One of the fondest memories from my childhood is of hunting and fishing with my dad. The annual deer hunt was, of course, the highlight of the year, as Grandpa, Uncles, Dad and any cousins 12 years of age and older gathered at our favorite camping place in the mouth of Hellhole Canyon in the Onaqui Mountains south of Clover. There was the tradition of getting up way before dawn and eating a hearty breakfast of bacon, hash browns and sunny-side-up eggs floating in a ton of lard. I still remember Grandpa spooning hot lard over the sunny side of the eggs so they would fry on top without crusting on the bottom. I still can’t eat unscrambled eggs in any other way.
A full day of always-successful hunting ended with a dinner of fresh fried deer liver and onions. Can’t say I loved the liver part, but tradition was tradition. Besides, I had to make sure I would be invited to go out with everyone the next hunt.
One year my father had the gout so horribly that we didn’t leave camp until after dawn, and then only waddled a couple of hundred yards from camp to sit and wait in ambush. Dad always had hawk eyes and could spot a buck from so far away that I couldn’t make out the deer’s body, yet alone his sex. In the bad “gout year,” he spotted this buck sneaking through the oak brush and shot him with open sights. (Only really rich dudes had those fancy doohickey telescope things.) This amazing shot was the best cure for gout I’ve ever come across. As soon as he shot, he was up and actually kinda running toward the downed four-point. ’Course maybe it was the extra-greasy eggs, or sleeping on the hard ground that did the trick to cure Dad’s gout. Whatever, as soon as we got the deer cleaned and started the not-too-long drag back to camp, his gout returned with a fury, and I was honored enough to do most of the dragging while he listened to the University of Utah football game on the radio.
I bring up these never-to-be forgotten memories to explain the setting in which I learned what a meadowlark was singing when I would hear that gorgeous call. Dad said that his mother told him that the meadowlark was singing, “Tooele is a pretty little place.” She didn’t mean “pretty little” as in Tooele is small, although I used to hunt pheasants and rabbits where I now worship on Sunday. Rather, she meant Tooele was a beautiful place. Come to think of it, Grandma was born and raised in Grantsville, so maybe the meadowlark really said, “Grantsville is a pretty little place.” And so it is also, and was proven once again at our third annual Tooele County Pioneer Museum’s Photo Contest.
This year’s display included about 90 entrants, half of them in the under-18 youth category. We had pictures taken in the deserts, mountains, valleys, front yards, fields and streets of our beautiful county. From north to south and east to west, we experienced old pioneer stuff, as well as water, birds, animals, flowers, sunsets, snakes, fossils and even a close up of one kid’s dog’s eye! What great creativity, composition, and control of light we witnessed. I hope the youth especially continue to try to master this never-ending art form. We hope to be able to continue to give everyone a venue to “strut their stuff,” as well as earn a few ribbons and maybe even a little cash.
Too bad we don’t have the space to list everyone who participated this year. It must suffice to say that we had six different categories with first, second and third-place ribbons and cash winnings, as well as the special “Best of Show” and “People’s Choice” awards and winnings. One thing we know for sure though is “Tooele County is a pretty little place.”
Come in and view our really old photos as well as our collection of Native American and pioneer artifacts. Tooele Pioneer Museum is open every Tuesday from 10 a.m.-1 p.m., and every Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. You may also make special appointments at other times by calling Museum Director Tim Booth at (435) 882-1902 or (435) 830-3076.
Darrell Smith volunteers time as the publicity director of the Sons of Utah Pioneers Settlement Canyon Chapter. He also works as a docent at the Tooele Pioneer Museum. Smith can be reached at email@example.com.