Library Tutorials
Skip to main content
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 Rula Cluff


BUDGE: This is an interview with Rula Cluff for the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies at Brigham young University at her home in Provo, Utah. Today is June 24, 1999 and it is about 3:15 p.m. My name is Heather Budge and her husband is Robert Cluff. Rula, you were born in Provo?

CLUFF: In 1929 in this house in the northwest bedroom on February 16, 1929. That was the year of the crash. After my mother's death we purchased the house because it's been quite a show place in the neighborhood for years and we wanted to continue that and not let it get torn down, because so many happy years were spent here growing up.

We have flower gardens. We have a centennial garden in the north plot that we organized during the centennial year just a few years ago.

As a child growing up the United States was locked in a terrible depression. Growing up as a child, I was never aware that my parents were struggling. I wasn't. They had terrible problems, but they never told their problems to their children. Everyone else around us was very poor and this was just the way we lived. We enjoyed life.

I remember that none of the roads were paved in Provo at that time. None of the streets down here were paved. Main Street by then was paved. I remember going to parades on the Fourth of July and as little girls we all had beautiful new dresses and new white shoes to wear on the Fourth of July.

BUDGE: Even during the depression?

CLUFF: Yes. My mother made all of our clothes. She used to sew late into the night to make sure that we had good clothing to wear. We always had good polished shoes and sometimes they had funny rubber soles on them that used to come lose. Then my dad would have to repair them.

My father went to work for the Ironton plant which was owned by United States Steel Corporation. He went to work there the first day that it opened and he retired the last day that it closed. He didn't earn very much money. I think he only earned about $40 a month. Because he had a good job my older brothers were never permitted to work during the depression because of that. They had to spread that money around and the employment around at that time.

BUDGE: How many children are in your family?

CLUFF: There were six children. Two of them were deceased. The second oldest child died in the flu epidemic in 1918. She died in the flu epidemic when my family was living in Castlegate. She was four years old.

My brother just older than myself was killed in World War II. He served with Patton's Third Army all the way through France. He went in at either Omaha or Normandy Beach and he went all the way through Europe and just a few days before Germany surrendered, he was killed. He lost his life. He was a really good devout Latter-day Saint. I've been told many times by people who served with him that Marvin never at any time uttered a word of slang or swore or said any bad words or did any bad thing. He used to send his tithing home every month to my mother. My mother wrote to him. Another brother was in the Pacific war.

My childhood in Provo was the most important thing. As children we were never afraid to go out at night. We often used to play underneath the street light out here on the corner. We used to play kick-the-can and hide-and-seek and go running around the neighborhood. We were all free and our dogs were free. They used to follow us to all the hiding places and tell on us.

Most of the area south of the railroad tracks on 2nd South and 6th West, not far from the tracks and the Franklin School was mostly pasture land. There was a lot of farms down there. They kept cows. I never really knew where they came from, but every morning I used to run out and sit on the ditch bank and the cows would go down to pasture. Every night this herd of cows would go north. I never really knew where they went.

Provo was quite a rural area at that time.

BUDGE: Were there very many houses around here?

CLUFF: Yes, all of these houses that are here now were here at that time. Many of them have changed. They've been remodeled and they have kept them up quite well. I remember sitting out along the ditch bank and it was just loaded with butter cups and dandelions and all these pretty flowers. I remember making butter cup chains for my hair and watching kids and cows go by. It was just a lazy summer.

My mother would give me a blanket to put under a tree in the shade on the grass. I used to cut paper dolls rather than Barbie dolls. We had paper dolls and used to spend hours cutting them and trying on these beautiful clothes on our paper dolls.

I had a lot of friends in this neighborhood and we used to climb trees. That was a hobby. We had no television. We used to play in the park up her eon Fifth West and Center. There is a wonderful ditch, a stream of water that goes through there. In the summer we used to go wading in that every day regularly. We used to spend hours in that ditch. It's just a tradition around here. All the children go in that.

At one time they wanted to close it and cover it up because it was dangerous on the byways. But they decided not to and they have erected a metal guard around it so the children wouldn't get hurt if the car went off in the ditch. They voted that down. That ditch will always be there. It was a wonderful thing.

The parades in Provo were so wonderful at that time. They used to have Christmas parades. They went up and down Center Street and the Fourth of July parade went up and down Center Street east and west. They used to go up one side of the street and turn around and come back down the other side of the street, so we could see both sides of the parade going on.

I played the drum in Franklin School and I used to march in the Franklin band during this one Christmas year. It was cold by the floats were beautiful at that time.

BUDGE: Who put together the floats?

CLUFF: The teachers and the children. I remember ours particularly at the Franklin School was exotically beautiful. To me it was. The government subsidized a lot of these programs for the children. Because parents just did not have enough money.

In the summer Provo City Recreation had programs in the park for the children, which they still do now. It was even greater at that time.

They used to sponsor dancing lessons for all the children. I used to go up to Provo High School for my tap dancing lessons every summer. There was a whole line of us about as long as the gym would take. Then at the end of summer we used to have a big dance review. That was a fun thing and it gave me a lot of experience.

The only swimming pool we had at that time was in North Park up on Fifth West north of here. It was a smaller pool than what we have now, but we used to walk all the way up there and go swimming and walk all the way back. That would be six or seven blocks that we had to walk. It was always a lot of fun.

I went to the Franklin School until the sixth grade. Then I went to Dixon Junior High School. I graduated from Provo High School.

BUDGE: How did you like school?

CLUFF: I remember that the classes were very large at that time. I enjoyed going to school. Evidently I didn't do very well. I was not a very good student in math. That was hard for me. I loved English and I learned to read really well and I enjoyed reading.

Summer was a great life around here. My brothers were older and they were scout age and it was safe for them to go hiking in the mountains. Now it's rather dangerous and you have to worry about people that want to do bad things. In that day and age they used to say, "Mother, we're going up Slate Canyon." They'd put their backpacks on and get a blanket roll and she'd hand them some food and off they would go for overnight, hiking way up the canyon and camping up there. They would go up Rock Canyon and Slate Canyon.

Rock Canyon was a dangerous place, because it was full of rattlesnakes, a lot of rattlesnakes at that time. My brother never would tell mother, but at his funeral his friend told on him. He said that they hiked up Rock Canyon with the scouts and Lynn sat down on a rock and a snake curled up around his leg. He never dared my mother about that. There was always a danger of snakes.

Every summer my parents did not have enough money to go on vacation. They would put all of their food in boxes and we would get in my dad's old Model T Ford and we would go up Hobble Creek to camp. Hobble Creek was absolute paradise. It was very wild at that time. There were no houses up there. My parents said that they actually made campgrounds where they camped.

During the depression the government organized a group of young boys called the CCC scouts. They used to make campgrounds and things like that in the mountains. Many of these camps still exist and these young boys, high school age, could work during the summer. There were so many of them in this country who could not work and did not have jobs. That was part of the job corp. They would go up in the canyons and mountains and make camps.

One night our family was in a place up in Hobble Creek called Birch Park. My parents sat up all night long because they could hear bear. My dad sat up all night long to keep the fire going all night. He chopped down so many trees that it made a beautiful camp place. They went in and made a gorgeous place out of that after we left. Birch was my favorite place. It doesn't really exist anymore. It was flooded out by spring rains and spring runoff one year, ten or fifteen years ago. It washed out most of Hobble Creek at that time. They had to reclaim it and rebuild it.

We used to go up to Balsam. That is still in existence. That's still a favorite place for people to go picnicking. I just can't remember a time when I was a child that we weren't off into the mountains for a week or two weeks at a time. It was absolute paradise and occasionally we would run into a big rattle snake and learn how to handle ourselves. It would happen.

They couldn't afford a tent, so beds were made on the ground with all kinds of blankets and quilts. Our family slept in that bed. But I always had to sleep in the car because I was the little one. I never liked that very well. My mother would make me a nice bed in the car, but the rest of the family, dad and mother slept in the middle and all the children. The boys on one side and the girls on the other in this one great big community bed. They would cut pine boughs and put underneath to make it soft and springy.

BUDGE: What would they do if it rained?

CLUFF: What everybody else does. They hurried and rolled everything up and we got in the car. I remember there were experiences like that. We'd just get in the car and wait until it stopped and then get out. Dad would try to make another fire and dry things out. Very few people had tents. There was a lot of camping out. I think tents started to appear. That was one thing that you did not buy. Food was more important.

My mother said that she used to go to the store many times with fifty cents in her hand and look to see what would build bone and muscle with fifty cents. She usually came home with a great big beautiful soup bone and some vegetables to go with it. My grandfather had a great big garden in Spanish Fork. He always had a huge garden. He would bring a lot of greens and vegetables over to us. He really kept us in vegetables.

Our milk was delivered every day in that day and age. We used to love to take the cream off the top. That was really wonderful. It came in bottles and she made sure we shook it up so that everybody would get a little bit of that cream.

In the winter this was a wonderful time. There was a lot of bob sledding. My older brothers had a bob sled and they used to make their own skis. They would take shop in high school and they would learn how to make skis and work with wood. They used to make their own homemade skis and go up in the mountains and ski. There were no ski lifts here. Later on when they got older Alta opened and they used to love to go up there. They had their own cars. But before that, when they were just young boys, they used to go up here in the hills and ski.

I remember the old Provo Second Ward building was paradise in the winter. They used to empty the ashes from the coal furnace out behind the recreation hall. It used to build up into quite a hill. In the winter we children used to go over and make slippery slides down that thing. We would be over there sometimes as late as 10:00 at night sliding down that hill. It was a wonderful thing.

It had a wire fence all the way around the whole yard and they had a lot of trees in there. In the fall we used to go over and make leaf houses and play in the leaves on Saturdays. It was absolute heaven to do that.

BUDGE: Were you involved in activities in high school?

CLUFF: In high school I was in the Provo High School Symphony Orchestra and the Acappella Choir. I took creative dancing. I enjoyed that very much.

I was very active in the Mormon Church. I always held two and three positions even while I was in high school. I taught Sunday School. We used to go to church twice a day. Sunday School was in the morning. I was secretary of the Sunday School in high school. I taught junior Sunday School for a while.

We had M Men and Gleaners and MIA. MIA was great. It was wonderful. It was always held on Tuesday night. We thought nothing of going out at night to go to MIA alone. We didn't have to have supervision. One year I was president of the Gleaner class and we used to have gold and green ball every year.

BUDGE: Did you plan that?

CLUFF: No, it was planned mostly by the adults. The hall was always decorated beautifully. They just do not decorate halls now the way they used to in those days.

BUDGE: How did they do it?

CLUFF: With crepe paper and streamers across. But it was really done elaborately, just beautifully. The high school dances were wonderful. There again the gyms were totally decorated with crepe paper, beautiful colors. We had wonderful orchestras. We were beginning to come out of the depression so there was a little bit more money. All of my formals were made by my mother. She designed them and made them and I was always very proud to wear them.

My senior year in high school I worked at the old JCPenney Company. This was the first one that was in Provo. There was the old JCPenney Company next door to the Firmage Company. They gave up the old JCPenney store where I worked and built a new JCPenney store when NuSkin is now. When NuSkin came in they tore all that out and built the new building.

My first year at BYU I would ride up to the upper campus. The upper campus consisted of three buildings at that time and then some old barracks called the north building. My first class in the morning was clear up in the north building on the upper campus. I attended two or three classes up there and then I would walk down for a geology class in the old Brigham Young Academy. Then I would have a dancing class across the street from it in the old women's gym. After school I would walk down and work until 6:00 at JCPenney's. Even then I would bring material home for Mother to make me a dress. I always liked her clothing.

She used to work really hard. During the Depression and when she was raising her family, it was nothing for her to can four bushels of tomatoes every year for her family. She baked all of her bread, four loaves every time she made bread. She would can two bushels of peaches and two bushels of pears every year. We always had beautiful fruit to eat in the winter.

This corner of the kitchen was a big coal stove. This is not the same room. My father, when they decided to retire to this house, tore off the old kitchen and put this one on and the utility room and the garage. But it used to have ceilings that were going up this way and up this way. We got our first refrigerator and it was over in this corner. The electric cord hung down. They used to hang down from the light and we used to have to pull a chain to turn them on and off. Dad rigged it up so we could plug in our refrigerator. The wires were all over the place.

He built this kitchen and the garage. He did this in the forties. The war was going on and he was getting much more money, still working for the Ironton Works of Geneva Steel Company, United States Steel. He was getting much more money. My mother used to call World War II, the foster fight blood money. They became wealthy through blood money.

During World War II we had a flag in our window, not the same window. It's a different one now. We had a flag in our window and five stars on that. She had three brothers. My grandparents had died so she put a star for each one of her brothers and then my two brothers. After my brother was killed she had one with a gold star. She was a gold star mother.

During the war she purchased the first peace rose that came into Provo. That's out here in my garden. It was a rose bush. She planted it out here.

This big pine tree out here was brought down from Logan. My brother after he returned from the Navy went to Utah State University and majored in forestry. He brought this little Colorado Blue Spruce down and put it out here in honor of my brother Marvin. It's huge now. I just cannot cut that tree down. People keep telling me that it's going to blow over on one house or the other.

Last year Rockefeller Center took someone's tree out of their yard and planted it in Rockefeller Center in New York. I'm going to write to them and see if they would like to have this tree, because it's big enough. Even the nation's tree. We're having the Olympics here in 2002 and that would be a good year for the state of Utah to have it. Even the president's house. I'm going to do some letter writing and see what I can come up with. They took the other one out with a helicopter and that is the only way they could lift that tree out of here.

I remember going to high school. The boys were away at war. There were still a lot of young men and sailors who would come home and service men would come home. When the war ended, no girl in Provo ever stayed home on a Friday or Saturday night ever. Every single girl had a date. There were dances all over Provo, in the churches and BYU had dances. There was a gold and green ball from every ward. We used to go from one to the other. Then there would be stake gold and green balls.

They were usually held in the old Joseph Smith Memorial Building up on upper campus. Now that's been torn down and another one is there. The old Joseph Smith building was just a beautiful place. That's where all of the stake dances and functions like that were held. We girls were really busy all the time. We had stake activities and ward activities.

I graduated from seminary from the old building that is still standing across from the Fire Department up here a few blocks. I graduated from seminary from that building. We had release time like they have now to attend classes over there.

It was fun growing up in Provo. When the war came I was in the seventh grade at the Dixon Junior High School. They used to have the DDD day. That was Dixon Dandelion Dig Day. We all used to get out and take knives to dig the dandelions out of the lawn at Dixon Junior High School.

We used to canvas the whole area and take scrap metals whenever we could for the war effort. They would pile all that up. In the afternoon we would have races and a field day with sports activities. We had hot dogs. It was so much fun.

We had dancing every Friday at the junior high. I don't know whether they still have that in the schools or not. They used to line all the boys along one wall in the gym and all the girls out in the hall. This is the way they paired them off. They would open the door and the girls would come in and the boy in the front would take that girl and she would be his partner. Every girl had a partner. Every boy had a partner. There were no wall flowers. We all learned how to dance. It was really a wonderful thing. It just taught us a lot of things.

BUDGE: How did you meet your husband?

CLUFF: I was president of the Gleanor class in MIA and the war ended. He came home and he lived with some relatives down here on Seventh West. He came to MIA one night. He and his cousin walked in and they sat on the back row. I thought, "Who are those funny guys?" His cousin was not really active, but he decided to bring him anyway that one night. I was conducting the class. My mother was the teacher. We had about twenty five kids there that night. Afterwards they had a dance. We used to dance after MIA. They had a dance over in the recreation hall. We had to make our own entertainment. They were still doing it at that time, even though the war had ended. We were so accustomed to making our own entertainment that we continued to do that.

Every MIA night we had dancing for about half an hour after MIA. I remember thinking these two guys were terrible. I and the bishop's daughter were quite close friends. We were sitting clear on the other side because we were not going to fool around with those boys. There were quite a few of them there. We sat way over on the other side where we wouldn't be bothered by them. All the girls were surrounding Keith and Bob in the corner. They were all surrounding them. I thought, this is just disgusting, these girls fooling around with those two boys because they were new. This is absolutely disgusting.

Bob broke loose from them. He left the circle and headed over towards where we were sitting. Erlene was the most popular girl in the ward. She was the most beautiful and the most intelligent girl. She was a senior in high school. I think I was a junior. I went with Bob two years before we were married. He walked across and I said, "Well, Erlene, you're just going to have to make up your mind. You're going to dance tonight." He walked straight over and took my hand and we danced.

My mother used to scrub this floor on her hands and knees all while I grew up. She had a big screen porch on the back and she had her washing machine out there on the screen porch. She washed out there all during the Depression. It was ice cold in the bitter winters. She hung her laundry out on clothes lines all winter long, too. It would freeze. The breeze would come up and it would freeze and dry. At that time it would bleach the sheets as well and then she would bring them in.

Her last rinse water she would have two tubs for rinsing and a wringer type machine, one of the first Maytags that came out. She would have some rinse water left over, so she always brought that tub in here and would scrub the floor. I was sitting on a stool over here and I used to say, "I'll never do that when I get married. I will go to college and I will marry a doctor." I used to tell her that all the time when I was in junior high that I will never do things like that. She would laugh and laugh.

She and I were just like girlfriends. All my life we were just like girlfriends. She was wonderful. The youth really enjoyed her. My friends would come and see her when they came to see me. Bob just absolutely fell in love with her.

BUDGE: What was her name?

CLUFF: Her name was unusual, Falinda.

BUDGE: What was your maiden name?

CLUFF: I was a Huff that married a Cluff. It was really strange. I used to tell her that. When I was sitting on that bench over in the recreation hall, he was walking over toward us. It came to me just like a light, that man is going to be a doctor someday. It was just like a light had been turned on. I thought, "Oh, you silly thing. How could you possibly know something like that?" He was so funny. He said he always felt at home in this area.

He rode a bicycle and said, "I need a drink of water. I'm so thirsty," after we had danced a little bit. "Isn't there a fountain around here?" I said, "No, there's no fountain around here." I said, "We can go over to my house. It's across the street." We walked over here and he opened the door and walked in and came in the kitchen and got a drink of water. My mother and dad were sitting at the kitchen table and they turned and thought, "Who in the world is that?" He said he just felt at home. He kept coming. He used to say all the time, "I'm going to marry you someday. If you grow up to be half as good as your mother, it will sure be wonderful." He used to tell me that.

We dated for a little over two years before we were married. When we were married, I quit school and went to work so that he could get his degree. He went to school two more years. Our first child was born right after he graduated from BYU.

BUDGE: Did he become a doctor?

CLUFF: He did, but it wasn't that kind of a doctor. He was a doctor of education. He got his DED and he was one of the first four in the very first doctoral program class at BYU. It was the time when they kept changing the program. They almost had a nervous breakdown those four guys. They had one program and then they would change it and add something else. It was really hard for them. I did all of his typing for him.

Our first child died. His first contract was with Ephraim School District for $1,200 for nine months. We had this little old car that didn't have good tires on it. We moved to Ephraim and we were there one year. Our first baby died when he was fourteen months old.

BUDGE: What did he die of?

CLUFF: Post surgical shock. He had to have two major operations and the second one was too much for a little baby. Then we went to the University of Southern California and Bob worked on his master's degree down there and we managed an apartment house. That's one thing that married students can do. They can manage apartment houses and get free rent and a little bit of cash besides and a free telephone. It's a good way to go to school.

We were in Ephraim for a year and then we went to California. We were there while he worked on his master's degree and he taught school at Little Lake School District in California. We bought our first home in Norwalk. We had two more children during that time. We had John and Alice. We bought this beautiful home. We could have lived in that the rest of our lives.

Bob came home one day after six months. Our grass was up. Our flowers were just beginning to come in and he came home and said, "How would you like to go to Japan?" This was right after the war. To even contemplate going to Japan was really startling. I had never told Bob no when he wanted to do anything like that. I always said, "Go talk to them. You never know. You don't have to take a job if it's given to you. But if you do it might benefit our family in some way. Go ahead and talk to them."

He went down and they had more than 400 applications for that. This was to teach school for the dependent's school program. The United States had complete control of Japan at that time and we had big Air Force stations and the Army over there and a lot of things. They were able to take their wives at that time, and they had children and they promised them they would give them an education while they were there. He went down and applied and he was the only one that was chosen. He had at that time two children. They said after I got over there it was really unusual for them to choose a married man with a family because it was more expensive to ship them over there. He had to have something that they really wanted.

This happened to us twice during our married life. Each time they chose him over everybody else. Now that I'm older and looking back I think that it had to be divinely inspired, because I do know that the Lord was continuing his missionary program through the military. And there were a lot of LDS people over there. Not Japanese but Americans. We were just one more family to go abroad. In a way we did perform a mission and he became branch president at Tachikawa air base there. We had a very large service men's group, about 200 people.

BUDGE: How long were you in Japan?

CLUFF: We were there two and a half years and then we enjoyed it so much that we came home on reemployment leave and then we went back for two and a half more years. We enjoyed it. We had one child born over there. It was a wonderful experience. Our children, by the time they entered school, had been on every mode of transportation going and coming. Bob said even piggy back. It was a wonderful time.

BUDGE: Did you move back here to Provo?

CLUFF: We came back here and his uncle was dean of students at BYU, Wesley P. Lloyd. We were at his home one night at a family gathering and after everyone had gone home he talked to Bob. He stopped his tenure as dean of students and was dean of graduate school. He said, "We're going to begin a brand new doctoral program this fall." Tuition at that time was only $350 a semester. He said, "You can get a doctoral certificate for only $350 a semester. I'm just telling you about this. I think they would like to talk to you." He had his master's from USC and he transferred all that up here.

In Japan we had servants and a nanny to watch out for the kids. It was such a blessing because I didn't have to do housework and I could spend all my time with my children. That really paid off. It was a real blessing for us. We took part in the Bonaduri festival in town. We lived with the Japanese. We never did live on the base.

When we came back to Provo, we lived in an apartment that was cheap enough for us. That was different, a complete turnabout. It turned out to be a little basement apartment up near campus. We had a lot of beautiful things from Japan, so we had a very nice basement apartment. We had our lamps and pictures. My mother let me take my curtains out of my bedroom up there. It was a nice place. We had three children. We were living on $250 a month.

Bob because of his experience in the service had the G.I. bill which paid his tuition and books and gave us a little stipend to live on each month. He worked in the library. When it came down to it, we were living on $250 a month. I was planning to work again and he said, "No, we're going to have to sacrifice this time." We were paying $50 a month rent. Our grocery bill was $50. He said, "If I don't have to worry about the children I could get through this. But if I have to worry about you working and the kids, then I'm not going to make it." I decided not to work. I had my sons and my daughter.

I read the newspaper all the time for want ads for food. They advertised this one year that you could get a bushel of beans for $1.00 if you came and picked your own. I took my little son with me. He and I picked a bushel of beans and brought them home and borrowed a pressure cooker. My mother came up and helped us snip them and we had a year's supply of beans. They were good. Vegetables and fruit grown in this area are very good. That was such a blessing. I just kept doing that. We had all the fruit and cherries and peaches and pears. I made my bread and I even made homemade root beer during the summer. We had a freezer that we had in our house in California and it was filled all the time.

The bishop was so worried. He would come over, "Are you sure your kids are alright." I said, "We're doing just fine." He said, "You know we're standing by." I said, "The Lord is blessing us. He has made it possible for us to learn how to live on this amount of money."

He went to school on his G.I. bill during his undergraduate and master's degree, but because he came from California, he had California G.I. that he picked up that saw him through is doctoral program. It paid for everything including the publishing of his dissertation. He took advantage of every benefit that the government gave him for being in World War II.

BUDGE: How long did it take you to complete the doctorate?

HUSBAND: It took me four years for my bachelors, one year for the master's and two and a half years for the doctorate.

CLUFF: He was hired by Northern Illinois University in an administration position. He had to work for one year in administration. As soon as he got his doctorate, they made him an associate professor right away.

BUDGE: So you moved to Illinois?

CLUFF: We moved to DeKalb, Illinois. I had prayed and fasted. I didn't want to leave Provo again. I really didn't. But BYU will not hire anyone who graduates or gets a degree from there. Because you're supposed to learn and then go forth to serve. That's their whole idea. I knew we were going someplace. At that time he sent off letters all over the United States. He would receive contracts sight unseen which was unheard of. We were suspicious of those. One of them came from North Dakota and we knew we didn't want to go to North Dakota. This one came from Northern Illinois University and they were going to pay his way back there to interview. I said, "That sounds good."

I had prayed and fasted that the Lord would send us to a place where we could raise our children in the proper manner. Bob came back. He had to do his oral examination so he had to cram for them. I said, "Why don't you take the train back and you can study all the way back and all the way over. The children will not be there to bother you and you can interview." They thought it was strange that he didn't fly. I just felt that he needed that time to rest. He was really down.

I still would like to have found that philosophy teacher and wrung his neck. This educational philosophy class he had to take, he had to turn in a paper every time he went to class. We spent night after night cramming and typing in time to see the sun come up in the morning. He would drink a glass of milk and then off he would go to class. That happened for a whole year like that.

We went back to Northern Illinois University. But before it happened I had a dream and I dreamed something quite unusual. I thought it was unusual. I saw a little yellow house on a hill with a great big tree in front. I thought what a beautiful little house that is. That's a nice place to raise children. I thought about that. Bob came home and said, "That's an Ivy college. It is just beautiful. The town is all canopied with elm trees, the streets and everything. It's a good place. The people that live there are very honest and most of them are church going people. There is not a branch there." We moved right in to the mission field. It turned out to be a wonderful place to raise children.

As soon as we got there the missionaries were sent in. It grew very, very fast. There was one other faculty member who came from Wyoming and he was LDS. That couple were so dedicated. We had to drive 35 miles to church every Sunday. We had an old car. Bob said, "We're going to have to figure out a way to buy a new car. We're going to have to." We bought a brand new station wagon because we figured we were going to have to haul people to church. As people were baptized and brought in, we used to call everybody to make sure they had a ride to church. We would go way out in the country side and pick up families and take them with us. Our house was the biggest for activities. I would like a penny for every beef roast I've put in on Sunday morning before I went to church. Every single week we had people in our house for dinner, because they had to travel so far to go to church.

By then we had our own branch. We first met in schools and then we had a wealthy philanthropist in DeKalb that loved our church and he donated a big huge already established church that had been occupied by the Federation Church of Sycamore. He didn't want it torn down so he donated it to our church. But even then in that day and age we still had to pay a certain percentage. We got busy and we earned the money to pay it. We had a beautiful church.

By then our branch was growing and growing. He came home one day and he said, "The United Nations recruiting officer is on campus. He's recruiting for positions abroad. What do you think about that?" At first I wanted to say no, absolutely not. But there again it came to me, "Don't say no. Have him go in and talk to them and find out what it's about." At that time it was beneficial for Bob to travel and learn about other educational programs. People still were not traveling very much. It was quite a thing. If somebody came back from Japan they spoke all over the town. They were the most popular people in town. For anybody to go to Africa or someplace like that, that was really untold of. They were still using prop driven airplanes.

He came home and I said, "Did you interview?" He said, "Yes, all the guys are going in to talk to him." In October, a whole year after that, he received a telegram stating that he was accepted and they wanted him. "If you're still interested, please sign the contract and return it to them."

BUDGE: Where did you move to?

CLUFF: They chose Bob again.

BUDGE: Where was it that you went?

CLUFF: Two weeks before Christmas he received a telegram to be in Paris by January 1. He took it all down to Northern and they thought it was a wonderful thing. They said you can go ahead. As soon as he got his doctorate they gave him tenure. They just don't do that, unless you're really qualified. By then he had worked in administration as an expert in educational measurements, statistics. This is exactly what the U.N. wanted. That's why they chose him. They offered him a huge salary and he had to go on ahead without us.

We decided I'd keep the kids in school. I was working at that time. They were older. They were in high school and junior high. I thought I'd continue working and join him in the spring. That gave him a chance to establish a home. He was sent to Sudan.

BUDGE: And you joined him in the spring with your children?

CLUFF: Right. And our dog and our cat.

BUDGE: How long were you there for?

CLUFF: Approximately three years. Then there was a war going on. Before that the 1967 war was on. Americans were very unpopular and they kicked out all of the U.S.AID people. Those AID people had beautiful homes that were provided for them by the government and beautiful furniture. There were big warehouses full of that stuff for AID people.

They had built a beautiful road going out into the desert to connect the major cities. When they were kicked out of Sudan, the road ended right in the desert. I'll bet it's still there. So you could drive out on that thoroughfare and all of a sudden it ended.

BUDGE: Did you come back to Provo after that?

CLUFF: After that we went to the Isle of Malta. He stayed with the U.N. and we went to the Isle of Malta. Then they assigned us back to Northern for a while, then the U.N. came for him again. As Great Britain would pull out of a small country, they would send Bob in to do the ground work to escalate educational programs. That's what he did all over the islands of the Caribbean. We would travel back and forth.

Our kids were on missions. When they started coming home and getting married, it was determined that I should be on this side of the ocean. I settled here in Provo.

BUDGE: When was that?

CLUFF: In 1978. I got a job in the Art Department at BYU and I was the faculty secretary there for about seven years. Bob came home and he was unattached to any university and not old enough to retire yet. He could have gone back to Northern, but he did not want to get back in the University system again because of the pressures that are on you. He was above that by then. Publish or perish. Even the faculty members in the Art Department have to have shows. It's really a lot of pressure on them. He just felt he didn't want that.

The Church came to us and asked us if we would go. My position was ending. They wanted to make it an administrative position. I really wasn't that prepared for that. They put me on part time and brought another secretary in from the Gallery. She took my position and I was there part time for two years. I was earning as much money part time as I would have been full time. The Church is very fair to their employees. They watch you and take good care of you.

Bob had been doing a little investigating and they came to us and wanted us to go down and apply for a position managing the Temple Apartments in Los Angeles. They were having some problems. Tax people were coming after them, trying to prove that they were motels. And they're not. It would have meant paying them thousands of dollars in taxes to get that apartment house. The apartment house had over one hundred apartments in it and it's right on the temple grounds. They couldn't do anything with it. If it was off the temple grounds they could see it and it wouldn't have caused them the trouble. But because it was on the temple grounds, they had to keep it.

So they sent Bob and I down there to manage it. Bob was able to do an awful lot for it. I established a good quality office and had a computer and we had a new office built for us and brought it up to standards. They brought the building up to standards. They had been remodeling the apartments and they continued doing that. We turned it into an apartment house.

At that time the other temples were not built. The only other temple in California was in Oakland. From Fresno, all the way down to Los Angeles, they were in the L.A. temple district. It meant staying overnight to work in the temple. All the people from San Diego wanted to work in the temple and they had to stay overnight too. The apartment house was a great blessing to us. Each apartment when it was built was built for that purpose.

They had older tenants in there that were going to do temple work the rest of their lives. Because they were living there they had this tax problem. Anyone that moved in there had to have another home to go to, to accommodate that.

It was just an efficiency apartment but it had enough space in it that we could have four couples alternating each week. We would have one couple assigned to the first week of the month and the second weekers come in the second week and the third weekers and fourth weekers. They had a place to stay and they stayed the whole week and did the entire midday session of the temple.

The people who resided in Los Angeles and the closer areas could come in and do the early sessions. The late night sessions they had people who were just one day a week and we had rooms to accommodate them too. Then we had seventeen rooms that were overnighters for anyone coming in to do temple work. We had weddings and people like this and snow birds that wanted to stay a few months. It was a wonderful thing.

BUDGE: When did you come back to Provo?

CLUFF: We came back to Provo exactly four years ago. We bought this house because I didn't want it torn down. We've been spending that time getting it ready for us. We're still not finished. We still have some things that we have to do. We kept the old cupboards and Bob redid them. He put new finishes on them. We've gotten over to here and this cupboard will have glass doors on it to put my china in. It did not have a dishwasher and the stove was an old electric one. It was on that wall and there was nothing on this wall.

BUDGE: Who lived in this house before you bought it?

CLUFF: My mother. She lived here and then she died and we bought the house and then rented it temporarily to other people for a few years. It really got run down. The yard became very unkempt and really run down. The rest of the family didn't want the house but they wanted something out of it. My mother kept the appraisal way down on it because she knew that we did not have a home. We were unsettled and we were still in the apartment. She kept it down to $40,000. $10,000 was for each one of her four children that were left. $10,000 for me and $10,000 for the others, if we sold it. That's what they would have gotten. We decided to buy it so we got a loan for $30,000 and paid them off.

BUDGE: How do you like living in Provo now?

CLUFF: I like this area. A lot of people wonder why we like to live here and not up on the hill or other places in Provo. We like this area because it has real roots. It has pioneer heritage. This is where the pioneers came from Utah Lake and moved up here. There is a lot of history in this area. This is a corner lot. It could have been bulldozed and it would have been bulldozed and apartment houses put here. It's across the street from the stake center. It's a beautiful thing.

My mother was president of the relief society when they tore the old building down and built the new building. She was very conscious about keeping this yard looking nice because it was so close to the church. All the people along here feel the same way. You almost have to keep it up.

Bob loves this house. He loves it. He always did. He's just having a wonderful time. I'm married to a man that has to be busy all the time. He turned the garage into a work shop and he's got every kind of material out there to make something. He's been building and building. He just finished the shelves in the bathroom. We've still restoring this bathroom. He just did the shelves in the bathroom. He put the patio on outside. We've added some cement sidewalks around here.

We put in a centennial garden the year of the centennial out in the north part. Our garden is a prize winning garden. The roses that come out of it are prize winning. Two years ago we won the silver trophy for the most beautiful rose in the state of Utah. We belong to the national rose society and we're members of the Utah group of the rose society. We meet in Salt Lake. This Saturday is the rose show for this year. Because we had such a cool spring, nobody had any roses when they had it on Father's Day. The postponed it a week and it will be this Saturday in Salt Lake.

BUDGE: Did your mother plant a lot of roses?

CLUFF: Yes. I have one rose out here of Paul Narone that came from my grandmother's garden. My mother planted it here. That rose is over 150 years old. The peace rose was the first peace rose to come into Provo after World War II. When the original pioneers built this house, when my parents moved into it in 1925, there's always been a little white rose bush out there. We figure that that is now close to 150 or 200 years old. Every time I take either one of those old roses to the rose show, it gets a blue ribbon.

BUDGE: How do you keep your roses? What's your secret to keep them so beautiful?

CLUFF: Hard work. There's a recipe for doing roses. One of them is to feed, water, and cut. If you do that roses love to be cut, because it stimulates the root growth. You feed, water and cut.

BUDGE: When do you cut them?

CLUFF: In the spring. When you cut roses you stimulate the growth. My husband and I are at odds ends right now because he wants to do it in the fall. My son-in-law is also a member of the Rose Society and he is a landscaper. He said you do the roses in the spring. We did it in the fall last year and we lost a few. When you cut them you stimulate the growth and then it freezes. You want to stimulate the growth in the spring rather than the fall.

We're not going to be able to go to the show this year because we have a funeral in the family. We miss that. We learn an awful lot. They do have a beautiful rose show of all kinds. We won the trophy for a predominately green rose, which was a St. Patrick. They never ever award St. Patrick.

I had watched this rose two or three days and I told Alice, "I don't believe I'll have any roses for the show this year." She said, "Give it a couple of days, you might have." They like the big long stems and the beautiful leaves. She said, "You just keep watching." This one St. Patrick was in bud about Wednesday. I thought maybe by Saturday it might be ready. It had beautiful leaves and a beautiful big long stem. I kept watching it and that morning it was almost ready to burst. I thought, "If I cut that this morning, by the time I get up there it will be just perfect." I got it up there and you have to use their vases.

You polish the leaves with nylon stockings. It has to be perfect. Alice said, "God does not make the perfect rose. You have to make it perfect." We got it up there and this St. Patrick stood so high in the vase. The center of it just came out. Normally when a St. Patrick opens up it's quite flat. This particular one just came out.

The judges come from Texas and have their medals on them and they march around all the tables. We have to leave. We have to have our roses on display by noon and then they come in at 1:00. She was president and she was able to stay.

They went around picking the ones that qualified and put them on the table. She said, "Mother, when they picked up your rose and put it on the table, my heart just went in my throat." They all marched around and disqualified and gave prizes. Then they came to the best prize of the show. They all chose that one. All of them. They do it by secret ballot. Then they turn in their ballot and they don't compare. They unanimously chose my St. Patrick. Some of the people yelled about it, but they said, "No, we have never seen a St. Patrick like that."

One thing about this area of Provo, when I grew up, every house around here had children. They were all good families and they were all active in church. It was a wonderful place to raise a family. The school was here. The church was there. Pioneer Park was there for recreation and town was within walking distance. You didn't really even need a car. Today, that's one reason why we moved back here. When we get older, we're not sure we're going to be driving. We can go to church.

When we were called on our church service mission, which we're serving right now in the Provo Tabernacle, it's four blocks from home.

BUDGE: How often do you serve there?

CLUFF: We serve one morning and one evening and one entire weekend a month. There are five couples. We alternate. It's wonderful. We're doing tours in the summer. Then a couple has to be present at every function. It is watched every hour, all week. It's all scheduled. Last Saturday Bob and I were on duty. They had a regional priesthood meeting and President Monson was there. I was able to sit in the office and listen to priesthood meeting. That was quite a blessing for me. They invited Bob to come out and sit with them. I thought it was really choice.

We meet some awfully nice people. One Saturday morning we had two people from Hungary, two from Denmark, that were entering the MTC, to go back to Denmark and another couple who were not LDS from Minnesota. They were travelling the Mormon Trail. They had been to everything from upstate New York to the pageant and they had been down to Nauvoo. They were out in Salt Lake then came down to Provo to see BYU and they came to the tabernacle. They were headed for California. They were planning to follow the Mormon Battalion Trail there.

It's interesting the people you meet. She said Mormon history is so interesting. They're history buffs and they always wanted to do the Mormon Trail. She said next year maybe they'd do another one. It's very interesting. They went into the genealogy library to see everything.

BUDGE: Is there anything else you'd like to add?

CLUFF: I did mention that this neighborhood was such a good one. It was a wonderful place to raise children and it still is. We find that as the older people are dying, new young families are moving in there. A lot of them are students from BYU but a lot of them are not. They're good solid families. So there's another generation coming up in this neighborhood.

We have a neighborhood organization and they watch it very carefully. They upgrade old houses for the elderly people that can't get out and really paint their houses. The neighborhood program will paint their houses for them and help keep it up. It's quite a thing.

We noticed that right through the block here, somebody built a big beautiful home right in the middle of the block. I think they bought one house. The lots are so big because the house was here and then the property goes clear into the middle of the block because they all had to have gardens in those days. He bought that whole thing and built a big beautiful house here and then he's restoring the old house in front. It's just beautiful. That old house is so pretty. I can say I know the people who lived there when I was a little girl. Now look what it is. It's just a really wonderful heritage.

The house across the way wa one of the first houses that was built. They have a historical marker on front. My parents didn't want to do that because they knew that they were going to be changing it. If you go into the Heritage Program you can't change it. All you can do is keep it up.

BUDGE: This is a neat area.

CLUFF: It's a nice area. A lot of poor people have moved down in here too because properties are cheaper. We have a lot of Spanish people living down south of us. Some of them have moved into the ward. We find that they're moving in and they're nice people. We like them and they want a nice place for their children too.

The Franklin School is a good school. It's a really good school. I've heard parents talk about it. It's new now. They tore down the old one that I went to.

BUDGE: When did they do that?

CLUFF: They tore that down seven or eight years ago. They had a special event for which they invited all the old faculty members that might be living that had taught there at one time and all the students that went to that school. They could go over there and sit in the classrooms. They had all the old desks. They told me about it. We weren't able to come up. They said they were able to sit in the same desks that they were in and see the same teachers. Some of them were still alive. They said it was just a wonderful program. When they tore it down some of the people took some of the bricks and they put them in their patios.

BUDGE: I appreciate all that you've shared. Is there anything else you'd like to add?

CLUFF: I would like to say one thing about during the War years. If you've ever lived in Utah and had the first snow fall, it's a wonderful thing. It's usually a beautiful snow storm and it usually comes down just like cotton from the sky. I and my girlfriends used to like to get our umbrellas and go walking in it until late at night, 11:00 and 12:00. Our parents didn't worry about us a bit. We would walk. I remember one night I and my girlfriend had our umbrellas. It was warm. It's warm in Utah when it snows. In Illinois it's ice cold when it snows. We walked down to the railroad tracks and there were trains coming through all day and all night. They were troop transports and cannons and trucks and guns of all sizes.

I remember we walked down there at night. There was a train coming. They couldn't travel with lights. There were no lights on the trains at all. This big huge train came through very silently through Provo, not honking its horn or anything. Just very silently slipping through town headed for the west coast. It had guns and tanks and trucks and all kinds of things on that. We stood and watched that.

We were in an all-out war. The young people have heard about World War II, but this was a time when the entire world was at war. It was life or death for everybody. We were not excluded from that. Of course all of our brothers were gone.

When the war began and the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, all of the young men in this ward wanted to hurry up and join. They were so dedicated to our country. I just can't tell you how much the young men loved our country.

My brother and all of his brothers, first thing on Monday they were going right down to the recruiting station to join. My mother talked my brothers into staying home until Christmas, because we didn't know whether we'd all have Christmas together again or not. This was what was happening in every home in the United States, not just here. I remember I was still young. I was twelve. I was old enough to realize the seriousness of this business.

We were sitting at dinner at my old brother's apartment. We were eating. They had moved the table in the living room. The radio was on playing some music when they broke in and announced that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor. I remember everybody just stopped talking immediately. We knew what that meant.

You just can't imagine the patriotism during the war. My father was able to retire on the war bonds that they bought. Even though they didn't have a lot of money they bought a bond every month regardless. We used to have movie stars come into the old Provo High School on bond tours, selling bonds. Our whole living during the day was based on what was happening on the 5:00 news. Everybody listened to the 5:00 news on the radio. Everybody listened and watched the newspapers.

If anything happened to any one of the boys in this neighborhood, the whole neighborhood was there to give all of their compassion. When my brother was killed, before 6:00 or 7:00 that night I think there were ten cakes in this kitchen and food. It was just pouring in. It was just one of those things.

Some very good people from the old Provo Second Ward, made a flag that hung from the ceiling clear down half way to the wall, and it had a star for everybody from our ward on it. And the gold stars at the bottom. Every time a star was changed from blue to gold, it was taken off and put at the bottom. It was considerable. I don't know how many stars there were, but that flag was just full of boys. There was somebody from every home. That generation had grown up.

Each child and teenager, every high school person was totally aware that we were in terrible danger in this conflict. It's different than the wars that they have nowadays. I think the Jews are trying to keep the people abreast of what happened to them. They don't want the history to die out.

But when the boys from World War II came home they didn't want to talk about it. And they didn't. They did not talk about it. Now some of them are still living and it's beginning to come out more and more in the newspaper where this fellow did this. The candy man dropped candy in Berlin. It's coming out now but it's almost too late. I have tried and tried to get my husband to write a history of it. He just doesn't want to. They don't. They saw horrors and they saw ships.

My second oldest brother was on a destroyer. He had been on that thing for four years and he demanded the next transfer off. Several had been transferred. He demanded that he be taken off of that destroyer. He was in everything, the third fleet, all the way through the Pacific War. He wanted to be transferred. He was a big tall guy and there wasn't much walking space on a destroyer. He demanded the next transfer off that ship. Four days after he was transferred, it was sunk in a typhoon. He was home when we got the telegram from my brother. He was transferred off and came home. He called mother from San Francisco about an hour before they announced that this ship had been sunk. He had called her from San Francisco.

There's been a lot of history. But it's too bad that more of the servicemen didn't talk. They figured they had wasted so many years of their lives, they wanted to get on with their lives and they wanted to go to college and meet nice girls and get married and have families.

The girls at that time felt that they needed to sacrifice their time away from college so they could help their husbands get through and accomplish what they wanted. Later on some of the girls had not kept up intellectually with their husbands and there were a lot of divorces later on because of that. The husband progressed and they didn't.

The only reason I survived is because I was a secretary and when I could I would work at the university. Actually I had a job while my children were growing up. I worked six hours a day, from 9:00 until 3:00 in the afternoon with no lunch. I worked in the department of educational administration where my husband was. But I worked for somebody else and he was over in testing services and teaching part time. I really knew more about the program than he did. That's the only thing that saved me. I think that it's a terrible thing for a wife to live vicariously through her husband.

Interviewee: Rula Cluff
Interviewer: Heather Budge
June 24, 1999

Return to Oral Histories List