Library Tutorials
Skip to main content
Font size options
Increase or decrease the font size for this website by clicking on the 'A's.
Contrast options
Choose a color combination to give the most comfortable contrast.
A banner with an image of the Provo Historic Courthouse and the text Historic Provo.

Oral History of Garold Johnson


JOHNSON: I was born May 19, 1918 to Bert D. and Myrtle Elizabeth Johnson. I've lived by Reed Roxburn's barn my entire 81 years, except the time that I was in service overseas. Provo has changed from about 5,000 people to what it is today.

THOMAS: How many are there now? It's probably about 100,000.

JOHNSON: Right up close to that. Down in this area where I live now there were four houses on this street. There was no electric lights, no oiled roads. They were gravel. We walked to school to the old Franklin School that's been demolished now. Dad and Mother both went there. Mother got through the old Academy which was on First West between Center Street andirst South. That would be about where the little gas company is now. That's where she did her schooling.

I went through the Franklin and went up to the old Central High School and went through the old Dixon Junior High School when it first opened.

THOMAS: That's still open now.

JOHNSON: Farrer Junior High opened the same year. My great grandparents on my dad's side came from Sweden and crossed the plains with a handcart company.

THOMAS: Which company were they with? I had ancestors that came with the wagon train that followed the Martin Company. It was the Hodgett wagon.

JOHNSON: They came after the Martin. They came from Maine. They got to Maine when they came into the island in New York harbor. The name was Jonson. I have a pedigree sheet of five generations. I've lived here and worked here. It's built up in the last twenty years. The city has changed almost double from what it was.

THOMAS: Is there anything in particular that has really caught your eye in those changes? You've mentioned the population.

JOHNSON: There has been so much homes built. When I was growing up, everybody in town had a cow or two. I drove a herd to the old south ward pasture for quite a few years. I had 145 head of cows that I drove back and forth that people owned.

THOMAS: Was that a lot?

JOHNSON: That was a pretty good sized herd. I picked them up, drove them to the pasture and then took them back home at night.

THOMAS: Was it dairy cows?

JOHNSON: Milk cows. Everybody had a cow. My granddad Groneman and the Groneman brothers, Uncle Pete and Granddad and Uncle Tom were builders. They bought a farm and quit building. He was a finish carpenter. He had a tool to make his own trims. My granddad on my dad's side, I never knew him. He died before I was born. He had a orchard and he had trees and apples and pears and all kinds of different berries. They all went down in this area. The home I lived in here is over 100 years old. A man by the name of Dulong built it. There were big homes west of it. They built the brick home over there. Then this one. Then the next door neighbor to the east, not quite the first house, but the house over. There have been plenty of families that have lived there. George Mutuum bought it and lived there. They moved two houses up on the other end. Jacobsens on the north side and another Mutuum on the south side. I've forgotten. I don't remember the man's name on the side.

THOMAS: It sounds like you had a lot of Swedish settlement down here. You have Olsen and Jacobsen and Johnson.

JOHNSON: My great grandparents on my mother's side were Peays. They came from England. Great Granddad Peay was a polygamist. He lived in the old home. They threw him out. My great granddad Groneman's house is still standing. It's there on Third West and Fifth South on the southeast corner.

THOMAS: Is someone living in it right now?

JOHNSON: Yes, someone's living in it. It's been there for I don't know how many years. That's where he lived. His boys built the home and his daughter was married and he built the home up Third West and across Fifth South until Granddad bought the farm down here. It's the biggest share in teh area. Great Granddad owned the first home that I remember anybody saying anything about. It was on Fifth South and Third West on the west side on the corner. That's where my great granddad Johnson's home is.

THOMAS: It's like my family in Orem what you've got here in Provo.

JOHNSON: It's just built up. We went from around 4,500 to 5,000 people when I was a teenager chasing my granddad around. I knew more old people than I knew young ones, because I knew all of his old friends. The biggest share of all those families are gone. There are a few left around but most of them have moved away or passed away.

We had two mercantiles along the tracks. One was ZCMI and the other was Utah Wholesale. Utah Wholesale burned a while back. That was a thriving business those two. For years their deliveries were made by a team of horses.

THOMAS: That sounds a lot different than what I know.

JOHNSON: They had a big diesel on Third West and Sixth South along the tracks. There was a big diesel.

THOMAS: Was that there until recently?

JOHNSON: It's gone down in the last six or seven years.

THOMAS: I remember seeing it when I was little.

JOHNSON: It was a big brick building.

THOMAS: I used to make my dad bring me down to see it, but it just disappeared one day.

JOHNSON: My dad worked on the railroad. He worked on the RioGrande for forty years. I worked on the railroad too

THOMAS: Did you work for the same company?

JOHNSON: The same company. I worked on the same gang. The first time I went to work for him I worked on the same gang. The second time I worked in the Provo Yard. They were setting new track down north.

THOMAS: Was that your primary responsibility was to build new track?

JOHNSON: Yes. I worked on the gang that built the new tracks. I learned how to swing what they called a spike ball. You didn't pick it up and swing it, you rolled it. You learned how to do it.

THOMAS: Your dad worked on that forty years.

JOHNSON: I only worked there three or four years.

THOMAS: What did you do in addition to the railroad? You said you worked for Provo City.

JOHNSON: After I was eighteen or nineteen years old, I went to work for my uncle. He was a sheep man, rancher. I spent four years with him with the sheep. Then I went into the Army. I went into the Army in 1942. I got out in 1945, almost 1946. We were married in 1942 on August 13. I was married 57 years.

THOMAS: I think my grandparents are on their 56th or 57th this year. About the same.

JOHNSON: The things that have changed are all the houses up in Indian Hills. A few men had a few fruit orchards, not very many of them. A good share of it was just hills and sagebrush. Where the temple stands now had two roads but no buildings. It was all rock and sagebrush. The city had a big reservoir in the same area for water. It's changed. There is houses all over the mountain. They can only go up so far.

THOMAS: I think some have gone too high.

JOHNSON: For seventeen years I grew up in the city. I worked nights. I worked alone. When winter came I went up on the mountains and made it so they could go in and out. I threw all the snow so most people could get around.

THOMAS: What did you say your job title was?

JOHNSON: I was mostly just equipment operator.

THOMAS: You've been around.

JOHNSON: I started out driving a truck. Then I was a sweeper, a sweeping machine with a broom. I wore four of them out. I had the tube with the vacuum. It sucked it up. I've seen the city change.

I don't think there are very many of them who remember the old Heber Creeper that used to go up Second West. I worked on that.

THOMAS: It came up Grandview Hill and you can still see the grade.

JOHNSON: The station for the old urban Orem was there where the NuSkin building is. That's where the station was on that corner. That's where they went in. When they were working on the road to put the cement up the Avenue, I was out working and they came along and had a big saw to cut the cement across Center Street. I told the young fellow running the saw, "You better watch that. You're going to run into some railroad rails going across there." He said, "No, the city engineer told us there wasn't anything in here." I said, "You better watch it." "Oh, we don't have to think about that." He didn't any sooner get it out of his mouth than they hit the railroad. There were two of them. They went up and then one went and turned south on the Avenue and the other went and turned north. It went north up University Avenue to Sixth North and then came back down.

At one time there used to be a big fountain sitting right in the middle of University Avenue and Center Street. Water ran in that thing all the time. In the winter it would splash on the road and it would freeze.

THOMAS: Did they do a round-about situation with the cars?

JOHNSON: The electric train could go up and back. It never had to turn around to go the other way.

THOMAS: I rode it once. I remember it could do that.

JOHNSON: The bunkin' bronco. The old homes around and Jessie Knight's old home is Berg Mortuary today.

THOMAS: I've driven by those a lot.

JOHNSON: There were two or three of them on up the road. They're all along Center Street. I don't know part of that. I did know it.

THOMAS: You'd probably recognize them if you saw them, though while you're driving.

JOHNSON: Different things are in them.

THOMAS: What kind of changes?

JOHNSON: They kind of changed. I've forgotten the names of which house is which. The old church houses, the old sixth ward is gone and the old second ward is gone. I think the old fifth ward is gone. Those were built. A lot of the old buildings are gone. On Third West and Center Street where the craft store was, that used to be Dixon, Taylor Russell.

THOMAS: What kind of store was that?

JOHNSON: It was furniture. Across the road between Second and Third on the north side was Taylor Brothers, with furniture and different things. On the corner of Second West, on the east side, where a bike shop is now, Montgomery Ward was in there first, then Sears. There have been so many changes.

THOMAS: Do you remember JCPenney and Kresses'?

JOHNSON: The Kress building is still standing.

THOMAS: You can see the letters a little bit.

JOHNSON: The first JCPenney store, I don't know whether B&H drug store is still in it or not. There was an old Farmers Merchants Bank was on the northeast corner of Third West and Center Street. JCPenney's was the next one.

THOMAS: My mom remember going shopping there when she was little. She is always pointing out to us where things were.

JOHNSON: There was a Farmers and Merchants Bank in that building. It was there when I bought this place. That's who I bought it from. When I came out of the Army, that's where I got my loan. They called it the G.I. Loan. Congress gave us so much for it. That was in 1946. It's been a few years.

This was all open field up here. I remember when Backman Foundry started. That started in a chicken coop. They had chicken coops up there and their oldest boy worked down at the pipe plant. He got enough time and he got a place and made soda pop. That's what they were doing. I worked there when he first started out.

Where Albertsons is today was the old Provo Foundry and Machine Company. That was quite a building there. I worked there. Where the Mountain America Credit Union is on the corner of First North and Fifth West, there used to be a drive-in cafe. That was there.

I rode a horse up there two or three times this summer. I've been around long enough that I've seen horse and buggies right up to what we've got today.

Where the city building is now was where the old Provo High School was. Then they moved up to Twelfth North. They call it Bulldog Avenue yet. That's the same as calling Second West Freedom Boulevard. It's always been Second West. They called it the Millrace for a long while. On Fifth North and Second West, that's where the millrace was. There was a flour mill built there and they took the water out of the river and brought it down to run the flour mill. It went down Second West.

Over here on Sixth South, between the Avenue and First West, was Smoot and Stafford Lumber Company. They had a shop. It was all water powered. When that water ran under that building it turned all the belts to turn the lathes and different things. It went across and down the Avenue. Still it comes down. It's open for a little ways just north of Fifth South. It cuts across the lot there. It goes under the ground. It comes out and goes across the tracks south. It crosses the Avenue there. It used to go down to a corner of the golf course. The Avenue used to go down over the tracks and it was just a little road. It wasn't like it is now. It had a big millrace on the side of it. That was open for years. They built it up. They made the water go further over and down through. They cut the water off down in there and sealed it up and black topped it and made a road out of it. Now it goes right on up the canyon.

When I went to work for the city I went to work at the cemetery. They were over in the old fair grounds. That's where they call East Bay now. They'd sell all the fruits and vegetable and then we had farms and cattle and horses.

THOMAS: I went to the county fair once but I don't remember if it was here or further south.

JOHNSON: You probably went over to the one in Spanish Fork. They used to hold it over here in the county fair grounds.

THOMAS: Do they have anything left over from that at all? Is it completely gone?

JOHNSON: It's all gone. Even the two buildings that they had on the fair grounds. The golf course is further south.

THOMAS: East Bay has been incredible how fast they built it up. They had no where else to go.

JOHNSON: The ground was available. The biggest share of it, the city owns. They have the golf course. The ground down there, when they moved the city dump from off the mountain, that's where they took it. The biggest share of that down there left to built on is the dump. It is some of the old golf course. They've built there on the east side. That hill that they dug out is all garbage. We didn't have any place to put it until we got the one over by the lake in Elberta. That property over there is the only area. There was no place to go but up. They put tons of it in there. It's changed.

The road that goes up to University Avenue. University Avenue went up to where you make the turn. It used to be a dance hall in there, Rainbow Gardens. That was where the road goes through down there. They built a little road. It was mostly gravel roads back up in there. The main path went around 150 East, the old Canyon Road. Now it's nothing but Canyon. It was always just a two lane road. Now the one they put up the Avenue goes right up on there. That's all four lanes. Everything has changed.

THOMAS: What were your favorite places you liked to hang out when you were in high school?

JOHNSON: When I was a kid going to school, we used to go up to the shows. We went to the old theater. That's where Mary's Beauty Shop was at, between Third and Fourth West. They used to show a lot of westerns. I spent a lot of time there going to the show. The old Strand was between First and Second West on the north side. I think the building has been torn down. I think the hotel sits there over it. There was the Uintah and the Paramount. They're both gone.

THOMAS: They've made them into parking lots.

JOHNSON: The telephone office was right there on Center Street between the Avenue and First East. They were in that big building on the corner where the drug store is. That was Jessie Knight's building where the clock is up there. They have apartments up on the top of it. I don't know whether there still are or not. I haven't been up there for many years.

THOMAS: We were just noticing that it looks like they had apartments there now, but I couldn't tell if anybody was living there or not.

JOHNSON: The old county building was built. That was quite a going on there.

THOMAS: Was the Provo Tabernacle already there?

JOHNSON: The Tabernacle was there. But it's been changed. The roof has been changed. They took the center part of it out. The first old building and the old tabernacle was built north of it, to the west edge of the lawn toward the other buildings. The building was in that. Then they built the new one. I can't remember the year the new one was built. My granddad told me about this, putting the big thing in the middle of it. They had to take the roof off of it. That building has been redone and gutted one time. We made it all pretty modern and put paint on it. Now they went back in not too many years ago and put it all back to where it was.

All our new buildings, the county and state buildings, they are all new. Our new courthouse, where they've got it, that was all in the county building. All the courts were in the county building. The Sheriff's office was in the northwest corner of the county building. The engineers office was in the old county building in the south west corner. You got your driver's license in the southeast corner, where I first got my first driver's license. I paid a whole quarter for it. You got your driver's license and it cost you a quarter and it was a lifetime.

THOMAS: You were sixteen when you got it?

JOHNSON: I started driving when I was younger. I went in the Army and when I came back out of the Army I bought me a renewal that went for three or four years. Now it's good for five. If I last that long I won't be renewing. I've got diabetes. I've lost one eye to a cataract. I got my license done in 1997. So it will be 2002. I think when that time comes I won't be driving. I'll be pushing up close to 85 and I think that's time to quit.

THOMAS: I wanted to ask you about how you met your wife. Did you meet her here in Provo?

JOHNSON: Dell was born in Idaho and her dad and mother have a place up there. They had a homestead and they built a home and they started with a few cows. They were getting going. They had seven children in Idaho. A guy grew up in Lovell, Wyoming. I had told this story about how when they went, he came from Lovell. Dad was up there in Idaho and my dad came from Wyoming down to him and asked him to come over to Lovell and take over his ranch, and he could have it. He went with his family and there were three more kids born in Wyoming and they ended up with ten. They lost two up there. She got burned in a bon fire. They came down here during the Depression in the middle thirties. They were out in Orem. My wife moved different places. She couldn't get a job and didn't have anything to go on during the Depression.

I met her at the old Utahna, that's where the post office is on First South and First West on the southeast corner. They had rides and shows and a ferris wheel and merry go round. Someone took it over and eventually bought it from him. This old man owned this dance hall. He bought homes around town. He had money. He would buy it and let them live in it and they would pay him so much back and they could buy it back from him. He did that with a lot of people. That's where I met here. We went up there to dance. We'd all go to the dance.

We were talking to them and I was going home. There was some fog and she didn't' want to drive. I said, "I'll drive you home." She got in the car and I drove them home out in Orem. They said, "How are you going to get home." I said, "I can walk home." They didn't think I would. I took them to their place. They all lived in the same distance. I think I walked them to their house. I walked down State Street. I didn't go half a block and got a ride. A car came along and gave me a ride. "What are you doing out here?" "I just took two gals home that were scared to drive in the fog." I was eighteen.

When I met her, she got out of high school and she was with her friend. She got a job and went to California and I went to work for my uncle. We wrote letters back and forth while she was down there. When she came back home I was working and we started going together. I kept going up to help my uncle and he finally sold his sheep and sold the ranch. Then the war started. I was listening to the radio when news of the war came that Japan had just bombed Pearl Harbor. We were in war. She said, "You'll be drafted," and I said, "No, I won't." She said, "Why?" I said, "They'll only call you up twice and turn me down twice on the draft." I went in and enlisted in the Coast Guard. Then I got in the Air Force.

I went into the Army and I went to Fort Douglas. They gave me a test. I passed the test. They didn't' say a word about what they were going to do after we took the test. The orders came out to go get on the train. We were shipped down to Texas. We got down there and I was there for three days. That was supposed to have been basic training. Then they shipped me up to Chinook Field up in Illinois to go to school. I was there for almost a year and we were shipped from there up to Canada and back down to Buffalo, New York, to the Curtis Wright Airplane Field. We went to school at the Curtis Wright Airplane Plant, learning how to take care of the P-40 fighter plane. I got through with school. We lived in Elks Club in Buffalo. That was the barracks. WE had bunks and everything. We'd eat there. That was where were lived.

Then they shipped us. Part of them went to California and some of them went to Washington, Oregon and down in the different air fields. There were 350 of us from school and they shipped us to different places. I was on a train going from Buffalo, New York to Florida. We got down there and went into the field at the Orlando Air Base and we were in there in a big formation. They were checking all the orders and nobody had any orders for us to come up. They let us back off the airfield and put us outside the fence and we were what we called the tent city. Two or three of the boys went home, one went to North Carolina and a couple went to Texas. We were living in a tent city. Nobody knew where we were supposed to be. We were there almost two months before our orders came. They had been shipped west to somewhere, California or Arizona and they had to be shipped all the way back out and down to Florida.

I was put in the Tenth Fighter Squadron. Some of us were there. Some of us went to the 313 Squadron and some of them in the 81st Squadron. We were all in the 55 group. We stayed there on Orlando Air Base and I got furlough and came home in August. Dell and I got married in 1942. I went back and she came down to Orlando a little later on in the fall. She was there just before Christmas. They picked us up and put us in a little town called Decker Hill. They picked up our furniture and moved to an apartment in Decker Hill.

I brought her home and she had our first boy here in Provo in July 1943. She brought him back down there. I had shipping orders that we were being shipped out, but they let us come home. I brought her home and I went back. I transferred back into Orlando and I went to school to learn about a few things. I went down to Decker Hill and got a P-51, a P-38 and a P-39, all fighter planes. All of those engines I went to school and trained on them. That's what we figured we were going to have, was if we went to war, that's the thing we'd have.

Then they shipped us back up to Orlando. We transferred everything we had and transferred out of the outfit. They sent up back up to Orlando and we were there and at the other side of the air base. We did training and went to school and learned things. They said, "We've got some airplanes out here. Check them out." We went out and there sat a P-47 Thunderbolt. A totally different airplane. The picture on the floor is my airplane. That's a P-47 plane.

THOMAS: I've seen them in a museum in Washington.

JOHNSON: It had eight machine guns. It could carry a five hundred pound bomb on this wing and one on that wing. There were three gas tanks. That's the airplane I was teaching from. That's me right there. That was the pilot. The only pilot that took their wife was me.

THOMAS: Is your experience in the Army pretty typical of people from here? Did a lot of people enlist in the Army?

JOHNSON: Quite a few of them.

THOMAS: Did you have a lot of friends who followed you?

JOHNSON: There were two Backman brothers I chased around with. They both went in the Navy.

THOMAS: Let me go back a few years to the Depression. I did a project on the Depression so I'm interested in how it was for your family personally.

JOHNSON: We lived down in this area on Ninth West. We had ground and we raised the biggest share of what we ate. If you had a lot of kids, they'd thin beets. We did beets and onions for a little money. You might need a pair of overalls. We bought our overalls for $1.98. $2.00 for a pair of shoes. We raised our own meat. We had cows. We raised hogs and we had our own meat. But we didn't have a whole lot of money. At Christmas time if you got one thing you were lucky.

THOMAS: Did you have any problems with the banks?

JOHNSON: There was just one bank that had problems. That was internal problems. That wasn't anything to do with it.

THOMAS: My grandparents have both said that nobody seemed to notice because everybody was in the same boat. So it wasn't like you were singled out or anything.

JOHNSON: No. When Dell's parents came from Wyoming during the Depression, jobs weren't. There just wasn't any. My dad was lucky. He worked on the railroad. When they started the WPA they got $34 a month. You paid your rent and bought your groceries. How far does $34 go? You better have a cow and a pig and a place for a garden. You need something to eat. That's the way the biggest share of them were. They had gardens and had cows and that's how we got along. There were a few of them that were better off. There was a store or two around and once in a while you could get a couple of nickels and go buy you a candy bar or something. A candy bar was a nickel, the biggest one they made.

THOMAS: When the New Deal started, did you benefit from that at all? Did you work for any of those work places like the CCC or the WPA?

JOHNSON: No. I was still in school. I didn't get out of school until 1935 or 1936.

THOMAS: Was that university?

JOHNSON: That was high school. I was eighteen. I quit school to go to work. I went to work when I was seventeen. Since then it wasn't too bad. All you had to do was pick a goal and then do it. The biggest share of them, that's what they did. There were a few of them that may have went hungry a couple of times but not too many of them. The biggest share of them had a garden. Everybody mixed bread. We didn't go to the store and buy it. My mother used to make eight loaves of bread twice a week. When Dell and I moved down here, she baked twice a week, four to six loaves. She made four loaves in a round pan. Everybody has done that. A lot of them had a coffee cans and they'd buy a three pound can and when they made bread, if they had extra dough and they'd put it in the can and have a round loaf. It would just slide right out of the can.

THOMAS: I have not seen that before. I've never seen bread in that shape before.

JOHNSON: If your mother made the bread, you lived on that. Once in a while Dell will get up and make wheat bread.

THOMAS: We do that still, but we've got our breadmaker. All we have to do is put it in the oven. We used to have a crank in the can that my mom would do, but we don't do that anymore.

JOHNSON: We still do it.

THOMAS: Are there any events that had particular impact on your family, starting with the Korean War up to present day?

JOHNSON: I have two sons, the oldest son joined the Navy when he was seventeen. He served four years in the Navy, but he wasn't in a war. They shipped him to Japan and Australia and all over. He was out before Korea. He went in and served two times in Vietnam. He was on a river boat.

THOMAS: I moving up to Watergate. What was the sentiment like during the Watergate time here in Provo? You're really far away from Washington.

JOHNSON: It was just something that happened.

THOMAS: Did people care?

JOHNSON: They did. The biggest share of the people in Utah are republicans and they were flabbergasted. Why would they do such a thing as that?

THOMAS: Did it really shake the politics?

JOHNSON: No, not too much. They did put in a couple democrats for a while. Dad didn't vote for the parties. He voted for the man. It didn't matter what party he ran from. If it was a good man for the country, that was the man he voted for. It didn't' matter if he was republican.

THOMAS: Did it affect you in any way? Did it change your perception of the presidency at all?

JOHNSON: It just makes you think what damned fools they are. This yahoo we've got back there now.

THOMAS: What about local politics? Was there a real good mayor here in Provo that did an excellent job or city council?

JOHNSON: The biggest share of them have all done a good job.

THOMAS: Did you get involved at all with the city since you worked for the city?

JOHNSON: We didn't. We voted for who we wanted to. The only man that I didn't have much respect for was hired. He wasn't voted in. He was the city manager. If that man had had his way, we'd have sold part of the city.

THOMAS: Is there anything else that you'd like to talk about?

JOHNSON: We've always been pretty much involved with the Church, the whole family. We've always been. That's just about what our life is. When you get ready to go to the show, where do we go? The biggest share of our time we went to where people in the Church would go. That's still that way. I don't think Dell and I have been to a show for ten years.

THOMAS: You just go to the social events with the Church.

JOHNSON: We don't have too many of them anymore. When we were younger and the kids were around, we went to pretty near everything they had. Dell was always involved in the roadshows and stuff like that.

Wife: The earliest thing I remember is when we went to the Fourth of July festival. It's where you turn on University. They had this pretty corral.

THOMAS: The majority of people around here are LDS. Have you had any interactions with people who aren't LDS?

JOHNSON: The Backman kids who had the foundry are not LDS.

THOMAS: And relations have been good here? There hasn't been any problems.

JOHNSON: No. It was the same way with others who weren't LDS. She worked in the nursery. A lot of our friends were Catholic. They weren't LDS.

THOMAS: Did they have seminary when you were in high school?

JOHNSON: Yes, but I didn't graduate from it.

THOMAS: Did they do it release time? How did that work? The way we do it here now in Utah is they just have you go during the day.

JOHNSON: They had so many classes and it would depend on if you had time for that.

wife: It was never release time. It was part of school when I was going to school. It was just another class.

JOHNSON: If you got your math and english and then you seminary. There were three things in seminary, church history, New and Old Testament.

wife: Now you have four.

THOMAS: We have Book of Mormon with that.

JOHNSON: Church History was Book of Mormon included in that.

THOMAS: My grandpa taught seminary up in Northern Utah and Southern Idaho and then came down to BYU and was in religion down here. He was really into that. IT's been fun to see how that has changed over the years.

JOHNSON: I was in with three different bishops. I was ward clerk for the first bishop and the second bishop. I didn't do much and then all of a sudden I was called one morning to come down to the stake president's office. I went down and talked to the stake president and he said, "They've got a job for you." "Alright, what do you want me to do?" He said, "I want you to be the clerk." So I took it.

THOMAS: How long ago was this?

JOHNSON: Six years. I served on the high council after that and went right back to them.

THOMAS: It's neat how much the Church is is your life, because it changes things so much.

JOHNSON: If you're involved in the Church.

wife: There's nothing for you to do. You don't feel like you're part of anything. Even as a teenager, if you didn't go to mutual during the week, there wasn't anything to do that day.

JOHNSON: If she wasn't in one of the mutual or primary activities. It's almost that way still. They have their activities and if the young ones don't go, they're out.

wife: There is all that football. The guys have things, but the girls don't.

JOHNSON: It was fun. I wouldn't want to do it again, but it was fun.

THOMAS: I appreciate your time.

JOHNSON: This Saturday Bell will be 80 years old. She was born on May 15, 1919. I was born May 19, 1918.

THOMAS: We have that in my family too. My sisters in December are like that. They're a few years apart.

JOHNSON: We're not years, we're just days.

THOMAS: My sister who is younger has the birthdate at the first of the month, so she thought she was older.

JOHNSON: We've got seven kids and they all live in the county.

THOMAS: So you've had a good experience being in Provo your whole life and you'd recommend it to anyone?

JOHNSON: I don't know what it would be now. I don't know what the young ones do now. I know a lot of them don't listen.

THOMAS: It's amazing sitting here hearing all the changes. It's a completely different city now than it was.

JOHNSON: When I was growing up, it was just Provo. We had a ball game. Provo High had a football team. BYU had a football team and a basketball team and that was it. We didn't' have all these kids teams playing softball and playing touch football. They didn't do that.

wife: If you wanted to play football you went out in the cow pasture.

JOHNSON: At the golf course over there, they had the golf course for many years. There was an old man who took care of the course, took care of the grass and leaves.

THOMAS: I appreciate your time very much.

JOHNSON: It's been quite a life.

THOMAS: It sounds like a full life here.

JOHNSON: When I was growing up, my granddad I knew, mother's dad. We worked for him and he lived right next door. The other granddad lived just across the street the other way. I didn't know him, he died before I was born. What I heard of him and what people said about him, he was as good a man as ever was. He came from Sweden and came across the plains in a handcart company. I guess they had to walk. It didn't carry them. I don't know whether they lost any coming over or not. They walked across the plains coming out here. They joined the Church in Sweden and were driven out of town. They left and came to America.

THOMAS: This concludes an interview with Garold Johnson done by Susannah Thomas on May 12, 1999.

Interviewee: Garold Johnson
Interviewer: Susannah Thomas
May 12, 1999

Return to Oral Histories List