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Book details
  • Genre:HISTORY
  • SubGenre:United States / 20th Century
  • Language:English
  • Pages:182
  • Paperback ISBN:9780964737716

Growing Up in New Mexico 100 Years Ago

by Esther E. Gregory

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Life was very different 100 years ago in the small town of Willard, New Mexico. As a child, Esther listened to her mother and her friends gossip while they rocked and crocheted, and she soaked up their stories. One of her jobs was to bring home the family cow from wherever it had wandered that day. And she enjoyed the frozen cream the milkman brought. Esther faced many challenges in her life, from spending 16 months in Los Angeles when she was 22 to marrying a railroad man and starting married life in one room of a section house. The couple became farmers during the hard years of World War II. When the marriage ended, Esther moved to California with her three children in 1954 and started college at the age of forty. She realized her lifelong dream of becoming a school teacher.


Esther E. Gregory was born in 1914 and grew up in the bustling, rural town of Willard, New Mexico. She describes what life was like back then, such as the food they ate and where it came from, the schools, how life changed during the 1918 flu pandemic, and what social life was like in a small town. Some colorful characters lived in Willard, from the flapper to the bootlegger, and she captures their personalities. Later, Esther spent an adventurous 16 months in Los Angeles, seeing the ocean for the first time and riding the streetcars to work. In 1939, she married Virgil Lee Gregory, a railroad man, and they lived in one room of a section house. When World War II began, they moved to a farm near Willard and became farmers. In 1954, Esther moved with her children to California and began college at the age of forty, becoming a school teacher. She raised her three children and had a long and fulfilling life.

About the author
Esther Elda Underwood was born February 23, 1914, on land that her father, Josiah Nathaniel Underwood, had homesteaded outside of Willard, New Mexico. The family, which grew to five children, moved into Willard--a bustling rural town--and her father had an auto garage where he was the first one to sell and repair cars. Esther was a keen observer of life as she grew up in Willard, which she vividly describes in her book. She married Virgil Lee Gregory in 1939 and lived with him first in housing furnished by the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad, as he worked maintaining a railroad section. During World War II, they moved to a farm rented from Esther's parents. They had three children: Tom, Lura, and Ted. Esther loved being a farm wife, but the marriage failed and she moved herself and the children to California, where her sisters lived. She began college at the age of forty and became an elementary school teacher. She taught for twenty years. She was always learning new things and making life better for the children and herself. After retirement, genealogy became a second career, and she published a substantive book about the Underwoods. She loved making quilts and dolls, gardening, and spending time with friends. She died at the age of ninety-three in 2007.