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Bob Dew

Page history last edited by PBworks 16 years, 1 month ago

BOB DEW History Talk: “Growing up in the Upper Green” (on the Flying A Ranch) or

“Life in a Snowbank”. 9-27-07. Bob Dew, POB 267, Pinedale. 367-2618.

My Dad and his family came here to Pinedale from Wood Lake, NE in the Spring of 1913. They shipped the women of the family – my aunt and grandmother – by train to Lander. The Grandfather & 5 sons took off on horses from Wood Lake and they camped their way to Lander and then picked the women up there and came over here. When they first got here they camped out (on West end of Pinedale) where the Best Western (Motel) is for about a week. They looked for jobs and let the horses rest up. There were 5 brothers: Jack, Ted, Dick, Frank (my dad) and the oldest was Pat. Most of them took up residence here. They owned a pretty good chunk of the upper Green River Valley at one time. Shortly after they were here the old folks went over on the Gros Ventre. They took over someone else’s homestead and they were there the rest of their lives. Dick took that over and then he sold it. The whole family was in Jackson at that time. My dad worked for a cattle company over there for several years around WWI.

Then he came back over on this side and homesteaded the DC Bar. He built cabins up in Rock Creek. He’d snowshoe up Rock Creek and stay in the first cabin overnight, go to Tosi Creek the next night and then back to Rock Creek and home again. He was trapping marten at that time and he made more money doing that than what he could make from putting on the ranch.

Bud Decker: What year was that?

BOB: Probably 1924-25, something like that. Then the youngest one of them (of the Dew boys) started in the dude business with what he called the Girls’ Pack Trip. He took girls – primarily from Philadelphia –and he had a camp up on the Green River. He met ‘em on the train in Rock Springs. He’d haul ‘em up to this camp and put in a week with them. This would have been in the late 20s. So, a week in camp and no facilities. Then they’d gather them all up and pack ‘em to the top of the mountain and they’d put in a summer. He had one of the other brothers going back and forth with a pack horse hauling groceries. In the fall he’d bring them back down again to the Green River and they’d get washed off in the river and then he took them back to Rock Springs and put them on the train and they’d go back to Philadelphia. He made money enough at this that he could become a legitimate duder so he went up to the DC Bar and bought it from my dad and they started building buildings. The buildings they put up first were just glorified shacks. They didn’t even put rocks under it. They’d work together to build one of those cabins in just a few days. He ran it as a dude ranch for a few years and then he sold it to his brother, Dick (?) and then he passed it on to his son, until the guy who’s up there now (Tim Singewald). Then Dick bought the O Bar Y downriver. That was a pretty good ranch and he paid somewhere around $44,000.

All the other brothers ended up settling down there too. There’s 3 brothers that came here as guides for Billy Wells’ Gros Ventre Lodge by the (Kendall) Warm Springs. There were 2 Alexanders that came as guides and they settled here. That’s 5 people I know of that were guides for Billy Wells. Billy Hill was a bachelor and he liked the Dew Brothers and ultimately deeded his ranch over to Pat (Dew). I don’t know if it’s true but they said the Dews owned 14 miles of the Green River. It reached from the Elk Ridge Lodge – that was Pat’s homestead - downstream almost to the three…

My Dad sold his homestead to Jack and then he married one of the dude girls and they wanted to start their own place and moved over and bought this piece of ground where the Flying A is. They moved over there in the spring of 1931. The winter of ’31 they had no snow in the upper Green River. They drove the old cars all winter – so they told me – back & forth up there.

(battery dying….garbled)

Piece of ground that Wardell has at the bend of the Green River is one of the oldest pieces of deeded land there is around. Built that road with horses (across the Green River at the Bend). Jackson politicians got wind of it. (they didn’t want any road to Yellowstone that didn’t go through Jackson) (garbled – sounds like Alvin & Theodore)

Back to the Flying A. They moved up there in ’31 and started building. Dudes in ’32. It was 1954 when they sold. The Dude Business was different before WWII. Before WWII the people came to stay all summer and they brought their families.

(Batteries died and I didn’t know it. From my notes:

Our elk hunting didn’t amount to anything before WWII or until they started feeding. That changed all the patterns of where the elk were.

I was born in Feb of 1932 in a big storm. They tried to get out and got as far as the Calvert’s Road and the roads were all snowed shut. I hatched out while they were…

The doc came and said I wasn’t worth trying to save. Minnie Bloom heard about that and somehow she got up to the ranch. She couldn’t get me to eat but she kept working on it until I did. Eating is not a problem I have now! They took her (his mother) back to the Flying A on a sled. Bill Thomas had a dog team at Loomis Park.

I was never out of there (the ranch) in the winter until after the 7th grade. I went away to boarding school for the 8th grade. You don’t worry about going out until Memorial Day. It’s like retirement – it was a full time job just being there. We had to keep digging all the time. We had to dig the windows out so we’d have light. These are the first snowshoes my dad made for me. It was an art just getting the rawhide strung so it would shrink. You couldn’t walk if the webs were loose. We put a wash tub of snow on the cookstove and take turns taking baths. I thought we were living pretty good. I didn’t know we were underprivileged. This chair has the same lacing pattern as the snowshoes. My dad made all these chairs. First he used a plank of wood. Those chairs were heavy. Next he used cowhide, but they’d wear out in 3 years or so. Then he started the lacing.

During WWII other people were cutting mine props for the coal mines. So, dad started doing it. He’d cut all winter. He’d have to dig down to cut them. That’s when we started in the lumber business. They were all different lengths. It just depended on the mine. I suppose it had to do with the coal vein and how deep it was.

My dad was the greatest safety person I’ve ever known. He was always on my case, “Don’t do it that way. Do it this way.” After WWII people had cars and they didn’t stay as long at the dude ranches. It was an entirely different business. There was a multitude of Dude Ranches from the 30s. Most of them were sold as playthings to money people.

We went into the hunting business and that sustained us. We could hunt from home. The feedgrounds changed the pattern of where the elk lived.

After WWII the ski plane showed up. You gotta go fast or not at all. Then the snow cats. The SkiDoos. We had one. The first ones that came out weren’t too bad going downhill. You could make it on the flats, but forget going uphill. They were 5 horsepower. We wore it out. If your snowmachine got away from you it’d keep going and you had to track it down.)

(New batteries). It was 15 miles from the ranch out to the mailbox and back. I made that 15 miles in an hour and 45 minutes and that included taking the mail out of the box!

When I was in the 7th grade I took 9 hours getting down there and back! I wasn’t smart enough to realize that I shouldn’t continue. Early morning. Freeze. I didn’t know any better and headed on down. Then the frost went out and the dogs sunk and I sunk and it took me 9 hours to get back home. And then the next week I went in an hour and 45 minutes.


Charlie Raper: Those mine props. Did you peel them?

BOB: Yeah. You’d take a shovel, the best one we had. Took a piece of tool steel. Have a blacksmith draw it out. Cut a shovel and sharpen. Two-fisted shovel. Have ears on it so you could reach down. Strip off about that wide and turn it a third and do it again. Mine props were all round. We cut lots and lots of props. Haul ‘em on trucks. Make a few bucks. Cut all lengths. 5, 5.5, 6, 6.5, 7, 7.5, 8s and then jump to 10.5 and 11 and 14s and 16s. I think it was controlled by the vein of coal seams. Cuz some mines took 9 footers. Superior was a 9 ft seam. You cut the shorter ones were smaller in diameter. You cut the trees up to 9 inches in diameter.

Laurie Latta: So, Bob, how weird was it when you went to boarding school?

BOB: Yeah. That was kind of a learning curve. I’d never been around other kids and not many adults except my parents. I went to Wasatch (Academy). At that boarding school at that time the kids did all the work. My first job was to sweep the sidewalk. Well, I didn’t know. I took the broom and was dusting all the cracks. The sister who was my supervisor, she wondered why the hell it took me so long! Pretty quick I learned you did what was inside and skipped the rest. That school at that time, the kids did all the work.

Pat Underberg: Where was that school?

BOB: Mt. Pleasant, Utah. It’s about 100 miles south of Salt Lake. The school is still there today but it’s not the same place it used to be. It’s a rich kid’s school.

Bud Decker: The time I was there it was supported by wealthy people back in New York.

BOB: Presbyterian Church. You see we only paid about a third of the cost. It was originally a mission. The old boy who went down there was going to save everybody from Mormonism and establish this colony there. It was run by the Presbyterians for a long while. Finally they made it a non-profit organization and sold it off as a rich kid’s school. Now you can’t work the kids. It’s against all the labor laws. I didn’t realize I was underprivileged.

Jim Latta: Did you find yourself pretty well prepared after going to ‘school’ with just your sister and your mom as the teacher?

BOB: That was an experience in itself cuz we’d never been around other kids. We didn’t know how to get along with other kids or what makes the world go ‘round. We had a lot to learn. I couldn’t tie a necktie. I never had a necktie on until I went to that school. So, I got one of the older kids to tie this necktie. So then I pull it out and hang it up in the closet and put it back on again. I thought I had things under control until the other kids found out about this. They’d slip in there and pull my necktie out and then I can’t tie it. It was educational in itself. I’d never been in a fight until then. It took quite a bit of fighting and quite a bit of losing until I got that under control.

Bud Decker: What dorm did you stay in? I stayed in Slate (?)

BOB: Lincoln. Lincoln. They only had 10. I think we had 3 or 4 Freshmen. The Nobles were in there. Kenneth and his little brother. Bob? Kenneth was a big husky guy. I think they got kicked out of school in Big Piney.

Bud Decker: The kids would come over from your dorm to our dorm…We called it growlering - stick their head in the toilet and flush it!

BOB: Us little guys would get the treatment and then when you got bigger you got to be the…I guess I did my share. I had this ex-Marine. This cowboy from Arizona and I bunked together right down the hall from his living quarters. Every time some kind of a fracas was going on our room – he came there first. Finally one day I told him, “Why do you come to our room first? There’s other guys in this dorm besides us. We don’t cause all of the trouble.” He let us philosophize on this a little and finally he said, “How many times have I been wrong?”

(Bud & Bob garbled) BOB: I didn’t graduate with honors...with ‘scholastic honors’ I should say. They created an honor system that one student got the same grade as the valedictorian for service depending on how much you did for the school. Well, I was the first one that got that honor. I couldn’t play football, basketball, track or anything and I wasn’t on the speech team, so it made everyone wonder. I said, “They judged it on how many miles you pushed the broom in your 4 years”.

My sophomore year they had a guy clean 10 rooms in the school. I don’t know what happened but he got kicked out or left or something so they asked me if I would take over cleaning these rooms. So I did because I wasn’t in sports or anything. I did a pretty good job so when Spring came they asked me to be the boss of the schoolhouse next year. I said, “Well, I can do the work but I don’t know if I can run the kids.” This guy who was the principal said “that won’t be a problem because I’ll be in my office upstairs and I’ll back you up.” So I go back and start my job in the fall and he’s gone. He’s on sabbatical & went back to school. So here’s this guy who’s never been a boss running the school. It took quite a bit of doing with the kids trying me out. I did that for 2 years.

Monte Skinner: I have a question. When you went down there…When we sold out…Do you think…for myself getting an education from teachers who came in….when we went to school here in town. (Monte’s education until about 3rd grade was at a one-room school with his brothers on Soda Lake). I didn’t get the benefit or didn’t study hard enough (to be up with the other kids when I moved to town). Did you have that problem?

BOB: No. We didn’t. I think we were pretty well up with the other kids when we went there. But there’s a little history. When I was in the 2nd grade my sister was a year younger but she went through in the same grade as me. She had the brains so she went through with flying colors. (Our School Teacher) asked me “How come your sister is doing better in school and learning more than I’m learning.” When they got all through with this lecture they wanted to know if I had anything to say about it. I said, “Well it looks to me that that’s just the way it is because girls don’t have near as many things to be interested in as a boy. My dad was building a roof on the house (?) and I was much more interested in what was going on with that than I was with going to school.

Bud Decker: They wouldn’t let you fail (at Wasatch) because if you were failing they sent a teacher over after dinner at night and the teacher taught you.

BOB: At that boarding school I can’t think of any of them that flunked out. There were guys who got kicked out for various reasons but it wasn’t scholastic. You got signed in to the library to study after school and the sister that took care of the Library – there was no monkeying around. A few doses of that and you didn’t want to go back there anymore.

Bud Decker: (Asked if a certain librarian or teacher was still there when Bob attended)

BOB: Oh, you’re bringing back all kinds of memories! (talking about a teacher at Wasatch) And remember her husband was only about that high and squared off and he always followed her every place she went and was 2 steps behind? He was a pretty fine ole boy.

Bud: They taught you table manners?

BOB: Oh yeah. They taught me how to carve a turkey and slice up a milk cow that they couldn’t…and how to peel potatoes. They had 2 guys who cooked breakfast and they had the help of a supervisor. When they had to go somewhere they needed a sub, so I got to go in. They were my buddies so I became a sub in the kitchen. If I had to go somewhere one of them would sub for my school. So when you go down there to cook breakfast, you have access to the pantry. Well, we cooked ourselves a pretty good breakfast. Pretty soon the pantry’s locked up. They set our stuff outside. They cut a pretty good slice off the hind quarter of one of those milk cows and then they cooked it up and when they made pot roast they’d get gallons of this brown gravy so we’d have a gravy-eating contest after you had your normal meal. That was just unbelievable.

Bud Decker: Did they still go to school on Saturday?

BOB: Yup.

Bud Decker: They had to have a sack lunch on Monday

BOB: Yeah. That was so the cooks got a day off. The lunch wasn’t worth a damn, but the paper sack was pretty valuable. Those sacks made water bombs out of them. Right down the stairwell. One day this guy makes a water bomb and puts cans of Dutch Cleanser he’d saved. The stairs went up like this and made a slot to the ones standing downstairs. The Dorm supervisor was standing down there. This guy made this Dutch Cleanser bomb & lets it go and BULLSEYE! He hit him (the supervisor). He made it up the stairs. I don’t think he touched a ….til he got to the top. He (the kid) didn’t do that again.

The calcimine you could make tracks on. So the guys one Sunday took me and made a set of tracks going up the wall, across the ceiling and down the other side. This old Supervisor said, “Just what was the purpose of this?” Now, that’s kinda hard to explain. But we made lots of friendships. Lots of them.


Bud asked about apples and apple cider.

BOB: We made apple cider. We ground ‘em up – worms and all. It gave a little more kick to it if you put raisins in it. We kinda got little off track, didn’t we.

Monte Skinner: That fireplace up there (at the Flying A) - I couldn’t find that this year.

BOB: It’s in the little dining room that she made for the help, where we had dinner up there. When they jacked the building up - it was too low to the ground - and they raised it up and put a foundation under it, they lost the fireplace. They saved the mantel off that old fireplace and put it on the one in that room. Now, the brands are like on this chair – the brands don’t stand out as good as when it was younger but it’s the same block. See, we had a lot of trouble with…buildings up in there. Water off the roof would be around the building. And if you got it up a little bit, the moles and gophers would pack the dirt under there and if it touches the floor joists in just a couple years it rotted out.

Charlie Raper: How deep was the snow around the windows?

BOB: We measured the snow for years for the Forest Service. I used to have a book about it. I really don’t think there was that much difference between then and now. We had a spell in the 30s . The winter of ’31 – that was before my time – we didn’t have any snow. My dad went to the Flying A the end of April. Then we went from that to along about ’38 somewheres they had record. That’s when Slim Bartlett said, “I really don’t mind snowshoeing until you’re walking on the tops of the trees”. One thing about this driving in a tunnel of snow was that when we first started with those roads we pushed the snow level with the ditch. Now they’re all graded up so there’s someplace to blow the snow. The winter I worked for…up Gyp Creek, the winter of ’56 down there by Mickey Adams Dugway, we had snowbanks that you couldn’t see….they didn’t have power enough for a snowplow to blow it out of the road. You just ran in a hole. And you started 2 feet down in the ground. So all this snow since the get-go in the fall is in the road. Now you’ve got plows that blow it clear out away from the fence and the roads are graded up. According to the records we kept and trying to compare what I remember, I don’t see a lot of difference over the average. But you’re still going to have some years will be more. I think a lot of this thing of not having any snow is the machinery over the shovel.

Pat Underberg: In ’63 or ’64 we drove from PA to IA and we couldn’t see over the snowbanks.

BOB: It varies. They had one winter up there (Upper Green) they told me about that they drove back and forth all winter and they had record snows between here (Pinedale) and Rock Springs. I think over the average it’s pretty much the same. You gauge part of that by when you can get in and out of these places in the spring. One of the latest years the Flying As every had was the spring when we (his sister Betty & himself) graduated from High School. 1950. Memorial Day. We had to walk in from the highway.

Jim Latta: Do you remember there being more grouse when you were a kid. I mean Pine Grouse, not Sage Chickens.

BOB: Where we were there was never many of those grouse. I think there were more over here on this other side.

A Man: Where was the best fishing?

BOB: For any size, it was Waterdog Lake was THE place. When they first went up there, there wasn’t any fish in Waterdog Lake because it was landlocked. Walt Brewer took the first fish in there in milk cans. They grew phenomenal -like they did for all of these lake, they grew unbelievable. That was Walt Brewer from the fish hatchery (Daniel). He would go anywhere with a 2-wheel drive. A little bit hard on the Game & Fish pickup, but he’d get there. Those first fish got to be – well, dad caught a rainbow out of there that was 9 pounds. When I was there, there were lots of 3 and 4 pounders. The man-made fish pond does the same. Those strings of fish (in the picture). We had our own fish pond at the Flying A and it was really phenomenal what it put out for fish. It’s still there. I don’t know if it’s as good as it used to be or not. Most of those big strings (of fish in the pictures) came from Waterdog Lake. It was the primary source.

Bud Decker: You ever seen a waterdog there?

BOB: No. I don’t know how it got that name. But those swallows were kinda interesting. They’d come down there for years. Their nests would be on those cliffs. There were just hundreds of them. From Bondurant & Jack Creek there’s a way to go in there. The Forest Service had a trail cut out all the way. It was a big, wide trail. You had no problems going down there with a string of pack horses. But there’s another way…up and over and down there quite a ways before you can get off, it’s so steep. The water off the south side of the Sawtooths – not very much of it runs on the surface. Most of it goes in the ground. There’s that big spring on Jack Creek where the cave is. Pretty good size spring comes out. All drains off the south side of the Sawtooths. That’s the first place I ever saw a Water Ouzel (Dipper bird).

They talked about transportation. You don’t catch any contagious diseases when you’re snowed in. You don’t get colds. But if someone comes to visit and brings you one, you can bet it’ll be a dandy. And they did have a time or 2 when they got measles and they were bad because you weren’t used to being out. Injuries? What we used to do if somebody had to go to the doctor is you got up and had somebody meet you at the highway and get transportation. My mother fell down one spring and hurt her leg pretty bad. My dad thought she dislocated something or broke it and called down here & said “I need some help”. Lawrence Shaul (he’s over there in the Sublette Center) got the CC (CCC Camp) doctor. Lawrence brought that guy up and he examined her and he (Lawrence) snowshoed right back out so he was here (Pinedale) by eight o’clock the next morning. (It wasn’t broken, but) she was bedfast. It was in the spring and she broke through the crust – one ski went and the other one didn’t.

My grandmother – this all goes back to Pennsylvania – was the personal secretary to John B Stetson. Went everywhere with him. He had a railroad car. He hooked this RR car to trains and he’d go around promoting his hats. And she went with him to do all the secretary work. Our place was full of hats.

A Man: She was a dude?

BOB: My mom was. At the DC Bar. There was a shortage of gals here. She was well-educated. Went to Swarthmore College back there (in PA). Pretty smart lady. She had a Master’s Degree in Mathematics. Didn’t do her much good after she came West. She never hankered to go back. You couldn’t get her to go back. She thought this living out like that was the way to go. When we moved she didn’t know how to handle the garbage!

(talking about someone carrying mail to Kemmerer) Wells place. Putting his cows. Following the Drift, maybe end up in Big Piney and trying to bring them home. Deep snow. They’d put the snow shoes on. Decided they had to get out. They’d lead that horse as far as he would go. They’d carry hay to him on their back. The other horses would follow the trail. Then the next day they’d go another so far. Buildings and ruins (from Billy Wells place) are up on that hill. Used to be remains of a water wheel. You can still see that ditch. I’m told that at one time the Lodge was on the other side of the river.

Monte Skinner: In that heavy timber you can see where that canal was built right to the main lodge. They couldn’t run water. The water wheel ran the water up there. I walked 2 hours up in there and you can see…

(people getting up and moving around.) END OF TAPE.

(After talk notes: Bob said his parents had all the buildings, horses and tack paid for in 10 years with the Dude business at the Flying A. They never thought it was anything special to have it all paid off. They had a lady from Daniel who came in and did the cooking for them in the summer and she made enough to live on for the rest of the year. The Union Pacific Railroad would advertise all these Dude Ranches. They’d get a doctor to come out and give him and his family a discount and then they could advertise “Doctor on premises”. The CL BAR, the DC Bar and the Flying A all had this doctor who came out to stay with them.

He and his Dad had a sawmill for 2 years before they sold the Flying A and that sawmill go them into the logging business. They had hunters in the fall and the sawmill the rest of the year. Bob Dew eventually had Dew Lumber in Pinedale.)(transcribed by Judi Myers)

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