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Historic Provo

Oral History of Harry & Karma Startup


WINN: Today is May 4, 1999. This is Jennifer Winn and I'm here with Harry Startup. Harry, what are your earliest memories of Provo?

HARRY: When I was a little kid I sold papers up Main Street. I guess it was the Daily Herald. I can't remember what paper. We used to go to different places and try to sell the papers. We'd go into the pool hall.

KARMA: Did they let you in the pool hall?

HARRY: Sure. I used to sell papers to them. Eldred had a merry-go-round and ferris wheel. We used to go up there and have fun and get on the rides. There were some real neat things.

KARMA: Was it free or did you have at pay?

HARRY: Yes. It was located where the China Lily is now, in that big parking lot. This ferris wheel was where the restaurant is now.

KARMA: On 1st West and Center.

HARRY: I also remember when I was a kid the circus would come on the train. They'd unload right over here. As kids we'd go there and work to get a ticket to go in the circus. They'd have a parade up University Avenue, clear up to Center Street and then come back. They set up the tents down at the old First Ward pasture, where East Bay is.

My dad always said, "One day the highway will go right through there." That's where it is now.

We had milk cows. My brother always used to milk the cows. I was younger than my brother, but he'd always finagle us to try to sneak the cows. It scared me because of the trains. Trains would come and whistle and the cows would try to run away. I would really be scared.

We came down over the tracks, a block east over the other way.

KARMA: Right up University Avenue.

HARRY: Yes. That's where we went across the tracks. Then we came down to the factory block, 1st West. Our house was just a couple of blocks up here. I'd take them straight up and when the cows would get near there, they'd go right into the lane and go to the barn.

My dad would milk cows. Mother always milked the cows.

KARMA: What's your first recollection of the candy company?

HARRY: When I was just a kid, I used to follow my dad around the factory. It was a great experience to be able to follow him and watch what he had to do. When I was in junior high at Dixon Junior High, I had a sister that taught school down there. She taught home economics. She was my sister, but they always thought we were twins. I was held back in third grade. That put us in the same class. They always thought we were twins.

We had a printing plant in this building we're in now. We used to print out the boxes and wrappers and made the boxes for the chocolates. They had an old press right in the corner of this building, of this room right here.

Dad used to give me a job. In those days we made a Jack Frost powder drink, like Kool-Aid. He'd give me the job of feeding these bags into the press and I'd print them. I had to print them on the front, then turn it over and print it on the back. I'd let the front dry. That was a great experience.

I still do printing on the press near what we had then. It's a larger thing.

In the Army I went in World War II to Europe. I had to leave Dad. It was quite a hard thing to do. During the war sugar was rationed. We could only get so much sugar. He'd make up all the quota that he had, then he'd have to quit. He went over to a place across the road that used to process eggs. We used to call it the egg plant.

One day he saw a stack of molasses in a gallon can. He bought one of those cans and brought it to the plant and opened it up. The top part was molasses syrup. But as he poured it out, there was that much sugar in the bottom of the can. It was just the sugar content of the syrup. He found out that he could use that when he'd run out of sugar. He'd use some sugar with it.

He made fudge boilers out of it. They put them on a dry wax. I still have some of those wrappers upstairs. They'd wrap them. He got so that he sold everything each day that he made. He'd have to make enough for the next day. He kept going that way and he really did well along with the things that he made.

I was in the infantry in Europe. We left Durham, North Carolina and we were going to sail to England. Then they changed our orders and we went right into France. It was a cold winter night that we landed. They gave us cots to sleep on. We would roll under those cots. We just about froze to death. We got up in the morning and they gave us dry cereal and the milk was all frozen.

We went to the place where we made camp. From there we went on up through France and Belgium and across the Rhine up into Germany. We have a reunion every two years for the 89th Infantry Division. We went to St. Paul, Minnesota this last year. One of the buddies said, "Harry, why don't you talk to your senator and you can receive all of the medals that you earned while you were overseas." When I got back I kept thinking I'd do it.

Finally about three months ago I went to Senator Hatch and gave him a copy of my discharge papers. Last Friday these medals came. I have a bronze star and a good conduct medal and a European occupation medal. I got five. I've got them downstairs. I can show them to you.

I was engaged to a girl when I left. I gave her a ring and I was sure that she'd wait for me. She learned that I was coming home so she took off. Her father was the Wholesome Bread man down in St. George. Instead of facing me, she went down there. I wanted to find out what was going on, so I followed her down there. At the time my dad had an old Ford car. I had about five or six flat tires on the way. I had quite a time.

She had in mind that I probably wouldn't ever come back. She was surprised.

KARMA: She was engaged to somebody else.

HARRY: That was the end of that. My brother-in-law married my older sister, Leona. They lived down in the basement. We had our cooking kettles and furnaces down in the basement. I was cooking some candy and he came up to me. He worked out at Ironton, Columbia Steel at that time. He said, "Harry, I've got somebody out at the plant that would like to meet a young man."

KARMA: No, you would like to meet me.

HARRY: "Would you like to meet her?" I said, "Yes, I'll meet her." He talked to Karma and we made a date. Karma lived up on North University Avenue near the old basketball floor, the ladies gym.

KARMA: That's where I was.

HARRY: She used to live there. Then she moved down half a block. He brought me to visit her. She lived in the basement. He brought me to the door and knocked on the door. Karma was in that apartment. He said, "You're on your own."

I had a friend. We lived up on First West, 345 South. He lived over on Third South in between First and Second. I went to school with him most of the time and we grew up together. We did many things together. I was supposed to have gone to the Franklin School. I talked about Dixon. I decided to go to Maeser. I went there most of the time.

Boyd Christiansen was the boy's name I grew up with. He had a big police dog that was really a nice dog. I always wanted one. It was a German shepherd. As a boy in later years he had the dog bred so I got one of the pups. It was quite a nice dog. He had a funny way of lunging at people. We always worried about him hurting somebody. I had him for quite some time and we brought him down to the factory and put him out in the back of the factory to be a watch dog. Boyd had quite a nice string of dogs.

When we were kids, there was a big field south of our home. It had big tall weeds up there. In the summer time the grass hoppers would be in there thicker than thick. As kids we went out and caught all these grasshoppers. Down in the basement we put a big box and put all of them in there. Just things like that.

We had a sleeping porch and underneath we had places where we could have our little steel cars and go under it and make roads. There were so many things.

One time out in this field a group of us kids, about five or six of us, we dug a deep hole that we could crawl down. We put things over so we could cover it up and nobody would know anything about it. It was a hiding place. This is the same field with the grasshoppers. It was quite scary one time. We were in there and it was quite deep. The top fell in and dirt. It's a wonder some of us didn't get smothered. But we all got out okay without any problem.

You asked me about the town. Karma just reminded me about the fountain they had on University Avenue. It was on the corner of University Avenue and Center Street, right in the middle. It was a water fountain. It was really a beautiful thing to have there. One morning we woke up and it was gone. Somebody had taken it out. Just like the people down here. I think they tried to build another fountain. It's sitting off to the side.

KARMA: There is a fountain in front of the court house.

HARRY: The old city center was right on the corner where the fountain is now.

KARMA: It was the city county building. Then there was an old Provo Post Office.

HARRY: There was a Post Office. Before that it was the city building. The Post Office was upstairs and the police station was downstairs. Fred Loveless and all of them were there.

KARMA: Mayor Harding was upstairs in 1943 or 1944. That was his office.

WINN: What are some other ways that Center Street has changed?

HARRY: I can't remember a lot of it.

KARMA: I miss all the stores in Provo. I miss all of the retail stores. I was from a small town in Sanpete County. It was really a treat to come to Provo to shop. There was Firmages, J C Penneys, Lewis Ladies, Lerners, Woolworths, Kress.

HARRY: Kress used to be where that building across from Nu Skin is. J C Penneys was where Nu Skin is.

KARMA: The inter-urban bus depot was up where Nu Skin is. There was a Telluride Ford building there.

HARRY: That was east of that. The inter-urban was right on the corner. We used to travel from Salt Lake to Provo.

KARMA: Didn't it go clear to Ogden?

HARRY: I don't believe so. It was to Salt Lake. It was an interesting place. When I was drafted in the Army, we had orders to report there to take the train up to Fort Douglas. We had quite a number to go up there from this area. I got on that train and rode to Salt Lake. I had to go to the bathroom so bad that I took off when we got to the station in Salt Lake. Without asking anyone I just took off. The MPs were there. They thought I was trying to run away. I found out I couldn't do those things. He came right in after me. That was an experience.

I remember we used to go up. There was tracks going up Freedom Boulevard, headed to Salt Lake. The tracks on University Avenue went up past the stores.

KARMA: That was the Heber Creeper.

HARRY: The Heber Creeper later went up.

KARMA: When they redid University Avenue a number of years ago, they tore all those tracks out completely.

HARRY: We got some of the pieces of that.

KARMA: We got some nails that hold down and the big bolts and some ties.

HARRY: I got some ties that I took home for some of my flower beds.

KARMA: I used to catch the bus. I worked six days a week. I would catch the bus going down to Steel City on Saturday afternoon. If there was a seat. It was always so crowded. You had to stand up part of the time. Then I'd have to come back on the train on Sunday afternoon.

HARRY: The Post Office was there on University Avenue and Center Street. The other Post Office they built is where the Federal Building is. Karma worked out at Ironton and she used to go and pick up the mail for the plant where the federal building is now.

KARMA: That's first North and First West. I remember how beautiful in the Spring the maple trees were up and down University. It was so pretty to walk down University Avenue in the mornings.

HARRY: Where Central Bank is, there was a church where we went to be baptized.

KARMA: It was First West, the administration building. Right there on the corner. It's where the parking lot is. Harvey's Cafe was where Central Bank is.

HARRY: The Hansen Candy Company was on that block. They were our competitor. That's where they used to make candy. Then they moved down west Center. That's where I knew Grant's father. The administration building was on the corner and they were the next building east of that.

WINN: As a teenager, what were some of the activities that you would participate in?

KARMA: He used to love picture shows.

HARRY: Right up the street here was a place we used to like to go up and watch through the fence. They had a dance hall. That's where the Post Office now is. Utahna Dance Hall. It was really a nice place. You would go in there. We just lived down the street from there on 345 South. It was up about two blocks. We'd go up there and watch the couples dance. They had a player piano in there that would play all the time. We used to like to go in and do that.

WINN: How has your business changed through the years?

HARRY: At one time, the business that Dad and his brothers had employed close to 175 people. Included in that was many salesmen that traveled all over Utah and up into Wyoming and out into Vernal. That's where most of our business was. They were included in the 175 people.

There was a young fellow that started working for the Startup Candy Company as a young boy, by the name of Clem Tucker. He started when he was about thirteen years old for Startup Candy. He'd do odd jobs. They gave him the job of making candy clear toys. In those days the old clear toy department was down in the south part of the old building, where A&Y is now. There was a long hallway to get down through to where it was. It runs this way in the old building. They used to make candy clear toys.

I remember years ago when I was a kid I'd walk down there and on each side of that hallway would be wooden pails, similar to that full of clear candy toys. We'd pack them and wrap them in wax paper. In those days they didn't have cellophane. They'd have different sizes, small sizes like this and this. They would put so many in a pail and wrap each one in wax paper and put pads between each one so they didn't break. They were quite delicate like glass.

As you walked down this hallway they'd have these stacked clear to the ceiling on each side with just a narrow path to go down through. The Sweet Candy Company and some of the other big factories would buy them. That's why we had to start in the early fall to get them made. They were all hand molded by pouring the candy in molds.

Clem Tucker had about half a dozen girls that helped make them. He'd pour them, the girls sat down and took them out of the molds and set the molds up again.

He had sawdust spread out on the cement floor. They'd pour a lot of candy there. Each week the sawdust would catch the stickiness. Each week they would shovel that out and put it in sacks and take it out. Then they'd wash everything up and put another layer of sawdust down.

Clem would have these girls -- he was the one that was in charge of them doing all these clear toys. You can't believe how many clear toys they produced in the time just before Christmas. They'd do these and pack them in these pails and put a lid on and nail the lid so that they could ship them in those pails. We used to ship out carloads of them.

Clem continued on working for us for years. They wanted his wife to dip chocolates, but she didn't care for that type of work. So they put her in the bon bon department to pack the boxes of chocolates. That's what she did for years. After Dad lost everything she'd come over here and help us here after we got started. She worked until she was about 80 years old.

Clem and Lola were very much part of our family. They met at the factory. Many of the employees met their wives in the factory.

John continues to ask me what he would like to me to do when I go, when I pass on. No one will remember the old factory the way it was. I can remember each department, where each place was, the gum department, our office, the packing department, the hard candy department. Upstairs was the soft boil department where we made centers for chocolates. He wants me to sit down and make an outline of where each place was. We had an old boiler factory in the back that ran all of the machinery. The boiler produced steam. I could do a lot of that if I would do it before I pass on.

KARMA: What else do you remember about Provo? What about the Fourth of July?

HARRY: The Fourth of July we were all busy doing things for getting ready. I used to pop the corn for the factory. They had one of these big things you had to turn by hand. You put the corn in. It was a gas burner. You'd turn it and turn it and turn it and it would start popping and come out into a box. Then you'd dump it after it was all finished into a barrel. They'd have to use maybe two barrels full of popcorn and put in the product. We made Red Riding Hood and Zebra Corn and Bar Corn. Bar Corn was a bar about that long, wrapped in wax paper. It had a blue prize and they'd just twist it like that. It was a chewy type popcorn we used to make.

They used to pay me by the pound. We had to weigh everything and they'd pay us so much a pound.

KARMA: How much did you get? About ten cents a day?

HARRY: Years ago ZCMI was a wholesale grocery place. Utah Wholesale Grocery was over this way.

KARMA: That building just burned down.

HARRY: It burned down about two months ago. At Christmas time they would bring in raw peanuts in the shell. There were fifty to seventy five pounds. We were the only ones that had a peanut roaster. We'd roast peanuts for Utah Wholesale and ZCMI. I remember Clem was one of them that used to roast the peanuts.

When we were kids they'd stack them up in the warehouse, an in between place. The hard boiled hard candy department was there and there was a place in between the shipping department. They'd stack them all in there, then they could load them out in their trucks and take them to the various places.

As kids we used to climb up on these peanuts. It was warm. We'd lay down on those. It was so comfortable. Then there'd be a place to hide.

Clem Tucker was one of the main ones that used to do all these types of things. In the winter time he'd make clear toys and help upstairs. After we lost everything over there, we set up in this building here and we made them in that room just behind the store. He'd come over. He worked for the Rio Grande freight company. He used to come over here and make clear toys at night.

My father used to come down and go in there and talk to Clem about different things. When he was a young boy Clem used to get the horses ready for delivery. That's when they used to deliver them by horse and buggy. He used to take care of the horses. Clem and Dad could remember all these things. It's too bad we didn't have a recorder to take down some of the interesting things they would talk about.

In the early days, we used to make ice cream. We had an old building behind here that was right by the mill race. They'd go out on Utah Lake and cut big square blocks of ice to bring it in to freeze the ice cream that they made.

They'd store the ice in these buildings in the back. They'd put saw dust in between. They'd last into the summer time. It was an interesting time for me anyway.

WINN: What was it like raising your children in Provo?

KARMA: Probably a lot easier than it is now.

HARRY: I might mention something. During the Depression times we had quite a hard time. Dad worked in the business trying to keep it going. Dad and Mother took in boarders. They had a number of girls. Some of them taught school. Some worked in offices. We had about six or seven girls living in our home. Mother was one that really cooked wonderful meals. We'd set a big table in our front room to feed the boarders. I had to go down to the grocery store and buy a big piece of salmon. Mom would cook that. They really enjoyed that.

To accommodate the girls, Dad and I had to come down to the factory to sleep. We were like night watchmen. We had a place up in the old gum department. It was after they produced gum. As a boy I was with my dad. We'd come down from home and sleep every night. I can't remember how long that was, but it was all the time we had the boarders up at the house.

KARMA: Was that when you were going to junior high?

HARRY: Yes. A funny thing happened one night. I went to the show. I had a key to the factory. Dad had come down and gone upstairs. I think he was checking around the factory. He happened to lock himself out and he didn't have his key. He was in his garments. There I was coming down the street. I saw something white going along the side of the building. I didn't know whether to come on down or not. I didn't know what it was. I started back and dad saw me and said, "Harry, come on. I've locked myself out." I came down and we got into the factory and everything was okay. I was going to run back home.

KARMA: We had three children. We had Candy who was born in 1949 and LoaDawn was born in 1952 and John was born in 1961. We had one in the forties, one in the fifties and one in the sixties. Our kids all went to Provost School. Provost was only up to three grades when Candy started to school. When she was in the fourth and fifth grades, she had to go over to the Maeser. The kids really thought that was awful. After they got to Maeser, they didn't want to go back to Provost and they had to go back to Provost in sixth grade. Then they went to junior high at Farrer Junior High. They all went to Provo High School.

John only went to Provo School one year, so he went to Butte the last two years. They all had really good friends. We lived in a very good ward. John was the first baby blessed and born in the 22nd Ward. They had really good friends and I think good teachers. They've always been active in the church.

Candy graduated from Brigham Young University as a nurse.

HARRY: While our kids were growing up Karma and I traveled a little more than we do now. My sister lived in Cedar City. She married Dutch Smoot from down in St. George. Dutch taught at the college in Cedar City. They built a home out on the west side of Cedar. We used to go down there quite often and take the kids and Mother and Dad. We'd go down there and visit quite often.

We've been on trips to Yellowstone and California to Disneyland. We haven't been down there since. We need to go and enjoy doing things.

KARMA: Our kids had a good time.

HARRY: We had a station wagon and you could make a bed in the back.

KARMA: We went to Yellowstone when we just had the two girls. They both went to sleep and we wanted to go up and see one of the pools that was off the road a little way. A lady in the car next to us said, "I'll watch your girls. I'll watch the car." We got up there and turned around and there was a ranger walking all around our car. It had Startup Candy written on the side. We were so frightened. We ran all the way down to that car. When we got there the ranger was a fellow from Provo.

HARRY: He used to date my sister and saw Startups on the car and saw we were from Utah. He was just curious. There we thought something had really happened to our daughters. We had a good chat with him and told him about what was going on.

KARMA: Candy graduated from BYU. She's a nurse. LoaDawn worked at Zions Bank while she went to school. John went to BYU and went on his mission to England. Then he went to UVSC. Candy's married and lives in Salt Lake and has six children. LoaDawn lives here in Provo and is married to Aim Wilson who is a doctor, an anesthesiologist at Utah Valley Hospital. She has five daughters. John has three children. He lives in Spanish Fork with his wife. We have fourteen grandchildren, and two and a half great grandchildren.

We had our fiftieth wedding anniversary on the 24th of January 1997.

WINN: Before you mentioned something about the irrigation canals. Can you tell me about how they got their water around Provo?

HARRY: The Provo River ran down and into the lake. This mill race was for irrigation on down below here. It would go down into the pastures like the First Ward pasture.

KARMA: It was a detriment to this factory a few years ago, before they covered it.

HARRY: Provo Hide and Fur owned this whole building after the Depression. They put in some small culverts.

KARMA: The pipe was too small. They covered it but they covered it with too small of a pipe.

HARRY: It was open on this side and was closed underneath the building. It would back up because the flow couldn't go through these pipes. It would back up and come in that back window and into the basement. It was terrible.

KARMA: We had an awful time until Provo City finally covered all of it.

HARRY: I kept after them and after them. They wouldn't do anything. One day it happened and I called them up to come down. They mayor and all of them were in here helping us clean this up. Right after that they got it down. I'm sure it was with an engineer. He was down here and a fireman. It was a mess. Deer Creek has helped a lot with the irrigation of this valley.

KARMA: At his folk's home they had an artesian well.

HARRY: We used to water our gardens and the lawn.

WINN: Is it still active?

HARRY: No, they've kind of dried up.

KARMA: They didn't have to irrigate down the furrows like everyone else at the time. We'd flood our lawn and it was so fun. We'd wade in it.

WINN: I really appreciate you helping. Thank you very much.

KARMA: We were married in January of 1945. It was after the war. We had a lot and plans to build a home. You couldn't build a home because you didn't have priority for the materials. The real estate man would take us around. He took us past these little homes on the east before they were excavated. Two days before we were to be married, the contractor had his office over here. The man that was working on them came in and said, "Harry I think that if you want to get one of those homes, somebody's going back on a deal." He came down and brought the wedding cake. He said, "Guess what, I bought us a house sight unseen." That's how desperate people were.

HARRY: We looked everywhere and couldn't ever find anything.

KARMA: We had to wait two months to get into the house. But we could not buy a new refrigerator. We had an ice box in our kitchen for a year. He drilled a hole underneath and put little holes, so it would drain into a bucket. All of the kids nowadays think they have to have everything when they start out. It's a little different. Although we didn't have it bad at all. But to think we could get into a home and enough to buy the drapes.

HARRY: When I came home from the Army I wanted to buy a car. We had to wait a little while. I had my name in. A.L. Duckett had a place over on University Avenue. I put my name in and bought us a 1946 brand new Plymouth. It was maroon color. I came out to work to get Karma and told her I had it if she would still marry me.

Kids wrote me a note when they grew up in Provo. They'd go down and there was windows all along the south side where they made clear coating. They'd look in the window and watch him pour candy clear. Clem would take a clear toy and hand out the window to them. They've said, "I remember going down there and getting a clear toy." If there would be a broken one, he'd hand it to them. They'd just line up down there. That was years ago.

Richard's Candy had a little store. It used to be Keeley's. They were around on Main Street in Provo. The lady that worked for them named Eliza Berdler was quite a business lady who would sell candy. She knew it really well. She worked for Keeley's. Then Keeley's closed and then Richard's bought the company. They moved around the block on University Avenue in Center Street. 45 North University Avenue.

They were in business for some time. Then they approached us wanting us to take over their business. We had never been in the retail business. This was the first time. We were years ago when Dad was in business.

They had an ice cream store and a candy store on Center Street. John found the building. It's still standing. It's the building next to China Lily. John was really interested. We found out because we have an early day picture of the front of it. We thought it was 181, but it was 81 West on Center Street. The way they had it printed, it looked like 181. It was 81. John did a little checking and found it.

KARMA: It was where Sweet Briar store used to be. It was a nice little shop.

HARRY: Actually we've got a picture of that store if you want a copy of it. My mother met my father through that store. She worked in the store. My Aunt Minnie, Dad's sister worked in the store with her. That's where Dad met my mother.

If there are some other things that I can remember, I'd be glad to let you know. We have a real good history of the early candy business and also telling about our family coming over from England. John could make a copy for you. It would be good to have.

Interviewee: Harry and Karma Startup
Interviewer: Jennifer Winn
May 4, 1999

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