Oral History of Val Reidhead
July 17, 2008
By Joyce McBride
Show Low Historical Society
Joyce McBride: This is Joyce McBride and I’m interviewing Val Reidhead and Shirley Reidhead for the Show Low Historical Society Museum and today’s date is July 17, 2008. Good afternoon! How are you doing, Val?
Val Reidhead: Fine
JM: Good! Okay, now the Reidhead family has been around for a long time, probably since the beginning. Right?
VR: Yeah, yeah, a long time.
JM: Mostly the Reidhead family is known for their sawmills.
JM: So I’m hoping that you could tell me, if you can remember, the earliest stories that your family told you about coming to the Show Low area? White Mountains? And then how you got into the sawmill business and what was going on in the area then.
VR: Well, what I remember, my family was in the sawmill business all my life, you know, so I remember growing up in lumber camps when I was just a kid around Linden and Pinedale, Clay Springs, all over the country in there you know.
JM: When did your family come to the area?
VR: Well, I can’t recall just exactly when they come in the area, but my dad started his first sawmill in 1913.
JM: Okay, and what was your father’s name?
VR: Ed Reidhead
JM: Ed Reidhead?
VR: Uh huh
Shirley Reidhead: Edwin
VR: Well, Edwin. We called him E.D.
JM: Okay, and did he come with his, was he young when he came here, or was he an adult?
VR: No, he was a young man when he come here.
JM: So his parents didn’t come with him?
VR: Yeah, uh, she’s up on that more than I am.
SR: I don’t know what year or anything. I could look it up real fast.
JM: What was their name?
VR: John, John Oscar, yeah was my grandfather’s name. They came from Utah down here.
JM: Salt Lake City?
VR: Uh huh
JM: So they came in the late 1800s?
VR: Yeah, I’d have to look it up. I’ve got it all. I’d have to look it up, yeah.
JM: And they settled in the Pinedale area?
VR: They first settled around Linden, yeah. My grandma and grandpa settled over here at the old Reidhead place on the White Mountain and lived there for years. And then after my grandpa died, my grandma had a ranch out around Linden and they worked that and also lumber, you know, in the lumber business, all the boys.
JM: That was the only industry here. I mean you had your own ranches or farms, but for making money. . .
VR: Uh, no, there were some bigger mills in the area, but they were just small mills to start with. But cattle and horses, you know, a lot of people raised horses and did trading with the Reservation.
JM: Fort Apache?
VR: Yeah, so my family ran sheep back in the early part of the 1900s there, or 1905.
SR: Your grandma and grandpa, they were here at Lone Pine in 1880 because their oldest son was born in Lone Pine. Clarlie was.
VR: Yeah, 1880 at Lone Pine.
JM: Charlie Reidhead? So they were here when Corydon Cooley was here.
VR: Yeah, uh huh
JM: Hum, pretty much the beginning, (laughs.) So they stayed, or did you say they went back?
SR: They stayed because all their children were born here.
JM: Right there at Lone Pine?
SR: In different areas. Some of them in Taylor, some in Linden, Taylor. Clad Reidhead was the only one born in Show Low. And he’s the one that owned the area up there going to Lakeside where the Meadow is?
JM: Yeah, up on the hill there.
VR: That was the old Reidhead Homestead there.
JM: That was it? Where Lloyd lives.
VR: Yeah, where Lloyd is. His dad was the one that. . . He was my dad’s youngest brother.
SR: And he was born in 1905 and they were all born here, all the children.
JM: Was there a big family?
SR: Oh yes!
VR: Yeah, there were twelve kids in my family.
SR: And there were eleven here, eleven kids originally, but they were all up here in this area, so.
JM: Did they all work in timber? Or did you say more cattle or sheep?
VR: Yeah, and then all of them mined in asbestos mines in Salt River for years.
JM: Okay! That’s that one you can see off the side of the road on the Globe side of the Salt River Canyon? That asbestos mine?
VR: No, that was a big outfit there. That was uh, oh I can’t think of the name of it now. It was a big outfit. My dad and his brothers was on this side of the Salt River. And then, in them days they took their, the asbestos down to Salt River and they had a tramway. That was the only way to cross it. There were not roads then, just trails. And they would send the asbestos across on the tramway. There were some big mines on the other side there, but right now I can’t recall their names.
JM: That’s quite a commute to go all the way to the Salt River.
VR: Yeah, yeah they had to pack everything in, you know, their food and . . . The fact is the whole family worked down there, all my older brothers and sisters.
JM: Was that during the Depression?
JM: Oh! Okay.
VR: And before, you know, before the Depression.
JM: So, when were you born?
VR: I was born in 1930.
JM: 1930, so right as the Depression started.
VR: Uh huh
JM: And what was your mother’s name?
JM: Cora, and what was her last name?
VR: Uh, Kay
JM: Kay! She was a Kay.
VR: uh huh
JM: Okay, so, now the Kay family was more of Snowflake, aren’t they?
VR: No, Lakeside
JM: Or are they. So your mom and dad met somewhere. Do you know how they met?
VR: Oh, I probably heard it, but I forget.
JM: Probably was a dance, or in high school, if they went to school together in Snowflake.
VR: Yeah, something like that.
SR: I don’t think your dad ever went to high school.
VR: No, he never did go to high school.
JM: And you said his name was, again? E.D.?
VR: E.D. was what everybody called him.
SR: But his name was Edwin
VR: Edwin, yeah.
JM: And you have how many brothers and sisters?
VR: There was eleven brothers and sisters, with myself twelve as a total, yeah.
JM: So they all lived around here as well, so you had two families of Reidheads with 11 or 12 kids apiece.
SR: He had a sister that died when she was young, very young.
VR: Well, at birth yeah, one sister. Anyway they raised eleven kids.
JM: Your father then, you said started a sawmill.
VR: Yeah he had sawmills, and then my first uh, you know to go to working around the sawmill was after he . . . Actually they relocated over in Nutrioso. After they left out West here, then Nutrioso and then my brother took the mill over at Nutri and my dad started the mill here in Show Low. That was 1946.
JM: Okay, so by that time, the wood was going to Holbrook on the Apache Railway?
VR: Uh no, back in the old days out there, it would go to Holbrook as railroad ties. They cut a lot of stuff for railroads. And then also they would go down to haul stuff south to the copper mines down around Patagonia and places like that.
JM: For shafts? Mine shafts?
VR: Yeah, to go into the shafts. They’d shore up the mines with the timbers.
JM: How would they haul it?
VR: They hauled it in trucks, just small trucks.
JM: So by that time the road was through.
VR: No, the road was bad. The road was narrow and crooked all the way. The road was going through Salt River then.
JM: Because the original road went through Cassadore Springs and. . .
VR: The original road went down Whiteriver and on down through Black River and came out on the San Carlos, somewhere down there, which I never did know much about that because they were building this when I was just a little kid, you know, through Salt River. I remember driving through there when I was probably 8 or 9 years old, or a little younger than that.
JM: Yeah, I think that was a Depression thing.
VR: Yeah, see some of my cousins worked on that too, did a lot of blasting and stuff like that.
JM: I guess they stayed in camps along the way as the road was built.
JM: But you were growing up here.
VR: Yeah, I was growing up around here, went to school in Taylor, between. I was born here and then later on we moved on camps around and then moved to Taylor for a couple of years, then back to Show Low.
JM: Did your family follow the sawmill camps?
VR: Yeah, for years. Yeah, we’d be there in the summer, you know through the summer, and when the kids had, the older kids had to go to school, well we’d move back to Show Low or Linden or. Some of my older brothers and sisters went to school in Linden. And then my first schooling was in Taylor.
JM: Your mother would move back, but your, I mean your father would continue working until it snowed? And then shut it down.
VR: Yeah, uh, they’d be there. Well, they’d run the mill all winter, but my mother would be there through the summer, and older sisters, you know, to work, whatever.
JM: So you spent a lot of time outdoors.
VR: Yeah, a lot of time!
JM: Did you go to Standard?
VR: Yeah, we to go to the old Standard. The old Standard mill was built while we lived out there, while we were still there. They had railroads, put railroads all over and they’d come in and run the old Standard mill for not too many years.
JM: It wasn’t there long.
VR: Uh uh. McNary . . .
JM: Did they like build a temporary railroad, that just went up and then they’d take it with them?
VR: Yeah, they’d just, yeah they’d lay down the railroad bed and put the rails down and run it. And then when they got through a certain area they’d take that all up and then move. The same way up here around McNary. They had a lot of railroad that they you know, run it all over there.
JM: I know about the train to Maverick, but that was famous because it was the last one?
VR: It was, and then it was the area that they moved a lot of timber out of for years.
JM: So you grew up doing this and went to school. Were you involved with a war?
VR: I was in Korea. My brother older, just a little older than me was in World War II.
JM: So you remember what it was like living here when all the men were gone to war.
JM: What was it like?
VR: It was, we run a little old sawmill, you know. My dad, he had a sawmill and had a lot of transients coming through. They’d stop and he’d give them work, you know, to get on to where they were going, and help them out, you know. A lot of them was going to the West Coast to work or, you know in the shipyards or something. It seemed like a lot of them come through here and he always had a little work for them and we always fed them to help them on their way.
JM: Now that road that goes to Payson wasn’t here, right?
VR: No, no.
JM: So on their way going north again.
VR: Yeah, there were sawmills out in the area, and then uh. I just don’t remember when that road was built. There was evidently no road dropping off that Rim, but I don’t know just when. You know, it was really built. Because I think everything had to go around. I don’t know.
JM: I know there is a forest road that goes on top of the Rim and it goes up to Winslow. Was that road there?
VR: You know, I don’t know. I didn’t really know much about it out that far.
JM: This was a pretty remote place at that point.
VR: Yeah, but I do remember the old Linden road, it would go through Linden and then it would go out to Pinedale. And then, to go to Taylor, the road turned to Pinedale and went to Taylor. There was no road between Taylor and Show Low, you know out where it is now.
JM: It kind of curved.
VR: I do remember that.
JM: Did you have to ride the bus up to school up that way?
VR: No, the didn’t have busses them days, we just walked mainly. Rode a horse or walked.
JM: What was your favorite subject in school?
VR: Oh, sure wasn’t school! (laughs)
JM: The wives always laugh when I ask that question.
VR: No, it was probably geography, cause I was always wanting to be somewhere else. (laughter)
JM: I see by the time the Korean War happened, so that was about 1948.
VR: Yeah, I went in in 1947.
JM: And did you go to Korea?
VR: Yeah, but I didn’t mean to. I went in to see the world, you know, and then Korea just come along while I was in there. I had to stay for a while. And I seen the world, you know.
SR: He was on an aircraft carrier in the Navy.
JM: Oh! That’s good! Got to see all the water you wanted to see. When did you get out?
VR: I got out in ’51.
JM: ’51? When did you two meet?
VR: We got married in ’51.
SR: ’51, we met in about 50. . .
VR: About ‘47
SR: But I knew his brother and sister.
JM: Which ones?
SR: I knew Eddie, or Edward, and then I knew his sister Lula. I had known them most of my life.
JM: So you grew up here too, then?
SR: Well, I grew up, I was born in Phoenix and then we moved back up here for a few years and then we moved to Phoenix. And I lived in Phoenix then until I started high school when we came back up here.
JM: What was your last name?
JM: Hall! Oh, you’re a Hall! You’re from the Hall family that we’ve a Hall Street here?
SR: I don’t know but we’re probably the first Hall family here, because Jean Hall is no relation. And then there are some Halls in Snowflake that are no relation. But most of my family lived right here.
VR: Yeah, the all pioneered in here from Utah.
SR: You see, I go back to the Mills and the McNeils.
JM: Okay, yes, those are old names, old families.
SR: My family worked on the road.
JM: Highway 60?
SR: Highway 60
JM: So you remember, everybody talks about the, what was it? The Palace, where you could go dance and they had concerts.
SR: And the Blue Moon
JM: And the Blue Moon
VR: Oh yeah, yeah, the old Blue Moon. That’s where I learned to roller skate, up there. They let kids go up there, well anybody could go up there and roller skate, you know. I done that. I was 11 years old when it burned down.
JM: Oh! So, you didn’t get the full affects of it.
VR: No, no
JM: It sounded like a magic place, everybody talks about it.
VR: Oh it was, it was something! It would gather crowds all around the mountain, you know, come from far away. Saturday night and I guess Saturday night was was a big dance night, and there was always something going on then. Roller-skating, a lot of entertainment for kids you know, too.
JM: Family events
JM: So did you meet at something like that? Or . . .
SR: No, I was too young. I can remember when the Blue Moon burned. We lived here, but shortly after that we moved to Phoenix. I remember hearing a lot about it because my aunt Berta Loveless was married to the West that had that.
VR: Yeah, that owned it.
SR: Owned it. Later he was in the Service and he got killed. I don’t remember it. I was too young to actually remember, but it was the talk.
JM: Where was it located?
SR: Over by where the Maxwell House is.
VR: Just about right where the Maxwell House is.
JM: Okay, that’s what I was thinking. On the Deuce of Clubs.
VR: Uh hum
JM: Because Leland Nikolaus told me that his parents had a house near the roller skating rink and I’m thinking, what roller skating rink? That would have been off of Eleventh or something though, wouldn’t it? Or off of Huning? For the Nikolauses?
SR: Leland lives on the spot where his mom lived when I remembered them. I don’t remember anything before. I just remember going to his house when I was a little kid, because his mother was my aunt and if Mom needed somebody to take care of me, that’s where she took me.
JM: Oh! Now this Reidhead House that is down here on the main drag here. Who’s house is that?
VR: That was Charlie’s
JM: Okay, and he was the first one born here.
VR: Yeah, right
SR: Charlie Reidhead
VR: Uh huh, see now he was in the cattle business, raising horses and stuff back in them days. He built that house, but I can’t remember just when it was built. It has been there for a long time though.
JM: Yes, and being brick. That has always been curious where the brick came from.
SR: There were several of those houses around.
VR: Yeah, several and they were big houses, two-story houses.
SR: Big houses like that, the Ellsworths across the street and then some more downtown.
VR: That brick might have come out of Gallup. They made a lot of brick over there in Gallup, New Mexico it seemed like back then.
SR: And they were all built about the same time, weren’t they?
JM: Somebody told me that down about where Pat’s Place is they used to make a brick right in that area.
VR: Well, they could have done that. There was a great big brick house right on that road, that back road there. It used to be the old Savage place.
JM: Okay, Charlie Savage?
VR: Yeah, and then the Penrods had an old brick house and they turned the bottom part of it into a store up on White Mountain Boulevard right on Huning Street and Deuce of Clubs. Right there on that. I knew Mrs. Penrod because I used to go in there and buy candy all the time. So I remember her real good. She was a real nice lady.
JM: Okay, so you two got married. You came home and you got married. You decided to get married, or you got married.
VR: No, after I got home.
JM: After you got home you got married, and so you decided to stay here in Show Low?
VR: Yeah, we stayed here. I went to work at the, around the mill, the sawmill.
JM: Okay, was that paper mill here yet?
VR: No the paper mill wasn’t here yet. It was in the ‘60s when the paper mill moved in.
JM: I remember coming as a kid into town. There was that sawmill right down here off of Central.
VR: Yeah, right down there where the old Safeway
JM: Double D Furniture Store?
VR: We had a planing mill there and then just up a ways from there was our sawmill where we cut logs. Right behind it just half a block.
SR: They used to store logs, bring the logs in there. That’s where we put them.
JM: And there were some houses back in there that were sawmill houses?
VR: We had a whole lot of Indians, Apaches and some Navajos worked for us. And they’d come in there and they’d just go get them some lumber and build them a house.
SR: You know where the Chamber of Commerce is?
JM: Uh huh
SR: That was the office for Reidhead Lumber Company, and then the two houses there by it, before you get over to McNeil Street? Is that what it is in there?
SR: belonged to his parents, and then his mother . . .
JM: Where like the Health store is? On that side?
SR: Well, where the road is between the health food store and the office is where his parents lived. See that Central has only been in down there since . . .
VR: About ’86, somewhere around there.
SR: Somewhere in there, ‘’96, ‘97
VR: See, we closed our sawmill down in ’91.
SR: Years before the City put Central in.
SR: I can’t remember the actual date.
Click tabs to swap between content that is broken into logical sections.
The opinions expressed in this interview are those of the interviewee only. They do not represent the views of the Show Low Historical Society Museum. Please contact the Show Low Historical Society Museum with questions about the use and reproduction of this resource.