Part 2 Bert Williams' memories of Delta

By MARILYN COX


Part 2 Bert Williams' memories of Delta | history

Photo submitted The Williams family moved to this cement house south of town in 1913 or '14 where they lived for two or three years. The house was gutted by fire many years ago, but still stands, graffiti and all.

Writer's note: This is part two of a series taken from a written document by the late Bert Williams of Delta - date unknown. Williams was the father of Ralph Williams, long-time resident of Montrose. He lived with his parents who were some of the first sugar beet farmers in the Delta area.

Western Colorado Power and Light Company (the precursor of Delta-Montrose Electric) came to Delta, furnishing power for one large light bulb at each intersection of Main Street, as well as power to homes.

"We were glad to have a light in each room in our house. It was a good many years before folks were able to get electric water heaters and electric cook stoves," wrote Williams.

He told of attending a basketball game that was played in the old opera house situated above the Delta Hardware Store.

"Before Delta built a new high school with an auditorium and basketball court in it, they did their practicing on the gravel-cinder court south of the old Central building. In stormy weather they went to the opera house to practice, if any practicing was done. The old hardware store was destroyed by fire in later years."

The Williams moved to a cement house south of town.

"We were living there in the fall of 1913 or 1914. I remember the sugar beets froze into the ground in very cold weather."

The cement house was gutted by fire many years ago, but part of it still remains today.

"It must have been a couple years after the First World War started in Europe that we moved out to the Gunnison Valley. The German submarine torpedoed the ship the Lusitania. That was what caused the US to declare war on Germany and 'Kaiser Bill,' " wrote Williams.

"When war was declared, the Colorado Militia was called out, and the day the boys left town, everybody had to go to the train depot to see them leave. Several of them did not come back. The Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Delta is named the Harry A. White Post after the first Delta boy who was killed in France.

"One of the fellows was Isaac Newton, an uncle of Wallace Newton who lives a short distance from here. Newton died of the flu and was buried at sea on the way to Europe.

This was when the influenza rampaged through this country and killed so many people. When the flu bug got too bad, people had to wear masks when they were in town. Mother had to make a button hole in Dad's mask so he could smoke his pipe."

Williams recalled the fateful day of June 9, 1917 when Cash Sampson and Ben Lowe killed each other in Escalante Canyon. That left a huge impact on all of Delta County and beyond.

It was around that time that Williams mother entered a subscription getting-contest and won a brand new Model T Ford Touring car.

"It did not have demountable rims so if it got a flat, we had to take the tire and tube out of the wheel, put a patch on the tube, put it back in the tire and put the tire back on the wheel and then pump the tire up with a hand pump. All of this took maybe an hour or so.

"This wasn't so bad tho, because we had used a horse and buggy to drive to Montrose and that took all day. With the car we could drive to Montrose in an hour and a half if we didn't have a flat and if we did have a flat, that took an hour and a half or so -- gosh it made a quick trip compared to what we were used to.

"The Model T had head lights that worked off the magneto and we had to make 15 or so mph in order to have decent lights to drive by. The tail light didn't make any difference because it burned kerosene."

The car had to be cranked in order to start, but it did have a top and side curtains in case of stormy weather.

Williams recalled the end of the war. When the boys came home, everyone in town met them at the depot. The band led a parade from the depot to Main and all the way down Main Street.

"What a celebration, but parents who just had a gold star instead of their boy tried to put on a good front. That was the war to stop all wars -- 'Kaiser Bill' had been put to rest and the world was to have peace. What a dream!"

Next week -- the big snow of 1919. "Every town from Ouray to Grand Junction and Somerset to Delta got buried in the snow of 1919," wrote Williams.