Oral Histories

Sam Taylor

b.1933

Sam Taylor

I’d stopped in Salt Lake before coming to Moab and visited with our primary supplier of paper and printing products and really got acquainted with the manager of Western Paper Company who became a life-long friend. Before I left his office, he said, “We have a little problem at the Times. You owe us ten thousand dollars.” I said, “Have they paid anything on it?” He said, “We haven’t received a check since the lease was broken.” I said, “ Well, I’ll look into it when I get to Moab. I’ll guarantee you one thing; I’ll send you some money every week. It may not be more than fifty dollars and it may be five hundred, but I’ll work this thing out.” He said, “Okay, we’ll shake on it.” And I did; it took me several years to do it, but we got it down. He never did deny me a purchase. At any rate, that first payroll was paid with my mustering-out pay from the army.

Q: The lease people left before you got here, or when you arrived?

A: No, they left 3 months before I got here. And Dad had just let the staff run it.

Q: How big was the staff?

A: There must have been 7 or 8 people working here. The man in charge was also an alcoholic. I made the first payroll. Of course, the uranium boom was still going on, this was 1956. Still going full bloom. I started laying off people. It didn’t take too long to get things balanced. I was very, very careful about adding staff.

Q: There was probably a real demand for the paper.

A: Yes, there was. That 9 months that I ran it, after Dad had his stroke, and before we leased it, I didn’t have access to the bank account, I didn’t know how to keep books. I had a brother-in law in Santa Fe, who was a CPA, who came up and helped to set up a rudimentary bookkeeping system. We had no cash flow. We didn’t even send out bills. We had an automatic press that I’ve still got. We printed mining location notices that we sold for fifteen cents apiece. I would print 20 or 30 thousand of those damn things every week. That’s what I lived on, plus a Saturday night dancehall band playing job that I had. But it was an interesting 3 years.

The second or third day I was in town, I went around the corner with the editor to Riley Drug Store, which is now the T-Shirt Shop (50 So. Main), for morning coffee. There was a pert little high school girl behind the corner serving as a soda jerk. I took one look at her and said, “Boy, there’s someone I’d like to know better.” Four years later, she became my wife. One of my kids asked me when he was little, “When you get big enough, Dad, how do you find a wife?” I said, “Well, I just went to the Drug Store and got mine.”

Q: Now, Adrien wasn’t from here, her family had moved in?

A: They’d moved in.

Q: While you’d been gone?

A: Uh huh, and she started school here when she was a junior in high school and graduated here. And here I was a 23-year-old returned veteran going out with a 17-year-old high school girl. It was kind of frowned on, particularly by her parents. It’s been a good relationship. Three years after I came back, I had the paper in pretty stable condition and my old high school principal had left the school district after a falling out with the administration. And he was kind of at loose ends, a very bright guy. I said to Bob Sundwall “You’re not doing anything. If I could figure out a way to finish my degree work in one academic year would you sit in and run the paper for me? Just get the paper out; I’ll come home on weekends and do the bookwork and make the payrolls.” He said, “Yeah, I’d like to do that.” So I went up to the University of Utah and talked with the dean of the College of Journalism who had become a very good friend my first year there. He allowed me to get 14 credit hours by taking the final examination and passing it in basic journalism classes.

Q: So, now you switched your major?

A: Switched my major because I found out in the three years time that I loved this job and I loved this town. That was 47 years ago. By getting the 14 credit hours and taking 22 hours a quarter for 3 quarters, which is kind of load, I could get the minimum requirements for a degree. So I did it. And during that 3 quarters, that 9 months, I made 29 round trips to Moab in 31 weeks. And in a way it was a blessing because we had two trains a day out of Thompson, morning and evening, and I bought an old car and I left it out at the depot at Thompson. I commuted back and forth on the train. Of course, most of the journalism work and a lot of the political science work and so forth required a lot of reading. I got a lot of that reading done on those train trips. But I was a nervous wreck at the end of the 9 months. I got my degree, but it wasn’t the journalism stuff that got me, I found out when I got close to graduation that I’d missed some basic undergraduate school things. So I had to take genetics. God, what a terrible class that was, I had to take physics. I’d sit in those physics labs and watch them do experiments and talk and write things on the chalkboard and I didn’t have the vaguest idea what they were talking about. Luckily, I got Cs in both those classes.

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