the relation of the one buried, and there were thirty-five people there. And then after the meal we’d all gather over at one of the houses of the group and there’d be stories and there’d be talking and more or less general conversations taking place.
CS: There were no outsiders at that meal either, if I remember. They prepared that for us because they were aware of that was the way we did things, and so some of the people there go together and prepared the meal and then they all left and left us alone.
EBM: What about Indian burials?
AAC: Oh, when they moved into Wyoming in 1915, approximately , I was ten or eleven when I started buckarooing; either the Sioux or the Crows buried their dead in the trees at that time. You’d ride down the Big Horn River or the Little Big Horn and several smaller creeks and you’d see ’em every mile or so there’d be two or three and all their personal belongings that belonged to that Indian was wrapped up in buffalo robes and tied up with buckskin and then they tied ’em up in the trees about eighteen feet from the ground and left ’em there. That’s they way they buried ’em.
EBM: Can you tell me a little bit more about your life in Montana and Wyoming?
AAC: Well, I was pretty small in Montana and I remember sugar beet work. We worked down at Huntley and a town called Plumberg and around Billings, Bridger, Belfry, Montana. And then in 1913-’14 we went into the edge of Wyoming. The reason we went to Wyoming was to help build the first sugar factory that was ever built in the State of Wyoming. And we raised the first crop of sugar beets that was ever raised in Wyoming at Powell. We had approximately eleven hundred acres there that we took care of with workers. And we hired all the kids along with our bunch and they got paid a dollar a day their board and they had to do so much work every week. And they finished up early on Friday, and my dad and my older brothers would always take me fishing or hunting. At that time there was lots of sage hens, which was there by the hundreds. And we had a jack rabbit called white tailed jack, different than they have here in Idaho, most of the older ones weighed seventeen, eighteen pounds. We’d kill them and have an awful feed on the weekends. Then we went into the Big Horn Basin and famed there in Teddy Roosevelt’s administration. Money-there was no money; you traded script for your groceries,. Take two, three dozen eggs in and maybe get a sack of potatoes or a piece of meat. Money was something different, and if you had change coming, that store would give you a script. It was rough during that time I growed up ‘tl 1924 in there and there was wild horses in there by the thousands, especially out in the place we called Buffalo Basin. And Wyoming it’s more of a desert country and the trees-there’s a few along the main river, but it’s dry country, was at that time, and the buffalo had come through that country in the thousands and there was what they called the buffalo wallows, be miles and miles where the buffalo’d lay down and wallow in the dirt and dust to get the flies off of ’em. Of course, they deposited a lot of what we call buffalo chips that had lid there for years and we burnt them for several winters ’til they got scarce. And that’s about it there outside of the general labor and trading and swapping we done . Only 1917 we homesteaded about nine hundred acres out there twelve miles from Basin on what was called Elk Creek, and we all lived out there for about four years off and on, during the summer. In the winter time we was always in town, so the kids could go to school. An on Alamo Flats where I lost my two brothers there, there was an Indian massacre there about 1880 and the dead is buried between Enlow Creek and Manderson, Wyoming on the banks of the Bighorn River. There was all kinds of things when I was there, arrow heads and patches and stuff scattered all over there and they killed this bunch in the wagon train. What became of them I don’t know. It’s too many years.
EBM: Can you tell me anything about the salmon spawning?
AAC: It was after we came to Idaho. At that time there was no dams on the Columbia River, Snake River and during the dog salmon days, what they called dog salmon, they’re salmon that weighs probably, at that time thirty-five to forty-five pounds, had long, sharp teeth about a half an inch long after they’d spawned then they die. And I’ve seen the banks of the Snake River and the Boise River and the Payette River just lined with ’em. Hundreds and hundreds. But here in the past thirty years there ain’t been no such thing; built the dams and they can’t get up here. And we’d go down, especially on the Columbia River when we was down through there picking fruit, the Deschutes River and I’ve seen-you could walk across the river on the backs of the salmon, they was that thick. It’s unbelievable the changes that’s took place since then and now. Just throw your line out and snag one of ’em if you didn’t catch him, then snag another one. A good salmon is a bright shiny fish and after they’ve been out of the ocean for a while they turn dark red. We was kind a choicy on what we kept. The same way with the smelt. At that time, which was in the early ’30’s, take a dipnet and dip up a tubfull of ’em with a dip. In the river, there was millions of ’em. Which they still do today down there, but nothin’ like it was then.
CS: Dad, do you remember out there in Wyoming before Grandpa died how we used to go out in that one place out there on the river and they had told us that we shouldn’t fish, and so Grandpa used to take us out at night and we’d set our lines at night and fish. Remember that?
AAC: Yeah I remember. When we was in Wyoming in the early days there was fish, catfish weighed thrity—five to fifty pounds. And they had what they called 7 similar to our carp out in this country. And then they had another’n called a walleyed pike and then we had the northern pike in the Big Horn River. And during my early life we caught and ate lots of ‘em and things like that. And then in 1948 when we went back, partial, the reason, I wanted to have a nice tuess of catfish. We got back there and the Wind River dam at Thermopolis had been blowed out and the silt had been let go down the river and killed all the fish for about three—four hundred miles and they’d just started to restock it again with ling, trout, one thing and another. We used to go down there and catch ling at night; oh, seven or eight of ‘em every night with a trout line, weighed about seven or eight pounds. And they had a poison sack right on the tail end of the stomach, the outlet of the entrails, and we had to cut that out in order to eat ‘em. They look a good deal like a snake outside of they had a fish head. No bones in ‘em. They was good fish.
EBM: What about this fishing at night?
CS: Well, I remember when I was a little kid in Wyoming, that they used to go out and they’d set lines, you know, they’d set ‘em at night and then go back the next night and take the fish off the lines.
AAC: The next morning.
CS: Oh, I don’t remember, it was that long ago. But I remember setting the lines at night.
EBM: After you got to Idaho and started working in the harvests; can you tell me something about the different kinds of crops and how you actually did the work?
CWC: Well, it was all manual work. We started in the fruit orchards a— round Payette, which was mainly apples at that time and peaches and prunes was up around Emmett; apricots. And we’d prune all winter long with a pair of hand pruners and then in the spring, why, the straying would start; we used what they called an oil and lead base spray, which is partial the reason my lungs ain’t what they should be today; I got leaded in the orchards. A horse would only last a— bout four years doing that kind of work, they’d be wind broken and they couldn’t go. And then after we got a freeze in there and the apple price went down. We picked apples at that time for two and a half and three cents a box. And they began to pull the apple orchards out and prune orchards, so that’s when we started on into Oregon and the State of Washington for fruit harvests. And we usually landed in Freewater, Oregon somewhere around the first of July for tomato harvests, which is all done by hand. Worked twelve, fourteen hours a day for twenty—five cents an hour—is what we got in wages.
EBM: Now, when was this?
CWC: In about 1929 on up to about 1940, then the price started getting better.
CS: That was in summer months, in the winter months they come back to the home place.
CWC: And from the tomatoes, we’d go into prune picking, and at that time we got from seven to eleven cents a box, picking prunes. Some years five cents, depending on the market. Then we’d go from the prune harvest, which ended usually about the last part of August—first of September—over in the Yakima Valley and go into hop picking. And we picked for a cent, cent and a half a pound.
EBM: Tell me a little bit about how you did that.
CWC: Well, the entire vine—in other words, they’re vines that’s strung and goes up a string and grows up on overhead wires; make a big vine. We had long knives which we used on a stick to cut ‘em down and we’d only cut one vine at a time. As soon as they wilted they weighed nothin’. They’re just worse than feathers as far as weight goes; and we got a cent and a half a pound for picking them. Sometimes as high as a thousand of us in one of them big hop yards; this big camp. The Yakima Indians and Wapiti Indians, Nez Perce Indians, nearly all of the western tribes was there. My dad set out in the evening there after we’d quit work and he’d talk to some of the old Indians in Indian dialogue (dialect) which he could—used to speak some of it. They could understand my Dad; it was a little different lingo.
EBM: Clyde what about that story you told me about the Indian man who made his wife and kids work?
CWC: Well, I was about I guess—seven, eight years old and it fascinated me to see this Indian man bring his wife and children out to a field, a man that would take and cut down a bunch of the hop vines and then he’d get on a horse with just a little string on it for rope to lead it with and he’d go up on the hillside and lay down and stay up there ‘til noon. Then noon’d come and he’d come down and I get his wife and kids and they’d go in and have lunch, or dinner and then in the afternoon and he’d cut down enough hops to run ‘en the afternoon and then he’d go back up on the hill with his horse and lay down and stay up on the hill ‘til evening. When it was tine for quitting he’d come in and get his wife and children then go back to the camp and that was his day’s work. But it fascinated me to see him not working and then leading that horse around with a string! (Chuckles) It was quite a pet. I remember back in Idaho, but I don’t remember seeing it myself, but my dad had pictures of the first apples that he picked. Of course, he didn’t know how to pick apples, he’d never picked ‘em before and the boss told him all you had to do was take ‘em off the tree and put ‘em in boxes. Went out there and worked the biggest share of the day and the boss come out and, gee whiz, he had apples strung all up and down the road, boxes of ‘em! He had pulled all the spurs off the trees with the apples, which is next year’s cropt(Chuckles) He had to show Dad then how to pick apples; he had to slow him down. My dad had big hands, he could hold easy three apples to a hand and he’d run his elbows into the apple bag and he’d run these apples right down his elbows into the apple bag and he could sure pick apples! Like I say, I was about seven, eight years old at that time when this happened.
EBM: What about the babies? If there were any babies taken to the field like when they were doing the harvesting, what did they do with them?
AAC: Usually laid ‘em on a blanket under the hop vines, or under the apple trees. Our daughter, Charlotte Simmons, she was fourteen days old when we went into the prune orchard in Freewater, Oregon and we worked about five weeks and went on to the hop yards. We got into the hop picking in Yakima. She cried for about a week because she was looking up into the sky trying to find her mother, and her mother wasn’t there.(Chuckles) The kids usually was in a box or basket, whatever we could get to put ‘em in.
CS: Later on, when they’re toddlers, you know, in between the baby stage and the work stage, which was about four or five, they stayed with grandparents.
EBM: What was the migrant labor like during the thirties?
AAC: Well, I don’t know as you’d call it migrant workers. Everybody was – poor bastards! Excuse the language. But when Wall Street went broke in 1929, why, it made paupers out of ninety percent of the United States. There’d be bankers, lawyers, everyone was out on the “fruit tramp”—what we called the fruit tramp, trying to make enough to eat. There was no money. I was working in Klamath Falls, Oregon in 1929 when the break come and the bottom fell out of the market; drawing seventeen fifty a day and on the first of September we went to work and there was no jobs. It was two years before I got a job. We had a home in Idaho, why, we all come back to the ranch and raised gardens, and my mother she had chickens and a pig and a cow. We hunted and I trapped for two winters on Birding’s Island for skunk, mushrat, lynk, mink; and that’s the way we made out living. And finally I got a job in the fruit orchard, the price had come back up where they could affrod to do a little something with it. And we walked ten mile a day each way and drawed fifteen cents a hour. We didn’t have money to buy a license for an old car we had, so we had to walk. And when my second son was born we needed milk for him and I and my brother—in—law and brother worked one whole week for a little jersey heifer in order to get milk, and she was valued at eleven dollars. And just a little bitty heifer, about so tall. We took’er home and the way we broke her to milk was quite comical; we drove two stakes in the ground and tied her head to one and her hind foot to the other and we milked her! (Chuckles)
EBM: What were the wages—the other wages like?
AAC: Well, if you could get a job at that time, your migratory work was around fifteen cents a hour. And we made the potato harvest up in — Twin Falls and Burley, Rupert area. And at that tine we got from two and a half to three cents a hundredweight for picking up potatoes. For about five years that went on and then the price got up and we got up to six, seven cents a hundred. I think about nine cents a hundred was the most they ever paid for picking the potatoes. And it took a mighty good man to pick a hundred and fifty sacks of potatoes a day, I tell you!
EBM: What other kinds of people were working in the fields?
AAC: All nationalities. American—Spanish, I guess you’d call ‘em or “wetbacks”, Indians, Irish, you name it, they were there. Was no distinction. We had people from New York, all over the East Coast out here on the West Coast working. And they lived in their cars.
There was no motels, hotels them days. They had to live in cabins in the campgrounds, which ordinarily cost you eight dollars a week, and we, none of us could afford it, so we had our own tents. Just set up a tent and that’s where we lived, wherever we stopped. And everybody raised lots of garden stuff all over the country. They had to raise it, the only way they could eat. Pork at that time was a cent and a half a pound, live weight. And I sold many a dozen eggs for a nickel a dozen. You’d go to the store and you’d buy light bread far three loaves for a dime. You can see what the difference then and now is.
EBM: What kinds of different foods did you have to eat during those years?
AAC: Well, we was fortunate, we had a land base, I guess you’d call it, land. We raised quite a bit of our meat and lots of vegetables, and it was mainly potatoes, onions, beans and pork and beef and whatever wild game we was fortunate enough to kill. We always went hunting and got our deer, usually a bear or two, once in a while a elk. Our food them days is practically what we eat today. I don’t know, it seems like when a kid grows up on certain types of food, why, they stay with it all their life, very few changes.
EBM: What kind of different camps did they have?
AAC: Oh, you’d see everything in camps in them days. We had a big tent; several tents in the bunch. But a lot of ‘em just live in the car with a little campfire alongside of it and the groceries packed in a apple box. People that wasn’t fortunate enough to have a car— they would come in with it on their back. Throw a blanket in under a willow tree and have a campfire and eat vegetables and whatever they could get. It was a bad, bad deal, I tell you.
CWC: I can remember seeing families, men and women and four and five children, small children, hitchhiking down the highways to get someplace trying to find a job. Many a time I’ve seen this happen. I don’t know, but I imagine that the Chamber of Commerce at Walla Walla, Washington would have pictures showing the people camped along the road by the hundreds. There was no law prohibiting— pull off the road and camp anywhere. One car’d pull off and in an hour’s time there’d be five hundred of ‘em strung along the road. They teamed and all tried to camp in bunches. This guy needed a spare tire, somebody else in the bunch’d have an extra tire. And they had to overhaul a car, they done it right along the side of the road. You didn’t go to the garages. There was no such thing.
CS: I can remember, too, as a child, when we traveled that way, you know, in families on the roads; you used to put a rope around the bed to keep the snakes out! The snake wouldn’t crawl over the rope because the rope would tickle its belly, or something to that effect. But anyway, they kept the rope circled around the bed to keep the snakes out.
EBM: That’s interesting. What about the practice of giving Indian names to children as well as the given name?
CS: You know, they were given what you call given names when they were born by the mother, but then the older ones always tagged some name on. Like with me, my name is Charlotte June Creech was the name I was born with, but I was called Sally 7 for years and then it was Sally; and I’m still called Sally by the group. And there is one couple, her eldest daughter’s name was Helen and everybody knows her as Star. And a lot of the different ones have different names.
AAC: Granddad called my daughter Cotton Top before he died, just shortly before he died, that’s stayed with her all the way through.
CS: My own granddaughter’s name is Katey Jo Harsh, spelled Katey, and she was named after Viola Creech, she was called Kate, too. NY granddaughter was named —
AAC: Timmy is High Pockets the Second.
CS: Dad’s Indian name was Tom Gooliken(?) and somebody changed that to White Arrow(?). But most of the group has had other names other than the ones they’re known to outsiders.
EBM: Mostly just your group knows those names then. Right?
CS: Yeah. Yeah, because most of the names are kind of a personal thing and you can tell when somebody comes to your house and says they know so—and—so intimately, you can always tell whether they do or not because of the way they call ‘em. It’s kind of funny.
EBM: It’s a good way of keeping their closeness as a group.
CS: I think so. I have a list of those names somewhere—otherwise they do have the other names. In fact, I thihk it’s in our record book I think I stuck it back in there, a list of the ones that have grown up with different names. I think we collected a list when we sent out the papers and they asked for the English name and the Indian name. We got a list at that time and put it in the back of our book after we got incorporated. There must be a list of twenty or twenty— five in the group that carry two names. In later years, like with myself, all of my business was conducted under Charlotte June Simmons—legal papers. But all of my personal letters and all of my matters with the members of the group is under Sally, most of the intimate group, a lot of ‘em don’t even know what my real name is. They know me by the one name.
CWC: They had what you called their “trading goods”. Aunt Annie, and it was a shopping bag with, oh, anything she thought she could trade with somebody for something else; clothing and stuff like this nature. And, of course, being Indian she was always after bright colors and stuff of this nature. And if she saw something she wanted she would finagle around put enough stuff together to trade for whatever she was after. But she always—whenever she went anyplace— she always had her trading goods with her.
EBM What kind of stuff did she have?
CWC: Oh, mostly it was clothing or maybe it’s be a handkerchief or a scarf or something of this nature. Just anything that would attract somebody else’s attention, why, she would have it with her to trade for something that she wanted.
AAC: Beads, jewelry.
CWC: Beads and jewelry.
CWC: I might go back to Wyoming, too; I started school at Powell, Wyoming when I was six years old and walked six miles to school usually it was twenty to thirty below Zero in the winter. I’d walk maybe a mile or two and then they’d have to ride me, they always did. Then we move over in the Big Horn Basin. They had a little old cabin schoolhouse bout ten by ten and I think there was twenty—seven kids in the one room, all different grades, mainly our group. There was one or two other families that lived in that area. The old schoolhouse is still standing out there; was the last time I was over there, and it sure is unique.
CS: I can remember when I started school; I started school over at Letha. The old schoolhouse was on the road between Letha and New Plymouth and they don’t use it any more, they have a new school in Letha now, but the old school, where I started, was down the road. We lived over—this little house over on Dewey Road, and we walked to school. And my kids were complaining about having to walk any—where’s to eight or nine blocks. And we went over there one time, this is when the older ones were younger, and we clocked it and it was seven miles by the road. And it was the same type of school. They had all of the classes from the first grade to the high school in that one big, open room. But they were segregated, you know, maybe part of the desks would be on one side of the room and they had one teacher and she would work with the older kids while we were doing our studies and then she would come over and work with us while they were doing their studies. And we took our lunches in an old lard bucket and it was like beans and potatoes, and at noon they would build a fire out there and then they would heat up the buckets.. And later on they got to where they had a stove inside the schoolhouse, one of those that had a big top on it, and then they’d let the kids set their lard buckets up on top of the stove and it would be hot then by the time noon come. I can remember that.
CWC: It’s a lot different than it used to be.
CS: I remember, too walking home. There was always a group of us walking home and they had a truck that went around to the town delivering bread, and I remember I used to get my feelings hurt because that truck would stop and there’d be maybe ten, fifteen kids coming out of the school, walking in a group and they would pass out day—old cookies to some of the kids and they would never give us kids any because they were prejudiced, you know. We’d We’d always watch those kids eating the cookies. You know, little things like that made it rather difficult.
EBM: How about you, Clyde, can you remember any experiences with school?
CWC: Not too much, I only went to school a few years. I started school first time in Ontario, Oregon about—it must have been about l927—’28, and only went probably two months, then we moved from there and my brother got double pneumonia and almost died. And my dad and mother wouldn’t let me go to school until he was well enough that he could go, because she wanted us in the same grade so we could more or less protect each other, if we were together if anybody picked on us we could be a team. So I was about nine years old when I got back in school and then I left school when I was fourteen and never went back again.
EBM: And that was to work in the harvests?
CWC: I went to work and did everything. I traveled all over the United States and saw the United States on top of a boxcar. And I worked all up and down the United States, traveling. My folks said they never knew when I was going to come or go, I just walked in one day and maybe stay a week or two and they’d get up one morning or come home from work in the afternoon and they’d find me gone.
CS: I think, myself, that’s one of the most difficult things that a lot of the group has had to content with is, is, you know, to make it in today’s society, is to stay in one place, because for years they— you know, the whole group—somebody said, “GO”, and you know the other ones said, “Go”, and the rest would just pack up and they went. Here the last few years everybody’s been staying kind of put, but the kids are still coming and going. They haven’t made that They haven’t made that adjustment that you have to stay put in order to make it, because it’s different than what it was when we were young.
EBM: Can you remember any of your more outstanding experiences while you were traveling around the country?
CWC: Lots of ‘em.
EBM: Tell me about some of them.
CWC: Oh, I ran away from home when I left home and there was one kid in Emmett that was supposed to go with me and he backed out at the last minute. Well, I was gone about three months, course, Boise — Riggs was sheriff at that time and they looked and broadcast all over for me to try to find me. Well, when I left home I had a skull cap and a pair of levis on and my shirt and shoes and socks; that was it, I had nothing else. And I went down to Sale Lake City and I had a bunch of keys, I don’t know why I had those keys, but I had a ring with a bunch of keys on it and I got picked up one night by the police in Salt Lake City. And the first thing they did was try to say that I was trying to burglarize a store or something. And then when they couldn’t do that, why, they put the charge of vagrancy on me. Well, when the judge told me I was charged with vagrancy, I didn’t know what vagrancy meant and I said, “Not guilty.” And that night they put me in a cell with an old man and he looked at me and said, “Kid what are you in here for?” And I said, “Oh, I don’t know, vagracy-vagree—something, I don’t know what it is.” lie says, “You don’t know what that means?” I say, “Well, if you haven’t got two and a half in your pocket to buy something to eat and a place to sleep,” he says, “you’re guilty of vagrancy.” “Well,” I said, “I guess I’m guilty then.” I left home with twenty—two cents and I didn’t have nothin’. “So,” he says, “tell you what you do, you go back in there in the morning and when the judge calls your name out, you stand up, and you say, Honor’, and he’ll give you permission to speak.” He says, “Then you explain to him that yesterday you didn’t understand what vagrancy meant, but this morning that you do and that you’re ready to plead guilty and he’ll give you twenty—four hours floater out of town.” This is what I done, and sure enough, the judge released me. Well, I scairt to get back on the highway and hitchhike back to Ogden, Utah, so I walked the railroad tracks, something like eighteen miles from Salt Lake City to Ogden, Utah. ‘Course, I was hungry and they were canning tomatoes at that time; big canneries in Ogden, Utah, and I went over and they give me a whole big sack full of ripe tomatoes; that was my meal. Well, I got down in the jungles, the railroad bums all called the jungle down around the railroad tracks, and there was a young man there, Slim Woodward and he was a cowboy; he traveled the circuit in the rodeos and such and he was headed to Texas or somewheres and he looked at me, he says, “Kid,” he says, “you’re new on the road, ain’t you?” And I says, “Yeah, that’s right.” “Oh, “he says, “come on go with me, 1111 teach you the ropes.” We caught a freight train out of Ogden, Utah, and about twenty—four later we was in Cheyenne, Wyoming. And when we pulled in Cheyenne, of course that was a railroad base, too, and he says, “We’ve got to be off this train out here, outside of town, because if we ride it into the yards, why, the Railroad Bulls’ll pick us up,” and, he says, “they get a dollar a head for every man they pick up.” So, we left that train and it was doing about thirty, thirty—five miles an hour and that was my first experience in getting off of a railroad train; off of a freight train. And I hung around Cheyenne there for a while and he took me out and we stayed at a transient center in Cheyenne, I remember that, and then he took me out on the street and taught me to panhandle. And, gee whiz, that was pretty good; get Out there and make six or eight, ten dollars a day panhandling eat maybe ten, fifteen meals at the same time! (Laughter). Then I went to work for a big rancher out of Cheyenne there, and I can’t remember his name, but I went Out Off his ranch. I was out there about two months. And I got something like thirty dollars a month and board and room. And I was there about two months and finally I wrote a letter to this kid that was supposed to run away with me in Emmett, Idaho. And, of course, my dad was watching him pretty close and when he sat him get this letter at the post office, he told him, he says, “Earl,” he says, “I’ll give you five dollars for that letter.” Which Earl sold him the letter. There was another girl there that knew me and knew where I was at, so she went down to the telegraph office and sent a telegram, told me, she says, “Father knows your whereabouts, you’d better move on.” I come in from work that night and the boss’s wife handed me this telegram and I read it, and I didn’t say anything, I went on Out and went to bed and the next morning when I came in I had my few clothes I had bought and I was ready to hit the road again. Well, the boss had to take me something like forty, fifty miles to get to the railroad to catch a freight train. And, come to find out I was just a few hours ahead of the police; they came out to pick me up and send me back to Idaho to my folks. Well, I never wrote another letter then ‘til I went clean down to Galveston, Houston, Texas, ‘course I was in Denver, Colorado. There was another fellow, he1ught me to go out and bum from the houses. He’d take me and walk down the street and he’d look at a house, he’d say, “You go over there, you’ll get a handout.” He says, “Now me, I’m going over here; I’m going to get a setdown.” He was able to name what he would get at the houses, cause the houses them days was mostly marked, all the railroad bums marked their houses. And then, of course, I worked my way on down into Texas; turned around and I came back up to Kansas City, Kansas. And it was in the fall of the year, getting pretty late in the fall, it was along in October, I guess, November. And a big guy there come down in the jungles, we called him Ben McGee, is his name, he looked like a telephone pole with me standing along side of him I was the base, and he looked at me, he said, “Kid, you making any money?” I says, “No.” “Well,” he says, you want a job?” I says, “Well, Yeah, I’d take a job.” I says, “What you got?” And he says, “I live out here in the country, my wife and children are there most of the time by their self,” he says, “I need somebody to do chores and carry water and things like this.” So, I went out there on this place and I worked for about two months and I wrote my folks a letter then, and, ‘course, my dad when he got the letter, why, he wrote back and he says, “Well, son, if you want to come home,” he says, “I’ll sell the old cow and send you a ticket to come home on.” Well, my folks only had one cow and that the relief or the welfare or the state or something had give it to them. It was then Roosevelt’s —he was then president. And I wrote back, I said, “No, Dad,” I says, “when I come home I’ll cone home on my own.” Well, I stayed there in Kansas City until about April. And I packed up one day and I left for home, and wrote my mother and told her I was commt and to write me a letter at Cheyenne, general delivery, and I picked it up there. I come on home—well, in the meantime I had made, oh, quite a bit of money, I had $250—$300 on me. And, of course, bums if they knew that you had money, why, they’d take it away from you, they’d get it some way. I had an old army jacket, or coat, on that I’d gotten hold of and I took and ripped out the seam and I poked this money back into a kind of a hem that was around the collar of the coat. And I come on home. Of course, I bummed my way home; I wasn’t buying no ticket home, that was out! And that night, my dad was rather odd, of course, I guess, having nothing all his life, why, he saved everywhere he could and my mother had made out a list of groceries and he would take it and he would go down that list, “Well, you don’t need this.” And he would scratch it out. “We don’t need this.” and he’d scratch it out. Got down and just tear the list up and all apart. So, we went out that night to buy groceries, on payday, it was on a Friday night and Dad went out to get groceries, and I saw the list and I knew what he’d marked out. And we’d go down through the aisles of the store and pick up groceries; I’d pick this stuff up and throw it in the basket. Dad never said nothing. We got up to the check stand and the girl she checked it out and he got ready to pay for it, Dad started to pay for it, and I says, “No, Dad, on me, I’ll buy it.” So, it was quite an experience. Well, from that time on, why, I traveled for about four or five years, off an on, you know—when I’d find work, why, I’d stop and work and then when the work was over, I’d get up and go again. I’d come home maybe in the fall of the year and we’d head out for apple picking or prune picking or hops work or something like that. I never cared for the beet fields. That’s something I— I went out there, I worked about two hours in the beet fields with a group one time. We took a contract on a patch of beets over in Emmett, and I went out there with my dad and brother and I got down on my knees and I worked about two hours and I got up and I says, “Dad,” I says, “there’s a lot of money easier to make than this.” I got up and I went back to town. I asked Andy Little over in Emmett for a job. I worked for him for several years, off and on. And I got to be known —s a mule skinner. So, I went out on one of his ranches; a dollar a day and board and room; worked ten hours a day and seven days a week, if you wanted to. But, I’ve had a lot of experiences and a lot of the country I’ve seen and different people; I’ve always been one to observe people, and I’ve got a lot of friends all over the United States yet that know me from days when I traveled. But I tell a lot of people this stuff—lot of the young kids— especially some of the relations, you know, years ago when I was younger up in Montana, why, I’d tell the Cartwright girls, my mother’s sister’s daughters, and they just thought I was making a lot of stuff up, because they couldn’t understand how I could pile so much living into such a short time. And this is what fascinates a lot of people when I talk with ‘em, is because I have have seen a lot. I’ve seen a lot of things that was wrong and crooked and everything else. Almost killed one man over a white woman that he was molesting in a boxcar, and I took that white girl and took her home. She lived in Galveston, Texas. Her folks would give me anything in the world I wanted if I wanted to take it, but I wouldn’t take it. And I worked for a man in Cambridge, Idaho. I worked three winters there, and he told me, he said, “You stay with me ‘til I pass away,” he says, “the ranch and the cattle belongs to you. My wife and boy, they get the money, but,” he says, “the place here belongs to you.” I says, “No, Jake, I don’t want it.” And that’s when I left him.
CS: Time to settle down.
CWC: Well, I got it all out of my system while I was young and then I got married in ‘42(1942) and I and my wife has been together ever since. Oh, we travel. I went into the masonry game. I was in the Marine Corps for three years and I came out of the service and went into masonry or construction work in California; started out as a hod carrier, worked some as a plastered and then I went into masonry. And I got my journeyman’s card in California and I came to Idaho and did a little work here and I went on up into Montana and I contracted into Wyoming, contracted with the group, and I drove milk truck there, just whatever I could find to do, I did it. And then we moved back to Idaho and I stayed here for a few years and went to California and then back to Idaho. In fact, in the last three years I’ve made two moves; moved to California then a year later moved back here, then a year later moved back to California and then back here.
AAC: Might tell her a little of your experience in the Marine Corps.
CWC: When I was in the Marine Corps—I was an odd person— I never was one to try to get rates or to show off or anything like this. I didn’t want the rates, all I was in the Marine Corps for was to do the job that we had to do over there and get back to the United States in one piece. And I turned rates down several times. But during the time I was in the service, we had a Captain Joslin, they called him Chinless Charlie; he had a big, long chin and he had a division between his head and his shoulders looked like a turkey neck. And he used to laugh at me, he’d watch me and I’d get to smoking, of course, I smoked for years and I’d start chain—smoking about the time we was ready to go out onto an invasion, not knowing that we were going on an invasion; he’d look at me, he says, “Well, Creech,” he says, “we’re about ready to go out again,” he says, “you’re chain— smoking. Then we went in one time, we was headed for Saipan—rather an odd experience—they tried to teach me to swim in the boot camp in San Diego and they couldn’t do it. Finally, they marked me down as qualified and that was about it. But we got into Pearl Harbor and we docked over in the canal. There was seven LSTs tied up side by side. So, we were back there in the canal, and as I say, there was two tied side by side, and the LST I was on was in the middle. And we were all loaded with explosives, ammunition, airplane gasoline, high—test gasoline ready to move out for the invasion of Saipan and Tinian. And they brought a Jap civilian, Hawaiian Jap, aboard to do some electrical welding and he touched off a fifty— five gallon drum of high—test gasoline. It started the ship to blosing up. They sounded abandon ship and here I was out there in the darn water two hundred and fifty yards from the shore and I jumped from one ship to the other and got to the ship next to the shore and still that two hundred and fifty yards looked like a long ways. I looked over the side and the sailors and the army boys was jumping over about as fast as they could, and when one would pop up Out of the water somebody’s feet would hit ‘em and knock ‘eta back under again. And I said, “No, Clyde, that’s not for you.” I stood back by the bulkhead and about half of ‘em got off the ship as the lieutenant came along. “Give me a hand, mate,” he says, “1 want to get that gasoline off the front end of this ship.” I said, “Hand, hell, I ain’t going to get around that high explosive, nothing doin I won’t help you.” So, I stood there until everybody got off the ship. The captain of the ship, he came along, he says, “Well, Mate, it’s about time we’s getting off, isn’t it?” I says, “Yeah, I guess so.” I walked over to the side of the ship and went down on a rope. I got down in the water and there was a sailor there helping an army boy and he looked at me, “Do you swim, Mate?” I says, “No, I can’t.’ He says, “Well, I can’t help you, I’m trying to help this army boy.” I said, “Well. here goes.” So I kicked off and was there and I came up alongside another sailor, and the sailor he looked at me and he says, “Give me a hand, Mate,” I says, “Hand, hell, I can’t swim either!” When I got ashore, I was so weak that I crawled Out Ofl my belly like a snake, got onto the beach and finally I got in a ways from the beach, oh, probably forty, fifty yards and there was a truck there with a Navy Corpsman; he was patching people up as they got off the ships. He says, “Give me a hand, Mate, take and straighten up my gear here in the truck.” And I got up and I helped him straighten it up and about that time there was a Marine captain cone along, “You boys better get the heck out of here,” he says, “this is too dangerous.” Most of the fellows when they come out of the water went right into a big cane field. And there were 10,000 men killed right there in the cane field with some of this explosions. They reported in the United States that there a few Marines killed; never mentioned our explosion of the ships whatsoever—it was an oil dump that was supposed to have blowed up. I went off to an angle—course, I got a lot of the flak and stuff. I got into there and got up on a hillside and got back with some of my outfit. And Sergeant—he went down into a seabee camp and asked ‘em if we could take one of the trucks to haul us back to center there in Pearl Harbor. The seabee says, “No, I can’t let it go, I’m not authorized to give you one.” The sergeant, he turned and he says, “I’ll tell you something,” he says,” he gays, “you want to be with that truck,” he says, “you better get into it, because I’m taking it.” We got back to the transit center and the lieutenant there, he was running up and down the line, course there was 1,500, 2,000 of us there and he was trying to get us, he was trying to get our names and our ranks and our serial numbers and all this and that. The commander of the base cane out and asked him what he was doing. He told him. He says, “Forget that. First thing find out how many of these men are injured.” And then he says, “Get ‘em some dry clothes and get ‘em into a tent and get ‘em into a bed.” “Then”, he says, “get their name, rank and serial number:’ Well, when we left transit center they put us back on another ship, another LST. We was workin’ loadin’ this LST up; now the convoy had already left us and went on. There was six LSTs that they left, so we were loading working day and night to load these LST’s so we could get out of there and catch up with our convoy, and they’d brought a cylinder of propane aboard, or welding gas of some type, anyway, it was leaking and I was back in the back of the hold there of the LST and there was about 200 men up around the mouth of the LST and they heard that thing hissing, they come back through there like a herd of sheep. ‘Course, when I saw “em coming, why, I jumped up and I run over, and the ladder going into the crew’s ness—I jumped and grabbed the rail of that and swung myself over into the crew’s mess. When I did that the crew they jumped up, tipped the tables over, food scattered all over the floor—(Chuckles) Of course, we were a jumpy bunch of people. All we had to do was take a combat knife out of your scabbard, and drop the handle of it down and let it hit the deck of the ship and you had nobody around you whatsoever, they just—boom!—they were gone! Then we caught up with our outfit and we landed on Sai— pan; I was in the second wave, I was the captain’s personal runner. I operated the 536 and 300 radio, plus I stood telephone watch. My company, my outfit, landed in the first wave, but the captain ordered me to come in in the second wave and make a reconnaissance on the beach and report to him on the wounded. I got onto the beach, and gee whiz, there was already one wave in there and the second wave hit the beach—they hit the deck— and they started shooting right into their own men. And I run up and down the beach hollering for ‘em to knock off the shootin’. We fought our way all across Saipan. I can remember one—oh, a couple of incidents there; one afternoon we were going down across—went down across this big cane field and kind of up on a little knoll and we saw two Japs and two geisha girls running out across this cane field, locked arm in arm. say there was six DARs, a— bout fifteen Ml’s opened up on them; they killed the two japs and never put a scratch on the girls. And when I got to them—I was one of the first ones to get to them—when I got to them, one of the girls was trying to pull a pistol out of one of these officer’s scabbards and I kicked out of her hand took the pistol myself and kept it. And it was stolen from me at a later time. But it was rather odd to see that many weapons being fired at four people locked arm in ann and not put a mark on the girls. And then we went on out across there and we cone onto a saki dump. Every man in the outfit had a fifth of saki under one arm and a rifle in the other hand on the front line fighting. They had big tanks and every tank had a case of saki on the back end of it. Well, we got down on the lower end of the island and ordered to dig in for the night; set up our defense, which we did. Along about ten o’clock why, the bullets started flying every which way. I was always conscious; I always dug me a nice deep hole, down below the ground. So I’m down in this hole and Captain Joslin, he’s over from be a— bout fifteen, twenty feet, he hollers over, he says, “Creech, what’s going on out there?” I said, “I don’t know, sir, why?” “Well,” he says, “raise your head up and look.” I says, “Like heck I will!” (Chuckles) But the men had gotten pretty well drunk on saki and they thought they saw something moving, so they started shooting. And this was one of the experiences that didn’t get reported in a lot of the things that happened. And we went on down to the end of the island—well, in the meantime we’d come a— cross a woman and her father, I have a picture of the woman’s son yet, and she had been hit by a piece of shrapnel from a bomb or a big bullet fired from the ship. She had a spot on her hip about the size of a dinner plate that had been blowed completely off, and the edge of the skin—the meat was off and gangrene had set in. The woman couldn’t walk, she crawled out from under a building— her dad crawled from under a building, he was an old man, I suppose eighty years old, and the captain left me there with them to be a guard over ‘em the tfPs from back behind or the doctors or the Navy’d come up and picked ‘em up. And while I was there, why, I talked with ‘em quite a bit, and at that time I could talk a little bit of Guamanian(?) which I had been taught in the marine Corps but not a whole lot. I was able to communicate with her and she told me a lot of things about what was happening, and she gave me a picture of her son. He was a pilot in the Jap Army. And she gave me a razor and I don’t know what all but several different things. And about that time, why, this Navy corpsman came up in a jeep. He jumped out of there and he come over and he hauled off and kicked her and told her to get up and get into that jeep. And I threw my rifle down, “Why, you son of a—— , you kick her again, I’ll kill you where you stand.” A doctor came up about that time, he looked at me, “What’s going on here?” And I told him what had happened. He turned around to the corpsman and he says, “Son,” he says, “You pick that lady up and you put her in the jeep, in your own arms.” Which they did. Well, then, of course, I joined my outfit and I went on down on the end of the island. I had learn’t to make satchel charges during the time in Hawaii, and we got down on the end of this island. We come into a lot of caves; there was one cave I remember that had a hole in the top of the cave; there were thirty, forty Japs in there; women, kids, whatnot. We talked to ‘em for a good two and a half, three hours trying to get ‘em to come out. But they had been indoctrinated by the Japanese people, Hawaiian people or the Cuamanians, people that lived on the islands, there was a bunch of them in there, civilians; they’d been told that the Marines were barbaric and they would torture ‘em, rape their women and then kill ‘em, and it was better to die rather than to have this torture. Well, they wouldn’t come out to us. The captain ordered me to make up a satchel charge and drop in this hole on top of this cave. I remember lookin’ down in there when I dropped and there was a woman settin’ down there, right under this hole and she caught the satchel charge. Course, I run back away from the hole and when it blew up there was a baby’s arm come out, out of the hole and it landed on one of the kid’s back. Sick—made all of us sick. And that was when we first got down close to the beach and we were fighting our way down through there and there was a bunch of these natives, they stood up in the rocks waving their hats, or waving their rags or waving just anything to attract our attention, Captain Joslin figured that they were ready to surrender, he’d just walk down there and take ‘em, see? Take ‘em over and that’d be it. We started down there and all of a sudden they disappeared into the coral rock and the Japs they started shootin’ at us; we got pinned down. I run the radio at that time on a little 300 and the colonel, he radioed in for us to withdraw, set up a defense back up on the ridge. Captain grabbed the mike and said, “Say,”he says, “1 withdraw if and when I see fit.” He says, “When I can get my men out of here that is pinned down,” he says, “then I’ll withdraw.” He turned around to me and he looked at me and he says, “Creech,” he says, “a man’s life isn’t worth a plugged nickle, is it?” Well, that man, he stood seven foot tall and he stood right up in the—on the bank of the coral reef there— the trench—and in plain sight of the Japs directed the withdrawal a good thirty minutes and they never once touched him. Never hit him at all. We withdrawed and we got out of there and then we came back next morning, course, and we took the rest of the island. But I saw those 250, 300 people jump off of the clift, commit suicide, than than be taken prisoners. I saw one man that killed his daughter, she was eighteen years old with a piano wire wrapped around her neck and killed her. Two. days later that man was a broken spirited man, you couldn’t believe it. He says, “To think, I killed my daughter when she could a had all of this.” Ha says, “You people treat us like we’re human beings.” And then we took one kid prisoner down out of the rocks there. At first he stuck his hand around the edge of the rock, and I hollered at Sergeant Wendstrom, “Yeah,” he says, “1 see him, I’m watching him.’ As we got further around, why, he saw that it was just a kid and we took him prisoner. And he told us that the night before there was about 200 of ‘em settin’ in a circle, Guamanians, natives of the island; Jap guards over ‘em and somebody in the group lit a match to light a cigarette with and the Japs opened up and mowed ‘em all down. He was lucky, he got Out of it alive. And his mother lived in Honolulu at the tine and at a later date we found out that he had been sent back to Hawaii and he got back with his folks. And, of course, I made four landings; I landed in Eniwetok, Palau and 7 , Kwajalein. And down in Eniwetok there we went in there to set up the preliminary defense, Of course, I was curious—the islands, you could walk the coral reefs from one island to another, see, and when the tide was out—this one big island we were on, you could walk out there a ways and there was a little postage stamp island, nothing on it, but I didn’t know this. I went over to it and I went on over her to another big island and I visited with a bunch of the Navy and Marines and Army boys and about three o’clock in the afternoon I started back, and I got back out to the postage stamp island and that’s as far as I could get; the tide cone in and I couldn’t get no further, Of course, I was pretty scared. There was navy boats runnin’ around there and everything else and I tried to signal one to get ‘em in to me and I couldn’t get their attention, so I had to stay there the night. I had on a swimnin’ suit and I had a little knife that I carried and I took and dug a hole, not knowing whether there was any natives on the island or Japs or anything else. I dug a hole on the beach and I took palm leaves or linbs off the palm trees and I lined a trench with it and then I covered myself up and I slept there all night. I got up the next morning and when the tide went out and I got back to my company and when I come into the company area, Captain saw me, he says, “Creech, where you been?’ I says— I told him where I’d been. “Well,” he says, “you get on over to regimental,” he says, “there’s a report that you’re missing in action.” He says, “You’d better get over there and stop it before it gets out.” Which I did, and it never got back to the family that I’d been missing in action. We were follin’ round there one day and there was some colored boys digging souvenirs, and there was one boy down in the hole, oh, about eight feet deep; they’d dug out quite a few souvenirs, he was down there diggin out souvenirs and we had a crazy guy in the outfit, he was all the time pulling something. lie took a hand grenade and disarmed it, left the cap in it was all. We was standing there talkin’ to this colored boy and this other one crawled up out of the hole and was stanidng there and we was all talking, and this boy had his hand behind his back and all of a sudden he just tossed the hand grenade down at their feet. One of the colored boys he took right out across the island just as hard as he could run. The other one he was standing there and his feet was just working like pistons; wasn’t moving an inch! (Chuckles) Oh, there’s a lot of things that’s happened that bring back old memories. We named the first road made on Iwo Jima—was named Maui Boulevard. Now, Maui, Hawaii is where our base was. Of course, when we came back from Iwo I come back with the company, I got wounded on Iwo, but when the other boys came back from Iwo, the natives on Maui met the ship, of course, everybody received a lei around their neck, and the young girls, course, they make quite a thing over this, that we gave them the honor of named the first street on Iwo Jima after the island that we was stationed on. At that time the colored boys was known as American Indians to the natives of Hawaii, and we seen quite a bit of this over there.
AAC: What about the flag raising there on low Jima?
CWC: The flag raising on Iwo Jima? We went in and made a landing on Iwo Jima; course I was carrying a radio on my back that weighed about thirty—five pounds. I landed on Blue Beach, and it was a— bout, oh, maybe a quarter of a nile from the top of Mount Suribachi and the Japs saw that radio and every time they’d see that radio, why, they would shoot at me. ‘Course, I moved—run maybe fifteen, twenty steps and hit the deck again like I’d been hit and whenever they’d raise the fire from me I’d move on. And we worked our way in on the airfield; went across the airfield and we come to a little kind of a hill and we set up our defenses for that night. Well, the other part of the company came in and they went toward Mount Suribachi. They got tied down and they were three days in taking Mount Suribachi. Then that time I set down here on this little hill and I watched through field glasses, the advance on Mount Suribachi. Of course, I saw the flag raising and all that. And when they secured Mount Suribachi, they swung around— of course they was all the way across the island and we could see the Japs in front of ‘en running in our direction, so we set up machine guns to set up a field of fire and we caught quite a few of the Japs that way. And, oh, the first night on Iwo Jima after we set up our defense that night, it was under the edge of this cliff, cliff about twenty, thirty feet high and I was in there in the line of defense and the captain he was over hera bout twenty feet from me and he called me and he wanted me to go out and make a run and I got up and walked over and set down beside him; well, when I got up there was a kid aht we called “Music”, he was the trumpeter in our company and he moved into the position that I’d got up from. Well, of course, the Japs they made quite a run on us about that time, that kid that moved into the position where I was at, a hand grenade landed between his legs and blew both his legs off. And that boy cried and hollered and begged for help the rest of the night. We were pinned down, we couldn’t help him. He begged for help and we couldn’t do anything for him. But, you know, I have thought many a time since how fortunate I was; there was a Super Being beyond me that was watching over me that saw to it that I was moved from out of that position wo where I didn’t get hit. And during the fighting on Iwo I took the flat, it’s a paper flag, I still have it. In the center of it there’s a round circle and there’s writing all the way around it which would be the rays of the sun. This writing, I am told, now, I don’t know because I’ve never found anyone who could interpret it for me, but I’ve been told, that it is the signatures of all the relations of this young man that had it on him—this Jap. And I’ve tried several times to get it interpreted and I haven’t been able to find anyone that can do it—that will do it for me. I’ve got several of the Japanese war bonds and quite a bit of the money that they had and things of this nature. But I was going out across the island there on Iwo Jima and I had picked up an offjcer’s Samuria sword, which is a long sword and the handle is about, oh, sixteen, eighteen inches long. ly’s covered with sealskin wrapped with spun gold with jewels set in a diamond form, or diamond shape, the spun gold was in diamond shape and there was jewels set in the handle of this. I Had it on my pack and every time I would move some darn Jap would shoot at me. And after about the sixth or seventh time being shot at I decided he’d seen that sword and knew that I had got it off of some officers, so I just reached back and grabbed it and threw it as far as I could throw it! And this stopped the shooting at me. That is periodically shooting at me, all the time, you know. And we were going along there and we—the company got pinned down by a machine gun nest and I got a little further out beyond the front line, out in no—man’s—land, cane field. Well I figured, “Shoot, I’ll just set down and when the company catches up with me, I’ll be with ‘em.” I was settin’ there with that radio on my back leaning agin the corn field, corn stalks— or cane stalks. All of a sudden a bullet flies overhead, chips of cane fell down on me, I thought, “Oh, oh!” I crawled over into a trench between the rows of cane and I crawled forward about twenty feet, and then they had to sight in all over again. And I just kept working back and forth, changed my positions to where they couldn’t hit me. I did this for about twenty minutes. Finally the company went a team of demolition men and specialists up to make a circle round behind the machine gun nest and knock it out, and when they come close to me, course the sniper quit shooting. And ‘7 says, “It’s time you got your bottom out of here!” And I moved back into the line sight, got back to where I belonged. But on Tinian; we went from Saipan to Tinian. We were 356 men to a company, yeah, a company, and when we went to Tinian we had bean thinned down so much that there was only 90 men in our company, and we made the first landing; first wave on Tinian. We walked in probably in there a good 200 yards and we stopped, looked back behind us and realized that the second wave wasn’t coming. I got on the radio and radioed back and they said, “Well, turn around and mop up the beach, we Can’t get on the beach.’ Well, the Japs had dug holes down in the ground, covered ‘em over with boards and put dirt and grass on top of these boards, and after we had went past ‘em, they threw the boards back and here they were behind us and in front of us both. And, of course, we had to turn around and mop up the beach so the second wave could get in. Well, as we went on in on the island, we set up our defense that night; we set up on a straight line across the island before dark. After it got dark, why, the captain, the commander of the company, he decided that we would withdraw our right wing and make it on an angle across the island, which we did and we took and dug holes. We were so few that they put two men to a foxhole, and it was twenty feet between foxholes. About, oh, two o’clock in the inorning the Japs made a run on us and here they come, and the two guys that were on my left, they chickened out; they come over and crawled in my foxhole with I and my buddy. One of ‘em had a BAR. I put him in the foot of the foxhole, and the other three of us had one out to the right, one straight ahead and one to the left. We had forty feet here area to cover. 1q11 never forget this one Jap officer, he come running out across the line there in front of us and Corporal Japan, he says, “Creech,” he says, “watch it,” he says, “here comes the Lone Ranger.” And we knocked him out. And after that, the rest of the evening, we could hear the Japs hollering for “Angelo”. The reason I remember this name so well, my half stepdad’s name is Angelo Ferrel, and this name has stuck with me all these years. I’ll never forget that Jap. Then along about daylight, six tanks, Japanese tanks pulled up on the line and here the Jap troops, they’re out there all ganged around these tanks, they opened up the turrets and they’re talking to the drivers of these tanks, and of course, they don’t know where our line is, because we had withdrew. We had no bazooka on the front line, he was back in company C? and of course, by the time we got him up to the line there were several flares went up, lit it up just as bright as we finally got him up on the front line and we knocked out four tanks. Two tanks went through the line and on don on the beach and they were knocked out down there. And then along about daylight, it was starting to get pretty well lit up out there, you could hear then Japs hollering “Banzai” They would take a hand grenade in their hand and grasp it to their stomach; pull the pin on it and kill their self. We had a lot of ‘em do that. And, of course, as quick as it got daylight, why, the biggest share of the Marines were out there souvenir hunting. And it was something to see that, I’ll tell you! Well, that’s some of the experiences I had in the Marine Corp. I got hit on Iwo Jima; shot through the shoulder and they put me out on a ship and sent me back to Pearl—well, first they sent me to Guam and I laid there in the hospital for, oh, four or five days or a week and they sent me back to Pearl Harbor and I laid in the hospital for a month and a half. I got back to my company and I says, “Clyde,” I says, “this stuff isn’t for you, shoot, you’re crazy!” So I put in for a mail clerk’s job. I got in as the company mail clerk. From that time on I didn’t do any field maneuvers or anything of this nature. I spent most of my time on liberty until they shipped us home. And before they shipped us home, they were training us for the invasion of Japan. And we had outlines and maps and the city as a whole beachhead in Japan; Tokyo, where we were going to land and we were being trained for this very strong. Well, I’m in tent one night, my tent, and sleeping and about two o’clock in the morning, why, the officer of the day came in and he says, “Creech,” he says, “get up and get the radio on.” I looked at hi, I says, “Go on, it’s two o’clock in the morning, you’re crazy.” “No”, he says, over, come on and get up!” I got up and turned the radio on and, of course, they were broadcasting the bombing of Japan with the atomic bomb and talking about the surrender and everything. There was all the lights in the area on. The Colonel he wakes up and sees all the lights on and he gets on the telephone and calls the officer of the day, he says, “What’s going on down there in the 25th Area?” “Well, Sir, haven’t you heard? The war’s over!” He said, “Double all guards on ammunition dumps and uel dumps.” And then he says, “Get those lights out down there even if you have to shoot ‘en out, get ‘em out!” Well, they got the lights out. And along about eight, eight—thirty next morning, why, they took up a collection, $250 and I went down and bought whiskey. Cane squeezings, for the company. “Course, we celebrated the bombing of Japan, and shortly after that, why, we was sent back to the States. I was mustered out on October—no, I landed October the 25th in the United States and I was mustered out of the service on the 23rd or something like that of November. And I had all the service that I wanted. I didn’t want no more. But I was tickled and thankful that I got back to the United States in one piece, because it could have been a lot worse. They called me “Eagle Eye” more or less during the time that I was in the service and then after I got back to the States and I started in the masonry game, the foremens, or the contractors all over the country, more or less, knew me as “Eagle Eye” for the simple reason I had a straight eye that I could sight down a line and tell whether a wall was running straight or not, block— work or brick work. So this is my Indian name, is “Eagle Eye”.
CS: I thought one thing that was kind of interesting was the way that all of the kids in my generation were taught to swim. I remember as a little kid watching the older ones whenever a kid would get to be six or seven, we’d go down to the river: And there was a bridge across the river and they took him out on the center of the bridge and then the older ones would take their feet and hands and swing ‘em back and forth and have ‘em into the middle of the river and then you have to sink or swim. And that was always a fun time, you know, I thought that was very funny, until my turn came, and then when they threw me in and I didn’t swim and I went under the water and I must have been under the water block down the tti’’er and when I came up it wasn’t too funny anymore. I think most of the older ones were taught to swim that way.
CWC: It seemed odd to me -that I couldn’t swim, in one way, because when my dad was supposed to be a good swimmer and my grandfather, both, and they claimed that one tine my grandfather and father both could swim that river in Wyoming with a sack of flour around their neck and their clothes back there on:their neck and get across the river. Had no other way to cross it. But my dad never allowed me to go sw±mming. Of course, we didn’t have swimming pools when I was a kid and I didn’t get to play around much anyway, I had to either work or study. But I w—s never allowed to go swimming, and I was never allowed to fool with a gun or rifle of any kind. That something my dad was very, very strict about.
CS: That’s kind of strange, because us kids all knew how to shoot by the time we were six or seven years old.
CWC: No, it wasn’t really with my father, my father saw his brother shot when he was a young man, just a small kid, and so Dad would never let us kids— my dad took me hunting my first time when I was about, oh, fifteen, sixteen years old, and that’s the first time that my dad ever knew that I handled a rifle. I had sneaked the .22 out a few times and fooled with it, but if my dad had a found out about it, it would have been pretty rough. My dad was a man that when he made a statement or he said, do this or you’ll do that—” he only told you once, and after that, why, it was punishment. And I had been punished a few times.
CS: A majority of the kids grew up with guns. We did. I know I was talking to 7 the other day and they all learned to shoot early. I can remember shooting Dad’s old .22 and taking the bullets out of that leather pouch when I couldn’t have been more than five.
CWC: My Dad, they claimed, was one of the best rifle shots in the country. One time, the story is told, that there was a buck deer standing, looked like a mile away on a ridge, and all the boys that was there, I guess Ace was there and some of the rest of ‘em, says, “Come on, Bruce, you can hit it.” Had a big rifle, I don’t know what it was, but he went ahead and pulled up that rifle and shot; leaned it agin a tree and shot, and all of ‘em said, “You got it, Bruce, you got it.” “Naw,” he said, “I couldn’t a got it, it’s too far away.” Well, they walked over and just over a ridge of of this hill there laid the buck. He had got it, airight. But Dad told em that his dad, when he was growing up, was just a young man, his dad would kneel down on the ground—my dad wasn’t big enough to hold the rifle, and Granddad would kneel down on the ground and Dad would put the rifle across his shoulders and shoot. But you put a shotgun in my dad’s hands and he couldn’t hit the broad side of the barn. But he was a rifle shot. I’ve seen him, he’d go hunting, he’d take four or five sheels hunting with him, that’s all he needed, he’d bring all of ‘em but one back. He was a good shot.
AAC: Well, I told you the other day, or my daughter did, we come in a wagon now; we didn’t, we came in a 1917 Hudson Super Six; nine passenger touring car. Coming over the summit between Dillon, Montana and Monida, Idaho going down into Idaho Falls, there was about two of snow on the ground; no road graders them days, you waited ‘til they got ready to clean the roads out.
CS: Can I say something? Why don’t you tell them about some of the other cars that were in the group too, besides just the car that.
AAC: Well, our car, my father and brother that was older than me, we had this Hudson and when we got into Dillon, as I started to mention, the snow was about a foot and a half or two foot deep and hadn’t been broke down off the summit. Money was short; not enough to stay in a hotel, so we went down and we bought four log chains, inch and a half chains, and made snapon chains and fastened ‘em over our regular chains; put four on each rear wheel, and we bucked the snow coming down off the summit clear to the top of the radiator, ‘til it ‘d get so we couldn’t push it and we’d get out and shovel it and back up and go again. And we broke the trail that way for two or three model Ts and an old Dodge car they had. And that’s how we come into Idaho. It was kind of a strange deal, we got into Idaho and at that time they had these native pheasants, they’d stocked the country with pheasants and we’d been used to shooting sage hens and rabbits and stuff over the other side of the Rockies, and for the first six months, why, very few pheasants we got, ‘til we learned how to kill ‘em, see, they were so much faster that what we’d been used to. In Wyoming I’d take a single barreled shotgun and ltd shoot one asettin’ and put another shell in and get another’n