|Vernon and Leora Leamaster of Huntington, celebrate their life together.|
The story of Vernon and Leora Leamaster goes back a long way. On Feb. 1, 2007, they celebrated their 71st anniversary and Vern said they were going partying (to dinner) to celebrate. Vern was born on July 10, 1915 in West Hiawatha and will be 92 on his birthday this year with Leora not far behind, she will be 91 this year. Leora was born on March 28, 1916 in Cleveland.
The couple lived for a time in Cleveland after they were married. They went to high school together at the Huntington High School which is now the Energy West mining building. They fell in love and were soon married on Feb. 1, 1936 during the depression years. They didn't have a reception because times were tough back then. They were married at the Price courthouse and Leora was 19 and Vern not quite 21. At that time a young man had to be 21 to get married so Vern's parents had to sign for and grant permission for Vern to be married.
"At that time there were high schools in Ferron, Castle Dale and Green River. You could go up to the ninth grade in Cleveland. They changed the name to North Emery and Cleveland, Elmo and Huntington students all went to that school. They eliminated the Castle Dale High School around that time and those kids started going to Ferron. When I was 10 years old our family moved to Provo. There wasn't much school in Hiawatha only to third grade," said Vern.
Leora talked about the couples children. They have four, two sons and two daughters and one of their children passed away. Kay is the oldest child and now lives in Vernal; she has four children; Lynn lives in Ogden and has three girls and one boy; Terry Ann lives in Seattle and has five girls and one boy; Darrel lives in Huntington and has five girls and two boys.
They have 20 grandchildren. Vern commented, "When you get to the great-grandkids, you can't even remember their names."
Leora said, "We love our family so much especially now, our family is such a comfort to know they are there and we can depend on them."
Leora said Vern was a great hand at sports when he was younger and in hunting. He kept the family supplied with deer meat.
"I played football back when they had the three schools. We didn't have very good uniforms. We had been practicing for about two years, when they finally let us play our first game. One boy was killed in that game and one got a broken leg and another a broken arm. They quit playing after that and I don't think they played another football game until Emery High became the school. There were also basketball and track teams. I went to work at the Hiawatha mine before I was out of school," said Vern.
Vern worked at the Hiawatha mine for eight years and then in 1944 they moved to Huntington where they have been ever since. Vern and some of his family started their own mine in Huntington Canyon which they operated for 19 years and employed up to 25 employees. They loaded their coal on the rail at Mohrland. Other mines also loaded from there and 20 cars a day were loaded out of Mohrland. They used to make the trip to Mohrland over the Burma Road and the loaded trucks would take the inside of the road and the empty ones took the outside. Vern said, "That was a narrow road, but there was only one wreck on that road when the Wilberg's truck met on a curve. The road was often blocked from storms. American Coal loaded 10 cars a day out of Mohrland. Our mine was the first to use a diesel car in the mine that ran the exhaust through the water. Other mines started using diesel cars after we did. Now mines have diesel shuttle cars and man trips. That was quite the thing," said Vern.
Leora said that she and Vern were married in the temple on Nov. 19, 1948 so in a way they have two anniversaries. They had their son Darrel and Kay sealed to them at that time. Leora was raised in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Vern was baptized into the church while living in Provo. Their church has played a very important role in their lives and how they have raised their children.
Vern said at Hiawatha they used to have church in the mine office. He remembers the days at Hiawatha as a time where he met people from all different nations. There were Hungarians, Greek, Japanese and many other cultures. Vern learned to love and appreciate the differences in people at this time. They all got along well together and many of them went on to very successful lives. Vern remembered that the French kids could throw rocks farther than anyone.
"When they held dances the whole town would turn out," said Vern. Vern reminisced that during prohibition days the revenuers came to Hiawatha and even found a few people producing their own alcohol. When the Japanese people got wind the revenuers were in town, they dumped all their Sake in the sewer.
Vern also worked for the state roads while they were working on I-70 and helped with the Eagle Canyon bridge. He was the superintendent of the Emery County roads for 17 years. At the time he started there were 1,500 miles of road in the county and 60 miles of that paved and the rest was dirt and gravel.
Vern thinks Emery County is a very good place to live with the oiled roads, secondary water, fire departments, sheriff's office and everyone working together.
Leora remembered days long past where the kids all got together and played games and had candy pulls, and went ice skating, sleigh riding and horseback riding. Leora used to milk the cows each day before she went to school. They also watched shows in Ernie's pool hall. "That pool hall was used for a lot of different things. There were dances there. It was located where the school is now. They had a big dance floor and a stage. They also played pool and poker there. Back then they had a drama society that did plays and went from town to town presenting plays. They also had operettas. These were also presented in other towns. All of the schools had bands back then and sometimes they would have band meets where bands came from all over the state. They also marched in the July 4th parade and they had horse races," said Leora.
Vern remembered one time when the Truman horse won first place for the whole state.
Vern and Leora are happy with the changes that have come over the years. They wouldn't trade the indoor plumbing for anything. The telephones and electricity are nice now too. "There have been so many changes. I remember when Cleveland had one phone and Huntington had one phone it was in the drug store and if someone wanted to talk to you, then they had to run up to your house and get you to come down to the store," said Leora.
"There was no money in our county except in agriculture before the power plants came in, that was a change for the better. There were just a few cows and a few dairies, that was all the income we had.
"The advances in our county have just been amazing. They used to mine a million ton a year and now they mine 24 million ton a year. The power plants take 4,000 ton a day each unit. That's 20,000 ton a day that runs through those power plants and all those trucks. They carry about 40 ton in each truck each load. Back at Hiawatha there were 800 workers to mine the coal and now a long wall operation only takes about five men. They can just do things now that we would never have dreamed of," said Vern.
"I was 12 or 14 years old before I even saw my first car, everywhere we went, we went on a horse or a horsedrawn sleigh. Vern and I traveled to Portugal and that was really something. That was the only time we were out of the United States. We also served a mission to South Carolina for 18 months," said Leora. During their mission they helped teach English, added Vern.
"It's a fun life, you just have to keep on going," said Vern.
This Huntington couple seems to have the answer to longevity and a long and happy marriage. Keep things simple and things will go smoothly most of the time.