Oral Histories

Dale & Donna Oviatt

Donna: b. 1929 - Dale: b.1929

Donna & Dale Oviatt

Dale Henry & Donna Williams Oviatt


Interview by Detta Dahl


Q: What is your full name? 

Dale: Dale Henry Oviatt

Q: When were you born?

Dale: November 2, 1929.

Q: Donna, what is your full name and your maiden name?

Donna: Donna Oviatt; my maiden name was Williams.

Q: When were you born? 

Donna: December 25, 1929.

Q: Dale, where were you born? 

Dale: Elmo, Utah.

Q: What were your folks doing when you were born? 

Dale: They were farmers, ranchers.

Q: Did you go to school there? 

Dale: I went to about the sixth grade in Elmo, then we moved and I went to Sunnyside School and then finally in Dragerton; then 11th and 12th in Price; then Carbon College.

Q: When did you come to Moab, and why?

Dale: I came down in 1945 about. My brothers found a couple of Moab girls and they got married so I came down and shopped around.

Q: How did you meet Donna?

Dale: I went out to a party; it was after a dance and at a private home. Donna and one of her boy friends and another girl drove up in a pickup. I picked her up and hauled her into the dance and she made me dance with her and then I took her home.

Q: Did you find work here in Moab?

Dale: I spent one winter up on the mountain here taking care of cows and such.

Q: Who were you working for?

Dale: Joe Wheeler up on Wilson Mesa. I went to the Navy after that. After I got out of the Navy, I worked in the coal mine up in Horse Canyon. I worked there for awhile and then they had a big lay-off. The guys that had been there for ten or twelve years knew they were going to get laid off, so I didn’t wait around. I came to Moab and got a job.

Q: And this was when?

Dale: Oh, it was 1953 when we came down here, I think.

Q: What did you do in the Navy?

Dale: I was a Damage control man.

Q: Where were you stationed?

Dale: In Nagusta, Japan.

Q: Whose damage were you controlling?

Dale: Mostly my own, I think. Actually they put me in beach group and there was no rating there for damage control man. I was there like I am now, didn’t know what I was. I was stationed on an Army base; drew Navy pay; and ate Navy Chow; had a full seabag of Marine Greens.

Q: So you just did whatever needed doing? Donna, may I ask you where you were born?

Donna: I was born in Durango, Colorado,

Q: What were your folks doing then?

Donna: My father was a policeman, my mother was the housekeeper.

Q: Did you go to school in Durango?

Donna: Until about the second grade. Then we moved here (to Moab).

Q: You moved here about what year?

Donna: 1935 or 1936 or something like that. I’m not sure.

Q: What did your folks do when they moved over?

Donna: My mother and father got a divorce. My mother and my two sisters and I moved here; my brother stayed with my father. She worked cleaning hotel rooms, in the only hotel there was here at the time. I think it was called Hammond or something like that. I was so little, I don’t remember. I think it set about where Meadors’ ranch was across from the old City Market – where City Market used to be. That’s about where it was, the way I remember. Mom was a telephone operator after that for about 25 years. We all went to school, all of us, in one building from kindergarten to senior in high school.

Q: Is that school building still here?

Donna: It’s the new city office building. They have repaired it and redone it so many times that is doesn’t look anything like it did when I went to school there.

Q: You were telling a story about going to school there and about a teacher, Mr. Evans. Would you tell that now?

Donna: He was a great teacher. We lived out past the hospital at the time. Every kid down there that could not ride the bus, got together and we all walked to school. H. B. Evans lived down there, too. There were about 10 or 15 of us trailing along behind him, singing, “March, March, March!” In school, he was the best science teacher. He would give you an assignment to do, but someone would say something, or ask a question and we never heard about the assignment again. He would go off on another subject; same thing the next day. When it came time for a test, he’d say “You are going to have a test today”. But guess what he tested on? What we had talked about (not the assignments).

I don’t remember how I did on the test. I wasn’t a very, very good student, but I liked him and he made a lot of friends, he was such a nice guy.

Q: What was your impression of Moab when you were young, going to school?

Donna: I remember when my Dad still lived over in Durango and my younger sister and I went over to Durango to see him for about a week. We came back on the bus, and we got up here and crossed the one lane bridge and it was green and the trees were beautiful. And those old red rocks! I said “This is where I want to be.” It was so beautiful with all the white snow on the mountains.

Q: Did you know anyone who knew or had any contact with any of the CCC boys?

Donna: No, I didn’t know of anybody that did.

Q: You live out by one of the projects, the Pack Creek diversion dam. What did you think of Dale the first time you saw him?

Donna: I didn’t know what to think of him.

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