Fuller grew up on the Fuller Ranch near Virden, N.M. He describes his life there and the work he did on the ranch. Tape Four contains several stories that had been passed to him by his uncle.
Story: Taught a lesson
The man who, a man who was drunk and who would not take care of his family, he had five kids and a wife, he was drunk day in and day out. Some men of the town went to him and told him that he must straighten up or, and take care of his family and quit being drunk all the time. They told him this several times, but he did not change his lifestyle. One day four or five men in an old pickup truck came by and picked him up. They took him about twenty miles up into the Burro Mountains, and bent him over a log and whipped his bottom with a belt. After this they gave him a gallon of water and told him to think it over on his way back to town, the twenty miles. This worked. In fact, it, it was much more effective than the present day government programs that we have.
Tape 1, Side A
Fuller describes his great-grandfather H. A. Fuller's arrival in Silver City in 1875 and the homestead he acquired in the Red Rock area in 1884, where he farmed and ran cattle. His grandfather, Charles Fuller, liked to farm and ranch and homesteaded his own place, known as the Fuller Ranch. Fuller recalls finding pottery, arrowheads, evidence of an Indian burial ground, and cliff dwellings on the ranch.
Tape 1, Side B
Deer, mountain lion, javelina, coyote, and bear were often seen on the ranch. Fuller tells a story about a bear that escaped from a circus. Water sources included the Gila River and natural springs. The springs were developed so that the cattle could drink as long as the springs ran. He does not recall the springs completely drying up at any time. Several rotary-drilled windmills were developed as water sources for the cattle, but there was one hand-dug well at the farm. He discusses the irrigation system on the ranch.
Tape 2, Side A
Fuller begins by correcting information on the bear story described on Tape One. He describes a typical roundup and says that he like to gather the cattle from the river bottom because there was shade and water. He recalls how he and his sister were given the job of crawling through the brush along the river to scare out the cattle that were hiding there. The brush was burned behind them so that the cattle could not return to hide. "The cattle would come out, then the snakes and everything else, and then me and my sister. It was a lot of fun." His uncle always told him, "Don't ever go where you haven't seen the cattle already go." One day he lost sight of the trail the cattle had taken, and ended up in quicksand. After his uncle pulled him and the horse out with a rope he got "a good cussin'" for not following instructions.
Tape 2, Side B
At times additional labor was hired, but it was hard to find reliable people who knew what they were doing. Other family members and a few neighbors usually assisted when help was needed. Marketing practices have changed over time. There are no longer any big cattle drives, and the cattle were always shipped from the home place. During times of drought there were always plenty of cattle on the market because owners were unable to keep the cattle. This kept the prices low. A really good year would bring a price of twenty-five cents a pound for cattle. Fuller recalls that prices in the 1960s were up as high as forty cents a pound.
Tape 3, Side A
A typical day usually began early and ended around six in the evening. Fuller recalls that by the time he was school age he was doing a full day of work and was flanking calves at age six. Family celebrations and traditions are discussed. Minor ailments such as pink eye and sore throats were treated at home. Cuts and scrapes were treated with iodine or Mercurochrome. Visits to the doctor were only as a last resort or for major ailments. Such a visit to the doctor was required after Fuller swallowed a needle. Several family members are buried in the Fuller Cemetery near Virden and in the cemetery at Lordsburg.
Tape 3, Side B
Education was important to Fuller’s parents, and although he wanted to return to the ranch after he graduated, his father insisted on further education. He attended New Mexico State University and graduated in 1968 with a degree in business administration. His granddad was a county commissioner, and his parents were both county clerks. His father was also a district court clerk. When asked if there was anyone in the area that was considered a community leader, Fuller says that his granddad, his father, Harry Day, Sherwood Culberson, and Robert Martin were all well respected.
His best memories of life on the ranch include the freedom and opportunity to commune with nature and learning what life is like. He says there is “something about growing up in the country,” dealing with life, and seeing nature at its best. “You had to make do with what you had,” he says, “because you were on your own.” He states that he did not know what hardship was when he was young, but as he got older the “unknown” in times of drought, the times when you needed to borrow money without knowing if the bank would give you the loan, the uncertainty of the future, and not having control of your destiny are what he feels were the greatest hardships in the ranching business.
Tape 4, Side A
Fuller tells several stories that were told to me by his cousin, Wayne Fuller. The stories are as follows: a bank robbery in Silver City; building the road from Lordsburg to Red Rock without a survey; a Pat Garrett inscription in a sandstone bluff; an inscription burned into a cottonwood tree; a bootlegged whiskey barrel; Tom Mix at the Hidalgo County Fair; and justice meted out without the law.