HEBER MORTON "MORT" MURDOCK AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Contributor: Hilljr Created: 2 years ago Updated: 2 years ago
TO MY GRANDCHILDREN: REMINISCENCES OF MY LIFE BY MORT MURDOCK AS TOLD TO HIS NEPHEW STEVEN JOHN MURDOCK
I was born in Kaysville, Utah on April 23, 1910. I was the eldest son of Heber Murdock and Effie Morton Murdock. We lived in Heber City. I lived my first years there. I had a happy childhood. I was well treated and my folks took the best of care of me. I grew up in that beautiful valley in Wasatch County, my playground was the whole county. I could go anywhere I wanted, I could ride, go and come almost as much as I pleased. I had farm work to do and I feel sorry for the kids now that have no chores or work to do. We had a good life we weren't rich but we had all we could east and the clothes we needed to ward, we were treated well.
I remember when I was young, before I could even walk, my dad used to always take me on the horse and I got so I really loved horses and every time he'd saddle up I was out there to go with him and I've taken some of the doggondest rides you ever took in your life. After I graduated from the front to the back of his saddle, boy, let me tell you, then I had to hand on for dear life. We had cattle and horses and everything else and I was supposed to stay on and sometimes my dad caught me right bu the seat of my pants before I hit the ground.
When I was 10 years old my father herded cattle up in Strawberry Valley and he took me out there one summer and that was a summer that I'll never forget. We stayed in a tent all summer and we had to pack salt and watch out for the cattle and see if any of them had been injured in any way or if any of them were sick. We had to ride around the cattle and make sure they were alright and move them from one feed ground to another. That was a memorable. summer. That Strawberry Valley was beautiful at that time, the feed almost up to your stirrups. You could see wild animals, deer, almost anything. In the Strawberry River was great big trout and sage hens by the millions. It was a beautiful summer.
One incident that was funny - we were going to change horses, we had about 6 horses out in this open area and we were rounding them up and my father took off after them as fast as he could go and I was on my horse and his horse fell and he didn't get up and I thought "oh, boy here I am, maybe he's dead." And I went over and there he was crawling around and I said "are you hurt?" and he said "No, I've lost my teeth." When he fell his false teeth fell out of his mouth. So he found them and washed them off in the creek there and we got on our horses and away we went. We got the horses and we changed them and went on with the business.
My father helped me find plenty of summer work when I was young. One time he decided that I should have a job unloading coal at the cannery, slag coal. The coal car was in between two buildings, it was hot, he showed me the shovel and said "There you go, unload that car and hurry all you can because if you don't we will have to pay the merge on the car." So I worked.
The next job at the cannery I was to help carry sugar up two flights of stairs. There was 100 pounds in each bag. I wasn't very old. I worked at the cannery for a couple of summers. When I was 15 years old, my father decided that it would be a good thing to work some place else, so he got me a job helping a fellow by the name of Cardy Clegg. He was the man that took care of the lakes at the head of the Provo Rivers. So I went up to the head of the Provo River one summer. As I recall it was 1925. We had to go by wagon, there was no roads, only wagon roads up there at that time. I was there when the first automobile came up to Trial Lake. We lived in a little cabin there in the summer. We had to do our own cooking. We were raising dams, building them up a little bit higher, shoring them up and things like that. It was quite an experience. It was beautiful country, there was no cans or bottles then or things scattered around, no Kleenex hanging on trees. It was just beautiful, God's country. And everything was fine. The next summer I again worked at the cannery and other places.
And then the summer after that I was 17 years old and I decided that what I should do is come to Salt Lake to make my fortune. I came down and I got a job (I had to lie about my age, I was 17, but supposed to be 21 for the job) I got a job with the telephone company laying underground telephone lines around by East High School and up through that district there. I worked the summer there and went back to Heber for school.
Now I want to tell you about one of the greatest blessings of my life. The time that this young girl decided to go with me. Her name was Beulah Giles. That was the biggest blessing I ever had. We went together and had to walk every place, I didn't have a car and about the only places we ever went was to the hamburger stands and the picture show, and of course the confectionery. We always hit that up. It was a good place.
I got a good job at the mine. I started working at a prospect when I was 18 years old and I worked this one summer at this prospect and took most of my pay out in stock and I had to come down to Salt Lake and sell the stock back to the owner to get some money. Anyway, I had a little bit of money to go on, not much.
The next year I was 19 and I got a job at the Park Utah Mine, underground and as luck would have it, the shift boss there kind of liked me and he got me a job in the office. There was an opening in the office and he got me that job. And I worked there and then the Depression came and I was out of a job.
Well, I went to California to see if I could make a million down there. I didn't make any money. I was on the bum. Just eating stale donuts and a glass of milk once in a while. I had to sleep in a jail one time and in a miniature golf course one time, and in a used car lot the next time.
And anyway I come back and was I glad to get my feet under my mother's table. Well I picked up a little part time job working for the County Agricultural Agent and it progressed and I got a job working for the WPA in their office, making out checks and book work.
Then Beulah and I decided to get married. We were married on October 10, 1934 in the Salt Lake Temple. We spent our honeymoon in Salt Lake, about 3 days I think it was. Then I went and worked at jobs for about two years and after that, about Christmas time, I was out of a job. By the way, let me tell you our rent at that time was $10 a month, it wasn't much of a place.
Anyway I was without work and Beulah says "What you gonna do?" There was no work around Heber. There was none at all. I said "Something tells me to go out to Bower." and I said "I don't even know where it is and I've never been there, but it is out on the other side of Tooele, an out to Bower."
When I left to go looking for this job, Beulah went to Bishop Fred G. Carlile to pay our tithing and she told Bishop Carlile "Bishop this is maybe the last tithing you'll get from us for sometime, Mort's out of work." And he said "Where is he now?" and she said "He's looking for work out to Bower." And he says "I don't want you to worry for one minute. He's going to find work."
Anyway I got to Bower and thee was no work so I turned around and decided to come back to Salt Lake. It was gettin' along in the afternoon and I thought "boy, you have a long way to walk to Salt Lake." Lo and behold here come along a man and his car and he picked me up. I got in with him and he said, "Where ya' been?" and I told him and he says "What ya doin' out there?" and I said I was looking for work and he said "Did ya find anything to do?" and I said "oh heavens no, I should have better sense than to come out here. I said the smelters closed down and everybody's looking for work out here." And we rode along and he says "What have you been doing?" I told him I have had experience in the mines and I've worked in the office. Then he said "Well I wish I'd met ya a little while sooner. We hired a man to go out to Manning." and I said "if he dies during the night, let me know and I'll go."
Well we got to Salt Lake and I told him this is where I better get out and he said "Say why don't you go up and see Doc Merrill tomorrow morning." I said "Okay, I will go up." And he gave me the address.
I went up to see Doc Merrill the next morning and he talked to me and asked what experience I'd had and I told him and he said "would you like that job out in Manning?" and I said "I'll take anything." He said "then the job is yours. I'll pay ya $125.00 a month and you'll have to live at the boarding house." I said "What do I need?" and he said "All you need is a bedroll and your clothes."
Well a fellow took me out there and about around evening he stopped out at Mercur, he says "Well this is where your gonna be." I said "I thought you said Manning." and he said "No we decided Mercur and he took me into this bunkhouse and says "this is your room, Ches Cook is over in that corner, Arch Perry is over in this corner, and that corner is yours." It was in the first part of February and I was starving and I asked him "Are you going back to Salt Lake?" and he said "no, why" "Cause I think I'd go right back with ya." He said "no you are out here so try it." Well I got snowed in and I had to stay. There was telephone there then, so I called Beulah and I told her that I'd landed in Mercur and I can't get out so I guess I'm here.
Well I stayed there till spring and it didn't look quite so bad and I says to Beulah, "well I got a job" and she said "I'm coming out" and I said "I don't know where you'd go, they won't let you stay in the bunk houses." she said "What is there out at Mercur?" and I said "I'm going to tell you there's nothing but mines and miners and that's all there is. there is a couple of women out here but one of them lives in a tent and the other one in a shack in what they call "Rag Town" cause there is a few tents down there, some men and one or two women." Beulah said "Well I'm coming out."
Later she called me one day from Heber and said "I've got a trailer all picked out we can live in." and I said "Heavens, I haven't got a car, how am I going to get it out here?" She said "you will have to make some arrangements to get it out and you'd better come and look at it." So I had one of the fella's at Mercur drive me up to Heber at night, that was the only time I could go. this was a homemade trailer and it was a little bit of a thing. Two of you'd get in there and you could hardly move. Anyway, we brought that ting out by flashlight and we got it to Mercur and that summer for some reason we had a rain storm every night and the trailer leaked. And we didn't have anyway of stopping it and so we used to chew gum and find where the leak was and pug it with gum.
I said "this has gone far enough" so I got a tin smith down in Lehi to build a top to cover the trailer, made out of this black iron and when the sun hit it put the temperature up about 20 degrees inside that trailer and I about cooked Beulah. I finally painted it an aluminum color and it reflected the heat and it wasn't bad. I won't go into the story of the two holer that we had there.
We stayed at Mercur for 7 years. By that time the war was on and they closed the gold mines down and I had to look for another job and moved in February to Salt Lake to look for a place to live. Beulah was pregnant and Sonja was going to be born in April or May and that was February. At that time most people had been trying for months to find a place to live in Salt Lake and couldn't find anything. Well I drove to Salt Lake and parked on Main Street and Beulah said "Where you going?" and I said "I don't know where we're going we are just going." So anyway we went down Second South and I turned down there toward the Capital Theater. She said "You know where you're going?" and I said "no I don't". We went down and I said "let's go in here and see if they have anything, gee it wasn't even a rental place. We went in and this fella says "can I help you?" and I said "I sure hope so, we're looking for a place to live." "well he says, now I have a duplex, the man that was living in there went and moved out for some reason. Would you like to look at it?" So he took us out to look at it and said "How do you like it?" and I said "We'll take it."
Well we went along and we were blessed with a baby. She was healthy when she was born and we were overjoyed. Everything went well.
I then made the mistake of going out to the American Smelter and Mining Company at Garfield. A miner should never get mixed up with a smelter. I'll tell ya. I didn't like it the time I went out and they lied to me about some of the benefits I was going to get, so I finally quit. I found out one thing when I tried to quit, that I was froze into the non ferous mining industry, they wouldn't give me a release to go anywhere else and so I went to Pioche, Nevada.
When I got to Pioche I had to go live in the boarding house again and Beulah and Sonja moved in with her folks in Heber. She kept threatening to come down and I spent the summer there. Later, I tried to join the Navy, but the mining company wrote a letter and they kept deferring me. then I was sent out to Bower and another boarding house and then eventually to Salt Lake. Over the years we moved around to different places and finally we got this place here at 1528 Browning Avenue and we've lived here for on 36 years I guess (41 now).
We had a lot of great experience in the mining camps, a lot of funny experiences.
(At this point Mort relates several funny incidences such as" "Fiddy and His Pigs", "The Cooks Wife Who Ran Away and Stole All the Chickens:, "Beulah and the Varnished Porch", "Beulah Cons the Mining Superintendent:, "Red E Kilowatt Begs for Mercy", "The Chinese Child Bride of Pioche" and "Beulah Shares Her Gone With the Wind."
Well in the mines I took a lot of men to the doctor. We had some funny accidents and some not so funny (story of the miner who faked a broken leg)
Well, I'll tell ya this, Beulah sure was a good gal, she put up with a lot of hardships, a real lot of things that women would not put up with. I've seen women come out to the mines, and their husbands had pretty good jobs, and turn around and go back, wouldn't stay there because of the conditions they had to live with.
We would come into town and had to put on tire chains to get back to camp. And its been cold and windy and a blizzard and Beulah got out and held the flashlight and helped me put on chains and then when we got in the car and my hands was so cold I could hardly do anything and she's rubbed them and helped me out and I know she was as cold as I was. She's never complained. I've never heard Beulah complain. She would make the best of everything. When the water was bad she'd put up with that and wouldn't say anything and do all she could to help out.
She conserved on water until the day she died. Never used any more water than actually had to be used. And there's one thing else I'd like to say, Beulah never held grudges. She would never hold a grudge. When she got angry and she got angry at me for either something I'd done or didn't do, she told me. And when she told me you didn't have to ask her to repeat because you knew exactly what she had to say. She said it in no uncertain terms and then it was forgotten.
One time I got picked up for speeding through Stockton, Nevada. I went through there at 1 'o clock in the morning and I was going 50 miles per house. We got out the other side of Stockton and here come this car and it kept honking and honking and I thought it was one of the miners. and he said "pull over this is the law." Well I didn't know if it was the law or not, he hadn't any red light, he had no sirens or anything. So I pulled over and he said "get out and come with me." and I said "No, No, No, I'm not getting out of this car and leave my wife out here. She doesn't drive and I'm not going to leave her out here." He said "Alright, turn around and head back to Stockton and don't you try anything funny." So I went back to Stockton and parked. And he said "alright now you can come with me and we'll go up and see the judge." So I went in his car up to the judge's house and it looked like it was lit up and like he had every light he owned on in the house and I thought here looks like a place you'll get stuck for money. Well we knocked on the door and nobody came to the door and finally he came back and said "well I can't raise him. Mister, I'd like to know something, just how fast was you going when you went through here?" I said "I was going just exactly 50." He said "that's what I thought. Well sire, I'm going to turn you loose and I'm not going to bother you any more, because you are the first one that's ever told me the truth. When I pick somebody else up and they are going 50, they always say they are going about 30. I knew you were going 50." And I said "Yes, I was going exactly 50." So that was my run in with the law in Nevada.
there's been a lot of blessings. One day Beulah told me she was going to go to work. Now she'd never worked a day in her life outside of the home, she'd done plenty of work around the house, I'll say that. I said "Beulah you've had no experience where are you going?" she said "Never you mind, I'll get a job." I come home and she said "Alright, Iv'e got a part time job." And I said "Heavenly days Beulah just where in the world did you ever get a job without any experience at all?" She said "I'm going to work at the Temple in the linen room." She did and she worked there part time and one day one of the men that was over her called her into the office and said "Beulah I think you should go to work steady." She said "No I don't need to go to work steady, we are getting along fine." He says "Yeah, but you ought to do it just to work up some security for yourself." And he talked her into it.
That's one of the greatest blessing because it put me on the insurance with her and when I had that bad heart attack if we hadn't had that insurance we'd have been in a terrible fix. We wouldn't have had anything left. They would have taken our home and the whole works.
We've been blessed many times. I had a bad heart attack in 1981. The doctors thought I was going to die and in fact they had Beulah so so convinced she wrote up my obituary and I didn't find it until after she'd passed away.
(a few years later he called my mother Thelma Murdock and said "How are You?" my mother said "fine how are you?" Mort said "Well, I'm dead. I just found my obituary." Mother helped Beulah write it. After his recovery Uncle Mort was called Lazarus)
Anyway, the Lord gave me enough time to live and take care of her until she died. My health has been good and I can't kick. I've had a few operations, but I'm thankful for what I've had and that's just a few of the things that I'd like my grandchildren to know.
When we moved into this house and would go out to Fairfield to work on the Stake Ranch, Beulah would always tell me "I want you to be careful and watch your language." She said I don't want you to say something too bad in front of the Stake Presidency, they will think you are a holy terror."
And Steven one thing I'd like to tell you when you say anything about me up there when I'm gone, I do love cattle and horses. I like mines. These are the things I have known and grown up with. Things that I really like. I like the smell of the barns, the branding pens, and the old musty smell of the mines and things like that. I like the miners. I know that there's some of them that are rough and tough. I like them. And I've never been around any cattlemen I didn't like either.
And I've had a pretty good life."