Local woman recalls adventures of living in the old mill


by Becky GINOS bginos@davisclipper.com BOUNTIFUL—Not many people can say they grew up in an old flour mill, but Oneita Smith can. She moved with her family into the historical Farmington mill when she was 9 years old. “It was at the time people where having financial problems,” said the 95-year-old Bountiful resident. “We had a four room house with six brothers and me. We outgrew it so dad bought the old mill and turned it into a fruit farm. It was very big compared to our little house.” The pioneers used it to grind wheat, she said. “There was no water in the house, just a spring on the hill. There was also no electricity so we used oil lamps just like the pioneers. It was full of rats and mice. We stayed on the main floor to live – it was very primitive.” Smith’s mother was pregnant and had her large family to take care of. “We had an outhouse,” she said. “And it was scary at night because there were mountain lions and coyotes.” The outhouse was a two seater, Smith recalled. “We’d go in there and read the Montgomery catalog then use it when we were done. We didn’t have toilet paper,” she laughed. “The boys would throw rocks at it (outhouse) too.” Eventually, her father added electricity and indoor plumbing. “I helped my dad turn a closet into a bathroom,” said Smith. “I was thrilled to death. One girl and six brothers with a round tin tub.” The children helped out at the family’s fruit stand each day. “We would run it,” Smith said. “We’d get up at 5 a.m. to pick the fruit by 9 a.m. then go to the road and sell it. We’d yell at buses and cars as they went by.” Her father also bought 1,000 baby turkeys. “As they grew up there was only one male and the rest were females,” she said. “I would throw rocks at him. One day I was walking up the road to the old mill and I saw the turkey coming at me. He caught me and knocked me down and was pecking me. I screamed for mom and she ran out and smacked him with a broom. She knocked him out and then he was killed for our Thanksgiving.” Smith said it was hard seeing the struggle to kill him. “I felt bad I’d pelted him – I couldn’t eat him.” World War II broke out when she was headed to college. “Three of my brothers and my husband went to war,” she said. “I left school and started making 33 millimeter shells for the war. Mom and Dad worked for the war at Hill Field. Everything was war, war, war.” She married her high school sweetheart May 4, 1942 but he was sent to the South Pacific and they didn’t see each other for about 2 ½ years. Her husband has since passed away. Over her 95 years she has seen many changes. “The whole neighborhood would run outside when an airplane flew over, we just didn’t have planes,” said Smith. “We’d go to a movie and read the script. We also did a lot of walking. We didn’t have a fridge or electric stove and there were no phones.” Smith attributes her long life to eating healthy and staying busy. “Fresh fruits and vegetables keep me going,” she said. “I also taught (LDS) seminary for 13 years and I’ve written books for my grandchildren.” She is an accomplished artist as well and has given about 200 quilts a year to Primary Children’s Hospital. “I saw how they needed that and I thought it was something I could do,” Smith said. “Brooks Fabrics (in Bountiful) gives me scraps of material then I buy the fleece for the back. I design my own quilts. I’ve been doing it for years. I like doing something to give back.”

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