San Joaquin Valley Oral History Project

Important Notice: The materials are open for research use and may be used freely for non-commercial purposes with an attribution (This includes use on social media). For commercial permission requests, please contact the California State University, Bakersfield Historical Research Center.

Preferred citation: San Joaquin Valley Oral History Project. [insert name of interviewee]. California State University, Bakersfield, Walter W. Stiern Library-Historical Research Center. https://hrc.csub.edu/oral-history/bakersfield-sound/. [insert date accessed].

 

Name Abstract
Subject(s)
Date Interviewed 
Interviewed by:
Ralph Anthony

Audio 

Transcript

Moved to Bakersfield, California in 1948, Anthony was one of fourteen children whose father was the pastor and founder of St. Peter Missionary Baptist Church in Bakersfield. Anthony became the director of the Friendship House in Bakersfield in 1971. Anthony describes what life was like for the early African-American community in Bakersfield. He retells stories heard from early pioneers about the first migration of freed slaves into Kern County for use in the fields and goes on to describe the employment opportunities and limitations that many of these early settlers came up against. Anthony details his own experiences growing up and working in Kern County, as well as the services of the Friendship House that were designed to improve the lives of the black community members as they struggled to live and work in poor and often discriminatory conditions.
Early Black History in Bakersfield
30 October 1977
Ralph Ben Jester
Richard “Dick” Apsley

Audio

Transcript

Apsley emigrated to Fresno from Belfast, Ireland in 1908. He moved on to Bakersfield in early 1909 and was a pharmacist at Hughe’s Drug Store on the corner of 19th Street and Chester. Apsley recalls early downtown Bakersfield businesses and the people who owned and worked them, while also recounting his personal experiences working at the drug store and the hospitals in Bakersfield, California. Early Migration in Kern County
8 November 1970
Orville Armstrong
Mrs. Ray Armijo

Audio

Transcript

Armijo discusses life in Kern County during World War Two. Armijo was living in Shafter, CA, and discusses the changes in the city, markets, and regular life during the war effort. The topics discussed include war-time industries, rationing, civil defense drills, braceros, and volunteer service. Kern County During World War II
14 December 1974
Frank Armijo
Mary Ashe

Audio

Interview Summary

Transcript

Born in Kern County in 1893, Ashe lived in an area called Panama within the town of Bakersfield. Her farming family came from Chapel Hill, North Carolina in 1868. The Ashe’s migration was motivated by rumors that Kern County had developed irrigation. Ashe first recounts the history of Kern County from the 1860s onward and then goes on to describe early farming life in the area. She describes pioneer life in Kern County, and how families like hers existed by growing gardens, owning dairies, and keeping livestock. She recalls in detail many of the families and businesses that were in the area early on and discusses the Panama school which she attended. History in Panama, Kern County
10 May 1976
Jose A. Benavides
Pete Baclig, P. Maturino, & L. Uribe

Audio

Transcript

Pete Baclig and Pete Maturino describe how the Teamsters labor union organized farmworkers within Kern County in the 1970s. They describe the major differences between the Teamsters’ and the United Farm Workers’ union, and also how they believe the Teamsters were providing better working conditions, benefits, and higher wages for employees within their union. Teamster’s Union in Kern County
28 July 1976
Susan McColgan
Henry Bock

Interview Summary 

Transcript

Born on October 31st, 1890 in Los Angeles, California, Henry Bock was the son of German immigrants, Ernest Herman Bock and Freda Franka. Bock began working for the Southern Pacific Railroad as a call boy when he was sixteen years old. Over the course of fifty years, Bock worked various jobs on the railroad with train routes that went through Bakersfield, Los Angeles, Fresno, Mojave, Barstow, and Tehachapi. Bock provides details of his experiences working on the railroad during the Great Depression, World War I, and World War II. Railroads in Bakersfield
23 October 1977
Bill Picking
Estell Campbell

Interview Summary

Transcript

 

Estell Campbell was born in 1910 in Porterville, California. In 1936 Campbell moved to Bakersfield, California, and began working for the American Telephone and Telegraph Company (AT&T). His career spanned from 1936 to 1971 in which time he held several positions including repairman, installation foreman, and cut-over supervisor. Campbell discusses the technical aspects of working with early telephone equipment as well as the quick advances in technology that were made in the field during his career. Pioneer Memory Days: The Telephone Company
30 October 1977
Charlotte Torrey
Frank Claudino

Audio

Interview Summary

Transcript

Frank Claudino was born in Rosedale, California in 1897. His parents were originally from the Azores in Portugal. Claudino goes on to describe the strict Catholic marriage customs that the Portuguese adhered to. Claudino tells of his family’s early experiences and hardships of herding sheep in the Green Horn Mountains. Claudino also comments on farming practices and early ranching in Kern County and also recalls the town of Bakersfield in its earliest days. Early Life in Bakersfield
31 March 1974
Patricia Davis
Charles S. Curran

Audio

Interview Summary

Transcript

Charles Curran was born in 1890 in Bakersfield, California. He was the director of Bakersfield Sandstone Brick, which was founded by his father in 1886. He also comments on how the company changed from its start in the early pioneer days to modern times. Curran describes the early manufacturing of sandstone brick in Bakersfield, the company’s experiences during the Great Depression, World War One, and World War Two. Bakersfield Sandstone Brick Co.
1 May 1976
Alice Pinkerton
Charles H. Dodge

Audio 1

Audio 2

Interview Summary 1

Interview Summary 2

Transcript 1

Transcript 2

Charles H. Dodge (interview one) was born on May 10, 1919, in Brentwood, California to Charles H. Dodge, Senior, and Mary Woolsey Dodge. His interview gives insights into life on the Miller and Lux Ranch at Buttonwillow. Dodge also details his career in Kern County Law Enforcement. He served as Sheriff of Kern County from 1967 to 1974. He was married to Bakersfield’s first policewoman, Mary Holman Dodge. Interview two is about the changing suburban landscape of post-war Bakersfield and the rail car. Dodge (interview two) details the changes in Bakersfield’s public transportation. Life on the Miller and Lux Ranch and Kern County Law Enforcement, Rail Car
23 October 1977
Julie DeRuchie
Mary Holman-Dodge

Audio

Interview Summary

Transcript

Mary Holman-Dodge was born on September 23, 1912 in Bakersfield, California to William Harvey Holman and Bertha Beatrice Beshears. She attended Bakersfield area schools and graduated from the University of California in 1933. She joined the Bakersfield Police Department on July 3, 1941, becoming the city’s first female police officer. Bakersfield Police Department, First Female Police Officer
23 October 1977
Betty Parker
Minnie Hallum

Audio

Interview Summary

Transcript

Minnie Hallum came to California via a Greyhound Bus with her baby girl in 1937. She was coming out to reunite with her husband Vernon who was working on the Pomeroy-Jewett Ranch south of Arvin. In this interview, she discusses life on the ranch and life in the city of Arvin during the Great Depression. Life in Arvin during the Great Depression
28 February 1975
Philip L. Baird
Juanita Burton Hinmen

Interview Summary

Transcript

Juanita Burton Hinmen and Ruth Burton Berry discuss their family. The Ebanesir Scott Burton family, who settled in Kern County in the late 1800s. Hinmen was the last of fourteen children, and she describes family life on the farm and dairy where she was raised. Hinmen gives insight into the mourning ceremonies of many of the Chinese immigrant families who were also living in Bakersfield during this period. Early Education in Kern County
20 August 1970
Orville Armstrong
Cara Holt

Interview Summary

Transcript

Cara Holt was born in Oklahoma in 1900. Holt speaks about her early life in Texas, Arkansas, and Kansas, and farming before the Great Depression. Holt and her family moved to California in 1937 and describes her life as a farm laborer in Lamont, CA. Dust Bowl, Migrants, Field Workers, and Laborers
15 January 1980
Mark Britton
Henry C. Mack

Interview Summary

Transcript

Henry C. Mack was an attorney for the Friends of American Indians in 1952. Mack relates the history of the Paiute Indian controversy in which Indian land in Kern County was sold by the federal government to a private party without first notifying the Indians. Mack describes the process and problems involved with purchasing the land back for the Indians, and how the land was used afterward. Kern County Indians, 1952-71
3 November 1971
Unknown
Chris Poulogianis

Audio

Interview Summary

Transcript

Chris Poulogianis emigrated from Greece to the United States in 1900, eventually residing in Bakersfield, California in 1909. He describes his experiences working and living in Kern County in the early 20th century and recalls the town’s early days. Poulogianis worked at a shoeshine stand for many years and developed friendships with many of his customers. He gives a list of 245 names of friends and customers in Bakersfield to be included in his oral history. Early Life in Bakersfield
20 April 1974
Francisco E. Serrano/Jack Coy
Isabell Powers

Audio

Transcript

Isabell Power came to Petaluma, California in 1917, from Colorado, and moved to Kern County in 1920. Powers speaks about her life on a small ranch in Onyx, CA. Life in Onyx, CA
27 April 1974
Patricia Wood
Vincente Silva

Transcript

Vincente Silva started working for the United Farm Workers (UFW) in Kern County in 1970.  Silva gives insight into the history of the labor movement, while also describing the differences between the UFW and Teamsters contracts.  Silva discusses many of the struggles that the farmworkers experienced prior to and after they began to organize for better working conditions. United Farm Workers of Kern County
30 June 1976
Susan McColgan
Jess Stockton

Interview Summary

Transcript

Jesse Stockton was born in 1896, on Horse Shoe Ranch in Kern County. Stockton recalls his early life in the mountains in the early 1900s. He describes his memories of the environment, his family and friends, school activities, education, the early town of Bakersfield.  Stockton came from a family of educated men and teachers and served as the Kern County School Superintendent like his father before him. Early Education in Kern County
16 January 1973
Orville Armstrong
Clifford Wagy

Audio

Clifford Wagy was born in 1878, Illinois. Wagy describes early Bakersfield history from a ranching perspective. His brother was a farmer in the Cuyama Valley. He details some interesting information on Miller & Lux and early life in downtown Bakersfield. Bakersfield history from a ranching perspective
23 February 1970
Camille Gavin
Martin Zaninovich

Audio

Interview Summary

Transcript

Martin Zaninovich was a grape grower in Kern County, California.  The son of a Yugoslavian farmer, Zaninovich describes how the grape and vegetable industry has changed since the early 1900s when his family bought their first vineyard and explains the living and working conditions of the migrant workers which he employs in his fields. Zaninovich’s account is from a farmer, grower, and businessman’s point of view, and he often challenges the image and ideology of Cesar Chavez and the farm labor movement. Growers of Kern County
7 July 1976
Susan McColgan