(These events occured during the Prohibition Era.)
"What kind of meat is this?" Maurice asked, helping himself to the beef pot roast.
"Pot roast," I (his daughter Carol) answered.
"What was that we had at the Center this noon?"
"I'm sure that was pot roast too. It was so tender, that was a very good dinner, wasn't it?"
"Yes, it was," he said, spooning cream corn on his plate. "What was that vegetable
they had with it?"
"Mashed potatoes and gravy. And broccoli"
"I knew it was something green." He helped himself to the salad.
"I was amused when all the old-timers began telling us how good poke salad is. They
were astonished we'd never eaten it, until we said we were from California."
(Maurice reminices now.)
I remember when I was a boy we'd just moved into town (Newhall), into a big, beautiful
house with a big yard around it. There were big weeds growing out in the back yard, with red
berries on them. Mother (Josefa Perea Rodriguez) said they were good to eat if you baked them
and poured off the water, but my dad (Carlos Rodriguez) said, "Don't you dare eat them.
That's nightshade and they're poison!"
After a few weeks, Mother told me to cut out those weeds and burn them so we could have a
garden. So I got the hoe and was hoeing them out. There were some other tall weeds in there,
too, and I was hoeing all of them out when the next-door neighbor came over to the fence to
talk to me. He was a middle-aged man, and a bootlegger.
He said, "What are you going to do with that marijuana?"
"What marijuana?" I asked. I had heard the name, but didn't know much about it.
"Those weeds you've cut down in that pile there," he said, pointing to the pile of weeds.
"I'm going to take them into the back lot and let them dry, then burn them," I said.
"I'll carry them out for you," he offered. "Just leave them there, or better yet,
throw them over the fence here, and I'll get rid of them for you."
Being a kid, it never occured to me to wonder why he was being so helpful. I just saw a chance
to get out of some work, so I raked them up and threw them over the fence. They had such a
sickening sweet smell.
The next day they were standing up on their stems, in bunches, leaning all along the fence.
They stayed there about three days until they were dry. Then I saw him carry the stems to the back
lot. He put them down on the rubbish pile and burned them. The stems were all bare, the leaves were gone.
A few months later, the police came down there and arrested him, taking him to jail. Jim
(Kindred) was courting my sister then, and the bootlegger shook his fist at Jim and said,
"I'll get you for this."
(Carol asks if Jim was on the police force then. Maurice replies "yes" while spooning strawberries
over his ice cream.)
There was another bootlegger in town. The Government men worked with the police Chief and Jim
helped get to the bootlegger's house. The G-men told Jim to carry a shotgun. Jim wanted to use
a pistol but the Chief said to do what the G-men said, the bootlegger would probably fire at them.
The bootlegger came to the door, slammed it, and ran out the back. The G-men were beyond the
back fence. Jim and the Chief ran around the house. The bootlegger, climbing the fence, turned
and shot and Jim who was holding a flashlight on him. Jim fired back and the G-men got the bootlegger.
A third bootlegger had a still in a hole in the river bank, half in, half out.
You could smell the mash in town. The police caught him in the middle of making it. He had
jugs under several small willow trees. There were guns in a shed. They confiscated the guns and
jugs. The local police kept one of the guns in the police station. This was the gun I used to shoot
my first deer.