Oral Histories

Clara Copley Shafer


Clara Shafer

Q: Where did the train go?

A: It went to Park City with empty oar cars and usually came back with full ore cars or sometimes coal because, as I said, it was a coal mining town for a while. There is still coal in Coalville but it is too expensive to mine it. It’s not worth it. It’s a good grade of coal but there is a lot of water seepage into the mines and they would have to pump so much and stabilize the mines and it is not worth while. The cars coming back from Park City were loaded with silver from the silver mines. I think they were being taken to the smelter as I don’t remember a smelter in Park City.

Q: When you were in Coalville, now did you go to Salt Lake at all or did you stay right in Coalville most of the time? Did you go to Evanston for big city shopping, or whatever? 

A: Salt Lake was usually where we went. At that time we had a stage that would go in. It would get in Salt Lake about 9:30 and would leave about 2:30. That’s how we got the newspapers that would come out on the stage and the stage helped carry freight back and forth between the two cities.

Q: Was this an auto stage?

A: It was just a truck of some kind. It had a seat in it so that it could carry about 3 or 4 passengers. And that was the way of getting to and from Salt Lake unless you drove. The roads were terrible in the wintertime. I can remember going to games and having to turn around because we couldn’t make it when we went to Park City or Heber or Kamas. Parley’s Canyon was closed a good deal of the time because of the roads. Snyderville and around there the wind blew the snow until drifts were over the fences and you would have to go through that area to get to Salt Lake. We did a lot of sleigh riding in those days. Skiing wasn’t much back then, not in my area. In Park City, I guess it was, but not in Coalville. Ice skating was. Mr. Geary, a local businessman, would flood his pasture almost every winter and the kids would go down there and ice skate and would haul all the old Christmas trees down there and have a bonfire and somebody would usually bring some potatoes and marshmallows or some hot dogs, or something and we would skate. Most of the kids learned to ice skate.

Q: So, you graduated from….?

A: North Summit.

 Q: And then did you go right to college?

A: I worked one summer after high school and before college in the fall at a tomato factory in Roy, Utah. I stayed with an aunt in Roy. Then I went right to college. And, four years there. In the summer time I worked the cafés, as I said the A&W and then at the Kozy Café‚ in Echo and saved my money. When I was in college, I was a nanny. The last three years I was a nanny. I worked for board and room that way. I met D.L. Taylor in one of my chemistry classes and we talked about Moab and then I met Sam Taylor in another of my classes and he talked about Moab. I had never been to Moab and didn’t know anything about the Four Corners area. It sounded like my kind of town., you know, kind of Western –   cattle, sheep, small agriculture. I did not like big cities. I still don’t like big cities. Moab is too big for me now.   I am a small town girl. I like the ambiance of a small town. I like to know my neighbors. I don’t care for big city living. 

Q: Now, when the Taylors mentioned Moab to you, did you come to visit first?

A: No. No. I had a chance to go back East. Back to New Jersey with a girlfriend of mine that I graduated with. Her husband was stationed back there and her family wouldn’t let her go back there by herself and so she persuaded my parents to let me go back. This was right after I graduated from college. We come back through Moab and that was the first time I had seen it. Of course, that was in the early summer of the year when the fruit trees were in blossom and to me it just looked like a little green oasis out in the middle of nowhere. Of course, I had already signed a contract to come here but that was the first time I saw it. 

Q: So you had already signed a contract?

A: Yes. I had already signed a contract. 

Q: And what year would that have been?

A: 1952.   I graduated from college in June of ’52 and came here in September of ’52.

Q: And what grades did you teach?

A: Well, the first year I was given the second grade and that was another one of the reasons I came here. Helen Knight promised me the second grade and that was what I felt best qualified to teach.. So, as I said, I wanted to know what the Four Corners area was like so I accepted the call and signed the contract. The next year I was given the first grade. I’ve got to admit that upset me a little bit because I had all of the visual aides and the programs set up and the supplies that I wanted, and then I was given the first grade. I enjoyed it every bit as much as I did the second grade. The only thing I didn’t like about it was the number of students I had and that goes along with the boom years.

Q: And that’s right when the boom was starting? So, how were you impacted as a school teacher when these people started arriving?

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