Venus Pendergast

Venus McNeil Pendergast by Joe de Kehoe, author of “The Silence And The Sun”

Venus was born Lucy Venus McNeil on December 11, 1894 in Kansas. Her given name was Lucy Venus, but everyone knew her as Venus.

Venus’ father worked for the Santa Fe Railroad and she was five years old when they first came out to Mojave, California. The Santa Fe provided a box car for their living quarters. The wheels were removed and the cars sat on a cement slab. “A box car house was a box car”, Venus relates. “They cut a hole in the roof so that you could stick a chimney through for the wood stove. That was all. Later on they did make some improvements such as building a sink, but we still had to bring in the water.”

Although there was a hole in the roof of the boxcar for a chimney, the stack had not been installed when they first moved in The Navajo Indians who worked for her dad on the railroad would crawl up on top of the boxcar and look down at Venus because she was a toe-headed blonde and they’d never seen one. Venus’ mother was so scared that the Indians were going to kill them, that she hit ‘em in the face with a broom every time they looked down the hole. However, whenever they were sick, the Indians would come to their boxcar to check on them and offer their help.

Venus returned to Oklahoma at age ten; she went to school there, and that was the only schooling she ever had, was just her years in Oklahoma, but she also took piano lessons when she was ten years old. She played in the pit for the Vaudeville acts and she’d get a dollar every time they had a performance. She’d get a dollar every night for playing back in Oklahoma; she was probably twelve years old. When she was fifteen they moved back to Ludlow.

 

 

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