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Historic Provo

Oral History of Frances Guymon


WINN: Today is June 23, 1999. This is Jennifer Winn and I'm interviewing Frances Guymon. Frances, what are your earliest memories of Provo?

GUYMON: My neighbors Bill and Maxine Drivill down on Seventh West and Eighth South. We were close enough that we could go down to the old Franklin that's torn down. We'd go to church at the Second Ward. We had a lot of fun being neighbors.

WINN: What did you do?

GUYMON: We played games with them. Some things weren't so good and some were good. We had a lot of fun. One thing that we could do that they don't do anymore was at Pioneer Park just east of where we lived, they used to have a band place over there. They'd have a band concert.

Every Thursday before church started it, we had Home Evening. We had a lot of fun. Daddy would take us all over the canyons down south. The park in Wyoming had some fun things to do. They'd take pictures. For home evening sometimes we'd go and get the camera and bring it home and show us the dumb things we did. If we had our problems we would talk over our problems. Mother always had a good dessert. We'd learn how to make honey candy popcorn balls. We had fun things for dessert. We had a good family. I won't ever forget it. We had a fine time.

There was a store down there on West Center. They're not there anymore. They're gone. Some of the people still go up to the Center over there and one lady helps with the blood pressure. She's down there. Some of the other people from the old Second ward go there. We enjoyed it down there because we could walk everywhere. The only place we drove is when the old depot that is not there anymore, was down on Fifth West. Dad would go down there and mail a letter. We could just walk down there.

In those days you couldn't get any permanents from Provo. My mother and father would take the whole family up to Salt Lake and we would go up to the zoo or the airport where my sister would get permanents. But you don't have to do that anymore. You could either get by doing it yourself or some places give them up on University.

When I got married my mother made my dress. I've got to get a picture of it on the wall. While we'd do the work, she'd make our clothes for my sister, Doris. When she was alive I felt sorry for her family. She had to have someone in her house. Her heart wasn't good.

I remember having so much fun down there on Seventh West. We really enjoyed it. We'd go to the park and play all the time. It was about a block away and we enjoyed it.

WINN: What kind of place is it?

GUYMON: At the North Park they have band concerts in July. They used to have it on Seventh West. We would go up and listen to that. We'd have a great time playing with everything. Then we had our backyard. My dad had a rock garden back there. We had all kinds of fun with neighbors and doing fun games. Lots of good memories.

My mother got so she didn't like the house though. I guess it was the furnace that would put a bad odor in the closets. Now you can't even see the back yard up on Thirteenth East and Eighth North. I have gone up there a few times. The house is beautiful. It's just right down below the "Y" but she's right on the fault. In the backyard he made a great big, huge rock garden. It was so pretty. I have gone up there a few times and you can't even see the backyard. There is a great big building behind it now.

I like the canyons and down at the lake. We used to go swimming down there. At the North Park now there is a swimming pool now that Daddy was in charge of.

When I was about 50-years-old he got me started. I just love it down at the Eldred Center on Fifth North and Fourth West. We used to have so much fun. I had a good time when I was little.

WINN: What was your father's employment?

GUYMON: He was principal of two schools. In Mount Pleasant where I was born, one day one of the district high council came to him and said, "John, we want you to be the bishop." He went home and told mother. My grandma was right by her and she said, "Edith, my mother's mother, let John do that and whatever you need I will help you." So she let him be bishop. He was bishop about two years. I was too young to really know what was going on but he was a principal there too.

I would go down there twice a year for homecoming in March, next to last Saturday. I went down there to decorate. My partner that lives through here on the next block has a cabin down there. It's a ways to go. I am glad my mother picked, because when my father was going to get a job in Provo or Logan, she picked Provo and I am glad she did because I like it.

WINN: You have lived here ever since?

GUYMON: Yes, I know it pretty well. I thought I knew it pretty well until my husband that I met in seminary got this trouble and had to go to rest home. It was built southwest from where I was raised.

WINN: What schools was your father principal of?

GUYMON: The old Franklin first. He retired from Dixon down on Seventh West and Second North.

WINN: What were some of his responsibilities?

GUYMON: He had to be in charge and he taught a class of Civics. If there was a problem, if some of the children or boys would not be the best, he would tell them, "If you can't straighten up and do things right your parents are going to know." But one thing I wish he had not been principal of, was that he expected too much of us.

I am kind of glad he didn't do like what my mother-in-law did with my husband and his brother when they were little. All she did was yell at them. I said, "After a while when you yell at people, they just ignore you." They just won't pay any attention. What my dad used to do to us when we would do wrong, is he would put his arms around us and love us. "I love you and want you, but this can't be." And he meant it. If we did things wrong he would take action. I told my daughter Anne because she yells. I said, "After a while your grandchildren are not going to pay any attention to you. If you'll do it this other way it will work." My son Paul has got this problem, and I just keep it in my prayers.

My granddaughter, Wendy met this man. He was a missionary up there in the Salt Lake area, Grant Mitchell. My daughter cuts hair. She learned from my father. When I was a little girl he would cut all of our hair. We would never go to a place except when we got to be big girls. They want it that way. So she met this Grant Mitchell cutting his hair and really got involved with him. One thing bad was he was on this mission and completed it. When he got home in Florida I don't know what happened. He took a girl to bed out of wedlock and got her pregnant. That was no good.

WINN: Let me ask you some more things about Provo. Did you live here during the depression?

GUYMON: Yes, I remember that. They were rationed. When he would have a little extra coffee, he didn't want to have that stuff. He would give it to people and they would give him a little bit of gas.

When I was a tiny little girl I would see people doing it all the time. I brought a Coke home and I was drinking it and my mother said, "Elaine, throw that away. It's no good. We don't believe in coffee and tea. This is worse than coffee and tea." I asked the bishop in our ward about it and he said, "It's still bad and it will never be good." Yet I see people with it. I won't take any of it.

WINN: What were some of the effects of the Depression?

GUYMON: We had to ration gas. We had to walk. That's why it was a good thing that we could walk everywhere. We were rationing money. When he would get these tickets he would trade. If somebody else wanted them, he would get gas money to drive the car. I am so glad where I live now there is two places you can walk. The rest of the way you have to take the bus or drive. But we walked everywhere down there.

I am the only one now that is here of my children or my family. My sister Doris is dead. Her son Darrell is still here. I feel sorry for her family. They are having a hard time. They want it so bad. My cousin is going to help her do her endowments. "If they want me," she said, "They will have to do it themselves." I think some things in this life you have got to do for yourself. You can't expect people to do it for you.

My granddaughter does hair where Sears and Pennys have moved. Down here where you get keys made, the man said the roof on the building made them want to go.

WINN: How was Provo affected by World War II?

GUYMON: Lots of people went. Before the war even started we were up to the cafe eating and we heard on the TV. Some Japanese man was back there trying to make peace while the others were planning the bombing. Two Japanese men said for the ones that were doing this, "If you do this you're going to pay for it." He was right. You know what happened. The bombing was pitiful. We went to Hawaii one time. My son was named after Edward Visolia that lived there and we saw the area.

I hope you're not complaining about the weather. I think it's nice. You think it's hot now, wait until August.

WINN: Did a lot of your friends get drafted into the war?

GUYMON: My husband, Garth was. And Grant, Garth's older brother went with the Army.

WINN: Is this before you were married?

GUYMON: We were married ten days and then he went to the Navy. That's what he was best at. We got married just before. When I was getting more acquainted with him Mother said, "Elaine, with Garth, don't believe anything his father says. Let it go in one ear and out the other. Believe what he does, not what he says." She said Garth could be like him.

I got him twice when they were alive. We were going to this reception and his father said, "Where are all the feathers on the chicken?" Of course nobody knew and they had to have him tell. So he told us, "All over." When we came up to see his house, there is an old apartment there now, he asked me the same question. I said, "All over like you said." He looked at me and said, "How did you know?" I said, "You told me." Mrs. Guymon, Garth's mother, was just laughing and just about burst her stomach and she said, "You know how to handle him."

When I was getting more involved with Garth I wore a day bonnet. I had this little doggy on the table that would talk and he was talking to his friends. He got up and started talking and the dog heard him and it repeated back what he said. I had him go all over the house to see if there was anybody else here besides him. I lived with both of them enough to find out what they were. Some of the people thought that Garth was that way too.

I told him if I did some things that he didn't like, tell me to my face and not behind my back. His father would do that about people when they didn't like him. He would go in a room and he would kind of talk to himself. That's bad. Some of my children even do it and I told them before, "If I do anything that you don't like, tell me right to my face so I will know about it."

WINN: When you and Garth were dating what were some of the activities that you would do?

GUYMON: I met him in seminary. When I was a tiny little girl down at Franklin in Kindergarten, I was shy and backward and I wouldn't mingle with the children. Miss Cardel would tell Daddy, "I think that I better keep Elaine in Kindergarten another year. She is not doing what she should do." That got my father. He didn't like it so he still let me stay. After that he got me involved with everything he could including assembly down at Dixon.

Then up at the seminary he had the teacher have me pass song books. When I gave my husband a song book, he would tease by putting it behind him and saying, "I didn't get one." My friend, Colleen Buchanan is dead now. She said, "Elaine, I think Garth is getting interested in you."

There was a girl's date dance coming up and she said, "Why don't you ask Garth to go with you." I said, "Most people, men usually ask the girl's dates first." She said, "Do it anyway. He can turn you down you know." He didn't. We went to the dance together. My relations when I was little said, "Elaine is never going to get married." They felt that way that I was never going to get married. That got mother especially when I got acquainted with Garth. I had other dates too. I was surprised what she did. She went and got material and made me a long formal to wear with it. I got a date for my sister and she went with us.

After that there were five boys running all over the house. Garth's family was all boys. I have got to get a picture on the wall of them like I've got of mine. She'd encourage the boys to go fishing and hunting. She didn't want them running all over the house. That is not cheap. It's very expensive to go and get you poles and license, and equipment. But Garth just loved that. I guess that was the first date that he asked me on was to go up on the dam in the canyon, in a boat, fishing. But my dad said, "Unless you take your parents, Elaine's not going to go." So he took his father and mother and went.

When he would go fishing we got up at 1:00 in the morning, travel over to where we were going and then be in the boat when the sun came up. You would have to dress like winter. In the morning still around here it's cool. So we had all kinds of fun. Wayne still likes it.

That experience up in Salt Lake where they make history, when that incident happened there, my sister only lives two blocks east from there. I gave my oldest boy my father's gun, which was really fancy and it had a scope on it. I said, "You be careful with that. I don't want that to get out of the hands." The man said he was sick and he killed a policeman and he got shot. I don't know the details. They say he went into the building and whether he killed or not a lady inside that was at the desk.

Across the street here they have a light like the street light here. Some smart-alec late at night came and knocked on my door, and rang the doorbell. Somebody came over and shot the light out with their guns. I think they are having a fight now to know what to do with these people.

WINN: When you were raising your children what were some of the activities that they were involved in?

GUYMON: Most of the time we were down at our apartment. When he was at the war I wouldn't go with him. Sometimes I might go with him. Then I would go to work and save the money up that he sent home. I lived with my folks. We had an apartment down there but we grew out of it at 760 East 820 North, where Smiths used to be in Provo. It was too close to my mother and too close to Mrs. Guymon. They practically lived at our place. You couldn't have your life for yourself.

I told my children, "When you get married don't be close to your in-laws. You will pay for it." Mother felt bad because I felt that way. They gave me a lot of good suggestions. When we went through the temple, we were married there when he came home. He thought he would be at the war and I would go with him somewhere.

Men and women have relationships and I didn't get that way. He thought when he came home maybe we were not going to have a family. When I got that way within a month he didn't want to stop. He just wanted to keep on going, going, and going. Finally with our little girl Mary Edith when I was carrying her I got this bad, high fever. It was 103 degrees. It was a miracle I didn't die before she did. Before I was getting ready to have her the doctor said, "Mrs. Guymon you have got to pick a name." It's not good. We named her after her two grandmas, Mary Edith. She has got it made.

WINN: What were some of your children's activities in school? Did they participate in any kind of sports, or plays?

GUYMON: We always had the park over there to play in. They'd play games and swing. They would play tennis, but the tennis thing is gone now. Sometimes they were involved not in good all the time. I am the only one here now. In the whole two blocks all of the neighbors have changed but me. But they are good neighbors, every one of them. I think they're wonderful people. Sometimes they weren't so good.

My husband when he was little, one of the tricks he did when they had all this time on their hands, Legrand and Garth would dig this hole in the back yard deep enough for a man to stand in it. They would take it this way and come up in to some neighbors garden.

In those days they had out houses. I'm so glad we don't have those now. A lady was in there using it and they knocked over the whole thing on the door with her in it. My cousin, uncle and aunt lived about a block away and they could say more than I could what they did. Mrs. Guymon said, "Garth's brother and LeGrand learned from their father not good things."

WINN: How do you think Provo has changed over the years?

GUYMON: It's grown. My brother, John was born here. He doesn't like it and I don't agree with him. He said, "There is too many apartments." Where my husband used to live there is apartments there where he was born on Sixth East and south a little bit. You can see all that section. I still say I like this road out here. I don't like going up to Salt Lake much. I believe I'd just stay around here, at things I know and I like the place. I like Provo.

WINN: Are there any other changes that you can recall?

GUYMON: It's grown up. You don't go to hear the band concert down at the park anymore. There is not that train station on Fifth South and Fifth West anymore. Sears is not here. Pennys used to be where Nuskin is. Salt Lake is big, and Ogden second. They say now Salt Lake, Provo, and then Ogden.

I am still glad and I'll be glad all my life that our people roughed it out to come back and settle Utah because I like it here. I like the seasons. Some people complain about the weather. I said, "I'll take this instead of St. George where John is or Yuma, Arizona." We went down there to see my sister. She lives down there. In the spring the air conditioning was going crazy night and day, back and forth. I went there for two years for Christmas. My daughter had a lake in their backyard and those little alligators climbing up. I should have taken a picture of it. In December when it was usually cold, the windows were wide open and the fans were going around. I just like Utah, I still like it here regardless.

When I was a tiny little girl there wasn't TV. My dad decided to have the whole family get up early in the morning to take a trip up to the old Tabernacle and watch the prophet talk. It was wonderful.

WINN: Who was the prophet then?

GUYMON: David O. McKay. No, it was back further than that. Howard W. Hunter was my second cousin.

I like Provo. John says there are too many apartments. With that old building on University, I helped save it, they were going to tear it down and make a shopping center. We've got plenty of those. We don't need anymore. I like Provo regardless and I like where I'm living here too.

We just grew out of our apartment. First my son Wayne was born and then he was seven months old and then Joan came along the second girl up there. After I started having children he didn't want to stop. He said, "I'm going to have a family." I like my house. I'm getting a T.V. repaired to put in there.

WINN: Thank you.

Interviewee: Frances Guymon
Interviewer: Jennifer Winn
June 23, 1999

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