Oral Histories

John William (Jack) West


Jack West

Q: To make sure you were staying alert?

Yeah, I’ll tell you they sure were, but that went on for a lot of years. Boy, that was hot work. And then in the stack yard we had a big derrick with a big extension arm and what they call a Jackson fork, which was a great big three-pronged fork that would go down into the hay rack and then we would use old Ted (one of the big horses) to pull that back up. It was a pulley system to put that up on top of the stacks. I was the one that rode Ted. We had to pull it up and then you would have to back up every time, up and back. Boy, we done that thousands of times. And we had a trip rope on the big fork. The guy on the hay rack would pull that when Dad would get it positioned where he wanted. He would get in around to where he wanted it on the stack, and Uncle Gene would pull the trip rope and the hay would fall. We would go through that again and again. That was a lot of work, but it worked out real good. That old Ted he really worked well, every time forward, he had to back up. Dependable old plug.

I was thinking about how I started and when I started driving a car. As I’d said before, Dad had to work seven days a week and patrol the pipe every day. He would go up Ogden Canyon about eight miles. And then the canyon patrol was divided into three parts: from the Pineview Dam down to about two or three miles and then Dad’s section was the middle one, from the end of there down to Perry’s Camp in Ogden Canyon, and then another guy would go from there down to where it joined onto the steel pipe above the Power Plant. But on Sundays I would go up with Dad. That is after we got a car, a ‘27 Chev.

Why I would go up with Dad I don’t know. Just how I started driving. But we’d go to the head of his patrol up Ogden Canyon, and then I would take the car and drive it down to the Hermitage. And he would come to the Hermitage and pick it up and come to Perry’s and pick me up. Or we would reverse that. I would go the first section. But, in any event, by the time I was twelve years old I was driving the car.

Q: So then you were sharing patrolling the pipeline?

Yeah, that’s how I started, really, why I started driving the car. It just saved a lot of time on Sunday because, otherwise, he would have to…. I don’t know how, he used to walk clear from where we lived down in the mouth of Ogden Canyon up to his beat and then back down. It would just take him all day long, that was all. He walked about 15, 16 miles a day just to do that.

Q: But, now you were…?

We were driving up in the beginning and we were splitting the walk up. And, heck, in four or five hours we’d be home probably four hours. It made all the difference in the world.

Q: So when did you do this? During the day, weekends or?

Oh, just on Sundays, because on his six-day week he’d have to spend the full eight hours up there on patrol or meet a particular spot. The bosses had cars. Where there was a leak, the three guys that were on patrol would go there and just work on perpetual leaks. There was always some leaks in that wooden pipeline. So on Sunday we did this and that’s the reason I started driving the car. But, yeah, when I was twelve years old I was driving the car. And then, of course, not any more than just on the job there for a long time. Didn’t have any occasion to but, let’s see, by the time I was fifteen I was driving it around town with some of the guys. Didn’t have a gal friend at that point by any means. And no licenses. Nobody worried about driver licenses. I don’t remember when I had to finally get a driver’s license.

Q: Were there other kids your age driving?

Oh yeah. Young kids, if their parents would let them take the cars (also drove). That was the problem. There were very few two-car families. It was very seldom that a kid had a chance to drive a car.

Q: So you had two cars?

Oh no, when I was driving, he couldn’t use it to go to work. He had to use it every day to go work after he got it to drive up the canyon.

Dad was a great outdoorsman. Boy, he loved the outdoors too. I got a single barrel, twenty-gauge shotgun from the farm that Uncle Gene had and he had never used it. We couldn’t afford shells for it anyway. I took that to Ogden with me and then we would go hunting up around Brigham (duck hunting). We used to buy the black powder shells for 50 cents a box, I remember. Twenty-five shells for 50 cents. They were black powder, and, God, I’d pull the trigger and you’d have to step off to the side to see if what you aimed at, you hit …a big puff of black powder out the end of the gun. But anyway, I did a lot of duck hunting with Dad like that and Cousin Priday Jones would go along. But sometimes we stayed overnight; took a tent and camped up there. He always took me to that. And then once in a while pheasant hunting around the Ogden or Brigham area. But we did a lot of duck hunting; never did go deer hunting with him. And some fishing. We would go on the streams and do some fishing around the area around Ogden.

That brings up another farm incident. I remember when I was, oh, I don’t know… five or six years old, I was down fishing in the river below the house below the barn. Used a willow pole, a string and a hook. I had caught about half a dozen catfish and a guy came along, an adult that had been fishing and he hadn’t had any luck. He offered me 25 cents for those fish. Of course, I took it. That was the first money I guess I earned in my life. That was a big deal. Because I didn’t have any trouble catching fish down there. Heck, we ate catfish quite often. I would go down, dig some garden worms, had good luck with that.

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