Library Tutorials
close
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.
Historic Provo

Oral History of Jay & Donna Stevens

ORAL HISTORY TRANSCRIPTION


WINN: I'm here with Donna McCord Stevens and Jay Stevens. Donna, can you tell me your earliest memories of Provo?


DONNA: I'm not sure but I think there were probably only about 18,000 people. My home was out across the street from the cemetery, about where the County Health Center is located now. My dad and his brother built our house originally. It was a one room log cabin. They went into the local canyons and cut logs and hauled them down to build that.


Their mother and their father had been divorced. She came from American Fork with her family of six children. That's when the two older boys built the little cabin. It had a little attic up above. The boys slept up above and the rest of the family, two girls and the mother, slept down below. I don't really remember at what period in time the house got built.


JAY: Her dad worked for Provo Brick and Tile and with part of his pay he got the bricks to build that part of the house. Provo Brick and Tile had a clay deposit somewhere in this general area. They would dig the clay pit. That was the brick yard which is roughly where the newspaper office is now. It was about 2nd West and about 1500 North. Provo Brick and Tile was up in that area.


They would take the clay up there, make the bricks, fire them and sell them from there. Her dad worked for Provo Brick and Tile. He was thirteen or fourteen years old. They didn't have child labor laws in those days.


DONNA: He was about seventeen when they got the blocks for the house and built the first rooms on it.


There was Ellen and Neda and Alice and myself. Then five years later there was a baby boy that died shortly after birth. There were five children.


I remember on Sunday we had ice cream. There was an ice house in Provo. It was a wagon. We had a refrigerator ice box.


WINN: Describe it for me.


JAY: It was a chest with ice in one side. You could put milk and butter on the shelves and the ice was cold.


DONNA: There is a pipe that came down and you had a pan underneath to catch the water as it dripped. Periodically you had to remember to empty the pan. There would be an ice wagon come around periodically and sell ice. That's where you got your ice for the ice box in the kitchen.


On Sunday we had ice cream. Mama would make the ice cream and Dad would supervise. Us kids would all stick around and make it. We all wanted to lick the dasher when it was done. We always had a dog and a cat. The dog and the cat got to lick the dasher off.


JAY: The old family home was with two girls and the mother and four boys. Winnifred Jones' grandmother was one of the girls.


DONNA: Winnie Jones' mother was my cousin.


JAY: Winnie Jones' grandmother was one of the young girls that lived in the log cabin.


DONNA: She was the same age. Winnifred and I talked. I talked about my aunt Jennie and she talked about her grandmother Jennie. This was the same person. She lived in Provo for many many years.


JAY: I had a Jennie Wilkins as a school teacher in the seventh grade at the old Provo Junior High, which was a white brick building behind the high school which is now where the city building is on Third West and Center Street.


WINN: Were you born also in Provo?


JAY: No, I'm a newcomer to Provo. I moved in about 1927. Sometimes people remind me of that. You're a newcomer. Her aunt, Winnie Jones' grandmother, was my school teacher when I was in the seventh grade.


DONNA: We used to go over to the cemetery and search for the bird's nests over there. We didn't disturb them, but we knew where all of the bird's nests were. The cemetery wasn't that big then.


WINN: What were some of the activities that you were both involved in as children?


JAY: We didn't know each other until college days, 1934. She did a lot of hiking on the mountains here. So did I—but not together. There was no cross meeting at all.


DONNA: Later on, after we were married, we did together.


JAY: We were talking last night about temple hill, which is the BYU upper campus now. BYU campus was down on Fifth North and University Avenue. They had an upper campus up on the hill with two or three buildings, called temple hill. There was a stadium there. It was a field with a few seats and old bleachers. I remember going up there as a child in fourth, fifth or sixth grade for a school activity of some kind. It was a dusty ball field on temple hill. That's where the whole BYU campus is now.


We moved to Provo when I was in the very end of the fifth grade. The teacher got all the kids together and said, "You bring a lunch. Tomorrow we're going up Rock Canyon." We left from Maeser School over here and walked up through the little lane. It seems to me we went forever and went up Rock Canyon to what was then known as devil's kitchen. There was a little place in the rocks that had a little bit of an overhang. There had been some fires built in there. That was devil's kitchen.


DONNA: If you've been up Rock Canyon then you probably know about it.


JAY: There was a gold mine up there at one time, way up in the north side of Rock Canyon. There was a cable that brought ore cars in the vicinity of this devil's kitchen. There were a couple of abandoned ore carts down there and the cable was broken, but you could see where the cable went up the valley. The trail went up the canyon and doubled back to get up to these mines.


DONNA: I loved hiking. To this day I'd like to hike, but my knees don't do it very much anymore. We had some good times together. Back in those days I could go hiking with the dogs alone. Now who would let their daughter go off alone into the mountains?


JAY: Your dog was a lot of protection because he was your dog. If somebody growled at you, the dog would snarl back.


DONNA: But I never had the dog under my control. The dog could have killed somebody and I wouldn't have been able to control the dog.


WINN: You mentioned that you were both here during the Depression, how did the Depression affect your family, personally, and also Provo as a whole?


JAY: I wasn't particularly aware of the Depression. My father raised vegetables and bought fruits and had a little panel truck he'd go out in the neighborhoods selling vegetables. He'd go to the markets and trade carrots for pork chops or carrots for hamburger or whatever. We didn't understand the Depression at my place, because we had regular meals. We had all the clothing we could use: one pair of overalls and a pair of shoes. And a good pair of overalls for Sunday. We had as much as anybody else did. Looking back on it we were poor people, victims of the Depression. But we didn't realize it.


I went to school and everybody else had the same kind of clothes. Some of them were a little newer than the rest of us, but everybody wore bib overalls. We were the same as anybody else—rich people or poor people.


DONNA: My folks lost a lot of money in the Depression. But to tell you the truth, I think I must have been so tied up in all my own activities that I don't think I ever really understood what they must have gone through. Like Jay said, we still had food on the table. We still had clothes. We never went without things like that.


I remember my two special girlfriends would go out in the evening. We'd have to choose between going to a movie. They didn't cost like they do now. Or having an ice cream soda. Or going for a walk. We walked and walked many nights the streets of Provo doing our thing. Maybe we had an ice cream soda or a candy bar, but you didn't have that and go to a show both.


Sure, we felt the Depression, but not I suppose like our folks did. We were tied up with our own.


JAY: They had the responsibility of providing for a family at that time. We were the family and we couldn't care less. We didn't understand the Depression. Looking back on it now we were as rich as anybody else and we were as poor as anybody else. You weren't really aware of any differences.


We came from the little town of Garfield west of Salt Lake. My father had known the manager of the little movie house in that town and this manager would let me and my brother hand out handbills, take them around to all the houses. He'd give us a couple of tickets to the show for our work. We thought that was a pretty good deal.


When we came to Provo we jumped into most of the movie houses here in town and said, "We're available. We understand handing out bills to all the houses. We don't bury them. We take good care of them." We got a job at the old Paramount Theater. Any time they had hand bills to deliver out to the houses, we got the job. We had passes. We didn't get money. They had passes to the show. I think from the time I was about 12 years old I never paid for a movie ticket. I had enough passes I could take a friend whenever I wanted. Movies were not a problem. I never paid for them.


DONNA: No wonder, Jay, you always told me, "We've seen that." I hadn't seen it.


JAY: It didn't cost me any money.


WINN: Were either of you involved in the Works Program?


JAY: I had a little job after high school. I don't know what the name of it was, but it was a youth program to help young people. It was a working project where we built doll furniture, cribs and little tables. The teacher in the class had been the shop teacher at the old Provo High School. I had known him quite well. He would come where I was working and say, "Now if you do this and this it will work out better. If you do this." I turned out quite a number of pieces of doll furniture. I got paid 75 cents an hour. I couldn't work more than four hours a day and no more than three days a week. But I got real money.


WINN: Were you married before the war or after the war?


DONNA: During the war. We were married in 1940. For a couple of those early years we didn't pay too much attention to the war. We were in our early days of marriage. Our first daughter was born in October of 1943. By that time the draft was creeping down our back. At 6:00 Christmas Eve the post man left mail and in that mail was the notice that his draft had come up.


JAY: Let's back track a little bit. I had been working up in Canada, working on the AlCan Highway. My part of the job finished in October, so I came home and got a job out at Geneva Steel Plant. They were building that, so I went to work out there. We had desks back to back so that I sat there facing the chairman of the draft board. Christmas Eve day I said, "Andy, are you sending out draft notices tonight?" He said, "We're sending some." I said, "Is my name in there?" "I don't know." I said, "Would you tell me if you did know?" "Oh, yes." He had signed my draft notic


The first time I saw him I said, "Andy, you're a liar. I'll hate you forever. You ruined my Christmas." Because if I had known that draft notice was there I would have gone and hid it, because it killed Christmas for all of us. I had to report to the Army early in January. I was gone for two years and six days.


DONNA: Mary was born in October. He left when she was about six weeks old.


JAY: I was in the Philippines and Japan for two years and six days.


DONNA: He missed all those two years.


JAY: The day the Japanese hit Pearl Harbor we had gone ice skating up at Vivian Park. They had a pond out there at Vivian. It used to freeze over in the winter. That was about the only ice skating arena around. We went up there ice skating. When we came home, they said the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor. My first idea was, "Where's Pearl Harbor?" I didn't know about that. We found out quickly.


DONNA: Those were two years I would hate to have to do over again.


WINN: What did you do during that time?


DONNA: We were in an apartment with a kitchen and living room. The living room had a pull down bed and I put Mary's crib in the kitchen. I had a baby buggy. My folks' home was down where we talked about. This was up on 7th East. I'd put Mary in the baby buggy and walk out to home. I had a lot of meals with my folks. We'd walk back home and walk all over.


JAY: When we were in Canada we went down to the Hudson Base there and bought this really handy baby buggy. You can't find anything like that, even to resemble it here in Utah. We shipped it home and it was quite a novelty here. I think she walked off about three sets of rubber tires.


DONNA: I just passed the time that way. I never got out and had a job. Letters. I tried to write a letter every day. I thought he was writing to me every day. But his letters would come several at a time. A long time after he was home he confessed that he'd write a batch of them at once, all at the same time.


JAY: I would just date them Tuesday or Wednesday.


DONNA: I could have killed him. All that time I thought my dear sweet husband was writing every day.


JAY: I had a friend in the Army. He lived in Indiana and he hated the cold weather. He moved to Florida and came out here to visit. He got talking and started on this story about writing ten letters a day. We had to spill the whole thing. George was the key to opening that. There was nothing to do out there. Each day was like all the other days.


WINN: Do you still have those letters? Did you save them?


JAY: They're here someplace.


DONNA: I don't know where. Somewhere down in the basement.


JAY: They would not make us promise. We would talk about food. There was nothing else to do. I was in the signal corp and I worked shift work. We'd work about eight hours on and the rest of the time off, around the clock. They'd have a day shift and an afternoon and a night. You would sleep when you could. I was out in the Philippine Islands. It was hot and it rained a lot. There was nothing to do. You couldn't go swimming in the ocean because there was sharks.


DONNA: Speaking of letters, a little off the subject. I got a letter dated 1878 when my mother was two years old. It was written by her aunt. I can't remember exactly. It was written by an aunt to her mother. Her mother's name was Dilla. They spoke of Dilla, how was she now. She was two years old. My mother was born in 1876 and that letter is dated 1878.


JAY: Provo has changed considerably. Main Street and Center Street East and West was paved down to Fifth West and it was dirt tracks west of that. University Avenue was paved up to about Fifth North and dirt above that. Second West was a wiggly dirt path. Until the late 1940s the railroad came down Second West. The Heber Creeper.


DONNA: The road past our house, I can remember when they put the cement there. I can't think of what year it was.


JAY: It was the middle 1920s.


DONNA: They had to fill in with water and then raise the big blocks.


JAY: They built the main highway west, the Lincoln Highway, from Salt Lake to San Francisco, about the same period of time. That was in the middle 1920s. We'd go down and help when we were kids. We'd help them every day.


DONNA: What I do remember is the horse drawn hearse that used to come out to the cemetery. It had glass sides, so you could see the coffin inside. Two horses pulled it. They had big plumes on their heads. I can still see the horses dancing up and down with these big coffins. They would go to the cemetery.


WINN: What were your school years like? You two met at school?


JAY: My earliest school days were at the Maeser School. We moved into Provo.


DONNA: She wants to know when we were together at school.


JAY: At BYU we were each taking a commercial art class. She was way over in that corner and I was down here. I heard her talking one day and I liked her voice, so I found out who she was. Then I was working at the movie houses. I went over to the library, which was on the corner east, by First East and Center Street. I went in there on a break from the movie house. She and her friend were there. They were struggling with a physics problem which was my specialty. I was struggling with an English problem which was their specialty. So I traded. That's when we got acquainted. That was in the fall of 1934. We got married in 1940.


We had some relationships along the way in between. I had other girlfriends, she had other boyfriends. We got together. It took six years to getting around to getting together.


DONNA: We've nursed each other through several heartbreaking courtships.


JAY: I remember when we first went to Provo, the first day or two after we'd been here, I went to school over at Maeser School. I had my lunch sack in a big paper sack. Everybody lined up outside and went uptown. We'd stand uptown and watch the funeral for the mayor of Provo. It was Kay Hansen. The mayor had died and they were having a public funeral with a parade to say good bye to him. I don't know if it was 1927 or 1928. If you care to check it out in the newspaper it would be there. His son later became our dentist.


DONNA: When you know good people you know they're good to you. "How much do we owe you?" "Oh, nothing. We'll figure it up next time."


WINN: When you came back from the war, had things changed in Provo?


JAY: Not particularly. I was only gone two years. Provo hadn't really changed a great deal. When the iron mill out here, Ironton, came in, there was an influx of new population. That was in the early thirties. I wasn't too much aware of that because I wasn't into things. Then Geneva Steel came in early in the war time. By the time I got out of the Army, they'd served their needs and were closing up.


We lived in the same block. Our house was out on the north side of Farrer Junior High. We'd go over there and help them build that. They'd kick us out every few minutes, but we'd go back. If you've been in the school, they have a hall and then two ramps to take you up to the second floor. There are no stairs. We'd take our bicycles and ride down the ramps while they were building the thing. We'd run into the walls. They'd kick us out. In a few minutes we'd come back.


I don't know where we can go with remembering things.


WINN: How was it raising your children in Provo? What were some of the activities that were they involved in? What were some of the things that they encountered?


JAY: I don't think there was any problem along the way. I wasn't too much involved. I went to work every day. She raised the children.


WINN: While you were raising your children, were they involved in any sports activities or recreational activities?


JAY: Mary got into girl scouts. She was in the gifted children's program at Maeser School. She and a couple of the other girls were what they call now gifted. They got their day's work done in about an hour, so the teacher would give them a special assignment. She got involved in that. Our son got into cub scouts.


DONNA: We were so thankful. We never had any problems with drugs. I never heard of drugs.


JAY: Drugs or alcohol, neither of our kids had those.


DONNA: As far as we know. Who knows what went on that we never knew about. We had our differences of opinions, but I don't think we had any real problems. The last year that our daughter was home, her last year in college, she still lived at home. She didn't like us very well at that point.


JAY: We didn't do well.


DONNA: She was just busy with her own life.


JAY: She was the right age to be rebellious.


DONNA: She went into the Peace Corps immediately after she graduated from BYU. She went into the Peace Corps and went to Columbia in South America and was there for a couple of years.


JAY: She got sick. She acquired internal worms and they sent her back to the hospital in Washington, D.C.


DONNA: It wasn't quite two years. Then she had worked in Yellowstone in the summers for two or three summers and had met a young man from Denver. He had gone into the Peace Corps in Bolivia. They managed to get together once in a while. He got back home in Washington about the same time she did. I can't remember all these dates. They got married. We never did go to their wedding. They got married. That marriage didn't last. That's what happened after the Peace Corps.


JAY: Our son went to BYU and got a bachelor's degree in chemistry. He went up to the University of Utah and got a PhD in atomic engineering.


DONNA: Mary got a master's degree also.


JAY: That was in library science down in Texas. Our son went to the University of Utah and got a PhD degree and went to the University of Illinois to do some post-doctoral work. He went to work for an atomic group in Washington. He is a research chemist. I'm sure he's not in a chemistry lab. We talked to him yesterday on the phone and he said, "Friday I'm going to Sweden."


DONNA: He tells us what he's doing.


JAY: "I'll go Friday and come back Thursday. A quick trip. The following week I go to Washington D.C. early in the week and get home on Thursday." He does a lot of traveling. He is the United States representative in a worldwide organization that has worked on getting renewable fuels. Gasoline or coal or natural gas, when we use it, it's gone. There's no more. Stuff like wood chips or peanut shells, there's a lot of things that next year you'll have some more of them, renewable fuel. He is working with groups throughout the world looking into renewable fuels. He tells me that you can make gasoline out of wood chips for about two dollars a gallon, which is not unreasonable in today's world. When they first got the process, it was horrible because gasoline was fifty cents a gallon. Now they sell gas for $2.00. That's our kids.


DONNA: People ask me what he does and I say, "Ask his father." It would be nice to have them around, but they're not. He lived in Washington and our daughter is down near St. George.


WINN: What were some of the recreational activities that you did? You mentioned that you liked to hike.


JAY: We went on lots of lots of family vacations. We took family vacations. We went to the Grand Canyon, Capitol Reef and to Vernal, the dinosaur area.


DONNA: We had some good trips.


JAY: Our kids did not get into organized softball or this sort of thing. Don was in cub scouts, but not in organized kids sports.


DONNA: They were like their parents. We had never been very much into organized things. Neither one of us had ever played ball. We'd rather go for a good hike. Running seems to be the thing now. Nobody ever heard of that very much back in my day. That would be helpful. If I could run to school.


JAY: If you had a backpack to put your books in. You had to carry those on your arm.


DONNA: If we could have run, that would have been neat.


JAY: I think we've had what you might consider a very sedate, normal living experience. We haven't done anything great and wonderful. We haven't done that.


DONNA: We love to travel. Since our kids left home we've done quite a bit of traveling. That's been nice.


JAY: Just as an example, we've been to Alaska, Hawaii, Fiji, Australia, New Zealand, South America, down through the Caribbean, eastern Canada, western Canada. We lived up in Edmonton for a while. We've done a lot of good things.


DONNA: We've been quite a few places. Every time you talk with somebody, they've been a lot more places than we have. It certainly keeps raising.


JAY: Last December we got on the Mississippi Queen river boat and spent a week there early in December. The weather was horrible. It was cold and rainy and misty. We didn't do very much, but we were on the Mississippi River.


DONNA: They had it all decorated for Christmas.


JAY: We've done some traveling. Somewhere along the way I went to college and got a bachelor's degree in accounting and business administration. I went to work for the state of Utah and then I moved into the state training school in American Fork as the assistant superintendent. I was there for nearly ten years.


Then I left that and went to a set of corporations that dealt with retarded kids. I worked there for another four or five years. I was chairman of the board of six different corporations. I quit that a few years ago.


DONNA: I look back on my life and what in the world have I done. I really haven't done much of anything but I certainly enjoyed it. If that means anything.


JAY: Clear back in the history of Provo I guess as a child I was not interested or concerned about what was going on around me until I got late in high school, in 1933, 1934, 1935. I became aware that there was a whole world out there that I didn't know very much about. I got involved in that part.


WINN: How did you get involved in that?


JAY: I got into different organizations. I put myself in a place to run for Provo City Council. I was in a couple of service clubs, the 20/30 club, the junior chamber of commerce, PTA. I was the president of the PTA for the school.


The first month of so I was at the school I noticed they didn't have a flag pole. I went to the superintendent of schools and said, "We need to get a flag pole." They cost a lot of money. I went into a fundraising drive and got $25.00. I went down here to a steel company and said, "I've got $25.00, will you build me a flag pole?" "How big do you want it?" I said, "As big as I can get it." They built us a nice flag pole. All they got was $25.00. There's a plaque on the flag pole over by the school that says, "PTA teachers put this here."


DONNA: Is that flag pole still there? I haven't been very observant.


JAY: Yes. It was planted over on the north side of the building, but they moved it on to the south side. The plaque is still there.


WINN: You mentioned Provo has changed in a lot of ways, can you think of some of the ways it has changed?


JAY: There's horrible traffic problems.


DONNA: There used to be some open spaces around this area and now every time you venture out of the house there is something new going up.


JAY: From the old highway down there where you turn the corner to go to Springville, this was mostly open fields, orchards from the state mental hospital.


DONNA: My sister and I used to come up through here and get wild asparagus up through the orchards.


JAY: There were very few houses. When we first got married in 1940 we lived in a little house a block or two from here. There were two houses east of us on that side of the street and a couple on the south side of the street. I think there was one house up in here buried in the trees. There was nothing east of that. We went clear up to the far east end of town. That was in 1940. These houses were built during the war years.


DONNA: All this was open fields and orchards. Maybe it's that we have gotten older and haven't kept up with the flow of traffic and people. It's almost overwhelming.


JAY: I'm legally blind and I don't dare cross streets alone, except in dire necessity. I will not try to cross Center Street or University Avenue. All the lights are with me. I can cross the street on Third South here. I can hear the cars. I don't get out very much. I'm not allowed to cross streets alone. Mama won't let me cross streets alone. I haven't driven a car for eight years.


WINN: What sparked the growth in Provo? What industries?


JAY: I guess it was Geneva Steel for a number of years. Then the ripple effect of other businesses coming in here. There is a window manufacturing company. There is a ladder company over in Spanish Fork that brought people into this area. I think it's the ripple effect of Geneva Steel and BYU.


There were six or seven thousand students up there when I first went up there in 1934. Some years later I was talking to a group of students and told them I was freshman in 1934. One of them said, "You must have a real low student number." I said, "No. When I was student here, we had names. We didn't have numbers." They didn't really understand all of that.


I went back to school and got a master's degree at the same time our son and his wife got bachelor's degrees. It was the same day.


DONNA: We had to make a choice as to which exercises I was going to.


JAY: That was in 1975. When we go on these bus tours, you're supposed to stand up and identify yourself and tell them a little about you. I tell people that we've been married for 59 years. We've lived in one house for over 50 years. We've got one son, one daughter and one grandchild. It may sound like a real dull life, but it's been a good life. We've enjoyed it. We started out a long time ago saying, "Let's live along the way. Let's don't say we'll save these experiences until we retire, until we get enough money to do it. Let's go do them now."


We went through Alaska about 1971. We went to Alaska the first time. We'd been talking about it. On our honeymoon when we got married we said, "Someday we're going to go to Alaska." It took us 30 years to do it.


DONNA: We went on one big last trip. That was the only one we'll ever get. Now every time we take a trip one of us says, "One last trip. That's all."


JAY: That's pretty much what we're all about.


WINN: Thank you.


JAY: I don't know how much Provo history you can work into that.


DONNA: Going back, Dad and his brother had a shoe store downtown for over 30 years. It was the McCord brothers shoe store on 42 West Center Street. When the circus used to come to town, they always had a circus parade. Us kids would go up to the store, the shoe store, and when the parade came we could step out and watch the animals going by the shoe store.


WINN: Are there any other holidays you remember in Provo?


JAY: Her family's old family home was out there. All of the relatives would come back to the family home for Memorial Day.


DONNA: It was Decoration Day in those days.


JAY: They would go decorate the graves at the old family home. She had more of a feeling for Memorial Day, Decoration Day, than I had, because I didn't have anybody in the cemetery.


DONNA: Dad's mother was over there. I had no living grandparents in my life. They were all dead before I was born. Dad and Mother are over in the cemetery. Aunt Jane's husband is over there in the cemetery. We had close connections and people would come when they had somebody in the cemetery too. The Heber Creeper would come down, the Heber relatives and others. My folks always put out a big spread. Everybody expected it. I don't recall that anybody ever brought anything to contribute to it. It was us who did it.


JAY: She had an uncle who was a minister at the Congregational Church which was on University Avenue and just above 2nd North.


DONNA: He was the one that married us.


JAY: He came out from Chicago and married us.


DONNA: We were married in the family home. Right in the middle of it, somebody from Price ordering some gasoline came. My folks were in the gasoline business at that point in time.


It was August 4 and it was hot. We were going up to Salt Lake for the first night of our honeymoon. We didn't have money to do much else. We had a car. Uncle Charlie married us. He had to get up to the train station in Salt Lake because he was going up to California. Aunt Jenny had itchy feet. She said, "If you're going to Salt Lake, do you mind if I ride up with you too, then I'll find some way to get home." So we started out in the afternoon taking Uncle Charlie to the train station, taking Aunt Jenny up to Salt Lake. I don't remember where we dropped her off.


JAY: We dropped her off at the train station.


DONNA: We went to dinner or something and the Newhouse Hotel was there. It's gone now. That was a nice hotel. That's where we had our reservations for. I don't know if we had to make reservations.


JAY: I think we had a nice middle class room.


DONNA: I've still got the receipt someplace for $3.00.


JAY: A nice middle class room. To get a $5.00 room, we couldn't afford that.


DONNA: This was before the days of air conditioning.


JAY: We opened the window and the transients were out in the hallway.


DONNA: We nearly died that first night of our marriage. It was so hot.


JAY: The next night we went up to what is now the homestead.


DONNA: There was hot pots there.


JAY: The family that ran the place was sitting out in rocking chairs on their porch almost as if they had been waiting all day for us to show up. They made us welcome.


DONNA: But we didn't have a bathroom. There was a bathroom down the hall. That was the second night. That was our two night honeymoon. Then we got back home.


Every time the fourth of August rolls around we remember that awful hot night. We still like to do something special for our anniversary day, but we have a hard time coming up with something every time. We've got to get to sixty so we can really do something.


JAY: I can hardly walk now.


WINN: Thank you very much for letting me come over here.


DONNA: It's been our pleasure.


JAY: Donna is the very last of her family. Any questions we have, there's nobody to ask. We have a couple of mysteries in the family. Her mother and her sister were left as orphans. They came out to live with another family in Vernal. I've often wondered how she got to Vernal. There were no trains. Here is a ten or twelve year old girl. Did they send her on the train to Salt Lake alone? How did this ten or twelve year old girl get up to Utah in the 1800s? There's nobody to ask.


DONNA: As long as you've got family, any questions you might have about your family history, find out. Because all of a sudden the years go by and if you were in the same position I'm in, it will all die off and you will be the last one with nobody to ask when these questions come up.


JAY: I have one sister. There were five of us children in my family. I have one sister left. I've tried to get her to sit down and talk about the early days.


DONNA: You go along and earlier you take everything for granted. You know about this so what's the big deal. Soon somebody is gone and all my aunts and uncles are gone. I have no one older than me. Dad and Mom came from big families. They're all gone. Find out anything you want to find out along the way as you think of things. Find them out before it's too late.

Interviewee: Jay and Donna (McCord) Stevens
Interviewer: Jennifer Winn
June 16, 1999



Return to Oral Histories List