Oral Histories

David Baker



Q: Did the claims produce?

A: Well, they did some drilling on it, of course, they wouldn’t tell you what they hit. I heard later that they did hit some ore on it, but it was low grade and deep. It was about 800 or 900 feet deep. We just went on staking. We helped the engineer, he had a lot of work, he had an office in one of Steen’s buildings. We’d go out and work in the mine. I’d go down in the mine quite a bit out there at Steen’s, surveying in the mine. We’d go out there every two weeks and work a couple days.

Q: Did you know Dan O’Laurie?

A: I knew who he was. I never was personally acquainted with him.

Q: Did the town get crowded? What was it like?

A: Well, about that time, when I made that little stake, I knew I had to get out of the Ranch House the first of the year. This old house here (where Kaki Hunter lives now) it was for sale. Mr. Meador was the only realtor in town then at that time, Bill’s Dad.
I saw an ad in the local paper and we wanted a house of our own. I only had twelve hundred and some dollars. I came in and talked to Mr. Meador. Well, he said, “I’d sure like to see you get that house. The people that are in there, an old couple, they want to get rid of it real bad, too. I can’t hold it if somebody comes along. You can go to the bank, but I know they won’t loan you only half on it. That won’t close the deal.” He mentioned 2 or 3 other guys around here that he knew had money. He said, “You might hit them up for a loan.” Which I did, but none of them would loan me any money. Well, they didn’t know me in the first place. I didn’t know what I was going to do. You know the Sykes Grocery Store right over here by the old Seventh Day Adventist Church, just across the street. It was a little store that George Burke and his wife ran. She was a sister to Ralph Miller. Mr. Burke was the mayor of the town here about that time, too. We traded with them all the time we were out at the ranch. We’d charge groceries and paid them every month. Shirley went in from the ranch one day to pick up some groceries. She was giving Mrs. Burke the hard luck story about the house and everything. She said, “When Dave comes in tonight from work tell him to come and see me.” So I did. It was a little late in the fall, the days were short, she was still in the store, and it was after dark. One customer was in the store. She said, “When I get the store cleared and get the door locked, I‘ll talk to you.” I stood around there and they finally left. She said, “How much money is it going to take to get into that house?” I knew about right to the penny. I’d went and talked to the bank and that’s what they would loan me – just half. I told Mrs. Burke and she just reached over behind the cash register and got her personal check and wrote out a check. We had never got behind on our bill. She said, “You go get that house.”

Q: So you eventually lived in the Kaki Hunter house?

A: Oh, yes, we lived there twenty years before we moved here. Anyway, I said, “We’ve got to have an agreement on this or some paper on it.” She said, “You get the house and we’ll worry about that later”.

Q: You were lucky. There were all kinds of people wanting to buy.

A: Anyway I went to see Mr. Meador then and went to the bank and we got the deal. We got into the house right in January for $4,500, what I gave for the house. That was the total.

Q: Were the kids in school then?

A: Our oldest boy was a fist grader and it was real crowded, you know. They had to go to double sessions. There was just the one school right over here in Moab. That was the kindergarten through 12th grade.

Q: What is now the city’s building, we used to call the Old Middle School. They could just walk over there.

A: Oh, yeah, after we moved in the area. They went to school from out at the ranch, caught the bus up on the corner there.

Q: The schools were pretty crowded?

A: Yes, definitely.

Q: Did you have any problems getting groceries at the stores?

A: There was just the main store, the old Miller Co-op on the corner.

Q: Miller Co-op on the corner of Center and Main?

A: Yea, I guess they made it into a café, The Slick Rock Café.

Q: I think it’s closed for the winter.

A: That was it, Oh, there were little stores, like this one over here. I think that was about it, and there was another one down on Main Street.

Q: Did you know Jeannie and Dallas Tanner?

A: Oh yes, they built this store up here after that. We knew both of them. In fact Shirley worked for them a little bit.

Q: What did you consider the best and worst things about living here during the boom times?

A: The school situation probably; I mean the kids had to go to double sessions. The oldest boy.

Q: In double sessions, how many kids were in the classroom, do you know?

A: I remember they were crowded is all. The kids had to go to school in the afternoon and not get out until late in the evening. Kind of bad or in the morning they had to get up and get around pretty early in the morning.

Q: What did you do for recreation? Were you involved in all the partying?

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