Oral Histories

David Baker



Q: Who were the guys who were going to have the shoot-out?

A: Jim Skakle and old Clive Stewart. Clive was the game warden. So anyway, they met up there all right. When they got serious, why, Gene Westwood, who worked for Skakle, went to knock the gun out of Skakle’s hand or something and it went off and it went right up the side of his head. Old Gene went to his grave with a scar right up the side of his head. Just from knocking it out of his hand, it went off someway. Anyway, they threw Jim in jail. He told me about that.

Q: Were the people all gathered around like in a Western?

A: Yep. Jim got an attorney and got out. He didn’t serve any time. He didn’t actually shoot anybody. Old Jim was a funny guy. He was a moody old boy. Some days he’d talk a lot and some days he wouldn’t have anything to say. Always threatening with a gun. His neighbors there in Westwood across from Denny’s, I thought there would be a killing anytime the way they talked at one another. Westwood was a hotheaded old feller too. They were fighting over the water and just little things, but I thought there would be a shooting there the way they acted.

Q: These Westwoods were not the same as the Westwood who was the sheriff?

A: No, that’s a different Westwood. I don’t know if there are any of those Westwoods left around here any more.

Q: Verlyn Westwood?

A: I don’t know her. There were several of them when I came to the country; there was quite a family of them, in fact. Four or five boys, three or four girls,

Q: Do you have any thoughts about Moab? You must have stayed here because you like it?

A: I like the climate; I guess that’s the main thing. Kind of have our roots here. With the kids, Got them in school, and all that.

Q: Are you church-goers? A: No neither one of us

Q: Did the Mormon Church have any conflict with your kids? Were they left out or anything?

A: I can’t say they have, no.

Q: It didn’t make much difference to you, as far as the community?

A: No, no. I have friends that are Mormon. Our youngest son joined the Lutheran Church here a few years ago. The oldest boy joined the Mormon Church. They talked him into being baptized. He’s been baptized but he never lived his religion or went to church.

Q: You say the Mormons did get your oldest son but he didn’t stay with it? So it hasn’t been much of an influence?

A: No, no. We took our seven lessons.

Q: Were you involved in any social clubs or organizations?

A: No, I never did hook up with the Elks or Lions or any of those people.

Q: How you interacted with government agencies, well, you worked for them?

A: Yes

Q: Did you have anything to do with neighboring communities like Green River or Monticello?

A: No, not really.

Q: Just liked it here?

A: Yes, I don’t know. After that hard winter we had up there in ‘48 and ‘49, next spring I came down here and I stayed here. That was so darn cold and so much snow. Of course, I saw one winter here that was tough, too…1973. That was a tough one. Three feet of snow here in Moab. And out in the park, anywhere you went in any direction. You could go to Grand Junction and get out of it. You could go to Price and get out of it. It was just right here in this southeastern part of Utah. No kidding, there was about three foot of snow right here in town. People were running around on snowmobiles. And cold! 18 to 20 below lots and lots of nights.

Q: Pipes froze?

A: You bet. There were 2 or 3 old boys and that’s about all they did every day with welders trying to thaw people’s water lines. Old Bob Fine had a machine shop here and he did a lot of that. He told me after that winter he didn’t get paid for half of it, some paid and some didn’t, but he just did it for the people. Lots of people on the back streets were snowed in, they couldn’t get out. The city didn’t have equipment.

Q: How long did it last?

A: Well, from right after Christmas until late February. It just snowed and snowed. I was working out at the park. I’d go out there every morning and shovel snow for an hour and a half around the visitor’s center and around the shop.

Q: Did you have any visitors?

A: A few. It was amazing. There were a few come out and taking pictures of the snow and the icicles on the ledges out there; frost on the bushes. Well it was just a different park from when there is no snow. I was glad to see spring come, though.

Q: What is that tree there?

A: It’s a big old apricot. It’s old and big old limbs come off of it in the last year or two. It’s about done I suppose.

Q: I think you have probably told me all about your exciting life?

A: Well, not all of it but probably enough of it.

Q: Any further comments you would like to make?

A: I put in twenty-six years with the Park. And I enjoyed most of it, but I was glad to be away from it. It’s a bureaucratic deal that gets worse as time goes on, too. All in all, there were better opportunities in Moab during the uranium boom. I’m not crying because I didn’t become a millionaire. I enjoyed seeing things happen during the boom times.

Q: Do you ever go out to the Park?

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