Oral Histories

John William (Jack) West


Jack West

The deliveries came in from Salt Lake refinery, the bulk products, gasoline and diesel, and they came in by transport and trailer, usually 8-10,000 gallons to a load. The main driver I had was Lyle Davis who lived in Price and he would haul from the Salt Lake refinery to here. Then he would go into New Mexico and pick up crude oil and haul back to Salt Lake. He was a real nice guy. He would come in and, even in this cold weather we were talking about, he would usually come in during the night. I let him have a key and he would measure the tanks, take the temperature, unload his truck, measure the tank again and then take the finishing temperature so we could figure it out right to the gallon. All the temperatures were adjusted to 60 degrees. Then he would leave a note of what I would need on the next trip. He really took care of me. The package goods came from a refinery in California, the barrels and the case goods. They would come in at the time by Garrett’s. They were the main ones, and they would bring it in. A big load 40-50,000 pounds at a time and that was a major operation, unloading that and that just made it a lot of work periodically at the bulk plant.


Well, after Dad died, Ray came to live with us in Provo while he went to high school, then into the service, then he came back and did his pre-dental work at BYU. We were really close together and really had a good time, fished and hunted together and everything. Then he went to Northwestern in Chicago for four years and, of course, we lost contact then. But, when he graduated from Northwestern, he wanted to come back west. Through connections of the school and graduation, he was guided to an old dentist in Bozeman, Montana, that wanted to retire. I don’t know whether there were others, but that’s the one that he finally settled on. He went to Bozeman and within a few months after Ray got there and went into the office, he took it over and the old guy quit. That was in ‘55, because we came here in spring of ’56. He had been in the office and by the fall or the late summer of ‘56 when we moved here, we decided to go to Bozeman and see them, Ray and Louise. So we went up there and visited with them. Jim went along. He was doing pretty well, but he just wasn’t happy with it. It was an old office and he had some old equipment. That made a couple of summers he’d been there from the time he first came. Then this particular summer, ‘56 and the longest season without a frost, he couldn’t even grow a garden. So when we were there that fall, I told him I knew that there was an old dentist here (in Moab) that wanted to quit. I really didn’t have any idea that Ray would be interested but, in the spring of ’57, they came down to visit us in Moab and he went to see this old Doc Williams, the dentist. By the fall of ‘57 they moved from Bozeman to Moab, and he just bought Doc Williams out. Of course, he literally didn’t buy much because the Doc’s stuff was all old. Ray, being left-handed, had to have all new equipment and he got an office on First North, an office building that he stayed in until he died. But that’s just how they arrived in Moab. just that quick. They decided they weren’t gonna stay back up in that cold country any longer. And after he came, I had got involved in some of the local community activities, and he was really interested, Chamber of Commerce, things like that. About that time the Rotary Club had come into the area and wanted to establish a Rotary Club in Moab. Les Erbs had just arrived about then; he turned out to be an old timer in Moab, but he was a radio newsman. He and I had been in Rotary, so we worked with the people that came out of Price to organize this Rotary Club. Ray was interested, Ralph Miller, Jr., oh, there was probably a dozen of us: Butch Christensen, Bob Norman. But anyway, Ray was really interested in that and we all got together and within a very short time had a Rotary Club going here. Les Erbs was the first president the first year, Ray was the president the second year, and I was president the third year. So we really worked and got things going good. It has turned out to be a fabulous club, very active and they have done a real good job. But that was really fun and I was interested in that.

When we first came down, of course, our main business was the bulk plant. By 1957, which was the year following us coming to Moab, Standard Oil Company of California (as it was known at that time) had built a service station here (company-operated service station) where the company completely controlled it, the employees and the hours. In fact, they were open 24 hours a day. It was just one of a string; they had them all over the western United States, these company operated stations. Of course, a lot of young guys came and went, some of them worked for me part-time. By 1960 or ‘61, the company realized that, due to union problems and help problems (kids) keeping the proper type of help to put on the type of service they wanted, the salaries they were demanding by then, that this was no longer a practical thing. They just couldn’t keep all these outlying stations going. So they concentrated on keeping a few in the big cities and, as I mentioned earlier, my business had dropped off because of the electrification and cutback into the diesel demand. The companies were delivering in big transports; they were putting in big storage. So they decided to close this station as a company-operated station. As a matter of just good economics for me and for them, they decided to let me take the station over in addition to the bulk plant. That would have been in about ’61, roughly. So that’s how we ended up there and the bulk plant too.

Read the other Oral Histories