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Honey House gone, but memories will last for a lifetime | Preston Citizen

Honey House gone, but memories will last for a lifetime

May 18, 2014
By

Building near football practice field demolished to make a grounds keeping shed for school district equipment 

By NECIA P. SEAMONS 

Citizen staff writer

Preston lost another landmark recently – not an illustrious one. Nevertheless, with white paint peeling from its wooden walls, the one-story honey house south of Preston High School had been used by Preston School District for storage for around 30 years, said present and former district employees. After Robert Crosland reclaimed much of the material in the building, Franklin County crews demolished and hauled off the rest.

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The honey house was built in the 30s to process honey and repair beehives, said Lynn Olsen. Its builder was his father, Dewey Stringham Olsen, who passed away at the age of 97, in 1995.

Recently, as Preston School District employees Larry Hansen and Craig Kunz prepared the building for demolition, Lynn walked across Preston High School’s greening soccer field and reminisced with them about the days he spent spinning honey from bee boards with his dad and siblings, said Hansen.

Dewey came to Preston in 1923, fresh out of the University of Utah with a degree, to succeed Professor C.J. Engar in teaching music at Preston High School, which was then housed in the Oneida Stake Academy building.

Recorded in the April 1974 edition of the Cache Valley Newsletter, Dewey recalled that performing on the stage was “a little different back then, as there was no sound amplification (on stage). I’d tell the operetta cast, ‘Exercise your lungs – and remember, you’re singing to that guy in the back seat.’”

Robert Crosland and a couple of students help demolish the honey house last month. A Preston School District grounds keeping building will be built in its place.

Robert Crosland and a couple of students help demolish the honey house last month. A Preston School District grounds keeping building will be built in its place.

Dewey and his wife, Louise Kunzler, of Willard, Utah, purchased a five-bedroom home from a Mr. Packer on the corner of Second East and Third South. On the side, he and Al Hart worked for a Mr. Sharp who had a honey business on the north side of Preston.

It wasn’t long before Dewey and Hart decided to go into business for themselves. “Mr. Hart was older and had some money, and dad had the ground, so they built the honey house and went into business,” said Lynn. When Hart died, Dewey continued the business with his children.

Although Dewey changed schools throughout his teaching career (he taught music and math in Wyoming, Weston, Heyburn and Moreland), he maintained the honey business, said Lynn. So, there was always a summer job for Dewey’s eight children and a place for himself and Louise when he retired from teaching.

When Lynn was in grade school, he said his job was to be the “go-fer” in his father’s bee business. As he and his siblings learned more responsibilities they would help repair hives, check them for foul brood – a highly contagious disease that kills bee larvae – and extract and package the honey.

“That was a major part of our work most of the summer. Then in the fall, when the bees were running out of nectar, they would start extracting the honey out of the comb. We had a large circular tank with baskets that would turn inside of the tank and throw the honey out inside of the tank.

“One day, I got caught in the spinning machine, and it chewed up my elbow. The hired hand shut it off and got me out, and they patched me up in the hospital. I was about 15 years old,” said Lynn.

He and his siblings eventually moved on, and Dewey continued working with bees “until he couldn’t do it anymore, which was when he was in his 80s,” said Lynn.

During the early 60s, Preston School District was required by a state mandate to increase its playground space to five acres per 100 students, said former PHS teacher and caretaker, David Mitchell. At that time the district purchased several properties on the block south of Preston High School.


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