The following is first-person oral history from Jim Hewitson as told to David Nicholas. It is the fifth article in an occasional series on Jim Hewitson’s life.
Last week we explored the challenges confronting me in the summer of 1968 – academic, economic, and personal. An appropriate employment opportunity could remedy all three. At the beginning of September my older brother Bill mentioned a rumor that United Park City Mines (UPCM) needed a watchman for the weekend shifts at their Keetley complex.
I contacted Professor Cone to inquire if he was aware of this opportunity. He stated that yes, the rumor was true. UPCM needed a weekend watchman and the sooner the better. Scott Casper, the current weekend watchman, had recently given two weeks’ notice. Professor Cone offered to contact his UPCM associates with a recommendation on my behalf. I thanked him profusely! Securing the job would solve my cash flow crunch and continue our family legacy – at least through this generation. I was prepared to balance the academic, social, and work demands – I had no choice. I completed an application and mailed it in. Thus, the afternoon of Tuesday, October 1, 1968 found me driving to Keetley for an interview with UPCM and chasing a dream.
As the interview date approached, for the first time in my life I contemplated the burden associated with upholding the Hewitson family tradition. Please understand that those who preceded me excelled in their respective assignments. A nagging question manifested itsel: did I possess the “right stuff” to make them proud? I buried such doubts as best I could. I doubled down on obtaining the position. My focus was to deliver a command performance. After all, I was a Hewitson – I was destined to work in Park City’s mines!
I pulled into the parking lot. Walking towards the administration building I was momentarily distracted by the Union Pacific Park City local switching gondolas in the mine railyard. Opening the door a few minutes before 2 p.m. it was obvious my arrival was expected. Pleasantries were exchanged, smiles all around including some good-natured jokes about “another Hewitson” working for UPCM. I was directed to a meeting room.
My Dad and two of my brothers (Bill and Reed, all three UPCM alumni) anticipated that I would be interviewed by Bob Hyde (Master Mechanic) and Scott Jasper (the soon to be leaving weekend watchmen). Indeed, they were waiting for me. Their respective reputations: smart, no nonsense, safety first, and fair. UPCM mining veterans for sure, like my family. As I sat down, whatever trepidations lingered dissipated. These were my people. I looked forward to any line of inquiry. I was born to this!
During the course of conversation we discussed my education, career aspirations, family connections, the importance of safety, job requirements, and the future of mining in Park City. This last topic surprised me. As the meeting tapered to a close Bob glanced at Scott and with a smile asked if I could begin work on Friday, October 4.
“Yes sir, of course!”
The two gentlemen each shook my hand offering congratulations – and the job. I would report to Bob Hyde, as his responsibilities included outside maintenance. Scott would train me. That Tuesday evening Hewitson friends and family gathered at my parents’ house for a celebratory dinner. At least for the next nine months my circumstances were settled academically, economically, and professionally. A dream realized.
Stay tuned to learn about my responsibilities, adventures and misadventures working as a weekend watchman for UPCM.
The Park City Museum will be closed for Sundance from Tuesday, January 17 through Friday, January 27. We will reopen on Saturday, January 28.