He’s a “tall drink of water” comes to mind when one spots Eldon Kearl, resident of Fish Havenand communications officer for the County’s Search and Rescue operations. Back in Fielding High School, Eldon developed a keen interest in ham radio and now bounces signals off the three repeaters from Montpelier to Laketown. He shares his enthusiasm with “hams” in far-flung spots such as Homeland Security in Boise, the American Red Cross in Ogden or a friend in Hawaii by twisting the dial on his handheld five-watt unit which bounces from M Hill’s 100 watt station.
In 2002 during the Salt Lake Winter Olympics, Eldon worked radios for 17 days and was present with the Governor and Mitt Romney in the state capitol when President Bush walked through. Radios buzz with crackling voices once a month for check-ins with Idaho’s and Utah’s emergency net, the Bishop’s Storehouse and elsewhere to assure the system operates as designed. Eldon has helped key the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s opening number “Come, Come Ye Saints” at the 150th anniversary of the saints’ entry to the Salt Lake Valley while also letting Mayor Corradini know the location of the wagon representing her constituents.
To keep himself busy, Eldon took a liking to tractors and farm equipment, but cars and trucks are interesting too. Suddenly, Eldon was meeting Marvin Jenkins, the son of Ab Jenkins who created the Mormon Meteor which raced on the Bonneville Salt Flats. Eldon became caretaker of the famed race car, transporting and fixing it for showings, including an appearance in The Days of ’47 Parade where the car was pulled by Eldon’s father’s old tractor. Kyle Petty, NASCAR driver; Jay Leno, car enthusiast; Larry Hagman, best known as Dallas’ J.R. Ewing and Norm Bangerter, Utah’s governor, were introduced to Eldon because of his interests. Electronics also rate in Eldon’s world and his two large robots stand nearby, along with an overflowing binder housing the many awards garnered from local, state and national science fairs and cities honored his fire safety classes led by his robotic creations.
Ever a gatherer, Eldon has pictures with an almost bewildering array of both luminaries and neighbors paired with mementos ranging from Fish Haven emphemera to a cane sporting a phone, horn, toilet paper and lantern. He raked leaves and maintained cabins at the Fish Haven Resort as a youngster, making 40 cents an hour, proven by his paystub carefully framed and hung near the resort’s round life preserver. Forty of Eldon’s career years were spent in camper manufacturing where he learned to “lock down” valued employees with good wages. Eldon ran a ranch, owned sea planes he piloted, developed real estate, amassed antique cars, boarded horses, became a fireman, and always, always, collected paraphernalia from the good ole’ days, particularly from Fish Haven’s early history. St. Charles’ oak church pew found its way into Eldon’s collection and it sits proudly near the light blue, pine bench from Fish Haven’s ward. Joe Stock’s fishing pole resides beside a picture of the gruff old pioneer and multiple license plates from all 50 states starting in 1909 are given wall space. You can eye a Model A right here or an unnumbered group of oil cans over there. “I’ve always worked for myself and had success with a whole bunch of people helping me. And I’m still collecting,” said Eldon while his wife, Jan, retorted that, “He can’t find anywhere else to spend his money!” A charming character with a broad sense of humor, Eldon is both a collector and an historian, keeping his fingers in the “now” with radios while cherishing the old times.