March is Women’s History Month and the Museum of Moab oral history archives has interviews with many early Moab settlers. Below are a few excerpts from women about their lives in the valley (some edited for brevity, unedited interviews can be read on moabmuseum.org).
Ruby Ray Tangreen Zufelt b. 1908 – Traveling through Moab when she was young.
“We went on and camped out at Courthouse. There was a cabin there then, and it was vacant at the time. We took care of the horses (Snipp and ol’ Daisy) and cooked our supper on the campfire, as usual. Dad was restless and couldn’t sleep that night, so he got up and drove on to the (Colorado) river and crossed the river. Mother woke me up so I could see how beautiful that river was. I was just scared to death of the water. Dad went on into town, looked around, talked to people. Ireta fell down in the mud and that mud, was red and stained her dress. I remember when we passed through Moab in our wagon, there was an old blacksmith shop where the old road used to go on Fourth East. They called that area “Monkey Wrench Flats” because every time the guy that ran the blacksmith shop got mad he would come out and throw a monkey wrench out in the road.”
Isabelle Provonsha b. 1897
“When I was four years old, I used to go to the Post Office with the letters, and get the mail. Which at that time was only first class, and carried on the back of the saddle behind the rider. I had two gates to open, and how I would have to work to get them open. Our saddle horses in those days were broke to sidle up to a gate for you to open it without the rider getting off. This horse was named Bracket, and he knew a lot more than I did. He would never go away and leave me. If I fell off, he would wait for me to find a way to climb back on.”
Maxine Newell b. 1919 During the Manhattan Project:
“I came home on vacation one time and my uncle, Fendol Sitton, owned the Radium 7. So he took me down there one day and took me on a tour of the mine. And after the tour he gave me a chunk of uranium -- and told me he didn’t know exactly what they were doing with that -- but the government was doing something with it up in Hanford. He said, “I think they are using it in jet planes.” So, I started working for the Corps of Engineers and we typed a lot of letters to Hanford. And, finally, one day I said this is the silliest thing there ever was... I know what’s up there. And I told them what my uncle had told me. And they said, “You know, I think the Chief might be interested in that” so they marched me into the Chief’s office and I tell him my little story and he says, “You know what? Why don’t you just bring that little piece of uranium down here tomorrow and show it to us.” I said, “Fine,” you know. Every morning I would stop and pick up the morning paper on the way to work. And the headline was about the atom bomb exploding in Hiroshima. Well, I just went weak-kneeded. I might have gone to Leavenworth, you know. Well, that was the end of the story anyway. At last, I got there. Everybody was just interested in this uranium, you know, and they wanted to know how it worked and I said, “Well, I think you drop it in a glass of water.......” and I just lost my audience. Everybody had read the story and they just disappeared.”
The Museum of Moab is the center for cultural and natural history of eastern Utah and the Moab area. See our website, www.moabmuseum.org, for information on our exhibits, tours, and programming.
Join us March 10th 5pm to 8pm for a reception welcoming Dan Norris, Tom Till, and Bryan Haile as our guest artists for the month of March. Then on March 20th we will have the first of a quarterly storytelling series presented by the Museum. More information on our website and Facebook page. And please be sure to mention you read about it in The Moab Happenings.