Oral Histories

Deone Skewes


Deone Skewes

Interviewed by Jean McDowell in Moab, July, 2003.



Q: Were you here during the boom times?

A: I lived in Salt Lake but I never left Moab.   Really, I always came back here.

Q: So were you born in the Grand Old Ranch House?

A: No, I was not.   My mother was. That was her childhood home. But I never did live there. As a young girl she lived there. 

Q: Were you born in Moab?

A: Yes, I was. I was born in Moab in 1920 and that summer and fall we were the first bunch of babies born in Moab to a new doctor called Dr. Allen.

Q: Oh. Allen Memorial Hospital.

A: Yes. And at that time, the hospital was just a large white house where the tourist station is. The big hotel. Down on the corner.

Q: Near Pasta Jay’s [ a restaurant located on the southwest corner of Main Street and Center Street]?

A: In that area. Yes. And, the hospital was just a big white house.

Q: I think we have a picture of it.   Along with a baby that was in an incubator with a 25-watt bulb.

A: Probably, yes.   And, Dr. Allen came down here. He didn’t plan to stay. He was going to come down here and he figured it was a good place to get a lot of good experience. He was out of medical school and so he was going to come down here and stay for a year but he never left.

Q: And they named the hospital after him?

A:   They named the new hospital after him.

Q: So you grew up to know him, I suppose.

A: Oh yes. His son and his step children were good friends of mine. We were life-long friends as kids, you know, and still are — the ones of us who are still left.

Q: So your mother was Lydia Skewes.

A: Yes. She was Lydia Taylor Skewes.

Q: Sam Taylor’s cousin? Or your first cousin?

A: Yes. Sam and I are first cousins. His dad and my mother were brother and sister. So, Sam and I go back a long way too.

Q: Just you and your sister, Elaine Peterson? Were you the only children?

A: No, Mother had five children. Our one sister, Madge, is not living now and our two brothers do not live here. One lives in Texas..

Q: He’s the one who gave us the gun.

A: He’s the one who gave you the guns. And, the other brother lives in Bountiful.

Q: So you see them every now and then?

A: Well, not really often, because we are all getting too old to get up and go anywhere. 

Q: I think the Texas gun-giver did come up again. Either last year ..

A: He tries to come every year, in October. Well, he just comes to visit. He misses Moab. He was born and raised here and he loved it and he didn’t leave until the 1930s during the depression and there was no work for people so he found work in — well he fell in love with a little school teacher here from Texas. So they went back to Texas where he could find some work ‘cause there certainly wasn’t any here at that time.

Q: So he did find it there?

A: Yes. But he is a young 92 and he still comes every year to check things out and see how we all are.

Q: Well, you are quite the piano player. Were you a professional piano player or teacher?

A: Well, I taught but I did not teach piano. I did to a few kids in Moab but I didn’t do it as a living or anything. But I did play a lot and I have played professionally and I did teach music in the schools.

Q: Well, we appreciate the piano you gave the museum that was brought over on the ferry.

A: Yes, that was the first piano in Moab.

Q: And were you a teacher of something else .. not of piano but …?

A: I taught first, second, third and fourth grades. I also taught music, singing and instrumental music. I taught for 35 years in the Granite School District in Salt Lake.

Q: Oh, that’s where you were.

A: When I went up there to the University I got a job and I stayed there but I never really left Moab. Moab was always home.

Q: So you just checked in here quite regularly?

A: Yes. Yes, I did.

Q: Well, I guess if you were visiting you were aware of what it was like in the boom times?

A: Oh yes. It was bad, you know. But it’s not much different than it is now because there is still an influx of people. You still wait in lines at the store and the Post Office.

Q: And you had a house all along, didn’t you?

A: Yes.

Q: So housing was not a problem for you.?

A: No. But it was for a lot of people.

Q: I gather that it was and that a lot of these trailers came in at that time that are still here.

A: That’s right. Yes, I know when I was a kid, we didn’t even have any keys to our house. My folks would come to Salt Lake when I was in school there. Never locked their doors. Everything was just fine, you know.   You wouldn’t do that this day and age. 

Q: Well, I’ve gotten in that habit of not locking the door. Do you know where Juniper is…?

A: Yes.

Q: Out near the golf course but it is a dead end street sort of thing. I am probably getting careless.

A: It’s a good idea to lock your doors. The things I read, I lock my doors.

Q: You are younger than your sister?

A: Yes, Elaine is now 94.   She will be 95 this year. In fact, this month. And I am 12 years younger than she is.   I will be 83 in September.

Q: Well, it seems that time goes by.

A: It really does. It goes in a hurry.

Q: So what do you think of Moab now? You said you still have lines to wait in and that it is sort of the same.

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