Oral Histories

Dale & Donna Oviatt

Donna: b. 1929 - Dale: b.1929

Donna & Dale Oviatt

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

Q: Was he telling jokes then?

Donna: Yes, he was telling jokes. That’s an everyday occurrence, all day. He was fun to be with. He is still fun to be with but I get kind of tired of hearing jokes all the time. (laughs)

Q: After you finished school, did you go to work?

Donna: I went to Salt Lake with my older sister and we worked up there. I worked at ZCMI; and she worked in a box factory. We were there 3 or 4 years, and then I moved back down. That’s when I met Dale.

Dale: talking about that Pack Creek diversion dam, I think it is just right across the road here; the one that is washed out, on the south side of Kerby Lane. There used to be a big dam, but it is all washed out. There is still part of it, the spill way and all. You can see part of it. There are lots of rocks up in the valley where the CCC put them to keep the floods from washing everything out. That’s the only dam I know of.

Donna: I was kind of young when the CCC was here, so I don’t remember too much about them.

Q: That was back in the thirties. The story is that some of them found girls here in Moab and may have stayed here. Did you hear of any?

Dale: I used to work with one of them that came back and married a local girl. That’s Gearhart. He worked out at the mill. He married one of the Taylor girls.

Q: Did they have children here?

Dale: No, they didn’t have any children. He worked here as a mechanic for a long time then he worked out at the mill.

Donna: She used to be the school nurse, I remember.

Q: What did you do, Dale, when you came to Moab? You were in the uranium industry?

Dale: I drove truck for awhile, and hauled it. Then I worked up on Polar Mesa in the uranium mine. Then I worked in a mine out on La Sal Creek. Then I went to work for the lumberyard down here – Moab Lumber (Turner, now). Then I went to work out at the mill. After I quit there, I went to work for Grand County forever.

Q: When did you start with driving truck?

Dale: That was about 1953-1954.

Q: What company were you driving for?

Dale: It was my wife’s ex brother-in-law, Charlie Dull. Driving truck for him, hauling uranium ore up to Monticello.

Q: Were you living here in Moab?

Dale: Yes, this was after we were married.

Q: Any interesting tidbits when you were driving truck?

Dale: Not really, I stayed on the road, and that was about it. It was what I was doing while I was in the Navy most of the time; working the transportation since I didn’t have a rating there for damage control man. I was driving truck and what have you.

Q: Were you driving in Japan? What side of the road do they drive on?

Dale: Yes, (Wrong side) Over there they drive on the left hand side. To tell you the truth, it was harder to get used to driving on the right hand side when I came back than it was to get used to driving on the left hand side over there.

Q: After the truck driving, then you went up on Polar Mesa? Who were you working for there and what did you do?

Dale: Harold Dull, his brother. (keeping it in the family) I was drilling, shooting, mucking, just mining it.

Q: Was the pay pretty good for a miner?

Dale: Yes. It paid pretty good.

Q: Was it a safe mine?

Dale: They didn’t have any accidents there that I know of. And I worked out at the Gray Dawn for Cal Uranium. My brother was boss out there. I was doing the same thing: mining, drilling, shooting.

Q: Was it a big crew?

Dale: Out at the Gray Dawn, it was just the three of us. My brother, and the guy I went to work at the county for was the helper there. He was boss afterwards.

Q: You worked at the mill, too?

Dale: That was after I had worked at the lumber yard – in the 60s sometime. Hauling lumber and what have you. Then I went to work out at the mill as a mechanic.

Q: The Atlas Mill? What did you work on there?

Dale: Just about everything there: yellow cake dust collectors, crusher, all mechanic work.

Q: Who operated the mill then? About when was that?

Dale: Atlas Minerals, I think, when I went to work there. Late sixties, don’t remember what date it was.

Q: After all of this, you went to work for the County, and you retired from the County?

Dale: I worked for them for thirty and a half years. I was a mechanic mostly, run the motorgraders, rotors and backhoes. Finally wound up as assistant supervisor when I left.

Q: How did the county crew change over the years?

Dale: It got quite a bit bigger. It was an interesting crew – a bunch of good guys.

Q: Did you work on any of the infrastructure of the area – water, sewer, etc.?

Dale: Not really, I didn’t do anything for Moab city itself; County roads mostly.

Q: How do you feel about the current controversy about what is a county road?

Dale: I think the county has done a good job.

Q: Donna, did you work outside the home or volunteer while you were raising the family?

Donna: Yes, I worked Sprouse-Reitz and then I worked for the Spudnut shop for a year or so; that’s where the Sportsman café is now. Then I went to work for Millers Clothing for about twelve years or so; put our kids through college.

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