Oral Histories

Ferne J. Mullen

b. 1919

Ferne Mullen

Q:   No, it wouldn’t be fun.

A: No you couldn’t do it twice. And it was all lit up with sparkles and everything and it had great costumes and music.

Q: So did he go off in a huff?

A: Oh yes. He was real mad. I don’t think he ever held it.

Q: Let’s see these questions that you probably have glanced at. Well, we know why you were in Moab because your husband was here, and what the housing was like.   And how did you interact with the governmental agencies like the Park Service?

A: I think they did quite well. Of course, you know that at that time they were not really the friends that we are today. It was….

Q: Well, Arches had not built its new entrance, had it?

A: No. It was at the top of the hill.   I don’t know where you turned off to it.

Q: We turned off just going up Willow Springs Road.

A: Yes.

Q: But I don’t remember. Is that the trailer that Abbey was in?   Well, tell me about how you got into politics?  

A: That was much later, after my husband had died.

(Mary?): But when Dad was city councilman, they tried to talk you into being City Council person when he died. 

Q: Oh, so were you in the City Council too?

A: No, just Dad. The miners were really kind of unhappy at the way some of the things were being handled because they had the same ones in all the years that we were here. And it was a two-year term and ….

Q: No term limitations?

A: Yes. Well, evidently not.   Anyhow, he was councilman when he died. And, they…

Q: So, I think when you came into office, that’s when Jimmy Walker and Dutch Zimmerman and somebody else…

(Mary?): Dave Knudson.

Q:   Dave Knudson. Right?

A:   And they did the same thing. Dave Knudson’s term wasn’t up yet so… 

Q: No. There weren’t term limitations then.

A: And, he was the only one. He didn’t have to run that year. One of the main things is when they were all for building a road from…

Q: Oh, I went on that. Sort of a great caravan that went over to Vernal from practically in Colorado where you were…

A: That’s right. They took us over to see.   I said, this isn’t going to do Moab any good.

Q: So, is that what interested you?

A: That was supposed to bring so much business to Moab. But they didn’t put the interest close to Moab. It was coming out almost in Colorado.

Q: Right. Well, is this what sort of sparked your interest in running?

A: Yes, plus where they were putting the waste

(Mary?): The road really came after the incinerator.

Q: The incinerator.

(Mary?): The incinerator is what got Ferne involved.

A: That’s what got me involved and I was sitting and listening to it and,…

Q: At that time, they were proposing to have an incinerator sort of at Cisco?

A: Yes.

Q: Because it was near the railroad, I think.

A: Nothing out there. I couldn’t say there wasn’t anything out there. I think the country was beautiful. I said, “Have you ever looked at the eagles and the antelopes?”

Q: And there are antelopes still there.

A: And turkeys and all these things. I said, “You can’t do that.” Merv and I…there was a 4-year term and a 2-year. I said, “I will take the two (year term).

Q: So were you acquainted with Merv (Lawton) before?

A: Oh yes. Because of the mining.   So anyhow, we both got in. They didn’t do anything before so we did something. But I did not like politics. I didn’t. 

Q: Well, it was supposed to be non-partisan, wasn’t it?

(Mary?): It was partisan.   It was Democrat and…

Q: Before she was — but when you started in, wasn’t that non-partisan?

(Mary?): It was partisan. We had a Democratic Convention and Merv Lawton ended up having to have a primary against Peter Haney. But Ferne didn’t. She was against Bill Hance. But she didn’t have to have a primary.

A: You said his name just a minute ago. The guy I ran against.

Q: So you were just filling a vacancy?

(Mary?): No, but she went in on the Democratic Primary. She won without having to have a primary and she ran against Dutch Zimmerman.

A: But, Merv had to run. Who did he run against?

(Mary?): Peter Haney. He had a primary and Merv won the primary and ran against you and Walker.

Q: Peter Haney eventually got on the Council.

(Mary?): Yes. He ran again when it was Sy Thurston. When it went to County Council.

Q: From Commissioners to County Council?

(Mary?): Commissioner to Council, is that what it was?   It went from County Commissioners to County Council.

Q: So did you feel you were making lots of decisions?

A: Well, I think I made …… I tried….. I hate to say this ….. I don’t know if I should even say it……turn that off and I will tell you what I want to say.

Q: I think that might be interesting whatever you want to say.

(Closed comments)

Q: I didn’t realize there was a controversy about where to build. I mean, they built. They already had the standard….. they needed to enlarge the court house.

(Mary?): But they weren’t going to enlarge it. They were going to rebuild it and they were going to build it over by the hospital.

Q: Oh.

(Mary?): But there was a financial /land/real estate deal which would have financially helped one of the County Council members significantly. 

Q: I was new in town. I didn’t realize that. I just remembered.

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