Note: Written by Ruth Margaret Cocke, a great-grand aunt of Lorraine Vermette Koch. I suspect Ruth may have been ahead of her time in regard to her independence and freedom.
Memoirs of Ruth Margaret Cocke
My brother George left home in 1903 to join our father who was ranching in the Buckeye section of Arizona (Arlington) 35 miles west of Phoenix. As a young girl I helped with the children younger that I, and assisted in the home and the business. My parents were separated for many years and my father had bought this ranch, but later lost it. When Mother remarried in 1910, my sister Helen and I went to Phoenix to visit them for three months, but liked it so much that we stayed 12 years! After spending six weeks visiting, I was offered a job in a general merchandise store at Palo Verde, Arizona, as bookkeeper and clerk. It was quite a good country store carrying a $50,000 stock, and was new and nicely located. I took the job at $1.00 a day and living. It was fun, and I learned a lot about the country and the people — all sorts of people from everywhere. I found it very interesting.
I wanted to live in Phoenix, so after four months in the store I went to Phoenix, to join my sister Helen, who had gone there earlier. I went there and entered Lamson’s Business College and took a business course. Before I finished my business course, I had a chance to take a job at Hayden, Arizona. My sister Helen had a good job with Dorris-Heyman Furniture Company as assistant bookkeeper and stenographer. My offer was from Mrs. Katherine Reagan, later Mrs. Knight (Charles L. Knight) of Hayden, to come and take charge of the office and act as assistant manager for her “Hotel Hayden”. I was afraid it was a large order, but concluded to go, and did. Hayden was a new town built by the Ray Consolidated Copper Company, and the mill was built there for crushing the ore and concentrates from the mines located at Ray, Arizona, 15 miles distant. The ore was later melted into copper bars by the American Smelting and Refining Company (Guggenheims). The smelter was also built while I was there. It was a most interesting place.
The mill ran all the time — and once it stopped in the night and the great silence wakened us. One met many interesting people — many young college men — mining engineers, just of school where getting their first experience with mining there. They would probably make the rounds of the great mining centers in South America, Australia, and other mining centers. I had a wonderful time there, and I made some friends I have always kept. Mr. Knight was a University of Maryland man, a mining engineer, and Supt. of construction at the mine. He and Mrs. Knight treated me like an own sister. Mrs. Knight’s youngest daughter was a little girl of four who always called me Aunt Ruth, as did her brother Joe, 11 years old at that time. He was my shadow, and was devoted to me. He was killed after I left there, by a fall from a cliff onto some pinnacles of rock below. Mr. Knight called me at Phoenix to see to the funeral arrangements, which I did. Mrs. Knight’s eldest daughter, Mrs. Keith Pickerell (Ruby) is the only member of the family now living. Little Bess, the four-year old, grew up and married Harry Owen, actor. She had two children, Lelanie and Harry, Jr. She died in 1935 in her Los Angeles home.
This was one of the most interesting periods in my life. In Phoenix I worked for the Arizona Equitable Rating Office of the Arizona Branch of the Fire Underwriters of the Pacific, for 2 1/2 years, leaving that office in 1916 to go to the State Capitol to work. I was at the State House for seven years. I worked in the State Land Office a short time, but secured a permanent position as Clerk of the Board of Control, later re-organized as Board of Directors of State Institutions. I was claim Clerk and handled all the state institutional claim work and payrolls and purchasing for the State. George Washington Paul Hunt was then Governor.
I came back to California to live in 1923, and the next year I went with the medical firm of Browning, Hanson, and Wood, Diseases of the Chest. I was bookkeeper and office manager for 4 1/2 years. left on account of illness. After a year’s absence, they asked me to come back, and held the job open, but my mother was ill, and I went to her home and took care of her until her death 2 1/2 years later, June 3rd, 1932. She was interred at Olivewood Cemetery.
In October, 1932, I began shoesale selling for Anne Alt Brassiere Company, Compton. I did this wholesaling work for three years, then gave it up and went into the plant in the findings department — for two years. Then went as a finisher in the Alberta Shop in Los Angeles for four years. I left and got out of the business world because of ill health, and retired.