Dawson, Colfax County, New Mexico, Community LifeEdit This Page
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For details on the Dawson Opera House and its activities, click here.
COMMUNITY LIFE IN DAWSON
Community life is an aspect of company mining towns which is frequently overlooked. In dawson the company owned absolutely everything including houses, stores, schools, and churches. Since the company legally owned the entire townsite, the company possessed an amazing amount of power over the town's residents. The Dawson justice of the peace was a company official who also managed the housing rental of the town, the telephone exchange, and the electric lighting service as well. 1
Phelps Dodge rented small white frame houses to the miners and also provided the necessary maintenance and repairs. If something were amis with an employee's house, the occupant would contact the company offices and a workman would be sent out to remedy the situation as soon as possible.
At times, housing was short of supply at Dawson. Houses were small, and it was not uncommon for two families to live in a four room house. Persons wishing to obtain a house signed their names to the end of a long waiting list. High ranking officials tended to receive the best quality and most modern houses.
In the mid 1920's a five room house rented for $8.50 a month plus $1.50 for electricity and $1 for water. Each month a few days of a miner's wages were used to pay the rent on his company house. The entire payroll was paid in cash. The payroll was stolen only once, when gunmen stopped a Dawson bound train and escaped with the payroll cash. No one was ever arrested for the incident.
Many of the Dawson families had fantastic gardens. Home grown vegetables provided an economical boost to family diets. Families paid a dollar a month for water regardless of the quantity used. As a result, many families had large and extensive gardens and used the water to irrigate their plots. Water cam from wells along the Vermejo River, a few miles upstream for Dawson. Water ran by gravity to a large concrete cistern atop a hill near downtown Dawson. The well water was hard but was generally cool and good. 2
Many families changed houses every few years as the size of their families increased or as they were able to secure better homes. Workers petitioned the company if they wished to move to a larger or more modern home. Many of the miners' families looked forward to the possibility of having a house that actually had a tap of cold well water in the kitchen. Outhouses were a way of life. Some of the newer houses began to include a greater number of conveniences which today are generally considered necessities. By 1930 most of the new houses had sinks, bathtubs, and toilets.
White frame houses had traditionally been constructed by the company. Around 1940 Phelps Dodge decided to construct cinderblock houses as well as the traditional frame houses. The block houses were cooler in the summertime, and probably retained the heat more satisfactorily in the winter. Houses were heated by burning coal, coke or wood. Bins for coal and coke were provided in the back yards of most of the houses. Temperatures in the summer seldom rose above ninety or fell below zero.
People at Dawson didn ot live on street addresses, but rather lived in an area or place. While street addresses may have technically existed at Dawson, most people gave the location of their houses by the area or place where they lived. The town of Dawson was located in a junction or Y where two narrow canyons came together. Neighborhoods comparable to the boroughs of New York developed. Many of the locations were named after the mines, such as Number Four, or Number Six, while others lived at Railroad, Capitan Hill, or Lauretta.
Some women followed the Navajo tradition of bakingbread in bee hive ovens. A fire was built in the stone oven and allowed to heat for several hours. The coaals were then raked out of the ovenand the loaves of bread set in to bake. The oven was sealed and the heat trapped inside slowly cooked the bread until it developed a dark brown crust.
Laundry was generally done in a wash tub with a scrub board. Miners' clothes got terribly dirty, and getting them clean was difficult. Miners would develop a rash if they continued to work in clothes which had not been adequately cleaned. Wives occasionaly resorted to boiling work clothes in lye to get them clean.
By 1930 a few people had saved enopugh money to purchase Maytag washing machines. Yet progress was not without a price, for numerous people remember incidents when an individual they knew either accidentally ran their hand through the ringer, or got their hair caught.
For generations soap had been made by mixing lard and lye. A recent development involved adding borax to the mixture to kill the smell of grease. Mrs. Rivera still makes soap using the following recipe:
2 1/2 gallons melted strained grease
1 gallon cold water
4 cans lye
1 quart amonia
8 tablespoons borax dissolved in 2 cups boiling water.
Melt and measure strained grease. Set aside and let cool. Dissolve 4 cans lye in one gallon cold water and let sit until cold. When grease and lye have cooled, mix together and stir well. When grease starts to thicken add 8 tablespoons of borax in 2 cups boiling water and the quart of amonia and stir well until thick. Let sit until hard and cut into bars.
Dawson residents appear to have been happy with the health care they received. The company hired several doctors who would visit the sick either free of charge or for a nominal fee. The physicians had good rapport with the residents of the community. If a parent were not completely satisfied that a company doctor had diagnosed the symptoms of a sick child accurately, the parent might request the head physician to visit the home to offer his diagnosis of the child's ailments. Before the age of sulfa drugs and penicillin, doctors would often sit at bedside with sick patients for long periods of time.
Dawson had a hospital and a dispensary which furnished services free of charge to company employees and their families. The hospital, which was constructed in 1906, was clean and well equipped. The Dawson hospital had seven private rooms, an office, a surgery room, an X-ray room, two wards, a kitchen, and a nurses dining room. Four nurses who lived in a house behind the hospital took turns working the day shift from seven in the morning until seven at night, and from seven in the evening until seven o'clock the following morning. While the hospital was never terribly crowded, nurses were expected to follow doctors' orders explicitly.4
Prescription drugs were issued to the town's residents by a company pharmacist at the dispensary. A local dentist had his office on the second floor of the dispensary building. "Over the counter drugs" were available for sale in a section of the company store, Phelps Dodge Mercantile.
Phelps Dodge operated Phelps Dodge Mercantile as a special division of the company with stores in all of the Phelps Dodge Company Towns. The original store building which had been constructed in 1902 was converted into a gymnasium in 1914. Phelps Dodge decided to make the new store building, which was also constructed in 1914, as modern as possible. Dawson had been producing over one million tons of coal a year for the past five years, leading the company to speculate that the town would continue to grow. Phelps Dodge brought several Indians to Dawson from Taos, New Mexico, to perform the manual labor needed in the construction of the new store. 1916 proved to be a peak year for coal production with 1,439,904 tons of coal. 5 Although coal production declined in following years, the store was used until the town closed in 1950.
The new store was square in stature with sides ranging in length from 100 to 150 feet in length. The main structural support of the building was concrete. The basement housed an ice plant which manufactured 5.000 pounds of ice per day. Ice was required by the town's occupants for keeping perishables cool and fresh. Air was circulated through the water as it was being frozen so that the ice would freeze clear in color. Ice which was allowed to freeze motionless would appear white in color. The bakery was originally in the basement, but was moved upstairs in later years. The remainde of the basement was used for storage of groceries. The building's freight elevator was run by water pressure and utilized a combination of pumps and valves to move the elevator up and down.6
The main floor of the store housed hardware, men's and women's clothing, shoes, drug store items, the grocery store, and an extensive meat department. Dawson residents liked meat. As a result, large quantities of beef from surrounding areas were shipped to Dawson where the meat was sectioned by the store's butcher shop. 7
Furniture items were displayed on the mezzanine, and the bakery and offices were located on the top floor. The store had a fleet of six (6) delivery trucks and made numerous deliveries around town. 8
Phelps Dodge Mercantile had several large display windows. Phelps Dodge hired a professional decorator to design and execute the furnishing of the windows and the interior of the store. Photographs of the exhibits in the store's display windows were entered in several national contests, and the decorator received national recognition several times. 9
The latest fashion shows were always available at Phelps Dodge Mercantile because of the size of the store. People from Raton drove to Dawson occasionally to do their shopping. A railroad siding ran behind the company store. Grocery items were unloaded from refrigerator cars, slid down ramps to the store basement, and deposited in giant refrigerators. While most people in Dawson had ice boxes, few had refrigerators. Those without refrigeration of any kind purchased their perishables from Phelps Dodge Mercantile on a daily bases. 10
Company employees were strongly encouraged to shop in Dawson. Script could be cashed for only a portion of its assigned dollar value. By 1930 the rulings forcing employees to shop in Dawson had been relaxed. While Phelps Dodge felt it was offering goods for sale at the lowest prices available, many of the miners and their families felt that they could get better buys elsewhere. As a result, many of the miners bought automobiles around 1930 so that they could travel easily to other neighboring towns to do their shopping. Up to this time, people wishing to travel to Raton from Dawson had to take a small bus called "the stage", or ride the passenger car called "the Polly" which was usually attached to the end of coal trains traveling between Dawson and Tucumcari.
Phelps Dodge was willing to extend credit to miners and their families, even during the strikes of the 1930's and 1940's. Employees of the store saw the extension of credit as a kindness, while others have claimed that offering credit was a ploy to keep the miners in the coal fields through debt to the store. Many of the families would have gone hungry during the extended strikes if they had not been able to obtain credit from Phelps Dodge Mercantile and other grocery stores in neighboring towns.
Phelps Dodge did permit other local businesses besides Phelps Dodge Mercantile and the company coal processing operations. Other local businesses included the Dawon Lunch Counter, Dawson Barber Shop, Dawson Beauty Shop, Opera House Fountain, Dawson Sweet Shop, Dawson Taylor Shop, Dawson Hotel, Dawson Garage and Livery, and the Bank of Dawson. Phelps Dodge owned the buildings, but leassed them to invidual proprietors in order to fulfill the communnity needs. Saloons were added to the list, but were closed during prohibition. The Bank of Dawson developed as an ofshoot of the company offices.In 1915 the bank was capitalized at $30,000 but had deposits of $170,000.11 The bank did not fail but closed in the late 1920's and successfully paid off its depositors.12
Many of theminers who owned automobiles would drive from 30 to 50 miles in a single direction on pay day in order to obtain better prices on grocery items purchased in large quantities. The mother of 13 children would purchase the following items on the first and fifteenth of every month:13
150 pounds of flour
100 pounds of potatoes
25 pounds of lard
enough baking powder to get by
A grocer in Maxwell loaded a van with the items usually purchased on a weekly basis by his Dawson customers, and made weekly deliveries.14 A sheep could also be purchased in Maxwell for three dollars. Mothers had their hands full and had little time for socializing. Wives frequently made thier own soap, baked their own bread, built fires, cooked food, and attempted to care for the little ones. Supper had to be started by three o'clock in the afternoon so that the meal could be moved to the rear of the stove to make room for heating bath water which must be ready by the early evening hours.
In 1915 there were four schools in Dawson. Total enrollment was 513, but, average attendance was only 450, which was considered "very good".15 The population of Dawson began to rise creating the need for additional grade school and high school buildings which were constructed in 1920. Schools in Dawson were crowded, but behavior was not a problem because both parents and students desired education and expected discipline. Primary classes progressed slowly, for not only did students have to learn to read and write, but many students had to learn to speak English as well.16 The names of many children were undoubtedly changed by many teachers who had no idea how to spell the foreign names. If a teacher heard a name which she did not know how to spell, she would spell it phonetically as best she could. Many Croatian, Serbian, and Greek names no doubt suffered a great deal in the translation.17
Classes were large and usually containes from 48 to 50 students. An extreme example occured in 1923 - 1924 when Mrs. Ona Randall started the school year teaching 75 fourth grade students. At midterm, she still had 66 students in the class. Eventually another teacher was hired and the class was divided in half. Mrs. Randall took 3o pupils to the community room of the church for class instruction while the newly hired teacher taught the other half of the class.
Class enrollment varied remarkably during the year and children of fourteen or fifteen years of age were often in the fourth grade. Parents ere behind the teachers one hundred per cent, and children were expected to mind. Those who were not obedient were beaten by the teacher with a length of a rubber hose. As the years passed, children gradually began to be in the traditional grade for their age groups. In 1950 Dawson was the only New Mexican coal camp which had ever had an accredited high school. Students from many other coal camps who wanted to attend high school had to either commute to a school in a larger town or find a place in town where they could live. High school girls sometimes helped women with their housework on a regular bases in exchange for room and board.
When Antonia Colamdinaa was in the second grade her father was killed in a mine accident. Her distraught mother thought of returning to the old country, but did not know what to do. Eventually she decided to take in boarders. Since the mother needed help preparing the food at home, instead of forcing one child totally drop out of school, she had her children alternate days at school. One would go to school one day while the other stayed at home, and the next day the second would go to school while the first stayed home.18
Another woman who was forced to support herself after her husband was lost in the mines, made her living by lighting fires for people in the community. Each morning she would rise early, follow a set schedule, and light fires in the fireplaces and stoves of her customers. Losing a husband or father in a mine disaster was a further tragedy when one considers that the family's entire source of income was eliminated. Compensation received from the company upon the death of a relative offered temporary support and might even pay the price of returning the family to the old country, but, the compensation would not support a family for a long period of time.19
Fathers worked long hours in the mines. Upon arriving home they would probably be ready for supper, perhaps a bath, and bed. Mothers traditionally had numerous children, cooked on wood or coal stoves, washed laundry by hand, scrubbed floors on their hands and knees, and had little time to devote to seemingly "frivolous" activities. As a result daily recreation was minimal and recreation was concentrated into special times and activities. The town's people were proud of their community and a winning team gave them a feeling of pride. Inter-community sports competition was intense, for victory gave the camp's people a feeling of dominance.
Baseball was a popular sport at Dawson and the other mine camps as well. Phelps Dodge sponsored a baseball tteam which competed with teams from towns in the surrounding areas. Phelps Dodge felt that sponsoring the local baseball team was a worthwhile public relations investment.
The community supported the baseball team to such an extent that businesses closed during the games. Grandmothers came out wrapped up in their shawls to cheer the team on.20Two brothers who were terrific baseball players graduated from high school in Denver around 1924. One went to play baseball for the Detroit Tigers, while his brother was essentially recruited to play baseballl for Dawson. The man's job at the washery was a llight one and his work attendance was sporadic. Everything went well for a few years until the man got his right arm caught and cripples in the equipment at the washery. Phelps Dodge kept him on the payroll, but his baseball carreer and his right arm were ruined.21
Dawson High School had a dynamic basketball team. Dawson is on record for winning state and district championships several times. The gymnasium was small and crowded for every game. Lots of people from Dawson were there, as well as numerous fans which followed the visiting team. The gymnasium, which had originally been the company store, was a building with a series of balconies which came practically to the edge of the court. The crows yelled and screamed and the games were generally highly exciting.22
In later years Dawson had a football team as well. For many years the Dawson field was basically a rough piece of prairie. In the late 1940's, a grass football field was planted and nurtured. Former dawson residents have indicated the senselessness of installing a grass football field and paving the road to Dawson only a few years before the town closed.
Despite claims that Dawson had the oldest golf club in New Mexico, the course was a crude one. Men from the community interested in golf decided to construct a golf course around 1912. With the permission of Phelps Dodge, the men utilized a portion of land on the west side of the Vermejo River. The putting greens were constructed of oiled sand, designed to prevent weeds from growing and to make maintenance as easy as possible, if not nonexistant. Sand traps were not needed as the course had plenty of natural hazzards such as arroyos and gullies.24 While the golf club was not exclusive in class, the players were primarily those of English and Scotish ancestry, and tended to fill managerial positions with the company. In 1928 The Dawson News stated, "The golf course is in excellent condition....There are no weeds on the fairway".25
Dawson had two tennis courts and a swimming pool. The swimming pool was constructed by Phelps Dodge around 1926. The pool was located near the riverand was used only in the summer months.
Evening entertainment was available at the Opera House. Travelling vaudeville shows performed there, and in later years movies were shown instead. For men billiards and bowling were available. Several lodges shared a common lodge room by scheduling their meetings on different nights of the week. Some of the clubs and organizations which met regularly in 1928 included the Masons, Eastern Star, foresters of America, Knights of Pythias, the Dawson Club, Ppythian Sisters, Woodmen of the World, Sociedad Mutualista de 5 de Mayo, the Dawson High School Association, and the American Legion.26
Movies were shown [[|]]featuring Rin Tin Tin and Tom Mix. A soda fountain was also installed in the opera house as well. New refrigeration equipment was installed in 1928 to keep the ice cream properly frozen and the soda water cooled as well. The refrigeration compressors would need to have been replaced in 1928 because of a change in the town's electrical system. Up to this point in time all of the electricity used at Dawson was generated locally by Phelps Dodge. As demands for electricity increased, the company's generating facility was repeatedly overtaxed, creating a constant need for larger and larger generating facilities. In 1928, Phelps Dodge agreed to bring in outside power from Springer, New Mexico. The electricity transmitted through the new power lines, however, alternated at a frequency of 60 cycles a second, which was at a rate faster than that which had previously been generated at Dawson. As a result, all of the electrical motors had to be replaced with motors designed to run on the sixty cycle current.27
The President of Phelps Dodge Corporation, Dr. James Douglas stopped at Dawson in his railway car in 1913 for an inspection tour. The leader of the local band, an Italian baker and his fifty or so band members met the train with instruments to welcome the president with a concert. The band boys had no uniforms. Just as the president was leaving the next day, he called the resident general manager over to his car and ordered fifty-five uniforms for the boys, with the bill to be sent to his own office in New York City.28
Many of the town's young people participated in outdoor acticities of their own. Because of Dawson's rural location, it was ideal for hiking and picnicking in the neighboring mountains and valleys. Dawson's two boy scout troops, troop 1 and troop 2 also received support from the company. The troops entered the community first aid competition and went on extended campouts during the summer months.
Occasionally a circus would come to Dawson. In 1928 the Christy Brothers presented two big five ring wild animal shows and a parade. The publicity indicated that the show would include 1250 people, 500 horses, 50 caged animals, 30 lions, 5 bands, 2 calliopes, and 2 cars of elephants and camels. Local residents were invited to witness the 1000 character spectacle "Noah and the Arc". A free street parade started at noon and was followed by shows at two and eight PM. School was dismissed early, and a newspaper advertised. "Every child will be given a ride on one of our baby elephants under the careful supervision of the trained mahouts".29
Dawson held a special community day celebration in September which featured a vast number of contests and activities. Events included sp[orts of all kinds, a first aid contest, a rolling pin throwing contest, free movies at theopera house, free lunch and ice cream, music by the Dawson band, a baseball game against Delagua, a diving contest in the swimming pool, a coal shoveling contest, and a free dance. New Mexico's Governor Dillon, came to Dawson for the 1928 community day, pitched the first ball at the baseball game, and stayed until the band played "Home Sweet Home" at the end of the dance. Dawson lost the ball game, but won a game against the same team the following day.".30
The customs of the miners who came to work in the mines of Dawson revolved heavily around the use of alcohol. Wedding celebrations lasted a full week, with everyone eating and drinking merrily. Few people became intoxicated at these parties because food was available in such great quantities. Wine was customarily served with meals as well.
Many of the people at Dawson made their own beer and wine. Some people tried to grow their own grapes, but the climate was poor. As a result, grapes were shipped from California. Box cars of grapes were shipped to Dawson in the fall. The ranch department delivered the grapes throughout the town on wagons, selling the grapes by the ton.
Visitors were occasionally surprised to find that almost every home in Dawson had a basement. These basements were used as wine cellars. Usually several families would work together. The families would prepare a large batch of wine and store it in the basement of one of the houses. The wine however, would be left alone for five years, allowing it to properly ferment. The makers of wine would rotate it in sequence, drinking the wine from one cellar one year and another the next.31 A visiting guest was always offered a drink of the best wine available, and to decline was an insult.
The Dawson school teachers were required to visit the home oaf each child once each year. The teacher would usually make an appointment and visit the child's home on the appointed day. In an effort of hospitality, the miners would usually offer the teacher a glass of wine. The problem which aroze was that many of the good Methosdist school teachers did not drink alcoholic beverages. The teachers would take a sip of the wine and set the glass aside. Eventually most of the miners discovered that the teachers did not drink. When a family saw a teacher approaching the house, a child would be sent to the Sweet Shop to fetch a glass of Coca Cola.32
The 1918 Annual Report said, "State wide prohibition became effective October 1, 1918. The consequent abolishment of the saloons will remove a certain amount of diversion which hitherto has been enjoyed by the employees, and we should devise some method of providing a satisfactory substitute."33
The town of Dawson was located on property owned by the Stag Canyon Fuel Company and leased by Phelps Dodge Corporation. All the property in Dawson was owned by “The Company.” As a company town, the lines between local government and the company blurred.
Immigrants who came to work the mines brought their beliefs and family traditions with them. Dawson residents were proud of their town. When the United States entered the World War in Europe, a great many Dawson men registered for the draft.
Families who had been drinking wine with meals for generations may not have cared about the wishes of the U S Government. The 18th amendment to the U S Constitution, which prohibited the manufacture, sale, or transportation of alcoholic beverages, was ratified January 16, 1919 to take effect January 16, 1920.
Celestino Vincioni worked in Dawson for five years. He then left the camp, moved to Maxwell, and started a business selling goods to mine camp residents. He later moved to Raton. In 1923, Vincioni was selling grapes so the miners could make their own wine. He took orders In Dawson and surrounding mine camps. He purchased five rail cars of grapes from the California Italian Produce Company. A. C. Voorhees, an attorney, went to Dawson with Theodore Marchiondo of Raton to ascertain if there was anything that was required before grapes could be sold there. Phelps Dodge declined to issue a permit. On September 27, 1923, while delivering a carload of grapes, Celestino Vincioni was arrested by L. O. Mace, the Dawson town marshal for unlawfully trespassing upon Phelps Dodge property without the permission of its agent or superintendant. Vincioni was taken before T. L. Kinney, Justice of the Peace for precinct 13 in Colfax County, New Mexico. Kinney had been elected Justice of the Peace, but was also a Phelps Dodge employee. He was Supervisor of Tenements and Manager of the Opera House. Following his arrest, Vincioni was held for about three hours before posting bail. Vincioni had made a $2000.00 deposit on the grapes. After his arrest, he turned the grapes over to Phelps Dodge since he could not deliver them. Vincioni was convicted of trespassing and appealed to the District Court in Colfax County where he was convicted again. Vincioni was rumored to be a bootlegger. Yet, no evidence was ever offered at trial about him selling wine or other spirits.
During the prohibition, the Dawson News published advertisements for malt. The ads implied that malt could be used in baking. The ads never mentioned that malt and yeast could also be used to make beer.
The criminal case of the State vs Vincioni was appealed to the Supreme Court of New Mexico in 1925. Vincioni won his case at the Supreme Court. The justices reversed the District Court conviction on the understanding that there had been no violation of the law. The Supreme Court questioned how miners could lease houses from Phelps Dodge but have their visitors denied access, as the streets were private property. Anyone renting a house from the company was required to sign a lease. They had no voice; they could take it or leave it. The justices felt that with a lease, tenants and their families should be free to use the streets. They felt that tenants’ homes could be visited with permission by anyone for any lawful purpose.
Later in the summer of 1925, attorneys for the state of New Mexico requested a rehearing. Vincioni won again. The Supreme Court justices adhered to their original disposition in the case. Celestino Vincioni was discharged by the District Court in Colfax County on January 25, 1926 and his bond released.
On August 6, 1926, Celestino Vincioni, who was now living in Folsom, New Mexico, filed a civil suit in District Court in Union County against Phelps Dodge Corporation and William D. Brennan, manager of the Stag Canyon Branch, seeking $10,000 in damages and $5,000 for “unlawful, willful, wanton and malicious acts”. Joe Di Lisio signed documents for the trial as a notary public. A jury trial was held in Clayton, New Mexico beginning July 19, 1927. The presiding judge was Carl A. Hatch, from Clovis. Hatch was later appointed to fill out the U.S. Senate term of Sam G. Bratton. Hatch was elected in his own right in 1934, and reelected in 1936 and 1942. He is best remembered for authoring the Hatch Act of 1939 and 1940.
Witnesses testified at the trial that “No Trespassing” signs had been posted around Dawson. The signs apparently bore the name “Stag Canyon Fuel Company,” while the mines were operated by Phelps Dodge. Vincioni testified at the trial that he did not know that the grapes would be used to make wine. Attorneys for the defendants (Phelps Dodge) requested a directed verdict. The following day District Judge Carl A. Hatch sustained the motion and the jury found in favor of the defendants, denying Vincioni’s claims for damages.
Vincioni appealed the case to the Supreme Court of the State of New Mexico in Santa Fe. In April of 1930, the Supreme Court concluded that the District Court judgment should be affirmed. No damages were awarded. Vincioni’s request for a rehearing was denied July 17, 1930, almost 7 years after his arrest. Prohibition in the United States lasted until 1933.
The Dawson residents paid little attention to the wishes of the Federal Government. When asked about consumption of alcoholic beverages during the prohibition, one miner's wife replied, "I never knew a miner who did not drink".35
A few Dawson residents, however, possessed feelings reminiscent of the Women's Christian Temperance Union. Family conditions were far from ideal. Money was scarce and miners frequently had large families, with sometimes as many as 13 children. On a weekend a husband might come home briefly, and then promptly take most of the family's ready cash to go out drinking with his friends. A wife when asked if she were worried about her husband's failure to come home indicated, "He knows where he lives. When he gets sober enough he can come home."36
The small town of Colfax was located 5 miles down river from Dawson, where the Vermejo River and the Dawson Railway crossed highway 64. On weekends Colfax was always a swinging place. Plenty of moonshine and dancing were always available at Colfax on weekends throughout prohibition. Before and after prohibition Dawson men generally congregated in the local saloons. The men usually went home so that they would be sober enough to go to work Monday morning. Phelps Dodge was not concerned about the drinking habits of its employees, but was rather interested in maintaining a happy work force.
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