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

Oral History of Earl Clark


WINN: This is Jennifer Winn. I'm interviewing Earl Clark. Earl, what are your earliest memories of Provo?

CLARK: My earliest memories of Provo...I don't know what would be my earliest memories. I guess the most awesome thing was the Provo Foundry which was right across the street. When we first moved to Provo in about 1930 we lived on First North, between Sixth and Seventh West. On the corner, practically the whole block from Center Street to First North and from Fifth West to Sixth West was the old Provo Foundry. That would be really the first thing that I really remember.

Then the Third Ward church where we lived was just across the street to the north of that. They've turned it into a restaurant since then, the Old Ivy Tower. Now it's a school that they have turned it into. Across the street to the east and the north was the old Catholic church.

We lived in four different houses. Every time we moved we stayed in the Third Ward. Eventually, our last one was up by the Timpanogos school, just a block away from it, which was one of the four grade schools in town in those days. There was the Timpanogos on the northwest side of town, the Parker School on the northeast part of town, the Maeser School on the southeast part of town and the Franklin School on the northwest part of town. They were all built about the same time. Since then they have replaced the Parker school with the Joaquin School. They tore the old Timpanogos down and built a new Timpanogos School. They recently tore the Franklin school down and built a new Franklin School.

I remember when we were in school we used to go on trips. The class would go as a group to all the different places. We went up to the fire station to see how the fire men worked. We used to go down to the Startup Candy Company and see how they made candy. We used to go down to one of the dairy farms to see how they handled their milk cows. The kids don't have these side trips now anymore and know those types of things. We also went up to the brickyard. The old Provo Brick and Tile was up on 12th North and Second West.

Second West in those days went as far as Fifth North. There was nothing between Fifth North and Twelfth North. Just a few little scattered places. Where the hospital now is, used to be an apple orchard. That's where we used to play. There was no bridges other than 12th North, which was the highway going up to Salt Lake or the Lakeview Road which was going down Center Street and you turn on Lakeview Road north. They were the only two places you could get across the river in those days.

The outer limits of town was Fifth North, the railroad tracks on the west and south and Fifth North on the north up to University Avenue and then it dropped over to Eighth North and up to Seventh East and then down to the railroad tracks.

The highway to Springville was going out Seventh East and then on out. The old Ironton Steel plant in those days was out there. There was the Creosote Plant and the Pacific States Cast Iron Pipe. Then later on Kuhnis animal products moved out there, because they wanted to get away from town. Now they're in the middle of town and everybody is trying to drive them out.

There was nothing south of the railroad tracks to speak of except the old round house and the fair grounds and the airport which was on the east of the fair grounds. During the war they turned the fair grounds into a training school. I was lucky enough to go to a couple of classes.

Up on Fifth West and Twelfth North was the old Riverside Cafe and Motel which was log cabins. Each little cabin was an individual room for this motel.

[tape interrupted]

We went on tours when we were in grade school to all the different things to see how they made different things. We went to the brick and tile to see how they made bricks and the tile. We went to the candy factory, to Startup's to see how they made candy. We went to the fire stations.

In those days there wasn't any hospital in town, other than Creer [Crane] Maternity Home which was down on University Avenue between Third and Fourth South. We didn't have any hospital at that time. The women would go down to the maternity hospital to have their babies.

In those days we had four show houses in town, the old Provo Theater that was down on west Center between Third and Fourth West. We had the Strand Theater which was between Second and Third West and we had the Uintah Theater which was just east of University Avenue on Center Street. The Paramount Theater where they used to do all their big plays and productions. They had a big thing to drop the backgrounds down for the plays they had at Paramount.

The post office was on Center Street and University Avenue. Later when they outgrew the post office there, they turned that into the Provo City Center. Then the post office moved over to First North and First West. Then Provo City took that over. Then the fire station moved from First North over to Second North and Second West. Then they moved over on First South where they are now.

The Bishop's Storehouse was on Center Street between University Avenue and First West. On the corner was the old administration building. South of that was the Eldred Apartments. In the bottom of the Eldred Apartments they had the old National Guard Armory. There is all kinds of things.

I remember when they built the first part of the hospital. The hospital was built in about three phases. They've added two or three more phases to that now. In those days Mr. Wilard had the ambulance service to haul people around. Whenever there was a wreck, he would gather them up and haul them to wherever they needed to get help. There was three or four doctor's offices in town. The one that I remember most is because I went there when I had my arm broken. It was Dr. Cullimore's office. He was on the corner of First East and Second South.

Just below that, to the west of that was a dental lab. James Parrymore had a dental lab. He was one of the first ones around here that did dental work.

Down where the post office sits on First South and First West used to be the old Utahna Dance Hall. Everybody that was old enough, that's where they went to go to the dances. In the summer time, instead of having indoor dances, they had what they called Rainbow Gardens, where there is a parking lot for BYU on the turn going up University Avenue and swing up around to the old Canyon Road. That's where the Rainbow Gardens was. That was an outdoor dance hall. There was a cafe there that they called Christmas City. They closed them down and that moved up to the mouth of Provo Canyon.

I remember real well the old interurban station. The train used to run from Payson to Salt Lake. That was our main transportation into Salt Lake because there wasn't that many buses running in those days. That's the way they drafted me into the Army. I had to ride that up. It went down through the river bottoms and the Jordan narrows going up into Salt Lake. They had to go real slow because the tracks were so wiggly that they were afraid it would bounce off the track.

I remember Strong's boat they used to have down on the lake where we'd take rides over to Bird Island. There was a big boat that Strong's had and they'd take tours over there a couple times a week out in the middle of the lake to Bird Island, where all the seagulls nested in those days.

There was the Rotisserie Drive-in on First North and Fifth West where the Mountain America Credit Union building was. I worked at Cadillac Ford which was in those days on Center Street just west of the tabernacle grounds. They turned it into a building and Woolworth's store was there. Before that Woolworth's was on the other side of the street. When they built the new building over on University Avenue they remodeled the building there and put Woolworth's in.

When they tore the urban station down they built JCPenney there. Previous to that time Penneys was down west. I was trying to think who had been in there last. It was just east of Second West on the south side of the street. JCPenney was in that. Before then they were down on west Center clear down between Third and Fourth West. Then Fletchers took over that building.

I remember when Firmages came into town. All kinds of things. I remember up on University Avenue is where Cannon Ashton had a dealership for Chevrolet cars. Then they moved from there over to the old woolen mills building. They remodeled that and Pete Ashton took it over and bought Cannon out and built the dealership where the woolen mill was.

They used to have two dairies in town. That's all there was in that town was two dairies. There was the old Utah Wasatch Dairy and the Cherry Hill Diary. My dad used to work at both of them. Then eventually the Knutsen boys down on west Center Street started a dairy. That was out on the old highway going up into Orem. They had all that property out in there. I don't know what's in there now. There's a trailer park in there. They had that whole thing clear to the river. They started milking cows and had a dairy out there.

On First West across the street from the old railroad station was the Daily Herald and the Gas Company and the Messianic Temple. Later they tore the Messianic Temple down and enlarged the gas company and put that into a parking lot. I remember on First West between Center Street and First North there used to be the armory and Eldred Apartments. On the west side of the street the bus depot was on the corner of First North and First West where the hotel now stands. That's where the buses all went. Then Greyhound moved from there. A&W Drive-In was bought by Westwoods. Westwoods must have owned it all the way along. They built a Greyhound bus depot on the back of the A&W Drive-Inn. The Trailways moved up to where the Goldsmith building is now. That was the Trailways bus depot.

I remember when they built the telephone building because I was working there. The telephone building used to be over on Center Street just west of the theater. They had to expand and moved their business office down on West Center Street. Berg Mortuary had a showroom there. When they built the new building on First North and First East, the telephone building, they combined everything back over there together, except they still had equipment in the old building. That was where the main tie in for the telephone office was. They turned that building into an abstract office now. I think it was Provo Abstract or something like that.

On Sixth South and Second East was the old ice house. They made the ice for everybody in town. Over on First North between First and Second North between Sixth and Seventh West was the old mattress factory. They made mattresses for everybody in the area. We've had cafes. We had the Kelly's Cafe that was on east Center and One West Center. We had Krip's Ice Cream. We had Calder's Ice Cream. We had all kinds of things.

The cannery was on First North and just east of the railroad tracks. We spent lots of hours canning stuff down there. I remember when they came to town and built a meat packing plant on Second West. Before that there was just a couple of meat stores in town.

Each grocery store was just small grocery stores spread around town. There was Hansens up in the north east part of town. There was the Serby Market on University Avenue and Fourth North. Maybe it was Third North. There was the Maeser Market up across the street from the Maeser School. There was the Second Ward Market down by the Franklin School. We had Mrs. Saul's grocery store over by the Dixon. There were several grocery stores all over town because we didn't have the supermarkets in those days. There was a market of small grocery stores.

When they started expanding, Haywards put in nearly the first of the big stores. They had their store on Fifth West and Fourth North and they had one on East Center Street. A Safeways came in and built the store on Fourth West and Center Street. Then from there it just started mushrooming out.

I remember Mrs. Headquist had a catering service when people would have weddings and things. She would go out and cater the weddings for them. Her catering service was on Second East and First North out of her home. I remember Madsen Cleaning. They were one of the major cleaners in town. They had their shop on University Avenue between First and Second North.

There was the Consolidated Hardware and Peck Electric and the Provo Hide and Fur, and Ahlander Hardware where they built the sheep camps. Then they went into repairing radiators and things like this.

I remember the Yellow Cab and the other cab company. The other cab company was on Fifth South and University Avenue where the moving and storage is now. That was the office for the Yellow Cab. Roley's had a cab company. They worked out of their service station on First North and University Avenue, the old Texaco Station. The cab business kind of flopped in town, because everybody had too far to go. They wanted the convenience of their cars.

The old Tri-State Lumber company was down on Sixth South and University Avenue. There was the Spear Lumber Company on Third South and Second West. Utah Timber was on Fifth North and Second West. They were all by the railroad tracks so they would have the delivery of the lumber on railroad tracks.

I used to work at Dixon Taylor Russell. All of their furniture would come in on railroad cars. They would go down for a period of time on Fifth South. They would have a site there. They would go down and unload the cars for all the furniture stores. They would deliver it out to all the different furniture stores.

I remember Mom and Dad's pies. That was one of the best places in the world to get a strawberry pie.

WINN: Those are wonderful memories.

CLARK: I remember Nortons had the produce business. They had their own trucking and so they built a tire shop on West Center Street to maintain the tires for the trucks. Right to the side of them was Jolley Tire Company. They used to compete for the rim caps on tires. We don't have those things anymore. I remember when Meadow Gold Dairy was on University Avenue. Right next door was an ice cream business to the north of it between Second and Third South.

Roberts Hotel was the only place to stay in town other than out at Wheeler's Cafe. Snow's built a motel up on Third South and Seventh East. Gradually all of the motels started coming into town.

Marsden Motors started in a service station on Third West and Center Street. They moved from there to Fifth West which later turned into Morris Motor Company. In the real early days there was the Anderson Garage and the Telluride Garage and Mitchell's Garage. These were very small shops.

When they built the motel just west of University Avenue, in back of there was a little garage. The church farm had a potato field right by the side of it. We used to go up there and work on the potatoes on the church farm.

We've had other stuff added into town as we went along. All kinds of fun stuff.

WINN: Still growing.

CLARK: I recall there was nothing above Seventh East at all, other than on Center Street. That was gradually built in. Peay's owned all of that property up on Ninth East going north. They built one of the few drive-ins. Bob Peay had a drive in up there and it's still there. His dad built the grocery store on the east side of the street. His father was a butcher in the grocery stores. He built his own grocery store when the grocery stores started going modern.

WINN: What did you like about growing up in Provo?

CLARK: I liked the girl that lived on Tenth West and Second South. I used to go down there to bother her and her parents all the time. We felt it was a good place to grow up in. In those days there were mean kids like me that used to throw tomatoes at the trucks when they went by. Everything was done on a more or less group basis.

The ward was the center of activity. In those days we didn't have an awful lot of people that weren't members of the church. There were a few Catholics that were here. There were a few Seventh Day Adventists. There was a few that belonged to the Scientology Church. They built that church up on First East and First North. They were there for years and years.

We tore down the old Messianic temple and built the telephone office on First East between First and Second North. The Smith boys were the basis for the Seventh Day Adventist church. They were doctors in town and eventually built a church up on Seventh East and between Second and Third South. There wasn't a lot of people in those days that weren't members of the church. At least the people that I knew weren't.

When they built the steel plant in 1941 and 1942 then other people started moving in town and the town started to grow. Up until then there was five or six wards in town. The first ward was was the southeast part of town. The second ward was the southwest part of town. The third ward was the northwest part of town. The fourth ward was the northeast part of town. Then they broke off from the fourth ward and they broke off the Pioneer Ward from the Third Ward and it just started expanding from there.

WINN: What were the relationships like between members and non-members?

CLARK: Everybody got along fine. I never knew anybody that I didn't like. I went to school with two or three Catholic girls and they were just as attractive as anybody else. To my knowledge there was never any problem with members and non- members of the church. Everyone got along fine. Until the forties when the town started to grow there was not very many people that weren't members of the church.

WINN: How did the Depression affect your family?

CLARK: We never got out of it. We're still poor. It made you so that you never threw anything away, as you can see in my house. Everything was precious to you. If you ever got anything you kept it forever. You can tell from my house that that's the case. You never threw anything away. The garage and my basement is clear full of junk. That's all it is is junk, but you still don't part with it.

WINN: Did your family ever have to struggle?

CLARK: I'm sure they did. I'm sure they struggled. My dad always had a job. We were fortunate that way. We never had anything to throw away. He came from a poor family and so we stayed poor forever. You had a great love for your family, your brothers and sisters. To this day I still go every day to see my sister. I had two sisters here, but one of them moved away from me. Now I just have one to go see. Everyday I have to go check on them to make sure they're alright.

WINN: How did World War II affect Provo?

CLARK: We lost lots and lots of our young men. I had the privilege of going into the service. I was in the signal corp. I got hurt when I was in basic training and have had a bad back ever since. My age weren't old enough to be in the war, but we were the first troops in at the end of the war. We all got active duty and we all went over seas and we all saw the world at Uncle Sam's expense. I was fortunate enough to go to Korea and I got to see Japan and the Philippine Islands.

When I got back from that they called me into the mission field and I went to Denmark and to Germany and went to Sweden. I got to see the other side of the world.

WINN: How was raising children in Provo?

CLARK: I was one of the few unlucky ones and we weren't able to have children. We had to adopt them. I really can't tell you other than I have a great love for children. That's the reason that every chance I get I steal somebody's kids and tend them. I'm one of the idiots of the world they say.

WINN: How old were your children when you adopted them?

CLARK: My boy was six days old and my girl was twelve days old.

WINN: Did they attend the schools around here?

CLARK: They went to Franklin and then to Provo High School.

WINN: What kind of activities were they involved in growing up?

CLARK: My daughter was involved in everything that came along. My son was rather shy and when he thought he was supposed to go to work, he mowed lawns. My daughter was in road shows and dances, everything there was. She liked to sew and so she taught her how to sew and crochet and knit.

WINN: What kind of activities did you do when you were dating your wife?

CLARK: We went to every dance that came along. After we got married we went to three dances a week. We went to a square dancing class the first part of the week and traveled all over the state square dancing. They closed down the dance halls here so we used to go into American Fork to the dance hall. We danced in the winter in the Apollo Garden and the outside dance hall in the summer time. Every Saturday night we had a stake dance. We were both involved in the MIA so we had to go to all the stake dances. On a citywide basis they were at the Bonneville Ward on First South and Ninth East. They had built that by then. We used to go up to the Joseph Smith Building on campus when they first built that. We would go to the dances because they had the church dances up there.

In those days that's all the campus was was the Brimhall building, the Maeser building and the Joseph Smith Building. There were three old buildings, then they built the Joseph Smith Building. The football field was down off the hill and the seating was on the east side of the hill up where the Smith Field House is. That used to be the football field. You used to have to get into that through an airport chute to get into the part to go into the seating for the football field.

All of the basketball games were held in the women's gym which was on Fifth North and University Avenue. That got too small. Springville had just built a new gymnasium so they used to hold the basketball games over at the Springville Gym. Then they built the Smith Fieldhouse and they put it back in there.

The campus has changed immensely in those years. I had the privilege in putting telephone in all of the buildings built up until the time they built the fine arts building. I went into the office and didn't work on anymore of the buildings. I worked on all of the buildings on campus up to that time.

I remember when the Health Center was in the Knight Mangum Building. That was the girl's dormitory up the hill at the turning point of campus on Ninth North. The health center was part of that building and the rest of it was the girl's dorm. Then they built the Health Center across the street. Now I understand they built a new Health Center up north. They hauled in the old Army barracks for temporary buildings for the college. The physical plant building was in one of those. We worked that up. They gradually replaced everything and I remember the old bookstore when they built it. I understand that it's a thing of the past and they've got the Y center.

Off campus was to the north. On Seventh East was Smoot's market. There was a cafe to the east of that, across the street south of that was a service station on the corner and Olson's Bakery and a beauty parlor. On the west side of that was where they grew iris flowers. There was a big iris patch there. Gradually that was taken over. I remember when they built the Brick Oven. That was originally a grocery store. They started making pizzas in the back part of the grocery store. On the east side was a barber shop. There was a dry cleaners pick up station there. I don't remember who the dry cleaner was for. They expanded and built on the corner for Heaps Of Pizza and tore down the grocery store. Later on they extended it and tore out the barber shop and the dry cleaning pick up area. Just a few minor things.

WINN: Did your wife ever work?

CLARK: She worked at Mountain Fuel Supply. She worked there for 21 years before she retired. She kept the records for the gas company and all the growth of the telephone company.

WINN: You're wonderful.

CLARK: Let me look at all my notes.

WINN: What were the problems facing your generation as they grew up?

CLARK: They all had to go to the war. All the boys went into the service. They all got in the service and they all took on the habits of the world. That was the big problem. Kids that I grew up with, the majority of them, kids that I went to school with were most likely in any service and came back alcoholics or into lights.

WINN: You said it was the majority?

CLARK: The majority came back that way. They picked up drinking and smoking in the service. Out of twelve kids that I went to school with, I'm the only one that stayed active in the whole bunch. Three of them ended up in the state prison and the rest were alcoholics. I was the only one that never picked up any habit.

WINN: Have they since come back?

CLARK: Some of them came back. But the majority of them never came back.

WINN: How did you get to know your wife?

CLARK: I had the privilege of sitting beside her in the band. I was in the eighth grade and she was in the seventh grade. We both played french horns. I was the mean kid in town and I used to fill her horn full of water. She'd spew water out. Her brother was in the band with me and he played the tuba. We used to throw our spit wads at him and the other tuba player, into their horns. That's how we met and we were friends from then on. We dated other people but I always found my way back. She just was a choice individual. I kept always going back. Whenever I would see her with somebody else, I would get so jealous I couldn't see straight. It would bring me back. We were friends for nine years before we were married. We were married for forty four years before she decided she didn't want me anymore. She hasn't come back to get me anymore. She's having too much fun.

WINN: Did a lot of people that you went to school with, did they marry people from your high school?

CLARK: The majority of them married kids we went to school with.

[tape interrupted]

WINN: This is Jennifer Winn. Today is March 30, 1999 and I'm continuing my interview with Earl Clark.

CLARK: You wanted to know about when I was in school and I was the naughty boy that the teacher used to send me to get her a new yard stick, because she'd break the yard sticks over my head. You'd have to walk from the Timpanogos School to Bennett Paint which was on Center Street between Second and Third West. She'd send us down there to get her a new yard stick. On the way back we'd have to stop and get her a sandwich and then take it back to school. We were good kids until the next day and then she'd break the yard stick over the head and that was the excuse to send us again. I was a naughty little boy.

Then you wanted to know about when they put the bridge up in up on Ninth North, so they could get into that quadrant of town. We used to have our cows and pigs up in a coral up on Ninth North, on the east side of the river. I think there is a handicapped school in that area now. In those days it was just a big apple orchard. We had our cows up there.

We lived on Fourth North and Sixth West and we would go up through there to milk the cows every morning and night. Then we would carry the milk back. When we were milking the cows up there, that's when they put that ditch across so they could get over across the river to that quadrant of town.

There were just three houses there that I can recall that were in that area at that time. They started building in so then they had to get roads over there. There used to be on Riverside Avenue on the west side of the river and then over into those houses there where the GLA park is now, is where Heder's and Davis' had their farms in there.

North from there we went up past where Deseret Industries is. We went north on Riverside Avenue and up in there was Jolley Poultry. They were chicken processors of the area. Everybody would take their chickens up there and they would kill them and process them for them. Later on, McQuarries built a chicken products plant just west of Ninth West on Fourth South. They built a chicken processing plant there. They would cook the chicken and fix it for the people that wanted a cooked chicken.

WINN: Will you tell us about the ice plant?

CLARK: The ice plant was down on Sixth South and Second East. There was a great big ice plant down there that they would freeze the big blocks of ice. They did this originally for the trains. When the trains would come through with produce on they had to keep the cars cold and they didn't have refrigeration in those days. They built the ice. They would freeze the ice and send it on a conveyor built over to put into the trains to keep the trains cold.

They also had a commercial freezing plant in there where people could take their things. It had a cold storage locker. You didn't have refrigeration capacity in your home, so you'd have a locker elsewhere and get things into your fridge and take care of them that way.

I remember many, many, many years ago my brother had a strawberry patch. That's when they started building the airport down on west Center. They dug all of the dirt off. Up on the top of the hill there was my brother-in-law's strawberry patch. I was out in there working when they started hauling the dirt away to haul down to fill in for the airport. His strawberries and raspberries we used to take down to the ice house.

We'd clean them and take care of them and then take them down there and freeze them, like they do now in the packages. We just put them into plastic bags. They were sold in the grocery stores, as frozen strawberries and raspberries. We used to store the cherries and apples and everything else down at the storage house to keep it. It would be sold and then they'd ship it out from there.

Interviewee: Earl Clark
Interviewer: Jennifer Winn
March 30, 1999

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