Chapter 12: Gus O'Barr
The Augustus Barto O'Barr and Lola May Peppers Family
HTML Version 2.0
copyright 1995 by Gerald L. O'Barr
Gus's words, as written down by Edith DePriest O'Barr, wife of Gus O'Barr.
Remarks in italics are made by Gerald L. O'Barr
Augustus Barto O'Barr, Jr.
I was born in a two room adobe house, 21 Dec 1909, at 8 PM, at 700 W. Broadway where lettuce packing sheds are now standing. The road was known as Creamery road because of a creamery not far from our house. My mother, Lola May Peppers, was 35 years old and my father, Augustus Barto O'Barr, was 47. I was the ninth child born to them. My father had been married to Sarah Francis Mulhildy Pollard and they had three children: Jessy Walter who died at 18 months of age, born in Greenbrier, Arkansas; and Andrew Franklin; they moved to Muldro, Oklahoma, where Joseph Henry was born and the mother died at his birth.
Father and mother married 18 Dec 1890. The following children were born to them in Atkins, Arkansas: Susan Idella, Benjamin Arthur, John Williams who lived one year, Lewis Austin, Dora Benton, and Parley Parker. Then moving to Mesa, Arizona: Bertha Ann who lived one year, Alice Annette, and Augustus Barto. Then father died when I was two months old and mother married Andrew Benton Clevenger in Jan. 1913. They had three children, Ruth who died at birth and Lola Frances and Ernest Andrew Clevenger.
My first memories are of walking with my brother Arthur to the creamery to buy cheese for our family and whey to feed our pigs. I remember our horse Old Babe kicked me and broke my arm when I was four years old. A doctor Openshaw set it. I remember the excitement of buying new horses, a studebaker wagon and provisions for outfitting the family for a long trip to St. George, Utah to do temple work. This was in the spring of 1915. Kate and Neil were the horses, they pulled a light spring wagon, Babe pulled the four wheeled buggy, another horse was Old Blue.
Ida had married so didn't go with us. Those making the trip were my parents, Arthur, Lewis, Dora, Parley, Alice and myself. There were three other families, Cooper, Kaze, and Merrill. Each had several horse drawn vehicles. The first day's travel we followed along the rail road and arrived at the Phoenix Fairgrounds on W. McDowell. The second day took us to Peoria, third day to Morristown, fourth day to Wickenburg then through a desert of Josua trees which we would burn at night. We had a big canvas about 30 feet square. We would tie each corner up off the ground and make our beds on it. This kept the snakes and skunks etc. from bothering us, we often saw their tracks up to the canvas the next morning.
We averaged 20 miles a day, depending on the sand or mud, some days we made better milage. We cross the colorado river at Parker, on a ferry, called Griggs Ferry. The third or fourth day from the river we were out of water, the wells we found were dry. We unloaded the light wagon, put barrels in it and the older boys and the youngest team of horses went back after water. They took turns sleeping, it was a non stop trip. They brought enough water back that we made it into Las Vegas Nevada.
We camped at the edge of town and several kids came out and asked us when the circus was to begin. Sometimes we stayed a few days at the camps to repair equipment and buy supplies. We kids who were too small to help with making camp would explore the country. Old Ruster, our dog, would always accompany us. We would build little fires and roast ground squirrels which we killed with rocks. Parley and Paul Kaze got into an old mine and rode the ore car into it too far, they finally got out quite bruised and barely caught up with the wagon train as it was leaving.
One day we traveled the wrong direction and had to come back to the camp we had been the night before. One day we found a loaf of bread which we devoured, it was so good after eating so many biscuits and bacon, some days our water and food were rationed. We found an old boot and there was a buried body connected to it which frightened us. We enjoyed the camp fires at night. I remember some of the towns, Search Light, Needles and Parker, Littlefield and Runkerville. We forded the Virgin river two times. In five weeks we arrived at St. George, Utah. We camped at an apple orchard belonging to a Bishop Cannon.
We stayed several weeks and did temple work. I remember the winding stairs in the temple. Coopers and Merrills came back to Mesa. The Kaze family went to Cedar City and our family went to Enterprize where we share cropped grain on the Holt ranch. We had a nice house there and lots of apple trees, ice in an ice house holding sawdust which the ice was packed in. The grain crop was a mile or two from our house, we little kids would carry the lunches to our older brothers while they worked.
We stayed for the one crop at Enterprize then moved to Cedar City to be with the Kaze family. There was no railroad near so we hauled freight from Lund, the railroad center, to Cedar City Utah mercantile stores. We made good money. Lola Frances was born there in April 1916. We stayed two years, baled hay with a baler that used horses, I rode the horses to keep them going round and round. Parley and Lewis worked and we often had cheese and crackers for our lunch. I saw my first snow fall there.
Frank Harvey, a family friend visited us in new cars and talked the family into going back to Mesa as cotton was the crop which was paying good. We started back to Mesa and took about the same route as we had gone. We had rented our little house in Mesa so we went to Laveen about thirty miles south west of Mesa. The Kaze family went with us. We lived in tents and an old house and drank water from a ditch. Parley, Dora and Lewis all took Typhoid Fever from the water and Lewis died, nineteen years old, May 1917. He was buried in the Mesa cemetery near Dad. We moved back to Mesa into our own house on Creamery road, now Broadway. Ernest was born on Christmas day, 1919.
I had started school in Cedar City, went awhile in Laveen then to Alma School on Alma School Road into the first grade but was sent to the second grade shortly after starting. I graduated with a diploma from the eighth grade at Alma School, 1925. We walked to school along the railroad tracks. There was a Wallace family who lived in tents on Extension road, they had no mother, five boys and one girl. Paul Wallace was my friend. One time while teetering on a new rail along the tracks, I fell and gouged a big hole in my shin. This left a big scar. It bled a lot so I tied my hanky around it. My sock was full of blood and I remember Mom about fainted when she saw it.
I started Mesa High School in 1925, graduated in 1929. Ninety in my class was the biggest class up to then. Science and Physics were my favorite subjects. I was in a play "House of Seven Gables," played basketball and drove the school bus. Was paid a dollar a day for driving the bus. During my third year, they passed a law that the drivers had to be 21 so I lost my job. I ran the ice cream and sandwich shop in the basement of the school next to the cafeteria. I earned my dinner each day doing this.
When I was a sophomore and only 16, I joined the National Guard and would go to summer camps. Fort Bliss near El Paso, Texas, in August 1926, was my first experience. It was a thrill for me to ride around the big city on street cars. I was doing this when I heard the great movie star, Rudolph Valentino had died. This was also my experience for my first train ride, Pullman car, sleeping in a good bed on our way to El Paso. We would go across the border into Old Mexico to sight-see. I was a gunner corporal, firing a 75 millimeter gun. Every thing was horse drawn. I spent two summers at Fort Bliss, two summers near Flagstaff at Fort Tuthill and several summers at Fort Huachucha.
In 1927 we moved from near the ice plant on Broadway, which is now named 4th Avenue, to a big yellow house on S. Alma School road about one block from Broadway on the East side. I was ordained a Deacon at twelve years of age and was an active Boy Scout. Bill Davis and Harvey Pew and Bill Millett were my Scout Masters. I remember wiener roasts and hamburger fries with them and of walking from Val Vista Road east of town, where the desert started, to Blue Point on the Salt River and camping over night. Cars came after us to bring us home. Boys and girls had MIA (The church's Mutual Improvement Association) summer camps of one week, all together in the Pinal Mountains south of Globe and in the Sierra Anchas at Lewis Lodge ten miles this side of Young. I went several times.
I remember our Christmases. We always had a duck or turkey for dinner. I remember getting a pocket knife and an Ingersoll watch. Ida married before I was born, so her son John and Maye and Bertha were more like my brother and sisters. Frank had left home before I was born. Joe worked for the railroad and was not living at home. Frank came home after the First World War for awhile before he married again. Dora married while I was still in grade school. Arthur lived at home until I went to Provo to BYU. Alice lived at home and attended Tempe Normal and obtained a teaching permit after two years. She taught school at Sasabe on the Mexican border and in Tucson then home and taught at the Alma School. Alice married a few months after I did, in 1935. Parley had left home shortly after he finished the eighth grade and had worked a year on ranches around Mesa, driving milk trucks, etc. and came home on weekends. He went to Los Angeles to be near Frank. Lola married in June of 1932. Ernest in October 1939.
When I graduated from High School in May 1929, I helped with our melon harvest on our own eight acres. Mr. Clevenger, our step father, grew cantaloupes. I helped him harvest them every summer.
Sister Dora and George had summer vacation with us and I went home with them my first winter after finishing High School. I worked nights in the Eagle Pitcher Mines Smelter at Ruby, Arizona. I ran a rock crusher, slept days in a mine behind their house. It was dark and cool. I also was running a pool hall. I made $3.50 a day and gave $1.00 a day for room and board. At Christmas, I quit both jobs, thinking I had all the money I would ever need. I came home to Mesa and bought my first car, a 1927 Model T Ford, a roadster.
I worked in the hay fields and lettuce harvests then went up the coast to Salinas to work in another lettuce harvest. This was in 1930. I took my car and friends Paul Wallace and Ted Harrington. We also worked thinning peaches in Merced, California. When this job was over, we went back to Salinas and worked in an apricot orchard. After this job, I and Ted came back to Mesa in time to go to National Guard camp in August. Then back to California to Los Angeles and lived with brother Frank and Ethel and worked for Newberry Electric with brother Parley as my boss. We worked on Ventura Blvd, Hollywood and half way to Santa Barbara installing street lights. When we finished them, we worked down town Los Angeles in a million dollar theater installing electric conduits.
At Christmas time, I came back home. John Verney, Ida's son, my nephew, had returned from a mission and he talked me into going to Provo to BYU, the fall of 1933. In the Spring previous, I worked irrigating for the farmers for one dollar for a twelve hour shift and ten cents an hour working in the hay fields then on the lettuce sheds for twenty five cents an hour which was good pay. I was able to stay at BYU for only one quarter, it was depression so I came at Christmas. I worked in the Spring lettuce harvest then went to El Central, California, and worked in their lettuce. Came back to Mesa and found work in Mesa Citrus Plant. This was 1934. I spent August again at National Guard Camp at Fort Huachucha. This was my last camp after eight years in the national Guard.
Friends of mine knew Edith's sister's friends and they got us together for a blind date the first of September, 1934. She lived in a duplex on the corner of N. McDonald and First St. where the County Complex offices are now. We went to a dance out on East main and Val Vista, it was called Reeb's Corner. We danced and to make it necessary that I see her again, I gave her my wrist watch. I told mother that night after the date that I had met the girl and her name was something like Judas Priest. I was 24 and she was 16.
My cousin Clifford Peppers came to Mesa and talked me into going back to Los Angeles to work again so I stayed with Frank and worked for Newberry Electric again until December. Met Edith again on my birthday at the Rondevous dance and took her home. From then on it was dating nearly every night. I would walk from my house on S. Alma School Road to her house then we would walk to the Nile Theater which was in the building where Western Savings on Main St. now stands. One night in front of the show, standing in line for tickets, I fainted. I was in bed for awhile after that with the flu. Edith wondered why I never showed up the next week.
On some of our dates, I drove Alice's car, a 1934 Chevrolet sedan, she was living at home teaching school. We would go to a show in Phoenix and sometimes eat at a Chinese restaurant down town. In the spring of 1935, I worked in Phoenix shipping lettuce from sheds on Grand Ave. Then back to Mesa sheds for their lettuce harvest. I bought a 1930 Chevrolet coupe, one seat, and worked in the plum orchards owned by Hovde out south east of Mesa. The first day of July, we drove to Globe and was married by Erqstus P. Grice.
Additional Memories of Augustus Barto O'Barr, Jr.
While living in the little house on Creamery Road, I raised some rabbits and would sell them to the restaurants in town. One morning I found my big Belgian Haired Buck dead in the cage, Parley had fed him some castor beans and they are poison. One day I went into the American Kitchen Cafe and my brother Frank was sitting at the counter and introduced me to Ethel who he later married.
One summer when George and Dora were visiting us on Creamery Road, Parley had borrowed their car so Alice and I and George and Dora had his milk truck. We were coming home and was about even with the ice plant still standing and ready to turn into our place when a storm hit. There was big timbers and tins from a wheat storage ware house close by, they knocked the radiator and engine out of the car and wrapped around it, we climbed out in the dark in the middle of the worst of it and got under the car, it didn't tip over. There was cotton wood trees down, sparks flying all directions, we got over into the field where Smitty's big store is now, to another road up the side of the fence and made our way home, when it was day light, we wondered how we had all kept from being killed, the timber, tin and nails etc. This made us scared to death for years, every time a storm such as that, took place.
Another time, living in the little house on Creamery road, I was left home alone, twelve years old. The car had broke down and Alice came back to the house to get the horses, it was after dark, she used a stick and scraped on the outside wall of the frame room. I would go look and she would hide, then she would do it again and again, I finally went outside to see what it was and she grabbed me, I nearly fainted, it scared her and she promised to never scare me again.
On the way to Utah, when I was about five years old, I threw a rock one time that hit Alice on the head and cut quite a gash, she bled and bled and this really upset me.
We moved to the big house on Alma School Road when I was 17. We had a well dug that we got water out of by lowering a bucket on a rope. During the summers it would go almost dry and we would have to dig it deeper. One time Arthur was down in it digging, I would lower the bucket to draw out the rocks and dirt, I accidently dropped the bucket hitting Arthur on the head, which could have killed him. He staggered around for awhile and finally got able for me to pull him out. I sure felt bad about it.
One summer when sister Dora was visiting us with her two little boys, she gave one of them an enema. I kept teasing them and said no one would ever do that to me, well, she and Alice caught me and gave me an ice water enema.
In 1923, in August, Arthur had a new Ford touring car, with side curtains we would put up when it rained. Arthur, Alice, Dora and I went up to a camp three or four miles this side of Globe and Miami. We had a big tent under some Sycamore trees, there were big bulls walking around our camp at night. Also a big centipede under one of the beds. We would go into Miami to loaf around.
One summer, Alice, Lola and her year old boy Raymond and I went to Sunflower and camped along Sycamore creek. There was a bush fire further up near Mount Ord and the smoke drifted down enough to almost smother us. We left and went on up Pine, upstream on Pine creek and camped close to where some friends were living, Kenneth and Maizey Williams.
The above are only some early life stories of my Father. My Mother is writing for us a more complete life story, which would be too long for here. Let me say a few personal words: I remember my Father as a carpenter. I also remember him working in the sheds and at other jobs, but most of the time during my life in his home, he was a carpenter. It was not easy being a carpenter in a hot area like Mesa, Arizona. I remember him as a strong and tall (6'-2") man, and my Mother was (still is) the most beautiful woman in the world. There was much love between these two individuals, and I will always cherish the loving example that my Father showed to us all.
Life was made easy in our home for me and my sister, but I know that life was not always easy for my parents. My mother had several "close calls" in terms of operations and medical concerns. She could not have more children after having only two. My Father back then was not as active in the church as my Mother wanted. All these things caused "tensions" from time to time. But all these concerns were handled in righteous ways.
My Father ended up with a retirement as a Construction Inspector for the City of Mesa, went on Missions for the church, and was a Temple Sealer in the London Temple at the time of his death. I am sure that a lot of these great achievements were due to having a loving Mother, Lola May Peppers, and certainly due to a most perfect wife.