Date: 16 November 2005 Tape Number: PCOH 2005 ARG-03
Location: Logan, UT Interviewee(s): Hoyt Kelley
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 word for word transcription with questions included. Hoyt Kelley lives at 67 N. Main, Logan, Utah. Tape numbering (Log #) is continuous from side A to B.
When and where were you born?
I was born in Thatcher, Utah, west of Tremonton and then my family moved to Providence when I was about six months old in 1923. My father took over the limestone quarry which had previously been owned by a group of people in town that hadn’t apparently done a very good job in sorting the rock. So the Amalgamated Sugar Company moved in and jumped their claims and then sent my dad in to run the quarry. It was sometimes a fairly hostile environment, sometimes very friendly.
How did your dad get involved in the quarry business?
My dad had been in construction and a mason and he was born in Pennsylvania and I think all of this family were in the foundry business which was limestone and coke, coke is a product they used in blacksmith shops and everything like that. It’s a product of limestone and coal. He was quite experienced in mining and that kind of stuff.
What was it like at the quarry?
We moved to Providence when I was six months old. We lived at the quarry for several years when I was about eight years old to twelve or something in that range. It was beautiful up that time. There were five waterfalls that came into the valley that you could see from anywhere. We piped water from one of them down to our camp. We had a camp that had a large kitchen and dining room where we fed the men that worked as a crew up there. Each bunkhouse held about twelve men in it, so there were about twenty four men that lived there during the summer. Below that, down wind, so we could get rid of the flies, were the mules and the horses. We had our cabin that we lived in. There was a bunk house below it and a bunk house above it. I presume that my father had something to do with it, but it was probably built by the Amalgamated Sugar Company, there were the big ones that were back at the quarry. All the limestone from Providence quarry went to the sugar companies. Those days they had them in almost every city Logan, Smithfield, Lewiston, Preston all had sugar factories. And Garland over in Tremonton, and then all up through Idaho. Just about any town of any size had a sugar factory. The lime goes into the sugar factories and mixed in a Stephens process which is big spinning vats and it turns brown sugar into white sugar. Before that when they didn’t have the limestone, they used bluing like women used in their wash to make the sugar white.
What was the season like at the quarry?
You couldn’t get up there during the winter. Normally we would go up and try to clear the road up into the quarry the 1st of May to May 15th, something like that. Then we’d get snowed out towards October every year. It was a fairly short run. A lot of the men that worked in the quarry would work in the sugar factories because the beet harvest for the sugar beets was usually in October. The sugar factories would have huge piles of beets, mountains of beets and also mountains of limestone. They then worked through the winter till they got all of it used up which probably went in to February or March. So it wasn’t full time work for the men.
What were the shifts like?
The sugar factories worked on twelve hour shifts. They had just two shifts a day. At the quarry we had two, eight hour shifts normally starting at four in the morning till twelve and then from twelve until eight o’clock at night.
What was your father’s involvement at the quarry?
My father was the foreman, he managed the quarry, hired and fired and ran the operation. A couple of the years he worked in the sugar factory during the winter and other years he was a mason, so quite often we put foundations underneath a lot of the old homes in Providence, jacked them up, put a foundation under them. A lot of them were put on brick and rock and they were crumbling.
What did you do at the quarry?
I worked in the quarry. As a young person I lived up there, I was too young then, but as soon as I got to be about fifteen I worked in the quarry and we broke rock with a fourteen pound sledgehammer and worked ten hours a day. We could make five dollars a day by doing that but it was awfully hard work. You had to break the rock into five and a half inch pieces so it would burn evenly in the kilns. Then you had to lay it in the truck. Other people in those days were making twenty-seven and a half cents an hour, and we could make fifty cents an hour if we worked that hard. It was hard work but it was fair. Once the got what we called the Grizzly in, which was the rock crusher, then you worked on that, dropping rock into the rock crusher and it crushed the rock, separated the rock.
What sort of equipment was used?
Originally when I was a kid it was all wagons. They had mules working in the quarries with Fresno scrapers to scrape out the sandstone and that. But the rock was all hauled down the valley in the big, large wagons. Usually four horses, sometimes two horses. They could haul about fourteen tons rock out of there per wagon. They killed some horses too, the wagons would get loose and it was very steep. They had brakes on the wagons, they used hard wood for brakes, big brake blocks and they tightened them against the wheels. So when they’d start down the canyon, the brakes would squeal all the way down. It would just really echo back and forth through the canyon. Sometimes in the winter when it got a little bit of snow then it became a real problem, then they would tie a big rock on the back and drag it down to keep it from going too fast. They hauled the rock down to Providence down on 2nd West and 3rd South. They had a railroad team in there with a tipple there. There were originally wagons pulled up alongside the railroad cars, they called them gondolas, the one that held the rock. They would unload the rock into the railroad cars. Later when we had trucks, then you just backed the truck up on the tipple and dump it in. That was the little Bamberger line. They used it for many, many years. The last few years of the quarry they used to take it down by the sugar factory and they used to have the same thing set up, but it was there, it was with the Oregon Shortline, bigger railroad.
How long were you involved with the quarry?
They closed it about 1985, something like that. I was involved with it from the time I was born until I went in the service in 1942. My father was involved from then on with it. We had four boys. The oldest was Keith Barkle, he was my uncle, but he lived with us from the time he was ten years old. Two of us were in the army; two of us were in the navy. The fellow that was working with my dad from Denver on the quarry wanted to get out of it because of health, wanted my dad to take it over. Frank Narberg. He worked with my dad on the quarry. Some of them they were partners in, some of them my dad was the lead. They had a number of quarries. My dad was sixty-five then and he called us kids, or wrote to us, any of wanted the quarry, and none of us wanted to be involved in it at all. So, the Amalgamated Sugar Company asked him if he had anybody he could put in there and Dad said there’s LeGrand Johnson over here, he’s a small guy, he’s got a gravel pit and a dump truck. And they said “well, we’ll let him do it provided you stay on the job,” so my dad signed an agreement that he would stay on virtually though his life, and he did. He died when he was eight-five so he had been there for a number of years. But my dad stayed there to make sure that they got the right kind of rock because LeGrand knew nothing about limestone. They would have got as much sandstone with him as they got limestone with dad. My dad was there for a long time. My dad was a mason before that. He was a mason foreman on the Dee hospital in Ogden, he built that. And he bought the Ford Motor Company deal in Tremonton and the Amalgamated Sugar Factory, he worked on those as a mason, so he was pretty skilled at concrete work.
What was the limestone used for?
Cement is a product of limestone and limestone is a necessary part of plaster. They use limestone for whitewashing. Those days everybody whitewashed their fences and their barns, sometimes their houses, but whitewash was used in the chicken coops to get rid of insects, it was a purifier in many ways. Later they had things like calcimine and plaster, things that took over, but there was still limestone product.
Originally they used mule power, horse power. They had Fresno scrapers which was what built most of the irrigation canals in Cache Valley, the early pioneers. They’re just a scraper that goes along, digs into the ground and then they flip it over and it dumps. They’re pulled by usually two horses and they used it to move the rock around. They had what they called stone boats which are just a big flat boar and they loaded the bad rock, like the sandstone and took it over the hill and dumped it over the hill. That was by and large their equipment. They used the horses and wagons to get it down to the bottom.
How did you get the limestone out?
It was all blasted. Blasting was a very set deal at that time. Those cliffs are 100/200 feet high and they’re big cliffs. And you’ll go down a ways maybe twenty or thirty feet and you’ll have layer of sandstone, then another twenty or thirty feet of good limestone. They would start at the top and drill down twenty feet and then you’d drop a half a stick of dynamite in it which makes a little hole and then you’d use up to five stick of dynamite to make bigger hole. They call that springing. When you get up to that point, then you’d load it with up to twenty to forty cans of black powder and then you’d have a stick of dynamite that was on a fuse down there. We had electrical fuses down there when you get that deep, a battery operated deal with a battery that you’d punch. Then that brings down the whole hillside, it’s pretty big. They would do that probably four or five times a year. Some of the boulders that would come down into the bottom where you could work with them, some of them would be bigger than a car, the size of a couple of cars. Then they did what they called, jack holing and you’d have a drill with a four to six foot bit on it which you’d drill in on it to the center of the rock. The fellows would prime all those rocks with dynamite and then they would get on a deal and then light as many as they could and then head out over the hill. If any of them would have ever tripped, they would have been in big trouble. Usually they were set for about five minutes. About all of them would go off together; of course you would always worry about any of the ones that don’t go off, if there were any duds, they would be a problem because you couldn’t drill into the rock again, afraid of hitting the dynamite.
Were there any accidents?
There were people killed at the quarry, it was rough. I’m not sure, but I know of two when I lived up at the quarry. One was a fellow named Bud Kendrick, who’s from the Kendrick family in Providence there. The other one was a Naylor boy who shouldn’t have been up at the quarry. They were not supposed to bring children in the quarry, and his father brought him and a neighbor girl up, let them ride up in the wagon and then they stayed down below the quarry and weren’t aware that there was going to be a blast. When the blast went off they got frightened and the boy took off running and he tripped over sagebrush and hit his head on a stone and broke his neck. I remember him going out because he was foaming at the mouth and he looked real bad. He didn’t live to get out of the canyon. Bud Kendrick was just a dumb thing, he was just a young guy and he went out to see the blast, he wanted to see what it looked like and a rock went through his heart. He lived for a few hours and they got him down to the hospital in Logan and he died. The other one was little after that and two fellows from Providence got blown off a cliff, they were both doing blasting. That was Ray Majors, that was my uncle, my mother’s only brother and Walt Liechty who has lived for many years and died just a couple of years ago. They came down with the rock and they were just broken to pieces. Ray only lived a few years after that and left his wife and six kids. He was my mother’s younger brother by a few years. So it’s dangerous work. Chris Stirland fell under the wagon one time coming down and cut off one of his legs. There were a lot of accidents like that. It is that kind of work.
What was the economic impact of the quarry?
It had a great economic impact. It probably made Providence different than any other city in the valley for that reason. There were at times a hundred wagons going up the quarry and bringing down rock. When I was a kid, their quota for that year was 90,000 tons of rock. I think that made it the largest limestone quarry in the world. Most limestone quarries are for the purpose of making plaster and cement, they’re not for the sugar factories. The fellows in town would either own the horses or they would rent the horses from some of the farmers. Norm Stauffer told me once they paid $3.50 a day to rent the horses. That got them the horse and the wagon. They were owned by the farmers. How much they made hauling the rock down, I don’t know but they must have made that much hauling the rock down. Normally the wagon would leave Providence and they’d leave two to four o’clock in the morning. They all wanted to get the best rock and the smallest rocks so they didn’t have to break more than they had to. Then normally they would have their wagon which would hold fourteen ton of rock. They’d have it loaded and be on their way down at noon. And it would take them another two hours to get it down and unloaded. Then the poor horses had to go to work for the farmers and they’d work all day for the farmers. They had some of the most beautiful horses in those days. They paid like $400 for a team of horses. They were just huge draft animals. Farmers, everybody who owned them just prided themselves on those horses. When I was about twelve years old they had the encephalitis that came through the area here and killed most of the horses, very few of them survived. They got a brain fever and went crazy; once they got down on the ground they were gone. And they lost all those beautiful horses. Some of the farmers tried to make saddles under their stomach to hold them up, thought that maybe they could save them if they could do that. It was terrible. About that time there were trucks that were coming in to haul the rock. The first trucks we had were little Ford trucks, about 1936 I’d guess, somewhere about then. Truck couldn’t haul as much, trucks could only haul five tons but they could make several trips a day, so it changed things drastically. Providence had two blacksmiths. One on Center Street and one out south of town and both of them were very busy, because in the winter they would make the wagons and do that kind of work and in the summer they were shoeing horses and making wheels and keeping all those wagons going. It was quite an industry. They were there all winter long. I remember going in the winter and I remember all the old guys would be sitting around, smoking and chewing, watching the blacksmith do his work. It was just kind of a place where the town could get together, social club kind of.
What were your memories of living up there as a child?
It was beautiful in those days. There were bears; there was a bear over the hill that had two cubs. We used to sneak over the hill and lay on our stomachs and watch the bears. There were a lot of wild animals there, a lot of wild flowers. It was a pretty area in there. The campsite where we lived is now covered, there’s a pile of debris they put out there, so nobody will see it again. It’s a shame it’s that way. We lived in the mountains, we hiked in the mountains, we just loved it. It was a great place for kids. My mother sometimes had help, she sometimes did it herself, but she cooked for the men who lived up there., which meant giving them breakfast and dinner and making a lunch for them to take with them. Everybody carried a lunch bucket in those days which had a thermos in it and several sandwiches because they eat a lot, they’re hungry. She cooked for the men. It was nice as a kid. The men were mostly town people but there were other that were there. A few of them were ex-convicts that knew how to break rock. It was kind of a rough crowd in many ways, but those days they didn’t have radios or TVs so they sang songs and they told a lot of stories and I guess they went to bed early at night because they worked very hard during the day. They’d leave the quarry and they’d walk down to the camp and wash up and get ready for dinner and that was a bout it. It was a different kind of life.
Were there any festivities up at the quarry?
Once a year my dad would have an open house for all the town people to come up. Many of the farmers and people would load their wagons up and bring their wife and their friends and they would all come up there and have a big dinner. We would decorate the dining room hall as kids we’d go out and get pine cones and pine fronds, we’d get it all decorated, that was part of our job. I probably washed more dished than any kid that you met but that was part of the life we had up there. As soon as we had the dinner, the women would always help clean up and the men would go outside and sing. They’d sing all the old songs, “Carry Me Back to Old Virginia” and those old ones. There were a lot of them that were very popular in those days.
Were there any ghost stories?
One experience, when our dog fell under the wagon and was killed and we got up and thought we saw a ghost. There wasn’t a lot of that up there. It was pretty much down to earth.
What was your family life like?
We lived different. My mother’s father was killed and then her mother married again and had five children, that’s the Barkle families that live in Providence. So, she ended up raising her brothers and sisters, she was the most active of the seven so she took over the family. So she knew how to handle boys so with us boys she knew how to operate. One of the things that is funny about her, which didn’t seem funny at the time, we lived in this cabin near the quarry and my mother told us two or three times to pick up our clothes which we were apparently like most kids and didn’t. So when we went to get our clothes next time they were all nailed to the floor. We had to find crow bar or hammer, we had to work and get all of our clothes up off the floor. Even to this day, my clothes never touch the floor; I would never let my clothes get to the floor. That was the way my mother was. My father was a prize fighter before he came to Utah, traveled the country fighting. So, his answer to most of the problems we had as kids when we had and argument, he got boxing gloves and we just went out and settled it. That was all there was to it. And it worked good for us. He didn’t allow us to argue at all. He had a fairly unhappy childhood, so we had to have a happy family I don’t ever remember having an argument at the dinner table. That wasn’t allowed. I don’t ever remember arguing with one of my brothers who got to use the family car on a date. We flipped a coin, that was just the way we settled it. Made sense to us. So, it was nice in that way. My father was non-Mormon and he joined the church when I was a teenager and he and Joe Keefe were the only 2 non-Mormons in town. Joe Keefe was married to a sister of Rudger Clawson who was one of the leaders in the church, but he didn’t want anything to do with it. He always claimed he didn’t live in Providence, he lived on Millville Road, he lived in 2nd West and 2nd South. They were characters.
What did your father do in the community?
My father managed the ward bazaar which financed the ward every year and their budget usually was a thousand dollars which was a lot of money in those days. He was chairman of that for a number of years when he wasn’t a member of the Church. Farmers would bring in their cattle, they’d bring in potatoes, women would make dresses. My father was an interesting person. He was a little redheaded Irishman, five foot seven and a half. Very active and always happy and could light up the place. When we were kids, one of the funny parts of the bazaar, they would always have a lot of women and children’s clothes. Dave Theurer was an old bachelor lived on 1st North and Main Street in that brick home. Dave had money, he was considered one of the more wealthy fellows in town, he owned a lot of land. He and my dad would always bid on all these girls’ clothes and everybody got a big kick out of it because Dave was a bachelor and my dad had boys, he didn’t have any girls. We always thought it was funny. I never knew what happened to the clothes. Then one time when I got older, maybe I was 11, I came home one night and Mother and Dad were sorting all the clothes into different boxes. Then the boxes disappeared. Then a year or two later I started recognizing some of the clothes on the girls who came to class. There were a lot of poor people who lived up on the hills in Providence, not the rich people who live up there now but the poor people lived there then because it was rocky and they didn’t have much water. It’s changed. My dad would do things like that and nobody would ever know about it. When the Depression came, my dad had a quarry out in Moore Nevada; we were living out there in the summer. It just got so bad that he lost just about everything he had. He had like two hundred people working for him in the different quarries and he just kept them on and on even when they didn’t have work. We never had it bad, but they weren’t good times. We lived down where Art Hammond home is there north of town and my dad would always believe in pride. People had to have pride. The fellows would come by every day looking for food, “Can I do some work, I’ll get some food.” My dad had a ditch out front of the house that he’s dug as a little irrigation ditch. The guys would come and say, “Can I have some food, what work can I do for you?” Dad would say, “Well, I’ve been waiting to cover that ditch up for a week and I haven’t gotten around to it. If you want to cover that ditch up we’ll have some food ready for you.” They’d bring out the food on the porch and they’d usually bring out the food. The next guy would come along and Dad would say, “Well, I’ve been wanting to dig a ditch out there for a while. Let me show you where it is. You dig that ditch,” and that damn ditch was covered up every day for a long time. The guys would have pride that way. They were begging for money. My dad would never want anybody to beg for anything. It was testy during those days because the men would come and they needed a job for their family. And in those days, the guys with the most kids got the job usually and the bachelors were the last to be hired. Today you couldn’t do that under the federal laws, but those days that was kind of the way it worked. He had three quarries in Idaho and one in Montana and the one out in Moore Nevada in addition to the one in Providence. A lot of the men from Providence would leave in the spring to work the quarries and they’d come back in the fall. It’s kind of what they call open pit mining as opposed to when you dig a hole in the ground.
What made Providence rock so desirable?
Providence quarry was great rock. One of the reasons it was so great was that it wasn’t so pure as a lot of them so when the limestone burned it burned absolutely pure it was just like a piece of white calcium when it burned. The sugar factory, they didn’t want anything that didn’t burn clean. Some of his quarries up in Idaho, one up by Burley Idaho had a marble quarry up on the top of the hill, limestone halfway down and then they had a calcoid quarry down at the bottom they ground up for chicken feed. They had all stages of limestone in its development. None of them were as good as Providence.
Why did the quarry close?
It closed by and large because there were no sugar factories in the area anymore. There were two in Idaho that I know of. Hemotoid and White Fly were the diseases that got into the sugar beets here and just basically wiped them out in the area. When they were really struggling to keep going, the Moses Lake there up in Oregon opened up there at the Grand Coulee Dam and opened up all that area. A lot of it went up there, in fact most of it. There’s a sugar factory that operates up in Sugar City Idaho by Rexburg. And then there’s one over by the west side over by Boise that’s operating. It’s just a long haul. I don’t think any of the quarries he had are operating to this day.
What was it like growing up in Providence?
I was an outsider looking in Providence. Although, my mother is old Mormon. Her ancestors came across the plains and they are as much Mormon as anybody could be. When I moved to Providence, I was six months old so I was always a foreigner. There were certain families in Providence that pretty much controlled things. I remember as a kid, my brother and I, he was older than me, we were pretty good athletes. We did pretty well in high school football and everything. We would go down for the baseball team in Providence and we would work out with everybody and we would practice, but come the game we would sit out on the whole deal, we’d never get a chance to play. Eventually we found out that was the way it was supposed to be. There was quite a lot of that in there. I was set on the City Council in Providence and somebody would come in and want a building permit and they’d say, “well now who are they related to in Providence?” I’d say, “what difference does that make?” It’s a small town. It isn’t as small as it used to be and that’s nice. But when I was there, all the time we had two wards. One at the north end of town and one at the south end of town and they pretty much fought against each other.
What are some special memories you have of Providence?
They had the little Bamberger train that people took into Logan. It’s too bad it still isn’t there. It’s a great asset that they lost. But during WWII there was enough business to keep it going. We rode the train all the time to school to South Cache and Hyrum. Bamberger on to Lagoon. Every year your ward would have a day at Lagoon and everybody from the ward would pile on the train and go to Lagoon. It’s sad that they don’t have it. Those right of ways were sold and taken over by the farmers and they never established them again. Bamberger owned the line, they went from Salt Lake to Preston and they hit all the little towns. It was a money maker for them. It hauled all the beets to the sugar factory and originally all the rock to the sugar factory. And all the people that wanted to go anywhere went that way too. It was a great little asset to have, but apparently when they started to use the other railway more it was a bigger railroad and it had bigger cars and so on and then automobiles came in and buses and just didn’t make it as practice. It probably didn’t keep it up to date as well as they should have. You could get on that thing and go to Salt Lake. You’d have half a day doing it. It’s too bad they lose things like that.
What was your dad’s relationship to Henry Theurer?
When we moved to town the Theurer store was there. I think they called it the red and white store, but it was owned by Henry Theurer. He married the Lowe girl, originally Low was the one that ran the church grocery store, The Church owned that and Low would run that and Low turned it over to his daughter. Henry Theurer was the political boss of Providence and he thought he was and he was in most ways. He was one of the owners at the quarry along with the Hammonds and the Mathews and a few others. He was not happy about my father coming to town at all. My father came in to town and he was called in to meet Henry Theurer and he went in to meet him and said “here’s the way you do, I have a scale out in front, everybody who hauls rock has to have their rock weighed on my scales.” My dad said “Well, I’m not going to have these guys go out of the way after they’ve come down after a hard days work just to use your scale. We have the one down by the railroad.” Finally Henry told my dad that he had to bring all the checks in there. Nobody who gets paid had to bring the checks in and he could deduct what he had coming to him and then they got what was left. So what they really had was Hen was running the town like a plantation. That wasn’t that unusual those days, but that just upset my father greatly. He just refused to have him do it. My dad was a fighter and he would take him on, that was his business. He had many scrapes with him originally and they apparently got the Federal in and told them that they had a distillery up at the quarry and they were making booze up there and got federal agents coming, tromping up and down the hills and never found anything. It was a very vindictive deal and some of the Matthews were very upset about it. Amalgamated came in and jumped the claims. These guys were sending them off to the sugar factories that had mostly sandstone, stuff that they couldn’t use they were supposed to break it up into five and a half inch pieces and they were loading with the things with great big rocks on top to try to fool people. So, they felt they lost an asset and they probably did. My dad had nothing to do with it. I don’t know if he was even aware of the problem, I don’t doubt it. My dad was a different kind of person, he was never vindictive about anything. I think my mother was more vindictive than he was.
How did the Depression affect life in Providence?
Dad, during the Depression, found out that the government would furnish the labor from the WPA for putting in sidewalks. All the people that owned the property had to furnish the gravel and sand. Dad went all over Providence getting the people that could to put up a few dollars that they had to get their sidewalk put in and the WPA came in and furnished all the labor. He originally organized a civic club there. Got Joe Smith to donate the trees for Providence. The only reason Providence has so many trees is that they planted so many trees throughout the town. He did a lot of things like that which he never took credit for and never wanted credit for. He’s not that kind of a person. Eventually the people got to know my dad. He was the Justice of the Peace or judge there for the last years of his life. Everybody loved him. Hen Theurer got to the point in his old age he used to come out and talk to my dad. Eventually it worked out.
Wasn’t an easy town for me to grow up in as a kid. We had to fight our way in and fight out way out. I lived in Smithfield for a year and we had to do the same thing up there. We had to lick all the kids in town and then they’re your friends. They’re your best friends.
What was school like?
The principal of the school was Ethan Allen and everybody called him “Bandy” Allen because he was a little bandy of a rooster type person. He was feisty and tough as nails. I don’t think he was five foot four, very little man. I was a big kid. I was six foot tall when I was thirteen years old. I was in the 7th grade of school and I remember one time I got in trouble with him. In those days you did stupid things. We locked him in the supply room. He came out and he was really mad. And he said, “You see this stick here” and he had a switch, there were about five people and he said “I’m gonna chase you across that field and I’m going to hit you every time I catch up with you and you can chase me back and hit me every time you come.” Well I laughed, I thought this is funny, here’s this little guy and I’m a foot taller than he was and I swear to hell he just about beat me to death. He was probably fifty years old. He outran me and beat me all the way. Coming back and I didn’t even get close to him. He was quite a guy. He was the anti –Theurer. He and Theurer were always feuding and Hen finally got rid of him. He finally got the school board to replace him and send him somewhere else. He was a great educator for his time. My dad loved him, my dad thought he was a great guy. He was from the old school. He told you once to do something and then he’d come in swinging. You do have experiences with people like that.
What did you do as kids around town?
We used to have the Theurer store, then there was the post office next to it and then the barber shop next to it. The barber shop was run by Clawson. She was an old gal, she had a couple of daughters but I think she was divorced or widowed or something. When we were little kids going to school there, maybe eleven or twelve, we used to be about frozen to death because at about that time we were living about halfway between River Heights and Providence and we tried to get into the post office to warm up. She had a counter in there and if you could sneak in low you could set in there and get warm and she didn’t see you. And she usually would and she would scream at us. We had to get out and she wouldn’t have us tracking up. I suppose the postmaster, whatever she was, probably had to clean the place too because we tracked up her floor and it was a bad time. One night late, my brother and Chet Zollinger, they got these big milk buckets, fourteen quart milk buckets and got all us little kids lined up and we went down to the scale there in front of the post office, they had a big wooden scale, flipped up the planks.
It had little mailboxes for everybody but nobody ever locked their mailbox. So then we just took them inside and stuffed them in there. So when Clawson came in the next morning, the place was just jumping with frogs and she took off across the road screaming her head off. A day or two later, the sheriff came up to the school and he called all of kids out and lined all of us up and told us how we had committed a federal act and we could go to San Quentin for the rest of our life. I think he enjoyed it more than any of us did.
Who were your friends?
Growing up, my closest friends were Reed Neilsen, Lex Baer was my age, he’s still around, Willis Leonhardt, he’s still around. That’s the ones I can recall now. There must have been more than that.
Who were the prominent people in town?
Hen ran everything and in opposition to him would have been Ethan Allen and especially in the north end of town, the Fuhrimans and the Theurers and Hammonds were mostly in the north end of town. In the south in the town you had the Germans which was the Mendelkows and the Muellers and all of that group. The Zollingers were in both places. There were five Zollinger families. Most of them in Second Ward. Will Zollinger was in First Ward. In those days you had a bishopric and they were in for years. Andrew Hammond and his first counselor Will Zollinger, don’t remember who the Second counselor was but I think he was bishop for like nineteen years or something like that. They were there almost your whole lifetime as a kid. The downtown people referred to them as the “roundheads up on the bench” because they were German and I think they did set a bowl on the kids’ head and cut around it because they wanted that German haircut. That was Naylors and Spuhlers and the typical German group. Down town there were a lot of German, mostly German too, but it was Swiss German, the Fuhrimans and there were mostly German. They didn’t get along to well. The Germans with each other. When I was there as a kid, I don’t remember how long I had been there, I was maybe ten years old or something, the Providence ward, maybe both wards, they sang in conference, they had to sing a German song. I was the only kid who couldn’t speak German or didn’t speak German. I have a mental block in German, I sat in the audience, but I remember the kids sang a German song in the Tabernacle.
Where did you get baptized?
It was different in those days. When I was eight years old, they all loaded us in three or four cars and we went to the Temple to get baptized and our parents weren’t there and there was nothing made out of it. All of us did, all of us that were eight. I think they maybe made the trip 2 or 3 times a year. It’s quite a different life now.
Most of the missionaries that went from Providence went on German missions because they already spoke German and it was quite an asset to them. But then when they got home from the mission there were only two guys in town who they could work on who were not Mormon. My dad was one of them. I remember my dad chasing them out of the place. They were just obnoxious.
What was your dad’s involvement with the Church?
My dad was an extremely well read person. He read every church book there ever was. He read a book a week as far as I know, so he knew the scriptures better than most people in town did. It wasn’t that he wasn’t interested in religion, he was. He insisted on us going to church. He went with us to church. It wasn’t anything the other way. Joe Keefe was the opposite; Joe would have nothing to do with it. He wouldn’t let his wife go to church. Keefe was a retired military man. Joe Keefe had a beautiful place in town. You wouldn’t think it today. It’s on 2nd West and 2nd South and it’s where Delmer Braegger lives on that corner. It wasn’t a special house, but the yard was absolutely beautiful. I guess the second year my father was chairman of the bazaar, Joe Keefe drove up and he had a great big washtub full of gold fish that he bought and gave to my dad to sell at the bazaar. He would for my dad; I don’t think he ever would for anyone else.
What has Providence’s growth been like?
I think they’ve had good growth, I think it’s good for them. When I was on the City Council, we tried everyway we could to get the farmers to annex that property all the way down to the Hyrum road. We did arrange to get the park there away from the Zollingers, we had to sue them to get that, but now they’ve named it the Zollinger Park so they have short memories. It had to come, there’s no question about it. The main street in Providence is now 1st North to the highway as far as I can see. There are bigger of things coming for them. Some of them don’t like it, but Providence is going to be a very wealthy city like North Logan. They’ve got the tax base now that they’ve never had before. You gotta have that if you’re going to have nice things for your kids. Parks and playgrounds and streets, the city has to have. So I think it’s all good for them. They’ve got a good mix now. There’s many things in Providence I wish hadn’t happened. There are wrong people handling and planning the zoning sometimes. They put a house right where you know a road has got to go someday. That’s happened three or four places in Providence which is sad. I can’t for the life of me figure out why they allowed to put those storage units on 1st North on the highway. They’re now across from the school and the church there. Eventually they’ll have to come out and demolish them and put something nice in there, I hope. Some of those things are just mistakes that you make. 2nd West was supposed to be continued on north and then connect back into the subdivision. The Neddos put a home in there real fast before the City got wise to it was going in there. If you extend 2nd North in there now, and they may do that anyway to connect into Logan here someday, it’s a natural way to do it. If they do, there’s going to have to buy a home. It won’t be just buying a lot. It’s going to cost them some money to straighten out those problems. But those happen in most cities. As a result from some great people, they have a wonderful water system that most of the other cities don’t have. They’ve got a lot going for them I think.
My unique position is a little different than the other people in town because it has to do with the quarry and I don’t know anybody left there that has much to do with the quarry. They can all tell you about the pea vinery and those things and you’ll hear about that.
End of interview.