Written by herself.
To my grandchildren this history is lovingly dedicated.
I am about to embark upon the task of writing for you a history of my life. This shall not be easy; for, as I understand histories, they are supposed to be long and sentimental. For some reason, nothing to me has ever been such.
I have always loved attention; and, since I have never been good looking or talented in music, I found myself greatly lacking. I was not the only one in my family with such a plight. My sister Abbie was also blessed with a voice such as mine, but she had overcome that obstacle by taking what was then called elocution lessons. I remember sitting and listening to her recite long and dramatic poems which she had to render for Professor Maeser. I assure you, what she lacked in sweet music was smothered up with her expression. Many a tear of emotion I have shed while listening to her recite. I didn’t know what the meaning of the poem was, but it certainly sounded as if it was a real reason for tears. As soon as I was able to read, I began to memorize these poems; and, believe me, I gave them all the expressions of Abbie plus a few extra impressions of my own. When I felt the time was ripe, I began to recite these poems in public. To my horror the response from the audience was convulsions of laughter! From that time on everything I did was greeted with laughter. Seldom did I intend for it to be funny; however, it seemed I had gained my objective. I was noticed, and in a family of twelve children, that was something.
And so dear grandchildren, if during my funeral bits of this history should be read and the sniffling silence should be broken with an occasional titter or a downright chuckle, I shall be exceedingly happy.
I was born (needless to say) in the year of our Lord 1904, on September 12, in Panguitch, Utah. I was the eighth (8) child and the fourth (4) daughter to grace the home of Mahonri Moriancumer Jr. and Charlotte Moore LeFevre Steele.
I remember very little about my life in Panguitch. On one occasion Fay and Doyle were melting snow on the kitchen stove. Somehow Fay’s dress caught on fire and Doyle grabbed a bucket of water from the wash stand and let her have it full force.
Another thing I remember was playing with Chlora my cousin. Their house was on the same block as ours. We used to play in the dirt and water by the dividing fence. Chlora had to take a nap every day. I was scared to death of Aunt Zephyr, and when she would come out and scream to the top of hr voice, “Chloraaaaaa,” I’d duck under the fence and leave Chlora to her mother’s wrath, which didn’t seem to bother Chlora.
I have a vague remembrance of moving from Panguitch every summer to a ranch called East Fork located east and north of Bryce Canyon. Also I remember sitting on the pole fence at this ranch watching the older boys and girls milk cows.
My earliest recollection is that of the birth of my baby brother Arthello Mahonri September 8, 1908. He is four years, almost to the day, my junior. Strange as it may seem, there had been no other children to bridge the gap between us. For four long years I had been the baby; and in a family of nine, THAT WAS SOMETHING.
The night Art was born the whole family had gone over to Grandma Steele’s place to sleep. We awakened next morning to a snow-covered world and to the news that I had been dethroned. I now had a baby brother. Excited as I was about the new baby, I couldn’t help but feel deflated. The props had been knocked out from under me and my spirits declined to rock bottom.
Four days later things took a turn for the better. It was my fourth birthday. To celebrate the occasion Winifred Eldridge, a young girl that lived with her father in part of our house, decided to glorify the occasion by making fudge candy for me. The candy didn’t set up, and we had to eat it with a spoon. I remember hanging around all day waiting for her to make the candy; and at the end of the day I ventured to ask when she was going to make it, not knowing that the supposed frosting I had eaten was it.
Some time during my fourth year we moved to a ranch we called the Mitchell Ranch. It was located about halfway between Junction and Circleville, Utah. It was here that life really began to pick up for me. No longer being a baby I was given odd chores to do. My first chore was to mind the calf pen gate. It was the custom of the ranchers at that time to round up all the cows that had had calves that spring and put them in a corral and milk them twice a day for the duration of the summer. Of course, the development of the calves was the first consideration; therefore they had priority over the kids in the milk market. Sometimes there would be as many as fifty cows we were attempting to milk night and morning, which of course entailed fifty calves to be run. One of the milkers would call out, “Turn me out a calf,” and someone would open up the gate to the hungry calf pen and let out one calf–if they were lucky. When the cow had begun to let her milk down, the milker would holler, “Take this calf.” Then Doyle or one of the older kids would take a big stick and wallop the calf on the jaw until it stopped sucking; then he’d grab it by the tail and whip it over and under until he got it back to my calf pen, and I’d open the gate and let it in.
I remember one night being awakened from my sleep and finding myself riding in a wagon along with all the other precious souls of the family–namely all the cats, dogs, chickens, etc. It seems that a flood had come down the creek in the night threatening us. Mother was visiting with Grandmother LeFevre in Panguitch; so Fern, my oldest sister, and Father took over and hauled us all up to the cheese factory on the hill. We spread our blankets on the factory floor and spent the night there. It wouldn’t be exactly honest to say that we slept there.
One of the favorite pastimes on the Mitchell Ranch was to gather bull berries. In order to get to the river where the berries grew, we had to cross a salt grass pasture which necessitated the wearing of shoes. Finding my shoes rather clouded the trip, because I never wore shoes in the summer time, and I seldom knew where they were. To find my shoes was one thing, and to get them on was another, so I went without. Even now when I think of bull berries my feet hurt.
It was while we lived at the Mitchell Ranch that my sister Irene was born February 26, 1910.
From the Mitchell Ranch we moved to Junction, Utah. It was there that I spent my first year of school. I don’t remember anything that I learned that year except that I was left-handed. It was as much of an education for the rest of the family as it was for me. Having so many children in the family, no one had noticed I was left-handed until the teacher sent home a note to ask Mother which hand she would prefer I use.
I don’t think anything ever fascinated me quite like the bow of ribbon my teacher wore on the back of her head. I think I spent most of my time in school trying to figure out how she got so many billowy fluffs in one gorgeous bow.
I remember one afternoon when I came home from school, I found the house deserted. I began to feel sorry for myself. I went out to the south side of the house, and there in the golden autumn sunshine I began to review my life. I remembered my mother once telling me that I had a baby brother that had died at birth, so being in a real sad mood, I began to cry. One of Abbie’s friends came along the sidewalk and heard me crying, so she came in and asked me what was the matter; so I told her my baby brother was dead. She mistook it to be Art; so she rushed out to spread the word to the town folks. By the time Mother and the rest of the family got home, the entire town was there to offer words of sympathy. Needless to say, I got a liberal education from that episode.
Wanda was born while we lived in Junction on April 2, 1911.
From Junction we moved to Circleville. It was here that we lived by the Day family. The family seemed quite odd, and when we really became acquainted with them, we found that most of the family was mentally retarded. The oldest girl, whose name was Eva, seemed to be exceptionally bright. Fay and I played with her. We loved to go to the Day home to play, namely because we could do as we pleased. One day we stayed over there so long that Harold brought our lunch and night gowns over and told us we had to live there. Fay was sure mad. That just about stopped our trips over to the Day house.
We spent about a year in Circleville, and then Father felt that he should send Abbie and Fern to high school. So we moved to Beaver where the Murdock Academy was located. The girls were moved to Beaver first, and about a month later the rest of the family was moved. The school was located on an old fort site. In fact, the houses we lived in were the houses the pioneers had lived in. They were made of soft brick and had shutters on the windows through which the pioneers had shot Indians in attack. It was fun getting acquainted with the few kids that were there. I played a lot with Professor Maeser’s daughter.
During the winter, the whole family had the measles. I was the first to have them. Abbie had the measles plus an attack of appendicitis. Sick as I was, I couldn’t attract as much attention as she did.
On February 13, 1913, the winter we lived in Beaver, my baby sister was born. We named her Itha for a girl that lived in the same house that we did.
As soon as school was out the spring of 1913, Father announced that were moving to Delta. It was supposed to be the land of promise. It had only been settled five years, and we were sure to get rich there. Since Mother had so many little children, it was decided that she should take the train from Minersville to Delta, and the rest of us would go on the wagon. Father hired two fellows to drive the teams for us. We had two wagons loaded to the top with all our furniture. There was a large mirror which Mother prized very much that was tied on the back of the lead wagon. At one time during the trip, Harold got to fooling around and drove the back wagon so close to the lead wagon that the tongue of the wagon went right through the mirror. We always blamed all of our bad luck on that accident for the next seven years. We took our milk cows with us to Delta; Harold and Doyle drove them all the way. The trip to Delta took us three days and nights. Fay and I had a lot of fun playing with our paper dolls on the back of the wagon. When things got tiresome, we would get out and tag along behind the wagons or chase the rabbits out in the sagebrush.
We were greatly disappointed in Delta since it didn’t have any trees. The wind blew all day, and the mosquitoes buzzed all night. The home in Delta was a small, two-roomed house with an addition of what we called a black house added to the front of it. This black house was made of lumber stood up on its end for the walls and the same kind of lumber bent over the top for a roof; and then it was covered with tar paper outside and with pink and blue building paper on the inside. I don’t think I have ever seen anything that could get so hot in the summer or so cold in the winter as those black houses did. We lived in this house for about a year.
I spent my third year of school in Delta. Billie Gardner was my school teacher, or at least he was the principal. I was scared to death of him. Whenever he came into our room, I couldn’t even hold the chalk in my hand, let alone do arithmetic. When he would roar at me to get busy and do the problems he had assigned, I would just stand there. Chlora would always come to my defense and say, “She can’t help it because she’s left-handed.” Then Billie would say, “What’s that got to do with her doing arithmetic?”
In July of that year I was baptized by my cousin Arthur Bunker in the irrigation canal. I had so much hair I couldn’t get it dry in time to go to church to be confirmed, so I had to go with it wet.
During the winter while we lived in Delta, Mother became very ill. She had had milk leg when Wanda was born and hadn’t quite gotten over it. She would have large abscesses break out on her legs, but this time they got infection in them. It looked for a while like she was going to die. At least I knew the situation was bad, because Harold sat in the kitchen and cried. Father was real worried and tried hard to get a doctor. Finally he found one that lived in Woodrow about fifteen miles from there. The doctor was a lady. She came to our place and worked with Mother until she finally saved her life. This was a direct answer to our prayers.
As soon as school was out in the spring, we moved out to the little community of Sutherland. Here there was a school house which also served as a church house and a country store that carried everything from soup to nuts.
We lived in another one of those black houses; it set at the foot of a large hill of drift sand. The wind blew so much in that country that one day the sand hill would be on one side of the house and the next day it would all be on the other–that is, all that didn’t lodge in our food and beds as it passed over. I think we must have eaten quite a bit of it, because the hill got smaller as the years went by.
In about five years we slightly out grew the little black house, so we built a lovely big house with five rooms and a clothes closet which was to serve for a bath. Fay and I were real happy, because now we had a room of our own–that is if Abbie wasn’t there. Most of the time she lived in Delta with Grandma. My sister Fern had married the year we lived in Delta, so that left Fay and I the oldest girls at home. Our room was the outlet of all our feelings. We decorated it with pictures of movie queens, etc.; we wore the furniture out moving it around from place to place. The mattress on our bed was a straw tick which we had to empty and fill with new stray every time the wheat was threshed. We had one prized piece of furniture which was a dresser with a real mirror that could be tipped so you could see your feet and the hem of your dress. We saved our money that we got for thinning beets and bought the dresser from Harold and his wife when they stopped keeping house when he went to war in 1918.
I loved that dear old house on the farm. It was here I experienced many joys and heartaches. While we lived there my brother Harold and sister Abbie were married. During the time I lived there, my older brother Lindsay died with the flu. I remember some mighty miserable days spent there when I had the flu myself. It was from this house my brothers Harold and Doyle left to serve their country. Abbie’s first baby was born there. It was while we lived in this house that my brother Harold was killed in an accident on the farm after his return from the service of his country. It was from this house we walked one and three-fourths miles to school. At this time in life all there is left of the dear old house is “just a memory.”
I finished my elementary education in Sutherland. I remember the names of a few of my teachers: Mr. Barney, Mr. Holbrook, Mrs. Keeler, Mr. Pratt and Miss Cropper. I did a lot of reading on the school programs, especially the PTA programs. I took part in school plays, and at one time I sang in a trio. Almost every summer the ward would put on a play, and I managed to get a part in all of them. I guess I should mention that it took everyone in the ward to put on a play.
In the summer of the year I graduated from the eighth grade, I went to Delta to live with my grandparents. Grandma Steele was a sickly person and always had to have someone to help her. Besides that, she had Uncle Parley’s son living with her; his name was Donald. I had quite a sizeable family to take care of. I didn’t have any intentions of going to school past the eighth grade; but since Delta boasted two years of high school, come time for school to start, Grandma decided I could go to school and keep house too. Uncle John’s family lived in the same block that Grandma did, and I renewed my acquaintance with Chlora, and the two of us went to school. We had always been the best of friends, so we hit it off real good.
I really enjoyed my school year. Chlora and I were in all the plays and on all the programs. What she couldn’t think of to do I could. We were often referred to as the “Steele kids,” and to this day, some of my friends still think we were sisters. I finished the first year of high school and was ready to embark on my second when Grandma took seriously ill. Mother and Father felt that it was too much for me to take care of Grandma and go to school, so it was decided that Fay and I should live together and both of us go to school.
Grandpa, Father and Uncle John owned a store, and above the store was a rooming house. Fay and I lived in one of these rooms. We had quite a time to make a go of it. We didn’t have any money to spend, and the folks had none to give us, so I got a job working for Josie Walker on Saturdays. I would do all of Josie’s washing and ironing and clean up her house each Saturday for $1.25. This money kept us going in pin money for the week. Fay would gather up the washing for us and take it out to the ranch and do it and bake the bread. That is how she spent her Saturdays.
It wasn’t long before all the kids at the ranch got the scarlet fever. They were all quarantined, so they could neither bring us any food, and we couldn’t go home to get any. Fay decided she had had it and went back home to stay. But before this happened, I had the scarlet fever, and except for the awful sore throat (which Fay declared I was putting on), I had a very light case. I went to school all the while I had it.
In the mean time Grandmother died. This left Grandpa and Donald alone, so Melba, my cousin, went to stay with them. Melba was Chlora’s older sister. When Fay decided she didn’t want to go to school, it looked as if I would have to go back out to the farm and stay also. I felt very bad about this, so I went to Melba and told her my plight. Melba was getting very tired of staying at Grandpa’s, so she decided to ask Grandpa if I couldn’t come and take her place there. Grandpa finally consented, and I moved in. I stayed there all that winter and the next summer. I didn’t dare go home for fear Grandpa wouldn’t let me come back again the next fall.
In the middle of my junior year I had the misfortune of displeasing Grandpa. He didn’t like to leave the door unlocked when I went to the school parties, etc., so he consented to let me stay with Chlora over night on these occasions. One Sunday morning, after we had been out rather late the night before, I over slept and was late to get Grandpa’s breakfast. When I finally did get over to his house he had had his breakfast and was on his way to Sunday School. He gave me a glassy stare and told me if I was staying there for his benefit, I could just leave. I told Donald what Grandpa had said, and that it looked like there was nothing else for me do. He begged me to stay, but I felt that I couldn’t because I knew Grandpa was right. As I look back now, I wonder how the poor old fellow ever stood what he did. I cleaned the house, did the dishes, and prepared Grandpa’s dinner for him; then I packed all my belongings in a bushel basket and took them down in the lot and hid them in Grandpa’s shop. As soon as I saw Grandpa coming home from church I bid Donald goodbye and left.
I went over to the store where Father was working on his books and told him my story. He said, “Well, I think you had better go out the farm and stay where you belong.” This made me mad, and I said, “Hon Steele, I am not going out the farm and stay. You need someone to cook for you, and you can just fix a place for me upstairs, and I’ll keep house for you!” Well, when I put it that strongly, he said, “Let’s go out to the farm and spend the day, and we’ll see what we can do in the morning.” Come morning we had our plans all made, and by nightfall we were comfortable in two light housekeeping rooms above the store.
From that time on I began to live. I had to do the chamber maid work for the hotel, but I shared handsomely in the profits. When Father was there to rent the rooms out, he took the money from them. But it so happened he liked to go mining on weekends, and when he wasn’t there I got the loot. Oh, once in a while I had to loan him a little money and vice versa.
Before school started the next fall, Father decided to move Mother and all the kids in town off the farm. This was really the year for me. Fay, Art and I were all in high school. Mother shouldered all the responsibilities, and I really lived it up. I was in all the school and church plays; took in all the ball games and went to all the dances. Chlora had quit school her second year and gone to Salt Lake to work, so I had the rest of my high school pretty much to myself. I had plenty of friends both girls and boys, but no special ones. None that you could call my “feller.” I danced considerably with Henry Forester, Andy Schlappy, Ray Boycack, Bill Scott, and of course the Skidmore boys. My girl friends were Mable Foot, Fontella Sampson, Ellimor Lyman, Reva Hutchings, Margie Whicker, Alice Rasmussen, Grace Bunker, Ellen Stephenson, Ila Rawlingson, Francis Gronning and of course many more which I can’t recall at the moment.
In the spring of 1924 I graduated, and I think Father was as proud as anyone when I did. Fay was a big help to me that year. She helped me get my graduation dress by talking Mother out of the money. It seems she held the purse strings that year since we had had a big seed crop. So with Fay’s help I managed.
After graduation I worked in the store called The Hub for my father, and it was while working there that I had my offer of my first real job. Of course, during my high school days I had held many jobs, tested cream, clerked, made beds and did all kinds of house work. Delta farmers raised a lot of alfalfa seed during those days, and several big companies moved into Delta just for the buying season. My Uncle Alf Bunker knew one of the big bugs of the Western Seed Marketing Company. His name was Mr. Carl G. Bowden. One day he came to see Uncle Alf and told him he was looking for a girl to train to analyze seed. Uncle Alf told him that he knew just the girl for them, and he brought him over and introduced him to me. He offered me $75 per month, and it didn’t take him long to hire me. I told him I would go, and within a few hours I found myself on the way to Salt Lake with two cigar-smoking executives of the Western Seed Marketing Company.
This was my first trip to the big city. I stayed the first two days with my cousin Naomi Crosby Bliss, and after that she found me a place to stay with my father’s Aunt May Cox. She was a half sister to my Grandmother Steel. I enjoyed my stay with Aunt May. She was kindness itself, and she had a whole herd of kids about my age. It didn’t take me long to get acquainted with Salt Lake then.
I stayed in Salt Lake for two weeks and went to work every day. Their office was on the thirteenth story of the Walker Brothers’ Bank Building. Everyone at the office was so nice to me. I learned to analyze seed and went back home and worked for the Company for two years. I quit when I got married.
It was while I was working at the Store in between seed jobs that I met a handsome bachelor; his name was Ray Judd from Fredonia, Arizona. He had come to town with my brother-in-law Ed Henrie. Ed was in the real estate business, and he had brought Ray to Delta to sell him a farm. It seemed as though Ed and Ray had lived neighbors in the town of Fredonia when they were kids, so Ed took Ray to his house to stay with them.
On Sunday Artie Henrie, Ed’s niece, and I were walking home from Sunday School. We had decided to go to Artie’s place, and we had to pass Ed’s and Fern’s place to get there. We could smell Fern’s dinner cooking, so we decided to go in and see if she would invite us to eat. We were surprised to find she had company, but since we figured he was just a married man, and they invited us to stay for dinner, we accepted. Ed got to kidding us about sitting by Mr. Judd. I said I would sit by him and Artie said she would sit by him. We finally wound up drawing cuts. I won him fair and square. We sure did feel silly when we found out that he was a single man.
Ed was trying hard to get him married off, so he could sell him a farm. He kept suggesting different old maids in town, but he just couldn’t interest him. Finally he told Ed he kinda had his eye on me. But Ed told him he figured I was spoken for. So he told Ed in that case he didn’t need to look any farther. Well, Ed sure did need to sell a farm, so he and Fern both began to work on me. To make a long story short, I might state, Ed sold his farm.
Ray and I were married about a year later on the 26th of May, 1926 in the Manti Temple. We moved out to the farm Ed had sold Ray. It was a perfect place for a honeymoon. There wasn’t a neighbor within a half mile. Ray would make fun of my cooking, and I’d get mad and decide to leave him, but before I finished walking the five miles to Delta, Ray would get in his little Ford and overtake me. By that time I was too tired to be mad, so I’d get in with him and away we’d go back to the farm.
Our first child Hilga was born March 25, 1927 in Delta. She was a real pretty baby as long as she had her bonnet on–she didn’t have any hair. But we loved her just the same. We had a terrible time learning how to raise kids. I thought at times I’d never be able to live through it. Hilga wanted to sleep all day and cry all night. But Ray was just the opposite. He wanted to sleep all night, so I didn’t get much help from him.
On April the 26th, 1928 Ira came along, and by that time I was calloused, and I didn’t notice him so much. He seemed to fit just like an old shoe. We had moved to another house in Sutherland by that time. We had found that we had paid too much for the farm and decided to move to a cheaper one. By the time Ira was nine months old, Ray vowed he wouldn’t stay in Delta country any longer. I wouldn’t go to Fredonia with him, so we compromised and moved to Provo. We had five hundred dollars saved up, and we tried to make a down payment on a farm with that. We finally found a man that would sell us a farm for that as a down payment. His name was Mr. Ratcliff. He was an old gentleman in his late eighties. He took quite a liking to Ray and Ray to him, and even though we didn’t have much money he decided to take a chance on us. By the way, he didn’t have much of a farm either.
The best feature about the farm was the flowing well just outside of the door. We had a few milk cows that weren’t too good, but we managed to trade around and within a few years we had us a good herd of cows.
Helen was born on January 16th, 1930, and it was about the time the depression started in earnest. We sold milk in the bottle and delivered it all over town. Some of it we got the money for, and some we traded for doctor bills, dentist bills, permanents, clothing, hay, grain or what have you. Those were trying years, but everyone was in the same boat, so it really didn’t matter.
Jeniel was born on February 28, 1931. By this time we had so many kids that I didn’t get to go anywhere. Ray was busy delivering milk, and I would sometimes go for weeks without seeing anyone except the family. I had a good neighbor, but she lived through the field from me, and in the winter time it was too muddy to get to her place.
When Jeniel was about two years old I decided I had to take a stand or die, so I announced I was going to go to church, which I did–me and all the kids. At times when Ray would forget to come home in time for us to use the car, we would walk. Finally, after he could see he couldn’t stop me, he began to arrange his schedule so the car was available for us to use.
On January 16, 1935 Ileen came to visit us. In fact, she liked us so well she decided to stay. After she got to be about a year old, I started to work in the Primary. I was the play leader for five years. I made a lot of wonderful friends in the Lake View Ward; in fact, when we left Lake View, we felt that we would never find another ward quite like it.
When the War descended upon us in 1942, everyone was restless, including the Judd family. In the mean time Ray had had to sell the cows as his health was filing him, and we were afraid he would never be able to work again. We decided to buy a place that we could pay for no matter what kind of place it was. Mr. Ratcliff told us we could have the cows, or what we got out of them, since we had paid enough into the place to pay for them. So with the three thousand dollars we received for the sale of the cows, we started out to find a place that would cost just that and no more. It wasn’t easy I assure you.
After many days of searching and many sleepless nights, we exchanged three thousand dollars for the deed to the home and property which included one-fourth of the sixth block north in Pleasant Grove, Utah. The home was a nice brick two-storied house. There was just one catch to it. It had only the bottom floor finished. This gave us only three rooms and a bath for a family of seven.
We thoroughly enjoyed the bathroom. It didn’t have a lock on it; so we would knock on the door and count to ten; and if no one screamed, we would decide the coast was clear and go in. We made a bedroom out of the living room, which was just as well we did, since we had no furniture for it anyway. To make matters more congested, we had a new addition to our family in March of that year. Charlotte was born March 19, 1943. She was very small, and as her Dad stated, looked as if she was just an after thought. We loved her very much, and if I do say so, she was one of the best tended babies in town. Anyone wanting to dodge some small task could always take the baby for a walk.
Along with the prosperity of the War years, the Judd family began to prosper. Anyone that had any ambition could get a job. Even our son Ira managed to be hired and fired by every farmer in Pleasant Grove. The girls all picked berries and packed fruit which netted them a considerable amount of money. Commodities were scarce, so money was earned but couldn’t be spent, and it was quite easy for the kids to save their money. They paid their own tuition for school, bought their books, and also their own clothes.
Ray began to take a new lease on life and was able to do a little carpenter work on the side. We had one car, and I was the chauffeur. I was up all hours of the night taking kids to work and bringing them home. I was also the chief cook and dishwasher, laundry lady, scrub woman and baby tender. I managed to raise a few flowers and a garden and also teach a class in Relief Society while I was resting.
Our place was a center of attraction for all the kids in the neighborhood. I used to tell Ira he was the most popular boy in town because he had so many sisters. Of course the girls were rather popular too, they had a handsome brother.
In 1945 Hilga graduated from the Pleasant Grove High School, and joined the Cadet Nurses.
In 1946 Ira graduated from the Pleasant Grove High School, and in the fall of that year joined the Army for 18 months.
In 1948 Helen graduated from Pleasant Grove High School.
Hilga graduated from the LDS Nurses’ School, and Ira returned from Japan where he had been for fourteen months. Helen was attendant to the Strawberry Day Queen that year. I had managed to find a job working for a grocer in the town of Pleasant Grove. Ileen kept house and tended Charlotte. Helen worked at the Wasatch Inn and Jeniel worked for the Kozy Korner Cafe. Hilga went to work in the hospital in cedar City. So you can see that we were all pretty busy.
Helen had injured her back while she was in grade school, and in the winter of 1949 she had to undergo an operation on her back. The operation was called a spinal fusion. This was a long and tedious ordeal. She spent ten days in the LDS Hospital and then had to spend three months in bed here at home. We got her an old hospital bed and her dad put a “monkey bar” on it so she could get help if she had to have it, and left Charlotte to take care of her. I gave her a bath before I left for work and had an hour off at noon to come home and get her some dinner. Time mendeth all things, likewise it mended Helen’s back. We were real happy to have her up and around again.
In the spring of 1949 Jeniel graduated from the Pleasant Grove High School. She already had her eye on a handsome missionary, and so was contented to settle herself down to a job in town while she waited for his return.
Hilga was married to Chester (Chuck) Martin Frier on the 28th of June 1949. I didn’t have much money, but I did the best I could, and had open house for them. It had been some time since Hilga had been home, and it was a good opportunity for her to renew her acquaintance here in town. Hilga had been working at the LDS Hospital since she graduated, except for a few months spent at the hospital in Cedar City. She and Chuck moved into a furnished apartment in Salt Lake, and Hilga continued to work for about two years.
In 1950 Helen had recovered from her operation, and we endeavored to send her to the Henager Business College. It was here she met her husband Melvin (Red) L. Nielsen. The night she met him he took her for a ride on his motorcycle. They met with an accident which resulted in a broken ankle for Helen. Of course, he felt that he should go see her while she was in the hospital, which he did. The romance bloomed, and on October 21, 1950 they were secretly married and didn’t reveal it to us until later on the next spring. By that time I had given a reception for Jeniel and didn’t have any money, so I just had to buy her a wedding present and let it go at that.
In October of 1950 Jeniel’s missionary, Grant K. Fugal had returned, and they were soon making plans to get married. Grant knew he would be called into the service of his country soon, so they set the date for the 4th of January, 1951. They were married in the LDS Temple in Salt Lake, and we had open house for them that night. Even though Grant had his call to the Army, he didn’t leave for three months after.
In October, 1951 Ira was married to Dorothy Gayle Kirk, prior to his departure for the Western States Mission. No one was informed about the marriage, but I remember stating to Ray after seeing Ira off on the train for his mission, “If those two kids aren’t married, I’ll eat my hat.”
Ileen had an operation on her leg shortly after she graduated from high school in 1953, and while she was convalescing she attended Henager Business College. After she was out of school, she worked for a finance company in Salt Lake City. Later she worked as a secretary at the Dugway Proving Grounds. She attended college at the BYU in Provo, and it was here that she met and married Freeman K. Johnson. They left the next day after their marriage for St. Paul, Minnesota where Freeman attended the University of Minnesota.
Ray’s health failed him again in 1950, and from that time on he was unable to do much work. While I worked at a grocery store, we soon found that the proceeds from that job were not enough to keep the family going, so I hustled around and found employment at the Utah State Training School. This paid a much better wage, and we were able, with the help of the Lord, to get along. I have always paid my tithing and have taught my children to do likewise. Some of them continue the practice, and some of them don’t.
Since starting to work at the Training School, I have undergone numerous operations. For a while it looked as if there would be no end. But to “every cloud there is a silver lining.” Today I am in good health and working every day.
Ray’s heart finally gave way, and on the 23rd of December, 1957 he died suddenly while working on a remodeling job at the Pleasant Grove Third Ward church house. We were privileged to have the entire family present at his funeral, which would have been his request, I am sure, if he had made one.
During my life I have worked in various church organizations. I taught Sunday School for about seven years, worked in the Primary as play leader for five years, taught Relief Society for two years, was president of the YWMIA for three years and taught the Special Interest Class in MIA for two years. I have also served as Drama Director of the Third Ward and chairman of the ward Educational Committee. I served as President, Vice President and Treasurer of Local 810 AFOSC&ME Union.
Five years have lapsed since Ray’s passing. Charlotte and I have lived here alone until last fall when Charlotte decided it was time to spread her wings, and she moved to Provo to attend the Vocational School. Since Ray died I have been promoted from an attendant at the Training School to a supervisor and have worked in that capacity for three years.
March 10, 1963 finds me with all of my children married with the exceptions of Charlotte, and she is working over time to find her a man. I have 22 grandchildren, a tom cat and a parakeet, an empty cookie jar and a heavy heart. From here on out I think some of my children may be more able than I to complete this history.
In 1963 I felt that my life was well over with and didn’t think I would have to finish this history. But in 1977 I feel very much alive and am afraid I will be going strong for at least another fifty years. Most of my older friends are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary, and while it has been fifty years since I was married, I still didn’t get a celebration. Perhaps I’ll get my picture in the paper when I celebrate my 80th birthday. In case I do, I have had a picture taken when I was 65, and have had one finished up in black and white, so when they put it in the paper it still won’t look like my high school graduation picture, and I won’t look as horrible as I think I am going to look at 80.
Now to continue on with my story. I worked as a supervisor at the Training School until 15 September 1969. At that time I was 65, and I was forced to retire. However, I left a vacancy there that couldn’t be filled with a full-time employee. It was a part-time job as Officer of the Day. I asked for the job, and they were glad to give it to me. I worked Saturday, Sunday and holidays. My pay was reduced considerably, but that didn’t make any difference to me. I had time on my hands and wanted to keep up with the happenings out to the School. Sometimes things got pretty exciting out there, and I needed that to keep me from going stale.
In the mean time, Charlotte was called on a mission to the North Central States, and spent most of her time in Canada. I didn’t know how I was going to send her on a mission, as it took all I made for the two of us to live. But I decided to try, and Bishop Ringger told me that if I couldn’t make it to let him know, he was sure the ward would help me. I told this to the kids, and Grand told Jeniel, “Don’t you dare let your mother go to the Bishop for help.” All the kids promised to help me. It wasn’t long before I got a raise in wages, and it seemed that things just unraveled as it should. The family was good to help me with work that I would otherwise have to pay for, and somehow the money just flowed in, so much so, that I decided to buy me a car with the extra money after she got back.
When Charlotte came home she worked for Dr. Rupper in Provo as a Dental Assistant until she married George K. Small. He was serving in the Army Reserve and had been called to serve a year in Vietnam. They were pretty upset by this, as George wasn’t ready to go to the temple. I advised them to have a civil marriage and to go to the temple later. This way she could go to Fort Leonardwood in Missouri and live with him until he left for Vietnam.
After George was settled there he sent for Charlotte to come and bring his car, which was the apple of his eye. I wouldn’t let her drive there alone, so I took some time off and went with her. The drive was pleasant, and we didn’t have any trouble on the way.
Charlotte came home and wanted to have an apartment of her own, which I thought was a good idea, since George was bound that they would live with his mother. This way, I told her, George would know he wasn’t going back to Mother, and his mother would be reconciled to the fact that her baby boy was not coming back home to live. When George got back he still insisted he wanted to live with Mother, and Charlotte wouldn’t, so they separated.
On June 30, 1972, Charlotte was married to Harold Lee Tracy. He is a rancher in Naf, Idaho. They are doing real well and they are the parents of three little girls ranging from four years to six months.
I was called to be a receptionist in the Salt Lake Temple starting on the 24th of September 1969. Between this work and the job at the Training School, I was kept pretty busy. In fact, with one day a week at Relief Society, I was considered to have a full-time job. The work at the Training School was very pleasant. I was left to keep myself busy on Sundays, and since all the kids were in Church, I decided that was the place for me. I attended Sunday School and Church and helped to keep the kids in line. One little boy, every time I had to correct him would say, “WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO RETIRE?”
I enjoyed my work at the Temple very much, except that there wasn’t enough for me to do as a receptionist. I caused so much disturbance as a receptionist that by 11 February 1970 I was set apart as an ordinance worker by Selvey J. Boyer and worked in that capacity until I was released 17 December 1971. Since the Provo Temple was soon to open, they wanted us to work there.
Since I had already been an ordinance worker, when the Provo Temple started, I was asked to help the new temple workers to learn their lines. I was the one to help set up the brides’ program, which is carried on today about like I had it. I was set apart for the Provo Temple on 4 November 1971. I worked in the Provo Temple for two and one-half years.
On September 26, 1974, we met with an accident on our way to work. I remember very vividly. We had stopped to cross University Avenue and were having a real time trying to find an opening in the traffic. Jean Fugal was driving and Sister Newman, my sister Irene and I were in the back seat. Evelyn Robbins and Alice Devereaux were in the front seat with Jean. We had waited for some time before Jean could find a break in the traffic. The car in front of us made a break for it giving a left hand signal to turn. When we were in the third lane, the driver of the first car changed her mind and pulled back in front of us. I could see a car coming about a block away, and it showed no signs of stopping. As it got closer to us I whispered to the sisters sitting with me, “We’re going to get it, we can’t help it.” At that moment the car struck us, and I knew no more until they were loading me and Irene in the ambulance. I lay for a while listening to the others groan, then I think to myself, “Somebody must be hurt real bad. I wonder if I dare move.” I moved my left hand and gave a silent prayer of thanks. I could move it. I didn’t have time for anything else, I was being flooded with questions such as who to call, what doctor I wanted; and when I said, “Dr. Thompson,” they said I couldn’t have him and that I would have to have a bone specialist. I told them I didn’t know a bone specialist and they would have to do the best they could for me.
We were rushed to the Utah Valley Hospital, and I had lapses of memory on the trip there. We were ushered into the emergency room, and I don’t remember much from there on. At one time when I came to, Gayle was taking off my skirt, and I felt she was going to pull me in two. Gayle whispered to me that Sister Newman had died. At this moment President Nielsen from the Temple came, and Gayle asked Jean and Brother Nielsen to administer to me. I remember listening to the prayer and I was promised I would be healed completely.
At this point I blacked out, and I don’t remember anything from then on until about three weeks later. I opened my eyes to see President and Sister Clark standing there looking at me. I talked to them and seemed to recognize them. After this they took all the tubes away from me and stopped the oxygen. My room looked like a floral shop. People had been so kind and brought me so many flowers.
Brother Robbins brought Evelyn in to bid me goodbye; they were taking her home. I thought I had been there three days and made the remark that Evelyn must not have been hurt very bad if she could go home so soon.
From that day on I began to make plans. I knew it took six weeks for bones to heal, and I had been there three weeks, surely I could stand it three more weeks. Everyone at the Hospital was so kind to me. All the kids had been there, and I was quite happy. Charlotte came from Idaho, and Ileen from Glyndon, Minnesota. Ira took his vacation, and they all took turns staying with me day and night. Hilga jumped in from the first and acted as a special nurse. She came very three days after I began to get better and gave me my bath and scratched my back until I was able to give myself a bath. When my back began to heal, I itched until I thought I would go crazy. I took so many pills it made me sick to my stomach, and I would vomit every time I saw a food tray coming.
At the end of six weeks I was no nearer out of bed than I was at three. Dr. Bromely came in one day and said he had made arrangements to put me in a rest home. This was the last straw, I vowed I would not go to a Rest Home!!! Grant was there at the time, and he said he wouldn’t let me go to a rest home. So they held a consultation, then they came back and asked if I could go to the American Fork Hospital. It seems they had extended care for patients there. I consented to this, and Jeniel came over and rode with me to the American Fork Hospital. When I left Utah Valley Hospital, I cried, and all the nurses cried; it seemed so much like home to me.
When I got to American Fork Hospital, they were waiting for me. I had been there so many times before that it was a regular homecoming for me. Then started the long wait for recovery, which no one thought I would recover completely. However, they didn’t tell me that, so I thought I had to do it. One day Dr. Bromely told me I could turn over and lay on my stomach, if I could get there. I called a couple of my favorite nurses and told them to help me. They tugged, and they pulled, and they finally rolled me over onto my stomach. No one will ever know how happy I was. Would you believe it, I cried. Partly because I hurt so bad, and partly because I was so happy. We kept this procedure up until I finally could turn myself over.
This was a start, but I couldn’t bend my legs. The therapist took me down and put me in a whirlpool bath, and I got to where I could bend them a little. About three days of this, and I got an awful pain in my right side. I told the doctor about it, and he just brushed it off. So when they came to take my temperature, I read the thermometer and found that I was running a temperature. Next time the doctor came in, I told him I was running a temp. He asked me how I knew, and I told him I was smart enough to read a thermometer. So he told me that I either had Pneumonia or a clot of blood on my lungs. They didn’t have the equipment at the hospital to x-ray my lungs, so they put me in an ambulance and sent me to Provo. Jeniel went with me. It turned out to be pneumonia, and as it is said, they knew how to cure pneumonia, and they did.
Soon the therapist started to work on my legs. He would bend them so far and ask me if they hurt, and when it started to hurt he would quit. Finally one day he asked me if it hurt, and I said, “Yes it does, but go ahead and bend them anyway.”
Come Thanksgiving I wanted to go home for dinner with all the family. The kids got permission, and they brought Grant’s station wagon and put me on a stretcher in the back of it, and I went home for Thanksgiving. I couldn’t stay very long. They got me back okay, but the next time they tried to open the station wagon, they couldn’t get the back open, and they had to pry it open. I can’t help but think how lucky I was that I wasn’t in it then.
By the 20th of December 1974 I was able to walk a little with a walker, so I was released from the hospital, and Jeniel and Grant took me to their place to stay for a while. I managed to live through all their Christmas and New Year’s parties and had begun to get around pretty well. By 11 January 1975 I decided I wanted to go home. Irene was living with me, and we were sure we could get along all right. I managed real well with the walker, and Irene figured I didn’t need her any longer, and she took off for Tulsa, Oklahoma and stayed for a month with her son who lives down there. Ira’s and Jeniel’s kids were taking turns coming down and staying with me at night. One night they got their wires crossed, and no one came, so I stayed by myself. After that I stayed by myself. It was easier than waiting for the older kids to come home, or to get up early in the morning to get the younger kids off to school.
During the long and dreary months ahead, there were two deaths in the family. My best friend Chlora died 18 January 1975. I was unable to attend her funeral; everyone that could went and left me here alone. It was hard, but I know that Chlora would understand. A little later we received word that my sister Abbie was ill and had to have a heart operation. We got a letter from her the day after she died. She said she didn’t want to have this operation but felt she must. She died the 24th of February 1975. Again I stayed home alone while everyone else went to her funeral.
At this writing (August, 1977) I am able to take care of myself and do a few things for someone else. Time healeth all things. I am so grateful that I can walk. I drive my car and get around town pretty lively.
I haven’t been able to go back to the Temple. I am not able to stand for any length of time, and I can’t go through the sessions.
I go to church and Relief Society. I teach the Mother’s Education Class. I intend to go to the church library tomorrow and with this history finished, I will have my genealogy class complete. Believe me I intend to stick with this class until I have my diploma. I have taken this three times, and I want proof, so I won’t have to take it again.
You might not have gotten this last part of my history, except this is one of the requirements for graduation. Now if I make it another ten years, I’ll probably be asked to finish it again, and since it is so hard for me to say no, I’ll do it.