The Life History And Story Of Max Jones
Contributor: SouthPawPhilly Created: 1 year ago Updated: 1 year ago
It is February 5, 1981, and after much persuasion and coaxing from my children, and especially my daughter Gayle, I have decided to write this before I forget any more of my past life.
I now live at 2995 Chippewa Way, in Provo, Utah. I am in the concrete construction business; I am the Ward Clerk on the Edgemont 5th Ward; I drive a Datsun, a Ford, and a Chevrolet automobile. I mention this because many of the cars that were around in my early life have all been discontinued and people of today do not know what was driven some 50 or 60 years ago.
I wear clothes that were purchased at J.C. Penney and Company, Hart, Schaffner & Marx Suits--these names may someday disappear as have many others.
We buy groceries from stores like Albertsons, Smith Food King, Safeways--al giants in the food service--but who are destined for oblivion in the changing times and conditions.
We heat the house with natural gas and the basement is heated with a wood-burning stove to help with the high cost of natural gas.
My wife, Jessie T. Jones, works for H.J. Calder as a secretary for his several business ventrues including a Coca-Cola Company, real estate, and accounting firms.
I was born March28, 1914, in Provo Canyon at the site of the present, "Murdock Dam" about three miles up the canyon.
My grandparents Homesteaded a large area of Provo Canyon and had a hotel to take care of the people who built the plant in the canyon. They also farmed, had fish ponds to raise fish for sale, and also a cafe for travelers and fishermen who traveled the canyon. There wasn't a very good road in the canyon then, but the Denver and Rio Grande railroad had a branch line that went to Heber City and that was the main method of travel, plus the fact that automobiles were still in the very early stages of development.
My grandparents were Hyrum and Magdalena Neilson Heiselt (Mother's side). Grandmother was born in Denmark and came here as a convert to the Church with her parents, traveling here in one of the handcart companies. At the Centennial celebration of the Church, she was still living and her name is in the Capitol building on a plaque listing the people who were still alive at that time.
Her Parents, my great grandparents, lived to be 96 and 97 years old. I remember them quite well, but the thing I remember best about them is that they were always sawing wood with a two-man saw. Grandfather smoked a corncob pipe and wore a Danish sailor cap always. They celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary, and on their 60th anniversary they went to the top of Timpanogos. (They don't build them like that anymore.)
Grandpa Heiselt, in later years, was quite involved in the development if water resources that were later sold to Provo and Orem cities for culinary water. They sold most of their Provo Canyon Property in 1920 and moved to Provo at 212 East 400 South where they lived the rest of their lives.
They had three children who lived to be adults--my mother, Ruby; a brother, Roy; and a sister Vera, and three who died as infants. At this writing my mother is the only one living. She is 88. The other two have been dead many years.
I don't really know when we moved out of the canyon, but we moved to 37 South 200 East in Provo. My brother, Merton, was born at this place on September 13, 1916. We moved from there to 77 North 600 East in Provo, and Stanley was born there on June 6, 1918. At this writing both houses are still standing.
I remember practically nothing about the first place, but several things about the place on 6th East. First, it didn't have an inside bathroom. Another was that there were lots of quail in the yard at the time. At this time the last street in east Provo was 7th East, just one block away. Across the road east, at the present site of the Farrer Junior High School, was a big swamp that was always full of ducks and other birds, so there were lots of wildlife around there all the time.
On November 11, 1918, which was Armistice Day, the day the first world war ended, we moved to 83 North 500 East, where I lived until I left home. Mother kept the house until 1976 when she sold it. I can remember right where I was standing as Merton and myself were carrying Stanley in a wagon when 11 o'clock came and the whistles of the State Hospital and Knight Woolen Mills started to blow to celebrate the end of the war. My Uncle, Booke Nilson, who married Vera Heiselt, worked for Knight Coal and Ice Company and had access to a team and wagon and moved our furniture and other things for us.
When we moved into this house we were in the neighborhood of my father's relatives.
My father was Merton Leroy Jones. His father was named Joshua Van Jones. His Mother was Jennie Bee Jones. Grandma Jones was born in England. Grandpa was born in Illinois.
Grandmother was from a very well-educated and prosperous family who were merchants. She was very artistic, and there are several of her paintings in my possession.
There was my father, another brother, Jay Van Jones, who died of influenza during the war, Lilly, who married Robert S. Curtis, who was in the insurance business in Provo for many years, and another daughter, Jennie, who married John V. Buchi.
John Buchi had been a captain in the Spanish American War and self-educated himself to where he was a licensed Civil Engineer. He spent most of his life as the engineer for the T.F. Pierpont interests who were some of Provo City's earliest industrial companies. They owned the Provo Foundry and Machine Company, and in later years were responsible for Columbia Steel and Pacific States Cast Iron Pipe Company coming to Provo.
Like their mother, my father and his brothers and sisters were all very artistic.
There were no children born to my Aunt Jennie, and only one son to Aunt Lily, Bob Curtis, who at this writing is still living. The street on 5th East from 1st North to Center on the east side at one time was entirely occupied by our relatives. Both aunts, Robert Curtis, Sr.'s parents, and Grandma Jones all lived there.
Grandmother Jones had a millinery shop on the corner (northeast) of 2 West and Center in Provo. One brother, Stephen Bee, had a hardware store, and another brother Robert, had a clothing store. At this writing the Stephen Bee Hardware Store is still operated at about 350 West Center by his son, Cal Bee.
Grandfather Jones wasn't as ambitious as his wife. He fished and hunted, and I've never heard of him having a job except as a game warden. As a result, they didn't live together for the last 25 years of their lives. They weren't divorced,, but just lived alone. Grandpa spent his last 8 years with us, Grandfather died, and his funeral was on my 13 birthday.. I was a pallbearer.
Neither one of my Jones grandparents or any of their children ever joined the L.D.S. Church, but the Bees were large financial contributors to the Episcopal Church and whenever a Bee died, they always had a private funeral in the home with the Episcopal Bishop of Utah presiding.
Grandpa Jones was a tall, quite slender, quite nice-looking man with a long white beard. He walked with a cane, did a lot of reading, had read the bible many times and claimed he didn't believe a word of it. Many times I have seen him standing on a corner on Center Street with his long white beard, waving his cane and arguing with people on the contents of the Bible. There must have been some biblical influence somewhere though with his name being Joshua and his father's name was Moses.
My father was a rather short man, very wiry, very strong for his size; and like his father, he loved to fish and hunt, trap, and ice skate; but he was very ambitious like his mother's side of the family. He also possessed many artistic traits. The one I remember best was his handwriting and his ability to wrap a present. He was also a cement finisher--one of the best in the business. He was a concrete contractor much of his life, unit the depression in the late 20's and early 30's forced him to go for Columbia Steel Company where he was in charge of regulating the water inflow at the plant. I also think his chief job was to control the fish population in the canal that supplied the water of the plant.
It was probably from watching him and his work that had some influence on my deciding to spend most of my life in the concrete construction business. I'm sure that it was through his early association that I have enjoyed fishing, hunting, trapping, and the outdoors as much as I have.
If there is one thing I remember most about my parents in my growing-up years, it would have to be that I never heard they say, "I don't have time." It seems like any time we wanted to go to the canyon, down to the lake, up on the foothills, over to the park, or anywhere else, all we needed to do was ask and they would take us. We have camped all over Provo Canyon, Strawberry Reservoir, picnicked at the lake shore and other places so many times, and there have been other people, who were kids in the neighborhood, tell me years later how much fun they had going places with us.
Like my father's family, my mother wasn't a church member either. As a result, my brothers or myself weren't either. We missed a great deal in our early lives by not belonging. My joining the Church will come in a later part of this story.
I have a characteristic of liking to keep things, and I have a trunk that came over from Denmark with my Grandmother Heiselts family which at this time is about 115 years old. I also have a little chair that is a hundred years old which is a real treasure of my past and my heritage.
I will now attempt to tell of my early life stating in 1920 when I went to the Maeser School which is still here on the block between 4th and 5th East and 1st and 2nd South. My first teacher was Hannah Johnson Cardall. My 5th grade teacher was Clarence Ellertson who at this time is still alive and going to all of the Senior Citizens programs. All the rest are gone.
I don't really think of any great events happening in the whole grade school years, but I can think of some with a little bit of humor in them. One time a group of us left at recess to go down to the ZCMI warehouse on 1st East and 6th South to see what we could find. We found a big gunny sack of peanuts still in their shells and opened the sack and filled our pockets and went back to school--I think it was about 4th grade. After an hour or so, we noticed one of Provo City's two police out in the hall and he came into our room and walked around looking and said, pointing to different ones, "I want you, and you, and you to come in the hall," where he looked at our bulging pockets and wanted to know what was in them. Of course he got all of us, and we had to go down the next Saturday and work a couple of hours to pay for the peanuts. He had followed the empty shells from ZCMI to school and then just went around till he found some suspicious looking characters.
Another incident that I often think about has to do with the way kids have progressed over the years. We were taken in automobiles on morning to the Parker School, which was on 2nd North and 1st East, to get vaccinated. They took us over there and left us and then the driving, went. When we were through we through, we had to get back to Maeser School, which is about six blocks away, but in a part of the town that none of the kids there knew anything about. We were lost. I think it was me who finally figured out we were north of the Maeser School and the water ran south so if we would look at the ditch full of water we'd know where to go. We followed the ditch down to Center Street, and then we were familiar territory and got back to school. I can't imagine anyone getting lost nowadays six blocks from where he should be.
There were the usual fights that kids go through. The first one I ever had was on the corner of 5th East and center. There wasn't a paved road on Center at that time, Just gravel with weeds in it. They would drive the cows from the State Hospital down to 5th East and then down to what was known as the First Ward pasture (where the golf course is now). The morning I was getting a licking out in the road, the cows were walking by going to the pasture.
There used to be another big pasture on 3rd North and about 9th or 10th East. A boy named Dean Ekins and I used to take a bunch of cows over there in the morning and go and get them at night. Just about everybody owned a cow then, and you would start out at one place going to the pasture and the farther you went, the more cows you'd pick up from people's front yards. They would eat all day, and then you'd go get them at night and lead them home where people would milk them. The next day it would go on again, sort of like a paper route.
Another thing that doesn't happen any more was one time Mother and Aunt Vera and us kids and Aunt Vera's kids and Grandma and Grandpa got in a wagon early in the morning and went up Provo Canyon to where the far east end of Deer Creek Reservoir is, to some people that were friends named Watson. We stayed there for about three days while the older people just sat around visiting and the kids ran around the barnyard. I often wish things were that simple again.
We didn't belong to the Church, and one day they were making a survey in class to see who were member of different churches. When it came my turn to answer I said the Fifth Ward Church. I can still see the look on the teacher's face.
I remember being in only one play all the time in grade school. It was a Christmas play, and I was the east end of a west-bound mule in a two-part costume. There have been many times when I think that sometimes I play that same part again.
It may be hard for some people to realize that in 1926, when I got out of grade school, that radios were still about four years away and television was at least thirty years away. Many of the things we see as commonplace today were still in the planning or dreaming stages. Gas heat, electric fry pans, blankets, and dependable automobiles are just a few.
Speaking of dependable automobiles, anti-freeze wasn't invented yet. You had to drain a car if you were going to leave it for more than a couple of hours; less than that if you covered the radiator with quilts and hoped you got back before it froze. Most cars in the winter were going down the road in a cloud of steam because of frozen radiators. Automobile heaters didn't appear until 1928, and then they weren't fan driven. You could just feel them if you put your hand on them. Another thing was tires. We went to Nephi, which is about 100 miles round trip, and had over 20 flat tires on the trip.
Most houses in Provo at this time were still without inside bathrooms. One of the favorite sports, at least on Halloween, was going around pushing these outside toilets over, sometimes going over the next day and helping some older person set them back up again.
I'm sure that writing this history will seem like a lot of rambling, and from time to time I may think of something that won't be in the order of time and I'll have to go back.
At the start of 7th grade in the Provo Junior High School located on 4th West between 1st South and Center Street, three things happened that year that had an affect on the rest of my life.
First, about two weeks before school started, my cousin, Hyrum Nilson, got me a job at the Provo Ice Company. One afternoon I stepped backwards into a hole and fell on my left shoulder dislocating it and breaking my collarbone.
Dad had an Uncle named Bert Wallich, who had married Grandma Jones' sister, and he was a doctor. Anytime any of us needed a doctor, that's who we went to. He Set my shoulder and put a taped-up bandage around the collarbone. I don't know what happened with the shoulder; but even now, 54 years later, I can still push on it and it slips out of joint.
On New Year's Day of that year, I was ice skating on the lake. I fell down and cut my right eye. Dr Wallich sewed it up, and I have tree scars where each one of his stitches went in. If it were today that these things happened, he'd probable get sued for malpractice.
Second, as soon as I got the bandage of my shoulder, I was able to start the swimming class which was required ( I had never even been in the water before). One day I thought that looked fun, and everybody else was swimming so I thought "There is nothing to it," and I dove in. Of course I went to the bottom and a couple of people pulled me out. The instructor pushed on my back and got the water out of me and asked me if I could swim. When I told him "No," he said, "You don't belong here." Because of that experience, I never learned how to swim, although I've never been afraid of the water.
Third, one night Dad and myself were duck hunting in the millrace where the golf course is now, and a muskrat came out of its hole and swam in the water. Dad shot it and gave it to me. I skinned it, stretched it, and sold it for seventy-five cents. There was an army and navy store on about 330 West Center; and the next Saturday, Merton, Stanley, and myself went to that store and came home with three pairs of mittens for the seventy-five cents. I realized there was money to be made with muskrats, and that was the first one of thousands that I have gotten since then.
I have had, on two or three occasions, a dream that I really don't like, but it hasn't had too much affect on me. I went to heaven and standing at the entrance waiting my turn I've looked out over a sea of endless muskrats with one great big one standing in the middle, who is the spokesman saying, Why did you catch us? Why didn't you let us live?"
I don't really know if I've only had the one dream and whether I think about it again, or whether I've had it two or three times. It kind of bothers me, as I have had other things come to me that have proven true.
I mentioned ice skating. It seems like I grew up on a pair of ice skates. The place where Farrer Junior High now stands, which was only a block away, had a big ice pond on it. There was another one at Memorial Park on 8th East and 2nd North, and I started skating when I was about six years old. When I was 13 years old and with muskrat money, I bought my first pair of shoe skates. The lake used to freeze over solid every year in November and stay that way until the first part of March. Every Sunday Uncle Rob Curtis would take us to the lake skating. Lots of times I've skated clear across the lake to the Saratoga Resort and back. As a result of my early skating and so much of it, I became one of the better skaters, especially speed skating and jumping over barrels in Provo; and until I got hurt several years later, I could still out skate most people.
Even though we didn't belong to the Church, they let me join the Boy Scouts; and I look back to the times we went on hikes. One of the hikes was up Slate Canyon and down Rock Canyon, traveling back of the first range of mountains east of Provo. Two summers were spent at the scout camp near Aspen Grow on the Timpanogos mountain, and one winter campout about where the Wilkinson Center is now on the BYU Campus. That wasn't too much fun. There was a lot of snow, and the things we cooked weren't very good.
I got to be a Life Scout and had 36 merit badges, but because I couldn't swim, I never got to be an Eagle. Even though I went twice and tried to swim, I just couldn't make it. By this time the swimming pool at Provo High was boarded up because one person drowned another slipped and fell and died from it. The depression had started, and a new Superintendent of Schools was very opposed to athletics, so the swimming program at Provo High was gone for about 35 years. There was no place you could go and take lessons.
At the third attempt at passing my swimming test, I could paddle a little. Roy Passey, who was our neighbor and I went around with his boy, said, "I should give this to you just for continuing effort, but if ever tell anyone I'll bring you up here and throw you in and you'll have to learn to swim." I had the eagle badge certificate filled out. I paid for the badge. I went to the Court of Honor, and my name wasn't presented. The next day I went to the scout office and found out that the Bishop, because I wasn't a member of the Church, wouldn't sign the certificate. I went to scout meeting next Tuesday with a coaster wagon and got two pup tents and a big box full of frying pans, kettles, dishes, axe and hatchets that the troop used but belonged to me, and for 65 years that ended my experience with scouting. Judi, and I don't know which other daughter; went to the scout office and found some old records and talked the woman into giving me an eagle scout badge. I got it on my 80th birthday.
When I was 14 I purchased my first gun, a 12-gauge single shot from Montgomery Ward Company for $5.35. I had to get mother to go and sign a paper saying that it was all right to but it as I was under 16. You can probably guess where the money came from to but it. I was in the 8th grade at this time, and I can't think of anything really important that happened that school year.
At 15 in the 9th grade and the depressing really getting a good start, I bought a bicycle and had a paper route--several of them. One of them went clear to where Geneva Steel Plant is now, but the one I remember most was the one that was in the area of 6 to 10 West and Center to 5th North. I believe I could go there today and deliver to the houses that were there at that time.
It was about this time I became an avid fisherman, and the next four summers I fished constantly in Provo Canyon, most of the catching rides up and back. I think I knew every hole in the river, and I was acquainted with a lot of the bigger fish that eluded me.
This happened a year or two later, but while I'm on fishing, I'll tell it. Merrill Duke, who was my fishing partner nearly every day, was with me in the area of the Canyon where the Hoover Ranch is; and one day we separated and didn't see each other for about four hours. I had been catching a lot of fish and most of them big ones. I had way over the limit, so I started to hide tem thinking that maybe Merrill wasn't catching any. I just kept on catching and hiding unit I met him. He asked me how many I had and I said about two limits. He said, "I've got about the same." We got a gunny sack and started to pick up. When it was half full we hid it and went around gathering them up and bring them to the sack. We filled it so full we couldn't tie it, and had to take some out. We filled that sack and both baskets with about 100 pounds of fish. We didn't dare come back come until after dark with them. We had so many fish that our mothers had to pressure cook them and bottle them. I have never seen that many fish caught since then. That's probably the reason there aren't any fish anymore.
The Summer between 9th and 10th grades I got a job on a farm out in what is know as Carterville on the ground that is now occupied by the BYU motion picture studio and some of the gold course at Riverside Country Club. I worked for a fellow named Art Tanner. Sometimes I rode my bicycle to work and would come home every night; but it was water turn; I'd stay out there and eat supper and breakfast the next morning with the Tanners. I got a dollar and a quarter a day that year. I planted things, cut hay, plowed, few animals, dug potatoes, and everything else that you do on farms. I enjoyed it, and it was a job which very few people had at that time.
For a long time mother had said that when i was 16 I could buy a car This was the year, and I will never forget the thrill of sitting in my own car, driving in the driveway, honking and having mother come out and say, "Where did you get that?" I said I bout it, and she said. "Take it back." I didn't take it back. It was a Model T Ford coupe. This was the deluxe model with a self-starter. I bought it for $8 and sold it three years later for $20. Today it would be worth about $2,000. I was now independent. I could go to the dances on Saturday night. I could go fishing, hunting, trapping, or just ride around. Gas at this time sold for 13 cents a gallon.
There were several things about Model Ts though that no other cars had. One was there was no fuel pump or vacuum tank on them. If you were going up a long hill, sometimes you had to go up backwards so the gas would run into the carburetor. Another thing, you couldn't keep the connecting rods or the main bearings in the engine tight so they wouldn't rattle and be so noisy you couldn't stand it. They would sometimes come to pieces and have to be replaced. You always carried a few tools and an extra rod. Many a time you would have to make a roadside overhaul job. There was a song about that time that had some words in it that said, "You've got to get out and get under." How true. In real cold weather you would have to jack up one rear wheel to start it because of the drag on the heavy grease in the transmission. There were no heaters, there was a hand-operated windshield wiper, and the door on the driver's side of early-day automobiles didn't open--you had to climb over--there wasn't a gear-shift lever on these. The gears were changed with pedals on the floor. There was only low, high, and reverse.
I went on one trip with this car to Mirror Lake in the Uintas on a fishing trip where Merrill Duke and I spent a whole week camping and fishing.
There is one other thing that has changed over the years, and that is dance halls. There used to be at least one in every town no matter how small a town. Even Spring Lake, Salem, Benjamin, and every town that I can think of in the whole state had a dance hall; and they were always filled. I think it was about the time the second world war started that the trend changed and they have completely disappeared. The 11th grade in high school had one thing different. I was on the track team, but I didn't do too much in it that year. I think during this year there were only five boys in Provo High School who had their own cars, and four of them were Model T Fords.
The 12th grade I only lacked a half credit of 10th year English, one elective credit, and a credit of Physical Education which I didn't get because of my refusal to get in the swimming pool that first year. As a result, I only had to go two classes that year because I made a deal with the track coach that I would run every day during the fall, take gym during winter, and be on the track team in the spring. The English class was the only time in all of my school years that I ever excelled in anything. The reason for that is I was two years older than most of the rest of the class. I got a straight A in it that year. I was on the state championship team. The other three members of that relay team have all died.
In 1935 while I was in Salina Canyon living at the C.C.C. Camp, I would run twice every night from the camp down to the highway. It was a mile and a half. In August of that year two year two men at BYU had been back to the national A.A.U. championship meet in Milwaukee and had won the national junior and senior championship in the 880 yard run. In September they were going to give a demonstration run in the Y stadium. I asked Ott Romney if I could tag along with them, and he said I could if I didn't mind being embarrassed. He knew me from two years before when I was on the high school team. Without going into details as to how I did it, I beat those two so far it was nearly like it was two different races. I asked Ott, " How about a scholarship now?" He wouldn't even talk about it. This wasn't mentioned in the paper either. The timer told me after the race that it was the fastest half-mile time he could remember.
I knew that as I went along I would think of things that I forgot in sequence, so I'm going back now a few years to maybe around the 6th and 7th grades, and talk about a couple of hobbies that I had. One of them was stamp collecting. I won a little box camera, that is still around the house somewhere, at the Utah County Fair. I used to raise rabbits, and I would win ribbons at the fair with those. I even made some money with those because I had some good ones, and I'd sell some for breeding stock and the little ones to a place that marketed them. I even belonged to a rabbit breeders association, went to meetings, and took magazines on how to better raise rabbits. It was fun at the time, and it was something that not everybody was doing.
I graduated from Provo High School in 1933. I had also graduated to a better car, a 1928 Chevrolet coupe, with a fan-driven heater in it. This was probably the worst year of the depression, and there was absolutely no work. The job at Tanner's farm was taken by a man with a family. There was an occasional job for a day or two and some seasonal farm work.
Dad had to give up the concrete work and had gone to work at the Ironton Steel Plant. At this time he worked three days one week and four the next for $3.20 a day--$22.40 for two weeks for five people to live on and still pay taxes at the end of the year. Hundreds of people lost their homes at time.
It was about this time--and I guess the real reason why is because there was nothing else to do--that I got interested in boxing. A fellow by the name of Byron Fisher, who at one time had been a leading contender for the heavyweight boxing crown, came to Provo and started a boxing club. I joined and took a lot of lessons. We used to put on two fight shows a week, one at Park-Ro-She in Springville, and one at the Provo Armory. We would all be in at least one of them; and we would get, depending on the amount of tickets sold, all the way from 50 cents to $5. The highlight of this little career came one night when I fought in the semi-final bout. It was the same night that the world's light heavyweight champion, Tiger Jack Fox from Terre Haute, Indiana, was the main event. After the fights were over we sat around waiting for Fisher to come pay us. The place was full that night, and we should have gotten quite a bit; but thee longer we waited we got worried and looked for him. We couldn't find him. He had gone with all the money, and I've never heard of him since. That ended the boxing club around here for a long time.
In the Spring of 1934, on April 18, I joined the C.C.C. which was a government relief agency made up of boys who weren't working, and went to work in the forests and public land making roads, dams, cattle and sheep feeding improvements, camp ground, and many other things that are still here 50 years later. I went to Salina, and after three days working on a road, there was a vacancy in the office. I got it because I could type, and I understood bookkeeping. Being in the office I had the opportunity to travel all over the area that this camp was working in, to visit every job, and to visit some of the other camps in the area, to go and borrow equipment, or to loan them some that we had.
I also had the opportunity to meet and associate to meet and associate with a lot of the people who held high positions in the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management. Some of these people I knew and kept in touch with for a long time.