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A reader writes … By Karye Cheser Ingle House

October 15, 2001

Mr. Ricardo Jimenez's letter about Heber was so interesting to me. I learned a lot I did not know. It started me to thinking about my childhood times in Heber.

My family, too, moved to Heber from Oklahoma about 1926. Because I was quite young then I don't remember much about the farming, etc. I do remember the big Faucett ranch southwest of the town. Mr. Faucett early on was a very successful farmer and maintained homes for his workers, as I recall. He built a home in El Centro that was considered a mansion then. He was generous and when his wagons full of grapes came by our home we'd take a tub out to the street and it would be filled with grapes for free.

It has been said he began to lose whenever he would not change to tractors. He kept his mules instead.

It seems Heber is ignored in the early history books. This should not have been. When we first came there were several hotels, some grocery stores, lumber yard, post office and at least 13 packing sheds. When the packing sheds were busy with different produce, there were so many trains switching at the Main Street crossing that a signal man was hired so the cars could go safely.

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Shake, rattle and roll, and that it surely did! Just a few minutes after midnight on New Year's Day 1927, we all were awakened by a hard earthquake that destroyed many buildings in Heber and all over the Valley. Our beautiful white pillared school was so damaged that we children had to have classes in teachers' homes.

I and other second-graders met at Mrs. Ella B. Ware's home. At that time her home was where the north part of the new school is now. Later we were changed to the church parsonage. The room was too small and desks were lined up next to each other. To get in and out one had to slide from either side of the room.

Ella B. Ware taught many years there and the auditorium is named for her at the newer school. When the school building was repaired, the ramps on the east and south were installed.

The lovely school building was first opened Oct. 4, 1908, as the Heber Collegiate Institute. It did not last long as its chief benefactor died. Soon after it was used by the Heber Grammar School District with, I believe, around 100 students or less, first through eight grades, and four teachers.

My father E.R. Cheser owned New and Used Furniture store on Main Street. His building was tin and it was next to Roy H. Womack's brick building. Womack had a Ford agency before Chevrolet.

Mr. Majors was a postmaster, I remember.

Some families were Torrence, Hester, Robertson, Knapp, Witcher, St. John, Vogel, Fleming, Cavin, Gastelum, Mabry, Meadows, Wallis, Borden, Miller, Courtney, Majors, Cheser, DuLaney, Hamm, Bacon, Smith, Bertussi, Stevenson, Orraj, Winter, Baker, Scaroni, Briggs, Payne, Porter, Rodgers, Mahaney, Lowe, Wood, Horibe, Wagoner, McCollum, Huling, Barnes, Petree, Ingle.

KARYE CHESER INGLE HOUSE is an El Centro resident. She went to Central Union High School and the local junior college when they were on the same campus in El Centro. Her first husband was Van D. Ingle Jr., who died the day before John F. Kennedy died. "They were the same age," House said.

She is the mother of three sons and is now married to Elmer House. She was the office manager for McElvaney Insurance for 22 years. She and her husband are both retired.

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