The personal history of Ivan J. Ray
Written by Ivan Ray for the September 2021 citizen spotlight and included in the September 2021 city newsletter.
SOUTH WEBER VALLEY
Ivan J. Ray was born and raised in South Weber. He remembers watching industrialization and change over the past 75 years. As a small boy of four years old (1949), he recalls riding in a small yellow dump truck with his father, as they would drive to South Weber Sand and Gravel Pit, to haul road base material which was spread on portions of unpaved road along South Weber Drive (SR-60). This happened every spring for a number of years. During the winter the snow was piled along South Weber Drive as deep as 8 feet in some places, due to night time East winds. It became necessary on straight stretches of the main road to have pull-out areas to allow vehicles to pass on the narrow one lane road.
In 1948 / 1949 the winter was severe for the approximately 250 persons residing in 78 homes throughout South Weber.
A good trick or treat Halloween happened when you visited all 78 homes in the valley from Lincoln and Letha Smith on the East, then West five and a half miles to Vern and Vonda Coy near the county line, acquiring popcorn balls, apples, cookies, and candy. South Weber was a rural farming community for many years. All irrigation was accomplished by flooding the land from several ditches: Bambrough, Bybee, Jones, Dunn, South Weber ditches, and the Davis and Weber Counties Canal. There was no pressurized irrigation anywhere in South Weber until 1983. Many property owners drilled wells for drinking water. Sometimes boiling ditch water for culinary needs. Heating homes prior to the arrival of natural gas was done by burning coal in “Pop Belly” cast iron stoves and in coal burning furnaces. Most farm houses had out-houses. Eventually septic tanks were buried. They were replaced by a central sewer system in the mid 1980’s.
The Naval Arsenal in Roy gave South Weber Town their cast iron, lead joint water transmission pipeline system. It went from Roy on the West, East to Weber Canyon, which was the water source. South Weber’s water source was Military Springs up the mountain near the mouth of Weber Canyon about 1,200 feet up the South Canyon wall just above the present day Davis and Weber Counties Canal Company diversion structure on the Weber River. Ivan remembers every fall, the Boy Scouts would carry cement and/or sand in white cloth sacks up the narrow trail to repair and improve the hand-made storage reservoir for residential culinary water. Each bag of cement powder or sand weighed about 70 pounds. There was no Golds Gym in those days. The water from the spring was not treated. This was the culinary water supply for upper South Weber until 1961, when Weber Basin Water Conservancy District bored a tunnel from Mountain Green through the mountain on the South canyon wall to East South Weber in an effort to transport more water to Davis and Weber Counties. This project damaged the South Weber Military Spring water source. Ivan’s father Joseph H. Ray, who was a City official, donated a section of property east of the former Ray’s Valley Service Business, so that a deep culinary well could be drilled. Weber Basin was also required to supply additional water to the city. There were in those days, 8 households that shared a telephone party line, cordially taking turns on the telephone.
Ivan remembers his mother asking him to take his homemade fishing-pole and go down to the Weber River to catch some fish for dinner. There was no I-84 Freeway, only Beaver Dams at the Weber River. As a child, Ivan remembers the family farm, especially 500 chickens housed in the orange brick building, west of the former Ray’s Valley Service. He fed the chickens, cleaned the chicken coup, gathered and candled the eggs, to be delivered to the “American Food Stores”.
After Ivan graduated from Weber State College, he attended Naval Aviation Officer Candidate School in Pensacola, Florida, was commissioned and served as a naval aviator. He is a Vietnam War veteran. In 1969 Ivan, his dad; Joseph Ray, and his brother Harold Ray borrowed $12,000 and built the first convenience store and gas station in South Weber Valley. Fuel was 23.9 a gallon for regular gas, 5 loaves of bread for $1.00, Johnny’s Dairy milk was .65 cents a gallon, and an 8 pack of 16 oz. glass bottles of Pepsi was .99 cents. Everything was bought and paid for as the business grew. A larger addition was added in 1991. Ray’s Valley service conducted an airplane “candy drop” for several years on South Weber Days Saturday afternoon. Ivan was asked by the Weber River Water User’s Association and the Davis and Weber Counties Canal Company to be their water manager in 2003. Two main improvements came benefiting South Weber for years to come. The Davis and Weber Counties Canal Company was completely rehabilitated with new canal liner and/or box culvert throughout the nine miles of canal in South Weber and Riverdale. Secondly, the Echo Reservoir that supplies water to South Weber received a seismic embankment repair. Ivan and his wife Shirley have 4 children and 9 grandchildren. He and Shirley reside on Canyon Drive and enjoy the many friends and neighbors throughout the South Weber Valley.