Friday, July 29, 2011

BINGHAM A HISTORY of MY LIFE by DAVID THORNE


David Thorne
My History
I was born at home in Bingham Canyon in 1928.  I graduated from the Bingham High School in 1947.   My parents were Silas and Olive Thorne.  I had four sisters: Afton class of “43”, Reva class of “46”, Alta class of “50”, and Marilyn class of “52”.  We all attended Bingham Central grade school as well as Bingham High.  Afton and Reva both worked for Dr. Richards at the Bingham Hospital for several years.  Afton passed away n 1991 after suffering many years with multiple sclerosis.  Reva lives in Murray, Alta in Sandy and Marilyn in Provo.  My father died in 1973 and my mother in 1982. 
            My father worked for the Utah Copper (now Kennecott) before I was born until he retired in 1962.  The Utah Copper used to have annual “Field Days” in the Copperton Park with a picnic, games and rides.  The company gave out tokens for rides and treats and paid for everything.  There was a lot of Company spirit in those days and we really had fun.
            I lived in central Bingham, just below Heaston Heights, until my dad bought a house that was located below the copper precipitating plant and south of the Bingham cemetery, and moved it to Frog Town near the old D&RG railroad depot. 
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Everyone who lived in Bingham in those days and earlier, will remember some of the tragedies that befell the town.  I remember several bad fires that took some kids’ lives and couple of mud slides and a rolling boulder that wrecked several houses.  When I was a small child, I lived in some fear of the fire siren at night and prayed there wouldn’t be a fire. 
Our family would often go to the Utah Copper baseball games in the Copperton park.  We usually had a picnic in the park after the game. 
            I played in the “pee-wee soft ball league in the summers when I was seven or eight; two of my team- mates were Art Bentley and Teddy Allen.  The school buss picked us up in Bingham and took us to the Copper ballpark in Copperton.  We called our team “Marv’s Stars” and were sponsored by Marv’s Service Station in middle Bingham.  When we won, Marv would treat to a free soda pop from his cooler; of course we always told him we won.
            Bingham had a great town spirit when I was growing up there.  The town always celebrated the 4th of July with a parade, orations, foot-races and fireworks.  Wow, people set off a lot of firecrackers.  I remember the gutters along the sidewalks full of paper from the exploded firecrackers.  I remember a couple of “Galena Days” : no cars were allowed above Frog Town and transportation was only by horse-and –buggy or horse-drawn carts.  Women were required to wear old-fashioned dresses and bonnets, and men had to spot beards or be locked in the “hoosegow” until they paid a fine.   The celebrations included the ever popular parade and several kinds of mining contests.               As a kid I hiked all over the hills in Bingham.  My buddies at that time included Art Bentley, Teddy Allen and Floyd Timothy.  We had a favorite place we called “waterfalls”;  it was a real pretty spot with a nice stream and a pond.  We made rafts and poled around the pond.  The water was so cold we didn’t swim unless we fell off the raft.  The place has long since been filled in with a Kennecott waste dump.  (the water falls and pond was in Freeman Canyon just over the B&G railroad)
            I started the 7th grade in 1942 and the W.W  II was on.  School used to close for a week in October so the boys could go to work for the farmers down in the valley harvesting sugar beets.  The school bus would drop us off at various farms.  Some of us “miners kids” were probably pretty frustrating to some of the farmers with our antics; but some of the farmers took advantage of us.  One farmer charged us for using hid grindstone to sharpen our beet knives and for a gallon jug that we used for drinking-water that got broken.  He said his daughter was a mathematician . so she figured out our pay.  We ended           up with very little to show for our hard work.  But other farmers were fair with us. 
            I had a morning paper route for a time when I was in Junior High.  I had a faithful companion on my route, my ,dog Tippy.  My route went from Markham Gulch up upper Maim Street and then up the stairs to the Copper Heights and down Carr Fork.  After I had quit the route, some of my customers’ told me they would still see Tippy making the rounds.
Floyd Timothy and I used to roller-skate on the sidewalks from the business district to Frog Town; we had some wild rides down the canyon.  One time we scavenged a big pile of magazines and we both had our arms full going down the sidewalk.   Just below the Bingham Garage, on a particularly steep stretch , one of Floyd’s wheels  flew off.   Floyd took a spectacular spill with magazines flying all over the street. However Floyd wasn’t hurt badly. 
            Floyd, Merlin Timothy, Art Bentley and I used to set the pins at the Gemmell  Club.  On our way home we would usually stop at the Bingham Drug and play the “odd and even” punch card to multiply our earnings.  We would hang around the club and play pool while we were waiting for someone to hire us to set pins and Ken Shultzen enlisted some of us in to the boxing program at the club.   Floyd and I got matched up to box in the Smoker one night and Floyd knocked the daylights out of me.  
Gene Halverson    Keith Webb    Lowell Jensen
            During the war years, things were hard to get.  Gene Halverson’s dad was able to get him a new 22 rifle and I really wanted one; Gene’s father located another one at Wolfe’s Sporting Goods in Salt Lake and persuaded them to sell it to me.  Gene and I had a lot of fun hunting squirrels above Telegraph, where the Halverson’s lived and rabbits on “Horseshoe bend”, an old railroad grade in the hills south of Copperton- now covered by Kennecott Copper waste dump.
            Gene, Keith Webb and I did a lot of backpacking.  Once, when we went fishing at Granddaddy Lake (high Uinta Mountains), Gene rented a horse; as we were plodding along, pretty slowly up the trail, Gene wanted his horse to go faster and kept prodding it along with his feet.  The trail at that moment was passing along the top of a steep cliff where the horse conceived an effective stratagem- it backed up to the edge and threatened to dump Gene over.  For the rest of the trip, the horse was boss!  Another time we went fishing in Yellowstone Park in the fall.  At that time of the season, there were very few people in the park and the scavenging bears were hungry.  One night I was sleeping soundly when a black bear started tugging on my sleeping bag trying to pull it with me in it, out of the tent.  At  first I thought it  was Gene trying to wake me up early to go fishing, as was his custom.   When I realized it was a bear, I let out a blood curling scream  and the bear bounded off (with Gene chasing).   Latter that morning, out in the woods, we found the blanket , that had been over the foot of my sleeping bag with big rips in it.
            Duane Thorpe got me interested in chemistry during High School.  Duane, in turn, was influenced by Bob Godwin (the same who at this time, blew his little finger off).  Does anyone remember the stink bomb that Duane set off in the library?  I set up  a chemistry lab in in our basement, which was just a dirt cellar under  our house.   At that time a person could order almost any kind od chemical by Railway Express from various supply houses.   One day I was mixing up a batch of gunpowder  and I wanted it to burn faster so I tried adding a little red phosphorous.  While I was mixing in the phosphorous the mixture ignited; the flash burned my right thumb badly and signed my eyebrows.   Smoke poured out around the foundation of the house but, luckily it didn’t set the house on fire.  I went to Dr. Frazier to attend to my burns.  Doc wasn’t very gentile; he took a pair of scissors and snipped off a large blister from my thumb and I fainted and hit the floor.  The nurse, Pearl Knudsen, was quite concerned but the doctor told her to just let me lie there until I came around.
            I remember one day when we were in welding class there was an acetylene generator that dropped carbide in controlled amounts into water in a closed chamber to generate acetylene.  “Boss” Hausknecht was out of the welding shop at the time and Don Christensen, for some strange reason, managed to release a large amount of carbide into the water before he had secured the lid.  The mixture frothed out of the vessel on to the floor, also of course, releasing a lot of acetylene into the air.  Boss had returned by that time and saw what was happening and evacuated the whole shop until the acetylene had cleared out; we spent the rest of the day cleaning up the mess. 
            Virginia Harris taught a girl’s modern dance class and one day her class gave a presentation in an assembly.  Several of us boys didn’t appreciate the show, with the girls prancing across the stage, and we sneaked out.   Sunny Alsop and Merritt Poulsen but we escaped into the hills above the High School and run up a dirt road we called the “obstacle course”.  We came upon a sheep camp up there where some sheep men were docking and castrating lambs.  One man would lop of a tail; another would cut the lambs scrotum, bend over and pull the testicles out with his teeth, sever them, and spit them out (rocky mountain oysters), periodically swishing his mouth out with a swig of beer and swallowing it.  We were so intrigued with this procedure we missed out next class.
            I started working at Utah Copper on my sixteenth birth day.  Like most of the other guys from Bingham High.   I worked on the track gangs on weekends and holidays and summer vacations.  I also worked there while attending college, sometimes part-time and other times full-time;  I had various jobs including track gang, switch tender, flagman, speeder operator and boilermaker’s helper.
            I started at the University of Utah in 1947 and graduated with a degree in microbiology in 1953.  I married Gwen Townsend in 1954; gen was from Hagerman, Idaho and was in nursing training at St. Marks Hospital in Salt Lake.  That year I worked in the laboratory at holy Cross Hospital and latter went to work at Dugway Proving Grounds in the Army’s biological warfare program.   We moved to San Mateo, California in 1959 where I worked in the medical lab in the San Mateo County Hospital.  Although we loved the San Francisco area we didn’t like the life style and so we moved back to Dugway that same year.  We bought a home in Tooele after we came back.  We had good time hiking and camping with our five boys as they were growing up in Tooele. 
Back center-Dave Thorne
Vic Roblez, Merlin Timothy, Marvim Pullan, Karl Hohmann
            We lived in Tooele until 1975 when I was laid off at Dugway.  I then obtained a job as a wildlife biologist at the Rock Mountain Arsenal  in Denver where I monitored the environment for chemical contamination resulting from the Army’s development of chemical weapons and from a pesticide manufacturing plant at the site.
            I retired in 1986 and liv in Boulder, Colorado.  We have a small motorhome and enjoy travelling and camping.  I like to hike, bike and ski.  Two of our sons, Kenny and Steve, live in the Boulder area; Ron lives in Littleton, Colorado; Greg lives Colorada Springs, Colorado; and Paul lives in Pasco, Washington.  We have ten grandchildren.  We enjoy having lots of time to spend with our children and grandchildren.
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