The standard for determining if you’re a “local” had at one time been 11 years’ residency. That’s if you weren’t born here. Eleven years and local yokels might shrug and say, “Local enough.” It may be that 11 years is long enough to realize there’s a Moab Vortex that sucks you in and won’t let you go, not that you’d want to.
Now there’s a new way to help define and determine your “Moab” status: The first ever social networking site on the internet that asks what you think makes you “from Moab.”
Respondents have cited a lot of pioneer ancestry, personal knowledge of quirky happenings, and memories of hometown businesses that gave way to fast-food chains, motels and recreation-oriented outfitters over the past two generations. But there are also stories shared that range from trails and haunts that only the locals know about, to postings about close encounters with movie stars like John Wayne, Robert Duvall and Karl Malden; and up-to-date fashion statements such as Laura Guenther Reed’s that establish you’re from Moab if your idea of dress “shoes” is a pair of black Tevas.
“You Know You Are From Moab When…” is a group site formed this summer by Candyce Barton of Texas to connect with friends and relatives in Moab. She had joined a similar group site that focuses on Cedar City, “and since I grew up in Moab from birth until I was about 12, I thought it would be fun to start one for Moab,” she stated in a ’net message.
“The group is just a fun way for people to share memories,” she continued. “I don’t have any criteria for accepting new members. I figure that if they ask to join, they probably have a reason to.”
Barton, 30, daughter of Gary Shumway and Vicki White, moved to Cedar City in 1992 and now lives in Dallas with her husband, Sam.
The “From Moab” crowd, joining up as a Facebook group, geysered from 603 members within 24 hours of Barton creating the site Aug. 1 to more than 1,300 members and 4,000 postings by press-time in late August -- not to mention numerous photographic images from the past. A small percentage of members actually live in Moab.
“I hope the site continues on into the future with more memories, pictures, and even reunions of people that grew up together and perhaps haven’t seen each other in a long while,” Barton said.
Real crowd-pleasers among photos from the past so far include scans of postcards of “old Moab” downtown (circa 1960s-70s), posted by Tom Taylor; one of the western fort that served as entrance to the old White‘s Ranch, provided by Cricket White Green; and pictures of celebrities, such as one shared by Carrie Bailey of her mother, former teacher Helen Madsen, with Robert Kennedy (presidential candidate assassinated in 1968), Moab Mayor Norman Boyd Sr., and Utah Sen. Ted Moss. The occasion was a 1967 visit to the newly-established Canyonlands National Park.
Kennedys frequented Moab for family rafting on a favorite whitewater stretch, Westwater Canyon, according to another posting.
When comments on the social chat site numbered 1,237 on Aug. 2, Green and Lisa Knight Ceniceros conceived a “million-dollar idea” to turn the material into a book. One suggested approaching the chore by splitting up the postings into increments of 100. It would make a history book like no other.
While some Moab memories of incoming members echo observations already posted by the earliest members, each day also draws fresh comments on rehashed subjects; different accounts of historical or local events, figures and landmarks; details about comings, goings and those families remaining, in addition to family geneology; and quite a few obscure and/or popular stories of old-timers and structures gone but not forgotten.
Parents proclaim achievements of their Moab-born children; grown-ups remember their favorite teachers and classroom antics; natives remember the doctors who delivered them, and where; and everyone remembers Milt’s.
The following postings hint at the variety of comments inspired by “You Know You Are From Moab When…”:
“A John Wayne movie comes on and you get homesick.” - Bobbi Sue Manson
A young Sonny Ottinger of Moab shares shade with Navajo extras on the film set of The Comancheros in 1964. Photo by Lin Ottinger.
“You know what Moab used to look like.” - AmAsie Willison
“You’re a fan of Zane Taylor’s NFL Page on Facebook.” - Michael Ballantyne
“You’ve…waited to turn left and watched a line of 50 Jeeps go by.”- Merina Toninellli
“You know why Charles Kuralt is doing one of CBS’ ‘On The Road’ at the Moab City Dump!!” - Joe Kingsley
“They would bring your order on roller-skates and hook the tray on your window at A & W.” - Amber Lyn
“You cheered for Lenny Walterschied when he played for the Bears and the Bills!” - Ronnie Pierce
“You waitress (and) you never know who you’re going to wait on. Ally Sheedy was a big surprise. I didn’t know she was in town. I was taking Jon Bon Jovi’s and his table orders in the Golden Steak, and when I ask, “are you ready, m’am”…I was shocked when she looked up at me and gave me her order. She had just been in Short Circuit.” - Cricket White Green
“My grandma says .. Not knowing about Moab is like not knowing about New York City!!” - Chelsie Walker
“You remember the orchard on 5th West that had the best apples in town and Mr. Clark used to let us pick apples for .50 a bushell.” - David Quinn
“You remember all the dances at the Arches Ballroom and the great music of Ag and Krug…But then, most of you are too young…” - Janice Kirk Gustafson
“You had Spittin’ Jim, Mean Gene, Goofy and Grannie for teachers.” - Dorene Stalcup Dirzuweit
“You remember the plane or helicopter that dropped ping pong balls from the sky and you won stuff all over town.” - Cheri Auger Van Gilder
“You ride your bike around the Ramada parking lot, hoping to see a movie star, and Patrick Wayne shows up and asks to ride your bike.” - Marianne Bowthorpe Pipkin
“You have a street named after your family.” - Erica Hance
“Remembering all this makes you crave an original Milt’s Chili Cheeseburger. I worked 2 years for him and never got the recipe. Very secret.” - Cheryl Sims Tangreen
“Every piece of white clothing you own is now off-pink!” - Andre Deswood
“Every Western or desert scene on TV you watch…you say…hey, that’s Moab!!!” - Lori Lathrom-Davis
“You learned to swim in places like Left Hand, Tea Cup and (no disrespect) Nigger Bill, and every year played at Court House Wash. The only real lakes were up on the mountain.” - Ali Merz
“There was a film with Henry Fonda, who played Wyatt Earp, called, ‘My Darling Clementine,’ filmed in Moab, about the shoot-out at the O.K. Corral, filmed in 1946, and my dad had a 2-second part as an extra in that movie…It was shot in black ‘n’ white, directed by John Ford; had Victor Mature, Walter Brennan and Ward Bond in it.” - Ken Hayes
“Your phone line was a 4-party line…You had to be careful…” - Pat Hawks
“We used to look for unbroken half-gallon soda pop bottles in the hills around the dump. Engstroms would pay a dime for each one. A couple dimes would buy a whole pocketful of pixie sticks, sugar water in little wax containers, Juicy Fruit gum, and (don’t tell my mom) candy cigarettes.” - Robert Raymond
“I got my bike for $3 from the Trading Post on the radio.” Laurie Stocks Hassen
“Noon and six o’clock whistle blowing.” - Wendy Walker
“I’m bettin’ there are not half a dozen people know where ‘Giant Steps’ or ‘The Pigeon Roost’ are.” - Tracy Balsley
“You actually remember when they planted all those trees on Main Street and they were barely as tall as you.” - Leona Rite
“If you ever tried to get at least 10 kids in at the GrandVu Drive-In.” - Alene Inman
“You remember the Silver Dollar Saloon.” - Travis Johnson
“You waited on the Good Ol’ Boys for their coffee break: Jack West, Don Knowles, Sam Taylor, Ray Tibbetts, Jimmy Walker and many more. Love them guys.” - Helen Knight
“You are related to most of the town because your dad is a Holyoak, mother was a Beeson. We are related to Stocks, Beesons, Murphys -- and then I married a Martin. So we are related to most of the old-timers, if not all.” - Daleine Holyoak Martin
While this writer summed up her “Moabitis” addiction to the new group site as “a terminal case of Red Rocks In Your Blood”... Jerry Croasmun said it best. You know you are from Moab when… “It is the hometown good people that make Moab special. Those that have stuck together through the boom, gloom, and still….”