Clarence Max Rawlings
Contributor: ScottDimmick Created: 8 months ago Updated: 8 months ago
Interview with Max C. Rawlings
67 Years Old
Interviewed by Gregory Rawlings
December 30, 1983
Teacher Mr. Lawson
I can remember as a child my Grandma and Grandpa Jones living on what is now Columbia Lane in Provo. At that time there was no paved road there and there used to be a wood fence that ran down the side of the road. When I was a child running down to visit my Grandma Jones, we used to sit on top of this fence and watch the cars go by. There were very few cars at that time and so my friends and I used to say the next car that comes down the road would be the kind of car that I will have when I get big.
My Grandfather Jones used to have an apple press. He made his own apple cider when I used to go down to visit Grandma and Grandpa Jones, I’d take a bucket and go out in the apple orchard, gather up some apples, and bring them back and put them in the press to make my own apple juice.
I don’t remember much about my Grandma and Grandpa Rawlings even though they only lived about a mile and a half from where my Dad and Mother lived.
The first home where Dad and Mother lived after they were married was in a place called Vineyard. Now it is part of Orem and is located about a half mile North and a little bit East of Geneva Steel Plant. We lived there until a little after the war when Dad and Mother sold the home and moved to Provo.
I can remember that we had electricity in our home from the time I was a child, but we lived in the home for about fifteen years before we had indoor plumbing. I can remember Dad digging a trench from the house to the septic tank. The ground was sand and at that time the tile that they used to carry the waste away was loose and the sand would get in the tile and clog it up. Every so often Dad and I would have to dig up the line where the sewer was and dig the sand out so we could use our toilet.
In those days we didn’t have refrigerators like we do now, but what we used to do during the winter months was go down to Utah Lake and at the time the winters were so severe that the ice would freeze up to about 12 inches or more in thickness, and we would cut a hole in the ice and with an ice saw we would cut out chunks of ice that were about 18 to 24 inches square, and we put these on a bob sleigh and bring them up to the ice house. This ice house was made out of railroad ties. The ice was buried in tons of sawdust and would last us until at least the middle of the summer. As long as we had ice we could use some of it for our icebox or we could make ice cream, but when the ice was gone what refrigeration we had was just the spring. Our spring was down at the end of our ground with just a small building around it. The water was cold enough to keep the milk and butter fresh as long as possible. Now this wasn’t near as effective as ice or our refrigeration as we have today, but it was effective enough to help keep our milk and butter and whatever things we needed to store.
In those days we didn’t have a telephone or a telegraph. I can remember when the telephone was installed. It was a telephone that hung on the wall, one of the old fashioned models that are being duplicated today. The streets were not paved around our home in Provo. I can remember when they first paved the road. In those days they didn’t asphalt as they do today; they used cement. I can remember when the men started to pave the road down below our home about 200 yards away. This was a great deal more costly and used more manpower than the asphalt used today.
As early as I can remember all the kids had chores to do. We had four cows, a horse, chickens, and pigs. I helped milk the cows night and morning; I helped feed the pigs; I helped gather the eggs and feed the chickens. About three or four times a year the chicken coop would have to be cleaned out and fresh straw put in for the chickens to scratch in. About every other day I’d have to go in and clean out the trough behind the cows and haul it to the manure pile.
As early as I can remember we had no TV, of course. In fact, we didn’t even have a radio. I can remember how thrilled I was when we got our first radio. There used to be shows like “Amos and Andy” and “The Three Black Crows” and they were mainly comedians. In those days they were as popular on the radio as TV shows are today.
I can remember as a kid that we used to play fun games like checkers and other games. Also, something we did often in the wintertime was pop popcorn.
In the wintertime we would take the one horse we had and go out to the snowy pasture and tie a rope from the sleigh to the horse. We would go sleighing over the snow as fast as we could go and really have a ball. They didn’t have skis in those days, so the skis that we had were made out of barrels. We would take a piece of rope or string that would strap our feet to the bib of the stays and use them as skis. So in the wintertime we would enjoy skiing and also sleigh riding.
In the summertime we used to play ball and hide-and-go-seek and games such as this.
When I was young the things we used to do for fun were go swimming and go to ward church dances occasionally, not as often as they do now, but occasionally we used to go to those. There were basketball games that we used to go see and the ward would have their basketball games in the summer. I will always remember in the summertime going to a resort called the Geneva Resort and it was located right Northwest of the Plant. They had a swimming pool there and a dance hall and concessions. On the East side of this was a large area with lawns and trees, and there was even a ballpark where they used to play ball every Sunday. I can remember many times as a child and after I got older, that we’d go down to the park in Geneva and have an outing or a picnic.
I never went on a date until I was out of high school, so this would make me about 17 or 18 years old. I think there was a lot that didn’t, so there’s no doubt in my mind now that the young people date earlier and get married earlier than they did in my time.
When I was young I used to like to go see the western movies that played. Among the western stars at that time were Buck Jones, Ken Maynard, Tom Mix and Harve Corde. Once a week during the summertime when one of these stars was playing we used to get in the horse and buggy before we had a car and go into Provo and see the movies. This was something I would look forward to. I can remember when the talkies first came. This was in 1929. The first movie that was a talkie was called “The Jazz Singer” with Al Jolson. In 1929 also was a movie that was going to be the first Oscar winning movie of the motion pictures industries. This movie was called “Wings”. It was a silent picture, of course. The words that they spoke were lettered underneath so you could tell what they were saying. All the years I can remember a few scenes from this movie. Not so long ago on cable television they had this movie and played it. I taped it and watched it. This was Gary Cooper’s first movie and at this time Richard Arlin, Buddy Rogers and Clara Bow were the stars of it. Now Clara Bow in her day used to be a very famous star and she was one of the most famous stars of the silent pictures. I don’t remember how much radio programs I listened to. At that time there were programs like “Amos and Andy”, “Fibber Magee and Molly” and that’s all I can remember at the moment, but I can remember that far back just how much that I listened to the radio.
I’ve always liked to read. In fact, a good book to me is a lot more enjoyable than a movie. I did quite a bit of reading as a child, so I’m sure I did more reading than I did listening to the radio programs.
I remember quite a bit of the Great Depression in the 1930s. I was about 13 or 14 years old then. Dad was working at a job where he was laid off soon after he started, along with so many other men. Occasionally he would work for other farmers that lived in the ward doing things like hauling hay, etc. We also had neighbors, the Bunkers, that used to hire him quite often to do different farm chores. A year or two during the middle of the depression I worked for the Bunkers at a dollar a day. I can remember one year that I heard my mother say that all the cash money they took in was $50. Now the rest of the things that we needed we’d trade goods and labor for. During the fall I used to go with my Dad out to Roosevelt. We had apple trees and a model A Ford at this time. We filled the back full of apples and took these apples to Roosevelt to trade them for grain and poultry (chickens and turkeys). This was one of the ways that we were able to make our livelihood, using the barter system.
One instant during the Depression that I will always remember was at one of the movie houses in Provo. On a Tuesday or Wednesday night they used to have grocery night. They would draw tickets and the lucky number would receive a bag of groceries. One night one of us in our family happened to have a lucky number, so I went up and got the groceries. A short time later a woman sitting right next to me received a lucky number and she turned to me and said, “I don’t want this. If you go up and get the bag of groceries, you can have them.” So I went up again and got this bag of groceries, so this was one night where we enjoyed the show, though I don’t remember how good it was, but I do remember that the groceries were appreciated.
Prices during the Depression were a lot different then they are now. I can’t remember exactly the prices on the different goods, but I remember a big loaf of bread was 10 cents; a quart of milk was about 15 cents, potatoes were 50 cents for 100, and a hamburger was 10 cents. I don’t remember what prices were for a lot of them, but I assure you they are far different from what prices are now. Even though they were this low I think sometimes people saved more money and were better off then than they are now with the prices that we now have to pay for things. As I mentioned, most people who didn’t have a steady job got along through bartering.
Also during the Depression the government had a program called the PWA (Public Works Association). This was a program where men would receive so much in money, but they would have to work for it. This was an adult program; but they also had a program fro the young people between 18 and 20 called the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps). The CCC worked up in the mountains building roads and parks. There are a lot of recreation facilities in the mountains that were made during the Depression that are still being used. Some of the work that the older adults had was digging trenches for sewer and water lines. The program was far different from government programs today. In those days they worked for what they got and today people get it for nothing.
I’m not sure what the worst thing was about the Depression. I’m sure what it would have been like if I had lived in a larger city where people didn’t have the opportunity of raising their own vegetables, and they didn’t have the opportunity of working, and they didn’t have the opportunity of bartering two different things. They had to depend on the soup lines to eat. I’m sure that it would be far different than we had in the West. I can’t remember anybody ever starving in our area, but I do know that we couldn’t buy things that we used to.
My Dad bought some new furniture for the house just before the Depression started, and after it happened he couldn’t pay for it. He wanted the company to repossess it, but the company told him that if he’d just pay 50 cents to a dollar a month on these things that we bought that we could keep them. It took a while for Dad to pay them off, but eventually he did. I’m sure this was true in a lot of cases.
We had relatives that lived in the vicinity, within 10 to 12 miles. They did about the same thing we did. They worked for the PWA and they raised a lot of their own food. In those days women put up so much more fruit than they do now. So the relatives that I had weren’t in a much different position to cope with in the Depression than we were.
I don’t remember much about World War I. In fact, I don’t remember anything, but I remember World War II because I served in the Air Corps during that time. I went to my induction in March 1943 and was discharged in January of 1946.
During that time I served about a year in the States at different camps. I was married then and my wife followed me to different bases where I was stationed. She would receive a job near the base and then I would go and stay with her as long as I could. Sometimes I couldn’t leave the base for a while, but during those times sometimes she would come in the base to see me.
In 1944 I shipped over to the Pacific. The first island I landed on was Hawaii. When we landed there we were scheduled to go on an invasion. We got all ready to go and something came up where we were cancelled out, so we had to stay in Hawaii for about 6 months. During this time I got a chance to see a lot of Hawaii. Then we shipped out about 6 months later in about October or November of 1944. We went down to the Marianas first and then the Kwajalein Islands. This island had just been taken and we stayed there for a while. Then we went down to the Admiralty Islands. Now this island was across the Equator. As you cross the Equator it is one of the hottest places there is. It was so hot that when we laid in our beds at night, even without anything on, in the morning the canvas we had slept on was all wet; and of course, there were men stacked on top of each other about eight men high.
It was interesting because the ocean was so calm. There were no waves whatsoever; it was just as still as the water in a bowl. Then when we got farther away from the Equator the ocean became rougher.
We stayed at the Admiralties just long enough for the leaders to go ashore and see how the operation was of repairing bombers. This was what I was doing in the Army. I repaired bombers and I was in charge of the repair shop. After we left the Admiralties we went to the Palau Islands. We went in right on the tail end of the infantries. These infantries took about half the island when the engineers came in and cleared off a place in the jungle where we had our camp. The reason they took this island was to have a base to bomb the Philippines with. As soon as we arrived there they started building an airstrip on the island and also a place for the bombs to be stored. For quite some time we hauled these 1,000 to 2,000 bombs in to store them out in the jungle. All the time we were doing this the Japanese were still in the jungle and there was still fighting going on, so it was quite scary to go out there knowing there could be Japanese within 25 to 50 feet waiting to pick us off. The island was so hard we couldn’t dig a foxhole, so we’d lay on the ground and hope that the bombs wouldn’t go near us. There weren’t any of us who were injured or killed from the attacks. It wasn’t too long until they’d cleared the island off.
What was interesting was that the island was made of coral rock and underneath the surface of the island was a series of tunnels that the water in millions of years had washed in so that there would be a tunnel 50 to 100 yards long that would be as if it were man made. Over the top of this were jungles, so they had a hard time getting the Japanese out until they started sealing the entrance of the caves off with dynamite. That would stop the Japanese from going anywhere.
One experience I had – One night we had machine guns set around our area. The machine guns were close to our tent and we thought we saw something move to the side of it, so we swung the machine guns around and cut the top off of our pup tent. It was quite an exciting experience when we heard the bullets go flying over our heads at night.
After we left the Palaus we went in on the Okinawan invasion and here again we started to repair bombers that were bombing Japan. It was interesting to lay in our pup tents and through loud speakers we could hear the fliers as they fought the Japanese. We could hear different pilots talking to each other as they shot down the Japanese planes.
After a while in the month of August, after we dropped the atomic bomb on Japan, it was only a short time later that the Japanese surrendered. At that time the Army told us how we would have our turn to go home and the one with the highest points, that is number of months we were in battle, or if you had a big family which would determine how soon we went home. And the high point men would stay on the island and we were supposed to be picked up and brought home. The low point men would go to Japan for an occupation, and so this they did. I was one of the ones who stayed on the island ready to go home. But in the meantime, we waited on the island from August to December waiting for a shop to come and pick us up and take us home. In the meantime the ones that left to go to Japan had been home a couple of weeks before we were so this made us kind of irritated, but we were glad to go home when we did.
World War II affected Provo very much, so much in fact the county (because it was just prior to the War) that the United States Steel Company decided to build their steel mills – Geneva which was right west of where I was born and raised. The steel mills employed a large majority of men and women to help build these mills and also when it was finished they employed quite an amount of men and women to run the operation. So during this time from about 1942 or 43 until now the plant has been in operation due to a result of the War. These men and women with that occupation added to the economy of our town and state.
My wife and my parents had ration books to buy so much gas a month and so much meat a month, and also for other items that I don’t remember.
After I returned home and started working again I had a deeper appreciation for my country and for my family. I think when we realize the blessings we have here in Utah and America, to go to these foreign cities, I’m talking about the natives on some of these islands, and see how they live, it makes me thankful that I was born in America.
I also met and made friends with quite a few men. In fact, some I still keep in contact with. One called me at Christmastime, and I haven’t seen him in 40 years since we were separated from the Army. I met a great many men that I appreciated, in as much as I had to live and work with them.
I think one of the hardest items to buy during World War II was gas. Although not being here to know all the items that were rationed such as meat and whatever else that people bought that they couldn’t raise themselves, I imagine was rationed, although I wasn’t here to know. To some people on insurance, especially farmers that lived on these big ranches and farms that needed fuel oil to operate their equipment, these would be men that would be affected, because they could only receive so much oil in order to work.
I don’t remember much about relocation camps. The closet one that I was aware of was near Delta, called Topaz. In fact, the place is no longer there, although the cement pads that housed the tents are still there and a person going down there can find out where the camp was by these cement pads that still exist, but I don’t know much about these relocation camps because I wasn’t in the area where they were. There wasn’t too much said about it, or if there was I can’t remember it.
The first time I heard about the bombing of Pearl Harbor was when my wife and I were at a movie and when we came home one of our neighbors saw us come and ran outside and asked us if we had heard about it. We hadn’t of course, so at the time that they were bombing Pearl Harbor I could have been in a movie. I’m not sure, but I easily could have been. I had a feeling at this time after a few days what the outcome was going to be, that I would have to go, because by this time and even before they started drafting, the talk was that we were going to draft all able bodied young men. So I knew that sooner or later I would have to go. So it wasn’t a surprise for me when I received my call. Well, I think that even though a lot of innocent people suffered in order to save the lives of our people, that it was for the best.
On these different islands as we started from Pearl Harbor to Japan, all the many island that they took, there were thousands and thousands of our men that got killed. So the decision was, as far as the bombing and dropping bombs, in doing so that it would save the lives of many of our young people who would most surely be killed when we invaded Japan, so it was too bad that those people that were killed were sometimes innocent people, but that’s the way it happened, and I guess that’s the only way it could happen. All I can say is that he is the closet one to imitate the Devil that I know of, because of the millions of people through his efforts died – because of him, so I think he and the Devil should be good bed partners.
The Korean War had no effect on our family, although the Vietnam did, because our oldest boy Alan enlisted in the Marines. He served over there for a year and we were thankful that after he served his term that he came home safe and sound without any accident or problems that could happen to him.
There has been a marked improvement in the last 25 years. The first airplane that I can remember was the Spirit of St. Louis that Charles Lindberg piloted across the Atlantic. This was a prop type airplane and even the planes that were in the two wars, World War I and World War II were a mass marked improvement between these two periods of time. The bombers and the fighters and the civilian planes that we have now are very much different than they had 40 years ago during World War II. The planes now can carry hundreds of men, tons and tons of equipment, and they go faster than the speed of sound, and so there’s no comparison between the planes. I feel confident that in the next 40 or 50 years there will be just as much difference as the planes that were made then as they are now.
The first TV that I can remember – our neighbors had a TV and at that time about the only program that held any appeal to me was the wrestling matches. Although we didn’t have a television our neighbor did, so we’d go over to our neighbors each week and see the wrestling matches. This went on for about 2 or 3 years and then finally we bought a television set. Other types of programs came on that were interesting so we weren’t quite as interested in wrestling as we were at first.
There’s a lot of difference between television now and when it started. The programs have become so much more vulgar that I’m sure that the Devil has had a hand in filming of some of these programs that we have on. I think that there are more education programs on today, but as far as taste is concerned, the programs are not near as good for the youth of our community as they were then.
Music has changed a lot. It used to be that you didn’t have to wear cotton in your ears in order to listen to programs. Now, if you forget the cotton, especially where the young people are, then you’re going to have to hurry and go see a doctor, because you might get your eardrums punctured.
In the days of long ago that I remember, they didn’t have the young people singing groups. In those days they had what was called the Band Era. During the early 30s there were big name bands such as Guy Lombardo, Wayne King, Jan Garber, Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey, and Benny Goodman. These are big bands that took the place of the groups they have today. At the end of the 40s these orchestras faded away and the young people started coming in with their style of music, and it wasn’t long before all the big-name bands faded away as far as televising it. Some are still playing, but they play at different hotels in New York. They’re not televised or recorded, and they are a lot different from the young groups that sing today. It was an entirely different type of music when I was young than it is today.
I’ve never been very politically minded to study the presidents and know their faults and virtues, but I’ve always admired Franklin Delano Roosevelt more than any other president. He was the president for four terms in World War II and had affliction that he had to overcome. As time goes by in history I think he will be regarded as one of the best presidents we’ve ever had. He was the first president I remember voting for. I voted for him overseas. The soldiers were allowed to vote. I can remember them bringing ballots around when we were on one of the islands. Whether these votes ever got back to the United States and counted I don’t know, but nevertheless, this was the first time that I ever voted for a president.
I can’t remember thinking much about the Russians in World War II. Occasionally, we received different servicemen’s magazines overseas, and it would tell how the war was going there, but I didn’t pay much attention to it.
I can remember the first time man landed on the moon. It was on Sunday and they had been broadcasting about what time this would happen, and our sacrament meeting and the councilors and I were debating whether we should close our meeting so the people could watch it; but we decided they would have time to go home and watch it later, so we carried on and had the rest of our sacrament meeting. It was a subject everybody was talking about. I felt kind of excited about something like this. It was something that a few years before people would say could never be done. I think I was like a lot of others. I was excited and wondered what it would be like to be up there on the moon, and also at this time there was the worry of whether something would go wrong and they would stay up and orbit the earth. This was kind of a horrible thought, but I’m sure a lot of others had the same thing on their minds.
I remember Prohibition and the people who would go to Wyoming and bring beer in from there, and people would make their own brew and their wine. There was always a place in town where someone could buy whiskey if they wanted to. It was available to people even though it was illegal to have them.
Living in the land of Mormons, inasmuch as this is something in the Word of Wisdom, we’ve always believed that alcohol isn’t good for the body, so when the government made it illegal to buy it, this was something we thought might curb the use of alcohol.
As far as I’m concerned, it’s a lot worse now than it was then, because I am 40 years older than I was then. Now if I were 20 years younger I would feel like I did when I was that age, but the older you get the more aches and pains you get, and this puts a damper on your spirits sometimes.
There’s more crime now than there was 20, 30, 40 years ago. There’s more drinking. The dope is being used now by the young people as well as the older people. There are more girls having babies without being married, and the morals of the people are not as good as they were 20, 30, 40 years ago. I would say it would be harder for the kids now to grow up, even though they might have the money they would like. There’s a much more evil influence and troubles today, especially in alcohol, drugs, and morals. I think it is harder for a young person to grow up and be a decent law-abiding person now than it was when I was younger.
I don’t think that the young people have the respect for older people now as they did then. This in some ways is the fault of the older people, because they have allowed the children in their growing up years to do things that weren’t necessarily good for them. There isn’t the discipline now that there was then. As I said before, nowadays, it is much easier for the young people to have access to alcohol and drugs and influence their lives for the worst.
During World War II most of the young people that were eligible to sign up for the draft signed up, and nowadays it isn’t always the case.
The young people today don’t have as much respect for the country as we had 20, 30, 40 years ago. Now when the government asks them to sign up for the draft about half of them haven’t registered yet. Now, this is due to the last two wars that the people didn’t believe in, but I think that we live in a great country and the least we can do is sign up and be prepared to go in the Army or to war for a short period of time if we have to.