Stories of Josephine M. Neeley -- the early days (and then some)
Question: OK, where did these stories come from anyway?
Answer: Well, I 're-discovered' a compilation of life stories deep in the recesses of my 'things' entitled:
Life History and Stories
Parley Rhead Neeley, September 30, 1903 - May 24, 1986
and Josephine Mitchell Neeley, August 31, 1902 - October 21, 1997
compiled by Parley Mitchell Neeley, February 2000
Now, you already have Parley Rhead's Stories (except for a few additions which I will make there after going through this compilation), and even Parley Mitchell's stories, but below are Grandma Neeley's stories -- at least those I thought might be of general interest -- of a young girl growing up in the small Southern Utah town of Parowan.
Note: From this point on, any of my words (additions, notes, paragraph headings, etc.) will be in italics but writing taken directly from the compilation will be in non-italics font. For example;
Dad noted that Grandma was sensitive of her age because she was one year older than Grandpa. Sorry Grandma -- secrets out -- just look at those dates above. :-)
Note: Also be sure to visit: The Dedicatory Prayer for Josephine Mitchell Neeley and Dad's 'Tribute' At Her Funeral
Here are the story headings. Click on them to go to a particular story, or read them top to bottom .
|Grandmother Orton||No Friend At All|
|Grandfather Orton||To Stand By A Friend|
|Grandfather Mitchell||Father At The Head|
|Birth||A First Job|
|A Young Girl's Day||A First Date|
|A Young Girl's Work||Birth Of A Nation|
|Horses, Telephones, and Old Blossom||Trey Of Hearts|
|Warner Teaches a Good Lesson||Boys|
|Sewing||The Butter Factory|
|The Jokester||Harold's Mission|
|Early Parowan||To The Big City|
|Parowan's Earliest Car||The Black Influenza|
|Utilities||Having Tonsils Out|
|What We Wore||'Halt' Wouldn't|
|The Peeping Tom||College|
|Church||When Mother Died|
|The Bad Word||The "U"|
|The Signatures||Christmas 1926|
|Summers in the Mountains||A Last Story . . . The Honeymoon|
Also, I've added stories from later in life. These may perhaps mean more to family members, but then again, there are some good stories here of love, life and happiness -- you just might enjoy them.
|The Trousseau||Glendive and Douglas' Birth|
|First Apartment||The Church and Missionaries|
|Kamas||Trying to Leave Williston, but Pneumonia Strikes|
|Daniel, then Yuma||Price|
|Pinedale, Tulsa, Green River, and Parker||Spanish Fork|
|Leaving Ogden||At The 50th Wedding Anniversary|
Just discovered (03/16) a collection of stories Grandma wrote about Christmases long ago, titled: 'Christmas at Home Series'.
Don't miss my Dad's history and tribute to Grandma -- it has some good stories too.
I am the eighth child of a family of twelve, five boys and seven girls, born to William Cooke Mitchell III and Laurette Orton Mitchell.
Dad notes in the margins: Actually 14! You need to add a little boy stillborn, and a little girl, named Lula, who lived only a short time.
William Cooke Mitchell II and Mary Ann Holmes are my paternal grandparents; Alexander and Jane Holmes Orton are my maternal grandparents. All four grandparents were born in England and migrated to the United States for the Gospel's sake.
Grandfather Mitchell came to Utah, with his father, William Cooke Mitchell I, in 1849. They were the first company to settle in Southern Utah, arriving in Parowan January 13, 1851, under the leadership of George A. Smith (See history of Wm. Cooke Mitchell II).
Grandmother Orton pulled a handcart across the plains when she was 15 years old. She came with the Israel Evans Company, arriving in Parowan in 1857. Grandfather Orton came to Utah a year earlier with the Edward Bunker Company, arriving in Salt Lake City in October 1856. He was sent, with supplies, to assist the ill-fated Martin Company to S.L.C., going on to Parowan late the same year.
I'm proud of my ancestry and pioneer heritage. I admire their courage and sacrifices in leaving their homes in England to come to the barren desert, that was Utah at that time, for their religious convictions.
Grandmother Orton, mother of 10, seven girls and three boys, was a short 5 foot 1 inches tall, pleasingly plump little soul with an English accent and a droll sense of humor. When she needed help she'd call "Come Harriet, Jenny, Lizzie, Laura, Rettie, . . .", then in disgust finished with "Ah, shit, hark ye!".
Two of her teen-age grandsons often teased her asking, "What kind or make is your kitchen range?"
"Hacme Ammer", she'd reply.
It was really an Acme-Hammer; the boys liked to hear her put the A's where the H's belonged and vice versa.
Grandpa moved the outhouse, or privy, to a new location facing the side street. A tall board fence supposedly provided a shield from passers-by. But, when a neighbor on horseback trotted along the sidewalk, just as a gust of wind blew the door open, exposing Grandma on the throne, she was "proper blazing". The rider doffed his hat saying, "Good morning, Sister Orton". Of course her voluminous skirts covered all. She was indignant, "Why didn't he pretend not to see me, that would have been more gentlemanly and less embarrassing to me?".
Grandpa kept bees along with farming and a small city job. I can see him yet with his protective screen-wire fastened to the top of his hat, protecting him to his shoulders as he gathered dripping honey combs from the hives. He would reward us with a small piece of comb if we'd been good to stay on the other side of the orchard fence where the hives were kept.
Grandfather Mitchell seemed older and less approachable than Grandpa Orton. He never joked; he'd hold us on his lap and love us with little demonstration of affection. Grandpa Mitchell came to our house nearly every morning to talk over some business and to chat with Mother. Before I started for school, I watched for him at the window. His dark pants, vest, and white shirt could be seen a block and a half away. When I announced his coming, Mother would say, "Clear off a chair and dust it for him to sit on". In the children's haste to get to school they often left every chair in the front room piled with nightgowns, pajamas, etc.
Grandfather Mitchell was one of the earliest pioneers to Southern Utah. He reached Parowan Jan 13, 1851. Grandpa filled important positions in church, community, and state. He was sent by Brigham Young to investigate the Mountain Meadow Massacre. He is credited with making the only list of all those killed (See history of William Cooke II).
I never knew my Grandmother Mitchell. She died when my father was only eight years old. Aunt Deanie, Grandfather's fourth wife, was kind and good to us, but not like a grandmother.
I was born at Parowan, Iron County, Utah, August 31, 1902, in the brick home on Third South between Main and First East Streets, on a Sunday morning. The attending physician was Joseph F. McGregor, a dear friend of our parents. At birth I weighed nine pounds and was Mother's second biggest baby; brother Albert claims to distinction of being the largest. My brothers and sisters in order of birth are: William Warner, Florence Laurette, Rosabelle, Joseph Harold, Kathleen, Mary Ann, Ada, Josephine (myself), Douglas Orton, Laura, Albert Orton, and Karl Orton.
A Young Girl's Day
Being number eight in a family of twelve, neither the oldest, the youngest, the first of my sex, nor the smartest gave me no advantage over the other eleven. I grew up climbing fences, trees, and even the big barn, sometimes inside on mounds of hay and sometimes on the outside to the very top, straddling the cornice. I waded the irrigation ditches, and explored the empty break-water channel looking for matched, smooth rocks for a set of 'jacks'. With my brothers and sisters I explored the nearby Spring Hill, so named for a large cool spring at its base. The pond was on private property; the older boys and their cousins ventured into the pond for a swim. We'd been taught the pond was "off limits" so the boys threatened us if we tattled on them. We hunted pine nuts and pine gum on the Red Hills, always going home by way of the cemetery, meandering through the granite monuments laboriously spelling out the names and epitaphs of those buried beneath. Invariably, we ended up at a grave of a polygamist, Edward Dalton, who was shot by a federal officer. "Murdered in Cold Blood" the inscription read, sending cold chills down our spines and a reminder to be on our way home.
Prevalent at this time was the philosophy that little girls should be seen and not heard. Mother often quoted the maxim:
"Let they voice be low and gentle, 'Tis an ass who brays; A gentlewomen speaks low."
I was somewhat subdued by those older than I and seldom did I have a chance to make my own decisions; they were handed down to me 'ready-made' as were most of my clothes. My brother Al put me in my place by dubbing me the "Ugly Duckling". I must have had some redeeming traits, like patience, for I've heard the incident recounted by family members that I sat at the dinner table asking, "Please give me some lean meat, please." Repeating my request until all the meat was gone and those who could have passed it were gone too.
A Young Girl's Work
There was work for all of us to do. The girls mostly helped in the house, except at harvest time when we helped wherever needed. I winnowed beans, picked corn and husked it, topped carrots, picked sage, and spread the leaves on a sheet to dry, besides picking fruit, apples, peaches, and plums. I helped dry corn, after it was steamed and cut from the cob, we'd spread it on a clean sheet on the roof of the back porch where the sun would hit it most of the day. One balmy September evening Douglas and I climbed the ladder to the roof, huddled under a shawl in a secluded corner, and talked ourselves to sleep. A count taken at bedtime revealed our absence. Our brothers and sisters scoured the neighborhood without success. Mother's calling from the porch below aroused us. I answered, "We're here, Mama". Douglas, still half-asleep, made for the ladder. Screams from me and those below stopped him in time to save a serious fall.
We dried scads of plums -- two or three seamless sacks full were stored in the attic along with other dried fruits. We'd take the salt shaker and help ourselves to the plums and apples. Salt sharpened their flavor.
Mother canned lots of fruit. I helped her by washing the jars and lids and running errands to the cellar and woodpile. Five-hundred quarts of fruit, besides jams and jellies and pickles, were stored for winter use. We also grew a big garden, enough for family, friends, and the indigent. For winter use Father dug pits and lined them with straw, placed the vegetables, carrots, parsnips, rutabagas, cabbage, and the beets under a layer of straw, and finally, a wooden lid with sod on top -- making it easy to get the produce during the winter. Potatoes, squash, dry onions, dry beans, and apples were kept in the basement of the granary.
I was not yet in school when Mother sent me to the granary to get a few dry beans. I knew what a 'few' meant for I'd been sent for potatoes earlier and when asked how many were a 'few', Mother said "Eight or nine". As I counted out the beans the amount looked so small in the pan sent to get them, that I added a handful more. Mother could hardly stop laughing when she looked into the pan. In defense I said, "You told me a few was eight or nine when you sent me for potatoes yesterday".
Besides the fruit and vegetables from the orchard and garden, Dad raised wheat which was made into flour and cereal at the local mill just a mile away. We kids loved to go with him, on the wagon, to get a grist of wheat ground. While Dad was busy, we'd scamper around to the various cereal bins and help ourselves to a handful of oatmeal, cracked wheat, or germade until we got caught.
Five hundred pounds of flour was the usual amount to store at home. Mother would have the huge wooden bin cleaned and ready to receive it. Once Daddy emptied only four bags, saying that he had another place for the fifth. That night after supper Dad took me with him on Old Dee to deliver the fifth bag which was already tied behind the saddle, making me promise not to tell a single soul about it. My job was to hold the horse while Dad took the flour to the doorstep then made a hasty get-away. Dad stopped in the shade of a locust tree, gave me the reins, as I slid into the saddle, he untied the bag of flour, shouldered it and noiselessly delivered it to the front steps of the Connell home. I played with the Connell girls and had no idea that they were in need. Their daddy was seldom home; made his living herding sheep. After that I never complained about carrying fresh fruit and vegetables to their home.
Dad kept beef cattle, sheep, hogs and Mother had a small flock of chickens, giving us a good variety of meat. Beef and sheep were slaughtered whenever we needed fresh meat and the hogs were killed in late fall or winter. Hams and bacon were salt cured then stored in the wheat bins, under the wheat for safe keeping. Fat was rendered for lard and the tag ends of fat for soap, made outside in a huge caldron (Dad taught me to make soap the Spring after Mother died).
One job I hated was to ride the horse to operate the hay derrick. More than once my direction was changed with a well aimed clod of dirt. I never seemed to understand just what was expected of me. Riding horses was almost a daily occurrence and most of them were docile little riding ponies, not big, broad, work horses that I couldn't get my short legs over their backs. For instance, Al (Albert) called me "stupid", once, when I rode behind him on Old Dan, without a saddle, up to Monument Point (now called Brian Head), clinging to him with all my might. I all but pulled him off! He gave me a 'dressing down' in the strongest words he knew. I've always accused him of holding on to Old Dan's ears (which of course he didn't).
Horses, Telephones, and Old Blossom
Dick and Tommy were two gentle ponies which were safe for us to ride. Dick was willing and good natured, letting as many as four of us kids mount him at the same time. Tommy was balky, and needed coaxing to get going. He'd switch you with his tail or strike at you with his head if he didn't like what you were doing. The telephone company hired us kids for messenger service. If the call came for someone living in the north field we might earn as much as a quarter, but about town it was usually ten or fifteen cents. Three, even four of us, would bridle Old Dick, climb on his bare back, and be off to summon someone to the telephone. After one such trip on Tommy we were dumped off in the dust in front of the telephone office. The dust was so deep that no one was hurt.
More than once I rode to town with Kathy, sharing the back of the saddle with a dozen pounds of butter tied securely in a sack. Old Tommy, a gray pony with both a lazy and stubborn streak in him was our steed. He was hard to get started and just as hard to stop when we neared town and the smell of fresh, green fields reached his nostrils. When Kathy could no longer hold him she'd shout, "Hold on for dear life!". I did but that was not enough. Tommy ran right up to the corral gate, stopped short pitching us both over his head into the corral. We scrambled out of the mire, hurried to the house, hoping that the butter could be salvaged. While the family was at Bear-Flat I was left in town to keep Kathleen company (she was then a telephone operator) and to take care of the ripening Yellow Transparent apples and our diminutive Jersey cow, Pansy. Before I caught on to the secret of getting the milk down, I'd dried the cow up. Kathy was not much help with the cow but between the two of us we canned over sixty quarts of apples.
We always called Albert and Karl ‘The little boys'; they were given responsibilities beyond their years. They were trusted with taking the horses to the field when they were eight and six years old. They climbed on a high stack of hay to feed the cattle, drove the cows home through town, trying their hardest to keep Old Blossom, our white-faced milk cow, from drinking at the fountain on Main Street. They took the marshal’s threat seriously when he told them if he ever caught her drinking at the fountain again he'd make hamburger out of her. They changed the route home to First East. All went well until they reached Bill Gurr's lane then Blossom cut out on a trot, increasing her speed to a run when she discovered Albert was hot on her heels. She reached the fountain just as the Marshall pulled up on his horse with his whip raised ready to teach her a lesson. Al was out of breath and about to cry: "Don't whip her, the water is cooler and cleaner than in the watering trough. I promise not to let her get away from me again". That tough old marshal put down his whip and started to leave saying, "That's O.K. sonny, no harm done". They rode all the horses including the high spirited, the newly broken and the wide backed work horses whose backs were so wide it was like sitting on the floor or the ground to ride them.
Warner Teaches a Good Lesson
Warner taught me a valuable lesson in telling the truth. With so many children in the family, combs were hard to keep track of, even though Dad installed a comb case accessible to all. Grooming before going to school left the case empty with no time to make a room search. Warner always had a good, clean comb on his dresser, which was forbidden to us kids. Afraid of being late for school, I tiptoed into his room thinking he was asleep, and proceeded to use his comb. Caught! I made a flimsy excuse and Warner said, "Why don't you tell the truth? I don't mind your using my comb if you clean it out and leave it on the dresser."
Warner had Polio after he had learned to walk. This disease was not understood and little could be done by the doctors to correct it, hence he was left with a limp the rest of his life. When he was through school he ran for the office of County Clerk. His opponent, during a campaign speech, suggested that voters not be influenced through pity to elect his opponent. When Warner heard of this he said, “Better to have a lame leg than a lame brain!”
Her loved horses and kept a thoroughbred mare named Jane for his and his family's pleasure. One early June morning in 1940 he rode the mare, as was his custom, before going to his office. Some animal, perhaps a skunk or coyote, jumped out of the bushes startling her and she jumped sideways throwing Warner to the stony ground, resulting in his death. He is buried in the Parowan Cemetery. He left a wife and four children.
My first machine sewing was making my own and sisters panties out of flour sacks. It was not always possible to wash the print from the sacks, consequently our seats were often labeled "Parowan Roller Mill" or, "Pikes Peak". I learned to crochet, tat, knit, needle point and later quilting. I made my own patterns and sewed my own and sister’s dresses. I had elementary sewing in high school, but experience in taking old clothes a-part and refashioning them gave me good training in tailoring and general 'know-how'. Mother promised silk material for both Ada and myself. She bought silk taffeta; Ada's was pink and mine a soft blue, with sheer georgette in the same colors for trimming. I took great pride in making those dresses, pleating the georgette for shawl collars, working out a suitable design, and embroidering it in gold beads across the stomach, a popular style then. This may not sound elegant to you, but we were the envy of all the girls near our age. As my own children came along, I sewed everything they wore including coats (even Parley preferred "Jo-made" pajamas).
I showed some originality -- carried pails of water from my elbow. It seemed less of a strain on my back as well as less heavy. One of my daily tasks was to empty the night pots, carrying them from the house, across the plowed east lot or cornfield, through the pole fence, over the irrigation ditch, and to the sagebrush patch beyond the road. I made two trips, one with the white enamel slop-pail from the upstairs bedrooms, and another with the with the white porcelain "thunder mug" from Mother's bedroom. One day I rinsed out the pot in the irrigation ditch, stuck a sunflower jauntily through the handle, and wore it on my head back to the house. Mother laughed heartily when she saw my chappo and I'm still being teased about my caprice. A year or so later, when Jake was home from medical school for a vacation, I made a sign reading: "Dr. Bergstrom -- Walk In", and affixed it to the outside door of Florence and Jake's bedroom.
Parowan was a small town; half of its citizens were our relatives. We had plenty of room for work and play under the supervision of our parents. Early as I can remember utility poles lined the center of the streets. Our electrical system was installed in 1907. Aunt Lizzie, Mother's sister, was the first to get electric lights after the commercial houses were supplied -- this because she boarded the installation crew. Her lights were hooked up just in time to have Grandfather and Grandmother Orton's golden wedding reception in her home. A single light bulb hanging from a wire in the center of the living room ceiling with a switch just inside the front door were nothing short of a miracle. Grandmother Orton, looking at the "on" and "off" switch asked:
"When you come 'ome (home) of a dark night, how do you know if it's 'hoff' or 'hon'?"
Hitching posts in front of all the public buildings and in front of the homes of the gentry not only provided a place to tie horses but also 'tricky bars' for the kids to do their acrobatics. Of course they (the hitching posts) disappeared when the automobiles replaced the horse.
Parowan's Earliest Car
By 1915 a few automobiles were seen on Parowan streets. Before that time, about 1909, Alexander Matheson put together some odd pieces of machinery including a single buggy bed, a sulky-plow seat, four metal wheels, an engine powered with kerosene, and a long rod set up for a brake, which worked by hand. Two lanterns were wired on either side of the box, completing the machine. Top speed of this horseless carriage was about 7 miles per hour. As it went 'put-putting' down the street, leaving a plume of blue smoke trailing behind it, on-lookers cheered and marveled over Alexander's ingenuity. In 1916 my brother Warner, then the County Clerk, bought a Model-T Ford; it had side curtains instead of glass windows, a wide running board, narrow hard rubber tires, and had to be cranked to start the motor. Father bought his first car - a Model-A Ford -- in 1925. It was a sedan and had many conveniences not on earlier models including a self starting engine.
Note added 10/01/05: David Neeley, my Uncle, told me a story tonight that Grandma often told him. It seems that a local Parowan Doctor needed to visit Salt Lake City and he and his wife decided to bring the children along, and Grandma too, as a babysitter. Governor Bamberger (Simon Bamberger, Govenor from 1917 to 1921) had paved a single, narrow strip down Main Street of every town from Salt Lake City to Nephi. When the doctor made Nephi, and Nephi's newly paved strip, a new, and at that time, foreign and foreboding, sign met them -- it read "Speed Limit 20" "I don't think we can do it", he said to his wife, and try as he might, he just couldn't get the car up to 20. He had misinterpreted the sign to mean that anyone traveling the strip had to go 20 miles per hour and his new car just didn't have the power to do it.
Water was not yet piped into many homes. We were among the first to have a cold water tap in our kitchen. Before, we carried water from the big ditch, and settled it in a large barrel using ashes to leach out the silt. Our drinking water was filtered through a heavy canvas cone-shaped bag that hung in the shade of the apple tree. Weekly laundry days began early in the morning and lasted until sundown, with Mother and the older girls taking turns scrubbing on a 'Brass King' (metal scrubbing board) with homemade soap. Our first washer was hand powered. Later as models improved we got a gas powered one and finally an electric Maytag. There were no 'wash-n-wear' fabrics, and ironing with sad irons, heated on the kitchen range, was a hard and arduous task. I learned to iron napkins and handkerchiefs this way too.
When indoor plumbing was installed, the grass soon covered the barren path through the orchard to the outhouse -- a three holer, with places for papa bear, mama bear, and baby bear. I had my turn cleaning every Saturday, scrubbing the seat and the floor, and pouring ashes into the deposit receptacle.
What We Wore
Appropriate winter wearing apparel for boys or girls were long-legged, fleece lined union suits with trap doors. I wore a dark outing flannel petticoat and a panty-waist with side garters to hold up my long, black, heavy ribbed stockings. I wore either laced or buttoned shoes, ankle high. Trying to get the underwear neatly tucked in my stockings along with having my hair braided and looking for the button-hook was a threat to my getting to school on time. My brothers wore blue denim overalls to school, and tweed knickerbockers and long black stockings and shoes for best. Long trousers for pre-teenagers did not become popular until about 1920.
There was no mortuary in our town; the deceased were prepared for burial in the home. The Relief Society did the washing of the body and sewed burial clothing. Usually, family members took care of the hair and small details. Cloths wrung out of a strong solution of formaldehyde and vinegar plus ice, when it could be obtained, were used to keep the corpse from darkening. I teased to go with my sisters, Mary Ann and Ada, when I was six years old, to view Grandma Brown (no relation). The stench of vinegar and formaldehyde greeted us as we entered. Grandma reposed on a long slab, covered with a sheet, in the center of the room. Two points at one end designated her feet, while one sharp point near the other end, marked her nose. I knew Grandma Brown had a long nose, but it seemed to have elongated under the sheet. It was ghastly; terrifying. I hurried out never to try viewing again until I was older.
The Peeping Tom
John, Grandma Brown's son, took care of his aged mother and had earned the title of "Peeping Tom". When we children were rough-housing at bedtime, throwing pillows and dancing 'the dance of the seven veils' in our nightgowns, one had only to exclaim, "John Browns peeping through the window!" and a scramble for bed and an abrupt silence followed. As many as four of us would pile in the same bed, cover our heads, many times sleeping through the night that way, not daring to seek our own beds.
I was eight years old when Father baptized me in a cold mountain stream which ran in front of our place, July 2, 1911, and that same afternoon, Simon A. Matheson confirmed me a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Attending Sunday School, Sacrament Meeting, Primary, and later Mutual Improvement Association were established habits for me and my brothers and sisters. I recalled saving tithing pennies in a match box, and fasting once a month to contribute to the welfare of the poor. We were taught to pray as soon as we could talk, and to give the family prayer as soon as we were baptized.
I was not always reverent in church; little things tickled my funny bone and I'd start a whole row of kids twittering, making it necessary for Mother to sit between me and my fellow disturbers.
We drank from a silver communal sacrament cup at the handle to avoid drinking where an old, black-bearded man drank, then found that he was doing the same. Seminary was not in existence but we stayed after school once a week for Religion Class.
I still remember the large picture, in our Sunday School room, depicting a winged angel, perhaps Moroni. The wings were feathered and fastened to the shoulder blades; I had a hard time to reconcile feathers on a human man.
The Bad Word
Laura was sent to the store to get thread, size 50, color white. She was about 6 years old. The manager, Arthur Joseph, liked to tease kids, especially bashful ones. He greeted her, "Good morning, little girl. Does your father still say 'Son-of-a-bitch'"? She must have felt like she'd been punched in the solar-plexus. She knew not what to say, but recovered enough to say she'd come for white thread, size 50, plunked down her dime, and hurried home. When Daddy came she said, "Everybody knows you say 'Son-of-a-bitch'. You'd better stop." Innocently, Dad asked, "Do I say that bad word"? Laura answered, "Yes, when you have to work with the pigs."
From a note later in life: The only time I saw Dad really angry was when he was loading the pigs in the wagon to take them to the ranch. He had the help of some of the older grandchildren. They'd drive the pigs up the plank and finally all were accounted for excepting one old boar, who had evaded the kids and their big sticks. All of us held our breaths as Dad got the boar started up the plank, following close behind and prodding him along. Just as the pig was ready to step into the wagon box, Rosemary, Belle's six year old, who had climbed upon the front wheel, threw her arms up and gave a wild TARZAN YELL. The boar whirled, and started down the plank with Dad riding backwards on top of the pig. It was a funny sight and we all laughed, but Dad . . . well, he was "proper blazing". (Note: See this story from one of the grandchildren's perspective here.)
The neighbors newly whitewashed house had one whole side without a door or a window. The broad expanse tempted Mary Ann and she dared me to write our names clear across the smooth white surface. She had a large green crayon and proceeded, telling me to write under her with a piece of crayon she had broken off. Half way through I made an error, and without anything to erase with I snatched a handful of grass and rubbed vigorously, leaving a big ugly green stain. Mary Ann was cross at me for spoiling her neat lettering. She then discovered she had not centered her name -- needing another letter or two to even it up. She quickly added an 'A', making her name Mary Anna.
There was no doubt who had spoiled the new, white surface. We had left our signatures.
Ada made up a song - 'Salt Lake Dude' -- and played her own accompanyment on the piano since age 10. Here it is:
I like coffee, I like tea
I like the boys and the boys like me
Wish my mother would hold her toungue
She had a beau when she was young.
Oh . . Oh . . . I got a beau, Oh. . . Oh.. . . I got a beau.
Peaches in the summertime
Apples in the fall
If I can't have a Salt Lake Dude
I'll have no dude at all!
Oh . . Oh . . . I got a beau, Oh. . . Oh.. . . I got a beau.
(Grandma writes that "Ada married her 'Salt Lake Dude" of whom she sang and played in 1925." His name: James Russell Lindsey. "He had charm, a fine voice, played the piano, was clean and nattily dressed, had a good job, and a car of his own with which he was most generous.")
Summers in the Mountains
Every summer we moved to the mountains to escape the heat of the valley, sometimes living at the ranch in Dry Lakes, or at Bear Flat, or the Mammoth, wherever Uncle Walter had his lumber mill sitting. Grandfather Mitchell had built a log house and as the family grew he built another cabin of slabs a rod or so to the east which was used for the kitchen. Besides a kitchen stove it had a table with benches in place, a cupboard for provisions, dishes, pots and pans, and a place for dairy equipment. The log house was the bedroom with three large beds and a stove. There was a balcony with a full sized bed, which could only be reached from an outside ladder.
The bed ticks were filled with straw, or yellow-dock which grew profusely in the area. Mother brought her featherbed to put on top her straw mattress. Between the two houses a small clear stream gurgled along with a trough to catch the water for convenience and a board for a bridge to stand on as we used the bar of soap and towel kept there for washing. Ada. complained to mother when Aunt Lizzie and her family were visiting that "Rowena lost our white soap (said with a lisp) down Aunt Lizzie's hole." How it got to be Aunt Lizzie's hole I never knew.
A cold, clear spring at the edge of the grove of aspens and cottonwood was our dependable source of water. A swing made of heavy hemp rope on a big cottonwood tree with one of the big kids pushing could make even the most daring holler "green cheese!". Douglas, then a. little tot sang ‘I'm Up in the air about Mary’ as he surveyed the country side from his vantage point 25 feet up.
Nights and mornings were chilly at the ranch. Daddy always started fires in both stoves before the family got up. One morning as he made the fire in the kitchen stove a human murmur startled him. In the half-light he saw a child curled up in the rocker. It was Laura! No cover of any kind shielded her from the cold; her only comfort was a scanty cushion on which she lay. " Daddy, I’ss cold" she shivered. She'd been there since the family had left after supper. Hugging her close to him Dad carried her to deposit her in bed with mother. Mother shed tears as she gave warmth and comfort to her darling. Across-the pasture to the east the terrain suddenly dropped off into the bottom of a narrow canyon. The hill was steep, we called it the ‘Jump Off’. It was too steep for any kind of rig to climb.
Across the narrow bottom of the canyon gigantic white sandstone cliffs, devoid of any vegetation, wall-off the canyon. On the foremost southern cliff, with the help of the wind and rain, mother nature had sculpted a likeness of a lion that we said was on guard over this choice spot. Red streaks, no doubt made from water running over the red dirt at the top, left trails of red down the smooth facade of the two largest cliffs. We kids were gullible to believe that Belle slid from top to bottom in her red dress making permanent trails. That's the story the older kids told us.
As we traveled to Bear Flat and the Mammoth-we usually stopped here to eat lunch beside the cool stream lined with moss, flowers, and watercress in the shade of birches. In July, strawberries and raspberries ripened at the base of the cliffs. Bear had been seen there when the berries ripened. In late August and September service berries, chokecherries and elderberries were ours for the picking.
Later we lived at Bear Flat, where Brian Head Ski Resort is now, so the men
could at Uncle Walter's mill. I was six years old that first summer and I had a
severe tooth ache, whining and crying day and night. Finally, Dad put me behind
him on Old Dee and we went to town in search of help. Parowan didn't support a
full time dentist, but the blacksmith, Eli Whitney, had forceps and was willing
to do the job. No deadener of any kind was used. I swear the roots of that
molar-reached half way to China. Dad held my hands, stroked my hair, and
afterwards he bought me candy. We rode back to Bear Flat the same day.
We usually moved back to town just in time for school's starting. Quite often we moved on September 7th, Ada's birthday. So she got to ride on the wagon while the rest of us who were old enough, had to drive the pigs down. On one such occasion, we started out from Bear Flat before the wagon with our belongings did. It was supposed to catch up with us before lunch, so we could picnic with the family Something went wrong and we walked all 12 miles to town without a bite to eat. In those days when we got thirsty we just laid down to the ditch and drank, trying to drink above the pigs, so I can't say we went without water. Funny thing, Kathleen is the only member of the family I can remember of having typhoid. And that was after she had stayed at the sheep camp in the autumn to help Harold with the sheep.
Two paydays a year kept our family going. Farm harvest in the Autumn, hay, grain, wheat, and beside garden products, fat lambs, born in the year, plus the ewes that were too old to lamb again and withers, etc. The Spring payday was less, comprising the sheep's wool, fat yearling steers, and a few heifers fattened during the Winter. The years Dad imported pure bred, pedigreed shorthorn bulls, from Kansas, he received good money; these were sold mostly in the Spring.
It was often necessary to borrow from the bank to see us through to harvest time again. Both the banks in Cedar City and the local Bank of Iron County were willing lenders with only Dad's signature on the transaction. Anyone could borrow from the local bank with Dad's signature; he helped many in need. Only once was he left 'holding a sack'. A salaried man, in our community, needed a small loan -- I recall it was less than $100 -- and asked Dad to sign with him, which Dad did. The fellow never paid; avoiding meeting Dad thereafter.
No Friend At All
The one and only time Dad was refused a bank loan was in the early twenties. A man he knew came wanting to sell his entire herd of about 5,000 sheep. Dad had wanted to increase his flock, he had plenty of mountain range, meadow land in the valley, and rights to run his sheep on government range in the winter. The man came late in the afternoon and after talking over the proposition, Dad agreed to buy the entire flock if the bank would loan him the money. The seller left thinking he'd made a shrewd bargain.
Dad was at the bank as soon as it opened next morning. The loan officer denied his request. It seemed the bottom had dropped out of the sheep business the day before. Since there was no TV or even radio, and our Deseret News came semi-weekly and a day late, Dad had not known of the fall in the sheep market. The anger of the seller was at a high pitch when he came for his answer. He called Dad some unrepeatable, uncomplimentary names. It seems he had know of the market slump, tried to sell to others, and Dad was his last hope (victim?). It hurt us children to hear the tirade of angry terms at our Daddy -- honest and dependable Daddy!
To Stand By A Friend
Dad's honor was questioned when he was First Councilor in the bishopric of the Parowan Ward. The bishop was manager of the largest mercantile establishment there. Our bishop was mild-mannered and loved by all. In his third year it was discovered that there was an unaccountable shortage of a few thousand dollars missing from the mercantile's account. Embezzlement, an ugly term, was of course blamed on the store's management -- our bishop. Dad couldn't believe the accusation -- he'd been so close to him and found him strictly honest in his church collections and bookkeeping. Father was so staunch in his defense that bishop X could do no wrong, that suspicion was cast on him also. Investigation cleared Father and found Bishop X had siphoned off money from the store's account to help build his new home. Father was then made the bishop.
Father At The Head
Father was the head of the house, Mother his helpmeet. Mother was never the 'go-between' us children and our father. Decisions were made and solutions worked out by them. We knew better than to expect Mother to give in to some request not yet talked over with Dad. "I'll talk it over with Daddy," was the inevitable response. If there were to be a carnival, race meet, or county fair dance, our friend's mothers would call to see if the Mitchell girls were going. If Dad said "No", we could rest assured that the Marsdens, Lymans, and others likewise refused to let their girls go.
If we failed to get up for breakfast, after a night out, Daddy would climb the stairs to wake us, saying:
"If you hoot with the owls all night, you can't expect to soar with the eagles in the morning."
He often gave advice and counsel to live according to our standards. I recall his making a suggestion to Ada that she not date a fellow newly arrived in town. Ada didn't seem to resent it since it was not a command.
Our parents not only taught us the Gospel but were exemplary in living worthy of emulation. They taught us the cardinal virtues of honesty, integrity, work, responsibility, dependability, and faithfulness. On Winter evenings they managed to find time to read to us if we'd get our school work done early. Sometimes they'd read from the scriptures, a good biography, or a novel with a good moral theme. My favorite was Evangeline . Daddy's voice had a sad quality when he read and I shed tears over this very real love story.
(Probably, The Vicissitudes of Evangeline (1905) by Elinor Glyn. If so, you can get a copy at www.bookfinder.com for less than $1, and read what Grandma loved to hear. There is an outside chance this is Longfellow's poem, Evangeline, but I doubt it).
A First Job
When Ada was 15 and I was 13, we were hired to help clean the schoolhouse -- the three storied, yellow brick one that sat diagonally across the corner at 2nd North and Main. An older woman took it upon herself to be foreman, assigning us the hard jobs like blacking and polishing the chrome on the huge heating stoves, washing the windows, and oiling the blackboards. We knew how to work and, since we could use what we made to buy school clothes, we were enthusiastic workers.
About the 2nd day, our 'foreman' told us we were working too fast, reminding us that we were being paid by the hour, and not by the job; suggesting that we slow down so the work would last longer. This was contrary to our teaching. Come payday, we were paid the same hourly wage as was our 'would be foreman'.
A First Date
I was about 13 when I had my first date. Our doctor's son, Ronald McGregor, sidled up to me after Sunday School and whispered that he'd be around to take me for a buggy ride at three o'clock. He drove his dad's one seater buggy with Old Casper in the shafts. We picked up his friend Alma Webb and my cousin Rowena Benson and drove along the east road toward Paragonah. Turning round to return home we got stuck in the mud and try as hard as the boys could, they couldn't get the rig out of that red mud. Help finally came, but the buggy and the boy's Sunday clothes were plastered with Red Creek mud. Cleaning the buggy and themselves caused the boys to be late for Sacrament Meeting. They were severely chastised; Rowena and I barely made it to the meeting on time.
Birth of a Nation
"The Birth of a Nation" was the first picture shown at our newly opened Rex Theater about 1909. I took eggs to the store to get the 10 cents for my ticket. There was no sound -- written words shown on the screen told what was going on. A local pianist played appropriate tunes, varying them to fit the situation. Cousin Eva Mitchell was the best; she could play anything from ragtime to Bach. Twenty years later I heard my first sound picture in Salt Lake City; Al Jolson starring in "Sonny Boy".
Trey of Hearts
About this time Ada and I saved our nickels and dimes to buy tickets to the sensational movie "Tray of Hearts", a serial shown on Friday night at the local Rex Theater; cost 10 cents for school children. Running concurrently, chapters were printed in the Parowan Times, which we cut out and saved. In order for each of us to have a copy I wrote the entire novel verbatim, taking the book out of the library when a weekly installment was missed. Whatever became of this exciting love story I do not know. It represented long hours in a cold upstairs bedroom, after school, and little snatches of time whenever I could leave my tasks to Ada -- who was more than willing to do my work if I'd keep on writing. I hope I'll not be held accountable for this waste of time.
(Well I know, Grandma. The
Trey of Hearts, a Motion-Picture Melodrama, the printed serial (by
Louis Joseph Vance, 1914), is available for, again, a small price at www.bookfinder.com)
I was a sophomore when Warner offered me a dollar if I'd accept a boy's invitation to the Junior Prom. I refused his dollar but gave in when he doubled the bribe. It was not that the boy was obnoxious in any way, or that he was not popular; most any girl in High School would have jumped at the chance to go out with him. I guess I just hadn't reached the age to desire boys attention.
Ada was always more popular with the boys than I, although I never lacked an escort to school or town functions. She seemed to know just what to say to put them at ease. I was more reticent; to quote from the school paper "Pep":
"Can you imagine Jo Mitchell letting the boys get familiar"
I was on the Student Council, editor of the school newspaper 'Pep' (Personality, Efficiency, and Perseverance), on the year-book staff, sang in the chorus, and had the respect of the teachers, and many, many friends.
About my second year in High School, a group of us, including Ada and good friends, Glenna, Alberta, Leda, and enough boys to go around, decided to drive to Enoch for a dance. Paul Adams, Marion Adams, Cooper Smith, Rex Ward, and Lloyd White were our escorts. As we entered the dance hall a quadrille was in progress. We quickly formed a Virginia Reel and finished the dance. A fast one step was next played and before we got half-way through, three couples of our group had been called off of improper dancing. Marion Adams talked back to the floor manager, saying we were only doing proper dancing, and then the floor manager told him to leave the hall and never come back. "Hoodlums are not welcome!". When we told our parents they merely said that there were other places to dance and not to go back to Enoch again.
The Butter Factory
The summer of 1915 Harold took work at the lumber mill owned by Uncle Walter, Father's half-brother. The mill was then located on the Mammoth, close to Cedar Breaks. To make the summer more profitable Ada and I were sent along to cook for him and to make cheese in the community vat every third day, alternating with the Adams'. We saved the night's and morning’s milk, skinning the cream from the night’s milk to make butter. We pressed the cheese, and sewed on a cheese-cloth bandage to make ready for storage. Dad made wide plank shelves which hung from the attic ceiling with wire - a precaution against mouse damage. As many as a thousand pounds of cheese were stored there until it could be sold or eaten by the family.
That summer was not all work. Lloyd White, Paul Adams, Keith Dodge, the
ranger, and other single boys who worked at the mill, kept us from boredom. We
rode horses sometimes late in the evening to watch the moon come up, we
picnicked, hiked to Cedar Breaks or Brian Head, and in the evening, we made
candy, popped corn, and played games like ‘Old Maid’ and ‘Spoon Donkey’.
An important event in 1916 was Harold's call to serve on a mission to the southern states, with headquarters at Chattanooga, Tennessee. Our parent’s faith was strong and they knew that they would be blessed with the finances to keep him in the mission field. The night before his departure all the family gathered, with the exception of Florence and Jake who were in St. Louis to medical school, for one last farewell. With Belle at the piano we sang our favorite songs, both from the hymn book and popular music of the day. I will always associate "Farewell To Thee" with that night of goodbyes.
Two years later in 1918, Harold came home and greeted the five girls and looking at me asked,” Who is this?" I felt crushed.
Then Harold said, "It has to be Jo. I left her a little girl, now she is a woman.”.
To The Big City
Ada's and my first trip to Salt Lake City was with Dad. We went on the Will Green Stage Line. Ada was between 15 and 16 years old, I was two years younger. Dad showed us the sights of the city. We stayed in the Kenyon Hotel between 2nd and 3rd South on Main. We window shopped while Dad did his business, then he took us shopping at good shops, buying each of us a dress and a hat. The dresses were elegant, far more sophisticated than our ages warranted, costing $25 and $29. Mine was two pieced, soft burgundy satin. embroidered in the same color. As I look back, I wonder why I didn't give it to Mother; she would have looked better in it than I. I chose a picturesque hat like I'd seen in the movies. It was black velvet, the broad brim lined with aqua velvet with matching colored feathers around the crown. I imagined I looked like Loretta Young in it. The cost of the hat was an astounding $9, and it made me feel regal as a queen.
Temple Square was one of the favorite places with it's formal gardens, well kept lawns and shrubs, with the unique round-topped tabernacle and the awesome white temple in the background. I hoped to be married there when the time came.
The American Theater with its long flight of glass steps, under which water came gushing over a surface resembling a mountain side, was near our hotel. Everything was a land of enchantment to me. I can remember just how small and dingy Parowan looked when we returned home.
The Black Influenza
In the autumn of 1918 a strange new plague called Black Influenza swept the eastern part of the United States. Doctors were baffled on how it spread and how to treat it. Hundreds of people were dying daily, even those hospitalized who were given good care from the beginning. It seemed to go hardest with the stalwart and robust. Jake then Interning at L.D.S. Hospital in Salt Lake City warned us that if we should get a little cold, to go to bed, get plenty of rest to be on the safe side.
Florence and year old baby, Virginia were living with us and Florence was the first to show symptoms of the disease. Within three days, with the exception of Dad and Kathleen we were all in bed with varying degrees of 'flu.' Little Virginia was sick and miserable. Dad carried her on his hip as he brought soup to those who could eat and carry out the slop-jar and stoke the wood burning stoves.
Warner then had a home of his own, a wife, and baby 10 months old, so naturally he didn't want to risk taking the disease to them. He bought food, wood, and did the necessary errands, while the neighbors took care of the animals and sometimes chopped wood. Kathleen then worked at the telephone office and stayed with the Matheson family.
Florence seemed a little better her third day and tried to relieve Daddy by caring for her baby. That night she had a relapse. Dad called Jake and Dr. Macfarlane of Cedar City. Jake caught the next train from Salt Lake City, but by the time he arrived Flo had gone into a coma without recognizing him. She died the next day October 24, 1918. No public gatherings were allowed, but at the gravesite friends and family from both Parowan and Cedar City gathered to pay their last respects to a beautiful soul taken in her prime. A group of choir members sang appropriate songs and the bishop paid a glowing tribute.
Virginia stayed with us until her Daddy Jake finished his interning at the hospital. The very sunshine was gone when Jake took her from us. Mother consoled us saying, "It is better that he wants her; it would be sad if he didn't. We'll see her often; she'll be only twenty miles away.".
As each of us children became well enough we were sent into homes where the entire family was scourged with the disease. I was sent to the Vernon Heaps household. Ordinarily only Brother and Sister Heaps and a small boy lived there. Mrs. Heaps sister and two children were visiting from Tropic when the "flu" struck them. This made six people I must wait on. Mr. Heaps had a light case and was not bedfast, but the baby, a twenty pounder, nine months old, was miserable and wailed unless I kept him in my arms. I tried to do the nursing, take temperatures, prepare trays, carry out slop pails, and endure the dictates of Mrs. Heaps. I think she enjoyed playing the role of the 'wounded general' lying in bed giving commands. When she ordered me to go the hen house and kill a certain chicken I revolted saying I'd never killed or even dressed a chicken in my life. "Now get the black monarch with the dull red comb; hens with bright red combs are laying hens. Be certain to get the right one. Wring its neck, then pour boiling water over it and pluck the feathers off; then wash and dress, and cook it for supper." I firmly refused and Mr. Heaps, not wanting an argument, put on his warm coat and proceeded to carry out the general's orders.
After this experience I helped Aunt Lizzie Benson and Aunt Ada Burton. Both were appreciative of my help. Aunt Lizzie and Uncle Alvin had a double tragedy. Their sixteen-year-old daughter, Rowena, and son-in-law Oscar Lyman, father of five children, died of influenza just two weeks apart. Aunt Ada lost her husband, Ed Burton.
Surrounding communities were likewise stricken. Maryann and Ada were taken to Panguitch where the malady had reached such proportions that it was impossible to get anyone to care for the dying. Ada was taken to a home where there was only a small light burning. An older couple was desperately ill; she did what she could for their comfort. During the night the man died. Jake also took a car load of volunteers to help relieve the suffering. The death toll was enormous.
Note: See the William Cooke Mitchell account here, and also Grandma's loving tribute to Florence here.
Having Tonsils Out
When Jake finished his medical training, he set up a practice in Cedar City and a partnership with Dr. J. M. Macfarlane. His field- Eye, Ear, Nose and Throat. He thought it wise for Ada, Laura and I to have our tonsils out. He brought a registered nurse, Mamie Giles and all the paraphernalia to do the surgery. Our dining room table was extended, covered with a blanket, and then a clean sheet. I spoke to be first, knowing I'd lack the courage after witnessing the others. I fought the anesthetic – ether - finally requiring morphine to put me to sleep. Weeks after, whenever I'd turn over in bed, the fumes of that double anesthetic came up from my stomach.
Ada and Laura were not so hard to put to sleep and so fared better Afterwards the three of us lay on one bed, sort of concentrating our misery.
The summer of 1922 Harold was home from U.A.C to work with Dad. His fraternity brother, Wallace Parkinson, was doing construction on the new three lane highway from Muley Point to Paragonah. Wally boarded in Parowan at Aunt Mables. For a diversion, Harold and Wally asked Glenna and me to ride with them to Cedar Breaks and other scenic spots nearby. Harold had the horses and equipment; we girls were to take a lunch. Wally claimed he had experience riding horses. Harold put him on his favorite sorrel pony named Kid. Glenna and I had more docile ponies and Harold rode Tobacco, a young chestnut he'd been breaking who was still a little skittish.
We arrived on top, a large pasture-like area spread out before us. Harold suggested we give the horses a rest and then gallop over to the Breaks. We pulled the horses closer together so we could talk; Harold pointing to the various places he wanted to take us later. After a few minutes, Harold said "Lets go". Kid took off like a streak of lightening. Tobacco reared up a couple of times before he settled down and Glenna and I started out at a reasonable gallop. Kid took a cut-off through timber with Wally's legs brushing the undergrowth and his head and shoulders breaking off limbs along the trail. At the rim of the Breaks, Kid stopped abruptly, dropping his burden unceremoniously. By the time Harold caught up Wally was sitting on the ground, pale with fright.
"Why didn't you stop him, all you had to do was pull the reins -- he'd stopped", Harold said.
"I tightened the reins, hollering Halt!, Halt!, but he wouldn't", Wally replied.
It seems the younger boys had been training Kid for the summer races in July. He was swift as a runner and alert to directions, but didn't know "Halt".
Douglas, our third brother died of pneumonia February 7, 1923. He would have graduated from High School in May. He had plans to go on a mission just as soon as he was old enough. Douglas was a sturdy youth with brown eyes and brown hair and was a big help to Dad on the farm and with the cattle. He played basketball on the high school team. At a game in Beaver coach Van Buren said that he would not play him unless absolutely necessary for he had a cold. He did play for a short period after which he laid on the floor to rest, evidently even he then had a temperature. Mother had the doctor come early the next morning and he diagnosed his sickness as pneumonia.
After only one week Douglas was claimed by death.
In September 1924 I entered Gila College, a Church-owned Junior College in Thatcher, Arizona. I had missed school in 1922 and 1923, having worked in the telephone office awaiting my turn to continue my education. Harold was then teaching at Safford High. I had a stubborn chest infection left after a bout with pneumonia and my parents thought the warm Arizona winter would clear me up. I went to Arizona with Harold and Bertrude in August.
When Mother Died
Mother died on October 24, 1924 at age 53 of a stroke. I didn't return to Gila but stayed to take care of Father. He promised that I could go to the University of Utah the following year
Mother's death was a shock to the entire family. She had just written me saying that she felt better than she had for years. She felt fine the evening before, had even carried little Gordon, Mary Ann's year old baby, out to meet Dad who had been in the canyon for wood. Death came at 4:00 A.M. She seemed to know the end was near and told Father of her love for him and that she'd be waiting for him. She waited 29 years. Father died in March 1953; he was four months under 84 years. They are buried side-by-side in the Parowan cemetery.
To My Mother
I do not build a monument
of carved white marble for your sake
That only those who pass may read
And only those who memorial make.
My life must be a monument
I concreate in your behalf;
My charity must carve your name,
My gentleness your epitaph.
Above the record I engrave
No drooping figure
There must be straight shouldered courage.
Starry eyes must mark the scroll of destiny
And may some fragment of your strength
By God's great mystery, fall on me;
And through this monument of mine
May shine your immortality
Dad kept his promise. I entered the University of Utah in 1925. I lived with Ada and Russell who had just been married three weeks. Through them I became better acquainted with Parley Rhead Neeley, whom I had met the previous Spring when I visited Ada at Coalville where she taught school and lived with the Neeleys. Parley was then a senior in Civil Engineering at the "U".
In high school, I felt important; at the 'U' I was a nonentity. I recall I studied conscientiously but to my surprise and chagrin when I received my first semester marks I had mostly 'B's and 'C's. Only in millinery class did I rate an 'A'. I felt disgraced until I saw my friend's grades. They didn't seem to worry, saying that college grades were always lower than high school grades.
Parley and I dated 'off' and 'on' the Fall and Winter Quarters and kept steady company throughout the Spring Quarter. His letters sustained me throughout the long, hot, work-filled summer as I canned fruit, cleaned house, and made preparations to go back to the university in September. I hated to leave Father, but he said it would worry him more if I stayed at home. He bought a Model A Ford Sedan, his first, and that should have prepared me for the announcement he made later.
After my first year at the 'U', I changed my course from 'Fabric and Costume Design' to 'Elementary Education'. There was no job market for designing in Utah and the jobs in school teaching were prevalant almost everywhere. Parley saved me from further training, thus limiting my formal college education to two years.
Christmas 1926 Laura and I were both home in Parowan, a few days before Christmas we received almost identical packages, hers from Cedar City, and mine from Salt Lake City. Laura suggested we open them, even though they were labeled "Do not open until Christmas". I told her that I could endure the pangs of suspense, but she kept teasing. Then without my consent she took both packages and went into the parlor. As she closed the door she promised not to tell me what my package contained. We heard a rattling of paper and and excited "Ohh's and Aaws", then she came out, saying as she handed me my package, "I'm not going to tell you what it is, but it must be a good one -- it's still ticking". It was a Bulova inscribed 'Juddy' -- Parl's term of endearment for me then.
As we relaxed by the fire, a coal heated Motorola, Dad said that he had proposed to a fine maiden lady and that they had set the date for January 18th, 1927.
I had mixed feelings -- jealousy at first that Dad could think of an 'old maid' taking the place of Mother. After a day or two I had a more mature outlook. Surely with all of us children marrying, he needed a companion who was near his own age and if she was his choice, we should have nothing to say about it. I knew Parley was serious and my love for him had steadily deepened through the months of our courtship. I didn't expect to live home and came home only for short visits thereafter.
June 1926 Parley graduated from the University of Utah in Civil Engineering. I attended his graduation with his parents. After graduation, Parley worked for the Interior Department on the reclamation project building the Echo Dam. He came to Salt Lake to see me twice a week, his visits were fun-packed and all too short. I kept on at the University.
The following summer Mother Neeley died in Salt Lake following an operation. I was in Parowan when Parl called to tell me, requesting me to go up for the funeral. Not wishing to intrude on the family's privacy, I did not go. Parley seemed hurt. Before Parley finished school he'd taken me to visit his parents over a weekend. I loved his mother from the first. She was kind, generous, easy to converse with; Father Neeley was the silent type. Awesome at first, I felt his watching my every movement. Lawyer-like he was looking over the situation before making an appraisal. By the time I was ready to leave, he was calling me 'Joseph' and there was warmth and approval in his voice. I was 'Joseph' to him the remainder of his life.
Parley came to see me in Parowan soon after his mother's funeral. The second day he went with Dad to the farm, when he returned he hugged and kissed me, before those present, saying that Dad had given him permission to marry me. I told a different story to an inquisitive friend who wanted to know the particulars. I told her Dad had asked Parley., "What are you intentions towards our Nell (Jo)?". Parley then got down on his knees and begged for my hand in marriage; promising to be ever faithful, treat me kindly, and to drag me with him wherever his engineer's career took him.
Before leaving the "U", Parley had "put me on hold" by pinning me with his jeweled "U" pin. I wore it until February 6th, 1928, when he replaced it with a lovely diamond ring.
A Last Story . . . The Honeymoon
The trip to Southern Utah was our only honeymoon. Our Dodge, with its hard rubber tires, and the rough un-surfaced roads, was anything but easy riding. However, we were happy to have it paid for and happier to be together.
By the time we reached Cove Fort we discovered the fallacy or myth that 'we could live on love'. Parley found what he thought would be good eating in a limited gas stop store. He brought back a package of Zwieback Baby Teething Biscuits, and from that day on, it has been 'honeymoon biscuit' making its appearance each December 21st in deceptive wrappings and sizes.
Stories from later in life . . .
Parley was then launched on his life's career but needed a few months to build his bank account. His salary was $1800 a year. I'd been working in ZCMI as a sales lady, first as an extra, after school and on Saturdays, and then fulltime during summer vacation. My top salary was $65 a month. I used my money to good advantage in assembling a trousseau.
I bought a Singer Portable sewing machine by using my entire inheritance from Grandfather Orton's estate, of $40, for a down payment. I made my lingerie, not sparing the expense of silk-crepe, fine lace, and ribbon. Parl gave me a chest of eight Community Silverware in the Grosvenor design and while I have a chest of beautiful sterling silverware, today the Community Plate is still my favorite. Father had a competent woman make me two beautiful quilts which I have used through the years. I had accumulated household necessities and linen besides a beautiful cedar chest. The girls made me a bedspread and blanket.
Invitations were sent to my closest university friends and to my co-workers at ZCMI, besides a few Parowan girls who were living in S.L.C. We did not have an announcement nor a reception. We made our decision to marry the 21st of December, 1928 (Parl has taken a lot of ribbing from his friends over this date). We had barely time to make arrangements for a temple marriage before it closed for the holidays.
Elder George F. Richards, of the Council of the Twelve Apostles, and also President of the Temple, performed the ceremony. We entered the temple at 7:00 A.M. and didn't get through until 4:00 P.M. We were the 50th couple to be married that day; three more followed us. At that time, the temple president performed all the marriages himself.
Our temple marriage marked the 2nd step toward our goal of exaltation in the Celestial Kingdom; baptism being the 1st step. We prayed together that night, thanking our Heavenly Father for his many blessings. We asked him to please guide us in reaching our goal. Since that first night we have never missed saying our prayers together, except when we were temporarily separated.
Our first apartment was in Neeley's upstairs. Two large bedrooms with a bath and a large walk-in closet gave us room to be comfortable. We bought what furniture we needed: a coal burning kitchen range, an oak breakfast table and four chairs, a kitchen cabinet for the kitchen, two comfortable chairs, and a day-bed for the living room. With the loan of a small table for my sewing machine, and a bookcase Parl had made in high school, we were well fixed up.
A small rocker, bought for $16 has served us in the rearing of our four children, twenty-three grandchildren, and to date, 1986, twenty-three great grandchildren. Becky, our granddaughter-in-law has spoken for this rocker when we are ready to give it away.
We hated to leave our cozy apartment when Parl was transferred to build the diversion canal south of Kamas in the Autumn of '29. We were expecting our first baby in February. Parley Mitchell, an eight pounder, was born in the Salt Lake LDS Hospital, February 9th, 1930. Dr. Warren Shepherd delivered him for the modest price of $35; the hospital bill was just under $100 for my stay of two weeks. My friend Mary bragged that she paid only $25 for her baby born three years later. I told her we wanted the best and were willing to pay for it!
Daniel, then Yuma
We stayed in Kamas until Christmas. Parley was needed in the Bureau of Reclamation Office in Coalville for about two weeks, or so they said. We stayed there until July 1931 when Parl was transferred to Daniel, Wyoming, to start preliminary surveys for the Colorado River Storage Project. Our stay in Daniel lasted until October when we were transferred to Yuma, Arizona, to work during the winter. We finally found suitable living quarters at Welton, a small railroad stop forty miles southeast of Yuma. Since we had lived in a log cabin, without modern conveniences, in Daniel, having to carry water from the center of town and with our toilet out behind the garage, it was a real break to be send to sunny Arizona for the winter. Early in our marriage I learned that it wasn't so much where you lived, but who you lived with that mattered.
Pinedale, Tulsa, Green River, and Parker
Springtime, 1931, brought us back to continue work in Pinedale, Wyoming. Late that summer we moved from Pinedale to Tulsa, then on to Green River where we stayed until October, and then moving from there to Parker, Arizona, where Parl worked on the Los Angeles Aqueduct.
An old post office building, without a single partition, and with large windows facing the street was the only place for rent. We shared this old building with the Callans; he was also an employee of the Bureau of Reclamation. They had no children and Pat was nearly three. We partitioned the rooms into two apartments with government flagging; that is cheap, white muslin the surveyors used to mark points. For heat we burned iron wood in a little pot-bellied stove and cooked on a two plate gas camp stove. We had no bathroom -- the toilet was out behind the building. From orange crates we made cupboards, stools, dressing tables, and a card table used for dining.
Pat was a handsome, sturdy boy with brown eyes and brown hair and an avid interest in all about him. Vivid in my memory was our hike to the big Parker Railroad Crossing over the Colorado River and a subsequent ride on a jerry car (railroad maintenance car) which pleased Pat as he had made the arrangements with the crew (who were mostly Mexican).
The winter of 1932-33 we spent at Blythe, California, arriving there the very day that President Roosevelt declared a moratorium closing all banks of the country. We had a combined total of $3.67 in our pockets, we knew not a soul in the town, and our bank account was in Coalville, Utah. A local merchant believed our story and charged groceries to us; the doctor from whom we rented also gave us the rent and the the initial installment on water and lights until Parl's paycheck came.
Our house was spacious and quite cool thanks to the huge pepper and date trees that surrounded it. We spent much time in the open air and delighted in the blooming desert in the late winter and early spring.
In May we went back to Wyoming, living in Lyman in a tiny doll-house rented from an old couple by the name of Boss. The plumbing was all outside, including the cold water tap, and the floor of both kitchen and miniature bedroom were all covered with tar paper.
Parl lucked out. He was next sent to Ogden where the Pineview Dam was under construction. We rented an apartment on Madison Avenue and it was far the nicest place we had ever lived. With all the climbing of stairs and the getting in and out of the car, I started labor a month early.
Our baby girl was born December 11, 1933 in the Dee Memorial Hospital, Ogden, UT. Pat was scrubbed for our homecoming and with his first glance at our darling baby girl said:
"Is that all the big she is?"
He'd expected someone to play with and ran out to join his friends.
Barbara Carol as a little doll; she weighed 5 lbs and 7 ounces at birth, yet she looked finished in every way. Soon after her birth I noticed a small, red pin-prick mark on her lip. I called the doctor's attention to it. He mumbled something about mothers who were always picking their children to pieces, then added, "We'll watch it." Weeks later we noticed a swelling on her right shoulder blade and both it, and the mark on the lip, grew slowly in size. When she was eight months old, Dr. Mills, Utah's foremost authority on the treatment of cancer with radium, put a pack of radium on her shoulder blade, stuck a radium needle in her lip, and warned us not to let the needle stay in longer than one hour, or, it might destroy her tooth buds. She slept in my arms forty-five minutes and then, waking up with a start, pulled the needle out.
I'll always think that the Lord intervened, for the growth was halted and no tooth buds were destroyed. The red, angry lump disappeared from her lip and the shoulder lump was also healed.
David was born July 20th, 1937 in the Dee Memorial Hospital. I got through the birth satisfactorily but contracted pneumonia ten days later. The infection hung on for weeks. Parley was then up for a transfer, but was allowed to remain in Ogden until I was feeling better.
Finally in December he left for Glendive, Montana without us to get the Buffalo Rapids Irrigation Project underway. Parley found suitable temporary living quarters and we left Ogden by train, December 21st, arriving in Glendive on the 23rd.
Practically all of the Ninth Ward was at the depot to see us off, each with a box of fruit, candy, or games to entertain the children. Bless them for their kindness; those extra boxes became a hindrance before Parley met us at Billings. Pat was then seven years old, Barbara four, and David was a roly-poly twenty pounder, who neither Pat nor Barbara could handle, nor could I for very long.
Having a stateroom was a big help in caring for the baby. The children's discovery of the call button for the porter gave them a new interest. First Pat, then Barbara, would ring. A black face would appear, "You called Madam?", and then he would hold out his hand until a dollar was dropped in it. This went on and on -- now Barbara, then Pat, then . . . I couldn't seem to control them. Finally I said "You'd better stop, I'm running out of dollars." Barbara reached over me and rang one more time. Promptly the black face appeared. Pushing Barbara toward him I said, "You just have to take her." He tried. There the fun ended.
I was completely worn out. Never was I so glad to see relief in sight as when Parley poked his head in the train door at Billings, two-hundred miles from our destination in Glendive. The temperature was 12 degrees below when we arrived and soon after dipped to -23 degrees F.
Glendive and Douglas' Birth
Our two years in Glendive were pleasant enough, although the winters were extremely cold. Douglas was born September 13, 1939 in the Great Northern Railroad Hospital . . . with all the privacy of a park bench, minus the umbrella (no reflection on the doctor, nor the hospital -- just an over confident nurse who thought she knew more than the doctor). When Parl told her that I was ready to deliver, she said: "I'll make the decision when it's time". Parley said nothing but just rolled me toward the elevator with the nurse close at his heels murmuring "I'm supposed to give her two pills the doctor left".
"Too Late!", Parl said.
On the way, Parley rang the panic button for the doctor and shouted for the interns, who arrived in record time clothed only in pajama pants. They knew the art of 'birthing' and in taking care of the details afterwards. Dr. Shillington showed anger when he arrived 4 minutes later and found the nurse still clutching the two pink pills he'd left to retard the action until he could get there.
The winter Mother died I took ten piano lessons. The teacher moved before I passed 'book one' and after that I half-heartedly practiced pieces that were too difficult for me. After Barbara became able to teach me I made some progress but the effort of finding time to practice kept me a beginner. When we held our Sunday School in our home in Glendive I learned three or four hyms so I could play for group singing. The first Sunday I tried, Parley conducted and it seemed to me that he was running a race with me to see who go through first. I about fainted, the keyboard came up to meet me - then I knew for sure that I was pregnant. Barbara, then eight years old, did the playing from then on and it didn't seem to bother her one bit.
When he was two months old, Parley was transferred to Williston, North Dakota, this time as Project Manager, to build the Buford-Trenton Irrigation Project. The project was to take water out of the Yellowstone and Missouri Rivers to irrigate the dry farmlands around Williston. Parley's laborers were made up of a camp of conscientious objectors, plus a few key men from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (this would furnish interesting material for a complete book, perhaps Parl will tell this in more detail)
We stayed in Williston four years -- long enough to see the drought stricken farmers boosted into prosperity through the irrigation project.
My health was not the best in Williston. Our good friends, the Alvin Bean family, did much to help us, and by finding women to help me with the house and the children. One was a Danish women, about sixty-five, named Amanda Peterson (yes, children, the same that ate the dime in the birthday cake and didn't know it), odd in appearance and speech, but a real mother to the children and they demonstrated their love for her.
One girl, a real lovely eighteen year old named June Ring stayed with us two years. She was from a big family who were poverty stricken until the irrigation project made it possible to get river water to their farm. We paid her $3.50 a week besides board, room, with one afternoon off and evening off besides Sunday. June loved the children and was kind to them, and they returned her love. It took June many days to break the habit of cutting up two loaves of bread for each meal. She had nine working brothers at home so two loaves of bread were normal for such husky appetites.
I learned to ice skate in Williston at the age of forty. Parley, Pat, Barbara Carol, and the missionaries and I went together once or twice a week. If the weather was not colder than 10 degrees below zero, we skated outside in the municipal rink, but if colder, we paid fifty cents each to use the inside rink.
The Church and Missionaries
In both Glendive and Williston we started a branch of the church. At first, we met in our homes, later renting a small hall, and just before we left Williston, a very small and humble, but adequate, church was begun. Brother and Sister Ferroll Anderson, their six children, two missionaries, and our family, comprised our Sunday School in Glendive, with a few investigators now and again.
To get the house ready Sunday morning, for we used every room for classes, and to get dinner in the oven, vegetables ready, and the children properly dressed, was a hassle. The day meetings were to be held at our place was also the day for the missionaries to eat with us. One such morning six big fellows, missionaries, filed into the kitchen from the basement. Without our hearing them they had come the night before and slept with the two elders already staying in our basement. Missionary conference was to be held that afternoon.
Sunday, December 7, 1941, Elders Stucki and Welton were eating with us when the announcement came over the radio that the Japs had bombed Pearl Harbor and that war was officially declared. The children began saying where they would hide in case the Nazis came after them and agreed that the recess behind the swing-cupboard, where the canned goods were kept, was the ideal place. Whenever leaving the house after that I was nervous for fear they would all crawl behind there and smother.
Trying to Leave Williston, but Pneumonia Strikes
When the thirty-seven year olds were registered to do military service, Parl was sent to build a priority project -- the Scofield Dam in Carbon County, Utah. He would have offices in Price where we would also reside. The day before we were to leave Williston, August 4, 1943, Pat came down with viral pneumonia. Our furniture was packed in readiness for the train trip to Utah. Since the house we had lived in in Williston was already rented, I asked permission to put what few things we could get by with in the basement and stay there. Parley had to leave the next day and he took Barbara and David with him; I kept Douglas to care for Pat until he was able to travel.
Pat was in the Good Samaritan Hospital across town. Each evening Doug and I would walk to the hospital to visit him. I can still feel Dougie's little hot hand in mine as we walked home after dark. He would keep saying: "We're not frightened, are we?", as if to reassure himself.
Pat was then fourteen and in the ten days he was hospitalized he grew a dark beard which was the envy of all the missionaries in the district. I 'folded up' the day after Pat came home, with the same disease. Our dear friends, Mary and Chester Wright, who had four children of their own, took Pat and Douglas to care for in my absence.
I didn't mend as quickly as Pat; he went to Utah with a convoy of government trucks a couple of weeks after being released from the hospital the last part of August. Douglas went with the Newmans the first part of September as Lee Newman also transferred to Price. The virus was a stubborn bug. It was the middle of October before I was strong enough to leave Williston. I went by train; stayed in my berth until I reached Butte where Parley was waiting for me. He gave me good care and the next evening we arrived in Salt Lake City where we stayed over night before driving on to Price to the children, who had been left in the care of two of Parley's Aunts, Mayme Goetzman and Parthenia Rhead. Such dear, dear people.
Parley had rented a Spanish type house in the west part of Price. It was a nice house but had twenty white doors, excluding cabinet and clothes closet doors. Just a block away was the main railroad tracks where trainloads of soldiers, equipment, and coal were passing every five minutes. The white doors posed a problem but, more importantly, we needed to get into a better part of town. We built a two bedroom home, with a basement, where we added another bedroom, besides plenty of room for the children to play.
When the Scofield Dam was completed in 1946, we move to Spanish Fork where Parley started preliminary work on the Central Utah Project. This project has lasted beyond his retirement and is still unfinished as I write in 1981. For the first five years we rented a small home on Fifth North, then built a brick home in a new area -- Escalante Drive. Here we have lived thirty years (1981).
My working for pay, other than baby-sitting and messenger service for the telephone company, at 10 to 25 cents a job*, began with assisting the postmaster the summer I was fifteen. The next summer I took a job as a sales lady at the Parowan Mercantile. I worked 'on and off ' as a relief operator for the telephone company during my senior year in high school and as a full-time operator the following summer and winter. My salary was $20 a month. That seemed good all in one piece. This was an eight hour day job, six days a week, with a split shift on Sunday from 10:00 A.M. to Noon, and again from 4:00 P.M. to 8:00 P.M. (Can you, my grandchildren, imagine being without telephone service practically all of Sunday?)
In 1926 my experience as a sales lady, in the Parowan Merc. paid off when I applied to the Z.C.M.I. and was given $65 per month -- the wage of experience help. Other girls, who had no experience, got $55. From this job I quit to be married, not to work again away from home until years later.
When labor became scarce during World War II, I worked as a sales lady in The Price Trading Company at Price, Utah. Pat, then 14, was employed there as a stock boy and near Christmas time was promoted to salesman. The manager had learned that I had experience and asked me to work. Our youngest child, Douglas, was in kindergarten in the afternoons so I promised to work half a day, but was compelled to work full-time when the Christmas rush started.
After we moved to Spanish Fork and the children were all in school, I worked as 'first extra' at J.C. Penny's. When Pat and Barbara were in college I worked full-time; this I regretted when it came time to pay income tax. My salary, added to Parl's, shifted him into a higher tax bracket, resulting in my working, from early November to the 2nd week in January for nothing. That cured me from working full-time; I worked as 'extra' again until Douglas and his boys, Alan and Kent, came home to live with us the summer of 1962.
*Note added 10/01/05: Uncle Dave told me that Grandma often told him that in early Parowan, only a few businesses, and just a couple of houses had telephones. If you wanted to use the phone you'd have to go to the phone company to do so; more to the point, if a long distance call came in for you, they'd pay a kid a nickel or so to run and find you.
Douglas was accidentally killed July 23, 1966, while hunting with two friends on West Mountain. Doug was driving the jeep and his buddy climbed in the back seat, gun loaded, without his gun on safety. It discharged killing Douglas instantly.
Both Pat and Douglas flew airplanes. Doug was just ready to get his pilot's license. Each time a plane flew low over our neighborhood, little Diane, just three years old, would run outside and cry excitedly: "My Daddy's come back!".
I flew to Cedar City twice with Pat to visit my sister Laura, who was then home-bound with arthritis. Pat was a good pilot, and outside dipping into air pocket over Beaver's mountains, our trips were smooth and enjoyable.
Parley was always a careless writer. His problem was that his thoughts came tumbling out so fast that he couldn't record them legibly. One of the children asked him why he hadn't kept on with his medical training since he apparently knew the writing.
He'd left on a flight to Washington, D.C., promising to send us a card from Chicago. Two days later the postman brought a letter, post-marked Chicago, which needed additional postage. I heard the children reasoning:
"It's sure to be from Dad. Since it is from Chicago, we know he passed through there and since we will not be able to read it anyway, why spend our money on it?"
Old carpentry jobs were Parley's delight. He took a high school adult education class to improve his skill and to make a gun cabinet. It had to be made of pine or walnut, the hardware just right, have shelves, cubby-holes, hooks, etc. It measured 72 inches high, 34 inches wide, and 24 inches thick. After a couple of months it was finished. He cleaned out a corner of the basement in readiness and with the help of three men tried to get it down the stairs. It wouldn't go. Parley quickly made the decision to install it in our bedroom. Now our bedroom was small and already contained a double bed, dressing table, chest of drawers, cedar chest, and a chair. Over my protests the monstrosity was installed in our bedroom.
We were to entertain our dinner club that weekend and I kept wishing that he hadn't cluttered up the bedroom until after it was over. Then I thought of something original; we'd capitalize on that monstrosity, only we'd call it a Privy. Our invitation read:
|You are cordially invited to attend
The Premier Showing of Parley's Privy
At 53 West, 500 North on Saturday, March 14, 1969
Dinner will be served at 7:00 P.M.
To prepare the cabinet to look like a privy we painted half-moons above the door and on the sides. A Sears catalog was chained to the door handle. From the furniture store I got a large sheet of plastic wrap to cover it, and tied a huge red ribbon bow, from a poinsettia plant, across the front. It looked special; it furnished fun for the whole evening, and everybody came. Parley was proud of his work and in time I accepted the fact that a happy husband outweighed the inconvenience of a gun cabinet in our bedroom.
Our mission (to Independence, Missouri) is the golden thread in the tapestry of our lives. To serve the Lord, teach His Gospel, and to be daily working with my husband for the good of others was indeed a choice blessing.
Elder Peterson had written a 17 page script to explain our religion as we toured the five areas on the main floor (of the Visitor Center). With the help of the Lord we memorized it in a remarkably short time. We could use our own words but there were certain messages to be given at each station. I was frightened at first, but having the truth to tell made me adequate and in time not even the 'turn collared' ministers bothered me. I had one beautiful experience showing the nearness of the Lord and his concern for those doing his work:
In my tour group there was an intelligent looking couple, and a minister, of what church I could not tell. The minister said little but looked formidable and as I approached the station telling of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, his look became belligerent and I became tense and frightened. My voice trembled and I felt that I might be overcome and not able to continue the tour. We had a large, 3 x 5 foot, Book of Mormon with paintings of Lehi and his family leaving Jerusalem, Abinadi preaching before wicked King Noah, Alma baptizing in the Waters Of Mormon, and Moroni hiding up the records in the earth, to help us with our story. As I pulled the book into an upright position in front of me, I gave, in a few words, a plea for help from the Lord that I might continue telling the story I knew to be true. At that moment, I no longer felt the antagonizing spirit of the minister; passages of scripture from the Bible came to my memory to substantiate my story. I looked him straight in the eye as I finished my tour.
Never again did I let a minister intimidate me.
Temple work, for us, is the capstone of all our church work and we feel that it is a privilege to do this important work for both the living and the dead. It is my daily prayer that I will remain well to continue this beautiful, important work. The third year the Temple President called us, along with others, to attend a weekly Spanish class in order to assist the Spanish speaking Saints in their temple work. I memorized the ordinances and found joy in helping these humble people.
Parley was set apart May 26, 1978, as a temple sealer by President Spencer W. Kimball. I went to Salt Lake City with Parley to receive this blessing. It was a real thrill for Parley and for me to have a Prophet of the Lord lay his hands on Parl's head and give him the high commission to do Sealings.
At The 50th Wedding Anniversary
December 21st, 1978 marked our 50th Wedding Anniversary. In a society where divorce is so prevalent, many 'moderns' ask how one could live in harmony with one man for so many years. Love is the answer. Unselfishness, respect for one another, and choosing wisely in the beginning, are likewise important.
Choosing wisely is perhaps my greatest attainment in life.
In retrospect, I look over the 50 years of our marriage and praise the Lord for blessing us so abundantly.
CHRISTMAS AT HOME SERIES by Josephine M. Neeley
Belief in Santa
Warner found out about Santa without anyone telling him. He slept on a couch in the living room and was awakened by movement about him and the rattle of paper. When Daddy looked to see if he were asleep, Warner faked some realistic sleep, snoring lightly. Then through a burnt peephole in his quilt he watched the entire process of Santa's filling the stockings. He confessed that his "cheating" was the means of spoiling that Christmas as well as many yet to come.
Most Children reach the "doubting Santa" age in 3rd or 4th grade, a few earlier and some later. The three youngest children, Laura, Albert and Karl were still ardent believers. One day while on our way to school Al and Karl were telling what Santa was going to bring them for Christmas. Clarence Bentley began telling them that there wasn't a Santa Clause. Douglas, then about 10 asked him to stop; Clarence kept right on saying how he had watched his Dad and Mother fill the stockings, and before he could finish Douglas landed his fist on Clarence's jaw, knocking him to the ground. Clarence got up saying "he'd tell 'em what he damned please". Douglas swung at him again and threatened more of the same treatment if he ever heard of him telling such stories to children again. Clarence knew when he was licked.
When I was about eight and Mary Ann was 11 or 12 she asked me to stay home from Sunday School with her. She was getting over an attack of tonsillitis and Mother had charged her with the responsibility of washing up the breakfast dishes and starting dinner. Since we all went to Sunday School each week, Dad, Mother, and the children, I hesitated, unwilling to miss going with the others. Mary Ann could see she'd have to convince me, and she did. "If you'll stay,” she whispered, "we'll have fun. I know where Santa has hidden the dolls and we'll get them and play with them." No more coaxing was necessary. Innocently I asked Mother if I could stay and help Mary Ann with the dishes. Mother relented after telling me how disappointed my teacher would be and how Mary Ann didn't have so much to do that she needed help.
As soon as the door closed on the last church goer. Mary Ann said, "Come with me." I followed her into the parlor. Our piano was set across the corner of the room. At her direction we both got on one side and heaved, moving the heavy upright just enough so that I could squeeze through. There in the corner were four beautiful dolls. I looked into each box trying to decide which I would like most to play with. Selecting a blond, brown-eyed beauty I then let Mary Ann choose.
Work was forgotten and time flew on wings until the chime of the chapel bell announced the time of reassembly for closing song and prayer. Reluctantly we started picking up doll clothes and things we'd used in playing house, barely getting the piano pushed back by the time the family started arriving.
Mother was cross to see that the breakfast dishes were still in the sink, the house untidy, and dinner not started. Vowing that she'd never leave two of us home again, Mother made us pitch right in and do the work we should have done earlier.
The Inquisitive One
Two weeks before Christmas Laura and I received packages from the top men on our totem poles. The packages were about the same size and labeled "Don't Open 'Til Xmas." In spite the fact that mine came from Salt Lake City and Laura's from Cedar City, they were quite similar.
Laura, always the inquisitive one, suggested that we disregard the restrictive label and satisfy our curiosity; I could endure the pangs of suspense and didn't want my surprise spoiled. Laura finally picked her package to pieces and found a lovely wrist watch; now her curiosity was whetted, nothing could stay her hand - she must see what Parley had sent me. She wheedled me into letting her remove the outer wrapper, promising not to go further nor to tell what was inside in case the contents were revealed.
Alone, with door closed, Laura tore off the brown paper, smelled, pinched and shook the package then emerged grinning.
"It must be a good one," she said.
"You promised not to tell," I protested.
"I'm not going to tell what it is, but it's still ticking."
The Stockings were Hung
Twelve yawning stockings to fill at Christmas presented quite a challenge when Santa visited our home in Parowan.
Storing toys in accessible places in readiness for Christmas Eve was the big problem. Our attic was the ideal place, yet occasionally little snoopers sent there on an errand to get dried plums (stored there in large seamless bags) rummaged in remote corners uncovering such hard to conceal items as red wagons and doll buggies.
Our little brothers, Douglas, Albert and Karl asked for an express wagon (all wagons were called "express wagons" in those days). Their arguments were that they could use such a wagon to haul food, farm produce, and groceries from the store as well give transportation to any child in the family who had stubbed his toe or stepped on a rusty nail, or pitch-fork, had convinced Santa Clause. Weeks before Xmas the wagon was hidden in the attic.
Santa's helpers, the four oldest children, usually came home from Christmas Eve dances just in time to assemble the gifts for Santa to stuff the stockings and label the larger ones to put under the tree. This particular Christmas Florence and Belle were bringing the wagon from the attic. Since they had to pass through the south bedroom where the boys were sleeping, the girls carried the wagon, not daring to pull it lest a squeaking wheel awaken the boys. As they started down the stair Douglas roused, got out of bed and followed right behind them. They tried to send him back telling him that he'd awaken the others, but in spite their persuasive pleadings he followed them right to the bottom. Resting their burden on the hall floor, Florence put her arm around Douglas' shoulder and led him back to bed. He made no resistance.
The next morning, Douglas, with the other boys were up early; their surprise and joy over the red wagon was genuine. What Douglas saw the night before in his "sleep walking" had not registered on his conscious mind and Santa's secret hiding place was not revealed.
The Duck Shelf
The chill of winter silvered the breath of the Burton children as they huddled before the toy filled window. This was the night of the City's Christmas opening. Wrapped in warm coats and caps the children ignored the freezing temperature; their rapt attention was centered on the exciting new toys within. "That's mine," said Ronnie pointing to a helicopter which hung from the ceiling. "I'll take the red dump truck I can haul things in it. Just as soon as the batteries are gone from the helicopter there's nothing much you can do with it," said Mark.
"I hope Santa will bring me that blonde, brown-eyed doll and the carriage," said Sue, "and of course I could use my old buggy if he couldn't bring me both.”
Laurie, only six, wanted many things, but her first choice was a ceramic duck, rather a sand crane standing on one foot. The base allowed the crane to balance on one foot in painted rushes.
"That's really not a toy; what would you do with it?" said Mark.
"It is to set on the mantle and look at," said Sue. "Wouldn't you rather have a doll or toy?"
Moving on to the next window Sue's eyes rested on a nut-cracker set.
"That's what I'm going to buy for Mother".
"That electric corn popper would be best, we need a good one," said Mark.
"But the electric ones cost too much," said Sue.
"We could pool our money and buy it together. Want to Ron?"
"Well maybe," answered Ronnie.
"I'm going to buy the duck for Mother, announced Laurie. She can put it on the mantle with her figurines".
"You'd better think about that for a while," said Sue.
Later when the three older children were counting their money to see if the total would pay for the electric popper, Laurie announced:
"I've already bought Mama's gift. Shall I show you?"
"Thought you were going to help us buy the popper", said Mark.
"I didn't say so. I had enough money but 15 cents and Daddy gave me that."
She was fumbling with a little wad of paper, out of which she produced the duck.
Mark looked at Sue and shrugged. "Guess we can't count on her for 50 cents. You'd better wrap it up, Laurie before Mother sees it and puts it away.”
When Mr. Burton sat before the fire reading the evening paper, Laurie climbed on his lap and whispered.
“Do you want to see the present I bought for Mother, Daddy?"
“Yes if you can show it to me without her seeing it".
Laurie scurried to bring the little wrinkled roll, carefully unwrapping it for her Daddy to see.
"Isn't it cute?" she said caressing it with her chubby hands.
"It's little, careful now that you don't drop it on the hearth".
"Where can I hide it so no one can reach it?" Laurie asked.
"Yes, Dad we'll have some gifts that will be too big to put in our drawers, where can we keep them"? asked Mark.
"Well, let’s see, you want some hiding place that is high and safe". After a thoughtful moment Mr. Burton said:
"How about the shelf in the hall closet? Once your gifts are up there they'll be as safe as they would be in the bank. It would be a good idea to wrap them before you hide them, don't you think?"
With the aid of Sue, Laurie's precious duck was rolled in tissue, placed in a small box then wrapped in gay, Santa Clause and reindeer designed paper.
"We'll put the bow on later, it might get crushed on the shelf," said Sue.
The very next night, with the aid of the kitchen stool, Laurie got her duck off the shelf, tore off its red and green cover and fondled the cold, ceramic thing as though it were a soft and warm pet. Mark was disgusted.
"You silly thing, first thing you know you'll be letting mother see it and spoil the surprise".
"It's so cute, I just had to see if it was alright." Then holding her pet to her cheek she talked to it like a real live pet. "Was it dark in that box; were you afraid you'd fall off that high, high shelf?"
Nearly every night after that, while Mrs. Burton was clearing up after dinner, Laurie played with the duck. Once she had a string tied around its neck and was pulling it carefully over the tiled hearth when Mrs. Burton came into the room. Her mother might not have noticed what Laurie was playing with had Mark not shouted:
"Now you've let Mother see her Christmas present. I told you to put it away."
Laurie burst out crying. She sobbed as though she had done a terrible thing. Her daddy tried to comfort her, as she huddled at his feet clutching the duck which she had rolled up in her full skirt.
"I don't think Mother was paying any attention to what you were playing with," Mr. Burton comforted.
"I know she did; I've spoiled her surprise".
"We'll just ask her, but first let’s put the duck back on the shelf."
Mother confessed she hadn't seen a thing, nor had she paid any attention to what Mark had said.
From then until Christmas the duck remained on the shelf. Laurie often sat on the stair and counted the gaily wrapped packages, including the electric popper, that finally filled the "Duck Shelf" to the ceiling.
Ever after this incident the hall closet shelf was the "Duck Shelf" and Christmas presents became "Ducks". Though Laurie is now a grandmother, somewhere in her Christmas packages she always finds a little duck. Through the years she has collected all sizes and kinds of ducks, enough for a duck shelf of her own.
The Yule Log
Our yule log took the form of pitchy pine kindling to be burned in a central heater. My earliest recollections of Christmas morning centered around a fireplace, which was later bricked up because of the danger of an open fire with so many small children and also because of its limited heating capacity.
Just before Christmas Daddy would make a special trip to the canyon for wood including in the load a log or two of yellow pine. That pitchy, strong smelling wood that ignites almost as readily as tinder. Laura, at age seven, found this out the dangerous way. With a few splinters of pitch and a handful of matches she sought the seclusion of the big-bed-room to try out the kindling. One of the boys, entering the back door, saw the curtains at the south window a flame; he spread the alarm and the fire was put out before serious damage resulted. The curtains were burned and the frames charred, and Laura, frightened at the commotion she had started, hid in the corner. Our parents were too grateful that no one had been burned to chastise Laura severely, but a lecture on fire prevention was forthcoming when we gathered at the dinner table that night.
I remember how Douglas, Albert, and later Karl would have a box of kindling hidden away for quick fires on Christmas morning. If an emergency arose and the kindling was borrowed there was no peace in the house until it had been replaced.
One year when school was out for Christmas vacation, I, along with two or three of the other children, went with Daddy on a twofold mission to get kindling and a Christmas tree. Mother put up a lunch; we bundled up in our warmest clothes for the trip. There was no snow on the ground but the sky looked threatening and Daddy dared not postpone this trip any longer.
Christmas carols and excited talk of Santa's yearly visit shortened the eight mile ride to Dry Canyon. We were ready to eat as soon as the wagon stopped, but Daddy started right in chopping wood and said he could eat on the way home. When we finished eating, Daddy made us feel important by sending us to look for a suitable Christmas Tree. There was nothing tall and stately about the tree we chose. Our favorite was always a pinion pine roundish and good smelling with lots of branches for hanging gifts and decorations.
By the time daddy had the wood loaded and the tree tied on top there was little space for us passengers. Daddy snuggled us around him, tucking a canvas over us for the snow was beginning to fall in scattered, dry flakes. So complete was our trust in Daddy that we had not a care or worry as we sang our way home. Two inches of snow covered the canvas by the time we reached home; we'd kept snug and dry of snow covered the canvas, while Dad looked like a snow man perched on top of the load.
So vivid Is this memory I can still smell the pungent aroma of the pitchy pine mingled with the more mellow smell of the pinion pine. The medley of the childhood Christmas songs we sang bridge the scores of years between the Christmas' of the present and those of my childhood.
"Santa Clause is now in Paragonah"
The community Christmas eve program sponsored by the Sunday School was one of the highlights of the Yule season. Usually, at the end of the program, Santa would appear taking orders and giving out treats. As the program progressed Santa's whereabouts would be announced and the approximate time that he would arrive in Parowan.
I well remember the warm, pinion pine scented chapel with the huge tree decorated with tinsel and Primary made paper chains, lighted with candles clipped to the tips of the branches with metal clamps, and the same blue angel looking down at us from the top.
Every child that attended Sunday School was on the program for group singing or to recite appropriate poems. "The Night Before Christmas" and "Just Before Christmas" were two poems sure to be given; besides a tableau or pageant of the birth of the Christ Child enacted by the older children robed in oversized bath robes wearing cotton beards.
The first announcement of Santa's whereabouts, made at the beginning of the program. would be: "Santa Clause is now leaving Salt Lake City, and with the cooperation of his reindeer, he will make it to Parowan before our program closes." "Ohs" and "Ahs" would follow: ten minutes later Santa would be passing through Nephi (not bad speed for a reindeer span). Next Fillmore, then Beaver, the closer he came the noisier the news was received until the announcement of, "Santa Clause is now in Paragonah!". A thunderous applause, whistles and stomping of feet inappropriate for the Chapel, that the Superintendent, Brother Thomas Durham, could not quiet until Santa came bounding down the aisle in his red velvet suit with white fur trim and a white beard, carrying a pack on his back with toys, games, etc., showing from the top. Local men I can remember who did the Santa "bit" were David Matheson, Fred Bruhn, M. M. Decker and later Harley W. Dalton; an English accent prevented the one "natural" - William Pritchard, in whose mold Santa was cast – from’ acting the part.
After a few appropriate words from our jolly old "faker" he would sit on the stand while those children bold enough would, in turn, sit on his lap and tell him what they wanted for Christmas. He made generous promises, as I grew older I wondered how he dared. Always he admonished us to hurry home and go right to bed so he could fill our stockings and go on to the next town. As we left the program Santa handed each child a bag of candy and nuts, sometimes an orange. There was no languishing after these programs. Home we'd run, hang our stockings, and go straight to bed - but not always to sleep. Excitement kept Mary Ann and I counting, not sheep, but "dog barks", one Christmas eve, until all the other kids were asleep. I must have dozed during my counting for Mary Ann got a hundred or more barks than I did. Her total approximated 531; since Old Bob was participating we were afraid he'd scare Santa away.
One Christmas Eve
Arriving home after one Christmas Tree program, Belle asked Ada and I to run to Grandma's to get the belt for the new dress Aunt Florence had just finished for her. We protested saying that Santa had told us to go right to bed. Mother intervened saying that there'd be plenty of time if we'd hurry. We bundled up and set out.
We started out like athletes on a short run. I can remember seeing the pompom on Ada's toboggan bobbing up and down as she ran ahead of me in the narrow path with snow piled high on either side. I now had two worries, first, that Santa would see us and second, that Ada, running now like Blitzen himself, would get too far ahead. My second worry was solved as Ada rounded New Whitney's corner. Taking the diagonal trail straight to the Equitable Store, Ada stopped dead in her tracks; I caught up and at the same time saw Santa in the upstairs toy department of the old Equitable. The manager, James Alma Benson was with him and they were laughing and eating peanuts, flipping the shells on the floor. We wondered where his sled and reindeer were; they were not tethered to the big tie-post in front. Ada surmised they'd be out of sight in the dark recesses close to the rear door of the store. We felt secure going the remaining short distance to grandmother's, knowing that Santa hadn't as yet started his stocking filling spree.
Grandmother soon found the belt and seemed to think it unusual that we didn't want to stay a minute. Promising to visit them early the next morning, we set out noticing as we left the porch that the toy department was dark which meant that Santa was on his way. We took the back street (First East) instead of lighted Main thinking we might not be noticed should Santa pass that way. We made the first block but ran into trouble as we reached Vangie Wooley's corner. There was no trail scraped from there on. Instead of crossing to the east side of the street where there was a trail we bounded through foot-high snow like a couple of jack rabbits. The going got tougher as we jumped the flume at 1st South and plowed through drifted snow that filled the empty block belonging to Uncle Alvin.
Snow covered the tired; we all but fell through the front door. Mother helped us hang up our coats and gloves to dry and into our outing pajamas. Sleep came early that night from shear exhaustion.
Christmas day started as early as 4 a.m. at our house. Often Dad had the fires going by the time we got up, and the smell of pitchy kindling and brimstone, along with the aroma of our pinion pine tree, greeted us. With a generous store of kindling ready it was not difficult to get our heater red-hot in a few minutes.
I can remember of having been made to dress before looking at my presents, but this was not the usual thing. I'm sure Mother would have liked us to eat breakfast before starting on our morning tour, but I can't remember of ever eating until we arrived back home at 9:30 or 10:00 o'clock, and by that time we had eaten enough candy and the like that homemade sausage, and hot bread and jam, tasted super.
Not always did we come out victorious in our race to get to Aunt Lizzies before Rowena and Roberta got to our place. Once I opened the front door to let them in and who should be standing there but Mary Ann and George Jones just saying goodnight after a jolly (long) Xmas Eve date (I'll not tell what time it was, but it was no longer Xmas Eve.)
Of course the boys, Douglas, Albert and Karl didn't first go to Aunt Lizzies, they went where there were boys their age - to Uncle Walter's. What they did there, they'll have to tell you, as for we girls, we bundled up our dolls and any other presents small enough to carry and went straight to Aunt Lizzies.
As we started out one Christmas morning Brother Jackson was just passing on his way to the Power Plant in the mouth of the canyon. He drove a single seated buggy with high spirited horses and sat in a dignified manner as the King of England on his throne. He was no doubt going up to clear the "mush ice out of the intake" so we could have dependable service for Christmas Day. "Merry Christmas," we shouted in unison. To our surprise he pulled on the reins, bringing his fractious team to a halt, and threw each of us a quarter. Before this we had thought of him as the proverbial Scrooge himself; it was just his dignified manner that had given us this impression. From then on we always spoke to him and he to us.
After seeing what Santa had left our cousins they would go with us to Grandma and Grandpa Orton's. Our grandparents gave money to all their grandchildren who visited them on Christmas morning. The older ones rated 25 cents, and those younger 10 or 15 cents, and the "little bitties" a nickel. After one such visit Mary Ann traded me her dime for my nickel, saying that she knew Grandpa meant for her to have the larger coin (I'll still trade that way, Mary Ann). Ada was smarter, or was it you, Laura, that swallowed her dime, making sure that no one traded her out of it.
Time prevents my telling more, but in connection with those visits to Grandma's on Christmas Morning, I must remind you of the English tea cakes, with currants, not too sweet but very 'short' and the Mormon tea, hot water, with sugar and cream, that Grandma spread before us on special occasions.
Parley M. Neeley's 'History and Tribute' at the funeral
HISTORY AND TRIBUTE: PARLEY M. NEELEY:
I'm sorry to be so teary but I'm very, very happy. I appreciate everyone coming today, especially our dear Uncle Cary from Parowan. I'm really happy.
Some of these things I say are going to sound to you like they are serendipitous. But even though I am tearful, I mean it that way because this is an occasion that Mother has waited for and longed for and I know she's happy and I'm happy as well, as I said.
We had a little bit of a problem with venues today, but our good organ player, Caroline, has practiced in every ward in the stake I think and we needed to see which one would be the one where we would hold our services. Even this morning as we came here it was cold and we called the PM man to come and do something with the heat and he said he thought we were going to be in the 1st Ward and that they had it all heated up. So, I think we're going to get along all right.
I've been asked to give a brief history of Mother, Josephine Mitchell Neeley, but how can I give a brief history of someone who was 95 years old. It's almost impossible. I can't do it in ten minutes so it may be a little bit longer. Please bear with me. And it may be slanted a little bit my direction; if Dave was giving it it would be slanted his direction and if Barb was giving it it would be slanted in her direction. Please forgive me for that and I will do the very best I can.
My mother was born on August 31,1902, the eighth of twelve children, to William Cooke Mitchell III and Laurette Orton in Parowan, Utah. It is interesting, only 51 years after the Parowan Saints moved to Parowan from Salt Lake City. Some of you may think 51 years is a long time, but I can remember moving to Spanish Fork 51 years ago and Spanish Fork hasn't changed a bit in 51 years. Three years ago it began to change, that's when you couldn't get across the street at 5:00, but Parowan was much the same when Mother was born as it was when the Saints got there and only 55 years after the Saints and pioneers came into the Salt Lake Valley. So when you put it in that perspective, Mother has lived a long, long time. As a matter of fact, her children and their wives and husbands were all getting into one car to see about some flowers the other day and we squeezed in and we groaned and we pushed in, and as we got to our destination and had to be pulled out, helped out, someone said "Mother may have lived too long. Her children all are elderly now."
As I think about Parowan, I wonder how Parowan handled occasions like this. We've been calling Dayton, Ohio, and Omaha, Nebraska and with no phones and the nearest town, Paragonah, half a day away at least, Cedar City a whole day away and then having to turn around and come back during the night, I don't know how the people knew about these things. Things have changed since Mother lived in Parowan.
Parowan was a magical place, for at least Mother's children. We all like to tell stories about Parowan and it became a magical place for us. My Grandfather Neeley and my Grandfather Mitchell were both born on the same day but 10 years apart. My Grandfather Mitchell being the eldest. There was always a discussion in our family about where we were going on our Grandpa's birthday. The other Grandpa was from Coalville and we always opted for Parowan because we thought Coalville was what you might say, "Dullsville." But not Parowan.
There was Paragonah - the sister city, and by the way, Parowan according to the Utah Place Names Book means "swampy water," or "bad water," and that's different from what my mother always told me. Paragonah means "swamp water," or "bad water," depending on which Indian you talked to for the pronunciation of those two places. But there was Parowan and then Paragonah was just a little bit north of Parowan as you go past. Paragonah always brings visions of Santa Claus in my mind because in Mother's day, they always had a party on Christmas Eve at the Church. And the kids, of course, would get all excited and wouldn't settle down and didn't want to go home. Finally, the Bishop would get up and make the announcement that he just heard that "Santa Clause is now in Paragonah." When that happened, everything broke up so the kids could get home and to bed.
There are many places Mother talked about and told stories. There was the gap
where ancient people wrote with undecipherable messages, and there was the town
which was two days away. The Little Salt Lake and Parowan Canyon, the most
beautiful and sweet-smelling canyon of all, I understand. There was a rock
shaped like an Indian
mother holding her baby there and there was the jump off where Mother said that
the canyon where the red streaks were coming down the wall, that's where her
Mother was well educated. She went through high school in Parowan and a season at the normal school in Beaver and a year at the church Gila College in Safford, Arizona. I'm not sure exactly where that is, but it's in Arizona. And then she spent two years at the University of Utah. This is a quote right out of her un-compiled history. She said, "The two years were meant to be four but Parl came along into the picture and changed all that."
She married Dad, Parley Rhead Neeley, in the Salt Lake Temple on December 21, 1928, and lived in Coalville in Dad's folks' house to begin with when Dad was on the Echo Dam project with the United States Bureau of Reclamation. Without the school, Dad and Mother never would have known each other and without our Aunt Belle, Fritz, and our Aunt Ada (Peg) who were staying at that very same house, teaching school in Coalville, this never would have happened. But it did and we are eternally grateful to them.
A lot of people thought wrongly that Mother was a
little bit aloof but she certainly
wasn't. It was a product
of her conservative English heritage and her Parowan
upbringing that made
her that way but she actually was very friendly and very helpful. I
can remember when we
lived in a place called Wellton, Arizona, which was a railroad
town during the
depression when the trains would come in. Hordes of men would get off
and they would go through the town and Mother always
made them a sandwich. We
called it a bum
sandwich and you've probably heard that from a lot of places, but it was a
and a couple pieces of bread. Mother always put a piece of lettuce in it
and she always had carrots on the side which they
hardly ever ate. But I think that's
where I got my aversion to vegetables. If they didn't eat them, why
should I have to?
Never in my life when I lived with my folks did I hear my mother raise her
never raised her voice but she did keep a little switch in the closet which she
very smartly. And I mean smartly. I don't think my sister and brother had much
Mother was very sensitive about her age. She was born in 1902. She was a year and a month older than Dad, and she didn't like that to be common knowledge but I'm going to let it out now that she was. She would never tell us how old she was. She would sometimes say, "Old enough," or "39." We'd say, 'Mom, last year you were 39.' She'd say, "39 and holding." I was really shocked one day when I took my birth certificate down to the county court house clerk and applied for a passport. As I was sitting there I noticed that Dad had married Mother three years after I was born. And Mother had married Dad two years before I was born. I called it to my mother's attention and she said, "Your Dad and I were married in 1928 and you were born in 1930. Don't believe birth certificates." So I pass that on to you.
I was born in Kamas, Utah, where Dad was a field engineer for the U.S.B.R. From 1930 until 1933, Dad was an Investigation Engineer for the Colorado River Storage Project and we lived in Wellton, Arizona, Blythe California, and Yuma, Arizona, in the winter and lived in Big Piney, Wyoming and Lyman, Wyoming in the summer. The accommodations were all very good except for Big Piney where we lived in a storefront with just a big blanket over the bay window.
In 1933, Dad was transferred to Ogden, Utah, to be a construction engineer on the building of the Pineview Dam and of course, Mother and I came with him. In 1933 Barbara was born and David was born in 1937. We left Ogden in 1937 when Dad was appointed project engineer for the Buffalo Rapids Project near Glendive, Montana, on the Yellowstone River. This was a big project and we all moved there. Douglas was born there in 1939. In 1939, Dad, Mother and all four of us moved to a place called Williston, North Dakota, on another project called the Buford-Trenton Project and we lived there until we moved to Price in 1943 where Dad was the chief engineer on the Schofield Dam Project.
The Spanish Fork years, 1946, when Dad was appointed the Area Engineer of the
Utah Project which was a part of the Colorado River Storage Project which he
when I was born and when we lived in Wellton. Douglas lived until July 23, 1966,
when he was killed, and Dad lived until May 28, 1986. Mother lived alone in the
In 1996, Mother had some part-time help from the home-health people. She was in good health but she needed a little bit of help. The next year she had help stay full time because it was getting a little hard for her to stay alone. At Easter time in 1997, Mother suffered a stroke which surprised us and actually surprised her. She had always told me that if I didn't eat my broccoli I might have a heart attack or a stroke and I never did eat my broccoli. Mother was surprised to have a stroke.
At that time Mother only weighed 87 pounds and my big brother here and myself could not lift her without hurting her. She had had hip surgery years before and it had come loose. Every time we lifted her it hurt and we couldn't lift her. As a matter of fact, she was so small that one day she was walking down the street when the wind blew her over. Someone had to run over and pick her up. So she wasn't very heavy but we still couldn't handle her. We could not get the wheelchair through the doors. You young people who are building homes need to remember to build your doors and hallways wider. If you want to stay home when you get older and want to stay out of the rest homes, you'd better build your doors wider.
So, even though I am tearful, this is one of the happiest days of my life,
because it was
one of the saddest days of my life when we had to
take Mother to the rest home. She really didn't want to go but she never did
complain. Never during the whole time she was there did she complain about being
in the rest home. But we all had terrible misgivings. We knew we should take
care of her but we just didn't know how to do it.
I'm sorry and I feel
badly about that and I know David and Barbara do as well.
Well, during 95 years you've got to have accomplished a lot and there's no way I'm going to be able to tell how much Mother accomplished. But here are a few of the things:
She made 15 major moves and relocations. She was married in the temple, worked in the Sunday School, worked in the Young Women's Program, worked in the Relief Society, directed music, sang in the choir, and completed a full time mission with Dad. She was a wife to a bishop, which has got to be a hard situation, wife to a bishop's counselor, wife to a branch president, wife to a high counselor, and was a long-time temple worker. She was a wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and great-great-grandmother. She was a telephone messenger when Parowan only had one telephone. Mother was a messenger and when a call would come in for somebody, Mother would go out and deliver the message. Electricity was hooked up to the irrigation turns and there was no telling how long it would last when it would come on and no telling when it came on, maybe an hour, maybe 20 minutes, depending on the irrigation turn. She was a telephone operator, and worked as a mercantile clerk at the Parowan Merc and also at ZCMI. She was a Cancer Driver Chairperson and a Heart Drive Chairperson. She had 85 direct descendants and 111 descendants counting their spouses.
Mother, the children will certainly miss you on Halloween because Dad and Mother and then later just Mother would always dress up and scare the stuffing out of the kids when they would come for Trick or Treats.
And Mother, I finally did learn how to tie my shoes, just as you said I would. We needed you, Mom, and we will miss you. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.