Oral Histories

John William (Jack) West


Jack West

In the meantime, the Standard Oil representative in Provo, Earl Moss, had kept after me and wanted me to switch over and go with Standard Oil. We were on real friendly terms, and I told him, “Earl, I’m not interested in changing stations. You’ve got nothing better than this but, if you ever get something better than the service station (which had to be a bulk plant), I’d be interested.” So in December of 1955, about the 14th of December, he came in and he said, “Well, I’ve got a bulk plant for you.” I said, “Where?” and he said, “Moab.” I was immediately interested and I said, “Well, of course, it sounds good to, me. When do you want me? Tomorrow?” I was just kidding but he says “Yes.” The guy that was running the bulk plant had just quit. That’s another long story. Ken McDougald had been sticking it into Standard Oil and had established himself a little bulk plant out in La Sal and that day he had decided he was through. He just put the money on the counter and threw the keys on the floor and left.

So I was down here the next day, the 16th of December. I was working for I. Sander, Inc. who had hired McDougald. He was just their employee; it was the San Juan Distributing Co. When I first came, I hadn’t even contacted the Sander Corporation. Earl just made all these decisions. So that next day I was there, and at the end of the week, I went home, back to Provo and asked Frank if he was interested in the station, if he could finance it. And, boy, he was, and he did. He was able to finance it. By the end of the month, end of December, I was out of the station in Provo, and Frank was in.

I came down and started running the bulk plant, just on a salary. I did that for two months, lived in the Prospector Motel. I had to rent a truck. Ken took all the other stuff. How he got away with that was between him and Sander. There was a couple of delivery trucks. But then Ray Andersen came and brought a truck over from the bulk plant in Richfield. The only way this Richfield agent would rent it to me was for Ray to be here to drive it, though not rent it to me at that time. He was renting it to I. Sander. So Ray came over and that was the deal. I started out with him and myself, and he brought one of his buddies that had been driving some truck, this Lavar Ford, but he only stayed a couple of weeks. We didn’t need him. We thought we’d have enough business to keep us both going. We stayed at the motel, at the Prospector, for a couple of months, but immediately, upon getting here and knowing it was going to work out, I started looking for a home. I came up into this Walker Subdivision and they had just poured the footings for this house, the house we are living in now. A year before, they had built the south end of the subdivision; it stopped with the house just south of us and then one to compare with it across the street. I told them this is the one we wanted. Some people from Salt Lake, Butcher Brothers Construction, were building them. It was a matter of going through the details of financing and all that. But it had to be a house with a carport, facing either west or south. He says, “Boy, you are sure fussy.” I said, “Well….and no basement.” Mother was tired of basements, going down and doing her washing. They immediately went right to working on it and others. But they started on this end because of the finished project south of us. By the first of March, they had it finished, so that’s what happened. Helen had stayed in our home in Provo and the people were really getting anxious to get in it that had bought it, made the deal with us, but they were agreeable to let her stay in there.

On the first of March, we rented a van and one of Ann’s boyfriends drove that down. We moved into the house on the 1st of March and, of course, have been here ever since. It’s really a well-built home, and we have really enjoyed it.

As a result of having stayed in the Prospector Motel, when I went up to get them and come back we knew we would have to stay in a motel a couple of nights before we could get into the house and settled and everything. It was still cold weather, March, but the furnace was in and everything going. The lady, Jane Lincoln, was entertaining salesmen. All the commercial people stayed at the Prospector Motel and all the movie people, and there had been a lot of movies made and there were a lot of movies made after we got here. But I had never been in on any of their evening socials but every night they’d have a party out in front, I found out later, out in the front of the motel in the office. When we got there, I was a little skeptical about how she would be because she hadn’t been friendly with me to any extent. We had our two canaries and Helen had her plants but, when Jane met Helen, within an hour she was over helping Mother get settled in that room and worried about how she was doing overnight and all. They really hit it off , in fact, Jane had never made any real friends in Moab up to that time. She was kind of an uppity gal, I don’t know why. She came from Milford but worked at Dugway, where she met her husband, Bud. But Helen and Jane got along real good. That was the beginning of a friendship and we were down there so much in the evenings and down to dinner and down to the parties and especially met the movie people, they all stayed there. We met all the main starts and John Ford, the director. So on our move into Moab, we were really off to a good start socially.

Read the other Oral Histories