The Memoirs of
Federico José María Ronstadt
Transcription of the Original Text
from the manuscript in the Ronstadt Family archives
at Special Collections, The University of Arizona Library
My father was really failing very fast and died seven months later [in 1889] after much suffering. I had been up all night with him and as soon as daylight came I went to the stage office that my friend Rufino Velez would open very early to dispatch the stages belonging to Mr. Mariano Samaniego. I had no funds to pay my father's funeral expenses and thought of Mr. Samaniego as a person from whom I might borrow $200.00. I knew him quite well since I would repair his stage coaches and buckboards for him when the repairs were needed. He happened to be up at 5 A.M. in Rufino's office and when I told him that my father had died and asked him for the loan of $200.00 he gave it to me. I must say here that it took me three years to pay this loan plus 2 per cent per month interest, the usual interest rate at that time.
Rufino took charge of all the arrangements for my father's funeral and made it with the $200.00 borrowed. A few weeks later, Rufino came to my shop and handed me a fist full with fifteen 20 dollar gold pieces, $300.00 I asked him what it was for and he said: "I know that you are buying your material from hand to mouth and paying outrageous prices for it. Use this $300.00 to get a supply from jobbers in the East and do not worry about the time it will take you to pay it back." I had been paying the local material suppliers $3.00 for a wagon reach, 50 cents for a 2 inch wagon spoke and all other material at similar prices. I had price lists from St. Louis and Chicago houses -- 2x4 oak reaches 10 feet long, 35 cents -- 2 inch spokes oak select, 15 cents, etc. The local R.R. freight was high but after adding the weight I saved over one half from what I had been paying. This gave me a real boost and helped me to make contacts with supply houses and obtain a line of credit. I had the usual struggle in building my business from 1890 to 1900 when, with Rufino's financial help, I purchased my first shop lot 100 feet square on the corner of Broadway and Scott where the Roskruge Hotel is now located.
On my return from California in 1888, and after my father's death on March 2 of 1889, some of my friends expressed a desire to form a group to meet in the evenings and take music lessons. We had Rufino Velez, who was a lover of music and always ready for a good time. He knew not a note but he had, (like many Spaniards), a beautiful tenor voice of great power. Also in the group were Samaniego, Henry Levin, Villaescusa, my brother Dick, Tom Legarra, Lucas Estrella, and Santos Aros. I gave them all a few lessons in the rudiments of music. Dick was a good flutist, Henry could play a little on the violin, Santos Aros had played guitar by ear, and Samaniego had played flute in his young days. We organized as a music club and subscribed enough money to purchase a bass violin, a cello, and a viola. I purchased a clarinet, Rufino a trombone, Villaescusa a baritone, and Samaniego a flute. Dick got a cornet and we started teaching notes and the use of these instruments to the members. Samaniego dropped out and Dick took over the flute. Tom Legarra and Henry Levin had their own violins.
Any printed music of the very easy grades was too insipid and I got the idea of arranging some that could be played more effectively, giving the melodies and counterparts to Dick and Levin, Legarra and myself. In a few months we had a repertoire of danzas, mazurkas, polkas, songs and serenades that I had arranged, easy to play and pleasing melodies and simple harmonies to treat our friends.
Some of the Tucson music lovers suggested to us to get band instruments for a larger group and play weekly concerts at the Court plaza. A Mrs. Strauss (a good pianist) offered to raise the necessary funds to buy the larger instruments like tubas, drums, trombones, and altos. They brought us $300.00 and the rest of the money was used to build a band stand at the Court plaza. Some of the boys owned their own instruments and we all subscribed enough to buy a quartet of saxophones. We called the club, Club Filarmonico Tucsonense.
We played once a week at the plaza for nine years. Always had a good audience. In the summer we would play Wednesday evenings, and Sunday afternoons in the winter months. Once every year we would play a concert at Reid's Opera House for the benefit of the St. Vincent de Paul Society. These concerts and promenade dances would net over a thousand dollars. We would play for church socials, National Holidays, Christmas, and New Years festivities, dances for our friends, and serenades gratis.
We would exact pay from political meetings and parades and that would go into the band treasury. When we had accumulated several hundred dollars, we made a tour to Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Santa Monica, and Redondo (Calif.). The S.P.R.R. gave us reduced rates and all our band boys had a wonderful time at the expense of the band. By that time we had 30 members. Carlos Jacome, Alex Barreda, Filiberto Baffert, Genaro Manzo, Ed Rochester, Joaquin Legarra, Solly Drachman, Pete Grijalva, and others had joined. We had bought two sets of uniforms and we were really an important institution in Tucson. One time we went to Nogales to celebrate a National holiday and remained there three days. We used to play for the dress parades of the Arizona National Guard and, before the Spanish-American War, our entire band joined the National Guard under Col. John Martin. At that time the officers were John Black, Manuel Drachman, Frank Stevens, Willard Wright and others. I was appointed Band Leader with the rank of Sargeant Major. We used to have reviews and parades at the Military Plaza, about where the Santa Rita Hotel is now, and extending to the Carnegie Library and east to Fifth Avenue.
We were having a dress parade at the Military Plaza the Sunday when the news came that Admiral Dewey had destroyed the Spanish fleet and taken Manila. The war was practically ended and the Arizona National Guard was never called for active service. Some time after that, the pressure of my own business compelled me to resign. The band was kept together for a time but gradually disbanded. The Arizona State instruments and uniforms were turned over to Col. Martin and the instruments that belonged to the club were distributed to the old members. Also a lot of band and orchestra music, including all the books that I had written for the original orchestra. Manuel Montijo was known to have salvaged most of the music. His daughter Lolita (Mrs. Aros) told me that when her father had died after marrying the second time the widow, who knew nothing about music, had burned boxes of music left in the home and no doubt several hundred dollars worth of the Club Filarmonico's band music, including my own arrangements, went up in smoke.
During the life of the Club Filarmonico and before and after I was identified with local musicians in home groups, church quartets, and others. I played many times with Mr. and Mrs. A. V. Grosetta, Mrs. Santiago Ainsa, Miss Marie Hittinger, later with Mrs. Sam Heineman, the Cathedral and All Saints Choirs. For the past ten years I have not even played at home. So my musical days are over. I still play little harmonies on the guitar for songs at home, but my love for good music is even greater now than ever. One of the few old members of the Club Filarmonico gave Mr. Sewell two of my old books that he very kindly brought to me. So I have a good number of the melodies I wrote in my early twenties. We have a piano at home. I know the keyboard. I pick some of the old pieces that we had fifty years ago for my wife to hear them. In music paper and pencil that I keep on the piano I have jotted down strains and fragments to remind me of several of the old pieces that were never published and are now lost. I hope to have time some day to write many danzas, mazurkas, schottishes, polkas, waltzes and songs of the old days, many of them real good music.
After my return from Los Angeles, the shop business was repurchased (1888) and I went back to the old routine of repairing and building wagons. At the expiration of the lease on the Vasquez shop, I had to turn it back to the owner, Mr. Adolfo Vasquez, who had returned to Tucson after trying other places. I had to find a new location and had the mistaken idea that it would have to be in the same district as near as possible to the Vasquez shop. Felipe Villaescusa had a small vacant lot back of his new store. The front of Villaescusa's Harness and Saddlery shop was on Meyer Street at the end of Jackson. Villaescusa had expanded his business with the backing of Rufino Velez. Villaescusa was a member of the Club Filarmonico and my music pupil. His previous store was in an old adobe building on the corner of Meyer and Ochoa, owned by the Alcala family. There were four or five rooms along Ochoa Street and the Club had rented the last rooms in the rear from Villaescusa. In joining the Club he became intimately acquainted with Rufino Velez, myself, and all the other members. His business was small but he made a good living out of it. About that time, Andres Rebeil was looking around for some business that he could buy. Villaescusa was willing to take a partner and Rebeil figured that perhaps this would be a good place for him to buy a partnership, but after checking over Villaescusa's records such as he had, a blotter book written in Spanish with a pencil, and taking inventory of the assets, he decided that it would be too small and limited for two owners. Villaescusa had confided in me telling me all about his business and limited resources. I could see that he needed someone to organize his business, and, knowing that my friend and chum Rufino Velez had a lot of spare time from the Samaniego stage work, I suggested to Villaescusa to employ Rufino to start a set of books and organize the business for him. My suggestion did not appeal to him. He knew that Rufino was accustomed to live well and spend his money generously with his friends and was afraid that his saddlery business could not support the cost of Rufino's help.
I mentioned the matter to Rufino and he told me that he could handle Villaescusa's office in two or three hours a day and would be glad to do it for $50.00 per month to start. They got together and that was the beginning of Villaescusa's success. Rufino did not only organize his office, but made contacts for him and loaned him capital to expand. He helped him to acquire the vacant lot almost across the street from his store and loaned enough money to put up the building.
Rufino had always made money as a commercial broker and had a wide experience in merchandising. He encouraged Villaescusa to go with him to San Francisco and to obtain several franchises for well known lines of wagons, buggies, farm implements, and other goods needed in Tucson.
While they made the trip to San Francisco of several weeks I took care of the Villaescusa store since my own shop was close by in the next block. He left two men in the leather shop and with their help it was easy for me to run his business. Of course I did not charge him anything for my time. After all, I was doing that principally for my friend Rufino's sake. When Villaescusa and Rufino returned from San Francisco they found that we had done a good cash business for them.
Villaescusa gave me a very fine Winchester rifle for my birthday which I enjoyed for several years for hunting. So on account of all these things, I rented Villaescusa's vacant lot on Main Street and built on same a small shop out of rough 1x12 pine boards with roof made of shakes. To obtain lumber I made a wagon for Tom Wilson, the only lumber yard in Tucson at that time. I had no tools so I made a deal with Albert Steinfeld, at that time Manager for L. Zeckendorf & Co., to build them a hardware delivery wagon in exchange for a bellows and anvil, drill press, and other tools amounting in value to $250.00, the price of the wagon. That was the first real hand made delivery wagon that Mr. Steinfeld had for his store. They used it for many years and I made several more for them for a period of ten years as the Zeckendorf-Steinfeld business grew -- some for the dry goods dept., others for the furniture, and some heavier express delivery wagons for the wholesale beer and liquors, groceries, and hides.
My shop on Main St. in the rear of the Villaescusa store was not a success. I found myself running behind and decided to let Villaescusa take the lumber building in lieu of cancelling the unexpired time of the lease. I sold the tools to pay all my bills and decided to apply for a job in the R.R. Shops and work for wages until times would change. While I was waiting for a job, I made a delivery wagon for Allison Brothers. They had their wholesale grocery store in the present site of the Southern Arizona Bank. Mr. Charles Etchells, whose large wagon shop was on lower Congress, the southwest corner of Congress and Main, the site now occupied by Tidmarsh, allowed me to use his shop tools to make the Allison wagon -- $250.00. I also made a wagon for J. Ivancovich.
I did forgings for Gardner Worthen & Goss, the original Tucson Iron Works, located on the ground now occupied by the Congress Hotel and the Rialto Theatre and apartments. Congress St. ended at Fifth Avenue. They would pay me $4.00 for the 10 hour day at the forge. That was good pay in those days. I also played three evenings per week for a dancing school at Reid's Opera House - three hours at $1.00 per hour. I had a class of music sight reading twice a week - $5.00 per month, about 20 boys - $100.00. So I was really making my living expenses until a man named Steve Sexton who had done wood work for me in my Main St. Shop came to tell me that Jimmy Moss the horseshoer owned a good size vacant lot on Maiden Lane - the site now occupied by the Fox Theatre. At that time, Congress Street narrowed west of Stone Avenue and with Maiden Lane formed what was then known as "The Wedge" - a narrow strip of stores between Congress and Maiden Lane from Stone Avenue to Meyer Street. Jimmy Moss had his horseshoeing shop in the west corner of the lot and was willing to lease the rest of it for $10.00 per month. Sexton proposed to help putting up the shop shed and pay half of the lot rent if I would furnish the lumber. He would do the wood work on wagon repairing for his own account if I would do the iron work. A number of my friends and old customers assured me of their patronage if I would make another start. I made a deal with Knox Corbett to make a lumber delivery wagon if he would let me have the lumber for the shop. By this time Knox had started a competing lumber yard located in the same place where they are today.
The wagon was used until auto trucks came into service and it was sold to some rancher southwest of Tucson. I found it out at the Las Delicias ranch when I bought the ranch in 1930 from Tom Peters and sold it 10 years later to Dave Hibbs, the present owner. We used the wagon all the time we had the ranch and it is there yet. The gearwoods were second growth hickory, the iron work Norway iron hand forgings. Neither second growth hickory nor Norway Iron has been obtainable for wagon work for 30 years.
The shop in Maiden Lane proved to be in a good location. I had all the work I could do and so had Sexton. In fact Sexton made more money than he could use and started drinking. One Monday morning when he failed to show up Moss told me that Sexton had gone hunting with a friend - both had drunk heavily and Sexton had killed his friend accidentally while taking the shotgun out of the wagon. This trouble unbalanced Sexton. He was hardly ever sober after that. He was a big man with a dangerous disposition - ready to quarrel with his customers or anyone else. I had to tell him that we could not go on, but he would neither sell nor buy. The only thing I could do then was to make an offer for his part of the shop and go home to wait for him to sober up and consider it. In about a week he sent me a note to come down. He was sober and sick. He apologized and told me that he would take an amount smaller than what I had offered him. I paid him that same day and he moved to the Scribner shop located on the corner of Scott and Congress, the present location of the Jones Drug Store. Sexton kept on drinking until he could not any more. He sent for me to see what I could do for him. I found him lying on his work bench in a pitiful condition. I had him taken to the St. Mary's Hospital by the county and a few days later he died. He had left a nice wife and family at Topeka, Kansas several years before. His wife wrote me some time after Sexton died for details. I could only confirm that he had died in the county hospital and had been buried in Tucson.
I had forgotten all about the application I had filed with the S.P.R.R. Master Mechanic, Mr. Gray, when my brother Dick, who was working in the boiler shop, came in to tell me that Mr. Gray told him to notify me that the car shop forge was open for me and that he wanted me to start right away. I had a shop full of work and could hardly know what to do. I thought of my old boss, Adolfo Vasquez, who had built a shop in the rear of a two story brick building which he had on the site of the old wagon shop and he was discouraged with his location. I called on him and told him that I had been offered a forge at the R. R. shops and would let him take over my shop and run it until we had time to work out some arrangement of mutual understanding.
Mr. Vasquez was glad to take my shop and I reported at the R. R. shop the next morning with my hand hammer and apron. Mr. Gray was out on the road so I had to present myself to the head blacksmith in the shop. He said that the only forge open was the main one where the heaviest locomotive work was handled. He also said that the car shop forge was already assigned to another man. I knew that I could handle all the car work, but could hardly expect to do the heaviest locomotive work without some practice, but since Mr. Gray was away I thought it was better for me to wait. The blacksmith shop foreman gave me a drawing and a helper to make a large hexagon nut. The helpers name was Stinson. I knew him. I told him to bring a bar of iron 2x3 inches. He asked me if he should bring some 1-1/2 square material and I said no. We needed a heavier bar. I was not told what the hexagon nut was to be used for. I made it out of the heavy bar by punching the hole and shaping the thickness and the six faces to correspond to the drawing. After I had it made, the foreman told me that the nut was to be used on a cylinder plunger that required very heavy service and had to be made with the grain of the iron around the plunger. In other words the nut that I had made with the hole punches could split under pressure. I made up my mind that I was not going to be persona grata in that shop and took my apron off and left. When I arrived at my wagon shop, Mr. Vasquez was coming with his first load of tools. I told him what I had found. I paid the truck man for his trip both ways and went back to do my repairs. I had left a note at Master Mechanic Gray's office telling him that the car shop forge had been filled by another man and thanked him for his kindness. Later he called me and said that I should have the car shop forge if I wanted the job. I knew Mr. Gray well. He had married a very good musical friend of mine, Miss Marie Hittinger. She is still living at Calistoga, California. She owns the Penney Store building, on the southwest corner of Congress and 6th Avenue, in Tucson. I explained to Mr. Gray that it was better for me not to cause any friction in the shop.-- A lucky day for me.
The following Sunday I was working in the shop on some work that could not wait when the R. R. shop blacksmith foreman came in. He looked at some of my work and told me he was very sorry he had not known who I was. Mr. Gray no doubt had talked to him. He admired a railing that I had forged and finished for an express wagon and said: "I wish I could do work like this. I would quit locomotive work where you have to work for wages for a large corporation all your life." The wages at that time were $4.00 per day for a 10 hour day.
What a lucky thing it was for me that this boss did not know who I was. While I stayed in this shop in Maiden Lane, I had to get a woodworker and there was no one available. I had a helper (Guillermo Diaz) whose brother, Francisco, had done some carpenter work but knew nothing about wagon work. I decided to train him to work on wagon woods and wheels.
The art of making and repairing wagon wheels was almost the special trade of wheelwrights. I had watched Mr. Dalton while I was an apprentice. Mr. Dalton was a very excellent wheelwright. The wheels that he made were almost indestructible. First: the mortises in the hubs were made of the exact size and pitch to a pattern with the proper shape for draft. Second: The spoke tenons were finished for a driving fit with hand hammers weighing from 3 to 10 pounds according to the size of the wheel. If the hub mortises and the spoke tenons were of the correct size and shape, five or six sharp blows with the hammers would set the spoke in place sufficiently tight to stay as if welded and not too tight to disturb the grain of the woods in the hubs and the spokes. If the draft would be tighter than necessary, then the spokes would not set or the hubs would split. After all the spokes were driven into the hubs in correct alignment, the ends were cut off and with a hollow auger the spindles were cut to a shoulder making a perfect circle of the desired diameter. Next: the rims or felloes were bored to fit the spokes. The holes in the felloes and the spoke spindles to be of the proper diameter for strength. After the rim or felloes were also driven into place and all joints perfected, the wheel was ready for the blacksmith to roll the tire weld to the ends, and make the inside circumference of the tire slightly smaller than the circumference of wheel. This operation was obtained by measuring both surfaces with a circular tire gauge. For a wagon wheel 4 feet in diameter requiring a tire 3 inches wide by 3/4 inch thick the tire was made 1/2 inch smaller in circumference than the wheel. The tire was heated to a low cherry red all around either in a furnace for the purpose or by building a wood fire around it on the ground. The heat would expand the metal so that it would drop easily around the wheel where it would be cooled by a stream of water shrinking it around the rim. If the wheel had been made correctly and the tire had the proper draft, the completed wheel would have the correct dish and ring like a bell. The last operation would be boring a tapered hole through the box to fit the box for the axle spindle. This job had to be done with extreme care to insure the proper alignment to set the box in the hub tight enough to stay in place and not too tight to injure the hub wood. Making wagon wheels and repairing them was the most delicate part of the wagon trade. Each wheel had to be treated according to its size and condition and the skill for this could only be acquired by experience and practice. A careless blacksmith could ruin the finest wheels by setting the tires on woods improperly adjusted or by giving the tires excessive draft (making them to tight).
It took Francisco Diaz some time to learn the fundamentals of wheel work, but eventually he had it right. The rest of the work on wagon woods was less difficult. He worked for me several years and a short time after his oldest brother, Gabriel, a good man with some experience in blacksmithing, came to work for me also. The three Diaz brothers were good men and became very good mechanics.
Many of my friends would stop at my shop to visit with me while I was working at the forge and they would like to watch the hot iron while it was being forged at the anvil. I will mention a few episodes that come to my mind. Mr. Royal A. Johnson, at that time a very prominent Republican and County Treasurer, came in to tell me that the Republican convention had nominated me for assemblyman for the next Territorial Legislature, and urged me to accept it. As a matter of fact my inclinations were towards the Democratic party, but I could not consider any political commission. I had no idea of the requirements at that time and my work needed my continuous attention. I remember talking to Mr. George Pusch, a prominent cattleman and meat market owner who had also served in the Legislature. When he urged me to accept the nomination, I told him that I knew nothing at all about law making. He said, "We do not want any law makers -- we have too many laws already. We want fellows like you to keep the others from making any more laws."
Another time a music teacher, Juan Balderas who played in our band, came in to show me a copy of piano music which one of his pupils had given to him. It looked yellowish and aged. The name on the cover was "Sirvase Ud. Pasar" published by Wagner & Levin of Mexico City. The Music was a march written in 2-4 time, exactly the counterpart of Washington Post March written by John Philip Sousa, the well known band master of Washington. The Washington Post March had made a tremendous hit and Sousa was making a fortune out of it. Balderas thought that the same march, only in 2-4 in place of 6-8 time, had been published in Mexico years before under the name of Sirvase Ud. Pasar and the name of the composer had not been printed in the copy. -- While we were looking over the sheet, a young reporter of the Arizona Star came by and stopped as he used to do many times when passing by the shop. He was a friend of mine and joined in the comments regarding the music. I could not believe that John Philip Sousa could have used some one else's music to publish it as his own, but the thing was puzzling. I suggested to Balderas to write to Wagner and Levin and forgot all about it. A few days later I received a copy of the "Musical Courier" plublished in New York with a paragraph copied from a Tucson newspaper relating that I had seen this Sirvase Ud. Pasar music sheet the almost identical Sousa march. The Star reporter had written a short ten or fifteen line news item about it and the New York magazine had copied it. It caused a bombshell in musical circles until Wagner and Levin of Mexico City gave the lame explanation that they had used the popular march as a souvenir to their patrons on the opening of their new store building. They had published this march for piano and whoever wrote the manuscript for them had forgotten the name of the march as well as the name of the composer. The next thing was a short stereotyped article relating the incident and ending by saying that all the excitement had occurred simply because Mein Herr Ronstadt, a country band leader in Arizona, could not read Spanish.
Andres Rebeil, another friend of mine whom I had mentioned before when he tried to buy the Villaescusa store, used to stop to talk to me and tell me that I was foolish to be wasting my time hammering iron when I could get some agencies of factory wagons and buggies and sell them, in other words, become a merchant. I knew the field was good but had no capital. Andres told me that he would go in with me and furnish the capital. Anton Hittinger owned a large lot on Congress, Sixth Avenue and Broadway and was willing to sell 60 feet on Congress running back to Broadway for $3000. This made me think and I started to work on a setup that would be clear and simple to present it to Rebeil. Buy the lot by paying $1500 each. Borrow building and loan money to put up a store and shop building. I had an offer of the $1500 from my chum Rufino Velez. Andres Rebeil to loan the partnership of Ronstadt and Rebeil $10,000 at 8% interest for 10 years. I to manage the business for $100 per month salary. The business was to pay the interest and the building and loan installments. At the end of ten years the real estate (store and shop building) would be paid up and be owned 50-50 by Rebeil and myself. The business would pay Rebeil the $10,000 and the remaining net value of the assets would be the profit to be divided or left in the partnership if the business was to be continued. I presented this proposition to Andres and he took it home to consider it. A few days later he told me that Hittinger had raised his price of the lot from $3000 to $3600 and this was too much. I said that $3600 was not too high for 60 feet on Congress and clear back to Broadway along Sixth Avenue, (the site now occupied by J. C. Penney - including the Ivancovich property on the corner of Broadway and Sixth Avenue). Rebeil lost interest in the proposition but I figured that perhaps I could handle it later in some other way.
With the $1500 that Rufino Velez had offered to loan me I bought a 100 foot lot from Mr. Hittinger on the corner of Broadway and Scott where the Roskruge Hotel and DeLux Bar is now located. I financed the shop building that I erected there by building a wagon for Tom Russell who did the foundations and walls. Another wagon to Thomas Wilson Lumber Co. for the lumber needed and another wagon to Gardner Worthen and Goss for the roofing iron.
Some of my friends thought that I was making a mistake moving from the centrally located Maiden Lane. Mr. Royal A. Johnson told me that I was moving almost out of town but I could not see how. My new location would be only a short half block from the corner of Congress and Scott and only four blocks east of the Maiden Lane location. The town was building towards the east then. As soon as the shop building was finished I moved in and my trade not only followed me but new customers flocked in. I had to hire more helpers and work overtime to keep up. The first twelve months my blacksmith work averaged better than $1000 per month. My expenses were $300 and the cost of materials approximately $300 so that I was making $400 per month net. This was better than anything I had expected.
I made my first vacation trip to San Francisco. I took a month off and Rufino Velez went with me. We had the time of our lives. Espiritu Arriola, a friend of mine, was living in San Francisco with his family. Arriola was a good musician. I had played with him in Tucson during a year that he lived here with his family. He played clarinet and his daughter Loretito, a girl about 16, played the piano for our group. He had moved to Phoenix and, when Phoenix celebrated the coming of the Santa Fe Railroad, Rufino and I had gone to the celebration. Arriola had trained his three sons, Carlos, 14, to play the flute, Eugenio, 12, to play the double bass, Alfredo, 10, the cornet and with Loretito at the piano, and a violinist, six altogether with himself playing the clarinet, had worked up a repertoire of excellent music and was playing every evening at the leading cafes in Phoenix. From Phoenix he moved with his family to San Francisco, and when I decided to go there I wrote to him to get reservations for me. Rufino and I traveled in day coaches at that time and we really suffered from the extreme heat and dust going through the San Joaquin Valley. The afternoon of the day we arrived at San Francisco we were puzzled by the sails of ships that could be seen from the train, seemingly traveling along the desert. We discovered later that they were going on the Sacramento River, the water of which could not be seen from the train. We took the ferryboat at Oakland, crossed the San Francisco Bay and landed at the foot of Market Street. I could not describe the tremendous thrill from the bay crossing and the car ride from the Ferry Building along Market Street to Fifth Street where Arriola had reserved a room for us at a family hotel across the street from the U. S. Mint.
Our first night in San Francisco, we went to see Traviata at the Tivoli, a real opera company and a full orchestra. The seats on the main floor were only 75 cents. After the opera we went to the Zinkand Cafe, a few blocks from the theatre, to hear Arriola and his family. The Zinkand was one of the finest saloons and restaurants in San Francisco at that time. Arriola and his family were playing at the mezzanine stage. When he saw us he made us come to where they were and introduced us to one of the Zinkands. Henry Zinkand had a table brought to us and there we enjoyed the music and the panorama of the beautiful room full of elegant people, most of them from the opera. The orchestra played selections from Traviata and everybody there was happy and showed it. Our San Francisco visit of three weeks was certainly a round of good concerts, operas, invitations to dinners from business friends, and also from new friends for whom we had letters of introduction. San Francisco at that time, 1898, was a center for wonderful entertainments, general happiness and good living. When we had to leave San Francisco, we did so with a heavy heart. Rufino and I made several other trips to San Francisco but never any like that first one.
The second year of my new shop at Scott and Broadway, I installed a steam plant and machines to do most of our heavy work by power. We had a power blower, a drill press, a power trip hammer and a power band saw for sawing and shaping wagon woods from heavy oak and hickory planks. Mr. Dalton had given up his mining and had accepted a place in my shop to run the wood work department. This was a real acquisition for the business and a great help for me.
Return to the Ronstadt Family home page
Return to the Through Our Parents' Eyes home page
Return to The University of Arizona Library home page
Last updated 12 August 1997