Oral Histories

Sam Taylor

b.1933

Sam Taylor

Q: Just looking at the boom years, and actually when you think about it, it’s like a double bump on the boom years, what would you say were the best things and the worst things about living here, just looking at those time periods, as far as you, your family, your business?

A: I can’t think of any negatives. That’s right. It was an exciting place to live. During that nine months when I ran the paper for Dad before he had is stroke, I was sitting in my office one Saturday morning visiting with an old school friend. This old beat-up jeep pulled up to the front door and a guy in khakis and wild-eyed came in with a sheaf of papers, stack of photographs. He said, “Are your Sam Taylor?” I said, “Yes.” He said, “I’m Charlie Steen, and I just discovered pitchblende.” And I read the story and I looked at his pictures. He said, “It’s going to be the greatest thing in the world.”

Q: So you were here with his first discovery?

A: Yes. I said, “Well, I appreciate getting this. I’ll run something, I think.” He said, “Whatever you can to help with the publicity, I’ll appreciate it.” So he left and my friend looked at me and said, “Boy, what a wacko.” I said, “ Aw common now, I’ve seen things happen in this town that if someone came in here and told me that 4 feet under Main Street there was a foot thick seam of pure gold, I might think he was crazy, but I wouldn’t tell him he was.” I said, “What do you know, in a year from now, we might be celebrating Charlie Steen days.” Fortunately, I ran a little front-page story that the headlines said, I remember to this day, “Geologist reports pitchblende find.” Because I ran that story, Charlie and I became fast friends and remain so today. I mean, he has Alzheimer’s now and probably wouldn’t know me if he saw me. Great friend. He even threw a party when I came home from the Army. Up at his big house on the hill “Welcome Home, Sam.”

Q: Did you go to a lot of his parties?

A: I did.

Q: And you reported dutifully about the social events of the area?

A: Yep.

Q: And there was a club, Newcomers Club? What was that about?

A: Newcomers Club, uh huh. When a family moved to town, soon as they got settled, members of the Newcomers Club would visit them, welcome them here and give them give certificates from retail businesses all over town. Give them a list of the civic clubs, churches and things like that. Just trying to make them feel welcome. I often kid our little sister city, Wellington, because of its constant appearance. Wellington’s got a Newcomers Club, and whenever a new family moves to town, the Newcomers club gives them a junk car to put in the yard.

Q: Lets go back to a little bit more on you personally. You moved back, you got the house, and your children were all living with you at the 5th West place?

A: Yes

Q: All born here? And went to local schools?

A: All born here. All delivered by the same doctor.

Q: When did you first get into the legislature?

A: 1963. Two years after I was married, I was 29 years old; I was the youngest State Senator that had ever served. And believe me, I suffered by my youthfulness.

Q: How long did you serve for? How many terms?

A: Two terms. I decided not to run for a third term because by that time my kid, my oldest son was seven and I had enough seniority in the Senate that I was on every damn interim committee that there was. I found myself in Salt Lake almost every weekend. And one August, my last year in office, I realized here it is the middle of August, my oldest son is seven, my daughter is four, my next son is almost three, and I haven’t got a fishing license yet this year. I announced to my fellow Republicans up there that I was not going to seek a third term. By that time, I was fairly entrenched, I could have probably been re-elected even though through reapportionment my district had been expanded to all of the Uinta Basin, Vernal and Duchesne and all that up there.

Q: Kind of like it is now?

A: Yes, it’s worse now. I announced that I wasn’t going to seek a third term and the vice chairman of the Republican Party came to me and said, “ If you ever have any idea that you would like to get back into politics, this may have just killed it.” I said, “I guess that’s just the chance I’m going to have to take. I’m not going to miss my kids growing-up years.” So when I’d been out of the Senate for 3 or 4 years, change of administration,

Cal Rampton had been elected for the last two years I’d served and we worked very closely together on implementing a number of recommendations of the Little Hoover Commission on streamlining state government. So that year I sponsored five bills that contained over 300 pages of legislations reorganizing state government into departments and divisions. All with direct responsibility to the governor. Bi-partisan commissions. But Cal and I became quite close. Getting that commission report enacted into law, he had to work through the Republican Caucus. Republicans had loaded the legislature by that time. He couldn’t get anything passed. He couldn’t pass that Republican Caucus. So there were a lot of compromises made in that legislation, and when I defended it on the floor, before it passed, I knew it was going to pass, because I had a Caucus promise that it would pass. They said, “This is not workable, it will never stand the test of time.” My answer was, “I know it’s cumbersome and bulky, but it can pass both houses of the legislature. If we pass it now and find out that in two years it has to be amended, then amend it. I won’t be here. Amend it to make it more workable.” I said, “You’ve got to crawl before you walk, and you have to walk before you run. So let’s pass this now and if it has to be reworked in two years, then rework it.” And so that’s what happened. It went through about 4 years of amendments and I think became a very competent form of state government.

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