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Melvin Westwood Oral History Interview, December 1, 1985

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Rose Merrick: This is an interview with Melvin Westwood, a retired horticulturist from Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon. Mr. Westwood has a keen interest in family history and is retelling some of the stories passed down from his grandparents and parents concerning their lives in Southeastern Utah. He also has many recollections of his own childhood on the family homestead near Moab, Utah, during the late '20s and the great depression of the 1930s. This interview was conducted on December 1, 1985 at Mr. Westwood's home here in Corvallis. The interviewer is Rose Merrick representing Oregon State University Oral History Program.

Melvin Westwood: The background of this story takes place in Southeastern Utah 00:01:00primarily along the Colorado river in Moab and Dewey up the river toward Grand Junction from Moab and in the areas of San Juan county near the four corners of the four states. The country around Moab is very rough, being in the Colorado plateau and the Rocky Mountains. Elevation of 4,000 to 6,000 feet and the general activities of the area at the time of my grandparents being there from 00:02:001880 to the early 1900s was primarily farming, livestock, and mining. The roads were rough and often washed out. The roads primarily at the beginning were trails built for horse and wagon. Later on, they were upgraded through improvement to accommodate the first trucks and cars.

When my father, Neil Westwood, was born there were in 1898 there was yet no bridges over the Colorado river passing then being made by fording the river at 00:03:00appropriate places or by ferry or by boat. And it was in this area of work, that is as a ferryman, that my grandfather spent 14 years during the time just after my father was born. My paternal grandfather, Richard Darwin Westwood, was born in 1863 and died in 1929. He came into southeastern Utah shortly after being married to my grandmother, Mary, or Martha Ann Wilcox, from Mt. Pleasant, Utah 00:04:00in central Utah, and he came into the Moab Valley because primarily of his sister and brother-in-law having moved there before and telling them that this was a good place to settle. So he came to Moab and settled next to his sister and brother-in-law, John Wilcox, and established a homestead there in 1890. Grandpa Westwood's principle occupation prior to coming to Moab was in running freight with team and wagon through Arizona and Utah and, after coming to Moab, 00:05:00he was a farmer, a law officer, and a ferryman on the river.

And shortly after arriving at Moab, Grand County, having been established as a county entity in 1890, he was elected the first sheriff of Grand County. This was 6 years before Utah became a state. He served for 4 years as sheriff and during that time was mostly paid in script or not paid at all for his services and for caring for prisoners and feeding them during this time.


For example, there was no jail in Grand County at the time Grandpa was sheriff and therefore any prisoners he took would be housed in his home where they would be fed and taken care of until they were released or taken to a prison upstate. One incident that my grandmother told me about indicated the kind of situation that they got into when prisoners were kept in their house. She related that she was working in the garden one afternoon, and her husband was gone to town and had indicated that he was sending a prisoner out for her to care for. So she 00:07:00worked in the garden for a while and then along came a friend she knew from town, and he sat and visited with her on the porch for an hour or so and finally she said to him, well, I'd like to stay and talk, but I must get supper ready and I have things to do, and besides Dick told me he was sending a prisoner along this afternoon, and I haven't seen that prisoner yet, so I must get ready for him. At that, the caller said, well, I'm the prisoner that the sheriff sent 00:08:00out. So he was a person that was well-known, but not to her as the case was. So that's sort of the way it was when a person in town was arrested for rowdiness or for petty larceny or other things like that they weren't considered dangerous and, as such, they were kept in the sheriff's house until they were released or until some other action was taken.

From 1902 until 1916 Grandpa and Grandma Westwood lived in Dewey, which is 30 00:09:00miles upriver from Moab toward Grand Junction, just below the confluence of Dolores and Colorado rivers. He ran the ferry during these years and did mining and other things part of the time as well. But they had houses then, both at Dewey and at Moab, and would back and forth to do farming at the places and the family as they grew up would go back and forth again helping with chores and doing the farm work. And at times they leased out or rented their farm in Moab so they spent most of the time at Dewey, and it was here that my father and his brothers and sisters went to school in a 1-room schoolhouse until they reached 00:10:00high school age, got all of their schooling at this place.

Along the Colorado up Dewey in addition to the ferry there was a place nearby that could be forded during low water. This one particular time my grandfather and his young son, Vier, were to ford the river with a team, and one of the horses of the team was a newly broke horse, not used to the harness, and in the course of fording the river threw the horse and wagon off course and it went 00:11:00downstream and to a place that couldn't be brought, in which the wagon couldn't be brought out because of the rocky cliff next to the water. As a result the team and wagon were lost, and young Vier, only 2 or 3 years old, nearly drowned as well as grandpa. The neighbors saw them going toward this bad situation and rushed down and were able to rescue Grandpa and Uncle Vier, but not the team and wagon. And as they came up to the house Grandpa was sitting in the house very 00:12:00white and pale and Grandma came in and saw him and she said, oh, Dick you've lost, you've drowned my baby. I can tell by the look on your face. And he said no, luckily they both got out of it alive.

Grandpa was a sheriff a number of other times and also deputy sheriff in Moab area for 6 or 7 times following his initial stint as sheriff in 1894. And it was in one of these periods in his later life, in his older age that serving as 00:13:00deputy sheriff under John B. Skews that he was killed and it was a case in which two robbers had been apprehended in Moab and placed in jail. They had been searched and no weapons had been found, but they were known to be desperate characters from their record that came to them after they were captured. Grandpa and the sheriff went to feed them in the evening, and one of the prisoners asked for cigarettes, and so the sheriff left the jail at that point and went home to supper and Grandpa went to town and picked up some cigarettes and brought back for them. And he had been told by the sheriff not to enter the jail without 00:14:00someone else being there. However, when he got back to the jail there was no one else around, so he went in, never being a person who feared anything for his own personal safety, went in and approached the jail cell and as he handed the cigarettes through the bars one of the prisoners grabbed his arm and held him while the other one shot him point blank three times in the chest. As he fell next to the door, they took his keys and unlocked the cell door and escaped. One went up over the hills behind the south of Moab, an extremely rough country with 00:15:00no water. And the other went down the river, the Colorado. This was part of the Grand Canyon. Essentially there was no escape in either direction, and it was only a short time that they then came back or were brought back and were put on trial and given life sentences for murder.

My grandmother, Martha Anna Wilcox Westwood, was the daughter of two of the original pioneers of the Mormon community who came to Salt Lake Valley in 1847 00:16:00with the first group of Mormon settlers. Her mother, Mary Young, was from Canada and her father, John Henry Owen Wilcox, was from the Ohio country. They came with Brigham Young to the Utah territory and settled ultimately in Mt. Pleasant, where my grandmother was born and raised and went to school. She met my grandfather at that place and they were married near there and their first 00:17:00daughter was born at that place and it was just them when their firstborn daughter, Ella, was less than a year old that they moved from there then to Moab, and Grandmother mentioned that the ride she went by train to Thompson and then from Thompson, Utah, by stagecoach wagon to Moab, and at that time of course there was no bridge over the river nor a ferry at that time. A man in a rowboat came across the river from the Moab side to bring them over. She said that the load of freight that they had with them was so great that when the 00:18:00freight was loaded and the passengers, that the boat was almost chipping water and here she had this very small baby and they sat her on top of a big box of, she called it, coffee box back in the rear and that she felt as though every moment that the boat rocked that she was going to be thrown into the water and she was so fearful she finally asked the person sitting next to her if it was okay if she held on to his collar for support, and he said it was okay so she with one hand she held onto this man's collar and the other she held her baby 00:19:00tightly in her arms, and she thanked the Lord that she made it across safely when they got to the other side.

There was a very little to do in an isolated community such as that for entertainment except the entertainment that they furnished themselves. Grandmother tells about forming a dramatic club in which several members of the community participated, and they would put on various plays and drama and do readings and other kinds of things to entertain themselves and the rest of the community and in addition to that Grandpa Westwood was a caller for the square 00:20:00dances, and she related that when my father, Neil, was a baby they'd take him to the square dances in the evening and to the other events of that sort. When he was sleepy they would make a bed for him in the corner and he would sleep and the other small children were treated in the same way, and that way when the square dance was over at midnight or later they simply bundled up the small children who'd been sleeping and took them home.

In 1916 a new suspension bridge was built over the Colorado river at Dewey 00:21:00making the ferry then obsolete, and it was in that year then that Grandpa and Grandma Westwood moved from Dewey back to Moab for good and also at that time my father and some of the older children in the family were ready to begin high school so that they needed to go to Moab to attend school. But having given up the ferry job for good, then they all moved back to the homestead farm in Moab, which was a mile and a half from town on the south side of the valley next to the Tale slopes and red sand drawn cliffs that dominate the southern part of the 00:22:00valley. So at that time Grandpa continued as sheriff part of the time and as deputy sheriff part of the time, usually filling unexpired terms of other sheriffs who had died or had resigned from office rather than running for a full term. He was not in exceedingly good health at that time, but he still remained on the farm and continued with his law enforcement work. As I said, in 1929, he was killed by two prisoners at the jail, and the big manhunt that took place 00:23:00brought the prisoners back and I remember my father was with the posse and he had said that he would shoot them on sight, but when he came face-to-face with them he wasn't able to pull the trigger. He said that he decided that he would let the courts be the place of justice rather than a vigilante justice that he had had in his heart when he started. When grandpa was being prepared for the 00:24:00funeral my father took me and the older boys in the family to see him and he showed us the wounds in his chest, and I remember this was the first time that I had really seen a body, or at least one of a member or close member of the family, and it was a rather sober experience for a 6-year-old who had just started in 1st grade, but it was typical of my dad that he didn't gloss over things of life. He faced them straight on and he wanted his children to do the same thing. And it wasn't traumatic experience, it was just simply a new and a strange experience for me.

Now, I'll tell you a bit about my mother's family. My grandfather, Henry Allen 00:25:00Blake, was born in 1869, died in 1940. He was born in Iowa. His father was a military officer and moved from there to Texas and from Texas to New Mexico. My grandfather, therefore, was sort of on the frontier in his boyhood days and living in outposts where military operations would take place between the U.S. Army and the Indians and other, or renegades, and so he was very early exposed 00:26:00to firearms and as a 6-year-old he received a six-shooter for his birthday, and he told me this years later that when he got this gun he was so excited he loaded it and ran out into the yard, and the family heard a shot and a scream and they ran out to the yard and there he was lying on the ground with his face covered with blood. They thought he had killed himself accidentally. When they washed off the blood they discovered that it wasn't a serious wound. In fact, it was a small cut in his forehead that he had received when he shot the gun and had not held it tightly enough and the recoil had kicked back and the front 00:27:00sight had hit his head, causing the cut. But from that time on he learned how to use a gun and how to use it well, and later on he was even known, not as a gunslinger, but as a crack shot and in later life was to become sheriff of San Juan County in Southeastern Utah.

When Grandpa Blake was still a boy in Texas his father hit upon an idea of how to have him learn Spanish, and what he did was made a deal with a Mexican family down the road in which he changed places with another child of about his age. 00:28:00The Mexican child came to life in the Blake family and Grandpa Blake, at 5 or 6, went to live for one year in the home of the Mexican family and from that moment on he was able to speak fluent Spanish and later in, as editor of a local newspaper in San Juan county, was able to converse with the Mexicans in the community in Spanish and therefore did a much better job of gathering the news because they felt much more comfortable with him speaking Spanish than they did the other newspaperman who only spoke English.


Grandpa Blake was married to Ida Barker in Las Vegas, New Mexico, in the 1890s, and at that time he was working as a printer's devil in the newspaper in Las Vegas. They, later through his affiliation with a mining company that he was working for, moved to Denver and they lived in Denver until 1908. Then from Denver he moved with his young family to Green River, Utah, again in the 00:30:00Southeastern part of the state. And lived there working in the mining work mostly and farming along the Green River until 1917 at which time he moved his family to Moab. And it was at this time just after the Westwood family had moved back from Dewey that the two families who lived near each other in Moab got acquainted and ultimately after a year or so and following World War I, my mother Ida Blake and my dad, Neil Westwood, were married.

This indicates how the Blakes got to Moab, and I should say that my grandfather 00:31:00Blake told me this story about the day that he came to Moab, and this was before they had moved to Green River. He was looking for a place and he was alone looking through the country for a place to move his family from Denver, and he came in on the stage from the railway at Thompson to Moab and, as he told it, there was a city dude from back east on the stage with them and whenever he would see a rabbit or some animal along the road he would reach up and tug on the trousers' leg of the driver who was sitting up on top and have him stop the 00:32:00stage, and then he would get out his new gun and lean it over the edge of the window of the stage door and try to hit the rabbit, and after this happened two or three times on the way in, Grandpa said that he got nervous about it, it bothered him that they were stopping all this time along the road, so the next time a rabbit jumped up he just reached into his shirt and whipped out his 6-shooter and shot the rabbit before the city dude could stop the driver. He said it so frightened the city dude that he got up and rode the rest of the way to town with the driver up on top. When he arrived at Moab this city dude went 00:33:00around town telling people that this fella was a real gunslinger and told about what he did in killing the rabbit and all that, and there were a couple of outlaws hiding out in Moab who had originally come from Texas, and, they, knowing that Grandad Blake had come from Texas or had lived in Texas, thought that he was a Texas ranger who had come to bring them back and so this was a sort of touchy situation for a while there and Grandad said that he had, as he walked down the street in Moab a time or two, had seen the reflection of a rifle 00:34:00barrel, the sun bouncing off the rifle barrel as Tom Trout had watched him as he walked down the street near the saloon that Tom Trout had owned, and Granddad said that later that he learned about this from Tom Trout himself, and this was after they had become friends and after Trout had convinced himself that Grandad was not a Texas ranger and did not come to town to take him back.

My grandmother Blake was born Ida Barker in 1874 and born in Moran County, 00:35:00Texas. She went then with her parents to New Mexico when she was a teenager, and this would have been, this was in 1889 that they moved from Texas to Las Vegas, New Mexico. Her father, Squirely Ander Barker, was from Virginia as was her mother, Pricilla Jane McGuire. Her father, Grandpa Barker, had been a prisoner of war during the Civil War, been taken from the fields as a 15-year-old boy and 00:36:00had nearly died of starvation in the Union prison camps. After the Civil War he moved his family out of Virginia to Texas and had spent a number of years, perhaps 15 years, in Texas and then, because of his wife's poor health and suffering from asthma, had decided to move to the high country of Northern New Mexico in the area near the Sangre de Cristo Mountains there and Sapillo Canyon, which was 25 miles from Las Vegas. So on the trip out my grandmother, who was at that time 15, drove a wagon, a covered wagon, pulled by a team of oxen.


She related to me the story about how one particular day driving across West Texas on the way north had a made a dry camp the one night where there was no water, and so the livestock were very thirsty, and the next day they had to leave without water and along in mid-afternoon, and the weather was hot, it was September, her ox team that she was driving began to trot and then to run and then race and she couldn't control them, and then she discovered what the problem was, and it happened that they could smell water. There was a lake up ahead and they simply ran madly into the lake. She couldn't stop them, and they 00:38:00were several yards out into the lake before they finally stopped and the wheels of the wagon were bogged into the mud so that ultimately they had to hitch a team of horses on back of the wagon and pull it back out of the lake. But she, except for that incident, she did very well in driving this team of oxen the several weeks that they were on the road from Texas to their new home in Las Vegas, and it was here then a few years later that she met my grandfather, Allen Blake, and married him, and, as I related earlier, they then moved to Denver and 00:39:00later then to Utah. My grandmother had very little formal education. She told me that she probably had a total of 6 months of formal education, but she did learn to read and write and then from that point on she taught herself, and she became a well-educated person, and, as she ultimately established a home in San Juan County in Monte Cello, Utah, which is 60 miles south of Moab, she had many community activities that she engaged in. She was for many years recorder of Vital Statistics for San Juan County as well as the official U.S. weather 00:40:00recorder for Monte Cello for some 20 years or more.

She also wrote news items and was a news correspondent for 4 or 5 newspapers in the southeastern Utah area. In addition to that, she, for many years, ran the only protestant Sunday school in Monte Cello at a time when there was only a small Catholic church and the Mormon Church as established churches in the community. Her father was a lay minister in the Christian church and she, having 00:41:00been a strong Christian from the very beginning, was not associated with any particular faith but, as it turned out after several years at a Presbyterian church in Green River and then later the Baptist Church in Moab, and, as it turned out, the Baptist Church ultimately established in Monte Cello, she was largely in her later years associated with Baptist churches, but when there was no church, established church, in her community, she would make arrangements with those people who wanted a place to worship and have a Sunday school would make her own home available for that, and she was instrumental then later in 00:42:00getting a traveling Baptist minister to spend 2 days per month in Monte Cello traveling from his home base in Moab. So she was an influence in her community, a beneficial influence, in many ways. She was a homemaker too, and she sort of ran the family while Grandad ran the newspaper office and the mining things, and she had a big orchard and raised most of the fruits that one can at the higher elevation of 7,000 feet at Monte Cello, and she had a big garden. I remember once she raised a cabbage that weighed 19 pounds. So she did all of these 00:43:00things, and she chopped wood and did other things like that. Once when I went to visit as a boy, she thanked me for cutting some wood for her, and I asked her about how she got that big pile of wood that was already there, and she said, well, I chop a little wood each day when I'm here alone, and she said I don't really like to do it but she said I think everybody should do something useful that they don't like to do each day because it builds character in a person.

Back just a bit now to how my mother and father met. As I said, they lived near 00:44:00each other when the Blakes moved from Green River and the Westwoods moved from Dewey back to Moab, and in 1918 the Blake family moved to Monte Cello, but the older children, of which my mother was one, were still in high school, and there was as yet no high school in San Juan County. Therefore, they made an arrangement with Grandpa and Grandma Westwood for my mother, Ida, and her brothers, Roy and Herbert, to stay over winter with the Westwoods in Moab so 00:45:00that they could go to high school and finish high school, which they did in the spring of 1919.

Meanwhile, my father, who had been in class with them, had quit school and joined the army in 1918 and returned home in the summer of 1919 after having been in the army and in France at the end of World War I. So at that time then my grandfather had acquired a dry farm at La Salle, Utah, which is 25 miles north of Monte Cello, and it was a farm that he had hoped that my dad would farm when he got back from the war, which he did. And it was at that time then the 00:46:00next year in June 1920 that my mother and father were married at my Grandpa and Grandma Blake's house in Monte Cello.

The day after they were married they left by team and wagon for their new home in La Salle and the farm, it was a small log cabin that they lived in. They lived and farmed here during the next season, two seasons, but the very, the high altitude affected my mother's health and, as a result, they had before 00:47:00their first child was born they moved back to Moab, which was a lower elevation of 4,000 feet. [Break in recording] twenty-one my older brother, Richard, was born in the sawed-log house at the homestead place, the same house that my father was born in in 1898 when the house was new.

Now I'll give a bit of background on my parents. My dad was raised a Mormon but was never comfortable in the organized religion, so he had a very strong and strict moral code and had an aversion to things like lying and stealing that we 00:48:00learned to live with firsthand as we grew up. My mother was raised as a Presbyterian and then later as a Baptist. When they were married they agreed that neither would force us children to be members of any particular religious group, that they would allow us to go to whatever church or place of worship we wished, but then as we grew older and were able to decide for ourselves they 00:49:00would let us decide rather than their influencing us. As a result, some of us grew up and became Baptists, Methodists, and others grew up to be Mormons.

My dad was a very gregarious person. He liked other people. He liked to visit, and he helped people when they needed it. In fact, if one could characterize his religious philosophy it would be the second commandment: love they neighbor as thyself. Because whenever he heard of someone in need, even if he was not really able to help, he would always do it anyway and sometimes to the detriment of his 00:50:00own family's needs. He was good at teaching, and he taught his children and other people's children, his nephews and nieces, many things, and, even though he didn't have a high school diploma, he was a natural teacher and spent many long hours teaching his kids and others how to do jobs right and why they should be done one way and not another. My own recollection is that he was very good at motivating people to do things, even though he himself was not very successful 00:51:00economically and was a very poor businessman. He motivated other people to do things up to their talents and encouraged us to do things that we wanted to do, rather than things that other people wanted us to do. He was good at giving readings and things of that nature, and in the evenings at home as a small child, I remember that he would often recite poetry and readings and perhaps would read things, stories, to us in the light of the old kerosene lamp that we had as a source of light in those long winter evenings.


My mother, on the other hand, was very quiet. She was well-educated for that time. She had a high school diploma and had worked for a short time as a school teacher in San Juan County. She was much more quiet and had very strong religious convictions but was not so assertive. However, she was a very stable influence in the family. In her years following her marriage while the children were growing up she was in poor health and very often spent several months a year in bed. As a result, we had to help with the housework as well as the farm 00:53:00and fieldwork, but we did get much of her religious philosophy through her advice and counsel as we went along, and we also learned that she had great patience because she was told by the doctor that if she tried to work and keep her house up and do all the work necessary that she would probably die young and her children would grow up without a mother. As a result of that, she very often let the house go untidy, and the dishes weren't done all the time and then we older boys helped at the housework, but not always and in the best way. But she 00:54:00did live, and in later years her health got better and she still lives today in 1985. So the advice the doctor gave her was good.

I was born in Hiawatha, Utah, where my dad had gone to work in the coal mines, and he worked there for about a year, and I was born in March of 1923 at the coal camp just south of Price, Utah. Shortly after that my parents moved back to 00:55:00Moab to take over the family farm, as Grandpa Westwood was getting old and his health was not too good. So I have no memory of the coal camp. I do remember the early days on the farm in Moab, the old Westwood homestead, and it was here that my father taught me how to plant and care for a garden, how to take care of livestock and poultry. We had chickens and pigs and horses, cows, and they all had to be tended each day, night, and morning. In particular, he took special care to teach each of us how to do the chores that needed special training, and 00:56:00in the case of the cow milking job, there was one particular old cow named Daisy that was very hard to milk. The milk would come only with great difficulty and very hard squeezing, and he would always teach each of us as we got up to age 6, he would teach us how to milk on old Daisy, the old cow, the hardest cow to milk. And he would say, well, it's alright, it's going to be hard learning and you have to work hard and do it right. And he'd teach us how to squeeze at the top and on down to the bottom, but he said if you learn to milk old Daisy you'll 00:57:00be able to milk any cow alive. So if you start at the hard one the rest will be easy.

He also taught us things about our own discipline and how we were to do things and how not to do things. How to get along with others, and when we got into trouble, he made us get ourselves out of it more or less rather than his helping us out. He felt that if we had to pay for our mistakes in one way or another we wouldn't be as likely to make those mistakes over again, and I remember in particular one instance where my cousin and I went down to my Uncle John 00:58:00Wilcox's place where he had some cherry trees, and the cherries were nearly ripe and we ate more than our share of cherries and then having done that we decided to build a trap for the horses and cows that, as they went down to the creek to drink-there was a trail, a narrow road, that led from the corrals down to the creek where the livestock went to drink. We found an old dairy cable which we stretched across the road about a foot above the ground, and our thought was, and we were just small children, was that the livestock as they went down to 00:59:00drink would trip or be impeded by this cable, and this was our idea of a joke. Well, we did this in the daytime, then we forgot to take the cable down when we went home at sundown, and the next day we got word that a Mr. Chidester, who ran the Wilcox farm, had taken a team of horses down that hill after dark and hadn't seen the cable, and horses had tripped on the cable and fell, and some of them were injured slightly and caused quite a bit of difficulty.

And having notified our parents that we were the ones that were fooling around 01:00:00there at the corral the day before, they knew who had done it. As a result, my dad had me go down to the Wilcox farm and hoe six long rows of corn to pay for the mischief I had done, and these rows must have been half a mile in length and they hadn't been hoed well so far that summer, and the cockle burrs were tough and big, and it was a long, hard job. And I was so thirsty before I finished the job that I ran down to the creek and drank the alkali water there because I was 01:01:00afraid to go home and face my dad before I finished the hoeing. So that was the way that he helped us to learn that we must pay for our mistakes and there were other instances, and each time the punishment was developed to fit the kind of misdemeanor that we had engaged in.

In the fall of 1929, the stock market crashed starting the steps toward the Great Depression. My memory is vague on that point because at the same time in 01:02:00the fall I was starting school in 1st grade, and then shortly after that in September my Grandad Westwood was shot and killed, as alluded to earlier, and this was the thing that was the uppermost in the family's mind. In fact, the crash had little to do with the way we lived on the farm. We produced most of the food and necessities that we needed and collected the wood from the pinyon pines and junipers in the hills so that the crash didn't have very much immediate effect upon us. But later on we did feel it, and, in fact, as the 01:03:00depression grew worse, especially in the cities, my two aunts, my dad's younger sisters and their families, they were both divorced and had young families, and they were having difficulty living in the city with the layoffs and other things.

So in 1932 we had moved in with Grandma Westwood on the farmhouse, and then my aunt Grace with her three children, my Aunt Ida with one child, came also to live with Grandma because they weren't able to make it. They were hungry and 01:04:00needed a place to stay. So for a time, about a year, there were 15 people living in that 2-room farmhouse, and, with the tents and other small devices to extend the living quarters around the farmstead, we got by somehow. Even though we didn't have money, we had plenty of food to eat and we had heat for the house and with home sewing and making of clothing we had most of the necessities without the need for money. That was the beginning of the realization for me that the depression really was a serious thing because we had thought of our 01:05:00relatives in the city as being better off than we were until they had to come live with us in order to survive. Well, so after that in 1933 my dad and his brother built a little house on a lot in town for Grandma Westwood and moved her into that house in the summer of 1933, so that at the same time my Aunt Grace and my Aunt Ida also moved into town where they could be nearer the work that they had gotten, office work, and Ida is a cook and dietician in the hospital, 01:06:00so that from that time onward until we sold the farm there was just my parents and their family living at the old farmhouse.

As my brothers and I grew older and were able to do more of the farm work, my dad took jobs in town doing carpentry work and construction work such as road work and bridge building and things of that nature, to earn money while we four boys at home ran the farm: did the irrigating and took care of the livestock and harvested the crops. But we did most of this work for the family, but each 01:07:00summer Dad would let us each have a project of our own: growing of carrots in some cases or raising of chickens to sell as fryers, and various projects that gave us a little experience at running our own business and to, if we could, earn a little money for buying school clothes and having some spending money. So we would spell asparagus in town, and occasionally we had some steady customers for cream and milk and would grow crops that were especially for our individual 01:08:00projects, sometimes melons, sometimes tomatoes. One year it was popcorn that we grew, and we were allowed to sell the produce we raised and would get a share of the money that we got from it. In this way we learned not only how to grow things but how to market them.

Then during this same time, I was branched out into selling other things, magazines, and I was selling Collier's American Magazine, Women's Home Companion, as the local franchise holder for that sort of thing, and it was interesting and I was able to earn a little money, but mainly I got interested 01:09:00in the world outside in reading all of the exciting stories, fiction and non-fiction, from the magazines that I sold, and then later I added the Sunday Los Angeles [Herald] Examiner, which also I spent more time reading than I did really selling the thing. But it was interesting and a growing experience, and then through the 1930s Dad worked on WPA projects, because often those were the only ones that were available for earning money. I think he was making 50 cents an hour at that. He helped build the first curbs and gutters, they were actually made of red sandstone and concrete, for the Moab streets. And through these 01:10:00activities then more and more of the farm work fell to us older boys, and we didn't think we liked it very well, but in fact, looking back upon it, it was one of the best experiences we could've grown up with, and it gave us each a lot of self-reliance, and our interests were not confined to those things on the farm. As we branched out in later years we each went different ways and each at least moderately successful in things that we chose. But none of the 9 children 01:11:00ultimately of that family went into precisely the same kinds of things that the others did, although 2 or 3 of them ultimately went into construction work and carpentry which was in fact my dad's strongest interest in his vocational work.

Recollections of my school days are mostly happy ones. In contrast to my dad and mother, whose schooling took place in a one-room schoolhouse with 8 grades in one room, our school was the county school and was a room for each grade so that 01:12:00we had a graded school, and we had grades 1 through high school and all in the same buildings, and, in that sense, was different from the modern schools in which the smaller children are separated from the older ones. In my earliest years we lived 1 ½ miles out of town on the farm and we walked to school each day, and it was cold in the morning and our clothing wasn't always as warm as we'd like it. We wore overalls in those days, sometimes winter underwear and large old work-type shoes. Aside from the cold, the hazards we encountered on 01:13:00the way to and from school were when the town bully lived between us and school and often would lay in wait for us, and if he caught us would beat us up and this was always something that we were afraid of, at least early, and then there was an old red rooster at Max's corner that was very mean, and he would chase us if he saw us as we passed, and then a little ways further along was an old German Shepherd dog named Jack who used to terrorize all the kids as they went past his place at Glen Stock's. By and large at school there were many things to 01:14:00learn, and we made many new friends, and I personally spent many long hours in the library, which was attached to the school and learned to find the books that I wanted and many of the shelves I read every single book in the shelf of the types of things that I wanted to read, and this was always something that I learned I could do, is that anything I didn't know I could always go to a library and get books that would tell me about all of these interesting things that I wanted to know.


So in addition to the school years there was Boy Scouts and the types of things that we did there. We went on two-week summer trips to the mountains, and one year we climbed Haystack Mountain and the La Salle Mountains. Another time went to the Uinta Mountains and spent nearly two weeks there. The truck driver who came, was to come and get us at the end of the stay, failed to show up on the appointed day and we had just eaten up most of our food, except for a few raisins and some canned milk. So we though, being Boy Scouts, we should use our 01:16:00outdoor learning experiences and go out and find food. And we went out to the meadows nearby and there were all of these nice mushrooms growing, so we, having passed the course in botany in the scout handbook, we knew which were poisonous and which were not, and very much later, as I got into a profession of botany and horticulture in college, I learned how stupid we were to have been so confident that we could tell the poisonous ones from the edible ones. But being young and undaunted, we picked a large mess of these mushrooms, took them back 01:17:00to camp and cooked them up nicely in a gravy made from the canned milk that we had leftover, and then when it was all ready they wanted someone to taste them. Well, I tasted them, and a friend of mine tasted them, and they sat around for five minutes and we didn't get sick, so the rest of them dived in and ate the rest of the mushrooms.

Again, I learned later that some of these mushrooms that are poisonous don't take effect until hours, sometimes a day, after they're eaten so that, again, we 01:18:00were very foolish but also very lucky that we did pick the edible types. But, again, we from all of this, the Boy Scouts and the schooling, we learned many things. I made friends in school with people I hadn't known before. One was Kenneth Tybalt. We decided to be humanitarians and so we established a little club, we made a little house sort of out of old boards and willows and things under the bank of the creek, and from this base of operation we were going out to cut wood for the elderly in the community and do good deeds as a way of 01:19:00service to mankind, and I remember we did lots of talking about it and planning and so on, but we really did very little other than that. It was interesting, though, that we did build a clubhouse for the purpose of doing good for others.

One of the last things that I did with Kenneth Tybalt before he moved away from Moab was to go on a overnight hike with him into the red sand rock hills just south of our old farm. These hills are very steep and precipitous, but we climbed to the top of the hills and then found a nice cozy place to camp at the 01:20:00very top of a big stone sand dune fin. Here was a small clearing right at the very top of this huge monolith, and it had a little pocket there in which sand had blown, and there were some juniper trees growing there. And it was a nice little place and nearby to a pothole in the rock where the rainwater would collect and we could have water. Well, during the night, as we put our beds out to sleep, everything was fine when we went to bed. The stars were bright and we spent a while looking at the stars and the constellations, and then went to 01:21:00sleep only to be awakened very rudely about 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning with the loud claps of thunder and flashes of lightning and a big cloudburst that came onto us, and we had no tents. We were camped out in the open. So in just a few minutes we were just soaked to the skin, and our bedding was wet and it was a terrible miserable time until we could get a fire going at daybreak the next morning. Well, years later we went back to that same place to show my own kids the campsite and, lo and behold, those juniper trees that had been there had all been struck by lightning and were burnt out and just shells there, and I often 01:22:00wondered why, during that time years before when we had camped there, why we hadn't also been struck by lightning because there was a lot of lightning and thunder around. I suppose some people are just lucky like that.

In my later Boy Scout days I was involved with community activities and ultimately as assistant scout master, but during those years before that we had many plays, quite a few of them, done by the church group, and I remember my uncle Frank had written some plays about the early days of the trappers and 01:23:00mountain men who first settled in Moab, and I helped to reenact some of these plays as we were doing training and dramatics and other things of this nature. And it was interesting that my father had been interested in that, my grandmother and his and my father's father, and then I learned that my grandfather's father, who had emigrated from England, was a Shakespearean actor and had done this. In fact, he had grown up only 15 miles from the Shakespearean theater at Stratford upon Avon in the midlands of England in the 1860s and in 01:24:00that period. So this interest in that sort of thing seemed to have come along somehow, perhaps partly hereditary, but through the family culture. But I always remember that my dad was much better at readings and poetry than I was, although I had an interest in that sort of thing. Well, in my high school years I had had this wide interest in nature and natural history and that sort of thing, but then I began to get a stronger interest in science, and I remember in particular 01:25:00one teacher, Mr. McKonky, who was teaching geology, human physiology, and those kinds of courses was one of my favorite teachers, and he encouraged me to continue my schooling.

Another teacher, my English teacher, Mrs. Hepworth, was constantly telling me that I had talent, and, in fact, she said that you have everything anyone could ask and now what you have to do is make it count. And I remembered that for years and I remembered these words of encouragement meant a great deal in later years, and these I think, and others, spurred me on to doing things that perhaps 01:26:00I wouldn't've done without some encouragement. And as I got into the upper grades in high school I went into track and band and student body council and ultimately became the student body president and captain of the football team. All this, of course, in a small school so it wasn't a great thing, but it gave me a great deal of confidence then as I moved out into other things in life and into the air transport command during World War II and coming back briefly to the farm and then into university work following World War II.


In concluding, I should comment upon the various benefits of growing up in such a family as mine. First of all, it seems to me that the great diversity of people that I was in contact with within the family was a benefit because I got so many different points of view. Secondly, both sides of my family had a strong family heritage which they passed along as the children came into the family and which in fact gave us a sense of history, and, by reviewing the hardships and 01:28:00other kinds of adventures as well as disasters that the family had lived through in past generations, it gave us hope that and encouragement that with better times and with better conditions for medicine and health and education that we could go on to much greater things than our parents or our grandparents simply because we had greater opportunity. But I do remember that on my mother's side of the family, the Blakes and Prescotts, had been well-educated people, and one of them had been ambassador to Zanzibar, and I remembered my grandmother telling 01:29:00me of the Prescott family, whose lineage went back to the Colonel Prescott who commanded the battle at Bunker Hill in the early days of the Revolutionary War. Those stories, plus the stories on my father's side of the family about the Mormon trek across the plains and the hardships they endured and survived as well as their heritage from England, from which most of them came and the things that they did and the family history that they passed along, gave me a sense of continuity as well as a sense of the privilege in this country of being able to 01:30:00do whatever one wanted to do, and my dad continued to tell us as we grew up you can do anything you want to do if you're willing to work for it and if you're willing to become educated and get the kind of education that is required to do it.

This is the kind of thing, and he would never tell us what we should study or what we should be interested in. As a result, the great diversity of occupations that came out of this family of 9 children was such that it was obvious that there was a diversity of interests, and each of us followed these interests: I to the university and to a career in pomology and horticultural; my older 01:31:00brother to a very fine career as a fur farmer and later as an owner of real estate and managing of various businesses; and my younger brothers in house moving, and one of them invented a unit for matching double-wide trailers together and patented it; another brother went into manufacture of mineral supplements for human nutrition also a builder of windmills for electricity; others were school teachers; a sister trained as a Baptist missionary; another sister is a housewife and gifted artist. So it seems to me that with a family 01:32:00heritage such as that it was an asset that, because of the passage of this heritage to the children, that it was an asset that could not be gained in school and it set the guideline for morals, for aspirations, and for the self-knowledge that we could do what we wanted to do if we were willing to put the effort into it. I think that's the kind of thing that I got most from my 01:33:00association with my family, and it's a heritage I think that is worth keeping and worth passing on to my children and grandchildren.