WINN: Today is June 26, 1999. This is Jennifer Winn and I'm interviewing Celia Luce. Celia, how long have you been here in Provo?
LUCE: Most of my life. I spent four years in Blanding and one year in Bear River City teaching. Other than that I was right here in this neighborhood.
WINN: Where were you born?
LUCE: I was born over on Fifth West. We lived on Sixth West. We built on my parent's cow pasture after the roads and things were going through this whole area. When I was a child there were a few farmers. We knew practically everybody from the end of the street up to Twelfth North. There was so few of them and there were not many renters that moved in and out. Where our house is was down in fields.
Just north of where I live now was the ice company. They had built a huge ice pond and in the summer it was empty and we kids played here a lot. In winter they would turn the stream into the ice pond and freeze it. Then they would cut it into big blocks and store it in a couple of huge ice barns that were on the east side of the property. They would cover it with saw dust and that lasted all summer for people's ice boxes. A company bought them out that was making ice from tap water. Then it was just a sort of a place for us kids to play. Somebody would rent it for their cow, because most people had cows. In the winter Provo City would fill the ice pond with water for the city skating rink. In spring there was the biggest violets that you ever saw growing in the swamps.
We had a lot of fun running up and down the hills. I think it was in 1940 and they scrapped it back and leveled it off and built homes on it. The rest of the area around here was just farmer's fields. Around our neighborhood it was mostly Knudsens. There were springs. When they put the sewer down Fifth West they had to put a drain in. They drained all the springs so there weren't any more springs. Goldie Knudsen's had springs that would water his pasture and the cows had plenty of water and plenty of fresh grass because of the spring. Most of our neighbors at that time were farmers. My father taught at BYU. B.F. Larsen was my father.
WINN: Where did you go to school?
LUCE: Timpanogos. There was a Timpanogos School, but it wasn't the Timpanogos School that is there now. It was a much older building. It was torn down. The traffic was not so heavy when they built the second school until they built it next to the sidewalk. Now all that traffic is a real problem in school with the noise. If they had only built it over on the other side of the school grounds there would have been no problem. We didn't know the growth would create the problem.
The neighborhood here was built up during the depression. The early forties was still in depression. All of the houses that were built down here on Sixth West when they finally had them built were mostly nice homes. There were some too, that were more or less shanties, just something to live in. Most of those went pretty soon and they built better homes or sold them for apartments.
I mentioned cows. Nearly everybody had a cow or two. The city owned the property down by Eastbay and all through there. It was pastures and all they had where main part of Eastbay is, was the first ward pasture. The third ward pasture, our ward, was west near where the radio tower is. In the morning everybody had to help, because in the morning the young boys would start gathering up the cows and drive them along Fifth West. Sixth North and Sixth West was not a street there. They'd take them along down sixth west across the tracks. Then in the afternoon you had to go get the cows. You had to have a fence around the place because other than that the cows would come grazing in. They would really wreck the garden or the flowers.
By the way, the first ward pasture was the first place I saw an airplane. I understand it was the second one that had ever come to Provo. It was on the Fourth of July and I was supposed to be in the parade. I was dressed in a Japanese costume sitting in the little red wagon and my two older brothers Rex and Eugene were pulling the wagon. An airplane came over and word went that it was going to land in the first ward pasture. My two brothers took off with me in the wagon dragging along behind them. Away we went down to the first ward pasture. Everyone stood around and stared in awe at that airplane. It was actually flying. A few years after that an airplane would fly over us. Most of them made enough noise there was no doubt as to what it was and kids would come out, "Aeroplane. Aeroplane." Everybody would come out to see. It was the first of several. Nobody worries about it anymore. I remember what a thrill it was for an airplane to fly over. My oldest brother Rex Larsen made a beautiful model of the airplane that came down in the first ward pasture.
The first ward pasture became the place where you could hold most anything especially after it quit being a pasture for the cows. The area was very different. I mentioned Goldie Knudsen. His brothers owned the property between Fifth West and the river. Then when World War II came along and housing was at such a low, Goldie dug himself a crew and turned construction boss. His mother would get the money for the lot, and he would get the money for the house. Most of the houses in our ward were built by Goldie. Finally he got property and built them on some of the other farmer's property too. He turned from farming to construction and it was a good thing.
I went to Timpanogos School and it was a two story old fashioned building. The fifth and sixth grades you could draw sliding doors between them to make an auditorium. We didn't worry about it very often. I remember once or twice. Then there was no Dixon or Farrer or any of the other junior high schools. Downtown on the block where the city building is was the old junior and senior high school. The senior high building was on the east part of the block and the junior high building on the west part of the block. They were sort of together for a good part of the day. The seventh and eighth grade was the junior high. Then ninth, tenth, eleventh, and twelfth was the senior high. They didn't call it middle school at that time. Then they built the Dixon and Farrer Junior Highs because they really were getting crowded in the senior high. They could use the extra space. Then they built Provo High School. In the old building there was not room for the students.
There was very little playground outside. The football team would go down to North Park to practice after school. North Park was a good part of our growing up here. There was not a pioneer museum on it. They had more playground equipment. The thing that we liked best was the merry-go-round. It had a tall pole with metal chains coming down and you would grab a handle on the end of a chain. Everybody would go round and round. If you get going fast enough you could almost have your feet off the ground. But that was a dangerous thing because of those metal handles. People got hurt on them. Usually if the circus came to town the circus was at the North Park on the east side. We were close when the circus came.
I remember the Fourth of July celebrations in the ballpark. Everybody did it in. One year on the Fourth they had the nicest celebration. They built two platforms and put a sheet all along the front of the platforms. Then they have a sea battle with the rockets going in the air and reflected in the lake. It was beautiful.
WINN: What kind of activities were you involved in during junior high and high school and elementary school?
LUCE: In elementary school we were involved in our own activities. There was no television. You joined in games and a lot of the games at that time were singing games. One of our games was "Here comes the dukes a riding, riding, riding. Here comes the duke a riding. Dance and dance and sit by the king." or "I am here to get married, why don't you take me sir. You're all too dirty and greasy. We are just as clean as you are. Then fairest one that I can see is dear little, and mention their name." Then, they'd join the other side. Then the other side would choose somebody. I don't know why we felt that was fun but we had a lot of fun playing. There were a lot more singing games than I noticed when I was teaching. It was not necessarily a teacher teaching the games. It was something like that last year. We never had the teacher teaching it. Somebody just came up with that one.
WINN: Very creative.
LUCE: You had to make your own fun. I remember my father had made me a little cupboard. It didn't have doors on. It was just the shelves. It was the best thing for playing flower dolls. We made hollyhock dolls and other flower dolls. Hollyhock buds made wonderful heads for dolls. You see where the two eyes are then it might have red hair or purple hair. It was a big deal. We had flower dolls. We girls would play house. We would have big rocks or sticks or something and outline our house, so we would go ahead and play. Sometimes we would play like big girls going out on dates. Sometimes we were playing with the dolls and we had our young families. Playing house for girls was a lot.
We had our own apple tree on our property. It was about as big an apple tree as I have ever seen. That was our special play place. The neighborhood gathered at the little old apple tree. Boys climbed the limbs and the girls did sometimes too. It was a favorite spot.
We played baseball but not the way it is played now. Very often it was a board for a bat or a rubber ball for the baseball. If there aren't enough to make up the two teams, they would play One-o-Cat. Two people could play that. You would toss the ball and the batter had to hit it far enough so that he could get to base, and back home again before he was either touched with the ball or crossed out, where we would throw the ball in front of it. And then that changed. Usually it was better with three with a catcher, so there weren't as many balls that had to be chased. We had a lot of fun in those days with playing.
At school too, we played work-ups. We didn't have the two teams but you had a lot more students that would want to play. We had enough for the base men. Once there were two batters and one batter had to hit it far enough so that he could get to first base and then had to get around and back to home before the other batter got out. If the other batter had batted the ball and they got home before you got back, you were out. The catcher would go up to batter, the pitcher would become catcher, the first baseman would become pitcher and so on. It was fun. There weren't any special ball players.
WINN: How was your family and how was Provo affected by the depression?
LUCE: We weren't especially. My father taught art at BYU. He was head of the art department for seventeen years there. We had a job. That doesn't mean that we were rich or anything of the sort. Dad made two trips to Europe to study art. Each one really paid off in improving his painting. He started out in the training school in arts and crafts as a teacher and ended up in the other. But those two trips to Europe really made a difference. But they cost money which meant that we had to live very frugally. There just was not money for extras. My mama could squeeze a penny like you wouldn't believe.
Some of our neighbors had a really rough time. I had one girlfriend whose folks had moved to Provo just before the depression hit. They sold their farm to come out because their one daughter had scarlet fever and she had a crossed eye. They were here, because Drs. Merrill and Oaks were some of the best in the western United States on eyes. They corrected her eyes. But he figured he'd get a job and there was no problem. But the last man hired was the first man fired. I know they really had a problem just to survive during the depression. With a lot of the others there was a real problem.
One lady was telling me her husband took a job as a mailman. He wanted something that would be safe, something that he wouldn't be fired on. But she said that they had reached a point during the depression where they were completely out of food. He decided to go and pan gold and get some money. In the mean time the kids were getting really hungry. They were crying and the lady next door found out about it. She kept bringing food until her husband would send some money to her. And there were a lot of things like that. Then he got a chance to get a job as a postman. That was security.
WINN: How about FDR's programs? Did they help out any? Did the programs he had for bettering the economy effect Provo?
LUCE: There were a lot of programs for poor at that time. The young boys and the teenage boys very often would take off to see if they could get some job somewhere to help their families. They rode the railroad and hitchhiked and would go from place to place. Some of those young men were very fine men. It turned out to be there were two that I know that were on the road as teenagers. One was a member of the bishopric. The other was the same type of individual. They started the Civilian Conservation Corp, the C.C.C. They took these young men and put them to work on public projects. Eventually they got the relief so that nobody was starving anymore. I know they weren't starving, but they were almost.
WINN: Just barely making it.
LUCE: Most of the people in our neighborhood though had a cow, chickens and a big garden. You just about had to.
WINN: What about with the entrance of World War II? How did that affect your family and Provo?
LUCE: In 1940 we were married. My husband had a teaching job down in Blanding. One way that the depression affected us was we could have one job per family. The married teachers were all fired. That was to be one job per family. It should be the man handling the job. After I got married I couldn't teach. In fact my contract stated when I was teaching at Spring Lake just two years before I was married, that if I got married that ended the contract.
WINN: That's very different from what it is today.
LUCE: We were down in Blanding when we heard about it. It was hard to get radio in the middle of the day. The folks upstairs had a stronger radio. There were three apartments in the house we were in. They got the word about Pearl Harbor before the rest of us. It made this difference. My husband and I both liked fourth grade. The last year we were in Blanding, the baseball coach had been drafted. So they didn't have any coach. The principal of the high school and his wife were some of our dearest friends. He persuaded my husband to teach high school. He did not like high school. That was one of the most miserable years that he had. One thing was they had no coach. They had him taking pictures for the year book. He decided that was enough of that and he got a job in Alpine District.
During World War II they asked me if I would teach. During the war you had to do what you could. I went back into teaching also. They had a nursery for working mothers. It was run by the government and it was excellent. He got some good training while we were both away teaching. Then after the war ended so did the nursery. My sister in law said just drop him off. It was a good training for him in getting along with others. He had been an only child. He was nearly seven when my daughter was born.
The depression made a big difference in a lot of ways. With us it was mainly gas. We were down in Blanding and miles from anywhere. My husband had taken up photography and writing as a summer job. He was selling articles and pictures. But when you can't get the gasoline to get out and take the pictures, he still went out taking pictures around the town, but he couldn't take trips to get pictures.
I have a ration book still. They had so many for each thing. We got along alright. Grease and lard was in short supply. You turned the fat into the grocery store and they used nitroglycerin for explosives. Your spare fat you would turn into the grocery store and they turned it over to the government for fat for the nitroglycerin. There were several things for sugar. We were short on some of the things but we made do. You had to do. The things that were in short supply were shared. That was one of the ways of getting it.
WINN: How did you and your husband meet?
LUCE: It is a long story. If my brother, Rex had not met his wife, and if he and Eric hadn't met, we wouldn't have met. Rex and Mary were living in a three room home next to us. Her niece was nearly as old Mary. She came to Provo to see her fiance. She brought her sister along with her. My husband was the fiance's roommate. He came to see this sister. My brother Ron was two years ahead in school. He had not dated much but now the girls his age were coming to the Y and he wanted to date. He asked me if I would go to the Y dance with him, so that he could see how things were done before he asked a girl. The whole bunch of us including Rex and Mary were going up to the Y dance. We were remodeling the house and the upstairs bathroom was not finished. I took a bath in the downstairs bathroom. I was wearing an old house dress as a robe and stepped out in to the kitchen. All of the old bathrooms were hooked to the kitchen because that's where the water was. I got into the kitchen and there was this strange young man getting a drink of water. He said, "Hello," and I said, "Hello," and I fled. Before the evening was over he and I were together.
WINN: What kind of activities did you do as dates?
LUCE: We went to dances. At the dance the couple had a dance card and you would trade dances with other couples. We would write the number of the dance that we traded with. Some dances didn't go in couples. You had to fill the dance card up. You would dance the first and last and some in the middle with your boyfriend you had come with. Mostly it was trading and it went very well.
WINN: How long after you met your husband were you married and where were you married?
LUCE: It was five years. He was not a member of the Church and I didn't want to marry outside the Church. So I kept things calm. We were good friends. He would call around when he came to town. He had been engaged to a friend of mine and when I found out that he had broken up with his girlfriend and that he had joined the Church, then I started chasing him. We were so well suited for each other. We both had writing as a hobby. We had both felt almost the same way. We had very little adjustments to make when we got married and we had a good marriage. I'm just looking forward to getting back together with him again. I'm not worried about death. I just figured that gets me back with my sweetheart again. I come from a long-lived folks. Dad was eighty seven and mother was ninety and so I'm not figuring it's going to be too long.
WINN: How did he feel being a non-member before he joined the Church. Did he ever feel that he was not part of Provo?
LUCE: He was from Price.
WINN: Did he feel any pressure or did he feel uncomfortable because he was not a member of the Church?
LUCE: When he joined the Church the folks had not been trying to push him into it. His mother was LDS but his father was not. I think he sort of wasn't pushed into anything. You didn't push my husband. He had a mind of his own. That doesn't mean he was dictator or anything of the sort. We talked things over. He was very individual. During our first year of marriage one evening we found ourselves yelling at each other. That was not like us. The next morning he sat me down at the kitchen table and said, "Look, this must never happen again. Let's analyze what happened." It was a lot of little things, stupid things that we were ashamed to even bring up. We decided from then on that if something the other did was bothering us, for heavens sakes tell them kindly about it. It didn't mean they had to change it. It just meant that our feelings were out in the open. So we could agree to disagree and respect the other's opinion. But it was the best. Things that bother you are usually really stupid. You hesitate to bring them up because it is so silly. When you bring them up they sound even sillier. So you get through most of them.
WINN: You mentioned that both you and your husband liked to write. What was your outlet?
LUCE: Mine was mostly in the Relief Society Magazine with little short thoughts. He did a little of everything. With his pictures he did travel articles. He did cowboy stories. When the western story was at its peak he sold a lot of western stories. He did articles on most anything. It was really handy to have a husband to illustrate what you were writing.
WINN: Was he artistic as well?
LUCE: He did very well with his writing and photography. In fact after his death we had a big box in the basement. We stored his writing and copies of what he did and took them to the Y archives. These were extra pictures. We both wondered what on earth we would do with all those pictures after he died. They went up to the archives if they wanted them. They did. Most of his pictures are now in the BYU archives. But I have a box full behind your chair there of things that got promised to others and I have to tell them to come pick up another box on Friday.
My husband did some books. We mostly did two fourth grade level books. We did two social studies books. Fourth grade did not have any social studies books at all. Down at Blanding he was supposed to teach the state history. He ran out of state history in a hurry. There wasn't even a book for the teacher on state history. He was supposed to teach it. He did some marvelous work with the community work. He got access to some of the old journals. He made a good thing out of it. He wrote Timmy and the Golden Spike and all the others for Deseret Book, except Jim Bridger and Lou Gherig. He did those for Garrard Publishing.
WINN: So both of you have written fiction and non fiction?
LUCE: The non fiction was Utah books. I helped on that one. Anything either one of us wrote could almost have both our names on. It was nice to have somebody go over your work and say, "Now you didn't make this clear. You need to change things here a little bit."
WINN: That's really good that you could take that criticism.
LUCE: I could do the same for him. I proofed his work and went over to check on spelling mistakes. He had a hard time proofing his own work. I'd make a notation of things that needed to be changed. We did put both of our names on several of the books. He did the main part of the writing on books with both our names on. We could put both names on almost anything either one of us wrote. It worked really well.
As a child I was going to be a writer. I did articles and short stories for the Relief Society Magazine as filler if they had space. I even hit the Reader's Digest with one. In 1954 I had one published in the Relief Society Magazine. About three years ago I got a call from the Reader's Digest. They said that they had picked up a chart of mine from the National Enquirer of all places. Somebody had copied that Relief Society Magazine and sent it into the National Enquirer. Reader's Digest picked it up from there. They paid eighty dollars for it and I am still getting money from my husband's agent for the pictures they have. With that it raised me to a different level on income tax and I ended up with five dollars. I just think that it adds to the story.
WINN: What was the story that sold to the National Enquirer?
LUCE: It was the one where you pick up a rock or pebble and you hold it right against your eye and it fills the whole world. But you hold it out at arms length and or down on the ground it assumes its proper place. Troubles are like that. A trouble can seem like it fills the whole world but you need to get in it's proper perspective so that you can really look at the problem and see what can be done.
WINN: I think Elder Scott borrowed that from you too.
LUCE: He did it but I don't think he borrowed that from me. He did it several years later then mine. It was back in 1954 I believe. I have always been kind of philosophical about life.
WINN: In your overall general perspective, how do you find that Provo has changed over the course of your life?
LUCE: Completely. For instance before World War II my aunt and uncle had lived in a mining town and they wanted to retire in Provo. They bought up a lot up on Sixth East and Eighth North and they wanted to build their house there. Their credit was good. There was nothing wrong with anything there, but the bank wasn't sure they wanted to lend money for a house that far out of town.
WINN: That far out of town?
LUCE: That far out of town, Eighth North and Sixth East. They lent them the money and the house is there. The last time I went to see my cousin who is living in the house now, I had to park inside their lot. Our area is a good example. The old houses are gone and apartment houses take their place.
WINN: Has the power plant always been here?
LUCE: No, it was built in the thirties or forties. It was really in use and could provide the power for Provo when it was built. Provo originally sold the power. Now look what happened to our area thanks to Goldie Knudsen. Those houses were well built houses. Not many of those have been torn down. I can't think of any that have, actually. As a child it was just the fields behind and boys went swimming down in the river. There had been a rock crusher there for a while and it made a hole that made a good swimming pool. The boys didn't wear anything when they went swimming. No girls went anywhere near. But it was far enough out that there was no problem.
WINN: Did you use the lake a lot in your recreational activities?
LUCE: Oh yes, we used to go swimming in the lake when I was a teenager. When I was little, it didn't make much difference because I was twelve before we got the Model T. Ford. Naturally we didn't go that far. I remember them telling about a little small railroad that went down to the lake there. They built a boat harbor. The city did that as a recreational area and then the state took over. After we got a car we used to go to the lake a lot. In the summer, we'd have our swimming clothes under our other clothes and just strip the others off when we got there and go swimming. Then we'd come home in our swimsuits. We had a lot of fun. It was too shallow for much swimming. They deepened the boat harbor. There was a sandy beach there where the state park is now. There were those long peers out and sandy beaches. In the winter they used it for ice skating.
WINN: It has changed a little bit. Is it as used now as it was in the past?
LUCE: The ice skating rink is down there. I don't know how many go skating on it. Actually it is very dangerous for skating because there were hot springs in the lake and if you were skating very far out, you could hit a hot spring and go under.
WINN: While you were raising your children what were the activities that they were involved in?
LUCE: They would go swimming at the North Park. It was ditch water when I was a child. I'm not sure how safe it was but we had a lot of fun. Three days a week were for girls and the other three days were for the boys. They used the same dressing rooms. It was icy cold. We would swim around a bit and sun bathe. Our swimsuits were wool and wool doesn't feel cold when you get out. The swimsuits hold the heat of your body heat in. It feels cold in the water but it takes a while to warm up.
WINN: Wasn't it itchy?
LUCE: I don't remember itching bad. There were other swimming places around the valley. There was Saratoga and over in Springville they had one there. There was another one over in Benjamin where there were warm springs. We were told there was volcanic material under us because of the warm springs in the area.
The Indians spent the winter over on Utah Lake on the other side of the lake, because there was a warm spring by the shore. There was always water. It was between two hills, so they had protection from the wind. It wasn't very deep. The Ute Indians lived in this valley. They could catch fish easily. They would hold their pow wow here in our valley because there was plenty of food.
My brothers used to catch fish. They didn't use bait. They took a line with a roll of hooks down there. Then they just threw it out and tried to snag them. There was hundreds of fish. They tasted delicious but they were full of tiny little bones. You had to just about pinch each bite before so you could get the bones out. Now they're talking about putting more water in the river to save the suckers. Those were special. They aren't that good of fish. There were carp. Both of those were very good tasting. I don't know why they called them suckers. They are extraordinary fish. My brothers used to catch extra fish sometimes and sell them for ten cents a fish or there abouts. We all used to go up to the river in May. It was too cold for swimming then. The boys knew better. Us ladies went there.
There's an interesting story about Joseph Johnson who lived on Fifth West. His farm went through to the river by the park over here. The good part of the woods were Grandpa Johnson's. He owned that. He would let the boy scouts take over. They could go in there and spend a night. They would make lean-tos and pass merit badges. There was this spring there on the property so there was fresh water. The Boy Scouts used to a have a lot of fun and then the development came along and wanted to buy the property. Grandpa Johnson said, "No." He gave it to Provo City for a park and they acquired the other pieces along the river there. He could have made quite a bit of money and he was not a rich man by any means, but he gave it to the city instead for a park. It's very nice with folks living closer there with a safe place for the kids to go and play. The walk along the river is very nice.
The Snows were another interesting family. They lived in the rest home up there. It was Eastlake resident home. Erv Snow used to use a wagon and horses after all the others had quit. He was farming after most of the others had sold their land and quit. He came down Sixth West instead of Fifth West which was safer in a wagon and his wagon would be full of boys. They would come hop on and they could wagon ride. A lot of them, my son included would go work for him part of the time. He didn't pay them, they just enjoyed working with him. After his death his wife sold out to Eastlake for the rest home and she moved up to Heber. He was an interesting character. His wife was just the nicest person that I have known, a dear friend. That was another character.
You might want to interview Marie Bunnell. She was born in Provo here too, across from the hospital. She's living in our area still. She grew up here the same as I did. She could tell you a different side. Her father was a farmer.
WINN: Thank you so much for sharing with me your past and the past of Provo. It was really fascinating to learn more about the development and it's almost overwhelming to imagine the entire area was a farm because it is so well developed now.
LUCE: Well when World War II started, the housing need was suddenly great. When we moved up, the folks knew we were moving in, and there was a real old house next door to them. It went back nearly to pioneer times and they found out that it was going to be vacant so they had it held for us. One young man was very embarrassed. He was talking to my dad and said, "That house there must be a detraction to your house. You probably get very poor folks in there." Dad grinned and said, "My daughter is living there right now." There was no bathroom. The only furniture in the house was a kitchen sink. There was no stove. There was no cupboards or anything. Besides there was no bathroom, but we managed for a while. The folks next door would let us take baths over there. Eventually we moved into the little house that I was telling you about. My husband was in the Merchant Marines for a while. I moved out of that little house that was barely big enough for us. The three of us lived there until we got our home down here.
WINN: Was your home here built after the war?
LUCE: Well that's a story too. After World War II all the companies that were making war materials and building materials and they were just impossible to get. We were ready to build but then we saw an ad for a place that was to be built over in Spanish Fork. It had been a store and one of these little model homes. Then they turned it into an apartment. But there was a school in the neighborhood and they were afraid they were going to get a child. There wasn't any road on the other side of the house. We had Goldie make us a basement and we moved into the basement. It even had the false front and we have proof of that. Later we got the front part built. My husband had to get the wiring and plumbing. He just about spent the whole day going from dry goods store to dry goods store to find what he needed for everyday that he worked on it. Our daughter was born while we were here. It looked like heck. We got along. We ended up with the whole thing paid for and like we built it from scratch. We moved up the year after it got done. We were married in 1940 and I lived there [in Blanding] until 1944. Thank goodness we made the move when we did. It's generally hard to find teaching jobs in our area. But then they were searching frantically for teachers.
WINN: Did your boy have to go to Korea or Vietnam?
LUCE: No he didn't have to go to war.
WINN: Did those wars effect the economy of Provo for the people that moved here?
LUCE: There was a steel plant. The economy boomed like anything. One of the teachers told about getting twenty new students one day. A subdivision had just opened up. What do you do with twenty more students? I helped over at the Spencer School. I had taught fourth grade. I had over forty and very few materials. We didn't have duplicators like we do now. There were duplicators but not in the school. I had a little hectograph pen that had stuff like gelatin in and you could use a certain type of pencil on it and then take off about thirty copies. But I had forty kids. There was no kind of help from anybody. You were just reciting to one group or another all day long. Those top ones I'm sure were bored stiff. They'd read all the library books that we had. I told them I couldn't teach under those circumstances anymore. I said I'd have to quit. The church was next door to the school and they needed another first grade room. So the first and fourth grades went over to the church. We could only fit thirty desks in the room so I had thirty fourth graders. It was a creative group. Even the slow students were creative individuals and that was one of the best years I ever had teaching. We had to hold reading groups in the hall. They just couldn't build schools fast enough for quite a while.
WINN: Because of the steel industry?
WINN: What other things attracted residents to Provo?
LUCE: It is a beautiful place to live. It's got the university for cultural things. It's just a beautiful valley, a very special place to live. The values are good. We always have something. Wherever you go, we call it happy valley and they say it as though it is a deriding thing. But it is a beautiful valley and it's a place where an awful lot of people would like to live. There are a lot of Mormons and jobs.
WINN: I know that your father taught at BYU. What other involvement did you have with the University?
LUCE: He was head of the art department for seventeen years.
WINN: What was your involvement? Did you go to school there?
LUCE: Yes, we all knew we were going to college. It was just taken for granted. We did and we all graduated.
WINN: How about the theater and were there a lot of theatrical performances at BYU or at our other theaters in Provo?
LUCE: Yes, there were lectures and still are and concerts. There were lots of plays. The plays were put on at Room D on lower campus. It wouldn't begin to hold any group at all now. It was big enough. BYU hit two thousand when I was a freshman. That is about the size of most of the high schools around. The classes were on the lower campus. There was the Brimhall Building and the Heber J. Grant Library. That was about it. On the upper campus was the Maeser Memorial.
WINN: Did the students have to commute from one to the other?
LUCE: We had ten minutes to make it between campuses to class. The further part of campus wasn't there. I think they walk as far now between ends of the campus as they did between campuses when I was going.
WINN: Did you have to run up the hill?
LUCE: The path that goes up the hill was the road and we went up the stairs. That was the only way up on campus. Most people didn't have cars. The only fellow I knew that had a car had a bad heart. He had to have a car. Students with cars were practically unknown. This was the depression time still.
I remember in first grade Philip Knight told us that his grandfather was at the BY Training School. Philip said that his grandfather was a millionaire and we wouldn't believe him. His grandfather was. It was Jessie Knight who was such a feature in early history and helping the Y get started. We wouldn't believe him that his grandfather was a millionaire. A millionaire was fabulous. In ordinary life you didn't meet a millionaire.
The lower campus included the elementary school and high school besides the college. There was just one grade and they could control the size of the grade. The students would go to the city schools. I went to there in first grade and then they could see we were missing out on primary. She shifted us to the schools. They had two grades for each. They had twelve classrooms. It was a big high school.
WINN: Where was the location?
LUCE: Just south of the building down there. I have never been more scared in my life. It was one of these winter mornings where it's just blasting. Some of the kids were watching for cars. There weren't that many. They were doing some sliding on the road. Here came a kid who wasn't paying any attention and started sliding and headed straight for a car. He went under the car and out the back. Cars were built up higher. There was nothing the car could do. It couldn't just turn on that slick road. If they would have tried they probably would have gone over him and ended up in the gutter. He got himself a good lesson.
We slid in the winter. Kids brought their sleds and they would usually go on the sidewalk. They would just belly flop and run and then just go down on their stomach on the sleigh. We would play fox and geese on the school grounds. Sometimes the teacher would bring the class out and would play fox and geese. Then in the spring the girls had jump ropes and jacks and the boys would play tops and mumblety peg.
Every boy had a pocket knife. It was a matter of pride. But nobody ever fought with them. They were to play mumpledy peg with or to whittle with. Boys did a lot of whittling in those days. It was just a matter of pride to have a nice pocket knife. Nowadays boys won't be bothered with it. I tell folks that nearly every boy had a pocket knife. They gasp in horror. But they weren't used for fighting. They'd use fists for fighting. There was quite a bit of fighting going on. Each boy had to see who he could lick. The bigger boys supervised the fighting so you couldn't bow out. We had more fun. We had good teachers.
WINN: You have shared so much. Thank you.