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Paul Warner

Interviewed by: Adam Christensen

00:00 / 30:51

MORGAN COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY

COMO SPRINGS RESORT HISTORY PROJECT

May 18, 2010

Interviewee: Paul Warner

Interviewer: Adam Christensen, Weber State College student

Subject: Como Springs Resort

Transcriber: Cissy Toone

Edited by: Cheri K. Jensen and Linda H. Smith

Adam Christensen: My name is Adam Christensen. Today I’m going to interview Mr. Paul Warner at his home in Morgan on Tuesday, May 18th and we are going to be talking about the Como Springs Resort. First question is how were you connected to Como, what took you there?

Paul Warner: The main thing that took me there was the fact that there was some recreation that we could not get in community wise growing up during the depression and the early war years. This is a place that you could go and get various other types of recreation other than the sporting kinds of activities. Some of the things I remember about Como were the fact that they had a very nice swimming pool - in fact, two of them. One was an indoor and one was an outside pool. The thing that made the outside pool attractive was they had, for lack of a better term, a big water slide kind of thing like a roller coaster that you could climb up and come down on a little sled kind of thing, and go out across the water. This was always quite popular with the young people.

The water was warm as opposed to being extremely cold. You could go into Como earlier in the spring. Swimming was always probably the big attraction for day time of anything that was there. The inside pool was used besides swimming. I know this is where I was baptized. The indoor pool at Como was used besides swimming for other kinds of activities in the community. They also had in the (outdoor) swimming pool a great big top that you could get on, hold on, and pull to make it go around, and around; this is where you played king of the mountain. See who could stay on the longest. This was always fun because as you’d go to Morgan you had to keep in mind that you went to school with these kids. You knew them church wise, and school wise. Even though they weren’t your next door neighbor, they were, so to speak, your friends because you were acquainted with them. You could go there with other kids in the community. The swimming part of it was really very nice. I remember just to the south of the big swimming pool you could see a lot of fish. I’m assuming they were big fish. I’m assuming they were carp, or suckers. I can remember we would go to the side of the swimming pool, look over the fence, look down in those pools, and see those great big fish. That was an attraction all itself.

The other thing I remember – probably the first memory I have from going to Como as a young person was for the first time I’d seen cotton candy. This was sort of a novelty to watch them spin the sugar to come out in a form that you could actually pull chunks off & eat it. That was always fun to go there. They had at that time, two concession stands. One with hotdogs and hamburger kinds of things, the other would be with soft drinks, ice cream, and this cotton candy.

Not only was it open to all the people in our county but a lot of people would come from outside the valley and would come and spend the weekend. They had a large campground adjacent to where the bowling alley is now. [was] I guess the bowling alley is still there. (Bowling alley was destroyed by fire in 1980) There was a large camping area. People would come in and spend the weekends up in Morgan, and have a lot of fun there with families. A lot of family reunions were held at Como.

Over time the other big attraction was the roller skating rink. This was a lot of fun because for young people it was not closely supervised so you could do a lot of dumb kinds of things. You could play whip and all of these things out there. Not that they didn’t watch you but there wasn’t a lot of restrictions placed upon it. It was interesting too, after awhile the floor became uneven. So as you’d skate, you’d have the joys of going over these ripples effects like a washboard. They would have different things. They’d have you skate single, you’d go reverse, and you’d have partners and doubles, and all of these kinds of different things. That was always a good attraction for the younger people. That skating rink would turn on weekends. They would usually have live music. They would have a band up there. I’m trying to think of some of the bands and can’t remember. I know the one that was there that used to play a lot was the Milton Band, made up of people from the Milton Ward; the Anderson’s and I can’t remember. Anderson's was all I could remember. (Some of the band members were William, Frank, and Helen Anderson; Carl Olsen; Donald Sherman; and Kent Smith) It was always live music. It was not like the dances today - records and tapes, and these kinds of things - just a beat all their own. It was always fun!

You could go there, here again, it wasn’t necessarily that you went as dates, you went as groups. You would meet people there and have a good time. I don’t recall alcohol ever being a big problem there that they had to monitor; it may have gone on and I didn’t notice it. I didn’t ever feel it had a bad reputation that was drawing an element in there to drink and carry on. I didn’t ever notice this so I think they must have been pretty well monitored. Over time as we got older, as young people, you had to depend on your folks to take you there. I remember before I could drive we would often just thumb a ride. Go out thumbing for a ride to get to Morgan. Here again, gas was rationed so you’d go out…

AC: Where were you living?

PW: Right here.

AC: Oh, just right down here in Mountain Green?

PW: Yes, you’d just go out on US 30 [Old Hwy. Rd.] and thumb to Morgan, and get a ride. You’d get to Morgan and see somebody up there that was going your way, and you’d ask if you could hook a ride home, if you could get a ride home. Then as you begin to drive then of course, you could be more selective of the time you went, and the amount of time that you’d spend. It was a gathering place as far as I was concerned, for a lot of activities for young people. Like I say, until the war was over much of our recreation was within the confines of Morgan County. Once the war was over, and gas was not a problem, we begin to move for other places and spots. During this period of time it was probably the place to be, met a lot of friends and people there. They treated you well. They did a good job.

Over time the next thing, they had a merry-go-round up there too. It was the first time in my life that I had seen a merry-go-round in live action. To go up there as a young person I remember it was just a good thing to do, go around, and around on that merry-go-round. They had a large play area with swings, teeter-totters, and these kinds of things off to the side over by the camping area. People would come up, camp, and build big fires in the camp grounds, swim, and roller skate, or dance whatever the case might be on a given weekend.

Over time they brought in bowling up there. That went over big for quite a while. It was really a nice bowling alley. Here again, mainly the young people in the community would gather there for bowling activities more so than older people, as far as I can remember. Again, as the war ended and you could go beyond the confines of Morgan a lot of these things began to close down. They did not have the patronage they had before. Then they built the motel. I remember they built it with an idea of trying to attract people to come up spend a weekend at Como, and stay in the motel to swim, dance, skate, and all of these activities that where held there. That seemed to do quite well as far as I can remember.

As I grew older and high school came around we began to branch out. About this period of time, for some reason things began to decline somewhat. The money for maintenance or whether it was insurance or what - was very expensive to take care of liability. I’m not sure what but the pool needed attention. They eventually closed down the big slide that was on the end of the pool. They closed that down strictly because of accidents, and liability connected with that. You could go up and have swimming parties either on the outside pool or the indoor pool. You could take a group up. I don’t remember whether you had to make reservations or you just went there. They were good working with the community. The dances, eventually the floor began to deteriorate again, and the roller skating I know was hard on the floor.

AC: Yeah.

PW: It got beat up, and they did not take the money and time to put back into these kinds of situations to keep attracting people who had here to fore been going up there.

AC: Did you ever work up there?

PW: Never did, no.

AC: You just went for pleasure?

PW: It was mainly pleasure because at that period of time practically all the young people lived on a farm. You had chores to do so you’d go to Como after the chores were done or on a weekend. I now remember Sunday became an issue in our family. Do we go to Como on Sunday? As a teenager, I can remember mother saying unless you go to your church meetings and do these kinds of things, sacrament meeting was held at night at 8:00, the expectation was, “If you’re going to these places you will go after, and in between meetings.” "You’ll be back for your meetings." A lot of people grew up with that same idea. You attended your other responsibilities, and sort of went up there in between those times.

AC: You kind of talked a little bit about the day to day what you would see up there but from your point of view, how busy or how popular would you day Como was?

PW: As day to day I can remember it was very, very popular. A lot of people were there on weekends. Like I said, they would either come in on a Thursday or Friday, would spend a whole weekend there, and camp out; a lot of tents to the north and east of the bowling alley. It was a nice park. People would come up and bring their families so you had a lot of young people. I don’t remember, other than the merry-go-round, if there were other things, other than slippery slides and swings for the real young people. I don’t remember much of that.

AC: I was told there were little games. Not sure exactly when but there were games like where you throw a fishing pole.

PW: Oh fishing yes, and darts, that could have well been but I don’t remember that. There were buildings there that probably led to those kinds of things. For me to go to Como was a real treat because growing up on a farm your whole life centered around the farm. So when you had free time is usually when you would go to the resort. That would usually be in between hay crops, and your chores were done and these kind of things. As families we would go up on some special occasions. They would have special days in the county where farm groups, dairy groups, or something like this would go up and sponsor activities up there so you’d go at that period of time. As Como began to go downhill, then Lagoon picked up. Once you had been to Lagoon, Como wasn’t quite attractive as it had been before.

AC: Yeah.

PW: You’d rather go that direction and take a little longer that you would up here.

AC: Yeah.

PW: As it began to go downhill of course it became less and less attractive. It attracted some of the kinds of situations that weren’t the best. I don’t know financial, what the problem was financially if it indeed was a financial problem. Liability, I’m sure had to enter in and be a big issue to cover their costs and expenses if someone was injured there. It was sort of a sad day when it basically closed right down. You went to Como - the bowling alley stayed opened quite a while after everything else was shut down. They had the bowling leagues and the teams, and they’d go up there. That was really a nice facility. Eventually that closed down too, I guess, I don’t know.

AC: Yep, now they’ve actually demolished a lot. The other pools aren’t there anymore. There are a lot of buildings not there. I think the newer café is still there, then the skating rink that they turned into the bottled water.

PW: Oh really?

AC: Yeah.

PW: They used the water from the springs then to bottle?

AC: I think so I don’t know if that’s even gone though.  I know they’ve demolished them. The pools are gone, and most of the buildings are gone.

PW: See, that’s interesting. My wife and I go quite often to Crystal Springs. This is what’s happened up there. Crystal Springs has been taken over by a group of Koreans and they make their money by bottling the water and sending it back to Korea; more than the springs.

AC: I will have to check and see, I know for a long time they were bottling water there [at Como].

PW: That probably kept them going.

AC: Annie Heiner.

PW: Oh really!

AC: Yes.

PW: That sounds good.

AC: Something like that but I don’t know if they are still.

PW: Annie Heiner, yeah, that would be good.

AC: It’s pretty much gone no. My wife and I went for a walk up there a couple weeks ago, and it’s just fields.

PW: I know the last that I went up in there - had an occasion to go there just to drive through like you did, take a walk. There were a lot of trailer homes.

AC: There still is some.

PW: As you looked at them, they were not the best. So having been in the school business, we would get kids coming into the schools that lived in Como. Basically as they moved in everything else sort of left and moved out. That probably was the last ditch effort for them to try to recoup or make some money was they turned it into a trailer park, in my opinion.

AC: Could have been. Do you remember any special events, celebrations, or anything that took place there, other than holidays?

PW: I don’t. Holidays were big. The Fourth of July, and twenty-fourth of July, the period of time for me until such time as you were able to move out of Morgan. See the war ended in 1945. I graduated from high school in 1946. In 1945 all the ration kinds of things were taken off. So you could go beyond the confines of Morgan and not use up all your gas. It was a place to - like I say, a lot of young people going would just say, “Are you going to Como today, can I get a ride?” The kind of situation to get up there. You knew the people well enough, you felt comfortable asking, “How about a ride home?”

AC: So you had rations on gas during the war.

PW: Oh yes.

AC: I haven’t learned a lot about that. Who put the rations?

PW: The Government.

AC: The Government did?

PW: Yes, you were allowed so many gallons per automobile, and also tires were rationed. Between the tires rationing and you were allowed so many sets of tires for over a period of time. When you’d go into get gas, you may have the money but unless you have the gas stamps you couldn’t get any gas. So you’d have to take your ration book with you and they’d say, “Okay this will be ten dollars plus so many ration stamps.” Each rations stamp was worth so many gallons of gasoline. Unless you had those in place you could have all the money in the world it didn’t do you any good.

AC: It wouldn’t do you any good?

PW: You couldn’t get any gas.

AC: I heard of the ration cards and stamps like that.

PW: Oh yes, like sugar and a lot of other things were put on ration at the same time.

AC: During that time did you notice if many people from down below came at that time?

PW: I guess the attraction here over Lagoon was the fact that - I don’t recall Lagoon being able to go there and camp.

AC: Oh.

PW: This was the one thing that I noticed people coming in to Como. A lot would come in and spend a weekend.

AC: To camp?

PW: And camp. We had a small park down here (Mountain Green) during this same period of time in "The Wheel" that was always full on weekends. People getting out of the city just getting away coming up, and camping. ("The Wheel" was located at approximately 4925 W. Old Hwy Rd) This is where I think a lot of people came into Como for that very purpose of staying and spending time as a family.

AC: Okay, so [we] kind of talked about it a little bit, but why was it popular?

PW: Just a diversion - something else to do that you couldn’t get. During the war most of what happened in Morgan County was result of the churches. The church would sponsor this, and the church would sponsor that. Your whole life revolved around basically the activities of the church in your own ward. This was sort of going beyond that. Now in *Peterson, we had roller skating down here too, during this same period of time. The roller skating in Peterson - the young kids would go in the afternoon, and then married couples would go at night. This would be the big thing. It would be to get something just a little different. The swimming pool was an attraction too, to go up and swim - otherwise you went in the Weber River. Not the Weber River period, but the ponds that were around. If you learned how to swim it was usually in a pond. You were thrown in a pond, or thrown in the river. You either had the choice of either sinking or swimming, one of the two. I remember they had life guards around, they had to have.

*Note: The old Peterson school where the community could roller skate was located on US 30 (Old Hwy Rd.) which is now near the present location of the I-84 interchange, mile marker 95.5. The LDS Peterson Ward purchased the Peterson School from the Morgan County School district in 1937.

AC: At Como?

PW: Yes, and these were often times people you were acquainted with and knew. Most of the people that worked at Como I would say, you were probably acquainted with ninety-percent of those who would work in the concessions, running the ticket booths, or these kinds of things. Being from a farm, I didn’t at the time.

AC: Yeah. Do you remember, were like the prices and things, were they reasonable for back then?

PW: They had to be, yes. They had to be cheap because my first job off the farm at sixteen I got seventy-five cents an hour and that was a million bucks. You just thought you were in heaven. When you think, you could buy a loaf of bread for ten cents. I can’t remember how much it would cost to ride those.

AC: But it was reasonable?

PW: Yeah it was, made it so that when families came in it was affordable to them. Kids could participate. You could go in, as far as I can remember, you could swim all day. There were no restrictions on how long you wanted to stay. I don’t know whether you could get stamped and go back in or not.

AC: Yeah.

PW: I know there were no restrictions of how long you stayed in the pool, as I remember.

AC: Did you ever eat at the restaurant, the café there? There was one in the bowling alley, and I think there used to be one kind of by the little lake - the pond.

PW: I never did, no. We used to when we’d go bowling. We’d have usually a hotdog and drinks at the bowling alley. I can only remember once going up to the café and having a dinner. It was nice, it was well run. I’m trying to think who managed it. I don’t know. I don’t recall, it wasn’t the thing to do then. Do you know what I’m saying?

AC: Yeah, not eat. You didn’t go to eat. You’d go up there to play.

PW: Yeah, you’d go up to play. First you had to eat, so you’d have your hotdogs and hamburgers and things such as that, but it wasn’t to go up and have a big meal as a family. In fact as a family, we never did go up there and eat. We’d take our picnic lunches and these kinds of things and go out in the park.

AC: Did a lot of families take like - picnic up there?

PW: A lot of them, yeah. There’d be people that would go up, but like I say a lot of those would be spending the weekend. Some would go up just for the day, take a lunch and go up and spend the day up there.

AC: Okay.

PW: To sort of fill the void for those - a lot of people who didn’t feel comfortable in going into the churches for a lot of the recreation could go to Como. They could roller skate, they could dance and they felt at home. I don’t think it was a bad atmosphere until it started going downhill, then some of these elements moved in.

AC: You mentioned you were baptized there. Do you remember anything about that?

PW: Yeah, I remember it was cold.

AC: It was cold, the indoor pool?

PW: Yeah, it was cold in the indoor pool, and I don’t know why, but see, I turned eight in March and I wasn‘t baptized until I think it was October. I remember going in - we went in, were baptized, we wrapped a towel around us, and ran to the dressing room as fast as we could to get our clothes on.

I don’t know - I know I was baptized there but I don’t know whether it was a practice or not.

AC: I’ve actually interviewed a few people that were baptized there. I don’t know if you know Dean Rock.

PW: I do.

AC: He was baptized there, and Camille Wilde.

PW: That’s the same age as I. See you’re in my day in age.

AC: And I think Dan Sommers was baptized there too.

PW: Yeah, Dan, he’s younger. So it may have been the place to go. Otherwise they had the river. That would have even been colder.

AC: Yeah.

AC: Do you have any other memories, or do you remember any stories you have that you did there, or experiences?

PW: Well, I guess the thing that made it nice for young people. You weren’t restricted a lot, and you were expected to behave. On the roller skating rink, you did not just have to go around in a circle, then around and around and reverse. You were allowed to do things on your skates. You could do the whip, kind of things within reasons and bounds. The same thing in the swimming pools, there were things you did do but you weren’t just held down like they are today, so restricted that you feel like you don’t even want to be there.

AC: Yeah.

PW: You had more freedom there. I think that fact that maybe the reason why these stores stayed in line was that most people knew you, they knew your folks, and you knew them, so you behaved yourself.

AC: Yeah. We kind of talked about why we think it’s not here anymore. I don’t have any other questions. Do you have any other things you can thing of?

PW: No, just other than for Morgan people… Como, as far as I was concerned, was for Morgan people like Lagoon was down there. Until circumstances changed, then I’m quite positive, (Lagoon) began to be the attraction as they began to enlarge and expand with more concessions.  It began to pull the young people away from up here where we’d been content with the roller skating, dancing, merry-go-rounds, all of these kinds of things. It was more exciting to go down there. I’m sure that was part of the reason Como closed.

AC: Probably. Did you think the community and the county - did they support Como a lot?

PW: From my own observation I think they were pretty well supported by the county. By support, I mean going and attending, and participating in what was there. You’d see a lot of people there, a lot of friends. School wise, you’d see a lot of your friends there. You’d meet your friends and hang out with them for a little while. You couldn’t go anyplace else basically because, again, you were restricted where you went, how far you went from home.

AC: Do you think a place like that could be successful in Morgan today?

PW: I’m not sure. As far as the aquatic center that they are proposing now, I do not think we have the population to make it. I do not think we have the numbers required to make that a year around thing. I’m sure it would be connected with the schools. Schools that participated would benefit from that but I’m not sure. I would question that it would be feasible at this period of time. I know we went through this several years ago. A swimming pool issue and it was turned down then on the very same reason. Financially speaking, it would not pay for itself therefore, unless you wanted to subsidize with tax dollars then there wasn’t any way that you could make it. Where the big water slides and all of this are coming in now down below. What’s the name of the center in Ogden? What do they call that big Junction City?

AC: The Junction, yeah.

PW: Yeah, the Junction. Now you got the Junction, Lagoon, and you got the surf pool - what is it?

AC: Surf-n-Swim. Davis County just made a big aquatic center too, with basketball, a pool, and gym.

PW: I would say we would have a struggle with all of those to draw away from. It would have to be something different than…

AC: Kind of unique.

PW: Yeah, unique to Morgan, that’s not found down there. Otherwise I would see the young people going down there because of the variety. I don’t think we have the population that could afford it right now. Maybe it will as things happen in the County and all of these elements that go on when Snowbasin opens. Snowbasin is supposed to have a couple of golf courses and all of this up there. So as they grow and expand, I don’t know, it would just be a big guess.

AC: Is there anything else you can think of?

PW: No, I think it had its day. I enjoyed it there until I got older and could go on adventurous things. The dances became - the war and that got over. But they had a big dance hall in Ogden called “The White City” and they would bring in the big name bands. Instead of going to Como to dance to the local music and local artistry you’d go to "The White City" and there you’d dance to Harry James and Benny Goodman, and all of these would come through, so they began to pull away from Como. This created more problems for them.

AC: Alright.

PW: That’s about all I can tell you.

AC: Sounds good.

(End of Interview)

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