Oral Histories

Clara Copley Shafer


Clara Shafer

Q: Where were you living at this time?

A: Well, when my father-in-law was living with us, we were living where we live now which is the property that I am living in now. It has been in the Shafer family for at least 100 years. The house that we are living in was built about 30 years ago. The house that was there before, I lived in for a year. It had one bedroom and I had four children at the time. That was….. the kids were always sick. They were always sick. They just kept the germs circulating and circulating, circulating. They were always sick. That house was moved somewhere up where Alco is. I was shown where it was but the people that moved it off the property remodeled it so much that I can’t pick it out now. No, we moved into a house that was built for my mother-in-law. I don’t know just when it was built. But, Sog always called it the “white elephant.”

Q: Sog is…?

A: My father-in-law. He was one of the town characters. He got his name because he was always in the sorghum barrel and, at that time, it was the only sweetening they had and he always had it all over his face and Philander Maxewell started calling him Sorghum Shafer and it just got shortened to “Sog.”

Q: You also told me an interesting story about a grave on the property.

A: Well, my father-in-law told me this and my mother-in-law told me this. But, during one of the times the Shafer property was rented out (this would have been John Henry Shafer – the one that the house was remodeled in honor of – and his wife, Essie, who lived there for a while) and Sog told me that they rented it (I don’t know if it was because Grandma Essie had already moved to Fruita to live with her daughter or whether when they lived up on Wilson Mesa, cause they would go up there a lot because of the cattle up in that area. That’s where they run the cattle.) But, they rented the house out to a school teacher. I’m telling you the way Sog told me. The last name was Johnson but he wasn’t related to any of the Johnsons around here. And he had a little girl that died, and he asked Grandmother Essie’s permission to bury the daughter in her flower garden. The first thing I ever heard about Grandmother Essie was what wonderful, beautiful flowers she grew. (She also was a wonderful quilter. She dried a lot of fruit that her boys would run to cover or gather in when it rained. I think Sog told me she sold the dried fruit to the cowboys.) And so he asked if he could bury her (his daughter) in the flower garden. Now, Prommel said that he knew where it was, but I have no idea. The old house that was there has been torn down. We’ve plowed it up several times; we have gardened there. I have no idea where it is now.

Q: How else would you describe the infrastructure of the town changing during the boom years while you were raising your children. Were the schools still very crowded or had the boom tapered off?

A: I think shortly after we went into business the boom started tapering off. I know, when we first bought Skyline Diesel in 1964, Prommel had at least 14 trucks that he was keeping in good repair and he had at least two other guys working for him and then later on he was able to do it with just the help of his sons. The boom started tapering off, I think, in the late 70s and early 80s. A lot of the people from here went to Pioche,Nevada and Panacho, Nevada, and places like that because they were miners and that’s where they were still mining.   As I said, we had the old hospital and then they had the new hospital and it has been enlarged time and time again since then. We had, I think, two doctors. We only had the one drug store; we had Miller’s Supermarket; and Fear’s Market where Poplar Place was when I came here. Miller’s Supermarket was where the café is (Slickrock Café, northwest corner of Main and Center Streets). I can’t remember the name. They are off of Center Street anyway. We had one bank. It’s approximately where the bank is now but it was little. We had one theatre. It was called the Ides and it was where the bank parking lot is. I could sit there in apartment above the Riley Drug Store and listen to the movie, but I could not see it. I just needed to open my door. The drive-in was built during the boom years. They put in a roller skating place during the boom years. There was an old swimming pool on the library lawn, somewhere around that area. (east side of 100 East between Center and 100 South)

Q: The current library?

A: Yes. And they put in a swimming pool down here at the park. There are a good number of churches that have been built.

Q: Were you and Prommel active, socially, in the community?

A: No. He never was active socially in anything. His father wasn’t either although his father always was a member of the Chamber of Commerce. He said it was always good for the community. They changed the road. The main road used to go up Center Street between Milt’s Stop and Eat and the house that was – is there – and then out past – towards the old cemetery – and then take a turn there and on out south of town that way. They changed the road and squared up the corners and some were still gravel roads when I came. The road that goes down by the hospital now was still gravel when I was here. I remember one time that the kids could not come into school because the creek had flooded and those that lived on the other side of the creek could not come into school that day.

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