In February, 1989, Betsy Woolpert sat down with Grace Marshall Totten to hear about her memories of life at the Logan (now Wilson) Quarry. Here in Grace’s own words are some of those fascinating stories of life more than 100 years ago.
―I was born in 1894 in Moscow, Idaho, where my family had a farm. We grew everything there – didn‘t buy anything but coffee and sugar. We had our own dairy cows for milk, butter and cheese, raised and butchered hogs and chickens for meat, kept bees for honey and wax, buried our potatoes underground for the winter, and stored our fruit and other vegetables in a cellar.
My family moved to Aromas in 1905, when I was eleven years old. We arrived just ten months before the big 1906 Earthquake. As far as I recall, no buildings in Aromas were destroyed, but chimneys were knocked down and everything came off the shelves. I went to the Aromas Elementary School for awhile, but in 1907 there was a measles epidemic. My mother was busy caring for all of us, but she got sick too, and the disease settled in her lungs. Although we took her to live in the Southern California desert to help her recover, she died in 1909. In 1910, when I was sixteen years old, I married Harry Totten. He started to work at the Quarry the same year. Harry had learned how to fire up wood steam engines from his father, and drove the first railroad engine at the Quarry, the #1. He spent forty years up there before he retired in 1950.
Around that time, all the men living at the Quarry were Italians. Names like Louie and Antoniano Stephano, Anselmo Antognani, Louie Ramponi and Angelo Rossi. They slept in the Bunkhouse, and the Cookhouse was up above. Then a Recreation Building was built where the men could gather to play cards, and a Bathhouse was put in. Harry used to tell about Jim Ferulli, a plump man who wore strapped overalls. He‘d come home for dinner, grab a chicken, wring its neck and pluck it, wash it off, cook it for dinner and then go back to work.
There were two houses just below the Cookhouse, and down below that another house, where my mother and father-in-law lived. (Anna Totten Wilson was the widow of Robert L. Totten and the mother of Earl, Harry, and John Totten, all Granite Rock Company employees. Henry C. Wilson, her second husband, worked for many years as quarry timekeeper.) In 1915, my husband told A. R. Wilson that I was expecting a baby, and he‘d like to be close to his mother and stepfather because she was going to take care of me. He was building Frank Swearingen a house just then (on the Quarry property), and A. R. asked Frank if we could have it, but he said no. So A.R. dropped everything and went over and built us a house so we could move in and be close to Harry‘s mother. Then he went back and finished Frank‘s house.‖
Grace raised her family in that house at the Quarry. ―It could get kind of lonely up there, so I used to take the kids after they‘d had their naps and we‘d walk up to the top of the hill, sit there and watch the men work. The grocery store in town used to deliver what we needed up to our house by horse and buggy. Sometimes we could get ham, or coffee and bacon, which were delivered by train, at the Quarry Storehouse. The first building next to the Cookhouse was A.R‘s office. He had a couch there where he could rest, and a telephone. Since we had no telephones, we used to go up there to borrow his. At the other end of the building was where we‘d go to pick up our staples and the men could get their work clothes. If we wanted to go in to Watsonville, we‘d take the 11 o‘clock train, and then catch the train back at 4 o‘clock from the Watsonville Station.‖
In 1918, Grace and Harry bought their first automobile. They and other Company families would go together to Monterey, sometimes taking along a tent which they would pitch on the beach and camp overnight. ―One year, ten of us went together,‖ Grace remembered, ―and all of us worked for the Company. Frank and Mazie Swearingen were just newly married. Mack and Mabel Laurence slept on the ground outside the tent. Those were good times.‖
After World War II, increasing truck traffic in and out of the Quarry became a danger to the children who lived there, and the Quarry houses were moved into Aromas. They remain there today, remnants of a bygone era at Logan Quarry.