Oral Histories

Deone Skewes

b.1920

Deone Skewes

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.

A: Yes. I don’t like it as well as I did when I was a kid. Even though it is still not large, it is large compared to what it was. It used to be about 800 people when I was a kid growing up. Everybody knew everybody in town and all their business. Names of their horses and dogs and the whole thing, you know.   But it was a real fun place to grow up. 

Q: So did it become less fun to visit when you came back to visit it during the uranium times?

A: No. No. It wasn’t.   You know, it was like any boom town. I think lots of people heard there was lots of work and lots of money to be found here and there wasn’t.

Q: I suppose it depends on if you were in it? I was talking with Maxine Newell who, evidentally, her husband was an engineer and she had just one big party.  

A: Well, they had a big party every year

Q: Well, not just a big party. But it was a social situation where every night they would meet together at what is now the Nifty Fashion’s — sort of over there somewhere. There was a ballroom or something.

A: I don’t know.

Q: The one that is across from the MIC parking lot. You know where the Nifty Fashions is … seems like there is a a big open space in back of that that I thought must be sort of a place to dance and have fun. I don’t know.

A: I don’t know at all.

Q: Oh well. Did you come here on weekends when you lived in Salt Lake?

A: Yes. And holidays.

Q: So your mother was still living then?

A: Yes, she was. And then, she left her home to me, and Elaine and my other sister Madge were still here so I would always come back. So I would just lock this house and go back to Salt Lake when I still working there.

Q: So you had two homes?

A: Yes. And I had a place to live down here so I did not have to worry about motel reservations and all that stuff.

Q: Did you drive back and forth?

A: Yes.

Q: So, do you miss Salt Lake?

A: Not really. I miss the area I lived in. You know. But Salt Lake is big and it was even smoggy when I lived there.

Q: Oh, the inversion that they often have.

A: I still have good friends there but I don’t really want to live there.

Q: Well, if Sam Taylor is your cousin, I guess you kept touch over all the years with the newspaper? Did you ever get involved with the newspaper?

A: No.   No I didn’t.   

Q: So what years were you in Salt Lake? You graduated from college and stayed there?

A: I went there in 1934 and I graduated from the U in 1938. No. I graduated from the U in 1942. And then I stayed there and worked until I retired. But I always came back home. 

Q: So you came here as soon as you retired?

A: Yes. I still had a lot of friends here and family.

Q: What did you major in?

A: Music and art and education. 

Q: Do you paint? Is that your painting?

A: Yes, I painted these pictures, yes.

Q: It looks as though you paint local scenery, if those are both yours. Nice.

A: Yes. They are all over.   I was a Saturday painter

Q: So you left your paints here in Moab?

A: Oh no, I would take them back with me – back and forth. But I never did paint here because oil painting is not for Moab climate. It’s either too hot or too cold.   The wind blows sand in your paint . There are insects so what you do is take pictures and slides or even a picture you like on a calendar and then paint at the kitchen table. That’s what I used to do.

Q: That’s handy.

A: So, after a few years of that I decided I didn’t want to do this anymore so I gave my paints away.

Q: Oh, no.   Well, maybe it was just the time.

A: Yeah. You know there is a time for everything. You finally just give up. 

Q: Oh well, I don’t know about that. Since you retired, what’s that time been for you?

A: Not much of anything. I used to play the piano quite a bit for things. I used to play at the Pack Creek Ranch for their Sunday night dinners, evenings. But I don’t do that anymore.

Q: I think you played for the Museum one time. At one of our first sort of annual meetings.

A: I think I finally did. Yes.

Q: Do you want to do it again?

A: No, I tell you old age has set in and I have Parkinson’s and with that you can’t control your hands and that is important if you play the piano or anything else.

Q: You do have a little shaking.

A: Very shaky if I miss my medication.

Q: So it does control it?   The medication?

A: It pretty well does control it, you know. Up to a point. When I miss my medication, I know it. I know it’s missing.

Q: So when you were out at Pack Creek, was that with Ken Sleight? Or with the previous owner?

A: Yes. Ken and Jane. And, strange how that began. They were having a big Thanksgiving dinner out there and I was invited so a lot of us were peeling potatoes and doing all this work toward the dinner and someone asked me to play, so I played while they worked. And, then after that I started playing up there every Sunday at the dinner in the evenings. That was fun.

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