Oral Histories

John William (Jack) West

b.1916

Jack West

Q: What did you do with your money?

Oh hell, all that amounted to just about enough to keep me in clothes and some gas for the car. Yeah, there was never any surplus. To take Ma out, after I met her … but that’s about when I met her.

Well, I met her in ’33. But that’s a different story. But, yeah, we had money. Gas, food and clothes, and yeah, we would go to shows. Well, for a buck and a half you could go down to see a show and get a half order of chow mein (that was 35 cents apiece); that was 70 cents. Well, it would take about two bucks to have a full evening. See a movie and have a half order of chow mein at the Chinese restaurant and make it back and have enough for your gas to go home. But I am getting way ahead of this story. After I met Mother and started going with her, that’s another (story). But it didn’t take much dough to get along. I really enjoyed it.

Well, I guess maybe I can tell you a little about my social life. When I was in high school, well, all the way through school, I never attended a dance or a sports deal or anything. Of course, I graduated when I was sixteen. All the rest were a couple of years older, but I was scared of girls. I had some girlfriends, girls that were really friendly in high school because I helped them with their math. I got along good with them. And then, in 1933, after I had been out of school a year, I was running around with Howard McFarland, a neighbor, and he was going with Mary Olson who was Helen’s main girlfriend. They were neighbors over on Eighth Street. The car was available to me then because Dad had got a better job. He was an operator at the Power Plant. And we lived lived not too far away, so, if in the evening, if he was on evening shift, he would walk up, or even in the daytime. He didn’t worry about the car. In the meantime, working at the service station, I was completely maintaining the car, putting all the gas in and everything. So they didn’t mind me using it. Of course, whenever they wanted it, they took it. But I had it available.

But this particular evening, Howard and I went out. He had made a date with Mary who was at a party at the school. It was a drama party. It was the end of the school year, the fifth of May, and they were having this little party for one of the affairs the school had put on. Helen and Mary were both there. And so I went with him about when we figured the end of the party, around 9:30 I guess. I don’t know. He decided he would take Mary home. He had talked me into the idea of asking Helen if she would go with me. And of course I had never met her, hadn’t seen her. So we got to the party at the tail end. We were just in the hallway waiting for the girls and Helen came out with Mary. Howard and Mary were going to go and I was going to take them home. But I got up nerve enough to ask Helen if she would with me. Well, it developed that some other guy in the neighborhood, over towards her place, had already asked her but he was going to walk her home. So we used the pressure of the idea that I had a car; it would be better if she would go in the car. Of course, I don’t think that made too much difference with her but the fact that, if she went with me, she would be going with Mary and they’d stay together and they’d have an evening together. In any event, she finally told the other guy that she wouldn’t go with him and she decided to go with me. She had on a blue dress that Grandma Berglund had made. God, boy, talk about beautiful. The dress was beautiful; Helen was beautiful. Oh, really something! I thought, “Well, this is too good for me, but I’ll go along. I’ll take her home.”

So we got the car and took off and just bummed around town for awhile around Ogden. That was that old ‘27 Chev. But, see, it was only six years old then. So it was still a pretty good old car. But we went and ate, had a hamburger or something.

In fact, in those days, hamburgers got down to 5 cents apiece. It was a small hamburger but you could get a hamburger for a nickel, five for a quarter. But I don’t remember too much of that detail.

But, in any event, during the evening Howard made an appointment or a date with Mary for a day or two later, and I asked Helen if she would go. She says yes. So from then on, it was movies or just for a ride. But, anyway, she was so good to me and, boy, I really fell head over heels because she was so gorgeous and good. So I didn’t give her much chance to go with anybody else. I just kept her dated up. And that was, let’s see, the 5th of May, 1933. But we really hit it off real good, and I hit it off good with Grandma Berglund. And, as I mentioned, I had the car available.

Right about that period was when I took the service station over the first time. So I was doing pretty good, made three or four dollars a day. That was all you needed. I mentioned that I had borrowed the money from Grandpa to get in there. And we had a real good time. And, in ‘33 when I met her, she was just finishing junior high. So, in ‘34 and ’35, she went to high school and even then we didn’t go to any of the high school occasions particularly. We went to some of the ward dances and stuff. I finally learned how to get along at a dance. And then, we just had a swell time; that was all. It was cheap, we didn’t spend much money.

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