The Richards Building, where the state swim meet was held, is an adequate and large facility but it is 41 years old and the balcony spectator seating and isles were obviously designed for nimble, young college students instead of some of us older people who were in attendance. Despite the hours sitting in those seats with our knees tucked under our chins it was exciting to watch the competitors in the pool and was definitely worth the trip to Provo.
We used to follow our kids all around the state to their games and activities when they were in high school and college and now we find ourselves doing the same thing with our grandchildren. We’ve been to youth soccer, softball, swimming, volleyball, dance competitions, piano recitals, plays, and a host other events with them, and now, with three of our grandchildren in high school, we’ll be going on even more of these trips. But it is fun to support them in their endeavors and exciting to watch them perform and excel. And I should be used to it. As a school bus driver for 30 years, I’ve carted similar high school kids to nearly every high school all over Utah and surrounding states for sporting events and other activities and I am accustomed to the noisy gymnasiums and auditoriums.
Our trip to Provo last week was to support our granddaughter, Alexa, and the other Grand County swimmers at the 2-A finals. And I realized that us old folks can yell as loudly and make as much noise as the teenagers. Or maybe it was just an excuse to get out of those cramped seats.
This week sort of marks an anniversary for me and I almost forgot about it. It was exactly 35 years ago this week that I began writing this column. I still remember the day that I approached editor and publisher Sam Taylor in his office to ask if I could write the column, despite my lack of journalistic skills. Two others before me wrote “Castle Valley Comments” but the previous columnist decided to not continue writing and suggested that I apply for the position. Actually, we weren’t the first – there was a “Castle Valley News” column for a short time in the Grand Valley Times over a hundred years ago.
I joined The Times-Independent staff less than a year after I began to write this column and worked 20 years as the newspaper’s printer.
The main reason for wanting to write the column in the first place was to try to correct the negative impression that Moabites had about us. Bill Davis, a former news editor at the Times once told me that all we were out here was a bunch of hippies and religious fanatics; he didn’t know how we even got along at all. It was true that there were a lot of hippie-type people living in teepees. In fact, many of us were living in what would be considered sub-standard housing. There were also many who embraced the Mormon faith, and the Seventh-Day Adventist academy was located across the creek, so we were certainly a diverse group of people and there was some friction. But we also had a lot in common.
Most of us out here couldn’t, or didn’t, want to get a building loan, so we built our homes as we acquired funds from jobs that weren’t very plentiful or fruitful. But the residents were all wonderful and talented individuals faced with similar challenges of transforming a barren piece of land into a comfortable and beautiful place to live and call home. And I wanted tell the Moabites about these people and their accomplishments and activities as a community so they would know what a great bunch of people lived out here. I also wanted us in the valley to stay informed about the policies and decisions of our governing bodies without airing a lot of our dirty laundry or reporting a lot of negativity that went on at these meetings. Sometimes the meetings did get a little hostile. To paraphrase a well-known saying, we would go to a monthly fight but every once in a while a property owners’ meeting would break out.
That first column on Feb. 21, 1979 reported on Randy and Gregg Stucki who went on LDS missions to Thailand and Mexico, respectively. I also featured new arrivals George and Margaret Wiggins, who moved to their property on Buchanan Lane, and talked about Al and Ginny Duncan, who returned to their Castleton home after a five-week trip to Florida. After a very cold and wet winter in 1979, the temperatures finally warmed and they were similar to what we are experiencing today.
I hope that I’ve done an adequate job of reporting about the lives of our residents and the entities that govern us. I have tried to be fair and unbiased in my reporting and show my neighbors in a positive light to those outside our boundaries. I don’t know how long I will be doing this column but one thing is for sure, my journalistic skills probably aren’t likely to improve very much in the meantime.