Oral Histories

Clara Copley Shafer


Clara Shafer

Interviewed by Rusty Salmon, Aug. 15, 2003, at Moab, Utah


Question (Rusty): When did you first move to southeast Utah?

A (Clara): I came here in 1952.

Q: And you came right to Moab first?

A: Right.

Q: And was that from…?

A: The University of Utah (in Salt Lake City, Utah).

Q: Marriages?

A: Just one. Prommel. He was named for a German geologist that his father was working for at the time he was born. This German geologist had written some papers. I happen to have a copy of them at home. He did, the way I was told, exploration work through the Russian government although the guy was a German….Harold Prommel. Prommel is really a surname, a German surname.

Q: When were you married?

A: June 26, l957.

Q: And where did that take place?

A: Salt Lake City.

Q: Children?

A: I have six.

Q: Could you please list them for me in order?

A: Susan, she is a paralegal now living in Phoenix. Kathy, she is in public relations in Logan, Utah. Lloyd, took over my husband’s business when his dad died. Steve is a social worker here in Moab. Paul works with computers in Santa Rosa, California. I don’t know exactly what he does.   David is an electrical engineer living in Carson City, Nevada.

Q: Great. And you did move away from Moab after the first time you came here?

A: I took two and a half years and served an LDS mission in Mexico. After that I renewed my teaching certificate at the BYU and married Prommel so I never used it. In 1960, Prommel, who was working for Chuck Keller at the time, was transferred to Riverton, Wyoming. In 1963, we came back to Moab.

Q: Let’s go back to when you were born in Coalville. Can you tell me a little bit about growing up and the Coalville area?

A: Well, it’s snowy in the winter time and cold in the winter time and very pleasant and very nice in the summertime. It was a small town. The year I graduated, there were 48 seniors and there would not have been that many except they combined two classes through a mistake earlier in the year. They decided these kids needed to be held back in the sixth grade, I guess it was. So we had two sixth grades and they just continued on with us and graduated. Coalville had some ups and downs. There has been some oil booms and it was a coal mining town. There were at least two coal mines operating when I was growing up. 

Q: Was your father involved in mining?

A: No, my father was a school teacher as was my mother. Mom only taught during World War II, though, after she married. My Dad was principal at North Summit. Dad taught 47 years altogether. He taught chemistry, physics, geometry and all that good stuff. I had two brothers and a sister. I more or less grew up with my brothers.

Q: What was the birth order there? Where were you in the mix?

A: My two older brothers and then myself and then my sister. She is 4 l/2 years younger than I am so I really grew up with my brothers and tagged after them a good deal of the time. I didn’t play dolls much. I remember playing mumble peg and kick the can and games like that, and touch football with my brothers. I went ice skating with them. 

Q: Was Coalville primarily rural at that time?

A: Yes. It was. It still is. We haven’t grown an awfully lot but it is growing. Park City is in the same county and it is a lot bigger. Well, Coalville is the County seat. Park City has been arguing over it over the past I don’t know how many years. And, they do have tremendous population growth there. Coalville is slowly growing. The city had their booms when they brought in oil or did oil exploration around the area. Then we had booms. In fact, the people from Evanston, Wyoming, couldn’t find housing in Evanston, so they lived in Coalville and traveled to Evanston. We had the Portland Cement factory there in Devil Slide. Morgan employed some of the people there. There was mink raising. Some of the Blue Willow Mink   I think the name is Buzz Atkins (?) mink.

Q: Now, was that when you were a girl?

A: Yes. The Atkins mink has been sold all over the United States. I understand he has even sold mink that have been used for royalty. He didn’t like the models in New York so he used to take Utah girls back there to model his mink coats. He said the New York models were too skinny. They had that and dairy farming. We had our own cow and we usually had a pig and some chickens and ducks, and geese once in a while. I didn’t like the geese. They usually chased me   I didn’t like them. During WWII, because most of the boys 16 to 18 years old were bussed to Hillfield and Clearfield to work in the defense industries , I got a lot of jobs mowing the lawns for people and have enjoyed outdoor work ever since. 

Q: You would have been a teenager during WWII?

A: Yes. I was 11 when it broke out. I was mowing our lawn and the neighbor asked me if I could mow their lawn and somebody else asked if I could mow their lawns and I preferred to work outdoors rather than indoors so that suited me just fine. We had one doctor for a while and then later we had two doctors. We did have a hospital there for a while but I wasn’t born in one. I was born at home as was my sister and my two brothers. My tonsils were taken out in the doctor’s office because we didn’t have a hospital. But, later on we did get one. But now, we just have a clinic again and just one doctor and one pharmacist. We did have two fairly good stores. They weren’t supermarkets but they were stores. We now only have the one that is of any size. We have a lot of little corner markets. We had two hotels when I grew up. But we don’t have any now. We had two cafés, I guess you would call them. One was an A&W (?) I worked there for a while during the summer time. Another one was called Dean’s (?) Café‚ and it stayed in business up until…..I guess it was 1990 something when it was closed down. We had a train that went up once a day and down once a day.

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