Oral history interview with R. H.(Bob) Hall, 1965 Nov. 28

Hall, R. H. (Robert H.) , b. 1895 d. 1970
Painter, Illustrator
Active in Butte, Mont.

Size: Sound recordings: 4 sound files digital, wav file
Transcript: 85 p.

Format: An unrelated interview of Shorty (Irvin) Shope conducted by B. Hoag is also on tape 1; and one of Lavina Richards and Dolores La Branche conducted by B. Hoag is also on tape 4.

Collection Summary: An interview of Robert H. (Bob) Hall conducted 1965 Nov. 28, by Betty Hoag, for the Archives of American Art. Hall speaks of his youth; his travels in the Western U.S.; his paintings of mines; his work for the Federal Art Project, including his association with the Index of American Design; teaching; his reminiscences of the Depression; and the Federal Art Project.

Biographical/Historical Note: R. H. (Bob) Hall (1895-1970) was a painter and illustrator from Butte, Mont.

Conducted as part of the Archives of American Art's New Deal and the Arts project, which includes over 400 interviews of artists, administrators, historians, and others involved with the federal government's art programs and the activities of the Farm Security Administration in the 1930s and early 1940s.

How to Use this Interview

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  • The transcript of this interview is in the public domain and may be used without permission. Quotes and excerpts must be cited as follows: Oral history interview with R. H.(Bob) Hall, 1965 Nov. 28, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution
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Interview Transcript

This transcript is in the public domain and may be used without permission. Quotes and excerpts must be cited as follows: Oral history interview with R. H.(Bob) Hall, 1965 Nov. 28, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.




NOVEMBER 28, 1965




BH: This is Betty Lochrie Hoag on November 28th, interviewing Butte artist Bob Hall in his home. Mr. Hall is one of our most famous Montana artists. He is an illustrator of many books and magazine articles; a painter working in oils, watercolors, many different mediums; and he's considered to be a master of perspective. Mr. Hall often expresses a wonderful humor in his Western paintings. He was an artist on the Federal Arts Project after Frank Stevens, Regional Director, had established it in Montana. And I've been looking forward to talking to him for about a year and I'm glad he has let me come in this morning. Mr. Hall, before we talk about the Project, I'd like to ask you to tell me about your life. Where were you born?

BOB: Indiana.

BH: What year?

BOB: As far as I know, '95.

BH: Indiana?

BOB: I was in a home there.

BH: In an orphanage there?

BOB: I was left there when I was a little baby. Then I was adopted out by some people, that was in Anderson, Indiana. (When he was two years old.)

BH: So you never did know if you had artists in your family, did you?

BOB: I don't know nothing, no. I know that the woman that adopted me out of that home told me that. And I still had a brother in there at the time but he's about three years older than I am.

BH: Do you know where he is now?

BOB: I wouldn't know. I never did find out.

BH: You had no way to keep track of that at all?

BOB: I don't hunt him up. I get along all right.

BH: You certainly have, wonderfully!

BOB: I think I'm better off, yes. I was adopted out by a blacksmith. His name was John B. Parsons, of Florida, Indiana. That's five miles out of Anderson.

BH: Florida, Indiana.

MR.X: Parsons. (P-a-r-s-o-n-s)

BOB: It's just a little flyspot on the map.

BH: Did he have a ranch, too? Or was he in the town as a blacksmith? Was he a blacksmith in this little town?

BOB: Yes, he was a blacksmith. And I don't know just how old I was when we left there, but we moved from there to Sandusky, Ohio. No, wait a minute, we didn't. We moved to Logansport, Indiana.

BH: This is still while you were just a little boy?

BOB: Yes. Then I don't know just how long we lived there, Betty, but they had relatives there. And then we moved from there to Sandusky, Ohio. Of course, the old man didn't work no more; he was close to seventy at that time. He was shoeing horses up till he was sixty-five years old. He had three or four irons (forges) in the shop.

BH: That's hard work, too.

BOB: Yes, and he did everything alone. Then we moved to Sandusky. And, you see, he was a minister.

BH: A minister?

BOB: Yes.

BH: For heaven's sake!

BOB: An ordained minister. And so was she.

BH: His wife? That's interesting, isn't it?

BOB: They were both ordained ministers.

BH: What church was it? Methodist maybe, or . . . ?

BOB: Well, . . .

MR.X: Church of God.

BOB: It was the Church of God. That was his original church. He used to travel. We had a little pony; he bought her for me. But we had two barns at that time, below us in the generally southerly part of Indiana, south of Indianapolis. I can't think of the name. But the old man was pretty well off. He had a daughter down there, and they (the family) was scrapin' a livin' out of him. I don't know how the estate ever came out, or whatever happened to the estate.

BH: You never went back to . . . ?

BOB: Well, I left them, yes. For reasons of my own, I left.

BH: You were pretty young then, weren't you? Only -- what -- when you left?

BOB: I was about probably thirteen or fourteen. So I run off with a step-cousin of mine and we went into Chicago. I never heard of him no more. [Parsons]

BH: For heaven's sake!

BOB: See, they had a lot of relatives, I'm telling you. There wuz sisters and there wuz brothers . . . . the Layman family. They were Kentucky people. And had a fine family, the old man and the woman, then. But they wuz Kentucky people.

BH: How do you spell "Layman?"

MR. X She said, "How do you spell that Layman -- :-a-y-m-a-n?

BOB: L-a-y-m-a-n.

BH: Thank you.

BOB: They were . . . Kentucky and the old man . . . . And they lived in Sandusky, and the old man, he lived along the lake. And then there was . . . . I don't remember just how many of them there were, right now. I could stop and figure it all out . . . .

BH: Oh, it isn't that important.

BOB: But that doesn't matter anyway. Well, anyway, I ran off. I was tired of the whole setup. I could get along with him, but I couldn't with her. So . . . .

BH: You and this step-cousin went to Chicago then?

BOB: We went to Chicago.

BH: And, Bob, were you painting then? Had you started to do any drawing or painting at that age?

BOB: Yes.

BH: You had?

B(B: I was a-drawin' when I was nine years old!

BH: Is that right?

BOB: I saw some stuff that I drawed when I was back East this last time -- it was 1926. And I hadn't seen nobody over 19 years. Out here I was always afraid of them -- that they'd . . . . They did spend money lookin' for me. But I was happy where I wuz. When I went back then [1926] . . . Well, I'm getting too far ahead, this is later. Now in Chicago I got a job, I don't know just how I got it, peddling the Chicago Tribune.

BH: for heaven's sake!

BOB: And them wuz some pretty tough winters. I was there two summers and two winters.

BH: And you were feeding yourself, taking care of yourself at fourteen, fifteen? Imagine that!

BOB: Well, Betty . . . .

BH: Poor little fellow.

BOB: I don't know what I done with that money I made. We didn't make much. And I remember the most of us were given most of our grub off of a free lunch counter in the Hinky Dink.

BH: What?

MR.X: Hinky Dink.

BH: Hinky Dink?

BOB: That was in the Haymarket in Chicago.

BH: In the Haymarket?

BOB: A street named after a man who was an alderman of Chicago for years. He just died just a few years ago.

BH: Thank you.

BOB: I liked the place. There were about twenty-five of us [newsboys] used to eat out of the Hinky Dink.

BH: This was free lunches, probably?

BOB: Yes. But it could take . . . . Well, I'm not the only upcoming sprout that . . . . Some pretty important men today lived out of the Hinky Dink when they wuz a kid.

BH: Yes.

BOB: We wouldn't 'look a gift eye" ["A gift horse in the eye"] because there was nobody would help you. But anyway we'd see a drunk, probably, three or four drunks in there. We would spot the drunks and they usually had their heads on the card tables and we were like a bunch of pigs. These pigs out there remind me of those kids looking through the window. And the bartender, Lew, was there. They had orders from the Hinky Dink to lay off of us [newsboys].

BH: Oh! Well, would you go up and eat his food when he was asleep? Is that what he means, or . . . ? You say that a drunk had his head down on the table, and then what would you boys do? Would you go over and eat his food when he was asleep?

BOB: Well, we didn't touch it there. Boy! The drunk would knock them out!

BH: Oh!

BOB: The bartender would go over and look at that stuff, and he knew he wasn't kidding anybody, and he would push it off to the side.

BH: I see.

BOB: And he'd take it and he'd put it sometimes over closer to the door.

BH: So you boys could get it?

BOB: It would be handy.

BH: Nice.

BOB: Oh, yes. All the bartenders wuz helpin' the newspaper kids. I'm not lying. That's the way they [the boys] lived.

BH: Poor little fellows.

BOB: And we would go then and eat, you know. Occasionally the drunk would see us and sometimes he would come back and say, "Say kid, where's my food?" And the bartender was not allowed to tell. But not every day. Sometimes we'd get enough off the drunk, I suppose. But that's where our food came from; it was our hotel! And os that's the way we lived there for two years . . . .

BH: For about two years. Gosh!

BOB: And now I'll tell you ow it was with the rooms; how we lived during the winter in Chicago.

BH: What did you do? It gets cold in Chicago in the winter.

BOB: Dreary. And we were only allowed . . . just the ordinary . . . . there was only supposed to be two of us [to a room].

BH: Yes.

BOB: Well, the boys, some of them started going in there at ten o'clock. And some of us went a little later. And it might be one o'clock before we all got in there, see? Well, if you were the last in, you didn't get no covers unless you waited till the other kids got sound asleep and you'd go and steal theirs.

BH: Take their covers. How many were there; how many boys living there?

BOB: Oh, I don't know.

BH: Ten or tw . . . ?

BOB: Oh, they'd average . . . . No, no, there couldn't be ten there. About six. And there would be about four get in the bed, that's all that could sleep in the bed, and then there was at least two, sometimes three, on the floor. Boy, it was terrific. And the landlady . . . I know doggone well she knew we were there.

BH: She probably felt sorry for you, too, and let the kids do it. Yes.

BOB: Yes. So I met, I run into a gambler.

BH: Into a gambler?

BOB: He was a professional gambler in Chicago.

BH: Oh, my!

BOB: He didn't stay in Chicago all the time. He belonged west of the Mississippi, Kansas City. But anyway, I guess -- I don't know -- I guess he just kind of took a liking to me. I don't know, some of the kids, he wouldn't have anything to do with them. Oh, he took money and all that. He came up to me one day; he said, "Kid, how old are you?" I told him. "Where is your home?" "I ain't got none." "Aren't your folks living?" "No." "Well, how long can you keep up this way?" "I don't know." "Well, I'm going to go West. Do you want to go West?" "Yes," I said. "All right. We'll go."

BH: He was going to take you?

BOB: "There are two more pots up here that I would like to knock over [gambling deals]. If I can, I'll get out of this town before I blow it." Sometimes he had beautiful and very valuable jewelry. He had one diamond worth $750 bucks. He'd . . .

BH: Good heavens!

BOB: He won that in a poker game.

BH: And the next day I suppose he'd lose it in another game?

BOB: Well, he'd have to hock that to get money. He hocked it with the same man all the time.

BH: So he could get it back again?

BOB: Yes. So this guy who knew him gave him money to give him a start, you know, maybe three or four hundred dollars. Afterwards he made a killing. [Won a lot, gambling.]

BH: He did on the first one -- made a killing?

BOB: He wound up with enough for the two of us.

BH: So you were ready to "Go West, young man?"

BOB: They called him "Panhandle," Panhandle Slim."

BH: "Panhandle Slim!" What a name!

BOB: Well, I left Chicago with him. He had given me a little money and before we left on that trip be bought me a new pair of shoes. that is, they called them "shoes" in those days; I'd hate to have to wear them shoes today.

BH: Really?

BOB: They were slick as a board, you know, but they . . .

BH: And what?

BOB: . . . were the best shoes you could get. And I believe he bought me a good coat. Well, he had bought me one once before, the last winter. He had bought me two coats.

BH: Two coats?

BOB: Yes. He bought me two coats and a suit. But I never wore the confounded suit.

BH: You didn't?

BOB: I don't know whatever became of it. He asked me one day where it was. I didn't know. One of the other kids got it, I suppose. So then we pulled out of Chicago. I remember we landed in Quincy, Illinois. That's on the east side of the Mississippi south of St. Louis. [Note: It's north] then we crossed over to Hannibal, Missouri. A little further on down we stayed a ways down on the line of the Santa Fe Railroad where we camped.

BH: Santa Fe?

BOB: I didn't go to St. Louis. He went on to St. Louis.

BH: Panhandle Slim kept on going to St. Louis?

BOB: Yes. But I wanted to go West. He was a fine man, like that, but I thought I could get along myself. I didn't like him too well.

BH: He didn't ask you to do any gambling to help him?

BOB: He was too much of a gambler. . .

BH: You were just a little boy, after all. He probably wouldn't have let you.

BOB: Well, I wasn't interested in gambling. That's all he loved was cards.

BH: Yes. All he cared about.

BOB: So I went on then to Kansas City. I remember in Sedalia, Missouri, I got ditched there. And the marshall there, I was talking to this marshall. He lived in the country and he'd come down and talk to people at the depot while they were waiting for another train. We got talking about Jesse James. I know at Sedalia they had many moments of his life. I had read enough of Jesse James to know that.

BH: All little boys did then.

BOB: And he went up and showed me the bank that was the last bank the James boys ripped to pieces.

BH: That was quite something for a little boy to see!

[I can't pick up his words either. Sorry!]

BOB: rifles, there were six or eight in that gang and they were banging away there, they scared the people. kill a bandit.

BH: They didn't care.


BH: Had that happened just a little while before that? When had James been there?

BOB: I don't know.

BH: A long time before?

BOB: That was the last bank they robbed in the area.

BH: The last one. [Jesse Woodson James' dates are 1847-1882]

BOB: While I was there, here's an incident: A colored boy came along, and he says, "Boy, when does the next train go through here?" And the marshall was sitting there. He looked at his watch and pulled out that dollar and a quarter Ingersoll. He suspected him, and he told him, "Why she don't stop here." The colored boy answered, "No, it doesn't have to stop." "What!" "You-all heard me; it don't have to stop." The marshall said, "Are you crazy?" "Well, no, suh, I'm not. I'm just plumb nuts."

BH: Plumb nuts!

BOB: So he went on and he said, "You say it's gonna come pretty soon, ain't it?" "Yes," the marshall said, "It certainly is. About six minutes." "I'm going to get over there," and the boy crosses the track and hides behind some stacked ties that wuz there.

BH: What in the world was he up to?

BOB: And the marshall said, "You mean to tell me you're going to [jump on]?" "I'm not telling you nothing, boy. Goodbye." And that nigger made that train as she took water on the fly!

BH: That boy got on the train?

BOB: He stepped on that train just the same.

BH: Good heavens!

BOB: He went over there and we looked all around, that boy was not there. He made it. Right down below there was a big trough, right in the middle of the track, where they dropped the pan down and picked that water up on those boards. That engine would force it right back up to the tender.

BH: Oh, for heaven's sake!

BOB: Imagine a man stepping on a train going at that rate of speed! I wasn't old enough to grab those [railroad] lines yet; I grabbed a lot of them after that but not them. Lord, boy, I wouldn't go near that train. But anyway . . . .

BH: Well, that poor little fellow He must have done it many times to know how to do it when the train was going that fast.

BOB: Oh yes. I don't know how old he was. I never was a heavy kid. I was wiry though. You couldn't tire me at that time, and I was that way for many years. I never got tired.

BH: Wonderful energy.

BOB: I never seen any job that I couldn't keep up with a bigger man, too. I could do just as much work, if not more.

BH: Yes. Good for you!

BOB: Well, anyways, our train came along and we made it . We come to Kansas City. They were having a big meeting down there on the river bank. There were about 400 bums at that meeting. It was a regular hobos' meeting.

BH: A real hobo meeting?

BOB: Oh, yes. A regular . . . .

BH: I'll be jiggered!

BOB: It was a convention.

BH: I never heard of such a thing.

BOB: You'd be surprised at the men that wuz there, well-dressed men. Don't think they wasn't smart. There were former businessmen there. There were lawyers, judges. You could find anything there.

BH: I'll be darned!

BOB: Some of the smartest men in the country that had been "on the jungle" . . . .

BH: And they met together to remember the jungle days, was this their . . . ? Like any convention?

BOB: They wuz there from choice. They wasn't forced to. They loved that life. It gave 'em a chance to get close to nature.

BH: Yes.

BOB: And the big stews they'd gut away! Well, the law came down and they arrested about twenty-five of them that were wanted. They [the police] dug out some pamphlets and they looked at these pictures, and then went through that bunch of men and picked them out that wuz wanted.

BH: The spotted their faces in the crowd? they went through and hunted for them in the gang there?

BOB: They had pictures of them the sheriff had brought there and they looked the pictures over. Every time the hobos had a little meeting the police would look the pictures over. Well, anyways, that was in Kansas City, Missouri. See, there are two Kansas Citys -- Kansas City, Missouri, and Kansas City, Kansas.

BH: Oh! And this was Missouri?

BOB: Yes. So then we pulled out of there and we went into Pratt.

BH: Pratt, Missouri?

MR.X: Pratt, Kansas.

BH: Pratt, Kansas.

BOB: That's in western Kansas. And we went in there and we . . . do you want this?

BH: Oh, yes. I certainly do. That's part of it; it's your life.

BOB: Well, we were in Kansas. There were about six of us kids, and we were riding stock cars. So when we got into Kansas . . .

MR.X: Livestock cars.

BOB: . . . it was getting a little late in the evening. On the way a Colonel [man they had met] said to see to a sick horse outfit: six head on two big feed wagons, two of them . . .

BH: I didn't get that. I didn't understand that. There were two . . . ?

MR. X: Teams.

BH: What?

BOB: Two six heads. That's six head of horses to each wagon.

BH: Are these of the cattle?

MR. X: No.

BH: Or boys? I just didn't get the point.

Mr. X: Horses.

BH: Horses! Thank you.

BOB: Yes. There were two teams. A little short old man wuz sitting up in the seat and he stopped and he said, "Hey, kids, where are you goin'?" "Well, I don't know." "Oh," he said, "Where did you come from?" "Well, I don't know that ." He said, "Who are those other kids?" "Oh, I don't know. They're just like me." "Jump up here." Well, I crawled up on the wagon and sat on the seat. He said to the other kids, he said, "Have you boys got any money to eat on?"

BH: I bet they didn't.

BOB: Well, they had a few nickels; they always had enough money.

BH: Yes.

BOB: He said, "You go over there, and you go up the next street, and you turn down that way, and over on that side of the street you will find Mother So-and-So's Eating House. I can't remember her name. But that was the name of the cafe.

BH: Yes.

BOB: "And you stand there till we come back. I've got to go up and unhitch this team. First I've got to unload these wagons and load those wagons up for goin' south. So we went to unhitch the team; I knew how to do that.

BH: Really!

BOB: Oh, I did all that work. I was raised to know how, even when I was a small kid. Yes.

BH: Yes, you'd know how to do it.

BOB: Well I helped the old man do the work. "You're all right, kid," he said, "I'm going to take you home with me. Yes. Yes. I kind of like you." He kind of loud-spoken, like a Texan.

BH: Texan.

BOB: "You're a Texan?" I asked. "No, I'm a Hoosier." "I am, too. I'm from Illinois," I answered.

BH: Another Hoosier!

BOB: Yes. Anyway, the horses had come 40 miles, and we unloaded them. We walked around; had to leave them there in the alley all night. So we had to wait for

but we had to come back out every 2-3 hours to check.

BH: You probably went over to Mother's Eating House then, didn't you?

BOB: Yes. Well, anyway, It was a boarding house. And what a meal! I remember it was twenty-five cents a meal.

BH: Imagine that!

BOB: And we ate there.

BH: Did this man pay for all these little boys' food? Did he pay for all those little boys who were sitting there?

BOB: Yes.

BH: A nice fellow.

BOB: And he gave them some money on top of that!

BH: That happens not very often.

BOB: And he said, "Boy, I'm going to . . . . He said, "Sometimes . . . .

[I can't pick this up either, due to roar in tape-recorder. Bob Hall did go with this man and his family (L. P. West) to Medicine Lodge, Kansas. He lived with them about two years, until 1910, as he tells later on in this tape.]

BH: You went with this man. What was his name?

BOB: West.

BH: West was his name?

BOB: "L. B." West. Levi West was his real name but he went by the name of "L.B." West. He was a sod broker.

BH: Was he a Jewish man with the name of Levi? Levi is kind of Jewish.


BH: Sodbroker?

BOB: He broke sod for cowboys.

BH: I never head of that before -- sodbroker.

BOB: He was a cowman. He raised cows. And when he was a young man he was a former foreman for XIT outfit, at that time one of the largest in the west, the 101 Ranch in Oklahoma. He had three boys, two of them lopers (men who did roping, riding, and were riflemen).

BH: Was that in Texas?

MR. X: The hundred and one was in Texas, was it?

BH: Did they take you in and teach you riding? Did you do any work on this ranch?

BOB: Oh, yes. I stayed with those people for two years.

BH: Oh, you did? Was that the place where his wife was a Cherokee Indian, the person who was so good to you?

BOB: His wife was a Cherokee Indian. She took care of me, and she was the only mother I ever knew. She was a wonderful woman. She smoked cigars and chawed tobacco and smoked a cob pipe. And she was the finest cook that I remember.

BH: She probably had to cook for a lot of hands, though, on the ranch, didn't she?

BOB: Oh, I don't know . . . .

BH: How long did you live with them, Bob? How long did you live with the Wests?

BOB: Oh, about a couple of years, I guess.

BH: Only a couple? I thought you were there a lot longer than that. Only about two years?

BOB: About two years, I guess.

BH: I want to know, were you painting at this time and doing sketching, any art work then?

BOB: Constantly. Lots of pen and ink work.

BH: Oh, you were just doing it all the time.


[Again -- can't pick up. He said he was good at penmanship and worked in colored inks as well as black and white.]

BOB: In Chicago I used to . . . . And then while I was there

BH: Pen and ink, you mean?

BOB: pen and ink, sure.

BH: You must have been doing well when she wanted you to . . . .

BOB: At the Wests I saw my first phonograph, about three weeks after I first went there, an old

BH: First what?

BOB: Phonograph.

BH: You saw one there?

BH: What was it about?

BOB: Edison! It had a . . .

BH: Oh, phonograph! Edison, sure!

BOB: . . . big horn and . . . .

BH: Oh, yes! Great big horn on it.


BH: Must have been a thrill for you.

BOB: And I remember a lot of records that went with it. The "Uncle John" comedy skits were very popular.

BH: Why did you want to leave?

BOB: Why?

BH: Yes, Why did you want to leave them? You sound happy there.

BOB: I just wanted to go West.

BH: About how old were you now -- about seventeen?

BOB: Well, it was 'round about the Jefferson-Johnson fight, that was in 1910. I remember I was up at the house when it came through on the telephone. It was photographs on wires . . .

BH: Oh, really.

BOB: On the telegraph wire, and I was coming in after water. I had two jugs of water hung across the back of my shoulders .

BH: That's like the Chinese do.

BOB: Yes. I remember I had a gunny sack on each side of the shoulders.

BH: You were carrying potatoes probably.

BOB: Yes. It would keep me busy during the harvest when the men were in the fields.

BH: You were a kind of an errand boy?

BOB: It was hot and they would drink a lot of water. I kept up with the little Indian kids who were water boys too. Well, anyway, when I was going to leave my Indian Maw, she gave me a buckskin sack, drawstring sack, and she said, "You take care of this. It's quite a bit of money for a kid to have. Never show it to nobody."

BH: Bless her heart. Wasn't that good of her to start you out?

BOB: Well, I'd been there for a long time, you see. I didn't ever draw money [for work] [He never drew a salary, he means.]

BH: No. You didn't have any expenditures.

BOB: I didn't open the bag for a long time. When I did, I found it didn't have money in there, but gold [nuggets].

BH: Good heavens! Did you save the little buckskin sack? Do you still have it?

BOB: No. I think I traded that in during a horse trade. Then they let me go pick myself a horse. I already had a saddle.

BH: I see.

BOB: I had a brand new saddle that he, Mr. West, got for me.

BH: This was your own horse, too?

BOB: but I didn't own any of the horses. I had no . . . .

BH: Did they give you a horse to start out?

BOB: Yes. He told me . . . he said, "You take a good one. Don't take any cripple [when you go] down there."

BH: Bigger.

BOB: I rode them all, and I picked out the one I knew best, Dexter.

BH: Wasn't that nice?

BOB: Well, there was a gray mare down there. I wanted to take Dexter but I was ashamed of myself because . . . . Well, Dexter was an old pony and I didn't want to take him. But I thought I shouldn't take a good horse. So then I wanted to take a flea-bitten gray mare there that was all flea-bitten.

BH: Poor thing. Really was flea-bitten, all marked up?

BOB: But the old man said, "Now, kid, don't take her. don't take that old horse. You're young. You don't know what old age is. You should expect a horse to be just like you, one that can run and keep it up. You never know when you'll need a horse that can really run. There are a lot of fast horses in the South. And there are some fast horses out here. Let me pick you out a horse." "Okay, Dad." So he went out and he picked out a long-leggie roan out there. He grabbed that horse and I got on. He started off. "Boy," he said. "Watch yourself. You know very well he's fast. Okay. Now is that all right? Kid, I want you to take that horse because he's a good one for you."

BH: Yes. He knew what you should have.

BOB: "I want to see you do all right. I don't want to have you off and after the first hundred miles be on foot. This roan will take you anywhere." So I took that buckskin sack, and the good saddle horse from the back there, and the old man fastened on the walnut saddle. That was a good saddle.

BH: Walnut saddle.

BOB: Yes. And I went off on a job, headed south.

BH: Where was South? Texas?

BOB: Oklahoma.

BH: Into Oklahoma?

BOB: Oklahoma is the next state south.

BH: I see.

BOB: And the folks had some relatives in Oklahoma, down across the border.

BH: Are these Law's relatives?

BOB: I can't think of that town, a little cowtown. No, it doesn't come to me now. but I stopped there and I found the people. They had teenaged boys, about my size.

BH: Were they nice to you?

BOB: We had a lot of fun. I stayed a week with them.

BH: Oh, for heaven's sake!

BOB: And I wrote the old man a letter from there.

BH: Did you? Did you illustrate those letters?

BOB: Ma told me to write and tell him if I had stopped there.

BH: Sure.

BOB: So I wrote a letter. And then I'm going to leave there, too. So then I left and I went over into the Osage country.

BH: That's Indian country, isn't it?

BOB: Oh yes. All of it. That's all Indian country. The Osages and the Cherokees are big landholders along the river there. I came to this town of Osage, Oklahoma. And I remember a lot of streets had steps -- oh, I don't know, I don't know to this day why that was. But the stores, the bars, everything, the sidewalks were way up above . . . .

BH: For heaven's sake!

BOB: I don't know why that was.

BH: Above the road?

BOB: The Osage River ran through there. I don't know whether that river ran over its banks or what.

BH: Probably in the springtime it overflowed.

BOB: Something must have been the reason, because there was half of the town higher up.

BH: It must have been a funny feeling to have the buildings above you as you went down the street.

BOB: Well, that was on one side.

BH: Just one side?

BOB: On the other side there were no buildings, just a hillside.

BH: I wonder if it's still that way? Do you ever go back to see?

BOB: All I remember was the way places were where we went. And I remember . . . . I was leaving . . . . I wasn't in Osage very long; I had no business there, so I was leaving, going nowhere . . .

BH: Going West again -- South?

BOB: And I met a nigger boy out of town.

BH: Met a what?

BOB: A nigger boy.

BH: Oh yes.

BOB: And he wanted to know if I had any matches. In them days they had sulfur in them. Did you ever see them?

BH: Oh yes. Sure did.

BOB: They were in squares and you tear them off.

BH: Oh no! I haven't seen those. Did that light them as you tore them?

BOB: There'd be, oh, fifty matches in a square.

BH: I see.

BOB: And they'd be in a block and you had to tear them off. Old stub manilla.

BH: I see.

BOB: squares.

BH: They would asphyxiate you probably!

BOB: If you'd come too close; it was awful strong. And I had several blocks of them, and I gave one to the nigger.

BH: You did have.

BOB: And I gave him one of the blocks. I didn't smoke. I never smoked then. I chewed a little. I don't know why . . . I used to smoke when I was a kid back home in Florida (Indiana).

BH: You did?

BOB: Oh Lord, yes.

BH: You probably got it out of you system then?

BOB: I wasn't smoking down there at L. B.'s. Believe me! I wasn't smoking.

BH: Why were you carrying the matches? Bonfires?

BOB: What?

BH: Were you carrying the matches to make fires? Were you camping?

BOB: No.

BH: You just had them.

BOB: I just quit. I had so I just quit. This nigger, he used, in the League, National League, chewing tobacco made of long green leaves of old oak trees -- in place of regular tobacco. He had it in an old sack and he offered me some.

BH: Excuse me, Bob.


BOB: . . . quit now. I quit tobacco for over two years ago now; I just quit. Anyway I remembered that that was the first time I never had any long green.

BH: I see.

BOB: Well, then I rode West out of there through some counties, I don't know . . .

BH: Probably through New Mexico and Arizona.

BOB: . . . in Western Oklahoma. I don't know what happened between Osage and Western Oklahoma.

BH: You landed in California finally, didn't you?

BOB: It might come to me; it slipped my mind. I don't know. So I'll leave it out.

BH: All right.

BOB: I went into Western Oklahoma to Roger Mills County; that's the last county west in Oklahoma. The next county west is in Texas; that's Wheeler County, Texas. Anyway, I worked there. I stopped around there a while. I don't remember just what I done. I think I worked with broom corn. I cut the broom corn by hand and the they pressed it out in big pressers. And they banded it about that long [demonstrates length]. Broom corn, just small seaguns. But I wasn't there very long . I got acquainted with an outfit, I was with the Cox outfit . . . .

BH: What kind of outfit was that?

BOB: I worked on this broom corn at the Cox outfit. I don't remember much about Cox when I worked for them. I wasn't there very long. I got acquainted with a horse outfit over in Texas and I left. I got out of there and I remember, when I left the Cox outfit, the cabin that I slept in, half of it was in Texas and half of it was in Oklahoma.

BH: Really?

BOB: I think my head used to be in Texas . . . .

BH: Oh, Bob!

BOB: Yes. That's right. Oh, we did some funny things in funny ways in those days.

BH: Yes.

BOB: Yes, very good.

BH: It's a good thing you weren't born there. It would be hard to tell . . . .

BOB: What?

BH: It's a good thing you weren't born in that bed; it would be hard to say whether you were a Texan or an Oklahoman!

BOB: You know . . . . I guess we'll skip that because we'd be a long time . . . .

BH: Yes. Well, we'll skip all that part of it then.

BOB: Anyway, I got acquainted with a horse outfit over in Texas, the Miller outfit. They were a great family. That's all they turned out was horses. They broke the horses out. They used to buy horses in Old Mexico, and then sometimes they would make a drive up, they would drive a bunch of horses through Tucson. I know they freighted some up, freight train from Old Mexico. They'd bring them to this ranch. They had a good-sized ranch. Old man Miller was . . . . Their name was Miller. And old man Miller was dead, and there was just the old lady left and three boys. Those boys were pretty well matured men. They were good riders, all of them. There were Earl and Zack and there was Frankie. And Frankie was just a little bit older than me, not much. Me and Frankie, we had a great time.

BH: How long were you there?

BOB: What?

BH: About how long were you there?

BOB: Oh, I don't remember, Betty. Six months, maybe. I don't remember. I was moving fast. I wanted to get further West, I don't know why. I just wanted to move.

BH: You had a wanderlust.

BOB: Then I went up, then I went over with the Miller outfit.

BH: Went over where? I didn't get that.

BOB: And when I was there . . .

MR.X: Where did you go?

BOB: What?

BH: Where did you go next?

BOB: Now wait a minute. I'm going to wait now. From the Miller cabin you could see for ten miles before anybody got to that cabin. It was set right up on a hill, and they had a bunch of cows down below. That's all they had was horses, they didn't raise a garden or nothing. And they just run horses in and ran them out, move them on, keep them moving, break them out. They had a corral, a big breaking corral for the broncs. And they had four or five straight-away shoots down there. They'd put the horses out in that place there and the fellows would ride them. Practically every day there were a couple of riders breaking a horse down there. And sometimes there'd be three or four bronc riders down in there. And they had top men because they'd probably ride, they'd take the rough stuff off possibly three or four horses a day.

BH: Good heavens!

BOB: That was a tough schedule. These riders turned old pretty fast. But they got paid good money. I couldn't tackle a bronc yet. I got to . . . before I left there; I'd tackle a bronc there, me and Frankie together. Earl and Zack would take us down after they'd probably tired out these horses first themselves. Then they'd put us on a bronc and Earl and Zack, they'd come in on both sides. Earl and Zack would come in on both sides of us and hold us there. We couldn't get off, and we'd hold each other right in the saddle.

BH: This was to teach you how to bronc?

BOB: That's how I learned the bronc business. Oh, I wasn't a bad rider after I left there. I had been on a bucking horse before, at the old man's place. But I really got down to business at Miller's. Well, anyway, I was there about 2-3 weeks. I don't remember how long I was around in that country. But anyway, while I was there, one Sunday morning, I left to cross the country when I saw three men a coming, horsemen. So I went in and told Ma, Ma Miller. She had field glasses for a long ways she could see them. So when they rode up a little closer, she knew them, all three of them, two deputies and the sheriff.

BH: What did they want?

BOB: They came on up to the house. The sheriff left the two deputies outside, and he knocked at the door. Ma said, "Come on in, Sheriff." I remember he stepped across the sill and he took off his hat. "Well," he said, "Ma." he said, "How are you?" "I'm just fine, Sheriff. How are you? Did you have any breakfast?" "Well, no," he said, "We haven't time to eat?" "Oh, yes, you have. I have hotcake batter all fixed, right out there now." "Lord," he said, "Ma, I've got two deputies out here. I'd rather give them away than you turn me down." [I can't figure out what he meant by this!] "Bring them in, Sheriff. What have you got them out there for?" "Well," he said, "I just don't want certain people to get away in the meantime."

BH: Who did he have in mind?

BOB: "Well, I just wonder," Ma said, "Who would that be?" "Well, the name is Miller, I think your little boys."

BH: Who did he mean?

BOB: "I think your little boy."

BH: For heaven's sake!

BOB: She said, "You don't say! Sheriff, don't tell me my boys has done anything like that!" "I ain't telling you they did anything. I'm going to find out if they did do anything?" "Oh!" "Where is Earl?" "Sheriff, they're both in that room. But now, if I was you, I'd talk kind of civil before you go in there." "Ma, I've got sense enough to know that. I don't want no trouble. I knew your old man; knew him in this country for years, riding the range. We were buddies . . . ."

BH: The Sheriff knew her husband . . . ?

BOB: "Where one went, the other one went. We blowed and we drank our whiskey together. And, Ma, I don't want to do anything to hurt the name of the Miller family."

BH: Poor Fellow.

BOB: "Sheriff, I just wonder what you can think of that would hurt the name of this family any worse than it is. Now if you can tell me that?" "Well, now, Ma, I don't want to tell about that. "I know you don't. But, damn, I want you to tell me the truth. What did he do?"

BH: Sure. She was getting worried.

BOB: "I know, Sheriff, you got the goods on him or you never would have come here." "Well, Ma, it's just a little horse theft. You know . . . ." "Yes, I know. Well now, Sheriff, you just walk into the bedroom while I set the table. You just walk up kind of lightly and knock on the door and tell them who you are. They probably know now anyway by our voices. They're both awake and they're hearing all this stuff."

BH: They knew what it's about.

BOB: Finally Ma said, "Earl, you and Zack get your clothes on!" And when the Sheriff stepped in the door Zack had his arm under his pillow. He also had a six-shooter in his hand, and so did Earl.

BH: Also had a what?

BOB: A six-shooter.

BH: A six-shooter. Boy!

BOB: Oh, they were fast gunmen! Those young fellows were really fast moving with a gun and they were a lot younger than the Sheriff. They wouldn't have shot him first, but they would have covered him and if he moved he would have got it.

BH: First. Yes.

BOB: Well, they knew he was a buddy of their dad but that he just had to do his job, that's all. They would never hurt him. And the Sheriff wouldn't shoot them if he could possibly get out of it.

BH: Boy!

BOB: Well, they all had breakfast together.

BH: You mean Earl and Zack came out for breakfast?

BOB: Ma took their guns away from them.

BH: She did?

BOB: Well, they left them in the bedroom. They knew better than to bring them out. And the Sheriff put his gun away.

BH: Everybody was friends at breakfast.

BOB: Yes, and they talked things over.

BH: Did the Millers admit taking the horses?

BOB: Well, they just . . . you know . . . there was . . . . Nothing desperate about them; they were just as white as anybody.

BH: Sure.

BOB: They just made a mistake; they took the wrong horse.

BH: Yes.

BOB: They never meant to steal nothing; but they made a big mistake.

BH: Big mistake -- the horses were gone!

BOB: They went on -- Zack did -- they didn't know what happened. They didn't admit anything. They didn't deny nothing, or they didn't agree to it -- that they were horse-rustling. Anyway, Frankie . . .

BH: Who was Frankie?

BOB: . . . went up to get the horses at the pony barn (a long pony shed; it wasn't much of a barn; it was just a pony shed). And Earl had a horse he called "Bullfrog" -- he . . .

BH: Called what?

BOB: . . . had a face just like a bullfrog.

BH: Bullfrog!

BOB: He had bulging eyes. His eyes bugged out; a little shorty, he was the homeliest-looking horse I ever saw.

BH: Well, he must have been.

BOB: But, oh my God, the power of that horse!

BH: Really?

BOB: He could out-run other horses. Very few horses in the South in Texas were as fast. He was a steel dust horse.

BH: He was a what?

BOB: Steel dust.

BH: Steel dust?

BOB: The fastest horses in Texas are the steel dust horses.

BH: For heaven's sake! I never heard that before.

BOB: He was a kind of a blue; he was like steel dust. This horse was a blue with a little black. Sometimes appaloosas have black stripe going the rump. Sometimes they are a kind of reddish-brown roan with a little arched butt. They are a Spanish horse. Bullfrog was a steel dust.

BH: Bob, ask him how to spell "steel dust."

MR.X: S-t-e-e-l d-u-s-t.

BOB: Old Mr. Miller was the first man who shipped horses in that country from Old Mexico to Texas.

BH: Going in there to get them?

BOB: There were quite a few steel dust horses at that time. Well, Bullfrog was a steel dust, but he was the homeliest steel dust I ever saw.

BH: This was Bullfrog. Bullfrog was a steel dust.

BOB: He had a big bulge right here [He indicates his back].

BH: Did you ever paint a picture of him, Bob?

BOB: What?

BH: Did you ever do a picture of him?

BOB: No.

BH: Why don't you now? That'd be fun.

BOB: Oh, I wouldn't remember. I see him, but I . . . .

BH: You remember him. You could do a good picture of him!

BOB: He had no crop of the ears and a sstub tail. You know, in that country most of your saddle horses was what they called bobtailed.

BH: Bobtailed?

BOB: Yes. Well, some of those appaloosa horses were just naturally short-tailed. I don't know whether it was bent back or what . . .

BH: Isn't that strange.

BOB: . . . but there were so many. And . . .

[INTERRUPTION] [Bob is looking for a photograph or something.]

BH: {To Mr. X] I hope this isn't boring you hearing it again. You've probably heard this story before.

MR. X: I've heard it, but did Joan tell you he gets confused. He changes, he wanders on, you know what I mean. Well now, this is since he had the stroke. He wasn't that way before.

BH: I know.

MR.X: I don't know, you have to sit through this.

BH: Yes. I hate to do it; I'm going to have to bring him up to the Project time as I have to get some of that for the Archives.

MR.X: Well, I can tell him now that . . . .


BH: This is Betty Lochrie Hoag on November 29 interviewing Bob Hall, Tape No. 2. Good, now we can talk. Let's wait till we get to the Project anyway, because I have you here in the middle of -- where are we? -- talking to this nigger boy about the matches. Go on with it. You said he belonged to the National League and he offered you some of his long-green chewing tobacco.

BOB: What?

BH: You said this Negro boy belonged to a National League long green.

MR.X: No, National leaf . . .

BOB: Oh yes.

MR.X: . . . long green, which is a tobacco.

BH: Oh, for heaven's sake. I thought it was another meeting of some kind!

MR.X: No, it was a . . . .

BOB: I took a chew of the stuff, that's what I done. I rode down the road about five miles out of the way and I got awful sick.

BH: I can imagine.

BOB: All I remember is that I got off of that horse. That stuff made me awfully sick. I hadn't smoked for quite a while, and my stomach was so sick I was scared to death.

BH: Poor little boy.

BOB: I haven't been smoking for a good many years now.

BH: I'll tell him I'll jump ahead and come back to it and I would like to as long as I can.

MR.X: But I mean a lot of this I don't think you can use . . . .

BH: It doesn't what . . . ?

MR.X: A lot of this I don't think you can use. Of course a lot of . . . .

BH: It is history, yes. But I want to get into the Project and find out about it in case he gets too tired.

MR.X: Well, he's ranting . . . .

BOB: I had a photograph of a horse in there . . . .

BH: Couldn't find it?

BOB: No. He belonged to an old man down in Pueblo, Colorado and he was an Appaloosa. That was Buck that I wrote to, and he had that horse there and I can't remember . . . Bullfrog . . . he was about . . .

BH: The same thing happened. Oh, I want to know whether one of those sons got on Bullfrog?

BOB: Huh?

BH: Did one of these Miller boys go and jump on Bullfrog and get away?

BOB: No. No.

BH: I thought maybe they were trying to escape?

BOB: Well, they led him down to . . .

BH: Yes, to the Sheriff.

BOB: . . . the Sheriff, and the Sheriff said to Zack, "You give that horse back." "I bought that horse." "Well, at last you bought one." "Don't worry, Sheriff; I brought a trainload to town." "Well, all right, okay. I'm not after that. But this deal, this other thing. I have this from those that know. And I know the old lady (your mother) can't believe that you took any . . . and get away with . . . But because I know you too well, I'll have to take you into town."

BH: Yes.

BOB: "Well, but that's a pretty good horse." "Ordinary run." "Well, I tell you, I think you're going to have to ride him in between us, a man on both sides of you, and one man in front of you on that horse (Bullfrog).

BH: On Bullfrog.

BOB: That horse could outrun any other.

BH: Didn't trust him?

BOB: "I saw that horse run, son. You remember that race." "It seems like I do. Yes." "You won that race, too." "Well, I'm no jockey." "You rode that horse and you won the race. You won $400 on that horse."

BH: Boy!

BOB: "And that horse absolutely left the country. It took three days to get you back. But he won that race, he won all races in the state of Oklahoma. And he's still so fast that I can't take a chance on it." So they started to town. And Earl, he wasn't on such a fast horse. But when they left they went downhill on the jog. They came to these little arroyos in the canyon. Oh, there were several. At some time or other back in the ages, the ice had cut fingers out the side of the canyon . . .

BH: Yes, the . . .

BOB: And some of these little gullies were open and one could go through them. And some of them were dead ends.

BH: Yes.

BOB: Nobody but Earl and Zack knew which were the dead ends.

BH: Which ones were dead end, yes.

BOB: But everyone did know some that were open because they were very well marked. Some of them were two miles long, and with a good fast horse a person could soon get away right through those fingers. So the Sheriff said, "Now you just ride kind of gentle. You know the bad sheriffs, they would put a loop around your neck and handcuff you behind . . . ."

BH: Yes. He just had him riding free.

BOB: He had them riding unshackled on the horses.

BH: Yes.

BOB: "But, as I told you before, Zack, you know I don't do no business like that. Just tie him up so he couldn't move, I don't like this." But some way or other when they got down there, about three miles below the cabin . . . . I went along and I don't know what happened -- if I ever heard I don't remember -- but they, Earl and Zack, got away.

BH: They did?

BOB: And, oh, six or eight months afterwards, I don't know, one of them rode into town, maybe both of them did. They used to ride into the ranch -- one of them -- pretty near every week.

BH: To see their mother?

BOB: Ma, and she'd give them a couple of loaves of bread and bacon and stuff like that; they didn't want to go into town. But six or eight months later, one of them went into town; yes, one of them went into town and then they got him.

BH: They did? Was this Earl or Zack?

BOB: Well, I don't -- maybe both of them went in. I won't say, I wasn't there . . . .

BH: Anyway, they finally got them.

BOB: Yes, they picked them up pretty soon. Zack, I don't know whether they got him or not. They picked Zack up in town. I don't know how long it took to catch Earl.

BH: What did they do? Put them in jail?

BOB: What?

BH: Did they put them in jail when they got them?

BOB: Oh, I . . . .

BH: Don't remember?

BOB: I think they put them in the pen for a while and then they got pardoned. Even the Sheriff was fighting for them.

BH: Yes. Trying to help them.

BOB: They didn't hunt for them anymore and they knew right where Earl and Zack were.

BH: Yes. Boy!

BOB: But no one could prove that the Sheriff wasn't doing his stuff when he arrested them that time!

BH: Sure. They couldn't.

BOB: But . . . .

BH: Bob, maybe we should jump ahead to when you got to Montana, and talk about the Project. We can come back to this later because I'm afraid my time will run out.

BOB: Yes, it's a long ways to the Cost.

BH: Do you mind if we jump ahead to when you were living in Butte and talk about the Project here?

BOB: . . . .

BH: Oh, yes, I have - - - I'm going to leave this tape and we'll come back to it. I'll just tell the tape that . . . .

BOB: When do you leave? When are you leaving?

BH: I'm going tomorrow morning and I'm going to visit some other ladies this afternoon and, you know, I haven't too much time and I want to be sure to tell them about, or talk to you about the Archives first.

BOB: . . . .

BH: I want to tell the tape that eventually Mr. Hall did come to Butte as a young man and he has lived here ever since, isn't that right, Bob?

BOB: Yes.

BH: For eight years he worked as a hard rock miner in the Butte mines, then spent 12 years in the smelter at Anaconda, Montana. He has always been a free lance artist while holding other jobs to support his wife (the former Margaret Weisking whom he married in 1946) and their three sons. He was staff artist on two Montana newspapers, doing cartoons and illustrations. One the Montana Standard, was it? What were the papers you were on?

MR.X: The Montana Standard.

BH: This newspaper work was done before the days of the Project. Can you tell about it, Bob?

BOB: Well, I worked for the Montana American before the Standard.

BH: Oh!

BOB: Do you remember that paper?

BH: I was going to say I never heard of that.

BOB: It belonged to Byron Cooney.

BH: Byron who?

MR.X: Cooney.

BOB: Montana had a Governor Cooney.

BH: Yes. Over in Helena. Cooney was from Helena, wasn't he?

BOB: In Helena.

BH: Yes.

BOB: He was the brother to Byron.

BH: I see.

BOB: Byron was a newswriter for this Montana Standard. He ran that Montana American himself. Then there was a woman by the name of Violet something; she was really a businesswoman. She was on the ball all the time. She and Cooney picked me up and I was art editor in Billings Montana. I used to get Billings . . . architect . . . .

BH: Well, you did art work on both of those papers?

BOB: What?

BH: You did a lot of art work for both of those papers.

BOB: Yes.

BH: And then when the Depression came -- when the Depression came along in what? -- About '33 -- did Frank Stevens come to Butte?

BOB: '34? I don't know.

BH: '34.

BOB: I'll tell you how that happened.

BH: Good.

BOB: I don't know how, Betty, how true this is, but Doc Butler told me . . .

BH: Who?

MR.X: Doc Butler.

BOB: . . . that I am the first one . . . it was through me that they ever started an Art Project in Butte.

BH: For heaven's sake!

BOB: And I'll tell you how that happened.

BH: Good. I'd like to hear it.

BOB: I was working for Hanson.

BH: Hanson Packing Company. [In Butte. At that time over 100 wild range horses were killed there every day, in addition to cattle.]

BOB: Yes. One day I stopped at the corral and I watched them letting the cattle out and coming in there. Lordy, some of them you could hang your hat anyplace on them. [They were so emaciated, their bones stock out.]

BH: On the cattle?

BOB: Yes. After they cut their heads off there was nothing left. That's right. A great big ghost-looking head, no flesh, just a rack of bones. I saw two or three poor old devils that they weren't going to kill yet; they had to get some meat on them. One bale of hay for them was up above, on top of the high fence. There was a kind of wagon and baled hay stacked up on it. And one bale of hay. So I made a drawing of a steer down in that corral; I don't know whether or not I put his head looking up toward that bale of hay, but he was just all spraddled out trying to brace himself to keep from falling. I drew something like that and I colored it. Oh . . . .

BH: In colored ink, you mean, drawing?

BOB: No, I don't know. I put color in it; I don't know what I did with it. I drew it with a pencil and colored it.

BH: Pencil color.

BOB: So I showed it to Elizabeth Macdonald, the Librarian. Do you know her?

BH: I remember her a long time ago.

BOB: Elizabeth said, "Bob, I once saw the picture that Russell made of The Last of the 5000."

BH: Of the 900?

BOB: Yes, Last of the 500. But there's another name they had for it, they used to call, besides that. It wasn't The Last of the 500, but The Last of the 5000 was the original name of that picture.

BH: I know that picture, too. [It is titled, Waiting for a Chinook, and was done the bitter winter of 1886-87. It made the then unknown Charles Marion Russell famous.]

BOB: But they had an other name on that.

BH: I don't remember that.

BOB: There's another name on it.

BH: I can look it up.

BOB: It was something else, I can't think of it now. It used to be . . . you couldn't tell what but I read in the Bank The Last of the 5000 was actually it.

BH: Yes.

BOB: That was done in 1887.

BH: Yes.

BOB: But I don't know why I drew the one I did, but Elizabeth Macdonald took a look at mine and she said, "Bob, I'm not kidding you. Russell made a picture of The Last of the 5000 and I saw it. This picture is a masterpiece alongside that. It really puts over the point."

BH: He put over . . . . You put over the idea of the starved steer trying to stand up to eat before being slaughtered.

BOB: Yes. Well, old Ben Roberts, the old saddle-maker up there . . .

BH: Is that the high school principal?

BOB: . . . he told me about Russell's picture. Russell had given him that picture and then he gave it to Kaufman in Helena [Montana]. Russell had worked for the Kaufman outfit.

BH: Gave . . . who was that? Kaufman in Helena? [Louis Kaufman]

BOB: Yes.

BH: Who was Kaufman?

BOB: Well, there were two partners of them; there was Kaufman and another man, who were 45 years in the cow business in Dillon. They were the largest partnership of any two cowmen I know of.

BH: That's interesting.

BOB: In the state of Montana anyway.

BH: Yes.

BOB: 45 years partners.

BH: 45 years. Boy! That's a long time.

BOB: They lived side-by-side in Helena.

BH: Well, did Roberts want Kaufman and his partner to use your picture for advertising or something . . . ?

BOB: No.

BH: . . . or just because it would be interesting to them?

BOB: Elizabeth took my picture and went to Doc butler who . . .

BH: Doc Butler, yes.

BOB: . . . was the State Veterinarian.

BH: I see.

BOB: But he was also head of this Art Department for the WPA in Helena. They were in that new National Bank they just had built.

BH: That's the First National over there?

BOB: Yes.

BH: For heaven's sake!

BOB: And Elizabeth asked me if she could take that picture; if I'd let her have it and she'd take it to Helena and show it to Doc Butler.

BH: Yes.

BOB: Elizabeth said, "Well, Bob, you ought to have some money for that. It . . .

BH: Sure.

BOB: . . . is as rare a picture as I ever saw. That and that alone ought to make you a lot of money. It did Russell." I answered, "Oh, I don't think the picture alone did. He had to do a lot of work besides that. But his picture started the fame of Russell." Elizabeth said, "And Russell couldn't begin to draw compared to you at the start."

BH: Sure. You're a much better artist than Russell, yes.

BOB: "You had him up a mile. I know it. That's all that man ever did. He never worked like you."

BH: He just did this one picture that caught the fancy of the public and established him?

BOB: He didn't do anything else for a long time. He and his wife half starved to death before his pictures began to sell later.

BH: What did Doc Butler think of your picture? Did he like it?

BOB: Yes.

BH: Good.

BOB: Well, he laughed. And he said he should get me in on the WPA today in this Montana. [So he started the Art Project in Butte; I think that is what he meant.] And if I hadn't had Elizabeth Macdonald for a good friend, she had known Doc butler and knew his wife and the availability of the Project, there wouldn't have been one in Butte.

BH: I see.

BOB: She went over to Helena and told Doc something had to be done.

BH: Well, then, did he get the Government to start a Center here in Butte after that? Did Butler get them to . . . ?

BOB: He was head of all the art . . . .

BH: I see. And did they have an Art Center in Helena before Butte?

BOB: No, no.

BH: They never had one there, did they?

BOB: They had nothing.

BH: Isn't that were Jack Beauchamp came from?

BOB: Bokamp?

BH: Yes, wasn't Beauchamp on an Art Project in Helena?

BOB: I don't know whether he did.

BH: Yes. He did. [He taught art classes at Carroll College, Helena, under the Project.]

BOB: I don't know whether it was him or his brother [who was in Helena].

BH: Yes. His brother is alive.

BOB: Jack was a portrait painter in Poughkeepsie, New York.

BH: Portrait? His brother, or Jack?

BOB: Jack was . . . . His brother, "Bud," was a writer for the Saturday Evening Post.

BH: That's interesting. He writes for the movies now.

BOB: When Jack Beauchamp came to town, everybody in Helena got away from view.

BH: They did?

BOB: He came and he wouldn't even speak to his old school chums.

BH: He came back with real airs?

BOB: Oh, Lordy, he had the big head right! And they got even with him down in that big swimming pool over there [Broadwater, a famous old pool, with picnic grounds, etc. just outside of Helena]. The bartender nearly drowned.

BH: Breadwater?

BOB: Beauchamp pretty near drowned over there.

BH: Well, he should have known better than to be up-stagish, especially in Montana.

BOB: Yes. Willy Brown told me about it. Willy was one of them. Beauchamp was lying down and a fellow named Miller, a big real estate man, and his son were in there. And they got him . . . I guess Miller and the rest really mopped up on him. He talked to them after that!

BH: Fine. For heaven'ssake.

BOB: He wouldn't even talk to them before then.

BH: Well, let's get back to this Doc butler. I suppose he wrote to Washington and told them that they should set up a center here in Butte. And then Washington sent Frank Stevens up here. Is that the way it happened?

BOB: Well, listen, you see I want on then . . . . Frank Stevens built a project, it took a little while to do it.

BH: I would think it would, yes.

BOB: Yes. But finally I got on. There was no provision for any artists at all when I came. There were only writers, all writers.

BH: That was at Missoula [Montana], you mean? Yes, I talked to Mike Kennedy, you know.

BOB: That's right. And this Mike Kennedy, he is head of . . . Director of the Arts in Helena, at the Montana Historical Society Art Gallery.

BH: Historical Society.

BOB: Yes. He had enough drag in Missoula that he got in on the Writers' Project.

BH: Yes.

BOB: And so . . . .

BH: There weren't any writers here in Butte on the Project?

BOB: What?

BH: There weren't any writers ever here in Butte?

BOB: No. There wasn't nothing. So today that Kennedy is an art critic. Jesus Christ!

BH: I know what you mean. But he bought a lot of your paintings. [In 1961 the Mont. Historical Society bought 81 of Bob Hall's pen-&-ink drawings for their permanent collection.]

BOB: Yes, but he has no business in that job. But he had a drag so that's enough. That's all you need in Montana, just a drag, whether you have what it takes or not.

BH: Yes.

BOB: But Mike had pretty good friends. But to tell the truth about him, he knows . . . .

BH: A lot of people do.

BOB: Anyway, I went down to see Jack Beauchamp. I had never met him.

BH: You went over to Helena to see him?

BOB: We went down to see Jack and . . . . No, they had sent him over here to Butte to get material on the mines. They sent him to get illustrations of the mines for a book being written on the Writers' Project. And I went down to see him.

BH: For that Copper Camp book, probably.

BOB: Jack Beauchamp did that. And he was a portrait painter; he was pretty good at portraits, I'll admit that.

BH: Pretty good at what?

BOB: Portraits.

BH: Poker?

BOB: Portraits.

MR.X: Portraits.

BH: Portraits! I don't know why I didn't get that. I'm sorry.

BOB: He did some good ones, I'll admit that. Anyway, they sent him over here to paint pictures down in the mines.

BH: When he hadn't had any experience painting that kind of thing at all, probably.

BOB: No, no, no.

BH: Were they any good, what he did?

BOB: What?

BH: Were his paintings of the mines any good? Could he do it?

BOB: Well, he had to go down and pick out some of the light places to work. You know, where there was light.

BH: To work, yes.

BOB: But he never really got into the depths of the mining end of it.

BH: Sure.

BOB: He didn't know nothing about it. He couldn't know. If you don't know . . . .

BH: Of course, you can't paint anything very well if you don't know your subject.

BOB: No, you wouldn't know whether you were right or wrong. After working in the mines as long as I did, I had no trouble making a perfect mining picture. I put the timber in right. I'd worked the drills, and placed the drills for the holes where they belonged in the timbers; and timbering down and timber overhead; even the lay of the stokers for shoving off. I could put it in there and it would look like it was built right through the wall.

BH: Yes, you knew what to look for and what was important to get in the picture. You know mining.

BOB: I knew whatever was down there.

BH: You'd even worked down there once, Bob.

BOB: I knew what the timber looks like. It was a straight block against a wall, and then they have other things -- wood blocks, and cell poles.

BH: Cellpool?

BOB: Yes. I know just ore wedge; I know where to place ore wedge. And the places where you put two wedges, and two is enough.

BH: Well, this Jack Beauchamp came over and he didn't know how to get these things.

BOB: Well, I've got all that stuff in my pictures, so when miners see them they can measure up; when the look at one of my pictures, they see it done right. And they really know; they see every wedge and where it belongs in all that timber.

BH: Yes.

BOB: And where your block goes down the shaft.

BH: Well, did they use your pictures?

BOB: What?

BH: Did Jack Beauchamp take any of your pictures of the mines back to Helena?

BOB: No.

BH: Just his?

BOB: Oh, yes. He took them down there and, what's his name, Doc Butler understood through the A.C.M. [Anaconda Mining Company] office in Butte. John Boardman of the office -- that some of the fellows up there told him that they saw my pictures of the mine and I knew what blocks looked like and I knew how to use them.

BH: Sure. How to paint them.

BOB: And so he would rather That I could go down there and I could tell Beauchamp where he was wrong. I'd know; in a minute I could tell him if he was drawing it right. So they asked me to go with Beauchamp while he worked.

BH: It would have been easier for you to do it in the first place rather than go along with him!

BOB: Well . . . .

BH: Well, that's the way it was, though.

BOB: Yes. Now about me and Michael Donner . . . . [Another artist who was supposed to make pictures of the mines]

BH: Mike O'Donner?

BOB: We just set quite a while. Jess, he could do that [far more than WPA would] WPA would pay his rent, and all of his expenses but he wasn't doing any WPA work. Nobody bothered him. He was down there and he wasn't doing any work at all!

BH: Good Heavens!

BOB: He just did some sketches and filled in with paint. I don't think he was down in the mines; I thing he got photographs. I don't think he ever went down in the damn mine. I actually don't think he ever went below the cellar of the shaft.

BH: He was probably afraid to go down. Could have been.

BOB: Probably. So when Beauchamp finally did come over, why Kennedy said, "Better send Bob over to check up on your work. Not the ability of it, not the artistic part of it, but to check the timbers . . .

BH: Yes, the authenticity of it.

BOB: . . . because I understand here in Helena they know quite a bit about mines."

BH: Sure.

BOB: "And a lot of mining men will see that mural, the mural Beauchamp is making." They were going to hang it in the little high school. [in Helena]

BH: Sure.

BOB: But the earthquake threw the high school down before we got it up.

BH: For heaven's sake! I didn't know that.

BOB: He never got it done except two . . . finished the mural.

BH: Never got what?

BOB: Never got it done.

MR.X: He never finished it.

BH: He didn't?

BOB: No. The mural.

BH: Oh!

BOB: He was too busy playing poker.

BH: Playing poker. Which mill was it? Which mine was he painting?

MR.X: Which mine was he painting?

BOB: Oh . . . .

BH: The Orphan Girl? Or . . . ?

BOB: I don't know. I don't think he was ever in a mine.

MR.X: No particular mine.

BOB: I have my doubts about that. He could have used photographs.

MR.X: No particular mine. Just at random.

BOB: Well, he was better off. He wouldn't know anything about the mine. He might have killed himself.

BH: So what happened next?

BOB: But they put Beauchamp's drawings out in a stack in rows, and Kennedy said, "Aw, the heck with this stuff. Bob. Give them to us and we'll take them up to Doc. That guy just paints portraits. I'll find out if he's supposed to paint portraits. I'll let the guy go after a bit. Who's going to hang that stuff on the wall?"

BH: They didn't want it at all perhaps?

BOB: Well, I didn't want to say anything.

BH: Well, you couldn't. You were in a spot.

BOB: I never said a word that wasn't commendable about anyone. I didn't even say anything to Kennedy.

BH: You wouldn't say anything against him?

BOB: But Butler or Beauchamp himself, I'd tell one of them.

BH: To his face?

BOB: I wouldn't go around the bush and tell anybody else. I'd tell him.

BH: Sure. Of course you would. Yes.

BOB: Well, I couldn't say a doggoned word because I was sent there. But anyway we took them up there to Doc. I don't know what happened to Beauchamp.

BH: I think he died, didn't he?

BOB: No, I don't think so. Then two more Project men from other states came to Helena.

BH: Oh?

BOB: And when I came through I was introduced to them. But anyway they put the pictures along the wall there, pictures about this size [he indicates size]. I know I had a pointer and I didn't want to but I just went along and I'd tell them what each one of the pictures represented. And I would show them that "this was a post stone and the main and then there was another one; it's not a full stone of 303 feet in one set. That's and three hundred and some feet of timber. The next one is just a half set and was built with leland stone brace, cross-barred, and it was 120 feet on that, 120 square feet of timer and ground in that. 303 feet along this other side is this long butt to the other wall."

BH: You could point this out to them, what it was supposed to be?

BOB: Yes. "And it's the break-off. It all comes from the north, the north of Butte. The ground roll is just like it is in Butte, hanging to the north."

BH: Yes. You were telling this to these two Project men?

BOB: So I told them over there in Helena how we work in the mines. "Now, over in Boulder the lead is just opposite; it's opposite to Butte's lead."

BH: Yes. It runs in here.

BOB: The Gray Eagle, you know that?

BH: The Gray Eagle?

MR.X: The Gray Eagle, in Fuller, Montana.

BOB: The ground is right where it was in Butte.

MR.X: Yes.

BOB: Anyway, I'm Not sure I sold it, but one of these men said to me, "Bob, did you ever try painting underground?" "Nope. No, I'm lucky if I can paint it on top of the ground." "Well, in pure imagination, could you draw a fairly accurate picture?" I said, "I could." "Someday we're going to have you do that. If I stay on this Project, I don't know whether I will or not, I would like to have you do one. I know that you know your ground; I know that you know mines, and I know you know your timbers."

BH: Sure.

BOB: "So you must know the drilling." I said, "Well, yes. I imagine I do." He said, "Well, we have to . . . ."

BH: We have . . . what?

BOB: "I never saw a mine, but I've heard of you before and I've seen sketches you made of mines, and . . . .

BH: Excuse me. I must change.


BH: This is Betty Lochrie Hoag on November 28 interviewing Bob Hall, Reel #3. Bob, you said that these two men wanted to know if you could do some pictures of the mines. They said that if they had anything to do about it, they'd have you working on an Art Project in Butte. These men you were talking to in Helena wanted you to be on a Project in Butte.

BOB: Well, they wanted to, but it never . . . .

BH: It never materialized?

BOB: No. No. No.

BH: Well, how did it start, then?

BOB: I don't know what happened. There was a Senator Burke from Kansas or Nebraska who came to Butte. He was up . . . I believe he was from Nebraska. I know Butler used to tell me different things because of my interest in mines before the WPA flopped.

BH: Ended. Yes. What was the first you heard of the WPA in Butte? When Stevens came?

BOB: Well, it wasn't WPA, it was FERA.

BH: Federal Works Progress Administration?



BOB: Yes. It was WPA.

BH: Federal Emergency Relief Administration.

BOB: Yes. And . . . well, I was involved. They paid you, the kept my pay going; I guess they had to do that.

BH: Oh, yes. You were a teacher on the Project?

BOB: They had me checked on one job but when I shifted, my payroll was shifted. There was no work, but during the meantime I was doing something else. but I was checked as on a job; I was checked off so I could eat . . . .

BH: You were checking on the other people who were helping, you mean?

BOB: Yes. I'd checked for certain Projects that I never was on, or I never did work on.

BH: I see.

BOB: But I worked for my money that way, you see.

BH: Yes. You worked doing supervising.

BOB: Of course. I would draw more money in Helena [government] than I could have got in Butte.

BH: Yes.

BOB: . . . could make more.

BH: Bob, some of the work you did was for the American Index of Design, wasn't it? American Index of Design, didn't you do that for the Project. American Art Index?

MR.X: Did you do any work for the American Art Index?

BOB: No, I didn't.

BH: Yes, you did. You did the . . . remember the saddle bags . . . ?

BOB: No, that wasn't what they called it.

BH: Wasn't that . . . ?

BOB: That was original American design -- American, it had to be strictly American.

BH: Index of American Design.

BOB: Oh, yes.

BH: Yes! Mr. Stevens told me about beautiful drawings that you did for that.

MR.X: He had a very old China teapot that he did . . . .

BOB: I'll tell you, Ed . . .

BH: Shea.

BOB: I sold a picture of an old teapot to Ed Shea.

MR.X: Shea.

BH: Ed Shea.

BOB: The millionaire.

BH: Yes. His wife told me about it.

BOB: He owns that.

BH: Yes.

BOB: Ed Shea bought that.

BH: Yes, I know. He told me. I talked to him.

BOB: And then he bought a powder horn picture.

BH: And a powder horn.

BOB: They've got two of my pictures.

BH: I thought those pictures all went back to Washington. I thought Washington kept them.

MR.X: She said she thought that Washington kept them. That they were back in Washington, D.C.

BOB: Well, they never passed. [Weren't accepted in Washington]

BH: Oh! Those were the ones that were . . . yes.

BOB: The first one I drawed, I painted, two times.

BH: Two saddles.

BOB: There was one of them that I was just one point off.

BH: For heaven's sake.

BOB: Ed Shea bought that.

BH: I see.

BOB: There's one in Washington. A dentist owns it in Washington, D.C. It hangs there in the Museum. He bought that picture off me.

BH: What happened to the Chinese teapot that you made a painting of?

BOB: What?

BH: What happened to the Chinese teapot?

MR.X: Do you remember the Chinese teapot, the old teapot, the small one? I think we've still got it, Daddy. I think we still have it. Let me check.

BOB: I'm not sure if we have it or not.

MR.X: Let me see here. [He looks for it.]

BOB: You might look in there. No, that was supposed to have been made during the tea party in Boston. Do you know?

BH: Yes. The Boston Tea Party.

BOB: The Boston Tea Party.

BH: Right. Yes.

BOB: Well, The teapot was shipped through here.

BH: The teapot?

BOB: It was cracked in three for four places. I made a watercolor sketch of that.

BH: For heaven's sake. Where did you get it?

BOB: What?

BH: Where did you get the teapot? Where did it come from?

BOB: It came through here.

MR.X: It was down at the Art Institute.

BOB: It was mailed to me here in Butte.

BH: I see. Well, that's interesting. Do you remember any other ones you did for the Design Index?

BOB: I only did three. [Two of the saddle, one of the teapot.]

BH: Three of them. Then you taught . . . .

BOB: I got tired of . . . .

MR.X: don't really know.

BOB: One of them's in I did just one of that.

BH: Why, that's beautiful, just beautiful.

MR.X: That's a huge piece of work.

BH: It certainly is.

BOB: That's supposed to be the Boston Tea Party.

BH: Isn't that interesting!

BOB: They put the stuff through here, the American design.

BH: Yes.

BOB: But nobody knows what happened to that American Index Design. I don't know.

MR.X: design, you know, maybe design at that time.

BOB: But anybody would look at the pot and look at that they'd think it was a pretty fair job.

BH: Bob, you taught classes, too, didn't you?

BOB: What?

BOB: You taught art classes at the Art Center in butte, didn't you?

MR.X: You taught art classes at the Center, didn't you?

BOB: Art classes?

BH: Yes. Didn't you teach?

BOB: Oh, I taught all the schools in Butte.

MR.X: All the schools in . . . .

BH: You have just shown me a photograph of your art class. Because you have a picture here of it, will you tell me about teaching?

BOB: That's it there.

BH: That was under the Project?

BOB: That's the whole assembly, at a class in Meaderville [a suburb in Butte].

BH: I see.

BOB: That's where . . . .

BH: Was that private teaching or part of the Project. I'm trying to find out.

MR.X: It was part of the Project.

BH: It was? They were sent out to the schools?

BOB: The government had a photographer here in Butte and he took this photograph of my class at Meaderville.

BH: Photograph what? Oh, take these pictures.

BOB: He put a colored man over there, standing in front of the blackboard.

BH: Yes, I see it.

BOB: And the colored man was blacker than a sack of black cats, and he had on a white shirt.

BH: All he could see was the shirt.

BOB: When the picture was developed, there was no head, only a white shirt.

BH: "The headless rider!" Bob, this is the Project picture of the people who worked in your class?

BOB: Yes.

BH: I'd like to . . . . While I have the picture, I'd like if you'd tell me their names.

BOB: The only one I've got is right there.

MR.X: Now what she wants is the names of those that worked there.

BOB: On the WPA?

MR.X: Yes, up here at the Art Center.

BOB: Well, you mean the ones that worked for the Gallery?

BH: Yes. Were there any other teachers like Miss Hoffman?

BOB: Oh, yes, they had an office over here in the old Assemblyman Club.

BH: Yes.

MR.X: Now who were the other teachers?

BOB: Oh.

BH: Yes.

BOB: Earl Tyler in Walkerville [Another Butte suburb].

MR.X: Earl Tyler.

BH: Earl tyler. Is he still here or is he in New York?

BOB: No. I cannot tell you where he is, and nobody else in town knows.

BH: Do you know?

BOB: Yes, but I won't tell.

BH: All right.

BOB: He's in a Federal institution so why bring it up?

BH: Yes. Right.

BOB: Oh, I told you no use bringing it up.

BH: Is there a woman Frederickson?

MR.X: Is there a Frederickson now?

BH: Frederick.

MR.X: Or Frederick? Did she teach?

BOB: [Inaudible]

BH: What about Harriet Saverigny? Did she teach?

BOB: There was me and Earl Tyler and Walt Scott.

BH: Walt Scott. And he's dead, isn't he?

BOB: Yes.

BH: Where did he come from? What kind of artist was he? Did he do Westerns?

BOB: Walt?

BH: Yes.

BOB: Well, he taught oil painting.

BH: Oh. I see.

BOB: And just where he was born I don't know. He was connected with . . . .

BH: Great Falls, I bet. It looks like Great Falls.

BOB: Well, it was . . . .

MR.X: Judith Gap country.

BOB: Lewistown.

MR.X: Lewistown, up in Judith Gap.

BOB: And his folks -- I don't - - His dad was connected with the Yogo Mining Company in Judith Gap. There was a syndicate . . . .

MR.X: And this was the Yogoltz Mining Company in Judith Gap.

BH: I see. Thanks, Bob. (Mr. X). And then what about . . . ?

BOB: And then his dad tried it a while and and then the syndicate came around and years and years. But I heard how they were going to, I don't know yet if they did start, but I heard they were going to.

BH: Yes. Did Walt Scott do any painting after the Project? Did he die right after the project?

MR.X: No, He painted up until 19--, until about six years ago. No, it was about eight years ago he quit painting because he had developed a paralysis. but he did painting afterwards. The last painting he was working on was The Surrender of Chief Joseph."

BOB: Well, it was about '42 when he was let out of the Project.

MR.X: Yes. But she said did he do any painting after he was let out of there?

BOB: Oh, yes. I think he did.

BH: Bob, what about Neal Sharkey?

BOB: Neal Sharkey was a letter man from Anaconda.

BH: Letter man?

BOB: Yes. He's in Chicago now. I used to get letters from him, but I've lost track of him now. His mother is still in Anaconda.

BH: Did he teach lettering, or did he do posters? What did he do on the Project?

BOB: Lettering.

BH: Lettering.

BOB: He was a sign painter.

BH: Sign painter. I see.

BOB: He was a very good letter man.

BH: What about James . . .?

BOB: There was a fellow named Anton Jouveck.

BH: Yes. What happened to him - Jovek? I haven't . . . .

BOB: Jouvek is in 'Frisco.

BH: In San Francisco?

BOB: Anton Jouvek was what you would call a tracing man.

BH: What's that?

BOB: Well, that's tracing work for the silk screen.

BH: For silk screen?

BOB: Yes. And then he used to do very good with a lead pencil. Very good.

BH: Did he do any silk screen tracing on the Project?

BOB: No. That girl that you were telling about . . .

BH: Hoffmann?

MR.X: Irene Hoffman was on the Project at that time.

BH: Irene Hoffman.

BOB: She was at the time Neal was there, Neal Sharkey, but he was a kind of a letter man, a very good letter man.

MR.X: Dad, Did Mary Wilhelm do any teaching?

BOB: No. Not to speak of. Mary Wilhelm wasn't down there on that Project. She wasn't here in the WPA days.

BH: That was probably before her time. What about Jimmy Brennan?

BOB: She came in here down here.

MR.X: Oh, that's right.

BOB: She wasn't on the project.

MR.X: Mrs. Hoag asked what about Jim Brennan?

BOB: Oh, Jim Brennan, he never did anything.

BH: Stevie said he might be in jail.

BOB: Oh, he . . . .

BH: She said he did paintings for barrooms.

BOB: What?

BH: Stevie said Jim Brennan did paintings for saloons in Butte.

BOB: Yes.

BH: That wasn't for the Project, was it?

MR.X: Here is Jim Brennan [Shows a drawing Brennan made.]

BOB: He was there drawing money for that!

BH: I want to ask you about Bud Leonard. Did he do any work?

BOB: He wasn't on . . . .

BH: Not on the Project?

MR.X: Ask him about Harriet Jovenini.

BH: Harriet Jovanini.

BOB: She was on the Project but she didn't do any drawing.

BH: What did she do?

BOB: She was in the office.

BH: In the office. I see.

BOB: Lavina Richards didn't do any drawing, either.

BH: No.

BOB: She was in the office.

BH: And then Madeline Tocco.

BOB: What?

BH: And Verna Mogey.

MR.X: Madeline?

BOB: Well, that must be this . . . . I don't remember. I think she's in Chicago.

BH: I'm going to see them this afternoon and I'll . . . . These girls, four of them, are going to get together. And I'll do them all at once if I live through it.

BOB: Verna Mogey.

BH: Which one?

BOB: Verna Mogey.

BH: Oh, that's her name? She's at now. Who is this one?

BOB: She's in Chicago, I think, or she was.

BH: Betty Keenan?

MR.X: Betty Keenan.

BOB: What?

BH: Betty Keenan was on the Project in Butte. She's in Seattle.

BOB: She's on the coast.

BH: Yes. What's the name of the other one? Who is this?

BOB: I can't place her now.

BH: Betty Keenan?

MR.X: Betty Keenan.

BOB: What?

BH: Betty Keenan was on the Project in Butte. She's in Seattle.

BOB: She's on the Coast.

BH: Yes. What's the name of the other one? Who is this?

BOB: I can't remember her name now.

MR.X: Just a minute. Maybe I can find out. Maybe Momma can remember. I'll ask her.

BH: There was another man I wanted to ask you about -- Pop Weaver. Was Pop on the Project? Or his son?

BOB: I believe he was, Betty, although he was working for the high school. Now I don't know whether he was put on the high school and taken off the WPA. I believe that's the way it was.

BH: Maybe he did both.

BOB: but I'm not sure just how . . . .

BH: Bob, they used to have traveling shows, didn't they, with art, paintings that came in, that you showed the public? Washington sent things out . . . ?

BOB: You mean they were show in the Art Center here?

BH: In the building, in the Art Center. Didn't they show paintings, have exhibits and things?

BOB: Yes.

BH: Do you think that the Project did a lot of good for Butte, or not? For the artists? Arts?

BOB: Not for Butte.

BH: Not for Butte? Just for the people working on it? Right?

BOB: It did no good for anybody.

BH: No?

BOB: It was just a waste of time.

BH: You really think that about the whole thing?

BOB: Let me tell you a little bit about it.

BH: Good. I'd like to know it.

BOB: In the first group I had a black and white class. I don't know how long. But I had the longest-standing art class that ever was in Butte. Lead pencil, that's all [I taught].

BH: Several years.

BOB: I had no color.

BH: No color?

BOB: Just lead pencil. Now some of those people didn't continue with their art. There's a Dr. Morris, a dentist in Dillon. And Dr. Morris and his brother went to my class conducted in Old St. Mary's. One of the class is now a fireman in Frisco today. And Dr. Morris is a dentist. He's a former captain in the Army.

BH: These were your students?

BOB: Yes. John Morris is a dentist in Dillon. The name is Morris. John Morris.

MR.X: Father Jimmy Gannon was a student of years.

BOB: Yes. Jimmy Gannon was there too.

MR.X: He is Pastor of St. Rose's in Dillon.

BOB: He was in my class but he wouldn't study.

BH: Well, don't you think these people got a lot out of it? It was good for them.

BOB: Oh, Ill take it back . . .

BH: (to Mr. X) Father who? I didn't . . . ?

MR.X: Jimmy Gannon.

BOB: There's a woman right up here, right up in town now, she used to be very good, too.

MR.X: Another one is Dr. Emmett Murphy in Butte. Dad taught him. And Father Emmett Lowney at Drummond is one. And they all say, every one of them, say that they got something out of it. They got a greater appreciation of art.

BH: Who's the Father in Emery . . . ?

MR.X: Father Emmett Lowney.

BH: In where?

MR.X: Drummond.

BH: I bet they did get a lot out of it. Because your Dad is a wonderful person; I bet he was a good teacher.

MR.X: Oh, yes.

BOB: She went to my class quite a while.

BH: Who would this woman be? Doing work. She lives up here now . . . is doing well. I can't remember her name.

MR.X: Dad, that wasn't Mrs. Grindy, was it? No, Grindy is pottery.

BH: Well, it sounds like all these people got a lot out of it. Why don't you think the Project was worthwhile? Even that much, it seems to me, is worth it.

BOB: Well, there's very damn few of them stayed with it.

BH: I see.

BOB: Now Anton Jouvek . . . . No, I can't see where it was worthwhile. Oh, if I could think of that woman's name, I'll be confounded if I can't think of it any other time!

BH: Well, you will later.

BOB: She had quite a writeup in the paper lately. She's a beautiful landscape painter, but she's mostly in pottery.

MR.X: Grindy! Isn't that Mrs. Grindy?

BOB: Yes.

MR> X: Mrs. Gwen Grindy.

BOB: She does lovely work.

MR.X: (to BH) Do you know her?

BH: No, I don't.

BOB: They wrote an article about her a little while back. And she told them I was the one that really started her in it. She kept right on with it.

BH: It seems to me that you have helped many people.

BOB: Well, what I meant was that after this length of time . . . .

BH: Yes.

BOB: I know nobody that would have gained. That woman, Mrs. Grindy, would have, and she does beautiful work yet, progressed in art anyway.

BH: Anyway.

BOB: And she does beautiful work yet. She's married and got kids. There are very few woman that would go on with any further work.

BH: Yes, that's right. Frank Stevens felt that Butte was helped by the Project . . . .

BOB: Frank Stevens!

BH: Yes. I've interviewed him in Los Angeles. He said to tell you "Hello." I brought you all kinds of messages.

BOB: Where is he at?

BH: Los Angeles.

BOB: What in the hell is he doing?

BH: Nothing. He's retired, gardening, has a little garden around his house and he putters around.

MR.X: Well, of course, you know Butte is not a cultural center; we all know that.

BH: Well, it never has been. But Stevie felt that the Project did a lot for Butte.

BOB: How did you come to hook up with him?

BH: Who? What?

BOB: How did you become acquainted with him?

BH: I went to interview him just like you, because he was here on the Project. I try to go and visit everybody who was on the Project, you see. And I brought my tape recorder. I went out and talked to him one afternoon. I asked him about Butte and what it was like here, and he gave me this long picture of it. And so when I came . . . was coming up this time, I called him up and told him I was planning to go to Butte and he said, "Be sure and tell Bob Hall 'hello'. Give him our regards, him and his wife." So now you have them. He's a very nice man, very nice fellow.

BOB: Yes. He used to give me some pretty good bouquets, that boy. I don't know where he got them.

BH: Did he have a garden here too?

BOB: Yes. I haven't seen him for years. But everybody asks me if I've ever seen him.

MR.X: I've heard . . . .

BOB: He hasn't been seen back here in Butte after the Project.

BH: Did he come back? I don't think he ever came back.

BOB: He was quite a guy too.

BH: He wears a little beret just like a Frenchman.

BOB: Oh, Lordy, he was gay the last time I saw him. Last time I saw him -- no, I didn't see him -- but he was going through here with two suitcases of wine that he was to sell. He used to sell wine.

BH: Bob, he brought a good artist named Jimmy with him from Los Angeles.

MR.X: Was it Tripian?

BH: No. No. Who's Tripian? Is he an artist?

MR.X: Who did Stevens bring up with him when he came up here?

BOB: Jim Redmond?

BH: Jim Redmond!

BOB: Jim Redmond painted that. [Indicates a picture]

BH: He what?

MR.X: That's Redmond's. Redmond painted that. The one I'm thinking of, I made a mistake . . . .

BOB: He was a mural painter. There's a big mural there in Los Angeles in the Post Office that he painted.

BH: Oh, yes, I know. Very -- quite well known.

BOB: But he's dead.

BH: I know. He was killed in the Battle of the Bulge, I guess, in the War.

MR.X: Yes.

BOB: James Redmond. He had a life class up here. He taught a life class and . . . .

BH: I bet they never had a life class in Butte before, in a public place.

BOB: Oh, yes.

BH: Had they?

BOB: They had classes in the nude right up here.

MR.X: Well, now, she said, "Did they have them before this started in Butte?"

BOB: Oh no.

BH: I don't think they'd ever heard of them here.

MR.X: It seems to me it would be kind of frowned on.

BH: Yes, that's what I . . . I can't imagine . . . .

MR.X: Puritanical Butte.

BH: Yes. Who was this Pippeon? Did he teach too?

MR.X: Now Pippion was an Indian, wasn't he?

BOB: Who?

MR.X: From the northern end of the state.

BOB: A Blackfoot.

MR.X: Blackfoot Indian.

BH: And did he come down here and teach?

MR.X: He was down here too.

BOB: He worked right down here.

BH: What did he teach?

BOB: Oh, drawing.

BH: Drawing?

BOB: Yes.

BH: What ever happened to him?

MR.X: Well, he burned to death, didn't he?

BOB: What?

MR.X: He burned to death, didn't here, up there in . . . ?

BOB: Yes, he burned in a cabin in Cascade.

MR.X: He was loaded [drunk].

BH: Oh, poor fellow.

MR.X: And then who was the man with the one hand?

BOB: One hand? A letter man, that kid was from Los Angeles.

MR.X: He did that beautiful . . . .

BOB: The last time I heard of him . . . .

MR.X: Rivera!

BOB: Yes. He was working for a big department store there. I know he was a young man. He had a very high position in one of the big department stores. He was one-handed but he was a window dresser.

BH: He's probably still around there. Maybe I can find him.


BH: Was he just a letter man on the Project?

MR.X: He filled in Harvey's First Communion. I mean he just copied in . . . .

BOB: Yes, he was quite a letter man.

BH: What is Harvey's First Communion? You're way ahead of me.

MR.X: My brother's first Communion certificate. They had it "James Paul;" they wouldn't put "Harvey" down because they said "Harvey" wasn't a Christian name. They put "James Paul," and his name is "Harvey James." And Rivera copied exactly, you can't tell the difference. It is old Gothic, Old English Gothic.

BH: That's hard to do. Do you suppose he taught that on the Project?

MR.X: What did he teach on the Project, Dad?

BOB: What?

MR.X: Rivera -- what did he teach on the Project?

BOB: I don't know what he taught. Was he supposed to be a teacher?

BH: I don't know. I'm asking you. I don't know.

BOB: Well, I don't know.

MR.X: He was there for lettering, wasn't he, Dad.

BOB: Well, if he was . . . .

BH: Stevie said one time they sent two, three artists out from Washington to the Project. Do you remember that? Three young men came out and Butte didn't like them very well. They were sort of Easterners.

BOB: I don't remember.

MR.X: Three men came out from Washington and they were artists but Butte didn't like them, she thought, because they were Easterners.

BOB: Oh!

BH: Do you remember that?

BOB: No.

BH: They were apparently sort of pansies and Stevie said that they didn't go very well in Butte; they got a very bad reception and turned around and went home.

MR.X: Tell about Will Standing coming here.

BH: Was Will in Butte!

MR.X: Yes, he used to come to the house. My mother and Dad knew him real well.

BH: Really! Tell me about Will Standing!

MR.X: Now about Will Standing.

BOB: He illustrated Land of Nakota, Mike Kennedy's book written on the Writers' Project in Missoula.

MR.X: Yes, but he worked there too, didn't he?

BH: In Butte?

BOB: No. Not in Butte.

MR.X: Didn't he work here at the Center?

BOB: No.

MR.X: Well, why did Will Standing come down here?

BOB: Came on a visit.

BH: Just on a visit?

MR.X: For that long a time?

BH: I knew he was here because Mother said Doug Gold brought him out to the house one time.

BOB: Oh, he'd stay two or three weeks.

MR.X: I want to check, I'm sure that . . . .

BOB: He worked for the Project a long time, but up north.

BH: He was just visiting.

BOB: Up north. Now he had worked for them a long time. He was illustrating that book that Mike Kennedy wrote . . . .

BH: Land of Nakota, yes.

BOB: His drawings came there. We would give him his check but he never wrote. And they would write and they would never get no answer or nothing. They didn't even know what the man looked like. And they wasn't quite sure where he lived. So Kennedy and Stevens decided to find out. Kennedy bought a little Fireball Buick and Stevens had bought a brand new suit, shoes and hat. And I don't know whether they were drunk or dressed up, but they decided they would go north to look for . . . to hunt up Mr. Standing. So they went to just outside the reservation, where there's a little town . . .

BH: Did they go off the road or something?

BOB: . . . a wide place in the road, that's all. And there was a Post Office there. They went up there. The only store in town was the Post Office, so Stevens went in and he saw two Indians sitting on the floor. Do you want to hear this?

BH: I sure do, yes!

BOB: And he walked up to the window . . .

BH: In his new suit.

BOB: . . . and he said to the Postmaster, he said, "I would like to get connected with Will Standing." "Who?" "Will Standing. do you know him." "No." "Do you mean to tell me there isn't a man around here by the name of Will standing?" "Me don't know. Why you talk with? I give letters. I give the mail when I have any to give; that's very seldom. When I have the mail in the Post Office. Me don't know." "Have you been around here quite a while?" "Yes." So, well he couldn't get head nor tail out of this fellow. He wouldn't tell him nothing. He said he noticed, as he turned around, this old man and woman; they were smoking a cigarette and they had long holders . . .

BH: Yes. Indian . . . .

BOB: . . . and they both had big grins on their faces. And there were sitting right down on the floor leaning against some studs and they were both laughing at him. So he went out. And just as he stepped outside the door, there was a big buck Indian stepped up on the porch and started in. And the buck sized him up; he didn't say nothing. And Stevens turned around as he was passing, he said, "Say, Mister, do you know Will Standing?" "Yes." "Does he live around here?" "Yes." "Well, this Postmaster tells me he doesn't even know him." "Oh," he said, "Heck," looking at him, "Why," the Indian said, "He does know him! That's his mother and father sitting right down there leaning against those studs, and the Postmaster is his uncle."

BH: Oh! The ones sitting on the floor there.


BOB: He said, "That's his mother and father . . . .

BH: They were sitting there on the floor laughing at him all this time.

BOB: What?

BH: They were all laughing at Stevie then?

BOB: Yes. Well, anyway, Stevie said, "Does he live here in town?" "Sure. Come here. Do you see that first house, that little green house way over there in that draw?" "Yes." "Do you see where the others leave off out there? Do you notice that little red smokestack there; you can just see a little trickle of smoke?" "Yes." "You can drive through. Go up there to the corner and turn to your right and go right down the fence, and that'll take you right over. There's a road runs right across there." Now the Indian possible never thought of how soft the roads were.

BH: The what?

BOB: The Indian never thought how soft they were.

BH: Yes.

BOB: And the doggone Fireball went right down in the mud. It was a heavy car.

BH: Yes, sure.

BOB: So Stevens had an awful time there . . .

BH: Bogged down in the road.

BOB: And when they got out of the mud, Stevens' suit and overcoat and his hat were just plastered.

BH: Oh, what a mess!

BOB: And Mike Kennedy said, "For Christ's sake," he said. "Go over to see that buck while I get turned around here." "Well, okay," says Stevie, "I guess I can make it on foot." "If you hear me hollering, come with a rope." says Mike. So Stevie got over there to a little white house down there. There was no door in front and there was nothing like a door till he got way around in the back, and there was one in the back at the kitchen.

BH: The only door in the house?

BOB: Yes. And he knocked and knocked and knocked. Nobody answered. So he took one more chance, and he knocked more heavy and the door was opened.

BH: Who came out?

BOB: If you see Stevie when you go back to Los Angeles, tell him to tell you about Will Standing. Well, anyway, there was the wife sitting upon the top of the cook stove. It was below zero outside.

BH: She was sitting on it to get warm?

BOB: she was sitting on top of the gas range. And he said, "Brother, let me tell you: everything in that house was the very latest modern stuff today."

BH: How amazing!

BOB: There was nothing ramshackle put inside that house.

BH: Everything except the stove.

BOB: Everything was beautiful.

BH: Isn't that interesting!

BOB: Everything they had was right up to date.

BH: Was his wife an Indian too?

MR.X: Yes. O, Lord!

BOB: She weighed 250-260 pounds.

BH: 250-260? And she was on the stove?

BOB: Yes.

BH: Good heavens!

BOB: He told her . . .

BH: Was Will Standing there?

BOB: Huh?

BH: Was her husband there? Was Will Standing in the house?

BH: That's what I'm going to tell you. When the door opened there was a big buck -- Will was a big man, see -- and here was this big buck looking right at Stevie. He could have cracked all of his ribs!

BH: Oh, honestly! Poor little Stevie!

BOB: And Stevie wasn't saying a damn word, and the buck wasn't saying anything. Finally Stevie said, "Are you Will Standing?" "Yes." No, no, he did not say that. He said . . . at first he said, "No." Stevie said, "There was a fellow at the Post Office, I met him outside. The fellow in the Post Office told me he didn't know you. 'I don't know Standing.' But finally another buck came along and he told me that that fellow back of the window was Will Standing's uncle and there was and old man and an old woman sitting down on the floor smoking tailor-made cigarettes with a long handle there and laughing at me, and he said, 'they're Standing's mother and father.'" So Standing said, "Me know Standing. Me not see him for quite a while, many moons. Me know him."

BH: Why the old rascal!

BOB: Yes, but he had a good reason for . . .

BH: He did have a good reason?

BOB: He told me.

BH: What?

BOB: He told me later when he came to Butte -- I'm one of the first persons he looked for when he came to Butte. So Stevie said, "Well, do you know where Standing is?" No, not now I don't." Stevie said, "Well, I might as well go. I came up here to see him. If I can't find him, well, I just can't find him." So they got outside and this buck followed him. Standing saw Kennedy up there on the hill . . .

BH: Working on his car.

BOB: He said, "Who's that?" Who is this? You know . . . ?" "Mike Kennedy from Missoula. Will Standing works for him; he's illustrating a book for him." "Well who are you?" He said, "I'm Frank L. Stevens, the head of the Government Art in Montana." "Oh." Standing looked at him and said, "Well, me Standing." Stevie said, "You is what?" "Me Standing." "Well, thank God! So you're Standing! Well, I should shake hands with you but I'm damned if I will, you caused me too much trouble."

MR.X: Mr. Stevens told this story.

BH: Yes, I don't blame him. He must have been furious.

BOB: Oh, don't let things bother you like that.

BH: What?

BOB: Don't let stuff like that beat you down. If you do, get out of that situation. A lot of things can get you down -- don't let it!

BH: Yes.

BOB: "Well," he said, "I just wanted to know, we want to know, if you're up here. You never write and we never know nothing. Nobody knows anything about where you are. But please, when you get anything like a check, can't you just sit down and write a little letter and send it down?"

BH: Sure. Just a postcard to know he got it.

BOB: "Well, I'll think about it." He told us, Stevie said the buck held out his right hand and Frank wouldn't take it; he had made Frank Stevens so blasted mad. Frank said, "I could have kicked that buck's head off." So when Standing came down to Butte, he came up to the house. Bob, I don't know [turning to his son]

MR.X: No, just Mom and I were there.

BH: You remember when he came, Bob (Mr. X)?

BOB: He wouldn't come in the house?

MR.X: No, Mother asked him if he'd come in the house and he said, "No." And he waited outside on the porch until Dad came home. He would not come in the house.

BH: For heaven's sake!

BOB: So when I came, he felt better. He knew me.

BH: He felt he could talk to you.

BOB: Huh?

BH: You understood; he could talk to you.

BOB: And he pretty well settled down.

MR.X: A real Indian.

BOB: And he had supper with us. And so I asked him, "For God's sake, what's the matter with you?" Why was he treating Kennedy and Stevens like that? "Bob, you know sometimes I'm on one side of the fence and sometimes I'm on the other side."

BH: Oh! For the white man and the Indian?

BOB: "One side is on the Reservation and the other side is in the United States."

BH: Yes. Isn't that something!

MR.X: You know, he had two houses.

BOB: "When I'm in the house on the inside, the government can't touch me. Nobody can. Outside they can."

BH: Isn't that something!

MR.X: He said he had two houses, one on the reservation and one off. And when they got too nosey off the reservation, he moved on the reservation. And when they got too nosey in the reservation, he moved back off the reservation.

BH: Oh, what a tragedy! What a real tragedy!

BOB: They had enough homebrew under the doggone house to drown the valley.]

MR.X: His wife . . . .

BH: He was quite a drinker, I guess.

MR.X: His wife made beer by the gallons.

BH: Made beer?

BOB: Stevens with all that mud on him he still was a government man, an agent. Anything that looked like a government man he was going to give no information. That's all.

BH: Well, apparently his relatives felt the same way in the Post Office. They weren't going to give anything away either.

BOB: Well, the Federal . . . .

BH: Yes. You can't blame the Indians.

BOB: You can't.

MR.X: His wife is still living.

BH: Is she really?

BOB: Well, that's all he said about that.

BH: Well, that's a wonderful story. I appreciate your telling it to me. I'll have to . . . .

BOB: What?

BH: That's a wonderful story. Thank you for telling it to me. It's a good story.

BOB: Well, yes. You bring in your mother and dad, he couldn't give it to you himself. And she probably wouldn't either. She wouldn't give it to you.

BH: No. She just met him when Don Gold brought him over.

BOB: I don't know Standing -- I know he did all right because he admitted it.

MR.X: See, they sent him from here to Washington, D.C.

BH: Oh, they did? What was he doing there?

MR.X: Dad, what was he doing in Washington?

BOB: Oh, they had a big gallery there. He had a big shipment. They had him back there three weeks.

BH: Was this the government or some private . . . ?

MR.X: It was the government under the WPA.

BH: The government? Is that right? Were these drawings from his books that he had on exhibit?

MR.X: They showed his paintings.

BH: Oh, did he paint?

MR.X: And then he was all dressed up in tribal regalia.

BOB: Oh, yes.

BH: I bet he was impressive if he was a big Indian.

BOB: I've got one . . . .

MR.X: Dad, tell her the story of when the government . . . when they sent him back to Washington D.C. what happened. Oh, this, this . . . .

BH: Is it a good story?

MR.X: Oh, this is Your mother will delight in this.

BOB: They made a braid . . .

BH: Made a braid? He didn't have his own braid?

MR.X: No.

BOB: . . . of horsehair, see, horse tail. And they braided it all up and put some paint on him. And they set him right by the door for these people to look at as they came in. See . . . .

BH: Like a side show.

BOB: He was braiding a quirt or, sometimes, the leashes that go around the horse collar, and sometimes putting buckskin around the tie them up at the end of the day he would probably tear it all up.

BH: He was just demonstrating the Indian skill.

BOB: Just to give him something to do.

BH: Poor guy.

BOB: One woman and little girl came up to him. They were from Kansas (this is his story now) . . .

BH: Yes.

BOB: Standing said they were from Kansas, I remember that. There was quite a gathering there. So this little girl walked up and took one of his braids. She said, "Oh, Momma, look. Look how thick his hair is!" And the old woman, I don't know, some remark that the woman made -- she wasn't an old woman, she was the mother of the little girl, she made some remark. She said, "It was somebody's scalp."

BH: You mean the mother told the child it was somebody's scalp?

BOB: She told the little girl that, and she added, "The Indians are part human."

BH: They what?

MR.X: They're part human.

BOB: They're part human.

BH: They're part human!

BOB: Yes.

BH: Oh, no.

BOB: Yes.

BH: Oh, honestly!!!

BOB: She was from Kansas.

BH: It's a wonder William Standing didn't . . . .

MR.X: Your mother will delight in that story.

BH: Oh yes. And the first one too.

BOB: And then there was another about a fellow came in to the exhibit at Washington. He was one of these . . .

MR.X: Dan Beard sign language people.

BOB: . . . Dan Beard men, you know.

BH: No, I don't know.

MR.X: Those Boy Scout Indians . . .

BH: Oh.

BOB: He walked up to Will and he says, "Ugh." and . . . [Bob gestures in sign language.] Will sat there for a little while, then started to move away, but he could back up only a little distance. Pretty soon Will got up and he said, "Man, do you understand English?" And he said, "If you do, talk English. I don't understand this language."

BH: He didn't understand Indian sign language. Oh, isn't that . . .

MR.X: It really was a hopeless . . .

BH: Yes.

BOB: Anybody would think that was Indian language. Yes, the old man didn't have anything to live up to.

BH: The poor Indians! They had an awful lot to take.

BOB: Oh, I could write a book on it.

BH: Yes.

BOB: And he told me this . . . .

BH: It's a wonder they aren't more bitter than they are.

BOB: For three weeks, he said, "I never drawed a sober breath."

BH: Gosh! For three weeks!

BOB: Right in Washington, D.C.

MR.X: Yes.

BH: He just got drunk and lived through it, yes. You can't blame him.

MR.X: He was killed by the stuff.

BOB: Oh, Lord, Will could stand up under a lot of it. You wouldn't believe he was drunk. He could take a, he'd take a jog of beer and he'd drink that jog of beer in about two or three minutes.

MR.X: You should see . . . .

BH: Two or three minutes!

MR.X: Oh, yes.

BH: Say, may I stop a minute? I have a telephone call I have to make. I just realized what time it was.


BH: We've taken time out here for lunch and are just getting back to taping again. Mr. Hall is showing me photographs of some of his work. The one he's just handed me is one which was done for Governor Cooney, was given to Governor Frank H. Cooney, and it's about . . . the subject is a beaver dam and the reason it was given to Cooney is that he was in charge of Water Conservation in Montana, I believe.

MR.X: There are two difference kinds of dams.

BH: Oh, I haven't looked at this. How wonderful! The beaver dam is above, and below is the modern conservation. Bob, do you have any picture of the Salish Indian fishing painting that was given to Harry Hopkins?]

MR.X: Do you have any . . . do you remember the one of the Salish Indian fishing? Do you have that?

BOB: Yes. [Shows photograph]

BH: Oh, isn't that beautiful. What was the name of this picture.

BOB: The Only Way Out.

BH: The Only Way Out. Ugh! Where is the original?

BOB: What?

MR.X: Where is the original?

BH: Or is this? No, this isn't . . . .]

BOB: I don't know.

BH: You don't know?

MR.X: probably lost in the West.

BOB: The government's got that.

BH: This was done for the government?

MR.X: Yes.

BOB: That was supposed to be in the Library of Congress the last time I heard.

BH: The Last Way Out.

BOB: No, they wouldn't give that to anybody, I don't think.

BH: It is a wonderful picture of all the cattle that have died from starvation, probably in the dust bowl.

BOB: No this is The Only Way Out. [Shows photograph]

MR.X: No, that's The Only Way Out.

BOB: That hasn't got a title to it.

BH: That one didn't need a title, the last first . . . .

MR.X: The first one doesn't need a title.

BH: No. Not with that one coming up to join the others in death.

MR.X: This is called The Only Way Out. Where a man has to shoot his own herd; there is nothing he can do about it, because he hasn't enough food for them.

BH: His brushwork is just beautiful. And anatomy . . . dissecting . . .

MR.X: I think that's a photograph of the original.

BH: Yes. I think these all are photographs.

MR.X: Yes, they're all photographs.

BH: And they were all done on the Project. Well, I hope they do have them back in Washington. The Smithsonian is trying to collect them.

BOB: Oh, there's quite a bit of stuff here. Betty . . . .

MR.X: Frank Zubick's broher . . .

BH: Photographer.

MR.X: Photographer. Well, his brother is the one that bought The Saddle in Washington, D.C. He is a dentist. I don't know his first name.

BH: . . . bought The Saddle in Washington D.C.

MR.X: His name is Soubise, he's a dentist.

BH: We have researchers in that area, you see, and they could look him up and ask for a photograph and put it on microfilm in a few moments. The original . . . he probably wouldn't turn it over to us.

BOB: Well, that's just a . . . .

BH: Oh . . . .

BOB: Well, that doesn't pertain to WPA..

BH: No, but it's about you and it might have . . . .


BH: No, but I also . . . that's why I wanted some of your life story. I want as much as I can in and then I also send in for them . . . I talk into it . . . .

MR.X: Dad, she said what she wanted now material like this which pertains to your life story and the WPA.

BOB: I sketched nineteen churches. And a fellow by the name of Doug Gold got those pictures and he's supposed to take them all Butte. And Mrs. Penney up here, you know, that lives just this side . . . You know Mrs. Penney?

BH: I don't think I know the Penney's, no.

BOB: You don't know her?

BH: I don't think I do.

BOB: They live a block below you.

BH: I've forgotten a lot of people. I haven't been here, Bob, for a long time.

BOB: She's dead and gone. And she told me, "Bob, that ain't right. You had some beautiful sketches in there. Why didn't you get them.?" Well, I turned them over to Frank Stevens -- who was in charge of the Project in Butte.


BH: This is Betty Lochrie Hoag on November 28th, 1965, interviewing Bob Hall and this is tape No. 3 or 4, I'm not sure, Tape No. 4, and we're just coming to the end of our tape. Unfortunately there is much more that we could go on with, but I have another appointment with people waiting. Mrs. Hall is just showing me some of the work that he did on the Project. Now I want to see if there is anything that we haven't discussed. A Col, Lawrence Westbrook has one of your paintings.

BOB: Who?

BH: Col. Lawrence Westbrook, who was Director of the Drought Cattle Program in Washington, D.C. He owns one called The Cattle Drought painting, a scene along the Yellowstone, and I'll bet you that's this first one you showed me. It was done under the Project.

BOB: Col. . . . .

BH: Westbrook.

MR.X: Col. Westbrook has one of yours of a cattle drought along the bank of the Yellowstone, and that must be entered.

BH: It probably is.

BOB: Well . . . .

MR.X: He's in Washington, and he was head of the . . . of the what? the . . . .

BH: Cattle Drought . . . oh, Drought Cattle Program.

MR.X: He was the head of the Drought Cattle Program.

BOB: Oh.

MR.X: So he probably has the original, yes.

BOB: I don't remember just how big that canvas was. Here are . . . .

BH: Photographs of paintings?

BOB: This is a reduction, I don't know the size. It was a wash drawing.

BH: I see. I hope that we're going to be able to have some of these microfilmed for the Archives.

BOB: . . .

BH: The composition is very good on it. yes.

BOB: . . .

BH: Well, I agree with Mrs. Elizabeth Macdonald that your work is interesting, your drawing beautiful. Mr. Hall, I have to . . . .

MR.X: She's trying to talk into that.

BH: That's all right. I have to end the tape and I just want to thank you for giving me the interview. I've enjoyed it very much and I hope that when I get back next summer we can do some more. I haven't any more time today, unfortunately. Thank you very much on behalf of the Archives.

BOB: Okay.


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This transcript is in the public domain and may be used without permission. Quotes and excerpts must be cited as follows: Oral history interview with R. H.(Bob) Hall, 1965 Nov. 28, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.