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Historic Provo

Oral History of Marie Bunnell


WINN: Today is September 2, 1999. This is Jennifer Winn and I'm here with Marie Bunnell. Marie, how long have you lived here in Provo?

BUNNELL: All my life. I've never lived anywhere else but Provo.

WINN: What are some of your earliest memories of Provo?

BUNNELL: That would be up there on Fifth West where I was born. Our house was about the same place that the guest house for the hospital is. We owned all that property from south of the driveway where the guest house is, up to where the clinics are. We owned all of that when I was little. In between at one time there was an apple orchard. For some reason Dad pulled all the apples out and we had pears. That was too hard for mother to keep up so she pulled those out. Then she sold the property to one of the doctors that owns one of the clinics there. I have lived here all my life practically. I haven't moved very far.

My grandparents lived on the other end of the property which would be where Morris Motors is now. There was nothing in between them and us for years and years.

I have a half-sister who was a beautician. She felt she would do better if she went up to the east part of town. They moved up there and then they sold their house. There is one by Brownsville Apartment house, which is still there. They built along there. Those three homes are still there. They're run down. Morris Motors owns that whole thing.

WINN: What kinds of things did you do with your grandparents? Did you spend a lot of time over there?

BUNNELL: Not a lot. I had more fun crossing the street playing with my friends across the street. Then Fifth West was a two lane street. I didn't even have to look either way to see if a car was coming, because there never would be one. We used to go over and play dolls and that type of thing when I was a kid. I had one friend that lived over there by the clinic just north of the hospital. They had a barn and we used to climb up to the top of the barn and jump down in the hay.

WINN: What occupation was your grandfather?

BUNNELL: He had an ice pond in the back of the house by the river. I really don't know because I don't remember my granddad working. He was always there. He was always home. I really don't know what he did. I have a picture of the ice pond.

WINN: Where did you go to elementary school?

BUNNELL: Down at Timpanogos School. It looked quite different then than it does now. It was just a little school.

WINN: Do you recall any of the teachers that you had?

BUNNELL: I had Mrs. Overhansley. I remember her. She was my second grade teacher. She is the only one that I can remember. I remember that we used to go out and play in the mud before they had grass or gravel. We'd go out for recess and we'd have to go out and play in the swings in the mud. You can see how things have changed. Everything is so different now than it was then.

WINN: In what ways has it changed?

BUNNELL: When I was home, I can remember my mother. Every Monday morning she washed. Our machine was outside. She used to have this big thing that she'd fill with water and heat the water in that and carry it out and dump it in the washing machine. She was so happy when she finally got a new washer that had a wringer that you didn't have to turn. That was really good. She would hang them on this clothes line that went from the house clear out to the barn. It was just about as far as from the guest house to the school they had at the day care center. She used to pull that. There was the sheets, the white things, the colors and the darks. That was every Monday regardless of what the weather was. She would always do that.

When she'd put her food up, and bottle her fruit, she used to cold pack so many things. She had this cold pack room that had shelves in it. She used to do beans nearly all day. It was a hot stove. We had a coal stove. She would dry her corn outside. Everything was grown in the garden. We had a garden in between the barn and the house. She had chickens and we had geese and a pig that we'd kill every fall and eat. Everything is so completely different from the way she did with her family than what I did with mine. I had a washer and a dryer, a range and a good stove and pressure cookers.

WINN: Did you have family activities where you would go out and visit different sights or go down to the lake?

BUNNELL: Dad used to take us down to the lake a lot and we'd walk around. Sometimes we'd go swimming. But mostly we'd go swimming in the creek in the back in the summer. The place next to us was mostly empty. There was a nice little pool there that we could all go swimming in the summer. It was boys and girls, all of us. It was fun. Saturday nights they'd take us downtown and we'd have a treat and go to Baumettes on Fourth West and Center Street and get a banana split. That was a big thing. We used to play games like checkers. Finally we got to where we could have a radio and listen to the radio.

Things are different. We have things so easy now. Before it was just nothing but work.

WINN: Can you recall how Center Street in Provo has changed over the years? Have you noticed any major changes?

BUNNELL: It isn't the same at all. In fact Taylor Brothers was the main store on Center Street in that area. There was Woolworths. There was Speckert's Market between First and Second West on the north side of the street. He was the best butcher. Around the corner was Farrer Brothers. Mother used to work there before she was married. We used to go there quite a bit. There was hardly anything on the other side of the street.

Finally DTRs came and Kresses. There was a big pool hall on the corner of First West and Center Street. We used to hate to pass that, because there was always men sitting out there smoking. There was a drug store on the corner across the street. There was JC Penney's along there. Farther west there was nothing.

Down where Albertsons is that used to be a foundry. My grandfather used to work there. The Third Ward chapel was there always. That's where we always went to church. Mother used to go to church there when she was a girl. It's been there that long.

WINN: Do you recall any parades or circuses that came to town?

BUNNELL: We always used to go to the Fourth of July parade. I don't remember ever going to the circus. There probably were circuses, but they cost money. We had to be limited in what we could do.

WINN: How were you affected by the Depression, or were you affected?

BUNNELL: Yes. My dad was a carpenter. Nobody was building. It was rough. They used to go try to sell their vegetables. I really don't know how we lived. Dad didn't work. There was no work around then. I remember it was real rough during the Depression. When Roosevelt was put in as president, he brought in that program when the young men would go and work and my oldest brother did that.

WINN: About how old were you during the Depression?

BUNNELL: I would have been twelve. It was rough.

WINN: Were the schools affected by the Depression? Did they change anything there?

BUNNELL: I don't remember anything about that.

WINN: How about any of the businesses around Provo? Did they not hire? Did a lot of them close down?

BUNNELL: I really don't know, because I was too young to care. I had my own problems.

WINN: Then with World War II, how were you affected by the war?

BUNNELL: My husband was going to be drafted. He was going one Monday morning and it came out in the paper Sunday morning that they changed the age limit and it just missed him. My youngest brother was a prisoner of war in Romania. He was the air raid that they put on the air fields over there. He was on the first wave that did so much damage to them. His plane got shot down and he was there for thirteen months. He survived just fine and lived through the whole thing.

WINN: How about back here at home? Did you have to make any concessions for the war? Were there products that you were limited on?

BUNNELL: We had food stamps and booklets for meat and butter and coffee and sugar. There were all sorts of things. We had to limit ourselves to what we could get. Finally nylon hose came out. They would advertise those in the paper on Sunday and on Monday you can't believe the flock of people that would be down there. It was really something. We'd stand in line forever. They weren't panty hose, either. They were just hose and you had to wear garter belts. We used to have to do that. We always had a garter belt.

WINN: Tell me about high school. What were some of the activities that you were involved in?

BUNNELL: I just went to school. I was in one club there. We used to get together and gab. We didn't do a lot of things, but we had a lot of fun anyway. It wasn't anything spectacular. It was just high school.

WINN: Which high school did you go to?

BUNNELL: Provo High. That's when it was down on Third West in that area. I used to walk down in the morning, then walk home for lunch, then back down and back home. I made four trips a day down Fifth West. That kept me going. It didn't do me any harm anyway.

WINN: How did you find your husband? How did you meet him?

BUNNELL: Across the bridge on Twelfth North, just beyond the bridge where Deseret Industries is now, there was a Pace's Sandwich Shop. He made the best hamburgers. When I got out of high school that summer, my dad was doing a little bit of work for him. He asked him if he needed any help and he said, "We could always use somebody." I went up and got the job and I worked there all summer. My husband used to come in the mornings. He'd come in on his way home. That's where I met him. He came in to eat first and then I don't think he cared if he ate or not. That was a real popular place at that time. He was really busy because he did make good hamburgers. There wasn't a lot of those around at that time. They were scarce. It was a drive-in. We'd have to go out and wait on the car.

WINN: What were some of the dates that you would go on?

BUNNELL: We really didn't do anything. Then I started to go up to the Y that winter. He'd pick me up after school, then he'd go to work. Saturdays we'd ride up the canyon or go down to the lake or goof around.

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

BUNNELL: It was great. We had no problems at all with them. They went down to Timpanogos School and Provo High School. They turned out to be real nice girls. I had the two girls.

WINN: Was it much different for them than it was for you as far as activities they were involved in or school work or even different issues they had to deal with?

BUNNELL: Neither one seemed to have any problems of any kind. They just went to school. Linda met her husband at the Y when she started up there. Donna met hers when she was a junior in high school. He had his hair parted in the middle and it was long, down to his elbows. He turned out to be the neatest guy in the world. I just love him.

WINN: When you went to school at BYU, was it after you were married?

BUNNELL: I went one semester after I was married, but I decided I would just as soon be a housewife. It's kind of hard to go to school when you're that young.

WINN: Were you eighteen?


WINN: Did your husband continue to work nights?

BUNNELL: No, he finally got days after so long. Every once in a while he'd have to work a graveyard or swing shift. He worked at the Pacific States Pipe Plant. Then he got on construction out here at Geneva. When they finished construction he got on permanent. He would still work some swing shift, but not a lot. It was mostly days. I hated those nights.

WINN: As far as this area and the homes, when did they start developing those?

BUNNELL: We moved down here January 1, 1951. Zobell's house was the last house on this block. There was nothing across the street. Then they started building across the street. The houses down that way were here then. This used to be an apple orchard here. 940 North up here only went down to the corner here. That was as far as you could go. There was no road that went through. There was nothing there but bushes and trees. That's as far as it went. Velma Snow used to live down there. You couldn't go any farther than her house. That was it.

WINN: Did you ever ride the Orem?

BUNNELL: I did once is all.

WINN: What was that like?

BUNNELL: It was fun. It was on a school outing that we had. It was quite the popular thing back then. It was real busy. It was fun to get on that thing and go. To drive up Mother would go up once in a while. She had a brother up there. She and Dad would go up and it would be an all days job. By the time they would go up there and visit for not very long and then come back down it would take them all day.

I remember the first car that we had was on open one. It didn't have any windows in it. Ours was especially nice because they had some visor things that we could snap and close it in in the winter. You had to unsnap them to get in and duck under them. It was really something special. We really had something fancy, because ours had some windows or visors in it.

WINN: Do you remember when the first televisions came in?

BUNNELL: I remember because I worked for a fellow that bought one. He wanted to know if I wanted to come over and watch a ball game. I said I didn't know whether it would be any good or not. I said, "On the shows, do they just stand there and read?" He said, "No, they act it out. It's just like a show." We went and watched the ball game and that got us hooked on the T.V. I never could understand or figure out how they could do it. Like the radio they just stood there and read it.

The first radio that I ever listened to was in Salt Lake. My cousin had one that had ear phones. We'd take turns listening to it on the ear phones. That was when I was just a little kid. It's been a long time ago.

WINN: What other interesting things came into Provo? What about the State Hospital?

BUNNELL: That was always there.

WINN: Did you have much involvement with it?

BUNNELL: No, I just remember we used to ride up there Sundays and ride around the circle there and come back. I didn't have anything to do with it.

WINN: Do you remember any of the dances?

BUNNELL: We used to go to dances. Up there on University Avenue where that Zions Bank is, there used to be an open air dance hall up there. We used to dance quite a bit up there. That was up there all alone too. There was practically nothing around it.

WINN: What were the parameters of the city when you were a girl? What was the area of the city?

BUNNELL: There was hardly anything west of here. When you get down to Center Street and go south toward the lake, it just went to Twelfth North. There was a house up there and a parking lot there by Macey's. There was a real nice house in there and lots of trees. It was a real nice place. I don't know how far east it was. I didn't get up that way much.

WINN: Did you go to BYU on the upper campus or lower campus?

BUNNELL: I took some classes on the lower campus and then some up. We had to go back and forth and really hurry.

WINN: Did you run?

BUNNELL: Sometimes.

WINN: Up that hill.

BUNNELL: There were only two or three buildings up there then. It's changed quite a bit. I was so in hopes that they would save the one down on University Avenue. I hated to see them tear that down.

WINN: That will be good for the library. Hopefully that will help preserve it. Did you ever go hiking up to the Y or Timpanogos?

BUNNELL: No, that just wasn't for me. Harold, my husband did. He'd been up to Timp quite a bit. He hiked that loop and around. He liked to hike. But I didn't.

WINN: What are some of your hobbies?

BUNNELL: I like to knit and crochet. I do quite a bit of it.

WINN: Do you do it for your home or for gifts?

BUNNELL: Mostly gifts. Heindselman's had a nice place. You could do anything you wanted. I would knit a couple of dresses with their help.

WINN: Where was that located?

BUNNELL: It was just a little bit east of where they are now. They had a jewelry store and he was an optical man in front and the knit shop was in the back. You would go buy your yarn and pick what pattern you wanted and they would write the instructions each week. You'd do that and go back the next week and they would write some more. I made me two real pretty dresses a long time ago. I had one of them that I was going to take to the cleaners. It was in a paper sack. My husband thought it was garbage and threw it away. He sure felt bad when he found out he did that.

WINN: From your perspective, how do you think Provo has changed?

BUNNELL: Almost every way. It just isn't the same. It's different. It's so much farther advanced than we were. It's so much bigger and much more traffic. There is more everything.

We had a grocery store across the street from the Timp School down there, Mr. Crawley's store. If we had a penny or two we'd go over and spend it over there. That's where Mother used to do an awful lot of her grocery shopping. It was handy and she could walk. We walked then. We didn't ride. Everywhere we went we walked. We walked to church every Sunday. We'd never take the car. I never remember anyone taking me down in the car. We'd always walk. That's how different things are. No parking problems then at all.

WINN: What was the general attitude of your friends or Provo residents about the construction that they've been doing or continue to do, like renovations on buildings? Has it ever been an issue?

BUNNELL: Not that I've ever known.

WINN: So people have been positive about the growth?

BUNNELL: I think so. Unless it gets too big. That's the problem. No one has talked about the steel plant. So many people didn't want it because it would bring in so many people that we didn't want. But it brought in lots of people, but all such nice people. It really did. Some of my best friends came just to work at the plant. It's done a lot for Provo. In fact the north part of the plant out there was my husband's grandparents. That's where they lived. The plant bought them out. A couple of his uncles lived over there and they bought them out. I worked out at the plant during construction for a while.

WINN: Did you enjoy that?

BUNNELL: Yes. I worked in the purchasing department. It was a good job. We car pooled. There were five gals so we carpooled. We'd go back and forth in that. It was a good job.

WINN: Do you know Leah Pope?


WINN: What has been the involvement of residents of Provo with the school students? Have they intermixed a lot? Did you attend church with them? Do you remember having them over?

BUNNELL: No. When I went to church it was the people that lived there. They weren't moving around all the time. It was just the people who had lived there and were going to live there. They stayed there. It was the same people all the time.

WINN: Did many people around here take in renters?

BUNNELL: Nobody was renting then. Everybody bought their own house and that's where they lived.

WINN: All the students would all go together.

BUNNELL: The grandmother would go live with her kids. The kids would take care of their parents back then. They only had one place to go and we used to call it the poor farm out on the Springville road. People would dread that if they thought they had to go out there.

WINN: Was there a real place out there?

BUNNELL: Yes. That's what we called it. I don't know why. That's what we called it. I think they were good to them. I'm sure they must have been because they always had somebody there. My grandmother came and lived with us when I was home. She got to where she couldn't take care of herself. She came and lived with us and we got along just fine. I loved the little old sweetheart. She was a cute little gal.

WINN: Thank you so much for sharing your experiences.

Interviewee: Marie Bunnell
Interviewer: Jennifer Winn
September 2, 1999

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