Oral Histories

Audrey McDougald

b. 1928

Audry McDougald

A: I started First grade in the Mormon church on First North. It’s now being used as the Art Center. I remember marching from that building to our new school, which is now the vacated Junior High School building. I attended grades 1 through 12 in this building.

During my high school years, I was active in drama and music. We had a marching band. We also had a symphony orchestra. I played cello in the orchestra.

There were school plays and, of course, we had the junior and senior proms. During the war years from 1941-1945, we had rationing of shoes, sugar, and gasoline.

My fondest memories are of the marshmallow and weiner roasts around the campfires, singing along with the guitar. We also ice skated in the winter months and hiked the red cliffs n the summertime. We swam in the water behind the old power dam and in the Colorado River.

Q: Okay, it’s not exactly part of your life, but were you here when Charlie Steen and boom times were?

A: Yes, and it was an exciting time. (pointing to a picture in book 2) It was different time during those years. Socially we had more activity during the Steen years. This is a picture of a fashion show presented by Madge Ward. You know, Madge used to own the Alice Jo Shop.

Q: I’ve heard that Madge Ward was related to the Miller family?

A: Right. These were the ladies and this is how they dressed during the fifties and sixties. We wore furs. See all these fur coats and fur stoles. Notice the strapless evening and afternoon dresses. Notice the hemlines, almost perfect. We used to really dress up.

Q: Was that during the boom times?

A: Yes.

Q: Did you have a lot of parties?

A: We had a lot of social life, a lot of parties.

Q: Did you know Maxine Newell? She said that after work would go back of what is now Nifty Fashions.

A: That location was the Moab Uranium Club. It was a private club for cocktails, dinner, and dancing. There were many other social activities for couples. We had a monthly dinner dance, at which time we hired an orchestra from upstate.

Q: Is that where the orchestra performed?

A: No, usually we had the dinner dance at the M-4 Ranch (now the Pack Creek ranch) or sometimes we would dance at the Elks Lodge and a number of times, during the summer months, w went down to the river on Tex McClatchy’s paddlewheel riverboat.

At the time we were married and had begun our married life, Charlie Steen  discovered his uranium strike in 1952. I remember going down to visit Charlie, the first time I met him, and I was on a Red Cross drive for donations. He was generous with his donation that day. That was the beginning of the boom which was to change the Moab area.

Q: Is this when you lived on Nichols lane?

A: Yes.

Q: So you didn’t have any problem with housing?

A: No, we had completed our home on Nichols Lane, but there were a lot of problems for the people moving in. I remember we had completed our home and were planting shrubs and trees. There was no water for outside watering. Since we had a tank truck in our business, we went to the river every night to pump water from the river and we brought it to our shrubs and trees on Nichols Lane.

Q: Was there culinary water from the faucets?

A: Yes, but when the boom came, there were so many people in trailers that the population increased very rapidly. There were not enough water or sewer lines. All the utilities had to be improved. 

Q: Before the big crowd, you did have good water?

A: Oh, yes, we had running water, but we couldn’t use it outside. As we had just planted new shrubs and trees, we had to bring the water from the river in the tank truck for outside watering.

Q: Did the neighbors want you to water theirs?

A: They could see we were watering, but we couldn’t water the whole town. We were just lucky to save our own yard.

Q: Right. How about the sewer? How did it work?

A: I don’t know. I’m sure they had to build all the sewer lines.

Q: About that time you had little kids?

A: The two babies. This reminds me of a very difficult time we had because of the lack of doctors during the period.

Q: How would you describe the town’s infrastructure as it changed in the boom times?

A: Well, there were a great many changes and improvements.

Q: Social structure?

A: Well, I was mentioning the social clubs, but there was a great deal more activity in the churches.

Q: No television and other distractions?

A: Everybody was usually busy with church activities. I was very active in the church. Almost all of the women were. We have a number of the same activities, but I believe people are less active today.

Q: You went to BYU. Are you LDS?

A: No, I’m an Episcopalian.

Q: How did you happen to go to BYU? 

A: I received a scholarship to BYU. I majored in English.

Q: Did you interact with neighboring communities? Green River? Monticello?

A: Well, during the Viet Nam war, I was the Red Cross chairman in charge of military communication and I had a lot to do with San Juan County.

Q: Did you go down to Monticello?

A: NO, the service people would come to Moab to see me. If the military wanted to get in touch with someone or vice versa, they would use the Red Cross communications. So I had a lot to do with people from Monticello. Ken, being the Mayor, was very active with people from Blanding, Monticello, and Green River.

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