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Historic Provo

Oral History of Don Hawke


HAWKE:That's quite a job. That makes you glad that you live nowadays so you didn't have to worry about thinning beets.

WINN:What other kind of work did you do?

HAWKE:I enjoyed shop and nature and classes of that nature. When I was growing up I kind of wanted to go to the AC and go in forest service work. I and my friend went to California to a diesel school. These gimmicks. They promise you and it's the same today. They promise you big things and in reality it's just a money making gimmick. The only way you can do it is go to school and get your education. That's the important thing. Some of these fly-by-night schemes to get you to do things don't work out too good.

WINN:On the same subject, I'm sure you've seen Provo grow a lot. How has Provo changed in the years you've been here? What are some of the memories you remember of buildings that used to be important that now no longer exist or vice versa?

HAWKE:There was two prominent pool halls on Center Street. One called Smits and one called Bullocks. They were full of smoke.

When I was younger, I had to get up and milk two cows and walk from my home at 8th West to upper campus at BYU for an 8:00 class. And I had to walk. I could walk faster than some of the cars would go. I had shop classes and things of that nature. I was a cabinet maker. I worked for a place called the Old Smoot Lumber and Tri-state Lumber and Ferry's Mill. I worked in a mill making furniture, making sashes and doors. In those days there was lots of work to do about making windows and doors and things for building. I built my own. I'd come home at night. It paid for this home.

But we had a lot of free time. I and my friends spent a lot of time ice skating on the lake or hunting and fishing. We built us an underground hut down on some people's place. We did some things that we should not have done. Our activity at home and in church helped us an awful lot.

WINN:How is it different here now?

HAWKE:When I was growing up the ward I lived in, the second ward was from Fifth West to the lake and from Center Street south. That was one ward. Today there are three or four stakes in the same area. My dad was a barber. He had a shop on Center Street. In fact the last shop he had, the building still stands.

WINN:Which building is that?

HAWKE:Right next to Bennetts, a little narrow shop. JCPenney's had about three or four different locations in Provo in those years. I remember there was a ferris wheel. He had that set on the corner on First West and First North. He owned the biggest part of that block right there. He would set up his carnival in the spring. ... Some of the stores

[fast forwarded for a while.]

There was an electric train that would go right down Center street and out across the river and on up to Salt Lake. That was a fun time. I feel like the development now they're kind of slow in taking care. They spent too much time in building roads for cars and not enough fast rail transports. This day and age they ought to have something better than what they have. The cars and one thing or another is causing pollution. I can't burn my fireplace now because they're afraid it's going to pollute the air. They claim that all the cars and traffic today isn't the culprit of bad air. They could do a lot better in transportation. They want more cars, more pollution. Something has to be done. If they're going to cut the pollution, they're going to have to make some other way.

I think it's kind of nice now with the bus. I can get on the bus within two blocks and I can ride to Salt Lake. I can go to the hospital. I can go to the airport on the bus. I can leave right here for 35 cents and go to Salt Lake on the bus. You can't drive a car for that.

WINN:You've definitely lived through a lot of world events. How have some of those events, for example, the Depression, affected Provo?

HAWKE:The Depression didn't really sink into me, because my dad had everything that we needed to take care of our water supply, our drinking water. Irrigation, feed for the cows, feed for the chickens, feed for us all, for all winter. We had plenty of milk. We had plenty of eggs. During the Depression it really didn't affect me. That's one thing that has scared me about the stock market. You hear the results of people losing everything they had and having to start over which was alright. But if people would cut down a little, cut out their credit cards and wanting more than they can have, more than they can pay for, and wouldn't borrow. But we seem to have to have a new car, a new boat and all the things for fun.

I think one of the sad things about the people today is they have to provide entertainment and things for themselves. When I was going to school, right out here on this corner it had a street light for years. We used to go out there, the kids all around the neighborhood would go out there and play run-sheepie-run, kick the can, or something like that. Nowadays the kids all want to sit in front of the television or the computer. They don't even want to exercise. That's the reason they get fat.

WINN:How did World War II affect Provo?

HAWKE:There again people that depended on travel, rationing of gas was hard. I had children at that time at the age that were draftable. My boss one time, we had a project. We were making Army crates for airplane engines, all kinds of crates, ammunition crates. One night shift my manager came to me one day and asked me, "Would you like a deferment? I believe I can get you one." I said, "If you can that's fine. I have a family. I won't be ashamed of it." I knew a fellow from Park City, from Heber, within a month he was dead.

We've lived in this location, this home since 1940. I remember Fourth of July celebrations. The years that I remember, the church was involved. I celebrated and we had a good, enjoyable day. I remember one Fourth of July our family got together. I wore out three ice cream freezers. I still have an eight quart ice cream freezer. We get together and make ice cream.

It's hard nowadays. Salt Lake in a descent amount of all of the problems that the freeway creates. One of the problems is they won't stop. It's closed down. You can drive out to them. It's a lot easier to get to I guess.

I used to go to all of the old movies. Rin Tin Tin, a dog. Here a while back, someone asked us to go out to the mall and the showhouse out there. The show was Water World and they talked us into going and seeing that show. You get in the show and all this loud music and it's enough to drive you up a wall. The junk in that movie. You have to watch in order to see a good movie, these scenes and crap, swearing and stuff that you don't need. We go to school, and try to teach the kids to do things right, then we turn around and go and see a show that does just the opposite. We tear things down. You fight, you go out.

WINN:This is Don Hawke. We're at his home. Today is March 27. It's just about 10:30. Thank you very much.

HAWKE:You're welcome.

[interview was 1/2 an hour, but only about 1/3 of that 1/2 hour was transcribable.]

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

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