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Dean Rock

Interviewed by Adam Christensen

00:00 / 39:48



Interviewee: Dean Rock

Interviewer: Adam Christensen (college student)

Subject: Como Springs Resort Experiences

March 30, 2010 Tuesday

Place of interview: Rock residence, 5920 N. Poll Dr. Mountain Green, Morgan Utah

Transcriber: Cissy Toone

Edited by: Linda H. Smith

Dean Rock: My first memory of Como is when I got baptized and they did it in the indoor swimming pool up there. I don’t know how many wards did it but North Morgan did.

The next thing I guess I would remember is the restaurant that they had. It had an open screen window that faced the boat pond. Now there were actually two big swimming pools, the indoor and the outdoor. The outdoor had a little wading pool for the kids, then it also had a toboggan that came down into it on the one corner, then on the other side they had a low diving board and high diving board. The high diving board I think the water was real deep maybe even ten feet, but it just sloped as you went from up at the where they sold (rented) you your suit, and it just sloped to the other end. Then where this big diving board was, was kind of a hole, or recessed part down in a little deeper than the rest. The water for it came out of Como Peak there, and there’s a little stream that ran into the outdoor pool all the time. They had piped water from lime kill, if you know where lime kill is, just down the road a little ways from where you lived toward that restaurant, if you look over against the hill you’ll see a little indent place there, there’s a little spring there, and sulfur water that came from there. That (water) ran into the outdoor (pool) as well as the indoor and they had a kind of little fountain affair in the outdoor, in the center of it. It came up, and the other part where the water came out of the Como Peak was kind of, I guess; I ought to draw it for you. If you know where, do you go to Round Valley Golf Course?

Adam Christensen: Uh huh.

DR: Well that’s the Como Peak there, it came out of that hill and went into that upper corner of the outdoor swimming pool; always a constant stream ran there. That’s kind of about the swimming pool.

They had what they call a, where you buy [rented, not sold] your suit stand, as you came in the gate; there was a swinging gate there that you came in and you’d get your suit there.  They’d have all these little cubby holes in buildings where you could change into your suit from your clothes. I don’t know what you’d call them, little lockers, I guess or something; they were big enough that you could go in there. There was a bench to set on so you could get into your suit.

The next thing I guess would be the dance hall, it was… familiar with that big building that’s up there now?

AC: Yes, I know the building that’s up there now.

DR: Okay, that’s where the dance hall was and it was a wooden one that burned down, and so they built that one. At that time when dancing was really a go thing they would come up there and dance. My dad ran a beano stand, a beano stand then, is what you call bingo today. You played with beans so it was a beano game. The beano stand was a long building that faced the dance hall, and that’s the same big building that’s there now, that was built in its place. This beano stand was, I don’t know maybe even forty feet long, twelve feet deep, they’d play beano there and the prizes would either be a box of candy or a Cupie doll, were the prizes they’d get. I don’t know if you know what a Cupie doll is.

AC: What is that?

DR: They are just a little china doll, I remember the ones he had there, they were quite slender and they’d have kind of a hat or a feather thing in their head. Cupie dolls were just a little china doll, if you dropped them they would break. So they would play there, but when the dances was up there, there would be such a crowd come out at intermission that he build a square with tables about so wide to put your card on, and it was square and he’d take his beano balls out there and the spinner that you spin them in and they’d line all around these little counters that were set up out there to play beano. He would take the balls and the cage out there and a man that really worked for him a lot up there, his name was Spike Harding, he’d be up there helping run the beano stand. That would generally be when there was a great big crowd wanting to play or else during the dance time.

In this beano stand there was at the one end, there was a little fish pond for kids to fish in and they’d have a trough of running water and the fish was a little board fish with a hook on top and the kids would try and hook the fish. If they did they got a ten-cent prize or something like that. Then kind of in the middle of this same building area he had what they call a race-horse stand. I don’t know if you ever saw one of them (race-horse stand) or not but they are a kind of round table, oh maybe six feet across in diameter, you’d crank a crank and the horses would run around the track there, the one stopped on the goal line, whoever had that number won. (All the horses had a number on them) That was just another game they played.

At the end of the beano stand was a cat stand, and we called it a cat stand because I don’t know if you’ve ever been involved where they give you three balls and you throw it at an object, then they were cats. They called them a cat and they were fairly wide about that wide, but there was only a stick in the middle so you had in the center to knock them down, if you hit them on the side, the ball would go right past the cloth there, that was a cat stand then. Spike’s brother worked for my dad, his name was Dan Harding, he’d run that most of the time. Then in addition to this at this point they had this confectionary stand about the same size the beano stand was, it face the swimming pool. My dad, (Laurel Rock) ran that quite awhile too, he ran popcorn, soda water, candy bars, just kind of confection treats for kids and that. Those are the stands that were in that general area.

The water that came out of the swimming pool ran over and overflow into another pond, which they called the boat pond. They had a little miniature train that went around this boat pond and came across a little trellis at the end by the swimming pool, across the water, other than that it was on dirt all the way around. There was also a motor boat they’d run for kids that wanted to get a ride. This boat pond is where this café kind of was. Right on the edge of this boat pond, it was just a screened window that you could look out over the boat pond while you was eating there. It was just the road way a little bit between it and where the dance hall was, I don’t know twenty-feet wide or something space there, that was a pretty going thing early, Mrs. Heiner ran that. (possibly Amy Heiner-can't remember her first name)

Heiner’s at this point owned Como. John Heiner was the granddaddy of them all, he had Jack Heiner, his son, that worked there, also Vance Heiner, and Rex Heiner. There were three sons that worked there. So from this point I’ll take you to the hot dog stand. The hot dog stand was another small square framed building that sat kind of back of the beano stand and the confectionary stand. Floriene Heiner ran that. Beyond that they had two bowery’s up in the park area, an enclosed bowery and an outdoor bowery, you could hold reunions, big picnic’s, so if you had a big party you wanted to entertain up in the park area, in addition to that they had a lot of tables that as a family you could go up there and have your picnics. Now that’s in the park area. Have you been into the grounds of Como at all?

AC: Yes, I have walked around in there.

DR: Okay, this park area, they still have that little park (area) where they had the bar and the little café. That was a later addition after the others burnt down. (bar, café, bowling alley later) Beyond that up in them trees was where all the park area and the bowery were. Then there wasn’t anything from there until you got back to the hot dog stand, initially the bowery. Then John Heiner had a home there, it was just kind of back of the confectionary stand, kind of over against the hill a little bit. The old man lived in there during the summer, if I remember right they had a little dining area in there, may it would hold a dozen or fifteen people or something. I thing they served special dinners in there for guests or groups, if I remember right it was. From there, oh they did roller skate in that old dance hall building before it burned down. After it burned down, the main attraction in the big building there now was to roller skate and it was really packed on weekends with people roller skating there.

It was mostly all clamp on skates then. One couple had shoe skates, I remember them coming up from Ogden, there name was Sackle, he and his wife or girl friend would come up, and they were beautiful skaters. So they mainly just skated and skated until it kind of went out and it just kind of died and Como kind of died out eventually.

AC: What were their names, the one’s that came up?

DR: Sackle.

AC: Sackle?

DR: They lived over…well I think he died. I don’t know if she’s still alive or not. They lived over on Combe Road. If you know where Combe Road is, it’s actually in Uintah.

AC: They had real skates? The shoe skates?

DR: Yes, they had the shoe skates and they were fancy skaters, you know? They’d shuffle and skate. Then there were some of them that would skate like speed, speed skaters. You know? They’d have gentlemen only and it was turned into a speed rink.

AC: Racing!

DR: There were some kids there, Van Voss, and Clarence Francis and some of those guys could really go fast. They’d shuffle there skates and they could spin around and go backwards. I finally learned how to skate backwards and I could do it pretty good myself.

I was a key-boy over there at that time. A key-boy is, you have a bench there you set on and a little slope there for a person to put their feet on and you put their skates on and clamp them up for them, because somebody had to clamp there skates on. So they called you a key-boy. You could skate free when you weren’t busy. Now I think you got twenty-five cents a night for doing it (working) and it was three hours of skating time.

But anyway that was the way the skating thing went, but it eventually just kind of died out like so many things do after TV got in. That’s about all of that, the end of the things. Let’s see, did I tell you they had a merry go round there?

AC: No.

DR: They had a merry go round there just between the skating rink and the swimming pool, right near the boat dock where they’d get on the boat, right in that general area. Let’s see confectionary, popcorn, I told you that. Oh, I don’t remember if there was ever a building here that burnt down but eventually just away towards the bowery area, from John Heiner’s house, they built a new bowling alley, it had four bowling lanes. The other half of the building had some pool tables in there, volleyball machines, and if I remember right at the front they had a fountain and maybe served sandwiches in the fountain area. Eventually where the pool hall was, Rex Heiner turned that into a café, I think that was after the one by the boat pond had shut down. But there were four lanes there.

The cabin area, as you go into Como you crossed the (Weber) river, then there was a ditch, a little bridge there, before you crossed that bridge all that area toward, I guess it was on your left (East) side as you went in, would be cabins, row and rows of cabins. People would just come up there and vacation for a few days or a week or something, three weeks vacation. It was just quite a recreation area, in fact holidays there would be just a big crowd up there. You’d have a hard time even finding a parking place. It was that used for holidays. In these cabins a guy by the name of Hamner Heiner ran the cabin area. Did you know a Joye Heiner?

AC: No.

DR: Joye Crouch, over there in South Morgan, she wrote “Eighty and Older” in the Morgan County News?

AC: I’ve heard the name.

DR: Well that was her father; they ran the cabin area. They’d hire kids to come up and clean the cabins. My daughters worked up there, they’d clean the cabins after people moved out so they would be clean for the next ones that came in. That was quite an attraction to have that cabin area up there. Handy to the cabin area, but you had to cross a little walking bridge to get to the restrooms. They had a restroom there, quite near the bowery area. It was all outside bathroom facilities at that time. As you crossed the (Weber) river there was a big swinging bridge, a pedestrian bridge, it had cables that strand across and a platform to walk on, and you walked across that swinging bridge. It was quite an activity between that and the fairgrounds during the fair season in Morgan. That bridge got used an awful lot if you walked there. The road bridge as you know is quite narrow, one lane across that river. As you come into Como, on your left (East) side was the cabin area, on the right side there’s trailers in there now, or I think there were some.

AC: Yes, there still is.

DR: That was just kind of a camp area if you wanted to pitch a tent or something there, just below that area was a fox farm. This fox farm was put in there by, some of the Heiner’s owned foxes and the druggist did. The people had shares in this fox farm and they’d feed them foxes. My dad was a truck gardener so any scrap lettuce or lettuce to go to seed or that, we’d crate it up and they would give you fifty cents a crate. They would grind it up and use it in fox feed. Eventually they moved the fox farm out of there and moved it over on to what they call the flat. I don’t know if you know what the flat it. Are you familiar with the “M” up on the hill?

AC: Yes.

DR: Just down from that toward the Como side was what they called the flat, then they started in to the mink business and they developed that. Sommer’s went in there and built a lot of mink sheds also.

This don’t apply to Como but right against the river where you go into Como on the left (East) side there’s a (River Lodge) log building, I don’t know if you saw it or not. I don’t think it’s called this, we called it the “Duck in- Wobble out” because it had a little fountain bar in front that served beer, in the back they had some booths and they served sandwiches if you wanted them, and there was a dance hall back there. Buzzy Stuart built that, it wasn’t a part of Como but was very near to Como. River Lodge I think was the name of it.

Yes, the proper name was River Lodge that just came to me. I guess that’s about it (about Como) I guess that pretty well covers it. I think the building’s still there that had the café and the bar in the back. You had to go in a hall way from the front door and go into the café from this side and the bar was on the other side. I thing the building still there, they don’t operate anything in there anymore. I don’t know how many times it’s changed hands, since Heiner’s sold it, quite a few times it’s changed hands to different people buying it, going to develop something there and it just never gets done.

DR: I think they’ve closed it and made it no trespassing to even get in there now, I don’t know what’s going to happen to that. It seems to me, someone involved in this Round Valley development that they’re trying to get done, Miller or I don’t know his name, bought it or something.

AC: Yes.

DR: There was someone that bought it in conjunction with the Round Valley Golf Course Development up there. That about all I can tell you, except my dad also in 1929 bought a bottling works and bottled soda water, and out in that boat pond you’re probably going to find a lot of bottles.

AC: Really?

DR: People would drink a bottle of pop and throw their bottle out in the water. I’ve been thinking some way I ought to be able to have someone get out there and see if they can rake any of them up out of the bottom for me. I did find four of my dad’s bottling works bottles but I gave…well I guess I had five. I gave all my sister’s and brother all got a bottle and I have one. Then Linda Smith found one somewhere that’s really clouded, milky colored, it’s discolored quite a bit but she gave me one. That’s a different story on the bottling works but my dad did sell a lot of soda water at Como after he quit operating (Beano stands) up there. I think he operated in the early 1920’s. After he got in the bottling works business he didn’t operate any of their stands up there anymore.

AC: What was your dad’s name?

DR: Laurel Rock.

AC: Laurel Rock?

DR: They called him Mud.

AC: Mud?

DR: They give him a nickname, so if you hear of Mud Rock its John (Rock’s) granddad.

Coach (John) Rock’s granddad. I don’t know for sure how he got that nickname but in his day they were nicknaming everybody up there. Virgil Stuart was “Buzzy”, and Bert Stuart was “Stiff arm” and Henry Butters was “Half Butters”, Irvin Butters was “Diego” why they did it, I don’t know. What I had heard why he got the nickname is he raised onions all of his life, in fact all of his farming life he seemed to raise them onions and he’d raise Mountain Denver onions and someway the Denver got associated with Denver Mud, which is a suave ointment that you’d use. In fact, when I was in the CCC Camp the bedding and that sometimes got switched around and I got some lice on me. They used this Denver Mud to kill them lice, so it was a suave that was used for that. Anyway because he raised these Denver onions they associated it with Denver Mud I thought that’s the way he got his nickname, I may be wrong but that’s a different story. I think I’ve give you about everything I can tell you on this (Como) except the one that can feel in a lot of blanks for you is Hal B. Heiner, because he’s a descendent of all them Heiner’s that run it up there pretty involved. But I think he’s the last of the Heiner’s that were involved up there, the rest are all gone. Oh, RuthAnn Heiner is still around, she lives in Bountiful and I don’t know what her married name is but Hal (Heiner) can tell you. Well she might even be older than Hal and maybe even know a little more about it than Hal. But her name is RuthAnn, Hal can tell you about that.

AC: Okay.

DR: Oh, one other thing that was kind of a big affair that gathered a lot of people up there was when they had the motor cycle climb and all these guys that was experts on these motor cycles come up there. Over here where Wilkinson’s (Construction) shop is, up the road going to the golf course. You know where Wilkinson’s has got there shop?

AC: Yes.

DR: Okay, there’s a little steep climb of the hill right in that area and you’d go up there then it kind of flattened a little bit, then it would climb clear up to the “M” They called it the motor cycle climb, the idea was to try and get up to the “M” I think there was only a couple of them that ever did it. They’d get quite a ways up there then they’d spin out and fall over, you know?

DR: When they were having that there would be motor cycles all over in that Como area. Those people would just gather up in there. It was quite a party for that particular event that happened there. I guess that’s about it. They’d open Como I think on Memorial Day, and they’d close it on Labor Day. That was the extent of the operation of it up there, unless someone might want to rent a cabin after that.

Not that it’s part of your story but at one time we were what they consider homeless. My dad wouldn’t pay the rent too good, I guess. I don’t know why we moved so much. I know they evicted us from one home and we didn’t have a place to live so Jack Heiner said “you can stay in a couple of those cabins up there if you want to." One of them had windows and the other didn’t. The kids slept in the one that didn’t have windows. They were just screened in windows, and it was in the winter so it was a little cool. The other cabin had windows and a little stove in it and my dad, mother, and youngest sister all slept in that one. He (Jack Heiner) was building this little three roomed house over on the flat and he said, “You can stay there until we get this little house built, then if you want you can move over there and you can live in that house free just as a presence for the fox farm for security purposes." So we lived over there for a while. That’s just an end to the story or my story about Como.

AC: Okay, if you don’t mind I’ll kind of maybe go through some of these questions. I think you have answered some of them. Now that you’ve described Como how you remember it, you said that you had a job there as a key-boy for the skating rink. Did they have a key-boy for the lockers like in the swimming pools?

DR: Oh yeah.

AC: So did they have key-boys for any others, or was it just the skating rink and the swimming pool?

DR: I think just the booths where you’d change your clothes, and they had the suit stand there as you went in, you could rent your suit if you didn’t have one.

AC: Yes.

DR: No, that’s the only key-boys that I remember anything about.

AC: Did a lot of people rent swimming suits back then?

DR: Oh yes.

AC: You don’t see that now.

DR: And towels, suits and towels.

AC: Towels, huh.

AC: Did your family ever vacation there, or was it just you went up there for work?

DR: Well I think about the only vacation my dad…early, like I say in the 1920’s, my dad was often involved in running those stands there.

AC: Here’s kind of a question, just on a regular summer day when you would go to Como, can you describe what you would see?

DR: Well, you’d see the whole thing in operation and they had certain hours you skated. There was a good crowd come for skating for many, many years. Mostly holidays, but people would vacation quite a bit up there too. I remember two sisters and their aunt stayed up there three weeks one time, two girls from Jackson, Mississippi. Their aunt was local here, ran I think the café in the Ben Lomond Hotel. They came out here and vacationed for three weeks. These two girls from Jackson didn’t know how to skate, so they’d come over there to learn how to skate and I got kind of interested in one of them and took a likening to her and taught her how to skate pretty good. Three of the nights she went home to the cabin, I walked her over to her cabin, and just got pretty well acquainted with her and then when they went back to Jackson why we wrote back and forth together it was my senior year in school. We wrote back and forth together until I graduated, then she came back out, her aunt had gone up to Pocatello to run a Whiteman Café up there, and she came out there to work with her so I made a date with her and got up there and she said I was supposed to be up there the day before and she had changed her date with her boyfriend so she wouldn’t be able to go with me, that ended the romance.

AC: Yes, I bet. Can you tell me, I know sometimes they had events and celebrations and stuff, you mentioned the bike climb, were there any other events?

DR: The fourth of July was, holidays were really a big event up there. The swimming pool would be full of people.

DR: It seemed like any holiday was just a big thing with people up there, and the fair season, when the fair was on.

AC: Oh, and the fair, okay.

AC: Some questions that are for your opinion, why do you think Como was such a popular resort? From talking to people it seemed like a pretty popular place.

DR: Well, initially it was just a pond of water up there, I think you may have got that from Linda (Smith) where it may have changed hands a few times then finally Heiner’s got it. I think they just developed it into the resort as far as I know, Hal B. (Heiner) can maybe tell you more on that. From my childhood on up it’s just been a resort. (The first resort was owned & operated by Samuel Francis, 1890's)

AC: What do you think attracted people?

DR: Well, I think a lot of it was the swimming pool, sulfur (mineral) water. And I think average seventy (eighty) degree water, or something like that was pretty warm water. You wasn’t jumping into the river. I think that was the sulfur (mineral) water, suppose that sulfur water was supposed to kind of cure you; cuts, and that, sores. As the other amusements things developed that drew them in too, the kids.

AC: Okay, what do you think are some of the reasons it’s not there anymore, that it kind of died out?

DR: Well, I don’t know for sure, it just seems like it lost its interest as other entertainments came along, like TV and different things that kids get involved in today, and families, would be probably one of the things that went down, then after they quit using it as a resort, I’ll give you this, they raised fish in the swimming pool.

AC: I’ve heard that.

DR: I think it was gold fish or some kind of exotic fish they was raising up there. Out in the boat pond they just had carp there. You know what a carp is?

AC: Yes.

DR: You’d stand on the boat dock there and you could throw popcorn or stuff out there and they {the carp} would jump up and you’d get a swarm of carp over by the boat dock, feeding them and that.

AC: Huh.

DR: I don’t know, times change and people just lose interest in certain things that I remember. The old man died, which is John Heiner. It seemed like he was the spark plug that kept it going, he and his son Jack. (possibly John Heiner) Vance (Heiner) was mostly involved, to my recollection, in just the bowling alley when it was there. Rex (Heiner) he kind of ended up with the cabin area. They built a little motel there I think at one time, up by the road from where the cabins were. I don’t know if it’s still there or not.

AC: I think it is.

DR: It was a little brick one. I think there was three units or something there, not many just one little row of them. I just don’t know, I know as they started fading out they started selling the cabins and you could buy a cabin for I don’t know, five-hundred dollars or something like that. My cousin’s husband bought two of them. They are over there in Milton right now on their lot. They just moved them over there for storage units and different places. I think there is one over in Milton, over by where Mrs. Besinger, I don’t remember her name for sure. There is one that sets in a field over there right now. It’s a little white one, sets kind of back in a field. (Possibly Juanita Beasley at 475 N. Morgan Vly. Dr. The cabin has since been torn down in 2015)

AC: I think I know where it is.

DR: I think that was one, I don’t know where else moved them, some would add on to them and make them bigger and just use them for storage.

AC: Huh.

DR: I guess that about all I can think of to tell you.

AC: Do you have any other special personal memories of Como?

DR: Just the skating, I know with the beano stand there was a storage area in maybe about one-third of it, it was behind a curtain and there were shelves in front of the curtain where they displayed there candy and Cupie dolls and all that. In the back of that (area) was where the supplies and all that were stored. I could barely remember this, so I must have been three or four years old, my dad and mother would go up there at night to run it and they had built us a little bed in the back there, in the back of this curtain petition along the back part of it and we’d sleep back there until they got ready to go home. Which would be late after midnight after the dance was out. It was a big attraction in them days with dancing.

AC: You mentioned you were baptized there in the indoor pool. Do you remember a lot about that experience?

DR: I just remember that’s where I got baptized, the guy that baptized me was Croft, I think it was Rex Croft. I have it written down somewhere, I thought of it one-hundred times, but right now it has escaped me. He was a Croft, an elder by then and I’m eight years old. They baptized you up there then. Why they did it that much, I don’t know because in the North Morgan church house, down in the basement where the gym was they had a baptism font there. It was big enough that kids would swim in it so it was quite long, and they’d baptize you there but I didn’t get baptized there and I don’t know any of us that did that I can remember. It was just back there and it was full of water. Some people would relate how they’d get in there some way and go back there and swim, before my time I guess.

AC: Yes.

DR: No, that’s about all I can remember on it.

AC: That’s good, I think that’s all I had.

DR: No more questions huh?

AC: No.

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