Providence City Oral History Project
Date:9 June 2006 Tape Number: PCOH 2006 ARG-06
Location: Providence, UT Interviewee(s): Ivan Christensen
County: Cache Interviewer: Rachel Gianni
Recording equipment & mic:
Sony TCM 200 DV/150, mic: Radio Shack 33-3013
Transcribing equipment: Panasonic VSC RR-830
Project editor: Lisa Duskin-Goede
General description: This is a topical transcription with some word for word
excerpts. Ivan Christensen lives at 134 N. Main, Providence, UT.
Note: Items in parenthesis are edits by Ivan Christensen. Tape numbering (Log#) starts over on Side B.
I was born in Providence, in the house that is still standing there. (207 East 200 North.) My family home is two blocks up the street, that’s where I was raised. My birthday is March 5, 1934. In the family, there was nine children, two girls and seven brothers. We had a great big garden, as most people did, and tended it and that was what we had to eat. My dad was a carpenter and Mom, (her name was Rachel) when she got the kids raised, did housework for people. We had some cows and always had pigs and chickens. My dad raised chickens with an organization in Logan. They would bring the chicks in, and you’re talking the thousands, and he would raise them up till pullets or starting to lay. They would come and get them and put them in another situation and brings more chickens. So we always had lots of chicken. We always raised two pigs and we had cows.
My chores as I was growing up, was to cut kindling to start the fire in the morning in the old stove. As you got older, you’d help feed the pigs and help take care of the chickens, then milk the cows and always work in the garden. We started in the garden when we were old enough. Mom would take us out there. Providence was pretty rocky and we always would haul rock in the spring and of course weed in the garden, hoe it and gather the produce.
We grew everything. We had big patches of raspberries. They’d come on every year. We’d plant tomatoes and red beets, onions, spinach, potatoes. We always had a whole bunch of potatoes because we had a cellar down by the barn, a root cellar we called, that we’d put the potatoes and the carrots in for over the winter. We always had lots of that. We planted celery a number of years. A lot of corn. The whole lot was in the garden state and it’s a pretty big lot. We had a lot of fruit trees: apples, pears, plums, some cherry trees. We had a lot of the fruit too. Everything that we grew was what we would eat in the winter. We didn’t buy anything. Well, I’ll take that back, we would go over to Brigham and get peaches. That was an annual trip to Brigham City to get five or six bushels of peaches. The basement that we had in the house, the shelves that Dad built, was always full of goodies to eat. We would help in peeling, cutting up, that type of thing. The peaches, we’d help skin them and take out the stone. Carrots: cut them up. We even bottled meat. Dad hunted and was a deer hunter and elk hunter. Then in the summer we’d make one trip to Oregon and would buy the salmon fish up on the Columbia River before we’d come back and Mom would bottle that. So we had bottled meat in the basement also.
In grade school, growing up, the games we would play would be hopscotch. Marbles was a big game with the boys. The girls would jump rope and play hopscotch. To irritate them a little we’d go play hopscotch with them and jump the rope. Jacks was a game we played all the time. Kick ball. As we got older it was softball and football with the boys and then basketball in the winter. Kickball in the winter when we were smaller, in the gym. That was pretty much the games. At home we would play softball and it was on dirt streets. These were all dirt streets. There weren’t many streets in Providence that were oiled as I was growing. We’d knock the ball down and play the different games to a hundred points. If you caught the ball you got 25 in the air. After you hit it, you’d put the bat down. If you could roll it and hit with the bat you’d get ten. First one to fifty or something, then they were the batter. So, that’s pretty much the games. Marbles in school was big.
Winter activities was sleigh riding. It’s called Eck’s Hill. That’s two block up the street from where I live now. We would come off of that hill and coast all the way down to the old train station which was on Second West and not have to worry too much about cars. We could go pretty fast because it’s all down hill. It’s a long walk back. We’d put on the old skis with the strap on them and go up on the foothills here and ski.
The winter was a lot more winter. We had snow; many times we’d have to dig a path to go down to our barn from the house. A few times we made tunnels. The snow was so big that it would go over the top and we’d just tunnel it down. For the little kids it was great, for the parents it wasn’t a big deal. But it always covered our picket fence. The picket fence was four foot high. You could walk over the top, when it would crust. The winters, I don’t remember them any colder, but there was a lot more snow. It lasted longer too.
Grade school memories
We had an eight grade school over here. It was a single building. They built a gym on it just before I started in school. So we had a nice gymnasium and a single building with two stories. It was one through eighth grade. You pretty much knew all the kids here in the town because everybody would come to that school. No kindergarten. You’d start school at six and then go through eighth grade, and then go to South Cache which was the high school. The principal was Spencer Griffin who lived just across from my parents. Russell Johnson was the art teacher. Mrs. Ruth Olsen came from Logan, she was the music teacher. E.B. Maughan was the geography teacher; he lived out in the other ward. Diantha Hammond was the librarian. Then Mrs. Peterson, (Mary?) I think she came from Logan, she was the librarian, would get the books and teach us to read. There were some pretty good teachers.
We had a major play every year for the seventh and eight graders. We had a bell on the top of the second story. That was what we answered to to get to school in the morning. Then we were excused, there was no hot lunch, so we would go home or else bring your lunch depending on what you’d like to do. You had about an half hour to get your lunch and eat and then come back. And then the bell would ring to get you back in school. The big thing for the boys was to sneak in there and ring the bell at night and then get out of there without being caught. That was fun. I had fun in school. There were a lot of things to do. They kept you busy. They had the Junior Patrol. On the steps, when you got to be a seventh or eighth grader, you could get on that and that was to stop the kids from sliding down the banisters. “The Love Pirates of Hawaii” was the play we put on as an eight grader. I had one of the leading parts. Billy, was the one who took care of the pirates. He was the land leader. We had a fight with the pirates and took care of them. They had some leading ladies and we saved them a time or two. It was fun. Mrs. Olsen put that on. It was a musical. It was fun to do. (Mrs. Ruth Olsen was in charge of the musical.)
Athletic Scholarship in college
After high school I went to college. I had a (four year) full ride scholarship to go to Utah State to play football and basketball. I had a four year scholarship and played in college. I played basketball and football my freshman year and tennis. Then I quit football sophomore year and played basketball and tennis and then I played on the baseball club for two years. (I lettered three years in basketball and four years in tennis at Utah State.)
Courtship and marriage
I got married between my junior and senior year. At that time they had the draft. You either had to get into the ROTC, which was up at the college or they would draft you. So I got into the ROTC. I met my wife, (Deonne) in high school. She’s from Wellsville. We dated a little bit my senior year, then she went to BYU, but I went to Utah State. But she came back here and ran out of money to finish school down there and came back and got a job at the college. So then we got a little serious and between my junior and senior year, the ROTC had a six week summer camp at Fort Louis, Washington where all of the ROTC people went. So I went up there and when I got back from there we got married that September and finished out the college year. I had seven daughters, spaced out a little. We had fun raising them.
I remember when there was one ward here. It was all at the Old Rock Church. I was fairly young when they split and made the two wards and built the blue roofed church. It looked real nice, but we were glad to stay in the Old Rock Church here. Meetings at that time were separated throughout the week. You would have your Sunday school and Priesthood meeting and then you’d go for Sacrament meeting at night, come back at 5:00 or 6:00. It was all farmers and they all had land and cows to milk, so they had to milk their cows before they came back. They’d milk them in the morning. I think we started around 10:00 so they’d get the cows milked and start the meetings and have that too. Sunday school and Priesthood meeting and then take a break and come back at 6:00, I think, for sacrament meeting. I’m not sure of the time but it was late in the afternoon.
That Old Rock Church is quite something. They remodeled that once. They changed the front of it to the back and the back to the front. Then they added on the Relief Society room to it. They had the classrooms upstairs; it was a double story building and some of the classrooms downstairs and some up. They had a basement down where the furnace was. When it got crowded some people had to go down to the furnace room or downstairs for their classes. It’s changed a little now. They’ve added to it. We came out of the church and built this new one just east of my place here and that was the church then for the First Ward, and of course we’ve split numerous times since then.
Bishop Larry Zollinger was one of the first I remember. Then Jake (Jacob) Fuhriman was a bishop while I was growing up. Thair Allen was a bishop. I served with Ken Spuhler in the bishopric, he was the bishop. Jack Thompson was the one we went to see before getting married. He was the bishop at that time. It was some of the good ‘ole gentlemen of Providence who were bishops, with a lot of people here that lived as counselors. I know we had some General Authorities come visit but I don’t remember who they were. I know that Elder Tom Perry came back a number of times as I was getting older. He grew up in Logan and he would come back and talk here in the Stake conferences. There were others but I don’t remember who they were.
Pioneer Day celebration
The big celebration was the Pioneer Day type thing at Wellsville that’s carried on now. That was the Indians and the Settlers having a fight. That all started because of the book, “The Little White Indian Boy.” The Indians captured him over at Mendon and took him with the tribe. The local people tried to get him back. The Indians were up Dry Canyon which is the canyon over here just south of Logan Canyon. They went up and got him, they couldn’t find the little boy but they brought some Indians down. Just over here down on the corner was the tithing office. They brought them and tied them up there. It brought about the celebration. They told them they were going to hang them if they didn’t bring the little Indian boy back here. Finally they did, they told them where he was and found him and brought him back and didn’t hurt the Indians. That was the tithing office and then it turned into a home. (Emil Gessel.) That started the celebration. Friday night, the men would get their horses and their old wagons and go up Providence Canyon and stay over night. My dad (Arnold Christensen) was one of these with wagons. Then in the morning they’d come up and the Indians would chase them out of the canyon and then come down on the square over here. The pioneers would circle the wagons and the Indians would go around and around like you see in the stories. They’d shoot them. They’d have a house that the Indians would burn and they also had and Indian princess which my sister was one year. The settler would go and capture her and take her. Then they’d negotiate in the middle of the wagons and let them go. That was a big celebration. Then it was over to the Old Pavilion for the dance that night and the big dinner. That’s what started the sauerkraut tradition.
John K. Schiess
This was known as “Little Germany” because of the influence. My grandpa was one of the settlers that came in, John K. Schiess, my mother’s dad. He was in charge of that immigration they had. He would collect the money and they’d bring some in and they’d contribute and then they’d send it to relatives and this and that and the others would come in. He was in charge of that fund. He had the choir; he was one of the choir members, good singer. He moved in with us when his wife (Catherine) died and lived with us till he died which was about eight years that I remember. He had a room upstairs. He spoke a lot of German. Being a dummy, I didn’t learn any. He’d cuss us in German. I think the place is Herisau, Germany. He was out of Germany and migrated here and settle here and then lived with my mother and dad when his wife died.
We had all the German foods, sauerkraut being the big one with the German. We had “knee patches” which was a finely rolled cake material and it was real crumbly. It was a dessert and you’d eat it. Noodles and applesauce was another one that I liked. We made our own noodles. I helped my mom roll out the noodles. We’d make the dough and roll them out and cut them up and dry them and they were one of the staple for the winter. "Cooka" was another dessert. That was a bread dough with cinnamon on or apples or prunes or any fruit, just like you’d have doughnuts today. It was very good. My wife still makes some of that. My sister (Kathryn) is very good at making it. So when she comes down we have that.
With the animals, we’d kill the pigs in the fall. We always had two and we had to shoot them. As the boys got older, Dad would let them shoot the pig. Then they’d cut his throat and bleed it out. Then they built a rack that was about four feet high that you could stand on with a barrel of hot water. That was an all day procedure to get enough hot water to fill the 55-gallon barrel where you’d dunk the pigs in to scrape the hair off. My first football was a pig bladder. It was good for a couple of weeks. You’d blow it up and tie it and that was what we’d play football with. We didn’t have any real footballs. It was during the Depression so that was what we used. We always had two bladders in the fall to play football with. They’d dunk the pigs and scrape the hair. I’ve still got some of the tools for that. They’d hang them up and that was your winter meat. If you were lucky, you would get a quarter of beef. It was always the wild animals, the deer and the elk that me and my brothers would shoot, so we always had some meat.
The Pavilion was a meeting place. That and the church was a social place. They had plays throughout the year. There were a couple of sisters here in the ward (Ann and Ella Neddo) that wrote up plays and also got some plays. Jake Fuhriman was always a leader, he was a real actor. I remember after the celebration here on Saturday, Saturday night was the big affair, they’d have the dance. Mom would take us down for a little bit, they had the dinner, so we’d go down to eat the dinner and then if you could talk her into staying or just sneak back, you could sleep on the bench while they danced. By 12:00 they’d close them off. It was a big celebration, a big affair. That was the final place for that celebration. Throughout the year they had a number of plays in there. Quite a building.
German families in town
Rinderknechts is a name. We lived right across the street from them. Abersolds. Atkins was a name. Roth was another one. We made our own butter to trade or sell to some of the people up here in town. We’d deliver butter on Saturdays to them. We always had chickens and eggs. If they’d like some eggs, we’d sell them some eggs too. Krauss was another name that we dealt with. She had a nice pear tree and she would let us have the pears if we would bring her some eggs. Lived in an old rock house, not very big. Pheuti was another name that lived just down by our barn. Two old Germans and they had their cows. That’s some of their names.
I remember the quarry when I was growing up, we’d have to go through the quarry to go deer hunting. My brothers would take us up there deer hunting. We’d go up and camp for four or five days and hunt deer and then we’d have to bring them out through the quarry. There was a trail past the quarry and through Providence Canyon. We had two horses with a two wheel cart with all of our stuff and then the horses would pull our stuff up there and that’s where we’d go camping, but we’d go through the quarry. Then later I worked in the quarry, I spent two years driving truck out of there. The first year partly I was a “powder monkey” I guess they called. They’d dig the holes back into he cliffs and then you’d haul the powder in and then blow it up. I helped them haul the powder in and then you’d have to clear the road quite a ways because when they exploded those cliffs it had a lot of rock and it would fly a long way. The last job I did up there, Dick Campbell was the operator. I think he took over after Hoyt Kelly’s dad. His son, (Richard) I taught school with and we’d clean up with and we spent about a month hauling stuff around and cleaning up and getting ready with the quarry there. Those old trucks we drove out of the quarry were something. They were old Army trucks and you had to put them in gear and they’d have a wire or a leather thing to hold them in gear. If you didn’t put them in there it’d slip out, you’d go scooting down the canyon, the brakes weren’t really that good. There were a few wrecks. If you got going fast, you’d go up the side hill and try and slow down. There was a number of tip-overs. They’d take them down to the old sugar factory and they had the trains there that you would back in on and that’s called the tipple. You would drive up on it and the weight would tip and it would go down just a little bit so the rocks would come out of the truck. There was a few people who would put their trucks in the railroad cars because they didn’t stop them in time. They had to go lift them out with a big crane. I don’t know how people lived. They were dangerous. They drove them for years, hauled a lot of rock of the Providence quarry.
Grazing cows on Providence Lane
The neighbors, Rinderknecht had cows. They had pasture down at the end of Providence Lane, the road that goes from Logan to Hyrum. They had a pasture down there that was about two blocks past where it comes in. As we got older, it was our job to drive the cows down. If we would drive their cows, they’d let Dad’s cows go with them. We’d drive them down, and in the morning, go over and they’d get them after they milked. Take them and put them down there. What you try and do is not push them so they could eat the grass. Providences Lane was an old cement, very narrow cement roadway. The trees along the sides with the irrigation ditch on both sides, a lot of water, and grass would grow up. So you would graze them down and you’d go down about 4:00, 4:30 and get them out and graze them up. There were three herds that were driving the same time we would. You didn’t want to get them mixed. It was sometimes a little testy who was going to be first to bring their cows up because that was the best grazing. In the morning it was who got the cows milked first to start them. But you had to keep them separated so you’d keep them separated and wouldn’t go in the pastures. That was some of the first jobs.
Hauling hay inn the summer, the Rinderknechts had a lot of cows and horses so we’d haul hay on the old wagon. We grew up tromping the hay. It was loose and they’d throw it up on the dry farms and down here, the grass hay. You’d tromp it and then ride the dairy (derrick) horse to lift it up into the barns. If we did that then they’d loan us the wagon and we’d buy the hay from them and the horse and then we’d put it in our barn. As you got bigger you could maybe handle a fork and throw the hay up. At that time there was always blow snakes and some rattlers up at the dry farm. They’d get under the hay shock. The hay shock was a pile of hay that they did with a rake and get under there because it was cool. As you’d throw it up, once in a while you’d hook one and throw it up. The tromper up there, it was kind of scary once in a while to see a snake come flying up. You didn’t know whether a blow or a rattle snake, but most of them were big blow snakes. They’d just huff at you and if it was low enough you jumped off, if not you tried to get out of the way.
Farming jobs in high school
Then as you got bigger there was always beets: thin beets and hoe the beets and then top them in the fall, get them into the beet factory. They grew a lot of silage corn and also Del Monte corn. That was a crop that you’d have. In high school, in the spring, everybody was out of money and so they had the ditches, the two that came off the Blacksmith Fork and they would hire you to go and clean these ditches back so you’d get the water in. That was a little extra money in the spring and you’d always like to do that because then you could spend it while you were in high school. That was an interesting thing because the older guys would send the younger ones ahead to clean it up and they’d would more or less supervise and come behind you and play pranks while you dug holes. There was always a little water and you could dig the holes in the bottom of the ditch. And when they came along, they’d fall in them. That was a bad thing, but you did that and it kept them loose and they expected it. So that was the jobs in high school. After high school then I worked up the quarry and also for Johnson’s up the road doing construction work.
Coaching high school sports
I graduated in Secondary Education and I taught school for 35 years after that, and I was a coach. I coached about every sport. I started in St. Anthony, Idaho. I was up there four years and then I came back to the valley here and started at South Cache. When they consolidated, then South and North Cache went junior highs and Sky View started. So I went to Sky View and was a basketball coach there. I helped the football. In high school, at that time, you always coached three sports: fall, winter and spring. They only had two coaches to start with. As it got bigger you may get a third coach or a fourth coach. You always had three sports so I coached about everything.
I taught physical education and health up in Idaho. It was a little different situation. I taught history up there. You’re supposed to teach in the field that you graduated in but up there they didn’t have that many teachers so I taught everything up there except math. But down here it was weight lifting and health and then coached. Then I finished up as a counselor in middle school. Athletic directors started at Skyview and then when they built Mountain Crest I went out there as an athletic director. I was there five years and went into counseling and then finished at North Cache Middle School as a counselor. 35 years of teaching, education.
The experience I had with the Interurban Railroad, driving cows down there we’d flatten our pennies. We’d put them on the railroad track and then hide and then the train came by. My brothers rode it to school and I walked the tracks a number of times to go to picture shows but the train went out before I was big enough to ride it or use it. The older people would ride it to Logan or to high school but I never did. I just used it to mash pennies.
I remember, I don’t know what year it was, but the Model A drove up the street in front of our house and I looked at it and it was an old Model A Ford, black. That was the first car that I had ever seen. I bought a Mercury, a ’49 Mercury was my first car. Then I’ve had a number of Fords, bought from Wilson Motor in Logan. Dad never had a truck, I don’t know why he never bought a truck. I kept asking him but he couldn’t afford it I guess. They had one car for nine people. It was tough to go on a date. Even when I got old enough, there was just one car. They’d had a tough go, they didn’t have much money. I say, if we wanted to eat it, we had to grow it. We’ve gotten more affluent as we get older and so there is more money. I had a ’49 after high school; I bought that so I could go to college.
Electricity and plumbing
In our house, I don’t remember the electricity coming in because I always remember we had electric lights but we didn’t have plumbing. We had an outhouse that was about fifty yards from the house, down towards the barn. That’s what we’d use. Saturday night was bathing time and we’d bring up the old round tin tub. There was always five or six kids and so you’d boil the water and get it hot. The first ones, it was always pretty clean and the last one, it was a little colored, but it still worked. Mom always saved some clear water for the last one or two. You’d dump it out and that’s how we had our bath.
About 1946, Dad built a porch onto the house and built a bathroom. That was really great. We had a well before they got the water. It was just east of our house. My grandpa had a big lot. So when Uncle Jack came along and Mom, he split the lot and there’s two lots where that is. They had a well in between the homes. It was about thirty feet deep. It had a thing—a pulley on a bucket and a roof on top of it. We’d lower the bucket in and get the water out and dip in and that’s how we got the water. They brought the water in from the town and hooked up. We used that as our cesspool. Then Jack, my uncle decided to put a basement in his house. We had to move that because it was built right close to his foundation. We dug another hole out in the garden and used that for the sewer until they brought in the sewer system.
We did laundry by heating the water on the stove. We had an old scrub board. My daughter’s got the scrub board that Mom used to scrub the clothes. You had the old tub and then the washing machine came in. I remember she had a Twin Dexter washing machine. What a relief, I guess, that was for her to do that. That was two tubs with a ringer on top. They had the agitators in both of them. They would agitate it to get the water out. You’d take them out and run them through this ringer. You’d put them in the clean water and then when you took them out of there you’d run them through the ringer before you go outside and hang them up. The big clothes line was always full of clothes. You’d wash twice, three times a week with that many children. Quite a bit of dirty clothes. You didn’t wash as often.
The ironing was something else, with the old coal stove to heat the irons. They had the old flat irons, and they were dual purpose. We would wrap them up in the winter and take them up for our feet because it was pretty cold and that’s all the heat you had other than the stove down stairs. You could do that with bricks also. She had a handle that would hook onto them and that’s how they ironed.
On the side of the stove they had a compartment there that would warm water. It didn’t get it hot but it kept it warm. You used that a lot to start the washing with. You made sure that that reservoir was full of water and that would get warm as the fire would get hot. Cooking in those stoves, those people were tough. They were tough birds to do what they did to do all the cooking they had to in the stoves as hot as they were. In the winter it wasn’t bad but in the summer it had to be miserable to have a hot stove in the kitchen and the oven going. That’s how we lived.
We’d get ready for school by going to buy two pair of Levis and maybe a couple of shirts. You’d get a new pair of shoes each year. That was our clothes that we went to school with. When we were little we had long brown socks that Mom made us wear to stay warm. We had what they called a pantywaist. It was a thing that went around you that had garters on to hold the socks up. They were long. As you got older, it got embarrassing when you’d go to the PE to put on a pair of shorts and have to take those brown socks off. When you got old enough to hide them, you did that and took off your pantywaist. My sisters, I don’t remember them having more than two or three dresses. Mom made all the stuff for the girls. She couldn’t make the Levis. You’d get a coat, a good warm Levi coat. That’s what you had. Mom made the dresses for the girls but they’d of course buy the shoes. They even had to wear those long ugly socks.
We had the Theurer store. It’s not a store anymore but there’s different things in there. There was a barber shop on the north side of it. Across the street was the service station, that’s still there. The Post Office was right next to the service station. Across from there was Keith Watkins, it started as a confectionary. I don’t know if he started the confectionery but I remember going there. Then he started the printing in that store and then expanded it. That was the businesses here and every spring you’d go down and get a haircut. I remember Mom sending me down the first year I went myself and I told Ern Loosle, he was a barber, to cut it short and Mom went nuts when I got home. Today it’d be in style, but she didn’t want it that short. We marched back down and she gave him a piece of her mind. So next time I went down for a haircut, he cut it longer.
Theurer’s store, we’d take eggs down. I don’t know if it was two cents or one cent, to get our candy. Also when we were herding cows if we could find a pop bottle, they were worth two cents and three cents and we’d gather them up. That was another reason for going first down there herding your cows because you’d gather all the people’s bottles up and trade them up over there and get enough money. If you had enough of them you’d get a dollar or two. You’d always buy a little bit of candy and save it for things when you went to Logan. That’s what I remember about the store. They finally put a cold storage on it and we rented the cold storage unit to keep our meat frozen. I don’t know when they put it on, but when I came back here to live, they had it. It was just an old “mom and pop” kind of store. Everything you could think of, needle thread, some boots. It was quite a store. The blacksmith shop was down below Watkins. Farrell Pickett’s dad started that and he took it over. It was across from the service station on the south side of the street. I really didn’t have much to do with that. I knew it was there and they did a lot of horseshoeing and making things.
Major differences between then and now
It’s totally different. Down Second West where the railroad tracks came into town, there were no homes below that, nothing, it was all farm land. Everybody had gardens and irrigated. The water would come up down there, and it was swamps. A lot of homes are built on swamps. The first one on Providence Lane, they built that and there used to be a spring there and I used to drink out of that spring, driving cows down. They put the home in there and they had a swimming pool and they couldn’t figure out why. We told them, “Hey, it’s a spring here, there’s no question about it.” It’s been on and off and of course they’ve built more a lot more homes. All of this was cattails; all these new homes were cattails most of the time when you were irrigating here in town. As they stopped irrigating, the water level has gone down I’m sure, so they built the homes. Everybody had a big lot and a big garden and you didn’t have homes like you’ve got here. There was no home between me and the one on the corner, that was a garden. Where I’m living now was a barn, a great big barn back here. We’d haul hay up the lane here. His driveway was a lane that came in to the cattle in the barn.
Difference in community unity
You knew people. You knew about everybody that you grew up with. When they split the ward, then there were a lot that moved in over there but you knew everybody in church, you knew them by name. Today when you go to church, you’re not even sure about half of them. A lot of them are new who have moved in. So there’s no closeness like there used to be. If something happened, everybody was there to help. It wasn’t just a few friends, everybody showed up, the neighbor. And today you can go on and people will just watch and look. They don’t get to help unless you’re a close friend. It’s changed considerable from that. It was closer. Your background was very similar. Most of the people here were related someway through marriage, so that was a lot closer. Today it’s not.
I was with the athletics. They had a town team, it was called the “Providence Peaches” and it was fast pitch softball. We had some people down from College Ward, the Olsens, who would come up and play. It was a pretty good team. I remember going and watching it and they won a lot of ball games. Then it became commercialized and all the teams went to Logan. Then the Church came in with its church program and participated with the junior softball and then senior softball. And the slow pitch softball came about and the fast pitch softball went out the door. For many years there was no fast pitch around. We participated in that. I didn’t really belong to any group, it was just the Church sponsored groups that I belonged to. We had the scouts and senior scouts and the parties with the ward. It was the center of most of the activities.
Up above Providence where all those homes are was all orchards. The Baers had those and they produced all of the fruit for Logan. You could go up and pick the cherries and peaches and pears and the apples. They were beautiful orchards up there. Now all of them are homes. Everybody had a garden, they were big. The whole lot was a garden. I still have a garden, it’s too big for me but I still enjoy it.
I’ve got shares in both the Blacksmith Fork and the Spring Creek. The old home up there that I own, I bought that from my parents. It’s on the Spring Creek irrigation and they have their watering system and I’m on the Blacksmith Fork here. I still flood irrigate the pastures. There are no gardens up there anymore, it’s all pasture for my horses. My daughter (Janeece) lives in the house. I flood irrigate up there and then I irrigate here but it’s with the rows, not flood. Flood irrigation is where you cut a hole in the ditch and put it over the whole pasture or whatever you’re trying to irrigate. Whereas in a garden, you’ve got to have rows. If you have corn, it’s all rows, but hay, peas, grass is flood irrigated. You build a ditch here and a ditch there to head it the way you want and flood the whole thing. It takes longer than it takes with the rows. We’ve got sprinklers today. We had more water then. We had to because there were a lot more people using it and we had bigger streams. You could water the allotment of land you had with that water most of the time, unless it was a real dry year then you had problems.
Pea and corn harvesting, Pea vinery
Peas was a cash crop. We had the vinery down here. (At the top of Providence Lane.) When we were little, the first part of July was when they harvested their peas. They’d throw them on a wagon. That was another thing you’d go out and help them, but it was early morning work. They’d just cut the amount they’d haul that day and then you’d throw them on. You’d start about 5:00 in the morning, just when it was getting light enough to see, you’d go out and then get them down to the vinery and get them down while they were fresh. As little kids, we’d wait for the wagon to come by and sneak in behind and pull the peas off. They’d holler at you and you’d take them and eat them and you’d wait for the next wagon. Then when you got older you got to drive them down and you’d do the same. The pea vinery down there was quite a place. They’d shell the peas and put the vines in the half stack of the vine and it stunk, it wasn’t good smelling. Then the farmers would go back and get the feed in the winter which was real good feed for the cows. It was fermented somewhat but very good feed. Same thing with the corn. When Del Monte did the corn, they’d go out with the huskers and bring in the corn and they’d throw the cobs out there and the husks and everything and it was very good feed for the animals. Halloween, that was a good hiding place. If you were naughty you’d go down there and you could throw stuff at them and you could run up there and they couldn’t find you. They’d get the flashlights and look, “I know you’re up there.” That was quite a place. It was dangerous but quite a place. Big old pea vinery.
In the winter, up above here the dry farm area, we had some hills. We had twin hills that came down into a gully, and that’s where we skied. If you were brave enough you’d go over the face of one of the hills. You had to be old and a pretty good skier to make it down. We’d come down to the house that was built up there and walk up. The skis we had were (thin inch boards with) just a strap, (for your feet) that’s what we skied on. You generally bought the ski and if you needed a strap, you’d cut the strap out of leather and put it in. I’m sure the first people made them, but I never made them. My brothers bought some and I’ve still got some. (Later, my brother Arnie, bought me skis with boots and binders to use on Twin Hills.)
My aunt (Lilly) lived with us for a while, and we’d go on an Easter egg roll and we’d go up on “Easter Knoll,” we called it, which was another hill up there, and roll the eggs down, what they do over at the college hill now. It was always a hike up there and there’s caves or mines up there that Rigby, an old gentleman lived that went up and was mining. We’d go up to those caves and go into the caves, and when you were little you were scared of snakes, but the caves were there. In the Scouts, we (would hike up to) what they called “Chimney Rock.” You can see it, (today.) There’s a place that goes up and there’s a point that looks like it goes back down. The rock stuck up about eight or ten feet in the air. That was one of our hikes as scouts, to go up there. It was a pretty good climb to get up there. We’d keep ourselves busy, climbing the mountains (up Elbow Ridge to get to Little Baldy.)
I know that polygamists lived here in town. I heard the stories my mom told about the Feds coming in and them slipping out. Our family was not. There were neighbors that did. The men would go up to Star Valley Wyoming, (to escape the Federal agents) that was the two connecting points between the valley here and Star Valley. The polygamists would escape and go up there and come back when it was safe. Or else, they’d take a wife or two up there and they had homes up there in Star Valley. I had relatives up there and we’d go up and see them once or twice a summer. Whether they were polygamists, I don’t know. But I know we had relatives up there and I know we had polygamy in Providence.
LaDessa Club and Lions Club
The LaDessa club always had a fashion show in the spring. That was a big thing here in town. It included all of the town, and they had a big fashion show. I remember my youngest sister, she’s older than we but she was the youngest of the two, would dress up. Some of our daughters participated in other fashion shows. The mothers would make the clothing and put it on the kids and maybe buy the hat but it was clothing the mothers made. Later on, I’m sure they started buying the stuff. Like we always do, it’s easier to go to the store than it is the sewing machine. The Lions Club sponsored that softball team we had here in town. Wendell Hansen, the guy that was a pitcher, he had some orchards up there and that’s why it got its name as the “Providence Peaches.”
My mom and Mrs. Minnie Leonhardt were in charge of making sauerkraut to start with. I still make it today, I make sauerkraut every year and we can it and use it. As the ward split, each ward had their bazaar, which was the sauerkraut dinner and that was turkeys and sauerkraut and all the things that went with them. The Health Department came in and did away with that. So now the town has the Sauerkraut Days with the parade and all that. That started two years ago. I make sauerkraut today. I learned from my mom. You get the cabbage, you hope to get good solid heads of cabbage. I’ve got the shedder, the old one we used. You put the heads in and do them over a tub or a barrel and shred it. You’d shred so much and take a handful of salt. It had to be straight salt, not iodized and sprinkle it in them. And when you’d get it, you’d tromp it. I’ve got some trompers in the old tubs up there when we stopped doing that. We’d tromp it so it got to be solid. As you filled it to where you wanted, you’d hope the liquid saltwater would come up above it. Then you’d put a press on it and hold it down so the air couldn’t get in with the water. The big rocks, or whatever the weight was on top of it, would compress it. Let it fester for six weeks or whatever time. You’d taste it and you’d just tell by taste. It wasn’t a time period. If it was hotter, it would cure faster. You’d taste it and when you got it to the taste you wanted, you’d can it. I still do that today. I make it and put it in a little shed out here. It stinks but I don’t mind it. Most of my family will eat it. They still like sauerkraut. When the ward would do it, we’d generally have fifteen of those big wood barrels, those 55-gallon barrel full of sauerkraut. You’d sell it at the bazaar and make money. You made a lot of money. A lot of people came from around, because they had some ancestry over there, and they’d buy it. It was generally a morning process. The men would get together and shred it. They finally got an electric shedder that had four cutting places on it so you could cut a lot faster and put the big tubs underneath and get it and pour it in there, had the trompers. Put it in the barn or the chicken coop or something for it to age. We’d load it out and take it up to the cannery and can it. It was quite a process but we made pretty good money.
German respect for animals
My grandpa was in charge of the money for the town for getting the other German families over here. He had a title. He was an old German. In Germany they housed the animals underneath their house and the warmth of the animals helped warm the house. We didn’t have it here, but he really taught Dad and all the other kids respect for animals, you didn’t abuse them. I remember getting up in the barn once and tromping around on the hay when I shouldn’t have been and he caught me and boy he scolded me. He said, “You don’t want people tromping on your food. You don’t tromp on the cows’ food.” It made sense, I had to agree with him. You wanted them to have something decent to eat. He had a lot of respect for animals and I learned that from him and from my dad.
About everybody had animals, but we didn’t ever have a horse. The neighbors all had horses and that was one of the things you did, you’d ride horses. Spencer Griffin’s boy (Spencer Dee) was the same age I was and he had a Shetland pony. Every once in a while he’d take us to herd the cows down and I’d ride with him and bring the cows back. There was always a horse race out there, we’d call it the Field Road, it now goes from here out there two blocks up to River Heights, and it was dirt. About every Saturday, Mead Sterling had the fastest horse I remember, everybody wanted to challenge him. We’d have the horse race up there and if you wanted to put a little money down. There was a few horse races.
In the wintertime you had the bobsleds. People had the two horses and the bobsleds and you’d go out in the roads. You could shine them pretty good, it’s called “hooky bobbing” if you’d get on the back and hold, they’d swing you out there a long ways. Later on I bought a horse and gave the kids sleigh rides. I’d hook the rope on and put on a saddle horn. We’d go riding around there. With the streets today, the cops pick you up if you’ve got a sleigh behind anything. They don’t tolerate that and maybe rightfully so. It’s still fun for the kids to get behind something and ride. I’ve pulled them with a truck some winters back, I haven’t done it lately. Breaking the law I guess, but it’s still kind of fun.
Award in the Utah Hall of Fame in coaching
With athletics I was into that all my life with my brothers. We followed each other through school and participated there. We were pretty good athletes. I just got an award in the Hall of Fame for the State of Utah as a coach. I was a coach for many years here in the valley and I got nominated and made the Hall of Fame. That was about four weeks ago. It was quite an honor for me.
It was fun. It was a good town to grow up in. Crime was very low and you never locked your house, never locked a car. You picked people up and gave them rides. And to