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Historic Provo

Oral History of Mack A. Halladay


BLAIR: I'm here with Mack Halladay at his home at 1055 West Center in Provo, Utah. Today is July 22. Mack, to start out, were you born here in Provo?


BLAIR: Who were your parents?

HALLADAY: Albert C. Halladay and Maudi Nelson.

BLAIR: And they both grew up in Provo?

HALLADAY: Yes, Provo, Utah.

BLAIR: Were they from pioneer families? What do you descend from?

HALLADAY: They were farmers in the early days. They came from pioneer families. Everybody that was in the valley was pioneers. My father was raised on a farm down by Utah Lake.

BLAIR: What we're interested in is family life in Provo back when you were a child. Can you tell us what your family life was like, what kind of things you did, and how your parents raised you?

HALLADAY: We were raised as Mormons. I had a good life living with my dad and mother here in Provo, Utah. I went to school and they were good to us.

BLAIR: Did you do a lot with your extended family?

HALLADAY: Yes, we camped out. My dad was quite an outdoors man. He took us camping and fishing. Our recreation was limited not to what it is now. We had a good time.

BLAIR: Where did you grow up? Which home in Provo was it?

HALLADAY: My first home was down over the viaduct at about 1500 West Center. We lived there in a little, small home that my dad and his brother built. They lived next door to us. From there we moved up to 857 West First South. Dad built that home. I went to school at the old Franklin School.

BLAIR: That was elementary and junior high right, from first to ninth grade?

HALLADAY: No. I lived there until I was about eight, nine, or ten years old. Then we moved to 1055 West Center on Center Street here all my life, which was next door right here. The old home is gone. I still own the property but my mother and dad passed away. I bought the ground and my brother was on the other side.

BLAIR: Where did you go to junior high and high school?

HALLADAY: The Franklin School was up to the sixth grade. Then we went to the Dixon Junior High School for the seventh, eighth, and ninth there. I can't tell you the address right over here not too far away. I rode a bicycle to school all the time. Then for tenth, eleventh, and twelfth I went to the old Provo High School in Provo.

BLAIR: Do you remember any teachers that you had there?

HALLADAY: I remember quite a few nice teachers. I was quite an athlete. I never did play football. I was scared of football. It was too rough. But I threw the shot-put and I was quite a track runner.

BLAIR: What did you run?

HALLADAY: I ran the hundred yard dash in school activities. I can remember my English teacher Anna Smoot, who was a very lovely lady. She taught school. A lot of people my age would remember Mr. Stewart.

BLAIR: So you went to Provo High. They moved it.

HALLADAY: They tore it down. It was where your activity would be with the Utah buildings of Provo City. That's the old Provo High School right there. They tore it down and then built the new one. I never did go to the new one up there because that was later on.

BLAIR: What kind of activities did you do in high school as far as entertainment and keeping yourselves out of trouble?

HALLADAY: They played basketball and had basketball teams. They had football teams, which all schools do right now. It was the same activity. I think activity is bigger now than what it was in the early time of my life. We had dancing at least once a week. Our school activity would put on a dance.

BLAIR: How did you go about dating?

HALLADAY: In our dating we had dated girls. That's a normal thing. Our dating program, it seemed like we did pick out certain ladies that we went with. For our activity we would take them to the dances. I really don't think it is as lively as it is now.

BLAIR: Nowadays girls can ask guys out. Was that ever heard of when you were growing up?

HALLADAY: The only way that was heard of those days was girls day. They would pick you and take you to the girls day dance.

BLAIR: What year did you graduate from high school?

HALLADAY: In 1939.

BLAIR: Was World War II going on during that time?


BLAIR: Was that before or after?

HALLADAY: That was after World War II started later on in years. In 1939 I graduated from high school and I worked here on the farm which was next door with my dad. He was a policeman at the time. In 1939 he wanted me to be a policeman and I told him I would. I tried it out. They used to have an on-the-job program where you got your training. You would sit on the desk there and if they called in you would write down where he had to go or one of the policemen. You would turn the light on the city county building police department. There were two big lights out in front. I would turn the light on. There was three or four policemen on the police department and they rode bicycles. They did have one automobile. They would go out on the street and they would watch that street light. If I turned it on they would walk up and see where they were called. Then they would have to either get on their bicycles or take the car.

I tried it out and I didn't care too much for it. In 1941 I had an opportunity to go to Salt Lake City and I was put on the railroad. I asked for a job, and I worked for the Denver and Rio Grande. I started in 1941.

BLAIR: The rail was widely used then. Did people use it for passengers? Nowadays you hardly ever hear of people traveling by passenger train. Was that a lot more common?

HALLADAY: When I started out in 1941 we did have passenger trains and they were beautiful. That was steam power. We had early passenger trains. I was promoted right shortly after. I started out on the job with my training. The old engineers would get us younger guys over and say, "Run the train a while." We started out on switch engines first and as time went on we picked it up. They would use us on the extra board before we were promoted to an engineer. I was promoted in 1944 and from 1944 on I was an engineer for quite a number of years.

We shoveled coal in the engines in the early days. I ran the old Heber Creeper and fired on the Heber Creeper from Provo City to Heber. It was only twenty-eight miles up the canyon.

BLAIR: Was that a train that went?

HALLADAY: That was a train. It was daily and it was thrilling. It was a very nice thing.

BLAIR: When did automobiles become widely owned and used?

HALLADAY: Automobiles were quite thrilling. I can remember back in 1936 when Ford came out with the four door eighty-five engine and I thought it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. Automobiles continued on even up until now.

BLAIR: Did everyone have them?

HALLADAY: No. Everybody didn't own an automobile because our economy was poor. It was pretty expensive to people after the Depression. But in 1941 as time went on money got more plentiful and it seemed like our jobs paid more. My dad was working on the police department for eighty-five dollars a month and that was back in the early time when I hired out on the railroad. I went up and bought a new automobile in 1941. It was a new Ford convertible, with white side wall tires, red upholstery and a white top. It was beautiful. I was courting the little lady that is sitting right here.

In that time that car in Provo cost me twelve hundred and fifty dollars from Paul D. Menson. I brought it home and showed my dad. I was living in Salt Lake, commuting back and forth and working in Salt Lake. My dad came out and looked at it and he said, "Mack you will never pay it off." At that time and he didn't know it, I was making five hundred dollars a month, which was good wages in those times. As time went on wages went higher and higher. The economy got better and the world started to grow.

BLAIR: You are LDS right?


BLAIR: What ward did you attend in this area?

HALLADAY: Provo second ward.

BLAIR: Are you still attending that ward?

HALLADAY: We are still in the Provo second ward. I have been in it all my life. I have lived in this area all my life off and on. I had to go to work in Salt Lake for a short time. Then I got on the main line as a railroader and I went to Helper, Utah. I had to rent an apartment over there because I would leave Salt Lake City one day and then go to Helper and then bring a train back the next day. I had to have a home.

BLAIR: How has the business community changed in Provo? What kind of shops were here and how has that changed? It's become a lot bigger I am sure.

HALLADAY: You're talking about in the early time of shops that were available for young men to go to work. There were not too many places. The Pacific States Cast Iron Pipe when I was a young man, was just about the only place that a person that graduated from high school could work. I didn't go on to college. And the Ironton Plant was out here. There was the old ice house down there. But at the time the war broke out and they built Geneva Steel things exploded. It went right from then on to big industries.

BLAIR: So the war created jobs for people?

HALLADAY: Yes, and before that it seemed like it was pretty darn slow. There were no jobs that were available unless you left home.

BLAIR: What was the attitude of people in Provo towards the war? Were they for it and involved in it or against it?

HALLADAY: It seemed like we accepted the war. People got right in and bought war bonds and we all went to work and some of them went to war. I was in the 145th field artillery in the Provo armory here. I believe that I joined up in 1939 or '40, and then in 1941 they called me back. I was supposed to go to San Luis Obispo and the railroad got in. They needed men so bad that they gave me a deferment. I got an honorable discharge from the 145th field artillery.

BLAIR: Did you have any friends who went overseas to fight? Was there a great percentage of the youth from Provo that did go and join the army?

HALLADAY: Yes, everybody was eligible. It seemed like all the young men that were eligible and could pass the required physical went. They were for it and so that was all there was to it. They got behind it and just did it.

BLAIR: You mentioned the Depression a little bit. How did it affect the community? How did the Church deal with it?

HALLADAY: We didn't even know it was the Depression. I didn't realize that we were poor people. We were just middle class people. We had plenty to eat. The wages were so darn low and things in the economy were way down. People were working for sixty-five to eight dollars a month. At the Pacific States Cast Iron Pipe the highest wages out there for the month was maybe a hundred dollars. But they worked awfully hard. You didn't realize that you were poor. You were still living. I don't know how to answer it any better than that.

BLAIR: How have the homes in the area changed, like the construction of homes, the way they look, the size of them? How has that changed in Provo in general over the years?

HALLADAY: The older class of homes in the early day were wood construction. There is a lot of brick. In time they come out with a brick. The old brick yard was in Provo and they made brick. We had a lot of good brick layers. We had a lot of good builders here in the early days. The construction seemed to be good but nothing like it is now. They have gotten so far advanced that it's pretty hard to tell you how. The homes were built real nice. They were nice homes.

BLAIR: Were they smaller in size?

HALLADAY: Smaller yes. Our little home was only a front room, and a kitchen. They only built what they could afford and what we would use. Our first home was only the front room and a kitchen and a bedroom which the two of us shared, my brother and myself. Then there was dad and mother's bedroom and the old shanty out the back. As time went on we got better homes.

They built a better home later on in years. Our home was lovely over here. I can still remember the old wood stoves and getting up every morning. Dad would build a fire in the winter. It was pretty cool. But we enjoyed the old home. Our home that was over here was brick with a foundation that was made out of big rocks and cement poured together. The inside was put together real nice with the old style lumber. It was a lovely home.

BLAIR: What kind of celebrations and fairs can you remember Provo putting on?

HALLADAY: Provo still had the parade in the early days, the old Fourth of July parade. But the twenty-fourth always came out of Salt Lake City. Provo City always had a Fourth of July parade. We always looked forward to that. It was exciting. It was fun to go to and I enjoyed them.

BLAIR: BYU seems to be the center of a lot things now. Was it that way even when you were younger?

HALLADAY: The activity at the BYU was always there. I never did go to the BYU to school because I went to work on the railroad early in life. I didn't have to go and get an education. Maybe I should have. A lot of people were really lucky, of which I was one of them. A railroad job in those days was a darn good job. The BYU has always been here and we looked at it as a real nice school. We were Mormons and it was always a lovely school.

BLAIR: Was there the same kind of rivalry with the University of Utah as there is now?

HALLADAY: Yes, it seemed like they had the football trouble as they have always had. The activity mostly was in football and basketball.

BLAIR: If you paid attention to politics on the community level, do you remember any notable mayors or city officials that had a great impact on the community?

HALLADAY: I can remember different mayors but I wasn't involved with the mayors. Over a period of time I did meet different mayors, because my dad was a policeman in the police department for twenty five years. I met different mayors that he worked under and they all seemed to be real nice. Mayor Dixon was one of them and Mayor Smoot. I just can't recall having any relationship with them. I didn't get into politics.

Our old home was about a half a block away. Out in front we had one lane of traffic. The old viaduct wasn't there. One goes to Salt Lake and one goes to Utah Lake. They weren't here when I was a young man. I can remember the highway out in front was only for two cars, one going up and one coming down. The old Orem tracks were on the other side of it right there which came out of Salt Lake city. The interurban they called it. It used to go up town and the station was up there. Then it would go over to Payson and it would come back. Then it would take it on to Salt Lake. It was a passenger train for people to ride.

BLAIR: Did the mail go by train?

HALLADAY: In the early days we carried the mail on the Denver and Rio Grande out of Salt Lake City. The mail used to go on passengers trains out of here and into Denver, picking them up at each stop.

BLAIR: When did the Provo airport come to the city?

HALLADAY: The airport really hasn't been a big activity in Provo until just recently in the last few years because they couldn't land big planes or anything. But they did have an airport here which was run by Merrill Christopherson and Lucille Christopherson. I knew them real well. In fact I bought the home next door to them. We paid a certain price for it and I remember him buying an airplane with the money that I had given him. They used it for people to ride to Salt Lake or wherever. Our airport was never really a big airport like Salt Lake City. Now they have extended the runways and I understand now it will land bigger planes. I don't think we have anything right now that is coming into Provo. It might be small planes, but I am not acquainted with it.

BLAIR: How about the changes in medical technology? What kind of medicine did you have when you were younger? Now it seems like you have an ache and you pop a pill.

HALLADAY: Our medicine was limited pretty well. Mother watched us pretty close. If you got a cough it was castor oil. We are going to give you a spoon full of that.

BLAIR: What was castor oil made of?

HALLADAY: It was terrible. Our medicine was pretty well limited.

BLAIR: Where did you buy the medications? Was there a pharmacy that you would go to?

HALLADAY: They had a druggist, who was always somewhere. You could go buy aspirin. It was very limited, not like it is now.

BLAIR: How about having babies? Was it the common practice to have a midwife or would most women go to the hospital?

HALLADAY: We did have a nice hospital in my early days. It used to be on University Avenue. It was on First East and about Third South. But the other hospital was a different name. I can't remember it now. They used to go and have babies there. It was a nice place there. It seemed like they had more babies at home. There was another hospital up on First East.

BLAIR: Thank you.

Interviewee: Mack Halladay
Interviewer: Bridget Blair
July 22, 1999

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