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A banner with an image of the Provo Historic Courthouse and the text Historic Provo.

Oral History of Blanche Hawke


WINN:Today is March 27, 1999. This is Jennifer Winn and I'm interviewing Blanche Hawke. Blanche, what is your earliest memory of Provo?

HAWKE:We got married in 1935 and came down here. Don didn't have a job. We went to the temple and were married in Salt Lake and we came home. Don had ten dollars in his pocket and no job. We lived with his folks for two months in their house. We lived separately but in the same house. We lived there for two months and Don got a job. I think it paid him $45 a month.

Then we moved into a little apartment up there. It was so cold and the bathroom was under the porch. The people that lived upstairs had rented these four furnaces. When they put heat downstairs in the basement apartment, they had to put a board over that to shoot the heat down. We just about froze that winter. Then we got us one of those little stoves and put down there. We were more comfortable.

We lived there for two years and Don helped his uncle finish another basement apartment and we moved into that. We were real comfortable. We lived there for two years then we bought this lot with a little two room house on. I think it cost us $2,000 for the little house and this great big lot.

After we moved in we bought some more furniture and moved in this little house. We found out it had bed bugs. We had the city come and fumigate it two different times, but it didn't get rid of it, so Don tore it down. He tore it down and built a little shed out there out of the material. We lived out there for two years while he built this home.

In 1938 we had our first baby. We were living in the little two rooms when she was born. We had lived here for a little while until we found out it was infested with bed bugs. He built that little shed out there and we moved out there and lived there for two years while he built this home. It took him about two years to build it, but he did it himself. He had a few people come and do the electric work and do the things like that that he couldn't do.

I like Provo. I got awful homesick the first little while because I hadn't ever been away from home. I lived in Heber City. I did a lot of crying the first two or three months. But I got over it. I've always loved Provo. It's a good place to live. The people are good here and friendly.

We do most of our shopping, and have done for quite a few years up at Allen's market on Third South because one of our daughter's works there.

We had six girls in a row. When we first got married the doctor told me that I never would have any children because I was too small. I only weighed 84 pounds. I'm a lot wider now than I was then. He said, "You'll never have children." I was just devastated. I thought that was terrible. We went to Manti with the ward one time on a bus on a tour. I told Don to pray all through the temple that we will have a baby. I had her right after that. Every two years I had a baby, until we got six girls and then we finally got two boys. We have two boys and the girls have all been married in the temple and the boys were married in the temple.

Our oldest boy lives in North Lehi. He's a policeman. If you ever see the motorcycle squad, he's head of that motorcycle squad. He's worked there about ten years. He trains the motorcycle people. Whenever you see a parade and you see that motorcycle squad, he's the first one out. He is tall and handsome. Our second boy is more short. Robert was on television about a week ago. He had picked up somebody for speeding and they interviewed him. He's tall. I don't know where we ever got him. He's tall and big. I looked at him and thought, "How did two little people ever have that great big boy." But he loves it.

Tom lives in Seattle and he worked at Boeing. He does very well. He enjoys his job up there. They are all active in the Church and they've all been married in the temple. We have one daughter that lives in Atlanta, Georgia and a daughter and a son that live in Seattle. The rest are around Utah close by.

WINN:You mentioned that you moved to Provo in the forties.

HAWKE:No, we got married in 1935. I came down here and we lived.

WINN:Did you feel the impact of the Depression while you were in Provo, or did you see how it might have impacted Provo?

HAWKE:Yes, we lived through the Depression. The margarine that came out was white. There was a little package of yellow coloring in it and you'd have to mix that to make it look like butter. We lived through the Depression. We didn't have an awful lot, but we had food on our table. My patriarchal blessing says that people that come to your home will never go without food. You'll always have food on your table. We survived it all but we had to skimp and save and do without.

WINN:Did your husband have to go to war?

HAWKE:No, he didn't. He is a carpenter. Like I said, he built this home. He's a cabinet maker. He worked for various mills and the state gave him a deferment because he made boxes for the service. The mill down there did. So he got a deferment and didn't have to go. I was glad for that.

We lived a normal life. We didn't have a lot of extravagances. We had the necessities. We didn't have a lot of finery or fancy clothes. We shopped here in Provo. We didn't have a car until 1950. Then his dad gave him his old car. We ran that for a while. Finally we did buy us a new car. We ran the wheels off of that. Don used to take me everywhere on the bicycle. He'd put me on the handlebars. We'd go out and around until we were able to get this car. It was a new one, a brand new one.

After we got our children raised, then they called us on a mission, the two of us.

WINN:You raised your children here. How was that?

HAWKE:It was wonderful. We had the school right over here. It was the old school. It wasn't that one. They just built this about two or three years ago. That was an old old school over there that they all went to. Don went to that school when he was a kid.

WINN:It's on 700 West.

HAWKE:It's right over here across the road on the corner.

WINN:What was the name of it?

HAWKE:Franklin School. They just tore it down and built this new one there. All the children went to school there and our church was just around the corner.

WINN:Have you seen the neighborhood change through the years?

HAWKE:Yes, very much. We had a wonderful neighborhood, all friendly. We partied together and had so much fun. We raised our kids together. Now they're all dead, but Don and I. All the neighbors next door and across the street are all gone.

New people have moved in. It's not quite as nice as it used to be. There are young people and we don't associate with them too much. But they're all nice people. I'm not saying they're not nice. But it's just not the same. The people that live on the corner are Spanish. But they're very nice and they treat Don and I very nice. We never hear any loud noises, like some foreign people do. They're very nice.

Some of the people don't keep their places nice. The people who used to live next door were wonderful. They were older people. He kept his place, their lawn and their flowers were beautiful. In fact, he got a beautification prize for Provo City one year. It was beautiful. The people that live next door there now don't care much about anything.

That's what you get when you live in a place for years and years and then you sell it. It gets run down. A lot of the homes down in this end are run down. Don always keeps this up good. He has a good garden every year. We don't need it all, but we give it away. He always has a beautiful garden. This year it's harder for him. We're both 86.

WINN:You don't look it.

HAWKE:We've been blessed with good health. About two months ago we both went and had our eyes operated on for cataracts. That slowed him down a little bit. He's a little later getting his garden in this year, but he plants it. He's got some of it in, but not all of it. It is a good place to live. I don't know that I'd want to live anywhere else unless I had to.

I guess the next question is our house upstairs. We try to prepare for that. We go to church. I've had a lot of jobs in the Church. I first worked in the Primary as a teacher for several years. Then they called me to be president.

I worked there for five years and then they called me to be secretary in the Relief Society. I had never even gone to Relief Society. It was when they had it on a weekday. My children were all little and they were napping. I didn't go to Relief Society during that time I was raising the children. Then they called me. The lady next door was the president and she asked for me for secretary. I went over and told the bishop, "I can't do that. I've never been a secretary. I'm not good at figures." In those days we had to keep books. He said, "You think about it, Blanche." I went home and something said to me, "How do you know you can't do it? You haven't tried it. How do you know you can't do it?" I turned myself around and went back over to the bishop's office and told him I'd do it. I got along fine. Don helped me with a few figures and got along fine.

Then they called me to be president. I was president for five years. I guess I did all right as secretary. But I loved the Relief Society after I once got into it. I hated to leave the Primary, but after I once got into it, I loved it.

After I'd been Relief Society President for five years they called us on a mission. We went to Texas, seventy five miles north of Dallas. It was the Dallas Mission. We were there for eighteen months and got along fine. We had several converts and baptized several people. We loved that. We went to Sherman, Texas. That was like a honeymoon. We say that was our honeymoon. You have togetherness like you've never ever had it before. He couldn't even go to the barber without me with him. That was a good experience.

Our youngest boy got married just before we left. He lived in the house and took care of the house. Then we came home and we've just lived here and done the best we could as we got older.

WINN:Have there been a lot of opportunities to be involved in the community?

HAWKE:Not really. I haven't. We went to Senior Citizens and took a class in ceramics and made several things there. I've never had a job in the community to speak of. I was too busy raising kids. Don hasn't either. He was busy earning a living. We didn't get involved too much in civic activities. We took the paper all the time and checked up on everything.

WINN:What activities, like parades or carnivals or circus did they have?

HAWKE:They used to have the carnivals up here in the park. We took the kids to all of those. Now they don't have a carnival here on the Fourth of July anymore. We used to go to all the parades. We took the kids to all the parades. Our girls were on floats at different times. One of our girls represented the ward on the ward float and was queen on the float. In fact two of them were. Our oldest girl was picked over at Franklin. They took them to Ogden on the train. The girls all participated in different activities in school. Every one of them did. We've got pictures of them on floats. Our boys were the same way. They were always in lots of things, plays and different things. As far as having any activity in the city council or anything, we haven't.

WINN:Were any of your children involved in World War II, Korea, or Vietnam?

HAWKE: No. Don's brother did go. He had a brother that went and I had a brother that went. He didn't have to. He built boxes and different things to help out.

WINN:Did that affect the economy in Provo? Were there things that were hard to get?

HAWKE:There was a lot of things that were hard to get. I can't remember specifically what it was. I know you couldn't get lots of things, so you just had to make do. Clothes and different things, we made over. The younger kids would wear the older kids' clothes. I sewed for all of them. I made every stitch of clothing the girls wore. I had a machine and it was going half of the time, because I made all their clothes. I didn't the boys. When the boys came along we bought their clothes.

I had a twin tub washer. They didn't have automatic washers then. I put it down in the basement and washed all their clothes and hung them on the line. It was hard to do. It kept me going all the time to raise all those kids. I never had much time for myself. They turned out good in spite of it. They're all good kids and we're proud of them.

Don's father had a farm down on the west side. He had chickens so we got our eggs from there and that helped us out. We got those free. His father wanted him to take over the farm, but Don was allergic to the chicken dust. It made him have asthma, so he turned that down. Later on he was a little bit sorry because they sold that farm for a big price when Mr. Hawke died. They sold that farm. The freeway went through his farm. The people that bought it got the benefit of it. We didn't. He was a little bit sorry then.

We had all we needed. We never had a lot, but we have been able to survive and keep food on the table and clothes and shoes on the kids' feet. We bought a lot of shoes. We had one daughter that wore a pair of shoes out in three months. We made her wear saddle oxfords because they had a good sole on them. She thought we were the meanest parents that ever lived. "No girl should have to wear these shoes. Why do I have to wear them?" I said, "Because you wear them out so quick, Mary." She just thought that was terrible. I said the other day to her when she was down here, "Mary Dawn, you thought we were terrible because we made you wear those saddle oxfords. But if you had to wear then the shoes that the kids wear now, then you could have said we were mean." Some of those shoes with those great big heels, and clunky looking things. The girls love them. But she thought that was awful mean of her parents. She looks back now and laughs about it. We weren't too bad.

WINN:What about grocery shopping?

HAWKE:There was a grocery shop around the block that we used to shop in. They had good meat and we shopped there. If ever there was a time when we didn't have the means to buy what we needed he would let us charge it, then we'd pay him later when we got it. He was very good to us. That's where we did all of our shopping while we were raising the children, was in that little corner market. But now it's gone and the supermarkets moved in and ran him out of business. He died. That's where we used to shop, not the big supermarket.

In town here about all there was to shop at that time was JCPenney's. I did most of my buying of furniture here. Then the Penney's store moved out of here. There's no stores right here in town to shop in before they built this mall down here with Penney's and Sears. Sears and Penney's was the only one in town that you could go to to buy children's clothes. Eventually Penney's moved out to that other mall and Sears moved down here. That was where I did my shopping for whatever I needed.

WINN:Were there visible changes in the buildings or the roads in Provo?

HAWKE:They were pretty good. They weren't all paved at that time when we first got married. Some of them were dust roads until they surfaced them all. We used to go to Heber. We had that old car that Grandpa Hawke gave us. We'd go to Heber in it. We had a dog. We'd pile the dog in and all of the kids and we'd have to stop about every fifteen miles and put water in it. The girls laugh at that.

We went up to Heber one time to see my parents and Don took me and all the kids and two cases of raspberries for mother in that car. He dumped us all out at Heber and he went to Strawberry and went fishing. After he got through, he picked us up and brought us home. That old car was an old Hudson. That was quite an experience. We talk about that all the time.

WINN:Did you do most of your dating in Provo or in Heber?

HAWKE:I was in Heber. He used to come up there. He used to drive up there with the milk wagon. He knew a guy that drove a milk wagon. He came back and forth from Charleston to Provo and Don knew him. He would get a ride with him to go to Charleston. He and a friend of his would hitch hike from Charleston to Heber to see me and my girlfriend who went with his friend. They'd sometimes walk or hitchhike from Provo.

Then we'd come up on the old Heber Creeper too. We used to get the kids on the train. They had that old Heber Creeper and we'd put the kids on the train and go up on that and stay for a couple of days then come back. I wish it still went up and down there now. Don has got to the point where he can't drive an awful lot. His eyes are not quite as good as mine. It would be nice if we had that old train going clear up to Provo. It goes to Vivian Park, but that's as far.

Heber's a nice little town. I like that little valley. My parents are all dead now and I don't go up anymore. I have brothers and sisters that live in Heber, so we go up once in a while to see them. He doesn't drive out of town.

WINN:Did most of your neighbors build their homes around here?

HAWKE:Yes. The home next door they didn't build it. It was an older home. It was one of the oldest homes. They didn't build that. The people across the road, those homes over there have been built since we lived here. They're not as old as that one there and this one here. This house on the corner is one of the oldest homes in Provo. It was an old adobe home and they've stuccoed over it since. It's an old, old home. Most of the homes around in this area are old.

My husband used to play over on the school lot. Before that building, there was a big lot where they played ball and run, sheep, run and all those things that kids play. He lived within two blocks of where he was born all of his life. He really knows this town.

In fact they had Don and I up at the tabernacle. We used to be ushers there. We had to take out-of-state people through that would come. He knew all this area like a book because he lived here all his life. We worked there for a couple years as tour guides in the tabernacle.

The last year or so we've slowed down. We don't do quite as much. We depend on our children. They're all good to us. They come visit. They say, "Now, don't you and Daddy get out on the freeway. We'll come and take you if you need to go anyplace." They worry about us. Like they say, you worry about your kids while they're growing up and then when they get on their own, they worry about you. They take care of their mother and dad. We're grateful for that.

WINN:Thank you so much for sharing. With the New Deal, were there any projects in Provo that were part of that?

HAWKE:I think we did have quite a few projects. That was where they had the WPA. Don didn't work on it, because he had a job helping out at the mill on different projects. There was a lot of poor people. We had to do without a lot of things. We weren't what you'd call poor. I wouldn't classify us as poor. We did without a lot of things, as everybody else did. But there were a lot of people who had to do without. They didn't have jobs and things were scarce. I don't think too many tragedies went on that I knew of anyway. We had friends.

I remember when we built this house, Grandpa helped us with the money. We paid him $35 a month. Our friends up in Heber built homes at the same time and all they had to pay was $15. I said, "I think that's mean that we have to pay that much money. We don't have that much money." Don said, "Just think, we'll have ours paid for long before they do. And we did. We had ours paid for long before they did. It paid us to pay that much money.

But that doesn't sound like very much. But in those days it was a lot because our wages weren't very big. His first job he earned $30 a month. Then as he went into the mill and worked in the mill then we gradually got up where we made better wages. On $40 a month you don't do a lot.

There used to be an Allen's Market on Fifth West and we'd go up there with three dollars and come back with two big sacks of groceries. Can you imagine that. With three dollars you can't hardly buy the sack now. That's what we did. Every weekend we'd go with three dollars and buy our week's groceries. You can't go in the store with less than ten dollars in your pocket and get hardly anything now.

We do most of our shopping up here at Allen's because our daughter is assistant manager. But she's retiring this fall. Both she and her husband are going to retire. She's not old enough yet, but they're going to take an early retirement. They're tired of working.

We had a lot of sad things come our way. We had a beautiful granddaughter that was killed. Mary Dawn is the one that works at Allen's. She had four boys and one daughter. She had a boyfriend in Park City. One Saturday she went up there and stayed the weekend. On Monday she came home from Park City down around by Salt Lake. As she was coming on the freeway, some young kid came on to the freeway and hit her and she rolled and it killed her. She was a beautiful girl. And that was a tragedy. That was a terrible thing we went through. But we lived through it. It just about killed Mary Dawn.

Before that she had had a boy thrown off a horse up in Payson Canyon about two years before this. He went head first into the dirt and had brain damage. She had him to contend with when this girl was killed. This boy has been in the state mental hospital for several years. Now they've got him at home where they take care of him. One arm is paralyzed and the other is misshaped. He can't hold a job. He's in their home and they're taking care of him. He's happier there where he knows what is going on. He can talk to you intelligently. His words are slurred. When he walks it's like he's drunk. That's been an awful tragedy that we've had in our life.

Our oldest daughter we worried about because she had breast cancer. She's been going through that. That's just been in the last few years. Everything that we have had has not been rosy. We've had our sad things along with the glad things. She had chemotherapy. Now she's taking radiation and we're very hopeful. She's never lost her beautiful spirit. Whenever we call her, she sounds bubbly like she always has. We just got a letter from her yesterday and she says she's coming along fine.

Her friend that was up in Seattle, who is a scoutmaster, went coasting with the boys and he was coming down the hill and it was snowing and blowing, so he pulled his cap down over his face. He ran into a snow bank and they thought it broke his neck. Later on they found it wasn't a broken neck, it'd broke down farther. He's been in very serious condition. We got a letter from her yesterday and she says Kyle is doing well. He's up and able to walk around now. He's coming out of it. He's not in so much pain. So, we've had our good times and bad times.

You have to go on. You can't curl up and die no matter what comes to you. Sometimes even though you feel like it, you just can't. You have to go on and face the problems that the Lord sends you.

WINN:Have you ever had real bad storms, or has weather changed in Provo?

HAWKE:Yes, we did have a bad storm here. We were sitting out in this carport when it came on. It just hit one time. It just blew and blew so hard. It blew pine trees down over through there and up through here, great big pine trees that had been there for years blew done. It was an awful thing. It only lasted about fifteen minutes and then it was gone. It came through here. Pines took the roofs off some of the homes down in this area and trees were down all over.

We've had snow. It would slide up our roof, because we had the roof put on. The snow would slide and sometimes the snow was high as that window. It would pile up. We've had severe winters years ago. But the last few years have been mild. In Heber, when I was a girl we walked over the top of the fences the snow was so deep. They don't have that kind of weather up there anymore. Things have changed. Last year I don't think we got more than six inches of snow the whole winter long. We have had bad storms here, but nothing that we couldn't cope with. We've had to dig out and shovel out. We haven't got a snow blower. The last few years we've had good neighbors around in the ward who come and shovel snow for us, what little that we've had. That hasn't been much.

It's been a good life. I've had a good life. I've really been blessed. The Lord heard my prayers and gave me some children. I said to Don, "Just think, if we didn't have any children, what will it be like when we get old. We won't have anybody to take care of us." But they're all great to us. I couldn't ask for a better life. All my friends in Heber are dead. We'd go to Heber and go up and see all my friends. The last ten years they've all died. We feel like we've been blessed to still be hanging around.

Don and I served a stake mission too, around here. We taught quite a few non-members around. I don't think there's any on this block. There is one across the road. There are several in this area and in the stake. They have stake missionaries all the time. There's quite a few. Don served two stake missions. He served a stake mission and had another partner, then he and I served a stake mission, besides the one that we served in Sherman, Texas. They need missionaries around here to contact the people.

Like the Spanish people, I don't think they go to church. I don't think they're affiliated with any church. People on the corner here, her parents moved to San Diego. She lives in the home with her husband and she has some children. Her husband picked up and left her, so she's living in that great big house alone. She was baptized in the Church, but since then she's joined the Baptists and she goes with them to church. We went over and tried to talk to her, but she said she didn't want to hear anything about it. She's content where she is. She's satisfied. She didn't want to talk to us. That was kind of sad. She's a nice young girl, but kind of bitter with the way her husband has treated her. She takes good care of her children. I don't know whether she's married now or not, but some man comes there. She's not very friendly with anybody around. I don't know whether she's married or not, but she's a nice little girl.

The people next door are LDS but the couple that bought this home are not active. The grandmother that lives there with them goes to church, but they don't. I go visiting teaching there. She got to the point where she didn't even want a visiting teacher. So the grandma comes over here and I teach her here. You have some people who are kind of bull headed and they don't want to be talked to. You have to learn what people are like and act accordingly. You can't push anybody into anything.

Last week we had our anniversary party over here. I'm 86 years old and I was the one that showed some films of the Relief Society sisters down through the years. I was the narrator. I still take part in things. I still take the homemaking lesson in Relief Society. I've taught all the lessons. I've taught spiritual living and homemaking and just about all the lessons in Relief Society one time or another. I try to keep active. Both of us do. That's the only way you can keep young or keep going. You can't stay home and rock in the rocking chair all the time.

WINN:Thank you so much. Is there anything else that you'd like to add?

HAWKE:I can't think of anything else. I know the gospel is true and I believe that this Church is true and it was founded by a prophet and that we have a living prophet today. I'm sure of all that. I know that. I have a testimony. I always have. That keeps us going. When we get in trouble we pray. That's the best thing. When I get sick I have Don give me a blessing and that helps.

Those are the things that are important in your life. Material things don't amount to a hill of beans, but it's the spiritual things that keep you young and keep you going and help you to be good parents and grandparents and great grandparents. We have 28 grandchildren and 34 great grandchildren. We've got quite a family. When we all get together which we do once in the summer, then at Christmas time, we have to hire a hall. There's so many of us. The Lord has been good to both of us. I'm thankful for that. That's about all I can say.

WINN:Thank you very much.

Interviewee: Blanche Hawke
Interviewer: Jennifer Winn
March 27, 1999

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