Oral Histories

Ferne J. Mullen

b. 1919

Ferne Mullen

A: Well, anyhow

Q: When they enlarged it, the court house, they took away those nice brass doors wherever they went.

A: The thing is that this Councilman suggested an orchard down there that was owned by the LDS. And he and he had a man, a Bishop in the audience, from Provo. So as soon as he said that, he got up and ran out. And then called the Bishop up there so they could really get to work on it. So, anyhow, I said, “Listen, I think we will have to make bids. We don’t need that much land.” He said we could rent it or sell it. I said I didn’t know we were in the business of real estate. So, I said, “I think we should look at some other land too.” I said, “We could probably do something like this. We should have meetings and go by the book.” So anyhow, he was really mad at me. And, we started looking for land and I said, “We have land here. Let’s build it here.” Some other people came up and told me we would have to …. they just built a courthouse ….. .__________. I said, “If we have to build a court house someplace else, we have to get the prisoners from here to court and that is always a danger,” and so on and so forth. Anyhow. I won.

Q: You won?

A: I won. They did not move it.

Q: Well, I’m glad it stayed there .

(Mary?): She made them follow the procedure and the policies and do the bidding and put it out there instead of, you know, serving vested interests.

Q: Well, you say you didn’t want to run again.

A: Why I didn’t run again? I didn’t like the politics. I didn’t like the meetings we went to, I didn’t like the reading if it was constant. I didn’t read a book during the time I had it. I had always, every night, read to the kids when we were living on Hillside. Every night there were stacks of things to read.

Q: So, being a councilperson isn’t easy?

A: No, it isn’t . If you do it right.

(Mary?): If you do it right. There were only 3.

Q: Oh, that’s right. So then, they changed it to seven.

A: We suggested having 5.   An uneven number and, for some reason, I was out of it by then , they put in 6.

(Mary?): Or seven.

A: But, I hated the meetings you had to go to. I wouldn’t know anybody. And trying to make small talk is not my forté.

Q: So you didn’t have any time to yourself, it sounds like.

A: Oh, I did have time to myself but I just didn’t like the politics.   I was called lots of different names by lots of different people

(Mary?): It was a very intense transition period — when Moab was really economically struggling.

Q: Oh, that’s about the time the bust happened.

(Mary): It was right before the Fat Tire. It was right during that period of time before Fat Tires and the bicycling came and so people were really trying to find ways to make money, I mean, so the incinerator was a way to make money, building the road from Vernal was a way to make money. Everything. Selling this land was a way to make money. So it was constantly keeping those checks and balances to and when you start to interfere with people’s pocket books, they start to get mad. She had mean phone calls, I would…

A: I remember that.

(Mary?): I answered them and I could tell and I would say, “Who’s calling?”, and if they refused to tell me what their name was, I said, “Well you need to identify yourself. We don’t need to talk to strangers.”

Q: So that would be hard to put up with?

A: I could put up with it. Just lots of abuse. I figured that they didn’t abuse Mervin like they did me. I was their pet. And, one time, when we were trying to get people to clean up their yards….

Q: It sounds as though they were going to take advantage of you, but Merv they would have to….

A: And they would say that they would, and this one man said, “It’s still my land and I will put anything else on it I want.”

Q: They are still saying that.

A: And he said, “All I have on there is my mining equipment and I don’t think you would know a mining car from anything else.” I said, “Just a minute, sir. I was born, I was married to a mining engineer and he would take me into the mines. And I was in the mines when I was a nurse for a mine.”

Q: You knew lots of mines.

A: It was like that all of the time.   Just harassment.

Q: I think it would be hard to be an elected official.

(Mary?): I think it depends on the years. What’s going on economically. What years were you in office? ‘82?

A: No, it was later. ‘87, I believe.

(Mary?): Paul and John were born.

A: ’86.

(Mary?): 88, 89?

Q: Must have been, because I moved over here the fall of ’86. Sort of here but not into…

A: After my husband died, I thought about leaving Moab. But I just fell in love with it. Because we had so many trees where I was and I loved the trees. That’s another thing I was called, a tree hugger. “Yes,” I said. “Every time I see one, I want to hug it.”

Q: But you do like Moab?

A: I do. I learned to love it.

Q: It isn’t just that your daughters are here?

A: No, because they weren’t here for a long time. I was here by myself.

Q: So, what do you like most about Moab and how has it changed.

A: I like it because when I go to town I never lock the cars to my door, maybe I should, but if I have anything I want put in, I put it in the trunk. I trust the people here. I like the climate. Sometimes, I don’t like the wind but then I chose that place to live so I guess I will be out in the valley where the wind blows. 

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