a study of
HELEN N. HOUGHTON
(ELLEN VERNETTA NIELSEN HOUGHTON)
by CATHY BOYNTON ANDERSON
Castle Gate may not exist on the map but will always live on in the minds of those who remember it. The following is parts of an oral history of Helen N. Houghton. She is a woman who grew up in Winter Quarters. and raised her family in Castle Gate. She lived an ordinary life influenced by living in a small town.
"I was born on June 25, 1913 in Winters Quarters, Utah . It was up by Schofield. They closed down in 1927. We moved to Castle Gate. Winter Quarters was a beautiful place. It was all hills. My earliest memories are of the hills and the mountains. They were so pretty up there. I loved it in the country. We had so much fun. We had a very happy childhood. We played games, had these clubs, embroidered, played on the swings and tricky bars, and in the Winter we all made candy. We used to have some ball games in Castle Gate that were real good. We would go swimming in the river. We swam and swam but never got the hang of it.
We really did enjoy going to school. When we got to the ninth grade we had to go to Carbon High School. We had a good time just bumming around town. There wasn't anything else to do We'd watch all the kids play games and things like that. We went fishing once in awhile down by the creek in a wagon. Then for Christmas we didn't get much, but we got most of what most kids got.
We lived in the same house I have now, in Winter Quarters. (it was cut into and moved to Castle Gate and moved again to Helper) It was crowded with all of us kids. We had my Mother and Dad and six children. Me, Veda and Ethel slept in one bed and Jack, Jim, and Sonny slept in one bed.
As a teenager our parents did not allow us to socialize with boys. We didn't socialize with boys until we moved to Castle Gate. When I was sixteen I could maybe go to a show or something. We went to movies that's all we had. My parents did not allow me to go to dances.
We didn't have a telephone in Castle Gate until about 1940. The Mine had one so we'd have to go down to the Mine to use the phone. We didn't have indoor plumbing either.
My mother died when she was 30 years old. She died of Uremic Poisoning. She got that when she had Jimmy. In them days there wasn't anything they could do for it. She was from England. I was around nine or ten and Veda was a year older than me when she died. Then next April Dad married, I guess it was better than chasin with six kids. Grandma took Jimmy, the youngest one. He was only about three months old. Jack was three, Veda stayed out of school to take care of him. We about starved that poor kid to death, because we didn't know what to feed him.
Dad was good to everybody. He was a real good guy. My dad worked in a store all his life. He was a store truck driver. He died in 1950. He was a very strict man.
After my mother died, we had a step mother within the year. She was good to us, but she was very strict. She made us do a job every day. We had to have it done by noon. She really did help us a lot. She taught us how to keep house and do this and that. She made us mind and do what she wanted. They were good living people but my dad drank. He got to drinking in his older years.
My dad and his brothers used to get drunk, and they would come home and break every window in the house and all of the dishes. Oh the fights they used to have!
My dad used to send us for the home brew. We used to walk up Willow Creek and get that damn wine for my dad. Yes sir, we walked up there. Mrs. Talerico, old lady Talerico made it. She sold it. He'd get mad at us if we were late getting home, but he'd get over it. Dad could get mean if when he was mad.
I started going out with my husband in 1929. He asked me for a date to go to the show. It was a musical. We went down to Helper. He borrowed his dad's car for that first date. I married him in 1931.
When I went out on my own I didn't know anything. I was just 18 years old. We had six children. My husband took sick and died of cancer in 1952.
I worked all the time after he died. I worked in a cafe, the library and cleaned that dirty old hotel. I worked in a grocery store and got robbed. Some guy came in and tried to rob me, but I told him I didn't have any money. The dang nut could have walked right around me to the till. He said he head a gun in his pocket. The cop gave me the devil. He said, "Next time anybody tells you they have a gun you get out. Don't try to monkey around, because you don't know if they have a gun or not." We had quite an experience workin in that store. There were so many alcoholics and bums that came in there.
My oldest son, charlie, graduated from Ohio State University and received his Phd. All my kids went to college except for Pat. My children's names are, Charles Houghton, Joyce Halverson, Sherron Boynton, Billy Houghton, Kent Houghton and Pat Houghton. I have 18 grandchildren and five great grand children.
We had it like everybody else in those days. No body had a lot. Everybody was in the same situation. My kids got in trouble once in a while breaking a window or something. The cop was always after them though. Some people thought they were criminals, but they weren't. I've always gone to church. In Castle Gate I always went to sacrament meeting's. In Helper I just can't get used to going. I read the Bible once in a while. My Mother and Grandma taught me my belief in God. They were all Mormons. I was the president of the PTA, and I was the secretary of the Sunday School for about twenty years, I worked a lot for the Church.
I think my life is the most valuable possession I have. I've been sick for about thirty years, so I try to take care of my self. I don't go partying or anything. I'd like to go on a trip someplace if my health stays good. Maybe I try it some day. If I could go back and live my life over again I wouldn't change any of it. I like money to spend , but there are a lot of things money can't buy, like friends. I have some real good friends. I call every day just to talk. I think honesty is worth a lot also.
I think life in general today is the weeds in a lot of ways. Where we live in Helper, there's so many bums and people that drink their selves to death. When we were growing up everybody lived the same. Nobody had anymore than anybody else. Now they've all got to have better things and kids want more. The people were different then. They were more congenial and more neighborly. Now we live up there in Helper and we've never even seen some of the neighbors. One has been in my house once. We talk if we are outside, but we just don't visit. I'd rather have a good neighbor. I think there are a lot of good people and a lot of bad ones. The ones on the good side are the ones that are going to improved. Some of these kids are awful. It's just the way of the world. I hope our country straightens out but I doubt it will. I don't think it is being run well.
I think the youth of today are good kids. There are a lot them that their different ways of doing things. All of us are not the same. The teenagers are different now from the way me and my friends were. You just can't believe the difference. I think it was the condition of the world that caused the these changes. The advice I could give the young people which would help them lead better lives is I think to help them and talk to them. Try to tell them right from wrong. Some of them will listen and some of them won't. Some of the experiences I have had that would benefit from are I had to work. I enjoy working, I didn't like school much though. I think the thing wrong with me was I couldn't even see the blackboard. I could have done a lot better if I had glasses."
Life at this time could not have been easy. Instead of complaining and making it worse they learned to love and trust their neighbor. This in turn made life a little easier for everyone. The morals and values of the people were higher so they were more trustworthy. The competitive pressure of seeing who could have the best things did not exist as strong so everyone could relax and enjoy life. Through writing this paper I have learned to appreciate the life my Grandmother, Helen N. Houghton lived.
Although Castle Gate did not last one hundred years as a town, the memory of it will last as long as we keep it alive.