Helen Gines Jones was born in Tabiona, Utah in 1932. She was the first of six children born of Cerel Sig Gines and Lillie May Mitchell. Both of her parents were born and raised in Kamas Valley. Helen comes from a long line of Kamas Original Settlers: Gines, Russell, Mitchell, Turnbow, and Richardson. There are very few people who are as “Kamas-Original” as Helen. Her parents moved to Tabiona around 1930, where Helen and her next three siblings were born. Helen spent her childhood in Tabiona attending the small school there. About 1946, when Helen was 14 or 15, her father was offered the job as proprietor of a business in Kamas, owned by Herman Crystal who was married to Sig’s sister, Reva. The business was located on Main street and was called the Kamas Klub, better known as The Pool Hall. In Kamas, Helen attended 9th grade and half of 10th grade.
A little history of the Pool Hall: The Pool Hall, which was first called a saloon, was built by George Bradford Leonard, an original settler. He died in 1899 so the saloon, pool hall, Kamas Klub, must have been built sometime in the 1890s. The pool hall was inhabited each night (except for Sunday by law) by a group of men who played Sluff, Penny Ante and Pool. Beer was also served. There is a rumor that whiskey might have been served there during Prohibition. Other owners of the Hall were Joe Williams, who had the sawmill next door, I.W. Fitzgerald and Herman Crystal.
Helen remembers having to go to pool hall to give messages to her father from her mother, but she would never go in because it was filled with smoke and smelled bad.
Killcare Dance Hall. At age 15, Helen was new to the valley and was quite shy. Her parents thought it would be a good idea to take her to the local dance hall, where some of the people of Kamas, Young and old, went to socialize, dance, and visit. Helen said, “I could never understand why my parents thought it was a good idea to take their 15-year-old daughter at a dance hall.” The dance hall was in Woodland and was only open on Saturday night. There was a live band where Larry Holt played, and Bessie Russell sometimes played the piano. Helen did meet young people there. One of those she met was Ray Jones. They were married in 1948.
Helen’s graduating class would have been 1950. She did not graduate with her class, because she was married, but she does attend the reunions of the South Summit class of 1950. She and Ray lived in a couple of houses in Kamas until they moved into her present home, the little white house next to the Post Office at 65 West 100 North. There, she and Ray raised their six boys. They were born from 1949 to 1963.
Living in Kamas. The thing that Helen misses most about how it was to live in Kamas was how safe it was. Her boys could go anywhere, and she knew they would be safe. If her boys did something they were not supposed to do, a neighbor would tell her, and she would be ready for them when they got home with a scolding or wooden spoon. She remembers how parents and children alike, respected the schoolteachers and Church Leaders.
She recalls how the people of Kamas took care of one another. She relates that the Hoyt brothers, Bill, Bob, and Stiff, who ran the store during the depression and war years extended credit to those who could not afford to pay. Quoted in the Kamas Centennial book, Stiff said, “There was a lot of credit back then. Mostly people would pay in the fall after they sold their produce and cattle.” That generous attitude carried on through three generations of Hoyts running the local grocery store. Third generation brothers, Kevin and John would provide loads of candy and oranges at the Church Christmas parties. Sadly, Kevin and John retired shortly after they sold to Kamas Foodtown.
William Gines, Helen’s Grandfather played a significant role in Helen’s family after they moved to Kamas.
He homesteaded a piece of property in Francis that was considered exceptionally good land but discovered he could not afford the taxes. William bought a piece of property across the street where Helen now lives and started to build a house. The house was just a frame when Helen’s family moved to Kamas. William asked Sig to help him finish the house. Helen’s family moved into the house and paid rent to William who now had a house and family to live with until his death in 1953. He had been a widower since 1935.
Helen recalls her family dropping her grandfather off up in the Uinta Mountains and leaving him there to camp for several days while he searched for the “Lost Rhoades Mine.” Apparently, many people in Kamas Valley believed and still believe there is gold in “them thar hills.” Helen stated, “He never found any gold.”
When William lived with Helen’s family, from 1946 to 1953, his routine was to eat breakfast, smoke a big cigar and then spend the entire day and evening in the Pool Hall. Sometimes he would come home for dinner and sometimes not. When he missed dinner, he would ask Helen’s mother, “Do you have any of them sodie biscuits?”
What We Did for Fun. When asked what she did for fun as a teenager, she said she got in the car with her family and drove over Wolf Creek Pass to Tabiona and visit friends and family. When asked about what her boys did for fun, she said they loved to go fishing in Beaver Creek and the Rocky Point (mid-way on Democrat Alley).
Kamas Buildings. The Old Green Hall (Now the New West store on Main street) is the building she has the fondest memories. This was the heart of the town. Special programs were held there like the annual Christmas Party. Christmas parties, in Kamas Valley, were and still are celebrated not as a community but as a Ward or Church group. In Helen’s time there was only one ward in Kamas. These parties were very elaborate. There was a program where the children sang and acted out the Nativity. Lots of food and candy and oranges were donated by the Hoyts, the Stiff, Bill and Bob generation. The children would dress up as Christmas trees, Jack-in-Boxes, and all sorts of other decorations. The Green Hall was also used for dances, battle of the bands, New Year’s Eve parties and baptisms were held in the basement for the children of Kamas. The font is still there.
For a time, Helen and her family lived across the street from the King Store. She has pictures of her boys playing in front of the store with the Chavez boys whose family lived above the store. The King store, at one time had a dentist office on the second floor.
Even though Helen was not raised by church going Latter-day Saints parents, she always liked going to Church and she said she always believed. Her church going experiences consisted of going to Primary with the neighborhood kids. As a widowed adult, in her late 80s, Helen faithfully attends church services every Sunday. She is still a bit reserved and quiet, but when she does share something in class, everyone listens because whatever she says adds insight and wisdom to the discussion.
Helen has always been a sweet good soul. I look up to her as a great role model.
I love hearing these stories!! Thank you.. Helen is priceless!! We love her!!
What a great story and what a great life. I did not know there was a dance all in Woodland