Sunday, December 7, 2008

Oral History Project

This is an interview Derek conducted for Comms 301: History and Philosophy of Journalism. It is with his Grandma, who is a wonderful women.

Fern J. King Oral History Project
Interview with Fern J. King
Date of Interview: November 16, 2008; Bountiful, Utah
Interviewer: Derek Stell
Transcriber: Derek Stell
Begin Tape 1, Side 1

Stell: What is your date of birth Grandma?
King: October the 5th 1926
Stell: So that makes you how old now?
King: Eighty two years old.
Stell: Where were you born?
King: Echo, Utah. Summit County.
Stell: What do you remember of the first time you heard radio, or of the first time you saw television?
King: (Laughter) The first time I heard radio was probably when we went down to the mill, my father owned a grist mill. He had built an electric light plant in the mill so that we would have DC current. It was not AC current like we have now, it was DC current. We had to go turn the wheel in the mill to let the water in to turn the wheel in the mill before we could have lights. We only had the radio on three or four hours a night.
Stell: What did you listen to?
King: Well, I can remember listening to music. I can remember listening to [LDS General] conference. We always had it on during conference times. And, let’s see. I remember that every once in a while we would turn it on in the day-time and I would listen to a soap opera. It was called Helen Trent. (laughter)
Stell: What was Helen Trent about?
King: It was just about life and things. It was a soap opera. (laughter)
Stell: What was the first big news event you remember hearing on the radio?
King: The first big news thing I remember hearing was probably, we came home from church, I can’t remember how old I was, I was probably a teenager, but it was when they bombed Pearl Harbor.
Stell: What do you remember about the broadcasts from that?
King: I remember that we turned it on, and it was late in the afternoon that we turned the lights on so that we could listen to the radio. They talked about the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor and that they had lost all the ships and planes and everything. I think I was probably about sixteen years old at that time.
Stell: What did you think, or what did you feel at that time?
King: Well, I was real sad about it, but I had never heard of Pearl Harbor. So, I didn’t know where it was. Because, Echo was a little railroad town and we lived a mile up the canyon. Echo Canyon goes from Echo to Evanston, Wyo. And that is where the pioneers came down when they came to settle Salt Lake City. They traveled down Echo Canyon.
Stell: Did it seem real to you?
King: Well, it seemed real because there wasn’t anything I could associate it with because I had never heard about bombing and things like that.
Stell: Is there another significant event you remember hearing on the radio?
King: Well probably the most significant thing I remember hearing on the radio was that the boys would be going to war. They were being drafted at that time. The boys in my junior and senior year at North Summit high in Coalville actually joined the Army because they weren’t going to graduate otherwise. So, they graduated them because they joined the Army and the Navy. And I actually joined the Army in 1944. It was six days after I had graduated from school. I went to Salt Lake and joined the Army and they were going to educate the three girls of us to be nurses in the Army. And I got upset because I had failed dumbbell English. You can put that in there I don’t care. The second quarter that I was there, I had to take swimming. I about drowned when I was eight or nine years old in the damn that my dad had built to run the grist mill. My sister had pushed the raft out to me and I got out and was OK. But, I remember when I got in the water I wanted to turn over on my head and I jumped back up and came back up. I’m afraid of water OK. The Lady that taught us swimming lessons, we had to have swimming lessons for the Army, she never got my head underneath the water. So, she failed me. So, I had met my husband to be and he had come to visit me. He was stationed in Pensacola, FL. He kept calling me and wanted me to come down and get married. I remember that I had saved money because I had worked at the Snagle’s supply depot in Clearfield filling boxcars. I drew fifty dollars out of the bank and was able to buy a ticket to Pensacola, Florida for fifty dollars on the train. That was 1945.
Stell: Do you remember, where things a lot different when you got to Florida?
King: Yes. In Utah you could get married at eighteen. In Florida, you couldn’t get married until you were 21. I had to call home and have my Dad telegraph consent for us to get married.
Stell: So he telegraphed the consent?
King: Mmm, hmm. Oh yeah. There was a railroad depot in Echo at the time that did telegraph. And I remember that they had stationed guards from the Army at the Echo reservoir and they were all black men and we had never really seen black people before.
Stell: Was that weird for you guys to see black people?
King: Well, I just knew they were black. A lot of the girls associated with them, but I didn’t.
Stell: Do you remember when television started getting big, what was your first television like?
King: My first television I saw was one in my father’s home. We had moved from Brigham City up to Echo because my husband had lost his job. He went to work for Devil’s Slide doing welding and he then he went to work for the Highway Patrol weighing trucks going up the canyon. We stayed there for nine years on the farm. My brother Glen Jones worked for KSL and he came out and built a TV antenna that took up the whole yard on posts and we could get the television. It had a lot of snow on it, but my father loved to watch the boxing matches. That was about all that we could get. My two little boys loved to go over and eat Grandma’s cookies and watch the TV with Grandpa.
Stell: Do you remember your first television, when you finally got a television?
King: We didn’t get a television till we moved to Bountiful in 1956. That was the first time we had a television in our home. It was an old one and my brother always had to come out and fix it because it had tubes in it. The tubes would blow out.
Stell: Do you remember what kind of things you watched back then?
King: I loved to watch the comedians and I think The Price is Right was there at that time, I can’t remember. But, we just watched what would be on in the evening. We always watched a movie if we could watch a movie on it.
Stell: Do you remember seeing any news stories or anything?
King: Yeah, the news stories came on when the Korean war started. We watched news stories about that. We always watched news and the weather forecasts. I don’t remember any specific thing. I always watched conferences.
Stell: Do you remember seeing any particular conferences?
King: I remember when Brother McKay, President McKay, was put in. We watched that program. I remember that when we were in Florida, President Heber J. Grant died. But we didn’t have a TV down there at all. In fact, we lived in the colored district in Florida. (laughter) It was interesting, we lived on the corner and a colored church was on the other corner. They were very interesting to hear and to watch.
Stell: What was so interesting about it?
King: Well, they would have a funeral and during the funeral everyone would get up and pray by the casket. They would scream and holler and carry-on. Oh, it was something. My husband was in the Navy and had to wear Wight uniforms and I would wash them and hang them on the clothes-line. Sometimes they would come over and cut the clothes line. This was the first time I had ever washed on a scrubbing board and cold water. (laughter) We lived on ninety dollars a month. That is all he got paid. Paid fifty dollars a month rent and we could go down to the Warf and they would give us free fish every once in a while. And if he stood guard at the Naval base in Pensacola, he would catch crabs and bring them home for supper which was very good. We lived on seafood. (laughter)
Stell: You said you watched conference a lot, have you seen a lot of changes in the church?
King: Yes, the changes I’ve seen in the church is they now broadcast more all the time. You can turn it to PBS [KUED] and watch the conference over again if you want to.


Megan said...

CUTE picture, I have never seen one of your wedding pics before I don't think, you guys are super cute! :)

Plain Jame said...

What a cute interview! She sounds like a hoot.