The Family Photo Album

by Ileen Johnson

[Although this was written nearly 20 years ago, it still brings back pleasant memories.  Pick up your pencil, pen or iPhone and start writing.  Write the way you talk and about common, every-day things.  Your posterity will love it!!]

I hope I live long enough to get my photographs in albums. This has been an ongoing project through the years but somehow never quite finished.  At one time I started albums for each child and attempted to place copies of all the “good” pictures
therein.  The children loved to look at their books,  and this was a good activity, but it required constant monitoring to preserve the photos from the ravages of little fingers.  “Is this me?” they would ask as they pointed to each baby picture. These albums were quickly outgrown and became much too expensive and time-consuming to maintain. “I’ll finish these when I have more time,” I rationalized, “and give them their albums when they get married.”

Only our first six children had photo albums; the younger three only knew manila envelopes. That was the makeshift method to sort out and store the photos until we could get them properly placed.  More than once I tried arranging the contents of the envelopes in chronological order.  Some progress was made, but usually I had too much “help,” from those who wanted to just enjoy looking at the pictures. Once again the photos went back into envelopes and on the closet shelf.

I wonder if teachers know how much stress they cause by asking students to bring a baby picture of themselves for this or that activity. Finding the “right” picture always meant sorting through every picture in the envelope. There is also the problem of
protecting the photo from damage during its trip to school and, hopefully, back. Too often this results in a blank spot in the album where a picture once was. I don’t think teachers will change in the future, but if I had it to do again, I think I would have copies made of those babies to use as loaners.

I found school pictures to be the biggest challenge.  They come around with regularity, thanks to the person who created this tradition, and also multiply by
children and years.  Add to this the issues of hand-me-down clothes and similar genes, and a problem of identity arises. “Is this Brian, or Mark in Brian’s old
shirt?” More than once we had pictures of the same child in the same favorite outfit for two years running.  “Was this Ann’s fifth grade picture, or her fourth?”

One summer Jennifer and I tackled the school picture problem once and for all. We put up a folding banquet table in an upstairs bedroom and laid them out, children on the Y axis and years on X.  Careful scrutiny of 30 years of school pictures ultimately revealed correct years and children. That was a productive summer resulting in every photo being placed neatly in albums!

The cycle continues, however, and now in the autumn of my life I feel a pressing need to get my life in order–including the photos. They really need to be taken
out of the sticky albums and mounted on acid-free paper, under acid-free plastic sheets, and properly labeled. That’s my current project.  I began by purchasing several three-ring binders, a ream heavy, black, acid-free paper, and began
punching holes. That was my first mistake. Now we need a new paper punch. Hindsight would suggest one have a copy center do the holes. Next, I bought three
boxes of photo corners and began pasting.  It seemed I had barely begun when they were all gone. So, I went back to the store and bought ten more boxes. If
that doesn’t do it, I will have to put corners on my Christmas wish list.

Computer file folder labels were used for the labels.  I had labeled perhaps 8 or 10 pages of photos when Kristen said, “I didn’t know Howard’s middle name is
spelled R-e-i-d.”  “It’s not,” I replied. “Well, that is what it says here.” Sure enough there it was, typed with my own fingers!  “Oops! This is not right. This
is Jennifer in the cupboard, not me. Just remember, Jennifer in the cupboard, Kristen in the fireplace.”

I admonish you not to procrastinate properly organizing, labeling, and storing your precious family photographs, an essential part of your family history.  I plan to use my albums to help construct the journal I never kept. I think this year at Christmastime I will gather the children around the kitchen table, bring out
the albums, turn on the tape recorder, and sit back and listen.

The contents of the family photo album can have a profound effect on later generations and help answer the gnawing questions of “Who are we?” and “Where do we come from?”  I remember how much fun it was as a child to look at
my mother’s albums. They were stored in her cedar chest under lock and key, and carried with them a nostalgic cedar fragrance. I hope our children and
grandchildren will remember our family albums and the people whose likenesses they contain with similar fondness.


Judge Not

Sacrament Meeting talk by daughter Ileen, July 29, 2012

My passion, as most of you know, is family history. All eight of my great-grandparents joined the Church in its early days and made their way from England, Ireland, Australia, New England and Canada to Utah. Many of these great-grandparents performed temple ordinances for themselves and their ancestors. Consequently, there wasn’t much research left to be done, so I turned my efforts to collecting and publishing details about their lives. When I consider their lives, one thing stands out–they kept going in spite of the hardships, they were committed to the Gospel and answered the call of their leaders to move again and again to help settle the West. I have come to love and appreciate my ancestors. I feel that I know them personally and look forward to meeting them in the next life.

Occasionally, when we come across a “colorful” individual in our family history, we have a tendency to label them as “rascals” or the “black sheep of the family.” One thing I have learned from my family history efforts is to refrain from judging others.

President Monson talked about this in a recent General Conference address. You will remember that he told of a  sister judging a neighbor because her laundry hanging on the line was not clean. Her husband rose early one morning and washed the kitchen window. It wasn’t the laundry that was dirty, it was the kitchen window. President Monson quoted the Savior when he said, “Why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye.” Or, as he paraphrased, “Why beholdest thou what you think is dirty laundry at your neighbor’s house but considerest not the soiled window in your own house?”

Learning more about my father and the conditions under which he lived has helped me to understand him better. From my limited view as a child, it was tempting to pass judgment.

  • Most of the time he wore striped bib overalls, a faded-blue long-sleeved shirt and high-top shoes.
  • He was in bed by 9 in the evening and up with the chickens at 5 in the morning. He prepared his coffee and cooked our mush.
  • By 9 o’clock, after working on our 1 3/4-acre lot, he would go to his work as a carpenter.
  • After work he sat in his rocking chair and listened to Gabriel Heator give the news.
  • He rolled his own cigarettes which he smoked–always outside, never in the house–one in the morning and one in the evening.
  • Much to Mother’s dismay, he would not pray with the family nor attend church.
  • I knew my father to always be doing something.
  • I remember him regularly keeping our push lawn mower sharpened and in top working order.
  • He repaired the kitchen chairs and other household items almost before they needed it.
  • More than once, I saw him take his dollar pocket watch apart on the kitchen table and soak it in kerosene to clean it.
  • The clippers Mom used to cut his hair he frequently took apart and sharpened the blades. These were hand clippers, not the electric clippers we have today.

Now I would like to share with you some things I learned about my father through my family history efforts.

Dad’s parents were married in 1886, close to the time when there was much opposition to plural marriage. The manifesto was issued in November 1890, so Grandma, who was the second wife, and her first born, then about 9 months old, were sent to live with Grandpa’s uncle and used an assumed name. Later she moved back to Arizona where she lived in a one-room log cabin, about 14 feet x 12 feet. There was one bed for their parents with a trundle bed underneath. Beds for the rest of the seven children were made on the floor each night and the bedding put away again in the morning.

Dad attended school in the winter when he wasn’t needed on the ranch. Because he couldn’t go all the time, he was behind in the class and older than most of the other students.

He couldn’t find work that was steady, so he raised sheep and cattle on the farm. He tried to save his money so he could go to school, but when he found that his younger sisters and brothers needed shoes and the family had to have flour, he would turn over his earnings to his father and go back to herding sheep.

Even though he could not go to school, he always had a desire for learning. When he was 18 years of age he came back from the mountains and went to the Board of Trustees of the school and asked for special permission to attend school. He was granted this privilege and attended school for six months one winter so he could finish the 6th grade.

My oldest sister Hilga writes, “Reading was his favorite pastime. He read whenever he could, and all subjects available. He seldom read novels or cheap literature; he read on all the political issues and current events, history and church works. He was always on a quest for the knowledge he had been unable to attain as a child and a young man. He was eager to learn from anyone, and although he may not have agreed with your views, he always listened.”

He enlisted in the Army during World War I, but was sent home after three months because of a bad heart due to rheumatic fever as a child. Another sister, Helen, told me that she used to go to work with Dad after school and on Saturdays to help him. Growing up I was never aware of his heart condition. After having had some heart problems of my own, I can understand why he went to bed at 9 pm. He was tired!

As a child, his family was much too poor to pay for a doctor, and instead used home remedies. His maternal grandfather was an herb doctor. At that time tobacco and coffee were used for medicinal purposes. Dad’s morning coffee and twice-daily cigarettes were, I believe, the stimulant he needed to get through the day.

At his funeral a coworker said of him:

“Perhaps you think he didn’t come to church much to know whether he had a testimony of the Gospel or not, but I have been with him when the Church has been challenged, and I have just enjoyed being quiet and listening to what he had to say about it. He could hold his own, perhaps not from a scholarly standpoint. I didn’t find him arguing with anybody, but in no uncertain terms, he gave several people that I knew of the occasion to understand that as far as he was concerned the gospel of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was worth while and those that didn’t have it were lacking.”

“I have seen him put a floor down in a home I was building, and by the time he’d get through with all the scraps he didn’t waste anything. If you have ever put a hardwood floor down, you know how easy it is to go across the floor til you get to the other side. The last six inches there is no place to pry against the wood, you have a plastered wall. It’s hard to get the nails in, and in some homes next to the wall you’ll see cracks left because it was too hard to put it down right. Just little things like that, Brother Ray Judd took just as much interest in getting the last three boards in the floor just right as he did the first ones. I think that that is the place where you find out what kind of an individual we are. Long as everything is going easy, it’s not too much trouble to do it right, but when it comes to the tight places in life, some people give up.”

Once we become better acquainted with someone we have criticized and can see things from their point of view, our judgment is more forgiving. Through my efforts to learn about my ancestors I have come to appreciate my father more. He worked as hard as he could and was good to us kids, even when I put my foot through the kitchen ceiling while stepping around on the rafters upstairs as he was laying the flooring.

Again, as President Monson said, “There is really no way we can know the heart, intentions, or the circumstances of someone who might say or do something we find reason to criticize.”

Eliza R. Snow wrote the text of Hymn No. 273, “Truth Reflects upon Our Senses.” This hymn addresses the topic of judging others. I particularly like verses 2 and 5:

Jesus said, “Be meek and lowly,
For ’tis high to be a judge;
If I would be pure and holy,
I must love without a grudge.
It requires a constant labor
All his precepts to obey.
If I truly love my neighbor,
I am in the narrow way.

Charity and love are healing,
These will give the clearest sight;
When I saw my brother’s failing,
I was not exactly right.
Now I’ll take no further trouble;
Jesus’ love is all my theme;
Little motes are but a bubble
When I think upon the beam.

Medical Alert

by my mother, Lila Steele Judd

I am an old lady and I have lived in an old house practically alone for the past 25 years. Not only am I old, I am also a coward of the dark. I have shivered out a lot of frightening experiences here. It hasn’t bothered my children much until I fainted the other morning and my head knocked a hole in the bedroom wall. Of course, I have fainted before, but never have I left the evidence so plainly marked. This time they were sure I had fainted and it wasn’t another one of my pipe dreams.

My family was pretty worried for fear they would be accused of neglecting their duty, and they got together to decide what to do with me. One of my granddaughter’s husband’s grandmother had just purchased an expensive medical alert system for her, so my family thought that would be the thing to get for me. Here’s where the smooth-tongued salesman comes into the picture.

First, I must tell you about this old house of mine. I have a brother, almost as old as I am. He is a dreamer, but not one that just dreams, he does something about his dreams, much to the exasperation of his wife. Now he wanted to build some storm windows out of plastic, but no way would she let him put these storm windows on her house. I had decided to put storm windows on my windows, and there was his golden opportunity. He decided he would put them on my house. Well, the house was old, and I decided it wouldn’t hurt, so I told him to go ahead. He labored for weeks getting those big frames covered with plastic to fit into my long windows. They fit tight alright, and when it rained it sounded like the natives pounding out a battle cry. Time passed, and we had had very few storms heavy enough to cause any disturbance. I had almost forgotten about the noise.

Now we will go back to the salesman, and what a salesman. He could have sold refrigerators to the Eskimos, and my family were an easier mark than that. Before I knew it they had me fitted out for any occasion. I had a regular alarm system in my bedroom and a chain resembling a dog collar around my neck. The chain was plated with gold no less.

Saturday night the salesman called me and said that everything was set and wanted to know if he could come over and give the system its final try. Well, I was still up, so I thought what the heck, and I told him to come. He came over and brought his little boy for company. Then we went through all the ceremony and checked back with the operator to make sure that I knew what to do. The stage was set, and he left wishing me luck and hoped that I would never have to use it.

Saturday night passed without incident, and I felt so safe and secure that I even wore my gold chain to church, just in case someone should ask me about it. Sunday evening came, and Jeniel came down and visited with me for a while. We got into a discussion about religion, and after she left, I stayed up and read for quite a while. Never felt so safe in all my life.

As usual, I woke up about 3 o’clock to go to the bathroom. At this time I heard a car turn around on the road and the lights flashed through my window. Seconds after this there was a commotion outside, and it sounded like someone was tearing the plastic off my windows. No I thought, this can’t be happening to me so soon after getting the alert system. I stood rooted to the floor wondering what I should do. Then I thought of the System, and I mustered all my courage and the alarm box started to sound off. The sound was very loud, and I thought that will surely scare the intruders off, but the noise continued, so I mustered up enough courage to peek out the window.

To my surprise I found that it was only a storm, mostly hail, pounding on the plastic windows. My kids will kill me getting them out in such a storm, so I hurried and called them. Grant was up and almost dressed and Ira was having a time trying to find his shoes. When I told Gayle about it, she called to Ira and said, “Get back in bed Dear, it was a false alarm,” and then she started to laugh.

I’m a little worried about the System now. Why did it take so long for those two to get down here? I could have been carried away, and my whereabouts would have been just another mystery.

Bread Pudding

This is a good way to use up odd-shaped slices or bread that is dry and crumbly, but catch it before it molds!

4 cups stale white homemade bread
1/2 cup raisins
3 cups scalded milk
3 eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Scald raw, unpasteurized milk by heating it in a saucepan until a “skin” forms on top. Set aside to cool. Cut stale bread (two to three days old) into cubes.    Place bread cubes in a buttered baking pan. Sprinkle with raisins. Beat together eggs, sugar, hot milk, salt and vanilla. Pour over bread and let stand 10 minutes. Meanwhile, mix cinnamon and sugar together and sprinkle over the top.

Bake at 350 degrees F. for about 40 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.  Do not over-cook or pudding will separate and weep.

Cool.  Serve warm with a scoop of ice cream if you have it.  Refrigerate leftovers if there are any.

If you need to use fresh bread, cut it into cubes, spread it in a shallow baking pan and let it air dry overnight.