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A banner with an image of the Provo Historic Courthouse and the text Historic Provo.

Oral History of Maurita Crossley Carter


Interviewer: Today is May 13, 1999 and this is an oral history with Maurita Crossley. Maurita, tell me about your life in Provo.

Carter: I was married when I was seventeen years old. I came right to Provo. That was in 1937.

Interviewer: And you've been here since?

Carter: Yes, I've lived here ever since. There's been a lot of changes.

Interviewer: What are some of the changes that you've seen with raising your family here.

Carter: We were more or less out of the city limits. We had animals and the children grew up by the Lions Park where there was plenty of park space to play ball and swim in the creek and swim in the river. They don't do that now. When my children were young we did. We walked mostly to Provo. There was Cook's Ice Cream on Center Street. We'd always come down and get our ice cream and then we'd walk up to University Avenue, past the University and just generally. When we went to town we knew everybody in town.

Interviewer: Were most of your friends at that time Mormons?

Carter: Yes.

Interviewer: Did you know any non-members?

Carter: Yes. We had a very sweet neighbor that was Baptist. The Baptist Church bought our old church house on Grandview Hill. My husband helped them remodel it. He was a carpenter contractor and he turned his tools over to them so they could do the remodeling. One man asked him what he was getting out of it. He said it was all the Lord's work. That was our feeling. The Jehovah's Witnesses were a break off from the Mormon Church, but we were all friends and neighbors.

Interviewer: Did you do things together?

Carter: Yes. We had Spanish American neighbors and we also had Japanese neighbors. During the war the Japanese neighbors had a big onion patch and they'd keep us in onions. They'd cook and then they'd bring dinner down to my husband when he got home from work. At that time it was a critical time for the Japanese family. Their son committed suicide under the Provo bridge on 800 North and 800 West. It was a sad time for us, because those people were wonderful people.

Interviewer: Tell me about your childrens' education in Provo? Who were your most favorite teachers for your children?

Carter: They had several. They went to Timpanogos School. Then they went to Dixon Junior High School and then they went to Provo High School and then the BYU. There were a lot of names that the boys and Nancy had. The one that impressed the youngest boy so much was a teacher by the name of Mr. Lott. He seemed to take into consideration what Michael wanted to do with his life, a lot more than some of the other teachers.

Interviewer: Where were the favorite hang outs for your children? Where would they go for fun as they became teenagers and began to date?

Carter: When they became teenagers, they played baseball in Lions Park and swam in the rivers and creeks. They really didn't act like they needed anything more than what they got at school with the school dances.

Interviewer: Were you a member of any club in Provo?

Carter: Yes, I and my husband belonged to the rock club, the Gem and Mineral Society. I still belong. For years we have been members since we were married. I still belong. We belonged to the Travel Club. We belonged to the LDS Church and did church work all the time. We worked at the LDS Provo temple for several years. We were married in the Salt Lake temple.

Interviewer: Where do you remember going shopping? Where would you go and get your weekly needs?

Carter: The Provo stores was where we shopped. Firmages was a very good place to shop because they had nice clothing. There was Levans for men's suits. That's where we shopped mostly. We shopped at JC Penney too for smaller stuff. Firmages was one of the best all around stores that we could shop at. We really got attached to them. My husband built a big home up in Midvale for Grandpa Firmage.

Interviewer: How did your husband select his occupation?

Carter: He went to school all the time. He had certificates for every vocation that you could imagine. If he didn't have it, then, he went to the BYU and got it. He went to Trade Tech.

Interviewer: Why did he want all that?

Carter: He said, "All you can take with you is your family and what you learn here. You can't take anything else."

Interviewer: What did he end up doing as a job?

Carter: He built LDS Churches. He was a carpenter/contractor and built homes and subdivisions. I think that pretty well covers it.

Interviewer: Did you go to college?

Carter: Yes, at the University of Utah.

Interviewer: What did you study?

Carter: There I studied nursing. Then I came back to BYU. I went to BYU because my husband said we had to learn. We went at night. My mother took care of the children. I learned cake decorating and genealogy. We had a genealogy class and a cooking class. I was a professional in cooking. I still am.

Interviewer: What's your specialty?

Carter: All kinds of foods. I worked at the Provo Senior Center in the foods department for years. I'm still helping there.

Interviewer: You came here in 1937. Tell me about the effects of World War II here.

Carter: We felt like World War II was something that we had to fight for. My husband tried to join. They wouldn't take him on account of his heart. It shook us up pretty badly, because many of our neighbors who were friends were Japanese. They struggled. The food prices were so much more reasonable. When we were married my husband worked at Geneva Steel, only it was Ironton Steel then. He earned $5 a day and we thought that was big money. He worked there and then he went to Geneva Steel and worked there also. Later on he went back to his carpenter work because the doctor said he had to get out from the machinery.

Interviewer: What was the community reaction to the Watergate scandal?

Carter: It depended on whether they were Republicans or Democrats. The Democrats felt like it couldn't get any worse. The Republicans thought it was just one of those things that the government did.

Interviewer: Have you enjoyed living in Provo?

Carter: Very much.

Interviewer: What's been one of the best parts about living your life here?

Carter: It's been a natural thing for me to be in Provo. All the stores and I have lots of friends here. That makes a big difference. It’s home. Ed's people all lived here.

Interviewer: Wherever people's roots are they have a very strong attraction to.

Carter: Actually it was a stronger attachment to me to be here in Provo than it was in Idaho. Because I left Idaho when I was sixteen and went to Brigham City, then came on down here.

Interviewer: This has been wonderful to hear some insights. Thank you.

Interviewee: Maurita Crossley Carter
May 13, 1999

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