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Historic Provo

Oral History of Carolyn Bargeron


Fuller: When was it that you lived in Provo, and how long have you lived here and when did you move here?

Bargeron: I was born in Provo, actually in Lakeview in 1940 and I lived here until 1964. I moved away and I moved back last August.

Fuller: Can you tell me a little about some of your earlier memories of Provo, what the community was like, and how it's changed during the time that you have been gone and when you came back?

Bargeron: Five million apartment houses have come in. There weren't very many apartments here when I lived here before. It was quite a bit smaller. It had grown a lot. Things have changed. All the orchards and farms are gone and there is apartments everywhere.

Fuller: How has the feeling of the community changed since you left and came back?

Bargeron: It was kind of different to come back because after being gone for thirty five years a lot has changed.

Fuller: What do you remember about your ward when you were here growing up?

Bargeron: I remember some of the kids and I remember some of the activities that we used to do.

Fuller: What was your relationship like with some of the non-members in town?

Bargeron: As far as I know I didn't know any. There were some but there is probably a lot more non-members now than there was back then.

Fuller: Did you go to high school here?

Bargeron: Yes.

Fuller: What were some of the classes that you took in high school?

Bargeron: The basic ones were English and History, the ones that are required. The requirements have changed. Back then there weren't as many required classes. I took Home Ec. Deb Tregeagle was our principal and Ladean Hayward was the dean of girls and I remember them both really well.

Fuller: Are there any teachers that you remember really well?

Bargeron: I remember Mr. Waite. I remember Mr. Slack. I had him the year he retired. Mrs. Michelson I remember was the Home Ec. teacher and clothing teacher.

Fuller: What were some of the activities that you were involved in when you were growing up here?

Bargeron: I was involved in pep club and I guess that's probably about it.

Fuller: Where was the school building located that you went to?

Bargeron: It was down where the library is the first year I went to school. Then the year that the new Provo High School was built was the year that we moved in there. My class was the first class.

Fuller: Has that building changed a lot since you've been here?

Bargeron: Yes, it has.

Fuller: What are some of the changes that you have seen in that building?

Bargeron: They have added on a lot. They have added on most of the north end, the swimming pool and the rec rooms and all those things.

Fuller: Going back a little further what were some memories of junior high?

Bargeron: Actually I didn't go into junior high here. Well I did. I went to Farrer Junior High one year. I moved back here in the middle of the year because we had moved away and been away for a couple years. That was in the middle of eighth grade and then in ninth grade. I went to the school in Springville for junior high.

Fuller: What about elementary school? Do you have any memories from your elementary school that you would like to share?

Bargeron: I went to Timpanogos School and the first memory I have is the kindergarten room. I was in a round room and that was a really big event back then to get the round room. That building has changed a lot too. On the south end of the building by the round room there used to be grass and a play ground area and they had swings. One of the main things that we liked to do at recess was to swing. They had big trees out by the street. We used to see if we could swing high enough to touch the branches of the trees with our feet. Sometimes we could.

Fuller: Growing up here as a young adult and teenager, what were some of the hang-outs you went to or some of your dating and dancing experiences?

Bargeron: It was mostly school dances and church dances that I went to. I don't remember any specific hang-outs where we went. I'm sure there were some for other kids.

Fuller: Did they have a lot of school dances when you were in school or has that increased?

Bargeron: I don't know, because I don't know what they do now.

Fuller: It seems like they have one every weekend.

Bargeron: That's more than we had. We just had a few. We had some real special ones like homecoming and preference and prom. There were a few other ones too. If they have them every week, they have more than we did.

Fuller: How have some of the businesses and shops around here changed?

Bargeron: Most of the things were on Center Street back then. Center Street has changed tremendously. A lot of the businesses that were there are gone. Center Street didn't used to have parking in the middle. It was just a big wide street. It had parking on both sides, but none of the islands in the middle of the street.

Fuller: How have the shops on that street changed?

Bargeron: Most of them aren't there anymore. There is a few that are still there like B & H Pharmacy. Mullet Jewelry is still there. Heindselmans' has moved a couple of times. They're not in the same place they used to be years ago. They're still in business. We had three movie theaters. They're pretty much gone.

Fuller: How has the development of shopping malls and strip centers impacted your life as living here in Provo?

Bargeron: I don't know that they really did. I don't shop that much. I'm not a big shopper. I don't have too much time to go do that stuff.

Fuller: When you lived here in Provo, did you have a job?

Bargeron: I did.

Fuller: Where did you work at?

Bargeron: I worked at Kresses. It was a five and dime store similar to Woolworths which is gone too. Both of them are gone. They were both down on Center Street. Penney's was down on Center Street. They were in a row on Center Street. They're all gone. I worked at Penney's for a little while too.

Fuller: What did you do there?

Bargeron: I was a clerk. At Kresses I worked at the candy counter and then I also worked in the office.

Fuller: Did your family live here during the Great Depression?

Bargeron: No, they lived in Arizona at that time.

Fuller: What are some of your earliest memories of political events that were occurring while you were growing up?

Bargeron: I don't remember too many political things. I can't think of anything specifically. World War II impacted us only in the fact that my brothers went. I had two brothers that went. I was young enough when they left that I didn't hardly know them when they came home. It was interesting to have them come home. They were strangers to me because I was so young when they left.

Fuller: What are some of your memories of how the community reacted to the Korean War?

Bargeron: I don't remember too much about that either, except that my brother went to that conflict. He was in the Navy during that time.

Fuller: What about the Vietnam War?

Bargeron: I wasn't here during that war.

Fuller: What about the start of the cold war between the United States and the Soviet Union and the build up of arms. How did the community as a whole react to that threat?

Bargeron: I wasn't here for a lot of that either. I don't know how Provo did react.

Fuller: Are there any other memories of Provo that you can think of that you'd like to share?

Bargeron: I guess not. BYU grew a lot.

Fuller: How has that impacted the community as a whole?

Bargeron: I think it's impacted it a lot. A lot of the apartments are for BYU. And UVSC has grown a lot too. It's changed. The campus is a whole new area. With both of those schools growing bigger that's brought more people in to the community.

Fuller: Do you think that's been a benefit to the community or a detriment to the community?

Bargeron: I guess in some ways both.

Fuller: What brought you back to Provo after all these years?

Bargeron: Our youngest son is a quadriplegic and he decided that he wanted to go to school at BYU. When he graduated we decided to come here. My husband was retired and he decided to come too.

Fuller: How does he like BYU?

Bargeron: So far so good.

Fuller: Thank you so much for your time. I appreciate you letting me come into your home and ask you some of these questions to find out a little more about Provo.

I don't know if I explained what this project is. It's the Provo City Sesquicentennial project. They're going around and talking to some long time residents of Provo to find out a little bit about what Provo used to be like and some of their memories and the impact of different events on the city of Provo. This tape will be typed up and a manuscript will be sent to you so you can read it and make sure that you agree with everything that you said and to make sure something didn't come out wrong that you want to change.

They will be compiled and placed in a section of the new Provo library once it's completed. It will be the oral history section of the Provo City Library. You're really helping to give use a better understanding of what Provo used to be like and some of the changes that have occurred in the city in the past several years.

What do you remember about some of the celebrations that occurred like the fairs, the holidays, and the parades?

Bargeron: I did go to the state fair a few times and that was always fun. That was a treat to do those things. Back then people didn't travel a lot and they mostly just stayed home and worked. I remember the Fourth of July was always one of our favorite celebrations because they always had such a big parade, and big carnival. They used to block off the west end of Center Street and have the carnival set up on Center Street down by Fifth West down by the park. In that park they would have all the booths with people selling things. Now they have it on the courthouse lawn. But back then they had it down in that park. It was mostly the different wards in the area that provided the things that were sold at those different booths.

Fuller: So the wards were a lot more involved in the community back then?

Bargeron: Yes, I think they probably were.

Fuller: What do you think contributed to that change with the wards not being as involved?

Bargeron: I think as far as the things for the booths the church has come out with a statement that they don't want you spending your time doing those kinds of things anymore. They want you to do other types of things.

Fuller: So you think church policy has affected the way that the wards interact with the community?

Bargeron: I think they have. Although I think that some of the things that go on now are more important because most of the wards now are involved in humanitarian service. I think that's probably a lot better time spent than just making things to sell. Back then the budgets for the wards were handled a lot differently and that's one of the ways they made money to run the wards and to fill their budgets. It was kind of a different change.

Fuller: You mentioned that people were really excited to go to carnivals. Now it's kind of a big thing because they work all the time and they stayed home and worked. Do you think the work ethic has changed for the people here in Provo?

Bargeron: I think that the work ethic has changed almost everywhere. I think a lot of people feel like they can get by living on welfare. I think that there are too many people that think that's the way to go. I can understand that in a way too because I understand how people if they don't have enough income and around there they don't make very much money. The income level in Utah is very low compared to other states and so people if they have got large families they can't support their families on the wages they make around here. They live on welfare. If the welfare system in the country were different and we used it as a supplement instead of an either or. You're either on welfare or you're not on welfare. If they would change the welfare system and say, "We'll help you until you can take care of yourself." But they don't.

That has made a lot of difference in the way families live. They can't live on the wages they make and so they go on welfare and welfare won't let you make any money. They're stuck. Generations are on welfare and that isn't the way it should be.

Fuller: Thank you so much for your time I appreciate meeting with you and talking to you.

Interviewee: Carolyn Bargeron
Interviewer: Marcia Fuller
July 19, 1999

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