Mary Jane Erickson Terraza and Karen De Shazer

Recorded October 5, 2010 Archived October 5, 2010 37:10 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: DDB000822


Karen De Shazer (53) interviews local resident Mary Jane Erickson Terraza (82) about growing up in the Mohave area, her ranch and her animals.

Subject Log / Time Code

Mary Jane describes when she moved to Bullhead City, AZ from Needles, CA.
Mary Jane talks about the area and the schools she attended.
Mary Jane remembers her chores at home - taking care of the animals.
Mary Jane talks about riding horses and being the “Rodeo Queen” in 1949.
Mary Jane talks about horse riding in the area, in Grand Canyon and Death Valley.
Mary Jane remembers some of the stores and other farms in the area.
Mary Jane describes all the animals in her family’s farm/ranch.
Mary Jane talks about the casinos and the weather in the area.
Mary Jane talks about a plane crash that occurred in the Airport about 40 years ago and killed 2 people.


  • Mary Jane Erickson Terraza
  • Karen De Shazer

Recording Location

Mohave Community College Library

Venue / Recording Kit

Partnership Type

Fee for Service


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00:02 My name is Karen De Shazer. I'm 53 years old. Today is Tuesday, October 5th, 2010. We are doing this interview at the Hargrove library at Mohave Community College has Bullhead City Campus in Bullhead City Arizona. I have just met Mary Jane today, but I've been told a lot about her and that she'll be a real help this project. So I'm looking forward to talking to her today.

00:33 My name Mary Jane Erickson Terraza. I am 82 today is October 5th.

00:46 And now

00:48 Community College, I don't know

00:52 I don't have a partner. I'm your partner today. I called you up. That's okay, and I'm sure glad you came down here Mary Jane.

01:02 Have you lived here all your life or when did you first move to the area that you come with your family or have you always lived here in Needles, California and my

01:13 My mom and my dad's

01:16 Divorced and then then she she married and we moved to appear my stepfather was a cowboy. So we moved up here to have a ranch and 37 you bought property here. That's when I moved here. And how old were you in 9 years old something like that and I'll go with math. That's why I moved here with your step. Dad and my mom and your mom and your mom's name.

01:46 Murray okay was Mendes's you married both harcus. Alright in the end your step dad's name was Marcus Marcus Spears when she was she was married my real dad you okay Bill Pugh needles and then she married mr. Go harcus Albertville Harold and he owns some property or so you moved here. What did you think about living here? Then tell me a little about life as soon as you got someone here. It was pretty lonely. We only had three or four neighbors in the whole area hardly any anybody my age, you know, they had aboard me out different places. I boarded and gone to school every school in the area.

02:28 What were some of those schools are tell me how you remember going like your first day the school here any of your friends and then we moved over here, and I think I went to Topock, Arizona and now went to

02:50 I think desoto's Ranch next. I went to Yucca. I went to Oatman.

02:59 And I went to Kingman graduated from the 8th grade to Catherine mind. They don't still have a school there at all right now. Catharines mine. Not anymore. I have a little one-room school. Now you say that your parents boarded you out your dad's your stepdad was ranching. And what did your mom do and what did you mean by boarding you out? Well, I had to go stay with people. That's how come I got to know the show does real. Well Virginia's other when I stayed with her parents in in Yucca and

03:38 And just in Topock, I can't remember the people's name where I stayed and that's why they ain't you know, I stay with people and go to school. They have any brothers or sisters know I was just you and your parents. What do you what was the you said there was hardly any people here at the time. When when you moved over here from Needles. What did you do for recreation when you weren't in school, what did you do?

04:05 Worked I rode horseback. That's that was my hobby and help with the cattle or whatever had to be done. I helped and I didn't have any.

04:16 You don't get to my age cuz there wasn't any Harley around.

04:22 And so you got into horses took care of my horse and I rode with my stepdad and gather cattle or whatever we had to do.

04:32 Now that's become a lifelong hobby of yours. Correct? You are still have horses I still ride. And do you have a property big enough for that? Where do you where do you live now? Do you still live on your step dad's rash appear across from Rotary Park amazing. Obviously things have changed a lot since you moved her you said in the beginning that you didn't have electricity or telephone to the property where you live? I got your talkin to somebody who can't remember that. I didn't know any better. I never had any electricity or we had the radio and Battery radio and that's about all we had. We had no electricity. No phone, no nothing. So when you came home from school at night,

05:27 What happened? Did you have interior lighting of some type? What did you like your house with? And what did your mom? What was the routine when you came home from school at night? Does your mom make dinner make you do your homework? And did you have to do chores? What was it like

05:47 I don't remember the homework part. But anyway, I had animals to take care of we always had cattle and sheep and horses and always had some goats are all kinds of animals are chickens and stuff like that take care of and that was kind of my job. Take care of things to feed. You didn't go to the supermarkets that there weren't any supermarkets, I had to go clear to Kingman. Oh my goodness. And how far is Kingman from here? And how did you what type of transportation did use your father have a stepfather have an animal old horses over there? Not that far. I did ride from the ranch to the castle remind horse back to school.

06:41 My stepdad work Juno and down in the valley and and I'd ride to the photos Ranch. I guess you heard of it down. There have them where exactly is a mansion in relation to things today here and we're also does ranchers, you know where ever to walk amole Rose farm where they're hey and stuff is yes, I do. It just says there's a road that went into the ranch did not much there any more. All right, then knew had a little Schoolhouse there one room school house and and then you're so later. I do remember when but anyway, they had school inside the Old Ranch House and how many people came to school everyday? I was just you and they have some children of theirs that went there and they have us kids.

07:31 Back in those days. They had eight if they had eight students. It could have a school they bring in a school teacher from outside, or was it mrs. Soda, or bring a teacher?

07:51 What's what did you like about living here? Then vs. Now I mean do you like it just as well now living in this area or where things a lot easier back in the day when you first started is your cuz you have stores and all that kind of stuff but not then everything you could go anywhere cuz it was a No-No people. No, no streets one little dirt road that went down. Did you do a lot of Recreation on the river? A lot of people told me they either fishing near they wouldn't let me go to the river quite a few several of my relatives drowned in the river or something like that go down catch carps and and and on the back little back Waters and stuff like that, but they didn't let me go play in the water with you.

08:51 Do you remember any of those incidents taking place or something like some of your relatives drowned bad? Yeah. Well, I don't remember so long ago. That's that's a sad thing. That happened. Did you learn to swim though? Do well no worry about it. I'm across the river with I mean for the river with a horse waiting to cross it lowered they held the water back. Alright upright up in this area. That held the water back and and we will we walk the horses across we can go around the puddle, you know, the deepest spots and we rode across the river horseback didn't swim just walk. Now. You must have had there were a few families here. You said the so those who are some of your other neighbors that people that been here for a long time that may still be here that you were mad.

09:51 Having transactions with the right up here along the doll for that.

10:00 Used to be laws or Road

10:03 Anyway, they took their I don't remember what the Mojave Drive or something right up here. Okay. Anyway, that was that was a lake that was all water and along the edge of it was and he was game warden. His name was Buddy Fox live Ride Along edge of the water. They're good place to live and how about if we have you around here?

10:28 Well, we had I don't remember too. Well, Jean Shaw had a little little ranch for like

10:39 Off of them

10:42 Hancock Inn in Lakeside right on that corner back in there had a little ranch Farm like head cattle. And then later on I had a shorty shorty Clark and then later had

11:04 Shorty Oz wood and his family. I don't know if you've interviewed the Osmonds. No, I haven't but she's she's Hancock now Sarah school with her and Oatman. What was that? Like, I mean there when things open is a a tourist town now it wasn't like going to school there. How many people were there?

11:26 Pretty good side school, but I don't remember how many people there but it was that was in the blooming days when the goldroad was going and open and everything and you and Sarah were pretty close. Close pretty close to shoot a little younger than me. But you know, I went to school and stayed with them. I had it my folks left there with them. Just go to school during the week. And how did you ever get into any trouble at all too much of a troublemaker us? Well, I can remember a few times when I've gotten into trouble with girlfriends and doing things that kids. Do you never never did anything that you got in trouble for from your parents are either one of you talk too much?

12:17 Are you there? What one of the people that was interviewing asked me to ask you about the time you were elected rodeo queen tell me about that. That sounds like that was in Kingman Kingman Rodeo was rodeo queen and

12:37 49 I believe it. I believe it was.

12:41 What did you do is rodeo queen, who are you competing with and was it easy? Did you want it? I don't know. They were several girls. I don't remember their names but 249 a blue hose rodeo queen 48 oz best all around cowgirl at the rodeo in Kingman at the time.

13:08 Wasn't as many people list put it that way now on money that you remember some of the people you were you were there with of the rodeo.

13:17 Well

13:19 Not really cuz we just went up there for ourselves you.

13:24 What do you have to do to get the rodeo the rodeo queen?

13:30 What do you have to do? Yes, well.

13:34 That make you do a little.

13:37 Would you call it?

13:40 We have to go to Barrel race at the at the Rope cows. I never was a good Roper. I roped a lot but not not Rodeo good enough for rodeo. And I guess back in those days. They weren't too fussy as they are now good Rider and

14:03 Did you have a favorite horse? So oh, yeah, go ahead a favor horse and then you when did when did you get them? Tell me about what type of horse was he?

14:12 Oh, I don't know probably part quarter horse and they bought me a horse.

14:21 De Roda Roda to school and

14:25 Then she got pregnant and had a baby and I raised the baby and taught him all kinds of tricks and oh my goodness. I've never seen a horse born before all of us. Were you there? When no, I don't care. I didn't seem born behind born to my mirror and and then they gave away my mare to some goat herders up by Bo Rhodes had goats. I didn't know they were ever word boats on the other side of the mountain with somebody brought them in and kept them they weren't while they live there, but people live there and had two goats.

15:04 And so you Mexican people that lived up in there and head coach and so you took this young horse then after my folks gave gave these people my Mi mayor. She was a mere two so they heard Two Goats, you know, I guess I got a better horse in no day. But anyway, she was pregnant and we didn't know it and she had this cold. It was a pretty little cold. So my

15:33 Step dad mom want it back but but the little coat back from them and that was I raised it up and trotted tricks. Like what type of Tricks I've never had a say. Yes, and no head need counting. I can make him laid down and that I taught him. You must be good with horses and he work for them all your little bit of time to and how many horses do you have today?

16:05 Oh, I got to I have three saddle horses and I have to Sri four other horses that I bought from people to help them out.

16:15 Do you be bored them at your place? And what's involved in boarding a horse? This is foreign to me. I I'm a city girl to have a pain to put them in and you have to feed them and clean the pan everyday and water and liqueurs. Take care of them. All sometimes a pitch in and help me so we can go riding together. I get my chores done and we go out riding the ride it everyday or and where do you buy?

16:50 No, I don't ride everyday. I ride on the weekends pretty much when the other girls are ladies as are all younger than me, but then most of them were working on their days off so I can go riding and we go horseback riding. So what's up? What's the best trip you've ever taken on your Horse Strip? Yes, most exciting and adventurous thing that you've ever done with your horse in this area.

17:17 Well, I've done a lot of things I've written down in the Grand Canyon Death Valley horseback all over we used to catch wild Burros when I was still home Yamaha. Now, you can't they you know, they stop they stop here in and less or late sixties early seventies. You can't catch him. You can't do anything with them, but way back when you could borrow permit Salim to do that and I always went along we went down in the Grand Canyon and I've been up about twenty miles up the canyon and down the canyon from Mom. How'd you get down to it? What where'd you go down in the Grand Canyon? I think of the name of the trail that we went we had permission to course to go down and Camp up on top.

18:12 And from and you got permission from Trail, okay, for first times we went down. I've never been down. It kind of Frayed Knot horses. Didn't didn't didn't know anything about it either. So we walked and bled them down. This is a thousand Trail which way did you come down on the side? That's a steep Trail. Did you you said you got off the horse and let the horse sound because so they get used to all those switch back soon is too narrow. That's what we done. We built we hold.

19:04 Fancy hanging poles and all the stuff down on Horseback and build a holding pen and we drove the Burrows into this pan. And when we got them gathered up with we don't mock the trail is how we got him out great and they don't let you do that anymore. Do they know know? I know it's it's frightening going down when they say the horses aren't as sure-footed as as mules. I think they take mules down there now are used to it. They do it every day, but take a horse has never been down a trail like that. There was more time does Buche no doubt, but what if I know it's a little negative, but what don't you like about living here now that has changed over the years.

19:56 I don't know. They're so strict with everything. How did the rules regulations cuz I'm right in the city.

20:05 You have to have a license has four things that board horses. It's always been a ranch. So we're grandfather or my folks were grandfathered in because it was a ranch before City or anyting started. So that's a reason I can have horses there, but don't have to clean the pans every day and how old when you are off twice a week. Can you keep things clean?

20:33 Do you ever wish you might have done something different ever? Wish you might have left the area and live someplace else.

20:44 Not too far when down into Mexico one year that's about as far away as I've been Mexico pretty far from here, or did you go by yourself or no? My dad another couple and I went down drove down down to Mexico City. We went over to Pancho Villa's house and looked it over and then we went on down to Mexico City in

21:11 And your mom and dad and this other couple what did they leave the area or they lived here all their lives when they were living in the area. They moved I think Montana thinks where they were from all the other couple of you remember who they were out of the way and now I feel forgot their names.

21:35 So you've liked your life here. It's so happy that everything you wanted. You said you went to school and open now. It's a tourist town though. Is that at?

21:49 That is shames you to see people just going there to pet the Burroughs and take tours of the mines when people used to actually be out there working hard for a living and now it's now it's just a rose didn't used to hang around there in those days. They get caught.

22:08 A lot of traffic jams not was a main highway to King meals to sick old 66 Road in Kingman in.

22:18 We didn't do they didn't feed them. So they didn't hang around when you lived here your your stepfather rash and you've ranch style your life taken in horses. What are the businesses? Do you remember around here and what business have you seen come into the area that you're glad that they're not here right up on top of the hill from where I live. Now. There was a Derry way back when and then up on down on Hancock Road. It was a very down there too. Long time ago. Did they have a brand that's what they call it. So it's such and such Farms that they take them a letter though. They called Hector Cordero. I don't know what they called it, but

23:12 It wasn't while they have me come over to help milk cows and stuff like that. Was it hard to learn how the milk cow? We always had a milk cow to have fresh milk.

23:27 And do you have one today though? No, no damn chickens or any other chickens.

23:39 And do you breed have you ever bred in the animals and all for sale? And did you ever at one point in any point in your life breed horses or breed is the Catalan once in a while shelter horror sure.

23:55 My mom and I went way back when when there wasn't hardly any stores place to get fresh meat we used to raise rabbits.

24:05 Had a little rabbit business going on with dress him out and on people take orders and we just out the rabbits. The only ones Carson are best for for raising it. Then you needed a little bunny rabbits that you see any of the domestic kind not the wild kind of remember what their names were. They were just has a big white ones with pink eye to have white ones and what's involved in raising rabbits for food. Did you make either make pets of them, right?

24:38 I never make pets out of my animals too much.

24:44 Yeah, we just had we had a few doses it call him in the books and breed them in and show all the babies and what's involved in dressing a rabbit.

24:58 Like I need to know I guess he said you dress the rabbits. What do you do split it between the legs and just pull it right off. You have to cut around a little feet and stuff like that. That's where they get. Well, it's it's more attached encumbered open them and you have to clean clean them up and do

25:35 Play some reason we just sold them whole. It's just we called it get it inside out.

25:45 Clean them up and that's the way we sold them. So you must not have an aversion to blood that. You must not be afraid of seeing dead animals are blood then I've been through it all good night wish to butcher cattle and sheep on it. My folks raise pigs to way back then so hard to keep him contained.

26:18 And it's hotter in their reaction to the damn. They had a mess hall.

26:24 Cross on the Nevada site and they was to give us the garbage do they call it? Do you know from the mess hall food left over food and stuff. That's what we raise pigs on go get it every day. They can get rid of clean, you know, they wouldn't put coffee or paper stuff in it is always clean and we go pick it up every day and come see the pics.

26:48 Now, is there anything that you wished you would have done more of here in the area that do you wish that you would have this is first I'll bet you he's never gotten married. Did you ever wish you would have ever had any kids or whole life? I've been married twice. I hear I am I was making an assumption that you know, I've been married to their names have one son from my first husband.

27:16 He passed away and then I remarried and I lost him too. So I've been widowed twice. Oh my goodness and your son. My son lives right next door to me. That's really what's his name Carl and he probably helps you out with the horse person who don't help me all he will if I actually have car trouble or some water problems or something like that. He'll come and help me but

27:48 What do you think about the casino is here? It hasn't really changed things to change the community when the casinos came to town people moved in you as a do you? What's your personal feeling about? I'm are you you like gambling? Do you think it's I don't gamble now it says I used to go over once in awhile. My mom will my mom like to go over we can go over to eat mainly, you know, very low price quarters and put them in when they were gone. If she didn't win was ready to come home. We put in a few quarters and it never was a gambler. It's just didn't appeal to you or you just work too hard to earn your money to lose. If a quick bite that's certainly seen the changes Community to a lot for a lot of people though because they said a lot of businesses weren't here until the casinos came in and brought more workers or

28:48 Power plant. So you do remember when they built the power plant over on the other side by the time I was living in Old Bullhead City and the power plant was right straight across the river from me. Are you going to watch them constructive? How long does it take us to see part of it? And I can see too much but

29:07 Swear, they were building it that brought a lot of jobs since there and a lot of people that eventually settled in there. They say that used to pollute the air a lot. Do you think it's a lot cleaner. The air quality now that they shut down that plant. I don't know if you could dust on your table or tubing your wife. It comes off black. We always claimed it was from the coal. I don't know if it's true or not, but we have a lot of storms here in the area to are there any that stand out in your mind is

29:42 Notable, I've heard they've been tornadoes here earthquakes huge rainfall has any you remember in particular any any of those times and what it might have done to your Ranch?

29:56 Male I can remember the earthquake we had.

30:00 Shook will not lock stuff down and we had one big rain kind of like the one we had couple through months ago. We had a junkyard up a card pass Canyon my husband and I had a junkyard in that wash came down. So

30:20 I just filled up and went through the car's when anyone window. The other took out our chain link fence and all that work than he had to repair it Florissant next time it rained to do any good or Saturday. We were on Horseback up there. We trailer it up and rode up there and it had came down done quite a bit of damage to the places up there now and the winds are pretty Fierce around here. Sometimes to Madeira deer animals ever get upset with the weather conditions not things blowing around, you know.

31:06 If you don't have a chain down around here or tied down the roof come off and fences go bowling this way in that plastic bag. Sometimes scares me all the wind gets in them and I'll take the bag so you can just watch it going. Sometimes. It'll take it over to horses pet and they'll get scared of it, but not too bad.

31:31 Your hobby it's turned into a full-time job for you. There's not very many other people in this area that keeps tables are there or do you know of anybody else that boards for sale del mundo, Fort Mohave?

31:47 Some I don't know they can't hear okay in the city limits where there because we were grandfathered in.

31:57 Has Beto down in Fort Mohave, there's people that board. I don't know why this came into my mind all the sudden, but I know that in the Fort Mohave area, there's an airstrip out there. Were you ever interests of those line? And do you remember when they established are there strip there and and who put it in and they were taking any flights over the area and look down on the lay of the land and no I don't remember too much about that. This one up here north of old Bullhead decide to Laughlin bridge that went in there. I seen it grown even had a plane Kayla Kyle one time and my kind of stuff but

32:43 Plane crashes friends that killed their right north of them.

32:49 Bullhead to the post office is back and you should be brush all through their how long ago was this was way before they'll dig Bullhead City Airport Banfield in airport is a little little little strip there. That's about the same location. Those were the current area private plane crashed and killed some of your friends or what happened with a driving and or did they live there why they crashed not in the people that were killed you remember you said they were some of your friends but it was two killed in it taken. This was years 5 years ago and 10 year old longer than that for so long that you've known so many people

33:41 Who's the who's the most memorable person you ever met here who stands out in your mind is as someone that was the most interesting person that you've ever met here. I don't remember anybody or your stepdad some of his friends.

34:00 Some of the people you stayed with real characters, I don't

34:06 I forget things. I don't know. He can't think of how we have a gentleman that suggested your name for this interview. And and he said that he rented a place from you Mr. Turner on Lewis Turner. Yeah, he said that that you've lived here for quite a long time and that that it's he was really appreciative that you let him up here a little camper trailer park now that's that's something that a lot of people probably don't do anymore and it probably can't do it in the city anymore. But when you first moved here doing all the people bring their trailers or manufactured homes with them or did they actually just build homes from the ground up?

34:54 Well, I don't know a lot lot of these little homes way back then were moved like down from go roads after they close down the mine had a lot of vacant little houses and Oakman did too but mostly go Road. They moved some of the fact my stepdad used to move houses and move some down from go roach back. We lived in a little house City brought down really move down from go roads. That's kind of kind of Bullhead started that way okay with bringing in homes in little houses you and then adding on to him that annoying or building better Windsor.

35:38 Mary Jane, I really appreciate you taking the time out of your schedule. And I know that you said you had to take care of your horses this morning before you came down to come down and tell us a little about life in this area. How would you

35:53 Like people to remember you would you would you what would how would you describe yourself? If you were going to use one sentence to tell people that this is what you're about. What would you say?

36:07 I don't know what to say. If you are a hard-working Woman Who Loved horses or that you were the rodeo queen all my life not not for a wages of it at home, you know and you've enjoyed living in this area and it's been a good place to grow up in living and that's right. You are a lot of changes as far as you see things.

36:31 Ramping up in this area to see more in the street coming here or you think things are pretty much going to stay the same.

36:38 I don't know.

36:40 I keep building everywhere. I go like that. I cared the ecology. I hadn't been up in here in years, and it's it's been filled all over I was lost when I get up here, but I certainly appreciate you coming here today, and I hope that it was pleasurable for you and that it wasn't upsetting than you enjoyed your time talking to you today. I'm not very good at great. He did a great job. Thank you so much for coming today. You're welcome.