Oral Histories

Frank “Pancho” Tabberer


Pancho & Elsie Tabberer

Q: Sounds like an exciting time?

A: Oh, it was crazy.

Q: Did you know Charlie Steen?

A: Yes, I did.

Q: How did he impress you?

A: Charlie was a customer; we didn’t deal much with Charlie Steen personally. He and Bud Walter, the first guy I worked for, they were good friends. They did a lot of things together and therefore, Elsie and I got to know Charlie through that. Charlie as far as Elsie and I were concerned, he treated us really good because we were here servicing his company and we’d get invited to his house when Bud Walter came to town from Farmington and Elsie and I would get invited. We felt like we were..

Q: H sounded like a flamboyant person.

A: Charlie was very good to his employees. That’s the way he came across to me.

When we came back in 68, we have been here ever since.

Q: Did you know Dan O’Laurie?

A: Yes, I did.

Q: Had he broken up with Steen?

A: Yes, he was on his own. And Allan Darby, I knew Allan. Played golf with Allan Darby and Allan was his sort of executive secretary. That’s the way I got to meet Dan O’Laurie. Dan was a fine gentleman.

Q: That’s what everybody says “A fine gentleman”

A: Oh yes, very much so.

Q: Just the opposite from Charlie?

A: Easy going guy, Everybody was okay as far as Dan was concerned. Just an all around gentleman.

Q: So how did Elsie fit in to this boomtown business?

A: She was our bookkeeper. She kept books for the Burt Company. Go back to the business college. She and I both had, not a four year, but coming out of business college in one year to be a bookkeeper. And when we bought the company, that’s the best thing we had, because we both knew how to keep books and we knew how to take care of a business and what it took.

Q: So essentially you were a businessman. You drove trucks, too.

A: Oh yes, I drove semi-trucks, all the trucks, did everything.

Q: So you were involved in both the oil business and the uranium business?

A: And copper, and potash,

Q: Did you help develop the potash?

A: Not as develop, but later on, as they used explosives to mine with. And before they flooded.

Q: Before the solution mining?

A: There were times when they would have some problems, we were selling Hercules Explosives to TGS. They’d get in a problem underground with blasting or breaking rock or having to start a new drift or something.

Q: So did you get into the engineering and the chemistry as far as the blasting?

A: Later on. The more I learned the more I got into the fact that you would go in and tell them the types of explosives that would do the best job. How to drill the holes, set up a pattern to break the rock the best. So it was sort of a technical service type thing for underground at Potash underground, at uranium mines. I spent a lot of time underground.

Q: So you did spend time underground?

A: Go underground with a customer not every day, but like Atlas Minerals would have trouble in the mine that they weren’t breaking the rock or they were having some problems with the holes drilled.

Q: And you could set them right?

A: And help them to set things up.

Q: So did you sell the company?

A: I had a partner when we first started, Bob Arnold, and I bought the company from Burt, we both worked for Burt. And Bob and I ran the company together until he was in the Salt Lake magazine and we had the home office here. Bob had cancer of the lungs in 1987 and he died in 1988. We had a buy-sell agreement at the time, When Bob passed away, Elsie and I ended up buying his heirs out of the company. So Elsie and I ended up with it.

Q: Do you still have it?

A: No. We sold our company in the 90s. to at the time it was IRECO INC who was a subsidiary of Dyno-Nobel. The Alfred Nobel’s old company of Oslo Norway.

Q: With the TNT?

A: And that’s who still owns and runs our company.

Q: I used to see a sign out by the end of Angel Rock Road that said “Burt Explosives”

A: That was our location for all. We owned 10 acres of land. We had our shop, storage area. But our dynamite storage area was farther down the valley. At about the county line, and it’s still there and it has been since we moved into that location when the city moved out and encroached on our storage area on Angel Rock Road and we had to move and that was in 1974 when we moved out to the county line.

Q: Sort of near the gravel pit?

A: Back this way from the gravel pit on the south side of the valaley.

Q: So then you took up golf?

A: I’ve golfed forever, well, not forever. I started golf when I was about 20 years old, in Canada when I worked up there. So I’ve been golfing forever, seems like forever.

Q: Did Elsie become a citizen of the US?

A: We didn’t really feel like there was any reason for her to become a citizen until they passed a regulation or we found out that there was a law that would not. We set up a family trust for estate purposes. And we found out that she could not be a trustee of that trust unless she was an American citizen. The lawyer said that the best thing to do would be for her to become a citizen. So she took the test and I don’t remember what year, but it was in the 90s when she became a American citizen. We had a big celebration in Salt Lake. I still get kind of choked up when I think about her becoming a citizen. It’s a great time.

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