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RaeDell Giles

Interviewed by: Adam Christensen

00:00 / 45:23

MORGAN COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY

COMO SPRINGS RESORT HISTORY PROJECT

May 24, 2010

Interviewee: RaeDell Heiner Giles

Interviewer: Adam Christensen (Weber State University student)

Place of Interview: RaeDell Giles home-586 N. 700 E., Morgan

Subject: Como Springs Resort Experiences

Transcriber: Cissy Toone

Edited by: Linda H. Smith

Adam Christensen:  How were you connected to Como? As an example, did your parents take you there, did you work there?

RaeDell Giles: My grandfather was the owner [of Como] so I learned at a very early age to work there. By the time we were old enough to turn a key in a locker we were working.

AC: Okay.

RG: Sometimes for twenty-five cents a day.

AC: Twenty-five cents a day?

RG: Uh huh.

AC: What kind of jobs did you do?

RG: When we first started we were what they called key boys [or girls] that were at the swimming pool. They had lockers (small individual rooms) at that time, you’d go in, close the door, take your clothes off, change your into your suit, and come out. You had a lock and I had a key that would go and unlock it. [the locker door]

AC: Okay.

RG: We did that both for the men and women’s side.

AC: Alright, did you have any other jobs up there that you did?

RG: I did, I set pins in the bowling alley when I was big enough to. They were the old manual kind. You’d put each pin in the rack, then push it down. You had to be very careful because sometimes you could get hit by a pin when they rolled the ball down the alley. I did that [worked in the bowling alley] off and on. I also, by the time I was sixteen I worked in the…well I worked in the hotdog stand before that. My mother was one of the ones that did the hotdog stand and the concessions. My uncle Vance (Heiner) was in the, what we called the beer stand at that time, and the pop stand. It was connected to the bowling alley and the café.

AC: Okay.

RG: Then I worked in the hotdog stand. By the time I was sixteen, I became a life guard at the pool. After oh…I worked there for a couple of years and the one summer I saw the fence… They had a fence that went against the hill I should say, where the road is at the top. They had a chain link fence and I seen lightning hit the end of it (the fence) and lit that whole fence up just like a hot plate.

AC: Oh really?

RG: One time I was life guarding, I didn’t notice…well back then we didn’t think a lot of the lightening, but there were still a few adults in the pool. It was kind of raining but not really hard, sprinkling. I was leaning up against the windows in the suit-stand by the swimming pool there. There were metal frames [on the windows] and there was a gap maybe about an inch between them. They were not right solid. The lightening hit that [flat metal roof]. I had my hip up against that window with my one foot up against the wall. The lightening hit that, [roof] came down, went in my hip and out the bottom of my foot, and threw me like a whole window length past the door. [I had two red marks, one on my hip and one on the bottom of my foot.]

AC: Wow!

RG: I remember that, I had charley horses that were very bad that whole day.

John D. (Heiner) my older brother was one of the managers of the pool. My grandfather lived to be eighty-five years old and would still go to Como and work just about every day. It was a very busy place. I remember they used to park out on the other side of the river bridge and walk in because there were so many people. The skating rink was turned into a dance hall, the center was for dancing and the rest was the skating rink. I also worked in the skating rink. I learned to skate, I wasn’t by any means a professional but I could skate frontwards and backwards both, that was always fun. I had some really good experiences there [at the skating rink] and at the pool. I met a lot of nice people. The hardest thing was to keep people from running. (in the pool area)

AC:  Around the pool?

RG: The one experience I did have that was really scary. John D., thank goodness was there at the time. There were people that came from Salt Lake. The fellow came down the slide and if you just hit it at a certain angle, I guess… I don’t know, I seen lots of them kind of get to the bottom then flip. He got to the bottom and flipped all right but hit his ear on the edge of the slide. It laid his ear open clear to there… and it just laid across his face. His family was coming up the next day and he would not let John D. take him to the doctor. I don’t ever know what happened if he ever did go the next day, I can’t remember. I worked also in the little merry-go-round, the air planes that were there, we all just took our turn.

AC: Doing it all?

RG: We just grew up doing it. We also had some good times learning to swim. I wasn’t really what you call a good diver, I could do a dive off the low dive, but I never did learn to dive off the high dive, mainly because there was about five or six older kids that was my brother's age, he was four years older than I am. They threatened me one day that I was going to go off that diving board. They were coming at me at all ends and I went off, did a belly flop, and never tried it again. I could jump off it and it didn’t bother me but not dive.

I was not a diver. I had a lot of good times; there were some sad times too. When the café burned down, that was really hard on us.

AC: Yeah, when you were struck by lightning what did you do after it all happened?

RG: They just brought me home and gave me some stimulants. I credit them for me not liking coffee and tea because of them because they tried to give me coffee and it made me deathly sick.

RG: Yet I love the smell of coffee. When I was in the hot dog stand, it wasn’t closed in it was open with shutters kind of like at the fairgrounds type of thing. To be up there when it rained, to have the rain come down, the smell of that coffee I loved it but just don’t ever give it to me. I can’t handle coffee or tea. (Laughs)

RG: It just took awhile for that to get out of my legs. I won’t say that it came completely… I’m very sensitive to electricity or shocking. When I was going to beauty school we had these electro rods, it’s like a hand for massaging in the scalp. This was just a normal thing for the instructor to have the girls stand in a circle, hold hands, and she’d hold the one end of the rod and someone else would hold the other end. You could feel that go through the girls’ hands when they turned it on. It put me right on my knees.

AC: Really?

RG: Uh huh, so I can well contribute it to that. [being struck by lightning]

AC: It still has effects on you huh?

RG: I went back to life guarding. I was very fortunate. I think it could have been a lot worse.

AC: Yeah, did anyone ever, while you were life guarding, was there any situations where people drowned?

RG: No, I pulled a lot of little kids out of the little pool but no, we were very fortunate. At one time I do think there was someone that was having problems in the ten foot. I didn’t see him. John D. seen from the suit stand and next thing I knew, he had run down the side and jumped in and got him.

AC: …and got him.

RG: He (John D. Heiner] had life guarded for a long time too and he was great to have there.

AC: Tell me about some of the day to day events that went on there [at Como] if I went there on a weekend what would I see?

RG: Well along time ago you’d see an awful lot of people waiting in lines, people used to come from all over. [You would see] the swimming pool, the roller rink, and Hal {Heiner} had a boat he put on the little pond and would take them for boat rides. You’d see kids over there playing, trying to catch little fish, minnow’s. Is that what they're called?

AC: Uh huh.

RG: I know that a lot of people had reunions back in the grove. There was two closed in boweries, they’d have reunions there. There was time that there weren’t any picnic tables at all open.

AC: They were all full?

RG: Yes

AC: Huh, they would be waiting in lines for…food?

RG: To get into the pool, to get into the roller rink. I can remember when there were times all the shoe skates were completely out so people just had to wait. I can’t really tell you, I can’t even remember the price of what it cost to go, two-dollars; back then it wasn’t very much when I was working.

AC: It was pretty reasonable?

RG: Yeah

AC: Do you remember any special events or activities that were held there,(at Como) like maybe did any organizations or groups come, or anything like that?

RG: No, I can’t think of anything right now.

AC: What about holidays? I’ve heard holidays were very busy.

RG: Very busy, yes.

AC: I imagine you were there for some of the Fourth or July.

RG: Uh huh.

AC: Could you maybe tell me a little about what went on there on the Fourth of July?

RG: They would have fireworks and just the same thing that went on during the day and I’m trying to think.

AC: How were the fireworks? Like where did they shoot those off from?

RG: Actually I think if I remember right, they used to shoot them off from above the pool.

AC: Like up on the hill?

RG: Yes

AC: Okay, would a lot of people from out of town come up on the Fourth of July to see the fireworks and all that stuff?

RG: Yes, they’d come and spend the day.

AC: Why do you think Como was popular, what made it successful?

RG: Well, I think the main thing, the water was eighty degrees to swim in.

AC: That’s warm.

RG: That makes a difference. It’s a little hard for me to go in these other pools, and yet I don’t like to swim in a really hot, heated pool. But, the first time I went to Lagoon I thought I would freeze right to death. I think the water even though… then they had to start using the chlorine in it, then people would say… in fact the one thing that a lot of people, they knew it was clean. They would drain that pool every week and scrub it down with wire brushes right down to the bottom of the ten foot, then they’d have to fill it up again. There was never the same water, the water came into the pool from the spring and went out into the boat pond, so there was never the same water. (circulating)

AC: How did that work with the indoor pool? Did it go into the indoor pool?

RG: You know, I don’t know that, Hal (Heiner) might be able to tell you. I do know that they worked for a long time trying to control it. In between, there was a small pool, the slide pool, and a walk way going down. Under that walkway they had the controls to control the water coming in and going out. So they could control it to shut it off. A lot of people would say it [the water] would get slimy but I think sometimes the more people that were in it, it seemed like the more it would, I don’t know, I didn’t notice it.

AC: Yeah

RG: I know that towards the end, that was a lot of the complaints. I even helped clean some of the pools.

AC: How long would it take them to drain it, then fill it back up?

RG: They would start draining it on…they’d always clean it on Monday night so they’d have to start draining it probably Sunday night. You could still go play in it as it was draining down. By the next day…next Tuesday afternoon it would be filled back up.

AC: It took just a day in between…

RG: Yeah

AC: …to clean it out good and fill it back up?

RG: Uh huh.

AC: What were some of the main attractions that would bring people from the other valley, Ogden, Salt Lake?

RG: It [Como] was just a cool place to come. It was cooler up there, it would be so hot in the city and… I don’t know, I never thought about that. It was just Como, they used to hold dances, that’s where they would hold proms and different things.

AC: Did schools from down below come up?

RG: No, just the…

AC: Just the high school here?

RG: …high school here.

AC: Okay

RG: From my understanding, that was before I…

AC: I’ve read in a lot of newspapers that a lot of church groups from Ogden, Centerville, and Davis County would come and spend the weekend.

RG: Yeah, they could pitch tents, camp, they had little cabins, then they built a motel let’s see… probably…I can’t remember if they built that before John D. graduated. They build the motel and it’s still there today.

AC: Yeah

RG: Of course Uncle Rex (Heiner) and his family lived in the first motel, it was more like a home. (apartment was part of the hotel) People could…I really don’t know how they rented those out because I was never on that. They’d do it from over in their house, they would handle that.

AC: How many cabins were there about?

RG: I think at one time there was close to twenty. There might have been more than that.

AC: I’ve heard… trying to look through stuff over at the Library, it seems like there was maybe twenty to thirty, somewhere in between.

RG: Uh huh, and I think there was ten in the motel.

AC: Ten rooms?

RG: Ten rooms, yeah

AC: Did those stay very busy, do you remember?

RG: They did years back then they got so they were run-down but there were a couple people…now Frank and Marlene Lowe lived in one up there. Lyle and Sharon (Porter) lived in one when they first got married, he probably told you.

AC: Yes, and I know ODriscoll’s lived in one.

RG: Odriscoll’s lived in the house next to the pool and across from the hotdog stand.

AC: Okay.

RG: Then there was a home behind the roller skating rink and there were different people that would live in there.

AC: Why do you think, just your opinion, on why Como (Resort) is not here anymore.

RG: Well I think the main thing, the insurance got so high. People started doing more boating, and going other places. I think in the summer more vacation…I mean finding other places to go. But the insurance, I know one thing the insurance got so high. The one thing that kept it going year round was the café and you couldn’t go any place and find better meals than you could get there.

AC: What kind of meals did they serve?

RG: Oh anywhere from prime rib down to hamburgers, Aunt Leone, (Heiner) she had the best fried shrimp, halibut; you couldn’t beat the halibut. That was before I think a lot of halibut was served in restaurants. Rex (Heiner) cooked the steaks and it was very good.

AC: Now was he the one that cooked in the Navy then came home and did the…

RG: Yeah, and opened the restaurant.

AC: I think brother Sommers told me about that.

RG: Yes he did.

AC: Then Lyle, he told me about the special, the Como special hamburger.

RG: Oh yeah, the Como Special got their name.

AC: That’s neat they still serve that over at the fair. You can get a special.

RG: At the Drive Inn.

AC: Oh yeah, you can over here too?

RG: Yeah, you can get the one at the Drive Inn. There were a lot of people that would come up just to have a hot dog or a hamburger. You know, just to come and eat because it was a very good meal, then part of it was a restaurant, part of it was a bar. They had a lot of… so they kind of served both [kinds of] people.

AC: Yeah, now I remember even when I was little I think everything was closed down but the restaurant, it was a newer restaurant. They kept that going for quite awhile.

RG: Yes

AC: When did that close? I remember going there when I was little with my parents.

RG: I can’t remember how many… Tuff, (Heiner) and Roger, (Heiner) tried to keep it open for quite awhile. I don’t know how long, it’s probably been a good, boy, I can’t remember for sure how long. It’s been in the last, I’d say, I’m trying to think how old his kids are.  She would be around 18. They probably left here when she was 10 or 11. So it's in the last ten or fifteen years.

AC: Okay, Do you have any other memories, events, or anything, any experiences you had that you’d like to share either at the pool, skating rink, or the restaurant? Do you remember any funny things that happened or exciting things?

RG: It was just a fun place to go and my kids learned to… Well, I was working and I knew my kids needed to learn how to swim. If I let them go up there without me; there was always a life guard but you know? There were swimming lessons every year but I got… especially with Robert (Giles) I took him down to Ogden for about five weeks so he could learn to swim because he was the youngest. There was eight years between him and Zana (Giles Wood) and Stan (Giles) is three years older than Zana. They were old enough to take him [Robert] up there and go swimming so they could swim too. I would take him down. [for lessons] It was just a fun place where kids learned to swim and to be able to go. You could ride your bikes up there and not have to worry about them. A lot of kids rode their bikes and you didn’t have to worry about them.

AC: What do you think made it (Como Resort) that type of atmosphere where it was just a fun place to be, what caused that?

RG: Well, I think the type of people that came for one thing, there was always a good group of people. Then just like anything else the people started coming in that kind of spoiled it too. You couldn’t kick them out. I do remember the one time when racism was going on. I was life guarding at the time. Grandpa had a sign up there and if any… he would have pulled it down saying they couldn’t swim. I can’t remember for sure what it said but, then I was glad to see that lifted. I had a hard time.

AC: So they wouldn’t let…who was it?

RG: Blacks

AC: They wouldn’t let blacks swim. I think Brother Dan Sommers, he told me a little story about that too. It would have been with all the racist stuff, there would have been a problem with for business. I would have never thought that in Morgan.

RG: You know I had never been around any blacks and we are so sheltered here.

AC: That’s why I couldn’t imagine.

RG: Even people coming, the few that came [who where] black, they were fine walking around about. The first time I had any dealing or even anything close with a colored person was when I went to Weber College, I had this black girl in a sewing class, and I went oh okay, now that was pretty bad, I was pretty sheltered.

RG: I think the people were really what made it what it was. It (Como) was a fun, clean place to go. Just a nice place, people would drive up from down below just to have an ice cream cone, hamburger, or something.

AC: Was it [Como Resort] very hard to keep clean, that big of an area?

RG: No it was always constant. I mean they had to work at it seven days a week; get up, sweep all sidewalks, pick up all the garbage, even up through the grove of trees.

AC: What would they do during the winter?

RG: John D, I think worked at the garage with my dad most of the time. I know he went to the University of Utah after he graduated.[from high school] Most of it was just all the people’s [owners] families that worked.

(End of side A)

(There's a long pause on side B, some of the interview may not have recorded)

AC: So the café, was it open all winter?

RG: Ya, it opened all winter, then also at that time they had the mink over on the farm; they’d go over and help.

AC: Now the mink were they up…where was it located?

RG: Just below the "M"

AC: Okay, so up kind of by where Wilkinson’s is?

RG: Uh huh, it was before you got to Wilkinson’s. You would come up, the mink sheds, Lyle has the mink sheds. I don’t know if they ever tore all those ones down that…

AC: I know there are some sheds still there, but I don’t know if that's the same area.

RG: Yeah, that’s it.

AC: Is that where they had the fox farm too?

RG: Yes, that’s where they had the fox farm, that’s what is started out to be.

AC: Foxes?

RG: Uh huh.

AC: Any other memories?

RG: I can’t think.

AC: It’s alright, I’m just out of questions so…

RG: I can’t think what…oh, I know; it was really a hard time the year John D. died. It was in 1956 in May. They used to have schools come up from down below like before school let out. I was going to Weber State at the time. He came over to the house before he went to Como. It was a Friday, I think, to get my little forty-five records so he could have some music for them. He told me I needed to get up because it was time for me to get ready for school. By ten o’clock he had come in from outside and just fell over the counter. They rushed him to the hospital and he… I went down, and back then you couldn’t go in and see him or anything but they had him very sedated and he never did come out of it. By Tuesday, they went in and did what they called a dye test, which now is they go in and check the corroded arteries in your neck. There was no blood that they could see, by Tuesday morning he passed away. They felt like it was a cerebral hemorrhage at the base of his brain.

AC: Huh.

RG: That was really hard, life goes on, and Como opened just the same as usual. It was hard after that, it seemed like because he took a lot of the…

AC: He did a lot of work or there.

RG: Ya, he did a lot of the work. I think it was really hard on my dad. It was really hard on Uncle Rex, [Heiner] and my grandpa. I remember grandpa saying, “I’ve lived a good life, and he’s [John D.] just a young man, I should have been the one to go.” He [John D.] had a three month old daughter and a three and one-half year old son, and grandpa lived to be eighty-five years old.

AC: How old was John?

RG: Twenty-three.

AC: Oh, younger than me.

RG: I also have a cousin that died from the same thing. My aunt Wahnetah, (Heiner) which would be my dad’s sister, her daughter, Charlene, my cousin died from the same thing at about the same length of time.

AC: Wow!

RG: Then John D’s daughter, MaryAnn who was three months old when he died, had one [a hemorrhage] about five, maybe it’s been six or seven years ago, but they know enough that they could go in and take care of it and she’s just fine.

AC: Wow!

RG: She’s got along wonderful, she really has. In the process of the test, they put a dye in,  and if the dye had gone any further on the left side it could have permanently blinded her. If it would have gone any lower on the right side (one or the other) it would have killed her. She just don’t remember a lot of things like she’d like to but she’s done marvelous. She’s had eight children, seven boys and one girl.

RG:  She’s a miracle I’ll tell you. That [John D’s death] was hard. It seems like the people that came from down below would stay in the cabins, in the grove, or in a trailer; well they didn’t have a lot of trailers then, they had tents. They would be the ones that came back [to Como Resort] each year and they’d bring some friends.

AC: Did you get to know people like that between every year from down below,

RG: I did, yep

AC: Recognize them when you saw them and stuff like that?

RG: Uh huh, yeah.

AC: Okay, when do you think [it] was when it [Como Resort] started to decline until it eventually closed, was it all of a sudden or did it just kind of slowly?

RG: It just slowly went.

AC: When do you think that started roughly?

RG: I can’t think…of course I wasn’t working there at the time…ya know I just really can’t think.  I know the kids were….they used to go up there all the time when they were growing up. Robert [Giles] is forty so it’s been quite awhile.

RG: I’d have to get into my stuff and look and see when the fire was and probably you’ve got that information.

AC: I’ve got some when the fires happened and stuff like that. I’m out of questions, do you have any other memories or anything?

RG: I can’t think…I think we just grew up working. I learned to work hard and really enjoy it. We were always around people and we did it as a family. I remember that on Sunday’s we’d go to church at ten o’clock. It seems like it [Como] would open at noon. We’d get out of church then come back at night and go to sacrament meeting. That’s when they had the spilt sections and not the blocks. Then a lot of times after the pool would close a bunch of us would get together and go swimming. They’d let us in and we’d go swimming. We had some good times.

AC: There were a lot of baptisms held in the indoor pool, do you know anyone? [who was baptized]

RG: No, I don’t know anyone.

AC: Do you remember ever seeing one [a baptism] there?

RG: No.

AC: Okay, I know a few people that I’ve interviewed were [baptized at Como] and I was just wondering if you had seen any.

RG: No, I don’t remember any. Another thing I never did, was ever see my mom and dad in a swimming suit.

AC: Oh really.

RG: As much as they were up there twenty-four seven; no, never.

RG: My dad had typhoid fever right after they got married, a month later and he about died. He was in quarantine for one year. I do remember seeing his legs once and they had scars on them from the fever. That’s probably why. [he never wore a swimming suit] I’m not saying that they couldn’t swim, but I never did. [see him]

AC: He never swam huh?

RG: Nope. I know aunt Leone (Heiner) did and uncle Rex (Heiner) would go after the pool closed. I’m trying to think, I know they used to have some concerts up there. The band, the High School Band would play on the Fourth-of-July and have some concerts, but I can’t think of any big names you know, of people that would. [play in bands]

AC: Just all local?

RG: Ya, mostly all local.

AC: Did they get a lot of support here from the local’s?

RG: I think so, yes I think there was a lot that…I know there was a lot that were very good swimmers, very good divers. I’m sure this [Como] is where they learned to do it; not with teachers, they just learned their selves. It seemed like that’s all we did was learn these things ourselves. Some could do it, some couldn’t. I do remember the old pool, they had like a band stand that was out in the pool area and they’d hold the concerts out there.

AC: The High School Band?

RG: Uh huh, or there was a local group that played together, it was a small ensemble.

AC: I’ve heard, was there like a baseball… or a little park…did they play baseball games back in the… I don’t know if I heard…

RG: Back in the Grove, yes.

AC: Did they have games there or was it just kind or for recreation?

RG: Just for recreation as far as I know.

AC: Okay

RG: They could have earlier.

AC: It seems… espessially reading through a lot or the old newspaper articles, baseball was a pretty big thing.

RG: Yes

AC: A lot bigger than it is today.

RG: Uh huh, yeah they had some really good teams. Morgan had a really good team. I think it was just not Morgan. I think Richville had a team, Devil’s Slide…

AC: Croydon.

RG: Croydon, yes each little area had their own and they made the recreation. And they’d play horse shoes, a lot of people enjoyed playing the horse shoes. So that’s…

RG: You know and you just, at the time I was doing it [working at Como] it was just part of growing up and part of our life. That’s all, that's what we did. I never ever remember going on a vacation with my mom and dad because we were always was working. I think it was Sheila, (Jones) she went with grandpa, mom, and dad and they went up to Yellowstone one summer. Whenever it was, it was when that dam broke and the week before they were standing on the steps of that dam, the Hebkin Dam. (Hebgin Dam)

AC: I don’t know, I never heard that

RG: They were standing there and the next week it broke. I think that was it, I’ll have to ask Sheila.

AC: She lives in Henefer, isn’t she a Jones? I have her on my list to contact too.

RG: Yeah, she could probably tell you more than I can too. She would probably remember a lot. She’s got a good memory.

AC: It there anyone else that would be good, that I could visit with that you might know of?

RG: Have you talked to Hal? (Heiner)

AC: I’ve got him on my list but I’m still trying to contact him.

RG: Yeah, Hal would be good. Roger and Tuff aren’t here, and they probably wouldn’t do it.

(End of interview on side B)

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