Oral Histories

Sam Taylor


Sam Taylor

Q: Did you sleep out on sleeping porches at night?

A: Uh huh, my favorite place to sleep was in our grape arbor. It was always cool in the grape arbor and I loved the sound of the crickets. I still love the sound of the crickets. It’s one insect that has a safe conduct pass on my mini-farm right now.

Q: What year did you go away to college?

A: 1951 

Q: You went to the service first? No, you went to college first. What was your intent when you went to college? Were you thinking of going into publishing?

A: No I was thinking of going into geology. I was a geology major and a music minor.

Q: Tell me about the school. Which one did you go to?

A: I went to the University of Utah with my first year on a fairly liberal academic scholarship. I had been an All-State football player in high school. So I got numerous bids for athletic scholarships from a number of colleges but not one from the University of Utah and that’s where I wanted to go to school. So I took the academic scholarship which was for full tuition and went for a year there. The fall and summer after my freshman year, toward the end of summer, my father had a massive stroke and wasn’t able to speak. He was hardly able to walk. He was in the hospital for quite a while, and so in August of that year, 1952, I chose not to go back to college. I took the newspaper over and ran it for 9 months until we could find someone to lease it to. Dad didn’t want to sell it. He just wanted to lease it. He always had the idea that he could come home. By that time, he’d been appointed to a state commission post, which was a full time commission job, so he and mother lived in Salt Lake for 6 years. When I dropped out, I lost my academic scholarship and so, thinking I had to have a scholarship of some sort to continue in college, I took an athletic scholarship at Westminster College. In other words, they hired me to play football. I found out that’s a terrible way to get an education. What had been a fun sport for me became not fun at college level. It was all business. It was kill or be killed. The traveling and the practice time was disastrous on my academics. The first semester at Westminster, I had a C average, second semester after football season had ended I got straight A average, 4.0. At that time I was deeply involved in studying geology, and Westminster had a great geology department. But I knew I had the military facing me. I came home that summer after a year in Westminster, took a job on a drill rig core drilling in a uranium field out near where the Rio Algom is now. We had good properties, but we weren’t drilling deep enough. We were only drilling 1,000-foot holes and Rio Algom strike was hit at about 2,000 feet down. So we drilled all that country out there. Of course, the town had exploded by then and the company that I went to work for, called Apex Exploration, had two rigs. The one I worked on the first two weeks on the job was run by an old Texas driller from the big oil rigs, and he hated the small rigs, but it was a good job and he liked living here. So he taught me a lot in two weeks. There was so much business that Apex bought 5 or 6 more rigs. But they didn’t have drillers for them so two weeks after I started as a driller’s helper, I had my own rig. But I’d got tired of working and waiting around. The Korean War was still going on. So one day when I was in town, (we used to work from 5 in the morning until 10 or 11 at night) we had to drill the full thousand feet; we couldn’t leave the pipe in the ground. I went to the secretary of the draft board here in town and I said that I’m tired of waiting and I know I’ve got this obligation ahead of me so put me at the top of the list. He said, “okay.” And I went back to work. One day while working on the rig not long after that, we had a part break and it needed to be welded and machined in a machine shop. At that time we had 3 or 4 marvelous machine shops here in town. I got in the pickup, threw that broken part in the back, drove to town, dropped the part off to be fixed, said I’d pick it up early the next morning or late afternoon. I hadn’t been in town long enough to go to the post office for a long time. So I went to the post office to get my mail, my accumulated mail, and one of the letters was from Dwight D Eisenhower. “Greetings. Your friends and neighbors have decided…” And I only had 4 days to report to Fort Douglas, Utah, for induction. So I took a quick 4-day scenic tour of Grand Canyon and Salt Lake and became a soldier for two years.

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