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Historic Provo

Oral History of Karl Miller

ORAL HISTORY TRANSCRIPTION


MORRIS: It is June 21, 1988. I am Carla Morris and I am interviewing Karl Miller. We are at his home at 738 North 380 West in Provo. He is 84 years old. Tell me about your life and your memories of Provo.


MILLER: I thought you wanted to know something about the library first.


MORRIS: That would be fine.


MILLER: You understand that C. W. Andelin was connected with the library. O. W. Andelin happened to be a teacher at B.Y. Academy. He taught German. Of course, my father came from Germany. He was the first professional musician for band and orchestra at B.Y.A. Of course he became acquainted with O. W. Andelin. We used to go up to Andelins quite often. They lived on 7th East and 6th North. We walked up there every twice in a while. I remember distinctly all that I heard about when I first went there was about the Provo City Library. He was concerned about it. Every time I went up there, for a long time, maybe during an entire year, or half of year he'd say, "Now, if they'll only vote for this." I was just a little kid and I didn't understand about voting and so on. But then he talked about it, it seemed like he talked about the Carnegie Foundation. Clifton Moffitt here tells about the Carnegie Foundation in his book, Provo. I remember that Andelin said, "If we don't get it, we're going to lose a lot of money for the building." That's all I heard about every time we were up there. They would talk about that, Brother and Sister Andelin all talked about Carnegie Foundation and the library.


MORRIS: In the meantime your father had died.


MILLER: Yes, Father died when I was a couple years old.


MORRIS: When you look at the library and understand where it is, you wonder why it was built in Provo right on the Main Street. Well, as a matter of fact, that was center of town. And the Eggertson home up here on about 8th North and University Avenue was almost out of Provo. We lived at 1000 North 2nd East. It was 150 East then. The road up 150 East was next to a big canal, at least it was a big ditch. It was a one-way street. Mayor Hanson lived at one home. The Bairds lived in the next house. We lived in the next house. So when Provo City wanted to build their electric plant, they solicited everybody. A lady came up to see us about Provo City Power. I said, "Before you get to talking about Provo City Power, you want us to vote for Provo City, don't you? We are out of the limits of Provo City." That's right up here. Rainbow Gardens, I don't know whether you know anything about Rainbow Gardens.


MORRIS: Yes.


MILLER: It was located in a big lot, and that was out of Provo City. Can you imagine that? Rainbow Gardens. And the bowling alley up there, Regal Bowling Alley, that was out of Provo City. That's below 1230 North. I'm telling you this because they wanted to build the library building in the city. Well, nowadays, they build it outside the city center so you can drive there and have parking area. There was no need of parking areas then. We didn't have any automobiles. Swabb Brothers had a clothing store in town, the biggest clothing store. That's where the City Drug used to be. Right on that block. And they were wealthy people. They were the only ones in town that had an automobile. And I used to go to school and they lived between 2nd and 3rd North on Academy Avenue. And as I went to school I'd see that automobile. We'd look it over every day. That was a marvelous thing. 55 West and 2nd North is where I lived. And by the way, that was almost in town, wasn't it? We used lamps for our lighting. We didn't have electricity then. Can you imagine that? Right in Provo City. We didn't have electricity. The power company came in 1912. Utah Power and Light took it over from Telluride in 1912. That was about the time they finally put lights into our home, 55 West 2nd North. That was just south of the St. Mary's Church.


So when you think of nowadays you build a stadium or a Marriott Center, we've got to have more places to park cars than we have to build the building. Four or five more places. Ten more places. In those days it wasn't necessary. We had a horse and buggy and we drove there to the library. Most of the people walked. So you've got to keep this in mind that there was no need of parking area. Therefore they put it right on the block. There isn't any parking place around there is there? Oh, well, in the front there along the Columbia Theater and so on, you could park there during the day. At night there's a show, so people came, most people walked.


Andelins had a horse and buggy, and we went for a ride with the horse and buggy sometimes. Robert Sower, who took my father's place at BYU, had a horse and buggy. And once in a while they'd come and get us and go for a ride. We'd go down to the lake or out to the Provo Infirmary out on Springville Road just for the ride, a buggy ride. I'm giving you all this information to give you an idea why it wasn't necessary to build the library in a big lot with a vacant area around it for parking. There was no need of it. The Provo Post Office used to be on 1st North and 1st West; originally that was the tithing lot. And the Indians used to come every summer. One tribe would come, put up their wickiups. You'd see across the board fence the pole sticking up. We used to watch them. Then, when they'd leave, they'd stay a week or so, then another tribe would come in from the reservation. Of course 55 West 2nd North, where I lived, that's a big house. Two-story, brand new home. Of course, that could be considered a wealthy place. So the squaws used to come and beg all the time. They'd knock on the door and scare the stuffing right out of me. There would be a couple of five by five (large) squaws standing there with some kids in front and I thought "What will I do?" So I'd call mother, "Mom. Mom." And she'd say, "Oh, I have a little boy." They always called us cotton tops. My hair was as white as it's up here. Mother said that she was a widow and she would give them the best she could. And we'd give them something. That is an idea of what Provo used to be like here.


In fact, I want to reaffirm that Andelin always talked about the library. That was in 1907 when they finally, according to Moffitt's book here, finally voted. At that time there were 120 volumes in the library. But do you know when Room D was the library up to BYA and they transferred to the new library, the Heber J. Grant Library, they only had 17,000 volumes and 25,000 pamphlets. I was working at the library there. And I counted every one of those pamphlets. Sister Gillespie gave me that job. I went through all of that. Twenty-five thousand and now we have I guess a million volumes don't we? And that shows you a comparison of the growth and so on. That's why we need a new library right now. Pure and simple. Now, back in Room D, when we had the library there, N. I. Butt, he was the archivist, they put books in every nook and corner of the lower campus. No place to put them in the library. We had the White Cotton Library. They had to get another room for it. Then we got the Alice Louise Reynolds, then the Brimhall Library. And had to add another room to the library for the theology library and so on. But every nook and corner was filled with books. And in fact some of the other places in the other buildings were also used. Now, I hope they don't have to do that again. That's the reason we got a new library up there, the Heber J. Grant Library. When they built that library, the north end of it was just kind of a sawed-off affair if you look at it now. They had the anticipation of building out a larger area for more books. So they didn't really develop the north side. When they got to the point of expansion, they found out that this was a cracker box, pardon the expression; it was a cracker box compared to what they needed. You know they got the Lee Library building. Later they added onto that Lee Library, twice as big as it used to be.


MORRIS: Yes. I was there...


MILLER: Look at the difference. We've got a wonderful collection of books up there. And when you think about the lower campus, a fire trap, it was kind of bad. Sister Gillespie, N.I. Butt and Alice Louise Reynolds tried their little best to get President Harris to get a new library. He came to BYU in 1921. It wasn't until 1925 that the Heber J. Grant Library building was built. That's too many years go by of stacking stuff everywhere. I bet that's what they do down here at Provo City Library now.


MORRIS: Yes.


MILLER: I don't go down to the Provo City Library as much as I should. But I have been down there a time or two. And it's very reserved and quiet. And I could put my books out on a table. When I study, I have to have a big table to spread everything out. And I could study to good advantage then. Of course, I usually go up to the library on the hill or stay at home now and do all the work. So that kind of gives you an idea of this library, the comparison of Room D and the Heber J. Grant Library and the Harold B. Lee Library. That's what you're driving for right now. I hope they build a building big enough to house more than ten volumes or so, that they used to have. I hope they get a million volumes. That'll take a lot of space, believe me, to put someplace, on those stacks. When they built the Heber J. Grant Library, we took all the books up there. They hauled them up in the BYU team and wagon. Not an automobile, if you please. That was only in 1925. We live in different world now. We have to have an automobile. If we'd go from here to Andelins, we'd have to drive up there. Never walk. If we go down to Provo City Library, we have to drive. We couldn't walk down there.


MORRIS: That's true.


MILLER: They hauled all the books downstairs from Room D. We got all the kids and all the students to help carry them up and down. They put them out of the window and lowered them down. Imagine the team and horses were pretty slow. They took all those books up there. Put them on the shelves, and the shelves are only half full. Oh, a fourth, I guess. So that was a big improvement. But look at the volumes they have now. Then, as a matter of fact, they started again to stack everything up in the Grant Library building down this nook and that place and over here. I remember because I worked up there then. I was in charge of the buildings. So I know what they did. I hope they don't do that now. It's big enough. Okay now?


MORRIS: Yes. It's okay.


MILLER: There's a little correction I want to bring up. My father built the home on 55 West 2nd North and we lived there for quite a number of years. And then when I was hired at BYU, I lived at 1000 North and 2nd East. That's why I mentioned that when we lived up there, we lived out of Provo City. But when we lived at 55 West, we lived right in Provo City. Of course, 55 West was right next to the Woolen Mills. My mother was a widow. My father died when I was two and a half years old. Of course, she had that house. We rented to students and had boarders. How in the world my mother lived and kept us three kids (I had two sisters), is a miracle to me. My hat is off to her, I'll tell you. I respect her a great deal for keeping us together. I don't believe I ever went without something to eat. I never was hungry in my life, and that's something to talk about, I'll tell you. People from the Woolen Mills and boarders lived in our house. All at once we heard the terrible shrieking of the whistle outside, signaling that the Woolen Mills caught on fire. That was a blaze to be remembered. I think it seems like that Mayor Dixon was the mayor at the time. And when he came and turned the water on from a hydrant, his heart sunk because he realized that we didn't have enough water to really do a lot of good. Of course, without water how can you put a fire out? But they saved two sections pretty well. The one big rock building was loaded down with wool, and the grease form the wool was just a fire kindle like. It went up in smoke. The old smoke stack is still there. That was a big fire.


They had a streetcar. The Provo City Railroad Company used to run from B.Y.A. down to the lake resort, which operated on Sundays. It was a steam locomotive. Of course, there was some comment when the school was at the ZCMI building on 6th South, they thought maybe if the railroad would get going enough, they'd get tickets to go up to the lower campus, which was on 5th North. But it never did materialize. Of course, they hauled a lot of material up there for building the Academy and college buildings. About 1912 they had a streetcar in Provo that ran from BYU and 8th North down through Provo City to Center Street over to 3rd West down to the railroad station and then back over Academy Avenue and up to BYU again. The little streetcar was two-wheel streetcar (four-wheels on the streetcar, two wheels on each side). The streetcars were rather close coupled so they didn't have to turn when they make a turn around the road. If they came down and made a turn to go west, it was close enough coupled so it wouldn't have any trouble. During the winter we didn't have any snowplows then and everybody had a bobsled and we wanted the streets packed down with snow so we could use a bobsled or a cutter, and of course we never cleaned the roads. And the railroad, the streetcar, had a lot of trouble going up and down because they were packed and frozen. In the spring they'd come out there and they'd try to run the streetcar. They'd go up about ten feet and back up again, then ten feet more up and down, up and down. Finally they were successful to keep the ice out of the tracks so that they could run. We used to watch them do that all the time. A car would get off the track at times and they'd trouble getting the car back on again someway.


I remember we went from out place 55 West 2nd North up to Markhams. They lived right across the road for Knight Magnum Hall on 8th North. We drove up there in the streetcar, my mother and I; it was a five-cent ticket. We went up and back on that.


We used to have a sprinkling system, a water wagon pulled by horses. The water squirted out behind the wagon to keep the dust down on the road. Finally the city went into buying a big truck, a big water wagon, with an engine on behind to pump the water out. They'd pump it out in front and spread it all over almost the entire road. I remember the commissioners and the mayor and all, hopped on the truck and went down the street. They thought that was the most wonderful thing. But by the time they got to the other end it was dry because they didn't put enough water on it to even talk about. So they had to get their heads together and put a sprinkler on that would really put some water out. This truck would hold a lot more water than the horse-drawn tank would. Finally they got some concrete streets. And they had to have something to clean the streets off. So they bought a horse drawn, air tight water wagon. When the tank was filled with water, it would compress the air in the tank. And that compressed air was used to squirt the water out on the street. George Duke, a very good friend of ours, had a team that was really a foxy team. When he first turned the water on, they almost took off with a tank full of water. And they had an awful time quieting those horses down. I used to watch them all the time. Finally it got to the point where the horses didn't pay any attention to it. When they'd turn around, the water would squirt on their feet and they didn't pay any attention to that. The first time, though, they had a lot of trouble. Then, at one time, the Utah Valley Gas Company had to have a tank of gas to go over to Springville for the Fourth of July or something like that. I don't know what event it was. So they filled the water wagon full of gas and George Duke, drove it over to Springville to use gas there to run their hot plates and burners.


MORRIS: That's interesting.


MILLER: Nobody will ever know that. I do. George told me about it.


Reed Smoot brought President Taft here to Provo. Reed Smoot was the senator from Utah. And Taft was the President of the United States. Reed Smoot had to get more votes to make sure he got into office again, so he brought Taft here as a campaign supporter. Reed Smoot took him up on Temple Hill and showed what Temple Hill was and the possibility of building a school up there. Now Reed Snoot was the number one person, (well there were three or four people I guess) who wanted BYU or BYA to build up on Temple Hill. Reed told his father, Abraham O. Smoot, this long before they ever thought of going up on Temple Hill. The thing that changed them around was the fact that they wanted to build a building for Karl G. Maeser. First they wanted to have a statue. Finally it was decided that they would build a building south of the college building. But then, the missionary movement came along and they wanted to build a preparatory and missionary building at the school. BYU wanted to build it. They wanted to build it right where the alumni wanted to build the Maeser Building. Finally they decided to put it up north. And that's where the art building is. The art building now has been changed from the missionary preparatory and missionary building to the art building. That made the alumni realize that they wanted to get a building which would be the pinnacle for the whole campus. That's why they built this building. Finally they said, "We don't want to build down here. There isn't enough room. We'll go up on the hill." And they built it up there as an administration building, to have that as the number one building. Then, way in the back, they had another spot there for a temple. That was Temple Hill.


When Taft came to Provo, they had a parade. I remember Taft was on the water wagon. No. On the steamroller, not the water wagon. The steamroller which travelled about two miles an hour. Just fast enough to walk. And he was on that steamroller. And they didn't have a bodyguard around him either in those days. Now, they've got four or five, they have more bodyguards than they have anything else. But he went down 3rd West and back on the steamroller in the parade.


Now, let's see. The old tabernacle. The old tabernacle used to be just north of the present tabernacle. And they had a bazaar in there. I remember going to the bazaar. And they had a bell. The bell used to ring every night at nine o'clock for curfew. And when we kids would be outside and listen to that bell, we'd get inside. That bell is the old Y bell now. When the razzed the old tabernacle building, the stake presidency gave the bell to BYU. Of course, Keeler was in the presidency and he was connected with BYU. The Y didn't have a decent bell up there. The high school building, or education building now, was built with a belfry. They didn't have one. They had to ring a triangle for classes for a long time. Finally they bought one. Everybody said it sounded like a wooden bell. They kept that for a few years. Finally they decided to accept the one that was used for the curfew at Provo City. And that's the bell up there now. That bell was put in the education building. Then it was cracked. It remained cracked for many years until I had our boys weld it in the heating plant. Now it can be used again. When you crack a bell, it's like the Liberty Bell. It had the same crack as the Liberty Bell. And when you have a crack, you don't get any sound. The Liberty Bell can't be repaired. It must not be repaired because that's our Liberty Bell. But this was not the Liberty Bell. It was a school bell and we needed that school bell. I have quite an article about this, and that's in my notes, about welding the bell, and now it's okay.


The Heber Creeper and the Orem Train had a collision. In this particular case it was at conference time. The Orem train had four cars on it to go to conference and it was loaded. It was an electric train, not steam. Mr. Peterson was the engineer on the Heber Creeper. Of course, coming down on 2nd West is a slope, and the train kind of coasts along. Peterson saw the Orem train on Center Street and one car was no problem. The engineer on the Orem line figured that he could make it alright. He kind of forgot that he had four cars on. So when Peterson saw this, he jumped and said, "Oh, I cannot make that." Whoop another car and another car. He was too close and he couldn't stop the Heber Creeper. He rammed right into the back end of the fourth car and smashed it and pushed it all over the road. So that's how the Heber Creeper and the Orem Lines crashed.


MORRIS: Do you remember seeing the picture in the Chuck-a-Rama up there?


MILLER: Oh. Chuck-a-Rama has the picture of the crash in their entrance. Whether it's there since they remodeled, I don't know.


APPENDIX


First Ward Pasture


The First Ward Pasture received its name because it was located along the south boundary of the First Ward. The First Ward Pasture was located at the south end of Academy Avenue. The pasture extended form about tenth South of Academy Avenue to the lake and East to the railroad tracks. Almost every family in Provo had a cow or two and sent their cows to the First Ward Pasture. The families who lived between Academy Avenue and about fourth West turned their cows onto the road each morning so they could be picked up and driven south on First West in a large herd. The herd traveled to Fifth South, then turned to the avenue, then down over the tracks to the First Ward Pasture at the end of Academy Avenue.


The cows that were located in the eastern part of Provo were herded down to the pasture on about Third or Fourth East. As I remember the herd of cows on the east side of Provo was a much larger herd than those of the First West road. Each morning the herds traveled south on their respective roads and every block additional cows entered the herd. Each morning and each evening we could hear the cowbells and watch them travel along. It was always interesting to see the large herd of cows gathered together at the First Ward Pasture waiting the time for the gate to be opened for them to return home for their evening milking. Without being directed, each cow turned into her own yard or respective barn as the herd returned home. The families who lived on the outskirts of town either on the west or the east side of Provo usually had their own private pasture for their cows.


The First Ward Pasture has been used for many things and has changed many times. It was used as a flying field for airplanes. It was used for rodeos with spectator stands. Buildings were constructed in the northern area of the pasture for a vocational school and during the summer the buildings were used for the county fair. It was the location for many circuses. The golf course occupied a greater part of the pasture. Today it is a massive production center, called the East Bay additions, and does not in any way resemble the original pastureland.


It was quite an event when the first airplane came to Provo. The only suitable open area that could be used for a landing place was the First Ward Pasture. The ground, as could be expected, was rough and bumpy but the pilot took a chance anyway. Later the pasture was the regular place for airplanes to land and air shows were demonstrated there.


The younger generation of kids, with their bamboo poles, always chose the millrace in the First Ward Pasture as a good place to fish. It was within walking distance and no hazard conditions existed.


Dairy Herds


There were three large dairy herds in Provo. One was located at the state hospital at the east end of Center Street, another was the Price Dairy across the road west of the Infirmary and on the Springville road. The third dairy was the Nuttall Dairy on 12th North across the river bridge next to the dugway. The three dairies were often visited by the BYU stock judging team with coach C.Y. Cannon. The stock judging team was comprised of seven members including Ezra T. Benson and Karl Miller. The Price and Nuttall Jersey herds had a high rating, and many cows were being tested for milk production. The dairy herd at the State Hospital comprised a mixture of breeds largely make up of Holstein Cows. The milk was used by the hospital and none of the cows were being tested for milk production. Several other privately owned Jersey cows in Provo were being tested for milk production. At one time Karl Miller did the testing for the Utah State College.


Circus Day in Provo


It was always a great day when the circus came to Provo. Everyone watched them unload the animals and the large wagons at the train yard on Sixth South Academy Avenue. The large elephants could barely get into the freight cars they were so tall and big. At one time a small circus unloaded everything from the Heber Creeper train on Second West and Fourth North.


Every circus always had a parade. The larger ones always had a calliope at the end of the parade. I remember when Buffalo Bill Cody came to Provo and rode his big white horse in the parade.


The circuses in Provo have been located in several places, usually in a vacant yard down by the railroad tracks. It was held in the First Ward Pasture. It was located on the vacant lot where the City and County building now stands. It was located at one time east on North Park on Fifth North.
One year the circus was held at Haws Field, which is west of the George Albert Smith Field house. The Field house was not built at the time. It was like watching another parade when they hauled everything up Academy Avenue to Haws Field on Tenth North where the circus was held. The extra-large wagons were pulled by six horse teams. During the morning the teams always returned to the railroad yard for another wagon to be pulled up north. The wagons were loaded with tents, bleacher seats, animals and everything necessary for the big top and snow. The ground was wet and soft, and after the show, the large loaded wagons mired down to the axle and to the bed of the wagon, in spite of the extra wide wheels each freight wagon had. It required thirty horsed, five six horse teams spread out and hooked to the extra bars on the freighter, installed for that purpose, and with a gunshot crack of a blacksnake, they pulled or dragged the big wagons out onto the hard road.


Utah Lake


Utah Lake had its heyday in the late 1890's when the Provo Railroad made weekly excursions to the lake resort. The resort was a large pavilion for dancing and it was well attended. The sandy beach was excellent for swimming and many parties were held at the resort. I do not remember why the resort was abandoned unless it was because of high water that flooded the beach each spring.


The mouth of the river was another usual place for boating and picnicking. The fishing at the mouth of the river was excellent. Boats were always available for boating out on the lake and swimming was a popular activity along the sandy beaches to the North.


The Geneva Resort became popular after the lake resort was gone and large crowds gathered there for dancing and swimming. Many excursions were scheduled at the Geneva Resort.


Utah Lake was much larger than it is ay present. Utah Lake spread out eastward over a wide range for about one-half mile from the mouth of Provo River to where Center Street ended as a straight street at the lakeshore. Center Street was a straight road running west to the lakeshore at which place the road crossed a bridge over the little Provo River. From that point to the mouth of the river, the road followed the contour of the large river because the shallow lake on the south at that location was about one foot deep. The south fork of the Provo River was the overflow during the spring runoff.


Fishing on the lake was a rather extensive commercial business before the lake became polluted. I often went to the lake in a rowboat with y fisherman friend. We picked up the rowboats at the river located at the end of Center Street and took the south fork of the Provo River to the resort. Our job was to collect the catfish from my friend's tolling lines which were camouflaged with small sticks tied to the end of the line which contained some twenty to fifty baited hooks. After making our catch, we always loaded our boats with shells which we dug from around the bulrushes and cattails. The shells were sold for poultry feed. The fish and shells were the pays for our day's work.


During the summer the lake was shallow along the east shore down at the end of Fifth West. The area around the shallow marshes was loaded with carp fish which were two to three feet in length, usually about 30 inches. It was a great sport to get a gang of kids and invade the carp around the bulrushes in the shallow water which was knee deep or a little deeper. The carp raced through the low water like submarines causing great waves as they tried to avoid everyone. Often times the huge carp would race towards us at great speed and it was next to impossible to move fast enough to avoid the possibility of being hit. It was great sport, but I do not remember any titanic fish being caught.


Easter Day


The Saturday before Easter was considered to be a hiking day. It was the usual spring fever feeling which everyone seemed to possess. The younger kids went to Temple Hill south of the Maeser Building for their usual Easter egg hunt and to roll their eggs down the hill. The scouts and larger groups invaded the East mountains. The Y was usually the best and easiest place to hike and rest. Rock Canyon, Maple Flat, and the top of the mountain to Sheep Flat where there was good spring water were points of interest that were the destination of many hikes. Some venturesome scouts hike to the Y, then up the canyon to Sheep Flat, and then north around the Y mountain and down into Rock Canyon. It was a long hike and a steep descent into Rock Canyon, but well worth the trip.


Large groups hike along the river bottom and through lovers' lane where the hiking was less vigorous, and finding a place to eat was to climax the day's journey.


Swimming Hole


The water in Provo River was always low during the summer and the temperature of the water running over the rocks was just the right temperature for swimming. Several swimming holes were found along the river downstream, but those were usually small holes. The best and largest and most popular swimming hole was located at the west turn of the river just north of the present (1989) Best and Osco stores. The spring floods, in making the turn in the river, always washed out a large area in the river bottom which made a good swimming hole. It was understood that those who were swimming were required to remove several rocks from the hole and place them on the dam on the west end which would enlarge the swimming hole in depth and size and would also increase the size of the dam to raise the water level. No swimming suits or trunks were ever used. The hot rocks provided an ideal place to lay out in the sun and dry out.


A large concrete swimming pool was built by Provo City at North Park. The swimming pool was under supervision and swimming suits were required. The schedule for the pool alternated the days for boys and girls. The North Park swimming pool was much closer, within the city, and somewhat larger, but the old swimming hole in the Provo River was always used anytime and no restrictions were imposed.


Junkyard


The junkyard for Provo City was located at about 775 East on Center Street. It was a swampy vacant lot, and the land was of little value for anything else. Everything was dumped there. The junk, rubbish and cans kept getting higher and higher and eventually something had to be done about it. The City had a large steam road roller and suggestion was make to use the heavy machine to roll down and flatten the pile of junk. We watched the maneuvers and were fearful lest the heavy road roller would sink out of sight. Every precaution was used and the land was smashed down a couple of yards with no mishap to the roller. More junk was dumped there and rolled down again. The junkyard in now part of a beautiful Provo City park.


Frog Legs


Seventh East was a road that was not traveled a great deal. There were only two or three homes built on the east side of Seventh East above Second North. The land east of Seventh East to the mountains form Second North to Fifth North was swampy pastureland. It was a lot of fun when a bunch of us kids ran barefooted through the swamps to catch frogs. They were all sizes, but we were only looking for the large frogs. After much floundering through the swampy meadow, we secured a bucket of frogs. We then cut off the legs and fried them in butter. We were treated to a special treat of tasty fried frog legs. I remember one of the girls turned away at the thought of frog legs, but after tasting one devious snack, she asked for more. Sometimes we hunted late in the evening in the swamp, and we were always rewarded with a free display of a barrage of fireflies.


Millrace


The millrace ran through the city on Second West. It was the source of power for the Provo Brick and Tile at 1700 North, The Provo Ice Plant on 1200 North, The Hoover Flower Mills on 500 North, the Knight Woolen Mills on First and Second North and the Smoot Lumber Mill on Fourth and Fifth South.


The millrace had to be diked from Fifth North to the woolen mills to provide the necessary fall for the water wheel. Along Second West and Second North the dike for the millrace was built with a rock wall on the west side next to the railroad tracks to provide the right of way for the Heber Creeper train. The wall was about ten to twelve feet high. Many foot holes had been cut in the rock wall so it could be scaled form the railroad tracks to the bridge on top. This would eliminate the trip around the wall to get to the top to the dike. Along the top of the dike was a pedestrian walk for over half a block to the north to where the dike bank was much lower so a crossing could be made over the railroad track and to the sidewalk on Second West.


The hill from the twelve-foot bridge going down east was the best sledding around the area during the winter. It was close for everyone to use. The best fishing along the millrace was north of the brickyard towards the canyon.


Academy Avenue


Academy Avenue was not unlike other streets. Every kind of tree had been planted along Provo City roads. I remember when we returned for the BYU Training School along Academy Avenue to stop and spend enough time to knock the apples down form the limbs for us to eat.


Academy Avenue was by no means a picturesque drive as for as a botanist saw it. Mayor O.K. Hansen was well aware of this, so a drastic change was made by him. All the trees- Cottonwood, poplar, elms, apple, sycamore, no matter how old they were or how large- were all doomed to be routed out. Mayor Hansen replaced the trees with a Norway Maple. The change enhanced Academy Avenue as expected. We can thank Mayor Hansen for this worthwhile venture. There was not much shade along the avenue for a few years, but the scenery overshadowed the lack of shade.


Road Paving


When Academy Avenue was at last paved with concrete form Center Street up past BYU, it was one of the first times large, heavy machinery and equipment was used, at least along the avenue where we lived. The reason for this was because it was one of the larger projects within the city. It was interesting to watch the method and procedure of doing the work. As could be guessed, there were more spectators around the job than workers for the project.


It was a wonderful improvement which eliminated the dust and bumps and the mired-down ruts everywhere. It was a planned improvement along a main highway in Provo. The maple trees grew in size make a picturesque view up the Avenue.


Army Tank

After World War I, a small army tank was sent to Provo to demonstrate how it was used during the war. The tank had caterpillar tracks, and it was sent to demonstrate its maneuverability over rough and steep areas as was usually encountered during the war. It was driven up Academy Avenue to Temple Hill where the steepest places in Provo could be located. It went up the steepest places and came down the steep hill from the Temple Hill road to Eighth North.


A large crowd form Provo watched the demonstration. The tank was equipped with a large gun which had a one inch bore. We were informed the fun would shoot a distance of about one mile. On the rear of the tank, a large plate was attached to prevent the tank form rolling over backwards.


We were shown by demonstration the value of caterpillar tracks on a mobile machine. Caterpillar tracks soon became an integral part of farm and commercial machinery.

Interviewee: Karl Miller
Interviewer: Carla Morris
June 21, 1988



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