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Mining-town doctor had some colorful tales of Bingham to tell

(Russell G. Frazier worked in Bingham as a mining company doctor from 1918 until 1961 when the town was evacuated to make room for mine expansion. In a 1960s Utah Historical Quarterly article, he recounts some of the colorful history of the town.)

I started to work for Dr. D.H. Ray. My conveyance was a big, black horse, my salary $100 per month, room, board and experience. My competitors were Dr. J.F. Flynn and Dr. F.E. Straup, the mayor of the town. These old doctors were great guys, well-qualified in their work and very friendly to the young doctor, who knew it all. They came to my rescue on many occasions. . . .The Bingham District including Lark had a population of about 9,000 people. At one time Bingham had 17 different nationalities, including one Negro, Billie McCloud, an old teamster. Billie did not know that he was a Negro. He lived up Freeman Gulch and associated with the whites on equal terms until his death.

Mr. Charlie Adderly, the manager of the Bingham Mercantile Company, was one of the grand persons whom I remember most kindly. Many were the bills for groceries Mr. Adderly handed out the back door of his store knowing well that he would not get paid. During the Depression years there were very few people in Bingham that did not owe him a grocery and clothing bill. How he managed to carry all of them I will never know. He told me one day that most of the people had repaid him.

I must mention Mrs. Breckon, Grandma Mayne and Mary Jane Crow. These good women spent many nights on the reception committee to most of Bingham's future citizens. I have seen them wade through snow up to their waists to be at the side of some girl when she was having her first baby. The comforting presence of these kindly women holding the hand of a girl in pain made my work much easier. We delivered over 4,000 babies in homes without an infection, which speaks volumes for the good care these women gave in homes of Italians, Greeks, Slovakians and just plain Americans. Many of these mothers could not speak one word of English, but the children from these homes became some of Utah's finest first citizens.

We had some great characters too. Joe Berger, I think, tops the list. Joe came to Bingham as a mortician and ran the gauntlet - cigar store, pool hall operator and souvenir salesman. Joe told of the big shooting in Bingham, the Lopez manhunt. When an outlaw by the name of Lopez killed several men, Joe was to bury one of the victims. There was no money. So Joe dressed the victim in a black suit, put his gold watch chain across his vest, a cigar in his mouth and a plug hat on his head, stood him up in the back of the funeral parlor and charged admission to see him. Joe said he had enough left over for flowers.

Another character that everyone in Utah knew was Dr. A.L. Inglesby. Besides being a good dentist, Doc, as everyone called him, ran the Bingham-Salt Lake stage line, operated the garage and had one of the finest rock collections in the state.

Bill Fahrni, manager of the Lark Mercantile, came over to have Doc put an inlay in a tooth. After the metal clamps, rubber dam and pads were in place, the phone rang. Doc grabbed his hat and flew out of the office, telling Bill he would be back in a minute. After about 45 minutes the phone furiously rang. It was Doc, calling from Midvale. The stage driver had not shown up and he had driven the stage to Salt Lake, completely forgetting his patient. He told Bill to go downstairs and get the druggist to cut him loose.

On Saturday afternoons, the "good" women and their daughters did not come uptown. The girls from "up the street" started their parade to the doctor's office for their weekly checkup. At one time there were over 50 of these girls in town. As they came rustling down the street in their silks and satins and big picture hats, the pool halls emptied on to the narrow steps out in front. Of course, no one spoke. This was "etiquette."

The narrow street was part of Bingham - seven miles long and 40 feet wide, with a narrow strip of concrete for a sidewalk. The houses were built back up the mountainside. My roof was your front porch and running right down through the center of town was the open sewer. No stench and no bacteria. You probably wonder why we did not all die from some epidemic. The copper water from the mines killed both stench and bacteria. . . .

We had no juvenile delinquency. The words were not heard. Basketball and baseball were run by the American Legion. There was scouting for both boys and girls and everyone participated . . . The boys and girls were made to mind at home. The teachers were wonderful disciplinarians. . . .

I am proud to have been a part of this fine old mining town. They were happy years with these hard-working men and women. They are scattered throughout our valley towns, still working at the mines, still being good neighbors and fine citizens, proudly looking back on the years to the town that was Bingham Canyon.